May 16 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Richard Wolffe: Bragging about our intel to Russia? Trump is too needy to be president

There is nothing Donald Trump loves more than a great superlative. He builds the tallest hotels. He is the most successful businessman. His inaugural crowds were the biggest ever. None of these claims are remotely true, no matter how exaggerated the adjective nor how emphatic the delivery.

But after his alleged blabbing of highly classified intelligence to the Russians, Trump can now lay claim to the greatest superlative of any sitting president: he is the biggest bozo of them all. Bigger than the Bush who thought invading Iraq would be easy. Bigger than the biggest president who got stuck in his bathtub.

Trump is the most unpatriotically reckless, most flamboyantly ignorant, most ludicrously incompetent of them all. Never mind The Apprentice, he’s actually The Biggest Loser.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The U.S. will never win the war in Afghanistan

President Trump hasn’t decided whether to sign off on his generals’ request for more troops for Afghanistan. Ironically, this would be one instance in which Trump — and the country — would benefit from repudiating President Barack Obama’s example. Instead of yet another troop surge in America’s longest war, now heading toward its 16thbirthday, Trump should adopt the advice that then-Sen. George Aiken (R-Vt.) offered about Vietnam in 1966: “Declare victory and get out.”

General John W. Nicholson testified that he wants an additional 5,000 soldiers to break the “stalemate” in Afghanistan. In the first months of his presidency, Obama signed off on a surge that ended with 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. His generals also promised to break the stalemate. Today, the Taliban controls more of the country than it has since 2001. A surge of 5,000 or even 10,000 troops won’t defeat the Taliban. It is simply a recipe for more war without end and without victory.

Why are we still there? We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda. Now bin Laden is dead; al-Qaeda is dispersed; the Taliban has been battered. Afghan civilians have been killed, wounded or displaced in increasing numbers. The United Nations reports that there were more than 11,000 war-related civilian casualties last year, and 660,000 Afghans were displaced, adding to the country’s massive refugee crisis.

Douglas Williams: This is what emboldened white supremacists look like

It was a scene out of the darkest days of the civil rights movement. A couple of dozen white supremacists rallied around a statue of Robert E Lee, a Confederate army general, in Virginia, carrying torches and chanting: “You will not replace us.”

But this was no black-and-white newsreel, relaying the horrors of a time long since past. This grotesque scene played out on Saturday, at a rally headlined by the white supremacist Richard Spencer.

The cause for this neo-Klan rally? The city of Charlottesville’s decision in February to remove the Lee statue from the park that bears his name in the city’s downtown area. The white supremacists also demonstrated at the city’s Festival of Cultures earlier in the day.

Perhaps it is no surprise that, in a state that hosted the capital of the Confederacy for the vast majority of the civil war, decisions around squaring grand monuments to the defenders of slavery with social progress have always been cause for tension.

Eugene Robinson: The only realistic way to stop Trump

The appalling truth about the Trump administration can be found in something Maya Angelou once said to Oprah Winfrey: “My dear, when people show you who they are, why don’t you believe them? Why must you be shown 29 times before you can see who they really are?”

The chaos and dysfunction we have seen since Jan. 20 constitute, I fear, the new normal. Anyone holding out hope for some magical transition from lunacy into sanity will surely be disappointed. President Trump has shown the nation who he is. [..]

We are where we are. Democrats need to flip one or both houses of Congress next year to slow this runaway train. It won’t stop itself.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s worst lie about ‘priming the pump’ isn’t that he made up the expression

President Trump told a whopper about his tax plan this month. But it’s not the one that everyone is focusing on.

In an interview with the Economist, Trump said his expensive proposal to cut taxes was akin to “priming the pump,” a phrase he declared he’d invented just a few days earlier.

Lots of commenters, critics and comedians pounced on this coinage claim. They noted not only that the expression “priming the pump” was in use a century ago, but also that Trump himself uttered the phrase many times before the date he claimed to have devised it.

Fun as it is to mock this silly etymological fib, doing so misses the much larger lie: that Trump’s tax plan is in any way akin to the useful economic policy tool of “pump-priming.” It’s this lie that will help him scam the American public.