Jul 18 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.

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Eugene Robinson: This country deserves much better than Trump

It’s exhausting, I know, but don’t let outrage fatigue numb you to the moral bankruptcy and gross incompetence of the Trump administration. This ugly departure from American norms and values must be opposed with sustained passion — and with the knowledge that things will probably get worse before they get better.

Heaven help us, look where we are. We have a president — commander in chief of the armed forces, ostensibly the leader of the free world — whose every word is suspect. President Trump is an inveterate liar. He dismisses provable facts as “fake news” and invents faux facts of his own that bear no relationship to the truth. He simply cannot be trusted.

We have a president whose North Star is naked self-interest, not the good of the country. Trump cares about his family, his company and little else. He dishonors the high office he holds, then reportedly spends hours each day railing against cable-news coverage that he finds insufficiently respectful. His ego is a kind of psychic black hole that devours all who come into its orbit.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Time for sober realism on the U.S.-Russia relationship

The revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer promising derogatory information about Hillary Clinton reaffirms the need for a full accounting of how our democracy may have been subverted in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into claims of Russian interference in the election, Russia’s potential collusion with the Trump campaign and the possibility of criminal malfeasance by President Trump or his associates is essential. Beyond the existing investigation, Democrats should seek an independent commission to lay out steps to protect the integrity of future elections.

None of the above should be controversial. At the same time, there is another set of facts that need to be reckoned with in this precarious moment, concerning the abject failure of U.S. policies toward Russia and the dangerous path down which the two countries are headed. These facts also concern real and present threats and cannot be ignored. Indeed, the crisis we are now facing makes clear that it’s time to fundamentally rethink how we approach our relationship with Russia.

Dean Baker: The Federal Reserve Board: The Best Weapon Against Discrimination?

Most people have little understanding of the Federal Reserve Board. This is unfortunate because it has an enormous impact on the economy and therefore on people’s lives. The Fed’s decisions on interest rate policy can slow the rate of the economy’s growth and bring job creation to a halt, if they choose. Conversely, if the Fed adopts an interest policy to foster growth, then millions more people can have jobs.

The Fed’s impact in this area is not just a question of aggregate job numbers. After all, adding another one million jobs in a labor market with 150 million jobs may not seem like a very big deal. However the job growth that we see as the labor market tightens overwhelmingly benefits the most disadvantaged groups in society.

The additional jobs go disproportionately to those with less education and also to workers who face discrimination in the labor market, specifically African American and Hispanic workers. Along with the increase in job opportunities, these workers are also likely to see more wage gains since the stronger job market improves their bargaining position.

Catherine Rampell: The practical reason to be alarmed by Republican cries of ‘fake news’

We members of the media probably sound a little self-serving when we complain about constant attacks on press freedom.

Press freedom is a sacred democratic value, enshrined right there in the Constitution! we huff to whoever will listen.

Needless to say, lots of Americans remain unconvinced. [..]

Fed a steady diet of media vilification (served up by both left and right), Americans are apparently unmoved by citations of political texts that feel far removed from their daily lives. Maybe, they think, efforts to “open up our libel laws,” dismissals of the lamestream media as “fake news” and even threats of violence against journalists could do the country some good.

To those indifferent to abstract political ideals, let me offer a more practical reason to be alarmed by assaults on media freedom: the fact that the government can, and inevitably will, screw up.

Richard North Patterson: China Is Eating Trump’s Lunch

China’s global aspirations should be no surprise. For centuries, it has seen itself as a civilization apart. Inevitably, Western encroachment bred an indelible resentment of nations which, in China’s view, had usurped its rightful place.

Animated by this sense of destiny thwarted, China’s President Xi Jinping means to restore Chinese dominance in Asia — exemplified by its construction of artificial islands as military bases in the South China Sea — the better to supplant America as the world’s leading geopolitical power. The hope that globalization would create a more benign and democratic China overlooked these deeper impulses.

They are hardly subtle. As the regime’s authoritarianism deepens, China undercuts democracy in Hong Kong, rebuilds its military, moves to control the future of Asia, and expands Chinese economic leverage around the globe.

Enter President Trump.