Oct 06 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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Paul Krugman: Will Trump Trumpify the Fed?

By all accounts, Rex Tillerson has demoralized and degraded the State Department to the point of uselessness. Tom Price did much the same to Health and Human Services before jetting off. Scott Pruitt has moved rapidly to eliminate the “protection” aspect of the Environmental Protection Agency. And similar stories are unfolding throughout the executive branch.

Donald Trump has, in short, been like a Category 5 hurricane sweeping through the U.S. government, leaving devastation in his wake. And one question I don’t see being asked often enough is, will the same thing happen to the Federal Reserve? And if it does, how disastrous will that end up being for the world economy?

The Fed, which sets monetary policy, is by far our most important economic agency; its chairwoman (or chairman) is arguably the most powerful economic official in the world, more than the president himself. Its institutional status is peculiar: It isn’t exactly part of the executive branch, but it isn’t exactly independent, either. Its board members are appointed by the president subject to congressional approval, but have traditionally been technocrats expected to distance themselves from partisan politics.

That is, however, a norm rather than a legal requirement. And we know what tends to happen to norms in the Trump era.

Bret Stephens: Repeal the Second Amendment

I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.

From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

From a personal-safety standpoint, more guns means less safety. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 77 and 141 of those killed were children.

From a national-security standpoint, the Amendment’s suggestion that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State,” is quaint. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.

Eugene Robinson: Loyalty to Trump isn’t enough

Do President Trump’s Cabinet members have to call him “Dear Leader” when graced by his august presence? Must they enter the Oval Office on bended knee? Do they weep with joy when he reaches out a delicate hand and pats their bowed heads?

One of the most appalling aspects of the Trump presidency is the sycophancy he requires of the officials who serve him. Trump demands not just loyalty but flattery, too. He insists that his courtiers treat his pronouncements, however absurd or offensive, as infallible holy writ. Members of his Cabinet have made a humiliating bargain: humor him, suck up to him, and maybe — just maybe — he will leave you alone and let you make policy.

Or maybe not. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been working as best he knows how to address the issue of North Korea’s nuclear program through diplomacy. Trump undercut him with a tweet, saying Tillerson was “wasting his time.”

Charles M.Blow: Blood Pact With the N.R.A.

We are once again in the throes of a worn and increasingly fruitless post-massacre protocol that ritualizes our stages of grief and anesthetizes our expectations of action.

On Sunday night, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, taking a sniper’s position on the32nd floor of a hotel, rained bullets down on a country music concert, killing 59 at latest count and injuring over 500 others.

We have had our initial shock and outrage. We have had our sending of prayers, our thoughts-are-with-yous, moments of silence and mournful vigils.

We have had our recognizing of heroes, honoring of emergency medical workers and praising of community spirit.

We have had — and continue to have — our partisan thirst to understand the motive, but just as important, to see if we can hang the murders like an albatross around the neck of political opponents.

And we have had the ridiculous debate about when the right time is to talk about the American gun fetish and how to help prevent future attacks.

I call this part ridiculous because there is not another word for it. What does it mean to say “Don’t politicize the shooting”? Politics is why there has been no substantial federal movement on gun control in recent decades. Politics is why the National Rifle Association greases palms and raps knuckles. Politics is why we are here. Everything in America is political.

Also, anytime an American uses a gun to kill another American, that is precisely the right time to talk about how to prevent that from happening again.

Rachel Shabi: Get Ready for Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn

If you wanted to write a spoof of Britain’s Conservatives, you’d struggle to do a better job than the real version at the party’s half-empty annual conference this week in Manchester.

Things hit such train-wreck levels that even the stage fell apart — during a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May, the Conservatives’ leader, letters fell off the party’s latest lackluster slogan behind her. That was just the final slapstick touch to a disastrous address, during which Mrs. May struggled with a fading voice and a spluttering cough, and was pranked by a comedian who handed her a fake P45 — a termination of employment notice.

It was a fitting close to a conference that highlighted the extent to which the Conservatives are in free-fall, and the degree to which Mrs. May’s days as party leader are numbered.

That all stood in stark contrast to Labour’s conference at the seaside town of Brighton a week earlier. There, party leaders were met with rock-star receptions and standing ovations. Packed meetings focused on the policies Labour should first roll out in government, while references to the party leader Jeremy Corbyn as “the next prime minister” sounded not just like peppy campaign talk but a tangible scenario. Events organized through Momentum, the grass-roots group of Corbyn supporters, routinely saw snaking queues. Left-wing politics had the buzz of a music festival and the effervescence of a political force that is tantalizingly close to power.