Oct 20 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: Trump, Trade and Tantrums

Everyone here wants to know what’s going to happen to Nafta — the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has closely linked the economies of Mexico, Canada and the United States for more than two decades. Donald Trump has described Nafta as the “worst trade deal ever made.” But will he actually destroy it?

Until just a few days ago I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t. My guess was that he would negotiate some minor changes to the agreement, declare victory and move on. Markets seemed to agree: The Mexican peso plunged after Trump’s election but then rebounded, effectively reaching the verdict that nothing terrible would happen.

But I’ve been revising that view in light of recent events — especially Trump’s health care temper tantrum. Breaking up Nafta would be terrible for Mexico and bad for the U.S. It would horrify major U.S. business interests, which have spent two decades building their competitive strategies around an integrated North American market. But it might be good for Trump’s fragile ego. And that’s a reason to fear the worst.

Ross Barkan: The blood on George W Bush’s hands will never dry. Don’t glorify this man

For liberals across the spectrum, the temptation is real. Donald Trump is our child-king, slobbering over the country and embarrassing us all. He is parody made real, a lackey for right-wing billionaires everywhere. It’s not hard to find a talking head on the left who will say he is, without question, the worst president America has ever had.

But don’t make that easy mistake. Especially not now as Bush, our 43rd president, rears his head from retirement to denounce his bombastic successor. At a speech in New York on Thursday, Bush set Democratic heart strings aflutter when he declared that “we’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty.” [..]

There is a certain strain of conventional political wisdom exploited by the likes of Bush. It prizes optics over action, appearances over reality. Bush was a soft-spoken president, a nice enough seeming man, and typically politically correct. Well-coiffed and gimlet-eyed, he resembled a screenwriter’s conception of an American president.

And he caused far more harm to the country and planet than Trump has so far, and maybe ever will. It was under Bush that America invaded Iraq, murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, and destabilized the Middle East so thoroughly that it may take the entire 21st century to recover.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s mindless cruelty to a soldier’s widow speaks to the core of his character

One person who obviously didn’t know “what he was signing up for” is President Trump. Others include Trump voters who believed they were electing a decent human being to be commander in chief.

What Trump reportedly said to the grief-stricken widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who gave his life for his country, is not some kind of minor miscue or media-fueled distraction. It speaks to the core issue of Trump’s character and demonstrates, as clearly as any incident to date, his unfitness for the office he holds — and dishonors. [..]

For 12 days, Trump said nothing, not even a tweet, about the four Americans killed in action, and had no contact with the loved ones they had left behind. Pressed by reporters to explain his silence, Trump reacted by slandering his predecessors, especially President Barack Obama, falsely claiming that they, too, neglected to console the families of the fallen.

Ameer Hasan Loggins: A fallen black soldier being disrespected? That’s not an aberration in America

Donald Trump’s reported response to Myeshia Johnson, widow of slain soldier Sergeant La David Johnson, has the 45th president of the United States in the thick of yet another controversy. According to Frederica Wilson, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, Trump said to the grieving widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for”. [..]

I looked at the face of Sergeant Johnson, forever frozen in a picture. I recognized a black family in pain, and while Trump’s voice bounced around my brain saying “he must have known what he signed up for”, I found myself finishing his sentence, thinking: “Yes, he sadly signed up to be a part of history riddled with black military veterans being disrespected in the United States.”

The close of the civil war marked a rejuvenated reign of racialized terror levied on black individuals and communities in America. After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865, thousands of black children, women, and men were slaughtered as a violent response to freedom for former enslaved black people.

Jay Michaelson: The NFL Is Right, Trump Is Wrong: Dissenting Players Are Patriotic

The National Football League, caught in a tight spot between patriotic fans and a diverse group of players, decided Wednesday not to penalize players for kneeling during the national anthem.

In response, President Trump tweeted:

The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!

In fact, as others have noted, kneeling for the anthem is a sign of respect, not disrespect, for our country and the values it stands for. Now is the time for football fans to rise to the occasion, even as our president is unable to do so.

To protest—for whatever cause, left or right wing—is to make real the best ideals of America: freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law. Protesting brings those ideals into reality. It is the opposite of disrespect and despair: It is to call our country to account, and to say that we can do better. Dissent is patriotic, because it affirms that our country is worth fighting for.