Jan 19 2018

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: The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics

Back in the depths of the Cold War, people used to talk about “doomsday machines,” devices that could destroy the world. What would be the use of such a device, since anyone using it would destroy himself, too? Well, the main idea was that it could provide deterrence.

But there was also the notion that a madman with access to such a device could use it for blackmail: “Give me what I want or I’ll blow everything up.”

The good news is that this never happened on the nuclear front. The bad news is that a form of doomsday-machine politics — in which you threaten to blow up things that you care about, because you think your rivals care about them more — is playing out in Washington right now, courtesy of the Republican Party. [..]

Democrats should just say no. These tactics cannot be allowed to succeed.

For once doomsday-machine politics becomes the norm, anything is fair game. Give us what we want, or we’ll cut off Medicare. Give us what we want, or we’ll destroy Social Security.

Charles M. Blow: John Kelly, Deacon of Deportation

People correctly direct their ire about Donald Trump’s hostile, racist, anti-immigrant policies at Trump himself because, after all, this starts at the top.

But there is someone else in the administration, behind the scenes and in the shadows, who deserves more scrutiny and more condemnation for this administration’s approach to immigration: Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Kelly is often referred to as the man who was brought to the West Wing to impose must-needed discipline on a chaotic White House. He was the access granter and mood regulator for Trump. He was the adult to Trump’s child. He was the former general who had honorably served his country, now brought in to save it. [..]

I am no fan of John Kelly. As I have said before, I think he is one of the most dangerous men in America. On this issue of Trump’s racist immigration and deportation policy, he is not only complicit, he is a co-conspirator.

Eugene Robinson: The man-child in the White House reels wildly out of control

The rude, petulant man-child in the Oval Office is reeling ever more wildly out of control, and those who cynically or slavishly pretend otherwise are doing a grave disservice to the nation — and to themselves.

How do you like him now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? President Trump convened a made-for-television summit at the White House and said he’d sign any immigration bill Congress passed. “I’ll take the heat,” he boasted. So a bipartisan group of senators came up with a deal — and he rejected it out of hand, launching into an unhinged rant about “shithole countries.”

What about you, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan? You came up with a clever way to get Democrats to agree to a stopgap funding bill, dangling the possibility of a long-term renewal of the vital Children’s Health Insurance Program. But the president tweeted that “CHIP should be part of a long term solution” and not a short-term measure to keep the government from shutting down. [..]

The nation has never faced a situation like this: It is unwise to take literally or seriously anything the president and his official spokesmen say. An administration with no credibility cannot possibly lead.

Trump is incapable of growing into the job; if anything, he is becoming more erratic. I fear the day when a crisis arises and we must face it with a bratty preteen at the helm.

Catherine Rampell: The GOP tax law doesn’t just hurt blue states. It hurts everyone.

There’s a perception out there that the new GOP tax law screws over only blue states.

That’s wrong.

It creates huge political problems for almost every state. With relatively little fanfare, Congress effectively sent ticking time bombs to statehouses across the country, which are scrambling to assess and contain the damage.

Yes, it’s true that the federal law’s new limits on state and local tax deductions disproportionately hurt high-tax, mostly Democratic states.

New YorkNew Jersey and California are all now exploring workarounds, such as essentially reclassifying state taxes as charitable contributions. (It’s not clear yet that the IRS will buy this scheme.)

There are, however, lots of other ways the federal law will scramble blue- and red-state budgets — and plunge some of them deeper into fiscal and political crisis. During an election year, no less.

Why? To keep things simpler for taxpayers, most state tax codes are automatically linked to the federal tax code.

Michael Winship: There’s a White House—and GOP—Fungus Among Us

Cruelty and recklessness – those are the two sins of which attorney Joseph Welch accused Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954 when, having had enough of the Republican’s redbaiting smears, Welsh famously asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

More than sixty years later, we have as president a monumental blockhead for whom decency is non-existent, a King Kong-wannabe who gives a bad name to the rest of us primates. He hurls his gorilla dust in every direction, at one moment name calling and insulting anyone who dares defy him and in the next feeding his ego with unctuous, self-deceptive praise. With rare exception, the Republican Party kowtows to his whims, placing avarice and expediency above principle and patriotism.

The role of the president should be to advance the national discourse, not to encourage its basest Darwinian instincts. But as others have noted, his childish behaviors too often distract from the reality of this presidency’s unique brand of cruelty and recklessness, actions carried out not only at the behest of Trump but also acquiesced to and approved by his administrators and the Republican members of Congress who have determined “it’s best to accept him for who he is” –- the advice House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has given colleagues.