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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Michelle Goldberg: Please Don’t Call Him Presidential

After a tumultuous and divisive year in office, Donald Trump has the opportunity for a fresh start with his first State of the Union address on Tuesday. The president can surprise those who think the worst of him, and prove that he’s been underestimated. All he has to do is apologize to his fellow Americans for the shame he’s brought upon this country, and resign effective immediately.

Since that’s not going to happen, I’m begging my fellow pundits not to get too excited should Trump manage to read from a teleprompter without foaming at the mouth or saying anything overtly racist. No matter how well Trump delivers the lines in his State of the Union — announced theme: “Building a safe, strong and proud America” — he will not become presidential. There will be no turning of corners or uniting the country. At best, Trump will succeed in impersonating a minimally competent leader for roughly the length of an episode of “The Apprentice.” And if he does, recent history suggests that he will be praised as the second coming of Lincoln.

Eugene Robinson: Trump is trying to Make America White Again

President Trump’s immigration proposal reveals what he has been after all along: an end to family-based immigration and the “lottery visa,” which would mean fewer Latino, African and Muslim newcomers. And perhaps more Norwegians, if any want to come.

Yes, Trump is trying to Make America White Again. You’re probably not surprised.

The broad amnesty that the White House offers to 1.8 million undocumented people brought here when they were children is just a diversion. The $25 billion Trump wants for his “border wall system” — really more of an intermittent fence — is mostly a sop to his base. Much more important in the long run is the fundamental shift Trump wants to make in the nation’s system of legal immigration.

The administration seeks to drastically curtail the ability of immigrants to sponsor family members for entry into the country. This can only be seen as an attempt to halt the “browning” of America.

Paul Krugman: Bubble, Bubble, Fraud and Trouble

The other day my barber asked me whether he should put all his money in Bitcoin. And the truth is that if he’d bought Bitcoin, say, a year ago he’d be feeling pretty good right now. On the other hand, Dutch speculators who bought tulip bulbs in 1635 also felt pretty good for a while, until tulip prices collapsed in early 1637.

So is Bitcoin a giant bubble that will end in grief? Yes. But it’s a bubble wrapped in techno-mysticism inside a cocoon of libertarian ideology. And there’s something to be learned about the times we live in by peeling away that wrapping.

If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of Bitcoin, it’s the biggest, best-known example of a “cryptocurrency”: an asset that has no physical existence, consisting of nothing but a digital record stored on computers. What makes cryptocurrencies different from ordinary bank accounts, which are also nothing but digital records, is that they don’t reside in the servers of any particular financial institution. Instead, a Bitcoin’s existence is documented by records distributed in many places.

And your ownership isn’t verified by proving (and hence revealing) your identity. Instead, ownership of a Bitcoin is verified by possession of a secret password, which — using techniques derived from cryptography, the art of writing or solving codes — lets you access that virtual coin without revealing any information you don’t choose to.

It’s a nifty trick. But what is it good for?

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s immigration ‘compromise’ is a trick

The White House’s immigration plan is not a “compromise.” It’s not a “generous” deal for Democrats, and it’s not full of “concessions.” It’s a sleight of hand designed to help the far right shove through sharp new limits on legal immigration, under the pretense of moderation and reasonableness.

Supposedly this immigration framework includes “concessions” to Democrats because it involves protections for “dreamers,” the young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children.

But here’s the thing: Nearly everyone, Democrat and Republican, wants to protect dreamers.

President Trump included.

Richard Wolffe: Trump still doesn’t understand why ‘you’re fired’ can’t work like it did on TV

Donald Trump has a problem with reality. To be specific, he has a problem distinguishing reality television from reality. With each passing news cycle, it’s alarmingly clear that he believes in his own character from the fantasy show known as The Apprentice.

Now, most viewers above the age of four have already figured out there’s a certain artifice to the world of TV. There’s the dramatic music and the heavy editing, the make-up and the lights, and of course the word “show”, which gives away the whole game.

But our commander-in-chief sees something else when he stares into the screen during his many daily hours of executive time inside the White House. He sees a window on the world in which he can utter his catchphrase and people just disappear, along with all their problems.

“You’re fired!” worked so well on The Apprentice. Why shouldn’t it work so well with the multiple investigations into all these allegations of collusion with the Russian government, money laundering through his real estate business, obstruction of justice and his chaotic management of the executive branch of government?