Feb 06 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: Has Trumphoria Finally Hit a Wall?

When talking about stock markets, there are three rules you have to remember. First, the stock market is not the economy. Second, the stock market is not the economy. Third, the stock market is not the economy.

So the market plunge of the past few days might mean nothing at all. [..]

Still, market turmoil should make us take a hard look at the economy’s prospects. And what the data say, I’d argue, is that at the very least America is heading for a downshift in its growth rate; the available evidence suggests that growth over the next decade will be something like 1.5 percent a year, not the 3 percent Donald Trump and his minions keep promising.

There are also suggestions in the data that risky assets in general — stocks, but also long-term bonds and real estate — may be overpriced. Leaving Bitcoin madness aside, we’re not talking dot-coms in 2000 or houses in 2006. But standard indicators are well above historically normal levels, and a reversion toward those norms could be painful.

Eugene Robinson: The Nunes memo vindicates our worst fears about the GOP

For the sake of argument, let’s take President Trump and his Fox News cheerleaders at their word that they really believe that the memo Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) released Friday reveals a serious assault on our freedoms by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Nah. Just kidding.

It’s simply not possible, on any level, to take seriously the histrionics from Trump and his true-believer allies over the Nunes memo — except as evidence of how far the GOP has plunged into cynicism and madness. [..]

Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, packed so much half-truth and distortion into four short pages that it’s hard to know where to begin. His hope must have been that everyone would get lost in thick weeds of arcane detail, losing sight of the big picture. Which is not a picture at all.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Another Trump failure: Infrastructure

President Trump’s address to Congress last Tuesday was predictably loaded with falsehoods and malice. Between dissembling on the economy and vilifying immigrants, however, Trump did make room for one conspicuous show of bipartisanship. “I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” he said.

Trump has been promising to rebuild the nation’s dangerously outdated infrastructure for nearly three years now. “We’re becoming a Third World country,” he declared during his campaign announcement, “because of our infrastructure.” During his inaugural address, Trump bemoaned that “America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay,” pledging to “build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.” As of last week’s State of the Union, the new infrastructure, like Trump’s name on the facade of a skyscraper, will be “gleaming.”

The problem is that Trump has failed to put forward anything that remotely resembles a credible plan. Instead, he’s attempting to pass off a privatization scheme as a public works project.

Michelle Goldberg: Go Ahead, Criticize #MeToo

During the 2016 presidential campaign, I went to Donald Trump rallies in the Midwest, the South and on the East Coast. At all of them, I’d ask Trump fans what was bothering them about American life. By far the most common reply was: too much political correctness.

People kept complaining that they could no longer say what they really thought. I’d ask what they couldn’t say, but they usually wouldn’t answer. Then I’d ask who was stopping them, and they inevitably talked about being criticized for their political opinions on social media.

I thought of all those people, embittered and baffled to suddenly find themselves subject to a code of speech and manners that they neither understood nor consented to, as I read Katie Roiphe’s new essay in Harper’s Magazine, “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter Feminism Is Bad for Women,” which faults parts of the #MeToo movement for excessive hostility toward men, and for accepting all accusations at face value. In it, she also thought about Trump voters, but she compares them to furious online feminists: “Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: The loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.” [..]

“Can you see why some of us are whispering?” asks Roiphe in her Harper’s piece, citing angry things Donegan has written online. “It is the sense of viciousness lying in wait, of violent hate just waiting to be unfurled, that leads people to keep their opinions to themselves, or to share them only with close friends.”

Certainly, social media is a grotesque netherworld of bad faith and cruelty. But as ugly as the intellectual environment is online, if people are truly whispering their discomfort with #MeToo, why are they so easy to hear?

Walter Shapiro: The Nunes memo shows Republicans buy their own conspiracy theories

The Piltdown man – perhaps the most famous fraud in the history of paleontology –combined a 600-year-old skull, an orangutan’s jaw and a chimpanzee’s tooth to feign being the remains of the Missing Link between man and the apes.

Now, more than a century later, the Piltdown man has come to US politics with Friday’s release of a declassified memo by Devin Nunes, the chairman of the misnamed House intelligence committee. The Nunes memo connects mismatched shards to suggest a missing link between Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and the Hillary Clinton campaign’s efforts to discredit Donald Trump.

The triggering event was a 21 October 2016, foreign intelligence surveillance court (Fisa) warrant for electronic surveillance of Carter Page, an energy consultant and sometime Trump adviser who had been under FBI scrutiny since 2013. According to the Nunes memo, a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele and partly funded by the Clinton campaign was “an essential part” of the rationale for the warrant.