Feb 09 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: Fraudulence of the Fiscal Hawks

In 2011, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, issued a report full of dire warnings about the dangers of budget deficits. “The United States is facing a crushing burden of debt,” it declared, warning of a looming fiscal crisis that might soon “capsize” the economy. Citing the horrors of big deficits, Republicans refused to raise the federal debt ceiling, threatening to create financial turmoil and effectively blackmailing President Barack Obama into cutting spending on domestic programs.

How big were these horrifying deficits? In the 2012 fiscal year the federal deficit was $1.09 trillion. Much of this deficit, however, was a direct result of a depressed economy, which held down revenues and increased outlays on unemployment benefits and other safety-net programs. The deficit fell rapidly over the next few years as the economy recovered.

This week Republicans, having just enacted a huge tax cut, cheerfully agreed to a budget deal that, according to independent experts, will push next year’s deficit up to around $1.15 trillion — bigger than in 2012. True, this won’t quite match 2012’s red ink as a percentage of G.D.P.; but this time none of the deficit will be a result of a depressed economy.

Charles M. Blow: Lie, Exploit and Destroy

Donald Trump has a particular skill, one rooted in his weaknesses: Because he eschews intellectualism for intuition, because he prefers to watch rather than to read, he has honed his talent for reflexive reductionism.

Nuance and complexity are founts of confusion in Trump’s basest mind. So he gravitates to the most emotionally charged parts of any issue and amplifies them.

This is an essential function of branding: to capture a feeling in its purest form, to connect on a visceral level with a viewer, to compel an action.

Trumpism in a way is about emotion over information. It is about heat over light. It is about hostility over comity.

And it is divorced from the rigors of truth and honesty. It exists as a near ecclesiastical devotion in a space where passionate faith surmounts accuracy and science.

In this space, everything must exist at the extremes, or not at all. Everything is love or hate, big or little, best or worst. And, everything is very, very, very.

Michelle Goldberg: Rob Porter Is Donald Trump’s Kind of Guy

On Wednesday, we learned that during a 2017 background check for the former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, his two ex-wives both told the F.B.I. that he had abused them. His first wife, Colbie Holderness, gave the F.B.I. a photo of her with a black eye, a result, she said, of Porter punching her in the face during a vacation in 2005. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, shared a 2010 emergency protective order she’d received after he punched in the glass on her door while they were separated.

The White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly knew about these allegations, which are said to be the reason the F.B.I. never gave Porter a full security clearance, ordinarily a prerequisite for his job. Nevertheless, Porter’s past was apparently not considered a problem inside the White House until it became public. This tells us quite a bit about how seriously this administration takes violence against women. [..]

Even if you put aside questions of morality — which most people working for Donald Trump have already done — a staff secretary who can’t qualify for a security clearance because of his personal life is a serious security risk. Among other things, such a person could be subject to blackmail.

Eugene Robinson: What’s Trump’s parade really about? His bottomless insecurity.

Well, of course the president who claimed bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam War wants the biggest, bestest military parade ever, with lots of tanks and rockets and flags — zillions of flags — and fighter jets screaming overhead. Why is anyone surprised?

We should have seen it coming. And be careful, parade-watchers: As far as Dear Leader Trump is concerned, anyone who fails to cheer as the bands play and the troops march by will surely be guilty of treason.

It was entirely predictable to learn, thanks to The Post, that Trump has been hectoring the nation’s top military leaders to give him a huge martial parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, complete with heavy weapons. Trump envisions a display of military might like the parades we used to see file past the Kremlin reviewing stand in the days of the Soviet Union — and like the somewhat less grim procession he jealously witnessed in Paris on Bastille Day.

Catherine Rampell: Republicans’ fiscal flip-flop is breathtakingly ill-timed

Republicans’ plan to Make Deficits Great Again is not merely hypocritical. It’s also terrible policy. Or at least terribly, breathtakingly ill-timed.

In 2009, a few weeks after Barack Obama took office, a Republican political movement — one supposedly grounded in fiscal conservatism — was born.

Sure, the country was teetering on the edge of another Great Depression, a circumstance that would normally call for aggressive fiscal stimulus. Tea party Republicans, however, demanded belt-tightening. They wanted a government that stopped spending beyond its means. That meant, above all, reducing federal debt.

Maybe even passing a balanced- budget amendment!

Curiously, in the past few months, all those fiscal hawks have flown the coop.

The federal government is on track to borrow $1 trillion this year, roughly double what it borrowed last year.