Feb 13 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: Trump Doesn’t Give a Dam

Donald Trump doesn’t give a dam. Or a bridge. Or a road. Or a sewer system. Or any of the other things we talk about when we talk about infrastructure.

But how can that be when he just announced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan? That’s easy: It’s not a plan, it’s a scam. The $1.5 trillion number is just made up; he’s only proposing federal spending of $200 billion, which is somehow supposed to magically induce a vastly bigger overall increase in infrastructure investment, mainly paid for either by state and local governments (which are not exactly rolling in cash, but whatever) or by the private sector.

And even the $200 billion is essentially fraudulent: The budget proposal announced the same day doesn’t just impose savage cuts on the poor, it includes sharp cuts for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and other agencies that would be crucially involved in any real infrastructure plan. Realistically, Trump’s offer on infrastructure is this: nothing.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Nuclear Posture Review signals a new arms race

On Friday, the Pentagon released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Its debut demands more attention, because it announced a renewed round in the nuclear arms race, one inevitably bringing us ever closer to the unthinkable — a nuclear war of catastrophic consequences.

The review clearly seeks to calm fears about President Trump’s finger on the nuclear trigger. Ignoring the many accidents and close calls during the Cold War, the review asserts that the United States has “measures and protocols” to ensure that intercontinental ballistic missiles are “safe, secure and under constant control.” Furthermore, the Pentagon says that “any U.S. decision to employ nuclear weapons would follow a deliberative process.” Despite these assurances, the review’s plans for the nuclear arsenal and nuclear strategy should rouse alarms and spark congressional hearings and public debate. [..]

The Trump administration goes beyond President Barack Obama’s buildup by enhancing America’s “non-strategic nuclear forces,” that is, lower-yield nuclear bombs, on the order of those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The stated rationale is to correct an imaginary Russian misperception that greater capacity in this area could give them the possibility of successfully waging a limited nuclear war. The buildup will give the president — yes, Donald Trump — nuclear weapons that are theoretically more usable in a regional conflict.

Eugene Robinson: Trump tells a lot of little lies. This is the big one.

The Trump administration is an aberration, an outrage, a threat to the nation’s very soul. But most of all, it’s a great big fraud.

Voters who thought President Trump would at least try to fulfill his populist, America-first campaign promises were cynically and cruelly deceived. Trump placates these supporters with rhetoric, distracts them with cultural warfare and encourages them to seek refuge in cultural chauvinism. What he doesn’t do for them is deliver.

The most recent evidence of Trump’s dishonesty comes in the budget and infrastructure plans the administration released Monday. Both are half smoke-and-mirrors, half traditional Republican economic policy. Forgive the redundancy.

Remember how the president promised a $1 trillion program to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and railroads? Well, he claims to be doing even more — $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next decade. But the promise comes with little or no new federal money, which means it barely qualifies as an idle wish.

Catherine Rampell: Trump hates deficits — unless they help rich people

When are deficits good?

When they fund tax cuts for donors and rich people.

When are deficits “dangerous”?

When they fund health care for poor people and children, training for workers, and infrastructure and other long-term investments in our economy.

That is the worldview of late of the Trump administration, based on the budget proposal it released Monday and recent comments from its chief budget honcho, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (who also happens to be working part-time dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).

On “Fox News Sunday,” Mulvaney touted the virtues of the newly passed Republican tax cuts, which punched a $1.5 trillion-size hole in the budget over the coming decade. This is a plutocratic law that primarily benefits the wealthiest Americans (and foreigners, for that matter), with more than 80 percent of tax cuts going to the top 1 percent by 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center.

It’s also incredibly ill-timed, given that it amounts to a major fiscal stimulus when the economy is doing well. Normally, you pass a stimulus when the economy is underperforming — as was the case back in 2009, when Mulvaney railed against President Barack Obama’s stimulus proposals.

Jill Filipovic: The White House cries crocodile tears over ‘due process’

In a fascinating 180-degree turn, Donald Trump is suddenly concerned with due process and the presumption of innocence.

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” the president tweeted on Saturday. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

This distress over lives impeded by allegations of wrongdoing is particularly fascinating coming from a man who campaigned on the promise of imprisoning his political opponent and chants of “lock her up,” despite multiple investigations of Hillary Clinton yielding no criminal offenses; Trump is also notorious for taking out full-page ads in New York newspapers demanding the death penalty for five young men accused of raping a woman in Central Park.