Apr 02 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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Charles M. Blow: Stephon Clark: Rhythms of Tragedy

As the California sun burned away the haze on Easter Eve, a few hundred people gathered at yet another rally for Stephon Clark at the picturesque Cesar E. Chavez Plaza across from City Hall.

Clark is the unarmed black man, a young father of two boys, who was shot to death two weeks ago in his grandmother’s backyard.

The police were investigating a vandalism complaint when they encountered Clark, firing 20 shots at him. According to an independent autopsy commissioned by Clark’s family, eight of the bullets found their mark, six of them entering his body through his back. No weapon was found on Clark — only his cellphone.

People showed up with placards and optimism for change and justice, but dogged by the shadow of other such shootings where legal accountability has been thwarted.

I try to come to each of these moments with a fresh perspective, but I am undermined and betrayed by having covered too many of them. [..]

ach protest is undoubtedly about the case at hand, but collectively they are also about communities that feel abused and betrayed in a country that sees them as expendable. It is not a “local matter,” as the White House suggested last week, but a national disgrace.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: This Is What Makes John Bolton So Dangerous

Snowpocalypse.” “Robo-apocalypse.” “Retail apocalypse.”

Casual references to annihilation pop up every day in American life. That makes it harder to communicate the danger posed by Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor

Bolton has poor judgement, a mean spirit, and an intellect that’s weaker than he thinks. He spreads ethnic hatred and argues for sending others to fight and die.

This weekend, young people around the country stood up against gun violence in their schools. Bolton’s appointment tells us that senseless violence may soon dominate our foreign policy, too, even more than it already does.

Bolton seems to pursue Machiavelli’s dictum that “it is much safer to be feared than loved.” But it’s not safer. As we’ve learned from Bolton’s past mistakes, foolish wars bring fresh dangers as well as needless tragedies.

Machiavelli also said, “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” This appointment confirms what many of us already thought about Trump’s intelligence.

But Bolton’s no Trumpian deviation from social or political norms. He’s a political insider, beloved by think-tankers and mainstream media outlets alike. They’re already clucking their tongues in disapproval at Bolton’s appointment, but it’s all for show.

Bolton’s one of them.

Michelle Chen: Trump Wants to Reframe the Census to Fit His Definition of America, Not Protect Americans

The purpose of an accurate census count is to help the government understand the people for whom it is responsible — full stop. A fully inclusive census is vital for informing policy-making, whether determining how many roadways are required for a region’s population, monitoring local public health trends or ensuring our tax dollars are fairly allocated to school districts.

Trump’s move to add a citizenship question to the census — announced this week by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — follows months of intense opposition across Washington and civil society. Asking about citizenship status (a question that federal authorities have deliberately left off the census since 1950) risks alienating many prospective respondents and depressing the count of our population. Despite seemingly neutral wording, under an administration that is notoriously hostile to immigrants, the question shades the otherwise banal census form with a chilling tone of “papers, please.”

Reinstating the citizenship question isn’t a mere bureaucratic tweak, but the soft edge of Trump’s agenda to further isolate and disenfranchise immigrant communities.

Dean Baker: Roger Lowenstein, F**k Your Stock Portfolio

I realize it would be too much to ask that people who write on economics for major news outlets have any clue about how the economy works. I say that seriously; I have been commenting on economic reporting for more than two decades. Being a writer on economics is not like being a custodian or bus driver where you have to meet certain standards. The right family or friends can get you the job and there is virtually no risk of losing it as a result of inadequate performance.

But Roger Lowenstein performs a valuable service for us in the Washington Post this morning when he unambiguously equates the value of the stock market with the country’s economic well-being. It seems that Mr. Lowenstein is unhappy that Donald Trump’s recent tariff proposals sent the market plummeting. The piece is titled, “when the president tanks your stock portfolio.” It holds up Trump’s tariff plans as a uniquely irresponsible act because of its impact on stock prices.

Okay, let’s step back for a moment ask what the stock market is supposed to be telling us. The stock market is not a measure of economic well-being even in principle. It is ostensibly a measure of the value of future corporate profits, nothing more.

Robert Leonard: Will Trump Crash the Farm Economy?

Donald Trump won over 60 percent of the 2016 vote in rural Iowa, where I live, and I haven’t heard much concern from Republicans over the president’s alleged infidelities with a porn actress, his ties to Russia or Jared Kushner’s real estate shenanigans. [..]

But people here — Republicans and Democrats alike — are paying great attention to what President Trump is doing economically, especially since he started in on tariffs. We have a strong manufacturing base in our county; when tariffs on aluminum and steel were announced, local manufacturing leaders tried to be diplomatic, praising the Trump tax cuts but saying the steel and aluminum tariffs would hurt their businesses by driving costs up.

One smaller manufacturer — a Trump voter — told me that his costs to produce his product nearly doubled overnight, and that his business has already been hurt by the tariffs. Prices didn’t rise only after the tariffs were announced; they started rising when Mr. Trump floated the idea.

But it’s the farm economy that rural Iowans are paying particular attention to. When the president first proposed a 20 percent import tax on Mexico to pay for his wall, Iowans objected: Mexico is our second-largest export partner after Canada.