Apr 05 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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Max Boot: The ‘caravan’ of migrants is not a threat. But Trump would rather ignore real crises.

Hide your valuables! Safeguard your women! Flee for the hills! The Visigoths are at the gates. We’re all doomed!

That, roughly, is the message that President Trump conveyed this week with his incessant tweeting — hysterical, cowardly, inhumane and deranged in equal parts — about the “caravan” of Central American migrants making their way through Mexico toward the United States [..]

The president’s message — that just 1,000 refugees pose an existential threat to the world’s sole superpower — is yet another example of the xenophobia he uses to galvanize his white, working-class base. He is showing once again that he lacks both the humanity and perspective that we expect in a president.

Of all the threats in the world, Trump chooses to focus on a few migrants who are, in truth, no threat at all. What is he ignoring? Well, let’s see. A trade war with China that has rattled markets. Russia’s attempted assassinations in Britain. Russian and Iranian war crimes in Syria. The Saudi war in Yemen. The U.S. war in Afghanistan. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. An election in Iraq. Insurgencies in Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Libya and other countries. Shouldn’t Trump be spending his time cramming for his summit with Kim Jong Un and figuring out what to do about the Iranian nuclear deal — rather than demonizing helpless refugees?

Like many a would-be authoritarian before him, Trump ignores the real threats that his country faces, preferring to manufacture nonexistent crises that enable him to play on popular prejudice to consolidate his own power.

Charles M. Blow: Trump, Driven by Fear


We now have a president whose actions are governed by emotions: envy, vanity, guilt, hatred and, chief among them, fear.

Donald Trump seems to have become shaken by fear that his base might abandon him because of his inability to deliver on his signature promises, like the construction of a border wall between this country and Mexico. (Completely gone is the suggestion that Mexico would pay for this ridiculous boondoggle.)

So he has been on a tear, resurrecting the even more nationalist, isolationist Trump of the campaign.

He has pushed us to the teetering verge of a trade war, has suggested that we hasten withdrawal from Syria, has recommended that we send “the military” to the southern border and railed against caravans of brown people heading our way.

To a large degree, he appears to be making policy from the podium, responding to the propaganda organ Fox News and bouncing ideas off a small circle of loyalists. His cabinet and the White House are left to respond to what Trump says on the fly and develop that into a quasi-coherent policy.

This is no way to run a country, unless your intention is to run it into the ground.

This is now the American quandary: The wheels of government are being forced to turn on the erratic whims of an egomaniac.

Matt Bruenig: Why we need social housing in the US

The debate about how to resolve our nation’s housing crisis is stuck in a frustrating rut. One side of the divide, calling themselves yimbys (Yes in my back yard), say we should allow private developers to build more housing units. On the other side of the divide are anti-gentrification campaigners who maintain that unleashed private developers will construct luxury housing that pushes up neighborhood rents and displaces local residents.

What makes this debate so intractable is that both sides have a point. The only way to fit more people into an area is to build more housing units. This is just how physical reality works. At the same time, we have seen neighborhoods across the country change rapidly after an initial stage of new developments or amenities made living in the surrounding housing units more attractive to affluent renters. Adding luxury housing units can bring down the rents of an overall region while simultaneously raising them in a specific neighborhood, causing displacement.

Jill Abramson: Trump’s feud with Amazon is really about the Washington Post’s success

Donald Trump’s savage attacks on Jeff Bezos and Amazon mark a sharp escalation in the president’s attacks on the free press. Trump v Bezos is really a proxy war: the president’s ultimate target is the Washington Post, which Bezos purchased from the Graham family in 2013.

The Post’s return to financial health since 2013 has been good for the media, which thrives on healthy competition. Since Trump became president, the Post and the New York Times have engaged in a thrilling, old-fashioned newspaper war, with each trading off, day after day, with deeply reported stories and scoops that hold the Trump administration to account. The Post has been relentless in investigating the Trump administration’s abuse of power and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. [..]

Amazon is no angel, but Trump’s urge to punish it is for all the wrong reasons, triggered by his churlishness over the Post’s coverage of him and his administration. All of this could create a confrontation with the potential to be every bit as dramatic as Graham’s clashes with Nixon in the 70s. But as was true then, the president may end up being on the losing end of a White House war against the press.