Apr 27 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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Jessica Valenti: When Misogynists Become Terrorists

Alek Minassian, who plowed a rental van through a busy Toronto sidewalk on Monday, left little doubt as to why he killed 10 people, most of them women. Minutes before his attack, he posted a message on Facebook lauding the mass murderer Elliot O. Rodger and warned of an “incel rebellion” — a reference to an online community of “involuntarily celibate” men who believe women unjustly deny them sex.

Mr. Rodger, who killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014, recorded YouTube videos raging against “spoiled, stuck-up” women he called “sluts” who sexually rejected him. And before Mr. Rodger, there was George Sodini, who killed three women in a Pennsylvania gym in 2009. He left behind an online diary complaining that women ignored him and that he hadn’t had sex in years.

Despite a great deal of evidence that connects the dots between these mass killers and radical misogynist groups, we still largely refer to the attackers as “lone wolves” — a mistake that ignores the preventable way these men’s fear and anger are deliberately cultivated and fed online.

Here’s the term we should all use instead: misogynist terrorism. Until we grapple with the disdain for women that drives these mass murderers, and the way that the killers are increasingly radicalized on the internet, there will be no stopping future tragedies.

Paul Krugman; Trump’s War on the Poor

America hasn’t always, or even usually, been governed by the best and the brightest; over the years, presidents have employed plenty of knaves and fools. But I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like the collection of petty grifters and miscreants surrounding Donald Trump. Price, Pruitt, Zinke, Carson and now Ronny Jackson: At this point, our default assumption should be that there’s something seriously wrong with anyone this president wants on his team.

Still, we need to keep our eye on the ball. The perks many Trump officials demand — the gratuitous first-class travel, the double super-secret soundproof phone booths, and so on — are outrageous, and they tell you a lot about the kind of people they are. But what really matters are their policy decisions. Ben Carson’s insistence on spending taxpayer funds on a $31,000 dining set is ridiculous; his proposal to sharply raise housing costs for hundreds of thousands of needy American families, tripling rents for some of the poorest households, is vicious.

And this viciousness is part of a broader pattern. Last year, Trump and his allies in Congress devoted most of their efforts to coddling the rich; this was obviously true of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but even the assault on Obamacare was largely about securing hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the wealthy. This year, however, the G.O.P.’s main priority seems to be making war on the poor.

Charles M. Blow: The White Rebellion

In 1989, NBC News did a special on race in America, in which it interviewed a young Donald Trump, who was then a couple of years younger than I am now.

“A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market,” he said. “And I think a black sometimes may think that they don’t really have the advantage, or this or that, but in actuality, today, currently, it’s a, it’s a great — I’ve said on more than one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe that they do have an actual advantage today.” [..]

Trump was attempting to express a white male anger and anxiety as made-for-television profundity and witticism. It would in many ways foretell a strategy that worked well for him decades later when he ran for president.

Trump’s ability to completely embody and effectively project the petrifying fear young white men feel about the erosion of their privilege is a large part of the reason he is president today.

Robert Redford: The biggest Scott Pruitt scandal is the one right in front of us

President Trump should follow the suggestion of many — including some within his own party, and reportedly even his chief of staff — and replace Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt’s conduct as head of the EPA is beyond disappointing; it’s disgraceful. The list of indefensible actions grows each week: from sweetheart condo deals with the wife of an energy lobbyist, to unfair raises for favored appointees and apparent punishments for those who defy him, to a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.

These seemingly daily revelations dominate the headlines. But Pruitt’s failings in ethics and judgment are only part of a much larger problem: Pruitt has failed at the core responsibility of his job.

He’s not protecting the environment. Pruitt has become a one-man public-health risk to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. From day one, he has worked to gut the EPA and hamstring its ability to protect the environment and public health. He works on behalf of the fossil-fuel industry and other industrial polluters, not the American people. That’s the greatest scandal — and the reason, first and foremost, he’s got to go.

Catherine Rampell: Trump is running America just like his businesses — right into the ground

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly pledged that if elected, he’d run government like a business.

“If we could run our country the way I’ve run my company, we would have a country that you would be so proud of,” he promised during one debate.

Well, he was half right. Trump has definitely run the country the way he ran his company. But, no, this is nothing anyone can be especially proud of.

That’s because the president is running the executive branch less like a “Six Sigma” efficiency machine and more like a crappy family business that went bankrupt six times.

Consider Trump’s personnel choices. In both private and public enterprise, he has loaded up the payroll with incompetents, self-dealers and family members — categories that are not mutually exclusive — whose top qualifications are ethical pliability and unwavering devotion to the boss.

In the Trump Organization, this meant elevating his children and people such as Michael Cohen. By whom I mean: a guy who would never get a job at a respectable, well-run company, given a past checkered by business associates who ended up disbarred, disciplined or convicted of crimes.

In the White House, Trump has likewise surrounded himself with sycophants, fixers and telegenic attack dogs. People unrelated to the patriarch by blood have been expected to pledge loyalty to the president personally or (like former FBI director James B. Comey) be fired.

Despite the president’s alleged business savvy, Trump’s hires are not exactly selected for their experience or expertise. I don’t even mean technical expertise, though Trump’s disdain for scientists, economists and regional specialists is no secret.

It’s become increasingly clear that our supposed manager in chief doesn’t care a whit about management expertise.