May 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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Paul Krugman: How’s That Tax Cut Working Out?

So far, Donald Trump and his allies in Congress have achieved one and only one major legislative victory: passing a large tax cut, mainly aimed at corporations and business owners. The tax cut’s proponents promised that it would lead to a dramatic acceleration of economic growth and produce big gains in wages; they hoped that it would also yield big political dividends for the midterm elections.

So how’s it going? Politically, the tax cut is a damp squib: Most voters say they haven’t seen any boost to their paychecks, and Republicans are barely talking about the law in their political campaigns. But what about the economics?

You might be tempted to say that it’s too early to tell. After all, the law has been in effect for only a few months, and we got our first look at post-tax-cut economic growth only last week. But here’s the thing: To deliver on its backers’ promises, the tax cut would have to produce a huge surge in business investment — not in the long run, not five or 10 years from now, but more or less right away. And there’s no sign that anything like that is happening.

Let’s talk about the economics here.

Adam Conover: Michelle Wolf Did What Comedians Are Supposed to Do

Comedy has no rules, per se. But in my 15 years of writing and performing, I’ve come up with a few guidelines that I find helpful:

1. Be funny.

2. Tell the truth.

3. Make people in power uncomfortable.

By that math, in her performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night in Washington, Michelle Wolf did exactly what a great comic is supposed to do. She made the crowd of assembled journalists, politicians and guests laugh; she made them squirm; and she made them gasp in astonishment (and yes, a little delight) when a sharp sliver of the truth cut a little closer to the bone than they were expecting.

In other words, she killed.

Yet in return for her excellence, Ms. Wolf was criticized not just by partisan defenders of the president, but by members of the press, too. Journalists called Ms. Wolf’s set “offensive,” “deplorable” and “a debacle.” Margaret Talev, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who booked the comedian to perform, released a statement on Sunday night that said “unfortunately, the entertainer’s monologue was not in the spirit” of the group’s mission.

There is no president of the Comedians’ Association, and though Ms. Wolf and I know each other professionally, I’m not her spokesman. But at risk of speaking out of turn, I’d like to offer this official response from America’s comics: If you don’t want comedy, don’t hire us.

Michelle Goldberg: Truth Has Stopped Mattering in the Russia Investigation

On Friday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a report based on their cursory investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Full of shoddy rationalizations and evasions, it purported to show that America’s intelligence community failed to use “proper analytic tradecraft” in concluding that Russia wanted to help elect Donald Trump, and that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Its real message was that, for Republicans in Congress determined to protect this president, evidence is irrelevant. [..]

When intelligence agency veterans — including James Comey, the former director of national intelligence James Clapper and the former C.I.A. director John Brennan — speak out with alarm about Trump, the media debates their propriety, while Republicans frame their contempt for the president as evidence of a deep-state conspiracy. When a brave comedian, Michelle Wolf, jeered at the administration’s indecency at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the Washington establishment had a fainting fit at the violation of its safe space.

Under Trump, the central battle in our culture is between truth and power. The truth hidden among the propaganda in the House Intelligence Committee’s majority report is that power is winning.

Eugene Robinson: The immigrant ‘caravan’ is a test. Trump wants us to fail.

The “caravan” of asylum-seeking migrants that has finally arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border is a test of American character and purpose — a test President Trump wants us to fail.

I put caravan in quotation marks because the group that reached Tijuana hardly qualifies for the term. Just a few dozen would-be entrants presented themselves at the Port of San Ysidro on Sunday — only to be told that U.S. immigration officials were too busy to attend to them. Another several hundred were reported to be in the general area, waiting their turn to attempt to cross the border.

Trump has spoken of these people as if they were some kind of rampaging horde. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has accused them of “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.” The truth is that this sort of thing happens every year: Would-be migrants seek safety in numbers as they make the long and perilous trek north through Mexico.

Sessions probably understands this context; Trump probably doesn’t. But I believe both are sincere in their desire to stanch the flow of Latino immigration — not, I strongly suspect, because of drugs or crime, but because they loathe the demographic and cultural change that is taking place.

Ilyse Hogue:Think abortion should be punished? Take a look around.

Conservative writer Kevin D. Williamson says that, past comments to the contrary notwithstanding, he doesn’t think women should be hanged for having abortions. But he still wants them to be punished somehow. So really we’re just negotiating the terms.

Williamson made headlines in April for being hired and, after his views touched off a firestorm online, he was very quickly fired by the Atlantic magazine. Now he aims to make clear what he says the so-called Twitter mob — actually, women and men across the country with real concern about his beliefs — wasn’t interested in knowing: What Williamson truly thinks the punishment for abortion should be. “Only real-world experience will show what is effective, and our preference should be for the least-invasive effective settlement,” he writes in a Post op-ed. I suppose that’s meant to be reassuring.

For me and millions of women who, like me, have had abortions, however, Williamson’s words are deeply chilling, even when watered down. And this is not because of where they might lead, though that is cause for concern, too, but because of what they say about reality — about where we already are.

In fact, women are now punished every day for seeking reproductive health care in this country. It’s getting hard to count all of the various legislative measures in place, or being contemplated, to make accessing abortion services difficult, costly and humiliating.