Jun 01 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: The Plot Against Health Care


On Wednesday, Virginia’s legislature voted to expand Medicaid, accepting a key piece of the Affordable Care Act. Around 400,000 people will gain coverage.

The politics of the move aren’t hard to understand. Virginians overwhelmingly support Medicaid expansion; last fall, Democrat Ralph Northam won the governorship by a landslide after a campaign largely focused on health care. But wait: Don’t we keep hearing that Democrats are running on nothing except opposition to Trump? Hey, influential commentators say it, so it must be true.

Anyway, the will of the people on health care is clear: Whatever qualms voters may have had about Obamacare, a strong majority want to keep and expand the gains in coverage that America has achieved since the law went into effect.

In other news, there are multiple reports that Republicans in Congress may make another attempt at repealing the A.C.A. this summer. Even if they don’t succeed, you can be sure that they will next year — if they manage to hold on to the House in the midterm elections.

John Brennan: I will speak out until integrity returns to the White House

My first visit to the Oval Office came in October 1990, when I was a 35-year-old CIA officer. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait two months before, and President George H.W. Bush wanted to discuss the implications of a U.S.-led military coalition that would ultimately push the Iraqis out.

I remember the nervousness I felt when I entered that room and met a president of the United States for the first time. By the time the meeting ended, his intellectual curiosity, wisdom, affability and intense interest in finding the best policy course to protect and promote U.S. interests were abundantly evident. [..]

Many have condemned my public criticism of Mr. Trump, arguing that as a former CIA director, I should bite my tongue. My criticisms, however, are not political; I have never been and will never be a partisan. I speak out for the simple reason that Mr. Trump is failing to live up to the standards that we should all expect of a president.

As someone who had the rare privilege of directly serving four presidents, I will continue to speak out loudly and critically until integrity, decency, wisdom — and maybe even some humility — return to the White House.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s trade policy is stuck in the ’80s — the 1680s

President Trump often seems as though he’s stuck in the ’80s. Bobinsonut maybe the better comparison is to the 1680s, not the Reagan era.

Consider his announcement Thursday of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. These countries not only supply about half of our imports of these metals; they are also among our closest allies.

Astonishingly, the White House claims that alienating these important military allies is necessary “to protect America’s national security.”

These trade policies, and the supposed rationale behind them, bear an uncanny resemblance to classical mercantilism.

What is mercantilism, exactly? As you may remember from some long-ago high school class, it’s an economic philosophy that was prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries. In a nutshell, mercantilists believed a country should try to maximize exports and minimize imports.

Eugene Robinson: Roseanne Barr should blame Trump most of all

President Trump wants to create a safe public space for ugly, unvarnished, unambiguous racism, which he knows he can exploit for political advantage. This cynical and destructive ploy must not be allowed to succeed.

Witness Trump’s reaction to Roseanne Barr’s self-immolation. The president frequently airs his opinions via Twitter within minutes of seeing something he likes on Fox News or something he hates on CNN. But since Tuesday, there has been not a word of censure for Barr’s vile “joke” portraying Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to President Barack Obama, as the result if “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” [..]

Barr first blamed herself for her outburst, then reverted to form and blamed anyone else she could think of. She said she was taking the sleeping aid Ambien, prompting the maker of the drug to state, for the record, that racism is not a known side effect. She said that ABC executives got nervous when comedian Wanda Sykes, who is black, promptly quit her job as a consultant on Barr’s show. She blamed all of her “liberal” critics.

She ought to blame Trump, if his election and his big mouth lulled her into believing it was safe and funny to be racist. ABC knew that its audience and advertisers would not accept such racist filth. Perhaps the president will invite her to the Oval Office for some laughs. Just the two of them.

Ruth Marcus: Trump’s pardons show his twisted brand of mercy

If, as is often said, a president’s budget proposal presents a glimpse of his heart, a president’s use of his pardon power offers a companion, and even more telling, X-ray of his soul.

Writing a budget involves making trade-offs and priorities, but these must be examined and ratified by others, elsewhere. The power to pardon is more uniquely personal, both in that pardons tend to be granted to individuals, based on the circumstances of their particular cases, and in that it is an authority that resides solely within the purview of the president.

What, then, does President Trump’s suite of pardons — five over the course of his still-young presidency — tell us? Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each took about two years to dispense their first pardons. Trump, by contrast, has embraced his role as what Alexander Hamilton described as the “dispenser of the mercy of government.”

Except that Trump’s twisted brand of mercy is shaping up as a particularly ugly version of that lofty Hamiltonian vision, variously self-serving in its recipients, tactical in its application and willfully dismissive of the countervailing considerations that a responsible president would take into account before intervening in the ordinary criminal process.