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Jun 08 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: Corruption Hits the Small Time

Of course Donald Trump is corrupt. Everyone with any sense knew he would be, although the scale of his personal profiteering, the strong likelihood that his family’s financial interests have distorted U.S. foreign and national security policy, have startled even the cynics. And, of course, the example set by the grifter in chief has infected his whole administration.

But what’s really striking to me is not so much the extent of corruption among Trump officials as its pettiness. And that pettiness itself tells you a lot about the kind of people now running America. [..]

In a deeper sense, however, petty corruption and cruel, destructive policy are indeed linked. Men who see high office largely as a license to live large, act like big shots and force government employees to act as their personal servants aren’t likely to care much about serving the public interest.

We don’t need a government of saints; people can be imperfect (who isn’t?) yet still do good. But a government consisting almost entirely of bad people — which is what we now have — is, in fact, going to govern badly.

Charles M. Blow: ‘I Want to Hate …’

In Trump’s America people are understandably experiencing news fatigue. There are torrents of it on multiple streams. There is outrage after outrage. It is often overwhelming.

That’s the plan, I suspect. Trump is operating on the Doctrine of Inundation. He floods the airwaves until you simply give up because you feel like you’re drowning.

And unfortunately, it’s working. A Pew Research Center report released Tuesday found that nearly seven in 10 Americans “feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days.

Fighting this fatigue is the real test of a person’s resolve, including mine.

When my enthusiasm for resisting this vile man and his corrupt administration starts to flag, I remember the episode that first revealed to me the darkness at Trump’s core, and I am renewed.

On an April night nearly 30 years ago, a young investment banker was beaten and raped when she went for a jog in Central Park. The attack left her in a coma. She happened to be white. Five teenagers arrested for the crime — four black and one of Hispanic descent — went to trial. As this newspaper reported at the time, they were “in what the police said was part of a marauding spree by as many as 30 youths in the northern end of the park” that night.

Catherine Rampell: Trump is waging a trade war in the dumbest way possible

President Trump says we need to be “smarter” in how we deal with other countries. And yet his approach to extracting concessions from our trading partners has proved very, very dumb.

That describes President Trump’s approach to extracting concessions on trade.

Notwithstanding Trump’s Twitter declarations, trade wars are neither good nor easy to win. In a trade war, every side loses, experiencing lost jobs, crippled businesses and higher prices for consumers. We learned that the last time we had a full-blown global trade war — in the 1930s after Congress passed sweeping tariffs that exacerbated the Great Depression.

Even so, it’s possible for some countries in a trade war to lose more than others. And that’s the position Trump is leaving the United States in, by taking perhaps the worst possible approach to economically bullying other countries.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump keeps making crackpot accusations. And still the GOP does nothing.

Politico reports:

Rep. Tom Rooney, a top Republican lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee, is ripping President Donald Trump’s unsupported claim that the FBI inserted a spy inside his campaign.

“What is the point of saying that there was a spy in the campaign when there was none?” Rooney said in an interview on Wednesday. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like, ‘Let’s create this thing to tweet about knowing that it’s not true.’ … Maybe it’s just to create more chaos but it doesn’t really help the case.”

Rooney seems to be conceding that the president is acting in bad faith, trying to deliberately create chaos. Rooney’s accusation boils down to: Trump is lying to obstruct an ongoing investigation into his conduct.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), never one to take on Trump directly, nevertheless acknowledged on Wednesday that there was no evidence of a planted spy in the Trump campaign, as Trump has repeatedly claimed. This was a repeat of previous discredited Trump accusations designed to undermine the Russia investigation (e.g. wiretapping Trump headquarters, misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court).

Someone should ask Ryan a few follow-up questions, since he, after all, has been allowing Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and company to help float one crackpot accusation after another (e.g. the Nunes memo propounding on a false accusation about the warrant application to conduct surveillance on Carter Page; the non-scandal about unmasking):

Why do you allow Nunes to remain on the House Intelligence Committee? Is he carrying out his duties responsibly?

Karen Tumulty: Democrats know what it will take to win

With the primary season reaching its halfway point, one of the most hopeful signs for the Democrats thus far is the fact that they are not letting their passions get the best of them. They are keeping their sights on what it will take to win.

Chief among those things it will take: appealing candidates who are capable of running competent campaigns. [..]

Many are also emphasizing their unconventional biographies. When Democratic House contender Gil Cisneros dropped by a Rotary Club lunch last week in La Habra Heights, Calif., most of the questions he got were about what it had been like to win a record $266 million in the California lottery in 2010 and then use part of his winnings to endow an education philanthropy.

Cisneros beat out all but one of the 16 other contenders in Tuesday’s 39th District primary. In November’s general election, he will face GOP former assemblywoman Young Kim for a seat in an Orange County district once considered reliably Republican but that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

If Democrats are to take back the House in November, winning in places such as that one will be the key. A wave may be out there somewhere, but Democrats know that it helps to start with candidates who know how to swim.