Jun 19 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: Fall of the American Empire

The U.S. government is, as a matter of policy, literally ripping children from the arms of their parents and putting them in fenced enclosures (which officials insist aren’t cages, oh no). The U.S. president is demanding that law enforcement stop investigating his associates and go after his political enemies instead. He has been insulting democratic allies while praising murderous dictators. And a global trade war seems increasingly likely.

What do these stories have in common? Obviously they’re all tied to the character of the man occupying the White House, surely the worst human being ever to hold his position. But there’s also a larger context, and it’s not just about Donald Trump. What we’re witnessing is a systematic rejection of longstanding American values — the values that actually made America great.

America has long been a powerful nation. In particular, we emerged from World War II with a level of both economic and military dominance not seen since the heyday of ancient Rome. But our role in the world was always about more than money and guns. It was also about ideals: America stood for something larger than itself — for freedom, human rights and the rule of law as universal principles.

Jeh Charles Johnson: Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ border policy is immoral, un-American — and ineffective

My wife and I spent Mother’s Day in 2014 at a U.S. Border Patrol center in McAllen, Tex. The facility had been built for single adults, but it looked like a crude day-care center flooded with children. In the midst of that flood, my eyes were drawn to one little girl sitting alone at a desk and being processed by a Border Patrol agent. I was struck by her long, black hair, which was beautiful despite the hot and dirty journey from Central America she just had completed. I asked her, “Why did you come here?” She replied: “I’m looking for my mother in the United States.” She began to cry, the translator began to cry, and I began to cry.

As I witness the Trump administration’s current practice of separating children from their parents at the border with Mexico, the image of that little girl and hundreds of other migrant women and children is fixed in my mind.

I hesitate to criticize my successors in office, who are burdened with the responsibility of keeping the U.S. homeland and its borders secure. I hesitate to cast doubt on the hard work of those who once worked for me in the Department of Homeland Security. But when it comes to certain offensive and wrongheaded government policies, those of us with a public voice and who understand the issue cannot stay silent.

Jill Abramson: The FBI under Comey was a ship of fools. And cost Clinton the election

The worst, sleaziest parts of the horrible, sleazy 2016 presidential campaign came roaring back on Thursday, like a nightmare.

First, there was the almost 600-page inspector general’s report from the justice department that sharply rebuked former FBI director James Comey for his gross mishandling of the Clinton email investigation. I have written previously that Comey’s bad actions in the email case probably cost Hillary Clinton the election and the IG’s report certainly confirms his many flawed actions and decisions.

There was also the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation filed by the New York attorney general after a two-year investigation. The lawsuit is another bad acid flashback, documenting how the Trump family used its charitable foundation as a personal piggy bank to bestow favors on friends and to make outrageous, personal purchases, such as a giant portrait of the president that had no charitable connection whatsoever.

Reading both documents, the IG report and the lawsuit, fills any sane person with the deepest regret that Donald Trump is president. This is a tragedy that could have been prevented, according to my reading of the justice department’s report.

Catherine Rampell: We’ll be cleaning up Trump’s mess for generations

President Trump’s generational warfare continues, as he repeatedly prioritizes cheap political wins today over the massive costs they will impose tomorrow.

Consider, first and foremost, all the ways he’s trashing the planet.

In pandering to his base last year, the president announced plans to pull out of the Paris climate accord, which would have required the United States to sharply reduce its carbon footprint by 2025. He likewise canceled NASA’s carbon-monitoring research programs and disappeared once-publicly-available government information about climate change. In rolling back environmental regulations, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency will make the air and water dirtier and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals and coal ash waste.

Who will bear the costs of a warming planet, of the intensifying hurricanes and droughts and migratory crises that will ensue? Who will bear the cost of chemicals in our drinking water and more pollutants in our air?

Why, of course, millennials, our children and those who will come after us.

Nesrine Malik: Trump is creating his American caliphate, and democracy has no defence

If there was a dictator’s playbook, the Donald Trump administration would now be on the “Instrumentalise Religion” chapter. Last week, in what sounded like the launch of a US caliphate, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, reached for a biblical verse to defend his department’s policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the Mexican border, suggesting that God supports the government. [..]

It is hard to make any coherent sense of the Trump administration’s policies. They are the result of the temperamental whims of a man-child president and the indulgences of a weak, cynical and ideological White House. There is no coherent plan, just a race to the bottom in order to appeal to a base animated by resentment and grievance. But there are moments that signal a gear change, that show us – even though there is no design – there is direction. A path has been plotted by the forces that put Trump in the White House, and they will be fed; and that feeding is then justified by any means necessary.

After Charlottesville, where a woman lost her life after being run over by a man who held racist, pro-Nazi views, Trump said that “both sides” were to blame for the violence. It was a normalisation of white supremacy. When Trump embarked on a policy of attacking the press, it was an assault on accountability. Now his administration’s use of religion to justify its laws is another step in an alarming direction . The government is not only unaccountable: it is doing God’s will. There should be no focus on the brutality of law, only on obedience to the sovereign. Sessions, the grand mufti, had pronounced his fatwa.