Jun 20 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 Devil and Tom Donohue

News item #1: The Trump administration is taking thousands of children away from their parents, and putting them in cages.

News item #2: House Republicans have released a budget plan that would follow up last year’s big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy with huge funding cuts for Medicare and Medicaid.

If you think these items are unrelated, you’ve missed the whole story of modern American politics. Conservatism – the actually existing conservative movement, as opposed to the philosophical stance whose constituency is maybe five pundits on major op-ed pages — is all about a coalition between racists and plutocrats. It’s about people who want to do (2) empowering people who want to do (1), and vice versa.

Until Trump, the ugliness of this deal was cloaked in euphemisms. [..]

So pardon me for being cynical when I see Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – a man who turned the chamber into a relentlessly political organization, throwing all its weight behind the GOP – declaring that the child separation policy is terrible. “This is not who we are,” he says. Sorry, Mr. Donohue, but it is who you are: you made a deal with the devil, empowering racism and cruelty so you could get deregulation and tax cuts. Now the devil is having his due, and you must share the blame.

William Rivers Pitt: Child Abuse at the Border: We Must Stop This Monstrosity

The ongoing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding at the US-Mexico border has, at long last, motivated the staid and steady purveyors of “on-one-hand-but-on-the-other-hand” journalistic “balance” to forego their usual milquetoast approach to matters of consequence.

The corporate news media have been pulling no punches in their coverage of children being forcibly separated from their parents and caged like dogs. They have been calling the president of the United States a liar, out loud and in broad daylight, for the first time since this garbage barge of an administration put to sea. They are calling the whole thing “child abuse,” and justly so.

The news broadcast on Monday night badly frightened my daughter, who saw everything unfolding on the television. Too young to understand the gulf standing between her security as a white US citizen and the shattering insecurity endured by the migrants she was seeing, she spent the remainder of the evening convinced Donald Trump was going to come and take her away from us. She slept with Mommy and Daddy that night, and was still jumpy in the morning.

Seeing these images unnerve a non-immigrant child who is 2,000 miles away from the scene of the crime gave me a new and galling perspective on the incalculable psychic trauma experienced by all the children who are closer to the vortex of our president’s racist policy.

Jennifer Rubin: Republicans are justifying the unjustifiable

Squeamish Republicans defensive about their votes for President Trump — or worse, their continued support for him — will tell you when presented with a long list of Trump’s moral and policy debacles that it’s all worth it for some policy “win.”

The “but the Supreme Court” defense in essence presumes that anything and everything are wiped away by a single Supreme Court justice on a court that is never permanently skewed in one party’s favor. An alternative is “but tax cuts” — as if a single piece of tax legislation of questionable effectiveness would standing alone make the Trump presidency worthwhile. Such reasoning was always going to provide justification for monstrous actions. And now it has — babies in cages, toddlers taken from their mothers, children separated with no plan for reuniting them with their parents.

Let’s take this hypothetical: If, at the time of the election, Republican apologists knew that Trump would put Justice Neil Gorsuch on the court and get a tax cut but that the United States would engage in its worst human rights violation in years, would they have still voted for him? If the answer is yes, no morally intelligent conversation can be had. (And by the way, this is the exact position many, if not most, elected Republicans take — a strong argument for the idea that the GOP cannot be saved.) That is the logic of all human rights abusers: Yes, he threw opponents in jail, but look at the new highways! Yes, he slaughtered a religious minority, but gas prices are down!

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy: The Curious Campaign Role of Donald Trump’s Foundation

Nonprofit 101 is that a conventional charity cannot give money to a political campaign. But it’s possible the Donald J. Trump Foundation may have broken this cardinal rule not just once, but twice. And the fact that it happened twice could make a significant legal difference. The first time could be a simple clerical mistake. But when it happens again and the person running the charity is the political beneficiary, that’s a horse of a different color.

Last week, the New York Attorney General sued to dissolve the Trump Foundation because in essence it hasn’t been acting as a true charity. Rather, the suit alleges, Trump’s family, and Donald Trump in particular, have personally benefited from Foundation funds. For example, the complaint alleges Foundation money was used to settle several suits involving Donald Trump’s commercial properties, including the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The Foundation also purportedly spent $10,000 to buy a Donald Trump portrait which hung on a wall at the Trump National Doral Miami for two years. [..]

After the suit was announced, it took all of 28 minutes for Donald Trump to respond. On Twitter, his medium of choice, Trump called the filing “ridiculous” and vowed, “I won’t settle this case!” If indeed Trump does not settle, it will be interesting to hear from Trump and his offspring about how a charitable foundation could somehow legally subsidize a presidential campaign.

Ian McDougal: Behind the Criminal Immigration Law: Eugenics and White Supremacy

Amid a bipartisan backlash, President Trump has tried repeatedly to shift blame to Democrats for his own administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in more than 2,300 migrant children being taken from their families along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

The president didn’t specify which law he was talking about. But the statute at the center of his administration’s policy is the work of Republicans — with origins dating back all the way to World War I — albeit with substantial Democratic support along the way. Known originally as the “Undesirable Aliens Act,” the statute would not exist without support from, respectively, a eugenicist and a white supremacist.

The law in question was the foundation of a memo Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued in early April that laid out the administration’s new, zero-tolerance policy. In the memo, Sessions instructed federal prosecutors in the southwestern United States to file criminal charges against any adults caught entering the country illegally. His order stripped officials of discretion over whether to place migrant families seeking asylum into civil proceedings, which allow families to stay together.