Jun 29 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: Trump Versus the Hog-Maker

Harley-Davidson, the famed manufacturer of “hogs” — big motorcycles — made headlines this week when it announced that it would be moving some of its production out of the U.S. in the face of the growing tariff war between America and the European Union.

And Donald Trump made more headlines when he lashed out at a company “I’ve been very good to,” accusing of having “surrendered” to Europe. So he threatened it with punishment: “They will be taxed like never before.” [..]

Nonetheless, I think the Harley story is one of those anecdotes that tells us a lot. It’s an early example of the incentives created by the looming Trumpian trade war, which will hurt many more American companies and workers than Trump or the people around him seem to realize. It’s an indication of the hysterical reactions we can expect from the Trump crew as the downsides of their policies start to become apparent — hysteria that other countries will surely see as evidence of Trump’s fundamental weakness.

And what Trump’s alleged experts have to say about the controversy offers fresh confirmation that nobody in the administration has the slightest idea what he or she is doing.

Eugene Robinson: Trump treats politics like a knife fight. Democrats can’t pretend it’s a garden party.

Let me get this straight. President Trump and his associates treat politics like a back-alley knife fight but his critics are supposed to pretend it’s a garden party? I don’t think so.

Those who see the Trump administration as an abomination have many things to spend their time worrying about — most urgently, turning out a massive anti-Trump vote in the November elections that give Democrats control of one or both houses of Congress. Whether the resistance behaves less than graciously to Trump and his accomplices —including his water-carriers in Congress — is far down the list.

I’m not advocating rudeness for rudeness sake or a blanket policy of denying Trump aides their supper, as happened recently to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But folks, get a grip. Stop all the hyperventilation and self-flagellation about how the Red Hen incident, and any further instances of incivility, could doom prospects for a “blue wave” in November and perhaps even reelect Trump in 2020. Banish any thought of turning the other cheek in the coming fight over Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s replacement on the Supreme Court. Don’t get mired in paralysis by analysis.

Jill Abramson: Donald Trump’s nominee for the supreme court will have to be resisted

Republican president who is eager to build a clear, conservative majority on the United States supreme court – and too sure of his political ground – overreaches. He picks a rightwing zealot for the open seat created by the retirement of a justice. At stake in the subsequent political battle over his nomination is the constitutional right of American women to have an abortion.

This was the Washington drama that unfolded in 1987 – when the president was Ronald Reagan, and his supreme court nominee was the controversial Robert Bork. Over a quarter of a century later, history is about to repeat itself in the latest crucial political test of the Donald Trump era. [..]

In the wake of Justice Kennedy’s retirement announcement, I spent the afternoon walking back through history and was reassured by listening to another Kennedy. At the time of the Bork nomination, Ted Kennedy, the Democratic senator and liberal lion, roared loud and long, delivering a coruscating speech that proved to be a lethal blow.

Jennifer Rubin: Jim Jordan reveals just how nutty Republicans have become

President Trump is not the only unhinged Republican who spins conspiracy theories and denigrates the rule of law. Watching Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) rudely (civility police, where are you?) and hysterically attack Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, accusing him without proof of threatening staffers — and insisting that Congress, an appendage of Trump at this point, get classified documents from an ongoing investigation — recalls the moment when the Army’s chief counsel, Joseph Welch, responded to the vicious smear launched by Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) at a witness during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings.

In the case of Jordan, it was Rosenstein himself who was forced to respond, again and again, to baseless accusations and inaccuracies. [..]

The sight of a calm, methodical deputy attorney general, patiently answering an unhinged inquisitor’s accusations (followed by interruptions so Rosenstein couldn’t answer), was bracing. Jordan is the perfect incarnation of the GOP in 2018 — unhinged, bullying, unbound by facts and unconcerned with the norms of democratic government. A subsequent, unenforceable House resolution demanding Rosenstein comply with a request for documents concerning the investigation was the perfect coda to a kangaroo-court hearing. And the person responsible for allowing this travesty to go on is House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who exerts no control over his members.

Richard Eskow: How to Cover a Political Revolution

“RED ALERT,” read the New York Post’s headline after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over high-ranking Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley. They competed in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th congressional district, which covers parts of Queens and The Bronx. The subhead read:

“Young socialist upsets King of Queens, shocking Dem establishment.”

Powerful Democrats were undoubtedly rocked by the unabashed left-populist’s triumph over one of their own. But theirs was not the only “establishment” to be caught off-guard by the outcome. The mainstream political press had all but ignored Ocasio-Cortez and her groundbreaking campaign. [..]

One of the district’s hometown papers, the New York Times, is a case in point. Less than a week before Ocasio-Cortez’s primary, the paper ran an article on Sanders and Our Revolution, the organization inspired by his 2016 campaign. The article acknowledged that Sanders’ “policy agenda has caught on widely among Democratic candidates and succeeded in moving the party to the left,” but said he “has struggled so far to expand his political base and propel his personal allies to victory in Democratic primaries.”

Nobody’s saying that now. But it was already a debatable view of the party’s left wing when that story went to press. Kara Eastman had already won an upset victory over establishment-backed Brad Ashford in Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district. John Fetterman had already defeated an establishment-backed candidate, in the Pennsylvania primary for lieutenant governor, with Sanders’ support.

Three insurgent candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) had won Pennsylvania State House primaries. Lee Sanders, a DSA-backed candidate who was inspired by Sanders to enter politics, had been elected Virginia’s House of Delegates late last year.

Nevertheless, the Times article said that Our Revolution “appears to be flailing” and “has had only marginal success,” because “fewer than 50 percent of the more than 80 candidates it has endorsed have won elections this year.”

Another, more accurate, way to describe Our Revolution’s record would have been to say that it had won nearly half its races, even though it often faced well-established political machines with greater financial and institutional resources.