Jul 06 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.
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Paul Krugman: Big Business Reaps Trump’s Whirlwind

The imminent prospect of a trade war, it seems, concentrates the mind. Until very recently, big business and the institutions that represent its interests didn’t seem to be taking President Trump’s protectionist rhetoric very seriously. After all, corporations have invested trillions based on the belief that world markets would remain open, that U.S. industry would retain access to both foreign customers and foreign suppliers.

Trump wouldn’t put all those investments at risk, would he?

Yes, he would — and the belated recognition that his tough talk on trade was serious has spurred a flurry of action. Major corporations and trade associations are sending letters to the administration warning that its policies will cost more jobs than they create. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun an advertising campaign to convince voters of the benefits of free trade.

Pathetic, isn’t it? Who in the Trump administration is going to pay attention to those letters? What, exactly, does the chamber think it will accomplish by running those ads?

The thing is, big business is reaping what it sowed. No single cause brought us to this terrible moment in American history, but decades of cynical politics on the part of corporate America certainly played an important role.

Eugene Robinson: Trump can’t make America white again

Racism is a feature of the Trump administration, not a bug. Like demagogues before him, President Trump and his aides consistently single out one group for scapegoating and persecution: nonwhite Hispanic immigrants.

Trump doesn’t much seem to like nonwhite newcomers from anywhere, in truth — remember how he once expressed a fond wish for more immigrants from Norway? — but he displays an especially vicious antipathy toward men, women and even children from Latin America. We have not seen such overt racism from a president since Woodrow Wilson imposed Jim Crow segregation in Washington and approvingly showed “The Birth of a Nation,” director D.W. Griffith’s epic celebration of the Ku Klux Klan, at the White House.

Trump encourages supporters to see the nation as beset by high levels of violent crime — and to blame the “animals” of the street gang MS-13. He is lying; crime rates nationwide are far lower than two or three decades ago, and some big cities are safer than they have been in a half-century. But Trump has to paint a dystopian panorama to justify the need to Make America Great Again.

Jamelle Bouie: White Fight

Under the Trump administration, even naturalized citizens are now a target. The government agency that oversees immigration applications is hiring lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants suspected of obtaining citizenship through fake identities or other false information on their applications. Cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, where offenders could lose their citizenship or legal status.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place,” L. Francis Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in an interview with the Associated Press last month. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

The small scale of this effort belies its significance. As a country, the United States makes few distinctions between naturalized citizens and their native-born counterparts. The naturalization process, which includes long-term residents with deep ties to the U.S., is assumed to be permanent. This new task force on denaturalization throws that permanence into question, bringing suspicion on anyone who received their citizenship through means other than birth.

Catherine Rampell: Can China build an anti-U.S. alliance?

President Trump is right about one thing. China really has been stealing many of America’s most valuable ideas.

For years, the Chinese government turned a blind eye to counterfeited U.S. luxury goods, bootlegged Hollywood films, fake Apple stores, trade secrets pilfered from cutting-edge U.S. tech companies. It forced U.S. firms to hand over their technology if they wanted to operate in China.

Now the Chinese government has decided to borrow one of our best foreign policy ideas, too: banding together with allies to punish a cheating, trade-obstructing bully.

On Friday, the Trump administration is slated to unilaterally impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump has said additional tariffs on hundreds of billions in Chinese goods are in the pipeline, too.

Alas, the tariffs going into effect Friday will probably punish us and our allies more than they’ll hurt China. Because of some poor choices by Trump trade officials, the tariffs mostly miss Chinese companies and instead target U.S. and other non-Chinese multinational corporations operating in China, according to an analysis from the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Nonetheless, the Chinese government feels it must respond to this and Trump’s other big, bad protectionist measures. So, it’s doing two big things.

Natalie Nougayrède: Putin will run rings round Trump in Helsinki. Bad news for the rest of us

When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet in Helsinki on 16 July, there will only be one winner: it will be the guy who likes to be pictured shirtless riding horses in Siberia, not the one who trundles around a golf course in a cart. The biggest losers, of course, will be the rest of us, as the future prospects for international peace and prosperity take another nosedive.

Helsinki will be a miserable landmark, the first US-Russia summit conducted by nationalist populists. Both these men have been swinging massive wrecking balls at the rules-based global order. Trump cares nothing for the alliances and multilateralism that his predecessors worked to build after 1945. By summarily annexing Crimea in 2014, Putin unilaterally redrew borders through use of military force – a first in Europe since the second world war.

No wonder the US’s European allies are bracing themselves for another assault on the postwar settlement they are desperately trying to salvage: the continent’s security architecture, the European Union and liberal democracy. Trump will meet Putin just days after a Nato summit that everyone expects to be acrimonious, and a visit to Britain where large street protests will almost certainly have taken place. The visit to Helsinki allows him to seek some solace in the Kremlin with a like-minded “strong” leader.