Jul 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: ‘Sort of a Double Negative’

It is an unfathomable proposition that the day would ever come when America could rightly question the loyalties of its own president, but that is precisely where we have arrived.

Donald Trump’s “Surrender Summit” with President Vladimir Putin of Russia was such a disloyal, traitorous display that it boggles the mind.

Russia attacked our election in 2016. Russia. Moscow did it to help get Trump elected. Putin himself admitted that “patriotic” Russian hackers may have meddled in the election. These are not open questions. These are facts.

And yet, Trump chose to meet with the man who directed those attacks. He did so one on one behind closed doors, so we have no idea what they discussed, confessed, agreed to or even conspired.

Nouriel Roubini: Donald Trump may kill the global recovery

How does the current global economic outlook compare to that of a year ago? In 2017, the world economy was undergoing a synchronised expansion, with growth accelerating both in advanced economies and emerging markets. Moreover, despite stronger growth, inflation was tame – if not falling – even in economies such as the United States, where goods and labour markets were tightening.

Stronger growth with inflation still below target allowed unconventional monetary policies either to remain in full force, as in the eurozone and Japan, or to be rolled back very gradually, as in the US. The combination of strong growth, low inflation and easy money implied that market volatility was low. And with the yields on government bonds also very low, investors’ animal spirits were running high, boosting the price of many risky assets. [..]

Fast forward to 2018 and the picture looks very different. Though the world economy is still experiencing a lukewarm expansion, growth is no longer synchronised. Economic growth in the eurozone, the United Kingdom, Japan and a number of fragile emerging markets is slowing. And while the US and Chinese economies are still expanding, the former is being driven by unsustainable fiscal stimulus.

William J. Barber III and Karen Dolan: Trump’s War on the Poor has just begun

Mission accomplished in the “War on Poverty.” So declares the White House, which in a white paper released last week from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers claims that the war is “largely over and a success” and that it is time for more stringent work requirements for public assistance.

Never mind all the decades President Trump’s party has spent trashing anti-poverty programs to justify shredding them: The new narrative states that these programs have worked so well that U.S. poverty has been all but eradicated.

The programs stemming from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 initiative have indeed improved the lives of millions of Americans. A Columbia University study found that poverty would be much worse today had it not been for food assistance, the earned income tax credit, Medicaid and the expansion of Social Security benefits.

But the scourge of poverty isn’t over in the world’s wealthiest nation. The Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure shows that more than 45 million people (14 percent of us) were impoverished in 2016. The rates are even higher for children under age 18 and seniors.

But that’s only the beginning. Almost 100 million more live at 200 percent of the poverty line, a more accurate indicator of a family’s ability to make ends meet.

Max Boot: The stench from Trump’s execrable performance grows ever more putrid

As with a rotting fish, the stench from President Trump’s execrable performance in Helsinki only grows more putrid with the passage of time. The leader of the sole superpower was simpering and submissive in the face of a murderous dictator’s “strong and powerful” lies.

It is ludicrous to pretend that changing “would” into “wouldn’t” might have changed Trump’s message, which included a conspiratorial rant about the FBI and not a word of specific censure of Russian crimes. Having committed a “Kinsley gaffe” (i.e., saying what he really thought), the president couldn’t bring himself to convincingly read the “clarification” concocted by some over-clever spinmeister. He felt compelled to add that the election “meddling” could have been the work of lots of “other people” besides the Russians, thereby negating the point of the exercise.

And, predictably, a day later Trump walked back the walkback by bragging that “so many people at the higher ends of intelligence” — Russian intelligence? — “loved my press conference performance in Helsinki.” He then repeated, once again, Moscow’s propaganda by maintaining that the only alternative to appeasement of Putin is “war.” He directly contradicted Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, once again, by denying that Russian cyberattacks are continuing just days after Coats warned that the warning signs are “blinking red.” Worst of all, he did Putin another solid by questioning whether the United States would sacrifice its sons to defend Montenegro — a tiny state whose NATO accession Russia allegedly tried to block by fomenting a coup. Far from strengthening NATO, as he disingenuously claims, Trump is continually sabotaging it.

Karen Tumulty: Trump’s worst moment since Charlottesville

It was as predictable as the sunrise, and it arrived at just about the same moment on Wednesday — a 5:53 a.m. tweet from President Trump undoing his previous day’s forced acknowledgment that he had made a monumental blunder in Helsinki.

On Tuesday, summoning the amount of enthusiasm normally associated with hostage videos, the president read a statement claiming he misspoke during his news conference with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

Trump zeroed in on one narrow comment: his statement that he saw no reason Russia would have interfered with the 2016 election. “I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,’ ” he said, adding that it was “sort of a double negative.”

That was enough to give freaked-out Republicans on Capitol Hill something to cling to, some hope that Trump had mopped up the disgrace of a U.S. president siding with an adversary over the consensus of his own intelligence agencies.

But by the dawn of the following day, Trump was crowing that his appearance with Putin had been an unalloyed triumph.