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Jul 30 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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Robert Reich: Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why

The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.

But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.

America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis.

John S. Martin: The baseless, shameful campaign to discredit Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein has become the latest bogeyman for members of the House Freedom Caucus. As these Republicans see it, Rosenstein is guilty of impropriety in connection with the Justice Department’s application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on the untenable assertion that the FBI and Justice Department deliberately misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court.

The assertion is false, not least of all since Rosenstein was not involved in the original FISA application (he only became involved when signing the third extension of the application). But that hasn’t prevented members of the Freedom Caucus from calling for Rosenstein’s impeachment this week — a motion that has since been tabled, reportedly because House leadership agreed to hold a vote on whether Rosenstein is in contempt of Congress later in September.

Regardless, the claim that Rosenstein or anyone else involved in the FISA application did something inappropriate is wrong. Having served for 13 years as a federal judge, I can say with confidence that any judge who reviewed the FISA applications would have granted them and that there is no basis to assert that anyone attempted to mislead the court.

Paul Krugman: Why One Quarter’s Growth Tells Us Nothing

For the most part, reporting on 2nd quarter growth has been pretty decent. But I haven’t seen clear explanations of why one quarter’s growth tells us so little about longer-term growth prospects. I’m sure that reporters get it; maybe they assume that readers already know (a very bad assumption), or maybe they’re afraid of sounding too technical. But anyway, it seems as if there’s a gap worth filling; so here it comes.

The key point when you look at real GDP is that the economy’s actual output depends both on its capacity – the amount it is capable of producing on a sustained basis – and the rate at which it is using that capacity. That is,

Output = capacity * capacity utilization [..]

Why does capacity utilization fluctuate? Mainly because the economy sometimes suffers from periods of inadequate demand, as it did after the 2008 financial crisis. Sometimes, also, the economy overheats, reaching levels of capacity utilization that will lead to rising inflation. The Fed thinks we’re in or near to that state now, although many economists disagree. Whoever’s right, the point is that there’s some limit to how hot the economy can run.

 

Charles M. Blow: Michael Cohen Takes a Bullet

Here’s to Michael Cohen. He’s finally getting something right.

First, let’s state forthrightly that Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer, the fix-it man, the one who mopped up Trump’s messes, the one who said he would “take a bullet for the president,” is an incredibly unsavory character and a bully.

He thought himself a tough guy, Trump’s muscle collecting the crumbs of Trump’s money. [..]

But, as Cohen attorney Lanny Davis told CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week:

“Why is Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen — because they fear him.” Davis continued:

“What do they fear, Chris? Why am I representing him? They fear that he has the truth about Donald Trump. He will someday speak the truth about Donald Trump.”

For this, Trump world will seek to destroy him. Michael Cohen will indeed take that bullet, metaphorically speaking of course — not for Trump, but from him.

But, if Cohen indeed becomes a cooperating witness for the Robert Mueller Russia investigation, he will salvage a tiny bit of honor from a life of dishonor. He will purchase a sliver of redemption.

Ruth Marcus: Giuliani said Cohen has no credibility. What about the president?

“He’s been lying all week, he’s been lying for years. . . . I don’t see how he has any credibility.”

Exactly. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s current lawyer, was talking about Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer. But if Cohen is so sleazy, and I don’t disagree, why did Donald Trump keep the self-described fixer around for so long?

As recently as April, Trump was calling Cohen a “good man.” As recently as May, Giuliani called Cohen “an honest, honorable lawyer.” Cohen’s character didn’t change. The damage he could inflict on Trump did.

And here’s the bigger problem with Giuliani’s argument against Cohen: It applies to his own client. Trump lies — constantly, flagrantly, provably. You might think that a smart lawyer, capable of seeing around a looming corner, would think twice before labeling someone else a “pathological liar.”

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