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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Eugene Robinson: Does the Trump administration see Central Americans as human?

As of Thursday, 711 children who were effectively kidnapped and held hostage by the Trump administration remained in government custody, supposedly “ineligible” to be reunited with their families. What happens to them now? The government won’t say, apparently doesn’t know and evidently doesn’t care.

U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, who had ordered that those children and nearly 2,000 others be returned to their loved ones by last week, summed up the administration’s cruel incompetence at a court hearing Friday in San Diego: “What was lost in the process was the family. The parents didn’t know where the children were, and the children didn’t know where the parents were. And the government didn’t know either.” [..]

The administration knew that child separations would be the inevitable result of a “zero tolerance” policy in which all undocumented border-crossers — most of them accused of nothing more than a misdemeanor offense — were jailed and put on trial. But officials did not care enough to implement a system for keeping track of parents and their children, some still in diapers.

If you have children, imagine how you would feel seeing them taken away like that. Hug your kids. Imagine not knowing where they are or whether you’ll ever get to hug them again.

Now imagine the terror and despair those 711 “ineligible” children must feel. It is monstrous to gratuitously inflict such pain. It is, in a word, torture.

Paul Krugman: Trump’s Supreme Betrayal

By now, it’s almost a commonplace to say that Trump has systematically betrayed the white working class voters who put him over the top. He ran as a populist; he’s governed as an orthodox Republican, with the only difference being the way he replaced racial dog-whistles with raw, upfront racism.

Many people have made this point with respect to the Trump tax cut, which is so useless to ordinary workers that Republican candidates are trying to avoid talking about it. The same can be said about health care, where Democrats are making Trump’s assault on the Affordable Care Act a major issue while Republicans try to change the subject.

But I think we should be seeing more attention devoted to the way Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court fits into this picture. The Times had a good editorial on Kavanaugh’s anti-worker agenda, but by and large the news analyses I’ve seen focus on his apparently expansive views of presidential authority and privilege.

Catherine Rampell: A winning theme for Democrats? Kids.

Democrats have been casting about for a winning theme this November. Here’s one suggestion: Kids.

After all, despite once declaring themselves the party of family values, Republican politicians have more recently ceded this territory. The GOP is now the party of state-sanctioned child abuse, of taking health care away from poor children, of leaving young immigrant “dreamers” in legal limbo.

It is GOP policy, and GOP policy alone, that has ripped thousands of immigrant children from their parents and locked them in cages, where they cannot be held or comforted when they cry.

It is these policies that have caused young children to not recognize their own parents when finally reunited through a federal court order. Or to enraging cases like one the Nation reported last week, about a 6-year-old girl who was separated from her mother and then sexually abused multiple times in an immigrant detention center. There, the child was asked to sign a form acknowledging it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser.

When it comes to callousness toward the young and the vulnerable, Washington Republicans have also found other ways to put their money where their mouth is.

Max Boot: Cohen may have the smoking gun

It is hard to exaggerate the potential significance of the news, first reported by CNN, that the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, can testify that Donald Trump both knew in advance and approved of the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between his campaign’s high command and Kremlin emissaries who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. There was already substantial evidence that (a) the Russian intervention helped to make Trump president and (b) that individuals associated with the Trump election effort, from campaign chairman Paul Manafort on down, had dealings with the Russians. What has been missing is proof that the president was personally involved in these sordid machinations. [..]

But we should not get lost in legalities, because the likelihood is that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III won’t try to indict a sitting president. The proper remedy is impeachment, and “high crimes and misdemeanors” can be whatever Congress says they are. While it’s true that “collusion” isn’t a federal crime, it is a crime in the court of public opinion. Imagine how loudly Trump and his partisans would scream if Mexico were to secretly work with Democrats to stop him from being reelected. The crime is potentially even more serious in Trump’s case because Mexico is an ally while Russia is an enemy. If Republicans would regard it as “treasonous” for Democrats to collude with Mexico, how can they avoid the conclusion that the president has betrayed America if he colluded with Russia?

That is a rhetorical question. The pathetic truth is that Republicans now think if Trump does it — whatever “it” is — it’s not a crime.

Bryce Covert: The Trump Administration Says Poverty Is Over. They’re Lying.

The Trump administration would like you to believe that poverty doesn’t really exist in the United States of America.

First, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N Nikki Haley argued in June that it was “patently ridiculous” for the United Nations to study poverty in America, a waste of “time and resources.” Then President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 66-page report all but asserting that poverty isn’t a problem in the country. In service of the administration’s goal of imposing work requirements on any anti-poverty program it can, like health insurance or housing, it’s declaring victory in the war on poverty launched a half-century ago. The true problem, the administration claims, is not that people are poor, but that they’ve been made lazy and have to be forced to work.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Poverty exists, and the administration’s favored policy changes will only make it dramatically worse.

As with Trump’s relationship to other kinds of economic data ― fudging the numbers when it suits him, claiming the credit only when it makes him look good—the administration’s argument that poverty doesn’t exist in America is built on a deeply questionable basis. Rather than relying on the official poverty numbers released by the Census Bureau, the CEA would rather use an alternative measure based on how much families spend, not how much money they have.