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Aug 03 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: Stop Calling Trump a Populist

Message to those in the news media who keep calling Donald Trump a “populist”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

It’s true that Trump still, on occasion, poses as someone who champions the interests of ordinary working Americans against those of the elite. And I guess there’s a sense in which his embrace of white nationalism gives voice to ordinary Americans who share his racism but have felt unable to air their prejudice in public.

But he’s been in office for a year and a half, time enough to be judged on what he does, not what he says. And his administration has been relentlessly anti-worker on every front. Trump is about as populist as he is godly — that is, not at all. [..]

While he isn’t a populist, however, Trump is a pathological liar, the most dishonest man ever to hold high office in America. And his claim to stand with working Americans is one of his biggest lies.

Which brings me back to media use of the term “populist.” When you describe Trump using that word, you are in effect complicit in his lie — especially when you do it in the context of supposedly objective reporting.

And you don’t have to do this. You can describe what Trump is doing without using words that give him credit where it isn’t due. He’s scamming his supporters; you don’t have to help him do it.

Nomi Prins: These 5 Trump Policies Are Leading Us Toward Economic Chaos

Here we are in the middle of the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and if there’s one thing we know by now, it’s that the leader of the free world can create an instant reality-TV show on geopolitical steroids at will. True, he’s not polished in his demeanor, but he has an unerring way of instilling the most uncertainty in any situation in the least amount of time.

Whether through executive orders, tweets, cable-news interviews, or rallies, he regularly leaves diplomacy in the dust, while allegedly delivering for a faithful base of supporters who voted for him as the ultimate anti-diplomat. And while he’s at it, he continues to take a wrecking ball to the countless political institutions that litter the Acela Corridor. Amid all the tweeted sound and fury, however, the rest of us are going to have to face the consequences of Donald Trump’s getting his hands on the economy.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, entropy is “a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder.” With that in mind, perhaps the best way to predict President Trump’s next action is just to focus on the path of greatest entropy and take it from there.

Let me do just that, while exploring five key economic sallies of the Trump White House since he took office and the bleakness and chaos that may lie ahead as the damage to the economy and our financial future comes into greater focus.

Catherine Rampell: We’ve finally learned Trump’s grand plan for fixing health care

During his presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”

For a long time, that “something terrific” was left unspecified. Now, more than a year and a half into Trump’s presidency, we have finally learned his grand plan for reducing Americans’ health-care costs.

It is: Don’t get sick. Ever.

That, at least, was the message of the administration’s new rule expanding the availability of junk insurance plans, finalized Wednesday.

The rule deals with “short-term” health plans. Short-term plans were initially designed to do exactly what they sound like: provide stopgap coverage to tide consumers over until, say, school starts in the fall or that new job begins.

Under the Trump administration’s new regulation, however, these plans will soon be allowed to last up to 364 days and to be renewed for up to 36 months. So, not so short after all.

There’s a reason Trump wants short-term plans to last such a long time. That way, they’ll look like an attractive alternative to insurance for sale on the Obamacare exchanges, with one key difference: Unlike Obamacare plans, short-term insurance doesn’t actually have to insure anything.

Seriously. Unless states step in, these not-so-short-term “short-term” plans are not subject to any of the protections required by the Affordable Care Act.

Short-term plans can turn away people with preexisting conditions, including asthma and acne. They can charge older or sicker people prohibitively expensive premiums.

Eugene Robinson: The world is burning, and the Trump administration wants to make it worse

Look at the non-political news these days: Deadly wildfires burn out of control in parched California. Unusually heavy rains cause devastating floods in parts of Asia. A punishing heat wave kills scores in Japan, South Korea and normally temperate parts of Europe, pushing the mercury into the 90s in Scandinavia. Can anyone fail to see a pattern?

With increasing confidence — and growing alarm — some leading climate scientists attribute this summer’s bizarre weather to human-induced global warming. Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to make it all worse.

This week we saw a juxtaposition of events that you couldn’t make up. On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that 2017 was the second- or third-warmest year on record, depending on which data set is used, trailing only 2016 and perhaps 2015. The very next day, like some cat-stroking Bond villain, President Trump had his environmental vandals propose rolling back automotive fuel-efficiency standards, which would neuter one of the nation’s most effective means of mitigating climate change.

Josh Rogin: Ethnic cleansing makes a comeback — in China

If ethnic cleansing takes place in China and nobody is able to hear it, does it make a sound? That’s what millions of Muslims inside the People’s Republic are asking as they watch the Chinese government expand a network of internment camps and systematic human rights abuses designed to stamp out their peoples’ religion and culture.

Since last year, hundreds of thousands — and perhaps millions — of innocent Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in northwest China have been unjustly arrested and imprisoned in what the Chinese government calls “political re-education camps.” Thousands have disappeared. There are credible reports of torture and death among the prisoners. The government says it is fighting “terrorism” and “religious extremism.” Uighurs say they are resisting a campaign to crush religious and cultural freedom in China. The international community has largely reacted with silence.