Aug 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.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Bob Bauer: Why Russian Money Ends Up in U.S. Elections

The 2018 campaign may set a record for midterm spending, predicted to hit the $4 billion mark. The ways in which this staggering sum of money will have been collected and spent, and either disclosed or not disclosed, is evidence yet again that our campaign finance system — if it can even be called a “system” — is in tatters. [..]

How bad is it? In 2016, it turns out, one of the larger political organizations active in the presidential election, employing hundreds and spending millions, was organized and run by a foreign government. This intervention from abroad did not end there: The director of national intelligence has warned Congress that Russia “perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

This, then, is the state of campaign finance: a no-holds-barred competition that has proved irresistible to foreign state actors. With the collapse of the 1970s model of regulation, the question is what should take its place — and what role should the United States government play?

Charles M. Blow: President Dumb and Dumber

Donald Trump has a penchant for labeling particular people. It might strike some as just another insult for a petulant urchin of a man who insults everyone with whom he takes issue. But I believe that the nature of his insults to specific kinds of people says something more about the character and nature of the man, something of which he may or may not be aware.

I believe that the fact that he so often attacks the intellectual capacity of women and minorities exposes a racial and gender bias, one that has a long history and a wide acceptance.

On Friday, Trump tweeted:

“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

Lemon, a CNN anchor, was interviewing James about the school James was opening in Akron for at-risk students. During the interview, James accurately noted:

“We’re in a position right now in America, more importantly, where the race thing has taken over because I believe our president is kinda trying to divide us.”

Hover over the irony here: The man trying to help at-risk children by opening doors for them was being attacked by the man who has put children at risk by locking them in cages.

Michael Winship: Manchild in the Oval Office: Trump is the mayhem president who is destroying the country

I know that some find it odious to compare Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler, that doing so violates what’s known as Godwin’s Law. That’s the idea first put forward in 1990 by author Mike Godwin that morphed into the notion that in an argument, whoever first compares someone or something to Hitler, loses.

But, hey, even Godwin has relented, writing in The Washington Post a couple of years ago, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.”

Besides, the prism through which I’m looking right now is that most absurd lens of all, Mel Brooks’ The Producers, the genius 1967 comedy that posits making a fortune by putting on the worst Broadway show in history and running off with the investors’ cash when it flops. The show is Springtime for Hitler, described by its lunatic playwright as, “A Gay Romp with Adolph and Eva in Berchtesgarten.” [..]

The fatal combination of ignorance, moral equivocation and the arrogance that listens to no one (except for the Brainiacs at Fox News) is killing us. Mayhem rules, shamelessly indulged by his party and egged on by a segment of the electorate that continues to fall for the big con and increasingly embraces conspiracy theories that see the deep state conspiring to overthrow Dear Leader and create a land of liberal weenies.

Believe me, if the deep state really existed in the way Donald Trump and his fans believe, if it was as effective and all-powerful as it is in their fever dreams and fantasies, our Mayhem-in-Chief would be back in Queens by now, lucky to find a job selling aluminum siding and timeshares in the Rockaways.

Jennifer Rubin: Republicans make Trump’s racist and incendiary language possible

Republicans’ favorite tactic these days in defending President Trump’s indefensible statements is to pretend he didn’t mean what he said. He really insults all athletes, not just African Americans. No, he really meant to demonize just some of the press. It’s not the language I would use. I didn’t see/read/hear the statement.

No, really, that’s what they’ve been saying. [..]

White House briefings do not deliver news; they serve as a platform for Sanders to lie and to demonize the press. End them. Sanders can be available to reporters for specific questions (allowing her to dissemble and evade one-on-one). It is grossly irresponsible to run the briefings live, in their entirety, allowing her to incite the base and ridicule reporters.

As for the rallies, only state TV (Fox News) covers these live. It would seem, as my colleague Dana Milbank suggests, appropriate (if for no other reason than the safety of reporters) to cover the events with a small press pool. The president’s vile rhetoric does incite racial division, and his language about the press has the capacity to incite violence. (It already incites all manner of threats, as Katy Tur pointed out last week, and which any journalist can attest to.)

And finally, the notion that booking Conway or Rudolph W. Giuliani on TV provides some insight into the administration or imparts knowledge needs to be seriously reconsidered. Guests who prevaricate over and over again shouldn’t be invited back.

By contrast, the press should continue to dog Republicans. If they cannot bring themselves to repudiate the president’s racism and antidemocratic language, they bear responsibility for it.

Michael Tomasky: What Are Capitalists Thinking?

I’ve been fretting lately about the state of mind of America’s capitalists. All these socialists coming out of the woodwork must have them in quite a lather. So I write today with some friendly advice for the capitalist class about said socialists.

You want fewer socialists? Easy. Stop creating them.

Every once in a while in history, cause and effect smack us in the face. The conditions under which the czars forced Russians to live gave rise to Bolshevism. The terms imposed at Versailles fueled Hitler’s ascent. The failures of Keynesianism in the 1970s smoothed the path for supply-side economics. [..]

I have mixed feelings about this socialism boomlet. It has yet to prove itself politically viable in general elections outside a handful of areas, and by 2021 we could wake up and see that it’s been a disaster for Democrats.

But I understand completely why it’s happening. Given what’s been going on in this country, it couldn’t not have happened. And if you’re a capitalist, you’d better try to understand it, too — and do something to address the very legitimate grievances that propelled it.