Aug 31 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: For Whom the Economy Grows

“What’s in a name?” asked Shakespeare. But hey, I’m an economist, so let me ask a somewhat different question: What’s in a number?

Quite a lot, suggest Senators Chuck Schumer and Martin Heinrich. This week they introduced a bill that would direct the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which produces estimates of gross domestic product, to produce estimates telling us who benefits from growth — for example, how much is going to the middle class.

This is a really good idea.

Now, I’m not one of those people who think G.D.P. is a terribly flawed or useless statistic. It’s a number we need for many purposes. But on its own it isn’t an adequate measure of economic success.

There are a number of reasons this is true, but one key issue is that it tells you only what’s happening to average income, which isn’t always relevant to how most people live. If Jeff Bezos walks into a bar, the average wealth of the bar’s patrons suddenly shoots up to several billion dollars — but none of the non-Bezos drinkers have gotten any richer.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Assault on Google

On Tuesday, in the course of his morning rage-tweeting, Donald Trump denounced Google for having news results “RIGGED” against him, “so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” It was part of an escalating right-wing assault on various technology platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which conservatives are accusing, in timeworn fashion, of liberal bias.

Trump appears to have gotten his information from the Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, who in turn was relying on a blog post from PJ Media titled, “96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are From Liberal Media Outlets.” The rub, here, is how the post defines “liberal.” It includes a chart in which almost every mainstream, credible news organization is on the left — not just The New York Times and The Washington Post, but Bloomberg, USA Today and The Associated Press. The chart puts Infowars, Alex Jones’s conspiracy website, closer to the center than Time magazine.

Essentially, conservatives want to create a world where objective information and right-wing disinformation are treated equally. They’re running the same playbook on tech that they ran, for decades, on media, caterwauling about bias so that defensive editors would treat them with kid gloves. Only now, these howls about viewpoint discrimination have the force of the United States government behind them.

The Nwe York Times Editorial Board: The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said on June 20, when he signed an executive order halting his administration’s depraved practice of separating migrant children from parents seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border. “This will solve that problem.”

It may be that signing such an order was a matter of conscience for Mr. Trump — that he felt morally compelled to address the humanitarian crisis caused by his own “zero tolerance” border policy.

But if so, the matter should still upset him. While family separations have slipped from the spotlight — allowing Mr. Trump to enjoy his morning executive time without enduring televised images of sobbing migrant children — the crisis itself is far from over. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. Many of those who have been reunited bear the scars of trauma. Migrant families continue to be rounded up into government detention centers, though now at least they are being held together.

Eugene Robinson: This vile, unadulterated racism

President Trump’s bigoted hatred of Latino immigrants has been clear from the beginning. Now his administration is aggressively persecuting Latino citizens as well.

It is hard to be shocked anymore, given the daily outrages committed by Trump and his minions, but a report Thursday by The Post was jaw-dropping: In the borderlands of southern Texas, the State Department is denying passports to hundreds and perhaps thousands of men and women who have official birth certificates demonstrating they were born in the United States.

In some cases, valid passports have been confiscated and revoked, their holders stranded in Mexico, unable to come home. In other cases, people have been arrested, sent to detention centers and slated for deportation. Imagine how they and their American families must feel — and how their distress must make Trump and his fellow xenophobes feel warm inside.

Catherine Rampell: When liberals are rooting for Jeff Sessions, you know something’s wrong

How on earth did Jeff Sessions — Jeff Sessions! — find himself abandoned by the right and embraced by the left?

For sure, President Trump has a special talent for matchmaking strange bedfellows. He has somehow gotten liberals to feel a begrudging sympathy or even admiration for figures they once reviled. Think: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), James B. Comey, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) (however briefly), the Kochs. Even ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is getting some love (and donations) from left-wingers.

But, surely, the unlikeliest of the left’s adopted underdogs is Trump’s embattled U.S. attorney general.

Publicly and privately, the president has expressed his displeasure with Sessions. Trump complains that Sessions has been disloyal and disgraceful, that he has gone soft on Hillary Clinton and the “deep state,” and even that he talks funny.

Look, there are lots and lots of reasons to criticize Sessions. But his Southern drawl and supposed pro-Clintonism are not among them.

Instead, look to his policy record.