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Dec 25 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: The Ghost of Trump Chaos Future

Two years ago, after the shock of Donald Trump’s election, financial markets briefly freaked out, then quickly recovered. In effect, they decided that while Trump was manifestly unqualified for the job, temperamentally and intellectually, it wouldn’t matter. He might talk the populist talk, but he’d walk the plutocratic walk. He might be erratic and uninformed, but wiser heads would keep him from doing anything too stupid.

In other words, investors convinced themselves that they had a deal: Trump might sound off, but he wouldn’t really get to make policy. And, hey, taxes on corporations and the wealthy would go down.

But now, just in time for Christmas, people are realizing that there was no such deal — or at any rate, that there wasn’t a sanity clause. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Put an unstable, ignorant, belligerent man in the Oval Office, and he will eventually do crazy things.

Eugene Robinson: Trump is incompetent, impulsive and amoral. Heaven help us all.

The chaos all around us is what happens when the nation elects an incompetent, narcissistic, impulsive and amoral man as president. This Christmas, heaven help us all.

Much of the government is shut down over symbolic funding for an insignificant portion of a useless border wall that President Trump said Mexico would pay for. The financial markets are having a nervous breakdown that Trump and his aides are making worse. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, widely seen as having kept Trump from plunging national security off some vertiginous cliff, resigned in protest over the president’s latest whim and is being shoved out the door two months early. The world’s leading military and economic power is being yanked to and fro as if by a bratty adolescent with anger management issues.

It has become a cliche to quote William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” written almost 100 years ago in the aftermath of World War I. But no one has said it better: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”

Catherine Rampell: Wonder how the Trump administration would handle a financial crisis? Well, now we know.

The Keystone Cops are officially in charge of our economy.

Markets have been plunging, with the S&P 500 down 20 percent from its September peak. A lot of factors have driven the correction, including President Trump’s trade wars, his government shutdown and a surprise court ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional.

Trump needs a villain, though, and that villain can’t be Trump. Why, according to the president, markets love Trump!

So instead, he declared the villain to be Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell, a man Trump personally chose for the job a year ago.

As Trump and his surrogates love to remind us, most major economic measures — unemployment, gross domestic product, consumer spending — still look strong. Under such circumstances, it’s unsurprising that Powell has continued the gradual interest rate increases begun three years ago under his predecessor, Janet L. Yellen.

Nonetheless, Trump has said the Fed should stop its rate hikes because the economy is apparently too fragile to withstand them. Instead of abiding by tradition and never talking about monetary policy, the president has gone public with his fury with the Fed.

Josh Campbell: Trump’s relationship with Whitaker imperils the rule of law

For those of us who viewed President Trump’s decision to appoint Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general with great skepticism, our greatest fears are now manifest.

When Whitaker was originally announced for the position in November, many were disturbed by Trump’s decision to select a chief law enforcement officer who had spoken out so strongly against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. They feared — as do I — that a President who does not respect the independence of the Justice Department was attempting to install an acolyte who would either seek to limit the Russia probe or disband it altogether and possibly interfere with other investigations into Trump World.
The entire affair smacked of malfeasance. As it turns out, our concerns were well founded.

Rebecca Solnit: The Trump era won’t last for ever. But we must do our part to end it

I keep the newspaper clipping inside a Milan Kundera novel: it shows demonstrators in Prague in 1989, one of them carrying a badly chipped bust of Stalin around whose neck hangs a placard that says nic netrvá věčně: nothing lasts forever. It’s not a war cry, nor a prophesy, but a bald statement of fact at the moment when the Soviet bloc Stalin had been critical in establishing was falling apart and Czechoslovakia was liberating itself.

It must have seemed like forever to those who lived under totalitarianism until all of a sudden “forever” crashed and burned. People worked to make it so at terrible risk; some were imprisoned, or otherwise punished. Some died. They worked without knowledge of how and when their efforts might matter, and the faith that drove those activists is still stunning to contemplate. I think of that history when I think of our present predicament in the United States.