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Jun 21 2019

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 Trumpification of the Federal Reserve

Like it or not, its next move will be political.

In late 2015 then-candidate Donald Trump accused Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, of being part of a political conspiracy. Yellen, he insisted, was keeping interest rates unjustifiably low in an attempt to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency.

As it happens, there were very good reasons for the Fed to keep rates low at the time. Some measures of the job market, notably prime-age employment, were still well below precrisis levels, and business investment was going through a significant slump — a sort of mini-recession.

Fast forward to the present. The employment picture is much stronger now than it was then. There are hints of an economic slowdown, partly because of the uncertainty created by Trump’s trade war, but they’re considerably fainter than those of 2015-16. And Trump himself keeps boasting about the economy’s strength.

Yet he is openly pressuring the Fed to cut rates, and is reportedly looking for ways to demote Jay Powell, the man he himself chose to replace Yellen — declining to reappoint Yellen, according to some reports, because he didn’t think she was tall enough.

But wait, there’s more. While there are, as I said, hints of a slowdown here, there are much stronger warning signs in Europe, where manufacturing is slumping and recession worries are on the rise. Yet even as he tries to bully the Fed into cutting rates, Trump flew into a rage over reports that the European Central Bank, Europe’s counterpart to the Fed, is considering rate cuts of its own, which would weaken the euro and make U.S. industry less competitive.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump Bets We’ll Stop Caring About Migrant Kids

One year ago, Trump outlawed family separation. It hasn’t stopped.

Exactly one year ago on Thursday, after a national uproar, Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents. Six days later, a federal judge ordered the reunification of thousands of parents and children whom the American government had torn apart. Even though the separation policy had already been officially halted, the court issued a preliminary injunction against it. At the time, it seemed that one of the ugliest chapters of this vicious administration had ended.

But if there’s one thing this administration rarely backs down on, it’s cruelty. Family separation, it turns out, never really stopped. According to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the A.C.L.U.’s National Immigrants’ Rights Project, just over 700 families were separated between last June and late May. Without legal or political intervention, he fears that the number could reach 1,000 by the end of this summer.

In New York alone, Anthony Enriquez, director of the unaccompanied minors program for Catholic Charities, estimated that his office has seen more than 100 separated kids in the last year. “As the time between the injunction and the present increases, more and more separated youth are in fact arriving in New York shelters,” he said.

Catherine Rampell: If even France can’t figure out a climate policy, what hope is there for the U.S.?

If your country can’t figure this out, what hope is there for mine?

I kept wondering this as I met here with Notre Affaire à Tous, one of four organizations suing the French government for failing to keep its Paris climate accord commitments.

In France, unlike in the United States, politicians actually want to lead on this existential crisis. Their constituents know climate change is real, and they are genuinely alarmed by it: Eighty-three percent think climate change is a “major threat” to their country, according to Pew Research Center. In the United States, the share is just 59 percent.

Here, climate marches are frequent and well attended. Here, the Green Party recently became the country’s third- largest contingent in the European Parliament. Here, needless to say, the Paris climate accord was negotiated.

And yet.

When the French government recently attempted to expand its carbon tax — the tool economists consider most effective at curbing use of carbon-intensive technologies and jump-starting green innovation — it failed spectacularly.

Eugene Robinson: Biden is being Biden. That’s a risk.

I get what Joe Biden was trying to say, but I’ll never understand how he tried — and utterly failed — to say it.

Yes, there was a time when the Senate was a chummy men’s club whose members, on some issues, put collegiality ahead of ideology. Yes, I see how the Democratic front-runner might want to hold out the hope, however slim, of a return to the days of “civility” when political foes could find common ground. Yes, I know that Biden is still Biden, which means you never know what might come out of his mouth.

But no, no, a thousand times no, you don’t name former senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia in your fond reminiscences of the good old days. There are plenty of conservative Republicans whom Biden might have cited. He didn’t have to dredge up two vicious Dixiecrat racists who devoted their long careers to denying African Americans basic civil and human rights. [..]

When a passel of his opponents for the Democratic nomination pounced on the remarks and called for an apology, Biden was initially defiant. “Apologize for what?” he said to reporters Wednesday. “There’s not a racist bone in my body; I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period.”

I don’t doubt the integrity of Biden’s bones. But conjuring the ghost of Eastland, who considered African Americans “an inferior race,” and the specter of Talmadge, who fought civil rights legislation every inch of the way, was either a bad strategic choice or a worrisome gaffe.

Harry Litman: The Supreme Court’s Peace Cross decision reveals deep fissures over the establishment clause

The Supreme Court was able to find a small patch of common ground sufficient to resolve the Bladensburg Peace Cross case, but the various opinions in the decision announced on Thursday reveal the deepest fissures among the justices on the most fundamental questions concerning the Constitution’s establishment clause.

First the common ground: The court’s judgment, announced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., permits the 40-foot cross — “undoubtedly a Christian symbol,” as Alito conceded — to stand on public land in Prince George’s County, despite the First Amendment’s protection against the establishment of religion. The basis for Thursday’s decision was a grandfathering principle: The cross was erected nearly 100 years ago and stood without controversy for 89 years. Even if it originally had a religious purpose, the court explained, the passage of time can imbue a monument with historical significance or a common cultural heritage. So, with the Bladensburg cross, which over time became integrated into the community as a solemnization of the World War I dead.

But this rationale, to which seven justices signed on, merely papered over for now remarkably fundamental differences about how the court should approach such establishment-clause cases — and even about the basic purposes of the clause, which cryptically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”