Aug 08 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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Charles M. Blow: Trump Has Dragged Us Into the Gutter

The targets of the president’s rhetoric are experiencing a nightmare like no other in this country.

It is in times like this that we are able to measure just how low Donald Trump has dragged this country.

On Wednesday, Trump traveled to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Tex., the sites of massacres that played out over the weekend. But he went over the objections of many locals, including elected officials, who didn’t think a visit prudent, largely because of Trump’s own words and actions.

In the El Paso case, the shooting suspect used a framing and language of immigration and Hispanics that seemed to mirror Trump’s own.

But pause to consider the absolutely extraordinary nature of these events: As the nation mourns, some blame Trump for causing it, and believe his presence will compound the pain.

This is what Trump has done.

If you are one of the people in this country who feel personally targeted by Trump — immigrants, people of Mexican heritage, Muslims, people who are transgender, women, African-Americans — you know that we are experiencing this nightmare in a wholly different way, in a deeper way, than people who are not targeted.

When you are not the target of this man’s hate, you can object on moral grounds, as an exercise of principle. But you have chosen the fight.

For the targets, the fight chose us. It dragged us in. We have two choices: be pummeled or fight back.


Paul Krugman: Tariff Tantrums and Recession Risks

Why trade war scares the market so much.

If the bond market is any indication, Donald Trump’s escalating belligerence on trade is creating seriously increased risks of recession. But I haven’t seen many clear explanations of why that might be so. The problem isn’t just, or even mainly, that he really does seem to be a Tariff Man. What’s more important is that he’s a capricious, unpredictable Tariff Man. And that capriciousness is really bad for business investment.

First things first: why do I emphasize the bond market, not the stock market? Not because bond investors are cooler and more rational than stock investors, although that may be true. No, the point is that expected economic growth has a much clearer effect on bonds than on stocks.

Suppose the market becomes pessimistic about growth over the next year, or even beyond. In that case, it will expect the Fed to respond by cutting short-term interest rates, and these expectations will be reflected in falling long-term rates. That’s why the inversion of the yield curve — the spread between long-term and short-term rates — is so troubling. In the past, this has always signaled an imminent recession:

Rich Benjamin: When is Trump going to take white supremacist terror seriously?

After this latest massacre, we are all complicit when we look the other way. And no one is more complicit than the president himself

In a bloody weekend that saw two back-to-back mass shootings, a white male gunman left at least 20 people dead in a Walmart in El Paso, a majority Latino border town. Minutes before the attack on Saturday, the suspect, Patrick Crusius, published a 2,300-word manifesto, which was filled with white nationalist language and racist hatred toward immigrants and Latinos: “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” he wrote.

The media, and Americans generally, are desperately wanting to make sense of yet another young white male mass shooter. And nothing Donald Trump has done or advocated for has remotely stemmed the epidemic of mass shootings since he took office. We should be treating online alt-right and white supremacist radicalization with the exact same seriousness with which we treat online jihadist radicalization. Unfortunately, we are far from doing that.

Michael H. Fuchs: The American right wing is enabling a dual crisis: gun violence and white supremacy

The right can no longer hide behind claims that the two issues should not be ‘political’

The increasingly intertwined threat posed by gun violence and white nationalist terrorists is real, evil and deadly – and it is being enabled and encouraged by Donald Trump and the right wing that he has emboldened and embraced.

Gun violence is the deadliest violent threat facing America today. The Centers for Disease Control recorded 39,773 deaths by firearm in 2017. And while it pales in comparison with the gun epidemic, white nationalist terrorism is a growing threat made more deadly by the availability of guns. The Anti-Defamation League noted that of the 50 deaths caused by domestic extremists in 2018, “white supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings”.

If this many Americans were killed in a war or foreign terror attack, the US government would be in crisis mode. The president would be convening meetings of the cabinet and state and local officials. Congress would be rushing legislation through the door quicker than legislators could read the bills. The media would cover the issue as religiously as it covers Trump’s tweets.

And yet, these issues hardly register in national policy debates, and the reason is the American right wing.

John R. Allen and Brett McGurk: We worked to defeat the Islamic State. White nationalist terrorism is an equal threat.

We both served as presidential envoys leading the U.S. global campaign to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group. In doing so, we worked with all departments and agencies of the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive and multifaceted campaign to defeat Islamic State terrorists on the battlefield, but also, and crucially, through counterfinance, countermessaging and information-sharing across the United States and globally. U.S. leadership and determined diplomacy built one of the largest coalitions in history, now standing at nearly 80 partners. [..]

Throughout, nobody questioned America’s resolve to find and defeat these terrorists and protect the homeland. Whenever one of us would hear excuses for terrorism from regional leaders in the Middle East — for example, condemning Islamic State atrocities but agreeing with underlying political grievances — we gave such arguments no quarter or excuse. There is no political justification for acts of mass murder of civilians. When political leaders give such acts cover, even inadvertently, the movement spreads and innocent people die.

The United States now faces a new national security threat. The enemy is not the Islamic State but domestic and homegrown white nationalist terrorism. And “terrorism” is the term that must be used. The strain of thought driving this terrorism is now a global phenomenon, with mass atrocities in Norway, New Zealand, South Carolina and also, law enforcement authorities suspect, El Paso. The attacks are cheered on by adherents in dark (but readily accessible) corners of the Internet. The terrorist acts may differ from Islamic State attacks in degree, but they are similar in kind: driven by hateful narratives, dehumanization, the rationalization of violence and the glorification of murder, combined with ready access to recruits and weapons of war.