Aug 15 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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Steve Rattner: How World Leaders Ruined the Global Economy

They took the best growth picture in a decade and put us in danger of recession.

Why are so many key global leaders pursuing so many stupid economic policies?

As recently as January 2018, the International Monetary Fund issued one of its most upbeat economic forecasts in recent years, extolling “broad based” growth, with “notable upside surprises.”

By last month, the fund had sliced its forecast for expansion this year to 3.2 percent — a significant falloff from the 3.9 percent projection reiterated just six months earlier — and had pronounced the economic picture “sluggish.” American investors are more concerned; the bond market is sounding its loudest recessionary alarm since April 2007.

The deterioration in the economic picture is not the consequence of irresponsible behavior by banks or a natural disaster or an unanticipated economic shock; it’s completely self-inflicted by major world leaders who have delivered almost universally poor economic stewardship.

The trade war initiated by President Trump sits firmly atop the list of bad policies. But Brexit has tipped Britain into economic contraction. With European governments unwilling to pursue structural reforms, the continent is barely growing. President Xi Jinping of China has focused on standing up to Mr. Trump and solidifying his own power. After a promising start reforming the economy, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has turned instead to oppressing his country’s Muslim minority.

And on and on.

Charles M. Blow: America Made Lady Liberty a Hypocrite

Invoking the poem at her base is the wrong response to Trump’s latest move to keep out nonwhite immigrants.

I’m really glad we’re having a discussion about what the Statue of Liberty means to America, even if it is precipitated by nefarious thinking. This week, the Trump administration moved forward with a change in legal immigration policy that will limit people allowed to enter the country to those who are well enough off not to need public assistance. It is called the “public charge” rule.

This is yet another way for the administration to restrict people coming from poorer countries, many of them countries with black and brown people. What we are witnessing is an all-out, every-avenue strategy to maintain America as a white majority country — and, by extension, to extend white power and white supremacy — for as long as possible.

This is the game. This has always been the game. This is why President Trump’s base loves him. He is fighting for their primacy, their privileges and their power. But media, politicians and liberals in general make a huge mistake when they respond by invoking the Statue of Liberty and the poem inscribed on the pedestal.

Harry Litman: Joaquin Castro struck a nerve. But publishing a list of Trump donors is constitutional.

Joaquin Castro has provided the Trump campaign and its high-end donors a lesson in the First Amendment, and they don’t like it.

Castro, a Democrat who represents San Antonio in the House of Representatives, tweeted that it was “sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” adding that “their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’ ”

Team Trump’s outrage was immediate. The Trump campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, blasted Castro for “inviting harassment of these private citizens.” The Washington Examiner and other outlets condemned Castro’s “shaming” of Trump supporters. [..]

The argument that Castro has published a “target list” — “at worst, he’s encouraging violence,” wrote Murtaugh — is especially rich coming from a crowd led by a president one of whose only actual accomplishments is elevating the schoolyard threat into a feature of American presidential politics.

The larger irony is that the aggrieved howls of protest for violation of Americans’ free-speech rights have it exactly backward.

It is Castro’s publication of the list of maximum donors that is protected by the First Amendment, which in fact requires the high rollers to accept their outing as the price of free speech.

Steve Greehouse: American unions have been decimated. No wonder inequality is booming

Something urgent needs to be done to give America’s workers more say in our politics so that their voices are not dwarfed by billionaires

Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage in a decade, the longest stretch without such an increase since the federal minimum wage was first enacted in 1938. One state legislature after another has passed right-to-work laws to undermine unions. Donald Trump has taken numerous anti-worker actions: scrapping several worker safety rules, rolling back a regulation extending overtime pay to millions more workers, and killing a rule that required Wall Street firms to act in the best interests of workers when overseeing their 401(k) plans. Trump has even nominated as labor secretary a lawyer who has spent decades fighting on behalf of corporations to weaken worker protections.

In my new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, I explain that there is a little-understood, but profound reason why all these anti-worker actions are happening: America’s unions and workers have less power in policymaking and the workplace than they have in decades. Indeed, the percentage of workers in unions is at its lowest level in over a century – down to 10.5% from a peak of 35%. All this helps explain why wages have stagnated for decades, income inequality has soared and corporations and billionaire donors have undue sway over our politics, policymaking and political appointments.

In the 2015–16 election cycle, business outspent unions 16-to-1 –$3.4bn to $213m – according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Each year all of the nation’s unions spend about $48m on lobbying in Washington, while corporate America spends more than $2.5bn – more than 50 times as much. This has made many in Congress far more attentive to corporations than to workers, thus the rush to cut corporate taxes, but the failure to increase the minimum wage.

Amanda Marcotte: If “Blue Lives Matter,” how come conservatives won’t back gun control to save cops?

A shooter injured six cops in Philly, but the right still rejects gun control that could keep officers safer

In response to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement — which addresses police violence against civilians, among other things — angry conservatives retaliated by creating the pseudo-movement “Blue Lives Matter.” That phrase was meant to imply that people who want to reduce civilian killings by police are trying to get cops killed, and that conservatives are the only ones who are standing up for the boys in blue who keep our streets safe. Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, has run with this line of argument, using it, as well as showy and insincere displays of patriotism, to attack black celebrities who speak out against racism.

It turns out, however, that when given a choice between protecting “blue lives” and defending ridiculously lax gun laws, conservatives will always choose the latter. That was amply demonstrated after Wednesday’s mass shooting in Philadelphia, in which six police officers were injured and two were held hostage during an hours-long standoff with a heavily armed man who was trying to evade arrest on drug charges.

“When will it stop, right?” presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as the standoff was ongoing. “Part of my focus on what we need to do around smart gun safety laws is we have to have more enforcement around gun dealers.”

Right-wing America responded, as it generally does, by immediately prioritizing guns over human lives — in this case, the lives of police officers.