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Jul 10 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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 Deadly Delusions of Mad King Donald

He won’t give up on a failing pandemic strategy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more and more as if we’re all trapped on the Titanic — except that this time around the captain is a madman who insists on steering straight for the iceberg. And his crew is too cowardly to contradict him, let alone mutiny to save the passengers.

A month ago it was still possible to hope that the push by Donald Trump and the Trumpist governors of Sunbelt states to relax social distancing and reopen businesses like restaurants and bars — even though we met none of the criteria for doing so safely — wouldn’t have completely catastrophic results.

At this point, however, it’s clear that everything the experts warned was likely to happen, is happening. Daily new cases of Covid-19 are running two and a half times as high as in early June, and rising fast. Hospitals in early-reopening states are under terrible pressure. National death totals are still declining thanks to falling fatalities in the Northeast, but they’re rising in the Sunbelt, and the worst is surely yet to come.

A normal president and a normal political party would be horrified by this turn of events. They would realize that they made a bad call and that it was time for a major course correction; they would start taking warnings from health experts seriously.

Neal Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer: Presidents don’t usually lose as badly at the Supreme Court as Trump did

The justices rejected all of his outlandish arguments — and the next steps could be worse for him

residents sometimes lose at the Supreme Court. But rarely do they lose as fundamentally — or as personally — as President Trump lost Thursday. In deciding cases involving access to Trump’s personal financial records, the Supreme Court unambiguously rejected the core Trumpian view of the presidency as a complete shield from outside scrutiny. And the way forward looks even worse for Trump: The financial records Trump has long been so desperately fighting to hide are coming out, sooner or later — and indeed possibly before the election.

The cases decided Thursday stemmed from investigations into Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and by the House of Representatives. Vance had the best day at the court he could possibly have had: The only issue in his case, whether Trump as a sitting president is wholly shielded from Vance’s investigation, was rejected by the court — full stop. Along the way, all nine justices rejected Trump’s main argument: that the Constitution offers a sitting president an impenetrable shield from state investigators. Yes, there are more arguments to be made back in the lower courts, but that was always going to be the case. This was a clean and total win for Vance and a devastating loss for Trump, not just of the case but of his anti-democratic conception of the American presidency.

The court’s decision in the other set of cases stemming from House investigations might seem, on the face of it, less total a defeat for Trump. The court asked lower courts, which had upheld subpoenas from the House, to reconsider whether to enforce the House’s actions using a new standard that’s more sensitive to separation of powers questions that Trump raised. But make no mistake: The court totally rejected Trump’s central argument that the House could never obtain his personal financial records. Here, too, the court was overwhelming in finding Trump’s view of the presidency far too close to absolute monarchy to exist in America’s constitutional democracy. There’s more to be done in the lower courts in these cases, too. But Trump lost — and lost bad.

George T. Conway III: What Mary Trump’s book and the ‘Trump v. Vance’ case have in common

What do a gripping family tell-all book and a momentous Supreme Court decision have in common? Quite a lot, it turns out.

The book, to be published next week, comes from Mary L. Trump, a clinical psychologist who happens also to be niece of Donald Trump, the president of the United States. It describes how Donald Trump has been protected by institutions his entire life.

Trump v. Vance, the Supreme Court case decided Thursday, illustrates how the president has pushed those protections to the limit — and how they’re about to end.

Mary Trump’s ”Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” tells a remarkable story, the broad strokes of which many already knew. Mary Trump offers a tale of what she calls “malignant” family dysfunction, and how it produced a malignantly dysfunctional president.

It’s an unsparing and relentlessly detailed account. Her professional judgments about the president’s indisputable narcissism and, perhaps, sociopathy dovetail with those that other experts have reached before. Yet it’s not the possible diagnoses that give Mary Trump’s book its punch. It’s the factual detail — detail that only a family member could provide.

Catherine Rampell: How the Trump administration is turning legal immigrants into undocumented ones

The Trump administration is turning legal immigrants into undocumented ones.

That is, the “show me your papers” administration has literally switched off printers needed to generate those “papers.”

Without telling Congress, the administration has scaled back the printing of documents it has already promised to immigrants — including green cards, the wallet-size I.D.’s legal permanent residents must carry everywhere to prove they are in the United States lawfully.

In mid-June, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ contract ended with the company that had been printing these documents. Production was slated to be insourced, but “the agency’s financial situation,” USCIS said Thursday, prompted a hiring freeze that required it to ratchet down printing.

Of the two facilities where these credentials were printed, one, in Corbin, Ky., shut down production three weeks ago. The other facility, in Lee’s Summit, Mo., appears to be operating at reduced capacity. [..]

Under normal circumstances, immigrants who need proof of legal residency but haven’t yet received their green card would have an alternative: get a special passport stamp from USCIS. But amid covid-related changes, applicants must provide evidence of a “critical need,” with little guidance about what that means.

“The bottom line is that applicants pay huge filing fees, and it appears that these fees have apparently been either squandered through mismanagement or diverted to enforcement-focused initiatives, to the great detriment of applicants as well as the overall efficiency of the immigration process,” says Anis Saleh, an immigration attorney in Coral Gables, Fla. “The administration has accomplished its goal of shutting down legal immigration without actually changing the law.”

Amanda Marcotte: In 2020, Trump’s distraction superpowers have finally stopped working

Trump shoved every scandal off the front page by generating five new outrages — but that’s not working anymore

Donald Trump is dumb — so dumb he literally suggested on live television that scientists should explore injecting household cleaners into people’s lungs to cure the coronavirus. But due to what appears to be a serious and undiagnosed personality disorder — his niece Mary Trump, who is a clinical psychologist, suggests it’s likely narcissism or sociopathy — Trump managed to stumble backwards into a strategy that works well with the 24-hour cable news ecosystem of national politics. Actually, “strategy” may be too strong a word, but it’s inarguable that Trump’s short attention span, impulsive nature and all-consuming corruption have meant a constant deluge of scandals and outrages, with each one knocking the last one out of the headlines.

The result has, impossibly, redounded to Trump’s advantage. Because no one scandal lingers in the headlines and cable chyrons too long, his scandals and failures have taken on an ephemeral nature. Much of the public, which only half watches the news at best, has no idea how serious the situation is, since no single story sticks around long enough to make an impression on voters who aren’t compulsive political junkies. Even those of us who spend 12 hours a day engaged with the news cycle lose track of how serious the situation is. [..]

But 2020 appears to be the year that Teflon Don’s superpower of distracting us from one scandal with the next one is finally starting to fail him. He now faces two stories that he can’t push out of the headlines, no matter what outrageous things he says or what antics he pulls: The coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protest movement. Going by his abysmal approval ratings, it appears that Trump is just as vulnerable as any other politician to being defined by a negative story that lingers in the headlines day after day, week after week, month after month.

It’s no longer background noise. People are paying attention, finally, to how bad this president really is.

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