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.
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Paul Krugman: The New Economy and the Trump Rump
A little over a year ago, Amazon invited cities and states to offer bids for a proposed second headquarters. This set off a mad scramble over who would gain the dubious privilege of paying large subsidies in return for worsened traffic congestion and higher housing prices. (Answer: New York and greater D.C.)
But not everyone was in the running. From the beginning, Amazon specified that it would put the new facility only in a Democratic congressional district. [..]
Over the past generation, America’s regions have experienced a profound economic divergence. Rich metropolitan areas have gotten even richer, attracting ever more of the nation’s fastest growing industries. Meanwhile, small towns and rural areas have been bypassed, forming a sort of economic rump left behind by the knowledge economy.
Amazon’s headquarters criteria perfectly illustrate the forces behind that divergence. Businesses in the new economy want access to large pools of highly educated workers, which can be found only in big, rich metropolitan areas. And the location decisions of companies like Amazon draw even more high-skill workers to those areas.
In other words, there’s a cumulative, self-reinforcing process at work that is, in effect, dividing America into two economies. And this economic division is reflected in political division.
Eugene Robinson: It’s time for the rats to leave Trump’s sinking ship
Like a television show that has jumped the shark, President Trump’s frantic act grows more desperate and pathetic by the day.
Asked by Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” to grade his presidency, Trump absurdly replied: “Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A-plus. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?”
Much closer to the mark is the assessment by Republican lawyer and operative George Conway, the husband of one of Trump’s closest White House aides, counselor Kellyanne Conway: “The administration is like a s—show in a dumpster fire.”
And it is all getting worse. The cravenness, incompetence, corruption, dysfunction, insanity — all of it.
Katrina vanden Heuvel: How Democrats can turn up the heat on Trump — and win the battle of ideas
House Democrats won a majority in the midterms with a focus on health care and other kitchen-table issues. When the next Congress begins in January, though, Republican control of the Senate means that Democrats will have little ability to advance the policies they campaigned on. But even with a divided government and a president who is more interested in sowing division than developing legislation, Democrats can lay out markers for a bold alternative to Trumpism.
After two years of Republicans turning a blind eye to rampant corruption, House Democrats are widely expected to focus on investigating the Trump administration. Yet while they’ll have a bottomless well of scandals and conflicts of interest to look into, progressive Democrats have a chance to do more than simply turn up the heat on President Trump and his cronies. With members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in line to chair 13 committees, the incoming majority can also connect much-needed oversight to a bold policy vision that frames a clear choice for voters heading into 2020.
Catherine Rampell: Arkansas’s Medicaid experiment has proved disastrous
This summer, Arkansas became the first state to require poor people to prove they’re employed to receive Medicaid.
Critics say the state is trying to save money on the backs of the poor. That’s nonsense, Arkansas officials reply. They want to help the poor. Backed by the Trump administration, they are inspiring slackers and moochers to climb the economic ladder.
Thirteen other states are pursuing similar policies. They’d do well to pause their plans. For many low-income families, the Arkansas experiment has already proved disastrous. More than 12,000 have been purged from the state Medicaid rolls since September — and not necessarily because they’re actually failing to work 80 hours a month, as the state requires.
In an age when speed overcomes thought, a culture of immediacy blots out any vestige of historical memory and markets replace social categories, language loses its critical moorings and becomes what Chris Hedges has called “a gift to demagogues and the corporations that saturate the landscape with manipulated images and the idiom of mass culture.”
No longer a vehicle for critique, doubt or possibility, language in the age of Donald Trump upholds the cultural and political workstations of ignorance and paves the way for a formative culture ripe with the death-saturated practices and protocols of fascist politics. As a species of neoliberal fascism eradicates social bonds and democratic communal relations, vulgarity parades as political wisdom and moral cowardice becomes a mark of pride. In a neoliberal age that has a high threshold of disappearance, the sins of a Vichy-inspired history have returned and are deeply rooted in a Republican Party that is as criminogenic as it is morally irresponsible and politically corrupt.