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: America the Cowardly Bully
This is the way the trade war ends. Not with a bang but with empty bombast.
According to multiple news organizations, the U.S. and China are close to a deal that would effectively end trade hostilities. Under the reported deal, America would remove most of the tariffs it imposed last year. China, for its part, would end its retaliatory tariffs, make some changes to its investment and competition policies and direct state enterprises to buy specified amounts of U.S. agricultural and energy products.
The Trump administration will, of course, trumpet the deal as a triumph. In reality, however, it’s much ado about nothing much.
As described, the deal would do little to address real complaints about Chinese policy, which mainly involve China’s systematic expropriation of intellectual property. Nor would it do much to address Donald Trump’s pet although misguided peeve, the imbalance in U.S.-China trade. Basically, Trump will have backed down.
Michelle Cottle: Oversight Season Is Heating Up in Washington
If you thought the past two years of inquiries into possible misbehavior by Trumpworld were brutal, brace yourself. Phase 2 is about to heat up.
On Monday, the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee announced a wide-ranging inquiry into “the alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates and members of his administration.”
Citing two years of “near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical and constitutional rules and norms” by the president, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, asserted that, while it was important to respect the continuing criminal investigations, Congress “cannot rely on others to do the investigative work for us.” With Republican lawmakers having abdicated their oversight duties when they controlled the House, Mr. Nadler said, Democrats must now “begin building the public record.” [..]
Look for the next several months to be a nonstop pageant of subpoenas, hearings and court challenges.
Eugene Robinson: Trump’s unhinged CPAC speech should concern us all
The president of the United States gave a rambling and incoherent two-hour speech in which he raved like a lunatic and told crazy, self-serving lies from start to finish. If that no longer qualifies as alarming, we’re in serious trouble.
I realize the speed-of-light news cycle has moved on. I realize anything that happened last week has all but faded into the mists of time. But President Trump’s unhinged performance Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference is surely worth more than a passing shrug. If you had an uncle or a grandpa who sounded so divorced from reality, you’d be urgently concerned.
“You know I’m totally off script right now,” he said. “And this is how I got elected, by being off-script. True. And if we don’t go off-script, our country is in big trouble, folks. Because we have to get it back.”
There was nothing, anything, like a script. [..]
“I’m going to regret this speech,” he said. The rest of us certainly do.
Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s TV Trial
A reality show president can’t control the narrative of all these hearings.
In 1983, the married sociologists Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang published “The Battle for Public Opinion,” a book that sought to explain how Americans, in less than two years, went from overwhelmingly re-electing Richard Nixon to largely supporting his impeachment. [..]
We are about to find out whether facts still have an inexorable logic. The outlines of Donald Trump’s venality and fundamental civic disloyalty have been obvious since the 2016 campaign; Hillary Clinton warned us about him just as McGovern had warned about Nixon. But so far, neither Democrats nor prosecutors have woven the various threads of presidential wrongdoing into a coherent picture, showing how Trump’s shady business practices, opaque finances, vulnerability to blackmail, abuses of power and subservience to foreign autocrats all intersect.
Now, however, Democrats have begun a full-spectrum public investigation of the president. Michael Cohen’s blockbuster testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week was just an opener.
For markets to work, you need a system where either the government protects consumers or consumers can adequately defend themselves. Or both. But you can’t have neither. The “neither” option lands you in a kleptocracy, which is basically where Republicans have been leading the country for the past few years.
Happily, a new bill — introduced by Democratic lawmakers last week — would restore at least some of consumers’ diminished tools for self-defense.
Republican politicians love to talk about their deregulatory successes. They’re not exaggerating: Under President Trump’s leadership, Republicans have repealed or watered down tons of federal rules. If you look through a list of these deregulatory efforts, you’ll notice a striking pattern: Many of them loosen the limits for how much harm businesses can inflict upon consumers.
There are many changes allowing more pollution, for instance.
These include the relaxation of Obama-era standards on coal-ash disposal, which makes it easier for arsenic, mercury and lead from power plants to potentially leak into the water supply. Or another proposed rule allowing coal-fired power plants to release more fine particulate matter into the air.
And there are the many decisions to simply stop enforcing laws and regulations still on the books.