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.

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Paul Krugman: Tariff Man Has Become Deficit Man

Republicans hate deficits. Or at least that’s what they claim.

Republicans in Congress spent the entire Obama administration inveighing against budget deficits, warning incessantly that we were going to have a Greek-style fiscal crisis any day now. Donald Trump, on the other hand, focused his ire mainly on trade deficits, insisting that “our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us.”

But over two years of unified G.O.P. control of government, a funny thing happened: Both deficits surged. The budget deficit has hit a level unprecedented except during wars and in the immediate aftermath of major economic crises; the trade deficit in goods has set a record.

What’s the significance of this tide of red ink?

Let’s be clear: Neither the budget deficit nor the trade deficit poses a clear and present danger to the U.S. economy. Advanced countries that borrow in their own currencies can and often do run up large debts without drastic consequences — which is why the debt panic of a few years ago was always nonsense.

Yet Trump’s twin deficits tell us a lot about both the tweeter in chief and his party — namely, that they’re both dishonest and ignorant.

Jessica Powell: Happy International Women’s Day! Have a Sticker

Congratulations — Friday is International Women’s Day! As a woman, you must be so pleased to be recognized.

In this day and age, when everything is so polarizing, it’s really hard for progressive, multinational corporations like ours to know just when and how to take a stand. But this day is important to us. And while some might say that coming out in support of International Women’s Day is a bold move — even a controversial one — we are willing to stick our necks out to show solidarity with half of the world’s population.

As some of the world’s biggest companies, we are doing many things to honor you on this day.

First, please take a sticker from our bank. Wearing this sticker is a great way to show that you are a woman, or support people who are women. It’s unacceptable that American women make 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men — and this gender pay gap is particularly wide in the international finance industry, where some banks pay women up to 44 percent less on average. Wearing a sticker while walking around our bank is a great way to remind people — for free! — that women in our industry should be paid more by someone. [..]

Finally, we’ve taken our famous M — the beloved symbol of our high-quality fast-food chain — and flipped it upside-down, transforming it into an assertive, empowered W. What — you think burgers are fattening and unhealthy? Who do you think ran those “studies?” It was men, studying other men. Ladies, don’t let any man tell you that you don’t deserve a burger now and then!

Of course, as fun as all this Women’s Day stuff is, we’ll be flipping our logo back to normal tomorrow. We love women, but the M is just a bit more powerful and dynamic, don’t you think?

Eugene Robinson: Trump thinks his supporters are the most gullible people on earth. Are they really?

I’ve got the perfect slogan for President Trump’s reelection campaign: “Promises Made, Promises Not Kept, But I’m Betting My Voters Are Too Stupid to Notice.”

Let’s take stock:

Trump promised to build a wall along the 2,000-mile southern border, with the cost of the “big, beautiful” barrier to be borne by Mexico. Trump made this pledge dozens of times in a call-and-response ritual at his campaign rallies. “Who’s going to pay for the wall?” he would demand, and the cheering crowds would yell the answer: “Mexico!”

Result: Not a single mile of Trump’s wall has been built. When Mexican officials made clear they would never pay a cent toward construction, Trump asked Congress for the money. Even with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate for two full years, Congress declined to waste taxpayer dollars on the project. When Democrats took the House, Trump declared a “national emergency” in an attempt to steal funds from other projects. Still, despite what he claims, Trump has built no new wall. [..]

I could go on. Trump did fulfill some promises he made to far-right ideologues (appointing archconservative judges) and the ultra-rich friends he sups with at Mar-a-Lago (cutting taxes for the wealthy). Overall, though, his administration has been a great big failure.

He apparently believes his loyal supporters are the dumbest, most gullible people on earth. We shall see if he’s right.

Theodore R. Johnson: If Sanders’ attempt to win black voters is a redux of 2016, it won’t be enough

Jay-Z’s Brooklyn Go Hard blared from the speakers Saturday afternoon as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders took the stage in his native borough to kick off a second run for the White House. He capped his campaign launch weekend with a Sunday night rally in Chicago, where he attended college at the height of the civil rights movement. After failing to secure the 2016 Democratic nomination, Sanders’ decision to begin his 2020 bid for the presidency by returning to these two cities of his youth was part of a deliberate strategy to integrate more of his personal story into his campaign. In this regard, he seemed more inspired by the opening line of a different Jay-Z song: “Allow me to reintroduce myself … ”

With his name recognition as high as it is, exactly who was the intended audience? There’s no question it was black voters. The focus of his speeches, the guests that accompanied him on stage, and his visit to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 54th anniversary of Bloody Sunday made it clear that the Sanders’ campaign believes it must improve its black outreach.

But it was also clear to those who tuned in that his approach to winning over black voters in 2020 is going to look a lot like 2016. And that’s probably not going to be enough.

Suzanne Moore: Believe the victims of child sexual abuse? If only we did

Here are some things I don’t really want to think about but have had to over the years: Jimmy Savile’s penchant for tracksuits, as the bottoms can be pulled up and down so easily; vulnerable 13-year-old girls in Rochdale ignored by local police; seven-year-old boys sleeping in the bed of a pop star and being introduced to masturbation; or the day long ago when I was teaching film studies and a film I showed (Terence Davies’ Distant Voices, Still Lives) produced extreme distress for one of my mature students. [..]

What I find shocking at the moment is that we all know about the sexual abuse of children but we still remain in such a deep state of denial about it. The NSPCC estimates that one in 20 children in this country has been sexually abused. The police say that if they were to prosecute every case there would be no time to do anything else. Everyone who works in mental health services, or with addiction, or with the homeless, will tell you how sexual abuse is a factor in the background of so many people they deal with. The detritus of abuse is all around us. We turn a blind eye to that which disturbs us in order to protect ourselves.

Yet as the documentary Leaving Neverland airs, as Wade Robson and James Safechuck talk sometimes blankly, sometimes shakily, about what Michael Jackson did to them, it is hard to say that our understanding of child sexual abuse has grown much over the years.