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: Here Comes the Trump Slump

And he has only himself to blame.

When he isn’t raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both G.D.P. and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under Barack Obama. In fact, someone who looked only at the past 10 years of data would never guess that an election had taken place.

But now it’s starting to look as if Trump really will achieve something unique: He may well be the first president of modern times to preside over a slump that can be directly attributed to his own policies, rather than bad luck. [..]

Once again, manufacturing is contracting. Agriculture is also taking a severe hit, as is shipping. Overall output and employment are still growing, but around a fifth of the economy is effectively in recession.

But unlike previous presidents, who were just unlucky to preside over slumps, Trump has done this to himself, largely by choosing to wage a trade war he insisted would be “good, and easy to win.”

Sylvie Kauffmann: Ukraine’s Leader Has Jumped Into Trump’s Trap

And the winner is … Vladimir Putin.

For some Europeans, the most embarrassing revelation of the now very public phone conversation between Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president on July 25 was not the attempt by Mr. Trump to interfere in the judiciary system of a foreign country for his own political benefit. Nothing the American president does could surprise any longer.

What they found particularly disappointing, instead, was the servility with which his young counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, sought to ingratiate himself with Mr. Trump, pretending that he had won the Ukrainian presidency by imitating him, claiming to have appointed a new prosecutor general who would be “100 percent my person,” and happily joining in the Euro-bashing that has become one of Mr. Trump’s trademarks. [..]

President Zelensky, his image now tarnished, is left to mend fences with his European allies. President Macron will have to adjust to this new situation. Last but not least, as the anti-corruption activist Daria Kaleniuk recently lamented on the Ukrainian television channel Hromadske, “The U.S. push for good governance in Ukraine is seriously undermined. What America was selling to the world used to be the rule of law.”

And the winner is … Vladimir Putin. President Jimmy Carter’s former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard,” described newly independent Ukraine as “a geopolitical pivot, because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia.” He added: “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state.”

The stakes are still that high. Whether President Trump is aware of it is anybody’s guess.

Regardless of President Trump’s fate in the impeachment inquiry, his presidency has exposed serious fissures in our system of government that require repair — especially when it comes to the integrity of government research. Nothing illustrates that better than “SharpieGate,” an absurd incident in early September during which the White House reportedly ordered top weather officials to back the president’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama.

This isn’t the first time this administration has retaliated against scientists for doing their jobs. The Agriculture Department recently decided to relocate an entire staff of career economists from Washington to the Kansas City area after they published reports on the financial harms of Trump’s trade policies. The Interior Department moved a climate scientist to an accounting role after he stressed the dangers of climate change to Alaska’s Native communities. A recent tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists listed more than 120 attacks on science by the Trump administration.

Clearly, the informal rules and guardrails that used to rein in political attempts to interfere with data and research can no longer be trusted. Congress must turn these norms into law.

Eugene Robinson: Trump apparently thinks he’s a master at gaslighting

President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was an impeachable abuse of power.

I repeat: President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was an impeachable abuse of power.

Once again, President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was an impeachable abuse of power.

No apologies for the redundancy. Trump is trying to gaslight Americans by claiming, over and over again, that the smoking-gun evidence against him was actually a “perfect” phone call. He said it 12 times in brief Oval Office remarks Wednesday as Finnish President Sauli Niinisto quietly looked on, and four more times at their joint news conference that poor Niinisto had to endure as Trump went off the rails. He has said it repeatedly on Twitter, often in ALL CAPS. Since the rough transcript of the call was released last week, he has said it virtually whenever he has been within yelling distance of a microphone.

The most dishonest president we’ve ever had wants you to believe him , not your lying eyes.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which victims are led to doubt the evidence of their senses and the soundness of their reason. The term was coined in the 1930s, deriving from the title of a British play, but the practice is as old as human history. Trump apparently fancies himself a master of it.

Karen Tumulty: This might be the worst impeachment news of all for Trump

As the president of the United States rants and rages about the prospect of his impeachment, the woman who set the gears in motion is a study in serenity.

“I feel very at peace with all of this, very at peace,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told me in an interview Wednesday.

It had been just over a week since she had announced that a formal impeachment investigation would begin in the House. Like the rest of us, Pelosi can see that the pressure is getting to President Trump, as he erupts in profane outbursts and spews reckless accusations of treason at those who would challenge his actions.

“Sometimes, I think he is having a limbo contest with himself, to see how low he can go in his rhetoric,” she said. “I think he was surprised that this happened, because he thinks he can do whatever he wants.” [..]

“I’ve been kind of unhappy about the fact that most people in the country didn’t know what we were doing. I’m tired of whining about the press not printing it. We’ve got to go advertise it ourselves, and we’ll do that,” Pelosi said.

In the meantime, Trump’s chief adversary at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue is settling in for the duration, however long it might be. “I have never talked about any timeline. I don’t have the timeline,” Pelosi said. “It will go expeditiously — that is to say, we’ll use the time well to get the facts. We’re not moving hastily, though.”

For a president who grows more agitated by the day, that might be the worst news of all.