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.

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Heather Digby Parton: Trump’s magical thinking: Snake oil, an Easter resurrection and killing Nana for capitalism

Trump’s in way over his head and his own businesses are failing — and his desperate flailing will kill people

You have to feel sorry for President Trump. He’s under a lot of pressure and he got some very bad news this week. Sure, the coronavirus pandemic is racing through the American population like an out-of-control locomotive. And yes, massive numbers of Americans have abruptly lost their incomes. But this week the crisis came home to Trump himself. He had to face the fact that he personally stands to lose a fortune as his hotels and resorts, here and abroad, are shut down and he and his family are hemorrhaging money.

Normally Americans could feel secure that the president of the United States wasn’t making life or death decisions based upon the financial needs of his family business — the one he continues to own and be involved with even while he is in the White House. But this is Donald Trump and nothing has been normal for years now.

Over the weekend he was asked at one of his daily White House coronavirus campaign rallies about whether or not he would be taking any bailout money, or if he had sold any stock before the market crashed. He answered with a long, meandering disquisition about how hard it is for rich people to run for office:

He’s said that sort of thing before, but his evasion of the question was even more clumsy than usual. He admitted for the first time that he speaks to his sons about the business, which he originally promised not to do. So he was very well aware of all the details outlined in this Washington Post story revealing that the Trump Organization has had to close its properties and it is costing him nearly half a million dollars a day.

This may be the real explanation for his recent abrupt pronouncement that he plans to end all this stay-at-home pandemic folderol and send everyone back to work. He needs the money.

Amanda Marcotte: GOP using pandemic as an excuse to block abortion — which is essential health care

Republicans are using the coronavirus as a reason to deny women abortions — but access is crucial right now

People keep getting sick and the economy is cratering, but for Republicans, hating women is still a major priority. Republican governors in Texas, Ohio and even Maryland are trying to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to block women from getting abortions, claiming that ending a pregnancy is a “nonessential” medical procedure that must be rescheduled, as is happening with non-emergency surgeries and other procedures that hospitals are delaying, to prepare for the expected crush of patients infected with COVID-19.

This excuse is farcical on its face, of course. Most abortions are performed not in hospitals, but outpatient clinics. A patient who goes to Planned Parenthood is not taking up space in a hospital because she is not going to the hospital. In order to get around this problem, the misogynists who control the Republican Party are trying to argue that abortion clinics use up needed medical supplies that should go to hospitals instead. This too is a bad-faith argument, especially since Donald Trump is refusing to invoke his presidential powers to compel companies to manufacture those supplies.

We should see these arguments from Republicans as what they are: Excuses for doing what they have wanted to do all along, which is to punish women for having sex by forcing childbirth on them. But abortion is hardly a “nonessential” service, even in a public health crisis. Abortion is essential health care. Having ready access to abortion when it’s needed only becomes more important in a crisis such as this one.

Jennifer Senior: Trump to New York: Drop Dead

Untold thousands will likely die, absent federal intervention. And it needs to happen this instant. Why won’t the president help?

So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on “The Apprentice” — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic.

If that’s the case, this is the episode where New York loses. The coronavirus is whipping through the state, especially New York City, at a terrifying rate. We need personnel, ventilators and personal protective equipment, stat.

But Trump’s response has been the same as President Gerald Ford’s in 1975, when our city, faltering on the brink of insolvency, begged Washington for help and was brutally rebuffed, a moment forever enshrined in The Daily News’s headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”

Now Trump is telling us the same. Literally.

Tim Wu: We Need to Protect the ‘Touchless Economy’

In a few weeks, it may be all the economy we’ve got.

he economy is currently on life support — yet as that metaphor suggests, it could actually be worse. Imagine if, next week, we find that coronavirus infection has spread so far through major supply lines as to sicken large numbers of the workers who deliver goods and also begins to threaten their recipients. Or imagine what the economy would look like if broadband internet service were to go down for significant parts of the population.

I raise this point because the current debate about the economy is focused largely on matters of the past and the future: how to help afflicted businesses bridge the crisis, whether industries like the airlines’ or cruise lines’ ought to be bailed out. Yet as important as that debate may be, we may be neglecting a very urgent question: How do we protect the “touchless economy” — the part of the economy that is still working.

To put it differently, we need to realize that the touchless economy (also known as the “distance economy”) may be what stands between us and a full-on economic depression. The touchless economy comprises the economic activities that remain possible without close physical interaction between people: the online meeting, the live-streamed yoga session, the virtual conference, the drop-off delivery of groceries and other physical goods. As it stands, this is pretty much all the economy we’ve got.

Karen Tumulty: How reporters should handle Trump’s press briefings

In the interest of protecting the nation’s health, it is time to socially distance ourselves from the crazy things that President Trump keeps saying.

I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of bringing back the daily White House briefings, which Trump’s team had basically quit holding some time around the middle of 2018. So I am relieved to see they have resumed and hope they will continue once the coronavirus crisis has passed.

But not the way they are being conducted now, which is as a substitute for the rallies Trump can no longer hold.

As a former White House reporter myself, I respect, in principle, that everything a president says is news. When he speaks, journalists must take note. Those on the social media sidelines who urge that news organizations boycott the briefing room are simply wrong.

The real question is how to report what a president says when it is disconnected from reality.