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Mar 20 2017

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: America’s Epidemic of Infallibility

Two weeks after President Trump claimed, bizarrely, that the Obama administration had wiretapped his campaign, his press secretary suggested that GCHQ — Britain’s counterpart to the National Security Agency — had done the imaginary bugging. British officials were outraged. And soon the British press was reporting that the Trump administration had apologized.

But no: Meeting with the chancellor of Germany, another ally he’s alienating, Mr. Trump insisted that there was nothing to apologize for. He said, “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind,” a commentator on (of course) Fox News.

Was anyone surprised? This administration operates under the doctrine of Trumpal infallibility: Nothing the president says is wrong, whether it’s his false claim that he won the popular vote or his assertion that the historically low murder rate is at a record high. No error is ever admitted. And there is never anything to apologize for.

O.K., at this point it’s not news that the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military is a man you wouldn’t trust to park your car or feed your cat. Thanks, Comey. But Mr. Trump’s pathological inability to accept responsibility is just the culmination of a trend. American politics — at least on one side of the aisle — is suffering from an epidemic of infallibility, of powerful people who never, ever admit to making a mistake.

Russ Feingold: If Gorsuch is confirmed, the legitimacy of the US supreme court won’t recover

While Russia’s involvement in our elections is unquestionably horrible, and it will likely take many more drip, drip, drips before we know the full extent of it, our democracy is facing an equally devastating threat much closer to home.

On Monday, when Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin, the Republicans will attempt to complete their cynical political takeover of the US supreme court, launched last year when they failed to confirm or to even give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.

Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. Already, the legitimacy of the supreme court has taken a severe blow because of it. But, if Gorsuch is confirmed, it would lock in a dangerous precedent from which the legitimacy of our highest court might never recover.

Trevor Timm: Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party

If you look at the numbers, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America – and it’s not even close. Yet bizarrely, the Democratic party – out of power across the country and increasingly irrelevant – still refuses to embrace him and his message. It’s increasingly clear they do so at their own peril.

A new Fox News poll out this week shows Sanders has a +28 net favorability rating among the US population, dwarfing all other elected politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. And he’s even more popular among the vaunted “independents”, where he is at a mind boggling +41. {..]

One would think with numbers like that, Democratic politicians would be falling all over themselves to be associated with Sanders, especially considering the party as a whole is more unpopular than the Republicans and even Donald Trump right now. Yet instead of embracing his message, the establishment wing of the party continues to resist him at almost every turn, and they seem insistent that they don’t have to change their ways to gain back the support of huge swaths of the country.

Juan Cole: Trump Picks Fights with US Allies: Germany, NATO, EU, Britain etc.

After Trump falsely accused President Obama of having him wiretapped at Trump Tower during the campaign, Sean Spicer upped the ante by charging that Obama could have used the British GCHQ electronic surveillance agency to carry out the monitoring. GCHQ does in fact outrageously invade people’s privacy online, but there is no reason to think it targeted Trump or that President Obama could have ordered them around. Although initially it was reported that Spicer apologized to an outraged British government, he denies any apology was proffered.

After an awkward meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the Free World, Trump tweeted out an insulting message accusing Germany and other NATO countries of not paying the US enough for the “very expensive” defense umbrella Washington spreads over Europe. [..]

The European Union has complained bitterly about proposed US cuts in development aid. The UN is in the midst of a major, and so far amazingly successful, bid to reduce absolute poverty in the world. Trump’s stinginess would endanger the success of this program. In Trump’s budget, only Israel’s $3 bn a year is sacrosanct. Israel is a wealthy country that doesn’t need US aid.

At this rate we won’t have any allies soon.

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