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May 12 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: Judas, Tax Cuts and the Great Betrayal

The denarius, ancient Rome’s silver coin, was supposedly the daily wage of a manual worker. If so, the tax cuts that the richest 1 percent of Americans will receive if the Affordable Care Act is repealed — tax cuts that are, obviously, the real reason for repeal — would amount to the equivalent of around 500 pieces of silver each year.

What inspired this calculation? The spectacle of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, defending Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey.

Everyone understands that Mr. Comey was fired not because of his misdeeds during the campaign — misdeeds that helped put Trump in the White House — but because his probe of Russian connections with the Trump campaign was accelerating and, presumably, getting too close to home. So this looks very much like the use of presidential power to cover up possible foreign subversion of the U.S. government.

And the two leading Republicans in Congress are apparently O.K. with that cover-up, because the Trump ascendancy is giving them the chance to do what they always wanted, namely, take health insurance away from millions of Americans while slashing taxes on the wealthy

So you can see why I find myself thinking of Judas.

Jenifer Rubin: Jeff Sessions is in deep trouble, and here’s why

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. “During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for president of the United States,” he said in his written recusal released on March 2. “Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.”

Any existing or future investigations. Related in any way.

Sessions consulted with the president and coordinated the firing of James Comey. [..]

That is the investigation that Sessions promised to stay away from. Firing the man heading the investigation — especially if Sessions knew that the reason was not the one stated in Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s May 9 memo — is a matter “arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.”

Sessions may have some explanation for why he chose to participate in the firing of Comey. But the attorney general may now be in considerable legal peril.

Eugene Robinson: Trump seems to be staging a coverup. So what’s the crime?

Possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign was once little more than a conspiracy theory, but not anymore. The only way to make sense of this week’s stunning events is to conclude that there is something that President Trump desperately wants to hide.

The party-line explanation of why Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey — that it was all about the way Comey handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails — crumbled within hours. Press secretary Sean Spicer comically ducked behind shrubbery on the White House grounds, hiding from television cameras, to give reporters a confused and disjointed account of the dismissal. Efforts to blame the whole thing on Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein ceased after Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign.

Well-sourced reports in The Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets agreed on a very different explanation: Trump had grown increasingly angry at the doggedness with which Comey’s FBI was investigating how and why Russia meddled in the election. The president decided to fire Comey, then had Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein come up with a rationale.

Steven W. Thrasher: Trump’s voter fraud commission is a shameless white power grab

It’s been a terrible week for American voting rights. On Thursday, Donald Trump announced that Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach will work with the vice-president, Mike Pence, to lead a commission on voter fraud and suppression. Let’s be clear about what this is: a white power grab as naked and frightening as last summer’s nude statues of Trump himself.

Before the election, Trump engaged in race-baiting when he called for poll monitors and told his supporters to “take a look at Philadelphia, what’s been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St Louis”. It’s no coincidence that these are three cities with large African American populations.

After the election, Trump said 3-5 million people voted “illegally” (they didn’t – that’s a lie). This, too, was race baiting. As was the egregious comment during his campaign in which he called Mexicans “rapists”. Trump has repeatedly tried to scare white people into fearing “the other”. This voting commission continues that effort by suggesting black and brown folk are voting improperly – and it will work.

After the election, Trump said 3-5 million people voted “illegally” (they didn’t – that’s a lie). This, too, was race baiting. As was the egregious comment during his campaign in which he called Mexicans “rapists”. Trump has repeatedly tried to scare white people into fearing “the other”. This voting commission continues that effort by suggesting black and brown folk are voting improperly – and it will work.

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