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May 18 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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Trevor Timm: The Trump news you missed: he asked Comey to jail journalists

By now, everyone has heard the blockbuster news that Trump allegedly asked the FBI director, James Comey, to drop the Michael Flynn investigation. But buried deep inside in the the New York Times story was another bombshell that was just as important: Trump reportedly urged Comey to jail journalists who publish classified information.

Tied to this disturbing news was another story that didn’t get enough attention last week amongst the chaos: the Washington Post reported multiple times that part of the reason Trump fired Comey was that he was incensed that the FBI was not being more aggressive in investigating leaks coming out of his administration. Apparently, Trump was even insisting at one point that the FBI needed to go after leaks about non-classified information (which is not a crime by anyone’s standards). [..]

It’s bad enough for press freedom that Trump is so determined to go after whistleblowers and sources within his administration who are attempting to get the truth to the American public. When their sources are investigated, journalists face the prospect of surveillance or subpoenas to testify and it can inhibit important investigative reporting. But directly prosecuting journalists is an unprecedented step that should send a chill down the spine of any American who values the first amendment – no matter their political persuasion.

Michael Hayden: Former CIA director: Trump proves he’s Russia’s ‘useful fool’

In November, a few days before the election, I tried to parse Donald Trump’s strange affection for Vladimir Putin and the various contacts that members of his campaign had had with folks in Russia.

The best explanation I could come up with was something the Russians call polezni durak, the “useful fool.” That’s a term from the Soviet era describing the naive individual whom the Kremlin usually held in contempt but who could be induced to do things on its behalf.

Six months later, it is disappointing to report, the term “useful fool” still seems a pretty apt description.

resident Trump continues to resist the conclusion that Russia meddled in the American electoral process. As recently as last week, the best he could muster was a conditional “if Russia” interfered.

Understandably, that attitude led to a strained relationship with the intelligence community, a state of affairs not helped by the president’s unfounded, yet continuing, accusations that the community spied on his campaign.

Now the Russians are front and center in another controversy, this one fully of the president’s making.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Trump has caused a catastrophe. Let’s end it quickly

There is really only one issue in American politics at this moment: Will we accelerate our way to the end of the Trump story, or will our government remain mired in scandal, misdirection and paralysis for many more months — or even years?

There is a large irony in the politics behind this question. The Democrats’ narrow interest lies in having President Trump hang around as close to the 2018 midterm elections as possible. Yet they are urging steps that could get this resolved sooner rather than later. Republicans would likely be better off if Trump were pushed off the stage. Yet up to now, they have been dragging their feet.

The reports that Trump asked then-FBI Director James B. Comey to drop his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn may finally be concentrating Republican minds.

They certainly focused the decision-making of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who announced Wednesday afternoon that he was naming former FBI director Robert S. Mueller as a special counsel to investigate possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian interference in the election.

Richard Eskow: The Bradley Foundation’s Secret War on Gay Marriage and Liberal Sex

A trove of documents exposed by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation wants to build a right-wing “infrastructure” across the country to promote its extreme agenda.

Unfortunately, the Foundation’s desire to police what happens in American bedrooms is part of that agenda.

To promote its socially conservative view of marriage and the family – especially its opposition to marriage equality – the Bradley Foundation has been pushing the work of a discredited researcher who thinks liberal women want more sex, porn-watching makes men support gay marriage, and gay marriage makes straight men both more promiscuous and more likely to … well, keep reading.

John Nichols: Many Americans Believe Donald Trump Is Unfit to Serve. A Congressman Has a Plan to Determine That.

Before he was elected last year to the U.S. House of Representatives, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin earned wide recognition over a quarter century as a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law. So whenever Raskin weighs in on issues of presidential accountability, he speaks from experience—and with the authority of a scholar who has worked with Democrats and Republicans to make real the full promise of the nation’s defining document.

Today, however, Raskin also speaks with a sense of urgency that ought not be neglected by his House colleagues, or by citizens who have grown fretful about the lawless and erratic presidency of Donald Trump. “This is a president who has insisted that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and that Barack Obama was born in Indonesia and he has uttered blatant lies and never retracted them,” Raskin told The Washington Post last week. “And that is a sign of a serious mental disturbance.”

That is a harsh assessment of the 45th president of the United States. But it is no harsher than the assessments that have been voiced in recent weeks by commentators from across the ideological spectrum and by citizens who are concerned that Trump has veered into conflict not just with his critics but with his own administration.