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Dec 04 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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Charles M. Blow: The Ghost of Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon may no longer be physically in the White House, but his spirit lingers there as the guide of the Donald Trump administration and the soul at the core of its beliefs.

Bannon is Dickensian in the way his presence — and nominal absence — haunts the Trump presidency, defining its past, dictating its present and damning its future.

Bannon is the author of Trump’s ideology.

It is always worth remembering that Bannon, who departed the White House in mid-August and returned to his right-wing website Breitbart the same day, last year proudly told Mother Jones: “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”

Alt-right is just a new name for Nazis and racists.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: The populist mask is slipping for Trump and the GOP

Dec. 1, 2017, will be remembered as the day when the vast majority of Americans fully grasped the consequences of the 2016 elections. They installed a man in the White House “likely to be under investigation for criminality for a very, very long time to come.” And they gave power to a Republican Party whose only purpose is to comfort the already extremely comfortable.

The quotation above, from Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Hillary Clinton, is now a better fit than ever for his own circumstances. The day after Michael Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday, Trump compounded his legal jeopardy with a tweet suggesting that (contrary to what he had said before) he knew Flynn, his onetime national security adviser, had lied to the FBI.

Trump’s lawyers will keep trying to explain his tweet away, but his overall vulnerability on obstructing justice has increased exponentially.

Jennifer Rubin: What’s the matter with Alabama?

This analysis could well apply to President Trump’s base:

Conservatives generally regard class as an unacceptable topic when the subject is economics—trade, deregulation, shifting the tax burden, expressing worshipful awe for the microchip, etc. But define politics as culture, and class instantly becomes for them the very blood and bone of public discourse. Indeed, from George Wallace to George W. Bush, a class-based backlash against the perceived arrogance of liberalism has been one of their most powerful weapons. Workerist in its rhetoric but royalist in its economic effects, this backlash is in no way embarrassed by its contradictions. It understands itself as an uprising of the little people even when its leaders, in control of all three branches of government, cut taxes on stock dividends and turn the screws on the bankrupt. It mobilizes angry voters by the millions, despite the patent unwinnability of many of its crusades. And from the busing riots of the Seventies to the culture wars of our own time, the backlash has been ignored, downplayed, or misunderstood by liberals.

That surely could have been about the 2016 president-elect, but it’s actually from a 2005 paperback edition of Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” If you thought pairing white grievance and irrational fear that Christians are under assault with trickle-down economics was new, then go back and read Frank’s book, which posits that red America votes against its economic interests because Republicans have cleverly manipulated the culture wars, casting the white working class as victims of evil elites.

Jill Abramson: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/04/russia-probe-jared-kushner-investigation-donald-trump

Game of Trumps is about to get really bloody. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moving ever closer to President Trump himself, it looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacrificed.

With Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleading guilty last week to the charge of lying to the FBI, much more about the Russia scandal is now coming into focus. The Flynn flip was by far the most dramatic event so far in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016’s US presidential race. Flynn’s evidence can only lead up the chain of power towards Trump.

Consider this chronology. On 23 November it was widely reported that Flynn had informed the Trump legal team that he could no longer discuss the case with them. The end of cooperation with Trump surely signalled the beginning of cooperation with Mueller. Two days later the New York Times and Washington Post carried nearly identical stories about Jared Kushner’s waning influence.

John Naughton: Twitter, Trump and the distortion of the public sphere

In the 1930s, a maverick young journalist named Claud Cockburn resigned from the Times and, with £40 borrowed from an Oxford friend, bought a mimeograph machine (a low-cost duplicating machine that worked by forcing ink though a stencil on to paper). With it he set up the Week, a weekly newsletter available by subscription in which Cockburn printed news and gossip that came to him from his diverse group of contacts in both the British and German establishments.

From the beginning the Week printed stuff that the mainstream newspapers wouldn’t touch because of fears of running foul of the Official Secrets Act, the libel laws or the political establishment. Cockburn, having few assets and a rackety lifestyle, proceeded as if none of this applied to him. But people in the know – the third secretaries of foreign embassies, for example, or City bankers – quickly recognised the value of the Week (for the same reasons as they now read Private Eye). Nevertheless the circulation of Cockburn’s scandal sheet remained confined to this small elite circle – and its finances were correspondingly dodgy.

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