Dec 22 2016

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.

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E.J. Dionne Jr.: Happy holidays, Donald Trump

Some things Donald Trump says enrage me, while others get under my skin. The pronouncement that does both is his regular claim that until he prevailed, Americans were not free to say “merry Christmas” to each other.

He was at it again last week in West Allis, Wis., during his Watch-Me-Divide-The-Country-Further Victory Tour. Trump declared: “So when I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here someday and we are going to say merry Christmas again. Merry Christmas. So, merry Christmas everyone.”

Here’s what bothers me: Long before Trump came along we were entirely free to say “merry Christmas” to each other. Our political leaders could say it, too. [..]

As for me, I’ve never felt the least reluctant to say “merry Christmas” — as long as I know the person I’m talking to is a Christian who observes the holiday.

Amanda Marcotte: Lessons of the North Carolina HB2 horror show: Republicans simply can’t be trusted

Congressional Democrats better pay attention to what’s going on in North Carolina right now, with the tussle around the discriminatory “bathroom bill” known as House Bill 2. It’s an object lesson in why it’s so critical to resist the temptation to make deals with Republicans and instead to resist their agenda at every turn.

Republicans cannot be trusted. They are snakes in the grass and will renege on their half of the deal. Pretending otherwise, especially with a con artist in the White House — a guy who literally has a history of bamboozling people for money — is just foolishness. [..]

North Carolina faced a whole array of nationwide protests and boycotts in response to this overt bigotry and the notoriety of HB2 was clearly a factor in McCrory’s losing the governor’s race to Democrat Roy Cooper, in a state carried by Republican Donald Trump.

Perhaps this political fallout led Democrats to believe that Republicans meant it when they suggested that they had regrets about HB2 and were open to repealing it. Charlotte officials made what looks like it was, in retrospect, a dumb decision: agreeing to repeal the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance if the legislature would in turn repeal its discriminatory bathroom law.

The deal was framed as a back-to-the-drawing-board thing, all about healing and consensus and starting over. In reality, it turned into Republicans playing the Charlotte Democrats for fools. What a surprise! Charlotte officials kept their end of the bargain by rolling back the city ordinance, but the North Carolina legislature haggled over HB2 all day on Wednesday before adjourning without even voting on any proposed repeal. Merry Christmas.

Lucia Graves: Trump said he’d be the president of all Americans. He’s already failing

In the wee morning hours following the election, in the decked-out ballroom of the Hilton Hotel, Donald Trump memorably proclaimed he would be the “president for all Americans”. It was a remarkable claim for a man who’d run a campaign mired in bigotry and xenophobia.

The following week President Obama declared he was certain Trump was “sincere” in his promise to be every American’s president, and over the weekend, in his final press conference of the year, the president was similarly conciliatory.

World leaders have likewise made olive-branch gestures. Shortly after the election, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, predicted Trump would change his views on climate, and a key dignitary at a major UN climate meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, made a similar argument.

“We have for many months listened to the candidate Trump. Today we have to deal with the President Trump,” Morocco’s minister of the environment, Hakima El Haité, told me days after the election. “Those are two personalities.”

Already such optimism looks unwarranted.

Heather Digby Parton: Conflicts on top of conflicts: Another “emoluments clause” that should bar Donald Trump from office

I would guess that most Americans had never heard of the “foreign emoluments clause” of Article I of the United States Constitution until the last month. We’ve certainly heard a lot about it since. It is  a constitutional prohibition against presidents receiving compensation, gifts or other forms of profit or gain from foreign governments. Donald Trump’s potentially colossal conflicts of interest have compelled legal scholars from all sides of the political divide to dust off this old clause in the Constitution in what is probably a vain hope that it will force the incoming president to divest himself of his businesses.

The obvious concern is that Trump will be unduly influenced by foreign interests currying favor by supporting his business (or vice versa). But it turns out that there is a domestic emoluments clause as well, which has not been discussed. And Trump faces potential conflicts on that front as he does on the other. [..]

It’s also not difficult to imagine Trump’s children winking and nodding at various parties to offer favors in exchange for favorable regulations or other benefits. Just this week it was revealed that Trump’s older sons were involved in selling access to the president for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation charities.” (That they would do this after their father and the Republican Party spent months ripping Hillary Clinton for taking the calls of donors to the Clinton Foundation redefines the word hypocrisy.)

There is already the appearance that the Trump family is engaged in enriching itself further through Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s children are talking business with foreign leaders and businesspeople during the transition and openly selling access to themselves and the president-elect. Since the actual scope of Trump’s businesses remains shrouded in secrecy, we have no way of knowing the true range of his potential conflicts and avenues of corruption.