Jun 09 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: Wrecking the Ship of State

After Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, many people on the right and even in the center tried to make the case that he wouldn’t really be that bad. Every time he showed a hint of self-restraint — even if it amounted to nothing more than reading his lines without ad-libbing and laying off Twitter for a day or two — pundits rushed to declare that he had just “become president.”

But can we now admit that he really is as bad as — or worse than — his harshest critics predicted he would be? And it’s not just his contempt for the rule of law, which came through so clearly in the James Comey testimony: As the legal scholar Jeffrey Toobin says, if this isn’t obstruction of justice, what is? There’s also the way Trump’s character, his combination of petty vindictiveness with sheer laziness, leaves him clearly not up to doing the job.

And that’s a huge problem. Think, for a minute, of just how much damage this man has done on multiple fronts in just five months.

Norman Eisen and Noah Bookbinder: Comey’s Case for Obstruction of Justice

In recent weeks, some have suggested that President Trump’s controversial interactions with James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, did not constitute wrongdoing. As an ex-criminal defense lawyer and a former federal corruption prosecutor, now joined together as government watchdogs, we beg to differ. Mr. Comey’s sworn statement and answers before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee now provide strong evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice. But we have miles to go before that case is legally resolved one way or the other — if it ever is.

The crime of obstruction requires an attempt to block an investigation with corrupt intent. Mr. Comey has now given us direct witness testimony of obstruction by the president in the form of the already famous statement “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Mr. Comey repeatedly added in today’s questioning that “I took it as a direction” that “this is what he wants me to do.” In a system governed by the rule of law, shutting down an investigation to benefit a friend — or perhaps, to keep damaging information that friend may know from emerging — is corrupt.

David Leonhardt: Revenge of the Young Brits0

Young people in the United States and Britain have something in common. They’re both living with a political reality that they don’t like.

In the United States, voters under 30 preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump by a landslide margin. In Britain, the under-30 vote overwhelmingly rejected Brexit and wanted to remain in Europe.

But now it looks like young Brits, at least, may be starting to take their revenge. In a shocking result, Britain’s Conservative Party, led by Theresa May, failed to win a majority last night. It remains the largest party, yet its surprisingly poor showing leaves the country’s political situation unclear. May’s own future as the Conservative leader is in doubt, as are Brexit negotiations.

Early signs suggest that a surge in the turnout of younger voters — who backed Labour and its proudly leftist leader, Jeremy Corbyn — explains at least part of the surprise. If so, the potential lessons for the Democratic Party will be large.

Catherine Rampell: Macron attempts a feat that Trump wouldn’t dare

The newly elected French president is attempting a feat that the newly elected American president wouldn’t dare: leadership.

Emmanuel Macron, the youngest French head of state since Napoleon, has stolen many American hearts thanks to his moving defense of the Paris climate accord, gutsy news conference with Vladimir Putin and, of course, the fact that he married a much older woman.

But here in France, his primary public contribution is expected to be on a different front: the economy.

For decades, France has struggled with stagnant labor markets and intractably high unemployment. The jobless rate stands at 9.6 percent, which — believe it or not — is a five-year low.

Amanda Marcotte: Accused Portland killer Jeremy Christian’s excuses sound an awful lot like alt-right rhetoric

Jeremy Christian, the man accused of murdering two people and seriously injuring another during a May 26 knife attack on a Portland, Oregon, train, is saying things that will sound awfully familiar to anyone who has followed the rise of the “alt-right” in recent months. Specifically, I mean the racist, right-wing factions who have focused on organizing confrontational and sometimes violent street protests on the West Coast.

Christian’s court appearances have been marked by much shouting by him, and much of what he’s saying sounds like he’s directly channeling the talking points promulgated by groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, Patriot Prayer and fans of Kyle Chapman, known to his followers as “Based Stickman.”