Jul 13 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: Scions and Scoundrels

What befalls a country riven by a dynasty of deception and disrepute? What comes of a country being forced by its puerile “president” to retreat from its world leadership, set to a soundtrack of world mockery? What to make of an enterprise of corruption that Trump calls a family when they abandon any semblance of propriety and all things we once found appropriate?

The America that I know and love is hanging by a thread, and Trump’s scandalous camarilla is playing with the shears.

The latest shoe to drop is that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort (campaign chairman at the time) met last summer in Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer because, according to emails released by Trump Jr., he was told that he would receive dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support” for his father.

Trump Jr.’s response: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

This is clear evidence of collusion and pushing disturbingly close to the possibility of other crimes including treason, although not quite there yet, from what is publicly known at this point.

Lawrence Douglas: Donald Trump Jr offers the closest thing to a smoking gun

Imagine a criminal accused of conspiring to receive stolen property. At trial, the accused testifies that he hired a big truck to carry away the goods, but when he arrived at the stash all he found was worthless garbage. I might feel for the hapless criminal, but his guilt would not be in question. This is much the situation that Donald Trump Jr finds himself in – by his own admission.

Consider the time logs. It is 10.36am on 3 June 2016. Donald Jr has just received an email from Rob Goldstone, a trusted Trump intermediary, expressing Russia’s willingness to provide the Trump campaign “very high level” “official documents” against Hillary Clinton “as part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”.

Let us try to put ourselves in Donald Jr’s shoes at that moment. The candidate’s son is understandably intrigued, even tantalized. At the same time, we might expect a person in such a position to proceed with the utmost caution. How did the Russians obtain these “high level”, “official” documents? What does the Russian government’s support for Trump mean and entail?

At the very least, we might expect Donald Jr, an experienced businessman, to turn to a lawyer for advice before proceeding.

Robert Reich: The Art Of The (Trump And Putin) Deal

Say you’re Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. Whether there was such a deal is being investigated. But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what might Trump have agreed to do for you? [..]

And what might you have agreed to do for Trump in return?

Two things: First, you’d help him win the presidency, by hacking into Democratic Party servers, leaking the results, sending millions of fake news stories about Hillary to targeted voters, and tapping into voter lists.

Second, after he was elected, you’d shut up about your help so Trump wouldn’t be impeached and convicted of treason.

In other words, if you did a deal, you both still have every incentive to fulfill your side of it. That’s the art of the deal.

John Atcheson: The Greatest Story Too Rarely Told: America Is an Oligarchy

OK. Enough. It’s time to quit being “balanced” or “non-partisan” or whatever other euphemism the elite establishment media uses to justify ignoring the two biggest elephants in our national living room.

After Trump was elected there was a lot of concern about allowing his idiocy to become the “new normal.” But in truth, we’ve been accepting an unacceptable level of insanity in our national body politic for decades now. [..]

Today, there is a virtual army of think tanks who are paid to make the crazy sound sane; to lend legitimacy to the illegitimate; and to tamp down any signs of reason among the citizenry with a mixture of fear, hate, greed, blame, and xenophobia.

But the coup remains the greatest story never told, and the pretense of a left/right political dialectic goes on, with useful idiots like Democratic “strategist” Mark Penn suggesting we take the middle ground between the extreme right wing, and the merely right wing, compromising ourselves into the Dark Ages.

Isaiah Poole: Get Back Your Right To Take Your Bank To Court

Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and right-wing Republicans are ganging up again this week against consumers who want to hold financial institutions that rip them off accountable.

The target this time is a rule issued this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is designed to restore the ability bank and credit card customers, as individuals or as a group, to take a financial dispute to court.

“Our new rule will restore the ability of groups of people to file or join group lawsuits. In some cases, not only will companies have to provide relief, they will also have to change their behavior moving forward,” said a statement issued by the agency. “People who would otherwise have to go it alone or give up, will be able to join with others to pursue justice and some remedy for their harm.”

However, unsurprisingly, it took less than a day for the guardians of Wall Street profiteering to attack the rule. They are the same people – like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in the Senate and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, in the House – who are working to either get rid of the CFPB entirely or render it toothless.

That’s why People’s Action is launching a petition asking Congress to keep the CFPB arbitration rule and protect the ability of ordinary people to go to court against corporate wrongdoers.