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Jan 29 2018

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: Trump Repeats Nixon’s Fateful Panic

The president attacked the investigation into his wrongdoing at the most inappropriate of places and in the most indecorous of ways, saying:

“Let others spend their time dealing with the murky, small, unimportant, vicious little things. We have spent our time and will spend our time building a better world.”

Moments later, he came back to his grievances, saying that the nation should “not let ourselves be remembered only for the petty, little, indecent things that seem to obsess us at a time when the world is going by.”

That could well have been Donald Trump, but it’s not. You can tell by the complexity of syntax and the absence of nicknames, charges of “fake news” and the guilt-triggered repetition of “there was no collusion.”

No, the person speaking was Richard Nixon in 1973 at a dinner for the Japanese premier. It was at the height of the Watergate investigation. Nixon, like Trump, was trying to minimize the import of the investigation and to cast it as a personal, “vicious,” and “petty” attack. It wasn’t.

Indeed, the parallels between Trump now and Nixon then are extraordinary.

New York Times Editorial Board: The Gathering Threat to Abortion Rights

People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide. [..]

Only about 1 percent of women seeking abortions do so after 21 weeks, and they often make that decision because a fetal abnormality has been found or because their own health is in danger. Twenty-week bans particularly curb access for poor women, who often struggle to find the money and time for the procedure.

The Senate bill contains exceptions for rape and incest if the women reported the abuse to law enforcement and sought counseling 48 hours before the abortion. But there is no exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman.

Paul Krugman: What the Economic Data Don’t Tell Us

It’s a sure thing that Donald Trump will spend much of his State of the Union boasting about the economy. So this seems like a good time for a refresher on some basic macroeconomics – and the reasons why the expansion of 2017, which continued the long expansion that began in 2010, is in no sense a justification for wildly optimistic growth projections looking forward.

As a reminder, the Trump Treasury department claims that tax cuts will pay for themselves because the economy will grow at almost 3 percent a year for the next decade. This growth projection didn’t come from any model; it was just pulled out of … well, you fill in the rest. But every time there’s a good quarter of growth, the usual suspects take time off from talking about deep state conspiracies to claim that the forecast is coming true. Why is this nonsense?

First, you need to know that quarter-to-quarter and even year-to-year growth rates are very variable. The economy grew at a 5 percent annual rate during much of the Carter administration (how many people know that?); it grew around 4 percent during the second Clinton administration:

Jill Abramson: Trump’s attack on the FBI is an attack on the US constitution itself

Since his election, revelations of Donald Trump’s contempt for the legal process have been dizzying. The rule of law is what protects democracy in the United States. The president has done everything possible to subvert it.

There was the White House counsel’s failed effort last March to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry. Then came the stunning news that the very same counsel, Donald F McGahn II, threatened to quit if the president fired special counsel Robert Mueller last June. Then there was the president’s grilling of acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, including asking him whom he had voted for in 2016.

Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump reportedly wailed when his attorney general, a key actor in the Russia-infected presidential campaign, recused himself. The president was invoking the name of his disgraced fixer, long dead, a lawyer who was discredited for aiding Joseph McCarthy and disbarred for unethical conduct.

Where is my Congress? This is the urgent question posed by these outrageous attempts by the president to subvert the constitution. The legislative branch of government must hold an out-of-control president with authoritarian tendencies accountable.

Neither the news media nor Robert Mueller can do this alone.

Eugene Robinson: For conservatives, character counts — when you’re a Democrat

Wait, back up a minute. We just zoomed past a story that would have been a five-alarm scandal for any other administration, with weeks of screaming front-page headlines: “The president and the porn star.”

The Wall Street Journal had the scoop on Jan. 12: “A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The porn star in question is a woman named Stormy Daniels. The alleged affair took place in 2006, a year and a half after Trump married his third wife, Melania, and just months after their son, Barron, was born.

Whoa. You’d think that Trump’s supporters in the evangelical Christian movement would finally call him out for his loose — or nonexistent — morals. Instead, however, they have suddenly turned into a bunch of Left Bank cafe intellectuals, scoffing at silly American Puritanism as they sip absinthe and flick ashes from their unfiltered Gauloises.