Feb 08 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 Pierce: Where Do Republicans Go From Here?

Scrapie is a prion disease, similar in its effect to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) and to the wasting disease that afflicts herds of deer, and to kuru, a disease first seen among tribes in Papua New Guinea that was transmitted in part through the ritual cannibalism of the tribe’s dead. Elsewhere in Asia, the custom of eating the brains of a monkey was responsible for cases of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, yet another prion illness. Once established in the victim, prion disease destroys the human nervous system. It eats away at the higher functions of the brain. So, when I talk about the prion disease that afflicts the Republican Party, and the conservative movement that is its only life force any more, I do not use the metaphor idly. The party has lost what’s left of its mind.

Far too many people are far too delicate about this. The Republican Party is completely mad, and it has been going in that direction for a very long time. It has been raving through all the halls of all the governments, large and small, like a lost soul with a big knife. The symptoms of the enveloping disease have been obvious for decades, ever since Ronald Reagan served up the first helping of monkey brains in 1976, when he nearly wrested the party’s nomination from Gerald Ford. It is full-blown now, and it is general throughout the Republic. The Republican Party has infected every institution with its own private insanity.

Sheldon Whitehouse: The Nunes memo is just one dirty trick in the far right’s smear campaign

As the president’s and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’s recent actions underscore, there is a concerted effort to undermine special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections and possible obstruction of justice. The FBI and the Justice Department have become targets of dirty tricks. The unfair charges are gutter politics: trashing American institutions to protect a president from the due course of the law.

I have served as Rhode Island’s U.S. attorney, working closely with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. Nothing about the Justice Department or the FBI merits the kind of smear campaign ramping up on the far right.

Agents and prosecutors are human. They are fallible and make mistakes. That’s why there are so many cross-checks and sign-offs in these organizations and in the broader judicial system. As FBI director, James B. Comey made a terrible mistake in the Clinton email investigation when he went rogue and violated a long-honored rule against divulging derogatory information about an uncharged person. But I ascribe it to an overly assiduous concern for his own reputation for fairness, not to any corrupt intent. The notion that the FBI is corrupt or politicized is being trafficked for purposes far more corrupt — and far more baldly political — than the FBI could ever be.

Jim Hightower: Our ‘Populist’ President is Nothing But a Naked Plutocrat

Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: “To be honest with you,” “To tell the truth” and “Believe me”?

Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: “No really, trust me, I never lie…” In fact, just in the past year, Trump’s documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!

It’s not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire “populist” who’s standing up for America’s hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites — a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.

Even before he was sworn in last year, President Trump stripped off the populist garments he wore during his campaign and publicly bared his naked plutocratic essence by naming bankster Gary Cohn to be his top economic advisor.

Wait… didn’t candidate Trump promise working-class voters that he’d be Wall Street’s worst nightmare, cracking down hard on greedy financial thieves whose scams and schemes are wrecking the middle class? Yes, but that was then. Now, President Trump has become Wall Street’s wet dream.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Trump’s parade plan isn’t just another distraction

Military parades, “treasonous” opponents — do you sense a pattern here?

President Trump is such a master of the politics of distraction that everything he says and does is assumed to be a diversion from something more important, the Russia collusion issue above all. [..]

On the substance of policy, he can govern largely by stealth. Discussion of the decisions his administration has made on a range of regulatory, environmental, labor, health-care and tax matters gets pushed to the bottom of the public agenda.

It will thus be tempting to dismiss Trump’s desire to have a big military parade as yet another ploy to change the subject. Trump knows perfectly well that many liberals are uneasy with massive demonstrations of military strength, so some who might raise their voices in dissent could draw back out of fear that he is baiting them and that they’ll play into his hands. Trump clearly longs to be the lead figure on the reviewing stand gazing out on the tanks and missiles as a tribute to his own power, while casting his critics as unpatriotic foes of our men and women in uniform.

Erin Gloria Ryan: Rob Porter Shows That in Trumpworld, Nothing Is More Convincing Than a Man’s Denial

“He denied it” is a pretty flimsy defense.

No judge in a criminal court would dismiss a case simply because the accused entered a “not guilty” plea. No suspicious girlfriend would accept a lover’s easy-to-debunk denial of infidelity. No parent would allow his child to avoid punishment by claiming it wasn’t they who put their Furby in the dishwasher and broke it.

And yet, it’s the first line of defense for a White House that can’t seem to stop aligning itself with men credibly accused of sexual misconduct, predatory behavior, and misogynist bullying. When you’re a man in Trump’s orbit, a denial counts as exoneration. [..]

Looking at the big picture, it’s hard to ignore the pattern that’s emerged. Porter, Moore, Bannon, Wynn, Trump, Lewandowski– at every turn, the Trump campaign or White House has taken a man’s denial over a woman’s word, even if that woman’s word is backed by reputable news reporting, video footage or contemporaneous pictures.

Everyone speaking on behalf of or in defense of Trumpland abusers is being poisoned by the absurd misogyny of it all. It’s never he-said-she-said; it’s he-said, she-said-they-said, and team Trump has always given more weight to the former than the latter.

This, mind you, doesn’t appear to be just a Trump-thing either. According to Axios, Porter’s resignation today came after some in the White House encouraged him to “stay and fight,” including John Kelly.