Feb 23 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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Paul Krugman: Nasty, Brutish and Trump

On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.

Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.

Eugene Robinson: Trump and the GOP won’t act on gun control. So let’s kick them out.

They won’t do anything meaningful about guns until you force them to with your votes.

This time, following the Parkland, Fla., massacre, does feel different from all the other times. But I fear the outcome will always be the same — thoughts, prayers, furrowed brows and no real action — until the Republicans who control Congress and so many state legislatures start losing elections because of their obstinacy on gun control.

They need to fear you and me more than they fear the National Rifle Association.

No amount of moral suasion will work. The slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., the murder of 58 innocent country-music fans in Las Vegas, the near-fatal shooting of one of their own, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) — no atrocity has been senseless or vile enough to shame the GOP into doing something to keep military-style assault weapons out of killers’ hands. Why should the deadly rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School be the tipping point?

Optimists might point to two wild-card factors we’ve never seen before: the fierce eloquence of the young Parkland survivors and the inconstancy of President Trump.

Margaret Carlson: This Is the Law That Could Take Down Trump

It’s all well and good for Paul Manafort to spend 15 years in prison for money laundering, and Rick Gates to plead guilty to cut a deal, and Alex Van Der Zwaan to miss the birth of his first child because he lied to the FBI.

But it would be an injustice if, once again, those around the president suffer and he is left unscathed. He was the beneficiary of the highly questionable Russian contacts his campaign made and desperately tried to keep secret leading up to the 2016 election, which speaks of collusion and much worse. Trump couldn’t have chosen two top advisers with more contacts with the Kremlin than campaign manager Manafort and national security adviser Michael Flynn. He could hardly have praised Russia President Valdimir Putin more. And he could have hardly benefitted more from Russian interference than to win.

Of course, there’s no law against Trump liking Putin; unseemly yes, illegal, no. But a veteran Washington former federal prosecutor who served during both the Clinton and Bush administrations believes there is a strategy that Mueller is quietly pursuing and that explains his actions so far.

Seth Waxman, now a partner specializing in white-collar crime in Dickinson Wright’s Washington office, has a theory of Mueller’s case, which requires no novel reading of existing law to find Trump broke it. It employs the main weapon any federal prosecutor uses to police public corruption. It is Title 18 United States Code, section 201 that specifically makes it a crime for a public official to take “anything of value,” a bribe, in exchange for government action, which can be prospective.

Catherine Rampell: We know who really rules the Gunshine State

Smut, not guns, is the great risk to teenagers.

So say Florida lawmakers, who — days after one of the deadliest school massacres in history occurred on their doorstep, as the child survivors of that massacre watched from the gallery — refused to consider a bill banning assault-style rifles. About an hour later, those same legislators passed a resolution declaring that pornography endangers teenage health. Say what you will about porn, but to my knowledge , it has notbeen used to slaughter teens.

This was disappointing but not altogether surprising. The Gunshine State has long preferred the Second Amendment to the First.

More broadly, for years now, my beloved home state has placed the interests of the National Rifle Association above the interests of Floridians. [..]

Beam Furr, the Broward County mayor, told me he’d love to consider county-level gun-control measures such as a gun registry, a ban on assault-style weapons, or even just a requirement that more information from school and mental-health records get added to background checks. But if he pursued these options, he said, “by law, I’d lose my job.”

Another mayor, Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, told me he wonders whether a different approach might be better: maybe pass a new gun-control ordinance, and see what happens.

“Come and get me,” he said.

These are not idle arguments. Not to parents and students here in Parkland, about an hour from where I grew up.

Michelle Goldberg: The De-Trumpification Agenda

In January, the anti-corruption organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, released a detailed report on the historically unethical presidency of Donald Trump. By February, it was outdated, as Trump’s administration and family charted new frontiers in ethical transgression. [..]

The Republican monopoly on federal power, however, will not last forever. Assuming American democracy survives Trump, there will someday be an opportunity to seek accountability from the president and his entourage. If we expect America to ever again be more than a squalid kleptocracy, we’re going to need a comprehensive plan of de-Trumpification, including wide-ranging investigations and legal reforms. It’s not too early to start thinking about what that might look like.

After all, if Democrats take back the House in November, they’ll be able to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and start hearings on his manifold conflicts of interest. Should Democrats retake the Senate, something akin to the Church Committee, which investigated abuses by our intelligence agencies in the 1970s, could give us a measure of clarity and closure about this uniquely dark, disorienting period. Eventually, laws can be adopted to help us avoid repeating it.