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Apr 10 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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Hillary Clinton: Don’t let Brexit undermine Ireland’s peace

Twenty years ago, the Good Friday/Belfast agreement helped bring an end to decades of conflict and violence in Northern Ireland. It was a watershed moment – the result of diplomatic efforts within the halls of government and extraordinary actions of ordinary women and men who reached across longstanding and bitter divides.

Today, the agreement stands not only as a local framework for shared understanding, but as a shining example of what’s possible when citizens come together to demand peace, and preserve it across generations. As the world celebrates this significant anniversary, we must also remain vigilant in protecting the agreement in the face of our current challenges – from the uncertainties heralded by Brexit to the hurdles posed by the impasse in devolved government in Northern Ireland – and do all we can to deliver on the unrealised aspirations of human rights and equality that were espoused that day in April 1998.

Paul Krugman: Obamacare’s Very Stable Genius

Front pages continue, understandably, to be dominated by the roughly 130,000 scandals currently afflicting the Trump administration. But polls suggest that the reek of corruption, intense as it is, isn’t likely to dominate the midterm elections. The biggest issue on voters’ minds appears, instead, to be health care.

And you know what? Voters are right. If Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress, we can safely predict that they’ll make another try at repealing Obamacare, taking health insurance away from 25 million or 30 million Americans. Why? Because their attempts to sabotage the program keep falling short, and time is running out.

I’m not saying that sabotage has been a complete failure. The Trump administration has succeeded in driving insurance premiums sharply higher — and yes, I mean “succeeded,” because that was definitely the goal.

Randall D. Eliason: Michael Cohen is in serious legal jeopardy

When your lawyers need lawyers, it’s usually a bad sign. When your lawyers have their offices and homes raided, it’s a really bad sign. News that federal investigators on Monday took the extraordinary step of executing a search warrant at the legal office of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, indicates that Cohen is suddenly in serious legal jeopardy of his own. And although the investigation is not directly related to the Mueller probe, it’s yet another example of the legal walls closing in on one of the people closest to Trump — someone who may have a wealth of information about the president’s own conduct.

The FBI executed the search warrants at Cohen’s New York office and his home and hotel room. The warrants were obtained by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. According to a statement from Cohen’s attorney, prosecutors informed him their investigation is, “in part,” based on a referral from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. [..]

Cohen, someone extremely close to Trump and who has been known as the president’s “fixer,” appears to have serious legal problems. If federal prosecutors feel they have enough on you to execute a search warrant, it’s never a good sign — just ask Paul Manafort. And to the extent that Cohen, part of Trump’s innermost circle, might have knowledge relevant to Mueller’s inquiry, we can’t rule out the possibility that his own legal troubles could induce him to cooperate in the Russia investigation.

Phyllis Bennis: John Bolton’s Terrifying First Day in the Trump White House

Today, fanatic war proponent John Bolton is taking office as President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser—and it comes at a perilous moment for international security. The volatile situation in Syria significantly raises the danger of a major intensification of direct U.S. military involvement. Over the weekend, the opposition’s extremist Jaish al-Islam group reached a deal with the government to leave its territory, paving the way for the Damascus regime to reclaim control over Douma, the last opposition-held area in the capital’s suburbs. Following Saturday’s alleged deadly chemical attack on civilians, which Trump immediately blamed on Assad backed by Russia and Iran, Trump said his administration is considering military retaliation, which could come within 24 hours. Early Monday morning saw air strikes on a Syrian military base, possibly carried out by Israel, further escalating the danger of an intensified conflict.

Bolton is a longtime hawk who disparages diplomacy, disdains the United Nations and defends the violation of international law. He recently called for a first-strike attack on North Korea and for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and replacing diplomatic efforts with amilitary attack, if not all-out war. The current escalation in Syria, including the reprise of chemical weapons allegations (there has still been no confirmation from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons regarding what caused the casualties, let alone who was responsible for using them), raises the political stakes and threatens the possibility of new wars.

Ruth Marcus: Firing Mueller would only make things worse for Trump

“An attack on our country,” a clearly agitated President Trump said of the search of his attorney’s office and home. Of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump said, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire Mueller.’ ”

Many people are wrong, actually. They suffer from an inability, chronic in this administration, to see two steps ahead. The state of the Mueller probe — and with the expansion into the Southern District of New York, it is not just the Mueller probe — is at a new, perilous stage for the president and his associates. [..]

Strangely, leaving Mueller in place and allowing the investigation to run its course is best for the country, for the rule of law — and for Trump. Mr. President, instead of fulminating about getting rid of Mueller, you should turn your attention to finding yourself a good criminal lawyer.

Here’s why: Firing Mueller, or firing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein for refusing to dismiss Mueller and then finding another Justice Department official willing to do the deed, won’t make the investigation go away.