Apr 17 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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Earth, Wind and Liars

Peter Thiel, Facebook investor and Donald Trump supporter, is by all accounts a terrible person. He did, however, come up with one classic line about the disappointments of modern technology: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” O.K., now it’s 280, but who’s counting?

The point of his quip was that while we’ve found ever more clever ways of pushing around bits of information, we are still living in a material world — and our command of that material world has advanced much less than most people expected a few decades ago. Where are the technologies transforming the way we deal with physical reality?

Well, there is one area of physical technology, renewable energy, in which we really are seeing that kind of progress — progress that can both change the world and save it. Unfortunately, the people Thiel supports are trying to stop that progress from happening.

Eugene Robinson: Only you and I can stop Trump

Keep calm and raise hell. The forces of truth and justice may be closing in on President Trump, but there is no reason to believe they can triumph without massive displays of outrage in the streets and at the polls.

Potentially the most serious threat Trump has ever faced came last week when FBI agents raided the office, home and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. By all accounts, Cohen’s role for the president and the Trump Organization has been that of a “fixer” who brings in deals and makes problems go away.

As everyone knows by now, Cohen “facilitated” payment of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about the sexual tryst she says she had with Trump. And according to a lawsuit filed by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, Cohen was involved behind the scenes in cementing a $150,000 agreement that squelched her story of a 10-month affair she says she had with Trump.

But the president’s sex life may be the least of his worries on the Cohen front. For more than a decade, Cohen was in a better position than anyone — arguably, even Trump’s children Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric, who also worked in the family firm — to know the intimate details of Trump’s business dealings.

Robert Wolffe: James Comey helped Trump win. Now he wants to undo his mistake

Moral clarity may be Comey’s strength but he is in fact a slimeball. He is also not smart, and the worst FBI director in history. By far.

We know all these things because the president of the US helpfully told us them a few hours before Comey’s interview was broadcast on Sunday.

In the interests of completeness, you should know that it is the president’s considered opinion that Comey is a nobody (“I hardly even knew this guy”) and a writer of FAKE memos.

These presidential statements are not at all fake. You see, Comey is actually part of a conspiracy whose breathtaking complexity and power will surely blow your mind. To wit: in a particularly convoluted corner of the president’s brain, Comey intervened in the final days of the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton – not against her – because he wanted a job from her.

The fact that Comey’s email declarations helped Clinton lose the election, and the fact that Trump himself employed Comey, is neither here nor there. Talk about a slimeball!


Michelle Goldberg: Lordy, Is There a Tape?

Whatever you think of the former F.B.I. director James Comey, he has started a long overdue national conversation about whether the pee tape is real.

“I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” Comey said in his hotly anticipated interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday night. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.” [..]

Consider a recent Washington Post scoop about Trump’s rage at feeling manipulated by aides to get tough on Russia. After America expelled more Russian officials than France or Germany last month, it said, Trump was “furious that his administration was being portrayed in the media as taking by far the toughest stance on Russia.”

The piece described how Trump reluctantly agreed to sell antitank missiles to Ukraine on the condition that it be kept secret, and was apoplectic when the news leaked, even though he was lauded for the decision. A puzzled senior administration official told The Post, “For some reason, when it comes to Russia, he doesn’t hear the praise.” The article considers a number of potential reasons for this, but doesn’t raise the rather obvious possibility that Trump is being blackmailed.

Like Comey, none of us know what really happened at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, and we may never find out. As outlandish as the rumor is, however, the idea that Trump would shy away from good press out of principle is far more so. To seriously discuss this presidency, you have to open your mind to the truly obscene.

Catherine Rampell: The GOP just can’t escape the ’80s

Ever since he unveiled it on the campaign trail, President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” has prompted an obvious question: When exactly was this mythical period when America was last great?

At last we know the answer: the 1980s.

When it comes to aesthetics or general world outlook, the Greed Is Good decade was clearly Trump’s formative period.

Wanna look classy? Slather your residence in gold, spangle it with chandeliers. Wanna convince strangers that you’re important? Pretend to be on the cover of Time magazine, still the greatest honor a person can achieve.

Trump’s cultural touchstones remain Roy Cohn and Chachi . He uses the phrase “inner city” to mean “violent hellscape,” not seeming to realize that New York’s “inner city” today is less “Bonfire of the Vanities” and more bone-broth shops and spin studios.

But Trump’s ’80s ethos is more than merely cosmetic. It affects his, and his party’s, most significant policies as well.

Take the GOP economic agenda, which has not been updated in (at least) 30 years.