Apr 25 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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Amanda Frost: The hidden constitutional threat in Trump’s travel-ban lawsuit

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case challenging President Trump’s travel ban that raises major constitutional questions about the scope of presidential power over immigration. Lurking in the background, though, is an equally important question about the federal courts’ authority to check abuses of federal governmental power.

The Trump administration argues that even if the order banning travel is unconstitutional, the lower federal courts had no authority to block it from being implemented nationwide. By the administration’s logic, a court can do no more than protect individual plaintiffs from the government’s unconstitutional policies; those who do not have the capacity to file similar lawsuits are out of luck.

That cannot be right. As Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers, federal courts “guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from . . . dangerous innovations in the government.” Nationwide injunctions are a vital tool to do just that.

Senator Ben Cardin: We need a secretary of state critically. I still won’t vote for Mike Pompeo.

Do we need a confirmed secretary of state? Of course. Should the Senate confirm any nominee a president puts forward for consideration on that principle alone? Absolutely not.

With crises brewing from North Korea to Syria to Yemen to Venezuela, President Trump’s abrupt decision to fire Rex Tillerson looks like a bad idea. Despite the Republican Senate leadership’s attempts to conduct as little oversight as possible on many of Trump’s nominees, each one deserves careful scrutiny as we fulfill the constitutional requirement of “advice and consent.”

Many have pointed to CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s public service — in uniform, in Congress and in our intelligence service — as a qualification to serve as our nation’s top diplomat. I applaud that public service, too, but it is not enough to guarantee he is the right person to serve in the position for which he has been nominated.

Words matter. Beliefs matter. Policy positions matter. And Pompeo’s rhetoric and actions raise major concerns.

The secretary of state should be the loudest, holdout voice for international diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations in the Oval Office. Throughout his career, Pompeo has shown little preference for diplomacy and consistent support for militaristic interventions.

Robert Kuttner: The Great Republican Tax Cut Backfire

Did you have a happy Tax Day? Are you feeling grateful for the Republican tax cut?

Evidently, most American taxpayers are not.

In a sublime case of poetic justice, the so-called Tax Cut and Jobs Act is backfiring on the Republicans big time. Most voters are unimpressed, and Republicans themselves are ceasing to emphasize it in their campaign material.

In the March 13 special election for the Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, where Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly beat Republican Rick Saccone, Republicans actually pulled ads that bragged about the tax act, because their polls showed that it was more of a target than an achievement.

Republican strategists who wanted President Donald Trump to emphasize the tax cut this spring were initially annoyed that he was talking about trade, immigration and Korea instead. Now they realize that Trump may be onto something.

Even better, Democrats are sensing that the tax issue can be turned against the Republicans in the 2018 and 2020 elections. This outcome is the result of Republican overreach, opportunism, and sheer greed.

Eric Columbus: Rod Rosenstein, Robert Mueller and the Art of Survival

For those alarmed by President Trump’s assaults on the rule of law, there have been two versions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The good one appointed the special counsel, Robert Mueller; defended him; and has allowed the investigation to take its course. The bad one gave Mr. Trump cover to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey; released private text messages of F.B.I. employees; and complimented the president in public.

But Mr. Rosenstein deserves praise because of — not despite — his occasional willingness to appease Mr. Trump. Without making compromises, he would have been long gone. Many people fear that if Mr. Trump were to fire Mr. Rosenstein, it would imperil the Mueller investigation. The same has been true for almost a year; the earlier Mr. Rosenstein had been forced out of office, the worse the possible damage. A successor to Mr. Rosenstein could fire Mr. Mueller, limit the scope of his investigation, decline to approve investigative steps or eliminate public reporting requirements — not to mention interfere with the separate investigation into Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. [..]

Weeks before his firing, Mr. Comey disparaged Mr. Rosenstein in a private conversation with Mr. Wittes of Lawfare, saying he had “concerns” because Mr. Rosenstein is a “survivor.” In Mr. Wittes’s paraphrase, Mr. Comey feared that “you don’t get to survive that long across administrations without making compromises.”

But sometimes the best way to do justice is to compromise with those who would deny it. By surviving, Mr. Rosenstein has preserved not just his job but also the integrity of an investigation into, among much else, possible wrongdoing by the president. Like the bamboo that bends but does not break in the wind, he has shown a flexibility that may have helped preserve our institutions despite the raging storm.

Robert Borosage: Tell Congress: Curb the President’s War Powers

This week, the Senate will decide whether to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Pompeo is a key figure in Trump’s new war cabinet, along with National Security Advisor John Bolton and Gina Haspel, who he wants to take Pompeo’s place the CIA.

The Senate is also likely to move towards a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUFM), which grants congressional authority to expand the global war on terror. What remains to be seen is whether Congress will finally curb presidential war making. [..]

Rather than authorizing more presidential war making, Congress might sensibly end our misadventure in Afghanistan and Syria, and halt our involvement in Saudi Arabia’s dismemberment of Yemen. None of this is likely unless Americans begin to hold Congress accountable.

Legislators need to hear public opposition to Pompeo and Haspel. The 2016 elections –both primaries and general –offer an opportunity to demand that candidates make clear where they stand on getting out of the endless wars in the Middle East and curbing the lawless presidential power to make war.