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May 04 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”.

Paul Krugman: Apple and the Fruits of Tax Cuts

Léonce Byimana: Confirming Gina Haspel would be a direct endorsement of torture

As a psychologist who works with torture survivors from across the world, I’ve witnessed the scars left by its unimaginable trauma. Its gravity and long-term effects cannot be overstated. They include neurological, heart and respiratory damage; headaches; vision and hearing loss; anxiety; depression; post-traumatic stress disorder; insomnia; memory loss; and difficulty concentrating.

This brutality — usually inflicted by governments — makes me deeply alarmed by President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA.

Haspel was complicit in torture after the 9/11 attacks; her damning record has been widely reported. According to reports in the New York Times, The Post and elsewhere, the 33-year CIA veteran, who is currently deputy director of the agency, ran one of the CIA’s black sites created after 9/11.

In these secret CIA prisons, so-called high-level terrorism suspects were chained for days from the ceiling, stuffed into boxes, slammed against walls, deprived of sleep, held naked in shackles in cold cells for days, waterboarded and subjected to mock executions.

Haspel also participated in the decision to destroy videotapes of interrogations in which detainees were waterboarded. Not only did she oversee torture, but she also sought to cover it up.

Richard North Patterson: Trump’s Dangerous Neo-Isolationism

A leader ignorant of history misapprehends its tragedies. A president steeped in grandiosity risks repeating them. Such is Donald Trump.

In modern history’s cardinal disaster, virulent nationalism combined with failed diplomacy and great power competition to ignite two catastrophic world wars within 25 years, in turn precipitating a nuclear arms race between America and the Soviet Union. In response, we encouraged democratic partners in Europe and Asia to join us in alliances like NATO, and global institutions like the United Nations and WTO. This model promoted democracy, free trade and shared strategic and economic interests rather than unconstrained nationalism – and, while imperfect, gave us seven decades of relative stability.

Now the global order is under attack.

Authoritarians squelch democracy. Populists scorn free trade. Resurgent nationalism and tribalism hamstring international cooperation. These threats come from all sides – including America’s president.

Eugene Robinson: A sour smell of panic in the White House as the law closes in

That unpleasant odor wafting from the direction of the White House is the sour smell of panic, as the president’s lies threaten to unravel — and the law closes in.

The new public face of President Trump’s legal defense, Rudolph W. Giuliani, looked and sounded like a man in need of an intervention Wednesday night as he went on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show — the friendliest possible terrain — and revealed that what Trump has tried to make the nation believe about a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels is a total crock.

You will recall that last month, when asked aboard Air Force One if he knew about the payment, Trump emphatically said no. He added, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney.” Trump gave the impression of having no idea where Cohen got the money to pay Daniels.

Not true, Giuliani told a puzzled Hannity: “That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. . . . [It was] funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.”

Just a suggestion, but if Giuliani wants to convince special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that there’s nothing here to see, he probably should avoid using words like “funneled.”

Michelle Goldberg: Does Giuliani Have a Plan, or Is This Just a Freakout?

Until Wednesday night, Donald Trump and people in his orbit insisted that the president had known nothing about the $130,000 hush money payment to the pornographic film star Stormy Daniels made by his lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, days before the 2016 election. Last month on Air Force One, a reporter asked Trump about it directly: “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?” His response was a categorical no.

This denial was always implausible, and now we have new evidence that Trump was lying. On Wednesday evening, Rudy Giuliani, whose appointment to Trump’s legal team was announced two weeks ago, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and casually admitted that Trump had repaid Cohen for the money he gave to Daniels “over a period of several months.”

This was a bombshell. And in the 12 hours that followed, both Trump and Giuliani made a series of statements so seemingly self-sabotaging and undisciplined that observers began searching for some sort of hidden strategy or logic. Were they trying to get out ahead of a coming revelation? To set off a metaphorical smoke bomb that would distract from some other scandalous development? Or were they really as blundering and incompetent as they appeared?