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Jun 11 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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Charles M. Blow: A Present-Day Bull Connor

The hypocrisy of lauding a deceased boxer who protested while simultaneously trashing living football players who protest seems completely lost on Trump.

At the time of his conscientious objection, Ali asked why should he go fight in Vietnam “while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” As Ali put it, “The real enemy of my people is here.”

You see, people like Trump venerate black civil rights activists only in retrospect, after their agitation has ceased, often after they are dead, when they are no longer a threat to the status quo, when their true history is rendered in hagiography. Trump and people like him then disparage contemporary activists, as Trump has repeatedly done to Black Lives Matter and protesting athletes.

David Leonhardt: Trump Tries to Destroy the West

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

Paul Krugman: Debacle in Quebec

For all their pomp, most multilateral summit meetings are boring and of little consequence. I once spoke to a State Department official who had a role in putting these meetings together; he described his job as “policing the nuances,” which gives you an idea about how much is normally at stake.

Occasionally, however, such meetings do have real consequences, good or bad. The 2009 G20 summit, at which nations agreed to provide economic stimulus and loans to troubled countries in the face of the financial crisis, played at least some role in helping the world avoid a full replay of the 1930s. The 2010 summit, by contrast, effectively endorsed a turn to austerity that significantly delayed recovery and, arguably, partially set the stage for the rise of political extremism.

Still, there has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come; even if Trump eventually departs the scene in disgrace, the fact that someone like him could come to power in the first place will always be in the back of everyone’s mind.

What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse.

Ruth Marcus: The Justice Department abandons the ACA — and with it, the law

A continuing challenge of covering the three-ring circus that is the Trump administration is not letting the outrageous antics and statements of the president and his allies distract attention from the outrageous policies being implemented on his watch.

One example, unfolding right now in the midst of the president’s various rhetorical wars — with our Group of Seven partners, with the special counsel, with his own attorney general — is the administration’s remarkable move not to defend the constitutionality of key parts of the Affordable Care Act.

This is a huge deal. First, if the administration’s position prevails, millions of Americans will lose the protections they thought they had against being denied coverage if they suffer from preexisting conditions. Second, and perhaps even scarier, the administration’s behavior sets a dangerous precedent about the obligation of this and future presidents to follow their constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress.

James Risen: Donald Trump’s Surveillance of New York Times Reporter Is a True Declaration of War Against the Press

Donald Trump’s real war on the press has finally begun.

Ever since he began his campaign for president, Trump has engaged in a largely rhetorical battle against the press, casting the reporters who cover him as the enemy of the average American and as disseminators of what he calls “fake news.” But for the most part, Trump’s bark has been worse than his bite. Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump was not known to have spied on journalists or tried to jail them – as Obama did with me – for refusing to reveal their sources.

Until now.

Now we know that the Justice Department secretly seized the phone and email records of Ali Watkins, a New York Times reporter, in a leak investigation involving a former Senate staffer. It is the first time the Trump administration is known to have engaged in such an aggressive tactic against a reporter, and it is exactly the kind of press surveillance at which the Obama administration excelled. For years, conservatives attacked Obama for using such tactics to spy on reporters. Of course, there was no outcry from the right on Friday over Trump’s willingness to do the same thing.

To be sure, Trump has previously gone after the alleged sources of stories in the press, including former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner and FBI agent Terry Albury, both of whom have been accused of providing classified information to The Intercept. The Intercept does not comment on its sources. But the targeting of Watkins shows that the Trump administration is willing to attack the press directly.

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