Jun 12 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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Paul Krugman: A Quisling and His Enablers

This is not a column about whether Donald Trump is a quisling — a politician who serves the interests of foreign masters at his own country’s expense. Any reasonable doubts about that reality were put to rest by the events of the past few days, when he defended Russia while attacking our closest allies.

We don’t know Trump’s motivation. Is it blackmail? Bribery? Or just a generalized sympathy for autocrats and hatred for democracy? And we may never find out: If he shuts down the Mueller investigation and Republicans retain control of Congress, the cover-up may hold indefinitely. But his actions tell the story.

As I said, however, this isn’t a column about Trump. It is, instead, about the people who are enabling his betrayal of America: the inner circle of officials and media personalities who are willing to back him up whatever he says or does, and the wider set of politicians — basically the entire Republican delegation in Congress — who have the power and constitutional obligation to stop what he’s doing, but won’t lift a finger in America’s defense.

Eugene Robinson: The pompous GOP credo was a sham all along

Are you old enough to remember when the Republican Party had principles and a backbone? It seems so long ago.

If you do recall that bygone time, you might expect that said principles and backbone will assert themselves, sooner or later, against President Trump. Stop waiting, because it’s not going to happen. The pompous GOP credo was apparently a sham all along.

Trump has completely overturned what once was hallowed Republican orthodoxy on free trade. He has blithely ignored what used to be GOP holy writ about fiscal restraint. He mocks the party’s traditional foreign policy stance, enjoying better rapport with dictators than with the democratically elected leaders of nations that for decades have been our closest allies. He refuses even to pay lip service to the notion of universal human rights. He lies, constantly and shamelessly, to the people he is sworn to represent. In both his public and private lives, he acts as if he believes that personal responsibility — which Republicans so love to preach about — is for losers.

If a Democratic president acted this way, he or she would already have been impeached by the GOP-controlled Congress. Outraged denunciation from the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be loud and constant. But the party of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan is now owned and operated by Donald Trump, and McConnell is as meek as a mouse.

Catherine Rampell: Pass a health-care law, GOP. I dare you.

If the GOP really thinks gutting protections for people with preexisting health conditions is good policy, they should pass a damn law.

I dare them to try.

For eight years, on and off, they did. And they failed. The House passed literally dozens of repeal bills, none of which had the chance of becoming law while Barack Obama was still president.

Then Donald Trump won the White House. Republicans had unified control of government — and they chickened out.

Why? Because they feared the blowback from voters, who had finally learned a little bit about what the Affordable Care Act actually does. While the overall Obamacare brand itself was lousy, it turned out almost all of Obamacare’s major provisions were quite popular.

According to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, majorities of Americans in both parties liked the Medicaid expansion. They liked subsidies for lower- and moderate-income Americans buying individual insurance. They liked the elimination of out-of-pocket costs for preventive services. They liked having the federal government require insurers to cover a minimum set of benefits.

And you know what else Americans really, really liked? The bill’s protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Michelle Goldberg: First They Came for the Migrants

The sci-fi writer William Gibson once said, “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” In America in 2018, the same could be said of authoritarianism.

Since Donald Trump was elected, there’s been a boom in best-selling books about the fragility of liberal democracy, including Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism: A Warning,” and Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny.” Many have noted that the president’s rhetoric abounds in classic fascist tropes, including the demonization of minorities and attempts to paint the press as treasonous. Trump is obviously more comfortable with despots like Russia’s Vladimir Putin than democrats like Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

We still talk about American fascism as a looming threat, something that could happen if we’re not vigilant. But for undocumented immigrants, it’s already here. [..]

But for now, what is happening is the sort of moral enormity that once seemed unthinkable in contemporary America, the kind captured in the Martin Niemöller poem that’s repeated so often it’s become a cliché: “First they came …” There is no reason to believe that undocumented immigrants will be the last group of people deemed beyond the law’s protection.

Senator Merkley told me he asked people working in the detention center if they were concerned about the impact that family separation would have on the children who had been put under their authority. The answer, he said, was, “We simply follow the orders from above.”

Karen Tumulty: Trump may go without a chief of staff. That should worry all of us.

President Trump continues to muse about the possibility of replacing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly with . . . no one. And that should worry all of us, if for no other reason than why he thinks he could do it.

“A Republican in frequent touch with the White House said one of the clear manifestations of Trump’s newfound unilateralism can be seen in the comments he’s made to aides and confidants,” my colleague Ashley Parker reported on Monday. “When his current chief of staff, John F. Kelly, departs the White House, Trump has told them, he may prefer the model of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not name an official chief of staff.”

It is no secret that Kelly is miserable trying to be the responsible adult in a White House that runs according to presidential impulse, and that he has his eye on the exit. Nor could it help that his boss views the chief of staff’s job as entirely dispensable.

But Trump, to put it mildly, is no LBJ.