Jul 03 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: Trump’s Taking Us From Temper Tantrum to Trade War

In one way, Donald Trump’s attack on our foreign trade partners resembles his attack on immigrants: in each case, the attack is framed as a response to evildoing that exists only in his imagination. No, there isn’t a wave of violent crime by immigrants, and MS-13 isn’t taking over American towns; no, the European Union doesn’t have “horrific” tariffs on U.S. products (the average tariff is only 3 percent).

In another way, however, the trade crisis is quite different from the humanitarian crisis at the border. Children ripped from their parents and put in cages can’t retaliate. Furious foreign governments, many of them U.S. allies that feel betrayed, can and will.

But all indications are that Trump and his advisers still don’t get it. They remain blithely ignorant about what they’re getting into.

Eugene Robinson: Republicans are trying to make Democrats self-implode

Republicans are afraid they cannot stop Democrats from making big gains in November, so they’re trying to convince Democrats to stop themselves. For the sake of the nation, don’t fall for it this time.

The GOP’s propaganda arm, Fox News, has become obsessed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old newcomer who defeated veteran Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary last month. What fascinates Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media is not Ocasio-Cortez’s sharp intellect or her telegenic presence but that she describes herself as a democratic socialist.

Cue the horror-movie music and throw in a piercing scream.

What does “democratic socialist” mean in real life? That she takes positions which are perfectly appropriate for a candidate seeking to represent her congressional district, which encompasses parts of the Bronx and Queens. It’s a solid Democratic bastion, roughly half Hispanic and loaded with immigrants, including many from places President Trump has described as “shithole countries.”

Barbara McQuade: Michael Cohen Must Learn the Rules of Cooperation in Criminal Cases

Michael Cohen’s recent media interview has some commentators suggesting that Cohen will cooperate against President Donald Trump.

But at the moment, prosecutors seem to be saying “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” What’s the delay? Here are some general rules of cooperation that Cohen should keep in mind.

The first rule is that prosecutors must gather relevant facts about a potential cooperator before talking with him so that they can probe the full extent of his knowledge.

Under exigent circumstances, of course, prosecutors would talk with a defendant immediately, but in a white collar investigation, it is more important to be fully informed before talking with a cooperator.

In Cohen’s case, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is handling the matter, have not yet received all of the materials that were seized during the execution of a search warrant at his office, home, and hotel room. That’s because a judge appointed a special master, a retired federal judge, to review the materials for attorney-client privilege first. The documents are being handed over to prosecutors in batches. Only upon completing their review of the search materials would prosecutors be prepared to question Cohen.

Prosecutors will want to confront him with email messages, handwritten notes, financial documents, and recordings of telephone calls, among other things, to probe the full extent of his knowledge even beyond that which he is willing to volunteer. Only by having access to all of the search materials will prosecutors be able to fully utilize Cohen’s value as a cooperator.

The second rule is that prosecutors want to corroborate the statements of a cooperator because of the understandable skepticism with which jurors view cooperators. This, too, contributes to the delay that Cohen is facing.

Michael Tomasky: Anthony Kennedy, You Are a Total Disgrace to America

It’s been a few days now, but the shock of Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement hasn’t abated a bit. This is partly because of the ghastly coming ramifications, more on which later. But it’s also because I honestly didn’t think Kennedy would allow Donald Trump to name his successor.

I thought he had more respect for the United States of America than to allow this corrupt gangster who’s almost certainly never read a Supreme Court opinion in his life to name his successor. Yes, Kennedy is conservative, so to that extent it makes sense that he’d want a Republican president to make the call, and maybe it’s just that simple. But whatever his motivation, Kennedy has altered and destroyed his legacy.

Let me put it this way. If I owned a restaurant and he walked in, I’d serve him dinner. But if the other diners mocked and shamed him, I wouldn’t exactly cry.

Until last week, Kennedy’s legacy was going to be that of a basically conservative but sometimes interesting jurist. He was awful on money in politics. Awful.

Bryce Covert: Don’t Let Mick Mulvaney Fool You: He’s Trying To Kill Welfare

It would have been easy to miss in a news cycle as chaotic as last week’s, but President Donald Trump and his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, just floated a proposal to remake a huge chunk of the federal government. It’s a proposal that targets the most vulnerable members of our society and, despite how dangerous it is, it’s designed to fly under the radar: The entire strategy is cloaked in boringness and bureaucracy.

Trump and Mulvaney have come up with a plan to completely restructure the government, which would require merging the education and labor departments. And buried deep within their outline is a wish list intended to destroy the core government functions that help the poor survive. It may sound like Trump and Mulvaney are pursuing government efficiency, but don’t let them fool you: They’re trying to destroy what’s left of our social safety net.

The biggest moonshot in the plan is the creation of a new agency. Right now, food stamps and other nutrition programs that help the poor stay fed are located in the Department of Agriculture. The Trump-Mulvaney plan would move them out of that department and place them in the Department of Health and Human Services, which would get a new name: the Department of Health and Public Welfare