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Jul 16 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: Benefits, Work, and Poverty

Back in 2014 Paul Ryan declared that the War on Poverty had failed, so it was time to slash spending on anti-poverty programs. Last week the Trump Council of Economic Advisers declared not only that the War on Poverty has in fact substantially reduced poverty – which is what progressives have been saying all along – but that poverty is “largely over”. (Do these people ever visit the real world?)

And because poverty is over, they say, we should impose lots of work requirements on Medicaid and food stamps, which would have the effect of slashing spending on these programs. Somehow a completely opposite reading of the facts leads to the same policy conclusion. Funny how that works.

But are benefits like Medicaid and food stamps really discouraging a lot of people from working? One way to answer that question is to look at who is receiving benefits without working. The White House analysis claims that many of those non-working adults could work; but I put a lot more trust in the Kaiser Family Foundation, which finds only a small number of potential workers among benefit recipients.

Charles M. Blow: Trump, Treasonous Traitor

Put aside whatever suspicions you may have about whether Donald Trump will be directly implicated in the Russia investigation.

Trump is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country. It is his failure to defend.

The intelligence community long ago concluded that Russia attacked our election in 2016 with the express intention of damaging Hillary Clinton and assisting Trump.

And it was not only the spreading of inflammatory fake news over social media. As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out: {..}

And this is not simply a thing that happened once. This is a thing that is still happening and will continue to happen. As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee in February, “Persistent and disruptive cyberoperations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy.” As he put it, “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”

The Robert Mueller investigation is looking into this, trying to figure out what exactly happened in 2016, who all was involved, which laws where broken and who will be charged and tried.

Michelle Goldberg: ‘Evil Has Won’

Klaus Scharioth, who served as Germany’s ambassador to the United States during both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s administrations, was born in 1946, the year after Germany’s surrender in World War II. His earliest impressions of America were of a magnanimous, generous country.

“It was never forgotten that the United States included Germany in the Marshall Plan, which you would not have expected,” he told me, speaking of American aid to rebuild Europe after the war. He remembers getting packages of food from the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, or CARE: “The victor sends the one who is defeated, and who began the war, CARE packages! Imagine that. It doesn’t happen too often.”

In the world he grew up in, America was seen as the guarantor of the liberal democratic order, an order in which Germany, abandoning its aggressive history, would come to thrive. And so for many Germans, it’s a profound shock that the president of the United States now attacks that order, while appearing to fawn over Russia.

Nelson W. Cunningham: Yes, special investigations can be witch hunts. The Mueller probe is not one.

We’re hearing a lot these days about 13 Angry Democrats on a Witch Hunt. President Trump and his allies have made much of the fact that 13 lawyers working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are Democratic voters or contributors. Almost all of them are career Justice Department employees who, like most in the D.C. and New York areas, seem to lean to the left.

This has understandably raised questions about their ability to be fair. But do you remember the 36 Angry Republicans who preceded them?

Before there was Mueller, there was Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel tasked with investigating President Bill Clinton over of the course of five years. Those Angry Republicans worked for him. Starr started with the Whitewater land deal and Vince Foster’s suicide, and over more than five years also investigated the travel office firings, the handling of FBI files and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, for which Starr ultimately recommended that Congress consider Clinton’s impeachment.

The lesson from the Starr investigation is that the political makeup of independent investigations does matter — as do the checks and balances that can serve to keep such investigations from becoming a “witch hunt.” Unfortunately for Trump, it’s much harder to make the case that the Mueller investigation is improperly balanced against him than the Starr investigation was against Clinton.

David Royhkopf:The Way Trump and the GOP Deal With Russian Attacks Is ‘Textbook Treason’

The indictments of the 12 Russian military officers accused of engaging in a coordinated attack on the United States to try to make their preferred candidate our president are a vital reminder that the Mueller investigation cannot and must not be seen as a political issue.

The fact that on Friday we also heard from our Director of National Intelligence, a conservative GOP former senator from Indiana, that the cyber offensive (of which the GRU, Russian military intelligence, attacks were part of) is ongoing and that “we are at a critical point” in which “the warning signs are there” is also salient.

It is not an accident that both these strong statements were made as the U.S. president prepared for his ill-considered and unnecessary private meeting with Vladimir Putin — the man who certainly approved, oversaw and continues to oversee these attacks.

It is clear that the intelligence and law enforcement communities of the United States — adhering to the principles of patriotism enumerated by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday — felt that a message needed to be sent to the Russians that we were on to them.