Jul 18 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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Michael Waldman: Courting Disaster: The Trouble With Brett Kavanaugh’s Views of Executive Power in the Age of Trump

“If the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” So said Richard Nixon after his resignation.

Nixon left office in August 1974, just two weeks after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, U.S. vs. Nixon. The chief executive had argued he could not be investigated by a special prosecutor. He insisted his secret White House tapes were protected by executive privilege. He said the Supreme Court lacked the power even to hear the case.

But the justices disagreed. By a resounding unanimous vote, they ordered Nixon to obey a subpoena and turn over his tapes. Nixon’s own choice as chief justice, Warren Burger, wrote the opinion. The President, it said, is not above the law.

Standing up to a lawless President — ruling for the Constitution — is one of the top jobs of a Supreme Court justice. And at a time of scandal and investigation, the nomination of a new justice poses stark questions. Will Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee, stand up to presidential abuses? Or will he roll over? With a supine Congress and a President who increasingly flouts the law, an independent and strong Supreme Court is more important than ever.

Peter Daou: Republicans have decided to follow Trump off a cliff of treachery

For more than a generation, conventional wisdom has portrayed Republicans as the sole defenders of the American flag, the great stewards of patriotism, the gun-toting, tough-talking party of law and order. This myth has been pushed relentlessly on talk radio, on Fox News, and through every facet of rightwing media. It has long been presented as fact by the traditional media, putting Democrats on the defensive as they have struggled to shake ingrained perceptions that they are meek and unpatriotic. [..]

That is, until Donald Trump came along. With his unshakable fealty to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the GOP’s wholesale surrender to Russia’s 2016 cyber-invasion, Trump and his enablers are single-handedly shattering the myth that Republicans have a monopoly on patriotism. If anything, Republican politicians are showing a traitorous streak that has shocked even the most level-headed of political observers.

Reacting to Trump’s stupefying defense of Putin at the Helsinki summit, former presidential adviser David Gergen ‏tweeted: “The fact that Trump chose a thug over the American people and his own officials captures just how unpresidential and unpatriotic he is. Never have I seen a president so badly betray his own country on the world stage.”

Robby Mook: The Secret Service protects candidates physically. Why not digitally?

Fifty years ago last month, Robert Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It could have been prevented. At least, that’s what Congress determined shortly after his death when it authorized Secret Service protection for presidential contenders.

Today, it would be unimaginable to expect presidential campaigns to provide physical protection for their candidates. The risks of an attack are incredibly high, and campaigns simply do not have the sophistication, training or access to intelligence to do the job, especially if a sophisticated country such as China or Russia is the culprit.

But when it comes to cybersecurity, our approach is completely different. The Secret Service provides cyber-protection for the president when he travels, but it doesn’t offer the same treatment for campaigns. When I ran Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the FBI showed up unannounced in our lobby to tell us that Russians were sending spear-phishing emails months after we’d detected them ourselves. They couldn’t do anything to help us; they could only tell us they thought something was happening and ask for evidence.

My goal is not to blame the FBI or the White House. All of us were waking up to this threat in real time. All of us made mistakes. Nor is it necessarily the FBI’s role to provide hands-on help. But it should be someone’s — and today it remains no one’s.

William Webster: Let Robert Mueller Do His Job

In 1978, I was asked to head the F.B.I. at a perilous time. The bureau was mired in controversy, stung by criticism over Watergate and warrantless wiretaps, beleaguered by congressional investigations. I took on the job because, as I said back then, “this institution was too important to lose.”

We worked hard to restore trust. Ronald Reagan later appointed me to do the same at the C.I.A. after the Iran-contra scandal. Having served my country through these challenging chapters in American history, I am saddened by what I see happening today to the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. From President Trump’s tweets to broadsides from his lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, denouncing the investigation, to calls from congressional Republicans for the ouster of Mr. Mueller’s boss, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, it’s destructive.

Steve Israel: The Trump Administration Caves on Plastic Guns

A rare event occurred on Capitol Hill at the end of 2013: Republicans and Democrats agreed on a sensible, if modest, measure to continue regulating guns made from plastic. Now the Trump administration seems to be taking aim at even that.

The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, first signed into law by Ronald Reagan and extended in 1998 by Bill Clinton, and again in 2003 by George W. Bush, was expiring. The law answered a fear that terrorists could smuggle weapons with lightweight polymer components through metal detectors by banning the manufacture, possession and transport of these weapons.

In 1988, plastic guns were science fiction. In 2013, they were reality.

Printing with 3-D technology allows someone to produce a fully functioning plastic firearm almost anywhere. All you need is an inexpensive printer purchased online or at the neighborhood office supply store and a downloadable file. The result: a lethal firearm that almost anyone can make and is difficult to identify with X-ray technology and metal detectors.