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Jul 27 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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Eugene Robinson: Is this the best Giuliani’s got?

If President Trump’s secretly taped conversation with attorney Michael Cohen reminds you of a crime boss and his consigliere, you’re not alone. Trump’s current lawyer and mouthpiece, Rudolph W. Giuliani, evidently agrees.

After CNN first played the tape on Tuesday, Giuliani went on Fox News and played down its importance, citing his experience as a mob-busting federal prosecutor: “How about 4,000 hours of Mafia people on tape? I know how to listen to them. I know how to transcribe them. This tape is crystal clear when you listen to [it]. I’ve dealt with much worse tapes than this.”

Spin-wise, this is the best they’ve got? That Trump and Cohen don’t sound as bad as the Gambino family? Yikes.

The recording, made by Cohen shortly before the 2016 election , is a window into how Trump does business — and, by extension, what kind of person he is. In it, he and his then-lawyer Cohen discuss their machinations to squelch former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s story of what she describes as a 10-month affair with Trump . The president of the United States is revealed as a schemer and a liar. That’s no surprise, I realize, but now we can hear him in action — and there is no way he can claim the evidence is “fake news.”

Richard Blumenthal: Kavanaugh won’t protect Mueller. His writings prove it.

Recent days have left many Americans with a burning question: Does Vladimir Putin have something on President Trump? The investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III offers the most realistic opportunity to answer that question. But the likelihood of that happening may have taken a hit when the president nominated to the Supreme Court someone whose writing suggests that he thinks presidents should be able to fire special counsels for any reason or no reason at all.

The president may also take comfort from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s observation during a 1999 panel discussion that United States v. Nixon — the unanimous, landmark 1974 Supreme Court opinion forcing President Richard M. Nixon to turn over secretly recorded White House tapes — may not be good law. Even more unsettling than Kavanaugh’s skepticism on that score was his speculation that Nixon might deserve to “be overruled on the ground that the case was a nonjusticiable intrabranch dispute.”

Kavanaugh was thus lending credence to the Nixon White House’s argument that because the Justice Department is part of the executive branch

it has no authority to compel the president to release information relevant to a criminal case. Under this theory, presidents would not only be free to reject burdensome, unfair or otherwise problematic requests for information; they would also be free to reject all requests for information.

Kurt Bardella: House Republicans Aren’t Ignoring Trump And Russia, They’re Actively Blocking The Truth

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s treasonous performance in Helsinki with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, congressional Republicans ― perhaps more than any time since “shithole-gate” ― became very vocal in their criticism of the president.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a former CIA operative, wrote in The New York Times: “As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I strongly believe in the importance of Congress’s oversight responsibilities and will work with my colleagues to ensure that the administration is taking the Russian threat seriously. Without action, we risk losing further credibility in international negotiations with both our friends and foes.”

Similarly, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the oversight committee, said on Fox News Sunday that evidence of Russia’s attack on the U.S. is overwhelming and that Trump “needs to say that and act like it.”

And yet, for all their rhetoric, Politico reports that “senior-level Republican aides and lawmakers” are asking the question, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT US TO DO?”

Michael Tomasky: What if Trump Has Created a Monster That No Republican Can Control After He’s Gone?

Sometimes, people ask me, “Can we recover from this?” I say yes, because President Trump won’t last forever. Whoever succeeds him will be normal. Maybe normal and very right wing, if we’re unlucky, but normal in the sense that he or she will have basic respect for democratic principles and won’t treat the presidency as if it were the Genovese family.

But lately I’ve been thinking. Okay, the person who succeeds Trump might have basic respect for democratic principles. But what if many millions of Americans—Republicans, to be more precise—don’t? What if Trump has created a monster that will outlive him and that no normal Republican can control?

This is a very real possibility, and it got a lot realer this week. I got chills down my spine when I read Trump’s tweet on Tuesday: “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

Okay. Trump lies. This, we know. But at this point it’s not enough to say Trump lies. We have to catalogue the different kinds of lies. There are at least three.

Catherine Rampell: The economy’s great. That doesn’t mean Trumponomics is.

Economic growth probably surged last quarter. If so, expect President Trump and his supporters to crow that Trumponomics has been validated at last.

But that probably is the exact opposite lesson Trump, and everyone else, should take from the numbers.

On Friday morning, we’ll get an update on how the U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is faring. GDP growth is likely to look quite strong in the second quarter: Forecasters expect it to be well above 3 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Some predictions run as high as 4 or 5 percent.

Which is, obviously, good news! We want the economy to expand more quickly than it has done for the past few years, when it’s puttered along at about 2 percent.

But there are a lot of reasons not to read too much into one quarter of strong growth — or interpret it as evidence that Trump’s tax cut and trade war are good things. [..]

One last thing to keep in mind if you see high-fives at the White House on Friday: Where are the raises? Output may have swelled last quarter, but paychecks did not. Adjusted for inflation, average hourly earnings were flat in June compared with a year earlier, according to the Labor Department.

If Trumponomics is indeed working, it’s still not working for workers.