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Aug 02 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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Charles M. Blow: Afraid? Weak? Egotistical? Attack!

It is simply not healthy for the country to have a president stuck perpetually in attack mode, fighting enemies real and imagined, pushing a toxic agenda that mixes the exaltation of grievance and the grinding of axes.

The president’s recent rallies have come to resemble orgies for Donald Trump’s ego, spaces in which he can receive endless, unmeasured adulation and in which the crowds can gather for a revival of an anger that registers as near-religious. They can experience a communal affirmation that they are not alone in their intolerance, outrage and regression.

At these moments, the preacher and the pious share a spiritual moment of darkness.

Such was the case again this week at a Trump rally in Florida, at which his supporters aggressively heckled and harassed the free press that Trump incessantly brands with the false descriptor of “fake news.” [..]

This “fake news” nonsense isn’t really about the dissemination of false information. If it were, the administration could demand a correction and would receive one from any reputable news outlet.

No, Trump has made a perversion of the word “fake,” particularly among his most ardent supporters, so that it has come to mean news stories he doesn’t like, commentary that is unflattering to him and inadequate coverage of what he views as positive news about him and his administration.

Trump doesn’t want a free press; he wants free propaganda.

Max Boot: The president is flouting the law in plain sight

There are so many smoking guns in the Russiagate scandal that it can be hard to clearly discern what’s going on amid all the haze. But clear away the confusion and what you see is the president flouting the law, not (as usually happens) behind closed doors but in plain sight.

On Wednesday, President Trump proclaimed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.” Sessions recused himself from the investigation last year, but Trump would dearly love for that decision to be reversed so Sessions could shield him from justice. [..]

Trump’s team, on cleanup duty, claimed the president is offering an opinion, not issuing a formal order. But when a boss tells a subordinate he “should” do something, it’s not just an innocent opinion like “that’s a nice shirt.” Last year, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the president’s tweets are “official statements.” Indeed, the president fired then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet. If Trump was just expressing a nonbinding opinion, why isn’t Tillerson still on the job?

When the president tells his attorney general he “should” stop an investigation of his alleged misconduct, that is strong evidence of obstruction of justice. It doesn’t matter, from a legal perspective, whether the directive is whispered in secret or shouted for all to hear. It doesn’t even matter whether the investigation is actually stopped or not. A crime is still a crime even if it’s not carried out to a successful conclusion.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The People’s Budget is a road map for reconstruction

Amid the cacophony of Donald Trump’s chaos presidency, an alternative movement is building. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) serves as one marker. Another is the progress Bernie Sanders and his allies have made in winning the battle of ideas within the party. A third is the turn of movements such as Black Lives Matter from protest to program and building power. Last week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus — co-chaired by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) — provided another, publishing the latest edition of “The People’s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward.”

Bolstered by economic analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the budget provides a compelling alternative direction for this country and a stark contrast to the perverse values and priorities that now dominate our corrupted politics. Yet, in many ways, it is a centrist document, reflecting the common sense and basic priorities of the majority of Americans.

While Republican tax cuts larded most of the benefits on the wealthy and provided only weak stimulus to job growth, the CPC’s budget makes jobs the first priority. Even with top-line unemployment down to 4 percent, the percentage of prime-age workers (25-54) with jobs still has not returned to pre-Great Recession levels. That directly hurts wage growth. The People’s Budget argues that at a time when inequality has reached extreme levels and vital public investments are starved for funds, we should create good jobs by focusing on rebuilding infrastructure, one of the many promises President Trump made and abandoned. The CPC budget calls for $2 trillion over 10 years of public investment in clean water systems, public schools, roads and bridges, mass transit and many other critical domestic needs.

Karen Tumulty: Trump’s most despicable supporters tell us who they are

Give President Trump’s most loathsome supporters this much: They don’t hide who they are.

A year ago, it was the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. Now, just look for people wearing shirts and carrying signs with the letter “Q” at Trump rallies. They were all over the place in the crowd that showed up for the president’s speech Tuesday night at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa.

Most sane people had probably never heard of the QAnon until recently, though its theories would occasionally surface when spread by people such as actress Roseanne Barr and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. Its information supposedly comes from “Q,” an anonymous poster on several image boards who claims to be a government agent with top-secret clearance.

It is what a Post headline accurately described as a “deranged conspiracy cult,” one that has crawled out of the malodorous crevices of the Internet where decent people don’t go. That it would announce its presence in public is both horrifying and perfectly predictable, given how racist lies that Barack Obama was born in Africa helped launch Trump on his path to the White House. The movement, if you care to dignify it by calling it one, is Birtherism 2.0.

David Rothkopf: Trump’s Answer to Corruption? More Corruption

As I sit in front of the television with a big bowl of bourbon-soaked popcorn on my lap settling in to follow the Manafort trial, naturally my thoughts drift back to a simpler, less demented time.

I’m old enough to remember when a scandal was still a scandal. I’m also old enough to remember black and white television and when a slice of pizza was only 25 cents. But don’t let my decrepitude fool you. I still have my marbles. I’m a good deal younger than our president and I, at least, have been publicly acknowledged to be sanity-adjacent.

One thing I’m clear on is that since the arrival on the public stage of Donald Trump, scandals just aren’t what they used to be. They have suffered a serious devaluation, almost as serious as the blows to America’s international standing under Trump. The two are not unrelated.