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Aug 07 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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Michelle Goldberg: Will the Birthplace of the Modern Right Turn Blue?

July 31, 2018, was a Tuesday, which meant that constituents of Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican congressman from Orange County, were out protesting. Until recently, the weekly demonstrations had been in front of his office, but for the summer, activists from Rohrabacher’s district, the 48th, are teaming up with those from the neighboring 45th, represented by Republican Mimi Walters. Fifty people met in a small park in Newport Beach, then stood with protest signs by the side of the road. They earned a surprising number of appreciative honks, given that Orange County was once at the very heart of the American right. [..]

A few years ago, this might have seemed fantastical. Since its creation in 1993, no Democrat has ever represented the 48th district. Hillary Clinton won it by 1.7 points in 2016, but Rohrabacher was re-elected by more than 16 points. But since 2016, Rohrabacher’s odd Russophilia has been thrown into high relief by the Russia investigation. (“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a secretly recorded 2016 conversation.) Some of his constituents are up in arms by the prospect of oil drilling off their gorgeous coast.

And the Republican has a formidable opponent in Harley Rouda, a strapping, square-jawed millionaire who won the Democratic primary in part thanks to Indivisible’s support.

Catherine Rampell: For every Manafort you see, there are so many you don’t

One possible lesson of the many brazen, conspicuous scandals related to President Trump and others in his orbit: The U.S. government has been massively underinvesting in enforcement and prosecution of white-collar crime.

Trumpkins argue that the pileup of charges against onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is a sign that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gone rogue. After all, many of the allegations against Manafort — laundering $30 million in income, submitting false tax returns, lying to banks, failing to register as a foreign agent, obstructing justice — stem from his work in and for Ukraine before 2016. They’re not directly related to his time on the Trump campaign.

Some of Manafort’s alleged crimes, as Trump loves to point out, are more than a decade old!

But the right question isn’t why Mueller is going after Manafort now. It is: Why didn’t someone go after Manafort before? After all, there were just So. Many. Red. Flags.

Not just the wire transfers to buy jackets made from exotic animals but also the decades of work for international thugs and kleptocrats, such as former Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos or former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort is also hardly the only person associated with Trump who has engaged in conspicuously suspicious financial and political activities.

Barbara McQuade and Mimi Rocah: Trump’s Tweet About Donald Jr. and the Russians Is a Gift to Mueller

President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet regarding the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians may seem like just one more of many he has posted that tend to incriminate himself, but this time it contained an explicit admission about a fact that he has vehemently denied and this time he might also have implicated his son, Donald Trump Jr.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted about the now well-known meeting that occurred in June 2016 at Trump Tower with Russians. Trump tweeted that it was “Fake News, a complete fabrication” that he was concerned about the meeting that his “wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower.” In doing so, Trump made a somewhat stunning admission: “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent.”

Let that sink in. [..]

So, putting aside the fact that Trump now has admitted he lied repeatedly and publicly about “no collusion” what does the tweet mean for the legal implications and the real “c” word—conspiracy—for Trump and his son? Let’s break it down.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s rally rhetoric is going to get somebody killed

Everything you need to know about today’s Republican Party is summed up by a photograph from President Trump’s political rally in Ohio on Saturday. Two men in the crowd look defiantly at the camera, proudly displaying the slogan on their matching T-shirts: “I’d Rather Be a Russian Than a Democrat.”

The sound you hear is the GOP presidents of the Cold War era — Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Reagan — whirring like turbines in their graves.

This is the state of derangement to which Trump has brought a once-great political party. Anyone tempted to dismiss these cult-of-personality rallies as freakish sideshows should keep in mind one sobering fact: An astounding 89 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s performance as president, according to Gallup. The GOP has lost its mind. [..]

Previous Republican presidents have complained about press coverage. Trump calls the news media “the Enemy of the People,” a phrase that blood-soaked totalitarian regimes have used to justify assassinations and purges. Don’t be comforted by GOP apologists who say Trump is just using over-the-top rhetoric and doesn’t really mean it. As recently as Sunday, he tweeted that “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People because they know it’s TRUE.” He called the media “very dangerous and sick!”

On Friday, a C-SPAN caller who identified himself as “Don from State College, Pennsylvania” threatened that “I’m going to shoot” CNN hosts Brian Stelter and Don Lemon. Words have consequences: Trump’s unhinged rhetoric is going to get somebody killed.

Robert Kuttner: Donald Trump Won’t Be The 2020 Republican Nominee, And Other Predictions

There is a saying attributed to various wise men: “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” Allow me to tempt fate and offer some musings about the 2020 election and America’s democratic future.

I will be amazed if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. The water around him is rising fast, and he is likely to be long gone by 2020, either via impeachment or resignation in a deal that spares him prosecution.

Trump’s Sunday morning tweet admitted that a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving campaign aides and a Kremlin-linked lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent.”

The tweet undercut a lie that Donald Trump Jr. told in July 2017 when he said that the meeting had been primarily about the adoption of Russian children. That lie was cooked up in close consultation with Trump senior.

In a recent New Yorker post, Adam Davidson details just how Trump’s “no collusion” story has fallen apart, in part due to his own impulsive failure to keep his lies straight. [..]

All of this is more than enough to justify an obstruction of justice charge, a prime ground for impeachment. And it should be more than enough to cause Republican defenders to distance themselves from Trump. As special counsel Robert Mueller ferrets out more and more detail, a panicky Trump gets crazier and crazier. He will likely do himself in.

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