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Aug 17 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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John O. Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash

The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of “Trump Incorporated” attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. A jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman. And the campaign’s former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.

Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference — from Mr. Trump or anyone else — so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.

Eugene Robinson: The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at 76, was more than the undisputed “Queen of Soul.” She was one of the most important musicians of our time, a genius who soared above genres and expectations to create music that will live forever.

She was not an opera singer, yet she brought down the house at the Grammys in 1998 when she filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and delivered an unforgettable version of the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma.” She was not a jazz singer, but her renditions of standards such as “Love for Sale” and “Misty” were cited by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in awarding her the organization’s highest honors. She was not primarily known as a gospel singer, but I defy anyone to hear her sing “Precious Lord” and not feel the spirit.

In 1972, veteran rock critic Robert Christgau set out to “explode the Aretha Franklin myth,” using her newly released album, “Young, Gifted and Black,” as his vehicle. But after listening to the LP, he called it a “triumph” and declared: “Yes, yes, Aretha Franklin is a genius.” [..]

In the end, though, it was Franklin’s brilliant musicianship that allowed her to shape her talent and her ideas into an epochal body of work. Her music was always soulful, whether she was singing a call-and-response gospel number or a spun-sugar confection aimed at the pop charts. Her use of melisma was impeccably tasteful — always just enough, never too much. She told stories in a way that made you dance, cry, love, laugh, even try to sing along.

She was a towering, once-in-a-generation vocal artist. This is a very sad day.

Paul Krugman: Something Not Rotten in Denmark

To be or not to be a socialist hellhole, that is the question. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Last weekend, Trish Regan, a Fox Business host, created a bit of an international incident by describing Denmark as an example of the horrors of socialism, right along with Venezuela. Denmark’s finance minister suggested that she visit his country and learn some facts.

Indeed, Regan couldn’t have picked a worse example — or, from the point of view of U.S. progressives, a better one.

For Denmark has indeed taken a very different path from the United States over the past few decades, veering (modestly) to the left where we’ve veered right. And it has done just fine.

American politics has been dominated by a crusade against big government; Denmark has embraced an expansive government role, with public spending more than half of G.D.P. American politicians fear talk about redistribution of income from the rich to the less well-off; Denmark engages in such redistribution on a scale unimaginable here. American policy has been increasingly hostile to organized labor, and unions have virtually disappeared from the private sector; two-thirds of Danish workers are unionized.

Conservative ideology says that Denmark’s policy choices should be disastrous, that grass should be growing in the streets of Copenhagen. Regan was, in effect, describing what her employers think must be happening there. But if Denmark is a hellhole, it’s doing a very good job of hiding that fact: I was just there, and it looks awfully prosperous.

Frida Ghitis: Trump’s all-about-me approach is warping the presidency

Does anyone believe President Donald Trump’s claim, issued via press secretary Sarah Sanders, that he wanted only to protect the country when he revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance?

That claim was, in case you missed it, the official reason. “I have a unique responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information,” Trump said in a statement Sanders read on Wednesday.

But before the day was over, Trump had admitted what everyone already knew: that this was all about Brennan’s piercing criticism and his role in launching the investigation into his campaign’s possible involvement with the Russians in the 2016 election.
“I call it the rigged witch hunt,” the President complained in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “and these people [the intelligence community] led it.” Therefore, “I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Once again, Trump has made a move affecting national security driven by what he thinks most benefits him [..]

It’s not all about Trump’s fragile ego, of course. The Russia probe is a serious threat to Trump’s presidency. And Brennan’s words highlighted that fact.

The decision to rip away Brennan’s clearance encapsulates Trump’s imperious, insecure personalization of policy, his propensity to lie to justify his transgressions, and his flailing efforts to quiet his critics — efforts that, as we have already seen, are doomed to fail.

David Clohessy: It’s time for #MeToo in the Catholic church

It’s all about the bishops.” That’s the single most damning line from a new, 1,300-page report, released by the Pennsylvania supreme court on Tuesday, which found that 300 predator priests in the state had abused more than 1,000 children since 1947. It’s the latest scandal in the Catholic church’s continuing child abuse crisis.

The two-year investigation, conducted by Pennsylvania’s attorney general and a dozen grand jurors, involved hundreds of interviews, and examined half a million pages of church records. The inquiry is the biggest US government investigation into child abuse inside the Catholic church. [..]

The investigation concluded that bishops “followed a playbook for concealing the truth” and while “priests were raping little boys and girls, [bishops] hid it all. For decades.” Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, noted that in some cases, “the cover up stretched all the way up to the Vatican” and that bishops “protected their institution at all costs”. Most disturbingly, jurors believe that, even today, bishops are working hard to protect themselves.

The report says that while 1,000 victims were discovered in this investigation, there are likely thousands more who have yet to step forward.

And that’s where my hope lies.