Sep 24 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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Hassan Rouhani: Iran is keeping its nuclear commitments — despite Trump

Hassan Rouhani is president of Iran.

I faced two options on May 8, when President Trump announced the United States’ official withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). I could have reciprocated and announced Iran’s withdrawal, which was certain to throw the region into further insecurity and instability. Or I could have considered a short grace period for the remaining parties to compensate for the adverse effects of the United States’ decision on the valuable accord that had been achieved after 12 years of tough, intensive negotiations. In keeping with our tradition of respect for the rule of law and norms of international law, and to safeguard peace and security in the region, I opted for the latter.

The United States expected a hasty Iranian withdrawal so that it could easily forge an international alliance against Iran and automatically revive previous sanctions. Our action, instead, thwarted such a move. The talks with the remaining JCPOA participants, and their reiteration of compliance with the accord, placed the United States in a lonely position. Such a serious chasm between the United States and its European partners on a critical foreign policy matter was unique and unprecedented — which, I can say, proved that we were right in our approach to the nuclear deal and our proactive diplomacy.

Paul Krugman: Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

In normal times, Donald Trump’s announcement of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, bringing us closer to an all-out trade war, would have dominated headlines for days. Things being as they are, it was a below-the-fold story, drowned out by all the other scandals underway.

Yet Trump’s tariffs really are a big, bad deal. Their direct economic impact will be modest, although hardly trivial. But the numbers aren’t the whole story. Trumpian trade policy has, almost casually, torn up rules America itself created more than 80 years ago — rules intended to ensure that tariffs reflected national priorities, not the power of special interests.

You could say that Trump is making tariffs corrupt again. And the damage will be lasting.

Jennifer Rubin: Here is why you call the FBI

Even before the New Yorker broke the story on Sunday of a second woman accusing Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Republicans were having a tough time pushing back against demands to conduct a legitimate investigation. According to Republicans, we don’t need the FBI to investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. On “Face the Nation,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) bizarrely claimed this is not within the FBI’s expertise. He said, “So my first question would be — the FBI to investigate what — there’s no crime scene to process, there are no forensics to evaluate.” Hmm. FBI employees could talk to Mark Judge, who, according to Ford, was in the room. Wouldn’t that be the thing to do? In any event, they specialize in going back into a high-level nominee’s distant past to find evidence of wrongdoing. That is literally one of their jobs.

Ruth Marcus: Have we learned nothing since Anita Hill?

Anita Hill’s truthfulness was brutally questioned. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) accused her of “flat-out perjury.” So was her sanity. I recall a fevered phone call from a White House adviser peddling the notion that Hill suffered from “erotomania,” a psychiatric disorder involving romantic delusions. So was her character. “A little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” was the contemptuous assessment of then-conservative, now-liberal activist David Brock.

Most fundamentally, the all-male panel of senators grilling the Oklahoma law professor about her sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas demonstrated repeatedly, floridly, how much they just didn’t get it.

They preened about taking such conduct oh so seriously, then failed, time after time, to demonstrate any grasp of real-world workplace power imbalances. How could Hill have failed to speak out about this alleged mistreatment at the time? If Thomas had behaved as abominably as Hill claimed, they kept asking, how could she have followed him from one job to another?

And here we go again, with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the unavoidable question: In 27 years, has nothing changed? The temptation will be to lament the persistence of cluelessness. And, yes, the evidence piles up daily, dumb remark after dumb remark, to support that depressing assessment.

Michael Winship: The Grumpy Old Men of the Senate: Time for This Movie to Fade to Black

Call me a sentimental fool (pipe down out there) but I keep waiting for the big Frank Capra moment that rationally, I know may never come – you know, like the climax of Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington when the corrupt, patrician senator played by Claude Rains, finally undone by the truth told by Senator Jefferson Smith (earnestly played by Jimmy Stewart), tries to shoot himself.

“I’m not fit to be a senator! I’m not fit to live!” he cries. “Every word that boy said about… me and graft and the rotten political corruption of my state is true!”

Yeah, well, in real life you and I know that’s probably not going to happen – at least for now. All you have to do is take one look at the Republican senators bloviating on Capitol Hill to know that among the lot of them any chance of self-examination or repentance or especially truth-telling is about as likely as Justin Bieber being named to the College of Cardinals.