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Jan 16 2019

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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Roger Cohen: Hold a Second Brexit Referendum

A democracy that cannot change its mind is not a democracy. The people may do that when presented with the whole picture after seeing only a partial or distorted one.

It has taken more than 30 months to shift from “Fantasy Brexit” to “Reality Brexit.” The difference, after vitriolic debate that has consumed British politics virtually to the exclusion of all else, is stark.

The first was Britain’s 2016 vote, fueled by lies, to leave the European Union, trumpets blaring. The second, after a crash course in the facts of what membership brings for Britain, came Tuesday in the form of the crushing defeat by a 432-to-202 parliamentary vote of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for British withdrawal on March 29. [..]

The vote, the most overwhelming defeat for a prime minister in recent British history, makes it more likely that the March 29 deadline will not be met. It also makes it more likely, if not yet probable, that a second referendum will be held.

Jennifer Rubin: Facing Trump’s tantrum, Pelosi takes away the TV

To say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has mastered the art of dealing with President Trump would be a gross understatement. She fact-checked him in the Oval Office on live TV and passed spending bills to reopen the government, thereby reinforcing Trump’s responsibility for the shutdown. To top it off, she’s taking away the president’s TV. More precisely, in response to Trump’s nearly month-long temper tantrum, she has told him he won’t get his prime-time State of the Union address on Jan. 29.

In a letter to Trump, she writes, “During the 19th Century and up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing. And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown.” She then explains that both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, which are charged with security, “have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.” Given all that, we couldn’t possibly have the speech, she says.

Dana Muilbank: Why would William Barr take this job? The answer should alarm Trump.

It was William P. Barr’s confirmation hearing. But it was Robert S. Mueller III’s affirmation hearing.

President Trump had nominated Barr to be his new attorney general to shield him from Mueller’s hoax of a rigged witch hunt. But Barr spent much of his seven-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday lavishing praise on his future boss’s tormentor. And Republicans, for the most part, didn’t defend Trump — and occasionally joined in the Mueller veneration. [..]

But why would Barr come out of retirement, instead of spending “cherished time” with grandchildren, to take a job he already had — only to become a villain for covering up Mueller’s findings?

“You seem like a rational person,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told Barr. “Why do you want this job?”

Indeed, he’s joining a president famous for chewing up once-respected figures and sending them packing in disgrace and humiliation. Trump reportedly referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo” and “mentally retarded” and demeaned him publicly.

Barr’s answer to Durbin should have sent chills down the presidential spine as he munched on leftover Big Macs at the White House.

Paul Krugman: Will China’s Economy Hit a Great Wall?

The other day I issued a warning about the Chinese economy. It is, I wrote, “emerging as a danger spot in a world economy that really, really doesn’t need this right now.”

Unfortunately, the other day was more than 6 years ago. And it’s not just me. Many people have been predicting a China crisis for a long time, and it has kept on not happening.

But now China seems to be stumbling again. Is this the moment when all the prophecies of big trouble in big China finally come true? Honestly, I have no idea.

On one side, China’s problems are real. On the other, the Chinese government – hindered neither by rigid ideology nor by anything resembling a democratic political process – has repeatedly shown its ability and willingness to do whatever it takes to prop up its economy. It’s really anyone’s guess whether this time will be different, or whether Xi-who-must-be-obeyed can pull out another recovery.

Frank Bruni: Republicans, Racism and Steve King

Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican who couldn’t be much clearer about his values if he went around in a conical white hood, said last week that “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” were inoffensive if not honorable terms, and now his fellow party members in Congress are coming down on him like a ton of bricks.

I just don’t get it. Why the upset?

Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that King’s remarks were “stupid” and “hurtful” and that Americans “ought to be united, regardless of party, in saying ‘white supremacism,’ ‘white nationalism’ is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong.”

Strong and righteous words. Hats off to Senator Cruz. But that indignation eluded him when he was running for president in 2016. Just before the Iowa caucuses, Cruz touted King’s endorsement of him. For good and fawning measure, he chose King as the national co-chairman of his campaign.