Feb 07 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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Joyce White Vance and Matthew Miller: The Mueller investigation has sprouted. Therein lies the jeopardy for Trump.

It’s not the crime; it’s the offspring of the crime.

If the old Watergate expression is “It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup,” then today’s equivalent might be “It’s not the crime; it’s the crime’s offspring.”

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York served a sweeping subpoena on President Trump’s inaugural committee on Monday. Nothing could more clearly illustrate the breadth of the president’s legal exposure and the limits of his nearly two-year strategy to attack and undermine special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — because the special counsel’s work is merely the sturdy root of a veritable Mueller family tree. What began as an FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has sprouted into multiple investigations in multiple jurisdictions examining multiple possible crimes. The case against the president’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is the direct line, the first child. The investigation of the inaugural committee, which sprang from the Cohen case, is the grandchild. And on it goes.

The president no longer faces jeopardy from just one federal criminal probe, but at least three, and not just one prosecutor’s office, but the full resources of the entire Justice Department. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump asserted that “ridiculous partisan investigations” threatened the “economic miracle” that was happening on his watch. The threat of the investigations, however you characterize them, is to the president himself.

Richard Wolffe: Trump has been unimpeachable in uniting a country – in horror

The US president was wasting time in his second State of the Union speech, he just wants to talk about Trump

Just one year ago, Donald Trump stood in front of an exhausted nation to deliver a pick-me-up of bipartisan love.

Yes, several thousand Americans had just died after his botched recovery in Puerto Rico. Yes, he was kowtowing to the Kremlin and kneecapping the FBI. But why, he wondered, can’t we just get along?

“It is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy,” he lamented. “Tonight, I call up on all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.”

Trump’s leadership has been utterly flawless on this front. You might even say unimpeachable.

In the last 12 months, he has brought Washington together in horror by separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents and detaining thousands more in secret prisons. He has dismayed both sides of Congress by bragging about a government shutdown that began while his party controlled the whole ball game. Republicans and Democrats alike stood aghast as he cozied up to North Korea, forced out his respected defense secretary, and pathetically petted Vladimir Putin.

He has never wavered from setting aside his calls to set aside our differences. He has resolutely failed to seek out common ground. And his idea of unity is to rally as many old white men as he can find on a golf course.

Jamelle Bouie: The False Promise of the Moderate Democrat

Struggle against the powerful, not accommodation of their interests, is how America produced the conditions for its greatest social reforms.

There’s something odd about the self-described moderates and centrists considering a run for president. If “moderation” or “centrism” means holding broadly popular positions otherwise marginalized by extremists in either party, then these prospective candidates don’t quite fit the bill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on the nation’s largest fortunes is very popular, according to recent polling by Morning Consult, with huge support from Democrats and considerable backing from Republicans. But Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who has flirted with running for president as a moderate Democrat, rejects the plan as an extreme policy that would put the United States on the path to economic ruin. “If you want to look at a system that’s noncapitalistic, just take a look at what was once, perhaps, the wealthiest country in the world, and today people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela,” he said during a January trip to New Hampshire. He is similarly dismissive of the idea of “Medicare for all,” warning that it would “bankrupt us for a very long time.”

Likewise, Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, has staked out ground as a moderate politician, even as he opposes similarly popular ideas. A substantial majority of the public favors proposals to greatly expand college access or make it free outright. In a January op-ed for The Washington Post, McAuliffe dismissed “universal free college” as a misuse of tax dollars. “Spending limited taxpayer money on a free college education for the children of rich parents badly misses the mark for most families.”

Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s slump could be permanent

President Trump had a rotten month. “In the latest data from Morning Consult’s Trump Tracker, which measures the president’s approval rating in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a record low of 40 percent of voters approved of Trump and a record-high 55 percent disapproved, resulting in the worst monthly net rating of his presidency.”

The notion that Trump hasn’t suffered with his base is contradicted by a gradual erosion in polling numbers among Republicans. (“Trump’s base remained fairly solid, with 83 percent of Republicans approving of the president. But that share of support among Republicans was its lowest since September.”) Most worrisome for a president whose party commands a declining share of the electorate, “56 percent of independents disapproved of Trump during the first month of 2019, the most of any month since his Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration.”

Paul Waldman: Here comes the Green New Deal. It could dramatically alter our political debate.

Liberal Democrats have been talking about a Green New Deal for months now, and on Thursday morning, they unveiled its first iteration, a resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.).

The resolution, which you can read here, isn’t a detailed piece of legislation. Instead, it’s a statement of intent, explaining the justification and goals of a massive infrastructure program to transition to a sustainable future. This is at once incredibly ambitious and politically practical, in that its advocates seem to have in their minds a long-term plan to get it accomplished.

Don’t be surprised if in short order it becomes one of the defining pieces of the Democratic agenda, both in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail.

Since Democrats have control of only one house of Congress, the course that Green New Deal advocates are following is to begin by articulating the need and establishing the framework of a plan. That gives Democrats something to get behind and drives a discussion, putting the issue on the agenda for the next couple of years. If they succeed, when it becomes actually possible to pass such a plan and have it signed by a Democratic president — 2021 at the earliest — the question will no longer be whether we need a Green New Deal, but what it should and shouldn’t include.