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Apr 24 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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Robert Reich: Mueller Report Makes It Official: Trump a Morally Despicable Human Being

Even though Mueller apparently doesn’t believe a sitting president can be indicted, he provides a devastating indictment of Trump’s character.

Democrats in Congress and talking heads on television will be consumed in the coming weeks by whether the evidence in the Mueller report, especially of obstruction of justice, merits impeachment.

In addition, the question of “wink-wink” cooperation with Russia still looms. Mueller’s quote of Trump, when first learning a special counsel had been appointed—“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked”—has already become a national tagline. Why, Americans wonder, would Trump be “fucked” if he hadn’t done something so awful as to cause its revelation to “fuck” him?

We’ll also have Mueller’s own testimony before Congress, and Congress’s own investigations of Trump.

But let’s be real. Trump will not be removed by impeachment. No president has been. With a Republican Senate controlled by the most irresponsible political hack ever to be majority leader, the chances are nil.

Which means Trump will have to be removed the old-fashioned way – by voters in an election 19 months away.

The practical question, then, is whether the Mueller report and all that surrounds it will affect that election.

Jennifer Rubin: Why not Warren?

The most progressive wing of the Democratic Party is represented by two candidates: One is younger than President Trump, cheerful, doesn’t have the “socialist” label and has a zillion policy ideas. The other is five years older than Trump, prickly and humorless, has the socialist label and embraces the most extreme positions many in his party reject (e.g. allowing incarcerated mass murderers to vote). So far — to my ongoing amazement — Democratic primary voters tell pollsters they want the grouchy socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), not Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the cheerful policy wonk who declares she’s a capitalist, albeit one who recognizes that the system is “rigged.”

We should remember that early polling might simply reflect Sanders’s name recognition, but nevertheless, it is not as if Warren is an unknown quantity. By virtually any measure, she’s a more accomplished and more electable choice, yet it’s Sanders who remains in the top tier of candidates. As Warren showed Monday night at a CNN town hall, she’s obviously the candidate with the most detailed, specific policies — and the one most capable of explaining detailed plans. She also manages to be less frightening — but bolder — than Sanders. [..]

Why, then, is Sanders high in the polls and Warren struggling? Somehow Sanders has convinced himself and a lot of Democrats that a socialist pushing 80 years old who wants to let incarcerated mass murderers vote is more electable. Seriously, Democrats? If you want the candidate farthest to the left who won’t be clobbered by alienated voters who elected moderates in 2018, you’d better look elsewhere — that is, if you actually want to win the White House.

Catherine Rampell: Trump left our allies at the altar. Now he’s mad they’re moving on.

What a jerk you were to let me dump you.

That’s the message the Trump administration is sending to some of our closest allies and most important economic partners. The most recent target is Japan, whom our U.S. ambassador berated last week for not giving us a favorable deal that Japan actually did give us — before we abruptly ripped it up.

The United States spent eight years negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This 12-country Pacific Rim trade pact was partly designed to build an economic and diplomatic alliance that would keep China, which had been excluded from the deal, in check.

But the United States’ objective was also to open up new markets for U.S.-made products, especially U.S. agricultural goods. A 2016 analysis from the International Trade Commission found that agriculture and food would be the U.S. sector that saw the greatest percentage gain in output growth as a result of the TPP.

Greater access to the Japanese market was particularly enticing to U.S. farmers and ranchers. Japan is a wealthy, mature economy — where high-income consumers can afford high-end U.S. beef and high-quality U.S. grains — but it’s also an economy that has had high barriers to agricultural trade.

And so, as part of the TPP talks, the U.S. trade team spent about a year negotiating one-on-one with Japan about agriculture, with the understanding that whatever concessions the United States won would be granted to the other TPP member countries as well.

This allowed us to “design the shape of a package that catered to U.S. priorities,” explains Darci Vetter, then the chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Les Leopold: America’s Biggest Lie: We Can’t Afford Medicare for All

Think about how much your income would go up if you didn’t have to pay for healthcare at all. That would begin to close the gap between productivity and wages for the first time in a generation.

Pundits and politicians repeatedly warn us that the country cannot afford costly social services. They  caution about the perils of a rising national debt, the supposed near bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security, and the need to sell public services to the highest bidder in order to save them.  We must tighten our belts sooner or later, they tell us, rather than spend on social goods like universal health care, free higher education and badly needed infrastructure.

To many Americans this sounds all too true because they are having an incredibly tough time making ends meet. According to the Federal Reserve, “Four in 10 adults in 2017 would either borrow, sell something, or not be able pay if faced with a $400 emergency expense.” To those who are so highly stressed financially, the idea of paying for a costly program like Medicare for All sounds impossible.

We are the richest country in the history of the world, however, and certainly could afford vastly expanded and improved vital public services if we had the will. What stands in the way is runaway inequality. Our nation’s wealth has been hijacked by the super-rich, with plenty of aid from their paid-for politicians.

 

Leonard Pitts, Jr.: Face It, Repubs, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Way Smarter Than You Guys

Not to treat her like the Second Coming—she is, again, just a neophyte lawmaker—but in her passion, her preparedness and her pugnacity, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is conducting a master class on the power of light and air, using the notoriety you gave her to do so

Memo to the Republican Party:

You might want to stop messing with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

She’s a freshman congresswoman with no significant legislative achievements, so it makes little sense that you spend so much time and energy on her. Besides, every time you do, you end up getting pantsed.

You’d think you’d learn. Yet, like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football, you keep coming back for more. [..]

Not to treat her like the Second Coming — she is, again, just a neophyte lawmaker — but in her passion, her preparedness and her pugnacity, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is conducting a master class on the power of light and air, using the notoriety you gave her to do so. A new generation of progressive leaders is surely taking notes.

So a smart party would up its game, would quit manufacturing demons and start manufacturing ideas. Start manufacturing hope. It would be nice to believe that’s what you’ll do. On the other hand, Charlie Brown always said he wasn’t going to let Lucy trick him again.

It would have been nice to believe that, too.

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