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May 01 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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Jennifer Rubin: William Barr and his horrible hearing

So far, Attorney General William P. Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has done himself and the administration no favors. To the contrary, former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal observes, “Barr has been evasive and misleading from the first paragraph. It’s conduct totally unbecoming of an attorney general. He’s not even very good at misleading.”

Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman were more blunt. “This is nuts . . . just bonkers, ” he told me mid-morning. [..]

If Democrats before had suspected Barr was being intentionally deceptive, acting more like a slick lawyer defending a client than an attorney general presenting the findings of a prosecutor appointed by his own department, this performance will convince them he is intentionally fencing with Congress to minimize the president’s wrongdoing. One cannot read the 10 categories of conduct and Mueller’s recitation of the OLC letter without concluding that the special counsel was leaving the matter to Congress. Barr, in denying the plain meaning of Mueller’s report and deciding a prosecutorial decision had to be made, ignores history (e.g., special prosecutor Leon Jaworski made a referral to Congress during the Watergate scandal) and twists Mueller’s words (in particular, intimating that Mueller wasn’t affected by the OLC letter).

We’ll see how the rest of his day goes and whether he shows up before the House Judiciary Committee. An honorable person would resign, but having proved himself a political hack, Barr surely will not and, therefore, may face impeachment hearings. He’s become Trump’s lawyer (a clumsy one at that) and has ceased to abide by his oath to enforcement the laws (including his own department’s OLC guidelines). He can no longer function credibly as attorney general.

James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr

Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

People have been asking me hard questions. What happened to the leaders in the Trump administration, especially the attorney general, Bill Barr, who I have said was due the benefit of the doubt?

How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?

How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?

How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?

And how could Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, after the release of Mr. Mueller’s report that detailed Mr. Trump’s determined efforts to obstruct justice, give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law? Or on resigning, thank a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice he led for “the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations”?

What happened to these people?

Hamilton Nolan: Clinton-era politics refuses to die. Joe Biden is its zombie that staggers on

Biden thinks he’s well positioned because after the shock of the Trump years, people want to go back to where we were. Wrong

You cannot understand politics in America until you understand that in the Democratic party, which ostensibly represents the left side of our nation’s political spectrum, there are a significant number of people who genuinely believe that Joe Biden is the best possible presidential nominee. Their belief is not cynical, or at least not wholly cynical.

His constituency is real. It is not illuminating to think of them just as centrists, arguing for the gentlest sprinkling of sugar over the top of America’s poison. It’s better to think of them as zombies: the product of three decades of self-serving, triangulating brainwashing. They are the Democrats who had their eyelids propped open and were forced to watch the Clinton era, year after year after year. It is not so much that they do not, deep down, harbor a vague wish for a better world; it is that, like stray dogs dining exclusively on garbage, life has taught them that this is the best that they will ever get.

Consider what it says about the state of America’s political system that in the left party, the presumptive frontrunner for the presidential nomination did not think twice about kicking off his campaign with a fundraiser hosted by the founder of a union-busting law firm, days before appearing at a major union-hosted rally. And why should he? He gets the money, and then he gets the union support. He knows his audience well. This is how Democratic politics has been done in Joe Biden’s lifetime. This is how it works.

Carol Anderson: Trump’s regime is leading America in an insurrection

Trump’s regime has ignited the base by conjuring up a vision of whiteness imperiled by ‘illegals’, ‘black identity extremists’ and Muslim terrorists

n Friday, Donald Trump praised Robert E Lee. Slaveholder. Sadist. Traitor. Loser. It was his way of offering another “attaboy” to the neo-Nazis that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, even after they killed Heather Heyer, beat an African American man, and chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

Trump’s statement was a clear nod to his base. That would be the same base that sent pipe bombs to the Clintons, Obamas, congressional Democrats and CNN. The same base that gunned down African Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky after failing to gain entrance to a black church. The same base that killed Jews while in Pittsburgh and then followed up with another slaughter in Poway, California. The same base that burned down three black churches in Louisiana and the storied civil rights center, the Highlander Folk School. The same base that had a hitlist of Democrats, including Representative Maxine Waters, and an arsenal of weapons to do the job. The same base that pretends to be border patrol as it kidnaps and cages human beings and defies law enforcement to do anything about it. The same base that invaded a bookstore in a tony section of Washington DC to intimidate an author who was laying out the pathology that places whiteness above everything else, even living.

America is in the middle of an insurrection. Led this time by another rogue government, only this one is not ensconced in Montgomery or Richmond. The architects of rebellion are in the White House. While they have ignited the base by conjuring up a vision of whiteness imperiled by “illegals” crashing the US/Mexico border, “black identity extremists” gunning for the police, and terrorists who, apparently, can only be Muslim, they haven’t stopped there.

Nicole Hemmer: Charlottesville wasn’t about Robert E. Lee, Mr. President. It was about racism

After former Vice President Joe Biden used the violence in Charlottesville to frame his presidential campaign launch on Thursday, President Trump shot back, defending his controversial claim that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the white-supremacist rally that ended with the death of Heather Heyer and a helicopter crash that killed two police officers.

“I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee,” Trump said in answer to a reporter’s question on Friday. “People there were protesting the taking down of the monument to Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.”

Trump’s decision to double-down on his “very fine people” comments, more than a year and a half after the deadly Unite the Right rally, was particularly shocking — because of everything that has happened since. Investigations have made clear that the rallygoers engaged in coordinated acts of political violence, including the torchlight rally on August 11, 2017, in which they chanted “Jews will not replace us” before attacking anti-racist demonstrators on the grounds of the University of Virginia. And subsequent massacres in the United States and abroad have shown how deadly their ideology continues to be.