May 08 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: Trump Is Achieving His Primary Goal: Division

But don’t be fooled, the president’s divide-and-conquer strategy has disguised his efforts to reward his wealthy donors and funnel more wealth and power to those at the top

Donald Trump’s goal is, and has always been, division and disunion. It’s how he keeps himself the center of attention, fuels his base and ensures that no matter what facts are revealed, his followers will stick by him.

But there’s another reason Trump aims to divide—and why he pours salt into the nation’s deepest wounds over ethnicity, immigration, race and gender.

He wants to distract attention from the biggest and most threatening divide of all: the widening imbalance of wealth and power between the vast majority, who have little or none, and a tiny minority at the top who are accumulating just about all.

“Divide and conquer” is one of the oldest strategies in the demagogic playbook: keep the public angry at each other so they don’t unite against those who are running off with the goods.

Jennifer Rubin: ‘Self-impeachable’ is exactly right

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hit the nail on the head in an interview with The Post’s Robert Costa on Wednesday morning. “The point is that every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction — obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas … every single day, the president is making a case — he’s becoming self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things that he is doing,” she said.

Instructing witnesses not to appear, raising bogus privilege claims, blocking a legally required delivery of his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee chairman — President Trump seems eager to duplicate the conduct that was the basis for Article 3 of the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon.

As Pelosi was making her observation, Trump upped the ante, issuing a bogus declaration of executive privilege over the full Mueller report in advance of the House Judiciary Committee’s vote on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt. [..]

For a report that is supposed to entirely exonerate Trump, he and his minions are going to extreme lengths to conceal its complete contents, to prevent the attorney general from testifying and even to try to keep Mueller from testifying. If he did not obstruct justice before, he certainly is obstructing Congress now. The House should exercise all of its powers to end Trump’s autocratic spasm. Our democracy is at stake.

Jonathan Freedland: Trump’s antics over Iran have endangered us all. The stakes are now lethally high

In withdrawing from the nuclear deal, the US – not the vile Iranian regime – is the rogue state risking global security

Such is the carnival of the Trump presidency, it can be tempting – especially for those outside the US – to view it as spectacle, a long-running reality TV show that veers between The Apprentice and House of Cards. But every now and then comes a reminder that, for all the cartoonish absurdity of the central character, the Trump administration is all too real, that its actions matter and that the stakes are lethally high.

A fresh and urgent reminder of that has come today with Iran’s declaration that it will no longer fully comply with the nuclear deal it reached with the US and Europe in 2015, by which Tehran agreed to a 15-year pause on its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions. In a televised address this morning – exactly one year after Trump withdrew the United States from the deal – Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, announced a series of moves that would inch the country closer to acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weapons, moves that would only be averted if Europe defied Trump and allowed Iran once again to sell its oil and have access to the international banking system. For the most severe of these steps, Rouhani gave the Europeans 60 days to make up their minds: either resume trade or watch Tehran resume its nuclear efforts.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Trump promised restraint but has delivered more calamitous intervention

The lie of “promises made, promises kept,” a favorite phrase in President Trump’s stump speech for reelection, is perhaps most apparent in his foreign misadventures. The candidate who scorned “regime change,” and promised to end the policy of “intervention and chaos,” is sowing chaos and intervening from Yemen to Iran to Venezuela and beyond. Instead of wasting money on endless wars, Trump would rebuild America’s roads and bridges. The candidate who promised restraint has only delivered more calamitous intervention.

Last week, Trump vetoed the bipartisan joint resolution of Congress directing the president to withdraw U.S. support for the war in Yemen. This veto is a particularly execrable folly. The administration is continuing to support Saudi Arabia in its unconscionable savaging of that impoverished country, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Fourteen million Yemenis are facing war-induced starvation. A cholera epidemic has broken out. [..]

Trump apparently believes that a bellicose position on Venezuela can help him win Florida in 2020. His broken promises about opposing regime change and ending our endless wars should cost him far more. Americans have voted for candidates who promised restraint again and again since 2000. They are likely to keep doing that until they elect someone who will actually live up to that pledge.

Jim Hightower: Let’s Re-fund America

We must create a politics that directly confronts the narcissistic nabobs who’re knocking down our people and our country

The powerhouses of Wall Street have tunneled directly into the cloistered backrooms of Washington deal making, extracting trillions of dollars worth of government bailouts, special tax breaks and regulatory favors every year. Yet, in a stupefying act of hypocrisy, they have also been the major force pushing policymakers to embrace extreme laissez-faire bunkum and to inflict the most austere budgetary minginess on the American people.

Through their lobbyists, front groups, economic shills, media hacks and the politicians they’ve purchased, these pampered princes of high finance have gained a stranglehold on policy, choking off the public investment that our country desperately needs. In a nonstop drone, their operatives chant: “America is broke. Fiscal doom looms. Government spending is the cause. Austerity policies are our only hope.” [..]

If you review opinion polls, hear the results of door-to-door outreach campaigns, or just have a few real conversations at various chat-and-chew cafes, you’ll tap into ordinary people’s simmering anger at the Wall Street/Washington axis that’s dictating a harsh normal of economic inequality, declining opportunity and diminished democratic control. The elites are constantly monkey-wrenching the public’s ability to act together, thus limiting our nation’s possibilities and causing America’s present drift from world leader to mediocrity.