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May 13 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: There are many reasons not to impeach Trump. The House should do it anyway

It’s important to uphold the constitution through impeachment – even if it goes nowhere, even if it’s unpopular with many voters, even if it’s politically risky

Every child in America is supposed to learn about the constitution’s basic principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances.

But, these days, every child and every adult in America is learning from Donald Trump that these principles are bunk. [..]

The core purpose of the US constitution is to prevent tyranny. That’s why the framers of the constitution distributed power among the president, Congress and the judiciary. That’s why each of the three branches was designed to limit the powers of the other two.

In other words, the framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.

The framers also put in mechanisms to enforce the constitution against a president who tries to usurp the powers of the other branches of government. Article I Section 2 gives the House of Representatives the “sole power of impeachment”. Article I Section 3, gives the Senate the “sole power to try all impeachments”.

Donald Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the other branches. Under these circumstances, the constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate.

This may not be the practical political thing to do. But it is the right thing to do.

Charles M. Blow: An Imperial Presidency?

President Trump’s free rein from political norms puts the United States at risk.

We watch daily as the constitutional and conventional fabric of this country is clawed at and unraveled by Donald Trump, while those with any power to prevent or punish his actions are suspended in a state of listlessness, making political calculations rather than performing constitutional duty.

We are drifting dangerously close to an imperial presidency that exists above and outside the rules we thought were designed to prevent such an occurrence.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Trump broke the law by obstructing justice, as he sought to end investigations into him, his campaign and his administration. The Mueller report makes that abundantly clear. Special Counsel Robert Mueller refused to state declaratively that Trump committed a crime because of Department of Justice guidelines issued by the Office of Legal Counsel that are against indicting a sitting president.

However, as the Mueller report made clear, “A President does not have immunity after he leaves office.” [..]

That leaves the option of action up to Congress, the only avenue left by which a sitting president can be punished. That punishment is impeachment.

Jamelle Bouie: What Democrats Can Learn About Impeachment From the Civil War

Lesson One: Don’t let Trump take the initiative.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump was becoming “self-impeachable” and she’s right: The president keeps breaking laws and rejecting constitutional limits on his power. There is the Mueller report, of course, which spells out his multiple attempts to obstruct justice. There are his repeated efforts to criminalize his political opponents — first Hillary Clinton, now Joe Biden — by inducing official federal investigations. [..]

Impeachment is so rare in American history that it’s difficult to draw broad conclusions about its political impact, but congressional investigations are common and there’s no evidence of this backlash effect. The belief that says otherwise suggests a risk aversion that may prove counterproductive.

I have been revisiting a few popular histories of the Civil War, both for personal interest and future work. It’s almost impossible to count all of the connections to make between that period, Reconstruction and present-day political life. But there’s one event, or series of events, that stands out as a potentially useful analogy for thinking about the Democratic Party’s decision-making as it prepares, again, to face Trump in a presidential election.

Bill McKibben: Joe Biden is stuck in the past when it comes to climate change

Biden thinks fracked gas is an acceptable way to reduce emissions. He is too stuck in the past to be a credible standard-bearer for the Democratic party.

One of the first real debates of the Democratic primary broke out on Friday – and in both timing and substance it raised anew the half-suppressed doubts about whether frontrunner Joe Biden is too stuck in the past to be a credible standard-bearer.

A Reuters story Friday morning said that Biden’s energy policy team was looking for what the reporter called a “middle ground” on climate change, and in particular that it planned to rely on expanding the use of fracked natural gas as a way to reduce emissions. This is, to put it plainly, a return to the all-of-the-above energy strategy that marked the Obama years, and a terrible idea.

As is now entirely clear, increasing fracking increases the flow of methane to the atmosphere, and since methane is a potent greenhouse gas it drives up the rate of global warming. In the early days of the Obama years, when we knew far less about the chemistry of methane, it was a perhaps-defensible plan; in 2019 it’s embarrassing, the equivalent of idling your muscle car outside the Earth Day picnic. There is no “middle ground” on climate change—there’s only meeting the demands of physics and chemistry (and justice), or watching the temperature soar.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s two worst economic ideas collide

At 12:01 a.m. Friday, President Trump’s two worst economic ideas finally collided — and made each other even worse.

To be sure, there are a lot of terrible economic theories espoused by this president (tax cuts pay for themselves, government shutdowns are fun, scam artists should roam free, etc.). But the specific bad ideas I’m referring to are:

  1. Trade wars are good and easy to win; and
  2. It’s smart for the president to publicly bash the Federal Reserve. [..]

Two separate studies by separate teams of all-star economists have found that 100 percent of the tariffs Trump has imposed so far are being passed along to, and paid by, U.S. consumers. One of those studies also found that workers in heavily Republican counties were being hurt the most by Trump’s trade wars, thanks to both the tariffs the president has imposed on our imports and the tit-for-tat retaliation other countries have slapped on our exports.

In other words, Trump’s Fed war has worsened his trade war. And in a particularly painful twist, the trade war might also soon heighten his Fed war.