May 17 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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Charles P. Pierce: I No Longer Believe House Democrats Will Uphold Their Constitutional Duty

And, as a result, the president*’s chances of reelection are better than anyone thinks

As John Mitchell, realizing that he was busted, once said to Carl Bernstein:

“Good god.”

From CNBC, via the Washington Post:

Nadler, who would preside over impeachment proceedings in the House, also expressed frustration with Attorney General William P. Barr during the interview with CNBC, at one point calling him “just a liar” and alleging that Barr mischaracterized the special counsel’s findings on coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Nadler, whose committee is planning hearings with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and key witnesses in his investigation, was asked by CNBC’s John Harwood about the timing of any potential impeachment proceedings that might follow. Some Democrats have argued that Trump obstructed Mueller’s probe and should be held accountable.

“It depends on what comes out,” Nadler said. “It depends where the American people are, whether they want to go that way or not. I don’t want to make it sound as if we’re heading for impeachment. Probably we’re not.” After Harwood noted that he’s heard from other House Democrats who think impeachment proceedings will be launched eventually, Nadler said: “Maybe. It’s hard. I don’t know.”

Will the Democrats ever learn a) how to message and b) that the press, no matter what conservatives say, is not their friend?  [..]

For the first time, I find myself siding with those people who believe that, ultimately, the House will chicken out of its constitutional duty and, because of that, I find myself siding with people who believe that the president*’s re-election chances are better than anyone thinks.

Elizabeth Holtzman: The Nixon Impeachment—a Blueprint for Today

Too many Americans oppose impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, focusing on the failed impeachment against President Bill Clinton without fully considering the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. As a result, they claim impeachment is too divisive, that there are not sufficient votes in the Senate to convict, or that it would be bad for the Democrats in the next election.

But the impeachment process against Nixon worked—the only one involving an American president that ever did. The House Judiciary Committee’s vote for three Articles of Impeachment led within weeks to Nixon’s resignation. The committee’s evidence was solid and convincing, the proceedings fair and serious, and the vote bipartisan. (More than one-third of Republicans on the committee voted for impeachment—even before the “smoking gun” White House tape was released showing that Nixon personally orchestrated the cover-up.)

Americans supported the committee’s determination. Rather than dividing the country, the impeachment process brought it together—most Americans agreed that more important than any president or party were the rule of law and the Constitution. Nixon was permanently disgraced—and the committee’s work has never seriously been challenged. [..]

If impeachment proceedings commence, they need to be conducted fairly, and in a bipartisan manner to the fullest extent possible. During the Nixon impeachment, the Democratic majority picked a Republican as the Committee’s chief counsel, and the Republicans picked a Republican as their counsel. Our inquiry was guided by two Republicans, another fact helping to demonstrate that the process was fair. The Judiciary Committee chair understood that a partisan process would not be accepted by the American people.

What is at stake is protecting our democracy, which is why it is so important to look carefully at the Nixon impeachment process.

Michelle Goldberg: Post-Roe America Won’t Be Like Pre-Roe America. It Will Be Worse.

The new abortion bans are harsher than the old ones.

This week, Alabama’s governor signed legislation banning most abortions without exceptions for rape or incest, with sentences of up to 99 years in prison for abortion providers. It follows a measure that Georgia’s governor signed last week effectively banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and that is worded in a way that could lead to prosecutions of women who terminate their pregnancies after that point. Missouri’s Senate approved an eight-week abortion ban on Thursday, also without exceptions for rape or incest. It contains a trigger that will ban abortion outright if Roe v. Wade falls. A Louisiana six-week abortion ban is likely to be next.

You can see, in the anti-abortion movement, a mood of triumphant anticipation. Decades of right-wing politics have all led up to this moment, when an anti-abortion majority on the Supreme Court could end women’s constitutional protection against being forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth against their will.

An end to Roe isn’t guaranteed — some court watchers expect Chief Justice John Roberts to allow it to be whittled away rather than overturned. But activists on both sides of the abortion divide agree that the precedent has never been more vulnerable.

Leah Litman: The Supreme Court now has cover to cut back on reproductive rights without having to overturn ‘Roe’

Roe v. Wade may still be the law of the land, but states such as Georgia and Alabama are moving aggressively to change that. The draconian bills both states recently passed reveal the legal strategy at work here: Even if the court of appeals and Supreme Court do not let these highly restrictive laws stand, the states are giving the court cover to dramatically cut back on reproductive rights without having to explicitly overturn Roe.

Roe , which was decided in 1973, established the principle that a woman has a right to an abortion. The court has refined that principle over time; a woman now has a right to an abortion before her fetus could viably survive outside the womb. While medical advances have affected when viability occurs in pregnancy, the Georgia and Alabama laws leapfrogged science to ban abortion well before that point. [..]

The lawmakers who advanced and signed these bills have a two-pronged strategy. They are betting that the newly refashioned Supreme Court may be ready to overturn Roe, and that the song and dance about respecting precedent that Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch did for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was merely a performance. State lawmakers can also look to the 40 appeals court judges that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Trump have confirmed in just 2  1/2 years, a breakneck pace compared with the 55 appeals court judges President Barack Obama was able to get confirmed over eight years.

Eugene Robinson: With Trump calling the shots on Iran, we should be afraid

With a competent president in the White House, the escalating confrontation with Iran would not rise to the level of crisis. With President Trump calling the shots, we should be afraid. Very afraid.

A rational president, of course, would not have abandoned the landmark deal that halted Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. A reasonable president would not take provocative steps that seem designed to goad the Iranians into a military clash. A sensible president would study the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and learn the sobering lessons they teach.

Instead, we have Trump.

He campaigned on a promise to end unwinnable wars and bring the troops home, which may be what he truly wants to do. But this instinct is thwarted by the president’s insecure need to act like a swaggering bully on the world stage, pushing around our allies and punishing the adversaries he perceives as weak. [..]

Trump may believe his hard-line policies will force the Iranian government to capitulate and negotiate a new agreement encompassing not just nuclear technology but also Iran’s toxic influence in the region and its ballistic missile program. To me, however, it looks as if the administration is trying to provoke Iran into lashing out. If Trump doesn’t want a war, he needs to make that clear — not just to the Iranians but to Bolton and Pompeo as well.

The president is blowing the chance to lead an allied coalition in applying appropriate pressure to Iran, just as he is blowing the chance to orchestrate a multilateral stand on China’s unfair trade practices. We already have a trade war. I fear Trump may stumble into a real one.