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May 20 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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Jill Wine-Banks: The Balance Has Shifted: The Data on Impeachment Favor Moving Ahead

Sidney Blumenthal’s opinion piece in Just Security has rightly provoked a lively conversation about the impeachability of President Donald Trump. More importantly, it solves the political conundrum at the center of the debate about how to balance the potential political impact of impeachment on the 2020 election with the moral and constitutional obligations of Congress to hold this president accountable in the face of the corruption and wrongdoing reported in the Mueller Report and the nightly news.

As one of the Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutors, I have first-hand knowledge of the evidence that proved President Richard Nixon’s guilt of obstruction of justice as set forth in articles of impeachment. I helped draft the Road Map that the House Judiciary Committee used to build its impeachment case against Nixon. I also closely observed my mentor at the Department of Justice, Chuck Ruff, who served as White House Counsel during the Clinton impeachment. Now, as an MSNBC Legal Analyst, I have had a front row seat to the mounting case against President Trump. For these reasons, I want to share my thinking and conclusions on this critical topic.

In my opinion, Blumenthal’s piece changes the balance to favor Congress acting now. His data decimate the major impediment to holding Trump accountable – the fear that this president would be strengthened by a House vote for impeachment with no conviction by the Senate. Contrary to popular belief, Blumenthal lays out a clear case that President Clinton did not benefit from impeachment and that comparisons to Clinton are highly misplaced. Clinton was at 66% approval before and after impeachment. Impeachment neither improved nor diminished his standing. He was popular before impeachment and just as popular afterward, whereas Trump’s approval ratings are at a stunningly low 39 percent and dropping. Indeed, Trump has never achieved even a 50% approval. This means that fears of holding Trump accountable via an impeachment inquiry are unfounded, leaving just the question of whether the evidence supports proceeding. The answer to that is a resounding, almost deafening, yes.

Robert Reich: The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won’t fool voters

he award for this year’s Biggest Backhanded Compliment to Trump goes to White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who recently predicted a Trump victory in 2020 because “people will vote for somebody they don’t like if they think it’s good for them”.

Trump is the least popular president to run for re-election in the history of polling but Mulvaney thinks Americans will vote for him anyway because unemployment has hit a 50-year low, wages are rising and economic growth exceeds 3%. A CNN poll released in early May shows 56% of Americans approve Trump’s handling of the economy. [..]

It is possible, of course, that the economy will take a dive before election day, especially in light of Trump’s trade wars and the global economic slowdown. But it’s more likely that the recovery that began in 2009 will continue, even though Trump isn’t responsible for it.

Yet there’s a difference between how Americans view the overall economy and how they see their own personal economy. That difference has widened in recent years as more people get into financial trouble even as the economy soars.

Which means the official economic statistics have less relevance to what people tell each other over the kitchen table when they’re trying to pay the bills.

And it’s this kitchen-table economics – not the official statistics – that drives votes.

Charles M. Blow : An Ode to ‘Desperate Don’

Trump’s lies reveal an emboldened but vulnerable president.

Donald Trump lies all the time. We know that. Some of us are incensed and disgusted by this. Others have been worn out by it. But, few even attempt to deny or excuse it anymore. It has simply become a recognized feature of the man and a predicament for the country.

Last month, The Washington Post’s fact-checker column announced that Trump had reached the ignominious marker of having told more than 10,000 false and misleading claims as president. And, the pace has quickened from the early periods of his presidency, in what The Post called a “tsunami of untruths.”

Trump lies about everything and for every reason. He lies to brag. He lies to deflect. He lies to inflate. He lies to defame. He lies to praise. He sometimes seems to lie just for the sport of it. [..]

But, to me, it is when Trump lies out of desperation, out of the fear of being found out, blamed, reprimanded, possibly even abandoned, that most people can relish it. It is in those moments that Trump is most human and our ire toward this liar is most vindicated and validated.

Jill Filipovic: Alabama’s abortion ban shows the chilling effect of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment

The goal of anti-abortion campaigners is to overturn Roe v Wade. With today’s radical, activist, rightwing supreme court, they may succeed

There is a war on American women.

On Tuesday night, Alabama voted to outlaw abortion entirely. Doctors who perform the procedure could go to prison for 99 years, simply for providing healthcare that one in four American women obtains at some point in her life. The law offers no exception for rape or incest victims because, as the Republican lawmaker Clyde Chambliss said, “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life.”

This is today’s “pro-life” movement: arguing that pre-teen girls who are raped and impregnated by their fathers must be legally forced to have a baby, because God wanted it that way.

Max Boot: Trump dishonors the military he claims to love

In 2016, President Trump ran on a war crimes platform. He vowed: “I would bring back waterboarding. And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” (Japanese soldiers were convicted after World War II in a war crimes tribunal for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners.) He also promised to “take out” the families of terrorists and approvingly recounted a false story about Gen. John J. Pershing executing 49 Muslim rebels in the Philippines, employing bullets dipped in pig fat.

These blood-curdling threats from an armchair general who skipped out on the Vietnam War were very much at odds with the ethos of Trump’s first secretary of defense, retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, who had exhorted his Marines at the start of the Iraq War: “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. … Carry out your mission and keep your honor clean.” Mattis dissuaded Trump from issuing an unlawful order to torture terrorists, Trump said, by telling him: “I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.”

But this turned out to be only a temporary reprieve. Just as no amount of evidence can convince Trump that other countries don’t pay tariffs (American consumers do), so no amount of evidence can convince him that brutalizing prisoners and civilians is not a good idea. He said in 2017 that he was still “absolutely” an advocate of waterboarding but was deferring to Mattis.

Well, Mattis isn’t around anymore. He has been replaced by the ineffectual acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, who has no military experience and no standing to challenge Trump. And so Trump is back to praising war crimes.