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May 31 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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Eugene Robinson: If Trump doesn’t warrant impeachment, who does?

What would a president have to do, hypothetically, to get this Congress to impeach him?

Obstruct a Justice Department investigation, perhaps? No, apparently that’s not enough. What about playing footsie with a hostile foreign power? Abusing his office to settle personal grievances? Using instruments of the state, including the justice system, to attack his perceived political opponents? Aligning the nation with murderous foreign dictators while forsaking democracy and human rights? Violating campaign-finance laws with disguised hush-money payments to alleged paramours? Giving aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white supremacists? Defying requests and subpoenas from congressional committees charged with oversight? Refusing to protect our electoral system from malign foreign interference? Cruelly ripping young children away from their asylum-seeking parents? Lying constantly and shamelessly to the American people, to the point where not a single word he says or writes can be believed?

President Trump has done all of this and more. If he doesn’t warrant the opening of an impeachment inquiry, what president ever would?

Donna Edwards: Democrats need to repackage the Mueller report for TV

With few exceptions, I prefer reading the book to seeing the movie, but most people remember images, voices and dialogue — “You can’t handle the truth” (“A Few Good Men”), “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (“Jaws”) — better than the written word. Which is a reminder that the Mueller report is made for the screen. And at the moment, Democrats seem to be forgetting the power of live television. More people will grasp the import of the special counsel’s work if they see sworn witnesses answering questions on their screens than if they try to digest 448 pages of fairly dense legal analysis.

Even Robert S. Mueller III’s nine-minute statement Wednesday underscored this. If his office “had had the confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime,” he said, “we would have said so.” With his Marine bearing, prosecutorial voice and measured words, Mueller ended his chapter as special counsel but highlighted the systematic Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the challenges of proving a criminal conspiracy and his inability to charge the president with obstruction because of a Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president. This was Mueller’s silver platter, and he handed it to Congress.

It’s time for Democratic leaders to repackage Mueller’s findings in a form that will be more readily digested by the American people. Unfortunately, the current approach of investigations in no fewer than six committees, multiple subpoenas, innumerable court proceedings and White House delay tactics just creates more confusion. How can the United States focus on the findings if a Democratic House will not singularly focus its investigations? From the cheap seats, it appears that there may be too many balls in the air.

Catherine Rampell: We love to hate the government. Then along come measles.

Americans love, love, love to hate on government, for all its foibles and failures.

But we conveniently forget that good government has also solved, curtailed or prevented a lot of problems over the years, including epidemics, economic ills and environmental crises. When government works, it becomes largely invisible, taken for granted, wiping out both crises and the traumatic memories of those crises. Bad government we remember and loathe and curse to our children; but good government is often a victim of its own success, the cure so effective that we forget how horrifying the ailment it eradicated was.

That has been quite literally true when it comes to public-health crises once thought consigned to history, such as the current measles outbreak.

Nearly two decades ago, measles was declared eliminated from the United States. This achievement was due to good science, yes. (Researchers developed a vaccine in the 1960s.) But we can also credit good government policy, as jurisdictions around the country began subsidizing and ultimately mandating childhood immunization.

More recently, this highly contagious and potentially fatal disease has returned, ravaging communities around the country. Since January alone, 940 individual cases of measles have been confirmed across 26 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The far right’s response to this outbreak, bizarrely, has been an outcry for government to . . . butt out.

Alyssa Rosenberg: The myth of the woke corporation

I suppose I ought to be grateful that entertainment titans such as Walt Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger and Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, are making it clear that Georgia’s restrictive new abortion law could be bad for the state’s up-and-coming film industry. Iger said Disney would be unlikely to keep filming in the state if the law went into effect, because “many people who work for us will not want to work there.” Sarandos went a step further and said Netflix would join the legal efforts to block the law.

Still this latest counterattack in the culture wars makes me feel more cautious than celebratory. Watching some of the biggest players in Hollywood issue mild statements that hint at commitments they may not have to fulfill for years, if ever, is a reminder of just how low we’ve set the bar for what constitutes meaningfully ethical behavior by corporations.

From ethically sourced diamond engagement rings to nationwide Starbucks closures for diversity training, companies have never seen greater opportunities for profit — or at least, a greater need for political damage control. But the dream of a corporation so politically pristine that it can turn our consumption decisions into ethical acts is a myth, or worse, a diversion. In the entertainment field, we can celebrate “Black Panther,” “Captain Marvel” or Netflix’s big deals with black, female and gay artists all we want. But those of us who look to giant corporations to be political allies are setting ourselves up for disappointment. They are merely in the fight to monetize our political enthusiasms.

Richard Wolff: Mueller stopped short of calling Trump a criminal, but did we need him to?

The denial from Mueller’s office that the special counsel drew up an indictment on three counts obstruction of justice is problematic and entirely predictable

Did Donald Trump repeatedly break the law by trying to block multiple investigations into his mysteriously intimate relationship with Russia?

The answer is rather similar to questions about the pope’s Catholicism and the propensity of bears to poop in the woods.

It’s not the one you’ll find hanging from a presidential lectern, screaming about NO obstruction and NO collusion.

But it is the one you’ll find in a rather long report by a certain special counsel, counting the many ways in which the president of the United States obstructed justice. To be precise, there were at least 10 instances of obstruction detailed in Robert Mueller’s magnum opus.

In the immortal words of Spandau Ballet, Mueller found it so hard to write the next line. Even though he knows this much is true: any non-president would have long ago faced indictment for obstruction of justice.

Mueller himself again stopped one inch short of saying “Trump is a criminal” in his rare comments to the press on Wednesday: “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Instead, Mueller decided he was not the right person to decide to do the right thing.