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Sep 16 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 seriously, frighteningly unstable – the world is in danger

It is almost too late for impeachment. The 25th amendment is untested. The ballot box offers our only remaining hope

In retrospect, what’s most disturbing about “Sharpiegate” isn’t Trump’s clumsy effort to doctor a National Weather Service map or even his brazen move to get the same agency to lie on his behalf.

It’s how utterly petty his motive was. We’ve had presidents trying to cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such lengths to cover up an inaccurate weather forecast. Alabama being hit by a hurricane? Friends, this is not rational behavior.

Trump also cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting was to have been secret. It was scheduled for the week of the anniversary of 9/11. He cancelled it by tweet.

Does any of this strike you as even remotely rational? [..]

I wouldn’t completely rule out the 25th amendment, but the only thing that’s going to get Pence and a majority of Trump’s lieutenants to pull the plug before Trump pulls it on them may be so horrific that the damage done to America and the world would be way beyond anything we’ve experienced to date.

Which is to say, be careful what you wish for.

Pray that we make it through the next 14 months. Then do everything in your power to remove this man from office.

Charles M. Blow: Joe Biden Is Problematic

No amount of growth or good intentions will change this fact.

All five of these things are simultaneously true:

Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner and may well be the nominee.

He is by far the favorite candidate among black voters.

He was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, and the two men seem to have shared a deep and true friendship.

He, like the other Democratic candidates, would be a vast improvement over Donald Trump.

And, Biden’s positioning on racial issues has been problematic. [..]

It was the way he advocated for the 1994 crime bill, a bill that contributed to America’s surging mass incarceration, which disproportionately affected black and brown people in this country.

The bill did some good, but the harm it did cannot be overlooked or understated. Rather than fully owning up to to the disastrous aspects of the bill, Biden has over the years bragged about it and defended it.

It was in the way he described then-candidate Barack Obama in 2007 as an African-American who was “articulate and bright and clean.” Clean? As opposed to what?

This critique of Biden isn’t personal. I bear no ill will for the man. But, a fact is a fact, and no amount of growth, change or well-intentioned good-heartedness has the ability to erase it.

Paul Waldman: Can this president be trusted to prevent a spiral into war?

It sounds like the prologue of a cheap military/political thriller you’d find in an airport bookstore. A group of rebels in a war-torn Middle Eastern country launch a surprising drone attack on a neighboring country’s oil facility, leading to upheaval in world energy markets, which heightens tension between regional powers and threatens to pull the United States into a war with catastrophic consequences.

Fortunately, it couldn’t happen that way in real life because the president of the United States is a calm, reasoned, careful decision-maker who would never do something rash or impulsive. He and his national security team are united and focused, all working together to avoid unnecessary conflict, restore stability and make sure the interests of the United States are protected.

Just kidding — that’s a fictional version of the U.S. government. Our actual government is consumed by incompetence and riven by internal divisions, with the president himself the least rational and worst equipped of anyone to handle a foreign policy crisis. We’re left with only one hope to avoid the situation spinning out of control: that the president will once again talk tough for a while and then back down.

Harry Litman: A whistleblower filed a complaint to the intelligence IG. Why is it being withheld from Congress?

The developing drama involving a whistleblower complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community is particularly opaque, but we know some essential facts.

They reveal this episode to be of a piece with the White House’s governing principle of keeping any possibly derogatory information from view — lawlessly if necessary, as it is here, and often is.

On Aug. 12, consistent with the procedures established in the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, an unidentified whistleblower sent a disclosure and complaint to the inspector general for the intelligence community.

The inspector general determined upon preliminary review that the complaint was credible and that it related to a matter of “urgent concern” (a statutory classification). The inspector general then transmitted the disclosure to the director of national intelligence (DNI), as required by law.

On Aug. 12, consistent with the procedures established in the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, an unidentified whistleblower sent a disclosure and complaint to the inspector general for the intelligence community.

The inspector general determined upon preliminary review that the complaint was credible and that it related to a matter of “urgent concern” (a statutory classification). The inspector general then transmitted the disclosure to the director of national intelligence (DNI), as required by law.

But surprise. The DNI is refusing to do so. [..]

The administration’s contempt for clear legal mandates brings to mind Humpty Dumpty’s familiar insistence in “Through the Looking-Glass” that when he uses a word, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

We are less acquainted with the rest of Alice’s exchange, but it is even more on point:

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Simon Tisdall: The world ignored the warning signs – and now the Middle East is on the brink

Donald Trump’s hostility towards Iran and support for Saudi Arabia has made a delicate situation explosive

Like a furious maelstrom, roiled by opposing currents, the crisis in the Gulf gains in intensity and destructive power almost by the day. On Sunday, Donald Trump said the US was “locked and loaded”, ready to respond to attacks on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia, in which it believes Iran was involved. But warning bells, akin to those used to alert fog-bound mariners steering towards rocks, have been ringing out for months. They have mostly been ignored. The daunting bill for multiple acts of political insouciance, measured in lives and petrodollars, is now coming due.

It’s easy and convenient to solely blame Iran, as American and British officials routinely do without conclusive evidence. Rather, it is serial western and regional miscalculations that have drawn us ineluctably into this dread vortex.

How can disaster be averted? Who can stop a slide into a wider war that could swiftly engulf regional states from Israel to Saudi Arabia, and drag in US, British and maybe even Russian forces? Clues can be found in the mistakes that led to this point. Answers, if they exist, will only come through informed statesmanship of the sort signally lacking so far.