Sep 18 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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Paul Krugman: The Roots of Regulation Rage

A lot of it is about psychology, not profits.

Modern conservatives hate regulation, and the Trump administration has channeled that hatred into policy. It has scrapped or emasculated rules designed to limit everything from predatory lending to exploitative for-profit education, and has moved on multiple fronts to undo environmental protection. Yesterday it took perhaps its most dramatic anti-regulation step so far, announcing that it would try to prevent California from setting strict rules on auto emissions.

But what’s behind this hatred of regulation? You might think that it’s all about profits, that corporations want to be free to pollute and rip off their customers because it’s good for the bottom line. In fact, however, the striking thing about many of Donald Trump’s deregulatory moves is that major corporations actually oppose his actions. [..]

No, there’s something happening here that goes beyond big money trying to get even bigger. Trump, I’d argue, is tapping into a grass-roots phenomenon — let’s call it regulation rage — that is more about psychology than about self-interest. It’s a syndrome that only afflicts a minority of the population, but it’s real, it’s ugly, and it can do a remarkable amount of damage.

What do I mean by regulation rage? It’s the startling anger evoked by government rules intended to protect the public, even when those rules aren’t especially onerous and the public interest case for the rules is overwhelming.

Amanda Marcotte: Fighting Trump on corruption is a winning strategy — but Democrats must lean into it

Painting Donald Trump as a criminal should be an easy win. Why are Democrats still fumbling around in the dark?

By any fair legal reckoning, the House Judiciary testimony of Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s unofficial aide and all-purpose jackass, was a disaster for Trump. As Salon’s Heather Digby Parton noted, despite Lewandowski’s theatrical performance, the actual substance of his testimony was damning. He admitted under oath that Trump had committed what would clearly be a prosecutable crime — if Trump weren’t protected by his office — that being obstruction of justice. Lewandowski then admitted to trying to get another aide, Rick Dearborn, to do the obstruction on the president’s behalf.

Yet, for some reason, it feels like this critical information — further proof that Trump is a criminal who is exploiting his office to commit more crimes — won’t break through to the general public who needs to hear about it. And frankly, the Democrats are to blame.

On Wednesday morning, Lewandowski’s testimony was not “above the fold” on the front page of either the Washington Post or the New York Times, which is where you might expect to find a story  about a former White House aide telling Congress about the president doing crimes. CNN had the story on its main website, but with headlines about how “absurd” the hearing was and not, you know, about how Lewandowski admitted that he played along as Trump repeatedly instructed him to commit crimes.

CNN’s analysis is, sadly, correct: The reason this isn’t getting more coverage is that Democrats are failing to deliver a clean, simple narrative of Trump’s corruption.

Dahlia Lithwick: Corey Lewandowski’s Self-Immolation

The former Trump campaign manager’s disastrous performance shows that impeachment hearings work.

The most striking moment of Corey Lewandowski’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday came near the end of a long day, when the former Trump campaign manager was surprisingly open in revealing his disdain for the truth. For much of the testimony, Lewandowski alternated between filibustering by slow reading the Mueller report and filibustering by saying he was under White House orders to be silent. He clearly delighted in stymying House Democrats, even as he used the hearing to tease his potential run for Senate in New Hampshire. (During a break, Lewandowski tweeted out a link to the website for a brand new super PAC, “Stand With Corey.”)

At the end, though, came a few key moments when Lewandowski was made to all but openly confess his own lies. This critical portion of the hearing was a disaster for Lewandowski and showed why Democrats should be champing at the bit to hold more hearings like this one, rather than fulminating and hand-wringing over whether they are even taking part in an impeachment inquiry. Lewandowski’s confession should, at minimum, preclude him from ever being booked on a television news program again and in a sane world would instantly doom his nascent Senate run.

Jennifer Rubin: It was chaos, and then a real lawyer showed up

Corey Lewandowski sneered and dodged and raised phony privileges when questioned by members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He did, however, make a fatal error (fatal to President Trump, that is) when he repeatedly said the White House had instructed him not to answer questions.

After the hearing, Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN: “Article 3 of Nixon’s impeachment was obstruction of Congress, refusing to obey defined congressional subpoenas, pleading imaginary privileges. And obviously that’s what the president has been doing.” In short, Lewandowski’s own conduct provided evidence of obstruction.

The real excitement came, however, after the media decided it was all chaos and Democrats had accomplished nothing. Democrats’ counsel Barry Berke got 30 minutes to question Lewandowski and made the most of it. [..]

In short, Berke made perfectly clear that Lewandowski’s actions (refusing to deliver Trump’s instructions, demanding immunity, lying on TV, creating no record) demonstrated he knew he was being asked to do something wrong or illegal.

Bill McKibben: If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil

The climate crisis isn’t the only reason to kick fossil fuels – the prospect of a war to protect Saudi crude reminds us of that

We are sadly accustomed by now to the idea that our reliance on oil and gas causes random but predictable outbreaks of flood, firestorm and drought. The weekend’s news from the Gulf is a grim reminder that depending on oil leads inevitably to war too.

Depending on how far back you want to stand, the possibility of war with Iran stems from a calculated decision by Tehran or its Houthi allies to use drones and missiles on Saudi installations, or on the infantile rage that drove President Trump to tear up a meticulously worked out and globally sponsored accord with Iran and to wreck its economy. But in either case, if you really take in the whole picture, the image is rendered in crude, black tones: were it not for oil, none of this would be happening.

Were it not for oil, the Middle East would not be awash in expensive weapons; its political passions would matter no more to the world than those of any other corner of our Earth. Were it not for oil, we would not be beholden to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – indeed, we might be able to bring ourselves to forthrightly condemn its savagery. Were it not for oil, we would never have involved ourselves in a ruinous war with Iraq, destabilising an entire region. (I remember the biting slogan on a sign from an early protest against the war with Saddam Hussein: “How did our oil end up under their sand?”)