Sep 24 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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Gil Cisneros, Jason Crow, Chrissy Houlahan, Elaine Luria, Mikie Sherrill, Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger: Seven freshman Democrats: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect

Our lives have been defined by national service. We are not career politicians. We are veterans of the military and of the nation’s defense and intelligence agencies. Our service is rooted in the defense of our country on the front lines of national security.

We have devoted our lives to the service and security of our country, and throughout our careers, we have sworn oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States many times over. Now, we join as a unified group to uphold that oath as we enter uncharted waters and face unprecedented allegations against President Trump.

The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it. He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain. These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent. We also know that on Sept. 9, the inspector general for the intelligence community notified Congress of a “credible” and “urgent” whistleblower complaint related to national security and potentially involving these allegations. Despite federal law requiring the disclosure of this complaint to Congress, the administration has blocked its release to Congress.

This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand. To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election.

Paul Krugman: Republicans Only Pretend to Be Patriots

And Democrats need to expose them for what they are.

Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners.

And Barack Obama faced constant, scurrilous accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers. Remember the “apology tour,” or the assertions that he had bowed to overseas leaders?

But now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance — we don’t know, for example, how much his policies have been shaped by the money foreign governments have been lavishing on his businesses. But even what we do know — his admitted solicitation of foreign help in digging up dirt on political rivals, his praise for brutal autocrats — would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had done it.

Yet almost all G.O.P. politicians seem perfectly fine with Trump’s behavior. Which means that it’s time to call Republican superpatriotism what it was long before Trump appeared on the scene: a fraud.

Michelle Goldberg: Nancy Pelosi’s Failure to Launch

The House speaker’s hesitation on impeachment empowers a lawless president.

Elizabeth Warren on Friday evening sent out a series of tweets that, in addition to calling out Donald Trump for his criminality, rebuked Congress for enabling him. “After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment,” wrote Warren. “By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in U.S. elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.”

Warren was not impolitic enough to refer directly to the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, but the implicit criticism was clear. It was also well deserved. Pelosi’s calculated timidity on impeachment is emboldening Trump, demoralizing progressives, and failing the country.

The House speaker is a master legislator, and by all accounts incomparable at corralling votes. But right now, Democrats need a brawler willing to use every tool at her disposal to stop America’s descent into autocracy, and Pelosi has so far refused to rise to the occasion. As Representative Jared Huffman tweeted, “We are verging on tragic fecklessness.”

Part of Pelosi’s rationale for not impeaching after the release of the Mueller report was that such a move didn’t have majority support in the country or bipartisan support in Congress. Her allies worried that were Trump to be impeached in the House but not convicted in the Senate, he could emerge stronger than ever. Many Democrats in swing districts wanted to steer clear.

These were reasonable concerns, but inaction signaled to Trump that he would face no consequences for obstructing justice or for seeking a foreign power’s help in undermining a political opponent.

Catherine Rampell: Trump isn’t the only person responsible for the demise of American democracy

R.I.P. American democracy. You still had so much left to give! Whom should we blame for your untimely demise?

Understandably, many believe the coldhearted killer was President Trump. He has after all solicited foreign help to aid himin takingout a political rival — twice. He continues to accept payments from other foreign leaders and well-heeled business executives, who patronize his properties in clear hopes of influencing U.S. policy. He has refused to disclose his tax returns, necessary to determine whether the executive branch is working in his interest or the country’s. He has sought to punish perceived political enemies, minorities and other groups that dare cross him.

And so on. But is Trump truly the guilty party?

In my view, he’s the wrong, or at least an incomplete, answer to this particular whodunit.

Had the perpetrator been Individual 1 — and only Individual 1 — our dearly departed victim might still be alive, if perhaps wounded. The real answer is more of a Murder-on-the-Orient-Express-type conclusion: We all did it.

Unindicted co-conspirators in this heartless murder include Republican lawmakers. They have been led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who tolerated massacres of civil rights, of rule of law and of other democratic values and institutions, so long as the party got its federal judges or tax cuts.

They got lots of help from their colleagues. Even when those colleagues were on record as disapproving of the exact kinds of anti-democratic actions Trump acknowledges taking.

Joshua Leifer: The Trump administration’s crackdown on campus criticism of Israel is Orwellian

Trump’s department of education is using the threat of defunding to achieve its political goals – to great effect

If you criticize Israeli policy, you will lose your federal funding. That is the message the Department of Education is sending with its threat to withdraw federal support for the Consortium for Middle East Studies, operated jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, if it does not alter the content of its programming.

Just three months after Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, ordered an investigation into a conference about the politics of the Gaza Strip that the consortium had sponsored – an authoritarian threat, in and of itself – the Department of Education issued a letter demanding that the Duke-UNC consortium remake its curriculum. Or else.

The Department of Education’s letter, published last Tuesday, charged that the Duke-UNC program was failing to meet its federal mandate – by focusing too much on cultural studies and topics like “Love and Desire in Modern Iran” and not enough on “advancing the security and economic stability of the United States”. In other words, it seems the program was teaching its students about the complex and varied cultures of countries in the Middle East instead of how to dominate them.