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Oct 11 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: Luckily, Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius

His mental deficiencies may save American democracy.

The surprising thing about the constitutional crisis we’re now facing is that it took so long to happen. It was obvious from early on that the president of the United States is a would-be autocrat who accepts no limits on his power and considers criticism a form of treason, and he is backed by a party that has denied the legitimacy of its opposition for many years. Something like this moment was inevitable.

What still hangs in the balance is the outcome. And if democracy survives — which is by no means certain — it will largely be thanks to one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.

I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.

He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.

17 former Watergate special prosecutors: We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached.

We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.

The ultimate judgment on whether to impeach the president is for members of the House of Representatives to make. The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.

In reaching these conclusions, we take note of 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4) the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

Eugene Robinson: Impeaching Trump may be unlikely — but it’s far from impossible

How much more of this can we take?

That is the question Congress must now confront. How much more of the Trump administration’s lawlessness, incompetence and corruption must the nation endure? If President Trump serves the full 15 months that remain in his term of office, how bad will the damage be? For the good of the country and the world, is it imperative that Trump be removed as quickly as possible?

These queries may all seem moot, given the political arithmetic of the Senate. But a few months ago, you should recall, impeachment by the House seemed impossible; now, it looks inevitable. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was never going to head down that road unless Trump did something so outrageous and transgressive as to force her hand. He did just that.

So yes, it seems inconceivable that 20 Republican senators would ever vote to remove a president who could, and would, do everything in his considerable power to destroy their political careers. But if there is one thing we have learned in the four years since Trump descended the escalator and announced his candidacy, “impossible” things do indeed happen.

Catherine RampellThe deficit has gotten worse. This shouldn’t be a surprise

The GOP’s fiscal hawks have finally flown the coop.

This week, the Congressional Budget Office released its latest estimate for the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended. Lo and behold, the deficit likely reached nearly $1 trillion — $984 billion, to be precise. Final numbers are due from the Treasury Department any day now.

To put this in context: This was the largest annual deficit in both raw dollar terms and as a share of the economy since 2012, when we were still recovering from the aftermath of the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession. It was also a huge jump from where it was when President Trump first took office; the deficit is up by 26 percent since fiscal 2018 and a whopping 48 percent since 2017.

This is, needless to say, not what either Trump or others in his party told us to expect under Republican leadership. For years, the GOP cast itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, fighting tooth and nail against virtually any Obama-era expense even when the struggling economy desperately needed more fiscal stimulus.

Amanda Marcotte: Biden calls out New York Times for spreading Trump’s conspiracy theories

The “paper of record” is becoming the paper that treats unhinged right-wing conspiracy

Joe Biden and his presidential campaign have clearly been unsure how and whether to punch back against Donald Trump’s meritless conspiracy theory about the former vice president and his son, Hunter. Trump is obviously trying to deflect attention from his own likely crimes, the House impeachment inquiry and his terrible poll numbers. Finally Biden has decided to address the issue directly.

On Wednesday, during campaign events in New Hampshire, Biden finally joined all the other major Democratic candidates in endorsing the impeachment inquiry into Trump. More important, in an uncharacteristic act of daring, Biden’s team called out the New York Times for elevating, laundering and promoting Trump’s preferred conspiracy theories.

In a letter to Times editor Dean Baquet, Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield lambasted the newspaper for publishing an op-ed by right-wing hitman and Breitbart contributor Peter Schweizer, which was clearly meant to support Trump’s discredited allegations that Biden’s dealings in Ukraine were somehow corrupt. [..]

That Times article “is really the latest maneuver in the Republican strategy of shielding President Donald Trump from his own scandals by redirecting attention to his political opponents,” writes Eric Kleefeld of Media Matters. He also notes that Schweizer feigns outrage over private citizens such as Hunter Biden cashing in on his family name and political connections, but never mentions that the sitting president is actively running businesses around the world that are being used as money-laundromats for bribes from foreign leaders and business tycoons.