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Dec 13 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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Dahlia Lithwick: Two Small Articles of Impeachment Are Pathetic but Necessary

Democrats have taken one lesson from Mueller—don’t give Republicans too much to lie about.

Following the announcement of the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning, progressives raced to formalize their positions in the monthslong battle over whether it was best to go broad or narrow in laying out the case against Donald Trump. Richard Hasen makes the case for the narrow focus here. Fred Kaplan disagrees. Jamelle Bouie says the two articles are not enough. Kim Wehle says they’re plenty. Laurence Tribe insists it’s a false choice. The cases center, in various directions, on thoughtful, careful analysis of what the evidence shows; what the proper scope of Trump’s wrongdoing should be; what moderate Democrats in the House would tolerate; and the breakneck timetable House Democrats have set for themselves. There is also the distinct possibility that House Democrats made the decision to limit themselves to two articles because of the regretful realization that Americans, who wouldn’t read the 448-page Mueller report or the 300-page intelligence committee report on the Trump-Ukraine inquiry, might just read the 8½ pages that represent the articles of impeachment.

I would venture that perhaps there is an even simpler reason for the two, spare articles. I think that the narrow nature of the impeachment charges speaks to the disinformation effort Democrats rightly expected to have to counter and their hope not to engage in a fight about multiple realities across multiple issues over a lengthy time period. In other words, my guess is that in the wake of the White House efforts to distort and confuse the outcome of the Mueller report by lying about it (efforts that were largely successful; it’s still referred to, falsely, as a “hoax” by the GOP), Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Nancy Pelosi made the reasonable decision to engage as little as possible with Republican lying. It is not simply that the impeachment managers have to sell a clean, coherent story, both to the public and in the Senate trial; it’s also that they need to avoid as many entanglements with fantasies and distractions as possible. Going narrow helps with that.

Paul Krugman: The Party That Ruined the Planet

Republican climate denial is even scarier than Trumpism.

The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isn’t the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention.

No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

However, the scariest reporting I’ve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

Catastrophic sea-level rise, heat waves that make major population centers uninhabitable, and more are now looking more likely than not, and sooner rather than later.

But the terrifying political news and the terrifying climate news are closely related.

Caroline Fredrickson: Donald Trump Wanted Another Roy Cohn. He Got Bill Barr.

Even better.

President Trump famously asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Demanding a stand-in for his old personal lawyer and fixer, Mr. Trump has actually gotten something better with Bill Barr: a lawyer who like Cohn stops seemingly at nothing in his service to Mr. Trump and conveniently sits atop the nation’s Justice Department.

Mr. Barr has acted more like a henchman than the leader of an agency charged with exercising independent judgment. The disturbing message that sends does not end at our borders — it extends to countries, like those in the former East Bloc, struggling to overcome an illiberal turn in the direction of autocracy.

When Mr. Trump sought to have President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce an investigation of his political opponent, he likely expected a positive response. After all, politicized prosecutions had been part of Ukraine’s corrupt political culture for years.

On Monday, when Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, released a report that affirmed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was justified, Mr. Barr immediately turned on his own agency in defense of the president.

Kurt Bardella: House Republicans’ Trump impeachment strategy is simple: Distract, deceive and yell

GOP lawmakers have treated the hearings like Fox New segments, delivering loud, rambling monologues in a deliberate attempt to wear down participants and viewers.

If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.

The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump have been drafted and the process is now moving steadily towards a vote in the House. But GOP lawmakers, especially GOP men, aren’t going down quietly. Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

Indeed, in observing my former House GOP comrades over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.

Geoffrey Kabaservice: Republicans are turning impeachment into a carnival – and it could cost them

These antics may work as a short-term strategy. But they’ll go down poorly with voters the Republican party really needs

House Democrats announced this week that they would bring two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, making him only the fourth president in US history to face such charges. Democratic leaders characterized the occasion as solemn, somber and sad. Republicans, on the other hand, dismissed the impeachment inquiry as a circus and a sham despite the fact that they are themselves the ones trying to reduce it to carnivalesque farce. Even a motion to take a 15-minute bathroom break during this week’s judiciary committee hearings provoked hysterical Republican objections.

The Republican strategy, clearly, is to undermine and delegitimize the impeachment inquiry. Republicans are portraying the inquiry as a hoax and an attempted coup by Democrats desperate to reverse the results of the 2016 election, unrelated to any actual presidential wrongdoing. The White House’s refusal to cooperate with Congress by sending legal representation to the impeachment hearings was explained by Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway as resistance to “colluding with an illegitimate process”.

Why are Republicans taking this approach? Largely because they have no other choice, given the considerable weight of evidence that the president did in fact abuse his power and obstruct Congress, as charged in the impeachment articles.[..]

Republicans appear locked into their strategy of trying to dismiss impeachment as a partisan sham, despite the likelihood that this will make it harder to win back college-educated suburban swing voters. In hindsight, Republicans may come to feel that this play for short-term political advantage came at too high a cost.v