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Feb 17 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Sally Yates: Trump thinks the Justice Department is his personal grudge squad

The department is not a tool of any president to be used for retribution or camouflage.

The imperative of Justice Department independence from political influence has deep roots. After the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Griffin Bell sought to reestablish Justice’s independence and ensure that the department would be “recognized by all citizens as a neutral zone, in which neither favor nor pressure nor politics is permitted to influence the administration of the law.” The nation had lost faith in the Justice Department and the rule of law, so during the Carter administration Bell instituted strict limits on communications between the White House and Justice to prevent any “outside interference in reaching professional judgment on legal matters.”

Since Bell’s tenure, attorneys general in Democratic and Republican administrations alike have issued largely similar policies to adhere to the course Bell mapped for the department to live up to its promise of impartial justice. All have observed a “wall” between the White House and the Justice Department on criminal cases and investigations. While it is appropriate to communicate about administration policies and priorities, discussion with the White House about specific criminal cases has traditionally been off-limits. Presidents and department leaders from both parties have recognized that for case decisions to have legitimacy, they must be made without political influence — whether real or perceived. Implementation of these restrictions has not always been perfect, but the department’s independence has remained honored and unquestioned.

Until now.

George Conway: There is no one to stop Trump now

When the subject of Attorney General William P. Barr comes up these days, it’s hard not to think of John S. McCain. Not the late senator, mind you, but the USS John S. McCain, the naval destroyer named after his father and grandfather.

It was an incident involving this ship that, as much as anything else, captures how the Trump administration — and its attorney general — operates. It explains Barr’s intervention into the criminal sentencing of Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, felon Roger Stone, and much, much more.

The McCain was docked at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan in May 2019, when the 7th Fleet issued a directive that had originated from conversations with the White House Military Office. The president was coming to Yokosuka on Memorial Day, and so, accordingly: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.” So sailors were ordered to hang a tarp over the vessel’s name, and they removed any coverings that bore the words “John S. McCain.” [..]

Anticipating Trump’s narcissistic whims and desires in just this fashion remains the key to survival in his administration, and outside the White House proper, no one does it better than Barr. It’s thus entirely believable, as both Barr and Trump have said, that Trump never gave Barr any instruction about Stone’s case.

Max Boot: This is how democracy dies — in full view of a public that couldn’t care less

The French philosopher Montesquieu wrote in 1748: “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” We are seeing his warning vindicated. President Trump is increasingly acting as a tyrannical (and erratic) prince. And yet much of the public is so inured to his misconduct that his latest assaults on the rule of law are met with a collective shrug. Public passivity is Trump’s secret weapon as he pursues his authoritarian agenda. “I have the right to do whatever I want,” he says, and the lack of pushback seems to confirm it.

So much bad has happened since Trump was unjustly acquitted by the Senate of two articles of impeachment on Feb. 5 that it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Trump fired Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman for complying with a congressional subpoena and providing truthful testimony about Trump’s attempts to extort Ukraine into aiding him politically. Also ousted was Vindman’s brother, who did not testify. This sends a mob-like message: If you turn stool pigeon, your family gets it, too.

Charles M. Blow: Democrats, Don’t Wish for Your Own Rogue
Bloomberg’s record and misleading statements make him a dangerous choice.

It is truly a devastating sight to watch liberals who have winced for years at Donald Trump’s issues on wealth, race and women allow fear, propaganda and influence mercenaries to push them into supporting a man who has his own issues concerning wealth, women and race.

It is jaw-dropping to see people who have long centered morality and conviction as their guiding light willfully say that they are willing to forgo all that. How many of them relentlessly chastised the religious right for supporting Trump, who openly disregards many of their tenets? Some of these very same people are now willing to do exactly the same thing as Trump.

How many people rightly complaining about kids in cages at the border are simply willing to overlook all the kids Michael Bloomberg put in cages as a result of stop-and-frisk? How many people, who stormed Washington during the Women’s March, cheered #MeToo and recoiled in horror as Trump was accused by multiple women of sexual impropriety, are now willing to ignore the accusations against Bloomberg?

And, for what? It’s not as if Democrats don’t have viable candidates to choose from, none of whom even come close to the scale of Bloomberg’s transgressions.