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.
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Charles M. Blow: What Happens If …
I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?
There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference. [..]
But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed and absolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.
But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?
Robert Reich: Trump takes on General Motors (guess who wins?)
Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism.
Last week GM announced it would cut about 14,000 jobs in the politically vital swing states of Michigan and Ohio.
This doesn’t quite square with the giant $1.5tn tax cut Trump and the Republicans in Congress enacted last December. Its official rationale was to help big corporations make more investments in America and thereby create more jobs. Trump then told Ohio residents “don’t sell your homes”, because lost auto-making jobs “are all coming back”.
GM got a nice windfall from the tax cut. The company has already saved more than $150m this year, according to GM’s latest financial report. But many of those Ohio residents probably should have sold their homes.
Jill Abramson: The Mueller investigation is closing in on Trump
The rogues’ gallery exposed in Robert Mueller’s court filings last week make the Watergate burglars look positively classy.
Even veteran lawyers who were involved in the investigations of Richard Nixon say they’ve never seen this level of chicanery. Most importantly, last week’s events showed that Special Counsel Mueller is getting closer to exposing the scope and depth of it all. His most recent filings make clear that considerable evidence touches the president himself. [..]
Clownish though some of them seem, these men may hold some keys to Mueller’s investigation. And we have yet to hear from Michael Flynn, the Trump foreign policy adviser and short-lived national security adviser, who has also pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation and whose role in this muck is soon to be revealed in court. Though last week’s documents did not deal with the suspect meeting in Trump Tower during the campaign with a Russian lawyer claiming to have dirt on Clinton. Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr, were there and the meeting remains a subject of interest to Mueller.
What a tantalizing pile of clues. Surely, we will soon know where they lead.
The latest revelations in the Russia saga should refocus our attention on a critical period during the 2016 presidential campaign. I’m talking about the seven weeks or so that began in June 2016, when Donald Trump Jr. planned the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians, and ended in late July, with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
What we now know is this. During much of that period, the Trump Organization was secretly pursuing a business deal in Russia that required Kremlin approval — even though the most senior members of Trump’s own campaign, and possibly Trump himself, knew at the time that Russia was waging an attack designed to sabotage our democracy on Trump’s behalf, which they eagerly sought to help Russia carry out.
On at least one occasion, Trump publicly absolved Russia of any blame for this attack — while apparently carrying on private financial dealings that involved the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Michael H. Fuchs: The ticking bomb of climate change is America’s biggest threat
Imagine that US leaders were told that hundreds of nuclear weapons were set on a timer to detonate across the planet, progressively and in increasing numbers, over the coming years and decades. The lives of millions would be upended, if not made nearly impossible to survive, by transformed weather patterns and resource scarcity. Tens of millions would become migrants as regions became uninhabitable. Millions would die, more and more as time went on. If this science fiction were reality, US leaders would lead an international effort to immediately disarm and dismantle the weapons.
But this isn’t science fiction. Climate change is a ticking time bomb, literally threatening to end human life on earth over the coming centuries. As climate journalist Peter Brannen describes it, Earth faced a similar crisis hundreds of millions of years ago during the “Great Dying” when volcanoes spewed so much carbon dioxide into the air – including magma that blanketed an area as large as the lower 48 US states, 1km deep – that it almost killed all life. Today, Brannen says, “we’re shooting carbon dioxide up into the atmosphere 10 times faster than the ancient volcanoes”.