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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Norm Eisen and Barry H. Berke: Trump’s ‘no smocking gun’ defense won’t protect him
We are accustomed to a high degree of falsity in President Donald Trump’s tweets, but Monday’s double decker about former attorney Michael Cohen was notably packed with whoppers even by his own standards. Contrary to Trump’s statements, Cohen may have landed the President and those around him in legal jeopardy not only for felony campaign finance violations but also for a number of other crimes.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on Friday detailed an elaborate criminal scheme in which Cohen made or facilitated payments to an adult film actress and a former Playboy model, both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump (allegations Trump denies). Cohen admitted he engaged in this scheme in coordination with and at the direction of Trump. Friday’s sentencing memorandum was the first filing produced by the President’s own Justice Department to implicate him directly in the commission of a felony.
The heated discussion in the Oval Office between President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer offered a window into the dilemma with which Trump will grapple every day for the next two years as his reelection campaign proceeds. It gets to the heart of who he is as a person and a politician, of how he sees himself and how he sees the world, two contradictory impulses he will struggle to resolve.
When it comes to anything reflecting on himself — his “very good brain,” his buildings, his performance as president, his ties and steaks and university, Trump always insists that they are so fantastic as to redefine all prior conceptions of fantasticness. But when he looks outward — and this is where Trump the politician comes in — he sees nothing but ugliness, threat, and despair.
Jill Abramson: Trump’s tweets show how rattled he is by Mueller’s findings
It was easy to tell how rattled President Trump was by Robert Mueller’s most recent and devastating court filings. In a tweet-storm, the president (referred to as Individual 1 in the court documents) kept insisting the filings were good news for him.
This is a typical Trump ploy going back decades to his earliest days in the real estate business. After having to settle a case in which the family real estate empire was turning away black tenants in the 1970s, the young mogul rushed to the microphones to claim victory.
The new documents filed for Michael Cohen’s sentencing were clearly terrible news for the president. We already knew from Cohen’s earlier guilty plea that Individual 1 (AKA Trump) was up to his eyeballs in the plan to pay hush money to two women who said they had sex with him. The prosecutors’ court filings on Friday were important because they show Cohen told them that it was Donald Trump himself who directed him to make the payments, which were illegal because campaign money was used. So, the president’s direct involvement in a felony violation of US campaign laws could place him in greater legal jeopardy.
If you can’t undercut a popular proposal as undesirable, make it sound impossible. That, in any event, has been the tack of opponents of single-payer healthcare, also called improved “Medicare-for-all”.
“[W]e got to get away from these falsehoods and start talking about the truth …” opined billionaire Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on CNBC last June, while contending that single-payer healthcare was economically infeasible. “I think a lot of the analysis has shown it’s unaffordable,” claimed Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last summer, quoted by Kaiser Health News.
Yet casting Medicare-for-all as an economic impossibility is becoming a sisyphean pursuit: a slew of studies – including one released just the other week – are confirming that, yes, we can afford real universal healthcare in America. But if that’s the case, why haven’t we already achieved it? Well, the real stumbling block is not that single-payer advocates’ arithmetic is poor, it’s that American politics are dominated by the rich.
Menry Cuellar: The answer to border security is technology, not wall
I was born and raised on the US-Mexico border, and I represent 290 miles of that border today. I know from personal and professional experience that a physical wall would be ineffective at reducing the number of undocumented people and the amount of illegal drugs that come across the border into the United States, a point I tried to explain in Tuesday’s bipartisan meeting with President Donald Trump.
The more effective ways to secure the border — which Democrats could support — include the use of modern technology, increased border personnel and better coordination with our southern neighbor. [..]
Instead of a wall, we should increase the use of modern technology, including cameras, fixed towers and aerial and underground sensors. Violent drug cartels are using more modern technology to breach our border than we are using to secure it. We can’t double down on a 14th century solution to a 21st century challenge if we want a viable long-term solution.
A physical barrier also doesn’t address the illicit trafficking of people and narcotics or the issues surrounding visa overstays. The majority of illicit narcotics enter the United States via our land ports of entry, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary. A more efficient use of limited tax dollars would be to invest heavily in state-of-the-art detection technologies and strengthen the US Customs and Border Protection’s Container Security Initiative to mitigate illicit trafficking.