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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In November, the American people voted overwhelmingly to put Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives to start serving as a truly independent check and balance on the executive branch. Since then, President Trump and his allies have complained of “Presidential Harassment,” decrying Democrats for having the audacity to request documents and witnesses to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities.
The problem is that the White House is engaged in an unprecedented level of stonewalling, delay and obstruction.
I serve as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, the primary investigative body in the House of Representatives. I have sent 12 letters to the White House on a half-dozen topics — some routine and some relating to our core national security interests. In response, the White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses for interviews.
Let me underscore that point: The White House has not turned over a single piece of paper to our committee or made a single official available for testimony during the 116th Congress. [..]
President Trump’s actions violate our Constitution’s fundamental principle of checks and balances. If our committee must resort to issuing subpoenas, there should be no doubt about why. This has nothing to do with presidential harassment and everything to do with unprecedented obstruction.
As a farmer told me, “You can still make a small fortune in agriculture, but the problem is you have to start with a large fortune.”
Farmers tend to be optimistic pessimists. They know the odds are against them — the bankers, bugs, monopolists, violent weather and sorry politicians. Yet, they keep at it as long as they can; working long and hard hours, enduring arduous conditions and tremendous stress to nurture the seeds that bring us an abundance of foods. But sometimes, the odds bunch up. Coping with natural disasters is to be expected. It’s the unnatural disasters of rigged economic policies, Wall Street greed and unrestrained corporate profiteering that slam the door on good, efficient family farmers, making it impossible for them to keep producing. [..]
Indeed, a central cause of the spreading farm depression is the increasing monopolization of all the things farmers must buy (from seeds to machinery) and of the markets that buy from them. The big four biotech ag giants, for example, control 63 percent of all commercial seeds sold in the world; four meat processors control 84 percent of the U.S. beef market; and four global traders control up to 90 percent of the world’s grain sales. Our farmers and their families are hurting, but so far, our leaders, including the president, aren’t helping them.
Racism is not natural. Babies — black, brown, white — explore the world and each other with wonder, not hate. Racism has to be taught. It is learned behavior. To assume that a person is inherently superior or inferior to another based upon race is unnatural and ungodly. Racism is used for political manipulation and economic exploitation. In a land founded on the belief that all men are created equal, slavery could not be justified without a racism that depicted slaves as sub-human.
These basic truths need restating in this terrible time. Across the world, we see the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and islamophobia, and its violent expression. Parishioners in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, are gunned down; worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue are attacked and killed. Now the murders in the mosques in New Zealand. Christians, Jews and Muslims must now stand as one and resist the rise of hate, and the hate-filled propaganda that feeds it.
In this, Donald Trump can no longer duck responsibility. When an American president speaks, the world listens. When Barack Obama was elected, it sent hope across the world. Blacks were elected to parliaments for the first time across Europe. Some hoped a new era of peace and reconciliation might begin.
Both would-be strongmen remain far behind the Donald’s supervisor in the Moscow home office.
Watching twin populists Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday was to see how nationalism today is, at its ugly root, ethnic and racial nationalism, eventually reducing identity to supposed genetics.
To realize these men with a robust sense of self-regard and a broad disdain for small-d democratic institutions and small-r republican values lead two nations composed of more races and ethnic groups than you can count is jarring. American and Brazil are messy, vibrant, multi-everything patchwork cultures working to overcome long struggles over race and origin, culture and language, wealth and poverty.
They are led now by two grunting, preening he-men. As in Helsinki, Trump is always ready to do his utmost for his most effective flatterers. His ongoing behavior with Vladimir Putin ranges between obsequiousness and full-on boot-licking. His bromance with Kim Jong Un is pursued with the fruitless vigor of a ninth-grader courting the head cheerleader.
Trump loves imitators, and he seemed particularly gleeful that his new friend had adopted the term “fake news” to describe any critical coverage in the press.
Jennifer Rogers: Trump is turning his pardon power into a shield
President Donald Trump can’t stop talking about pardons. Among other news stories last week were various, sometimes conflicting, accounts about whether and when Michael Cohen may have sought a pardon. And in the wake of Paul Manafort’s second sentencing last week, the White House again refused to rule out a pardon for him; in fact, Sarah Sanders as much as said a pardon would be considered, when the President is ready.
President Trump is continuing his pattern of abusing the pardon power, and it looks like it’s getting worse. [..]
The people who have been the subject of pardon talk, particularly Manafort, Michael Flynn and Cohen (before he publicly declared he was finished protecting the President) have some things in common, too. They are all individuals charged by the Office of the Special Counsel in investigations into wrongdoing by the President.
They all were in positions to have information that could implicate the President in crimes. (Cohen actually did testify that the President committed a crime.) And all have or had been the subject of rampant speculation — fueled by the President’s refusal to rule it out — that they may receive pardons if they refuse to cooperate with authorities.