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.

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Rick Wilson: The Mueller Report is the Tip of a Big, Slimy, Trump-Shaped Iceberg

Even after Bill Barr has performed his sycophantic redactions, we’ll have a report that will tell us a lot—but will still only scratch the surface.

For now, we wait.

It’s a song as old as time; wait for the last breath of media attention before a long holiday weekend then drop the stinking oppo, the bad news, the terrible financial report. The Holy Week Mueller News Dump is sure to be a classic of the form that borders on the blasphemous; when most Americans look forward to Easter, it’s a time of faith and family, not scrying the meaning of text under oceans of black redaction marks.

The idea of the news dump is that no one will be watching (and if they are they’ll hear Barr’s summary again first). It won’t work this time, but it will mean people who give a damn about the truth of this investigation will be parsing what little we expect to get from a Justice Department head dedicated not to the law or our security but to protecting Donald Trump’s ample ass.

There are a lot of very smart legal minds standing by to parse the document Attorney General William Barr (R-Trump’s Pocket) drops on Thursday.

When Trump toady Matt Schlapp tweeted on February 14, 2019, that the president now had a fully operational attorney general he said the quiet part loud.

David Rothkopf: Trump & Co. Are Crossing Big, Bright Red Lines—and They’re Getting Away With It

It’s been bad since Day 1, of course. But in recent weeks, the lawlessness has gotten far more egregious and dangerous. What force can stop it?

Whatever revelations the redacted version of the Mueller report may hold, they will not be as disturbing as the behavior of President Trump and his team in the days and weeks leading up to its release.

That is not a reference to the president’s panic-tweeting, nor does it refer to his other efforts to distract, obfuscate, or shift blame. Instead, it is acknowledgement of something more insidious that is afoot, something that may be hinted at by Robert Mueller’s findings but which we are now seeing fully realized—a full-scale and disturbingly successful assault on the rule of law in America.

Something broke in America in the past week or two. We have been spiraling downward since Trump’s election, but in these early days of spring 2019, we have crossed a line. The president and his men began asserting that they were above the law—and effectively no one in our system did anything to stop them. [..]

What once was black and white blurs into gray. Right and wrong, old principles, enduring values, fade from memory. Authoritarians arrive in our midst not in tanks but in bad suits and worse haircuts.

I have long thought our system was better than this—more resilient. But candidly, I’m no longer sure. I remain hopeful… hopeful that the next election cycle can redress these manifold wrongs, hopeful that the courts will do as many have done and block Trump’s worst impulses.

But it will not be easy. And the next election will be too close. Trump may be with us for six more years.

Jill Filipovic: The misogynist trolls attacking Katie Bouman are the tip of the trashpile

Trolls latched on to Bouman’s achievement of the first black hole image with a vitriol that, in a saner world, would be shocking – but is par for the course for women

The researcher Dr Katie Bouman played a leading role in taking the first photograph of a black hole. A photo of the 29-year-old Bouman taken the moment the photo was processed shows her with her hands clasped in front of her mouth, looking at the camera with a mix of shock and excitement. It went viral – both a testament to the groundbreaking work itself and a moment of victory for women in the sciences, whose contributions have long been ignored, downplayed and erased.

The giddiness didn’t last long.

Anti-feminist trolls latched on to the story and attacked Bouman with a vitriol that, in a saner world, would be shocking, but in this one looked a lot like the reaction to a Ghostbusters movie remake with a female cast – that is, sad, angry men yelling at women on the internet. Trolls created fake social media accounts impersonating Bouman. They questioned her contribution to the project. When she said that she was part of a team who all worked hard to make the photo happen, they dug in deeper, suggesting she was only getting public attention because she was a woman, when men did all the real work.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course for women on the internet. Or women in politics. Or women on television. Or women who become prominent in any way, even if they are, like Katie Bouman, private citizens who did something truly amazing.

Moustafa Bayoumi: Ilhan Omar has become the target of a dangerous hate campaign

Fox News, New York Post and Donald Trump are contributing to a climate of vigilantism that threatens every Muslim in America today

Here’s a question for you. Which American politician publicly referred to the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks as “those folks who committed this act,” seemingly downplaying its horrors? Was it Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar? No. Try George W Bush.

Here’s another one. Which American politician publicly called Benjamin Netanyahu “your prime minister” while addressing a crowd of Jewish American supporters. Since the statement assumes Jewish Americans carry a dual loyalty to both Israel and the United States, you might assume it was Ilhan Omar, based on all we’ve been told about her. In fact, it was Donald Trump.

Or how about this. Who said that “the Stephen Miller approach to immigration has no viability”, adding that “Mr Miller is well known…for having views that are outside the mainstream,” suggesting Miller is in reality a political extremist who doesn’t belong in government? Was it Ilhan Omar? Wrong again. It was the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Over and over again, Ilhan Omar’s detractors misrepresent her words and intentions, accusing her of saying things she didn’t say or condemning her for things that have been said before, even by Republicans themselves.

Yanis Varoufakis: First They Came for Assange

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s first CIA director and now US Secretary of State, once described WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That is exactly right, and it is an equally accurate description of what every self-respecting news outlet ought to be.

My meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange all took place in the same small room. As the intelligence services of a variety of countries know, I visited Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy many times between the fall of 2015 and December 2018. What these snoops do not know is the relief I felt every time I left.

Recent developments prove that his current predicament has nothing to do with the Swedish allegations or his role in aiding Trump against Clinton. With Chelsea Manning in prison again for refusing to confess that Assange incited, or helped, her to leak evidence of US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the best explanation of what is going on comes from Mike Pompeo, Trump’s first CIA director and now US Secretary of State.

Pompeo described WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That is exactly right. But it is an equally accurate description of what every self-respecting news outlet ought to be. As Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky have warned, journalists who fail to oppose Assange’s extradition to the US could be next on the hit list of a president who considers them the “enemy of the people.” Celebrating his arrest and turning a blind eye to Manning’s continued suffering is a gift to liberalism’s greatest foes.

Besides liberalism, Assange’s persecution by the US security-industrial complex has another victim: women. No woman, in Sweden or elsewhere, will get justice if he is now thrown into a supermax prison for revealing crimes against humanity perpetuated by awful men in or out of uniform. No feminist goal is served by Manning’s continued suffering.