Pondering the Pundit

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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Markos Kounalakis: Merkel, and the rest of Europe, are through with Trump


The very name conjures vastly different images and emotions depending on your age and where you live.

For the Greatest Generation, Munich immediately evokes memories of a spineless Western “appeasement” that sold out Czechoslovakia and fed Hitler’s insatiable appetite for power leading to World War II. Baby Boomers recall Munich as a terrorism turning point when cold-blooded Black September members murdered 11 Israeli athletes in the city’s 1972 Summer Olympic Games.

This past week, Munich may likely be remembered as the place where American allies finally gave up on President Trump, America’s leadership of the alliance of Western democracies and any U.S. security guarantees as credible.

Appeasement, murder, betrayal. Munich has had its pivotal historic moments, and this looks like one of them.

Munich is where German Chancellor Angela Merkel just stood up at an important annual security conference and said that she was, effectively, done with counting on the Americans. The Munich Security Conference is also where Vice President Mike Pence stood up to scold allies for sticking with a multilateral Iranian agreement and hollowly cheerlead for the White House. For his tone-deaf remarks, he was rewarded with stone-cold silence and a primarily European audience’s outright disrespect for Trump. This regrettable reality — a disregarded America — threatens to become the new normal.

Jennifer Rubin: Michael Cohen to Congress: Yes, Trump is a crook

Americans will see Wednesday just why President Trump and his cronies freaked out when the FBI raided his ex-attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s office and home. In testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Cohen is spilling the proverbial beans and in the process burying his former boss.

Cohen’s written statement set the stage. He described Trump in unsparing terms: “He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.”

And there was the first blockbuster: Cohen’s direct eyewitness to a telephone conversation between Stone and Trump wherein Stone previewed the WikiLeaks release of stolen emails. “In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen said in his written statement. “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Stone added, “Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’” Understand what Cohen is saying: Trump encouraged an associate to keep abreast and feed him information on WikiLeaks and the release of hacked documents. This not only smacks of conspiracy but also reportedly contradicts Trump’s answers to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s written questions.

Robert J. Samuelson: The inescapable irony of the Brexit crackup

They promised complexity, confusion and uncertainty — and, by golly, they delivered. What we’re talking about is Brexit; that’s shorthand for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The deadline is March 29, and as yet, there is no agreement on the new rules that would govern Britain’s relations with the E.U. All this is yet another threat to Europe’s economic and political stability.

“There’s no majority in Parliament for anything,” says Thomas Wright, head of the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe. The most fearsome possibility seems to be “no deal”: The laws and regulations binding the United Kingdom to the E.U. would expire without a replacement. The result, say many commentators, would be a fearsome economic slump.

“Supply chains would stop,” says Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, an expert on Europe at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank. The cross-border flow of parts and components — which often requires legal certifications of various sorts — would plunge, because the E.U. rules would no longer apply and there would be no replacement.

Kate Aronoff: Don’t trust the adults in the room on climate change

There’s an inspiring new slogan gaining traction among venerated pundits and politicians of a certain age that claim steadfast commitment to the cause of stopping catastrophic climate change: “Get off my lawn.” [..]

None of these figures deny climate change in the conventional sense of spouting junk science from rightwing thinktanks. They have all agreed publicly and even forcefully that climate change is a pressing issue, and that human activity is its cause. Several have been vocal advocates for climate action of one sort or another. But none have proposed a workable alternative to the economy-wide mobilization the Green New Deal sets out to accomplish, to rapidly electrify the American economy and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Details still need to be worked out on that plan, of course. But it remains the only idea on the table even remotely approaching the “wartime footing” climate scientists are increasingly insistent is necessary to avert catastrophe.

Julian Brave Noisecat: The Green New Deal has reignited the climate debate – and voters support it

For years, American democracy has been gripped by a conspiracy to undermine and deny the scientific truth of climate change. Fossil fuel corporations like ExxonMobil and Koch Industries have waged a decades-long campaign to mislead the public about the environmental costs of their business activities and co-opt the rightwing governing party. This week, senior White House officials told the Washington Post that the administration is forming a climate panel headed by William Happer, a physicist who once compared critical assessments of CO2 emissions to the “demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler”.

A blathering majority of Republican apparatchiks and Fox & Friends talking heads –including the president – continue to insist global warming is a hoax. And for years, cable news networks have provided a platform for these tinfoil hat people, giving airtime to oil-friendly propagandists who reduced the climate debate to a simple binary of belief and denial.

Until recently, Democratic leaders failed to lead, viewing climate as a low priority for voters and positioning themselves as true believers rather than an enlightened party with a real plan to take on a planetary calamity that will be measured in geological time.