“Punting 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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New York Times Editorial Board: The Real Voter Fraud Is Texas’ ID Law
For years, voter identification laws have been sold as a sensible antidote to fraud at the polls. Many people, including Supreme Court justices, have bought that fallacious line, even though in-person fraud is essentially nonexistent.
Now, slowly but surely, such laws are being revealed for the racially discriminatory, anti-voter schemes that they are.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court panel unanimously agreed that Texas’ voter ID law had a discriminatory effect on black and Latino voters, and therefore violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It was the first time a federal appeals court had ruled against such a law. It was also a sign that the Voting Rights Act remains functional, despite the 2013 Supreme Court decision that cut out a key provision requiring federal oversight of jurisdictions, like Texas, with histories of racial discrimination.
Paul Krugman: From Trump on Down, the Republicans Can’t Be Serious
This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their “deep bench.” The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul, and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, however, Donald Trump leads the field by a wide margin. What happened?
The answer, according to many of those who didn’t see it coming, is gullibility: People can’t tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And for sure there’s a lot of gullibility out there. But if you ask me, the pundits have been at least as gullible as the public, and still are.
For while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.
Flipping over to the Daily Show following any political event has become something like American ritual for over a decade now, especially for those of us needing some kind of antidote to the wreckage lying before us on Fox News.
On Thursday night, as the first Republican presidential debate ended and Jon Stewart’s show began – only to disappear from our screens, for ever – things were no different, ritualistically. Next time, though, Fox’s friends will be onscreen unchallenged, and they won’t even have to try.
Stewart and Co couldn’t respond to the first official Republican party debate of course – the show was taped, and is no more – but it offered a fitting commentary anyway.
In her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has lately promoted herself as a populist defender of the middle class. To that end, she attempted to distance herself last week from a controversial 12-nation trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would set the rules of commerce for roughly 40 percent of the world’s economy.
As with similar business-backed trade pacts, labor unions, environmental groups and public health organizations are warning that the deal could result in job losses, reduced environmental standards, higher prices for medicine and more power for corporations looking to overturn public interest laws. And so, in her quest for Democratic primary votes, Clinton is suddenly trying to cast herself as a critic of the initiative.
“I did not work on TPP,” she said after a meeting with leaders of labor unions who oppose the pact. “I advocated for a multinational trade agreement that would ‘be the gold standard.’ But that was the responsibility of the United States Trade Representative.”
The trouble, of course, is that Clinton’s declaration does not square with the facts
When I woke up yesterday morning I was excited and energized by the prospect of watching the first Republican primary debate. As I wrote here, they’re usually a fun cause for some celebration among political junkies of all stripes, particularly those who fall on the left side of the dial. These particular promised to be especially entertaining, due to the large number of debaters as well as the fact that it was going to feature a Reality TV Star in his first major appearance on the debate stage. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a hangover of epic proportions and the feeling that I’d been abducted by aliens and taken to a foreign planet. Let’s just say that spending three hours with Republican politicians and Fox News pundits and anchors wasn’t nearly as much fun as I thought it would be. [..]
These Republicans are running on fear and anger and nothing more. Even their various ways of saying “let’s make America great again” are demoralizing. It’s understandable. They know they are unlikely to win the presidency as long as their angry, fearful, conservative white base insists on insulting everyone who doesn’t look like them but they have no choice but to roll with it.
And the most depressing thing about that, brought home in living color tonight, is that the rest of us won’t have Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to help us through it.