Jul 04 2017

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial Board: Happy Fourth of July! Show Us Your Papers

The reviews of President Trump’s new commission on election integrity are rolling in, and they’re not good

“Disingenuous.”Repugnant.” “At best a waste of taxpayer money.” “A tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”

State officials across the country responded to the commission’s slapdash request last week for detailed voter data in the manner previously reserved for emailed pleas from a Nigerian prince.

Delete, said secretaries of state in Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee, California — more than 20 states refused to comply, red and blue and every hue in between. “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico,” Mississippi’s secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, responded.

What triggered the bipartisan backlash? A letter from the commission — whose ostensible goal is to restore Americans’ confidence in their elections — asked states to turn over by July 14 all publicly available information about their voters, including names, addresses, dates of birth, political party and voting history, criminal record, military status and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Russ Feingold: Trump’s next attack on democracy: mass voter suppression

The most important aspect of any democratic election is participation. A democracy gains its legitimacy through elections only so far as those elections represent the will of the people. Limit voter participation, and there is a direct correlation between the legitimacy of an election and the democratic system. President Trump and Vice-President Pence’s “election integrity” commission is unequivocally declaring war on voters – our democratic legitimacy be damned.

The commission recently sent a letter to all 50 states asking that they provide all the names and associated birthdays, last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, political parties, and voting histories since 2006 of people on their voter rolls. This letter is helping to lay the groundwork for nationalized voter suppression.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Patriotism in the Trump era

In one of his first official acts upon taking office, President Trump designated the day of his inauguration a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” While it’s not unusual for incoming presidents to issue symbolic proclamations, Trump’s choice of words reflected the extreme nationalism of a White House that “seriously considered” an inaugural parade with military tanks rolling down the streets of Washington, D.C. “A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart,” he proclaimed.

As George Orwell once wrote, however, “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism.” And nearly six months into Trump’s presidency, it seems especially fitting on this Fourth of July to reflect on the meaning of patriotism and to consider how one can be patriotic during such deeply troubling times for the country.

Eugene Robinson: Our #FakeHero president is an insult to our Founders

The signers of the Declaration of Independence were highly imperfect men. Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Southerners were rank hypocrites for declaring “all men are created equal” while owning men, women and children as their slaves. John Adams was sour and disputatious, and later as president would sign the Sedition Act cracking down on criticism of the government. John Hancock was accused of amassing his fortune through smuggling. Benjamin Franklin could have been described as kind of a dirty old man.

Yet they laid out a set of principles, later codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that transcended their flaws. At this bizarre moment in our history, it is useful to remember that the ideas and institutions of the American experiment are much more powerful and enduring than the idiosyncrasies of our leaders.

I call this moment bizarre for obvious reasons. As Thomas Paine would write in December 1776: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Lawrence Douglas: The biggest threat to American democracy isn’t Trump’s uncivil speech

Our Constitution does not demand that our speech be civil. The Constitution protects uncivil speech – hate speech, even. But it does so not because our democracy approves of such speech, but because we believe that truth will expose lies and the evil of government censorship is greater than the perils posed by untoward speakers.

But what happens when the source of uncivil speech is not some fringe hate group, but the occupant of the Oval Office? And what happens when the lies target the very organs designed to ferret them out? We have never faced such questions before in our history. Which explains why, on the 241st anniversary of our independence, American democracy finds itself in peril.