“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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Paul Krugman: Fascism, American Style
As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.
Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.
And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him. [..]
Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.
So how did we get to this point?
Last week marked the 82nd anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s signing the bill that created Social Security. The program has stood the test of time well.
It accounts for more than half of the income for 60 percent of senior households and more than 90 percent for almost one third. It has reduced poverty rates among the elderly from more than one-third to roughly the same as the rest of the adult population. In addition, it provides disability insurance, as well as life insurance for family members, for almost the entire working-age population.
This is a pretty good track record. This is the reason the program is hugely popular and efforts at privatization, like President George W. Bush’s 2005 effort, have all gone down in defeat. It’s hard to beat Social Security.
Leonard Pitts, Jr.: Think Innocent People Are Never Wrongly Convicted?
Last week, on the day he was scheduled to die, Marcellus Williams didn’t.
Just hours before he was to be strapped down and pumped full of poison, Williams, the convicted killer of Felicia “Lisha” Gayle, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, received a reprieve. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stayed the execution and announced formation of a panel to review the case.
To be sure, no one will ever mistake Williams for a choir boy. At the time he was charged with Gayle’s 1998 murder, he was a 29-year-old with a rap sheet including convictions for burglary. He was also a suspect in an armed robbery at a fast food restaurant, a crime of which he was later convicted. [..]
But it should never have come to this. A man’s life should never have hung in this balance.
It is human nature that human beings loath to admit their mistakes. It is also human nature that human beings will make mistakes, regardless.
One of the most grievous flaws of capital punishment is that it requires us to pretend those two things are not true. Which is why the court’s refusal to stop Williams’ execution is less suggestive of reasoned jurisprudence than of a refusal to look too closely for fear of what one might see.
Richard Eskow: Open Letter to Louise Linton About Angels and Humanity
Dear Ms. Linton,
This has undoubtedly been a difficult couple of days for you, both as a person and as the wife of the United States Treasury Secretary.
Nobody enjoys the sudden onrush of hostile attention that comes when something they’ve said goes viral, and not in a good way. Your public record, and even your recent infamous post, suggests you want to be a good person – or, at the very least, that you’d like to be seen as one.
That’s not how people are seeing you at the moment, and that has to be rough.
Perhaps it would help if someone explained why you’ve received so much negative attention in the last 48 hours.
Robert Reich: Dear Trump voter
If you voted for Donald Trump, I get it. Maybe you feel you’ve been so badly shafted by the system that you didn’t want to go back to politics as usual, and Trump seemed like he’d topple that corrupt system.
You voted to change our country’s power base — to get rid of crony capitalism and give our government back to the people who are working, paying taxes, and spending more just to survive. Lots of Americans agree with you.
But now, the president is turning his back on that idea and the many changes he promised.
He did not drain the swamp. After telling voters how he would take control away from special interests, he has surrounded himself with the very Wall Street players he decried. Now, those who gamed politicians for tax loopholes and laws that reward the rich don’t even have to sneak around with backroom deals.