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Aug 29 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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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Against Trump, Republicans are all talk and no action

The relationship between President Trump and Republicans in Congress is rapidly deteriorating. At least, that is the clear impression one gets from a spate of recent headlines, such as “Trump distances himself from GOP lawmakers to avoid blame if agenda stalls,” “Deepening GOP split, Trump attacks Republican senators” and “Trump sticks it to GOP.” The problem, as those headlines indicate, is that the feud is largely one-sided.

Almost every day, Trump demonstrates that he is utterly unfit for office. In the past few days alone, as a catastrophic hurricane devastated the fourth-largest city in the country, Trump pardoned former Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio — who defied a court order to stop illegally profiling Latinos and committed grotesque abuses of power for years — and tweeted nonsense about Mexico paying for “the wall” on the southern border. And yet, despite the president’s intensifying attacks on members of his own party, Republican leaders still have not shown the spine necessary to confront him in any meaningful way. Even the relatively few conservative lawmakers who have spoken out forcefully against Trump, particularly in response to his abominable reaction to the white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., have failed to back up their words with concrete actions.

Ask yourself this: Who in the Republican Party is even attempting to hold him accountable?

Eugene Robinson: Hurricane Harvey previews our stormy future

Pay attention to what happened to Houston. It is rare to be given such a vivid look at our collective future.

Climate change cannot be definitively blamed for Hurricane Harvey, but it likely did make the storm more powerful. Global warming did not conjure the rains that flooded the nation’s fourth-largest city, but it likely did make them more torrential. The spectacle of rescue boats plying the streets of a major metropolis is something we surely will see again. The question is how often.

The relationship between climate and weather is undeniable but never specific. Tropical cyclones do not batter Siberia’s arctic coast and heavy snowfalls do not blanket the beaches of Barbados because the climates are different. But no one blizzard or hurricane can be attributed to climate change beyond the shadow of a doubt — which opens anyone who raises the subject at a time like this to the accusation of “politicizing” a disaster.

The science explaining climate change is clear, however, no matter what deniers such as President Trump choose to believe. And it will be political decisions that determine how often we witness scenes of devastation like those in Houston.

Catherine Rampell: Why did Trump pardon Arpaio? Because he sees himself in the former sheriff.

There are lots of compelling reasons not to pardon the country’s most famous racist in the middle of a hurricane.

So why exactly did President Trump decide to pardon Joe Arpaio?

Maybe, some speculated, Trump wanted to toss some red meat to his base. Trump’s recent Phoenix campaign-rally crowd practically frothed at the mouth when he hinted at a coming pardon of the former Maricopa County sheriff. As Trump’s overall approval hovers around 35 percent, a high-profile pardon of a notorious racial profiler might be a way to shore up his support. [..]

In my view, the most likely explanation for this stomach-churning pardon is much simpler: It’s projection. Trump sees himself — or what he sometimes aspires to accomplish, anyway — in this local tin-pot dictator.

Rahm Emanuel: If Donald Trump won’t tackle climate change, then Chicago will

While the Trump administration is dropping the mantle of leadership on climate change, American cities from coast to coast are picking it up. From small towns to metropolises and from the coasts to the heartland, Republican and Democratic mayors are united in common cause to curb emissions, shrink our carbon footprints and fight for a greener future.

Rather than accepting the White House’s wrongheaded withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, cities are redoubling our efforts to meeting the landmark accords’ benchmarks. We not only have the power to take action, but unlike Washington we have the will to get the job done. [..]

Something is wrong when a president will do anything to protect every Confederate statue in every city and town, but not one thing to protect those cities and towns from rising sea levels, severe storms and other climate change impacts that threaten municipalities’ very existence.

We hope that Washington finds the courage to lead, but in the meantime we are going to keep pushing forward by cutting emissions, reducing our reliance on coal and adopting the Paris climate agreement locally. Our residents and businesses demand nothing less.

Raúl M Grijalva: How can law-and-order Republicans stay silent on Joe Arpaio’s pardon?

Last year, before winning the presidency, Donald Trump retweeted a Benito Mussolini quote about preferring to live a day as a lion rather than a century as a sheep. It was exactly the kind of sentiment a mediocre man such as Trump admires and considers profound.

When NBC’s Chuck Todd asked him whether he regretted it, Trump showed the contempt for democracy, history and other people’s intelligence we all know as his trademark: “I know who said it. What difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else?”

This is the same man who pardoned Joe Arpaio last Friday. Presidents weigh the dignity of their office and the specifics of a case before granting clemency; autocrats give their political allies get-out-of-jail-free cards. And we all know how much Trump admires autocrats past and present.  [..]

The real issue is not Trump’s indifference to the constitution or the destruction Arpaio’s years of lawlessness brought to countless Arizona families. Those stories are upsetting and need to be told, but unfortunately they constitute well-trodden ground at this point.

The real issue is whether any Republicans are willing to do anything about it. So far most of the “cooler heads” we keep hearing about – the generals, the long-time national security professionals, the law-and-order types – haven’t so much as batted an eyelash.