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May 23 2019

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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Paul Waldman: Why aren’t Trump and Republicans pilloried for failing to ‘reach out’?

The presidential campaign has begun, which means that Democrats are being asked again and again why they aren’t doing more to “reach out” to Republicans. But there’s something important missing from this discussion: any acknowledgement that we treat this subject with an absolutely ridiculous double standard.

As you may have heard, the Democratic candidates have a disagreement about whether it’s a good idea to appear on Fox News, a discussion that stands in — inaccurately, I’d argue — for a larger question of how they should address Americans whose chances of voting for a Democrat in 2020 are somewhere between slim and none. As South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in his recent Fox News town hall, “There are a lot of Americans who my party can’t blame if they are ignoring our message, because they will never hear it if we don’t go on and talk about it.”

The only problem with that as a reason for appearing on a network that is a propaganda organ for the White House is that it implicitly assumes that there’s just no other way to talk to conservatives besides going on Fox.

But consider this: When was the last time you heard some chin-scratching pundit say that President Trump will never be able to reach liberals if he doesn’t go on MSNBC?

The fact that you’ve never heard anyone say that isn’t just because of how we think about the media choices politicians make. It’s because of something even more fundamental. Nobody asks whether going on MSNBC is the best way for Trump to talk to liberals because nobody even suggests that Trump should talk to liberals in the first place.

Michelle Cottle: A Charge of ‘a Cover-Up,’ a Trump Tantrum and the Gears Grind to a Halt

The president stormed out of a meeting with congressional Democrats, saying he won’t negotiate while they investigate. What now?

Late Wednesday morning, President Trump headed into what was supposed to be a meeting with congressional Democrats on how to fund a $2 trillion infrastructure package he and they had agreed on last month. Instead, he spent three minutes berating Democratic leaders for saying unpleasant things about him, before proclaiming that he would not work with them until they stopped investigating him.

Mr. Trump then strode out to the Rose Garden, where the news media had been hastily assembled to hear him deliver a similar message, and delivered another tirade about the illegitimacy of the special counsel’s Russia investigation. “This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States,” he asserted. Affixed to his lectern was a printed sign declaring, “NO Collusion. NO Obstruction.”

The proximate cause of Mr. Trump’s outrage was an accusation by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, made earlier in the day, that he “is engaged in a cover-up.”

“I don’t do cover-ups,” he said in his Rose Garden remarks.

Rather than talk roads and bridges, the president issued a challenge: “I told Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. But, you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.’ ”

Put another way, don’t expect any progress on any legislation any time soon.

Bill Moyers: What if we covered the climate crisis like we did the start of the second world war?

In the war, the purpose of journalism was to awaken the world to the catastrophe looming ahead of it. We must approach our climate crisis the same way

I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world,” to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland.

I don’t come with a silver bullet. And I’m no expert on the topic. Like you, I am just a journalist whose craft calls for us to explain things we don’t understand. There’s so much I don’t understand that journalism became my continuing course in adult education. The subjects were so fascinating, and the work so fulfilling, that I kept at it “full speed ahead” for half a century, until two years ago, at the age of 83, I yielded finally to the side effects of a long life and retired (more or less). This is the first opportunity I have had since then to be with so many kindred spirits of journalism, and the camaraderie reminds me how much I have missed your company.

Many of us have recognized that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There’s been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the Goliaths of the US news media, those with the biggest amplifiers—the corporate broadcast networks—have been shamelessly AWOL, despite their extraordinary profits. The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 2018—a drop of 45%, reported the watchdog group Media Matters.

Dana Milford: Trump seems to be transparently mad

This is not the work of an orderly mind.

President Trump stormed into the Cabinet Room 15 minutes late Wednesday morning and immediately proceeded to blow up a long-planned meeting with Democratic leaders about an infrastructure bill. He raged against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the terrible, horrible things she has said about him, and he vowed not to work on any legislation until Democrats stop investigating his administration. He stomped out of the room before Democrats had a chance to reply, then marched into the Rose Garden for an unscheduled news conference — or, more accurately, a 12-minute parade of paranoia.

Positively everybody was out to get him. They were out to get him in the third person: “They hated President Trump. They hated him with a passion,” he said. They were out to get him in the first-person plural: “These people were out to get us, the Republican Party and President Trump. They were out to get us.” What’s more, they have been after him “pretty much from the time we came down the escalator in Trump Tower.” And now they probably will impeach him because they “do whatever they have to do.” [..]

In one sense, that’s true: Trump’s state of mind is utterly transparent, revealed in real time. At the moment, he seems to be transparently mad.

Back at the Capitol, Pelosi reacted with concern more than anger. “I pray for the president of the United States,” she said. “And I pray for the United States of America.”

So should we all.

Amanda Marcotte: This is who Trump’s war criminal pardons would dishonor the most

Donald Trump evaded the draft as a young man when his father leaned on a doctor — who was one of Fred Trump’s tenants — to diagnose him with “bone spurs.” Now he wants America to believe that the best way to honor the troops is by pardoning convicted or accused war criminals. Trump’s shadow cabinet of Fox News talking heads has been heavily lobbying the president, both on-air and in private, to issue pardons to U.S. soldiers or military contractors, one of them a mercenary convicted in civilian court, who have been accused of murdering civilians and extrajudicial killings.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the White House is attempting to expedite the pardon process, presumably so Trump can announce, with great fanfare, that he’s pardoning these men on Memorial Day weekend. Trump no doubt wishes to present these pardons as some huge favor to the armed forces,  an act of patriotic defense of the troops who are allegedly being oppressed by obscure but powerful forces of “political correctness.”

But if Trump issues these pardons, in reality he will be dishonoring the armed services. These pardons are an insult to every service member who was involved in upholding the law in these cases, many of whom did so at great risk and personal cost. It will be an insult to those troops who do their jobs, however miserable that can get, without committing war crimes. And it’s an insult to the reputation of the U.S. military as a whole, as well as an effort to reinforce the perception that the American troops behave without honor.