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Jul 01 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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David Daley: The supreme court’s shameless – and shameful – endorsement of gerrymandering

The next redistricting cycle, which begins in 2021, will be a frightening and unfettered orgy of stolen partisan advantage

On Thursday – in a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines that might be the most nakedly partisan power grab since Bush v Gore – the US supreme court’s conservative majority ruled partisan gerrymandering a “non-justiciable” political issue. In other words, the court’s conservative justices are claiming that the federal judiciary lacks the tools to curb an intentional, largely Republican-led assault on American democracy.

The court should be more honest. They don’t lack the tools. They simply refuse to use them to defend voting rights. The five conservatives, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, insisted that the court would risk its integrity and independence if it began determining the constitutionality of congressional and state legislative maps. But it’s the other way around: by allowing this corrosive practice to stand, the court has exposed its own partisan intent.

Colberrt I. King: Frederick Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July self-celebration

“This Fourth July is yours, not mine,” said Frederick Douglass in his 1852 oration of anger in Rochester, N.Y. Douglass, the great abolitionist, author and former slave, had been asked to speak on the occasion of the nation’s 76th birthday. He told the audience at Corinthian Hall that he could not avoid noting that “the rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence” being celebrated was not shared by millions of others held in slavery.

“What, to the American slave,” Douglass demanded, “is your Fourth of July?”

Nearly 170 years later, Douglass’s bold declaration and haunting question resonate with new meaning.

President Trump has taken over Independence Day 2019, transforming the traditional celebration on the Mall of the nation’s founding into a salute to his egocentrism, staged with demonstrations of America’s military might, an Air Force One flyover and an address to the nation to be delivered by himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The brave signers of the Declaration of Independence — flawed men but men who, as Douglass said, “staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country” — will take a back seat next week.

This Fourth of July is Donald Trump’s — not theirs, not the nation’s, not mine.

Michael Tomasky: Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore?

They pay lip service to it, but they actively try to undermine its institutions.

A number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.

We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.

Robert Reich: The world needs Trump out – but are the Democrats up to the task?

We do not need 20 candidates having confusing fights over healthcare. We need urgent action to defeat a would-be tyrant

Imagine an opposition political party in a land being taken over by an oligarchy, headed by a would-be tyrant.

The tyrant and the oligarchy have convinced many voters the reason they feel powerless and economically insecure isn’t because the oligarchy has taken most of the economic gains and overwhelmed the government with its money. It’s because the country has been taken over by undocumented migrants, Latinos, African Americans and a “deep state” of coastal liberals,

intelligence agencies and mainstream media.

This is rubbish, of course, but the tyrant is masterful at telling big lies and he is backed by the oligarchy’s money.

Imagine further that the opposition party will soon face another election in which it could possibly depose the tyrant and overcome the oligarchy. But at the rate they are consolidating power – over the courts, politics and the media – this could be the opposition’s last chance.

What would it do?

Would it allow virtually anyone to seek to be the party’s candidate for president (and gain valuable brand recognition along the way), including spiritual gurus, one-issue entrepreneurs and minor elected officials who have never even run for state office?

I doubt it. The party would establish criteria to filter out those who had no real chance.

Greg Weiner: The Trump Fallacy

Despite what some of the president’s supporters think, you cannot celebrate his policies and ignore his poor behavior.

President Trump lies so reflexively on trivial matters that world leaders do not know whether to believe him on important ones. This conduct has become so routine it barely merits notice. He denounces the press as “the enemy of the people,” derides his critics as treasonous and openly fawns over an autocrat whose modern-day gulags practice extermination, torture and sexual violence. The president’s most strenuous apologists have long swept all this away with the breezy assurance that he should be taken “seriously, not literally.” Instead of his bombast, they say, look to policies of which conservatives approve.

This image of Mr. Trump as a political Robin Hood whose illicit behavior is justified because it serves a greater good is doubly flawed. First, the lying and vulgarity are unrelated to the policies Mr. Trump’s base wants implemented. Second, his supporters purport to seek a restoration of American founding principles. This increasingly strains credulity. But if they profess constitutionalism, they should at least understand that it is more about process than policy. Constitutions depend on habits and traditions, not the momentary outcomes they produce. Mr. Trump’s upending of these customs, not his transient policies, will form the legacy that endures.

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