Jul 03 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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Dahlia Lithwick: Will Donald Trump’s Fourth of July Parade Break the Law?

The Hatch Act prevents the president from spending tax dollars on a political rally. Here’s what would turn his “parade” into an illegal act.

President Donald Trump is throwing himself a parade this week, complete with a flyover by the Navy’s Blue Angels and Air Force One, the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines standing by his side, and tanks that the District of Columbia emphatically does not want, although recent reporting suggests they will be parked and stationary, in an attempt to not destroy the roadways, as was originally planned. While historically, any Fourth of July celebration in Washington has been nonpartisan, this year the president will deliver a “Salute to America” address at the Lincoln Memorial. Perhaps he will spend it saluting America in a unifying and sober fashion, with no reference to his party, his enemies, or his reelection bid, but it seems much more likely that he will turn it into a Trump rally.

Putting aside for a moment the property damage and waste, the cost to a cash-strapped National Parks Service, and the horrifying authoritarian spectacle of a military tribute to one man’s ego, there is also the astronomical waste of taxpayers’ dollars to consider. USA Today spoke to a White House aide who estimated the cost to transport the tanks alone at $870,000; this helps explain how the cost of the scuttled military parade Trump wanted for 2018 added up to about $92 million. And while nobody will say precisely what amount taxpayers will be paying for this event, the government is currently detaining children at the southern border without access to toothbrushes, soap, socks, or their families.

Then, of course, there are the separate legal problems. CREW, the watchdog group that has been bird-dogging the administration on ethics violations, emoluments violations, and Hatch Act violations tweeted that it will be watching the “Salute to America” to determine whether the president will violate the Hatch Act when delivering his remarks.

Frank Bruni: Oh, to Be Ivanka!

So many hot spots, so little time.

Any random heiress can sunbathe in the Seychelles, ski in Aspen or, with the right Sherpa and thermal wear, ascend the Himalayas.

Only Ivanka has keepsakes from the Demilitarized Zone.

It must have been wild, finding herself next to an egomaniacal autocrat like that. It must have been something to meet Kim Jong-un, too.

With Daddy she swanned toward the Hermit Kingdom, testing the boundaries of Take Our Daughters to Work Day. I briefly wondered what value she was adding, because I foolishly prioritized the interests of America above the adventures of Ivanka. Optics be damned, she created a memory to last a lifetime. I trust that she and Jared, also gratuitously in attendance, will mention it in their holiday letter.

Oh, to be Ivanka! The clothes, the kids, the teeth, the entitlement. She goes everywhere because she belongs everywhere — that confidence is in her platinum-encrusted genes — and because there’s no corner of the world or cranny of existence that isn’t enhanced by her presence.

Harry Littman: How the liberal justices can break through the conservative hammerlock

Liberals have been anticipating a conservative hammerlock on the Supreme Court for at least 30 years. But it has been continually forestalled as Republican appointees such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and David Souter proved unwilling to cement conservative majorities in big-ticket cases. That made for high drama every June, as the last — and typically most contentious and meaningful — cases of the term were announced, and genuine suspense reigned.

Now, though, the sky finally has fallen for liberals, at least in terms of the big-ticket cases setting the contours of judicial power. The term just ended was the first of a new era — possibly to last 10 years or more — in which the court can be counted on to embrace a narrow view of its own authority — especially vis-a-vis the executive branch — and a skepticism toward its traditional role of protecting individual rights.

Thus, the 5-to-4 decision in the gerrymandering case — the most important decision of the year — surprised few people. It was the most dramatic repudiation of the court’s traditional role in protecting individual rights in recent memory. As Justice Elena Kagan noted in her powerful dissent, “For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”

And not just any constitutional violation, but a violation of core democratic rights that underpin basic participation on equal footing in the political system. In past terms, the court repeatedly telegraphed that it was struggling to find judicial limits on the most rank and cynical gerrymandering schemes. Now it purports to have closed the door on that possibility forever, even while acknowledging the schemes’ unconstitutionality. That is a sobering, even brutal, result.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: How House Democrats have made the most of their majority

The Democrats may control the House of Representatives, but how much is that majority really worth? After all, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) touts himself as the “grim reaper” for legislation passed by the House. President Trump scorns Democrats for not getting anything done, while blowing up negotiations on rebuilding U.S. infrastructure. House progressives revolt when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) folds to the Senate on emergency aid for the president’s border calamity. The media still fixates on impeachment, the special counsel and the Russians, instead of policies.

In fact, House Democrats are demonstrating what might be possible if voters decided to hand their party the Senate and White House. They’ve passed landmark legislation, convened critical hearings and begun to expose and check the pervasive corruption of the Trump administration. They’ve proved that voters would feel the difference if McConnell and Trump were not standing in the way.

Lloyd Green: This Fourth of July, Trump will star in a movie of his own making

Donald Trump won the presidency but never scored an Emmy for the Apprentice despite 15 seasons and 192 episodes. Come this Independence Day, however, the president will star in a movie of his own making.

On the Fourth of July, the president will produce and take center stage in his own remake of Gladiator, Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-winning tale of a debauched and self-venerating Roman emperor. Broadcast and filmed before a live audience from the Lincoln Memorial, Trump’s extravaganza looms as a cinematic production befitting his politics and persona. [..]

It’s not every day that Americans get to see mothballed Sherman tanks sitting under the 16th president’s marble gaze or America’s military forced to act as props for the commander-in-chief. Kim Jong-un, will you be watching?