Jul 29 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.

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Robert Reich: The Real Reason For Impeachment

In today’s political climate, the question of whether or not to impeach the President of the United States is often thought of in political terms.

But there is a much deeper concern at the heart of the question.

An impeachment inquiry in the House is unlikely to send Trump packing before Election Day 2020 because Senate Republicans won’t convict him. And it’s impossible to know whether an impeachment inquiry will hurt or help Trump’s chances of being reelected.

Does this mean impeachment should be off the table? No. There’s a non-political question that Congress should consider: Is enforcing the United States Constitution important for its own sake — even if it goes nowhere, even if it’s unpopular with many voters, even if it’s politically risky?

Every child in America is supposed to learn about the Constitution’s basic principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances.

But these days, every child and every adult in America is learning from Donald Trump that these principles are bunk. [..]

Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the other branches. Under these circumstances, the Constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate.

This may not be the political thing to do. But in order to safeguard our democracy, it is the right thing to do.


Charles M. Blow: The Rot You Smell Is a Racist Potus

Trump and his views are the real infestations in America.

It seems maddeningly repetitive to have to return time and again to the fact that Donald Trump is a racist, but it must be done. It must be done because it is a foundational character issue, one that supersedes and informs many others, in much the same way that his sexism and xenophobia does.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that Representative Elijah Cummings’s district “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” a “very dangerous & filthy place” and “No human being would want to live there.” Cummings is black, as are most people in his district.

This talk of infestation is telling, because he only seems to apply it to issues concerning black and brown people. He has sniped about the “Ebola infested areas of Africa.” He has called Congressman John Lewis’s Atlanta district “crime infested” as well as telling him to focus on “the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.” He has called sanctuary cities a “crime infested & breeding concept.” He has talked about how “illegal immigrants” will “pour into and infest our Country.” He has called the presence of the MS-13 gang members “in certain parts of our country” an “infestation.”

None of this is about crime as a discrete phenomenon, but rather about inextricably linking criminality to blackness. White supremacy isn’t necessarily about rendering white people as superhuman; it is just as often about rendering nonwhite people as subhuman. Either way the hierarchy is established, with whiteness assuming the superior position.


Jamelle Bouie: The Trump Strain in American History

White supremacy has its own peculiar logic, to which the president is peculiarly attuned.

President Trump has done nothing for his white working-class voters. His signature tax cut was a giveaway to powerful business interests and wealthy heirs. His trade wars have forced farmers into dire economic straits. His White House is more interested in cutting food stamps than lifting wages. The economy is growing and unemployment is low, but that has as much to do with the previous administration as it does with anything he’s done.

To obscure his indifference to these voters, Trump has turned up the heat on his racism. Two weekends ago, he attacked four congresswomen of color, telling them to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” And this past weekend, he went after Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, an African-American congressman from Baltimore. [..]

But I’m am not interested in dwelling on the particulars of the president’s prejudice. What I’m struck by is how Trump is explicitly operating in the old American political tradition of race baiting, which used to go by another name — of denouncing blacks, immigrants and other hated groups to win votes and turn attention from the actual material agendas at work. This type of politics dominated the South from the end of Reconstruction until the civil rights era, electing generations of Southern politicians, including now obscure but once infamous names like Senator James K. Vardaman of Mississippi (in office from 1913 to 1919), Senator Ellison (Cotton Ed) Smith of South Carolina (in office from 1909 to 1944) and Gov. Eugene Talmadge of Georgia (who served 1933 to 1937 and 1941 to 1943). This is not ancient history by any means.

You can find aspects of each man’s career in Trump’s approach to politics — the superficially populist rhetoric of Vardaman, the casual demagoguery of Smith and the corruption of Talmadge — but one figure, for me, stands out in particular: Ben (Pitchfork) Tillman of South Carolina.


Jonathan Capehart: In Trump’s America, the ‘basket of deplorables’ is overflowing

When you’re a person of color — whether in politics, journalism or regular life — you’re accustomed to folks demanding that you criticize or denounce people, especially if they look like you. Some of them deserve criticism for what they’ve said. (See Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.) Some of them aren’t worth the oxygen required of denunciation because they are marginal characters who don’t have any power. (See Louis Farrakhan.) But we do it because it is the moral and right thing to do.

Yet, the president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House oversight committee, and his Baltimore district, and there is virtual silence from the president’s supporters. The president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Omar and three other women of color elected to serve in the House of Representatives, and there is virtual silence. The president of the United States stands back for 13 seconds as his bread-and-circuses crowd brays “Send her back!” about Omar, and there is virtual silence. Actually, it’s worse than that. Excuses are made.

Simon Jenkins: No-deal Brexit was once a sick Tory joke. Now it’s serious

Boris Johnson is stepping up planning for a stunt that analysts agree invites economic disaster. Britain is playing with fire

in bombast and biceps-flexing. Boris Johnson is about to impose a massive economic sanction on his own country. He is playing with fire: it is a political stunt that has gone horribly wrong.

It is clearly reckless to assume a sensible Brexit deal before the due date of 31 October. Politicians can twiddle their thumbs, others cannot. Since March, the Tories decided collectively to stop working in the nation’s interest and play a game of chicken with Brussels. It has not worked. The government is now planning for crisis. [..]

Abrupt departure from Europe’s entire economic community was never put to the referendum. It is not the will of the UK’s now spineless parliament. It became a talisman of internal Tory machismo. It is a sick joke which, in business, would constitute criminal negligence.