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Sep 04 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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Thomas B. Edsal: The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything Else

Political nihilism is one of the president’s strongest weapons

Over the four years during which he has dominated American political life, nearly three of them as president, Donald Trump has set a match again and again to chaos-inducing issues like racial hostility, authoritarianism and white identity politics.

Last week, at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, the winner of the best paper award in the Political Psychology division was “A ‘Need for Chaos’ and the Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies.”

The paper, which the award panel commended for its “ambitious scope, rigor, and creativity,” is the work of Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen, both political scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark, and Kevin Arceneaux, a political scientist at Temple.

It argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to “chaos incitement” and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media. [..]

A political leader who thrives on chaos, relishes disorder and governs on the principle of narcissistic self-interest is virtually certain to find defeat intolerable. If voters deny Trump a second term, how many of his most ardent supporters, especially those with a “need for chaos,” will find defeat unbearable?

James Butler: Boris Johnson Loses to Democracy

The prime minister is effectively at war with the Parliament for which he once promised to “take back control.”

Boris Johnson has begun with defeat.

Legislators voted last night to seize control of Parliament, alarmed by the prime minister’s insistence that he will take Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31, even if no deal with the bloc has been reached. On Wednesday, opposition legislators and rebels from Mr. Johnson’s own party will try to pass a law mandating the prime minister to ask for an extension to the deadline if he still has no deal.

It promises to be a week of high political drama in Westminster — and the culmination of over two years of intricate tactical maneuvers and procedural minutiae that have marked British politics.

Time is so short because Mr. Johnson last Wednesday “prorogued” parliament, mothballing it for five weeks from next week: If the bill fails to become law by that point, it automatically falls. The unusual length of the suspension has already occasioned protests across Britain. Demonstrators called it a “coup,” and the speaker of the House of Commons called it a “constitutional outrage.”

Yet on Tuesday night, with Parliament having again flexed its long dormant democratic muscle, it was Mr. Johnson who looked isolated. Furious, he vowed to seek new elections, and stripped the whip from all his rebels — including prominent party grandees — effectively barring them from running again as Conservative candidates.

The conflict has laid bare deep tensions in Britain’s democracy — between the prime minister and Parliament, and between the people and the politics that claims to represent them.

Britain’s Parliament is anomalous. Having failed to sustain its 17th-century deposition of the monarchy, and having been the imperial power rather than the colonized one, Britain has never had a founding constitutional moment. Instead its democracy has evolved within an accreted mass of archaic institutions, including an unelected upper chamber that was until the late 20th century composed of hereditary aristocrats. This grandeur itself has sometimes been thought to be a powerful conservative influence: The Labour politician Nye Bevan once wrote it “lies like an Alp” on the mind of a new member of Parliament.

 
Kate Aranof: How much destruction is needed for us to take climate change seriously?

Whether human civilization stays intact amid this worsening weather depends on recognizing our shared humanity – and designing policy accordingly

News of Hurricane Dorian’s first casualty came early on Monday morning from the Bahamas Press. A seven-year old boy named Lachino Mcintosh drowned as his family attempted to find safer ground than their home on the Abaco islands. Dorian is reportedly the strongest hurricane to have ever hit the Bahamas and the second most powerful Atlantic storm on record. Five deaths have been reported so far, and more are likely. The Bahamian MP and minister of foreign affairs, the Honorable Darren Henfield, offered a bleak update form the area he represents to reporters: “We have reports of casualties, we have reports of bodies being seen.”

Rising temperatures don’t make hurricanes more frequent, but they do help make them more devastating. Each of the last five years have seen Category 5 storms pass through the Atlantic, brewed over hotter than usual waters. How many more people have to die before political leaders treat climate change like the global catastrophe it is?

Jill Richardson: Get Ready for Unnatural Disasters This Hurricane Season

The Trump administration is moving money away from disaster relief to lock up more immigrants.

Donald Trump discusses immigration as if the benefits of residence in the U.S. are a pie. When immigrants get more, the people who were already here get less.

In general, that’s not true. When immigrants come here, they don’t just take some jobs (often low-wage jobs U.S. citizens don’t want), they also create new jobs. They need housing, transportation, food, and clothes, and they buy all of those things, creating more jobs for other people in this country.

However, in one way, Trump is turning his viewpoint into a self-fulfilling prophecy: He’s using our finite government funds to pay for incarcerating immigrants in detention facilities, which means he’s shifting that money away from other uses that could benefit the American people.

In that sense, it’s not immigrants who are taking from us. It’s Trump.

For example, disaster relief. Trump’s using over $100 million in federal disaster aid money to pay for detention centers for immigrants — even as hurricane season gets underway.

Does that worry him? Apparently not. [..]

Rather than spending tax dollars needed for actual threats to national security on detaining immigrants, we need comprehensive and humane immigration reform that keeps families together. Then we can use our money on what we actually need, like disaster relief.

Michael Winship: Please Shut Up, Mr. President, and Read Some Books

EB White and James Thurber could teach Trump—and us—a thing or two.

Amidst a roiling hurricane and another fusillade of Texas gunshots, like many, I was struck by a statement in the new memoir, Call Sign Chaos, written by former Trump Defense Secretary James Mattis with former Reagan Assistant Defense Secretary Bing West. Both men began their careers of public service as US Marines.

They write, “If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.”

Strong words. Mattis manages to avoid almost any mention by name of our you-know-who-in-chief but the implication is clear. The president is, to use the clinical term, a know-nothing dingdong with no sense of history or perspective because, among other reasons, he doesn’t read. I know, he’ll tell you he doesn’t have to because of his “very, very large brain.”

Believe me, he has to.