Sep 05 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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Charles M. Blow: Stop Lying About Gun Control

Beto O’Rourke is rare among politicians for speaking honestly of wanting aggressive limits.

Beto O’Rourke has easily emerged as my favorite presidential candidate on the issue of gun control.

He has done so because he is speaking openly, passionately and honestly about what he would like to do to stem our epidemic of gun violence, a stance that is surprisingly rare in my estimation.

I long ago tired of hearing politicians who are supposed to be in favor of smarter gun laws and reducing American gun deaths and injuries pull their punches so as not to upset the gun lobby and gun lobbyists. [..]

Guns can be effectively and constitutionally regulated in this country. People who want to do so should be upfront and honest about how far they truly hope to go in that regard.

Paul Waldman: Trump’s border wall is now a monument to his failure

Donald Trump has failed at many things since becoming president, but none may be more glaring than his failure to build the wall he promised across the entirety of our southern border.

From the outset it was an idea both stupid and malign, but he was committed to it. Yet again and again, he tried to obtain funding for it, only to find that even many Republicans in Congress weren’t interested. He even shut down the government to get it, but failed then, too.

Until this February, when he declared a farcical “national emergency” as a way of circumventing the Constitution, which says that the executive branch may spend money only on things Congress has authorized. The administration will be taking funds from the military budget and using it to build 175 miles of new fencing and barriers at various points along the border. [..]

So as we embark on the 2020 presidential campaign, what does Trump’s wall represent? Does it, as he had hoped, represent power and manliness, a country reasserting control of its destiny, getting rid of all the no-good foreigners and keeping the rest of them out?

Hardly. The wall barely exists, and accomplishes none of what he promised. It’s a monument to Trump’s failure: his rancid appeals to xenophobia and racism, his grandiose dishonesty and his incompetence.

Arthur C. Brooks: Conspiracy theories are a dangerous threat to our democracy

Do you believe conspiracy theories? I generally don’t. I realize that high-level coverups have occurred, in business and government and the Catholic Church. But as a rule of thumb, I find most conspiracy theories violate former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski’s axiom, “History is much more the product of chaos than of conspiracy.” (Come to think of it, he would want us to believe that, wouldn’t he?)

Despite my skepticism, however, I believe there is a conspiracy afoot today among powerful people in U.S. politics and media to exploit some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. [..]

Why should we care? In a society based on the free flow of ideas, twisting information to create suspicion and rage among the powerless is morally akin to swindling poor people out of their savings. It is also a dangerous threat to a democratic society that requires trust and transparency to function.

If there is a true conspiracy afoot today, it is in the current paranoid style of American power, cynically wielded to manipulate the most vulnerable citizens.

Ross Barkan: Pence’s stay at Trump’s Irish hotel shows corruption has become routine

The president’s violations of the constitution’s emoluments clause prove the existing guardrails are no longer adequate

The danger of the Donald Trump presidency lies in how he can make the morally and ethically repugnant seem routine. The outrages pile up – the shredding of environmental regulations, the enabling of white supremacists – and Americans, used to a new normal, shrug and go about their day.

Outrage can be a finite resource. And in the annals of Trump’s wreckage of what was already a frail democracy, his vice-president staying in a Trump-branded hotel in Ireland this week won’t rate even a mention in a US history class 20 years from now. Mike Pence, loyal to the end, eschewed a Dublin hotel near the president of Ireland, whom he had traveled across the ocean to meet, for Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg, more than 140 miles away. [..]

The quid pro quo is standard operating procedure under Trump. A hack businessman of the first order and a former donor who used to try to curry favor with politicians himself, Trump knows of no other way to live his life.

What Trump has exposed is at least one fatal flaw in American democracy that the next president, Democrat or Republican, must seek to correct. The deranged, despotic and corrupted commander-in-chief is not well contained by the system we have, designed more than 200 years ago in a very different world. A president is beyond the conventional reaches of law, unable to be indicted or seriously challenged on any ethical issue.

Zoe Williams: Boris Johnson is a hostage in No 10. No wonder he fears a long contest

Now that Labour has refused to rise to the prime minister’s bait, his project lies cruelly exposed in all its absurdity

Boris Johnson’s strategy is coming apart. He had no plan for a deal. He promised not to call a general election. He feared the consequences of no deal. So in an ideal world, which is the only one he had planned for, he would have had an election forced upon him by Jeremy Corbyn.

Instead, he had to go to the House of Commons and ask for one under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which requires a two-thirds majority. His request was rejected, leaving him a hostage prime minister, with no meaningful option available that doesn’t lead him into the territory of compromise, which would jeopardise his offer: the man who beats the Brexit party by being even more uncompromising than them. [..]

Boris Johnson had one more legislative backstop (ha!), which was to rely on the Lords to slow things down, but Conservative peers have already signalled that they don’t intend to. He could bring an early election back to the Commons next week using a bill to repeal the Fixed Term Parliament Act, and win it on a simple majority, if the SNP voted with him, which they might.

For all his talk of Corbyn as a chicken (or, in his preferred public-schoolboy terminology, a “big girl’s blouse”), he is the one with everything to fear from a prolonged contest: his project works best when it is unchallenged, and even the briefest brush with parliamentary realities leaves it looking absurd. A prolonged contest will unmask its less pretty elements, exhaust his honeymoon and ready the forces ranged against him.