Oct 15 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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Paul Krugman: God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator

Bigotry, both racial and religious, is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation. [..]

Consider for a moment how inappropriate it is for Barr, of all people, to have given such a speech. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no business denouncing those who exercise that freedom by choosing not to endorse any religion.

Michelle Goldberg: Ukraine Has Become a Vibrant Democracy. No Wonder Trump Hates It.

As America joins the axis of autocrats, Ukrainians fear being left alone to face Russia.

When the Ukrainian autocrat Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia after a popular uprising in 2014, thousands of citizens poured into Mezhyhirya, his 340-acre estate on the outskirts of Kiev. [..]

Astonishingly, there was little looting. Instead, Mezhyhirya was preserved as a sort of memorial to the corruption Ukrainians have endured. Its grounds are a park where families stroll; on a visit there last week, I saw a newly married couple posing for pictures. For about $20, a veteran of the revolution will take visitors on a tour of the main house, carefully pointing out every luxurious detail financed with public money.

Mezhyhirya is a reminder of how far the country has come in the five and a half years since what Ukrainians call the Revolution of Dignity. Certainly, Ukraine has manifold problems, but today it’s a remarkably vibrant, multiethnic democracy in a region full of aggressive nationalism and authoritarian backsliding. That makes it all the more contemptible that Donald Trump has leveraged American support for Ukraine to try to make its new president open investigations that would help Trump politically. Ukraine is a country struggling to transcend its history of corruption, and Trump has tried to make it behave more corruptly.

Charles M. Blow Trumpism’s Infinite Vulgarities

Republicans have come to accept what they once professed to abhor.

The terrains of acceptability and respectability have shifted under the American conservative.

That which was once forbidden is now embraced. That which they once condemned they cheer. Conservatism has been unveiled in all its craven glory. No longer is it shrouded behind morality, small government, traditional values and spending concerns.

President Trump is the new doctrine, and Republicans bought it. There is no amount of cruelty or crudeness he can display that Republicans won’t cheer and defend. His corruption has become theirs.

And, it is possible that Trump is growing bolder in his coarseness, and it is revealed that there is precious little that will shake loose his base and its blind devotion to him.

Eugene Robinson: What can a black person do to keep from getting killed by police in this country?

This is a serious question: What can a black person do to keep from getting killed by police in this country?

Driving-while-black has long been potentially a capital offense, as witnessed by the case of Philando Castile, who was shot to death. Driving-while-black got Walter Scott Tasered, but it was running-away-while-black that got him fatally shot in the back. Walking-while-black is what attracted attention to Michael Brown, who was also shot to death. Standing-while-black was enough to get Eric Garner choked to death.

Now it appears that staying-home-while-black is also such a threatening activity that might kill you for it.

That is what happened last year to Botham Jean, who was sitting in his Dallas apartment when off-duty officer Amber Guyger burst in and killed him. And it’s what apparently happened Saturday to Atatiana Jefferson, who was playing video games with her nephew in her Fort Worth home when a officer fired through a window and shot her dead.

Catherine Rampell: Is this Barr’s cry for help?

On Friday, in a closed-door speech at the University of Notre Dame, Attorney General William P. Barr talked at length about a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.”

The alleged perpetrator of this campaign?

“Militant secularists,” who insist upon keeping government institutions free from the influence of any faith or creed.

To be clear: This was not merely an affirmation — delivered by a devout Catholic, while visiting a Catholic university — of how privately taught religious values can contribute to character development or stronger communities.

No. This appeared to be a tacit endorsement of theocracy.[..]

There are two ways to read these remarks, which were one of three speeches by administration officials in recent days on Christianity’s role in U.S. governance.

One reaction: They’re terrifying. This man who swore to uphold the Constitution has apparently forgotten its prohibition on state establishment of religion. Our nation’s chief law enforcement officer — the person ultimately responsible for ensuring equal treatment under the law — appears to be demonizing anyone who does not share his religious and political values.

But there’s also another, more encouraging way to interpret Barr’s comments: Maybe it was all just one giant, coded subtweet of the boss.