Oct 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.

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: Trump’s Black College Spectacle

He was honored on the issue of criminal justice, where his record is shameful.

Donald Trump at Benedict College was beneath contempt.

Benedict College is a historically black college in Columbia, S.C. Trump spoke there on Friday at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum organized by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, a “group of over eighty African-American mayors, city, county and state officials, prosecutors and defense attorneys, political strategists, community leaders, activists, police chiefs and other law enforcement executives,” according to the group’s website.

The irony was that there are over 2,000 students at the school, yet only a handful were allowed to attend the event. The others were on lockdown, told to stay inside. Their lunches were delivered to them in their dorms.

The 20/20 group gave Trump its “Bipartisan Justice Award” for his signing of the First Step Act, criminal justice reform legislation which, among other things, allowed for the early release of a relatively small number of nonviolent federal inmates. The vast majority of inmates, however, are not federal, and therefore not affected by the law.

Still, for this group to give Trump an award of any type was an affront to anyone who has paid attention to his full record on criminal justice and to black people insisting on justice.

Elijah Cummings: We are in a fight for the soul of our democracy

This op-ed is adapted from a foreword that Cummings wrote July 17 for the forthcoming book, “In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic,” by Cedric L. Alexander.

As I pen these words, we are living through a time in our nation’s history when powerful forces are seeking to divide us one from another; when the legitimacy of our constitutional institutions is under attack; and when factually supported truth itself has come under relentless challenge.
I am among those who have not lost confidence in our ability to right the ship of American democratic life, but I also realize that we are in a fight — a fight for the soul of our democracy.

As an American of color, I have been able to receive an excellent public education, become an attorney, and serve my community and country in both the Maryland General Assembly and Congress because of one very important fact: Americans of conscience from every political vantage point took our Constitution seriously and fought for my right to be all that I could become.

Paul Krugman: Debt, Doomsayers and Double Standards

Selective deficit hysteria has done immense damage.

So the federal budget deficit just hit $1 trillion (actually $984 billion, but close enough). That’s about $300 billion more than the Congressional Budget Office was projecting in the summer of 2017, before the Trump tax cut was enacted. And basically everybody yawned.

Were there fiery speeches in Congress, denouncing fiscal irresponsibility? No. Was there intense media coverage? No — the story was tucked deep inside major newspapers. Was there severe market reaction? No — interest rates are substantially lower than they were before the deficit surge.

This lack of reaction to a deficit that would have been considered shocking only a few years ago is sort of the fiscal policy equivalent of Sherlock Holmes’s dog that didn’t bark in the night. It tells us a lot about economics, politics — specifically the utter hypocrisy of the G.O.P. — and the news media, which on economic matters has a de facto conservative bias.

Start with the economics.

Stephen I. Vladeck: Impeachment Does Not ‘Overturn’ an Election

The founders were extremely clear about the importance of dealing with the abuse of executive power.

As House Democrats ramp up their impeachment investigation into President Trump, an increasingly vocal charge from the president’s supporters (and the White House) is that the House is attempting to “overturn” the results of the 2016 election.

The charge is that impeaching and removing an elected president is illegitimate because it is anti-democratic — because the person the voters (or, at least in this case, the Electoral College) chose ends up out of office. This argument is silly — impeachment is in the Constitution as a way of dealing with the abuse of executive power.

But to fully understand why the charge is ludicrous, it may help to go back 219 years — to the origins of a constitutional provision that receives virtually no attention in contemporary discourse, the 12th Amendment. [..]

Checks and balances run in both directions. To that end, the Constitution’s drafters took away the vice president’s power to preside over presidential removal trials in the Senate (and gave it to the chief justice). And although a bare majority of the House has the power to impeach, the founders required a two-thirds vote of the Senate for removal — to ensure that a geographically representative supermajority agreed with the House’s determination that the president had engaged in misconduct that should disqualify him from office.

This is why impeachment and removal remain extraordinary remedies for extraordinary misconduct by the president of the United States. But the founders would have been appalled at the suggestion that such measures are illegitimate solely because their result would be that the president is no longer the president. If that didn’t faze them even when the result could have been to hand the presidency to the president’s rival, it certainly wouldn’t faze them today, when it would hand the presidency to the president’s own handpicked running mate.

Eugene Robinson: It’s Trump’s own fault that he was booed at the Nats game

It is President Trump’s own fault that he got so lustily booed at Game Five of the World Series in Washington Sunday night. When you publicly refer to people as “human scum,” they are likely to return the favor.

Trump looked surprised when his appearance at Nationals Park (where the dastardly Houston Astros won yet another game) was greeted with catcalls and chants of “Lock him up!” After all, earlier in the day he had announced the killing of Islamic State monster Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a daring U.S. Special Operations raid. Surely, he must have felt, he deserved kudos for that.

And indeed he does. Here they are: Sincere congratulations for ridding the world of a sadistic butcher who richly deserved his fate.

The problem is, though, that one battlefield success did not erase 33 months of presidential behavior that many, if not most, Americans consider outrageous and worthy of impeachment. The smile and wave that Trump offered those baseball fans did not rescind the vicious, snarling rhetoric he spews on a daily basis, including his recent description of Republicans who oppose him as “human scum.” The flicker of vulnerability that played across Trump’s face when he heard all the booing probably softened few hearts, if any.