Nov 07 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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Dahlia Lithwick: This Impeachment Won’t Be a Legal or Political Battle. It Will Be an Information War.

Republicans are willing to ignore what’s happening because they think they’ll get away with it. They might not be wrong.

For some time now, legal commentators have been trying to remind us that impeachment is not entirely a legal process but rather a political process dressed up in legal garb. Yes, there are facts to be gathered, and yes, there are impeachable offenses to be probed and proved, but in the final analysis, impeachment is a largely political enterprise, conducted by the political branches, for political ends. Sure, there is plenty of legal jargon and legal-sounding terms, and the White House is sputtering about “due process” as if this were a robbery trial and decrying the entire impeachment process as “the fruit from the poisonous tree,” as if Rep. Adam Schiff had searched Donald Trump’s glove compartment without a warrant. But to the extent Republicans are trying to dismiss the entire probe as unlawful, they are doing so by distorting relevant legal questions into political theater. They know this. That’s why they’re doing it.

Confusing and conflating the legal facts of impeachment with the political facts of impeachment is only the first step in the GOP effort to distort the impeachment process. The follow-up strategy is slowly emerging, and it’s as nihilistic as it is terrifying: The White House and Trump’s Republican defenders seem to understand that this is, at its heart, a messaging war. This is politics in the form of who dominates the airwaves. As such, the thrust of the new impeachment defiance will be to simply deny that any of it is happening in the first place. This isn’t an elaborate attempt to push back or to reframe or to counter the impeachment investigation; it’s a media tactic designed solely to deny its very existence. Wednesday’s revelation that Bill Taylor knew he was dealing with a quid pro quo should be the last nail in the bribery/abuse-of-power coffin. But it won’t be, because none of those concepts even figure in the Republican defense strategy.

Charles M Blow: Stop Blaming Black Homophobia for Buttigieg’s Problems!

Let’s put an end to this racist trope.

Reducing Pete Buttigieg’s struggle to attract black support solely to black homophobia is not only erroneous, it is a disgusting, racist trope, secretly nursed and insidiously whispered by white liberals with contempt for the very black people they court and need.

I have never been blind to this — the people who see black religiosity as an indicator of primitive thinking and lack of enlightenment.

(For the record, I am bisexual and not a religious man.) [..]

The latest round of blaming black homophobia for Buttigieg’s lackluster black support came last month when McClatchy obtained the report from a focus group the Buttigieg campaign had conducted with black voters.

According to McClatchy, the report found that “being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it. … [T]heir preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center.”

The second thing is that focus groups aren’t scientific surveys. As Liza Featherstone, author of “Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation,” has put it, “Focus groups are not a scientific and quantitative method of gathering knowledge.”

But none of that mattered. This fed a narrative that liberals — including some older black politicians and pundits — have nursed. A raft of articles was published. Social media posts started to fly.

Harry Litman: Yes, outing the whistleblower is against the law — but the law is toothless

President Trump’s defenders are pushing hard for disclosure of the identity of the intelligence community whistleblower, whose complaint about Trump’s call with the new president of Ukraine initiated the impeachment crisis. Outing the whistleblower would clearly violate the statute governing the complaint. But unfortunately there’s not much anyone can do about it. [..]

The protections afforded by the intelligence whistleblower act amount to a bare legal prohibition, and the law provides no real remedy against an improper outing; even if it did, it likely wouldn’t apply to the president or, between the First Amendment and the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, to members of Congress. And pursuing a civil claim against anyone outside the government would also be a heavy lift, because the legal duty not to disclose only runs to government officials.

That doesn’t mean naming the whistleblower would be any less reprehensible. But, in the absence of a muscular remedial structure, it is ultimately only respect for the legal mandate and a shared sense of the larger principle here that protects the whistleblower at this point. How long can that line hold?

Karen Tumulty: Republicans can only blame themselves for losing in Virginia

Tuesday night saw the completion of Virginia’s transformation from red to blue, as Democrats took control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.

The shift began a decade ago at the top of the ballot. Virginia voted for Republican presidential candidates in every race between 1968 and 2008, but it has not voted for one since.

Some of the forces at work were demographic: an influx of immigrants, a tech boom that brought a surge of highly educated and affluent residents to the northern suburbs.

But the wounds the Republicans have suffered have also been self-inflicted, as their party in Virginia was taken over by hard-line forces on the right. [..]

Rarely have we seen a state make such a rapid and definitive political transformation. It may not be a bellwether for what lies ahead nationally, but Republicans would do well to consider it a reminder that when the tide is rising, it’s a good idea to quit swimming against it.

Amanda Marcotte: No free pass for Republicans: They don’t get to pretend this nightmare never happened

Trump’s enablers are corrupt and evil — they don’t get to have an “epiphany” and move on after he leaves office

With the impeachment inquiry leveling up this month as public hearings begin, and with an election that might actually be the end of Donald Trump now less than a year away, the campaign to let Trump’s Republican allies — even the most villainous offenders — move on and pretend this never happened is already underway.

Sadly, the clearest articulation of the let-bygones-be-bygones mentality has come from a Democrat — unsurprisingly, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden, who is still, somehow, the frontrunner in Democratic primary polling, spoke at a chi-chi fundraiser on Wednesday, and dropped this pearl of wisdom: “With Donald Trump out of the way, you’re going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany.”

The people Biden is talking about, let us remember, are not only fully capable adults, but people who believe they are qualified and deserving national leaders. They’re not a bunch of adolescents who are just going through a temporary goth-libertarian phase or whatever. But there’s no doubt that many Republicans are taking stock of the current political situation, in which Trump is daily cementing his historical legacy as the most embarrassing president ever elected, and plotting how to escape any and all reputational accountability for their role in our current national nightmare.