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Jan 23 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Trevor Timm: Brazil’s charges against Glenn Greenwald reek of authoritarianism

The move to retaliate against Greenwald, who has reported critically on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, is a threat to the press everywhere

In a shocking attack on press freedom, the Brazil’s rightwing government announced on Tuesday it was charging the journalist Glenn Greenwald with “cybercrimes” in relation to his reporting on the Bolsonaro administration and corruption within its ranks.

Thankfully, as of now, Greenwald remains free; a federal judge must affirm the charges before he is officially indicted. But make no mistake: this move by the Brazilian government is an outrageous attempt to retaliate against a journalist who has reported critically on Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro; its justice minister, Sergio Moro; and their allies – and it reeks of authoritarianism.

Journalists everywhere should be disturbed by what this means for press freedom in the world’s fifth-largest country.

Noah Bookbinder: The American People Are Being Scammed by Mitch McConnell

Senators have a duty to conduct a fair and full trial. The Republican leader is trying to make sure they can’t.

The removal of a sitting president is the last line of defense provided by the framers of the Constitution against the abuse of power by the leader of our country. When senators take an oath to uphold the Constitution, they assume the grave responsibility to conduct a thorough and fair trial on behalf of the American people.

Dismissing this process set out in the Constitution, President Trump has called the impeachment process a “scam.” That’s his opinion, of course — but this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to ensure that the Senate trial actually is a scam.

An impeachment trial is only meaningful if the American people can have confidence in the fairness of the process; only then will the trial’s verdict be worthy of respect. Mr. McConnell is advocating trial procedures that would undercut any possibility of that.

Jamelle Bouie: The Iconic Man With a Gun Is a White Man

Protesters in Virginia were re-enacting — and re-embracing — an exclusionary vision of American history.

RICHMOND, Va. — Around 22,000 people came here on Monday to protest potential new restrictions on guns under consideration by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Most of the protesters were outside the grounds of the State Capitol, and most appeared to be carrying weapons: handguns, shotguns, carbines and semiautomatic rifles. There were armed men in camouflage and military-style equipment threatening insurrection if the state’s elected representatives acted contrary to their wishes. [..]

As I watched the rally, it was impossible not to think through counterfactuals. What if these were left-wing protesters instead? Twenty-two thousand members of the Democratic Socialists of America, armed and threatening insurrection if the Commonwealth of Virginia didn’t establish a system for single-payer health care. How would the state authorities react? Would they give them a wide berth or would they assume hostile intent?

What if this were 22,000 black nationalists, similarly armed, similarly enraged at the prospect of gun control? Would the police have had the same light touch, watching and listening but allowing events to unfold? Or would they have gone into overdrive with riot gear and armored vehicles, aggressive tactics and a presumption of criminality?

We know the answer. In Virginia and many of the 30 other states that allow open carry, Americans have a right to mass, armed protest. But that right, and the right to bear arms in general, is informed by the settler history of the American nation and structured by hierarchies of race and gender, despite our collective pretense to universalism. Or put another way, every American has a right to gun ownership, but the paradigmatic gun owner is still a white man.

 
Paul Waldman: From torture to Trump, Republicans no longer even pretend they have principles

President Trump is on trial in the Senate, but so is the entire Republican Party. And 1,300 miles away in Guantanamo there’s another trial taking place, one that implicates the GOP just as much.

In these two trials we can see the complete moral wreckage of their party, and how they’ve carried the country down with them.

What does the trial of a group of alleged terrorists have to do with impeachment? When seen from the perspective not of one president but of what Republicans ask all of us to accept and how they frame their own moral culpability, they are waypoints on the same devolutionary road.[..]

The story of the Republican embrace of torture reminds us that Trump didn’t create the moral vacuum that lies within the GOP. He exploited it to get elected and counts on it to survive, but it was there before. And their pathetic sycophancy toward him shows that there are absolutely no actions they will not defend, even those done for the worst possible reasons.

Remember that when every Republican in the Senate votes to acquit Trump of the charges against him.

Andrew Gawthorpe: Republicans have turned the impeachment trial into a dangerous sham

The trial in the Republican-controlled US Senate is only going to tear up restraints on the would-be authoritarian White House

It is overly generous to refer to what is unfolding in the US Senate this week as a “trial”. There are not many trials in which it is clear at the outset that the defendant is guilty but that he will nevertheless be cleared of all charges. And while we might be tempted to say that it is not Donald Trump but America’s system of checks and balances that is on trial in the Senate this week, that isn’t true either. That trial was likewise already over before the action in the Senate even began, the result just as horrific. [..]

With the complicity of the Republican Senate majority, Trump is hence claiming the right to violate even this most basic requirement of his office, and to vastly expand what constitutes acceptable presidential conduct. While previous presidents tended to seek incremental increases in presidential power in service of what they believed, rightly or wrongly, to be the common good, Trump does the exact opposite. He seeks not just one particular new power but complete freedom from scrutiny for his conduct, and he does so in service not of any plausible national interest but rather purely to shield himself from the consequences of his abuses of power.

Trump appears to give little thought to his actions, but McConnell does. Just as he decided that refusing to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland was worth imperiling the legitimacy of the supreme court, now he has decided that the political survival of Donald Trump is worth creating the precedent that future presidents do not have to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”. The only remedy is to channel public anger into a Democratic seizure of the Senate, and remake a broken institution as an instrument of the public good rather than a rubber-stamp legislature for the would-be authoritarian in the White House. If you want to see the consequences of failing to do so, just tune into the “trial”.