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Jan 30 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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Glen Greenwald and David Miranda: The far-right Bolsonaro movement wants us dead. But we will not give up

Demagogues rely on fear to consolidate power. But courage is contagious – that’s why we must join hands and fight back

Substantial media coverage over the last year, within Brazil and internationally, has been devoted to threats and attacks we each received, separately and together, due to our work – David’s as a congressman and Glenn’s as a journalist. These incidents have been depicted, rightfully so, as reflective of the increasingly violent and anti-democratic climate prevailing in Brazil as a result of the far-right, authoritarian, dictatorship-supporting movement of President Jair Bolsonaro, which consolidated substantial power in the election held at the end of 2018. [..]

When you live in a country where roughly half the population endured life under a military tyranny, you end up meeting many who risked so much to fight against it and fight for democracy. Brazil re-democratized in 1985 only after two decades of profoundly difficult struggle, protest, organizing and resistance. We personally know many people who were imprisoned or exiled for years for their fight against the dictatorship. Many of their friends and comrades were murdered by the military regime while they fought for the cause of Brazilian democracy.

Courage is contagious. Those are the people who inspire us and so many like us in Bolsonaro’s Brazil who are confronting state repression to defend the democracy that so many people suffered so much to bring about. Demagogues and despots like Bolsonaro are a dime a dozen. They centrally rely on intimidation, fear and the use of state repression to consolidate power. A refusal to give into that fear, but instead to join hands with those who intend to fight against it, is always the antidote to this toxin.

 
Elizabeth Holtzman: Alan Dershowitz willfully ignores the precedent of Nixon’s articles of impeachment

President Trump’s defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz — my professor at Harvard Law School — is flat-out wrong in his assertion that abuse of power is not a basis for impeachment. His position contradicts his own prior views, as well as the views of almost all legal scholars, something that Dershowitz himself admits. Just as important, his assertion flies in the face of the articles of impeachment voted against President Richard M. Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee — of which I was a member — in 1974. These articles did not charge Nixon with a crime, a fact Dershowitz willfully ignores.

Not one of the three articles adopted by the Judiciary Committee mentioned a criminal statute, charged Nixon with violating any criminal statute or described how his conduct met the standards set forth in any criminal statute.

It is not surprising that Dershowitz is trying to sweep the Nixon precedent under the rug. It completely demolishes his argument that a president may be impeached only for a criminal act. But it is wrong for Dershowitz to disregard that precedent and pretend it doesn’t exist, particularly because almost everyone agrees that the work of the Judiciary Committee against Nixon was a kind of gold standard — including Kenneth W. Starr, Dershowitz’s co-counsel in the Trump impeachment proceedings.

Even today, the Nixon precedent remains valid and powerful.

Karen Tumulty: Bolton is teaching Trump the difference between loyalty and fealty

There’s a big difference between loyalty and fealty:

Loyalty is the most perfect form of mutual respect. It is a bond that goes two ways, and that is why it endures.

Fealty, on the other hand, must be endured. It is based on power, and ends the moment the one who commands it no longer has a grip on the one who is shackled by it.

My colleague Ashley Parker notes that while President Trump has a fixation on loyalty, he seems to have a singular inability to inspire it. A management style based on bullying never does. [..]

His personal lawyer Alan Dershowitz carried that concept to its absurdist end on Wednesday when he argued the following during Trump’s impeachment trial: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly, you’re right. Your election is in the public interest. And if a president does something, which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

In other words, nothing Trump does is impeachable.

Given the fealty Trump demands from Republicans in the Senate, that might turn out to be true. His acquittal still appears to be a sure bet.

But the evidence of his unfitness to carry out the public trust will continue to emerge nonetheless. Bolton is not likely to be the last of those who step forward from the recesses of this White House to bear witness.

Tom Frieden: The next pandemic is coming. We’re not prepared for it.

As the coronavirus spreads beyond China, the world is asking, “Are we on the verge of our next global pandemic?” We can be sure the virus will continue to spread, but we can’t predict how far or for how long or how bad the impact will be.

Here’s what we know for certain: We are living the consequences of being underprepared for the next big global epidemic. If we act now, we can prevent or blunt future epidemics and save millions of lives. The question isn’t if another pandemic will emerge, but when.

We have successfully addressed serious public-health challenges. After the United States realized it was falling behind in biomedical research in 1998, we doubled the budget of the National Institutes of Health. When the world faced the unprecedented devastation of HIV, we created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and helped turn the tide on the disease, building bridges with governments and communities around the world.

But when it comes to avoidable health crises such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola and drug-resistant organisms, the U.S. and global response has been slow, haphazard and far too limited.

Amanda Marcotte: Give it up, media cowards — there’s no way to “both sides” impeachment

Yes, the parties are different: Republicans are lying and staging a cover-up, Democrats are fighting for the truth

Not that there was any doubt before, but it’s still stunning to see how the mainstream media’s addiction to false equivalences in the name of “balance” has withstood even the mightiest of trials, namely the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.

On Wednesday, America’s dumbest pundit, who is also among its most highly-paid, CNN’s Chris Cillizza, ejected this remarkably lazy tweet:

The “analysis” in his article was no better, accusing both parties of “reflexive partisanship” with no interest in “any sort of thoughtful conversation or debate.”

That analysis was only possible because Cillizza’s lack of self-awareness is so staggering that it can only be rivaled by that of Donald Trump himself. Nowhere does Cillizza actually note the content of the arguments, the persuasiveness of the arguments, or even any understanding of what those arguments might be. Physician, heal thyself — before accusing others of not being able to listen.

Of course, it’s screamingly obvious why Cillizza is ignoring all the actual content from Wednesday, in which senators were tasked with asking written questions of the House managers and Trump’s legal team on the question of whether to remove Trump from office. Any perusal of the actual content makes it hard, even for the mightiest of hacks, to maintain the illusion that “both sides” are morally equivalent.