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Jul 06 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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Joe Biden: Trump erodes America’s foundation. This Fourth of July, I pledge to rebuild it.

There has always been a push and a pull between our founding ideals and the forces of inequality. But today is a celebration of our persistent march toward greater justice.

The Fourth of July commemorates a courageous, extraordinary day, when the architects of our nation laid the first stone in the foundation of American democracy. In the nearly two and a half centuries since, our Independence Day has come to stand not only for that timeless bedrock, but also for every brick, beam and pillar Americans have marched and bled to build atop it. [..]

To ensure that our democratic values are able to rise to new heights, I will take decisive steps to strengthen our foundation. That means immediately reversing Trump’s cruel and counterproductive asylum, travel ban, and family separation policies — and reaffirming our innate identity, reflected in our Constitution and emblazoned in the Statue of Liberty, as a nation of immigrants. It means fighting for — not conspiring against — the independence of our judiciary and the freedom of our press. It means rooting out systemic racism from every area of society it infects — from unfairly administered COVID-19 recovery funds, to laws that perpetuate racial wealth gaps, to health disparities, to housing policy, to policing, to our justice system and everywhere in between.

We must demonstrate to the world that the United States stands ready to lead again, not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. That example — of a broad and broadening commitment to democracy — can and must be the most powerful force of influence in the world. November’s election will decide whether we will leave the house of democracy built by generations of architects and activists to decay, or whether we will come together as one nation to build it up, stronger and higher than it has ever been before.

Charles M. Blow: ‘Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil’

For Trump, the truth about patriarchal white supremacy defiles the American heroes who practiced it.

As Donald Trump gave his race-baiting speeches over the Fourth of July weekend, hoping to rile his base and jump-start his flagging campaign for re-election, I was forced to recall the ranting of a Columbia University sophomore that caught the nation’s attention in 2018.

In the video, a student named Julian von Abele exclaims, “We built the modern world!” When someone asks who, he responds, “Europeans.” [..]

Von Abele later apologized for “going over the top,” saying, “I emphasize that my reaction was not one of hate” and arguing that his remarks were taken “out of context.” But the sentiments like the one this young man expressed — that white men must be venerated, regardless of their sins, in spite of their sins, because they used maps, Bibles and guns to change the world, and thereby lifted it and saved it — aren’t limited to one college student’s regrettable video. They are at the root of patriarchal white supremacist ideology.

To people who believe in this, white men are the heroes in the history of the world. They conquered those who could be conquered. They enslaved those who could be enslaved. And their religion and philosophy, and sometimes even their pseudoscience, provided the rationale for their actions.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Re-election Message Is White Grievance

Republicans in D.C. just pretend not to see it.

A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican source told Reuters. “He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,” said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency.

It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is “white power.”

The president started this week by tweeting out a video that encapsulates the soul of his movement. In it, a man in The Villages, an affluent Florida retirement community, shouts, “White power!” at protesters from a golf cart bedecked with Trump signs. “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” wrote Trump. Only after several hours and a panic among White House staffers did the president delete the tweet.

His spokesman claimed he hadn’t heard his supporter’s extremely clear words. Trump, naturally, never disavowed them.

Jennifer Rubin: Even whites — except the right-wing media profiteers — are abandoning Trump

The right-wing industrial complex — from red-state members of Congress who willingly carried water for Vladimir Putin during the impeachment hearings, to the talk radio hosts and pundits who rationalize whatever spittle President Trump emits, to the pseudo-intellectuals who thought “states’ rights” were a benign justification for Jim Crow — will not give up on Trump. Their audiences and donor base are in Trump’s thrall, so the Trump enablers (who might masquerade as anti-anti-Trump Republicans) can continue to lamely reinterpret Trump’s racist tweets and ignore what they cannot explain away.

In the meantime, the rest of the country seems finally to have had enough. The latest Gallup poll finds that “Trump’s approval rating is holding steady at a lower level after a sharp drop in late May and early June, with 38% of Americans currently approving of the job he is doing.” Since May, his approval rating has dropped 11 points. Now, “the current 89-point difference between Republicans’ and Democrats’ ratings of Trump is the largest partisan gap Gallup has ever measured for a presidential approval rating in a single survey.”

Even more striking, Trump has frittered away support from reliable segments of the Republican coalition. “Trump now has approval ratings below the majority level among groups that are typically more favorable to him, including non-Hispanic white Americans, men, older Americans, Southerners and those without a college degree.” He is in positive territory only with non-college-educated white males. He does not even have white non-college-educated women in his corner.

What is interesting is that the poll collapse occurred between June 8 and June 30, before the soaring coronavirus rates were fully recognized. June was the month of Black Lives Matter protests, the fallout from the assault on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, the refusal to remove Confederate names from military bases and Trump’s staunch objection to taking down Confederate statues erected during the Jim Crow era. It was a month of cultural — really, racial — warfare. And Trump, it seems, has lost decisively.

Catherine Rampell: Trump decries ‘cancel culture’ — but no one embraces it more

In a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore on the eve of Independence Day, President Trump railed against “cancel culture” and the left’s supposed wholesale embrace of totalitarianism (err, “toe-tally-terrio-tism”). He accused his political opponents of “shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees,” arguing that such behavior has “absolutely no place in the United States of America.”

Unfortunately, no other American has spent more time, energy and (taxpayer) resources trying to cancel dissent and enforce submission than Trump. Here are just a few of the ways that Trump has used or tried to use the powers of his office to punish critics and perceived enemies:

1. He has weaponized antitrust powers against a media organization whose coverage he dislikes.

Trump repeatedly ordered subordinates to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, which owns CNN. [..]

2. He has threatened to “revoke” licenses of media organizations whose coverage he dislikes. [..]

3. Since the Federal Communications Commission won’t go along with his instructions to “revoke” media licenses for specific news organizations, Trump has also urged his followers to cancel subscriptions to the cable company that owns the news organization in question. [..]

4. He has weaponized the U.S. Postal Service against the owner of a media organization he dislikes (The Washington Post, which is personally owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos).

Trump has made no secret of his desire to use the Postal Service to raise costs for Amazon, even if doing so might ultimately cause more pain for USPS. [..]

5. Trump has allegedly weaponized the government procurement process against the owner of a news organization he doesn’t like (also The Post and Bezos).

According to an October 2019 memoir by a senior aide to former defense secretary Jim Mattis, Trump in 2018 “called and directed Mattis to ‘screw Amazon’ by locking them out of a chance to bid” on a lucrative contract to build the Pentagon’s cloud architecture. [..]

6. He has repeatedly accused a TV host he dislikes of murder, with zero evidence.

7. He has fired from one job, and blocked from promotion, a national security official whose speech he dislikes. [..]

8. The president, other government officials and Trump family members have tried to block publication of books critical of the president. [..]

9. Trump has demanded pledges of allegiance to him personally and blocked from jobs people who have ever said anything critical of him. [..]

10. He has encouraged or tacitly condoned violence against protesters, journalists and dissidents. [..]

11. He gassed peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stage a photo op with a Bible.

Quite literally — and forcibly — canceling dissent.