Aug 14 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.

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Paul Krugman: Trump’s Racist, Statist Suburban Dream

Racial inequality wasn’t an accident. It was an ugly political choice.

Conservatives do love their phony wars. Remember the war on Christmas? Remember the “war on coal”? (Donald Trump promised to end that war, but in the third year of his presidency coal production fell to its lowest level since 1978, and the Department of Energy expects it to keep falling.)

Now, as the Trump campaign desperately searches for political avenues of attack, we’re hearing a lot about the “war on the suburbs.”

It’s probably not a line that will play well outside the G.O.P.’s hard-core base; Joe Biden and Kamala Harris don’t exactly come across as rabble-rousers who will lead raging antifa hordes as they pillage America’s subdivisions.

Yet it is true that a Biden-Harris administration would resume and probably expand on Obama-era efforts to finally make the Fair Housing Act of 1968 effective, seeking in particular to redress some of the injustices created by America’s ugly history of using political power to create and reinforce racial inequality. [..]

And it’s very important to understand that none of the scare talk about a war on the suburbs has anything to do with the usual conservative rhetoric about “freedom” and not having the government tell Americans what to do. Individual choices and free markets aren’t what made America such a segregated, unequal society. Discrimination was a statist policy, involving the exercise of political power to deny people free choice.

And it still goes on. What the Black Lives Matter movement has done is to reveal to many white Americans that we’re still a long way from being a society in which everyone is treated equally by the law, whatever the skin color. (Black Americans already knew that very well.)

Jamele Bouie: Black Like Kamala

Republican efforts to deny Senator Harris’s identity as an African-American and turn her into a noncitizen are destined to fail.

It was probably inevitable that Kamala Harris becoming Joe Biden’s running mate would result in controversy over her heritage.

Harris, whose mother emigrated from India and whose father emigrated from Jamaica, is a woman of Tamil and African ancestry who identifies as Black. That’s why, after Biden’s announcement, she was described as the first Asian-American and African-American woman on a major-party presidential ticket. [..]

Because of heritage, upbringing and the realities of American racism, Harris calls herself Black and is also understood as Black by people within and outside the Black community.

Her story illustrates the basic truth that “Black America” is a multitude. There has never been some essential element to blackness, no singular quality or attribute that makes someone a Black American. But there is always a context: the context of one’s heritage, the context of one’s community and the context of American racism.

Amanda Marcotte: Forget ads, speeches, poll numbers — this election will be determined by whether Trump can steal it

Trump’s efforts to steal the election by sabotaging the post office will work, unless we focus on stopping him

I’m as big a political junkie as they come. I love reading polls, monitoring their day-to-day fluctuations, like a fantasy sports bettor studying blocks of player stats. I not only watch politicians give speeches, I engage in blow-by-blow commentary by my fellow junkies on Twitter. I got caught up in this election’s “veepstakes” and debating the various women under consideration by former Vice President Joe Biden as his future vice president, and it was satisfying to share my thoughts on the final choice, Sen. Kamala Harris of California. I’ve faithfully watched every episode of Crooked Media’s YouTube series analyzing various campaign ads.

God help me, I even like the Lincoln Project ads.

But indulging my desires these days always comes with a side dose of existential dread. Ads, speeches, campaign strategy — all the usual detritus of a normal political cycle — are minor concerns in the face of the only story that really matters right now: Donald Trump is trying to destroying the U.S. Postal Service in order to keep votes by mail from being delivered on time and counted.

This election, at the end of the day, is coming down to one single question: Will Trump be able to steal it?

Or will the voters rally and find a way to keep Trump from destroying our ability to vote?

Robert Reich: Robert Reich on Betsy DeVos’ deadly plan to reopen schools

Just like her boss in the Oval Office, DeVos been hard at work shafting working families to advance her agenda

Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos is heading the administration’s effort to force schools to reopen in the fall for in-person instruction. What’s her plan to reopen safely? She doesn’t have one.

Rather than seeking additional federal funds, she’s using this pandemic to further her ploy to privatize education — threatening to withhold federal funds from public schools that don’t reopen.

Repeatedly pressed by journalists during TV appearances, DeVos can’t come up with a single mechanism or guideline for reopening schools safely. She can’t even articulate what authority the federal government has to unilaterally withhold funds from school districts — a decision that’s made at the state and local level, or by Congress. But when has the Constitution stopped the Trump administration from trying to do whatever it wants?

DeVos is following Trump’s lead — prematurely reopening the economy, which he sees as key to his re-election but is causing a resurgence of the virus. […]

Now, in the middle of the worst public health crisis in more than a century, she’s jeopardizing the safety of our students, teachers, parents, bus drivers, and custodians, while rerouting desperately needed public school funds towards the private schools she’s always championed.

Remember, when you vote against Trump this November — you’re voting against her, too. It’s a win-win.

Karen Tumulty: The birthers are back

Well, that didn’t take long.

A non-White American citizen born right here in the United States has gotten a spot on the Democratic presidential ticket, and the birthers have come scurrying out from whatever rock they have been living under since Barack Obama left office.

Within hours of former vice president Joe Biden’s announcement Wednesday of his history-making running mate, once-reputable Newsweek posted a story posing “Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility.”

The author, John Eastman, a conservative law professor, wrote that “some” are “questioning” whether Harris might be “constitutionally ineligible” to be vice president because, should she have to step into the presidency, she might not meet the Constitution’s Article II requirement that this country’s chief executive be a “natural born” citizen. [..]

Harris is the daughter of immigrants. Her father (from Jamaica) and her mother (from India) were not citizens at the time of her birth in 1964. A birth that — Have I mentioned this? Stay with me here, because this is important — happened in Oakland, Calif., which was then and is now in the United States of America. That means Harris was a U.S. citizen from the first second of her life.

The theoretical and esoteric question of whether first-generation Americans are eligible to be president is booted around from time to time in law-professor circles. It’s something of a parlor game, rooted in case law from the 19th century. In the real world, it is made moot by history: At least a half-dozen U.S. presidents have been the sons of immigrants, a possibility that is actually part of the American Dream of opportunity that has lured people to our shores for centuries.

But — funny coincidence — it seems to arise in modern presidential politics only when the candidate in question is a non-White Democrat.