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.
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Gordon Adams, Lawrence B. Wilkerson and Isaiah Wilson III: Trump’s Border Stunt Is a Profound Betrayal of Our Military

A week before the midterm elections, the president of the United States announced he would deploy up to 15,000 active duty military troops to the United States-Mexico border to confront a menacing caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The soldiers would use force, if necessary, to prevent such an “invasion” of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president.

The public debate focused on secondary issues. Is there truly a threat to American security from an unarmed group of tired refugees and asylum seekers on foot and a thousand miles from the border? Even the Army’s internal assessment did not find this a very credible threat.

Tim Wu: We’ve settled on a shallow conception of democracy. And that’s dangerous

Over the last several decades, many in the west have come to accept a remarkably narrow concept of what the economy and a democracy are for. The economy exists to make us rich, or at least pay the bills. It’s thought to be working when the stock market and the GDP rise. Democracy is voting for someone who is “on your side”. The two are linked when you vote for someone who promises to make you rich, or at least cut your taxes.

At the risk of stating what has become obvious in recent years, this materialistic view of the economy and democracy is at best thin and at worst dangerous. Prolonged economic dissatisfaction and our thin conception of democracy have left behind a spiritual hole that has driven voters across the United States, Europe and South America into the arms of angry populists and nationalists who offer a new spiritualism based on the nation.

But there’s another, nearly lost, democratic tradition, in which the goals of a democracy and a worthy civilization are irreducibly linked to the healthy development of its citizens along social, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions. In this older conception, a great democracy is one that serves as a cauldron for the building of good character and the pursuit of a worthwhile life – one that includes but also goes beyond mere material security.

Jared Bernstein: Brexit and Trump: Easy answers to hard questions

I’ve watched with grim fascination as Britain’s beleaguered prime minister, Theresa May, tries to sell her plan for taking her country out of the European Union. To put it mildly, and in their terminology, it’s an epic cock-up.

On this side of the pond, President Trump’s return to his fearmongering, “American carnage” themes during our midterm elections was another grim reminder that we’re stuck with his dangerous, divisive ineptitude for at least another two years.

These two events are closely related, as in both cases, significant swaths of a dissatisfied electorate (though not a majority in this country) rejected “elitism,” globalization, urban hubs and we’re-in-this-together in the interest of restoring some version of former independence and perceived sovereign greatness. Anti-immigrant and racist motivations were a big part of the mix too, of course, but they should not obscure the point that many voters in both cases rejected a status quo that they viewed as unresponsive to their needs, values, beliefs and geographical preferences.

Rebeca Solnit: How many husbands control the votes of their wives? We’ll never know

Progressive organizer Annabel Park told the story that made me start to wonder. “I can’t stop thinking about this woman I met while doorknocking for Beto in Dallas,” Annabel wrote on social media a few days before the midterm elections.

“She lived in a sprawling low-income apartment complex. After I knocked a couple of times, she answered the door with her husband just behind her. She looked petrified and her husband looked menacing behind her. When I made my pitch about Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, her husband yelled, ‘We’re not interested.’ She looked at me and silently mouthed, ‘I support Beto.’ Before I could respond, she quickly closed the door.”

Annabel told me afterwards, “It’s been on my mind. Did she get beaten? That was my fear.”

Jill Richardson: Why the biggest Thanksgiving lie may be the turkey on your table

What could be more natural a pairing than turkey and Thanksgiving? For one day a year, we sit down with our family and friends to dine on thoroughly American, seasonal fare, just like the Pilgrims did, together with the Native Americans, when celebrating their first successful harvest.

Only, very little of that myth that we retell each year is true. Among the falsehoods are the turkeys who sit in the center of so many Thanksgiving tables — these birds bear very little relation to the turkeys the pilgrims would have enjoyed — if they did at all.