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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Ilhan Omar: We must apply our universal values to all nations. Only then will we achieve peace.

Since I began my first term in Congress, I have sought to speak openly and honestly about the scale of the issues our country faces — whether it is ending the crippling burden of student debt, tackling the existential threat of climate change or making sure no one in one of the richest countries in the world dies from lack of health care. As a survivor of war and a refugee, I have also sought to have an honest conversation about U.S. foreign policy, militarism and our role in the world. [..]

I believe in an inclusive foreign policy — one that centers on human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, one that brings our troops home and truly makes military action a last resort. This is a vision that centers on the experiences of the people directly affected by conflict, that takes into account the long-term effects of U.S. engagement in war and that is sincere about our values regardless of short-term political convenience.

Karen Tumulty: Happy birthday, C-SPAN. We need you more than ever.

Precisely at noon on March 19, 1979, six newly installed video cameras went live in the gallery of the House chamber for the first time. Washington was never the same.

That broadcast, about to mark its 40th anniversary, launched the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network.

C-SPAN is now such a ubiquitous presence in the capital that it is easy to forget how radical an idea it was. The network not only gave citizens thousands of miles away their first real-time, unfiltered look at how government works; it also upended the balance of power in the marble corridors of Capitol Hill. [..]

The network, which can now be seen in more than 90 million households, still gives us daily proceedings from the House and Senate chambers. It also lets us hear important issues explored in committee rooms, helps us size up candidates on the campaign trail, engages us with book authors and saves a seat for us at think-tank roundtables. It challenges us to think for ourselves, without the clatter of punditry.

So happy birthday, C-SPAN. We need you more than ever.

Robert Kagan: The strongmen strike back

Authoritarianism has reemerged as the greatest threat to the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. And we have no idea how to confront it.

We believed that “traditional” autocratic governments were devoid of grand theories about society and, for the most part, left their people alone. Unlike communist governments, they had no universalist pretensions, no anti-liberal “ideology” to export. Though hostile to democracy at home, they did not care what happened beyond their borders. They might even evolve into democracies themselves, unlike the “totalitarian” communist states. We even got used to regarding them as “friends,” as strategic allies against the great radical challenges of the day: communism during the Cold War, Islamist extremism today.

Like so many of the theories that became conventional wisdom during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, however, this one was mistaken. Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the greatest challenge facing the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. Or, more accurately, it has reemerged, for authoritarianism has always posed the most potent and enduring challenge to liberalism, since the birth of the liberal idea itself. Authoritarianism has now returned as a geopolitical force, with strong nations such as China and Russia championing anti-liberalism as an alternative to a teetering liberal hegemony. It has returned as an ideological force, offering the age-old critique of liberalism, and just at the moment when the liberal world is suffering its greatest crisis of confidence since the 1930s. It has returned armed with new and hitherto unimaginable tools of social control and disruption that are shoring up authoritarian rule at home, spreading it abroad and reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within.

Moustafa Bayoumi: White supremacy is on the march, and Trump is at least partly to blame

Last Friday, after the horrific news had broken that a racist gunman had killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, a reporter at the White House asked Donald Trump if he believed that white nationalism was a growing threat around the world. “I don’t, really,” Trump responded. “I think it’s a small group of people.”

That same day, the White House adviser Kellyanne Conway casually dismissed the alleged shooter’s murderous racism, choosing instead to label him an “eco-terrorist”.

And two days later, the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, appeared on Fox News Sunday. Chris Wallace, the host, asked Mulvaney if the president “had considered giving a major speech condemning anti-Muslim, white supremacist bigotry”.

“The president is not a white supremacist,” Mulvaney said, chuckling. “I’m not sure how many times we have to say that.”

Well, Trump can deny, Conway can deflect and Mulvaney can repeat his line as often as he likes, but the president’s record speaks louder – much louder – than any of their words. Trump may try to evade the issue, but the fact remains that a dangerous and global white supremacy is on the march, and Trump himself is at least partly to blame.

Robert Reich: Trump is cornered, with violence on his mind. We must be on red alert

What does a megalomaniacal president of the United States do when he’s cornered? We’ll soon find out.

House Democrats are beginning a series of investigations and hearings about Donald Trump. Senate Republicans have begun to desert him. Twelve defected on the wall. Seven refused to back Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

Almost all have gone on record that they want Robert Mueller’s report made public. That report, not incidentally, appears imminent.

Trump cannot abide losing. His ego can’t contain humiliation. He is incapable of shame.

So what does a cornered Trump do? For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.