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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Charles M. Blow: Yes, Even George Washington

Slavery was a cruel institution that can’t be excused by its era.

On the issue of American slavery, I am an absolutist: enslavers were amoral monsters.

The very idea that one group of people believed that they had the right to own another human being is abhorrent and depraved. The fact that their control was enforced by violence was barbaric.

People often try to explain this away by saying that the people who enslaved Africans in this country were simply men and women of their age, abiding by the mores of the time.

But, that explanation falters. There were also men and women of the time who found slavery morally reprehensible. The enslavers ignored all this and used anti-black dehumanization to justify the holding of slaves and the profiting from slave labor.

People say that some slave owners were kinder than others.

That explanation too is problematic. The withholding of another person’s freedom is itself violent. And the enslaved people who were shipped to America via the Middle Passage had already endured unspeakably horrific treatment. [..]

I say that we need to reconsider public monuments in public spaces. No person’s honorifics can erase the horror he or she has inflicted on others.

Slave owners should not be honored with monuments in public spaces. We have museums for that, which also provide better context. This is not an erasure of history, but rather a better appreciation of the horrible truth of it.

Richard L. Hasen: Bring On the 28th Amendment

Efforts by Trump and his allies to suppress the vote are only part of the problem.

What if we made voting an agent of equality, not inequality? And how can we get there?

If you are a college student or a working recent high school graduate, poor, Latino, or someone who moves more frequently, you are less likely to vote. Seniors are much more likely to vote than young people, in some elections at twice their rate. Those with college degrees vote in higher numbers than the less educated. Minority voters are more likely to wait longer in line to vote in person, sometimes for hours, and they, young people, and first-time voters are more likely to have an absentee ballot rejected for nonconformity with technical rules. Poor voters are less likely to have the time off work to vote at all, much less wait in a long line to vote. Voters in big cities, who tend to be younger, poorer and browner, have coped with more serious election problems than others in voting in person and by mail during our coronavirus-laden primary season, like the voters in Milwaukee voters who saw 175 out of 180 polling places closed during the April 7 Wisconsin primaries.

In a democratic system, we expect our elected officials to be responsive to the views and interests of the voters. If the universe of voters — and, of course, campaign donors — is skewed toward older, wealthier, better educated whiter voters, political decisions will be as well. We need equality in voting rights and turnout to assure responsive representation and social policy that reflects everyone’s needs, not just those most likely to turn out with their votes and dollars.

Let’s start with the causes of the problem. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare three pathologies with how we protect voting rights in the United States, and why the skew in voter turnout remains persistent.

Jennifer Senior: Trump’s Napalm Politics? They Began With Newt

Gingrich wrote the playbook for it all. The nastiness, the contempt for norms, the transformation of political opponents into enemies.

Approximately one billion news cycles ago — which is to say, on June 9 — a businesswoman named Marjorie Taylor Greene finished first in the Republican primary in Georgia’s deeply conservative 14th Congressional District, northwest of Atlanta, which means that after a runoff she’s all but assured a seat in the House of Representatives next year.

Unfortunately, she is a cheerful bigot and conspiracy-theory fluffernutter. She subscribes to QAnon, the far-right fever dream that says Donald Trump is under siege from a cabal of deep-state saboteurs, some of whom run a pedophile ring; she says African-Americans are being held back primarily by “gangs.” (She’s left behind a contrail of unsavory videos through cyberspace, if you’d care to Google.)

The House Republican leadership is trying to distance itself from this woman, as if she belongs to some other party from a faraway galaxy. She doesn’t. Her politics are Trumpism distilled. And Trumpism itself isn’t a style and philosophy that began in 2016, with Trump’s election, or even in 2010, with the Tea Party. It began 40-odd years ago, in Greene’s own state, with the election of a different politician just two districts over.

I’m talking about Newt. You really could argue that today’s napalm politics began with Newt.

The normalization of personal destruction. The contempt for custom. The media-baiting, the annihilation of bipartisan comity, the delegitimizing of institutions.

Russell Moore: Changing the state flag is not about forgetting Mississippi’s past. It’s about acknowledging it.

Until now, the only flag of my home state that I would display are scraps, barely holding together, lying on the shelf next to me right now. This remnant of the Mississippi flag was a gift from a man who served in the National Guard patrolling my hometown of Biloxi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He found the shredded flag clinging to the ground next to the lighthouse, and gave me what was left of it. In time, it fell apart, and all I kept were the parts that held together — stripes of red, white and blue.

For me, this tattered flag was a reminder of the fragility and resilience of my home state and its people, of the ties that hold it together and the winds that have torn it apart. But I love this particular symbol not just for what’s there — bits of red and blue and white holding together despite it all — but also for what’s missing. The part that fell away was the Confederate emblem: the ugly reminder of our state’s legacy of white supremacy and exclusion.

In a development that many Mississippians had longed for but never really expected to happen in our lifetimes, the state’s House and Senate on Saturday began the process of changing the flag adopted in 1894 as a backlash against Reconstruction. The way has been cleared for legislation, which Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has said he would sign, to introduce a new state flag that, finally, would represent all Mississippians.

Robert Reich: Donald Trump’s re-election playbook: 25 ways he’ll lie, cheat and abuse his power

From now until November, opponents of the most lawless president in history face a fight for democracy itself

Donald Trump will do anything to be re-elected. His opponents are limited because they believe in democracy. Trump has no limits because he doesn’t.

Here’s Trump’s re-election playbook, in 25 simple steps: [..]

Memo to America: beware Trump’s playbook. Spread the truth. Stay vigilant. Fight for our democracy.