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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Susan E. Rice: Trump Isn’t Here to Serve the People

He has shown that we need new laws to constrain an executive who seeks unchecked power.

Desperate to salvage his presidency, Donald Trump is inciting racial violence by encouraging armed vigilantes to confront protesters angry over the killing and maiming of unarmed Black people by the police. The president is stoking civil conflict to distract voters from his failed leadership and strengthen his electoral prospects.

Deadly as it is, Mr. Trump’s latest tactic reflects his view of the presidency as the tool of one man. Rather than serve the people, Mr. Trump is trying to extend his time in office while undermining any constraints on his power.

Across the executive branch, Mr. Trump and his appointees have flouted long-honored norms and violated laws with relative impunity. They have succeeded largely because Senate Republicans have sacrificed oversight and accountability on the altar of subservience to this president so long as it preserves their majority control.

Under Donald Trump, the abuses have touched almost every corner of government, suggesting the president views democracy itself as his opponent.

Karen Bass: People of color are disproportionately affected by covid-19. Yet they are underrepresented in vaccine trials.

Karen Bass, a Democrat, represents California’s 37th District in the House of Representatives and is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Six months into our battle against covid-19, the disease has killed more than 181,000 Americans, and the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect communities of color. Black Americans, Latinos, Asian Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are significantly more likely than White Americans to be diagnosed with covid-19, be hospitalized over it and die of the disease.

Despite these appalling trends, the most promising covid-19 vaccine trials are reportedly failing to recruit participants of color. This threatens the trials’ validity, since vaccine candidates can vary in effectiveness across different racial and ethnic groups. It is also potentially catastrophic for people of color, who are disproportionately represented among front-line and essential workers — and who are suffering the worst health and economic effects of this pandemic.

Facing criticism, pharmaceutical executives appear to be scrambling to assure the public that people of color will be well represented in vaccine trials. Too much is at stake to not get this right.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump and his allies are redefining right-wing violence as “self-defense”: That’s a dark path

In TrumpWorld, fanatical violence is “self-defense” — so long as white right-wing wackos are the perpetrators

Here’s the first thing to notice about the horrific news cycle of the past few days: Donald Trump is openly stoking right-wing violence, in no small part, because it bumps the coronavirus pandemic (6 million cases and rising, more than 183,000 dead) and the economic crisis (10% unemployment and 29 million Americans going hungry) out of the headlines.

The second thing to note is that it’s nonetheless a terrifying development that will almost certainly lead to more violence, especially in light of what promises to be a chaotic but close election, where violent tactics and intimidation could affect the outcome. [..]

The right to self-defense is enshrined in the law: It’s supposed to be a right to take actions that are necessary to protect one’s life or the lives of others. But in Trump’s America, the right to “self-defense” has become a question of identity. White conservatives get to claim self-defense, no matter how clearly they instigate violence, because they view the rest of us as inherently threatening.

Giving right-wingers carte blanche for acts of violence, under the guise of self-defense, clearly raises the tension at an incredibly tense moment in America. That’s what Donald Trump wants, of course. He is trailing Joe Biden in the polls, and clearly intends to claim the election was “rigged” if he loses. If you’re planning to reject election results, and to refuse to accede to the peaceful transfer of power, it would sure help to have masses of armed supporters who believe that it’s acceptable to shoot first in the name of “self-defense.” That’s exactly the army Trump is hoping to build with this reckless rhetoric.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Trump hasn’t ended endless wars. Congress must use the War Powers Resolution.

Speakers at last week’s Republican National Convention lauded President Trump as a foe of endless wars. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) praised the president for “bringing our men and women home,” while Eric Trump claimed that his father accomplished “peace in the Middle East. Never-ending wars were finally ended.”

Just hours later, we learned of a direct clash between U.S. and Russian troops in northern Syria. Military vehicles from each country raced in an open field until a Russian vehicle collided with a U.S. vehicle, injuring four Americans, with each side claiming the other was to blame. Former administration official Brett McGurk noted that “these incidents have been ongoing for months.”

How did we arrive at a situation where the two most heavily armed nuclear powers are facing off in rural Syria without congressional authorization? [..]

The predictable results of this reckless policy are now coming to a head. Nearly seven years after Congress blocked Obama from directly engaging in military action against Russia and the Syrian government, the Trump administration is blatantly deepening U.S. involvement in the very conflict that Congress and the American people resoundingly rejected. If Congress doesn’t rein in this president now, the potential for an escalation will only increase.

Heather Digby Parton: “American carnage” in Kenosha: Trump comes closer to advocating right-wing terror

Trump has flirted with right-wing vigilantism for years. His re-election strategy seems to be a full-on embrace

In the aftermath of tragedies and disasters, the country naturally turns to the president for words of reassurance. Whether it’s a mass shooting or a terrorist attack or a hurricane — all events that happen more often than we’d like — the president is called upon to comfort those directly affected and bring the nation together to face whatever the aftermath might be.

Depending on your political bent, you might think of Ronald Reagan after the Challenger explosion saying, “We will never forget them as they ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'” Or maybe George W. Bush standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center or speaking at the Islamic Center of Washington six days after the attacks to quote from the Quran and declare that “Islam is peace.” I think of Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” after the Charleston church massacre and Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, saying, “You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything. And you have certainly not lost America, for we will stand with you for as many tomorrows as it takes.”

This is a big part of the job that presidents are required to perform, and certainly some are better at it than others. But no president has ever been as terrible at the task as Donald Trump. He is simply incapable of being empathetic or reassuring. He doesn’t even try. Instead of trying to bring the country together in a time of almost unprecedented stress and trauma, he has decided to intensify the nation’s anxiety for his own personal and political gain. If there’s ever been a more cynical election strategy I can’t think of it.

Trump and his campaign are making no secret of the fact that they believe protests and civil unrest will make people vote for a second term and so they are stoking the discord as much as possible. They think they can finesse his administration’s disastrous response to the deadly pandemic and the resulting economic catastrophe by ginning up chaos in the streets and focusing people’s attention away from the other problems in their lives and aiming their anxiety at Black Lives Matter protesters, progressives and big cities.