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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Arwa Mahdawi: Donald Trump has a grievance against New York – and it tells you a lot about his presidency

If a city isn’t on the US president’s side, it will suffer. His latest move is to designate New York an ‘anarchist jurisdiction’, which would be hilarious if his motivations weren’t so sinister

America’s official Anarchy List didn’t appear out of nowhere. A few weeks ago, Donald Trump published a memo requesting the DoJ identify cities “permitting anarchy”; this is the axis of evil they came up with. According to the US attorney general, William Barr – the guy who recently likened coronavirus lockdown orders to slavery – the leaders of these cities have cut police funding and given a green light to violence. In order to combat this supposed lawlessness, the government has threatened to block federal funds; in the case of New York that means revoking up to $7bn (£5.4bn). Since a not insignificant portion of that money goes towards the city’s police department, the Trump administration is, rather ironically, threatening to defund the police.

You know what anarchists do when bullied by the government? Prepare lawsuits, of course. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, along with the leaders of Portland and Seattle, the other anarchist cities, has promised to sue the Trump administration if it attempts to follow through on withdrawing federal funds. Which it probably won’t: this latest move is less about lowering city budgets than it is about raising liberals’ hackles and pandering to Trump’s base. Threatening to do something unconstitutional and illegal is Trump’s way of reminding voters that he’s the law-and-order candidate. And, of course, it’s a distraction from the fact that the US is nearing 200,000 Covid-19 deaths..

Robert Reich: For RBG it was all principle, for Mitch McConnell it’s all power

Robert Reich on why Ginsburg and McConnell represent the opposite poles of public service today

People in public life tend to fall into one of two broad categories – those who are motivated by principle, and those motivated by power.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday night at the age of 87, exemplified the first.

When he nominated her in 1993, Bill Clinton called her “the Thurgood Marshall of gender-equality law,” comparing her advocacy and lower-court rulings in pursuit of equal rights for women with the work of the great jurist who advanced the cause of equal rights for Black people. Ginsburg persuaded the Supreme Court that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied not only to racial discrimination but to sex discrimination as well.

For Ginsburg, principle was everything – not only equal rights, but also the integrity of democracy. Always concerned about the consequences of her actions for the system as a whole, she advised young people “to fight for the things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, exemplifies the second category. He couldn’t care less about principle. He is motivated entirely by the pursuit of power.

Amanda Marcotte: CDC scandal gets worse: This is why Trump can’t be trusted with a coronavirus vaccine

Even if there’s a safe vaccine someday soon, Trump will definitely find a way to screw it up completely

September has featured one scandal after another stemming from Donald Trump’s belief that the best way to handle the coronavirus pandemic is to let a bunch of people get sick and die, and then deny that it’s happening. First, journalist Bob Woodward started to releasing recordings in which Trump said he “wanted to always play it down” and admitted he had deliberately lied to the public about how serious this virus really is. Then, in a town hall for ABC News, Trump confessed that his real strategy was to let the virus run loose to create herd immunity — or rather “herd mentality” which would be “herd developed,” to quote the president accurately — even though that would literally kill millions of Americans. Then the New York Times published a new exposé revealing that Trump officials had overruled medical researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forcing the agency to publish misleading and dangerous information designed to discourage people who have been exposed to the virus from being tested.

None of this, it’s critical to underline, is good for Trump’s re-election campaign. Polling shows that only 35% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which is the same percentage of Americans who would probably say they’d still love Trump if he nuked their hometowns. Polls also show that because of Trump’s malice and incompetence, 69% of Americans have little to no confidence in the safety or efficacy of a vaccine that he may announce. Only 9% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in Trump. Even his own supporters know he’s a liar and a fraud: They’ve entrusted him with the nuclear codes, but don’t trust him with a vaccine.

Jamelle Bouie: Down With Judicial Supremacy!

The Supreme Court was never meant to be the only arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution.

Beyond the obvious — that liberals need some way to respond to President Trump as he moves to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg — what does it mean that mainstream Democrats are considering once unthinkable ideas like adding seats to the court?

Perhaps, as some conservatives argue, it’s evidence that Democrats aren’t as committed to the norms of American democracy as they claim to be. Perhaps, as some hopeful liberals believe, it’s evidence that Democrats are finally beginning to buck the timid institutionalism that so often shapes their politics.

I take a different perspective. If Democrats are willing to treat a Republican-dominated Supreme Court as a partisan and ideological foe, if they’re willing to change or transform it rather than accede to its view of the Constitution — two very big ifs — then they’re one important step along the path to challenging judicial supremacy, the idea that the courts, and the courts alone, determine constitutional meaning.

Susan E. Rice: A Divided America Is a National Security Threat

Political polarization is a “force multiplier” that deepens other threats and cripples our ability to combat them.

While foreign policy has barely figured in the presidential campaign, national security is plainly on the ballot. If everything feels chaotic and dangerous, it’s because we face a remarkable convergence of security challenges.

Traditional definitions of national security center largely on external, military threats to U.S. sovereignty and territorial integrity posed by hostile states, like the former Soviet Union. In recent decades, many Americans have come to appreciate what experts have grudgingly and gradually acknowledged: that national security threats are best understood as anything that can kill or severely harm large numbers of Americans, devastate our economy or upend our way of life. [..]

I have long viewed domestic division as our greatest national security vulnerability. Political polarization is a “force multiplier” that worsens other threats and cripples our ability to combat them. Stoked by leaders who profit from divisive politics, our polarization prevents us from effectively confronting vital challenges, from the pandemic and its economic consequences to climate change; from the rise of white supremacist groups, which account for the bulk of domestic terrorism, to reforming our immigration system.