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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Scott Lemeiux: Republicans aren’t being honest about why Amy Coney Barrett has their support. They can’t be.

The rulings they hope — and fully expect — Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to make are so unpopular they have to pretend they don’t know she’ll make them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly suggested that the Senate will forgo passing an economic stimulus package in order to focus on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Superficially, this makes little political sense: The public — Democrats, independents and some Republicans alike — would overwhelmingly prefer that the Senate focus on improving the economy and their response to Covid-19 rather than ramming through another arch-conservative judge.

So given the clear importance that McConnell and Trump have placed on confirming Barrett before the election over all other political priorities, one might then expect Republicans to shout to the rooftops the conservative constitutional positions Barrett is being put onto the court to advance. Instead, the GOP is largely denying that she holds or will advance Republican views on constitutional issues at all.

This reflects an obvious truth: Barrett’s views on many major issues are enormously unpopular and Republicans know it.

Robert Reich: Trump said he could kill and win – Covid and cheating may prove it

He said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes. Now 210,000 are dead and he’s scheming to keep power

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump boasted in 2016. He thought his almost unlimited bravado, bombast and dominance of any situation allowed him to get away with figurative murder.

Since then, the president’s Fifth Avenue principle has been repeatedly tested – most notably by the Access Hollywood tape, Robert Mueller’s findings that Trump obstructed justice and his campaign aides cooperated with Russia, overt racism, quid pro quo to the president of Ukraine, and impeachment – yet some 40% of American voters have stuck by him notwithstanding.

That’s all he’s needed. And for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, he’s counting on them to preserve his presidency after 3 November. [..]

Trump’s Fifth Avenue principle has kept him in power for almost four years of death and mayhem that would have doomed the presidencies of anyone else. But as a former New Yorker he should know that Fifth Avenue ends at the Harlem River, at 142nd Street. The end is near.

Sydney Blumenthal: Lindsey Graham, reverse ferret: how John McCain’s spaniel became Trump’s poodle

On Monday, the senator who praised Hillary and helped get the Steele dossier to the FBI will preside over a hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, a nominee to tilt the supreme court right for years to come. His is a quintessential Washington tale

That Lindsey Graham would become Donald Trump’s poodle was not a tale (or tail) foretold. But it has landed him in the dogfight of his life for re-election to his Senate seat in South Carolina, challenged by a relentless and capable Democratic candidate, Jaime Harrison, who methodically chased Graham around the ring in their debate, repeatedly jabbing him as a hypocrite, until he struck him with a haymaker, ending the verbal fisticuffs with a TKO: “Be a man.”

Bruised and battered, Graham retreated to his corner, Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, to beg: “I’m getting overwhelmed … help me, they’re killing me money-wise. Help me.”

Graham has climbed the greasy pole within the Senate, to a position that historically has been rewarded by his state with a lifetime tenure. He succeeded to the seat that Strom Thurmond held for 48 years before he died at 100. From Graham’s chairmanship of the Senate judiciary committee he has taken up the defense of Trump, to unmask the dastardly conspiracy of “Obamagate” and to handle the confirmation of a justice on the supreme court, to pack it with a conservative majority for a generation to come. But just at this consummate moment of his career, events have conspired to dissolve his facade and expose his flagrant hypocrisy. His presumed strength has turned into his vulnerability. Worse, in Washington, where the press has treated him for more than 20 years like the genial star of the comedy club, he has become an object of ridicule.

Arwa Mahdawi: Enough with militias. Let’s call them what they really are: domestic terrorists

This week the FBI announced charges in a plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer. Much of the coverage referred to them as a militia – and the governor wasn’t having it

The vocabulary of violence

Terrorists (noun): evil brown people.

Thugs (noun): violent black people.

Militia (noun): misunderstood white men. Groups of heavily armed individuals whose actions, while not exactly ideal, deserve compassion and should be looked at within a wider socioeconomic context. Instead of rushing to judgment or making generalisations, one must consider the complex causes (economic anxiety, video games, mental health issues) that have triggered these poor guys into committing mass murder, conspiring to violently overthrow the state or plotting to kidnap government officials. [..]

Much of the media coverage of Whitmer’s would-be kidnappers referred to them as members of a Michigan militia group called Wolverine Watchmen. The wolverine, by the way, isn’t just a Marvel character – it’s an animal that looks like a small bear but is actually part of the weasel family. This seems appropriate because “militia” is very much a weasel word. It’s a way to avoid putting white extremists in the same bucket as brown people. It lends them legitimacy. It obfuscates what these people really are.

Governor Whitmer, to her immense credit, was having none of it. “They’re not ‘militias’,” she tweeted on Friday morning. “They’re domestic terrorists endangering and intimidating their fellow Americans. Words matter.”

Sheldon Whitehouse: Trump is in debt. We can’t ignore the national security risks that come with that.

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate.

They aren’t even trying to hide it: President Trump and Senate Republicans are desperately rushing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in time to rule on bogus election-administration disputes they have in the pipeline: Bush v. Gore 2.0.

Barrett has an obligation to recuse herself from those disputes, and she should promise to do just that.

Trump has made clear he wants Barrett in place to help him win the election. “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” he said. “We need nine justices.” Senate Republicans parrot the president. A Supreme Court with just eight justices, claimed Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), “lacks the constitutional authority to decide anything.” That’s simply wrong.

The court holds the constitutional authority to decide cases with eight justices; it actually needs only six for a quorum. If the court happens to split 4 to 4, the lower court ruling would stand. Somehow, that prospect didn’t bother Republicans four years ago. They made sure we had only eight justices during the 2016 election when they stonewalled Merrick Garland’s nomination.

What has changed? Trump is watching voters turn out in droves, which is never a good thing for Republicans. So Republicans are out to suppress the vote at all costs — a strategy, the president believes, that will throw the election to a Supreme Court fixed to rule for him.

Republicans want to rush Barrett through in time to deliver what could be the key vote on behalf of the president who chose her.