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: Voter Suppression Is Grand Larceny

We are watching another theft of power.

In 1890, Mississippi became one of the first states in the country to call a constitutional convention for the express purpose of writing white supremacy into the DNA of the state.

At the time, a majority of the registered voters in the state were Black men.

The lone Black delegate to the convention, Isaiah Montgomery, participated in openly suppressing the voting eligibility of most of those Black men, in the hope that this would reduce the terror, intimidation and hostility that white supremacists aimed at Black people. [..]

That sacrifice backfired horribly, as states across the South followed the Mississippi example, suppressing the Black vote, and Jim Crow reigned.

That same sort of language is being used today to prevent people from voting, because when it comes to voter suppression, ignoble intentions are always draped in noble language. Those who seek to impede others from voting, in some cases to strip them of the right, often say that they are doing so to ensure the sanctity, integrity or purity of the vote.

Jennifer Rubin: The worst-kept secret: Conservatism has no value(s)

Instead of ideas, populist emotions prevail.

You did not have to watch a moment of the Conservative Political Action Conference (and for your mental hygiene, I hope you did not), to understand that “conservative” — like “cancel culture” or “fake news” — has no meaning. None of those words carry any intellectual weight today. They are expressions of opposition — against the “liberal elites” — and of resentment. “Cancel culture” is an attitude of defiance and an unwillingness to be held accountable for one’s actions or words. “Fake news” signifies anger over facts that contradict the worldview of white grievance and cult worship.

If conservatism no longer means belief in objective reality, reverence for the rule of law, fiscal sobriety, recognition of universal human rights or public virtue, the Republican Party has no value (or values, frankly). [..]

Their top political goal — voter suppression — is the only means by which they seek to capture power in an increasingly diverse America. In dozens of states, Republicans are frantic to enact voting restrictions — justified by the myth of the stolen election. It is arguably the only public cause that truly excites them.

And so we return to the question of how to sustain conservatism and a party to house it. Unless and until conservatism comes to resemble a philosophy of governance and policy agenda reflective of American values, any loyalty to conservatism is empty. As for the Republican Party, without a democratic (small “d”) ethos and viable ideology (moderation? centrism? 19th century liberalism?), it serves only as a receptacle of resentment, cult worship and racism.

Julian Brave Noisecat: Why Senate Republicans fear Deb Haaland

Julian Brave NoiseCat (Secwepemc/St’at’imc) is vice president of policy and strategy at Data for Progress and a fellow of the Type Media Center.

The interior secretary nominee would bring experiences and perspectives that have never found representation in the leadership of the executive branch.

Alexander Stuart, the third interior secretary, once declared that the United States’ mission was to “civilize or exterminate” native people. The Interior Department has done much to carry out that terrible mission, with the seizure of tribal lands, forced assimilation of Native American children and much more. So it is impossible to overstate the significance — particularly to Native Americans — of the fact that President Biden has nominated a Native American woman, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, to head the department that manages much of the land and resources taken from native nations and maintains relationships between those nations and the U.S. government. If confirmed, Haaland would not only be the first Native American to serve as interior secretary — she would also be the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

At her confirmation hearing this week, Haaland, a tribal citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, introduced herself in her family’s Keres language, which today has only 13,000 speakers. She acknowledged that the land upon which the hearing was taking place once belonged to the Piscataway people — a rebuke of Stuart and the countless politicians and bureaucrats who dedicated themselves to the cause of Indigenous annihilation. [..]

Perhaps as a consequence, Haaland’s nomination has proved particularly contentious, as Republican senators, many from Western states, used the hearing to attack, sometimes with remarkable animosity, what they misleadingly portrayed as her extreme views on fossil fuels and national parks.

Paul Waldman: Biden’s surprise quotes on the Amazon union battle are a good sign

Both his actions and his words are important.

If you aren’t attuned to the subtleties of presidential rhetoric about union organizing and business-labor relations, the video President Biden released Sunday about a union drive at an Amazon warehouse might have seemed a little vague. It didn’t mention the word “Amazon” at all, in fact, and didn’t take an explicit position on whether workers there should vote to unionize.

But labor advocates are saying it’s the most pro-union statement a president has ever made.

On the eve of the 2020 election, Biden promised to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” But much of what he has said and done is fairly standard for a Democratic president, including appointing pro-union officials to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and naming a labor secretary with ties to the labor movement. (Marty Walsh, Biden’s nominee, was a local union leader before he became mayor of Boston.)

So what’s different about what Biden said about the union drive at the Amazon fulfillment center, which is in Bessemer, Ala.? Let’s take a look:

Amanda Marcotte: CPAC was about more than Trump’s cult — it’s now cemented the GOP’s authoritarianism

Even scarier than Trump’s personality cult, CPAC shows that Republicans’ fascism deeper than Trump

Much was written, both on social and plain old regular media, about how CPAC this year was cementing Trump’s power over the GOP and turning the party into a cult of personality for their orange-hued buffoon of a leader. Indeed, it’s both alarming and darkly funny, from the rapturous reception of his predictably whiny stemwinder to the ridiculous gold statue of Trump that was on display, which drew thousands of jokes about golden calves. But really, the Trump worship is only part of what is the bigger and much scarier story of CPAC.

The conference was geared around the task of completing the transformation of the Republican party into an overtly authoritarian — even fascist — party that is focused on seizing and holding power against the will of the American people. The Trump idolatry is part of that — what’s a fascist party without a cult around a narcissistic leader? — but ultimately, Trump still functions as he always has, which is as a tool for his followers to get what they want, and not an ends in himself. And what they want, as CPAC made quite clear, is to make the U.S. a white nationalist country, which is always what the “MAGA” slogan stood for. [..]

But overall, the picture painted at CPAC was clear, even before Trump set foot on the stage. This crowd is blatantly fascist. They oppose any democracy that includes people of color as equals, believe the “winner” of an election is the guy who got the most white voters and wallow in fantasies of violently suppressing Black protesters. And they are remaking the GOP in their image, whether they use Trump or some other repulsive figure as their figurehead to do it.