Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium 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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SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened.
One could feel sorry for Chief Justice John Roberts. He is, after all, caught in an unsightly squeeze play between anti-abortion zealots in Alabama, and slightly less wild-eyed anti-abortion zealots in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana (the court seems unable to make a decision on whether to grant the Indiana petition it has been sitting on for months now). There’s finally a five-justice majority within striking distance of a decades-long dream to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the anti-choice activists are getting ahead of themselves like slurring drunks at a frat party and making everything more transparently nasty than it need be.
There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the real goal of three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.
As more people of color claim political power, efforts to block them will accelerate — unless we act.
In the mid-1960s, when my father was a teenager, he was arrested. His crime? Registering black voters in Mississippi. He and my mother had joined the civil rights movement well before they were even old enough to vote themselves.
They braved this dangerous work, which all too often created martyrs of marchers. In doing so, my parents ingrained in their six children a deep and permanent reverence for the franchise. We were taught that the right to vote undergirds all other rights, that free and fair elections are necessary for social progress.
That is why I am determined to end voter suppression and empower all people to participate in our democracy.
True voter access means that every person has the right to register, cast a ballot and have that ballot counted — without undue hardship. Unfortunately, the forces my parents battled 50 years ago continue to stifle democracy.
President Trump is trying to maintain white dominance as the nation’s demographics change.
The white male racist patriarchy will not be denied. It is having a moment. It has its own president.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of race/ethnicity and sex among validated voters in the 2016 presidential election, white men were the only group in which a majority voted for Donald Trump — 62 percent — although a plurality of white women did also — 47 percent.
We are living through a flagrant display of a white male exertion of power, authority and privilege, a demonstration meant to underscore that they will forcefully fight any momentum toward demographic displacement, no matter how inevitable the math.
The fear of white male displacement is a powerful psychological motivator and keeps Trump’s base animated and active.
It keeps farmers holding out hope and making excuses for him, even as his trade war devastates their operations. It keeps coal country loyal, even as the promises of a revitalized coal industry ring hollow. It keeps white voters in the rust belt on the edge of their seats, waiting for the day that he will magically bring back manufacturing. It keeps white voters in the South heated over the issue of immigration and an “invasion” or “infestation” of Latin Americans.
Trump’s central promise as a politician has been the elevation, protection and promotion of whiteness, particularly white men who fear demographic changes and loss of status and privilege.
His designs on Independence Day show his confusion about that.
President Trump’s outrages, absurdities and indelicacies arrive with such frequency that they numbingly blur together, and to focus and comment on each is to give him too much of what he thrives on — attention — and be debilitated by his dominance of your thoughts and passions.
That’s why many of you rightly cry foul about the media’s obsession with him, and it’s why I’m judicious, or try to be, about how much real estate he gets in my columns.
But there are utterances and actions of his that can’t go unexamined, breaches of decorum, diplomacy or normalcy that stand out from the rest or precisely distill his character. And the recent revelation that he would like to put himself at the center of the nation’s most prominent Independence Day celebration — moving the fireworks to a new spot in Washington and making a speech as part of the occasion — falls into that category.
Most of his predecessors did nothing of the kind. They understood that the day belonged to the country, not its leader, and they didn’t conflate the two.
Donald Trump will never build the Great Wall he envisioned on this country’s southern border, but his lawyers and minions are erecting the largest stonewall against congressional oversight since Nixon’s presidency. In a scolding letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House attorneys have said that the administration will simply reject some 81 subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs.
The reason offered for this blanket refusal to cooperate sounds much like a Trump tweet. “Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation,” huffed the president’s lawyers, “not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice.”
Requests for information from the House Oversight Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee have all met with roughly the same arrogant attitude — as if the executive branch has no obligation to provide any information at all to Congress. Such dismissive responses represent a profound violation of the constitutional order.
Or as certain members of Congress explained not so long ago:
Congress’s authority to oversee and investigate the Executive Branch is a necessary component of legislative powers and to maintain the constitutional balance of powers between the branches. As the Supreme Court held in 1927: ‘(T)he power of inquiry — with process to enforce it — is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.’ Similarly, the Supreme Court held: ‘The power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. It encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.’ When needed information cannot easily be obtained — or if government agencies resist — Congress has legitimate cause to compel responses.
That pithy reference to our constitutional framework, complete with the relevant U.S. Supreme Court decision, is from the Final Report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It prefaces a long and indignant recitation of the supposed failures of the Obama administration to cooperate adequately with the Benghazi committee’s lengthy and mostly pointless investigation, which was only the 10th probe of the 2012 tragedy that claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other State Department employees in Libya.