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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Michelle Cottle: Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the President

Acquitted of impeachment charges, Trump goes after those who defied him.

John Bolton, Joe Manchin, Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden, Doug Jones, Gordon Sondland, Alexander Vindman, Yevgeny Vindman, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, Debbie Dingell, New York air travelers, federal prosecutors, the F.B.I. It’s been a mere week since Senate Republicans acquitted President Trump in his impeachment trial — assuring him once and for all that he needn’t fret about congressional accountability — but he has already made significant progress on his enemies list.

Members of Congress, administration officials, law enforcement officials, residents of blue states — anyone who has ever displeased Mr. Trump is a potential target. Heads may not wind up on literal pikes, but the president is already neck-deep into his reprisal tour. [..]

Far from denying Operation Vengeance, the White House has been justifying it. In the run-up to the president’s acquittal address last Thursday, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, assured Fox News viewers that he would be talking about “just how horribly he was treated and, you know, that maybe people should pay for that.”

Mr. Trump is now hard at work making that happen. And who’s to stop him?

Max Rose and Ali H. Soufan: We Once Fought Jihadists. Now We Battle White Supremacists.

The truth about so-called domestic terrorism? There is nothing domestic about it.

As a former soldier and F.B.I. agent, we both risked our lives to fight Al Qaeda. But the enemy we currently face is not a jihadist threat. It’s white supremacists — in the United States and overseas.

One American group, The Base, peppered a recruitment video with footage of our faces, intercut with shots of masked men machine-gunning a spray-painted Star of David. The Scandinavia-based Nordic Resistance Movement called us out by name, referring to us in a recent statement as “the Jew Max Rose” and “Arab F.B.I. agent Ali Soufan.” Defenders of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which the F.B.I. calls “a paramilitary unit” notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology,” accuse us of being part of a Kremlin campaign to “demonize” the group.

Why the sudden attention? Because we, along with dedicated colleagues from across the political spectrum, are working to expose the truth about so-called domestic terrorism: There is nothing domestic about it.

Over the past several months — at congressional hearings, in a report by the Soufan Center, and in a letter to the State Department signed by 40 members of Congress — we have documented the existence of a global network of white supremacist extremists that stretches across North America, Europe and Australia. White supremacists today are organizing in a similar fashion to jihadist terrorist organizations, like Al Qaeda, in the 1980s and 1990s. They transcend national barriers with recruitment and dissemination of propaganda. And just as jihadists exploited conflicts in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Syria, so too are white supremacists using the conflict in Ukraine as a laboratory and training ground.

Yet despite these profound similarities, United States law has not caught up to the new threat we face. International white supremacist groups are still not designated as foreign terrorist organizations, which means our law enforcement and intelligence agencies cannot access the full suite of tools available to them in countering groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

A few examples lay bare the extent of this tangled, transnational web.

 
Jennifer Rubin: Sanders won, but he’s not the big story coming out of New Hampshire

he New Hampshire primary may very well be remembered for the third- through fifth-place finishers and for how surprisingly close the race between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — the overwhelming favorite who won with 60 percent in 2016 — and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg was. Sanders was leading in the polls, but he nearly fell to the former Midwest mayor less than half his age. [..]

With the electorate heavily skewed in favor of electability (60 percent) rather than agreement on the issues, and about half the voters finding Sanders too liberal, there is reason to believe voters have become wary of Sanders as the standard bearer in a must-win election. His base of support seems not to have grown significantly from the start of the race. [..]

The shocker was Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who charged past her opponents so quickly the polls never fully accounted for her surge. A week ago, no one would have foreseen she would get to almost 20 percent of the vote and a third-place finish. She won voters who wanted to continue President Barack Obama’s policies (Obama’s own vice president came in third in that segment of the electorate), older voters, religious voters and voters for whom the debate was an important factor.

Richard Wolffe: After New Hampshire it’s clear: Joe Biden’s campaign is on life support

With so much opportunity, and frankly so much fear, Democrats are shopping around for their best bet to beat the biggest bozo

Twelve years ago, an insurgent challenger riding a wave of political momentum ran into a brick wall in New Hampshire. Barack Obama rediscovered his mojo in South Carolina, but for two weeks, it wasn’t clear where his campaign and his story were headed.

It’s too early to know where this Democratic story is headed in the fight to unseat Donald Trump. But some things are already clear.

The first is that Joe Biden’s campaign is on life support. Not so long ago, this was Biden’s contest to lose. After two crushing defeats, there’s no doubt about the prognosis: the former vice-president is fading fast.

Back in 2008 and 2016, Hillary Clinton ran two versions of the argument that voters wanted a mix of experience and change: of looking back and looking forward. That argument failed among Democrats the first time, and won the national popular vote the second time around by a large margin.

But it has resoundingly failed amid the wreckage of Donald Trump’s presidency, just as it did amid the carnage of George W Bush’s. Democratic voters want more change, not less change. Biden likes to say that we should compare him to the alternative, not the almighty. Sadly the voters have made the comparison and found him wanting against both.

Reverend William Barber: Trump’s greatest vulnerability is the economy – just ask poor Americans

Yes, the Dow is at a record high and unemployment rates are lower than they have been in decades – but 140 million people are also poor or low wealth

Rather than offer a report on the State of the Union, Donald Trump used his annual primetime slot in the House of Representatives to host a re-election rally. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, summed up the sentiment of the House majority when she stood behind Trump and ripped the text of his speech in half. “I tore up a manifesto of mistruths,” she later said. But of all the lies he told, the president is proudest of the economy he claims is booming. Poor and low-income Americans know that the economy is, in fact, his greatest vulnerability.

Yes, the Dow is at a record high and official unemployment rates are lower than they have been in decades. But measuring the health of the economy by these stats is like measuring the 19th-century’s plantation economy by the price of cotton. However much the slaveholders profited, enslaved people and the poor white farmers whose wages were stifled by free labor did not see the benefits of the boom.

In America today, 140 million people are poor or low wealth. While three individuals own as much wealth as all of them put together, the real cost of living has soared as wages have stagnated. Since the 1970s, the number of people who are paying more than a third of their monthly income in rent has doubled, and there is not a single county in the nation where a person working full-time at minimum wage can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Sixty per cent of African Americans are poor or low-income, as are 64% of Hispanics, but the largest single racial group among America’s poor and low-income – 66 million Americans – are white.

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