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: American Horror, Starring Donald Trump
The coronavirus pandemic is spiraling out of control, largely because of the president himself.
The idea that face coverings and elbow bumps may be the new normal is a shock to the system.
It seems that on multiple levels, society is being tested, and often failing.
People are rebelling against isolation, and against science and public health. They want the old world back, the pre-Covid-19 world back, but it cannot be had. The virus doesn’t feel frustration or react to it. It’s not aware of your children or your job or your vacation plans. It’s not aware of our politics.
The virus is a virus, mindless, and in this case, incredibly efficient and effective. It will pass from person to person for as long as that is possible. The political debate over mask wearing is a human concern, one that works to the virus’s benefit.
And it is these politics, particularly as articulated by Donald Trump, that are allowing the virus to ravage this nation and steal tens of thousands of lives that should not have been stolen.
It is Trump’s politicization of the virus that has resulted in a new surge of cases in this country when many other developed nations have been able to shrink the number of cases among their people.
On the Monday following President Trump’s Independence Day weekend speeches, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opened her briefing as she often does: by reprimanding “the media” for mischaracterizing the president’s words.
“This vision is not a culture war, as the media seeks to falsely proclaim,” McEnany said. The very next day, in an interview with RealClearPolitics, the president said: “We are in a culture war.”
Such head-spinning contradictions are routine at Trump White House briefings, where the press secretary often admonishes reporters for asking about the president’s exact words. [..]
As a reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, I have often advocated a return of regular briefings by the White House press secretary, which lapsed in early 2018. The merits of the briefings over the years can be debated, but I think the White House spokesperson has an obligation to regularly answer questions about the policies and pronouncements of the executive branch.
The White House press secretary’s job differs fundamentally from that of a spokesperson for a candidate or political party. The White House press secretary serves at the pleasure of a president but is also a public servant whose salary is paid by taxpayers. The job is to inform the public: to be an intermediary between the president and a press corps the public relies on for information. As former White House press secretary Mike McCurry has pointed out, this intermediary role is embedded in the layout of the West Wing; the press secretary’s office is midway between the Oval Office and the briefing room.
Denying reality and using the White House podium for purely political purposes is a violation of public trust.
Arturo E. Holmes II: I’m a black doctor. I wear my scrubs everywhere now.
It’s about protecting myself.
As a urology resident, I spend up to 70 hours a week at the hospital. I wear scrubs to the operating room and through long hospital shifts. And, of course, I wear a gown and other personal protective equipment over my scrubs when caring for patients with covid-19 in Brooklyn.
Even when I’m not there, though, I wear my medical scrubs everywhere. I wear scrubs and a mask when I’m shopping at the grocery store, rollerblading home from work and even meeting up with friends, always seeking to preemptively exonerate my blackness with my professional garb.
It’s about protecting myself. Like many black Americans, I’ve been followed by security personnel through department stores without cause and pulled over by police officers at night for no reason.
When I’m in scrubs, all of that happens less often. [..]
Still, I wear scrubs. I wear scrubs hoping that they’ll serve as a reminder, just enough to give pause, forcing those who would judge or harm me because of my skin color to reconsider. I wear them even as I know that I shouldn’t have to, that no one should have to harness a professional uniform in the pursuit of respect, let alone survival. I wear them knowing that they offer questionable protection at best. No one should have to wear scrubs — or anything else — to be seen as worthy of human decency. Even if wearing scrubs everywhere were right and reasonable, it would not be enough. And yet, in moments of uncertainty, scrubs may be all I have. I do not want to wear scrubs everywhere, but until Black Lives Matter is more than just a slogan, I will.
William Rivers Pitt: A bad day for Trump is a good day for the country
Put this day at court in the bank and call it a win, though not a complete one
If you were hoping to see Donald Trump’s financial records before the 2020 election, today was not your day. If you were hoping to go to bed tonight in a nation with a president and not a sovereign, sleep tight, because you won.
In two Supreme Court decisions freighted with the potential for generational impact — Trump v. Vance and Trump v. Mazars — a 7-2 majority remanded both cases back to the lower courts for further review while delivering a slashing rebuke to a president who would put himself outside the scope of oversight and the constitutional separation of powers. [..]
This day could have been much worse for Trump, who has fought like a cornered wolverine for years to keep these tax documents secret. The massive review of Trump’s older family financial records released by The New York Times in 2018 tell a fair portion of the utterly corrupt tale, but more recent data has remained beyond the public’s reach, and remains so today.
The fact that his records will in all likelihood fall into the hands of a New York grand jury is not welcome news for Trump. However, he avoided the fate of Richard Nixon, who lost unanimously before the high court in trying to keep the Watergate tapes secret, and was soon forced to resign.
Conversely, this day could have been utterly calamitous for the nation and its constitutional framework. Had the high court accepted Trump’s broad claims of immunity in either Vance or Mazars, the office of the president would have been placed forever above the reach of law or oversight, and the republic itself would have crumbled before dinner.
Put this day at court in the bank and call it a win, though not a complete one. Still, anything that infuriates Trump like this has to be a good thing.
Gerald B. Lefcourt and Robert C. Gottlieb: New York should prosecute Roger Stone
To almost no one’s surprise, days before Roger Stone’s prison sentence was about to begin, President Donald Trump has spared his long-time political crony from the pen — late Friday, Mr. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence. It is time for New York prosecutors to answer this latest assault by Trump on the rule of law: They should ready a state prosecution of Stone.
Bringing a new case against Stone is possible thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature for Assembly Bill 6653. Signed into law last October, AB6653 enables New York district attorneys to prosecute what effectively amounts to certain friends and family of any president who pardoned them for federal convictions. Among the people who can be prosecuted are associates with information relevant to a civil or criminal investigation of the president.
That would be Roger Stone.
Both of us have been criminal defense lawyers in New York for more than 40 years. It is not our habit to advocate prosecuting anyone. But we are defenders of our Constitution first. It is under assault. [..]
Moreover, Stone’s case presents narrow circumstances unique in our history. US presidents have broad powers to pardon and commute sentences. However, here we have federal law enforcement neutralized by a president’s commutation rewarding the cover-up to protect Trump. A state prosecution would put on trial a man we know is guilty.
Far outweighing any legal risk of bringing Stone to justice in New York is the national benefit: Standing up for the rule of law, showing that it survives in the offices of state prosecutors, if not in the White House.
Frieda Ghitis: The two reasons Covid-19 is getting worse in the US
The pandemic of 2020 is ravaging the United States faster every day. While many other developed countries gradually get back to normal, Americans are contracting Covid-19 in numbers that are hard to comprehend, breaking records every day.
Most disturbingly, the number of daily deaths has started to climb again. Counties in Texas, where morgues are running out of space, are asking FEMA for refrigerated trucks to hold the dead. Dozens of states are stopping or rolling back reopening; Michigan has asked the National Guard to stay and continue to help. Texas, whose governor was an early cheerleader for reopening, has extended its disaster declaration.
Why? Why are the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and others flattening the curve while American cannot?
The answer is found in two factors. One is the most dangerous myth surrounding Covid-19: that there is a tradeoff between beating the pandemic and restoring the economy. The other factor is a President who not only appears to believe that fallacy but is prepared to do whatever it takes to conjure a sense of normalcy for the sake of winning re-election.