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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Trump is injuring and terrorizing Americans to create campaign ads — maybe another impeachment can stop him
For the past week or more, many folks in media and politics, including those of us at Salon, have been accusing Donald Trump of sending federal police into Portland, Oregon — and now a bit further north in Seattle — almost entirely to stoke violence that he thinks will help him win re-election. Not that such speculation was a big reach, of course. It was plainly obvious that politics, not any real concern about “law and order,” was driving Trump’s decision.
For one thing, while protests against police brutality have been ongoing in those cities since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, they were largely winding down — until Trump’s goons showed up and started snatching people without cause, beating protesters and tear-gassing peaceful crowds. For another thing, local and state politicians in Oregon have pleaded with Trump and his minions — especially acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf — to pull out the federal police, who are geared up to look like an invading army. Oregon’s attorney general has filed suit against the federal government over this abuse of power, although a federal judge denied her request for a restraining order. Third, if Trump actually gave a crap about protecting Americans, he would be focused on fighting the coronavirus, not a bunch of young people setting off fireworks and spray-painting buildings.
But now White House aides have come right out and admitted that the reason Trump is waging war on American cities and terrorizing peaceful protesters is because he thinks it will look awesome in his campaign ads.
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why Biden may follow through on a bolder agenda
With Joe Biden’s polling lead growing, more attention is being paid to what he might do as president. The signals have been contradictory to say the least. After positioning himself as a resolute moderate to win delegates for the nomination, he announced that this was “a real inflection in American history” not unlike “what Roosevelt [faced].” When the six task forces he set up with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hammered out a party platform, Sanders announced that “the compromise that they came up with, if implemented, will make Biden the most progressive president since FDR.” But as the New York Times’s Michelle Cottle pointed out, Biden’s closest advisers are veteran Democratic Party operatives from the Clinton and Obama eras, not known for original, much less radical, thinking. So, the question remains — what will Biden do?
The Sanders-Biden working groups’ recommendations, which will largely define the official 2020 Democratic Party Platform, are certainly bolder than anything Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama ran on. Even as Biden has consistently rejected some of Sanders’s signature issues — Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal, etc. — he’s now backing a relatively far-reaching series of reforms.
Fred Kaplan: Don’t Pick a Cold War You Can’t Win
Trump and Pompeo are ratcheting up tensions with China, but have no way to back up their threats.
If you have any doubt that the Trump administration has embarked on a Cold War policy against China every bit as hostile as the U.S. stance toward the Soviet Union at the height of that showdown, check out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Thursday speech at the Richard Nixon Library.
Redolent of the sort of speeches that Nixon himself gave in the 1950s (during his red-hunting days, before the opening to Beijing), it calls for ending engagement with China, rolling back its fledgling empire, and rallying the Chinese people to overthrow their regime.
Combined with other recent speeches by Trump officials and a number of actions by Trump himself, it amounts to a cry for war. But it is a senseless cry—implausible, infeasible, and heedless of the damage that further escalation will inflict on our own country and its allies.
Portions of Pompeo’s speech, detailing the rising dangers posed by the Chinese Communist Party, are spot on. Under Xi Jinping’s rule, the CCP has steadily taken control of every national institution, suppressed dissent, imprisoned a million Uighur Muslims, militarized the South China Sea beyond its internationally recognized borders, exploited trade arrangements, stolen intellectual property, and infiltrated the West with industrial spies.
But what should we do about this? Pompeo says there’s nothing to do except cut China off. Engagement with China, sought by every president beginning with Nixon, has been a “failure,” he says. The CCP hasn’t changed its stripes since the days of Mao Zedong. The clash isn’t just America vs. China but freedom vs. totalitarianism. The solution is to egg on the forces of freedom—the oppressed people—inside China, and to call on other nations to do the same.
This is a fantasy, and a dangerous one, on several levels.