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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Paul Krugman: Trump, the Mail and the Unbinding of America
The Postal Service facilitates citizen inclusion. That’s why Trump hates it.
In June the independent website Factcheck.org made a dig at Joe Biden, publishing a post titled “Biden Floats Baseless Election Conspiracy.” Biden, you see, had suggested that Donald Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.” There was, said the post, no evidence that Trump’s “stance toward the U.S. postal system is related to the presidential election.”
A few days ago Factcheck.org conceded that Biden had, in fact, been right. The confirmation? Trump’s own statements.
Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back from summer recess to consider legislation on the issue, and for good reason: There are not one but two possible constitutional crises looming. In one, millions of votes never get counted. In the other, delays in the counting of mail-in votes lead Trump to claim victory in an election he actually lost.
These November nightmares are the reason we need to act urgently to secure the integrity of America’s mail. But there’s also a larger, longer-term aspect to the assault on the postal system. It’s part of a broader attack on the institutions that bind us together as a nation.
Stephen I. Vladeck: Why Are Senate Republicans Playing Dead?
They’re allowing President Trump to place loyalists in important government positions.
Saturday will mark the 500th straight day that there will be no Senate-confirmed secretary of Homeland Security — the longest vacancy in the 231-year history of the executive branch cabinet. What’s more, unlike the rare, lengthy vacancies of previous administrations (usually a result of failed nominees), President Trump hasn’t sent a single name to the Republican-controlled Senate since April 10, 2019. Instead, he has publicly insisted that he prefers the “flexibility” that comes from filling positions like secretary of Homeland Security with an “acting” officer. [..]
It’s easy to blame Mr. Trump for abusing the labyrinthine process for filling vacancies in senior executive branch positions — because he has. This administration has found every plausible loophole — and some implausible (if not unlawful) ones — to install its preferred choices in an impressively broad and important array of senior government jobs.
But the real culprit for these abuses, and the principal obstacle to any meaningful reform, is the Senate — which has simply rolled over in the name of Republican Party unity as the president has run roughshod over its constitutional role.
George T. Conway III and Lawrence S. Robbins: No serious lawyer would argue what Trump’s Justice Department is arguing
The least trustworthy administration in decades, if not ever, keeps arguing: “You’ve just got to trust us.”
If there’s one thing you can say about President Trump and his administration, it’s that nothing is regular except the irregular, which has had myriad damaging consequences for the nation. And it’s had particularly adverse consequences for the federal government’s ability to defend itself in court.
The latest example comes in the criminal case against Trump’s first, short-tenured national security adviser, Michael Flynn. He pleaded guilty — not once but twice — to charges that he had lied to FBI agents during an interview about his conversations with senior Russian officials during the presidential transition. Despite Flynn’s admissions of guilt, Attorney General William P. Barr filed a motion asking that the case be dismissed — and supporting Flynn’s effort to have that done without even a hearing before the district judge. [..]
The Trump administration has been saying things like that a lot lately — trying to stretch the law in ways that undermine its remaining credibility. It argued that a sitting president’s accountants and bankers can’t be subpoenaed for his personal records during his term in office by either a state grand jury or, without meeting an impossibly high burden, by Congress. It argued that the president’s close aides can’t be called to testify before a congressional committee investigating presidential misconduct. The least trustworthy administration in decades, if not ever, keeps arguing: “You’ve just got to trust us.”
Trump is betting his future on a simple belief: White people are still deeply racist. Will America prove him wrong?
Not that this should come as a surprise, but with the Republican National Convention less than a week away, Donald Trump is sending every possible signal that whatever its official themes may be the GOP gathering’s true subject will be white grievance politics. Unlike in the past, where concerns about not appearing overtly racist have forced Republicans to resort to dog whistles and coded language, Trump seems to believe to that his best bet is to serve the racism straight up, thereby vanquishing any remaining doubts about whether our president is actually a white supremacist.
Late Tuesday night, Trump praised Laura Loomer, who won the Republican primary in Florida’s 21st congressional district, which is Trump’s official place of residence. To call Loomer a “far right” or “fringe” candidate is understating the case. She’s an obsessive bigot with a long history of unvarnished hatred of Muslims — or anyone she just suspects may be a Muslim — calling them “savages” and labeling herself a #ProudIslamophobe. Her rhetoric is openly genocidal, such as when she declared that “we should never let another Muslim into the civilized world” and urged taxi and ride-share companies not to hire Muslim drivers. (It may be reassuring to know that she almost certainly won’t win in November. The district is solidly Democratic, and Republicans didn’t even bother to run a candidate against incumbent Rep. Lois Frankel in 2018.) [..]
Trump’s celebration of Loomer’s win comes not long after his enthusiastic Twitter embrace of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won a Republican House primary in Georgia despite being a QAnon supporter who has wallowed in wildly racist rhetoric and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. It’s more likely, of course, that Greene won because of those things.
Michelle Goldberg: Trump Might Cheat. Activists Are Getting Ready.
Election sabotage needs to be met with the largest protests yet.
This summer, a bipartisan group of former government officials, political professionals, lawyers and journalists held a series of war game exercises about how the 2020 election might go wrong. Convened by the law professor Rosa Brooks and the historian Nils Gilman, it was called the Transition Integrity Project, and the results were alarming. [..]
Participants in the Transition Integrity Project played out tactics the president might try if threatened with defeat, including federalizing the National Guard to stop the counting of mail-in ballots. In each scenario, the decisions of the Department of Justice, state officials and the candidates themselves proved pivotal.
But so was the willingness of masses of people to protest. “A show of numbers in the streets — and actions in the streets — may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome,” said the report.