Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's citizenship question defeat


We begin today’s roundup with Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast and his analysis of Donald Trump’s walkback from attempting to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census:

What’s actually meaningful are the two lawsuits over the citizenship question and the congressional investigations over what Trump officials knew and when. And all of those are still ongoing.

Why? Because, at this point, those investigations are about the lies the administration told, not the underlying question itself: the cover-up, not the crime, so to speak. And those are all live legal questions.

More from Alison Durkee:

While the Trump camp tried hard to paint their retreat in noble terms and insist that Trump was taking decisive action through his executive order—“Congratulations again, Mr. President, on taking this effective action,” Barr told Trump during the news conference—Trump‘s action isn’t actually at all revolutionary. Rather than presenting a bold new solution, the administration is instead just falling back on the method for gathering citizenship data that the Census Bureau’s own researchers insisted on way back in January 2018. In a memo sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the government data method was pushed as being “comparatively far less costly” than the census question, and would not “increase response burden” or ”harm the quality of the census count.” Per CNN, while Ross shut down that solution as the primary method for acquiring citizenship data at the time, he still wanted to gather government data in tandem with the citizenship question. Because of that, while Trump may be asking agencies for their information now, in reality the Census Bureau has already been at work for months compiling a citizenship data file. Ross “hasn’t issued any revision” to his instruction to compile government data, Census Bureau Chief Scientist John Abowd reportedly said at a meeting in May, “so we’re operating under that instruction.” Abowd added that an “internal expert panel” had already been convened to lead that effort. “This news conference was total propaganda,” Vanita Gupta, the former head of the DOJ’s civil rights division and the chief executive of the Leadership Conference, told the New York Times. “The government already has access to all of this citizenship data through administrative records, and already studies it. Trump just didn’t want to admit defeat.”

Meanwhile, Carolyn Kormann calls for the declaration of a climate emergency:

While Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez’s calls for a climate-emergency declaration are not solving any problems, they are providing the language that needs to dominate the national conversation. And that matters. The United Nations recently warned that climate disasters are happening at the rate of one per week. This past June was the hottest on record. At the end of the month, a freak storm buried Guadalajara, Mexico, in hail, and on Thursday morning news outlets reported that freak hailstorms in Greece killed seven people. A month’s worth of rain fell on Washington, D.C., in an hour on Monday (while Trump completely ignored the climate crisis in his speech on the environment), then more flash floods drowned New Orleans, which is now preparing for a tropical storm that could dump another twenty inches of rain and test the city’s levees. The warming that happens over the next few decades could kill all of the world’s coral reefs, lead to even more severe storms and wildfires, and set off the sorts of tipping points that most concern scientists—specifically, the irreversible dissolution of the Greenland ice sheet, where, in June, a heatwave set off melting across half of its surface. More than seven hundred and forty governments in sixteen countries have now declared some form of climate emergency, according to activists from the Climate Mobilization, who have been helping lead the campaign. 

Andrew Marantz at The New Yorker analyzes the White House troll summit:

It should surprise no one that Trump’s ideal White House gathering looks a lot like his ideal morning show. In both cases, the goal is to radically constrain the terms of the debate: Is Trump awesomely amazing, or amazingly awesome? The discussion in the East Room surely revolved around a set of questions—obsessions, really—familiar to anyone who has spent more than five minutes lurking on maga Twitter. Are right-wing activists the greatest free-speech martyrs society has ever known? Will the liberal thought-police of Silicon Valley stop at nothing to silence conservative voices? Is free speech dead?

At USA Today, Danny Glover reflects on the value of the post office:

Today, the U.S. Postal Service is under pressure to slash costs in ways that would be devastating for customers and employees of all races — but especially African Americans. For black families like mine, the Postal Service has long been one of the few reliable paths to the middle class.

My parents were so proud in 1957 when they had saved enough money to buy a house. They sometimes held union meetings in our living room and had me put my seventh-grade typing skills to good use addressing envelopes for the union newsletter.

On a final note, don’t miss Susan Glasser’s latest on Trump and the GOP:

The explanation for the utter collapse in Republican opposition to Trump is not so much brilliant politicking on Trump’s part as a mixture of traditional Washington hypocrisy and accommodation to power, combined with calculating individual ambition—like that which propelled Mulvaney into Trump’s Cabinet and his restive House Freedom Caucus colleagues into becoming the President’s most prominent Fox News shills. Undoubtedly, many have chosen to hold their tongues because they have seen the political punishment meted out by the Trump faithful to those few Republicans, such as now former senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, who dared to cross the President publicly. The former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who held his nose and made what his friends called a “a devil’s bargain” with Trump, got nothing out of it beyond Trump’s scorn. (The President called him a “Boy Scout,” which, Alberta reports, is an insult in Trump-speak.) Ryan eventually decided to retire early rather than be forced out of office or endure more of the President.

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