Feb 09 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Jessica Valenti: Elizabeth Warren won’t be silenced – and neither will American women

Senate Republicans seem to be under the mistaken impression that having elected a notorious misogynist as president means that they can stifle women’s voices without anyone noticing or caring.

That’s the only explanation I can muster for why they thought that it was acceptable – or strategically sound – to silence Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday night during a debate over Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general. Republicans really must have thought it was in their best interest. They really must not be paying attention.

After claiming that Warren broke Senate rules by reading from a 30-year-old letter from Coretta Scott King opposing Sessions for a federal judgeship, majority leader Mitch McConnell said: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

It’s a familiar refrain for most women – we’ve all had men try to shut us down and get frustrated when we dared to “persist”. So it should come as no surprise that Wednesday morning, #LetLizSpeak, #ShePersists and Silencing Elizabeth Warren were all trending on Twitter.

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss and the massive Women’s Marches across the country, American women simply won’t stand for Republicans trying to shut us up.

What was especially loathsome about the Republican’s move was that they didn’t just silence Warren – they silenced Coretta Scott King, activist and widow of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. During Black History Month, no less.

Amanda Marcotte: A new front in the assault on women’s freedom: Anti-choice activists now going after birth control

Most conservatives are masters of the bad-faith argument, but none so more than anti-choice activists. For decades now, anti-choicers have perfected the art of concealing their hostility to abortion and contraception with terms like “pro-life” and their supposed concern with “protecting women’s health.”

This disingenuous approach characterized the conservative response to a Department of Health and Human Services requirement, created under the Affordable Care Act, that requires insurance plans to cover contraception without a co-payment.

Until recently Republicans have framed their objections to mandatory contraception coverage with a religious freedom argument, arguing that the mandate offended the sensibilities of religious employers. Efforts to chip away at insurance coverage of contraception were largely focused on carving out broad exemptions for employers who claimed a religious objection to the mandate, instead of ending the regulation itself.

But now we’re living under President Donald Trump in an America shaped by Breitbart News, and right-wingers opposed to women’s reproductive freedom can zoom right past the euphemism and into the territory of belligerent misogyny.

Douglas Wiliams: Jeff Sessions wasn’t just Donald Trump’s doing. Blame radical Republicans, too

Donald Trump has often been painted as being at odds with the Republican party. Hillary Clinton once declared that Trump was “taking hate groups mainstream, and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican party”. But the Republican party has always been radical – and now we are seeing that radicalism writ large.

The confirmation of Jeff Sessions to the position of attorney general – as well as the silencing of Elizabeth Warren in the Senate – showed that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are as much a part of the Republican party’s fabric as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

Elizabeth Warren was silenced in the US Senate because she allegedly “impugned the motives and conduct” of Jeff Sessions by reading a letter by a civil rights leader, Coretta Scott King. You get that? It was not Sessions’s joke about supporting the Ku Klux Klan “until I found out they smoked pot” that impugned his reputation. Nor was it Sessions’s enthusiasm for indicting activists trying to help black people vote. It was Elizabeth Warren reading a letter by King.

The way that Warren was shut down by Senate Republicans should not come as a surprise given the kind of authoritarian moves that the Trump administration has made against the press, immigrants and the American people. But we must not forget: it was the party stalwart McConnell – and not Trump – who silenced her.

Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Leading Rivals Wear Robes

President Obama was no fan of the dreadful 2010 Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of corporate personhood. In that case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court asserted that political spending, including by corporations, was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, opening the door for corporations to spend unlimited money on ads and other tools to get candidates elected. [..]

That was his personal opinion — and the opinion of millions of Americans, many of whom were his supporters — and he had every right to voice it. Furthermore, he did so by confining his displeasure to the ruling itself and not impugning in any way the character or qualifications of the justices who rendered it.

And yet, condemnation of Obama was swift and brutal from some quarters.

You could argue that the venue of the State of the Union was not the appropriate one for Obama to repeat his criticism. But it is impossible to argue that his judicial rebuke, which looks quaint in retrospect, comes anywhere close to the venom Donald Trump is spewing at the judicial branch.