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Sep 06 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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Russ Feingold: Trump’s voter suppression efforts must be defeated. Here’s one thing we can do

So much news in the US recently has been upsetting, and rarely uplifting; but the champions of voting rights have reasons to be both aghast at recent headlines and encouraged by them. On the one hand, the Trump-Pence “election integrity” commission’s every move continues to underscore concerns that it is driving at 90mph towards national voter suppression. Then there is the sudden decision by Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Session’s Department of Justice to support purging voter rolls in Ohio. It’s enough to make voters feel like they have targets on their backs.

On the other hand, Rhode Island recently became the ninth state to enact AVR – automatic voter registration – and on 28 August Illinois became the 10th when its Republican governor signed the bill into law. While the federal government perpetuates myths and conspiracies in an effort to justify taking the vote away from citizens, more and more states are taking local action to strengthen and protect this most fundamental democratic right. [..]

We cannot make people vote, but we can certainly make it easier for them to do so. And it can be achieved without pillaging state voting records to build a national voter database that is susceptible to abuse and hacking.

Michael H. Fuchs: The US must talk to North Korea – not threaten war

The United States and North Korea need to talk.

Despite continuing provocations and saber-rattling, the United States must continue to work with allies to strengthen deterrence and ramp up the pressure on North Korea – but it must also push for diplomacy. Negotiations are the only hope for easing tensions.

The United States and North Korea are locked in a dangerous cycle of escalation, but one that’s not new: North Korea tests a nuclear weapon; the United States responds with sanctions and military exercises. Eventually, tensions ease, and diplomacy appears possible, only to be scuttled by another North Korean provocative act. Rinse and repeat.

The newest variable is the reckless rhetoric coming from the Trump administration – such as a threat of “fire and fury” and a claim that North Korea is “begging for war” – which damages alliances and raises the risk of conflict.

Dana Milbank: Apparently, it’s illegal to laugh at Jeff Sessions

Did you hear the one about Jeff Sessions?

I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. You see, it’s illegal to laugh at the attorney general, the man who on Tuesday morning announced that the 800,000 “dreamers” — immigrants brought here illegally as children — could soon be deported. If you were to find my Sessions jest funny, I would be an accessory to mirth.

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny). [..]

If the attorney general is going to continue doing laughable things and the Justice Department is going to keep making laughing at him a crime, we are going to need some new guidelines about which laughter is illegal (Fairooz claims her offense was “involuntary,” “reflexive” and at most a “chortle of disdain,” while others have described it as “two snorts” and a “giggle”) and a schedule of penalties.

A misdemeanor chuckle at the attorney general’s expense, for example, could be punished with up to 30 days in prison for first-time offenders. An aggravated guffaw would get you a year, and if you were to confront Sessions with a premeditated ROFLMAO, you’d be looking at 10 years, some of that in solitary listening to Sessions’s old Senate speeches. If you split your sides when you laughed at Sessions, your trial would be postponed until you were medically fit.

Of course, Sessions, as the victim of the crime, must recuse himself, and a special prosecutor for laughter must be appointed. I suggest James Comey, just for giggles.

Kathleen Parker: Have we reached a point of no return?

It has become axiomatic that when President Trump says or does something over the top or below the belt, beware the unseen.

His cunning use of distraction turns red herrings green with envy.

The template works like this: Trump says something outrageous that drives Washington’s Bubble Belt wild. The media leaps to outrage while bookers haul in “experts” to intone the obvious in exchange for makeup and a limo. [..]

But then, broadcast and cable producers know — and Trump knows deeply — that most Americans don’t really care that much about what they insist they care about. A few headlines will get most through the morning. Twitter and Facebook keep the curious plied with updates, and by day’s end, who really wants to plunge into tax reform?

It is true, nonetheless, that when Trump needs time to fidget with something that actually matters, he tosses a dead fish into the Dasani tank and waits for the media herdlings to begin their march toward the trough.