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Apr 21 2016

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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Amanda Marcotte: They only want to honor white men: The pathetic conservative meltdown over the Harriet Tubman $20 bill exposes the right’s petty identity politics

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department unveiled a plan to redesign the $20, $10, and $5 bills to better reflect American history, moving some of the (all white, all male) former presidents around on the bills and making room to put luminaries like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt on various bills. The biggest shift will be Tubman, who helped create and run the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves, gracing the front of the $20 bill, kicking Andrew Jackson to the back. [..]

The Treasury’s decision should be non-controversial. After all, we all agree that history is made by more than presidents (plus, the $100 bill has a non-president on it, which confirms this is a shared belief), and that people other than white men exist and matter. Don’t we? You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees publicly with these contentions, except perhaps on some Twitter accounts that Trump keeps retweeting.

Yet, in a move that was entirely predictable, right wing pundits are in meltdown, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that, regardless of any surface claims to believe in equality, the reality is that they adhere to the belief that white men are the only ones who really matter and the rest of us are just the supporting cast.

Marcy Wheeler: The FBI’s dangerous Apple-hack rationalizations: How it’s now stealing a page from the CIA’s torture playbook

In justifying their efforts to get into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, the FBI is now using the same logic that the CIA used to justify torturing people who had no information to share.

From the start of the FBI’s efforts to get into Farook’s phone, it was fairly clear there’d be nothing on it. What kind of terrorist, planning to attack his co-workers at a holiday party, would coordinate his planning on his work-issued phone? Plus, Farook went to some lengths to make data on his other devices unavailable. He destroyed two personal cell phones and successfully hid a hard drive. That he didn’t make the same effort with his work phone should have been the tip off for the nation’s top law enforcement agency that there would be nothing there.

David Dayen: This election is blinding us to a Wall Street outrage: Inside the media’s negligent response to a foreclosure disaster

One of the biggest problems with the permanent campaign mentality we’ve succumbed to is that every issue gets folded into the presidential election. Last week we saw a perfect example. An activist group that has for years been criticizing pernicious practices at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) escalated their campaign, known as Don’t Sell our Homes to Wall Street. And the only thing the media cared about was how it would affect HUD Secretary Julián Castro’s chances for the vice presidency. [..]

This is dumb. Housing advocacy groups have been working on this issue since well before Castro became HUD Secretary in July 2014. They represent communities of color that have been devastated by foreclosures and are now seeing the same financial players who precipitated that crisis come back into their neighborhoods to wreak havoc. And at a time when they’ve begged for mortgage relief for troubled borrowers, they’re seeing that relief go to the Wall Street firms instead.

Heather Digby Parton: The Trump hype is out of control: Why he’s still no lock to win the GOP nomination

It’s a known fact that if you watch enough political news on cable TV you will eventually lose your grip on reality. Each day brings a different breathless narrative of events and the conventional wisdom turns 180 degrees. And yet the basic facts have changed not at all.

For instance, we have all just spent the last two weeks listening to the pundits, advocates and anchors explaining in minute detail how Ted Cruz is successfully undermining Donald Trump with his wily strategy to seduce and persuade delegates to vote for him if Trump fails to win on the first ballot. Everywhere you turned, Cruz was the man with momentum, outfoxing Donald Trump, who was flummoxed and confused, unable to compete in a game for which he hadn’t even bothered to learn the rules. His amateur campaign was is disarray, heads were rolling and it appeared he was in big, big trouble.

Then Trump won New York and he won it in grand fashion. And suddenly the entire narrative changed. [..]

Michael Winship: This Election’s Teaching Our Kids Bad Habits

On the day before Easter, PEZ Candy USA had to cancel its annual egg hunt in Orange, Connecticut. Adults rushed the fields where the eggs and candy had been put out, pushing aside and trampling the little ones in a mad scramble to grab the goodies for their own children. Noses bled, tears were shed and next time — if there is one — PEZ will have to have lots of security guards on hand to keep the grown-ups from behaving like idiots.

The debacle kind of reminded me of this year’s election.

As this grim electoral season cycles on, I sometimes think we’re all living in Ghostbusters II, with that river of ugly pink slime coursing underneath our feet, violently reacting to our collective negativity and hate and making them worse.

The decline in the level of discourse in this year’s election cycle has been a disgrace, with Democrats behaving better than Republicans — one egregious GOP candidate, of course, in particular. But even supporters of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns have stooped to disingenuous arguments, gratuitous sniping and ad hominem attacks. The trolls and zealots have been out in force with their name-calling and sometimes threats of physical violence and none of it’s helping anyone.