May 14 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: The anti-choice blacklist: Dems call out Republicans for abusing congressional powers to intimidate women’s health providers

Last summer, a group of anti-choice activists managed to successfully hijack the news cycle with claims that Planned Parenthood was running an underground operation selling fetal tissue for profit. Claims that lurid pretty much always turn out to be right wing urban legends, and this time was no different: Two dozen states investigated Planned Parenthood and found no evidence for these claims. Meanwhile, the activist behind the videos, David Daleiden, has been indicted in Texas, appears to be under investigation in California,  and has been floundering in court after being sued by the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.

Despite all this, House Republicans used the hoax videos as a pretext to hold hearing supposedly investigating these claims. After it became evident that anti-choicers got nothing, however, Republicans didn’t shut down the kangaroo trials. On the contrary, Rep. Marsha Blackburn has been running a seemingly endless, free-form investigation of women’s health providers, under the dishonest name the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Dishonest, because this has been going on for months and not once have they addressed any issues pertinent to infant lives, even though there are a lot of issues — child care, diaper access, health care, nutrition — where government involvement actually could improve infant lives.

House Democrats have gotten aggressive in recent weeks, trying to call attention to the fact that these “investigations” are  not actually investigations, but instead a show trial, with Republicans using taxpayer money to harass and abuse medical providers who dare to help women have healthier lives.

Richard Wolffe: Paul Ryan and Donald Trump might say they’re unified. But there’s a bloody civil war on

When Donald Trump met with Paul Ryan in Washington on Thursday, you could say it was a meeting between the current and possibly future nominee of the Republican party. Or you could say it was a battle for the soul of the party, between a conservative reformer and nativist rabble-rouser.

The latter is how Ryan himself portrayed the debate when he torpedoed the orange flagship on CNN last week. Saying he “just wasn’t ready” to support Trump, the House speaker warned that Trump’s platform was not inclusive, presidential or, well, conservative. [..]

So when the two great leaders met on Thursday morning, somewhere behind a monster scrum of live-tweeting reporters, the language was a diplomatic veneer of unity.

In their joint communique, Trump and Ryan said: “While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground.” The joint statement did not detail what that common ground looks like, other than defeating Hillary Clinton. Which sounds much like the statements of a Miss Universe contestant at one of Trump’s beauty pageants: both contestants agree that they want to travel, help children and work for world peace.

Ryan later told reporters a little more about those “few differences”, which sounded rather fundamental. “How do we keep adding and adding and adding voters while not subtracting any voters,” he said. He didn’t have to say: like Latinos or women, for instance.

Conor Lynch: The nightmarish “unity” of the Republican Party: What Trump & Ryan have in common is very, very scary

Shortly after their first meeting earlier this week, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a joint statement announcing that their encounter was a “very positive step toward unification,” while stating that “the United States cannot afford another four years of the Obama White House, which is what Hillary Clinton represents.” Though Ryan did not endorse the billionaire, saying that it would take more than one meeting, he noted that it is “critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall.”

With the Republican Party currently divided over whether to support Trump — who has made a campaign out of know-nothing chauvinism, the scapegoating of ethnic and religious minority groups, and impulsive taunting and name-calling of his critics — one must consider what exactly these “shared principles” really are.

William Rivers Pitt: Donald Trump Has Already Destroyed the GOP

When I was a boy, we had a small cocker spaniel. Though she was dumber than a can of paint — she would run headlong into walls on a regular basis — the pup had moves like Barry Sanders coming out of the backfield. At the sound of a door to the outside being opened she’d come charging, claws raking the hardwood floor. A feint to the left, a jink to the right, a hesitation followed by a surge and she was gone down the front steps and into the world like a blur. Stopping her was like trying to catch smoke.

Invariably, she would find herself in the company of Big Red, an enormous orange Labrador mongrel who roamed our neighborhood like a massive free-range chicken with rail spikes for teeth. Big Red stood chest-high to the average Buick and had a head the size of a beer keg, while our spaniel was no bigger than a minute, and yet the two of them always managed to figure out a way to copulate.

It did not go well, due to a phenomenon dog people call “The Mating Tie,” in which the two creatures become locked together at the rear once the act is completed. Big Red would finish his business and lope off toward whatever adventures awaited him with our poor wee spaniel attached to his rump, dragging her through the dirt as she howled piteously, her little paws scrabbling for purchase. Big Red didn’t even notice she was there.

I think of this, and I think of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.