Aug 02 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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Lindy West: Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats

Democrats will fund anti-choice candidates in conservative districts, Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview this week, citing the party’s need to build “a broad coalition” to win control of Congress in 2018. “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján told The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.” [..]

I relate to the flailing panic that is no doubt undergirding such a morally putrescent idea. Nineteen hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner control the White House, and ice is becoming extinct. I get it. I am desperate and afraid as well. I am prepared to make leviathan compromises to pull us back from that brink. But there is no recognizable version of the Democratic Party that does not fight unequivocally against half its constituents’ being stripped of ownership of their own bodies and lives. This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for.

To legislatively oppose abortion is to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women. At worst it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order. Where, exactly, on that spectrum is Luján comfortable placing his party?

Kathleen Parker: Who can save us from ourselves?

Insidious is the force that causes us to dream of things we wish (or don’t wish) were so.

Thus, on the eve of this column’s creation, I dreamed of Donald J. Trump. We were seated at a dinner table for eight, but the other six chairs were empty. We spoke of many things, from education to globalization and the near-universal crisis of identity. The president was courtly, humble, erudite and wise.

I awoke suddenly to the harsh sounds of braying asses (I had left the TV on), only to realize that I was actually dreaming of Adlai Stevenson, the twice-defeated presidential candidate who lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower in part because of his excess erudition. In today’s clever-ish jargon, he was too thinky.

Mine was a dream of wishes, obviously, for we suffer no such excesses

Lucia Graves: Who’d want Scaramucci’s job now? In Trump’s White House, no one comes out alive

It’s been a very bad week for Anthony Scaramucci, who, after getting sacked from his marriage, got sacked from his job.

He’s dead even to his alma mater – Harvard law school’s alumni directory, in an erroneous report, apparently declared him deceased.

That his stint in the public eye lasted less than two weeks, though, should be less a punchline than it is edifying. The lesson: there is no worse job than trying to speak for Trump.

Though his entire White House has been full of political upheaval, with jobs changing over and positions going unfilled, it’s not by chance the the role of spokesperson is most fraught.

Under any president it’s a job that requires answering to the public, and if you work for Trump, that means obfuscating all the time. It also means, more than any other single person, and there are plenty within the White House, you’re the fallguy to absorb Trump’s hit.

Jonathan Freedman: Donald Trump’s views on Britain show him up for the narcissist he is

There is, inevitably, much to feast on in the full transcript of the Wall Street Journal’s interview with Donald Trump, which that paper did not want published but which was leaked to Politico and is now available for all to see.

There’s a media story to tell, obviously. The leaker is presumed to be a Journal insider frustrated by the paper’s stance on Trump, which many at the WSJ fear is too cosy. They will not be reassured by some of the chummy chatter that passes between the Journal’s editor Gerard Baker, Trump and the presidential daughter, Ivanka. It’s all golf, parties in the Hamptons and the shared bond between Baker and Ivanka, who both have daughters named Arabella. [..]

But for British observers, it’s his responses to questions about a future, post-Brexit UK-US trade deal that will be seized on. Trump notes the confusing number of names for the country. The US ambassador is “the ambassador to the Court of St. James, which is England, you know, et cetera, et cetera,” he says. Later he muses, “I can say that we’re going to be very involved with the UK. I mean, you don’t hear the word Britain anymore. It’s very interesting. It’s like, nope.”

It’s not easy to disentangle what’s going on here, but Trump seems to be lamenting that political correctness compels him to say “UK”, which includes Northern Ireland, rather than “Britain”. Perhaps he thinks UK is equivalent to “Happy Holidays”, when he prefers “Merry Christmas” (a pet grievance of Trump’s).

Kate Aronoff: Utilities companies won’t let you sell your own solar power. Why not?

A new report from the US-based Energy and Policy Institute last week found that investor-owned utilities have known about climate change for nearly 50 years – and done everything in their power to stop governments from doing anything about it.

From their commitment to toxic fuels to their corrosive influence on our democracy to their attempts to price-gouge ratepayers, it’s long past time to bring the reign of privately-owned electric utilities to an end.

Recent findings about utilities mirror a 2015 investigation by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, in which reporters discovered that ExxonMobil – secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s former employer – had sponsored cutting-edge climate research as far back as the 1970s. Like Exxon, utility industry groups hired scientists to investigate the impact of carbon dioxide on the environment. Also like Exxon, they then proceeded to funnel millions into lobbying efforts and misinformation campaigns that cast doubt on those same scientists’ research.