Oct 19 2017

Pondering the Pundits

i>“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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Joseph Stigliz: Wealth before health? Why intellectual property laws are facing a counterattack

When the South African government attempted to amend its laws in 1997 to avail itself of affordable generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/Aids, the full legal might of the global pharmaceutical industry bore down on the country, delaying implementation and extracting a high human cost. South Africa eventually won its case, but the government learned its lesson: it did not try again to put its citizens’ health and wellbeing into its own hands by challenging the conventional global intellectual property (IP) regime.

Until now. The South African cabinet is preparing to finalise an IP policy that promises to expand access to medicines substantially. South Africa will now undoubtedly face all manner of bilateral and multilateral pressure from wealthy countries. But the government is right, and other developing and emerging economies should follow in its footsteps.

Jay Michaelson: Trump’s Shocking Extremist Judges

While the world is distracted by his tweets, Donald Trump has already transformed the federal judiciary, nominating judges far outside the mainstream to lifetime terms. These candidates, handpicked by Leonard Leo, an extreme Catholic fundamentalist at the Federalist Society, would never have been considered by George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, yet are being fast-tracked through the Senate by the Republican Leadership.

Some of them are truly shocking.

The Lawyer for Voter Suppression

To the Eastern District Court of North Carolina, Trump/Leo has nominated Thomas Farr, whose nomination is being voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday, October 19th. A bit of background: the Eastern District is 30% African-American, and includes most of the so-called “Black Belt” in which most of the African-Americans in North Carolina live. Yet it has never had an African-American judge in its 143-year history. President Obama nominated two highly qualified candidates, both African-American women, but neither received even a hearing because the state’s Republican senators failed to endorse them, as is the longstanding Senate custom.

To that seat, one of 59 stolen from President Obama by Republican obstructionism, Trump has named Farr, whom the Congressional Black Caucus described as “the preeminent attorney for North Carolina Republicans seeking to curtail the voting rights of people of color.”

Charles M. Blow: Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying …

It is a commonly accepted rule among those who are in the business of argument, especially online, that he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument.

The reference is deemed far too extreme, too explosive, too far beyond rational correlation. No matter how bad a present-day politician, not one of them has charted or is charting a course to exterminate millions of innocent people as an act of ethnic cleansing.

Hitler stands alone in this regard, without rival, a warning to the world about how evil and lethal human beings can be, a warning that what he did can never be allowed again.

That said, there are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others.

William Rivers Pitt: Steve Bannon’s Armageddon

The Yellowstone caldera has a lot of people on edge this week, apparently for good reason. For those not in the know, a caldera is the depression left in the ground after a supervolcano erupts. Yellowstone did so about 630,000 years ago, and the violence of that mighty explosion — the likes of which have never been seen by human eyes — made that gorgeous national park what it is today.

If Yellowstone decides to erupt, well, buy canned goods. An eruption won’t be the continent-obliterating event depicted in the disaster flick 2012 (I’m sure Woody Harrelson will be fine), but it would be quite completely bad. Every crop within 500 miles in all directions at least will be buried in ash, and the sky will be last-book-in-the-Bible black until a good, stiff breeze picks up the ejecta cloud and drags it out over the Atlantic. [..]

Lately, when I think of Yellowstone exploding, I think of former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s nascent “revolution.” Like the caldera, it’ll be something else indeed. If he fails, he could unleash chaos. If he succeeds, the very survival of the nation could be cast into doubt.

Steve Bannon’s curiously corkscrewed path through this life has been well-documented. His husbanding of the far-right racist, misogynist, Islamophobic “news” site Breitbart landed him on the Trump presidential campaign and put him in the White House as chief strategist for a small slice of time, but it is his gleeful wrecking ball enthusiasm that has him in the news lately.

Michael Tomasky: Donald Trump Demeans Decency and Service to Talk More About Donald Trump

As we await Donald Trump’s promised “proof” that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is lying about what the president said to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson—proof, we can fairly assume, that he’s keeping in the same file drawer as his proof that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and that those dozen women who came forward last fall to describe how he groped them were all lying—we should step away from the sordid details for a moment (we’ll return to them, rest assured!) and look at a bigger question:

What psychic toll is this man’s presidency taking on us, as he demolishes one standard of decency after another?

We have a president who is such a relentless narcissist that he make the tragic deaths of American soldiers into a story about his manhood. And notice how this time it wasn’t just Obama, Trump’s usual punching bag. It was “other presidents”—George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Bush Sr., all of them. The insecurity is mind-boggling, that he has to make this tragedy about himself.

But far worse than the insecurity is the politicizing of these deaths. Presidents make these calls all the time. No one but no one disputes this. And they don’t go around bragging about it. They expressly do not talk about it, because to talk about it is to defile it.