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Jan 17 2018

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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Cornel West: America is spiritually bankrupt. We must fight back together

We live in one of the darkest moments in American history – a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black people. Back then, I reached heartbreaking yet hopeful conclusions. Now, the heartbreak cuts much deeper and the hope has nearly run out.

The nihilism in black America has become a massive spiritual blackout in America. The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled even more racial hatred and contempt.

The rule of Big Money and its attendant culture of cupidity and mendacity has so poisoned our hearts, minds and souls that a dominant self-righteous neoliberal soulcraft of smartness, dollars and bombs thrives with little opposition.

The escalating military overreach abroad, the corruption of political and financial elites at home, and the market-driven culture of mass distractions on the internet, TV, and radio push toward an inescapable imperial meltdown, in which chauvinistic nationalism, plutocratic policies and spectatorial cynicism run amok.

Our last and only hope is prophetic fightback – a moral and spiritual awakening that puts a premium on courageous truth telling and exemplary action by individuals and communities.

The distinctive features of our spiritual blackout are threefold.

John McCain: Mr. President, stop attacking the press

After leaving office, President Ronald Reagan created the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to recognize individuals who have fought to spread liberty worldwide. Nancy Reagan continued the tradition after her husband’s death, and in 2008 she bestowed the honor on human rights icon Natan Sharansky, who credited Reagan’s strong defense of freedom for his own survival in Soviet gulags. Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world.

President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way. He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing “fake news awards” upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with. Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Will our endless wars fuel the next populist revolt?

Will America’s endless wars without victory be the next source fueling popular revolt against the political establishment? In 2016, Washington pundits were shocked to discover the grim reality and anger of working people in “flyover country” that fueled the candidacies of Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right. The foreign policy establishment of both parties may soon discover that utterly ignoring popular discontent with America’s wars may fuel a similar populist eruption. [..]

In three successive elections — Obama over John McCain and Mitt Romney, and Trump over Hillary Clinton — Americans voted for the candidate most skeptical of the United States’ wars. Yet the wars and the sacrifice of lives and resources continue. During the campaign, Trump charged that “the people opposing us are the same people — and think of this — who’ve wasted $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East — we could have rebuilt our country twice — that have produced only more terrorism, more death and more suffering. Imagine if that money had been spent at home.” Yet now Trump is committed to spending trillions more on the same wars.

Dana Milbank:This way madness lies

This way madness lies.

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

What I was not expecting was that Nielsen would raise a question about whether Norwegians are mostly white. [..]

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Just as Nielsen “imagines” Norwegians are white, I imagine that she, in her denial of the obvious and defense of the indefensible, is the latest Trump sycophant to trash her reputation. She joins the two Republican senators, David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who were in the room for the “shithole” moment but not only denied that it was said (Trump’s use of the vulgar word was widely confirmed, even by Fox News, and not denied by the White House until Trump tweeted a partial denial the next day) but also disparaged the integrity of Durbin for being truthful.

It’s clear they, like Nielsen, do this so they don’t get crosswise with the volatile president — but in the process shred their own integrity.

Kathleen Turner: Trump’s judges threaten reproductive rights for generations to come

I was 19 years old when I first visited a Planned Parenthood health center. It was 1973, the same year the supreme court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in the landmark Roe v Wade decision. Decades later, who possibly could have thought that my daughter’s generation would still be fighting for the legal right for women to control our own bodies?

Anti-choice activists and lawmakers have been systematically chipping away at reproductive freedom at all levels of government, and too often doing so under the radar so that few will notice. In my travels I have met educated, successful women who have no idea of the restrictions being enacted in their own states. I’ll never forget a woman I met in Houston who, after I mentioned that Texas had passed a mandatory waiting period for abortions, responded: “No, I would know that.” But we don’t always know – and that’s part of the success of the anti-choice movement.

After years of this type of erosion, the Trump administration is now taking big and permanent swings at reproductive rights by nominating extreme anti-choice figures to serve as judges in lifetime positions.