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Feb 22 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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E. J. Dionne Jr.: Why is only one side in the gun culture war required to show respect?

You have perhaps heard the joke about the liberal who is so open-minded that he can’t even take his own side in an argument.

What’s less funny is that on gun control, liberals (and their many allies who are moderate, conservative and nonideological) have been told for years that if they do take their own side in the argument, they will only hurt their cause.

Supporters of even modest restrictions on firearms are regularly instructed that their ardent advocacy turns off Americans in rural areas and small towns. Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded as horrific elitists who disrespect a valued way of life.

And as the mass killings continue, we are urged to be patient and to spend our time listening earnestly to the views of those who see even a smidgen of action to limit access to guns as the first step toward confiscation. Our task is not to fight for laws to protect innocents, but to demonstrate that we really, honestly, truly, cross-our-hearts, positively love gun owners and wouldn’t for an instant think anything ill of them.

What is odd is that those with extreme pro-gun views — those pushing for new laws to allow people to carry just about anytime, anywhere — are never called upon to model similar empathy toward children killed, the mourning parents left behind, people in urban neighborhoods suffering from violence, or the majority of Americans who don’t own guns.

Dana Milbank: Why won’t pro-lifers act against our deadly gun culture?

Let us hear no more lectures from Clarence Thomas on the sanctity of human life.

The Supreme Court justice, with timing that could be charitably described as clumsy, issued his latest paean to gun rights Tuesday, as the child victims of last week’s school shooting were still being buried.

Reacting to his colleagues’ refusal to hear a case challenging California’s waiting period for gun purchases, he complained that justices would hear similar challenges to abortion, speech or privacy. “The Court would take these cases because abortion, speech, and the Fourth Amendment are three of its favored rights,” Thomas wrote. “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan.”

Not for the first time, Thomas has it backward. Abortions are restricted far more than guns (and abortions are declining, while gun deaths are rising). Even speech is limited if it endangers life. Why shouldn’t there be reasonable restrictions on guns, too?

But Thomas has a bigger problem: claiming to be “pro-life” while his advocacy of unlimited gun rights expands a culture of death. The gun-control movement has been reluctant to use such words, lest it be seen as aping the antiabortion movement. But the theme is apt, and it points to the hypocrisy of those who profess to be pro-life but are also pro-gun without exception, those who denounce the termination of a pregnancy but not the termination of innocent life outside the womb.

If anything, the “sanctity of life” argument is more compelling for gun control: There is no moral consensus on abortion, but there is a moral consensus on wanton killing.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Pledge to Transform the Resistance, and America

A popular narrative today is that we live in a country which is deeply divided. And the Democratic Party, we are told, is nearly as split as the nation itself. But chatter in the press and social media may overlook some fundamental points of agreement about changes we need to make in our economy.

That’s the premise behind a new pledge, the “Agenda for Good Jobs, Sustainable Prosperity, and Economic Justice,” that has been signed by more than 70 prominent progressives. It declares “both major political parties have allowed the wealthy and the giant corporations to exercise far too much influence in American life” before laying out an 11-point agenda to rebuild a human-centered economy, and remove the corrupting influence of big money from the political process.

“Resistance” to Donald Trump is a vital effort. But resistance is reactive; it only defines what we’re against. If today’s resistance is to become a lasting movement, we must decide what we’re for. Otherwise, the Resistance will fail to motivate the 38 percent of Americans who didn’t vote in the last election.

Richard Wolffe: Marco Rubio almost got away with his routine. Then he met Cameron Kasky

Marco Rubio is a very talented politician. He walked into an arena full of 7,000 Floridians who were determined to heckle him for siding with the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his entire career.

But within minutes of talking, he earned some respect. He didn’t stop the heckling, but he did his very best impression of a sincere man who honestly wanted to keep children safe, if only there weren’t so many complications to this whole lawmaking thing.

There are apparently lots of guns, and lots of loopholes. How on earth can a little law tackle such a big problem [..]

With ample charm and empathy, he almost got away with it. Until he met a 17-year-old student who was just as talented as him: Cameron Kasky, who survived the shooting by huddling with his brother in a classroom.

Kasky walked up to Rubio and shook his hand, along with the hands of the other politicians on stage: Florida senator Bill Nelson and his local congressman, Ted Deutch, both Democrats. He asked his friend to stand up and be acknowledged for signing up to serve in the military. And he asked the crowd not to boo Republicans and cheer Democrats. Like Rubio, he believed the nation needed to come together. “Anyone who is willing to change is someone we need on our side,” he declared.

Then the student closed in. “So, Senator Rubio,” he said casually, “can you tell me you won’t be accepting a single penny from the NRA?”

The crowd cheered like it was a slam dunkfest.

John Avalon: Florida Politicians Ignore the Real Pornography of Violence

Very little worthwhile in life is easy, as the survivors from Parkland High School found out Tuesday night in the Florida State Legislature. But even by lazy and corrupt state legislative standards, the politicians’ display was a profile of cynicism.

I’m not just talking about the fact that Florida State Legislature declined to support an assault weapons ban by a lopsided margin just days after the latest mass shooting in their state killed 17 kids and teachers.

I’m not talking about how Tallahassee’s gutless wonders refused to even debate the issue. But given how much politicians like to talk, it’s always telling when they refuse to engage in a debate. It’s usually because they will be asked to confront some uncomfortable truths that their safe space of ideology and donor dollars lets them otherwise deny.

No, the most cynical aspect of Tuesday night’s defeat was the fact that some genius decided to put a resolution defining pornography as a public health crisis next on the legislative docket. [..]

Faced with a crisis of violence, Florida’s legislators chose to ignore the real pornography of violence in favor of puritanical posturing. It’s kind of shallow, finger-wagging moralism that too often passes for real political principle, a strain the author and essayist Marilynne Robinson has called “salacious panic.”

But ask yourself what’s more offensive: a son or daughter with their guts suddenly ripped from their bodies by bullets from an AR-15 or sex?