Mar 08 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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Rebeca Solnit: Feminists have slowly shifted power. There’s no going back

This International Women’s Day comes five months after the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s long campaign of misogynist punishments of women first broke, and with them more things broke. Excuses broke. Silence was broken. The respectable appearance of a lot of institutions broke. You could say a dam broke, and a wall of women’s stories came spilling forth – which has happened before, but never the way that this round has. This time around, women didn’t just tell the stories of being attacked and abused; they named names, and abusers and attackers lost jobs and reputations and businesses and careers. They named names, and it mattered; people listened; their testimony had consequences. Because there’s a big difference between being able to say something and having it heard and respected. Consequences are often the difference.

Something had shifted. What’s often overlooked is that it had shifted beforehand so that this could happen. Something invisible had made it possible for these highly visible upheavals and transformations. People often position revolution and incrementalism as opposites, but if a revolution is something that changes things suddenly, incrementalism often lays the groundwork that makes it possible. Something happens suddenly, and that’s mistaken for something happening out of the blue. But out of the blue usually means out of the things that most people were not paying attention to, out of the slow work done by somebody or many somebodies out of the limelight for months or years or decades.

Jill Filipovic: Why is the gun industry so afraid of the long arm of the law?

In the wake of the mass killing at a school in Parkland, Florida, Americans are again embroiled in a debate about guns, and the consensus (at least outside of Congress) seems to be that it’s beyond time for sensible and effective gun laws.

Less clear is what those laws might be. Which ones would be the most effective in preventing the kind of killing sprees to which Americans have grown far too accustomed? And which ones would prevent the thousands of deaths that don’t grab headlines, but still make the United States’ gun-slaughtered body count an outlier among peacetime nations?

Some are obvious: banning the bump stocks that make it possible to turn a legal gun into what amounts to an automatic machine gun; barring convicted violent criminals and those with domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning guns; requiring robust background checks for every single gun purchase; and strengthening licensing requirements so that, like driving a car, anyone who owns a gun has to actually know how to use one. Perhaps less obvious, but just as important: treating gun manufacturers like any other company.

Jill Abramson: Nepotism and corruption: the handmaidens of Trump’s presidency

Despite its fame, The Apprentice is not the reality television show that best explains Donald Trump’s presidency. To understand what’s going on in the White House, tune into a popular show that had its premiere at about the same time: American Greed.

We learned last week that Jared Kushner met with big-time financial executives in the White House and then hit them up for $500m in loans to his family’s troubled real estate empire, a business in which he maintains an active stake. This truly tops most of the financial chicanery featured on American Greed and I can almost hear Stacey Keach, the actor who narrates the show, setting up the dark contours of Jared’s latest episode of corrupt Washington deal-making.

While the loans would be a shocking scandal for any other administration, our senses have been dulled. Already, the president set the ethical compass for his presidency low by failing to cut his own ties to the Trump Organization and not, as every recent president has done, releasing his taxes.

Margaret Carlson: Trump’s Problem Isn’t Who’s Leaving—It’s Who’s Staying

Gary Cohn resigning as national economic adviser is bad for the adult quotient in the West Wing, as well as for the Dow Jones.

But just as big a worry as who’s leaving is who’s staying. Although not the shiny object that Cohn (or Hope Hicks, Rob Porter, or Steve Bannon), cabinet secretaries who would be long gone in any other administration are hanging on, redecorating (see HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s $31,000 desk while removing anti-discrimination language from his agency’s mission), flying flags over their headquarters to signal they are in charge while turning over public lands to oil drillers excepting his home state of Montana (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke), and increasing security details with a new $25,000 safe room lest anyone hear him endangering clean water (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt).

While each has violated norms in his own way, one thing unites them: the president is not insisting they leave because they haven’t violated his standard. And that standard is: If you don’t beat your wife with a picture that proves it, or dump all over Trump and his family in a best-selling book, you are doing a helluva job.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, though, is a special case. Trump would love to fire him, yet he persists, enduring despite the worst insults Trump can think up and spell correctly. Over the weekend, I heard Sessions tell a friend from Alabama that it will take a lot more than Trump’s taunts—specifically “a bullet between the eyes”—to remove him. This may be a relief even to many Democrats who know that any replacement would likely be so much worse.

Karen Dolan: Getting Real About School Safety

Can we get real about school safety?

Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, there have been at least 239 school shootings in the United States. 438 people were shot and injured in these shootings, and 138 people were killed.

On Valentine’s Day of this year, 14 high school students and three faculty members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida were gunned down in the hallways and classrooms.

The survivors are demanding that lawmakers take action to get guns out of schools so this carnage might stop.

The National Rifle Association, the Trump administration, and many conservative lawmakers are answering these demands for fewer guns by calling for… even more guns in schools. Specifically, they want more armed guards, and even armed teachers.

Is that really the answer? [..]

A better way forward for school safety is to invest in training teachers in social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD) to spot and address trauma and stress — to see and teach the whole child. And to invest in restorative justice practices that nurture kids while holding them accountable, to help kids move on from small infractions before things escalate.

Our gun-soaked society is a critical piece of the problem, and strong gun control laws can begin to address that. But another critical piece of the problem is a punitive society that targets vulnerable children for non-violent offenses.

Instead of arming schools — which benefits only the NRA and lawmakers who’ve been bought by them — what our education system needs is resources to support the healthy development of all students.

Then we’re getting real about school safety.