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.

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Linda Greenhouse: Justice Scalia’s Fading Legacy

It was more than three years after her retirement when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor publicly acknowledged her regret over seeing pieces of her legacy erased by a rightward-turning Supreme Court. “What would you feel?” she asked her biographer, Joan Biskupic, in a September 2009 interview. “I’d be a little bit disappointed. If you think you’ve been helpful and then it’s dismantled, you think, ‘Oh, dear.’ ”

The legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, two years after his death, is being erased as well. (He isn’t here to see it, of course, and he would no doubt have expressed his reaction differently.) When faced with interpreting an act of Congress, his colleagues evidently now feel free to invoke legislative history — committee reports, floor debates and the like — without tiptoeing over the hot coals of his scorn.

Legislative history without apology. It may seem a small thing compared with Justice O’Connor’s worries about the future of affirmative action and the right to abortion. But interpreting statutes is what the Supreme Court does most of the time, and given Congress’s affinity for using language that is deliberately or carelessly obscure or internally contradictory, it matters a great deal how the court approaches its interpretive task.

Jessica Valenti: Under Trump, the lies of abstinence-only sex education are back

There is something perfect about the irony of Donald Trump – a man who bragged about the size of his penis during a debate and who is currently being sued by a porn actressadvocating for abstinence-only education. But here we are, in the upside down.

Politico reports that Valerie Huber, a longtime abstinence-only activist turned Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staffer, will be making decisions about federal family planning funds. Huber, who was suspended from her position at the Ohio Department of Health after a state ethics investigation in 2006, is founder of the National Abstinence Educators Association, which later became Ascend. (The name change was part of a broader move by the abstinence-only movement to seem more credible.)

This comes on the heels of a leaked White House memo and HHS guidelines showing the administration plans to teach teenagers “fertility awareness methods” – otherwise known as the rhythm method – in lieu of birth control. Teens can barely get their homework in on time but somehow we’re expected to believe that they’re going to prevent pregnancy by tracking their periods.

While there is no lack of outrageous acts generated by the Trump administration these days, the idea that abstinence-only education is making a comeback cannot get lost in the muck.

Richard Wolffe: Rex Tillerson: hapless, hopeless and tragic. Now his time is up

Rex Tillerson was a part-time truth-teller. In one national security meeting, he had the piercing insight and honesty to call Donald Trump “a moron” – possibly an Anglo-Saxon kind of moron. Yet, like his boss, he lacked the self-awareness to know that the same critique applied to himself, as the moron’s secretary-of-state.

There were clues along the way, many of them spotted by the man he so openly disdained. It was the moron-in-chief who challenged the moron-of-state to an open contest of intellectual power. “I think it’s fake news,” Trump told Forbes magazine, dismissing the moronic comments. “But if he did [say] that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”

Genius. At some point, you just have to surrender to this kind of brainpower.

But Tillerson did not have the smarts to take his analytical powers all the way to their conclusion, by building a formidable citadel of diplomacy at the state department. Instead of counter-balancing the moronic foreign policy coming out of the White House, he dismantled his own staff and budget at his headquarters in Foggy Bottom.

At the same time, he was forced to endure a constant stream of childish taunts from his boss, who used his Twitter thumbs to tell him – and the rest of the world – that his outreach to North Korea was totally useless.

Dean Obeidallah: Mike Pompeo’s Disturbingly Consistent Friendships with Anti-Muslim Bigots

Richard Eskow: The $24 Million Reasons Dems Back America’s Worst Banks

Why would 16 Democratic senators join their Republican colleagues in pushing a bill that lays out a rich banquet of goodies before some of America’s worst bankers, and increases the risk that taxpayers will have to bail them out?

Here are 24 million reasons: These 16 Democrats have collectively received $24,488,961 in campaign contributions from savings and investment firms and commercial banks. They have also received $42,246,555 from lawyers and law firms, some of which represent banking interests, and $4,318,208 from lobbyists. [..]

The bill, which rolls back many of the key protections enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, will go before the full Senate shortly. It increases the risk of future bank bailouts and systemic financial crises. It also makes it easier for banks to get away with redlining, and discriminate against the very voters Democrats claim to represent.

With their vote, which all but guarantees the eventual passage of the deceptively named “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,” these Democrats gave Republicans the key to victory for an effort that began with an “in-person push” by lobbyists in Donald Trump’s office.