Apr 06 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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Noah Berlatsky: Bad Ideas Aren’t Worth Debating


The issue is not left intolerance. The issue is that conservative intellectuals make bad, often nonsensical arguments, and spout opinions that are hateful and harmful on their face.

Nor is this a surprise, given the last several decades of American history. Anyone looking objectively at the GOP’s record in politics over the last 30-odd years would reasonably conclude that conservatism is a bankrupt and harmful ideology, built on bigotry and a fetishization of tax cuts for the rich. The previous Republican president, George W. Bush, presided over an unnecessary and catastrophic war, a horrifyingly incompetent hurricane relief effort, and a historic, devastating financial collapse. The current Republican president is an incompetent would-be authoritarian whose main accomplishments so far have involved empowering a fascist police force to harass and deport innocent people. The Republican Congress put forth incoherent health care plan after incoherent health care plan, before ramming through a similarly incoherent tax cut for the wealthy.

Conservatism in office has brought Americans war, financial disaster, misery, and rising fascism. Conservative pundits, meanwhile, write column after column propounding ill-informed, bigoted, and cruel solutions to problems that don’t exist, while denying the existence of real injustices and misery.

This is not some sort of coincidence. Conservative governance is a disaster because conservative thinking is bankrupt. Giving more space to conservative thinkers is not going to make our polity more diverse and vibrant. It’s going to fill our public sphere with prejudice and ignorance. Ibram X. Kendi challenges and enlightens. Kevin D. Williamson does neither of those things.

Eugene Robinson: There’s only one way to guarantee we’ll see Mueller’s report

If you want to make sure you learn whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians and whether Trump himself committed obstruction of justice, there’s one thing you must do: Vote in November to take control of Congress away from the Republican Party.

Spoiler alert: We already have evidence that Trump at least tried his best to obstruct justice; and despite the president’s frequent all-caps tweets to the contrary, collusion is still very much an open question. For more definitive answers, however, we have to await special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings — and there is no guarantee we will learn, in detail, everything he finds out. [,,]

Now we have yet another reason to vote in November: A Democratic Congress is the only ironclad guarantee that we will fully learn whether Americans helped Russians subvert our democracy and whether the president tried to cover it up.

Ray McGovern: ‘Crazy’ Has Become the New Normal in Washington

John Bolton’s March 22 appointment-by-tweet as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has given “March Madness” a new and ominous meaning. There is less than a week left to batten down the hatches before Bolton makes U.S. foreign policy worse that it already is.

During a recent interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill (minutes 35 to 51), I mentioned that Bolton fits seamlessly into a group of take-no-prisoners zealots once widely known in Washington circles as “the crazies,” and now more commonly referred to as “neocons.”

Beginning in the 1970s, “the crazies” sobriquet was applied to Cold Warriors hell bent on bashing Russians, Chinese, Arabs—anyone who challenged U.S. “exceptionalism” (read hegemony). More to the point, I told Scahill that President (and former CIA Director) George H. W. Bush was among those using the term freely, since it seemed so apt. I have been challenged to prove it.

I don’t make stuff up. And with the appointment of the certifiable Bolton, the “the crazies” have become far more than an historical footnote. Rather, the crucible that Bush-41 and other reasonably moderate policymakers endured at their hands give the experience major relevance today. Thus, I am persuaded it would be best not to ask people simply to take my word for it when I refer to “the crazies,” their significance, and the differing attitudes the two Bushes had toward them.

Catherine Rampell: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-its-time-for-some-extreme-vetting/2018/04/05/e3aeb376-390c-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?utm_term=.bd778bc8dc9c

My fellow Americans, it’s time for some extreme vetting.

Not of Muslims, refugees, “dreamers” or any of the other usual scapegoats. We need more vetting of the scoundrels and swamp creatures running our country.

President Trump has repeatedly accused Senate Democrats of slow-walking his picks for key administration posts, forcing nominees to endure hoop-jumping and procedural delays. But the many scandals piling up around those who have been successfully confirmed demonstrate that, if anything, the Senate has been green-lighting Trump nominees much too hastily.

Forget qualifications or expertise (which apparently, alas, get forgotten easily enough). A half-dozen or so current or former Cabinet members stand accused of improperly using taxpayer funds. These include extravagant office redecorations; trips on private jets, including a $25,000 flight for less than an hour in the air from Washington to Philadelphia; and taxpayer-funded spousal vacations.

And then there are the family-member shakedownssweetheart dealsself-dealing allegations, jobs and end-run raises for unqualified cronies, and at least the appearance of regulatory quid pro quos.

Bruce J. Einhorn: Jeff Sessions wants to bribe judges to do his bidding

It’s a principle that has been a hallmark of our legal culture: The president shouldn’t be able to tell judges what to do.

No longer. The Trump administration is intent on imposing a quota system on federal immigration judges, tying their evaluations to the number of cases they decide in a year. This is an affront to judicial independence and the due process of law.

I served as a U.S. immigration judge in Los Angeles for 17 years, presiding over cases brought against foreign-born noncitizens who Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers believed were in this country illegally and should thus be removed. My responsibility included hearing both ICE’s claims and the claims from respondents for relief from removal, which sometimes included asylum from persecution and torture.

As a judge, I swore to follow the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that “no person” (not “no citizen”) is deprived of due process of law. Accordingly, I was obliged to conduct hearings that guaranteed respondents a full and reasonable opportunity on all issues raised against them.

My decisions and the manner in which I conducted hearings were subject to review before the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals and U.S. courts of appeals. At no time was my judicial behavior subject to evaluation based on how quickly I completed hearings and decided cases. Although my colleagues on the bench and I valued efficiency, the most critical considerations were fairness, thoroughness and adherence to the Fifth Amendment. If our nativist president and his lapdog of an attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have their way, those most critical considerations will become a relic of justice.