May 09 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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Jay Rockefeller and Daniel J. Jones: It’s time to hold the CIA accountable. Gina Haspel’s hearing is the best place to start.

According to a newly declassified CIA disciplinary review (“the Morell review”), a Justice Department criminal investigation identified two CIA officers it considered to be “directly involved” in a 2005 decision to destroy interrogation videotapes depicting torture at a CIA detention site three years earlier. One of those officers is Gina Haspel, the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the CIA.

The review, which was conducted by then-Deputy Director Michael Morell, was publicly released last month. No doubt the agency’s management approved the release because it was thought to be helpful to the Senate confirmation of Haspel as the next CIA director. The review found “no fault with the performance with of Ms. Haspel,” and concluded she “acted appropriately” when, in late 2005, she drafted a CIA cable ordering the destruction of more than 90 videotapes the White House, the CIA director, and others wanted preserved. But given the agency’s long-standing inability to hold its officers accountable for misconduct, senators would be wise to question the credibility of the disciplinary review and, more importantly, Haspel’s suitability to lead the CIA and to receive the honor of a Senate confirmation.

Jennifer Rubin: Don Blankenship tanks in W.Va., but the GOP has a new problem

In two key Senate primary races — in Indiana and West Virginia — the Republican Party had the opportunity to pick a high-risk Trumpian candidate, thereby sacrificing possible pickups that might secure its Senate majority. President Trump won both red states handily, putting incumbent Democrats in a precarious spot. In one race, the GOP rejected an extreme, racist candidate (an ex-con to boot); in the other GOP primary, voters chose a candidate who embraced Trump.

The most closely watched race was in West Virginia featuring Don Blankenship. He’s quite a character — an ex-convict sent to prison for his role in a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 people. He has engaged in vile race-baiting, calling Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s father a “wealthy China-person” and labeling her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), “Cocaine Mitch” in a notorious TV ad (based on recovery of a small amount of cocaine in a ship owned by Chao’s father’s company — which has nothing to do with either McConnell or his wife). (Indicative of the spinelessness that now afflicts Republicans, McConnell refused to say before the election whether the ad was racist. Trump in the final days of the campaign spoke up, but only to say that Blankenship was not electable.) West Virginia Republican voters, to their credit, rejected Blankenship handily. The lesson here seems to be: Don’t wait for craven GOP officials to show moral leadership; it’s up to ordinary voters to summon the gumption to reject hateful candidates.

Blankenship wound up in third place. Republicans should take note, however: Democratic turnout for an uncompetitive primary exceeded turnout for the hotly contested GOP nomination by more than 23,000 — continuing a pattern of high voter enthusiasm among Democrats.

Susan Wright: Was it assault or kinky sex, Eric Schneiderman? Here’s the difference

This Monday, Eric Schneiderman resigned as the New York attorney general after four women alleged that he had assaulted them. Two of the women claimed they had been “choked and hit repeatedly by Mr Schneiderman”, while another said she had been “violently slapped across the face”. A fourth woman alleged similar experiences.

In a statement issued on Monday, Schneiderman disputed the allegations, and seemed to imply that what had happened was part of kinky, rough sex: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

As a member of the BDSM community, I think it’s important to clarify the difference between rough sex and assault. In today’s post-50 Shades world, we all know there are many people who enjoy kinky sex and they like being called names or roleplaying. So you can’t judge the difference between rough sex and assault based on the behavior itself. The way you determine the difference is consent.

Michael Fuchs: Trump just manufactured a national security crisis for no reason

Imagine the president of the United States of America sitting in the White House Situation Room with his top national security advisers and deciding that there are not enough threats to US national security. There are not enough wars and humanitarian crises around the world. The United States is bored. Imagine the president deciding to manufacture a new national security crisis that will directly threaten America, its allies and the world.

Sounds like the work of fiction, right? Unfortunately, not. President Trump announced his decision for the United States to violate the diplomatic agreement that is currently preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – and with that decision Trump produced a new, unnecessary crisis.

Tamara Draut: Is this your image of the working class? You need to update it

My father was a steelworker, the epitome of the person you likely conjure up when you hear someone described as “working class”. White, male, hard hat and lunch pail, steel-toed boots and a dark blue uniform he’d bring home at the end of every shift and promptly throw in the washing machine. The earthy, sweaty, and metallic smell lingered in the laundry room after he closed the lid.

He taught me how to play basketball, badminton and throw a decent baseball as well as how to fix a flat tire. Most importantly, he gave me the grit and resilience –and some might say, hard-headedness – to make my way from a blue-collar upbringing in Middletown, Ohio, to create a life and career in New York City. My dad was the last generation of working-class heroes – the men who soldered, heaved and secured America’s industrial might in the world, and as a result earned the pride and respect of our nation.

But men like my dad no longer epitomize the working class today.