May 23 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”.

Richard Eskow: Real Corruption: Mick “Pay and We’ll Talk” Mulvaney

It’s not just that Mick Mulvaney has no scruples; he has no shame.

It has become commonplace to see Trump administration officials, up to and including the president, abuse public resources for personal gain and comfort.

But private planes, $31,000 dining room sets, and other lavish expenditures at public expense are the petty rewards of narcissists. The corruption that matters most is the kind that hurts millions of Americans to enrich the tiny class of billionaires that is this regime’s true constituency.

When it comes to this kind of deep corruption, which perverts government’s role for the benefit of the privileged few, Mick Mulvaney is a master of the art. In fact, he’s made it his ideology.

Jessica Valenti: The recent mass shootings in the US all have one thing in common: misogyny

The massacre at Santa Fe high school last week that left 10 people dead – most of them students – seems to have something in common with so many other mass shootings that happen in the US: misogyny. The shooter, one victim’s mother claims, targeted her daughter as the first victim because she rejected his continued harassing advances.

How many more tragedies have to happen before we recognize that misogyny kills? The longer we ignore the toxic masculinity that underlies so many of these crimes, the more violence we’re enabling.

Sadie Rodriguez told the LA Times that her daughter Shana Fisher “had four months of problems” from the Santa Fe shooter.

“He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.” A week before the shooting, she says, her daughter stood up to the shooter and “embarrassed him in class”.

This comes not even a month after the van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 13 more – violence enacted by a man who was reportedly furious that women wouldn’t sleep with him. Before that there was the 2015 shooting at an Oregon college by a young man who complained of being a virgin with “no girlfriend”. In 2014, there was Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and left behind a 140-page sexist manifesto and videos where he warned: “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it.” In 2009, George Sodini killed three women at a gym in Pennsylvania after lamenting online that younger women wouldn’t date him.

Even in the mass shootings where the stated motive isn’t disdain for women, there’s often a history of domestic or sexual violence from the killer.

Michelle Goldberg: Stop Giving Trump the Benefit of the Doubt

After Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December, a number of companies gave their employees one-time bonuses, ostensibly sharing their new corporate windfall. As a PR stunt, these checks were a savvy investment; they allowed the companies to pander to the administration and made themselves look beneficent without incurring any long-term obligation to their workers.

Critics of the new law tried to point out that one-time bonuses are not the same as pay increases, and that the overwhelming majority of corporate savings from the tax cut was likely to go to shareholders. Nevertheless, in parts of the media, the idea that Republicans had been vindicated took hold. “Democrats scramble on taxes as Republicans gain steam,” said a CNN headline. “Democrats go on defense as the Republican tax plan grows more popular,” said CNBC. [..]

Watching this unfold should have helped inoculate commentators against Trumpist bamboozlement. It has not. In March, Trump spontaneously accepted an offer, conveyed to him by a South Korean envoy, to meet directly with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea has sought a one-on-one meeting with a sitting American president for years, believing it would legitimate it as a global power, but previous administrations have refused. “No American president has ever agreed to meet a North Korean leader before because that is a huge concession in and of itself,” Robert Kelly, a political science professor at South Korea’s Pusan National University, told me.

Paul Buchheit: A Vile Act of Inhumanity: Splitting Up Families like the Slave Traders Did

Families are being split up in the name of “zero tolerance” immigration policies. Jeff Sessions said, “[Your] child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” John Kelly, White House chief of staff, added, “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.” Yes, he said “whatever.”

This isn’t much different from slave-trading days. People then were forced INTO the country and families separated; now they’re forced OUT OF the country and families separated. In both cases families have done whatever is necessary, in their own personal worlds, to survive and stay together and find happiness. And in both cases an institution of authority has made rules on behalf of the better-positioned segment of society, rules which impact the lives of those deemed somehow less valuable.

This may not be the deadliest act committed by American leaders, but it’s incomparably vile in its cruelty toward human beings who have been living among us, sometimes for many years. For conservatives who are always preaching the importance of stable families, it’s shocking to see the little opposition to breaking up and turning out so many loving mothers and fathers and children.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy: While Few Notice, The Supreme Court Is Making Corporate Human Rights Abuses Easier

In our current news environment, any news that’s not about President Trump gets short shrift, even if it’s news emanating from the Supreme Court. On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court decided the case of Jesner v. Arab Bank. The Court ruled that foreign corporations cannot be brought into U.S. federal courts to stand trial for human rights abuses that happen abroad.

The facts in Jesner v. Arab Bank could not have been more gut wrenching. The plaintiffs were victims or families of victims of suicide bombings in the Middle East, mostly in the West Bank. The bank in the case is a Jordanian bank with a branch in the city of New York. The plaintiffs alleged that the bank was holding accounts used to pay “martyrs” for the families of the individuals who carried out the attacks. Put another way, these accounts are meant to incentivize suicide bombings because the bomber would know that his or her family will be financially taken care of after death. And the plaintiffs argued that because some of these transactions were cleared through the bank’s New York branch, the entire scheme of payments to the bombers “touched and concerned the United States” and thus it was case was properly brought in a New York federal district court. [..]

The dissenting Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer and Ginsburg, were alarmed at the result that the majority reached in Jesner v. Arab Bank. For example, Justice Sotomayor concluded that “the text, history, and purpose of the ATS plainly support the conclusion that corporations may be held liable.”

One saving grace the Jesner decision is that the holding — though a big step backwards in the fight for human rights — is limited to foreign corporations.