Jul 04 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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Courtney Enlow: There’s A Special Place In Hell For Women Who Gut Abortion Rights

On Monday, President Donald Trump intends to announce his nomination to fill Anthony Kennedy’s spot on the Supreme Court. A front-runner for the vacancy is Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic who once referred to a legal career as “but a means to an end… and that end is building the Kingdom of God.”

Last year, during her confirmation hearing for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, she was famously told by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), “Dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case… when [one reads] your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” [..]

Madeleine Albright often spoke of “a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” That “special place” has since been evoked and often misquoted for the sole purpose of pitting women against each other, be it Sarah Palin promoting her place on the 2008 GOP presidential ticket, or anti-choice conservative women condemning Feinstein’s valid concerns about Barrett. That misuse turns a powerful statement of sisterhood in the support of gender equality into an antagonistic act of gendered “you’re with us or you’re against us” aggression.

Albright’s quote doesn’t endorse blind support of all women by all women, as the women of the GOP no doubt are well aware. If these women truly supported women, they wouldn’t be so hellbent on destroying reproductive rights and access to health care, pushing continued attacks against trans people, or any of the other issues disproportionately affecting marginalized women.

Paul Krugman: Radical Democrats Are Pretty Reasonable

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset primary victory has produced a huge amount of punditry about the supposed radicalization of the Democratic party, how it’s going to hurt the party because her positions won’t sell in the Midwest (and how well would Steve King’s positions sell in the Bronx?), etc., etc.. But I haven’t seen much about the substance of the policies she advocates, which on economics are mainly Medicare for All and a federal job guarantee.

So here’s what you should know: the policy ideas are definitely bold, and you can make some substantive arguments against them. But they aren’t crazy. By contrast, the ideas of Tea Party Republicans are crazy; in fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s policy positions are a lot more sensible than those of the Republican mainstream, let alone the GOP’s more radical members.

Since Ocasio-Cortez is being compared to Dave Brat, who unseated Eric Cantor, consider this: Brat favors a constitutional amendment forcing a balanced budget every year, which 96 percent of economists think is a really bad idea. Also, by the way, remember that Republicans won big in the midterms that followed Cantor’s demise.

So, about Ocasio-Cortez’s positions: Medicare for all is a deliberately ambiguous phrase, but in practice probably wouldn’t mean pushing everyone into a single-payer system. Instead, it would mean allowing individuals and employers to buy into Medicare – basically a big public option. That’s really not radical at all.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Supreme Court’s five ‘black-robed rulers’

The 5-to-4 decision by the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME is another stain on the court’s spotted history. That June 27 ruling culminates the decades-long corporate assault on workers with a shameless display of right-wing judicial lawlessness.

In the decision, the court’s five conservative justices invoke the First Amendment to prohibit unions representing public employees from collecting an agency fee for the cost of bargaining on behalf of workers who benefit from that bargaining but choose not to join the union. In doing so, they trampled the will of elected state legislatures and 40 years of precedent. Contrary to the court’s claim, the case has nothing to do with individual workers’ free speech. Every worker is free to speak or organize as they choose. The court isn’t protecting speech; it is protecting free riders, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining and representation without paying a fair share for its costs.

The ruling doesn’t empower workers; it weakens their voice and constricts their ability to organize at the workplace, in communities and in the public arena. This doesn’t protect speech; it just undermines public-employee unions. As the Intercept’s Lee Fang and Nick Surgey report, a gaggle of right-wing think tanks — coordinated by the State Policy Network and supported by the Koch brothers and a passel of big corporations — is gearing up a 22-state strategy to encourage workers to withhold paying their fees, in hopes of weakening and even decertifying unions.

Ben Rhodes: Obama worried with foreign leaders about Trump. The president has proved them right.

On his final foreign trip as president, Barack Obama met allies shellshocked and uncertain about what was going to happen to the United States, and the world, with Donald Trump taking office. In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Obama she was likely to seek another term, in part to defend the liberal international order.

After saying a last goodbye, Obama lamented to me about his closest partner in the world: “Angela, she’s all alone.” In their final meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Obama that he was prepared to extend a hand to President-elect Trump but that he was also prepared to assume a higher profile on the world stage if necessary. “You’re going to have to speak out,” Obama told him, “when certain values are threatened.”

What went unspoken was the strange possibility that democratic values might no longer have an advocate in the White House. We have now received repeated and definitive proof that they don’t.

John Nichols: Patriots Still Called to Throw Off Yoke of the Political Machine

On July 4, 1897, former Congressman Robert M. La Follette launched the progressive crusade that would eventually make him the governor of Wisconsin, a U.S. senator from the state, and a transformational presidential candidate in 1924. Speaking in Mineral Point, he addressed the subject of “The Danger Threatening Representative Government.”

In that speech, La Follette decried “the political machine, which had come to be enthroned in American politics” through the influence of corporate interests on politics. Then, as now, wealthy and powerful elites had conspired to make government the servant of their desires at the expense of the common good.

On that distant Fourth of July, La Follette called for a radical new political vision.

“Think of the heroes who died to make this country free; think of their sons who died to keep it undivided upon the map of the world. Shall we, their children, basely surrender our birthright and say: ‘Representative government is a failure’? No, never, until Bunker Hill and Little Round Top sink into the very earth,” declared La Follette. “Let us here, today, under this flag we all love, hallowed by the memory of all that has been sacrificed for it and for us, dedicate ourselves to winning back the independence of this country, to emancipating this generation and throwing off from the neck of the freemen of America the yoke of the political machine.”

Much changed over the ensuing 121 years. But not enough. On this July 4, we still have a duty to throw off the yoke of the political machine that favors plutocracy over democracy.