Sep 05 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 Michaelson: If Brett Kavanaugh Wins, the Supreme Court Loses

The likely confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will be yet another blow to the Court’s legitimacy, at a time when our democratic institutions are already under intense strain.

This is not because Kavanaugh is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative (which he is) or yet another justice handpicked by the Federalist Society and its Machiavellian boss, Leonard Leo (which he also is).  Presidents pick Supreme Court justices, and the Senate confirms them—and when, in this case, both offices are controlled by conservatives, a rightward tilt is a feature, not a bug.

f liberals had really cared about reproductive rights, LGBT equality, voting rights, etc., they would have supported Trump’s opponent more fervently, instead of ranking the Supreme Court near the bottom of their priorities, as reflected in 2016 polling.  (The Christian Right, of course, placed it near the top.)

Nor is the issue Kavanaugh’s temperament, conduct, qualifications, or intelligence, all of which are, by all accounts, superlative.  Brett Kavanaugh is not Clarence Thomas.

Rather, the Kavanaugh confirmation threatens the Court’s legitimacy for three reasons: Russia, Roe, and—as was pointed out repeatedly during the first day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday—the redaction of his records.

David Ignatius: Working with Russia on cybercrime is like hiring a burglar to protect the family jewels

Imagine a bully who’s pounding your head against a wall. When you complain that it hurts and threaten to punch back, he offers to sign an international agreement against bullying. Meanwhile, he keeps pounding your head.

That’s a shorthand summary of the peculiar situation that has developed in the United Nations’ discussions about regulating cyberspace. The Russians are aggressively hacking U.S. and European political parties and infrastructure, according to U.S. intelligence reports. At the same time, they are pushing for international regulation of cyberspace — on their own terms.

Russian plans to offer new U.N. cyber-regulation pacts were floated last month by Anatoly Smirnov, a top computer scientist at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He said Russia would soon introduce a cyber “code of conduct” and a pathway to a new cybercrime convention to replace one signed in Budapest in 2001.

Karen Tumulty: The down-ballot officials who could freeze the Trump Train in its tracks

A sexual-abuse report in Pennsylvania in mid-August created an earthquake within the Catholic Church. A court ordered last week that downloadable blueprints for 3-D-printed guns be banned from the Internet. And on Wednesday, oral arguments begin in a federal court case that could gut the Affordable Care Act.

These disparate developments have something in common: None would have happened without the actions of state attorneys general.

It is a down-ballot office that rarely gets much attention in a heated election season when control of both houses of Congress is up for grabs.

But the outcome of more than 30 attorney general races — with Democrats aiming for pickups in at least five states that are also presidential battlegrounds — could have as profound an effect as anything else that happens in November.

Richard D. Wolffe: Capitalism Is Not the “Market System”

With the Democratic Socialists of America now counting 48,000 people within its membership and socialist candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing for free universities and Medicare for All, Americans are once again discussing capitalism versus socialism. Fortunately, they are not doing so in the old Cold War manner of uncritically celebrating one while demonizing the other. Rather, it’s a debate over the choice Americans must make now between keeping capitalism or changing the system to some form of socialism. As debates often do, this debate awakens us to problems and differences in how we understand its basic terms. For clarity and to make progress in this important debate, we need to stop conflating “capitalism” with the market. This is done far too often and on all sides of the debate.

Markets are a means of distributing resources and products, goods and services. Quid pro quo exchange defines markets: one person offers to sell to another who offers to buy at a mutually agreed ratio that may or may not be mediated by money. To say that a market exists means that such an exchange system is what accomplishes distribution. To say that a market exists says nothing about how production is accomplished or how resources are converted into products. Capitalism, on the other hand, is a description of how the production of goods and services is organized, and how the participants relate to one another in the process of production. Thus conflating “capitalism” with “the market system” loses sight of the fact that markets can exist in relation to different systems of production.

Bill Berkowitz: Unshakeable Obeisance: Did Christian Evangelicals Sell Their Souls to Trump?

“History will record the greatness that you have brought for generations,” read the inscription in a Bible signed by more than 100 conservative Christian evangelicals, and presented to President Donald Trump at a meeting in the White House on August 27. Consider the “greatness!” Hush money to porn stars? Racist comments galore? The Access Hollywood tape? Pitting one group of people against another? Separating young children from their parents and putting them in cages? Accusations from his lawyer of criminal activity? Thousands of misstatements and/or outright lies? Love for authoritarian leaders? Narcissism that knows no bounds?

What would it take for conservative evangelical Christians to abandon their maximum leader? How obedient must they be? How low do they have to go before they’ve lost all moral credibility? Those are some of the questions that have been asked since conservative Christian evangelical leaders sold their souls to Donald Trump.