Sep 10 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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Charles M. Blow: Obama’s Back!

In November of 2016, in the simmering afterglow of Donald Trump’s stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton, a still-stunned President Barack Obama traveled to Lima, Peru, for a summit of APEC, or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

While there, Obama gave a press conference, and the questions and answers, viewed in hindsight, with the full knowledge of the hell we’ve been through for nearly two years, is fascinating. [..]

Although Obama has made some tepid, often glancing, remarks about Trump’s policies and rhetoric before, his speech last week at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was the first time that he has blasted Trump by name.

It was a departure from the genteel tradition of the presidents’ club in which the exes try not to personally criticize the current one and vice versa, although Trump had never adhered to this tradition. He insults and condemns his predecessors without end, particularly Obama, the black man whom his largely white base most detests.

Nothing Obama said was particularly new or revelatory. It was that he was saying it at all that arrested attention.

Billie Jean King: Billie Jean King: Serena is still treated differently than male athletes

The ceiling that women of color face on their path to leadership never felt more impenetrable than it did at the women’s U.S. Open final on Saturday. Ironic, perhaps, that the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium was closed for the championship match. What was supposed to be a memorable moment for tennis, with Serena Williams, perhaps the greatest player of all time, facing off against Naomi Osaka, the future of our sport, turned into another example of people in positions of power abusing that power.

Lost in the craziness of the evening was the fact that Osaka played excellent tennis and won her first major title. Competing against her childhood idol, she summoned her A game and earned her championship — no need for any asterisk in the record book. She was the best player on the court Saturday.

But that’s not what many will remember. For fans, Osaka’s stellar play was overshadowed by an archaic tennis rule that eventually led to an abuse of power.


E. J. Dionne Jr.: The Kavanaugh hustle

Senate Republicans and President Trump share the same inclinations when it comes to one of the worst habits in our politics: placing ideology and partisanship above the health of our institutions.

While Trump is destroying the honor and reputation of the presidency, Senate Republicans are doing all they can to destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

When it comes to this last line of appeal in our legal system, the GOP has treated court appointments in the same way machine politicians once treated jobs in city sewer departments: If you have the clout, you use it to place your people. Period.

And on this one, the machine hacks hold the higher moral ground, because the consequences of the Brett M. Kavanaugh Hustle and the Merrick Garland Mugging are much greater than the costs of giving somebody’s brother-in-law the task of fixing the pipes.

Richard North Patterson: With This Cast Of Characters, No Wonder Trump’s White House Is A Toxic Mess

Bob Woodward’s depiction of a team of vipers surrounding an all-but-deranged president is at once frightening ― and wholly unsurprising. On the evidence to date, the past described in Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” is prologue for that ominous day when no one remains to constrain Trump’s excesses.

The case for this is ample. The history of Trump’s appointments suggests that he will winnow out his remaining competent advisers ― as he did with Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster ― leaving only the craven and compliant.

Since Day One, Trump’s rudderless ship of state has featured an astonishing cast of felons, loons, hacks, grifters, incompetents, sycophants and backstabbers. But Woodward also identified a cadre of subversives, as described by a senior official’s anonymous editorial in The New York Times, “working diligently from within to frustrate… his worst inclinations.”

Collectively, they comprise a merciless X-ray of Trump’s inner landscape ― the “crazytown” described by Woodward, a Hobbesian White House where the saner inhabitants consider him a threat to national security.

Robert Kuttner: Sweden Shows No Country Is Immune To Far-Right, Anti-Immigrant Backlash

Sweden has long been one of the world’s most generous and tolerant countries. Its outlays on foreign aid and relief efforts are among the world’s highest, and with just 9.9 million inhabitants, Sweden has taken in far more than its share of migrants and refugees. Sweden has also had one of the world’s most inclusive social contracts, allowing prosperity to be broadly shared. The Swedes have long had a secret sauce of dynamic entrepreneurship, strong labor unions, and a comprehensive welfare state.

But in Sunday’s election, Sweden demonstrated that no country is immune from the anti-immigrant, far-right backlash. The neo-fascist Sweden Democrats gained 17.6 percent of the vote, upending the country’s traditional party system, and leaving both the existing center-left and center-right coalitions short of a majority.

For 80 of the past 101 years, the Social Democratic Party has formed the government in Sweden. In recent years, as minor parties have encroached on the Social Democrats’ dominance, the government has often been a coalition, complicating the ability to have a coherent program and address problems.

The outgoing government is a three-party affair of the Social Democrats, a further-left party, and a centrist one. That has given the centrists an effective veto over government policy.