Nov 28 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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John Podesta: As a warming world wreaks havoc, Trump wages war on climate science

The evidence of climate change is all around us, from melting Alaskan permafrost to wildfires in Sweden, from the brutal European heatwave to the devastating 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, which have claimed thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and North Carolina. In recent weeks, the worst wildfires in California history have wiped entire towns off the map and killed scores of people. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning of mass wildfires, superstorms, food shortages and dying coral reefs by 2040 was a cry for immediate action.

But as climate change is happening in real time, the practice of climate science –collecting data, observing and analyzing the Earth’s systems and communicating those findings to decision-makers and the public – has never been at greater risk. That’s why I am in Brussels this week speaking to European Union parliamentarians on the unprecedented threats facing the global understanding of climate change as a result of the Trump administration’s hostility to climate science, and discussing what European countries can and should do in response.

Keith Kahn-Harris: ‘White supremacy’ is really about white degeneracy

The concept of “white supremacy” is having a moment right now, and understandably so. White resentment, entitlement and bigotry never went away, but it is closer to the political mainstream now than it has been for decades.

The rhetoric of the likes of Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Steve Bannon and other figures in the ascendant populist right might not openly embrace “white power”, but there is no doubt that open white racists have been emboldened by them. Trump may have not wanted Richard Spencer (who coined the term “alt right”) to gleefully exclaim: “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory” just after the 2016 US election, but he was not particularly bothered by it either. [..]

However, white supremacy, as used to describe a belief in the racial superiority of white people, may not be the best concept to help us understand what is going on here. It’s not that there isn’t a barely concealed attempt to rehabilitate the long and clearly documented history of white racism in “western” democracies. The issue is that I’m not sure that it’s “supremacy” that is the goal here, so much as a licence for a perverse kind of degeneracy.

Alexandra Petri: You are in Melania Trump’s nightmare forest. Keep to the path.

Listen to me. The trees in the White House were all green when I got here. They were all green as recently as Monday. But the trees have turned.

Walk faster.

Don’t be afraid. The trees would smell it.

Things are wrong here. Little details are wrong. The attorney general is different. He hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate. We go nearly a month between daily press briefings. The trees are red. The phrase “Be Best” is everywhere. “Be Best.” As though to “be best” is grammatical and not the clumsy articulation of a child. But there are no children in the forest. This forest is no place for children.

Last year the trees were a hideous, ghastly white. It was always winter and never Christmas.

This year everything is red. It is perfectly natural that the trees are red. The trees are red (the Internet says) as a handmaid’s cloak. Do not think of blood. Keep walking.

Harry Litman: What Was Paul Manafort Thinking?

How to make sense of the bizarre turn of events involving Paul Manafort?

Two months ago, he struck a plea deal with Robert Mueller, the special counsel — he pleaded guilty but agreed to provide full and truthful information in exchange for a more lenient sentence. But according to a filing by Mr. Mueller’s team on Monday, Mr. Manafort lied to them repeatedly, and after multiple warnings. He is now in a far worse position than if he had never elected to cooperate, or if he had followed through on his agreement.

What was he thinking? All of the available explanations for Mr. Manafort’s self-destructive path seem highly implausible, at best. So which hypothesis is the least implausible?

David Ignatius: The Khashoggi killing had roots in a cutthroat Saudi family feud

Behind the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi lies a power struggle within the Saudi royal family that helped feed the paranoia and recklessness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Eventually, this rage in the royal court led to the death and dismemberment of a Washington Post journalist.

The opening scenes of this family feud took place in January 2015 in a VIP hospital suite in Riyadh, as King Abdullah lay on his deathbed. According to a Saudi who was at the hospital at the time, Abdullah’s sons and courtiers briefly delayed informing his successor, King Salman, that the monarch had passed — perhaps hoping to control the court’s stash of money and sustain powerful positions for Abdullah’s wing of the family.

The cutthroat scheming within the House of Saud over the following years matches anything in the fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” The fallout extended to the United States, China, Switzerland and other countries, as the two most powerful clans of the royal family jockeyed for power. As the tension increased, the royal court around Mohammed bin Salman, the new king’s favorite son, even dared to try to kidnap a member of the Abdullah faction in Beijing in a brazen operation in August 2016 that reads like a chapter in a spy thriller.