May 15 2019

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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B Jessie Hill: Could abortion become illegal in America? All signs point to yes

America is facing a full-frontal attack on Roe v Wade. There is no guarantee that the supreme court will protect the right to terminate a pregnancy

On Tuesday night, the Republican-controlled state senate in Alabama voted to effectively ban abortion at every stage of a pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest. The legislation would ensure that doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

The measure is just the latest in a spate of anti-choice legislation that has recently been passed in the United States. Last week, Georgia became the fourth state to pass a so-called “heartbeat” abortion ban in 2019. (Two other states – Iowa and North Dakota – passed similar laws in prior years.) These laws – the Center for Reproductive Rights calls them “bafflingly” unconstitutional – are designed to be full-frontal attacks on Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 US supreme court case recognizing the fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Rather than pursuing the sort of incremental strategy that anti-abortion activists have favored in the past – such as banning abortions late in pregnancy, or attempting to gradually regulate abortion clinics out of existence with increasingly burdensome regulations – these newer laws are written to prohibit virtually all abortions in the state.

Richard WolffeBarr’s inquiry into the Trump-Russia inquiry is corruption eating itself

This investigation by the attorney general should scotch any illusion that Trump would be held in check by Washington’s institutions

What happens to a government when the man in control is a delusional conspiracy-theorist desperate to cover up his own corruption?

This is more than a rhetorical question, and we’re not just asking for a friend.

At this stage of the presidency (See: The Decline and Fall of the Empire), the corrosive effect of Donald Trump is decaying and degrading some of the most powerful institutions that represent the United States.

One of the most-repeated conceits at the start of the Trumpian epoch was that the culture of good government and the rule of law were so ingrained in Washington that public servants of sound mind would thwart the wingnut whims of a demagogue.

How quaint. Now we find ourselves in a country where the attorney general is combining forces with the entire intelligence community – the directors of the CIA, FBI and national intelligence – to investigate how the whole Russia investigation began.

Spoiler alert for all the spooks and prosecutors about to waste what’s left of their reputation: it was the Trump campaign.

Peter Bergen: John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer

John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, seemingly hasn’t met a war he doesn’t love.

Bolton was a prominent proponent of the Iraq War and he has never evinced any doubt about the wisdom of that decision, telling the Washington Examiner four years ago, “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.”

By contrast, last year President Trump said the Iraq War was “the single worst decision ever made.”
Just before he was installed a little over a year ago as Trump’s national security adviser, Bolton advocated for a pre-emptive war against North Korea in the Wall Street Journal.  [..]
Bolton’s enthusiasm for the muscular use of the military seems out of place in the administration of a President who has repeatedly questioned and sought to end America’s wars in the Middle East.
Yet while Trump and Bolton may be out of step with each other on policy toward Venezuela and North Korea, one country they both seem to be on the same page about is Iran.

Whose side is Lindsey Graham on? His constituents — that is, the American people? Or the Trump family.

The ever more obsequious US senator from South Carolina has made his position clear: He’s here to protect the Trump family, regardless of any alleged crimes, and regardless of the will of the American people, his Senate colleagues, or even the law. To Graham, defending the Trumps is more important than the pursuit of justice.

His latest lackeying: Publicly advising Donald Trump Jr. on Fox News last Sunday to ignore a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, or, if Jr. does testify, Graham clarified for reporters Monday, he should plead the Fifth so that he doesn’t actually have to answer any questions.

“You’d have to be an idiot as a lawyer to put your client back into this circus, a complete idiot,” Graham told reporters. By Tuesday, Trump Jr. and the Senate Intelligence Committee reached a deal for the President’s eldest son to appear before the committee behind closed doors in mid-June, a source told CNN.

But why in the world would the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee want to step up to undermine the intelligence committee’s efforts to gather intelligence? Because Graham began disregarding right and wrong many months ago in favor of sucking up to the “First Family.” Turns out the man who went from calling Trump a “kook,” “crazy,” and an “opportunist” “unfit for office,” to doing the man’s dirty work, knows a little something about opportunism.

Andrew O’Hehir: Democracy’s in real trouble: If you have to keep asking whether we’re in a constitutional crisis, it may be too late to stop one 

If you have to keep asking if we’re in a constitutional crisis, it may be too late to stop one,

Democracy is in trouble, both as a guiding theory for human society and in practice. This really isn’t news: Over the course of the last decade, throughout the self-described democratic nations, a crisis has been spreading like a viral infection. This is clearly the most serious crisis democracy has faced since the end of the Cold War, and probably since World War II. It’s also categorically different from those historical examples because, to use an overused phrase, the call is coming from inside the house.

Nobody really knows what to do about this, but at least the world has finally noticed. Those of us who’ve been standing on the margins of mainstream discourse shouting about this, like fundamentalist preachers in a New Yorker cartoon, are no longer alone.

A Google search of news articles using the terms “democracy crisis” turns up any number of examples published in the last few weeks — in Vox and Slate and the Guardian, in academic journals, public opinion research and financial publications, in multiple foreign newspapers and even on Fox News. (That was only in a relatively straightforward news article quoting House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler. Fox didn’t add “LOL” after the word “democracy,” but it really doesn’t have to.)