Aug 21 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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Amanda Marcotte: Now the GOP is coming for birth control — which was always the plan

The reason Republicans keep trying to take birth control away from women is simple:  They think birth control is bad and you shouldn’t be able to get it.

This should seem obvious, but apparently it is not. Every time Republicans find some new avenue to take away birth control, there is always some elaborate excuse — dutifully repeated by the mainstream media as fact — for why they don’t want to take away your birth control, but simply have to for some other reason that is always, they claim, not about birth control. Birth control is never the target, they swear. It’s always just the unfortunate collateral damage of some fight over, they swear, something else.

Don’t buy it. The reason Republicans keep taking away birth control is because Republicans want to take away your birth control. They hate the power it gives women, especially young women and low-income women.

Conservatives are modern Puritans and, as H.L. Mencken famously said, they are driven by the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

This fact is getting lost in the coverage of Donald Trump’s administration stripping away Title X funding from Planned Parenthood. Title X is a program that covers a lot of reproductive health care — though, importantly, not abortion — but it was mainly set up in 1970 to help low-income women who don’t qualify for Medicaid obtain low-cost birth control. But the anti-choice activists who control the Republican Party don’t like that this program provides birth control to women who need it. So they are finding ways to slash away at the program until it can no longer accomplish the goal it was set up to accomplish.

Stephen W. Thrasher: Daniel Pantaleo Was Fired. We’re Still Afraid for Our Lives.

Five years after Eric Garner’s death, it’s painfully obvious that the daily anxiety black and brown people experience is justified.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that police use of force is a leading cause of death for young men of color overall and the sixth leading cause for young black men. One in 1,000 black men and boys can expect to be killed by the police, making them about 2.5 times more likely to experience this fate than white men and boys.

The same study found that black, American Indian and Alaska Native women face a higher risk than white women, with American Indian and Alaska Native being up to twice as likely to be killed by the police as white women.

“This study shows us that police killings are deeply systematic, with race, gender and age patterning this excess cause of death,” Michael Esposito, one of the study’s authors, said.

On Monday, news broke that the New York City police commissioner had finally fired Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who had used the banned chokehold that led to Mr. Garner’s death, a death that the medical examiner deemed a homicide. It took five years — a half decade during which Eric Garner’s daughter Erica died at just 27 years old from a heart attack after vigorously pursuing justice for her father. During which Mr. Pantaleo continued to draw paycheck after paycheck.

I don’t know if white readers can comprehend how stressful police stops are for black and brown folks in the United States. I don’t know if any amount of writing, or epidemiological research, or news accounts can convince white readers that a police encounter is a dangerous, potentially family-separating or life-ending event for black and brown folks.

But to brown and black readers: Know that the fears you have are not merely in your imagination. As white supremacists grow bolder under President Trump, and as technology allows for ever-more-expansive surveillance of intimate areas of life, policing still haunts and threatens us as much as it did the day Mr. Garner stopped breathing.

Michelangelo Signorile: Trump has a devastating record on LGBTQ rights. Don’t deny the truth.

President Trump’s dismissal of “fake news” means his constituencies can believe whatever they want about him and his actions — even if their beliefs are in mind-bogglingly stark opposition to one another. Religious extremists opposed to LGBTQ equality can confidently tout Trump as being down with their agenda by pointing to a speech in February in which Trump defended state-funded adoption agencies that turn away gay couples on religious grounds. Trump supporters who want to believe the opposite will point to a tweet he sent recognizing “LGBT Pride Month.”

But it’s the religious crusaders who are correct — and in rare agreement with most LGBTQ activists. The Trump administration’s continued assaults on LGBTQ rights are nothing short of breathtaking. And yet, Trump’s supporters who don’t want to acknowledge this aspect of the administration find ways to bury this part of his record in the chaos.

Last week alone, there were two major salvos in the Trumpian war on LGBTQ Americans.

Bill BlumThe Biggest Obstacle to Gun Control May Be the Supreme Court

With the addition of Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, today’s Supreme Court may be even more pro-gun than it was when Scalia penned Heller.

In the wake of recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the biggest obstacle to effective gun control may not be President Trump, Mitch McConnell or even the National Rifle Association (NRA) but the United States Supreme Court.

It’s been a long time since the Supreme Court considered a major Second Amendment case. Eleven years ago, the court delivered a landmark victory to the gun-rights lobby in District of Columbia v. Heller—a 5-4 majority decision written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia that ruled, for the first time, the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own and bear firearms.

Heller broke with the great weight of prior scholarship and legal precedent, including the Supreme Court’s 1939 decision in United States v. Miller, which held the Second Amendment protected gun ownership only in connection with service in long-since antiquated state militias. And while Heller was technically limited to gun ownership in the nation’s capital and other federal venues, the court extended its individual-rights analysis to the states two years later in McDonald v. Chicago, via a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito.

When the court reconvenes in October, its docket will include a new Second Amendment appeal—New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York—that has the potential to rival or surpass Heller for its impact on gun rights and gun regulation.

Michael H. Fuchs: Donald Trump’s UK trade promises are hot air – his aim is Brexit chaos

As the UK races towards a potential no-deal Brexit, President Donald Trump is cheering it on. But Brexit – especially without a deal in place with the European Union – would be bad for the US-UK special relationship and would make the UK a much less important US ally. [..]

Trump has long supported Brexit. He made that support clear during his presidential campaign and has expressed it repeatedly as president. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, now appears to be doing what he can to ensure Brexit happens. When in the UK recently, Bolton tried to incentivise Brexit by dangling the possibility of a trade deal with the US after the UK leaves the EU, saying that the UK would be at the “front of the trade queue” for a deal.

But that won’t happen. First, the politics in the US right now mean that it is incredibly difficult to pass any trade deals, even with America’s closest allies. Second, and more important, US congressional leaders have already signalled that a deal would be dead on arrival in Congress if Brexit affects the situation in Northern Ireland. As the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said: “If Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress.”