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Jan 03 2020

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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Paul Krugman: Apocalypse Becomes the New Normal

We’re already in the early stages of climate crisis.

The past week’s images from Australia have been nightmarish: walls of flame, blood-red skies, residents huddled on beaches as they try to escape the inferno. The bush fires have been so intense that they have generated “fire tornadoes” powerful enough to flip over heavy trucks.

The thing is, Australia’s summer of fire is only the latest in a string of catastrophic weather events over the past year: unprecedented flooding in the Midwest, a heat wave in India that sent temperatures to 123 degrees, another heat wave that brought unheard-of temperatures to much of Europe.

And all of these catastrophes were related to climate change.

The past week’s images from Australia have been nightmarish: walls of flame, blood-red skies, residents huddled on beaches as they try to escape the inferno. The bush fires have been so intense that they have generated “fire tornadoes” powerful enough to flip over heavy trucks.

The thing is, Australia’s summer of fire is only the latest in a string of catastrophic weather events over the past year: unprecedented flooding in the Midwest, a heat wave in India that sent temperatures to 123 degrees, another heat wave that brought unheard-of temperatures to much of Europe.

And all of these catastrophes were related to climate change.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump ordered the fatal strike on Soleimani. Now what?

The Post reports: “Iran on Friday vowed ‘severe revenge’ in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed Tehran’s most powerful military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and dramatically sharpened tensions across the Middle East.” The Trump administration announced that the move was a defensive action responding to militia attacks on our Baghdad embassy, but then promptly announced all Americans should leave Iraq. Are we putting Americans at greater risk or protecting them? That is one of dozens of questions that Congress, allies, pundits and ordinary Americans are asking.

Less than seven months ago, Trump pulled back a strike force poised to respond to Iran’s shoot-down of an American drone. Less than three months ago Trump abandoned the Kurds and announced a retreat from Syria to end “forever wars.” Troops did not come home as Trump promised, and indeed, did not all leave Syria, yet another reversal. [..]

In other words, Trump has raised strategic incoherence to new levels. Acting without so much as briefing Congress and despite his own party’s qualms about a new war in the Middle East, Trump risks not only war but also political blowback should Iran retaliate. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted the question on most lawmakers’ minds: “Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question. The question is this — as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

There is plenty of reason for anxiety. We stand on the precipice of an international conflagration, with a president whose word cannot be trusted and whose impulsivity and ignorance are unmatched by any modern U.S. president. He is surrounded by yes men who command little if any respect outside the Trump cult.

Mohammed Bazzi: Donald Trump has blundered into a crisis with Iran of his own making

When the US president took office, there were no hostilities. Now conflict with Iranian proxies across the Middle East seems likely

The Trump administration’s assassination on Thursday of General Qassem Suleimani could turn out to be its biggest foreign policy blunder. The killing could lead to a war with Iranian proxies across the Middle East, belying Trump’s supposed desire to extricate the US from its endless conflicts. But its most likely immediate effect will be to ratchet up pressure on the Iraqi government to expel US troops from Iraq. And that would mean Iran extending its already substantial influence over Iraqi government and society.

The Trump administration was quick to portray the assassination as a pre-emptive strike, saying Suleimani had been “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” Earlier on Thursday, the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, had warned from Washington, “The game has changed”.

Charles P. Pierce: Julian Castro’s Story Should Cause the Democratic Party to Reflect on How It Chooses Candidates

In general, it should make the country melancholy about how we do politics in the age of big money.

Julian Castro announced on Thursday that he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. This means that there is no longer a Latino presence in the field. This means that there is no longer a Latino presence in a field that still includes two no-hope white millionaires and a crackpot who thinks you can vibe away your cancer. This also means that there will be no candidate on stage at subsequent debates who reads out the names of the victims of police violence, who points out that police violence is gun violence, and who talks as much about poverty as he or she does about the embattled middle class. All of this should make the Democratic Party wonder about how it chooses its candidates, and it should make the country in general melancholy about the state of affairs as the election season begins.

Castro should have been viable all the way to the convention. (This is also true of Jay Inslee and Kamala Harris.) But the merciless criteria of polls and money worked against all three of them. Their ideas will now get atomized and spread out among the remaining candidates, but that process will be obscured by an implacable, faceless wall of spreadsheets. This is the way we do politics in this country now, thanks in large part to a Supreme Court that has managed to find room in the Constitution for both luxurious ratfcking and outright influence peddling.

Chis Hedges: Onward, Christian fascists

Trump’s legacy will be the empowerment of Christian totalitarians

The greatest moral failing of the liberal Christian church was its refusal, justified in the name of tolerance and dialogue, to denounce the followers of the Christian right as heretics. By tolerating the intolerant it ceded religious legitimacy to an array of con artists, charlatans and demagogues and their cultish supporters. It stood by as the core Gospel message — concern for the poor and the oppressed — was perverted into a magical world where God and Jesus showered believers with material wealth and power. The white race, especially in the United States, became God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war became divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, became shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation. The iconography and symbols of American nationalism became intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. The mega-pastors, narcissists who rule despotic, cult-like fiefdoms, make millions of dollars by using this heretical belief system to prey on the mounting despair and desperation of their congregations, victims of neoliberalism and deindustrialization. These believers find in Donald Trump a reflection of themselves, a champion of the unfettered greed, cult of masculinity, lust for violence, white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, religious intolerance, anger, racism and conspiracy theories that define the central beliefs of the Christian right. When I wrote “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” I was deadly serious about the term “fascists.” [..]

We can blunt the rise of this Christian fascism only by reintegrating exploited and abused Americans into society, giving them jobs with stable, sustainable incomes, relieving their crushing personal debts, rebuilding their communities and transforming our failed democracy into one in which everyone has agency and a voice. We must impart to them hope, not only for themselves but for their children.

Christian fascism is an emotional life raft for tens of millions. It is impervious to the education, dialogue and discourse the liberal class naively believes can blunt or domesticate the movement. The Christian fascists, by choice, have severed themselves from rational thought. We will not placate or disarm this movement, bent on our destruction, by attempting to claim that we too have Christian “values.” This appeal only strengthens the legitimacy of the Christian fascists and weakens our own. We will transform American society to a socialist system that provides meaning, dignity and hope to all citizens, that cares and nurtures the most vulnerable among us, or we will become the victims of the Christian fascists we created.

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