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Sep 21 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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”.

Amanda Marcotte: Mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but don’t give in to despair — it’s time to fight like hell instead

Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her life’s work overcoming the odds to change the world—for real—and we can embrace that

Friday night, when the news of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hit, I was struck by the same wave of hopeless despair that anyone who cares about the future of this country felt. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the weight of the world rested on the shoulders of this diminutive 87-year-old woman who had been battling cancer for many years. With her death, Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans, led by the depraved liar and hypocrite Mitch McConnell, have the power to fill her seat on the Supreme Court with another right wing extremist. With a comfortable 6-3 conservative majority on the court, the Republican mission to dismantle the already battered remains of our democracy will be protected from the occasional bout of conscience from Chief Justice John Roberts.

Things are bad. Really, really bad. It would be foolish to deny it. We have a reality TV fascist in the Oval Office who has been lawsuit-happy when it comes to his efforts to steal himself a second term against the strong will of the American people, and now he’s going to get himself a third Supreme Court justice to grease the wheels. Plus, the uncorking of right wing assaults on human rights — a situation which seemed dire after Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced the at-times-reluctant supporter of equal rights, Justice Anthony Kennedy — are going to spin wildly out of control.

Republicans, led by the depraved liar and hypocrite Mitch McConnell, have the power to fill her seat on the Supreme Court with another right wing extremist. With a comfortable 6-3 conservative majority on the court, the Republican mission to dismantle the already battered remains of our democracy will be protected from the occasional bout of conscience from Chief Justice John Roberts.  — are going to spin wildly out of control.

Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, religious freedom, health care access: These are all on the chopping block now, in ways that will likely make previous assaults seem like a game of tiddlywinks.

So I forgive you (and myself) if you need to sit in the corner for a little with a bottle of whiskey, or a good red wine, as Ginsburg would have done. But once we’re done with that, it’s time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, get back into it and fight like hell.

It is, after all, what Ginsburg would have done.

Robert Reich: Rushing to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell shows power trumps principle

The justice who died on Friday night stood for the integrity of democracy. The Senate leader stands only for Republican gains

People in public life tend to fall into one of two broad categories – those motivated by principle, and those motivated by power.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday night at the age of 87, exemplified the first. [..]

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, exemplifies the second category. He couldn’t care less about principle. He is motivated entirely by the pursuit of power.

McConnell refused to allow the Senate to vote on Barack Obama’s nominee to the supreme court, Merrick Garland, in February 2016 – almost a year before the end of Obama’s second term – on the dubious grounds that the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.

McConnell’s move was a pure power grab. No Senate leader had ever before asserted the right to block a vote on a president’s nominee to the supreme court.

McConnell’s “principle” of waiting for a new president disappeared on Friday evening, after Ginsburg’s death was announced. [..]

The only bulwark is a public that holds power accountable – demanding stronger guardrails against its abuses, and voting power-mongers out of office.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg often referred to Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous quote, that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people”. Indeed.

Arwa Mahdawi: Trump’s 1776 commission is proof America is spiraling toward fascism

Trump is setting up the commission to teach students ‘the miracle of American history’ – which sounds like a core part of the fascist process of taking power

Can we use the F word yet? Can we finally admit that America is dipping its feet in fascism? Armed militias are roaming the streets; Donald Trump is laying the groundwork to discredit the results of the 2020 election; the press has been labelled the “enemy of the people”; there are credible allegations that migrant women in detention camps are being coerced into having their uteruses removed; “anti-fascists” have been branded public enemy number one. And now Trump has announced a “national commission to support patriotic education” – in other words, a racist propaganda program. [..]

Hannah Arendt famously talked about the banality of evil – unspeakable horrors are often perpetuated by unthinking people simply “doing their job”. What we’re living through right now might be characterized as the inanity of evil. Trump is still treated as a figure of fun a lot of the time. A buffoon incapable of becoming a “proper” fascist. Objective White Men™ have lined up to lecture us all on how Trump isn’t all that bad and belittle fear of what he is capable of as “elite hysterics.” (Easy to talk dismissively about “hysterics” when you don’t have a uterus that Trump wants to control.) But as Madeleine Albright explained in a discussion of her 2018 book, Fascism: A Warning, “Fascism is not an ideology; it’s a process for taking and holding power.” Propaganda like the 1776 commission, narratives that make a dominant cultural group feel like victims, is a core part of that process. The most patriotic thing a person can do is tell the truth, and the truth is that America is spiraling towards fascism horrifyingly fast.

Michelle Goldberg: Can Mitch McConnell Be Stopped?

If Republicans give Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat to some Federalist Society fanatic, Democrats should pack the court.

Two years ago at The Atlantic Festival, Senator Lindsey Graham defended the Republican decision to block President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process is started, we’ll wait to the next election,” Graham said.

Now that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, only a month and a half before the 2020 election, the chance that the senator keeps his word seems infinitesimal. (He has already said that after Brett Kavanaugh, “the rules have changed.”)

Mitch McConnell certainly has no intention of abiding by the so-called McConnell rule, an invention to justify the Senate’s refusal to consider Garland in March 2016. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell said then. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

But only hours after Ginsburg’s death was announced, McConnell said in a statement, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” His tortuous excuse is that his made-up rule is meant to apply only when the Senate and the presidency are controlled by different parties. [..]

And if Republicans do give Ginsburg’s seat to some Federalist Society fanatic, Democrats must, if they win back the presidency and the Senate, abolish the filibuster and expand the court, adding two seats to account for both Garland and Ginsburg.

This goes against Joe Biden’s instincts toward bipartisanship and national reconciliation. But if Republicans continue to ruthlessly bend the rules to establish the domination of the minority over the majority, only hardball tactics can restore democratic equilibrium. Republicans will shriek, but their brazen hypocrisy should justify such dramatic moves in the eyes of the public. They’ll be the ones who’ve annihilated whatever legitimacy the court has left.

Karen Tumulty: Senate Republicans are showing us why they should lose their majority

In wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, terribly unfair things are being said about the Republicans who run the Senate.

Some are crying foul about the fact that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed to be standing on principle in 2016, when he cited the coming election for his refusal to even grant a hearing on a Supreme Court nomination that President Barack Obama put forward in March of that year. Now, he is vowing to fast-track whomever President Trump names with only six weeks to go until the 2020 election.

In fact, McConnell’s actions are totally in keeping with the opportunism with which he has led the Senate. Given a chance, he will always abuse his power. Branding McConnell a hypocrite misses the point. Hypocrisy — coupled with an utter lack of shame — is not a character fault in his eyes. It is a management style, a means to an end. [..]

I’ve covered Congress long enough to know that Democrats have not always chosen the high road either. We have reached this point in part because of then-Majority Leader Harry M. Reid’s 2013 decision to take what was then known as the “nuclear option” and abolish the filibuster rule that required 60 votes for executive branch and lower-court nominations. The Republicans extended it to Supreme Court nominations in 2017.

Thus far, neither party has suffered any consequences. But voters can rectify that on Nov. 3, when 23 Republican senators, including Graham and McConnell, will be on the ballot.

A net loss of just four of them — or three if Democrats win back the White House, and a Vice President Kamala D. Harris gains the tie-breaking vote in the Senate chamber — would send the Republicans back into the minority.

It would be a corrective they richly deserve, and even more important, a lesson for future senators that principles mean nothing if they can be bargained away for power.