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Sep 25 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”.

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Paul Krugman: Trump’s Stalinist Approach to Science

Bully and ignore the experts, and send in the quacks.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about Trofim Lysenko.

Who? Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist who decided that modern genetics was all wrong, indeed contrary to Marxist-Leninist principles. He even denied that genes existed, while insisting that long-discredited views about evolution were actually right. Real scientists marveled at his ignorance.

But Joseph Stalin liked him, so Lysenko’s views became official doctrine, and scientists who refused to endorse them were sent to labor camps or executed. Lysenkoism became the basis for much of the Soviet Union’s agricultural policy, eventually contributing to the disastrous famines of the 1930s.

Does all of this sound a bit familiar given recent events in America? [..]

But while nobody would accuse Trump of being a leftist, his political style always reminds me of Stalinism. Like Stalin, he sees vast, implausible conspiracies everywhere — anarchists somehow in control of major cities, radical leftists somehow controlling Joe Biden, secret anti-Trump cabals throughout the federal government. It’s also notable that those who work for Trump, like Stalinist officials, consistently end up being cast out and vilified — although not sent to gulags, at least not yet.

And Trumpism, like Stalinism, seems to inspire special disdain for expertise and a fondness for quacks.

Charles M. Blow: Breonna Taylor and Perpetual Black Trauma

The system erased her as if she never existed.

I filed this column late. Very late. I couldn’t find the words — an unsettling experience for a writer. The words I did conjure failed, not because the message was difficult to convey, but rather because the conveyance is maddeningly depressive in repetition.

The killing of Breonna Taylor reveals yet again how easy it is for the state to take a Black life and how hard it is to hold the state accountable for its transgression. That is in part because the system is designed to make it nearly impossible for the state to transgress.

Taylor was an innocent woman, sleeping in her own home, breaking no law. The state broke down her door and shot her dead. [..]

This is a woeful ritual. This is a perpetual parade of anger and astonishment, of loss and longing, of demanding justice and being denied it. It is weighing on the souls of Black America and all Americans of good conscience.

America has created an unsustainable condition, one that I fear will one day explode, and yet the country lacks the will or inclination to right its wrongs. America, sadly, will regret this.

Jennifer Rubin: Justice Ginsburg leaves us our marching orders

Justice, justice you shall pursue.

It was a moment of stunning poignancy. The casket of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was brought into the U.S. Capitol on Friday morning, making her the first Jew and the first woman in American history to lie in state there. Her role as a trailblazer for gender equality and her battle to overcome discrimination in her own life have been much discussed. However, it was her Jewish faith that was front and center in the spare, elegant ceremony at the Capitol.

Ginsburg was arguably the most influential Jew in U.S. history (perhaps tied with Sandy Koufax for the most loved). Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt’s remarks at the ceremony centered on “tzedek, tzedek tirdof” — the phrase from Deuteronomy 16:20 meaning “justice, justice you shall pursue,” featured in an inscription on a piece of art in Ginsburg’s office. There are many rabbinical discussions on why the word “justice” is repeated, but my favorite — one certainly applicable to Ginsburg — is that you must pursue justice in a just way. Justice is not merely the result that matters, but the means by which you seek it. Ginsburg exemplified this idea by pursuing justice for all Americans, case by case, through the steady progress of the law. Might does not make right. It is through rational and creative thinking that justice is advanced. Justice does not come as a bolt from the blue, but as the result of tenacious, fierce, careful and inspired work.

Jill Filipovic: Trump Supreme Court favorite Amy Coney Barrett would be the ultimate insult to RBG

Judge Barrett is happy to take advantage of the opportunities her predecessors created but reactionary enough to help burn Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy to the ground.

For a woman who barely topped 5 feet tall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a towering figure. As news of her death circulated Friday, tributes poured in from around the world. She will be remembered as a lot of things, some of them human, some seeming to defy mortality. She’s an icon — the Notorious RBG, her face printed on T-shirts and mugs and birthday cards and, in our weird Covid-19 world, masks. She was a feminist trailblazer and one of America’s greatest legal scholars, from her time as Columbia Law’s first tenured female professor to co-founding a novel women’s rights project at the ACLU to litigating cases in the Supreme Court to finally sitting on the court itself. [..]

President Donald Trump and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell are already pushing to fill her vacant seat with a conservative before the election. Trump is promising he will nominate a woman, with Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appellate court judge who has spoken out against abortion and seriously concerns LGBTQ advocates, emerging as one of the front-runners.

Ironically, although Barrett opposes many of the things Ginsburg spent her life fighting for, she owes her own career — and her potential seat on the Supreme Court — to Ginsburg herself and other pioneering women like her.

Scott Lemieux: Trump and McConnell’s Supreme Court plan justifies anything the Democrats do in 2021

Packing the court, ending the filibuster and giving Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood should all be on the table, if all norms are off the table.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about six weeks before Election Day has set into motion what will perhaps be the most severe of the many strains the election of Donald Trump has placed on American democracy; the Supreme Court as we know it is unlikely to survive the fallout.

Her death has immediately shown the Republican political leadership to be wholly unscrupulous actors, committed to maximum short-term political gain irrespective of long-term institutional consequences — utterly unaffected by political or social norms, be they 200 years old or ones they themselves set a mere four years ago, and ruled only by the letter and not the spirit of the law. The backlash from Democrats — who seem likely to win the presidency, keep the House and possibly take the Senate in November — will be fierce. [..]

Norms once broken cannot be unilaterally restored. So if Republicans firmly establish “anything that is not strictly forbidden by the Constitution is permitted” as the de facto norm of governance, Democrats should act in kind should they win in November. This will not be an easy path for the clearly norm-loving Democratic establishment to follow, but constitutional hardball is a much better alternative for the people they represent than the Supreme Court being under the decades-long control of a political faction that has given up even trying to appeal to the majority of the American people.