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Oct 08 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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Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern: This Supreme Court Term Will End With Either Catastrophe or 13 Justices

If Amy Coney Barrett is seated before the election, Democrats will need to act quickly.

When Republicans gathered at the White House on Sept. 26 to celebrate the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, they placed themselves at the epicenter of a likely superspreader event. Several senators in attendance—in addition to the president, the first lady, Chris Christie, and multiple GOP operatives—reported COVID-19 infections in the following days. Trump remains hospitalized while key Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are in quarantine. Yet on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that he will move “full steam ahead” with confirmation hearings to install Barrett on the Supreme Court, even if that means endangering themselves and Senate staff. McConnell understands they’ll have to act fast to make it happen.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been slow to catch up. At the first debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Biden refused to say whether he’d expand the Supreme Court if Republicans confirm Barrett, insisting that the issue is a “distraction.” He’s wrong. Broaching the conversation about systemic reform after the election will be too late. And the coming Supreme Court term, which begins Monday, reflects just some of what’s at stake, this week, this month, and in the months ahead. The debate about structural changes to the court can’t wait until a hypothetical future in which everything has settled down. That future has already vanished.

Margaret Sullivan: No more presidential debates this year? Not a problem. We’ve seen enough.

At their best, debates serve an essential purpose. But not the way they’ve been going this cycle.

The first presidential debate — just over a week ago, if calculated in ordinary time — was a nightmare.

Moderator Chris Wallace failed to keep President Trump under control, and the dominant memory is of three White men in their 70s shouting over one another’s voices.

The one and only vice-presidential debate Wednesday night was a different kind of mess, but no more useful to the voting public. USA Today’s Susan Page asked some excellent questions, but the candidates dodged them, giving mini-speeches about the subjects of their choice instead.

Page failed to effectively follow up by demanding germane answers; nor did she successfully enforce time limits — meaning that the dominant memory of that night is of a fly lingering on Mike Pence’s white hair or Kamala Harris’s pained smiling (following the ironclad women’s rule for expressing disagreement) as she repeated the phrase, “I’m speaking.” [..]

It’s, well, debatable if next week’s planned event will come off.

But if it doesn’t, that’s perfectly fine. We’ve seen enough.

Paul Waldman: Why Trump’s demand for nondisclosure agreements at Walter Reed is so alarming

He’s so desperate to keep the state of his health a secret that he’s forcing doctors to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Donald Trump is already the oldest person to become president in American history; should he win reelection, he will be 78 at the end of his second term. He has now contracted covid-19, a disease that can produce effects that linger for months and potentially years.

Yet despite the fact that his health status is of intense concern to the country, he and his administration are not only not being forthcoming with details about his condition; they are doing everything they can to cloak them in mystery.

And according to a surprising new NBC News report concerning a strange visit he made to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last year, Trump was so worried that personnel there might reveal information about his health that he even insisted on nondisclosure agreements: [..]

The use of NDAs is nothing new for Trump. He lives in constant fear that people who work for him might reveal the things they saw while in his employ; given how many former aides and associates have written books and articles explaining how appalled and disgusted they were at his behavior, that fear is not unwarranted. [..]

But using NDAs on government employees and medical personnel is very different. Bradley Moss, a prominent attorney specializing in federal employment and national security law, told me that NDAs forced on government workers — including those at Walter Reed — are unenforceable.

Frank Bruni: Mike Pence’s Debate Performance Bugged Me Out

He’s numb to pests large and small.

We need to talk about that fly.

It was a fly, wasn’t it? If not, it was a bug doing an ace interpretation of a fly, and about two-thirds of the way through the debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, it took up residence in Vice President Mike Pence’s hair, a smudge of black against a shock of white, where it lingered for a few minutes before undoubtedly realizing that there was warmer, more demonstrably human real estate to be had.

Off it flew, and on Pence droned. He never exhibited any awareness — not the subtlest glance upward, not the slightest flinch or twitch — that his head had been colonized. I first found this strange and then realized it was everything. Pence’s years of obsequiousness to Donald Trump had beaten all sensitivity and capacity for revulsion out of him.

How could he be expected to register or exile an itty-bitty pest when he routinely puts up with a great big one? That fly was some crazy combo of metaphor, visitation and karmic joke.

Rebecca Solnit: Trump’s response to the pandemic has always been dishonest and cruel

The contemporary right has one central principle: rejecting any responsibility for others in the hollow name of freedom

“Everybody was told to wear a mask. Why did the first family and the chief of staff believe that the rules for everybody else didn’t apply to them?” debate host Chris Wallace said on Fox News Sunday, and the answer is obvious. Throughout the pandemic the Trump administration and right-wingers in the US and elsewhere have found that the laws of science are offensive to their sense of impunity and irresponsibility. Their attitude has been “this doesn’t affect me – and I don’t care how it affects you”.

The pandemic focused and intensified the need to recognize the interconnectedness of all things—in this case the way that viruses spread and the responsibility of those in power and each of us to do what we can to limit that spread, and to recognize the consequences that could break our educational system, our economy, and our daily lives and hopes and dreams if we did not take care, of ourselves, each other, and the whole. In other words that we are not separate from each other, and that inseparability is a basis for making decisions on behalf of the common good. But Republicans have long denied this reality.

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