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.
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Roger Cohen: Socialism and the 2020 American Election
France has one of the world’s most elaborate social protection systems. The ratio of tax revenue to gross domestic product, at 46.2 percent, is the highest of all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. In the United States, that ratio is 27.1 percent. Look no further to grasp Franco-American differences.
This French tax revenue is spent on programs — universal health care, lengthy paid maternity leave, unemployment benefits — designed to render society more cohesive and capitalism less cutthroat. Of the French Revolution’s three-pronged cry — “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” — the first has proved most problematic, freedom being but a short step, in the French view, from the “Anglo-Saxon” free-market jungle. Socialist presidents have governed France for half of the past 38 years. [..]
The parties that produced Europe’s welfare states had different names, but they all embraced the balances — of the free market and the public sector, of enterprise and equity, of profit and protection — that socialism or its cousin social democracy (as opposed to communism) stood for. Socialism, a word reborn, has none of the Red Scare potency in Europe that it carries in the United States. It’s part of life. It’s not Venezuelan misery.
A 21st-century American election is about to be fought over socialism. Amazing! When the Berlin Wall fell beneath communism’s weight three decades ago, capitalism unbridled strode forth over the rubble in search of global opportunity. Ideological struggle seemed over.
The presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced on Friday she wants to bust up giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon.
America’s first Gilded Age began in the late 19th century with a raft of innovations – railroads, steel production, oil extraction – but culminated in mammoth trusts run by “robber barons” like JP Morgan, John D Rockefeller, and William H “the public be damned” Vanderbilt.
The answer then was to bust up the railroad, oil and steel monopolies.
We’re now in a second Gilded Age, ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet, which has spawned a handful of hi-tech behemoths and a new set of barons like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google.
The answer is the same as it was before: bust up the monopolies.
In Alabama, a man is suing for what he believes is his right: to allow any man to force a female partner to give birth against her will. In a bizarre twist, a judge has allowed a no-longer-in-existence embryo to sue as well. It’s a case that highlights the fundamental divide between the pro-choice movement and the anti-abortion (and, often, anti-contraception) one: is the debate just about “life”? Or is it about allowing men and the government to control women – our lives, our futures, and the very skin, organs and bones we live in?
This case brings the stakes into sharp clarity. [..]
Part of the issue is Alabama’s “personhood” law, a measure penned and pushed by anti-abortion groups. Those laws are written to endow fetuses and embryos with a full spectrum of rights, and to create the exact kind of complex legal landscape that lets cases like this one move forward. And part of the issue is the fundamental goal of the anti-abortion movement: to control what women can and cannot do, and to frame us primarily as incubators and vessels for the desires of others, not individuals with our own desires, our own aspirations, and our own agency.
Frank Bruni: The Real Horror of the Anti-Vaxxers
How many studies do you have to throw at the vaccine hysterics before they quit? How much of a scientific consensus, how many unimpeachable experts and how exquisitely rational an argument must you present?
That’s a trick question, of course. There’s no magic number. There’s no number, period. And that’s because the anti-vaccine crowd (or anti-vaxxers) aren’t trafficking in anything as concrete, mundane and quaint as facts. They’re not really engaged in a debate about medicine. They’re immersed in a world of conspiracies, in the dark shadows where no data can be trusted, nothing is what it seems and those who buy the party line are pitiable sheep. [..]
The parents who are worried or sure about grave risks from vaccines reflect a broader horror that has flickered or flared in everything from the birther movement to “Pizzagate,” that nonsense about children as Democratic sex slaves in the imagined basement of a Washington pizza joint. Their recklessness and the attendant re-emergence of measles aren’t just a public health crisis. They’re a public sanity one, emblematic of too many people’s willful disregard of evidence, proud suspicion of expertise and estrangement from reason.
Eric Margolis: More Power to You Miss Omar
“Tell me who you cannot criticize and I will tell you who is your master”. (Attributed to Voltaire).
Saying anything negative about Israel has long been the third rail of US politics and media. Israel is our nation’s most sacred cow. Any questioning of its behavior brings furious charges of anti-Semitism and professional oblivion. [..]
Journalists learn this first commandment very early. Criticize, or even question, Israel at your own peril. Until recently, we journalists were not even allowed to write there was an ‘Israel lobby.’ It was widely considered Washington’s most powerful lobby group but, until lately, mentioning its name was seriously verboten.
Now, young Democratic stars Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a feisty congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, have suddenly broken the taboo and said what dared not be said: there is too much rightwing Israeli influence and there must be justice for Palestine.