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.

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Elie Honig: Manafort deal collapses: What it means for Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller informed a federal judge on Monday that Paul Manafort’s cooperation deal has imploded because of Manafort’s seemingly congenital inability to tell the truth.

On the surface, Manafort’s failed cooperation appears to be a setback for Mueller and a bullet dodged for President Donald Trump and administration insiders. But Mueller’s ability to see through Manafort’s lies and rip up the cooperation agreement bespeaks a deeper strength. By Monday’s court filing, Mueller effectively declared: I have enough evidence to know Manafort is lying to protect others, and I don’t need his half-baked cooperation to prove my case against them. [..]

When a prosecutor pulls the plug on a cooperator because that cooperator lies, it typically happens not merely because the prosecutor senses in his gut that the cooperator is lying. More often, the prosecutor knows for a fact that the cooperator is lying because the prosecutor has hard evidence to prove the truth of the matter.

Paul Waldman: Why Pelosi won’t have to worry about a ‘tea party of the left’

House Democrats chose Nancy Pelosi today as their nominee for speaker, and perhaps most importantly, no one ran against her. She still needs to win over enough doubters in her caucus to prevail when the entire House votes, but she and the rest of the Democrats have broader questions to answer, too.

Among the most important: What is the ideological character of this new Democratic majority? Is it going to be riven by internal conflict the way Republicans have been in recent years? Is the left wing going to make itself as troublesome as the Freedom Caucus has been for the GOP? [..]

But there are important reasons the progressives are extremely unlikely to create the same kind of disruption that the Freedom Caucus and far-right members generally have created on the Republican side. It has to do with who these progressives are, and some basic differences between conservatism and liberalism.

Rebecca Nagle: Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

On the morning of June 22, 1839, the Cherokee leader John Ridge was pulled from his bed, dragged into his front yard and stabbed 84 times while his family watched. He was assassinated for signing the Cherokee Nation’s removal treaty, a document that — in exchange for the tribe’s homelands — promised uninterrupted sovereignty over a third of the land in present-day Oklahoma. That promise was not kept.

Sixty-seven years later, federal agents questioned John’s grandson, William D. Polson. They needed to add him to a list of every Cherokee living in Indian Territory to start the process of land allotments. Through allotment, all land belonging to the Cherokee Nation — the land John had signed his life for — would be split up between individual citizens and then opened up for white settlement. And by this grand act of bureaucratic theft, Oklahoma became a state.

Karen Tumulty: Something rare and wondrous is happening in Congress

Take a glance at Capitol Hill right now. Something rare and wondrous is happening.

It is a momentary, precise alignment of the stars and the planets, a sort of legislative solar eclipse.

What is coming together in Congress is a fragile, bipartisan consensus to make some small and overdue reforms to the criminal-justice system, to correct some of the inequities and imbalances that Congress and President Bill Clinton created with draconian anti-crime legislation enacted during the 1990s. [..]

A measure introduced Nov. 15 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), among others, would reduce mandatory sentences for some drug-related felonies, make more offenders eligible for early release and provide more funding for anti-recidivism programs.

Christian Farias: What Is Robert Mueller Thinking?

Since his investigation into Russian election interference began 18 months ago, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has had very little to say. Mr. Mueller, in fact, has let court filings and appearances by his team of lawyers do all of the talking, at least publicly, as the law and facts have led to more indictments, convictions, sentences and rulings — mostly in his favor.

Friday, however, could bring Mr. Mueller’s richest revelation yet. A federal judge has ordered Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and prosecutors to her courtroom that day to learn more about the extent of his “crimes and lies” in the course of cooperating with the special counsel, who has accused Mr. Manafort of breaching his plea agreement with the government.