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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E. J. Dionne Jr.: Republicans are taxing churches to help corporations. Really.

Republicans tax churches to help pay for big corporate giveaway.

You would be forgiven for thinking this is a headline from the Onion or the fantasy of some left-wing website. But it’s exactly what happened in the big corporate tax cut the GOP passed last year.

Now — under pressure from churches, synagogues and other nonprofits — embarrassed leaders of a party that casts itself as religious liberty’s last line of defense are trying to fix a provision that is a monument to both their carelessness and their hypocrisy.

The authors of the measure apparently didn’t even understand what they were doing — or that’s their alibi to faith groups now. It’s not much of a defense. And the fact that Republicans increased the tax burden on nonprofits, including those tied to religion, so they could shower money on corporations and the wealthy shows where their priorities lie.

Dana Milbank: George H.W. Bush’s funeral was a powerful renunciation of Trump

George Herbert Walker Bush, before his death, said he wanted President Trump to attend his funeral, a generous gesture that forgave the cavalcade of insults that Trump has rained on the Bush family.

It was a final show of the sound judgment Bush exercised in life.

Trump’s name was mentioned not once by the four eulogists at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday. But their words were an implicit rebuke of everything Trump is. They spoke of what made Bush a great leader, which are the very traits that, by their absence, make Trump so woefully inadequate.

During his eulogy, Bush biographer Jon Meacham identified Bush’s “thousand points of light” — a phrase Trump has ridiculed — as a “companion verse” to Abraham Lincoln’s “better angels of our nature,” because “Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts.”

And there, in the front pew, was Trump, who leads by stoking fear and confirming base impulses.

Lawrence Douglas: Republicans are staging mini-coups across the US

Democracies empower the will of majorities. In the US, Republican lawmakers on both the state and national level have rejected that basic principle.

In a lame-duck session in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Republican legislators in the state of Wisconsin passed a sweeping bill designed to radically check the powers of the incoming governor. The result of this 11th-hour tactic is an attack on progressive causes, the integrity of the electoral process, and democratic accountability. [..]

Hyper-partisan gerrymandering is perhaps the most radically anti-democratic fixture of our present political reality. We should all, then, be encouraged by one of most consequential, but largely overlooked, results of last month’s midterms.

Voters in Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah passed ballot initiatives emphatically rejecting such gerrymandering. They endorsed the creation of non-partisan redistricting commissions or otherwise voted to limit the power of a controlling party to unilaterally draw electoral maps.

We can only hope that these efforts will spread and succeed, spelling the end of radical Republican efforts to ignore the will of the majority.

Michelle Cottle: Trump Shrugs Off Criminal Justice Reform

Art of the deal, my foot. For all his talk about being a guy who gets stuff done, President Trump is poised to blow a rare chance to show leadership in securing vital bipartisan legislation.

Even before Congress paused this week to honor George H.W. Bush, time was running out to pass a desperately needed reform of the criminal justice system. The latest version of the First Step Act, hammered out by a bipartisan clutch of senators, initially looked to be on a promising path. The bill aims at rationalizing federal sentencing as well as improving conditions for inmates and helping ease them back into society after prison. It has garnered strong support in both chambers and has been endorsed by a broad spectrum of interest groups.

With the reform nemesis Jeff Sessions no longer making mischief as attorney general, advocates from both parties voiced optimism about the bill’s chances, if only the president would give it an extra little boost. The week after the midterms, Mr. Trump supplied that boost, hosting a White House ceremony at which he announced his support of the plan and lavished praise on lawmakers for hard work on this “crucial issue.”

Then Mitch McConnell went into action. Or, more precisely, the Senate majority leader shifted into his signature mode of vigorous inaction.