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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Paul Krugman: Armpits, White Ghettos and Contempt
Who really despises the American heartland?
“If you live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago? You don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland or, you know, these armpits of America.” So declared Stephen Moore, the man Donald Trump wants to install on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, during a 2014 event held at a think tank called, yes, the Heartland Institute.
The crowd laughed.
Moore is an indefensible choice on many grounds. Even if he hadn’t shown himself to be extraordinarily misogynistic and have an ugly personal history, his track record on economics — always wrong, never admitting error or learning from it — is utterly disqualifying.
His remarks about the Midwest, however, highlight more than his unsuitability for the Fed. They also provide an illustration of something I’ve been noticing for a while: The thinly veiled contempt conservative elites feel for the middle-American voters they depend on.
Elizabeth Drew: The Danger in Not Impeaching Trump
It may be risky politically, but Congress has a responsibility to act.
The decision facing the House Democrats over whether to proceed with an impeachment of President Trump is both more difficult and more consequential than the discussion of it suggests. The arguments offered by House leaders, in particular Speaker Nancy Pelosi, against it are understandable, including that impeachment could invite a wrenching partisan fight; render the party vulnerable to the charge that it’s obsessed with scoring points against Mr. Trump; and distract Democrats from focusing on legislation of more interest to voters.
But the Democrats would also run enormous risks if they didn’t hold to account a president who has clearly abused power and the Constitution, who has not honored the oath of office and who has had a wave of campaign and White House aides plead guilty to or be convicted of crimes.
The argument that the Democratic House wouldn’t be able to focus on substantive legislation is the flimsiest rationale. It did so in 1974 while the House Judiciary Committee was considering the impeachment of Richard Nixon. It seems clear that what the Democratic leaders are actually worried about is public relations. The press no doubt would focus on that sexier subject. [..]
The Democrats may succeed in avoiding a tumultuous, divisive fight over impeachment now. But if they choose to ignore clear abuses of the Constitution, they’ll also turn a blind eye to the precedent they’re setting and how feckless they’ll look in history.
Jed Handelsman Shugerman: The Trump Campaign Conspired With the Russians. Mueller Proved It.
By the standards of a potential impeachment inquiry, the evidence is clear.
n his first letter after receiving the Mueller report, Attorney General William Barr accurately quoted it as saying that “the investigation did not establish” that the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
But the opposite is also true: The Mueller report does establish that, in fact, members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
How is this possible? It’s the difference between the report’s criminal prosecution standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” and a lower standard — the preponderance standard of “more likely than not” — relevant for counterintelligence and general parlance about facts, and closer to the proper standard for impeachment.
There is confusion about the Mueller report’s fact-finding because he used the wrong coordination standard, obstruction probably obscured the evidence of crimes, and the summary was unclear about evidentiary standards. The report’s very high standard for legal conclusions for criminal charges was explicitly proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” So the report did not establish crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. But it did show a preponderance of conspiracy and coordination.
Eugene Robinson: Biden may or may not win the nomination. But he knows the stakes.
Joe Biden begins his presidential campaign with a lead over the crowded Democratic field and a simple message the nation can immediately grasp: I can stop the madness. I can beat President Trump. [..]
Conventional wisdom holds that the Democratic candidates can’t just be anti-Trump — that they must talk primarily about bread-and-butter issues such as health care, the opioid crisis and the hollowing out of the working class. Indeed, Democrats do have to offer solutions. But to be silent about Trump is to tiptoe around the elephant in the parlor. The single biggest issue, for the health and prosperity of the nation, is getting him out of office.
We will hear much in the coming months about which candidates appeal to which components of the electorate. Biden potentially could do very well with two widely disparate groups in particular — the white working-class voters in the Rust Belt who gave Trump his 2016 victory; and the African Americans without whose support no one can win the Democratic presidential nomination.
But is Biden too moderate for a party that has moved leftward in recent years? I think he should invite a group of the fiery first-term Democratic women in the House to lunch. Instead of trying to hug them, he should listen to what they have to say. If he fails to make a real effort to understand how the party has changed, his first day on the campaign trail may turn out to have been his best day.
I used to be a reluctant environmentalist. Of course, as a scientist, I’ve always believed in the science of climate change – even a casual examination of the evidence shows that humans burning fossil fuels into the Earth’s atmosphere is causing it. But my reluctance wasn’t about science, it’s just that the images of melting glaciers and dying polar bears – while compelling for many people – just didn’t move me. I’m not an outdoorsman. Besides, polar bears, however cute and cuddly they may seem, eat their own young.
As a doctor, I care about people. And the consequences of climate change felt so remote from the daily struggle. Babies are dying, so why should I be worried about faraway glaciers and cannibalistic bears? But after being appointed health director of the City of Detroit, I realized that the forces that cause climate change are the same forces that poisoned the lungs of babies in my city. Today, I’m standing up for the Green New Deal because it’s also a Public Health New Deal.