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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Robert Reich: The ‘most dangerous politician of my lifetime’ may not be Donald Trump

He’s maybe the most dangerous politician of my lifetime. He’s helped transform the Republican Party into a cult, worshiping at the altar of authoritarianism. He’s damaged our country in ways that may take a generation to undo. The politician I’m talking about, of course, is Mitch McConnell.

Two goals for November 3, 2020: The first and most obvious is to get the worst president in history out of the White House. That’s necessary but not sufficient. We also have to flip the Senate and remove the worst Senate Majority Leader in history.

Like Trump, Mitch McConnell is no garden-variety bad public official. McConnell puts party above America, and Trump above party. Even if Trump is gone, if the Senate remains in Republican hands and McConnell is reelected, America loses because McConnell will still have a chokehold on our democracy. [..]

As to the question of who is worse, Trump or McConnell — the answer is that it’s too close to call. The two of them have degraded and corrupted American democracy. We need them both out.

Paul Krugman: America’s Red State Death Trip

Why does falling life expectancy track political orientation?

“E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — is one of America’s traditional mottos. And you might think it would be reflected in reality. We aren’t, after all, just united politically. We share a common language; the unrestricted movement of goods, services and people is guaranteed by the Constitution. Shouldn’t this lead to convergence in the way we live and think?

In fact, however, the past few decades have been marked by growing divergence among regions along several dimensions, all closely correlated. In particular, the political divide is also, increasingly, an economic divide. As The Times’s Tom Edsall put it in a recent article, “red and blue voters live in different economies.”

What Edsall didn’t point out is that red and blue voters don’t just live differently, they also die differently.

About the living part: Democratic-leaning areas used to look similar to Republican-leaning areas in terms of productivity, income and education. But they have been rapidly diverging, with blue areas getting more productive, richer and better educated. In the close presidential election of 2000, counties that supported Al Gore over George W. Bush accounted for only a little over half the nation’s economic output. In the close election of 2016, counties that supported Hillary Clinton accounted for 64 percent of output, almost twice the share of Trump country.

The thing is, the red-blue divide isn’t just about money. It’s also, increasingly, a matter of life and death.

Eugene Robinson: We’re losing our climate battle. We have no one but ourselves to blame.

We are losing the battle to save our planet, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

As the United Nations opens its 25th climate change summit in Madrid, leaders are seeking to put a brave face on a dismal situation. “My message here today is one of hope, not of despair,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists Sunday.

Hope, unfortunately, is not a plan. [..]

History will condemn a host of villains, starting with President Trump. The United States, as the globe’s leading economic power, is uniquely positioned to lead the world toward climate solutions. Instead, Trump is deliberately worsening the problem by pulling out of the Paris climate accord and actively encouraging the increased burning of fossil fuels, including coal. Decades from now, we may well see this as the Trump administration’s worst legacy.

Catherine Rampell: The more love Always Trumpers show, the more dangerous Trump becomes

You’ve heard of the Never Trumpers. That’s the president’s catchall slur for anyone who criticizes him or at least accurately attests to something unsavory he’s done.

But let’s talk instead for a moment about the true risk to our democracy: the Always Trumpers. These are people such as Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) and even the once-reasonable-sounding Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), who excuse away any evidence of impeachment-worthy misdeeds no matter how damning.

The Always Trumpers represent a sprawling group of lackeys and co-conspirators, willing to aid, abet and (most importantly) adore President Trump no matter what he’s credibly accused of. Come hell or high crimes, Always Trumpers always truckle to Trump. [..]

Absolved for soliciting political interference from one country, in one presidential election, he asks it publicly of two countries in the next. Forgiven for politicizing law enforcement, he moves on to politicizing the military. Allowed to abuse one immigrant group, or undermine one federal agency, he adds others to his crosshairs.

Just imagine what he’ll do if not just GOP lawmakers but also the electorate affirms his behavior with four more years.

Well done, Always Trumpers. If Trump didn’t genuinely believe he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue before, you’ve convinced him he can now.

Paul Rosenberg: Impeachment as a struggle to save democracy — from the pathological cult of Donald Trump

History shows how democracy can give way to “pathocracy” ruled by disordered individuals. Are we heading that way?

There are many different ways to view the Trump impeachment process, but perhaps the most important, if least recognized one is to view it as a part of struggle to preserve American democracy from destruction at the hands of predatory individuals utterly lacking in conscience.

It’s well recognized that there’s an ongoing wave of democratic erosion or backsliding around the world — and that the United States today is caught up in that wave, not standing apart from it. What’s far less appreciated is the role that individuals with personality disorders play in this process — a role that systematically disrupts our expectations of how things work, based on the normal psychology we commonly and tacitly assume. Unless we understand them and their role, we will never fully grasp what is happening, and it will be much more difficult, if not impossible, to correct.