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Sep 19 2017

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Lawrence Tribe and Ron Fein: Trump’s pardon of Arpaio can — and should — be overturned

A federal judge in Arizona will soon consider whether to overturn President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. The answer to this question has consequences not just for Arpaio and the people he hurt but also for the entire country. And although the conventional legal wisdom has been that a presidential decision to grant a pardon is unreviewable, that is wrong. In this circumstance, Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio was unconstitutional and should be overturned. [..]

The framers suggested one solution to the prospect of such abuse. During a Virginia debate over whether to ratify the Constitution, George Mason worried that the president might “pardon crimes which were advised by himself.” James Madison replied that a president who did so could be impeached. Trump’s pardon of Arpaio should trigger congressional hearings on whether it constitutes an impeachable offense.

But it strains logic to suggest that, although a president can be removed from office for an unconstitutional pardon, the pardon itself must be judicially enforced. By pardoning Arpaio for his willful disobedience of a court order to stop violating Arizonans’ constitutional rights, Trump has pulled the republic into uncharted waters. Our best guide home is the Constitution.

David Leonhardt: John McCain Faces a New Test of His Principles

It looks as if John McCain’s Senate colleagues are going to test him once again. And the health insurance of millions of Americans depends on the outcome.

This summer, when his party was trying to force a health bill with unprecedented haste — no hearings, no support from medical experts — McCain stood up for the idea of the Senate. By now, you’ve probably heard a line or two from his July 25 speech, shortly after learning he had aggressive brain cancer. But the full speech is worth reading. It’s McCain at his best, a defense of the imperfect but noble pursuit of democratic politics.

When his colleagues ignored him, McCain cast the vote that defeated their health bill two days later, with a dramatic 1:30 a.m. thumbs-down. The vote was remarkable because McCain is a conservative, reluctant to tax people for social programs, as the Affordable Care Act does. But he believed in a higher principle: the Senate’s credibility.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The stark difference between Republicans and Democrats on health care couldn’t be clearer

“When they go low, we go high,” Michelle Obama told the Democratic National Convention in her electrifying address last year. That phrase summarizes the stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats on the fundamental question of affordable health care. Republicans want you to have all the health care you choose to afford, even if you can’t afford much. Democrats understand that affordable health care should be a fundamental right.

Having failed to pass four different bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans are back at it again. Backers of the new bill — labeled Graham-Cassidy after Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — claim to have 48 or 49 votes for this effort. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked the Congressional Budget Office to make the bill’s assessment a priority. The 141-page bill was only made public on Sept. 13, but Republicans are pushing for a vote by the end of the month. [..]

Graham-Cassidy tells us much about the Republican majority. GOP legislators don’t mind that millions go without health insurance. They assume low-wage and moderate-income families should have less health-care protection than the wealthy. You get what you can afford, and you won’t be able to afford much because you’ll have to pay the rip-offs of the private insurance companies and the obscene drug prices of the drug lobby.

Katherine Rampell: A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech

Here’s the problem with suggesting that upsetting speech warrants “safe spaces,” or otherwise conflating mere words with physical assault: If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech.

Just ask college students. A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”

That’s one finding from a disturbing new survey of students conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor.

In August, motivated by concerns about the “narrowing window of permissible topics” for discussion on campuses, Villasenor conducted a nationwide survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at four-year colleges. Financial support for the survey was provided by the Charles Koch Foundation, which Villasenor said had no involvement in designing, administering or analyzing the questionnaire; as of this writing, the foundation had also not seen his results.

Many of Villasenor’s questions were designed to gauge students’ understanding of the First Amendment. Colleges, after all, pay a lot of lip service to “freedom of speech,” despite high-profile examples of civil-liberty-squelching on campus. The survey suggests that this might not be due to hypocrisy so much as a misunderstanding of what the First Amendment actually entails.

Eugene Robinson: The 2016 election was not a fluke

Leaders of both major parties are wrong to think of the 2016 election as some kind of fluke. I believe a political realignment is underway, and those who fail to discern its outlines could end up powerless and irrelevant.

With all respect to Hillary Clinton, her newly published memoir, “What Happened,” doesn’t really tell what happened. It is perhaps inevitable that she would focus on the daily twists and turns of the campaign. It is understandable that she would blame James B. Comey, Vladimir Putin and the media for damaging her prospects — and that she would play down her own strategic and tactical missteps.

But take a step back and look at the election through a wider lens. Clinton, with all her vast experience and proven ability, was defeated by Donald Trump, a reality-television star who had never before run for office, displayed near-total ignorance of the issues, broke every rule of political rhetoric and was caught on videotape bragging of how he sexually assaulted random women by grabbing their crotches.