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Apr 01 2016

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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Mark Osler: Obama’s Clemency Problem

IN my pocket is something ancient: a 1,700-year-old Roman coin. It bears three human images and the word “Clementia.” That was the name of the Roman goddess of mercy, who was often depicted standing beside (and holding the hand of) the Roman emperor. The message was clear: Mercy was a virtue not only of individuals but also of governments. The framers of the United States Constitution embraced that tradition when they preserved for the president one of the traditional powers of kings: the pardon power.

That ancient ideal needs to be put into action by President Obama. Despite commuting on Wednesday the sentences of 61 federal prisoners convicted of drug and firearm crimes — bringing his total number of commutations to 248, more than that of his six predecessors combined — he is far from accomplishing the ambitious goals his administration publicly set out two years ago.

Jessica Valente: The terrifying truth behind Donald Trump’s abortion comments

Donald Trump, the man who has said he wants to kill the wives and children of terrorists, deport millions of undocumented people, and build a wall to keep “rapist” Mexicans out, has now turned his punitive eye towards women who get abortions. On Wednesday, the presumptive Republican nominee for president told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women who illegally end their pregnancies should face “some sort of punishment”.

Apparently Trump wasn’t aware of the fantastical but common Republican refrain that while abortion should be illegal, women themselves shouldn’t be punished – a diplomatic but wholly dishonest response in a country where women have already been jailed for ending their pregnancies. Trump also acknowledged that if abortion were banned, women would seek out the procedure in “illegal places,” once again stepping in the anti-choice party line that insists pre-Roe back alley abortions are a myth.

That’s why Trump’s comments not only angered pro-choice activists, but those on the right who have spent an awful lot of time trying to convince Americans that overturning Roe v Wade isn’t anti-woman. Talking about “punishment” reminds voters exactly what outlawing abortion would mean for the one out of three American women who end a pregnancy. They don’t want us to think about the more than 100,000 women in Texas who have already attempted to self-abort, or the woman in Tennessee who was arrested after trying to end her pregnancy with a coat hanger.

Sarah Morrison: Obama undermined press freedom. Now he wants a strong media to stop Trump?

President Obama had harsh words for the state of journalism and how it has lapsed in its duties to hold public figures – specifically those vying for his current job – accountable. If that’s truly important to him, he can start with his own administration.

Obama spoke Monday night at the Toner Prize ceremony, which honors excellence in political reporting. When he first ran for president in 2008, Obama said, candidates couldn’t just get away with saying whatever they wanted, regardless of truth. The current election cycle, he said, indicates that this is no longer the case.

There’s plenty of evidence of that – and most of it revolves around one candidate in particular. Now that Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican nomination seems all but certain, we’re seeing the “how did we allow Trump to happen?” media self-flagellation in Sunday columns and the “did we allow Trump to happen?” self-questioning in others.

Michael Winship: A Bird, A Plane? No, It’s Superdelegates!

Last week, our suggestion that Hillary Clinton call for the resignations of her pals Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz got a big response. But a few people misunderstood what we were saying.

Some thought Bill Moyers and I were calling for Clinton herself to step aside (we weren’t). Others thought we somehow believed Clinton actually had the power to fire Emanuel (of course she doesn’t). Wasserman Schultz is a different story; the demand for her resignation as DNC chair grows by the day and Clinton doubtless will have a voice as to whether she stays or goes (on top of which, for the first time since she entered the House of Representatives, Wasserman Schultz’s Florida congressional seat is being challenged in a Democratic primary by attorney and former Bernie Sanders advisor Tim Canova).

Robert Reich: Why The Major Media Marginalize Bernie

“Bernie did well last weekend but he can’t possibly win the nomination,” a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.

Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent of the vote in Idaho and 79 percent in Utah. This past Saturday, he took 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, 73 percent in Washington, and 70 percent in Hawaii.

In fact, since March 15, Bernie has won six out of the seven Democratic primary contests with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Those victories have given him roughly a one hundred additional pledged delegates.

As of now, Hillary Clinton has 54.9 percent of the pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders’s 45.1 percent.That’s still a sizable gap – but it doesn’t make Bernie an impossibility.