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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Paul Krugman: States of Cruelty

Something terrible has happened to pregnant women in Texas: their mortality rate has doubled in recent years, and is now comparable to rates in places like Russia or Ukraine. Although researchers into this disaster are careful to say that it can’t be attributed to any one cause, the death surge does coincide with the state’s defunding of Planned Parenthood, which led to the closing of many clinics. And all of this should be seen against the general background of Texas policy, which is extremely hostile toward anything that helps low-income residents.

There’s an important civics lesson here. While many people are focused on national politics, with reason — one sociopath in the White House can ruin your whole day — many crucial decisions are taken at the state and local levels. If the people we elect to these offices are irresponsible, cruel, or both, they can do a lot of damage. [..]

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Most Americans are, I believe, far more generous than the politicians leading many of our states. The problem is that too many of us don’t vote in state and local elections, or realize how much cruelty is being carried out in our name. The point is that America would become a better place if more of us started paying attention to politics beyond the presidential race.


Colin Holtz: Who is to blame for the EpiPen hike? Drug monopolies – not evil CEOs

In the classic arcade game whack-a-mole, automated ‘moles’ pop up faster and faster, while the increasingly overwhelmed player attempts to beat them back down with a cushioned mallet. The political version of that game looks a lot like the recent controversy over the price of EpiPens.

Since buying up the exclusive rights to the EpiPen in 2007, the pharmaceutical company Mylan has increased the price of this life-saving medication more than 400%. The move sparked outrage, with most patients and politicians turning their ire on the easiest target: the company itself. Easy – but wrong. [..]

Instead of playing whack-a-mole, we need to break the monopolies themselves.

Charles M. Blow: Donald Trump’s Bigotry

According to recent polls, the image of Donald Trump as a bigot has begun to crystallize, and for good reason: Because it’s true!

A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that 59 percent of likely voters, and 29 percent of likely Republican voters in particular, think that the way Trump talks appeals to bigotry. Republicans were the only anomaly. A majority or plurality of every other demographic measured — Democrats, independents, men, women, white people with and without college degrees, every age group, whites and nonwhites alike — agreed that Trump’s words appeal to bigotry.

But there is one demographic that must be particularly concerning to Trump: college-educated whites. [..]

Not only are these college-educated white women likely to recoil from a man they view as biased toward others, they also probably realize their own place as a historically disadvantaged group and know how very harmful bias can be.

This is surely earth-shattering news for a struggling campaign, so Trump, in a fit of desperation, is throwing anything and everything against the wall to see if it sticks, to shake the bigotry label off of him and make it stick to Hillary Clinton.

Robert Reich: Trumpism will continue after Trump loses, but can any good come out of the wreckage? 

I recently got a call from a political analyst in Washington. “Trump is dropping like a stone,” he said, convincingly. “After Election Day, he’s history.”

I think Trump will lose the election, but I doubt he’ll be “history.”

Defeated presidential candidates typically disappear from public view. Think Mitt Romney or Michael Dukakis.

But Donald Trump won’t disappear. Trump needs attention the way normal people need food. [..]

Trump will leave the GOP sharply split between its corporate donor class and its working class. Clinton will preside over a party divided only somewhat less dramatically between its own donor class and an increasingly vocal progressive base.

Which raises an intriguing, if unlikely, scenario. What if Trump’s authoritarian populists join with progressive populists to form an anti-establishment third party dedicated to getting big money out of American politics? [..]

Trumpism will continue after Trump loses. The open question is whether anything good can be salvaged from its wreckage.

Richard Wolffe: Straight talk was Trump’s last remaining strength. Now it’s gone

Among Republican strategists – the kind of political hacks who have actually worked on successful presidential campaigns – there has long been some serious head-scratching about the Democratic response to Donald Trump.

Why portray him as the scariest man alive? Why treat him as if his random brain farts will become reality?

“Democrats are taking Trump way too seriously,” one veteran GOP consultant told me at the Republican convention in Cleveland. “If you say he’ll destroy the world, that means you think he’s going to do what he says he’ll do. A more powerful attack is to say he’s fake. He can’t and won’t do any of it.” [..]

In this target-rich environment, who has the time or energy to go after his credibility?

Why, Donald Trump does, of course.

This week the GOP nominee managed to flip-flop on his signature issue: the one that got him through all those noisy primary debates. The one that allowed him to destroy most of his rivals and connect at a visceral level with the party’s nativist core.