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: Obama’s Trickle-Up Economics

Only serious nerds like me eagerly await the annual Census Bureau reports on income, poverty and health insurance. But the just-released reports on 2015 justified the anticipation.

We expected good news; but last year, it turns out, the economy partied like it was 1999. And this tells us something very important — namely, that a government that wants to can make American society more equitable, improving the quality of life for ordinary families.

The reports showed strong progress on three fronts: rapid growth in the incomes of ordinary families — median income rose a remarkable 5.2 percent; a substantial decline in the poverty rate; and a significant further rise in health insurance coverage after 2014’s gains. It was a trifecta that we haven’t hit since, yes, 1999.

New York times Editorial Board: Missouri: The Shoot-Me State

In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.

The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training. It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals. And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.

The measure has drawn no great national attention, but it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby. Democrats opposed to the Missouri bill called it a “perfect storm” of lowered standards for the use of deadly force and an invitation for people to be armed without responsible controls. The measure was enacted by the Republicans, despite strong public opposition and warnings about the threat to public safety from the state Police Chiefs Association. Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the groups fighting the gun lobby, noted that stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color.

Eugene Robinson: Dear Democrats: Stop freaking out

If Democrats want to beat Donald Trump, they need to get past the freakout stage and get to work.

In a sane and just world, this presidential race would be a walkover. Commentators would already be sketching out their postmortem analyses of an all-but-certain Hillary Clinton victory. Pare the contest down to its essentials: A former senator and secretary of state, eminently qualified to be president, is running against a dangerous demagogue who has never held public office and should not be allowed anywhere near the White House. Ought to be case closed.

But it’s not. Clinton’s big lead in national polls following the party conventions, which approached double digits, has shrunk to about two points — far too close for comfort. Trump has gained ground in swing-state polls as well. If the election were held tomorrow, Clinton would probably win. But Nov. 8 is many weeks away, and the recent trend line is hardly in her favor. [..]

But the Democratic Party has structural advantages in a presidential year, as Barack Obama so vividly demonstrated. The party’s coalition of women, young people, African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics has growing weight in the electorate. Trump’s base — older, whiter, more male — is a shrinking portion of the overall vote.

And the electoral map favors Democrats, giving Clinton more paths to victory than Trump. If she wins Florida, it’s over. Same if she wins Ohio. And she could even lose both and still get to 270.

Angst doesn’t help. Energizing the Democratic Party’s reliable voters, especially in crucial states, can make all the difference.

Richard Wolffe: Colin Powell’s hacked emails are an unwitting gift to voters

There are very few victims of Russian hackers who emerge with their reputations enhanced. Colin Powell may be unique for that alone, judging from the bluntness of his leaked emails about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

To be clear: hacking personal emails is reprehensible, and those behind the hack are scumbags who are trying to manipulate American voters.

To be doubly clear: the news media (including this column) have no principles and no shame in exploiting the ill-gotten product of those scumbags. Guilty, as charged.

And yet the Powell emails are so insightful and direct, it seems a shame – even if we have no sense of shame to let them pass by without comment. [..]

Powell’s personal club remains more popular than anybody else’s. Not least because he never ran for president, never suffering the kind of reputational damage that is strewn across that battlefield.

As the Russian hackers have unwittingly revealed, Powell remains a sharp observer of presidential politics, no matter whose club you belong to.

Jessica Valenti: Hillary Clinton, ‘weak’? Not from where I’m standing

Like a lot of American women who have demanding jobs and little time to rest, when Hillary Clinton got sick, she didn’t stop working. But unlike the many male political leaders who have fallen ill over the years – George W Bush who vomited on the Japanese prime minister’s lap, General David Petraeus who fainted during a congressional hearing – discussion of Clinton’s health has become a referendum on her fitness to lead.

The decision not to immediately disclose her pneumonia is being attacked as a lack of transparency. But, just as the illness isn’t unprecedented on the campaign trail, neither is working through it without alerting the media: John Kerry’s bout with the illness wasn’t revealed until after his 2004 bid had ended. [..]

The delusion that Clinton is seriously ill is so ingrained in some people’s imaginations that #HillarysBodyDouble started trending on Twitter soon after she emerged from her daughter’s apartment looking markedly better. Only in 2016, our year of political cartoonishness, would some people think it’s more likely that Clinton employs a doppleganger than the less exciting truth that a few hours of rest and fluids go a long way when you’re under the weather.

Using health concerns as a cudgel to criticize women’s participation in public life, however, is nothing new. Our supposed fragility was a common anti-suffrage argument, for example, and suffragists were often painted as mentally unwell – their very desire to be part of the political process proof of their “hysteria”.