Oct 11 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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Paul Krugman: Virginia Is for Haters

Why is America the only wealthy nation that doesn’t guarantee essential health care for all? (We’ve made a lot of progress under Obamacare, but not enough, and the Trump administration is doing its best to kill it.) Why do we have much higher poverty than our economic peers, especially among children, and much higher infant mortality despite the sophistication of our medical system?

The answer, of course, comes down to politics: We are uniquely unwilling to take care of our fellow citizens. And behind that political difference lies one overwhelming fact: the legacy of slavery. All too often, white Americans think of the social safety net not as something for people like themselves fallen on hard times, but as a giveaway to Those People.

This isn’t idle speculation. If you want to understand why policies toward the poor are so different at the state level, why some states offer so much less support to troubled families with children, one predictor stands out: the African-American share of the population. The more blacks, the less compassion white voters feel.

Michelle Goldberg: Corker Told the Truth About Trump. Now He Should Act on It.

Credit Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, for momentarily snapping us out of it. On Sunday evening, after a Twitter feud with Trump, Corker gave an interview to The New York Times in which he said publicly what Republican officeholders usually say only privately. Trump, Corker told the reporters Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler, is treating the presidency like “a reality show” and could be setting the nation “on the path to World War III.” Corker has previously said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate our country from chaos.” On Sunday, he identified the agent of that chaos. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker said of Trump.

Now that Corker has done the country the immense favor of acknowledging the obvious, the key question is: What’s next? Corker, despite his culpability in helping to legitimize Trump during the presidential campaign and despite waiting until he’d announced his retirement to speak out, has behaved more patriotically than most of his quietly complicit colleagues. But as Trump continues to tweet threats at a war-ready North Korea, it is not enough to simply hope that the president’s minders can stop him from blowing up the world.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why Democrats need a 50-state strategy

Given the party’s recent losses, Democrats’ latest attempts to compete at the federal level in traditionally red states may seem off base. In 2018, 10 Democratic senators are up for reelection in states where President Trump prevailed, while just one Republican incumbent is running in a state that Hillary Clinton carried. Yet despite the daunting landscape, some Democrats are setting their sights on races in Texas and, more unexpectedly, deep-red Alabama.

Unlike with previous bids to expand the electoral map, however, these Democrats are not relying on outside money or slickly produced ads. They are doing it with strong candidates who are running smart, locally driven campaigns.

The first opportunity for a Democratic pickup will come in December when Alabama voters head to the polls for a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The race pits former U.S. attorney Doug Jones (D) against extreme right-wing candidate Roy Moore (R), a former judge with a history of espousing theocratic and bigoted views. Moore’s victory in the Republican primary last month put the race on the national radar, but Democrats now have a chance to compete because of work that Jones and his supporters, including local activists affiliated with MoveOn.org, have been doing on the ground for months.

David Von Drehle: Once upon a time, it looked like Trump might have some empathy. Not anymore.

From the Mayo Clinic website:

“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

No, the entry is not illustrated with a photo of the president. But each day adds new pages to Trump’s bulging textbook case. He is a farrago of grievance and grandiosity. What I want to highlight today, though, is the lack of empathy, because empathy is essential to constructive leadership. And we sure could use some of that.

Empathy is the ability to see through another’s eyes, to understand and value the feelings of others. As the saying goes, it’s the willingness to walk a mile in another’s shoes. Empathy is not about feeling pity for someone else — that’s sympathy. Rather, it is the recognition of common humanity. In an open society, empathy is the bedrock of civil discourse and durable policy, because these things are not possible without mutual respect.

Jonathan Freidland: Weinstein’s claim of an age of innocence about sexual abuse is pure fiction

There is so much to condemn about Harvey Weinstein, but let’s focus on the opening paragraph of the statement he released in response to the New York Times’ revelation of his serial sexual harassment. “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” he wrote. “That was the culture, then.”

Most reaction to those words has focused, rightly, on the absurd implication that there was ever a time when it was acceptable for a man to abuse women the way an ever-expanding group of individuals – and a covert audio recording – say Weinstein abused them.

But let’s concede that there was indeed a time when Hollywood studio bosses regarded young female actors as chattel, human props that they owned and could therefore prod, grab and humiliate at whim. Even if you give way on that point, it does not help Weinstein. For this earlier age that he invokes in his defence, an era supposedly innocent of the demand that men refrain from treating women as loofahs – an aid to take into the shower – does not include the period when he was committing his alleged crimes.