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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Eliot Ash and Daniel L. Chen: Kavanaugh is radically conservative. Here’s the data to prove it.

Judges, particularly those on the Supreme Court, are expected to sit above the partisan fray. But Brett Kavanaugh, whom President Trump nominated to succeed Anthony M. Kennedy on Monday night, is much like the man who selected him — highly divisive in his decisions and rhetoric. According to a deep, data-driven survey of his writings from the bench, he is an uncommonly partisan judge, even compared to other federal appeals court judges.

On the circuit court, Kavanaugh tended to dissent more often along partisan lines than his peers, according to our research. He justified his decisions with conservative doctrines far more than his colleagues, citing politicized precedents consistent with other Republican-appointed judges, invoking the original Articles of the Constitution (consistent with the Originalist jurisprudence favored by conservative jurists) and using the language of economics and free markets. What’s more, Kavanaugh’s divisiveness ramped up during campaign season: He disagreed with his colleagues more often before elections, suggesting that he feels personally invested in national politics.

Paul Krugman: Trump, Tariffs, Tofu and Tax Cuts


According to early indications, recent U.S. economic growth was full of beans.

No, seriously. More than half of America’s soybean exports typically go to China, but Chinese tariffs will shift much of that demand to Brazil, and countries that normally get their soybeans from Brazil have raced to replace them with U.S. beans. The perverse result is that the prospect of tariffs has temporarily led to a remarkably large surge in U.S. exports, which independent estimates sug gest will add around 0.6 percentage points to the U.S. economy’s growth rate in the second quarter.

Unfortunately, we’ll give all that growth back and more in the months ahead. Thanks to the looming trade war, U.S. soybean prices have plummeted, and the farmers of Iowa are facing a rude awakening.

Why am I telling you this story? Partly as a reminder of the unintended consequences of Donald Trump’s trade war, which is going to hurt a lot of people, like Iowa farmers, who supported him in 2016. In fact, it looks as if the trade war is in general going to hurt Trump’s supporters more than his opponents.

Meanwhile, Trump’s trade war will benefit some unexpected parties. Was making Brazil great again part of his agenda?

Eugene Robinson: America will survive Trump. The rest of the world might not.

I’m confident that we can eventually repair the damage President Trump is doing to the nation. What he’s doing to the world is another story.

As with much of his program, Trump’s foreign policy is contradictory and ultimately self-defeating. He wants to lead — his voracious yet delicate ego demands nothing less — but does not know how. He fails to grasp that not all sacred cows should be butchered. The result is mindless abdication of American leadership, to the dismay of allies and the delight of adversaries.

This week, Trump heads to Brussels for a NATO summit and Helsinki for a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The question is whether he further damages the transatlantic relationship — a keystone of international relations since the end of World War II — by a little or a lot.

Catherine Rampell: Repealing Obamacare didn’t work. So Republicans are trying sabotage.

Last year, Republicans learned that conspicuously ripping health insurance from millions of poor and sick people would probably cost them votes. So instead, they pursued a sneakier strategy: sabotage.

Undermining Obamacare can be nearly as effective as repealing Obamacare, after all. And relative to a big, splashy legislative vote, boring-sounding administrative actions are much more likely to fly under the radar.

Sure enough, the Republicans’ latest sabotage effort came Saturday. That’s when the Trump administration abruptly announced it was halting yet another program, called “risk adjustment,” designed to stabilize the individual and small-group insurance markets.

This program sounds dry and technical, but it is crucial for making sure people with preexisting conditions maintain access to care. Basically, it’s a tool for evening out costs among insurers.

Michelle Goldberg: Lie Back and Take It, America

Everyone who worried that the #MeToo movement had gone too far can breathe a sigh of relief. It turns out that even if there’s very credible evidence that a man is complicit in sexual harassment and degradation, he can still work at the apex of American politics.

Donald Trump just hired Bill Shine, who was forced out of Fox News in the aftermath of sexual harassment scandals there. He will be deputy chief of staff for communications. As of this writing, seven men say that an influential Republican congressman, Jim Jordan of Ohio, knew about the widespread sexual abuse of athletes when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, and did nothing to stop it. Jordan has alternately denied any knowledge of abuse and dismissed what he did hear as “conversations in a locker room.” Many of Jordan’s conservative colleagues continue to publicly support him, as does Trump. Last week Trump made a gross, sexually demeaning joke about a female senator, but most of the public seemed too exhausted to make a fuss.

Amid the flood of personal stories of sexual coercion that has marked the #MeToo movement, we learned how often people — particularly women — will submit to sex they don’t want because men wear them out with entitled demands. In the face of men bent on violation, maintaining one’s own boundaries takes energy, and sometimes it flags. It feels as if we’re now experiencing something similar as a nation.