Sep 25 2018

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: The Party of No Ideas

Democrats will almost certainly receive more votes than Republicans in the midterm elections. But gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so they would need to win the popular vote by a wide margin to retake the House, and a huge margin to retake the Senate. I don’t know how it will turn out — or what will happen to the perceived legitimacy of the federal government if all three branches are controlled by people the voters rejected. Neither does anyone else.

One thing we do know, however, is that Republicans have decisively lost the battle of ideas. All of their major policy moves, on health care, taxes and tariffs, are playing badly with voters.

In fact, Republican policies are so unpopular that the party’s candidates are barely trying to sell them. Instead, they’re pretending to stand for things they actually don’t — like protecting health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions — or trying to distract voters with culture war and appeals to white racial identity. The G.O.P. has become the party of no ideas.

Michelle Goldberg: Pigs All the Way Down

Over the weekend, the controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination evolved in a way guaranteed to create maximum partisan bitterness and mistrust.

On Sunday, Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published a Rorschach test of a story in The New Yorker, revealing a new accusation against Kavanaugh by a woman named Deborah Ramirez. One of Kavanaugh’s freshman year classmates at Yale, Ramirez, described by a fellow student as a “vulnerable outsider,” recalled a dorm-room drinking game that left her inebriated on the floor. As she lay there, she said, Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his penis in her face. She remembered the other students “laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to ‘kiss it.’”

This seems damning, but the story leaves reason for doubt. Farrow and Mayer write that there are gaps in Ramirez’s memory, and she was initially reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role “with certainty.” No eyewitness confirms that Kavanaugh was at the party, though other students recall hearing about it.

Regardless of what happens to Kavanaugh, however, this scandal has given us an X-ray view of the rotten foundations of elite male power. Despite Donald Trump’s populist posturing, there are few people more obsessed with Ivy League credentials. Kavanaugh’s nomination shows how sick the cultures that produce those credentials — and thus our ruling class — can be.

Catherine Rampell: The GOP’s two top priorities seem to be duds. So what does the party even stand for?

If you’d asked me a few years ago to name the Republican Party’s top policy priorities, I would have said: 1) Obamacare repeal and 2) tax cuts.

Today, the GOP seems to believe that both are duds with voters. Worse than duds: huge liabilities, ripe for Democratic exploitation.

Virtually from the moment the Affordable Care Act passed, Republican lawmakers saw it as an inexhaustible, base-galvanizing gold mine. They voted to repeal the law dozens of times. Multiple right-wing lawsuits, including one led by then-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), tried to cripple it. And then after President Trump entered office, Republicans pushed for repeal. When that failed, the White House undertook administrative sabotage, designed to destabilize individual markets and push poor people off Medicaid.

Meanwhile, views of the law dramatically improved.

Since Trump took office, the public has pretty consistently held more favorable than unfavorable views of Obamacare, according to surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation and poll aggregates by RealClearPolitics. It’s the longest stretch where Obamacare’s approval ratings were above water since passage. In fact, it’s the only such stretch in the RealClearPolitics data.

So what happened?

Eugene Robinson: Republicans are going to ‘plow right through’ a minefield

Republicans are learning that “we’re going to plow right through it” is a dangerous way to approach a minefield.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used that agricultural metaphor Friday to promise conservatives the Senate would confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh no matter what. Now, with a second woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct and more potentially on the way, Republicans can neither advance nor retreat without risking disaster. [..]

Kavanaugh vehemently denies any and all allegations. At this point, however, it is obvious that an actual FBI investigation is required — as opposed to the “he said, she said” hearing the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold with Kavanaugh and Ford on Thursday. Ford has asked for the FBI’s thorough scrutiny. Kavanaugh, for some reason, has not.

Republican senators are embarrassing themselves by calling the accusations “last-minute” or “11th-hour.” We are near the end of the process only because McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) set arbitrary deadlines to speed things up. The seat vacated by Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement has been open only for eight weeks. There is no reason to be in such a rush to fill it — except political calculation.

Margaret Carlson: The Old Republican Men Asking Why Kavanaugh Accusers Didn’t Report Their Assaults Sooner Damn Well Know Why

As Yale alum Deborah Ramirez joins Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in claiming Brett Kavanaugh sexually attacked her and Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti says he has a so-far unnamed third accuser, Republicans have settled on three lines of attack: 85-year old Sen. Orrin Hatch’s idea that the women may be “mixed up;” Sen. Lindsey Graham’s that it’s on Ford (and now Ramirez) to prove that Kavanaugh’s not the good man he says he is and always has been; and then President Donald Trump’s “question” about why Ford didn’t file charges 36 years ago if it was “as bad as she says.”

To Hatch, you are the one mixed up; to Graham, a man doesn’t accost every woman; and to the president, the closed minds on the Judiciary Committee, and men in general asking why Ford didn’t rush to the authorities, many women would like to ask you: What world are you living in?

Have you forgotten the prevailing culture, the secrecy about matters sexual, and how shame in those matters was something for the woman but not the man? Do you believe women now?

If you answer honestly, you will know why Ford and others didn’t say anything then.