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: Attack of the Fanatical Centrists

Why is American politics so dysfunctional? Whatever the deeper roots of our distress, the proximate cause is ideological extremism: Powerful factions are committed to false views of the world, regardless of the evidence.

Notice that I said factions, plural. There’s no question that the most disruptive, dangerous extremists are on the right. But there’s another faction whose obsessions and refusal to face reality have also done a great deal of harm.

But I’m not talking about the left. Radical leftists are virtually nonexistent in American politics; can you think of any prominent figure who wants us to move to the left of, say, Denmark? No, I’m talking about fanatical centrists.

Over the past few days we’ve been treated to the ludicrous yet potentially destructive spectacle of Howard Schultz, the Starbucks billionaire, insisting that he’s the president we need despite his demonstrable policy ignorance. Schultz obviously thinks he knows a lot of things that just aren’t so. Yet his delusions of knowledge aren’t that special. For the most part, they follow conventional centrist doctrine.

Eugene Robinson: The scariest thing about Trump’s tweets

Of all the crackpots on social media, is any more untethered to reality than the president of the United States?

Seriously, there are tinfoil-hatted lunatics yelling on street corners who make more sense than President Trump’s increasingly loopy Twitter feed. Think about it: Most mornings, and some evenings as well, the most powerful man in the world rants and raves like someone you’d urgently tell the gate agent about if you were waiting to board the same airplane. This is not normal. This is alarming.

I know, there is a school of thought that says Trump’s tweets are nothing more than weapons of mass distraction and should be ignored. But if you want to know the administration’s policy on just about anything, what other reliable source is there? Surely not press secretary Sarah Sanders and the other White House mouthpieces, whose main job is to invent “evidence” to back up Trump’s misstatements, distortions and pants-on-fire lies. [..]

are is the Trump tweet that does not include at least one lie, exaggeration or distortion. I’ll leave it to my Fact Checker colleagues at The Post to keep track of them all. But think about it: We have a chief executive who gushes toxic falsehoods like Drunk Uncle at closing time.

How can the nation respect the presidency when it can’t believe a word the president says?

I don’t know, either.

Jamelle Bouie: Howard Schultz Doesn’t Understand American History

Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, cannot win the presidency as an independent candidate. But is there someone who could? Is there any chance a third-party candidate could contest the presidency and win?

The short answer is no. As long as the United States has an Electoral College and winner-take-all process for presidential elections, third-party and independent candidates will have a hard time finding any traction.

There have been times in American history, though, when third-party candidates have upended the political landscape, winning entire regions of the country, although never the presidency. But unlike Schultz, those candidates weren’t self-proclaimed “independents” railing against “divisiveness” from the center; they were polarizers who built support by cultivating personal followings and sharpening ideological, cultural and geographic divides.

Nancy Northrup: How the Supreme Court’s Inaction Could Decide the Future of Abortion

Unless the Supreme Court takes action by Monday, Louisiana may be down to one or two abortion-care doctors for nearly a million women of reproductive age across the state.

My organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights, has filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court, asking it to put on hold a medically unnecessary law in Louisiana that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away.

The law is identical to a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down less than three years ago, ruling that it had no medical benefits and would harm women by reducing their access to abortion.

That could happen in Louisiana if the justices fail to block the state’s unconstitutional law from going into effect on Monday. If the court doesn’t follow decades of its own precedents on the constitutional right to abortion, the procedure will be available only in theory for women in Louisiana.

Catherine Rampell: Elizabeth Warren wasn’t the first candidate to propose a wealth tax. Trump was.

A brash political candidate forms a presidential exploratory committee. Almost immediately, the candidate announces a controversial policy: a wealth tax on the ultrarich.

Just 1½ pages long, the proposal is met with some cheers but lots of jeers — about its constitutionality, feasibility, fairness. Right-wing pundits bemoan the appeal to class warfare.

That candidate?

Donald Trump, in 1999, pursuing the Reform Party nomination.

Everything old is new again. Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), now exploring a presidential run, proposed her own wealth tax. Warren’s proposal is constructed differently than Trump’s was — his was a one-time levy, hers is annual — but the reception has been similar.

The case for such a tax has only grown stronger over time, even if the way Warren goes about it could stand to be improved.