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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Jamelle Bouie: Is Biden Really the Most ‘Electable’ Democrat?

With a field this large, let’s not jump to conclusions.

Joe Biden opened his presidential campaign with a sharp, if familiar, message. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” he said in his announcement video. “But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.” On the stump, Biden has highlighted his relationships with individual Republican lawmakers and he tries to distinguish the larger party from its leader, to appeal to Republican voters who might be alienated by the president. “This,” Biden says referring to Trump, “is not the Republican Party.”

Hillary Clinton took a similar tack in 2016 when she reached out to moderate Republicans and took on Trump as an unfit demagogue who amplified and sympathized with white supremacists. She lost. But Biden thinks he can do something similar and run against four actual years of the president’s behavior, versus the hypotheticals envisioned by Clinton. Democratic primary voters seem to agree. After a little less than two weeks in the race, he is the front-runner for the nomination, with many Democrats convinced of his ability to beat Trump.

Before they commit to him, however, Democrats should not take Biden’s presumed electability for granted. Yes, there is evidence he is well positioned to challenge Trump, but it’s also possible that Biden represents a doomed attempt to fight the last war, with similar results.

James Reston Jr.: Trump’s Other Impeachable Offense

As Nixon learned, Congress will not abide a president who defies its subpoenas.

On July 30, 1974, nine days before President Richard Nixon resigned, the House Judiciary Committee added a third article to its impeachment charges against the president. The first two had dealt with obstruction of justice and abuse of power; Article III charged that Nixon had failed to comply with eight congressional subpoenas related to the Watergate investigation.

Now, with President Trump and William Barr, his attorney general, refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations, the Democrats in the House should take yet another lesson from Watergate. They are reportedly already preparing impeachment articles on obstruction of justice; they should add failure to comply with Congress to the list. [..]

Yet Mr. Trump’s defiance can, in and of itself, form the basis for an additional impeachment article — a fact that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, recognized on Thursday. “Ignoring subpoenas of Congress, not honoring subpoenas of Congress — that was Article III of the Nixon impeachment,” she said.

President Trump’s assertion that there is nothing left to learn from congressional hearings — which, unlike the Mueller investigation, would be televised — may be correct. But that is beside the point; it is up to Congress, not him, to decide.

Charles M. Blow: Defending the Free Press

Expression, and the right to publish it, is a human right. And yet, President Trump continues to disregard this.

The media is not the enemy of the people. The enemy of the people is ignorance — obliviousness to truth, ignoring it or having incredulity about it.

There is no way to have a functioning democracy without a thriving press.

One of the great missions of the press is to hold power accountable by revealing what those in power would rather hide. Corruption depends on concealment. Accountability hinges on disclosure.

The founders of this country knew that. I also think Donald Trump knows that and that he is purposely attempting to prune that function.

A free and fearless press is the greatest ally to a free and prosperous people. And, the kind of dogged, unrelenting pressure that reporting requires demands a professional press. People who can make a living and feed a family as they labor away ferreting out the truth. And, I speak here liberally about the profession, from cable news to YouTube, from a big city daily to a blog.

No one loves a catchphrase more than Trump. He loves labeling. He loves to yoke his enemies with silly, derisive monikers, to reduce perceived weakness to bumper sticker legibility.

This would be a trifle, a quirk, coming from others. But Trump is president.

The presidential bully pulpit is as powerful, or possibly more powerful, than any media outlet, in part because it is often propagated by those same outlets.

As such, his repeated attacks on the press — including on individual journalists — amounts to a maximum breach of protocols, and I would say constitutional responsibility, as it represents one of the many measurable casualties of this presidency.

Robert Watson: Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change

Nature is being eroded at rates unprecedented in human history but we still have time to stave off mass extinctions

A colleague recently described how fish would swim into her clothing when she was a child bathing in the ocean off the coast of Vietnam, but today the fish are gone and her children find the story far-fetched.

Another recalled his experiences just last year in Cape Town – one of the world’s most attractive tourism and leisure destinations – when more than 2 million people faced the nightmare prospect of all taps, in every home and business, running dry.

These instances, on opposite sides of the world, are two faces of the same problem; the relentless pressure we are putting on biodiversity and the contributions that nature makes to our wellbeing, and the way we humans are changing the Earth’s climate.

Robert Reich: Getting a measles vaccination isn’t a personal choice – it’s a social responsibility

The core issue is the common good. Measles travels through the air – and if enough people opt out of vaccinations, they put everyone at a higher risk

I remember having measles as a kid. Believe me, it was no fun. Also, measles could cause birth defects if a pregnant women got infected. If you were elderly, measles could be fatal.

Eventually, after vaccinations became nearly universal in America, measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000.

But now the measles are back – already surpassing 700 cases this year, in 22 states. So far, 66 people have been hospitalized, a third of them with pneumonia.

What happened? We stopped vaccinating everyone. More than 500 of the new cases are in people who had not been vaccinated. [..]

The core issue here is the common good. If enough people are vaccinated, everyone benefits. But if enough people decide to opt out of vaccinations, for whatever reason, they put everyone at a higher risk of contracting disease.

So what’s the incentive to get yourself and your child vaccinated when you might prefer to rely on everyone else vaccinating themselves and their kids instead?