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: Why Does America Hate Its Children?

Reasons child care should be a key election issue.

The other day a correspondent asked me a good question: What important issue aren’t we talking about? My answer, after some reflection, is the state of America’s children.

Now, it’s not entirely fair to say that we’re ignoring the plight of our children. Elizabeth Warren, characteristically, has laid out a comprehensive, fully financed plan for universal child care. Bernie Sanders, also characteristically, says he’s for it but hasn’t provided details. And as far as I can tell, all the other Democratic presidential candidates support doing more for children.

But policy toward children has attracted far less media attention than the debate over “Medicare for all,” which won’t become reality anytime soon — let alone the so-called Warren-Sanders “spat.” And my guess is that even well-informed voters have little sense of the grim exceptionalism of America’s child-oriented policies, which are Dickensian compared with those of every other advanced country.

A few numbers may be in order here.

Margaret L. Taylor: The Real Risks of Republicans’ Burying Their Heads in the Sand

G.O.P. senators will harm Congress if they turn away from new testimony and information relevant to impeachment.

Just as President Trump’s impeachment trial is getting underway, the Senate is facing a highly charged, unusual situation. New, directly relevant information and evidence is spilling across the internet and the airwaves. Documents and statements from Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Rudy Giuliani, implicate the president directly in efforts to obtain dirt on and investigations of the Bidens.

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office issued a legal decision finding that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld from obligation the portion of Ukraine assistance funds appropriated to the Department of Defense. [..]

(T)he Senate must take seriously its role in the impeachment trial of President Trump. On Tuesday, when impeachment presentations start, these troves of new information will almost certainly begin to be aired in the chamber as senators listen to the presentation of the House managers. The Senate must demand and obtain all documents and testimony of those with knowledge of the president’s actions who refused to obey lawful subpoenas issued by the House in the impeachment inquiry, like the administration members Mick Mulvaney, Robert Blair and Michael Duffey — as well as documents and other information that is directly relevant to the decision before them.

Timothy Egan: Trump’s Evil Is Contagious

The president has shown us exactly what happens when good people do nothing.

It passed with the usual shrug by the usual handmaidens of hatred when the president of the world’s most powerful democracy threatened to commit war crimes by bombing Iranian cultural sites — the kind of barbarism practiced by the Taliban and rogue-state thugs.

After being told that he would be in violation of Geneva Convention rules that the United States had helped to create back when America was actually great, President Trump relented, but still wondered: Why not?

The warlord-in-chief had already gone out of his way to protect a Navy SEAL member who’d been accused of committing war crimes. And what kind of man did the president upend the military code of justice for? [..]

On any given day, Trump is vindictive, ignorant, narcissistic, a fraud — well, his pathologies are well known. But it’s time to apply the same word to him as the brave Navy man did to the renegade in his unit. Under Trump, the United States is a confederacy of corruption, driven by a thousand points of evil. And that evil is contagious.

We all grew up hearing an ageless warning about public morality: that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

Charles M. Blow: To Beat Trump, Put Ideals Before Ideas

Voters in this presidential election are more concerned with the candidates’ values than their proposals.

Donald Trump has transformed the electorate into two camps, sycophants and dissidents, both passionate, both aimed like missiles at November, both with an intent desire to destroy the competition.

This election won’t turn on the definition of “Medicare for all” or its funding mechanisms. It won’t turn on who offers free college and to whom. This election will turn on whether an individual voter sees Trump as a heroic savior or a destructive agent.

This election is about fundamental questions of American ideals: Should foreign countries be invited or welcomed to meddle in our elections? Should a president be allowed to openly obstruct justice without consequence? Should we separate immigrant children from their parents and lock them in cages? Should we have a president who has bragged about assaulting women, paid off women who claim to have been sexually involved with him and been accused by multiple women of being sexually inappropriate with them? Should America have a racist in the White House?

It is issues like these, I believe, that will most animate voters in the election. America is being forced to look itself in the mirror and figure out who it is.

And it seems to me that many of the Democratic candidates are missing that base-level moral conflict, aiming over it or wiggling around it.

Amanda Marcotte: Why the Senate’s impeachment trial has way too much in common with the Jim Crow past

Acquitting obviously guilty criminals is a shameful American tradition — but beware the righteous blowback

Donald Trump is scared. The Senate trial following his impeachment for a blackmail and campaign cheating scheme starts next week, and it’s driving him to distraction. He was supposed to host a lame event at the White House on Thursday to bolster fake concerns that white evangelicals are being oppressed, but blew off pandering to his strongest supporters for an hour, likely because he couldn’t pry himself away from news coverage of the impeachment trial’s kickoff. After ending the event swiftly, Trump then tweeted angrily, “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!”

(As with most things the president says, this was untrue — he was impeached weeks ago, in December.)

Trump’s cold sweats are significant, because everyone who has been following this case knows that the Senate will acquit him. Not because he’s innocent — no one who has actually consulted the evidence is foolish enough to believe that — but because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who control the Senate decided long ago that they would cover up for their shamelessly corrupt president no matter what he does. With such an assured outcome, Trump’s fears seem overblown and silly, even for someone crippled by sociopathic narcissism and its accompanying paranoia.

But it’s also true that high-profile travesties of justice, such as the one Senate Republicans are currently preparing to commit, can often provoke major political backlash. Getting a jury to acquit the obviously guilty can, as history shows, cause a public that’s already outraged about the crime to get even more furious. That, I suspect, is what Trump is sweating.