Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Jill Filipovic: Amy Coney Barrett’s day one hearing was rank hypocrisy from start to finish

Republicans can’t pass a pandemic relief bill that Americans desperate need, but they can jam through a rightwing judge just days before the election

The first day of the Senate hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court was a disgrace and a sexist spectacle.

First was the simple fact that the hearings are being held at all. A pandemic continues to ravage the United States, having killed more than 210,000 people and devastating the American economy. Millions of Americans are out of work, struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage, worried about how they’re going to afford groceries. Republicans in the Senate can’t get it together to pass a pandemic relief bill that Americans desperately need, but they can demand that the judiciary committee convene, in person, to jam through a hardline right-wing judge just days before the presidential election concludes – and is presumably contested by a president who has already refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power. [..]

Republicans have said over and over that Barrett’s personal life, including her faith, should be off-limits. And yet they repeatedly raised her personal life, including her faith, as an asset. They seem to want to use what they claim is Barrett’s private life as both a sword and a shield: an argument in her favor, but one that cannot be refuted on its own terms or even questioned, because to do so would be to criticize her private convictions and impose a “religious test”.

It was rank hypocrisy from start to finish. It was also a deep show of disrespect to American women, who would like to be professionally evaluated on our qualifications – not our family size.

Amanda Marcotte: Why are Republicans obsessed with Amy Coney Barrett’s kids? To troll feminists

Anti-choicers argue women don’t “need” birth control or abortion — Barrett’s brood is meant as an illustration

Hey, folks, did you know that Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, has a lot of kids? [..]

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, proving he’s not “pro-life” by going mask-free despite his COVID-19 diagnosis, raved about how Barrett was “the oldest of seven children” before having seven kids of her own, offering the opinion that maternal “responsibilities have undoubtedly helped you throughout life.”

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa falsely declared that Democrats are “attacking you as a mom and a woman of faith.” (This is repeatedly claimed by Republicans, but I remain unaware of any Democrat who has attacked Barrett on either count.)

“I bet there’s many young women, like my own two daughters, who marvel at the balance that you’ve achieved between your personal and professional life,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. That distinguished gentleman — now facing an unexpectedly tight re-election battle against Democrat MJ Hegar — failed to note that Barrett has a net worth of $2.6 million, a $200,000 salary as a professor at Notre Dame and a husband who is a partner at a prestigious law firm. So the answer would seem to be that Barrett’s family can afford to hire lots of child care while she pursues her professional goals.

And so on and so forth. Republicans were way more interested in Barrett’s accomplishments as a producer and adopter of children than in her legal résumé. Part of that is because Republicans would rather talk about anything other than Barrett’s legal record, since they don’t want the public to know about her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, her desire to end legal abortion and strip women of contraception access or her association with anti-LGBTQ groups.

Brice Covert: School Is (Whisper It) a Form of Child Care

And child care, at its best, fosters children’s development. So how did we come to treat them so differently?

This summer, as debate raged among lawmakers, school districts and parents about whether it was safe to send kids back to school, something strange happened in Howard County, Md.

The Howard County school system decided to remain remote for at least the first semester. But to help parents deal with the lack of in-person care for their children, the county offered elementary school students a spot in parks and recreation programs, which provide “support for virtual learning assignments” along with “work sessions” and “crafts, physical activities, and games” — activities not totally unlike, say, school.

Little mention was made of the adults who will supervise the children during this child care. There was no hand-wringing about classroom configurations or safety guidelines. The catch? Unlike regular public school, which is guaranteed and free, the spots were limited — and cost $219 each week for a full day. [..]

What is going on? Why would we endlessly debate the safety of putting children in classrooms, but put them in day care settings without anyone batting an eye — and certainly with no national debate?

In reality, there is no magical distinction that leaves children and adults immune to the coronavirus in a child care setting but not in a school. And yet throughout the pandemic we’ve operated as if there is.

Jamelle Bouie: Oh, Now You Believe in Norms

The G.O.P. blocked Obama and quick-pitched Amy Coney Barrett. Democrats must fight fire with fire.

Neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris has made a clear statement in favor of expanding the Supreme Court beyond its current size. But that hasn’t stopped conservatives and Republicans from denouncing — perhaps with a hint of fear — their as-yet unarticulated plan to do so.

Amazingly, this particular argument against expanding the Supreme Court hinges on preserving the norms of American democracy. Having torched those norms in pursuit of a conservative judiciary, Republicans want their opponents to play by the old rules, as if the game is theirs alone to shape. [..]

Of course, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Once you reject the constraints imposed by norms in favor of an instrumentalism bound only by the text of the Constitution — an “originalist” politics, perhaps — you cannot then turn to those norms to protest an escalatory response or reprisal. Or rather you can, but no one has to take you seriously when you do.

The same Constitution that says Republicans can confirm Barrett weeks before the election, that allows them to retroactively impose a new and novel partisan requirement (same-party control of the Senate) on judicial confirmations, also says Congress can add as many seats to the Supreme Court as it wishes. It says Congress can strip the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to hear certain kinds of cases. It says the judiciary is as subject to “checks and balances” as any other institution in American government and that the people through their elected officials have the right to discipline a court that works against their will.

Jennifer Finney Poyland: It’s Not Easy Being an Optimist in Maine

We have late-spring storms and high-stakes Senate races. But we also have lobster and Patty Griffin.

The optimist, according to an old joke, believes that this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears that the optimist is right.

Mainers are accustomed to second-guessing good news. Which is what you’d do, too, if you’d experienced enough late-season ice storms. This year, over 200,000 of us lost power in the wake of a furious blizzard. In April.

Maybe this is what gives so many Mainers a dark turn of mind. There’s a story about the time Mark Twain gave a reading at a bookstore near Bangor, to a crowd that mostly sat there in stony silence. Afterward, Twain heard a couple talking. The wife said, “I think he might have been the funniest person I’ve heard in my life.”

The husband replied, “I’ll tell ya, he was so funny, it was all I could to do keep from laughing.”

Maine voters aren’t laughing this fall. Everything feels too high-stakes. Our Senate race — Senator Susan Collins versus the Maine House speaker, Sara Gideon — might well decide whether the Democrats take back that chamber.