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Jul 14 2020

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: America Drank Away Its Children’s Future

As the school year looms, the pandemic is still raging.

A brief history of the past four months in America:

Experts: Don’t rush to reopen, this isn’t over.

Donald Trump: LIBERATE!

Covid-19: Wheee!

Trump officials: Here’s our opposition research on Anthony Fauci.

And we’re now faced with an agonizing choice: Do we reopen schools, creating risks of a further viral explosion, or do we keep children home, with severe negative effects on their learning?

None of this had to happen. Other countries stuck with their lockdowns long enough to reduce infections to rates much lower than those prevailing here; Covid-19 death rates per capita in the European Union are only a 10th those in the United States — and falling — while ours are rising fast. As a result, they’re in a position to reopen schools fairly safely.

And the experience of the Northeast, the first major epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, shows that we could have achieved something similar here. Death rates are way down, although still higher than in Europe; on Saturday, for the first time since March, New York City reported zero Covid-19 deaths.

Would a longer lockdown have been economically sustainable? Yes.

Michelle Goldberg: In Some Countries, Normal Life Is Back. Not Here.

Trump’s incompetence has wrecked us. Where are the calls for him to resign?

If you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand, the coronavirus nightmare has been mostly over since June. After more than two weeks with no new cases, the government lifted almost all restrictions that month. The borders are still shut, but inside the country, normal life returned.

It’s coming back elsewhere too. Taiwan, where most days this month no new cases have been reported, just held the Taipei Film Festival, and a recent baseball game drew 10,000 spectators. Italy was once the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak and remains in a state of emergency, but with just a few hundred new cases a day in the whole country, bars are open and tourists have started returning, though of course Americans remain banned. According to The New York Times’s figures, there were 321 new cases in all of Canada last Friday.

And America? We had 68,241. As of last week, the worst per capita outbreak on the planet was in Arizona, followed by Florida. The world is closed to us; American passports were once coveted, but now only a few dozen nations will let us in. Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown, told me he doesn’t expect American life to feel truly normal before summer 2022. Two years of our lives, stolen by Donald Trump. [..]

Yet somehow there’s no drumbeat of calls for the president’s resignation. People seem to feel too helpless. Protesters can make demands of governors and mayors, especially Democratic ones, because at the local level small-d democratic accountability still exists. Nationally such responsiveness is gone; no one expects the president to do his job, or to be held to account when he doesn’t. That’s how you know the country was broken before coronavirus ever arrived.
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This suffering, your suffering, wasn’t inevitable. The coronavirus is a natural disaster. The Republican Party’s death-cult fealty to Trump is wholly man-made.

Eugene Robinson: For Dan Snyder, apparently ‘never’ means ‘immediately’ if enough money is at stake

Apparently “never” means “immediately” if enough money is at stake: The racist name and logo of the Washington National Football League franchise are finally being ditched. Hail to the Fill-In-The-Blanks! And shame on team owner Daniel Snyder for stubbornly holding out so long.

The name “Redskins” was always racist. It is understandable — though not, by any means, excusable — that many fans of the team did not recognize this obvious fact decades ago. I include myself in the indictment. As a society, we were inured to seeing cartoonish and insulting Native American imagery exploited by sports teams at every level. I loved going to games at old, raucous RFK Stadium and cheering the team to victory, especially against the hated Dallas Cowboys. [..]

Snyder took an adamant and unwavering position, declaring in 2013: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Contrast that with the statement the team issued Monday morning: “On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name. That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward. Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”

What made Snyder launch that effort on July 3? Perhaps the fact that one day earlier the team’s most visible corporate sponsor, FedEx — which holds the naming rights for the team’s home stadium, FedEx Field — requested that the team’s name be changed. How could Snyder’s purported “thorough review” produce a result so quickly? Perhaps the “process” gained speed because FedEx’s demand was echoed by other major sponsors, including PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America.

The fact that a billionaire has been forced to change the name of a business employing a bunch of millionaires is hardly the most important consequence of the social justice movement that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. But it is far from trivial.

Catherine Rampell: Child-care centers have already been reopening. The results are troubling.

As Americans’ attention focuses on schools and the risks and potential rewards of reopening, a test case of sorts is playing out. With troubling results.

Thousands of child-care facilities nationwide have already reopened, or tried to — and their experiences risk destroying the country’s already weak infrastructure for child care. The model is bad for everyone — parents, educators, caregivers, doctors, Republicans, Democrats — who wants children to return to campuses as quickly and safely as possible.

Most debates over “reopening” revolve around K-12 schools, and what measures must be in place to bring back students safely. Administrators and teachers have expressed frustration about inconsistent guidance on what kinds of adaptations are needed.

Rather than helping schools reconcile conflicting advice, the Trump administration has responded with threats of funding cuts.

This is exactly the wrong response. Schools need more money, not less. The additional space, supplies, tests and other measures required to reopen will be expensive.

We know this because a significant share of the child-care facilities that have reopened are struggling.

Karen Tumulty: Trump and his minions are trying to destroy Fauci. No wonder the U.S. is doing so poorly.

That the Trump White House is treating the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert like some kind of political opponent tells you a lot about why the United States is doing worse than so many other countries in the battle to contain the novel coronavirus.

It was bad enough that Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been “sidelined,” according to a report over the weekend by The Post. What that means is that President Trump, who has refused to be guided by the evolving scientific knowledge in dealing with this new pathogen, no longer even wants to hear what it is.

But now, Trump and his minions are going even further. They are also trying to destroy Fauci’s reputation.

There is no doubt some envy here. A poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena College last month found that 67 percent of Americans trust Fauci as a source of accurate information about the virus. Only 26 percent feel that way about a president who keeps patting himself on the back for a job well done as the U.S. death toll surpasses 132,000 and the number of new cases hits record levels.

So White House aides have begun circulating talking points to undermine Fauci, documenting how many times he has said things that have turned out to be wrong. Some of the quotes come from back in January, before covid-19’s impact in the United States had even begun to be felt. And as my colleague Aaron Blake noted, many of the Fauci statements being circulated by the White House are incomplete and taken out of context.

Those who put together this dossier do not see any irony in the fact that, in most of these instances, Fauci’s error was in playing down the danger — which is something that Trump does practically on the hour.

What’s different is that Fauci, unlike Trump, is willing to recognize and admit his missteps. He has the experience to know how it works when you are trying to figure out how to deal with a new public health threat.

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