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Oct 20 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: Why Biden Will Need to Spend Big

The economic case for deficit spending is overwhelming.

What should Joe Biden’s economic policy be if he wins (and Democrats take the Senate, so that he can actually pass legislation)? I’m pretty sure I know what his economists think he should do, but I’m not equally sure that everyone on his political team fully gets it, and I’m worried that the news media will experience sticker shock — that is, they may not be ready for the price tag on what he should and probably will propose.

So here’s what everyone should understand: Given the current and likely future state of the U.S. economy, it’s time to (a) spend a lot of money on the future and (b) not worry about where the money is coming from. For now, and for at least the next few years, large-scale deficit spending isn’t just OK, it’s the only responsible thing to do.

Today’s column will be about the economics; I’ll talk about the politics another day. [..]

It’s a given that Republicans, who turned silent on deficits under Trump, will suddenly declare debt an existential threat with a Democrat in the White House. The real questions are whether centrists and the news media will buy into deficit hysteria, the way they did in the Obama years, and whether members of the Biden team will lose their nerve.

More on those risks in a future column.

Heather Digby Parton: Don’t let Trump and his minions get away with this — or it will happen all over again

Historian Jill Lepore thinks a post-Trump “truth commission” isn’t needed because America’s doing A-OK. Hello?

After Richard Nixon resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Congress set out to create numerous reforms designed to rein in future presidents. After all, Nixon had set forth a view of the presidency that was downright un-American: “If the president does it it’s not illegal,” essentially saying that no law can apply to the executive branch. [..]

There were committee investigations, such as the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House which delved deeply into the intelligence community’s abuses, resulting in the permanent select committees on intelligence in each chamber. Later reforms required the president to inform congressional leaders of both parties prior to major covert actions, and for leaders of the CIA to regularly brief the committees.

Unfortunately, those reforms were of limited utility. The Iran-Contra scandal and the pardons that followed mocked the idea of intelligence oversight. The CIA black sites and torture program program during the George W. Bush administration pretty much destroyed the illusion that Congress had any control over the intelligence services. Throughout this period, the War Powers Act, which was enacted over Nixon’s veto in the first place, has been a joke. As for campaign finance and ethics reforms, well, those were nice ideas. The Supreme Court took care of the first with the Citizens United ruling, and the second turns out to be almost entirely dependent on a sense of shame — a thing that turns out to be easily discarded.

And yet, for all of that, no one has come close to abusing the power of the presidency as Donald Trump has done. He didn’t do it on his own. Yes, his personal inclination has been to treat the government as his private fiefdom, demanding loyalty oaths, conducting purges and using the office for his personal profit. But people such as Attorney General Bill Barr and others in right-wing legal circles who were politically baptized by Nixon’s downfall have used Trump’s authoritarian instincts to institute the “imperial presidency” that Nixon once espoused.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump is falling way behind with female voters. His response? “Lock her up!”

Misogyny helped Trump in 2016, and he wants to repeat by attacking Gretchen Whitmer — but so far it’s not working

Donald Trump is getting hammered, badly, by female voters in the national polls. In the latest NPR/PBS poll, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is leading Trump among women by 25 points. The Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a similar spread, with Biden beating Trump by 23 points with women. Even the Fox News polling data puts Biden ahead of Trump by 19 points among female voters. Trump is doing much better with male voters, but considering that women tend to vote at higher rates than men, Trump simply can’t count on male support to push him to another Electoral College victory.

Facing a very high chance that female voters will send Trump packing in November — FiveThirtyEight’s odds of a Biden victory, as of Monday morning are at 88% — how did the pussy-grabbing president react? By laughingly encouraging a crowd in Michigan, at another of his largely mask-free rallies, to chant, “Lock her up!”

“Lock her up? Lock them all up!” Trump responded in glee. [..]

But what may have changed is that there’s a strong feminist response to this misogyny this time around. In 2016, American women who didn’t like this kind of sexism were cowed by sneering accusations of being “vagina voters,” sometimes even from the left. There was a general fear of being seen as hysterical for raising the alarm about sexism, especially when it seemed almost certain that Clinton would win the election.

Clinton’s defeat came as an emotional shock to the system, not just for many American women, but also for men who feel repulsed by the levels of sexism that clearly still exist in our society.

Michelle Goldberg: Is the Trump Campaign Colluding With Russia Again?

Giuliani’s dirty tricks are the scandal, not Hunter Biden’s hard drive.

The Treasury Department last month imposed sanctions on four people linked to Russia for attempting to influence the presidential election, including a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andriy Derkach, who has worked with Donald Trump’s consigliere Rudy Giuliani to smear Joe Biden. According to the Treasury, Derkach has been “an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian intelligence services.” [..]

Giuliani probably can’t sabotage Biden the way WikiLeaks sabotaged Clinton. The Clinton leak was damaging because many voters already believed there was something sinister about her hidden emails. Burisma never stuck to Biden in the same way, so there’s less payoff in forcing it back into the news.

But Giuliani’s tactics aren’t any less foul for being ineffective. It’s hardly surprising that the president’s bottom-feeding lawyer has shown himself open to working with Russian intelligence. It’s striking, though, that no one expects better.

Eugene Robinson: Trump isn’t even trying to slow the virus’s spread

What sort of president tries to make a desperate national situation worse?

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is rapidly climbing toward a third peak, and President Trump is doing more to boost the infection rate than reduce it.

It’s hard to believe, but Trump doesn’t even seem to be trying to slow the spread of the deadly virus that has killed nearly 220,000 Americans, ravaged the economy and seriously damaged his chances of winning a second term. With the election just two weeks away and polls heavily favoring Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump has been spending his days frantically jetting around the country to campaign rallies that look like potential superspreader events — big, tightly packed, noisy gatherings where most people are not wearing masks. [..]

Two of Trump’s personality traits, his impatience and his narcissism, stand between the nation and success against covid-19. He is obviously sick of dealing with the pandemic, which hurts him politically. And since he beat the disease — with the help of experimental treatments not available to the rest of us — he figures everybody else should be able to beat it, too.

With cold weather coming and most Americans having to spend more time indoors, this third wave of covid-19 could be truly horrific. Trump’s tragic legacy will be that he met a crisis — and instead of making it better, he made it worse.