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Nov 02 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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Charles M. Blow: Our Most Dangerous Weeks Are Ahead

We are making preparations for the election to descend into bedlam.

The weeks following the election could very well be the most dangerous weeks in this country since the Civil War.

If Donald Trump should lose, he may well not concede. And he will still be president, with all the power that bestows. His supporters will likely be seething, thinking that the election has been stolen. These are seeds he has been sowing for months.

Trump will have command of the military, the Justice Department and part of the intelligence apparatus.

He already knows that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is investigating his dodgy finances. Trump knows he could face charges as soon as he leaves office — and he won’t be federally pardoned.

He has tasted power and can’t imagine a world in which it was withdrawn from him. A loss would be a supremely embarrassing rebuke, the first sitting president not to win re-election in 28 years.

The pandemic will still be raging, but Trump, who has consistently downplayed it and tragically mismanaged it, will feel absolutely no obligation to contain it.

He will be wounded, afraid and dangerous.

People are already preparing for hostility and violence.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump is encouraging anti-democratic violence — but don’t let that stop you

Trump’s trying to intimidate liberals with violence. The good news: Most of his fans are too cowardly to act on it

After a group of Donald Trump’s supporters menaced a Joe Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway, it was completely predictable that Trump would openly encourage such behavior. He has never hidden his contempt for democracy and, in recent weeks, been open about his belief that the election process is an illegitimate challenge to his right to rule without accountability. Nor has he been shy about endorsing violence against political opponents, or even ordering such violence, as when he sent federal law enforcement to tear-gas peaceful protesters he was worried might ruin a photo op. [..]

People are worried, with good reason, that this situation will get worse and that we’ll see more violence, or threats of violence, this week and possibly thereafter, especially if Trump is losing and he turns to armed right-wing goons in an effort to prevent both voting and vote-counting. Salon’s Chauncey DeVega published an interview with counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen on Monday, in which Kilcullen warned that there are right wing groups that are “motivated and mobilized and willing to engage in violence.”

It’s important to understand, however, that while these right-wing militants may be dangerous, their numbers are very small and they present very little risk to progressives who wish to vote, go to campaign events, or attend protests.

Trump is amplifying the threat of violence in order to scare people out of taking action to stop him. But there’s no need to be afraid. Trump and his supporters make a lot of noise, but very few of them are willing to risk prison, serious injury or death to defend their beloved reality-TV fascist.

Heather Digby Parton: Trump may plan to declare victory on Tuesday — and hold rallies after Election Day

Trump’s claim that vote-counting should stop on election night is absurd. But the real question is: Will it work?

If you are a Democrat watching the polls this weekend and seeing millions of voters standing in line to vote in unprecedented numbers, you should start to feel pretty good about this election. Joe Biden has somewhere around an 8- to 10-point lead nationally and is either within striking distance or ahead in the battleground states, along with a few others that nobody thought would be on the board. If this were a normal election, I think Democrats would be feeling optimistic right now.

But they’re not, and there’s good reason for it. And that reason is not just the semi-joking “2016 PTSD” which everyone says was so damaging that the nervous Nellies can’t allow themselves to look at data rationally. I’m sure there’s a bit of that. I too am having flashbacks of that awful night when I saw Florida called for Trump and then sat there while one battleground state after another went his way. It was a nightmare I won’t soon forget.

But the real reason Democrats are having massive anxiety attacks is that Trump has made clear that he has no intention of accepting the election results if they don’t go his way. He and his henchmen plan to follow through with their plan to contest absentee mail-in ballots that received after Election Day — and possibly, if Trump is to be believed, contest the idea that ballots can even be counted after Election Day. [..]

According to Politico, Trump is planning to hold rallies in swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina “even as election officials continue to count ballots,” in order to let the president “fire off about the election to crowds.” I wonder what the purpose of that might be?

None of this may come to pass, or at least not in a way that changes the outcome of the election. A lot of what Team Trump is doing can be seen as hype to get their voters out and work the refs, meaning the media, state officials and the federal judiciary. Whether Trump is able to seriously contest the election results will remain unclear until we see how the votes come in, but there’s every indication that when he told some of his extremist fans to “stand by,” they heard him loud and clear.

Let’s hope that the results are decisive and that Trump is persuaded to behave like a mature, responsible leader for once. It would be a welcome irony if the night he loses the election is the night he finally does become a president.

Jennifer Senior: Hillary Clinton Was Right to Warn Us

She grasped the danger posed by the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” Russian interference and Trump.

For just over two years, I was a daily book critic for this newspaper, and one of my final reviews was of Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” published in September 2017.

I liked it far more than I thought I would — actually, I just plain liked it — but that’s not what I want to discuss as these four grim years come to a close, with Hillary’s more dignified, more intelligent, more presidential presence rattling spectrally about. What I want to discuss is the chapter about Donald Trump and Russia. [..]

Something drove me back to that chapter recently — maybe because we have to vote this horrid man out, when history will surely show that the Senate should have removed him when it had the chance. Rereading it now, what leaps out isn’t how long that chapter was. It’s how right it was. If anything, Hillary’s compendium of Trump’s ties to Russia was svelte. What we know about them today is that chapter, cubed.

This is the thing, if you go back and review Hillary’s speeches and tweets and debate performances from 2016: She was right about an awful lot. Not about everything. She had her share of lulus, like predicting that the election of Trump would set off a global financial panic and plunge the economy into a recession. (Oops. Took a pandemic to do that.)

Robert Reich: Trump’s failed coronavirus response

Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world

In February he knew COVID-19 was dangerous, but he intentionally downplayed it.

In March he didn’t want to be held responsible for it.

He told governors they were responsible for getting ventilators and protective equipment – setting off bidding wars, state against state, city against city.

He peddled an unproven remedy, hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA warned against.

There was no national response. No national standards. Governors and mayors haphazardly closed businesses and schools.

In April he suggested more quack remedies.

He pushed governors to reopen states earlier than the Centers for Disease Control thought wise.The CDC warned him such reopenings could mean a “significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”

In May he continued to minimize the threat.

He blamed the increasing number of cases on excessive testing.

In June he suggested slowing the testing down.

In July he muzzled CDC experts. The Trump administration directed hospitals to stop reporting key coronavirus data to the nonpartisan CDC, and instead report it to HHS, which falls under the supervision of the administration. [..]

In August he peddled hydroxychloroquine again, even after the FDA revoked its emergency authorization in June.

He blamed the “deep state” for making it difficult to test vaccines.

He suggested the FDA was trying to deliberately delay treatments until after Election Day.

In September he claimed a vaccine could be available before the election.

He continued holding campaign rallies where many went without masks.

He blamed the mounting number of COVID deaths on “blue states.”  [..]

In October the White House itself became a hotspot for the disease.

Trump himself tested positive for coronavirus and was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center for emergency treatment.

When he announced he’d be discharged, he told the American people: “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” He then tweeted COVID is “far less lethal” than the flu. Both Facebook and Twitter flagged this as misinformation. [..]

Now 225,000 Americans are dead.

America has suffered the worst rate of coronavirus deaths among all advanced countries – a death toll equal to 9/11 every three days. And, as a recent Cornell study confirmed, Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world.

This is not leadership. It is pure, malicious incompetence and it’s killing Americans.

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