Nov 10 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.

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Paul Krugman: What’s Not the Matter With Georgia?

A Democratic win offers hope — but also a warning.

Right now, we all have Georgia on our minds. It’s probably going to end up called for Joe Biden; his lead is razor-thin, but most observers expect it to survive a recount. And the January runoff races in Georgia offer Democrats their last chance to take the Senate.

Beyond the immediate electoral implications, however, the fact that Democrats are now competitive in Georgia but not in Ohio, which appears to have become Trumpier than Texas, tells you a lot about where America is heading. In some ways these changes in the electoral map offer reason for hope; but they also suggest looming problems for U.S. democracy. [..]

Why, after all, did Biden win Georgia even as he was losing North Carolina, another relatively well-educated state with growing knowledge industries? The answer, in two words: Stacey Abrams.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s coup is morphing into a grift — but Mitch McConnell sees it as a power grab

Trump can’t steal the election now — but McConnell is seizing the chance to undermine Biden before he takes office 

Donald Trump’s attempted coup started as a clown show. Over the weekend as Joe Biden was declared the winner by the mainstream media, and then by the entire world, it morphed into an outright grift. In a hilariously weird press conference outside a Philadelphia landscaping company on Saturday, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump flunkies — including a registered sex offender — pushed the idea that they could somehow invalidate Biden’s robust electoral victory. On Twitter, Trump continued to hype the utterly false notion that there’s some pathway to invalidating opened and counted ballots in various states he has clearly lost, and somehow reverse the results of this election in the courts.  [..]

Trump’s attempted coup, to be clear, has zero chance of working. His election lawsuits are pathetic and keep getting thrown out, including by Republican judges. All the whining about “illegal” voters — which is mostly code for voters whose skin color or political leanings are not to Trump’s taste — amounts to nothing, since the votes he’s complaining about are already opened and counted. At this point, the main purpose of all the false promises that the courts will invalidate the election appears to be money — the fine print on the solicitations for Trump’s “legal defense fund” makes clear that the money will mostly be used to pay down Trump’s campaign debts. Since Election Day, more than 130 such emails begging for cash have gone out to gullible marks — sorry, I mean Republican voters. Considering what a practiced con artist Trump is, he’s probably already working out how to leverage his fake victim status to squeeze his hapless supporters for more cash down the road.

The problem, unfortunately, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to back Trump’s play, as I predicted he would a year and a half ago.

David Cay JohnsonDefeated Trump is already tearing our government apart

Three big firings in the wake of the election loss — expect more vandalism before he’s gone

America is entering a very dangerous time. For his next 11 weeks in office, Donald Trump will be in a position to exact revenge.

It’s a word that by his own account is his entire life philosophy.

We should all hope that he goes into one of his down emotional periods for an extended time so that lethargy, not blind rage, dominates his behavior until Jan. 20.

Through phony charges of ballot-box stuffing, firing officials, issuing pardons to friends and family and Trump can do great damage between now and Inauguration Day. On Jan. 20, his shield against criminal prosecution vanishes. He also can hobble the transition to a Biden administration.

Trump’s first act of post-election political vandalism came in the wee hours Wednesday morning. He claimed the election was being stolen (video at 8:00) through “a major fraud on our nation.” He has yet to show a scintilla of evidence to support that lie.

That’s the kind of immoral rhetoric that damages faith in democracy and furthers the goals of Russian leader Vladimir Putin who aims to undermine every major democracy because he considers self-governance a joke.

Katrina vanden HeuvelProgressives are an asset for the Democratic Party. It should treat them that way.

Democratic progressives are not an isolated fringe — and their ideas are popular. The party should not run away from them.   

Is the growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party an asset or a liability? Do the largest citizen mobilizations in history — galvanized by the Black Lives Matter demonstrations — alienate more U.S. voters than they bring to the polls? Before the presidential election was called on Saturday, and even as citizens filled the streets celebrating Joe Biden’s projected victory over President Trump, recriminations were flying among Democrats distraught over the unexpected loss of House seats and their narrowed hopes of winning a Senate majority.

First-term Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), a former CIA analyst considered by many a “centrist” Democrat, reportedly blamed liberals who talked about “socialism” and “defunding the police” for losses in contested suburban districts. Veteran Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat in the House, reportedly cautioned against running on Medicare-for-all or “socialized medicine.”

Before Democrats continue down this road, they should consider: Many of the progressive wing’s big ideas enjoy greater support than most Democratic candidates.  [..]

What’s clear, however, is that Democratic progressives are not an isolated fringe. Their ideas are popular. Progressives are calling for basic economic, health and social rights — and more and more Americans are standing with them. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said months ago that Biden could become the most progressive president since FDR. It’s no coincidence that, despite Trump’s claims about socialism, violent mobs and socialized medicine, Biden will be our next president.

Catherine RampellStop romanticizing divided government. If McConnell is majority leader, there will be no progress

His record stands in opposition to common ground.    

With Joe Biden now president-elect, and partisan control of the Senate hanging in the balance, pundits are already romanticizing “divided government” — a Democratic president alongside a Republican-controlled legislative chamber.

It sounds “inherently moderate,” wax some commentators; it’s “a good moment because in order to get something done, people are going to have to cooperate and compromise,” claim others. In this telling, “divided government” is, paradoxically, just what the country needs to heal our divisions.

It’s a nice thought.

Unfortunately, a single man stands in the way of this fantasy. And it’s not the guy in the White House. It’s the current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — to whom Senate custom gives nearly unilateral power to block most initiatives from ever getting a vote, compromises or efforts toward common ground be damned. Over and over, McConnell has already exercised this power.