Nov 24 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: Trump Wars II: The Loser Strikes Back

Trashing the nation on his way out the door.

We all knew that Donald Trump would react badly to defeat. But his refusal to concede, the destructiveness of his temper tantrum and the willingness of almost the entire Republican Party to indulge him have surpassed even pessimists’ expectations.

Even so, it’s very unlikely that Trump will manage to overturn the election results. But he’s doing all he can to wreck America on his way out, in ways large and small. Among other things, his officials are already trying to sabotage the economy, setting the stage for a possible financial crisis on Joe Biden’s watch.

To the uninitiated, the sudden announcement by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, that he’s terminating support for several emergency lending programs created back in March might not seem like that big a deal. After all, the financial markets aren’t currently in crisis. In fact, defying Trump’s prediction that “your 401(k)s will go to hell” if he were to lose, stocks have risen substantially since Biden’s win.

Furthermore, much of the money allocated to those programs was never actually used. So what’s the problem?

Well, the Federal Reserve, which administers the programs, has objected strenuously — for good reason. You see, the Fed knows a lot about financial crises and what it takes to stop them — and Mnuchin is depriving the nation of tools that could be crucial in the months or years ahead.

Eugene Robinson: Want to understand Biden voters? Here’s your reading list.

From “The Warmth of Other Suns” to Langston Hughes.

Who are they and what drove them to vote in such huge numbers, even during a pandemic? What makes them tick? Is it culture? Tribalism? Race? How did they come to their worldview, and why do they cling to it so passionately? What do they mean for the future of American democracy?

I’m talking about the opaque and inscrutable Joe Biden voter, of course.

After Donald Trump won in 2016, the media and academia embarked on a numbingly comprehensive sociological and anthropological examination of “the Trump voter.” Reporters and researchers swarmed what seemed like every bereft factory town in the industrial Midwest, every hill and hollow of Appalachia, every windswept farming community throughout the Great Plains. I’m pretty sure television crews did, in fact, bring us reports from every single diner in the contiguous United States — at least, those where at least one regular patron wears overalls.

Never mind that nearly 3 million more of us voted against Trump four years ago; no one seemed terribly interested in our inner lives, our hopes and dreams. This time, however, the gap is too big to ignore — Biden, the president-elect, beat Trump by more than 6 million votes and counting. He won back the heartland of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He won Georgia, for heaven’s sake.

Logically, then, we should put aside those dog-eared copies of J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” and subject “the Biden voter” to the same kind of microscopic scrutiny. Venture out of your bubble, Trump supporters, and try to understand how most of America thinks.

Richard L. Hasen: Trump’s Legal Farce Is Having Tragic Results

There is nothing funny about the Republican Party’s multipronged attack on voting rights.

Even as the campaign lawsuits brought by President Trump over the 2020 election enter their death throes, many people continue to worry that Mr. Trump will find three Republican legislatures to magically snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. They are concerned that he will pull off an antidemocratic hat trick through maneuvers like delaying recounts in Wisconsin and blocking certification in Michigan to allow these legislatures to submit competing slates of electors to Congress. The goal is to prevent Joe Biden from securing the Electoral College votes he needs on Jan. 6 for Congress to declare him president. [..]

Together, the Trump-related precedents mean that neither state nor federal courts are likely to be able to play a backstop role when Republican state legislatures pass new restrictive voting laws, and that efforts to get around these state legislative efforts are likely to fail as well. Although in theory Congress has the power to override state legislatures with voter-protective legislation for federal elections, it is hard to see any of that getting through the next Congress even if Democrats barely grab control by winning the upcoming pair of Senate runoffs in Georgia.

Mr. Trump has not admitted it, but he lost the 2020 election. His attack on voting rights and the legitimacy of our election system, however, will live far beyond his presidency. At stake is whether this country continues to adhere to the rule of law and to allow elections to be decided by a majority of voters.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s on his way out, but leaves a lasting legacy: The right’s open embrace of terrorism

How did the Kenosha shooter post $2 million in bail? Because conservatives are normalizing right-wing terrorism

In any sensible society, Kyle Rittenhouse would be shunned across the political spectrum. [..]

In the past, Rittenhouse would have been largely abandoned, even by right-wingers who might otherwise be generally sympathetic to insecure white men playing dress-up with camo and guns. We’ve seen this pattern from Timothy McVeigh in the 1990s right through the Trump years. Conservatives certainly didn’t embrace Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old white nationalist accused of murdering 23 people in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store last year. The mainstream conservative movement often flirts with right-wing extremists, but when the bullets fly or the bombs go off, conservative leaders prefer to pretend that they had nothing to do with the violence.

But Rittenhouse is free now, on $2 million bail, thanks to the conservative leaders who broke this pattern and rallied to the young man’s side. Rittenhouse was aided by Christian websites fundraising for his defense, and according to his lawyer, Lin Wood — who is also involved in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election — assistance was also offered by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and ’80s-era child actor Ricky Schroder. Schroder even posted a picture of himself celebrating with Rittenhouse, encouraging people to move to social media platforms like Parler that don’t ban people for misinformation or hate speech. (Schroder had his own run-in with the law last year, when he was arrested on domestic violence charges that were later dropped.)

Rittenhouse has Trump to thank for the hero’s treatment he’s getting on the right. Along with undermining the social prohibitions against blatant racism, overt misogyny and openly trying to steal elections, Trump spent the past five years dismantling the taboo against shamelessly encouraging domestic terrorism. Trump’s incitement of violence started shortly after he announced his first presidential campaign, when he fantasized out loud about physical violence against Black Lives Matter protesters in August 2015. He has continued at a steady and intensifying clip over the last five years. By the time Rittenhouse rolled into Kenosha with a gun, Trump had made it safe for conservatives to openly support political violence.