Jan 27 2021

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: Pandemic Rescue: It’s ‘And’ Not ‘Or’

Why you shouldn’t nitpick over the details.

President Biden is proposing a large relief package to deal with the continuing fallout from the coronavirus. The package is expansive, as it should be. But it is, predictably, facing demands that it be scaled back. Which, if any, of these demands have some validity?

We can discount opposition from Republican leaders who have suddenly decided, after years of enabling deficits under Trump, that federal debt is a terrible thing. We’ve seen this movie before, during the Obama years: Republicans oppose economic aid not because they believe it will fail but because they fear it might succeed, both helping Democrats’ political prospects and legitimizing an expanded role for government.

But there are also some good-faith objections to parts of the Biden proposal, coming from Democrats like Joe Manchin and progressive economic commentators like Larry Summers. What these commentators object to, mainly, are plans for broadly distributed “stimulus checks” (they aren’t checks and they aren’t stimulus, but never mind): payments of $1400 to many families.

I’m posting this note to explain why I believe that these objections are wrong. To be more precise, I’d argue that these critics are giving the right answer to the wrong question.

Amanda Marcotte: The myth of bipartisanship: Will a fully radicalized GOP finally blow up D.C.’s silliest fantasy?

Republicans voted to back Trump’s violent insurrection — there’s no use wasting time trying to compromise with them

Well, now it’s official: On Tuesday, nine out of ten Republican senators blessed Donald Trump’s efforts at sending a mob to violently overthrow democracy. Despite the very real threat to their lives posed by the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 45 out of 50 Republican senators, answering the call of the ever-showboating Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against proceeding with an impeachment trial of Trump for the crime of inciting an insurrection. This, even though Republicans know Trump is guilty. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., even previously admitted that Trump “provoked” the riot that led to 5 deaths and unhinged mobs roaming the Capitol looking to murder prominent politicians like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence. [..]

Republicans’ consistent support of Trump really should be putting more of a damper on the mewlings about compromise with the GOP from centrist Democratic holdouts like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin. These two senators have been in the news lately because of their stated opposition to ending the filibuster. Even President Joe Biden, despite his welcome interest in forging ahead with a series of progressive executive orders, has expressed concerns about eliminating the filibuster, which gives the Republican minority veto power over any meaningful legislation.

The idea that that filibuster is some marvelous tool of bipartisanship has long been a childish fantasy. Republicans have manipulated it so they can pass their priorities — tax cuts and federal judicial appointments — with a straight majority vote, yet it magically remains in place as an insurmountable obstacle for Democratic priorities, such as ethics reform and a minimum wage hike.

Moreover, the notion that a Democratic majority can “work together” with a Republican minority is a cruel joke.

Chauncey DeVega: Trump’s horror show isn’t nearly over: The coup wasn’t defeated, only slowed down

Trump is both a symptom and a cause of America’s terrible ailment. Whether or not he returns, the disease is real

Monsters are real. One does not defeat them by hiding. They are not defeated by denying that they exist. Throwing them down the memory hole offers little if any safety. To vanquish the monsters of this world requires hard work and eternal vigilance.

Donald Trump proved himself to be one of the worst presidents in American history — if not the very worst. His “movement” was and remains a force of prodigious civic evil. To call Trump’s political cult “deplorable” is, quite honestly, to elevate it above its real standing.

Last week, Joe Biden finally became president of the United States and the Democrats, at least on paper, maintain a tenuous hold on both houses of Congress.

But despite the historical verdict of the 81 million Americans who voted for Biden and the Democrats, Trump is likely to remain a fixture in American life and politics for years to come. Trump’s followers do not understand that they were beaten in the November election, and quite likely will never accept that. The Republican Party and its voters remain in thrall to Donald Trump. Ultimately, a force that does not know it has been defeated will not stop fighting.

Greg Sargent: The hidden way Biden is attacking the future of Trumpism

As the GOP dissolves into Trumpist conspiracy-mongering, a new Biden vision takes shape.

The plight of Sen. Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, has devolved into a cautionary tale with an unmistakable moral: If you want to become the primary keeper of the flame of Trumpism, you risk getting badly burned.

Hawley hoped to become chief steward of a respectable version of Donald Trump’s “conservative populism.” But, given Trump’s hold over GOP voters, Hawley gambled that leading the former president’s effort to overturn the election in Congress would secure instant national prominence. Ever since that effort incited the insurrection, Hawley has been furiously working to erase its stain.

This tale demonstrates how Trump’s continued grip on the GOP is complicating the salvaging of a constructive agenda from the wreckage of the Trump presidency. Instead of carrying out that mission, Hawley is gaining scrutiny for his ridiculous defenses of his enabling of an unprecedented assault on our democracy grounded in QAnon-level crackpottery.

But this Trump effect is also creating a big opening — one that President Biden and Democrats, intentionally or not, are already rushing to fill, with potentially lasting consequences for our politics.