Feb 12 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: Biden Is the Big Spender America Wants

His economic plans are overwhelmingly popular.

The state of U.S. politics is horrifying.

A sustained campaign of lies on right-wing media — echoed by nearly half of the Republican senators — has convinced almost two-thirds of Republicans that the presidential election was somehow stolen. These lies set the stage for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol; but a great majority of Republican senators appear set to acquit Donald Trump for his undeniable role in promoting that attack.

Yet President Biden’s plans to rescue the economy command overwhelming, bipartisan support.

My sense is that the remarkably strong public consensus in favor of Bidenomics has largely flown under the radar. To be sure, I’m not saying that the surprising unity among voters (but not politicians) on economic policy compensates for the terrifying fact that one of our two major parties no longer accepts the legitimacy of elections it loses. But it’s still important for America’s future. [..]

This broad public support for Biden’s signature economic policy is stunning given the depth of our political divisions. It’s also very different from what we saw in the early months of the Obama administration, during the Great Recession.

Biden has somewhat lower overall approval and much higher disapproval ratings than Barack Obama did at this point in his presidency. But Obama’s personal popularity didn’t translate into strong support for his stimulus plan, which only a narrow majority supported. Why is this time different? I’d suggest three reasons.

Charles M. Blow: What Do ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ Mean to the G.O.P.?

These politicians are still bowing to their alpha — Trump.

It cannot be said often enough: The first rule of politics is survival.

This is a sad but pervading truth. We like to think that politicians are driven above all else by a sense of public service, a fundamental belief in the efficacy of government and in the defense of democracy.

Surely that is true of some. But we are ever reminded that too many elected officials’ primary impulse is the pursuit, acquisition and maintenance of power. Power is the politicians’ profession. So just like a pack of animals, they willingly, gleefully subjugate themselves to the one among them with the most power.

We see that playing out before our eyes in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection, a high crime of which he is clearly guilty.

All but six Republican senators voted that the trial itself was unconstitutional, even though constitutional scholars overwhelmingly disagree.

These politicians are still bowing to their alpha — Trump. In the early days of Trump’s presidency, Republicans in Congress either cozied up to him or sat in silence as his demagogy ensnared and entranced the Republican base.

Amanda Marcotte: House Democrats make their case to Senate Republicans: Trump duped his rioters — and he’ll dump you

Trump impeachment trial, day 3: House managers remind Senate Republicans that Trump will never repay their loyalty

“His directive is Trump first,” House impeachment manager and Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island reminded the Senate during the second day of arguments in support of the singular article of impeachment filed against the former president. It’s a crucial takeaway that should be heeded by the Senate Republicans who plan to acquit Trump, caring not one bit about the overwhelming evidence of his guilt in inciting an insurrection on January 6. Senate Republicans are putting their loyalty to and fear of the sociopathic man-child from Mar-A-Lago over their patriotism and basic sense of decency. But as Cicilline pointed out, no matter what you do for Trump, no matter how much you debase yourself for Trump, no matter what risks you take for Trump, he will not hesitate to throw you under the bus.

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump has been overshadowed by the fact that the majority of Senate Republicans plan to acquit Trump. So the only real question is whether or not the House Democrats who are arguing the case against Trump can maximally expose the cowardice and complicity of the Republicans. [..]

But ultimately, the real question isn’t whether Trump is guilty. Everyone knows he is. The only question is whether Senate Republicans want to be complicit with an insurrection that directly threatened their own lives. Presumably, they think they’re playing 11th-level chess and will get some political advantage out of it. But in the end, they’re no better than the morons who stormed the Capitol because Trump told them it was “allowed.” And if they believe otherwise, it’s because Trump has successfully exploited their own overblown egos against them — as he does to all of his marks.

Karen Tumulty: I was skeptical of Democrats pursuing a second impeachment. I was wrong.

House managers have laid out a devastating case, for Americans and for history.

I am not generally a fan of futility, which is why I was skeptical about the wisdom of congressional Democrats pursuing a second impeachment and post-presidential conviction of Donald Trump.

The ending of this unprecedented exercise was written before it even began: Once again, Trump would be acquitted by the Senate, where fewer than the requisite 67 would vote to convict him. And once again, it would be safe to predict that the 45th president will claim this is some sort of exoneration.

It seemed smarter, and politically safer, to punish Trump some other way — perhaps with a censure, which would require only a majority.

But having watched what has unfolded this week in the Senate chamber — a scene of the crime — I now realize I was wrong.

The House managers have laid out a devastating case, for the American public and for history. They are making clear not only Trump’s culpability but the complicity of the Republican hierarchy that enabled him and the murderous, self-styled “patriots” who took up his call for insurrection.

Moira Donegan: Framing Britney Spears exposes the contradictions of American womanhood

The documentary makes it clear Britney Spears had a real enthusiasm for performing – and that any woman who became that famous would have been treated that badly

t’s something that would not have happened to a man in America,” a blond fan says in the opening moments of Framing Britney Spears, a New York Times documentary about Britney Spears. The woman is talking about Spears’ conservatorship, an elaborate legal arrangement, in place since 2009, in which the singer has been declared unfit to manage her own affairs. The conservatorship means that Spears’ life – and her money – are largely under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, who has been appointed conservator by the court. That arrangement has come under scrutiny as fans speculate that Spears’ independence has been needlessly curtailed by a greedy father and a misogynist court system, and that the singer has been trapped in a literal, court-ordained patriarchy. Spears herself has petitioned for the court appoint a different conservator, saying that she is afraid of her father.

But really, the fan could be discussing any aspect of Britney Spears’ career. The documentary, nominally pegged to the conservatorship legal battle that has been brewing since 2019, is really an account of Spears’ career, and how she became a symbol for and victim of the media’s misogyny. The film follows Spears from her origins as a talented child in small-town Louisiana, through the height of her fame as a teen pop sensation, and into the mental health crises, legal troubles and slow recovery that have followed. On the way, it confronts an American public all too eager to make a young girl into a symbol for all of its anxieties about sex and womanhood at the dawn of the 21st century.

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