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Feb 22 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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Robert Reich: Texas freeze shows a chilling truth – how the rich use climate change to divide us

The Lone Star State is aptly named. If you’re not part of the Republican oil elite with Cruz and Abbott, you’re on your own

Texas has long represented a wild west individualism that elevates personal freedom – this week, the freedom to freeze – above all else.

The state’s prevailing social Darwinism was expressed most succinctly by the mayor of Colorado City, who accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity and drinkable water – of being the “lazy” products of a “socialist government”, adding “I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!” and predicting “only the strong will survive and the weak will perish”. [..]

Last Wednesday, Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States”. Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that “wind and solar got shut down”.

Rubbish. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, oil tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. Adapting to extreme weather is necessary but it’s no substitute for cutting emissions, which Texas is loath to do. Not even the Lone Star state should protect the freedom to freeze.

Charles M. Blow: The 4 Great Migrations

America as we have come to know it is most likely a thing of the past.

The humanitarian and infrastructure disaster that followed Texas’ winter storm illustrates that catastrophic weather events may soon become less freak occurrences and more part of an unremitting new normal.

It should also remind us of how a new era in which extreme weather is normal will push — or force — some to migrate to new locations less impacted by this weather. [..]

The United States alone — not to mention other areas around the world — is likely to see millions of climate migrants in the coming decades.

This has the potential to reshape the country, culturally, economically and politically. But it isn’t the only migration threatening to do that. There will be at least three other major migrations happening concurrently with the climate one in this country: immigration from other countries, urbanization led by younger people and the reverse migration of Black people from cities in the North and West back to the South.

Naomi Klein: Why Texas Republicans Fear the Green New Deal

Small government is no match for a crisis born of the state’s twin addictions to market fixes and fossil fuels.

Since the power went out in Texas, the state’s most prominent Republicans have tried to pin the blame for the crisis on, of all things, a sweeping progressive mobilization to fight poverty, inequality and climate change. “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said Wednesday on Fox News. Pointing to snow-covered solar panels, Rick Perry, a former governor who was later an energy secretary for the Trump administration, declared in a tweet “that if we humans want to keep surviving frigid winters, we are going to have to keep burning natural gas — and lots of it — for decades to come.”

The claims are outlandish. The Green New Deal is, among other things, a plan to tightly regulate and upgrade the energy system so the United States gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables in a decade. Texas, of course, still gets the majority of its energy from gas and coal; much of that industry’s poorly insulated infrastructure froze up last week when it collided with wild weather that prompted a huge surge in demand. (Despite the claims of many conservatives, renewable energy was not to blame.) It was the very sort of freakish weather system now increasingly common, thanks to the unearthing and burning of fossil fuels like coal and gas. While the link between global warming and rare cold fronts like the one that just slammed Texas remains an area of active research, Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, says the increasing frequency of such events should be “a wake up call.”

But weather alone did not cause this crisis. Texans are living through the collapse of a 40-year experiment in free-market fundamentalism, one that has also stood in the way of effective climate action. Fortunately, there’s a way out — and that’s precisely what Republican politicians in the state most fear.

Paul Waldman: Nobody loves ‘cancel culture’ more than Republicans do

Both sides love to cancel, just for different reasons. But Republicans need to feed their narrative of victimization.

America, conservatives will tell you, is under siege by “cancel culture.” What they won’t tell you is that they couldn’t be happier about it, since it gives them a handy comeback to any criticism, and helps feed their supporters’ sense of victimization.

Consider the defense Donald Trump Jr. offered of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s jaunt to Cancun while millions of his Texas constituents froze without power.

“The optics of that right now isn’t ideal,” Trump Jr. admitted in a video posted to social media, but “I’m not going to jump on this bandwagon of trying to cancel the guy.” Because Cruz is the real victim here.

Or consider this new effort by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 in the Senate GOP leadership, to apply the term “cancel culture” to allies of former president Donald Trump. Thune called on them to stop attacking Republicans who condemned Trump’s incitement of the insurrection at the Capitol, in hopes of tamping down the intra-GOP war.

“If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves,” Thune gamely suggested. This time the victims were Republicans suffering backlash for criticizing Trump. [..]

Thune is right in one sense: Republicans who stood up against Trump have indeed received fierce attacks from within their party, everything from letters of condemnation to formal censure to death threats.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve been canceled. After all, they still have their jobs (as does Cruz). They can do TV interviews and write op-eds. And if they lose primary challenges because of the decision they made, well, that’s politics. Whether you think a failure to support Trump is a good reason to vote against a candidate, nobody has an inherent right to win their next election.

Jennifer Rubin: Americans are ready for communal investment

Americans know they need government

Another poll last week showed overwhelming support for President Biden’s pandemic rescue plan. The latest Navigator poll shows 73 percent of Americans support it, including 53 percent of Republicans.

Interestingly, Biden and Democrats are greatly favored over Republicans to handle both covid-19 and unemployment benefits (65 to 23 percent). As Biden has argued, the majority of Americans are afraid the government will do too little (64 percent) not too much (36 percent), although here a majority of Republicans feels the opposite. Biden is widely seen as more interested in helping the working and middle class than the wealthy. The White House deserves credit for its laserlike focus and communication effort, but when nearly three-quarters of Americans agree about something (anything?), the reasons bear further study. [..]

The mandate coming out of 2020 — other than “no unhinged authoritarians” — was plainly to seek a revived public sector. The Build Back Better idea is recognition that without substantial investments in public goods, we can no longer endure crises and function — even the well-off. If we are entering a new era in which public support for government action and for narrowing the divide between rich and poor is reaching new heights, it is no wonder Biden’s plan is so popular.

“Help is on the way,” the new president likes to say. Apparently, for most Americans — and even a lot of Republicans — that help cannot come fast enough.