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Mar 02 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: Too Much Choice Is Hurting America

Learning from subprime, health care and electricity.

Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, is clearly what my father would have called a piece of work.

Early in the pandemic he made headlines by saying that older Americans should be willing to risk death so that younger people could “get back to work.” More recently, he suggested that Texans who found themselves with $17,000 electricity bills after the February freeze had only themselves to blame, because they didn’t “read the fine print.”

Funny, isn’t it, how politicians who denounce liberal elitists sneer when ordinary Americans get into trouble?

But something else struck me about Patrick’s take on supersize power bills: How did we become a country where families can face ruin unless they carefully study something as mundane, as normally routine, as their electricity contract?

And electricity isn’t a unique example.

Eugene Robinson: The Republican Party is making Jim Crow segregationists proud

The GOP’s only strategy seems to be making it harder for people of color to vote

The Republican Party’s biggest problem is that too many people of color are exercising their right to vote. The party’s solution is a massive push for voter suppression that would make old-time Jim Crow segregationists proud.

The Conservative Political Action Conference circus last week in Orlando showed how bankrupt the GOP is — at least when it comes to ideas, principles and integrity. Some might argue that the party, in buying into the lie that last year’s election was somehow stolen, is simply delusional. I disagree. I think Republican leaders know exactly what they’re doing.

The GOP may have lost the White House and the Senate, but it remains strong in most state capitols. So far this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republicans in 33 states “have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access.” The thrust of virtually all these measures is to make it more difficult for African Americans and other minorities to vote.

Amanda Marcotte: The Cuomo scandal illustrates the limits of #MeToo — and the need to hold men to a higher standard

Being an overbearing creep falls short of sexual harassment, but more social opprobrium would help stop the louts

Monday night, a third woman stepped forward to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of being what a 19th century author might delicately describe as “overly familiar.” Anna Ruch, speaking with the New York Times, described meeting New York’s Democratic governor at a wedding in 2019, at which he, moments after meeting her, put his hands on her bare lower back, asked if he could kiss her, and called her “aggressive” when she removed his hands from her body.  [..]

While Republicans have been hypocritically calling on Cuomo to resign, Democrats have largely been more circumspect. The response has largely been to call for an investigation, not an immediate resignation.

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times interpreted this response as evidence that power of the #MeToo movement has weakened, especially in light of “tremendous bitterness toward those who pressured Al Franken to leave the Senate in 2018 after he was accused of grabbing several women’s butts.” She also points out that “many Democrats are sick of holding themselves to a set of standards that Republicans feel no need to try to meet.”

The latter is absolutely true. The same Republicans who stood by Trump or Justice Brett Kavanaugh are pretending to care about these allegations for nakedly opportunistic reasons. And certainly, there’s no doubt still many Democrats still support Franken, and clearly believe a little bit of unwanted ass-grabbing is something women should just put up with. But I wouldn’t be writing the eulogy for the #MeToo movement just yet. It’s just as likely that people are slow-walking this Cuomo story for reasons other than a declining interest in fighting sexual harassment.

Paul Waldman: When Democrats govern, they try hardest to help red states

Increasing the minimum wage is the latest example of a Democratic policy that would do the most for those living under Republican state governments.

As of now, the minimum wage hike’s prospects remains unclear. Which makes it one more victim of minority rule in the Senate, where every piece of legislation that might help people must be sacrificed on the altar of the filibuster, lest Congress start willy-nilly passing laws supported by large majorities of the public.

And that’s the immediate next step for an increase in the minimum wage: It will likely be introduced as a stand-alone bill, Senate Republicans will filibuster it, and that will be that. [..]

Yet we can count on nearly all Republicans opposing just about any minimum wage increase Democrats put forward, even the increase to $11 or $12 that conservative Democrats would bargain the increase down to if the filibuster were not stopping it altogether. But even that would be a huge advance.

This is a consistent pattern: When Democrats take power, they try to extend help everywhere — and in some cases, especially to residents of red states. That was the case with the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. Since states set their own eligibility levels, in many red states the eligibility cutoffs were so absurdly low that if you could afford to clothe yourself in anything but a barrel and suspenders, the state probably considered you too rich to get Medicaid.

Robert Reich: Senate Democrats Can and Must Abolish the Filibuster. Now.

As long as the filibuster is intact, Senate Republicans could keep the Senate in gridlock, and then run in the 2022 midterms on Democrats’ failure to get anything done.

Mitch McConnell may no longer be Senate Majority Leader, but Republicans can still block legislation supported by the vast majority. That’s because of a Senate rule called the filibuster. If we have any hope of safeguarding our democracy and ushering in transformative change, Democrats must wield their power to get rid of the filibuster—and fast.

The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation. Which means a minority of senators can often block legislation that the vast majority of Americans want and need.

It’s not in the Constitution. In fact, it’s arguably unconstitutional. Alexander Hamilton regarded a supermajority rule as “a poison” that would lead to “contemptible compromises of the public good.”   [..]

The filibuster is rooted in racism. In the late 19th century, Southern senators crafted the “talking filibuster”—in which a member could delay the passage of a bill with a long-winded speech—in order to protect the pro-slavery Senate minority.

The current version of the filibuster, requiring 60 votes to end debate, was popularized in the Jim Crow era by Southern senators seeking to prevent passage of civil rights legislation. From the end of Reconstruction to 1964, the filibuster was used only to kill civil rights bills.