Mar 05 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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Jennifer Rubin: Republicans’ most self-destructive political move yet

Opposing a popular measure that can’t fail is dumb politics.

The latest poll on the Biden administration’s pandemic rescue plan underscores the inanity of congressional Republicans’ unified opposition. The Associated Press/NORC poll finds that “at a moment of deep political polarization in America, support for [President] Biden’s pandemic response extends across party lines. Overall, 70% of Americans back the Democratic president’s handling of the virus response, including 44% of Republicans.” [..]

And with all of this, Republicans in the House and Senate nevertheless unanimously oppose the covid relief plan, a legislative proposal that has in fact unified the country. Moreover, it is bound to “work” insofar as the $1,400 checks will go out, increased food assistance will be offered and money will flow to state and local governments, as well as to small businesses. The economy will recover, and thanks to a massive spending bill, the administration and its Democratic allies will get the credit (whether deserved or not).

Republicans’ argument is that we are spending too much. The ordinary American who might return to work in the months to come or get the benefits of the bill will likely say “Who cares?” And the country will never know whether recovery would have been possible with a $1 trillion bill instead of a $1.9 trillion bill. Republicans’ opposition is politically obtuse, to put it mildly.

Paul Waldman: What Ron Johnson’s latest stunt tells us about the next four years

Republicans want to make Democratic governance look convoluted and ridiculous. Democrats shouldn’t let them.

Being a United States senator comes with all kinds of privileges not afforded to lowly House members. One is that in many instances you can force the entire chamber to submit to your idiotic whims.

So it was that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) used his power on Thursday to force Senate clerks to read every word of the 628-page covid relief bill out loud. As he said in a tweet, “If they’re going to add nearly $2T to the national debt at least we should know what’s in the bill.” [..]

Let me share a secret with you: Members of Congress don’t read the text of most of the bills they vote on. That’s true of both Republican bills and Democratic bills. But it’s not because they aren’t doing their jobs.

So why don’t they read most bills? The first reason is that there are just too many. In the last Congress, which ran from 2019 to 2021, there were over 20,000 bills introduced, and just under 1,900 that were considered on the floor. And that was not a particularly productive Congress.

So members have to rely on summaries prepared by staff and instructions from their party leadership on whether to vote yea or nay; otherwise the task is just too enormous.

Catherine Rampell: February’s jobs report doesn’t let Congress off the hook for more stimulus

Progress — but not enough to get complacent.

Yay for a strong jobs report, finally! And yet: No way, no how, should this news let Congress off the hook for more stimulus, whatever Republicans might say today.

Employers added 379,000 jobs in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That was the fastest pace of hirings since October, and more gains than had been expected. Most of the hiring came in the struggling leisure and hospitality sector (primarily at restaurants and bars). The unemployment rate also ticked down, to 6.2 percent from 6.3 percent in January. This decline happened for the “right” reasons: that is, because more people got jobs, not because more people gave up looking for work and stopped being counted as unemployed.

Falling covid infections, rising daily vaccinations and fewer business restrictions are all helping normal economic activity resume. This is worth celebrating! Still: The economic crisis and the suffering it has caused are nowhere close to over.

Ross Barkan: Andrew Cuomo was never a hero. Karma is coming for him, with a vengeance

The media puffed up Cuomo as a pandemic savior and anti-Trump. Now he’s accused of sexual harassment and concealing nursing home deaths

For so long, television was good to Andrew Cuomo.

The most famous governor in America charmed millions of viewers with his televised briefings in the earliest months of the coronavirus pandemic, reciting bare facts from his homely PowerPoints. Journalists, pundits and cable television hosts swooned – he was primetime material, the winner of an actual Emmy award, the Queens-bred foil to the frothing Queens native in the White House. [..]

Now Cuomo returns to the center of the media universe. This time, he has been accused of sexual harassment by three different women. This time, he is facing an FBI investigation into how he handled the state’s nursing homes, where the true coronavirus death toll was allegedly intentionally masked for months. This time, a state legislator who went public with unhinged threats Cuomo made against him can become famous himself.

Amanda Marcotte: March 4 was a dud — but QAnon will persist because it is fueled by white entitlement

QAnon is not going away any time soon. The people who believe it simply need it too much

There’s a reason why so few of them left after their failed January 6 coup and why few will leave now that it is clear March 4 was a dud. Much has been written about the phenomenon of people not leaving cults, even after the dates of splashy prophecies come and go without the predicted events happening. A lot of it comes down to rationalization and an unwillingness to admit that they spent so much time and energy on something that turned out to be fake. But a lot of it has to do with the reasons they joined the cult in the first place, whether it’s seeking meaning or community or excitement. Those desires don’t disappear just because the prophecies failed. And so the believers will continue to find excuses to stick by the cult and continue deriving what they see as a benefit of belonging.

What drives people to the QAnon cult — as well as the other groups, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, that contributed to the January 6 insurrection — is ultimately a grotesque mix of wish-fulfillment fantasies and an abiding sense of white entitlement. These are folks who are absolutely certain that they deserve to be in charge, no matter what, and that belief feeds their attachment to increasingly complex conspiracy theories that promise that there’s a “secret” rule or law that can be activated that will allow them to overcome a democratic election and install their preferred president in his place. They are in a search of a cheat code to defeat the big boss, if you will, and in this case, the big boss is democracy.