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Apr 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: Bidenomics Is as American as Apple Pie

Big spending on infrastructure goes back to the Erie Canal.

House Democrats are hoping to pass President Biden’s infrastructure bill by July 4, because of course they are. The Biden team is making a point of wrapping its economic initiatives firmly in the flag. First came the American Rescue Plan; now we have the American Jobs Plan paid for by the Made in America Tax Plan.

And why not? Trumpism was, in part, about the appeal of economic nationalism, so it makes sense to try to snatch away that appeal on behalf of good policy. It’s also a pre-emptive defense against the inevitable Republican attacks; Donald Trump, who still exists, has already denounced Biden’s plan to raise corporate taxes as a “classic globalist betrayal.” No, he isn’t making sense.

There is, however, more going on here than marketing. Bidenomics consists, roughly speaking, of large-scale public investment paid for with highly progressive taxation. And both of these things are as American as apple pie. [..]

House Democrats are hoping to pass President Biden’s infrastructure bill by July 4, because of course they are. The Biden team is making a point of wrapping its economic initiatives firmly in the flag. First came the American Rescue Plan; now we have the American Jobs Plan paid for by the Made in America Tax Plan.

And why not? Trumpism was, in part, about the appeal of economic nationalism, so it makes sense to try to snatch away that appeal on behalf of good policy. It’s also a pre-emptive defense against the inevitable Republican attacks; Donald Trump, who still exists, has already denounced Biden’s plan to raise corporate taxes as a “classic globalist betrayal.” No, he isn’t making sense.

There is, however, more going on here than marketing. Bidenomics consists, roughly speaking, of large-scale public investment paid for with highly progressive taxation. And both of these things are as American as apple pie.

Eugene Robinson: Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck sent a message to everyone who saw it

A knee on the neck says who has power and who doesn’t deserve protection

Evidence presented this week in Derek Chauvin’s trial on charges that he murdered George Floyd showed a national audience how the former Minneapolis police officer saw his alleged victim: as a dangerous, “sizable” Black man who had to be controlled, subdued and forced to submit. The message Chauvin sent with his actions wasn’t intended for Floyd alone, and it’s one Black Americans have heard for centuries.

Chauvin didn’t see Floyd as a citizen suspected of a minor, nonviolent crime or as the gentle “mama’s boy” Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, described. To Chauvin and the other officers, Floyd was guilty from the start — guilty of inhabiting an imposing Black male body, a circumstance that has always been a punishable offense in this country. [..]

When I see that look Chauvin gave the onlookers, I see more than heartlessness. I see arrogance and superiority. I see him teaching an old lesson about who has power and who does not, about whom the law protects and whom it doesn’t. I see Chauvin demonstrating that he, not Floyd, got to decide whether Floyd was allowed to breathe.

Frazier, who is Black, told the court that when she remembers what she saw happen to Floyd, she can’t help but think about how her own father, brothers or uncles might find themselves in a similar situation and suffer the same fate. I have the same fears about my sons and myself.

Which means we all got Chauvin’s message. Loud and clear.

Amanda Marcotte: Biden’s infrastructure bill is popular — so Republicans are trying to make it a culture war fight

Green buildings and electric cars are the new Potato Head and Dr. Seuss in this round

Conflict drives engagement and ratings, so it should be no surprise that media coverage is framing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill as controversial. “Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Meets Skepticism, Signaling Fight to Come,” reads the New York Times headline. “Biden’s infrastructure plan faces controversy over price tag and design,” reads the Washington Post headline. Politico’s Playbook declares, “Fault lines form on Biden’s massive infrastructure plan.

But this kind of framing is misleading. It is true that congressional Republicans oppose this bill and there is nothing that Biden could do, any concession he could make, that would induce Republicans to vote for it. But with the actual public? Well, this bill is a big hit. It is even a bipartisan hit.

This follows polling from Data for Progress that shows 69% of Americans support the plan, including half of Republicans.

Republican politicians oppose the bill, alright, but it’s because the bill is popular. The entire GOP political strategy, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is to block popular bills, and then run against Democrats for not getting anything done. If that means Republicans screwing over their own constituents, so be it.

 
Robert Reich: Republicans have taken up the politics of bigotry, putting US democracy at risk

There is no ‘surge’ of migrants at the border and there is no huge voter fraud problem – there is only hard-right attack

Republicans are outraged – outraged! – at the surge of migrants at the southern border. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, declares it a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration”. The Arizona congressman Andy Biggs claims, “we go through some periods where we have these surges, but right now is probably the most dramatic that I’ve seen at the border in my lifetime.”

Donald Trump demands the Biden administration “immediately complete the wall, which can be done in a matter of weeks – they should never have stopped it. They are causing death and human tragedy.”

“Our country is being destroyed!” he adds.

In fact, there’s no surge of migrants at the border. [..]

To be sure, there is a humanitarian crisis of children detained in overcrowded border facilities. And an even worse humanitarian tragedy in the violence and political oppression in Central America, worsened by US policies over the years, that drives migration in the first place.

But the “surge” has been fabricated by Republicans in order to stoke fear – and, not incidentally, to justify changes in laws they say are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting.

David Litt: The McConnell filibuster is not the same as the Jim Crow filibuster – it’s much worse

For decades senators blocked civil rights legislation but allowed democracy to function elsewhere – now next to nothing passes

President Obama chooses his words carefully. So last July, when he punctuated his eulogy to the civil rights legend John Lewis by calling the Senate filibuster “another relic of Jim Crow”, he wasn’t messing around.

Many others (myself included) had written about the historical link between the Senate rule allowing a minority of lawmakers to kill a bill and the preservation of white supremacy. But Obama’s speech sparked a wholesale rebranding. Today, among progressive politicians and activists alike, “End the filibuster” is out. “End the Jim Crow filibuster” is in.

Yet those who so bluntly tie Senate obstruction to southern segregation are missing an important piece of historical context. It’s not fair to suggest that the filibuster championed by defenders of Jim Crow decades ago is identical to the filibuster championed by Mitch McConnell today. Because today’s filibuster – McConnell’s filibuster – is actually much worse.

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