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May 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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Kara Swisher: Good Riddance, Donald Trump?

A Facebook-appointed panel avoided a clear decision about Trump’s heinous online behavior. It’s kind of perfect, actually.

It never occurred to me that a Facebook-appointed panel could avoid a clear decision about Donald Trump’s heinous online behavior. But that is what it’s done.

Over the next days, we will hear a lot of huffing and puffing about the Oversight Board’s decision to uphold a ban on former President Donald Trump from Facebook.

That is appropriate since the question of how to treat speech on social media platforms is a major and perhaps impossible one to wrangle with — especially when it comes to important political figures who relish in being divisive. Which is why the external board decided to punt the fetid Trump situation back to the Facebook leadership.

It’s kind of perfect, actually, since it forces everyone’s hand — from the Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to our limp legislators in Congress.

Thomas L. Friedman: Trump’s Big Lie Devoured the G.O.P. and Now Eyes Our Democracy

Respect for election integrity is now a disqualifier for membership in the Republican Party.

President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t.

We are not OK. America’s democracy is still in real danger. In fact, we are closer to a political civil war — more than at any other time in our modern history. Today’s seeming political calm is actually resting on a false bottom that we’re at risk of crashing through at any moment.

Because, instead of Trump’s Big Lie fading away, just the opposite is happening — first slowly and now quickly.

Under Trump’s command and control from Mar-a-Largo, and with the complicity of most of his party’s leaders, that Big Lie — that the greatest election in our history, when more Republicans and Democrats voted than ever before, in the midst of a pandemic, must have been rigged because Trump lost — has metastasized. It’s being embraced by a solid majority of elected Republicans and ordinary party members — local, state and national.

Paul Krugman: Biden and the Future of the Family

There’s a good case for doing more to improve physical assets. There’s an overwhelming case for doing more to help families with children.

Like many progressives, I like the Biden administration’s plan to invest in infrastructure, but really love its plans to invest more in people. There’s a good case for doing more to improve physical assets like roads, water supplies and broadband networks. There’s an overwhelming case for doing more to help families with children.

To Republican politicians, however, the opposite is true. G.O.P. opposition to President Biden’s infrastructure plans has felt low-energy, mainly involving word games about the meaning of “infrastructure” and tired repetition of old slogans about big government and job-killing tax hikes. Attacks on the family plan have, though, been truly venomous; Republicans seem really upset about proposals to spend more on child care and education.

Which is not to say that the arguments they’ve been making are honest.

How do we know that we should be spending more on families? There is, it turns out, a lot of evidence that there are big returns to helping children and their parents — stronger evidence, if truth be told, than there is for high returns to improved physical infrastructure.

Michelle Cottle: Who Cares About Hypocrisy?

Most politicians are hypocrites. Voters tend not to care.

President Biden is a tough man to vilify. Maybe it’s the grandfatherly vibe or the down-to-earth speaking style or all that talk of compassion and healing. Whatever the reason, Republicans have had little success thus far convincing Americans — beyond the alternative-reality MAGAverse, of course — that good old Uncle Joe is radical, corrupt or even a little bit scary. [..]

Having failed to paint Mr. Biden as a possibly senile monster, Republicans are now aiming to smear him as a holier-than-thou hypocrite.

To which the White House’s response should be: Bring it.

If Mr. Biden wants to pursue bipartisan deals because he believes they make for better, more durable policy, then more power to him. And his efforts to lower the temperature of political discourse — by, for instance, not doling out insulting nicknames, peddling racist tropes, attacking members of his own government or pitching Twitter hissy fits — are a welcome step toward soothing America’s Trump-tortured soul.

But when it comes to accusations of hypocrisy regarding matters of cross-aisle comity, Mr. Biden should waste exactly as much time fretting as the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell did vetting Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court in 2016. Which is to say, not one hot second.

Amanda Marcotte: Facebook’s Trump ban stays: Social media giant’s decision shows free speech concerns were overblown

Trump doesn’t get to vomit lies on Facebook, but the existence of his blog shows his freedom of speech is intact

After Donald Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6 that led to the trashing of the U.S. Capitol, the deaths of multiple people, and the delay — though not the cancellation he sought — of the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president, Facebook and Twitter finally banned Trump from their websites. Trump’s vitriolic and hateful posts, which often hinted at violence, had long been in violation of the terms of service for both websites, but his status as the president, and frankly the amount of traffic he generated for both sites, was enough to shield him from being banned for years. An attempted overthrow of the government finally crossed the line. Although a cynic would also note that because Trump failed, there was good reason to think his value as a revenue-generating troll was declining anyway, making it a much easier financial decision for both organizations.

On Wednesday morning, the Facebook oversight board issued its long-awaited decision on whether or not to let Trump — who again, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government and have himself installed illegally as president — back onto the platform. In what is a sad statement on our society, there was a real question about whether or not the oversight board would give in to pressure from the Trump camp and recommend reinstating his account. But in a victory for common sense, the oversight board decided to uphold the decision to strip Trump of his ability to inject lies and incitement directly into the social media streams of the kinds of addle-brained idiots who stormed the Capitol.

Not that this was a clean win for democracy, of course. Perish the thought!

Unfortunately, the board did demand that “Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform,” giving the company 6 months to comply. Their reasoning is that, while Trump clearly violated Facebook’s rules “prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence,” the company has no policy on what constitutes a violation that results in indefinite suspension and that needs more clarity.

Jennifer Rubin: Fix the filibuster, save democracy

We are heading for a filibuster face-off.

Republicans have become heavily invested in curtailing voting rights. On the precipice of booting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership post for debunking the Big Lie — which serves as their justification for voter-suppression legislation — the notion that 10 Republican senators might buck their MAGA overlords to pass voting rights protections should be dismissed out of hand.

Whether it is the comprehensive set of reforms set forth in H.R. 1, a subset of those measures (such as guaranteed no-excuse voting by mail, in-person early voting or paper records/audits) or stand-alone reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5 preclearance provisions, I would be hard-pressed to come up with a handful of Senate Republicans who would sacrifice their own careers for the sake of democracy — much less 10. And make no mistake: A vote in favor of voting rights would be far more offensive to the MAGA authoritarians than simply refusing to accept the Big Lie.

In other words, we are heading for a confrontation between GOP efforts to suppress voting by means of the anti-majoritarian filibuster on one hand, and the integrity of democratic elections on the other. Democrats should be as intolerant of its members refusing to support the latter as Republicans are of Cheney.

Even putting aside the strongest argument for filibuster reform — defense of fundamental voting rights — the case for reforming the filibuster for all ordinary legislation is overwhelming