Democrats

Red Klotz – Washington Generals – (Rare) Behind The Scenes

“President Biden is disappointed in this outcome, as he proposed having the $15 minimum wage as part of the American Rescue Plan. He respects the parliamentarian’s decision and the Senate’s process. He will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty,” Psaki wrote.

Speaking to wealthy donors in New York…
“no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,”
“I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you,”

Joe Biden 2019

Still waiting for that fourth win?

Late Night Today

Late Night Today is for our readers who can’t stay awake to watch the shows. Everyone deserves a good laugh.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Don’t Be Fooled By Fake Footage From The Mars Perseverance Rover

Who knew Martians had such good rhythm

You’re Not Crazy: Pandemic Paranoia Is A Real Thing

According to the experts at CNN, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling a little paranoid after 11 months of pandemic lockdown. So to whomever at NASA decided to embed secret messages inside the Mars rover’s parachute, you’re not helping! We have enough conspiracy theories flying around here on Earth.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

The FBI Tried to Warn Capitol Police & Pence Still Talks to Trump

The FBI reportedly emailed Capitol police to warn them of possible violence ahead of the January 6 insurrection, Mike Pence says he still speaks to Trump, and the NYPD unveils a robot dog.

Black Vaccine Inequality – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know

Why are vaccination rates for Black Americans falling behind white Americans? Here’s a look at the systemic inequalities that got us here and how churches are trying to help.

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Great Vaccine News Has Everyone Asking When Life Will Return to Normal: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at some glimmers of hope on the horizon nearly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic radically changed our lives

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jimmy Kimmel’s Pancake War with His Kids, Trump’s Plea to Facebook & No One Knows Kamala’s Husband

Jimmy talks about his kids Jane & Billy not wanting to eat the pancakes he made this morning and the battle that ensued, the new Amazon Echo Show Ten that swivels a screen in your direction wherever you go, the U.S. Postal Services new fleet of high-tech delivery trucks, a six-legged dog born in Oklahoma, Mike Pence patching things up with his former owner, Trump begging Facebook to take him back, “This Week in COVID History,” a list of phrases the Biden Administration is putting to rest, and we take to the street to see how many people can identity Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.

The Late Late Show with James Corden

We’re Getting Good Vaccine News!

James Corden kicks off the show very excited to have Stanley Tucci on the show, and after Ian Karmel finds his true calling as an ad man, show guitarist Tim Young levels the studio with the truth: if you shoot for the moon, you likely won’t land amongst the stars. And after looking at the headlines, including good news about a new COVID-19 vaccine and a new look for USPS trucks, James wonders what is happening on TikTok.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Criminal Justice Is a State Issue

State power is the path to racial equality and liberation.

This week, Illinois became the first state to eliminate its cash bail system, and Virginia became the first Southern state to abolish the death penalty. These developments illustrate that many of the most impactful criminal justice reforms can and must be enacted by states, not by the federal government. [..]

The social justice position on criminal justice isn’t only that the system is constructed in destructively punitive ways, but also that there is inherent racial inequality in the way laws are applied.

The true frontier of criminal justice equality is on the state level. States have the power to write their own criminal codes. Those codes are riddled with racial biases, often intentional. But too many have done too little to change those laws and right the wrongs.

If the criminal justice system is to move toward racial equality and liberation, this change will have to start with the states.

Jennifer Rubin: Republicans don’t get to talk about bipartisanship

The height of hypocrisy for the partisan MAGA crowd.

If Republicans such as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — who complains that the administration has not entered into endless negotiations with a group of Republicans who have yet to recognize the magnitude of the crises facing the country — were truly interested in being bipartisan, they would be acting very differently than they have since President Biden won the election.

Republicans have had no shortage of opportunities for bipartisanship. They could have immediately recognized Biden as the winner — not let the Big Lie that the election was stolen fester. They could have declined to object to any electoral votes. They could have voted to impeach, convict and disqualify the disgraced insurrectionist in chief from holding future office. [..]

n every way imaginable, Republicans have declared themselves as not only unwilling to meet Biden on popular, urgent matters but also unwilling to put aside the lies and conspiracy theories. Instead, they genuflect to the disgraced former president. Imagine Southern lawmakers still honoring Jefferson Davis after the Confederacy’s defeat. They would be shunned and labeled traitors.

Republicans have zero — none, nada — ground to stand on in complaining about bipartisanship. They have shown scant sign they are interested in that sort of politics. Perhaps they should start with more fundamental values: Decency and honesty. Both are in short supply.

Alejandro Mayorkas: How my DHS will combat domestic extremism

Alejandro N. Mayorkas is secretary of homeland security.

Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today. The Department of Homeland Security, working with its many partners at the local, state and federal levels, is taking immediate action to address it.

For several years, the United States has been suffering an upsurge in domestic violent extremism. The horror of seeing the U.S. Capitol, one of the pillars of our democracy, attacked on Jan. 6 was a brutal example of our suffering, and it compels us all to action. [..]

That is why I have designated domestic violent extremism as a National Priority Area for the first time, and will require state and local governments to spend 7.5 percent of their DHS grant awards combating this threat. In practice, this means state and local governments nationwide will spend at least $77 million to prevent, prepare for, protect against and respond to domestic violent extremism. Well-established grant guidance clarifies eligible expenses for building these important capabilities. It also ensures the funds are spent in ways that demonstrably contribute to identifiable security needs while upholding our nation’s values.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s failed coup continues: CPAC set to be a celebration of the Capitol insurrection

CPAC sets out to defend Trump’s coup, celebrate his election lies and paint him as the real victim

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off on Thursday, seven weeks and one day after Donald Trump sent a murderous mob to rampage through the Capitol in a final, violence-soaked bid to overturn the presidential election. The annual confab — which has become the central event of the year for Republican politics — not only has no distance from the events of Jan. 6, it is basically shaping up to be a celebration of both the man and the movement that inspired a fascist insurrection. [..]

CPAC will be awash in rhetorical games meant to put a palatable spin on this pro-insurrectionist sentiment. Fascists will be painted as victims of “cancel culture.” Efforts to throw out millions of legal votes will be framed as “concerns” about “fraud.” Trump will be given all the time he wants for a self-pitying stemwinder about how he’s the real victim here — not the Americans he attempted to disenfranchise, nor the Capitol police who died or were injured as a result of his lies, nor the congressional staff traumatized by his mob. And the Republican Party will continue its march away from democracy and towards blatant authoritarianism.

Greg Sargent: Stephen Miller’s shadow war against the Biden agenda, explained

Are we really seeing “kids in cages” redux? Nope. It’s a lie.

When the administration reopened a warehouse-like facility for migrant children in Texas this week, it caused a huge controversy on all sides. It inspired claims, mostly from the right, that President Biden is reverting to former president Donald Trump’s policies, proving Trump right all along.

But those claims are wrong. As such, this controversy reveals something else as well: the shadow war that former Trump adviser Stephen Miller is running against the new administration. [..]

Central to this will be the public battle over migrant children. When the new Texas facility opened, conservatives (Miller included) scoffed that Biden is being forced to resume Trump policies, because efforts to reverse them have collided with reality, vindicating Trump.

All this is nonsense. On migrant children, Biden has not restarted Trump’s policies. What Biden is doing has nothing in common with “kids in cages.” And none of this proves Trump was right in any way. Here’s a quick corrective.

Cartnoon

The “Long Winter” of 1880/81

The winter of 1880/81, popularized by author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 1940 novel “The Long Winter,” was variously described as “the hard winter,” “the black winter,” the “long winter,” the “starvation winter,” or the “snow winter.” Journalist J Mark Powell wrote in January, 2018 “Think you’ve seen severe winter weather? No matter how bad it is where you are, it can’t hold a candle to this, the Mother of All Bad Winters.”

TMC for ek hornbeck

The Breakfast Club ( Where Justice Is Denied)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

Highlights of this day in history: Ferdinand Marcos flees the Philippines; Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounces Josef Stalin; Samuel Colt patents the revolver; Muhammad Ali becomes world boxing champ; Musician George Harrison born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Frederick Douglass

Continue reading

Late Night Today

Late Night Today is for our readers who can’t stay awake to watch the shows. Everyone deserves a good laugh.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Which Way Will You Go, Compromise Joe Manchin?

Sing it with us now! “Gotta have him for a bill to go / What do you want now, Compromise Joe?”

NASA’s Thrilling Mars Landing Is The Good News Pandemic-Weary America Needs

The American people, who have been bombarded by bad news over the past year, were delighted by the thrilling images beamed back from Mars this week as NASA’s Perseverance rover made a successful landing on the Red Planet.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

“Mean Tweets” Threaten Biden Cabinet & DeSantis Gives VIP Vaccines

New car smell contains high levels of carcinogens, Neera Tanden’s OMB nomination falters due to “mean tweets,” and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be giving the vaccine to rich donor friends.

CP Time: The History of Black Journalists

Roy Wood Jr. takes a look at the first African American to co-anchor a network news broadcast, the first Black woman to host a TV show in the South and the first female journalist at the New York Amsterdam News.

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Fox News Lies About the Texas Blackouts as GOP Lies About the Election: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at the Republican Party lying about the Green New Deal and the 2020 election as the U.S. passes a grim coronavirus milestone and Texas experiences an unprecedented power crisis.

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Trump Returns to Tighten Tiny Grip on Republican Party

New Jersey became the 14th state to say yes to legalized cannabis so we came up with a few custom strain names to help them out, President Biden held a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reinvigorate our relationship, a former national security official claims that Trump offered to give North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a ride home on Air Force One, Trump is set to make an appearance at CPAC (the annual conservative political action conference), Lindsey Graham thinks all Republicans should rally around Trump and they have a hell of a lineup set at the conference, Rudy Giuliani tried dodging being served papers for the Dominion lawsuit, Jeff Bezos has expressed interest in buying the Washington Football Team, and Jimmy chats with genius eight-year-old Sophia Rollins who bamboozled everyone by coming up with a very clever way to lock herself out of Zoom so she wouldn’t have to sit through school.

The Late Late Show with James Corden

Who Shoulda Served Rudy His $1B Lawsuit?

James Corden kicks off the show checking in with Ian Karmel who has been experimenting with his top button and new stand-up material after losing a lot of weight. After, James looks at the headlines, including reports Rudy Giuliani tried to dodge being served a lawsuit and Taco Bell entering the fried chicken game.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Karen Tumulty: The people concerned about Neera Tanden’s incivility sure didn’t seem to mind the Trump era’s

Senators should think about how this could affect a future GOP president’s nominees.

It has become a rite of the modern presidential transition: The gods of politics demand a human sacrifice, the Senate torpedoes a nomination, the new administration takes a hit, and everyone moves on.

But the case of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s embattled choice to direct the Office of Management and Budget, presents a new twist.

Tanden is amply qualified for the job. She is not accused of failing to pay her taxes or hiring an undocumented household worker. She is not on the ideological fringes. There has been no scandal in her personal life.

Her supposedly unpardonable sin is . . . incivility. Specifically, she used intemperate language on Twitter. [..]

The sanctimony of Republican senators is newfound and rich, given how unstirred they were by the most powerful social media bully on earth leading their party from the White House for the past four years. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who has declared Tanden “radioactive,” said last June, after Donald Trump tweeted one of his egregiously false conspiracy theories: “You know a lot of this stuff just goes over my head.”

Manchin’s calculation here is a little less obvious. It may be that, coming from one of the reddest states, he feels the need to show some independence from the Biden administration.

But his stated reason, the “toxic and detrimental impact” of Tanden’s “overtly partisan statements,” is hard to take at face value.

Jennifer Rubin: How Merrick Garland should decide whether to prosecute Trump

The incoming attorney general should follow Justice Department guidelines.

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland reiterated at his confirmation hearing Monday that he will not take direction from the White House on prosecutorial decisions. “I would not have taken this job if I thought that politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations,” he said. At another point, he emphasized, “The president made abundantly clear in every public statement . . . that decisions about investigation and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department.”

And so we should consider how he will go about deciding to prosecute the former disgraced president. President Biden will not tell him, and Garland has vowed to ignore public pressure. Fortunately, he will enter an office with a literal manual. [..]

In sum, the decision to prosecute the ex-president for the Capitol attack might be controversial but not difficult. Once elements of the various crimes are established, there is indisputably a federal interest. Likewise, for the events leading to the Capitol attack, there is no alternative jurisdiction or remedy available for the Jan. 6 crimes. Whether it is good or bad to convict former presidents should not enter into Garland’s considerations. (If Biden thinks prosecution would be detrimental to the country, he could choose to pardon the ex-president, although he has said he has no plans to do so.)

If Garland goes by the “book” and decides to prosecute, his stature as an independent, esteemed former judge makes him precisely the right person for the job.

Paul Waldman: Moderate Democrats are unwittingly proving why the filibuster must go

The negotiation over the covid relief bill — which isn’t subject to the filibuster — is just the kind of legislating they say they want.

Supporting the filibuster is no easy task. To do it you have to be willing to set aside not only principles of democracy, majority rule and accountable governance, but also probably your connection to reality itself.

And if you’re a Democrat, you have to be willing to tell your constituents that no issue they care about — not health care or workers’ rights or inequality or immigration or anything else — is as important as maintaining in its current form a Senate procedure that has mostly been used to stop progressive change.

The question of the filibuster is momentarily on the back burner as Congress considers a covid relief bill, which will be passed through reconciliation — a limited, once-yearly tool the majority can use to move certain kinds of legislation. But that question will hang over everything that happens in Congress during Joe Biden’s presidency.

And right now, the very senators who cling most ardently to the filibuster are demonstrating what legislating could be like without it. The post-filibuster future they’re fighting against is, in fact, their own ideal: a situation in which they have tremendous influence, which they use to move legislation in a moderate direction and make bipartisanship possible.

Greg Sargent: How Republicans will sabotage a full accounting of Trump’s insurrection

No amount of magical “bipartisanship” will get Republicans to willingly reckon with their party’s role.

Let’s state this at the outset. If you think the chief obstacle to a full accounting of the mob assault on the Capitol is generalized partisanship, rather than the ongoing radicalization of the Republican Party, then you’re utterly clueless about the reality of this political moment.

Democrats and Republicans are battling over the makeup of a commission that is supposed to examine the Jan. 6 attack. Congressional leaders — led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — are now haggling over what the legislation creating it will look like.

This has caused some hand-wringing about whether a “bipartisan” accounting into the attack is possible, one similar to that produced by the 9/11 Commission, the model for this one.

But it’s hard to see how a bipartisan accounting on the insurrection is possible, especially if it is going to include a full reckoning with Donald Trump’s role in it.

I’ve got new detail on what’s at issue in the argument over the commission, and it appears to involve the scope of what will be examined.

Amanda Marcotte: GOP is still gaslighting about the Capitol riot: Trump’s allies claim coup and QAnon never happened

After the riot comes the gaslighting

Donald Trump’s insurrection failed. While historians will likely debate for decades how close he really came to succeeding, one thing is for certain: His failure has put his most prominent defenders in a tough spot. Instead of lining up to sing the praises of President-for-Life Donald Trump, which is where they want to be, his sycophants are stuck trying to make excuses for, minimize, or deflect attention from Trump’s failure.

First, they tried to minimize Trump’s responsibility for the insurrection. That tactic fell apart after an impeachment trial where the prosecutors made such an airtight case for Trump’s guilt that even people who voted to acquit him pretended it was on a legal technicality, rather than try to argue for his innocence. Now, some folks on the right are trying a new tactic, one you might call the “go big or go home” strategy. Trump’s loudest defenders are now outright denying that the nation saw what we all clearly saw on January 6. [..]

Denying the sky is blue breaks the will of their opponents to argue back. It frees them to spread this lie unchecked until it becomes the received wisdom of the Republican base. Soon, we can expect drunk uncles around the nation to count on their own stubborn unwillingness to admit evidence to “win” arguments over whether the insurrection is real. Who needs facts when you have lies that work by exhausting your opposition?

Cartnoon

ek hornbeck and I traveled through Nova Scotia twice and spent several days in its capital Halifax. The city has a large maritime museum that houses artifacts from the Titanic, which sank in April if 1912 and cemetery where some of the victims are buried but that is just some of the city’s history. On a tour of a two hundred year old brewery, we learned that Halifax has another tragedy that destroyed much of the city killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring over 9000 when two ships, one laden with high explosives collided and exploded in the harbor. The blast was the largest human-made explosion at the time, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT, one of the largest non-nuclear ever to take place.

Mont-Blanc was under orders from the French government to carry her cargo from New York City via Halifax to Bordeaux, France. At roughly 8:45 am, she collided at low speed, approximately one knot (1.2 mph or 1.9 km/h), with the unladen Imo, chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to pick up a cargo of relief supplies in New York. On the Mont-Blanc, the impact damaged benzol barrels stored on deck, leaking vapours which were ignited by sparks from the collision, setting off a fire on board that quickly grew out of control. Approximately 20 minutes later at 9:04:35 am, the Mont-Blanc exploded.

Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the community of Richmond, were obliterated.[4] A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels (including Imo, which was washed ashore by the ensuing tsunami), and scattered fragments of Mont-Blanc for kilometres. Across the harbour, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage.[1] A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of the Mi’kmaq First Nation who had lived in the Tufts Cove area for generations.

Relief efforts began almost immediately, and hospitals quickly became full. Rescue trains began arriving the day of the explosion from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick while other trains from central Canada and the northeastern United States were impeded by blizzards. Construction of temporary shelters to house the many people left homeless began soon after the disaster. The initial judicial inquiry found Mont-Blanc to have been responsible for the disaster, but a later appeal determined that both vessels were to blame. In the North End, there are several memorials to the victims of the explosion.

The people of Nova Scotia are warm friendly and welcoming. It’s a great place to visit after the pandemic is under control.

TMC for ek hornbeck

The Breakfast Club (Don’t Fear The Truth)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

This Day in History

President Andrew Johnson impeached; The Nazi Party holds its first major meeting; Manila liberated during World War II; Britain’s Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer engaged; Lauryn Hill’s Grammy feat.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

As long as the people don’t fear the truth, there is hope. For once they fear it, the one who tells it doesn’t stand a chance. And today, truth is still beautiful… but so frightening.

Alice Walker

Continue reading

Late Night Today

Late Night Today is for our readers who can’t stay awake to watch the shows. Everyone deserves a good laugh.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Ted Cruz Already Made It To His Next Vacation Spot

In a statement, the Senator insisted he was just dropping his daughters off on Mars for a quick vacation.

Ted Cruz’s Favorite President Could Face Jail Time For Tax Fraud

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court will allow state investigators access to the former president’s tax returns, potentially setting up felony charges against the former leader and his family.

Quarantinewhile… Twitch Dubs Over Metallica

Quarantinewhile… Friends of the show Metallica tore the virtual roof off their performance at BlizzCon over the weekend, but some fans streaming on Twitch didn’t get to hear it.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Ted Cruz’s Photo Op & Texans’ Extreme Electric Bills

Senator Ted Cruz hands out water for a photo op, electricity bills across Texas spike, and Cruz changes his tune on government regulation.

US Hits 500K COVID Deaths & People Will Do Anything for a Vaccine

The U.S. surpasses 500,000 coronavirus deaths, a 90-year-old Seattle woman walks six miles in the snow for her vaccine, and two Florida women dress up as grannies to cut the vaccination line

Who Rigged New Zealand’s Bird of the Year Election?

Election fraud is something we’ve come to expect from America, but not beautiful, COVID-free New Zealand. Michael Kosta reports on a rigged election that ruffled the country’s feathers: the Bird of the Year competition.

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Fox News Lies About the Texas Blackouts as GOP Lies About the Election: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at the Republican Party lying about the Green New Deal and the 2020 election as the U.S. passes a grim coronavirus milestone and Texas experiences an unprecedented power crisis.

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Ted Cruz’s Desperate Damage Control, Trump Boys Point Fingers & Daddy Donny’s Tax Returns

The weather has been crazy across the country, on Saturday debris from a United flight headed to Honolulu landed outside of Denver, Ted Cruz continues to do damage control after his stupid trip to Mexico, members of Trump Incorporated are looking to point the finger of blame for the mess in Texas, Greg Kelly of Newsmax devoted a full segment of his show this weekend to Biden’s German Shepherd, fan accounts for the President’s dogs are posting tweets from their point of view, Diamond and Silk have a show on Newsmax where they cover “important” topics, we are one step closer to maybe getting a look at Trump’s tax returns and Don Jr. was sure to comment on it, MyPillow Mike Lindell is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for more than $1.3 billion for falsely claiming that their voting machines were rigged, and Jimmy and Guillermo try the new signature greeting from “The Bachelor.”

The Late Late Show with James Corden

Tax Time Came Early for Trump This Year

After a week off, James Corden is excited to be back in the studio with the team — even though he’s short a drummer for a minute. And James looks at the headlines, including Donald Trump learning he has to hand over his taxes to New York investigators and Dr. Fauci sharing he thinks we’ll be wearing masks for quite a while.

Honest Headlines

James takes a moment to look at some recent actual headlines and what the headline was really trying to say. And James tries to decide how he feels about “Sex and the City” reboot.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Et Tu, Ted? Why Deregulation Failed

Even Senator Cruz realizes kilowatt-hours aren’t like avocados.

Nobody is ever fully prepared for natural disaster. When hurricanes, blizzards or tsunamis strike they always reveal weaknesses — failure to plan, failure to invest in precautions.

The disaster in Texas, however, was different. The collapse of the Texas power grid didn’t just reveal a few shortcomings. It showed that the entire philosophy behind the state’s energy policy is wrong. And it also showed that the state is run by people who will resort to blatant lies rather than admit their mistakes. [..]

The theory was that no such regulation was necessary, because the magic of the market would take care of everything. After all, a surge in demand or a disruption of supply — both of which happened in the deep freeze — will lead to high prices, and hence to big profits for any power supplier that manages to keep operating. So there should be incentives to invest in robust systems, precisely to take advantage of events like those Texas just experienced.

Texas energy policy was based on the idea that you can treat electricity like avocados. Do people remember the great avocado shortage of 2019? Surging demand and a bad crop in California led to spiking prices; but nobody called for a special inquest and new regulations on avocado producers.

In fact, some people see nothing wrong with what happened in Texas in the past week. William Hogan, the Harvard professor widely considered the architect of the Texas system, asserted that drastic price increases, while “not convenient,” were how the system was supposed to work.

But kilowatt-hours aren’t avocados, and there are at least three big reasons pretending that they are is a recipe for disaster.

Eugene Robinson: We’ve lost 500,000 Americans to covid-19. We can prevent the loss of 500,000 more.

It’s hard to struggle on in the face of such loss, and when the end seems near. But we must.

This is a moment of terrible tension. We are reaching an unspeakable milestone: the deaths of half a million Americans from covid-19. At the same time, there is unambiguous good news in the fight against the virus. It is possible, finally, to imagine a day when this devastating pandemic is brought to an end. The progress we’ve made toward defeating covid-19 should sharpen our grief, making it clear how many lives we might have saved had we been unified in our response. But even as we mourn, we cannot despair: There are people who will live if we keep up the hard, lonely work still before us.

Since peaking in early January, the daily tally of new cases in this country has plummeted by more than two-thirds. Hospitalizations, an even more reliable measure of the pandemic since they reflect the number of people suffering from serious disease, are falling, too: Fewer than 60,000 people are hospitalized today with covid-19, as opposed to more than 130,000 for several days last month.

Deaths are a lagging indicator, but those, too, have fallen sharply. On Saturday, according to The Post’s tally, the seven-day daily average of deaths was 1,932 — the first time that figure had fallen below 2,000 since Dec. 4. [..]

But however exhausting it might be, we all have dreary, routine work left to do to combat the virus and to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens. It helps that the federal government now sends a consistent message on the need for the simple measures that are known to prevent transmission of the coronavirus: mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing.

Amanda Marcotte: 500,000 dead Americans: One year of COVID exposes the rot of GOP ideology

Half a million dead and Texas in shambles — Democrats have a real chance to destroy “small government” arguments

The U.S. is expected to cross a grim milestone on Monday that was unimagined by even the worst projections from the beginning of the pandemic nearly one year ago: Half a million dead from COVID-19. And those are just the direct deaths from recorded instances of the disease. Excess mortality rates show that for every two official COVID-19 deaths, there’s another excess death, likely due to myriad related causes, from increased rates of poverty to strains on the health care system to undiagnosed cases. What is clear, however, is that the past year has exposed the rot of GOP ideology that led to such excess death and despair.

While Republicans love to quibble to muddy the waters around pandemic failure assessment, there is no denying that Donald Trump’s approach to the coronavirus — do as little as possible, push for premature re-openings, hide the evidence by discouraging testing — led to hundreds of thousands more dead Americans than we would have seen under a competent administration.

Yet, as tempting as it might be for some to attribute those failures to Trump’s unique combination of laziness and malice towards the public, the situation in Texas is a cold reminder of how well his failures fit with the larger GOP approach to policy. The state is in shambles, laid flat because the power and water systems — poorly managed due to the Republican mania for low regulation — were no match for the kinds of extreme winter storm events that climate change is making more common. Texas’s situation illustrates how Trump’s approach to the pandemic is just one aspect of the Republican approach to everything, which is to say, to neglect government duties in favor of pandering to wealthy interests and to deflect and deny when the consequences inevitably occur. Democrats must now do more to seize the moment.

Jamelle Bouie: How Not to Be at the Mercy of a Trumpified G.O.P.

Barack Obama asked Democrats to kill the filibuster and pass a voting rights bill because it was the right thing to do. There’s a stronger argument.

Obama asked Democrats to kill the filibuster and pass a voting rights bill because it was the right thing to do. But there’s a stronger argument: that if Democrats don’t do this, they’ll be at the mercy of a Trumpified Republican Party that has radicalized against democracy itself. [..]

Devoted to Trump, and committed to his fictions about the election, Republicans are doing everything they can to keep voters from holding them and their leaders accountable. They will restrict the vote. They will continue to gerrymander themselves into near-permanent majorities. A Republican in Arizona has even proposed a legislative veto over the popular vote in presidential elections, under the dubious theory that state legislatures have unconditional, unlimited and unrestricted power to allocate electoral votes.

The good news is that Democrats in Congress have it in their power to stop a lot of this nonsense, to pre-emptively weaken the rising tide of voter suppression. All it takes is a simple vote to make the Senate work according to majority rule, as the founding fathers intended.

The alternative is to allow the supermajority requirement to stand, to allow endless stagnation, to abdicate the authority of Congress to govern the country and tackle its problems, to deny the party of collective action the ability to act for the public good and to give the party of plutocrats and demagogues free rein to twist the institutions of the American republic against its values.

Jennifer Rubin: Can we have unity when Republicans thrive on alienation?

One party is checking out of the American experience.

President Biden issued a plea for national unity in his remarks on Monday commemorating the 500,000 deaths from covid-19. “It’s not Democrats and Republicans who are dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Americans,” he said. “It’s our neighbors and our friends — our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, husbands, wives. We have to fight this together, as one people, as the United States of America.” [..]

Biden, unlike most other presidents faced with tragedy, confronts a peculiar challenge: One party is fueled by alienation, resentment, paranoia and bigotry. The Republican Party — as evidenced by its response to Texas’s energy crisis, its implacable opposition to a substantial rescue plan, its disinterest in rooting out violent White supremacists and its celebration of the Confederacy (the embodiment of anti-union sentiment) — thrives when its base feels animosity toward “elites” (e.g., urbanites, experts, civil rights activists) and is convinced the rest of the country has contempt for them. If they come to believe that the federal government has not “stolen” something from them but rather wants to extend a helping hand the entire ethos of the GOP crumbles.

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