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.

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Paul Krugman: Republicans Keep Flunking Microbe Economics

Getting other people sick isn’t an “individual choice.”

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida said something remarkably stupid the other day. I know, I know: it’s probably harder to find a day on which DeSantis didn’t say something stupid than a day on which he did. But this particular piece of thickheadedness, I’d argue, helps us understand why America’s response to the coronavirus has been so disastrous compared with other wealthy nations.

Florida has, of course, become a Covid-19 epicenter, with soaring case totals and a daily death toll now consistently exceeding that of the whole European Union, which has 20 times its population. But DeSantis won’t contemplate any rollback of the state’s obviously premature reopening; he even refuses to close venues that are perfect coronavirus incubators. [..]

But all this is beside the point. The reason we need to close gyms isn’t to protect the people working out, it’s to protect the other people they might infect. Even gym rats have families, friends, and co-workers; the guy lifting weights might be OK, but the senior citizens who get sick because he spent time hanging out in a petri dish might well die.

This should be obvious. Yet five months and almost 140,000 deaths into this pandemic, many Republicans still can’t or won’t grasp the point that choices have consequences beyond those to the individual who makes them.

Charles M. Blow: Where Is the Outrage?

Americans are getting sick and dying while Trump plays a political game.

It never ceases to amaze me how more people aren’t outraged, shocked and disgusted by Donald Trump’s cruelty and malfeasance.

Nearly 140,000 Americans are now dead because of the Covid-19 pandemic and more than 3,000,000 have contracted the disease. Furthermore, our outlook in this country is dire: Cases are surging and the number of dead continues to climb.

This is still the first wave; a second wave could simply pile on and be catastrophic.

And yet, Trump’s cronies are attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, demanding that all schools reopen in the fall even as the virus rages, and continuing to tell the lie that the reason we have more cases is because we have more tests.

Trump has so completely politicized the pandemic that people now routinely refuse to wear masks in public places, insisting that being compelled to wear them is an infringement on their rights.

Republican lawmakers for their part offer only the mildest contradictions to Trump’s deadly leadership, if they offer any at all.

Michelle Goldberg: In Some Countries, Normal Life Is Back. Not Here.

Trump’s incompetence has wrecked us. Where are the calls for him to resign?

If you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand, the coronavirus nightmare has been mostly over since June. After more than two weeks with no new cases, the government lifted almost all restrictions that month. The borders are still shut, but inside the country, normal life returned.

It’s coming back elsewhere too. Taiwan, where most days this month no new cases have been reported, just held the Taipei Film Festival, and a recent baseball game drew 10,000 spectators. Italy was once the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak and remains in a state of emergency, but with just a few hundred new cases a day in the whole country, bars are open and tourists have started returning, though of course Americans remain banned. According to The New York Times’s figures, there were 321 new cases in all of Canada last Friday.

And America? We had 68,241. As of last week, the worst per capita outbreak on the planet was in Arizona, followed by Florida. The world is closed to us; American passports were once coveted, but now only a few dozen nations will let us in. Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown, told me he doesn’t expect American life to feel truly normal before summer 2022. Two years of our lives, stolen by Donald Trump.

Andrew O’Hehir: Is this what democracy looks like? With federal goons in the streets, history hangs in the balance

Whether the Trump regime’s Portland gambit is purely political or an attempted coup, the danger is enormous

Let’s have the decency not to pretend we weren’t warned about this, shall we? Since virtually the day Donald Trump was elected, if not before that, people like journalist Masha Gessen and historian Timothy Snyder have told us that his presidency would be a sustained assault on democracy, and that America stood at a historical fork in the road, with at least one of the paths leading into darkness. We began to talk about “fascism” and “authoritarianism,” and maybe those terms seemed metaphorical or melodramatic, for a while. Do they seem that way now?

It didn’t feel like the end of democracy, did it? To use Gessen’s language, did it feel like the dangerous moment between the “autocratic attempt” and the “autocratic breakthrough”? Not the way that alarming news reports from Hungary and Russia and Turkey and the Philippines do. The problem is, as history informs us, that we’re not likely to notice such dangerous moments while they’re happening. So the insults and outrages piled up and the news cycle grew ever more discordant and surreal, but there was still takeout and Netflix and Amazon. Life was about the same, for most people most of the time. Maybe it was all an “aberrant moment in time,” in Joe Biden’s immortal phrase. There was no Reichstag fire. There were no troops in the street. Not until now.

Amanda Marcotte: Desperate, Trump and the Republicans will try to win by declaring war on the cities

Trump sends in the troops and Republicans encourage the spread of coronavirus — war on the cities is now for real

Donald Trump is convinced that the reason more American voters aren’t swooning for his racism is because he’s just being too subtle about it. Forget the polling evidence that shows Trump’s overt racism is turning voters off. He just knows, in his heart of hearts, that the fundamental dynamics of American politics haven’t changed since the Reagan administration and voters want him to draw a clear line in the sand on racial politics. So he turned up the dial on Thursday in a bizarre rant during a clearly illegal campaign event disguised as a “press conference” in the Rose Garden.

“The Democrats in D.C. have been and want to at a much higher level abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs,” Trump said, claiming that “your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise” if Democrats get their way.

Even Trump isn’t nutty enough — yet — to seriously suggest that the Democrats have some secret plan to bulldoze the suburbs. What Trump’s talking about, as Jonathan Allen at NBC News explained, is “an Obama-era rule designed to combat racial discrimination in housing.”

Which is to say that Trump’s campaign strategy is to tell white suburbanites that if they don’t vote for him, Black people might move into their neighborhood. What makes suburbs “beautiful,” apparently, is racial segregation.

“His message is clear: ‘Elect me and I’ll keep Black people out of your neighborhoods and out of your schools,'” Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told Allen.

Down in the polls and desperate, Trump and his fellow Republicans have decided to go all-out in trying to stoke a war between rural and suburban areas — imagined as primarily white, which in itself is outdated — and more racially diverse cities. Republicans have long tried to appeal to white voters by painting American cities as terrifying places, and under Trump all subtlety has been stripped away from that pitch, along with any plausible deniability that this is anything but racist fear-mongering.

Instead, with less than four months to go until the election, Trump and his fellow Republicans are declaring war on American cities, and hoping that rural and suburban white people still hate the cities — and the Americans who live in them — so much that they’re willing to ignore the spreading pandemic and the cratering economy to indulge their racist impulses one more time.