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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Michelle Goldberg: After Trump, America Needs Accountability for His Corruption

Restoring the rule of law is not the same as “lock her up.”

Last week, NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked Joe Biden whether, if elected, he could envision Donald Trump being prosecuted. Biden replied that the prosecution of a former president would be a “very, very unusual thing” and probably “not very good for democracy.” The former vice president said he would not stand in the way if the Justice Department wanted to bring a case, but when Garcia-Navarro pressed him, he suggested she was trying to bait him into a version of Trump’s threat against his 2016 opponent: “Lock her up.”

Biden’s reticence is understandable, because a president who runs the White House as a criminal syndicate creates a conundrum for liberal democracy. In a functioning democracy, losing an election should not create legal liability; there was a reason Trump’s “Lock her up” chant was so shocking.

But you can’t reinforce the rule of law by allowing it to be broken without repercussion. After four years of ever-escalating corruption and abuses of power, the United States cannot simply snap back to being the country it once was if Trump is forced to vacate the White House in January. If Biden is elected, Democrats must force a reckoning over what Trump has done to America.

David Cay Johnston: Trump is driving millions of American seniors into poverty

Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic is forcing older workers into permanent hard times

Donald Trump’s inept handling of the coronavirus pandemic is condemning millions of older Americans to get by on much smaller incomes and forcing many into permanent poverty, a new study shows.

These people can anticipate shorter lives with less robust health, while taxpayers will bear the burden of care for many years of increased welfare benefits and subsidies.

The pandemic forced 2.9 million Americans ages 55 to 70 to leave the workforce in just March through June, a study by the Retirement Equity Lab at The New School found.

That’s 50% more than the 1.9 million older workers forced into retirement in the first three months of the Great Recession in 2007. Viewed in percentage terms, 7% of older workers left the labor force in recent months, compared with 4.7% in the Great Recession.

By the end of September, 4 million older workers could be displaced permanently from the job market, the study projects. And if America faces a prolonged recession because of the coronavirus, which is a distinct prospect, that number would continue growing into next year.

Those forced out of work are disproportionately minorities and women, highlighting the structural racism and misogyny in America’s labor and retirement systems.

Months of denial, crazy ideas and incompetence by the Trump administration have resulted in America having by far the highest infection rate among wealthy nations.

Amanda Marcotte: Is QAnon the new Christian right? With evangelicals fading, a new insanity rises

Right-wingers desperately need a myth that turns them into the good guys. With QAnon, they’ve outdone themselves

Remember the “Left Behind” series, about how the Rapture would whisk away all devout right-wing Christians before Jesus Christ unleashed the apocalypse on the unbelievers? Purity rings? Jesus Camp? Breathless stories about “girls gone mild,” giving up sex and tank tops for the Lord? A federal health official who believed that women who had premarital sex couldn’t feel love? Jerry Falwell Sr. and Pat Robertson blaming 9/11 on the “pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way”?

There can be no doubt that the heyday of Christian fundamentalism in America was the George W. Bush administration. Conservatives craved reassurance that they were defenders of “morality”, despite supporting an indefensible invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. These claims to moral superiority over liberals mainly came in the form of policing hymen status, harassing women at abortion clinics and claiming a right to Christian forgiveness (for yourself) when caught with prostitutes or soliciting gay sex in public bathrooms. [..]

White evangelicalism is in decline, but another movement is rising to take its place, a movement that scratches that same right-wing itch towards false piety and elaborate tribalist mythologies that are incomprehensible to outsiders: QAnon.

Charles M. Blow: Kamala Harris’s Cultural Impact

Biden’s pick for vice president comes with important advantages, but also some complexities.

Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and a South Asian mother, both immigrants, is both historic and inspiring.

Biden had an embarrassment of riches among his options. Any of the women among the top contenders, including other Black and Asian women, could have been an impressive choice.

But, Harris comes with the benefit of being tough as nails, a true fighter, and one who has already been tested in this cycle on the trail.

But, it’s important to assess not only the impact of her policy positions and credentials, but also the cultural resonance of her selection. She is the first Black woman in such a position on a major party ticket, one who embraces her mixed race heritage. That comes with important advantages, but also some complexities.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump confesses to voter suppression

President Trump has admitted to intentional voter suppression. The Post reports, “President Trump said Thursday that he does not want to fund the U.S. Postal Service because Democrats are seeking to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, making explicit the reason he has declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the cash-strapped agency.” There is no nuance, no joke. Republicans are firmly opposing free and fair elections — unless they do something about this.

Trump and Republicans have been successful in imposing a raft of measures designed to deter voting (voter ID requirements, limits on early voting, closing poll locations in poor areas, purging voter rolls), but they have usually disguised their activities under the bogus heading of “fraud prevention.” Voter fraud is exceptionally rare, whether in person or by mail. (In recent cases, such as the attempt at fraud by Republican operatives in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, the suspects were caught.) Perhaps Trump forgot that just the other day he was praising voting by mail in Florida. Now, he is apparently content to make it difficult if not impossible for millions of people concerned about their health in the pandemic to vote from home.

The irony, of course, is that Republicans are now spooked about absentee ballots and thereby risk losing out when their own voters cannot get to the polls (or face long lines) on Election Day. That is why many state and local Republican groups are pulling their hair out in response to Trump’s anti-absentee vote rhetoric.