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: The G.O.P. Plot to Sabotage 2021

Republicans are already acting as if there’s no next year.

Nobody knows for sure who will win in November. Joe Biden holds the advantage right now, but between the vagaries of the Electoral College and whatever October surprises the Trumpists cook up — you know they’re coming — who knows?

One thing that’s clear, however, is that Republicans — not just Donald Trump, but his whole party — are acting as if there’s no tomorrow. Or, more precisely, they’re acting as if there’s no next year.

And this means that if Biden does win, he will have to govern in the face of what amounts to nonstop policy sabotage from his political opponents.

To see what I mean about acting as if there’s no next year, consider the large (and illegal) indoor rally Trump held Sunday in Nevada.

Before the release of Bob Woodward’s new book, you might have argued that Trump doesn’t believe the science and didn’t realize that his event might well sicken and kill many people. But we now know that he’s well aware of the risks, and has been all along. He just doesn’t care.

Eugene Robinson: The world is burning and drowning. We have to vote for the planet’s future.

Don’t let the urgent obscure the existential.

The sky over the San Francisco Bay area glowed red-orange last week, as though the region had been transplanted to Mars. People along much of the West Coast sheltered indoors because the air was filled with smoke from unprecedented, hellish wildfires that so far have claimed dozens of lives. More than 10 percent of all Oregon residents were told to evacuate their homes, and the state’s chief emergency management planner warned of a possible “mass fatality incident.”

Fire wasn’t the only element turning against us. For only the second time on record, five tropical cyclones are swirling in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time — including Hurricane Sally, which is gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico and aiming at vulnerable New Orleans and Mississippi.

These catastrophes horribly illustrate the stakes in the coming election: at risk is the future of our beautiful, fragile planet. The choice facing voters who care about that future could not be more stark. Democratic nominee Joe Biden accepts the scientific consensus about climate change and wants the United States to lead the world in a transition to clean energy. President Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and encouraged greater production and burning of “beautiful, clean coal.”

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s big lies reveal a truth: Right-wing science denial was never about ignorance, just cruelty

Conservatives have been gaslighting the public about science for decades. Now we’re reaping the consequences

Are they stupid or evil?

When I first started writing about politics, way back in the George W. Bush era, this was a legitimate question when it came to trying to understand the mindset of Republicans, especially when it came to their stubborn refusal to accept scientific truths. Republicans have denied or cast doubt on science in so many ways — denying that condoms are effective, that evolution is real, that climate change is actually happening and largely caused by human activity — and many liberals and progressives have felt legitimately confused about exactly why.

Was it that right-wingers were too ignorant or benighted to accede to scientific realities? Or was it more sinister than that: They knew full well what the science said, but were too selfish and cruel to care, and also selfish and cruel enough to lie about it to our faces?

Well, with the West Coast on fire, a pandemic spreading across the land, and a pathological liar in the White House as the Republican standard-bearer, I think we can consider that debate settled: It’s not ignorance. It’s malice.

The cruelty, as Adam Serwer of The Atlantic famously wrote, is the point.

Jamelee Bouie: Trump’s Perverse Campaign Strategy

If the president’s allies are talking about the moment “shooting will begin” and “martial law,” it’s not by accident.

On Sunday, Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, warned of left-wing insurrectionists and “sedition” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a video he hosted live on his Facebook page. After predicting victory for President Trump in the upcoming election, Caputo warned that Joe Biden wouldn’t concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

Ordinarily, in a presidential election year, the main story of American politics is the election — its twists and turns, its ups and downs. This year, that story is hard to convey. Part of the reason for this is that the race itself is unremarkable, despite everything else that’s happening around it. Biden is ahead, most voters have made up their minds and Trump has a narrow path to re-election, with few opportunities to recover lost ground.

The larger, more important factor is that Trump isn’t actually running for re-election — or at least, not running in the traditional manner. He has a campaign, yes, but it is not a campaign to win votes or persuade the public outside of a few, select slivers of the electorate. Instead, it’s a campaign to hold on to power by any means necessary, using every tool available to him as president of the United States. Caputo, in that sense, is only taking cues from his boss.

Paul Waldman: Why even a Biden presidency might see a period of heightened violence

Trump glorifies violence and says authority is illegitimate if exercised by Democrats. So what happens if Biden wins?

Many election observers are terrified about what will happen as we try to determine who won the presidential election, as the counting drags out for days or even weeks and President Trump claims that he won and any result that indicates otherwise could only be produced by fraud.

That is indeed something to worry about. But even if Trump loses, and even if he departs the White House without having to be frog-marched out the door by federal officers, we could very well be in for an extended period of division, chaos, and even deadly violence under a Joe Biden presidency.

Whether it was his intention or not, Trump may have prepared the ground for an absolutely nightmarish period in American history, one that will make the angry divisiveness of the past few years seem civil by comparison.

Trump has done this by propagating an ideology that characterizes institutional authority as legitimate only when it is controlled by him and those sympathetic to him; insists that any outcome of the democratic process should be rejected if it is not the one you wanted; paints the other party as not merely opponents but as a force that literally wants to kill you and destroy your country; and valorizes individual violence.

Trump glorifies violence and says authority is illegitimate if exercised by Democrats. So what happens if Biden wins?