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: Lies, Damned Lies and Trump Rallies

Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?

Donald Trump lies a lot. In fact, he lies so often that several media organizations try to keep a running tally, and even try to draw political inferences from fluctuations in the number of lies he tells in a given month (although the trend has been relentlessly upward). [..]

But Trump’s recent lies have been different.

On Tuesday the White House science office went beyond Trump’s now-standard claims that we’re “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus and declared that one of the administration’s major achievements was “ending the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Who was that supposed to convince, when almost everyone is aware not only that the pandemic continues, but that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging? All it did was make Trump look even more out of touch. [..]

What’s scary about all this isn’t just the possibility that Trump may yet win — or steal — a second term. It’s the fact that almost his entire party, and tens of millions of voters, seem perfectly willing to follow him into the abyss.

Indeed, current Republican strategy is almost entirely based on trying to scare voters about bad things that aren’t happening — like a vast wave of anarchist violence sweeping America’s cities — while not noticing bad things that really are happening, like the pandemic and climate change.

This strategy may or may not work; this year it probably won’t. But either way, it will poison America’s political life for many years to come.

Alan Alda: I cannot remain silent as Trump rejects science and endangers lives

Alan Alda is an actor, writer and co-founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

Almost 63 million people voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but in 1983, more than 106 million people watched the last episode of “M.A.S.H.” So, it seems that by this president’s standard, I’m a bigger deal than he is.

But I don’t write here as a formerly famous person; I write just as a citizen who might have something in common with you. After spending a decade doing everything I could to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified, I made a decision 37 years ago to keep much quieter in public about my political opinions. If I was going to make a contribution, it should be by doing what I was good at: writing and acting.

Since then, I’ve found that one of the things I’m also good at is helping scientists communicate more clearly. I’ve helped train more than 15,000 scientists around the world, so science is important to me — as it is to all of us. We swim in a sea of science, and perhaps, like fish who take water for granted, we take science for granted. But without it, we would stop breathing.

Which is where we are now. Science is at stake, as is our very breath.

Stephen King: I’ve come to understand what 2016 Trump supporters wanted.

Stephen King is the author, most recently, of the novella collection “If It Bleeds.”

It’s not 2016 anymore.

As Americans prepare to go to the polls, they are facing a crossroads moment like no other in the nation’s history. One fork leads to Trump and a validation of the id and all the dark beliefs it harbors. The other fork leads to Biden. A vote for Biden isn’t a vote for the superego — Biden is not blameless — but it’s at least a vote for the ego: the part of us that is rational and willing to take responsibility (however reluctantly) for individual actions and societal ills.

It took me four years, but I get where Annie was coming from in 2016, and I get where all those yelling, unmasked, red-hatted partisans at Trump’s rallies are coming from. I understand the desire to kick over the apple cart and then just walk away. But I also understand the need to move forward in a rational, if sometimes plodding and painful, manner. Trump kicked over the cart. Millions of American voters helped him. Biden is promising to right it again … but we’ll all have to pick up the apples.

Amanda Marcotte: In the last days of the campaign, Trump wallows in his contempt for his supporters

It’s no surprise that Trump thinks his supporters are a bunch of morons. Now he isn’t even pretending any longer

Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, has paid her bootlicking dues. She’s repeatedly gone out of her way to show obeisance to Donald Trump, most famously in January when she yelled “liberal hack” repeatedly at a CNN reporter who asked her if the Senate should consider evidence before rushing to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial.

But despite years of bowing and scraping and, of course, voting to acquit Trump despite his obvious guilt, McSally has earned no loyalty in return from her orange master. She’s in a tough race against former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, and has consistently trailed in the polls. At a recent Arizona rally, Trump didn’t bother to hide his disdain for McSally’s standard political desire to address her own potential voters. [..]

Trump gets away with this because Republicans have treating their own people like a bunch of suckers for years, which is why right wing media is awash in conspiracy theories and snake-oil salesmen. They get away with it because their marks always assume, like good marks should, that they’re in on the con, and that somebody else is the sucker. So when Trump insults his own voters right to their faces, telling them they live in some Podunk burg he hoped he’d never have to visit again, many in the crowd are thinking, “He’s not talking about me, but these other yahoos.”

In truth, those folks are the biggest suckers of all, imagining that they’re the exception to Trump universal contempt. He really does see his supporters as a herd of gullible idiots. By swallowing it and voting for him anyway, they’re only confirming his worst assumptions.

Robert Kagan: It’s up to the people to foil Trump’s plot against democracy

Anyone who believes they have America’s best interests at heart isn’t paying attention.

As American democracy hurtles toward what could be its final crisis, we continue to hope that someone will ultimately rise up to save us, that somehow our institutions will protect us, that people in positions of authority will finally do the right thing. This faith in the resilience of democracy is endearing, but unfortunately all it has done these past four years is blind and paralyze us. Believing that the only problem was President Trump and his authoritarian inclinations, we have looked to those around him — in the White House, in the Justice Department, in Congress and in the courts — to control and contain him, presumably out of some innate love of democracy.

It did not occur to us that men and women with respectable résumés might be just as willing to subvert the democratic system as Trump himself, as if U.S. officials alone were immune from the temptations of power. The consequence of this self-delusion is that we have now almost run out of chances to stop them. [..]

Now all we have left is the people. The voters, for all their failings, may prove more trustworthy than their supposed guardians. They may deliver us by delivering an irrefutable landslide to Biden. Or, failing that, by going out into the streets in an American version of “people power” to foil the plot against their democracy. A republic, if we can save it.