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: In Praise of Janet Yellen the Economist
She never forgot that economics is about people.
It’s hard to overstate the enthusiasm among economists over Joe Biden’s selection of Janet Yellen as the next secretary of the Treasury. Some of this enthusiasm reflects the groundbreaking nature of her appointment. She won’t just be the first woman to hold the job, she’ll be the first person to have held all three of the traditional top U.S. policy positions in economics — chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, chair of the Federal Reserve and now Treasury secretary.
And yes, there’s a bit of payback for Donald Trump, who denied her a well-earned second term as Fed chair, reportedly in part because he thought she was too short.
But the good news about Yellen goes beyond her ridiculously distinguished career in public service. Before she held office, she was a serious researcher. And she was, in particular, one of the leading figures in an intellectual movement that helped save macroeconomics as a useful discipline when that usefulness was under both external and internal assault.
Before I get there, a word about Yellen’s time at the Federal Reserve, especially her time on the Fed’s board in the early 2010s, before she became chair.
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex: The Losses We Share
Perhaps the path to healing begins with three simple words: Are you OK?
It was a July morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib.
After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.
I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.
Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.
I recalled a moment last year when Harry and I were finishing up a long tour in South Africa. I was exhausted. I was breastfeeding our infant son, and I was trying to keep a brave face in the very public eye.
“Are you OK?” a journalist asked me. I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many — new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering. My off-the-cuff reply seemed to give people permission to speak their truth. But it wasn’t responding honestly that helped me most, it was the question itself.
“Thank you for asking,” I said. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”
Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, “Are you OK?”
Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent: Trump wages war on our country and the rule of law one last time
Michael Flynn becomes the latest in a line of Trump’s criminals and thugs to escape accountability.
In a move no less appalling for it being no surprise, President Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, his disgraced former national security adviser. Add him to the rogue’s gallery — among them Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, Rod Blagojevich, Bernard Kerik and Roger Stone — of criminals and reprobates to whom Trump has given executive clemency, their loyalty and obsequiousness winning them an escape from full accountability for their misdeeds.
But Flynn stands apart from the rest, because his whole story contains so much of the Trump era in microcosm.
And in pardoning Flynn, Trump has waged what may be his final biggest act of war on our country [..]
Yet while Trump has been off spinning these fantasies and preparing to pardon his cronies, it has fallen to President-elect Joe Biden to urge Americans to take precautions against the coronavirus pandemic during the holiday, stepping into the leadership role that Trump has refused to fill himself for most of the year, to extraordinarily destructive and catastrophic effect.
Fortunately, Trump’s single most ambitious assault on this country and the rule of law failed. But, for now, we can only hope that the Flynn pardon is the very worst act of retributive warfare he intends to wage against the country before he’s gone.
Joshua Craze and Ainsley LeSure: Republicans are right: democracy is rigged. But they are the beneficiaries
Conservatives relish the irony of Trump’s audacious reversal of the truth around rigging – because it distracts attention from their minority rule
The Republican establishment, despite being unfairly advantaged by the skewed composition of the electoral college, by over-representation in the House due to partisan gerrymandering and in the Senate due to equal State suffrage, has been in no hurry to reject Donald Trump’s ludicrous allegation that the American electoral system is rigged to favor Democrats. Sweating the make-or-break Georgia runoffs, the party’s leaders are apparently frightened to cross the mad king, who owns their voters, lest he cause their ratings to plummet as he is doing with Fox News. But Republican complicity with this unprecedented attack on American democracy is not a matter of short-term expediency or fear of reprisals. It is much worse than that. Mitch McConnell and the others are not merely humoring the president until his mania subsides. Trump’s voters are the Republicans’ voters and the Republican party cannot easily cut them, and their deranged conspiracy theories, loose even after 20 January.
This has important implications for how Biden should respond to the incalculable damage Trump has inflicted on the country, including how his Department of Justice approaches the restoration of the rule of law.