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 Can’t Handle the Truth

You shouldn’t be surprised that they’re still backing Trump.

President Trump’s continuing attempts to overturn an election he lost decisively more than a month ago is, like so much of what he’s done in office, shocking but not surprising. Who imagined that he would go quietly?

What some people may not have been fully prepared for is the way Trump’s party as a whole has backed his dangerous delusions. According to a survey by The Washington Post, only 27 Republican members of Congress are willing to say that Joe Biden won. Despite the complete lack of evidence of significant fraud, two-thirds of self-identified Republicans said in a Reuters/Ipsos poll that the election was rigged.

But you really shouldn’t be surprised by this willingness to indulge malicious, democracy-endangering lies. After all, when was the last time Republicans accepted a politically inconvenient fact? It has been clear for years that the modern G.O.P. is a party that can’t handle the truth.

Charles M. Blow: How Black People Learned Not to Trust

Concerns about vaccination are unfortunate, but they have historical roots.

It would appear that the people in American hit hardest by Covid-19 — Black people — are also the group most leery about the prospects of a vaccine.

As a Pew Research report published last week pointed out: “Black Americans are especially likely to say they know someone who has been hospitalized or died as a result of having the coronavirus: 71 percent say this, compared with smaller shares of Hispanic (61 percent), White (49 percent) and Asian-American (48 percent) adults.”

But that same report contained the following: “Black Americans continue to stand out as less inclined to get vaccinated than other racial and ethnic groups: 42 percent would do so, compared with 63 percent of Hispanic and 61 percent of white adults.”

The unfortunate American fact is that Black people in this country have been well-trained, over centuries, to distrust both the government and the medical establishment on the issue of health care.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump lost the election — but his legacy of coronavirus denialism is here to stay

Refusing to wear masks or maintain social distance is part of a larger right-wing assault on the common good

Donald Trump encouraged coronavirus denialism for months for one simple reason: He thought it would help him win re-election. Ever the believer that appearances matter more than reality, Trump felt that as long as people acted like there was no pandemic — by refusing wearing masks and continuing to crowd into public places, especially his rallies — that was as good as there being no pandemic. The mounting death toll and hurricane-like effects on our health care system didn’t matter to him, as long as he could pretend everything was doing well and take credit for it.

That was why I held out hope, in the days after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, that Republicans would finally drop the act and start taking the pandemic seriously. After all, as Heather Digby Parton argued Monday morning at Salon, conservatives have a remarkable ability to discard their current enthusiasms the second they lose political value, and pretend that particular lunacy never happened. (You’d never know from its current behavior how gung-ho the American right was for the Iraq war 15 years ago.) It seemed entirely possible that in the face of rising case counts and Trump’s defeat, the right would suddenly embrace public health measures and begin casually acting as if coronavirus denialism was never really a thing.

Unfortunately for the health of the nation, the opposite has happened. If anything, coronavirus denialism is as powerful a force as it was a month ago, when the media finally called the election for Biden.

Michelle Goldberg: No One Expects Civility From Republicans

What’s worse: making Sarah Sanders leave a restaurant, or terrorizing election officials?

Perhaps you remember the terrible ordeal suffered by the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Red Hen in 2018. She was awaiting her entree at the Virginia farm-to-table restaurant when the co-owner, appalled by Sanders’s defense of Donald Trump’s administration, asked her to leave. This happened three days after the homeland security secretary at the time, Kirstjen Nielsen, was yelled at for the administration’s family separation policy as she tried to dine at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.

These two insults launched a thousand thumb-suckers about civility. More than one conservative writer warned liberals that the refusal to let Trump officials eat in peace could lead to Trump’s re-election. “The political question of the moment,” opined Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal, is this: ‘Can the Democratic Party control its left?’”

Somehow, though, few are asking the same question of Republicans as Trump devotees terrorize election workers and state officials over the president’s relentless lies about voter fraud. Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, described her family’s experience this past weekend: “As my 4-year-old son and I were finishing up decorating the house for Christmas on Saturday night, and he was about to sit down and to watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ dozens of armed individuals stood outside my home shouting obscenities and chanting into bullhorns in the dark of night.”

David Sirota and Julia Rock: Tucked into the Covid-19 stimulus package? Protection for corporations

The proposed legislation would shield corporations from liability if their workers die from Covid-19 in unsafe workplaces

In early October, Harvard researchers sounded an alarm: they released a report showing a pattern of coronavirus deaths surging soon after workers filed requests for workplace safety assistance from the US labor department. The takeaway was clear: workers are desperately begging the government to help protect them from a deadly pandemic, the government has been unresponsive, and lots of workers have subsequently died preventable deaths.

Today, a little more than a month after the study came out, the federal government is finally responding: a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers have announced legislation to shield corporations from lawsuits when their lax safety standards kill more workers.

In practice, the legislation, which is being tucked into a larger Covid relief package, is a holiday-season gift for corporate donors: it would strip frontline workers of their last remaining legal tool to protect themselves in the workplace – at the same time the unemployment system is designed to financially punish those workers if they refuse to return to unsafe workplaces during the pandemic.