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: Trump Tries to Kill Covid Relief

Is it ignorance, or is it cynicism?

The next few months will be terrible. Several thousand Americans are now dying from Covid-19 every day; given the lag between cases and deaths, the daily toll will almost certainly rise through the end of this year, and if people are careless over Christmas it could surge even higher in the new year. Economic recovery has stalled, with employment still down almost 10 million from pre-pandemic levels.

The most we can hope for at this point are policies that mitigate the suffering, getting us through the horror while we wait for widespread vaccination. And a few days ago it seemed possible that we would in fact get some good news on the economic front. A bipartisan group of senators seemed close to agreement on a Covid relief bill that would fall far short of what we should be doing, but would be much better than nothing.

Then the lame-duck Trump administration intervened — destructively.

Richard A. Friedman, MD: We Must Do More to Stop Dangerous Doctors in a Pandemic

Some have crossed the line from free speech to medical practice — or something akin to malpractice.

It’s bad enough when our political leaders promote quack theories about coronavirus and its treatment; but what do we do about the doctors who enable them and use their medical authority to promote pseudoscience?

Take Scott Atlas, a former Stanford University radiologist with no training or expertise in public health or infectious disease. As President Trump’s special adviser on coronavirus, he cast doubt on the efficacy of face masks, long after science had confirmed their efficacy. He was a staunch proponent of herd immunity — a recommendation that would almost certainly have resulted in vast mortality.

And on Dec. 8, Ron Johnson, the Republican senator of Wisconsin, known for his allegiance to fringe theories, called two doctors with such beliefs to testify before his committee.

One was Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist in Washington who said that “masks do not work” and that “social distancing doesn’t work.” In fact, there is indisputable scientific evidence that both are effective in preventing or limiting the spread of coronavirus. [..]

When doctors use the language and authority of their profession to promote false medical information, they are not simply expressing their own misguided opinions. Rather, they have crossed the line from free speech to medical practice — or, in this case, something akin to malpractice.

Amanda Marcotte: Republicans want more than a coup: Trump’s loyalty test exposes their hatred for democracy

More than half of House Republicans and 17 GOP attorneys general have outed themselves as traitors

When Texas attorney general Ken Paxton first filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court demanding that all the votes of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — 10.4 million votes in total — be thrown out completely, the general media response was to call it a stunt. Paxton is under investigation for an alleged bribery scheme, and observers speculated that, by filing this ridiculous lawsuit, he is trawling for a presidential pardon from Donald Trump, whose recent pardon of his crony Michael Flynn has instilled hope among other GOP lowlifes that they can bribe Trump to do the same for them.

Yet even though this suit is widely dismissed as a joke, a slew of other elected Republicans joined the lawsuit on Thursday, lending support to Paxton’s argument that red states should be able to overturn the results of an election that didn’t end well for Republicans. So far, 17 Republican state attorneys general and 106 Republicans in the House of Representatives — more than half the GOP caucus — have signed onto amicus briefs supporting Paxton’s absurd demands that all the votes of the residents of these four states be destroyed. Six states have asked to join Paxton’s lawsuit directly. On Monday, only a couple of House Republicans — mainly Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — were willing to openly support Trump’s efforts to steal the election. Now it’s the majority of the House GOP caucus.

In doing so, these Republicans have outed themselves as opponents of democracy. There is no other way to read this, and no wiggle room to pretend otherwise. This isn’t about “voter fraud” or any of the other bad-faith gambits that Trump and his supporters are throwing out as distractions. It’s about throwing out entire state elections because they favored a Democrat.

Jamelle Bouie: The ‘Trump Won’ Farce Isn’t Funny Anymore

Republicans are now seriously arguing that elections are legitimate only when their side wins.

To tell a joke to a crowd is to learn a little something about the people who laugh.

For our purposes, the “joke” is President Trump’s ongoing fight to overturn the election results and hold on to power against the wishes of most Americans, including those in enough states to equal far more than the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

“#OVERTURN,” he said on Twitter this week, adding in a separate post that “If somebody cheated in the Election, which the Democrats did, why wouldn’t the Election be immediately overturned? How can a Country be run like this?”

Unfortunately for Trump, and fortunately for the country, he has not been able to bend reality to his desires. Key election officials and federal judges have refused his call to throw out votes, create chaos and clear a path for the autogolpe he hopes to accomplish. The military has also made clear where it stands. “We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a speech not long after the election.

But there are others who — out of partisanship, opportunism or a simple taste for mayhem — have chosen to support the president’s attack on American democracy. They refuse to acknowledge the president’s defeat, back lawsuits to throw out the results, and spread lies about voter fraud and election malfeasance to Republican voters. They are laughing at Trump’s joke, not realizing (or not caring) that their laughter is infectious.

Michelle Goldberg: Covid Meds Are Scarce, but Not for Trump Cronies

Rudy Giuliani got monoclonal antibodies. You probably can’t.

According to a document from the Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 108 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail have been allocated to Washington, which had 265 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday alone. Somehow Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer, got one of those doses. In an interview with a New York radio station on Tuesday, Giuliani did us all the favor of explaining why he qualified for privileged treatment. [..]

In October, Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and an informal adviser to the president, got a different monoclonal antibody treatment, one produced by Eli Lilly. Housing Secretary Ben Carson wrote on Facebook that Trump “cleared” him to receive monoclonal antibody therapy when he was hospitalized with Covid-19 last month.

Some of these men received their treatments before they were available to the public. Giuliani may have got his instead of a member of the public. His case sheds light on two kinds of corruption. There’s the corruption of an administration that appears to be using government power to procure potentially lifesaving favors for the president’s friends. And there’s the corruption of a for-profit medical system in which V.I.P. patients can receive extraordinary levels of care, sometimes at the expense of the less connected.