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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Robert Reich: Americans’ acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy

Trump has brought impunity to the highest office in the land, wielding a wrecking ball to American democracy

Most of the 74,222,957 Americans who voted to re-elect Donald Trump – 46.8%of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election – don’t hold Trump accountable for what he’s done to America.

Their acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy.

Nearly forty years ago, political scientist James Q Wilson and criminologist George Kelling observed that a broken window left unattended in a community signals that no one cares if windows are broken there. The broken window is thereby an invitation to throw more stones and break more windows.

The message: do whatever you want here because others have done it and got away with it. [..]

Trump has brought impunity to the highest office in the land, wielding a wrecking ball to the most precious windowpane of all – American democracy.

The message? A president can obstruct special counsels’ investigations of his wrongdoing, push foreign officials to dig up dirt on political rivals, fire inspectors general who find corruption, order the entire executive branch to refuse congressional subpoenas, flood the Internet with fake information about his opponents, refuse to release his tax returns, accuse the press of being “fake media” and “enemies of the people”, and make money off his presidency.

And he can get away with it. Almost half of the electorate will even vote for his reelection.

William J. Barber II and Liz Theoharis: What Biden and Harris Owe the Poor

They must reject the politics of austerity and fulfill their commitment to policies that address human needs.

Before he was elected in November, Joe Biden promised that his “theory of change” for reforming the economy would be “ending poverty.” He pledged to champion a $15 minimum wage, affordable health care for all and federal action to address systemic racism. In the midst of an economic crisis, a pandemic and an uprising for racial justice, low-income Americans — Black, white, brown, Asian and Native — voted to overwhelm a reactionary base that President Trump had stoked with lies and fear.

As Democrats have argued about losses in congressional districts that saw a surge of Mr. Trump’s base, some have suggested the Biden administration’s mandate is to compromise with Republican demands. But Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris’s victory depended on the turnout of a diverse coalition that wants economic and racial justice, and deserves bold policy solutions.

Michelle Goldberg: Trump’s Most Disgusting Pardons

Blackwater mercenaries committed a massacre. Now they’ll go free.

The youngest victim of the 2007 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, committed by Blackwater mercenaries whom Donald Trump pardoned on Tuesday, was a 9-year-old boy named Ali Kinani. [..]

Eventually three of the Blackwater guards, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and other charges. A fourth, Nicholas Slatten, was convicted of murder and last year sentenced to life in prison. Kinani moved to America and became a citizen, though he was back in Iraq when the BBC reached him on Wednesday. Until just days ago, he’d felt that the legal system in the United States had been “very fair with me,” he said.

Then came Tuesday’s pardon spree, which included the Blackwater killers along with some Russiagate felons, corrupt ex-congressmen and others. It was perhaps not surprising that the president acted to free the mercenaries; Trump’s enthusiasm for war crimes is well known, and last year he pardoned three men accused or convicted of them. Because of Biden’s words in 2010, some conservatives called the perpetrators of the Nisour Square massacre the “Biden four,” giving Trump an extra incentive to let them go. Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater, is a close Trump ally and the brother of his education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Neither the predictability of these pardons, however, nor our dulled capacity for shock, lessens their grotesqueness. The last days of Trump’s reign have been an orgy of impunity, as he hands out indulgences like party favors and rubs America’s face in his power to put his supporters beyond ordinary law.

Amanda Marcotte: Remember that stupid thing Donald Trump did? Hard as it is to pick, here are the top 10

Donald Trump is a dull, nasty and childish man — but his legacy of amazing idiocy will be long remembered

We’re tentatively starting to emerge from the four year-long national nightmare of Donald Trump’s presidency, but the reckoning of what the nation endured will take years to really understand. Trump was terrible in so many ways that it’s hard to catalog them all: His sociopathic lack of regard for others. His towering narcissism. His utter ease with lying. His cruelty and sadism. The glee he took in cheating and stomping on anything good and decent. His misogyny and racism. His love of encouraging violence, only equaled by his personal cowardice.

But of all the repulsive character traits in a man so wholly lacking in any redeemable qualities, perhaps the most perplexing to his opponents was Trump’s incredible stupidity. On one hand, it was maddening that a man so painfully dumb, a man who clearly could barely read — even on those rare occasions when he deigned to wear glasses — still had the low cunning necessary to take over the Republican Party and then the White House.

On the other hand, it was the one aspect of Trump’s personality that kept hope alive. Surely a man so stupid, his opponents believed, will one day blunder so badly he can’t be saved, even by his most powerful sycophants. That has proved to be the case as Trump fumbles his way through a failed coup, unable and unwilling to see that stealing the election from Joe Biden is a lost cause.

Trump’s unparalleled idiocy gave us a few laughs along the way, which we sorely needed in those troubled times. With that in mind, here’s a list of the 10 most jaw-droppingly stupid moments of Trump’s White House tenure.

Paul Waldman: Trump is growing smaller before our eyes

Defeated and pathetic, he has never looked more likely to fade into irrelevance.

Cementing his status as quite possibly the worst deal-maker ever to sit in the Oval Office, President Trump once again created a crisis, made some impulsive demands, then backed down at the last minute without actually obtaining anything other than some increased suffering for millions of Americans.

His overdue capitulation in signing the bill that provides pandemic relief and keeps the government open was a vivid illustration of how weak Trump has become. And this episode might contain a silver lining: It might preview how Trump could fade into irrelevance in the coming few years, becoming not the continuing agent of chaos many fear, but instead a pathetic figure who is easier to ignore than we thought. [..]

For the next four years, Biden will be president. It will be his face on the nightly news and his actions on the front page of the newspaper. He will command both attention and power. And Trump? With no ability to make decisions with more practical importance, he might appear smaller than ever by comparison.

The truth is that both of these futures are possible. In one, Trump remains the leader of the opposition and a president-in-exile, his every outburst celebrated by millions of fans and his control of the GOP unchallenged. In the other, he grows smaller and smaller, his miserable complaints about the unfairness of it all only repelling people from him. We don’t know yet which will come to pass, but the second future is obviously far brighter for the rest of us. And it has never looked more likely.