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: Appeasement Got Us Where We Are

It’s time to stand up to the fascists among us.

One shouldn’t use the term “fascist” lightly. It isn’t a catchall for “people you disagree with.” It isn’t even a synonym for “bad political actors.” Mitch McConnell’s brand of politics has, in my view, greatly damaged America; but cynical legislative maneuvers aren’t the same thing as threatening and encouraging violence, and I wouldn’t call McConnell a fascist.

Donald Trump, however, is indeed a fascist — an authoritarian willing to use violence to achieve his racial nationalist goals. So are many of his supporters. If you had any doubts about that, Wednesday’s attack on Congress should have ended them.

And if history teaches us one lesson about dealing with fascists, it is the futility of appeasement. Giving in to fascists doesn’t pacify them, it just encourages them to go further.

So why have so many public figures — who should have known what Trump and his movement were — tried, again and again, to placate them by giving in to their demands? Why are they still doing it even now?

Consider a few milestones on the way to the sacking of the Capitol.

Catherine Rampell RIP, the GOP of ‘Personal Responsibility’

If Republicans will not own their actions that led to the attempted coup, accountability must be forced upon them by voters.

What ever happened to the “personal responsibility” we’ve so often heard Republicans prattle on about?

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and others aided and abetted our authoritarian president, amplifying his lies about voter fraud. White House officials and their confederates in right-wing media have thoroughly brain-poisoned the GOP base, claiming that shadowy forces stole the 2020 election. In so doing, these quislings all helped foment the insurrectionist storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

They should man up and own it.

And yet for their role in Wednesday’s seditious acts, not a whit of personal responsibility is anywhere to be found. In a video released Thursday evening, President Trump claimed to be “outraged” by the mob he himself had beset upon the Capitol. “It is not your fault. It is their fault” came the appalling apologia of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, with the ambiguous “their” seemingly referring to Democrats. Cruz more explicitly blamed random Democrats. Other right-wing personalities and Republican leaders claim the attempted coup was really the work of far-left antifa, even though Capitol rioters were on camera chanting “Trump” and “Stop the Steal” and carrying the Confederate flag. [..]

Let’s review the tape.

Janmelle Bouie: Running Out the Clock on Trump Is Cowardly and Dangerous

Forget the 25th Amendment. It’s Congress that was attacked and Congress that must act.

The most shocking thing about Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol is that it happened. A mob of Trump supporters, some of them armed, stormed and vandalized both chambers of Congress, sending duly-elected lawmakers into hiding and interrupting the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. [..]

Nearly as shocking as the attack itself has been the response from Congress. On Wednesday night, its members resumed their count of the electoral vote and certified Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. So far so good. But then they adjourned into recess. It was Thursday afternoon before the Democratic leadership — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the soon-to-be Senate Majority leader, Chuck Schumer — called for the president’s removal. And even then, they urged the vice president, Mike Pence, to use the 25th Amendment to do it, with impeachment as a backstop.

This is backward. A physical attack on Congress by violent Trump supporters egged on by the president demands a direct response from Congress itself. Impeachment and conviction is that response. To rely on the executive branch to get Trump out of the White House is to abdicate the legislature’s constitutional responsibility to check presidential lawbreaking.

Amanda Marcotte: Ignore Trump’s manipulative damage control: He must be impeached again

Donald Trump can’t be trusted to oversee a peaceful transition of power

Thursday night, a clearly reluctant Donald Trump released a video, promising, “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”

Of course, his focus just the day before was on stoking a violent insurrection, making any hope of an “orderly” — much less a “seamless” — transition of power impossible. It was a little like throwing someone’s pet off a balcony, and then promising that, from here on out, you’re going to be the most responsible of dog sitters.

Still, there is no doubt many will be tempted to believe Trump, especially as it’s only 10 days until the inauguration of Joe Biden removes him from office. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has threatened to impeach trump if Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t remove him through the 25th Amendment procedure. The latter is doubtful to happen, the former likely, but in either case, it takes time. The promise that Trump is done acting out and will be a good little sociopathic narcissist is appealing, because any effort to hold him accountable in this short amount of time is a logistical nightmare. That, however, is what Trump is counting on. [..]

There are many reasons that impeachment must go forward, of course, starting with the fact that it’s important to take a stand, even if it’s just symbolic, against politicians fomenting anti-democratic insurrections. The death of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer who appears to have been murdered by an insurrectionist armed with a fire extinguisher, only heightens the moral necessity of impeachment.

Impeachment is also a matter of prevention.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump can and must be prosecuted

The most serious consequences possible should be pursued.

Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol so stunned the country that we run the risk of not fully processing the unique violation of law that it represents. Imagine not considering whether we should prosecute Islamist terrorists or the Oklahoma bombing terrorists or a mass shooting in a parking lot. The same urgency we would apply in those cases should be applied in holding everyone involved in the attack on the Capitol legally responsible. That includes not only the participants but also all others who incited it.

Not only did the mob’s attack result in deadly violence, it also sought to overthrow our democracy. It was in every sense of the word sedition, as defined in federal law [..]

Once we understand the gravity and uniqueness of the case, we can fully appreciate that not only the direct participants but also those who funded, organized and incited them must be dealt with. If there was a conspiracy (in laymen’s terms, an overt agreement to storm the Capitol), then all members of that conspiracy remain liable for the crimes that ensued.