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: No compromising with the GOP cult

There is no longer a “center” in American politics

I keep hearing that Joe Biden has to govern from the “center.” He has no choice, they say, because he has razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican Party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. First, there is no “center” between the reality-based world and the conspiracy-fueled, hate-filled world of today’s Republican Party. Second, the problems the country is facing cannot be solved with milquetoast, centrist solutions — they demand immediate, bold action.

I’ve been in or around politics for 50 years. I’ve served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I’ve dealt with.

Today’s Republican Party is a cult.

93 percent of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection, and Senate Republicans refuse to convict him. This is after Trump’s insurrection threatened even their own lives.

The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are facing backlash from their colleagues, with some even calling to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position.

But hardly any have condemned the vile conspiracy theories spouted by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has claimed that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were “false flags” and that the deadly California wildfires were sparked by a Jewish space laser, among other wild lies.

All of this marks the culmination of the GOP’s growing lunacy over the last four years. With Trump at its head, the Republican Party has embraced blatant white supremacy, and now inhabits a counterfactual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

Amanda Marcotte: GOP response to the Texas winter storms steals directly from Trump’s sadistic COVID-19 playbook

Texas Republicans try to troll their way through a disaster

Donald Trump may be gone, having left behind a pandemic that has killed nearly 500,000 Americans, due to his malicious incompetence. Still, his spirit of governing the people like you hate them and want them to die lives on in the Republican Party and its propaganda apparatus, Fox News. Just take a look at the GOP response to the crisis in Texas, which has been buried under blizzards so bad that “unseasonable” is a comical understatement. The ice and snow has caused the power grid in the state to collapse, leaving millions of Texans without power and heat in deadly conditions. Rather than deal with the problems with maturity and grace, however, Texas’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his allies are taking a page directly from Trump’s coronavirus response playbook by abandoning people while exploiting the situation to push a far-right, authoritarian agenda that will only make the problems much worse.

Just as Trump’s response to the pandemic suggested he was rooting for the coronavirus, Abbott and company are using this natural disaster to fight for a future with more natural disasters.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott sneered on Fox News Tuesday night, blaming “[o]ur wind and our solar” and insisting that it “just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.” This is, of course, the opposite of true. [..]

Not only is Abbott’s trolling response to this crisis only going to make the problem worse, but it’s also flat-out lying.

As the Electric Reliability Council of Texas pointed out, frozen turbines were the smallest contributor to the Texas blackout problem. Instead, the problems are largely due to Republican governance and the conservative philosophy of letting government services rot instead of keeping them updated and working. Indeed, it’s the natural gas system — one of the fuels Abbott was hyping with his troll-the-liberals approach — that has been the primary source of the blackout problem in Texas.

Eugene Robinson: Let’s leave the 45th president behind and focus on what’s ahead

Don’t let a self-obsessed ex-president hold you captive.

The time has come to leave the sins and wickedness of the 45th president to the criminal justice system — and to turn attention and energy to the challenges and opportunities that face the 46th. Allowing ourselves to be held captive by the past four years serves no one except a certain self-obsessed ex-president. Better to spend that energy where it can make an actual difference.

Impeachment is history. House managers made a vivid, compelling case that the previous president incited an insurrection. Republican senators tried to use a technicality to weasel out of doing their duty. Afterward, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to have it both ways with some righteous-sounding but utterly meaningless words. Democrats were correct to pursue a second impeachment. If we don’t impeach a president for inciting a mob to storm the Capitol in an attempt to void an election and cling to power, then the impeachment clause of the Constitution has no meaning.

But nothing about this outcome is surprising, so why belabor it? [..]

Let’s give the Justice Department the responsibility to identify, and file charges against, those who planned and financed the Capitol insurrection. Let prosecutors in New York and Georgia continue the investigations into the former president’s actions and business dealings that they’ve already begun. Let civil lawsuits work their way through the various court systems.

Greg Sargent: As the GOP war over Trump gets worse, Democrats have a big opening

How Trumpism’s descent into madness provides an opportunity for Democrats to exploit.

The rage-addled statement that Donald Trump has fired at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plunged the GOP into worsening infighting. But as Republicans reacted to the former president’s missive, it also revealed a glaring tension in the story they are telling about his legacy.

It’s a tension that Democrats can exploit to their advantage.

The tension is this: On one hand, Republicans widely acknowledge that Trump cost them the House, Senate and White House. On the other, they continue to hail the Trump presidency as a great triumph — not just on policy, but a political success as well. [..]

Samuel Hammond, a policy analyst at the Niskanen Center, points out that the promise of Trumpism, at least in its respectable version, was supposed to be partly that it offered “bold policies” to problems such as “the decline in working-class jobs.”

Instead, Hammond notes, Trumpism has devolved into “conspiracy theories all the way down and hatred of the leftist enemy.”

“What that means,” Hammond concluded, “is that Democrats have space to occupy that vacuum and in some ways be more authentically populist than Trump or Trumpism ever could be.”

Jennifer Rubin: Texas shows that when you cannot govern, you lie. A lot.

Republicans were not prepared for this disaster.

Incompetence is not the purview of one party. But when you view politics as theater and grievance-mongering, chances are you are going to shortchange governance. Elect a president with no public-sector experience, no interest in learning, no desire to hire competent people and no ability to accept responsibility, and you get something like the covid-19 debacle. Moreover, if your party is hostile to government and exercising regulatory power because it is beholden to a donor class and right-wing ideologues, you will not be prepared for disasters when they strike.

And that brings us to Texas. The Post reports, “As millions of people across Texas struggled to stay warm Tuesday amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed his ire at one particular failure in the state’s independent energy grid: frozen wind turbines.” There is one problem: That is not remotely true (as you might have guessed from a state with an enormous oil and gas sector). “The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines.”