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: The Paradox of Pandemic Partisanship

Many Republicans consider Biden illegitimate — and support his plans.

President Biden’s Covid-19 relief proposal remains incredibly popular; if anything, it’s getting more popular as it barrels through Congress. Multiple polls show that something like 70 percent of Americans approve of the $1.9 trillion plan. It’s almost twice as popular as the Republican tax cut of 2017; it’s more popular than the Obama stimulus of 2009; it’s hard to believe now, but the Biden plan is more popular than Medicare was in the months before it passed in 1965.

Big business has also come on board: More than 150 senior executives at major companies have written congressional leaders urging enactment of Biden’s plan.

It’s not too hard to see why Democrats and independents like the plan. What I’m trying to understand is something that seems like a political paradox. Namely, how is it possible that so many Republicans approve of the plan?

Why is Republican support for Biden’s economic plans a puzzle? Because most of the Republican rank and file believe (based on nothing but lies) that the election was stolen. So we’re in a peculiar position where a substantial number of voters don’t believe Biden has the right to be running the country, but effectively approve of the way he’s running it, at least in terms of economic policy.

Michelle Goldberg: The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness

How the right is trying to censor critical race theory.

It’s something of a truism, particularly on the right, that conservatives have claimed the mantle of free speech from an intolerant left that is afraid to engage with uncomfortable ideas. Every embarrassing example of woke overreach — each ill-considered school board decision or high-profile campus meltdown — fuels this perception.

Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

Jamelle Bouie: The Deep South Has a Rich History of Resistance, as Amazon Is Learning

Alabama is more than its shading on the electoral map.

The Deep South is not generally known for its labor agitation, which is why it might come as a surprise for some to learn that it is in Alabama where workers have mounted one of the largest and most aggressive efforts to unionize Amazon in recent memory.

More than 2,000 workers at a fulfillment center in the city of Bessemer, just outside Birmingham, have indicated support for a union election. An estimated 85 percent of the work force is Black, and their union drive — which ties labor issues to Black Lives Matter and issues of racial equality — illustrates the extent to which racism and class exploitation are tied up with each other.

The size, scope and sophistication of the union drive in Bessemer should complicate commonly held ideas of Alabama and the Deep South as backward and relentlessly hostile to progress. It should be a reminder of the ways in which the fight for racial equality has historically been one for the dignity of labor as well. And it stands, as well, as an opportunity to explore a side of the state’s history that gets worse than short shrift in our collective memory.

Robert Reich: Republicans scramble to blame green energy as Texas freeze leaves their social Darwinist ideology in tatters

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Its laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was “like hitting the jackpot,” boasted president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock’s shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish. [..]

Last Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States.” Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that “wind and solar got shut down.”

Rubbish. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. Adapting to extreme weather is necessary but it’s no substitute for cutting emissions, which Texas is loath to do. Not even the Lone Star State should protect the freedom to freeze.

Chauncey DeVega: Conservatives are the new “good Germans,” enabling and defending Trump’s crimes

Whatever “conservative” once meant in American politics, it’s now just a flimsy rhetorical shield for fascism

Donald Trump is a force of political, human, moral and economic destruction. He is the leader of an American neofascist and white supremacist movement. Today’s Republican Party has fully become an extension of his political cult and crime family. [..]

Ultimately, when today’s Republicans and their voters and other followers say that they want the party to become “more conservative,” what is really being communicated is a desire for “friendly fascism.” This is in no way a rejection of Trumpism — indeed, most Republican elected officials, as well as “traditional” Republican voters, supported (and continue to support) almost all of Trump’s policies. Rather, this desire to become “more conservative” represents a yearning for a more polite, less crude leader to complete Trump’s resurrection of a new American apartheid where “those people” know their proper place and stay in it.

Today’s Republicans love Donald Trump and his policies. Most of them, however, do not want the shame, stink, blood and filth of his neofascist project on their hands. Like the “good Germans” of the Nazi era, Republicans want to believe that they are good and decent people who can hide behind fictions of plausible deniability for the evils committed by their leader. Calling themselves “conservatives” is an effort to shield themselves from responsibility and complicity. Will this subterfuge succeed? The American people and the world will found out soon.