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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Jennifer Rubin: Why are we ‘bailing out’ Texas’s reckless decisions on covid-19?

Prioritize aid to states behaving responsibly.

Republicans have groused that proposed federal aid to states and localities would amount to a “bailout for blue states,” ignoring the widespread economic damage in their own red states and the status of many of those states as moochers (they receive more aid from the federal government than they contribute in revenue). But if we take their argument seriously, it raises another question: Why should a state whose government behaves in a wholly irresponsible manner and endangers its own people be treated the same as responsible states when it comes to direct covid-19 aid?

The question is hardly hypothetical. The Associated Press reports, “Texas is lifting its mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday, making it the largest state to no longer require one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus … where the virus killed more than 42,000 people.” Abbott also will open businesses “100 percent” — apparently abandoning any social distancing requirements. [..]

It is not hard to imagine that Abbott is using the latest gambit to deflect attention from his responsibility for the energy grid disaster. Unfortunately, the rollback in mask and social distancing requirements could increase Texas’s death toll from covid-19 (already the third-highest in the country).

Greg Sargent: The minimum-wage fiasco will hurt millions. But it will hit red states hardest.

A new analysis reveals the human toll of the failure to raise the minimum wage.

If there is one thing that the debate over the minimum wage has revealed, it’s how extraordinarily prevalent low-wage labor is in the United States today.

And this underscores what an epic policy failure it will be if the minimum-wage hike is not included in the Senate version of President Biden’s economic rescue bill, which now looks all but certain.

A new analysis from the Brookings Institution, done at my request, underscores this with depressing clarity: It finds that approximately 24 million people would see their wages rise if the federal minimum wage were lifted to $15 per hour by 2025, as the current proposal would do.

By extension, of course, that’s also roughly how many Americans stand to get left behind if and when it is not included in the Senate version.

The minimum-wage workforce is sometimes treated as a marginally sized one. But the truth is that the population that will remain in this precarious low-wage netherworld due to this failure is quite substantial.

Alyssa Rosenberg: The Great Dr. Seuss Hysteria of 2021 shows how silly and unimaginative adults can be

Some of Theodor Geisel’s books are definitely very racist. But treating him as either the worst or best children’s book author ever is a mistake.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and conservative pundit Ben Shapiro is stockpiling strategic reserves of “If I Ran the Zoo,” parents across the land face a desperate conundrum. What can they possibly read to their children?

If that paragraph makes no sense, good for you: The Great Seuss Hysteria of 2021 is a faux controversy if there ever were one, worth following only for what it reveals about children’s literature and the limits of adults’ imaginations.

The short, sensible summary is as follows. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls Theodor Geisel’s copyrights, decided not to print more copies of six works that contain racist imagery. This ought to be relatively uncontroversial. The books won’t be pulled from public consumption, as Disney did with “Song of the South,” or edited to comport with different values. No one proposes treating Dr. Seuss like Woody Allen, a figure whose alleged transgressions render his work untouchable. Everyone seems comfortable with the other 90 percent of Dr. Seuss’s books. But because conservatives don’t do much except fight the culture wars these days, they inflated an act of corporate image-burnishing into a catastrophic book-burning, and the rest of the story is predictable.

Ruth Marcus: Nearly 30 years after Anita Hill, what have we learned?

The accusations against Andrew Cuomo are all too familiar, but the response is new.

“I have three daughters,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo observed in October 2017, in the midst of controversy over returning political donations from Harvey Weinstein after the producer faced accusations of sexual assault. “I want to make sure at the end of the day, this world is a safer, better world for my three daughters.”

In an odd way, perhaps he has.

Every high-profile sexual harassment case raises, and helps resolve, questions of crime and punishment: what behavior is acceptable, how workplaces should respond and what price must be paid.

At this late stage, in 2021, one could be forgiven for wondering, with no small degree of exasperation, whether the perpetrators will ever learn. So it is possible to examine the stream of allegations about Cuomo and ask: Really? Has nothing changed?

But there is another, more hopeful interpretation: What once was commonplace — bosses asking out subordinates, co-workers making crude sexual remarks — is now understood to be forbidden, a career-killer.

Consider the progression of scandal.

Amanda Marcotte: The Supreme Court may be set to gut voting rights — but Democrats can still stop them

The GOP-dominated SCOTUS longs to end the Voting Rights Act. Democrats can save it by nuking the filibuster

With the news cycle as nuts as it is — the constant pandemic news, the ongoing fallout from the Capitol insurrection, conservatives pretending to believe Dr. Seuss was “canceled” — it likely passed many people’s attention that the Supreme Court listened to arguments Tuesday that may signal the end of voting rights as we know them.

On the surface, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee may not seem like a big deal. The cases address partisan fights over rules in Arizona disallowing third party ballot collection and requiring ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be thrown out entirely, regulations that don’t seem, on their surface, like earth-shattering assaults on the ability of most voters to cast ballots. But voting rights experts fear that the particulars of the Arizona restrictions are not really what’s at stake in the case, which is likely to be ruled on this summer. [..]

The good news is that Democrats, at this moment, have the power to stop this from happening, by passing the For the People Act, otherwise known as H.R. 1.

But in order to do that, they need to — say it with me now! — nuke the filibuster, or Republicans in the Senate will be able to block the bill from ever even coming to a vote. Unfortunately, more conservative Democrats, especially Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have signaled that they intend to keep the filibuster in place, even as it’s being used to usher in what voting rights activists have deemed the “new Jim Crow.”