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: Why Can’t Republicans Be Populists?

The establishment has been routed, but its economic orthodoxy rules.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is incredibly popular, even among Republican voters. We don’t have details yet on the next big Democratic initiative, but we can expect it to poll well, because we know that it will combine major infrastructure spending with tax hikes on corporations and the rich — which are all popular things.

But like the rescue plan, the next plan probably won’t get a single Republican vote in Congress. Why are elected Republicans still so committed to right-wing economic policies that help the rich while shortchanging the working class?

Fair warning: I’m not going to offer a good answer to this question. The point of today’s article is, instead, to argue for the question’s importance.

I ask why Republicans are “still” committed to right-wing economics because in the past there wasn’t any puzzle about their position.

Eugene Robinson: The world saw George Floyd’s final minutes. Now it will see whether he gets justice.

Derek Chauvin and the criminal justice system are on trial, not George Floyd.

With the beginning of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on charges of killing George Floyd, remember that Chauvin is the man on trial, not Floyd. Remember that the only reason police approached Floyd in the first place was that they suspected him of a minor, nonviolent offense. Remember Floyd’s desperate pleas that he couldn’t breathe, that “they’re going to kill me,” that he was dying.

Remember — as if anyone could forget — that the U.S. criminal justice system is on trial as well. And remember that, quite literally, the whole world is watching. [..]

Put legalisms aside for a moment and think about that. How could anyone treat a fellow human being with such little regard for his life? After he stopped moving — after he stopped breathing — Floyd obviously posed no threat to anyone, let alone to the heavily armed police officers who surrounded his inert body. But Chauvin keeps kneeling on his neck anyway. Why? To keep an obviously inert man immobile? Or to make a point to the bystanders, Black and White, who witnessed the whole thing?

To me, it looks like a brutal demonstration of who has power and who does not. It looks like a performance showing that Minneapolis police had dominance over what Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, called the “high-crime” African American neighborhood the officers were patrolling. And that is the essence of the problem with police violence in this country. Policing is far too often seen by officers and their superiors as something done to a Black or Brown community — rather than with the community.

Megan Rapinoe: Bills to ban transgender kids from sports try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist

Megan Rapinoe plays for OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. women’s national team. An Olympic gold medalist and a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, she is also an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a nonprofit that advocates for equal opportunities in sports.

I remember how I felt when I played soccer for the first time. Long before I was winning World Cup matches, I was trying to keep up with my brother. Soccer has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old. I spent hours outside working to perfect that next move — I wanted to be the best.

Being able to play sports as a child shaped my life’s path. It taught me so much more than is seen on the field and brought me so much joy. Every child deserves to have that experience. That’s why I believe that all kids, including transgender youth, should be able to participate in sports they love.

But there are efforts across the country to ban transgender kids from participating in school sports. Already this year, lawmakers in more than 25 states have introduced legislation to ban transgender young people from sports. Mississippi enacted a law this month requiring schools to designate teams by gender assigned at birth. Efforts elsewhere are progressing.

Amanda Marcotte: Republicans have become more fascist since Jan. 6 — and they blame liberals for it

The “Liberals made us do it!” defense: Republicans rush to embrace fascism, but don’t want to take responsibility

For a brief, shining moment after Donald Trump incited an insurrection on the Capitol on January 6, it seemed that the forces of rising authoritarianism in America might be curtailed, shamed by the violence that had been unleashed by their lies and bitterness over losing the election. But nope, Republicans have quickly reverted back. After all, the fundamental problem facing the Republican party and the larger American right hasn’t been resolved. They still know full well that their ideology is unpopular, their arguments are indefensible, and that the only way they can hold onto power is by gutting the ability of the voters to throw them out. And so, as the past month has shown, conservatives are not only becoming more fascistic in the aftermath of the riot but more shameless about their intentions.

The GOP war on voting has become the number one priority, with a bevy of conservative groups reorienting their organizing around keeping Americans away from ballots. Republicans are leaning into the racist signaling around the voter suppression efforts, and when confronted with it, they barely bother to defend themselves, mainly because there is no moral defense possible. There’s lip-smacking from the right about “voter fraud” — which they continue to fail to show is a problem, much less one that voter suppression efforts will fix — but these excuses are pro forma, and you can tell their hearts aren’t in it.

Instead of trying to sell their behavior as good and righteous, instead, conservatives are coalescing around a different excuse: The liberals are making them do it! They don’t want to be fascists, you see, but gosh darn it, they have no choice!

Jamelle Bouie: The G.O.P. Has Some Voters It Likes and Some It Doesn’t

This is what happens when a political party turns against democracy.

The most outrageous provision of the Election Integrity Act of 2021, the omnibus election bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia last week, is one that makes it illegal for anyone except poll workers to offer food or water directly to voters standing in line. Defenders of the law say that this is meant to stop electioneering at the polls; critics say it is a direct response to volunteers who assisted those Georgians, many of them Black, who waited for hours to cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.

Less outrageous but more insidious is a provision that removes the secretary of state from his (or her) position as chairman of the State Election Board and replaces him with a new nonpartisan member selected by a majority of Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature. The law also gives the board, and by extension the legislature, the power to suspend underperforming county election officials and replace them with a single individual. [..]

This is what it looks like when a political party turns against democracy. It doesn’t just try to restrict the vote; it creates mechanisms to subvert the vote and attempts to purge officials who might stand in the way. Georgia is in the spotlight, for reasons past and present, but it is happening across the country wherever Republicans are in control.