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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Charles M. Blow: Our Collective, Violent PTSD

It will take more than legislation to deal with the effects of the pandemic. It will take people listening to one another.

There was another mass shooting on Wednesday, this time leaving nine people dead, just one of the latest mass shootings of the 230-plus so far this year, according to a tally maintained by The New York Times.

As The Times reported, “The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.”

We need to recognize the trauma and stress that we as a society have endured because of Covid-19, the collapse of our social structure, the crippling of an economy and the way the racial justice protests have unsettled some people.

You add that to an already violent society, one saturated with guns and becoming even more saturated every day, and violence — including mass shootings — is a natural, horrific, inevitable outgrowth.

I don’t think we fully understood and appreciated the palliative benefits of congregational opportunities for vulnerable communities, the way they provided outlet and relief, a respite from the pain of oppression and despair.

Society needs an outlet valve, particularly at the bottom where the pressure is greatest, but Covid deprived us of that.

Gail Collins: ‘Witch Hunt,’ Meet Grand Jury

Feel free to fantasize about Trump behind bars.

So many investigations, people.

“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Donald Trump said, complaining about the multiple probes into his business practices.

That was in an online statement practically no one seems to have read. Truly, of all the former president’s problems, his greatest woe has to be that Twitter ban. As The Washington Post cruelly reported, the new website he’s put up as a replacement has “attracted fewer estimated visitors than the pet-adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site Delish.”

Well, yeah. Take your pick: a new puppy, a new pasta recipe or a new post-presidential whine. [..]

It’ll be a long while before we find out how these investigations turn out. But it’s already crystal clear that if you took a sweeping view of Trump’s empire, the two perpetually recurring motifs would be “golf” and “failed development.”

This gives me the opportunity to note that during one of those early real estate disasters, I wrote a column referring to him as “an extremely well-dressed pile of debt, wearing an unusual haircut.” That was in 1992, and next year I want you to remind me to celebrate my 30th anniversary of making fun of Donald Trump.

Amanda Marcottte: Amy Cooper’s “racial discrimination” lawsuit and the scourge of white whining

Anger over “woke” culture or “critical race theory” is not new — just a new way to recast racists as the victims

Oh boy! Amy Cooper — the infamous “Central Park Karen” — clearly has no problem reminding everyone of her infamy.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Cooper is suing her former employer, investment firm Franklin Templeton, for — you guessed it! — racial discrimination. Cooper had her 15 minutes of national attention last year when she called the police on Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black man and birding enthusiast who asked her to leash her dog in a leash-only area of New York City’s Central Park. Mr. Cooper filmed her telling 911 that “I’m being threatened by a man,” which wasn’t true. [..]

But while Cooper’s arrogance is truly next level, her playing-the-victim lawsuit is emblematic of a wave of white whininess that’s crashing over the U.S. right now, as large numbers of white people — mostly, but not exclusively Donald Trump voters — convince themselves that it’s not racism that is a problem in the U.S., but the bogeyman of white people being victimized by anti-racists.[..]

So sure, Amy Cooper’s narcissism and self-pity may seem over the top, but the sad truth is she is just a particularly noxious example of a nationwide problem. Trump managed to get a shocking 74 million votes, more than any Republican candidate in history, after running a campaign that was a full-on right-wing fantasy about “cancel culture” more than about any real issues facing the nation. In 2021, the majority of white Americans would rather believe a fantasy where they’re the victims, rather than admit, even just a tiny bit, that racism is still a real problem. And, like Amy Cooper, they’re taking their self-pitying delusions out on everyone else.

Eugene Robinson: Bipartisanship is overrated, especially with these Republicans

It’s time bipartisanship fetishists in Congress and the White House woke up to reality: This version of the GOP is never going to work with them on anything.

Bipartisanship is overrated. President Biden and Democrats in Congress should stop fetishizing it and get on with the work they know must be done.

Of course, it would be nice if a serious, responsible Republican Party willing to stand up for its principles, make substantive policy proposals and negotiate in good faith existed. As is becoming obvious, though — even to the high priest of the hands-across-the-aisle cult, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — no such Republican Party exists. Today’s GOP is so unserious and unprincipled that it will not even support a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” Manchin said Thursday on Twitter. “[Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

His continued fealty to the filibuster notwithstanding, Manchin’s statement seemed intended to draw a line in the sand beyond which he’s not willing to give McConnell an effective veto over almost all legislation in the name of process.

If so, it’s about time. Voters snatched control of the Senate away from the Republicans and handed it to the Democrats. It’s reasonable to assume that those voters wanted forthright leadership, not hapless surrender.

Paul Waldman: Biden’s budget shows why he’s still a popular president

It’s a wish list of things the public would like. Getting it through Congress is another matter.

“The budget is a moral document,” as the old saying goes. Every choice the federal government makes to spend money here and cut money there involves choices about who matters, why we should take one course rather than another, and what we as a society value.

Which we should keep in mind now that President Biden’s White House is releasing the first budget of his presidency. Here’s the New York Times’s summary of what it contains:

The levels of taxation and spending in Mr. Biden’s plans would expand the federal fiscal footprint to levels rarely seen in the postwar era to fund investments that his administration says are crucial to keeping America competitive. That includes money for roads, water pipes, broadband internet, electric vehicle charging stations and advanced manufacturing research. It also envisions funding for affordable child care, universal prekindergarten and a national paid leave program. Spending on national defense would also grow, though it would decline as a share of the economy.

On the national defense question, I would note that this year we’re spending more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars on the military, so much that the Pentagon can’t even keep track of where it all goes. But that won’t stop Republicans from complaining that without enormous increases in military spending, we will be terribly vulnerable to foreign invasion.

Mostly, however, the opposition will be aghast at Biden’s budget, not because it wouldn’t spend enough on the things they like, but because it would spend too much on the things they don’t like. Which it would. [..]

In the big picture, the Democrats have the much more popular agenda; there’s nothing in Biden’s wish list anyone in his party would want to hide. Getting it enacted is the hard part.