Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Decision 2024 all over the globe…and sunset over Pasadena

We begin today with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post believing that the results of the 2024 presidential election will say something definitive about “who we are” as a country.

“This is not who we are.”

How many times have we heard these six words in the Trump era? […]

An answer will come in November. No election in memory will have provided such a clear delineation of what American values really are. […]

If he wins in 2024 — and current polls suggest that is entirely possible, maybe likely — Trump has already made it clear that he plans to govern as an authoritarian, even a dictator. He continues to tell lies about his 2020 loss and has promised “full pardons with an apology to many” of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. He uses language that historians say echoes that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, calling those who oppose him “vermin” and claiming immigrants who illegally enter the country are “poisoning the blood” of America. He has been indicted on 91 criminal charges.

What’s more disturbing is how many of our fellow citizens say that all of this actually makes them yearn for a Trump Restoration. A recent Des Moines Register-NBC News poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers found, for instance, that more than 4 in 10 said the comment about “poisoning the blood” makes them more likely to support Trump.

Also discouraging is the possibility that, with voters unenamored of the fact that their likely choice is between the previous president and the current one, they might not show up to the polls at all.

The problem I’ve always had with the “this is not who we are” type statements is that it is very clear that “the American people” are not simply one thing or the other; to paraphrase Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes. 

Robert Reich tells why he will continue to write for the Guardian.

Again and again, the mainstream media have drawn a false equivalence between Donald Trump and Joe Biden – asserting that Biden’s political handicap is his age while Trump’s corresponding handicap is his criminal indictments.

But Trump is almost as old as Biden, and Trump’s public remarks and posts are becoming ever more unhinged – suggesting that advancing age may be a bigger problem for Trump than for Biden.

The Guardian has been picking up on this, but why isn’t the mainstream media reporting on Trump’s increasing senescence?

Similarly, every time the mainstream media reveal another move by the Republican Party toward authoritarianism, they point out some superfluous fault in the Democratic party in order to provide “balance”.

So readers are left to assume all politics is rotten.

The American mainstream media, to be fair, has been increasingly covering Trump’s advancing age and increasing incoherence. I do read a bit more about Trump’s advancing age and incoherence in non-Murdoch owned foreign press, though. The need to provide “balance” is a problem with the American media

Timothy Snyder writes for his ”Thinking About…” Substack that some media commentators are elevating public resentment over adherence to the Constitution.

…rejecting the legal order in favor of what seems to be politically safe at a given moment is just about the most dangerous move that can be made.  It amounts to advocating that we shift from constitutional government to an insurrectionary regime.  Indeed, it amounts to participating in that shift, while not taking responsibility for doing so.  Let me try to spell this out.

In advising the Court to keep Trump on the ballot, political commentators elevate their own fears about others’ resentment above the Constitution.  But the very reason we have a Constitution is to handle fear and resentment.  To become a public champion of your own own fears and others’ resentments is to support an insurrectionary regime.

The purpose of the insurrection clause of the Constitution (the third section of the Fourteenth Amendment) is not to encourage insurrections!  If we publicly say that that Supreme Court should disregard it because we fear insurrections, we are making insurrections more likely.  We are telling Americans that to undermine constitutional rule they must only intimate that they might be violent.  

To advocate pitchfork rulings is to endorse regime change; to issue pitchfork rulings is to announce regime change.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times says thatthe country is clearly on the mend from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may have heard about the good economic news. Labor force participation — the share of adults in today’s work force — is actually slightly higher than the Congressional Budget Office predicted before the pandemic. Measures of underlying inflation have fallen more or less back to the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target even though unemployment is near a 50-year low. Adjusted for inflation, most workers’ wages have gone up.

For some reason I’ve heard less about the crime news, but it’s also remarkably good. F.B.I. data shows that violent crime has subsided: It’s already back to 2019 levels and appears to be falling further. Homicides probably aren’t quite back to 2019 levels, but they’re plummeting.

None of this undoes the Covid death toll or the serious learning loss suffered by millions of students. But overall both our economy and our society are in far better shape at this point than most people would have predicted in the early days of the pandemic — or than most Americans are willing to admit.

For if America’s resilience in the face of the pandemic shock has been remarkable, so has the pessimism of the public.

Rex Huppke of USA Today has some predictions for 2024.

Happy New Year to you all. Per the U.S. Constitution, I’m required to engage in year-ahead prognostication (crystal ball optional) and then share my foresight with you all.

That said, SPOILER ALERT! Here are some things that are most definitely, quite probably, all-but-certainly going to happen this year.

It’s a presidential election year, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé effectively control the world and there are people who still take conspiracy theorist Alex Jones seriously. So it seems as good a time as any for a good-size asteroid to come along, wipe out humanity and give the planet a chance to start over, hopefully via an evolutionary process that puts dogs in charge.

Unfortunately, we won’t be so lucky. Instead, we’ll be stuck listening to a 77-year-old con artist running for president saying an 81-year-old is too old to be president.

There’s always next year.

Nicholas Vinocur of POLITICO Europe reminds us that a lot of countries will hold significant elections this year with the fate of democracy worldwide hanging in the balance.

Indeed, from the United States to the U.K. and European Union, from India to Mexico, and from Taiwan to Indonesia, some of the world’s most strategically important countries will hold elections this year.

Yet even amid this bonanza of balloting and voting, experts warn that dēmokratía — the form of government pioneered by aristocrats in 6th-century B.C. Athens — is entering a danger zone. […]

In Europe, the EU election in June looks set to signal that far-right parties — perhaps most significantly in France and Germany — are building genuine momentum and turning into potential national governments that would be hostile to EU institutions in Brussels and Europe’s Muslims, while also being more sympathetic to the Kremlin. The big question hanging over these parties is whether they would dismantle linchpins of European democracy — such as independent judiciaries and the free press — after using the ballot box to come to power. […]

As 2023 shifts into 2024, the first high-stakes election on the horizon is Taiwan on January 13, which will turn into a test of whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will continue to tolerate a democracy on the island or will invade and precipitate a major security crisis in the South China Sea.

Jeremy Sharon of The Times of Israel provides analysis of the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling striking down some of the government’s proposed judicial reforms.

After the biggest showdown between the government and the judiciary in this country’s history, the justices of the court declared emphatically that the Knesset is not all-powerful, that the legislature and government must be subject to external restraints, and that narrow political majorities cannot threaten the rights of the individual and minorities.

Not only did the court say this in a clear and clarion voice, it did so with a diverse array of ideologies, as justices from the very liberal end of the spectrum through to staunch conservatives insisted that popular passions reflected in frequently volatile and fleeting governing coalitions must be subject to judicial review, even when dealing with Israel’s very constitutional makeup. […]

The implication and legacy of Monday night’s ruling is that Israeli democracy is not dependent upon the motivation of concerned citizens alone, or the caprices of those in power, but that there is an emergency backstop in the form of the High Court which will not let the executive and legislature ride roughshod so easily over the basic democratic principles of the country.

Motoko Rich of The New York Times reports that an airplane burst into flames on a runway at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

The airline reported that all 367 passengers and 12 crew members had evacuated the plane, which collided with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft, the public broadcaster, NHK, said. One member of the crew of the fixed-wing Coast Guard plane evacuated that aircraft, but another five were unaccounted for, the broadcaster reported.

The Coast Guard plane had been bound for western Japan to deliver supplies after the powerful earthquake that struck the region on Monday, according to NHK.

Footage aired by the broadcaster showed the Japan Airlines plane on fire as it streaked across a runway. NHK reported that the plane, Flight 516, had departed New Chitose Airport in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido and was scheduled to land in Haneda at 5:40 p.m.

Finally today, we go out to Pasadena, California for…the sunset!

The blimp always gets the best view of the sunset.

Oh, there was a game being played in the Rose Bowl while the sun was setting.

One criticism I have of the ABC/ESPN telecast of the Rose Bowl yesterday is that they really didn’t get the best and awesomest shots for that sunset…and I have some experience watching sunsets over the San Gabriel Mountains during Rose Bowl telecasts.

Next Monday, Michigan moves on to play the Washington Huskies in the REAL Rose Bowl  the Big Ten Conference Championship Game the College Football National Championship Game next Monday night at NRG Stadium in Houston (that don’t even sound right and former Michigan placekicker Ali Haji Sheikh agrees).

Have the best possible day and a Happy New Year everyone and most importantly…

Go Blue!

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