The trouble with Fox News (from John Boehner)

“The reality that Boehner exposes is that following the 2008 election of Obama, something fundamentally changed at Fox News. It was no longer about pushing conservative policy solutions and young stars of the movement. Instead, the network became a fever swamp for internet trolls pushing every sort of conspiracy theory — from Benghazi to Obama’s citizenship.

“To Boehner’s critical point about how Fox skewed incentives within the GOP: No longer was the goal for most members of Congress (or those aspiring Republicans hoping to join their ranks) to accrue seniority and rise in the ranks of their preferred committee or even into House GOP leadership. Now the goal was to become a conservative pundit on Fox News — that was where the real power (and money if you decided to leave Congress) was.

“And the best way to get on Fox News as much as possible? Say the most outlandish and outrageous things possible. Fox viewers were ready to believe whatever the worst thing you could say about Obama or any of the Clintons. There was no bridge too far. And with ratings as the only goal, Ailes (with a major assist from Fox owner Rupert Murdoch) leaned in hard — vacating any sort of journalistic mission to tell people the truth about their government and politicians in favor of pandering to an audience that wanted to believe that any and every Democratic politician was evil.”

In an explosive excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, former House Speaker John Boehner calls Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a nasty name, refers to lots of Republicans elected in 2010 as "morons" and admits that President Barack Obama had little reason to find "common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America."

Two dysfunctional systems

Since the start of the year, much of the world?s attention was focused on two trials on opposite sides of the world. In one, a brave truth-teller was persecuted by a vengeful administration after stirring up his patriotic followers in protest against tyranny. In the other, Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

How to avoid disaster in the midterms

“The trick, says Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, will be lowering the expectations of an impatient Democratic base that is eager to press the party’s slim advantage by forcing votes on issues like Medicare for All or by making structural changes that could secure the party’s power. Booker says there aren’t enough votes to pass statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico right now, nor for expanding the Supreme Court. He’s taking his own lesson from the early Obama years.”

History suggests that Joe Biden and the Democrats are going to have a tough two years and a disaster in the midterms. Here?s their plan to avoid that.

It’s not stimulus, it’s relief

Paul Krugman in the NYT: “While coronavirus relief legislation is often called ‘stimulus,’ that’s not what Biden is trying to do. The economy in 2021 isn’t like the economy in 2009, depressed because there isn’t enough demand; we haven’t fully recovered because we’re still on partial lockdown, with some activities curtailed by the risk of infection.

“The goal of policy in this situation isn’t to pump up spending, getting people to eat out and travel. It is, instead, to help people, businesses and local governments get through the difficult period until widespread vaccination lets us go back to business as usual.

“And we know, as certainly as we know anything in economics, that the economy will be depressed at least into the summer and probably beyond. The last package didn’t provide remotely enough aid to get us through those months. Asking whether that package boosted the economy therefore completely misses the point; it’s obvious that America needs another round of disaster relief.”

Why there will be no pandemic relief bill: blame Mitch

Paul Krugman in the NYT: “You might think that Republicans would set the plutocratic imperative aside when the case for more government spending is compelling, whether it’s to repair our crumbling infrastructure or to provide relief during a pandemic. But all indications are that they believe — probably rightly — that successful government programs make the public more receptive to proposals for additional programs.

“That’s why the G.O.P. has tried so frantically to overturn the Affordable Care Act; at this point it’s clear that Obamacare’s success in cutting the number of uninsured Americans has created an appetite for further health care reform.

“And that’s why Republicans are unwilling to provide desperately needed aid to economic victims of the pandemic. They aren’t worried that a relief package would fail; they’re worried that it might succeed, showing that sometimes more government spending is a good thing. Indeed, a successful relief package might pave the way for Democratic proposals that would, among other things, drastically reduce child poverty.”