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May 29 2020

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Val Demmings: My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?

Val Demings, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing? [..]

When citizens were in trouble (if they had to call the police, they weren’t having a good day), they called really believing that when we arrived, things would get better. That they would be safe. But we are painfully reminded that all too often, things do not get better. Matter of fact, they can get much worse — with deadly results.

When an officer engages in stupid, heartless and reckless behavior, their actions can either take a life or change a life forever. Bad decisions can bring irrevocable harm to the profession and tear down the relationships and trust between the police and the communities they serve. Remember, law enforcement needs that trust just as the public does. Think before you act! Remember, your most powerful weapon is the brain the good Lord gave you. Use it!

We all know that the level of force must meet the level of resistance. We all can see that there was absolutely zero resistance from George Floyd. He posed no threat to anyone, especially law enforcement.

Eugene Robinson: Black lives remain expendable

o you want to prevent the kind of rioting, looting and arson we have seen in Minneapolis this week? Then stop police officers and racist vigilantes from killing black men, like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Stop treating African Americans like human trash and start treating us like citizens.

I condemn riots, destruction, property theft and all manner of senseless violence. But I understand the feeling that animates these spasms. When I watch the video of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, choking the life out of him and ignoring his cries of distress, I want to throw something. When I see the video of Gregory and Travis McMichael accosting and shooting Arbery, I want to throw something else. I can’t help but think of my own two sons and how, for either of them, a routine encounter with police — or a run-in with self-appointed sheriffs — could be fatal. I want to scream.

I feel this way even though I have status in this society, an income that allows me to live comfortably and a megaphone — in the form of this column and my television appearances — with which to make my complaints and opinions heard. I wonder how I’d feel if I lacked these things, if I were powerless and voiceless. I wonder where my frustration and rage would find their outlet. [..]

Just a couple of weeks ago, hundreds of white protesters, some carrying all manner of deadly weapons, stormed into the Michigan state capitol and disrupted legislators trying to do their official business. Police saw them as exercising their constitutional rights and let them come and go without incident.

A mostly black crowd protesting Floyd’s killing, on the other hand, was met Tuesday night with tear gas and rubber bullets. City officials perceived the Minneapolis unrest as an emergency. This nation needs to understand that life-threatening racism is an emergency, too.

Paul Krugman: On the Economics of Not Dying

What good is increasing G.D.P. if it kills you?

America is now engaged in a vast, dangerous experiment. Although social distancing has limited the spread of the coronavirus, it is far from contained. Yet despite warnings from epidemiologists, much of the country is moving to open up for business as usual.

You might think that such a momentous move would come with elaborate justifications — that politicians pushing an end to social distancing, from Donald Trump on down, would at least try to explain why we should take this risk. But those calling for quickly reopening have been notably silent about the trade-offs involved. Instead, they talk incessantly about the need to “save the economy.”

That is, however, a very bad way to think about economic policy in a pandemic.

What, after all, is the economy’s purpose? If your answer is something like, “To generate incomes that let people buy things,” you’re getting it wrong — money isn’t the ultimate goal; it’s just a means to an end, namely, improving the quality of life.

Now, money matters: There is a clear relationship between income and life satisfaction. But it’s not the only thing that matters. In particular, you know what also makes a major contribution to the quality of life? Not dying.

Jamelle Bouie: Did You Really Think Trump Would Mourn With Us?

The president’s indifference to collective grieving is of a piece with a political movement that denies our collective ties.

More than a hundred thousand lives have been lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, and while individuals and families have certainly grieved for their loved ones, there has been almost nothing in the way of a public remembrance of the lives lost. No national address; no moment of silence or official recognition beyond the occasional tweet. No sense from the president or his subordinates that these were untimely deaths — needless losses that ought to occasion collective mourning. There will be no speech like President Barack Obama’s in the wake of the Mother Emanuel shooting in Charleston; no address like President Ronald Reagan’s after the Challenger disaster.

Civil society has tried to fill the gap. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have devoted their pages to memorials, as have local and regional newspapers across the country. But the political vacuum matters. It’s also predictable.

The president’s indifference to collective mourning is of a piece with a political movement that denies our collective ties as well as the obligations we have to each other. If Trump represents a radical political solipsism, in which his is the only interest that exists, then it makes all the sense in the world that neither he nor his allies would see or even understand the need for public and collective mourning — an activity that heightens our vulnerability, centers our interconnectedness and stands as a challenge to the politics of selfishness and domination.

Greg Sargent: Trump just threatened to have looters shot. Biden urged calm. That says it all.

We need to more fully come to terms with an unpleasant truth. It begins here: Donald Trump simply does not accept that he has any institutional obligation of any kind as president to use the White House’s formidable communications powers to calm the nation at moments of severe tension and hardship.

Instead, he views it as beneficial to his reelection to actively incite further hatred. Because Trump’s self-interest matters incalculably more to him than the national interest does, so he will act.

Trump issued new tweets overnight that explicitly threatened military violence against looters in Minneapolis, where protests have erupted over the police killing of George Floyd.

“Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz, and told him that the Military is with him all the way,” Trump said, in a reference to the governor of Minnesota. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter affixed a warning to this, noting it had violated its rules “about glorifying violence.”

Setting aside whether Trump will or even can do this, the intent of the threat itself is the thing here — not just to glorify violence but to glorify his willingness to threaten it against urban protesters, should they get out of hand.

The “thank you,” a phrase that often follows Trump’s tweeted self-praise, is a dead giveaway. It’s almost as if he’s taking a bow for having issued this threat, or saying he should be thanked for it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.