Jun 18 2020

Pondering the Pundits 6.18.2020

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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Amanda Marcotte: The Supreme Court saves Trump from himself, twice — will it do the same with abortion?

On DACA and LGBTQ rights, John Roberts is shielding Trump from 2020 backlash. Is he willing to protect abortion?

For the second day this week, the Supreme Court surprised legal watchers by issuing another decision protecting the rights of minorities against the aggressive assault unleashed during Donald Trump’s administration. On Monday, the court issued a momentous victory for LGBTQ rights — one that may ultimately be more consequential than the decision granting marriage equality — ruling that employers cannot fire people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, in the sole decision released, the court once again gave liberals a reason to celebrate by voiding the Trump’s administration’s attempt to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program begun under Barack Obama, which allowed undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as minors to live free of the threat of deportation.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, joined the liberals on both decisions, and even wrote the DACA decision. (Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, shocked both the left and the right by writing the earlier decision about LGBTQ rights.) In both cases, conservatives justified their decisions in dry language about legal procedure. Gorsuch argued that the plain text of the Civil Rights Act barring discrimination on the basis of sex covered sexual orientation and gender identity. Roberts argued that Trump’s move to end DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, an FDR-era law barring “arbitrary and capicrious” executive rule changes, in language that almost eerily anticipated the arbitrary and capricious nature of pretty much everything Trump does.  [..]

The only real question is whether Roberts, a notorious anti-choice ideologue, will keep it up through the rest of the term — and will actually be willing to protect Trump by protecting abortion rights.

Tim Wu: How to Avoid a ‘Rich Man’s Recovery’

The economic legacy of the pandemic threatens to be an extraordinary new concentration of wealth.

Since January, Amazon’s stock price has gone up from about $1,850 to about $2,600. The S.&P. 500 — comprising large corporate stocks dominated by technology companies — has recovered most of its recently lost value. And most highly paid professionals and managers have kept their jobs and experienced minimal changes in wealth.

Yet more than 20 million Americans are unemployed.

These are signs that the economic legacy of the coronavirus pandemic could be an increase in wealth concentration that will shock a nation that thought itself numb to such things. Arguments over whether the recovery will be “V-shaped” or “U-shaped” ignore the fact that different socioeconomic classes have been affected differently and will recover differently. Despite its populist airs, the Trump administration is orchestrating what will be, unless something is done, a rich man’s recovery.

Nicholas Kristof: When Antifa Hysteria Sweeps America

The panic is a measure of how deluded public discourse has become.

What can we possibly make of the crisis that unfolded in the remote Oregon seaside town of Coquille?

Coquille is a sleepy logging community of 3,800 people, almost all of them white. It is miles and miles from nowhere. Portland is 250 miles to the north. San Francisco is 500 miles to the south.

But Fox News is in a frenzy about rioters and looters, and President Trump warns about the anti-fascist movement known as antifa. So early this month as a small group of local residents planned a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in Coquille, word raced around that three busloads of antifa activists were headed to Coquille to bust up the town. [..]

Of course, no rampaging anarchists ever showed up. The Battle of Coquille ended without beginning.

Similar hysteria about antifa invasions has erupted across the country. I asked my followers on Facebook how earnest citizens could fall prey to such panics, and I was stunned by how many reported similar anxieties in their own towns — sometimes creating dangerous situations.

Paul Waldman: We’re finally talking about structural racism. Republicans are freaking out.

In the annals of weird and revealing arguments between members of Congress, the one that took place between Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday stands out. Along with a less fiery but equally revealing moment in a Senate hearing on Tuesday involving Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), it showed how the fact that we’re now discussing structural racism has Republicans seriously freaked out.

Their response is to attempt to take a debate about institutions and structures — policing, criminal justice, housing, health care, banking, employment, education and so much else — and reframe it as just about individual hearts. Which accomplishes two things. First, it renders them blameless, since they can assert “I’m no racist!” and take great affront at any suggestion otherwise. Second, it diverts us from ambitious reform to combat racism, if all we have to do is find the “bad apples” and get rid of them. [..]

There’s one other goal this kind of framing can accomplish: It allows white men in particular to say their feelings are hurt, and they know well that ordinarily, when they say that everyone drops everything to assuage them. You may recall a particularly vivid incident in which then-Rep. Mark Meadows, now White House chief of staff, mistakenly thought Rep. Rashida Tlaib had called him a racist, grinding a congressional hearing to a halt while everyone madly reassured him that the contents of his pure heart were not in question.

That’s how it usually goes, which is what was so striking about what Richmond said. He made clear that he really didn’t care about the hurt feelings of white members of Congress, an assertion so shocking that it led Gaetz to imply he had imaginary black children and erupt in fury.

But if the debate is about structures — not about the animus that does or doesn’t lie in any one person’s heart — then Republicans can’t say “Are you calling me a racist???” and have everyone drop everything to placate them. And frankly, it’s about time. We have more important things to deal with.