Mar 18 2021

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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Eugene Robinson: Remember these words whenever anyone tells you policing is colorblind

Capt. Jay Baker’s thoughtless news conference undermined trust in law enforcement.

“He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.” Remember those words from a Georgia police official whenever anyone tries to tell you that policing in this country is colorblind. And if you doubt that those words matter, remember who law enforcement officials are supposed to serve and protect.

The “he” in question is Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old White man, and authorities say that “what he did” on Tuesday was to kill eight victims — including six Asian women — in three Atlanta-area spas. The “really bad day” account of the alleged rampage was how Capt. Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, summarized investigators’ description of their early interviews with Long.

Like Long, Baker is a White man. But you probably guessed that.

Journalists subsequently discovered a post on Baker’s Facebook page with photos of a T-shirt describing covid-19 as an “IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA,” the kind of language many experts blame for a sharp increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

For all I know, in terms of the performance of his duties, Baker may be a decent cop. But take that post, and add it to what Baker said about Long and the way he said it, and the question is obvious: Whose side is he on? And how are the Asian and Asian American victims and families Baker is supposed to protect supposed to trust him?

Bob Bauer: How to Counter the Republican Assault on Voting Rights

Congress should consider a targeted federal law to slow the march of restrictive state laws.

Republican-dominated state legislatures around the country have responded to the cynical calls from Donald Trump for “election reform” with an array of proposals to restrict voting rights. They include limiting early-voting opportunities, constraining access to vote-by-mail and imposing more voter identification and other requirements to protect against what Mr. Trump falsely claimed to be “a level of dishonesty” that “is not to be believed.”

In Washington, congressional Democrats have rallied around H.R. 1, which has already passed in the House and would establish specific voting rules that states would be required to follow for federal elections, empowered by Congress’s clear constitutional authority to “make or alter” state regulations governing the “Times, Places and manner” of holding such elections.

But as this legislation is pending, the Republican state legislative movement to burden the exercise of voting rights proceeds apace. Iowa has already done so, Georgia is poised to act shortly, and others may follow suit.

Congress should consider a targeted federal law to counter this march of these draconian state laws. And it could be designed in such a way that some Republicans would support it — or find it uncomfortable to explain why they wouldn’t.

Gail Collins: When the Filibuster Turns Deadly

Stop talking and just pass the gun bills.

You may have heard that the House just passed a couple of very, very moderate gun safety bills. They now go to the Senate, where Republicans are hoping to let them molder forever in a closet somewhere.

But hey, maybe not. The mood in Washington is different these days. Spring is in the air! A $1.9 trillion relief program is on the books! If the Senate Democrats overcome a filibuster to tighten our gun laws — even the tiniest bit — we can tell ourselves that nothing is impossible. [..]

The measures now go to the Senate, where the Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, says they will absolutely not slide off into a legislative bog, never coming to a vote, or even a debate. This would be the old theory of parliamentary progress, beloved by now-minority leader Mitch McConnell.

“Put it on the floor. We’re going to see where people stand,” said Schumer, who believes that the 50 Democrats will all support the measures. But then McConnell or one of his minions will undoubtedly start a filibuster, in which the poor bills will swing haplessly in the wind forever unless supporters can summon 60 votes.

We have two very separate questions here, people. One is, what about the gun control bills? The other is, what’s with the filibuster? Is that all the Republicans know how to do?

Amanda Marcotte: Sarah Everard and the Atlanta spa shootings show how victim blaming continues even after #MeToo

The reaction to misogynist murders in Atlanta and London shows how women are still being blamed for male violence

“Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.” [..]

After Baker’s “bad day” comments during Wednesday’s press conference, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pushed back, saying, “We are not about to get into victim blaming, victim shaming, here” and noting that the spas that were targeted “are legally operating businesses that have not been on” the radar of law enforcement.

It’s a sticky problem because it shouldn’t matter if the victims of misogynist violence are sex workers or not. Even asking the question is a form of victim blaming, as it focuses attention on the victims and away from the actual cause of the violence, which is misogyny. The notion that women can even meaningfully decipher a set of rules and expectations to follow that will keep them safe is not only unfair, it’s a lie. Long appears to have lashed out at spa workers and was apparently considering moving onto workers at a porn shop, blaming them for supposedly being too available to his sexual desires. But recent “incel” murderers, such as Elliot Rodgers or Alek Minassian, blamed women for not being sexually available enough — a complaint that all too many right-wing pundits, like Ross Douthat of the New York Times or sexism guru Jordan Peterson, were happy to amplify. Women are told to stay at home to avoid violence, but, as philosopher Kate Manne reminded us in the Atlantic, the vast majority of violence women experience at male hands is from domestic partners or family members.

You can be sexually available or closed off, go out at night or stay in. It doesn’t matter. Male violence is everywhere. It is not caused by women being a “temptation.” It’s caused by men who want to dominate and control women. Unfortunately, as Baker’s ugly press conference Tuesday showed, the police all too often share a worldview with the men who are violent towards women. Baker came off as a person who saw the world from Long’s point of view, where spa workers are a “temptation” instead of women just trying to make a living, where sexual objectification of Asian women is somehow “not racist”, and where women are blamed for men developing distorted and violent sexual urges. Men still control our society and men don’t want to take responsibility for male violence. Until at least one part of that equation changes significantly, the scourge of misogynist violence is unlikely to go anywhere.

Aaron Tang: A Supreme Court case could devastate unions’ ability to organize. And that’s just the start.

Aaron Tang is a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law. He was a law clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

On March 22, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a seemingly minor labor-law dispute with potentially sweeping ramifications. Although the case itself concerns a mundane California agricultural regulation, a decision could threaten fundamental laws governing organized labor, child safety, nursing-home inspections — and even laws forbidding stores and restaurants from discriminating.

The case, Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, involves a decades-old California regulation that grants union organizers temporary access to an agricultural employer’s property — during non-working hours — to communicate with workers about their right to organize.

A pair of California fruit producers are challenging this access in the Supreme Court, contending that it amounts to an uncompensated “taking” of their property, forbidden under the Fifth Amendment. But California is not taking their property at all. Unlike the paradigmatic situation where government appropriates private property for its own use, California’s regulation merely grants union organizers a narrow license to meet with workers — without interrupting the employer’s operations.

The fruit producers are thus left to make a different — and far more sweeping — argument. They assert that the access regulation is a taking because it prevents them from excluding people that they just don’t like. And this “right to exclude unwanted persons,” they contend, is “so universally held to be a fundamental element of the property right that it cannot be infringed without compensation.” If the Supreme Court agrees, the upshot would be staggering.