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Apr 20 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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Paul Krugman: What’s the Secret of Biden’s Success?

The president’s party is finally comfortable in its own skin.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A new Democratic president has inherited a nation in crisis. His first major policy initiative is a short-term relief bill intended to lead the way out of that crisis. He follows that bill with proposals to address longer-term problems and, if possible, to change American society for the better. His party holds majorities in the House and the Senate, but both of his initiatives face scorched-earth opposition from Republicans.

I could be describing the early months of either the Obama administration or the Biden administration. But there’s one huge difference between them: Even though Barack Obama began his presidency with high personal approval ratings, his policies never had strong public support. Public approval for Joe Biden’s policies, by contrast, is almost surreally high. Why?

To see what I’m talking about, compare polling on the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — with polling on Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

Eugene Robinson: All we can do for George Floyd now is wait and worry

If the jury wants to strike a blow for justice, the prosecution handed them a hammer.

“Believe your eyes. What you saw happen, happened.”

Those few words from Special Assistant Attorney General Steve Schleicher summed up the prosecution’s long and detailed closing argument in the trial of Derek Chauvin. If jurors in Minneapolis can bring themselves to believe what they see and hear in the videos of George Floyd’s killing, Chauvin will be found guilty. But if the jury gets lost in the fog of make-believe cast by Chauvin’s defense, the now-fired police officer could walk free.

All we can do now is wait and worry. No one ever knows what any given jury will do. If the Chauvin jury wants to strike a resounding blow for justice, though, prosecutors have given them a mighty sledgehammer. [..]

By design, our justice system puts a thumb on the scale in favor of the defense, which does not have to prove anything. And in practice, our system further tends to give police officers a very generous benefit of the doubt.

The problem is that the whole world has seen what happened to George Floyd. Are the eyes of the jurors open, or are they closed?

Charles M. Blow: My Second Phase of Adulthood

How I’m changing my perspective on life.

This weekend I attended my second funeral in about six months. The first was my oldest brother’s. The second was for the mother of a college friend. Neither death was caused by the pandemic, but took place during it.

As I departed to Georgia from Louisiana, as the plane cut a path through the clouds and came to a cruise above them, it occurred to me that I was now fully entrenched in the second phase of adulthood.

It is that time of life when children begin to graduate from high school or college and leave home. My own children have now all graduated from college, although the oldest is now in medical school. They are grown-up now, apart from me, making their own lives and their own decisions, and I now have to forge a different relationship with them, an adult one. [..]

But this time of life is also the time when parents — yours and those of your friends and relatives — grow older and slower, get sicker and begin to pass away. At the funeral of my friend’s mother this weekend, he told me that the mother of another of our college friends died a few days ago.

One of my oldest friends is dealing with a father on the decline, in a nursing home, and suffering through escalating phases of dementia. Last year one of my best friends lost his mother.

This seemingly sudden intrusion of death into your life changes you. At least it is changing me. It reminds me that life is terribly fragile and short, that we are all just passing through this plane, ever so briefly. And that has impressed upon me how important it is to live boldly, bravely and openly, to embrace every part of me and celebrate it, to say and write the important things: the truth and my truth.

Paul Butler: The car as a symbol of freedom? Not if you’re Black.

When it comes to Black drivers and traffic stops, anti-Blackness is embedded in official practices authorized by the Supreme Court and embraced by law enforcement policies.

A car is one of the most dangerous places in America for a Black man. The risk comes from the police, not other drivers.

For White people, the automobile symbolizes freedom and adventure. But for people of color, the open road too often leads to racial profiling and police violence.

That is not an accident. Anti-Blackness is embedded in official practices authorized by the Supreme Court and embraced by law enforcement policies. [..]

This is not exclusively a race issue. When most Americans have a negative interaction with police, they are in their vehicles. Traffic stops and car crashes make up almost two of every three contacts between police and the public, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

But, as usual when it comes to law enforcement, Black people get it the worst. Virtually every study finds that they don’t commit more traffic offenses than anyone else, but they are disproportionately stopped by officers. It’s so bad that one report found African American drivers are less likely to get tickets in the evening, because when it’s dark, it’s harder for cops to discern the race of drivers.

Amanda Marcotte: Republican attacks on Maxine Waters prove the GOP is committed to a politics of white whining

Kevin McCarthy denies the GOP is racist only to disprove himself by blasting Maxine Waters with bad faith umbrage

Republican leaders really want to maintain the ridiculous myth that they aren’t the party of white supremacy, even as they send out fundraising emails full of winking praise for Tucker Carlson’s embrace of what can only be described as a white nationalist conspiracy theory. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona recently unveiled plans for a new Republican caucus called the “America First Caucus,” using overtly white nationalist rhetoric like “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and “the progeny of European architecture.” The failure to wrap their racism up in slightly more subtle coding drew immediate tut-tutting from GOP leadership, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R.-Calif., tweeting that the GOP is not about “nativist dog whistles.”

This is a neat trick McCarthy is pulling. He is redefining the bullhorn that Gosar and Taylor Greene were using as a “dog whistle,” setting the subtlety bar so low for racism that anything but a Klan hood and a burning cross is considered “debatable.” As Heather “Digby” Parton warned at Salon on Monday, this is “an old strategy by right-wingers that inexorably mainstreams their beliefs in a way that allows many of them to escape responsibility.” Republicans let the loudmouths take the heat of public backlash, but exploit the space that the extremists opened up to move ever more in the far-right direction.

Proving Parton’s theory almost immediately true, McCarthy then threw a massive fake tantrum over comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters. The California Democrat was in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Saturday to support protests against the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by a police officer, and was asked by reporters what people should do if the jury failed to convict Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd only miles away. [..]

It’s not a huge mystery what’s going on here, of course. Republican leaders know that their base is hungry for justifications for racism, especially when the news headlines are currently dominated by stories of senseless police violence. Bashing an 82-year-old Black woman and insinuating that she needs to sit down and shut up is plain old racist pandering.