Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium 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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Pauline Brock: The French protests, like Brexit, are a raging cry for help from the disenfranchised

What is Emmanuel Macron thinking, as he watches the images of the current protests in France? Does he wonder whether this is a revolt or a revolution? In both scenarios, he occupies the status of the hated king.

The “yellow vest” movement, or the gilets jaunes, named for the fluorescent safety jackets its members wear, has been blocking roads and motorways all around the country and protesting in Paris streets every weekend since 17 November. It started as a protest against rising fuel taxes, but has morphed into an explosive anti-precarity atmosphere. [..]

Resentment against the “president of the rich”, as Macron is known, and against the urban elite who can focus on climate change because they don’t rely on their car to live, will only wind down if the yellow vests see an improvement in their economic power. The price of the ecological transition, like taxes in general, must be seen as a collective effort, not something to be paid only by the French “squeezed middle”.

Macron is not wrong. This is not a revolt, monsieur le président. It’s the French equivalent to Brexit – a raging cry for help from the disenfranchised. Unlike the British ruling elite, it would be wise, after saying that you heard them, to act on what they say.

Christine Emba: Michelle Obama just said what we’re all thinking

“That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time. That’s a lie,” said Michelle Obama. “And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that s— doesn’t work all the time.” The crowd at her Saturday night book-tour stop was already hanging on every word, but this line set them alight.

A former first lady saying the s-word will always cause a stir, and Obama quickly apologized — “I forgot where I was for a moment!”

But the excitement was for something else, too — a jolt of affirmation. The audience in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and the younger fans who endlessly shared and retweeted the moment, felt the delight of having their feelings seen and recognized and their disappointment validated.

Obama’s reference to “leaning in” called out Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book and the movement it sparked. On the heels of the Great Recession, the Facebook chief operating officer encouraged young women to follow her example. “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” promised that working harder would lead to individual advancement and to a more gender-equitable economy as a whole.

Except it didn’t. The eager young joiners of the “Lean In” circles watched as the number of women in leadership positions actually fell after the book’s publication, as the #MeToo movement exposed more intractable barriers to success and as Sandberg herself came under fire for her behavior at Facebook. It was all deflating, but really that deflation is just part of a larger trend

DD Guttenplan: Across Trump’s America, the grassroots are growing radical

Depending on which media you consume, Donald Trump will either leave office in handcuffs – or coast to a second term. Making sense of American politics has never been easy, but the extreme polarisation of the press and the public has made it much more difficult.

Last month’s midterm results were no exception. Were they a vindication of President Trump and the Republican party, who strengthened their grip on the Senate, or a triumph for the Democrats, who regained control of the House of Representatives? While there is evidence on both sides of the argument, the question itself misses the point. So does the media focus on whether there really was a “blue wave” carrying Democrats to victory or a “red wall” based on Trump’s personal popularity protecting him and his party. [..]

The real question is what is happening at the grassroots. What explains Trump’s enduring popularity, not just among hardcore racists, but among blue-collar workers who voted twice for Barack Obama? How did Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams wage such competitive races in the south? What powered Ilhan Omar to victory in Minnesota, Sharice Davids (who is Native American and lesbian) in Kansas, Colin Allred in Texas, Antonio Delgado and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York?

Cornel West: Why did CNN fire a pro-Palestinian commentator?

Why is it so difficult, if not impossible, to have a candid debate about the grim Israeli-Palestinian catastrophe that prevails in our midst? What stands in the way of our capacity to grasp the undeniable need for justice for Palestinians and the understandable fear of annihilation of the Jews in Israel? Is the only option a desperate Palestinian counter-violent struggle against the structural and military violence of the occupying Israeli state?

The recent firing of Marc Lamont Hill by CNN for calling for a free Palestine once again opens up this Pandora’s box – with little, if any, hope left for a non-violent solution. Many supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, such as Hill and myself, see this strategy as a last-ditch effort to avoid more bloodshed. This is especially important in the US context, as $3.1bn dollars of military aid currently goes to Israel to support such an unjust and inhumane occupation.

Yet we must persevere and persist in our quest for free Palestinians and secure Jews in Israel. We must put the rich humanity of Palestinians and Jews in Israel center stage by highlighting their equal calls for respect, fairness and accountability. First and foremost, this equality means a wholesale stoppage of the silencing of honest and compassionate voices critical of the lethal status quo.

Rebecca Solnit: Trump’s countless scams are finally catching up to him

The news is generally reported piecemeal, with a focus on what just happened or the specifics of one story. The result is that the cumulative effect often escapes detection. Journalism tends to describe the fragments and not the pattern they make up, which for readers can be like watching a movie shot entirely in closeups. So it is with the travails of Donald J Trump. He is in so many kinds of legal hot water, and the explosive new stories tend to erase the earlier ones from view, just as his own transgressions tend to overshadow his earlier misconduct.

Who talks of how grotesquely he groveled before Vladimir Putin and denied his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions in the long-ago, far-away world of July 2018 when so much has happened since? Who remembers the abrupt firing of the FBI director James Comey in the ancient days of May 2017, when the abrupt firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on 7 November is so fresh? The Washington Post’s running list of lies (up to 5,000 in September) and the New York Times catalogue of people, places, and things he’s insulted on Twitter (548 as of Monday) are helpful.