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.

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Charles M. Blow: The Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Another black man falsely assumed to be a criminal is dead.

The video is short and shocking.

It’s taken from the perspective of a vehicle following a young black man running at a jogger’s pace. The jogger is 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery approaches a pickup truck parked in the street. There are two white men, one outside the vehicle with a shotgun, 34-year-old Travis McMichael, and the other, his father, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael, standing aloft in the flatbed.

The McMichaels had reportedly chased Arbery, blocking his path at another location, at which point he had turned around and jogged another way to avoid them.

In the video, when the men encounter each other, there’s immediately an altercation. Arbery and the younger McMichael fight for control of the shotgun.

Shots are fired. Arbery tries to run away, but he is clearly wounded and his knees buckle. He collapses to the ground. The video ends.

After Arbery fell, the younger McMichael rolled over the limp body “to see if the male had a weapon,” according to a police report. There was blood on McMichael’s hands when the police arrived.

Arbery died of his wounds. [..]

Neither of the McMichaels was arrested or charged. From the time this happened in late February, they have had the luxury of sleeping in their own beds, free men, while Arbery’s body is confined to a coffin, deep in a grave at New Springfield Baptist Church in Alexander, Ga.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s war on birth control: Always insulting and sexist; even worse during a pandemic

The world is falling apart, but the Trump administration wants women to clear pointless obstacles for contraception

Getting my birth control during the pandemic was not exactly easy. I had my annual exam scheduled for April 15, but it was canceled with a phone call. I managed to get a request in for my prescription renewal before the harried nurse got me off the phone, but she was too overwhelmed to deal with the mail-in pharmacy I usually use. So I put on my mask and stood in line at the local pharmacy for half an hour to get three little pill packets that will last until August.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My employer, Salon, doesn’t contest the federal law requiring that health insurance plans cover contraception. Unlike some women, I don’t have to endure the indignity of not getting my birth control because my boss thinks that women aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with the power to decide whether to have sex, or whether to get pregnant.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court — one more time! — heard arguments over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that classifies birth control as preventive care, which means health care plans must cover it without a copay. Since the rule was first written, it’s been a flashpoint for conservative anger about both women’s rights and Obamacare. No other form of preventive care — vaccines, cancer screenings, breastfeeding services — has been subject to so much litigation or public debate.

Trump vs. Pennsylvania is the third time the court has heard arguments over the rule. This time, the battle was over a Trump-era rewritten rule that grants employers the right to block employees from using their earned health care benefits to pay for contraception, if the employer claims to have a “moral” objection.

Paul Waldman: Republicans now want us to embrace mass death

The message from President Trump and Republicans on the novel coronavirus has gone through multiple phases, each as misleading and/or bizarre as the last. First they told us the virus would barely touch us. Then they said it was serious but Trump’s management would quickly make it disappear. Then they said it could have been worse, and anyway it isn’t Trump’s fault.

Now they’re arriving at what may be the most appalling message of all:

Sure, hundreds of thousands of Americans may die. But suck it up, America: We’ve got to get the economy going. [..]

We’re moving toward an utterly horrifying partisan divide, in which Democrats want to contain the virus so that we’re able to get the economy back on its feet, while Republicans decide that the only brave and manly thing to do is to stop worrying about the virus and “get back to normal” immediately, no matter how many Americans it kills. In fact, we may soon reach the point where dismissing all those deaths is precisely how you show your loyalty to Trump.

I’m sure there are plenty of Republicans who know what a moral disaster this is. But they’ve decided they have to follow Trump’s lead and praise him for the great job he’s doing, no matter how catastrophic it has actually been. And we haven’t even seen the worst of it.

Richard Wolffe: Dishonest Don’s Lincoln backdrop highlights his monumental errors

Having Donald Trump conduct a TV interview in the Lincoln Memorial must have seemed like a good idea at the time

One of the most obvious problems with parking yourself in a chair next to a colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln is that you look so very small.

Not one of the political and communications brains behind Donald Trump bothered to point this out when they dreamt up the dingbat notion of a live TV interview inside the hallowed Lincoln Memorial.

Nobody thought it was anything other than genius to compare the two presidents. One of them saved the Union and created the model for the muscular federal government we know today; the other got impeached for corrupting that government for his personal profit.

One gave his life to unite the country and free it from slavery. The other wants tens of thousands of Americans to give up their lives to free the country from lockdown.

One was known as Honest Abe. The other lied about paying off porn stars with hush money. You can see how they confused the two.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump changed the GOP. He didn’t change America.

President Trump has certainly cemented the Republican Party as the home of xenophobia, racism, anti-intellectualism, cruelty and lawlessness. However, in the midst of the worst domestic disaster in 100 years — and the worst presidency in U.S. history — it is time to reconsider the supposed demise of Americans’ common sense, decency, rationality and attachment to democracy.

The overwhelming majority of the country (two-thirds or more in most polls), a consensus rarely seen on any policy matter, favor a more cautious approach to reopening our economy, disbelieve Trump and trust medical experts. For all that Trump has done to attack the media and assail the concept of objective reality, Americans know that the pandemic is real, that social distancing is essential and that we take measures that infringe on our own rights and interests (e.g. stay home, wear a mask) not only to look out for ourselves but also to look out for others. Trump’s cruelty and lack of concern over more than 72,000 deaths have not polluted the body politic (at least the great majority of it) any more than his lies have changed Americans’ understanding of the pandemic. Science still demands our attention and respect.