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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Jack Holmes: Tom Cotton Is Not Trying to Persuade You. He’s Trying to Bludgeon You.

Some arguments backing the New York Times‘ decision to publish the senator’s screed betray a dangerously naive view of how authoritarian rhetoric operates. Many more are just dumb.

After the New York Times published a fascist screed from a sitting United States senator on Wednesday, in which Tom Cotton argued—using false premises—for deploying the military to crush the ongoing protests in cities across America, a predictable argument erupted in the public square.

“Free speech!” some shouted, as if the First Amendment grants everyone the inalienable right to have their shitty opinions published in the Paper of Record and disseminated to as many people as possible. You have every right to use your speech to advocate for violent government suppression of speech, even on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, but no one is obligated to hand you a megaphone. It’s not like Cotton could not have found some other platform from which to spew this constitutionally heinous bilge. The Times‘ decision to grant him their imprimatur, without challenging him in any way or providing readers with relevant context, is a moral atrocity. Make no mistake: his prescription would lead to the killing of American citizens in the streets of their own cities. He said so himself.


Joshua A. Geltzer, Neal K. Katyal, Jennifer Taub and Laurence H. Tribe: Trump’s authoritarianism in the streets is being matched in the courts

The Trump administration’s authoritarian behavior on the streets is being matched by its authoritarian positions in the federal courts. On Monday, as the administration used military force to push peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square, administration lawyers filed an astonishing brief in the federal appeals court down the street, urging the court to order the trial judge to dismiss the case against Michael Flynn.

The brief represents a remarkable new position by the Trump Justice Department: The doors of federal courthouses should be closed to hearing arguments other than those advanced by the department itself, and federal judges may not even inquire into whether the administration has acted improperly. [..]

The Justice Department told the appeals court that it should take the extraordinary step of intervening in the case — before Sullivan has ruled or even held a hearing — to stop him from doing so. “Simply put, the district court has no authority to reject the Executive’s conclusion,” the department said.

In other words: “None of your business, Judge Sullivan.” The Justice Department wants the case dropped, and so that’s it — the case should just go away, no questions asked, before the American people learned what happened. [..]

It may be inconvenient, at least in Trump’s view, for the administration to have protesters at the White House. And it may be inconvenient, at least in the Trump Justice Department’s view, to have its extraordinary action on behalf of one of the president’s allies scrutinized by a federal court. But that is what our system of free speech and an independent judiciary entails — whether Trump and his enablers like it or not.

Charles M. Blow: No More Lynching!

Legislation won’t fix white supremacy. But a government response can ensure that cruelty is punished.

America is in full revolt.

A simmering pain has boiled over. Protesters are in the streets. Looters are on the prowl. Political leadership is on the sidelines.

Black people have reached yet another breaking point, tired of America’s unresponsiveness to their pain, tired of its flaying of their flesh, tired of it depriving them of equality.

Allies, of all races, have come to the black people’s side, shocked at the continuation of the cruelty, embarrassed, in many cases, by their own heretofore inaction.

This moment is enormous, packed with potential and possibility, but it must be seized. For now, people are continuing to march, to join in solidarity, to make their voices heard and bodies seen.

The rage is real. It is urgent. It is fresh.

But, as I often say, rage is an expensive emotion. Try as we might, for noble cause and righteous intent, we are physically and psychologically incapable of maintaining it. It eventually recedes.

Sherrilyn Ifill: How to Change Policing in America

George Floyd’s excruciating death at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin and the ensuing nationwide protests have focused the country’s attention yet again on the decades-long issue of police violence against black Americans. Many are saying that we have “been here before.” But we haven’t.

With each new video of these horrifying killings and assaults, we move to a different place—and many black people have simply had it. We are weary of having “the talk” with our children that our parents had with us. And we are appalled by America’s tolerance for black death at the hands of law enforcement. And it’s not just black people. The protests in most cities have been multi-racial, with allies from many communities expressing their outrage. An impatience, a righteous anger, and an uncompromising demand for change lie at the core of these protests.

The response to activists’ demands must be swift, decisive, and transformative. After years of focusing on training and supervision, it is time to demand action by the elected officials and policymakers who are responsible for funding police departments, managing police leadership, and making and implementing laws governing police misconduct and accountability.

Amanda Marcotte: Poor sad #BunkerBoy: Now Trump wants to edit real life, like an episode of “The Apprentice”

While the country melts down, Trump tries to reshoot reality so we won’t know he’s total chickens**t “Bunker Boy”

Whatever the specifics of what Donald Trump’s diagnosis may be, from the moment protesters started to hit the streets to denounce police brutality, one thing was certain: The president’s brainworms would direct his energies away from doing anything useful and toward the task of managing his ego, relying on the reality TV tricks he mistakes for the real work of presidenting.

And so, while demonstrations began to spread and police engaged in ruthless attacks on nonviolent protesters, Americans have been subjected to Trump trying — feebly, but at great cost to both taxpayers and public safety — to assuage his ego by demanding that his real life display of weenie-ness be “fixed” with reshoots and post-production edits.

Everything goes back to the original narcissistic injury from the past weekend: The “Bunker Boy” meme. [..]

But Trump’s bunker-hunker on Saturday, made worse by his cruel and stupid Lafayette Square photo-op on Monday, are just out there in the real world. There is no way to fling the footage into the Trash folder, or to edit the crap out of it until it sends the “right” message. Trump’s continued demands that the world act like a reality-show producer who can keep giving him mulligans only reaffirms that he is, above all things, a narcissistic moron.

Candice Frederick: The brands rushing to defend black lives used to silence us. Does it get more shameless?

Vague platitudes about solidarity aren’t enough – not from organizations that discarded Kaepernick for taking a knee

When I first noticed that there were non-black faces in the myriad protests demanding justice for the police murder of George Floyd across the world over the last few days, I thought: it’s nice to see that oppressed black people aren’t the only ones speaking out about the oppression of black people. Because generally that’s been the case. But that feeling of relief dissolved after big organizations such as the NFL and The CW, as well as stars like Lea Michele, jumped on that bandwagon to align themselves with the fight for black humanity. Because these are some of the same platforms that have silenced us. [..]

For one split moment in time, it seemed like some of these influential white entities had finally gotten the point after years of directing their attention toward the absence of accountability, which extends far beyond the court system to the big and small screens as well as our football stadiums. But because we are living in a time when black people are so fed up that they are risking their lives marching in crowds during a pandemic to demand responsibility for white supremacy, pithy statements are no longer adequate declarations of alliance.