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: An Insatiable Rage

It is an everyday struggle to neither fall into despair nor explode in anger.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the massive wave of protests that have swept the country and the world, New York State on Friday passed a package of policing reforms, banning chokeholds and opening police disciplinary records, among other things.

After signing the bills into law, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at one of his coronavirus news conferences: “You don’t need to protest, you won. You accomplished your goal. Society says you’re right, the police need systemic reform.”

Cuomo’s statement betrays a fundamental understanding of this moment.

Yes, the package of bills he signed, and the steps being taken in other cities and states, represent movement in the right direction on the issue of policing, but people aren’t only in the streets because of a single killing or a single issue.

People are marching as a way of screaming, a way of exhaling pain, as an enormous group catharsis.

This isn’t only about the pain of police brutality, it’s about all the pain. This is about all the injustice and disrespect and oppression. This is about ancestry and progeny.

Jamelle Bouie: To Overturn Trump, We Need to Overturn White Supremacy

For that to happen, some monuments — and the historical myths they supported — are going to have to come down.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that a nationwide protest over police brutality would, for some, become a reason to take action against Confederate statues and other controversial monuments. But it has. In just the last week, protesters have knocked down Confederate statues in Richmond, Va., Nashville and Montgomery, Ala., as well as monuments to Christopher Columbus in Boston and St. Paul, Minn.

This is because the George Floyd protests are not just about police violence. They’re about structural racism and the persistence of white supremacy; about the unresolved and unaddressed disadvantages of the past, as well as the bigotry that has come to dominate far too much of American politics in the age of Trump. Born of grief and anger, they’re an attempt to turn the country off the path to ruin. And part of this is necessarily a struggle over our symbols and our public space.

Another way to put this observation is that police brutality, the proximate cause of these protests, is simply an acute instance of the many ways in which the lives of black Americans (and other groups) are degraded and devalued. And while the most consequential form this degradation takes are material — the Covid-19 crisis, for example, has revealed to many Americans the extent to which black lives are still shaped by a deep racial inequality that leaves them disproportionately vulnerable to illness and premature death — there are also many symbolic statements of black worth, or the lack thereof, out there for all to see.

George T. Conway III: John Bolton made a tragic mistake. It’s not the one you might think.

John Bolton made a mistake. It’s not the one you may think it is.

The former national security adviser’s memoir about his experiences working for President Trump will arrive on June 23. For months, the book has triggered criticism that Bolton put commercial profit over country by saving his depiction of Trump for the book, instead of providing it under oath during Trump’s impeachment proceedings last winter. A new wave of such criticism hit Bolton on Friday, when his publisher revealed more about what’s in the book. [..]

If Bolton was trying to preserve and enhance the commercial value of his manuscript by avoiding testifying, he likely blundered: More people may well be dissuaded from buying the book than will rush to snap it up.

But Bolton’s supposed cash-over-country motive actually makes little sense at all.

Imagine the book Bolton could have written had he testified. Not only could he have told the story of Trump’s malfeasance, but he also could have depicted his own courage in coming forward, along with the possibly dramatic consequences. He might have changed history — and could have told that story firsthand. That would have been a blockbuster for the ages. John Dean’s “Blind Ambition” spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list, and copies of its 40th anniversary edition remain available for purchase. Had Bolton been motivated purely by profit or even simple self-aggrandizement, he could have maximized both by testifying.

Yet Bolton didn’t. The question is why. It wasn’t because Bolton feared Trump; he plainly does not. The promotional materials for his book, which tell us Bolton is perfectly happy to brand Trump an unfit, self-absorbed menace to America’s security, make that clear.

Muriel Bowser: The protests show why D.C. statehood matters

Muriel E. Bowser is mayor of the District of Columbia.

The moment I decided to create Black Lives Matter Plaza was when I came face to face with a line of federal police blocking a street in my legal jurisdiction. I was downtown with members of my Interfaith Council to pray for wisdom and peace. Here we were in my hometown, in the capital of the United States of America, with people all around us protesting for change, demanding reforms to the racist and broken systems that killed George Floyd and so many black Americans before him. But instead of bringing the country together, the federal government was blocking the streets. It was clear the president was doing everything he could to tear us apart.

Just a few nights before my walk downtown, federal helicopters flew dangerously low to frighten and disperse protesters in streets of the nation’s capital. Like a scene from a dystopian movie, Americans saw images of soldiers in camouflage arrayed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Units of federal law enforcement officers lacking any identifying insignia roamed downtown.

This blatant degradation of our home right before my own eyes offered another reminder — a particularly powerful one — of why we need statehood for the District. Another reminder that the fight for statehood cannot be separated from the fight for racial justice.

Robert Reich: Trump stokes division with racism and rage – and the American oligarchy purrs

The president is the best thing that ever happened to the corporate elite, a distraction on the lines of the old Jim Crow

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, took the knee last week before cameras at a branch of his bank. Larry Fink, CEO of giant investment fund BlackRock, decried racial bias. Starbucks vowed to “stand in solidarity with our black partners, customers and communities”. The Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO, David Solomon, said he grieved “for the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other victims of racism”.

And so on across the highest reaches of corporate America, an outpouring of solidarity with those protesting brutal police killings of black Americans and systemic racism.

But most of this is for show. [..]

Half a century ago, Martin Luther King Jr observed much the same about the old southern aristocracy, which “took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than a black man.”

Trump is the best thing ever to have happened to the new American oligarchy, and not just because he has given them tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks.

He has also stoked division and racism so that most Americans don’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers, won’t notice giant tax cuts and bailouts for big corporations and the wealthy while most people make do with inadequate schools and unaffordable healthcare, and don’t pay attention to the bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign donations.

The only way systemic injustices can be remedied is if power is redistributed. Power will be redistributed only if the vast majority – white, black and brown – join together to secure it.

Which is what the oligarchy fears most.