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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Eugene Robinson: It’s not complicated: Rayshard Brooks should be alive

Rayshard Brooks should be alive today, not dead at the hands of a trigger-happy Atlanta police officer after Brooks panicked and resisted a drunken driving arrest. The people who are attempting to justify Brooks’s killing aren’t convincing anyone. But they are illustrating just how much work we have to do to redefine what we want out of policing and to make clear that yes, black men’s lives matter even when they get drunk and fall asleep in a Wendy’s drive-through lane.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) was wrong Sunday, on “Face the Nation,” when he said of Brooks’s killing: “That situation is certainly a far less clear one than the ones that we saw with George Floyd and several other ones around the country.”

The ifs, ands and buts of the Brooks case should not be seen as mitigating factors but as counts in the indictment of a system that treats African Americans — and black men especially — as less than fully human. [..]

How often are white Americans killed by police for falling asleep in their cars at fast-food restaurants? Or for paying for items in a store with a bogus $20 bill, as Floyd allegedly did? Or for minding their own business in their own homes, like Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death during a no-knock raid? Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, murdered nine innocent African Americans at Mother Emanuel AME Church, and police managed to capture him alive. Brooks wounded a police officer’s pride and appears to have been executed for it.

Brooks’s encounter with the police was complicated, but whether his killing is justified is not “less clear.” Black lives are still disposable. And as long as there is no justice, there must be no peace.

Paul Krugman: Market Madness in the Pandemic

Why are investors rushing to buy junk?

After all these years, Hertz is No. 1 again. Not in market share: The car-rental company is a distant second to Enterprise. But Hertz has become Exhibit #1 of the madness that has been sweeping the stock market in these times of Covid-19 — a madness that may do considerable harm, not because stock prices themselves matter all that much, but because Donald Trump and his minions treat the stock market as a measure of their success.

About Hertz: Last month the company, which is deeply in debt and has seen its business plunge amid the pandemic, filed for Chapter 11 protection. This is a form of bankruptcy that keeps a company operating by restructuring its debts.

But while companies that enter Chapter 11 often survive, their stockholders are normally wiped out. So Hertz stock should have become more or less worthless.

Sure enough, Hertz’s stock price fell from more than $20 in February to less than $1 in early June. But then a funny thing happened: Investors suddenly piled into the stock, driving it up by more than 500 percent. And Hertz — in bankruptcy! — announced plans to raise money by selling more stock.

The Hertz story was just one example of a broader phenomenon. The run-up in stock prices that took place between mid-May and Thursday’s sudden plummet was driven, to an important extent, by investors rushing into very dubious companies — what one observer called a “flight to crap.”

Michelle Goldberg: Surprise! Justice on L.G.B.T. Rights From a Trump Judge

So much for “But Gorsuch.”

The sudden, rapid embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement by white people is a function of the undeniable brutality of George Floyd’s videotaped killing. But public opinion has also moved left on racial issues in reaction to an unpopular president who behaves like a cross between Bull Connor and Andrew Dice Clay.

And the thrilling 6-3 decision the Supreme Court just issued upholding L.G.B.T. equality wouldn’t be as devastating to the religious right if it had happened under a President Clinton.

Before Monday, you could legally be fired for being gay, bisexual or transgender in 26 states. Now the court has ruled that gay and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The decision has extra cultural force because it was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, and joined by the conservative chief justice John Roberts. [..]

The phrase “But Gorsuch” is shorthand for how conservatives justify all the moral compromises they’ve made in supporting Trump; controlling the Supreme Court makes it all worth it. So there’s a special sweetness in Gorsuch spearheading the most important L.G.B.T. rights decision since the 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

This isn’t simply Schadenfreude. The fact that this momentous ruling was written by a right-wing judge sends a message that progress on L.G.B.T. rights will be very hard to reverse.

Michelle Cottle: Ask Not What President Trump Can Do for You

His made-for-TV rallies can be matters of life and death.

Once again, President Trump is taking heat for treating the presidency like a branding exercise.

This time, instead of brandishing a Bible he doesn’t read next to a church he doesn’t attend, the president is resuming huge, made-for-TV campaign rallies. The first is set for Saturday in Tulsa, Okla. It will take place in a 19,000-seat arena that, in deference to the coronavirus pandemic that’s still raging, had canceled all other events through the end of July.

For Trump’s triumphal return, his campaign has decided that no social distancing is required. He wants this to be a spectacle, packed with as much noisy adoration as possible.

But whatever risks those attending might incur, Team Trump is taking steps to ensure that it bears none. All rally attendees must sign a liability waiver holding the campaign legally blameless in the event that people subsequently fall sick. Or drop dead. [..]

Now Mr. Trump is thinking even bigger — and demanding greater risk from his most faithful followers. From a public health standpoint, resuming large, crowded, indoor rallies is madness. But the president is not content simply to endanger the lives of his supporters. He is demanding they sign away their rights for the privilege.

As promised, Mr. Trump continues to disrupt and redefine presidential norms. Downward.

Amanda Marcotte: Coronavirus is back, and spreading — but let’s blame Trump, instead of each other

An indefinite lockdown was always unsustainable, but Trump’s lack of a plan led to our current predicament

Donald Trump wants to pretend the coronavirus is in the rearview mirror, but reports over the weekend suggested that instead the U.S. is witnessing a resurgence of the virus after weeks of decline. Twenty-one states have seen an increase of new cases in recent days. Most of the spikes are in Republican-controlled states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona, where governors curried favor with Trump by lifting restrictions long before meeting even some of the criteria recommended by public health officials. On Sunday, the death toll from the virus, now at 118,000, surpassed the number of American lives lost in World War I.

In response to this surge, Americans living in our polarized political culture are pointing the finger at each other. Conservatives are opportunistically blaming the anti-racism protests spreading across both big urban areas and small towns. Liberals, on the other hand, are casting a gimlet eye on Americans who have crowded into outdoor spaces at bars and restaurants in states that have allowed those establishments to reopen. [..]

But whether those engaging in corona-shaming are on my political “team” or not, my heart sinks to see it. People need to stop blaming each other. Instead, we should focus our ire on Trump and the Republicans, who have put us in this untenable choice between indefinite lockdown and the coronavirus spreading unchecked.

The lockdown was never supposed to be indefinite.

The lockdown was supposed to be a temporary emergency measure, put in place so that the federal government could draft a long-term plan to ramp up testing and tracing, as well as medical response, so the country could be reopened in a safer manner and our health care systems wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

Trump got in the way of formulating such a plan, much less implementing one, because he committed early on to the idea that the best approach was to let people get infected by the millions and simply deny that it was happening (which is why he is so opposed to testing).

On Monday, Trump reiterated this notion that it’s better to lie about it than deal with it: