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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Paul Krugman: The Economy Is Spinning Its Wheels, and About to Take Off

The bad news is a byproduct of extraordinary good news.

You’re driving to an appointment, but you’re running late, and you’re stuck at a red light. Being a law-abiding citizen, you won’t run the light, but you floor the gas pedal the second it changes.

And for a sickening instant — maybe because the pavement is a bit wet — your tires spin uselessly before they gain traction and your car lurches forward.

You say that this has never happened to you? Yeah, right. Anyway, wheelspin is a common phenomenon, and usually harmless. A few minutes after your awkward jack rabbit start you’re driving normally, having mostly forgotten the whole incident.

Which brings me to the current state of the U.S. economy. The business news these days is full of anxiety. Raw material prices are soaring! Businesses can’t find workers! It’s the 1970s all over again!

Chill out, everyone. Mostly we’re just experiencing the economic equivalent of a moment of wheelspin.

Rebecca Solnit: Stop glorifying ‘centrism’. It is an insidious bias favoring an unjust status quo

The notion of a neutral and moderate middle is a prejudice of people for whom the system is working, against those for whom it’s not

The idea that all bias is some deviation from an unbiased center is itself a bias that prevents pundits, journalists, politicians and plenty of others from recognizing some of the most ugly and impactful prejudices and assumptions of our times. I think of this bias, which insists the center is not biased, not afflicted with agendas, prejudices and destructive misperceptions, as status-quo bias. Underlying it is the belief that things are pretty OK now, that the people in charge should be trusted because power confers legitimacy, that those who want sweeping change are too loud or demanding or unreasonable, and that we should just all get along without looking at the skeletons in the closet and the stuff swept under the rug. It’s mostly a prejudice of people for whom the system is working, against those for whom it’s not. [..]

People fail to recognize things that do not fit into their worldview, which is why those in power have not adequately responded to decades of terrorism by white men – anti-reproductive-rights-driven killings, racial violence in churches, mosques, synagogues and elsewhere, homophobia and transphobia, the pandemic-scale misogynist violence behind a lot of mass shootings, attacks on environmentalists, and white supremacy in the ranks of the police and the military. Finally, this year the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, called this terrorism by its true name and identified it as “the most dangerous threat to our democracy”. The constant assumption has been that crime and trouble comes from outsiders, from “them”, not “us”, which is why last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were constantly portrayed by conservatives and sometimes the mainstream as far more violent and destructive than they were and the right has had such an easy time demonizing immigrants.

Norman Solomon: Biden’s eloquence with Floyd family will ring hollow if he gives Rahm Emanuel a key job

In Chicago, Emanuel helped cover up the police killing of a Black teenager. Does he deserve a key diplomatic post?

If President Biden meant what he said after meeting with George Floyd’s family in the Oval Office earlier this week, he won’t nominate Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan. But recent news reports tell us that’s exactly what he intends to do.

After the meeting, Biden declared that the murder of Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer “launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights era in the ’60s — protests that peacefully unified people of every race and generation to collectively say enough of the senseless killings.” The words were valuable, and so was the symbolism of the president hosting Floyd’s loved ones on the first anniversary of his death.

But the value of the White House event will be weakened if Biden names Emanuel to one of this country’s top diplomatic posts, evidently ignoring the latter’s well-earned notoriety for the cover-up of a video showing the police murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. [..]

Blocking Emanuel’s nomination to be the top American diplomat in Japan won’t bring back Laquan McDonald or any of the other African Americans murdered by police. But it would send a strong signal to mayors and other public officials that covering up brutal police violence is bad for career advancement.

Greg Sargent: A GOP senator’s angry shaming of Mitch McConnell demands more from Democrats

Lisa Murkowski told the brutal truth about the GOP. Democrats are the ones who must act on it.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski just staged a last-ditch effort to persuade Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconsider his opposition to a commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. The Alaska Republican appealed to her Kentucky colleague’s conscience.

In an extraordinary nine-minute session with reporters, Murkowski called on McConnell to stop placing “short-term political gain” before the need to grapple with what really happened on Jan. 6. At stake are the “principles of democracy we hold so dear,” which must be valued “beyond just one election cycle.”

It didn’t work, of course. Senate Republicans just successfully filibustered the commission. A couple more Republicans voted for it than expected, but still, virtually all voted against even allowing it to be debated.

Murkowski did a good job shedding light on the problem we now face. But here’s the thing: In the end, only Democrats can begin to solve that problem. [..]

Yes, the holdup is largely about Sen. Joe Manchin III’s (D-W.Va.) opposition to ending the filibuster. But as Ron Brownstein demonstrates, it’s not clear whether President Biden takes the macro-threat seriously, which would entail making serious appeals to Manchin and putting real muscle behind reform.

It’s time to give up on the theater of shaming Republicans. Instead, all this should be understood as a challenge that Democrats must rise to meet, if it is to be met at all.

Christine Emba: Why conservatives really fear critical race theory

Anti-CRT pushback is an emotional defense against unwanted change, not an intellectual disagreement.

One year ago this week, the police killing of George Floyd rocked the country, setting off the largest mass civil rights protests in a generation and inspiring a wave of soul-searching about the roles that race and racism still play in American life.

But as quickly as the wave rose, it crested and crashed — at least among some groups. Since last summer, Republicans and Whites in particular have become less supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement than they were before Floyd’s death.

Why? Because theoretical discussions of racial injustice turned into a more direct personal challenge to the race in power. [..]

Calls for racial accountability can feel like an attack when you aren’t ready to acknowledge how your behavior, or that of your ancestors, has harmed others. When your priority is to preserve a particular mythology — the United States as a land of equal opportunity — the push to take a critical view of the United States’ racial history becomes a threat. It might result in a real rethinking of the order of things, which might result in culpability, which might result in recognition that recompense is needed. (Hm, recompense — sounds like “reparations,” a subject America remains unwilling to touch with a 10-foot pole.)

For many White people, a year of trying to be non-racist was more than enough.

In a post-George Floyd world where anti-racist reading lists abound and even John Deere, not exactly a paragon of inclusion, is solemnly pledging to fight racial inequality, being openly uncomfortable with discussions of racial justice is passe. Suggesting you’d rather not change the racial status quo is seen, justifiably, as immoral. But disguising one’s discomfort with racial reconsideration as an intellectual critique is still allowed.