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: Biden, Yellen and the War on Leprechauns

Bribing corporations with low taxes isn’t the way to create jobs.

In the summer of 2016, Ireland’s Central Statistical Office reported something astonishing: The small nation’s gross domestic product had risen 26 percent in the previous year (a number that would later be revised upward). It would have been an amazing achievement if the growth had actually happened. [..]

What really happened? Ireland is a tax haven, with a very low tax rate on corporate profits. This gives multinational corporations an incentive to create Irish subsidiaries, then use creative accounting to ensure that a large share of their reported global profits accrue to those subsidiaries.

In 2015 a few big companies appear to have gotten even more aggressive about their profit-shifting, which led to a surge in the value of production they reported doing in Ireland — a surge that didn’t correspond to anything real.

To understand the big corporate tax reform proposed by the Biden administration, what you need to know is that it’s all about the leprechauns.

Charles M. Blow: Tucker Carlson and White Replacement

This racist theory is rooted in white supremacist panic.

On Thursday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson caused an uproar by promoting the racist, anti-Semitic, patriarchal and conspiratorial “white replacement theory.” Also known as the “great replacement theory,” it stands on the premise that nonwhite immigrants are being imported (sometimes the Jewish community is accused of orchestrating this) to replace white people and white voters. The theory is also an inherent chastisement of white women for having a lower birthrate than nonwhite women. [..]

But although white replacement theory is a conspiracy theory, the fact that the percentage of voters who are white in America is shrinking as a percentage of all voters is not. Neither is the fact that white supremacists are panicked about this.

White supremacists in this country have long worried about being replaced by people, specifically voters, who are not white. In the post-Civil War era, before the current immigrant wave from predominantly nonwhite countries, most of that anxiety in America centered on Black people.

Amanda Marcotte: Derek Chauvin’s trial is a test of whether facts matter

Will the truth prevail or will we face an ugly reminder of how often facts don’t matter in the face of bigotry?

There were two scenes from Minneapolis over the weekend, one real and one satirical, that illustrate why the ongoing trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is an intravenous line feeding a constant stream of anxiety into the national bloodstream.

First, the real: In the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday, police killed a 20-year-old Black man named Daunte Wright who they had pulled over for an alleged traffic violation and then attempted to arrest when it was discovered he had an outstanding warrant. Police haven’t said what traffic violation Wright committed to prompt police to pull him over or what the warrant was for. Wright reportedly attempted to flee and that is when police shot him. Protesters, understandably furious that yet another Black man who appears to have been no threat at all has died at the hands of police, hit the streets of Brooklyn Center Sunday evening. They were met with a police response that’s become numbingly common: Flashbangs, tear gas and rubber bullets.

As for the satirical, the cold open on “Saturday Night Live,” comedians Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and Alex Moffat play four Minneapolis news anchors, two Black and two white, discussing Chauvin’s trial. The dark joke of the skit is that the two white anchors are optimistic that the overwhelming evidence against Chauvin will surely result in a conviction, with McKinnon saying, “there’s no way the jury is going to fall for” the defense’s dumb arguments. But the two Black anchors are skeptical, with Thompson hastening to say, “I’m not saying that.

What ultimately matters more? Will it be the facts or will brute power prevail over reality itself?

Jamelle Bouie: Republicans’ Fake War Against ‘Woke Capital’

If they really wanted to help the working class, there is plenty they could do.

The Republican Party may not have much of an agenda to sell to the public right now, but it does have an enemy with which to rally its troops: “woke capital,” or those corporations that have adopted progressive rhetoric on social issues and used their platforms to support voting rights or back movements like Black Lives Matter. [..]

Republican “woke capital” critics are not actually interested in curbing corporate influence and putting power in the hands of workers. They don’t have a problem with corporate speech as a matter of principle. They have a problem with corporate speech as a matter of politics. If the situation were reversed, and corporations were vocal supporters of “election integrity,” it’s hard to imagine that McConnell or his allies would have a problem.

“Woke” capital also does not actually exist. A Black Lives Matter advertisement does not make up for the McDonald’s exploitative relationship to labor and the environment. Amazon might take a few items deemed offensive off its shelves, but it still relies on overworked and underpaid workers in its warehouses and delivery vehicles.

Capital is capital, and, culture war agitation notwithstanding, the Republican Party is more than willing to back its interests when it matters most.

Paul Butler: How toxic masculinity helped kill George Floyd

Cop machismo is an important way of understanding police violence against people of color.

The topic of “toxic masculinity” comes up more in conversations about #MeToo than about Black Lives Matter, understandably so. But cop machismo is an important way of understanding police violence against people of color. It helps explain why Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against George Floyd’s neck — continuing for two minutes after Floyd’s pulse stopped — and why three other officers chose to keep the crowd at bay rather than save Floyd’s life.

Much commentary on the broken relationship between police and African Americans focuses on anti-Black bias and structural discrimination. While it’s hard to overstate the role that race plays in policing, gender matters, too. Legal scholar Frank Rudy Cooper has described encounters between the police and African Americans as “Who’s the man?” contests. Some cops perform their masculinity by showing off their power and control over Black bodies. [..]

The final moments of Floyd’s life included a tragic conversation between him and Charles McMillian, an older African American man who told Floyd to do what the police told him, saying “You can’t win.” “I am not trying to win,” were the last words Floyd said to anyone at the scene other than the police officers who now charged in his death.

“Who’s the man?” contests are not actually contests in any meaningful sense. The police always win — at least in the short term. They have the guns and the authority of the law. But for bullying police officers intent on acting like men, too much power is never enough.