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: Andrew Yang Hasn’t Done the Math

Was his economic story too good to check?

Will Andrew Yang, the current front-runner, become New York City’s next mayor? If he wins, would he be any good at the job? I have no idea, although I’m skeptical about the latter.

My guess is that the mayoral office needs an effective political brawler, not an intellectual, and Yang, who has never held office, owes his prominence largely to his reputation as a thought leader, someone with big ideas about economics and policy.

What I do know is that Yang’s big ideas are demonstrably wrong. Shouldn’t that be cause for concern?

Yang’s claim to fame is his argument that we’re facing social and economic crises because rapid automation is destroying good jobs and that the solution is universal basic income — a monthly check of $1,000 to every American adult. Many people find that argument persuasive, and one can imagine a world in which both Yang’s diagnosis and his prescription would be right.

But that’s not the world we’re living in now, and there’s little indication that it’s where we’re going any time soon.

Erik Loomis: Why the Amazon Workers Never Stood a Chance

Mr. Loomis is a historian of labor who writes extensively about unions, politics and workers.

Our system of labor law and regulations has too strongly tilted the playing field in favor of companies and against unions.

Labor activists had great hopes for the attempt to organize the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., and the effort by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union attracted national attention.

President Biden released a video in support of the right of workers to join a union without company interference. As far as I know, no previous president — not even Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Harry Truman — made such a direct statement about a specific union campaign. Other high-profile supporters of the union — from Senator Bernie Sanders to the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II — appeared at rallies in Bessemer.

But the union lost the election — and in a rout. Some critics claimed it did not do the proper legwork to gain worker support. The lack of a union culture in Alabama meant few workers had experience with one. (And only roughly half the eligible workers voted.)

But the biggest barrier for the union — as it is in nearly every private sector union campaign in the country — is that the system of labor law and regulations created in the New Deal no longer functions effectively. Corporate manipulation of the labor law regime has so strongly tilted the playing field in favor of companies that winning a private sector union election has become nearly impossible.

Stephen I. Vladeck: The Supreme Court Is Making New Law in the Shadows

Mr. Vladeck is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches courses on the federal courts and constitutional law. He also co-hosts a podcast on national security law.

The justices are defying their procedural rules to rewrite the Constitution.

Late last Friday, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, issued an emergency injunction blocking California’s Covid-based restrictions on in-home gatherings on the ground that, insofar as they interfere with religious practice, they violate the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

Reasonable minds will disagree on this new standard for free exercise claims. But a far more glaring problem with the court’s decision is that it wasn’t an appropriate moment to reach it.

Like so many of the justices’ more controversial rulings in the last few years, this one came on the court’s “shadow docket,” and in a context in which the Supreme Court’s own rules supposedly limit relief to cases in which the law is “indisputably clear.”

Whatever else might be said about it, this case, Tandon v. Newsom, didn’t meet that standard. Instead, the justices upended their own First Amendment jurisprudence in the religion sphere, making new law in a way their precedents at least used to say they couldn’t. [..]

But recent years have seen a significant uptick in the volume of “shadow docket” rulings that are resolving matters beyond those issues, especially orders changing the effect of lower-court rulings while they are appealed. Indeed, Friday night’s injunction was at least the 20th time since the court’s term began last October that the justices have issued a shadow docket ruling altering the status quo. And the more substantive work that the justices carry out through such (usually) unsigned and unexplained orders, the more the “shadow docket” raises concerns about the transparency of the court’s decision making, if not the underlying legitimacy of its decisions.

Charles M. Blow: Rage Is the Only Language I Have Left

Society has become horribly desensitized to police killings of Black men.

One of the first times I wrote about the police killing of an unarmed Black man was when Michael Brown was gunned down in the summer of 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was a Black teenager accused of an infraction in a convenience store just before his life was taken. Last summer, six years on, I wrote about George Floyd, a large Black man accused of an infraction in a convenience store, this time in Minneapolis. [..]

Something is horrifyingly wrong. And yet, the killings keep happening. Brown and Floyd are not even the bookends. There were many before them, and there will be many after.

These killings often happen during the day and in public, not under the cover of night, tucked away in some back wood. And they are often caught on video. Tamir Rice was killed during the day. There was video. Walter Scott was killed during the day. There was video. Eric Garner was killed during the day. There was video.

Now there is another: Daunte Wright, shot and killed during the day in Brooklyn Center, Minn., not far from where Floyd was killed. There is video.

Very little has changed. The aftermath of these killings has become a pattern, a ritual, that produces its own normalizing and desensitizing effects. We can now anticipate the explosions of rage as well and the relative intransigence of the political system in response.

Amanda Marcotte: Why Republicans are rejecting the COVID vaccine: GOP wants to drag out lockdowns to hurt Biden

The right-wing death cult is getting better at convincing conservatives to reject vaccines

Vaccination rates are improving at a steady clip. As of Wednesday afternoon, almost 124 million Americans have received at least one shot and over 76 million are fully vaccinated. There have been no meaningful bad effects from either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and only a handful of extremely rare incidents that have forced the FDA to temporarily pause the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccines are safe, effective, and well-documented on social media. These are the exact conditions — basically, other people getting it first and proving it’s safe — that many vaccine-hesitant Americans were telling pollsters that they wanted to see in order to convince them to get the vaccine.

And yet, a new poll released Wednesday by Monmouth University shows the number of Americans — 1 in 5 — who refuse to get vaccinated has barely dropped from where it was in polls conducted in January and March. The only thing that’s really changed is the excuse people are offering for why. In the past, 21% of Americans gave the “let others do it first” answer. Now only 12% of people are even bothering to pretend that condition hasn’t been met yet.

Instead, what’s becoming ever more clear is the reluctance to get vaccinated is about one thing and one thing only: Owning the libs.