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: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/opinion/coal-mine-workers-climate.html

A document from the United Mine Workers offers reason to hope.

“Change is coming, whether we seek it or not.” So declares a remarkable document titled “Preserving Coal Country,” released Monday by the United Mine Workers of America, in which the union — which at its peak represented half a million workers — accepts the reality that coal isn’t coming back. Instead, it argues, the goal should be “a true energy transition that will enhance opportunities for miners, their families and their communities.”

It’s good to see this kind of realism. Remember, back in 2016 Donald Trump promised that he would restore coal to its former greatness, reopening shuttered mines — and voters in coal country believed him. Many of them probably still imagine that something like that is possible.

The union, however, understands that it isn’t. What killed the mines wasn’t a “war on coal”; it was technological progress, first in the extraction of natural gas, then in solar and wind power. Generating electricity from coal would be economically unviable even if we didn’t have to worry about climate change.

Of course, we do need to worry about climate change, which is an existential threat to civilization. The question is how to address this threat.

Michelle Goldberg: Biden, the World Needs Your Help to End the Pandemic

The president should keep his promise on vaccine patents.

Last July, during the presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised the universal health care advocate Ady Barkan that he wouldn’t let intellectual property laws stand in the way of worldwide access to coronavirus vaccines.

“The World Health Organization is leading an unprecedented global effort to promote international cooperation in the search for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines,” said Barkan. “But Donald Trump has refused to join that effort, cutting America off from the rest of the world. If the U.S. discovers a vaccine first, will you commit to sharing that technology with other countries, and will you ensure there are no patents to stand in the way of other countries and companies mass-producing those lifesaving vaccines?”

Biden was unequivocal. “It lacks any human dignity, what we’re doing,” he said of Trump’s vaccine isolationism. “So the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And it’s not only a good thing to do, it’s overwhelmingly in our interest to do.”

Yet now that Biden is in power, his perception of our interest doesn’t seem quite so clear. Last year, India and South Africa requested a waiver from World Trade Organization rules governing intellectual property for technology dealing with the pandemic. Dozens of mostly developing countries have since joined them. A handful of rich nations, including the United States, oppose the waiver, but there’s a widespread belief that if America changes its position, other countries will follow. Much of the world is waiting to see what Biden does.

Eugene Robinsosn: Derek Chauvin’s conviction shouldn’t feel like a victory. But it does.

That a jury saw George Floyd as fully human, and trusted their eyes and ears, is just a start.

It shouldn’t have been an open question whether a police officer could kneel on a man’s neck for more than nine minutes, snuffing out his life, with complete or even partial impunity. We shouldn’t have had to hold our collective breath from the moment it was announced there was a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial to the moment that verdict was read. This shouldn’t feel so much like a victory.

But it does. The jurors in Chauvin’s trial trusted their eyes and ears. They saw the video of George Floyd pinned to the hard pavement, they heard him plead again and again that he couldn’t breathe, and they held Chauvin fully accountable.

They saw George Perry Floyd Jr. — fully — as a human being.

So many times, that simple acknowledgment of humanity has apparently been too much to ask. The police officers who killed Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and so many other Black men either were acquitted of wrongdoing or never even charged. Chauvin’s conviction is a tremendous relief — and, one hopes, a beginning. [..]

Right now, though, it is possible to feel both elation and relief. George Floyd won justice today. So did we all.

Richard L. Hasen: Republicans Aren’t Done Messing With Elections

Mr. Hasen is the author of several books about elections and democracy. Last year he proposed a 28th amendment to the Constitution to defend and expand voting rights.

Not content with limiting voting rights, they are threatening the integrity of vote counting itself.

A new, more dangerous front has opened in the voting wars, and it’s going to be much harder to counteract than the now-familiar fight over voting rules. At stake is something I never expected to worry about in the United States: the integrity of the vote count. The danger of manipulated election results looms.

We already know the contours of the battle over voter suppression. The public has been inundated with stories about Georgia’s new voting law, from Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta to criticism of new restrictions that prevent giving water to people waiting in long lines to vote. With lawsuits already filed against restrictive aspects of that law and with American companies and elite law firms lined up against Republican state efforts to make it harder to register and vote, there’s at least a fighting chance that the worst of these measures will be defeated or weakened.

The new threat of election subversion is even more concerning. These efforts target both personnel and policy; it is not clear if they are coordinated. They nonetheless represent a huge threat to American democracy itself.

Amanda Marcotte: Tucker Carlson’s immigration bait-and-switch betrays his desperation

No one denies that immigration brings change, Tucker — just that it’s racist to be angry about it

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is really determined to sell his audience on what is — and this cannot be stressed enough — a literal neo-Nazi conspiracy theory. Neo-Nazis and other white nationalist groups have long pushed the idea that a shadowy cabal of Jews is secretly conspiring to “remake” America and “steal” it from its rightful owners, white Christians. They are supposedly doing this by “importing” non-white people — who neo-Nazis believe to be mentally inferior and therefore easily controlled by the shadowy Jewish conspiracy — into the U.S.

Carlson’s only spin is replacing the word “Jews” with “Democrats,” but other than that, he’s lifting “replacement theory” wholesale from the neo-Nazi dregs of the internet and now is repackaging this ridiculous conspiracy theory as if it were an inarguable fact, much to the delight of white nationalists. And because Carlson’s main modus operandi is trolling, he’s relishing the negative attention he gets by hyping a racist conspiracy theory and he’s using his audience’s love of liberal-triggering to encourage them to mindlessly burrow deeper into the worldview of unapologetic fascists.

Carlson is a moral monster. It’s likely he has been this way since his high school “Dan White Society” days. Sadly, he is a monster that must be dealt with, despite the unfortunate risk of troll-feeding. It’s not just because Carlson has an audience that regularly tops 3 million viewers, though that alone is terrifying. It’s that he is a smart man whose strategy for selling this conspiracy theory is sinister and clever. To fight back, it’s crucial that progressives don’t fall into the trap he is setting.

Basically, Carlson is pulling off two bait-and-switch routines. First, he falsely conflates any cultural change with his ridiculous “replacement” conspiracy theory. Second, he tries to paint the debate as one over whether change is real — something that literally no one contests — so as to avoid talking about the real issue, which is how it’s nuclear-level racist to react to cultural change like it’s some kind of existential threat. In reality, it’s just what happens if you’re lucky to live long enough to experience it.