Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Super Tuesday’s big winner is already settled

The polls haven’t closed, but here’s one thing we already know: The big winners of Super Tuesday are the super PACs and big-money politics. In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, the super PACs’ farcically described “independent expenditures” were far greater than the spending of the candidates’ campaigns.

A Las Vegas billionaire single-handedly has kept Newt Gingrich in the race. Mitt Romney’s “vulture capitalist” biography may raise doubts in some voters’ minds, but it has helped him sweep the money primary. And while Romney has found it hard to win significant support from Republican voters, his “independent” super PAC – Restore Our Future – has used that dough to carpet-bomb with negative ads any opponent who has risen to challenge him.

Laura Flanders:

Three years ago, a worker occupation in Chicago saved a factory and sent up a flare of resistance. Three years on, workers at the same factory are illuminating not only how workers might resist layoffs but also what they might do next.

“Last time it took six days. This time it took about eleven hours.” That’s union representative Leah Fried describing winning another reprieve last week for the factory formerly known as Republic Windows and Doors.

In December 2008, days after receiving a $25 billion federal bailout, Bank of America cut off Republic’s credit, leading management to fire all 250 workers without pay or notice. With layoffs approaching 500,000 a month around the country, Republic’s workers and their union, the militant United Electrical Workers, voted to resist. They occupied the plant and stayed, winning the hearts of downcast Americans everywhere and inspiring even an incoming US president. Bank of America backed down, giving the factory time to find a new buyer, which it did, a company called Serious Energy.

Diana Rocerts: The Republican party declares war on women

The more Republican candidates pitch for social conservative votes, the more we see the misogyny of America’s religious right

Republicans and their Tea Party shock troops say they want to “take America back”. Progressives think they mean back to the 1950s, back to when men were men, women were ladies, and black folks only got into the White House by the back door. But Republicans are thinking big: they actually want to take us back to the Middle Ages, back to the “good old days” of sexual repression, regulation and punishment.

Forget the economy: this election is becoming a referendum on women’s bodies, since it’s women (according to the Republicans’ Book of Holy Misogyny) who like to have sex without wanting to get pregnant, and, if they do get pregnant, might want to have an abortion; women who demand, as former Senator Rick Santorum says, a “license to do things in the sexual realm that is [sic] counter to how things are supposed to be.”

You know, “sluts”.

Maria Tomchick: A Meltdown in Communication: Nuclear Disaster and Corporate Accountability

A new report released by The Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation questions the safety of nuclear power, especially in the hands of private companies.

A team of 30 lawyers, university professors, and journalists interviewed several hundred people involved with last year’s triple nuclear plant meltdown at Fukushima. What they found should serve as a caution to the U.S. government and the U.S. nuclear power industry. [..]

In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, several European nations pledged to phase out  nuclear power, but the U.S. is still pursuing an expansion, including the construction of a new generation of plants-to be owned and managed by private companies, of course.

The American people should pay closer attention to the events at Fukushima and question our government’s ability to manage a similar crisis. Could you envision an American president storming into the offices of a major U.S. corporation and demanding that they clean up the mess?

Michelle Chen: Student Labor Scandal Illuminates the Gray Market for Guestworkers

The students came for a summer learning experience with a job at a classic American company. Instead, they got a crash course in the realities of the global economy.

Following months of campaigning, young foreign students who have waged a bitter labor battle against a U.S. candy giant, the Department of Labor has cited two subcontractors that helped import the students into the Hershey plant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, where they were reportedly subjected to coercive, exploitative conditions. Though Hershey itself wasn’t targeted, subcontractors involved in the work program, Exel Incorporated and SHS Group, were charged with several occupational safety violations, including failure to provide adequate safety-training and a repeated failure to record injuries and illnesses.

Though the citations include various fines, they didn’t really address the core of the shadowy labor supply chain that entangled several hundred students from China, Nigeria, and other countries. According to workers’ testimonies, they came for an “educational” work experience under the J-1 visa program and ended up stuck on an assembly line packing candies for obscenely low wages. The recruits eventually revolted and launched a high-profile campaign with the National Guestworker Alliance and other advocacy groups.

Amanda Marcotte: Why Do Right-Wing Extremists Have the Power to Force Doctors to Humiliate Women?

Of all the words one could have guessed that would completely shift the public discourse, “transvaginal” probably wouldn’t have rated very high before the month of February. Yet that simple word managed to finally draw national attention and outrage to an issue pro-choicers have been trying to highlight for years now — the anti-choice enthusiasm for passing laws requiring women seeking abortion to endure harassment ultrasounds before being allowed to abort unwanted pregnancies.

Anti-choicers claim the laws are necessary for “informed consent,” an argument that bafflingly presumes that women seeking abortions aren’t aware that they’re pregnant. Pro-choicers correctly point out that the laws are both about putting obstacles between women and abortion, and most importantly, forcing unwilling doctors to convey the legislators’ intent to shame and harass women for getting abortions. But this debate about consent and the difference between medically necessary procedures and nuisance ones was hard to get across to the general public. That is, until the word transvaginal came into the picture, after legislators in Virginia tried to join states like Texas in requiring a mandatory ultrasound for abortion.