“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”.
Paul Krugman: Ignorance Is Strength
One way in which Americans have always been exceptional has been in our support for education. First we took the lead in universal primary education; then the “high school movement” made us the first nation to embrace widespread secondary education. And after World War II, public support, including the G.I. Bill and a huge expansion of public universities, helped large numbers of Americans to get college degrees.
But now one of our two major political parties has taken a hard right turn against education, or at least against education that working Americans can afford. Remarkably, this new hostility to education is shared by the social conservative and economic conservative wings of the Republican coalition, now embodied in the persons of Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.
And this comes at a time when American education is already in deep trouble.
Joe Conason: Can Obama Muzzle the Dogs of War?
When President Obama disparaged “loose talk about war” against the theocratic regime in Tehran, he wasn’t minimizing the consequences of atomic weapons in the hands of the mullahs. The danger of terrorists acquiring a bomb would be multiplied by a regional arms race. The international nonproliferation regime would be crippled if not destroyed. The prestige of the United States would suffer fresh damage, and yes, Israel would be gravely threatened.
Yet it is hard to understand why anyone-in Washington, Jerusalem or anywhere else-would argue with his view that sanctions, covert action and diplomatic engagement should be exhausted before anybody resorts to bombs and missiles. Unlike his irresponsible critics on the right, Obama cannot ignore the potential costs of another Mideast war, which could wreck fragile economies both here and abroad, increase the peril to U.S. troops in Afghanistan as well as throughout the region, and perhaps escalate into a global conflict of unpredictable scope.
Super Tuesday demonstrated the rancor rife in Republican ranks, as the four remaining major candidates slug it out to see how far to the right of President Barack Obama they can go. While attacking him daily for the high cost of gasoline, both sides are traveling down the same perilous road in their support of nuclear power. This is mind-boggling, on the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission warning that lessons from Fukushima have not been implemented in this country. Nevertheless, Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing: They’re going to force nuclear power on the public, despite the astronomically high risks, both financial and environmental.
One year ago, on March 11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan, causing more than 15,000 deaths, with 3,000 more missing and thousands of injuries. Japan is still reeling from the devastation-environmentally, economically, socially and politically. Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time, said last July, “We will aim to bring about a society that can exist without nuclear power.” He resigned in August after shutting down production at several power plants. He said that another catastrophe could force the mass evacuation of Tokyo, and even threaten “Japan’s very existence.” Only two of the 54 Japanese power plants that were online at the time of the Fukushima disaster are currently producing power. Kan’s successor, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, supports nuclear power, but faces growing public opposition to it.
New York Times Editorial: Sexual Violence and the Military
The rate of sexual assaults on American women serving in the military remains intolerably high. While an estimated 17 percent of women in the general population become victims at some point in their lives, a 2006 study of female veterans financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that between 23 percent and 33 percent of uniformed women had been assaulted. Those estimates are borne out in other surveys, and a recent Pentagon report on sexual assaults at the service academies found that in the 2010-11 academic year, cadets and midshipmen were involved in 65 reported assaults.
Too often victims are afraid to come forward. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta estimated that the number of attacks in 2011 by service members on other service members – both women and men – was close to 19,000, more than six times the number of reported attacks.
To get into the UN Commission on the Status of Women, you have to get past several ranks of large armed men. In the foyer, you can buy UN women-themed hats and tote bags, and pick up glossy pamphlets about this year’s International Women’s Day, but what you can’t pick up is the slightest sense of urgency. In the 101 years since the first International Women’s Day, all the passionate politics seems to have been leached out of the women’s movement. [..]Women, like everyone else, have been duped. We have been persuaded over the past 50 years to settle for a bland, neoliberal vision of what liberation should mean. Life may have become a little easier in that time for white women who can afford to hire a nanny, but the rest of us have settled for a cheap, knock-off version of gender revolution. Instead of equality at work and in the home, we settled for “choice”, “flexibility” and an exciting array of badly paid part-time work to fit around childcare and chores. Instead of sexual liberation and reproductive freedom, we settled for mitigated rights to abortion and contraception that are constantly under attack, and a deeply misogynist culture that shames us if we’re not sexually attractive, dismisses us if we are, and blames us if we are raped or assaulted, as one in five of us will be in our lifetime.
John Nichols: The Great Vermont Uprising Against Corporate Personhood
Vermonters went to their town meetings this week to settle questions about dump fees, snowplowing contracts and utility meters.
They also decided to take on the corrupt campaign system that is steering the republic toward catastrophe.
And they have done so in a voice loud enough to be heard all the way to Washington.
By Thursday morning, sixty-four towns reported they had moved to amend the US Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling-as well as the false construct that says, in the words of Mitt Romney, “corporations are people, my friend.”
“Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Town Meeting Day voters understood that corporations are not people,” declared US Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, a champion of his state’s uprising against corporate personhood. “The resounding results will send a strong message that corporations and billionaires should not be allowed to buy candidates and elections with unlimited, undisclosed spending on political campaigns.”