“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”.
Michael Moore: The Purpose of Occupy Wall Street Is to Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street. What other political movement in modern times has won the sympathy and/or support of the majority of the American public-in less than two months? How did this happen? I think it was a revolt that has been percolating across the country since Reagan fired the first air traffic controller. Then, on September 17, 2011, a group of (mostly) young adults decided to take direct action. And this action struck a raw nerve, sending a shock wave throughout the United States, because what these kids were doing was what tens of millions of people wished they could do. The people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their “American dream”-they cathartically cheered on this ragtag bunch who got right in the face of Wall Street and said, “We’re not leaving until you give us our country back!”
By purposely not creating a formal, hierarchical organization with rules and dues and structure and charismatic leaders and spokespeople-all the things their parents told them they would need in order to get anything done-this new way allowed people from all over the country to feel like they were part of the rebellion by simply deciding that they were part of the rebellion. You want to occupy your local bank-do it! You want to occupy your college board of trustees-done! You want to occupy Oakland or Cincinnati or Grass Valley-be our guest! This is your movement, and you can make it what you want it to be.
Frances Fox Priven: Occupy! and Make Them Do It
The spring months are likely to see the expansion of the Occupy movement. Evicted from the little parks where they were encamped, the activists are joining housing occupations and other protests against predatory banks, student protests against rising tuition and debt, and labor strikes and protests against lockouts. This is big news in American politics because we have not seen a protest movement with this much imagination, energy and traction for a long time
But as the 2012 elections draw nearer, the protests will be shadowed by the unfolding campaigns. After all, most Americans think of elections as the very heart of American politics. Accordingly, there will be lots of exasperated advice to the protesters: at least for now, they should work for the election by joining the ranks of volunteers registering voters, ringing doorbells and staffing the campaign offices. And, of course, they should refrain from attacks on Obama. After all, think of how bad things would be with Romney as president and Tea Party Republicans controlling both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court could become even worse, to say nothing of the danger of another war.
: Silencing Occupy: Big Protests Are Planned. Will Suppression Follow?
Get ready for the protests. Get ready for the warm American spring – and maybe a hot summer and fall. Vast economic inequality has not disappeared and, in a presidential election year, the supremacy of money in politics will be extravagantly displayed.
But if you protest, also get ready for “free-speech zones,” “pop-up” restricted areas, National Special Security Events, and – with the signing on March 8 by President Barack Obama of HR 347 – a suddenly sharper federal anti-protest law. Despite American constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to petition for redress of grievances, suppression of protest is just as American.
HR 347’s title, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, suggests court-house landscaping, but its true impact cuts much deeper. Without debate, it flew through the Senate with unanimous consent. In the House, only three members voted against it, all Republican, most notably presidential candidate Ron Paul. The brief debate featured jokes about the Super Bowl.
Emily Douglas: Women’s Rights, Another Round of Defensive Victories
In recent months, a bubbling stew of Republican extremism, tone-deafness and rank misogyny aimed at a series of poorly chosen targets (Planned Parenthood, Sandra Fluke, breast cancer activists who also use birth control) have turned pro-choice women into a potent and wide-awake political force. A DCCC appeal decrying the “war on women” raised over $1 million. In last week’s cover story, Elizabeth Mitchell reported that Planned Parenthood drew 1.3 million new supporters in 2011 and raised $3 million in the wake of the Komen controversy alone. Viewed one way, what should be happening is happening: women are waking up (E.J. Graff), making their displeasure known, and wielding political capital accordingly (Irin Carmon). The attacks on birth control are turning off independent and moderate women, who are now taking a second look at the once-beleaguered president. And Obama will be ready for them: he is staking his re-election in large part on women voters.
Moments like this are clarifying, and can act as a teaching tool. Americans, who strongly support access to birth control and the birth control coverage mandate in specific, are catching on to Republican hostility to a key tenet of contemporary American culture. The attacks on birth control are demonstrable proof that the religious right, including the Republican presidential candidates, intends, at root, to re-impose archaic sexual mores and roll back the clock on women’s equality. It is about women, not about unborn babies. Irin credits the amped-up outrage to the “growing realization that these aren’t isolated incidents, but rather systematic attacks based on a worldview that is actively hostile to female self-determination.”
Marian Wright Edelman: Giving Jailed Juveniles A Second Chance at Life
Edwin Desamour was driving with his 3-year-old son in their Philadelphia neighborhood recently when the little boy looked up and said, “Daddy, look at the moon! I want to go there!” So this father did what many parents would: He bought his son books on science and space voyages and encouraged him to believe that his dreams can come true.
Edwin’s son has been blessed with a vastly different childhood than Edwin had. Edwin grew up poor in a violent neighborhood in Philadelphia, surrounded by drugs, guns and crime. At age 16 he was convicted of a homicide. The time he spent with his father as a teenager came when they were assigned to the same cellblock in prison.
Edwin was caught up in dangerous surroundings he didn’t choose, and his violent actions as an adolescent resulted in terrible loss. But he matured in prison and became determined to earn parole so he could return to his old neighborhood and make a difference in the lives of other young men. In 2007 Edwin founded Men in Motion in the Community, an organization that provides positive role models for at-risk youths. It teaches them that there are consequences to their actions, and it helps youths avoid violence.
Barbara Ehrenreich: Rediscovering American Poverty
How We Cured “The Culture of Poverty,” Not Poverty Itself
It’s been exactly 50 years since Americans, or at least the non-poor among them, “discovered” poverty, thanks to Michael Harrington’s engaging book The Other America. If this discovery now seems a little overstated, like Columbus’s “discovery” of America, it was because the poor, according to Harrington, were so “hidden” and “invisible” that it took a crusading left-wing journalist to ferret them out.
Harrington’s book jolted a nation that then prided itself on its classlessness and even fretted about the spirit-sapping effects of “too much affluence.” He estimated that one quarter of the population lived in poverty — inner-city blacks, Appalachian whites, farm workers, and elderly Americans among them. We could no longer boast, as President Nixon had done in his “kitchen debate” with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow just three years earlier, about the splendors of American capitalism.