“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.
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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Women for Paid Sick Days
Some policy questions are difficult. Here are a few easy ones: Should people who handle food for a living have to work while contagious? Should sick kids be stuck at school because their parents are stuck at work? Should coming down with something cost you your job?
Most Americans say: No, no and no. Politicians are catching up with them, but not fast enough.
As I noted last winter, 2011 was the biggest year yet for paid sick leave, a common sense reform requiring employers to provide a minimum number of sick days, so low-wage workers can stay home sick without losing their pay or their jobs. After years of savvy, tenacious organizing, last year Seattle joined San Francisco and DC to become the nation’s third paid sick leave city, and Connecticut’s became the nation’s first statewide law (Milwaukee passed a bill in 2009 but Scott Walker has overridden it).
Paid sick leave is the kind of pro-family policy that we should be able to take for granted in a civilized democracy. By averting senseless firings, it reduces unemployment. By letting sick people stay home, it advances public health. In San Francisco, which in 2006 became the first city to mandate paid leave, even critics have changed their tune. In 2010, the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which had decried the bill as a job killer, told Bloomberg Businessweek that it had turned out to be “the best public policy for the least cost. Do you want your server coughing over your food?”
Dahlia Lithwick and Raymond Vasvari: The GOP’s War Against Facts
The truth became dangerous for the Republican Party when it ran out of arguments.
Someday political scientists will try to date the decline of reasoned discourse in America to the moment when the left and the right began to invent their own facts. Climate change deniers, the purveyors of lies linking abortion to breast cancer, and creationists will all be blamed for the end of meaningful debate between liberals and conservatives. But that’s not quite right. The real end of civic discourse can be traced to the new conservative argument that facts themselves are dangerous.
It’s a dangerous contention not just for what it hides, but also for what it reveals: a lack of any other arguments.
It’s tough times for facts in America. First Mitt Romney-interviewing for the position of president-declined to release his tax returns because, as he explained, the Obama team’s opposition research will “pick over it” and “distort and lie about them.” He isn’t actually claiming that his opponents will lie. He’s claiming he’s entitled to hide the truth because it could be used against him. As Jon Stewart put it, “You can’t release your returns, because if you do, the Democrats will be mean to you.” These are tax returns. Factual documents. No different than, say, a birth certificate. But the GOP’s argument that inconvenient facts can be withheld from public scrutiny simply because they can be used for mean purposes is a radical idea in a democracy. It has something of a legal pedigree as well.
I’m getting screeched at by a bunch of wingnuts on Twitter, god only knows who sent them, who have it in their heads that I was just making shit up when I attributed modern day gun nuttery to the reactionary movement-that they all belong to, natch-that grew up in response to desegregation. I’m being told that this is bad history, mostly with strawman attacks claiming I said there were no guns prior to the 60s. Of course, I didn’t say that. I simply pointed out that gun hysteria and the belief that gun control is a direct attack on the right of white Americans to protect themselves from nebulous “crime” emerged in response to the civil rights movement.
Really, the connection between gun nuttery and racism doesn’t really need an elaborate proof from me, since I grew up around gun nuts and can tell you that in my long experience, the number of guns in your closet directly correlated with your fondness for the N-word. Like one handgun dudes? Not dropping the N-bomb much, if at all. Fifty guns in the closet guys? Dropping it all the time.
But hey, I love an educational opportunity, so here’s some fun historical information: [..]
Jessica Valenti: How to Out a Rapist
In one of my favorite feminist movies-the 1996 flick Girls Town-a group of fed-up young women write the names of the men who raped them on their high school’s bathroom wall. Other students join in, listing their attackers from schoolmates to teachers-warning other women and reclaiming public space.
Today, a Kentucky teen is facing jail time for doing much the same thing: naming her rapists on Twitter. Seventeen-year-old Savannah Dietrich was sexually assaulted by two acquaintances while unconscious-her attackers took pictures and sent them to friends. After the young men pleaded guilty to the attack and agreed to a plea of felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism, the judge ordered that no one speak about the court proceedings or the attack itself.
“I was crying as she was reading that,” Dietrich told a local paper. “They got off very easy…and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end.”
Dietrich ignored the order and tweeted their names. “There you go, lock me up,” she wrote. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.” Deitrich now says she ready to go to jail to stand up for the right to speak out. As Amanda Hess at Slate writes, “The criminal justice process can also rob the victim of control over her own narrative.”
Nancy Goldstein: Congress Is Still in the Dark About the Extent of Electronic Snooping
Here’s the only marginally good news about Congressman Edward Markey’s bombshell revelationsThe truly bad news, however, is that Congress still has no idea of the scope of law enforcement surveillance. Congress is the body designated to provide oversight of the ways that government peers into our most private affairs. Yet the information that the proactive Markey was able to extract from the telecom providers represents just a fraction of the possible surveillance requests made by law enforcement, a blurry and partial accounting of a field that remains sprawling, unmapped and without rigorous oversight. last week about government prying into personal cellphone use: the American public and the US Congress now have our very first inkling of the scope of cellphone surveillance requests by law enforcement to telecommunication providers-1.3 million requests for personal data in 2011, according to the telecoms.
Bryce Covert: Low-Income Older Women Will Be Worst Hit if States Don’t Expand Medicaid
A report from The LDI Health Economist site out of the University of Pennsylvania says that under the ACA’s original form when it was passed, “uninsured low-income 55- to 64-year old women were among those who would benefit most from the expansion of Medicaid to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level.” As it reports, there are 27 million women who fall into this category, i.e., women who are “near-elderly” and making little income, and about 14 percent of them are uninsured. A third would have been covered by the Medicaid expansion in all fifty states, or more than 1.2 million. (Another 1.8 million are eligible for the insurance exchange subsidies.) If the Medicaid expansion were to go full steam ahead across the country, the overall rate of uninsured women in this group would be reduced to two percent from the current 11.7 rate.
But that number is in danger if Republican governors like Rick Scott and Rick Perry wriggle out of the expansion. Texas, Florida and Virginia combined have more than 468,000 uninsured women in this category, nearly 160,000 of whom would be eligible for Medicaid. And as the report notes, “A ‘disproportional number’ of these women are reported to be African American and Latino.”