“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: The GOP’s Split-Screen Convention
This week, the anti-disaster assistance party scrambled to shuffle its anti-government convention speakers in the face of Hurricane Isaac. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported, “As the American Petroleum Institute planned a concert and a party here to push its agenda, which includes expansion of oil exploration on federal lands, some of its members were ramping down production in the gulf and removing workers from platforms.”
Welcome to Republicans’ “split screen” convention week. On one side of your TV screen, competitive condemnations of the government boot on the American economy’s neck. On the other: a dangerous storm that dramatically symbolizes the need for strong infrastructure, sane environmental policy and solid emergency response. Unlike the Republicans, the storm won’t talk. But the contrast speaks volumes.
Amanda Marcotte: She’s Just an Easy-Bake Oven: How the GOP and the Anti-Choice Movement See Women
The good news about the Rep. Todd Akin situation is that it genuinely seems to have raised the public’s awareness of how much the anti-choice movement is rooted not in some love of fetal life, but in a profound misogyny that focuses heavily on fear of female sexuality. Akin’s ready assumption that women frequently lie about rape to cover up their sexual adventures was a perfect example of the demonized view of female sexual liberty driving the anti-choice movement, one that has very little relation to how women actually act in the world. But the exposure of the ugly, misogynist heart of the anti-choice movement might come at a price: Other dehumanizing, ugly attitudes towards women expressed by anti-choicers might seem more moderate by comparison.
For instance, Rep. Paul Ryan, now a nominee for Vice President, has a long history of using incredibly dehumanizing language towards women and speaking of women as if they non-sentient beings, while seemingly imbuing even fertilized eggs with the sentience he won’t grant women. Even though he’s no doubt been strongly coached to try to at least mimic compassion for women, the notion that women have internal lives and experiences that matter just doesn’t seem to factor into his discussion of reproductive rights. Instead, he just falls back on talking about women as if they’re nothing but flesh-bound ovens to cook male heirs. Which, naturally, led to the same kind of minimization of rape that Akin is accused of engaging in.
The sixteenth anniversary of TANF hit this week, and the Republican presidential candidate spent his time lying about the president’s position on it. President Obama, Mitt Romney insists, stripped the work requirements out of the temporary assistance program that replaced welfare for poor families under Bill Clinton in 1996.
Although every fact-check has shown he’s wrong, Romney and the Romney-phile propaganda groups keep pounding away at their message with ads like this one:
Unidentified male: “Under Obama’s plan you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
The president’s responded in typically Obaman fashion. Without wading into the welfare fray, he’s wagged his finger at Romney’s facts: “You just can’t make stuff up….” On the campaign trail this week, the Democrat beat the drum for “more popular” government programs, like those for seniors and students. He’s closing all his rallies with Bruce Springsteen’s rousing paean to solidarity, “We Take Care of Our Own.”
Leslie Savan: Even GOP Guvs Admit that Romney’s Welfare Ads Are False
Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) as much as admitted that Mitt Romney’s race-baiting claim that President Obama is “gutting” work requirements in the welfare program is a load of manure.
He didn’t use those words, of course, but when Tom Brokaw asked Snyder about the program at the Republican convention this afternoon, the governor had only positive things to say about it.
This is the same program that Romney insists Obama is using to “shore up his base.” (Read: black people.) As one of Romney’s five welfare ads says, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check. And welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
To back up, the Obama administration recently announced that states could apply for waivers from the 1996 welfare reform law in order to find alternative ways to help welfare recipients find work. Nothing is gutted, the work requirement stands, and in fact, in2005, 29 governors-including Governor Romney-asked for even more flexibility in how they applied the welfare law.
Liliana Segura: In Sentencing Criminals, Is Norway Too Soft? Or Are We Too Harsh?
It’s not very often the concept of restorative justice gets much play outside scholarly publications or reformist criminal justice circles, so first, some credit for Max Fisher at The Atlantic for giving it an earnest look last week. In seeking to explain Norway’s seemingly measly twenty-one-year sentence for remorseless, mass-murdering white supremacist Anders Breivik-a sentence that is certain to be extended to last the rest of his life-Fisher casts a critical eye on the underlying philosophy that animates that country’s sentencing practices, finding it to be “radically different” from what we’re used to in the United States. When it comes to criminal sentencing, he notes, the United States favors a retributive model-in which an offender must be duly punished for his crimes-over a restorative model that “emphasizes healing: for the victims, for the society, and, yes, for the criminal him or herself.”
“I don’t have an answer for which is better,” he says at the outset, acknowledging that his own sense of outrage over Breivik’s sentence-like that of many Americans-“hints at not just how different the two systems are, but how deeply we may have come to internalize our understanding of justice, which, whatever its merits, doesn’t seem to be as universally applied as we might think.”
Jessica Valenti: Fantasy Women of the GOP
As the “war on women” continues, my sole comfort has been watching dumbfounded Republicans try to explain away the misogyny that’s so foundational to their agenda.
In the midst of the fallout over Todd Akin’s comments claiming “legitimate” rape victims are unlikely to get pregnant, the science-whiz whined to Mike Huckabee in a radio interview that he “made a single error in one sentence.” He was frustrated that people “are upset over one word spoke in one day in one sentence.”
Bryan Fischer, a spokesperson from the American Family Association, complained about the Akin backlash, saying, “You talk about somebody being a victim of forcible assault, that would be Todd Akin.” Mitt Romney denounced Akin’s remarks as “insulting” and “inexcusable,” but accused the Obama campaign of trying to link Akin to the GOP as a whole, calling it “sad” and that the move stooped “to a low level.”
But what Romney, Akin, and their ilk don’t understand is that women’s anger isn’t about “one word” or one politician-it’s about an ethos, a Republican ideology steeped in misogyny and willful ignorance.