“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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Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.
Kate Manning: Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly
Women’s historical willingness to endure horrible dangers, to submit to extreme and prolonged pain, to risk grave injury and death rather than remain pregnant, tells us something important about female desperation and determination, and the price women were – and still are – willing to pay to control their own bodies. What it tells us is that women will always find ways to end an unwanted pregnancy, no matter what the law says, no matter the risks to themselves.
If the Supreme Court were ever to overturn Roe v. Wade, or if anti-abortion forces continue to successfully chisel away at a woman’s access to safe abortion, many women will still choose abortion – by their own hands. Leeches, lye and Spanish fly are still among the many tools available to the self-abortionist. So are knitting needles, with predictable, disastrous consequences. There is no law that will end the practice of abortion, only laws that can protect a woman’s right to choose it, or not, and to keep it the safe and private procedure still available to us in 2013, 40 years after the Supreme Court made it legal.
New York Times Editorial: A Chance to Fix the Senate
For six years, Democrats in the Senate have chafed at an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, who have used the practice to hold up nominees high and low and require a supermajority for virtually every bill. But now that they finally have an opportunity to end much of this delay and abuse, Democrats are instead considering only a few half-measures. [..]
With the support of 51 senators, the rules could be changed to require a “talking filibuster,” forcing those objecting to a bill to stand and explain their reasons, at length. The current practice of routinely requiring a 60-vote majority for a bill through a silent objection would end, breaking the logjam that has made the chamber a well of inefficiency and frustration.
President Obama has heartened progressives with many actions since his re-election. He seems to grasp that he has a lot more power to move public opinion than he used in his first term. He also understands that most of the Republican positions on the issues are unpopular with broad public, divisive within the Republican Party, and just plain bad policy.
So will he maximize his advantage? Or will the State of the Union be the occasion for more olive branches, more searching for common ground that doesn’t really exist.
American history shows that a leader does better being “president of all the people” by isolating a destructive opposition rather than splitting the difference with it. In his second inaugural, Lincoln famously and magnanimously declared, “With malice toward none and charity for all, let us bind up the nation’s wounds.” But first it was necessarily to defeat the South on the battlefield. The film, Lincoln, accurately underscored the reality that no compromise with the Confederacy was possible.
Paul Buchheit: The Extremist Cult of Capitalism
A ‘cult,’ according to Merriam-Webster, can be defined as “Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work..(and)..a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.”
Capitalism has been defined by adherents and detractors: Milton Friedman said, “The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.” John Maynard Keynes said, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” [..]
Capitalism is a cult. It is devoted to the ideals of privatization over the common good, profit over social needs, and control by a small group of people who defy the public’s will. The tenets of the cult lead to extremes rather than to compromise. Examples are not hard to find.
Glenn Greenwald: MLK’s Vehement Condemnations of US Militarism are More Relevant Than Ever
His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression
The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.
King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work (“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.
Rick Perlstein : Our Obama Bargain (Part 2 of 3)
Happy Re-inauguration Day. In a post last week, I wrote of the strangeness of our Obama, in his passion for bargaining with people who despise him, and his passion for envisioning deals that, even if struck, deliver nothing particularly good either in policy or political terms. The “bargain” becomes the end in itself, the holy grail. It certainly doesn’t establish trust with his bargaining partners. For instance, his unilateral pay freeze for federal workers announced after the 2010 “Tea Party” elections. That, of course, was meant to build his bona fides among Republicans as a fiscal conservative. How did that work out for you, BHO? [..]
Why is Barack Obama like this? Where does this anything-but-reality-based faith that lions can lay down with lambs come from? The curious thing is that you might have expected experiences of his formative years to have taught him the opposite lesson.
Robert Dreyfus: Obama’s Inaugural: A New Foreign Policy?
Let’s allow ourselves to hope, or imagine, for a moment that Barack Obama’s second inaugural address opens the door to a new American foreign policy.
Certainly, his speech was not a foreign policy address, skimming lightly over the top of where he intends to lead the country. But in two crucial paragraphs, there was no saber rattling, and his praises of our troops and their courage, and of America’s battle against “fascism and communism,” seemed, to me at least, perfunctory. Instead, he spoke of peace, and he stressed that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” That, at the very least, is a slap in the face to George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, whose “Global War on Terror” was precisely “perpetual.”
And in a line that could be read as a signal to current adversaries, including Iran, Obama suggested that in the past, former enemies became “the surest of friends.”