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Mar 13 2013

Punting the Pundits

“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”.

Wednesday is Ladies Day.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Our ‘Government of Laws’ Is Now Above the Law

“The government of the United States,” wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in his famous decision in Marbury v. Madison, “has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.” This principle-grounded in the Constitution, enforced by an independent judiciary-is central to the American creed. Citizens have rights, and fundamental to these is due process of the law.

This ideal, of course, has often been trampled in practice, particularly in times of war or national panic. But the standard remains, central to the legitimacy of the republic.

Yet last week Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking for the administration with an alarmingly casual nonchalance, traduced the whole notion of a nation of laws. [..]

If the national security state has the power of life or death above the law, and Wall Street has the power to plunder beyond the law, in what way does this remain a nation of laws?

Ruth Coniff: Paul Ryan Keeps Up the Bad Work

The deficit hawks just won’t quit. Never mind that the deficit is actually shrinking steadily as a share of GDP.

“Debt Threat!” screamed a typical banner on CNBC this morning, where a full-employment program for the pundits of economic doom is under way, with constant warnings about the debt and deficits.

No wonder cable viewers don’t know that the deficit is actually decreasing. [..]

Even as Paul Ryan gets his moment in the spotlight this week for a plan that will go nowhere, what we should really be worried about is what the President is doing to strike a deal with the deficit hawks to solve a nonexistent problem and exacerbate suffering for millions of Americans who can afford it the least.

Ellen Frank: True Aim of Deficit Scare-Mongering: To Gut Social Security and Medicare

Conservatives’ real aim in their fiscal brinkmanship is to gut Social Security and Medicare.

US politics seems stuck in an endless debate about the size of the federal deficit and federal debt. From congressional Republicans’ refusals to lift the debt ceiling, fears of the “fiscal cliff,” disputes about the “sequestration” and its automatic federal spending cuts, and upcoming debates on a new federal budget and the need for so-called entitlement reform (primarily cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid)-all hinge on the presumed need to get the U.S. budget in balance and curb deficit spending. [..]

But conservatives’ real targets are the two largest non-defense programs-Social Security, which includes not only retirement pensions, but also disability and survivors’ benefits, and Medicare, the health program for the elderly. Yet Social Security and Medicare are financed by payroll taxes and should not even be counted as part of general federal spending.

Jessica Valente: Rape Is Not Inevitable: On Zerlina Maxwell, Men and Hope

Of all the feminist ideas that draw ire, one would think that “don’t rape” is a fairly noncontroversial statement. It seems not.

Last week, Zerlina Maxwell, political commentator and writer, went on Fox News’ Hannity to talk about the myth that gun ownership can prevent rape. Maxwell made the apt point that the onus should not be on women to have to arm themselves but on men not to rape them:

   I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there…You’re talking about this as if it’s some faceless, nameless criminal, when a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust…If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.

And with that, the floodgates of misogyny opened. Right-wing media outlets like TheBlaze oversimplified Maxwell’s comments, writing that her call to teach men not to rape was “bizarre.” Online, Maxwell started receiving racist and misogynist threats – including, ironically enough, threats of rape.

Michelle Chen: Corporate-Approved State Bills Kick Low-Wage Workers While They’re Down

President Obama called for a modest raise in the federal minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union Address, and several Democratic legislators have upped his bid with a proposed increase to $10.10.

But an insidious effort to lower the wage floor is already underway much closer to the ground-in the state legislatures where right-wing lobbyists have been greasing the skids for years for an onslaught of anti-worker policies.

An extensive analysis recently published by labor advocacy organization the National Employment Law Project tracks more than 100 bills introduced in 31 states since January 2011 that “aim to repeal or weaken core wage standards at the state or local level.” Each bears the fingerprint of notorious super-lobbying organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which acts as a forum for “private sector leaders” to advise public officials. Most of the anti-worker bills were proposed by lawmakers directly linked to ALEC and include language that echoes that of “model legislation” developed by ALEC. Among the proposals are measures to undercut minimum wages for teenage workers, restrict overtime pay and repeal or ban local laws to improve working conditions.

Vandana Shiva: Tilling the Soil with Pesticides

The ministry of agriculture had organised a conference on Doubling Food Production from February 1-3. The “eminent speakers” invited were not members of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) or top Indian scientists. Rather they were spin masters of biotechnology industry who claimed to have founded the anti-GMO movement and openly promoted it. The old paradigm of food and agriculture is clearly broken

On April 15, 2008, the IAASTD report findings, carried out by 400 scientists over six years, were released. The report has noted that business as usual is no longer an option. Neither the Green Revolution nor the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can guarantee food security. We need a new paradigm of working with the laws of nature and ecological sustainability. Why is our agriculture minister Sharad Pawar defending a dead paradigm and promoting PR men of biotech giants? When the fact is that the emerging scientific paradigm of ecological agriculture has shown that we can double food production while protecting the planet, human health and farmers’ livelihoods.