“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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Zoë Carpenter: The Battle Over Abortion Access Is Nearing the Supreme Court
Clinics in Texas that were recently forced to stop providing abortions because of sweeping new regulations have filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the rules put an “undue burden” on women’s rights. [..]
In her decision allowing enforcement of the Texas law to go forward, George W. Bush appointee Jennifer Elrod made a point of mentioning that lower courts had issued conflicting decision on the numerous clinic regulations, something that the Supreme Court considers when deciding whether a case warrants their attention. Highlighting disagreement among circuit courts, writes Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgess, amounts to “a blood-red howler to the Supreme Court telling them to “TAKE THIS CASE!”
If it does, the rights of American women will be in the hands of one man.
Katrina vanden Heeuvel: Eric Schneiderman Is Still Seeking Justice for the Financial Crisis
After six years in office, departing Attorney General Eric Holder will leave behind a strong legacy of defending civil rights. As the first black American to lead the Justice Department, Holder fought to stop voter suppression, to change unfair sentencing policies, and-by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act-to end discrimination against LGBT couples. Holder’s resignation announcement last month, understandably, has prompted a wave of speculation about who will replace him. That’s an important conversation, but we should be paying equal attention to the states, where attorneys general are elected and have significant influence over the application of the law.
For instance, while progressives were rightly disappointed by Holder’s failure to punish Wall Street for financial crimes leading up to the economic crisis, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been almost single-handedly fighting an uphill battle to hold the banks accountable. Now running for reelection, Schneiderman has devoted much of the past four years to delivering some measure of justice to millions of Americans, in New York and across the country, who suffered as a result of Wall Street’s destructive behavior.
The fall of Kobani is a microcosm for a policy that is doomed to fail. It was an avoidable tragedy
Observing fighters for the Islamic State (Isis) march closer and closer toward the key Syrian town of Kobani over the past week has felt like watching a bitterly suspenseful action movie unfold. Unlike other central Syrian towns that have been pounded to the ground mostly out of sight, Kobani’s looming collapse sits in full view of anyone paying attention – journalists, refugees and Turkish military tanks planted over the border, just a couple of miles away. That very border, carelessly drawn a century ago, now determines life or death for the thousands of people on either side. Every day, Isis marches closer to the heart of Kobani, and every day, Kurds across the region grow more exasperated that everyone seems to know what scene comes next – “a terrible slaughter”, with “5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours”.
With Kobani in hand, Isis will control a strategic stretch of territory linking its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa to its positions in Aleppo along the border with Turkey, a Nato country. And yet no one seems to be lifting a finger to stop it.
For Republicans, public paranoia about Ebola, ISIS and the scary immigrant “other” is a plan to sweep the midterms
Republicans need one last stroke of luck to take back the Senate and sweep the midterms: They have to find an ISIS fighter who crossed the Mexico border as a juvenile asylum-seeker last summer, who’s since come down with Ebola.
No doubt the folks at Fox, along with James O’Keefe, are hard at work searching for their secret weapon. [..]
This is all the right can come up with as a closing argument in the 2014 midterms. They have no policy agenda and demography is against them, but fear will always be with them. Ironically, to the extent that we have anything to worry about in the government’s handling of Ebola, it might have to do with GOP-imposed cuts to the CDC, the NIH and medical research generally. We don’t have a Surgeon General because of GOP obstruction. Republican governors have weakened the public health infrastructure with budget cuts and their petulant rejection of federal Medicaid expansion. And the fear of foreigners, particularly Africans, stoked by Ebola panic is counterproductive, too, because the only way to contain the disease is for the U.S. to support caregivers in the places ravaged by it so they can respond more effectively.
But bashing educators is integral to the political playbook of America’s most vulnerable governor and his Republican party
Philadelphia School Reform Commission chairman Bill Green declared on Monday that my teachers union needs to “share in the sacrifice”.
And then the unelected, unaccountable entity charged with school oversight for the fifth largest city in the United States – in a last-minute meeting that took only 17 minutes and entertained no public comment – voted unanimously to cancel its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and demand new healthcare contributions from its employees.
Of course, Green’s words sounded awfully familiar: Republican governor Tom Corbett said the same in August, when he declared – not for the first time – that it was up to the teachers of Philadelphia’s public schools to fix the funding crisis that Corbett created through tax breaks for corporations, his refusal to tax Marcellus Shale drillers, the abandonment of an equitable state school funding formula and $1bn in budget cuts to education funding in Pennsylvania (in which poorer districts like Philadelphia were disproportionately hit). [..]
Starving the public education system and demanding that teachers personally make up the shortfall is not about the kids or the classrooms, or some considered ideological position, or even about budgetary savings. Cancelling contracts for people who educate your kids is about politics, plain and very cynical.
Ribbons and shoes aren’t just a distraction from the league’s sexism, misogyny and violence against women. Its Breast Cancer Awareness stunt is based on deadly misinformation
Like many other large brand names, the National Football League has long tried to use its alleged commitment to breast cancer to distract the public from its misdeeds around this time of year – particularly concerning women. Don’t look at the unchecked domestic and sexual violence, the extraordinarily high rates of brain disease that ruin careers and families, or the poor pay and working conditions for cheerleaders. Look over here at this enormous pink ribbon on the field! Look at the players wearing pink helmets and gloves and shoes! You can even buy your own! See how much we care about women?! [..]
If the NFL truly cares about the health of its female fans, it will stop spreading bunk science to women at cancer risk. If the league cares at all about the health of its own employees, league officials will confront concussions and ensure that their cheerleaders are fairly paid. And if Roger Goodell and Co really care about the health of all women, it will focus on violence against women at the hands of some of those employees and stop using pink ribbons as a distraction. Because the NFL may be good at selling little pink footballs and forcing players to wear pink cleats, but it’s terrible at public health.