Off Times Square today highlights the Amazon.com sweatshop in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Links to related stories are on OTS.
Contra Ross Orderliness-before-Justice Douthat, his bosses at the New York Times write in an editorial: "It is time Americans acknowledged that the death penalty cannot be made to comply with the Constitution and is in every way indefensible." So why do they keep Douthat on? To defend the indefensible? ...
... E. J. Dionne: "... winning this battle [against capital punishment] will require converting Americans who are not liberals. The good news is that many are open to persuasion.... If a majority is open to persuasion, the best persuaders will be conservatives, particularly religious conservatives and abortion opponents, who have moral objections to the state-sanctioned taking of life or see the grave moral hazard involved in the risk of executing an innocent person." ...
... Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties. Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court."
** "Whatever Happened to the American Left?" Prof. Michael Kazin in a New York Times op-ed: "... the left must realize that when progressives achieved success in the past, whether at organizing unions or fighting for equal rights, they seldom bet their future on politicians. They fashioned their own institutions — unions, women’s groups, community and immigrant centers and a witty, anti-authoritarian press — in which they spoke up for themselves and for the interests of wage-earning Americans."
The least charitable view ties it directly to campaign donations. The most charitable view, it’s a bunch of Wall Street hacks in the position of economic advisers who truly believe that giving billions to banks will trickle down to the middle class.... There are a lot of progressives, and frankly everyday voters, who wish this White House would cut their ties with Wall Street, stop the sucking up to Wall Street. -- Adam Green, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, on the subprime mortgage settlement agreement being negotiated between banks and states attorneys general & the DOJ ...
... Sellout! Again! Edward-Issac Dovere of Politico: The subprime mortgage settlement, "a collaboration between the Justice Department and the 50 state attorneys general..., would mean a lump-sum payment from the banks in exchange for a release from liability. But with negotiators in Washington this week trying to finalize a deal, it’s become the latest flashpoint of left-wing disenchantment with Obama." CW: I'll say. Read the whole article
Paul Krugman: "European policy makers ... don’t seem at all ready to acknowledge a crucial fact — namely, that without more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in Europe’s stronger economies, all of their rescue attempts will fail."
Karen Garcia has an excellent post on the New York Times' so-called "coverage" of the Wall Street protests, "coverage" of which I briefly complained yesterday. To find out what's going on in downtown Manhattan, a few short blocks (and in NYC, they are short blocks) from Times Square, you have to go to Qatar (Al Jazeera) & London (the Guardian). The Times sent a fucking arts critic! Hey, it's like street theater. ...
... Jim Fallows of The Atlantic decries an NYPD officer's pepper-spraying women who were obeying police & doing to provoke them during the Wall Street demonstrations. (Includes video different from the one I posted yesterday, tho of the same incident.) ...
... Joseph Goldstein of the New York Times reports that a police spokesman said the officer acted "appropriately." A retired NYPD deputy chief who used to run the Disorder Control Unit pretty much said, "Yeah, well, better than clubbing 'em with a night stick."
They're Taking Away Our Freedoms (and this time, it's true.) Dorothy Samuels of the New York Times: States have passed "a huge number of new abortion restrictions, traceable in part to the 2010 mid-term elections, which increased the number of anti-abortion governors and state legislatures controlled by abortion opponents, who keep concocting new schemes to make terminating a pregnancy a right on paper only. The spate of new laws comes on top of many state and federal abortion curbs already in place."
As a Solicitor General, your job is to try to figure out how to persuade nine Supreme Court justices to take a particular position. And now my job is to figure out how to persuade eight. -- Elena Kagan, Solicitor General before becoming a Supreme Court Justice ...
... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The first justice in more than 40 years who had never been a judge, [Elena] Kagan established herself quickly as a forceful and insightful questioner on a court filled with strong personalities. While Kagan’s writings as an academic did not suggest a strong legal philosophy, her opinions and dissents from the bench have shown a conversational, confident writer, at times as sarcastic and cutting as a veteran."
Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "A handful of advocates, armed with nothing more than their keyboards, have put many of the country’s largest retailers, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Wal-Mart, on the spot over their indirect and, until recently, unnoticed roles in funneling money to Christian groups that are vocal in opposing homosexuality."
Matt Miller of the Washington Post argues for a third party. "... with America on the road to slow decline, the stakes are too high for 'inadequate' and 'retrograde' to be our only choices." If you think Miller's idea is a good one, maybe your eyes won't glaze over when you try to read (I couldn't begin to finish it) his idea for a rousing stump speech by some independent candidate. Loser.
If You Believe This, I've Got a Bridge...." Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: President Obama asserted last week that Republicans in Congress are holding up reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio & Kentucky by not passing the American Jobs Act. Er, not exactly.
And You Think the Government Is Bad? Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post reviews the shady history of Hewlitt-Packard's management, and the massive losses caused by its board & their hand-picked incompetent CEOs. It's a soap opera with no happy ending. If there's a cliffhanger, it's -- Will Meg Whitman, HP's newest CEO, do as ineffective a job for HP as she did running her campaign for U.S. Senate?
Right Wing World
Has anybody been watching the debates lately? You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change. -- Barack Obama, at a California fundraiser yesterday
CW: Yet another profile of Fox "News"' Roger Ailes, this one by that phoney Howie Kurtz. But Kurtz does discover something I wouldn't, since I don't watch Fox:
Privately, Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama’s election, but, as the Tea Party’s popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream. While Fox reporters ply their trade under Ailes’s much-mocked 'fair and balanced' banner, the opinion arm of the operation has been told to lower the temperature. After the Gabrielle Giffords shooting triggered a debate about feverish rhetoric, Ailes ordered his troops to tone things down. It was, in his view, a chance to boost profits by grabbing a more moderate audience.
Yesterday on Off Times Square we were discussing colorful language, so reader Bob M. sent me a link to a video of Gov. Rick Perry, well, using colorful language when he thought he was off-camera. The backstory is here, but I couldn't get the video to load. So I looked for a YouTube version, and here it is:
... While I was looking, I found this video by Steve Brooks, uploaded in 2010. I kinda love it:
Prof. Matthew Sutton, in a New York Times op-ed, on how fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic fears/hopes are driving political discourse as right-wing candidates cash in on & stoke them. CW: while the views of these fundamentalists are, well, nuts, the Republicans' embrace & exploitation of them is alarming. Reading Sutton's piece should make you think twice about home-schooling, too.
Washington Post: "Senate leaders reached an agreement Monday evening that is almost certain to avert a federal government shutdown.... The new pact, which the Senate approved 79 to 12 and the House is expected to ratify next week, will keep federal agencies open until Nov. 18 at a level of spending that represents a 1.5 percent cut from this year’s levels.... Senate leaders agreed to a compromise that provides less money for disaster relief than Democrats sought, but also strips away spending cuts that Republicans had advanced." New York Times story here.
Washington Post: "The constitutionality of the 2010 health-care law will likely be determined by the Supreme Court this term, meaning the decision could come next summer in the thick of the 2012 presidential campaign.... Although the department declined further comment, the logical next step for the Obama administration is to ask the justices to make what would be the final determination on the law’s fate."
The Hill: "Facebook confirmed it filed paperwork on Monday to start its own political action committee. 'FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,' said a spokesman...."
President Obama spoke at a campaign event in San Diego, California this afternoon & at campaign events in Los Angeles this evening.
... Los Angeles Times story here: "Raise my taxes, please."
President Obama participated in a townhall meeting this morning. AP: "President Barack Obama is on the road selling his jobs plan — and his re-election hopes — to plugged-in networkers in Silicon Valley and around the country. He was to appear Monday at a town hall-style event hosted by the career-focused social networking site LinkedIn to pitch his nearly $450 billion jobs proposal as he travels through California scooping up campaign cash."
Washington Post: "With time running out, Congress returns Monday to try to pass a short-term funding measure to avert a government shutdown and avoid yet another market-rattling showdown over the federal budget. The Democratic-led Senate, which on Friday blocked a GOP House measure to fund the government through Nov. 18, will vote late Monday on its own version of the bill."
AP: "President Barack Obama charged Sunday that the GOP vision of government would 'fundamentally cripple America,' as he tried out his newly combative message on the liberal West Coast."
AP: Americans "Joshua Fattal ... and Shane Bauer ... spoke for the first time in public about their ordeal of more than two years at the hands of Iranians — accused of spying for their country by illegally walking across the Iran-Iraq border."
Reuters: "Protesters in Sanaa are preparing for a long, messy revolt after President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered no clear path to a handover on his return to Yemen from three months of convalescence after an attempt on his life."
Washington Post: "A group of defectors calling themselves the Free Syrian Army is attempting the first effort to organize an armed challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, signaling what some hope and others fear may be a new phase in what has been an overwhelmingly peaceful Syrian protest movement."
Reuters: "Scottish prosecutors have asked Libya's interim rulers for help in tracking down information which could lead to others, even deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi, being charged over the 1988 bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland."