ALWAYS HIGH SETTLEMENTS. ALWAYS. In what is only the latest of many such decisions, Pennsylvania courts decided against Wal-Mart in a 187,000 person class action suit alleging the company forced employees to work extra hours without pay and withheld rest breaks. The damages will reach into the hundreds of millions. Wal-Mart recently paid $50 million in Colorado and $172 million in California for similar suits, and is currently facing the largest gender discrimination case in history. You have to wonder about a corporate culture that seems to so routinely violate labor laws.
PLAYED FOR SUCKERS.Kevin Drumhighlights the new Gallup poll showing a collapse in the GOP's typically overwhelming dominance among white religious voters. He notes at the end that "if even 5% of them stay home and another 5% switch to the Democrats, it's going to have a huge impact.
CAN THIS ARGUMENT BE SAVED? In response to my claim that the exemption of women from punishment under laws banning abortion is fatally incoherent, a commenter here (as a TAPPED commenter did earlier) invokes Ronald Dworkin's argument that abortion is a "cosmic shame" that nonetheless doesn't rise to the level of murder. The commenter says:
TAX-EXEMPT MONEY-LAUNDERING. The Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, led by Max Baucus, have put together a minority report (PDF) questioning the tax-exempt status of several of the non-profit organizations that apparently put dollars through the Maytag for the felonious Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (It should be noted that Finance committee chairman Chuck Grassley did sign off on the report.)
The latest Fed Beige Book, which gives assessments on current economic conditions from the Fed's 12 regional banks, reportedly finds that the impact of falling gas prices is offsetting the impact of the weak housing market. This one doesn't sound quite right.
HOW DO YOU SAY "SI SE PUEDE" IN CHINESE? Here's a very simple question: Do you think worker laws are too generous in China? Do you think employees there get paid too much, or treated too kindly? Well, America's corporations do.
BEATS KEN BURNS. OK, so the Turkish guy seems like a real standup fella, but next year's Nobel better go to these folks or there will be all kinds of Swedish hell to pay. You wouldn't think there were that many people who could do Jonah Goldberg imitations, but, damn, this guy's good. By the way, note to all Rush Limbaugh fans and the insecure Beltway drones whom they make nervous -- this is what you call satire. Pass it on.
SADAT'S NEPHEW GETS IN TROUBLE. The 25-year anniversary of the assassination (video link) of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat passed last Friday without much hoopla here in Cairo. Many journalists, including my friend Zvika Krieger, used the occasion to reflect on Sadat's major legacy: the Camp David Accords.
Yes, Thomas Friedman is back (it's Times Select, so there's no linking). Mr. Friedman reports that voters want energy independence, but they are not prepared to support higher gas or BTU taxes. Instead he tells us that they want higher mileage standards and energy use regulations of the sort put in place by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California.
Friedman's source on what voters support is Democratic political advisors James Carville and Stan Greenberg, who he tells us "are are professional campaign advisers. They get paid to get people elected � not to offer feel-good nostrums."