From The Editor
Bill Girdner
Story Date:   
End of Appeasement

     I talk to my aunt on Fridays after work, as I'm walking home. She is well into her 80s and the last of my dad's generation.
     And while the ailments grow greater, her commentary on politics is as clear as ever.
     She has been an erstwhile supporter of the president. A pacifist in large measure, she did not necessarily approve but understood and defended his return to the theatre of war in Iraq, his mass deportations, his prosecution of journalists, his support of our spies spying on us, his compromises great and small.
     So it was with a slight smile of surprise that I heard her say on Friday, "I think our president gives in a little too much."
     It was the banks that did it.
     As usual, she was ahead of me on the news.
     After a day of e-mails and meetings about e-filing transitions in Iowa, Missouri, Massachusetts and Oklahoma where press access is being limited, it was as though I had been in a news blackout.
     She said the banks were getting a break, a loosening of their ability to gamble with our money. "They get to keep it if they win and we pay for it if they lose," is how she put it.
     I admit I thought she might be confused. The economy is only just now, this holiday season, coming back to full force, after the meltdown brought on by big bank practices.
     We could not be that memoryless.
     She also said something about increasing the amounts wealthy individuals can give to politicians.
     So, when I got home and turned on the news, I saw that she had it dead on.
     Her generation lived through the great depression, and has not forgotten the harm unrestricted banks can cause. But there is something else there, a clear, straight-ahead brand of populism.
     It is different from the Republican populism that opposes taxes while favoring guns and war.
     It is one that has seen the hard times in great swathes of America while the guys in tophats lived the high life and messed up the economy so bad that only the forced spending of a world war could bring us out of it.
     The tophats are gone but the same guys are there in fine dress watching the politicians give them breaks as part of the grand round of horse trading that comes in a budget bill.
     And she sees it.
     In such clear terms that it has dented her faith in the president.
     In the same conversation, my aunt was complimentary towards Elizabeth Warren in her battle against the banks. But also figured she would lose.
     So if one were to see whisps of the future in the words from the past, in that slow and reluctant loss of faith in the president, in the guarded embrace of a new politician, it would be that the Democrats need to start fighting if they want to survive.
     And in a way, I look forward to seeing the political battle re-engage in the New Year. With the Republicans controlling both houses, they will set the agenda and they will be under great pressure to sound moderate, show that they can govern. But I don't think they can do it, they will not be able to restrain the horses of the right.
     At the point the Democrats will need to put up a fight or be ground under.
     There truly is a cycle in life, something that becomes more and more clear as you get further into the cycle. And just as clearly, the economic life and political life of a nation also have a cycle.
     A new cycle is about to begin in our nation's political life, and I suspect it will be really ugly. But something great might come out of it, because the strategy of appeasement from the forces of the left will have to be abandoned.

Coyote Speaks
Robert Kahn
Story Date:   
Mom Blames Target for Her Son's Suicide

     LOS ANGELES (CN) - A disabled Target employee committed suicide three days after his bosses made him perform a "walk of shame," a humiliating ritual that is company policy, his mother claims in court.
     Virginia Gentles sued Target Corp. and two managers of its Pasadena store on Jan. 22 in Superior Court, for the death of her son, Graham Gentles, who was a cashier.
     The individual defendants are Anthony Mims, the Pasadena store team leader, and Charles Godinez, the store's executive team leader for asset protection.
     Graham Gentles has Asperger's syndrome, his mother says. When he arrived for work, 10 minutes early as usual, on July 15, 2014, he was met by police and Target security workers, including Mims and Godinez.
     At the direction of Mims and Godinez, police grabbed her son at the front entrance, "emptied his pockets, pulled his hat off his head, handcuffed him," and then led him, with Mims and Godinez, past the registers and into the office, Gentles says.
     She says her son was "shocked, confused and mortified" and "had no idea why he was being arrested."
     In the Target office, he was "forcibly detained by Target security personnel and the police," questioned, then taken to the police department, his mom says. She says her son was never charged with a crime and was released that day.
     She claims Mims and Godinez "were acting pursuant to Target policy in instigating Mr. Gentles' arrest and subjecting him to the Walk of Shame."
     The complaint states: "The Walk of Shame is a Target policy to purposefully cause shame, embarrassment and emotional distress to any Target employee who is suspected of stealing from Target Corporation. The policy consists of suspected employees being arrested and paraded in handcuffs through the Target store in full view of co-workers and store customers."
     Gentles claims that Target has made other employees do the Walk of Shame "on numerous occasions."
     She says her son was a "loyal and hard-working employee" who never stole anything from Target.
     Her son killed himself three days later. She says his arrest and Walk of Shame "proximately caused" her son to commit suicide.
     She seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Patrick McNicholas.

From The Courts
Milt Policzer
Story Date:   
S&P Sent to Its Room

     Now that corporations are people, are they adults or children?
     If a company has been around less than 21 years, should it be tried in a different court for youthful offenders?
     Or are they simply permanent children? After all, they never get sent to jail.
     If you think I'm going crazy, you're almost certainly correct, but consider this passage from a press release issued last week by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services: "S&P Ratings has also agreed to take a 'time-out' from issuing ratings on new U.S. conduit/fusion CMBS transactions until January 21, 2016."
     That's right - the government gave S&P a time-out.
     The company agreed to pay $58 million too, but no actual humans (as opposed to corporate humans) are going to feel any real pain from that.
     So will the corporation think carefully about its misdeeds while sitting in a corner, and resolve never to repeat them?
     Think about this in noncorporate human terms. Should you order a bank robber not to go near a bank for a year - and then let him go wherever he wants after that?
     I can't imagine this working unless you take away S&P's Internet connection and game console.
     And cut its allowance.
     Cap limits. Who says unions aren't effective?
     I don't know. Someone must.
     Be that as it may, union supporters will be happy to note that a union in Nevada has taken a case all the way to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to protect its members' right to wear baseball caps with logos of their choice.
     The case is World Color v. National Labor Relations Board, where we find a union complaining about a printing company's policy banning baseball caps unless they bear the company logo.
     Eugene V. Debs would be so proud.
     The ruling, in case you're wondering, turns on whether the employees can put other stuff on the hats along with the company symbol.
     It's a victory for lawyers - the case got remanded to the National Labor Relations Board for reconsideration.
     I can't wait for the next chapter.
     Excuse of the week. This is from a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling called Brody v. Brody: ''In June, 2008, the plaintiff discovered unused condoms in the defendant's toiletries bag. ... [The defendant asserted] that he used the condoms in the marriage when his sexually transmitted disease was active and that he used the condoms for comfort when he had ingrown hairs.''
     The ingrown hair excuse never works.
     Theological conundrum. Is it possible that no matter what you do, you're violating someone's religious freedom?
     A civil rights complaint has been filed against a baker in Denver for refusing to put an anti-gay message on a cake. This comes after another Denver baker got into trouble for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
     We have freedom of speech but do we have freedom of cake decorating?
     Frosting really is bad for us.
     I say let them all eat cake.
     The rich get snippier. Take a moment before you read further to see if you can guess the source of this sarcastic quote in an article about lawyers not being happy with their huge bonuses: "Having your boss hand you a check for more than the median household income in the U.S. is the absolute worst."
     You know this is a trick question.
     The answer is that it's from Bloomberg Businessweek - which means it's probably not being read by anyone too poverty-stricken.
     It's an article about lawyers being jealous of richer lawyers.
     I think I feel some jealousy coming on for what the guy who wrote the story got paid.
     Headline of the week: "Is law that prohibits women from going topless in public unconstitutional?"
     I hope so.