Clay Risen on David Cameron's Katrina Moment. "A week that began as what many called Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Katrina Moment” ended as, well, what?" asks Clay Risen. "When the unrest began on Saturday, Mr. Cameron was on vacation in Tuscany... Even worse, Mr. Cameron’s first reaction was to try and manage things from afar." In the meantime, "Kenneth Livingstone, the left-leaning former mayor of London, wasted no time, releasing a statement on Sunday that blamed the riots on recent austerity measures by the Cameron government." But though British society is not wholly blaming the London riots on the the political, social, and economic situation, "both sides seemed to agree on one thing: that the riots set the stage for a debate about British society and where it was headed, something that neither Mr. Cameron nor his Labor predecessors had been able to accomplish." There is anger over Cameron's decision to cut police spending at this time. The interesting thing though, is not that the riots have caused a rise in left-wing thought: rather, "the problem for Mr. Cameron is that while the public anger clearly leans right, it’s not leaning toward his particular brand of small-government conservatism." So where is policy heading after the riots? "It sounded then like an Anglicized version of George W. Bush’s 'compassionate conservatism,' and perhaps it was. Whether it would work is one question; whether Mr. Cameron has the guts, or even the inclination, to try it is another."
Justin Elliot on Romney's 'Corporations are People' Comment. "In an instant-classic flub at the Iowa State Fair this week, Mitt Romney proclaimed, 'corporations are people, my friend'," Elliot begins -- only to say that perhaps Romney was not so wrong after all. For one, "Romney, of course, was speaking in the context of tax policy, making the point that to raise taxes on corporations is to raise taxes on the owners -- people -- of that corporation." But moreover, "his statement unintentionally hit at another, underexamined fact of American life: Corporations are people. That's at least in the opinion of the Supreme Court when it comes to certain legal issues. This is the doctrine known as "corporate personhood" that came into play in the Citizens United case in 2010 that gutted some important corporate campaign finance restrictions." Elliot speaks to an attorney who goes into the details, concluding that Romney is "correct in the sense that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that corporations are persons with inherent constitutional rights. Of course, he's wrong just as the court is wrong."