The Lookout
  • Two Topeka city councilmen at Tuesday's vote (AP)The Topeka City Council voted to decriminalize domestic battery and other misdemeanors Tuesday night. The vote was a bid to get the county district attorney to back down from his decision not to prosecute those crimes anymore.

    Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced abruptly last month that due to budget cuts, he would stop prosecuting the city's misdemeanors effective immediately. The city has argued that it lacks the resources to take on those crimes itself--including a jail. Misdemeanor domestic battery crimes have gone un-prosecuted and unpunished since the financial tiff began, outraging domestic violence activists.

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  • Occupy Wall Street isn’t about Wall Street

    AP Photo/Andrew BurtonThe popular protests that began last month in lower Manhattan before spreading across the country have generally been characterized, at least in the media's short-hand, as "anti-Wall Street" -- driven by anger about the financial industry recklessness and greed that helped tank the economy.

    Given the "Occupy Wall Street" name, and the site of the movement's seminal demonstration, that's hardly surprising. Still, it's a misreading of what's happening -- and one with important consequences.

    That's because Occupy Wall Street isn't really about Wall Street at all. It's about much broader economic trends that extend far beyond the financial sector, and have been playing out since well before Goldman Sachs ever got into the subprime mortgage business. We're seeing an echo of this important point now, as demonstrations have spread beyond the nation's financial capital and across the country.

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  • Understanding ‘We Are the 99 Percent’

    We Are the 99 PercentOccupy Wall Street may lack a firmly articulated policy agenda or set of demands, but the movement may have something stronger--a individually created portrait of its numbers. "We Are the 99 Percent" is a blog created by the organizers of Occupy Wall Street; it consists of user-submitted testimonies of how ordinary Americans are coping with economic insecurity. Each post is a photo of the submitter, holding their story as written on a single sheet of paper.

    Rebecca Rosen at The Atlantic called it "self-service history" and Nona Willis Aronowitz of Good said it was "the best populist message" produced on the left end of the political spectrum in years. Among other things, We Are the 99 Percent has helped to put a human face on an otherwise ill-defined political movement. It's even spawned a competitor blog, spearheaded by high-profile conservatives such as RedState's Erick Erickson and Josh Trevino of the Texas Public Policy Foundation--We Are the 53 Percent--that chides the 99 percenters for not taking enough personal responsibility for their circumstances.

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