Real Time Reading List

By Allison MacDonald

Between the two debates in Florida, Obama’s State of the Union, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s nasty encounter with the President, and all of Newt Gingrich’s “big ideas,” there was plenty to debate on the panel. Here is our reading list for last week:


What’s the fate of the Florida Primary? Who won last night’s debate?

The LA Times editorial page opines: “The winner? There wasn’t one -- not onstage, at least. Rick Santorum turned in a good performance, criticizing both Romney and Gingrich for their past support of government-mandated health insurance, but he’s running a very distant third in Florida. Ron Paul slammed both front-runners, too, but he’s running fourth. The polls in Florida show Romney and Gingrich neck and neck. If anyone won Thursday evening, it may have been Barack Obama.”

And: Was Newt rewriting history when he said he never favored the federal mandate? Did Santorum have his facts right when he attacked “Romneycare”? Check out this fact-check of Thursday’s debate.

As of this Friday afternoon, Mitt appears to be leading in Florida. The New York Times' pollster puts the odds of Mitt winning there at 78%, but do you think Newt could pull it off before Tuesday’s primary?


Tales from the Heated Tarmac

This week, Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer and President Obama got into a tiff on the tarmac for all the reporters to see. Obama confronted Brewer because he took issue with her depiction of him in her book as “condescending.” Two questions here: Is this kind of disrespect toward the president unprecendented in history? And: Who won the fight?

Salon’s Alex Pareene says it’s a win-win: “Regardless of who started the argument, it’s a net positive for Brewer, which is why she’s blabbing about it. Remember what happened when Joe Wilson yelled “you lie” at Obama? He received a formal rebuke from the House…and raised $2.65 million in less than a month. Jan Brewer is already selling more books.”

On the other hand, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait isn’t so sure the fight was an accident and argues that the fight may have been strategic on Obama’s end: “If it’s an accident, though, it’s a pretty fortuitous one.A public shouting match with a governor who’s unpopular with Arizonans in general and despised by Latinos…An accident? I doubt it.”


Where do iPhones come from?

A dirty place, it turns out. “Made in USA” is no longer as good as “Made in China” -- but it comes at a human cost. It turns out that many of Apple’s workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices are often subject to labor under very harsh conditions. Employees at plants in China often work excessive overtimes, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms (70,000 workers live in dorms, at times with 20 people stuffed into a three-room apartment). Some workers say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk, under-age workers are not uncommon, and suppliers often improperly dispose of hazardous waste. Check out how we lost out on iPhone work and the dire consequences of cheap and quick labor.

Would knowing this about Apple have stopped your from buying iPhones and iPads? Should American consumers force Apple to change its labor practices to be more humane? Was Steve Jobs a bad Buddhist?