Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With the Republican-led filibuster of a Senate proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 on Wednesday, Democrats moved swiftly to frame the vote as an example of the gulf that exists between the two parties on matters of economic fairness and upward mobility. The question is not just one of money, they said, but of morality. And in doing so the Democrats returned to the themes that were successful for their party and President Obama in 2012 .... Speaking from the White House shortly after the measure was defeated 54 to 42, with 60 votes needed to advance, Mr. Obama admonished Republicans and called on voters to punish them at the polls in November":
... ** Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: Living standards for the poor are better than they were 50 years ago, but the poor have fallen further behind the middle-class & rich. Read the whole article. ...
... O Canada! Ian Austen & David Leonhardt of the New York Times: Middle-class Canadians are better off than middle-class U.S. workers. "... median income in Canada appears to have surpassed median income in the United States. Plus, their health care is cheaper, they're better-educated, they have higher union membership, the rich aren't as rich, & Canadians didn't lose their homes in the global recession [because Canadian regulations don't allow big bankers to run amok]. ...
... Charles Pierce: "Can we just drop the pretense now and admit that one of our two major political parties is perfectly fine with pauperizing the American middle-class in order to 'redistribute' wealth upwards?"
We have to be cognizant of how people hear things. For instance, when I think of 'inner city,' I think of everyone. I don't just think of one race. It doesn't even occur to me that it could come across as a racial statement, but that's not the case, apparently.... What I learned is that there's a whole language and history that people are very sensitive to, understandably so. We just have to better understand. You know, we'll be a little clumsy, but it's with the right intentions behind it. -- Rep. Paul White Bread Ryan (R-Wis.), after meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday
CW Translation: Tetchy, tetchy. Among the many failings of those people, they don't hear right. I'm still the best person ever.
CW Alternate Translation: Damn! Those people are on to me. My staff will have to think of another code phrase for 'lazy black city folk.'
Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "By 2020, about 90 percent of American workers who now receive health insurance through their employers will be shifted to government exchanges created by the health law, according to a projection by S&P Capital IQ, a research firm serving the financial industry."
Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "As officials in Oklahoma said they would investigate the botched execution that has drawn worldwide scrutiny, the White House weighed in and said that the execution was not conducted humanely. 'We have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely,' Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday during a briefing. 'And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard.'" ...
... Dustin Volz of the National Journal: "Secret suppliers of drugs, changes in lethal-injection protocol, a cavalier attitude among Oklahoma officials, and a national death-penalty system in crisis preceded Tuesday's failed execution." ...
... ** Andrew Cohen of the Atlantic: "What happened [Tuesday] night was the inevitable result of a breakdown in government in Oklahoma, where frustration at the continuing delay in the resolution of Lockett's case blinded state officials to the basic requirements of due process.... Lockett now is a symbol of feckless judicial review by the federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.... It's on[, among others,] Justice Antonin Scalia, the man of great faith, who just a few months ago, in oral argument in Hall v. Florida, lamented the slow pace of executions in this country and blamed his colleagues for the delay." ...
... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress has more on the history behind current executions. ...
... New York Times Editors: "On Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after her employees tortured a man to death, [Oklahoma Gov. Mary] Fallin [R] suddenly showed an interest in execution procedures. She ordered an independent review of the injection protocol, halting further state killings until the investigation is complete. She should have gone much further and followed other governors and legislatures in banning executions, recognizing that the American administration of death does not function. Mr. Lockett's ordeal, along with the botched deaths of other inmates around the country, showed there is no reliable and humane method of execution." ...
... Mike Sacks of the Daily Beast on the Supreme Court & the death penalty. The Court won't eliminate the death penalty, so it's up to voters.
Being a Winger Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry, Ctd. Mark Sherman of the AP: "Supreme Court opinions are rarely susceptible to the kind of fact-checking that reporters usually employ on politics. But Justice Antonin Scalia's hearty dissent in an environmental case this week contained such a glaring error of fact -- misreporting an earlier case in which Scalia himself wrote the majority opinion -- that the justice changed the opinion. The court quietly posted the corrected version on its website without notice."
Monica Davey of the New, York Times: Illinois Democrats propose to spend $100 million to lure President Obama to locate his library in Illinois, claiming the state will recoup the money in increased tourism. Republicans object. ...
... CW: I'm with Republicans on this. However, I'll bet they'd be happy to spend $100MM to get a pro ball team to move to Chicago. Or way more. From ESPN Chicago, July 2013: "The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a $500 million renovation plan for the 99-year-old Wrigley Field, including a massive left-field LED scoreboard and a large neon right-field sign."
Gail Collins: $1 million won't buy you much these days. Unless you think Jeb Bush's advice or four Hillary Clinton speeches are practically priceless.
Dave Weigel of Slate unpacks the newest Benghaaazi! "scandal": "... the entire argument is about Rhodes mentioning, hours after the CIA had suggested the Benghazi attack grew out of demonstrations in several countries, that the immediate inspiration for the demonstrations was a video. That's the scandal -- that by giving the video all this credit, the administration was distracting people from the real story that terrorism was surging again. Even though the subsequent 19 months have seen no more attacks on embassies. Even though reporting at the time said the excuse for the protests was said video."
Etiquette Rule: Don't Embarrass the Host. Philip Otterman of the Guardian: "The German government has blocked Edward Snowden from giving personal evidence in front of a parliamentary inquiry into NSA surveillance, it has emerged hours before Angela Merkel travels to Washington for a meeting with Barack Obama. In a letter to members of a parliamentary committee obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, government officials say a personal invitation for the US whistleblower would 'run counter to the political interests of the Federal Republic', and 'put a grave and permanent strain' on US-German relations.'"
Our American Presidents
Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Former President Bill Clinton, who has grown increasingly frustrated that his economic policies are viewed as out-of-step with the current focus on income inequality, on Wednesday delivered his most muscular defense of his economic legacy. The speech reflected a strategic effort by Mr. Clinton and his advisers to reclaim the populist ground now occupied by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other ascendant left-leaning Democrats, and, potentially, to lay out an economic message that could propel his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the White House in 2016."
That "Special Relationship" with Bozo. Nico Hines & Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast: "In the early1980s, senior members of the British foreign service were appalled by what they saw as the American president's bumbling ignorance and lack of interest in world affairs. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were often portrayed as geo-political soul mates, but government files declassified in London on Wednesday expose a deep British disdain for the president who was described in official papers as homophobic, uninformed, disinterested and, not to put too fine a point on it, 'a Bozo.'"
A'Way Out West
... CW: A good deal of attention has been given to the disappeared comma in the Second Amendment. Constitutional scholars instead should devote more thought to the nonstandard spelling & scrivner's error in the Amendment, what with its having been writ by hand before Webster introduced standard American spelling. The ratified version of the Amendment reads,
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
... But, with due respect to Justice Scalia (which would be no respect whatsoever), the original intent of the Founders surely was this guarantee:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bare arse shall not be infringed.
... I hold this truth to be self-evident. The venerable Founders could not have been stoopid enough to give those crazy high-plains grifters the right to "bear arms" such as muskets. Their skinny white asses, however, are relatively harmless.
A'Way Closer to D.C.
Michelle Cottle of the Daily Beast: Virginia's Republican party primary process is so undemocratic that a voter suppression technique used to select the establishment candidate actually looks like progress.
Not Everything Is Great in Canada
Jenny Yuen, et al., of the Toronto Sun: Toronto "Mayor Rob Ford says he's 'ready to take a break' from the mayoral election campaign to 'go get help.' The decision to immediately step away from the campaign — while staying on the ballot -- came after the Toronto Sun exclusively obtained a new raunchy audio recording of Ford ranting and swearing in an Etobicoke bar. The Globe and Mail also published a report that a new video surfaced of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what has been described as crack-cocaine early Saturday morning."
Washington Post: "Th[e] eastern Ukrainian city [of Donetsk] took another step toward mob rule Thursday as pro-Russian separatists stormed the state prosecutor's office and forced dozens of riot police deployed to guard the building into a humiliating surrender. The attackers, who threw stones and wielded sticks, were backed by a crowd of at least 1,000 men and women of all ages. They chanted 'fascists' and 'traitors' at the riot police and waved Russian flags as well as those of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic.... In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin made what appears to be a politically impossible demand: that the Ukrainian government completely withdraw its troops from the southeastern part of the country. He made the comments in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel...."
Reuters: "Two inmates were killed and between 100 and 150 prisoners and guards injured in an apparent gas explosion at a jail in northern Florida late on Wednesday, a county official said. The blast partly leveled the four-story Escambia County Jail's central booking facility, which held roughly 600 inmates, at about 11 p.m., county spokeswoman Kathleen Castro said. No escapees were reported."
New York Times: "Ukraine’s acting president conceded what had long been obvious: The government's police and security officials had lost control in the areas surrounding the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk." ...
... Reuters: "Ukraine said on Thursday it had detained Russia's military attaché to Kiev on suspicion of spying and ordered him to leave, as the ex-Soviet republic wrestles with an armed uprising it says is orchestrated by Moscow." ...
... Bloomberg News: "The International Monetary Fund approved a $17-billion loan to Ukraine with an immediate disbursement of $3.2 billion to help the country pay its debts as separatist unrest threatens to split the nation's east."
... AP: "The International Monetary Fund estimates that Russia's economy has already entered recession as fears of broad economic sanctions weigh on the economy. Russia's economy shrank 0.5 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the previous three-month period and is expected to continue struggling, said the head of the IMF mission in Russia, Antonio Spilimbergo."
AP: "Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army's 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow."