Will Republicans Follow Nebraska and Give Up the Death Penalty?

Yesterday, Nebraska's legislature abolished the state's use of capital punishment, voting 30–19 to override Republican governor Pete Ricketts's veto of a bill that had repealed the state's death penalty law. As the New York Times reports, it is the first time in 40 years that a conservative state has banned the death penalty, and Nebraska now becomes the 19th state, along with the District of Columbia, to forbid capital punishment. The last conservative state to do so was North Dakota in 1973, though six blue states have banned the practice since 2006.

Prior to the vote, Nebraska had 11 inmates on death row but had been unable to execute anyone for 17 years. Indeed, even if they had not repealed the practice, the state, which relied on the procedure of lethal injection after banning the electric chair in 2009, would have had the same difficulty that most other death penalty states currently have: a decisive shortage of lethal injection drugs, after European manufacturers decided it was no longer ethical to sell state governments the components they need to make their lethal injection cocktails. According to the Times, even Texas, which leads the nation in executions by a considerable margin, only has enough drugs to execute one more prisoner.

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No, the Democrats Have Not Moved Further Left Than Republicans Have Moved Right

When Barack Obama first appeared on the scene as an underdog challenger to Hillary Clinton, conservatives welcomed him as a refreshing, relatively moderate alternative. Then they decided Obama was actually a left-wing extremist, in comparison to the moderation of the Clintons. As Hillary Clinton prepares to take the helm of the Democratic Party, the Republican task is now to formulate a new line, according to which Obama moved his party to the left, and Hillary Clinton threatens to move it even further left. Peter Wehner, a former Bush administration strategist, makes the case in the New York Times today. His case is not strong.

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Former Senate Republicans Admit Obamacare Lawsuit Is Crazy

In the New York Times today, Robert Pear brings the latest report reassuring those of us who followed the health-care debate when it happened that we are not completely insane. This seemingly mundane task is necessary because the Supreme Court is due to rule on a lawsuit designed to cripple Obamacare, the premise of which is that everybody involved in the passage of health-care reform is misremembering or lying about the intent of the law.

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In the Murky World of Big-Bucks Speeches, the Clintons Are More Transparent Than Most

Bill and Hillary Clinton might have left the White House dead broke, but they certainly recovered quickly. The pair has generated tens of millions of dollars of income for themselves and their foundation since 2000, with much of it coming from paid speeches. Indeed, financial disclosure reports recently filed by the Clintons bump the total that they have ginned up in speaking fees to at least $130 million, with the price of a single speech frequently topping $300,000.

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The Endurance of Bushism

Jeb Bush has doggedly defended his brother’s presidency, but last week he seemed to offer one unabashed criticism: little brother spent too much money. “I think that in Washington, during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money,” Jeb Bush said, when asked to differentiate himself from the 43rd president. “I think he could have used the veto power — he didn’t have line-item veto power, but he could have brought budget discipline to Washington, D.C.”

This sounds like a criticism of George W. Bush. It’s actually a dodge Republicans have used to avoid coming to grips with the failure of their party’s domestic agenda.

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Jeb Bush Finally Getting His Own $1.4 Million House on the Family Compound

Jeb Bush is getting a brand-new $1.4 million home set amid his family's coastal-Maine compound, his parents have told the Boston Globe. Dad George H.W. Bush explained that with the influx of great-grandkids, "we needed to expand our accommodations in order for me to preserve something called ‘domestic tranquility.’" Jeb himself admitted that his family is "so lucky" to be getting the new vacation home, but apparently not lucky enough to get to design the place himself — his mom is doing that. The 3,000-square-foot house, which will hopefully be named "Camp Jeb," is expected to be finished in July, just in time for some pre-campaign foreign-policy confabs with his brother.

Where Is Scott Walker?

Over the last three months, the GOP's Iowa front-runner has become an incredible, shrinking presence on the campaign trail. Sure, he's still touring the country, introducing himself to voters, telling them how unafraid he was to stand up to the unions and liberal protesters he battled in Wisconsin, but he's also ducking out of uncontrolled situations, skipping questions from the press, and spending more time on small or private events, usually packed with friendly crowds. Last week, when he traveled to Israel — usually an occasion to invite reporters or hold a press conference — Walker held no press events. The same was true last month when he went to Europe. He skipped the press on a recent tour of the Mexico border, at a campaign stop in South Carolina, and even at a local chamber of commerce event in his home state of Wisconsin.

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Obama Is Defaming Putin, Complains Harper’s Cover Story

In the Harper’s cover story on the Obama presidency, “What Went Wrong,” David Bromwich recapitulates mostly familiar grounds of left-wing disenchantment with the administration. (It is not available online for non-subscribers because Harper’s hates the internet.) Bromwich, though, arrives on creative new ground when he gets around to denouncing Obama’s policy toward Russia, which involves such crimes as “the defamation of Vladimir Putin”:

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New Study Shows Riots Make America Conservative

The recent spate of protests against police brutality have changed the way the left thinks about rioting. The old liberal idea, which distinguished between peaceful protests (good) and rioting (bad), has given way to a more radical analysis. “Riots work,” insists George Ciccariello-Maher in Salon. “But despite the obviousness of the point, an entire chorus of media, police, and self-appointed community leaders continue to try to convince us otherwise, hammering into our heads a narrative of a nonviolence that has never worked on its own, based on a mythical understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.” Vox’s German Lopez, while acknowledging the downside of random violence, argues, “Riots can lead to real, substantial change.” In Rolling Stone, Jesse Myerson asserts, “the historical pedigree of property destruction as a tactic of resistance is long and frequently effective.Darlena Cunha, writing in Time, asks, “Is rioting so wrong?” and proceeds to answer her own question in the negative.

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Video of the day

Charlie Rangel Opens Debate With Fake Phone Call

Congressman Joe Garcia Picks Ear, Eats It on Live TV

Sarah Palin Thinks Chelsea’s Baby May Make Hillary ‘Open Her Eyes’ About Abortion

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In The Mag

Back on the Trail

When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.

By Jason Zengerle

Reading List

Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013

The Case for Deficit Optimism

For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.

By Ezra Klein
Salon Jan. 15, 2012

The NRA's Democratic Helpers

Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.

By Steve Kornacki

From the Archives

New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010

Boehner's Army

After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009

With Friends Like These

Obama drew progressive ire from day one.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.

By Jeff Coplon