Morning Reads

Good morning — US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turns 73 today. This is also the UN’s World Day of Social Justice. And make sure you’re ready for Ninja Day this Sunday!

Word games –> Despite the fact that his predecessor repeatedly said the same thing, Barack Obama’s claim, “The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie” — and similar statements — have sparked controversy. Martin Matishak reports for The Hill that the administration isn’t backing down. AND: Scott Shane reports for the NYT that the administration sees “a strategic logic to his vocabulary: Labeling noxious beliefs and mass murder as ‘Islamic’ would play right into the hands of terrorists who claim that the United States is at war with Islam itself.”

They need a raise –> Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon announced that the retail giant’s workers will be paid at least $9-per-hour moving forward. At The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker writes that the move “isn’t an isolated act of corporate social responsibility — it’s a response to the current realities of labor economics that will likely inform the behavior of other American employers.”

Turning up the heat on Rand Paul –> At Grist, Ben Adler takes political reporters to task for suggesting that Paul accepts the scientific consensus on global warming and is a “moderate” on the issue. “There is no counterintuitive story about Paul and climate change,” he writes. Paul “is an anti-government extremist and a climate change denier.” AND: At the WSJJames Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus look into Hillary Clinton’s “complex corporate ties” — including family charities getting big bucks from companies she promoted while in office.

Much ado about Obamacare –> Contrary to the dire predictions that have been offered by the ACA’s detractors, Michelle Fay Cortez and Alexander Wayne report for Bloomberg Business that the health care law “is putting such a small dent in the profits of US companies that many refer to its impact as ‘not material’ or ‘not significant.'”

He who is without sin –> Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly has been one of the loudest voices condemning NBC anchor Brian Williams for exaggerating his experiences in Iraq. But MoJo’s David Corn and Daniel Schulman point out that it’s quite likely that he’s repeatedly lied about his reporting during the Falkland Islands war. AND: After the MoJo piece was published, David Corn and Bill O’Reilly exchanged fire in competing interviews with Politico’s Dylan Byers.

More media news –> The shake-up at MSNBC continues. Joy Reid and Ronan Farrow’s shows have been canceled, and Lloyd Grove speculates at The Daily Beast that Chris Hayes might be next. An unnamed source tells Grove, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work any more…The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”

Fiscal conservatism –> Tim Jones reports for Bloomberg Politics that “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, facing a $283 million deficit that needs to be closed by the end of June, will skip more than $100 million in debt payments to balance the books thrown into disarray by his tax cuts.” Since taking office in 2011, Walker has showered corporations with $2 billion in tax cuts. AND: According to Vox’s Andrew Prokop, “The debt payment news came shortly before Walker dined in New York with Arthur Laffer, Steve Moore, and Larry Kudlow  — longtime staples of the supply-side economics movement, which holds that cutting taxes will often increase government revenue.”

Upland Pipeline –> TransCanada, Inc., the company that brought you years of controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, is now trying to gain approval for another one that would move crude oil the other direction, from North Dakota into Canada. Blake Nicholson and James MacPherson

Conscience and discrimination –> A judge in Washington State ruled on Wednesday that a florist who refused to provide services to a gay couple violated the state’s anti-discrimination law. AP has the story. AND: The Detroit Free-Press reports that a pediatrician in Michigan (which has no law against discrimination based on sexual orientation) told two lesbian women that “after much prayer,” she couldn’t treat their infant because the baby has two moms.

Cockfights and Bitcoins –> They’re really doing the people’s work down in the Tennessee legislature. The Tennessean has rounded up “13 quirky, odd bills proposed” by lawmakers in the Volunteer State.

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