Slatest PM: The Political Reality of Lautenberg's Death

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 3 2013 6:14 PM

Slatest PM: The Political Reality of Lautenberg's Death

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) speaks to members of the press as he arrives at the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol January 29, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats gathered at the luncheon to discuss Senate Democratic agendas. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

RIP, Frank Lautenberg: The New Yorker: "Frank Lautenberg, who was elected as a Senator from New Jersey five times, has died. That’s not a surprise in itself; he was eighty-nine, and had been ill, and had said that he wouldn’t run the next time he could, in 2014. But Lautenberg had a way of answering intimations of mortality with a restless insistence that he was not done yet: he had already retired once, a dozen years ago, only to grab an opening created by a scandal and run for another Senate seat one year later. In January, he became the only remaining veteran of the Second World War in the Senate. ... 

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"Lautenberg was a businessman from a family of immigrants; he built a company, A.D.P., that processed payrolls, and his money helped him get elected to the Senate—his first political office—in 1982. He was also a consistent liberal, the old-fashioned kind: against smoking and the Iraq war, for health-care reform, even for Amtrak. ... His death, by virtue of its timing and the political configuration of New Jersey, will be the occasion for more reflections on what half a dozen political labels mean. Under state law, Governor Chris Christie, who is a Republican with an interest, for the Presidential race in 2016, in letting Democrats think he’s a moderate while assuring members of his own party that he’s conservative enough, gets to pick an interim successor."

The Political Reality: New York Times: "So crucial was Mr. Lautenberg’s reliably liberal vote in a Senate where his party held a 55-to-45 majority that Democratic leaders twice asked him in recent weeks to return to Washington to vote despite his failing health. He died on Monday morning of complications from viral pneumonia. ... In one memorable instance in April, his aides helped push him out onto the Senate floor in his wheelchair to cast much-needed “yes” votes for a package of gun-control legislation. Though the bills were ultimately defeated in a Republican-led filibuster, his presence that day served as a reminder for how the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, must scrape for almost every vote. Mr. Reid must scrape even harder now that Mr. Lautenberg’s successor is expected to be a Republican. The state’s governor, Chris Christie, a Republican, will make the appointment. ... Governor Christie’s appointee will arrive in the Senate as the body prepares to tackle some of the most significant domestic policy issues in years."

It's Monday. Welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

SCOTUS and DNA: Washington Post: "A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that police may take DNA samples as part of a routine arrest booking for serious crimes, narrowly upholding a Maryland law and saying the samples can be considered similar to fingerprints. ... The decision overturned a ruling by Maryland’s highest court that the law allows unlawful searches of those arrested to see whether they can be connected to unsolved crimes. The federal government and 28 states, including Maryland, allow taking DNA samples. The court split in an unusual fashion. The dissenters were three of the court’s liberals, and conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who amplified his displeasure by reading a summary of his dissent from the bench."

Manning Trial Gets Underway: Associated Press: "Pfc. Bradley Manning put U.S. military secrets into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself, prosecutors said Monday as the Army intelligence analyst went on trial over the biggest leak of classified material in American history. Manning's lawyers countered by arguing that he was a 'young, naive but good-intentioned' soldier whose struggle to fit in as a gay man in the military made him feel he 'needed to do something to make a difference in this world.' ... Manning, 25, has admitted turning over hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, pleading guilty earlier this year to charges that could bring 20 years behind bars. But the military pressed ahead with a court-martial on more serious charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. Prosecutors said they will present evidence that bin Laden requested and obtained from another al-Qaida member Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department cables published by WikiLeaks."

Apple's E-Book Troubles: Reuters: "Apple Inc conspired with publishers to raise the price of e-books in a scheme costing consumers 'hundreds of millions of dollars,' a U.S. government lawyer said on Monday. A three-week trial got under way before a federal judge in New York in a case pitting the Justice Department against the popular iPad and iPhone maker that could shine a light on the secretive Silicon Valley giant's business practices." ... Orin Snyder, an attorney for Apple, described the case as 'bizarre.' Apple acted in its own business interests in negotiating deals with publishers in the run up to the debut of its iPad in January 2010, he said."

Boston Fire Chief Resigns: Boston Globe: "on the job, following a clash with his command staff over his management style and handling of the Boston Marathon bombings, officials said. Abraira had been the first chief in the history of the Boston Fire Department hired from outside of its own union. In recent weeks, Abraira came under attack from his 13 deputy chiefs, all of whom have risen through the department’s ranks."

China's Poultry Fire: Wall Street Journal: "At least 119 people were killed and dozens injured in a fire at a chicken slaughter house in north China, according to provincial officials, the latest reminder of the country's poor industrial-safety record. Chinese state media quoted workers saying that all but one of the doors to the plant were typically locked from the outside. ... Industrial accidents have gone hand in hand with China's emergence as a world powerhouse in production—including of food. And while poor factory safety doesn't necessarily equate to unsafe food, industry officials say workplace problems of any kind around food raise risks it will be contaminated during processing."

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