Five Best Thursday Columns

David Weigel on the conviction of Ray Nagin, James Fallows on the original House of Cards, Brian Beutler on the GOP debt limit fight, Kavitha A. Davidson on a major baseball lawsuit, Rachel Monroe on Airbnb and the housing market.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

David Weigel at Slate on the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. When a Democrat goes down in a sex scandal or a criminal investigation, there's always some yowling on the conservative Internet (or talk radio) that the media won't use his party label. Why are we covering for the Democrats? In Nagin's case, it's totally accurate to call him a Democrat — he won twice on the ticket. Republicans have not won the mayor's office in New Orleans since northern troops were occupying the South so, without reading minds, I assume a lot of photo/wire editors think readers will guess that the black mayor of New Orleans was a Democrat. They shouldn't assume. Good point! Refs, worked,” Weigel writes. Some readers asked Weigel why he didn’t cover the story. While a colleague took the reins, Weigel said it was also because of Nagin’s fleeting moment in the public eye. “The mayor was a national figure, briefly, after he failed spectacularly during the greatest crisis of his term. He won re-election over a white candidate, Mitch Landrieu, in 2006. After he left office, Landrieu easily won the election to replace him — and Landrieu was re-elected this week.”

James Fallows at The Atlantic on the original House of Cards. “The comparison between the U.S. and U.K. versions of this program shows something about why I feel so profoundly American (rather than British), but also why the Brits excel at just this kind of thing. There are lots of tough breaks in Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, but in the end there is a jauntiness to it. People kill themselves; politicians lie and traduce; no one can be trusted — and still, somewhere deep it has a kind of American optimism. That's us (and me). USA! USA!” Fallows writes. Comparing the American and British versions of show’s main character, Francis Urquhart, is, as Fallows points out, “like the contrast between Ricky Gervais in the original U.K. version of The Office and Steve Carell in the knock-off role” albeit with some more malevolence. The Atlantics Christopher Orr tweets, “Someday I intend to write comparing Brit and Am political satire. In meantime, read @JamesFallows on #HouseofCards.”

Brian Beutler at Salon on the GOP debt limit fight"Nobody expected Senate Republicans would kill a House-passed bill to unconditionally extend the debt limit through 2014 and, as predicted, it overcame a filibuster Wednesday evening with weeks to spare before the deadline. But for a brief moment, Senate Republicans were overcome by a collective action problem. As a group, they surely didn’t want to vote the debt limit increase down and own the ensuing market panic. But as individuals, none of them wanted their names associated with its passage," Beutler writes. The bill languished in limbo for half an hour, and it looked increasingly clear that some Republicans would have to walk the plank and break the filibuster. "When it was all over, the non-Cruz wing of the party expressed its gratitude to McConnell (whose race is much more competitive than Cornyn’s) for acting with courage and integrity. What they couldn’t say, but they knew full well, is that McConnell and Cornyn invited all of this upon themselves."

Kavitha A. Davidson at Bloomberg View on minor leaguers suing the MLB"The backbone of the case is that minor leaguers aren't afforded the benefits of a union, as major leaguers are, and thus work mandatory, unpaid overtime hours, receiving pay amounting to less than minimum wage. While some players get substantial bonuses, the suit says the average player receives a salary of $3,000 to $7,500 for a season of work," Davison writes on the class-action lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball by three minor league players. "It's rather odd that the farm system for the league that pioneered fair labor practice, player unions and free agency should be so lacking in representation. Without a union of their own, minor leaguers have been dependent on the MLB Players Association for negotiating their rights and bonuses in the past few CBAs."

Rachel Monroe at Slate on Airbnb and the housing market. “This utopian vision of regular people helping each other out (and making a little money along the way) is a cornerstone of Airbnb’s PR strategy: “It’s like the United Nations at every kitchen table. It’s very powerful,” Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky told attendees at a hospitality conference last year. “For us to win, no one has to lose.” But that’s a more contentious claim than it might seem. Recent years have shown there are plenty of profits to be made in the short-term-rental world — and big profits tend to produce both winners and losers. Airbnb’s top 40 hosts in New York City have grossed more than $35 million combined. It didn’t take long for the original hosts of the so-called sharing economy to find themselves competing with enterprising property owners,” Monroe writes. While Monroe is writing from Marfa, Texas, where she listed her own home on Airbnb, in New York City the story is different. “In a tight housing market, the results can be dire: fewer places on the rental market, increased evictions, and rising rents for everyone. The battle over short-term rentals has gotten the most attention in New York City, where Airbnb is enmeshed in various legal battles.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.