Minimum Wage Contradictions. President Barack Obama called for more jobs and a higher minimum wage last night in his State of the Union address. As I live-tweeted at the time: “Raising the minimum wage is to job creation what eating Crisco out of the can is to weight loss.” A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage increases unemployment among low-skilled workers by 1 to 2 percent, according to economist David Neumark, director of the Center for Economics and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine. President Obama’s speech called for a nearly 25 percent increase. Even most liberals know the job-killing effects of a minimum wage. Otherwise, they’d propose an increase to $10 or $15 or $40 per hour. But it’s an easy way to make the poor think you care about them.
Rubio Responds. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gave the Republican response, and he got high marks from most conservatives. He got a little dry-mouthed in the middle of his speech, and had an awkward moment as he reached for an off-camera water-bottle, but he recovered quickly and carried on. He should be forgiven a case of the nerves, because the GOP has pushed him front-and-center as one of the “new faces” of the Republican Party. It’s a big responsibility, though Rubio isn’t running from the challenge. He’s already seen as a frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination. But after a new TIME magazine cover story dubbed him "The Republican Savior," even Rubio had enough. He tweeted on Feb. 7: "There is only one savior, and it is not me. #Jesus."
Grammy Aftermath. The ratings for the Grammys are in, and they are not a disaster. The Nielsen company said 28.1 million people saw the show on CBS on Sunday night. That’s down from last year’s 40-million, but last year’s show was extraordinary because of the death just a few days earlier of Whitney Houston. Last year’s Grammy show turned into a tribute to her. So setting that show aside as an anomaly, this year’s show had the second-largest audience since 1993. It may have helped that the program made a conscious effort to make the performances a bit more family friendly. CBS even sent out a dress code memo to attendees, telling them to make sure "buttocks and female breasts" were "adequately covered." The memo came in for some derision, but not from the show’s host, LL Cool J. "I don't think it's unfair to remind musicians that there's some families watching in the middle of the country and all around the world,” he said. "We're … talking about musicians, you gotta remember. They'll come here with a clear shower curtain on. We're not talking about normal people."
Gay Judge. The normalization of homosexuality continued this week with President Obama’s appointment of Todd Hughes to the U.S. Court of Appeals. If approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, he would be the first openly gay federal appeals court judge. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund website says the Obama administration "has appointed more than 250 openly LGBT professionals to full-time and advisory positions in the executive branch, more than all known LGBT appointments of other presidential administrations combined."