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Most Painful Political Debate Ever

Aram Boghosian/Boston Globe, via Getty

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman passed a kidney stone during a debate Tuesday.

Political debates can be painful. If you're Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman, a Democratic candidate for governor, they can be really painful…like kidney stone painful.  The former DNC chair and first-term state treasurer awoke in agony at 3:45 am on Tuesday morning to discover that he was passing a kidney stone, which is a chronic condition for the gubernatorial hopeful. Nevertheless, Grossman carried on with his day, and on Tuesday evening, made his way to the Boston Public Library to debate seven other gubernatorial candidates on issues concerning the LGBTQ community.

Futurecast

Nate Silver or Not, GOP Looks Good

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

The tempest over his projection that Republicans will take the Senate forgets probability isn’t prediction and that the White House party usually loses in its sixth year.

When Chicago White Sox star Shoeless Joe Jackson was accused of helping to throw the 1919 World Series, legend has it that a teary-eyed youngster confronted him, pleading, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”I would not be at all surprised if, sometime in the next few days, a teary-eyed Democratic campaign operative confronts FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver on a Washington street, pleading: “say it ain’t, Nate!”The seer of the 2012 campaign, whose “I Got Algorithm” approach proved a far more reliable guide to the outcome than the emanations, visions, and psychic insights of his detractors, was a constant source of comfort to Democrats, reassuring them that even the worst blows to the Obama campaign—most notably the self-inflicted wound of the first debate—had not changed the president’s fundamental advantage.

Sunlight

The GOP War on Transparency

Harrison Eastwood/Getty

Several in the GOP want to stop a request for scientists to disclose financial conflicts in their research. What good reason could they possibly have?

A growing rift in the Republican Party about transparency has deepened within the Senate, with 16 Republicans now scolding a federal agency for the outrage of requesting that scientists submitting studies in a rule-making procedure identify any financial conflicts of interest. But to see just how crazy this scolding is, we need some background.In 2008, the Supreme Court heard a case reviewing a punitive damages award against Exxon, following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Early Retirement

Is McConnell Trying to Lose?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Kentucky’s smartest politician made amateur mistakes this month (like using Duke in a campaign ad), and he could lose to a Democratic upstart come November.

It’s not easy to overestimate Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s most fearsome politician, but I did.Nearly a year ago, I lambasted  Kentucky Democratic operatives who elbowed out actress Ashley Judd in her unconsummated challenge of Senator Mitch McConnell, in favor of the young, lightly tested Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.My rationale was I never thought Grimes would run.  I’d been in her shoes in 2002, when as a thirty-something, recently elected state treasurer, I didn’t hesitate to reject suggestions that I risk my nascent political career by taking on the most brutally effective political tactician in modern Kentucky political history.

Listening In

Putin's Latest Dirty Trick

AFP/Getty

The same government that gives asylum to NSA outlaw Edward Snowden is intercepting and leaking the private phone calls of its adversaries.

In the last seven weeks, intercepted phone conversations between Western and Ukrainian officials have mysteriously surfaced on the Internet. U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast these phone recordings are part of a deliberate Russian strategy to collect and publicize the private conversations of their adversaries. It started in the first week of February. As Ukraine’s political elites were scrambling to form a new government, a recording of a cellphone call emerged between Victoria Nuland, the U.

Twisted

Obama Rage Costs Ukraine Billions

AFP/Getty

Agreeing to IMF reforms would have helped him. So now Republicans’ mission to weaken the president is spilling over into foreign policy, too.

You know those people who carry on all the time about how the United States looks weak to the world, and how we have to do everything we possibly can to help poor Ukraine stand up to the evil Vladimir Putin? Well, guess what they just did? They just made the United States look weak to the world—and they actually just reduced (yes, reduced) the amount of global aid that can flow to Ukraine to help it stand up to the evil Vladimir Putin.The deal was this: The Obama administration’s aid package to Ukraine placed before the Senate included some long-sought International Monetary Fund reforms.

Testing the Waters

Friends (of Hillary) With Benefits

Samantha Sais/Reuters

The political operation that had been aimed at 2016 is now about to get a test drive, enlisting its 2 million supporters to help the candidates that Clinton endorses for this November.

For six years, Hillary Clinton has toiled in the shadow of Barack Obama. He was the electric young upstart who upended her inevitable path to the White House in Iowa. He was the president, she the Secretary of State. Now he faces global crises, while she travels the globe addressing groups like the American Society of Travel Agents and the National Automobile Dealers Association. But that dynamic is likely to flip in the coming months as the midterm election season gets underway.

Women’s History Month

Janet Yellen, Trailblazer

Alex Wong/Getty

She made it to the top in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men. Nancy Pelosi, Christine Lagarde and members of Congress honored the Federal Reserve’s first female chief.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi marked Women’s History Month at the Capitol Tuesday with a rousing reception honoring Janet Yellen, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve and the first woman to hold the powerful post. Among those paying tribute to Yellen was her counterpart on the world stage, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Playing off the adage “perfect to a T,” Lagarde strung together a variety of Ts—talent, toughness, tenacity—and most important what she described as Yellen’s touch.

Cloudy Forecast

Poll: Pot Could Sway Midterms

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Battleground pollsters report Democrats and Republicans are ‘universally despised’—but marijuana referendums might boost voter turnout in November.

Countering a wave of speculation that Republicans will make big gains in November, GOP pollster Ed Goeas cautions that the midterm elections still have the potential to be “highly competitive,” an assessment echoed by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who says both political parties are “universally despised” by the voters. “If we do our job right, it could be more of an anti-incumbent year,” rather than an anti-Democratic year, she told reporters as she and Goeas released their latest Battleground poll (PDF) on the state of the two parties as they jockey for position heading into the midterm elections.

Pull Out

SCOTUS Loves Hobby Lobby Holy War

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Oral arguments make it sound like the government’s mandate to make businesses cover birth control under insurance plans will die for the sake of “religious freedom.”

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases Tuesday, in which two companies have challenged the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that contraception be included in insurance plans.  It’s a high stakes battle, in part because of Obamacare, but in part because of a much wider “religious liberty” movement that is attempting to carve out religious exemptions to civil rights laws.  Hobby Lobby is the slightly less obvious cousin of Arizona’s “Turn the Gays Away” bill: same logic, same proponents, and same potentially devastating effects.

Spy Games

Best NSA Fix Isn’t Obama’s

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The White House would stop NSA’s phone dragnet, but leave the power behind it intact. An unlikely Republican’s bill does better.

Take a victory lap, Edward Snowden. Last summer, the White House and congressional intelligence committee leadership were unified in their insistence that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American telephone records was an essential intelligence resource that had prevented scores of terrorist attacks. As spring dawns—with those claims shredded by two expert panels—the only disagreement is over precisely how to end the controversial NSA program, with three main proposals now vying for legislative support.

Cash Flow

Kochs Invade a Tiny Wisconsin Town

Royalbroil/Wikimedia Commons

A mining town of 6,000 people isn’t too small for billionaires to mess with to get their way. Inside the race bringing in big money.

It has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. Politically connected billionaires target a local election to secure victory for candidates supportive of a proposed billion dollar-mining venture.  Their only obstacle is an underfunded, ragtag group of locals who want to preserve the environment. Who will win?This isn’t a movie, however, it’s actually happening in Iron County, Wisconsin ‘s April 1 County Board of Supervisors election.   This sleepy part of Northern Wisconsin, home to about 6,000 people, is described as “a place of incredible natural beauty” with “300 pristine lakes,” waterfalls, and “500 miles of great snowmobile trails.

Doh!

Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Know Duke

Alex Wong/Getty

Mitch McConnell is out with a new ad, celebrating America and denouncing socialism and highlighting the variouis glorious aspects of Kentucky life and heritage. Quick images flash by: A young Cassius Clay showing off his gold medal (a man McConnell surely came to despise in the 1960s). A thoroughbred horse stampeding across the Churchill Downs turn. A Louisville hoopster slamming one home. And two UK Wildcats embracing as they win what was evidently a big game, cuz there are streamers in the background.

Paul Broun Is Busy Saving America

David Goldman/AP

Is Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun the Todd Akin of 2014 or is he the “We the People” candidate for U.S. Senate?

It took 11 phone calls, four emails, one text and six hours of driving to get an interview with Paul Broun.  But once I finally caught up with him, he told me he has a theory about why the other four Republicans in the race to succeed Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss say he can’t win in the statewide general election in November.“They all want to be me.  They do!” he told me during an interview in Greensboro, Georgia.  “What everybody else says they will do, I’ve already been doing.

Tough Woman

Why Pelosi is Not the Problem

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Republicans turned the Democrats’ leader in the House into the prime reason to keep a Florida district in GOP hands. No wonder they fear her: she’s as responsible for liberal success in Washington as President Obama has been.

As the dust settled after the low turnout special election that saw a normally Republican district narrowly send a Republican to Congress, the National Journal credulously reported the claims of GOP strategists to a "first of its kind" database they called "Honeybadger." What a felicitous choice of words: was it a coincidence that the Democratic opponent was a woman?So was the real target of this GOP "breakthrough," which itself was explained only in vague and formulaic terms.

'Clinton Vs. Bush? Count Me In'

A Hillary Clinton-Jeb Bush presidential faceoff would be great for America. So says Daily Beast contributor Mark McKinnon, who joined 'Morning Joe' to explain why the U.S. needs this.

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