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Bridgegate

Christie, Not Quite Dead Yet

Politically, this new report “clearing” Chris Christie is anticlimactic and largely irrelevant. I put the irony quotes around clearing because, well, what did you expect a report commissioned by Christie and conducted by a long-time aide to alpha dog Christie defender Rudy Giuliani (I refer to Randy Mastro) to conclude? That Christie should be indicted?So that’s what makes it largely irrelevant. The feds are investigating, and theirs is the investigation that matters.

Skewed

Team Christie Clears Christie

Kena Betancur/Getty

The governor’s internal investigation tries to discredit his critics and didn’t bother speaking to the scandal’s most important players.

Chris Christie’s investigation of Chris Christie has found that Chris Christie did nothing wrong, says Chris Christie’s attorney.On the 46th floor of the MetLife building in New York City, Randy Mastro, an attorney hired by New Jersey’s governor to investigate his administration’s involvement in Bridgegate—at the cost of $1 million to New Jersey taxpayers—briefed the press on the results of that investigation.“This is a vindication of Governor Christie,” Mastro said.

Roman Holiday

Obama's Roman Holiday

Pool photo by Gabriel Bouys

The American president’s stopover in Rome blended humanitarian themes, elite tourism, and general confusion.

ROME, Italy—“Blindatissimi” is not a word Romans particularly like.  Especially when it is raining. It means “armored to the maximum” which is exactly what’s required of the 26-plus cars in a motorcade carrying the president of the United States through Rome’s narrow, cobbled streets.  But it does inspire some of the Romans’ favorite words, like “Mamma Mia!” and “Che palle,” which, loosely translated, means “that sucks.”But if there’s a city left in the world where people still get really excited about an Obama visit, this is it.

Inside Story

Obama To Tame the NSA

AFP/Getty

The president’s metadata plans will curb the NSA’s ability to infringe on civil liberties and still allow intelligence agencies to track the terrorists.

President Obama announced this morning that he will propose legislation calling for significant changes in the NSA’s telephone metadata program. This is good news, indeed.The enactment of these proposals would strike a much better balance between the interests of liberty and security. They would preserve the value of the NSA’s program in terms of protecting the national security, while at the same time providing much greater, and much needed, protection to individual privacy and civil liberties.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Rand Paul is ‘Divergent’

The Daily Beast

There’s a sad rush to dismiss pols like Rand Paul who don’t fit neatly into America’s increasingly unpopular political factions. But could divergence from the status quo be the future?

It turns out that Divergent isn’t just the top movie in America. It’s also playing out in the run-up to the 2016 presidential race, with Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, in the starring role.Based on the first volume of a wildly popular young-adult trilogy, Divergent is set in America of the near-future, when all people are irrevocably slotted into one of five “factions” based on temperament and personality type. Those who refuse to go along with the program are marked as divergent—and marked for death! “What Makes You Different, Makes You Dangerous,” reads one of the story’s taglines.

THE MONEY MAN

Adelson Courts Jeb in Sin City

AFP/Getty

At this week’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference, all eyes will be on Vegas mega-donor—and his very deep pockets.

Thursday’s conference at The Venetian in Vegas is technically called the “Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting,” but the GOP presidential hopefuls on the guest list know it’s really Sheldon Adelson’s party.The Las Vegas Sands Inc. chairman and GOP mega-donor is a member of the group’s board of directors.The four-day affair begins with a VIP dinner at Adelson’s private hangar at McCarran Airport with featured speaker former Florida Gov.

Immigration Activists Blast Obama

Teodoro Aguiluz

With no reform made since his initial promises in 2008 and everyone placing blame, the Latino vote—for both Blue and Red—will continue to be questionable come 2016.

For the last half decade, the simple formulation of immigration advocates pushing for reform had been simple: Democrats Good. Republicans Bad.But as efforts of reform continue to stall, advocates are turning up the heat, and hoping that Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House feel the burn as well.“Yes, Republicans have a tarnished brand that could haunt them for a generation, but Democrats have to fight the perception that they are all promise and no deliverance,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-reform group and someone who has met with the president and senior White House officials to discuss a path forward.

TERMINOLOGY

What Is ‘Natural Marriage?’

Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis

When a group like the Family Research Council is losing a debate there's only one thing left to do: change the terms.

Today’s Politics 101 pop quiz: In the course of a fierce ideological battle, when it becomes clear that one side is getting its butt kicked, what are leaders of the losing team expected to do? A. Double down. B. Scare the crap out of their followers. C. Beg for money. D. All of the above.No one really needs help with this one, do they?So with public acceptance of gay marriage growing faster than Justin Bieber’s rap sheet, the culture warriors at the Family Research Council have been hawking their National Campaign in Defense of Natural Marriage.

Tough Luck

Obama’s Human Rights Chief M.I.A.

Mark Tenally/Getty

The Senate was set to confirm a new leader for the State Department’s human rights agenda. But at the last minute, Obama’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia cut in—just in time for Obama’s trip to meet the Saudi King.

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry made calls to senators urging them to confirm the State Department’s top human rights official; he thought the Senate leadership was on board. But suddenly, the White House stepped in and bumped the human rights nominee in favor of Joseph William Westphal, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, only days before President Obama is set to visit the country to repair a damaged relationship.Westphal was confirmed Wednesday night.

Passing

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.

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.

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.

'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.

  1. President Obama, Guided by Faith Play

    President Obama, Guided by Faith

  2. Behind the Benghazi Witchhunt Play

    Behind the Benghazi Witchhunt

  3. Obamacare's Full Court Press Play

    Obamacare's Full Court Press

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The Pols Who Praise Slavery

The Pols Who Praise Slavery

Rogue rancher Cliven Bundy recently shared his thoughts on African Americans and whether or not they were better off as slaves. While Bundy can, and probably should, be dismissed as fringe nonsense, he is hardly alone.

Bad Match

It’s Not Racist to Oppose Gay Marriage

JUST SAY IT IS SO

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