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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.

Testify

Greed Isn't a Religious Value

Jan Stromme/Getty

The Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court claims to be about defending business owners' religious values against Obamacare. Too bad those values doesn't extend to paying people a livable wage or sharing profits.

Aren’t we all so relieved that corporations have finally found religion?  After all, that’s the point of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases being heard in the Supreme Court this week, right?  The Affordable Care Act requires that all private, medium or large size corporations provide health insurance for their employees that covers all forms of contraception at no cost.  Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are trying to evade this requirement by creating a new category of faith—corporate religion.

U.S. Keeps Saudi’s Worst Secret

The Daily Beast

The most comprehensive study of Saudi textbooks ever commissioned by the U.S. government was completed at the end of 2012, but to this date the State Department has kept it from the public.

As President Obama prepares for his first visit of his second term to Saudi Arabia, pressure is mounting on the State Department to publish the most comprehensive U.S. government study of the Kingdom’s textbooks.While the study has been finished since the end of 2012, it has nonetheless been kept from the public, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a center-right think tank in Washington.  The report, shared with The Daily Beast ahead of publication Tuesday, says, “The State Department is in possession of a uniquely exhaustive set of recent findings about incitement in Saudi Arabia's education system, findings that it has declined to release for public consumption.

Betrayal

FiveThirtyHate?

Peter Dazeley/Getty

Data guru Nate Silver’s prediction that Republicans will take the Senate brought on the same sort of attacks the GOP made when he called 2012 for Obama.

It is one of the enduring images of Election Night 2012: Fox News’s Megyn Kelly getting up from the anchor desk and, at the behest of Karl Rove, walking down the halls of Fox’s studios, cameras in tow, to confront the network’s exit poll analysts about their decision to call Ohio for President Obama. Rove believed it was still too close to call, while Fox’s Decision Desk team of data crunchers were certain that what they had seen had convinced them it was curtains for Team Romney.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Why We Can’t Quit Bush and Clinton

What’s in a name, you ask? Proof that a 2016 presidential campaign in which two family dynasties face off once again may be one for the history books.

It seems almost un-American to double down on the Clinton and Bush dynasties that ran the country for a generation. But looking ahead to 2016, Hillary Clinton is her party’s most likely nominee and Jeb Bush is his party’s most credible nominee should they decide to run. An appearance by both unannounced contenders at an education summit in Dallas on Monday fueled speculation about what a high-minded campaign they might wage, being policy wonks and all, and having breathed the same rarefied air of the presidency as spouse in Clinton’s case and brother and son in Bush’s case.

Against the Rules

Mixin’ Money = Mo’ Problems

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Rep. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers remains under investigation for combining various funds and resources, along with other campaign-running no-no’s.

The House Ethics committee announced on Monday that it would continue its review of high-ranking Washington State Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.“[T]here is substantial reason to believe that Representative McMorris Rodgers used congressional funds, staff and office space for campaign activities,” The Office of Congressional Ethics wrote in its report.The inquiry into McMorris Rodgers focuses on her campaign for the office of Republican Conference Chair, the fourth-highest ranking position in the Republican leadership.

Scott Brown (R-Whatever)

Jim Cole/AP

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s comeback bid in New Hampshire is off to a rocky start.

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is just one week into his latest Senate campaign--this time in New Hampshire--and his foot has already found its way into his mouth.Outside the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, Brown asked a rhetorical question to the Associated Press, "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I do have strong ties to this state."This would be perplexingly nonchalant remark from any candidate for the U.

Drowning

Jersey Dem: GOP Right on Sandy Aid

Tim Larsen/New Jersey Governor's Office/Reuters

In 2012, the House GOP caucus torpedoed federal help for the storm because they said it would be mismanaged. The congressman says Chris Christie proved them right.

New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone said Republicans in Washington may have been right to vote against federal aid for Hurricane Sandy relief in late 2012 because they worried the money would be mishandled.Representative Pallone called the Christie administration’s handling of federal relief “disturbing” outside of a union hall in Wall Township, New Jersey Sunday. Pallone was there with Senator Cory booker to accept his nomination for a fourteenth term in Congress from Monmouth County Democrats.

Conundrum

Racial Support for a Race Ban

Justin Sullivan/Getty

California law prohibits using ethnicity in decisions regarding public education. Democrats want to change that, but Asian-Americans are afraid it will hurt them.

Fewer issues inflame political passions in my home state of California than affirmative action. Since Proposition 209 was adopted in 1996, the state has been prohibited in using an individual’s race, sex or ethnicity in public education, contracting, and employment decisions.Depending on your point of view, this was either emancipation from state-sponsored discrimination based on race, or a return to the days when qualified minority and women candidates were excluded from consideration.

Who Run This Mother?

Warren Buffett’s Rigged Bracket

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Billionaires like Warren Buffett are obsessed with helping the bottom rung of society—but only because they’re so rich and powerful it won’t threaten their control of the economy.

It’s official: there are no winners in Warren Buffett’s one-man NCAA lottery. Faster than you can say Duke, the avuncular billionaire is off the hook to pay out a cool billion dollars to whomever filled out a perfect bracket.The joke is on us—but like many Americans, USA Today’s Nina Mandell misses the punchline: Buffett even insured his wager, she notes, avoiding any need to put his own money where his mouth is. Even “more importantly, he captured a bit of what March Madness was about: the ability to think anything can happen.

Beware of ‘Downton’ Dems

Richard Clement/Reuters

When it comes to green gentry liberalism, think of an Americanized version of the PBS hit—where everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best.

Last week was a good week for natural gas, but a bad one for green gentry liberalism.   John Podesta, a veteran of the Clinton White House who is once again a presidential adviser, tried to explain some energy facts of life to the true-believing liberal base. Still, it’s unclear if Podesta’s intended audience was listening, and that willful blindness may cost the Democrats control of the Senate.Podesta warned that opposition to natural gas is impractical and not grounded in reality.

'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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