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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.

Hip Hop No Way

Disregard Rand Paul Hipster Hype

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The likely GOP presidential candidate has anti-surveillance state libertarianism in common with Millennials. But that's about all.

I don’t know how many Berkeleyites Rand Paul really and truly impressed last week with his visit there. If he’s the GOP nominee in 2016 and ends up with more than 23 percent of the vote in Alameda County (Mitt Romney notched 18 percent), I’ll eat my copy of The Post-Modern Aura in Moe’s bookstore window.But it’s clear that he charmed a different group, the one that might in fact have been the real target audience of the visit: The Washington media taste-makers and “thinkfluencers” loved it.

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.

Fringe Factor

Nutty Rep Wants AIDS Quarantine

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A Wyoming legislator stands by his ‘80s book for an HIV sequester, a My Little Pony fan faces a ban, and gays are to blame for autism and tornadoes.

A Wyoming legislator stands by a book he wrote in the ‘80s calling for people with HIV/AIDS to be quarantined. A senator in South Dakota wants to legalize race-based discrimination, and a 9-year-old in North Carolina is banned from bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school.
Rep. Stands by Call for AIDS Quarantine 
In 1987, the newest member of Wyoming’s state legislature wrote a book called The Death Sentence of AIDS, in which he blamed the AIDS epidemic on “homosexual terrorism” and argued that people with the virus should be quarantined.

Hobby Lobby

Religious Freedom Goes Too Far

Mark Wilson/Getty

Religious conservatives are moving to build protection for discrimination into the law. If the Supreme Court lets them, we could end up with a country that can’t be governed.

On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments from Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, whose CEO objects—on religious grounds—to funding certain types of contraception under the Affordable Care Act. If the Supreme Court makes good on presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s statement that “corporations are people too,” investing them with “freedom of religion,” there will be no end to such claims in the courts.

DECISION TIME

Prez or Senator? Pick One, Rand

Alex Wong/Getty

Unless Kentucky changes its law, he’ll have to choose between destiny and safety.

Currently the Republican Party has a crowded bench of 2016 presidential hopefuls.They include: 2012 left-over Rick Santorum; the “I may run but please disregard my last name,” Jeb Bush; the Republican in the Senate most hated by other Senate Republicans, Ted Cruz; Chris Christie who is busy “bridging” his credibility gap; “I’d rather be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee than president,” Paul Ryan; “You loved me once but will you ever love me again?” Marco Rubio; finally, newly crowned front-runner Rand Paul.

Guns

Sinking of the Surgeon General

Charles Dharapak/AP

It’s about guns, it’s about the midterms, and maybe it’s about the first primary states in 2016, too.

Democrats thought they would win confirmation for more of President Obama’s nominees by waiving the 60-vote filibuster hurdle for executive branch appointments, but they didn’t factor in nervous red-state senators afraid of taking tough votes that could sink their reelection in November.The latest apparent casualty is Vivek Murthy, a 30-something British-born American doctor, whose parents are from India, and whose Ivy League credentials and activism on public-health issues includes co-founding Doctors for America, which launched in 2008 as Doctors for Obama.

The Nine

Can Corporations Believe in God?

The Daily Beast

The Supreme Court will decide whether corporate personhood, a dubious idea they’ve already affirmed, means business can deny birth control coverage on the grounds of “religious freedom.”

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that may alter the scope of the First Amendment.  Against the backdrop of Arizona’s defunct “Turn the Gays Away” law and others like it, the Court will decide whether corporations have religious beliefs, and whether those beliefs can affect the rights of other people.The case—actually the consolidated cases of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius—is also another referendum on Obamacare.

Groundwork

The Weirdest Pro-Hillary Party Yet

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

There were $18 pantsuit-themed cocktails and a soft, early sell to the diehards—for a non-candidate who wasn’t actually in attendance.

The views from the Top of the Standard, the penthouse bar at the $300-a-night hotel that straddles the High Line on the west side of Manhattan, are, in a word, spectacular. On one side, the Hudson River floats by before the New Jersey hills; on the other the New York City skyline stretches east, lit by the first orange fires of a setting sun.It was what a middle-aged couple at the bar said they had come for early Thursday evening, as they sipped $14 Japanese ales and munched on dried seaweed snacks.

Awkward

Russia’s Next Prez Banned From US?

Mikhail Metzel/AFP/Getty

The U.S. sanctions against Russian officials announced this week could have long-ranging effects for years to come, especially if sanctioned official Sergey Ivanov succeeds Vladimir Putin as the next leader of the Russian Federation.

The Obama administration made a deliberate effort to avoid economically punishing President Vladimir Putin directly, But they may have accidentally sanctioned Putin’s successor, Sergey Ivanov, the current chief of staff of the presidential administration.“It is a highly unusual and rather extraordinary case for the United States to sanction a head of state of another country,” a senior administration official said when explaining the asset freezes and visa bans the United States has imposed on 31 Russian and Ukrainian leaders and one Russian bank.

Red vs. Red

Nebraska’s GOP Cage Match

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Four strong Republicans go into one primary, with zero difference in ideology. Can any of them break out to grab the Cornhusker State’s open Senate seat?

In Nebraska, major Tea Party groups are facing off against each other in a Republican Senate primary that features four competitive candidates. But what are the ideological differences in this race?Pretty much nothing, actually.None of the candidates, including the two with support from national Tea Party groups, Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse, really vary in their beliefs. Instead, this has become a race driven entirely by personality with few policy differences among the four candidates.

Calling Foul

Liberals’ College Hoops Pity Party

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty

Think top college programs are just using up poor, helpless athletes then tossing them aside? One graduation statistic slaps away that argument.

One of the silliest arguments I’ve heard in recent years is this idea that college athletics represents some kind of indentured servitude. According to the website of the College Board, the average four-year cost at an in-state public school is about $74,000 in education, housing, and meals. For an out-of-state student at a public school, it’s a little north of $120,000. And at Duke and Stanford and all the other private institutions, the price tag averages $164,000.

$430 Million Per Hour Government

The Daily Beast

A week’s worth of “work” in D.C. is almost as dispiriting to watch as Vlad’s grab of Crimea.

Our Busy Government at Work…The 2014 federal budget is $3.77 trillion.  There are 8,765 hours in a year.  The federal government works 24/7—for $430,119,795 an hour. Well above proposed new minimum wage.  What’s government doing for the money?The Department of the Interior Is Lifting the Ban Against BP Bidding on New Gulf of Mexico Off-Shore Drilling Sites…Because BP did such a good job at its old site.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Is Giving Helpful Espionage Hints…According to The Wall Street Journal a study by FERC concludes, “The U.

Obamacare's 2014 Midterm Effect

Are Democrats in trouble in the upcoming midterm elections? Yes, says The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky, but not because of the Affordable Care Act.

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