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HARSH TRUTHS

Ryan’s No Dog-Whistling Racist

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

When Congressman Paul Ryan talked about a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities…of men not working,” he was accused—wrongly, says our columnist—of racism. We must address difficult questions around race and poverty.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not racist nor did he blow a “dog whistle” to launch a thinly veiled racist attack against black people. I offer this from the perspective of someone who has known Paul for more than 20 years: there is not a racist bone in his body.Earlier this week, Ryan appeared on conservative talk show host William Bennett’s radio program to discuss his efforts to eradicate poverty in America.  In the course of his remarks the Chairman of the House Budget Committee blamed: “[A] tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work.

Fringe Factor

Ex- General’s Jewish Problem

Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post, via Getty

Jerry Boykin, a retired Lieutenant General and rightwinger, spouted anti-Semitic “jokes” and accused Obama of supporting al-Qaeda at a conservative Christian conference.

The Internet—or at least the part of the Internet that indulges in these types of things—is abuzz over outrageous and offensive comments made by the vice president of a very conservative Christian organization at a very conservative conference last week.According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s now-highly circulated report, Retired Lt. General and Family Research Council Vice President Jerry Boykin was caught on a “hot mic”—following a panel on “Benghazigate: The Ugly Truth and the Cover-up” at the National Security Action Summit—claiming that President Obama uses “subliminal messages” to communicate his support for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Funny Not Funny

Why the GOP Can’t Take a Joke

Fox

Conservatives’ inability to offer up a little LOL proves they’re still the same rigid right they’ve always been— and they’re afraid at being laughed at themselves.

“Tragic,” “Gross,” “Dreadful,” “Unbearable.”These were just a few of the words uttered in horror by conservatives on Tuesday. What caused them to collectively freak out? Comedy. Or, more specifically, President Obama appearing on the humorous Zach Galifianakis web series, “Between Two Ferns.” It’s truly mind boggling that something so funny could make so many on the right so angry. Republican Congressman Randy Weber tweeted: “Instead of wasting time with a parody interview, he should be focusing on finding answers re: #Benghazi.

Classy Gas

Fracking King’s Double-Cross

Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica

Thanks to a series of shady deals with former subsidiaries—and massive cuts in royalties to unsuspecting landowners—the controversial shale gas firm is now awash in cash.

At the end of 2011, Chesapeake Energy, one of the nation’s biggest oil and gas companies, was teetering on the brink of failure.Its legendary chief executive officer, Aubrey McClendon, was being pilloried for questionable deals, its stock price was getting hammered and the company needed to raise billions of dollars quickly.The money could be borrowed, but only on onerous terms. Chesapeake, which had burned money on a lavish steel-and-glass office complex in Oklahoma City even while the selling price for its gas plummeted, already had too much debt.

Sharks Circle Around Hillary

Mark Peterson/Redux

Dems are on the defensive again in response to allegations that a Clinton comrade was involved in questionable campaign funding. Oh yes, it's feeding time, aka ‘silly' season, again.

The political world is on tenterhooks waiting for Hillary Clinton, and when there’s even a hint of chum in the water, the sharks come circling.“Clinton’s Minyon In A Mess,” declared the Republican National Committee. “Another Scandal Emerges From Clinton Land.”Minyon refers to Minyon Moore, a longtime Democratic activist with ties to the Clintons, who also has alleged ties to Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who just ratted out Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray for allegedly asking him to fund an illegal shadow campaign to help elect Gray.

Backtracking

GOP Mum on Spying Investigation

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Senate Intel Committee's top Republican says investigators have yet to dig into the CIA’s alleged search of Senate computers.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on a warpath against the CIA over the agency’s alleged spying on her staffers. Her Republican counterpart? Not so much.In a short speech Wednesday on the Senate floor, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman and highest ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said committee investigators had yet to do forensics on the computers the CIA searched.

PAST GLORIES

Clinton’s Iowa Plan: Use Obama

Astrid Riecken/MCT, via Getty

The ‘Ready For Hillary’ group is wooing as many former active Obama supporters as possible in Iowa, and using a wealth of information generated more than six years ago to do so.

Ready For Hillary, the pro-Hillary Clinton PAC, appears to be using internal information from Barack Obama’s 2008 caucus campaign to organize in Iowa.Last week, Ready For Hillary tried to organize a presence in all 99 counties in advance of the Iowa Democratic Party’s county conventions. A field coordinator for the PAC sent an email to two former Obama interns in Iowa from 2007, asking them to volunteer. The twist is those ex-Obama interns never gave their email addresses to Ready for Hillary or any other pro-Clinton group, they say.

What Paul Ryan Gets Wrong

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

If there's deep poverty in our urban centers, it's not because of culture, it's because of racism and public policy.

It was late last year when Paul Ryan couldn’t stop talking about poverty. “I want to figure out a way for conservatives to come up with solutions to poverty,” he said, as reported in a Buzzfeed feature on his political evolution, “I have to do this.”Since then, he has announced his plan to take a “new direction in the war on poverty.” He has attacked Obamacare and other programs as “poverty traps”, endorsed proposals from other Republicans like Utah Senator Mike Lee and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and released a report (criticized as misleading) that outlines the problems with existing federal anti-poverty programs.

Red Light?

GOP Lines Up Against Ukraine Aid

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty

The Senate is moving forward with an aid and sanctions bill for Ukraine. Most Republicans are up in arms about it.

Republicans are lining up to oppose an emerging Senate bill that would fund the new Ukrainian government—and punish Russia for its invasion and occupation of Crimea. The partisan fight could mean weeks of delays before any American help reaches the new government in Kiev.Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up legislation to give aid to Ukraine and sanction Russia. The Daily Beast has obtained a copy of the bill, which was crafted primarily by committee heads Robert Menendez and Bob Corker.

HISTORY LESSON

Yes, Lincoln Would’ve Done ‘Ferns’

The Daily Beast

Bill O’Reilly attacked President Obama for making a viral video, saying the Great Emancipator wouldn’t stoop so low. History proves the opposite.

It was said with all the certainty that defines the Master of the Cable News Universe.“All I can tell is you is Abe Lincoln would not have done it,” Bill O’Reilly said Tuesday night.“It,” of course, was President Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns, the Zach Galifianakis-hosted Web show that streams on funnyordie.com. Obama had chosen the venue to urge younger viewers to sign up for heath-care coverage. (Without younger participants, the whole structure of the Affordable Care Act turns shaky at best.

Keep Calm

Fl Loss Shouldn’t Make Dems Panic

Newscom

While the defeat of Alex Sink in Florida’s special election Tuesday night may be embarrassing for Democrats, they shouldn’t panic and run away from the electoral benefits of Obamacare.

So here we go: Republicans—and, no doubt, the Koch Brothers—are crowing that David Jolly’s win over Alex Sink in the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District Tuesday proves that Obamacare is the death knell for Democrats this fall. Outside groups, led by the Kochs, pumped a few million into the district, largely hitting Sink over Obamacare, which she said needed to be improved although she still trumpeted its benefits for senior citizens.

MONEY TALKS

Can Rand Make it Rain?

The Daily Beast

Libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul has his fair share of supporters, but whether he can win over the big wig wolves of Wall Street remains to be seen.

He’s won the CPAC straw poll two years in a row. (Very) early primary polls put him leading among likely contenders in New Hampshire, Iowa and Ohio. And pundits are already calling him the 2016 front-runner.But as the 2016 election season looms, questions remain about whether or not Kentucky Senator Rand Paul can win over one key constituency: those mostly Manhattan moneymen and women who bankroll Republican presidential candidates.Interviews with over a dozen top GOP donors and people close to Paul say that he has been aggressively courting that crew, making several trips to New York for meetings with would-be presidential campaign contributors.

Wonder Woman

Bachmann on Gay Bullies and More!

The Daily Beast

Gays are bullying Americans, the congresswoman says. That's not even the wildest claim she's made in the last 12 months.

During last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Tea Party star Michele Bachmann accused the gay community of bullying the American people. In an interview with conservative radio host Lars Larson, the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota commented on Arizona's defunct SB 1062 bill, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay individuals on religious grounds, stating “There's nothing about gays in there.

Buh-Bye?

CIA Boss: Obama Can ‘Ask Me to Go’

Jason Reed/Reuters

Under a sudden avalanche of criticism, CIA director John Brennan said President Obama can ‘ask me to go.’ Will he?

The normally cool and calm director of the CIA, John Brennan, may have flinched Tuesday. After a scathing speech from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the committee that oversees his agency, Brennan largely defended the CIA from charges that it illegally spied on Senate staffers poring through documents related to the agency’s black site program.But the CIA chief also left open the prospect that he may have been wrong. “If I did something wrong,” Brennan said.

Facts

Why Protest ‘Stand Your Ground?’

Phil Sears/AP

The deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were tragic, but Florida’s controversial law wasn’t used in the defense of their alleged murderers.

Can we have an honest dialogue about race in America today?  One in which people who genuinely agree to disagree are not immediately branded as racists or bigots?  I’m going to try by looking at a “Stand Your Ground” march held Monday in Tallahassee, Florida led by Al Sharpton featuring the parents of slain teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.However one looks at the case of Martin, we can all agree that a young man tragically lost his life on a night when he shouldn’t have.

'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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