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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.

Haha

No Laughing Matter

Funny or Die

The Affordable Care Act depends on healthy young people signing up immediately. That’s why President Obama sat down with some ferns and Zach Galifianakis today.

Social media exploded Tuesday morning with people talking about President Obama’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’s web series Between Two Ferns. The response to the video on Twitter was overwhelmingly positive with people calling it: “hilarious, “great,” and “glorious.”   (Let’s be honest, if you aren’t a right-wing partisan hack, you had to find at least some of it funny.)  Some of the highlights included Galifianakis asking Obama, "What are we going to do about North Ikea" and inquiring as to whether Obama would build his presidential library in "Hawaii or in his home country of Kenya?”Of course, politics being the way it is, some on the right were outraged by the comedic video.

Education Fight

The Charter School Trap

Andrew Burton/Getty

It was his progressive agenda that got Bill de Blasio elected as mayor of New York, but going after successful charter schools may be a bridge too far even for many of his supporters.

For a man who rode into office on what seemed like a wave of popular support for his progressive political mandate, mayor Bill de Blasio is looking awfully alienated from New York voters these days. He’s spent the last week absorbing full-throated criticism from all sides for withdrawing three city agreements allowing public charter schools to operate in public school buildings.Predictably, the move infuriated public charter schools’ supporters.

Pox on Both Houses

Millennials Unfriend Democrats

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Republicans can’t win over the generation that’s liberal on most social and economic issues, but Democrats can’t seem to win them back.

The Republican Party’s struggles to win the votes of the Millennial generation are no secret, but Democrats shouldn’t break out the champagne: America’s youngest voting generation isn’t in love with either party. In both the 2008 and 2012 elections, young voters broke for President Obama by historic margins and carried their Democratic lean down-ballot. This big swing toward Democrats wasn’t just the product of young people always leaning more liberal but reflected a more monumental shift toward generational fault-lines in politics that would favor the left in the future.

Another Untrue O'care Horror Story

Health Care's Resistors and Adapters

You’ll recall that Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, in delivering one of the 17 GOP State of the Union responses, spoke of “Bette,” the Spokane woman whose premiums were going up under Obamacare by $700 a month. The state’s jackboot, according to McMorris-Rodgers, was planted right on Bette’s throat, and there was nothing she could do about it. Bette would “have no choice” but to pay the extra, socialistic freight. Awful, awful, awful.

Confessions of a Putin Spin Doctor

The Daily Beast

This publicist’s firm took millions from Russia to soften its image, but “we were utterly powerless to affect the way the Kremlin news machine works.”

Since 2006, Ketchum, a New York based public relations firm, has billed millions of dollars to the Kremlin to advise and assist Moscow with improving its image in the West. Now, when Russia’s reputation is at its lowest since the cold war, one former employee says the client is probably not getting its money’s worth.If you go to the website for Ketchum, the Kremlin’s top PR firm in America, you won’t find many clues that the public relations powerhouse represents one of the more loathed regimes on the planet these days.

CODE BLOOPER

D.C. Mayor's Dirty Money

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post, via Getty

After he denied receiving off-the-book funds from businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, court proceedings revealed D.C. mayor Vincent Gray’s use of a code name for these secret dealings that prove otherwise. But does it even matter? The money still took him—and his city—far.

D.C. businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson is under federal and local investigation for breaking a whole host of campaign finance laws, including funneling more than $2 million to various candidates over a six year period through third parties and off-the-record activities. In particular, Thompson gave large sums of money to Vincent Gray’s successful campaign to unseat Adrian Fenty in the 2010 D.C. mayoral election.Gray has long denied any involvement with Thompson, refuting any knowledge of the businessman’s “shadow campaign” and maintaining his innocence.

MAYDAY MAYDAY

De Blasio: Consultant or Leader?

Pool photo by Susan Watts

Just over two months in and Bill de Blasio’s approval ratings are sinking by the day, proving that running a good campaign doesn’t mean you’ve got the chops to properly run America’s biggest city.

Across New York City’s George Washington Bridge, a politician recently hailed as a “new national voice” has seen sky-high numbers crash with historic swiftness. Just a few months ago, Bloomberg News announced this politician was “planning to take his campaign….to an audience across the U.S.,” ready to assume a “national leadership” role in his party. Now his job approval has plunged to 39 and falling.Yes, Mayor Bill de Blasio is in real trouble.

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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