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Pro-Pot Lesbian for Governor

Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post, via Getty

Heather Mizeur, a two-term Maryland delegate, is running for governor in an attempt to make the safely Democratic state a laboratory of liberalism.

There’s no such thing as a Maryland liberal. Terms like “California liberal” or “Massachusetts liberal” are well known (and, depending on whom you ask, pejorative) terms in the American political lexicon. But “Maryland liberal”? Not so much. It sounds clunky and sort of hilarious. This could all change if Maryland decides to veer left and elect Heather Mizeur, a wonky, pro-pot married lesbian, as governor.Heather Mizeur has just finished explaining everything, seemingly every public policy issue, in exacting detail to a group of surprisingly still-awake seniors and stray nearby supporters at the Springwell Senior Living Community in Baltimore City.

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.

No, Seriously

GOP’s Comedy Gap

Joe Mitchell/Reuters

Republican joke-writers were shocked by Ted Cruz’s smoothly comedic performance at the Gridiron Club this weekend. And yes, there is such a thing as Republican joke-writers.

Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz had the most to lose appearing before the elite group of journalists known as the Gridiron Club Saturday night. But he gamely appeared in the required dress of white tie and tails, and truth is he didn’t look all that uncomfortable. He joked about how his anti-media speech had gone over so well the previous day at CPAC, the annual gathering of conservatives, and how he made sure to hightail it out of there before they learned about his plans for the following evening.

HOT SEAT

De Blasio Enters the Lions Den

MSNBC

New York’s mayor was pummeled on everything from his plans to evict charter schools to the city’s snowstorms.

Morning Joe’s witty, highly caffeinated brand of repartee has made it a must-watch for the New York to Beltway political and media elite but it has never been mistaken for a lion’s den.Yet New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio found himself besieged on all sides at the roundtable Monday morning as the hosts questioned him sharply on everything from his plans to tax the rich for universal pre-kindergarten, to his apparent hostility towards charters school, to even the run of snow storms that have hammered Gotham.

VOTER’S CHOICE

GOP’s Whack a Mole Addiction

The Daily Beast

For the first time in decades, there’s no clear GOP candidate to compete against Clinton in the race for the White House. Who will it be, folks? Batter up and whack-a-mole.

While the Republican presidential contenders were kumbaya-ing at CPAC, evidence continued to mount over which of them gets to suffer the embarrassment of winning 180 electoral votes. A USA Today poll found that 59 percent of respondents said they will or might vote for Clinton. It showed enormous improvements in personal qualities (Is she likeable? Is she honest?, etc.) since the first time she ran for president. Respondents even thought that she was six years younger than she actually is!What the CPAC goings on tell us, combined with a burst of polls showing Clinton wiping out Chris Christie and just mopping the floor with Jeb Bush, is that as they face 2016, the Republicans are in a situation that has almost no precedent in the party’s modern history.

SWEET 2016

GOP '16: Strong Field, No Leader

AFP/Getty

Without an obvious frontrunner to represent Republicans against Hilary in 2016, one thing is guaranteed: It’s going to be an entertaining race.

Contrary to conventional media wisdom, this week’s CPAC proved Republicans are likely going to put a formidable team on the presidential field in 2016—and they’ll have at least one advantage going into the election: Their primaries are going to be much more interesting, dramatic and entertaining than the Democratic primaries. This means Republicans are going to soak up a whole lot of press coverage and attention while the media and voters largely tune-out what is likely to be a foregone conclusion on the Democratic side.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

Demographics Or Destiny in 2016

Landov

Cultural divides, from demographics to religion, will contribute to widening the gap between party lines.

Millennials are embracing big government like no prior generation, the United States is moving away from organized religion, and older white evangelicals are yearning for yesteryear. The country grows more diverse, more tribal, and more embattled.  So, prepare for continued cultural warfare in the guise of political gridlock.Faced with these changes, Democrats have aligned their rhetoric with emerging reality, while Republicans have generally clung to their vision of Arcadia—and have lost five of the last six presidential elections in the process.

How Ike Dealt With the Russians

The Daily Beast

Like Ike before him, Obama’s non-moves against Russia are the right moves.

A regime in thrall to Moscow is forced out by a popular uprising; the Kremlin promises not to intervene, and even announces a troop withdrawal. Within days, Russian forces stealthily begin to move in, then pour across the border. A whole swath of territory is reincorporated into what Ronald Reagan called "the evil empire."The place was Hungary; the year was 1956; the American president was Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed "shock and dismay" at the Soviet invasion, but refused an armed American response.

Booted

It’s Time to Shrink the Army

Scott Olson/Getty

The crisis in Crimea shows that even the strongest U.S. land forces wouldn’t provide a military option for the President. It’s time to shrink the Army.

It was not surprising that the mass media response to the 2015 defense budget was that it would result in “the smallest Army since before World War II.” It would have been a shock had anyone continued: “and it’s a good thing.” But it is—and Russia’s current actions in the Crimea do not change that fact.Reversing the early-2000s growth in land forces is a start on what has to be a 20-year effort to forge a military that’s actually relevant for the future.

Twist of Faith

10 Religious Surprises in Congress

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

A Modern Orthodox Jew, a Buddhist and a Quaker walk into…the Capitol? No joke, the US Congress is filled with a host of representatives from all types of religions.

If you let national approval ratings tell the story, the 113th Congress is known for being divided, do-nothing and often just plain dismal. But did you know that this is also the most religiously diverse Congress in American history? There are plenty of faithful surprises in the House and Senate. Here are 10.1. When you think of Mormons in politics you generally think of...Utah. And Republicans. And of course, Mitt Romney. But did you know that the most powerful Mormon in Congress today is not from Utah at all? In fact, he’s not even a Republican, and also wasn't a huge fan of ol' Mitt!  That's right folks: To the surprise of many, the most powerful Mormon in Congress is Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Outspoken

Julian Assange Invades SXSW

The WikiLeaks founder participated in a glitch-filled—but candid—live video chat from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as part of the South By Southwest tech fest.

Introduced as “a trailblazer who has led the fight against censorship,” the White Stallion of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, was beamed into a packed hall of journalists and concerned citizens from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been staying in asylum from an extradition order for over a year, for a Skype chat with Benjamin Palmer of The Barbarian Group, an interactive marketing firm based in Boston.And the dapper Assange, who’s been in exile for 650 days, had some harsh words for President Obama on the National Security Agency revelations brought forth by Edward Snowden.

Takeover

CPAC Shifts to the Libertarians

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

As hangovers cleared, on panels and in booths, Day 2’s momentum drained away from the GOP’s aging “values” peddlers—in favor of the young, energetic followers of Rand Paul.

Day 2 of CPAC got rolling with a more subdued crowd than Day 1. Not because folk weren’t having fun. Quite the opposite: More than a few attendees clearly had stayed up too late having too much fun Thursday night. Throughout the convention center, you heard people asking variations on the questions: “So what time did you get to bed?” In the downstairs exhibit hall, attendees of all ages slumped on the white sofas like bleary-eyed rag dolls. Standing in line at the hotel’s sundries shop, one young Citadel cadet groaned to his buddies: “I’m hung over harder than I deserve.

Zero Dark Data

What's in CIA's 'Black Site' File?

Getty

The CIA and the Senators overseeing the agency are nearly at war. And it all revolves around the contents of a secret database documenting the CIA's clandestine prisons.

At the center of CIA director John Brennan’s first major clash with the Senate is a massive database containing millions of pages of secrets about the agency's "black site" prison networks and what the CIA euphemistically labeled “enhanced interrogation.” The rest of the world called it torture. The CIA created the database in 2009 so that staffers from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could review the documents at an agency facility as it prepared its own report ontorture.

Same Old Song

CPAC’s Weak ‘Minority Outreach’

Shawn Thew/EPA, Landov

For all the urgency in the 2012 post-mortem’s directive to reach out to minority voters, the GOP’s vanguard still isn’t offering them anything new—not that anyone’s listening anyway.

Here is a short list of the things and people present at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference: Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, a panel on the world after Obamacare ends medicine, a session on the global-warming “hoax.” Star Wars cosplayers. A large gaggle of stressed, frustrated journalists. Awkward teenage boys in the Beltway uniform of triple-pleated khakis, oversize blue blazers, and unusually wide ties.But with all the people and conversations and exhibitions and presentations—which ran the gamut of conservative concerns and characters—there was one thing missing: a meaningful effort at minority outreach.

Props to Hillary

Hillary's Right on Putin & Hitler

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Calm down, everybody. Clinton's Hitler analogy was accurate—and it's hilarious to watch Republicans trying to use it to dent her foreign policy credentials.

I, for one, was sorry to see Hillary Clinton clarify her remarks comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. Yes, I know the rule. No Hitler analogies. No mentions of his name period. I know the rule, but I don’t like the rule. I think in some ways we need more Hitler analogies, because when political figures around the world do things like some of the things Adolf Hitler did, we ought to be able to say, for the sake of historical accuracy and for the sake of issuing warnings that will get people’s attention, “This is like that thing Hitler did.

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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