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Inside a Media Purge

HBO/Everett Collection

New Jersey’s biggest paper gets gutted—right when local reporters are most needed in Newark and Trenton.

Outside The Star-Ledger’s offices in Newark, N.J., on Thursday afternoon, a man in his late fifties took a drag of his cigarette. Asked if he worked at the paper, he sighed, “I’ll find out in about 15 minutes if I still do.” He turned to stare out at the street. “Get out of this fucking business while you can.”He disappeared into the building."Are you here to pick our carcasses?” another reporter outside the building asked me.Thursday morning, The Star-Ledger announced “in a grim day of reckoning” that it was cutting 167 jobs, including 40 members (25 percent) of its already-downsized 156-person newsroom staff.

Under Siege

Congress’ Two-Front War With CIA

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

One thing both sides should agree on: America’s chief spy agency needs far more rigorous oversight.

There is a battle raging between Congress and the CIA this week. Intelligence oversight committees are accusing the spy bureaucracy of lying. The problem for the two panels is that these fights are being fought in two parallel and partisan universes.For Democrats, the action was at the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence, where a bipartisan majority voted Thursday to declassify the executive summary of a massive report on the CIA’s enhanced-interrogation program.

Getting Ugly

The Jerks Jumping on Ft. Hood

Erich Schlegel/Reuters

Calls to slaughter Muslims followed by finger-pointing at Obama and gun-control activists. Some people just can’t resist exploiting a tragedy.

There’s nothing like a tragedy to bring out the worst in people. For the most part, the minutes and hours following the news that a shooter had opened fire on the Fort Hood military base in Texas were flooded with outpourings of prayers and well-wishes amid the updates on victims and the shooter’s identity. But it didn’t take long for nastiness to seep through the solidarity.
Pat Dollard delivered one of the first, and arguably the most offensive, reactions to news of the shooting shortly after it broke.

Stay Out

Independent? You Can’t Vote Here

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It’s fundamentally undemocratic when non-Democrats and non-Republicans are shut out in one-party towns.

District of Columbia voters went to the polls Tuesday, a few of them anyway, to vote in mayoral and city council primary elections. Unfortunately, although I am a Washington resident, I was not one of them. My non-participation wasn’t due to a lack of interest but because I am an Independent voter.The DC Board of Elections officially lists my party affiliation as “No Party.” It’s a non-affiliation I claim proudly but it comes with a price. Like many millions of other unaffiliated voters around the country I am prevented from exercising the right to vote in partisan primary elections.

PREP SCHOOL

Earn Your Degree in… Lobbying?

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post, via Getty

That’s right, folks. At George Washington University, wannabe political peddlers can now study the much-maligned world of swaying and influencing. But will it make any difference out in the field?

Soft job market got you down? Tired of your boss’s crap? Looking for a Plan B with the potential for big money, nice perks, and travel to exotic locales?Try this on for size: George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management just announced that it is launching a new masters program in international lobbying. Yep, you read that right: The glamorous world of global influence peddling just got its own syllabus.Now, I realize many of you may be asking: Why the hell would someone go to school to become a lobbyist? Reasonable question.

Awakening

Irrational Anti-Gay Marriage Laws

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Several courts have found the defenses of such laws are simply implausible. What a way we’ve come.

In a wave of recent decisions, one court after another across the nation has held that laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violate the Constitution. Indeed, we now have reached the point where courts routinely find the arguments in defense of such laws simply implausible.The constitutional provision at issue in these cases is the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Equal Protection Clause provides that “No state shall .

ROUGH CUTS

Paul Ryan: Still a Total Jerk

The Daily Beast

With the release of his bizarre budget this week, the congressman from Wisconsin proves once again that he’s a wishy-washy wonk unworthy of sainthood.

Remind me not to get in a foxhole with Paul Ryan. At the first sign of trouble, he’ll pack up his gunny sack and head for base camp, running into the latrine to hide.Or so I conclude from the budget he released this week. Remember how last year Ryan was reinventing himself as the true friend of “the poors,” as we ironically say in liberal blogland? Aside from being stunned that all those skewed polls turned out to be exactly on the money and he and Mitt Romney lost, he was also, we were told, chagrined and maddened that he came away from the 2012 campaign with a reputation as a pitiless Randian with a hole where his heart used to be.

Mo’

We Need More Big Money in Politics

Jon Boyes/Getty

Why money needs to be easier, not harder, for politicians to raise now.

The morning after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC brings progressives a splitting headache. The 5-4 ruling along the usual conservative-liberal lines, while not unexpected, has broad implications. Like it or not—and assuredly, progressive do not like it—the era of effective limits on contributions to federal politicians is drawing to a close. Want to write a million-dollar check to support a candidate? Chances are that now, or someday soon, you can.

Body Blow

Mississippi’s Abortion Fixation

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Extreme conservative policies, like Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks, will backfire on Republicans as their conservative base shrinks.

Republicans are incredibly good at legislating to solve problems that don’t really exist in order to try and score points in their ongoing war with political reality and American culture. See, e.g., Republicans wildly inflating accusations about voter fraud as a justification for restricting the voting rights of poor people, people of color and young folks who tend to vote Democratic. And see, e.g., Republican legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks with no exceptions—as the Republican-led Mississippi legislature passed on Wednesday.

Activism

Supreme Court's Corruption Problem

Drew Angerer/Getty

The Supreme Court decision ending aggregate limits on political donations was made possible by a dangerous, narrow definition of "corruption" the Framers themselves wouldn't recognize.

At the core of the disaster that is the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC decision lies a mistake. A strategic mistake, made by the government. In this mistake, we can see all that’s wrong with modern American constitutional law.From the first moment that this case arose, it has been obvious to everyone that the decision would turn on the meaning of the word “corruption.” Congress has the power to regulate campaign contributions only if it is doing so to regulate “corruption.

STRUCK DOWN

Campaign Limits Are for Losers

Gary Cameron/Reuters

In McCutcheon v. FEC, conservative justices killed post-Watergate caps on how much one person can give to multiple politicians. They’re not done yet.

Finally, you can give more than $123,000 to political parties, committees, and a bunch of candidates.The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision Wednesday in McCutcheon v. FEC overturned a law enacted after Watergate that allowed the federal government to cap how much an individual could give to multiple federal candidates and committees in a single campaign cycle.In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts cited the Court’s previous 5-4 ruling in 2010’s Citizens United—and that decision’s creation of super PACs—as reason to invalidate the aggregate limits.

Chocolate City

D.C. Finally Says No to Scandal

Jim Bourg/Reuters

Vince Gray lost his primary last night even though Washington has never been so prosperous.

D.C.’s mayor was bad.Not in a corrupt, tainted by a campaign finance scandal way (though that’s entirely possible according to federal prosecutors) but like a naughty schoolboy getting a little bit of a rise out of an indulgent teacher. It was 10 a.m. and Vince Gray, in the middle of a political fight for his life, is going to vote at a senior center near his house in southeast Washington. The mayor is wearing a campaign t-shirt emblazoned with his name, and delicately tucks it up, exposing the midriff of his button down shirt, to avoid electioneering.

Diagnosis

Can Obamacare Ever Become Popular?

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Democrats have said people would learn to love the law once they saw how it would help them. Polls show the public doesn’t agree so far.

“When people see what is in the bill, they will like it,” Nancy Pelosi said of the Affordable Care Act back in November. So far, she’s wrong.Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Democrats have had a similar refrain. From the moment the bill was signed into a law, the reforms known as Obamacare have never been viewed positively by a majority of voters. Even on the eve of its passage, at least a plurality  said they opposed the law.

Will Ryan Budget Doom GOP in '16?

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

The budget proposals unveiled by Paul Ryan on Tuesday contained controversial cuts to Medicare and social programs, but are practically party orthodoxy. Will his budget handicap GOP presidential hopefuls in 2016?

At least one part of the 2016 presidential election is going to look a lot like 2012.Tuesday’s rollout of the latest budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) served as a reminder that while “you didn’t build that” and “binders full of women” may be relegated to historical trivia, the political debate over Ryan’s budgetary proposals will be as heated in the next presidential election as it was in the last. It also has the potential to do as much harm to the next GOP nominee.

The Gun-Running Senator

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Things went downhill fast for the San Francisco politician who ‘flirted with both sides’ and as a result, put the bulls eye on his own back.

It is still possible, when the fog rolls in across the bay in San Francisco, to peek into one of the elegant dining establishments downtown or in North Beach and see a familiar figure holding court at the bar.Dressed in a fedora and sporting a pocket square, Willie Brown continues to lord over San Francisco politics ten years after stepping out of gilded City Hall due to term limits. City boards and commissions are still stacked with his appointees—or “cronies,” as his opponents (and there are many) call them.

'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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