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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.

Distortion

The Spin That Re-Elected Him

Getty

Mitt Romney never said all Jeep production would move to China, yet Democrats and the media exaggerated his claim until it became something they knocked down as untrue.

Let’s be honest: Al Gore didn’t really invent the Internet.And John Kerry isn’t really French.But both were asserted in various forms by Republicans in 2000 and 2004. It was campaign spin and gamesmanship and seemed to be understood by everyone as such. Fair enough.  Exaggeration and hyperbole are constant campaign companions, as useful and expected as hammers and saws on a construction site.  Those wishing to make a point pull them out as needed.

Red vs. Red

Nebraska’s GOP Cage Match

Getty

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.

Pantsuits

Hollywood vs. Hillary 2016

Jaap Buitendijk/Summit Entertainment

The villain in the new movie Divergent bears a striking resemblance to Hillary Clinton. Why are Hollywood’s powerful female leaders always the bad guys?

Many people will love Divergent, the new Hunger Games-style science-fiction movie that arrives Friday in theaters: fans of the blockbuster young-adult novel by Veronica Roth on which the film is based; fans of actress Shailene Woodley, who plays Roth’s nonconformist heroine Tris; fans of a post-apocalyptic future in which the Earth’s remaining human beings wall themselves off inside the ruins of a major metropolis (in this case, Chicago) and split up into five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite) designed to “keep the peace.

Sex & the Military

How Did the General Get Off?

Chris Keane/Reuters

A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

Finally Home

The WWII Hero America Abandoned

Courtesy of Gordon family

For more than 50 years, Army PFC Lawrence S. Gordon was mistakenly interred as a German soldier in a cemetery in France. But the U.S. military never corrected the mistake.

U.S. Army Private First Class Lawrence S. Gordon—killed in Normandy in 1944, then mistakenly buried as a German soldier—will soon be going home to his family.But don’t thank the American military for this belated return. The Pentagon declined to act on his case, despite exhaustive research by civilian investigators that pointed to the location of his remains.Instead, Gordon’s family and advocates used the same evidence to persuade French and German officials to exhume Gordon and identify him through DNA testing.

WINK

The First Emoji in the Senate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Getty

This was no ordinary press release.

Thursday was a watershed day in for political technology: Senator Mark Udall used an emoji in a press release, for likely the first time in history.Emoji was created in the mid-1990s in Japan, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the ideograms exploded in global popularity. That year, Apple’s released a new operating system that allowed users to see emoji through email and text messaging. Since then, it’s become a part of many millennials’ digital lives.

Shalom

Hillary Woos the Jews

Jin Lee/AP

At a lifetime achievement ceremony, Obama’s former secretary of state defended his policy toward Israel but went also gave verbal support to the Jewish State many have complained her old boss did not.

Dinner at the American Jewish Congress gala at Cipriani in midtown Manhattan was a thick slice of brisket covered in gravy.The cut was nearly as thick as the encomiums delivered from the dais to Hillary Clinton, the recipient of the evening’s lifetime achievement award.“You have impacted the lives of people on every continent, in every nation,” wrote Leonard Blavatnik, a wealthy Ukrainian industrialist and another honoreem in letter read from the nostrum.

'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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