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Supreme Court's Corruption Problem

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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.

PAY DAY

You Should Pay for My Campaign

JIM WATSON/Getty

When Obama rejected federal funding for presidential campaigns before his first term, he changed campaigning as we knew it, with candidates on both sides shifting their focus from what’s important (votes! dialogues! press!) to what’s not (money! money! money!).

Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that individuals could not be limited in the total amount given to political candidates or parties. This does not affect the individual limits which still apply to federal races. No contribution can exceed $2,600 per candidate per race or $32,400 per party. But previously the total aggregate amount an individual was allowed to donate could not exceed $123,000 per cycle. So while this ruling only affects the relatively small universe of donors wishing to give more than $123,000, it is another step toward allowing donors to give more freely to campaigns.

Busted

Exclusive: Rumsfeld’s 9/11 Con Job

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

In a new doc, the former defense secretary says he never meant to imply that Saddam was behind 9/11—despite the implications that the Iraqi dictator and al Qaeda were in cahoots.

In The Unknown Known, Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris (The Fog of War) turns his infamous interrotron on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was one of the key architects of the U.S. response to the attacks of September 11th under President George W. Bush, which included wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The title of Morris’ documentary, out April 4, is taken from a controversial response Rumsfeld gave in February 2002 when, as Secretary of Defense, he was prodded about the lack of evidence concerning “reports” propagated by the Bush administration that Iraq was supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups:“Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.

CRASH TEST DUMMIES

The 'RedState Women' Scheme

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In an attempt to help Texas’ GOP gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbott battle Dem favorite Wendy Davis, a new PAC of women are digging their heels in too deep.

For a GOP already struggling to combat the Democratic narrative that it is waging “a war on women,” what could possibly be worse than having your candidate for governor of Texas land in a high-profile smackdown with a female state senator famous for filibustering a bill aimed at restricting abortion access?Well, for starters, the gender gap might not be improved by said candidate also traipsing across the state arm in arm with legendarily misogynistic whacko Ted Nugent.

FUNNY NOT FUNNY

Lame Duck Laughs

John Moore/Getty

When it comes to April Fool’s Day, the joke’s on these seven politicians whose LOLZ attempts got blank stares instead.

For centuries, on the first of April people have pranked one another just for the lolz. Despite the fact that these pranks are rarely good or clever or funny, we continue to celebrate April Fool’s Day because of tradition. And it would appear that traditionally, the politically minded struggle way more than the rest of us in attempting to avoid being totally lame. Whether they’re playing a prank or using the (informal) holiday to make a dig at an ideological opponent, they usually fall flat.

Diagnosis

Love America? Love Obamacare

Alex Wong/Getty

Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act springs from a radical individualism that’s antithetical to why the nation was founded.

Republican opposition to Obamacare isn’t really about how much health care reform will cost or whether people will still be able to still go to their doctors or even about denying their sworn enemy Barack Obama an ounce of political victory.   At its essence, Republican opposition to Obamacare derives from a philosophical resistance to being compelled to do anything that benefits others.  This radical individualism is not only fundamentally antithetical to traditional conservatism but to the very principles from which our nation was forged in the first place.

No Deal

Hill Rips Deal for Israeli Spy

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty

The Obama administration’s proposed deal for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is facing a bipartisan backlash from Congress.

Both the Democratic and Republican heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee are staunchly opposed to a proposal floated by the Obama administration to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison as part of a deal for continued Israeli participation in ongoing Mideast peace talks. Obama administration officials confirmed Monday to The Daily Beast that Pollard’s release after three decades of incarceration was being discussed between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a carrot to entice Netanyahu to agree to an extension of negotiations with the Palestinians.

W 2.0

Why the GOP Should Say No to Jeb

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

The newest savior of the party is more likely to split it than unite it.

With Chris Christie in deep trouble, Republican poobahs are reportedly looking to Jeb Bush to save their party in 2016. The former two-term governor of Florida speaks fluent Spanish, is a convert to Catholicism, and has high name recognition. Jeb could raise millions of dollars over night by just saying “yes” to running.Despite all this, there are strong reasons Republicans should say no to him.1. His last name is poison.Let’s face it, if Jeb Bush had the last name of Something Else he would have already run for president in 2008 or 2012.

#GETCOVERED?

Inside Obamacare’s 11th Hour

David Goldman/AP

The numbers looked good and the people kept enrolling hours before the deadline Monday night, but the jury’s still out on whether Obama’s legislation will define his presidency.

Monday marked the end of the 2014 enrollment period for Obamacare. Four years after the Affordable Care Act passed Congress and six months after the tumultuous enrollment period began, it was at least nominally the last opportunity for consumers to get covered—or, as the Obama administration would put it, #getcovered.But the final countdown to sign up for the ACA featured some of the tech glitches and extended deadlines that were familiar from the past few months.

Chutzpah

Will Obama Surrender Israeli Spy?

Baz Ratner/Reuters

For years President Obama has resisted Israeli requests to free Jonathan Pollard. Now with its peace process on the verge of collapse the White House is taking a second look at releasing Israel's most notorious spy.

The Obama administration, struggling for ways to keep the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks going, is considering doing something it swore it would never do: release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.An administration official confirmed to The Daily Beast that the possible release of Pollard, although not likely, is now on the list of items being discussed between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu as part of a formula whereby he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would both agree to extend peace talks past their April 29 deadline.

'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.

  1. President Obama, Guided by Faith Play

    President Obama, Guided by Faith

  2. Behind the Benghazi Witchhunt Play

    Behind the Benghazi Witchhunt

  3. Obamacare's Full Court Press Play

    Obamacare's Full Court Press

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