American royalty Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter took a briefly controversial trip to Cuba in April that resulted in an angry (but good!) rap song and subsequent denial from the White House press secretary that Barack Obama had any role in securing the necessary paperwork. "I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury," Obama's mouthpiece quipped. "The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip." Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by a MuckRock user, we now have proof, allowing those of us who have been fretting over the legitimacy of the vacation to finally— just kidding, but it's at least another opportunity to look at the pictures.
With a local news interview and a heartfelt statement this morning, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski became the third GOP senator to back marriage equality. The announcement does not come as much of a surprise — in April, we predicted Murkowski would declare her support for gay marriage in "the next couple of months." She's always been an independent-minded Republican who frequently votes against the party line, and she'd even already revealed that she was "evolving" on the issue, which typically means a switch is imminent.
Rick Perry, who has made a political trademark of splashy campaigns to lure businesses from other states, now sets his sights on New York City. He’s spending five days in New York and Connecticut, where “he has courted, among others, gun manufacturers facing stricter laws in the wake of the Newtown shootings.” In a campaign-style ad, he portrays the town that many of us have thought of as a fairly vibrant place as a dystopian Big Government hellscape:
Here's yet another possible explanation for why Putin was shushing Obama at the G8 summit earlier this week: President Obama mentioned that he'd like to talk about reducing their countries' nuclear stockpiles. Senior administration officials tell the Wall Street Journal that the president will announce his renewed focus on ridding the world of nuclear weapons in a major foreign-policy speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday. The U.S. and Russia already agreed to cut their number of strategic warheads to 1,550 as part of the 2010 New START Treaty, but Obama wants to reduce that number by a third.
Harry Reid has been threatening to change the Senate rules on nominations, so that a minority of senators can’t prevent a president from filling vacancies in the judiciary or his own administration. Today Mitch McConnell responded with a threat of his own: If Reid does that, whenever McConnell gets the majority, he’ll change the rules to allow a straight majority rule on everything.
Update, 3:55 p.m.: As many have pointed out in the comments, this post is, in retrospect, too flip about the motivations of the protesters and downplays the serious socioeconomic problems facing poor Brazilians. It also focuses attention entirely on the rioters — a small segment of the Brazilian population — while ignoring the many hundreds of thousands who protested peacefully over what are, in fact, legitimate grievances. I do apologize. For the record, here are ten photos of Brazilians protesting peacefully:
Rush Limbaugh asks a pretty decent question. If Republicans need to pass comprehensive immigration reform in order to stave off demographic doom, why are Democrats so eager to help them?
No less than Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey also said, "The Republicans' presidential prospects are forever over if they don't pass this legislation." Now, my question to that -- and I'm sorry for being so silly and naive and stupid.
But I ask myself: "Why does Bob Menendez care whether we win the presidency or not?"
Let me ask a better question. Why does Senator Menendez want us to win the presidency? Why does Senator Menendez want us to be in the presidential sweepstakes? Wouldn't Senator Menendez really love it if we were aced out?
Limbaugh is definitely on to something. Politics is a zero-sum competition. Preserving the long-term viability of the currently constructed Republican Party ought to be a serious cause for concern for Democrats, right? Yet there are a couple of good answers too.
In September of 2012, a video emerged on YouTube of a poor black woman announcing she had received a free “Obamaphone,” prompting widespread conservative outrage. It turned out there is no Obamaphone and that the phone in question is part of the Lifeline program, dating back to the Reagan administration, in which phone companies give free telephone service to indigent customers who need a telephone for things like contacting emergency services or setting up job interviews. But, having gotten themselves angry about the Obamaphone, conservatives weren’t going to let the fact that there is no Obamaphone get in the way, and it has remained a live issue on the right, even prompting House Republican calls to eliminate the once-uncontroversial three-decade-old program.
Ray Kelly is a man who knows his way around a surveillance scandal, so you might think he'd have some sympathy for the NSA. However, the police commissioner has split with the federal government on the NSA's phone and data collection programs, saying, “I don’t think it ever should have been made secret.” Unsurprisingly, Kelly believes that the public will happily give up some privacy in the name of safety. “I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it’s going to be recorded and it goes to the government,” Kelly says. “I think the public can understand that. I see no reason why that program was placed in the secret category.” Surely it's just a coincidence that the feds recently defied Kelly by recommending an independent monitor for the NYPD.
Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.By Frank Rich
When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.By Jason Zengerle
Jon Favreau’s most enduring riffs.
Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013
For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.By Ezra Klein
Mother Jones Jan. 15, 2013
Our debt dysfunction began with the Constitution, funded Manifest Destiny, and makes the trillion dollar coin look tame.By Tim Murphy
Salon Jan. 15, 2012
Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.By Steve Kornacki
New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010
After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009
Obama drew progressive ire from day one.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008
How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.By Jeff Coplon