Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in one of his trademark gestures of narcissistic venality, decided to set up an address to the United States Congress without notifying the executive branch of the American government. The maneuver is so unusual that Netanyahu’s former ally and ambassador to the U.S. called on him to reverse course. Even Fox News has questioned him. Jeffrey Goldberg attempts to understand what Netanyahu might have been thinking. “Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country?” he asks. “From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are — or will be shortly — a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary.”
Mitt Romney, the nation's rich but boring ex, wants us to give him another chance, and in a Wednesday night speech at Mississippi State University, he tried to prove he's a changed man. Speaking in the nation's poorest state, Romney said we can end poverty in America by applying "conservative policies that improve America’s education system, promote family formation and create good-paying jobs." He explained part of the solution, according to a Brookings Institution study, is encouraging couples to commit. "We have to make sure our government programs aren't creating incentives for people not to get married," he said. "And they do right now."
The Obama administration’s plan for the federal budget will contain a new line-item that is numerically trivial but philosophically important: $15 million for states to analyze the costs and benefits of their job-licensing requirements. Appropriating a tiny sum of money to study what sounds like a technical issue may sound like a minor and uncontroversial step. In fact, it reframes one of the most interesting new policy debates that has emerged during the Obama era.
Ladies, if you're anything like us, you're always wondering what Mike Huckabee thinks of the things you say, the clothes you wear, and the choices you make about your body. Therefore, you'll be interested to know that the former Arkansas governor may disapprove of your lifestyle even if you haven't dropped an album that focuses heavily on your passion for feminism and banging your husband in limousines. In a Friday radio interview highlighted by Think Progress, the potential 2016 candidate said that while filming his Fox News show, he was shocked to hear his co-workers cursing — even the ladies! "In a business meeting that you might have in the South or in the Midwest there in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the F-bomb and use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting," Huckabee told host Jan Mickelson. "In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women do it.
Openly gay Alabama state representative Patricia Todd has had just about enough of her philandering anti-gay colleagues, who pursue extramarital affairs (or maybe even moonlit same-sex trysts) while trampling on her fledgling freedom to marry. Over the weekend, Birmingham representative decided to fight back against such hypocrisy on Facebook, threatening to out colleagues who gave anti-gay speeches after a judge overturned the state's ban on gay marriage Friday. She wrote:
Around 2 a.m. on December 12, four students approached the apartment of Omar Mahmood, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan, who had recently published a column in a school newspaper about his perspective as a minority on campus. The students, who were recorded on a building surveillance camera wearing baggy hooded sweatshirts to hide their identity, littered Mahmood’s doorway with copies of his column, scrawled with messages like “You scum embarrass us,” “Shut the fuck up,” and “DO YOU EVEN GO HERE?! LEAVE!!” They posted a picture of a demon and splattered eggs.
There are two kinds of arguments against Obamacare: technical arguments and moral ones. The technical ones take on a more moderate cast, presenting practical reasons why the law will fail to achieve its stated objections. These arguments have fared very poorly, and have been continuously discarded and replaced with newer ones as the evidence has piled up against them. The moral arguments make the more ambitious case that Obamacare is wrong, and should not exist even if it does fulfill its objectives. Since the moral case against Obamacare has limited appeal to true believers in the anti-government case, who are willing to accept deep levels of real-world pain in order to maintain their anti-statist bona-fides, conservatives tend to make it only when addressing fellow believers. (Ben Carson forthrightly made such a case in Iowa while competing for far-right support.)
Sheldon Silver will heed the growing calls for his resignation — sort of. The Daily News reports that Silver has agreed to step down as speaker of New York's State Assembly, a position he's held since 1994, following his arrest last week on federal corruption charges. A source tells the paper that he's worked out a deal to let five veteran Assembly Democrats — Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, Herman “Denny” Farrell, Joseph Lentol, Cathy Nolan, and Carl Heastie — run the chamber in his stead. However, the highly unusual arrangement would only be temporary. He'd be able to reclaim the position if he manages to beat the charges (it wouldn't be the first time).
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely speak before a full house during his visit to Congress in March, but a meeting with one figure will be noticeably absent from his schedule. President Obama won't meet with the Israeli leader, citing the usual White House policy of avoiding pre-election meetings with foreign heads of state. "As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country," said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan on Monday.
The state of New York state politics is … convulsive.
This morning, Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the State Assembly, was arrested on corruption charges, hours after the Times broke the story — and barely half a day after Silver sat smiling onstage as Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2015 State of the State address and was featured by the governor in humorous slides as one of the “Three Amigos” atop state government.
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