That's right: It took no less than the president of the United States to make sure a Texas man did not have to serve three and a half more years in prison because someone typed the wrong number in his sentencing report. Ceasar Cantu pleaded guilty in 2006 to marijuana trafficking with intent to distribute and money laundering, but the offense level was listed at 36 instead of 34, as it should have been, resulting in a 15-year sentence instead of 11 and a half years. An easy fix, right? Wrong.
The official U.S. line on Iran is that allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon is completely and totally intolerable. The implication is that, should peaceful means fail to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, we may use military strikes. Rand Paul said, in so many words, Come on, man, let's get real:
Rand Paul has already gone after some potential 2016 rivals, but he went easy on Jeb Bush today when asked about the former Florida governor describing illegal immigration as "an act of love." "You know, I think he might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this," Paul told ABC's This Week. "But I don't want to say, 'Oh, he's terrible for saying this.' If it were me, what I would have said is, people who seek the American dream are not bad people." However, Paul would make sure to add, "We can't invite the whole world. When you say they're doing an act of love and you don't follow it up with, but we have to control the border, people think, well because they're doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country." Voters might get the wrong idea if you don't immediately explain how you'd crack down on that "act of love."
The most recent forecast by Fivethirtyeight gives Republicans a sixty percent chance of winning a majority of the Senate in November’s elections. Given that any bill already has to pass the Republican-controlled House, the effect of a Republican Senate upon President Obama’s legislative agenda can be calculated at zero, with a margin of error of zero. You can’t kill something that is already dead.
On the other hand, what is currently alive, albeit barely, is a fragile peace that has enabled the functioning of the traditional separation-of-powers relationship between the branches of government. The survival of that peace depends entirely on a Democratic Senate. Almost nobody seems to be thinking about the potential chaos that could lie ahead.
Though Mayor de Blasio once promised to ban Central Park's carriage horses during his first week in office, it seems that the issue is a little more complicated than it looked from the campaign trail. During a Friday Google Hangout marking his first 100 days as mayor, de Blasio said that he "[expected] action" on the living, breathing tourist attractions by the end of the year.
If America’s spy agencies were monitoring the ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel today — and who’s to say they weren’t? — they certainly got an earful. The occasion, the annual George Polk Awards in Journalism, drew an impressive collection of intelligence world scourges. There was New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order to testify against a former CIA officer who allegedly was a source. There was Barton Gellman, who was being honored for publishing some of Edward Snowden’s leaks in the Washington Post. There was Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, whose paper was instrumental in bringing the surveillance story to light in the face of threats from the British government. But the really high-value targets were running late.
The first family reported an adjusted gross income of more than $5.5 million in 2009, $1.7 million in 2010, $789,674 in 2011, $608,611 in 2012, and $481,098 this year, down another 21 percent, according to their recently filed return. For 2013, the Obamas paid $98,169 in federal taxes at a rate of 20.4 percent. But in less than three years, the president will get to choose between cashing in giving speeches or a career as a tortured artist, so it all comes back around eventually.
At the White House, even unceremonious resignations come with ceremonies, so Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got to say good-bye in public today after taking the fall for the fumbled heath-care rollout. "She's got bumps, I've got bumps, bruises," said President Obama, who admitted that the administration "lost the first quarter" of enrollment, but praised the end result. "Under Kathleen's leadership, her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself."
Followers of the Kardashian clan were introduced to an unlikely new character this week: Marianne Williamson, the independent candidate running for soon-to-retire Representative Henry Waxman’s seat in California’s 33rd district. “I went to hear @mariannewilliamson speak the other night w @kourtneykardash & @rachel_roy,” Kim reported on Instagram. “Very inspiring!” Also inspired by the 61-year-old author and spiritual adviser: Katy Perry and Nicole Richie, who attended a recent campaign event sporting new green and purple dye jobs respectively; Steven Tyler and Chaka Khan, who performed at a fund-raiser; and former Desperate Housewives Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross, who reunited at another Williamson event. The prize for most inspired by Williamson goes to Alanis Morissette, who has written and recorded a song for the campaign called Today.
Yesterday’s shoe attack on Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas, while a bit less dramatic than George W. Bush’s close encounter with footwear, was probably the most exciting thing to ever happen at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting. Now we have the instant replay, for supporters to use as a metaphor for her political agility and resilience, and detractors as an illustration of her polarizing nature, or just to laugh at.
“What was that, a bat? Was that a bat?” Clinton gasped after ducking (it’d already missed). “Was that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?” In a twist, the perpetrator was a woman.
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