If October's sixteen-day government shutdown left you yearning for more dramatic brinksmanship from our lawmakers, you'll be disappointed to learn that House and Senate negotiators have reached a two-year budget agreement. After weeks of negotiations, Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray unveiled a modest deal Tuesday night that would partially replace sequestration cuts, avert another shutdown on January 15, and end the budget wars of the past two years (though there's still the potential for debt ceiling squabbling). As New York's Jonathan Chait explained last week, while the automatic cuts were intended to be equally objectionable to both parties, Republicans are reluctant to give up something Democrats hate so much. So while the plan has the backing of party leaders on both sides of the aisle, conservatives are blasting the proposal.
Apparently unimpressed by President Obama's polite gesture/Chamberlain-esque appeasement of Raúl Castro today, Elián González, who is now a 20-year-old engineering student at a military school in Cuba, had some harsh words for the United States. "Just like [my mother], many others have died attempting to go to the United States. But it's the U.S. government's fault. Their unjust embargo provokes an internal and critical economic situation in Cuba," he told CNN at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Ecuador. Lest there be any doubt about his feelings concerning the nation he was famously returned to in 2000, he added, "Fidel Castro for me is like a father. I don't profess to have any religion, but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro."
The Wyoming Senate race between incumbent Mike Enzi and Virginian Liz Cheney just became the second most entertaining internecine GOP fight of the campaign cycle. Congressman Steve Stockman, the Texas Republican known for his trollish tweets and for inviting Ted Nugent to the State of the Union and for just being wildly unhinged, announced last night that he would mount a primary challenge against incumbent senator John Cornyn.
Cornyn, who is running for his third term next year, has a lifelong American Conservative Union rating of 93 percent — which, for the sake of reference, is 2 percent higher than Paul Ryan's rating. Nevertheless, we get the feeling from the lengthy anti-Cornyn manifesto Stockman launched this afternoon that he'll attempt to portray Cornyn as a liberal:
Hawks and doves alike are fond of boiling foreign policy down to mindless historical tropes. But there is probably no historical trope as mindless as the fascination of war hawks with Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain's policy of appeasement failed to stop Hitler from launching a war. And yes, though Hitler was a uniquely evil figure, it may be possible to generalize this lesson to at least some other cases. But we have reached a new nadir when one of those cases is President Obama's decision to shake hands with Raúl Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Yet here is John McCain, respected foreign-policy voice and recipient of 60 million votes for president, rambling bizarrely that he would not have shaken Castro's hand because "Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler."
President Obama shook Cuban president Raúl Castro's hand as he approached the podium at the Johannesburg memorial service for Nelson Mandela this morning. It was a stark departure from the standard protocol for American presidents, which consists of reaching your hand out to the Cuban president, pulling it away at the last moment, and telling him "too slow" before walking away.
It's certainly starting to look like the New Jersey governor's crew sought petty retribution against a political enemy by purposely causing traffic on the George Washington Bridge. Yes, really. It all feels very New Jersey, which is not the best thing for Chris Christie's national aspirations.
The brewing scandal all started with a jam on the bridge in September, when three lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey, were shut down for a “traffic study.” But testimony from Port Authority officials yesterday confirmed the initial, somewhat outlandish speculation (and later, solid reporting): There was no study — instead, Christie appointee (and high-school buddy) David Wildstein may have ordered the lanes shut to get back at the Fort Lee mayor, a Democrat, for not endorsing the governor in his landslide run for reelection.
As healthcare.gov slowly lurches into functionality, the battle lines around the health-care law are returning to their pre-October state. Giddy conservative hopes for the law’s immediate disintegration, or its quick repeal, have ebbed, and in their place opponents have returned to hoping that the law will fail because not many people will want to buy health insurance. Ross Douthat warns, or perhaps fantasizes, that the immediate collapse may have been averted, but the long, slow collapse may yet beckon on the horizon.
Congress has plenty to do before it recesses for the year, and with Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening to make senators work through the weekend – at Christmas! – lawmakers managed to reach a bipartisan deal on the National Defense Authorization Act on Monday. The bill is considered "must pass," as it's been approved every year for more than five decades and will allow the Pentagon to continue paying troops in combat. This year's slimmed-down version contains mixed news on the effort to reform how the military handles sexual assault. While the deal would implement the most significant changes in years to the military's rules on sexual assault, it omits a more wide-reaching amendment proposed by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would have military prosecutors decide whether to prosecute sexual assaults rather than victims' commanders.
This April, renaissance woman Sarah Palin is returning to a TV screen near you, maybe, if you get the Sportsman Channel, which you probably don't, as it is available in 27 percent of television-equipped households. On Amazing America With Sarah Palin, Palin will travel around the country talking to Americans in the 99th percentile of Real Americanness, such as bull riders, ranchers, cabin builders, and firemen. Why Palin? Because she is "one of America's most popular leaders," according to the CEO of the Sportsman Channel, who is wrong.
Airbnb, the San Francisco–based house-sharing start-up, must be filled with economic populists and former Sandinista sympathizers. That's the only reason the company corralled its users into making this video warmly offering to let New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's family and friends stay in their homes during his inauguration, right? Or maybe Airbnb is just excited about De Blasio's plans to revamp early childhood education in the city?
Yep, that's gotta be it.
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