Playing politics
March 27, 2014
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With ObamaCare in need of fixing, Yahoo News' Matt Bai hearkens back to a 2009 conversation he had with then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who warned that Democrats "could ram through a health-care overhaul on a partisan vote. But you wouldn't be able to sustain it."

"Baucus turned out to be prescient," Bai concedes, echoing Baucus' contention that "this kind of sprawling social legislation... doesn't end with a single vote."

True enough. Unfortunately, Bai then advances the conventional, if revisionist, wisdom that "Democrats didn't have a whole lot of choice."

But they did. As the AP reported in 2009, a "middle-of-the-road measure fashioned by the committee under Baucus' leadership" had won over the support of GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe. President Obama even praised this development as "a critical milestone."

A few days later, however, Harry Reid scuttled the deal, insisting on a public option. As CNN reported:

Snowe issued a statement Monday saying she was "deeply disappointed" with Reid's decision on the public option. She argued that a decision in favor of a trigger "could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate."

Democrats chose to eschew a bipartisan health-care compromise, guaranteeing there would be zero Republican skin in the game. The consequence being that Democrats now solely "own" it. Matt K. Lewis

fancy fashion
9:42 p.m. ET

Everyone who attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit Gala goes with one goal: To turn heads. With this year’s theme being “China: Through the Looking Glass,” celebrities, socialites, and those who could spend thousands to get in showed up to the gala on Monday night wearing rich golds, fiery reds, and bold patterns. Here are just some of the more extravagant looks. —Catherine Garcia

Crime and punishment
8:49 p.m. ET
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As his relatives spoke on his behalf during the penalty phase of his trial Monday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began to weep, one of the few times he has shown emotion while in court.

Tsarnaev was found guilty last month of all 30 charges against him in connection with the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Now, during the penalty phase, his relatives shared stories and anecdotes about the young man that many haven't seen since his family left Russia in 2002, The New York Times reports. Cousin Nabisat Suleimanova said through a translator people "wanted to hug him and not let him go," while aunt Shakhruzat Suleimanova said he and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout after the bombing, were "so good, they wouldn't hurt a fly."

The defense wants Tsarnaev to receive life in prison without parole, while the prosecution is arguing for the death penalty, saying he has shown no remorse for his actions. In addition to his family taking the stand, last week, former teachers spoke in his favor, saying he was "kind," "smart," and "loved by all." "I still love him," Becki Norris wrote on Facebook, despite the fact he did "unfathomably horrible things." Catherine Garcia

This just in
7:56 p.m. ET
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President Obama plans on naming Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, officials briefed on the matter said Monday.

Dunford served as commander of all allied forces in Afghanistan, and if his nomination is approved by the Senate, he will replace Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is expected to retire this summer. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serves as the most senior officer in the military and adviser to the president. Officials say Obama will also name Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who is now leading the U.S. Transportation Command, as vice chairman. The White House is expected to make a formal announcement Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

that's not a banana
7:03 p.m. ET

Aldi supermarket employees in Germany found more than just fruit in shipments from Colombia: Workers in 14 different stores discovered a total of 850 pounds of cocaine in several boxes of bananas.

Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said the illicit cargo was found in boxes in Berlin and the neighboring state of Brandenburg, and is the largest amount found in the capital in a single operation. The cocaine is worth an estimated €15 million, or $16.7 million. In some boxes, more than 10 kilograms were found, wrapped in black plastic.

Redlich told the radio station RBB he thinks the smugglers made a "logistical error" somewhere along the way. "The route across the Atlantic is known by police," he said. "The wrong container was probably used when the merchandise was put on board ship. Or possibly, there wasn't time for the smugglers to unload it when it arrived in Hamburg." Investigators are still searching through boxes for more drugs, Deutsche Welle reports, and it's a bit of a déjà vu moment: In January 2014, workers at Aldi branches in Berlin found 140 kilos of cocaine in banana boxes. Catherine Garcia

#Benghazi
4:32 p.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton will testify this month before a congressional panel investigating the Benghazi embassy attack, a lawyer for the former secretary of state said Monday. Despite saying there was "no basis, logic, or precedent" for the committee's demand that Clinton testify, Clinton's lawyer said she was "fully prepared to stay for the duration" of the hearing.

Clinton has already testified about the attack before Senate and House committees, and a handful of previous federal investigations found no evidence to support allegations of serious wrongdoing on her part. However, Republicans conducting yet another investigation called for Clinton to testify once more following revelations about her use of a private email account during her tenure in the Obama administration. Jon Terbush

Spinning it forward
3:58 p.m. ET
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Gettt Images

President Obama on Monday announced the formation of a nonprofit organization intended to expand opportunities for young male minorities, saying the work would remain a mission "for the rest of my life."

"America's future depends on us caring about this," Obama said at an event in New York to unveil the organization.

The nonprofit, the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, is an offshoot of the My Brother's Keeper initiative Obama launched last year to help young men of color reach the American dream.

The rollout came as racial unrest continued to roil Baltimore following the death in police custody of an unarmed black man, Freddie Gray. Though Obama did not address the incident as directly as he did last week, he touched on the same themes of discontent and disconnect at the heart of protests surrounding Gray's death when arguing for the nonprofit's importance.

"The only difference between me and a lot of other young men," Obama said. "is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving." Jon Terbush

Say what?
3:07 p.m. ET
Bas Czerwinski/Associated Press

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said Sunday that there is no place for homosexuality in his country.

"The Republic of Kenya is a republic that worships God," Ruto said. "We have no room for gays and those others."

A spokesperson for Ruto later doubled down on the remark, calling homosexuality "unnatural and un-African."

The remark came on the same day Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kenya to discuss regional security. President Obama will visit Kenya in July. Jon Terbush

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