2014 Watch
March 24, 2014

The Washington Examiner's David Drucker has an interesting read on the two conservative candidates running for U.S. Senate in Nebraska. Tea party groups and national conservatives have (mostly, with a few notable exceptions) coalesced around Ben Sasse, even though Shane Osborn has what many would consider solid conservative credentials.

So what makes one conservative more appealing than another? Speaking in general terms (actually, using a different hypothetical example), one GOP operative told Drucker the key difference is "not that they disagree on ideology but they have a different view of the world and how much trouble the country is in."

My theory: A voter who is temperamentally more conservative might favor a different candidate from someone who is temperamentally more radical. There's also the "zealotry of the convert" phenomenon, whereby new activists might be (ironically) more worried about America's situation than those who have been following conservative politics for years. Voters may think they apply policy or philosophical litmus tests to candidates, but I suspect it has more to do with style and "gut" than we'd care to admit. Matt K. Lewis

Quotables
6:04 a.m. ET
Overheard with Evan Smith

One of the biggest and most consequential shifts in the push for gay rights was when corporate America joined the fray, recently siding with LGTB advocates against "religious freedom" laws Indiana and Arkansas. In an interview with Evan Smith, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called the business community "a critical block" in the gay-rights fight.

"It's very good to win an issue because you have morality on your side, but it helps in America if the profit motive weighs in," Frank said on the PBS show Overheard. "And essentially what you now have is the business community saying to the bigots, 'Will you please knock it off, you are interfering with our ability to ruin the economy and make money.'" Big Business is doing the right thing, he added, but not exactly for altruistic reasons:

It's interesting what they're saying, and they're saying this: Do not give us the right to discriminate — you are giving me something I didn't ask for. Because if a business has the legal and moral obligation to serve everybody, no controversy. But if you say to them, OK, you can pick and choose, then once they start picking and choosing, somebody's going to be mad at them. Either they'll be too kind to gay people or not kind enough. [Barney Frank]

You can watch Frank's comments at the Overheard site (they broach the topic at about the 12-minute mark), but the entire 25-minute interview is worth a listen. Among other things, Frank talks about how the left's penchant for marching is counterproductive, why the GOP may secretly want the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage, Hillary Clinton's record on gay rights, and why he thinks Clinton should win the Democratic nomination without too much of a fight. Peter Weber

The beautiful game
5:32 a.m. ET

Hours after arresting six FIFA officials at a luxury hotel in Zurich, based on U.S. criminal corruption charges, Swiss federal prosecutors announced their own investigation into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. The Swiss prosecutors' office said police had seized "electronic data and documents" from FIFA's Swiss world headquarters, and will question 10 members of the soccer governing body's executive committee who took part in the controversial 2010 votes crowning the 2018 and 2022 hosts.

Switzerland's investigation is not related to the U.S. one, Swiss authorities say, but U.S. and Swiss officials are working together. In the video below, New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo tells BBC News what he and his colleagues know so far, and how soccer "has never seen anything quite like this." —Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:41 a.m. ET

Last Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stood on the Senate floor for 10.5 hours, staging a quasi-filibuster to protest the USA Patriot Act. Almost all of his GOP colleagues rolled their eyes at him — literally, sometimes — but if the Senate doesn't act, the Patriot Act will expire on June 1. Good, said Jon Stewart on Tuesday's Daily Show. It was always meant to expire, "and why should we allow the U.S. government to continue to infringe on liberty?"

The Republican answer is that the law, and the NSA mass surveillance it didn't quite authorize, are important tools to prevent terrorism. "I guess the lesson here is that saving American lives is sometimes more important than civil liberties and government overreach," Stewart summarized — "you know, unless you're, obviously, trying to save those lives by providing health insurance." NSA surveillance and ObamaCare, connected. One statistic — that 45,000 people die every year because they lack health insurance, per a 2009 Harvard study — blew Stewart's mind: "How do we make that the thing the government cares about? Do we have to rename Type 2 diabetes 'Osama bin unable to process insulin'?" Well, it's a thought. —Peter Weber

Watch this
3:18 a.m. ET

"In recent years, a stunning breakthrough has been made in our concept of what the universe is for," Bill Nye (the Science Guy) said on Tuesday's Inside Amy Schumer. If you're expecting a science lesson, though, remember what you're watching. Nye, without grimacing, laid out the joke: "We now know the universe is essentially a force sending cosmic guidance to white women in their 20s," a "giant dream board on which women pin their wishes."

Many young white women, the show suggests, have turned "the Universe" into a mashup of God and a Magic 8 Ball, with perhaps a smidgen of instant karma — see How I Met Your Mother for slightly more subtle usage. Nye can only take so much, and there is definitely NSFW language from both Schumer and Nye. If that doesn't bother you, watch below. —Peter Weber

death penalty
2:53 a.m. ET
Facebook/GovernorPeteRicketts

On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) vetoed a bill that would abolish capital punishment in the Cornhusker State, arguing that his executive negation was "a matter of public safety" and "also a matter of making sure the public prosecutors have the tools they need to put these dangerous hardened criminals behind bars." Legislators scheduled a vote for Wednesday afternoon to override Ricketts' veto; it's expected to be a close vote.

In the last of three votes to pass the death penalty ban, 32 members of the unicameral legislature voted yes and 15 voted no. That's two votes more than needed to overturn the veto, but at least one yes vote has since publicly changed his mind. Ricketts has been trying to get other lawmakers to switch to no, also. If the bipartisan coalition succeeds, Nebraska will be the first conservative state to abolish the death penalty in decades, joining 18 states and Washington, D.C. Peter Weber

but can they remember all their names?
2:05 a.m. ET

Leo and Ruth Zanger of Quincy, Illinois, may have just welcomed their 100th grandchild, but they say they treat every new arrival like it's their first.

"We just love them all and they're all so precious," Leo, 79, told Today.com. "Birth is a miracle, and to have a new one is just a wonderful thing." The Zangers have been married for 59 years and have 12 children ranging in age from 31 to 59 (their youngest son was an uncle 10 times over by the time he was born), so it's no surprise that their family has steadily grown over the years. With the birth of Jaxton Leo Zanger on April 8, the official grandchild count hit 100, although technically little Jaxton is the 46th great-grandchild (there's also one great-great-grandchild).

Most of the family lives in or near Quincy, where Leo operates a real estate agency, and they gather together during all the major holidays — they just have to rent out church halls since no one's house can fit everyone. "When we get together, it's big," daughter Donna Lane told Today.com. "It's really big. There are a lot of people — a lot of kids — but that's what it's all about. We always have a really good time." Catherine Garcia

This is terrible
1:40 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In a report released Wednesday, Amnesty International says that the militant group Hamas tortured and killed dozens of Palestinians during the war against Israel in the Gaza Strip last year, taking advantage of the "chaos of the conflict" to carry out "spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes."

The report says that during July and August, dozens of people were arrested and tortured, and at least 23 were executed, the Los Angeles Times reports. Amnesty International says that Hamas targeted members of Fatah, its rival political faction and the political base of the Palestinian Authority. "It is absolutely appalling that while Israeli forces were inflicting massive death and destruction upon the people in Gaza, Hamas forces took the opportunity to ruthlessly settle scores," Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa program director for Amnesty International, said in a statement.

One incident that was said to take place happened in August, when six men accused of being collaborators with Israel were executed in front of hundreds of people, including children. Hamas official Salah Bardawil called the report biased and not objective, and said Amnesty International "should have investigated the war crimes against humanity committed by Israel instead of criticizing the victims." Catherine Garcia

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