FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
Mitt Says
March 18, 2014
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As Russia claims Crimea for its own, it's no surprise that members of the Republican Party are piling on President Obama for "losing" Crimea in a Cold War-esque face-off with Vladimir Putin. The most prominent attack this week came from Mitt Romney in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, which one would assume would borrow from Romney's 2012 campaign in claiming that Obama's wimpy apologizing for America had allowed the thuggish likes of Putin to play Nelson to Obama's Milhouse.

But Romney tries a far more modest tack instead, blaming Obama for failing to act at the "propitious point" that would have magically paved the way for American triumphs in a series of foreign policy events ranging from the protests in Tahrir Square to the protests in Kiev's Maidan. Obama has too often been caught in an "analysis paralysis," Romney suggests, while Romney's ideal president — himself perhaps? — would have been able to "anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them."

This is, of course, a hindsight-is-20/20 argument of the highest order, and virtually useless in prescribing a better foreign policy other than blandly requiring that America's leaders be decisive. However, it is a useful insight into a GOP that is struggling to find a unified message on foreign policy. Romney has clearly adopted a less belligerent line than, say, John McCain, a recognition that voters have no interest in an interventionist foreign policy of the Bush variety. Meanwhile, Romney's argument is to the right of Rand Paul, who has come to represent the budding isolationist wing of the party and is struggling mightily to remain relevant (and coherent) amid the drama in Ukraine.

But in seeking middle ground, Romney ends up in a weird no man's land in which he fails to offer any real alternative to Obama's policies. "Timing is of the essence," Romney concludes — which doesn't have quite the stentorian ring of "peace through strength." Ryu Spaeth

terrorism
July 4, 2015
Fethi Belaid/Getty Images

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency in Tunisia on Saturday, the state news agency reports. In June, a gunman killed 38 foreigners and injured 39 others in a beachside terrorist attack. Security officers killed the gunman after the attack had stopped.

It's the second terrorist attack Tunisia has seen in three months, The New York Times reports. The state of emergency allows Essebsi to authorize military operations in Tunisia's own cities. Julie Kliegman

hot diggity dog
July 4, 2015
Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Eight-time defending champion Joey Chestnut met his match Saturday in Matt "Megatoad" Stonie, who won Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Stonie downed 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes, two ahead of Chestnut.

"I trained hard for this, and I came prepared," Stonie said.

Chestnut still has claim to the contest record, though, since he polished off 69 dogs in 2013 — good news for those of you who worried the man famous for binge-eating fast food might've lost his dignity with his defeat. Julie Kliegman

Pot economics
July 4, 2015
Oliver Berg/Getty Images

The legal pot market began in Washington on July 8, 2014, and just one year later, it's making bank. The state's 160 stores earn $1.4 million per day. Between state and local governments, pot sales have rolled in about $70 million in taxes, The Associated Press reports.

Business might be good, but all those taxes — on top of federal ones — hurt growers.

"I'm basically doing this for free," James Lathrop, who owns Seattle's first legal shop, told AP. "Nobody's gone out of business, but I'm not driving a new truck either."

So next time you're in Washington, maybe you should think about kicking back with some weed — you know, just for the sake of supporting small business. Julie Kliegman

tied to the whippin' post
July 4, 2015
Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

Donald Trump took to Fox & Friends to defend the comments on Mexican immigrants that landed him in hot water this week with companies like NBC, Macy's, and most recently NASCAR.

"The crime is raging and it's violent. And if you talk about it, it’s racist," he said, referring to accusations against his presidential campaign kickoff that many Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug users.

Trump admitted he didn't realize the backlash would be quite so severe, calling himself a "whipping post." Watch the full interview here. Julie Kliegman

you're fired
July 4, 2015
Scott Olson/Getty Images

NASCAR joined a long list of companies cutting ties with billionaire and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump following his controversial remarks last month about Mexican people. The auto racing governing body will not hold its Xfinity and Camping World Truck series banquets at the Trump National Doral Miami as originally planned, USA Today reports.

"Our company will not stand to support any person or organization that associates with such beliefs and we feel strongly about distancing ourselves from any negative and discriminatory comments made against any gender, ethnicity, age group or so forth," said Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who vowed to not attend the awards if held at Trump's hotel. "I would hope that the entire NASCAR organization would agree with my sentiments."

In his campaign kickoff, Trump classified most Mexicans immigrating to the U.S. as rapists and drug users. NASCAR joins companies like NBC Universal, Univision, and Macy's in denouncing the comments. Julie Kliegman

Awwww
July 4, 2015

A Florida judge had one unusual question for the burglary suspect in her bond court: Did you go to middle school with me?

Arthur Booth, 49, was arrested in Hialeah on charges of burglary, grand theft, fleeing, and resisting arrest, NBC 6 South Florida reports. Judge and former middle school classmate Mindy Glazer's question shocked him. He immediately teared up, held his head, and repeated "Oh my goodness."

Glazer had some encouraging words for the man she called "the nicest kid in middle school."

"Good luck to you sir," she said. "I hope you are able to come out of this OK and just lead a lawful life."

Watch the full encounter below. Julie Kliegman

Cuba Libre
July 4, 2015
Matthew Hinton/AFP/Getty Images

JetBlue ran its first official direct flight from New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport to Havana's José Martí International Airport on Friday, the first in a planned series of weekly charter flights.

It's the first major airline to do so, though smaller outfit Sun Country was the first to start servicing the two cities, Time reports.

JetBlue also runs flights to Cuba from Florida cities following the easing of travel restrictions earlier this year as the two nations work to restore diplomatic ties after half a century without relations. Julie Kliegman

See More Speed Reads