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March 12, 2014
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I enjoyed watching both seasons of House of Cards, Netflix's shadowy and Shakespearean political comedy/tragedy/farce portraying the rise of the ruthless politician Frank Underwood. But I tried not to take it too seriously. After all, Washington's political elite might be out of touch with the rest of the country — as shown by years of awful Congressional approval ratings — but House of Cards is a work of fiction, and a dark, murderous, and cynical one at that.

Cui Tiankai, China's Ambassador to the United States, on the other hand, thinks House of Cards faithfully mirrors real life:

"I have seen both seasons of House of Cards, which I think embodies some of the characteristics and corruption that is present in American politics," said Cui Tiankai, speaking as a participant on a televised People’s Daily panel coinciding with the Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference.

The Chinese diplomat, who previously studied in Washington, DC — the setting of House of Cards' intricate political machinations — added that the show's story of bipartisan competition and corruption largely mirrored recent affairs. [South China Morning Post]

Of course, some Chinese people disagreed with the ambassador. While America's political system might be bad, they reasoned, it can't be as bad as China's one-party dictatorship:

Members of China's online microblogging community offered an alternate voice, and several criticized Cui for his comments.

"Americans are such that they do not hide their drawbacks, and through debate, constantly compromise to improve their government," one Sina Weibo commentator wrote. "They see the problems of their [government], and also recognize their own shortcomings."

"Of course there are issues with a two party system," mused another blogger. "But a one party dictatorship can really harm people." [South China Morning Post]

These critics are right. According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, while the United States is the 19th least corrupt nation in the world, China ranks a lowly 80th. John Aziz

10:46 a.m. ET

It's unclear which people Fox News' Jesse Watters has been talking to, but he claims "a lot" of them "wish President Trump was a dictator." Watters explained Thursday on The Five that if Trump were a dictator then "maybe we could repeal ObamaCare." "It would be a lot easier that way," he said, hours before the ObamaCare "skinny repeal" died on the Senate floor.

Watters made the remark as the panel discussed a recent quote from Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), comparing Trump to King George III. Ellison said Trump's efforts to "intimidate people, to pack the courts, to intimidate the press" are all part of his plan to "just run everything himself." "We fought a war of independence against somebody — King George — who was trying to do that," Ellison said.

But Watters seems to think that, for the sake of repealing the health-care law that insures more than 20 million Americans, it wouldn't be so bad for Trump to be a little more like the man who sparked the Revolutionary War. Watch Watters make the case below. Becca Stanek

10:03 a.m. ET

Frustrated with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, President Trump is reportedly already considering whom he wants to replace him with, The New York Times reported Thursday:

[...] Mr. Trump has openly told people that he has lost faith in Mr. Priebus. He has said he wants "a general" as chief of staff, and has focused on John F. Kelly, the retired four-star Marine now serving as homeland security secretary. Many of his advisers, however, consider that a bad idea. [The New York Times]

Even if Trump's advisers manage to talk him out of tapping Kelly, the chances of Priebus sticking around are looking pretty low. The New York Times reported that Trump has lately taken to bringing up the time Priebus suggested that Trump drop out of the presidential election after the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump talking about grabbing women by the genitals surfaced. Trump reportedly goes around asking his associates, "'Do you remember when Reince did that?'"

Read more at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

9:09 a.m. ET

As Senate Republicans fell silent early Friday morning upon learning they did not have enough votes to pass an ObamaCare repeal, the crowd gathered outside the U.S. Capitol burst into cheers. People bracing for a "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act hugged, danced, pumped their fists in the air, and clapped the moment they learned the repeal would not become a reality:

Senate Republicans' ObamaCare repeal attempt, an effort seven years in the making, was defeated after three Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and John McCain (Ariz.) — voted against the proposal that would've ended ObamaCare's individual mandate. Republicans weren't entirely sure which way McCain would vote until the decisive moment he silently walked up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and gave him a thumbs-down. Becca Stanek

8:48 a.m. ET

After Senate Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare, GOP Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.) on Friday morning suggested that it might be time for a change in party leadership. Brooks urged Senate Republicans not to quit pushing to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but he said that if they're willing to quit, maybe some Republicans should quit too. "If they're gonna quit, well then by golly, maybe they ought to start at the top with Mitch McConnell leaving his position and letting somebody new, somebody bold, somebody conservative take the reins," Brooks said on CNN's New Day.

"You think the problem is leadership? You think it's time for a change?" CNN's Chris Cuomo clarified. Brooks responded by noting that "unquestionably, the leadership at the top is responsible" for the failed repeal vote. "If Mitch McConnell cannot get the job done on this, how is he going to get the job done on the rest of President Trump's agenda over the next three and a half years?" Brooks said.

Brooks insisted that it isn't "necessarily anything bad about Mitch McConnell," but "he's got a job to do." "And if he can't do it, then as The Apprentice would say, 'You're fired,' and get somebody who can," Brooks said.

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

7:44 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) apparently made a dramatic entrance into the Senate chamber just before he cast his ObamaCare repeal-killing vote. Politico reported that as McCain walked in for the Senate vote on rolling back the Affordable Care Act, he "tantalizingly hinted": "Watch the show."

And what a show it was. Once inside the chamber, McCain, who Republicans say was waffling all day on his vote, walked up to a group of Democrats to announce he'd be voting against Republicans' plan to repeal ObamaCare. "Let's get this over with. I really want to do [the National Defense Authorization Act]," McCain, eager to move onto the next piece of legislation, reportedly said. He reportedly "embraced" Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

He then voted no, joining Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) in killing their party's seven-year mission to undo ObamaCare in the wee hours of Friday morning. McCain cast his vote despite pleading talks with the party's top leadership, from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Vice President Mike Pence on up to President Trump.

Politico reported that Republicans were so shocked after the vote they "could barely speak."

Read more about McCain's fateful vote at Politico. Becca Stanek

5:41 a.m. ET

Early Friday morning, the GOP's seven-year mission to kill ObamaCare ended with a dramatic thumbs-down, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) strode into the Senate chamber and cast a surprising no vote on his party's third attempt this week to roll back the Affordable Care Act:

McCain's vote prompted gasps from his assembled colleagues — and proved decisive in killing the bill. He joined Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) in dissent, along with all Democrats, and the proposal was defeated 49-51. A disappointed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "It's time to move on."

Read more about how McCain ended up casting the deciding vote at Politico. Kimberly Alters

3:20 a.m. ET

It's time to say hello again to the Tanners, Winslows, Balki, and Mr. Cooper — every single season of TGIF favorites Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers, and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper are coming to Hulu.

The company announced Thursday it will exclusively stream all of the series in their entireties — more than 800 shows — beginning Sept. 29. ABC's iconic Friday night line-up went through a few iterations, and some popular TGIF programs aren't part of the deal — where's Boy Meets World? Sabrina the Teenage Witch? — but for '90s kids, this is still fantastic news. "These shows are more than just beloved hits, they were part of a cultural tradition to tune in every Friday night," Hulu's Craig Erwich said. "Now, it can be Friday any day of the week on Hulu." Catherine Garcia

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