Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Mar 26, 2014

  • Marijuana ballot initiatives may motivate voters

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Warning: Increased voter turnout could be a political side effect of marijuana.

    The latest George Washington University Battleground poll, a national survey of likely voters, reveals that nearly four in 10 respondents say they would be "much more likely" to vote if marijuana legalization issues were on the ballot. An additional 30% say such ballot initiatives would make them "somewhat" more likely to vote.

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Mar 25, 2014

  • Supreme Court Takes Up Dispute Over Obamacare and Religion

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up the most closely watched issue of its term: Does the Obamacare law violate the religious freedom of private employers by requiring them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives?

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  • The Religious Right's Failed Gay-Marriage Backlash

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Frank Schubert tried to warn us. In 2012, after voters in four states took the side of gay marriage in ballot initiatives, Schubert, a consultant working for the National Organization for Marriage, was sure they would live to regret their choice.

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  • The Case for Hypothetical Questions

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    At the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on Monday, President Obama and other world leaders participated in a hypothetical exercise playing out what they would do if terrorists gained nuclear weapons. The event was secret because the leaders were developing actual protocols for this eventuality, but none of the leaders refused to participate on the grounds that it was a “hypothetical.”

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  • G-7 Leaders to Putin, Russia: You're Out

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The United States and leaders of the largest economies wagered Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will fret about his nation’s ouster from a global club Moscow worked hard to join beginning in the 1990s.

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  • 'Ambassador, dear, you are lying'

    By John F. Harris, Politico

    President Barack Obama arrives Tuesday in the capital of Europe, a city of frameworks and furrowed brows, of multilateral dialogue and expressions of grave concern, where the locals speak French, international bureaucrats do their work in English and representatives of the 28 member countries of the European Union are all fluent in the universal language of blah, blah, blah.

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  • Harry Reid accuses GOP of helping Russia annex Crimea as Ukraine aid deal clears procedural hurdle

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    A bipartisan proposal to provide more than $1 billion in aid to the new Ukrainian government survived a procedural vote in the Senate Monday evening, setting it up for final passage later this week.

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Mar 24, 2014

  • 3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Bill Clinton found him to be cold and worrisome, but predicted he would be a tough and able leader. George W. Bush wanted to make him a friend and partner in the war on terror, but grew disillusioned over time.

    Barack Obama tried working around him by building up his protégé in the Kremlin, an approach that worked for a time but steadily deteriorated to the point that relations between Russia and the United States are now at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.

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  • Behind the politics of this week’s Ukraine vote in Congress

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Congress returns to Washington today after another week-long recess and is expected to spend part of their first week back debating a U.S. aid package to Ukraine.

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  • Supreme Court Takes Up Dispute Over Obamacare and Religion

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up the most closely watched issue of its term: Does the Obamacare law violate the religious freedom of private employers by requiring them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives?

    Read more
  • What lessons will the GOP take away for 2016 if they win this November?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    The biggest mistake political parties often make is learning the wrong lessons from victory or defeat, but particularly victory. Republicans face that possibility as they anticipate what they hope will be a successful midterm election in November.

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  • On Ukraine, Ted Cruz isn't as Reaganesque as he seems to think

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    In my Sunday column, I described the division among leading Republicans over what policy to prescribe on Russia and Ukraine, a three-way split among hawks, realists and libertarians.

    Then there’s Ted Cruz, the firebrand tea-party senator from Texas. Where does he fit in?

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Mar 21, 2014

  • Obama Steps Up Sanctions Against Russia

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama expanded U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and a Russian bank Thursday, warning that the economic costs over time will prove painful to President Vladimir Putin and his allies if Russia escalates its military march into Ukraine.

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  • Former Naval Academy Football Player Is Acquitted of Sexual Assault

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    A military judge on Thursday found a former United States Naval Academy football player, Joshua Tate, not guilty of sexually assaulting a fellow midshipman when she was too drunk to consent, bringing partial resolution to a highly publicized case that has lasted for nearly two years.

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  • Obama enlists help to push Affordable Care Act

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama teased Ellen DeGeneres about the selfie she took at the Oscars and confessed to leaving his socks and shoes lying around while the first lady is out of town, but before the end of his Thursday appearance on her talk show, he got DeGeneres to put in a plug for the Affordable Care Act.

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  • In Book, Architect of Health Law Predicts a Shift Away From Employer Coverage

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who helped devise the Affordable Care Act, has a vision for how it will eventually work. Democrats hope it will not materialize anytime soon.

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  • South Carolina considers ending ban on Election Day alcohol sales

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    Imagine the anguish of a staffer working for a losing campaign once the polls close. All those hours, all that work, for naught. That staffer sure could use a drink. But in South Carolina, the drink will have to wait. The Palmetto State is the only state in the country that still bans alcohol sales on Election Day.

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  • The Vanished Washington of Robert Strauss

    By Todd Purdum, Politico

    “Last of his kind” is an overused phrase, but in the case of Robert S. Strauss, who died Wednesday at 95, it is apt. For his like will not pass Washington’s way again, if only because the world that made him — and men like him — is also gone for good.

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Mar 20, 2014

  • Vladimir Putin Isn’t Going to Sabotage the Iran Nuclear Talks Over Crimea

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    Could the crisis in Crimea spoil Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran?

    On Wednesday, a senior Russian diplomat suggested as much. Emerging from talks with five other powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov seemed to warn that Moscow might grow less cooperative in the effort to halt Iran’s march toward a bomb.

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  • Tuned Out

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    As I watched the big television screen broadcasting the focus group taking place in Charlotte, N.C., I was tempted to tweet about it. This is the modern instinct. I don't just mean for reporters. Everyone seems to have a couple of screens open all the time. March Madness is about to begin, and Twitter will be stuffed full of contemporaneous commentary about the games being played. This was the topic of the focus group—the changing way we all use technology. The moment I opened TweetDeck, the focus group moderator was going around the conference room table asking earnest participants whether they had ever used Twitter while they were watching something else. Had I tweeted about that question, it would have been a tweet written while watching someone televised talking about tweeting while watching other media. A meta-turducken. If I had taken a selfie while doing it, I might have won some kind of MacArthur genius award.

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