The Edge: Garden State Gamble

National Journal Staff

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Garden State Gamble

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last week, no politician found himself with a harder job than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

In 2012 he vetoed a bill that would have legalized gay marriage. Last week, he blasted the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling, decrying it as "judicial supremacy." But the 50-year-old governor has said that he'd abide by a ballot initiative that would let Garden State voters legalize same-sex marriage.

Christie should be careful what he wishes for. A ballot initiative would put New Jersey in the middle of the national fight over gay marriage, with the governor put in the awkward position of opposing the measure but supporting the outcome.

New Jerseyans support gay marriage by more than 2-to-1, according to a Quinnipiac poll, but the activists who pick 2016 Republican presidential nominees surely do not.

Matthew Cooper


IMMIGRATION BILL COULD MEAN BILLIONS FOR FEDERAL CONTRACTORS. If Congress passes the sweeping immigration-reform bill passed last week by the Senate, it could lead to billions of dollars in additional federal contracts for some defense and tech companies, The Hill reports. Among the government purchases included in the legislation are four new drone aircraft and 15 Blackhawk helicopters, as well as surveillance systems and night-vision goggles. The bulk of the spending is part of the $38 billion border-security amendment added to the Senate bill in an effort to boost Republican support. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., described the amendment as "a Christmas wish list for Halliburton." Read more

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took a huge gamble by pushing the immigration debate forward–and won, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes. Read more

EGYPT'S ARMY PLANNING TO SUSPEND CONSTITUTION, DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT. Egypt's military plans to suspend the constitution and get rid of the Islamist-controlled parliament if President Mohamed Morsi and his opponents fail to reach an agreement by Wednesday, Reuters reports. Plans are reportedly still being hashed out, but the armed forces are looking to end the political crisis that has led to millions of protesters flooding the streets and sporadic violence. Morsi's two spokesmen resigned Tuesday and a rival attorney general was reinstated by a court of appeals. Time continues to wind down on the military's 48-hour ultimatum issued Monday to Morsi, asking him to agree to share power with other political forces. Read more

  • The movement that has rallied millions of Egyptians began in a Cairo coffee shop, when five young activists started an effort to collect signatures and organize an anti-Morsi protest two months ago, The New York Times reports. Read more

WHY IS THE U.S. SO GOOD AT SNOOPING? THANK SILICON VALLEY. Edward Snowden's leak of top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs has made it clear the U.S. is the global leader in tracking and using digital data, the Associated Press reports. Silicon Valley has helped the U.S. become an unrivaled surveillance superpower that can collect and sift through troves of data collected by the world's top communications, social media, and online storage companies. The access provided, thanks to tech giants like Facebook and Google, sets American surveillance apart from rivals like China and Russia, with one expert saying: "It's as bad as reading your diary…. It's FAR WORSE than reading your diary." Read more

VENEZUELA MAY BE SNOWDEN'S NEW BEST OPTION. Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's quest for asylum isn't getting any easier, but he may have a friend in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the Associated Press reports. Maduro met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and said his country had not received an asylum application from Snowden, but he defended the fugitive: "He did not kill anyone and did not plant a bomb…. What he did was tell a great truth in an effort to prevent wars." Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's foreign minister met in Brunei on Tuesday and did their best to evade questions about Snowden a day after the fugitive broke his silence and accused the U.S. of blocking his asylum requests. Read more

  • With Snowden reportedly submitting asylum requests to more than 20 countries, The Wall Street Journal compiled a list, including each nation's public response. Read more

'VOTING WARS' WAGED IN NORTH CAROLINA AFTER SCOTUS RULING. Democrats and civil-rights advocates worried last week that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn a key section of the Voting Rights Act would lead to a new round of legislation designed to make voting more difficult for minorities. And if North Carolina Republicans go ahead with ambitious plans to rejigger voting rules, those worst fears could be realized sooner rather than later, Hotline's Reid Wilson writes. State Sen. Tom Apodaca is working on a package of election-law changes that would curb—perhaps end—early voting, Sunday voting, and same-day voter registration, the Los Angeles Timesreported this weekend. Simply put, cutting back on early-voting hours will negatively affect Democrats, and African-Americans would feel a disproportionate impact. Read more

KERRY MEETS WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO TALK SYRIA. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday and said the two countries are still working to make an international peace conference on Syria happen "sooner rather than later," The New York Times reports. Kerry said the planned Geneva gathering might not happen until September and that there are still differences of opinion about how the conference should proceed, although the two countries have "narrowed down some of the options." Previous disagreements have concerned the inclusion of Iran in the peace talks, which the U.S. opposes, and whether one unified delegation or multiple groups from the Syrian opposition should be invited. Read more

  • A 26-year-old Syrian "hacktivist" is helping to warn citizens about incoming missiles fired by the Syrian government, The Atlantic's Sonni Efron writes. Read more

OBAMA, BUSH HONOR EMBASSY-BOMBING VICTIMS IN TANZANIA. President Obama met with George W. Bush to lay a wreath at the site of the 1998 embassy bombing in Tanzania. The former president and Laura Bush are in Africa promoting their cancer-fighting initiative. "The presence of the Bushes is something that marks I think the bipartisan support for Africa that exists in the United States, and it's a very welcome symbol that they can be there at the same time," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said. The Obamas are now bound for Washington. Read more

ANTHONY WEINER'S WIFE MAKES FUNDRAISING PLEA TO FRIENDS. Huma Abedin sent an e-mail to a few hundred personal contacts Tuesday morning soliciting fundraising donations for her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., Politico reports. "You probably never thought you'd receive an e-mail like this from me, and I never imagined I would be sending a note to friends about a mayor's race," Abedin wrote. Abedin, a former adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has stepped further into the public arena recently to support Weiner's campaign for New York City mayor. Read more

  • Another mayoral hopeful, Republican former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, is asking women to come forward and share stories "about what it was like to be with [Weiner] and date him," the New York Post reports. Read more


"It's around the clock now. I'm not sleeping. I'm living on caffeine and adrenaline." –Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, on running for the Senate while still serving as mayor (BuzzFeed)


TEMPORARY WORKERS INCREASING—AND THESE ARE NO EASY JOBS. There were more than 2.7 million temp workers in May, ProPublica's Michael Grabell reports. In fact, one survey tagged one of every 10 workers as a temp. These workers can face a myriad of challenges, including uncertain hours and extra hurdles to attain unemployment benefits. On average, their earnings equal those of migrant farmworkers 50 years ago, adjusted for inflation—one man earned $4.62 an hour for more than 12 hours of work. As Grabell writes, "Instead of picking strawberries, tomatoes, and corn, the temp workers pack chocolates for Valentine's Day, barbecue grills for Memorial Day, turkey pans for Thanksgiving, clothing and toys for Christmas." Read more


WHERE WE LIVE. MIT Media Lab graduate student Brandon Martin-Anderson has created a map of North America using census data from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Each of the 454,064,098 people in North America is represented by a dot on the map. According to Martin-Anderson, the project offers "an image of human settlement patterns unmediated by proxies like city boundaries, arterial roads, state lines, &c." View it here


TRUTH IN ADVERTISING.BuzzFeed has compiled a gallery of "18 Horrifying Political Face Swaps." Highlights include the Obamas, the Romneys, "Billary," and "Old Paul Ryan, young Joe Biden." See it here

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