First Watch: Mega Millions winners, that Christmas video card, McCain can't escape Palin

12/18/2013 4:51 AM

12/18/2013 5:32 AM

The Senate is expected to pass the bipartisan budget deal today, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers are headed home for the holidays. There are still a handful of executive nominations waiting to be approved, and majority leader Harry Reid has threatened to keep legislators until Christmas Eve if Republicans don’t let the nods sail through.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been ordered by NASA to take three space walks to fix the station’s stricken cooling system. The walks will begin on Saturday morning, and will last six and a half hours each.

Winning tickets: Two were sold for the Mega Millions $636 million jackpot, one in California and one in Georgia. Twenty ticket buyers will win $1 million each. There was such a rush on picks Tuesday that "in Florida, $8,000 worth of tickets were sold every minute from 9 to 10 a.m.," reports CNN.

Winning videos:

  • 7 million people have watched this family Christmas video by Raleigh TV news anchor Penn Holderness, his wife and two kids.
  • Dr. Who and his companions perform a special version of "Baby, it's cold outside" about his Christmas regeneration.
  • This Charlie Brown Christmas classic is remixed into "Hey ya, Charlie Brown."
  • Winning roundup: As he leaves The Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg lists the top tech reviews of the last two decades.

    Today's long read: If you're interested in how politics is changing, make time for this in-depth New York Times magazine profile of Sen. John McCain by "This Town" author Mark Leibovich. (Excerpt below video)

    Friends of McCain’s say that his loss in ’08, and the ridicule he suffered in the wake of it, was traumatizing in itself. “John has had two defining events in his life,” Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, told me. “The first was his imprisonment, and the second was his failure to win the presidency.” ... “I think the biggest fear John has is not being relevant,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham told me. “He worried after he lost the election in 2008. He worried, O.K., I’m done, nobody wants to deal with a loser.” McCain has a favorite line, one of his hundreds, which he attributes to the late Texas senator John Tower: “Don’t let your coattails hit you in the ass,” Tower told him once. “Keep moving.” To McCain, “keep moving” is both a credo and a coping strategy, a balm of perpetual motion and high demand. ...

    McCain has always been unrestrained in his expressions of remorse. ... When it comes to [VP nominee Sarah] Palin, though, he fidgets slightly in his office chair and meets me with a defiant stare. He reaffirms his allegiance to Palin, saying that she was unfairly attacked in 2008 and that “the liberal-left feminists” felt threatened by her. “Look, it’s been five years,” McCain says. “Can’t we move on?”

    Sure, except that Ted Cruz, whose upset win in the Texas Republican primary last year was propelled by the former Alaska governor’s endorsement, has not been shy about announcing to the world that “I would not be in the U.S. Senate today if it were not for Sarah Palin.” McCain is sick of talking about Cruz. “We have a cordial relationship,” he insists, which in the Google translation of political code is something between abject disgust and minimal tolerance.

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