Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: In Dallas, President Obama ... sought to pressure Gov. Rick Perry to expand Medicaid in Texas, the largest of the Republican-led states that have refused to participate in his Affordable Care Act.... 'There's no state that actually needs this more than Texas,' Mr. Obama said [to a group of ACA volunteers]. 'Here in just the Dallas area, 133,000 people who don't currently have health insurance would immediate get health insurance without even having to go through the website' if Texas would just expand Medicaid. He noted that neighboring states have taken action because 'this is a no-brainer.' Arkansas, he said, cut the number of uninsured by 14 percent in the last month by expanding Medicaid." ...
... Nedra Pickler of the AP: President "Obama invited Senate Democrats facing re-election next year to the White House to discuss the problem-plagued health care rollout that could affect their races. The White House confirmed Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with 16 senators to describe fixes that are being made to the website for Americans to sign up for insurance under his signature health care law." ...
... Justin Sink of the Hill: "In a meeting at the White House, Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough asked insurance executives to explain to customers who are losing their plans what new options are available under ObamaCare and what new subsidies they might qualify for." ...
... Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Wednesday that the government needed to fix hundreds of problems with the website for the federal health insurance marketplace, but she categorically rejected bipartisan calls to delay parts of the new health care law. She made her comments at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee hours after the Obama administration disclosed that the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [Tony Trenkle] would retire. His office supervised the creation of the troubled website." ...
... Sam Hananel of the AP: "The Obama administration appears ready to give some labor unions a break from costly fees under the new health care law, a move that drew criticism from Republicans who say it unfairly favors a key White House ally. In regulations published last week, the administration said it intends to propose rules that would exempt 'certain self-insured, self-administered plans' from the requirement to pay the fees in 2015 and 2016." ...
... Don't give up on Stewart. Watch the whole segment:
... Brian Beutler of Salon: In the Virginia gubernatorial election, Ken "Cuccinelli's anti-women positions were far more disqualifying than [Terry] McAuliffe's pro-healthcare stance," but Republicans have a need to blame ObamaCare for everything. "It was fun ... witnessing the various ways Republicans across the spectrum are contorting themselves to argue that Obamacare was the one thing preventing Terry McAuliffe -- World's Most Likable Democrat™ -- from winning an off-year landslide in a statewide race in Virginia." ...
... A Reality Chek from Paul Waldman: "Things could hardly have gone worse [for the ACA] in this stage of the rollout, and guess what: Americans' opinions about the law are, by all indications, exactly what they were before.... I think Republicans haven't been able to translate the problems of the last month into a change in opinion because their warnings were so apocalyptic that even what has gone wrong hasn't lived up to their hype. They used to say, 'This law will destroy every last shred of our freedom!' and now they're saying, 'The website should be working better!'" ...
... Matt Miller in the Washington Post: "Politicians and pundits who bash Obamacare should have displayed under their talking head or byline the source of their own coverage. Let's caption Ted Cruz in flashing neon that reads, 'Enjoys Gold-Plated Health Coverage from Goldman Sachs Spousal Plan.' Let's have the subtitles for John Boehner and Eric Cantor read, 'Has Never Worried About Going Broke From Illness A Day in His Life Thanks To Federal Government Insurance.' And let Obamacare supporters begin their response to absurd claims that 'Obamacare is the enemy' with this simple line: 'Spoken like a Very Well-Insured Person.'" ...
... Dana Milbank: Senators demonstrate how to govern by anecdote. "Using props to make policy may be unreliable, but it's apparently irresistible."
Cash & Slash. Billionaires v. Hungry Kids. Billionaires Win. Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "The federal government paid $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies from 1995 to 2012 to 50 billionaires or businesses in which they have some form of ownership, according to a report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based research organization.... The Working Group said its findings were likely to underestimate the total farm subsidies that went to the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list because many of them also received crop insurance subsidies. Federal law prohibits the disclosure of the names of individuals who get crop insurance subsidies, the group said. The report is being issued as members of the House and Senate are meeting to come up with a new five-year farm bill." (CW: Why are crop subsidies doled out in secret? Taxpayers have a right to know which millionaires & billionaires they're subsidizing.) ...
... David Dayen of the American Prospect writes that Democrats are as much to blame for the food stamp crisis as are Republicans. They've been treating the program like an open cookie jar since President Obama took office. ...
... Susan Heavey of Reuters: "The number of poor people in the United States held steady at nearly 50 million last year, but government programs appear to have lessened the impact, especially on children and the elderly, federal data released on Wednesday showed. The Census Bureau, using an alternative measure to the government's main poverty gauge, said the figure was virtually unchanged from a year earlier with the overall poverty rate stuck at 16 percent."
... Here's the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial that Maddow cites. The editors do concede their U.S. Senator is "not a thief in the sense of Clyde Barrow or Willie Sutton...." ...
... The Plagiarist Is Holier than Christ(ie). Arlette Saenz of ABC News: "During a Senate committee hearing on post-Sandy recovery efforts, [Sen. Rand] Paul asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan whether it was appropriate to use federal relief funds for television ads, a clear jab at the New Jersey Republican [Gov. Chris Christie ]who starred in ads touting the Jersey Shore":
Some of these ads, people running for office put their their mug all over these ads while they're in the middle of a political campaign. In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office. Do ya think there might be a conflict of interest there? That's a real problem. And that's why when people who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayers' money wisely, they're offended to see our money spent on political ads.
Joan Biskupic of Reuters: "When the U.S. Supreme Court talks about religion, all hell breaks loose. A dispute over an upstate New York town's prayer before council meetings produced an unusually testy oral-argument session on Wednesday that recalled the decades of difficulty Supreme Court justices have had drawing the line between church and state.... Overall, the justices' remarks were more pessimistic than positive regarding a possible consensus. They voiced frustration with the lawyers who appeared before them and with each other as well." ...
... Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog has an excellent recap of the arguments in the case.
Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract.... AT&T has a history of working with the government."
Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "National Security Council officials are scheduled to meet soon to discuss the issue of separating the leadership of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, a shift that some officials say would help avoid an undue concentration of power in one individual and separate entities with two fundamentally different missions: spying and conducting military attacks. The administration is also discussing whether the NSA should be led by a civilian."
AFP: "A group of lawyers, journalists and privacy advocates in the Netherlands is taking the government to court to prevent Dutch intelligence using phone data illegally acquired by the US National Security Agency. Five individuals, among them a prominent investigative journalist and a well-known hacker, and four organisations filed the case before The Hague district court on Wednesday, according to their lawyer...."
Brian Fung of the Washington Post: commercial cable companies spend big bucks & use a variety of techniques to prevent municipalities from installing public fiberoptics communications systems.
As contributor Diane pointed out yesterday, I plumb forgot MoDo & the Bobbleheaded Twins. In this episode, MoDo & the Boys remark on the Obama clan's mistreatment of Loyal Uncle Joe. Stay tuned. There is sure to be another chapter. ...
... MEANWHILE, Charles Pierce (again, thanks to Diane) plots to confiscate MoDo's remote. AND he is sure he'll enjoy the well-wrought urn that is Double Down. (I'd recommend he down a double first.)
Election Returns 2013
Jeremy Peters & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Leaders of the Republican establishment, alarmed by the emergence of far-right and often unpredictable Tea Party candidates, are pushing their party to rethink how it chooses nominees and advocating changes they say would result in the selection of less extreme contenders. The party leaders pushing for changes want to replace state caucuses and conventions, like the one that nominated [Ken] Cuccinelli, with a more open primary system that they believe will draw a broader cross-section of Republicans and produce more moderate candidates. Similar pushes are already underway in other states, including Montana and Utah, and last week Mitt Romney said Republicans should consider how to overhaul their presidential nominating process to attract a wider range of voters." ...
... CW: No use being "alarmed" by the quality of your candidates while John Boehner & Mitch McConnell cater to the every whim of the winners, at the expense of the nation and of the party.
... Marc Fisher & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "If lessons emerged from Tuesday's vote, they were almost instantly lost in the volley of finger-pointing that began even before the polls closed. Republican Ken Cuccinelli II's narrow loss, despite what opinion surveys had consistently called a comfortable lead for [Terry] McAuliffe, left the candidate's camp accusing national party organizations of abandoning their man in the closest major race in the nation this year. Party officials said it was Cuccinelli who had failed to raise money from mainstream Republican sources skeptical of his hard-line rhetoric and uncompromising conservatism."
Julie Davis & John McCormick of Bloomberg News: "Republicans cite their 2.5-point defeat in the Virginia governor's race as proof that Ken Cuccinelli would have reversed his fortunes if he'd hammered earlier and longer on Obamacare.... Democrats argue Terry McAuliffe's narrow Nov. 5 victory amid a glitch-plagued rollout of the insurance program shows they can navigate politically around public opposition to the law.... Geoff Garin, McAuliffe's lead polling expert, said in the closing days of the race that Cuccinelli's focus on the health-care measure had 'actually been counterproductive,' even with voters who disapproved of the law. It solidified their view that he was an ideological candidate with a national agenda that had nothing to do with Virginia, said Garin."
Frank Rich on "the National Circus": "... if you tune in to the unofficial headquarters of the Christie '16 campaign, Morning Joe at MSNBC, [Chris] Christie is not only the front-runner, he's his party's savior, and is within a step of two of measuring the drapes for the White House." Unless the GOP bosses scrap all the primaries, which they won't, the real race, Rich says, is between Tailgunner Ted & Li'l "Genuine Hair" Randy.
Maya Rhodan of Time: "Who won this election cycle? Union leaders say they did. Across the country, candidates backed by unions triumphed over their counterparts, while ballot measures broke in favor of the unions that had campaigned for them as well."
Rick Lyman of the New York Times: election watchers on both sides of the Texas voter ID controversy say the law had little effect at the polls Tuesday. CW: But halfway through the story, Lyman lets the Texas League of Women Voters make the obvious point: "... voters who do not have the proper documentation at all ... might stay away from the polls altogether as a result." If you know you don't have proper ID to vote & can't afford or don't have time to obtain it, you're going to stay home. There is no way to guess how many Texans made that "choice."
Gail Collins discusses Tuesday's results, with only 790 days to go till the Iowa caucuses.
Driftglass: "... Chris Christie is 'centristy' when compared to the rest of the Teabagger Legion of Doom only in the same sense that a cinderblock is 'edible' when compared to a stick of dynamite, so why pretend otherwise?"
Blue Texas Pipe Dreams. Steve M. of NMMNB: "Public Policy Polling conducts a survey on the 2014 Texas Senate race and finds that if GOP incumbent John Cornyn loses a primary, Republicans could hold the seat even if Cornyn's replacement on the ticket is ... Louie Gohmert.... Julian Castro, rising star and potential Democratic VP candidate, loses by 9 points in his home state to Louie freaking Gohmert.... If Louie freaking Gohmert runs that well statewide, do yourself a favor and don't bet the rent money on Wendy Davis winning the governorship. Or on a Democrat winning any statewide race in Texas in the next twenty years."
Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia's changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party's 12-year grip on the state's highest office. Carter's decision, which he announced Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor's Mansion before winning the presidency."
Amel Ahmed of Al Jazeera: "Following Al Jazeera America's exclusive report on Oct. 30 revealing that California state Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello) is the subject of a federal investigation for having solicited bribes, California's Democratic majority leader asked the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday to strip Calderon of all his committee assignments pending the outcome of the investigation."
AFP: "In a landmark move, US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Geneva Friday to join nuclear talks with US arch-foe Iran, fuelling hopes a historic deal may be in sight."
New York Times: "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed measures that would all but eliminate artificial trans fats, the artery clogging substance that is a major contributor to heart disease in the United States, from the food supply."
New York Times: "On its inaugural day of trading, Twitter managed to avoid the missteps that marred Facebook's initial public offering last year, even as Twitter's lofty stock market valuation added pressure on the company to turn a profit soon."
New York Times: "In a surprise choice that bodes poorly for proposed peace talks, the Pakistani Taliban on Thursday appointed as their new leader the hard-line commander [Mullah Fazlullah, who is] responsible for last year's attack on Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani education activist."
Being an Ex-King Is a Bummer. AFP: "Belgium's government ruled out any increase Thursday in the 923,000-euro allowance paid to King Albert II since his July abdication, despite reports he sees it as too little to live on." Also, he has to pay taxes. Also, a natural daughter filed suit to be officially recognized. Just rough all around.
Washington Post: "Federal prosecutors arrested a third senior Navy official in a widening bribery scandal Wednesday, charging that he delivered classified and other sensitive information to a major defense contractor in exchange for prostitutes, luxury travel and more than $100,000 in cash. Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa on charges that he gave classified information about ship movements to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based contractor that has resupplied and serviced Navy ships and submarines in the Pacific for a quarter-century."
AP: "Pakistan has freed former President Pervez Musharraf from his months-long house arrest, days after he received bail in a case related to the death of a radical cleric...."