Princeton Election Consortium Gives Democrats 70% Probability of Retaining Senate

Today Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium gives Democrats a 70% probability of retaining control of the Senate. Wang suggests that one reason his model favors Democrats more than many mainstream media predictions is that he uses only polling data, and does not attempt to factor in "fundamentals," such as economic factors, etc.

McConnell Reveals Shutdown Plans at Secret Billionaire Conference


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was caught on tape by The Nation explaining to a secret conference of billionaires organized by the Koch brothers that he plans to use the appropriations process to prevent action by the executive branch. If the GOP wins the Senate this year, McConnell promises to attach riders to appropriations bills limiting how the funds can be spent, in an attempt to curtail the actions of government departments and agencies.

In GOP States That Opted Out of ACA and Medicaid Expansion, Thousands Left Without Insurance (TPM) highlights Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol's analysis of the effect of state adoption of the Affordable Care Act on the number of people insured.

States that chose not to set up their own insurance exchanges or opted out of Medicaid expansion "are putting all their lower income residents at risk ... not just by refusing to expand Medicaid but also, in many cases, by failing to help people get subsidized private coverage through the exchange."

Affordable Care Act

Talking Points Memo digs into the semantics of What Really Happens To People Whose Insurance Is 'Canceled' Because Of Obamacare, and finds that "Almost all of them are going to receive the same or much better coverage, and many of them are going to receive financial help to purchase it."

Politico reports on the carefully planned campaign by Republicans to sabotage the Affordable Care Act at every step.

GOP Extremists Threaten Economy and Nation

James Fallows spells out as clearly as I've seen anywhere how the current dysfunction in Washington is the result of a fight within the Republican party over whether compromise itself is legitimate.

David Frum predicts that a government shutdown will hurt the GOP because (1) Obama will not destroy the Affordable Care Act, (2) Rejoicing in some Republican quarters at the prospect of a shutdown will make it impossible to blame Democrats in Congress or the administration, and (3) Because of items (1) and (2), Frum predicts Republicans will be forced to retreat, and the attendant de-motivation of extremists will reduce chances of electoral gains in 2014.

Andrew Sullivan: "Meep, Meep !@#$%^&*()!"

Andrew Sullivan, who has consistently avoided the mindless Obama-bashing lately prevalent in the press on the left and the right, has this to say, today:

Obama has managed to insist on his red line on Syria’s chemical weapons, forcing the world to grapple with a new breach of international law, while also avoiding being dragged into Syria’s civil war. But he has also strengthened the impression that he will risk a great deal to stop the advance of WMDs (which presumably includes Iran’s nukes). After all, his announcement of an intent to strike Assad was a real risk to him and to the US. Now, there’s a chance that he can use that basic understanding of his Syria policy – and existing agreement on chemical weapons – to forge a potential grand bargain with Iran’s regime. If that is the eventual end-game, it would be historic.

Read the whole post here.

Whither the GOP?


The Washington Post's Dan Balz, whose commentary I usually find stodgy, posted a piece on August 3 titled "Which direction for the divided GOP?." Echoing analyses that have been widely heard since last year's election, Balz'z piece is subtitled "Splits likely to persist."

Balz cites a recent Pew Research poll that asked Republicans about their party. The poll found little agreement, other than that the party must address major problems if it is to do better in future presidential elections. But 54 percent thought that meant taking a more conservative direction, while 40 percent wanted moderation. There was even less agreement on tactics, with about one third saying congressional Republicans had compromised too much, one third saying the tactics were about right, and one quarter calling for greater compromise with Democrats.

Emerging Consensus That IRS Scrutiny of Nonprofit Applications Not Political


In an article titled "I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political", NY Times reporter Jonathan Weisman recaps the recent history of IRS review of applications for nonprofit status, and finds that the issue was "less about ideology," and more about the difficulty of applying one set of standards across applications from organizations whose purposes range from deveoping open-source software, to helping musicians obtain Internet access, to political advocacy.

Jeffrey Toobin: NSA Leaker "Narcissist Who Deserves to Be In Prison"

As a sometime IT tech myself, I'm with Jeffrey Toobin on the matter of self-revealed NSA leaker Edward Snowden. In his New Yorker piece titled "Edward Snowden Is No Hero" Toobin observes:

Any marginally attentive citizen, much less N.S.A. employee or contractor, knows that the entire mission of the agency is to intercept electronic communications. Perhaps he thought that the N.S.A. operated only outside the United States; in that case, he hadn’t been paying very close attention. In any event, Snowden decided that he does not “want to live in a society” that intercepts private communications. His latter-day conversion is dubious.

The Real Scandal Is Political Groups Abusing Nonprofit Status

The hue and cry that applications for nonprofit status from conservative political groups may have received extra scrutiny from the IRS is obscuring the real scandal: political groups masquerading as nonprofits to avoid having to disclose their donors. Here's an excerpt from a story from February 2012:

501(c)(4) non-profits are limited in how much they can participate in electoral or partisan politics. According to the IRS, "political intervention" cannot be their "primary activity," which has been construed to mean that no more than half of their staff time or financial resources can be directed towards political endeavors (depending on how they report to the IRS).

The IRS rules on what constitutes "political intervention" are murky and rarely enforced, and groups like [Karl Rove's] GPS have been involved in a significant amount of activities that would reasonably be considered "political."

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