Quote of the Day

“If you had told most Democrats in 2010 that by the time the 2014 election rolled around Obamacare would have rolled out with lower premiums and higher enrollment than anyone projected they would have been thrilled. They knew when they passed the law that it was going to be a political loser in the 2010 election but they figured that if they could just get it up-and-running — and insuring millions of people — it would be a winner in future elections. And perhaps it will be. But the definition of ‘future’ keeps getting pushed out. Obamacare is working, but not for Democrats.”

Ezra Klein, Vox

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The Party Who Cried Wolf

It seems to me that the VA scandal — which is a real scandal — would have a lot more oomph and impact if the GOP hadn’t wasted (and continues to waste) so much energy and outrage on phony scandals like Benghazi and the IRS.

They’ve squandered a lot of credibility and induced scandal fatigue because so many Americans believe that anything the Republicans get worked about stems from their visceral hatred of the Kenyan Muslim socialist.

He’s With Stupid

Running for Senate in his new home state of New Hampshire, where Obamacare has achieved more than 200% of its goal for signups, Scott “Empty Barn Jacket” Brown says he will repeal Obamacare, but the people who have signed up can keep it.  Obviously, it is stupid to promise people they will have Obamacare when Obamacare no longer exists.

But now Mitch McConnell is promising the same thing in Kentucky, where almost half a million people have signed up.  McConnell says the state’s exchange has nothing to do with Obamacare.  But of course if Obamacare goes, so goes the federal exchange and all the state exchanges.

Can the Dems Keep the Senate?

Leo, the NYT computer model for Senate races, currently gives Dems a 56% chance of keeping their majority.

Leo really doesn’t like Scott Brown.  He [It?] gives Brown only a 3% chance of beating Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.

As the election season draaaags on, it will be interesting to compare Josh Katz and his Leo with Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight.

After Snowden, We Get Snow Job

The House passed the USA FREEDOM Act today, which is supposed to fix the PATRIOT Act and rein in the NSA, but falls far short of what we need to get our rights back.  The vote was 303-121, with 179 Republicans and 124 Democrats in favor.  The bill now goes to the Senate, but I doubt it will get fixed enough to keep this from being a huge wasted opportunity to restore our privacy.

Here’s James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), the chief sponsor of the bill:  “Let me be clear:  I wish this bill did more.  To my colleagues who lament the changes, I agree with you.  The privacy groups who are upset about lost provisions, I share your disappointment.”

Here’s Zoe Logren (D-California), who supported the bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee, but voted against the final bill:  “This is not the bill that was voted out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously.  Regrettably, we have learned that if we leave any ambiguity in the law [on bulk data collection], the intelligence agency will run a truck through that ambiguity.”

Companies like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and Facebook had supported the original bill, but did not support the final version, believing that it contains a loophole for government surveillance of our Internet data.

The bill also dropped the provision creating an independent public advocate at the FISA court.  It removed provisions about public reports from the government about its targeting activity and FISA court requests.

The bill requires phone companies to keep records for 18 months, with the NSA having to get a court order to access those records.