NY Times on an important development:
President Obama plans to open a new phase in the nation’s long struggle with terrorism on Thursday by restricting the use of unmanned drone strikes that have been at the heart of his national security strategy and shifting control of them away from the C.I.A. to the military.Jill Lawrence:
Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for Public Opinion to Turn Against ObamaPew breaks down the polls in a really excellent read:
The president has a base of loyalists that won't quit and, at least for now, there's no evidence he was involved in any scandals.
Polling when public attention is limited: Different questions, different resultsMore politics and policy below the fold.
When three different polling organizations conducted surveys last weekend to gauge public reaction to the news about the Department of Justice’s subpoenas of reporters’ phone records, their findings were quite different – a case study in the challenges pollsters face in a breaking news environment when public attention and information is relatively limited.
While the Pew Research Center, CNN/ORC and Washington Post/ABC News pollsters all took a similar approach in asking whether people felt the Department of Justice was right or wrong to subpoena the Associated Press reporters’ phone records, there were multiple differences in the phrasing, structure and context of the questions that help to explain the different findings.
When Citizens United came down, bingo—no more serious restrictions in the 60 days before the election.Best IRS journo story to date on what actually happened from WaPo (aka when doing the right thing everywhere else—not interfering with a probe— looks bad in DC because an IRS official wants to CYA):
However, the 501(c)(4) loophole is not supposed to be as wide and deep as it has become. There are two types of 501(c)(4)s—those that are genuine social-welfare organizations that also do some lobbying or direct policy-advocacy work, and a relatively small group that were set up to subvert or evade disclosure laws and requirements so that donors could pour in money to shape and influence elections anonymously. It is the latter group that the IRS has had trouble with—and that was behind the efforts to single out highly charged categories.
The law says 501(c)(4)s have to be “exclusively” involved in social welfare. Ridiculously, inexplicably, the IRS regulations changed “exclusively” to “primarily,” never specifically defined the term, and then passively accepted the rough rule of thumb proposed by pols and lawyers that anything over 50 percent of the money expended would qualify. Into this huge loophole rode Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads, a political organization that required donor disclosure, established in 2010 a sister, Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4), explicitly to court donors for political campaigns who did not want their identities disclosed.
The idea that Crossroads GPS, or the American Action Network, or Priorities USA, or a host of other organizations engaged in partisan campaigning on both sides are “social welfare organizations” is nonsense. Bloomberg’s Julie Bykowicz recently pointed to another example to show the farce here. Patriot Majority USA, run by a Democratic operative, told the IRS its mission was “to encourage a discussion of economic issues.” It spent $7.5 million in ads attacking Republican candidates in 2012—and then virtually disappeared, with Bykowicz unable to reach the group by e-mail or phone. “Social welfare?”
In the IRS case, many prominent Washington lawyers say Ruemmler made the sensible legal call. She protected her client — Obama — by distancing him from a politically sensitive problem and ensuring that he could not be accused of meddling in an inquiry....See David Petraeus and Benghazi.
But Ruemmler and McDonough’s careful plan for the IRS was upended on May 10, when Lois Lerner, a senior official at the agency, broke the news by admitting that the IRS had given extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Senior White House officials were stunned to see the IRS trying to get ahead of its own story — and in doing so, creating a monstrous communications disaster for an administration that appeared not to know what its agencies were up to.
As you know, Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee last night yanked provisions out of the immigration reform bill that would extend immigration rights to gay married couples, angering the gay rights community.Gail Collins:
But this battle is not necessarily over. What comes next could get quite interesting from a strategic and political standpoint.
Whenever the world of Washington seems hopeless, someone will point out that the Senate Judiciary Committee did a good job on immigration reform.The plusses and minuses of "smart guns":
That’s it? Yeah, pretty much.
The future of firearms is here. It looks a lot like a video game.
TrackingPoint, a startup tech company in Austin, Tex., has just started selling the most advanced long-distance rifle available on the civilian market. The weapon incorporates laser and computer technology, as well as a three-dimensional color graphics display, to allow even a novice shooter to hit moving targets at 500 yards (five football fields) or farther. Its Wi-Fi transmitter permits the user to stream live video and audio to an iPad (AAPL) and post impressive kill shots on Facebook (FB) or YouTube (GOOG).