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E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post discusses The Hillary difference:

There are two majorities in the country right now. One disapproves of President Obama. The other is still inclined to vote Democratic. The key question for the 2014 elections is whether voting this fall—and Obama’s approval ratings—can come into line with the electorate’s broader Democratic leanings.

There is also this: Obama’s difficulties do not appear to be hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency in 2016. [...]

Paul Krugman at The New York Times explains the latest in Republican chicanery in Inventing a Failure:
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority of Americans know that more than eight million people enrolled in health exchanges; but it also found a majority of respondents believing that this was below expectations, and that the law was working badly.

So Republicans are spreading disinformation about health reform because it works, and because they can — there is no sign that they pay any political price when their accusations are proved false.

And that observation should scare you. What happens to the Congressional Budget Office if a party that has learned that lying about numbers works takes full control of Congress? What happens if it regains the White House, too? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

You can read additional pundit excerpts below the fold.
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Frank Bruni at The New York Times goes for a deep lament about the national mood in America the Shrunken:

More and more I get the sense that we’ve lost it, and by “it” I mean the optimism that was always the lifeblood of this luminous experiment, the ambition that has been its foundation, the swagger that made us so envied and emulated and reviled.

We’re walking small. And that shift in our gait and our gumption has been palpable for many years, during an unusually sustained period of frustration that has the feel of something more than a temporary dive: a turned corner, the downward arc of a diminished enterprise. [...]

American bridges crumble. American trains crawl. American flights leave from terminals that pale next to many Asian and European counterparts. Joe Biden acknowledged as much three months ago when he compared La Guardia Airport to a third-world country. I’ve been to La Guardia and I’ve been to Guatemala, and if I were Guatemala, I’d sue for defamation.

Katha Pollitt at The Nation Will Ireland Lift Its Draconian Abortion Ban?
Here’s one way to look at abortion in Ireland: it doesn’t happen, and it doesn’t need to happen, because women can easily take a cheap flight to England and end their pregnancies there.

Here’s another way to look at abortion in Ireland: the penalty for self-abortion is up to fourteen years; the penalty in a recent high-profile Cork rape case was seven years. In other words, a woman who takes an abortion pill she buys illegally on the Internet after being impregnated in a sexual assault could face twice as much prison time—or more—as her rapist. [...]

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, when I visited Dublin in March, the pro-choice activists I interviewed were cautiously hopeful.

Sady Doyle at In These Times offers her take on Mainsplaining, Explained:
The term ["Mansplaining," which caught fire in the late-’00s feminist blogosphere, describes a particularly irritating form of sexist micro-aggression: namely, a man explaining a topic of conversation to a woman who a) has already demonstrated adequate knowledge of that topic; b) could reasonably be presumed to know about that topic; and/or c) could reasonably be presumed to know much more about that topic than he does, because she is an expert in the field. Once coined, the term spread into the mainstream so quickly and thoroughly that in 2010, “mansplainer” landed on The New York Times’ “words of the year” list.

Efforts to establish a definitive lineage for the term tend to run afoul of the fact that it seemed, like many great ideas, to crop up in multiple places at the same time—but one common reference point is author and activist Rebecca Solnit’s 2008 essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” originally published at TomDispatch.com.

Solnit had fallen victim to the third variety of mansplaining: After Solnit introduced herself as the writer of a book on the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, the man she was speaking to began to tell her about a book on Eadweard Muybridge she ought to read. As it turned out, the book he was hectoring Solnit to read was in fact the book she herself had written—a fact he had to be informed of three or four times before he stopped lecturing at her. Even after Solnit told the man she’d published a book on Muybridge, he couldn’t believe she’d published that book on Muybridge.

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times is critical in his low-key way of President Obama in his column, What Americans really want in a foreign policy:
Obama's initial foreign policy of engagement fell short. The world turned out to be a harsher place than he'd hoped. But the problem now is that the president hasn't laid out a clear new strategy in place of the outmoded old one.

Now that engagement has faltered, the strongest message of U.S. foreign policy is one of disengagement, and not only from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has been eloquent about the things he doesn't want to do: get sucked into Syria, send troops or military supplies to Ukraine. But what does he want to do? That's not as clear.

Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com writes Donald Sterling, Ritual Scapegoat:
I’m not defending Sterling in the slightest by saying that this saga does not in fact show America at its best, and does not demonstrate how far we have come and what enlightened attitudes we now hold. It demonstrates something entirely different: Our eagerness to be distracted by symbolic narratives that embody a lot less meaning than they seem to, rather than confronting conditions of genuine social crisis and economic contradiction. We love the Sterling drama precisely because it’s a great story, with undertones of 18th-century comic opera: The aging lecher, representative of the ancien régime, who throws over his wife for the younger mistress, who turns out to be a complicated character possessed of her own agenda; the private utterance (in French farce it would be a letter) whose revelation strips the ancient troglodyte of his power and reduces him to bathos. All that’s needed is the Figaro, the younger lover with a democratic spirit who sweeps up the girl and sets everything right. That would be us.
Brendan Fischer and Lisa Graves at The Progressive show in Meet the Multimillionaire Squeezing Missouri's Schools that the Koch brothers aren't the only ultra-wealthy Americans working to destroy civil society:
Unlike the Koch Brothers, who made their money the old-fashioned way, by inheriting it, Rex Sinquefield is a self-made man, who earned a fortune in the stock market by investing in index funds.

He's a major funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and he has also bankrolled the Club for Growth. [...]

Sinquefield is doing to Missouri what the Koch Brothers are doing to the entire country. For the Koch Brothers and Sinquefield, a lot of the action these days is not at the national but at the state level.

By examining what Sinquefield is up to in Missouri, you get a sobering glimpse of how the wealthiest conservatives are conducting a low-profile campaign to destroy civil society. [...]

His anti-tax, anti-labor, and anti- public-education views are common fare on the right. But what sets Sinquefield apart is the systematic way he has used his millions to try to push his private agenda down the throats of the citizens of Missouri.

Danielle Cadet at the Huffington Post's Black Voices writes Americans Need People Like Donald Sterling And Cliven Bundy:
People like Sterling and Bundy are the boogie men who perpetuate the only sort of racism most people are willing to admit still exists. They make white people feel safe because white people can look at them and say "I'm not a racist, because I'm not like that." And they give black people gratification because black people can point to them and say "And you white people think we live in a post-racial society." Sterling and Bundy restore world order around America's idea of what racism is supposed to look like. [...]

While both these men should be admonished for their remarks and their behavior, and while it's beautiful to watch society unite against the forces of evil, we cannot ignore the fact that racism happens everyday, and it's rarely acknowledged in mainstream media. Racism doesn't have to be someone saying "black people were better off as slaves," or not wanting black people at their games. It could be housing discrimination—an offense Sterling has ironically been accused of in the past. It could be the reason why African-American males are more likely to have encounters with law enforcement and are three times more likely to be searched during traffic stops than white motorists. It could be the cause of the glaring racial disparities in school disciplinary practices.

Racism isn't a big bad boogie man that everyone can see. It's a silent killer like cancer that most people never see coming, or simply choose to ignore.

Gary Younge at The Guardian writes Tighter gun control won't stop the violence on its own:
[I]t is that the very dystopia the NRA insists it's resisting is the one it's actively creating. Its response to gun violence is to call for people to be armed so they can shoot criminals who might not have guns if the NRA didn't stonewall basic gun control efforts. Like the apocryphal teenager who murders his parents and then asks for the court's mercy because he's an orphan, the NRA's "solutions" stem from a problem for which it is largely responsible. [...]

So long as the debate about gun violence limits itself to gun ownership alone it risks being suspended in this morbid circular logic with broad appeal and limited plausibility. Chicago, gun lobbyists point out, has some of the strictest gun legislation in the country. What they don't say is that between 2008 and 2012 almost one in five guns recovered in crimes within a year of purchase were bought at one gun shop just out of the city limits. Polls consistently show that Americans favour universal background checks for gun sales. Research shows that states with stricter gun controls have fewer gun-related deaths.

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