UPDATE: Christie camp held Sandy relief money hostage, mayor alleges via Steve Kornacki.Reuters:
A federal judge on Friday struck down a 2011 North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and explain it to a woman before having an abortion, arguing it violated the constitutional right to free speech of doctors.Rick Hasan:
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles found that a state does not have "the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state's ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term."
This is a clear victory for opponents of voter id laws, with a finding that the implementation of the voter id law violated the law’s own promise of liberal access to voter id, that the implementation exceeded the agency’s authority to administer the program, that the voter education efforts were woefully inadequate, and that as a whole the Pa. voter id program violated the Pa. constitutional’s fundamental right to vote. In this regard, it is important to note that the court rejected Pa’s argument that the law was aimed at preventing voter fraud. The judge found that the state presented no evidence the law was necessary either to prevent fraud or to keep public confidence in the fairness of the election process.But there's more, not all of it anti-voter ID, and you owe it to yourself to read it all.
More politics and policy below the fold.
The Senate intelligence committee made headlines this week by reporting that the 2012 attack in Benghazi was preventable. But frankly, we knew that. The deeper message of the bipartisan report was that Republicans in Congress wasted a year arguing about what turned out to be mostly phony issues.Jeff Smith:
What these pundits forget—and, as Christie, a former U.S. attorney, knows as well as anyone—is the old saw that federal prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. They don’t need a bulletproof case. And once they have a target, they aren’t limited to investigating the matter that caught their attention; public corruption probes often widen as new information emerges. Federal prosecutors rarely have just one attack route. Remember, they brought down Al Capone for income tax evasion, not bribery, bootlegging, or murder. The Fort Lee incident may be merely a bridge, if you will, to other Christie administration misconduct. As a former target of a federal investigation that started in one place and ended in a very different one, I’m all too familiar with the unpredictable directions in which these things can go. What piques a prosecutor’s interest during plea negotiations may be totally unrelated to the original crime.Ken Vogel:
Rom-denfreude (noun) — The pleasure Mitt Romney loyalists are taking in the struggles of Chris Christie.McKay Coppins:
The condition is prevalent, stemming from a range of perceived Christie slights towards Romney during the 2012 campaign, which several Romney loyalists ticked off quickly — and with still-evident bitterness.
A Republican operative at a large super PAC used the same metaphor — a favorite among political observers at the moment — to describe the unease in the party.WSJ:
“Everyone thinks there’s probably a 60% chance the other shoe will drop,” said the operative, who like many of the people quoted in this story, requested anonymity to speak freely about a situation that is still evolving. “When I saw the press conference, I said, I don’t think he’s lying… But for the deputy chief of staff to do something like that requires a culture in the office that he would have set, and it probably requires other examples that would have made her feel like that was acceptable to do.”
He added, “My gut is that they’ll probably find something else.”
Health Markets Inc., an insurance agency that enrolled around 7,500 people in exchange plans, said 65% of its enrollees had prior coverage. Around 10% were dropping out of employer coverage, either because the employer stopped offering its plan or because they could qualify for subsidies on the marketplaces. Fifteen percent had previous individual plans canceled, and 40% decided to switch into coverage bought through an exchange from previous individual plans.It's interesting, though it's very preliminary, and open enrollment is barely halfway done. But it's the WSJ, so it's worrisome because all WSJ stories about Obamacare show "worrisome" results. Contrast that with Wellpoint and Aetna. And also Don’t believe the hype: Health insurers think Obamacare is going to be fine.
At Michigan-based Priority Health, only 25% of more than 1,000 enrollees surveyed in plans that comply with the law were previously uninsured, said Joan Budden, chief marketing officer.
The trend underscores a central test for the health law, whose marketplaces are meant to steer a broad cross section of new paying customers to private insurers.
New York City’s top elected officials said on Friday that they would greatly expand the reach of a measure mandating paid time off for sick workers, a cherished cause of the national left that had long been resisted by local business leaders.NY Times:
Keeping Grip on Digital Pipeline, Obama Fails to Assure Industry
While President Obama bolstered some protections for citizens, he did nothing, at least yet, to address the data security concerns of American technology companies.