Happy Hour Roundup

* The top story tonight: Elizabeth Warren swears up and down that she isn’t running for president in 2016.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose political future has been the subject of intense speculation, pledged Wednesday that she would not run for president in 2016, her most ironclad statement yet. “I pledge to serve out my term,” which ends in January 2019, Warren said, when pressed during a news conference in Boston with Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh.

As I’ve been saying, this makes perfect sense. The Obama era has shown that, right now, Congress is far more important than the presidency when it comes to making major reforms.

* Meanwhile, Warren seems to be irking the right people. The “centrist” Third Way  has published an insipid op-ed urging Democrats to avoid Warren-style “populism.” Warren responded with some solid pushback, calling on big banks to disclose their contributions to think tanks.

* Nice point from Jonathan Cohn: comparing Healthcare.gov to Amazon isn’t quite fair. In many ways, the Obamacare website is a much more ambitious project than simple online retail, and buying insurance online before Obamacare was worse. (Still, much improvement is needed.)

* If you’d like to go very deep into the problems associated with inequality that Obama spoke about today, Brad DeLong has 9000 words  just for you.

* Good point from Ed Kilgore: the media obsession with interpreting everything Obama does as “pivoting” or “distracting” attention from bad news is dumb in the extreme. Any speech about income inequality and stagnant growth is clearly trying to draw attention to a badly under-covered issue, not a Wizard of Oz move.

* However, Kevin Drum is right: liberals should be pretty ticked off at the president for the Healthcare.gov FUBAR. Government IT projects are almost always at least a minor disaster, yet it doesn’t seem Obama was paying much attention to the project. The failure completely erased the polling leads Democrats had opened up during the government shutdown, and as a result, retaking the House in 2014 is probably out of the question.

* This Georgia Republican says having a pre-existing condition is “your fault,” and is comparable to driving a car uninsured. Huh?

* California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter says if we go to war with Iran, we shouldn’t use group troops, we should use “tactical nuclear devices.” Ed Kilgore is reminded of Curtis LeMay, but I’m also thinking Buck Turgidson. “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed!

* And Alon Levy has a great, in-depth look at the technical and institutional flaws behind the Metro-North train accident. It’s much more interesting than you might suspect.

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