* Howard Fineman on Bill Clinton’s appearance today in Kentucky, and on the apparent belief among Dems that Alison Lundergan Grimes has a legit shot at defeating Mitch McConnell with a message centered on pocketbook issues and constructive government. Note Clinton’s defense of Obamacare:

He heaped praise on Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, for aggressively trying to implement the “health care thing.” Rather than defend the philosophy of the Affordable Care Act, Clinton described the issue as a practical one, like repairing a car. The GOP’s drive to dismantle the act, rather than fix it and make it work, “is a dumb way to run a country,” Clinton said.

* Michael Hiltzik on Americans for Prosperity’s “ruthless misuse” of Julie Boonstra, the Leukemia victim in the group’s now-notorious anti-Obamacare ad. As Hiltzik notes, AFP’s “documentation” for the ad actually shows the group knows they’re using her tale to mislead.

* Jonathan Chait on the new human shield strategy AFP and its conservative media defenders are employing, in which fact checking AFP ads is automatically equated with attacking Obamacare victims, Boonstra included. Note this on the broader narrative they are creating:

[I]f the criteria for Obamacare victimhood includes forcing somebody to participate in a law designed by Barack Obama in order to save money, then any Obama-created health-care law is going to produce a lot of victims…The story is conceptually bizarre – the whole economic structure of the law reorders the market in a way that’s more favorable to people with preexisting conditions. The losers, as it were, are healthy people with high incomes.

* Also see Brian Beutler on what this whole affair says about the state of conservative journalism and the reemergence of the “hack gap.”

* Sahil Kapur on what the CBO has concluded about a new GOP bill designed to mitigate the impact of Obamacare’s employer mandate:

A Republican-led bill designed to “save American workers” would cause 1 million workers to lose their health care coverage and increase the deficit by $74 billion, according to Congress’ official scorekeeper.

* The HuffPo team reports that Senate Republicans are still trying to push forward with a vote on a new Iran sanctions bill even though AIPAC has backed off, with Republicans actually blocking a Senate vote on a military sexual assault bill in an effort to attach the Iran measure to it.

* Steve Benen on the mounting number of conservative lawmakers who appear to want to get rid of the minimum wage altogether, another indication that the Tea Party is weighing down the party on economic and not just social issues.

* Senate Democrats are back with yet another push to extend unemployment benefits, in a new challenge to Republicans:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team are pitching a bill that would revive benefits for six months or so retroactive to December, using the new farm law’s billions in savings to pay for a half-year extension’s price tag of roughly $12 billion to $13 billion.

One GOP Senator, Dean Heller, may be supportive of the new approach, and the question again becomes whether a handful of Republicans can we won over – particularly ones up in 2016 in blue or purple states, like Rob Portman and Mark Kirk.

* Quote of the day, GOP makeover edition: GOP strategist Steve Schmidt on the anti-gay bill in Arizona, on which leading GOP officials such as RNC chair Reince Priebus are declining to take a position:

“It makes the party of Lincoln and Reagan look small, closed and intolerant and exacerbates our poltical differences with every single demographic group in America that is growing.”

* Speaking of which, it’s good to see that 636 business organizations, including major companies, are signing on to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter pushing the House GOP to act on immigration. But until center right groups show they’ll extract a real political price for inaction, it probably won’t make a difference.

* Deep dive of the day: Nonpartisan analyst Curtis Gans on why Democrats in 2014 just might do better than everyone thinks.

* And Danny Vinik is very good on the larger meaning of Dick Cheney’s suggestion that Obama would rather fund food stamps than defense.

 

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.