August 18

* President Obama spoke to the press today about the situation in Ferguson, MO, among other things. Perhaps the most significant thing he said was to announce that Attorney General Eric Holder will be going to Ferguson to help oversee the federal criminal investigation into Michael Brown’s death. He also said Department of Justice experts are on the ground to help “reduce tensions among the community.”

Obama’s own comments on this subject have been utterly anodyne, as though he were trying to make sure nobody gets mad at him. But it’s encouraging to see him actually mobilizing some resources to address the immediate unrest.

* Simon Maloy takes a look at conservatives who are trying to blame the crisis in Ferguson on the New Black Panthers. You’ll be shocked to learn that this is happening on Fox News.

* A new Pew poll finds:

By about four-to-one (80% to 18%), African Americans say the shooting in Ferguson raises important issues about race that merit discussion. By contrast, whites, by 47% to 37%, say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

* There’s a primary in Alaska tomorrow, where Republicans will decide who faces Sen. Mark Begich in the fall. Though Dems would like Begich to face the craziest of the GOP candidates, they say they’re ready to face any of them.

* Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s running for Senate in Colorado, has an ad up lamenting his cancelled insurance plan. Oddly, when pressed by local media, he refused to divulge the details of his old plan and how they compare to his new one. If he did, we might discover he isn’t really an Obamacare victim, after all.

* PolitiFact takes a close look at the debate over Personhood in Colorado and determines that Gardner can’t escape his current support for a federal Personhood bill, another sign this issue will continue to loom large.

* The DSCC has put out an ad in Iowa tying Senate candidate Joni Ernst to…Sarah Palin, and noting Ernst’s views on multiple issues.Which is actually pretty fair, since Ernst and Palin do seem to have a mutual admiration society. It’s the latest in Dem efforts to introduce the real Ernst to voters.

* Rick Hasen on why the indictment of Rick Perry is a crock, and what it means for our politics.

* The San Diego city council voted to override the mayor’s veto of a law raising the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017, making it the largest city in America to raise its minimum wage. (Despite its modest cultural footprint, San Diego has 1.3 million residents, making it the eighth-largest city in the country. The more you know…)

* In the American Prospect, I argued that Rand Paul’s success actually demonstrates the political limitations of libertarianism.

* Former Vermont senator Jim Jeffords, a liberal Republican whose decision to leave the GOP in 2001 swung the Senate to the Democrats, has died at the age of 80.

* Ed Kilgore on how Jeffords’ party switch, which seems like ancient history now, heralded the massive GOP shift to the right we’re still dealing with today, which is best captured in what passes for a GOP “moderate” these days. — gs

* Hillary Clinton will be returning to Iowa next month for the first time in six years, to attend Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry. Crazy prediction: there will be some reporters who attend.

* And Jonathan Bernstein hits on the real reason all the hand-wringing about Clinton’s wealth won’t matter:

The real reason wealth-related blunders won’t hurt Clinton is that she apparently isn’t going to be seriously challenged in the primaries and caucuses, where this sort of thing could matter. Personal characteristics, gaffes and clever rejoinders just aren’t all that important for the general election, when partisanship and partisan trends kick in and swamp almost everything else.

Precisely — any Republicans who think the 2016 general election is going to turn on “Is Hillary Clinton too rich?” are deluding themselves.