August 19

* Ezra Klein explains why President Obama won’t be giving any insightful, eloquent speeches about Ferguson:

If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political polarization, widening that divide can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.

President Obama might still decide to give a speech about events in Ferguson. But it probably won’t be the speech many of his supporters want. When Obama gave the first Race Speech he was a unifying figure trying to win the Democratic nomination. Today he’s a divisive figure who needs to govern the whole country. The White House never forgets that.

This is why Obama almost never talks about race. But ironically, many of his critics are consumed with the idea that he makes everything about race.

* Trymaine Lee explain how tensions between the police and black residents in Ferguson have been building for years.

* At the American Prospect, I offered the Ferguson police department’s top 10 tips for protester relations.

* Emma Roller documents the campaign to assassinate Michael Brown’s character, the purpose of which is to convince people that he had it coming.

* The 1033 program, under which the Pentagon gives local police departments military equipment, is coming under increased scrutiny. But don’t look for it to be scrapped. As the Huffington Post crew reports, even Nancy Pelosi is reluctant to do away with it:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a leading voice for progressives, says it’s time to reassess the way the program is carried out, not end it altogether. “The Leader supports examining the overall federal effort of giving military-type equipment to local police departments,” said a Pelosi spokeswoman. “Cutting off all funding…is a blunt instrument, but oversight and appropriate scale of funding for such programs need to be examined.”

Members of Congress say it’s hard to say No when police departments say they need the equipment. Really? Try this: “No, Chief, you don’t need an MRAP.” Doesn’t seem all that hard.

* A good question from Cliff Schecter: Why isn’t the NRA, scourge of “jackbooted government thugs” everywhere, rushing to defend the people of Ferguson?

* LAPD officer Sunil Dutta writes that if everybody would shut up and do what cops tell them to do, then everything would be fine:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

* Andrea Cambron says that she’s polite and middle-class, yet still gets harrassed by the police. You’ll never guess why.

* Paul Ryan takes another stab at anti-poverty policy: The real victims of Washington regulations are the poor. Did you know how much regulations add to the cost of a sturdy pair of bootstraps these days? It’s criminal.

* The latest Public Policy Polling numbers from North Carolina show Kay Hagan clinging to a 4-point lead over Thom Tillis. Note that Tillis continues to be dragged down by voters’ disgruntlement with the state legislature he leads, particularly its cuts to education funding — which will be central to the final onslaught against him.

* A must read interview with the former chief counsel of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explaining why the exercise of expansive presidential authority to ease deportations is perfectly legal. Note in particular the justification for deferring deportations on a categorical basis.

* Dylan Scott gives us the latest piece of good Affordable Care Act news:

The headlines were all too predictable when Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced in June that it would request an average 12.5 percent premium increase for its Connecticut market….Skyrocketing premiums are one of the last anti-Obamacare talking points that conservatives have to hold onto.

But then on Monday, the conclusion of the Connecticut story came. State insurance regulators had rejected Anthem’s proposed 12.5 percent premium hike. So after some revisions, the company would instead lower its premiums ever so slightly on average — 0.1 percent — in 2015, the Connecticut Mirror reported.

In other words: big government bureaucrats protected consumers. Imagine that.

* With the ACA fading as a campaign issue, Paul Krugman runs through all of the predictions of doom that haven’t materialized, and concludes:

The reason is fairly obvious, although it’s not considered nice to state it bluntly: the attack on Obamacare depended almost entirely on lies, and those lies are becoming unsustainable now that the law is actually working…no, huge numbers of Americans aren’t losing coverage or finding their health costs soaring; no, jobs aren’t being killed in vast numbers…Many of us argued all along that the right’s chance to kill reform would vanish once the program was actually in place; the horror stories only worked as long as the truth wasn’t visible. And that’s what seems to be happening.

* Steve Benen adds:

This isn’t to say the Affordable Care Act is suddenly popular; it’s not. Rather, the point is the Republicans’ ability to exploit health care ignorance isn’t working out nearly as well as they’d hoped.

* Also, Jonathan Bernstein, who called this very early, explains why even if Republicans win the Senate, Obamacare is here to stay, and why this secretly might suit GOP lawmakers just fine. — gs

* Obama’s Katrina? President Obama has announced that all of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed.

* Lately, conservatives have been totally stoked not only about how Uber is awesome, but how their love of it will win over young voters. The company just announced the person who will lead its political and regulatory efforts to take on Big Taxi: Obama adviser David Plouffe.

* And Kevin Drum explains how the “hack gap” between conservative and liberal writers is showing itself once again, this time in the case of Rick Perry’s indictment.

What else?