* President Obama made another statement to the press today. Among other things, he’s trying to downplay the idea that the current military action against ISIS will pull us into Syria or deeper into Iraq:
Well, first of all, I want to make sure everybody’s clear on what we’re doing now because it is limited.
Our focus right now is to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq, to protect our embassy, to protect our consulates, to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected.
Where we see an opportunity that allows us, with very modest risk, to help the humanitarian situation there, as we did in Sinjar Mountain, we will take those opportunities after having consulted with Congress.
But our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe and to do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish capabilities. In other news, all anybody could talk about on Twitter was the fact that Obama wore a tan suit.
* A pair of new ads from the Arkansas Senate race shows the contrasting messages around challenger Tom Cotton: Dems want to stress that his anti-government streak make him too extreme even for a deep red state, while the Republican wants to keep his negatives down by focusing on his military service.
* Political scientist Sam Wang, whose analyses of the 2012 elections were highly accurate, takes a look at the 2014 Senate races and explains why things are actually looking much better for Dems than you might think.
* The polls in Iowa show Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst in a virtual tie, but Craig Robinson of the Iowa Republican digs deeper into Ernst’s favorability to show that she may have hidden vulnerabilities that suggest she may be in real trouble.
* MoveOn is already up with an ad in Iowa hitting Ernst over the secret recording of her praising Koch-network donors, which signals how the revelation will be used against other GOP candidates.
* This new ad from Mary Landrieu demonstrates once again how central Landrieu’s Energy Committee chairmanship will be to her hopes of survial in oil-rich Louisiana.
For Democrats thinking about their political prospects in 2016 and beyond, this is good news, given demographic trends. But for now and for the foreseeable future, Republican extremists have the power to block policy changes in Washington, thanks to Republican control of the House and their strong presence in the Senate. The real-world implications of this political situation are millions of people stuck in immigration limbo and a planet cooking to the point where damage is irreversible.
* No one outside knows exactly what executive actions Obama is going to take on immigration, so Alan Gomez offers a useful roadmap to the five options Obama is probably considering.
* PunditFact documents it: When the Veterans Affairs IG issued a report saying they couldn’t verify that veterans actually died because they were waiting for care, there was almost no coverage of it, in contrast to the innumerable reports on the charge when it first emerged.
* Have you been feeling a strange sense of foreboding lately? Don’t be concerned: it’s only the beginnings of Cruzmentum:
Sen.Ted Cruz is expanding his political operation, a move sure to stoke speculation that the Texas Republican plans to run for presidentin 2016. In recent weeks, the Cruz team signed contracts with three Republican consultants with national experience and ties to some of the early presidential primary states.
Cruz may be terrifying, but he sure isn’t boring, and the 2016 Republican primary race promises to be a bloodbath.
* Jonathan Bernstein on why it matters that we don’t pay enough attention to local politics.
* At the American Prospect, I explained why Republicans won’t be able to solve their problem with women voters.
* And New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a book coming out. A preview:
In Off the Sidelines, Gillibrand, 47, shares a sobering incident in the congressional gym, where an older, male colleague told her, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” On another occasion, she writes, after she dropped 50 lbs. one of her fellow Senate members approached her, squeezed her stomach, and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”
Gillibrand isn’t especially offended by her coworkers’ remarks. “It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,” she says. “They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.”
Just goes to show that no woman, even a U.S. senator, is immune from having men, including her colleagues, evaluate her physical appearance, and publicly announce the degree to which they find her sexually appealing. Lovely.