* Good: Sabrina Siddiqui reports that red state Dem Senators are standing firm against the House GOP push to defund Obamare. There was chatter that this would be a “tough vote,” but even vulnerable Dems up in 2014 are saying No.

* Senate Dems are coalescing around a procedural strategy designed to kick a bill funding the government (without defunding Obamacare) back to the House. GOP leaders will again have to choose between stiff-arming the Tea Party and a shutdown.

* In an interview with Robert Costa, Ted Cruz keeps at it:

Cruz says he “salutes” Boehner and House Republicans for moving forward with a vote on defunding, but he stands by his belief that one vote this week isn’t enough. “When I say the House needs to stand strong, it’s because the fight will be won or lost in the House of Representatives,” he says. “I can’t win this fight, and Mike Lee can’t win this fight,” but he believes the House GOP can.

Yup, this is all on House Republicans. As noted earlier, Cruz will keep looking for a way to blame the “GOP establishment” for the failure of his scam, but the scam has been unmasked.

* David Drucker notes that by pursuing the defund Obamacare strategy,  Republicans are dividing in ways that squander what should have been an asset heading into 2014, i.e, unified opposition to the health law. And this:

Negative opinions of Obamacare have not translated into support for the Republican strategy to shut down the government unless Democrats agree to defund Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Every publicly available poll done since the defunding campaign began shows that voters would blame Republicans for a government shutdown far more than Obama or congressional Democrats.

Yes. Did I mention that disapproval of Obamacare doesn’t translate into support for efforts to sabotage it?

* The intra-GOP tensions over the defund-Obamacare continue to rage, as seen in this Tweet from Senator Bob Corker, a clear swipe at Cruz:

I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count — the defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position.

Yes, it’s doomed in the Senate, but all Cruz needs to say in response is, hey, House Republicans must keep up the fight!

* E.J. Dionne, on why the right wing is insisting on shutdown Armageddon before Obamacare implementation can kick in:

Its central worry is not that the program will fail but that it will succeed.

* House Republicans vote to cut $39 billion from food stamps, slashing aid to some four million Americans, and the GOP “rebrand” proceeds apace. Harry Reid’s statement:

“House Republicans’ vote to deny nutrition assistance to hungry, low-income Americans is shameful. The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation.”

And we’re back where we started — Republicans will again have to figure out how to get the farm bill merging food stamps and agricultural policy through the House. Remember, the failure to do that last time is what led GOP leaders to continue chasing conservative votes — ending in today’s “win.”

* Brendan Nyhan has a good takedown of magical pundit thinking holding that Syria imperils Obama’s second term agenda, as if Republicans weren’t already “emboldened” to try to block everything he proposes.

* This is welcome: The Obama administration moves forward with efforts to scale back penalties for low level federal drug offenses in keeping with the promise of sentencing reforms. Where are leading Republicans on this? There’s an opportunity for progress on something Tea Partyers and progressives alike agree is an epic policy fiasco.

* Mother Jones’ Dave Gilson slaps Buzzfeed hard for “helping tenuous gun-lobby talking points go viral.”

* And Jonathan Bernstein gets this exactly right: Those creepy Uncle Sam Obamacare ads are just a big old scam. Don’t bite.

What else?