* In an encouraging sign for the labor market, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen below the number of short-term unemployed for the first time since 2009.

* Joe Conason takes stock of the gall of people like John McCain blaming everything that’s happening in Iraq on Barack Obama:

Americans should try to remember how this happened – even if the disgraced figures who promoted the invasion of Iraq will never accept responsibility for squandering trillions of American dollars, thousands of American lives, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives for what could most charitably be called a massive, irreparable blunder.

* GOP Rep. Raul Labrador jumps into the race to replace Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader. Just like Kevin McCarthy, the leading contender, Labrador has supported legalization; Cantor’s defeat was supposed to be a huge victory for the anti-amnesty forces, but the two vying to replace him are pro-amnesty. — gs

* Along these lines, Philip Klein has a good piece explaining how Tea Partyers have gotten away with attacking the GOP leadership while failing to say what they would have done differently:

There’s a mythology on the right that rank-and-file House conservatives who oppose leadership are being courageous. But that’s often not actually the case. What we’ve seen over the past few years is that Republican leadership has routinely passed compromises on the debt limit, the “fiscal cliff” and spending bills, with lots of House GOP opposition and Democratic support. So-called Tea Party members have had the best of both worlds. They get to go back to their districts and tell conservative constituents that they bravely stood up to the establishment, while at the same time, they avoid having to answer for any of the consequences of a failure to raise the debt ceiling, or of all of the Bush tax cuts expiring and rates going up on everybody. After all, it’s members of leadership who got their hands dirty with compromises.

Sounds like a pretty good deal — why would they want to change it?

* Dan Diamond breaks the bad news to conservatives who had predicted few insurers would participate in the exchanges: Every state that has released its information shows a jump in the number of insurers participating next year. That means more choice and more competition, which could serve to keep premiums down.

* Steve Benen has a useful recap of all the good ACA news that’s breaking out all over, from steep declines in the number of uninsured to slow growth in Medicare spending.

* Some commentators excitedly pointed to this week’s Pew study as proof that partisans on both sides are equally bad. Thomas Mann points to findings in the very same survey showing “asymmetrical polarization” — with Republicans moving right faster than Democrats are moving left — is very real.

* When Scott Walker won’t say where he stands on gay marriage, you know the ground has shifted rapidly.

* Robert Schlesinger talks to conservative pollster Jon Lerner and finds that immigration played a negligible role in Eric Cantor’s loss. Lerner: “the large majority of Brat voters themselves are pointing to issues other than immigration as drivers of their vote.”

* Brian Beutler with a good piece explaining why Eric Cantor’s political demise is not the most important political story of our time.

* And finally, if you’ve been watching NBC News for the last couple of years, every couple of months you were treated to a well-intentioned but shallow story by “special correspondent” Chelsea Clinton. It turns out the network was paying her $600,000 a year. Who says journalism is a dying business?