The administration picked a fight on the contraception mandate. “The legal and political standoff that exists today is a direct result of the administration’s decision to use the issue as a political weapon in the 2012 election. Having picked this fight, the administration could not back down and provide a reasonable exemption for all employers with religious objections because that would offend the group of supporters it courted so assiduously in the 2012 campaign. This explains the pathetic ‘accommodation’ now at issue in so many of the court cases brought by Catholic organizations and institutions. The Obama administration is contending that nonprofit religious institutions don’t have to provide access to the products and services they find objectionable. They only have to ‘self-certify’ that they have an objection, at which point the insurance plans they work with will be required to provide the coverage without the involvement of the employers.” Read the whole thing.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Jessica Hill/AP)

The administration can never draw a red line, whether on foreign or domestic policy.  “The standard of success for the Affordable Care Act keeps getting weaker. Whether in enrollment numbers, federal savings, or the workings of its website, the White House has repeatedly lowered the bar for the law when it has missed expectations, replacing initial standards with ones that are lower, squishier, or nonexistent.”

As the Senate faces off against the White House on Iran on sanctions, this is not going to help the president’s case: “A top Iranian lawmaker and cleric said that the country’s uranium enrichment program could allow it to build a nuclear weapon ‘in two weeks’ in order to ‘put down Israel,’ according to multiple reports in the Farsi language press.”

Iran certainly seems to be itching for a fight. (But Obama will never walk away from talks — or he might have to do something about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.) “Iran’s hardline lawmakers are seeking to increase uranium enrichment under the country’s nuclear program to a level that can produce bomb-grade material, a state-run website said on Wednesday. The bill could bring Tehran into direct conflict with the major powers that reached an interim agreement with Iran in Geneva last month, requiring Tehran to suspend its enrichment of higher grade uranium.”

It isn’t like the U.S. will be egged on by al-Qaeda into doing something meaningful. Not this president. “Iraq may once again stumble back from the brink of all-out civil war. But it is unlikely to recover the promise of 2009-11—in retrospect, a mini-golden age—because Mr. Maliki is unlikely to mend his ways. . . . The U.S. lost most of its leverage to do that when it foolishly pulled its troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011 after the failure of halfhearted negotiations overseen by Vice President Joe Biden. Selling Iraq Hellfire missiles, as the Obama administration has just done, is a poor substitute. It is positively destructive because it only further inflames the situation and creates the impression that the Americans are siding with militant Shiites in a sectarian civil war.”

Hillary Clinton supporters are just asking for a beating with an organization this large and unwieldy. “There are two spheres of influence. One is made up of more than a dozen Clinton staffers, loyalists and longtime friends whose advice she values the most. The other sphere is more complex. It includes an assortment of super PACs and outside groups, all jockeying to be part of the Clinton movement but operating beyond her immediate direction and control. Still, some of these efforts could become the foundation of an eventual campaign. . . . [J]ust about every close Hillary Clinton ally, asked to describe who is at the top of her organizational chart, gives the same answer: Chelsea. Exactly what that translates into is shrouded in a bit of mystery.” What could go wrong?!

Maybe not the best character witness when you are squaring off against critics.”Glenn Beck Speaks Out In Defense Of Melissa Harris-Perry.”