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Obama agenda: The mushroom cloud

The New York Times editorial board supports Democrats’ move to support the nuclear option: “For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.” It concludes: “Democrats made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.”

The Washington Post editorial board does not: “The rewriting of filibuster rules by Senate Democrats on Thursday changed the legislative body in fundamental ways, and for the worse. Republicans whose unjustified recalcitrance provoked the change should be ashamed. Democrats who are celebrating will soon enough regret their decision. The radical action, a product of poisonous partisanship, will also be an accelerant of poisonous partisanship.” It warns: “The impact of changing the rules in this way may be even more far-reaching. The Democratic action sets a precedent that a future Republican majority will use to change procedures when it gets into a political jam, rather than negotiate with Democrats. The logical outcome is a Senate operating more like the House, with no rights for the minority, no reason for debate and no incentive to cooperate. For those who view that as an improvement, we offer today’s House as a counterargument.”

It concludes: “This time Republicans proved incapable of exercising their minority rights in a responsible way. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) proved not enough of a leader to resist the ‘naked power grab.’ American democracy is that much poorer as a result.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, of course, is less measured: “Today's Democrats have grown up in the Saul Alinsky tradition, and on Thursday they proved it with a partisan vote to break the Senate filibuster rule for confirming judges and executive-branch nominees.” Its only hint of blame toward Republicans for filibusters is this: “It's true that Senators of both parties have misused the advice and consent power to make it harder for the executive branch to govern.”

What it does not do is mention how the use of the filibuster has skyrocketed with the Republican minority, that they have opposed this president’s nominees at rates higher than all other presidents combined. The editorial even follows this slippery slope over the edge: “Democrats are pretending that they are only breaking the filibuster for lower-court nominees, not for the Supreme Court. They can dream on. The next GOP President should line up Federalist Society alumni for judicial nominations like planes waiting to take off at O'Hare International Airport. Imagine two or three more Clarence Thomases on the High Court confirmed with 51 Senate votes. Planned Parenthood can send its regrets to Harry Reid.” It alleges that: ObamaCare would never have passed if Mr. Franken hadn't stolen the Minnesota recount and prosecutors hadn't hidden exculpatory evidence to convict Alaska Republican Ted Stevens on false ethics charges.” And: “The Democrats who rewrote Senate rules on Thursday should also understand that they have now opened the door to repeal ObamaCare with only 51 votes.”

The Washington Post: “The Senate vote Thursday to lower the barriers for presidential nominations should make it easier for President Obama to accomplish key second-term priorities, including tougher measures on climate change and financial regulation, that have faced intense opposition from Republicans in Congress. The move to allow a simple majority vote on most executive and judicial nominees also sets the stage for Obama to appoint new top officials to the Federal Reserve and other key agencies — probably leading to more aggressive action to stimulate the economy and housing market. And it frees Obama to make changes to his Cabinet without the threat of long delays in the Senate before the confirmation of nominees.”

“Sweeping differences in health care exchange pricing among states and counties is leading to sticker shock for some middle-class consumers and others who aren't eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The average prices for the most popular plans are twice as high in the most expensive states as those with the lowest average prices, according to a USA Today analysis of data for 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange.”

AP: “Dozens of leading news organizations are protesting to the White House against restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties. At the same time, two press groups urged their members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than ‘government propaganda.’”

Politico: “Last Tuesday, when Michelle Obama took a fashionably shod toe and dipped it into her husband’s efforts to address the nation’s higher-ed gap, the move was greeted by some feminists with a relieved, ‘It’s about damn time!’ Here, finally, was an issue worthy of the Ivy-educated, blue-chip law firm-trained first lady, a departure from the safely, soothingly domestic causes she had previously embraced. Gardening? Tending wounded soldiers? Reading to children? ‘She essentially became the English lady of the manor, Tory Party, circa 1830s,’ feminist Linda Hirshman says.”

AP: “President Barack Obama is welcoming Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to the White House for talks on a range of issues. The White House had said earlier this month when it announced Friday’s Oval Office meeting that Obama wanted to discuss Morocco’s political reforms, along with violent extremism, democratic transitions and economic development in the Middle East and Africa.”

USA Today looks back at front pages from Texas on the day of JFK’s assassination 50 years ago today. USA Today also wonders what the JFK assassination would have been like in the Twitter era.