Travis Waldron at Think Progress on gay American athletes heading to the Olympics. On "Tuesday, Obama took a step forward in [leading by] example, selecting tennis legend and former U.S. Olympic coach Billie Jean King, a lesbian who has long been an LGBT equality advocate, to be a part of the delegation that will represent the White House at the opening ceremony on February 7. Hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who is also openly gay, will be a part of the delegation to the closing ceremonies on February 23," Waldron explains. While some favored boycotting the Sochi Olympics due to Russia's anti-gay laws, "sending openly gay athletes who have reached the pinnacle of sports ... [sends] a more powerful statement to Russia than snubbing the Olympics altogether ever could have." CNN contributor David Frum tweets, "It's not exactly Jesse Owens, but …" Mickey Boardman, gay activist and editor of Paper, recommends the post.
Aaron Blake and Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post on Democrats' silver lining on Obamacare. Despite the fact that Obama's poll numbers have dropped in the wake of the health care law's rocky rollout, Americans still don't "want to turn the reins over to Republicans," Blake and Sullivan argue. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, "42 percent pick Obama [to implement Obamacare], while 37 percent pick Republicans. That’s actually the biggest advantage Obama has had on that question since 2010 — marginally bigger than the narrow three-point difference for Obama in September, before the botched rollout." Daily Beast writer Jamelle Bouie tweets, "I’m pretty sure the silver lining on Obamacare is that millions of people have access to health insurance."
David Dayen at Salon on JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's crimes. "Jamie Dimon explicitly violated a federal statute that carries a prison sentence," Dayen argues. "That he’s a free man today, with no fear of prosecution, doesn’t only speak to our two-tiered system of justice in America. It should color our perceptions of new rules and regulations that supposedly 'get tough' on the financial industry, as we recognize that any law is only as strong as the individuals who enforce them." Dayen thinks Dimon could be convicted of a Sarbanes-Oxley certification violation, which would be a "Christmas miracle." Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a contributor to The New York Times and The Atlantic, tweets, "I'm not Christian, but I'm praying for this Christmas miracle!"
Anthony Randazzo and Dean Stanzel at Forbes on tax benefits for the middle class. "The Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is ... widely considered one of the most sacrosanct tax benefits in the country because it is seen as making home ownership more affordable for middle-class Americans," Randazzo and Stanzel explain. The authors' new research from the libertarian Reason Foundation suggests that it doesn't make that much of a difference, however. The benefit may not be enough for middle-class people to switch from renting to owning. Former Republican budget official Bruce Bartlett calls the column a "right-wing attack on the mortgage interest deduction."
Elizabeth Greenspan at The New Yorker on gentrification in Brooklyn. Whole Foods opened its first store in Brooklyn on Tuesday. The market "embodies a new kind of luxury brand, one that traffics in authenticity instead of exclusivity ... But, because the company tends to cater to affluent customers, who can afford, for instance, $4.99 per pound for organic spinach, new stores have been generating unease among residents, along with excitement over access to organic food," Greenspan writes. And so "debates about Whole Foods seem to double as debates over the very character of cities and their residents." Development just keeps going, too — Whole Foods plans to expand to over 1000 stores across the U.S. Laura Schwecherl of the fitness site Greatist tweets, "Whole Foods, and gentrification, grows in Brooklyn."