Emma Carmichael at The Hairpin on an unknown Kanye West. "My favorite artifact from [The College Dropout] is this video of an unknown Kanye performing a verse from an unknown excerpt from 'All Falls Down' on Def Poetry Jam some time in 2004," Carmichael writes. "I still love watching it — in part because it provides the unique experience of seeing a global superstar when he was unknown and nervous (or at least good at acting like it) and in part because of the way it recontextualizes a song so many know so well today, and sets up the kind of pop culture jigsaw puzzle that the internet lets us track down these days ..." Carmichael explains, "Ten years ago no one knew to cheer extra loud when Kanye came out onstage, and no one knew they should listen to what he had to say, but they still did, and still laughed at all the right parts, even if the funny parts were also kind of sad, and they still exhaled in at least a little bit of awe once he had said his piece. It's a cool thing to see." New York web producer Jazmine Hughes tweets, "God, Kanye is so earnest and careful and cute in all this."
David Rogers at Politico on Henry Waxman. "A generation is passing in Congress these days, and with it goes a level of legislative craftsmanship that will be sorely missed by both parties. Just six years ago, the House and Senate still boasted a solid bipartisan block of 32 members from the huge classes elected in the upheaval of the 1970s. By this time next year, no more than a dozen of them will remain in Congress," Rogers, who's covered Congress for 30 years, writes. "Democrats will feel the losses now most, but for Congress as a whole, the greater casualty is the legislative expertise, even art, that is going out the door. Nothing illustrates this better, perhaps, than the career of Rep. Henry Waxman," Rogers argues. "For much of the ’80s, the California Democrat faced a parallel situation to what House Republicans face today: a hostile Senate and White House. But he never stopped trying to engage, and some of his biggest accomplishments were signed into law by Republican presidents with the help of Republican senators." Washington Post congressional reporter Paul Kane tweets, "Single most important story in politics — 40 years on Hill through eyes of Waxman ... and David Rogers."
Jonathan Chait at New York on the Obamacare bailouts. "If you can remember those innocent days of mid-January, before Obamacare was a nefarious liberal plot to pay lazy people to sit around and do nothing, the big problem with Obamacare was the Obamacare Bailout," Chait writes. "But now there is an ex-post, ad hoc plan to hand out cash to struggling health-care firms due to Obamacare. Republicans in Georgia and Mississippi are proposing to give some money to hospitals in their states that are facing huge losses due to Obamacare. Well, not exactly 'due to Obamacare.' The federal government used to reimburse hospitals for some of the money they lost providing care to uninsured people who couldn’t pay them back," Chait explains. Since Republican states have declined to expand Medicaid, hospitals have become collateral damage. "The hospitals are agitating for their states to take the almost completely free federal funds to cover the uninsured. Red-state Republicans don’t want to do that. They’d rather just write checks to hospitals instead," he argues.
Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic on conservative response to Obamacare. "Conservatives have a new favorite argument on Obamacare that, like so many right-wing talking points, is overdue for context and correction. The claim is that the Affordable Care Act won’t do much good, because, even after the law has taken full effect, the number of uninsured Americans will be roughly the same as it is now," Cohn writes. "As best as I can tell, most conservatives simply believe that the costs of significantly expanding coverage are too high to justify the benefits. Fine. But if they want to make that argument, they need to be candid about how significant those benefits are likely to be," he argues. Health policy writer Adrianna McIntyre tweets, "Read everything @CitizenCohn writes here."
Frank Bruni at The New York Times on NFL hopeful Michael Sam. "On Sunday evening, in a story in The Times by John Branch and on ESPN, a college football star named Michael Sam came out. Because Sam is almost certain to be drafted, he could soon be the first openly gay active player in the National Football League — in any of the four major professional sports in the United States. Most reactions from the sports world were hugely positive, even inspirational. Some were not," Bruni writes. "'It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room,' an NFL personnel assistant, speaking anonymously, said to Sports Illustrated," Bruni explains. "A news flash for every straight man out there: You’ve been naked in front of a gay man. In fact you’ve been naked, over the course of your life, in front of many gay men, at least if you have more than a few years on you. And here you are — uninjured, uncorrupted, intact. The earth still spins. The sun rises and sets," he argues.