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Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the United States is not "impotent" -- but that it's also not powerless as violent anti-U.S. protests transpire in the Middle East.

Her exchange with ABC's Jake Tapper:

TAPPER:  Look at this map, if you would.  There have been protests around the world over the last several days.  And President Obama pledged to repair America's relationships with the Muslim world.  Why does the U.S. seem so impotent?  And why is the U.S. even less popular today in some of these Muslim and Arab countries than it was four years ago?

RICE:  Jake, we're not impotent.  We're not even less popular, to challenge that assessment.  I don't know on what basis you make that judgment.  But let me -- let me point...

TAPPER:  It just seems that the U.S. government is powerless as this -- as this maelstrom erupts.

RICE:  It's actually the opposite.  First of all, let's be clear about what transpired here.  What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region... 

TAPPER:  Tunisia, Khartoum...

RICE:  ... was a result -- a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.  We have also been very clear in saying that there is no excuse for violence, there is -- that we have condemned it in the strongest possible terms.

But let's look at what's happened.  It's quite the opposite of being impotent.  We have worked with the governments in Egypt.  President Obama picked up the phone and talked to President Morsi in Egypt.  And as soon as he did that, the security provided to our personnel in our embassies dramatically increased. 

Chief Justice John Roberts switched sides mid-way through deliberations to uphold 'Obamacare' after failing to find middle ground with conservatives, and in the process infuriated Justice Antonin Scalia, a new book concludes.

Excerpts from longtime court watcher Jeffrey Toobin's "The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court" leaked to Politico's Playbook jibe with earlier reports that the chief justice changed his mind as the ruling neared and became the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Toobin writes: "[T]he tax argument stayed with the chief justice. In April and May, it started to become apparent to the other justices that Roberts was going 'wobbly' in his determination to overturn the law. Voters are never final until the decision are announced in open court. Votes at conference are by definition tentative. It is well within the bounds of acceptable behavior for justices to change their minds once opinions being circulating. Still, that rarely happens. But now, it appeared it was happening with Roberts -- in the most important case of his tenure as chief justice."

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Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked if he believes President Obama and Mitt Romney are equally committed to preventing Iran from going nuclear.

"I have no doubt that they're equally committed to preventing that," he said. "It's a vital American interest. It's an existential interest in my case, so this isn't the issue. We're united on this across the board."

He repeatedly declined to address Romney's charge that Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.

"You're trying to get me into the American election and I'm not going to do that," he said. "There's no bus and we're not going to get into that discussion. ... The only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus. That's the one that we have to derail. And that's my interest -- that's my only interest."

Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a football metaphor to describe his concerns about the Iranian nuclear program.

"They're in the red zone," he said. "You know, they're in the last 20 yards and you can't let them cross that goal line. You can't let them score a touchdown because that would have unbelievable consequences -- grievous consequences for the peace and security of us all, of the world really."

Netanyahu has called on the international community to establish a clear "red line" that Iran may not cross with regard to its uranium enrichment program.

"Once the Iranians understand that there's a line that they cannot cross, they're not likely to cross it," he said. "Iran has been placed with some clear red lines on a few matters, and they've avoided crossing them."

The Israeli leader said his nation would "threatened by annihilation" if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon.

Former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell told a home state publication that she's considering a 2014 run for the seat she lost to now-Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) by a whopping 17-point margin.

“I think I owe that to my supporters, to at least consider a run,” O’Donnell told Delaware Online. “People sacrificed. Not only came out of their comfort zone -- sacrificed to work hard in order to win the primary. And I think that I owe it to them to give it every consideration.”

Delaware Online reports that O'Donnell is giving "serious thought" to a 2014 rematch.

(h/t HuffPost)

Conservative columnist George Will said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that it's unfair to accuse President Obama of turning his back on Israel.

"I really do not think it's fair to fault the president for 'throwing Israel under the bus,' as they say," Will said. "Granted, he has a bad relationship with my good friend [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, but the relationships between the U.S. military and the Israeli military, which is 98 percent of the point of this relationship, are quite good."

Conservative columnist George Will dismissed the Romney campaign's suggestion that if the Republican nominee were president the recent violence in Libya that left four Americans dead would not have happened.

Asked on ABC's "This Week" if there's reason to believe that the situation would be different under a President Romney, Will said, "No."

"The great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power, and during a presidential year that reaches an apogee -- and it becomes national narcissism," he said. "Everything that happens anywhere in the world, we cause, or we could cure with ... presidential rhetoric."

Will also chided White House spokesman Jay Carney for pinpointing the anti-Muslim film as the cause of the violence: "If the video hadn't been the pretext, another one would've been found."

Fox News managing editor Brit Hume defended the substance of Mitt Romney's criticisms of President Obama over the violence in Libya, but said the Republican nominee's remarks were "clumsy" and ill-timed.

"I think what he said was correct but it was clumsy," Hume said on Fox News Sunday. "And it opened him up to charges that he made a terrible mistake. We had an almost ludicrous overreaction in a lot of the media about it, in which what he did became the big story, rather than what was happening over there. Which is not a great moment for our national media."

"He could've waited -- it might've been better if he had."

Republicans have embraced a widely debunked premise to attack President Obama for "gutting" welfare reform. But a House GOP bill that has already cleared a major committee would actually ax the welfare program's work requirements, according to Congress' nonpartisan referee.

The legislation -- H.R. 4297, The Workforce Investment Improvement Act -- was unveiled in March by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and cosponsored by six Republican colleagues. Among them was Education & Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN), who passed the bill through his committee in June.

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The Republican-led House passed a measure Thursday that would force President Obama to put forth a plan by Oct. 15 to replace the automatic defense spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January, which both parties want to prevent.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement after the vote:

“The White House is responsible for the ‘sequester’ that threatens our national security and President Obama has a duty to tell us how he’d replace it.  Top administration officials say the president’s ‘sequester’ would hollow out our armed forces and devastate our military.  But unfortunately, our Commander-in-Chief still hasn’t produced a bill – and neither has his Democratic-controlled Senate – to replace these cuts.

"History has taught us we can’t continue with policies that jeopardize our defenses or weaken our economy.  That’s why the House already passed a responsible bill that protects our troops and reduces our deficit by replacing the president’s ‘sequester.’  It’s time for the president to lead, outline for the American people how he’d replace the ‘sequester,’ and work with Republicans to avert this threat to our troops and our national security.”

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