gdgt’s best deals for November 4th: 55-inch Panasonic 3D HDTV, 1TB Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Ready to save some cash on your tech buys? Then you’ve come to the right place. Our friends at sister site gdgt track price drops on thousands of products every day, and twice a week they feature some of the best deals they’ve found right here. But act fast! Many of these are limited-time offers, and won’t last long.


Whether the start of November has you searching for a new HDTV, file repository, home theater upgrade or a weapon for that MMO arsenal, we’ve got you covered. A 55-inch 3D TV from Panasonic and Klipsch floor-standing speakers are poised to improve movie watching while a pair of other useful gadgets see attractive price drops of their own. Join gdgt and add the gadgets you’re shopping for to your “Want” list; every time there’s a price cut, you’ll get an email alert!

gdgt's best deals for November 4th

Price: $899 (regularly $1,699)
Buy: Amazon

This 55-inch display touts wide viewing angles, VIERA Link compatibility and built-in VIERA Connect for handling the smart TV chores. All of that is in addition to a 1080p 120Hz 3D IPS LCD panel for viewing an afternoon on the pitch or a new release at the hands of an $800 price cut.

gdgt's best deals for November 4th 55inch Panasonic 3D HDTV, 1TB Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Price: $79 (regularly $120)
Buy: Amazon

Need access to at least a terabyte’s worth of files with you’re out and about? Western Digital’s My Passport Ultra shorts such a capacity with USB 3.0 transfer speeds in a light and compact frame. Of course, it also sports a gdgt Score of 83 making this portable hard drive one that’s been deemed worthy of the investment.

gdgt's best deals for November 4th 55inch Panasonic 3D HDTV, 1TB Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Klipsch Synergy F-10 premium 6.5-inch floor-standing speaker

Price: $98 (regularly $315)
Buy: Newegg

If an audio upgrade is what you’re in the market for, a pair of these floor-standing units can be swiped up for over $100 less than the original cost.. of one. The 6.5-inch F-10s are rated at 100W RMS to boost that weekend Lord of the Rings refresher ahead of another upcoming installment.

gdgt's best deals for November 4th 55inch Panasonic 3D HDTV, 1TB Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Price: $63 (regularly $80)
Buy: Newegg

MMO gaming more your style? Razer’s retooled Naga houses mechanical switches for its 12 side-mounted buttons, a tilting scroll wheel and even a left-handed version for the all of you southpaw gamers. There’s software for customizing the add-on to meet your delicate marathon session sensibilities too.

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Spurs, Everton keep each other in check

London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur and Everton prevented each other from climbing to second place in the Premier League table after an open-ended 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Tottenham had the better of the first half, with Everton creating more clear-cut chances in the second, while each team had a penalty claim rejected either side of half-time.

A head injury to Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who managed to complete the game, yielded nine minutes of stoppage time, but neither side was able to land a knockout punch.

The point was enough to take Tottenham into the top four, level on points with Chelsea and Liverpool and five points below leaders Arsenal, while Everton remain in seventh place, albeit only a point behind Spurs.

Bidding for a third consecutive league victory, Tottenham attacked the game vigorously on a bright autumnal afternoon in Liverpool and held their hosts on the back foot for much of the first half.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard had to save from Sandro, Kyle Walker and Lewis Holtby, while marauding left-back Jan Vertonghen had a strong penalty appeal turned down after being clipped by Seamus Coleman.

The home side began to enjoy more success in the second period, however, with Vlad Chiriches producing a superb last-ditch tackle to thwart Kevin Mirallas and substitute Ross Barkley shooting narrowly over.

In a reversal of the first-half penalty incident, Coleman was then brought to his knees by Vertonghen as he shaped to shoot inside the Spurs box, but again referee Kevin Friend remained unmoved.

Howard parried a Gylfi Sigurdsson drive at the other end, before Spurs goalkeeper Lloris took a heavy blow to the head after sliding out to deny Romelu Lukaku.

Despite appearing dazed, the France international refused to be substituted and he proved his reflexes had not been dulled by racing from his line to thwart Gerard Deulofeu in the 87th minute.

The Premier League will witness the first all-Welsh fixture in the history of the English top flight later on Sunday when Cardiff City host local rivals Swansea City.

Swansea, the reigning League Cup champions, have had a two-year head-start on their south Wales counterparts in the top tier, but Cardiff will move above them if they win at the Cardiff City Stadium.

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Cleveland kidnap survivor sits down with Dr. Phil

CLEVELAND (AP) — One of three women who escaped from a ramshackle Cleveland home after more than a decade in captivity is about to share her story.

Michelle Knight will appear on the “Dr. Phil” show Tuesday and Wednesday in a taped interview.

The show says Knight “describes the horrible conditions in the house” and discusses her physical, mental and sexual abuse. That includes “being tied up like a fish” and spending weeks chained and tortured in the basement, according to the show.

Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped May 6 when Berry pushed out a door and yelled for help.

Their kidnapper, Ariel Castro, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He hanged himself Sept. 3, just weeks into his sentence.

On “Dr. Phil,” Knight will also discuss how she was able to survive her ordeal. She was 20 years old when she was kidnapped in August 2002.

“Three women were taken, three women were rescued, but only two went home,” said Phil McGraw, referring to Knight’s decision not to reunite with her family.

The Knight interview was announced earlier as three segments but was trimmed.

“Out of respect for Ms. Berry and Ms. DeJesus, she chose to speak about their shared experiences only from her own point of view,” McGraw told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer ( in comments published Saturday.

“When you listen to her describe the horrible living conditions and how she was treated, you wonder how anyone lasted a day let alone more than a decade. In the 12 years of doing the ‘Dr. Phil’ show, no one has changed me like Michelle Knight and her story of survival.”

Knight, the only victim to appear at Castro’s sentencing, told him, “You took 11 years of my life away, but I’ve got my life back! I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”

McGraw said he found Knight “very bright, well-spoken and eager” to have her own voice after suffering years of abuse.

“People have perceived her, probably based on the information in the original missing person report, as being intellectually disabled. I found her to be anything but that.”

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Beholder wins BC Distaff, ends Royal Delta’s reign

(AP) — A wily older jockey and a whip-smart filly named Beholder teamed up to win the $2 million Distaff by 4 ¼ lengths Friday at Santa Anita, spoiling Royal Delta’s bid for a third straight victory at the Breeders’ Cup.

Sent off as the third betting choice, Beholder relaxed while running third down the backstretch before moving up to wrest the lead from pacesetter Authenticity and going on to the easy victory under Gary Stevens.

“There was never a bit of panic from her, so there was never a bit of panic from me,” he said.

Royal Delta and jockey Mike Smith finished fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Distaff.

At 50, Stevens began a comeback in January that has included winning the Preakness Stakes. He earned his ninth career Cup win and first since 2000.

Beholder, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, put herself in position to claim this year’s 3-year-old filly title.

“She’s the most intelligent animal that I’ve ever been around,” Stevens said. “She listens. She doesn’t always obey, but when she’s in a race, she listens to what I want to do and the lessons that she’s been taught.”

Beholder’s owner, Public Storage founder B. Wayne Hughes, credited Stevens.

“Having a comeback like he’s done at his age is phenomenal,” he said. “We really have one of the greatest athletes on the planet sitting right here who is saying the horse is smarter than him, OK?”

It was a good day for the older guys.

Smith, a 48-year-old Hall of Famer, won two of the five Cup races at Santa Anita, and will be aboard early favorite Game On Dude in the $5 million Classic on Saturday.

“We’re just two old athletes that are still applying our trade pretty good,” Stevens said.

Still, he couldn’t resist zinging his longtime friend.

“I’m so proud of Mike,” Stevens said, “even if he did shut me off in one of those races.”

Beholder ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.77 on her home track, where she is trained by Richard Mandella. This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Mandella winning a record four Cup races in a single day at the 2003 world championships.

Beholder paid $7.60, $4.20 and $3.20.

Close Hatches returned $6.60 and $4.80, while Authenticity was another 1 ¾ lengths back in third and paid $4.20 to show.

Hall of Famer Bill Mott trains both Royal Delta and Close Hatches.

“I think Gary had the plan to wait and make a little run,” he said. “She did and his filly ran a tremendous race.”

Street Girl was fifth. Princess of Sylmar was last in the field of six, snapping her streak of four straight Grade 1 victories. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Princess of Sylmar stumbled leaving the starting gate.

“She came away well last, not exactly where you want to be on this track for sure,” he said.

Royal Delta was trying to join Goldikova as the only three-time winners of a Cup race.

“She didn’t have it today. No spark, man,” Smith said. “She usually takes the race to somebody, but not today. I thought when Beholder come up to her, she would pick it up, but she didn’t.”

“I’m kind of dumbfounded,” he said.

Four jockeys and five trainers won each of the Breeders’ Cup races in front of 35,833 fans on a sunny, cloudless day with the temperature in the 80s. Attendance was up 1,214 over last year’s Friday total.

Total wagering on the five Cup races was $35,549,196 — down from last year’s Friday total of $38,936,750.

Smith triggered the day’s biggest upset in the $500,000 Marathon, the first of five Cup races. He guided London Bridge to a length victory that was worth $20 to win.

Smith followed it up with a length victory aboard Britain-bred Outstrip in the $1 million Juvenile Turf, extending his record for most Cup wins by a jockey to 19. Smith is already the event’s leader among money won with more than $23 million.

“We’ve got a bunch of good ones tomorrow,” he said.

Goldencents snapped a five-race skid by winning the $1 million Dirt Mile for co-owner Rick Pitino, the Louisville basketball coach who wasn’t on hand to join the raucous winner’s circle celebration.

“We were really confident,” trainer Doug O’Neill said, “but you never know.”

Rafael Bejarano rode Goldencents to a three-length victory. It was the fourth Cup win and first since 2007 for both him and O’Neill. Goldencents’ skid included a 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a fifth-place in the Preakness when Kevin Krigger was his rider.

“This track is so speed favoring and everyone is just send, send, send,” said Pletcher, whose favored Verrazano wound up fourth. “It changes everything.”

Ireland-bred Chriselliam won the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, giving jockey Richard Hughes and trainer Charles Hills their first Cup victories. The 2-year-old filly paid $15.80 to win. Her owners include retired star jockey Willie Carson and Chris Wright, the founder of music publishing giant Chrysalis.

Associated PressSource:’%20Cup-Day%201/id-b2226c259a994af9867986fc8c9193a5
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Senators: What’s the strategy in Syria?

(AP) — Obama administration officials defended U.S. efforts in Syria Thursday against blistering criticism from Republicans who claim Washington has goals, but no strategy to find a solution that would end the bloody conflict affecting nations throughout the Mideast.

Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to Syria, testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States is proud of the humanitarian and other assistance it has provided to the Syrian opposition trying to topple President Bashar Assad’s government. He acknowledged that the Syrian people were “deeply disappointed” when the U.S. did not take military action against the Syrian regime, but said the administration is working furiously to arrange a conference in Geneva next month to set up a transitional government and end the bloodshed.

Ford had tense exchanges with two of the committee’s harshest GOP critics.

“You continue to call this a civil war, Ambassador Ford,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. “This isn’t a civil war anymore; this is a regional conflict. It’s spread to Iraq. We now have al-Qaida resurgence in Iraq. It’s destabilizing Jordan. Iran is all in. Hezbollah has 5,000 troops there. For you to describe this as a quote, ‘civil war,’ of course, is a gross distortion of the facts, which again makes many of us question your fundamental strategy because you are — you don’t describe the realities on the ground.”

Ford said he does not think that Assad can win militarily and only has the advantage in a few places like around Aleppo in northern Syria. He said Assad has a disadvantage on the battleground in other places, including some in the east and south.

McCain was not satisfied, saying Assad’s killing of civilians remained unchecked.

“Come on. … The fact is that he was about to be toppled a year ago, or over a year ago. Then Hezbollah came in. Then the Russians stepped up their effort. Then the Iranian Revolutionary Guard intervened in what you call a, quote, ‘civil war,’ and he turned the tide. And he continues to maintain his position of power and slaughtering innocent Syrian civilians. And you are relying on a Geneva conference, right?”

The prospects for an international peace conference in Geneva to end the war are unclear.

Assad told the Arab League-U.N. envoy Wednesday that foreign support for the armed opposition must end if any political solution to the country’s conflict is to succeed.

The United States, Russia and the United Nations have been trying for months to bring the Syrian government and the opposition together in Geneva to attempt to negotiate a political resolution to the conflict. After repeated delays, efforts renewed in earnest last month to organize the conference, but the Syrian opposition remains deeply divided over whether to attend, while the government refuses to sit down with the armed opposition.

Meanwhile, fighting continued to rage in Syria. And the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights increased its estimate of the death toll of the war now in its third year. It said more than 120,000 people have been killed since the start of conflict, up from the previous estimate of 100,000. The new estimate said more than 61,000 of the dead were civilians.

“The problem itself is tragic … and we want to help them,” Ford said in one exchange with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the committee. “But ultimately, Senator, Syrians must fix this problem, and ultimately, Senator, it’s going to require them to sit down at a table. The sooner they start, the better. But in the meantime, we will keep helping the opposition, Senator.”

Corker, who has long been critical of the slow pace of aid to Syria, said he thinks the U.S. assistance to Syrian opposition has been an “embarrassment.”

“I find it appalling that you would sit here and act as if we’re doing the things we said we would do three months ago, six months ago, nine months ago,” said Corker. “The London 11 (group of countries that support the opposition) has to look at us as one of the most feckless nations they’ve ever dealt with.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., cautioned that the U.S. should approach the situation in Syria “with a lot of humility, given what we’ve learned after we intervened in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan; after what we’ve seen go on in Egypt.”

“We should just have a little humility in the United States in terms of our ability to control events on the ground in these countries,” he said.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the Foreign Relations panel’s chairman, said in prepared remarks that progress toward destroying Syria’s chemical weapons was “the only positive note” in the worsening crisis.

He referred to the announcement earlier Thursday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Syria had completed the destruction of equipment used to produce chemical weapons, meeting another deadline in an ambitious timeline to eliminate the country’s entire stockpile by mid-2014.

But Menendez lamented the worsening humanitarian crisis caused by the war, noting it has created more than 2 million refugees, and he said lack of progress on a negotiated political settlement portends continued bloodshed and suffering.


Associated Press Writer Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.

Associated PressSource:
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Alcatel One Touch Evolve (T-Mobile)

Today’s smartphones are getting more powerful with every release cycle, and cutting-edge hardware is becoming less expensive as newer components are made available. But not everyone needs cutting-edge hardware. If you’re looking for something that will keep some cash in your pocket, T-Mobile’s least expensive smartphone, the Alcatel One Touch Evolve ($27.99 up front plus $3/month for 24 months or $99.99) is worth a serious look. It doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of T-Mobile’s flagship phone—and our Editors’ Choice—the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it’s also nowhere near as expensive. It does, however, play games, take photos, and have a modern look and feel, making it a good first smartphone for teens and frugal adults.

A svelte, all-black handset, the Evolve measures 4.78 by 2.52 by 0.46 inches (HWD). A chrome band runs around the phone, and it has an angled bottom edge that looks slick and even makes it a little easier to slide the phone in your pocket. The Evolve may be inexpensive, but it doesn’t feel that way. The removable plastic (T-Mobile-branded) back panel has a matte black finish with a cutout for the speaker and a minuscule rim that protects the 5-megapixel camera from scratches. Underneath, there’s a removable 1400mAh battery covering the full-size SIM card and a microSD slot that supports cards up to 64GB.

On the top of the phone to the right is the Power button, next to the headphone jack in the center. On the right side, near the top, is the volume rocker. Opposite the rocker on the right side of the phone is the micro USB port, no doubt there because of the angled bottom. It’s an inconvenient placement if you’re right-handed and use the Evolve in landscape mode, as the cable when plugged into the phone is in the way of your fingers underneath it as they try to naturally handle the phone.

The Evolve’s 4-inch, 480-by-800 TFT LCD is bright enough to be used outdoors, and images looked vibrant and well-saturated. At 233 pixels per inch, the screen serves up easily readable text. Letters look clear and crisp. Compared with Alcatel’s more expensive ($169) T-Mobile phone, the Fierce, its 960-by-540 4.5-inch TFT LCD, and its 244 pixels per inch, the display on the Evolve is a lot sharper and just as bright. The viewing angles aren’t great, however. If you’re watching video with a friend, make sure your heads are close together.

Included with the Evolve is a micro USB cable and a larger-than-usual wall charger.  

Connectivity, Call Quality
The One Touch Evolve integrates 802.11 b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi, A-GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, but there’s no LTE. You’ll get 3G speeds with HSPA on the GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and UMTS 850/1900/AWS bands.

In my tests, call quality wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either. My voice sounded clear but synthetic, with a light static over everything. Noise cancellation wasn’t particularly effective outside on a busy New York City street. The person on the other end of the call complained about traffic noises interrupting my speech. My call partner’s voice came through loud and clear, but was a little harsh. The speakerphone doesn’t get very loud, and can be difficult to use outside in noisy environments.

T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling lets you make phone calls over Wi-Fi networks when you’re low on minutes, or when T-Mobile cellular service is less than stellar or unavailable.

Battery life was in line with other phones in this price range. In our talk tests the One Touch Evolve lasted 5 hours and 13 minutes. The Fierce, to compare, lasted 7 hours and 55 minutes.

OS, Performance
The phone runs on an 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 single-core processor and 512MB of RAM. There’s 4GB of onboard storage, but only 1.03GB is available for the user. More than a couple of apps or music albums will quickly fill that, so a microSD card is strongly recommended.

Though it’s running a not terribly aged Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, many of the icons have been altered by Alcatel, and look a little more childish. There can always be less bloatware, but it’s not horrible here: You get Lookout Security as well as T-Mobile’s Mobile Hotspot, My Account, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, and Visual Voicemail apps, none of which are removable. There’s no word from Alcatel on whether the Evolve with receive any updates OS updates.

The on-screen keyboard defaults to Swype, which allows you to drag your finger across the keyboard, for quicker letter entry. It’s an easy-to-use feature and a nice time saver. Also included is an FM radio app, where you can save your favorite station and even record audio.

The Evolve played almost every media file I could throw at it, including FLAC, OGG, and WAV, but there’s no support for 1080p video. It’s capped at 720p. The rear-mounted speaker sounds tinny and doesn’t provide much volume, but that’s to be expected from a phone of this caliber. My headphones got plenty loud, even on the lowest volume level.

In our graphical performance tests—Nenamark and Taiji—the Evolve scored 23.5 and 9.14 frames per second, respectively. Not great scores, but good enough for an inexpensive phone. Popular games like Temple Run 2 and Fruit Ninja ran smoothly, though I suspect some of the more intense graphical games in the Google Play Store will choke the Evolve. Web browsing was very smooth, and switching between games and other apps was quick and fluid.

The 5-megapixel camera takes decent, but not great photos. Most lack proper exposure and show washed-out colors, and indoor photos are noisy, but they’re not unusable. The camera is fast, though, offering quick continuous shooting when you hold down the shutter button or volume rocker. The lack of flash really limits the low-light photos you can take, and, of course, you can’t use your phone as a flashlight.

The phone records 720p video and is able to keep its frame rate consistent no matter the light levels. Your footage will suffer from the lack of image stabilization, and graininess when shooting indoors, but again, for a budget phone, it’s not bad. The VGA-quality front-facing camera is just that: VGA-quality. You won’t see any detail unless your subject is very well lit.

The Alcatel One Touch Evolve isn’t the best Android phone on T-Mobile. That’s the Galaxy S4. But for $100 total, it’s not a bad deal at all, offering good performance and features for the price.

If you need a physical keyboard you can try the free-on-contract myTouch Q, but it runs an ancient version of Android. For about $70 more, you can grab the Evolve’s 4.5-inch counterpart, the Alcatel One Touch Fierce, which packs a quad-core processor and 1GB or RAM, but still lacks LTE. If you’re on T-Mobile and are looking to enter the Android ecosystem with little investment, the Evolve worth a look.  It’s cheap, can run apps like Facebook and Candy Crush Saga, and it looks good doing it.

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We Are the 5 Percent

Cory Gardner and Kathleen Sebelius
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) listens as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about the troubled launch of the website on Wednesday.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Here’s my letter,” said Rep. Cory Gardner. The central Colorado congressman, who looks like an eager Batman sidekick grown up and made good, waved “the letter that my family got canceling our insurance.” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius looked on, framed by TV and still cameras capturing every flutter of the paper.

“We chose to have our own private policy back in Colorado so we could be in the same boat as our constituents,” said the congressman. “And yet my insurance policy has been canceled. The White House website says, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it. Did I hear it wrong?”

Sebelius, who had sweated through three hours of questions (almost half of them, to be fair, from friendly Democrats), talked to Gardner as if trying to troubleshoot for him. “I don’t know how long you’ve had your plan,” she said.

“Why aren’t you losing your health insurance?” asked Garner.

From there, the discussion turned into a familiar shaming exercise about why administration officials or liberal congressmen won’t sign onto the health care exchanges. Democrats find that easy to dismiss; Rep. Henry Waxman, the snappy ranking member of the committee, asked Sebelius if she could follow Gardner’s advice and secure a health plan that “would be able to protect you from cheap shots?”

Now that Obamacare is being implemented, the rest of the GOP is going to feel the pain of the middle class.

But after the hearing, Gardner kept on fulminating about the broken “you can keep it” promise. In a TV statement, and in a short conversation with reporters, Gardner repeated the president’s phrase like a mantra. An insurer had informed Gardner and his family that their old plan was unavailable, replaced by something with a “significantly higher” cost. They were among the 15 million people who bought insurance on the individual market, and now among the 7 to 12 million whose plans would be ended by Affordable Care Act regulations.

“We’re like millions of Americans who lost our plan after the president said if we liked it we could keep it,” he said. “We called them up, and I said, ‘Is this due to Obamacare?’ They said, ‘Yeah.’ ”

To Republicans, this is the latest in an ongoing series of Obamacare “smoking guns,” proof that the law never should have passed. And it’s more than that. It’s a shift away from the fruitless, theoretical, absolutist attacks of the past few months. Let Sen. Ted Cruz go on about liberty and tyranny and the evils of the living Constitution. Now that Obamacare is being implemented, the rest of the party is going to feel the pain of the middle class.

That pain is most acutely felt, right now, by the 5 percent of Americans who shop on the individual insurance market. For more than three years, health care reporters had been warning that these plans would be altered or scrapped as they comported with new regulations, and for at least the last month conservatives had been circulating the letters from companies warning of the change. Gardner actually released his one month ago, the sort of dramatic gesture that might have gotten more attention had congressional conservatives not been betting all their chips on a government shutdown.

Since the shutdown ended, some of the conservatives most identified with Manichean calls to shrink the government are calling for something new. Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, won a new national following with a book (The Battle) about how each new government program put a brick on the “road to serfdom.” Yet in an Oct. 18 speech, he warned conservatives against “insane” attacks on “the government social safety net for the truly indigent.”

“We somehow want to zero out food stamps or something,” said Brooks. “It’s nuts to want to be doing something like that. We have to declare peace on the safety net.”

This week, in a speech at D.C.’s other conservative mega–think tank, Utah Sen. Mike Lee did a similar reshuffle of conservative talking points. It was worth building a federal system that rewarded good behavior and lifted up the poor, even if that meant—clutch your handkerchief—some redistribution of wealth. “Many middle-class parents may pay no income taxes—but they do pay taxes,” said Lee. “Working parents are not free riders.”

What Brooks, Lee, and Gardner all realized was that conservative Republicans needed to acknowledge what government looked like in 2013. The “if you like it, you can keep it” story, which they should have glommed on to earlier, inverts the health care narrative that had always made Democrats sound like Samaritans and Republicans sound like misers. Before, the “exemplar” story of health care was of the sick person (preferably young, preferably cherubic) being denied coverage because of villainous HMOs. Now, the networks were full of exemplars whose insurers had been held down and smothered by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ invisible army of regulators.

This has Democrats spooked, for the moment. On Wednesday, as Republicans got ready to roll out a bill literally named “The If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act of 2013,” Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu promised her own version. “The promise was made and it should be kept,” said the Democrat, who’s up for re-election in 13 months. “It was our understanding when we voted for that, that people when they have insurance could keep what they had.”

So the sad insurance company letters will roll in, and Republicans will keep making them famous. As the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn puts it, this tact gets Republicans out of a jam on their own health spending plans. Almost every member of the party is on record for Medicaid reforms that would end the program for millions of people, hypothetically more than are getting the bad news about private insurance plans now. Democrats, for now, are set to be the party of pain and suffering. That’s surely why Republicans at the hearing didn’t actually call for Sebelius to quit her job, or for the president to fire her.

“If this were the private sector, heads would roll,” said an eager reporter to committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, after the hearings.

“I had the opportunity to work at the White House myself, as a political appointee,” said Upton. “I served, every day, at the pleasure of the president. I knew that if I didn’t do my job, I probably wasn’t going to be there. Because she is there, she is serving with his pleasure, and, uh …”

He trailed off, but the point was clear. Republicans have a better target than Sebelius.

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