Area Reporter Returns From Book Leave

Programming note: My three-week break, which I intended to use to outline my upcoming book and write one full chapter of it, is over. The chapter and outline are done. Several short leaves remain, but the difference between having no idea how long it’ll take to put words on paper and knowing basically how many pages you can write in a day is substantial. I can’t thank Emma Roller enough for filling in here. One reason I can’t thank her enough is that she will have to do it again when I get to the chapter about Yes’ 90125 album and Asia.

What did I miss? Well, I punched in during filibuster reform and the death of Nelson Mandela, so none of that. The remainders:

- Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who made an incredible comeback 16 years after losing his seat and proceeded to become a fount of oddball quotes, will run against Texas Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP primary. The idea of Cornyn as a hopeless squish is fairly new to Tea Party politics, and the fact that Ted Cruz parlayed years of “rising star” buzz into a 2012 primary win does not mean just any chucklehead can win a statewide primary in Texas.

- John Podesta was lured away from the Center for American Progress to become a wartime consigliere for the White House, through 2014. The temptation to be on the scene for two presidential impeachments was just too sweet.

- Healthcare.gov basically works now, at least on the account end, but Alec MacGillis was in the courtroom for the latest bank shot legal challenge: the argument that insurance subsidies were clearly meant only for states that set up exchanges. If this wins it’s a major defeat for the “congressional intent” argument, because absolutely no one speculated on this “feature” of the law during the tooth-pulling, yearlong health care debate.