Morning Briefing: March 16, 2012

President Obama again on Thursday urged Congress to put an end to expensive subsidies for the largest US oil companies amid rising gas prices. In a speech in Maryland, Obama told supporters that Congress “can stand up for the oil companies…or [they] can stand up for the American people,” a line that’s sure to play prominently during the general election campaign.

A top Iranian official, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said in an interview that “every possibility is on the table” if Iran is attacked. He also claimed that President Ahmadinejad’s remark that Israel be “wiped off the map” was “definitely not” meant in a military sense and is not the “policy of Iran.”

Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) was ruled ineligible to vote at the Indianapolis house he sold decades ago. Lugar has vowed to appeal the county board of elections ruling.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) fears a Romney nomination would neutralize the health care reform issue, noting that because RomneyCare was so similar to the Affordable Care Act, “you are effectively giving that issue up” by selecting Romney as the nominee.

In the wake of the fallout over Goldman Sach’s practices, JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon instructed his bank’s employees not to profit from the controversy. “I want to be clear that I don’t want anyone here to seek advantage from a competitor’s alleged issues or hearsay — ever. It’s not the way we do business,” Dimon said in an internal memo, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The U.S. soldier being held in connection with the shooting of 16 Afghan civilians was under the influence of alcohol and “snapped,” according to a report in the New York Times. The soldier—a 38 year old father of two—was on his fourth tour of duty and was struggling to work through marital difficulties at the time of the massacre.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan writes that “there is a war against women” in American public life. She argues, “In this war, leaders who are women are publicly demeaned and diminished based on the fact that they are women. They are the object of sexual slurs, and insulted in sexual terms.”

A handful of Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are warning that the Patriot Act is being used by the Obama administration in stunning ways to conduct surveillance on the American public. “In recent months we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the ‘intelligence collection operation,’” Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall wrote.

And finally: The Hasidic cleric known as Michael Jackson’s rabbi is now running for Congress in New Jersey.