Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to David J. Pecker, owner of The National Enquirer.

Patty Duke died yesterday...

...and it really made me stop what I was doing for a minute. Ms. Duke was only 69 years old (!) and The Patty Duke Show was a vivid memory for me. I even mentioned it in a post a few years ago about one of my childhood homes:

My sister, Joanne, would usually do her homework in front of the TV in the den and I would often sneak in there after my bedtime to watch "Patty Duke" with her. 

(Coincidentally, my sister just turned 69 in January.)

I have to admit, Ms. Duke's death knocked me off my stride a little.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ever notice how the...

...Affordable Care Act's critics are always warning that the health care law is just about to fail? Really -- seriously -- any day now -- just watch!

Today's Chicken Little is Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in Bloomberg, "Hold the Obamacare Celebrations" (all emphasis  mine):

...the law's harms look set to rise.

...And as flawed as the law already appears, worse days may be ahead for it.

...the exchanges could prove incapable of sustaining themselves.

...Obamacare will probably have to be changed substantially under the next president.

Ay yi yi!

(I was out with some other boring old white guys last night and the conversation turned to politics. When I suggested that Hillary would probably win in the fall they all groaned. And their moods didn't improve any when I said I thought she'd be president for the next eight years.

What is it with my fellow boring old white guys? When are they going to admit that the peace and prosperity of the Clinton and Obama years were far superior to the utter chaos of the Bush era? Is it that they still view the Gipper through the gauzy prism of nostalgia? Or is it that they only read The Wall Street Journal and watch Fox News and think America is hopelessly decadent?)

Anyway, back to Mr. Ponnuru and his critique of Obamacare. Let's take it point by point.

President Barack Obama and his allies are celebrating the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on the sixth anniversary of its passage. They say it has provided insurance coverage to millions of Americans and come in below cost.

Oops! Ponnuru goes on to admit that it has. But,

Deductibles in employer health plans have been rising fast, leaving many people with policies that -- thanks to Obamacare regulations -- cover routine medical expenses but leave them on the hook for thousands of dollars in a medical emergency. A sensible insurance policy would have the opposite priorities.

Deductibles in employer health plans have been rising fast for decades. And where's this mythical "sensible insurance policy" to which he's referring? Did the Republicans come up with a replacement plan when I wasn't looking?

The administration argues that the law has contributed to a slowdown in the growth of health spending.  But that slowdown started in 2002. Obamacare can’t be the cause. The best that can be said about the law's effect on health spending is that its early years haven't interrupted that slowdown. 

So the ACA hasn't led to higher costs after all, like its critics feared.

The Congressional Budget Office believes that the law is having a negative effect on employment. It projects that Americans next year will work the equivalent of 2 million fewer jobs because of the law. That’s partly because the law’s subsidies decline when people work more. The subsidies thus reduce the rewards to work and induce people to work less.

Isn't this one of those zombie ideas that just won't die? If you don't need your job to get health insurance, then you may not need to work. Right?

More Americans dislike Obamacare than like it, which has been the case since before its passage. More think the law has hurt them than think it has helped them.

What if they're just plain wrong? Without Obamacare millions more would be without insurance. And you'd be on the hook for their emergency room visits. Also, as long as you have insurance through work you don't need the ACA. But if you should happen to lose your job -- not unimaginable -- you'll love the exchanges. (Especially if you have pre-existing conditions.)

Obamacare was a badly designed law. We could have achieved gains in insurance coverage without Obamacare’s regulation-heavy approach; we could have addressed the health-care system’s discrete problems without trying to overhaul it from Washington, D.C.

Those without access to employer health plans could have been given enough money to buy a policy that protected them against catastrophic expenses -- and that offered more protection if they put some of their own income into the policy. Modest regulatory changes could have been made to make it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to get coverage, too.

Yeah, we could have done all that stuff -- but we didn't. In the very next paragraph Ponnuru says:

Neither Republicans nor Democrats, for different reasons, were interested in going down that path when Obamacare was being debated. 

And that's the rub: Republicans never wanted health care reform because it didn't serve their constituents' (hospitals, drug companies, medical device manufacturers, health insurers, the rich) interests. So Democrats took the Republican health care plan from the '90s and passed it by the skin of its teeth.

To repeat for the millionth time: the ACA was the best health care reform plan that could get passed.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Rita Gam, an actress who died last week at age 88.

According to her obit in the Times, Gam was her real name, sort of:

Rita Eleanore Mackay was born in Pittsburgh on April 2, 1927, to Milton A. Mackay, a native of Alsace-Lorraine who died when she was 4, and the former Belle Fately, who was born in Romania.

She took the name of her stepfather, Benjamin J. Gam, a dress manufacturer, who was born in Russia. (As a synonym for glamorous legs, “gams” predates her film career.)

Remember the election...

...of 1988? George H. W. Bush, Reagan's vice president, clobbered Gov. Michael Dukakis. Poppy got over 53 percent of the popular vote and carried 40 states and 426 Electoral votes.

In a post last month I compared the 41st president to Hillary Clinton:

Mrs. Clinton and George H. W. Bush were both centrist, establishment figures who ran for their party's nominations but were defeated by charismatic outsiders. They then served faithfully in key roles in their opponents' administrations. After eight successful years, they each ran for their predecessors' "third term" and, despite scandals (remember Iran-Contra?) and lackluster finishes in the Iowa caucuses, won their party's nominations.

In the general election they both began as underdogs. Inarticulate and uninspiring candidates, especially when compared with their predecessors, they both benefited from economic recoveries and improved global standings. After initially trailing their opponents, who were from their party's ideological wings, they eventually won their general elections handily.

Okay, so Mrs. Clinton probably won't be an underdog in the fall and Donald Trump isn't from the Republican Party's ideological wing. (Although Ted Cruz is.) And I really don't expect the map to look anything like the one at the top of this post. It could look a little more like this:

...In Bloomberg today, Jonathan Bernstein notes that President Obama "has reached 53 percent approval from Gallup, a three-year high, and he’s been at or above 50 percent in that survey for four weeks." Also (my emphasis):

That should help Hillary Clinton’s chances in November. Current presidential approval, along with some measure of economic performance, both have strong effects on general election voting. They aren’t perfect predictors, but they seem to make a difference.

In the Gallup survey, Obama is now doing a little bit better than Ronald Reagan was in late March 1988.

(Wha-a-t??? President Blackenstein is outpolling the Gipper??? Say it ain't so!)

If the economy keeps humming along, and if there's no major terrorist attack* this fall, the election should be Hillary's to lose.

* I'm starting to think even this wouldn't matter. After all, the recent events in Brussels didn't seem to affect Obama's approval ratings. Maybe -- just like mass shootings -- we're morbidly getting used to them.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Here's an incredibly boring...

...piece on an incredibly boring topic that I couldn't even bring myself to read, "Why Hillary Won't Be Indicted and Shouldn't Be: An Objective Legal Analysis," with the subtitle, "There is no reason to think that Clinton committed any crimes with respect to the use of her email server." It's by some guy named Richard O. Lempert, the Eric Stein Distinguished University Professor of Law and Sociology emeritus at the University of Michigan. Yawn.

I only link to it because I can't get over how many people think Mrs. Clinton should and/or will be indicted over this email "scandal." Good grief! I don't know anything about it but just ask yourself this question, If there was any chance -- any chance at all -- that Hillary would be indicted, don't you think Joe Biden (or someone else) would have run for president, just in case?

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“We’ve already projected a winner.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

I can't decide who...

...should get my first-ever Optimist of the Day award, David Brooks or Jonathan Bernstein.

First Mr. Brooks, who writes in his New York Times column today, "The Post-Trump Era":

This is a wonderful moment to be a conservative.

Um, no it's not. Not only are we a long way from the "post-Trump era," but it's also a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time to be a conservative.

If Republicans somehow don't nominate Donald Trump in Cleveland this summer, Ted Cruz is next in line. I really don't know who would be worse for the GOP, but neither one could win as many states as Mitt Romney did in 2012. And Republicans will have to live with four, maybe eight, years of Bill and Hillary Clinton -- again -- in the White House. (Remember how that drove them absolutely crazy last time? They may even find themselves pining for the good 'ol days when the skinny black guy with the funny last name was in the Oval Office.)

Brooks concedes that Trump:

...will almost certainly go down to a devastating defeat, either in the general election or — God help us — as the worst president in American history.

Yep, great time to be a conservative.

Brooks doesn't put it quite this way, but the Republican Party is kind of like a raging alcoholic on the verge of hitting rock bottom. (I'd stand back if I were him.) If you've never been to an AA meeting, rock bottom is often associated with losing one's job, one's marriage or getting into a really bad car crash. (Sometimes all three.) And like an alcoholic finally embarking on the long journey up from rock bottom, it's often marked by backsliding, "slips" and other unforeseen obstacles. Oh, and it can take years.

Brooks concludes by saying:

Nobody knows what it will be, but it’s exciting to be present at the re-creation.

It'll be exciting, all right. Sounds like that old Chinese curse*, "May you live in interesting times."

My other contestant this morning is Jonathan Bernstein, who writes in Bloomberg, "It's Not Too Late for Trump to Lose the Nomination."


I guess -- strictly speaking -- Mr. Bernstein is right in that Trump's nomination won't be a done deal until the Republican convention this summer, but it's sure looking that way. Never mind all the red-faced pundits who are finally waving the white flag, let's consult the betting markets. Paddy Power has Trump at 3/10 odds of being the GOP standard-bearer. Think Mitt Romney is going to swoop in at the last minute and snatch the nomination away from the Donald? Then put your money where your mouth is -- the odds are 50/1! You could end up as rich as Mittens.

Bernstein reminds me a little of his colleague Megan McArdle, who continues to write after six years of passage and contrary to all evidence, that the Affordable Care Act is about to come crashing down any minute now. And Bernstein has been equally tenacious that the Trump bubble is just bound to burst. It makes me wonder, What's in the water cooler at Bloomberg?

Bernstein cites "three ways that Donald Trump still could be denied the Republican nomination":

1. He could lose the delegate lead. 

2. He could retain the delegate lead, but fail to reach the 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination. Or,

3. He could hit 1,237 and still lose at the convention.

But he forgot a fourth: Trump could announce on the eve of the convention that this was all a great big practical joke and he's endorsing Hillary Clinton for president after all. Gotcha!

In other words, Bernstein is right: anything can happen. But I'm afraid in the Five Stages of Grief he's still stuck in denial, while the rest of us have moved on to acceptance.

But don't worry Mr. Bernstein, Donald Trump may get the Republican nomination, but he'll never, ever be president of the United States.

How's that for optimism? Or is it denial?

* Apparently, this is neither Chinese nor a curse. Whatever.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I dashed off...

...a quick response yesterday to Paul Ryan's speech that looks today as though I dashed off a quick response. (Not crazy about my writing lately.)

But Simon Maloy, writing in Salon, had a much cleaner take. First a quote from Ryan's speech, followed by a point I wish I'd made (my emphasis):

We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you. We don’t just oppose someone or something. We propose a clear and compelling alternative. And when we do that, we don’t just win the argument. We don’t just win your support. We win your enthusiasm. We win hearts and minds. We win a mandate to do what needs to be done to protect the American Idea.

It was perversely appropriate for Paul Ryan to deliver this speech, with those lines, on March 23: the six-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law. The Republican response to the ACA’s passage has been to scare people – you’ll lose your coverage and then probably be murdered by the death panel – and to oppose it without offering an alternative. There have been God knows how many votes to repeal or weaken the ACA in Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives over that six-year time period, but the number of legislative alternatives to Obamacare put forth by the GOP can be counted on zero fingers. The Republican policy during the Obama administration, on healthcare reform and pretty much every other issue area, has been to stoke fears and wring political benefit from unyielding opposition.

As I listened to Ryan's disingenuous speech yesterday, I couldn't help picturing Republicans (like my sister, for example) gushing over what a nice, sincere young man this Paul Ryan is. Sorry, folks, but I'm with Krugman: the guy's a con artist.

And the reason Ryan and the rest of the GOP establishment don't like Trump is that the arriviste is straying off the reservation on trade, taxes, entitlements, immigration, the Iraq war, etc. The Donald is just a con man who won't stay on script.

The Tom Toles...

...cartoon of the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Paul Ryan -- the head...

...of the Animal House fraternity -- just delivered a speech on the virtue of sobriety (my emphasis):

"Ideas, passionately promoted and put to the test—that’s what politics can be. That’s what our country can be. It can be a confident America, where we have a basic faith in politics and leaders. It can be a place where we’ve earned that faith. All of us as leaders can hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency. Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations. Instead of playing the identity politics of “our base” and “their base,” we unite people around ideas and principles. And instead of being timid, we go bold. 

"We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you. We don’t just oppose someone or something. We propose a clear and compelling alternative. And when we do that, we don’t just win the argument. We don’t just win your support. We win your enthusiasm. We win hearts and minds. We win a mandate to do what needs to be done to protect the American Idea.

"In a confident America, we also have a basic faith in one another. We question each other’s ideas—vigorously—but we don’t question each other’s motives. If someone has a bad idea, we don’t think they’re a bad person. We just think they have a bad idea. People with different ideas are not traitors. They are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow citizens. Sometimes they’re our friends. Sometimes they’re even our own flesh and blood, right? We all know someone we love who disagrees with us politically, or votes differently.

"But in a confident America, we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. We don’t lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don’t shut down on people—and we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions too." 

Was the Speaker talking about Marco Rubio? Or himself?

P. S. Funny, I don't recall any Republicans objecting when Donald Trump was talking about President Obama's birth certificate four years ago.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This past weekend, I did...

...something I had never done before: I walked downtown and wandered around aimlessly with no purpose whatsoever.

It was great.

How many times have I been downtown? A gazillion. And how many times have I had the luxury of not needing to be anywhere at any time and just admire the buildings? Never.

Take that gargoyle, or whatever it is, across the street from St. Peter's in the Loop Catholic Church on Madison. Someone went to a lot of time and expense to put that there. And I had never noticed it before -- I was always in too great a hurry to ever look up and just check it out.

Speaking of St. Peter's, I'd often passed it by and thought to myself, I really should go in there some time and see it. It looks so cool from the outside.

I think I remember the first time I walked past St. Peter's and noticed how "urban" it was. After moving to Chicago 35 years ago, I still can't get over how the architecture in the city is so different from where I grew up in the suburbs. And St. Peter's is a classic example: flanked by two other buildings and extending right out to the sidewalk, it isn't like the free-standing churches you'd see elsewhere. (Where, for example, is the massive asphalt parking lot/playground?) Because of its mostly flat facade, you could easily walk right past it without even realizing it was a church at all.

As I ventured inside on Saturday I immediately recalled a post, "Chicago’s Holy Corner," from one of my favorite blogs, A Chicago Sojourn:

Wedged between two adjoining buildings, St. Peter's Catholic Church gives the impression that it was carved out from a solid rock face. Solid, planar walls contrast startlingly with deeply hewn entrances and window openings, creating one of the best facades in the city. Unlike the contemporaneous Queen of Heaven mausoleum, this 1953 church (architects: Vitzhum and Burns) shows a mix of modern and historical influences.

A three-story high crucifix by Austrian sculptor Arvid Strauss completes this compelling composition.

Deprived of natural light, the designers had to turn to other tricks to give the space a sense of holiness. Illuminated sculpture niches serve in place of stained glass windows, portraying the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

Or from a book he cites, Heavenly City:

Its "starkly modern, planar design" is not without "some Art Deco and Gothic elements." (The altar was covered in red for Passion Sunday.)

As for that crucifix, it's "comparable to a visual loudspeaker, trying its best to be seen amidst the tall buildings and the hustle and bustle from the streets below."

"Since it abuts buildings on its east and west walls, only the window over the main door is pierced by natural light. In place of large clerestory windows, the architects substituted bas-relief Botticino marble scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi."

St. Francis of Assisi? Why not St. Peter? Oh, well -- whatever -- just go with it. It's a cool church.

Next: Chicago Temple.

John Kasich says...

...he's not interested in being Donald Trump's running mate. From Bloomberg:

Front-runner Donald Trump's two remaining rivals for the Republican presidential nomination said they have no interest in being his vice presidential nominee.

Kasich was more categorical. "There is zero chance that I'd be vice president with either [Trump or Cruz]," he said. "Below zero, actually. Not interested."

Hmm. Why don't the betting markets believe him? From Paddy Power:

John Kasich, 5/2
Chris Christie, 11/4
Nikki Haley, 5/1

Oh, and while we're at it, let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Gov. Kasich is a "moderate." (I'd say more like Scott Walker with a bad haircut.)

According to Jonathan Chait (my emphasis):

Kasich would cut the top tax rate to 28 percent from its current 39.6 percent rate. He would cut the capital gains tax rate from 25 percent to 15 percent, cut the estate tax rate from 40 percent to zero, cut the business tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and allow businesses to immediately write off the full cost of all investments — a tax cut for the rich of a scale never before seen in American history.

Can you imagine that? The Walton family could pass down its billions tax-free.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Elliot Gant, the last...

...of the founders of the company that made Gant shirts, died at age 89.

From his obit in the Times:

Beginning in the late 1940s, Martin and Elliot Gantmacher popularized the button-down shirt as a de rigueur garment for Ivy League and Madison Avenue men. They were so taken with their success, in fact, that not long after their company was rebranded Gant in 1949, the brothers adopted the label as their surname.

The Gants did not invent the button-down; the venerable Brooks Brothers haberdashery had borrowed the style from British polo players decades earlier, and it had been romanticized here and there in popular culture.

It's hard to overstate what a big deal Gant was when I was growing up in the 1970s.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Two thoughts from a...

...(very) casual -- and, admittedly, not well-informed -- sports fan:

1) How the heck did Holy Cross get to the NCAA basketball tournament with a losing record (and not even one victory on the road in the regular season)? I know, I know: the Crusaders won the Patriot League tournament, earning an automatic bid to the Big Dance. But still, shouldn't you at least have a winning record to earn the chance to play for the national championship? If not, what is the regular season for, just playoff seeds?


2) What kind of a world is it where a .207 hitter not only makes $13 million a year, but can also walk away from it?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I can't believe there's...

...really such a thing as a "hand model."

This article, "What a Hand Model Knows About Skin Care," was in the New York Times today, not -- repeat, not -- in the Onion. ("All the News That's Fit to Print"?)

From the Onion, I mean, the Times (my emphasis):

“I actually used to be embarrassed about admitting I was a hand model, like I should be contributing more to society than nice nail beds,” said Adele Uddo, who, like many women in front of the camera, declined to reveal her age. “But I figure we’re all doing our part.”

Ms. Uddo is one of the most successful parts models in the world, able to command as much as $6,000 for a day’s work, she said.

The work can be tedious. She can’t text or read because often two manicurists work on her simultaneously. The process is repeated for up to 15 nail looks in a day.

Some hand models baby their hands, wearing armorlike gloves and keeping their arms raised to avoid bloating. (For George Costanza on “Seinfeld,” oven mitts did the trick.) But Ms. Uddo considers herself a “rebel hand model,” even hiking, a favorite pastime. 

Hiking? Who would have thought hiking would be a risky activity for a hand model? She doesn't walk on her hands, does she?

She does admit to moving slowly and deliberately so as not to break a nail, avoiding cooking and limiting caffeine so her hands don’t shake on tight close-ups. She moisturizes with an all-natural lotion she makes herself and met a reporter for tea wearing fingerless gloves, which she kept on indoors.

“We women can be hard on ourselves, but every woman should be able to find some part of her that she most likes,” Ms. Uddo said.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Otto Warmbier, the college student who was sentenced on Wednesday by the North Korean government to 15 years of prison and hard labor.

His last name in German means exactly what you would think it means.

I probably shouldn't make fun of this kid; that sentence sounds pretty extreme. But according to a story in the Times, Bill Richardson (my emphasis):

...a longtime American diplomat and former governor of New Mexico who has visited Pyongyang a number of times ... suggested that the punishment should not necessarily be taken at face value.

“An unfortunate development but a familiar pattern with American detainees,” Mr. Richardson said in an email. “Hopefully a prelude to negotiations that might lead to a release on humanitarian grounds.”

Still, what the hell's that kid doing in North Korea in the first place?

The State Department strongly discourages Americans from traveling to the country...

Whatever happened to spending spring break puking in Fort Lauderdale?

Bobby Jindal has to be... of the most clueless individuals around. After leaving Louisiana in an absolute mess, the former governor appeared on MTP Daily yesterday to essentially tell Chuck Todd that Republican voters were wrong to choose Donald Trump over a safe, establishment candidate such as -- oh, I don't know -- him.

Seven months ago, Jindal said:

Donald Trump is non-serious, he is a carnival act, he is shallow, there is no substance, he doesn't know anything about policy, he has no idea what he's talking about, he makes it up on the fly. Trump is a narcissist and he's an ego maniac, and like all narcissists, he's insecure and weak.

Yesterday, Jindal told Chuck Todd:

I still don't think Donald Trump is a conservative. I think he's done a brilliant job of tapping into the middle class voter's anxiety.

But he's not really a conservative.

Jindal said Trump isn't for entitlement reform, doesn't necessarily stand with Israel and talks about the government taking over health care.

But then he said, "when huge chunks of your base are telling you something you have to listen to them." Jindal concedes it would be "hypocritical to have an election and ignore the results."

Jindal then goes on to ignore the results.

According to him, Republican voters "want freedom and opportunity," so "conservatives have an obligation to speak directly to those middle class voters. It's not enough to tell them we're going to shrink government, cut taxes and go after the EPA, we have to show them why our policies lead to opportunity and growth. Our conservative policies are good for everybody."

In other words, Jindal knows what Republican voters really want (even if they don't); the problem is he's not speaking LOUD enough.

Finally, Jindal reiterates that Trump is "completely wrong on a whole lot of issues," including Israel, entitlements and global trade agreements.

Oh, but of course he'll support Donald Trump in the fall. Oy!

P. S. Jindal makes reference at one point to a "fiction novel." Is there any other kind? (I know; cheap shot.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'll be busy making corned beef and cabbage for twelve. Yum!

Now that we know...

...who the two nominees for president are, let's have a look at who their respective running mates might be.*

(I told my son the other day that, as I understand it, the way it works is that the candidates look at the polls on the eve of the convention and find out essentially who on their short list -- or long list -- would help them the most with whatever demographic they're targeting the most. So, in other words, this exercise is completely useless. But, hey, it's a horse race, so sit back and enjoy the show!)

Since I printed a picture with Trump on the left, let's start with the Republicans. And on Paddy Power, John Kasich leads the top three:

Kasich, 5/2 odds
Chris Christie, 11/4
Nikki Haley, 5/1

Kasich makes the most sense to me because he's a likable enough fellow who could provide a bridge to the establishment. If anyone could say, "Donald, don't do that," it would be Kasich. (Now whether or not Trump would listen is another story.) Also, he's the popular governor of a state the GOP badly needs to win the White House.

As for the other two, does the GOP really need another bombastic northeastern bully on the ticket? I don't think so. Besides, which state could Christie deliver for the Republicans? Certainly not New Jersey. And Gov. Haley of South Carolina? Boy, she'd have to eat a lot of crow to take the job! But, like Kasich, she's from the establishment (via the tea party) and could hopefully -- hopefully -- provide a check on the Donald's worst instincts. Like Christie, though, what state would she help Trump win, South Carolina? The Republicans could run practically anyone and they'd take the Palmetto State.

On the Democratic side, Paddy Power has Julian Castro and Tim Kaine tied for first at 3/1 odds. Elizabeth Warren and Labor Secretary Tom Perez (I had to Google his name) are tied for second at 7/1. While we're at it, let's throw in Sen. Sharrod Brown as well.

Castro, 3/1
Kaine, 3/1
Warren, 7/1
Perez, 7/1
Brown, 10/1

Castro's easy: he's young, male and Hispanic -- three things Hillary is not. But while he's 41 years old, he looks like he's about 21 and could raise questions about his readiness to take over in a crisis. Hence Perez's name, I suppose; he's male and Hispanic but 54 (and looks like he's 64). Kaine is a boring old white guy (stop snickering!) who could presumably deliver his home state of Virginia. Brown's the same, except he hails from Ohio and is seen as more liberal. Sen. Warren would be an interesting choice: two women on the national ticket! My guess, though, is she'd only be chosen if Bernie Sanders's supporters made a stink. It would have to be a big stink, however, to take a chance on an all-female ticket (and Mrs. Clinton is famous for playing it safe). Also, the current governor of Massachusetts is a Republican and Democrats could lose Ms. Warren's seat in the Senate (remember Scott Brown?).

So that's a snapshot of where we are in the Veepstakes. (Purely speculative at this point.)

* I ran into another one of my neighbors yesterday and when I said the two nominees were in place she said she wasn't so sure about Mrs. Clinton. "I keep reading about those emails," she shook her head. "Obama will probably instruct his attorney general not to pursue it -- but she should be IN JAIL!"

Yikes. I guess there are more kooks around here than I thought.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gogi Grant, who...

...sang the 1956 hit “The Wayward Wind,” died at age 91. (Can you believe she's 80 in that video above? I think she's really singing that!)

Born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg -- yikes! -- her obit in the Times said:

...her agent suggested that she adopt the surname Grant because it had worked so well for the actor Cary Grant; the name Gogi (rhymes with Yogi) was invented by David Kapp at RCA Victor, she said. (She thought it was probably derived from Gogi’s LaRue, a restaurant Mr. Kapp frequented in New York.)

When told by a woman...

...during one of his presidential campaigns that he would have "the vote of every thinking person in America," Adlai Stevenson was said to have responded, "But that's not enough, I need a majority!"

Why do I bring up this bon mot today? Because even if every racist moron voted for Donald Trump in the fall I still think he'd lose.

That's the kind of faith I have in America.

After last night, it...

...seems clear: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be their party's nominees in November. And it will be Hillary's election to lose.

Having said that, I still think Trump is actually good for the Republican Party -- in the long term. I know that's "politically incorrect" to say, but I really believe the GOP needs to hit rock bottom before it can become a serious party again. Even if Trump gets crushed in the fall, which I fully expect he will, he's giving the party a chance (if they choose to take it) to reassess what it has become. And what it's become is a party that serves the economic interests of the one percent and is needlessly, recklessly adventurous in foreign policy.

Mitt Romney, speaking a few weeks ago, called Mr. Trump a "con man," a "fake," a "fraud" and a "phony," whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University." And he's right, of course. He also said the Donald:

...lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

Again, Romney is right -- no argument from me. But, wait, there's more:

Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark. He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq.

Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11.

Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it. He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. The president of the United States has long been the leader of the free world.


Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics.

All spot-on.

And yet . . . and yet . . . Trump has also questioned the wisdom of invading Iraq. And the need to cut Social Security and Medicare. And the effects of free trade on jobs and the working classes. And whether or not the rich should pay more in taxes. (Although his own tax plan would be the most regressive of all. Just bear with me.)

My point here is that Trump is bringing up some very uncomfortable questions for Republicans to ask themselves. But it's these very issues that Republicans need to examine before they can go forward. In fact, I would say that Republicans need to take a good, hard look at the last time they held the White House and why it was such a failure.

Let's go back to Mr. Romney's speech. The 2012 GOP standard-bearer said:

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems and serious challenges. We do. At home, poverty persists. And wages are stagnant. 

And what do Republicans offer? Lower taxes on the rich.

His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.

Now, granted, a 35 percent tariff would be extreme (although Republicans didn't mind high tariffs in the go-go years of the late nineteenth century), but "our export jobs" have already been killed by free trade, and lower prices are cold comfort when you're out of work. As for leading "entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America," Romney is going all John Galt on us. That's like saying high taxes will cause rich people to move out of New York City. Pssst: It hasn't happened.

Romney said Trump's "tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt." Um, so would all the other Republicans. Not one of them had a sensible tax plan, not even "moderate" John Kasich. (I looked at all of them.) As for "reforming," i. e., "cutting" entitlements, it's really not rocket science: just lift the cap on payroll taxes and Social Security and Medicare will be solvent for decades. (How do Republicans think every other developed country in the world provides a safety net for its citizens, magic?)

Romney said "not every policy that Donald Trump has floated is bad, of course. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to bring jobs home from China and Japan. But his prescriptions to do those things are flimsy at best." Do I have to point out -- again -- that Republicans still don't have a health care plan to replace Romneycare, I mean Obamacare, after the ACA was passed six years ago. And "bring jobs home from China and Japan"? What Republican even talks about that?

Romney then turns "to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones." (Not exactly the Republicans' long suit.) "Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose?" Again, how is this different from the rest of his party? Romney says Trump is reckless in the extreme and "calls for the use of torture." Like . . . George W. Bush?

When Mr. Romney laments Trump's stumble on the Ku Klux Klan he says it will enable Mrs. Clinton's victory. What he neglects to mention is that appeals to racism are just plain wrong. And why would he? It's the GOP that's been playing footsie with racists for almost 50 years, since Richard Nixon's "southern strategy."

So I still say Donald Trump is ultimately good for the Republican Party: only after a lopsided defeat in November (combined with down-ticket losses) will its members examine the failings of the W. years, both domestically and abroad, and make some changes to the GOP's worn-out policies. Maybe then it can begin the long road back to respectability.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I almost forgot, it's...

...the Ides of March!

I missed Pi Day yesterday. (And it was a real Pi Day -- 3/14/16.)

Today is Super Tuesday, of...

...course, and Illinois is one of five big states holding primaries. I'll be voting for Hillary Clinton (and I suppose I really should write a post as to why).

In the meantime, what caught my eye this morning was that, according to PredictIt and PredictWise, Hillary is only a slight favorite over Bernie Sanders in her home state of Illinois. What? How can that be? It explains why the former First Lady and senator and secretary of State (and Park Ridge native and Maine South alum) was campaigning here as recently as yesterday.

Could Mrs. Clinton lose in Illinois today? Will this be another Michigan? Can Sen. Sanders, a 74-year-old Jewish socialist from Vermont, get the Democratic nomination for president? Could he actually get elected?

I've read that, just like Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction, Bernie Sanders has been underestimated his entire career.

George Carlin died...

...almost six years ago, in June of 2008. But as you can see from the video above, he was already talking about the quality of our water back in 1992.

Does it seem like almost every day now there's a story about water? In today's New York Times there's an article, "Tainted-Water Worries Spread to Vermont Village." Vermont. That's Bernie Sanders's state!

What the heck kind of country can't even provide safe water for its citizens? What has happened to the United States? I thought we were the Greatest Country on Earth.

I'd have to say this picture...

...I took of a Trump supporter pretty much summed up my impression of the rally at the UIC Pavilion on Friday. And that is: there's a lot of emotion -- and anger -- on both sides. (Check out my Twitter page for more pics.)

Take this guy, for example. I didn't get to talk to him, but he was all too eager to have his picture taken. He looks reasonable enough, but what's his message, send Hillary Clinton to jail? (I saw this sentiment a lot on the Trump side.) For what? The tragedy of Benghazi? Really? Are they still on that? The email "scandal"? Again, really? Does the right wing really believe that was a criminal act?

And I really wish I had gotten a full shot of his t-shirt. As you can see, it shows President Obama in a Mao cap with some caption about his being a "Marxist." Really? I see a guy who's governed from the center-left and done his very best to try to work with a scorched-earth, obstructionist Republican Congress.

As far as the other side on Friday, well, let's just suffice it to say that if the protesters were any indication, blacks and Hispanics hate Donald Trump. Let me say that again: they hate Trump.

(It was actually kind of an odd choice for a Trump rally. The Near West Side, and UIC in particular, is very diverse. We have a couple of young guys who work for our non-profit -- one who grew up partly in Mexico and one whose family I think is from Nigeria -- who both told us, in no uncertain terms, that they didn't want to be anywhere near Donald Trump. Did the Donald plan on speaking in hostile territory, or was the Pavilion just available? I don't know, but I would have thought somewhere like the Allstate Arena in the northwest suburbs would have been a more logical choice.)

I've known several Republicans over the years (some who are actually related to me) who can't for the life of them understand why anyone would think the GOP is a racist party. I had one friend in particular tell me there was "absolutely no evidence, no evidence at all" for the charge. He even pointed to a couple of African American friends who were Republicans.

And what I try to tell my Republican friends is that it doesn't matter whether or not they think their party is racist. Because the fact is that overwhelming numbers of blacks and Hispanics suspect it is and vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

(I told somebody once that if you think someone doesn't like you, you're probably right. People are good at that.)

As for the actual tick-tock on Friday, I walked my dog, Stewart, over to the UIC Pavilion on my lunch break. (It's only a few blocks from my house.) The first people I encountered were a small group of protesters on the southwest corner of Racine and Harrison. I talked to them briefly and then walked over to the line for admission which was already beginning to form at around noon. (The rally was scheduled for six o'clock; doors wouldn't open until three.)

I realized at that point that I probably wouldn't get into the rally. The Trump campaign, I had been told, had issued about 40,000 tickets for an arena that seats 9,500. I think the reason is three-fold. First, Trump can brag that there are "thousands of people outside who want to get in." Second, the campaign gets your email address. (They've already reminded me to vote; how long before they ask for a contribution?) And, third, someone told me they issue so many tickets because protesters have been taking them and not showing up.

But I knew I wasn't going to wait in line for hours and hours to hear a speech I've already heard on TV many times. I'd love to get a first-hand look at the crowd, but not at any price.

So I walked Stewart around for a while, and, I have to say, both the Trump supporters and the protesters were pleasant people to talk to.

I repeated this exercise after work, at about one-thirty or so, and had pretty much the same experience, but the crowd was still small. At about four-thirty my wife asked what we should do and we decided to walk over and check it out again.

The crowd was much larger by then, of course, and the line for admission stretched well around the block. Julie suggested I get in line, and I walked and walked -- and walked -- around the block until I found the end. At that point, at the corner of Morgan and Harrison (if you can picture where that is), I walked past some cops to find the end of the line.

But then it hit me.

I now found myself walking a gauntlet between the protesters to my left and the Trump supporters in line on my right. And I looked to my left and thought, No, I'm not one of these people. The thought of them thinking I was a Trump supporter (and therefore a racist) was just too much for me. And so I stopped, turned around, and went back and joined the side of the protesters. I just thought to myself that there are certain times in your life when you are called upon to stand up and be counted. And I didn't want to be counted on the side of Trump. I wanted to be seen as on the side of America that says we all belong here and we all have to get along somehow and make this thing work for everyone.

I found my wife and we tried to take in the spectacle around us. It was hard, though, at ground level, to see exactly what the heck was going on. (Although I will say the cops were great -- no complaints there.) In hindsight, I wish I had climbed up to the top floor of the parking garage for a better view. Oh, well, like I said, there was a lot of energy, a lot of emotion, a lot of anger on both sides Friday night. And I thought, there are essentially four groups in this election: the Trump supporters, the #NeverTrump Republicans, the Hillary supporters (like me) and those Feeling the Bern. And, come November, there are going to be three groups that are really unhappy that they lost. What happens then? I don't know.

At around six o'clock we were both starting to get a little cold, hungry and tired. Just then, like a deus ex machina, Julie received a text from a friend telling us to meet him at Tufano's. Before you could say "eggplant parm" we were sitting in the front room eating calamari and nursing a couple of beers. Our friends joined us and we learned the rally had been called off. Thank God I hadn't waited in line hours and hours for nothing!

Dinner was good, though.

Monday, March 14, 2016

One of my friends...

...just sent me this email:

Mike, all your readers will be interested in your first-hand reports of the called-off Trump rally!

So I guess someone's reading this blog after all.

I have to admit, ever since I got back from California last week I've been struggling with writer's block. I've always gotten over it in the past so I'm sure I'll be back in business before too long. And, if not, well, I've been writing this thing since '08 -- maybe I'm finally running out of gas. (I doubt it, though; people in my family are pretty opinionated.)

So I'll get to work on that post about the rally real soon.

In the meantime, I had an interesting conversation with one of my neighbors on Friday afternoon about -- who else? -- Donald Trump. She and her husband are super-nice people but I had a sneaking suspicion they were Fox News watchers (which is very unusual for this neighborhood). We were talking about the Donald and she made reference to some right-wing talking points:

But what if Democrats cross over and vote for Trump?


What about the missing white vote from 2012?


I tried to tell her that the math just wasn't there. To put it bluntly, there aren't enough white people. 

Dan Balz, writing in the Washington Post, says (all emphasis mine):

...if the next GOP nominee wins the same share of the white vote as Mitt Romney won in 2012 (59 percent), he or she would need to win 30 percent of the nonwhite vote.

Romney won only 17 percent of nonwhite voters in 2012. John McCain won 19 percent in 2008. George W. Bush won 26 percent in 2004.

If the nonwhites I saw on Friday night are any indication, Trump will do worse among this demographic than Romney.

Or this from Politico:

The math suggests Trump would need a whopping 70 percent of white male voters to cast their ballots for him. That’s a larger percentage than Republicans have ever won before — more than the GOP won in the landslide victories of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and far more than they won during the racially polarized elections of Barack Obama.

The overwhelming fact about American general elections right now is that white male voters just aren’t as powerful as they used to be. In 1980, when the electorate looked very different than it does today, Ronald Reagan cruised to an easy victory by winning 63 percent of white males, according to exit polls. In 1988, George H.W. Bush took 63 percent of that group in his rout of Michael Dukakis.

By 2004, however, winning 62 percent of white men barely got George W. Bush past John Kerry in a squeaker. And eight years later, Romney won 62 percent of white men—and lost to Barack Obama by 3.5 million votes.

So what happened? Between Reagan and Romney, the white male share of the total vote had dropped from 45 percent to 35 percent. The two biggest factors: From Reagan to Romney, Hispanics’ share of the national vote soared from 2 percent to 10 percent; and women, post-feminism, jumped from casting 49 percent of all ballots to 53 percent. Winning the same percentage of white men got the party less and less. And those changes have continued. It will get the GOP even less this year. That’s why Trump needs to jack the number up so high. 

(I remember reading somewhere that, with current demographics, Jimmy Carter would crush Ronald Reagan. Chew on that!)

Barring a recession or a terrorist attack between now and November, Hillary (or Bernie) has the upper hand in the general election. And no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that.

Friday, March 11, 2016

As I keep saying, over...

...and over again, anti-Islam is the new anti-Semitism. From people (mostly) on the right, like Glenn Beck, to those (even) on the left, such as Bill Maher, it's socially acceptable these days to be anti-Islam. (Can you believe I found a picture of those two together?)

Example number "infinity" is from today's New York Times, "Muslims Sue Over Denial of Bid to Build Mosque in New Jersey Suburb" (my emphasis):

In November 2011, the group, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, led by the former mayor, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, bought a four-acre plot in an area of Basking Ridge where zoning permitted houses of worship. The group’s architects and engineers argued that the plan complied by a wide margin with every conceivable building requirement.

What followed were 39 public hearings, and nearly four years of demands by town officials and planning board members for one change after another. Each solution proposed or agreed to by the Islamic Society led to objections on other grounds. Often, members of the public raised issues — some saying that a bucolic area was not the right setting for a mosque, or that it might interfere with a volunteer fire department station across the road.

A leading opponent of the mosque project, who has said that Islamic Shariah law is “one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties,” led a relentless campaign of challenges to virtually every aspect of the project.

The application to build the mosque was finally denied in December by the planning board of Bernards Township, which includes Basking Ridge. The site remains as it was when the Islamic Society bought it in 2011.

During the process, one blogger opposed to the mosque explained that the strategy was to wear out the mosque proponents.

“Our goal is to force the township planning board to put a stay on the decision, order new studies, and drag the issue into neverland,” the blogger wrote, under the name weiminlu99.

I wonder if we'll all look back on this era and be ashamed, or at least a little embarrassed?

Who does Donald Trump...

...remind you of? Ross Perot? Pat Buchanan? Richard Nixon? George Wallace? Joe McCarthy? Huey Long?

I've read all of those comparisons.

I used to think Trump reminded me of Ronald Reagan. Last July I wrote:

Just like Reagan, the Donald's world is very simple and all of America's problems are easy to solve -- if only our government's "stupid" leaders would just get out of the way.

In that Q & A session in New Hampshire, Trump even begins by -- can you believe it? -- slamming Jimmy Carter! I've noticed that, like Reagan, Trump tells the same stories over and over and over, citing figures he either "read somewhere" or using "facts" he appears to have just made up on the fly. A tough talker (Republicans love swagger), Trump singles out China, Mexico and Japan for some reason (did they bar him from opening a hotel in Tokyo or something?) as our current international scapegoats instead of Reagan's bogeyman, the Soviet Union, and on occasion, some random South American "tinhorn dictator."

Also, like Reagan, the famous real estate mogul talks about the "old days" when our country was "strong and respected." (Republicans love the word "strong.") He appeals to his audience's basest fears and emotions by making vague promises to be "bold" (another big Republican word; just ask Scott Walker), knocks moderates like Mitt Romney, pledges to grow the economy (of course), slash regulations, negotiate from strength (there's that word "strong" again), defeat ISIS by bombing the hell out of their oil (as if no one in the State or Defense Departments had thought of that), build a wall along our southern border (and have Mexico pay for it somehow) and, naturally, have a "total commitment to the Second Amendment."

Trump, again like Reagan, sat out his generation's war but is "very big" on defense and veterans and promises to spend even more on defense (even though the U. S. already spends more than the next ten countries combined).

Finally, like the Gipper, Trump will just plain Make America Great Again. 

But after watching Trump these last few months I've decided Reagan isn't the right comparison. Not only is the Donald so much cruder and coarser than the 40th president, but he also doesn't bother with "dog whistles"; he just spews out his bigotry.

Also, while Reagan may have been an "amiable dunce," he was not a jackass. Trump, without putting too fine a point on it, is a buffoon.

Why is it so important who the Donald reminds you of? Well, I'm going to a Trump rally tonight at UIC and wasn't sure whose picture to put at the top of this post.

How about Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy? Is he a good analog for Mr. Trump?

Alexander Stille thinks so:

Some of the resemblances are obvious as well as uncanny. Both are billionaires who made their initial fortunes in real estate, whose wealth and playboy lifestyles turned them into celebrities. Both have had ugly divorces and brag of their sexual prowess. Trump notably defended his manhood at the debate last week, while Berlusconi once said, “Life is a matter of perspective: Think of all the women in the world who want to sleep with me but don’t know it.” (This was before Berlusconi began holding “bunga bunga” parties with prostitutes.) They are masters of media manipulation, Berlusconi as Italy’s largest private television owner, Trump as the star of his own reality TV show and creator of the Trump “brand.” Entering politics, both have styled themselves as the ultimate anti-politician — as the super-successful entrepreneur running against gray “professional politicians” who have never met a payroll and are ruining their respective countries.

Not so fast, says Kevin A. Lees:

The similarities between Trump and Berlusconi -- their 'say it like it is' populism, their willingness to engage demagoguery, their wealth, their vulgarity, their ability to tap into the emotions (both positive and negative) of their supporters -- are manifest.

But there are important differences.

I'll let you read both pieces and make up your own mind.

So why am I going to see Trump tonight? Well, first of all, it's only a short walk from my house. But, more important, it will be historic. I didn't get to see any of the other figures at the top of this post. And while I still doubt very much that Mr. Trump will ever be president of the United States (I just have too much faith in my fellow Americans), I have to see the Donald while I have the chance and he's at the height of his popularity.

My only question is, should I wear my "Ready for Hillary" t-shirt or not?

P. S. I'll be live-tweeting the event @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's only March, but...'s one good sign for the Democratic presidential candidate in the fall (whoever that is): according to the most recent Gallup poll, 50 percent approve of President Obama’s performance, the highest in three years.

If this election is similar to 1988, and I think it will be, that's a good omen. Again, from Gallup:

In March 1988, 51% of U.S. adults approved of Ronald Reagan's job performance, almost identical to Obama's current rating. 

As I wrote almost exactly a year ago:

But I don't think any of that will prevent Mrs. Clinton from winning in 2016. Even if Jeb Bush isn't the nominee (and all signs point to his being the GOP standard-bearer), Hillary will win because it will be -- once again -- a referendum on President Obama. And, as much as Republicans can't believe it, the nation will choose him over any of the GOP's candidates. Why? Because they've done it twice before and the economy may be even better next time than last.

Just as George H. W. Bush was elected as a proxy for Reagan's "third" term, so will Hillary be elected to serve Obama's "third" term. (Just keep those good jobs numbers coming in.)

Check out this map...

...from the print edition of the New York Times today. (It really struck me.) Doesn't it look like Hillary Clinton is winning mostly in red states while Bernie Sanders is winning in the blue ones? Does that mean anything for the fall? Would Sen. Sanders be a -- gulp -- stronger general election candidate than Mrs. Clinton?

There was a picture...

...similar to this one of White House pastry chef Susie Morrison in the print edition of the New York Times today. I can't seem to find the original, which shows Ms. Morrison in what looks like a long white robe and a pointy hat. I did a double-take -- for a second there I thought she was one of Donald Trump's KKK supporters!

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Kathryn Trosper Popper, an actress who died on Sunday at age 100.

(Yes, that's Orson Welles with Ms. Popper in the picture above. She was believed to be the last surviving actor to have appeared in the 1941 classic Citizen Kane.)

In 1943 Kathryn Naomi Trosper married a lawyer named Martin Popper and became Kathryn Trosper Popper. Reminds me a little of a friend of my son's named Nate Beasley, who married a girl named Sarah Beasey (not sure of that spelling). Her name is now Sarah Beasey Beasley. And, to make matters even more complicated, Nate already had a sister named Sarah Beasley.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The big story for me...

...last night wasn't so much Donald Trump's three victories, in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii, or even Hillary Clinton's lopsided win in Mississippi, but Bernie Sanders's huge upset in Michigan. From Harry Enten in FiveThirtyEight (my emphasis):

He won the Michigan primary over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent, when not a single poll taken over the last month had Clinton leading by less than 5 percentage points. In fact, many had her lead at 20 percentage points or higher. Sanders’s win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.

Both the FiveThirtyEight polls-plus and polls-only forecast gave Clinton a greater than 99 percent chance of winning. That’s because polling averages for primaries, while inexact, are usually not 25 percentage points off. Indeed, my colleague Nate Silver went back and found that only one primary, the 1984 Democratic primary in New Hampshire, was even on the same scale as this upset. In that contest, the polling average had Walter Mondale beating Gary Hart by 17 percentage points, but it was Hart who won by a hair over 9 percentage points.

What are we to make of this? Is Hillary more vulnerable than we had all assumed? Could Bernie Sanders possibly be the Democratic nominee? Could we be talking about President Sanders at this time next year?

While I'm still processing what happened last night, consider this: we still have "large delegate prizes left like California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania." And unlike South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi -- all states won by Mrs. Clinton -- many of the upcoming contests are in blue or purple states, ones which may actually vote Democratic in the fall.

Everyone's been talking about the possibility of a contested Republican convention. Did we get the party wrong?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016