Saturday, June 25, 2016

I'll be in Minnesota...

...for the next few days. Blogging may be non-existent, but you can follow me on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

This is what happens...

...after several years of austerity: people get frustrated and lash out. (And do stupid things.)

In America it means millions of voters cast their ballots for either a "populist/nationalist" (I still think that sounds like "national socialist") like Donald Trump or a socialist like Bernie Sanders.

In Britain they voted yesterday to leave the EU. We'll see what that decision holds for the UK in the short- and long-term, but in the meantime it sure looks to me like they cut off their nose to spite their face.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Republicans have finally...

...decided -- six long years after the Affordable Care Act was passed -- to negotiate on health care reform.

(Who, may I ask, is going to tell Paul Ryan that poor farmer in the picture above that the horse has already left the barn?)

From "House Republicans unveil healthcare alternative to Obamacare" (all emphasis mine):

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an alternative plan to overhaul the nation's healthcare system on Wednesday, slamming Obamacare even as they aimed to keep some of its more popular provisions.

Psst: The time to put forth an alternative to the ACA was in 2009, when it was being written, not in 2016.

Ryan acknowledged his agenda was unlikely to displace current law anytime soon.

Ya think?

In their plan, which is not formal legislation, House Republicans blasted Obamacare for limiting patients' choices, increasing consumer costs, and burying employers and health care providers under new regulations.

Ryan's proposal would keep some popular pieces, including not allowing people with pre-existing conditions to be denied coverage and permitting children to stay on their parents' coverage until age 26.

It would also allow states that have already expanded the number of people eligible for Medicaid under the law to maintain the additional coverage, although it would prevent any new states from doing so.

For people without insurance through their jobs, the Republicans would establish a refundable tax credit. Obamacare also provides subsidies for people to buy insurance if they do not qualify for Medicaid.

It also includes long-held Republican proposals such as allowing consumers to buy health insurance across state lines, expanding health savings accounts, reforming medical liability rules and giving block grants to states to run Medicaid programs for the poor.

Now, you may or may not agree with these proposals, but I hope you agree that it's a little late for Republicans to negotiate a bill that passed six years ago.

From another piece this morning, "What Republicans' Obstruction Costs Them":

...normal opposition includes at least the possibility, and sometimes the reality, of cutting deals giving both sides something

It isn't just that extreme obstruction is bad for the nation. It's bad for Republican-aligned groups, too. By shunning compromise, Republicans fail to use the leverage they have to win policy victories for those groups. They also, by demanding total victory and then having to accept total defeat, encourage unrealistic expectations among their constituents. 

And it's true: if Republicans had only taken part in the legislative process in 2009 instead of effectively boycotting it they may have gotten a health care reform bill more to their liking.

But, really, it's too late now.

Just so you know...

...that I'm still alive, here are some pictures I took on a recent day trip to Marktown in East Chicago, Indiana.

Now I know what you're thinking: What the heck is Marktown? And East Chicago? Is he crazy?

First of all, East Chicago is just over the Indiana border, only about a half-hour drive from my house. And Marktown is a planned community patterned after a typical nineteenth-century village in either Switzerland or rural England (take your pick).

I was inspired to visit, of course, by one of my favorite blogs, A Chicago Sojourn.

From Wikipedia (my emphasis):

Marktown is an urban planned worker community, built during the Progressive Era in 1917 from marshland to provide a complete community for workers at The Mark Manufacturing Company.

The community was founded by Clayton Mark, a pioneer maker of steel in the United States. The renowned architect hired to design the community, Howard Van Doren Shaw, created a unique design in which the streets serve as walkways and the cars are parked on the sidewalks, as noted in "Ripley’s Believe It or Not." 

Only ten percent of the original design was built, as the building of the community was terminated due to the aftereffects of World War I and the sale of the Mark Manufacturing Company. Today, Marktown is one of the few planned worker communities in which all of the originally constructed homes still stand. The industries in East Chicago expanded to the borders of Marktown, surrounding the historic residential island with one of the densest industrial complexes in the world. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and was listed as one of the seven wonders of Northwest Indiana.

Marktown is regarded as an important cultural resource of architectural and historical significance. In the words of the Marktown Revitalization Plan commissioned by the city of East Chicago in 2008, "Marktown is significant as it is a major work by a significant American architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw, for its association with the driving economic force of industry that served as an identity of the region, and is representative of the planned industrial community movement of the late 19th and early 20th century."

For more information you can visit the website of the Marktown Preservation Society.

The only thing I kept thinking as I walked through Marktown was: What if some billionaire like Bill Gates came in here and restored the neighborhood, one house at a time, to its founder's original vision? Wouldn't that be cool?

Marktown is really unique. See it before it's too late.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I'll be in New York...

...for the next few days exploring Brooklyn mostly while my wife helps our future daughter-in-law shop for a wedding dress.

Blogging should resume on Wednesday. In the meantime, you can follow my adventures on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In another example...

...of how Republicans and Democrats inhabit different universes, the Times has an article today titled, "An Unlikely Savior Emerges to Help Endangered Republicans: George W. Bush":

"Unlikely"? I'll say. From the piece (all emphasis mine):

After eight years of largely abstaining from politics, former President George W. Bush is throwing himself into an effort to save his party’s most vulnerable senators, including several whose re-election campaigns have been made more difficult by Donald J. Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket.

In the weeks since Mr. Trump emerged as the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mr. Bush has headlined fund-raisers for two Republican senators and has made plans to help three more.

Am I missing something here? Is Mr. Bush supposed to remind voters of how peachy things were when he was in office?

The support from Mr. Bush also reflects his rising standing. He was toxic to his own party in the final years of his presidency and left the White House deeply unpopular after two wars and a financial collapse that plunged the nation into recession.

Oh, yeah, that.

But 47 percent of people nationally view him favorably now, according to a February poll from Quinnipiac University.

I guess that's about how many people vote Republican in presidential elections.

Further, Mr. Bush is highly popular among Republicans,* especially the party elites who are big campaign donors. 

How can that be? Is it the "two wars and a financial collapse" that they remember so fondly? Or was it the events of 9/11? Was it torture? How about the tax cuts for the rich that squandered the Clinton surpluses and resulted in record peacetime budget deficits? Or was it the botched reaction to Hurricane Katrina? The mediocre economy (even before the Crash)? Someone -- please -- tell me: what on earth would make anyone nostalgic for the Bush years?

I'm telling you: we live in different realities.

* My sister tried to tell me recently how wonderful W. was. Apparently, he "brought us together after 9/11." Huh?

(Obama, meanwhile, was "responsible" for the four Americans who died on his watch in Benghazi. Sheesh!)

Ann Morgan Guilbert, who...

...played Millie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show, died at age 87.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The cartoon of the day:

After watching Donald Trump...

...the last few weeks, Jeb Bush sure looks prescient when he said a Republican candidate for president had to be willing to “lose the primary to win the general.”

(Trump's chances of winning are now down to about 20 percent on some betting markets.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chips Moman, a producer...

...and songwriter, died at age 79. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

Perhaps his greatest triumph as a producer came in 1969, when Elvis Presley, who had not had a hit record since 1965, did an end run around his controlling manager, Col. Tom Parker, and decided to record at American Sound, where Mr. Moman tapped into Presley’s roots in country and blues music.

The sessions yielded four hit singles — “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Kentucky Rain” — and two career-defining platinum albums: “From Elvis in Memphis, ” which The Daily Telegraph of London in 2009 called “the pinnacle of Presley’s midcareer return to glory,” and “From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis,” a mixture of live and studio recordings.

At a news conference after the sessions, Presley said, “We have some hits, don’t we, Chips?” Mr. Moman replied, “Maybe some of your biggest.”

You know, Elvis was really quite a performer. That video was from 1970 when the King was making a "comeback" at the ripe, old age of 35! (Presley died in 1977 at age 42; can you believe it? I'll never forget where I was when I heard the news.)

Oh, and by the way, Elvis:

...was born with dirty blonde hair. It got darker as he got older but after he started to become famous around 1956 he began dying his hair a jet black color. In his first movie, "Love Me Tender," you can see his natural hair color, and by his second movie, "Loving You," you can see he had dyed it.

Here's what I think... the most vexing problem with the recent shooting in Orlando: we can't even agree on what happened. 

Republicans, represented by Bill O'Reilly in the video above, claim it was a terrorist attack. Democrats, represented by Stephen Colbert, see it as a troubled young man who shouldn't have had access to guns.

For some time now I've thought that the polarization in America is not just confined to opinions and policy but to actual facts. Republicans and Democrats live in different realities with their own facts. And this situation is a perfect example.

How on earth can we govern if we can't even agree on what is real?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Prediction: this year's election...

...will come down to a choice between risk and safety.* And since Trump seems to get riskier by the day minute (and Republicans are abandoning him just about as fast as they can), I have to believe that Hillary will win in a landslide. Not a landslide like 1964 or 1972 (the country is too polarized for that), but perhaps an even larger margin than Obama's victory over John McCain in 2008. (Maybe Mrs. Clinton gets a solid 53 or 54 percent of the popular vote and adds Arizona or Georgia for an additional 10 or 15 Electoral votes.)

And since Hillary is probably the most risk-averse person imaginable I'll say she chooses the safest pick of all for her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. (He's currently second or third on most betting websites and a bona fide Boring Old White Guy.) Elizabeth Warren may be too much of a reach, both personally and politically, Julian Castro doesn't have the experience (and, let's face it, looks too darn young) and Sherrod Brown, like Warren, would be replaced at least temporarily by a Republican governor.

So I'll say it's Clinton/Kaine in a walk in November. And Kaine's replacement in the U. S. Senate? Why not Creigh Deeds?

* Don't most presidential elections? The last risky choice that I can think of was Reagan. And with a weak economy and hostages in Iran, Carter was very unpopular. Right now Obama's approval ratings are over 50 percent and the economy is still expanding, if less so than last year.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Morton White, a professor...

...of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, died at age 99.

According to his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

He was born ... in Manhattan ... and grew up on the Lower East Side, where his family owned a shoe store.

Morton excelled in school, first at P.S. 114 and later at Seward Park High School (he graduated at 15), but felt little in the way of intellectual stirrings.

The shoe store went bankrupt during the Depression, and he enrolled in City College, which was tuition-free

Free tuition? Wasn't that one of "Crazy Bernie" Sanders's ideas? Apparently it's not new -- or crazy. What if Professor White had never attended City College? He probably wouldn't have done anything to warrant an obit in the New York Times.

This is the life we chose.

That's what I thought when I heard about the tragic events in Orlando this weekend.

As President Obama said on Sunday, “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision, as well.” (My emphasis.)

He's right: we've decided.

I used to believe in American Exceptionalism. Provide universal health care like every other developed nation? Sure; why not?

Provide safety from gun violence like every other developed nation? Um, if we can't pass sensible gun regulation after 20 children were slain in Newtown, Connecticut four years ago, then it can't be done.

It's hopeless.

Since a recent post...

...of mine generated some comments on Hillary Clinton's Iraq War vote I thought I'd weigh in on the subject.

First of all, like President Obama, I'm a child of the 1970s who learned (or overlearned?) the lessons of Vietnam. Obama might sum it up by saying, "Don't do stupid stuff." I would say something more like, "Wars are much easier to get into than out of."

I remember "discussing" the first Gulf War back in 1990 with my brother-in-law at his dining room table. A Vietnam veteran, who like many Republicans had revised his earlier opposition to the conflict, he was all for "teaching Saddam a lesson" after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. I was skeptical, however. What if it wouldn't be as easy as everyone thought? What if we got ourselves stuck in another "quagmire"?

And I wasn't an outlier: the U. S. Senate only approved the war by a close 52–47 vote.

Turns out the war was a rout -- my brother-in-law and those 52 senators were right. From Wikipedia (my emphasis):

Bush made the decision to stop the offensive after a mere 100 hours. Critics labeled this decision premature, as hundreds of Iraqi forces were able to escape; Bush responded by saying that he wanted to minimize U.S. casualties. Opponents further charged that Bush should have continued the attack, pushing Hussein's army back to Baghdad, then removing him from power. Bush explained that he did not give the order to overthrow the Iraqi government because it would have "incurred incalculable human and political costs.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq."

So the war was over quickly, Bush's approval ratings went through the roof and those 47 senators who voted against it (and me) sure looked dumb.

And, yet, it could also be argued that we're still involved in Iraq twenty-five years later. Did the first Gulf War ever really end? Or are we stuck in a "quagmire" with no end in sight?

Maybe my brother-in-law and I were both right.

Fast forward to the run-up to the "Second" Gulf War.

Democrats, still smarting from their last vote, helped pass the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution overwhelmingly, by a 77-23 margin.

An obscure Illinois state senator named Barack Obama opposed the war, but Sen. Hillary Clinton joined 28 of her Democratic colleagues in voting "Yea."

(Sen. Jim Webb wrote presciently before the vote, "Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade.")

Like the First Gulf War, I was leery of this one too. (I wasn't even sold on the invasion of Afghanistan -- again, I thought it would be much easier to get in than get out. I told you I was an old '70s peacenik!) But I didn't even have Obama's tiny megaphone. I'm not sure if the term "blog" had been invented back then.

So Obama (and I) turned out to be right while Hillary was wrong. (At least it looks that way in 2016.) She ended up paying the price by losing to him in 2008.

What about now? Does Mrs. Clinton still get punished for her vote or is there a statute of limitations on this sort of thing? (Hers wasn't even the deciding vote, remember?) I say enough is enough. She admitted her mistake and I for one forgive her.

But why did she vote for the war? Why did she join fellow Democrats Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman? What did all those senators have in common? Hmm. Could it be . . . that they all had plans to run for president some day? And that none of them wanted to be seen as wrong (like last time) or insufficiently "strong" on national security? And wouldn't that go double for someone who hoped to be the first woman ever nominated by a major party? Wouldn't Sen. Clinton have to prove that she could be just as hawkish as any man? What if a "No" vote had been the wrong one, like in 1990? Wouldn't that have put Hillary at a huge disadvantage to President Bush in 2004 or someone like John McCain in 2008? Wouldn't that have doomed her chances for the White House?

Barack Obama (and I) didn't have a whole lot to lose in 2002 if we were wrong about the war. (Although dinners at my brother-in-law's would have been even more uncomfortable.) But Clinton had a lot to lose.

Let's get real here. The choice in November will be between someone who has served as a United States Senator, a Secretary of State and as an integral part of two successful eight-year Democratic administrations, and on the other hand a guy whom everyone knows is completely unqualified and unfit for the office.

P. S. The U. S. still has troops in Germany 71 years after World War II ended, and in South Korea 63 years after an armistice was signed (strictly speaking, the war never ended). How long do you think the U. S. will have a presence in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Leve doesn't love Love's...

...chances for reelection. Leve leaves the impression Love will lose.

That was my takeaway from this piece in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Michael Brendan Dougherty...

...has a piece in The Week titled "The existential despair of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump" in which he argues that -- yes, you guessed it -- you shouldn't feel like you have to vote for "the lesser of two evils."

I'm sure you've heard some variation on this already: This will be the dirtiest election in history! Or: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have the highest negatives ever! Or, whatever.

According to Mr. Dougherty:

Don't let anyone tell you that the nearly uncontrollable urge to retch at the thought of this election is disproportionate, or somehow uncivil. When you contemplate the fate of your country in 2016, you have the right to be depressed, or even despairing.

By refusing to choose or — more boldly — refusing to care, you will be joining millions of people, who, in any given year, act as if voting for one of the two major parties is useless. 

Many of your friends will tell you that if you go on this way, refusing to choose, you are engaging in a "both sides" fallacy.

But this really is a "both sides" fallacy. I mean, come on, even most Republicans -- under Sodium Pentothal -- would admit that Donald Trump is unqualified to be president. Right? But when I said this to another couple recently neither one debated the point. Instead, the woman launched into a diatribe about why Hillary Clinton was unqualified for the office: "Benghazi," her email "scandal," the Clinton Foundation, etc.

I was in a good mood (they were buying), so I only responded by noting that Mrs. Clinton had served as both a United States Senator and Secretary of State, two jobs generally thought to be good preparation for the Oval Office.

And I didn't even mention that Hillary had been an integral part of two very successful eight-year administrations. You know, that whole "peace and prosperity" stuff? (Maybe she picked up a thing or two along the way.)

I also didn't talk about all those Republican Congressional committees (is it seven, or eight?) that have spent countless tax dollars and man-hours investigating "Benghazi" without turning up a single thing. Not one! And the email "scandal"? I like to think of myself as a reasonably well-informed person and yet I can't for the life of me get why this is considered a scandal. Do people -- even rabid Fox News-watchers -- really believe that Mrs. Clinton had some sort of "criminal intent" here? Really? (And I'm not including those who think the Clintons had Vince Foster murdered. I'm talking about people who don't own a tin foil hat.)

As for Mrs. Clinton's record in the Middle East, i. e., Libya, Syria, the vote to go to war with Iraq, the nuclear treaty with Iran, et cetera, et cetera -- who has gotten it right in the last however many years? George W. Bush? John McCain? Who's gotten it right ever? Psst: the Middle East is a great big mess -- it always was and it probably always will be. What's the Republican answer? Send more troops! Even Trump doesn't agree with that anymore.

Dougherty concludes with:

Someone will inevitably ask you this question: "But really, gun to your head: Do you want President Trump? Or do you want President Clinton?" You should reframe the question for them like this: "When someone asks, 'Gun to your head: Do you want a gun to your head? Or a gun to your head?' The only response is: 'Just get over with it.'"

(How about, Gun to my head: I'll take four more years of Obama!)

Now, look, I won't go so far as to say I'd like to have a beer with Hillary Clinton. I never cared much for her or Bill. They're both just a little too oily for my taste. But this isn't about having a beer -- I don't even drink beer -- it's about electing a president. (Preferably one who could actually do the job.) And who's the next best thing to President Obama? (No, not Bernie Sanders -- he got beat, remember?) Hillary Clinton. Why? Because she'll continue the legacy of the 44th president. And it's a good one.

P. S. Prediction: I'll say Mrs. Clinton does a good job and is reelected in 2020.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

David Lamb, an author...

...and War Correspondent, died at age 76.

According to his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

He began his career at 14, after writing to The Milwaukee Journal and volunteering to contribute a weekly column about his beloved Braves from the perspective of a teenager who had seen the team desert Boston for Milwaukee. The Journal’s sports editor agreed, and David’s father rented him a typewriter for $9 a month.

Nothing like supporting your kid's dreams!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Looks like it's "curtains"...

...for Phyllis Curtin, an American soprano who died at age 94. There will be no more curtain calls for her.


Paul Ryan seemed positively...

...shocked -- shocked! -- the other day at Donald Trump's comments about a federal judge's Mexican heritage. They were "out of left field," gasped the Republican Speaker of the House.

From an article in the Times this morning, "Democrats Jump on Allies of Donald Trump in Judge Dispute" (my emphasis):

No prominent elected Republican came to Mr. Trump’s defense unreservedly. And others found themselves wondering aloud what it would take — what Mr. Trump would have to say or do — for Republicans who have endorsed him to start jumping ship.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another former primary rival of Mr. Trump’s, urged Republicans who have backed Mr. Trump to rescind their endorsements, citing the remarks about Judge Curiel and Mr. Trump’s expression of doubt on Sunday that a Muslim judge could remain neutral in the same lawsuit, given Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim noncitizens entering the country.

“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Mr. Graham said. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” he added. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

And yet:

It remains very unlikely that ambitious Republicans and those on the ballot this year will publicly break with Mr. Trump until it becomes politically advantageous for them. At the moment, Mr. Trump enjoys wide support from the sort of rank-and-file Republican voters whom elected officials are loath to antagonize.

In a speech on the Senate floor as Congress returned from a break, the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, sought to yoke Mr. Trump to his counterpart, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — and to every Republican running this fall. Mr. Reid pointed out that Mr. McConnell, interviewed on NBC on Sunday, had “repeatedly refused to say Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel’s ethnicity are racist.”

“This is precisely the type of failure that gave rise to Donald Trump in the first place,” Mr. Reid said. “That’s because the hate emanating from Trump’s mouth reflects the Republican Party’s agenda here in the United States Senate for the past seven and a half years.”

And Sen. Reid is right; although I would say it's been much more than the last seven and a half years. I think you could trace today's Republican Party meltdown all the way back to the early 1990s and its treatment of Bill Clinton, the "accidental president."

Do I have to remind anyone that Clinton was impeached over an extra-marital affair with another consenting adult (who came on to him)? Or do you still think it was because the president "lied under oath"?

Both are wrong. Clinton was closer to the truth when he said his impeachment was a "coup d'etat." In other words, since Republicans couldn't beat Clinton at the ballot box they tried to defeat him by other means.

(I think that's when I first soured on the GOP. If you can't win in the marketplace of ideas maybe you should rethink your ideas.)

Republicans, through their media arm, Fox News, and from talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, have been dumbing down and thus creating Donald Trump's voters for over twenty years now. The chickens, as they say, have finally come home to roost.

And the establishment, for its part, has been mostly silent.

(By the way, that clip above isn't evidence of John McCain's courage -- his response should be considered baseline behavior. If someone tells you the earth is flat, you don't get points for telling him it's round.)

Let's see: Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and now Paul Ryan. Nope -- not one of them has stood up to what used to be called the "lunatic fringe." It's now just known as the "Republican Party base."

It's true: you reap what you sow.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The presidential election...

...will be held on Tuesday, November 8, exactly five months from Wednesday. Where do we stand?

Tomorrow Hillary Clinton is expected to clinch the Democratic nomination with a victory in New Jersey, before the polls in California even close.

Forgetting the Electoral College for a minute, in which the Democrats have a big advantage, here are just a few numbers to put it all in perspective.

Donald Trump won the Republican nomination with 11,676,355 votes out of 28,055,109 cast (before tomorrow's contests). That's about 42 percent of the total. That's a plurality, of course, but only of a party that represents about 42 percent of the overall electorate. Or, only about nine percent of the roughly 126,000,000 votes cast in the 2012 presidential election. In other words, Mr. Trump will have to persuade almost 50 million more Americans to vote for him in the general to exceed Mitt Romney's total in 2012.

Now, admittedly, that's a little misleading. After all, Romney only garnered a little over 10 million votes (52 percent) in the Republican primary of 2012 and managed to take over 47 percent of the popular vote against President Obama. So the election will probably be a lot closer to 50/50 in November.

But right now, according to Election Betting Odds, Hillary has about a 70 percent chance of winning vs. less than 25 percent for Trump. And if last week -- in which Trump struggled while Hillary seemed to gain confidence -- is any indication, Clinton could even exceed Obama's 2012 margin.

P. S. I'll say last week was the one in which Donald Trump finally peaked.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Unfortunate Name...

 ...of the Day belongs to John Birch, the owner of Wyeth, a high-end furniture store in SoHo.

Don't look now, but...

...Sen. Jefferson Sessions of Alabama (sounds like a Confederate general) just vaulted into third place in the betting on Paddy Power for Republican vice president:

Newt Gingrich, 6/4
Scott Brown, 7/2
Jeff Sessions, 4/1

So who is this guy? Well, his Wikipedia page begins like this (all emphasis mine):

Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III (born December 24, 1946) is the junior United States Senator from Alabama. First elected in 1996, Sessions is a member of the Republican Party.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III? Now that really sounds like a Confederate general!

From 1981 to 1993 he served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. President Ronald Reagan nominated him to a judgeship on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in 1986, but he was not confirmed. 

Not confirmed to the Federal bench, huh? Is that a red flag? I don't know; you tell me:

At Sessions' confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers who had worked with Sessions testified that he had made several racist statements. One of those lawyers, J. Gerald Hebert, testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as "un-American" and "Communist-inspired" because they "forced civil rights down the throats of people."

Thomas Figures, a black Assistant U.S. Attorney, testified that Sessions said he thought the Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but apologized for it. Figures also testified that on one occasion, when the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sent the office instructions to investigate a case that Sessions had tried to close, Figures and Sessions "had a very spirited discussion regarding how the Hodge case should then be handled; in the course of that argument, Mr. Sessions threw the file on a table, and remarked, 'I wish I could decline on all of them,'" by which Figures said Sessions meant civil rights cases generally. 

Figures also said that Sessions had called him "boy." He also testified that "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks.'"

Sessions became only the second nominee to the federal judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I wouldn't worry about it, though, because a recent piece in the Daily Caller reassures us, "Jeff Sessions: Donald Trump Will Attract Black And Hispanic Voters In General Election."

He should know about how "the blacks" and "the Hispanics" will vote, right?

What about Sen. Sessions's career in the Senate?

Sessions was ranked by National Journal in 2007 as the fifth-most conservative U.S. Senator, siding strongly with the Republican Party on political issues. He supported the major legislative efforts of the George W. Bush administration, including the 2001 and 2003 tax cut packages, the Iraq War, and a proposed national amendment to ban same-sex marriage. However, he was one of 25 senators to oppose the establishment of TARP. He has opposed the Democratic leadership since 2007 on most major legislation, including the stimulus bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he opposed both of President Barack Obama's nominees for the Supreme Court.

Sen. Sessions, 69, is a good ol' boy from the Deep South with one of the most conservative records in the Senate whose background on civil rights prevented him from a federal judgeship.

Sounds perfect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Tom Toles...

...cartoon of the day.

The Ironic Name of the Day... actually the name of a school: Welborn Elementary in Kansas City, KS, where 89.3 percent of the students receive a free or discounted lunch.

From an article in the Times, "Kansas Parents Worry Schools Are Slipping Amid Budget Battles" (my emphasis):

Some school principals say they are resigned to making do with what money they have. At Welborn Elementary School in Kansas City, classes are held in two aging buildings and students dash back and forth during the day. Teachers keep a watchful eye on them as they cross an active parking lot between the buildings.

“I don’t need much,” said Jennifer Malone (above), the principal, one recent afternoon. “I just want a building.”