Olympics Open Thread: Keeping It Positive!


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From NYMag, “That Shirtless Tonga Hunk Is Mighty Proud of His 114th-Place Olympic Finish”:

Pita Taufatofua, a taekwondo athlete who was propelled into the international spotlight at the 2016 Olympics thanks to his above-satisfactory chest region and flag-waving skills, made his valiant Olympiad return with the Winter Games. He earned a spot to compete for his home nation in the 15k cross-country ski race on Friday — despite never training for the sport, or laying eyes on snow, until a few months ago. In a pleasant surprise to everyone, including himself, Taufatofua managed not to finish dead last in the rigorous race, instead placing 114th out of the 119 total competitors. He ended about 22 minutes behind the race’s winner…

“Everyone was at the front racing to come first, we were racing not to come last, but we’ll have a good laugh over dinner,” Taufatofua joked after the race with his fellow stragglers. “I’d rather be finishing towards the end of the pack with all my friends than in the middle by myself. We fought together, we finished together.”…

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Well, mostly positive…

Can’t resist!

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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Everything But the Obvious

They did everything right, but missed one key detail:

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.

How the 19-year-old turned into a killer still baffles them.

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an exclusive interview Saturday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”

“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Cruz still lived with the Sneads on Wednesday when he walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people — the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook.

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Five days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead took Cruz to the office of a therapist she has been seeing. Cruz said he was open to therapy but didn’t like medication. He took a business card and was figuring out what his health insurance would cover.

James, 48, is a decorated army veteran and a military intelligence analyst who served stints in the Middle East between 1988 and 1996. Kimberly, 49, is a neonatal intensive care nurse who cares for premature and ill babies.

They told Cruz there would be strict rules in their home.

“I told him there’d be rules and he followed every rule to the T,” James said.

The couple both grew up around guns and are comfortable with them, but they insist on gun safety.

They made Cruz buy a locking gun safe to put in his room the day he moved in. Cruz had a handful of guns, including the AR-15 and two other rifles that Snead said would be considered assault rifles. Cruz, a hunter, also had knives, BB guns and pellet guns.

Snead thought he had the only key to the cabinet but has figured out Cruz must have kept a key for himself. The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a couple of years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.

They told Cruz he needed to ask permission to take out the guns. He had asked only twice since November. They said “yes” once and “no” once.

These seem like really sweet people, and I feel horrible for them. And they did everything right. Except one thing. They kept guns in the house and he had access to them.

I just don’t know why this is so damned hard, how many members of our society are so blinded by the obvious. Imagine if you went to the doctor and s/he said “Your test results show you have a fatty liver and early stages of cirrhosis, you just absolutely have to stop drinking and now.” If you acted like we do regarding gun violence, here is how the rest of the conversation would go:

You: What if I drink a lot of cranberry juice. I hear that is good for the liver.

Dr.: Yes, cranberry juice can be good for the liver, but you have to stop drinking alcohol. It’s going to kill you.

You: What about coffee and tea?

Dr.: Yes, those are both good, but you have to stop drinking alcohol. You are killing yourself.

You: WHat if instead I stop using butter and other oils and switch to olive oil?

Dr.: Yes, that would be good, too, but you need to stop drinking alcohol because your liver is very damaged.

You: How about if instead I start a good diet and exercise program and lose some weight?

Dr.: That would also be good for your liver and long term health, but you need to stop drinking alcohol immediately or you are going to die.

You: Thanks for all the helpful advice, Doc.

*Drinks a gallon of vodka. Dies.*

It’s the same damned things with guns, and we have this god damned debate every time there is a mass shooting. Yes, we need to spend more time and money addressing mental health issues. Yes, we need to engage our children more. Yes, we need to keep our eyes open for socially isolated individuals. yes, we need to report people who make threats to the authorities. Yes, we need to deal with people being radicalized online and via social media. Yes, we need to do all those things and more.

BUT WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THE FUCKING GUNS.

This is why all those kids from Florida who are speaking out sound like they are making so much sense- BECAUSE THEY ARE. They aren’t taking a simple issue and and getting wrapped around the axle by turning it into something complicated. The clarity of youth lets them embrace the principle of parsimony that for a number of reasons eludes the adults in the room. Crazy and dangerous people repeatedly for a variety of reasons keep killing people with guns, so we should do something about guns. When someone takes a knife into school, they get kicked out. When someone takes an AR-15 into a school, 20 kids get killed. The kids aren’t confused by all the bullshit that has seeped into our discourse, so they say things like this:

America has a gun problem, and no amount of diet, exercise, or cranberry juice is going to fix it. It’s the fucking guns, stupid.



Russiagate Open Thread: Has Manafort’s Crony Rick Gates Flipped?

Well, it would explain some of pants-pissing tantrums on His Short-Fingered Lordship’s twitter feed this morning (especially if Trump’s not the only one sending them.) Per the L.A. Times:

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul J. Manafort Jr., the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Richard W. Gates III, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case…

Gates’ defense lawyer, Thomas C. Green, did not respond to messages left by phone and email. Peter Carr, a spokesman for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, declined on Saturday to comment…

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.

The delicate terms reached by the opposing lawyers, he said, will not be specified in writing: Gates “understands that the government may move to reduce his sentence if he substantially cooperates – but it won’t be spelled out.”

One of the final discussion points has centered on exactly how much cash or other valuables – derived from Gates’ allegedly illegal activity – that the government will require him to forfeit as part of the guilty plea.

Gates, 45, who is married with four children, does not appear to be well positioned financially to sustain a high-powered legal defense…

According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts” and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.

If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller’s team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates’ testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a “cherry on top” of the government’s already-formidable case against Manafort.

The same individual said he did not believe Gates has information to offer Mueller’s team that would “turn the screws on Trump.”

In mid-August 2016, Trump fired Manafort following reports of possibly improper payments he had received from a pro-Russia political party aligned with his longtime client, Viktor Yanukovych, who was Ukraine’s prime minister from 2010 to 2014.

Gates, however, remained with the Trump campaign through the election, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee. He also assisted Trump’s inaugural committee.

My emphases. “Mistakes were made. Just not by Mr. Trump.” Uh-huh…



Sunday Afternoon Open Thread

“Hi! My name is Roseate Spoonbill, and I’ll be foraging for minnows, crawdads and bugs in your pond today.”

“I’ll just be over here sweeping my weird bill from side to side. Don’t mind me!”

“Glug-glug-glug…”

Saw this lovely critter yesterday in a suburban pond. There are tons of spoonbills around here, but I’ve never seen one with such a dark pink bar before.

Open thread!



Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

To follow up on DougJ’s generational musings last night let me share a story with you. A few years ago I was worrying over my figure and when I expressed concern to my wife she said, “Chubby? No. You’re not chubby. I mean, you wouldn’t call Bing Crosby chubby, would you?” I still puzzle over this.  Not too long after that we were listening to something or other by Crosby and my wife was telling me  about this soporific’s profound popularity. It was seriously like Beatlemania. Sarah observed that Crosby was emblematic of the war generation. Play some Bing and you’re right there spiritually.

For the boomers when you play “Paint it Black” I fully expect to see helicopters flying over the jungle. “Magic Carpet Ride” will always be accompanied by hippies cavorting naked in some sylvan setting.

“But what music is emblematic of your generation?” she asked. What will be the documentarian’s shorthand for Generation Xers? My first impulse was to say The Pixies but she rejected that as being too artsy and underground. She’s probably right. They are not universally known. I thought about it some more and concluded, for better or worse, it’s probably U2. Or maybe Run DMC? Michael Jackson?

What do you think? What about you in-betweeners who are too old for MTV but too young for the Beatles. Is it disco? And if there are any millenniums out there (this is what may dad calls millennials) what is the one song or band that will be the shorthand for your period?

And after you’ve sorted that out, go ahead and see if you can dig a little deeper for the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer



Florida Woman vs. Florida Man

In case you missed it, here’s a speech by a young woman, Emma Gonzalez, who survived the Douglas High School massacre. She calls out Trump, the NRA, Senator Grassley and the other cowardly shits who have done nothing while people, including school children, are slaughtered by maniacs with easy access to weapons of war:

I’m so damn proud of these kids. Some highlights for the video-phobes:

If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.

You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.

To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.

[Crowd chants: “Shame on you!”]

If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.

From the interactions that I had with the shooter before the shooting and from the information that I currently know about him, I don’t really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said he was diagnosed. I don’t need a psychologist and I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he’s stating for the record, ‘Well, it’s a shame the FBI isn’t doing background checks on these mentally ill people.’ Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS.Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.

If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.

[Crowd chants: “Throw them out!]

Several hundred folks in my part of Florida — hundreds of miles from the Douglas High massacre — had a rally against gun violence yesterday. Wouldn’t it be ironic as shit if FLORIDA, of all fucking places, ends up being the birthplace of gun sanity?

Meanwhile, from his Disgraceland estate in Florida, Trump uses dead kids and teachers as human shields:

That deranged globule of rancid marmalade is on a Twitter tear this morning. I’m not going to subject you to further rantings from that quarter in this post, but it confirms what we already knew: Now that Trump can no longer deny Russia’s cyber attack on U.S. democracy, he’s casting himself as its chief victim, and he’ll do absolutely nothing to stop further attacks.

Like the high school kids in Florida, we must find the courage to put an end to this bullshit ourselves. Our government, as presently constituted, isn’t going to help us. We have to change it.



Shot, Chaser



Sounds like he’s whatever kind of “guy” he needs to be on any given day. Fuck him, and mark your calendars for March 24.








Facebook Is The Devil

Josh Marshall has a good piece on Facebook VP of Advertising Rob Goldman’s earlier disingenuous tweets about the way Russians played Facebook like a fiddle to elect Trump, so I won’t rehash that.

But the later tweets embedded above are such classic Silicon Valley bullshit – “my company fucked up our country, shame on the government for not fixing it”. Never mind that Finland is a fairly homogeneous country of fewer than 6 million people which has been facing a real existential threat from Russia ever since WWII. Never mind that Facebook’s walled garden had (and, basically, still has) almost no content standards, no way for the captive audience of that platform to separate truth from bullshit in their feeds. And never mind that the whole platform is designed to keep people trapped inside rather than branching out to more reliable news outlets. No, on Goldman’s account, government needs to clean up the turds his company left on the sidewalk.

Facebook is bad, but Uber is the poster child for this Silicon Valley attitude. On one hand, they shit all over the attempts of government to regulate their ride service, when it’s obvious to anyone whose head isn’t buried in Atlas Shrugged that random strangers giving rides is something that needs a hell of a lot of oversight. On the other hand, as soon as their semi-moron “self driving” cars aren’t able to navigate the roads, government needs to build up road infrastructure so Uber can get rid of their army of underpaid drivers.

It is very god damned telling that a Facebook VP took to Twitter to defend Facebook, because media people generally don’t engage on Facebook. I’m not saying Twitter is an information paradise, but it reaches the low bar of being better than Facebook, which has been losing engagement as they try to deal with the fact that their feeds are garbage.



Sunday Morning Excellent Read / Open Thread: JOY!

Many of you will have seen this already, but I agree it’s worth sharing. Laura M. Holson, at the New York Times:

In the Trump era, Ms. Reid, the daughter of immigrants, has emerged as a heroine of the resistance to his leadership. And her forceful questioning style, matching that on conservative outlets like Fox, has resonated with MSNBC’s viewers. She is popular on social media with fans who fondly call themselves #reiders. Her morning show on Saturday averages nearly 1 million weekly viewers and, for the last four months, she has bested MSNBC’s competitor CNN, according to Nielsen, which tracks television ratings (granted, her competition then is general newsroom updates rather than another headline personality).

“Our prime directive is to constantly remind people that this is not normal and not to allow it to become mundane,” Ms. Reid said in a recent interview at MSNBC’s studios in Midtown Manhattan, referring to the architecture of the Trump presidency. Each week she makes sure to discuss the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “We feel like one of our duties is to keep that story top of mind because it’s fundamentally about whether we truly choose our own leaders,” she said.

Ms. Reid was born in Brooklyn and raised in Denver alongside two siblings mostly by their mother, a college professor and nutritionist from Guyana; their father left the family when she was a child for his native Democratic Republic of Congo. “He was a phone father,” Ms. Reid said. At 17, she was accepted to Harvard University, where she planned to study medicine.

But her mother died of breast cancer three weeks before school started. “I failed a bunch of classes,” Ms. Reid said. “I was just depressed.” She took a year off, returned to Brooklyn — staying with an aunt and working a temp job at Columbia Pictures — and then switched her major to documentary filmmaking.

“I was thinking Hollywood movies,” she said. “Come to find out Harvard doesn’t do that. So I had to study documentary.”

Ms. Reid had also always been captivated by politics. In the late 1990s she moved to Miami to write for a local television morning show. There, she became a fixture among South Florida lawmakers. She was involved in minority outreach for voter education and blogged. In 2005 she met James Thomas, a longtime disc jockey and radio veteran known as James T, who hired her to produce a talk radio show for listeners in the black community…

Ms. Reid got her television break in 2014 when she was hired by MSNBC to create a daily show called “The Reid Report.” It was short-lived, though, canceled the next year because of poor ratings (along with Ronan Farrow’s). “It was stressful because it was daily,” Ms. Reid said. “There was a lot more management eyes on us. And when it ended, you know, it was not fun. But it did enable me to do something I hadn’t done in my career, which was to actually be a field reporter.”…

In her class for Syracuse, which she teaches in Manhattan, Ms. Reid addresses the precarious definition of what the president calls “fake news,” and why it is a dangerous concept. “Now, something is ‘true’ because you like it,” she said. “If the information is displeasing to you or makes you uncomfortable, or is in opposition to your ideology, then it is ‘fake.’” She is concerned consumers of news will isolate themselves, believing only what makes them feel good. “That’s the problem,” she said…

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Apart from applauding our sheroes, what’s on the agenda for the day / week?



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Who Does the NRA Actually Represent?


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Ever wonder if maybe the monsters are already here on Maple Street?


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And speaking of politicians who are neither Democrats nor helpful when it comes to gun safety measures…
Read more



We never got if off on that revolution stuff

It’s been kind of a brutal week politically. There’s something to remember though: things will change politically when the baby boomers die off and millennials become the dominant political block in our country.

I don’t know that well how baby boomers think, but I do understand how my generation, Gen X, does, to some extent. And I think millennials see the world very differently than my generation does. It’s fair to say that I, and many of you, grew up in a world where Broderism, and worse yet Reaganism, was pushed on us by the media in a way that is not that different from what goes on in North Korea. I try very hard not to be both sides person, but the truth is…it’s hard not to have it in the back of your mind sometimes. It was pushed into our heads for so long. And also too, my generation always felt (correctly) that the world is a shitty place that we’d never be able to change. In a lot of ways, we are, to quote the boomers’ biggest obsession, like a dog that’s been beaten too much.

And a huge proportion of people over 60 have been completely brainwashed by Murdoch media.

A lot has been made about the how the kids at Parkland have reacted eloquently and angrily to the school shooting. They think it’s outrageous that we don’t have gun control but they don’t think gun control is a lost cause, and it’s not in their lifetimes. (It will be quite a while.)

I truly believe that the current political situation is just a phase. It’s a damaging one, unfortunately, but it will end. The group of people my age and older are a lost cause, but the next generation, whatever problems it may have, lacks the political pathologies that have taken our government into a ditch.








Puppers Open Thread

I was just telling a friend this, and thought I would share with you all. I got new neighbors a couple months ago- she is a nurse and he is a cop, and they live across the street two doors down. Young- early 20’s, and seem to be very nice. I took them a lemon meringue pie I bought from the church women’s club semi-annual bake sale and chatted with them as they were moving in and met her mom, who was there helping, and they seem like good people. At any rate, they had one small barky dog in the same size range as my herd, but they recently got the most adorable Pyrenees puppy.

Every time I come home from somewhere and I see her out (I always drive in that direction around the block so that my car is parked on the right side of the road facing the correct way), I roll down my window and say hi and she gets all excited, and sits there and wait for me as I park my car and walk back down to love on her.

She is absolutely adorable and the softest, sweetest thing you have ever met. I wish I could adequately describe how delightful her fur is to touch. And she has this ginormous cold wet nose. She just *extreme Oprah voice* AMAZING.

I’m currently being weighed down by two dogs and a cat watching television:

Lily is to my side, and you can’t see her. I’m starting to lose feeling in my left foot, but every time I try to move slightly Steve digs in with his claws, so I am hoping when it dies and the foot needs to be amputated the surgeon will be understanding.



Recipe Thread: Winter Cooking Blues

As promised..

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

Bonus Recipe:

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce: 

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.

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And of course, bonus puppies. There is a complete update and lots more photos here.

What’s on your menu tonight?








Gun Safety Open Thread: The Status Quo Will Continue, Until It Erodes Away

I can remember when asking someone not to smoke in a clearly marked NO SMOKING area was considered a social gaffe. Pushy! Uncivil! It was the 1980s…

The NRA, because they need the sales, is committed to bribing or threatening lawmakers into insisting that more guns be allowed in more places. There’s a loud, angry minority of our fellow citizens who are convinced that more guns in more places is their only protection against… everything. But IIRC, there was a lot higher percentage of adult American smokers when the first serious smoking laws were passed than there are “NRA priority voters” now…



Took a look around, see which way the wind blow

Whenever I see an interesting article about a possible Democratic presidential candidate, I’m going to put something up about it here. Unless it’s Joe Biden or Bernie, I think they’re too old.

Here’s a brief one, by George Will of all people, about Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA. I don’t agree with Will on much in general (and don’t appreciate the swipe at Obama), but I think he’s right that being a mayor of a big city is at least as challenging as being a Senator or the governor of a small state. And I like the argument in favor of sanctuary cities.

I’d been ignoring Garcetti because I had him mixed up with the previous mayor of LA, whom I don’t like.

Tell me about any interesting articles about possible presidential candidates in the comments!

And let’s raise a little more money for the DLCC, which is doing a great job helping Democrats take back the state houses.

Goal Thermometer