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    JFK's Birthday

    Today would have been John F. Kennedy's 99th birthday. I doubt he would have seen it, even if he had lived out his natural days. He was never in good health. But I grew up with a huge JFK poster in my childhood bedroom, and a little bronze bust of him, the kind banks used to give away, on my shelf. I was born Catholic in Massachusetts in the 60s; Kennedy loomed large in my childhood.

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    Hillary's E-Mail Dilemma

    Let's get one thing straight: people are not out to get Hillary Clinton because of her private e-mail server. Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server because people are out to get her. Yes, she apparently bent and broke the rules, and everyone,  including Clinton, has said how stupid this was. I don't think it's stupid. I think it was the best of several bad choices.

    You see, Hillary Clinton doesn't have the option of doing the right thing and not getting attacked. She has not been allowed that option in twenty years.

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    Bill Weld Goes Rogue

    So, William F. Weld, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, is running for Vice-President on the Libertarian ticket. That's a ridiculous thing, but it's a ridiculous year, and I'm less interested in this trivial fringe campaign than in what it says that Weld, who was once seen as a real comer in national politics, would even bother with this.

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    The Republicans Are Now a Third Party

    Dear Republicans: I see you couldn't help yourself. You've nominated Donald Trump for President of the United States. Really. His obvious psychological problems didn't stop you, or his obvious stupidity. They may have even been selling points. You are going to rue this day for a long time. But what's really remarkable is that you, who have been one of the two major parties for a century and a half, have nominated a third-party candidate for president. Congratulations, I suppose.

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    Shakespeare 400

    Tomorrow marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death (and Miguel Cervantes's death, too). There are celebrations worldwide, and there will be ongoing Shakespeare events and celebrations throughout 2016. (If you don't believe me, believe twitter, and search the #SHX400 hashtag.)

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    What Is John Kasich Thinking?

    Where the heck have I been? Short answer: doing Shakespeare stuff. (Much more about that soon.) But now I'm back in Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention is on its way, John Kasich is governor, and no one understands exactly how these two things relate to each other. So let me ask an important question this election season: What on Earth is John Kasich thinking?

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    Political Advice from the Past

    I'm at a rare books library this week, with politics happily tuned down to a lower volume. That's true even though the library is around the corner from the Capitol Building, and almost across the street from the Supreme Court. So I was in town for Mitch McConnell's continued resistance to the eminent Merrick Garland, but I am busy doing other things.

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    Dear Republicans: You Did This. You Fix It.

    Dear Republicans: I know that many of you are upset by Donald Trump's rise. I know that many of you are horrified. But let's be frank. This is your party. You did this. I won't walk through the details. But the thing speaks for itself: the Republican Party planted the seeds for this, cultivated those seeds through campaign season after campaign season, and now they have borne strange fruit.

    You did this. You have to fix it.

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    Trump vs Hamilton

    A brash loudmouth from New York City has been taking America by storm lately, to the consternation of the traditional political elite. I'm talking, of course, about Alexander Hamilton, and about Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's monstrous, Grammy-winning Broadway hit.

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    A Personal Note

    As many people who read this blog know, my mother has been very ill for some time. I don't have much to say about that, but having mentioned how sick she was it seems strange to let the topic drift off inconclusively.

    My mother has passed away. We had her funeral a week ago. I may have more to say about that later, but right now I do not.

    If you are a praying type, spare a few thoughts for my dad, who was married to her for more than 47 years, and who has suffered the heaviest loss of all. Thank you.

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    I'm With Her

    In 2008, I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. I would have backed Hillary in the general, happily. But I saw Obama as somewhat to Hillary's left, and I saw him as a superior campaigner who would make a stronger candidate.

    This year, I am voting for Hillary Clinton. She is strongest general election candidate the Democrats have this year, she will make a more effective president than any other Democrat in the field, and she is far better qualified than any other candidate in either party. My decision could not be simpler.

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    The Republicans' Choice: It's Trump or the Convention

    Donald Trump is now, after South Carolina, clearly leading the Republican primaries. Donald Trump has also been unable to get much beyond 35% of the vote in any primary or caucus. He has the largest share of support, but that share is only about a third of the Republican vote, and sometimes less. None of the other candidates can beat Trump, but that doesn't mean he's going to win.

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    Praying for Nino, and Planning for What's Next

    This morning in church I prayed for the soul of Antonin Scalia, and asked for him to receive God's mercy. I disagreed with him sharply during his lifetime, and sometimes judged him harshly, which made prayer all the more incumbent on me. Some of my friends have argued with me about this on social media, taking it as some sign of approval or absolution. Let me be very clear: I believe that Scalia is very much in need of mercy. (I have a beloved aunt, a former Sister of St.

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    New Hampshire Primaries: Slouching Toward the Brokered Convention

    It's still early, with only two-fifths of the returns in from New Hampshire tonight. But Sanders is comfortably ahead of Clinton and, on the Republican side, chaos is comfortably ahead of consensus.

    Recently, on one of Mike W's threads, I argued that:

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    A New Hampshire Primary Memory

    It's the New Hampshire primary today. I grew up in New Hampshire, and I remember those elections fondly.

    One of my my favorite memories, which I've blogged about a few years back, involves my Mom getting into it with Al Haig on the campaign trail back in the 80s. Haig was, of course, a retired general, former Supreme NATO commander, Nixon's last Chief of Staff and Reagan's first Secretary of State. Mom was a police lieutenant.

    So, Mom, who was interested in the question, asked Haig a question about women playing combat roles in the military.

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    After Iowa: Republicans Still in Trouble

    The day after the Iowa Caucus, the conventional pundit wisdom is that the Republican position improved and that the Democrats are somehow (and here things get a little cloudy and ill-defined) in trouble. This is because the conventional wisdom is 1) relative, 2) obsessed with direction, and 3) amnesiac. So the Republican result gets spun as positive, because things are relatively better for the GOP and moving in the right direction, so that's "good." We forget all about the fact that last week -- just last week!

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    I Was Wrong About Hillary

    Back in 2000, when Hillary Clinton was still First Lady and running for the US Senate, I thought she would be a bad fit for the job. Clinton was clearly very smart and talented, but I believed that her particular gifts made her a natural Cabinet Secretary: the very job that she couldn't hold as the sitting President's spouse.

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    This Election Is About George Bush

    The Republican primaries have been chaotic, unpredictable, and in some ways unprecedented. They seem to get crazier every week. (If you predicted six months ago that Donald Trump would still be ahead just before the Iowa caucuses, you're part of a small minority. If you predicted six months ago that front-runner Trump would be boycotting a Fox News debate on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, well, you don't exist. No one saw that one coming.) But this election is not about Trump, or Cruz, or Jeb Bush.

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    It's Not Stop Trump. It's Stop Cruz.

    The big headline today is that Sarah Palin, Martyr Queen of the Resentful Bozos, has endorsed Donald Trump in Iowa. But the even bigger news in some ways is that the Republican Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, came out to attack Ted Cruz today, saying that a Cruz win would be bad for Iowa. That's a Tea Party figure AND an establishment Republican both weighing in, on the same day, to keep Ted Cruz from winning Iowa.

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    David Bowie Lived to 69 (Alan Rickman, Too)

    My social media feed, like yours, is full of mourning this week: not simply for the great and beloved David Bowie, but also for the brilliant Shakespearean actor Alan Rickman (likewise beloved from many films), the poet C. D.

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