Sunday, March 6, 2016

Last Call For A First Lady

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan passed away today at age 94.

Reagan died at her home in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, according to her spokeswoman, Joanne Drake of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
"Mrs. Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. Prior to the funeral service, there will be an opportunity for members of the public to pay their respects at the library," Drake said in a statement. 
The former first lady requested that contributions be made to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in lieu of flowers, the statement said.

Like most folks of my generation, I grew up with her Just Say No motto all over TV in the 80's and her husband's DARE programs in school.  Whether or not they worked, well, I don't honestly know. Did they stop anyone from trying drugs?  Couldn't tell you, I never had the desire to try.

That's about the fairest thing I can say, other than I hope to make it to 94 myself.

The Vote In Bevinstan

Donald Trump won the Kentucky GOP Caucus last night, the one put together for Rand Paul (no longer in the race) at taxpayer expense, and the entire process was a gigantic mess in more ways that one.

About 1.28 million Republicans in the state were eligible to vote on a damp, cool Saturday in the Bluegrass State from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time. In Kentucky’s 2012 GOP presidential primary, about 15.7 percent of the party’s voters went to the polls.

The Republican Party of Kentucky issued a statement Saturday afternoon declaring the caucus a success, but only two-thirds of the vote had been reported to the public more than 6 hours after polls closed.

Trump and Cruz split the vote in the state’s most populous counties, with Trump claiming wins in Jefferson and Pulaski and Cruz taking Fayette, Kenton and Warren. In all, Trump won 78 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

Leading up to the state caucus, some conservative elites in the state were working to stop Trump’s national momentum.

Several, including former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup of Louisville, state House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown, and state Senate Republican Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown, publicly backed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and spoke of stopping Trump. Rubio, however, trailed Trump and Cruz badly.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville never said who would get his vote Saturday but the New York Times recently reported that McConnell told vulnerable U.S. senators up for election this year that they could run ads against Trump even if he wins the nomination. reported Saturday that a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green said the senator will not say for whom he has cast a ballot and noted he has yet to endorse a candidate since dropping out after the Iowa GOP Caucus in early February. Warren County, where Paul lives, chose Cruz over Trump by a 6.53-point margin.

Rubio came in a distant third, with John Kasich just behind.  All four will receive delegates for the convention.  However, Cruz won Kansas and Maine.  It's now looking like a Cruz vs. Trump fight to the finish for the GOP, the two least-electable Republicans in the general, and I couldn't be happier.  Marco Rubio has fallen to also-ran.

Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi vote on Tuesday, Wyoming voets on Saturday, and then on March 15 the big, big battle: Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.  With Cruz now holding his own against The Donald at least for the moment, this could turn into a real fight soon.

But Cruz and Trump are the most hated by the GOP establishment, and at least in Kentucky, and in three other states, Republican voters simply don't give a damn about Rubio or Kasich anymore to stop Trump.  The pressure on the two of them to drop out will be massive, but Rubio's home state is Florida and Kasich's is Ohio, so they will still be in through the 15th.

After that is anyone's guess.

Read more here:

Sunday Long Read: Baldwin's Legacy

BuzzFeed's Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah visits the home where legendary writer James Baldwin died in France, examining the legacy of a man who is more relevant than ever to the global black experience

What makes us want to run away? Or go searching for a life away from ours? The term “black refugees” applies most specifically to the black American men and women who escaped in 1812 to the British navy’s boats and were later taken to freedom in Nova Scotia and Trinidad, but don’t many of us feel like black refugees. Baldwin called these feelings, the sense of displacement and loss that many Black Americans ponder, the “heavy” questions, and heavy they are indeed. Sometime in early ’50s, after being roughed up and harassed by the FBI, James Baldwin realized that while he “loved” his country, he “could not respect it.” He wrote that he “could not, upon my soul, be reconciled to my country as it was.” To survive he would have to find an exit. On the train to Baldwin’s house I thought more about that earlier generation and about the seemingly vast divide between Baldwin and my grandfather. They had very little in common, except they were of the same era, the same race, and were both fearless men, which in black America actually says a lot. Whereas Baldwin spent his life writing against a canon, writing himself into the canon, a black man recording the Homeric legend of his life himself, my grandfather simply wanted to live with dignity.

It must have been hard then to die the way my grandfather did. I imagine it is not the ending that he expected when he left Louisiana and moved to Watts — to a small, white house near 99th Street and Success Avenue. After his death, I went back to the house in Watts that he had been forced to return to, broke and burned out of his home, and gathered what almost 90 years of black life in America had amounted to for him: a notice saying that his insurance claim from the fire had been denied, two glazed clay bowls, and his hammer (he was a carpenter). My grandfather had worked hard but had made next to nothing. I took a picture of the wall that my grandfather built during his first month in LA. It was old, cracked, jagged, not pretty at all, but at the time, it was the best evidence I had that my grandfather had ever been here. And as I scattered his ashes near the Hollywood Park racetrack, because he loved horses and had always remained a country boy at heart, I realized that the dust in my hands was the entirety of my inheritance from him. And until recently, I used to carry that memory and his demand for optimism around like an amulet divested of its power, because I had no idea what to do with it. What Baldwin understood, and my grandfather preferred not to focus on, is that to be black in America is to have the demand for dignity be at absolute odds with the national anthem.

From the outside, Baldwin’s house looks ethereal. The saltwater air from the Mediterranean acts like a delicate scrim over the heat and the horizon, and the dry, craggy yard is wide and long and tall with cypress trees. I had prepared for the day by watching clips of him in his gardens. I read about the medieval frescos that had once lined the dining room. I imagined the dinners he had hosted for Josephine Baker and Beauford Delaney under a trellis of creeping vines and grape arbors. I imagined a house full of books and life.

I fell in love with Baldwin all over again in France. There I found out that Baldwin didn’t go to France because he was full of na├»ve, empty admiration for Europe; as he once said in an interview: “If I were twenty-four now, I don’t know if and where I would go. I don’t know if I would go to France, I might go to Africa. You must remember when I was twenty-four there was really no Africa to go to, except Liberia. Now, though, a kid now … well, you see, something has happened which no one has really noticed, but it’s very important: Europe is no longer a frame of reference, a standard-bearer, the classic model for literature and for civilization. It’s not the measuring stick. There are other standards in the world.”

Baldwin left the States for the primary reason that all emigrants do — because anywhere seems better than home. This freedom-seeking gay man, who deeply loved his sisters and brothers — biological and metaphorical — never left them at all. In France, I saw that Baldwin didn’t live the life of a wealthy man, but he did live the life of man who wanted to travel, to erect an estate of his own design, and write as an outsider, alone in silence. He had preserved himself.

Baldwin has been dead for almost thirty years, but he and his words, his warnings, his admonishments and his triumphs, have never really been gone.  Here in 2016, what he wrote means more than ever, and the power of that comes all the way from Europe and all the way through decades of history. As he said greatly once and I attempt to follow today:

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

 Amen to that, James.
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