Today’s one of those days we may look back on with pleasure or with chagrin as typical of everything about Washington we long for or deplore. I’m in a better mood than I was earlier this morning, but still not optimistic.

Here are some mid-day news and views tasty-cakes:

* Krugman wants to know the intended audience for the president’s gestures on entitlement reform, and suggests it’s a phantom.

* TAP’s Paul Waldman takes a closer look at Manchin-Toomey on the merits, and concludes it’s better than nothing, but not much better.

* South Korean government tries a little carrot along with the stick in public diplomacy responding to wild threats by North Korea.

* Howard Fineman suggests Mitch McConnell’s erratic behavior of late totally about heading off very specific primary challenge from wealthy Kentuckian being courted by Tea Folk.

* WaPo’s Milbank notes Rand Paul’s difficulty–in the midst of a recitation of the pro-civil rights record of the GOP at Howard University–remembering or even accurately repeating the name of former Republican Senator Edward Brooke.

And in non-political news:

* A big shout-out to my Googleganger, Buffalo sports TV legend Ed Kilgore, on the occasion of his retirement from the airwaves to take a gig with the owner of the Buffalo Sabres.

Back after a break to chow down and check news.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.