So WaPo today had an article on a new USDA “natural amenities index” ranking 3,111 counties on their climate and physical beauty. Monterey County came in at number 9.

Here are some unranked midday news/views treats:

* Rand Paul makes a “down payment” on the KY Republican presidential caucus he’s promised to pay for as a way of getting around a state law banning simultaneous presidential and Senate primary runs.

* German parliament approves funds for relief for Greece, overcoming conservative rebellion against Merkel.

* Ashley Madison hack threatens exposure of public figures, not to mention upsetting hundreds of thousands of marriages.

* At the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin explains that HRC’s real problem with emails is that the federal government vastly over-classifies material, so avoiding transmittal of “classified” items nearly impossible.

* At the Prospect, Adele Stan argues that the whole purpose of the campaign against Planned Parenthood is to sideswipe HRC.

And in non-political news:

* Tropical Storm Danny looking likely to become first hurricane of the 2015 season.

As we break for lunch, here’s Earl Gaines with “Hymn Number 5.”

Ed Kilgore

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.