Quick Takes

* Late this afternoon, Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger dropped some pretty big news: GOP preparing for contested convention.

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are now preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as Donald Trump continues sit atop the polls and the presidential race.

More than 20 of them convened Monday for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, where the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

Without saying so directly, it seems to me that a big part of this is about the RNC planning for how to organize the super delegates to block a potential Trump nomination. But there are so many ways this could play out – I suspect they simply want to be prepared.

* Ted Cruz is calculating that some of Donald Trump’s support is about to drop off and he is making a subtle play for those votes.

Senator Ted Cruz raised questions on Wednesday at a private fund-raiser about whether Donald J. Trump, his bombastic rival for the Republican presidential nomination, has the “judgment” to be president and mused about “strength,” according to two people who attended the event in Manhattan.

* As I wrote last week, if big money controlled our politics – this wouldn’t be happening.

The super PAC supporting Jeb Bush is racing through its massive war chest much faster than money is coming in, spending close to $50 ­million in a record blitz that has so far failed to lift the former Florida governor’s sputtering presidential candidacy…

The group’s muted impact so far represents a confounding reality of this year’s unconventional campaign: Money is no longer a clear barometer of success.

At least one Bush supporter is starting to catch on.

“Because of the many channels of information across all these media platforms, paid advertising is having as limited an effect as anyone can recall,” said Rob Stutzman, a Sacramento-based GOP strategist who is backing Bush.

* One of the untold stories of our “tough on crime” policies is that “between 33 million and 36.5 million children in the United States – nearly half of U.S. children – now have at least one parent with a criminal record.” Let that one sink in for a moment.

Today the Center for American Progress released a report titled: “Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents With Criminal Records and Their Children.”

* Anne Kim writes about the new survey of millennials by Harvard’s Institute of Politics. It finds, among other things, that nearly half of young Americans think the American Dream is dead.

* Jim Sleeper discusses “Student Protests and Free Speech” with a warning that an undergraduate campus is civil society on training wheels – helicopter pundits shouldn’t jump to judgment.

* Finally, here is a wonderful story about a remarkable innovation in recycling.

A form of construction being used throughout Africa and Latin America is making a difference, not only by reducing plastic waste but also by taking advantage of the durability of plastic bottles to provide shelter for the homeless.

The process is simple. Bottles are collected and filled with sand, then stacked on their sides and bound together with mud or a cement mix, creating solid walls. The structures are well insulated, incredibly strong (20 times stronger than brick), fire resistant, and even bulletproof. A typical two-bedroom home with a toilet, kitchen, and living room requires 14,000 plastic bottles and costs only a quarter of what a conventional house would.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.