* The line on Donald Trump is that he is outside the mainstream of Republican politics. But Franklin Foer’s article about his latest hire – Paul Manafort – demonstrates that the new campaign strategist’s associates have been some of the ugliest names in Republican circles. Rather than give you a quote, I’ll simply list them as they appear in the article: Roger Stone, Roy Cohn, Jeb Magruder, Charles Black and Lee Atwater.

* Giving Bobby Knight a national platform again is something else we can blame on Donald Trump. And so we get stupid headlines like this: Like Truman, Trump would have ‘guts to drop the bomb’.

* Paul Ryan continues to insist that Republicans are “this close” to offering an alternative to Obamacare. But then he goes and says something like this:

In election-year remarks that could shed light on an expected Republican healthcare alternative, Ryan said existing federal policy that prevents insurers from charging sick people higher rates for health coverage has raised costs for healthy consumers while undermining choice and competition.

….”Less than 10 percent of people under 65 are what we call people with pre-existing conditions, who are really kind of uninsurable,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told a student audience at Georgetown University. “Let’s fund risk pools at the state level to subsidize their coverage, so that they can get affordable coverage,” he said. “You dramatically lower the price for everybody else. You make health insurance so much more affordable, so much more competitive and open up competition.”

As Kevin Drum says: High-Risk Pools Don’t Work, Have Never Worked, and Won’t Work in the Future.

* Chuck Grassley comes awfully close to saying “oops.”

Asked on Iowa’s “In Depth” whether the current GOP blockade was risky since President Obama’s pick Merrick Garland was more moderate than the type of judge Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would likely appoint, Grassley reiterated the Republican line that the hardline position is about letting the voters have a voice.

“For people like me that want someone of a [Justice Antonin] Scalia variety to be on the Supreme Court or at least tending in that direction, we’ve got to know that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it won’t be a Scalia-type person. If Trump’s elected president, it probably is a little more unknown than if there’s a [Sen. Ted] Cruz elected president, or a Kasich elected president” Grassley said, before musing on what Trump has said about his potential nominees.

“I would have to admit it’s a gamble,” he said.

* Good job Vermont!

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed into law a bill that automatically registers eligible residents to vote when they apply for a driver’s license…

The Democratic governor signed the measure Thursday. It streamlines voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles with a system that identifies eligible Vermont residents and automatically sends their information to the town or city clerk for addition to the checklist, unless they opt out.

* Finally, Billy Paul died this week. Here he is just a little over a year ago singing his 1972 hit, “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

YouTube video

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