Quick Takes: Math is Not Trump’s Strong Suit

* Donald Trump finally had something to say today about the Supreme Court’s recent abortion ruling. And boy, it’s a doosey.

“Now if we had — Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump said of the ruling, which struck down a restrictive Texas abortion law.

Perhaps Trump hasn’t been paying attention and didn’t know that the ruling was 5-3, meaning that another dissent wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Or worse yet…he’s just that bad at math.

* Sen. Jeff Flake obviously has no love lost for Donald Trump. And yet, in a really bizarre statement today, he made it clear that the Republican obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is all a political play aimed at giving the presumptive Republican nominee the opportunity to nominate someone else. That is, unless it looks like he is going to lose.

But Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is open to holding a vote for Garland if it starts to get close to November and Donald Trump still looks like he won’t win the presidency.

“Obviously if we lose the election and lose the White House, then we ought to move quickly to confirm [Garland],” the Republican senator told Business Insider. “And I think if it becomes apparent that we aren’t going to win the White House — if we know in October that it’s not good — then we’ve got to move forward at that point.”

* The Pentagon made it official today.

The Pentagon will let transgender individuals serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the change Thursday. Carter says it’s the right thing to do. He says only a person’s qualifications should matter, and that there should be no other unrelated barriers to service.

* I’m beginning to think that Donald Trump is having some trouble filling all of those speaking slots at the Republican Convention. Sounds like he’ll be going to his bench.

According to a source close to Trump’s circle and briefed on the convention plans, all of Trump’s grown children will be speaking at the convention. Though the plans are still in flux, there will be a clear focus on Ivanka, who may have a Wednesday night speaking slot. There are even discussions of having Ivanka introduce Trump when he accepts the nomination on the convention’s final night, instead of the tycoon’s wife, Melania.

The source said that sons Donald Jr. and Eric will also speak, likely on topics such as the Second Amendment, Benghazi and national security.

Sounds riveting, huh?

* As you know, Donald Trump promises to “make America great again.” Daniel Dresser says: “Obama’s been there…done that already.”

When Obama was elected, the United States was not terribly well-liked in the world. By the time he was sworn in, a growing share of the world’s population — including Americans — believed that American power and influence were on the wane. Nearly eight years later, the United States is looked upon more favorably in most (although not all) parts of the globe, and perceptions of American economic power have returned to pre-2008 levels. Americans themselves have greater confidence in the relative power of the U.S. economy than at any time in the post-2008 era.

None of these outcomes — particularly perceptions of economic influence — was preordained after the 2008 financial crisis. I have no doubt that a lot of readers believe that Obama has squandered the public goodwill given to him by the rest of the world. But credit where it’s due: If perception itself is a form of power, then Obama has made the United States great again.

And as someone who remembers the world in the fall of 2008, that is no small achievement.

* Finally, when I used to have cable, I enjoyed watching the Food Network because it was a great distraction. One of my favorites was always Michael Symon.

Now I know why. The man has great taste…and not just in food.

A darling of Cleveland’s culinary scene said Thursday that he wouldn’t allow Donald Trump to set foot in his restaurants when the Republican National Convention rolls into town next month.

“Dude, there’s not a chance I’d let him into one of my restaurants,” Michael Symon said in an interview with Cleveland radio station WKRK…

Asked if he thought his ban on the real estate mogul would alienate Trump fans who might be customers, Symon said that it had nothing to do with politics. The celebrity chef said that he had been “fortunate or unfortunate enough to meet him through the years.”

“It’s just that he creeps me out,” Symon said.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.