The Allman Brothers Band T-shirt: an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

James Earl Carter, the 39th president of the United States, was born 96 years ago today at the hospital where his mother worked as a nurse in Plains, Georgia. That facility, once the Wise Sanitarium, is now the Lillian G. Carter Nursing Center — it was renamed in 1976, the same year Mr. Carter was elected president.

A spokesperson for the Carter Center in Atlanta said the former president would be celebrating his birthday at home in Plains with his wife, Rosalyn. We hope he has a relaxing day and stays comfortably at home until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Back in July, the Carters released a photo reminding folks to wear face masks and to keep each other safe. In March, as the pandemic spread, the Carters sent a message to donors asking them to forgo their next planned donation to the Carter Center and instead give to local groups helping out with the pandemic, because that's the kind of people they've always been: believers in community, and in the power of people to help each other — not just through individual giving, but through making government work for everyone, too.

If you'd like to send the longest-lived American president a birthday greeting, you can do so through the Carter Center; darned if we know where to order one of those face masks, though.


While Carter was out of action for several months in the latter half of last year, hospitalized following surgery for cancer and a couple of falls, he was able to start going to church again in December 2019. He's been unable to return to teaching Sunday school, though, first because of his health, and after that because of the pandemic. But he's stayed busy. He didn't endorse any of the roughly three million Democrats running for president this year until Joe Biden clinched the nomination, but on Tuesday, he endorsed Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia's race for US Senate.

Carter has also made it into the news regarding recent stories about current politics. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was cause for some journalists to note that Carter first put her on the federal bench:

Carter is the only president since 1850 not to make a single Supreme Court nomination, but he reshaped the lower courts with a record number of nominations of women and non-white jurists, Ginsburg being the most notable.

In 1980, Carter tapped Ginsburg, then the nation's most accomplished civil rights attorney, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered the nation's second highest court. She was the second woman Carter nominated for the D.C. Circuit, setting her up for a promotion to Supreme Court 13 years later.

"He looked around at the federal judiciary and he said, 'You all look like me, but that's not how the great United States looks,'" Ginsburg said to a Fordham University Law School forum in 2016.

We repeat: That's the kind of person Jimmy Carter is.

Carter was also invoked in the lede of a Washington Post story Monday, following the big New York Times exposé revealing Donald Trump just plain doesn't pay income tax. Reporter Christopher Ingraham noted,

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter had a problem, according to presidential tax historian Joseph Thorndike. Carter's federal tax burden for 1976 had been zeroed out by a massive investment tax credit he earned for purchasing equipment and buildings related to his peanut farm.

Carter was upset, as he told The Washington Post at the time, because he had a "strong feeling" that wealthy people like him should pay at least some taxes. So he voluntarily paid the Treasury Department $6,000, the equivalent to 15 percent of his adjusted gross income and slightly more than the 14 percent paid by average taxpayers that year.

And let's say it one more time: He's that kind of guy.

This year, while Carter may not be getting out much (and good for him!), the Carter Center is working to ensure free and fair elections in the USA, the kind of thing Carter used to promote in foreign countries whose democracies needed the kind of work that ours now does, too. For the first time ever, the Carter Center has labeled the US a "backsliding democracy," explaining in a statement that such governments are

often characterized by polarization, a lack of public trust, ethnic or racial divisions and injustice, and fears that election results won't be seen as credible or could trigger violence.

Our birthday wish for President Carter: May you see democracy restored in the United States of America.

Gosh, we hope it's not too tacky for our birthday wish to Jimmy Carter to be a little selfish. We want that, too.

Now this is your OPEN THREAD.

[CNN / ABC News / CNN / Carter Center / Carter Center birthday message linky]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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