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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

Lots of letters about understanding Trump voters, and about trans folks, so those are the two subjects we'll start with. There just can't be that many sites out there with a top two like that.

Understanding Trump Voters

P.M. in Currituck, NC, writes: Wow! I never expected such a response among the readership here to my comment. I teach high school, and part of how I run my classroom is by fostering discussions between my students. I certainly caused that to occur among the readers of this site.

I will begin by saying that my views have been honed largely by my upbringing in Northeastern Pennsylvania. My father's family were all stalwart Democrats—of the "Democrats are the party of the working people and the Republicans are party of big business" variety. Everyone in my family—on both sides—worked in blue collar industries, mainly coal mining and associated work. They voted straight party Democratic in every election for decades. The 1988 presidential contest was the first where I was cognizant of what was happening, and I had written "Dukakis/Bentsen" on the frame of the picture of me in my 6th grade classroom.

I was unaware of the "culture wars" until I was a high school senior, when a teacher asked me what views I held, and then said: "Why are you a Democrat? All of your views are conservative and Republican." That led to a rather introspective analysis where I learned about the (then) modern political parties and realized they were much different than the views of them I had—which were more applicable to about 1960.

I mention all of this to illustrate a point: a lot of people in Luzerne County, PA, still view life as it was in 1960, when the world "made sense." My viewpoint is somewhat similar to theirs, with a difference: I am educated, analytical, and have moved away and started a life elsewhere. Many of them have never lived outside of the Wyoming Valley, and have had little contact with anyone who is not white—there was not a single person of color in my graduating class, or among any of my classmates through all 13 years of school. I do live elsewhere, and I understand things from a perspective they do not possess. I—like they—realize the world will not go back to being that way. But that is the notion we grew up with, and change takes a long time.

Even though I have moved away, I visit often, and I still hold the same values the people there do. When it comes to political matters, we are angry. For decades, Democratic politicians would come to town and offer to bring jobs back—and, out of sense of party loyalty, people voted consistently Democratic. Those politicians took the votes, got into office...and did nothing to help the Wyoming Valley. Instead, as the years went on, the Democrats became mired in identity politics, sexual orientation/preference, free stuff for people, and increasingly moved farther and farther away from the needs of people in the Valley; the very same people who had been voting for them, for decades, looking for hope. They felt betrayed.

A lot of these folks were "Obama-Trump" voters. They voted for Obama out of a sense of loyalty to the party, but even by then a goodly amount of resentment had built up. Then, in 2015, Trump appeared on the scene. Here was a guy who actually had created thousands of jobs, who promised to make things better for the people there. Did people in Luzerne County believe he actually could restore jobs? No, they didn't, but they were willing to give him a chance. For decades, they had been voting for Democrats who promised to make their lives better, and they received no return on their investment. Why not take a chance on Trump?

No less than Joe Biden realized this was an issue. He has connections to the Valley—having been born in Scranton—and when he saw the Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre in October 2016, he said: "son of a gun...we may lose this election." He knows people in the area are not racists or bigots—we were angry at the economic injustice foisted upon us, and looked to Trump to be our voice. And the result was that the Democrats lost Luzerne County for the first time in decades.

If the readers want to learn more about what drives our thinking, I highly recommend listening to/reading this. Ben Bradlee Jr.'s book argues that the massive shift in votes from Obama to Trump in Luzerne County may have been the tipping point that elected Trump to the presidency. Bradlee visited Luzerne County after the 2016 election and actually spent time there—he is someone who truly made an effort to understand us, and I give him credit for that. More journalists should do the same, in places all over the country, if they really want to understand America.

Now on the topic of Democratic snobbery, I want to focus in particular on a comment made by J.S. in Springboro; that "'we are proud of the life we built for ourselves,' is the oldest of barely-coded racist dog whistles which translates to, 'the poor and people of color who are struggling are too lazy to build anything for themselves and just want government handouts.'" The fact that comment was made, with seeming smug satisfaction, illustrates the condescension of which I speak. Someone says something, and that is automatically perceived to a be racist dog whistle? I see it as too much negative analysis and not enough compassion for what people are going through, dismissal of their feelings, and disregard for what they're saying. It is the epitome of that snobbery, and is what folks like us in Luzerne County resoundingly reject. We are proud of who we are, and there's nothing else to it. Stop presuming to think for us, or to analyze our "true" motives. When people start doing that, they become condescending and arrogant—and we don't like being spoken down to.

One other point: there is no white privilege in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Go there, spend time there, like Ben Bradlee did, and you'll see why. Then, once you've spent the time, you'll understand why such comments, denigration of who we are/our values, and comments such as Obama's "you didn't build that" are perceived by us as distant, out-of-touch, snobbish, and is what led us to change our votes away from Democrats and to Trump. He offered us an alternative. The Democrats can bring us back—if they pay attention to us. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) understands this. Biden was born in Scranton, and I believe he understands this. Let's hope he can capitalize on it.

V & Z respond: We do not usually run letters of this length, but we told P.M. that we would give as much space as needed for this particular response.

E.B. in Seattle, WA, writes: I have some family insight on rural resentment toward coastal liberals. One side of my family comes from a farm county midway between Detroit and Flint, MI. A couple of years ago, a cousin from that side posted on social media about the tragedy of immigrant children dying in ICE custody at the southern border. My uncle jumped in and complained bitterly that liberals are always worried about people from other countries and nobody talks about the kids in Flint killed in gun violence, and wasn't this typical of Democrats that we're always turning a blind eye to problems here at home.

Of course, the irony is that he votes Republican. The party that has stood in the way of regulations that prevent gun violence, not to mention harming hundreds of thousands in Flint by screwing up the water supply so it was contaminated with lead. Those issues were completely unconnected in his mind. Instead, he wanted to bring back auto production to Flint so it could be like the good old days. It's just like people who bemoan there being no business in their rural downtown as they drive to buy stuff at the nearest Walmart.

W.M. in North Richland Hills, TX, writes: I was surprised Sunday morning that so many people were critical of P.M.'s comments about conservatives being talked down to. I live in a suburb of Fort Worth, where I would say we are not just red but really blood red. In my case, the area has three Democratic organizations. They all meet on different Thursday nights each month. My experience has been that most of the people who attend these meetings hate anything associated with the Republican Party, consider anyone not agreeing with them stupid (or, at very least, not up-to-date on the issues). When it is obvious you really don't like some people and consider them lacking knowledge, it is almost impossible for them to consider any points you are trying to make.

Beto O'Rourke traveled the state in 2018, listening to everyone, finding common interests with voters. The lesson was not learned. In our rush for political purity we did not try to engage our red neighbors on their aspirations for America. The blue wave was supposed to bring them magically to our point of view. Until we find the patience to tolerate a wide variety of viewpoints it is hard to ask voters to vote for people who neither like them nor respect them.

M.Y. in Windcrest, TX, writes: Several readers asked about the specifics of how Democrats talk down to Trump voters. I'm not a Trump voter, and share the desire to know more, but can address one issue: abortion. Every time the topic comes up, Democrats always say that a woman should be able to decide what to do with "her own body" as though that's the end of the discussion. I can tell you that this line will never, ever work on pro-lifers, and in fact just makes us mad. A fetus/embryo is biologically not part of the woman's body. In it, yes, but not part of it. It's a separate life.

I've moved left of center on several issues, but am a member of the American Solidarity Party for this reason and others. I'm open to voting for Democrats where there is no ASP candidate, because I realize that abortion is not the only important issue and its legality is not the primary factor in the rate at which it happens, but many others do not recognize this and will never vote for a Democrat.

I've seen in numerous places that up to a third of Democrats nationally consider themselves pro-life, and an ASP leader told me that this number is as high as 50% in Texas.

It should be crystal clear what the Democrats need to do: Be more big-tent on the abortion issue. They don't have to be rabid pro-lifers, but at least don't constantly slap us in the face!

N.E.H. in Rochester, NY, writes: I originally started this as a response to R.E.M. in Brooklyn and A.J. in Baltimore, about why people vote for Trump. As to why P.M. in Currituck would vote for Obama, I really have no idea.

I have two people I know personally that voted for Trump, both of whom think Trump is an idiot. My father-in-law voted for Trump because he thinks Democrats will ruin the country, and a friend thinks Trump has done a lot of good for this country, namely: gas prices have dropped and his 401(k) is doing well! These are not Trump fanatics. These are people who voted for him simply because he's on the Republican ticket.

I hate to tell you this, but there's a lot of people in this country who only care about themselves when it comes to politics. As long as they are doing okay, they will vote for Republicans. To use the examples R.E.M. in Brooklyn and A.J. in Baltimore gave, these people don't care about abortion, as they don't need it. Their children are not being separated from them, so why do they care about an immigrant's family in another part of the country? Racism, sexism, and other discrimination don't affect them, so they don't see a need to change it for others. Trump's "religious bigotry, mockery of the disabled, and that's before we get to the pathological lying, subversion of the rule of law and extortion of a foreign nation for domestic political gain" don't directly affect their lives, so they don't vote with those factors in mind. A good portion of these people mock and lie as well. They "know" politicians always lie, so what does it matter if it's out in the open? These are the people who don't care about environmental concerns or the warming planet. As long as their water is clean and abundant, why would they care about someone else's water? They're open for a few more 90-degree days in the summer. Less snow is a good thing!

They've worked hard for their money, and are not willing to part with any of it to help unknowns who didn't have the grit to get to the same place. This means voting against anything that raises taxes, or threatens their lifestyle, even remotely.

I don't mean to say they don't care about other people. They love their families, and lend hands to their communities. But their political leanings and voting records align with the fact that they don't care about the effects of their actions on people not in their immediate circle or community, and they don't forecast far into the future either. These are the people who will never vote for liberals, because they don't see the need to make changes on the world that is doing okay by them. As much as we'd like to ignore them, they are still there. Are there ways to change their minds? I'm not sure. If you come up with a way, let me know, as I have many in my own family!

I think we all need to wake up to the fact that people who feel this way are out there in great numbers. How do we enact changes on the world when they are going to vote against these changes, and possibly actively fight them? To me, that's the question that should be answered.

T.G. in Willingboro, NJ, writes: There were a few emails this past week asking why Republican/Trump voters feel that Democrats are condescending to them. As this site has pointed out, there is more than one type of Trump voter, and these questions appear to be directed at the "white, high-school-educated" faction in Trump's camp. Several asked for examples of this Democratic behavior. I think you don't need to look any further than A.J. from Baltimore's email, a series of rhetorical questions that amount to a series of mini-lectures. You have demonstrated what I feel is one of the major messaging issues the Democrats have—when you immediately dismiss another's position as wrong (even if you strongly believe it is) then you will never be able to understand their thought process. This appears to be where our country finds itself...everyone is "right" and the other side is "wrong." Sounds simple but this may be the biggest problem.

I am a physician and somewhat liberal, so I understand that I am one of the "elites," but I grew up in a very blue collar/high school educated environment. I can tell you that from my experience people are people. At our base, we all have the same emotions and needs. If you want to understand the other side, just try to understand yourself. I think what this group of Trump voters feels the most is fear. Often fear is expressed as anger. Think about what you fear for your future and your children, this is what they fear. The main difference is that the right-wing media and Donald Trump have purposely exploited their fear and taken it to the basest level—fear of not being able to feed their families as jobs are outsourced and fear of physical assault by the left wing "mob," to take two examples. So, if you are focused on the very specific perceived problem of not having enough to eat, then the more nebulous fear of say "global warming" takes a back seat to the immediate perceived threat.

I think Democrats must hijack this narrative from the right-wing media/Trump by demonstrating to this group that the future of this country holds a place for them and their children and it needs to be done as specifically as possible, since the right-wing media has laid out their arguments that they are doomed. Some are lost causes, but I feel the majority would be open to fairness for all of our citizens if it is perceived as that. Obviously, this is an enormously complicated situation, and not something that would be solved by a quick paragraph or two, but starting at a mutual respect of each other just as humans with the right to an opinion would be a good beginning.

V.H. in Lexington, MA, writes: As a thoroughly non-rural person, I nevertheless take exception to your review of Bill Hogseth's article in Politico. His main argument was that the consolidation of big agriculture is destroying smaller-scale farms and with it rural areas. Yet you simply ignored those points in favor of writing an obituary for ruraldom divorced from any past or future policy actions of the federal government save broadband, retraining, and solar panel factories. In fact, having a broader and more locally based food system would be good for everyone and could be urged/encouraged by federal policy instead of the opposite. Your apparently condescending take on it was exactly the problem he was trying to point out.

A.T. in Shippensburg, PA, writes: I also read Hogseth's piece on why the Democrats are losing rural America, and had the same reaction as yours, more or less. I also thought Hogseth had underestimated how much rural America had bought into Republican talking points on social issues that have nothing to do with anything that the GOP was actually doing for them. Even more importantly, in all of Hogseth's piece there's no awareness that poverty rates in urban America are actually higher than in rural America. So once again we're being told that for electoral reasons we have to take care of poor white people before we take care of even poorer non-white people. I'll hold my nose and do it if necessary, but it would be my preference to help those who need it most first, even if they don't live in swing states.

R.R. in Berlin, Germany, writes: Having read your item on Bill Hogseth's take on why Democrats can't win counties in rural America, and in light of the discussion of Cabinet positions, I was wondering if there is any merit to having a Secretary of Rural Development. Political pandering aside, rural America does need help, and establishing a Cabinet position for that express purpose would signal an earnest intent to grapple with the issue. It won't lead to an overnight improvement, nor will it cause everyone to switch tents, but the one thing it would do is to deny the accusation that the needs of rural America are going unaddressed, or worse, being ignored. And sometimes that's a good first step.

Trans Substantiation

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: I was outraged at the response by E.P. from Boston. Who are they to decide what is a "valid concern" or not? Especially having just invalidated our concerns as transgender people! You deal with individual do not target an entire group based on "Well, what if some guy wraps a skirt around his wiener and pretends to be trans so that he can X?"

This sort of argument shifts the blame for the treatment we get from the abusers to the abused. It is not incumbent on me, as a trans person to justify my existence or my rights to anyone else. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that I thought accrued to everyone, without exception. If my very existence makes some people uncomfortable, that is not my problem. These people have no right to turn their hangups into my problem!

Now, I specifically want to address trans competing in women's sport, since E.P. brought this up as a "valid concern." I will address this by way of a few fun facts.

  1. Renee Richards played professional women's tennis in the 1970's. She did not mow down her cisgender female competition.
  2. For over ten years now, the Olympics have allowed trans women to compete on women's teams. Number of medals won by trans female athletes? Zero.

So, E.P. can peddle their bigotry somewhere else, I am not having it. We have a right to live our lives, and to pursue our own happiness. What we do is not illegal, and the vast majority of us harm nobody. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say there are surely more Republican politicians on sex-offender lists than there are trans women. And by the way, many trans women on such lists are there because they were busted prostituting themselves, a choice they made because this society closed the doors of traditional employment on them. They did what they had to in order to survive. And for that they are then labeled "sex offenders" and then have further trouble getting into the traditional workforce.

Let E.P. spend even a week living our lives, and seeing what we must deal with, even today. I bet E.P. would not make it a week; I have made it 25 years. I am so much stronger than they ever will be, and I cannot imagine how those who came before me (I came out in the early 1990's) made it. But not a day goes by that I am not grateful to those early pioneers whose suffering made my very difficult road slightly smoother than it otherwise might have been.

I am a 25+ years activist for trans issues, and I have only accomplished the things I have because I stood on the shoulders of the giants who came before me. The level of my anger at E.P.'s words cannot be overstated.

K.A. in Nashville, TN, writes: Greetings from the cool fall in Nashville, TN. I wanted to respond to E.P. as a trans woman who has recently finished most of the physical work of transitioning (I still have a few minor hormonal changes ahead, but everything else is done).

The idea that trans feminine people are somehow "better" at sports is rooted in a lot of biological assumptions that are, frankly, bunk. We don't have an advantage because we "have more testosterone" than cisgender women or we have an advantage in muscle mass and power. We don't.

Estrogen therapy causes muscle mass to start to atrophy over the course of transition, in addition to shifting fat distribution. It also decreases bone density. Over time, while the structure of our bodies doesn't really change, the material making it up does, and makes our bodies physiologically closer to a cisgender woman. Plus, most trans women take a testosterone blocker for part or all of their transition until the testicles are removed. These are very effective and drastically suppress testosterone production.

Last point on the sports front: To my knowledge so far, a trans woman has yet to defeat a cisgender woman in a team or solo sport. We've had a better track record (pun intended) in politics!

Lastly, I want to address this notion of "give 'em meds" when it comes to trans kids, and how we're somehow pushing children too fast into a major medical decision.

This is, frankly, bull**it. It is an explicitly right-wing, anti-trans talking point. It comes specifically from Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) and their allies among evangelicals and other socially conservative movements. A frequent parallel talking point is how intervention specifically in the lives of young trans men is somehow "erasing" lesbian identities. This is also false and bull**it.

The reality is this: intervention by a licensed, trained, trans-positive counselor, combined with the use of either puberty blockers (in younger trans children) or hormone therapy (in older teenagers who would be going through puberty anyway) saves lives. The suicide rate for trans youth increases drastically without medical help. Denying trans youth access to these things accelerates depression, anxiety, and can take long term therapy to undo. Take it from me, a woman who didn't transition until 32 and who is still trying to cope with mistreatment and bullying from my peers as a child because I was feminine.

I don't intend to accuse E.P. of bigotry, but the truth is that when trans people get talked about, our voices often get left out of that conversation. There is so much misinformation, misunderstanding, and outright lying in reference to us while we struggle to get our voices above the noise. I hope E.P., and others, have the opportunity to listen to trans folks close to them so that they can better understand our experience.

S.B. in New Castle, DE, writes: Interesting replies to your item on anti-trans politics. Not surprising, though. Sad to say, I think a lot of the transgender experience has to do with the ability to "pass" as our gender identity. I do so easily, as I make a point to do so with voice, manner, and appearance. Not all can; some choose not to. It may not be fair, but it is reality. Because of that, I agree that we'll face issues for years to come. Nevertheless, I don't think we will see much about transgender issues in the headlines (for better or worse), save for the occasional male-to-female sports concern or broken glass ceiling.

J.M. in Montpelier, VT, writes: I'm afraid the letter you shared on Sunday from E.P. in Boston was full of well-worn transphobic talking points.

A full discussion and rebuttal of all the misconceptions, false equivalences, and fearmongering in the letter would be far too long for your mailbag section, so I'll restrain myself. (I believe it was Alberto Brandolini who said that the amount of energy needed to refute bull**it is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it. I think the dissemination of bigotry relies heavily on this principle.)

But I do want to highlight a core point that speaks volumes: E.P. posits a supposed conflict between "trans rights" and "women's rights." It may not have escaped your attention that a large number of trans people are women. Any non-transphobic formulation of women's rights would obviously include the rights of trans women, as E.P.'s apparently does not. If you think this phrasing was accidental or innocent, I have a bridge to sell you.

Claiming that the expansion of trans rights threatens the rights of non-trans women is a tactic that was already decades old when I transitioned in the 1990s. It's usually called trans-exclusionary radical feminism (though, confusingly, it's not always closely associated with radical feminism anymore, and proponents of the ideology often like to call themselves "gender critical" instead). Wikipedia has the basics, if you're not familiar.

Many people are ignorant of this history, and may be taken in by claims that arguments like E.P.'s, thinking they reflect a virtuous concern for women (but not trans women!), young people (but not young trans people!), prisoners (but not trans prisoners!) and so on. What you end up with is a subtler, more insidious politics of transphobia which soothes the guilty consciences of people who are put off by blatant hate speech, but still see trans people as scary and threatening.

To me it's reminiscent of the way that overt racism has become unacceptable in many circles, leading to a proliferation of dog whistles allowing people to tell themselves they are not bigots while politely signaling their support for the continued power of the majority over the minority.

I wonder if it was a coincidence that you placed E.P.'s letter directly after the one from A.B. in NC which argued that our fight against transphobia is far from over. It certainly served to illustrate A.B.'s point.

V & Z respond: The placement was not a coincidence. And just to be clear, we agree that the fight against transphobia is far from over. The specific argument we made is that transphobia may have reached the end of the line as an effective wedge issue.

A.N. in Memphis, TN, writes: The oppressor doesn't decide what counts as oppressive. Ask trans people what's oppressive to them and believe their answers. E.P. is wary about healthcare for trans minors—is that wariness rooted in trans perspectives? I can't detect that it is. This is true silencing: the erasure of perspectives that are not presumed to be worth asking for. To have one's objections to trans rights called bigotry is not silencing. It is speaking and receiving a reply one does not like. No one thinks of themselves as a bigot. We who are cisgender (including myself) have to reckon with the reality that our culture taught us to be transphobic, and therefore we believe and say and do bigoted things. The real test of character comes when this is pointed out: Can I be humble enough to ask how my behavior is hurting people, and then act on the answer?

H.R. in Jamaica Plain, MA, writes: I am also one of your cisgender female readers and I must respond to E.P. from Boston. They wrote "you may be underestimating the number of thorny conflicts between trans rights and women's rights," but this formulation ignores the fact that trans women are women. It is wrong to assume that there is no biological basis for a person who is assigned a male gender at birth to actually be a woman. Some trans women may have chromosome anomalies, such as XXY. It is also true that the in utero development of gender in the human brain occurs well after the development of sex organs. The in utero development of a human is a biological process that may take many twists and turns leading to the biological formation of gender in many forms, not just the two we assign culturally. From my experience with many trans friends, trans women are women in every sense of the word and trans men are men as well. And those who identify as non-binary are a combination that perhaps only they understand.

As to prisoners, if a trans woman is housed with male prisoners, she will be subject to abuse and violence and possibly death. On the other hand, there is no evidence that trans women housed with other women commit any such acts. As to "safeguarding minors," while much of what E.P. says about our medical system is true in general, historically, the medical community has resisted helping trans individuals before adulthood. Recent changes to these policies that have helped trans individuals to avoid suffering the indignity of puberty into the wrong gender are only undertaken after thorough vetting at a gender clinic and those clinics are only available in major cities.

Rather than silencing so-called valid concerns, what is needed here is a thorough understanding of the facts around trans lives. Such an understanding is the way to allay the uneasiness, however well-meaning, that arises from ignorance.

J.B. in Findlay, OH , writes: You wrote: "At the same time, it's a little harder to get the evangelicals really angry about those who are transgender unless you really, really hammer on the one plausibly anti-trans verse in the Bible, Deuteronomy 22:5 ('A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.')."

This is neither the only nor the strongest basis for a Biblical repudiation of transgender thought. The strongest comes from Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." And repeated in Genesis 5:1-2: "This is the written account of Adam's family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them 'Mankind' when they were created." This is echoed by Jesus Himself in Matthew 19:4: "'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female?'" And this account of Jesus' statement is also recorded in Mark 10:6: "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'"

Four very direct references as to the binary nature of mankind as created by God. I am not sure of your characterization that the goal is to "get evangelicals really angry." I think the goal is more about honoring God and supporting what He has revealed to us.

As with anyone who is lost, confused, outcast, and a sinner (as we all are), Christendom ought to reach out and teach the truth of God's redemptive work for us (as revealed in Romans 5:8) in love and with patience, not with vitriol and anger. Alas, we as sinful humans fall short of this ideal often.

P.T. in Hayward, CA, writes: I hate words like "woke," as they imply that the learning is done or complete. Being aware and more attuned to subjects outside one's own cultural lens is very important, but we shouldn't assume that we ever really know what it is like to be someone who is different from oneself. As a gay man, I thought I understood the trans movement until my child came out as transgender. I have learned a lot, but I realize how very little I really knew and know. Education outside the classroom setting is often more important than anything else in the world.

That said, I cannot think of a better word than woke to describe the attention and support (V) and (Z) provide for trans visibility. There have been numerous articles and letters to the editor that openly address the issues and needs of the trans community. I never see this openness on other political sites. I appreciate your articles and attention, yet I'm curious as to what made you so woke and understanding.

V & Z respond: You're very kind! To answer your question, we are both teachers, and as P.M. also notes above, one or our core missions is to facilitate discussion, debate, and understanding.


A.F. in Seattle, WA, writes: One of your readers asked whether Donald Trump would have won reelection in an alternate history where COVID-19 didn't happen. But really, this was a predictable outcome—most presidents seem to have to grapple with some significant crisis in a single four-year term, and inevitably, Trump was going to botch it, whatever it was, because he has no idea what he's doing. Imagine Trump during a 9/11, or the 2008 financial's nothing but nightmare scenarios. If nothing else, there would have been the BLM movement, which Trump was responding to with strongman nonsense and upside-down Bible photo-ops. Lest we forget, every week before COVID was just a constant stream of reminders that Trump is incompetent, corrupt, and generally a national embarrassment. I still would have voted against him, is I guess what I'm saying.

G.W. in Oxnard CA, writes: I saw an interview with President Barack Obama and learned that ground has not been broken on the Obama Presidential Library. They did show a 3D architectural rendering flythrough of what it will look like, however. So, all Donald Trump needs to do is spend a few thousand bucks on a 3D architectural rendering flythrough of the Trump Presidential Library, designate a site, and he can run the con for the rest of his life and donors to the library won't learn every penny of the funds were spent elsewhere until after Donald Trump is dead, perhaps not until after the last Trump child is dead (Barron, most likely).

A.L. in Highland Park, NJ, writes: Is it not in Donald Trump's best interest for the Democrats to win the Georgia special elections and make Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) minority leader? If that happens:

  1. Trump is the de-facto boss of Republicans-in-exile, as he does not have to share the spotlight with a legislative leader.
  2. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), etc. cannot afford to distance themselves from Trump once he shows his power to not only deliver votes, but also suppress.
  3. Democrats take full blame for anything bad that happens (either in reality or in the Foxverse) if they control both executive and legislative branches.

Does Trump realize all this? I suspect he does.

S.C. Mountain View, CA, writes: I was discussing the recent election and the subsequent court cases with my brother and his wife. They live in the greater New York metropolitan area, and my sister-in-law is a nurse with a masters in adult psychiatry and a sub-specialty in geriatric psychiatry. She said that Rudy Giuliani's behavior is consistent with frontal-lobe dementia, as it does not affect memory but does affect judgment, insight, and inhibition. The lack of judgement and inhibition would explain, for example, his antics in the "Borat" movie.

The sad part is, since frontal-lobe dementia affects insight, he wouldn't realize that his condition is deteriorating and his judgement isn't what it used to be.

H.G. in Glendale, CA, writes: Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.) was recently pardoned by Donald Trump for his conviction for lying to the FBI. Since then, he has had published an op-ed piece that calls for Trump to declare martial law, invalidate the presidential election, and call for a new election due to massive voter fraud. Perhaps Flynn should be recalled to active duty and face a court-martial for his comments in this op-ed piece.

The Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) in United States v. Dinger has recently held that a retired service member can face court-martial for offenses committed after retirement. Flynn's comments asking President Trump to invalidate the Presidential election on the basis of unproven massive fraud allegations, and to call a new election, clearly violates Flynn's oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. Under United States v. Dinger, one would think that would constitute an offense that would be worthy of a court-martial.

D.S. in Palo Alto, CA, writes: Something missed in the pardon discussion: Pardons have no bearing on civil cases, whose purpose is usually to reclaim money gained through unlawful means. For instance, the Washington, DC, DA is pursuing civil cases to retrieve overpayments made to the Trump hotel during Donald Trump's inauguration celebrations. Presumably, tax cases can also be pursued in the civil courts. Peter Piper paraded with a peck of pardoned paupers, or something like that?

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: Regarding the pardon power, Hastings Law Professor Aaron Rappaport makes an interesting argument that federal pardons have to specify what crimes are being pardoned. In other words, general pardons, like the one Gerald Ford gave to Richard Nixon, are invalid. The argument is based on English law from 1789 and could be persuasive to self-styled "originalists."

Regarding Manhattan DA Cy Vance, I don't think he has further political ambitions, at least not realistic ones. He is up for re-election in 2021, and so far has not announced that he is running. If he does, he will have numerous challengers, who have started lining up endorsements, as there is widespread dissatisfaction with his coddling Jeffrey Epstein and refusal to prosecute Jared and Ivanka for a 2012 real estate deal. An indictment of Donald Trump, just like the conviction of Harvey Weinstein, might rehabilitate his image if he does decide to run. But as for moving up, Andrew Cuomo is 3 1/2 years younger than Vance and seems likely to run for a fourth term. Even if he does retire, Attorney General and Trump nemesis Letitia James would seem to have the inside track. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is four years older than Vance, but it's hard to imagine a primary challenge or retirement there, either. My suspicion is that if Vance doesn't run for re-election, he'll indict Trump, declare victory, and ride off into the sunset (leaving the circus trial to his successor).

J.O. in Columbia, MD, writes: Your item "What is Trump Up To" (and every similar analysis that I've seen) misses what I think is one of the essential reasons that Donald Trump will announce he is running in 2024: his legal fight. By being a candidate for President in 2024, he will claim that every legal action taken against him (challenging the inevitable self-pardon, Ukraine-Y-Z, emoluments, taxes in New York, etc.) will be motivated by political payback, masterminded by Evil Joe Biden (when he's not sleepy) to discredit his political opponent, an attempt to "lock him up" lest he reclaim the White House. This doesn't only play out on Parler and OAN, but is brought up in court filings, where it will get some consideration and maybe (with the right judges) traction. Trump once again gets to play the aggrieved victim.

D.T. in San Jose, CA, writes: In addition to the other motivations you listed for Trump declaring his 2024 candidacy, I can think of another fairly significant reason: continued access to social media.

All social media platforms have rules and standards dictating what types of content you can, and cannot, post on their service. Some platforms, most notably Twitter, have a "public-interest exemption" from those rules.

What this means is that Twitter will not enforce its own rules if the user is an elected official or a candidate for office. This is precisely why Alex Jones has been banned from Twitter for posting abusive conspiracy theories, yet the same behavior by President Trump has largely gone unchallenged.

There are few things that Trump values more than the public adoration of his fans. Getting himself banned from social media would be a crushing loss. By declaring his intent to run for President in 2024, Trump is ensuring that he will continue to benefit from the double standard Twitter offers to political candidates.

R.H. in Akron, OH, writes: There is a simple reason for Donald Trump to run again: He gets to have marvelous campaign events with people cheering and adoring him, while getting other people to pay for it. If Trump isn't running, he'd have to foot the bill for events, and surely the number of people willing to pay to see him speak would be competitive with Charlie Sheen's meltdown tour (which, for those that don't remember, didn't go well).

But if Trump is running for President, he gets the best of both worlds...adoration on someone else's dime! In between indictments, of course.

D.N. in Panama City, FL, writes: I expect that books critical of the outgoing president and his administration will come in two (more?) waves. First, upon leaving office, when he no longer controls levers of governmental power to harass and retaliate against the authors and their sources. The second wave would be upon his death, when the risk of retaliatory litigation diminishes. Seen in that light, perhaps announcing his candidacy for 2024 now, and appearing to be a very popular figure who confounds pollsters and may actually succeed, is an effort to blunt that first wave?

The 2020 Election

J.G. in Atlanta, GA, writes: I was telling some friends today about your item "Another Theory about Why the Polls Were Wrong," which talks about socially isolated Trump voters, as well as previous articles about the customized propaganda the Trump campaign microtargeted at low propensity voters, and it occurred to me what they were effectively doing. Having sucked up all the easy-to-reach Republican voters, the Trump campaign began "fracking" the population to extract more votes.

B.C. in Walpole, ME, writes: Regarding Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's scheming:

This is strictly anecdotal of course, and make of it what you will. We live in Maine. We have an adult child living in Bethlehem, PA, where Postmaster DeJoy had a significant amount of mail sorting machinery removed (photos and stories in the local newspaper, the Morning Call). The other adult children live near Port Angeles, WA, two hours' drive beyond Seattle. We can get to Paris, France in less time than it takes us to get to the children on the West Coast.

Recently (but post-election), my wife sent Christmas packages to the children. The ones sent to the West Coast arrived in two days. The one that went to Bethlehem took eight days. It didn't used to be that way.

V & Z respond: But can you get to Paris, Texas in less time than it takes to get to the children on the West Coast?

J.K. in Short Hills, NJ, writes: While much of the recent attention pertaining to the Senate has centered on whether a potential GOP majority would confirm Joe Biden's unquestionably qualified picks for his Cabinet, I was dismayed to see the Democrats vote in unison against Christopher Waller (Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, also voted no) to fill one of the two Federal Reserve governor vacancies. Unlike the understandably controversial Judy Shelton, Dr. Waller had largely unassailable credentials for joining the Federal Open Market Committee. Although his confirmation vote admittedly came in the lame duck session, the President sent his nomination, along with that for Dr. Shelton, to the Senate in January. Five Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee voted to advance his candidacy to the Floor in July. In my opinion, the margin was far narrower than what it should have been and is sadly emblematic of the partisanship in Washington from both sides of the aisle.

L.S. in Greensboro, NC, writes: A few weeks ago I posted on another site the idea that Democrats should start an aggressive campaign targeting Georgia Republicans, pointing out that if they believe President Trump's assertions that the election was fraudulent and stolen in their state, then the only rational thing for them to do is to boycott the January 5 runoff. Why should they participate in something they are convinced is a big fraud? What I wasn't expecting is that Republicans would come to this conclusion without any Democratic help at all! Still a long way to go, and I still suspect the two Republicans will win, but it's still fun to watch the chickens coming home to roost.

B.B. in Kassel, Germany, writes: I was extremely disappointed by your jab at 538's supposed intellectual dishonesty. I have rage-tweeted my dissatisfaction here:

The original tweet was 
written in German, but the Google translation suggests it makes liberal use of the phrase 'asshole site,' which
probably makes more sense in the original language

You probably won't mind losing one reader, but I still want to tell you why you do.

V & Z respond: In fairness to (V), that was actually written by (Z). And for (Z)'s part, he stands by his view that Nate Silver spent a bit too much time declaring victory in 2016 because he had Trump at 20% to win.

D.K. in Oceanside, CA, writes: Nate Silver is always correct because he follows the weather forecast model: "The forecast for tomorrow is 'mostly sunny with a 5% chance of showers,'" Tomorrow it rains. The forecast was correct because there was a 5% chance of rain.

What's Next

F.S. in Cologne, Germany, writes: You wrote "There are real questions about whether any Democrat who is not an older white man with blue-collar roots can win in the Midwest in the future." I disagree, because Michigan and Wisconsin have female Democratic senators and Michigan has a Democratic governor. Furthermore Pennsylvania, Michigan and particularly Wisconsin were all close in the presidential elections of 2000, 2004, 2016 and 2020. There's no clear trend in these 3 states over the past 20 years if you discount the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. So only Barack Obama (who is not an older white man with blue-collar roots) won these states by a comfortable margin.

K.C. in West Islip, NY, writes: You wrote about what it would take for Democrats to win again in 2024 or 2028 if we were to take into account the typically abysmal turnout among young voters. Though I generally agree that these newly minted young adults have a very bad history of not showing up when it matters, I also get the sense that this voting bloc is taking a bigger interest in politics than they may have in the past.

I, for one, have never missed an election since my first year of eligibility back in 1999. The same couldn't be said for many of my peers who I'm sure skipped out on, at the very least, the off-year elections. But 21 years have passed since then and politics is a much different beast these days. Everyone seems to have a very strong opinion, right down to the students I teach in high school. Not yet voting age, they all visibly cringe at the mention of the name Donald Trump. I can't necessarily speak for what the future will hold, but I do think that the utter clown show we had to bear witness to over the last four years certainly drove home to a lot of kids the importance of going out and voting. The lessons we all had to endure may well carry forward in 2024 and beyond and I believe that what the Democrats really need to do at this point is simply keep the youth engaged.

As far as the direction younger voters will take this country in as they wield their power to vote, I don't agree with folks who seem to think they'll take us down a pathway to socialism by putting someone like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) into the White House. As we all know, people tend to return towards the center as they get older, but what we may hopefully see over the next few presidential election cycles is a shift of this nation from center-right to center-left, hopefully pulling the Republican party back towards the center in the process and restoring a sense of unity, equity and opportunity for all Americans while we put the Trump family and their absurd moment on the political stage in the rearview mirror for good.

T.F. in Banks, OR, writes: J.H. in Canton, GA wrote: "As someone who chose to attend public university for undergrad and grad school and worked to pay off my student debt, I'm not okay with just forgiving the debts of Ivy League graduates who have the income to pay those debts back."

This argument is a malign, selfish, you-can't-give-people-what-I-didn't get, with a strawman "Ivy League graduates" who are a tiny fraction of all college graduates. These are typical GOP tactics, and it's not surprising that J.H. would threaten to vote GOP if this demand isn't met. If J.H. wants to means-test the debt forgiveness I'm open to that conversation. But this argument isn't the way to get there.

B.B. in St. Louis, MO, writes: In my opinion, institutes of higher learning should be made most available for those best able to take advantage of the facilities provided, rather than those most willing or able to pay. In the latter situation, not only is the talent pool needlessly restricted, but income inequality is also perpetuated.

My father discouraged his children from working while in college, as he calculated that the potential income generated would be less than the value of the time that was taken away from their studies. He and my mother worked so that we would not have to and accordingly we graduated with no student debt, a benefit that we have paid forward to our children. Do I attribute my success solely to my hard work and gumption? No, it was in part because I was fortunate to have been born into a family where education was prized for its own sake, and I do not feel that others who were not so lucky should be penalized.

Let us call student debt what it really is—an unfair tax that falls disproportionately on those of low or modest income. In addition to its other effects on the economy, this tax also influences health care, as resident physicians opt away from primary care towards the more lucrative specialties.

Defund the Police?

A.N. in Memphis, TN, writes: You wrote: "It's hard enough to get anything done under the U.S. system of government, so why would you make it even harder by stepping on potential allies' toes and angering them/scaring them off? However, some activists equate 'make your messaging more accessible' with being a sell-out."

I'm surprised by the flatness of your analysis. I'm a progressive activist and a pragmatist. I say "defund the police" not to be pure, but to be effective: the slogan has moved the Overton Window far more than "reform the police" would have. In Memphis, local government that has long ignored police reform activism is now attempting to pacify us with reforms. We probably won't get to defund the police, but if we get a chunk of what we've demanded for years, we win by "losing." Then, onward. I'm not a historian of the Progressive Era, but it would surprise me to learn that the decades-long campaigns you mention were seen as reasonable by their contemporaries. We tend to see all change as unreasonable until after it has been accomplished. In 2015, moderates told me not to say "Black Lives Matter."

By writing that "Defund the Police" is an inaccessible slogan for a good cause, you are actually doing your part to make the strategy work. Thanks. It'd be even cooler if you spent as much energy promoting the good cause as bewailing the inaccessible slogan.

L.M. in Ottawa, Canada, writes: B.L. from New York asks about where the slogan "Defund the Police" came from. As you note, it arose somewhat organically from among various progressive groups. Observing discussions on Twitter among such groups, however, it turns out that "Defund the Police" was actually deemed the moderate slogan at the time—the preferred option by many initially was "Abolish the Police" with "Defund the Police" viewed as an unnecessary weakening of the position.

At the same time, these discussions often involved expository threads that explained "what we mean by 'Defund the Police' is..." and then clarified the slogan to mean moving more funds to social workers, youth programs, mental health support etc. and away from the (often excessively large) police budgets. The explanations of "Abolish the Police" were actually often very similar, the only significant difference being that "Defund the Police" still left a police force, just a less well-funded one, while "Abolish the Police" replaced all police functions with some alternative (some of which, ultimately, amounted to police functions). In a sense, the "Abolish the Police" faction had the same ultimate goal as "Defund the Police," but believed the entire policing system was so corrupt that it needed to be entirely excised and rebuilt from scratch with new people.

More recently, I have seen some efforts to create a still more tempered slogan, such as "Demilitarize the Police." Ultimately what the slogan means, when discussed and unpacked, is effectively the same as "Defund the Police" (which, when explained, is far less radical than the slogan implies; though if you have to explain what it means you aren't winning in sound-bite-driven politics). Perhaps I, being Canadian, misread the U.S. electorate, but it seems to me that "Demilitarize the Police" is a slogan that a much wider swathe of moderates could get behind, and could still connote a lot of what the progressive wing would like to achieve (particularly if we read it to mean not just military equipment, but a militaristic/violent/adversarial approach generally). Having already compromised from "Abolish the Police," supporters of "Defund the Police" seem unwilling to further weaken their position with more compromises. Depending on how the next election cycle goes, however, they may not have a choice.

Latin_, Redu_

J.K. in Portland, OR (formerly Aix-en-Provence, France and Scheveningen, Netherlands), writes: The whole kerfuffel about gendered nouns ("Latinx") completely conflates the sorting of nouns into what are mis-identified as "genders" and the American attempt to do away with anything that can smack of gender, dating back to "the personipulation of the language."

In Romance languages (I will use French here, as I am fluent in that language), the sorting of words has some arbitrariness and the "gender" identification got its labels because sorting of male and female animals who reproduce via some form of sex into those categories. But there is arbitrariness in that sorting everywhere else. For two examples, any noun ending in -eau is masculine and any noun ending in -ion is feminine. For a really counterintuitive (for an English speaker) example, the word for "the person" is "la personne" no matter whether the person referred to is male, female, or nonbinary. And if a collectivity of people is referred to by a pronoun, that pronoun follows the gender category of the word. So if you want to say in French that those folks on the men's national football team are cute, you would say, "Cettes personnes, elles sont mignonnes" and no native French speaker would even dream that you are not speaking correctly. Also, in Romance languages, the gender reference of a possessed object follows the object, not the owner, so if you are referring to my paper and pen, you would say "son papier" and "sa plume" no matter what gender I am.

It can get stranger in Germanic languages, where Mark Twain once observed that in German "It, the girl, takes her, the bucket, to the stream to fetch water." The Dutch language has evolved to combine its "genders" into two categories—common (merging formerly male and female) and neuter. In the Netherlands, I would sometimes avoid misguessing by employing the rule that all diminutives are neutral gender and all plurals are common gender (e.g., "het olifantje" for "the little/dear elephant" or "de olifanten" for "the elephants").

Historical Matters

D.F. in Norcross, GA, writes: I was interested in the question posed by J.B. of Bend, OR, on the most and least effective one-term Presidents, particularly the two categories of determining the latter. I think you left off a third category (probably deliberately), which would include presidents who weren't in office long enough to really have a chance to get much accomplished. Of course, the bulk of this category might be made up of those who died before the completion of their first terms, be it through assassination (Garfield, JFK) or natural causes (Harrison, Taylor, Harding). However, Gerald Ford should also be considered, since he left office just less than 30 months after assuming the presidency after Richard Nixon's resignation.

That all said, my opinion is that this category begins and ends with William Henry Harrison, since he died just one month after his inauguration, and became sick about three weeks into his presidency. That's not much time to do much of anything in the positive or the negative, which seems pretty relevant since the original question was asking about the most or least "effective" one-term presidents.

V & Z respond: Fair point. We didn't run the full text of the e-mail, but J.B. actually asked that our answer be limited to presidents who served exactly one full term.

D.H. in Lisbon Falls, ME, writes: Expanding on which books had the greatest influence on U.S. history:

  • The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, Benjamin Spock
  • Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley
  • Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader
  • The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

And if (Z)'s list of the greatest 50 songs does not contain "God Only Knows" (Beach Boys) or "I Wanna Be Sedated" (The Ramones) then my 10-year relationship with your site will be in jeopardy...

V & Z respond: All of those are certainly Top 50, with Friedan certainly cracking the Top 10. As to the songs, recall that it will be "most influential," from a historical perspective, and not necessarily "greatest."

T.V.P. in Portland, OR, writes: If the Bible counts as a book (and Byblos is the word for "book" in Greek) then the Federalist Papers certainly constitute a book. The Bible is a collection of works by many authors (mostly anonymous men, and possibly a woman or two) written over centuries. Editors, compilers and redactors at various times put oral stories together and combined written narratives. There is religious poetry (Psalms), love poetry (Song of Songs), fabulous tales of talking snakes and a man who lived several days in the belly of a fish (Genesis and Jonah), pious men who demanded social justice and skeptics who pondered the futility of life (Amos and Ecclesiastes aka Qoheleth) etc.

Bottom line: If a whole library covering one ancient civilization is considered a book, then certainly the Federalist Papers, where the men were talking about the same subject in a sort of dialogue together is a book.

T.I. in Oceanside, CA, writes: J.K. in Los Angeles CA, wrote: "most documentaries...before 'The Civil War'...were two dimensional and really boring!

"Ken Burns changed everything...especially [with] his way of bringing still photos to life. In the industry, the use of motion control and creative film moves on photos is actually known as 'The Ken Burns Effect.'"

While I might be a little biased (a little? OK, more than that!), I hope that tens of thousands of elementary and high school students in the late 1960s and early 1970s found the documentaries I was involved with not too boring. At that time, I was the audio producer for Encyclopedia Britannica Films (EBF) and did the soundtracks for hundreds of documentary films, many of which used the zoom-n-pan technique on stills that Burns employed. Burns himself credited the Canadian documentary "City of Gold" as an example that led to his use of animatics (early term).

The Oxberry animation stand that EBF used was able to produce those effects in a time- and talent-consuming manner, on 16mm film for motion pictures, and on 35mm film for "filmstrips" (a term long forgotten). EBF produced films for National Geographic in that time period as well, with a few utilizing the animation technique on still photos. It was always a challenge to take such footage and make the narration fit since the footage was locked in due to the cost and availability of the Oxberry, which was in demand across the film division. Oh, and we used a lot of sound effects, too. In analog recordings. On magnetic tape. None of this "digital" stuff that makes things...never mind. Rant over.

C.J. in Hawthorne, CA, writes: For my money, "The Civil War" is still the best thing Ken Burns has ever done ("National Parks" is close). While nowadays it may be trendy to focus more on the social history of events, when I watch a war documentary, I do want the war covered well (for instance while I did enjoy American Experience's World War One series from a couple of years back, I was disappointed in the lack of time given over to actual combat).

Shelby Foote has Lost Cause-isms (especially if you watch the outtakes that weren't in the series), but he gives Union soldiers and leaders credit, especially Abraham Lincoln (one of the two geniuses of the war according to Foote) and Grant (I believe Foote called him "wonderful" and "a man who could lick Lee, and did"). That in itself makes him not a total follower of the philosophy.

V & Z respond: On the other hand, Foote's other genius of the war is...Nathan Bedford Forrest. That's an insight that hasn't aged well.


K.S. in Iselin, NJ, writes: Looks like you were right about Trudeau's sinister plans. A Canadian himself has now confirmed the planned invasion, and it looks like it's been in the works for decades:

V & Z respond: Those infernal Canadians have been carelessly revealing the details of their plans for many years, at least as far back as the 2004 unveiling of the site Canadian World Domination, which even includes maps of what the world will look like once subjected to Canadian rule:

South America is renamed
South Canada, Antarctica is Frozen Canada, Africa is Warm Canada, Europe is Euro-Canada, Asia is Pacific Rim Canada, 
and Australia is Canada Down Under

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: This week, you suggested that the Republican Party might be experiencing a Civil War in regards to Donald Trump's claims of massive voter fraud. Silly, silly boys, you should know better! Only Democrats have civil wars (It's in the AP style guide). Republicans have Wars of RINO Aggression!

M.R. in Vancouver, WA, writes: Now that the dust is starting to settle from the election, I am pleased to see that Joe Biden is fulfilling his pledge for White House diversity by bringing a cat in addition to his two dogs.

V & Z respond: Please. Theodore Roosevelt had dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, a pony, a macaw, a badger, a hen, a hyena, an owl, a pig, a bear, and a one-legged rooster. Now that's diversity.

B.L. in Ann Arbor, MI, writes: With your discussion of earmarks, I'm including a recipe for thrice baked pork. Apparently with the pandemic, we have all kinds of time at home to keep yanking meat out of a menagerie of heating utensils.

V & Z respond: If there's a better way to end the mailbag, we can't think what it might be.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec05 Saturday Q&A
Dec05 Today's Senate Polls
Dec04 Four Out of Five Presidents Believe in Setting an Example on COVID-19
Dec04 Pardon Power Is no Panacea
Dec04 Graham Could Be in Hot Water
Dec04 Georgia Republicans Brace for Trump's Arrival
Dec04 And Now We Know
Dec04 Projecting the Cabinet Is a Real Crapshoot
Dec04 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Dec04 Today's Senate Polls
Dec03 Biden Wins Georgia--Again
Dec03 Biden Is Focusing on Mid- and Lower-Level Appointees
Dec03 What Is Trump Up To?
Dec03 Trump 2024
Dec03 The Case of the Unredacted Apostrophe
Dec03 The Michigander vs. the Michigoose
Dec03 Earmarks Are Back
Dec03 Democrats Are Spending Millions to Hammer Perdue and Loeffler on Insider Trading
Dec03 Democrats Are Fighting over Feinstein's Replacement
Dec02 Pardon Me?
Dec02 Don Trixote Continues to Tilt at Electoral Windmills
Dec02 Trump Inches Closer to Making it Official
Dec02 Trump About to Suffer One Last Foreign Policy Loss on His Way Out the Door
Dec02 What Ails the Democrats, Part 647
Dec02 Biden Pressured to Make Cabinet More Diverse
Dec02 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Health and Human Services
Dec01 Certifiable Loser
Dec01 Cold Turkey
Dec01 940,000 Absentee Ballots Have Been Requested for Georgia Runoff So Far
Dec01 Can the Democrats Win Back the Cuban Vote?
Dec01 Voters Apparently Like What They Are Seeing from Biden
Dec01 Five Things That Saved Democracy
Dec01 The Biden Cabinet: Secretary of Labor
Nov30 Appeals Court Slaps Down Trump
Nov30 Biden's Lead in Wisconsin Grows by 87 Votes
Nov30 Biden Breaks a Record
Nov30 Biden's Top Five Challenges
Nov30 Supreme Court to Hear Census Case Today
Nov30 House Results Are Nearly Complete Now
Nov30 Republicans Came Back to Life in California
Nov30 Why Did the Democrats Do So Badly in House Races?
Nov30 The Senate Will Be Plunged into Uncertainty for Weeks Next Year
Nov30 Is Democracy Safe Now?
Nov30 Can the Democrats Win Again in 2024?
Nov30 Build That Wall!
Nov29 Sunday Mailbag
Nov28 Saturday Q&A
Nov27 Trump Says He'll Leave if He Loses the Electoral College
Nov27 How Long to Go from the White House to the Big House?
Nov27 Trump Complicates Things in Georgia