Needed 1990
Sanders 45
Buttigieg 26
Biden 15
Warren 8
Klobuchar 7
Bloomberg 0
Steyer 0
Remaining 3878
Political Wire logo Virus May Have Been In Washington State for Weeks
Sanders Raised Massive Sum In February
Contested Convention Now Most Likely Scenario
Why Biden Has a Shot Now
Quote of the Day
Next Stop Super Tuesday
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Saturday Q&A

Saturday Q&A

It's been quite a week.

Q: Could you please explain to me why the Pocahontas attack line against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would be at all effective? I'm a Warren supporter, so it might be hard for me to see, but it seems like this attack line is pretty weak. No one would really believe after hearing Warren speak that she's not smart enough to be at Harvard. Also, her DNA test did show some Native American ancestry, basically confirming her old family story. I'm not sure why someone who would be interested in voting for her would stop voting for her because of this. Overall, this seems to be very small potatoes compared to other "scandals". E.W., Skaneateles, NY

A: There are two ways of looking at this and Trump is certainly aware of both. First, Warren's detractors have crafted a narrative that she exaggerates or lies about her personal background/experiences when it suits her needs, going for "sympathy" points based on her demographics. According to this way of thinking, she lied about being fired when pregnant, she misrepresented her non-white heritage to get her job at Harvard, and she falsely accused Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) of sexism. "Pocahontas" is a convenient shorthand for this whole narrative, which is particularly salient to angry, white men who are aggravated that a wealthy, white millionaire academic should expect special treatment when they certainly don't get special treatment.

Second, and more generally, a lot of the resentful blue-collar white men in Trump's base believe that the government, universities, companies, and other organizations give priority to women, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and the disabled (among other groups). In other words, just about everyone discriminates against able-bodied white men like themselves and they don't like it one bit. The "Pocahontas" name just throws this in their faces.

Q: In terms of Sanders' more assholery-inclined supporters, which you wrote about on Wednesday, would you be able to map out what exactly he could do to 'rein them in'? E.A.D, Jara, San Jose, Costa Rica

A: We will start by noting that it may not be possible, and that some or many of the problematic folks who make up his base are beyond his control.

That said, if he wants to try it, the first thing he needs to do is stop trying to have it both ways. We linked to several examples in the original piece of the Senator calling out his supporters' worst behavior, but then saying it wasn't that bad, or blaming it on Russian bots, or a tiny number of bad apples. Every time Sanders equivocates like this, it sends the message that he's not all that serious about reining in the base, and that he doesn't actually think there's a problem here.

Beyond that, he needs to be proactive. In those cases where he chastises his base, it's always after a high-profile example of bad behavior, like threats against the Culinary Union, or threats against the life of Ava DuVernay. If the Senator so chose, he could emphasize civility far more often, either until things improve, or at least until it's crystal clear to everyone exactly where he stands. We all know he has a vast amount of money at his command; why not use some of that on ads that encourage civility and to run some ads with the theme "Not all Democrats agree with us 100%, but remember they are not the enemy"?

And finally, this may be a small thing, but it would send an important message: Sanders should consider ending the "Am I a Democrat?" or "Am I an independent?" dance and just join the Democratic Party. As long as he is officially an outsider, it makes it rather easier for the elements in his base that are so inclined to treat Democrats as "the other" and as an enemy faction.

Q: I read your site daily, and I'm not an uncritical Bernie Sanders enthusiast. Yet I have to conclude that you treat him unfairly, despite your denials. You spent about half of your 2/24, 2/26/20, and 2/28 posts damning him with faint praise, beating him up, and advising Democrats how to defeat him, just before the Super Tuesday elections. You haven't done this, certainly not to the same extent, with any other serious Democratic candidates, despite their own shortcomings and questions about their electability.

Why don't you simply state that you oppose the nomination of Sanders and give your reasons? It's not a criminal offense and would be more forthright.
G.A., Berkeley, CA

Q: Once again you wrote about Bernie Sanders and omitted facts so to make him appear as bad as possible. You wrote extensively on what an electoral map of Sanders vs. Trump would look like, and you decried how the election will be close if he is the nominee. Yet, you omitted the fact that Sanders is out performing all of the other Democratic nominees in terms of head to head polling against Trump. I.F., Lakeland, FL

A: We don't want this week's Q&A to devolve into a bunch of arguing about Bernie Sanders, but since we ran several lengthy pieces this week on the Senator, we do feel we have to answer at least a few of these sorts of questions.

Anyhow, these two questions are both making the same two errors. To address the first, we are going to deploy one of our favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes, which we have most certainly referenced before: "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." Here, Holmes is expressing one of the core tenets of any investigation: One should collect information, and then try to figure out what it means. One should not start with the argument, and then shoehorn the data into it.

This is the exact approach we take when writing for this site. We look at the day's/week's/month's news, and try to figure out what the connecting threads are, and what it all means. We also have the benefit of a vast amount of feedback from readers of all political stripes, which also informs our analysis. What we do not do, on the other hand, is start out with a theory or opinion we would like to put out there, and then pick and choose the evidence that matches our theory/opinion. That is advocacy, and runs counter to both the ethos of our profession and the mission of this site.

To take the lengthy Sanders-related items we wrote this week as examples, we were seeing a lot of "Bernie's base is out of control" articles (many of which we linked), and a lot of "Will America elect a socialist?" articles. We also got a lot of questions along these lines. And so, for multiple weeks, (Z) turned those questions over in his head, thinking about exactly what role these things might play in a Sanders presidential campaign, whether there were any historical analogues that might be instructive, and what choices were available to the candidate. The articles we ran were the product of that thought process. What we most certainly did not do was start with a question like "What are some good reasons that people should not vote for Bernie Sanders?" That's not what we do. And to repeat something that's come up a few times in recent mailbags, we most certainly do not claim to be bias-free since, as much as we might try, nobody can truly be bias free. However, to the extent that our biases show, it would be in how we react to and understand the evidence, and not in trying to persuade people to vote for one candidate over another.

So, the first error that you both make is that you are misunderstanding our process, and switching the order in which the cart (the evidence) and the horse (the underlying argument) come together. The second is your assumption/assertion that all candidates should get equal coverage. That is neither necessary nor appropriate, and we do not in any way claim to adhere to that standard. The reason that Sanders got so much attention from us in the last two weeks is that he is now the frontrunner. The question of how well he matches up against Donald Trump is vastly more significant right now than, for example, how well Tom Steyer or Pete Buttigieg match up against Trump. It is also untrue that nobody else has gotten this treatment. When Joe Biden was the clear frontrunner, we wrote enough pieces about his debate fumbling, and his "take it easy on me because I tire easily" campaign schedule, and his tendency to use Barack Obama as noun, verb, and adjective, and his weak fundraising, that we got many e-mails wondering why we had it in for Joe Biden. If someone else were to pull ahead of the pack (Mike Bloomberg?) we'd write a bunch of items about that person, including a careful examination of their weaknesses.

Q: On Friday, you wrote about the Stock Market volatility likely surrounding COVID-19. You note that volatility could prove to be problematic for Trump's re-election bid. Can you unpack that a little? It seems to me that the majority of his base would hear the term "stock market" and assume it meant an auction where a rancher can acquire cattle. (Sorry, cheap shot, I know, but it was too on-point to let pass.) M.W., St. Paul, MN

A: There are two, interrelated issues. The first is that in the United States, people tend to use the Dow Jones and the unemployment rate as quick and easy ways of taking the temperature of the economy and deciding how it's doing. We are actually skeptical that these figures tell the whole story (or most of it, even), but that doesn't mean that people don't use them in this way. And so, if the Dow Jones goes into a semi-tailspin, or a major tailspin, it will undermine Trump's argument that he knows what he's doing, that he's brought prosperity back to America, that the trade wars make sense, and so forth.

Second, a shaky Dow becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because people tend to take it as a sign of bad times ahead. And so, many of them decide that they don't really need to hire a new employee, or buy a new car, or take a vacation, or whatever. And that generates an actual slowdown in the economy that reverberates across the country. It usually takes a while for this phenomenon to manifest in a way that people actually feel it, anywhere from 6-18 months. With the presidential election about 9 months away, it's at least possible that an unusually rapid slowdown could be palpable by Election Day.

Q: With the outbreak of COVID-19 seeming increasingly likely/certain here in the United States, I am beginning to envision a terrible scenario in which Trump grants himself broad emergency powers under the pretext of protecting the public health, and then uses them to essentially make himself dictator by (among other things) cancelling the November election. Given the loyalty of his base, the fear that an outbreak would generate among the public, and the superficial appearance that protecting the public health is a valid justification for all of this, I don't see that resistance to these actions would be robust enough to stop him from doing it, especially given that Trump is essentially immune from impeachment at this point. What are your thoughts on such a scenario? C.S., Meridian, ID

Q: Looking ahead, suppose COVID-19 does whatever it does between now and November. Suppose "The government" chose to "head off a much worse return of the outbreak" by sending teams of "health checkers" to polling places. It strikes me as a powerful way to "Keep in the vote." Could it fly? S.A.J., Long Branch, NJ

A: The closest the U.S. has ever come to canceling a presidential election is in 1864, during the Civil War. However, Abraham Lincoln put an end to such talk. There was also some whispering about canceling the election of 1944, during World War II, but Roosevelt cut that off at the pass. Point is, it's not impossible that something like this could happen with a president who is less committed to the Constitution than Lincoln and FDR were.

That said, we just don't believe it's possible. Trump can't do it by himself; he'd need military force backing his play, and we don't believe the armed forces would be willing to be a part of this. Further, he would need the support of Republicans in positions of power, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). It is true that these folks have been willing to look the other way a lot, including during the impeachment. But they surely realize that the power they have derives from the Constitution, and if that document is torn to bits, their power goes away. They also realize that, at such point that Trump assumed dictatorial or near-dictatorial power, he would not need them anymore, and would cast them aside.

There's also the problem of open rebellion on the part of 20 or 30 million citizens (or more). The number of active duty troops in the armed forces is about 1.2 million. Assuming that all of those folks could be recalled to the United States and that all of them were willing to participate in such an overt power grab, it's not so easy to assert control over a group of people ten times as large, spread out over thousands of miles.

We don't doubt that, in his darkest moments, Trump entertains the occasional fantasy along these lines. But he surely realizes that it's just not feasible, no matter how enthusiastic and angry his base is, and that if he tries it he'll likely end up in prison.

Q: In your item on COVID-19, you mentioned how Donald Trump's primary concern, above all else, is his re-election campaign. It seems to shape everything he does in his Presidency, and of course, we've known that since approximately November 9, 2016. To me, it begs the question that so many left-leaning folks feel an existential dread about asking: What would a second term look like? What will the true north of his governing compass be? Would he actually further push the envelope of authoritarianism and cult-of-personality, and try to set the 22nd amendment on fire? Or would he no longer hold rallies, and actually start to mellow out and act like a "normal" President? P.S., Marion, IA

A: While we are unwilling to accept the dark scenarios outlined in the previous questions, we also can't get behind the "silver lining" scenario you propose here.

Even if Trump is reelected, and even if he fully intends to abide by term limits, he still has three motivations that will encourage him to keep pushing the envelope. The first is that he needs "wins" in the way that an addict needs another hit, or another drink, or another snort. He rarely seems like a happy person, and even on those occasions where he does get his "fix," it seems only to satiate him for a day or two, at most. The second, meanwhile, is that he needs to punish his enemies. He's never been able to let a slight pass, and that won't change if he's reelected. The third is that even if he does not pursue a term of "life in office," he very clearly hopes to get a dynasty going, and to hand the office off to one of his kids. For these three reasons, we just can't believe reelection will produce a kinder, gentler Trump. And that's before we talk about possible mental deterioration that could make him more erratic and more prone to fits of temper than he already is.

Q: You wrote that Corey Brettschneider makes an excellent case that the president may not be able to pardon co-conspirators in impeachable offenses. You also noted that the Constitution has generally been understood as limiting the presidential pardon in cases of "those who have been impeached, or are about to be impeached." If so, wouldn't the pardon of Richard Nixon have been invalid, or was the House not that far along in the process? S.C., New Castle, DE

A: The House was very far along in the process, with the House Judiciary Committee having already adopted articles of impeachment.

We would say there are two reasons that this issue never came up in Nixon's case. The first is that the crimes he was most likely to be prosecuted for, and that he was pardoned for, weren't necessarily the crimes he was going to be impeached for. Specifically, he was going to be impeached over the Watergate coverup, but he was much more likely to be prosecuted for financial crimes, like political slush funds and shadiness on his tax returns. So, it's possible that even if Brettschneider is correct, the pardon of Nixon was legal.

The second reason that Brettschneider's point didn't come up in the 1970s, to the extent that it was relevant, was that nobody pressed the matter. The pardon that Ford granted was pretty broad and pretty vague, and might well have been read to include at least some things that were impeachable offenses. However, most Americans bought the argument that the nation had gone through enough turmoil, and that with Nixon being compelled to resign, justice had been done. So, nobody was particularly inclined to put the screws to Tricky Dick, even if they might have done so.

Q: You mentioned that Franklin Delano Roosevelt might be considered a proponent of democratic socialism. Are there other well known examples of politicians or activists that could be described this way? What about someone like Martin Luther King Jr.? Are there well known examples among other world leaders? S.K., Minneapolis, MN

A: With the caveat that terms like this are a little squishy, at least in part because politicians want them to be squishy, we would say that King is an excellent example. And yes, there are certainly others. In the U.S., even if we exclude politicians, the list includes Jane Addams, Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, A. Philip Randolph, and Woody Guthrie. Looking abroad, Mahatma Gandhi could certainly be called a democratic socialist. Many (perhaps most) Labour PMs of the UK, most obviously Clement Attlee. Many (perhaps most) PMs of Israel, most obviously David Ben-Gurion. Current President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador and current PM of Canada Justin Trudeau. Just about everyone who has led a Scandinavian country in the last half century. Again, it's not an uncommon perspective, it's just that there's only one nation that was totally enmeshed in fighting the Russians during the Cold War, and thus only one nation whose citizens were exposed to relentless propaganda about the evils of socialism.

Q: I would like to think that, as you say in an article today, I can be counted as one of the "regular readers of this site are in the 90th percentile in terms of how well informed they are about politics." But I'm also apparently one of those that doesn't exactly understand the "socialist" vs. "democratic socialist" difference, and would appreciate if you could provide some additional clarity, with your trademark acerbic wit and wisdom! A.L., Santa Cruz, CA

A: Please be clear that we could write a 50-page essay on this subject. And then, we could submit that essay to the editor of a volume on the subject, for inclusion alongside 10 other 50-page essays on the subject. And even then, you could be one of the four people who actually read the whole book and still not have a crystal-clear understanding. Such is the nature of terms like these, that have existed for a century or more, and have been appropriated and re-appropriated, and interpreted and re-interpreted, by millions of people.

That said, socialism is a philosophy whose end goal is equality among all members of the body politic, through whatever means needed to attain that equality (often, total government control of everything). Democratic socialism (which is generally interchangeable, these days, with the very similar term "social democracy") strives for equality among all members of the body politic, but within the constraints of both a democratic government and a healthy capitalist system.

Medicare for All is a pretty good exemplar of the goals (and the limits) of democratic socialism. If the program is adopted, in its current form, the government would take over the health insurance business, and private insurers would effectively be out of business. The goal would be to give every single American access to good quality healthcare, thus creating equality among all members of the body politic. However, the U.S. government would not own all hospitals/medical offices, nor would it employ the doctors/nurses/etc., nor would it be in the business of constructing medical equipment. All of those things would remain private; they'd just send the bills to Uncle Sam. By contrast, in a fully socialist system (say, Soviet-era Russia), all aspects of the system would be public, in the same way that fire departments and police departments are. Maybe an analogy will help. If your house is on fire, you can call the fire department and they will come and try to put out the fire and you won't get a bill later. In socialism, if you are sick, you can go to a doctor or hospital and be treated and you won't get a bill later. Medical care is paid out of tax revenues, just as fire care and police care are.

Q: If the predictions about the Super Tuesday delegate spread come to fruition, won't it be next to impossible for any of the candidates to receive a majority of the delegates to the convention in July? A.E., Albany, NY

A: Mathematically speaking? Definitely not. As of this writing, there are 3,878 delegates remaining. 54 will be awarded today, and another 1,343 will be awarded on Super Tuesday. That leaves 2,481 delegates, more than enough to claim the nomination, even if someone has zero on March 4.

Practically speaking? Still "no." If Fivethirtyeight's projections are right, then Bernie Sanders would exit Super Tuesday with about 650 delegates. He would thus need about 1,340 of the 2,481 remaining delegates, or about 54%. That's certainly doable. A non-Sanders candidate would, presumably, need to claim about 70% of the remaining delegates, which is a much tougher climb, but is still plausible.

Q: My question concerns Donald Trump's lawsuit against The New York Times. Since the truth is an absolute defense against a libel case, it seems like the Trump campaign has opened itself up for some very unpleasant discovery, especially given the business of the defendant. The Times' political reporters must be pinching themselves to verify that they're not dreaming. Picture Jared Kushner being deposed about trying to establish a secret communication channel with Moscow, or Trump himself having to answer questions about why he doesn't allow anyone to listen to his conversations with Putin. I actually think that, if he tried to withdraw the suit, the Times would oppose the motion. As low as my expectations of Trump are, I do not believe that this escaped him. So, what is he playing at? Is there some payoff for him that would justify the cost? C.C., Hancock, NH

A: The obvious reasons he might have done this are (1) To give the Fox Newses and Breitbarts of the world a story to write about, so the base can see how fake the "fake news" is and that the president is fighting back, and (2) To intimidate smaller outlets into thinking twice before criticizing him. We would suggest that this second goal is particularly foolish, since there's virtually no chance of losing, and being sued by the President would generate all sorts of the kind of publicity that money can't buy. Which reminds us: Did we mention that we have credible information that, after meeting to discuss the overthrow of the United States government, Vlad Putin, Kim Kardashian, and Trump planned to commence a three-way extramarital affair, but were unable to because the Donald's "hands" were too small? Just wanted to make sure we got that out there.

Anyhow, you're right that the discovery process in this suit would be brutal for the Trumps, as would the actual court testimony. You can't exactly ignore subpoenas in your own lawsuit, now can you? Surely, this suit will quickly and quietly be withdrawn.

Q: This week, Thomas Friedman wrote a very interesting op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Dems, You Can Defeat Trump in a Landslide." What he argues is that the Democratic frontrunner (currently Bernie Sanders) should commit to giving prominent jobs in his administration to the other Democratic candidates: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) as VP, Mike Bloomberg as Sec. of the Treasury, Joe Biden as Sec. of State, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as Sec. of HHS, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as AG, and so forth.

If egos could be put aside and the individuals mentioned in the op-ed would agree to participate (I know, those are big Ifs!), do you think this strategy could have a realistic chance of actually working? If I recall correctly, Lincoln did have a cabinet of rivals.
S.A., Austin, TX

A: We've been skeptical of Friedman's recent pontificating, as it often seems a little sloppy these days. For example, it is very unlikely that Warren would accept a cabinet post, since that would put her Senate seat in at least a little bit of danger at a time when the Democrats have no margin for error.

With that said, we will point out two things. The first is that not only did Lincoln do this, it was a fairly common technique in the 19th century for unifying the factions of a party behind one presidential candidate. The second is that this really hasn't been used as a campaign technique in a long time, but there's no reason it couldn't return. Nobody was nominated by a convention until Andrew Jackson arranged to be, with success. Then, all parties did it. Nobody used radio as a campaign tool until FDR did it successfully. Then, all presidential candidates did it. Nobody used "big data" until Barack Obama. Then, all presidential candidates did it. If someone pre-names their Cabinet this year, and wins the election, then everyone will do the same from here on out, and it will seem entirely natural.

Q: Is anyone out there doing polling on hypothetical 1-on-1 matchups between Trump and the leading Democratic candidates? Particularly in battleground states. I would expect this to be the best way for Democrats to choose their candidate. D.C., Washington, D.C.

Q: When I cast my primary vote on Super Tuesday, how do I go about deciding which Democrat is best-positioned to beat Trump? What predictive factors should I be looking at to help me make this decision? Any reasoned predictions on Electoral College outcomes in November as to each of the Democratic candidates? Any reasoned predictions on how each candidate might impact other national and state elections in November? What else should I be thinking about? Can you provide me with some structured analysis as to how I might go about making my decision? As I write this, I am simply confused. C.S., Stockton, CA

A: In answer to the first question, yes. Many pollsters are asking about hypothetical Trump vs. X matchups, on both a national and state level. In answer to the second question, there's a lot of campaign left to go, obviously. And so, guessing who is best-positioned to beat Trump is like guessing whether it will rain in Boston on Sept. 15. That said, if you're looking to put things on as dispassionate and data-driven a basis as is possible, we would suggest looking at the three states that are shaping up to be the keys to the election: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. In each case, we are going to average the last five polls of the state. Here's how the leading Democrats are polling against Trump in those places, head to head:

Candidate WI PA NC
Joe Biden Biden +0.8 Biden +3.8 Biden +3.8
Bernie Sanders Sanders +0.2 Sanders +2.6 Sanders +1.0
Elizabeth Warren Trump +2.4 Warren +1.2 Trump +0.4
Pete Buttigieg Trump +2.2 Buttigieg +0.8 Trump +2.4
Amy Klobuchar Trump +4.8 Klobuchar +1.2 N/A
Mike Bloomberg Trump +4.5 Bloomberg +1.5 N/A

Nobody polls for Tom Steyer's or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's (D-HI) support and, as you can see, North Carolina pollsters tend to ask about a shorter list of candidates than pollsters in other states.

Anyhow, there are only two candidates who are beating Trump in all three of the key states at this moment. Both of those men are very well known, as is Trump, so the odds are pretty good that those numbers reflect the fundamentals of the respective states. This (admittedly crude) analysis suggests you should feel ok about voting for either Biden or Sanders; whomever you like best. And if you are entirely agnostic between the two, then Biden appears to be in a slightly stronger position than Sanders.

Q: Admittedly off topic for politics, but you touched on this: Do you really think Derek Shelton will win the National League Manager of the Year award if the Pittsburgh Pirates improve their win total to 80 this year from last season's 69? Yes, that would be a big improvement, but it would still be a losing record (80-82, assuming all games are played). A quick check of shows that a manager has never won the Manager of the Year award with a losing record for the season in which they won. If the Pirates can get to 85 wins, Shelton would have a chance, but I do not see it happening with a win total more than a couple games lower than that.

Perhaps it is because I have been a Pirates' fan since Willie Stargell was handing out stars to his teammates to put on their caps, but it does seem you often pick on the Pirates (and other Pittsburgh teams). Is there a reason for this? Yes, the Pirates have had a rough time for much of the past 40 years, but they still share 7th place for the most World Series won, in spite of playing in one of the smallest markets in Major League Baseball.
M.E., Greenbelt, MD

A: It's not off topic for politics if there's a useful analogy to be had. And we would suggest there's another one here, beyond our original "sometimes the winner is the person who most overperforms their expectations" analogy. The new analogy is that there are a lot of numbers out there, and only in retrospect is it clear which ones were the "right" ones.

You are correct that it's hard to win the award during a losing season (though it has actually happened once; Joe Girardi was so awarded after leading the Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record in 2006). On the other hand, there have been 74 Manager of the Year awards handed out, and 59 of them went to managers who oversaw an improvement of at least 10 games over the previous season. Given how entrenched the best NL teams are this year, we think it is likely that any team that posts a 10-win improvement will be the only NL team that posts a 10-win improvement. So, in that case, which past statistic would be the instructive one? That only 1 in 74 Managers of the Year had a losing record, or that 59 in 74 were the manager that oversaw a 10-game improvement? Who knows?

And when it comes to politics, there are even more numbers than there are in baseball. So, it's even harder to decide which ones are the instructive ones. That means you should be wary of the inevitable wave of "nobody has ever won an election under X circumstance" articles that we see in every election year, because a lot of those are going to be wrong.

As to the Pittsburgh sports references, it's easier to have one city's teams to refer to, than to have to pick a new one every time. A friend of the blog, and occasional source of useful advice, is a big Pittsburgh sports fan. So was (Z)'s grandfather. So it's a tip of the cap to them, not unlike Carol Burnett's ear tug.

Follow-Up: Last week, we wrote that the longest-serving federal judge currently in service, and the last remaining LBJ appointee, is Jack B. Weinstein. As it turns out, he retired to inactive senior status on Feb. 10 of this year. That means the longest-tenured judge who is still hearing (some) cases is Alfred Goodwin, who was appointed by Richard Nixon on December 11, 1969, and has thus been on the bench for a little over 50 years.

One last note: We get a fair number of "behind the scenes" questions about us, how we make this site, etc. We pretty much always leave those questions unanswered, because we don't want the site to be about us. Next week, however, we are going to suspend that policy for one week. If you have a question along those lines, please send it in (even if you've submitted it previously; there are many thousands of e-mails in the "questions" inbox). We don't want to answer questions about who we're voting for, or anything like that; we're thinking the kind of stuff that you would see in "behind the music" or "the making of" or "inside the Actors' Studio" documentaries.

If you have a question about politics, civics, history, etc. you would like us to answer on the site, please send it to, and include your initials and city of residence. If you have a comment about the site or one of the items therein, please send it to and include your initials and city of residence in case we decide to publish it. If you spot any typos or other errors on the site that we should fix, please let us know at
Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb28 Coronavirus Gives Trump Administration a Headache
Feb28 Prepare for Another Trump 2020 Photo-op
Feb28 A Candidate Like No Other, Part II: Bernie Sanders, Socialist
Feb28 Polls Have South Carolina Results All Over the Map
Feb28 Today's Ratfu**ing News
Feb28 Buttigieg Is Still Your Winner in Iowa
Feb28 Trump May Not Be Able to Pardon Stone
Feb27 Takeaways from the South Carolina Debate
Feb27 Clyburn Endorses Biden
Feb27 Poll: Biden Has a Huge Lead over Sanders in South Carolina
Feb27 Schumer and Pelosi Would Be Comfortable with Sanders as Nominee
Feb27 Five Thirty Eight's Super Tuesday Predictions
Feb27 He Hasn't Been Here
Feb27 Are Primaries Being Done Wrong?
Feb27 Schumer Meets with Bullock
Feb27 Trump Asks for the Wrong Recusals
Feb27 Court Rules that Trump Can Withhold Money from "Sanctuary Cities"
Feb27 Trump Campaign Sues the New York Times
Feb26 Democrats Do the Charleston
Feb26 A Candidate Like No Other, Part I: Bernie Sanders' Base
Feb25 Trump Administration Fears Coronavirus
Feb25 Nevada Results Are Final...
Feb25 ...And Now It's South Carolina's Turn
Feb25 But First, a Debate
Feb25 Sanders Gives Florida Democrats Conniptions
Feb25 The Hill Closes the Henhouse After the Fox Already Had His Way
Feb24 Takeaways from the Nevada Caucuses
Feb24 How Did Sanders Do It?
Feb24 Never-Trump Republicans Are in Full-Blown Panic Mode
Feb24 New National Poll Has Sanders on Top
Feb24 Downballot Democrats Move to Distance Themselves from Sanders
Feb24 How Democrats Can Manage a Brokered Convention
Feb24 Caucus States Aren't the Only Ones with Complicated Rules
Feb24 National Security Adviser: Russians Aren't Trying to Help Trump
Feb24 Steyer Will Be on Stage Tomorrow
Feb23 Nevada Has Spoken
Feb23 Sunday Mailbag
Feb22 It's the Silver State's Time to Shine
Feb22 Russians Are Trying to Help Sanders, Too
Feb22 Saturday Q&A
Feb21 Russians Are Back for Another Go-Round
Feb21 Takeaways from the Debate
Feb21 Bloomberg Isn't the Anti-Trump Juggernaut He Seems to Be
Feb21 Warren Raises Almost $3 Million on Debate Night
Feb21 Wisconsin May Be the Democrats' Toughest Hill to Climb
Feb21 What about Arizona and North Carolina?
Feb21 Unicorn Sighted Far in the Distance
Feb21 Stone Wins
Feb21 Republicans Will Spend Millions to Fight Democrats' Lawsuits about Voting
Feb20 It May Have Been Paris, But Nobody Surrendered