Needed 1990
Biden 0
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Gabbard 0
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Warren 0
Yang 0
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Jayapal Endorses Sanders for President
Inside Trump’s Impeachment Strategy
Senators Must Keep Quiet During Trial
Dershowitz Says Abuse of Power Not Impeachable
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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

Not too many comments about impeachment this week, though that will presumably change. The most popular subject this week, by far, was a fellow from a state known for its ice cream.

How About "RepubliCONs?"

V & Z: Regarding the question yesterday about the use of "Democrat party": that has annoyed me for ages. It occurred to me that the best response from anyone (including the media, who should not let this go unchastized) who hears Republicans using "Democrat party" would be to simply respond with something like, "I know nothing of the Democrat Party, however, if you wish to talk about the Democratic Party, I'm happy to [discuss, engage, etc.]." Push back hard, in other words. K.W., Providence, RI

Note: Some media members do push back, including a few right-leaning folks, like Chris Matthews.

V & Z: I don't want this to sound like petty name-calling and I certainly don't want to advocate or contribute to such behavior, but I feel rebranding is justified as we are clearly no longer dealing with the Republican Party of which my grandfather was a proud member. I've taken to using the terms "Trumpocrat" and "Trumpocratic Party." The shoe fits since, as you have pointed out, the Republican Party is now "a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization." Please use these terms wisely.

I avoid the pejorative and don't try to "own the Publicans." I think the Party changed gradually (analogies to frogs in warming pots of water). I use the terms to hold a mirror to folks who've gone along with the Party's change without noticing the distinction, so I might introduce a crack or two of cognitive dissonance that can grow over time. That's my goal, at least. I still know and love good people on both sides. The day we stop reaching across the aisle is the day our democracy dies. Patientia comes est sapientiae—Patience is the companion of wisdom. M.H., Seattle, WA

V & Z: With regard to Saturday's comment and discussion on the right wing using the term "Democrat" (emphasis on the final syllable) as a pejorative term, I have taken to referring to Republicans in short hand as "Repugs." Admittedly, the term is a little awkward to pronounce, but I do so enjoy the echo of the word "Repugnant" when I say it out loud. And it gets easier to say with practice.

I know this is childish backlash, but mom, they started it! B.B., Newtown, PA

V & Z: I cannot let your comments regarding nouns used as modifiers pass uncommented. It is one of the regular features of English to use nouns attributively, as it is called. For example, "water meter," "Rayburn building," The Lyndon Johnson Story (the title of an actual instant book published in spring of 1964, less than 6 months after he became president). Contrast French teacher (teacher of the language) with French teacher (a teacher from France). This illustrates the fact that attributive nouns are generally emphasized over the nouns they modify, while ordinary adjectives are less emphasized than the noun.

Of course you don't use an attributive when there is already a corresponding adjective as there is with Democrat. And yes, it does feel pejorative. Maybe we should call the other party the "Repulsivan Party." M.B., Montreal, Canada

Debating the Debate

V & Z: You wrote: "How did the moderators do? They were solid. Wolf Blitzer is a pro, Abby Phillip was fine, and you would never have known that this was Des Moines Register reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel's first time on the big stage."

Did we watch the same debate? The framing of some of those questions was dreadful. Rolling Stone's coverage seemed to correspond better with what I saw on Tuesday. Their headline: "CNN's Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful: The 24-hour network combines a naked political hit with a cynical ploy for ratings." J.S., Portland, OR

Note: We will point out that the author of that piece, Matt Taibbi, is known for saying things in the most provocative way possible (he models himself after Hunter S. Thompson), and that he's also a well-known Bernie Sanders partisan.

V & Z: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave a very dismissive response to the question about the job losses in Des Moines that would likely occur as a result of his Medicare for All plan. How did that escape attention by the news media? None of the news coverage I've seen has addressed it, but it seems it could really hurt him in Iowa's largest city. It seems similar to Hillary Clinton's remark about putting coal miners out of work—both can be justified in terms of national policy, but seem tone deaf to the workers immediately affected. K.H., Ypsilanti, MI

Note: There are always bits and pieces that just don't fit into a debate wrap without making it disjointed. This is one of our notes that was left on the cutting room floor, as it were.

V & Z: I have not recently been watching the political debates, because they seem more like food fights than rational discussions of the issues. This was particularly true with the Clinton-Trump so-called debates. These were in sharp contrast to, for instance, the Kennedy-Nixon debates which I found much more civilized and which addressed the issues better. To this problem, I have a few suggestions to improve the intellectual character of the debates. One possibility would be to emulate the IQ-squared format in debates presented from time to time on PBS.

Another option would be to adopt the following procedure: First, the camera should be solely on the person during his/her turn to speak. The camera should not include the opponent, and, in fact, the opponent's microphone should be turned off while the person is speaking. This should prevent the opponent from interrupting the speaker and destroying any intellectual content the speaker is trying to convey. The opponent can then be given an opportunity to criticize when he/she gets his/her turn. This could reduce irrelevant distractions and allow full discussions of the issues and minimize the insults that have characterized the recent debates. K.R., Berkeley, CA

V & Z: It's no wonder someone like Donald Trump can get elected when all we got from the networks was lazy and juvenile "news" coverage of the debate. It was incredibly interesting with some good discussions on important issues and big ideas. I was impressed with all the candidates.

So naturally, all the "news" coverage since has been about the cat fight between Bernie and Elizabeth being blown into something much bigger than it was, and how only 6 white people remain on stage. Despite that still being the most diverse field in history with two women, one Jewish person, and one gay man left from the most diverse and impressive group of candidates ever. Compare that to the complete lack of Republican diversity 4 years ago and the lack of diversity they currently have in Congress next to Democrats.

Only one person can be the nominee, after all, and three of the top four will be making history! Plus we know the final ticket will also be historical with a woman and a person of color on it.

If only "journalists" would stop trying to create drama where there isn't any and give the race the thoughtful and in-depth coverage it deserves. (And yes, we're Democrats. Of course, it's going to be a diverse ticket with a woman and a person of color. We wouldn't dare not. Thankfully, we have a large bench of impressive VP candidates to balance the ticket of whomever the nominee is.)

I wonder what the "Housewives of Beverly Hills" thought? I'm sure CNN will tell me. Somewhere, Walter Cronkite cries. S.S., West Hollywood, CA

Note: C'mon. It's considerably more important to get Dog the Bounty Hunter's assessment.

Warren vs. Sanders, Part I

V & Z: I completely agree with your reading of the Warren-Sanders spat:

Our best that Sanders said something (maybe even something very reasonable) about the viability of female presidential candidates, and that Warren heard or remembered it in a more problematic form. That is to say, the truth is somewhere between the two versions of events.

I just can't see any signal of prevarication in the way each of them is behaving. Thanks for promoting a thoughtful approach to understanding what's happening rather than fanning the flames. L.O.R., San Francisco, CA

V & Z: You suggested that Bernie Sanders should have responded: "Abby, I didn't say it, and I certainly don't feel that way. That said, if I gave the Senator that impression in any way, then that is on me, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to her." Either Sanders said it and he is lying or, he did not and Warren is lying. The "feelings" of either one is irrelevant. N.T., Dallas, TX

Note: The feelings of the respective candidates may be irrelevant. The feelings of voters are not, at least for any candidate interested in getting elected.

V & Z: Another way Sanders could have managed it: "I really don't believe I used those actual words but I profusely apologize if something I said came out that way. I still believe that Secretary Clinton, despite my differences with her, would have been a far better president than Trump and the same is true of everyone on this stage." P.M., Grahamstown, South Africa

V & Z: It seems that Elizabeth Warren's takeaway was Bernie Sanders said women can't get elected. He (probably) never said that, and was no doubt only pointing out the inconvenient fact that, just like in most jobs in the U.S., women in politics have to work harder just to be even with men.

I like Warren, but she overreacted. Do you want another thin-skin in the White House?. M.C., Santa Clara, CA

V & Z: Your blind, neoliberal bias is what's wrong with the Democratic Party. Thanks for making us a minority party when we should represent the vast majority of Americans. In short, you're an idiot. J.H., Cleveland, OH

V & Z: I usually let slide the anti-Bernie Sanders bias your website has, mainly because it never really gets that bad, but your piece from after the debate was just taking it too far.

How could you not mention a single thing about the brutal unfair treatment Bernie Sanders got from CNN which, if done to any other candidate, would have been major news. His fiercest opponent was CNN at that debate.

Seriously, this website seems to be pro-neoliberalism and pro-identity politics, pushing the lies that "only moderate candidates can win" or that "candidates need to appeal to independents." Well, you know who does best with independents? Bernie Sanders. M.P., Colorado Springs, CO

V & Z: I think you guys are missing what I would call the "Real Story" with the great Sanders/Warren feud: the story developed tremendously fast, with all sides handed their scripts and playing along in unison with remarkable rapidity. I've spent a few hours a day working the reddit "politics" group, moderating down what looks an awful lot like hired shills pushing divisive lines (Warren is a snake, she's a known liar, etc.) targeted at what I gather is supposed to be a Bernie-dominated forum.

I also, by the way, see quite a few people like myself refusing to go off into the who-said-what weeds, arguing there are bigger issues at play. Contempt for CNN's management of the debate (and stage management of this controversy) is rampant.

You, on the other hand, are happy to go with the Bernie-so-sexist line, and will no doubt take the "Warren is a snake" guys at face value. That's always the "mainstream" view of reality: minority factions get dismissed because of the more extreme members, and the suspicion of folks like myself that they're hired guns (and perhaps people conned by the hired guns). After all, we do know that there are phony voices out there on the net these days. And we're allowed to talk about the foreign ones, but some domestic ones have been well-documented also (e.g. Hillary Clinton's Brockpuppets last primary season). J.M.B., Oakland, CA

Note: You're implying that there was a widespread Clinton-led effort where people were paid to engage in pro-Clinton trolling. We feel compelled to note that it was a pro-Clinton super PAC (and thus, by law, not under Clinton's control) and that this activity was a small part of their work, at most. Readers can see here for a good article on the subject.

V & Z: I think you read that debate totally wrong. I follow some forums and the Internet, and especially young people are tearing into Warren viciously everywhere I look. I will be interested to see what the polls say, but my gut tells me this was her John Edwards moment. True colors revealed, not a progressive but a selfish opportunist. J.M., Smithfield, NC

Warren vs. Sanders, Part II

V & Z: You wrote, now that the actual transcript of the Warren-Sanders post-debate exchange is available, that it was about the allegation that Sanders believed a woman could not become president. My reaction to the transcript was that it referred to the exchange during the debate when Warren said that she was the only candidate in the last 30 years who defeated a Republican opponent, and Sanders countered by saying that he defeated a Republican opponent in 1990 (30 years ago). In effect, Sanders was calling Warren a liar on national TV, and I would think this is at least as plausible an explanation for the post-debate exchange. M.G., Cambridge, MA

Note: Maybe you're right. It's also possible he thought they was talking about one issue, and she thought they were talking about another.

V & Z: The English language is a beautiful thing, but it can often be so imprecise. Two examples come to mind from the "Blunder of the Night" in your debate writeup. When I read your line: "Good to hear everyone is in agreement on that" I was unsure at whose feet you were putting the blunder, Warren or Sanders.' I could legitimately read it either way.

So, this is my take on the event: I took Warren to be saying that she was the first to beat an incumbent Republican since 1990. In other words in Warren's mind, Sanders beat the incumbent in 1990 and no one else has done it in the 30 years since then. Sanders' response came across as a bit of mansplaining and snappish to me, which is a horrible tack to take when you're defending yourself against charges of misogyny. I thought his tone was way too sharp and nasty for what should have been an easy-to-deflect comment. Frankly, I don't understand why he brought it up at all, because it also seems like something Trump and his overwhelming ego would do. Also, at the beginning of the clip on the question of what Sanders said about a woman being elected for the presidency, he did an odd movement of his mouth which came across as "grumpy old man." His answer didn't help dispel that impression.

On the other hand, in Sanders' defense, Warren wasn't as clear or accurate in her statement. I can see why Sanders jumped to his interpretation, just as I can't see the reason why he felt the need to defend himself so forcibly. Unless Sanders defeated that incumbent in a special election in January, it's really only been 29 full years. Also, given that Warren beat Scott Brown, who was not much of an incumbent by virtue of having been elected by a Special Election fluke and was not a good fit for Massachusetts, perhaps bragging about that is not much of a plus. Still, I think Sanders botched his response all around and I bet it will hurt him in the near future. I think it speaks to his nature that he shares with Trump that he doesn't let slights pass by easily. As we've learned from Trump, it's not a good trait for an effective politician to have. D.E., Lilitz, PA

V & Z: The election in 1990 was in November so that was 29 years and 2 months ago. Bottom line, Warren, not Sanders, was wrong. N.D., Matawan, NJ

V & Z: Hey geniuses, Election Day 1990 was less than 30 years ago, since it's only January of 2020. Warren can't do math and clearly nether can you. A.T., Olney, MD

Note: We got many e-mails like these. On Thursday, we ran an item in which we included a virtually identical usage, referring to a period of 139 years, 2 months as "140 years" and we got zero e-mails about it. Readers may reach their own conclusions as to what that means.

Mr. Balboa Isn't the Only Rocky Who's Worn out His Welcome

V & Z: In your response to J.C. in Lockport, IL, regarding whether Bernie Sanders actually had to formally join the Democratic party to gain the nomination, you made reference to a 2018 change to the DNC rules requiring a pledge to run and govern as a Democrat, and stated "The Party said this was not aimed at Sanders, but who are we kidding here?"

You could hardly be blamed for holding this opinion, since The Hill (whose piece on the rules change you linked to) and every other major news outlet reported the change as a swipe against Sanders. However, one small, partisan news outlet, UpriseRI, actually had a reporter, Lauren Niedel, on the scene at the extremely wonky proceedings of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee in Providence. She writes:

[T]he discussion centered on whether all candidates who ran as Democrats, even if they were fringe candidates and did not have a history of supporting democratic policies, should be allowed to run as a Democrat and win delegates. An example would be Rocky De La Fuenta [sic], who ran as a Democrat, and Green Party members who may consider a Democratic run. Bernie would be protected; but he still would have to sign off on what would be more restrictive guidelines to run as a Democrat in the primary. Previously, a candidate would be able to run and not have to sign a loyalty pledge until after they accrued delegates...

Sanders certainly has "a history of supporting democratic policies," and it's worth noting that there are plenty of situations, such as when tallying the size of their Senate caucus, where Democrats seem more than happy to include Sanders as one of their own, no questions asked. You hear them say there are 47 Democrats in the Senate. You never hear them emphasize that it's only 45 Democrats and two Independents who side with them.

As Niedel notes, the DNC rule change was actually aimed at people like perennial fringe candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, who had run in 2016 for the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, the Reform Party and his self-created American Delta party. Later that year, he ran for Senate in Florida as a Democrat, and the next year ran for Mayor of New York City as a Republican. In 2018, he ran for Senate in nine states simultaneously under a variety of party banners, and this year, I can find him on my California ballot seeking the Presidential nomination of the Democratic, Republican, and American Independent parties. No word on whether he's signed a loyalty pledge. S.A., Downey, CA

"Tolerable" Is Good Enough for McConnell

V & Z: In regard to today's question about Mitch McConnell's popularity in Kentucky, I do not currently live there, but I have family members who do. Based on this very small anecdotal sample, the "pork" is actually a strong argument for why he will coast to reelection. As personally unpopular as he might be, he's also viewed in the state as the one person who can "get things done" for Kentucky. So there may be a lot of nose-holding, but if the past is any indication, it won't seriously hurt him at the ballot box. His low popularity is something of a red herring. D.M., Northampton, MA


V & Z: A few comments about your recent pieces on the ERA. I think your insights about traditions are well considered and accurate. While there may be some speculation about what the "official" text of the Constitution says when someone asks for a copy from the Library of Congress, or what a publisher prints in a book, how the words are applied to any specific case in controversy is the special role of SCOTUS. At the risk of being overly pedantic, the Court's role evolved over the years after the Founding Parents wrote the text and signed their names to it, starting rather famously with Chief Justice John Marshall. Over the many years since, the Court has a long standing tradition of judicial restraint based on principles such as mootness, standing, ripeness. SCOTUS has consistently refused to issue "advisory opinions." How these principles and levels of restraint are actually applied on specific cases sort of changes and evolves, but I have no doubt that until there is an actual dispute that comes up, SCOTUS will not actually say if the text of the ERA is part of the U.S. Constitution as the 28th amendment. Someone will need an actual injury—to be denied a claimed constitutional right by law, and actually bring a lawsuit to seek redress—before SCOTUS would hear it. This was never an issue with the 27th amendment, because as far as I know, Congress generally complied with the pay restrictions, and no actual controversy has ever come up.

Naturally, getting an actual case in controversy under the ERA is a fairly easy thing to do (and I would expect it soon), but it needs to start in a U.S. District court (and perhaps several are consolidated), thence to appeals in the several circuits. It might get punted very quickly like Bush v Gore (the 11th circuit looked at the appeal for about 5 minutes, enough to count the pages and get it out the door to SCOTUS, something that particularly riled a certain RBG.)

It may indeed get far messier than you accurately describe beyond the issues of withdrawal of ratification, or the Congressionally stated time limit. SCOTUS might restrict their ruling to specifically those issues (essentially the meaning of Article V) but an actual case in controversy might hinge on the meaning of "on account of sex." Here in the 21st century, what does that mean? (OK, Boomer, you're showing your generational ignorance. There are multiple "sexes" now.) While the ERA is indeed rather laconic, so is the 2nd Amendment, and while controversial and much jurisprudence has been generated about it (including the reluctance of the court to say what a "reasonable restriction" is) we do indeed have a means of finding out what the law is. It...just...takes time. Kinda like...oh...making sausage. First, find some land, and grow a pig, now plant some corn... R.G., Seattle, WA

V & Z: Many people have pointed to the 27th Amendment as precedent for an amendment to be ratified after an extensive time period (202 years, in its case). However one of the big differences between the 27th Amendment and the ERA, one that doesn't seem to be getting a lot of notice, is that Congress did not set any time limit for ratifying the 27th, whereas they specifically did for the ERA. This would seem to undercut using the 27th Amendment as a pro-ERA precedent. B.F.E., Sierra Visa, AZ

Note: We've pointed this out a few times, but it's worth noting again.

Trying Impeachment

V & Z: Even if Pat Cipollone gets paid by Donald Trump out of his own pocket, I think the issue that was being raised in yesterday's question is that he already draws a salary for a full-time job. If he doesn't take some kind of leave of absence, I'd suggest it would be fraud to continue drawing a government salary while spending his time working another job and ignoring his existing one. D.C., San Francisco, CA

V & Z: One bombshell Lev Parnas dropped is that Donald Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, already named to be one of Trump's defense lawyers in the Senate trial, was in the knowledge-of-what-Giuliani-was-doing loop (even if disdainful of Giuliani's doings). Parnas provided documentation that Sekulow supported John Dowd serving as an attorney for Parnas, and Sekulow would not have supported the President's lawyer also working for a "nobody." These are ethical issues that may force Mr. Sekulow to withdraw as Trump's Senate trial lawyer. Though it's rather late to find a new lawyer! T.B., Tallahassee, FL

V & Z: I do wish, as you yourselves suggested, that Speaker Pelosi would have appointed Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) as an impeachment manager. (I emailed her and my representative to say so.) If nothing else, could it not be argued that (like it or not) independently-minded anti-Trump ex-Republican Libertarians should also have a place on a team that looks a lot like America?J.R., Westminster, CO

Billionaires' Corner

V & Z: Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer should team up and pay all the Florida felons' these fees and fines...They could run an ad on Super Bowl Sunday (this year's Super Bowl is in Miami) detailing this plan. What better way to stick it Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Plus, Florida will benefit from all the increased revenue. R.V., Pittsburgh, PA

V & Z: People spend money to go to the movies, theater, symphony, ballet, and/or opera and after only have memories. Also, people spend money on hobbies for enjoyment. Maybe Bloomberg is not a serious candidate and this is just an entertainment/hobby that he can afford. L.R., San Diego, CA

Picky, Picky, Picky

V & Z: I'm disappointed that in your list of perennial Presidential candidates, you didn't list Pat Paulsen. Springboro, OH

Note: We really wanted to do more with that subject, and to work in Paulsen's famous reply to every critical question he received (which you've now allowed us to do). It just didn't fit with the flow of the item.

Glad We Ran That

V & Z: I looked Akira Kurosawa up, and admit to having seen the first half (or some part, anyway) of Seven Samurai. I left the university theater, threw up on the sidewalk (in response to the violence I'd just witnessed), and walked back to my dorm room, perturbed, but otherwise quite well.

I first went to your link to the Rashomon effect, a phenomenon that is very interesting (and a principle I already understood, without knowing the term). T.B., Tallahassee, FL

Note: Something that (Z) sometimes points out to students is that if the same basic concept appears in multiple disciplines, that concept is probably worth taking particular note of. Filmmakers and other visual media folks call this the Rashomon Effect (or Rashomon Principle), as do some social scientists. Psychologists and those who study communications have developed the same basic idea, except they call it Lens Theory. Historians have it too, except under the heading "historical memory." Legal theorists have produced a whole body of work on unreliable witnesses. Literary critics have done the same, except with unreliable narrators. Anyhow, it certainly suggests there's something pretty substantive there.

Another Programmer Weighs In

V & Z: I am a computer programmer with a background in network security and so of course I completely agree with your position on voting machines, and have for decades. Recently, a colleague of mine whose has serious credentials in this area decided to actually do something about it. The result is VotingWorks. Here is an article about early results. B.J., Boston, MA

In Defense of Ranked-Choice Voting

V & Z:

You printed the following comment from J.G., Olympia, WA:

Representational democracy at its heart is about giving your power to another individual and letting that person use your power. By buying into the system, we are acknowledging that our power is being used, even if we voted against the person or didn't vote at all.

Ranked-choice voting is just a way of allowing people to distance themselves from what their political power is being used for.

I don't see how Ranked Choice Voting would yield those results. People need not rank all the candidates. They merely rank those whom they find acceptable, in their personal order of preference. S.P., Foster, RI

V & Z: I read with interest your assessment that ranked choice voting (RCV) would probably not be much of an improvement over the current presidential primary voting system. ("Ranked choice voting" actually encompasses many different vote-counting methods, for both single-winner and multi-winner elections, but I assume that here you're referring to the single-winner version commonly referred to as "instant-runoff voting.")

I agree that IRV would not help much for presidential primaries as currently configured, because state contests are not single-winner elections; they are designed to elect many delegates, assigned to multiple candidates in proportion to their vote share. The general election, on the other hand, chooses a single winner from each state (or, in a few cases, from each Congressional district), and IRV would be a big improvement over the first-past-the-post plurality system currently in use.

The fundamental problem with the primaries is that voters have limited ability to express their opinions about multiple candidates. For example, polls seem to indicate that Elizabeth Warren is widely viewed favorably by voters, but if she is not a voter's first choice, that voter has no way to say "But I like Warren, too." So I would like to suggest another alternative: Score Voting. In this method, voters can give every candidate a score within some range (e.g., 0-5), and scores from all ballots are totaled to produce a final score for each candidate. (The simplest example of this system is Approval Voting, where the only allowable scores are 0 or 1.) While no voting system is perfect, this system has some advantages that make it particularly well-suited to presidential primaries. To wit:

  • In a crowded field of candidates, voters can express their opinions about all the candidates instead of just naming a single favorite. Moreover, their opinions can be more nuanced than in a ranked choice voting scheme: a voter can say that they like some (or all) candidates a lot, some (or all) very little, some exactly the same, etc. This also means that when there are two ideologically similar candidates (e.g., Sanders and Warren), voters can choose to support them both rather than having to split their vote.

  • Since the outcome produces a score for every candidate rather than just a single winner, it retains the ability to award delegates proportional to the vote share.

I would be very curious to know how the 2016 Republican primary might have turned out if this system had been in use! J.C., Boulder, CO

Note: Us, too!

Republican Readers Weigh In

V & Z: As a reader since 2012, I loved it when polling was relevant, accurate, and greatly consolidated on your site. As a "never Trump" republican, I don't mind your focus on the "dog bites man" nature of trump lies. These leaps of logic, though, are far beyond anything but simply opinion to support your agenda.

Anyhow, if the multiple and varied official explanations are lies, then what is the truth? It's looking more and more like the truth is exactly what you think it is. In the last few days, The New York Times reported, and the Wall Street Journal seconded, that Trump was trying to curry favor with the Republican senators whose acquittal votes he needs, and who desire a harder line on Iran. In other words, domestic political considerations, rather than American national security, appear to have been his primary motivation. If so, it means that Trump abused his official powers in service of personal goals, in an effort to...extricate himself from a situation where he abused his official powers in service of personal goals. It also means that the 176 people aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 would be alive right now if not for Trump's willingness to put his own needs above everything else. In other words, their blood is on his hands.

There is way too much to indict Trump's actions to stoop to this level where "the blood is on his hands" when the Iranians shoot down their own civilian airliner. We can blame the Obama administration for our heightened response to embassy attacks and the drawdown in forces which led to the Iranian import in the region, right, so the blood is on his hands? Or the blood is on George W. Bush's hands for getting us into Iraq in the first place? Or the blood is on Bill Clinton's hands for not carrying out the mission to eliminate Bin Laden in 1998? Or George H. W. Bush for not following up to take Saddam out in the first gulf war? Or Ronald Reagan for Iran-Contra strengthening them, or Jimmy Carter for not sending the Shah back or his failed military response?

The odds of the Senate voting to convict trump were roughly 0% before this strike, and roughly 0% after this strike. I think you know this, but you've gotten into the liberal echo chamber territory where everything is blamed on Trump, regardless of the action. C.V., Coppell, TX

V & Z: Your bias has shown a lot more since Trump became president. I've visited your site for a decade or more, and while it's still useful for statistics, I wish your news items would cover more of the numerous good things Trump has done for our country, rather than focusing so heavily on the bogus impeachment trial.

Maybe it's just that Trump is so blunt. There is so much more corruption and dishonesty on the Democratic side, but they keep it covered up better--enough to even fool many otherwise intelligent people, like yourself. But can you not recognize all the great things Trump has done for the American people? K.J., Roanoke, VA

Note: If you believe the impeachment trial is bogus, we would respectfully submit that this might not be the right site for you. Can we show you something in a nice Breitbart?

And Yet, Not a Single Person Wrote in to Lament Cory Booker's Demise

V & Z: I greatly miss Marianne Williamson. She made it clear, it's important where you come from when asking Big Questions. She focused on the Diseases of Despair, which are only increasing and will eat our society unless bold action is taken. This tree falling should wake us all up. If we had to align 100% with the candidate we support, we'd be supporting nobody. She made a difference. M.C., Santa Clara, CA

V & Z: I think you are being hard on Marianne Williamson. Yes she comes off as a bit of a kook and is way too "woo" for the middle of the country. That said, she has a unique ability of being able to look at and identify underlying causes of our national woes. She (rightly IMHO) points out that many policy prescriptions address symptoms but never get at the underlying disease. Her case for reparations as a means of national healing is compelling.

Her views never made sense in a 30 second sound bite. When she has more time to speak, she starts to make sense. I direct listeners to her appearance on The Michael Steele Podcast. Steele is a former RNC Chairman and is no liberal. Yet they had a great conversation and, while he pushed back on some of her "more-out-there" ideas, they found many areas of agreement.

She was never a viable candidate and probably never intended to be one. But I do feel that she has an important message that, unfortunately, didn't get heard by enough ears. R.L., Alameda, CA

We Believe It's Called "Nerd Humor"

V & Z: So many bots are expected to meddle in the election that Iowa caucus hosts are being told to make everyone identify three fire hydrants and five crosswalks before letting them in. Boston, MA

Note: Our favorite CAPTCHA joke is the one based on Magritte's "The Treachery of Images."

V & Z: I don't mean to quibble, but I really think the "Trial of the Century" award goes to when we finally overthrew the Perseus Invasion and Emperor Zargnok VI was put on trial for crimes against Humanity in 2087. J.C., Muntinlupa City, Philippines

About that Electoral-Vote Outage...

V & Z: Maybe save "GopherGate" for any upcoming scandal which might occur here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? D.M., Minneapolis, MN

Note: We were planning to use Uffdagate, if the need ever arose.

V & Z: Those scheming Russian gophers! T.B., Tallahassee, FL

V & Z: Like many of your followers, I had a rough morning not only because I was not getting my EV fix, but was also worried for the future of the site in the event that you had been hacked. So I was relieved when you did come back on-line and said you weren't hacked...until I realized that is exactly what a hacker would claim. If we start seeing Stolichnaya ads we'll figure something is up. K.S., Harrisburg, PA

Note: Nyet! Er, we mean, that is not correct, comrade.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan18 Saturday Q&A
Jan17 Impeachment Day 1 Goes Badly for Trump
Jan17 Ukraine Launches Investigation
Jan17 It Turns Out that There Were Casualties from Iranian Attack, After All
Jan17 Iowa Could Have Many Winners
Jan17 What Bloomberg's Path Looks Like
Jan17 Collins' Approval Rating Sinks Below McConnell's
Jan17 Cheney Won't Run for Senate
Jan16 House Votes to Send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate
Jan16 Pelosi Names Seven Managers
Jan16 Senators Have Been Instructed to Pay Attention to the Trial
Jan16 The Voters Want to Hear from Bolton
Jan16 Democrats Will Send New Documents over to the Senate
Jan16 Trump Signs a Trade Deal
Jan16 More Details on Warren-Sanders Spat
Jan16 Congress Will Vote on Terminating the Border Emergency
Jan16 Voting Wars Continue in Wisconsin
Jan16 Virginia Passes the Equal Rights Amendment
Jan15 Democrats Disjoin in Des Moines
Jan15 Onward and Upward
Jan15 Senate Is Likely to Pass War Powers Resolution
Jan15 Trump to Divert another $7.2 Billion for Wall Construction
Jan15 Cook Says the Senate Is Now in Play
Jan15 Trump Getting Set to Reduce Water Protections
Jan14 Iran Plot Thickens
Jan14 Burisma Hacked by the Russians
Jan14 Get Ready for the Blue Mud to Fly
Jan14 Seventh Democratic Debate Is Tonight
Jan14 Baby, It's Cold Outside?
Jan14 Booker Is Out
Jan14 Chafee Is In
Jan13 Questions about Impeachment Still Linger
Jan13 House Could Add New Articles of Impeachment after Trial Begins
Jan13 Sanders Leads in New Iowa Poll
Jan13 Bernie Takes the Gloves Off
Jan13 Biden Has a Wide Lead among Black Voters
Jan13 Bloomberg Might Spend a Billion Dollars on the Election
Jan13 Election Systems Are More Vulnerable than Previously Believed
Jan13 Tree Falls in Forest; No One Hears It
Jan12 Sunday Mailbag
Jan11 Saturday Q&A
Jan10 Iran Drama Has Not Yet Subsided...
Jan10 ...Nor Has Impeachment Drama
Jan10 A Brokered Convention?
Jan10 The Hawk-Why? State
Jan10 Steyer Makes the Cut
Jan10 Trump Goes 0-for-2 This Week in New York Defamation Lawsuits
Jan10 Loeffler Takes Her Seat
Jan09 Trump Backs Down
Jan09 Progressive Groups Are All Taking Aim at Biden