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      •  Trump Team Begins to Lay Out Its Case
      •  Sunday Mailbag

Trump Team Begins to Lay Out Its Case

Donald Trump's defense team began its defense of the President on Saturday, speaking to the Senate for a little less than two hours. Although they are clearly saving a lot of ammunition for later, what we heard was enough to confirm existing suspicions about where this is headed.

Under normal circumstances, a defendant who looks as guilty as Trump does would almost certainly strike a plea deal. After all, a court trial is very much an exercise in risk management, and if there's a 90% chance of a 20-year sentence, then an offer of a 4-year sentence is a bargain. But this impeachment, of course, is not a normal trial. You have a defendant who never admits any fault or blame, and a non-neutral jury whose votes are basically predictable. There's also no obvious "plea bargain" option (Trump gets to stay in office, but he has to give up the nuclear codes?). Anyhow, what this means is that the President's lawyers are trying a case where they really don't have much of a case, leaving them primarily with sophistry and shenanigans.

There were three main themes on Saturday:

  • Trump's Not a James Bond Villain, So He Must Be Innocent: That's not how the President's lawyers put it, of course, but this is a pretty good encapsulation of what they are arguing. Nearly everyone, whether they've seen a Bond film/read a Bond novel or not, knows that Bond villains have a propensity for laying out their entire scheme to Bond, in great detail, once they believe he's incapacitated and about to die. Of course, he always escapes, and at that point he knows everything.

    Donald Trump is pretty ham-fisted, but he's not that ham-fisted. He has skirted the law enough times in the past that he knows, at very least, to speak a little bit indirectly. And that is what his defense team is seizing upon, namely that to find the President guilty, it's necessary to make guesses about what he thought, felt, and intended. It's true, he never used the word "extort." However, he came awfully close during the phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, and we've now been provided with ample supplementary evidence that allows us to infer his state of mind. We might get even more, except that Trump has blocked folks from testifying (hence the obstruction of Congress charge). It is also true that this is the sort of inference that courts and juries make, with confidence, all the time, because defendants never leave behind iron-clad proof evidence of guilt (or, if they do, they plead out). Just because Trump was not as obvious as a Bond villain is, ultimately, not much of a defense.

  • But the Democrats: The primary target of Saturday's commentary was actually...Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and his sarcastic rendering of the President's call with Zelensky. There is little question that Schiff blundered with that stunt, if only because it provided meat for Trump (and now his lawyers) to seize upon. There is no question that the vast majority of Americans can recognize the difference between "serious" and "sarcastic," and that pretending otherwise is disingenuous. And there is absolutely no question that whatever Schiff may have said or done, it has no relevance to the original (alleged) abuse of power, or the subsequent (alleged) obstruction of Congress. Hillary Clinton and the Biden family, who will be making their appearances on Monday, are equally red herrings.

  • Trump's a Great President and a Great Friend to Ukraine: To the extent that there were any curveballs in the defense case, this was it. They argued that Trump has done more for Ukraine than Barack Obama did, so there clearly couldn't have been any shenanigans here. It is likely this presages an effort by Trump's attorneys to shoehorn in as much as they can about the economy, approval ratings, etc. As to the specific claim that Trump was a great friend to Ukraine, that may or may not be true, but it's clear that his "friendly feelings" shifted dramatically the moment that Joe Biden announced his presidential bid. As to the broader claims about Trump's presidential record, they are both dubious and entirely irrelevant. You know what they call a nice guy who's also a criminal? A criminal. Similarly, Trump could be a blend of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Frankin D. Roosevelt, with a bit of Jesus, Buddha, Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Einstein, Gandhi, and Harriet Tubman thrown in for good measure, and that's not a defense.

The upshot is that, as is to be expected due to the kind of person he is, the kind of lawyers he's using, and the circumstances he finds himself in, Trump's defense is going to be smoke and mirrors. It's understandable, because sometimes smoke and mirrors is all you've got. Just don't be fooled that it's anything else, even if it is presented in very formal circumstances, and dressed up with a lot of legalese and table-pounding. Anyhow, they start up again on Monday. (Z)

Sunday Mailbag

As we've pointed out once or twice before, the letter that produced more responses to "Ann Landers" than any other was one about...whether toilet paper should be fed "over" or "under." For us, no letter has ever generated more responses than...the one that had four responses in last week's Q&A, and now has another seven at the end of this post.

The Decline and Fall?

V & Z: You wrote:

If electoral irregularities make it impossible to identify the winner of the 2020 election, this would not allow Donald Trump to stay in office. His first term ends on Jan. 20, 2021, and if he wants a second one, the only way is to be elected to it. If neither he, nor anyone else, has been chosen by the Electoral College, then the presidency would devolve upon the vice-president-elect. If the vice-president-elect has likewise not qualified, then the presidency would devolve upon the Speaker of the House of Representatives until the matter was resolved.

In my opinion, this analysis from one major flaw: it assumes everyone is going to follow the rules. However, rules do not have an independent existence—they are only the result of a shared consensus. If everyone, or enough people, with the power to enforce them decide not to, then there are no rules anymore. Trump has already proven he is willing to declare new realities out of thin air that are in clear contradiction of the rules, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and essentially 100% of Republicans in Congress have proven they are willing to back those up if they keep Republicans in power. We have also already seen that a slightly less right-wing variant of the Roberts Supreme Court was willing to rule that, if a presidential election is in dispute, then the proper thing to do is to stop counting the votes and declare the Republican candidate the victor.

This is how dictatorships form. There is no concrete objective barrier preventing the phase change—just the agreement of those in power to follow the rules...or to make up their own new "rules." You go to sleep on a Tuesday night imagining you live in a democracy, and you wake up Wednesday morning to discover that nobody can agree what happened in the election, and it stays that way for many weeks with no solution visible on the horizon, so Trump declares that he must remain in power until they can "figure out what's going on," and he has 40% of the population supporting him who did not want democracy anyway if it meant a Democrat might ever win an election. Pelosi can disagree, but Trump is the one holding the reins of power at that point, and if the Senate and Supreme Court concur, then that will be that. The icing on the cake is that if enough states' electoral outcomes are in disarray, the Republicans can claim the new Congress is not legitimate either, because it is not knowable who exactly has been duly elected to it, so the House cannot elect a Speaker.

Moreover, if Vladimir Putin is pulling the strings of electoral interference, remember that he has implemented this kind of outcome successfully already once before. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia supposedly became a democracy—until one day everyone woke up to discover it wasn't. K.C., Portland, OR

Impeachment Thoughts

V & Z: The "no quid pro quo" defense relies on Ukraine not knowing about the aid being withheld. Of course Ukraine knew about the aid; it is absurd to suggest that the desperately needed aid of hundreds of millions of dollars had been promised months earlier and that the entire Ukraine government had failed to notice they received no aid. So why didn't Ukraine say anything to senior U.S. officials until the Politico article exposed the hold on the aid? It may be difficult or impossible to prove, but it is certainly plausible the Rudy Giuliani had told the Ukrainian officials about the quid pro quo and that they better not complain about the hold on the aid or there would be consequences.

I was not able to keep watching the coverage this morning when Jay Sekulow started impugning the honor of thousands of federal workers in the intelligence services by suggesting that Trump was reasonable to pursue the investigations of the Bidens and Burisma, sidestepping the U.S. intelligence services. I was too angry to continue watching. G.W., Oxnard, CA

V & Z: The President's defense team might as well summon Chewbacca as a witness. S.K. Sunnyvale, CA

Note: Well, he is a smuggler, after all. And he has had dealings with the Hutts. And he's never really explained how he (and Han) made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. And there are those rumors that he set his son Lumpawaroo up with a cherry gig in the Trade Federation. We think there's a lot to be explored here. That said, if it does not make sense: for Chewbacca to live on Endor, the senators will have no choice but to acquit.

V & Z: I'm surprised that none of the coverage of Saturday's mini-session of the impeachment trial has noted what seems to be obvious to me—that it was scheduled largely to cut into the time that Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Klobuchar (DFL-MN) could spend campaigning in Iowa that day. Rather than flying overnight and hitting the ground at daybreak, they'll be lucky to get in any appearances before dinnertime. K.H., Ypsilanti, MI

V & Z: You wrote: "style often matters more than substance." Truer words were never spoken. Impeachment seems to be headed toward a ho-hum fizzle because federal officials, including the Chief Justice, seem to be incapable of focusing seriously on anything for more than 48 hours. And the president, who knows to his core the power of style over substance, will now sail off into the Super Bowl weekend "exonerated," when no such thing actually occurred.

The evidence was overwhelmingly against Trump, presented in thorough and powerful ways through story arc, pictures (very important to "jurors" with short attention spans), and eloquence at certain points. But then Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) went against The Great Communicator's rule of thumb: don't get too graphic, too vivid, too harsh...keep within certain parameters of acceptable criticism...or risk it all with an over-the-top metaphor of heads on pikes, having no concrete evidence that it was ever an explicit threat. The average American doesn't always get metaphor, and they'll nail you to the wall (see!) for trying to use one so vivid. Of course there have been all kinds of implicit threats (being "primaried" the most effective). Schiff tripped up early in the process with his supposedly humorous paraphrasing of Trump's "perfect" phone call. He should never have expected to slip subtlety by these Philistines... M.B., Pittsboro, NC

V & Z: I just want to thank you for your answer to the question about Ronald Reagan being a great speaker. I completely agree and have always felt this way. As a communicator he was, In a sense, Donald Trump's predecessor. D.K., Oceanside, CA

V & Z: Regarding paying for Trump's defense there is a booth set up at the roadside in front of our local Post Office with a large sign "Defend Trump." I assume they are taking donations to support their favorite "billionaire." J.R., Sarasota, FL

V & Z: I find it difficult to understand what the Democrats hope to accomplish by trying to introduce additional witness testimony. Every senator already knows all the facts about the Ukraine phone call. Arguments on whether a specific law was violated would no doubt be helpful, but as in any trial with a jury, the law is not the only thing that matters. A regular jury can exercise jury nullification to refuse to convict a guilty man due to the belief the law is unjust or inappropriate. Senators in a trial would likewise have the same option.

The facts are known and a crime may have been committed, but it remains to be decided whether this crime was sufficiently serious. That decision is not a matter of facts, but of values - values which differ between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats above all see a man whose values differ from theirs and do not care much what the crime is; it is merely an excuse to assert their values by punishing nonconformity. The Republicans may or may not see a crime, depending on the arguments in the trial. Those that do will see run-of-the-mill corruption. An unsavory matter, to be sure, but rendered less important by being so ubiquitous. The Bidens, after all, were also corrupt and where is justice there?

Your argument that the trial is meant to convince swing voters is also unconvincing. You are obviously biased because you run a site for political junkies. Normal people just don't care. An informal poll among my friends and family reveals that none of them care. They have all heard of the impeachment, of course, but none have bothered to watch the proceedings, or the ongoing trial arguments, or even to learn any details about the charges. I have not watched either, being informed only by reading your site or other summary news articles. There does not seem to be any point, since the arguments contain only the ever more vociferous reiteration of the facts and opinions about them. I doubt there is anybody out there whose opinion on the matter would change by watching. The question on what is good or bad is a question of values, and values don't change so easily. M.S., Annapolis, MD

V & Z: I'm fuming that Nadler lost it on Wednesday. I look forward to Chief Justice Roberts scolding only Trump's counsel, but that can only happen if the House managers stay remarkably cool.

It'd be cool if Senators were evicted from the jury for using social media (via smart watches) during the trial. Similarly, I cannot imagine a civil or criminal trial allowing jury members to take bathroom breaks during the proceedings. Why are they allowed here?. T.B., Tallahassee, FL

V & Z: I now live in Maine. I think you need to take Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) more seriously. When she boldly states that she is beginning to think that she might be not unlikely to consider the notion of a motion that would allow a debate about the possibility of voting on whether to call witnesses in a very important trial, she probably means it and she won't back down even if she changes her mind again. B.C., Damariscotta, ME

V & Z: When looking back on this era of politics, the most significant event will be the Republicons in the Article I branch allowing the Article II branch to completely stonewall all requests for testimony, documents and records in its oversight role as delineated in the Constitution. We have had episodes of extreme partisanship in the past, but none have allowed this degree of complicity between the branches of the US government when it comes to the oversight function. Everyone understands that the majority gets to control the investigatory function of Congress. Need I say Benghazi? One could argue that nine hearings contributed to the downfall of Hillary Clinton. However, when the oversight function fails, the Constitution fails. In the past, institutional pride has prevented the complete abdication of responsibility of the Article I branch to be separate from the Executive branch. I am not sure why the Republicons are being so short sighted at this time, allowing this to happen and accepting the complete lack of cooperation. Previously, everyone understood that the shoe could soon be on the other foot and that seemed to be enough. I fear the Constitution is in real jeopardy now. A.B., Chesapeake, VA

Note: We have an item on this very subject planned for this week.

The Dershowitz Conundrum

V & Z: I am not sure if you are aware of how political science professor Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University after a high-profile intervention by...Alan Dershowitz.

Finkelstein was a leading scholar of Israeli human rights violations. Trump is a leading apologist for the current Israel regime. Join the dots. P.M., Grahamstown, South Africa

V & Z: Regarding Alan Dershowitz's evolving opinions on impeachment, and his assertion that the Trump impeachment is not justified, you wrote: "Will the alleged 'liberal Democrat' Dershowitz ... still feel this way once a Democrat is back in the White House? Hmm..."

This question, and really your whole discussion about Dershowitz here, seems odd considering Dershowitz opposed Clinton's impeachment. If your argument is easily experimentally falsifiable, maybe run the experiment. E.C.H., Sunnyvale, CA

Note: That passage was a little clunky, because we lumped together Republicans and Dershowitz, who have different agendas, we think. To be clear, our view of Dershowitz is that he's a master of getting publicity, not unlike his current employer. How many other law professors are nationally famous? And what he does, cloaking himself in his identities as "a law professor" and "a guy who just calls balls and strikes" and "a liberal Democrat" is take whatever position will get him on talk shows, in newspapers, etc.

Dying Not-so-young

V & Z: Dovetailing the question: from J.F. from Boulder, CO on presidential mortality—I've always thought it noteworthy that Lyndon B. Johnson died two days after what would have been the end of his second term had he run and been re-elected. Is it not reasonable to assume that the known stresses of the job (including Vietnam) would have likely done him in sooner? J.R., Westminster, CO

Note: Probably so, though it's worth noting that after leaving office, LBJ fell into a depression and also stopped taking care of himself (gaining weight, resuming a long-abandoned smoking habit, etc.). It's at least possible he would have survived a second term, though his heart muscle was in such bad shape, he wouldn't have lasted long if he did survive it.

And Speaking of Johnson...

V & Z: Kudos for pointing out that the "small penis rule" can also be applied to women. F.L., Denton, TX

V & Z: You wrote: "Of course, there's not much that newspaper types value more than tradition (except perhaps whiskey)..." I'd recommend protecting yourself against lawsuits for slander by amending the phrase to "newspaper types with small penises..." K.S., Harrisburg, PA

Studies Show That People Who Don't Like Snark Have Small Penises

V & Z: Listing the advantages of proposed Trump presidential library site Briny Breezes, you wrote: "it's not at all fire-prone, so there would be little risk of books being burned before they've been colored in."

You're wrong. They will never be in danger of being colored in; all the crayons will have been eaten. D.C., Los Angeles, CA

V & Z: Your droll little joke about presidential coloring books reached at least 11 on the 1-10 witticism scale. Please keep this up (if for no other reason than it consistently gives me material to email to family members). Thank you. J.B., Aarhus, Denmark

V & Z: "The real estate there would be affordable, because Briny Breezes is...a trailer park. Insert redneck joke here." Thank you. You certainly made my day with this! P.S., Lanoka Harbor, NJ

V & Z: I get that it's hard, but you guys need to try to get a little less sarcastic/snarky regarding your posts. I'm not suggesting you only write in a fact based, neutral manner; that would be impossible. But try not to be so sarcastic. It detracts from your message. S.H., Clifton, VA

Note: Sorry about the subhead, but sometimes when the pins are set up like that, we just have to knock them down. Anyhow, we try to operate on the philosophy that "a little snark goes a long way," and not to overdo it. Undoubtedly, we're not always successful.

In Defense of the Caucus

V & Z: In many items, you seem to express a clear preference for the primary elections opposed to the caucuses, which are allegedly complicated, ask the attendees to spent too much time, force people to engage in political discussions that give some advantages to political junkies/militant, etc. In my opinion (maybe from an European point of view, but it seems that Iowans, generally speaking, are on the same page), spending a few hours with fellow citizens talking about candidates, politics and policies, sharing and discussing different point of view, could make the individual choice more conscious that the one made all alone watching debates on tv or answering to robocalls. Democracy dies not only in the darkness but also in the loneliness. L.Q., Bari, Italy

Note: Well put, especially the last sentence. For the record, we have no particular preference between caucuses and primaries. The only opinion we've consistently advanced is that caucuses are very difficult to poll.

Readers Endorse Endorsements

V & Z: Although I'd agree that we have plenty of information about presidential candidates, I find my local papers' endorsements for lower offices to be critical in my decision making. It's actually pretty difficult to find accurate, unbiased information about city council candidates, school board candidates, district attorneys, district judges, and even state representatives. K.R., Austin, TX

V & Z: In your piece about ending newspaper endorsements of political candidates, you seem to conflate presidential candidates with all other political candidates. For national-level races, as you point out, "people have access to all kinds of information about their would-be leaders." But for city council, school board, municipal ballot questions, and other local races, the situation has not changed that much from what you described for the post-Civil War era when endorsements first emerged, when "voters had limited exposure to politicians and their ideas, and there was little (or no) newspaper space devoted to political analysis." Whether it would be incongruous for newspapers to endorse local races while remaining silent on the most prominent ones is a separate issue, but newspaper endorsements remain helpful as a voter guide for races not covered by the national press. M.H., Boston, MA

V & Z: I recently read the piece where you said that the original need for newspaper endorsements no longer exists. And I strongly disagree with that. You might be able to make a case for the positions at the top of the ballot like president, senator, etc. But, for the down-ballot offices, they remain very useful to the voter.

I live in Cook County, Illinois and, on our ballot, there must be a hundred different offices that we vote on. Besides president, senator, etc., we have a long list of judges—as well as many local offices, some of them very obscure like the Commissioners of the Water Reclamation District. Nobody knows all of these candidates or even what they all do in their jobs. But the local newspapers do a good job of interviewing and assessing their qualifications. I don't depend solely on the newspaper endorsements, but the endorsements are a great public service and a valuable tool to help me vote for a qualified individual. J.L., Chicago, IL

V & Z: I'd like to respond to your comment on newspaper endorsements. While I agree they have little impact on marquee races like President, Governor, or Senator, I still find them invaluable for races like state representative, district judge, city council, school board, and the like. So I, for one, would hate to see them go away. While I don't always support the recommended candidate, the paper usually gives a good analysis of each of the contenders which really helps me in making an informed choice. L.S., Greensboro, NC

V & Z: I still rely on endorsements in local newspapers for guidance in local elections. When it comes to these more local elections, there is much less information out there about candidates and ballot questions. Endorsements can be very helpful here. Often come election time, there's a long list of state AGs and board of education members, and a primary between two state legislative candidates of the same political party. Or, by law, the position is non-partisan and I don't know which partisan leanings the candidates have. Or, I've never heard of any of the candidates. I might have to make a dozen choices. Some papers will have long list endorsements for all positions in a region. The Stranger does this for Seattle area, and I used to rely on it heavily. Even if not necessarily using it to vote in agreement with their endorsement board en masse, it gives useful guidance. J.H., Richland, WA

Seven Words...

V & Z: The word "chink" is a pejorative and should not be used in any context, even one as innocuous as this. It is a triggering word and people should not have to read it. T.V., Chicago, IL

V & Z: While I absolutely have the utmost contempt for Senator McConnell, it's unwise to use the expression 'chink in the armor' twice about a person who's married to a Chinese-American. (Even if she is corrupt and self-dealing like her boss.) In 2012 an ESPN editor was fired for using that phrase when referring to poor team performance of the basketball player Jeremy Lin. H.F., Pittsburgh, PA

Note: (Z), who wrote that piece, was once a student of the famed linguist Robert Stockwell. And he took the view, which Z absorbed, that words that have both a neutral meaning and a bigoted meaning should continue to be used, so as to avoid giving more power to the bigoted meaning. Also, in the Lin situation, the ESPN headline was a clear frat-boy joke aimed at Lin himself. We don't think that there's any plausible reading of our words that suggests we were targeting Elaine Chao.

Some Feel the Bern, Others Feel Berned

V & Z: I'm trepidatious about stirring up this particular hornet's nest but I can't help but notice that a good portion of the Pro-Bernie Sanders letters depicted him as the "Biggest Victim in All History." Two prime examples being "How could you not mention a single thing about the brutal unfair treatment Bernie Sanders got from CNN" and "That's always the 'mainstream' view of reality: minority factions get dismissed because of the more extreme members."

Oh, poor Bernie! If only CNN,, Hillary Clinton, the DNC, Barack Obama, et al., ad infinitum, would just lay off persecuting poor Bernie the world would be such a better place. There seems to be another prominent politician who is also claiming unfair systematic persecution often from the same cast of characters. Now what was his name? Oh yes, Donald Trump! Who knew that Bernie and the Donald are the most persecuted individuals on the face of the planet? Of course, I'm being sarcastic but if I find the trait in Trump annoying, the act is equally getting weary with Bernie and his Bros. If they get their fee-fees so trampled from a modest swipe from Warren, how in God's name are they going to survive the general election and potentially 4 years as president when the GOP rage machine will be going 24-7, 365 days a year?

This all becomes extra significant when you consider the non-impeachment news of the day. Sanders had to apologize to Biden for some of his overzealous supporters who claimed Biden was awash in corruption. This is also a disturbing trait the Vermont Senator that he shares with Trump, the willingness to muddle facts and then blame his surrogates for the misinterpretation. My political beliefs, depending on the topic, range from center left to extremely progressive. In 2016, my vote was available for Sanders, except I didn't like how rabid, vindictive and downright nasty some of his supporters were online. For me, there was little difference separating a Bernie Bro and a MAGA Hatter. For what it's worth, my advice to Senator Sanders and his supporters: lay off the Martyr routine and try not to be so belligerent to those who still might vote for you (i.e. you could try winning over voters instead of alienating them). D.E., Lilitz, PA

V & Z: I was intrigued by the following comment from a strongly pro-Sanders reader: "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.'"

The phrase "identity politics" is being used here pejoratively, as it almost always is. Though the writer doesn't specify, s/he is almost surely using it to describe a focus on marginalized groups: African Americans, women, Asian Americans, gays and lesbians, and so on.

I'd just like to point out that "straight white men" is an identity group, too. We don't necessarily see it because we tend to think of "straight white men" as the default, but it's an identity group. I'd also like to point out that Sanders did extremely well with straight white men in 2016. Nothing wrong with that, but we should recognize that even Sanders benefits from "identity politics." S.C., Poughkeepsie, NY

V & Z: I was going to get to let this pass, but it hasn't been mentioned by anyone and it needs to be said.

At the now-infamous "meeting" with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders had a conflict of interest. He intended to run for president. Warren is both a woman and a rival. It was not in his interest for Warren to run. He probably said some platitudes that might be defended as reasonable about women and presidential politics in general. Warren took it as his telling HER that she could not win, and, by extension, that she shouldn't run. How could she not? Ask a few women. We've been there.

I recall that the pundits were surprised that Warren got into the race "early;" she announced the formation of an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018, presumably days after this "meeting." It had all the earmarks of a hastily arranged, but cutesy introduction on a slow news day—she and her husband walking their dog near their home. Just my speculation—she recognized after the "meeting" that she had to get out there fast before Bernie so she could carve out her own lane. M.S., Scarsdale, NY

A Rose By Any Other Name?

V & Z: Regarding the habit Republicans and their supporters have developed of calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat Party" with clearly pejorative intent, wouldn't the appropriate response be to start calling the other party the "Monarchist Party"? It would be more grammatical and would have the added virtue of being accurate. A.H., Monterey, MA

V & Z: I use the name "Retrogressives." It starts with 'R" and indicates the direction they want to take the country. Of late, I have also been using the designation "Greedy Old Pretzels," because of the way they twist their alternate facts into unbelievable contortions. S.S., Columbia, SC

V & Z: "Re-pub-lick" with emphasis on the "lick." S.C., Atlanta, GA

V & Z: I've used the term "Foxrepublican" since the Iraq war for Republicans. To me it's fit throughout that time, today more than ever. D.D., Hollywood, FL

V & Z: I think "Repugnican Party" says it best. J.C., Swampscott, MA

V & Z: How about a different approach: An easily understood word, already well used, that can be drawn out of Republican, that also describes them for what they are, which is throwbacks to a previous age, and skewing old to boot:

The letters R-E-L-I-C-S are in larger letters and 
colored red, so as to create, obviously, RELICS

It would fit easily into speech, it would make an easily understood bumper sticker, its meaning would quickly sink in, and it would piss the hell out of them. M.F., Oakton, VA

V & Z: There is no need for childish names like "RepubliCONS" and "Repugs." What is needed is a name that accurately characterizes what the former GOP has become. Fortunately, the name is at hand: "Trumpublican." Except in rare instances that is what I call people who run with an (R) or vote that way. It's "Trumpublican," folks. D.A., Brooklyn, NY

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan25 Democrats Conclude their Case
Jan25 Saturday Q&A
Jan24 And the Beat Goes On
Jan24 Next Week, Trump Will Try to Change the Narrative...
Jan24 ...This Week, on the Other Hand
Jan24 Who Are the Vulnerable GOP Senators?
Jan23 Democrats Begin to Lay out Their Case
Jan23 Democrats Nix Witness Trade
Jan23 Poll: Slight Majority Wants to See Trump Removed from Office
Jan23 Poll: Sanders Moves into the Lead Nationally
Jan23 Clinton Walks Back Comment about Sanders
Jan23 Gabbard Sues Clinton
Jan23 Time to End Newspaper Endorsements?
Jan22 You Win Some, You Lose Some
Jan22 Clinton Slams Sanders
Jan22 SCOTUS Won't Hear Obamacare Case Until Next Year
Jan22 Under the Radar, Part I: A New Travel Ban
Jan22 Under the Radar, Part II: Andrew Peek
Jan22 Boy, Trump Really Is Unpopular
Jan21 McConnell Finally Reveals Impeachment Rules
Jan21 Emoluments? What Emoluments?
Jan21 About Trump's Popularity with Republicans...
Jan21 ...Which Leaves No Room for a "NeverTrump" Challenger
Jan21 And Then There's Trump's Popularity with Black Voters
Jan21 Biden Doing Well in Iowa
Jan21 Where Will the Trump Presidential Library Be?
Jan20 Battle over Impeachment Trial Witnesses Heats Up
Jan20 Trump Has His Defense Team
Jan20 Klobuchar and Yang Supporters May Be Kingmakers in Iowa
Jan20 White College-Educated Democrats Can't Make Up Their Minds
Jan20 New York Times Makes Double Endorsement
Jan20 Jayapal Endorses Sanders
Jan20 Supreme Court Meets the Electoral College
Jan19 Sunday Mailbag
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