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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

We have said it before, and we will presumably say it again, but sometimes it's a surprise which item—or which sentence—generates a very large response. See the second-to-last category for an example.

Mixed Relationships (Part II)

J.S. in Durham, NC, writes: In regards to the question about being partnered (in an intimate relationship) with someone who has very different political views: As a clinical social worker, and someone who has worked as a couples' counselor, I can tell you that while the ways suggested over several weeks for trying to persuade someone with a different political perspective were very smart and thoughtful, there are different issues at play when we are having these types of arguments with someone that we need and want to maintain a good relationship with.

I would start out by saying that the couple needs to have ground rules for these discussions: (1) speak respectfully; (2) no interrupting; (3) no name-calling (of the partner or of those whom you know they respect; (4) If any of these rules are broken in the context of a discussion there should be a hard stop to the conversation; and (5) have a pre-plan for a structured way to "make up" after any hard feelings.

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: As a single person, I can tell you that the very thought of a mixed political relationship is so intolerable to me that I have it right in my dating profile: if you do not share my views on social justice and civil rights, you should just slide left. I am interested to see the perspectives of those in mixed-political relationships, but I know it is not for would be a recipe for World War III.

I do have a limited number of friends who are of the opposite political persuasion as myself, including one trans woman (no, not Caitlyn Jenner), and I find in these situations it is simply best to avoid most, if not all, political discussion. Occasionally, with this particular person, she or I will aim a good-natured jab at the other, and we laugh about it (usually, I tell her she has absolutely every right to be wrong)!

E.H. in Washington, DC, writes: It can certainly work, and it gave me one of the most warm memories about my mom. While I was growing up, not much about politics was discussed with my sister and I. I suspect my parents wanted us to make our own decisions about politics as with most other things.

My dad was a Republican (when they were a party with ideas). Now I suspect he might bring himself to vote Republican because of the fear of what the Democrats' programs might be, but he never drank the conspiracy Kool-Aid.

The only vote I know my Mom cast was for Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy in 1960, and I think she regretted it years later.

In any case, on an Election Day phone call years ago, she signed off with "Well I have to go now and cancel out your Father's vote." I miss her.

J.O. in New York City, NY, writes: I got rid of my right-wing relationship who displayed a disturbing inability to discern truth from bulls**t. This is a necessary quality in life, and not simply to protect oneself and be able to function in modern society. You have to ask yourself, "do you want to be in a relationship with someone who is incapable of reason?"

M.G. in Chicago, IL, writes: When your significant other is a conservative....move on to a new relationship! The sex cannot be that good.

Mystery Manchin (and Confusing Sinema)

K.H. in Ypsilanti MI, writes: You seem to be overthinking Sen. Joe Machin's (D-WV) motives for upholding the filibuster and blocking H.R. 1 and H.R. 4. Most of his voters favor the GOP and Trump, and buy into their claims of voter fraud. More to the point, while they like many of Manchin's positions, they don't want to see Democrats running the country. So Manchin knows that supporting measures designed to boost Democratic prospects nationally would be toxic for him and would cost him the already-narrow margin he's fighting to hold onto. Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) could offer him the entire Smithfield operation wrapped up with a bow and it still wouldn't be enough pork to offset the loss of his seat.

D.E. in Houston, TX, writes: Don't be too hard on Joe Manchin. I think I understand what he is doing. Although Manchin says he won't vote for the For the People Act, he will vote for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Manchin is walking a tightrope here, as he represents one of the reddest states in the Union. By being against the For the People Act, he can somewhat placate the right wingers at home, and at the same time, not be criticized as badly for supporting the Voting Rights Act. Neither bill has a snowball's chance of passing a Republican obstructionist Senate, but in losing via the filibuster on the Voting Rights Act, Democrats (including Manchin) can then tie that albatross around the necks of every Republican running in 2022. It doesn't look good on the surface, but it is a very smart move by Manchin.

S.N. in Santa Clara, CA, writes: When Barack Obama was president, Congressional Republicans frequently voted for legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act even though they knew the bills would never become law. After the 2016 election, when they had the power to actually repeal the law, a small number of them changed their minds. Perhaps they realized there was a difference between grandstanding and governing. I wonder if Sen. Manchin didn't do something similar regarding election reform law. Perhaps he supported it when it couldn't pass, but withdrew his support when his vote actually meant something.

T.S. in Memphis, TN, writes: Maybe you forgot a couple of possibilities when it comes to Manchin?

  • He is a racist and doesn't want people of color to be able to vote.

  • In West Virginia, he doesn't need people of color to vote for him in order to win. Fairly short-sighted of him, if this is the case. If all the other states are able to pass legislation preventing people of color from voting, Manchin will always be in the minority in the Senate. Then he'd really need to go on a pork-free diet. Or, just make formal what's been informal for years—switch to the Republican party.

D.C. in Brentwood, CA, writes: I haven't heard anyone suggest yet what has been suggested numerous times to explain strange behaviors of Donald Trump: maybe someone's got compromising info on Manchin. That would explain his otherwise inexplicable opposition to H.R. 1.

L.F. in Edina, MN, writes: With all the analysis of "Why is Manchin doing this?" I wonder if we're not overlooking the simplest answer. He's old, and knows that when he is gone, he will be replaced by a Republican. Given tight senatorial races and the way the Electoral College is stacked, he may think that come 2025, the Democrats will thank him for allowing 41 senators to block some right-wing legislation.

J.W. in West Chester, PA, writes: I think it is very shortsighted for people to want to abolish the filibuster. Joe Manchin is 100% correct that the Democrats will reap what they sow. Remember blowing up the filibuster for judges? That then paved the way to do it for the Supreme Court. How did that work out for the Democrats? Now if they blow up the Senate rules to pass highly partisan legislation, they will regret it 10 times over when they are in the minority. I'm sorry, but if you can't get 10 people from the opposition to support your bill, then it has no business being a law. How about lawmakers actually focus on things they can agree upon, and then work together to find common solutions, instead of cramming pork upon pork upon pork into these bills? Thank you, Joe for having the sanity and wisdom to see this.

R.T. in Arlington, TX, writes: As I thought about Joe Manchin's behavior, I think I am seeing some light about what is going on in our national politics. It's checkers and chess. Both checkers and chess are played on the same game board. The two games operate on different levels of complexity and strategy. What is going on now is that one political party is playing checkers while the other party is playing chess at the same time on the same game board. Each player's moves make sense to them. Both players are confounded because they think the other player is playing the same game they are. Neither player's strategy is working because the other player is doing things that don't make sense for the rules of their game. An impartial observer just sees nonsense and chaos because one player is trying to capture a rook while the other tries to jump a pawn.

S.C.M. in Scottsdale, AZ, writes: I financially supported Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's (D-AZ) last campaign. I am also hardly a hard core lefty. I consider myself left of center and have had numerous arguments with my more liberal friends.

For a while, I understood Sinema's positions and tolerated her antics. She has always been a bit of a showboat. However, her "thumbs down" vote on the $15 minimum wage was unnecessary and politically unwise. Her position on the filibuster is both unwise and incoherent in my view. And the "ring thing," which was deliberate, makes no political sense at all.

Overall, she has been a big disappointment. It is unlikely she will be primaried from the left, but she is in real danger of getting voted out in 2024. If she really thinks she will prevail without progressive Democratic votes, she is very naive. Also Arizona is trending blue. Why she willingly becomes a tool for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as he pursues his make-Biden-fail agenda is totally mystifying to me.

Maybe she will come around and realize her mistakes, but I really doubt that is possible.

Gohmert Pyle

J.K. in Seoul, South Korea, writes: I must protest your failure to give Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) proper credit for his knowledge of science. He clearly demonstrated that he knows at least three scientific facts:

  1. Climate is changing
  2. The Moon orbits Earth
  3. Earth orbits the Sun

Based on the latter two, I suspect that he also knows that Earth is a sphere. Maybe even more importantly, the congressman publicly acknowledged his knowledge of these facts. I challenge you to find another Republican member of Congress with a comparable science knowledge and the courage to admit it.

Furthermore, Gohmert may well have good reasons for his question about changing Earth's orbit. Scientists have pointed out that the Sun's evolution will make life on Earth impossible within a mere billion years (not a terribly long time, just ask the gentlemen in the video you linked to) and have suggested adjusting Earth's orbit as a remedy. If we have to do this anyway, it seems not at all unreasonable to address climate change in the process. Can you prove that the congressman is not aware of this article? In fact, can we be certain that he did not mention the article during the hearing and that the Fake-News Liberal Socialist Corporate Email-Server-Operating Media did not hide that fact in their so-called reporting? I am not claiming anything, just asking questions.

Admittedly, I am not entirely certain why the congressman posed his question to Deputy Chief Eberlien. However, given the byzantine division of responsibilities between federal agencies, which you pointed out a number of times, it is not inconceivable that orbital engineering does indeed fall into her purview. Secrecy requirements may play a role as well, (e.g., the case of a bridge & tunnel authority in charge of dealing with aliens). So, Gohmert deserves the benefit of the doubt pending a thorough review of the responsibilities of the U.S. Forest Service.

J.A. in Austin, TX, writes: I can't believe I'm defending Louie Gohmert. This was not on my dance card.

I don't dispute that Gohmert is dumb. But I suspect that a lot of the criticism leveled against him regarding the particular questions that he asked is missing the point.

I don't believe he was endorsing moving the planet, or saying that the Forest Service would be responsible for such a task were it possible. I think we should start with the premise that the climate change denialism hangs on. They aren't actually denying that climate change is happening. In fact, their premise is that it happens all the time. Ice ages come and go, the planet wobbles on its orbit, solar activity increases and decreases, the solar system moves through interstellar dust clouds, etc. The denialism premise is that it is not man-made. If it isn't our responsibility, if it's normal, why should we do anything about it? I think the point he was (poorly) trying to make was along the lines of "Fighting climate change is ludicrous, because to do so would require moving the planet, something that is clearly not in the purview of the departments being funded to fight 'climate change,' much less something they are capable of doing."

Granted, this was said in a stupid fashion, so I believe the idea for this line of questioning may have originated from someone slightly more clever than him—say, an intern or junior staffer. Or a small dog. Or a stapler. The possibilities for that list are practically endless.

There are so many things that demonstrate that Gohmert is dumb. I don't think this is the evidence that people think it is.

D.K. in Gloucester, MA, writes: Just a nitpick with your claim that moving the Earth would require changing the gravitational constant of the universe. This is not the case. We actually could alter Earth's orbit by using a gravity tug. It would require launching lots of heavy satellites into orbit around the sun, then using a slingshot method to whip then past Earth. Every satellite or probe we've sent into the outer solar system has used the slingshot method around Earth or Venus in order to achieve enough speed to make it there, and every one of those probes has had a tiny effect on the orbit of the planet in question. But the effect is very small, so it would probably take millions of years to change Earth's orbit with our current technology. Still, technically feasible without changing the laws of the universe.

V & Z respond: Sure, if you want to take the easy way.

Complaints-about-the-Complaints Department

K.S. in Lockport, NY, writes: Regarding the comments from J.E. of West Hollywood that your terminology is biased against Republicans, and that they prefer "Protection of unborn fetuses" and "Family values and religious freedom":

  • Democrats protect the unborn more. There is a greater drop in abortions during Democratic administrations. This is obviously not due to legislation, but may have everything to do with better prenatal care, better care for the mother and child, and more access to child care—all of which makes fewer mothers believe abortion is the best option.

  • Family values? Not when Trumpers fly "No more bullsI*t" and "F**k Biden" flags in neighborhoods full of young children and near schools with thousands of students. Not when these flags are left unchallenged by others in the so called "family values" party.

  • Religious freedom? Next time a religious right "victim" whines about no prayer in school, ask who decides on the prayer. It won't be little Abdul or Golda or anyone praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Seems they are more in favor of a religious dictatorship than religious freedom.

C.T. in Cape Coral, FL, writes: I vehemently disagree with J.E. in West Hollywood portraying your website as partisan due to your description of GOP efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, and as being the work of "coastal elite[s]" and not consistent with those with "legitimate and sincerely held values."

White evangelicals voted between 74% and 81% (according to two 2020 voting booth exit polls) for a president, now former, who was a serial adulterer, and twice divorced. A website says he lied more than 30,000 times during his long, long, four years in office. All three of those violate the Ten Commandments.

Their Bible also says "judge not lest ye be judged," yet that same bully-in-chief displayed the most un-Christian behavior every day while in office as he insulted, ridiculed, judged, and denigrated Americans simply because they didn't bow down to his me-first kindergarten playground mentality.

Many Christians don't keep the Sabbath day holy, as evidenced by attendance at NFL games, automobile races, and countless other sporting contests held on Sundays. They don't only eat seafood with fins and scales as demonstrated by the popularity of shellfish in American grocery stores and restaurants. And wearing garments made of two different threads is very common these days. There are three more biblically-forbidden acts.

Yet reasoning people are supposed to believe them when they interpret carefully selected Biblical passages to justify their "legitimate," "sincerely held" actions opposing equal rights for, or justifying discrimination against, LGBTQ+ Americans? Discrimination in any form is wrong and is not a family value. You don't have to live on a coast, be elite, or lack sincerely held values to be struck by the inconsistency and hypocrisy demonstrated by those who claim religious freedom to justify their perceived right to discriminate, yet ignore many other Biblical laws.

Nor does being struck by or discussing these inconsistencies imply anyone is stupid, evil, or elite, on either side.

N.B. in Marathon, TX, writes: J.E. in West Hollywood opined that the correct framing of the conservative position on abortion is that of "protection of unborn fetuses." I would argue that fetuses have the same rights and protections that any person already born has. Those rights do not extend to requiring another person to use their body to keep one alive. Conservatives want to grant special rights to fetuses. The correct framing of the conservative position is that of forced pregnancy. I would add that many on the anti-choice side don't stop at protecting fetuses; they also want to make birth control and morning-after pills illegal.

K.B. in Hartford, CT, writes: You wrote, accurately in my view, that one of the GOP pillars is "allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people if they are so inclined." This apparently caused J.E. from West Hollywood to clutch their pearls and chastise you for framing the issue such that "only stupid or evil people could possibly disagree with you," insisting that such folks merely want "religious freedom" or believe in "family values" (for the right kind of families).

I am a 50-something gay man who has been told too many times that I am supposed to respect the religious views of those who don't respect me, my family, or even my right to exist. Why should LBGTQ+ people or our allies cater to the fragilities of those who want to bully us, legislatively and otherwise? By now, the majority of Americans recognize that such discrimination is wrong because of harm it works on fellow human beings. Why is invoking such harm defensible?

The sincerity of those holding anti-LGBTQ+ views based on their religion (or otherwise) no more serves as a defense than the sincerity of those who believed racial segregation was divinely ordained. No reasonable person would indulge racial bigotry gussied up as religious belief, but it is still acceptable in some quarters to dress LGBTQ+ bias as "family values" or "religious freedom." But your freedom to practice your religion does not give you the right to mistreat LGBTQ+ people in secular settings (at least not until SCOTUS potentially recognizes such a right later this month when it decides Fulton v. City of Philadelphia), any more than it gives you the right to mistreat people because of their skin color.

The spin J.E. wants is unwarranted, and I thank (V) and (Z) for calling it what is.

M.G. in Boulder, CO, writes: I read last week's letter from H.B. in Portland with particular interest because their interpretation of E-V's comments was so different from mine. I actually read the letter three times and felt that I eventually understood their point of view, though I still felt H.B. was misinterpreting.

H.B. wrote: "Your item 'Will We Ever Know?' marks at least the second time you've suggested that Black Lives Matter supporters would 'sack' the Capitol, the same way the insurrectionists did, should people on the left be upset with the results of a future election."

I think the point that E-V was making is that, had the insurrectionists been replaced by 500 BLM members, marching in neat lines, carrying signs, singing "We Shall Overcome," and carrying on the non-violent tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, among many others, the BLM marchers would have been met by an at least equal number of police officers ready to (unnecessarily) defend the Capitol. An overreaction.

Instead, a largely white mob, which had earlier displayed a gallows (not exactly a sign of peaceful intentions), shouting "Hang Pence," carrying the battle flag that has come to represent white supremacy, along with bear spray and other items to be used as weapons, was met by a brave but clearly insufficient force in need of reinforcements that were delayed for a reason as yet undetermined. A serious underreaction.

One important question is "Why did this happen?" Another is "Why do many of us believe that marchers who were likely to be and remain peaceful would be perceived as threatening and would be met with an outsized force, while a paramilitary mob would be perceived as non-threatening and be received by a clearly insufficient force?" (V) and (Z) are contrasting the two groups, not "promoting [a] false and damaging equivalency." It might have been useful to have used a different (non-BLM) group for one example, but what group?

I hope this makes sense as a reasonable interpretation and that H.B. continues to read and contribute to I look forward to hearing more from them.

IG(noble) Report

J.B. in Waukee, IA, writes: I think it's patently ridiculous to share an article on the Department of the Interior Inspector General's report that clears Trump of any wrongdoing, and to accept the findings, without mentioning that the current Inspector General was appointed by Donald Trump after he fired the previous Inspector General and that he was confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate by voice vote. At least the Reuters article that you linked mentioned the skepticism by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-CA) of the report. Somehow, I doubt this is the last we hear of this story.

M.M. in Leonardtown, MD, writes: While I typically enjoy your takes on the news of the day, I was disappointed in your extremely credulous reporting on the Interior IG report about Lafayette Square (LS). The report's main conclusion, that the park was cleared for the purpose of installing a barrier fence and was unrelated to the President's activities, is contradicted by multiple pieces of evidence, including from the report itself. The conclusion that the President's activities and movements were unrelated to the actions of U.S. Park Police (USPP) is simply not credible, and falls apart upon mere cursory examination.

Unfortunately, this is also a case of distraction from the larger issue. The combination of uncritical press coverage of the IG report and the President's shameless lying will cause many to think of this report as "...Completely and Totally exonerating me." It does not! Only the actions of the USPP were analyzed in this report; actions by the Secret Service, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Attorney General William Barr, Gen. Mark Milley, the President, and others were unexamined (Ivanka happening to have a Christian Bible in her purse, MPD using unauthorized gas, violence against foreign media, etc.). The big picture remains this: the President of the United States intentionally escalated racial tensions and encouraged state violence against its own citizens for [checks notes] engaging in legal First Amendment protest, caused by [double-checks notes] video of a white cop slow-motion murdering a black man, all for the purpose of [triple-checks notes] getting re-elected.

Legal Matters

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: Regarding the first two items in Tuesday's legal roundup:

  • I disagree with DOJ's position on the E. Jean Carroll suit (that is, I think the Second Circuit should and will affirm Judge Lewis Kaplan's ruling that Trump was not acting in his official capacity when he made the statements at issue). But it's not an unreasonable position to take. AG Merrick Garland may feel that the harm from insulating any defamatory speech by a federal official is less than the harm from allowing repeated litigation over the question of official vs. non-official pronouncements. This is just one case, and there's going to be a Second Circuit decision that will give guidance for future cases. Moreover, the Biden Administration values not letting political considerations appear to influence the DOJ. The appeal was already filed, and this is the reply brief to Carroll's opposition brief. DOJ may be willing just to let this play out.

  • Jeff McConney's testimony before the New York grand jury doesn't place Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in a dilemma between telling the truth and perjuring himself. Weisselberg is a subject or target of the investigation, so unless he's immunized, he never has to testify. The sole pressure on Weisselberg is the ever-present one that he'll be charged with a crime and confronted with the choice of flipping or doing serious time.

K.R. in Portland, OR, writes: This is regarding your discussion of "E. Jean Carroll, who claims that she was raped by Donald Trump." Many moons ago in journalism school, I learned that using "claims" as a verb in a news story implies that the speaker is lying or dissembling. Thus you did Carroll a disservice by employing that verb. If you want to convey that a statement is highly credible, "affirms" is the best choice. If it should be taken at face value, "asserts" is good. To indicate that it can go either way, use "maintains" or "states." You did use the term correctly when you noted Trump to be "claiming" Carroll to be untruthful, given that he lies as reflexively as he breathes.

Take This Job and Shove It

M.W. in Richmond, VA, writes: Your item suggesting that unemployment compensation is not the reason people do not return to work completely validates my experience representing claimants as a legal aid attorney. Over the past 15 months, I have assisted over 260 such claimants, and in my 40+ years of such work never have witnessed the current levels of frustration and desperation.

Due to COVID-19, the Virginia unemployment compensation system has been totally overwhelmed. Since mid-March 2020, almost 1.7 million claims have been filed. Because the number of claims is 10 times greater than normal, phone lines are clogged. The online system is slow or does not work from time to time. Most offices are closed, with only a few open for limited service.

Against this backdrop, starting May 30, 2021, claimants have been required to do two work searches a week, a requirement previously waived during the pandemic. My experience has revealed many barriers to claimants returning to work, some of which you described.

Many claimants understandably but mistakenly believe that returning to work will end their claim for unemployment compensation, which may have been pending for 6-12 months. This is incorrect, and the claim will continue for benefits for a closed period. Even claimants who know their claim for past benefits will continue after they return to work often feel angry and cheated by waiting in limbo for months without benefits to which they are entitled, and justifiably feel they should be paid before they go back to work, not afterward.

Other claimants—disproportionately women—face child care responsibilities and a still existing shortage of child care facilities which have not reopened as fast as the economy generally. COVID-19 survivors may not feel well enough to return to work, while the immunocompromised who cannot be vaccinated realistically value their health and lives above a paycheck.

Finally, rational economics is a factor for some. The minimum federal benefit of $458 per week—$158 from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and $300 from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)—is the equivalent of an $11.45 per hour job. This speaks more to the inadequacy of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which has been unchanged since July 2009. Even Virginia's minimum wage of $9.50 per hour as of May 1, 2021, is insufficient, as would be a job paying $11.45 per hour after taking job-related transportation and child care into account. When rich people make rational economic decisions in their own best interest, they are admired as being smart and clever, but when working people do the same, somehow they get looked down upon as deadbeats.

R.L.D. in Austin, TX, writes: About 10 years ago, I was reaching the 1-year anniversary of being laid off from a Fortune 500 company and still unemployed. I had been making $60k/year and so I was entitled to the maximum UI benefit, then about $400/week. It was in the Bush 43 recession so benefits had already been extended quite a bit; even so I was close to the point where they would run out. So I applied for a survival job at a local tech retailer, stocking shelves for $8/hour for 40hours/week. This was really the only way they hired anyone, promoting from within for all other positions. But they also realized that I was massively overqualified and wanted me to give up my job search and just work for them. If you do the math, you'll see that I was taking in more on unemployment than I would make in their employ, but more important, really, was that I had a couple of $15/hour job opportunities on the line and I expected to be able to bring one of them in.

Since I was so far into unemployment, I wasn't really free to decline the $8 hour/job. If I did, I would also lose whatever benefits I had left. So I told them that while I was not going to give up looking for a job that pays what I'm worth, I couldn't turn down their offer, either. They rescinded the offer.

So, what do we learn from this? That employers do depend very heavily on cheap labor and exploiting the people who are desperate enough to take those wages (or enamored enough with the company to "pay their dues"), and that they have grown accustomed to being in the driver's seat and don't really know what to do when someone is willing to say "no."

Epilogue: I did, not long after, land one of those $15/hour jobs and spent the next decade working in homeless services as a database administrator, eventually working my way back to that $60k/year salary. The retailer recently closed after a long, slow decline. I don't know how much of that decline was attributable to COVID. Some surely, but I feel like the business was in trouble before that.

J.C. in Chicago, IL, writes: I think the other explanation for red-state governments throwing away unemployment benefits is to provide a means of applying Trump-style falsehoods against the Biden administration (e.g., "the Federal government cut off your benefits because, well, they don't like us"). Or, if that doesn't stick, they can claim that the Feds demanded that they give unemployment benefits to illegal aliens who are out to steal our tax dollars, and they had to cut the benefits off in order to fight the good fight. Or perhaps those details will not even be interesting when people simply feel the worsened situation is due to a drop in the economy that only the Democrats could have caused.

Of course, contrary facts are easily proven, but as we know of today's politics, false messages linger even if debunking them requires only one or two more seconds of thought. This one, in particular, is dangerous. The removal of unemployment benefits causes a downright loss of livelihood for many who are already in the hands of a poorly managed state governments. It also deprives potential workers of leverage in the job market. When unemployed workers find themselves forced to take poorly paid jobs, their resentment is sustained.

It has long been noted that oppressive policy can cause undiscriminating citizens to be more supportive of the ruling class, not less. When any regime promises immediate solutions to people's most vital problems, and especially when these promises are packaged with constantly repeated claims that all the problems are caused by their opposition, those in power create an easy source of support. What's more, they can stay in power under no real obligation to change anything, since the blame game is always in play.

I have no doubt that the Republicans have considered these factors and are entirely willing to use this strategy, or Donald Trump would never have gotten anywhere. Today, it's the same story. All we have to do is elect Republicans, and they will restore to true Americans what is rightfully theirs...and if it doesn't work out even after that, it is only Joe Biden and his Open Borders that are at any fault.

God help us.


P.M. in Albany, CA, writes: D.G. in Israel wrote: "most Israelis want to live in peace with Arabs. The only condition Israelis have is that they recognize they have a right to live there."

That is not true. Another condition that Israelis have made very clear for the past 73 years is that Arabs who used to live in what is now Israel (including Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian president, born in Safed) must recognize that they do not have a right to live there.

J.C. in Binan, Laguna, Philippines, writes: It should not be a bridge too far to say that Israel is a terrorist state. Many early Israeli PMs were members of the Irgun Gang—labeled a terrorist group by the British, just as we label Hamas today. Israel is a democracy, yes, but only if you aren't living in the Occupied Territories. There, it is an apartheid state, and is no more a democracy than the U.S. was pre-1863. That there are those who do great violence against Jewish citizens does not excuse the horrors that Israel committed against Christian and Muslim Palestinians on al Nakba through to the present day. This has nothing to do with Jewish people around the world or even those who are citizens of Israel, many of whom are aghast at the actions of their own government. But what that government does is simply wrong.

The Doors of Perception

S.S.-L. in Norman, OK, writes: Thank you for running the responses from Jewish readers. I confess to being surprised that so much antisemitism still exists in the world. Clueless, I know. Maybe this is what it's like when non-disabled people learn about ableism. Will you please ask your other readers to chime in with issues they'd like to raise awareness around? It's time for me to broaden my horizons.

V & Z respond: If people have thoughts, we will certainly be happy to pass them along.

A Spit Take

D.A. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: Here is a partial solution to our democracy's most pressing non-problem: Spit-ticket voting. No, that's not a typo. It's a suggestion:

Before you vote, you have to spit into a container that is then sent for DNA analysis after the election. It is not associated with your name. It is just saved and analyzed later.

After the election, one ends up with a vast set of DNA strings that uniquely identify the persons who voted. From this data one can determine the degree to which people voted more than once. The procedure also prevents dead people from voting. ("Dead men don't spit.")

This doesn't address all the ridiculous claims that Trumpublicans make about our current election system, but it does guarantee that only living people vote and that any cheating by duplicate voting would be found out after the fact. That alone would make the late and mostly unlamented Richard J. Daley roll in his grave.

If we Americans weren't so attached to privacy, individualism, the Fourth Amendment, etc., one could go a lot further with this, of course. Anyway, I'm curious to know how crazy (and why) my fellow readers think this is.

Political Advertising

E.A. in Albuquerque, NM, writes: In regards to the study showing brand-building political ads work best, all I can say is "It's morning in America, and in 1984 Reagan built a campaign on ads that made people feel better without telling them how to vote." Of course, Franklin D. Roosevelt also built political capital by turning to a four-year-old song from Broadway that told his supporters "Happy Days are Here Again." I wonder if we could save money by studying history instead of funding marketing studies.

M.H. in Seattle, WA, writes: While the ads you posted were for the Democratic Party, the Republican Party has been running their own versions for some time. My stepfather has been posting videos from PragerU, makers of the right-wing equivalents, to FaceCrook for years. Topics include free-markets, climate science, race, cancel culture and more, all without naming any candidates. It seems the goal, as you pointed out, is to get folks to identify generally with a party or position. (See here for an example.)

With people glued to their social media accounts, it's been easy to get people to watch a constant stream of such content, thus sustaining the effect of the "advertising," as suggested by the research. PragerU was effective enough to be noted by Forbes. Given the state of our politics, I wonder if it's good news that the left is considering using this approach, too. It may be effective advertising, but will it spread good information? Garbage in, garbage out.

C.W. in Myrtle Beach, SC, writes: This piece was really fascinating to me... not so much because of the results, but because it took so much study to find out what most mediocre advertisers/copy writers already know.

I run $20+ million of advertising per year in different verticals for different clients, just to give some background/qualification.

One thing they got right from this study is that short term advertising strategies aren't sustainable. You may be able to sell your product (get a vote) for the upcoming election, but you haven't bought a long term ROI. You need to be willing to lose a little bit "up front" on the cost of advertising, in order to "warm up" the lead and sell them after they like you. (The financial services industry is very good at this, as is insurance.)

In a marketing funnel this can be accomplished a few ways; the usual one is to give them something up front for free (a "lead magnet"), then engage them long term once you have their contact info, then sell them something.

Not sure how well that would work for politics, since you can't really give much up front, so that leads to the second approach of brand awareness campaigns. They work much as the second half of the piece describes: by continually running ads with no "call to action" but are just there to repeatedly expose people to your brand. This is such a basic advertising strategy that both Facebook and Google have ad objectives built right into their platforms for "Brand Awareness" and "reach."

It's the same reason that McDonalds, Coca Cola and other brands that literally everyone is familiar with still spend billions on advertising: to keep themselves at the front of people's minds and let people know what they do, even if the ad itself doesn't ask for any particular action.

As someone who has worked professionally in marketing and political campaigning, I am constantly amazed at how behind-the-times political parties and candidates are with basic advertising principles and think if they hired an experienced marketing/advertising team that looked at candidates and parties as offers, rather than being blinded by partisanship and outdated thinking, that they could exponentially grow their party.

V & Z respond: Even Dick Nixon knew enough to hire Don Draper.

L.E. in Putnam County, NY, writes: With regard to the videos aimed at recruiting Democrats that you linked on Monday, the one relating to issues is particularly wrongheaded. The headline is a fervent expression of closed-mindedness: "Some issues are not up for debate." It is telling those who disagree with anything they say that they are not entitled to a voice (and if you try to view it on Youtube, you find that comments are turned off). This is not the way to broaden appeal to those outside one's circle, this is the way to make those already inside but not totally conformist in their beliefs feel unwelcome and, as J.E. of West Hollywood put it last Sunday, "frame the issues such that only stupid or evil people could possibly disagree with you."

I am a tribal Democrat, committed to strong gun control, ready access to abortion, expanded national health insurance, and the eradication of capital punishment. But I also believe that some drug offenders definitely belong in prison, and that those experiencing same-sex sexual attraction are better advised to suppress than to indulge it. And this video doesn't just say the Party disagrees, but that I shouldn't even be allowed to say these things. The Democrats are my party, when right to be kept right, when wrong to be put right...but as portrayed by that video they are as intolerant of dissent as any swarm of MAGAts.

History Matters

L.C. in Brookline, MA, writes: I have to disagree strongly with your assertion that the Spanish-American War and World War I were in any way "just". The Spanish-American War was one we got into based upon lies, just like the Iraq War. Our involvement in World War I wasn't much better—we claimed to be neutral between the two sides, but were supplying the British and French. This was due to the demands of U.S. business interests to trade with whichever side they could, which turned out to be only the side of the British and French, because we couldn't get through the British blockade of the Germans. This ended up pushing the Germans into doing whatever they could to stop this, which in turn got us into the war. Had we not gone down this series of events, it is likely that the war in Western Europe would have remained stalemated, and neither side would have gotten the commanding victory that set the stage for World War II.

As to scientific and other progress from the wars, this is also not acceptable as an argument for the wars. For instance, Switzerland developed some pretty good railway technology without being in any war, while one of the biggest items of "progress" from the World Wars was progress for the tobacco companies' greatly expanded market for (and massive profits from) their products that have killed even more people than the wars themselves.

P.M. in Innsbruck, Austria, writes: You wrote: "[W]e would say that the pros and the cons are both so great that the judgment you ask for is basically impossible to make." This is true only if you claim/can prove that all the modernization and science and social change and stuff would not have happened without the wars. But as we can see inventions and social change and progress happening all the time in periods of peace, too (unless you want to say that we're fighting an eternal war (against commies/terror/Evil). Anyway, your indifference is a bit...flapping. 20 million dead and billions gone, 50 millions dead and cities in ashes... historian shrugs, "but look at Turing's efforts in coding." Millions not dying (how many geniuses has humankind lost?), billions for plowshares not swords is so much pro-peace, it's worth the cons like the delay of Facebook and Twitter for some years a gazillion times.

It's like saying, "Yes, the AIDS crisis was bad, but at least it forced gay men to organize." All the social progress (which the then-dying activists would have fought for and brought home anyway) is not worth the loss and trauma.

P.S. in Gloucester, MA, writes: Thanks to B.H. in Sherman Oaks for mentioning the Holocaust by Bullets, which has gotten far less public scrutiny than the Nazi concentration/extermination camps.

Of the 16 members of my family murdered by the Nazis, 7 were almost certainly victims of the Holocaust by Bullets: my oldest great-uncle on my paternal grandfather's side and his wife and two children, who settled in Zhuravno, Galicia (modern-day Ukraine) not far from where he was born, and one of my great-aunts on my paternal grandmother's side and her husband and daughter, who attempted to escape from Vienna in November 1939 as part of the ill-fated Kladovo Transport to British Palestine, which was stranded in Serbia and overtaken by the Nazis when they took control of Serbia.

There is a worthwhile French NGO called Yahad-In Unum (from the Hebrew and Latin terms meaning "together"), with a companion US 501(c)(3) called American Friends of Yahad-In Unum, that is documenting the Holocaust by Bullets by locating and interviewing surviving witnesses to the mass shootings in towns all over eastern Europe. (As with all remaining Holocaust research seeking testimony from people who lived through it, it is a race against time due to the age now of even people who were children or teens in those years.)

M.M. in Houston, TX, writes: In response to the question from G.B. in Buffalo's question about U.S. History textbooks, and your response, there is also the Core Documents series from Similar to the Cengage series you mentioned, the Core Documents series has two survey volumes of U.S. History and many thematic collections. Each document includes an introduction from the collection's editor as well as a set of critical thinking questions for the reader to dig deeper on their own. Another benefit of the Core Documents series is that the PDF versions of these collections are currently free in the TAH bookstore.

N.C in Fort Myers, FL, writes: I recently learned about Marion Stokes, the woman who recorded television nonstop from 1979 until her death in 2012. Her video tapes offer a view into what TV shows and news were covering on a daily basis for over 30 years.

Your website sprung to mind as a modern day equivalent. I think your articles are going to provide that sort of information (on slow developing news stories that lead to larger, well known events) to future scholars, and may end up being more valuable than you ever could have thought. I mean, how often do you get day-to-day coverage of this kind of topic that doesn't benefit from hindsight? It probably won't be too long until someone uses your old articles as a basis for their dissertation.

V & Z respond: That would certainly be intriguing. Though it could be that the real goldmine is the mailbag; a large and diverse collection of in-the-moment primary sources. Can you imagine how useful a set of 40-50 remarks every week, from folks domestic and foreign, on the Civil War, or the Civil Rights movement, or the Jazz Age, would be?

Alternate Histories

D.M. in Burnsville, MN, writes: You wrote: "The best-case scenario was a brokered convention, but LBJ would have been pulling the strings, and he loathed Bobby Kennedy."

I resemble your remark. I was halfway around the world at the time, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran, an institution conceived and publicized by Humphrey (my Senator from Minnesota), and created by the Kennedy administration. So, I was fairly well attuned to the tenor of the time. I recall clearly that my Iranian friends had heard the LBJ abdication speech before I did and flocked to my door to ask for my take on it. (At the close of his speech he also announced, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.")

I don't quite see it the same way as you seem to (remember: I was there, in a sense, at least through daily newspapers and weekly magazines). The nation was seething, the Democrats had a surfeit of excellent candidates and their kingmaker had given up. JFK and MLK had just been assassinated, but RFK and the convention were ahead. There were no strings attached to LBJ any longer—he had untied them in his March 31 speech. All his career, Johnson's signature moves had been strategic, yet he was always capable micromanaging matters. By the time RFK was killed, LBJ had little boots-on-the-ground political power. Witness the mismanagement of the '68 Democratic Convention in Chicago by Mayor Richard Daley. If LBJ had been the kingmaker you claim, he would never have allowed Daley's forces to get to a point where the political (and police) riots could have ever occurred.

S.A. in Downey, CA, writes: I disagree with your assessment of what a 2000 Gore Presidency would have looked like. In your response to O.Z.H. of Dubai, you wrote: "So, it's hard to predict that he would have secured universal health care, or even that he would have made all that much progress on global warming (an issue that, at that time, had not yet reached critical mass)."

You're forgetting that climate change reached critical mass with the release of David Guggenheim's Gore documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." A 2000 Gore victory would have given him the bully pulpit of the presidency to put the issue front and center a half decade earlier, and put him in a position to do something about it. Granted, he may very likely have lacked the political will to see it through, but still.

In addition to that, he could have put his ideas for an "information superhighway" forward, and we might actually have better Internet by now. Plus, he may have properly funded NASA, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster may not have happened. He also would probably not have canceled the Crew Return Vehicle and Centrifuge Module of the International Space Station, making that entity much more than the afterthought it is today.

So we'd be flying in space, with a killer communication system and an increasingly green economy by 2004. Having handed us the world of the Jetsons on a platter, even a wet blanket like Gore could have triumphed as an incumbent over John McCain.

V & Z respond: Are you sure you haven't been watching too many reruns of "Family Guy"?

B.R.D. in Columbus, OH, writes: I suspect the other thing Al Gore might have done is continue the peace talks in the Middle East. I remember how close Bill Clinton's team and negotiators thought they were. Difficult knots, but still close. And if those talks had been continued, pressed hard by the U.S., and if there had been a peace, even if wobbly, in the Middle East, then Al-Qaeda might not have had as many recruiting points, might not have had as much power, and might not have been able to pull off 9/11. And we might not be at all in the same place we are today in the Middle East. I remember being horrified when George W. Bush basically said, "Oh, let them work it out between themselves." Huge, huge mistake.

R.L.D. in Austin, TX, writes: I think, in your scenario where John McCain beats Al Gore in the 2004 election and goes to war for the Neocons, the most likely target is still probably Iraq. Yes, Bush had the "failure" of his dad to push him in that direction, but the "evidence" of WMDs in Iraq would be just as easy to manufacture, and Dick Cheney would also be a major player in the GOP at the time and he was a strong pusher of the war in Iraq as well. Without 9/11 as a focal point, the case for war would be more difficult, but I'm not sure that would stop that crew from trying.

So, makes you wonder why the Time Travelers put so much effort (on both sides) into trying to rig that election. Because that was obviously what was happening.

A.L. in New York, NY, writes: I think your description of World War II under Donald Trump was on target, but significantly understates the scale of the disaster by eschewing any description of how Trump—who has never met a strongman he didn't like or an ally he didn't disdain—would have comported himself with respect to Hitler, Stalin, and Chamberlain/Churchill in the run-up to the war. Hitler—who ran roughshod over far more experienced statesmen than Trump—would never have ignored the diplomatic advantage that gave him. A scenario where Germany secures true U.S. neutrality from Trump before the war is not too far-fetched, especially given Trump's cowardice.

V & Z respond: Perhaps the only question is whether or not Trump is able to spell "appeasement."


L.G. in Portland, OR, writes: Oregon: Just give out the same stuff as Washington, but a little bit smaller, weirder, cheaper, more casual, less slick, and less corporate. In other words, better.

T.F. in Ridgewood, NJ, writes: New York City: A dinner date with a Marisa Tomei-type from Brooklyn.

V & Z respond: Isn't that basically just the Bensonhurst Dating Game?

T.K. in Warsaw, IN, writes: Indiana: free tenderloin sandwiches, with the tenderloin much larger than the bun; free college basketball season passes; free Gencon passes; entered to win the chance to kick off the Indianapolis 500.

V & Z respond: If you win the college basketball tickets, do you get to have a chair thrown at you by Bobby Knight as part of the prize package?

M.L. in Tiffin, OH, writes: Ohio: Shredded chicken sandwiches, skyline chili, Buckeye candy, Woody Hayes Halloween masks, and free polar pop from Circle K.

P.K. in Marshalltown, IA, writes: Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Pasties, fishing licenses, deer tags, bear tags, Stormy Kromer gear.

V & Z respond: We assume you mean the meat pies, and not the nipple covers.

T.B. in Tallahassee, FL, writes: Vermont: Nothing at all, as 80+% of Vermonters are already vaccinated.

M.W. in Hartford, CT, writes: Connecticut: Incentives include polo mallets, ascots, and childish diminutives for middle-aged WASPs (take your pick: Babs, Bitsy, Bunny, Muffy, Missy, Sissy, Scooter, Skip, Pip, or Chip).*

(* - Nicknames not valid outside the club.)

V & Z respond: Thad, Bootsy, and Spence are not going to be happy you forgot about them.

L.B. in Friendswood, TX, writes: Texas: Your name inscribed on a brick that will be used to build Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) border wall.

S.B. in New Castle, DE, writes: Delaware: The First State, just in case anyone forgot, will offer (1) The first season passes to the Blue Rocks or Blue Hens, (2) the first 100 license plates issued in Delaware (low numbers are a thing), and (3) an overnight stay with the Bidens at their Rehoboth Beach home.

J.W. in Ummendorf, Germany, writes: Rural Georgia: Meet Q.

M.S. in Sterling, NY (but a WV native), writes: West Virginia: No self respecting native would get vaccinated for a cowboy hat, but a CAT or a Steelers ball cap, well, yeah. Now, whiskey is a definite yes (after all, the half pint vote won JFK the West Virginia primary in 1960), and while I'm not sure about old hound dogs, a young black-and-tan coon dog would have 'em lined up!

M.C. in Newton, MA, writes: Massachusetts: Chowdah, Sox tickets, and snow tires.

I was going to suggest Pats hoodies, but everybody already has one.

V & Z respond: Isn't it spelled "Sawx tickets"?

A.S. in Brewster, MA, writes: Massachusetts: A lifetime supply of Dunkin' Donuts coffee; Season tickets to the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics, or Patriots games; a lane over the Sagamore or Bourne bridges all to themselves so they don't face traffic when coming or going down the Cape in the summer; the rest of the country agrees to never again mention Deflategate or the fact that Red Sox manager Alex Cora was part of the management staff when the Houston Astros stole signs and subsequently won the World Series in 2017.

V & Z respond: You may want to skip over our response below to C.W. in Myrtle Beach.

L.S. in Greensboro, NC, writes: Wisconsin: As a native Wisconsinite I have to object to your suggestion of "cheese, cheese, and more cheese." The correct answer is "cheese, brats, and beer (with the brats marinated in beer, of course)."

D.R. in Slippery Rock, PA, writes: I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. I used to be a working chef. I just don't get why Pittsburghers love Primanti Brothers sandwiches. Cole slaw on a corned beef sandwich? Sure. Cold, wet coleslaw on a hot sausage? Mmm, not to my taste. There is nothing good about putting hot, crisp French fries on cold, wet coleslaw. Yinz should quit being jagoffs.

V & Z respond: For our part, we prefer Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte.

Do You Like Ike Rhyme Time?

T.S. & A.S. in Watertown, MA, writes: You wrote: "We would be even more impressed if they found a rhyme for 'Dwight D. Eisenhower.'"

Given the general geographic location and political proclivities of your readership, I'm sure we won't be the only ones to point out that singer/songwriter, activist, and all-around good egg Peter Mulvey has a song called "Abilene (The Eisenhower Waltz)," in which he rhymes "Dwight D. Eisenhower" with "truck stop shower", "our finest hour" and "in all their flower." If your readers aren't acquainted with Peter's work, perhaps it'll be a lovely diversion on this Sunday morning.

W.C. in Walpole, ME, writes: Dwight David Eisenhower, under whom the U-2 flowered.

A.M. in Brookhaven, PA, writes: Pretty easy. When he won the presidency, mighty rise in power for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

R.C. in New York, NY, writes: Dwight D. Eisenhower, so strong he makes the mighty bison cower.

Horrible, I know.

R.S. in Tonawanda, NY, writes: Dwight D. Eisenhower, makes me wanna take a shower.

Of course, I never really felt that way about Ike then (I was 7 when he left office) or since, but it does rhyme, and can be delivered with a hip-hop cadence.


G.R. in Tarzana, CA, writes: (Z)'s story about the interview process for tenure-track candidates and how something completely unpredictable can alter the outcome of an event, shows just how serendipitous life is, and reminded me of a somewhat similar event though in a different field.

As a writer on a television show, we were about to begin a new season and needed to add one additional writer to the staff. The head writer, not overwhelmed by any of the writers with track records that were presented, decided to hire someone who had never worked in the industry, based purely on their writing samples. Two candidates were brought to the lot and, after interviewing each, he brought them into the writers' room for a quick 5-minute hello. And seeing both, the head writer asked the staff which one he should hire. Since none of us had read any of their material and we could only base a decision on the short interaction we had, I suggested that the first guy was wearing a tie, and I didn't work with writers who wore ties. Everyone agreed, until the head writer pointed out that while he understood our concern, we probably hadn't noticed that the other candidate was wearing a gold chain around his neck. In unison, we all said, "take the guy with the tie." The tie guy has gone on to have a successful career, never wearing a tie to a meeting again, while it is unknown what happened to the gold chain guy, and whether he still wears one to this day. It just shows that no matter what one's path in life is, it's filled with vagaries that we're never aware of, but have altered our journey.

M.L. in West Hartford, CT, writes: You wrote: "...the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.'" This is a common misquote of political scientist Raymond Wolfinger. His quote was, in fact, exactly the opposite: "the plural of anecdote is data" (emphasis added).

His point, as I understand it, was that anecdotes should not be summarily dismissed simply because they have not yet been aggregated with other data points, and that all data should be viewed skeptically with an awareness of how it was collected and what its limitations may be.

This piece provides a good and brief summary of this oft-misunderstood quotation.

F.L. in Denton, TX, writes: P.A. in Geneva, Switzerland wrote about the overuse of the "cheese slipping off the cracker" expression and I thought I'd put in my tuppence. A couple of my personal faves are: "the porch light is on, but nobody's home" and "half a bubble off of plumb."

I thought I might also bring up a few quotes about mental incapacity from U.S. politics. Unsurprisingly, two of them are from my home state of Louisiana:

  • "He's a nice guy but he played too much football with his helmet off." - LBJ on Gerald Ford (Which was rather unfair, I think, but that's LBJ)

  • "If his I.Q. slips any lower, we'll have to water him twice a day." - Journalist Molly Ivins on a local Texas politician

  • "[Governor] Dave Treen (R-LA) is so slow it takes him and hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes." - Edwin Edwards (D-LA)

  • "If I've ever seen a man in my life with constipation of the brain and diarrhea of the mouth, you're that man." - Joe Waggoner on Governor "Uncle" Earl Long (D-LA). Uncle Earl's retort is not repeatable on this site and would require many asterisks.

C.W. in Myrtle Beach, SC, writes: You wrote: "The important thing isn't that the Vikings have zero Super Bowls, or that the Bears have one. It's that the Packers have four."

4 is an impressive count.

I remember when Tom Brady had 4 Super Bowl rings...3 Super Bowl wins ago.

V & Z respond: True enough, though in fairness to Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, the technology to surreptitiously record other teams' practices didn't exist in the 1960s.

J.K. in Short Hills, NJ, writes: I would like to pile on to your regular debasing of USC. As an alumnus of a fellow Pac-12 university 400 miles up the 101 Freeway, I, along with my classmates, always referred to USC as either the "University of Second Choice" or the "University of Spoiled Children."

V & Z respond: Close! It's actually "University for Stupid Children."

A.A., in Tartu, Estonia , writes: At first I had my doubts but it appears you were right about USC:

A woman wears a shirt, and there
is also a logo, both of which render USC's motto as 'Visne Fricta Cum Quod?,' which means 'You want fries with that?'

V & Z respond: All readers should note that the truth is known even as far away as Estonia.

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun12 Saturday Q&A
Jun11 We Have a Deal...Or Maybe Not
Jun11 FBI Is Not Investigating Trump's Role in Insurrection
Jun11 Senate Confirms First-Ever Muslim Judge
Jun11 Omar Ruffles More Feathers
Jun11 Sinema, Boebert May Be Playing with Fire
Jun11 A Possible Answer to the Manchin Mystery
Jun11 Dumbest Member of Congress Unwisely Opens His Mouth
Jun11 California Democrats Move the Goalposts a Bit
Jun11 About Those Vaccine Incentives...
Jun10 Biden Goes to Europe
Jun10 Gang of 10 Wants to Do Infrastructure without Raising Taxes
Jun10 Democrats Can't Figure Out What Manchin Wants
Jun10 Transcript of McGahn Hearing Is Released
Jun10 Report: Police Did Not Clear Protesters for Trump's Photo-Op at Church
Jun10 The Primary Battle Has Begun
Jun10 Special Master Is Appointed to Vet Electronics Seized from Giuliani
Jun10 Val Demings Is Officially Running against Marco Rubio
Jun10 Keystone XL Pipeline, 2010-2021
Jun09 Senate Passes China Bill
Jun09 "Infrastructure, Act II" Has Commenced
Jun09 Senate Releases 1/6 Report
Jun09 Biden Judicial Nominee Confirmed
Jun09 McConnell Will Have His Say on 2022 Nominees
Jun09 Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2021 Gubernatorial Candidates
Jun09 It's Not EVERY Republican Governor
Jun08 Deus Ex Manchin
Jun08 Unemployment Benefits Will Soon End in Many States (Most of Them Red)
Jun08 Obama Speaks Out
Jun08 Legal Blotter, Part I: Whose DoJ?
Jun08 Legal Blotter, Part II: Everybody's Talkin'
Jun08 Legal Blotter, Part III: Nice Try, Matt
Jun08 Legal Blotter, Part IV: No Mo Ducking Service
Jun07 Manchin Will Vote against H.R. 1
Jun07 Biden Rejects Latest GOP Offer
Jun07 McGahn Finally Testified
Jun07 Trump is Now Synonymous with "Cheap"
Jun07 Lara Trump Won't Run
Jun07 Republican Jumps into Senate Race against Warnock
Jun07 Kemp Survived
Jun07 NRA Drops Lawsuit against Letitia James
Jun07 Political Advertising Is All Wrong
Jun06 Sunday Mailbag
Jun05 Saturday Q&A
Jun04 What Is Going on with Donald Trump?
Jun04 What Is Going on with the DoJ?
Jun04 There Will Be No Presidential Commission on the Insurrection
Jun04 I Fought the Law, Part I: Louis DeJoy
Jun04 I Fought the Law, Part II: Matt Gaetz
Jun04 I Fought the Law, Part III: Mo Brooks