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Political Wire logo How Democrats Could Shrink Their $3.5 Trillion Bill
Failed Arizona ‘Audit’ Raises Stakes for Trump Backers
Haitian Migrants Cleared from Encampment
Greene Gets Into Shouting Match with Democrats
The Best Books About the Climate Crisis
In Law School with Clarence Thomas

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Biden Wins Arizona
      •  Pelosi, Schumer Announce Infrastructure Funding "Framework"
      •  And Here Come the 1/6 Subpoenas
      •  Grift, for Lack of a Better Word, Is Good
      •  This Week's 2022 Candidacy News
      •  This Week in Schadenfreude
      •  Though the News Was Rather Sad...Well, I Just Had to Laugh

Biden Wins Arizona

The news broke late on Thursday night: Vote totals are in from the state of Arizona, and Joe Biden came out on top of Donald Trump, 1,672,242 votes to 1,661,425 votes. This means that Biden is entitled to Arizona's 11 electoral votes, and that his overall electoral tally is 306 to Trump's 232.

Don't worry; our crystal ball is not on the fritz and spitting out old information, and you did not accidentally stumble onto a page from last year. If you feel like you've heard this before, possibly about 9 months ago, that is because you have. Except that the totals reported back then were 1,672,143 for Biden and 1,661,686 for Trump. The figures in the previous paragraph include 99 more votes for Biden and 261 fewer for Trump, because those are the numbers that appear in a draft report that is to be released by Cyber Ninjas today.

That, of course, would be the same Cyber Ninjas that was hired to find evidence of fraud in Maricopa County. And the same Cyber Ninjas whose CEO Doug Logan predicted he would find "at least 200,000 more votes" for Trump. Obviously, that did not happen. And so, the millions of dollars that were spent by the Arizona legislature and private donors might as well have been shoveled into a fireplace. It would have been quicker.

By mishandling the ballots, and often taking them out of public view, Cyber Ninjas set themselves up to cook the books. There was enormous pressure on them to cook the books. If they hope to get more business from Republican clients, they really needed to cook the books. And yet, they did not cook the books. In fact, Biden's margin of victory got a tiny bit larger, reflecting the general amount of movement that recounts tend to produce (around .001%). It is not exactly clear why Cyber Ninjas came to Jesus. The obvious guess, however, is that Logan realized he was playing with fire, and was exposing himself and his firm to possible fraud charges.

The report that will be released, at roughly 1:00 p.m. PT, is "not the final report, but it's close," according to Cyber Ninjas spokesperson Randy Pullen. One cannot help but notice two things: (1) the last delay, six weeks ago, was allegedly because Logan and others had contracted COVID-19 and were unable to put "final touches" on a nearly finished draft, and (2) the report is being released during the deadest part of the news cycle, the "maybe people will forget once the weekend is over" portion. One wonders if any further report is actually coming, or if today's "draft" is gonna be it. The needs of the people involved in the report are not well served by another round of headlines about how the "audit" found nothing.

That said, even if Cyber Ninjas, et al., want to bury this, it may already have grown beyond their control. A judge has ordered the firm to release text messages and other documents related to the audit. Thus far, Logan & Co. have refused. Generally speaking, people who have nothing to hide don't end up on the wrong side of an order to produce evidence. And people with nothing to hide definitely don't defy said order. So, the book on this one isn't closed quite yet.

Meanwhile, given what an embarrassing disaster this whole thing has turned out to be, that will put the brakes on "audits" in other states, right? After all, surely nobody else wants to end up with enough egg on their face to make an entire weekend's worth of McMuffins? Ha! If you think that, you clearly haven't been paying attention for the last year. In a case of timing-as-bad-as-is-humanly-possible, another state announced yesterday afternoon that it was commencing an audit of the 2020 presidential ballots. Which one? Why, Texas, of course!

At this point, you might be confused for the second time while reading this item. You might be saying: "Wait a minute, didn't Donald Trump already win that state?" He sure did, but he believes he won it by a larger margin than was originally reported. So, he demanded that election officials in the Lone Star state get to work. And since Greg Abbott (R) always responds to Trump's commands to "Jump!" by asking "How high?," recounts were announced literally within hours of the former president making the pronouncement. Details of how the recounts be conducted, and by whom, are fuzzy; all that is known is that Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin counties are going to be targeted. That basically boils down to Dallas and its environs (Dallas/Tarrant/Collin counties) and Houston (Harris County). How Bexar County (San Antonio) and Travis County (Austin) missed the list is anyone's guess.

Forgive us for the judgmental tone, but it's hard to decide who is more pathetic here. Is it Donald Trump, a man so lacking in self esteem that it's not enough to win big (he took Texas 52%-46%), he needs to win BIGLY? Or is it Greg Abbott and his acolytes, who are apparently unable to resist even the most unreasonable of demands, for even a short period of time? Trump, at very least, has the excuse that he was clearly trying to redirect attention away from the embarrassment in Arizona, and toward a state where people are even more likely to cook the books for him. If Abbott & Co. have an excuse for their humiliating kowtowing, we can't think of what it might be. (Z)

Pelosi, Schumer Announce Infrastructure Funding "Framework"

Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are juggling four balls (or spinning four plates) right now: the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the $3.5 trillion reconciliation infrastructure bill, continued funding for the government, and the debt ceiling. The trio really need everyone, particularly the 270 members of the two Democratic caucuses, to believe that progress is being made, that momentum is still headed in a forward direction, and that this can all end happily ever after.

To that end, Pelosi and Schumer announced a "framework" for funding the infrastructure bills yesterday. The details are fuzzy, and most of the key players in this little drama—e.g., Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)—all said they didn't know anything about it. But it's progress, right? Maybe? Oh, well, Pelosi and Schumer are both pretty good at what they do, so maybe it's best to look the other way while they make the sausage. Actually, that's good advice in general for whenever sausage is being made.

The more substantive move, at least from the vantage point of those on the outside, is that the House passed a bill bestowing $1 billion in funding on Israel's Iron Dome defense system by an overwhelming margin, 420-9. The progressives in the House Democratic Caucus are not happy, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), although she fell into line, was in tears as she cast her vote. However, this funding was certain to gain approval anyhow, and this way the Democrats appear to be the driving force behind it, since the bill was written by Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Further, this takes away one of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) main talking points.

At some point soon, leaders on both sides of the aisle are going to have to get serious about funding the government and about raising the debt ceiling. The government will no longer be funded as of Sept. 30, whereas the debt ceiling, though already reached, will likely reach a crisis point in mid-to-late October. So, there is certainly a possibility that a short-term funding bill will come first. That said, the White House ordered federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparing a shutdown plan, just in case.

In the end, funding the government is less contentious than the debt ceiling, as the debt ceiling is the hill that McConnell claims he's willing to die on. As his party is in the minority, he really has just two options, assuming he can keep his conference unified: (1) stick with his position that the debt-ceiling increase be included in the reconciliation bill, and filibuster any other debt-ceiling bill, or (2) yield, and agree to raise the debt ceiling independent of the reconciliation bill.

Since the Democrats hold the trifecta, their options are broader. We've been getting a lot of questions about various possibilities, so we thought we'd put them all in one place (including a couple we've already discussed). We see eight basic approaches that the blue team might consider:

  1. Nickel and Dime It: This is one we've talked about before. In fact, a post on this very option many years ago was specifically what caused (Z) to e-mail (V) about being a possible contributor. Anyhow, it wouldn't quite be a nickel or a dime, as much as it would be a $1 trillion coin, or maybe a $5 trillion coin. The mint is legally allowed to do that without congressional approval. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen could jog over to the Federal Reserve, deposit the coin, and there would once again be money to spend.

  2. File Suit: As a number of readers have written in to point out, the Fourteenth Amendment includes this clause: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." And so, the moment the Treasury stops paying its bills, people with standing—say, bondholders unable to redeem their bonds—could sue and claim that the federal government was violating the Constitution.

    In theory, this is an interesting option. In practice, it is problematic. First of all, the courts are leery of dictating terms to the other branches of government, particularly since Congress has the power of the purse, and thus the legal right to decide when to spend, and thus when not to spend, money. Further, since it is unlikely that a bondholder (or someone else with standing) would be able to sue preemptively, this approach would mean going over the cliff, at least for a day or two. That would do enormous damage, even if it was a short-term thing.

  3. Ignore the Law: This strikes us as a more probable version of the above scheme. Joe Biden could announce that he has read over his copy of the Constitution, has noticed the above clause from the Fourteenth Amendment, and has instructed the Treasury to keep paying its debts. He could then invite McConnell to file suit, and to persuade a court to bring the U.S. economy crashing down. Some folks might just see the Minority Leader as a villain in that scenario.

  4. Trim the Filibuster: The Senate Democrats who fetishize the filibuster—the aforementioned Manchin and Sinema—pay constant lip service to the possibility of bipartisanship. It is clear that, at least in this case, bipartisanship is not on the table. McConnell has said he is absolutely unwilling to negotiate under any circumstances. And the price of keeping the filibuster is the possible devastation of the U.S. economy, which would weigh particularly heavy on a poor state like West Virginia. And so, this may be the time to approach those two Senators and to suggest a carve-out for the debt ceiling. It would only take 50 votes (plus Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker) to make debt ceiling increases un-filibusterable, and would not only end the current crisis, but would also take future games of debt-ceiling chicken off the table.

  5. Directed Pain: As we note, the debt ceiling has already been reached. Legally, the U.S. is not supposed to go above $28.5 trillion, and yet it's already at $28.8 trillion (rounding up a little). What makes this possible is some creative accounting by the Treasury Department, as they decide what to pay and what not to pay, among other tricks. It would be somewhat mercenary, and thus out of character for the Biden administration, and it would also be of questionable legality, but Yellen could announce that she and her staff have looked at the books, and had to make some hard choices about what things will go unpaid until the debt ceiling is lifted, and have concluded that there just isn't any money left for...Kentucky? Texas? Florida? That would be pretty hardcore, and would generate a bunch of lawsuits, but a court would be hard-pressed to find authority to tell the Treasury Department which bills it can and cannot pay. Of course, a court could find that leaving any bills unpaid is illegal, and could strike down the debt ceiling...which would also solve the Democrats' problems.

  6. PR-a-Rama: This is among the more likely options on the list. The Democrats control the bully pulpit, and they know well how to make use of the news shows and the op-ed pages. They could mount the mother of all PR campaigns. Imagine op-eds in The Wall Street Journal, co-signed by Pelosi and U.S. Chamber of Commerce president David L. Decker, explaining how important it is to adopt an increase in the ceiling. Imagine Biden delivering an Oval Office address to explain the issue to the American people. Imagine the AFL-CIO getting members to bombard Republican senators with phone calls and letters. The Democrats have a lot of power to control the narrative here. And, by the way, a very loud White House announcement, like the one on Thursday, that amounts to "We really really really don't want to shut down the government, but we have to prepare in case the Republicans make us do so," is basically the first salvo in such a campaign.

  7. Yield, But Only a Little: Nobody seems to be talking about this option, but the Democrats could "give in" to McConnell and raise the debt ceiling in the reconciliation bill, say to $29 trillion. That would get the country past the current crisis, and would kick the can down the road to...maybe December. At that point, the reconciliation bill will either be enshrined into law, or will be a dead-letter item. Either way, McConnell would no longer be in a position to insist on inclusion in that bill; he could either play ball or take ownership for crashing the economy. He could try to make political hay out of debt ceiling increase #1, but will it really work if he says "You know that increase before the most recent one, where the evil Democrats approved a $200 billion addition to the debt? Those evil socialists! Oh, and pay no attention to the $3 trillion addition that we Republicans helped pass more recently than that."

  8. Surrender: While the Democrats sometimes have a reputation for being spineless, the fact is that it's been the Republicans who have blinked in the last several games of chicken, including the Trump-era government shutdown. Nancy Pelosi has a spine of steel, and possible spare steel sets of other body parts that she doesn't even need (but that maybe she can loan to Chuck Schumer). So, we actually doubt they will back down here, especially since there are so many other options. That said, if they think they can get the two infrastructure bills passed, they could decide that debt-ceiling talking points are kinda inside baseball, and may not do too much damage. Imagine a Republican office-seeker declaring: "Can you believe those reckless Democrats, and that they contributed so much to our national debt?" The Democrat could reply: "Yes, my esteemed opponent has discovered that the day care you're now getting, or the new road being built in your community, costs money. Who knew? The good news is that we managed to keep the cost at roughly half as much as the $8 trillion that Donald Trump's and Mitch McConnell's tax cut for the rich cost."

If it is not clear, we think McConnell has the considerably weaker hand here, and that he's overplaying it. He's many things, but stupid is not among them, and if he concludes Democrats are not going to blink, or are otherwise going to outmaneuver him, he's likely to change course. In particular, even if he's willing to sink the economy, it is hard to believe he can keep his conference on board, especially those who have to run for reelection next year. (Z)

And Here Come the 1/6 Subpoenas

Of course, the financial soap opera that's playing out on the Hill is not the only drama in town. There's the 1/6 Commission, which is ready to start getting its hands dirty. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) let slip on Wednesday that the committee isn't going to bother with polite requests to people likely to ignore polite requests, and is just going to jump straight to subpoena without passing GO and without collecting $200.

Yesterday, we learned exactly who he has in mind. Or, at very least, the first group of people he has in mind. The lucky recipients of subpoenas are former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Pentagon official and longtime House Intelligence Committee aide Kash Patel, Trump social media guru Dan Scavino, and everybody's favorite insurrectionist, Steve Bannon.

What comes next is anyone's guess. Patel is already bellyaching, and the other three all seem the type to extend a middle finger in the general direction of the committee. Especially Bannon, who is quite clearly very badly exposed here. Undoubtedly, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democratic decision-makers have anticipated this and know what they plan to do, even if they haven't shared it yet. They could have the House sergeant-at-arms try to arrest these folks, or they could ask the Dept. of Justice to send a U.S. Marshal to enforce the subpoenas, or they could file a lawsuit and wait a few years while the courts figure it out. We doubt it's the latter, because this just can't wait that long. In any event, we will likely find out soon. (Z)

Grift, for Lack of a Better Word, Is Good

There are some loopholes in campaign finance law that are so large you can drive a truck through them. Additional layers of opacity have been added in recent years by Citizens United and by the fact that an ever-larger portion of fundraising is filtered through the websites ActBlue and WinRed. And then you've also got a political party with more than its fair share of people who agree with W.C. Fields, who declared: "It's morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money."

These things being the case, it is not surprising to learn that the two most notorious freshman members of the House Republican Conference (sorry, Madison Cawthorn) are already raising some eyebrows on the fundraising front. Let's start with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has already raised $4 million this year. That's quite a lot for a junior member of Congress who, you will recall, is not actually serving on any committees. Even more...remarkable is that nearly $3.5 million of that, more than 80%, has come in increments so small (less than $200) that Greene is not required to disclose anything about the donors.

It is not impossible that the total is legitimate, since Greene is very high profile, and she spends a lot of money hitting up followers for more money. That said, by way of comparison, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) are also high profile and also have robust fundraising apparatus (apparatuses? apparati?), and they've each collected about $1 million in these sorts of small donations. Even that was enough for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to flag those members' paperwork and to ask for more information. And so, the FEC is very curious indeed about Greene's take. We will soon know if she complies with the request for additional information, or if she announces that she is once again enduring her own, personal 21st century Holocaust.

Moving on, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) also made a few headlines yesterday, as it turns out that she used $6,650 in campaign funds to pay her personal rent and utilities at her residence in Washington, D.C. The Representative says it was just a bookkeeping mistake, and that the money has already been paid back, and that she self-reported the problem, so all is well.

Or maybe not, because Boebert's story doesn't hold up at all. It was actually the FEC that first noticed the payments; she didn't come forward voluntarily. Further, the checks were written to her landlord in Washington, DC. He lives in DC, but his "address" was given as 120 E. 3rd St. in Rifle, CO, which is Boebert's campaign office (and her restaurant). In other words, there was clearly an attempt to disguise this as campaign-related. The FEC is not amused, though they will probably treat this as a warning and will let the matter drop. That said, if either of these members linger on for multiple terms, the odds are near 100% that they eventually get busted for breaking the rules. (Z)

This Week's 2022 Candidacy News

And the beat goes on. Yeah, the beat goes on.

  • U.S. House, New York: NY-19, which is R+3, is about as swingy as it gets. In the last eight presidential elections, it's gone Republican four times and Democratic four times, including going for Donald Trump once (2016) and against him once (2020). Since 2006, no occupant of that seat has lasted beyond two terms; four incumbents have been defeated in reelection bids and a fifth retired rather than being primaried. The current holder, Rep. Antonio Delgado (D), is in his second term, having defeated John Faso (R), who was serving his first term. Now Delgado will try to fight off a dangerous opponent, as well-known local GOP operative Marc Molinaro announced a run for the seat. This could become one of the most closely watched races in the country, particularly if New York Democrats redraw the state's district boundaries to give Delgado a small margin of error, which they might do if they believe that other members need help more than Delgado does.

  • Governor, Georgia: Stacey Abrams has yet to announce a second run for governor of Georgia. However, this week, she commenced a tour of the country, wherein she will be giving speeches, signing books, and appearing on TV and radio shows. Ostensibly the focus is voting-rights awareness, but for someone who is famous enough—and Abrams is—it's a great way to start rallying support and attracting donations for a 2022 bid for office without assuming the campaign finance restrictions and the larger target on her back that would come with a formal announcement.

  • Governor, Illinois: Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jesse Sullivan, who announced a campaign for governor of Illinois last week, backed by $11 million from his wealthy friends, has zero experience in politics. One downside to that is that he has, you know, absolutely no idea how to govern a state (particularly one so large as Illinois). Another downside, however, is that he's never been vetted in any meaningful way, which means that there's potentially plenty of stuff there for enterprising reporters to uncover. And uncover they have. This week, The Chicago Sun-Times had a story about Sullivan's "nonprofit," which appears to have fallen into disrepair, and which is at least $3,200 in arrears on its taxes. The newspapers followed that with a story about the photos on his campaign site that make it seem as if he's a veteran. Photos like this one:

    The candidate in full camouflage, with helmet, sitting on a tank

    The truth is that he was a civilian advisor, and saw roughly as much danger as a visiting politician or a USO performer. Maybe less. Sullivan might have turned his experience into a selling point, but by trying to fudge it and make himself look like a veteran, he's now in the "stolen valor" category. At this point, one wonders if his candidacy will survive to 2022, much less to Election Day 2022.

  • Governor, Maine: After a few years off and a move to Florida, former governor Paul LePage (R) has decided he'd like his old job back. He said last month that he was going to run, and yesterday he made it official. His pitch is "I was Trump before Trump," and that's right on target. While he served, politics in Maine were bitter and divisive, and many people on both sides of the aisle fear a return to that. So, expect a rough campaign, with the LePage camp slinging mud by the truckload. This will also be something of a case study for how well Trumpism without Trump works in a purple state. Although LePage won the governor's mansion twice, he was compelled to abort a Senate run in 2018 when it was clear he would not win. Further, this time, he will face off against a popular incumbent in Gov. Janet Mills (D), who has already announced she's seeking reelection. The first poll of the race puts Mills up 46%-41%, albeit with 13% of voters undecided.

  • Governor, Rhode Island: Rhode Island is quite blue, and so the next governor is sure to be a Democrat. The question is: What kind of Democrat? The current governor, Daniel McKee (D), got his job when Gina Raimondo resigned to join Joe Biden's cabinet. McKee is about as establishment and as centrist as it gets. He hasn't announced a bid for reelection yet, but everyone thinks he's running. A bit to his left is Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D), who was the first candidate to formally declare. To her left is General Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D), who jumped in last week, positioning himself in the progressive-but-let's-not-get-crazy lane. And joining the race this week is former secretary of state Matt Brown (D), who made liberal use (no pun intended) of the word "revolution" in his debut press conference. In other words, he's the leftiest of the quartet. He's already got a progressive lieutenant governor running mate (state Sen. Cynthia Mendes). We don't exactly have our fingers on the pulse of Rhode Island politics, but Brown finished second in the Democratic primary in 2018, and so he's clearly someone to be reckoned with. If McKee gets in and he and Gorbea split the moderate vote, then Brown could very well be the Democratic nominee, and the next governor of Rhode Island. Wonder if he'll be able to remember the name of the state's most prominent university?

  • Attorney General, Iowa: We wouldn't normally write about a state-level office beyond governor, but Tom Miller (D-IA) is the nation's longest serving state AG, having been in that office for 39 of the last 43 years. He decided he's not ready to retire yet, and so announced a bid for his 11th term. That kind of dedication is worth at least a mention, and in addition, Iowa is purplish enough that the time could come that having Miller in that seat, rather than a die-hard Trumper, could be...good news. The AG hasn't drawn an opponent yet; given that he's been doing this job since before many of his potential challengers were born, maybe none will come forward. Miller got 76.5% of the vote in his last election in 2018.

Gubernatorial elections are generally more expensive and complicated to contest than, say, House elections. So while there is a lot of movement on the governor front right now, soon there will be many announcements for House seats. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude

We are sorry to break it to you, but former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany thinks you are stupid. The good news is that it's not personal; she thinks that we are stupid, too. And she really thinks that Donald Trump's base is stupid. Consequently, she began her time as press secretary by declaring that she would "never lie" to the American people, and then commenced to unspool baldfaced lies at a rate nearly equal to that of Trump himself. She clearly didn't think anyone would notice—at least, not anybody who matters. This despite the fact that she's an even less effective liar than the former president is, which is really saying something.

There was a time when McEnany was a Never Trumper talking head on CNN. However, she values career advancement over fidelity to any particular set of political or moral values. And once she saw which way the winds were blowing, she became a die-hard Trump supporter. It worked; she was a high-ranking member of the campaign, and then a high-ranking member of the RNC, and then was Press Secretary, albeit one of the two or three worst in U.S. history. On the day of the insurrection, she was in tears, as many were. However, in contrast to most other people, her tears were not due to the damage being done to the country, or to the death of people like Officer Brian Sicknick. No, she thought the wagon she'd hitched her career to had just gone over the cliff, and the gravy train had reached its end. She was mourning the end of her career.

As it turns out, the insurrection was just a bump in Trump Road, and so McEnany's prospects quickly rose from the ashes. She's got a cushy job at Fox right now, but she also envisions a future where maybe she returns to the RNC, or she runs for political office (her home state is Florida), or she returns to Trump White House v2.0. And so, consistent with both her current duties and her imagined future opportunities, she has resumed her service as a walking pro-Trump propaganda mill. About half of what she does is gaslighting, trying to persuade all of us morons of things that are plainly false, like that there was no trouble at the border during the Trump years. And the other half of what she does is tear Joe Biden down while arguing how much better Trump was.

Because it is fuzzy where a former president's influence ends and a new president's influence begins, it's easy enough for McEnany to claim everything good that has happened in 2021 for Trump, and to blame everything bad on Biden. If the stock market goes up, it's Trump's doing. If gas prices go up, that's Biden's fault. If the vaccine reduces incidence of COVID nationwide, that's Trump. If a new variant breaks out due to unvaccinated people, then it's all Joe. And so forth.

She doesn't actually have any basis for these assertions, she just makes them reflexively based on the simple rule "Trump good, Biden evil." And she proved it for all the world to see this week, when she didn't pay close enough attention while doing some finger pointing on Twitter. Here's the message:

McEnany makes a snarky remark about murder
rates under Biden while retweeting a graphic showing increases and decreases in murder rates over the last 50 years; no year is much above
10% except for 2020, when the murder rate shot up 30%

You might notice that the broad trend is murder rates going up under Republican presidents, and going down under Democrats (7 years of decreases under Bill Clinton, 6 years of decreases under Barack Obama). More significant, however, is that the chart has no data about Joe Biden at all. It couldn't, since he's still in the midst of his first year in office. That grim 30% spike on the far right came in 2020, and thus was entirely under the leadership of one Donald John Trump. Oops. As you can imagine, McEnany was roasted on Twitter before deleting the tweet.

It can be infuriating to watch these bald-faced liars get away with it, since they're usually pretty good at keeping things vague, or else at spewing out the nonsense so fast that it's impossible to respond to it all (in other words, they Gish gallop). But when a person gets out their very own rope and ties their very own noose for all to see—like Ben Shapiro did on Andrew Neil's show, or like McEnany did here—then it's schadenfreude time. (Z)

Though the News Was Rather Sad...Well, I Just Had to Laugh

First of all, Otto the dachshund appears to be in fine spirits again. Here is a picture taken just a couple of hours before this post went live:

Otto the dachshund looks up at the camera, with a pleasant expression

Note, in particular, the wagging tail. Both (Z) and he are appreciative of all the well wishes sent in by readers. Also, because some folks asked, here is a recent picture of his friend and roommate Flash, who apparently never learned that you are supposed to flee the scene of the crime after committing multiple murders:

Flash the dachshund is surrounded by the remains, including stuffing, of about six dog toys he has destroyed

It was a frame-up, we tell ya. A frame-up.

In any event, the Beatles contest results are finished, but it's wordy. And this post is already unusually long (6,400 words without the Beatles stuff). If we combined the two, we would be well beyond the length where people start to complain. So, to fulfill our promise (at least in part), but also to keep things from growing beyond control, we'll give the answers today, and then the fun comments and the winners on Tuesday. Hope that is OK. Without further ado:

  1. The item "You Win Some, and You Newsom" includes "certain that it happens all the time" and "with a little help from," which both come from "With A Little Help From My Friends" (1967). Gotta get at least one song in there that has Ringo doing the lead vocals.

  2. The item "House Ways and Means Committee Has Decided on Means" has the phrase "there's one for you, nineteen for me," which is from "Taxman" (1966). We also had to have at least one George Harrison song.

  3. The item "Yang Apparently Has a New Gang" includes this bit: "one and one and one is three." That's from "Come Together" (1969). As we planned out the items for that day, this was the second one to acquire a Beatles reference, and made it "go time" for having a Beatles reference in every item.

  4. The section headers in the item "Woodward to Give Trump the Dick Treatment" were "When You Talk about Destruction," "Carrying Pictures of Chairman Mao," "You Say You'll Change the Constitution," and "People with Minds that Hate," all of which appear in both "Revolution" and "Revolution 1" (both 1968). We thought about trying to include a reference from "Revolution 9" (also 1968), but that seemed unduly difficult. (Z) was particularly pleased with how this one came out; it's one thing to get one reference into an item, but to get four in there, and to make them work as section headers is several degrees more difficult.

  5. The item "When The News Breaks--Today's News Media, Part III: Meghan McCain" includes the line "...working for the Daily Mail. It's a steady job, but she wants to be a paperback writer." That's from the song "Paperback Writer" (1966). In the song, the subject of that line is male, and so it's a "he" and not a "she." However, any five of the ten words before "she" and any five of the six words after are both correct answers. Several readers correctly guessed that this was the news item that started the ball rolling; as soon as (Z) heard that Meghan McCain was working for the Daily Mail, an item with a "Paperback Writer" reference was inevitable.

  6. The item "Nassib Has Three Tackles, One Sack in Raiders Win" includes "there will be an answer," which comes from "Let It Be" (1970). We also thought that one turned out to be very difficult, so we tossed a hint in at the end of the sentence, which read in full: "Maybe there will be an answer, or maybe Clark will just let it be."

  7. The item "(Back to the) Back to the Future: Reader Predictions, Part VI--Congress, the Legislation" had the phrase "learn how to play the game," which is from "All You Need Is Love" (1967). This was the hardest item to squeeze a reference into, since we couldn't rewrite people's predictions.

  8. The note announcing the contest also had a bonus reference, namely "want to hold your hand," from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1963). That gives us two songs that were legitimately co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (#1 and #8), three written primarily by Lennon (#3, #4, and #7), two that were written primarily by McCartney (#5 and #6), and one written primarily by Harrison (#2).

Answers and comments Tuesday! It's been a hard day's night, and we've been working like a dog (although not like Otto or Flash, because they never work). (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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