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The Slow-Moving Coup, Part IV: Six Crises, Vol. III

We are in the midst of careful consideration of the much-feared potential coup of 2024. Here are the first three entries:

We spent the last two days looking at the six elections in American history where the outcomes were seriously disputed after the ballots were in: 1800, 1824, 1860, 1876, 2000, and 2020. Today, we have 10 thoughts about what those six case studies suggest:

  1. There is a considerable difference between a coup and the U.S. Civil War. Yes, there are some parallels between antebellum America and the America of the 2020s, but those parallels are dwarfed by the differences. In particular, the violence, the tension, and the depth of feeling seen in the 1850s were all far more profound that what we see today. Further, the two sides in the Civil War were pretty cleanly sorted by geography, and the Southerners' goal after Abraham Lincoln's election was independence and not imposing a non-legitimate president on the entire country. So, the possibility of a coup is a discussion worth having. The possibility of civil war—and there are plenty of those pieces already out there—is not a discussion worth having, and is just needless hysterics.

  2. On the other hand, the Election of 1876 is clearly the model that the Trump faction envisions for 2024: Raise questions about numerous states' returns and then arrange for the Republican-controlled Supreme Court to figure it out.

  3. In the four elections where a should-be president's inauguration was derailed or seriously imperiled—Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden in 1876, and Al Gore in 2000—there was a serious failure on the parts of the candidates and their parties to prepare for all eventualities. Jefferson and Jackson were caught by surprise by their respective issues, while Tilden and Gore made poor tactical decisions once it was clear their should-have-been victory was in trouble.

  4. Meanwhile, the shouldn't-be presidents, or their parties, were generally quick to seize upon the opening that was presented to them and to ride it for all it was worth. Aaron Burr should have deferred, but didn't. John Quincy Adams might or might not have done some string-pulling, but Henry Clay certainly did. The Hayes campaign worked near-miracles, with many members pushing the law to (and possibly beyond) its breaking point in order to muddy up the result. The Bush-era Republican Party took near-instant action on election night to seize the narrative, and then backed their play at the Supreme Court (which was, of course, stacked in the Republicans' favor).

  5. Clearly there are weak spots in the American electoral system. In particular, the elections of 1800, 1824, 1876, and 2000 were all profoundly affected by the fact that the mechanics of the Electoral College are both complicated and somewhat poorly spelled out. There are a lot of chinks in that armor, some of which presented themselves by accident, others that were purposely exploited.

  6. The ballot box is another area of weakness—see the rooster ballots and the butterfly ballots.

  7. At the same time, there's a fairly narrow range of circumstances in which an election can be stolen (or nearly stolen). It has to be close, and there have to be real, evidence-based questions about the legitimacy of at least some of the results.

  8. Trump 2020 didn't come particularly close to clearing the bar for disputing and manipulating the election outcome. The Trumpers shouted until they were orange in the face, and they filed enough lawsuits to choke a horse, but there was no "there" there. It's not enough to declare that an election was fraudulent; you have to be able to back it up with something, and they couldn't.

  9. It is also possible to win the battle and lose the war. That is to say, at least two of the presidents who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat—Adams and Hayes—struggled to govern as many citizens doubted their legitimacy.

  10. In each of the three cases where the candidate who won, or probably won, was not inaugurated, they yielded to the result pretty quickly because they thought it was the right thing to do. You can add to that list Richard Nixon in 1960, who might also have been screwed out of a win, but was unwilling to precipitate a constitutional crisis. It is improbable that a Democrat in 2024 would be anywhere near so pliant, since the inauguration of Trump (or another uncomfortably-close-to-fascist president) is, almost regardless of the circumstances of the election, a constitutional crisis. The justification for standing down, then, just isn't there.

That's our take on the historical analogues. Next week, two more entries will conclude this series. Again, please don't move to the Bahamas until you've read them all. (Z)

Virginia Has Its Maps

As we noted yesterday, in our item on Michigan's new district maps, there's no rest these days for the folks doing this task (except in states where the work is already complete). After all, current and potential future officeholders need to make decisions about where, or if, they will run. And so, while pretty much everyone else in the world of politics is taking a weeklong breather, the cartographers are burning the midnight oil. The latest state to finalize its maps is Virginia.

Here's the old map (top) and the new map, per FiveThirtyEight:

In both maps, the state is very red along the western boundary
with West Virginia, and is somewhat red in the middle. On the old map, there was a light blue area in the north, a small dark blue area in the extreme northeast
centered on Alexandria, a large dark blue area in the southwest centered on Richmond and Norfolk, and a gray swing area along the southeastern coast and centered on
Virginia Beach. On the new map, there's still a light blue area in the north and a dark blue area around Alexandria in the northeast. However, there is now a large,
gray swing district below those where it was previously light red. On the other hand, while Richmond and Norfolk are still dark blue, the Virginia Beach district
that used to be gray and swingy is now light red.

Like Michigan, this was Virginia's first go-round with a newly created independent redistricting commission. However, when it comes to drama, the states are yin and yang. The Michiganders' commission did its work with all due speed and efficiency, and produced its maps with fairly minimal difficulty. However, those maps will produce an election cycle that is rather soap operatic, as there will be one (or possibly two) incumbent vs. incumbent primaries, and three (or possibly four) swingy general election contests.

In Virginia, by contrast, the map-drawing process did not go well. The independent commission deadlocked, and was unable to produce a satisfactory maps. That put the matter in the hands of the state Supreme Court, which came up with a map that is something of a yawner. Yes, there will be four swingy districts, but there were already four swingy districts. There will also be five very blue districts and two very red districts—also the same as the previous map.

Further, each current representative has a clear district in which to run, and there do not figure to be any incumbent vs. incumbent primaries. The person most likely to do some district shopping was Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), but her district (VA-07) will go from R+3 to D+2, so she's already announced she's staying put (even though she won't actually be a resident of the district anymore). Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) gets the bad news that her district (VA-02) will go from R+1 to R+6, but all the other Democratic districts have incumbents who are running for reelection, and she's surely better off remaining in place rather than trying to knock off an entrenched colleague.

At the moment, the Virginia delegation is 7D, 4R. There is little chance for the Democrats to improve on that; to do so would require winning a district that is R+15 or redder. It is entirely plausible that the blue team could hold on to their current majority, however. The Republicans' best-case scenario would be flipping both the Spanberger and Luria seats, leaving the state's delegation at 6R, 5D. More plausible is that the GOP just flips Luria's district, resulting in a 6D, 5R delegation. In any event, this continues the theme of "redistricting is not, by itself, going to shift the balance of the House all that much." (Z)

Trump's Transactional Endorsements

Like him or not, Donald Trump is clearly a disrupter. And these days, it would appear he is reinventing the endorsement game, treating his endorsements as assets to be leveraged. He's a businessman, or at least a "businessman," so it's not so surprising that he'd adopt a transactional, "here's what I want" approach to endorsing.

Now, before we continue, let us point out that Trump is certainly not the first person to engage in some level of endorsement horse trading. That's been going on for centuries. However, the usual arrangement is: "You endorse me for this office, and I'll endorse you for that office." Sometimes, the arrangement is: "You support this legislation, and I'll support your run for [X]." Maybe things get a little more Machiavellian behind the scenes, particularly in smoke-filled rooms, but the voting public rarely gets to see that.

There are two things that Trump is doing somewhat differently. The first is the sort of demands he's making, as he works to maximize his own power and also to settle the many, many scores he wants to settle. The second is making those demands very public, so everyone can see exactly what's going on. This lack of subtlety is not uncharacteristic for the man who almost singlehandedly turned the racist dog whistle into the racist bullhorn.

In North Carolina, for example, Trump has stuck his neck out pretty far, backing the ultra-Trumpy Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) for that state's open Senate seat. Former governor Pat McCrory (R) has much higher name recognition, is the preferred candidate of the Republican establishment, and is surely more electable. But he's not Trumpy enough, so no endorsement for him. Meanwhile, former representative Mark Walker (R) didn't get Trump's backing, but he's plenty Trumpy, and he is probably better known than Budd. Walker is squarely in third place in every poll of the race, but his profile means he's more likely to steal votes that would otherwise go to Budd than votes that would go to McCrory.

If Walker's candidacy proved just enough to derail Budd, that would embarrass Trump, because he would have ended up backing the wrong candidate. So, what's a Donald to do? He's offered to give Walker an enthusiastic endorsement... if Walker gets out of the Senate race and runs for the House instead. In other words, the former president made the former representative an offer he couldn't refuse.

Well, except that Walker might end up refusing it. The initial proposal was Trump's endorsement in exchange for dropping out of the Senate race and endorsing Budd. Walker, who hates Budd, made clear that the latter condition was a deal-breaker. So now it's just Trump's endorsement in exchange for dropping out of the Senate race. The problem is that Walker doesn't have a clear option in terms a district in which to run. His former district, NC-06, in which he still lives, is now D+10. That's part of the reason Walker left the House. The North Carolina maps are still up in the air, thanks to legal challenges, but even once they are finalized, Walker is likely to be left with one of two options: (1) run in the district he lives in, which is almost certain to be deep blue, or (2) run in a red district where he will have to face a Republican incumbent in the primary.

To take another example, there has also been some wheeling and dealing going on in Alaska. Heading into his 2022 reelection bid, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) wants—and very possibly needs—Trump's endorsement. Dunleavy is being challenged from the right by ultra-Trumpy state Rep. Christopher Kurka (R). Alaska's new all-party, open primary will be followed by a ranked-choice general election featuring the top four finishers from the primary. Depending on how things unfold, splitting the Trump vote could be just enough to let the Democratic candidate (currently former state representative Les Gara, though others could jump in) pull out a victory.

Trump's endorsement was available to Dunleavy—but at a price, of course. The offer: If Trump lends his support to the Governor, the Governor absolutely, positively cannot endorse... Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Trump, of course, hates her because she voted to convict him during the second impeachment trial. And on Thursday, Dunleavy made the deal. We know because Trump issued a statement laying out the terms, and quoting a message his office received from the Governor: "Please tell the President thank you for the endorsement. With regard to the other issue, please tell the President he has nothing to worry about."

Dunleavy, in other words, was trying to be at least a tiny bit discreet, but that strategy doesn't work so well when a person is counting on Donald Trump to also be discreet. In any event, there will undoubtedly be further demonstrations of the art of the (endorsement) deal this cycle. And don't you figure it's only a matter of time until Trump starts demanding cash payments in exchange for his endorsements? That seems the obvious next step. (Z)

How Will the History Books Remember 2021?

Apropos to the final day of the year, Politico has an article headlined "How Will the History Books Remember 2021?" The staff contacted 18 historians, and asked them to write a brief essay on the major storyline(s) of the year, as they see them. If this is your sort of thing, then consider reading the whole article. If nearly 10,000 words seems a bit much for you, though, then here is a summary of the five major themes:

  1. Democracy in Peril: This was, far and away, the most common subject to come up in the historians' mini-essays. It also would have been the subject of our mini-essay, if we had been asked. It's quite clear that "Stop the steal" and the 1/6 insurrection did serious damage to the democracy. For example, Stanford's David M. Kennedy writes:
    Despite its pathetic fatuity, the assault on the Capitol vividly highlighted the depths of alienation that afflicted tens of millions of citizens. To a striking degree, Americans had become distrustful people, with scant confidence in their institutions and waning trust in each other. As those grievously disaffected malcontents continued to stew in their resentments, delusions and disappointments, they sought ever more aggressive challenges to the norms, values and institutions that had sustained the republic for more than two centuries. A tribal political culture had emerged, polarizing the electorate and paralyzing the political system...
    What is unknowable at this point, of course, is how long the damage will last, and whether it will get worse.

  2. Racism Redux: An adjunct to the rise of unrestrained Trumpism is that racism has reared its ugly head in a profound and harmful manner. For example, Brenda Stevenson of UCLA and Oxford writes:
    2021 was the year that racialized health disparities finally made headlines with many studies indicating that racial and minority ethnic groups (Black, Latinx, American Indian/Native Alaskans) were twice as likely to die if they contracted Covid. It also was the year when Asian American/Pacific Islander hate crimes skyrocketed in part due to an unfounded belief that these communities were the "cause" of the pandemic. This exercise in hate tragically included the murder of six Asian American women in a mass shooting in Atlanta. Hate crimes against African Americans, always the most targeted, were up an additional 40 percent in 2021. Attacks against other racial and cultural minorities, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized peoples (immigrants, houseless, disabled, etc.) continued as well...
    Nearly all of the writers who touched on this theme noted, in particular, the targeting of Asian Americans.

  3. Whither Joe Biden?: The current president makes fewer appearances in the article than does his predecessor. And there are sharp disagreements about #46's significance. Meg Jacobs of Princeton offers a positive assessment:
    Biden's legislative accomplishments rivaled those of the New Deal. 2021's Great Depression was the Covid pandemic. And Biden revealed his grasp on the importance of government in a crisis. He promised early on, "shots in arms, money in pockets." Was his execution perfect? No. But then again, neither was Franklin Roosevelt's. It took several years before FDR got the Works Progress Administration off the ground, and unemployment did not return to pre-1929 levels for years. The New Deal was a radical departure in American policy, burying the laissez-faire approach once and for all. Biden's pivot came after generations of delegitimizing government effectiveness and a moment of intense polarization. So he could not champion his successes as loudly and boldly as did Roosevelt...
    Andrew Bacevich, currently of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is considerably less impressed:
    Even before Joe Biden completed a year in office, it had become apparent that his presidency was failing. Expectations that Biden would restore some sense of normalcy after the mindless tumult of the Trump interlude had enabled him to win the White House. Yet by the end of 2021, it was blindingly clear that the normalcy Americans took for granted was gone for good. This, Biden himself proved incapable of recognizing...
    We think that both of these assessments go a bit too far in their relative directions. That said, if you have to pick one to dismiss, Bacevich's salary is substantially paid for by the Kochs, which is never a promising indication.

  4. The Decline of American Leadership: There is a general consensus that the United States is slowly yielding its position as the leader of the free world. Mark Mazower of Columbia, for example, writes:
    American statesmanship had forged liberal internationalist institutions and norms over the past century—falteringly before the Second World War, more decisively after it. Events in 2021 suggested that this epoch was ending. An attempted right-wing putsch at the start of the year was one blow to the country's standing. Another was the Republican Party's refusal to stand up to the man chiefly responsible. The collapse of moderate conservatism in the USA compared strikingly with Germany where, later in the year, Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down. After 16 years in power, she had turned her country into the de facto leader of a unified Europe, the largest democratic bloc in the world...
    Of course, Donald Trump spent 4 years taking a sledgehammer to the foundations of American internationalism, and no president—not even Richard Nixon or Franklin D. Roosevelt—could reverse that in a single year. So, this storyline bears revisiting in a year or two.

  5. The Pandemic: The historians are not so much persuaded that the pandemic itself will the stuff of history books as much as its effects will be. For example, Claire Bond Potter's thoughts are presented under the subhead "The year we learned that education is infrastructure":
    What did Americans learn? When parents became remote or essential workers, they were also expected to be teachers' aides, revealing that underfunded schools were a critical component of an equally underfunded, and understaffed, American childcare system. When students appeared in class erratically, often on mobile phones, the country learned it had vast "internet deserts," affecting millions of Americans' ability to fully participate in society. It learned that many public school students, and presumably their parents, were so loosely attached to the educational system that an estimated 3 million simply disappeared. When teachers, already exhausted from 2020, quit or retired in record numbers (Florida, a state hammered by both Covid-19 and the culture wars, saw vacancies increase by more than 67 percent), the nation learned that school personnel were frontline workers, too. In 2021, Americans learned that what used to be the best school system in the world had bent and broken under a cultural and public health crisis—and that it was crucial infrastructure that had to be systematically rebuilt.
    Other contributors focused on the Great Resignation, civic discourse and, as per Stevenson above, the connection between the pandemic and racism.

"How will 2021 be remembered?" is a different question from "What is going to take place in 2022?", but the two are certainly complementary purpose, which is why the next item is... (Z)

Looking Forward: We Predict 2022

We continue looking backward at 2021 predictions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and looking ahead with 2022 predictions on Wednesdays and Fridays. Here are the entries thus far:

Today, a dozen guesses from us for what the next 365 days will bring:

  1. A version of Build Back Better will be passed, with a price tag in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

  2. As a result, Joe Biden's approval rating, per the FiveThirtyEight polling average, will be within 1 point of 50% on Dec. 31.

  3. Also as a result, the Democrats will increase the number of Senate seats they hold.

  4. The closest Senate race of the year will be in... Nevada

  5. At least one U.S. Senator will resign, leaving a replacement to finish their term.

  6. By the end of the year, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will no longer be the favorite to become the next Speaker.

  7. One among Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) will no longer be in office by the end of the year.

  8. Stacey Abrams will be elected governor of Georgia.

  9. At least two people in Donald Trump's near orbit will be sentenced to prison time.

  10. Trump's new social media platform will be a failure by any measure—profitability, audience size, reach. In particular, it will not give Trump what he wants: A means to share every thought that comes into his head with the entire country.

  11. British prime minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro will both be out of office by the end of the year in a double blow for right-wing populism.

  12. Prince Charles will assume the British throne, taking the regnal name George VII.

Hopefully, our 2022 crystal ball is less cloudy than our 2021 crystal ball was.

We will start running 2022 predictions from readers on Tuesday, so there's still time to send yours in. (V & Z)

Got to Admit, It's Getting Better, Part IV

Today, we conclude the series of reader responses to the question from C.S. in Linville, who was looking for advice and optimism in advance of their upcoming, and apparently unexpected, parenthood. Here are the responses that have run so far:

And now, the finale:

From T.S. in Bainbridge Island, WA: Congratulations. You're in for the ride of your life!

During our engagement almost 20 years ago, my fiancé and I were having dinner and she said to me, "Why don't you want to marry another doctor or a scientist?" I looked across the table at this lovely art history graduate from Stanford University who had abruptly walked away from a promising career to care for her ill mother. I said, "Do you want to marry a mirror or a window?". It's like that with kids, too. You might want a little buddy to go camping and rock climbing with. But he might want to just draw. Or you may want a daughter who likes dresses, but she might want to play drums and build computers. Embrace the mystery of the path they choose while guiding them, with love and patience, to become the best version of themselves. Oh, and watch this clip from Back to the Future a few times as the big day approaches.

From A.H. in Newberg, OR: Many years ago, my brother and his wife had their first child, a son. Alex was an active infant. While changing a diaper he rolled over and fell off the counter. My sister-in-law was in hysterics, and they cradled little Alex and raced to the hospital. In the ER, the doctor checked out the youngster, looked at my sister-in-law, and said: "He will be OK, they bounce." Hell hath no fury...

As the father of four, gramps to eight, and soon to be great gramps of one (and hopefully) several more, they are all amazing and you will be amazed at how resilient they are. You may guide them on their way a little, but they will explore and learn and teach you wonderful things about who they and you are. They are a joy to behold and beautiful creatures. The light of the world to come. They are our future. Take the time to enjoy them while you can, before you know it, they will be out of the house and off into a new world of their own to explore. Listen to Harry Chapin's "The Cat's in the Cradle" if you need advice.

From J.D. in Portland, OR: As a child psychiatrist and as a parent, I'm inspired to add a couple more bits of advice for C.S. in Linville.

To start, the level of democracy in a country has a profound effect on average individual happiness (as can be seen in how those wretched Canadians have bested the USA on measures of both), but it's still not necessarily enough of a reason to move to another country. In the meantime, aside from reading, a couple practical things that may be of help in the short term, that I highly recommend from both personal and professional experience: I could keep going, but being this prepared before birth for the first 7 years is a huge achievement. Parenthood often gets a little easier by that time, if you can reach that age in good shape.

Good luck and may your child have the strength and humanity to help all children inherit a much better democracy!

From K.P. in Resort, MI: God bless you, C.S. and your family. I am happy to respond to your question.

My oldest just had her birthday—and I remember that day 17 years ago vividly, BTW. My thoughts that year were similar to yours, what kind of world would she grow up in. I have absolutely want a better world for her than we have now. I'm not doing any analysis I am just completely compelled by that feeling.

I would like the politicians to be more responsible, I would like the teachers to be more responsible, the doctors and nurses, our relatives and neighbors. It is beyond my comprehension why any parent who experiences the birth of their child into this world to just accept as given that adults don't need to ever be uncomfortable. Or make a sacrifice. Or solve a problem, Or admit they could do a better job.

I was born into a fairly good world, as have been many Americans. I have no doubt we can offer future generations the same good start. Yet we certainly need to want it.

The Civil Rights Movement was great... for many educated people. Low taxes are just wonderful... if you make plenty of money. The global economy makes us all better off... unless it doesn't.

And climate change is important as a political wedge issue because... well, I've got nothing there.

My opinion is that the first step in a better life for our children is to expect more from our leaders. Political, business, education, the whole mob. We need better leaders so our children can have better lives.

I've been quoted in a different comment on this site, and The New York Times, and The Atlantic, and Automotive News and a few other outlets. Don't expect too much for your kids unless they get in back and start pushing.

Once your child is born, don't let anyone tell you that you are not important. I hope that the Monday after he or she arrives the President, and the Queen, and the Pope have a meeting to decide how they can do a better job to make the world better for your child. And every Monday after that.

You are about to become the most important person in the world to someone and they are right.

From R.P. in Gloucester City, NJ: My wife of 28 years and I fully expected to join the ranks of parents sometime in our life. It never happened. We survived. We sometimes get wistful around children and parents, but it hasn't destroyed us. Parenthood may be greatly enjoyable for humans, but lack of parenthood does not exclude you from humanity. Most parents seem to forget that, unfortunately. Please, new parents, don't forget your childless friends.

We hope that the future parents out there—C.S. and others—found this to be helpful in some way. And, of course, we hope that the entire readership got some enjoyment out of it. (Z)

A December to Rhymember (the Conclusion)

It is the last day of the month, and of the year, and the last of our series of politically themed poetry from readers. Here is what came before:

Today, let's start with a trifecta apropos to the holiday, with P.R.M. in Atlanta taking the lead:

When you think about poorly made sequels
This year has few rivals, no equals
Insurrections, near coups
Fast mutating flus
It has been more sour than treacle.

A gridlock has headlocked the Nation
We spend to keep up with inflation
The Build Better Bill
Up on Capitol Hill
Is considering self-strangulation
Moreover, I feel déjà vu'd
4th wave? Are you kidding me, dude?
So I still keep my mask on
To distance Omicron
And worry we're all fully screwed

And yet, some bright spots prevail
Faint billows of fair wind in sail
Vaccines are protectin'
Better than Ivermectin
And, hey! The Q-Shaman's in jail

(V) and (Z) I learn most from by far
More even than bright NPR
'Cause the fruits of their labors
Rhetorical sabers
Are charted by line, pie, and bar

So hip hip hooray and be gone
Lamentable Two-Aught Two-One
I don't pray but I hope
Near the end of my rope
That this sh** show was just a Black Swan

And from D.M. in Wimberley, TX:

At the risk of appearing too terse
I make my prediction in verse
Whatever you say
Come next New Year's Day,
It will certainly turn out much worse

Though the boldness of what I foresee
Gets a zero, yes, even from me
My "accurate" score
Will be well north of four
I mean, really, what else could it be?

And completing the trifecta is J.L. in Los Angeles, CA, whom we should probably hire as staff poet:

We parse the political news,
And occasionally share our two views
That USC sucks
And beware of Canucks
While our staff mathematician hits "snooze."

And we do this day in and day out,
So you won't have a reason to doubt
That you're better informed,
Much more than the norm,
Even if all this stress makes you shout!

But today put aside any qualm,
Take a breath, and try to be calm.
With this message from (V)
And his good buddy (Z):
Happy New Year from!

And let's finish where it all began, with this from D.M. in Asheville, NC:

There once was a Texan named Cruz
Whose persona was merely old news
With ambition so tall
And prospects so small
Poor Teddy just makes us all snooze

Please note that we got many hundreds of entries. Many of those were quite good and just didn't happen to fit the themes we ended up choosing (which were almost entirely unpredictable). Another issue is that we could only run so many Ted Cruz potshots.

In general, this seems to have been something that folks enjoyed. Should we consider making it an annual tradition? Maybe not limericks, specifically, but reader-composed political verse? After all, prose is not the only way to communicate useful ideas. We'd be happy to have feedback on that question. (Z)

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