Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2020 Senate: PA
GOP pickups vs. 2020 Senate : (None)
Political Wire logo GOP Confronts Divisions Posing Long-Term Threats
Senate Votes to Ban TikTok From Government Devices
Quote of the Day
What You May Have Missed
House Votes to Remove Bust of Dred Scott Decision Author
Trump Promises Major Announcement

Same-Sex Marriage Is the Law of the Land

The Senate was first to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, then the House. Yesterday, in a carefully staged and well-attended signing ceremony, President Joe Biden applied his Joe Hancock, making it official.

At the moment, all states (and D.C.) are required, per the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to issue same-sex marriage licences and to otherwise treat same-sex marriages the same as opposite-sex marriages. With yesterday's signing, states will still be required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, even if Obergefell if overturned. This means same-sex families don't have to cringe every time they open the newspaper, for fear of news that Clarence Thomas has gotten a bee in his robes.

Yesterday's signing was a bit of a bookend in two ways. The first is that it was exactly 10 years ago that then-VP Joe Biden went on TV and revealed his support for legalizing same-sex marriage. This was surely political theater, designed to pave the way for Barack Obama to reveal his support for legalizing same-sex marriage shortly thereafter. Still, it was a big moment in American political history, and it highlights how much things have changed in just one decade.

The ceremony was also a bookend for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). This will be the last piece of legislation from her tenure as speaker to be a big enough deal to have a signing ceremony. And she's not just a bystander; part of the ceremony is for the Speaker to apply her Nancy Hancock to the legislation (affirming it was passed by the House). Pelosi's very first speech on the House floor, back in 1987, was to call out the Reagan administration for ignoring the AIDS crisis and to plead with her colleagues to take action. So, she came in fighting for LGBTQ people and she'll go out fighting for LGBTQ people.

Naturally, what we are interested in, going forward, is the political impact. There are many Republican members of Congress who are very unhappy with this legislation. For example, many readers will have seen the clip of Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) crying on the floor of the House as she pushed back against the bill (her gay nephew, who criticized her for this, was present for yesterday's ceremony). Anyhow, we have no doubt that some of these Republican members (though not Hartzler, who is retiring) will use the bill to try to rally their voters in 2024. However, support for legalizing same-sex marriage is up to about three-quarters of the American public, so that approach will only work in very red districts that are never going to go blue anyhow.

On the other side of the aisle, however, we suspect this will be something of a big deal. It's easily distilled into a sound bite ("We saved gay marriage") and it's an issue that connects with progressives and with young voters, two groups that the Democratic Party is always trying to rally to the banner. So, our guess—just an instinctive one, mind you with no data to support it as yet—is that this bill will benefit the blue team much more than it does the red team. (Z)

Republican Voters Want Donald Trump in 2024. Unless They Don't.

Yesterday, two polls on the 2024 Republican presidential contest were released. The first, from Morning Consult, makes it clear that Donald Trump remains at the top of the heap when it comes to Republican voters. The poll says that 49% of them want Trump as their 2024 standard bearer, as compared to 31% for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and 8% for former VP Mike Pence. None of the other candidates that Morning Consult asked about polled above 2%, and the candidate that GOP pooh-bahs in the Senate are pushing, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) polled at a robust 0.0%.

The second poll was from USA Today/Suffolk. This one makes clear that when it comes to Republican voters, Trump is... in deep doo-doo. In this case, respondents were only given two options: Trump or DeSantis. And the Governor came out on top, big-time: 56% to 33%. To review, then, two polls released on the same day, and run over the same timeframe (Dec. 7-11), produced results of Trump +18 and DeSantis +23. That is a difference of 41 points.

Huh? What is going on here? Every poll has a margin of error, of course, and sometimes a pollster gets a wonky sample. But those things cannot explain a 41-point differential. It does not help that most of these pollsters are not releasing their list of questions, so it's hard to look carefully at their methodology. That said, there appear to be at least three factors in the odd results:

  1. Wording Matters: Though we don't know exactly how the above polls were presented to respondents, it's pretty clear from the write-up that USA Today/Suffolk steered readers into deciding between "Trump with Trumpy-policies" versus "Not Trump, but with Trumpy policies." In other words, a non-realistic scenario that completely removes the risk that DeSantis (or some other Republican) is pretending to be Trumpy, but really isn't. Of course the Governor is going to get more support in a scenario where there is no risk of buyer's remorse.

  2. Anyone But Trump: Trump clearly commands the loyalty of more Republican voters than any other candidate. However, it would appear that his support is below 50%, and may be below 45% or even 40%. So, if all the anti-Trump vote is forced to line up behind one candidate, he gets much weaker. If the anti-Trump vote is allowed to splinter, he's a world-beater.

  3. Holding-their-nose Trump Voters: It's so long until the 2024 primaries, and DeSantis is still enough of an unknown, that many voters don't really know what they will actually do when it comes time to cast their ballots. However, the numbers suggest that some Trump support is coming from people who think he has the best chance to win, and will hold their noses and vote for him on that basis. If DeSantis (or some other candidate) can make the case that they have the best chance to win, Trump figures to lose those voters.

There's plenty of time for things to change, particularly as Trump's legal problems do or do not produce indictments, and DeSantis' national profile grows or wilts. However, as a thought exercise, let us imagine that it is December 2023 and the Republican primaries are right around the corner. Here is what the primaries would look like, based on these numbers:

  1. Trump would be challenged by DeSantis and a bunch of delusional Republicans like Pence and Nikki Haley.

  2. With the anti-Trump vote split, the former president would win the first several primaries. Given the Republicans' preference for winner-take-all, he would build up a delegate lead. Assuming the calendar remains the same, and that Trump swept the first four primaries/caucuses, he would head into Super Tuesday with about 100 delegates, still well short of the 1,100 or so needed to win.

  3. Heading into Super Tuesday, and its 600 delegates, the anti-Trump forces would need the other Republicans to drop out and for the anti-Trump vote to coalesce around one candidate (DeSantis or otherwise). If this came to pass, the non-Trump candidate would probably finish Super Tuesday on relatively equal footing with The Donald.

  4. However, delusional politicians usually don't drop out before Super Tuesday, just in case there's a miracle. In 2016, for example, Super Tuesday dawned with six candidates still in the Republican race: Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, John Kasich and Jeb! If that were to be repeated in 2024, Trump would likely take the lion's share of Super Tuesday delegates, and would finish Super Tuesday with a 300-400 delegate lead.

  5. Whether before or after Super Tuesday, the field would eventually narrow to Trump and the not-Trump candidate. The not-Trump candidate would likely be a little more popular, but Trump would have a delegate lead, possibly a somewhat substantial one. Regardless of how quickly the non-Trump field was winnowed down, it would be plausible for both Trump and the non-Trump candidate to stay in for the long haul, as each of the two would win some primaries and would lose some primaries. There's an excellent chance that a knock-down, drag-out fight could linger into May or June, particularly given Trump's unwillingness to accept defeat, even when he's defeated.

In short, if the Republican primaries were just weeks away, things would likely get ugly for the Republican Party. No wonder the Party leadership is already trying to push some alternate candidate, as a long and bitter primary season would be disastrous for the GOP. After all, Trump voters in particular are exactly the type to hold grudges. (Z)

'Tis the Season for Gubernatorial Stunts, Apparently

It's been several weeks since an upwardly mobile Republican governor attempted an "own the libs" stunt. Nature hates a vacuum, it would seem, because two of them—Ron DeSantis and Doug Ducey (R-AZ)—are in the headlines right now due to some high-profile political theater.

Starting with DeSantis, he must be looking at the Trump vs. DeSantis polls and not liking what he's seeing. So, the Governor decided to return to an old favorite: the culture wars, as manifested in the battle over COVID-19. He actually did two things yesterday. The first was go to the Florida Supreme Court, and ask them to empanel a grand jury to investigate "any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to COVID-19 vaccines." The second was to announce the creation of a "public health integrity committee." That committee's job is going to be to push back against anything and everything that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says and does.

We struggle to see any positive good that will come out of these actions. The grand jury, should it be empaneled, isn't going to come up with anything criminal. On the other hand, its existence will certainly encourage people in the health business to think twice about whether they want to make their careers in Florida. If you were, say, an OB/GYN, and you were weighing offers from Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami and Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, why on earth would you go to the state where people who administer vaccines and/or perform abortions are at risk of being prosecuted? As to the anti-CDC committee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are about the least political element of the federal government. Muddying the waters, and casting doubt on the public health professionals' recommendations, is going to mean just one thing: more people will get sick (some of whom will die). We say again: Ron DeSantis is a very dangerous man.

Ducey, meanwhile, is about to leave office. However, he has future political aspirations; he may be eyeing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's (I-AZ) seat, or he may try to reclaim his current job once he's sat one term out (as required by Arizona law). If Ducey is going to leave voters with a stunt for voters to remember him by, he's running short on time. And so, declaring a "border crisis," he's been spending Arizonans' tax money hand over fist to build a "border wall." And by "border wall" we mean a line of shipping containers, stacked two high, with razor wire running along the top.

This whole arrangement is, to use a technical term, stupid. Ducey's "wall," if it is completed, will cover a grand total of 10 miles. And it's 10 miles with large gaps therein, as it's only possible to stack the containers on relatively flat ground. Not all of the land along the border is flat enough. Oh, and the land Ducey is using does not belong to Arizona, it belongs to the federal government. The Biden administration has told the governor to knock it off, and at least one local sheriff has threatened to start arresting construction workers if they venture into his county. And the cost for all of this? Nearly $100 million.

One wonders if the Republican voters who cheer stunts like these will ever grow weary of "governance" that lacks substance and that is, quite often, actively harmful. If so, it apparently won't be anytime soon, as indicated by DeSantis' landslide reelection win last month. (Z)

McCarthy's Got Troubles

Can you remember the last time Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a serious disagreement? We can't. Surely those two were not always on the same page, because how could they be? But whenever they disagreed, they clearly managed to keep that behind closed doors and to eventually work it out, so that the larger world was none the wiser.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) isn't even speaker yet (and may never be), and he's already feuding with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell has been at this for a very long time, and sees shutting the government down as a loser for the GOP. So, he has made clear, in private, that he would like to work out a deal to keep everything funded. McCarthy went on Fox to openly and loudly criticize that plan. The Kentuckian is used to dealing with these kinds of disputes behind closed doors, and not on primetime cable TV, and was reportedly blindsided by the whole thing. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words; take a look at this one of McConnell and McCarthy from yesterday:

Kevin McCarthy addresses reporters, while McConnell is
walking away with a nasty scowl on his face

You don't need a body language expert to know that McConnell is not a happy fellow.

This is not the first time the two minority leaders have not been on the same page, and it's not likely to be the last time. Ultimately, the primary concern of Pelosi and Schumer, and of McConnell, is their political party as a whole. McCarthy's primary concern is his own power, which he can only hope to maintain by kowtowing to the fringy elements of the GOP. And so, he and his counterpart on the other side of the building will often fail to see eye-to-eye, and certainly won't have as successful a partnership as Pelosi and Schumer.

And speaking of kowtowing to the fringy elements, it's becoming clear what the price will be if McCarthy wants enough votes to become speaker. This has been hinted at for months, but it is now out in the open that what the MAGA folks want is the adoption of a very liberal (no pun intended) "motion to vacate" rule. For a long time, once a speaker was in place, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Then, about 8 years ago, some tea party-types discovered that the rules allowed a single member to bring a motion to boot the speaker from their position. Shortly thereafter, John Boehner became victim of this "insight."

When the Democrats gained control of the House, they changed the rule. At the moment, a motion to vacate can only be brought by a party leader (i.e., the House Minority and Majority Leaders), and even then it requires a majority vote of that leader's caucus. That means, as a practical matter, that it takes 90+ votes for a motion to vacate, and to trigger a new election for speaker. The MAGA crew wants that number to be reset back to one, which would mean that Damocles' sword would be constantly hanging over McCarthy's head. He is apparently going to counter with an offer to set the number needed for a motion to vacate at 20 or 30, which is far less than 90+ but far more than one. If the MAGA members insist on their position, then McCarthy will probably give in, because he wants the speakership so bad he can taste it. But then he'd be bent even further over the MAGA barrel, which in turn would make his relationship with Mitch McConnell even more tenuous. Why does McCarthy want this job, again? (Z)

It's a Conspiracy!, Part I: Hunter Biden's Laptop

Almost every week, we get a couple of e-mails from readers asking us to explain the Hunter Biden laptop situation. Kevin McCarthy has big plans on that front, some of which he just shared with The New York Post The Post, for those who don't know, is the outlet that has been on this story like white on rice, sort of like The Washington Post and Watergate. In any case, it would seem an appropriate time to give an overview of the situation, along with our views on the matter.

It is helpful, we think, to think of this story as having three (or possibly four) different elements. Here they are:

  1. The Laptop: On April 12, 2019, a person who identified themselves as Hunter Biden, and who knew Biden's cell phone number, and whose signature looks like Biden's, presented themselves at a computer repair shop owned by John Paul Mac Isaac. This customer had several water-damaged laptops, one of which was so far gone that the only possibility was to salvage the data contained on its hard drive. The customer signed a document in which they agreed to pay $85 for data recovery from this machine. This same document made clear that if the equipment was not claimed within 90 days, it would be forfeit.

    Mac Isaac performed the data recovery, and took notice of some of the files on the machine. There was a large cache of homemade pornography. There were a bunch of non-pornographic photos. There were over 100,000 e-mails. Mac Isaac is a devoted Trumper, a conspiracy theorist, and someone who regards himself as a patriot. He says he was "concerned" about some of the material he saw on the hard drive. After completing the work, he called the cell phone number left by the customer and said the job was done. The laptop was never picked up, and so it eventually became Mac Issac's property (though it was eventually seized by the FBI). He also shared copies of the data with contacts in the Republican Party, which was almost certainly illegal.

    As is presumably clear from this narrative, there is some debate about whether the customer really was Hunter Biden, and whether this really was his laptop. Given Mac Isaac's politics, and his less-than-ethical behavior here, there is some reason to doubt his veracity. On the other hand, there's pretty strong evidence that the customer was indeed Biden and that the laptop was his. Most obviously, it would be very difficult to fake that much data (and that much porn) that clearly includes Biden's personal information, his image, etc. Further, in April 2019, he was in the midst of a crack-fueled bender, during which he was traveling up and down the east coast. He cannot say where he was on April 12; it's entirely plausible he was in Delaware, and it's even plausible he doesn't remember being in the repair shop or dropping off a laptop. Our sense, based on the evidence, is that it was indeed Hunter Biden and that it is indeed his laptop.

  2. The Data: Mac Isaac had the data from the laptop for about a year as he tried to get high-ranking Republicans interested in it. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among others, did not respond to messages. Eventually, Mac Isaac managed to connect with Robert Costello, who often represents Rudy Giuliani. Costello got a copy of the data, and then gave a copy to Giuliani. The two men schemed about how to weaponize the data, and eventually shared copies with many right-wing media figures while announcing the existence of the data at the now-infamous Four Seasons press conference, roughly two weeks before the election. In contrast to Hillary Clinton's e-mails in 2016, the Hunter Biden news had virtually no impact in 2020.

    One does not have to be a computer scientist to recognize that this data cache is now... unreliable. Recall that the FBI has the actual laptop, and so everyone involved is working with copies. And those copies have not only been duplicated and re-duplicated, they've been reorganized by some of the people in the chain of custody. "The forensic quality of this thing is garbage" said one expert, while another called it a "forensic mess." There is little question that some, and probably most, of the data once belonged to Hunter Biden. But all of it? That's not as clear; the potential for someone unfriendly to sneak a few troublesome things in among the dross is high. In fact, after the story broke, more than four dozen former intelligence officials signed a letter sharing their view that the whole thing had the feel of a Russian disinformation operation.

    Our assessment—and, of course, we haven't seen the data—is that it's not a Russian disinformation operation and that there isn't anything that's been included in the data post hoc. We base that conclusion primarily on two things. The first is that The New York Times got a copy of the data, and paid someone to do a forensic analysis, and that person expressed cautious confidence that the data hadn't been tinkered with. The second is that if Republican or Russian operatives were going to plant evidence, they surely would plant something more damning that what's come out. More on that below.

  3. The President: Hunter Biden is, and always has been, a private citizen. And so, what he does in his private life has no relevance to the country unless it also involved problematic behavior by his father. Republican operatives, and their allies in the media, have tried mightily to make this case. And the "smoking gun" that they've come up with is this e-mail from Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi found on the laptop:
    Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It's realty [sic] an honor and pleasure. As we spoke [sic] yesterday evening, would be great to meet today for a quick coffee. What do you think? I could come to you [sic] office somewhere around noon or so, before or on my way to the airport. Best, V
    Any other e-mails that may have been in this chain, including a response, if there was one, have not been found.

    Assuming that one is comfortable with the conclusion that the laptop was really Hunter Biden's and that the data therein is legitimate, then this message is basically the whole case against the President. Readers can reach their own conclusions, but this looks very, very thin to us. There's nothing in the e-mail that suggests the meeting with Joe Biden was anything beyond a polite handshake situation. There's certainly nothing that supports the conclusion the President engaged in corrupt behavior on the part of his son. And we are not the only ones who sense that there is no "there" there. The McCarthy news we allude to above is that he announced a plan to subpoena and grill the intelligence officials who signed the "this might be Russian disinformation" letter. If that isn't grasping at straws, with an eye towards dragging this thing out, we don't know what is.

  4. The Media "Cover-up": The three elements above are the heart and soul of the laptop "scandal." However, in an effort to create the general perception of corruption, some right-wing types, including McCarthy, have also spent much time carping that the media buried the story because they were/are in the bag for a Democratic president.

    There are really two elements to this. First, recall that the news, such as it is, first broke just two weeks before the presidential election. The original laptop was not then, and never has been, available to the media to examine. The people with firsthand knowledge of the data—Mac Isaac, Costello and Giuliani—all had motivation to misrepresent the facts, and the latter two were making broad assertions about Joe Biden that remain unsupported to this day. The serious media have to be very careful about what they print, because their good names and reputations are on the line. And under the circumstances of October 2019, this story just wasn't solid enough to run with.

    Over time, the evidence mounted that the laptop and data were probably real. But that took many months, under the circumstances. And once it was clear that there was at least some smoke here, the various media covered the story extensively. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have published more than a dozen articles on the subject, not including opinion pieces. That's actually quite a lot since there's not all that much here to work with. We're not talking the Pentagon Papers.

There you have it: An overview, plus our take. Launching 20 investigations into the laptop, and subpoenaing every person who ever wrote an op-ed about it, might be excellent red meat for the Republican base. However, it is nearly impossible that this story will ever become more than that. Again, Giuliani & Co. have had abundant motivation and opportunity to share incriminating dirt, if they've got it. If they "discover" a new "smoking gun" or ten now, everyone will wonder why it took so long, and will suspect—with good reason—that the new evidence has been conjured out of thin air.

On Thursday, we'll look at the new semi-companion to the Biden laptop story, namely Elon Musk's "Twitter Files." (Z)

The Word Cup, Part VII: The Fight for Equality

We're well behind the schedule of the actual World Cup, but that was always part of the plan. This is the second-to-last group of contenders to be revealed; the last set will be unveiled on Thursday. Here are the entries in the series so far:

And now, four slogans from movements that sought equality:

A sign, held by someone standing behind MLK Jr., says 'We Shall Overcome

We Shall Overcome (1946-47): "We Shall Overcome" was, and is, a gospel song that dates back to the early 1900s. It was embraced as an anthem by elements of what would become the Civil Rights Movement in 1945, shortly after World War II ended. And the phrase was in use as a slogan by 1946 or 1947, although it did not become widely known until the late 1950s.

The slogan was a key part of the fabric of the Movement; it was chanted at the March on Washington in 1963 and at the Bloody Sunday march in 1965. Lyndon Johnson used it in speeches, and Martin Luther King Jr. built the final sermon he ever delivered around it. It was also adopted by other protest movements, sometimes as-is, sometimes with appropriate adaptations (e.g., the Mexican American version was "Nosotros Venceremos").

It is a little bit difficult to disentangle the impact of the song from the impact of the slogan, but beyond that, given the profound impact of the Civil Rights Movement, this one has the potential to go far.

A rainbow banner says 'We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It

We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It! (1969): We did not arrange things so that this entry in the series would run on the day Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act (see above), it just worked out that way. In any case, the 1960s were a different time when it came to LGBTQ Americans, and in that decade, the police in New York City were in the habit of raiding gay bars and arresting everyone therein on morals charges.

On June 28, 1969, the po-pos commenced what should have been a garden-variety raid on the Stonewall Inn. On this occasion, however, the gay patrons decided they'd had enough, and they resisted, sometimes violently. This launched two days of protests, at which participants chanted "We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It!" The Stonewall Rebellion, as it came to be known, is regarded as the starting point for the modern LGBTQ+ equality movement. And the slogan helped give the burgeoning movement a clear sense of the attitude it would adopt.

A pin says 'Si, se puede'

¡Sí, se puede! (1972): As we have noted a couple of times in this series, the origins of some slogans can be hard to nail down. Not so here. In 1972, Gov. Jack Williams of Arizona threw his weight behind legislation that would have devastated the local chapters of the United Farm Workers (UFW). UFW leader Cesar Chavez headed to Arizona to discuss the matter with Williams. When Williams refused a request to meet, Chavez launched a hunger strike with an eye toward getting the Governor recalled. It did not work, but during the hunger strike (which lasted 25 days), Chavez' partner-in-activism Dolores Huerta came up with the phrase "¡Sí, se puede!" It's usually translated as "Yes, we can!" although the UFW prefers "Yes, it can be done!"

The UFW was reaching the height of its influence in 1972, and Huerta's phrase served to rally the troops on many an occasion. In fact, it still does. Further, as with "We Shall Overcome," "¡Sí, se puede!" has been borrowed by outsiders for their own purposes. It was a little tacky when AeroMexico tried to trademark the phrase and use it as a marketing slogan (the airline was shamed out of doing so). It was considerably less tacky when Barack Obama adopted one of the English-language versions, "Yes, we can!" as his campaign slogan in both 2004 (for the U.S. Senate) and 2008.

A woman holds a sign that says 'Black Lives Matter'

Black Lives Matter (2013): Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi organized the the Black Lives Matter Network in 2013, building their slogan right into the name of the (extremely decentralized) organization and movement. The slogan achieved wide recognition after several incidents of police violence, and the counter-protests they engendered, particularly the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 and the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Black Lives Matter, both the movement and the slogan, managed to cause a fairly substantial reckoning for some Americans when it comes to the ongoing problems of racism and racial equality. However, the most compelling illustration of the efficacy of the phrase may be the reactions it generated. Quite a few people have been left foaming at the mouth by their resentment of Black Lives Matter; that gave us both Blue Lives Matter and White Lives Matter. It also gave us Kyle Rittenhouse and other violent counter-reactionaries. We struggle to think of a slogan that triggered a more profound backlash than this one.

The latest ballot is here. If you have comments on this group of slogans, and why you voted as you did, send 'em in. (Z)

A December to Rhymember, Part VIII: Ronald Weaselly

We have so many Ron DeSantis poems, we pretty much have to use any excuse to run them. As you can see above, he was much in the news yesterday, so here's a submission from A.S. in Bedford, MA:

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida
Had a reputation for being quite honorless
He "owned the libs" with glee
But didn't care for the LGBTQ
All in all, not a man with much charisma.

You will note that none of these lines rhyme. That is because the poem was written by a chat bot. A.M.'s instruction: "I would like you to write a limerick about Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. Some qualities of Ron's are: he's smug, he's mean and he doesn't have empathy for gay people. His favorite activity is to 'own the libs.' I don't like Ron, so don't make him seem cool."

A.M. observes that "Not a single line rhymes correctly, and yet the AI's final assessment is spot on."

And how about this from T.H. in Edmonton, AB, Canada:

There once was a man named Ron
Whose words were quite often a con
He spoke with a smirk
And was quite the jerk
But the people of Florida still voted him on

This was also written by a bot. By the same bot, in fact (ChatGPT). For this one, obviously, the bot got the rhymes right.

That's it for today. If you have submissions, we're happy to get them. (Z)

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.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec13 Biden Establishes Antisemitism Task Force
Dec13 Republicans Coming to Jesus on Mail-in Voting...
Dec13 ...But They Still Suck at E-mail
Dec13 Tim Scott for President?
Dec13 Victory Has Many Fathers, Defeat Is an Orphan... Especially in Congress
Dec13 Braun, Ricketts Make It Official
Dec13 Special Election for McEachin's Seat Is Set
Dec13 A December to Rhymember, Part VII: Oh Ye, of Little Faith
Dec12 Arizona in 2024
Dec12 The Trump Organization Conviction Is Going to Have Fallout
Dec12 Howard Dean: I Support the New Primary Schedule
Dec12 The Budget: A Game of Chicken
Dec12 Brittney Griner Joins the Culture Wars
Dec12 Is Kari Lake Running for Vice President?
Dec12 Latinos Are Not Deserting the Democrats
Dec12 No to Joe and Don
Dec12 Originalism Is Dying
Dec12 A December to Rhymember, Part VI: Putting the "Sin" in "Sinema"
Dec11 Sunday Mailbag
Dec10 Saturday Q&A
Dec09 A Slam Dunk for Biden?
Dec09 Sinema Jumps Ship
Dec09 Contempt for Trump
Dec09 German Coup Foiled
Dec09 Ocasio-Cortez Faces Ethics Probe
Dec09 The Word Cup, Part VI: Presidential Campaigns, from World War II to the End of the 20th Century
Dec09 A December to Rhymember, Part VI: An Epic Win
Dec09 This Week in Schadenfreude: Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?
Dec09 This Week in Freudenfreude: Tooling around Chicago
Dec08 Takeaways from Georgia
Dec08 Why Did Walker Lose?
Dec08 The Runoff Polls Did Quite Well
Dec08 Supreme Court Tackles the Supreme Question: Democracy
Dec08 DeSantis Is Selling Tickets to His Inauguration for Up to $1 Million
Dec08 Classified Documents Found in Trump's Storage Unit
Dec08 Can Trump Be Stopped?
Dec08 Are Young Governors the Future of the Democratic Party?
Dec08 A December to Rhymember, Part V: Herschel, We Hardly Knew Ye
Dec07 Walker Fumbles Away Georgia Senate Seat
Dec07 Coming to You in January 2023: Biden 2024
Dec07 Trump Organization Goes 0-for-17
Dec07 Capitol Police Snub Republican Leaders
Dec07 McCarthy Has a Challenger...
Dec07 ...And So Does Ronna Romney McDaniel, Apparently
Dec07 The Word Cup, Part V: Reactionary Slogans
Dec07 A December to Rhymember, Part IV: Walker, Texas Resident
Dec06 Today's the Day
Dec06 Is a Website Like a Cake?
Dec06 Arizona Certifies the Election Winners
Dec06 Potential 2024 Republican Senate Candidates Are Starting to Rev Up