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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

We got a lot of responses to our question about the three core elements of Trumpism. Those will appear later this week. For now, it's the 1/6 Committee, guns, Boris Johnson, and other delights.

Hearing Voices

A.R. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: The opening session of the Jan. 6 committee was nothing short of jaw-dropping. It was just as disturbing as I thought it would be, but it was also revelatory. I was so grateful that they laid the entire blame for the near-success of this coup attempt squarely at Donald Trump's feet. It's about time!

But among the many important pieces of evidence revealed, one aspect hasn't gotten as much attention as it should. One clip, a seeming non-sequitur, showed Gen. Mark Milley talking about Mike Pence's decisiveness in ordering the national guard and other troops to move in. Why was Pence giving this order? Meanwhile, the next clip showed Milley saying that his conversation with the White House was about changing the narrative that Trump wasn't in charge. Was that because for a period of time Trump wasn't in charge? How did that happen?

There's more there, but that has, so far, been glossed over by nearly everyone.

P.M. in Port Angeles, WA (formerly Simi Valley), writes: I offer that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has these ulterior motives for her pursuance of TFG and the insurrectionists: (1) despising, (2) legitimacy and (3) regracing. I suspect that Dick the father absolutely despises Donald Trump on many levels, including Trump as an incompetent businessman, an incompetent politician, and an incompetent media personality, not to mention being a sexual predator. He may also question the legitimacy of Trump's tenure as president, since in essence Trump stole the election in a manner inconsistent with standard American politics (i.e., via foreign intervention rather than by abuse of defined constitutional powers). Finally, there is the desperate need to expunge the blatant misdeeds of the sire and reestablish the righteousness of the Chaney family name.

Now, I applaud Liz's work here, but I suspect she is doing the right things for the wrong reasons. We should applaud her actions, but maintain a circumspect view of her motives. Therefore, I beseech Wyoming Democrats to support her reelection to send this messages: Bipartisanship is alive and the Democrats will support the opposition when it does the right thing, even if they acknowledge that the opposition will not support them on virtually all of their platform planks. Sometimes, recognizing patriotic action for the good of the country supersedes political differences.

M.M. in San Diego, CA, writes: After watching Liz Cheney deliver her opening statement for the Jan. 6 Committee hearing, I think any Wyoming Republican who doesn't want to vote for her is a delusional halfwit.

B.H. in Southborough, MA, writes: It should be noted that as part of Fox's "coverage" of the Jan. 6th hearings, they went commercial free for all of Carlson, Hannity and part of Ingraham's show. Obviously they didn't want any channel flipping, since literally any other channel the Fox viewer might land on had the damaging hearings blasting. How much did this cost them? One has to assume that the bottom line is all that matters to Fox—they left their morals at the door long ago in favor of cultivating a fanatical, gullible, yet advertiser-desirable demographic.

Pleading the Second

C.L. in Boulder, CO, writes: S.L. in Glendora asked if guns have ever done anything to increase the freedom of the people. By chance, I've just finished reading This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, by Charles E. Cobb Jr. He argues that guns in the South kept the white supremacists at bay and allowed Black Southerners to defend their homes. The nonviolent marchers for civil rights often had armed supporters in the wings. However, the civil rights activists didn't typically use their guns against the government, which had superior firepower; rather, the activists defended themselves against the KKK when the local and federal government just stood by and did nothing to help. A fascinating read!

P.R. in Arvada, CO, writes: You wrote about the opposition that the Democrats face when trying to pass any kind of meaningful gun control legislation. I think you missed out the Republican Party Legislation Support Decision Tree:

Would I need to make a sacrifice? Yes -> Oppose
No -> Would someone who gives me money have to make a sacrifice? Yes -> Oppose
No -> Would the base have to make a sacrifice? Yes -> Oppose
No -> Would it own the libs? Yes -> Support
No -> Await further instructions from dear leader.

Note: The sizes of the sacrifice or the gain from the sacrifice are irrelevant.

M.B. in Austin, TX, writes: I saw the piece from the Texas Marine about Uvalde, which observed that the reason the children could not be identified is because they were shot in the head. This is not necessarily true.

I have done presentations on Active Shooter Survival on a national scale and I feel that the readers of this site need to understand the difference between an AR-15 and a handgun (say, a 9mm handgun). If you are shot in the thigh with a 9mm round and it hits your femur, the bullet will break your femur and bounce out, there will be an entrance and exit wound of roughly the same size. The .223 round that comes from an AR-15 is traveling three times as fast. When that bullet hits your femur, about three inches of your bone will turn to dust. There will be a small entrance wound, but the exit wound will be the size of a grapefruit.

When this gun is used against a body the size of a child, the body is literally dismembered. In the Orlando Pulse shooting, the fatalities were shot an average of 4.5 times. For some of the police officers responding to a mass shooting with this weapon, this will be the last call they ever make due to the carnage they are exposed to. The police are scared of this weapon and with good reason, as that bullet will penetrate conventional body armor unless the vest has ballistic plates. The ballistic plates are cumbersome and heavy and generally only used in a SWAT situation. There are approximately 20 million AR-15s, or their equivalent, in the U.S.

T.O. in Portland, OR, writes: You wrote: "For over a century, New York State has had a law that limits the concealed carry of guns to persons over 21 who have a specific defense need."

This is an inaccurate summation of New York State's pistol licensing law (a.k.a. The Sullivan Act). The law requires "proper cause" for the issuance of a concealed carry license but does not define what that means. It is entirely at the whim of the licensing officer (County Court Judge outside of NYC, NYPD within the city) to decide what "proper cause" means and whether the applicant has it or not.

The consequence of this vagueness is a patchwork of different policies based on the personal feelings of each licensing officer. There are maps online which divide the State into green/yellow/red counties based on ease of obtaining an unrestricted license. They do not neatly follow the rural/(sub)urban red/blue divide you might assume. Rochester and Buffalo are both in "green" counties. The rural North Country has "yellow" and "red" counties.

An objective reader should be able to see that this system is arbitrary at best. Albany would have done the country a favor by cleaning up this 110+ year old law before we got to this point. The writing was on the wall a decade ago when Illinois' concealed carry ban was struck down. Now we've got a reactionary SCOTUS majority that seems unlikely to issue a narrow ruling confined to "proper cause."


G.T.M. in Vancouver, BC, Canada, writes: Back in the 1930s and (very) early 1940s there was an organization in the U.S. that advocated letting a brutal dictator take whatever part of the world (except in the Americas) he wanted to take and letting the rest of the "free world" go down the dumper because "It's an European war and doesn't have anything to do with us."

That organization was also big on "The International Jewish Conspiracy" and calling anyone who didn't slavishly agree with them "Commies."

That organization was called "America First."

Now there is another "America First."

Strange coincidence or merely an abysmal lack of historical knowledge?

C.L. in Boulder, CO, writes: You wrote: "[T]he point is that this talk, although nonsensical, has a real impact. It poisons the democracy overall, of course, and it nominally gives cover for Voter ID laws and other 'election integrity' measures." Readers might be interested in "How Truth Decay Happens," a 3-minute video by RAND Corporation.

I found the first part of this quote from the video (2:20) hopeful, but the second part depressing: "In business, technology, even in sports, we depend on hard, honest data to make good decisions. It's mainly in our civil and political discourse that we see the most corrosive effects of truth decay."

Readers may recall that Daniel Ellsberg was working at the RAND Corporation when he released the Pentagon Papers.

R.B. in Fort Worth, TX, writes: I had an interesting, albeit frustrating, interaction on a flight back to Texas that resonated with me. On that flight, I had the experience of sitting next to a "True Believer" and white nationalist.

Being Jewish myself, it was maddening to hear some of the claims coming from said person. Nonetheless, in the spirit of American democracy, I knew I had an opportunity to actually confront many of those beliefs in a civil and diplomatic manner. My thought process was that this person would take criticism as a clear validation of their beliefs. So without alerting them to my Jewish culture, I spent the 2-hour flight masked up and had what I could call a civil debate.

While we went over many different topics, such as their fervent belief in the "Jewish illuminati government," as well as their belief in "clearly stolen 2020 election." There was one topic that, upon my explanation of it, was well-received by the white nationalist: D.C. statehood.

When I asked why they would support the policy of D.C. statehood, they explained that my reasoning that "every American should have a single and legal vote" was very important and that if "there was 700,000+ Americans without proper representation in Congress, then it was ridiculous that no one had ever heard of this." It really struck me during this conversation that this idea of equal representation and single votes fits somewhat well with a hardcore right wing ideology. Obviously, the Republican Party as a whole is vehemently against D.C. statehood because it would erode their power advantage in electoral politics, but if I, a Jewish millennial, could get a white nationalist to agree that D.C. statehood was a good idea, why has the Democratic Party not done a better job of messaging this idea of saving voting rights and giving fair representation? It could change the way in which outreach could be done and attract voters that have been misled on the true reasons for many policy positions.

There were many other parts of the conversation where it absolutely dumbfounded me that a human being could believe in some of it, including the QAnon super conspiracy. But I believe what was more important was the fact that even the farthest right wing person I have ever met was fairly amiable to certain Democratic policy positions when simply spoken to in a calm and respectful manner. It was an eye-opening experience that I hope to not have again in the future, but at least made me think that there was a small modicum of hope if the Democratic Party can finally figure out how to message properly and reach people with their ideas.

All Politics is Local

J.D.M. in Cottonwood Shores, TX, writes: I have really enjoyed watching the John Fetterman commercials. They reminded me of my favorite advice for better Democratic messaging, which was: "talk like Bernie Sanders, but don't admit you are a Democratic Socialist."

R.K. in Pepperell, MA, writes: Yes, but can Fetterman castrate hogs?

V & Z respond: For what it's worth, that's the very first question on the job application.

R.V. in Pittsburgh, PA, writes: After seeing this ad, I almost want to move to Georgia so I can vote for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA):

In the 30-second spot, he's able to tell Georgians how he's trying to make their lives better while going after his opponent (without feeling the need to slur him as a murderer, rapist, terrorist, child molester, scum bag, dirt bag, elitist. etc.).

This is one of the most effective G-rated ads I've ever seen.

Anarchy in the U.K.

M.C. in Swinton, England, UK, writes: Further to the excellent letter from S.T. in Worcestershire regarding the heart-wrenching predicament of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, I wondered if fellow readers might like to know more about the deeper issues and wider context of the trouble that Johnson and the Tory party now find themselves in. S.T. is quite right in pointing out the damage inflicted on Johnson in the last 6 months by sleaze, the numerous illegal knees-ups in No. 10, the investigations and subsequent fines, the sheer hypocrisy and lying to Parliament and public about this, etc. However, signs of political and electoral trouble for the Tories began much earlier than this, and can in fact be traced back to elections in May and June of last year, and even back to the general election of 2019—long before political sleaze and "Partygate" became the salient issues of the past 6 months.

First were the English local elections in May 2021. Although the overall results were unremarkable, it was nonetheless reported by one local Tory activist in the Home Counties (Britain's equivalent to the Deep South, at least politically) that, like Apollo 13, "we have a problem." What started as a rumble in May's local elections became an earthquake in the Chesham by-election (equivalent to a U.S. special election) the following month. A safe Tory seat since 1974 was lost to the Liberal Democrats on a huge swing of 25%. No one saw that result coming.

The bigger picture in this respect is the electoral realignment that has been occurring in Britain for some years, a realignment greatly exacerbated by the issue of Europe and Brexit. Much has been made of how Brexit led to the breaking down of the so-called "Red Wall" seats in the Midlands and north of England (i.e. traditional working-class voters who supported Brexit and deserted Labour for the Tories in 2019). But traditional small "l" liberal Conservative voters in the more diverse, educated and affluent parts of London and the south of England formed the bulk of England's "Remain" vote to stay in the EU, and it is these voters who form the flip-side to the electoral realignment, which spells trouble for the Tories.

Two examples of heartland Tory seats illustrate this point. The seat of Esher and Walton (seat of the deputy PM; it voted 58% to stay in the EU) had a Tory majority of 28,000 in the 2015 election, but in 2019 this crashed to under 3,000 (the deputy PM, a renowned intellectual titan, will struggle to hold this seat next time). The seat of Winchester (Remain vote 60%) had a Tory majority of 17,000 in 2015, but by 2019 it was down to less than 1,000. There are many seats like this across the south of England (to say nothing of London, where the Tories are now officially an endangered species). Once safe Tory seats that are now in striking distance for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

For the former Labour voters in the north and Midlands who supported Brexit, this issue has lost its potency, Brexit being accomplished and displaced by issues of sleaze and cost of living. But for Remain voters in Tory heartlands it is a wedge between them and the Party they once naturally gravitated to. In summary, the crucial point is that while the Brexit issue worked greatly to the Conservatives' advantage in the short-to-medium term, it will undoubtedly fracture what was their "base" for a very long time to come. So, by the time of the next General Election (probably 2024) the Brexit chicken should well and truly have come to home to roost.

Global Warming

B.J. in Boston, MA, writes: Months ago, C.S. in Linville sent in a question about the wisdom of having children. I wish them all the best regardless of their decision. However, I noticed a certain uniformity in the responses to their question; everyone said that having children was definitely a good idea. I want to provide an alternative viewpoint.

I have two kids, ages 6 and 4. I love them both beyond measure. They amaze me every day and I would never, ever choose to be without them. That said, if it somehow turned out that they were a hallucination that I woke up from and yet all my other experiences up to now were real, I would not choose to have children today.

The primary reason is climate change. I am of course as unhappy about COVID-19 as everyone but I expect we will eventually get past it one way or another. I am dismayed by this country's seeming sharp turn to the right and the possible end of democracy, but there is at least the possibility of recovering from that (though probably not soon enough to avoid substantial damage to my kids' and hundreds of millions of others' lives). Climate change, however, seems likely to be catastrophic and permanent. It seems increasingly clear that we have already crossed the threshold of unavoidable disaster. I suspect that the rate of oncoming disaster will accelerate beyond anyone's expectation so that problems which even now seem decades in the future will probably arrive in just years. Furthermore, due to the death-cult which is driving our national politics and the spinelessness of the slightly enlightened team, I see no reason anything will be done to prevent or even meaningfully mitigate the looming apocalypse. (I am running out of synonyms for badness.) The result is going to be widespread famine, disease, violence, and war.

I am 52 years old. I have had an incredibly fortunate, successful, and (as I've long known) privileged life so far. I have previously always been optimistic about my own life, my country's long-term bend towards justice, and the future in general. That has all changed just in the last 5 years or so.

My children deserve a livable world in which to seek their own fortune, but I doubt they will have one. In fact, the most optimistic thought I've had recently is that it seems plausible that they will not spend their whole lives living on Earth.

I hope I'm wrong and this is all unnecessary despair. My kids are amazing and I'm sure they will blow me away in how they handle the challenges they will face. However, being amazing in how they handle miserable circumstances is not what I want for them.

Again, best wishes to C.S. in Linville and anyone else who is making a similar decision. I hope this letter helps them gain clarity towards whatever decision is right for them.

D.A.Y. in Troy, MI, writes: I think we need to talk more about the environment. I know we have inflation and the war in Ukraine and mass shootings and supply-chain issues, but I think we need to talk more about the environment and the fact something needs to be done about it in order to limit the human suffering charging towards us.

And it is charging towards us because since Reagan took office, we have only had a Democratic trifecta for 5½ of the past 41½ years. The other 36 have featured either stagnation or backtracking on building a sustainable economy. The cruel irony that the backtracking has become more severe while the effects of climate change become more stark and the Republican administrations have become more radicalized with each iteration. Even when the Democrats have the White House and both houses of Congress, they are stymied by a combination of Republicans using every delay tactic in the book and some Democrats hemming and hawing because they represent constituents with a vested interest in the fossil fuel industry.

The result is instead of an incremental transition over the past four decades, we need a radical realignment of how we power our economy in order to avoid this planet becoming a very different place from the one we've built our civilization upon.

I do fear what will happen if the Republicans get their hands on the House and Senate. It will not just be the sham investigations that will likely clog our news feeds. It will be another 2 years of nothing getting done on making our society greener while our planet continues to get warmer and more hostile.

My middle school principal had a saying: "Easy now, hard later or hard now, easy later." We have arrived at later, and we've been taking it easy for that past four decades. Do the math on what awaits us.

Economic Matters

R.S. in San Mateo, CA, writes: J.T. in Greensboro writes: "Publicly traded corporations exist to create value for shareholders, they're usually legally obligated to make decisions that are in the best interests of shareholders (i.e. making the most money possible for them)."

This is a commonly held belief, but it is not true. Companies can exist for any purpose that they publicly disclose, and corporate officers have a duty to make decisions in the best interests of the company. That includes considering the needs of shareholders, employees, customers, and the community. Many companies, such as GORE-TEX, do significant philanthropy. One might assume they do it to simply make the company look good and therefore make more sales, but they can also just give away money because the officers want to support certain causes. They can even give all profits directly to the employees. This philosophy is often called "stakeholder capitalism" (as opposed to "shareholder capitalism"), with one of its biggest promoters being Marc Benioff, president/founder of Salesforce.

F.F. in London, England, UK, writes: In response to C.T. in Cape Coral, you point to various drivers of gas prices at the pump (cost of storage, lack of brand/product differentiation, cost of inventory replacement, thin margins...).

I think you're in the right zip code on the inventory replacement point, but let me attempt to sharpen the answer: A fundamental principle of microeconomics is that businesses will operate where marginal revenue exceeds marginal cost ("marginal" means the next unit of something traded).

If a gas station needs to pay $5 for the next gallon of gas it buys, it won't sell its previously purchased gallons for less than $5, even if those previous gallons were bought at, say, $3 because gas is fungible ("fungible" means the next unit of gas is indistinguishable from an earlier unit).

Just as it would be irrational to sell the "new" $5 gallon for less than cost, it would be equally irrational to sell the "old" $3 gallon for less than the cost of the "new" gallon.

Should I Stay or Should I Go, Part IV

A.H. in Columbus, OH, writes: Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions on where my wife and I should or could move to when we leave Ohio. Many of the suggestions were places we have also been considering, which was a nice reinforcement that we're on the right track.

Since I work remotely, our plan is to become digital nomads for a while and visit each of these places for an extended period to get a better feel for them before we decide on a new place to settle down.

We won't be able to start this journey for a while longer, but knowing it's coming gives us hope, which is something we could use a whole lot more of around here, especially since Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) is about to or already has signed a bill lowering training requirements for "armed school personnel" in Ohio from 700 hours to a mere 24. Like that is what we need: more guns in the hands of less prepared people.

T.G. in San Francisco, CA, writes: Readers have weighed in with recommendations on places to move to within the U.S. Going a step further, where do folks suggest permanently moving to outside of the U.S.? Though I have in-demand skills which should help me find a job, I worry that it might be pretty hard for me to obtain permanent residence outside the U.S. given that I am 57. At the same time, I don't know how much more I can take of what is happening to our country and where it is going. Should I stay in California, where the politics continue to align with my values but the cost of living is high or, if I consider leaving for another country, which one? Canada? Mexico? New Zealand? Norway? Costa Rica? Iceland?

V & Z respond: As always, we will run responses if readers choose to weigh in.

A.B. in Wendell

J.G. in Chantilly, VA, writes: I just want to say "thank you" to A.B. in Wendell for her powerful statement reflecting on her life experience. I haven't had the opportunity to truly stick my neck out in support of trans people, and I don't claim that I ever will. But she has definitely opened my eyes, and hopefully that will help me if and when I have to take a real stand for them, one that brings actual risks. Thank you.

C.W. in Carlsbad, CA, writes: To A.B. in Wendell: I may be an old white guy, but I read your letter and felt your pain and frustration. My partner and I, who are committed to changing the political landscape in this country towards embracing the trans community, share your frustration with the level of commitment we see (or rather fail to see) among members of our community who claim to be sensitive to LGBTQ+ issues.

I know there is more to life than sexual preference and identity. But it just seems a shame that we are so wrapped up in our unconscious perceptions about what is normal that we react irrationally when we encounter someone who doesn't fit in with that perception. Some of that seems to be the human experience, but we don't know how much of it until we explore the limits of social adaptivity through changes to our governing documents. To be honest, we aren't doing that good of a job at racial equity, so to expect acceptance of the far more complex issue of sex is probably unrealistic. Ironic, isn't it, that we seem to be so good at procreating?

But I digress. I don't have much more to say except "I see you." And it may not be much, but for what it's worth, we are with you. If you make it out here to Carlsbad, you can find us through the local Democratic club, ENCDC, where I am webmaster. But I have to warn you, the food here is terrible. ;-)

P.M. in Edenton, NC (formerly in Currituck), writes: I wanted to thank A.B. in Wendell for her kind words to me. I agree that there is probably much that she and I would disagree on, but we find common ground that reason and logic need to rule the day, not emotion. So much of political discourse is supercharged emotionalism, and that is literally all the Republican Party has to go on nowadays. As I tell my right-leaning friends: "At least the Democrats have ideas, even if you don't agree with them. What do the Republicans offer as an alternative?" They never have an answer, because there isn't one.

As to the impending overturning of Roe, there is another point I want to make which will likely lead me to having common ground with many readers here. The laws passed by various states to go into place once abortion are extremely draconian, and a (left-leaning) friend in Louisiana told me that the law set to go into effect there would criminalize only the women who were to obtain an abortion. The last I checked, it takes two to tango—so, in the interest of fairness and equality, I think the laws should be tossed out unless they also penalize the men involved in the women becoming pregnant. A true Christian, one who walks the walk, would be in favor of that if they truly are opposed to sexual activity outside of marriage.

Making the Grade, Part III

J.B. in Memphis, TN, writes: A football player in my World Civilization class never showed up to class or handed in any paper assignments. He got near zero on his midterm, but in the final he stayed the entire 150 minutes. There were three sections on the test: identifications, map, and essay. He didn't write anything on the essay, got everything on the map wrong, and answered half of the ID's, all with the same answer: "A great man who helped his people." Not all the people were male, and some of them were not people at all.

He complained that he did not get a D.

B.H. in Greenbelt, MD, writes: I was an adjunct in 2002 for a semester at American University. I had a student who missed a test, and her excuse was definitely valid. She was actually a high school student, and her school had gone on lockdown because of the Washington sniper, and wouldn't let her leave. I was out of town (which was why I had scheduled an exam). I called my 15-year-old to see if he was so concerned about the sniper that I should return home. No, but he was very unhappy with a call in the previous night's baseball playoffs. I don't think it involved the Angels.

G.C. in Pasadena, CA, writes: For over 30 years, I was the scientific glassblower at Cal State, LA. I also taught a class in this once a year. I had weekly lectures on glass, glassware in the lab, the science of glass, etc., and I had weekly tests. I also had a lot of actual glassblowing, where they learned basic seals, bends, etc. As they practiced that week's assignments, I'd walk around and help those who needed help or go to those who asked for help.

Toward the end of the quarter, the school had a review where the students reviewed the class, the material, and the teacher. About a month later, the review papers were sent off to me to read. Once, a student claimed I was a racist. This threw me off because I knew I had done nothing even to begin justifying such a comment. By matching the handwriting on the review with the quizzes, I figured out who it was. I determined that because he never asked for help and, by my observation, did not need me to interrupt his activities, he must have felt I was avoiding him because he was Chicano. After this, I always emphasized that if I do not interrupt your work, it's because, by my observation, you're doing just fine.

M.A. in Knoxville, TN, writes: I commuted from an hour away to my college, so I needed to leave early to get to classes and exams. On the day of my Calculus II final I was somehow thinking I needed to leave my apartment at 2:00 p.m. It was only after getting in the car that it hit me that the exam started at 2:00 p.m. and I was going to be an hour late.

The exam period was two hours, so I started working on the exam feverishly once I arrived. The TA teaching the class knew I was a good student (rarely missed class, wasn't late, did my homework, had good grades), so he let me stay over until his wife arrived. That gave me a half hour of extra time, and I was able to finish the exam. I got an A in the course, thanks to his kindness. He may have not been so generous if I hadn't been a good student, so it's a good story to show why you should be one.

M.M. in San Diego, CA, writes: Okay, let's turn the tables. I've been reading the academics' pushy-student anecdotes, but to counter those I offer my own intrepid student story in which I am the intrepid student.

My class was taught by a young attorney, and it was his first time teaching. When he gave us our first assignment, he gave strict warning that it was mandatory and wouldn't be accepted if it were late, no excuses, no exceptions. The morning it was due, I awoke with an extremely unhappy alimentary tract. After downing two doses of Pepto Bismal (not recommended, btw), I walked the half mile to school for my 8:00 am class. I caught my instructor just before class, handed him my paper and apologized for being too ill to stay. He looked abashed and proffered the most tongue tied apology because, you know, he hadn't really meant—if you're actually sick—ummm, yes, definitely excused, sorry.

Yep, an attorney who couldn't find the words, at least momentarily.


P.N. in Austin, TX, writes: I, for one, applaud your use of the phrase, "by Jove," and think you should use it much more frequently. I am concerned, however, at the lack of capitalization. Maybe skip the golf course this week?

V & Z respond: It never occurred to (Z), until receiving this letter, that the Jove in question here is the Roman god. We went back and fixed it. As to the golf course, it will be a cold day in Hades before either of us sets foot on one.

R.P. in Kaneohe, HI, writes: I wasn't going to say anything about the remark from G.T.M. in Vancouver about the percentage of the surface of the Earth for which "the inhabitants have the absolute right to declare that they no longer wish to belong to the country," but since you elaborated on it for the Saturday Q&A, I'm compelled to point out that about 43% of the Earth's surface is not part of any country. So perhaps the 98% figure should be reduced to about 56%, if Earth's surface is the baseline of the preferred metric.

V & Z respond: As they once said, two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by water. The other third is covered by (Philadelphia Phillies outfielder) Garry Maddox.

S.F. in New York City, NY, writes: G.T.M. in Vancouver wrote that the position of the U.S. government is "for around 98.13% of the earth's land surface, the inhabitants have the absolute right to declare that they no longer wish to belong to the country..."

Not true for Kurdistan or Somaliland or Hong Kong or Tibet.

M.B. in Menlo Park, CA, writes: You observed that you didn't have to worry about a lawsuit from Mehmet Oz for calling him a "quack." If Oz takes any legal action, you might not be the only defendant. Humor columnist Andy Borowitz wrote that Oz "hopes to oust Rand Paul as the biggest quack in the United States Senate." Oops, that's two possible plaintiffs!

V & Z respond: And, in any event, nobody can outquack Rand Paul.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun11 Saturday Q&A
Jun10 The 1/6 Committee Hearings, Day 1: It Was Carnage
Jun10 The 1/6 Committee Hearings, Day 1: Takeaways
Jun10 The 1/6 Committee Hearings, Day 1: The Response from the Right
Jun10 Michigan Gubernatorial Candidate Arrested
Jun10 Zinke Survives
Jun10 Lawton Tries to Salvage His Career
Jun10 This Week in Schadenfreude
Jun09 It's Showtime
Jun09 What Should the Select Committee Do?
Jun09 Election Takeaways
Jun09 Letitia James Has Subpoenaed Trump and His Kids
Jun09 How Bad Will the Midterms Be for the Democrats?
Jun09 Can Glenn Youngkin Be Cloned?
Jun09 Fetterman Is Advertising on Fox
Jun09 Ratf**king in the Mountains
Jun08 The Tipping Point
Jun07 Senators Wrestle with Gun Control
Jun07 Insurrections Have Consequences
Jun07 Trumps Fire Shot Across Rick Scott's Bow
Jun07 Louisiana Map Struck Down
Jun07 You Lose Some to Win Some?
Jun07 Johnson Cut Down to Size
Jun07 Guest Columnist: Thoughts from a Texas Marine
Jun06 Lots of Primaries Tomorrow
Jun06 Oz Wins GOP Primary in Pennsylvania
Jun06 Election Deniers Are Running to Run Elections
Jun06 How to Establish an Establishment
Jun06 Sasse Wants an Optimistic GOP
Jun06 Trump Faces a Dilemma in Alabama
Jun06 Democrats Face a Dilemma in Ohio
Jun06 Nevada GOP Senate Primary May Not Be a Done Deal
Jun06 Supreme Court Will Issue 33 Decisions This Month
Jun05 Sunday Mailbag
Jun04 Saturday Q&A
Jun03 Democrats "Tackle" Gun Violence
Jun03 Biden to Meet with Saudi Crown Prince
Jun03 DeSantis' Map Will Stand, at Least for This Cycle
Jun03 Michigan Gubernatorial Candidates Will Stay off the Ballot
Jun03 Trump Endorses in Arizona Senate Race
Jun03 "Stop the Steal" Descends into Predictable Madness
Jun03 This Week in Schadenfreude
Jun02 Supreme Court Orders Pennsylvania to Stop Counting Ballots
Jun02 The Investigation of the Leak is Leaking
Jun02 Republicans' Plans to Steal the 2024 Election Have Leaked Out
Jun02 Republicans Will Start Investigations Immediately if They Win the House
Jun02 Select Committee Gives Jordan More Time to Comply with Subpoena
Jun02 Raffensperger Will Testify
Jun02 South Texas Special Election on Flag Day Could Be a Bellwether
Jun02 Top Impeachment Lawyer Is Running for the House