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Political Wire logo John Bolton Says Indictment Is ‘Rocket Fuel’ for Trump
Trump Vows to Escalate Attacks on Alvin Bragg
Trump Flourishes in the Glare of His Indictment
Trump May Be Charged Over Karen McDougal Payment
Betsy DeVos Backing Paul Vallas for Chicago Mayor
Trump Will Face Felony Charge

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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

We certainly hope that everyone who read yesterday's posting figured out that the last question and answer was a joke. Otherwise you're going to be very disappointed. Or else very relieved.

It will come as no surprise that the subject of the week was the Trump indictment. And so, the first section has rather more words and letters than we usually shoot for.

Politics: The People vs. Donald Trump

A.R. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: In ruminating on the indictment, my primary feeling is one of relief that at least one of these cases has culminated in a decision—I'm tired of hearing the word "imminent".

And I actually think the order of things is either inconsequential or is appropriate in that it seems to be building up to the larger potential crimes.

As (Z) pointed out, we should not adopt the narrative that the New York crimes are no big deal or happen all the time. Neither is true and where they do happen, they should be prosecuted. Michael Cohen served significant prison time for this same activity, while "Individual one" skated at the time because he happened to be president. To those people who say charges like these should not be brought, I say, then repeal the laws that make this activity a crime. As a public attorney, I have an obligation to enforce the law if the evidence supports it. If you don't want me doing my job, then pass different laws.

Trump's response is entirely predictable and reprehensible. But what is more dangerous, in my view, is other elected officials parroting his response. They operate under the same system—which, as we've seen, requires faith that our judges, prosecutors, and juries do their jobs independently and competently, without fear or favor. Do they really want to kick out the legs of that three-legged stool on which they themselves sit? Do they have such cowardice and fear of the mob they think keeps them in their jobs? They are the true enemies of democracy and they need to be rooted out.

As for Fulton County DA Fani Willis, she'll bring her case when it's ready, no less than special counsel Jack Smith and AG Merrick Garland. She's been operating in hostile territory for some time now. This indictment may cause her to delay a little, in order for Trump to be arraigned in New York, but she's no stranger to prosecuting criminals who are wanted in multiple jurisdictions—there's a playbook for that. My guess is that in her eyes, Trump is a mob boss (and there's a playbook for that, too). The judge in the E. Jean Carroll civil case has already taken the unusual step of ordering the jury to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety. That step is normally reserved for criminal trials in mafia cases. (Why this hasn't gotten more media coverage is baffling.) I wouldn't be surprised if the same order is given in Trump's criminal cases.

Can you imagine? A former president, not only charged with crimes in multiple jurisdictions, but who is considered such a threat and who is so venal as to encourage violence against everyone who crosses him or tries to hold him accountable, that the juries can't show their faces. Do the Republicans really want to be on the side of that?

To save our democracy, Trump needs to be charged with every crime that the evidence supports. And I'm grateful that our country has dedicated and courageous prosecutors who are willing to do just that.

C.F. in Nashua, NH, writes: My prediction on the charges is that they won't include any campaign finance law violation. I also believe that at least one of the charges will be completely unexpected, and that most of them will revolve around financial fraud.

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: I know it's too late for the annual predictions, but I have a pretty far out one for you. I predict that if Donald Trump has to wait 7 hours to be indicted he won't be reading a book like his CFO, Allen Weisselberg! I know that's pretty crazy limb to go out on but I'm sticking to it!

J.B. in Fort Kent, ME, writes: In Friday's item, "Braggart, Meet Bragg," you wrote: "First, what exactly is the story with the timeline here? At the start of this week, we supposed that Trump might get arrested next week, but that mid-April seemed more likely. Yesterday, we had an item about the grand jury taking a month off, and so we concluded, like everyone else, that an arrest was a month or more into the future. And then... BAM!"

In face, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg demonstrated even more shrewdness with his decision. First, TFG jumped the gun and proclaimed he was getting arrested a couple of weeks ago, then various media sites, such as our beloved, speculated on when Bragg would finally commit to indicting 45—next week, mid-April, early May, etc. In both cases, someone other than the Manhattan DA's office appeared to be controlling or influencing the legal timeline (symbolically, not a good look for the DA). By choosing his own timeline, Bragg clearly demonstrates that he is in control of the this case, not TFG or the media.

While this is probably not the sole reason, it certainly helps place him in the driver's seat more securely regarding this case.

K.E. in Newport, RI, writes: On Friday, you wrote, "None of these people knows exactly what the charges are. None of these people knows exactly what the evidence is. They certainly haven't the faintest idea what Bragg's motivations are, though it's worth noting that the DA actually pulled back from this prosecution for over a year until new evidence presented itself. Doesn't sound like someone determined to grind their political axe to us."

This seems a bit naive. Alvin Bragg is an elected official. Any elected prosecutor worth his salt listens to his voters if he wants to be reelected. It is unfathomable that Bragg did not take the political wishes of his constituents into account when making the huge decision to indict Trump.

Pollsters have been asking Americans whether they believe Alvin Bragg's decision is motivated by politics or a desire to enforce the law. It's a false choice. It's both. He wants to enforce the law fairly and he also has a political agenda as an elected official.

Most states in the U.S. elect prosecutors and judges. Connecticut and Rhode Island are two of the few states in which prosecutors (besides the attorneys general) are unelected. They are appointed by the governors, so they have more independence and are not subject to political pressure. Unlike most of the rest of the United States, all of the New England states have state court judges appointed by the governors for the same reason. The judges here are unelected because the public does not feel comfortable with them being subject to political winds. I do not agree with the practice of electing judges and prosecutors and think it's best if are able to distance themselves from political pressure as much as possible.

Another law enforcement reform that I favor is empowering prosecutors to engage in investigation themselves. The United States' criminal justice system gives police officers the role of investigators, and the prosecutor is in charge of the court process. In Japan, unlike the United States, prosecutors actively investigate crimes along with police officers. They have a detective assigned as a partner and they investigate crimes as a team. I think a reform like this would greatly benefit the U.S. because prosecutors are usually the ones who are the best at determining what evidence and testimony will be admissible in court.

H.R. in Jamaica Plain, MA, writes: You've written that no one knows what would happen if a state refused an extradition order from another state. I'd ask you to look at former judge Margaret Burnham's recent book By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow's Legal Executioners. The first part of this book, entitled "Rendition," focuses on cases where Southern states sought to extradite African Americans who had fled from lynching mobs (or for other reasons) to the north. In at least some of these cases, lawyers for the people who were sought by extradition were able to convince a judge or governor that the extradition should not happen, because there was no chance the person would get a fair trial or that it would be highly likely the person would be lynched if returned to their former state. This was sometimes with active support of the public in the Northern city, so that such support might also influence a politician's decision. In summarizing a case from the 1890s, Burnham writes: "[The judge's] opinion in the... case affirmed that northern state court judges had a distinct duty to protect the civil rights of fugitives, prying open for scrutiny racial conditions in the demanding state. It was on this premise— that civil rights should guide the inquiries of receiving states—that the racial rights organizations constructed their rendition campaigns in the early twentieth century."

Just thought your readers would want to know about these cases. (Obviously, the reasoning in these cases does not apply to TFG.) The book is well worth reading to increase one's understanding of the sordid history in the U.S. during the Jim Crow era. If you read it, you'll see that there is a direct line from murders of black slaves, to murders committed by law enforcement during Jim Crow, to the murders we see today at the hands of the police. And the excuse of "self-defense" has been used for a really long time. Fortunately, today's era of cell phone cameras has finally belied that claim in some cases.

R.H. in Santa Ana, CA, writes: You wrote: "Similarly, Trump has argued that the payments to Daniels and McDougal were made for personal reasons, and had nothing to do with his political career. This being the case, the money spent was not a campaign expenditure and thus was not a violation of election law."

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina made this argument to MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber, who responded by asking something quite similar to "In all the decades of Donald Trump's very public life, can you name a single instance where he made these payments except in connection to a political campaign?"

Tacopina did not have an answer.

P.S. in Lanoka Harbor, NJ, writes: Over the past few days, the responses from the Republican talking heads claim such things as "witch hunt", "weaponizing the justice system," and "political persecution" by the "radical left" when it comes to Donald Trump. This includes him airing the same thoughts in his bellicose responses. What I cannot seem to get the grasp of is what is presently going on in the House with committee chairpersons whose sole objective is to participate in the Donald Trump Revenge Tour 2023 with, of course, no evidence. Talk about ironic!

S.D. in Winter Park, FL, writes: Your connection of chatGPT to Trump's truth on his New York indictment led me to see how the chatGPT bot would respond to Trump's messaging.

For example, typing this:

I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden. The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our Movement, and our Party—united and strong—will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

Led to this response:

As an AI language model, I cannot speculate on the future outcome of any election or make predictions about political events. It is important to note that elections should be free, fair, and transparent, and the will of the people should be respected. It is crucial for all parties involved to engage in civil discourse and debate, uphold the rule of law, and work towards a peaceful and prosperous future for all Americans.

So, my question: Is chatGPT run by Antifa?

More seriously, given how "neutral" the chatGPT is, the resulted answers are highly instructive, in my opinion.

G.F. in Manchester, VT, writes: Of the Trump jury pool, you wrote: "Well, there is no magical solution, like importing 12 jurors from Oompa-Loompa land who have never heard of Trump."

There is no way that any Oompa-Loompa has not heard of Trump. Isn't he their king?

(V) & (Z) respond: That joke did not occur to us. But boy howdy, we sure set it up perfectly, didn't we?

Politics: The 2024 Presidential Race

M.C. in Falls Church, VA, writes: Referring to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), you wrote: "Trump doesn't cower before bullies." Not sure this is true. When you're the President of the United States, there aren't many people who even qualify as potential bullies, but Vladimir Putin is one, and Trump's obsequiousness toward Putin at the Helsinki summit and elsewhere still makes me cringe.

E.H. in Culver City, CA, writes: Donald Trump's opponents need to give him a nickname that resonates with his base, enrages him, and leaves space for serious questions.


So, Fatass, did your giant tax do anything to help the economy?

Fatass, have you conceded the last election?

Fatass, do you think your treatment of Zelenskyy emboldened Putin to attack?


R.G. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: Driving through The People's Republic of Takoma Park here in Maryland, I saw my first "MARIANNE WILLIAMSON FOR PRESIDENT" yard sign. I think she's gaining momentum.

(V) & (Z) respond: Well, if she's got two voters now, then that is a 100% increase.

Politics: Today's Republican Party

T.F. in Banks, OR, writes: Thank you for your item "It's the Racism, Stupid." Today's GOP would be nowhere without the prejudice plus power—the racism—stoked by plutocrats, triggered by having a Black president, and mainstreamed by Donald Trump, who's outdone George Wallace circa 1968 and Strom Thurmond circa 1948 in giving voice to it. The first two resentment scale questions very nicely, if indirectly, highlight the problem. For Irish, Italian, and Jewish people to "overcome prejudice" was a relative short path—a century or so. It was a matter of being assimilated enough to be seen as white, and as such not typically discriminated against due to racism: "Don't discriminate against me, I'm white!" They now get passing grades (though see Soros, George). But the racism was and is still there. The race test is still there. East Asian, Native American, and Black people cannot be assimilated as white. As long as racism is an accepted and encouraged part of America, as it has been for four centuries, they will fail the race test and they will be discriminated against.

R.P. in Warminster, PA, writes: I have a theory, and like all theories, it could be wrong.

The Republican Party during the two impeachment hearings made it clear that the conservative side of the political spectrum no longer cares about justice; they basically ran a great demonstration of how to be an activist jury in front of the whole of the American people. This makes it much harder to get a conviction again an American, especially if you think the crime is penny ante or made for political reasons. The Republican Party has desecrated the idea of justice in America, and the whole justice system is paying the price.

J.W. in Newton, MA, writes: A person as despicable and lawless as Orange Jesus simply must be held accountable in courts of law. The problem is that GOP DAs and AGs seem likely to retaliate over... whatever. Given that they are now a fascist or fascist-adjacent party, these officers of the court will think nothing of filing felony charges over parking tickets or minor campaign finance violations. Will Trump-appointed judges play along? I fear we are headed in the direction of Brazil, in which the legal system appears utterly politicized by at least one side.

C.Z. in Sacramento, CA, writes: This parody came out last year. It's too bad that we could very well play it every week. This time, it's for the tragedy in Tennessee:

G.T.M. in Vancouver, BC, Canada, writes: The "Republicans" (whatever that means) seem really concerned with voter ID and also seem to want to restrict it to government-issued photo ID.

They include, in their list of acceptable forms of voter ID, Medicare ID cards.

I checked.

There is no photo on the Medicare ID cards and they aren't even embossed, so that means that anyone with a printer and a computer can churn out dozens of fake Medicare ID cards in a matter of minutes. Running off fake Medicare ID cards with a "functional" QR strip on the back isn't much harder. Setting up a routine in the QR code readers at the polling stations so that they will reject an actual Medicare ID card if it meets certain specified criteria, is a tad more difficult than that, but hardly anywhere near impossible.

I'm confused, do the "Republicans" want more, or fewer, fake IDs being used as voter ID?

L.B. in Brighton, England, UK, writes: I wanted to bring to your attention a "politician" named Keith Swank, who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington in 2022. He's your typical far-right grifter, and he tweets/spams his charming views as you might expect. He also uses his middle initial, which is "R," in his Twitter handle.

The good news for him is that he got the attention he craved this week. The bad news is that it came from the U.K. And so, on Wednesday evening, this was trending on British Twitter:

The trending term was 
'Keith Arsewank'

He has noticed—and he posted a meme that indicating that he totally didn't care or even think about the U.K.! Because as we all know, when we don't care, we post about it. And now the Brits are doubling down.

Maybe it's not cute to make fun of someone's name, but hey, R Swank by name, Arsewank by nature.

Politics: Mickey Outmaneuvers Goofy

K.W. in Dallas, TX, writes: In "This Week in Schadenfreude: You Don't Mess with the Mouse," you wrote: "Mickey Mouse has only four fingers, so we're not entirely sure which is the middle one."

Someone really needs to bring back an updated DeSantis version of those 1979 "Hey, Iran!" bootleg T-shirts:

Mickey Mouse makes an obscene gesture,
accompanied by the phrase 'Hey, Iran'

That would be awesome.

A.K. in Pico Rivera, CA, writes: The end run by Disney is quite interesting. But as I looked at an article that named the law firms retained by the new boards, I noticed that: (1) Florida didn't have any firm that was known for corporate litigation, which this case seems to call for and (2) one of the D.C. firm's partners is the son of Paul Laxalt, the former Nevada senator, who apparently roomed with DeSantis during JAG school. I would guess that the junior Laxalt works mainly as a lobbyist. Not corporate. My bets are on Disney and the rule against perpetuities.

E.F. in Baltimore, MD

Disney's lawyers' trick isn't quite so ironclad as you described it. It only lasts until 21 years after all Charles' living descendants have passed. So, if Charles, William, Harry, and their living children all died in a tragic polo accident tomorrow, DeSantis would gain control of Reedy Creek in the 21st year of the reign of King Andy the Randy.

(V) & (Z) respond: If the entire royal family dies, doesn't the throne devolve upon King Ralph?

J.H. in Boston, MA, writes: Although it may not be clear from the verbiage included in the snippet, the reference to "the last living descendant of King Charles" can only be a descendant who was living at the time the document was signed. It cannot refer to hypothetical future descendants. I guess this document was signed in 2022 or 2023. The last living descendant of King Charles at that time was the last daughter of Prince Harry, Princess Lilibet, who was born in 2021. If she lived to be 100, then 21 years after her death would be the year 2142.

(V) & (Z) respond: Yep, we did not have time to fully research that, as we spent so much time that evening working on the Trump indictment item. The wording of the sentence is open to two different readings, one that amounts to "as long as Charles' current descendants are living" and another the amounts to "as long as any descendant of Charles is living." As it turns out, there is already a well-established legal doctrine, the royal lives clause, making clear that such a stipulation can only refer to people living at the time the document is executed. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with clarifications.

Politics: The Canadian Caper

E.S. in Maine, NY, writes: Canadians!

It's a shame some Republicans are undermining the troops, for this week they identified another serious threat to our national security—the one posed by the rogue state to our north. The House Homeland Security Committee assembled a panel this week to probe "Biden's Growing Border Crisis: Death, Drugs and Destruction on the Northern Border."

"It's really a crisis," Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NNY) informed the subcommittee (that word again!), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said that as a result of this "crisis at the northern border," we're "totally unprotected." Concerned that an "infestation" is "corrupting us," Kelly claimed: "If they were wearing the uniform of a foreign country, we would think we were being invaded."

Oh, Canada! Who knew you were so menacing? In truth, illegal immigration from Canada (typically by Mexican nationals who fly to Canada and then cross into the United States) has risen—from the double digits to the triple digits. A much bigger problem is going the other way: people crossing illegally from the United States into Canada. (Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck an agreement last week to address the matter.)

This is just for you edification to the threats from the Great White North!

J.D.M. in Cottonwood Shores, TX, writes: You guys are way ahead, as usual. The rest of the world is finally catching up on the threat posed by Canada!

My best guess about the motivation behind the long list of absurd crises being investigated by the Republicans in the House (should I have put "long" in all caps? I used to do that before someone kinda overdid it and ruined my favorite form of emphasis): If they can create the impression that congressional investigations are absurd, then all those investigations by the Democrats must be absurd, too.

Politics: Democracy Inaction?

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: You referred to Joe Biden not wanting to appear to tolerate the "anti-democratic actions" of Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to eviscerate the power of the Israeli Supreme Court. But it is quite the opposite: Making the legislature supreme is the most democratic thing a nation can do. Similarly here at home, the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a victory for democracy and those who fetishize it. Now the people, through their elected state representatives, can democratically impose their will to determine when abortions are or are not legal.

What we are really confronting is the fact that democracy is not an unalloyed good. The Framers referred to "factional majorities"—that is, a majority that uses its voting power to oppress the minority. To prevent factional majoritarianism, the Framers instituted numerous, anti-democratic checks—a Senate based on geography, not population, and elected by state legislatures; an Electoral College as a buffer between the people and the presidency; and an independent, life-tenured Supreme Court, which everyone understood would have the power of judicial review to strike unconstitutional laws (though it took until 1803 for the Court to claim that power). Dictatorship and pure democracy are actually a Scylla and Charybdis between which nations must find a way to navigate on their odysseys lest they be wrecked by those respective tyrannies.

C.P. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: J.L. in Mount Vista writes: "If someone looked at these new developments and came to the conclusion that America's best days are in the past, I would be unable to offer a coherent rebuttal."

I would like to respond by saying the United States of America hasn't ended yet; our story is still being written. More importantly, who among us can truly predict the future? J.L. mentions DeSantis' book bans, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the 1/6 insurrection being described as 'legitimate political discourse." My question is, what responses and pushbacks will we see to these over the next 5 years? What if the next governor of Florida reverses the book bans? What if new pro-choice legislation gets passed at the federal level? What if so many more 1/6 participants get indicted, convicted, and jailed that it dissuades other groups from trying to violently overturn election results?

I think it's important to keep the bigger picture in mind; there's always a response to current events, followed by a response to that response. I choose to believe we're moving ahead to better days, even if the road is slow and difficult at times.

All Politics Is Local

D.A.Y. in Troy, MI, writes: Reading the comment from T.O. in Portland (economic refugee from Upstate, NY), I could not help but think how self-destructive rural America is. They keep voting for people who oppose everything that would improve their lives and regions (expanding and improving broadband Internet, improving roads, greater access to healthcare, etc.) and then blame those who do want to help them because their own politicians oppose them.

T.O. also seems to not understand how the game is played. They talked about the fracking boom, either ignoring or unaware that the extraction industry rarely enriches the regions where they do the extraction. while saddling them with the pollution and land degradation. They went on about the billions Albany denied the mid-Hudson Valley, but most of those billions would go straight to Houston. Washington and Oregon have also seen the damage done when the timber industry was allowed to run wild, and their environments are still recovering.

T.O. seems to not understand what preemption means. Saying "no" to things is a part of governing, and at times needed to keep from making poor decisions. The red states are stripping existing powers from their municipalities to keep them from being safe havens from their increasingly cruel policies.

M.S. in Canton, NY, writes: I want to offer a different perspective on the issue raised by T.O. in Portland concerning red parts of blue states. Just as T.O. once did, I live in a rural and very red part of New York state, in my case the North Country (Stefanik territory). I won't deny the reality of T.O.'s experience (although in the case of the only example they offered, fracking, it would not be unreasonable for a legislature to conclude that the issue is too important to be left to local option). But my sense of how the state treats my rural region has been very different.

I follow our local and regional news very closely. Essentially every significant economic development project, and certainly every major quality-of-life enhancement project, has been made possible by a substantial state grant or other such funds. For just one recent example, this week a very small (20-bed) rural hospital near here received a $12 million dollar grant for renovations and upgrades. That's typical of how such things happen.

I would also highlight another benefit of being in a blue state, one which is easy to overlook. I stopped working before I was eligible for Medicare, so my wife and I had to get health insurance through the system set up by the Affordable Care Act. At the time, we lived in ruby-red Tennessee, which still has not set up its own health insurance exchange under the ACA. Our options were limited and expensive. When we moved to New York, we discovered that even the most expensive plan available through the New York exchange cost less than the cheapest one we could get in Tennessee. New York state is saving many of its residents, including economically vulnerable ones who live in rural areas like the North Country, thousands of dollars per year in health care expenses. That matters a lot in both quality of life and economic well-being.

E.B. in Seattle, WA, writes: As a Washington resident, I'm compelled to respond to T.O. in Portland. To me, it's not the preemption that's the problem, it's the hypocrisy. In the fracking example, it's entirely within the Democratic Party's platform to reduce environmental harm. Yes, fracking does create lots of economic opportunity, as long as you're OK with polluting a few aquifers and maybe having your tap water catch on fire. Democrats, on the whole, are anti-aquifer-pollution and anti-flammable-drinking-water. So it makes absolute sense that Democrats would ban fracking.

On the other hand, Republicans are very excited about local control up and down the ticket. Heck, the 2016 Republican platform lauded the "wisdom of local control of our schools." But the moment the locals do something the state doesn't like? Principles are out the window, books are banned, and wokeness is relentlessly pursued.

A specific example from the border between Washington and Oregon. The Wahkiakum County school district in southwest Washington is suing the state for inadequate funding for school buildings. The reason? They can't pass a local school bond, so they can't access state funds. However, a Seattle Times columnist noted that the voters of Wahkiakum County don't support education funding at any level—local, state, or federal. Their community is just getting exactly what it voted for. Is that Olympia's responsibility to fix? If so, what happened to the Republican principle of self-reliance and opposition to the welfare state?

Finally, if Oregon and Washington Republicans don't want to be seen as knuckle-dragging racists, they could oppose the takeover of public facilities by knuckle-dragging racists. When the only responses to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were either support for the militants or silence, it's not hard to see where the party's sympathies lie.

H.R. in Jamaica Plain (a neighborhood of Boston), MA, writes: We lost a giant this week in Boston.

Mel King was the first black man to become a finalist for mayor of Boston, back in 1983. I worked in this campaign, which he called the "Rainbow Coalition" (a phrase later taken up by Jesse Jackson in his presidential runs). He was a lot more than that, though. He was an activist and creative thinker across a whole range of issues, from South Africa, to affordable housing. For every small victory (and there were many across his long life) he would say, "we gained a couple of yards there" or "we gained four yards on that play." We are still a long way from the goalposts, but Mel helped us gain a great deal of yardage over his long life. He was a leader, educator and inspiration to multiple generations of activists. And whenever he greeted you, it was with a smile and a hug. Here is the Boston Globe obituary. And here's a poem by King that a friend of mine shared, which I thought your readers would particularly appreciate during this time of uncertainty:

It's a struggle

Developing Solidarity.
It's a struggle
Being Positive
It's a struggle
Making Common Unity.
It's a struggle
It's a struggle
Because it's slow
But if we Struggle
At developing Solidarity,
Being Positive
Shaping Reality,
Making Common Unity,
We will all Grow
Because to struggle
Is to work for Change,
and Change is the focus of Education,
and Education is the Basis of Knowledge,
and Knowledge is the Basis for Growth
and Growth is the Basis for
Being Positive and Being Positive
is the Basis for Building Solidarity
Building solidarity is a way to shape
Reality and Shaping Reality is Living
and Living is Loving,
So Struggle

International Politics

A.B. in Lichfield, England, UK, writes: In your Thursday item "A New Front in the Disenfranchisement Wars: College Campuses," on efforts to complicate and/or restrict student voter registrations in different U.S. states, you wrote "In other countries, none of these shenanigans exist. People who are in principle eligible to vote nearly always can vote". Sadly, this is not true.

The U.K.'s Conservative Party government recently introduced a requirement for all voters in Great Britain to produce picture ID when they arrive at a polling station to vote (Northern Ireland has long had separate voter ID requirements, but these stem from the province's complex history). This new policy will come into effect for the first time for the May 4 local elections in England. Ostensibly this is to reduce voter fraud, but that fraud is virtually non-existent; in 2019, there were only 33 allegations of voter fraud by impersonation in over 58 million votes cast across all elections that year. More insidiously, the types of voter ID that polling stations will accept appear to have been deliberately framed to favor older voters over younger voters. For example, while public transport passes for over-60s will be acceptable as a form of voter ID, young voters will not be able to use the student equivalents.

As the U.K.'s Electoral Reform Society notes in a detailed critique "There's evidence that strict voter ID rules in the USA disproportionately disadvantage already marginalised groups," an observation that will not be news to your readers. Cynics among us can't help but feel that this is considered a feature rather than a bug in both the U.S. and U.K.

M.C. in Aberdeen, Scotland, writes: In discussing voter ID and disenfranchisement, you presented a chart of voter turnout in different countries. It is striking that the U.S. appeared to have very similar turnout to the U.K., another with a first-past-the-post system. Yet, in the U.K., polling places are typically conveniently nearby, with long hours and short queues. Voter registration is quick and easy, and can typically be achieved online by answering a few questions then waiting a few days. Those U.K. turnout numbers would have been based on a period when voters need not present any ID; that change is still coming. Further, districts are drawn more fairly, by an independent commission, so votes tend to matter more.

While parts of the U.S. do intentionally disenfranchise voters and cause them great inconvenience, as a British voter I am thus not sure what to make of the chart. If the U.S. figures are middling due to disenfranchisement, what of the U.K. figures?

E.W. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: In a twist no one could see coming, the election of Humza Yosaf as the leader of the Scottish National Party means that it is at least theoretically possible that a person of Pakistani decent will be negotiating British Partition with a person of Indian descent. Oh, the irony!

Deep Fakes

R.T. in Arlington, TX, writes: I confess to having an evil mind; I just don't have an evil heart to go with it. My first thought about the deep fake item wasn't how it could be used to manipulate political opinion, but how easily it could be used to extract massive amounts of money from people as straight-up, old-school fraud. Then, every solicitation for a contribution becomes untrustworthy and the small donor base dries up for both sides. That leaves us with only big money contributors that can use couriers and wire transfers to make sure the money ends up in the right hands. Oh, well...

A.H. in Midland, GA, writes: AI deepfakes seem to have made a lot of progress over the last couple of months. The example that comes to my mind are audio deepfakes. Just a little background, but a little over two months ago Nintendo and Intelligent Systems released a new tactical role-playing game. One of the more unexpected types of content on the game that have come out since it's release are audio deepfakes featuring presidents (namely presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden) playing it and previous Fire Emblem games over a simulated Discord voice call/Skype call.

At first, you could tell that whatever program was being used was still learning. The voices for the presidents still sounded quite robotic and their distinctive speaking styles were relatively absent/barely there. In the past three to four weeks, though, the voices have become almost dead ringers. At least, they seem like it to my untrained ears.

I've absolutely devoured these videos and personally find them to be hilarious. I imagine this style of YouTube content had been going on a little bit before the game's release, as I've also seen similar videos on a variety of other games.

Anyway, I type all of this to offer another dimension on how rapidly these technologies are developing and how incredibly quickly they've gained popularity in areas outside of politics. Some of these videos (not related to Fire Emblem) have millions of views on YouTube. For anyone who is interested, just type "presidents play" into the YouTube search bar. It's pretty wild.

Legal Matters

S.G. in Newark, NJ, writes: There is a difference between nationwide injunctions, such as the one issued by Judge Reed O'Connor against implementation of the Affordable Care Act's mandatory coverage requirement and a judge ruling that the Second Amendment doesn't cover anything except 18th-century muskets.

O'Connor vacated a slew of coverage requirements adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services—meaning, as a legal matter, that it is as if those requirements had never existed. He also enjoined HHS from implementing or enforcing those requirements in the future. Because this injunction applies nationwide (it might, conceivably, have been limited to the Northern District of Texas, or the state of Texas, or the states in the Fifth Circuit), violating it anywhere would be contempt of court. Only O'Connor, the Fifth Circuit, or the Supreme Court might stay or reverse the judge's order or dissolve the injunction. So long as his order is in place, it wouldn't matter if (somehow) HHS got a hundred other district judges to rule that the requirements were completely legal.

By contrast, if some district judge somewhere were to uphold, say, a (hypothetical) federal ban on possession of assault rifles, the judge would do that by denying an injunction against enforcement of the ban. There would be no court order that anybody could violate. A hundred district judges might agree. But if some other district judge somewhere were to decide that the ban was unconstitutional, and issued a nationwide injunction against enforcing it, that would effectively reverse the first judge's (or first hundred judges') decision that the ban was OK. Until the higher courts got involved, as they inevitably would.

As you say, nationwide injunctions issued by single district judges are controversial. The possibility that district judges might reach different conclusions, and so the law might apply differently in different U.S. judicial districts, is not at all theoretical. Back in the 1980s, Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission to try to reduce disparities in the sentences that different judges imposed for similar federal crimes. The Commission was empowered to issue "guidelines" to limit judges' discretion. That meant that a commission (which included some judges and some people other than judges) would be telling Article III judges how to exercise their judicial power. Criminal defendants all over the country challenged their guideline-mandated sentences as unconstitutional. Some district judges rejected the challenge, but some district judges agreed that the guidelines were unconstitutional. It apparently never occurred to any in the latter group to issue a nationwide injunction against implementing the guidelines. So, until the Supreme Court weighed in, judges in some judicial districts applied the guidelines, and judges in some judicial districts did not apply the guidelines. That's not a good situation, yet somehow the wheels of federal criminal justice continued to turn. The Supreme Court eventually decided, 8-1, that the Commission was constitutional after all.

D.A. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: I was on an anonymous jury in federal court in New York City a good number of years ago. There was no watching by video or translucent plastic separation. We were visible to anyone in the courtroom (although cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom). We weren't even sequestered. We were just told to shut up and not tell anyone what we're doing and get picked up by marshal-driven vans from our homes at ungodly hours in the morning... and driven back well into the evening. This lasted for weeks. It was pretty disruptive.

History Matters

B.C. in Walpole, ME, writes: You wrote, of the Hamilton/Burr duel: "crossing over the state line into a fairly remote part of New Jersey."

For those not in on the snark, (Z), writing as a New Yorker would, rather than as a Californian, describes Weehawken as a "remote part of New Jersey," knowing that it is within sight of New York City, approximately due west of Times Square by about a mile. But for a New Yorker, anything on the other side of the Hudson from the city is, by definition, remote, beyond civilization, so far from the rule of law that they allow dueling.

D.R. in Ewing, NJ, writes: Fairly remote? Even in 1804, Weehawken was about as close to New York as one could get and still be in New Jersey:

A picture from Weehawken; you can see
the New York Skyline right across the river.

C.R. in St Louis, MO, writes: I disagree with your numbers on Republicans in California in regards to the governorship and in general. You wrote: "Nixon, Reagan and the other Republicans who had success in post-World War II California (Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) were thus anomalies."

There has long been a strong Western Republican bent in California, similar to Wyoming and Arizona, plus an old liberal Republican streak more common to the northeast. It is a relatively new phenomenon that California is very blue in statewide races, but that perhaps reflects the homogenization of the party's ideologies as much as California shifting left.

There were just 25 years of Democratic governors through the 80 year period beginning during the Great Depression. And California's U.S. senators only turned blue in the 1990s as well. There is a nearly unbroken 130 year streak of at least one Republican senator from California (if not two) from 1863 to 1993. The exceptions were 8 years of John Tunney in the 1970s and the third-party Senator Newton Booth from the Anti-Monopoly Party in the late 1870s. Maybe the turn was 1993?

Growing up in CA in the 70s, I was born under Ronald Reagan and barely knew Gov. Moonbeam while riding my BMX (without a helmet!) I got a healthy dose of 16 straight years of Republican governors Deukmejian and Wilson. We got 5 years of Gray Davis (D) before he was recalled in a circus to give another 8 years to Republicans with Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, someone 40-ish years old now would have lived nearly their entire formative life until 2011 under Republican governors.

(V) & (Z) respond: Republicans did well statewide from the 1930s to the 1980s, it is true. But the Democrats generally controlled most of the lesser offices, including the House delegation.

B.W. in Easton, PA, writes: For what it's worth, there are very few American Revolution battlefields because there weren't really that many battles. And if you are looking for preserved battlefields that the Americans won, you could probably count them on one hand, as the Americans lost far more battles during that conflict than they won. In addition to the non-battlefield Pennsylvanian Revolutionary sites of Valley Forge and Washington's Crossing, the actual battlefield site of the Battle of Brandywine is remarkably preserved. Of course, it was one of those nasty losses for the Revolutionaries.

Another site, but not really a battle (because the British were surprised and surrendered without a shot) is Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The Fort is a wonderful site to visit. Ticonderoga also has a rich historical accounts of actual battles from previous conflicts, but the results of the Revolutionaries capture of the Fort enabled them to carry the heavy cannons to West Point and protect the Hudson River Valley from the British who were stationed in New York City. The West Point defensive positions were transformed into the present day West Point Military Academy (also a great place to visit).

The Saratoga Battlefield is also preserved, though I have not visited it, it was most certainly one the more important victories for the Revolutionaries (see General Gates and/vs Benedict Arnold vs the British General Burgoyne). Another preserved site is the Yorktown Battlefield in Virginia, which is the final battle of the war and one of the few General Washington actually won.

In nearby Maryland is Fort McHenry near Baltimore. While not part of the Revolutionary War, the naval battle that occurred there was the War of 1812 battle that was commemorated in the poem that was later put to music and became our the National Anthem.

For your readers who are curious, perhaps finding battlefields from the War of 1812 would be an interesting endeavor.

XXX Marks the Spot

J.O. in Lynchburg, VA, writes: You really missed an opportunity to share racy dachshund photos.

I was very disappointed.

Happy April Fools!

(V) & (Z) respond: You mean like this one, where Flash earns his name?

Flash the dachshund on his back

Just be clear, however, that we draw the line at kitty porn.

R.B. in Calgary, AB, Canada, writes: Many sites charge for a "premium" ad-free experience. It strikes me that is in a position to offer a killer version of this: I for one would likely be willing to pay a fair bit of cash for a version without "revealing" pictures of most of the people discussed, and without those of the most discussed personage in particular, deep-faked or no.

I would imagine I am not alone, this could be quite a money maker... Although it would perhaps the epitome of "hostile design."

(V) & (Z) respond: Well, we're on a streak of more than 3,000 days without a single nude photo of Donald Trump. And not having to see that is worth at least, what, 10 bucks a day? The Paypal and Patreon links are at the upper right.

J.W. in San Francisco, CA, writes: You wrote: "Or the item that will be accompanied by a picture with the filename penis_on_penis_off.jpg. That material will be along next week."

Oh come on, you can't just dangle something like that and leave us hanging!

(V) & (Z) respond: Sorry. If only we had time that day for the posting to be bigger, longer, and uncut.

S.K. in Holyoke, MA, writes: You made an offhand remark about a future post that will be "accompanied by a picture with the filename penis_on_penis_off.jpg."

Will that post involve a certain song by King Missile?

(V) & (Z) respond: Not a bad guess, but no.

Watch the Language

P.S. in Gloucester, MA (northern terminus of Route 128—not "the 128"), writes: (Z) claims that using definite articles with highway numbers ("the 405") is correct. Well, there is one other place on the continent where that is the custom: Canada. I suspect infiltration! Mind control! Nothing nefarious the 'Nades won't try! If they have this degree of control over southern California, what could be next? Poutine on the menu at In-N-Out?

(V) & (Z) respond: Keep in mind that the iconic Los Angeles restaurant is Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, where they serve lots and lots of maple syrup, eh.

P.B. in Redwood City, CA, writes: While it's true that the annoying insertion of the article "the" preceding highway designations seems to have its American origins in Southern California, the British were first to the party, for example designating "the" M1 as the longest motorway in the Kingdom. Those of us not from Southern California would say the longest Interstate is I-90. When the British use the "the," it doesn't sound annoying; however, when referring to a sojourn in a place for medical care, they forget to use the "the" and would say s/he/they are "in hospital."

D.R. in Hillsboro, VA, writes: You replied to D.P. in Mountain View as follows:

(Tucktarus =) Tucker + Tartarus, which is the ancient Greek version of hell.

And here I thought you were referring to Belarus, which is the modern Ukrainian version of the same thing.

T.P. in Cleveland, OH, writes: Boy howdy? The phrase is in use out here in Flyover country. I would suggest that it's use is similar to, "And how!"

USC grad: Did Buffalo get any snow this winter?
The rest of the Big Ten: Boy howdy!
USC grad: ???*

(*Not that this state of mind is unfamiliar to USC grads, but still.)

D.M. in Spokane, WA, writes: You and a poster implied on Saturday that the expression "boy howdy" is relatively new to the American lexicon. I grew up in Texas, and the expression was commonly used there as far back as I can remember. It was used to express amazement or happiness. Something like, "Boy howdy, that bunch of Cowboys really whupped up on the (insert the name of the opposing team in a football game)." Or, "Boy howdy, that woman sure can cook." It might have been more common to rural Texans than urban ones, but I, like many who were children in the 1950s, was a part of a fluid demographic whose families migrated between those two settings, and I recall hearing it in both.

(V) & (Z) respond: Note that we did not write that it was relatively new to the American lexicon, only that it was relatively new to the pop culture lexicon.

The Artful Dodgers

T.W. in Norfolk, England, UK, writes: Regarding "This Week in Freudenfreude: Batter Up!," I read the site for incisive political commentary, not to cry, dammit!

That being said, despite being a Brit and not having the first clue about baseball (I think it's like Rounders?) I am now an instant fan the Los Angeles Dodgers. May they pile win upon win upon win. Sometimes in life, perhaps we are allowed good things.

P.M. in Beaverton, OR, writes: Hey fellas. I've been reading your site for years. I especially appreciate the news items and while I generally ignore the games, I do recognize the entertainment value and appreciate the history lessons. I just wanted to thank you for the positive story about Andrew Toles. There is simply so much bad news in the world... the environment, elected officials, wars, school shootings etc. In light of all that negativity, I appreciate your addition of a story to help remind us of our humanity and that there are rays of light in the darkness, if we look for them.

Thanks for continuing to find new ways to bring stories to your readers.

P.B. in Chicago, IL, writes: I like the freudenfreude feature very much. But this week's was so bad for me personally for 2 reasons!

First, I am a lifelong Reds fan (grew up in the 70s there) and you slammed them as one of the worst teams this year. Of course you are right about how bad they are, and the reason why, but it hurts nonetheless.

Secondly, you wrote a wonderful story about the Los Angeles Dodgers (one of my least favorite teams, behind the Cubs and the Yankees). Now I feel bad for hating the Dodgers all these years. I will still always hate them but I now see they can do wonderful things.

D.C.W. in Fredericksburg, TX, writes: Thank you so much for your freudenfreude item Friday about my favorite baseball team, the Dodgers, and their extending medical benefits to Andrew Toles. Stories like that show that companies can indeed be places of grace and kindness. And it reinforced my lifelong admiration of all things Dodger.

As a young girl, I spent many hours listening to the Dodger games on the radio in Los Angeles with my dad. My first real game was Duke Snider Night at the old Chavez Ravine, the new Dodger Stadium. I could easily envision the games listening to Vin Scully call them. Many happy memories of those times, those players, the games, and my dad, that have lasted a lifetime. I still follow the team and baseball online. Dodger Blue all the way, even now in Central Texas, miles and years removed.

The kindness the Dodger organization is showing to Toles almost gives a person hope for us all. Thank you for highlighting it.

Complaints about Complaints Department

D.M. in McLean, VA, writes: Responding to the complaint from J.C. in Silver Spring regarding E-V's current content.

As another person who has followed E-V since 2004, and who can't wait to see the 20th anniversary celebration for the site, I wonder if J.C. remembers what the early years were like during the "offseason"? I remember the site going dormant for months at a time until the next election cycle started up.

To me, the various repeating sections (such as Schadenfreude) and special series (like the new blunders brackets) provide several benefits. First, they provide a range of content when the political news slows down, so the site has a reason to keep posting. Second, they provide an alternate way of sharing political history that isn't as dry as just reading articles about past events with very little context. Third, many of these unusual items provide a way for the readers to get involved, be it voting or responding to other people's questions and comments. Fourth, and finally, these quite often provide a bit of levity in what can often be a dry or depressing subject.

Not every special series is of interest to me, but it is easy enough to skip over those items. On the whole though, I greatly enjoy how E-V has evolved over time, even if it does take up my entire coffee break in the morning to read. I definitely do not share J.C.'s sentiment.

(V) & (Z) respond: We didn't write this letter, but we could have, as it captures our thinking perfectly.

S.B. in Mason City, IA, writes: Just wanted to let you both know that I am a huge fan of the bracket competition (and other such items). I read your posting in its entirety every day, and it's fun to look forward to the "dessert" at the end of the page after a long read of mostly negative news. Thanks for all your time and hard work putting those together.

(V) & (Z) respond: We also could have written this letter; "dessert" is a metaphor we think about regularly.

A.S. in Bedford, MA, writes: To be fair, The New York Times charges separately for their news and games subscriptions. You could split up your site's pricing similarly so that people can choose how to spend their money. What would that be, then... $0 for the news and $0 for the games? You'll have to get the staff mathematician to confirm.

(V) & (Z) respond: On a Saturday night? Ha!

C.M. in Belfast, Northern Ireland, writes: Just a quick missive to ask: What are the complainers smoking whilst railing against your excellent new feature? Not only is it a welcome reprieve from the negative news emanating from the political hellscape that is modern American politics but it also allows you both to educate and entertain your readers in an engaging way. As a non-U.S. resident I welcome the additional historical information you impart. It also provides welcome context to the issues today. So please, screw your courage to the sticking place and yah boo sucks to the naysayers! Vive les gaffes!

D.D. in Portland, OR, writes: For many, many years, reading your blog from beginning to end has been a joyous, daily 10-minute ritual. However recently you've decided to post items which don't interest me! I've had no choice but to place two fingers—yes two, mind you—on my trackpad and flick them upwards in displeasure. This insolence shall not be tolerated! If you were here, I would take off my gloves, give you a hearty slap, and say "Good day to you sir!" Or perhaps, "Good afternoon!"

P.S. Love the games!

P.P.S. To anybody who disagrees with me, I got two fingers waiting for them.

F.S. in Cologne, Germany, writes: Apparently. many readers think anything other than political commentary makes it hard to take the site seriously. But politically, not much has happened since the midterms, so you can't analyze much. In Congress there has been total gridlock. There aren't many executive orders by Joe Biden you could write about. Of course there is the Trump indictment, but unfortunately—as you often write—you aren't legal experts. Often you write about what some politician said, and you analyze the implications of it, but honestly most people forget what some politician said within a week or so. I actually don't see much value in analyzing what a politician said, and think you should focus less on what some politician said. My advice would be to focus more on historical items; for example you could finish the series about major scandals in U.S. history, major crises in U.S. history and Trump-like figures in U.S. history. I also like the Q&A on Saturdays, so it would be good if you answer more readers' questions, for example if you have a second or third day on which you answer questions.

M.G. in Boulder, CO, writes: Last Sunday, J.C. in Silver Spring commented on the heavy use of games in the recent columns, especially on the previous Friday. They saw that as part of a trend. As a retired teacher, I saw it differently. People with reasonable schedules think in terms of years or seasons. Teachers think in terms of semesters. Spring break varies, but it's close to the beginning of spring. For teachers, this is the time to finish old projects and start the ones that will end the semester, for catching up and getting ready to move on.

For, it's probably a time to clear the decks for possible news about indictments here, new stages of the war in the Ukraine and how that may affect Russian leadership and our economy/elections, and the unknowns that are part of political life, especially as we prepare for an election year. Since (V) and (Z) are teachers, I would expect this clearing up would naturally occur about now, during break time.

The slogans and blunders games were perhaps a bit heavy during what I assume is break week, but they remind us that sometimes trivial things like slogans make or break careers and that appearances can mask both accomplishments and failures. We gain a better perspective on current elections and on historical eras and presidential terms. I began as a non-fan of the "games," but have come to appreciate the way the past informs the present and especially for the review of the political events of my lifetime. My expectation is that the immediate future will be more news heavy, but I'm also anticipating learning more than I once expected from the new blunders contest.

(V) & (Z) respond: You are correct about the spring break. The only piece of the puzzle you are missing, because we didn't mention it until now, is that (Z) had a procedure on his eyes on the Friday that was extra-heavy on non-news content. Since he knew he would not be able to see for 12 hours or so, he had to pre-write most of that day's posting. If you were to go back and look, you'd see that the only item that involved news from the previous day was written by (V).

Gallimaufry: Babylon 5

J.M. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: J.L. in Los Angeles draws a comparison between the Narn-Centauri war in Babylon 5 (B5) to the Ukraine-Russia war. I think this comparison is way off the mark. While it is true that the Russians and Centauri had their opponents outmatched on paper and that the Ukrainians (I hope!) and Narns will come (came) out on top, that's about where it ends. The Narns did, as J.L. points out, beg everyone for help and got none. The Ukrainians begged everyone for help and got everyone on board! The Russians are one of the world's greatest superpowers. The Centauri were the third power on the council (behind the Vorlons and Minbari, and ahead of Earth and Narn) but they were not one of the two great powers in the universe and things would have gone very differently if they didn't have the backing of the Shadows.

Actually, the Narn-Centauri war is more analogous to the Kosovo conflict or the conflict in Bosnia. You could also view it as more of an analogy for the Korean War. It was a situation of a superpower using a lesser power to conquer a still lesser power.

While I am a big B5 fan and I love seeing it in this context, I feel J.L. has really stretched things to try and reach the conclusion they set out to reach.

R.R. in Pasadena, CA, writes: I'd like to second the suggestion of J.L. from Los Angeles about Babylon 5 being an excellent political drama. Really, the interaction of people (whether aliens or humans) as they push for power is central to the story, with lots of examples of that push hurting people or upending nations. And, the path of humanity through the seasons is really germane to our current situation. Earth descends into an authoritarian regime, which starts slowly but builds through the first two seasons, eventually leading to civil war. There is all kinds of stuff going on that we see right now, including book burning, mistreatment of non-humans (sitting in for the treatment of minorities and LGBT+ people), major propaganda, and a takeover of the media that crushes the free press. It was all based on things that have happened in the past, notably in Nazi Germany, but it also reflects what we see today in nations around the world like Hungary, Russia, or Myanmar, where the powerful have twisted their governments into dictatorships.

And, we see people in the U.S. trying to do the same thing... fortunately they haven't been successful yet, but it feels like we are on the precipice just like they were in Babylon 5 right before everything went sideways. The 2024 election sure seems like a key moment to keep the Shadows at bay.

M.W. in Ottawa, ON, Canada, writes: While J.L. in Los Angeles sees an analogy to the Russia-Ukraine war in Babylon 5, contemporary interviews with Croatian actress Mira Furlan, who played Ambassador Delenn on the show, make it clear that audiences at the time saw analogies with the Yugoslav War.

Gallimaufry: Hellzapoppin'

K.H. in Corning, NY, writes: D.S. in Layton asks: "Is there a recommended popcorn?" I think your answer needs some additional depth. I feel like they asked more about styles of popcorn than merely brand, so of course that prompts one to think about the fitting snack and that subsequently leads to consideration of the entire palate. So, may I suggest "How to Pair Popcorn and Wine"?

Then to the recommended choice—readers can decide for themselves whether their vibe is for duck fat with porcini mushroom and an earthy pinot noir to match with Stormy Daniels' experience, or instead to go with a sprinkling of parmesan "for a salty touch" and a sparkling Californian. Or perhaps go with the sweet syrup-coated popcorn and a nice Finger Lakes wine "to avoid the perception of bitterness," and so that "the wine's citrusy, zingy acidity cleanses the palate, inviting another bite," as we wait for the next indictment. A reader could also go straight to Cheesy Jalapeño and pair with a Vermentino as they watch the heat finally getting to the cheese.

B.K. in Hell's Kitchen, New York, writes: I have been a very loyal reader of since your beginning. Generally I am always in agreement with your writing. However, I must take exception to a statement you made in this week's Q&A, which was true a little over a week ago, but not anymore.

Once a week, I go to the movies and bring in a bag of store-bought popcorn, I believe this makes me an authority. Over time, I had reached the same conclusion as you that G.H. Cretor's caramel and cheese popcorn mix was the absolute best. But, just last week, I came across Herr's Fire Roasted Sweetcorn Flavored Popcorn. They are now definitively #1.

So, get with it! The times they are a-poppin.

Final Words

F.C. in Sequim, WA, writes: On his way into surgery, Buddy Rich was asked by a nurse if there was anything he couldn't take. The renowned jazz musician, widely considered one of the best drummers of his time, responded: "Yeah, country music."

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr01 Saturday Q&A
Mar31 Braggart, Meet Bragg
Mar31 Texas Judges Takes an Axe to The ACA
Mar31 DeSantis Has Never Picked on Someone His Own Size
Mar31 This Week in Schadenfreude: You Don't Mess with the Mouse
Mar31 This Week in Freudenfreude: Batter Up!
Mar30 McCarthy Getting Nowhere with Biden
Mar30 Disinformation Is Being Democratized
Mar30 Manhattan Grand Jury Will Take a Break for a Month
Mar30 Iowa and New Hampshire Really Do Matter
Mar30 Christie Will Not Support GOP Nominee If It Is Trump
Mar30 A New Front in the Disenfranchisement Wars: College Campuses
Mar30 Biden and Top Officials Are Going on an "Achievements Tour"
Mar30 Senate Votes to Repeal the Iraq AUMFs
Mar30 On Foreign Policy, It's 1952 All Over Again
Mar30 Greatest Blunders: Venality, Round 1, Part I
Mar29 Step Up to the Mic, Mike
Mar29 No Arrest This Week
Mar29 Nashville Shooting: The Next Day
Mar29 Anti-Abortion Advocates Are Not Doing Great in Court
Mar29 Netanyahu: Hug Him Close or Keep Him at Arm's Length?
Mar29 Macron Under Siege
Mar29 Greatest Blunders: Imagery, Round 1, Part II
Mar28 There's Been Another School Shooting
Mar28 Trump Knows He Went Too Far
Mar28 How to Defeat Trump?
Mar28 Christie Says He Will Run
Mar28 Warren's In, Khanna's Out
Mar28 Supreme Court Allows Kansas Gerrymander to Stand
Mar28 Netanyahu Backs Down, for Now
Mar28 Greatest Blunders: Imagery, Round 1, Part I
Mar27 Trump Warns of Death and Destruction If He Is Indicted
Mar27 There's a Horse Loose in a Hospital
Mar27 Could Trump Run for President If He is a Convicted Felon?
Mar27 Trump Holds His First Mass Rally
Mar27 DeSantis Can't Avoid the 8,000-Pound Elephant in the Room
Mar27 It's the Racism, Stupid
Mar27 Judge: Meadows Must Testify before Jack Smith's Grand Jury
Mar27 House Republicans Pass a "Parents Bill of Rights" Bill
Mar27 Manchin Likely to Face Justice
Mar27 Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates Debate
Mar27 Jurors in Trump Defamation Case Will Be Anonymous
Mar26 Sunday Mailbag
Mar25 Saturday Q&A
Mar24 Bragg to House Committees: Nope
Mar24 Sinema Lays Her Cards on the Table
Mar24 The Word Cup: We Have a Winner
Mar24 The Word Cup Quiz: Answers
Mar24 Let the Madness Begin
Mar24 This Week in Schadenfreude: The Santos of the South?