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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Supreme Court Keeps Mifepristone Legal, For Now
      •  Bragg Backs Down
      •  Saturday Q&A

Supreme Court Keeps Mifepristone Legal, For Now

Late Friday, as promised, the Supreme Court announced a decision on the mifepristone cases working their way through the federal court system right now. And that decision was that the ban on mifepristone imposed by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk would be stayed while the process works itself out. So, the abortifacient will remain available, at least for now.

The order from the Court was unsigned, and the only pieces of information it contains is a note that Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision, followed by a couple of pages in which Samuel Alito notes that he's also dissenting and then explains why. It's clumsily written, and brings to mind a Willis Van Devanter, or an Anthony Kennedy, both of them rather well known for their lack of skill when it came time to put pen to paper.

Given the nature of the order, it means there are many things we do not know. First up, how did the vote come down? At least five justices voted for the stay and two voted against, but that's all that can be inferred at this point. Second, why were two extra days needed? Was Alito trying to whip votes? Did he need extra time to crank out that C-minus/D-plus-level legal essay? It's only 822 words; you'd think a Supreme Court justice could knock out that many in their sleep. Come to think of it, given the quality, maybe he did write it in his sleep.

The third question, and the one that everyone cares about, is exactly why the five (or six, or seven) voted as they did. Undoubtedly, folks who would like to see mifepristone remain legal are hopeful that this is a sign that a majority of the justices regard Kacsmaryk's decision as problematic, and are prepared to gut it when that time comes. Not so fast, though. The odds are pretty good that at least some of the justices were motivated by purely procedural issues, and that their vote is not instructive when it comes to their views on the merits of the case(s). In fact, if a justice (say, Brett Kavanaugh) is pretty strongly inclined to ban mifepristone, it's actually tactically better for him to let the process play out in this exact way. Then, if a ban is ultimately upheld, the anti-abortion judges can say that the decision was careful and reasoned, and not arrived at with undue haste. That's not going to make pro-choice forces happy, but at least it's a better look than sustaining the ban with an unsigned order issued in the middle of the night at the start of the weekend.

So, other than the fact that mifepristone will remain legal in the U.S. for at least a few more months, we don't know a whole lot more now than we knew at the start of the day on Friday. That said, we are going to know all, soon enough. There is simply no way the Supreme Court does not ultimately end up hearing this case, and at that point the nine justices will have to lay all their cards on the table (the bench?) for everyone to see. (Z)

Bragg Backs Down

As long as we are doing some weekend news anyhow, there has been a development in a story we've been following all week. After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and his Insurrections Can Be Fun Committee subpoenaed Mark Pomerantz, a former lieutenant of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Bragg sued to quash the subpoena. Several days ago, Mary Kay Vyskocil ruled the subpoena was valid, and that Pomerantz had to show up and talk to the Committee. We thought Vyskocil's reasoning was sound, and guessed that Bragg might well drop the matter. A day later, we had to concede that our guess was wrong, because Bragg appealed and got an injunction.

As of Friday evening, we're back to "Hey, looks like we were right!" territory. Bragg did some negotiating with Jordan, and they have reached agreement on Pomerantz's appearance before the Committee. So, the DA has dropped his appeal of Vyskocil's decision. The exact nature of the agreement has not been made public; a pretty good guess is that Bragg insisted that the hearing be closed-door, and not turned into a spectacle. This is another story where the full truth will be revealed soon enough, however, as Pomerantz's appearance is scheduled for May 12. That means we are at T-minus-3-weeks and counting. (Z)

Saturday Q&A

We got a lot of questions about education-related matters, some of which we are qualified to answer, some of which, others are better qualified. We're still thinking about this, so for today we'll have just a few appetizer answers (in the history section). There will be much more eventually, though it will probably be a couple of weeks.

Current Events

L.K. in Grand Forks, ND, asks: In "Dominion Settles With Fox...," you wrote the following: "This may well be the largest defamation settlement of all time, and if it's not #1, it's certainly way up there."

I would just point out that, well, it is the largest defamation settlement for a media organization (well ahead of second place, when Walt Disney Co. paid Beef Products Inc. $177 million for the "pink slime" defamation case) that has been publicly disclosed, the biggest defamation judgment would be in the Alex Jones case(s) to the tune of nearly $1.5 billion.

As you said, many settlements are not publicly known, but do you have a list of the largest defamation settlements and judgments that are known? And how many of those relate to politics, considering both the biggest settlement and the biggest judgment are both political?

(V) & (Z) answer: That is true. Of course, comparing judgments to settlements is something of an apples to oranges situation. Or, at very least, tangerines to oranges.

And that is why we don't have an answer to your question. Normally, nondisclosure is a prerequisite before a defendant will agree to settle. Otherwise, they usually roll the dice on a trial, and when they do that and lose is almost always when you see eight- and nine- and ten-figure judgments. The fact that Fox was not able to seal the agreement, and yet still paid out nine figures, tells you exactly how screwed the network was.

R.H.D. in Webster, NY, asks: I've got a question about the Dominion lawsuit against Fox "News," if you happen to know.

Why did the trial take place in Delaware? Are the other lawsuits against Fox, and their personalities, taking place there too? I don't think it has anything to do with it being President Joe Biden's home state.

(V) & (Z) answer: We do know. And you're right, it does not have anything to do with Biden.

The short answer is that Fox is chartered in Delaware. If you want to send them a postcard, the address on their certificate of incorporation is Corporation Trust Center, 1209 Orange Street, Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware 19801.

The slightly longer answer is that a vast number of corporations are chartered in Delaware, including roughly two-thirds of the Fortune 500. The state of Delaware decided many, many years ago that it would grant favorable legal and tax incentives to corporations that agreed to set up their headquarters in the state. Or, to make the point in a different way, take a guess how many corporations are chartered JUST at the address for Fox that we gave above. We'll give the answer at the bottom of the page, but for now we will say two things: (1) your first guess is almost certainly WAY low, and (2) if you do send that postcard, make very sure you put Fox's name on it, so the USPS knows which corporation you're writing to.

The longstanding commitment of Delaware to being a home for the de jure (if not de facto) headquarters of corporations has also has an extremely relevant side effect. Delaware has a very developed body of law and legal precedent related to corporations and corporate governance, not to mention judges who are experts in interpreting and applying that body of law and legal precedent. So, while it would have been possible for Dominion to have sued Fox in any state where Fox is doing business (e.g., New York), Dominion was far better off suing in Delaware, since the company's lawyers knew of ample Delaware precedent they could point to in support of their case.

M.B. in St. Andrews, Scotland, asks: Presuming Matthew Kacsmaryk wishes to outlaw abortion as quickly as possible, I cannot fathom why he stayed his own order for 7 days. This obviously gives time for other courts to stay his ruling further or overturn it. So, why didn't he just have it implemented immediately so that it would have gone into effect before an appeal could be lodged? He doesn't seem like he cares much for standard judicial practice or the rule of law, so that can't be the reason. And he also doesn't seem to care for people's health or for anything other than his own political agenda, so that can't be a reason. Do you have any insights as to this?

(V) & (Z) answer: Sure. Judges don't like being overturned in high profile fashion, and he would have been, in short order. Further, he was playing something of the long game, in that he's trying to make this look like a legitimate legal decision in which he was merely trying to call balls and strikes. If he were to take the extremely unusual step (in a case like this) of granting no stay, it would just make it look even more like he's a partisan actor and activist. And for no benefit, because again, if he didn't issue the stay, the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court would have (and, in fact, did so within a week).

S.N. in Santa Clara, CA, asks: I have two questions regarding the outlawing of mifepristone. First, if the Supremes outlaw or limit the use of mifepristone, will the states that stockpiled the drug be able to distribute it?

Secondly, if Prohibition and the decades long "war on drugs" has taught us anything, it is that people will pay to get something they want—even if it is illegal. How long do you think it will take for mifepristone to be as easily available as weed in areas where either is outlawed?

(V) & (Z) answer: Yes, those (blue) states should have no problem distributing their stockpiles, at least for now. There are essentially three entities who can bring suit for distribution of non-approved prescription drugs: the U.S. attorney general, the state attorneys general and the FDA. It is not probable that any of those three will bring suit in blue states and under a Democratic president.

Even if the time comes that a suit is brought, these tend to take a good long time to work their way through the legal system. Further, the argument that an anti-mifepristone case might advance is not so simple as it might seem. There are plenty of things sold in pharmacies across the United States that are not FDA approved. So a suit would likely have to argue that the drug should be pulled not because it lacks FDA approval, but because it's not safe. The problem is that the FDA's approval, even if it's disallowed on technicality, along with 25+ years of clinical and real-world data, suggests that mifepristone is safe. And note that the legal standard isn't actually "safe," it's "does more harm than good," which would be a bit harder to justify given the evidence.

So, while a red state AG before a judge like Kacsmaryk might prevail, you shouldn't necessarily assume that a rebellious state (or city, or doctor) who gets sued for providing mifepristone, assuming Kacsmaryk's decision stands up, is going to lose. And you can bet there will be a state (or city, or doctor) who deliberately breaks the rules in hope of getting sued, and in hope of establishing a new precedent.

And if mifepristone is outlawed but the alternatives remain legal, then we suspect there won't be too much of a black market for mifepristone. Generally speaking, people will choose "legal, but slightly less effective" over "illegal, but slightly more effective." However, if all the alternatives are somehow outlawed, then a black market will spring up overnight.

T.S. in Memphis, TN, asks: In "Today in Judicial Dishonesty, Part I: Another Skeleton from Clarence Thomas' Closet," you listed a number of government entities that could look into Clarence Thomas's disclosure forms. Since under/over-reporting of one's income can have tax implications, why not the IRS or the Dept. of Taxation in his state of residence? Seems to me I've heard whispers that someone else is under investigation for tax fraud. Not the same?

(V) & (Z) answer: Even if Thomas filed dubious disclosure forms, it does not necessarily follow that he filed problematic tax returns. And since he's always been a guy who figures out exactly where the line is, and exactly how far he can go without crossing the line, there's a very good chance that his tax returns are much more accurate than his disclosure forms are. After all, it's very hard for a Supreme Court justice to get in trouble for shady disclosure paperwork. But it's very easy for anyone, justice or not, to get in trouble for a shady tax return.

That said, we just don't know, because Thomas' tax returns are not public. However, we suspect that Senate Committee on Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) will be asking the IRS for copies, if he hasn't already. And that would be an absolutely legitimate and appropriate exercise of the authority granted by the Revenue Act of 1924.

W.S. in Austin, TX, asks: It seems like having Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Senate Judiciary Committee was an unforced error.

Why was she still on that committee when assignments were made?

(V) & (Z) answer: It is very difficult to nudge a friend, longtime colleague, and distinguished member of your party out of their most significant committee assignment. Especially after you have already nudged them out of the chance to be the first female Senate pro tempore in U.S. history, and you have also nudged them out of the chance to be chair of that significant committee (she outranked Dick Durbin, D-IL, prior to his taking over the Judiciary Committee in 2021).

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) simply did not anticipate a situation where Feinstein would be well enough to keep her Senate seat, but not well enough to show up to work. He surely expected that if things got bad, Feinstein would resign. And she still might; you can be very certain Schumer is working on a contingency right now that would allow her to retain some influence and/or have something to do every day, even if she stepped down.

S.S. in West Hollywood, CA, asks: If Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was to resign, realistically, how quickly can Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) appoint her replacement and have that person in D.C. ready to cast votes? Is there anything the Republicans can do to slow down or complicate the process?

(V) & (Z) answer: She could easily be replaced in under a week. And if time was really, really of the essence, it could probably be done in a single day. The steps are: (1) Newsom makes his pick, (2) the Secretary of State of California grants credentials to the new senator, (3) the new senator travels to Washington, (4) the new senator presents their credentials to the Secretary of the Senate, and (5) the full Senate votes on whether or not to accept the credentials. The time difference between California and Washington makes it a little tricky to work through the whole list in a day, but if the Governor and the SoS are willing to stay up late (or get up early), it could be swung.

The vote to accept a new member's credentials requires only a majority, which means that even if every Republican voted against, they would still lose (while looking very, very bad). In the incredibly unlikely scenario that the Republicans plus, say, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-VT) unite to reject the credentials, the candidate would promptly file a lawsuit in federal court, would win, and would be seated within a few days. The courts have already made very clear that all the Senate can do is decide whether or not someone meets the Constitutional requirements for the job; it cannot legally reject someone because they have a criminal conviction, or they are on trial for corruption, or they are really better suited to coaching football, or they wear cologne that is too strong.

In short, there's nothing to see here. When and if Newsom makes a pick, the person will be on the job in short order.

S.K. in Austin, TX, asks: Clearly the Democratic dream being discussed is Dianne Feinstein resigning her seat, with a replacement nominated by Gavin Newsom. In that scenario, are Democrats jumping the gun a bit in assuming that the replacement gets to take the Feinstein's seat on the Judiciary Committee? Does the Senate organizing resolution appoint her by name or by seat? If by name, could the Republicans simply say that the seat remains vacant and filibuster any changes to the organizing resolution?

(V) & (Z) answer: The organizing resolution does appoint her by name. So it is theoretically possible to filibuster a replacement.

That said, it is very, very unlikely. The fact that a "temporary" replacement is somewhere between "unusual" and "unprecedented" gives Republicans (and Joe Manchin) some cover for not playing along. But to refuse to seat a duly appointed replacement? That would be a direct assault on the traditions and the operations of the Senate. We doubt that an institutional fetishist like Manchin would play along, nor would many of the Republican senators. So the votes would likely be there to break the filibuster, or else to change the rules with a simple majority.

Further, if the Republicans tried something like this, they would be giving the Democrats an engraved invitation to deny committee seats to a Republican the next time one of them died or resigned. And remember, in the last 10 years, 6 Republicans have exited their seats early due to death or resignation, as compared to just 3 Democrats.

L.R.H. in Oakland, CA, asks: Arwa Mahdawi, a columnist for The Guardian, has written a a piece that insinuates that Dianne Feinstein and her late husband, Richard Blum, became wealthy because of insider trading. That is, Feinstein had information that they used to illegally trade in the stock market ahead of public information. Are you aware of any credible information supporting this insinuation?

That the author seems unaware that Blum died last year is a problem; she also gets the couple's net worth wrong. I think that Feinstein should resign, but this article is shabby.

(V) & (Z) answer: Mahdawi's work is often a bit shabby, which is why we tend to give her a pass when perusing The Guardian.

Anyhow, the claim against Feinstein largely comes down to two things. First, there's a fellow named Serkan Karadas who currently teaches in the Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance at the University of Illinois, Springfield. And he did his thesis work at West Virginia University on the investment portfolios of members of Congress. His conclusion was that a sizable number of representatives and senators do very well in the market, far better than one would expect, even accounting for higher education levels, higher tolerance for risk, and so forth. Karadas also wrote that it was mostly Republicans who had unusual levels of success in the market, but he did identify a few Democrats who have been consistently very... fortunate, and Feinstein was one of those.

Second, Feinstein was one of the three senators, along with then-colleagues Kelly Loeffler and Richard Burr, who traded COVID-19-related stocks after they got a briefing on the matter that contained information not available to the general public.

With all of this said, the nature of Karadas' work is such that he can make a case for an overall pattern of problematic behavior, but he can't actually conclusively point wrongdoing by any particular person. That is to say, in a room of 1,000 people, it would be implausible that 16 of them hit the jackpot on the slot machines at the same time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that one or two of the jackpots weren't legit. Further, Feinstein has been investigated both generally and also in conjunction with the COVID-19 trades, has cooperated fully, and has been cleared of wrongdoing.

B.B. in Fort Collins, CO, asks: In view of your item on anti-woke consuming, I was wondering if there wasn't a similar resource for those of us who would like to spend our dollars with progressive companies. I did a tiny bit of digging and came up with, so I'm passing it along. But it seems a bit out of date. Do you or any of your readers know of other sites that progressives might use to spend our money more wisely?

(V) & (Z) answer: The one we are familiar with is DoneGood, which does have pages about "which companies to boycott," but is mostly interested in steering people towards companies that are eco-friendly and that do things to improve the world, like donate part of their proceeds to those in need.

If readers are aware of other options, let us know.


J.L. in Paterson, NJ, asks: You've routinely been dismissive of candidates who have virtually no chance to become president. Is that all there is to it, though? A candidate might lose and still advance cherished causes. I've read the opinion that Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign laid the groundwork for a conservative surge that helped Ronald Reagan win in 1980. More recently, I suspect that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) knew he was unlikely to win, but he wanted to push his progressive ideas. Didn't his 2016 and 2020 campaigns help to highlight income inequality and increase the level of support for single-payer health care?

(V) & (Z) answer: There were absolutely times, including deep into the cycle, that Goldwater and Sanders thought that they might just pull this thing off. Beyond that, they both had broad support (even if not enough to get nominated/elected), and they had a message distinct from what their party was already peddling.

Who is the 2024 candidate, other than the two or three frontrunners, who checks these two boxes? There are candidates who have absolutely nothing new to say and who have limited support (e.g., Nikki Haley, Tim Scott) and there are candidates who have something very new to say (often something nutty) and who have virtually no support (RFK Jr., Marianne Williamson, Vivek Ramaswamy). None of these folks is even in the same ZIP code, much less the same ballpark, as Goldwater and Sanders.

E.G-C. in Syracuse, NY, asks: I have read your posts this week about Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). And I cannot understand what he is thinking. Objectively, one must admit that De Santis is an intelligent person, guided by a certain moral code (one I do not agree with). But based on that assertion—intelligence—I just don't understand how he thinks his choices will help him in the general election. I guess I'm thinking what is your take on his actions. I'm no psychologist, but the path he is taking on his undeclared campaign makes absolutely no sense. Maybe you could help me understand?

(V) & (Z) answer: First, we must push back against some of your premises. As we have written before, DeSantis certainly has the reputation of being a smart guy, but we're waiting for the direct evidence. And as we see more and more from him, the more we begin to suspect that we are seeing an object lesson in the Peter Principle play out before our eyes.

Second, we think it is more likely than not that he has no real moral code to speak of. Politicians are disproportionately sociopathic; they are motivated almost entirely by getting what they want, and they are largely unaffected by consequences that would stop most of us in our tracks. Given his willingness to let people die of COVID, or to treat immigrants like farm animals, or to scapegoat LGBTQ Floridians, or to abuse the school's teachers, is there really any chance DeSantis is NOT a sociopath? If so, it's not a very good one.

That said, regardless of a politician's intelligence (or lack thereof) and their moral code (or lack thereof), they live in bubbles of various sorts. To start, they tend to be surrounded by people who tell them what they want to hear, and that causes them to return over and over to the same ideas/strategies/etc. that worked for them as they rose up the ladder, even if those ideas/strategies/etc. are no longer effective. Richard Nixon, who most certainly WAS intelligent, is the case study here; red-baiting took him from private citizen to representative to senator to vice president of the United States in just over 6 years. But then it led to a presidential loss followed by a gubernatorial loss. To Nixon's credit (as a smart guy), he eventually figured out that he needed to re-orient himself, and he did. We see no indication that DeSantis has that capacity, and even if he does, well, it took Nixon half a decade to create the "New Nixon." The Governor doesn't have that kind of time.

The other bubble we'll mention here is a form of armor that most of them build up. A lot of criticism that politicans get is irrelevant personal crap, or is in bad faith, or comes from a hyperpartisan place. This stuff is largely unfair and can basically be dismissed. But, human ego (and, in particular, politician ego) being what it is, it's easy to convince oneself that ALL criticism is unfair and can be dismissed. Barack Obama famously ordered his staffers to give him several negative letters per week, so he could retain some insight into what criticisms he was getting from private citizens. We very much doubt that DeSantis has that kind of self-assurance, or that kind of interest in understanding how he might plausibly do better.

We will add one last thing. DeSantis has been dealt a very difficult hand, in that he's trying to be elected president as a member of a party that is in the minority and that is not very unified. And he's doing it up against the former president who created the modern version of the party and who is running again. This would be a tough challenge for a political genius, like Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson. If DeSantis falters, well, one cannot be all that surprised.

V.F. in Orlando, FL, asks: Help me understand. Ron DeSantis is having the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board, filled with his stooges, "nullify" a contract that the previous board made legally and transparently. How can he do that? You can't just void a contract you don't like.

(V) & (Z) answer: DeSantis has threatened to do that. The fact that he hasn't explained exactly how he plans to do it tells you that there's no easy way to pull it off, particularly given the legalities involved, not to mention the political and legal skill of the opposition. Wait until he offers up something more than blather before you wonder how it's legally possible.

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, asks: Like Spock, perhaps I did too much LSD in the 60's because I might be having a false memory. I distinctly remember being taught in Social Studies class that the government can't pass retaliatory laws. In other words, if I was mad at (Z)—which I'm not, but if I was—I could not pass a law that taxes all history professors who have the alias of Zenger and who have dachshunds as pets at a 1000% rate. On the other hand, I could pass a law that passes the smell test if I targeted college professors or dachshund owners (but the would make me a horrible horrible person and my best friend would hate me forever) because that target is more generalized. Am I remembering correctly? If I am remembering correctly, then how is DeSantis getting away with all these laws and actions that target only the Disney corporation? I know he's supposed to be the smart one but he seems like he's missing more than a few Mouseketeers.

BTW, if I was Bob Iger, I would have Disney buy up some land in Georgia or North Carolina and when Ron-Ron announces his presidential bid, to tip off a reporter about the land buys. I would hold a press conference the next day and say, "Yes, we're moving the park to (Carolina). Governor DeSantis has made Florida too hostile for us to continue doing business here. Regrettably, the pink slips for our 77,000 employees will go out on Monday, March 18, 2024"* and then just watch Puss In Boots howl! Luckily, I know Iger has something much more deliciously subtle but eviscerating nevertheless planned for DeSantis. I can't wait!

* - The Florida primary is March 19th.

(V) & (Z) answer: The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection before the laws, so it is indeed against the rules to pass laws that target one person or one entity. And regardless of how broad or narrow a law is, it has to have a valid purpose that is within the powers of whatever legislative body passed it, or it will be struck down. It may be legal to subject dachshund owners to special taxes, but there has to be a reason for that, not "just 'cause."

The way DeSantis got away with his maneuvering so far is that he did not exactly implement new laws that target Disney, he merely took away privileges that Disney had been granted. And he justified it on the basis that the grant of privileges was out of date, having been extended 50+ years ago. Disney could still have fought that in court, and probably would have won, but they obviously decided on a route they felt was more efficacious.

This is what should really frighten DeSantis and convince him to drop this matter. Disney's lawyers haven't even taken off their warm-up clothes, and yet they beat him in the first game in straight sets, 40-love, 40-love, 40-love. Does he really want to see what happens when they're actually trying their hardest?

P.H. in Davis, CA, asks: Do either of you really think that Ron DeSantis would ever be invited to host Saturday Night Live?

(V) & (Z) answer: Sure. They had Al Gore, Ralph Nader and Steve Forbes as hosts at various times, so they know how to work with "wooden." And they had Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, so they know how to work with right-wingers. They'd be delighted to have DeSantis.

The real risk here is not for the show, it's for the Governor. Studio 8H is SNL's home turf, and the game being played is their game. He's not going to make them look bad, but they could certainly make him look bad. And while the host is able to reject any sketch concepts he or she doesn't like, they can't refuse to appear entirely, so they are going to spend at least some time at the mercy of the writers. Also, any mockery of DeSantis that happens while he is host implies, on some level, that he accepts that mockery as valid, even if he's not on stage at the time. Way back in the early days, White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen hosted, and Gerald Ford pre-recorded a couple of bits, including that week's "Live from New York!" On that episode, Ford was absolutely savaged, and afterwards there were all kinds of commentators (including Ford's family members) who felt the then-president had made himself look like a fool by agreeing to be a part of it.

M.G. in Stow, MA, asks: You pointed out again that Nancy Pelosi is very good at herding cats, and Kevin McCarthy is not. In a strange parallel universe where Pelosi had McCarthy's political beliefs, but somehow still had her brains and political skills, would she have been able to attain the speakership without giving up as much as he did? Could she have done it on the first vote? Assuming she ended up in the same position as he is now, would she be able to herd this particular group of cats?

(V) & (Z) answer: If Pelosi was in McCarthy's situation, we suspect things would have been different in one of two ways. The first possibility is that she might have decided not to contest the speakership. She knows what a losing battle looks like, and also what a Pyrrhic victory looks like, and she's very good at avoiding those.

Alternatively, if Pelosi did decide to contest the speakership under these circumstances, she would likely have worked behind closed doors for however long was necessary, even if it meant the House could get no business done. McCarthy guessed that starting the process would put pressure on the holdouts, and he was wrong (it ended up putting more pressure on him to grant concessions). Pelosi would not have made that mistake, we think.

If Pelosi was left to herd this particular group of cats, well, she'd probably be better at it than McCarthy. That said, she would also surely see the potential in leveraging the moderates from the other party against the extremists in her own caucus. After all, 218 votes is 218 votes. McCarthy, of course, would never see it that way.

D.B. in San Diego, CA, asks: I'm curious if you could provide any insights on the different skills needed to be a top fundraiser vs. a congressional leader? Speaker McCarthy is apparently a skilled fundraiser, despite coming from a relatively lower-income district, but he has yet to provide many examples of being a skilled congressional leader—first as minority leader and now as speaker. Or maybe the better question is: Why do his donors continue to give him money (and associated power/prestige) when it appears that he's really not very good at this?

(V) & (Z) answer: Obviously, both skills require schmoozing people, just different people in each case.

That said, fundraising is ultimately easier. The main way it's done is by traveling around the country and attending events where money is raised. The more you're willing to put in the work, and the higher your fame (and thus the higher your drawing power), the more you can rake in. McCarthy's willing to do the work, and he's basically been the most important Republican in the House for 5-6 years or so, so he's got the fame.

Leadership is harder, because you not only have to be able to influence people, you also have to be able to horse trade effectively, and to know how to work the system. Former Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were both savants on things like parliamentary procedure and discretionary spending during their times in power. It's possible McCarthy is, too, though if he is he's not well known for it.

One last thing: There are basically two kinds of schmoozing, what we might call once-in-a-blue-moon schmoozing and what we might call daily schmoozing. McCarthy is apparently pretty good at interacting with the donor class and making a favorable impression. But that only takes one face-to-face meeting, or maybe a few. Pelosi could do this, too, of course. On the other hand, McCarthy doesn't seem to do all that well at maintaining long-term, daily relationships. For example, he and his theoretical right-hand man Steve Scalise (R-LA) reportedly can barely be in the same room anymore. By contrast, Pelosi maintained a tight and apparently productive relationship with all of her trusted lieutenants.

H.F. in Pittsburgh, PA, asks: For Earth Day, here's an idea about the White House going green: the Secret Service ought to replace the Presidential limousine and SUV fleet with electric vehicles. This should have been included in the CHIPS Act or the Inflation Reduction Act. It would be an engineering challenge, but feasible, to swap out the existing engines and transmissions with batteries and electric motors. Electric power would be ideal for Secret Service motorcades: The vehicles don't have to go on long road trips, they can be charged overnight or even onboard the USAF transports that deliver them to wherever the President travels. After breaking the campaign promise to curtail oil drilling, the Biden administration's switching to electric vehicles would make a strong statement about the future of transportation, plus it would give Tucker Carlson and the Congressional crackpot caucus another thing to squawk about, which is always amusing.

(V) & (Z) answer: We are hardly experts here, but we suspect one big problem would be weight. Already, the presidential vehicles (particularly "The Beast," in which the President himself travels) are very heavy due to the armor and bulletproof glass and other security measures. EVs need batteries, which are also heavy. It may not be possible to give the cars enough battery capacity to handle even short trips.

We can imagine there might be other security-related issues. For example, perhaps an EV battery hit with a bullet is at risk of exploding. Alternatively, (Z)'s EV has no AM radio, because electromagnetic radiation on that frequency apparently interferes with the car's electric motor. Does that mean that blasting an EV with sinusoidal carrier waves could render it inoperable? Maybe.


S.D. in Winter Park, FL, asks: In relation to the Republican candidates' debate to be held in California, you wrote: "In view of these considerations, there's only one plausible location the RNC could have chosen, and certainly (Z) managed to guess it the moment he saw the headline "GOP to host second presidential debate in California." Care to take your best shot?"

My first thought was the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego. My question: can Presidential debates occur on a military base? Obviously it would be totally impossible for protesters to, well, protest at such a venue.

(V) & (Z) answer: Department of Defense policy states that a candidate for public office cannot "engage in campaign or election related activities (e.g., public assemblies, town hall meetings, speeches, fund-raisers, press conferences, post-election celebrations, and concession addresses) while on a DoD installation..."

A sitting president can override the DoD, of course, which is why you sometimes see presidential speeches on military bases or U.S. Navy ships. It is improbable that this would happen with a debate, however, either because the president doesn't want to help out the other party, or doesn't want to be accused of giving undue assistance to their own party.

J.D. in Rohnert Park, CA, asks: Here's a scenario heading into next summer's conventions: Both party's prospective nominees have profound problems. Trump has suffered multiple indictments and at least one felony conviction. Biden's physical or mental health has gone into clear decline. What happens?

(V) & (Z) answer: Both parties have rules about replacing nominees if the person with a majority of the delegates becomes unavailable. Further, the rules committees for both parties are in town for the convention (in fact, the rules committee members are the first to arrive). So, the parties could change the rules on the fly if they really wanted.

That said, they would have to have an overwhelmingly clear justification for something like this. Otherwise, the members of the party would revolt.


R.P. in Northfield, IL, asks: I know you have written before about how there have been other times in American history when the country was greatly divided. But really, anything even close to this? Has there ever been a time when one party has essentially been so in the thrall of a person like TFG—basically, a cult leader/conman, who is facing so many possible allegations of criminal activity? And has there ever been a time with so many senators and representatives who are relatively uneducated, fringey, anti-science, open to conspiracy, and quite arguably unqualified for office? People like Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), for example. Or people who are graduates of elite educational institutions, but who are... (and I'm not sure what to say here about the Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes in congress, but you catch my drift). And has there been a period when, at the same time, there seemed to be such corruption on SCOTUS as there apparently is with Justice Thomas? And, I might add, justices who are so overtly political? Has there ever been a mess like this?

(V) & (Z) answer: The 1850s.

John C. Calhoun (who, admittedly, died in March 1850) wasn't a crook, but he was effectively a cult leader and someone who had de facto fomented insurrection against the U.S. multiple times (most famously during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s). And he was succeeded by a gaggle of Fire-Eaters, who dominated public and private life in much of the South, and who said things so extreme it would make Tucker Carlson blush.

The pro-slave Southern Congressmen of the 1850s were just as whackadoodle and out of control as the Trumpers today. Greene shouts out, while on the House floor, that someone is a liar? Heck, Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC) can do better than that. He walked onto the floor of the Senate chamber and beat Sen. Charles Sumner (W-MA) to a bloody pulp, nearly ending his life. And there were all sorts of outrages like this.

Anti-science? Southerners were determined to "prove" that their way of life, founded on the notion that Black people were closer to animals than humans, was supported by "science." So they produced scientific studies that "showed" that the skulls of Black men were closer to the skulls of chimpanzees than to the skulls of white men:

It is as described; there is
a Greek-god-looking white man next to a skull, an ape-looking Black man, next to a skull, and a chimpanzee, next
to a skull. The alleged Black skull and the chimpanzee skull are identical

In 1851, the alleged physician Samuel A. Cartwright "discovered" a condition he called drapetomania, a mental disease that made enslaved people try to run away.

Oh, and the Supreme Court back then was stacked with Southern slave owners who put protecting slavery at the top of their agenda, the law be damned. That gave us the infamous Dred Scott case, of course, but also a number of other indecencies against justice and common sense.

R.C. in Iowa City, IA, asks: I found your April 15 response to the question by F.S. in Cologne, on the need of historians to focus more on women, deeply depressing.

Half a century after women's history became a widely accepted area of historical research, is it still so hard to tell the story of the United States (or any country) without relegating women's history to a sidebar? I received my M.A. in history more than 30 years ago, and your response to F.S. sounds uncomfortably similar to an argument that was already outdated at that time: that history is the story of great men, and women are rarely mentioned because there just weren't that many great women. Feminist historians had already been arguing against that point of view for more than a decade by the time I was in graduate school.

In the late 1980s, there was not only a great deal of research being done on women's history, but quite a bit of effort, both theoretical and practical, to integrate that new knowledge into historical narratives in ways that fundamentally reshaped traditional male-dominated history. I'm thinking of historians such as Joan Wallach Scott, who was a great influence on my own thinking while I was writing my M.A. thesis. Her integration of feminist theory with post-structuralist theories to create a framework for discussing contests for power struck me as both successful and accessible, and offered a clear path towards producing narrative histories that include gender history not as a sidebar, but as an integral part of the story. I'm also thinking of textbooks such as A People and a Nation, whose lead author (at least at that time; the series has gone through multiple editions since then) was pioneer women's historian Mary Beth Norton. At the time, I thought this textbook was a largely successful attempt to tell a single national history of the U.S. in a way that described the experiences of all of its people, without relegating the stories of women and racial minorities to sidebars. Has historiography really stagnated so much during the past three decades that these late 1980s attempts were the high point of integrating women's history (and gender history more generally) into a single national narrative?

(V) & (Z) answer: There are a few things that (Z) must point out, based on multiple decades of experience.

First of all, textbooks are useless in a history class, no matter how well written they might be, no matter how strong a framework they create for discussing contests for power. Students, particularly today, don't read, and it's difficult to hold them accountable if they don't (there are only so many points to be awarded, and you also have to have assignments based on the lectures). Even if they do read, they don't understand. Even if they read and understand, they don't retain. And frankly, it's more valuable, given the goals of a history course, to devote the reading assignments to primary sources.

That leads to the next point. It's certainly plausible to hit students with a stream of names of key figures. You can do it in a book, you can do it in a lecture. Here's the president. Here's the most important opponent of the president. Here's the key labor activist of the era. The two most important women. Two key minority leaders. The most impactful military leader. The leading author of the era. But once you've hit them with, say, Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Samuel Gompers, Jane Addams and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, George Dewey and Mark Twain, their heads are spinning. You can only get away with so much if you are to have any hope of retention. And when making choices, it's not easy to justify putting Gompers or Stanton above TR.

One solution is to space things out as best you can, but that leads to point #3: Time is very, very limited. In your average quarter or semester class, you have perhaps 35 hours of lecture time. Take away the 10 minutes or so that is wasted at the start and end of class, and you're down around 30. If you have in-class tests (we do not), you might be down closer to 25. In some cases, particularly on the quarter system, it gets down to 20 hours. And there is an expectation that a vast swath of history be covered, in most cases. You want to spend an hour on the contributions of minorities and women to World War II? Great, but later in the semester, you'll only have half an hour for Vietnam, or 15 minutes for Black Power, or 5 minutes for feminism. And until you've lectured a bunch, you don't have an appreciation for how little you can actually say in half an hour. Or 15 minutes.

Finally, it must be noted that a fair bit of what is covered in a history class isn't really about any particular group. For example, say you spend 20 minutes on Pearl Harbor. That's military, so it sort of skews male and white (given the state of the military back then). But the fact is that all Americans at that time, regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, etc., were affected by the attack. It's just that there's not often time to talk about how specific groups were affected, unless that is itself a particularly critical part of the narrative. For example, one cannot really justify spending time in a survey course talking about how women were affected by Pearl Harbor, but it's absolutely possible, and really necessary, to talk about how Japanese Americans were affected.

In the end, it's not that history professors don't care, or that they aren't trying. You can be assured that (Z) uses a number of tricks to diversify the lectures as much as possible, while also covering the highlights and maintaining a cohesive narrative thread. But there are practical limits, particularly in a survey course, which is why there are more specialized, subject-focused courses in the history of women, laborers, Black Americans, etc.

D.E., Ashburn, VA, asks: Reviewing the course outline, I want to take (Z)'s class on California history! How can I, short of going back to college?

(V) & (Z) answer: This has come up a couple of times before. One of these days, when time allows, (Z) will create versions of the lectures that can be downloaded. Can't directly use the actual lectures, because there's stuff in there that would not be germane to non-students (like discussion of the assignments).

S.V.E. in Renton, WA, asks: Right off the bat, I want to say that I have immense respect and gratitude for teachers of any stripe. They do far more good in the world than most, and are compensated far worse than most for their incredible efforts.

I always enjoy the snippets (Z) shares of some of his classes/lectures/teaching stye. The outline of your California history course prompted me to ask a question I've pondered for years. It seems to me that the work of a teacher is incredibly front-loaded. The first time teaching a course, you have to develop all of the lectures from scratch, while in subsequent years you're building on the previous year's curriculum/lectures/assignments. I expect that every year/term you refine and improve each course you're teaching, but I also assume that that is less overall effort than their initial construction. Assuming I'm correct (and I'd love to hear if I'm not), what do you focus the remainder of your professional effort on (aside from this site, of course).

P.S.: I've always had a special place in my heart for history teachers. I was a very STEM-focused student, but it is notable to me that the two class/teacher combos that most stick with me decades later were history classes and their teachers.

(V) & (Z) answer: Yes, getting a course ready (that's known as a "prep") takes an ungodly amount of time, particularly if you create your own assignments (and we both do) and you compile your own readings (which Z does, though V uses the books that he wrote). When it comes to the lecture itself, you need to figure out what you're going to say, of course. Then you need to put together all the visuals (usually a PPT presentation). Then you need any video or audio you're going to use. And, quite rightly, all video has to be properly captioned so that students with disabilities can have that. One of (Z)'s classes (the one on History and Hollywood) has 140 video clips all by itself, so that's 140 clips that have to be acquired and edited, and then each has to be captioned, making for a total of 280 different files.

Once the prep is in the can, it's possible to just keep trotting the same thing out, and some professors do. But most (including both of us) are constantly updating based on new information, based on how well things worked the last time the class was taught, and sometimes other considerations. For example, (Z) has a number of lecture elements where he asks students to name [X] on a note card, then collects those, compiles the results, and creates a list of the most common responses. For example, about a month ago, he asked students to list the single-most distinctive characteristic of California speech, in their view. The list that produced will show up next week in a lecture on California stereotypes.

In addition to the lectures, the modern professor fields anywhere from dozens (earlier in the quarter/semester) to hundreds of e-mails a week from students. And there's office hours, between 3 and 10 of those a week, largely depending on the week. Some professors, including us, are also willing to review/comment on work before it's turned in, which takes time. And then there's grading which, depending on the discipline and the professor, is a huge time suck. Some history professors, for example, use multiple choice tests, but (Z) would never consider it. That choice means there is almost always a stack of essays on the corner of the desk waiting to be graded. And that's in addition to other assignments like, say, quizzes.

(Z) once heard "presidential candidate" Larry Elder say that college professors work no more than 10 hours a week. Both of us would like to know where we can get that job.


P.L. in Stockholm, Sweden, asks: In "This Week in Freudenfreude: 10,000 Is a Big Number," you wrote: "That allowed us to write around the use of the word "member," which carries more than one connotation when you note that an all-male club has 32 members". Can you explain (for a foreigner) what you mean by that?

(V) & (Z) answer: "Member" means "organ of the body," and that phrase (or "male member") has often been used as a polite substitute for "penis," the way that people sometimes substitute "expectant" or "entente" for "pregnant."

J.M. in Silver Spring, MD, asks: In the item "Lindsey Graham Makes It Official," you started with: "No, not that. We assume that won't become official until after he leaves office, if it ever does."

My question is, succinctly: What?

What are you alluding to here? I have no idea.

(V) & (Z) answer: There is much scuttlebutt, including accounts from people who claim to have first-hand experience, that Graham is gay.

C.J. in Lowell, MA, asks: You showed a screenshot of the Fox website on which the top headline was "What Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden are reporting as their federal adjusted gross income." A couple of paragraphs below you say that said headline "subtly implies that Joe Biden is misrepresenting his true income." Where does that interpretation come from? Isn't reporting their federal adjusted gross income exactly what lots of Americans did this week when they filed their taxes? What is nefarious or suggests any misrepresentation on the part of the Bidens regarding any of this?

(V) & (Z) answer: Keep in mind that when a news outlet does something like this, their verbiage has to be plausibly innocent, while also carrying a double meaning.

It's certainly possible Fox meant nothing by that headline. However, if the outlet wanted a headline that was not open to interpretation, they could have gone with something like "What Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden Earned in Income Last Year" or "What Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden Reported in Income Last Year."

The verb tense that Fox used, by contrast, implies that there is a difference between what they are reporting, and what they actually made. Or what they are reporting now, and what they may report in the future. Consider, for example, if you wrote: "Joe is reporting that he went to school yesterday." That's a lot different from "Joe went to school yesterday" and a little different from "Joe reported that he went to school yesterday."

Again, maybe it's nothing. But we can assure you, we do not do close reads of Fox headlines in search of nefariousness. Just a glance at that one and the clear double meaning occurred to us.

S.D. in Winter Park, FL, asks: You wrote: "Good luck trying to be a top-tier software engineer in, say, Prichard, AL (pop: 19,645)."

A quick search for engineering jobs in Mobile, AL—10 minutes away by car, revealed 326 jobs, many in the 70-150k per year range.

I suspect you were trying to locate the village East Cupcake elementary school is in, but how did you (accidentally) come to this suburb of a metropolitan area?

(V) & (Z) answer: We wanted to make it as random as we could. Observing that there were 11 Confederate states, we asked a random number generator to give us a number between 1 and 11. It produced "1," and the first Confederate state in alphabetical order is Alabama. Knowing that we wanted a smallish population center, we then asked for a number between 25 and 50. It produced "33," and Prichard is the 33rd largest city in Alabama.

L.S. in Greensboro, NC, asks: With all the discussions of ethics recently, I had to wonder. Is there any feast or other occasion that the staff mathematician refuses to celebrate?

(V) & (Z) answer: October 2: World No Alcohol Day.

Oh, and Labor Day. Nothing he hates more than labor, though we think he probably misunderstands which usage of that term is relevant here.

He also will only eat cake on March 14, for some reason.

Reader Question of the Week

Here is the question we put before readers last week:

P.M. in Pensacola, FL, asks: People have said a vital quality of an electable presidential candidate is that they should be someone you could sit down with over a beer. I'm going to assume that applies to male candidates.

If the candidate were female, would the beer rule apply, or would it be some other beverage? Or, perhaps, some other rule?

And here some of the answers we got in response:

B.J.L. in Ann Arbor, MI: I've tried to consider what might work in both Republican and Democratic camps and it's clearly different. Among Democratic circles, I think beer works for all genders. I think this is where our governor here in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer (D) seems to have it. Her ability to comment on the vibrant craft brew industry here in the Great Lakes State suggests she's had a few herself and would again. I think our former governor Jennifer Granholm also had that feature, but her Canadian roots foiled any potential bid. Laura Kelly seems to be holding her own talking about education and so maybe PTA-meeting coffee works there.

On the Republican side, whoo, I have no idea how to make connections. I'm still getting over the Annie Oakley bios of field-dressing moose or castrating piglets; not sure I want to get to close to any of them. Sadly, maybe a trip to the shooting range is what qualifies for a date and bonding session in the Republican circles.

J.C. in Washington, DC: I think P.M.'s assumption that the rule only applies to male candidates is false. I know plenty of women who drink beer. The real test is how credible the imbibing is. Voter perception of a candidate's true personality is key.

For example, I think Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) easily passes the beer test. Hillary Clinton did not. On the male side, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) passes the beer test. TFG did not.

L.S. in Greensboro, NC: I don't drink beer and never have, so I've always interpreted the question as who I would rather sit on the back porch with on a pleasant day with either a lemonade or an ice tea. The same is true regardless of the gender of the candidate.

B.C. in Phoenix, AZ: As a 72-year-old retired, white, politically hard-left male married for 40+ years to a white, politically moderately left female who is still working, I can tell you it would be monumentally stupid of me to attempt to establish any sort of "rule" for judging women. Period.

A.H. in Ocean City, NJ: If the candidates were female, I wouldn't want to drink with them. I'd much rather share a joint, see if they can be a human, be goofy. Some of my best chats in my adulthood have been over cannabis with friends, looking up at the stars, speculating about our future.

A.C. in Columbus, OH: I think, given our still male-dominated political system, the rule for women would be "Someone you could watch the Packers with," with "Packers" being a stand-in for any team from any sport of your choosing.

Women won't be turned off by this because she will still seem strong and independent, and guys won't be turned off because they feel this woman candidate is "one of the guys" and isn't going to usher in some feminist dystopia where all men are instantly enslaved.

B.A. in Rosemount, MN: Based on my experiences with my wife, daughter, and several women friends, I would have to say wine is the beverage of choice. I would also recommend that any male should just sit and listen, but utter an occasional, "Hmmm, I understand what you're saying" to indicate engagement. Don't ask how I've learned this.

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY: The fundamental sexism pervading American politics requires a different test than "having a beer." Unlike their male counterparts, competent, tough, professional women like Hillary Clinton ("reminds every divorced man of his first wife") or Kamala Harris are, unfortunately, doomed as presidential candidates because too many men—and women—would not want to have a drink with them.

There is one realm of American life, though, where female competence is universally viewed as a plus: motherhood. I think the first woman President will project an element of Great Mom, who is going to look out for all people with love and loving toughness—a mother/grandmother-type like Nancy Pelosi or Ann Richards. My pick is "straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom" Mallory McMorrow (D-MI), and my test would be, "Who would you most like to make fresh-baked cookies for you to have when you get home?"

D.E. in Ashburn, VA: I think in the case of a female candidate, the question could well be different for male and female voters. I've often thought that male voters considering a female candidate might ask, "Does she remind me of my least-favorite school teacher?" (I'd like to know what focus groups reveal in that regard.)

In the case of female voters, I believe it would be something entirely different. Perhaps, "Is she tough enough to withstand the double dose of scrutiny and lead effectively in the still largely male-dominated world of U.S. politics?" Or conversely, "Is she likely to be a lightening rod for constant sexist attacks over the next four years?" I always thought Hillary checked both of these boxes, unfortunately and unfairly in the latter case.

M.M. in San Diego, CA: Try and find me a woman who would turn down a cup of hot chocolate, diet be damned.

A.S. in Bedford, MA: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but surely the female equivalent to the beer rule is that she needs to be fu**able, right?

Now to go watch some Tina Fey and Amy Poehler while I cry for my gender.

C.C. in St. Paul, MN: Oh, I love this question! I do hope that P.M. was not making a blanket assumption that women don't drink beer and men do, but rather recognizing that beer is highly associated with masculinity in our culture. And, there is a shorter list of things our culture seems to think are socially acceptable for two men to do together vs. two women. And don't even get me started on a platonic outing involving a man and a woman.

So I would posit that the idea not only assumes the candidate is male but that the voter is, too. The implication is that the one you'd want to have a beer with is more of an "everyman." But given that there is a segment of our culture constantly whining about what they refer to as the "sissification" of American men, it's almost certainly tied up with that, too.

As for P.M.'s question, I'm fighting a strong urge to just declare whether or not I want to do an activity with a candidate is a terrible measure of their ability to do the job. I'm also fighting a strong urge not to reply with sarcasm. For example, which candidate would I prefer be the one to drive me to an abortion clinic if I needed one?

But I want to try to respect the spirit of the question, and after much digging in my brain, here are some possibilities:

  • Which candidate would I feel safest being alone in a room with?
  • Which candidate would I feel more comfortable having around my niece?
  • Which candidate would I rather play a board game with?
  • Which candidate would I rather attend a memorial service for my loved one?
  • Which candidate would I prefer to be stuck on a long fight next to?

M.A.H. in Warren, MI: Maybe it's the growing impacts of climate change, and the horror of escalating gun violence, and the conservative attacks on our public education system and voting rights, but a vital quality of an electable woman presidential candidate is that she should be someone I would trust to babysit my children.

That's sexist, isn't it?

J.S. in Bellevue, WA: While not directly answering the question at hand, the question about drinking beer with a female leader inspired me to do a bit of research and find these photos. All three of these women were capable leaders, extremely smart and far more interesting than any of the current crop of Democratic or Republican leaders. It would be a privilege to share a drink and a conversation with any one of them:

Angela Merkel with a large tankard of beer, Sanna Marin at a hockey game, Jacinda Ardern in conversation with two people

I can imagine how vastly different the national discourse would be if a leader with the qualities of Chancellor Angela Merkel, PM Sanna Marin or PM Jacinda Ardern were President of the United States (either in our recent past or near future).

Here is the question for next week:

R.D.B. in Winsford, Cheshire, UK, asks: In the U.K. we've had a variety of PMs, good, bad and ugly. In the U.S. you've had your own share of good, bad and ugly presidents.

To my knowledge, only one person could legally have held both positions (Boris). But hypothetically, are there any past PMs who could/would make potentially good presidents or any presidents/nominees who could have been successful PMs?

Submit your answers here!

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr21 The War on Trans, Part I: Politics
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Apr21 This Week in Freudenfreude: 10,000 Is a Big Number
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Apr18 New York Waste of Time, Part I: Jordan Hits the Road
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Apr16 Let the Politicking Begin
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Apr16 It's Spring and Thus Lamb Time
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