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House Budget Could Hurt GOP’s Senate Chances
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The Biggest Bank Run Since the 2008 Crash
Student-Loan Bills Are Set to Come Due
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We got many, many suggestions for possible themes for the upcoming NCAA-bracket-style competition. We narrowed the list down to 20; if you would like to weigh in on the final choice, the ballot is here. It will be available until Monday night at 10:00 p.m. PT; we'll reveal the winner on Tuesday of next week.

Biden Unveils His 2024 Platform... er, His Budget

As expected, Joe Biden unveiled his proposed 2023-24 budget yesterday. As we have pointed out several times already, House Republicans are so far removed from everyone else in terms of what they want, there is zero chance this budget (or anything close to it) becomes law. So, the wily old longtime senator who is now president used it as an opportunity to engage in a little (well, actually a lot of) messaging heading into the 2024 presidential campaign.

There is, incidentally, no question about what's going on here. Biden just so happened to conduct the unveiling in Philadelphia, which is the biggest city in the most important swing state in the country. And, off the record, White House staffers admitted that this the primary goal here was to throw down the gauntlet in front of House Republicans. The actual proposal itself is a very slick 184-page document that contains plenty of verbiage about all the good things Biden says he has done for the American people, and will do for the American people.

Anyhow, here are the portions of the $6.9 trillion budget proposal that stand out to us:

  1. Higher taxes for the rich
  2. Higher taxes for fossil fuel companies
  3. Other changes to corporate taxes that add up to $400 billion/year
  4. New Medicare taxes on people making over $400,000, so as to keep the program solvent until 2050
  5. Partly ending the 2017 Trump-era tax cut
  6. Restoring the child tax credit
  7. Reducing prescription prices through negotiation
  8. Price caps on insulin
  9. Increased money for education and child care
  10. Paid family and medical leave
  11. More money for scientific research
  12. 400% increase in climate-related aid for poor countries
  13. More money for defense
  14. More money for border security
  15. Cut the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years

We've already noted most of these proposals before, as the White House did not exactly keep the highlights of its plan a secret before the big reveal. Nonetheless, it's good to list them all in one place.

The first dozen items on the list could just as easily appear in a budget proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). That stuff is the red meat for the blue base. Or maybe we should say the impossible meat? The tofurkey? The vegan breakfast burritos made with "positive intentions"? The unicorn kibbles and bits?

The most important proposals, in our view, are the last three. Those are things that AOC would not include in her budget, and so are the things that Biden can use to argue that his budget is not socialism run amok, and that it's a fiscally responsible proposal meant to provide important benefits for Americans while also investing in the things that matter to moderate voters. We suspect he'll talk a lot more about his plans for the deficit than about anything else on the list.

Once again, though, this is not a serious budget proposal. Most of these things would never get past the House Republican conference. Heck, many of them would never get past Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). This is just the opening move in this year's game of budgetary chess. Now, it is up to the Republicans to make their countermove. Unfortunately for them, in real chess, the potential opening-game countermoves are obvious. But in this metaphorical chess game, it's not so easy. The members of the House Republican Conference aren't even in agreement about what they want. Nor are the members of the Senate Republican Conference (think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, vs. Sen. Rick Scott, R-FL). So, it's going to be tough for them to come up with a unified proposal. And when and if they do (and there's no guarantee), it's going to be extra tough for them to give the base what it wants without giving the Democrats multiple mallets to hit the Republicans over the head with. (Z)

Bragg about to Win Trump Indictment Marathon?

There have been many stories about how close Donald Trump is to being indicted for one crime or another. And yesterday, The New York Times added another to the pile, involving the investigation that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is conducting into the hush-money payment Trump made to Stormy Daniels.

The new information is this: Bragg has invited Trump to testify before the grand jury that is considering the Daniels matter. Is is extremely unlikely that Trump will accept that invitation, or course. However, the Times' reporting, backed by input from numerous experts in prosecutorial conduct, is that an offer like this is generally a sign that criminal charges are both likely and imminent.

The story does not actually spell out how much time there is in an "imminent," but a few weeks to a month seems to be in line with the general tenor of the piece. The basic idea is that hearing from the would-be defendant is essentially the last step in the process. And so, once Trump says "no, thanks," it will be up to Bragg to complete the paperwork and then present it to a judge. That's not all that complicated a job, since the question being considered is pretty simple, involving only one criminal act and one potential defendant.

Assuming charges do come down, we can see two possible effects. The first is that it might give cover to other folks who are investigating Trump (e.g., Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Special Counsel Jack Smith) to make their moves. It's much harder to be first than it is to be second or third, especially when we're talking about the first indictment of a former president in American history.

The second effect, again assuming an indictment comes down, is that Trump will portray himself as a victim and a scapegoat being persecuted by corrupt Democrats, the Deep State, etc. This will almost certainly become the central theme of his campaigning and his fundraising, at least for a while. And it would be our guess that it will work, at least for now, and that his polling numbers will go up. If and when he is convicted, that could change the calculus. But for now, again assuming Bragg makes a move, polls of the GOP presidential field will have to be taken with many grains of salt for many months as we wait to see if there's a bounce, and then to see if it's a real bounce or just a dead cat bounce. (Z)

Still More Trouble for "George Santos"

As long as we are on the subject of Republican politicians in danger of being nabbed by the long arm of the law, Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY) has yet another headache on his platter. Truth be told, there are so many revelations about him from so many different places that we don't generally bother to mention them anymore. But this one seems pretty serious.

In short, a former roommate of "Santos" named Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, who was convicted of ATM fraud in 2017 and deported to Brazil, just gave the FBI a sworn statement in which he asserts that "Santos" masterminded the whole scheme. "Santos taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards," Trelha asserted in the statement. "He gave me all the materials and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines."

Let's get right to the meat of this. Given "Santos'" apparent track record, this certainly passes the smell test on first examination. If this was ever to come to trial, obviously the Representative's attorneys would make the case that you can't trust a convicted crook like Trelha. That's usually a pretty good argument, but in this case, there does not appear to be any benefit to Trelha in coming forward. He's already been convicted and punished. He says he contacted the FBI because he saw "Santos" being sworn in, and thought it was problematic that someone like him should be participating in the governance of the United States.

The second potential problem, when it comes to whether or not "Santos" might be prosecuted, is whether or not the statute of limitations has run. We do not have the necessary expertise to answer that question, and even if we did have the expertise, we don't have the necessary information (specifically, on what date the most recent alleged crime was committed). We can say a few things, however. First, while many crimes have a statute of limitations of 2-3 years, financial crimes and/or conspiracy tend to have much longer statutes of limitations (often 7 years, which, if true here, would mean that the matter is still open). Second, while the ATM fraud may have ended in 2016 or 2017, Trelha says "Santos" visited him in jail and urged Trelha not to turn state's evidence. If that visit was in, say, 2018 or 2019, then that would set the start date for something like conspiracy or obstruction of justice to 2018 or 2019, as opposed to 2016 or 2017. Third, the FBI says this is "an ongoing investigation," and they took Trelha's statement. It's hard to imagine those things would be true if "Santos" was now immune from prosecution.

In any event, most readers of this site, and most politics-watchers in general, probably don't care too much if "Santos" goes to prison. The real question for most folks is whether he will be able to keep his seat in Congress. He's already under the microscope of the House Ethics Committee, and Thursday's news certainly isn't going to help on that front. There are really only three outcomes possible: (1) "Santos" decides he's better off just throwing in the towel, either because he's tired of the constant scrutiny or he's made some sort of deal with prosecutors, (2) "Santos'" colleagues throw him out on his ear, or (3) he runs out the clock on this term, and then goes away. We listed those from most likely to least likely, in our view, but we could also be persuaded that #2 is slightly more likely than #1. Either way, we don't think he's going to make it to the end of his term. (Z)

The Daily Wire Is Trans Hate Headquarters

We are admittedly giving a lot of attention to trans hatred right now. We think that is a justifiable choice. First, it's the slow part of the election cycle, and so it's not like we are ignoring important news items. Second, it's pretty clear that Republican politicians in general, and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in particular, are prepping to make this a tentpole issue in 2024, so it's worth examining in detail. Third, (Z) once predicted that trans issues would quickly go the way of the dodo, the way gay marriage did. That was obviously way wrong, and needs to be corrected.

The plan, then, is to run another set of reader comments today (see below), and then some more sets next week. We've gotten enough of them that we can now assign specific themes/subjects to the various entries. And while readers are weighing in with their thoughts this week and next, we're going to try to give some of the factual background to the question of trans hate.

Today, we want to direct readers' attention to a key right-wing media source that plays an outsized role in ginning up the base on this issue. It's not Fox, though. Fox does dabble in anti-trans coverage when the story has a culture wars angle, as that is their bread and butter. But even they are generally not willing to go all-out in their anti-trans rhetoric. No, there is no question that the media epicenter of right-wing trans hate is The Daily Wire.

For those who have followed The Daily Wire, this is not a surprise. The site was founded by Ben Shapiro, backed by money from Dan and Farris Wilks, after Shapiro quit Breitbart. Shapiro has many bugaboos, but the two that have always been his signature bugaboos are: (1) Muslims and (2) gender. He has said many and varied hateful and regressive things on both subjects, and has been forced to apologize multiple times for taking things too far. For example, readers who have watched Shapiro's infamous meltdown during an interview with the BBC's Andrew Neil may recall that Shapiro was primarily triggered by Neil's questions about abortion. (Full disclosure: As we have noted before, (Z) and Shapiro worked together at The Daily Bruin, and (Z) got Shapiro fired after Shapiro went on Larry Elder's show and uncorked an anti-Muslim rant in violation of newspaper policy. So no love lost, here.)

Shapiro has actually backed away from his duties at The Daily Wire, taking the title of "editor emeritus" so that he can focus on his vitriol-filled podcast. Nonetheless, he set the tone of the site with item after item railing against trans people. He also played a significant role in hiring the key staff members who serve as the face of The Daily Wire these days, particularly the podcasters Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles, who are the current "stars" of the site and the real subjects of this item.

Walsh, who is a self-described "theocratic fascist," was the first Daily Wire contributor to take Shapiro's lead and really lean into the anti-trans rhetoric. Last year, he produced the "documentary" What Is a Woman?, in which he tricked trans interviewees into sitting for "gotcha" interviews. More recently, Walsh did a segment on a somewhat prominent trans activist named Dylan Mulvaney. We are not going to link to the video; you can find it for yourself if you want to see it. But among the observations made by the podcaster were: "You are weird and artificial, you are manufactured and lifeless, you are unearthly and eerie, you are like some kind of human deepfake," and "Everyone [who] looks at you will see something pitiable and bizarre." Walsh freely admits that his only goal here is to drive the base into a frenzy of loathing.

And then there is Knowles, who is a later arrival to the anti-trans bandwagon, and is clearly trying to make up for lost time. He's been loudly attacking trans people for several months on his podcast, with enough vinegar that it produces headlines a couple of times a week. It was last weekend, at CPAC, when he really decided to go all-in. Here's what he said:

There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing. If transgenderism is true, if men can become women, then it's true for everybody of all ages. If it is false, then for the good of society, and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely—the whole preposterous ideology.

Immediately after the address, Knowles was on Twitter taking a victory lap; you could just see him grinning about how he'd said the naughty part out loud. Eventually, as it became clear that his words were being interpreted as a call to commit mass murder, he somewhat backed off, somewhat apologized, and said he was only referring to "ideology" and not people.

We will just quickly point out a few things about this change of course. First, Knowles did not seem to have much of a problem with the notion of actual murder until he started to get massive blowback. Second, people who commit mass murder often do so in the name of eradicating a so-called "ideology." That includes, of course, one Adolf Hitler. Third, calling transgenderism an "ideology" is like calling homosexuality a "lifestyle." Fourth, even if transgenderism is an ideology, the U.S. does have a little thing called the First Amendment, which protects ideologies from being wiped out by the government. We assume readers have heard of it; apparently Knowles has not.

If you don't believe us that Walsh and Knowles have gone beyond the pale, perhaps you will believe Christina Buttons. She was hired by The Daily Wire 6 months ago to be their reporter on "trans issues." As you can probably infer from that information, she is no supporter of the trans community, and believes that trans activists have sold Americans on a bill of goods that she would like to see corrected. That said, the words of Walsh and especially Knowles went too far, even for Buttons, and so she resigned from The Daily Wire in protest earlier this week.

We had an item earlier this week about politicians tapping into anti-trans sentiment, and now we have this one about media outlets. Next week, there will be one about religious groups. In situations like this, there's always a chicken-and-egg question: Are the politicians/media outlets/religious folks creating the outrage? Or are they just tapping into a pre-existing sentiment and using it for their own purposes? That's hard to answer, but as we consider the overall question of "Why the trans hate?" it is certainly the case that egging on from the right-wing media is at least a part of the answer. (Z)

Why the Trans Hate?, Part IV: Trans Readers Weigh In

We asked trans readers to comment on what has proven to be the question of the week (and the question of next week), and many of them did. Here are some of their responses; we'll have some more next week:

  • Anonymous in Oklahoma: Thank you for speaking out about this issue. I am a closeted transgender woman and a teacher, so I guess that makes me a double pedophile groomer as well as a woke indoctrinator. I have some people who know who I am, and others who only know me as they met me a decade ago before I had my epiphany last year, and I know I have their support, yet I still feel so isolated and like I'm in the old New Yorker cartoon where the shrink says to the patient under their desk: "It's not paranoia when they are out to get you."

    For reasons I don't want to get into I am stuck as an ally in my own fight, which makes it harder to explain to people why this really matters so much, because too many will not be moved until it affects a friend or family member—assuming you remain a friend or family member. Meanwhile our legislature has stripped our first non-binary state rep (also a Muslim and woman of color) of their committee assignments and censured them on false charges of harboring a fugitive for giving a safe space to a traumatized transgender protester at the Capitol. I would love to move to Colorado, but the Holocaust educator in me says Minnesota would be safer with more adjacent (currently) blue states and a border with Canada, which may strengthen its asylum right for transgender refugees from the U.S. and U.K. (I hope they add Uganda.) I also don't want to leave my family behind.

    To M.H. in Seattle and J.T. in Marietta: Under the circumstances we are facing it's hard not to snap back. Let me try to respond with logic rather than passion: Would you have had Act Up not say "Silence Equals Death"? Before throwing activists under the bus, please reread "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and decide who is to blame for bigotry and backlash. And I want to thank the activists and transgender public figures who did not convince me or convert me, but released me to recognize who I am in a way I just couldn't 38 years ago when I had my first awareness in college, but allowed others to convince me the light was an illusion. I don't regret my marriage and my child in any way, but it's hard not to wonder where I might be mentally and emotionally today if I had made the decision to be that Punk Rock Girl back in the 80s. (Thanks, Dead Milkmen!)

  • S.N. in Santa Clara, CA: I am a trans woman who didn't put the pieces of the puzzle together until I was 56 years old and came out publicly as trans at age 60. Rather than trying to address the question of why some people hate trans people, I will address two effects this animosity has on me.

    I hope to retire next year and am/was planning to do driving trips across this country to view scenery up close and enjoy seeing what America offers in cities and towns. Part of the goal is to meet people from all walks of life and learn from them. The increasing animosity toward trans people is causing me to wonder if I will be safe making such trips.

    The second repercussion is my attitude toward Christians. I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition and studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood in my 20s. In the ten years after leaving seminary I gradually transitioned into agnosticism, a change that had nothing to do with me being trans. I know that a great deal of the animosity/hatred/rejection of trans people (and LGBTQ people in general) comes from Christians and is based on bits and pieces they selectively pull from the Bible and interpret to fit their worldview. Even though I work at a Roman Catholic institution where I have been accepted for who I am, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to remember that there are many good people who are Christians and that not all Christians are hateful.

  • F.A. in Klamath Falls, OR: "What [inherently] causes trans hate?" Is a really big question. A more answerable question is, "What caused the huge wave of trans hate we are experiencing right now?" That is being intentionally sown by right wing political operations/operatives like Christopher Rufo, the Alliance Defending Freedom and many others. One can intentionally create a moral panic about all kinds of minor differences of opinion with enough money and organizing power (see: Critical Race Theory).

    Even ideas like "trans activists are too extreme" and supposed examples like calling mothers "birthing people" aren't from The Official Trans Activist PR Department (which obviously does not exist)—-they are individual (possibly unsuccessful) efforts to develop inclusive language that were wildly taken out of context by the right-wing spin machine. This is not the natural consequence of transgender people asking for rights.

    Even if we had asked for that—a feminist slogan I grew up with was "feminism is the radical idea that women are people." But in the year of our Lord 2023, some trans-exclusionary feminists are pretty mad about being referred to as people. This one continues to puzzle me.

    Trans people don't deserve to be fired, denied health care, have our children taken away by the state, or killed even if we are annoying. And these are the current stakes of the fight: Things are revving up in a very bad direction. I go to bed scared every night.

  • A.B. in Wendell, NC: As many regular readers know, I am an old-school, older generation trans woman. I have been out for the better part of 30 years at this point...over 20 of them post-operative.

    I frankly don't care WHY some people hate trans people like me. As far as I am concerned, there is not one single rational reason for the hate directed at us, nor the persecution and discrimination and indignity we endure every day—all while we are expected to smile at it (if we ever get angry about it, the subject suddenly becomes our reaction rather than what caused it)

    I am far more interested in what our allies plan TO DO ABOUT IT. I have said before and I will say again: If I had a nickel for every person who CLAIMED to be an ally, I'd be a millionaire... and if I had a nickel for every person who ACTED LIKE AN ALLY I could not buy a cup of coffee!

    Let me tell your readers of my worst nightmare. It is borne out by the rousing applause Michael Knowles received at CPAC after suggesting that trans people should be eradicated. My greatest fear is that one day, after they have demonized us trans people enough, they will become bold enough to come for us.

    Do I think this is LIKELY? Not necessarily. But I DO think it is very possible. And I have to ask all those self-styled "allies" out there: Where will you be on that day? Where will you be when they come for me? Will you stand in their way, knowing that to do so will be to risk sharing my fate? Or will you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, as so many have done for decades?

    THIS is the very real fear we must live with every day. So I would re-direct the question, if I may be so bold, and ask our allies: "What do you plan to do to combat the rising tide of trans-hate that, after 30 years, we finally acknowledge is real?"

    P.S. If the day of my worst nightmare becomes a reality and, as I fear, my "allies" fail to protect me, just call me Giles Corey. And for those who do not get the reference, I recommend a reading of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The parallels between then and now are frightening.

  • S.B. in Winslow, ME: "That ain't right." Regarding the hatred and discomfort of transgender people, that's the core feeling. It's exacerbated by open and affirming churches, live and let live people, liberal seminaries and universities, and the media communicating that all people are equal in the eyes of God and our constitution. Or to expand on my colloquial opening, "I don't care what anyone tells me—that ain't right."

    As some have pointed out, gender is a core identity. It's so deeply woven into our personal identity and cultural history that it's nearly impossible for someone who isn't trans to begin to understand what it's like to be transgender. Ergo, the "problem" is in a trans person's head and that's what needs to be fixed, not modifying society's beliefs and structure to accommodate a small minority of people.

    I'm optimistic for the long haul. I believe most of society will eventually find a way to be accepting of trans people. The younger generation already is and they'll be the ones who eventually pass along those values in homes, schools, courtrooms, social media, and cafes. Until then, then we who are transgender and our allies and loved ones will continue to move forward, battling the stereotypes and fears, diligently pursuing a day when we hear most people say, "You're trans? That's awesome!"

Thanks for the benefit of your perspective, all. Again, more on the subject next week. Same bat time, same bat channel. (Z)

The World Cup, Part XIV: Group C vs. Group G

We decided that it makes more sense to reveal results in pairs, so the next matchup can commence immediately. And so, this is the last set of first round results; we'll be able to bring this thing home next week.

First up is Group C, which was the slogans from reform movements. Here are the results (winners in bold):

Slogan 1 Pct. Slogan 2 Pct.
Votes for Women 36.7% Make Love, Not War 63.3%
Votes for Women 64.1% There Is No Planet B 35.9%
Votes for Women 39.4% #MeToo 60.6%
Make Love, Not War 83.7% There Is No Planet B 16.3%
Make Love, Not War 53.9% #MeToo 46.1%
There Is No Planet B 25.4% #MeToo 74.6%

That produces these results for Group C:

Slogan W L T
Make Love, Not War 3 0 0
#MeToo 2 1 0
Votes for Women 1 2 0
There Is No Planet B 0 3 0

It would seem the readers prefer making love to saving the planet. We guess we can't blame them.

A few reader comments on Group C:

S.C. in Mountain View, CA: My rankings for this round were:
  1. Votes for Women
  2. #MeToo
  3. There Is No Planet B
  4. Make Love, Not War
In my mind, the first two clearly outranked the other two. I know that the "#MeToo" slogan definitely played (and is still playing) a major part in shining a light on the extent of sexual harassment and assault. As for Votes for Women, I'll take your historical word for the important role that it played in the suffrage movement (and there is no question that that was a very significant movement). I had a hard time deciding which of the two is/was more impactful. I finally decided to rank those two in chronological order, but I wouldn't argue with anyone who wanted to rank them the other way.

I put "Make Love, Not War," in last place because while I participated in anti-war protests while in college, and heard that slogan, I don't think it played an important part in rallying people against the war. And as far as I could tell it didn't play an important part in the sexual revolution either. It was just a cute slogan.

That leaves "There Is No Planet B" in third place by default. It is a cute pun on "There is no plan B." And while global warming is an existential threat, I don't see the slogan as playing an important part in rallying people to the cause. But as global warming is an ongoing crisis, whereas the Vietnam War is history, I would rank it higher than "Make Love, Not War."

B.A.R. in South Bend, IN: I voted for "#MeToo" because I feel that it made several generations of women realize that we have been subjected to a constant barrage of sexism throughout our personal and working lives. Sometimes it was subtle, sometimes it was brazen, but it was always there. As I saw millions of women tell their stories (and as I told mine), it made me realize that this was bulls***. I think it empowered a lot of women to make their voices heard, with their votes and with running for office themselves. The recent decision against Roe v Wade is just another version of the patriarchy, a bunch of men trying to tell women what to do (or what not to do). You didn't include this phrase but it's related to #MeToo: F*** the patriarchy!

P.J.T. in Raton, NM: I chose "Make Love, Not War" because it was the most impactful for me personally (not to negate the power or importance of the others). Your description of the slogan (over) emphasized its sexual dimension, so that you mostly overlooked its spiritual and moral resonance, and its other entendres, which resemble the core teachings of the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and presumably the Christ (though the American Evangelical Christianity of the likes of Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene seems increasingly a hate cult). Even in its naivety, "Make Love, Not War" isn't wrong. Love was the only power strong enough to stop the napalming of children and the horrors of My Lai... We do not burn people alive when Love is our motivation; we can act with mass violence, with aggressive acts of warfare, only when we dehumanize, animalize and vilify the "other," making them less than we. By contrast, we do not bomb, burn, execute or deplore whom we Love. We feed them, clothe and heal them, instead; we welcome them at our hearth. I believe The Beatles meant the same thing in their short and simple song, "The End:" "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." There are no other lyrics. Creating positive karma means we have the means to solve our problems peaceably, and to the benefit of All.

C.L. in Boulder, CO: I found the Word Cup's reform round particularly hard to vote on. If we could score candidates from 0 (no support) to 5 (max support), even if we weren't allowed to have any ties in the election round, all of the reform slogans are worthy of high scores in my opinion, compared to some of the less-worthy candidates in the other two rounds so far.

M.W. in St. Paul, MN: My initial reaction to this list was "Thanks Electoral-Vote for an impossible choice!" But the more I considered it, the easier the choice became. "There Is no Planet B" is certainly significant and a worthy addition, but when weighed as having impact in the moment, it pales compared to the other three. "#MeToo" feels the most impactful of them all, but that could be because we're still living through it. This represents a significant demographic finding their collective voice and the power it harnesses. Still, this movement really owes its moment to the sexual awakening represented in "Make Love, Not War." In that movement, women were realizing that body autonomy was a real and valid claim. I believe that lead directly to Roe v. Wade which, in turn, would provide the empowerment to energize "#MeToo." But the spiritual grandmother of them all has got to be "Votes For Women." That affirmed women HAD a voice to EMPOWER. Claiming that voice would lay the groundwork for the "Make Love, Not War" sexual revolution which would empower "#MeToo." With that line of succession, "Votes For Women" inherits all the power and impact of "Make Love, Not War," and "#MeToo." Easy choice.

J.Z. in St. Paul, MN: I've heard you can tell how old someone is by what they call this bit of punctuation: #. For someone my age (born in the 70s), it's called a pound sign. Needless to say, this makes for an unfortunate twist of meaning every time I see the slogan "#MeToo."

And now Group G, which was "The Fight for Equality":

Slogan 1 Pct. Slogan 2 Pct.
We Shall Overcome 84.3% We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It! 15.7%
We Shall Overcome 90.8% ¡Sí, se puede! 9.2%
We Shall Overcome 64.1% Black Lives Matter 35.9%
We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It! 68% ¡Sí, se puede! 32%
We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It! 25.9% Black Lives Matter 74.1%
¡Sí, se puede! 18.9% Black Lives Matter 81.1%

That produces these results for Group G:

Slogan W L T
We Shall Overcome 3 0 0
Black Lives Matter 2 1 0
We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It! 1 2 0
¡Sí, se puede! 0 3 0

Few slogans have romped in this competition the way that "We Shall Overcome" did. It has the potential to overcome the whole field. Meanwhile, as to "¡Sí, se puede!" it turns out that "¡No, nosotros no podemos!", at least in this context.

A few reader comments on Group G:

B.C. in Manhattan Beach, CA: What a tough set of match-ups!

In my opinion, "We Shall Overcome" wins, just on the basis of longevity. But it was also extremely impactful.

I heard something within that last two or three days that Martin Luther King Jr. came to tears when he heard Lyndon B. Johnson use the phrase in a (televised?) address. The witness to those tears said that it really struck MLK that LBJ was an ally for the cause at that point.

Too early to tell about "Black Lives Matter." Personally, I think there would have been less controversy about that phrase if it had been "Black Lives Matter, Too." Much harder to dispute.

"¡Sí, se puede!" has also had staying power. But there remains lots to be accomplished with the farmworkers and other organized labor.

And, of course, the Gay Rights Movement has had great success of late—but I think their original slogan has not had the same staying power. I thought it was a good observation that the huge difference in the last 10 to 15 to 20 years has been that more people have come out of the closet, and their friends and relatives have accepted them—and by extension, the LGBTQ+ movement generally.

B.B. in Westminster, MD: I hesitate sending this as it reflects poorly on my decision making skills as a child, but I was commenting to my brother the other week about my children's gender-neutral dating habits; they are too young to be sexually active, but they have dated (holding hands, kissing, etc.) both boys and girls and asked if he could have imagined as a kid in the 90's when gay-bashing was the cool thing to do that we would be at a point where being gay would be the cool thing to do. As kids, we knew the slogan "We're Here. We're Queer. Get Used to It!" and would use it as a joke, but look at what's happened. Representation in the media exploded in the 90's and by the 2000's gay marriage was a serious political issue, even though homosexuality remained illegal in several states. And now, we have generally moved to broad acceptance. I think the slogan was not only catchy but also an instruction to society for how they should overcome their fears and move towards where we are today.

D.M. in Granite Bay, CA: This was the first stage that really compelled me to vote, specifically for "Black Lives Matter." Maybe partly because it's still fresh but it is also immediately timeless in both directions, all the way back to the origins of our nation. It is frustrating that we have a need for this movement but I am thankful that is has taken hold.

J.M. in Portland, OR: When I saw "We Shall Overcome" as the first entry on your list I thought that was that. It conjurs up memories that carry real power and emotion. Then I got down to "Black Live Matter." I had to give the nod to that one just because of its freshness. There is no nostalgia associated with that phrase, it is as alive and powerful today as the first time I heard it.

R.H. in Santa Ana, CA: First time I saw Doña Delores was at a small gathering, at which I asked her "What made you and Cesar think it was possible to organize the farm workers?"

She replied "I did not think it was possible, but I knew it was NECESSARY."

Most likely she'd been asked that question before, but that was the answer she gave, without hesitation.

L.S. in Greensboro, NC: Wow, this is the toughest group yet. With every previous set there was a clear #1, or at most a top 2 (which will advance them to the knockout round). But in this one all four are great, impactful slogans. It's going to be very tough to figure out how to vote. The one thing I can say for sure, there will be slogans advancing from some of the other rounds that are inferior to the two that get knocked out her. Clearly this is the "Group of Death"!

S.S. in Toronto, ON, Canada: I was kind of expecting to see both "Black Power" and "Black is Beautiful," which predated "Black Lives Matter." As a teenager in the 60s, I remember those first two as being quite earth-shaking and eye-opening. I almost think they had more effect than the later, noisier "Black Lives Matter"—which, of course, was very powerful on a different level—but the latter, certainly, in my opinion, rose directly on the foundation of "Black Power" and "Black is Beautiful."

Here are all the ballots for this round of the Word Cup:

We'll reveal the results of this round on Tuesday, so get your votes in no later than 10 p.m. ET Monday. And we continue to appreciate comments on any or all of these matchups. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude: He Who Lives by the Sword...

There really isn't much for us to add here, so we present these videos without comment, other than to note that we don't particularly like linking to Twitter these days, but we can't find any other source that has these.

To start, what would have happened if Tucker Carlson had been around to cover the JFK assassination? Comedy Central's The Daily Show has a pretty good idea:

Or what if Carlson had covered the Nazi invasion of Paris?

These are just a couple of examples; social media is chock-full of people imagining Carlson's coverage of Watergate, Pearl Harbor, The Hindenburg disaster, the sinking of the Titanic, various World War I battles, and just about anything else where there is film or photographic evidence. And The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri even had a piece about Carlson's upcoming revelation that the dinosaurs were not actually killed by a meteorite striking the Earth.

In addition to the JFK footage, The Daily Show also came up with something that stretches credulity to the breaking point. What if, on his show, Carlson covered... the truth?

Needless to say, this sort of fantasy could not possibly come to pass.

In any case, he who lives by the selective edit dies by the selective edit. And if there is anyone this week more deserving of ridicule and scorn than Carlson, we just don't know who that person might be. (Z)

This Week in Freudenfreude: When Life Hands You Lemons, Run a 5K

It is hardly a secret that most Americans did not cope well with the COVID pandemic. Some bore up as best they could, but nonetheless suffered the privations that come from that kind of enforced isolation or semi-isolation, things like restlessness, depression, weight gain, ruined occasions (weddings, graduations), loss of employment, etc. Others responded by lashing out, and turning into antisocial jerks, refusing to take protective measures, indulging in conspiratorial thinking, etc.

Meanwhile, if there is anyone who did better at coping with the pandemic than Mae Dean Erb, we do now know who that person is. Erb is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in the tiny town of Blackgum, OK. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, she was cut off from her usual social activities and also from the people and facilities that were part of her exercise routine. So, she decided to run a 5K. And then she decided to do it again the next day, and again the day after. Sometimes she ran, sometimes she jogged, sometimes she walked. And as 5 days in a row became 10, and 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, she just kept the streak going.

This week, the streak reached 1,000 consecutive days. That means that since the pandemic started, Erb has piled up mileage equivalent to the distance between Los Angeles and New York City, with enough left over to head down to Durham, NC, for some of that excellent BBQ. She is not sure when she will end her run of runs (and walks), but does not expect it to be anytime soon. "I'm afraid good habits are as hard to break as bad ones. I can't imagine getting up one morning and not doing a 5k after doing this many," she observed.

There's one other thing worth noting. In a couple of months (on May 7, specifically), Erb will celebrate her 80th birthday. "I don't hurt anywhere. I have knee issues every once in a while, with, I guess age, but it's really wonderful thing (walk/run) to do," she explained. "It's just something you should do for yourself and your family, and when you have a 4-year-old grandson, you want to stay young enough to pick him up and run with him and catch him if he's going in the wrong direction." She also added that her grandson is "very fast."

The linked article includes comments from friends and neighbors who say that Erb is an inspiration to them. That seems pretty on point to us, particularly given that all of this came out of a pandemic that caused so many others to lash out in unproductive ways. So, a tip of our hats to Mae Dean Erb. And our best wishes for a good weekend to all! (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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