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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Koch Will Try to Block Trump with Nikki Haley
      •  Inflation Is Quite Deflating
      •  Tuberville Prepares to Punt
      •  Get Ready for Another Debate
      •  America Bids Farewell to Rosalynn Carter
      •  Sununu Says He Would Vote for Donald Trump in 2024
      •  It's Almost Rhyme Time!

Koch Will Try to Block Trump with Nikki Haley

The living Koch brother (Charles) leads a network of well-to-do political donors, pretty much all of whom hate Donald Trump. This is due, in part, to the fact that Team Koch is very libertarian and Team Trump is not. And it is due, in part, to the fact that a Trump presidency introduces instability and uncertainty, and those things are bad for business. So, the Kochtopus really would like another Republican presidential candidate to rally behind, someone who is not a Trump clone like Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Yesterday, Koch announced that he and his fellows have found their champion in the person of Nikki Haley.

The Koch network is very dialed in, so it's not like they just woke up yesterday and became aware of Haley's candidacy. It's been obvious for a very long time that the only GOP candidates who, if not on the same page, are at least in the same book as the Koch group, are Haley, Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). What the billionaires were waiting for was some faint hope that one of those three became viable enough that throwing money at them was not a total waste. Now, either because Haley is surging, or because the Koch network is getting desperate, they've discovered that faint hope with Haley.

It is undoubtedly good news for Haley '24 that she is rising in polls, and now she's got big-time financial backing. And it's certainly big enough news that we had to write about it. But we are not buying, for one second, that this is any kind of game changer. Dumping money on Haley is not all that much different from just shoveling it into a fireplace.

Broadly speaking, money will only get you so far, especially when it's coming from a small number of fat cats. The Kochs can't give their money directly to Haley; all they can do is support her through a PAC. That means TV commercials, maybe some ground game, maybe some mailers. Oh, and the PAC has to pay a much higher price for advertising because it's not a campaign. Koch and friends could drop $1 billion on Haley, and it still wouldn't move the needle enough to erase even a small fraction of the roughly 40 points by which Haley trails Trump. Remember Michael Bloomberg.

And to add a bit more in the way of specifics, let's squint and try to game this thing out in the best-case scenario for Haley. If evangelicals really are pissed about Donald Trump's snotty comments, and if the Koch money is enough to create the greatest ground game in history, there's a chance that in the wonky caucus system, Haley pulls out a miracle victory in Iowa.

Then, since she's spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, and since the state's Republicans are pretty moderate, and since small electorates can produce weird results, maybe she scores another upset in the Granite State.

After that is South Carolina, where Haley is not polling especially well. Still, maybe on the heels of two wins in a row, she manages to rally some "favorite daughter" sentiment, and pull off a third straight upset.

There are a whole lot of "ifs" and "maybes" and "just possiblys" in there, but various quirky aspects of the first three states allow us to at least imagine a world in which Haley gets off to a roaring start. But then what? Not long after South Carolina, we start running into big states and/or states that vote in groups. Ground game, money, "favorite daughter," wonky electorates, etc. will no longer be enough (or close to enough) to win. Meanwhile, many of the states that vote after the first four are full of Trumpy voters who don't concern themselves with electability, don't care if Trump might go to prison, and don't want to vote for any person who is not The Donald, no matter how Trumpy a non-Trump candidate might pretend to be. Point is, Koch and his friends can maybe keep the fantasy going for a few months, but there is a 100% chance that Haley will eventually run into a Trumpy wall that cannot be surmounted. Which, by the way, is the only Trumpy wall that actually has the power to stop someone.

Of course, even if the Koch network is just a side show, and one that's about to waste millions of dollars on a wild goose chase, Trump does not like it when someone opposes him, particularly in high-profile fashion. So, he was furious about the news, and his campaign sent out an e-mail blast that, well, blasted Koch & Co.:

"Patriot, With [sic] just hours to go until the 11/30 end-of-month fundraising deadline, a corrupt network of globalist RINO donors announced they're going to spend TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to prop up a puppet GOP candidate to try and defeat us in the primary," began the emailed fundraising appeal. "Voting begins in only 48 DAYS—and these RINO backstabbers are now going to launch a last-minute vicious assault against us in the early primary states."

As a reminder, "corrupt network of globalist(s)" is thinly veiled code for "Jews." Charles Koch is not Jewish (he's agnostic), nor are his fellow Koch Networkers, but who cares about piddling details when there's opportunity for a little subtle bigotry? And, truth be told, now that Trump is persuaded that Haley is enemy #1, the outright bigotry should be along very soon. Well, unless he mixes it up a bit and goes with some outright misogyny, instead.

All this said, we must acknowledge that voters are a funny lot, and they make the unexpected possible. There is one other scenario that is conceivable, however unlikely. Suppose Haley manages to win most or all of four early states due to their own peculiarities. Then, on March 4, Trump goes on trial. The only news that day will be the trial. The next day, Super Tuesday, 16 states and American Samoa will vote. The combination of four early wins, $100 million worth of Kochtopus ads for weeks in those states, and the start of the trial, might just shake up enough voters to allow Haley to win a few states. If that happens, there could be a real race going forward. All the stars have to align perfectly for this to happen, but stranger things have happened in politics (like a reality TV actor being elected president in 2016). (Z)

Inflation Is Quite Deflating

Yesterday, we had a letter from M.B. in Overland Park, KS, arguing that Americans are being hit hard by inflation at the grocery store, to the detriment of Joe Biden. And we had a response from A.S. in Chicago, IL, arguing that the talk of inflation is overblown. We also included some numbers that, in our view, largely supported A.S.'s argument about inflation, while also noting that doesn't necessarily mean M.B. is wrong about the impact on Biden's approval ratings.

That piece got a... vigorous response. In view of this, we thought we might share some of those letters while the subject is fresh in readers' minds. We begin with follow-ups from the readers who started it all:

M.B. in Overland Park, KS, writes: While food prices adjusted for past time periods may not show big increases, and on an item-to-item basis there are likely some that have returned to normal, but there are many that have not. Milk, bread and butter among them. At least here in KC.

In any case, the thrust of my argument is the perception that food prices are higher and continuing to rise despite the news reports that inflation is slowing. The consumer doesn't believe inflation is slowing when staple foods become more expensive every time they visit the store. They won't give credit to Joe Biden if they can't see it happening themselves.

Academic comparisons to past adjusted prices don't matter to them (as Z points out). The price keeps going up. That's the fact they know.

They ask: What is going to stop this price creep? Why is no one concerned about me and the price of bread and milk and butter going up every time I visit the store? They feel gouged because they see no reason for this continued rise besides greedy shop owners and producers showing record profits. And see nobody advocating for them.

Ironically, President Biden addressed price gouging in the news yesterday afternoon. And while it may only be lip service paid to this issue, ignoring it, and hoping people forget that prices are higher doesn't seem to be a very good strategy since, at least in my area, the stores are not likely to allow their customers to forget.

It is also my opinion that the prices for eggs, bacon, and other items that have fallen in recent months are somewhat attributable to the attention that these price hikes garnered in the media.

People see the cost increases with their own eyes and they see very little response from politicians. Democrats need to at least say "I feel your pain." If they don't, Republicans will.

A.S. in Chicago, IL, writes: Thanks for publishing my letter about the economy. There is a disconnect between the actual state of the economy and what people WANT to believe about it.

GDP is strong, unemployment is low, inflation is 3% for 3 months, gas prices are down 60 days in a row, Cyber Monday just set a new record, and on and on.

So the question is, why do so many people believe the economy is not doing well?

Because the media and Trumpists have a vested interest in saying so, even though the objective data says otherwise.

I am aware that you know the facts as I have described them, but we have to keep emphasizing that the economy is in good shape as noted by all the objective data.

A.C. in Zenia, CA, writes: When a price goes up from $1.40 in 2019 to $2.86 (eggs) in 2022, that price has gone up. According to your chart, prices increased from $3.04 to $4.09 (milk), from $5.61 to $7.31 (bacon) and from $4.14 to $5.89 (coffee) in those 3 years. No one I have ever met says to themselves, "Well, it hasn't really gone up because those are the 'adjusted-to-2022-dollars prices,' so it doesn't really bother me." Those prices are adjusted for inflation. Do you guys think this way in the grocery store? And very, very few people think that because their 401(k) has gone up, or their home value has gone up, the grocery store prices don't matter to them. And, of course, many millions of voters are at or just above the poverty line, so they don't have a 401(k) or own a house.

I agree with M.B. in Overland Park, who wrote, "Pissed off people who shop and feel gouged... will not be voters that are enthusiastic enough to show up [and vote.]" Your headline, "Inflation, Not So Much, Say the Numbers" might be better amended to say "...not so much say the numbers massaged by economists who love to massage data." So I would agree with M.B. that Biden should say something about grocery store prices, and if at all possible, DO something to try to bring them down. Is the federal government really unable to affect this? (Biden made some deal with MBS to bring gas prices down, right?)

Having said that, as a person who lives in a rural area (and has written a book about rural living), food prices in the U.S. are very, very low in comparison with most other countries. Earl Butz, in the Nixon Administration (from what I understand) promoted and enacted policies that drove down "commodity" prices, in order to quiet an angry urban electorate, with disastrous effects on the family farm. So, I actually think we SHOULD pay more for food in this country, so that small and medium sized farms and farmers can thrive in rural areas. After all, these are the folks who produce the very food we eat.

D.M. in Spokane, WA, writes: On Tuesday you published a table showing a comparison of current prices for four grocery items today to the prices for the same items over time. You showed the "adjusted for inflation price" to make earlier prices directly comparable to today's. Most of your readers would understand that, but the typical shopper doesn't. I don't know how many times I have explained "adjusted for inflation" to acquaintances who simply equate a higher price today to a lower price at some time in the past as being unconscionable. They simply refuse to accept that wages and salaries are inflated also, and that they have to compare the price now to the price after adjustment. In fact, a cousin became very upset with me over this, and shouted, "A dollar is a dollar, goddamn it, I don't care when it is."

D.N. in Elgin, IL, writes: I'm glad to see someone else responded to M.B in Overland Park. Instead of complaining about grocery prices they should be doing a little comparison shopping.

My usual grocery store is Meijer. Here are a couple of regular-price signs from today. A dozen eggs for $1.39 and a gallon of milk for $2.72:

Eggs for $1.39 a dozen; milk
for $2.72 a gallon

There are brand-name grocery stores near me (ahem, Jewel) where a box of my favorite cereal (Post Great Grains) is more than $9, whereas at Meijer it's something over $5.

M.T. in Cincinnati, OH, writes: After reading today's comments regarding inflation, I feel compelled to add my bit because I'm feeling the squeeze like everyone else.

Prices have gone up but my wages have NOT. Period. My wages have remained flat for the last 5 YEARS. The only people getting raises are management. The people who actually make the company money get nothing.

While inflation may not be that bad, my WAGES have NOT INCREASED. Therefore, everything costs more to me.

As an example, I buy bottled soda at a convenience store on the way to work to have on the job (since we have no place to buy pop or snacks on site and everything is closed during my shift). That has gone up by $1 per bottle since 2020. That adds up quickly.

My electric bill has also gone up. So have my home Internet bill, my water bill, my insurance and my property tax. ALL of this has gone UP but my wages have not gone up AT ALL.

Of course, Biden has nothing to do with any of this. Arguing that there's "no inflation" misses the point. Even a small price increase to everyday purchases adds up quickly when you haven't gotten a raise in 5 years.

I'm sure most readers don't notice as much as some of us living paycheck-to-paycheck do. Even small price increases to everything quickly add up to a huge bill when you haven't gotten a pay increase to match the price increases. You just get more and more underwater.

THAT is why some of us are mad. It's just a general "mad" about everything going up in price. Biden gets the blame because he's there. Like yelling at the dog because you stubbed your toe.

I.S. in Durango, CO, writes: My theory as to why some people think prices have spiked is another red/blue divide. These days Democrats tend to be more educated and wealthy and care more about the environment than Republicans, factors that lead to buying more local and/or organic foods, which typically cost more. I happen to buy my eggs from a local rancher for $5/dozen, my bacon from the local college's ag outlet for $10/pound, organic milk from the supermarket by the half gallon ($4/half gallon or $8/gallon), and gourmet coffee beans from the supermarket, which are neither organic nor local, but higher quality and fresher, for $12/pound.

All of these are more expensive than the prices you listed, but they've all been the same for at least the past 3 years. The only difference I've noticed is that sale prices are higher than they used to be: The milk I buy used to go on sale sometimes for $3.29 and I don't think I've seen it under $3.59 lately, and ditto the coffee used to go on sale for $8/pound and now is never under $9/pound.

Maybe the higher-end products have more of a profit cushion baked in, so the sellers don't need to raise the prices even as the cost goes up? Or maybe it's that the sellers are worried that their customers will abandon them for cheaper commercial products if they make them even more expensive?

(Also I note that I'm paying approximately twice the average for all these staples, except for bacon, for which I pay less than 150%. I guess if I do need to economize, I'll have to go on an all-bacon diet...)

A.M. in Petrolia, CA, writes: I want to take issue about your two recent items about inflation and prices. I read your index pricing with interest because I have no idea where people are buying a dozen eggs for $2.86. Maybe it's because I live in California, but even at my discount grocery store, the best I can do on eggs is around $5.50. And it's not just eggs.

For the first time in my adult life, my family of four is struggling month-to-month, and often coming up short, despite the fact we have two wage earners in the house. EVERYTHING costs more, from gas, to health insurance, interest rates on our mortgage, home insurance, to tires, and more. And all those increases add up. The "economy" may look good on paper, but my bank statement at the end of the month doesn't lie. So much so that I have no idea how I'm going to pay for Christmas presents.

So yes, I'm pissed off, anxious, struggling, and every time I think I'm going to get ahead, something else increases in price and erases the gain. It's literally been like this for years. Where is the disconnect? I'm not sure, but don't blow off the struggles people are experiencing just because the numbers don't suggest it's real. Not affording Christmas (or the braces my kid needs, let alone college next year, or anything extra at all really) is real. We don't eat out because we can't afford it. We don't take vacations because we can't afford it. And I'm not the only one. Every day I see moms in my local Facebook group asking for help feeding their families through the end of the month. It strikes me as elitist to say that everyone is making it up.

J.E. in Gilbertsville, PA, writes: After reading your piece and seeing the averaged numbers, it occurs to me that average numbers will not tell the story of an individual family. My experience matches up with M.B. in Overland Park. I keep very detailed spreadsheets, by calendar year, of all of our family's expenditures, which makes it very easy to go back and see if we are spending more on groceries, and if my pay has increased apace. I went back to 2021 (because older ones are on a thumb drive, and I have a meeting in 9 minutes), and in 2021 we spent an average of $407.27/week on groceries for a family of 5. In 2022 I became concerned about what we were spending on groceries (It used to be well under $407/week) and so I started shopping at discount grocery chains, buying off-brand food, and shopping multiple stores and their sales. It's a lot more work than it used to be. And our average weekly grocery expenditure in 2023? $422.04.

My income most definitely has not outpaced these increases—my pay has gone up a whopping $42 per paycheck. I get paid every other week, so in a 2-paycheck month I make $84 more and I spend $59.08. My husband's pay has not gone up even a penny in that time. In addition, we drive diesel vehicles and fuel remains incredibly high, car insurance has gone up, local taxes have gone way up, all of our utility bills have gone way up, etc., etc., etc. Not to mention we now have three kids in college (in 2021, we had 1). We aren't the only family for whom everything has increased in price, and we are like everybody else in that we are very angry that we have to run to three grocery stores every week and still we are paying more for groceries!

E.R. in Irving, TX writes: A.S. in Chicago posed a question to M.B. in Overland Park: "Where are you shopping? I have not paid more than $1.20 for a dozen eggs, for example, in 10 months."

Eggs here at my local Kroger are currently $5-6+/dozen and $1-2/dozen at the same time, based on if you want the big bougie brown cage-free ones or the regular enslaved-chicken-in-a-cage ones or some other variety, such as the $10/dozen blue pasture raised "heirloom" eggs (whatever an "heirloom" egg is).

So, yes... people can go to the grocery store and see the price of a dozen eggs for $6 or even $10 and say "Bidenomics" or "post-pandemic price gouging capitalists" or whatever makes them feel good and then proceed to spend well under $2 for the dozen eggs they actually take home with them.

From this, at least three themes suggest themselves to us:

  • This is a wildly complicated issue, as anything macroeconomic tends to be. Consider all the moving parts covered above: geography, differences across grocery chains, organic vs. non-organic, differences across commodities, brand name vs. off-brand, sale prices vs. regular prices. And nobody even mentioned one of the most sneaky and pernicious forms of grocery inflation, wherein producers keep the price level, but shrink the amount of product (e.g., 32 oz. boxes of cereal magically become 30 oz. boxes of cereal).

  • Averaged out, increases in a person's or a family's costs will generally be offset by increases in income and/or asset value. But that's on average; clearly there are plenty of individuals where income/asset growth is not keeping up with costs.

  • Fair or not, Joe Biden is going to get some of the blame for this. And remember, the readership of this site skews Democratic. Just think what the letters would be like if they were mostly from independents, or Republicans.

The big question is what Biden might do about this problem (just in case he doesn't have enough issues to worry about). One possibility, which we've mentioned several times, is to rage against the grocery-industrial machine a bit, just so Americans know that the President shares their concerns. Although, and as M.B. in Overland Park points out, Biden did speak out against high prices in a speech earlier this week:

Any corporation that has not brought their prices back down, even as inflation has come down, even as the supply chains have been rebuilt, it's time to stop the price gouging. Give the American consumer a break.

This speech was given as part of launching an initiative to try to help... bring down prices. So, Biden is clearly aware of the problem, and is clearly trying to grapple with it. Not that it got much news coverage.

In any event, it's hard to imagine that prices are going to drop much; likely not enough that people sit up and say "Wow, eggs and coffee are back to being affordable again!" So what else can Biden do? He can keep talking about high prices and how unfair they are, and maybe that will help some. Certainly, Franklin D. Roosevelt did himself much good by merely convincing people that he understood their problems and cared, even if his options were sometimes limited.

Beyond that, there is the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970. It gives presidents pretty broad authority to regulate prices in the name of stabilizing the economy, and has largely stood up to court challenges. Richard Nixon used that authority to execute, via executive order, the so-called Nixon shock of 1971. The good news is that, in the short-term, the maneuver helped cool inflation and to rebalance wages and costs. The bad news, and the reason that we haven't seen a similar move since, is that Nixon's maneuvering set the stage for the recession of 1973-75, and for the stagflation of the late 1970s.

In short, the U.S. economy is a very dangerous toy to play with. Biden might decide that he has no choice but to channel his inner Tricky Dick, but boy howdy, that is not his usual style. (Z)

Tuberville Prepares to Punt

As we noted yesterday, the Democrats have cooked up some procedural magic that will allow them to break Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) blockade of military promotions. The blue team will need roughly 10 Republican votes to make it work, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) clearly thinks he has them, or he wouldn't be promising so cavalierly that the matter is about to be resolved.

There was further compelling evidence yesterday that the game is up, and it came from Tuberville himself. In a meeting with his fellow Republican senators, he advised that he's not going to let Democrats embarrass him, and that "I got y'all into this mess. I'm gonna get you out," making clear that he's going to bring about a resolution before one is forced upon him.

It is hard to imagine what Tuberville's "plan" might be, besides "surrender." That is to say, there's no clever or tricky way that we can think of to say "I'm not going to block the promotions anymore" other than to say "I'm not going to block the promotions anymore." He may come up with some sort of political theater, so he can save face, and pretend that he was the one in control the whole time. It will be interesting to see what that is, if anything, but whatever may come to pass, it's clear that he knows he's lost. Just like he did 99 times as a football coach. (Z)

Get Ready for Another Debate

The bad news is that there's another debate between politicians this week. The good news is that this one might be at least a little bit interesting, as it's not just going to involve candidates whose primary interest is not pissing off Donald Trump and his supporters.

We speak, of course, of the debate between Ron DeSantis and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA). The clash of gubernatorial titans was on for a while, then off, then on, then off again, and now it's definitely on. Newsom has agreed to debate in hostile territory, as the debate will be hosted by Fox and moderated by Sean Hannity. That said, if you go into the lion's den and win, it's all the more impressive. And if you lose, well, nobody really expects you to beat a lion.

Truth be told, this is the rare situation where both candidates could end up as winners. DeSantis is primarily appealing to 2024 Republican voters and, to the extent that there's any hope left for him, this could be his last chance to get some momentum by owning a lib. For Newsom, who is appealing to 2028 Democratic voters, this is something of a national coming out party for him. If he performs well, it could give him an early lead in the 2028 horse race (with, admittedly, many, many laps to go).

The tête-à-tête begins a bit on the late side—9:00 p.m. ET on Thursday—and will be broadcast on Fox "News." And again, it could be interesting. At very least, there will be no Vivek Ramaswamy, which is a major selling point. This could also be one of the last debates of the 2024 cycle, since the Republican candidates' debates are reaching the end of their usefulness, and since Donald Trump figures to boycott the presidential debates. (Z)

America Bids Farewell to Rosalynn Carter

Yesterday, the public funeral for former first lady Rosalynn Carter was held. She received a very appropriate send-off, with all of the living first ladies in attendance, along with three presidents: her husband Jimmy, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

In theory, a state-type funeral like this is supposed to be an occasion where the politics are left at the door, and everyone can come together in memory of the deceased. Unfortunately, we live in an era where there is no such thing as an event that is non-political and controversy free, whether it's a turkey pardon, or the White House Christmas decorations, or a high-profile funeral. In this particular case, as you might guess, the controversy centered on Melania Trump's presence.

The problem here is not only that Trump was a first-lady-in-absentia, and that her family's politics are the polar opposite of what the Carter family believes, but also that Donald Trump has said some very insulting things about the Carters over the years. Most recently, shortly after Rosalynn entered hospice care, The Donald said: "The happiest person anywhere in this country right now is Jimmy Carter because his administration looked brilliant compared to these clowns." Even though the remark was not about Rosalynn's health woes, it was obviously very crass to talk about how happy Jimmy Carter must be at that moment.

In the end, Melania Trump was in a no-win situation; if she skipped the service it would have been tacky, and by showing up she became an unwelcome reminder of her husband's bad behavior. For our part, we probably come down on the side of commending her for subjecting herself to the harsh glare of public scrutiny. Melania hates that, and it surely would have been the much easier thing for her to remain holed up at whatever Trump property she's living at these days.

This is also a reminder that, for the foreseeable future, the Trumps are going to complicate (and taint) funerals and other such events. What happens, for example, when Jimmy dies (an event not too far off, it appears)? If one Trump or both skip the funeral, then it's disrespectful to Carter and to the office of the presidency. But if they show up, well, they will be not especially welcome, and will be a net negative for the proceedings. It's a shame that #45 could never bring himself to do the civil, nonpartisan things like attend his successor's inauguration or host his predecessor's White House portrait unveiling. With that precedent, the die was cast.

That said, as a reminder that there's still some class in the world, it should be noted that Melania Trump was encouraged to come because Rosalynn Carter asked that she be invited. As a bonus, Jimmy Carter was escorted to the service by a Black healthcare assistant. After depositing the former president at his assigned seat, the assistant headed to the back of the church, only to be approached by an usher and led to a seat in the third row, just behind the Carter family and all the presidents and first ladies. It was a subtle, but very nice, moment.

Today, Rosalynn Carter will be laid to rest at the family home in Plains, GA. May she rest in peace. (Z)

Sununu Says He Would Vote for Donald Trump in 2024

Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) is sometimes held out as the kind of fellow who might just lead the Republican Party out of the Trump Desert, and back to sanity. After all, he's moderate (by modern Republican standards), he has some crossover appeal, and he has direct ties to the 1980s version of the GOP. Oh, and he has lambasted Donald Trump and called him "fu**ing crazy."

Anyone who is thinking that should get to work looking elsewhere. Sununu sat for an interview recently and was asked what he would do if the presidential ballot came down to Joe Biden and Donald Trump. While the Governor said there's still a chance Trump won't be the GOP standard-bearer, he also said that he'd most certainly vote for Trump ahead of Biden, explaining simply that "I'm a Republican."

Truth be told, it's a little bit interesting that yet another Republican white knight (red knight?) has proven to be a mirage, with no particular courage of their convictions. More interesting, and the reason we ran with this story, is the unbelievable power of that little (R), or that little (D). It's hardly the first time we've noted this, but while the (R) and the (D) used to be reasonably accurate indicators of policy positions, it was also the case that if a candidate veered too far away from mainstream (R) ideas (like, say, Barry Goldwater) or too far away from mainstream (D) ideas (like, say, George McGovern), then some sizable chunk of their voters could be counted on to cross the aisle. These days, on the other hand, it really doesn't matter if the (R) is really an (R), or if the (D) is really a (D); all that matters is that the letter is there.

The Trumpy voters are particularly enmeshed in this dynamic. Earlier this week, Slate's Ben Jacobs had a piece in which he observed that Trump followers aren't really partisans anymore, they are fans. The Dallas Cowboys could move to Houston, or to London, or to the moon and they would still have tens of millions of rabid fans, unavailable to any other team. And similarly, Donald Trump could become a Democrat, or an independent, or a resident of FPC Pensacola, and he'd still have tens of millions of rabid fans, unavailable to any other politician.

We wish we had some wisdom as to what might break this fever of hyper-loyalty, but we really don't have any. The exit of Donald Trump from the political stage, whenever it might happen, will probably help mix things up some. But beyond that, who knows what might help break down the partisan divide that has become a partisan canyon. (Z)

It's Almost Rhyme Time!

December is just a few days away. And if ever there's a time when everyone could stand to be fortified a little by some laughs or some inspiration, then this is it. Every reader of this site knows 2024 is going to be a bumpy ride.

In other words, the mailbox is open for our annual month of politically themed verse. Limericks, haikus, sonnets, free verse, etc.; it's all welcome. As per usual, we'll pick a couple of selections a day to run, usually tied to that day's news. We look forward to your submissions!

Oh, and we have a bunch of other stuff that we need to get to; that's way easier when (Z) is not sick and when school is not in session. So expect a fair bit of fall cleaning in December, as well. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov28 Trump Apparently Wants to Hand the Democrats Another Campaign Issue
Nov28 Biden Less Popular Than Any Governor
Nov28 Inflation? Not So Much, Say the Numbers
Nov28 Tuberville About to Come Up Short... Again
Nov28 Kevin McCarthy, Historian
Nov28 Sports Illustrated Goes There
Nov27 Will Abortion Save the Democrats in 2024?
Nov27 Could A Big Mac Sink Biden?
Nov27 Are Democrats Freaking Out over the Wrong Thing?
Nov27 The Second Time Is Not Usually the Charm
Nov27 States Want to Count the Votes Faster in 2024
Nov27 Georgia Not on My Mind
Nov27 Could Dean Phillips Help Trump?
Nov27 And Could the Fake Electors Hurt Trump?
Nov27 "Santos" Says He expects to Be Expelled from the House
Nov27 Busing Migrants Has Gone Nationwide
Nov27 American Politics Has Become Really Gross
Nov26 Sunday Mailbag
Nov25 Saturday Q&A
Nov24 Wheels Are Coming Off the DeSantis Campaign
Nov24 Florida Republicans Release Primary Ballot
Nov24 Trump Disdains Christians? You Don't Say...
Nov24 The Democratic Trump
Nov24 No Abortion Initiative in Nevada... for Now
Nov24 The Terrorist Attack That Wasn't
Nov24 The Land of the Free?
Nov24 This Week in Schadenfreude: The Brain Drain Is Underway
Nov24 This Week in Freudenfreude: Gobble, Gobble
Nov23 People's Exhibit 3054 Is Bad News for Trump
Nov23 Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Gerrymandering Case
Nov23 Biden Loves Football
Nov23 Why Do People Say the Economy Sucks?
Nov23 Democrats Need to Prioritize Black Men
Nov23 Some of Trump's Former Aides Are Dismayed That No One Listens to Them
Nov23 Cornel West Is Targeting Michigan
Nov23 Republicans Are Promoting Sinema to Democrats in Arizona
Nov23 Democrats Are Actively Trying to Flip State Legislative Chambers
Nov23 Welcome to 2028
Nov23 Biden vs. LBJ
Nov23 There was a Dutch Parliamentary Election Yesterday
Nov22 Mike Johnson Has Some Decidedly Non-Mainstream Ideas
Nov22 Utahns Hold True to Form
Nov22 In-N-Out; That's What the U.S. House Is All About
Nov22 Maybe Hold off on Picking New Curtains, Gov. Gaetz
Nov22 Today in Dissembling: Peter Meijer
Nov22 Federal Judge Orders Improperly Dated Ballots to Be Counted in 2024
Nov22 Houston, We Have Voter Fraud
Nov21 The 2024 Calendar Is Beginning to Fill In
Nov21 Happy Birthday, Mr. President... Happy Birthday to You
Nov21 Reminder #472 about What Kind of Presidency Trump v2.0 Would Be