Biden 219
image description
Ties 13
Trump 306
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (134)
  • Likely Dem (71)
  • Barely Dem (14)
  • Exactly tied (13)
  • Barely GOP (104)
  • Likely GOP (101)
  • Strongly GOP (101)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2020 2016 2012
New polls: (None)
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: AZ GA ME MI NV PA
Political Wire logo Trump Liken Migrants to Hannibal Lecter
J.D. Vance Hedged on Whether He’d Accept Election Result
Jim Justice Faces Heavy Business Debts
Putin Shakes Up Kremlin Security Team
Schools Brace for Widespread Teacher Layoffs
Abortion Ballot Measures Keep Distance from Democrats

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Sunday Mailbag

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

Sunday Mailbag

This week's mailbag has a better balance between topics than last week's.

Politics: The 2024 Presidential Race

C.F. in Waltham, MA, writes: Just like when Donald Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, your coverage, and coverage of non-right-wing sites seems to still hold out hope that Biden will be re-elected. The problem is the same as with Hillary, in that it seems inconceivable that someone who spins completely false narratives and reality mostly filled with extreme hatred could ever get the majority of Americans (or at least enough Americans in the right places) to vote to put him in the highest office.

Right now, the trial is helping Trump a lot. Without it, his rants were only covered by right-wing sites, but now most news sites carry them, giving him a larger audience than he could have ever hoped for before it started. He is always consistent in portraying himself as a victim, and painting everyone in the justice system and government as fascists who are doing this only for political purposes.

The problem is, there is a small grain of truth to this, in that others who committed similar crimes, would probably not be prosecuted with a jury. Of course, most would have also just pleaded guilty and taken a fine and been done with it (at least the falsifying business records part). So, that small grain is probably enough to get more people on Trump's side.

Where I work, there are also still people who are not MAGA who believe that Biden has absolutely no cognitive ability at all. That narrative still persists because of how well the Republican messaging works.

What I am trying to say is that we all need to be prepared for President Trump v2.0. Psychologically, we will have to accept that it is likely to happen, and hope that at the end of the day he is not allowed to serve more than 4 years.

R.H.D. in Webster, NY, writes: You have recently compared this year's election cycle to that of 1968, and I totally agree with you on that. However, I would like to offer another historical comparison: 1980.

To begin, the Oct. 7 attacks and the Iranian Hostage crisis (Nov. 1979) commenced in the fall before the presidential election year. Both incumbent U.S. presidents were centrist Democrats who were seen as decent men trying to their best to work through the situation. Their Republican opponents were famous celebrities in their own right who had run for president before. Hostages were taken in both instances and there have been negotiations to get them released. Also, the U.S. was dependent on happenings in the Middle East that were beyond their control.

Now, we don't know yet if Joe Biden will face the same fate as Jimmy Carter did. But I'll add one last thing: It was no surprise the 52 American hostages were released on Jan. 20, 1981, because the Iranians knew that Reagan was going to come after them if they weren't. You can bet that if Trump somehow wins back the White House, Hamas will release all of their hostages and quickly surrender before Jan. 20, 2025, because come that day, Trump will give Benjamin Netanyahu a blank check to do whatever he wants and they will be finished.

J.A. in Hell's Kitchen, NY, writes: I recently read a CNN poll that young voters are favoring Donald Trump over Joe Biden 51% to 40%. I guess my takeaway is that while I understand this is very early and in the "making a statement" time of the election cycle, What the f**k? (censorship mine).

What the f**k is with these 18-34 year olds? I get that they may be upset with Joe Biden on Palestine/Israel policy... what the f**k do you think is going to happen to the Palestinians under Donald Trump? Do you think the man who supported banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. will in any way restrain or try to negotiate to cool the situation? No. The Palestinians will be annihilated entirely. But good job proving your point to old Joe Biden and the establishment.

Or maybe they are disappointed that their student loans weren't forgiven? That's definitely going to happen under Donald Trump [/sarcasm]. Or maybe they can go to his Supreme Court appointees for relief? Oh, wait...

Or maybe they're upset that climate change wasn't addressed more during the administration's tenure. Excepting the more than $300 billion investment in the IRA.

Or maybe they just want someone who's a bit younger? I guess Donald Trump is a spring chicken at 77.

I also sure hope none of them know, or are, anyone who at any point would need an abortion, or know anyone that wants any sort of protections for being LGBTQ+, because if you support or vote for Donald Trump, you sure as f**k don't actually give a shit about them.

Or maybe they're the type to want to "burn it all down" by letting someone in who will spur dramatic change. Except that we have already seen that when the current iteration of the Republican party gets into power, they will very rarely let it go. They were not firmly entrenched in 2020, you can bet your ass they will be by 2028.

As someone who isn't that far outside the 18-34 cohort, I would say to my slightly younger compatriots, you will never get everything you want in a candidate. Sometimes, as awful as you may feel about it, you have to vote for the candidate with a realistic chance of winning, who will do the least harm.

J.T. in Marietta, GA, writes: You had a bewildered question about Trump's polling lead. I'm sure many people who oppose Trump share that bewilderment (me, too!) I offer this as an explanation.

I have two Republican-voting sisters, both well over 60. The elder consistently votes for Republicans, despite the fact that she disagrees with most of their policies. She favors abortion choice, gay marriage, etc. The only policy where she really agrees with conservatives is gun access, despite the fact that she doesn't even shoot. She's quite fervent about her support nevertheless, and we can't even discuss political issues unless I know ahead of time that we'll agree.

I can talk to the other sister. Unlike the elder (who thinks Trump's excesses are humorous and anti-establishment), the younger is thoroughly disgusted with Trump but has no idea where to go. She exhibited some astonishment that women weren't able to get an abortion in Texas anymore. I told her, "Well, that's what happens when you vote for Republicans." Her response? "But I CAN'T vote for a Democrat!" She indicated she might vote third party—she's also an anti-vaxxer. (Yes, my family is full of conspiracy theorists—don't get me started on my father.)

The way to see Trump's numbers is not as support for Trump, but as a blind refusal to vote the issues. Republicans have no policy platform—other than to oppose the Democrats. Beyond the "basket of deplorables" mentioned by Hillary Clinton, Republican voters include a larger basket of people who dogmatically reject any Democrats, regardless of policies. It's tribalism at its worst. I think about half of Trump's numbers are people who are disgusted with Trump, but refuse any Democratic option. The ongoing support for Nikki Haley is an illustration of this effect.

This is the only theory that makes these polling numbers make any sense to me.

T.G. in Fort Worth, TX, writes: As I come across many Donald Trump supporters at work, I hear many of their comments regarding "stolen" elections. They point to how Trump is leading this year and if he loses again it will surely be another case of the Democrats stealing another election. There are many comments on how they simply won't stand for it again. You wrote: "There's also the possibility that the polls are overestimating Trump's support..." I can see the possibility that there will be polls put out there that are manipulated purposely to be consumed primarily by the Fox "News" crowd to push this anger and to kindle violent acts to get Trump back in power no matter the cost.

Politics: Israel and the Palestinians

D.N. in Panama City, FL, writes: You wrote: "In any case, the cards are very clearly on the table. If Democrats are running the show in 2025, there is at least some possibility that the Palestinian people will be considered in policy-making. If the Republicans are running the show, it's a blank check for the Israeli government."

I don't think you're giving Joe Biden enough credit for the depth and scale of this amazing Jiu-Jitsu move. Recall that just a week ago, Biden was alienating pro-Palestinian and college-age voters with his slavish devotion to Israel, and risked losing Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin as a result.

S.N. in Charlotte, NC, writes: You wrote: "All of this said, the best solution for Biden would be for the violence in the Middle East to come to an end."

I think you hit the nail on the head there. Putting aside the lead-in to the Netanyahu piece, there will never ever be an end to the violence between Israel and Palestine (or whomever) because those folks will never stop fighting in the name of religion over that piece of dirt. I am a 100% non-believer and will not touch this issue (publicly) with a 100-ft pole, because it's too complex, too stupid, too pointless, too insane, etc. to understand, predict, resolve; you name it. Biden is really in a tough spot and I feel for him.

A.T. in Oviedo, FL, writes: Joe Biden blocking arms to Israel is a start; keep going towards a permanent ceasefire, getting rid of Israeli settlements and a true two-state solution (with a fully independent Palestine), and maybe he might win my vote back... no promises, but I'm a fair man, I'd be willing to consider holding my nose and voting for him if he can do this in the next few weeks.

S.C.-M. in Scottsdale, AZ, writes: I am no expert on the Middle East, nor am I an expert on the situation in Gaza. With that said, I appreciate your rational assessment of what is going on from a political standpoint. You are absolutely correct that there is no way for Israel to win a war against Hamas, which makes the current situation even more tragic.

J.B. in Hutto, TX, writes: I've watched the campus protests against Israel's war in Gaza with growing dismay, disappointed but not surprised by the open displays of antisemitism and pro-Hamas sentiment. I'm not any happier with the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza than anyone else, but this was not a conflict Israel wanted. It was Hamas that attacked Israel on October 7, not the other way around. Hamas could have had a ceasefire at any time if it only had agreed to release its Jewish hostages. For that matter, Hamas could end the conflict entirely if it would only agree to leave Gaza. And let's remember that Hamas is not a government—it is a genocidal, antisemitic terrorist organization whose purpose is the destruction of Israel and the eradication of its Jewish population (this is not my opinion, Hamas has always been completely open about this). And yet I don't see any of the protesters calling for Hamas to release the hostages, much less for Hamas to leave Gaza. Why not? I think we all know the answer.

And here's another thing. Even if you accept the most damning reports of Israel's actions in Gaza at face value, the human rights violations would still pale in comparison with those of China against the people of Tibet, of Xinjiang, and against its own population. And American universities have a far larger financial relationship with China than they do with Israel. So why don't we see any massive protests on college campuses demanding the schools divest from China? Or any protests demanding divestment from Saudi Arabia, another massive abuser of human rights with close financial relationships with American colleges? Again, I think we all know the answer.

E.T. in Saratoga Springs, NY, writes: In your response to S.P. in Harrisburg, you wrote: "We also suspect—and note that this is virtually impossible to prove—that some of the fuel for the protests has nothing to do with Israel/Gaza. Modern university students are often under enormous pressure because of grades, finances, etc., and at the same time are often treated as cattle by university administration." I think your suspicion is right on the money, although for somewhat different reasons.

Speaking as a college student who is graduating in a few short weeks, I think C.L. in Boulder gets part of the way there in writing that "college students have grown up in the time of many movements: Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, land acknowledgments (of ancestral homelands), and climate change." Many of my classmates see the Israel-Palestine conflict as a social justice issue with the Israeli government being the evil force they must fight against. However, university campuses appear to be uniquely fertile ground for these types of social justice movements in general. Plenty of my classmates have already connected what they're doing to the 1970 Kent State protests, just as you, (V) and (Z), have done in previous items. My point is that rather than any special connection to Palestinians, student support for Palestine is the latest chapter in a long history of social justice causes championed by student movements.

Politics: Trans Tip Lines and Other Performative Nonsense

S.B. in Winslow, ME, writes: Thank you for your piece "Nights in White Satin." I'm a member of the Advocacy Committee for LGBTQIA+ Equality for the Presbyterian (USA) church. This branch of the Presbyterians is more progressive than others, but still struggles with legacy issues of racial, gender, and LGBTQIA+ equality; hence the committee. There will be a General Assembly held in Salt Lake City this June which will hold some discussions with significant doctrinal implications for the LGBTQIA+ community. The tangential concern is the recent Utah law governing public bathroom use. The law was passed after plans were already in place to hold the event in Salt Lake City. In an effort to be inclusive to the transgender community, our committee has been actively involved with our denominational leadership, lawyers, and Equality Utah regarding implications of allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice during the conference.

Two main aspects have emerged from those conversations. First, the law is very poorly written and has yet to be challenged in court. There is little clarity about the extent of bathrooms that are included under it. Private businesses do not seem to be included—so is a convention center "private" or "public"? Hotels don't appear to be included. Schools do seem to be the main target, but is it exclusively those restrooms that are changing areas? Are private schools part of the law? This said, there is ZERO doubt that the law is nothing more than conservative posturing for their base, made with no regard to its enforceability.

Second, as you noted, a person can call and make any accusation. The concern here is that during our convention, a disgruntled attendee who feels like the denomination is veering too far left (think Methodist Church split) may call out a transgender attendee during the convention, in which case a public to-do will be made of an otherwise who-cares-but-the-PC(USA)-members event.

So, I was delighted to read that the call volume has been both overwhelming and fruitless in Utah. That makes the accusatory concern much less likely to be anything more than "a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

M.W. in Ottawa, ON, Canada, writes: I am currently on vacation in Salt Lake City and visited the Utah Capitol. I was delighted to note the presence of a unisex bathroom adjacent to the male and female bathrooms on the fourth floor. In case anybody was in any doubt as to the performative nature of the recent anti-trans legislation.

I am also delighted to note the large number of downtown businesses flying Pride, Progress and similar flags. There is even a Utah Pride flag at REI.

J.C. in Washington, DC, writes: The West Virginia Republican primary for governor is inundating the airwaves in the DC-Maryland-Virginia metropolitan area:

A photoshopped picture of Chris Miller
in drag, with the note that he cares about 'They/Them' and not 'Us'

Needless to say, a race to the bottom.

J.G. in Chantilly, VA, writes: When VA Gov. Glenn Youngkin opened a tip line in 2022 to enable Virginians to snitch on woke teachers, many of us were happy to oblige. Some of us sent in messages tattling on the use of Arabic numerals and a strange Middle Eastern teaching known as "Al-gebra." I demanded a return to Roman numerals, arguing that it would be the only way to ensure that Virginia's youth knew which Super Bowl they were watching, or the year at the end of the movie credits. Others denounced low pay for teachers and demanded smaller classrooms.

Until this day, no one knows how the snitch line was used. They still teach Arabic numerals and Al-gebra in MMXXIV!

Politics: Jennifer Wexton

C.Z. in Sacramento, CA, writes: Thanks for recognizing Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), who is suffering from the same disease that took my mother's life, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. I'm counting the seconds until "Don Snore-leone" makes fun of her disabilities caused by PSP. In a just world, Trump would be the next to get a disease that robs you of all control over your own body, but leaves your brain intact so that you know exactly what is happening to you.

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: I just wanted to remind people of the courage of Jennifer Wexton, which you did in your piece... but, as a trans woman, I remember the Representative displaying a trans flag outside of her office on her very first day. That was courage. And we noticed.

Politics: In the Doghouse

M.O. in Arlington, VA, writes: My parents, and most of my extended family resided/reside in South Dakota and Eastern Nebraska. My parents left South Dakota for the West Coast as part of the out-migration of farming people during the Depression. Half my grandparents were born in Germany and the other half were one generation off, having been born in the U.S. to parents who came from Germany. All my relatives were farmers and came from farming people in Northern Germany.

So, what's the point of all of this? Dogs seemed to always be part of the barnyard menagerie of animals on the farms of my relatives. My father always had dogs during his time in South Dakota. With the exception of my father's first dog, acquired when he was 8 years old, he shot everyone of his pets. The usual reason was because the dog "got into the chickens." My father's first dog was shot by his father, as it had an open sore that was thought to be unhealthy for the family.

My father explained that in his experience once a dog started attacking the chickens, there was no return. He said he trained his many pets to hunt and to do other things on command. He even had a coyote that he said was the most intelligent dog he ever had. This said, my father was unable to keep a "chicken dog" away from the chickens. Chaining a dog was not considered an option. A dog, once gone rogue, was considered untrustworthy evermore. Chickens were an important part of the family's diet and any threat to same was not allowed.

This seemed cruel to me as a child. However, using animals for food/money was the nature of the family farm life. All manner of animals were slaughtered for consumption by the family. If a horse was too old it was dispatched, etc. etc. My father's final statement on all of this was that "it was always done this way."

I thought this a poor rationale but have come to understand that my father's conclusion appears to have a deep history in, at least, the German farming community. Two older guys that I have come to know here in Virginia, one from a farming family in Germany and both born there, both told me, without prompting, that "it has always been done that way" and was standard operating procedure in their family lives. Once this concept was invoked it could not be questioned under penalty of being "wacked." This last term has been given to me by my two German friends and several other older German people of my acquaintance as a frequent and standard response to questioning authority.

Thus, while I find Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) an otherwise bad person/politician, I can understand why she dispatched her pet given my experience on family farms in South Dakota.

I hope this provides a bit of insight/context to the story.

D.H. in Lisbon Falls, ME, writes:

A meme showing Kristi Noem with
'Kim Jong-Un' (but really 'George Santos')

Politics: FreedomWorks... Doesn't, Anymore

L.C. in Brookline, MA, writes: In "Adieu, FreedomWorks," you wrote: "It's another reminder that the Republican Party of 2024 has virtually nothing to do with the Republican Party of 1984, and that the still-venerated Reagan would find no place in the GOP today."

On the contrary, the Republican Party of 2024 has everything to do with the Republican Party of 1984—while Ronald Reagan might not be able to find a place today, he played a crucial role in setting the stage for Donald Trump, from pandering to the billionaires, to pandering to the religious right, to having the kind of relationship with the truth that George Orwell warned us about. On all counts, the Republican evolution to being led by someone like Donald Trump has been completely foreseeable.

K.E. in Enumclaw, WA, writes: It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of people. They did nothing but lie in the service of stymieing the Obama administration's efforts to get all Americans health insurance.

And yet there was this gem in the Politico piece: "...though staffers will continue to receive paychecks and health care benefits for the next few months."

I found that astonishing; that's not very libertarian of them. I thought the whole libertarian ideology hinged on selfishness... err, I mean "rugged individualism."

Politics: More on Ratfu**ing

E.G. in London, England, UK, writes: I am probably a bit late to offer an entry into the debate on your site's use of the term "ratf**king," but I have got an opinion, for what it is worth.

I am not prudish about obscenities. Like many of the people in my generation who grew up in an environment enlightened by the liberating insouciance of punk rock, I appreciate a good naughty word used to effect, while also being aware of the dilemma that this effect diminishes with increased use.

Experience suggests that there are two frequent uses for obscenities. The first use is as filler, what somebody uses as an adjective when they are too lazy to think of an adjective. This kind of usage might be helpful in, say, setting a mood for a film scene (you want to show that people are bored and a bit apathetic) but mostly just indicates deficient creativity. [Insert obscenity here] that.

The other frequent use would be what Thomas Pynchon called an "intensifier." The expression says the thing you say but really says it with feeling when the obscenity is added.. In that regard it is reserved for both the worst ["what a sick f***"] and the best ["that was f***ing great"] things.

Here is where I run into trouble. It looks like the meaning of the term "ratf**king" on your site is to indicate a member of one party voting in another party's primary with the purpose of increasing the likelihood that the other party will nominate a bad candidate. Sneaky? Certainly. Unethical? Probably. But it is neither the best nor worst thing that a voter can do. It is better described as an ordinary variant of strategic voting to which both voters and campaigners should be accustomed by now.

What should the term be reserved for? Well, let's say the sort of things described in the Mueller report but not charged.

(V) & (Z) respond: Actually, the term refers to any sort of underhanded tricks. The Watergate break-in, for example, was a case of ratf**king undertaken by... the guys who invented the term ratf**king.

Politics: Enemy of the State

G.R. in Tarzana, CA, writes: Regarding the notion that (Z) "...might actually like to be labeled an enemy of the state by the Trump administration."

I was a member of Allard Lowenstein's Senate and then Congressional campaign in 1974, and due to Al's being the head of the American for Democratic Action and spearheading the "Dump Nixon" movement, he found himself named as #7 on Nixon's Enemies List, which he embraced as a badge of honor. During the campaign, we all proudly wore a button that just said "007." Having the likes of Nixon or Trump personally call you out is indeed something to be proud of.

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: In response to your responses to Saturday's Q&A, if we do see another Trump administration (shudder) and he were to arrest Rachel Maddow, then I would like to request that one of your last posts before moving the site to Mexico (I can't imagine Canada welcoming you with open arms after you revealed their invasion plans) is that you print my full name with embedded links to some of my more scathing anti-Trump letters. One, like you, I would consider being labeled an enemy of the Trump Klown Show, Part Deux, to be a badge of honor. Second, I want Donnie Putinpants to know how much he is despised across this great nation, even in areas that overwhelmingly vote for him. The downside would be that I probably wouldn't survive long in one of his gulags; but I could then quote Khan, and some other guy, to the Great White Grifter, "To the last, I grapple with thee; from Hell's heart, I stab at thee; for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!" I've always wanted a dramatic ending.

In regards to another response, while I don't think you meant your loyal readers, I did want to proclaim in the loudest possible voice, that we are listening. You two have been a huge influence in my life. I have turned to you guys many a time when I'm about to throw myself off the political ledge. In fact, one of my first letters to you, and one of the first published on the site, was one asking you to talk me off the ledge after the Big Fizzle of the Mueller Report. And more than just listened, I have learned so much from you, politics, history and innumerable other subjects I never dreamed I would find interesting. One of the many regrettable losses from the Trump Era, has been what I called "Z's Mini History Seminars" that used to regularly frequent the site—some which were left unfinished by Ebenezer Snooze's latest outrage/crime but which I still hold out hope will one day see the light of day (Hey, if the Scavenger Hunt, Part VIII can appear out of the blue then perhaps I do not hope in vain). The Jews have a saying that "That whoever saves a single life is considered by scripture to have saved the world." I believe there is a corollary to that in that those who enlighten one person illuminates the way forward for the whole world." If so, then (V) and (Z), you have shined a light that outshines a trillion trillion trillion suns! I believe God and the universe play the long game, and at the end of a life, if one can say I helped provide a couple of small steps forward then that person has lived an exemplary life. Thank you, my friends!

(V) & (Z) respond: Thank you so much for the incredibly kind and heartfelt words! We got many such messages this week, and we chose yours so readers would know that. We hope to respond to each of them as soon as time allows. Meanwhile, we have high hopes that we can polish off the unfinished stuff over the course of this summer. Fingers crossed!

B.R. in Eatontown, NJ, writes: (Z) is too young to remember, but I'm sure (V) does. Those of us of a certain age enjoyed very much and took particular pride in the thought that we might all be on the Nixon's Enemies List. Even though most of us knew that in reality we were too low on the food chain to deserve that honor.

Of course, we didn't have websites where we published our thoughts 6 days a week. So you guys might actually rise up high enough. If so, congrats! Wear it like the badge of courage it is.

R.H. in Wayland, MA, writes: Your comment that (Z) "might actually like to be labeled an enemy of the state by the Trump administration" reminded me of one of my favorite quotes (from the Victorian poet A.C. Swinburne): "It is good to be praised by those whom all men should praise; it is better to be reviled by those whom all men should scorn."

All Politics Is Local

J.M. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: You wrote: "Meanwhile, it's hard to reconcile that Maryland poll with the fact that former governor Larry Hogan is consistently polling above 50% in his U.S. Senate race. Will there really be that much ticket-splitting at the top of the ballot?"

As a lifelong Maryland resident, I can say that this is 100% believable! As a lifelong Democrat as well, I voted against Larry Hogan in both of his gubernatorial elections but I will say this: He is quite popular in the Old Line State. He was elected the first time, largely by taking moderate positions and running against a lazy/weak opponent. He won 57% to 41.3%. Once in office, he governed as a moderate and was quite effective and efficient, especially with regard to the pandemic. He had no troubles at all winning reelection, 55.4% to 43.5%. During his time in office (2015-2023), Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden carried Maryland 60.3%-33.9% and 65.4%-32.1%, respectively. So, while he never ran in a presidential election year (just the way things work here) he won statewide in a very blue state.

As a lifelong Maryland Democrat, while I am rooting for this seat to remain blue, I fear that while Joe Biden may well garner over 70% of the vote here, Hogan may well take a strong majority. Here's hoping for David Trone to bury him in money.

T.K. in Warsaw, IN, writes: As a native Hoosier, I can give a few insights on your great writeup, "Hoosiers Head to the Polls." They aren't nice, but they are true, and I am qualified to diss my own state.

There are many of us non-Republicans here that voted in the Republican primary. As much as it disgusts me to vote in any way for any Republican, it is the strategic choice in the Indiana primary. We know that it doesn't matter which Democrats win in the Democratic primary, because they will lose in the actual election. A Republican candidate could execute their own dog with a shotgun on live Indiana television, and they would still win comfortably. Therefore, the smart play for a non-Republican is to attempt to mitigate the damage as much as possible, and vote in the Republican primary for the least Nazi/racist/MAGA candidates, in the hope maybe one makes it. So it was that I asked for a Republican ballot and voted for Nikki Haley, even though I would never fathom voting for her in the real election. Other local Democrats I know do the same thing.

Valerie McCray is a fine candidate, but she is Democratic, female, and Black. That means she is anathema to the majority of Indiana voters, so she will lose.

Finally, when Mike Braun (R) says his campaign is to be "tough on crime," you have to learn to translate that from MAGA to English. What he means is "vote for me if you want to hurt more Black people, especially with the police. Mexicans, too." That is a very effective way to please Republican voters in Indiana.

R.G in Indianapolis, IN, writes: I have lived in the great good mediocre state of Indiana all my life. I do find that Trump got less than 80% of the vote interesting, but come November it won't matter in Indiana how many of the Haley voters don't vote or even switch, Trump will still easily win here... even if convicted of something.

I will address the vote count difference between the Democratic and Republican primaries. The Democratic primary was not advertised at all and probably not really competitive for any race, even dog catcher. The Republican gubernatorial race was heavily contested, heavily advertised, and a PAC put up billboards saying "Even Democrats can vote in the Republican primary." Given the "R" tilt of the state, the primary race was most likely the actual governor's race. The thought behind the billboards was for Democrats to vote for the most "reasonable" Republican candidate. I was actually planning to do that, but even after watching two debates I found none of the candidates "reasonable" and none of them differentiated themselves enough to make it worth my vote. This was the first primary I have skipped in probably 20 years or more.

So while the vote count between Democratic and Republican candidates was 180k to 600k, it is not totally indicative of what the race will be in November. I'm certain Sen. Jim Banks (R) will still win, but it probably won't be that lopsided.

One last thing: The political ads got very tiresome. Each Republican candidate was claiming the other candidates were more liberal than Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Mike Braun was called a "tax-hike loving Rino squish" (whatever that is).

International Affairs

P.C. in Toronto, Canada, writes: F.H. in St. Paul asked for a Canadian opinion on a Chicago Tribune article about thinking twice before moving to Canada in the event of a Second Coming of the Orange Jesus.

First, the article was substantially correct in its facts save for the suggestion that "pushing pro-business policies" would somehow have fixed the mess created by pro-business policies (there; no doubt now that I am a Canadian).

Second, it is true that PM Justin Trudeau came to the table as the bilingual (very important) anointed one from a Quebec-based (even more important) political clan. But he was never the sharpest tack in the box. He thrived by virtue of his Kennedy-like cosmetic qualities and survived because he was astute enough to surround himself with very sharp tacks. And, like Joe Biden, Trudeau appears to be a decent human being, something that cannot be said for either Trump or our own version of him, Pierre Poilievre.

Third, as to this Canadian's answer to the question of whether it would be worthwhile to move should things go south in the south? I can only say that no matter how shaky things appear to be in the Great White North, it surely cannot be as bad as what you Americans seem determined to do to yourselves come November 5th. And I say this even as my fellow Canucks appear hell-bent on assisting our own version of Trump to slither onto the throne. (Yes, you read correctly. We are, after all, still a monarchy. What can I say? You still have the Electoral College and we still have a monarch.)

R.B. in Calgary, AB, Canada, writes: F.H. in St. Paul asks about an OpEd on Canadian politics. Frankly, it feels to me far more like a piece written by a Canadian conservative than anything even faintly objective, and pretty far from any kind of broad-brush explanation of Canadian politics. (I mean really, "don't move to Canada because those crazy Canucks are jacking up the capital gains tax! The horror, the horror!")

I won't go into the details either, but it is actually sort of accurate in listing all of Justin Trudeau's downsides and problems. What it does NOT do, which voters must, is consider the alternatives. Canadian voters, as elsewhere, mostly cast negative ballots, in the sense they are voting against a hated alternative, not voting for a positive choice. Trudeau, in terms of electoral prospects, is in a very similar position to Biden in the U.S.; not a very appetizing option at all, but at the very least not the other guys, who, quite frankly, are kinda terrifying these days. Like Biden, he's got to feel cautiously optimistic about his electoral prospects.

The big difference up here is the NDP (currently propping up Trudeau in a minority government). This is kind of like the Sanders-AOC wing of the Democrats having their own party and being much empowered thereby: highly unlikely to ever win an election, but absolutely capable of extorting a modicum of progressive policy from the government (for example, Canada is slowly and reluctantly introducing pharmacare and "denta-care," at this point restricted to seniors and children, but with a view to universality/single-payer in the future). The NDP do to the Liberals kinda what the Freedom Caucus does to the Republicans in the U.S. Congress, except from the opposite direction. I would expect the Tribune's editors Do Not Approve...

Quite frankly, I expect the next federal election will very likely produce pretty much what the last one did. The conservatives decided to double down on the cray-cray (what the Trib calls "populism"), much to the delight of a portion of their base, but that alone will almost certainly prevent them from getting over the top—the insane segment of the Canadian electorate is substantially smaller than in the U.S., I think, and loathed by the majority. More interesting is how the NDP will fare: will the usual pattern, of the Liberals getting all the credit for whatever the NDP forced out of them, repeat, so the "socialists" take an electoral beating, or will Canadian voters for once recognize and reward where the good stuff came from? I expect the former, actually...

Yes, I tend to vote NDP (I have actually voted at one time or another for each of the major parties, as I tend to vote very locally), but I am not a member of the Party and am acutely aware of their own issues and somewhat cray-cray wing. I suppose at the end of the day I too tend to vote against, much more than vote for.

C.M.W. in Myrtle Beach, SC, writes: You notice how in today's Q&A F.H. in St. Paul suggests you take time off so that they can post some CANADIAN news?

Clearly an attempt to further the invasion by seizing control of your site!

(V) & (Z) respond: Unless, of course, we've already been compromised, eh.

P.C. in Yandina Creek, QLD, Australia, writes: Seen in a bathroom in Australia:

It has a picture of a clown and
says 'Circuses struggling to find new clowns as top prospects continue to go into politics.'

History Matters

B.W. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: In your answer to D.R. in Phoenix regarding Irish surnames taken by enslaved people, it may also have been worthwhile to point out that Irish (and Scottish, and Welsh) settler colonialism was extremely prevalent in the Caribbean in the 17th century and beyond.

It's no coincidence that Jamaican English has noticeable Irish influence, both in accent and idiom.

Caribbean immigration to the U.S. has been (and remains) common, with the New York City area being one of the top destinations.

The letter writer mentioned Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal is from the NYC region (Newark, NJ) and his stepfather (though not the source of his surname) was of Jamaican heritage.

There are over a million Americans identifying as Jamaican, and of course many million more who have Jamaican roots from earlier generations.

S.A.K. in Karnataka, India, writes: Reading your summary about Theodore Roosevelt and his being a patriot, I was reminded of the line: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Fits this fellow to a T.

Also going by that description, this guy would fit right in with the current ruling regime in India.

It is disgusting how being a "patriot" trumps all else, for Americans. Unfortunately, a majority of Indians are starting to go down that path.

(V) & (Z) respond: Our wording there may have been misleading. All we hoped to communicate was that Roosevelt was legitimately motivated by his sense of the national interest, as opposed to his own self-interest. We used "patriotism" as shorthand for that, but you should not infer that we merely give high marks to presidents who fetishize the flag, etc.; otherwise, we would have rated Ronald Reagan highly.

C.J. in Redondo Beach, CA, writes: I have to push back a bit on Woodrow Wilson's supposed "overt hostility" to women's suffrage. While it's true he wasn't an early advocate of the Nineteenth Amendment, he did support New Jersey's amendment when the process was still going state-by-state. He was a politician most of all—his primary base of support came from the South and he had to keep them on board with his domestic agenda.

Once the U.S. was heavily involved in the war effort, he moved toward support for the national amendment with his speech to the Senate in September 1918 being a notable example. Even then, he couldn't get enough Democratic senators to vote for it then (failing by two votes). When it eventually passed the following year, he was also fairly involved especially considering he was recuperating from his stroke) getting the necessary votes in the state legislatures. When it finally got to Tennessee (the deciding state), Wilson himself contacted one of the last holdouts to twist their arm to vote for the Amendment.

Revenge of the Nerds, Part II (Nerds in Paradise?)

J.H. in Tulalip, WA, writes: Wow, I didn't think my question would bring such a response, both from and the gallery. For what it's worth, when in a *nix, I use nano, but alias to pico, I'm an old. $dayjob is system engineer for 500-odd Windows servers around the world, but personal boxes at home are a mix of iMac for my main screen (love the monitor), FreeBSD and various Linux VMs. I have gotten my employer (a French aerospace/defense firm) to pay for my RHCE certification.

My keyboard is a Macally with clicky keys.

Thanks for the answers!

B.C. in Phoenix, AZ, writes: The business world runs on Windoze. FruitBoxes cannot natively run the specialized software my users needed to use when I was working, so we had very few of them in the office. In my last 20 years before retirement, I did find a way to insert some Linux servers into the infrastructure to provide some services much more efficiently and cheaply than using Windoze Server.

So, it was with great amusement that I watched all you FruitBox folks engaging in Editor Wars skirmishes. Back 20 years ago, when I did not load a GUI on Linux servers, I used vi. About 10 years ago, when I started using a GUI on all my Linux boxes, I started using KDE's Kate. I used Notepad++ on my Windoze stuff, until just a little while ago when Kate came to MS Winny.

D.C. in Carbondale, IL, writes: The "feature Bug" shared by R.M. in Philadelphia gave me almost as much delight as my all time favorite geek license plate, obtained by a systems developer colleague in North Carolina in the 1990s: /DEV/CAR

Thanks, R.M.!

P.C. in Reston, VA, writes: In "The Greene Goblin Strikes," you wrote: "Actually, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is more a troll than a goblin, but Spider-Man never faced off against the Green Troll."

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11 (2019):

Spider-Man fights a green troll

A troll attacks Mary Jane in the subway and Spiderman fights it off to save her. It's a green troll.

(V) & (Z) respond: We stand corrected.


T.J.R. in Metuchen, NJ, writes: J.K. in Seoul mentioned "propaganda and outright lies" that were flagged by readers.

If they are talking about my unflagging support and belief in the Pittsburgh Pirates, I object strenuously!

(V) & (Z) respond: Did you think we would not eventually discover you are listed on the team's staff page as "Minister of Information"?

J.H. in Boston, MA, writes: O.Z.H. in Dubai wants to know why Steve Ballmer doesn't move the L.A. Clippers to Seattle. You raise some good points about the viability of the L.A. sports market. I would add two things.

First, Ballmer already tried this trick. He was in advanced stages of acquiring the Sacramento Kings to move them to Seattle when opposition materialized and killed the deal. He's not gonna try it again, he may even be contractually enjoined.

Secondly, the scuttlebutt has been known for at least the last 2 or 3 years that when the current media contracts end, there will be an expansion and Las Vegas and Seattle are locks. Ballmer knows this and already backed the arena remodel at Seattle center and is probably also backing the return of the SuperSonics.

Acquiring a team and moving it to Seattle was the 2010s plan. The 2020s plan is expansion. Hold your horses, it's coming.

P.R. in Austin, TX, writes: You recently quipped: "Does [Trump] keep [his Rolodex] next to the typewriter and the dictaphone?"

I recently talked to a typewriter repairman. I was stunned that there were any typewriters to even repair. I told him I thought these machines were extinct.

He explained that people use them to avoid sensitive information being hacked on the Internet.

He said his skills were very much in demand.

P.C. in Grand Rapids, MI, writes: Perhaps you know this, but sometimes your posts have a massive impact on the view count of a particular page on Wikipedia. For example, Blue Meanies:

On the day we linked 
Blue Meanies, page views went from a couple hundred to a couple thousand

(V) & (Z) respond: We did not know that. Who do we talk to about our royalties? Do we invoice Apple Corps, or do we just call up Sir Paul directly?

Final Words

P.B. in Gainesville, FL, writes: Here's the gravestone of legendary Irish comic (and many other superlatives) Spike Milligan. In case you can't read Gaelic, it says "I told you I was ill."

A gravestone in Gaelic

If you have suggestions for this feature, please send them along.

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
May11 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 15)
May11 Saturday Q&A
May11 Reader Question of the Week: Donald's Song
May11 Today's Presidential Polls
May10 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 14)
May10 Fallout from Biden's Decision on Israel Commences
May10 Trump Environmental Policy: We're Gonna Need a Bigger... Bottle of Sunscreen
May10 Electoral-Vote Presidential Tracking Poll, May Edition: Are We in for a Thriller?
May10 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: Black Magic
May10 This Week in Schadenfreude: Nights In White Satin
May10 This Week in Freudenfreude: (You're My) Soul And Inspiration
May10 Today's Presidential Polls
May09 Biden Puts His Foot Down
May09 The Greene Goblin Strikes
May09 Johnson Performs Political Theater
May09 Burgum for VP?
May09 Trump Legal News: Slow Ride
May09 Adieu, FreedomWorks
May09 Today's Presidential Polls
May08 Trump Legal News, Part I: Stormy Weather (aka The Trial, Day 13)
May08 Trump Legal News, Part II: Always and Forever
May08 Hoosiers Head to the Polls
May08 Greene Party on Hold
May08 Scavenger Hunt, Part VIII: Punchlines...
May08 Today's Presidential Polls
May07 Israel Is Losing
May07 Columbia Cancels Commencement
May07 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 12)
May07 Duncan Endorses Biden
May07 RNC Cashiers Chief Lawyer
May07 You'll Be Able to Feel the Bern into the Next Decade
May07 Today's Presidential Polls
May06 Biden Tries to Thread the Needle on Campus Protests...
May06 ...But Netanyahu, War Cabinet Not Being Helpful
May06 Biden's Best Bet Is in the Blue Wall States
May06 New Poll Hints at (Potentially) Important Dynamic in Presidential Race
May06 Biden Is Trying to Attract Latino Men on Abortion
May06 How Extreme Can Texans Get on Abortion?
May06 Elon Musk Is Going Whole-Hog Bigot
May05 Sunday Mailbag
May04 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 11)
May04 I Am Not a Crook?, Part I: Trump's Accountants
May04 I Am Not a Crook?, Part II: Rep. Henry Cuellar
May04 Saturday Q&A
May03 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 10)
May03 Trump 2024: The Catch-22 Shuffle
May03 Kristi Noem: Dog Shooting Is Now Officially Her Waterloo
May03 Ron DeSantis: Moby Dick, Meet Captain Ahab
May03 Evan Low: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow
May03 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: Butterfly