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      •  Sunday Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag

Reading the messages in the comments mailbox, it is clear that many readers find the discussion/debate with P.M. in Currituck (and D.E. in Lancaster) to be interesting. A few find it to be tiresome. If you're in the second group, you might want to skip the first section today.

More P.M. in the A.M.

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: It is with great reluctance that I charge once more into this battle. I was sad to see our friend P.M. from Currituck fall into the most cliché of modern rebuttals, both siderism! Yes, both sides can be insulting to one another, and on and on. But when was the last time a group of angry Democrats stormed the Capitol, killing people, wrecking the place, boasting about wanting to put a bullet in a political leader's head? Name me the last Democratic president who openly encouraged a mob to attack the democratic process and threaten political leaders, including that president's own vice president? Who was the last Democratic president who was impeached twice, and one of those impeachments was for insurrection? When was the last time a Democratic leader crawled like the lowliest snake to lick the boots and kiss the ass of an individual who was and probably still is trying to subvert the Constitution for his own enrichment? There is no both siderism in this debate, there is the American side and there is the deplorables, and the two have never been, nor will never be, equal.

P.M., I'm not asking you to suddenly become a Democrat, but if you truly believe in democracy how can you keep defending the Insurrection Party? I have to agree wholeheartedly with D.H. of Marysville: you can't be just a little bit pregnant or a good Nazi. In that spirit, you can't continue to defend the current Insurrection Party and demand to be treated with respect. You can't say you disapprove of the events of January 6 and then still vote and support people like Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, et al. I don't think anyone is asking you to suddenly embrace liberalism or is looking down at you, despite your preconceived perception, for your conservative beliefs. I, for one, would enthusiastically encourage you to be like other principled conservative thinkers who have renounced the current Insurrectionists and Trump-loving toadies and who are looking to rebuild a more modern conservative party minus the trappings of fascism and racism. As a progressive and liberal, I am incredibly unqualified to save the Republican Party from the growing cancer of the Trump Insurrectionists. You, on the other hand, are incredibly qualified. You state that you resent being painted with the brush that labels you an Insurrectionist, Deplorable, Fascist and Racist; and yet you continue to support and defend people who are these things. Don't you remember the transitive law from school, where if A equals B and B equals C then A has to equal C? Stop being a little bit pregnant. It's time for true Republicans to turn to their core values and pull themselves up by their bootstraps and away from the Deplorables they have been "palling around" with. It's past time for some personal responsibility.

Just last night, I was watching "The Crown" (in particular, the episode "Vergangenheit.") It was an incredible episode of a very compelling fictional series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II. In this particular episode, the Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII, who is somewhat sentimentally known as the man who abdicated the throne for the love of a woman, is trying to re-enter into British service. Queen Elizabeth, who is trying to be a good Christian, wants to forgive the Duke for the chaos he caused because of his abdication...until she is confronted with secrets about Edward VIII's past. While he was King, and after he renounced the Crown, he was at the very least very chummy with Adolf Hitler and at worst could have been collaborating with the Nazis to regain the throne. Kind of takes the shine off of the "Romantic King and his Love of the American Divorcee" that most people know. In the episode, Queen Elizabeth comes to the realization that there are some crimes too monstrous for forgiveness. That is how I feel about the Insurrectionists—there can be no path to forgiveness for the actual participants or for those who continue to fuel their flames. I don't want to know what their beef is with the world, I don't want to know what they think. They and those who support them have stepped beyond the social contract into the void of chaos. Perhaps you consider this more Democratic snobbishness. If so, then so be it. After some soul searching, this is a line I refuse to cross. I will always seek cooperation where I can, but on this issue I will plant myself like a tree and say: "No, you move!"

P.M., one last little bit of advice: turn off Fox News and the Hate Radio of Limbaugh and his ilk. I still see so many of their talking points reflected in your letters. These people do not care about you nor are they looking out for your interests. They are worse than propagandists; they are all charlatans and con-men. My advice is find some other more neutral source for your news. Or better yet, listen to some good music or audio books. And since you asked, while I understand the genius of Dylan and his vast influence, I personally am a Beatles fan all the way. When I was in London as a teenager, I wanted to get my picture taken on "The Crossing." Only the British have the impeccable manners to stop their morning commute while a dumb American kid reenacts the cover of Abbey Road. And if you are curious, I played John because it was January and I had no intention of crossing barefoot. Plus, squashing the rumors about my death would have been annoying, to say the least.

V & Z respond: So what you're telling us is that you're more popular than Jesus?

J.E. in New York, NY, writes: Regarding P.M.'s comment about being "talked down to" by Democrats (or more progressive people in general): the situation you describe is simply not symmetrical. While one could do a word-switch, as you did, the difference is that one set of problems—being willing to excuse white supremacy is one—is based in real things that Republicans have done. Democrats never did sign off on some of the worst behavior from people in the party. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for example, loudly and publicly decried the sexism in his own ranks, and he didn't need to be pressured to do it by his PR team. Former senator Al Franken wasn't removed from the Senate by Republicans.

The GOP, by contrast, has proven time and again that white supremacists are welcome in its ranks. P.M. said that where he grew up there were few minorities. I will surmise there were also few Jews in his neighborhood, and perhaps there are only a few now. I would like P.M. to tell this Jewish-descended person what he is supposed to do to "understand" when it is clear that many of his fellow Americans voted for a guy who was OK with "6MWE" at his rallies. Just to be clear, that means that there are many people in that rally who want me dead. There is no ambiguity here. If you voted for Trump, you voted for someone who is at best indifferent to those among his supporters who want to kill me. They want to kill everyone I love. They want to kill LGBTQ+ people. They want to kill disabled people.

I honestly do not care what your local story is, because no matter how bad things get, that's never a reason to be a bully. It's never a reason to attack other people for who they are (something the Black Lives Matter movement has never, ever done; they attack officials for what they do; there is a huge difference).

I don't really care what is in P.M.'s, or anyone else's heart. I don't care that you have Black friends or Jewish friends, or that Steven Miller is himself Jewish (P.M. might want to look up the term "kapo," which many Jews might apply to Miller, or Jared Kushner).

The situation is not one of symmetry. And to pretend it is, frankly, is an abdication of moral responsibility.

I often avoid saying "you are a racist" because that is not helpful. It makes racism a matter of character. It is not. Racism is a matter of power, and privilege, and actions (or the lack thereof). Therefore, I will say, "you did something racist" or "you said something racist." Those people who voted for Trump did something racist and at the very least were complicit in racist actions. What is in their hearts matters not a whit.

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: There are, to my mind, two legitimate ways to challenge my assertion two weeks ago that Trump voters necessarily suffer from defects of character and/or intelligence. One can either dispute the premise (i.e., argue that Trump doesn't condone and encourage violent white supremacy, etc.), or one can accept the premise and argue that conservative judges, tax cuts for the very rich and "owning the Libs" actually are important values and produce results that outweigh the racism, sexism, religious and other bigotries, endless lying, corruption and more. Those approaches would be fact- and/or logic-based rejoinders. I think they are absurdly wrong, but they are legitimate forms of argumentation.

P.M. from Currituck, N.C., however, doesn't choose either of those options, nor do they even attempt to engage with my argument. Instead, P.M. resorts to creating a hypothetical Trump voter (I'll call him "Red Sockpuppet") who can insult Democrats in what P.M. claims is same vein as my comments. The difference is that Mr. Sockpuppet's points are factually wrong and/or logically inconsistent. Unlike P.M. did with me, I'll engage directly with what P.M. wrote, point by point:

First, P.M. has Red claiming that Democratic supporters "are, at the very least, okay with murder of unborn babies [and] forcing your views on other people..." A majority of Americans do not believe abortion is "murder," nor that life begins at conception. The only people forcing their views on others are anti-choice zealots, like Mr. Sockpuppet. No one is forcing anyone to have an abortion; the anti-choice movement is solely about controlling other women's bodies. Red's very first two points demonstrate that he is, at best, utterly lacking in self-awareness, and at worst, is a hypocrite.

Next, "diminished or non-existent moral standards"—what does that even mean, factually? I can support my claims against Trump voters with specific instances: No Democrat lies like Trump. No Democrat assaults women like Trump. No Democrat abuses their office to enrich themselves like Trump. What facts support this talking point of Mr. Sockpuppet? If it's about things like same-sex marriage, abortion, forbidding prayer in public schools, I refer Red to his talking point about "forcing your views on other people."

"[R]idicule of those who are devout ('clinging to their religion')"—personally, I don't ridicule anyone who is genuinely devout, only those who are hypocrites, but that's an ex-hominem argument that doesn't address Mr. Sockpuppet's point about Democrats generally. His quotation extract appears to refer to Barack Obama speaking about working-class voters living in industrial towns that are losing jobs (perhaps like in Luzerne County, PA). The full quotation is, "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." So the comment wasn't an attack on the "devout." At worst, it was an attack on people who misuse religion to express their frustrations, with which I and, I expect, many Democrats would agree. I have great respect for you if your religion teaches you to love your neighbor, to forgive others their trespasses, and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The people I ridicule and condemn are hypocrites—for example, evangelicals who support a serial adulterer, abuser of women and avoider of church instead of a genuinely religious man like Joe Biden.

"Child abuse (introducing the concept of gender identity choice to a 3 year old?)"—what??? I live in the People's Republic of Park Slope in Brooklyn, and I know of no pre-K Three program that discusses gender identity choice. I know of no Democrat who advocates for it, including right-wing bogeyman Bill DeBlasio. Red's comment here seems of a piece with pedophile-run pizza parlors in terms of factual basis and conspiracy theories.

"Extremism and Communism." No Democratic officeholder advocates or encourages insurrection to overthrow the government or democratic processes (unlike Red's preferred presidential candidate). No Democratic officeholder advocates for the abolition of private property, the collectivization of all industry and agriculture, or the dictatorship of the proletariat. If Mr. Sockpuppet doesn't understand the difference between Communism and Democratic Socialism, it's because he's failed to educate himself. If Red thinks the Communist parties of the USSR or North Korea or Cuba are the same as Labour in Britain, the Social Democrats in Germany, or the Socialists in France, he is willfully ignorant and demonstrates my point about a failure of intelligence.

The point is not that P.M.'s hypothetical Trump voter can or can't hurl insults of the same magnitude as I; it is that Mr. Sockpuppet's insults are not supported by facts or logic, and are, in several cases, internally inconsistent to the point of hypocrisy. If anyone can dispute the underlying facts or the conclusions I reach about Trump voters without resorting to falsehoods, illogic and "whataboutism," I invite that. I would love to be wrong about 74 million of my fellow Americans having fundamental defects of character and/or intelligence. Red Sockpuppet's attempt, however, merely reinforces my point.

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: I do not know what it is about P.M. in Currituck, but they sure seem to enjoy trying to press people's buttons. These are the people we are supposed to find "unity" with? The ones who slander our communities and attack equality and diversity? Not just no, but hell no! They say we need to "understand them" and they make no effort to understand or even accommodate us. I am not about to let P.M.'s schtick go unanswered: Nobody introduces their three-year old to the concept of gender identity, or teaches their child to be gender non-conforming. These days, some parents respond in an affirming way to children who express cross-gender feelings, because it is not psychologically healthy to repress these feelings.

Take me. As the readers of this site know, I am a transgender woman and a former NC Senate candidate. I knew, from as far back as I can remember, that something was not right. I was the square peg that did not fit into the round hole. Nobody ever thought to drill me a square, they tried to pound me into that round hole anyway. Now, admittedly, during my own childhood in the 1970s and 1980s, part of it in Texas, it was not safe to fly the freak flag. There were no support groups. There was no widespread Internet. Yet...I knew I was different.

My thoughts, back then, were not "I want to be a girl." They were "why is everyone trying to make me be a boy?" I knew I was a girl. I preferred the company of girls, I preferred the games and activities of girls. I was never good at the things boys did and could not understand why they were "fun." This is long before I knew anything about the physical differences between boys and girls...much less anything about adult relations! Sure, I was not blind, I could see Mom had something Dad didn't, but girls my own age who wore dresses and had long hair otherwise were no different from myself to my child's eye...and I felt I should have the dresses and long hair, too.

I was eleven years old before I even knew that there was anyone else in the world like me! I found out when a therapist used a certain word (one that is now offensive in my community) and the precocious eleven-year-old me looked it up in the dictionary. I found it and was stunned to find it...and to know, by inference...that there was at least one other person on Earth like me. And my life mission became: Find her! It never even occurred to me then that transgender could go the other way! And I was nineteen years old before I ever spoke with or met another person like myself.

At 23 years of age, I transitioned everywhere except work...and at 27, I transitioned at work (after they said I could) and then was promptly fired for doing so. My case of employment discrimination was cited in an Amici Curiae filing in Aimee Stephens' case at the Supreme Court last year (which was combined into the Bostock case) I had surgery at 31 years of age, financed by proceeds of the wrongful-termination lawsuit I had filed against my former employer...poetic justice if ever there was any.

The point of all of this is: Nobody ever encouraged or affirmed my feelings in any way; instead, they did everything they could to suppress them. It did not change the fact I am transgender. All my childhood brought me was pain and alienation. I am glad that today, at least some trans children do not have to go through the pain I did. I even reached out to one such parent...who addressed Mr. Biden at his Town Hall...because I wanted to be sure she got one loving response. I knew social media, full of poisonous people like P.M., would rip her apart. Today we are friends, and have even spoken on the phone. I am glad to know her and her eight year old daughter, who knows a happiness in childhood that I can only dream of...and which never was mine.

Why do people like P.M. want to take that from children who are like I was? It cannot possibly be out of any concern or interest for this child's can only be because this challenges their own comfort level. Well, P.M., I am sorry if my very existence is offensive to you and makes you uncomfortable. It doesn't give you the right to try to pass laws to suppress me...or children who are like I was. Mind your own damn business!

E.B. in Seattle, WA, writes: In the Beatles' song "We Can Work It Out," Paul earnestly tells a love interest that in order for them to stay together, she needs to always see it his way, regardless of whether he is right or wrong. At risk of presentism, we'd now call this an abusive relationship and encourage the love interest to dump the singer posthaste.

P.M. in Currituck seems to think that for Democrats to regain the votes of rural Pennsylvania, the Democratic side would need to come on bended knee, present gifts on a velvet pillow, and never bring up hard truths such as structural racism, the future of coal, or their status relative to an attempted coup. I feel like there are similarities to the song.

Two years ago, I ran for school board here in Seattle. The best campaign advice I got was from a sitting school board director, who told me that some people were not my voters, and I shouldn't waste time trying to convince them. Instead, I should focus efforts on turning out my voters or convincing people who were on the fence. If I were asked to give advice to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, I'd say that they should drop focus on people who left the Democratic side and work to bring in disaffected Republicans from the suburbs.

R.L.D. in Austin, TX, writes: Not to open the P.M. of Carrituck can of worms again but I wanted to comment on the charge that the Democratic Party has written off rural America at their peril. The thing is, on the Republican side, they've written off cities and now suburbs and the things those voters care about. As it happens, I agree that the Democrats need to be better about talking to rural America, but at least they chose the right group to piss off. Or, if the GOP insists on alienating the biggest portion of the populace and the portion that is growing the fastest, the least they could have done was enact policies that would help that segment of the population instead of focusing on the top 1% who, frankly, don't need any help.

What's really frustrating to me is the GOP insistence on being on the wrong side of issues that would be real winners across the political spectrum—for example, homelessness.

Homelessness is a huge issue in cities large and small and nobody is happy with the results our current efforts have been getting in the past. The thing of it is, people in homeless services know how to end it, have had reliable success in getting people off the streets and out of shelters into permanent housing to stay. What's holding them back are: (1) not enough resources for the current population of people experiencing homelessness and (2) a steady stream of new homelessness. In the Continuum of Care (CoC) in Austin/Travis County Texas, the community pretty consistently houses 1,500-1,700 people every year. Less than 20% of those return in 24 months or less. But the total number of people served every year is also pretty consistent, between 4,500 and 5,000/year. Why? Because there is also a pretty consistent influx of people new to the system every year (or at least who haven't interacted with the system in the previous two years).

Austin is covered with large encampments in public places since the city ended their decades-long practice of making such camping illegal. And what do our Republican Governor and the Travis County GOP want to do? Reinstate the camping ban. Rich people and poor people alike are upset about the "tent cities." Maintaining a system of shelters and capacity for jail, ER, EMS services, and the "quality of life" complaints that homelessness requires is expensive; far more expensive than it would be to just house the people who are on the street. And most people don't need lifetime (or even multi-year) support; a few months of rent assistance and case management is enough to get them into long-term stability. Ending homelessness would endear them to the rich folks who just don't want to see it, the poor people who are at risk of falling into housing crisis, people who want their tax dollars spent more effectively, and progressives who want to solve societal problems and increase social justice (homelessness affects people of color all out of proportion to their place in the overall population). I'm sure there are other topics that would have similarly broad support if they would just take the time to sell it or at least deign to consider that maybe Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) aren't the fonts of all wisdom.

So, if the modern GOP is serious about "healing" and "coming together" (let me be clear, that's a Canada-sized 'IF') I say let them make the first move. Democrats have been reaching out to Republicans for far too long with nothing to show for it.

M.S. in Allentown, PA, writes: Recent Sunday mailbags have contained discussions about real or perceived transgressions by each side against the other: the right is intolerant of anyone different than them; the left looks down on the right. The word that has been missing in the conversation is "microaggressions." I encourage readers to look inward. We are all guilty. We rightly criticize Trump's racist dog whistles. But if one looks, there are elitist microaggressions in almost every Sunday mailbag.

Can the elitism divide be bridged? Just as Trump supporters struggle to understand white privilege, can a staunch liberal really understand Trump supporters? Consider President Biden's beautifully diverse cabinet. When the right says the diversity is superficial, prioritizing skin color over lived experience, it seems racist. But then I think about these statistics:

  • 5.1% of all persons in the U.S. will be confined in a State or Federal prison in their lifetime.
  • 64% of people age 25 and older do not have a 4-year degree.
  • 38% of adults in 2017 battled a drug use disorder.
  • 5% of adults experience a mental illness in any one year.
  • In 2017, 58.3% of all wage and salary workers were paid at hourly rates.
  • In June 2020, 47.2% of the US adult population was jobless.

In these areas, does the Biden cabinet "look like America"? Can it? Should it? Is a cabinet devoid of people in these demographics a microaggression against them? Is a cabinet devoid of these people able to enact policies that will be good for them, and acceptable to them?

Every time we enjoy snarky microaggressions against the right, we discourage cooperation and reconciliation. Given the media's proclivity for disseminating and amplifying anger, every intentional microaggression encourages people to find another where it does not exist.

In 2016, the "basket of deplorables" insult galvanized a voting bloc that is probably overrepresented in the statistics above. Trump's campaign strategy was to pick a fight with anyone who acted like an intellectual. That made him their hero, their messiah, and for four years, our president.

We cannot restore civility in politics by waiting for the other side to make the first move. If we want President Biden to succeed, then the change has to start with us. We need to put an end to our intentional microaggressions. We have to give others our respect before we think they have earned it. It is the only way to heal our families and heal our nation.

S.R. in Hoboken, NJ, writes: I want to assure P.M. in Currituck that many readers of this site are men and women of goodwill who are simply seeking a non-partisan, clear-eyed understanding of the American political arena.

As I tell anyone who voted for either of the two major candidates in November's presidential election, 70 million people voted for the other guy, and you're not going to get anywhere until you understand why. The problems of the New York City subway system are probably not #1 on your list of concerns, and the problems of the status of the roads in North Carolina aren't #1 on mine, but we can agree that America's infrastructure needs help.

Let's continue to work on expanding our common ground and spend less time on expanding our divisions. We need your contributions to do that.

S.S. in Detroit, MI, writes: Thanks to P.M. of Currituck for sticking around to take lumps from us Libs. I think those of us on all sides of the issues would benefit from taking ourselves a little less seriously. And seriously, P.M., though teetotalitarianism is against my religion, I could set that aside temporarily. But, c'mon, Culver's? A franchise place? There is really only one choice for luncheon in Livonia, and that is (Norman?) Bates Hamburgers, on the corner of Farmington and Five Mile. My treat.

TrumpWatch 2021

E.G. in Lake Forest Park, WA, writes: In this week's Q&A, you published a question from J.K. in Short Hills asking about Joe Biden's margin of victory (in terms of absolute number of votes) compared to Trump's in 2016. J.K. noted that Biden's vote margin in the 3 closest states he won (AZ, WI, and GA) in 2020 was lower than Trump's in his 3 closest states (WI, MI and PA) in 2016. In addition to your response about Biden's overall popular vote margin, I noticed that the 3 states cited for Trump's close margin of victory in 2016 would have resulted in a win for Clinton, had Trump lost those states. In contrast, Biden losing AZ, WI, and GA in 2020 would not have resulted in a victory for Trump—it would have been an electoral vote tie. If the vote margin for Biden's next closest state (NV) is also considered, the absolute number of votes that put him over the top is similar to Trump's in 2016.

E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, writes: Whenever you do have a Donald Trump-free news day, better not mention it that day, lest you create a Trump item! It's a bit of a paradox, like a political news version of The Game. Also, I wanted to point out that the item about a Trump-free day could prevent the first Trump-free week. Regardless, let's hope both come soon!

V & Z respond: The first rule of a Trump-free day is you do not talk about Donald Trump. The second rule of a Trump-free day is you DO NOT talk about Donald Trump.

D.R. in Slippery Rock, PA, writes: There is a lesser-known section of the Bankruptcy Code, Section 303 of Title 11 of the United States Code that provides that if a debtor owes three out of no fewer than twelve creditors a total of at least $16,750 in non-contingent (fixed amount), undisputed (acknowledged), unsecured (no collateral) debt, then that debtor can be forced to be in a chapter 7 liquidation or chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy. In either chapter, a trustee would be appointed to oversee everything. (Normally in a chapter 11, the debtor has what's called "debtor in possession" status, and is in charge of running things without a trustee overseer.) For some reason, there's one guy who immediately springs to mind as an excellent candidate for an involuntary bankruptcy.

G.W. in Dayton, OH, writes: Thanks for running my letter about the fact that there will be a Trump Presidential Library in last Sunday's mailbag.

In all fairness, I should point out that there isn't a brick-and-mortar Obama Library, either. However, this was a decision made from a position of strength, not weakness. As noted here, the Obamas realized that the vast majority of the records from his administration had been created digitally, and that this fact alone called for rethinking what a presidential library is, how it is staffed, and how its resources are accessed. It was a bit of a surprise to NARA staff in 2017 when it was announced that the Obama Library would be fully digital. But a digital repository is clearly the wave of the future. Won't it be nice when a researcher can access materials from hundreds of miles away at 11:00 at night rather than blocking out time and money to make a trip to Ann Arbor (Ford Library) or College Station (Bush Library) or Abilene (Eisenhower Library)?

The Trump Library is already listed on NARA's presidential libraries web page. As you noted, whether there is a Trump Museum is a different issue. Remember that there is a Dan Quayle Vice-Presidential Museum, but I doubt it's overrun with visitors any more.

V & Z respond: Does the Quayle Museum have a gift shop? And if so, can one buy a potatoe there?

B.B. in Chipley, FL, writes: You wrote: "[I]n New York, Trump's already on—in effect—non-profit probation."

Double-secret probation?

V & Z respond: The quest to build a Trump library is not over until it's over. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: OMG, you guys nailed it...comparing Trump to Biff Tannen. Hell, they even sorta look alike!

V & Z respond: We wish we could take credit for that insight, but "Back to the Future" screenwriter Bob Gale has already admitted that Tannen was modeled on Trump.

M.C. in Santa Clara, CA, writes: Jimmy Kimmel's farewell to Donald Trump:

V & Z respond: That's worth it for the dancing Lincoln Monument alone.

Republican Voters

M.D.K. in Portland, OR, writes: I want to follow up on the question C.P. of Silver Spring asked about ways to defeat Fox News and its ilk. Here's how another instigating organization was punished.

On November 12, 1988, in Portland, Oregon, three racist skinheads beat to death Ethiopian college student Mulugeta Seraw. The killers were identified, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

A few months later, Seraw's family—represented by Morris Dees for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League—sued the white supremacist organization that organized and incited the killers.

Dees won a judgment of $12.5 million, which bankrupted and permanently impoverished the leaders of the inciting organization.

The family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick has standing to sue Fox, etc. down to its knickers for inciting the January 6 mob to kill Sicknick.

S.K. in Sunnyvale, CA, writes: On the topic of building understanding between pro- and anti-Trump voters, I saw this video this week and thought it was rather clever. I'm not sure if it might help with C.K. in Rochester's relatives, but it could be worth a shot. It's under seven minutes long and worth watching through to the end:

Republican Principles

S.G. in Washington, DC, writes: I was surprised that you claim you can't list what the Republican party's core principles are.

They have been clear to me for years—at least since I really started paying attention to politics before the 2004 election—which is also when I found your site and read it every day in 2004. (I guess I'm a charter member.)

Nothing a Republican in office does, including coup plotting, surprises me, because I know the core principles of the Republican Party for about the last 40 years have been:

  1. Hobble the middle class and working class as much as possible for the sake of their rich corporate donors, who, after all, have never gotten over losing legal slavery in this country. Repealing and replacing the American Dream with a desperate, destitute, over-the-barrel, paycheck-to-paycheck labor force, by transferring as many economic and financial risks to workers as possible, is seen by corporate-owned Republicans, in office or not, as achieving "peak labor cost efficiency". It helps reduce all manner of costly business inconveniences, like workers being able to retire, quitting to start a competing business, quitting to go back to school, demanding higher raises if they did achieve more education, etc.

    This goal is obvious in many policy positions, such as education, labor rights, financial regulation, and so on. It is especially obvious in healthcare policy: If a worker is desperate to keep their job for the health insurance, due to a preexisting condition, will they risk asking for a raise? Given any health level, if they cannot afford private health insurance outside of their job, will they quit to go back to school or retire? And if they stay at work, doesn't that also suppress wages and wage demands through competition for jobs? This goal is only a bit less obvious to see in policies like abortion (an oversupply of unskilled labor has the same wage-suppressive potential), and immigration (keeping a lot of workers cowed and illegitimate, and you can keep their pay and benefits at a minimum as well.) Bottom line, it's all about the bottom line.

  2. Oppress minority groups as much as possible. This is largely for the pure satisfaction of racism (inelastic brains, unable to open themselves to diversity, no matter the merit for the individual or benefit to the economy), but it's also a beautiful way to help satisfy goal #1 for corporate Republicans, and plays into the natural human tendency toward selfishness, among the rank and file. A Kentucky man dying of cancer and going broke on medical bills was once asked, wouldn't he like to have universal fully-paid government healthcare. He said, "No, because then a Black man would get it too."

  3. Destroy Good Government. On the way to destroying Good Government, make it work really badly for most people, so they will want it destroyed. And if you happen to start not winning elections because your efforts on these three goals are not well liked by the population, well, then, fair elections should be seen as Good Government too, and destroyed as well. This goal explains why a known-corrupt reality-show star was elected president, and it was fine with Republicans that he picked for Education Secretary someone who had never set foot inside a public school. Why a horse owner was previously picked as head of FEMA. Why veterans' healthcare was slashed at the beginning of the Bush Wars, leading to a years-long backlog. Why healthcare for sick 9-11 first responders was repeatedly threatened. Why net neutrality was attacked. Why public schools, the EPA, FDA, pandemic response, are under attack. And so on.

    Republicans running for office sign a written contract with Grover Norquist to never raise taxes—but the real goal is to "drown government in a bathtub." And this signed contract supercedes their verbal oath to serve The People, because it comes with campaign cash and the threat of being primaried out if they violate the contract by doing some Good Government. This helps explain why Republicans in Congress are essentially quickly maneuvering to side with the insurrectionists and their leader, Donald Trump. It's why Republicans want to keep government stuck on the 19th century soot economy, even if joining the 21st century global renewable energy economy would be better for workers, businesses, and the economy.

H.F. in Pittsburgh PA, writes: Interesting piece on Friday about the future of the Republican Party after Donald Trump. Although today's GOP has certainly done an about-face on the issues of immigration and free trade, I would argue that since Eisenhower left office the party has been very consistent to its core principles regardless of who the president is, and will continue to adhere to them after Trump. I like to call these principles the Five Pillars of Republicanism:

  1. Reduce taxes for the rich and corporations while shifting the tax burden to the poor.

  2. Eliminate any regulations that could reduce corporate profits (even if those regulations have benefits like protecting health and safety).

  3. Cut social and infrastructure spending while increasing defense spending (especially on projects that guarantee profits for large defense contractors).

  4. Oppose organized labor (with the exception of police unions).

  5. Privatize public services and resources.

Despite the populist themes in his tweets and rallies, Trump dependably helped Congressional Republicans achieve these goals. Whoever the next GOP Presidents might be, whoever the next GOP Congressional leaders might be, you can be sure they will always strive to maximize corporate profits and redistribute wealth upwards. It's their nature.

E.F. in Baltimore, MD, writes: Of course the GOP has five core principles: Guns, tax cuts and Jesus...and some more guns and some more tax cuts.

C.J. in Hawthorne, CA, writes: As far as your commentary goes on the issues the GOP faces winning a Presidential race, I think they have an even steeper hill to climb than the Reconstruction-to-New-Deal Democrats.

The Democrats may not have won the elections of 1876 or 1888, but they did win the popular vote both times. Grover Cleveland was actually a pretty popular figure, considering he won the popular vote three times in a row! Woodrow Wilson benefited from a fractured race in 1912, but he did win a second term on his own in '16. The Democrats even look better if you put an asterisk by William Jennings Bryan, who basically dominated the party from 1896-1908.

The modern GOP, on the other hand, has already lost the popular vote in 7 of the last 8 elections. George W. Bush did get a term when winning the popular vote (and 2000 was basically a tie), but that is already a similar streak to the Civil War/Reconstruction-era Democrats with no Grover Cleveland on the horizon.

M.A. in Mansfield, TX, writes: You keep bringing up moderate and centrist Republicans. There are no such things today. They aren't Republicans anymore. They are independents. The Republican Party today is an evangelical conservative wing of the Trump cult. And although not every cult member is a racist, all racists are cult members. I'd love to have the Democrats work with real centrists from the other side. Heck, even with real conservatives for honest policy debate and compromise. But what's called "Republican" today is just a bats**t crazy follower of Donald Trump.

A.R. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: Republicans should have played their cards a little closer to the vest. Instead, they couldn't wait to demonstrate their fealty to Trump with the show vote on the impeachment trial and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) pilgrimage to Florida to grovel at Trump's feet. They have prematurely declared to Biden and the Democrats that they have no interest in governing and that nothing has changed—obstruction remains the name of the game.

So now Democrats can and must act. They should pass the COVID-19 relief bill next week using the budget reconciliation process to get this done before the impeachment trial begins. This is urgent relief that Americans need and nothing prevents Republicans from still voting for it. Then, checks will be going out to the American people when the trial gets underway and Biden can point to an early win for his rescue plans.

It would be folly for the Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot by delaying a vote until during or after the trial in the vain hope that 10 Republican Senators will jump on board. They played their hand and now the Dems must play theirs.

Republican Members of Congress

L.M. in Tampa, FL, writes: I've read that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asserted that California wildfires were caused by a secret Jewish space laser.

I'm Jewish, and I work in a high tech field. I resent not being let in on the design and the profit. Just like our secret plan to take over the world with just 0.2% of the population: Why is it that only the cool kids get included?

Seriously though, how can Republicans tolerate that unadulterated sh*t?

J.F. in Houston, TX, writes: We collectively bristle at K.D.G.'s, Atlanta, GA usage: "Rep. Gohmert (R-Dumbest M of C)" which clearly identifies Gohmert's party and state.

"Dumbest M of C" does not describe the state that gave the country Sam Rayburn, Barbara Jordan, and all of our current outstanding Democratic representatives. Furthermore, we are proud to provide the nation with someone as "skilled" with words as Representative Gohmert as a laughingstock, and demand that K.D.G. rewrite that description as "Rep. Gohmert (Dumbest M of C-TX)."

B.S. in Washougal, WA, writes: I think Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) understands Alaska just fine. She was born and raised in Alaska, as was I. Alaska is a very different and fiercely independent state.

People look at the electoral map and see red, but Alaska is an anti-federal government state, not a conservative state. Alaska legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade. Alaska first legalized pot in 1975.

In 2010 conservative Joe Miller defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary, but she won the general election as a write-in candidate, only the second person in US history to do so for a senate seat.

Most people don't really know Alaska. Your map, like most maps of the U.S., shows a shrunken Alaska in the lower left hand corner. People are taught that Alaska is the largest state, but they don't see it. Alaska is almost as big as the Lower 48. If Alaska was moved, with a slight rotation, to a position on top of the continental 48, the eastern tip would be in the Atlantic Ocean, the western tip would be in the Pacific Ocean, and the northern tip would be in Minnesota.

Alaska has a huge amount of land, but it is largely federal land, not state land. Most of Alaska is governed by politicians headquartered thousands of miles away with little familiarity with it. And many Alaskans hate that; they feel like a colony.

Murkowski stands up for Alaska in all its uniqueness. There is no chance she will become a Democrat; she knows she would lose as a Democrat. She will continue to be a truly independent Republican.

M.G. in Indianapolis, IN, writes: According to this, the breakdown on registered voters in Alaska is: 149,000 Republicans; 81,000 Democrats and 19,000 Independents. I am by no means a mathematical genius but even I can see that 149,000 > 81,000 + 19,000. Lisa Murkowski knows she needs to stay a Republican to obtain reelection in 2022. Why would anyone be shocked?

J.C. in Binan, Laguna, Philippines, writes: Another thing about Sen. Josh Hawley's (R-MO) claims about communist China: Having lived there, it is anything but. Sure, it is a totalitarian state engaging in genocide. But it is far more capitalistic than America, with the pursuit of wealth and getting items being the end goal of the society.


B.W.S. in Pleasant Valley, NY, writes: I wanted to report that I thoroughly enjoyed D.E. of Lancaster's most recent letter, and their meditations on how to preserve the Senate filibuster while sharply curbing its potential for abuse. It is this sincere, thoughtful commitment to cooperative problem-solving for which I have hungered for the past 4+ years.

I agree that the filibuster can be a useful political tool—when wielded correctly, in the right hands. History would seem to show that the flouting of those two caveats is what has produced the lion's share of abuses, to the point where pols, journalists, and the commentariat simply assume any given bill hinges on cloture. This is almost certainly not what our Founding Parents had intended, and so the desire to abolish or tightly control it cannot be out of place. By way of analogue: a machete can also be a very useful tool, when handled correctly by someone with training. Would you allow literally anyone who can close their fist around the hilt to grasp one? And in unrestricted company?

The idea of limiting the filibuster to so-many uses per so-long period of time is intriguing, not least because of the sports metaphor alluded to in the letter; however, I believe applying this restriction would likely result in one kind of abuse which D.E. might not have considered: using the threat of a filibuster as a cudgel for forcing the majority to make changes or to accept amendments offered by the minority. I'm sure that already happens now to some extent, so framing it as an abuse may not seem apropos; but if the uses of filibuster are limited, to, say, three or four times per session, then each use gains more political value... and so, by extension, does every potential use.

So, I have a different proposal: instead of limiting the number of times a filibuster can be used, switch up the rules on how it can be invoked. Make it so that individual Senators can't do it unilaterally, but must join with at least two colleagues to push it forward. I also think the threshold for cloture should also be changed, bringing it down to 55. I know you recently discussed this, and suggested that such a reduction probably wouldn't have much real effect. That's likely true, since current use is a by-product of presumption of its invincibility: why bother invoking it if there's a chance it can be overcome? But I think that's precisely the point: it would oblige the minority to reserve it for bills where an opposition is much more likely to be sustained, and on moral grounds, rather than simply for political expedience. (Maybe that's yet another potential check on its power.)

J.C. in Auburn, AL, writes: When it comes to dealing with the filibuster, I'm not sure why everyone seems to focus on changing or "compromising" on the cloture threshold. In my opinion, unless you put in some drastic changes to it or nuke it altogether, it will still be abused, and the GOPers will just whine again how the Democrats are the ones who kept the tit-for-tat going.

Here are my suggestions for reform:

  • Get rid of cloture, period. The talking filibuster was gradually turned into threatening filibuster when the cloture rule was established, and it in turn led to the abuse we're seeing now. Just get rid of it, and make whoever wants to filibuster to work for it.

  • Parliamentary reform #1: Institute a no-off-topic rule for the filibuster. Reciting the phone book has absolutely nothing to do with deliberation at all. If you drift off topic, you'll be ruled out of order.

  • Parliamentary reform #2: Institute a no repetition rule for the filibuster. Shouting Benghazi 65,535 times is not deliberation. If you don't contribute something new into the debate, but rather merely rehashing the same talking point (that was already stated by others) over and over, you'll be ruled out of order.

Unless those who are against nuking the filibuster are just full of it, and they admit it's got nothing to do with being "deliberative," but simply institute an artificial higher threshold for passing legislation, these three reforms will make the filibuster harder to abuse while preserving the Senate's status as the "more deliberative" body.

Oh, and a fun fact: The filibuster is translated and taught in Taiwan's Poli Sci classes as "費力把事拖 (Fei Li Ba Shih Tuo)," which literally means "using your might to drag things out."

A.W. in Lynnwood, WA, writes: I read "Braking the Filibuster," and an important point was not mentioned: The filibuster is unconstitutional.

The obvious thought the Founders had was that a simple majority of the Senate passes a bill. The U.S. Constitution Article 1 Section 3 Paragraph 4 states "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Article 1 Section 7 Paragraph 2 is equally clear. "Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States." I submit that the word "passed" means a simple majority.

The Constitution is very clear what requires a super-majority vote of the Senate: trying impeachments, expelling a member, approving treaties, overriding vetoes, and determining "that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

Filibusters are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The Senate added the filibuster as a Senate rule. A rule cannot change the Constitution. Only a Constitutional amendment can change the Constitution's vote requirements.

M.W. in Boston, MA, writes: I'd like to add to your response to the question by T.W. in Maryland about why many Democrats want to abolish the filibuster, even knowing they often won't control the Senate. In my opinion, your response left out a key reason why the Democrats ought to proceed: Doing so will make the Republicans more accountable when they are in control.

I'm basing my argument on this excellent Vox piece by Ezra Klein. In it, he points out that the GOP wouldn't be able to hide behind so many symbolic but ultimately toothless votes if there were no filibuster. He points out that candidates "now have the luxury of promising voters all kinds of policies they know can never pass."

The GOP agenda, to the extent that there even is one these days, is highly unpopular. Were they to gain control of Congress and the White House and ram through, say, Social Security privatization or complete elimination of reproductive rights, it is much more likely that voters would spank them, hard, at the next election. As Klein says, this is actually how democracy is supposed to work.

The Biden Administration

AT in Arlington, MA, writes: I think there may be one additional reason why Joe Biden chose the portrait of Benjamin Franklin for the Oval Office: the anecdote about Franklin replying to the question "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?". Franklin is quoted as saying "A republic, if you can keep it." Given the recent insurrection, it seems particularly apropos.

J.A. in Austin, TX, writes: Why Ben Franklin? Two words: post office!

K.D. in Reno, NV, writes: You keep talking about how busy Biden is. You know what he's not busy working on? Getting desperate, broke, starving, near-homeless Americans that third stimulus that he promised when they flipped the two seats in Georgia.

S.L. in Monrovia, CA, writes: I think putting Harriet Tubman's image in the $20 bill is much more than "a poke in Trump's eye," as you put it. Yes, it is just symbolic, but it is hugely symbolic. Since we all handle $20 bills, we will all be noticing a Black Life that mattered. I emphasize the word "all" here. It is a palpable symbol of change in our nation.

V & Z respond: We did not mean to suggest that this, or much of anything that Biden does, is solely to poke Trump in the eye. Merely that Biden, as a veteran politician, likes to kill multiple birds with one stone. And sometimes, one of those birds is "stick it to Trump."

H.F. in Pittsburgh, PA, writes: As long as President Biden is overturning his predecessor's "achievements," he should abolish the Space Force as a separate uniformed service, and reincorporate its activities into the U.S. Air Force. Sixty-plus years after the Space Race began, no other nation has a Space Force. Fighting battles in outer space makes as much sense as fighting in Antarctica or atop Mount Everest. The creation of the U.S. Space Force was nothing more than self-aggrandizing and macho posturing by the 45th president.

V & Z respond: No battles in space? Captain Kirk begs to differ.

American Jesus

P.S. in Gloucester, MA, writes: If there exists a civil religion in America (per Robert Bellah and others), then the ceremonial, performative stipulations in the Constitution are among its rituals. That includes the tallying of electoral votes by the president of the Senate in the presence of both houses of Congress. And also traditions derived from less specifically performative passages of the Constitution, such as live annual delivery by the President of a State of the Union address, and the ceremony of inauguration of the President and Vice President at the beginning of each presidential term.

Given my own religious tradition, I saw the U.S. presidential inauguration ceremony this time around as a sort of civil Hanukkah, a rededication of the Capitol to democracy after the defilement of two weeks prior.

(I suppose some might consider it a miracle that the ink in President Biden's executive-order-signing pen has flowed for at least eight days following...)

As I did when the presidential election was called, and when the Georgia Senate runoffs were called, I said a Shehecheyanu. A bittersweet Shehecheyanu, given the passing of 400,000+ victims of the pandemic, and of the victims of police violence.

Now the hard work begins.

(Note: The Shehecheyanu is a simple Hebrew blessing, praising God for giving us life, sustaining us, and bringing us to this moment in time. When the presidential election was called, I saw that Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-MN, had tweeted "al-hamdu l-Illah"—Arabic for "praise be to God"—on behalf of herself and also of her father, who had died in the pandemic. Same God, called by different names from different traditions, but the same emotional state and imperative.)

J.B. in Hutto, TX, writes: I disagree with your assertion that Thomas Jefferson would have felt uncomfortable with the Declaration of Independence being described as "sacred." After all, on more than one occasion, he referred to American ideals as the "sacred fire" and spoke of the Declaration being an "expression of the American mind".

F.R. in Berlin, Germany, writes: The breakdown of Joe Biden's cabinet and the apparent lack of the straight male WASPs poses the question: In what respect can Roman Catholicism still be regarded as a minority religion in the United States? As a European studying American politics from the outside, I was always a bit confused why John F. Kennedy had to assert his allegiance to democratic values as a Catholic while running for President. I estimated that the rupture that reformation and counter-reformation—as attempted by Queen Mary, the Spanish Armada, and others—had produced in British society managed to prevail in the U.S. as long as in the motherland or longer.

By now, Catholicism seems to me a numerical minority without most of the usual downsides, without a perceived alterity from majority society. Rather, there seems to be a small benefit, judging from the high number of Roman Catholic Supreme Court justices and now, cabinet officials. Part of this deminorization seems to come from the political "neutrality" of this particular faith. Proponents of Catholic social teaching and anti-abortion advocates don't seem to have much in common as citizens and are not perceived as part of the same community any more.


P.D. in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, writes: I was pleasantly surprised by the mention of Steven Spielberg's film "Duel." "Duel," to me, is a great example of film making, a much lesser known film of Spielberg's outside of film scholars. I never miss the chance to watch it, though it appears much too infrequently these days. When I was in college I wrote a paper on the film. Thank you for mentioning it!

V & Z respond: Happy to be of service! (Z) never wrote a paper on the film, but he did go to grad school with Spielberg's brother-in-law.

M.P in Atlanta, GA, writes: Although I agree that Steven Spielberg can get a bit over-dramatic and cheesy, I took pause when I got to this: "(Z) was old enough (9-10) to theoretically appreciate "E.T.," but didn't."

A 9-year-old who didn't appreciate "E.T.?" I had no idea (Z) was such a monster!

V & Z respond: (Z)'s father acquired a bootleg copy of the film the week it came out, and showed it at every party and gathering for months. This was not the best way to experience the film (bad quality, played over and over) and so that is what ruined it.

W.S. in Austin, TX, writes: You wrote: "Beyond that, (Z) likes some of Spielberg's popcorn films, particularly the first and third Indiana Jones films."

The first was possibly the greatest action film ever made. The third was...passable. It's a good thing there wasn't ever a fourth. That would probably have been so bad as to force us all into a state of collective denial.

V & Z respond: Indeed. Having already used the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, they are out of good MacGuffins, so they probably would have resorted to something dumb like crystal skulls of alien origin. And given Indy's advancing age, they might even have included a really absurd set piece, like him surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator.

K.S. in Harrisburg, PA, writes: ´╗┐As someone who has been a huge fan of from the early days, I am always looking for ways to contribute. A friend of mine is one of your staff grammar checkers, but this is not an option for me since I know how much time he spends on that assignment (sounds too close to a real job for a retiree like me) and I am not a grammatist. I have tried staff humorist, but although you have graciously printed a few of my comedic offerings, I am not creative enough to come up with regular witticisms. However, I found a job which I believe I am well qualified for: staff mathematician! Although my math skills are only average, I can certainly drink to incapacitation on any given Friday night. Please send an application form along with a salary schedule and full list of benefits including the health plan and 401k.

V & Z respond: Why don't we just skip the intermediate step and hire you as the staff drunk? Well, one of them, at least.

D.C. in Chicago, IL, writes: Aren't we due an update on that fake game last weekend as the Green Bay Packers march inevitably toward the 2021 Superbowl?

V & Z respond: Oh, don't worry. We'll be calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday and "suggesting" he "find" another 6 points for the Packers immediately.

A.M. in Olympia, WA, writes: Looks like your beloved Green Bay Packers folded faster than a K-Mart lawn chair in crunch time. It might behoove you to stick with political prognostications and not those of the gridiron.

V & Z respond: Did you see the refereeing in that game? We were foolish to expect a game played less then 300 miles from the Canadian border to be on the up-and-up.

D.L-O. in North Canaan, CT, writes: I've been reading with great concern your comments on the Canadian invasion. You clearly have no idea of how pervasive and nefarious the creeping "Eh"-ism has become. Is not curling the provincial obsession of Canada? And are you not aware that there are already almost 190 curling clubs throughout the United States? These central gathering places of the Canadian overlords are NOT limited to the northern tier nor to the Midwestern areas of our great country. They exist from Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between. Forty-two pound stones are being thrown at a pace and with a dedication that would dismay anyone who has witnessed a single game, much less an entire bonspiel (translation: "war of the rinks") with tens of smiling American curlers sliding in lockstep behind their "skip" (translation: "Dear Leader").

Participants are forced to wear special shoes (manufactured and sold almost exclusively in CANADA), carry brooms (required to perform the vital curling ritual of "sweeping clean" and made and sold by the same sources). Not to mention they must sweep bent over in a subservient position 120 feet down the ice sheet to the feet of the Dear Leader as he/she bellows at them to "SWEEP...SWEEP HARD!" Heaven forbid that they miss their target and earn a ferocious scowl from both the Dear Leader and the poor curler who delivered the wayward stone. I warn you, American converts to the CANADIAN TYRANNY of curling are here and now insidiously spreading their obsession!

A thin ray of hope in these desperate times is that the last Olympic gold medal for curling was won by a team of really nice guys from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Proof, however, that the invasion is working, since clearly they've been "Canadian-niced," Eh?

V & Z respond: This bears investigating. As they say, "First it's curling, then it's communism." We think that was Winston Churchill, but we'll have to check our notes.

P.S. in Portland, ME, writes: I deeply apologize to T.I. from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I had no idea the line "always gets their man" comes from the RCMP and not the FBI. Thank you. I stand humbled, corrected, and less ignorant. Certainly the last thing I would ever want to do is insult our neighbors to the north, for whom I have so much respect, admiration, and jealousy for their successful adoption of what is clearly a more advanced socio-economic system. In fact, my wife and I spend a great deal of time in the mountains of Maine, just 30 miles from the Canadian border, and my wife's dad and grandparents all immigrated to the U.S. from Nova Scotia. Believe me, several alternative plans—some involving canoes, snowshoes, snowmobiles, all-terrain-vehicles, hot air balloons, and a whole bunch of Estes Rockets strapped together—were well in place for us to escape to the new promised land had Trump won the election.

V & Z respond: This is how the Canadians do it. Hearts and minds, folks. Hearts and minds.

R.D. in Lafayette, IN, writes: W.S. in Austin, TX, wrote: "Canadians would not likely invade or take over America, but they did popularize pineapple as a pizza topping and for that alone they deserve death." To which (V) & (Z) responded: "And not for visiting Bryan Adams and Justin Bieber upon the world?"

It should be worth noting that, in 2013, the induction of prog-rock legend Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame provided a pardon to Canada for any and all musical crimes directly related to Bryan Adams and Justin Bieber. It was a great day for Canada, and therefore the world.

V & Z respond: Canada could be the birthplace of Elvis, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it still wouldn't make up for Bieber.

J.C. in Tysons, VA, writes: In response to E.H. in Dublin's comment: "What you don't mention is that at this stage we simply don't know how far Canadian infiltration of the American armed forces has progressed."

I can tell you that the answer to his comment is simple...a lot. All one need do is look to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The mission of NORAD is, "to conduct aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America." The current Deputy Commander is Lieutenant-General Allain Pelletier of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

It appears that NORAD's tracking of Santa for the last 65 years has diverted precious attention away from what is truly afoot.

V & Z respond: Santa lives in a very cold land to the north, surrounds himself with people who love maple syrup, and his colors are red and white. We all know who he's working for.

J.M. in Sewickley, PA, writes: Chasten Buttigieg may have a better sense of humor than my wife, but she never likes it when I refer to her as my First Wife.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan30 Saturday Q&A
Jan29 McCarthy Goes to Florida to Kiss the Ring
Jan29 A House Divided against Itself Cannot Stand
Jan29 Senate News, Part I: Jordan Out
Jan29 Senate News, Part II: Rubio May Be Bulletproof
Jan29 Question Answered: It Was Trump
Jan29 Another Question Answered: It Was a Hacky Decision
Jan29 Bird Isn't the Word
Jan28 Some Democrats Are Working on Plan B
Jan28 Trump's Targets
Jan28 The Pentagon Wants Its Money Back
Jan28 Democrats Need to Move Fast
Jan28 The Art of the Presidency
Jan28 Biden Has Created a Commission to Study the Judiciary
Jan28 Tens of Thousands of Voters Have Ceased to Be Republicans
Jan28 Federal Judges Are Starting to Retire
Jan28 North Carolina Senate Race Heats Up
Jan28 Senate Republicans Worry about More Retirements
Jan28 Scott Will Back Rubio for Reelection
Jan27 Trump Looks to Be Impeachy Keen
Jan27 Biden Administration Clears Up Vaccine Promises...
Jan27 ...And Otherwise Remains Busy...
Jan27 ...But Life Is About to Get Harder
Jan27 Murkowski Won't Switch Parties
Jan27 Democrats' Ace in the Hole?
Jan27 About that Trump Presidential Library...
Jan26 Biden's Been Busy...
Jan26 ...And So Has the Senate...
Jan26 ...and the Supreme Court, Too
Jan26 Portman Is Out...
Jan26 ...And Sarah Sanders Is In
Jan26 Hawley Takes His Heel Turn
Jan26 Dominion Sues Giuliani
Jan25 Second Impeachment Trial Could Be Different from First One
Jan25 Durbin Is Open to Scrapping the Filibuster
Jan25 Biden's Cabinet Does Not Look Like Cabinets Past
Jan25 State Election Officials Are Taking Guidance from the 2020 Election
Jan25 The Rio Grande Valley Will Be a Battleground in 2022
Jan25 Business Sucks: The Sequel
Jan25 You Can't Please All of the People All of the Time
Jan25 Election Action is in Louisiana
Jan25 Republicans Who Voted to Impeach Trump Are Already Facing Primary Opponents
Jan25 Trump Wants to Start a New Party
Jan24 Sunday Mailbag
Jan23 Saturday Q&A
Jan22 Biden Declares War
Jan22 Biden Slowly Staffs Up
Jan22 About that Unity...
Jan22 The Impeachment Dance Continues
Jan22 Biden Inaugural Address: The Reviews Are In