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Biden Announces Another $800 Million in Aid to Ukraine

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, keeps pleading for more military assistance and Joe Biden is listening. Yesterday, Biden announced another $800 million in military help for Ukraine. This is on top of the $1.7 billion in weaponry already delivered. Biden does not need congressional approval for this move as he can use the Presidential Drawdown Authority to move materiel and services from U.S. stockpiles when he declares an emergency. The only open question now is which kinds of equipment will be delivered. So far, Biden has mostly delivered defensive weapons, like Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-helicopter missiles. Zelenskyy now wants bigger and better offensive weapons, so Biden will have to decide what to provide. In large part, that depends on how much he is willing to anger Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some military experts are expecting the war in Ukraine to go on for months, maybe years. Since each missile and bullet can be used only once, and many of them miss their targets, this raises the issue of how long the U.S. can continue providing them. Yesterday, top Pentagon officials met with eight of the top weapons providers to discuss how much capacity they have. After all, in the long run, Biden can't keep sending Ukraine Javelins at a rate faster than Raytheon and Lockheed Martin can build them. Other top weapons suppliers are Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and L3Harris. Some specialty companies are also getting more love (and contracts), including IXI Electronic Warfare, which makes Dronekiller, and Radio Hill Technologies, which makes Dronebuster. SRC, Inc. makes larger anti-drone weapons that could shield an area the size of a stadium, but these are much more expensive (in the $3-$6 million range).

In any event, these are good times for weapons manufacturers, but also for U.S. generals who are more than a bit curious about how their various weapons fare against Russia's offensive weapons. And the information derived from the Ukraine war is asymmetric. The Pentagon will learn how its defensive weapons work against Russian offensive weapons but Russia won't learn anything about how its defensive weapons work against U.S. offensive weapons, since the U.S. hasn't shipped any tanks, jet fighters, etc. to Ukraine. In modern warfare, knowing how well your stuff works is really important. Of course, the Russians will also learn that their $5 million tanks can be easily destroyed by a $100,000 Javelin or a $25,000 Swedish-designed NLAW fire-and-forget rocket used by the U.K. army. And fixing the problem isn't going to be easy or cheap. We don't know for sure, but we suspect that top Pentagon officials believe that the information alone that they have gathered on how well Russian weapons function in actual war situations to be well worth the $2½ billion spent to acquire it. (V)

What Happens if Putin Uses Poison Gas in Ukraine?

While the U.S. generals are probably giddy with all they are learning about how well their Javelins work in practice against Russian tanks, they are probably sweating bullets about what to do if Vladimir Putin uses "chemical weapons" (a euphemism for poison gas) in Ukraine. They surely don't want to fight back with poison gas since then Putin would say: "See, everyone does it." They (and Joe Biden) are well aware that Barack Obama warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that if he used poison gas, that would be crossing a red line and there would be severe consequences. Then, al-Assad used chlorine gas and Obama did nothing. Biden knows he can't make threats unless he has some way of backing them up.

The New York Times' columnist Bret Stephens, who is not a military strategist, has nevertheless put together an interesting list of things Biden might want to keep in mind:

  • Don't make idle promises: If Biden wants to maintain any credibility going forward and avoid huge attacks from the Republicans for being a coward, he shouldn't make any promises he is not prepared to keep. It is fine to say to Putin: "If you use poison gas, you won't like what we do in response," but just keep it vague so Putin can't do a cost-benefit analysis.

  • Veiled threats are OK: When Biden met Putin in Geneva last June, he mentioned the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline. He said: "Well, how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?" The message surely got through, but he shouldn't make threats like that unless the CIA has told him that they could pull it off if ordered to do so.

  • Pressure Germany to end all energy imports from Russia: Russia's only real source of income is oil and gas exports to Europe. If those were cut off after a poison gas attack in Ukraine, it would really wreck the Russian economy. But again, Germany and other European countries aren't going to go cold turkey on energy imports unless Biden has worked out some alternative suppliers for them. Step 1 in making that threat credible is to start stockpiling energy now so there is at least one winter's worth in storage by December at the latest. Related to this would be to kick Russia off the SWIFT banking network completely, making payment for energy nearly impossible.

  • Destroy Russia's supply chains: One way to hugely disrupt Russia's economy, industry, and military is by announcing that any company doing business with Russia in any form is henceforth forbidden from doing business in the U.S. (and, hopefully, Europe). Russia gets lots of supplies and parts from abroad and if that flow instantly ceases, the effect would be dramatic.

  • Give Ukraine offensive weapons: So far, the U.S. has not given Ukraine tanks, jet fighters, long-range anti-aircraft weapons, state-of-the-art drones, and weaponry to strike inside Russia. That could change. Biden could even announce this in advance to make Putin think twice about using poison gas, but Biden would have to have already made the decision to follow through, otherwise he will be exposed as a paper eagle.

  • Hit Belarus: A direct attack by the U.S. on Russia would start World War III, but what about an attack on Belarus, especially a cyber attack? Suppose the lights went out in Minsk for a day. That might give both Belarus' dictator Alexsandr Lukashenko and Putin something to think about.

  • Expect the worst: In Syria, al-Assad began using poison gas discreetly, but over time he got bolder. Putin could also start with small attacks and if there were no reaction, scale up.

  • Plan for a long war: The war could go on for a year or more. Biden could decide that sooner or later the Ukrainians will need more advanced weapons, like F-16 fighter jets. In that case, Ukrainian pilots should be brought to NATO countries that already have them to begin learning how to fly them. Also, preparations should be made to wall off Russia from the world for a decade. Among other things, that means looking for permanent substitutes for products currently imported from Russia, such as certain raw materials. In particular, Russia is a major source of nickel, which is a key input for making the batteries used in electric cars. Australia and Canada also have nickel, but production there would have to be ramped up enormously to make up for the shortfall and prices would certainly shoot up if imports of nickel from Russia were banned.

By themselves, none of these will stop Putin if he is prepared to win at all costs, but they could make life in Russia a lot more difficult and might convince the military, the FSB, and the National Guard that Putin isn't worth it any more so it is time for him to go. (V)

Democrats May Change the Presidential Nomination Process

Many progressive Democrats have for years chafed at the presidential nomination process, in which two almost-entirely-white rural states play an outsized role in vetting presidential candidates. In 2024, the process may finally change, although there is plenty of resistance to that from those states, Iowa and New Hampshire. And they do have some strong arguments, mostly that if, say, California went first, step 1 for any candidate would be to first raise $100 million for ads somehow. Campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire doesn't require much money, just a dozen pairs of shoes and a tolerance for cold weather.

The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee is currently looking at a plan to change how the nomination process works. Committee member Leah Daughtry said: "We cannot be stuck in a 50-year-old calendar when we're trying to win 2022 and 2024 elections." Her point is well taken, since neither the 2020 Iowa winner (Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg) nor the 2020 New Hampshire winner (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT) got the nomination.

The new plan would allow up to five states to vote before Super Tuesday, but states would have to apply and the DNC would make the call. Michigan is pushing hard to make it into those five because it is a closely divided swing state, has urban and rural areas, has manufacturing and farming, and has a wide cultural diversity. New Jersey is also trying to move up, but it has the huge disadvantage of being a state with extremely expensive media markets. Half the state is in the New York City media market and the other half is in the Philadelphia media market, neither of them cheap.

Of course a decision to say that any state may apply to be in the first five just passes the buck to the committee that gets to evaluate the 56 proposals that come in (remember that Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and a few other territories, as well as Democrats Abroad, are also considered "states" and have Democratic primaries).

One feature that the committee is likely to stick to is geographic diversity. The current early states, namely Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, are all small states but from four different regions. It wouldn't be hard to find four smallish swingish states from different regions that would showcase different constituencies, such as Nevada (Latinos), Michigan (blue-collar workers), North Carolina (Black voters), and New Hampshire (white voters). Conceivably the DNC could rotate the order over cycles, so if North Carolina went first in 2024 it would be the last of the early four in 2028. (V)

Governing Is Tough

When politicians have to make a choice between what they know is right and what the voters want, the parties react totally differently. The Republicans give the voters what they want all the time, no questions asked. After all, isn't it the job of people's elected representatives to do what their constituents want, even if they know that it is stupid, wrong-headed, and will ultimately backfire? The Democrats agonize and then, when they are finished, go agonize some more. Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes the other. In the end, half the Democrats blame the other half for making the wrong decision. It is about to happen again. And again. And again.

  • Masks: The federal mandate that all travelers on planes, trains, ships, and other public conveyances wear masks was supposed to end next Monday. It is formally up to the CDC (but in practice up to Joe Biden, since the CDC is very unlikely to try to overrule him) whether it should be extended. A new corona variant, BA.2, is surging, so from a public health point of view, extending the mask mandate is probably a good idea. But Republicans are wildly against masks, so from a political viewpoint extending the mandate is a terrible idea.

    Also a factor is that the airlines want to drop the mask mandates. In truth, they don't care whether their passengers get sick a couple of days after traveling, but they care a huge amount when passengers refuse to wear masks and then hit a crew member for reminding them that federal regulations require all passengers to comply with lighted signs, placards and crew member instructions. No matter what decision Biden makes, a lot of people will be very angry. Biden and the CDC kicked the can down the road yesterday a bit by extending the masking requirement for 2 weeks, until May 3, but then the hot potato will be back on Joe's plate.

  • The Border: Title 42 of the United States Code allows the president to invoke a 1944 law to prevent people with communicable diseases from entering the U.S. The Trump administration jumped on this and began banning large numbers of people from entering the country by land from Mexico (but not by air from Norway). It also used Title 42 to expel 380,000 people who had already entered the country from Mexico. This has Stephen Miller's fingerprints all over it. Now Joe Biden wants to stop using Title 42 as a de facto immigration policy. Republicans are up in arms about it, but some Democrats want to keep the policy, among them Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who is from a border state and who is facing a tough reelection battle. On the other hand, many Latino voters want to drop the policy so their relatives can get into the country. Needless to say, if Biden drops the policy, Republicans are going to be screaming "Democrats want open borders" from now until Nov. 8. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) both want Biden to drop Title 42, putting them in direct conflict with Kelly and the Republicans.

  • Student loans: Payments on student loans have been frozen for over a year now. Biden just extended the freeze on payments until Aug. 31. Many progressives want him to forgive some amount of the loans. About 41 million people have student loans and 8 million are in default. So forgiving some amount of student loans has the potential to get 41 million votes. On the other hand, most Republicans are against loan forgiveness on the grounds that it would be "welfare" for the middle and upper classes. While there are plenty of poor students who have a student loan, about half of all student loans are to people with masters or doctoral degrees and these tend to be people who are well-off. The Republican base of blue collar workers generally didn't go to college and don't have student loans and see forgiveness as a nice present for the elites they hate. Biden could decide to forgive only loans taken out for bachelor's degrees, which would remove some of the Republicans' arguments, but for much of the Republican base, when you take out a loan you are expected to pay it back and forgiveness is just the kind of welfare they hate. Another tough call here.

So, what's a president to do? All of these items require some action now and any action is going to anger a lot of people. Not being in power is easy. All you have to do is complain. Actually governing is harder. (V)

Maybe the Democrats Won't Be Wiped Out in November

There is endless talk everywhere about how the Democrats are going to get trounced in November. Historically, the president's party does lose seats in Congress in the first midterm. But will it be a shellacking, as Barack Obama put it in 2010? Political scientist Alan Abramowitz, over at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, is not so sure.

The magnitude of the losses vary widely from year to year, as this table of midterms from 1946 to 2018 shows.

House Elections   Senate elections
Results Number Swing   Results Number Swing
Shellacking (-45 or worse) 6 -53.2   Shellacking (-8 or worse) 5 -9.8
Bad (-30 to -44) 2 -36.5   Bad (-5 to -7) 3 -5.7
Average (-20 to -29) 2 -27.0   Average (-2 to -4) 3 -3.0
Good (-10 to -19) 4 -14.2   Good (0 to -1) 4 -0.5
Excellent (less than -10) 5 -1.2   Excellent (gain) 4 2.3
Total 19 -26.8   Total 19 -3.6

Something like 30% of the midterms have indeed resulted in a shellacking. The president's party lost over 50 seats in the House about a third of the time. Ouch. But there were also five elections where the loss was under 10 seats in the House, as well as four times the president's party actually won seats in the Senate. Generally, the Senate doesn't correlate as much as the House with the president's popularity or lack thereof because senators are well-enough known that their own personality often dominates.

Abramowitz also looked at how the president's popularity correlated to the magnitude of the loss. For the House, the correlation coefficient is 0.66 while for the Senate it is only 0.36. This agrees with what many pundits have been saying: Holding the House will be tough, but the Senate is a toss-up.

Abramowitz also looked at the correlation between the generic ballot question and the results. He gives a table showing the results of the generic ballot question and the loss. For the current generic ballot results (R+2), his prediction is a loss of 19 House seats but probably no loss in the Senate. But in the Senate, a lot turns on individual races. If the Republicans nominate unelectable candidates in Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and elsewhere, that could have a big effect that overwhelms the historical statistics.

In any event, if the generic ballot remains at R+2 or gets better for the Democrats, Abramowitz foresees a House loss, but not a complete shellacking and the Senate could be close no matter what. (V)

Trump's Power Continues to Wane

Donald Trump hates Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) with a passion because Kemp didn't throw the 2020 Georgia election to him, even though he lost. He has endorsed former senator David Perdue (R) in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Georgia in an attempt to get rid of Kemp without handing the keys to the governor's mansion to Stacey Abrams (D). If Kemp wins the primary, Trump will have to eat crow and support Kemp—although sauteed in butter, crow is delicious.

One problem for Trump is that for him, the Georgia governor's race is about one issue and one issue only: Who won the presidency in 2020? But for evangelicals, who make up about half of Republican primary voters in Georgia, that isn't the only issue, or even the most important one. And they like Kemp for a variety of reasons. For example, he signed a tough abortion bill, he didn't sign on to a statewide mask mandate, and he opposed closing churches during the pandemic. A lot of them feel that Kemp delivered for them, so why kick him out of office? If Kemp wins the primary and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) also wins his, Trump will look bad. If Trump's U.S. Senate candidate, Herschel Walker (R), loses to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in the general election, Georgia will be a national disaster area for Trump, one that cannot be concealed, even with a whole box of Sharpies. Having his handpicked candidates lose three very-high profile races in one state is going to be very hard to explain away by blaming the candidates. (V)

Progressives Don't Have a Candidate for 2024

Progressive Democrats don't love Joe Biden, but they don't have a candidate for 2024 yet. They are largely convinced that Bernie Sanders, who will be 83 on Election Day 2024, won't run again and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who will be 75, probably won't either. Kamala Harris might run, but many progressives are disappointed with her. She basically hasn't done much of anything. So who are they going to support?

Corbin Trent, a former senior aide to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), said: "If it looks like it's going to be a free-for-all, then I think it's going to be back to the 24-person primary." If Biden chooses to retire in 2024, then a 24-person primary or thereabouts is very likely. Harris will certainly be a candidate, but remember, on her own, she bombed in 2020, and her profile now isn't that much higher than in was then. It is virtually certain that if Biden bows out, she will run, but will have a dozen or more competitors and she is probably not even the favorite.

A poll by St. Anselm College early this month shows that neither Biden nor Harris would get all the Democrats behind them. Biden would do better, of course, but if some charismatic progressive candidate came out of the woodwork in 2024, he or she could get 30% of the vote or more. But so far there is no obvious candidate. Some people are talking about Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), but he is anything but a household name. Almost no one expects that any of the members of the "Squad" would get any traction. Sanders' national co-chair, Nina Turner, a strong progressive Black woman, couldn't even win a Democratic primary in her home state. Stacey Abrams would excite a lot of progressives, but if she is elected governor of Georgia in 2022, she won't be available, and if she loses, her track record of losing her own state twice in a row is not a great selling point. So the search for Mr. or Ms. Right goes on. (V)

But They Might Have One in Wisconsin in 2022

In Wisconsin, progressives do have a candidate, at least for the Senate race against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). It is Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D-WI), who is a genuine progressive. Well, except for the fact that he is running as fast as he can against some positions he supported earlier, namely defunding the police and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Whether he can distance himself from positions he formerly held but which are now increasingly unpopular, even among Democrats, is the big question.

Barnes started out as a full-blown lefty, supporting the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and increasing taxes on the rich and corporations. That got him the backing of Elizabeth Warren and a whole host of progressive groups. Of course, if Barnes gets the nomination, Johnson will make the entire race about "socialism, socialism, and more socialism."

But as Biden and many other Democrats see the handwriting on the wall, they are moving rapidly to the center. This gives another candidate in the race, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski (D), a new chance. She has run a savvy campaign and is appealing to all segments of the party, including rural voters. She has some center-left ideas, but none of the firebrand rhetoric that might work in Vermont or Massachusetts, but definitely won't work in Wisconsin. And she was elected to statewide office on her own, as opposed to being part of a gubernatorial duo.

Also in the race is Tom Nelson (D). Not only is he unknown, but so is the county (Outagamie) of which he is county executive. Another candidate is Alex Lasry (D), son of a billionaire and not exactly poor himself, since he is an executive of the Milwaukee Bucks. Wisconsin does have a history of electing rich businessmen, including Johnson and former senator Herb Kohl. Lasry, however, is a recent transplant to Wisconsin and has to deal with the carpetbagger issue.

For the Democrats to get working control of the Senate, they have to hold all of their own seats and pick up two more. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are the most likely pickups, so the Democratic primary is of crucial importance. If the Democrats nominate a lefty who is trying to escape what he was saying only a few months ago, it could be tough against a well-known sitting senator. The primary is in August and many voters aren't paying attention yet, so the Lt. Governor has a chance to establish Barnes 2.0, but how will that play with progressives who prefer Barnes 1.0? (V)

Demographics Meets the Supreme Court

In June, a new batch of high school seniors will get their diplomas. For the first time, kids of color will be in the majority. By the year 2025, the number will rise to 55%. They are going to be heavily affected by the upcoming Supreme Court decision on whether colleges may use affirmative action for admitting students.

In addition, the upcoming Court decisions on abortion, climate change, LGBTQ issues, religious exemptions from federal laws, and a host of other issues is likely to enshrine into law the values of culturally conservative whites that the upcoming generation completely disagrees with. As the next four or five high school classes graduate and become voters, this is going to lead to huge conflicts between what a substantial fraction of the electorate wants and what the Supreme Court has declared is the law of the land. That is going to rock politics for years to come.

The recent confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Court won't change much, although she can be counted on to write some fiery dissents and get a lot of fans among young people. The millennial generation (people born from 1981-1996) was the most culturally and racially diverse generation in history—until Generation Z (people born 1997-2017) came along. Among Gen Z'ers, one-third have no religion and one-fifth identify as LGBTQ. They are not going to be happy with the Supreme Court. All of the millennials are eligible to vote and about half of the Gen Z'ers will be eligible to vote in 2024. They will gradually supplant the boomers and Greatest Generation. In fact, one calculation shows that millennials and Gen Z'ers will be 45% of the electorate in 2024. Gen X (born 1965-1980) will stay constant at one-quarter. Of course, young people have a terrible track record at voting, but it is possible that a series of culturally conservative Supreme Court decisions will move them to get to the polls, with huge political implications if they do.

If the Supreme Court decides to revisit past decisions, including Loving v. Virginia and even Griswold v. Connecticut, that could really stir up the millennials and Gen Z'ers, especially if Jackson writes some very fiery dissents saying that the other justices are inventing new law out of thin air.

In addition, many states are passing laws on voting, LGBTQ issues, participation of transgender students in sports and more that the Supreme Court is likely to approve and with which millennials and Gen Z'ers strongly disagree. All of these things are going to be big problems for the Court going forward as the boomers are gradually replaced by younger voters with very different ideas. Especially if some of those ideas involve packing the Court the next time the Democrats get a working majority in Congress along with the White House. (V)

Trial Date in Defamation Case against Fox News

When Fox News claimed that the voting machines produced by Dominion Voting Systems were rigged, Dominion sued Fox. That was a couple of years ago and the result of the lawsuit is many years in the future because the judge in the case, Eric Davis, has set April 17, 2023, as the trial date. In a way, Dominion is lucky for such an early trial. Fox wanted it to start in 2024. The judge has said the trial should be wrapped up in 5 weeks.

At least a date has been set in this case. In other suits filed by Dominion, including against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Newsmax and One America News Network, no date has been set yet, so 2024 or even 2025 are still possible. No doubt, all of the defendants in all of the cases will try to delay the trials into the far future in the hope that everyone will forget about them and give up. Or maybe the damage sustained by Dominion will be great enough to force it into bankruptcy and end the suits. And after the trials there will be years of appeals and in the event that Dominion wins, there will be years of appeals about the fines. Anyone who had expected a speedy resolution of these cases is sure to be disappointed. (V)

March... Sadness, Part XI (Legislative Branch, Round 4)

Yesterday's matchup was apples and oranges. Today's is apples and apples.

  • #1 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; 76.2%) defeats #4 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX; 23.8%)

    Our Take: Cruz wants power so, so, so badly. McConnell already has it, and that's what matters, according to readers. Oh well, now the Texan can take a tropical vacation. At least, that's what happened the last time he heard he didn't have any power.

    J.H. in Boston, MA: McConnell has had, and has the potential to have in the future, far more influence over political outcomes (e.g., his role in shaping the Court). But at the end of the day, McConnell's shenanigans are all in the service of enhancing Republican partisan outcomes, and he drew the line at ending the democracy. Cruz was willing to go before the SCOTUS to argue to overturn the election, and was one of the architects and implementers of the plan. In the future, McConnell can pull more of the same shenanigans in the Senate, while Cruz could be a key player in a future fascist takeover administration. Cruz gets the nod.

    H.F. in Pittsburgh, PA: At the end of the day, Cruz just showboats. McConnell stacked the Supreme Court with Trump's Three Stooges (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett).

    J.A. in Austin, TX: Today was the very first time I ever had a desire to vote for my senator. And I still voted for the other guy.

    T.T. in Minden, LA: Which player would you want to remove from a hockey opponent's roster? The goon on the fourth line who starts fights and makes himself obnoxious in order to break the other team's concentration? Or the team captain, who sometimes scores dagger-like game winning goals? You have to cut off the head of a snake. True, Cruz is all snake, but his antics are pretty much harmless theater for the already-sold rubes.

  • #10 House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA; 67.3%) defeats #3 Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL; 32.7%)

    Our Take: McCarthy doesn't really have much power, but he probably will a year from now. Gaetz, by contrast, may be an even bigger poseur than Ted Cruz, which is not an easy bar to clear.

    S.M. in Watertown, MN: This is getting really hard. For the last two matchups in this quadrant, it comes down to a question of what is worse. Is it action or inaction? I ultimately voted for Mitch's action and Kevin's inaction.

    D.B. in Keedysville, MD: The smug and smarmy Gaetz will (hopefully) be talking it up in the Big House soon, while McCarthy could conceivably become two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and if the phrase "President McCarthy" doesn't scare you—no, terrify you!—you really haven't been paying attention! Why, it would be almost as bad as... well, never mind, because after all, we must never speak of that again.

    A.L. in Portland, OR: As much as I loathe Matt Gaetz and Ted Cruz, I have to go with two men in power. "Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you!"

    D.F. in Norcross, GA: Were we only talking about personal behavior, Gaetz would run away with this for obvious reasons. But as with McConnell, McCarthy has more actual power and misuses it so horrifically by refusing to stand up to his Coup Caucus (including Gaetz). That makes him the winner (?) here, as far as I'm concerned.

The Legislative Branch bracket now looks like this:

#1 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vs. #10 House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Here are the ballots for the Not-so-Elite Eight:

This round runs until Monday, April 18, at noon. And keep sending in that feedback on the matchups. (Z & V).

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr13 Ghosts of Carters Past
Apr13 Biden Uses the 'G' Word
Apr13 A Pretty Bad Week for New York Democrats, Part I...
Apr13 A Pretty Bad Week for New York Democrats, Part II...
Apr13 It's Also Been a Pretty Bad Week for the DSCC, for that Matter
Apr13 Even Mitt Romney Doesn't Know What the Hell He's Doing, Apparently
Apr13 March... Sadness, Part X (Judges and Governors, Round 4)
Apr12 Biden Is Gunning for the Guns
Apr12 Trump's Grip Is Slipping...
Apr12 ...While DeSantis' Is Getting Firmer
Apr12 Hunter Biden, Meet Jared Kushner...
Apr12 First Poll of the Alaska House Race Is In
Apr12 In Mexican Stunt Election, Nobody Really Won
Apr12 March... Sadness, Part XI (Executive Branch, Round 4)
Apr11 Cheney Says There Is No Battle Inside the Select Committee
Apr11 Republicans Promise to Rein in Biden If They Capture Congress
Apr11 Democrats Try to Appeal to Ukrainian-American Voters
Apr11 Putin May Interfere in 2024 Elections
Apr11 Is a Coup against Putin Possible?
Apr11 Trump Endorses the Quacker of Oz
Apr11 Judge Likely to Allow Challenge to Greene to Proceed
Apr11 Meet the New Murdoch, Same as the Old Murdoch
Apr11 The Culture Wars Have Gone Global
Apr11 In France, It Will Be Macron vs. Le Pen again
Apr10 Sunday Mailbag
Apr09 Saturday Q&A
Apr08 Jackson Is Confirmed
Apr08 Even More Contemptible
Apr08 Friends of Russia Announce Themselves
Apr08 No Better Man than Fetterman?
Apr08 Capitol Fox Was Indeed Rabid
Apr08 This Week in Schadenfreude
Apr08 March... Sadness, Part X (Others, Round 3)
Apr07 Biden Unveils More Sanctions on Russia
Apr07 Contemptible
Apr07 Temporary Setback for Arizona Republicans
Apr07 Texas Rejected Almost 25,000 Absentee Ballots
Apr07 Noem Bans Teaching CRT in South Dakota
Apr07 Blue Dogs Fight Back
Apr07 Poll: Clarence Thomas Should Recuse Himself from 2020 Election Cases
Apr07 Ohio House Republican Is Retiring
Apr07 Fox Attacks Democratic Congressman
Apr07 March... Sadness, Part IX (Legislative Branch, Round 3)
Apr06 Ivanka Speaks
Apr06 White House Playing Its Aces in the Hole?
Apr06 Oklahoma Passes Extremely Harsh Abortion Bill
Apr06 Another Republican Politician Is Caught Committing (Potential) Voter Fraud
Apr06 Trump Claims Another Victim
Apr06 California Special Election Headed to a Runoff
Apr06 March... Sadness, Part VIII (Judges and Governors, Round 3)