Stop and think,  collected — 2021

Note. Because of changes in the archive pages, over time, you may find that some of the links you hit to other "Stop and think" installments actually lead nowhere. If you encounter frustration with a particular link, please feel free to hold my feet to the fire. — Ronald Neff

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Reader responses

Ronn Neff: Boss-lady. Kamala Harris is talking to foreign heads of state (e.g., the president of France). The Pretender's position is apparently becoming ceremonial only. It's like what we see in several professional organizations in which the vice president is really the boss-man, holding a permanent salaried position, while the president is the front man and is replaced every year or so. (February 2021)

Ronn Neff: Anti-civilizational conservatives. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health, is a man posing as a woman. (And, may I say, ugly enough to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.) Why do conservative radio talk-show hosts (e.g., Mark Steyn) refer to him as "she"? Why do they let Red Guards dictate to them how to use English pronouns? (February 2021)

Ronn Neff: Occupation. WTTG radio (Washington, D.C.), has obtained an e-mail transmission from the National Security Council "asking the Department of Defense to engage Capitol Police on planning for post-March 12th support."

Stars and Stripes reports, "There are now about 6,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen supporting the security mission in Washington," with 5,000 authorized beyond March 12.

That's more troops than the United States has in Iraq. And Afghanistan.

Combined. (February 2021)

Ronn Neff: Not a sandwich. Hospital workers, postal workers, and grocery clerks are all "heroes" now. If the word "hero" still had any real meaning, you wouldn't be hearing it so much. (February 2021)

Ronn Neff: "Just so you know": Seven Republicans voted to convict Trump in the recent impeachment trial. The dates they will be up for reelection are as follows:

• Mitt Romney (Utah) — 2024
• Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) — 2026
• Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) — planning to retire
• Richard Burr (North Carolina) — planning to retire
• Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — 2022
• Susan Collins (Maine) — 2026
• Ben Sasse (Nebraska) — 2026
Republican functionaries are fuming "mit cursers und swearing der revengers," but the only test case they will have soon will be Lisa Murkowski. The others who are not planning to retire can sit back and see whether she is "primaried," elected, or defeated. My guess is that they will breathe easy.

In the House, all ten of the Republicans who voted for impeachment will be up for reelection in 2022. The dates indicate when they came into Congress:

• Tom Rice (South Carolina, 2012) — petition to resign in circulation
• Liz Cheney (Wyoming, 2016) — facing a primary challenge
• Peter Meijer (Michigan, 2020) — facing a primary challenge
• Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio, 2018) — facing a primary challenge
• Dan Newhouse (Washington, 2014) — facing a primary challenge
• Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington, 2010) — petition to replace in circulation
• Adam Kinzinger (Illinois, 2012) — facing primary challenge
• Fred Upton (Michigan, 1986) — unanimously censured by the local GOP
• David Valadao (California, 2020 [previously elected in 2012, 2014, and 2016]) — facing a primary challenge
• John Katko (New York, 2014) — in a district that usually votes Democratic
We shall see whether the GOP establishment is either willing or able to protect these incumbents. And, of course, in states that have open primaries, we can be sure that Democrats will vote to protect them.

The results should tell us something about the relative strength of the GOP's conservative faction. (February 2021)

David T. Wright: How they stole the election. Time Magazine (yes, it actually still exists!) reveals how the Left and its allies among Conservatism, Inc., and Big Business conspired to make sure that Trump lost the election: "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election," by Molly Ball, February 4, 2021

This article brings the conspiracy (Time's words, not mine) into the open:

There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs.

Ball details a secret campaign to "save democracy." That's right. To "save democracy," they had to do things in secret.

Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws, and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers, and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time.

Only a few years ago, it was generally recognized, even by Democrats, that voting by mail is an invitation to fraud. Not anymore. Now it's how you save an election.

To save democracy you have to prevent people from spreading unapproved facts and dissenting opinions:

They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears. They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump's conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction.

But it's not enough to keep dissenters from talking. You have to track them down and destroy them, too:

Laura Quinn, a veteran progressive operative who co-founded Catalist, began studying this problem a few years ago. She piloted a nameless, secret project, which she has never before publicly discussed, that tracked disinformation online and tried to figure out how to combat it. One component was tracking dangerous lies that might otherwise spread unnoticed. Researchers then provided information to campaigners or the media to track down the sources and expose them.

And democracy couldn't survive if Trump were allowed to used the constitutional process to contest the results:

After Election Day, they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result.

You have to understand that all this underhanded, secret plotting was to save open, free, and fair elections, and prevent the chaos that threatened:

The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.

In other words, a Trump victory.

Apparently, the threat of continued Antifa and BLM violence pressured some factions to take part:

The summer uprising had shown that people power could have a massive impact. Activists began preparing to reprise the demonstrations if Trump tried to steal the election. "Americans plan widespread protests if Trump interferes with election," Reuters reported in October, one of many such stories. More than 150 liberal groups, from the Women's March to the Sierra Club to Color of Change, from Democrats.com to the Democratic Socialists of America, joined the "Protect the Results" coalition. The group's now defunct website had a map listing 400 planned post-election demonstrations, to be activated via text message as soon as Nov. 4. To stop the coup they feared, the left was ready to flood the streets.

If that had happened, of course, it wouldn't be an "insurrection," which is bad. It would be an "uprising," which is good. In any case, according to the article, the possibility encouraged big corporations and their Washington City mouthpiece, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to throw their weight behind the coup:

But behind the scenes, the business community was engaged in its own anxious discussions about how the election and its aftermath might unfold. The summer's racial-justice protests had sent a signal to business owners too: the potential for economy-disrupting civil disorder.

What I find so fascinating is the fact that the Left, the Dark Suits, and their allies, are now apparently so confident of their power over us that they believe they can afford to have their plot exposed and publicized. Imagine the arrogance, the sense of entitlement embodied in these words:

This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group's inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. "Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated," says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. "But it's massively important for the country to understand that it didn't happen accidentally. The system didn't work magically. Democracy is not self-executing."

That's why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream — a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system's fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures.

To the people ruling us, democracy means doing everything their way. The "proper outcome" of the election was a Biden victory. Anything else could not be allowed. And now they apparently believe that they are finally in full control, having openly begun the process of shutting down all means of expressing dissent. They are so confident that they are taking off their masks to reveal their true faces: power-mad, bigoted, and utterly pitiless.

The message they are sending is this: Now we are in control. We mean to stay in control. What you want doesn't matter. And if you resist, we will crush you. Ω

David T. Wright: No decent person could endure such viciousness. You may have heard about the incredibly woke woman who reacted with horror when her Trump-loving neighbor plowed her driveway. She's apparently fit to be tied, unable to know how to react. Sure, she should show some gratitude. But that would mean being nice to Trump people! How can she stoop to that?

That woman is what psychologists call "ideologically possessed." She can only see the world through her ideological lens: "Trump is evil. They're Trump supporters. Therefore they are evil, no matter how decently they behave." Their act of neighborliness only causes cognitive dissonance.

The hell of it is, she believes that because she thinks this way, she is enlightened, and morally superior to anyone unlike her. So she works hard to fight off any decent feelings of gratitude or kindness, because to be friendly would mean acknowledging that her neighbors are not completely despicable, and that her way of viewing the world — which defines her entire identity — is seriously screwed up.

"This is also kind of weird," she moans. "Back in the city, people don't sweep other people's walkways for nothing."

Yeah, treating people with decency is pretty weird, all right. If you're a selfish, bigoted, conceited egomaniac.

The poor thing escaped the plague-ridden city only to move unsuspecting into a nightmare world. It's a place where people don't think the way she does, and behave in ways that she finds incomprehensible. Down is up, black is white. Evil is nice, and does nice things for no reason.

There's no telling what further horrors await her. Perhaps it's like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers": her neighbors all belong to some kind of weird kindness cult or something, and are just waiting for the right moment to kidnap her and gently but firmly escort her to a secret location, decorated with soothing colors, with soft music, nice, comfortable furniture, and wonderful food: there to convert her into a nice, wholesome zombie like themselves. Relax, they'll say. We know you're not as nasty as you pretend.

The horror. The horror. (February 2021)

David T. Wright: Dare we hope? Tucker Carlson has apparently kicked over the traces and is out of control. His rhetoric has become increasingly contemptuous of the Establishment and dismissive of contemporary pieties. He's actually worth watching now.

Robert Barnes, a maverick civil-rights lawyer who successfully represented the Covington High School kids victimized by Minitrue as well as Alex Jones and other modern-day pariahs, says that Carlson told him he just doesn't care about his career anymore. Carlson allegedly thinks he has enough money for him and his family to live well for the rest of their lives, and he'd just as soon go fishing as put up with corporate BS. So he decided he'd just say what he wants until he gets fired.

(By the way, Barnes has an interesting weekly dialogue with a right-wing Jewish Canadian lawyer on YouTube that's actually worth checking out.)

Carlson regularly says on the air that the elites hate ordinary Americans and that they are actively working to make us their slaves. His fiery monologues have resulted in spectacularly successful ratings.

But Carlson isn't what prompted me to write this. On Takimag, somebody who calls himself "The Z Man" says that Middle America no longer believes in the system. Until recently, most middle-class whites thought that reforming the system, electing the right people, and so forth, was the way to participate in governance. Now they are awakening to the fact that the system is rigged against them:

The death of civic nationalism is no small thing. The managerial elite has depended upon it for generations. The managerial class relies upon middle-class whites following the rules and believing in those rules. Just as the slave owner relies on the slaves accepting their condition, the managerial class depends on the white middle class to support and defend the liberal democratic order.

While it has been a wild few months, it promises to get crazier. No one really knows what will happen when the white middle class collectively decides the system is hopelessly broken. The Tea Party Movement is a good example of how quickly these people can organize when motivated. Now that Conservative Inc. is on the enemy's list, they cannot be counted on to subvert the next populist movement.

We can only hope. (February 2021)

Ronn Neff: Sovietizing America: Those who have been following the GameStop story may have noticed that the U.S. press has decided to borrow a strategy from the Soviet Union's method of dealing with setbacks: Demonize the speculators. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Replace the cops: Folks at the U.S. Capitol want to make it harder for their constituents to talk to them. (Lobbyists, of course, will always be welcome.) They are talking about building a permanent fence around the building, to be supported by "the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol."

I think it is a mistake to use the Capitol Police or other law-enforcement personnel for this task. It would be a much better idea to hire instead social workers and diversity trainers. And maybe a hypnotist or two.

In fact, now that I think of it, when was the last time Congress (not the employees, but the elected and semi-elected officials) had to attend diversity training sessions? (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Doubleplusinevitable. As soon as pro-freedom people allowed themselves to be called "the Right," they were doomed. It meant that they were on the side of Hitler.

Leftists, therefore, by the terms their opponents had accepted, were free to see those opponents as fascists. Especially since those opponents opposed the Soviet Union, the enemy of Nazi Germany. If you think in binary terms, to oppose the Soviet Union makes you a fascist. (One must also keep in mind the fixation leftists had on the U.S. employment of Germans and former Nazis in science and intelligence.)

As if that weren't bad enough, there was the outcome of the 1964 election, in which the only section of the country that was pro-freedom was also the "racist" South. So conservatives and pro-freedom folk were doubly on the side of Hitler.

And finally, there was the ceding of the word "extremists." Not just right-wing extremists, but anti-abortion extremists. (That was a fait accompli by the time Al Gore was running for president.)

SO: anti-Soviet; racist; extremist. Of course they were fascists!

Given the way the war against the Nazis was prosecuted (along with the aftermath of "denazification") it was really just a matter of time before the Left (including liberals) considered all opposition to be fascistic (and themselves to be non-fascists, of course). In fact, I will go further: it was the logically necessary outcome. The Law of Contradiction in action.

(When I was on a debate team, our coach advised us, "Never accept the other team's definitions.") (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Libertarianism 101: Of course Facebook and Twitter can block posts or cancel membership. It's their property, isn't it? Of course restaurateurs and others can refuse service to Trump supporters. It's their property, isn't it?

Isn't it just wonderful how leftists who used to insist on the virtue of anti-discrimination laws have suddenly discovered property rights? Surely we should all be celebrating this great advance toward liberty. (January 2021)

Related reading: "When the Left Refuses Service, They're Preventing Violence. When the Right Denies Service, They're Bigots," by Kylee Zempel, The Federalist, January 18, 2021.

Nicholas Strakon: Dr. Schumer's treatment plan. The Daily Caller reports: "Schumer Says Impeachment Trial Is Necessary To Bring Healing" (January 26, 2021).

The Democrats certainly have a liberal understanding of "healing," don't they? Another important part of their humane therapy seems to be the (further) crushing of dissent in the name of unity. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Conservatives want to know. Conservatives are all wondering what they should do now. Should they try to reform the GOP? Should they form a new party? Maybe they should infiltrate the Democratic Party and see what they can do there?

So far I haven't heard anyone ask: How about a tax revolt? (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Thou sayest: "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about." — Hillary Clinton, October 9, 2018. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Your representatives? When people (whom the media assure us again and again were Trump supporters) entered the Capitol to make their views known to their congressmen and senators, it is worth noting that NOT ONE of those representatives of the people, NOT ONE of those tribunes for liberty and democracy came out to say to them, "What's on your mind?"

Maybe they just didn't want to know. (January 2021)

Ayn Rand said: "A territory inhabited by men engaged in perpetual conflict, chronic fighting, physical violence, and general hatred of all for all is not a nation nor a country but a bloody mess."

"A nation's unity," Ford Hall Forum, 1972 (beginning at 3:34). (January 2021)

Nicholas Strakon: Unity, Democrat style, will begin when all dissent is crushed. (January 2021)

Nicholas Strakon: Conservative Angelo Codevilla has written another ponderable essay, appearing at American Greatness (January 19, 2021): "Clarity in Trump's Wake."

Editor's intro: "The United States of America is now a classic oligarchy. The clarity that it has brought to our situation by recognizing this fact is its only virtue."

Codevilla writes:

Enjoyment of power's material perquisites is classic oligarchy's defining purpose. Having conquered power over the people, successful oligarchies foster environments in which they can live in peace, productively. Oligarchy, like all regimes, cannot survive if it works at cross-purposes. But the oligarchy that seized power in America between 2016 and 2020 is engaged in a never-ending seizure of ever more power and the infliction of ever more punishment — in a war against the people without imaginable end. Clearly, that is contrary to what the Wall Street magnates or the corps of bureaucrats or the university administrators or senior professors want. But that is what the people want who wield the "intersectional" passions that put the oligarchy in power.
If there is reason for hope, perhaps it does lie in an inherent fragility in the latest ruling coalition, as Codevilla suggests. It isn't encouraging that the liberal-fascist elite seems to have universally adopted the "woke" anti-culture of Hollywood, the dorms, and the mean streets, but we may wonder what will happen if that madness should conflict with its material interests. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Progress report. In the 2020 election for president, the Libertarian Party retained its hold on genuine third-party status. It is the third party in America, at least for now. Jo Jorgensen was the only non-major party candidate to be on the ballot in all 50 states. She received more votes than all the other "third parties" put together and more than four times the votes the fourth-place party (Green) won.

And still no electoral votes.

In all, the LP spent almost $3 million to get just under 2 million votes. Jo herself spent less than $1,000 of her own money.

Money, time, effort all well spent, wouldn't you say? (January 2021)

David T. Wright: Further random observations.

1. Pop music is getting stupider all the time, both in its lyrics and in its actual musical settings. That's bad enough for the people who are forced to listen to it in public places such as supermarkets and shopping malls. But have you noticed it is getting louder, too? They've definitely turned up the volume in my local pharmacy, Home Depot, Safeway, and other retail venues I am more or less compelled to patronize. It seems to be part of an effort to infantilize the proles. And it's working.

It seems that nowhere public can be quiet anymore. Instead, we must be continually assaulted by boring, infantile, and enervating noises wherever we go. Even the local Barnes & Noble bookstore plays pop music at a volume that makes quiet contemplation impossible, forcing anyone with a minimum of awareness to grab what one came for and get out as soon as possible.

The worst thing is that most people seem to have become used to continuing cacophony. I am repeatedly amazed by how oblivious most around me seem to be. Libraries used to be whisper-quiet places where one could peacefully browse, read, or study. Today in the Imperial capital area, they are chaotic and noisy, with small children unrestrained and adolescents chattering away as if at a Dairy Queen. And everyone, including the librarians, seems unaffected. Does no one else care at all? At least libraries don't play pop music over speakers. Yet.

2. On the subject of creeping infantilism, a drive around Trantor's prosperous, white Northwest neighborhoods reveals a liberal sprinkling of Black Lives Matters signs, smugly proclaiming the correct attitudes of the inhabitants. Interestingly, the more white and upper-class the neighborhood, the more numerous the signs. On the other hand, in black neighborhoods, BLM signs are not generally seen in front of houses. Far more often, they're in local shop windows. Even in the Gold Coast neighborhood, the traditional home of the wealthy black elite in Washington City, BLM signs are rare in front of the elegant mansions.

3. The response to the so-called insurrection at the Capitol has been instructive. The horror and outrage from the anointed (some of it feigned or exaggerated, to be sure), and their sanguine attitude to the much worse Antifa/BLM riots, has been much remarked upon by right-wingers. Surely that reaction springs from the fear and contempt the elites harbor toward Middle America. As long as we common folk have our towns and cities wracked by riots, our businesses looted and burned down, our lives ruined, and our peace and quiet destroyed, they don't care. But if we dare to trespass on their territory, it's Armageddon.

That's not to say that I think the incursion was a good move. It's just what the State and the new Metastate — the tech oligarchs — have been waiting for: an excuse to discredit and crack down harder on dissent. Which is why I find it interesting that Robert Barnes, the civil rights attorney, believes QAnon is a psy-op by the Deep State. QAnon is the conspiracy web commenter that suckered Sidney Powell and Lin Wood into their ridiculous challenges on behalf of Trump against voting-machine totals (the vote fraud was obviously carried out with absentee ballots). It was QAnon acolytes who led the Capitol invasion, and the woman shot by the police was a follower.

4. All this got me to thinking. The Negro civil rights movement was another populist movement. It arose, as all populist movements do, because part of the population was facing huge problems, and nothing was being done to address them. Martin Luther King, Jr., for all his faults, was sharp enough to understand that non-violent protests would have a huge effect on public perceptions. And they did. People were horrified to see dogs set and fire hoses turned on peaceful, respectably dressed demonstrators singing hymns. I think such sights took a lot of the fight out of white Southerners, who at heart were decent, God-fearing people, even if they didn't like blacks or the Federal government telling them what to do.

Would such an approach work today? Or is today's America so brutalized, so coarse, so uncaring that most people would cheer on the cops as they beat up the demonstrators? I think that's possible. The ramifications for Middle American dissidents are obvious.

5. The tech oligarchs wasted no time in taking the opportunity to ban Donald Trump from his personal Twitter account, which is what he's been using to communicate. But it soon transpired that Trump's own staff had also excluded him from his official Office of the President account. Trump is now virtually alone: stabbed in the back by the Republicans in Congress, some of whom voted to impeach him; by Mike Pence, who refused to help him fight the vote fraud; by his own judicial appointments, who went out of their way to crush his legal challenges; and finally by his own staff. Et tu, Brute? Thus always to those who challenge our rulers, however ineffectively.

6. The Ministry of Truth has been authorized to report that the hideous outgoing Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has scheduled the second Trump impeachment trial, if it can truthfully be called that, after the coronation of the new Emperor. Trump's ritual defenestration and banishment will thus be the trial of a political corpse, a modern replay of one of the most ridiculous moments in the history of the West: the Cadaver Synod.

7. The tech moguls' crackdown raised their arrogance and power to new heights. Not only was Trump banned from Twitter; soon after, Reddit banned him for "inciting violence." In no time he was banned from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Shopify, Twitch, Snapchat, and TikTok. Groups and individuals who supported Trump were also banned.

Then they took it up a notch. To keep Trump from founding a new forum on Parler, a Twitter rival that claims to support actual free speech, the Apple Store and Google's Android expunged the Parler app from their sites — just when millions of customers were downloading it. Their excuse was violent postings: the same sort of violent postings, including death threats, that are made by left-wing patrons of Twitter without repercussions. Then Amazon, which runs the largest web-server service in the world by far, announced it was kicking Parler off the internet entirely, in contravention of its contract, which allows for a 30-day warning period. That was followed by Parler's law firm, its bank, and a number of other support firms with which it had contracted withdrawing their services. At the very time Parler's customer base was skyrocketing, the entire infrastructure of services on which it depended ganged up to destroy it.

The lesson, of course, is that no dissent will be tolerated any longer. Dan Bongino, who helped found Parler, says Internet Service Providers that provide web gateways to unapproved groups will be attacked next. He may be right. Perhaps it's time to buy a ham radio.

8. Some commenters now argue that the tech cartel is now more powerful than the formal State. I don't know whether that's true or not. Certainly, its economic and political power is now unprecedented in the history of the United State. The destruction of Parler, in part by Amazon, which recently signed a big business deal with Twitter, is a case of combination in restraint of trade if there ever was one. But will the Sherman Antitrust Act be used to any effect against the perpetrators?

More important, it makes me wonder whether, in the future, Amazon, already bigger economically than many nation states, will have its own armed forces, its own police, alongside those of Google and the other giants. Or perhaps they'll get together to build their own army, navy, and police. Will they become the new State? Will traditional states have the means or the will to prevent them?

Douglas Olson comments: Even if and when they take the House and/or the Senate, Republicans won't have the intestinal fortitude to as much as whisper this to themselves when they're sitting alone on a toilet in the privacy of their own homes.

GOP = GUTLESS Old Party!

Modine Herbey comments: We may have to return to communicating by the government snail. Will the USPS hire a horde of busybodies to check for mail to and from dissidents, intercepting and opening it as necessary?

Oh, pardon me. I'm old. Of course they'd use some ultra-sophisticated computer — that renowned tool of liberty. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: Impeach Franklin Roosevelt! (January 2021)

Nicholas Strakon: Does anyone else have the impression that even before Kerensky has been sworn in, Lenin is already taking over? (January 2021)

It's not too early to re-read 1984 this year! (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: I think Trump's last official act — executed minutes before Biden takes the oath of office — should be to issue a pardon to Biden and to Harris for any guilty knowledge they may have regarding the fraudulent election of 2020. (January 2021)

Ronn Neff: The Constitution is circumvented. Specifically, the Twenty-Second Amendment. Apparently Joe Biden will be able (well, legally able) to hold three or more terms. The text speaks of limiting the term of a person who has been elected to the office. And the only limitation on holding the office is that he cannot be elected to it. Biden just won't need to worry about that. (January 2021)

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