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March

Sub-archives

Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 26, 2024 12:56 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included reasons for not remarrying, shaming an unemployed brother, Northeastern University, and a selfish husband skiing with his family.

The most active thread yesterday was was a thread that I previously discussed that was about former President Donald Trump's inability to post bond that is necessary for him to appeal a fraud ruling against him. Yesterday the bond amount was reduced and Trump was given an additional 10 days to pay. So this thread will probably be back on top shortly. The most active thread after that one was titled, "Can someone explain to me why so many on here would never remarry?" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that she has read many posts from those who are divorced or thinking about divorce who say that they have no expectations of getting remarried and nor should anyone else. The original poster asks for the reason(s) behind those expectations and offers several proposals herself. Her own suggestions include the first marriage being so bad that it tarnished the entire concept, marriage being primarily about kids, not wanting to care for an older person, and skepticism that they would find a desirable partner or would be desirable themselves. Several posters respond saying that it is all of the above. As you would expect from a female-dominated forum, most of the responses come from women and, therefore, represent a largely women's point of view. Several posters say that in their previous marriages they were required to take care of everyone but themselves. Now they have the freedom to put themselves first and don't want to give that up. Several of those responding say that their financial independence is a factor in not creating an interest in remarriage. A number of responses amplify factors that the original poster suggested. For instance, one poster reported leaving an abusive relationship which was so bad that she no longer has an interest in marriage. A number of posters said that they have children from their earlier marriages with whom they have great relationships and have no interest in another family. The don't want to be responsible for someone else's children and either can't have or don't want more of their own. A common complaint was a lack of eligible and desirable men. Over and over posters questioned what the available men "brought to the table" and suggested that it wasn't much. To the contrary, the available men were generally seen as "entitled, demanding, and whiny". Males posters who weighed in were generally also not interested in remarrying. One expressed love for the "adult Disneyland that exists" due to online dating. He described a nearly endless supply of younger women that he could casually date and feared the financial implications of marriage. This caused the thread to get diverted into a dispute about prenuptial agreements and other ways that men could protect their wealth. Generally, the attitudes of the men justified the skepticism with which the women viewed them.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 25, 2024 10:49 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included the Princess of Wales' announcement that she has cancer, a wife that is not a good stay-at-home-mom, parental help when buying a home, and flying in a different class than your kids.

The most active thread of the weekend will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with DCUM posters' obsessiveness regarding the British Royal Family. Titled, "Palace making an announcement at 2pm" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum, the thread was created in anticipation of an announcement regarding the health of Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales. As readers of this blog will remember, multiple Royal Family-related threads have been among the most active lately. One dealing with a Mother's Day photo released by the Prince and Princess of Wales turned into a litany of conspiracy theories about the health and well-being of the Princess. Some readers were certain that she was in a coma, others said she and Prince William were preparing for a divorce, and a few suggested that she had been stabbed or otherwise harmed through an act of domestic violence. According to other posters, none of those were true, but rather she was suffering from complications of an eating disorder. The announcement turned out to be a video by Kate revealing that she has been diagnosed with cancer. The reaction by many DCUM posters was shock, grief, and sympathy. But, other posters immediately smelled a rat. They demanded to know the type of cancer and immediately began piecing together timelines that they said were inconsistent with Kate's message. The fact is that the crazy, obsessive, conspiracy-mongers have been wrong about nearly everything. But they got lucky with the Photoshopped photo and, rather than considering that the exception that proves the rule, they thought that it proved them right about everything. Therefore, rather than accepting that Kate's announcement revealed the that most of their outlandish claims were baseless, they simply doubled-down in search of revelations that would again show the Palace's duplicity. On the other hand, Kate-defenders who had been forced to stomach a faked photo and one of the most bungled public relations jobs in history, suddenly saw their opportunity to hit back at the conspiracy theorists. They demanded apologies, retractions, and everything short of abject groveling. In the midst of this, other posters opined on the type of cancer from which Kate might be suffering and described their own experiences with cancer. In the absence of further details coming from official channels, posters found themselves with little of substance to discuss. As a result the thread turned to back and forth sniping and arguing. I had no interest in spending my weekend babysitting the thread and, therefore, locked it — less than 7 hours after it had been started. Even with that short lifetime, the thread was still the most active of the weekend. Take note those users who insist that I moderate with an interest in generating traffic. I spent much of the rest of the past two days playing whack-a-mole removing new threads that were created about Kate's diagnosis.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 22, 2024 11:52 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the murder of a Westfield High School student, a confrontation at school, surviving the COVID pandemic, and how trust fund beneficiaries view others.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Westfield HS-Student murdered" and posted in the "Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)" forum. The original poster provided a link to a Washington Post article about a shooting in Fairfax County in which a teenager was killed. The original poster says that individual was a student at Westfield High School. The original poster also says that her daughter who attends Westfield has told her that the school is "full of police". Because the shooter has not been caught and the original poster fears he may be in the school, she is concerned for her daughter's safety and asks if others would pick up their kids from school in such circumstances. Whenever an incident of this type is discussed, there are always posters who seem to be primarily concerned with protecting the reputation of the school and distancing it from the events as much as possible. B the fifth response in this thread a poster was already complaining that the title of the thread was inaccurate because the student was not killed at the school. The poster also reported the thread to me with the same complaint. I was confused because I did not understand the title to say that the student was killed at the school. But, I later figured out that the poster was interpreting the hyphen between "HS" and "Student" to be more like a colon and signifying that the event occurred at the school. At any rate, the discussion about the title continued throughout the thread. There was a second objection that the thread didn't even belong in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) forum but rather in the metro politics forum because it didn't involve the school. A poster went on to write, "the posters who start these threads usually want to encourage trash talk about the schools". Multiple posters claimed that I was keeping the "click bait" title in order to generate traffic and ad revenue. To be clear, I didn't change the title because I correctly understand the purpose of a hyphen. Overlooked by almost everyone was the fact that the original poster's main concern was whether she should pick up her daughter from school early due to safety concerns. There is no indication that she is interested in bashing the school that her daughter attends. It later turned out that the suspected shooter had indeed attended Westfield in the past but was not currently enrolled in any FCPS school. Therefore he was unlikely to be at the school and the original poster's daughter did not face at threat related to him. But then a discussion broke out about whether the suspect and the victim should have attended another high school instead of Westfield with many posts devoted to school boundaries. The primary message that many want you to get from this thread is that regardless of anything suggested by thread's title, this incident had nothing to do with Westfield and any attempt to argue otherwise is either a right-wing attack aimed at making the school look bad or an effort to generate ad revenue.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 20, 2024 03:15 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included violence among kindergarteners, Trump's inability to secure a bond, boys private school lacrosse, and a likely troll there about a reaction to a pregnancy announcement.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Violence in Kindergarten- Sligo Creek Elementary" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. The original poster describes an unbelievable amount of violence occurring among kindergartners that has left children "knocked out cold", caused one teacher to leave, and sent a second teacher to the hospital. The original poster is frustrated because it does not appear to her that the school's principal is doing anything about it. When I say the violence is "unbelievable", I am not exaggerating as many posters don't believe it. Those who do believe it have a range of suggestions including contacting the media, switching to another school, or even contacting the police. Few think that the police can or should do anything about a 5 or 6 year old, but many see value in a police report that might motivate parents. Many posters complain about the lack of options available to the school, saying that it is nearly impossible to have a violent student removed from the classroom and the support required for the student is not easily obtained. While the original poster places blame with the principal, other posters say the problem lies further up the chain of command with the central office. The principal's hands are tied, they say, and the process for dealing with students with extreme needs takes too long and unnecessarily exposes the other students to trauma. While most posters were eager to publicize the violent incidents in hopes that might encourage a solution, many other posters seemed to be more interested in protecting the school's reputation or protecting the children responsible for the violence. Almost immediately after the thread was started it was reported to me with a request to delete the thread. I continued to receive reports throughout the day yesterday. Posts within the thread also suggest that it should be deleted and a number of posters accused the original poster of trolling and not being truthful. No students were named or even described in any detail whatsoever. Nobody who is not associated with the school would have any clue about the identity of the students involved. Anyone close enough to the situation to connect the dots likely already knows full well what is going on. So I don't have concerns about the chance of children being identified. I do have an interest, however, in posts being accurate. The original poster's claims seemed outlandish, but appear to be independently supported by multiple posters. I put quite a bit of effort into ensuring that the confirming reports were not sock puppeted and concluded that this would either have to be the best and most extensive trolling I've ever witnessed or the original post is largely accurate. Nevertheless, a number of posters throughout the thread make a tremendous efforts to deny or downplay whatever occurred.

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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 19, 2024 02:56 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included a disagreement over a child's bedroom, new fee structure for realtors, professors not checking in on students, and former MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight's settlement agreement.

The most active thread over the weekend was the Kate photo thread that had nearly 4 times the number of posts as the next most active thread. That thread, wouldn't you know it, was the thread about Meghan Markle's new lifestyle brand. So, apparently, DCUM has turned into a tabloid. The next most active thread, and the first one that I have not already discussed and, therefore, will discuss today, was actually a parenting topic. Titled, "DD wants the big bedroom, but I don’t want to give it to her & DH not backing me up", the thread was posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum. The original poster describes a disagreement involving her nine year old daughter, herself, and her husband. The family is moving into a new house that has three children's bedrooms. Two are identical to each other while the third is larger and has built-in furniture that gives it a "girly" appearance. More importantly to the original poster, it has a door to the outside. The original poster would like her daughter to take one of the identical rooms and her 4 year old son to take the other. However, her daughter wants the larger room. The original poster is concerned about the door and she would rather remove the built-in furniture and convert the room to either a guest room or play room. The original poster's husband has agreed that their daughter should not get the larger room at this time, but has told her that she may be able to move into it in the future. This is frustrating for the original poster because this presents an obstacle to removing the built-in furniture which she also thinks is her daughter's main attraction to the room. Moreover, the original poster's husband thinks that she is being paranoid about the door. She wants to know what DCUM thinks about this situation. This seems fairly simple to resolve to me. Put the kids in the small rooms, convert the larger room, and assume that their daughter will forget all about moving soon enough. If not, deal with that in the future. But, few of those responding seemed to see things in these terms. To the contrary, quite a few of the posters would consider this abusive. One poster is convinced that having raised the daughter's hopes about the larger room, it would be mean to disappoint her now. She insists that the daughter should be allowed to have the larger room immediately. Other posters reject the notion of fairness and don't see a problem with one child having a larger room than the other. In contrast, fairness is very important to other posters. A few posters side with the original poster and criticize her husband for not supporting her. In addition, some posters are concerned about the outside door and consider that a safety issue. The notable thing about this thread, and what contributes to its length, is the strength of the feelings of various posters. To some, this is not a topic on which reasonable people can disagree, but rather one about which a few posters seem to think that their answer is the only valid one. As one poster sums things up, "Clear that the inmates are running the asylum in most of y’all’s homes."

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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 16, 2024 06:36 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a warning to college applicants, a new view of Harry and Meghan, a student arrested with a gun at a MCPS high school, and fear of flying on Boeing aircraft.

The Kate photo thread once again led as the most active thread, racking up more than 10 times the number of posts as the next most active thread (nearly 11 times in fact). The next most active thread was titled, "a final warning to high school students in the college admissions game", and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to a YouTube video by a current student at Princeton University who expresses strong disappointment with Princeton and warns high school students who are currently in the process of choosing colleges to avoid the university. He warns about a number of other top colleges as well. His main complaint is that rather than being a supportive environment, Princeton — at least according to him — is very cutthroat and, he believes, damaging to students' mental health. He advises applicants to ignore college rankings. He argues that instead, students should investigate the atmosphere of schools to ensure they choose a school with a supportive environment. Due to the video's name starting, like the title of this thread, with "a final warning" and the very depressed attitude of the narrator, I was a little concerned that this was a suicide message. But, hopefully that is not the case. Despite the serious nature of the video, I almost broke out laughing as I read the replies. Multiple posters blamed the student's distress on test optional admissions policies. Their theory being that he is an undeserving student who probably would have been filtered out by a low test score and is now discovering that he doesn't have the chops for Princeton. I don't know whether this demonstrates the posters' determination to protect Princeton from criticism or their one-track fixation on test optional policies. A number of posters wonder why the student simply hasn't transferred. Others just brush off his complaints with one poster even describing him and others like him as a "tik tok like ‘geniuses’" from whom she would never take advice. For the record, this video was on YouTube and the other social network is "TikTok". Other's suggest that while the student may be accurately portraying his own personal experience, he is wrong to extrapolate that experience broadly across Princeton, let alone other top universities. Some posters come to the students defense, though many of them tend toward offering explanations for his struggles rather than accepting that his description of student life at Princeton is valid. A few posters, however, do find the student's complaints to be believable. They point to a rash of suicides at Princeton and its relatively low freshmen retention rate as evidence that the environment might be overly stressful. The bottom line is that those posters who want their children to pursue top universities such as Princeton appear unlikely to heed this warning. Some others who either have ruled out the school or don't consider it to be a realistic option in the first place, find some solace in believing their children are better off elsewhere.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 14, 2024 05:28 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included whether or not to tell a friend about her husband's affair, universities that are better than the "lower Ivys", little things that can improve a vacation, and Bethany Mandel's campaign for the MCPS school board.

Yesterday's most active thread was obviously the thread about the Princess of Wales's photo, receiving nearly 1,400 new posts. I covered that thread yesterday and, therefore, will go on to the next most active thread. That one was titled, "Can’t face friends" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that her husband accidentally revealed that his longtime best friend has been having an affair with a college classmate for the last eight years. The original poster, her husband, and their children regularly socialize together with the other family and she is friends with the friend's wife. Knowing this information has made the original poster so uncomfortable about being around the other family that she canceled a planned get together this weekend. She believes that the friend's wife deserves to know about the affair but her husband is loyal to his friend. She asks what others would do. As could be expected, responses are all over the map. Several posters urge the original poster to simply forget what her husband told her and do whatever it takes to let it go. These posters argued that nothing good would come out of telling the friend's wife about his affair. Others argued that the wife deserves to know. They are concerned that if the wife learns of the affair and finds out that the original poster knew about it, she might blame the original poster. Another angle was to focus anger on the original poster's husband who has been hiding this secret and allowing his family to grow close to the other family despite knowing that things could blow up anytime. Some suggested that the original poster's husband should have a discussion with his friend, either to convince him to stop the affair or to let him know that the original poster now knows and is struggling with the information. Basically, put the ball into the friend's court. There was disagreement about how the friend's wife might react to being told about the affair. Many posters thought that she might already know or prefer not to know. They saw many scenarios in which revealing the affair could hurt the original poster's relationship with the woman. However, a poster who herself had been in the friend's wife situation says that she is very grateful to the friend who revealed her husband's affair. The poster says that friend was the only one who put the poster's interests first. In a follow-up post, the original poster says that she has settled on the "put the ball in the friend's court" strategy. She agrees with others that she and her husband need to be on the same page in order to protect their own relationship. The original poster is also compelled to end her friendship with both her husband's friend and the friend's wife. In the first case because she abhors what the friend is doing and in the second because she doesn't want to face the wife while keeping a secret from her.

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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 08, 2024 01:15 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, giving up on dreams of attending an Ivy League university, going back to work in order to motivate a husband to help out more, and buying a Porsche Boxster.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Biden's SOTU" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. This thread is obviously about the State of the Union address delivered last night by President Joe Biden. Interest in this thread was surprisingly intense, pushing the thread to 44 pages already. Obviously, I haven't read all of those pages, but I have read many pages throughout the thread. Right from the beginning, Republican-leaning posters set the bar for Biden incredibly low. Based on Republican expectations, it would be surprising if Biden were even able to walk to the podium successfully. Doubts about Biden's cognitive abilities spread to more moderate and even some Democratic-leaning posters. When Biden immediately launched into a combative and forceful speech, the thread turned into a combination of straw-grasping and outright denial. "He’s literally reading from teleprompter" one poster wrote, as if any president in the modern era would attempt such a speech without a teleprompter. "The man is literally drugged" wrote another poster. "He’s slurring his words", complained a poster with what would be a repeated criticism throughout the evening. But among Democrats, many of whom had clearly not been optimistic about the speech, there was a slow realization that Biden was clearly exceeding expectations. "He sounds great. Strong and confident", wrote one poster. Another opined, "Joe came out swinging. I'm actually feeling bad for Mike Johnson", referring to the Republican Speaker of the House who spent the evening seated behind Biden making various expressions of disappointment. "Johnson does NOT look happy and I'm loving it", noted another poster. Biden is a not skilled orator of the caliber of Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan. But, if his decades of political experience have done nothing else, they have prepared him for the rough and tumble that has characterized the most recent SOTU addresses during which Republicans routinely interrupt to heckle Democratic presidents. Last year, Biden successfully maneuvered Republicans into opposing social security and Medicaid cuts. At least one DCUM poster correctly predicted that Biden would repeat this tactic. "Last year was great in part because he went off script responding to the RWNJs yelling at him. So their Speaker is telling them to shut it but they won’t", wrote this poster. Not only did the Republican heckling not get under Biden's skin or throw him off kilter, he seemed to thrive on it. Biden taunted the Republicans, ridiculed them, and challenged them to stand up for their professed values. "I think he is doing an amazing job. He's so strong. He should have been getting this message out every single day. But I really hope that people are listening to this!" wrote a poster. The bottom line is that many expected "Sleepy Joe" but they got "Dark Brandon". This caused a notable change in the Republican spin. As one poster noted, "The GOP narrative pivots from ‘President Biden is too feeble’ to ‘President Biden is too aggressive.’" There is no denying that it was a good night for Biden, summed up by one poster as "This is a campaign speech." Indeed it was, and one that, if nothing else, probably calmed a lot of Democratic nerves.

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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 06, 2024 11:23 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included a rise in antisemitism, how much debt posters have, fears and hopes if Trump wins, and attractive men falling for "ugly" women.

The most active thread yesterday was, somewhat inexplicably, the thread from some time ago about the merger of two soccer clubs. But I've discussed that thread before and will skip it today. The next most active thread was titled, "The golden age of American Jews is ending" and posted in the "Religion" forum. The original poster linked to an article by Franklin Foer in "The Atlantic" that was titled the same as this thread. The original poster provided a one sentence summary saying that anti-Semitism on both the right and the left is threatening to end an unprecedented period of prosperity for American Jews. This thread really should have been posted in the political forum because this is more of a political discussion rather than a religious one. Jewish identity is a complex topic that is not solely based on religion. Moreover, the complicated relationship between Jews and Israel makes things even more convoluted. It is very clear that most, if not all, of the examples of anti-Semitism on the left that Foer provides are rooted in political divisions, not religious. Some of those examples can reasonably be argued to not be anti-Semitic at all, though they can equally reasonably be interpreted that way. This all makes for a very difficult discussion to have, particularly in a forum such as DCUM. This was clearly demonstrated when a poster alleged that some American Jewish groups have promoted extreme practices in Israel and responded to criticism of those actions by labeling it anti-Semitic. The poster suggested that the groups have gone too far and concludes, "If being against genocide makes me an antisemite, so be it." Indeed, another poster immediately accused that poster of being an anti-Semite. This provoked a tangent into history and disagreements about what Israel is actually doing. Or, perhaps "tangent" is not the right word because that discussion dominated the thread from that point on, leading to me locking the thread. On one side are posters who believe that criticizing Israel's actions is perfectly justified and has nothing to do with the Jewish religion but rather the acts of the state and government of Israel. They see charges of anti-Semitism as a method of shielding Israel from legitimate criticism. On the other side are posters who see anti-Semitism as a motivation for many of the attacks on Israel. What one side sees as legitimate criticism of Israel, the other side often views as inappropriate attacks on Jews. One side views accusations of anti-Semitism as cynical exploitation of a delegitimizing designation while the other side views "anti-Zionism" to be thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. It is clear that anti-Israel discourse has reached unprecedented levels in the US and most American Jews have probably never previously encountered, and perhaps maybe never even envisioned, such widespread opposition to Israel. But, whether this reflects a rise of anti-Semitism that threatens American Jews as Foer would have it or is simply the same type of political activity that has previously been focused on other countries such as apartheid South Africa, is probably more a question of perception than something that can be established with precise certainty.

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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele last modified Mar 05, 2024 10:48 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included the Supreme Court ruling about Trump's ballot access, a loss of attraction for a wife, not ordering a meal at a restaurant, and a study of elite college admissions.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Unanimous ruling by SCOTUS" and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum. The title refers to a decision by the US Supreme Court regarding a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court that removed former President Donald Trump from Colorado's presidential primary ballot. As the original poster states, the decision to keep Trump on the ballot was unanimous, but that is only part of the story. As is so often the case with the US legal system, the details of this decision are important and not necessarily what one might think at first glance. While all justices agreed that Trump should remain on the ballot, four justices disagreed with the majority opinon that only Congress can remove a federal candidate. Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the three liberals on this issue. As the minority concurrence pointed out, the Fourteenth Amendment says that if a candidate is disqualified under that amendment, "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability." The suggestion here is not that Congress would be undoing its own action, as the Court majority would have it, but rather removing a disqualification enacted by another body. By ignoring this, the majority has created a contradictory and confusing situation. The three liberal justices went even further in their disagreement, arguing that the ruling was far too broad and effectively meant that no candidate would ever be disqualified from holding the presidency under the Fourteenth Amendment. Another point that should be emphasized is that the Court did not rule on the topic of whether Trump participated in or instigated an insurrection. The ruling was very much not an exoneration of the former President. As so often happens in the political forum, many posters were less interested in the facts and more interested in scoring political points. Several posters claimed that this ruling meant that Trump could no longer be accused of being an insurrectionist. In fact, as noted, the Court was silent on this issue. A number of posters criticized President Joe Biden for attempting to defeat Trump in the courts rather than the ballot box. However, this case was originally brought by Colorado Republicans and Biden had no involvement. Nevertheless, posters spent a considerable part of this thread trying to tie Biden to various legal actions involving Trump. It is clear that many have bought into Trump's allegations that Democrats have weaponized the court system. What really is apparent is how Republicans have attempted to neuter all avenues for holding Trump to account. Republicans stymied two impeachment efforts because they claimed the matters were better settled in court rather than by Congress. This ruling says that the issue lies with Congress rather than the courts. Basically, Trump is a hot potato that keeps getting passed back and forth.

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