• Reid Claims FBI Has "Explosive" Information About Trump-Russia Ties
• Trump and Romney Meet
• Vilsack: Democrats Can't Ignore Rural Voters and Win
• Clinton's Lead is Now 1.68 Million Votes
• Trump Opponents Trying Hard to Flip Electoral College
• Zuckerberg Changes His Tune
• Pence Attends "Hamilton," Controversy Ensues
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is the early favorite for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is a physician and a strong opponent of the Affordable Care Act and the ideal person to dismantle it, since he understands both the medical aspects of it and the politics involved in getting rid of it and potentially replacing it. He already has a detailed plan worked out. The key elements of it are:
- Health savings accounts that allow people to save pre-tax dollars for future medical expenses
- High-risk insurance pools
- Interstate insurance sales
- Capping the tax exclusion for employer-provided insurance at $20,000 per family
Price's plan gives only $3 billion to the states to provide medical care for their most vulnerable residents. That would not be nearly enough. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a somewhat similar plan that provides $25 billion for the states to use for medical care, but even that was criticized as woefully inadequate. The bottom line is that if Price is nominated and confirmed and carries out his plan, millions of Americans will lose their medical care. Price is probably assuming that all of them vote for the Democrats anyway, so it will save the government money and won't hurt the Republicans.
Selling insurance across state lines is something Republicans have touted for years as magic. In reality, states want to regulate insurance and don't like the idea that (lax) rules set in some distant state override their rules. Also, selling insurance nationwide requires setting up a nationwide network of doctors and hospitals, something most insurance companies are not set up to do and don't want to do, even when the rules are the same everywhere, as with Medicare Advantage plans. (V)
On October 30, Harry Reid wrote a strongly-worded letter to FBI Director James Comey, blasting him for interfering with the presidential election. In the message, which has just become public, Reid also dropped another bombshell, writing:
In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government—a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information.
It is not Reid's style to make something up out of whole cloth, particularly in a letter to someone who would know instantly that he was lying. So, there is almost certainly some substance to the charge. But, how much? And will that information see the light of day? This seems like the kind of thing that might well be buried, as anyone and everyone tries to protect themselves and their jobs. With that said, if it somehow becomes clear that the FBI protected Donald Trump at the same time that they were cutting Hillary Clinton off at the knees, we could have a scandal that would put Watergate to shame. (Z)
Mitt Romney has been one of Donald Trump's biggest critics all year. He never had a good thing to say about the President-elect. Nevertheless, they met yesterday. Neither one said anything about what was discussed or whether any jobs were offered. According to the rumor mill, Romney is a potential candidate for Secretary of State, but that would be an odd choice since Romney has no background in foreign affairs or diplomacy. On the other hand, Secretary of Commerce might make some sense, since Romney does have a business background. But since neither man is talking about the meeting, we'll find out when we find out.
Putting Romney in the cabinet would be a complete break with Trump's behavior so far. All of his picks for official positions and for the transition team have been for people who main qualification is total subservience to Donald Trump. Romney fails that test. Could Trump finally be reaching out to others? Or maybe he has run out of loyalists. (V)
Former Iowa governor and secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack has issued a warning to Democrats: If you ignore rural voters, you will lose. And this holds for president, senator, governor, and House seats. Vilsack said that few Democrats know how to talk to rural voters. In addition, the anti-government forces are stronger than the pro-government forces in rural areas. What Vilsack didn't mention but is also a factor is that the Democrats' focus on minorities of various kinds makes many white rural voters feel that the Democrats don't care about them. (V)
The votes are still being counted in a number of states, but as of yesterday, Hillary Clinton had 63,541,056 votes to Donald Trump's 61,864,015, a lead of 1.68 million votes. Third parties got 7,034,595 votes. Clinton's percentage of the total vote is currently 48.0% vs. Trump's percentage of 46.7%. Here is an Excel spreadsheet with the raw data by state.
The closest states are New Hampshire, which Clinton won by 2,700 votes and Michigan, which Trump won by 11,600 votes. (V)
The Electoral College meets in just less than a month, and those who oppose Donald Trump's election are working hard to persuade electors to change their votes. Some have launched Internet petitions, which are worth roughly as much as the paper they are written on. Others have taken to threatening electors. Apparently, these individuals have not taken Conflict Resolution 101; if they had, they would know that is just about the surest way to make certain someone does not change their mind. Still others, thinking tactically, have been singing the praises of Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan.
Thus far, only one elector has publicly wavered; Texas Republican Art Sisneros, who says, "As a Christian, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump is not Biblically qualified for that office." We have noted that there are a number of valid historical and legal arguments that might be made for an elector who wants to be "faithless," but this is probably not one of them. And, in any event, Sisneros says he would never vote for Hillary Clinton, either.
If the NeverTrump folks could get a dozen or so electors to flip, they might have a shot at achieving their goal, but for one problem: The electors don't actually meet in the same place. There will not be a single meeting; there will be 50 meetings in 50 different state capitals. Any elector who might be wavering would have no awareness of other defectors, barring some sort of pre-arrangement. Consequently, the people trying to flip the vote are almost certainly tilting at windmills. That said, sometimes windmills are all there is to tilt at. (Z)
Last week, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg pooh-poohed the notion that his site had played a key role in spreading de facto propaganda, declaring that, "I think the idea that fake news on Facebook—of which it's a small amount of content—influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea." He further insisted that there was no need for the social media site to take any action in this regard.
What a difference a week makes. Since Zuckerberg made that declaration, it has become clear that (1) More than half the shares of "news" on Facebook between August and November were of fake stories, and (2) There's a pretty good chance those stories did impact affect the election. Facebook users and investors have complained loudly, and surely someone has pointed out to Zuckerberg that government officials—including, say, a few representatives from the FBI or the CIA—may come calling. Consequently, he has done a 180-degree turnaround, announcing on Saturday that, "The bottom line is: we take misinformation seriously. We take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done." He outlined several specific measures being taken, including better algorithms, partnerships with fact-checking organizations, and the addition of a button for reporting false items. They will also ban ads from purveyors of fake news, thus undercutting their profit model. Google and other companies are following suit, so it would seem that one avenue for peddlers of misinformation is about to be shut down. (Z)
Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence decided to enjoy the spoils of office a little bit, taking in the hit Broadway show "Hamilton" on Friday from premium seats near the stage. The crowd booed Pence when he arrived, until being coaxed into stopping by the cast. There were also Pence-directed boos at various points throughout the performance, such as when the line "Immigrants, we get the job done!" was delivered. At the conclusion of the performance, during the curtain call, cast member Brandon Dixon delivered a message to Pence on behalf of the cast that included this sentiment:
We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.
Pence was clearly not pleased by the display, and on Saturday his boss leapt to his defense. Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain that:
Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!
The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!
This brings to mind a number of thoughts. To start, anyone who believed Donald Trump when he said he would be weaning himself off of Twitter was clearly delusional. Second, Trump may have attended many plays in his time, but he has a shaky grasp on how the theater works. The stage belongs to the performers, who are (largely) free to do with it as they please (just as audience members are free to leave). This often includes material that is not "safe" (see, for example, "Raisin in the Sun" or "Hair" or "Rent"). Finally, if Trump is going to respond to every slight against himself or the members of his administration, he's going to have a very busy four years. Will this serve to endear him to his base? Or will it grow tiresome, even to them? Odds are good that we're going to find out. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov19 Report: Mike Huckabee Will Be Ambassador to Israel
Nov19 Bannon: We're Really Going to Spend a Trillion Dollars on Infrastructure
Nov19 Trump Agrees to Pay $25 Million to Settle Trump University Lawsuits
Nov19 WSJ to Trump: Liquidate
Nov19 Muslim Database Coming into Focus
Nov19 Whither Ted Cruz?
Nov19 Was Russia to Blame for Fake News?
Nov19 Democrats Hit New Low in State Legislatures
Nov18 Ryan Doesn't Like Pelosi
Nov18 Democrats Brace for 2018
Nov18 Kaine Will Not Run for President in 2020
Nov18 Trump Stops Ford from Relocating Plant...Or Maybe Not
Nov18 Proposal: DNC Chair Candidates Should Debate
Nov18 Did Paul Horner Hand the Election to Donald Trump?
Nov18 Fake News Outperformed Real News From August to November
Nov18 Who's to Blame for Steve Bannon? How about Jerry Seinfeld?
Nov18 Newt Gingrich Said He Will Not Serve in the Trump Administration
Nov17 Trump's Coalition Won the Battle but Will Lose the War
Nov17 Flynn Is National Security Advisor, Haley and Perry Reportedly Under Consideration
Nov17 Some Members of Team Trump Are Pushing Hard for Muslim Registry
Nov17 Draining the Swamp Isn't Easy
Nov17 Trump and De Blasio Are Fighting Already
Nov17 Sanders Named to Senate Leadership Team
Nov17 Once Again, O'Malley Drops Out Quickly
Nov17 Could Trump End the Culture Wars?
Nov17 Net Neutrality Is Probably Dead
Nov16 New Transition Team Discards Everything Christie Did
Nov16 More Information Leaks about Trump's Cabinet
Nov16 Clinton's Lead in the Popular Vote Has Passed 1 Million
Nov16 Republicans Who Opposed Trump May Be Primaried in 2018
Nov16 Ryan Appears Safe, Pelosi Not So Much
Nov16 Bannon May Have His First Scandal
Nov16 Glenn Beck Slams Bannon, Alt-right
Nov16 Senators Speak Out
Nov16 Hearing on Trump University Case Set for Friday
Nov16 Chelsea Clinton Might Run for Congress
Nov15 Trump Criticized for Having Bannon in the White House
Nov15 Differences between Trump and the Republican Establishment Are Already Clear
Nov15 Takeaways from the First Five Days
Nov15 Trump Expected He Would Drop Out and Endorse Christie
Nov15 Democrats Warming to Comey, Fast
Nov15 Facebook Faces More Scrutiny
Nov15 Ryan Wants to Kill Medicare
Nov15 Head of the SEC Steps Down
Nov15 Fight Brewing for DNC Chairman
Nov15 Do Celebrity Endorsements Help?
Nov14 Trump Names Priebus as Chief of Staff
Nov14 Trump Is Disgusted with Christie
Nov14 Trump the President-Elect Versus Trump the Candidate