Clinton 232
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Trump 306
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Click for Senate
Dem 48
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GOP 52
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  • Strongly Dem (182)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (32)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (91)
  • Likely GOP (45)
  • Strongly GOP (170)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA MI OH PA WI

Trump Fires Prosecutor Preet Bharara

President Donald Trump fired one of the most high profile federal prosecutors, Preet Bharara, yesterday, after Bharara refused to resign. Bharara said that Trump had asked him to stay on and he agreed. For that reason, he didn't resign when Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente called him (and 45 other U.S. attorneys) on Friday asking for a letter of resignation. It is normal that a new administration replaces all the U.S. attorneys appointed by a president of the other party, but it is generally done over a period of time. An instantaneous firing like this is very rare.

Bharara has prosecuted many corrupt politicians, terrorism suspects, and corporations. It is not known if there was something he was working on that made Trump change his mind. Bharara did not announce his next career move, but surely New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who handles many of the same kinds of cases as Bharara did, noticed that Bharara is looking for a job. (V)

It's Getting Harder to Gerrymander

On Friday, a three-judge panel in San Antonio issued its ruling regarding three districts in Texas (namely, TX-35, TX-23, and TX-27). It was not good news for the Texas GOP, as it was decided that the state legislature specifically designed the districts to dilute the power of Latino votes. The judges were not shy in their opinion:

The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage.

The ruling isn't necessarily final, since it can be appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the finding of discriminatory intent is an important one, since that triggers federal laws that allow the Dept. of Justice to step in and get involved in districting.

The bad news, from the Democrats' perspective, is that a Jeff Sessions-led Justice Dept. is not likely to be too vigorous in pushing for fairly-drawn districts (or in pushing against voter ID laws). However, Friday's success—paired with several other recent anti-gerrymander decisions—certainly gives momentum to the ACLU and other private groups who litigate these issues. (Z)

Major Insurance Company Supports ACA Replacement

Anthem, the country's second largest health insurance company, has endorsed much of Speaker Paul Ryan's AHCA. Anthem's CEO Joseph Swedish said that the GOP bill, "addresses the challenges immediately facing the individual market and will ensure more affordable health plan choices for consumers in the short term." What he didn't mention is that Anthem is trying to buy another large health-insurance company, Cigna, and that by cozying up to Ryan and Trump, he hopes they will approve his acquisition.

In contrast, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association wrote a letter expressing concern that the plan would cause large numbers of people to lose insurance. The group also opposed the 30% extra premium that people would have to pay for one year if they dropped their insurance, got sick, and then renewed it. It believes that healthy people will avoid buying insurance and then buy insurance if they get sick, just accepting the higher premium for one year. In effect, they were asking for either a mandate or a much more severe penalty for people who don't get insurance until they get sick. (V)

Trump Supporters Will Be Hit the Hardest by the AHCA

Nate Cohn of the New York Times has crunched the numbers and determined that voters who would be $5,000 worse off under the new health care plan went for Trump by a margin of 59% to 36%. The voters who would gain from the new plan went for Hillary Clinton. The reason is that the new plan doesn't provide a larger tax credit to people with more expensive plans. Since the new plan would allow insurance companies to jack up premiums for older people as much as 5x the standard rate, it will be older people who get stuck with more expensive plans but no corresponding increase in credits. Middle and lower income older people tended to vote for Trump. In addition, many Trump voters live in rural areas, which have more expensive plans to start with because there is less competition in rural areas than in cities. So all in all, despite Donald Trump's assurances that he cares about the "little guy," it is his voters who will bear the brunt of the new plan. (V)

Ads Targeting the New Health-Care Plan Have Started Already

A new grassroots activist group, Save My Care, is starting to run ads on social media and YouTube urging members of Congress to keep the ACA and reject Paul Ryan's new plan. On its Facts Webpage, the group lists the following items:

  • 30 Million Americans would lose health coverage
  • 52 Million Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied health insurance
  • 13 Million Americans would lose Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program
  • 82% of those would would lose coverage are in working famililies

The numbers are somewhat suspect. The Brookings Institution, a widely respected D.C. think tank, recently estimated the number of people who would lose insurance under the new plan to be 15 million, not 30 million, for example. The estimate of 52 million people with pre-existing conditions is probably reasonable, however. The site is full of stories from individuals who had some serious disease and were able to get medical care as a result of the ACA.

After all its hard work on health care in the past week, Congress is taking a much-needed two-week vacation next week. The site helps people find town hall events to go to where they can ask questions of their representative. (V)

Mar-a-Lago Is a Spy's Paradise

The White House is very heavily guarded and no one can get in without a thorough inspection. However, Donald Trump seems to be turning his Mar-a-Lago estate into the Southern White House, and it isn't guarded at all. In fact, the members of the club can bring in guests with almost no vetting. There is physical vetting, in terms of searching for weapons when a member or a guest of a member enters, but no background check. Much to the dismay of the Secret Service, a list of the club's nearly 500 members has leaked out, allowing foreign intelligence services to contact them and ask them to do a bit of spying for them, possibly in return for some cash or a promise not to disclose the kompromat the foreign government has dug up on the member. Also, Trump is famous for not paying his employees well, so foreign governments might approach waiters, maids, etc., with suitcases full of money in return for simply planting a few wireless microphones or cameras at carefully selected locations.

Other presidents have tried to escape D.C. before, but most of them had a house or the house of a friend they stayed at. George W. Bush had his ranch in Texas, as did Lyndon Johnson. George H. W. Bush had the family compound in Kennebunkport, ME. John Kennedy had some nice digs up in Hyannisport, MA. Richard Nixon went to the house of his friend Bebe Rebozo in Key Biscayne, FL. All of these were private locations that were easily secured. In contrast, Mar-a-Lago is a semipublic resort where 1,000 unvetted people could be present while the president is there. And we haven't even begun to talk about the damage a camera- or grenade-bearing drone could do while the president is out golfing. The concept of the president spending 30% of his time at an unsecured location must give the head of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy, nightmares every night. (V)

"Deep State" Conspiracy Theories Getting Wilder

The notion that there is a "deep state" of career bureaucrats and Obama loyalists in the government who are working to subvert the Trump administration has taken hold of many members of the Republican Party, including many who work (and/or live) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On Saturday, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) took the conspiracy to the next level, declaring that former President Obama is the one who is actually running the show:

President Obama himself said he was going to stay in Washington until his daughter graduated. I think we ought to pitch in to let him go someplace else, because he is only there for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to run a shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda. It just doesn't make sense.

When Kelly was contacted about his remarks, he was furious, insisting that they were meant for the private consumption of his Republican audience, and not for the larger public. Which suggests a certain awareness of: (a) how kooky the theory sounds, or (b) how implausible the notion is, or (c) both. (Z)

Cuomo Prepping to Throw His Hat into the Ring

Early speculation about the Democrats' candidate in 2020 has focused primarily on sitting senators (Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Tim Kaine, Al Franken) or on former members of the executive branch (Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden). However, not every president comes out of Washington, D.C. In fact, four of the last seven were state governors before moving to the White House. And so, we should not forget that possibility when handicapping 2020.

The first governor to make his move is New York's Andrew Cuomo. He's now hired two Florida consultants to help him network with Democratic movers and shakers, and to raise money. He's scheduled a series of fundraisers, hoping to expand on his $22 million war chest (not bad for a governor, but a pittance for a presidential candidate). He also took a trip to Israel recently for a meet and greet with Benjamin Netanyahu. Inasmuch as New York is emerging as ground zero for anti-Trump pushback (courtesy of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others), Cuomo will be in an excellent position to curry support with unhappy Democrats. Other state governors who may eventually join him in the race include John Hickenlooper (CO), Roy Cooper (NC), and Mark Dayton (MN). (Z)

Dueling Bestsellers on Amazon

The duel between anti- and pro-Trump Americans has spilled over into virtually every area of American life: the movies, television, sports, music, retail sales, etc. That includes, naturally, online retailer, which has all manner of products for partisans on both sides. That includes "Not my President" t-shirts, and Donald Trump toilet paper, and pencil holders where you stick your writing instrument...somewhere that would be very uncomfortable, and "Make America Great Again" Christmas Ornaments.

Attracting particular attention these days are a pair of books that have each topped amazon's bestsellers list in the past few months: Why Trump Deserves Trust, Respect and Admiration and Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide. Naturally, both books are completely blank. This bit—the "world's shortest book" gag—is an old one, dating back to World War II. Think German Comedians or French Military Victories or Great Italian Generals. Still, the classic gags never go out of style, it would seem. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar11 Sessions Asks All Obama-appointed U.S. Attorneys to Resign Immediately
Mar11 "Deep State" Is Going Mainstream
Mar11 Transition Team Knew Flynn Should Have Registered as a Foreign Agent
Mar11 Every Day Brings More Russia Intrigue
Mar11 Trump: Jobs Numbers Aren't Fake Any More
Mar11 Congressional Budget Office Won't Pull Its Punches
Mar11 Nobody Wants His Name on GOP Healthcare Bill
Mar11 Why Jon Huntsman?
Mar11 Scott Pruitt No Fan of Science
Mar10 Cotton Says House Health-care Bill Won't Pass the Senate
Mar10 Ryan Sells Healthcare Bill, Underwhelms
Mar10 Brookings Study Says 15 Million People Will Lose Insurance If House Bill Passes
Mar10 What Is Trump's Plan B?
Mar10 Cruz Suggests that Pence Overrule the Senate Parliamentarian
Mar10 Can the Dots Be Connected?
Mar10 Huntsman Tapped for Russia Ambassadorship
Mar10 Four More States Will Sue Trump on Muslim Ban v2.0
Mar10 White House, Ethics Office Butt Heads
Mar10 D.C. Wine Bar Sues Trump
Mar09 Committees Begin Marking Up Health-Care Bill
Mar09 American Medical Association is Against the Ryan Plan
Mar09 AARP Comes Out Against GOP Health Plan
Mar09 Seven Pitfalls that Could Sink the Republican's Health-Care Plan
Mar09 Trump: Don't Worry, I'll Blame the Democrats
Mar09 Will the New Health Care Bill Pass the House?
Mar09 To Fund the Border Wall, Trump Will Slash National Security
Mar09 New Polls Today about Trump, Sessions, and Special Prosecutor
Mar09 Graham Says He Will Subpoena Information about Trump Wiretap
Mar09 Trump May Strike Out With Armed Services Secretaries
Mar08 WikiLeaks Posts CIA's Hacking Tools
Mar08 Lewandowski Approved Trump Adviser's Trip to Moscow in July
Mar08 Russian Billionaire's Jet and Trump's Jet Met Five Days before the Election
Mar08 Some Republicans Are Rejecting the ACA Replacement
Mar08 Hawaii Will Sue over Travel Ban
Mar08 Franken Says Sessions Perjured Himself
Mar08 White House Plagiarizes...from ExxonMobil
Mar07 Muslim Ban v2.0 Is Announced
Mar07 Is Trump Confusing the Alfa Bank Investigation with a Wiretap?
Mar07 GOP Releases ACA Replacement
Mar07 Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearings on Deputy Attorney General Today
Mar07 Trump University Case May Not Be Closed Yet
Mar07 Ben Carson is Back at it Again
Mar06 Comey Asked Justice Dept. to Reject Trump's Wiretap Claim
Mar06 New Travel Ban Coming Soon
Mar06 Reince Priebus' Time May Be Short
Mar06 About the Economy, Mr. President...
Mar06 The Battle of the Wall Is Starting
Mar06 2020 Is the End of the Line for Boomer Dominance
Mar06 Politics Meets Geometry
Mar06 Oprah 2020?