Dem 48
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GOP 52
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Tax Bill May Allow Dark Money Political Donations to Become Tax Deductible

After the Citizens United decision, millionaires and billionaires were free to spend as much money as they wanted to on political campaigns. If someone like Sheldon Adelson decided to spend $100 million helping Republican candidates, that was up to him. Now imagine if that donation were tax deductible. The new tax bill might just allow for that, including donations of "dark money," which cannot be traced to the donor.

The issue began with the repeal of the Johnson amendment, which forbids churches and other nonprofits from supporting or opposing candidates for office. But negotiators from the House and Senate are considering changing the language to allow political donations, even secret ones, to be tax deductible.

Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, an estimated $800 million in dark money has been funneled through 501(c)4 groups, which can accept unlimited anonymous donations but they are not tax deductible. The bill may allow donations to flow through 501(c)3 groups now, and these donations are tax deductible. Previously, 501(c)3 groups were religious, educational, charitable, scientific, or other groups working for the public good, but were not political. If the proposed change goes through, it will completely change the nature of these nonprofits and inject politics into groups that previously stayed above the fray. Making political contributions tax deductible would be Citizens United on steroids and change American politics enormously, giving millionaires and billionaires even more clout than they already have. (V)

Yearbook Inscription Partly Not Moore's Writing

Gloria Allred held a press conference yesterday with her client Beverly Young Nelson, who has accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault. Young admitted that the note below Moore's inscription in her high school yearbook giving the date and place of their meeting was something she added later. Many people had already noted that the handwriting of the inscription itself, which reads: "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A." is different from that of the date and location below it.

However, Allred also said that she had a handwriting expert, Arthur T. Anthony, confirm the signature as being Moore's. He could determine this by comparing it to Moore's signature on the many public documents available on which it is present.

Does this change anything? Yes and no. The inscription specifically mentions Christmas 1977, so there was already no doubt when it was written. Now many people are going to think that Nelson might have forged the whole thing. An expert said the signature was genuine, but many Republicans don't believe experts at all and may come away from this simply thinking Nelson is a liar and Moore was right all along. Here is how Breitbart covered this story:

Breitbart on Nelson

Breitbart goes on to excoriate Nelson and Moore's other accusers in no uncertain terms. With that said, Fox News has already been compelled to back off their use of the word 'forgery,' as that is not an accurate description of what happened here.

It is not clear why Allred didn't state at the original press conference that the note was Nelson's not Moore's. It wouldn't have hurt her case. It is possible that Nelson misled her. The result now is that right-wing media are all over this just days before the election and that effectively gives Alabama Republicans an excuse to vote for Moore ("his accuser lied"). (V)

Trump Rallies in Florida

Donald Trump traveled to Pensacola, Fla.—just 25 miles from the Alabama border—yesterday to hold one of his signature campaign rallies. When the event was originally planned, it was set up to be a pro-Roy Moore rally without being too obviously a pro-Roy Moore rally. Since then, Trump has gone all-in on Moore, so there was no need for pretenses Friday. The President spent most of the night talking about how great a guy Moore is, and how the yearbook (see above) is fake news, and how electing a Democrat like Doug Jones to the Senate would only be slightly less bad than electing Satan himself.

Trump has now officially hitched his dinghy to the S.S. Roy Moore, for better or for worse. If Moore wins, the President will take all the credit, though it remains to be seen if 2018's GOP office-seekers will see it that way. If Moore does not win, Trump will have egg on his face, and his political capital will shrink to an even more microscopic size than is already the case. It is 72 hours until we find out. (Z)

Dina Powell Will Leave White House in January

It has been long expected that there will be a major exodus from the White House as Donald Trump approaches the one-year mark. The announcements are already starting. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell has said that she is departing early next year. Powell has been an all-purpose adviser on foreign policy. She has also planned all five of Trump's foreign trips, as well as his visit to the U.N. General Assembly in September. Powell is a Coptic Christian who was born in Egypt and speaks fluent Arabic.

By all accounts, Trump trusted Powell and spoke with her often. Of course, often speaking with her didn't mean he followed her advice. When Steve Bannon was in the White House, Powell and Bannon often clashed since she is a globalist and he is a nationalist. According to friends, the constant struggles in the White House, even after Bannon left, just wore her down. Axios is reporting that Dr. Nadia Schadlow, who works on the staff of NSA Herbert McMaster, is Powell's likely successor. Her views are closely aligned with those of her boss. (V)

Democrats Looking Under Rocks for Competitive House Races

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is very much liking its chances, and senses that a big, big wave is coming. Under normal circumstances, perhaps 25 or 30 GOP-held House districts would qualify as competitive. The DCCC, however, drew up a tentative list of 80 Republican districts they plan to target in 2018. On Friday, they added 11 more to the tally: OH-12, PA-11, PA-15, and TX-21 (all open seats); UT-04 (Mia Love); NY-02 (Pete King); IN-09 (Trey Hollingsworth); CA-04 (Tom McClintock); WA-05 (Cathy McMorris Rodgers); WI-06 (Glenn Grothman); and WI-01 (Speaker Paul Ryan). The complete list of 91 races, covering 30 states, can be seen here.

It's quite an ambitious list, but it's not completely unreasonable. The whole point of gerrymandering, as the Daily Kos points out, is to create as many districts with small but solid majorities as is possible. Optimally, that means something like 53% voters from your party, and 47% voters from the other party. In a wave year, that can become the basis for a massive collapse. Certainly, some of the Republicans being targeted are nervous. "I am very apprehensive about the future," said Grothman, while McClintock acknowledged the existence of "a huge enthusiasm gap that favors the Democrats right now."

Of course, there is also a risk to the kind of ambition the DCCC is showing; they could end up throwing away badly-needed resources in districts where it is a waste. Think Hillary Clinton going to Georgia to campaign, instead of Michigan and Wisconsin. Presumably, the DCCC has polling that tells them they are doing the right thing. Of course, so did Clinton. (Z)

Special Election for Conyers Seat Won't Be Until Nov. 2018

Michigan state law requires that when a House seat becomes vacant, then the governor must call a special election to fill it. But in contrast to most states, where the law gives the governor a narrow window when the election must be held (typically 60 to 90 days from the time the vacancy occurs), Michigan law is silent on when the special election will be held. So Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) was perfectly within his rights to declare that the special election to fill the seat of John Conyers, who resigned from the House this week, will be held on Nov. 6, 2018. This means that most of the people in Detroit won't have a representative for nearly 11 months.

Snyder said that the late date gives potential candidates plenty of time to prepare for it. The truth, of course, is completely different. In other states candidates can prepare in 60 days, so why not in Michigan? Snyder knows that Conyer's district has a PVI of D+33 and is dominated by black Democrats. The winner of the election will virtually certainly be a black Democrat, especially given that this seat has not been open for over 50 years and their are plenty of state representatives and state senators who would like to move up the food chain. By keeping the seat open for 11 months, his decision deprives the Democrats of a vote in the House, and that could prove important with a number of crucial votes scheduled for the coming weeks and months.

An additional factor is the confusion this date sows. On Nov. 6, 2018, there will be a special election to fill out the remaining 2 months of Conyers' term. Since the House is not likely to be in session then, winning the seat is meaningless, although it might be nice to add "former member of the U.S. House of Representatives" to your C.V. However, there will also be a regular election for the term beginning Jan. 2019. Undoubtedly many voters will not understand why there are two elections for the same seat at the same time and will make mistakes on their ballots. Still, the district is so Democratic that even if half the voters spoil their ballots, the Democrat will almost certainly win both races.

Partisanship is now running so high that anything the Republicans can do to increase their margin in Congress is fair game, including supporting an alleged child molester (Roy Moore) running for the Senate in Alabama. Although the media likes to report "they all do it," Democrats don't play this game. They forced Al Franken out of the Senate, triggering a special election they could lose next year. It will be interesting to see what the Republicans do if Moore wins his special election on Tuesday. (V)

Democrats Will Restrict Superdelegates in 2020

The Democratic Party is considering a major revision to its process of choosing a presidential nominee. In addition to the delegates selected in primaries and caucuses, hundreds of party leaders were also voting delegates in 2016, and by a large margin they favored Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Many Sanders supporters still believe that it was these "superdelegates" who swung the nomination to Clinton. Actually, she got it because she got 3 million more votes from Democratic voters than he did, but many Sanders supporters are angry anyway.

The proposal the party is working on now is keeping the superdelegates, but requiring many of them to vote on the first ballot the way their states voted. In this way, the party will be unable to "stack the deck" in favor of the DNC's favorite candidate, assuming it can choose one out of the dozens of Democrats expected to run in 2020. Nevertheless, some superdelegates, such as sitting governors and members of Congress, would be allowed to vote as they please. This plan is a compromise between supporters of Sanders and Clinton. The DNC will make a final decision on the proposal next year. (V)

Trump Asked RNC Chair to Omit 'Romney' from Her Name

Is there any level of pettiness to which Donald Trump will not stoop? It's one of the great unresolved questions of the universe, like "Who was Jack the Ripper?" or "What was the purpose of Stonehenge?" On Friday, the Washington Post reported that when he tapped Ronna Romney McDaniel to be RNC chair, Trump asked that she stop using her middle name in official communications.

The purpose, of course, was to snub Mitt Romney, who is among the many people that The Donald does not like. Beyond being petty, it's also sexist—it is impossible to imagine the President asking Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) to switch to John Edwards. For what it is worth, however, Romney McDaniel appears to have honored the request, rarely using her middle name any more (which includes the GOP page with her official bio, a bio that makes no reference to her famous uncle). (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec08 Looks Like There's More to the Trump Tower Story
Dec08 Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
Dec08 Franken Will Quit
Dec08 Dayton Might Appoint His Lieutenant Governor as a Placeholder
Dec08 Report: Trent Franks to Resign from Congress Just Ahead of a Scandal
Dec08 Congress Kicks the Can a Short Distance Down the Road
Dec08 Trump's Approval Falls with Every Demographic Group
Dec08 Trump to Get Physical
Dec08 Roy Moore, Historian
Dec08 Arpaio "Seriously" Considering Senate Run
Dec08 Vonn Will Represent the U.S., Not Trump
Dec07 Democrats Call for Franken to Resign
Dec07 Bredesen Will Run for Senate
Dec07 Flynn Told Business Associate that Sanctions Would be Ripped Up Immediately
Dec07 The Sausage Machine Has Been Turned On Again
Dec07 Fallout from Jerusalem Decision Begins
Dec07 Trump Slurred His Speech
Dec07 Time Person of the Year:
Dec07 Democrats Try but Fail to Impeach Trump
Dec07 Conyers III Not Likely to Be Your Next Representative from Michigan
Dec06 Report: Mueller Subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for Trump Financial Records
Dec06 Russiagate Plot Thickens Some More
Dec06 Tax Bill Looks to Be an Albatross around the Republicans' Neck in 2018
Dec06 Conyers Resigns Effectively Immediately
Dec06 God's Plan for Mike Pence
Dec06 Trump Will Move Forward on Jerusalem
Dec06 Polls Say Moore, Jones Are Leading in Alabama
Dec05 Trump Formally Endorses Roy Moore
Dec05 RNC Back in on Moore, Too
Dec05 Another Woman Produces Evidence that Roy Moore Knew Her as a Teenager
Dec05 Supreme Court Allows Muslim Ban 3.0 to Go Into Effect Temporarily
Dec05 White House Lawyer Told Trump in January That Flynn Lied
Dec05 Can a President Obstruct Justice?
Dec05 Tax Bill Is Likely to Be Close to the Senate Bill
Dec05 Americans Don't Like the Obamacare Mandate--Until Someone Explains What It Is
Dec05 31% of Republicans Want a Different Nominee in 2020
Dec04 Feinstein Thinks Mueller Is Building an Obstruction of Justice Case against Trump
Dec04 Did Flynn Wear a Wire?
Dec04 Differences Will Have to Be Ironed Out between the Senate and House Bills
Dec04 McConnell Backs Off Position that Moore Should Drop Out of the Senate Race
Dec04 Bush is Back
Dec04 CBS Poll: Moore Ahead by 6%, but Don't Believe It
Dec04 Trump Tries to Keep Hatch in the Senate
Dec04 Clinton for U.S. Senate?
Dec03 Trump Just Can't Help Himself
Dec03 What the Flynn Plea Deal Means
Dec03 How the Sausage Is Made
Dec03 Next Target: Repealing the New Deal and Great Society
Dec03 Tillerson Is a Lame Duck
Dec03 Trump to Declare that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel