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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Reportedly Told Friends "You All Just Got a Lot Richer"
      •  Trump Has Visited His Properties over 100 Times This year
      •  Why Wasn't Black Turnout in Alabama Much Lower?
      •  Judge Deals Setback to Voter Fraud Commission
      •  An Analysis of Doubleheaders
      •  Flake For President?
      •  Haley Appears to Have Been Pranked
      •  Trump Killed Christmas

Trump Reportedly Told Friends "You All Just Got a Lot Richer"

CBS is reporting that Donald Trump told his rich friends at Mar-a-Lago "You all just got a lot richer," referencing the tax bill he signed on Friday. Democrats have criticized the law as a giveaway to the rich, which Republicans have denied. Trump's comments seem to confirm that Trump understands well that the law is, in fact, a giveaway to the rich. He also knows that the folks who are members of the Mar-a-Lago club are probably not poor, given that the initiation fee is $200,000, with annual dues of $14,000. But merely being a member is just the start. If you want to show up for New Year's Eve, that will be another $600 per member and $750 per guest. (V)

Trump Has Visited His Properties over 100 Times This year

Donald Trump's visit to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas isn't exactly his first trip there since being inaugurated. To be precise, he has spent 34 days there as president. In the summer, he didn't go to sweltering Florida so much. Instead, he went to his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, for 40 days. He also visited his golf club in Virginia 23 times. Trump Tower in New York was another a popular destination. All in all, Friday's trip to Mar-a-Lago marked the 106th day he visited one of his own properties.

During his campaign, Trump slammed Barack Obama for taking the occasional vacation. The Donald told the voters: "I would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done. I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off." Trump has now spent more time and taxpayer dollars on vacation travel in 1 year than Obama did in 8 years. (V)

Why Wasn't Black Turnout in Alabama Much Lower?

The easy answers to why black turnout in the Alabama special election was so high are that (1) Roy Moore was a horrific candidate and a racist, and (2) Doug Jones was a hero to the black community for putting two of the killers who perpetrated the Birmingham Sunday massacre behind bars.

On the other hand, there are many reasons why black turnout should have been much lower, including:

  • Special elections always have low turnout, especially when not held in November
  • Alabama does not allow early voting, which is disproportionately used by minorities
  • The law against former felons voting is one of the toughest in the country
  • Alabama has a law requiring photo ID to vote, something not all black voters have
  • Alabama has a very long history of trying to suppress the black vote
  • Alabama has one of the worst gerrymanders in the country, in part designed to de-motivate black voters

Nevertheless, despite all these factors, black voters turned out in record numbers, so the gravest fears of people who expected massive voter suppression were not realized. Still, the issue of voter suppression in other states is very real. And even when voters have the necessary documents, some of them think they can't vote and don't even try. A Wisconsin study shows that the number of voters who stayed home in 2016 because they thought they could not meet the state's tough photo ID law exceeded Donald Trump's 22,748-vote margin in the state. In short, Alabama is going to be an argument for people who want to suppress black voters that photo ID laws don't prevent people from voting when they are motivated to do so. (V)

Judge Deals Setback to Voter Fraud Commission

Speaking of voter suppression, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap—a Democrat—is a member of the commission that Donald Trump appointed to investigate (nonexistent) voter fraud. Presumably, Dunlap accepted the assignment so that the blue team would have an observer on the inside. The Republican members of the committee, particularly de facto leader Kris Kobach, seem to suspect that as well, since they have been withholding most of the committee's documents from Dunlap. This led Dunlap to sue, and on Friday night, he won.

This is a pretty big defeat for Trump and Kobach, because Dunlap's argument was that the Commission should be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. This means that they not only have to share all of their records with him, they also have to make them publicly available. Further, the Commission must also be "fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented." Thus far, neither Kobach nor the White House has commented on the decision. However, it's getting harder and harder for them to achieve their basic goal, which is to surreptitiously find ways to make it harder for minorities, women, students, and other left-leaning groups to vote. (Z)

An Analysis of Doubleheaders

No, not in baseball. In Senate elections. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has noted that there will be two Senate elections in Minnesota in 2018, the regular one for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and the special one to fill out the term of the soon-to-be-former senator Al Franken (DFL-MN). Current lieutenant governor Tina Smith (DFL-MN), who will take over for Franken on Jan. 3, will run in that one. Sabato has done an analysis of races when two Senate positions were on the same ballot throughout the time that senators have been popularly elected. There have been 55 times when there were Senate doubleheaders, the first in 1914, only a year after the 17th Amendment was ratified.

The table listing all of them is a bit long to include here, but it is at the linked site. The main takeaway is that the same party usually wins both of them. Only eight times have the parties split the seats. The last time that there was a split was in 1966, when Strom Thurmond (R) won reelection for the regular Class II seat while Gov. Fritz Hollings (D) defeated the appointed senator in the primary for the Class III seat and went on to win the general election. And even that election barely counts, since changes in the electorate in the 1960s meant that a Southern Republican and a Southern Democrat were often one and the same (in fact, Thurmond himself was a Southern Democrat until two years before the election). Since 1966, there have been 10 doubleheaders and each time, one of the parties took both seats.

The implication for 2018 is that in Minnesota, a relatively blue state, Klobuchar and Smith are likely to win no matter whom the Republicans throw at them, and this analysis doesn't take into account a potential blue wave in 2018. As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gets progressively weaker due to his brain cancer, there's also a good chance of a doubleheader in Arizona; if so, then Sabato's analysis suggests that the Grand Canyon State will determine which party controls the Senate. (V)

Flake For President?

Speaking of Arizona Senators, Jeff Flake (R) has decided to throw in the towel on his congressional career and will not stand for reelection in 2018. Apparently, however, that's not necessarily going to be the end of his political career. Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Flake said that if Donald Trump "continues on the path that he's on, that that's going to leave a huge swath of voters looking for something else." The Senator also implied that, just maybe, he could be that something else.

We've often repeated the well-known observation that every morning 100 senators look in the bathroom mirror and see a U.S. president. However, if Flake is still thinking in this way, he is delusional. Exactly who would his base be? The NeverTrump Republicans who will appreciate that Flake spoke out against Trump, and then promptly proceeded to vote for every part of the President's legislative agenda? Or the Trumpeters, who will be grateful that they got Flake's vote, even if he was badmouthing their hero at every turn? Or possibly the independents and conservative Democrats, to whom Flake appears to be a spineless flip-flopper? Recall that incumbent senators win reelection at a 90% clip. And even with that in his pocket, while running as a Republican in a red state, Flake decided he had little hope of victory in 2018. If he's unelectable (or nearly so) under those circumstances, how could he possibly win a national election? The answer is, he can't. And if he tries to run anyhow, he will quickly be presented with evidence of that. (Z)

Haley Appears to Have Been Pranked

There is currently a recording making its way around the Internet, and in particular, social media. In this recording, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley—or someone who sounds exactly like her—has a phone conversation with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. No problem, right? After all, it's not unusual for one of America's top diplomats to speak to leader of one of America's top allies.

It's not so simple, though. The first problem is that the person to whom Haley was speaking was not the prime minister of Poland, it was Vladimir Kuznetsov of the Russian comedy team Vovan and Lexus. The second problem is that "Morawiecki" persuaded Haley to expound at length about America's policies regarding the southeast Asian nation of Binomo. The key exchange:

"Morawiecki": Do you know Binomo? They have declared independence. They had elections, and we suppose Russians had its intervention.

Haley: Yes, of course they did, absolutely.

"Morawiecki": And now this Binomo land makes the situation in the South China Sea even more tense.

Haley: And we're aware of that. We've been watching that very closely. And I think we will continue to watch as we deal with the issues that keep coming up about the South China Sea.

Binomo, of course, is not a real country. It's not a place at all—there is no nation, state, region, territory, county, or city in the entire world named "Binomo." Which means that if it really is Nikki Haley on the phone call, she just made clear that, when push comes to shove, she's happy to make up U.S. policy on the spot. (Z)

Trump Killed Christmas

Today, of course, Christmas will be celebrated in much of the world. One notable exception, at least this year, is Nazareth. That, of course, is the city that put the 'Christ' in 'Christmas' by serving as the hometown of Jesus. On Thursday, Nazareth mayor Ali Salam declared that Donald Trump's announcement that Jerusalem is the official capital of Israel has spoiled this year's celebration. "The decision has taken away the joy of the holiday," said Salam, "and we will thus cancel festivities this year." 88% of the population of Nazareth, including Salam, is Muslim. So, the gesture will likely be met with wide approval, at least locally.

Meanwhile, back home, there's also likely to be much sadness in Trumpville, because the President's website has sold out of official MAGA Christmas hats. This despite the fact that the special Christmas edition hat sells for $45, almost double the cost of a non-Christmas MAGA hat ($25). Jesus had a few things to say about greed, like,"Keep your lives free from the love of money." But clearly that doesn't matter, because he's sad and a loser. After all, his hometown doesn't even celebrate his birthday. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec24 Trump Builds His Wall, But out of Red Tape
Dec24 Trump Takes Shots at FBI
Dec24 White House Staff Could Soon Look Very Different
Dec24 Bannon for President?
Dec24 EPA Staff Fleeing in Droves
Dec24 Marine Corps Commandant: "Bigass Fight" Coming
Dec24 Trump Coin Screams "DONALD TRUMP"
Dec23 Trump Signs the Tax Bill
Dec23 Trump Aides Talk Him Out of Holding News Conference
Dec23 Tax Law Could Change How Many Americans Work and Live
Dec23 Trump's Political Advisers Argue with Each Other
Dec23 Conservative Groups Are Planning Massive Marketing Effort to Sell the Tax Plan
Dec23 Ethics Case Against Trump Thrown Out
Dec23 More People Approve of Mueller than Disapprove
Dec23 Polling, Trump Style
Dec23 California Will Be Ground Zero for House Battles in 2018
Dec22 Thad Cochran May Resign Next Year
Dec22 Republican Control of the Senate is Hanging by a Thread
Dec22 Congress Votes to Kick the Can into January
Dec22 Copy of Deciding Ballot in Virginia Obtained
Dec22 It's Trump Against the U.N.
Dec22 What Will the Consequences of the Tax Bill Be?
Dec21 Congress Passes the Tax Bill
Dec21 Winners and Losers from the Tax Bill
Dec21 Taxpayers Won't Know How the Bill Affects Them Until after the Midterms
Dec21 Obamacare Is Not Dead and Gone
Dec21 Next Up: Big Problems
Dec21 Democrats Open Huge Lead on Generic Congressional Poll
Dec21 Virginia House of Delegates Race Is an Exact Tie
Dec21 Nadler Will Succeed Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee
Dec21 White House Takes Petitions Offline
Dec20 House, Senate Pass Tax Bill
Dec20 Mystery Solved? Maybe "Corker Kickback" Was Actually "Hatch Kickback"
Dec20 Trump Could Do Something Worse Than Fire Mueller: Fire Rosenstein
Dec20 James Clapper: Putin is Handling Trump Like an Asset
Dec20 Of Dreamers and Fences
Dec20 Democrats Have a Southern Strategy of Their Own
Dec20 Democrats May Have Ended Republican Control of the Virginia House of Delegates
Dec20 Voters Hate Their 2016 Choices Even More Today Than a Year Ago
Dec20 Disney World Unveils "Donald Trump"
Dec19 House Will Vote on the Tax Bill Today
Dec19 Tax Bill Could Cost Over $2 Trillion
Dec19 What Are the Republicans Thinking?
Dec19 Many Big Fights Expected in Congress This Week
Dec19 Why Are Trump's Allies Attacking Mueller?
Dec19 Trump Lays Out National Security Strategy
Dec19 U.N. Vote Isolates the U.S. Even More
Dec19 People Die in Train Wreck; Trump Searches for Angle
Dec19 Another Judicial Nominee Bites the Dust
Dec18 Trump Is Not Considering Firing Mueller