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

Leigh Corfman Gives Her First Television Interview

Leigh Corfman, who claims Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her when she was 14, gave her first television interview yesterday to NBC. Here is a link to the interview. She confirmed all the details of the original Washington Post story, including the fact that she is a lifelong Republican and that the Post found her rather than her going to the Post. She also said she has not been paid by anyone for the story and is only coming forward now to be an advocate for other women who were in the same situation.

Moore will have an increasingly difficult time denying what happened now that two women have gone on the record and given convincing statements on television detailing his alleged actions. Actually, he is not even trying to refute the women any more. He is basically hiding now, rather than campaigning in public. He has no public events scheduled this week. Oddly enough, his opponent, Doug Jones (D), is also avoiding appearing in public, but for the opposite reason. A general rule in politics is when your opponent is busy shooting himself in the foot, get out of the way. Jones is assuming that interviews like Corfman's will damage Moore even more, and he wants to let just that play out without any interference. Jones is not just sitting around at home, though. He is working very hard behind the scenes to encourage Democratic-leaning groups, especially black voters, to show up for the Dec. 12 special election. (V)

Kellyanne Conway Wants Moore's Vote on Taxes

Until Monday, the White House largely avoided taking a position on Roy Moore, beyond "let he people of Alabama decide." In an interview with "Fox & Friends" on Monday, however, Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway struck out in a new direction, claiming that Roy Moore's sexual predation is no big deal compared to that of Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN), and that the administration would be delighted to have the aspiring senator's vote in support of the GOP tax plan.

It is not clear if this represents a change in Donald Trump's position, or if Conway just went rogue and/or stuck her foot in her mouth. However, if the administration sticks with this, it would surely be disastrous. The Republican tax plan is not popular, and Moore is positively toxic. One can already see the commercials: "The Republicans so badly want to give corporations a tax break, they're willing to look the other way on a child molester!" It will be interesting to see if Sarah Huckabee Sanders, et al. walk it back today. (Z)

GOP Tax Plan Gets Another Bad Review

Congress' nonpartisan budget analysis arm, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), has already weighed in with a less-than-stellar review of the GOP tax plan, predicting that it would increase the debt by $1.7 trillion in 10 years. Now, a second nonpartisan analyst, the Tax Policy Center (TPC), has piped up, and they don't like it any better.

To start, the TPC projects that the Republican plan will increase the debt by about $1.3 trillion in the next decade. Their number differs from the CBO for two reasons; the TPC attempts to estimate the additional growth/tax revenue that will be generated (they guess $169 billion) while the CBO does not, and the CBO includes the cost of debt servicing while the TPC does not. The upshot is that the Republicans are perilously close to the $1.5 trillion maximum additional debt that is legal if they use the current budget reconciliation resolution, and at the same time they are very, very far away from a situation where the growth triggered by the tax cut covers all loss of revenues, despite Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) and Donald Trump's claims to the contrary.

The other bad news in the TPC report is that, by 2027, 50% of taxpayers will see their tax bills increase. Given that 46% of Americans pay no federal income tax (because they don't earn enough), that means that tens of millions of American taxpayers will ultimately be saddled with higher taxes and/or a higher national debt for the benefit of the very wealthy. Needless to say, that is not the kind of math that wins elections, and the more time that goes by and the more such reports that are released, the higher the odds that some Republicans start to get skittish. (Z)

Another Woman Accuses Franken

The furor over Al Franken being photographed and smiling for the camera while pretending to grope a (possibly) sleeping woman had barely died down when another woman has come forward with a story. This one, Lindsay Menz, says that she was attending the Minnesota state fair in 2010 with her husband. Menz said that while her husband was taking a photo of Menz and Franken, he put his hand on her rear. At the time, Menz didn't say anything to Franken and her husband didn't do anything.

What is noteworthy in comparing the Moore and Franken incidents is that the women who have come forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate behavior are all lifelong Republicans, so they are presumably not doing it for partisan purposes. In contrast, Franken's first accuser, Leeann Tweeden, is a high-profile Trump supporter (she has her own talk-radio show) and has appeared on Sean Hannity's program several times. Menz isn't famous, but she is also a Republican and voted for Trump. When confirmed Republicans accuse Republican politicians of misbehavior it is more convincing than when they accuse Democrats of misbehavior. Of course, if a lifelong Democrat were to accuse Franken of inappropriate behavior, that would be much clearer evidence of it being truthful.

That particular logic appears to have occurred to the right-leaning New York Post, which published photos of Franken on Monday under the headline, "Newly surfaced pics show Al Franken grabbing Arianna Huffington's breasts and butt." Huffington is not a lifelong Democrat, but since 2004 or so she's been a very prominent member of the Party. One fly in the ointment, however: Huffington says that nothing untoward happened, and that the photos show she and Franken performing a comedic sketch from "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher." This development certainly does nothing to allay suspicions that there may be something fishy about the allegations against the Minnesota Senator, and that maybe he's being targeted by hostile actors on the right. The fact the Republican operative Roger Stone knew about Tweeden's charge before it was public tends to support the idea that Tweeden came forward for reasons other than helping victims of abuse. (V & Z)

Two Journalists Accused of Harassment

While the various allegations against Al Franken have raised a few questions, there's little doubt about two prominent journalists who got outed this week as long-time purveyors of inappropriate sexual conduct. The first is Democrat and longtime television host Charlie Rose, who has been accused by eight different women of Harvey Weinstein-like behavior, such as inappropriate touching, lewd phone calls, unwanted sexual advances, and walking around naked in their presence. Rose denies the charges, but—like Roy Moore—he has no explanation for how so many different women who don't know one another managed to tell almost identical stories of bad conduct. Rose has been suspended from his various TV duties on PBS and CBS; it would be a surprise if he ever returns.

The other journalist to find himself in hot water is former Politico and current New York Times superstar reporter Glenn Thrush, also a Democrat (though nominally so). He's been accused of groping three women. In contrast to Rose, Thrush is taking semi-ownership of his behavior, though he's blaming it on liquor. He has been suspended by the Times while he goes to alcohol rehab. It's possible, given the booze issues and the less-bad-than-Rose behavior, that Thrush eventually resumes his career, though nobody's committing to anything right now. Given that the Times in general, and Thrush in particular, have been nemeses of Donald Trump, it would be a major surprise if the President doesn't take a Twitter potshot sometime in the next day or so. (Z)

Trump Administration Working Hard to Fulfill Anti-Immigrant Agenda

One of the major planks of Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency was nativism, as he promised all manner of initiatives that would curtail immigration to the United States, and even dramatically reduce the number of immigrants already in the country. Thus far, Trump's highest-profile maneuvers on this front have not worked out terribly well. The Mexican wall was a long shot at best, and now it's looking about as likely as Jared Kushner bringing peace to the Middle East on the same day he solves America's opioid crisis. The Muslim travel ban, meanwhile, is largely stalled unless the administration can convince the Supreme Court to consider the matter. And on Monday, a federal judge effectively struck down the President's attempt to deny federal funding to "sanctuary cities."

In view of these various failures and setbacks, Team Trump is looking desperately for some way to deliver on The Donald's campaign promises. And so, it's surely not a coincidence that on the same day as the sanctuary cities ruling, the administration announced that 58,700 Haitian refugees in the United States would no longer be given special status by the federal government. This means they have to find some other basis for claiming residency, or else they have to pack up and return home within 18 months. Earlier this month, 5,300 Nicaraguans received the same news, while 263,000 Salvadoreans could be on the chopping block in January, and 86,000 Hondurans could follow in May. Immigrant-rights advocates are none-too-happy about the decision, and are exploring legal options, but their hands may be tied. This seems to be a pretty cynical way to pander to the base, particularly since these folks became refugees for a reason, but desperate times apparently call for desperate measures. (Z)

McMaster Said Trump's Intelligence is Comparable to that of a Kindergartner

At a private dinner last July with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, NSA Herbert McMaster mocked Donald Trump's intelligence, saying he was comparable to a kindergartner. He also called Trump an "idiot" and a "dope." Five sources have confirmed the story. A sixth source, who was not at the dinner, said that McMaster had made similar remarks to him. A spokesman for the National Security Council has said the comments represent the opposite of what McMaster really thinks.

This is not the first time a high-ranking official has said something like this and had it go public. NBC and other news outlets have reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron" last July. Tillerson denied it. At one time, the term "moron" referred to someone with an IQ of 51-70 whereas an idiot was someone in the range 0-25. The terms are now deprecated. (V)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti May Run for President

A sitting mayor has never been elected president. Neither had a real estate tycoon, until last year. Now that the second barrier has been breached, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may try to tackle the first one in 2020. Garcetti has traveled to New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada, not obvious places for a Los Angeles mayor to show up. Does Garcetti want to set up a trade agreement between Los Angeles and New Hampshire? Governors run for president all the time and if Los Angeles (with a population of 4 million) were a state, it would be between Oregon and Oklahoma in population, ahead of 23 states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, and Iowa.

Garcetti is clearly testing the waters. And unlike Donald Trump in 2015, he is an actual politician who has run successful campaigns before. One of Garcetti's strongest points is that the leading Democrats considering a 2020 run are now all in their late 60s or 70s. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will be 71 on inauguration day 2021; Joe Biden will be 78; Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 79. Garcetti could run as a generational change candidate as he would be 49 if inaugurated. He is not alone, though, not even among California politicians. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will be 56 in 2021 and is also considering a run. One thing that could help Garcetti (and Harris) enormously is that California has moved its 2020 primary to early March. A big win then would give a California candidate a huge bundle of delegates and enormous publicity. This has to be a factor that candidates from other states have to consider. (V)

Virginia House of Delegates Still Up in the Air

In Virginia earlier this month, a Democratic tidal wave came crashing down on the shoals of an entrenched Republican majority in the state's House of Delegates. Now, nearly two weeks later, the dust is still settling, and it is not clear which party will control the lower chamber of the Virginia legislature.

There are a couple of issues that are keeping the drama going. First, it was discovered that 83 (or more) voters were incorrectly assigned from the 28th House District to the 88th. The 88th is not in doubt, but the 28th still is, with Republican Robert Thomas clinging to an 82-vote lead. While state officials work things out, they have decided not to certify either result as yet, and even when they do there will certainly be a recount in the 28th district. There will also be recounts in two other districts—the 40th and 94th, which currently have margins of 106 votes and 10 votes.

At the moment, the Republicans have the lead in all three close races. If they hold on, then the GOP will control the House of Delegates by a razor-thin 51-49 margin. If the Democrats can steal one of the three, they will have to work out a power-sharing arrangement, and if they can grab two, they will control the House. Whatever happens, though, the major impact of the Virginia election won't change: The Democrats are really liking their chances in 2018, while the Republicans are lamenting theirs. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov20 Alabama's Biggest Newspapers Endorse Jones
Nov20 Moore Is Already Affecting the 2018 Races
Nov20 Franken Won't Resign
Nov20 Seven Senators Are on the Fence on the Tax Bill
Nov20 White House: Tax Bill Trumps Repealing Obamacare
Nov20 Republicans Desperately Want the Tax Bill to Pass; Democrats, Too
Nov20 Trump Fires Back at Ball
Nov20 How to Keep Trump Happy? Lie to Him
Nov20 NRCC Lottery Offers a Weekend at Trump's Hotel in D.C. as the Prize
Nov19 Trump Jr. Linked to Yet Another Friend of Putin
Nov19 What is Donald Trump's Foreign Policy?
Nov19 USA No Longer Number One
Nov19 Trump's Ability to Launch Nukes May Be Limited
Nov19 Donald Trump to Pay Donald Trump's Legal Bills
Nov19 Alabama Pastors Slam Moore
Nov19 It's Ball Vs. Trump
Nov18 Murkowski Wants to Stabilize Health-Care Market Before Voting on Tax Bill
Nov18 Russiagate Plot Thickens Even More
Nov18 Trump Building in Panama Under Scrutiny
Nov18 Jones' Strategy in the Alabama Senate Race
Nov18 Moore's Polling Is Trending Downward
Nov18 Would a 51-49 Senate Be Different from a 52-48 Senate?
Nov18 Cook Political Report Predicts a Democratic Wave in 2018
Nov18 Female Staffers Rush to Franken's Rescue
Nov18 Aides Give Up on Trump Tweeting
Nov17 House Passes the Tax Bill
Nov17 More Trouble for Kushner
Nov17 Six Possible Outcomes for the Alabama Senate Race, Ranked
Nov17 Not Everyone Is Fleeing from Roy Moore
Nov17 Republicans Are Getting Nervous about 2018
Nov17 Menendez Escapes--For Now
Nov17 Franken Groped and Kissed a Woman Without Her Consent
Nov16 Health-Care Industry Gets Involved in the Tax Bill
Nov16 First Republican Senator Opposes the Tax Bill
Nov16 Former Defense Secretaries Oppose the Tax Bill
Nov16 Moore Saga Continues to Develop Rapidly
Nov16 Could the Republicans Try a Constitutional Hail Mary?
Nov16 NRSC Poll Shows Jones Up by 12 Points
Nov16 Bannon Sees the Republican Party as a Headless Chicken
Nov16 Lots of Blowback on Potential Uranium Investigation
Nov16 Kaine Wants to Abolish Superdelegates
Nov16 Trump Wades into UCLA Basketball Controversy
Nov16 Russian Trolls Stoked Voter Fear before the Election
Nov15 Senate Tax Bill Will Repeal ACA Mandate
Nov15 Sessions Has Trouble Remembering Things
Nov15 Five Ways the Alabama Senate Race Could End
Nov15 How Will Trump Handle Moore?
Nov15 Republican National Committee Drops Moore
Nov15 Hannity Is Feeling the Heat
Nov15 Alabama Democrats to National Democrats: Stay Out of This