Biden 306
image description
Trump 232
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 50
image description
GOP 50
image description
  • Strongly Dem (209)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (79)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (44)
  • Likely GOP (62)
  • Strongly GOP (126)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2017 2013 2009
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2016: AZ GA MI PA WI
GOP pickups vs. 2016: (None)
Political Wire logo House Democrats Pass Sweeping Elections Bill
GOP Governors Loom Over Precarious Senate
White House Primes Pipeline of Federal Judges
GOP Lawmaker Says Face Masks Can Damage Souls
Newspaper Seeks to Unseal Warrant for Burr’s Phone
Pompeo Won’t Rule Out 2024 White House Bid

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Abbott Pulls a Snow Job
      •  Today's (Probably) The Day
      •  Tomorrow's the Day
      •  Fox N' Crocks
      •  You Win Some...
      •  ...and You Lose Some

Abbott Pulls a Snow Job

When it comes to progress being made in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) has apparently seen what he needs to see. And so, on Tuesday, he announced that as of March 10, pretty much all COVID-related restrictions would be lifted in the Lone Star State. Mask-wearing will no longer be mandated and businesses and facilities will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity. "To be clear, COVID has not suddenly disappeared," Abbott helpfully noted while making the announcement.

Abbott's political calculation could not be clearer here. He took a lot of damage as a result of the fiascoes surrounding the breakdown of Texas' power infrastructure, and he badly wants to change the narrative. If people can go to Cowboys games, or go have an order of fajitas at Pappasito's, or take in a movie, maybe they'll forget almost freezing to death.

The Governor has also surely noticed that Republican voters, in particular, seem unwilling to hold chief executives responsible for the negative effects of their COVID policies. For example, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) was at CPAC this weekend to brag about what a great job she's done combating the pandemic, despite the fact that her state has the second-most infections per capita of any in the union (only North Dakota is doing worse). To take another example, Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) approach to the pandemic has been borderline criminal, up to and including cooking the numbers to make himself look better, as well as pulling strings to prioritize the wealthy when it comes to vaccine distribution. And yet, according to the CPAC straw poll taken this weekend, he's pretty much the GOP favorite if Donald Trump decides not to run for president in 2024. That would be the same Donald Trump, incidentally, who was also not held accountable for COVID-19 mismanagement by Republican voters.

And so, although Abbott knows full well that the pandemic is still very much in effect, and that his own state is still experiencing an average of more than 7,000 new cases (and more than 200 deaths) every day, he sees plenty of upside and no downside in throwing the doors wide open. That shifts the burden to local officeholders, who are not happy, regardless of their party affiliation. Abbott's order specifically forbids local mask mandates, and so mayors and other municipal officials are operating with one hand tied behind their backs. They may have to wait for a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, then go to a judge and ask for an injunction.

Abbott's reaction, while problematic, is also entirely predictable. We've had at least a week's worth of news stories about how the pandemic is lessening and the numbers are dropping. And so, despite the fact that every single one of those stories carries a "we're not out of the woods yet" caveat, it was only a matter of time until someone (or many someones) pulled the trigger prematurely. Can you imagine if the United States had said, "Ah well, close enough, let's go home!" in February of 1783, or April of 1918, or January of 1945? Perhaps people were made of sterner stuff back then.

In any event, the propensity for some officials (again, mostly Republicans) to declare a premature victory is also putting pressure on the White House. After all, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are not only Democrats, they ran on a promise to do better than Trump did on the COVID-19 front. The administration's best, and perhaps only, path here is to get as many people vaccinated as rapidly as possible. On that point, the White House line has varied widely in the past few weeks, from "sometime in April" to "the end of summer" as the target by which every American can get vaccinated. The latest pronouncement, issued yesterday, is that there will be enough vaccine for every adult in the U.S. by the end of May.

This is actually a plausible target date, now that Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine has been approved for emergency use by the FDA. After all, it's easier to produce one shot than it is to produce two, all other things being equal. The question is whether or not Americans will accept the J&J shot as a satisfactory option, given reports that it's less effective than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That "fact" is actually somewhat misleading, since the J&J trials were conducted later than the Pfizer and Moderna trials were, meaning that J&J trial subjects may have been subject to a wider range of COVID variants than Pfizer and Moderna trial subjects. Further, the J&J vaccine is either equally effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or nearly so, when it comes to combating severe COVID cases (those leading to hospitalization or death). And preventing severe cases is really the goal of vaccines.

The point is that the J&J shot could be a godsend to the Biden administration, allowing for the timeline-to-herd-immunity to be sped up, and making it easier to vaccinate populations that are hard to reach once, much less twice (poor communities, rural communities, minority communities, etc.). That said, if people reject the J&J vaccine because it's "not as good," or if a narrative takes hold that people of color are getting "the crappy vaccine," then there go the best laid plans of mice and Joe. (Z)

Today's (Probably) The Day

The House has already passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Today, the Senate will likely take their turn debating, amending, and eventually voting. We say "likely," because there are a few small matters on which rulings from Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough are still needed. So, it could be late today, or possibly tomorrow.

Since the Republicans are not really a part of the process—a choice that can fairly be attributed to partisans on both sides of the aisle—the real sticking points are areas of disagreement among Democrats. There is some debate over unemployment benefits; moderates would like $300 per week for a longer period of time, while most of the caucus wants $400 per week for a shorter period. And, of course, there is still some discussion over the minimum wage, and whether something can be accomplished on that front while keeping all 50 Democrats plus MacDonough happy.

That said, the clock is ticking. The voting public strongly supports the new relief bill, but is also somewhat cranky that Joe Biden has been in office for more than a month and nothing has been passed. Also, the previous round of increased federal benefits expires on March 14, so that is something of a hard deadline for getting the current bill passed by both houses. There are 7 workdays, including today, left between now and then. So, things will presumably move very quickly. (Z)

Tomorrow's the Day

As you may have read in any of the wave of articles published on the subject in the last week or so, Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, is in deep trouble. To open the hotel, the former president—who apparently knows very little about the art of the deal—signed a sky-high lease and personally guaranteed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The only way that the math could plausibly add up was if the hotel was at full capacity pretty much all the time, while charging 50% more than any other hotel in town. The Trumps sorta managed to make it work while Donald Sr. was president, since he could lean on foreign dignitaries and Republican functionaries to make Trump Washington their hotel of choice. Since then, however, the place has become a ghost town and occupancy rates are...just a wee bit less than 100%, let's say. So, the Trump Organization is losing money hand-over-fist as the due date for the loans gets closer and closer.

Tonight and tomorrow night, however, the glory days will return one more time, perhaps for the last time. And, never having met an opportunity to fleece supporters that they wouldn't take, the Trumps are cashing in, with rooms on those two evenings booking for double or triple their usual rate, anywhere from $1,331 to $8,000 per night. That is because the most fanatical Trumpers of them all will be in town to see their hero inaugurated as the 19th president of the United States.

If you are saying "huh?" at this point, then you are to be congratulated, because it means you have avoided the nonsense that is QAnon. You see, according to that ridiculous conspiracy fantasy, the United States illegally became a corporation in 1871 under the leadership of 18th president Ulysses S. Grant. And during its corporate years (150 of them!), the country illegally changed the date of the inauguration to Jan. 20. And so, what is going to happen tomorrow is that Donald Trump will return to Washington (presumably mounted on a white steed), will smash USA, Inc., and will take the oath of office on the rightful day, as the rightful successor to General Grant.

Of course, anyone who buys into this is neglecting to notice that, if QAnon is correct, Trump himself was an illegal president. They are also overlooking that USA, Inc. had an awfully good run, winning multiple world wars and the Cold War and launching an era of prosperity previously unknown among the world's nations. In any case, we are going to go out on a limb and predict there are going to be a lot of disappointed Trump supporters tomorrow, whose only reward for their troubles will be a much lighter wallet. At that point, they will be left with two options: (1) admit that QAnon is silly nonsense, or (2) decide that this was all a misunderstanding, and that the real date is actually X, where X is some date in the future. You should be able to guess which it will be, but in case you can't, we already know the answer because many prominent QAnoners (QAnonnies? QAnonites? QMorons?) are already pooh-poohing March 4, and putting their chips on March 20. We're sure that when March 21 arrives, and Joe Biden is still the 46th president, that will be the end of it, though. Right? (Z)

Fox N' Crocks

On more than one occasion, we have mentioned that (Z) has written about urban legends and conspiracy theories, and has also taught courses about those subjects. However, he's never quite seen anything like what happened on Tuesday, where the conservative outrage machine managed to birth a full-fledged cancel-culture conspiracy theory in the span of something like 6 hours. Usually it takes a little (or a lot) longer than that.

At the center of the faux controversy was one Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Seuss was (and is) a beloved author of colorful, usually rhyming children's books. He was born on March 2, and for that reason the National Education Association (NEA) decided to use that date for "Read Across America Day" when that initiative was launched back in 1998. Customarily, presidents from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump mentioned Seuss in their "Read Across America Day" proclamations, given the connection between the man and the event. However, Seuss was also a white guy, and one who does not need free publicity, as his works sell in the millions of copies each year. And so, back in 2017, the NEA made a conscious decision to de-emphasize the good doctor in favor of lesser-known, often minority authors.

Seuss also has some other black marks against him that probably factored into the NEA's decision, even if they did not make a point of noting them. During World War II, he worked as a cartoonist. And, consistent with the expectations of that day, he produced many propagandistic cartoons that supported the war effort and portrayed the Japanese (in particular) in very stereotypical terms. For example:

Hideki Tojo is pictured alongside
Adolf Hitler, and is shown with squinty eyes, buck teeth, and a piglike nose.

Seuss also portrayed Black Americans and Jews in problematic ways in his cartoons, on occasion. And in his postwar work, his prejudices—particularly against Asians—sometimes continued to show themselves.

Anyhow, that sets the stage for what happened yesterday. There were two bits of "real" news on this front. The first was that Joe Biden issued the usual Read Across America Day proclamation. Consistent with recent precedent, it does not mention Seuss. In fact, it does not mention any authors whatsoever. The second is that the executors of the literary estate of Dr. Seuss (note italics) announced that they would allow six Seuss books ("And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," "If I Ran the Zoo," "McElligot's Pool," "On Beyond Zebra!," "Scrambled Eggs Super!" and "The Cat's Quizzer") to fall out of print due to potentially offensive imagery contained within the volumes.

Here is the headline on Fox News as they "covered" the story:

The headline is: 'Biden erases Dr. Seuss from Read Across America proclamation as progressives seek to cancel beloved author'

This was hardly the only mention of the alleged controversy. Other headlines on Fox included:

  • Dr. Seuss didn't have 'a racist bone' in his body, stepdaughter says
  • Leo Terrell on Dr. Seuss controversy: 'What those books reflected was a sign of the times'
  • Psaki won't say why Dr. Seuss was dropped from Biden reading proclamation
  • Republicans blast Biden, progressives for 'trying to cancel Dr. Seuss'
  • Dr. Seuss flap: The pointlessness of imposing wokeness on the past

In case anyone missed Fox News' "reporting," they have helpfully added a "cancel culture" tag to their repertoire so that you can get all their coverage of this important issue in one place. And in addition to posting more than a dozen stories on their website, every single Fox show yesterday had multiple segments on the "controversy," adding up to something like 30 segments across the broadcast day, and including commentary from such learned experts as Charlie Kirk, Donald Trump Jr., Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), and pro wrestler Tyrus. The award for over-the-top comment of the day, however, surely goes to Mr. Over-the-Top himself, Tucker Carlson, who decreed "If we lose this battle, America is lost." Who knew that the entire country is resting on an oh-so-fragile foundation of green eggs and ham?

Hopefully it is clear at this point that a controversy of this sort cannot unfold in this manner—and with this rapidity—in an organic fashion. The folks at Fox knew full well what was going to happen yesterday, and they entered the day locked and loaded and ready to make hay out of it. Never mind that they had to grossly distort the truth (that's par for the course for them, after all).

And, while we are at it, never mind the hypocrisy on display. After all, what actually happened yesterday is that private interests made a decision about what to do with their property; the free market is something that Fox claims to support. Oh, and this is before we talk about the fact that this is the same channel that lambasted Fred Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Rogers), calling him an "evil, evil man" because he encouraged children to develop high self-esteem (something that the folks on Fox & Friends believe led to the creation of a soft, self-involved generation). You might even say that Fox tried to cancel Mr. Rogers.

And finally, as long as we're going through our critiques, let us also observe that Fox consistently displays a staggering lack of intelligence. For example, the "evil" Mr. Rogers was a lifelong registered Republican and an ordained minister, and while he did encourage kids' self-esteem, he also emphasized the importance of morality and personal responsibility. Plus, the generation he had the most influence over (Generation X, as his show was mostly on in the 1970s and 1980s) is a different generation from the one the Fox & Friends crew don't approve of (the Millennials).

Meanwhile, Seuss—the man whose works are apparently the bedrock of American society—was a liberal Democrat whose works commonly used allegory to critique Republican politics and politicians. For example "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!," published in August of 1972, is a very thinly veiled comment on the Watergate scandal, and might as well have been called "Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!" (if not for the fact that "Nixon" doesn't really rhyme with much of anything). To take another example, "The Sneetches" is a story about how birdlike creatures called Sneetches that have a green star on their bellies are part of the "in crowd," while those without are arbitrarily shunned. Published in July 1953, it was a clear statement, both in support of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, and against McCarthyism. But it also works pretty darn well as a comment on Trumpism, even if Seuss wasn't around to see the 45th president, having died in 1991.

Anyhow, the ultimate conclusion here is this: Fox grows more and more rudderless by the day, it seems. They have a not-great target in the White House these days, and they are trying desperately to hold on to both Trumpy Republicans and non-Trumpy Republicans. And so, they cook up "controversies" that are not only dishonest and in bad faith, but that make them look silly and ignorant. (Z)

You Win Some...

Yet another member of Joe Biden's cabinet has been confirmed. This time it's venture capitalist and (now-former) governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo, who will take her seat as Secretary of Commerce. Like most of Biden's cabinet officials, she'll have her hands full trying to improve a shaky economy, and trying to rebuild relationships that were damaged by Donald Trump and his team.

At this point, the most interesting thing about most of the confirmations is what excuse Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Rick Scott (R-FL) will use to justify their "nay" votes, and to obscure the fact that their real concern is to curry favor with Republican primary voters in 2024. In fact, here's a quiz for you. Which of these reasons did Cruz give for voting against Raimondo?

  1. She is "too soft on China."
  2. She is "a typical tax-and-spend liberal who will be hostile to America's small business owners."
  3. She is "a closet Antifa supporter."
  4. She is "an East Coast elitist who doesn't understand the challenges of Middle America."
  5. She is "an environmentalist fanatic who will try to implement the Green New Deal, legal or not."

While you think about it, we'll note that there are now 10 of 15 cabinet officers in place, and 13 of 23 cabinet-level officers, with AG-designate Merrick Garland likely to be the next to be approved. And Cruz's excuse for not voting for Raimondo was actually the first one, though would any of the five really have been a surprise? (Z)

...and You Lose Some

Gina Raimondo and a dozen others may have made the cut with the Senate, but Joe Biden is not going to bat 1.000. That is because, on Tuesday, he was forced to bow to reality and pull the nomination of Neera Tanden to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. She was too liberal for the tastes of many senators, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), despite the fact that many of the same folks voted for Mick Mulvaney, who is considerably more right-wing than Tanden is left-wing. Of course, Mulvaney never sent any mean tweets, so there is that. Note also that we originally typed that previous sentence as "too liberal for the testes of many senators." Typo, or Freudian slip? You can decide for yourself.

This is a bit of an embarrassment for Biden, but there are also some silver linings here. Now that Manchin has taken a stand on Tanden, he has cover to vote for Secretary of the Interior-designate Deb Haaland and, probably, HHS Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra. Meanwhile, the President will get (some of) the credit for nominating a progressive to his cabinet, but will also get to make another pick, thus allowing him to accommodate some other constituency. And if he really wants Tanden on Team Biden, which he does, he can just hire her for a non-Senate-approved job in the White House. In the end, she'll likely end up doing much of the same work she would have done as OMB director.

The likely successor to Tanden is Shalanda Young, who was in line to be deputy director of OMB, and who impressed in her confirmation hearings. Young spent 14 years as a staffer for the House Committee on Appropriations, so she's clearly well qualified for the job. And Senate Republicans, particularly Lindsey Graham (R-SC), fell all over themselves praising her, presumably to emphasize that they are not unreasonable and they are not racist (Young is Black). It would appear that Young doesn't even have a Twitter account, so there's no issue there. We wouldn't be terribly surprised if she not only is nominated in place of Tanden, but that the nomination comes down sometime in the next 48 hours. (Z)

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar02 What's Good for the Goose Isn't Necessarily What's Good for the Gander
Mar02 Biden Gets Another Cabinet Member, but Still No "Yea" Vote from Hawley
Mar02 A Tale of Two Speeches
Mar02 Two More Politicians Tease Senate Runs
Mar02 Census Delays Will Make Things a Little Messy
Mar02 Cuomo's in Deep Trouble
Mar02 Sarkozy's in Deeper Trouble
Mar01 Trump Wins Election
Mar01 Poll: Swing Voters Like the COVID-19 Relief Bill
Mar01 Republicans Are Hard at Work Making Voting Harder
Mar01 Trump Is Messing Up the Map
Mar01 Senate Primaries Are in Full Swing
Mar01 Trump Will Create a Revenge Super PAC
Mar01 Other Republicans Are Setting Up an Anti-Revenge Super PAC
Mar01 Democrats Are Winning the Twitter War
Feb28 Sunday Mailbag
Feb27 Saturday Q&A
Feb26 MacDonough to Schumer: "Sorry, Charlie!"
Feb26 Biden's Team Is Being Put in Place...Slowly
Feb26 House Passes Equality Act
Feb26 McConnell Says He Would "Absolutely" Back Trump in 2024
Feb26 CPAC Begins Today
Feb26 The Horse Is Officially out of the Barn
Feb26 Governors in Hot Water
Feb25 Manchin Will Back Haaland
Feb25 DNC Will Get Involved in Midterms
Feb25 Postmaster General DeJoy May Soon Get a Special Delivery Letter
Feb25 Secretaries of State Are Hot
Feb25 Net Neutrality Scores a Big Win in California
Feb25 Democrats Might Make a Huge Unforced Error That Could Cost Them Next Year
Feb25 Virginia Gubernatorial Election Is Often a Bellwether
Feb25 Rush Limbaugh and the Battle of the Flags in Florida
Feb25 O'Rourke Is Back
Feb25 Democrats Introduce a Bill to Strip Presidents Convicted of a Felony of Their Pension
Feb24 COVID-19 Bill Will Be a One-Party Show
Feb24 Putting 500,000 in Context
Feb24 Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Feb24 Perdue Chickens Out
Feb24 Texas Democratic Postmortem Is In
Feb24 Gonna Turn My Red State...Blue
Feb24 They Were Trump Before Trump, Part III: Henry Ward Beecher
Feb23 SCOTUS Pokes Trump in Both Eyes
Feb23 Tanden in Deep Trouble, Haaland Not Far Behind
Feb23 Garland Is in the Clear
Feb23 Sanders and Co. Work to Save Minimum Wage Hike
Feb23 Florida Republicans Apparently Have Their Candidate
Feb23 Low Blows on Joe
Feb23 Dominion Voting Systems to Go to the Mattress with MyPillow Guy
Feb22 COVID-19 Death Toll in U.S. Hits Half a Million
Feb22 Garland to Appear before Senate Judiciary Committee Today