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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump's Got Trouble... And He Knows It
      •  Top Gov's Stunt Appears to Have Crashed and Burned
      •  Women's Vote Is Surging, at Least in Some States
      •  Cheney 2024 Would Help Trump 2024
      •  Blake Masters Is Running Quite the Campaign
      •  Today's Ratfu**ing News

Trump's Got Trouble... And He Knows It

The (redacted) Mar-a-Lago affidavit is out, of course. And, in a development roughly as predictable as finding a BMW parked in the USC parking lot, its promulgation has not been helpful for Donald Trump.

There are a number of revelations in the 38-page document, but the two that stand out are as follows. First, the handling of the documents was about as haphazard as is possible (and as haphazard as you would expect from Team Trump). Nothing was properly secured, non-classified materials were mixed with classified materials—it was a real mess.

The second revelation is that the former president most definitely had some really, really delicate stuff. There were documents in the collection labeled HCS, SI, FISA, ORCON, and NOFORN. What do those things mean?

  • HCS, or HUMINT Control System, is information gathered by spies, and may contain clues as to the spies' identities.

  • SI is special intelligence, and refers to communications intercepted from foreign governments.

  • FISA also includes foreign intercepts, but those who have gone through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

  • ORCON means "Originator-Controlled." Those documents cannot be shown to anyone, regardless of their clearance, without permission of the agency that originated the document.

  • NOFORN documents are those that cannot be given to foreign governments under any circumstances.

In other words, the former president didn't just steal a few birthday cards from Kim Jong-Un.

Writing for Politico, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti opines that Trump has been caught dead-to-rights. Mariotti compares The Donald's offense to being caught with illegal drugs. In the end, it basically doesn't matter how you ended up with the illegal documents/drugs, or even if you didn't know you had them. Just being in possession is all that really matters. That means, in turn, that the most common "defenses" don't work, because they are desperate Hail Mary passes. For example, "the DEA planted the drugs" and/or "the FBI planted the documents" rarely, rarely fly. (And yes, an actual Hail Mary pass is an offensive play, not a defensive one. So sue us.)

On top of that, this weekend, Jon Karl appeared on ABC's This Week and reiterated that Trump's lawyer situation remains dire. Here are his exact words:

Publicly, what they're saying is this is rallying Republicans to Trump's defense. This makes it more likely that he will run for president, more likely that he will win the Republican nomination. Campaigning against this political action by the FBI and the DOJ.

Privately, they are really concerned. And one of the big concerns here is that Trump has nobody defending him. If you look at his legal team, it is comically inept and inexperienced. All of the big names who defended him through the first two impeachments, through the Mueller investigation, they are gone. There is real concern that he needs to bring in a heavy hitting criminal defense attorney.

I know of several that have been approached who have said no. I even know of one prominent criminal defense attorney who was approached who didn't even return the phone call.

Perhaps Trump can coax Ty Cobb out of retirement. Or, failing that, maybe there's an attorney somewhere out there named Pete Rose.

And we don't need to take Karl's word for it that Trump knows he's got problems. Trump has been communicating that himself, in his own inimitable way, by going bat**it crazy on his social media platform. Since the affidavit was released, he has:

  • Demanded that he be declared president, or else that a new election be held immediately
  • Suggested that FBI agents revolt against Director Chris Wray
  • Threatened that there will be riots in the streets
  • Obsessed over Hunter Biden

Is this an attempt to gin up the base? To create a distraction? To cope with scary feelings? We don't know; his psychology is inscrutable. But it's absolutely characteristic of his reaction whenever he's feeling under the gun. And he's definitely under the gun right now. Multiple guns, in fact. (Z)

Top Gov's Stunt Appears to Have Crashed and Burned

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), by all indications, has very little interest in actual governance. For him, politics is war and he's an ambitious general looking to be promoted up the ladder. To that end, he's contrived all manner of stunts whose purpose is to hurt Democrats, to add fuel to the culture wars, to bring attention to himself, or to do all of the above.

If you're going to be a stunt politician—and he's hardly the first one—then, at bare minimum, you better make sure your stunts don't blow up in your face. Last week, we wrote about his latest "masterpiece," which was his announcement that Florida had uncovered 20 felons who voted illegally, and was going to prosecute them to the full extent of the law, in hopes of securing the maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

We were certainly not impressed when this news first broke. As a reminder, here was our assessment:

Let us now poke some giant holes in this vile political theater. First of all, DeSantis himself so thoroughly muddied the waters after ex-felons were, then weren't, then maybe were, then maybe weren't given the right to vote again that any "fraudulent" ballots were surely honest mistakes. Second, Florida has a population of over 21 million people. That being the case, 20 votes are not enough to affect any election, even the race for deputy assistant dogcatcher in Sticksville. Third, when four people in The Villages (a.k.a. a Republican stronghold) were caught casting actual fraudulent votes for Donald Trump, DeSantis said nary a word.

As it turns out, we may have been too charitable. You see, the 20 felons all registered to vote. Their registrations were approved by local elections officials, and in most cases the alleged wrongdoers were sent election-related paperwork, like sample ballots. Some of them even double-checked with people in positions of authority to make sure they were on the right side of the law.

Now, if state law disqualifies some people based on their criminal records, shouldn't someone be cross-checking for that? Yes, someone should. And in Florida, that job is the responsibility of... the state government. Those would be the same people who work directly for DeSantis. And who approved the registrations.

We can see only three possible interpretations here, from least to most damning:

  1. This situation was a result of DeSantis administration incompetence, the Governor didn't bother to take a careful look at things before making his announcement, and now it's blown up in his face.

  2. This situation was a result of DeSantis administration incompetence, the Governor knew that his people had dropped the ball, and he moved forward anyhow in search of those oh-so-important culture wars points.

  3. The DeSantis administration deliberately set these 20 folks up to get busted.

Readers will make their own judgments, of course, but we think #2 and #3 are considerably more likely than #1. And, if so, that would mean that the Governor was willing to send 20 people—most of them Black, "coincidentally"—to prison for years just so he could get a couple of days' worth of helpful headlines. Not out of character for him; many Floridians are now dead because of policies he pursued in relation to COVID-19. We try to be evenhanded around here, but sometimes you gotta call a shovel a shovel. And this is a very dangerous and frightening man. (Z)

Women's Vote Is Surging, at Least in Some States

Reader J.L. in Amsterdam, NY brings to our attention an item from The New York Times that escaped our notice. It comes from number-crunchers Francesca Paris and Nate Cohn, and makes clear that the Dobbs decision has motivated women in many states to get themselves registered to vote.

The duo examined 10 states in all; here are the numbers they came up with, comparing the percentage of new registrants who are women before and after Dobbs:

Candidate ♀ Before ♀ After Shift
Kansas 49% 65% +15.9 pts.
Ohio 47% 54% +6.4
Pennsylvania 49% 56% +6.2
Idaho 49% 55% +5.5
Oklahoma 48% 51% +3.2
Alabama 49% 52% +2.9
Maine 51% 53% +2.3
Florida 50% 52% +2.3
North Carolina 51% 52% +0.8
New Mexico 46% 47% +0.5

If we were a Republican operative or, say, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), we would find these numbers pretty distressing (especially when combined with the abortion map we ran yesterday):

  • Women's registration is up everywhere.

  • Per the article, in those states where registration is by party, the new women registrants are breaking 55% Democratic, 44% Republican.

  • Clearly, direct attacks on abortion rights increase the number of women registrants. Surely Democrats were already planning to get abortion initiatives on the ballot whenever and wherever possible; this just affirms that strategy.

  • If Ron DeSantis decides to go for a harsher law than Florida already has, he might regret it. Of course, given who his base is, he might also regret it if he doesn't.

  • Ohio and Pennsylvania are, of course, swing states with key U.S. Senate races this year. And Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) are both outspokenly pro-choice.

  • Gov. Laura Kelly (D-KS) might just survive. Her opponent, Derek Schmidt (R), is trying hard to finesse things on his website; here's his statement on abortion rights: "Our Kansas values are at the center of what makes our state great. As the Far Left and its Woke ideology wage an all out attack on our nation's moral fabric, Kansas must remain a state that puts things like faith, family, and freedom first, just as we have since our founding." You might notice that there's no actual policy position there, but we suspect Kansas women voters are going to be able to figure out where he stands.

  • The Times' numbers only speak to new registrations, and not to already-registered voters. And among already-registered voters, there are more women, and women are more likely to vote than men.

It's certainly going to be an interesting election. And if the Republicans blow the lay-up they were handed because they went too far too fast with abortion, it will be one of the biggest political screw-ups in American political history. (Z)

Cheney 2024 Would Help Trump 2024

We have consistently taken the position that if Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) runs for president, she is more likely to take votes from Joe Biden (or whoever Democratic nominee is) than she is from Donald Trump (or a Trump clone, like Ron DeSantis). And, as long as we're looking at numbers, there's a new Yahoo/YouGov poll that suggests we are right.

The poll's numbers are quite clear. In a matchup between Biden and Trump, 46% of respondents would vote for the President, 42% would vote for the former president and 12% would be undecided. Who knows what those undecided voters are waiting to see, but there it is. In a three-way race, Biden would collect 32% of the vote (-14 points), Trump would get 40% (-2 points), Cheney would attract 11%, and 17% (+5 points) would be undecided. So, virtually all of the Representative's votes would come out of Biden's hide.

Needless to say, this does not account for the Electoral College, nor for the fact that people who say they are going to vote third-party often don't follow through. Still, even if Cheney takes just a couple of percent from Biden, that could very well be enough to swing the election. It won't matter in Wyoming or California, of course, but in Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc., that loss would be disastrous for the Democrat. Cheney certainly doesn't want to help Trump, and she knows how to read a poll, so we really don't think she will jump in. In fact, it makes more sense for her to be thinking about 2028 or 2032, when she might be able to position herself as the Republican to lead the Party out of the wilderness and into the post-Trumper era. (Z)

Blake Masters Is Running Quite the Campaign

Blake Masters (R), who is trying to knock off Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), has had a busy week. To start, he's taken notice (as have several other Republicans) that a fanatical pro-choice platform may not be a winner this year. So, he's shifted his approach on that issue.

As part of that, the candidate has toned down his rhetoric. Masters' website used to say that he was "100% pro-life," but that was scrubbed. Apparently, he's just 90% pro-life now, or maybe it's 80%. Who knows? Also scrubbed were promises to cut funding for embryonic stem cell research, to support a federal personhood law that would effectively outlaw abortion nationwide, and to vote only for federal judges who are avowedly anti-abortion. Masters has said that his position on abortion is "commonsense." It is not clear whether that refers to his original point of view, or his newly discovered point of view, though he did say that after the website was changed.

At the same time, Masters is trying to cast Kelly as a pro-choice fanatic. Recently added to Masters' website is this:

The Democrats lie about my views on abortion, because their candidate's position is so extreme: Mark Kelly believes in nationwide abortion on-demand up until the moment of birth, with zero limits. That is truly shocking. 90% of Americans disagree with Mark Kelly's radical position.

The underlining is Masters' (or Masters' staff, at least). It certainly seems designed to suggest that there's a link that supports the assertion about Kelly. But there is no link, of course, because Kelly does not support abortion up to the moment of birth. We doubt that any Democratic officeholder does. In fact, we doubt that any Democratic non-officeholder does.

Meanwhile, it would appear that, at least in Masters' world, if you back off on one extremist-type view, you have to double down on another. So, he's really been leaning into the dog-bullhorn bigotry in the last day or two. There's this tweet, for example:

When Masters was called out on that tweet, he responded with a video tweet (so you know it's serious):

As part of that 92-second airing of views, Masters decrees:

News flash for Joe Biden: we are done with this affirmative action regime. You know, I can't think of a single policy since the end of Jim Crow that's been worse or more divisive for race relations in this country. Race quotas are wrong. Gender quotas are wrong. They're unjust, they're illegal, but the Democrats are addicted to this kind of identity politics garbage.

They just care about how you look. Not whether you're the best qualified or whether you can do the best job. You know, if you want to see the affirmative action regime on display, just look at Biden's White House. Biden promised that he would choose a woman for his VP.

You can make a case that Affirmative Action was divisive in that it angered a number of white people (and some smaller number of non-white people). However, we now present for you 10 policies that were far more divisive:

  1. Segregated schooling
  2. A segregated military
  3. Segregated busing and transportation
  4. Woodrow Wilson's segregation of the federal government
  5. Lynching, which was generally supported, passively or directly, by local law enforcement
  6. Redlining and housing discrimination
  7. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments
  8. Exclusion of Black veterans from GI Bill rights
  9. Disproportionate incarceration of Black and brown Americans
  10. Disproportionate induction of Black and brown Americans into the military, particularly during the Vietnam War

We could come up with more, of course, but we only had 30 seconds to write this portion.

In any event, the takeaway here is this: Masters is running scared. He's trying to reinvent himself on the fly, as he's undoubtedly seen that no poll has ever put him in the lead, and time is running out. The problem is that the candidate's reinvention of himself has been too obvious, and voters hate politicians who seem to be inauthentic opportunists. So, we don't see Masters' last few days' worth of flipping and flopping as something that will ultimately help him. (Z)

Today's Ratfu**ing News

Democratic voters have considerably less tolerance for shady tactics than Republican voters do, in general. But desperate times call for desperate measures and, given the challenges entailed in holding the House, the blue team has decided they cannot afford to operate with one hand tied behind their back. After all, how angry would tens of millions of Democrats be if the Party pulled back in some elections, and then the Republicans gained a two- or three-seat majority in the House?

The latest example of Democratic ratfu**ing comes from New Hampshire. Specifically, NH-02, which is represented by Rep. Annie Kuster (D), and is about as swingy as it gets (D+1). The Republican primary, which will be held next Tuesday, has come down to two people. The first is George Hansel, the mayor of Keene, NH. He is backed by popular moderate governor John Sununu (R-NH), and is campaigning on a platform that is pro-lower taxes, but also pro-choice and pro-environment. The second is Bob Burns, who is ultra-Trumpy.

Undoubtedly it's clear which candidate the Democrats are trying to prop up; here's the commercial that is running in the Granite State:

It's not your usual ratfu**ing, in that the message is that Burns is far too Trumpy, and will be bad for the state, and so Democrats really dislike him. In other words, it's clearly an anti-Burns ad. It would seem the calculation is that the sort of folks who would vote for Burns will be more motivated to get to the polls if they know his election will upset Democrats. We'll see in a week if it works. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug29 Republicans Are Quieter About the Mar-a-Lago Search Now
Aug29 Biden Is Up More in New Polls
Aug29 Democrats Have Read the Tea Leaves
Aug29 Could the Democrats Hold the House?
Aug29 Mark Meadows and Sidney Powell Are Subpoenaed in Georgia
Aug29 Is Ticket Splitting Dead and Gone?
Aug29 Senate GOP super PAC is Canceling Ads in Alaska and Arizona
Aug29 Trump Is Stiffing... His Own Social Media Site
Aug29 Oz Changes His Strategy
Aug29 Crist Picks A Teacher as His Running Mate
Aug28 Sunday Mailbag
Aug27 Saturday Q&A
Aug26 Lights, Camera... Redaction?
Aug26 California Goes Electric
Aug26 Crist Raises $1 Million on First Day as Democratic Nominee...
Aug26 ...Meanwhile, RNC Is Begging Donors for Money
Aug26 What Happened in NY-12?
Aug26 This Week in Schadenfreude: Dere Goes Da Judge
Aug26 This Week in Freudenfreude: Reunited
Aug25 Biden Cancels Student Loan Debt
Aug25 Maybe the Sky Will Not Fall for the Democrats in November
Aug25 Biden Will Send Ukraine Another $3 Billion in Military Hardware
Aug25 Poll: Biden's Approval Rises to 41%
Aug25 The Gang of Five Will Split the Loot
Aug25 Youngkin Hits the Campaign Trail
Aug25 Oz Will Get A Tax Break on His Florida Mansion
Aug25 A Battle Has Begun over Maloney's Job
Aug24 Crist Is Risen
Aug24 So Much for the Wisdom of Solomon
Aug24 Everyone on Team Trump Had Election Data
Aug24 Thanks, Citizens United
Aug24 Senate Ready to Judge Some Judges
Aug24 Gas Prices Keep Falling
Aug23 300
Aug23 Graham's Reprieve Will Be Brief
Aug23 Fauci to Retire
Aug23 Ron Johnson Flips and Flops
Aug23 Ballsack Polls
Aug23 The World's Courts, Part IV: The Great White North, and the Land of the Rising Sun, Redux
Aug23 Morrison Under Investigation in Australia
Aug22 Florida, New York, and Oklahoma Will Hold Elections Tomorrow
Aug22 Another Election to Watch Tuesday
Aug22 Merrick Garland Has Some Tough Calls to Make
Aug22 Democrats Are Worrying about a Cheney Presidential Run
Aug22 A Redacted Affidavit Will Enrage Trump's Supporters
Aug22 McConnell: House Flip More Likely Than Senate Flip
Aug22 Federal Appeals Court Wants Key Memo about the Mueller Report Released
Aug22 Graham Gets a Reprieve
Aug22 The State of the Races for Governor
Aug21 Sunday Mailbag