• Letitia James Wants to Chat with the Trump Kids
• Schumer Preparing to Throw Down the Filibuster Gauntlet
• Bobby Rush to Announce Retirement...
• ...And Devin Nunes Makes It Official
• Why Did Keisha Lance Bottoms Quit?
• Looking Backward: How Did The Readers Do?, Part I: Donald Trump
Because the Democrats have the trifecta in Washington, their dysfunction tends to get most of the attention. However, 10 months away from an election that is expected to go very well for them, quite a few chinks in the Republican armor are showing themselves. Several noticeable rivalries are on display for all to see; to wit:
- Trump vs. The Establishment: The Republican National Committee exists for exactly one
purpose: to win elections. The Committee, and party loyalists like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), do
everything possible to find the most electable candidates possible. One part of that is staying out of competitive
primaries (at least, avoiding public involvement), so that whichever candidate comes out on top is not needlessly
Donald Trump, by contrast, exists for a different purpose: Donald Trump. When it comes to picking candidates, he's concerned about (1) glory and power for himself, (2) a** kissing, and (3) settling scores. Yes, he likes it if "his" candidate wins, but he likes it even more if the candidate that he hates goes down to defeat. And so, the RNC has begged him to remain on the sidelines during primary season, or at a minimum not to support weak candidates. He'll have none of it, and this week he waded into the Republican primary in IL-15, giving his endorsement to Rep. Mary Miller (R), who is fanatically Trumpy, and who also has a regrettable habit of quoting Adolf Hitler on occasion. The establishment specifically begged him to stay out of this incumbent vs. incumbent contest, since they knew full well which candidate he would endorse, and since they also know that Miller's opponent Rodney Davis (R) is less of an embarrassment to the Party.
In addition, Trump spent some time this week trying to recruit someone, anyone to challenge Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). Bacon's offense? He was one of 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, thus giving Joe Biden a win. If Trump is able to find a loyalist to run, and if that loyalist knocks off Bacon, that could be bad news for the GOP. Bacon won the R+1 NE-02 by 4 points in 2020, while Trump lost it by 6 points. So, a Trumpy candidate could very well surrender the district to the Democrats.
- Online Crazies vs. Online Crazies: The online Trump-loving community is a scary place,
made up of many fanatics, conspiracists, grifters, racists, incels, and some folks who are "all of the above." However,
their Dear Leader is no longer online to lead them, having been banned from Twitter and Facebook. And their alternate
Dear Leader, Q, has been silent for over a year. They are now
by disputes over various issues—whether Mike Flynn is a hero or a traitor, whether Kyle Rittenhouse should be
embraced or regarded as an enemy, whether Trump has been "compromised" by the vaccines, whether the JFKs (Jr. and Sr.)
will be reappearing in Dallas (note, incidentally, that JFK Sr.—a man with numerous chronic health
problems—would be 104 years old). The cause of unity is not being helped by all the people who are using the
vacuum in an effort to seize some power or to fleece the rubes.
- "Trumpers, But Not Nuts About It" vs. "Trumpers Who Are Nuts": Depending on how you define
"notable," either Justin Amash or Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the first notable Republican to have their fill of Trumpism
and to disembark the S.S. Donald. Maybe Trump crossed a line they deemed uncrossable, or maybe they saw an
anti-Trump lane and decided they wanted to occupy it before it got too crowded.
It would appear that Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) might be the next one to make that journey. When the Congressman appeared on Saturday Night Live back in 2018, he seemed quite reasonable, and maybe even a possible post-Trump leader for the Republican Party. Thereafter, Crenshaw veered hard right, and seemed to be in competition with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for Trumpiest member of the Texas Republican delegation. Now, Crenshaw is again charting a more moderate direction. Not "moderate," mind you, but "more moderate." Last week, he slammed the members of the House Freedom Caucus as "grifters" and "performance artists." Yesterday, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) had spent 24 hours bellyaching about getting kicked off of Twitter (well, halfway kicked off Twitter), Crenshaw unloaded on his colleague, describing her as "petty and childish" and obsessed with being a victim. Greene responded by going on Instagram, which hasn't yet banned her, and declaring that Crenshaw "(not so secretly) hates Trump."
- Moderate Republicans vs. Trump Republicans: Meanwhile, the actual moderate Republicans are trying to rally the troops and to reassert control over the GOP. Leading the charge is Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), who has launched a tour of fundraisers and speaking engagements in support of officeholders who resisted Trump, like Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA). Maybe the term-limited Hogan just wants to use his platform, while he has it, to try to save the party he's been a member of for his whole life. Or maybe this is the first chapter in a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 or for the White House in 2024.
Obviously, all of this internecine squabbling is not the greatest thing for a minority party who is hoping to gain ground in a midterm election. And the scary thing is that if the Republicans get some actual power—like, say, control of the House—the squabbling is all but certain to get worse. (Z)
Well, that didn't take long. Just back from the holiday break, and with a brand-new partner in Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, New York AG Letitia James announced subpoenas of Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump as part of the ongoing probe into the finances of the Trump Organization.
James' office already interviewed Eric Trump back in October. The subpoenas for Ivanka and Donald Jr. were issued on the same day (Dec. 1) as the one issued to their father, but only the latter was public information before yesterday. It appears that the two kids are a part of Donald Sr.'s suit seeking to block the subpoenas, but since the suit had zero chance of succeeding, it's only a matter of time until all three of them get the pleasure of sitting down with James for an interview. And this news once again makes clear that whatever the New York AG is working on is far from over, as she inches her way up the Trump Organization ladder. (Z)
Letitia James is not the only one to hit the ground running in 2022. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to all of his fellow senators, one that he also graciously posted to the Internet, so everyone could be in on the fun. The letter starts with some of the less-than-savory things that have been done by Republican officeholders in the last year or so, and then gets to the meat of the matter:
The Senate was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber, through the promise of debate and the opportunity to amend. But over the years, those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of majority—something our Founders explicitly opposed. The Constitution specified what measures demanded a supermajority—including impeachment or the ratification of treaties. But they explicitly rejected supermajority requirements for legislation, having learned firsthand of such a requirement's defects under the Articles of Confederation. The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction.
We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?
We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history. As former Senator Robert Byrd famously said, Senate Rules "must be changed to reflect changed circumstances." Put more plainly by Senator Byrd, "Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past."
The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy. We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.
In short: (1) The Founders wouldn't have approved of the filibuster as it currently exists, (2) the Senate should not be less able to pass voting rights legislation than state legislatures and (3) something is going to have to change, and we're going to debate and vote on or before Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
Schumer is under no illusions that "our Republican colleagues [will] change course and work with us." But he does want to get them on the record as opposing voting rights. He also wants to turn the screws on Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Thus far, that pair has not had to choose between voting rights and preserving the filibuster. They say they support both, but they cannot have both, and so now they will have to pick which one is more important to them.
After releasing the letter, Schumer appeared on Joy Reid's program on MSNBC, and she asked him if he had any reason to believe that Manchin and Sinema were willing to budge on the filibuster. One one hand, he said that three members of his caucus are working hard on twisting their arms, and that those three members have gotten some hopeful signs, particularly from Manchin. On the other hand, the Majority Leader, channeling his inner Rick Perry, could not remember the name of one of the three arm-twisters. The exact quote:
We have a group of three senators who [are] constantly talking to them. Angus King, um, uh, Jon Tester, and um, uh, the senator, uh, from Virginia as well, saying to them "we were not for changing the rules but we've changed our mind. Too much is at stake."
The Virginia senator who has recently had a public "come to Jesus" moment on the filibuster is Tim Kaine (D-VA), so that is presumably the name Schumer was reaching for. Maybe it was just a senior moment, or maybe it's an indication that the arm-twisting efforts are nowhere near as substantial as Schumer implied. (Z)
It may be a new year, but the trend of Democratic House retirements is not abating. The latest member to call it a career is Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who will make a formal announcement today. Rush began his career as a public figure by founding the Illinois Black Panther Party, though he became a less radical and more mainstream civil rights activist before commencing a career in politics in 1992. He has scheduled his press conference today for the church in Illinois where the funeral of Emmett Till was held; this is to draw attention to Rush's Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which the Representative hopes to get passed into law before he departs Washington. Rush insisted that he's not retiring, he just wants to devote his full attention to his work as a minister.
There is not much risk that Rush's seat will change hands just because there won't be an incumbent on the ticket. Under the new Illinois maps his district, IL-01, is D+41. One wonders if the Republicans will even be able to find a candidate willing to be crushed. In any event, as we have pointed out many times, the Democratic exodus speaks to the lack of optimism that the caucus has when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections. (Z)
Don't have a cow when we tell you this, but Devin Nunes has followed through on his announced plans, and has resigned from Congress. He is going to go run Donald Trump's latest grift...er, the former president's attempt to start a social media platform. That means that Nunes will be able to reach every single person on that platform with a single keystroke or mouse click. In other words, you're never going to hear from him again.
While most states allow their governor to fill a vacant Senate seat, Art. I, Sec. 2 of the Constitution requires that a special election be held to fill a vacant seat in the House. The logic is that governors and senators represent the same electorate, while representatives do not. Under California law, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has up to 14 days to set the date of the special election now that the resignation is official. There is a fair bit of weediness, given that there are a couple of upcoming holidays, but the primary could be held anytime between March 8 and April 5 and the general election could be held anytime between May 10 and June 7. Presumably, Newsom will be a good soldier and keep the seat open as long as is possible, just as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) did with the still-open seat that was held by Alcee Hastings.
It will be interesting to see who decides to jump into the race to replace Nunes. The term is only going to last about 6 months, and the district, which is currently R+6, will be redrawn for the next election. That means that the candidate is either going to have to commit to a short political career, or else is going to have to run in two separate districts simultaneously (special election for one district and primary for another). And running in "the district that contains Fresno" both times is probably not a winner, since that district is going to go from R+6 to D+11. Like we said, it will be interesting. (Z)
It is one of the minor mysteries of modern politics. A couple of years ago, Keisha Lance Bottoms was one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party after her response to the George Floyd protests made her a national figure. She was given serious consideration as a possible running mate for Joe Biden and, when that didn't come through, there was talk that a run for the U.S. Senate or the Georgia governor's mansion was in her future. It was also taken as a given that she'd run for reelection as mayor of Atlanta, and would win going away. However, after encouraging the reelection talk for a little while, Bottoms announced that she would stand down. And, as of yesterday, she is a private citizen once again.
What the heck happened? How did someone seen as potentially a better version of Beto O'Rourke—young, charismatic, able to unify the various factions of the Democratic Party—end up out of politics so rapidly? Zak Cheney-Rice, writing for New York magazine, was interested in the answer to that question. And the answer, in short, is "crime." Specifically, the increase in crime that happened in the last year or so, and which particularly affected big cities like Atlanta.
In some ways, Bottoms is the yin to New York City mayor Eric Adams' yang. That is to say, when crime gripped NYC, the former cop Adams was seen as "the solution." On the other hand, the then-in-power Bottoms was seen as "the problem." And so, her base of support crumbled, and her case for being a potential Democratic conquering hero basically collapsed. Add in the nastiness of life in the big chair these days—vicious attacks, all the time, particularly if one is a woman or is Black—and the fact that Bottoms' father passed away suddenly at around the same age Bottoms is now (early 50s), and she was ready to throw in the towel.
It is yet another reminder that things change quickly in the world of politics, and that today's rock star can easily end up on tomorrow's trash heap (ahem, Sarah Palin). As to Bottoms, she does not sound like someone who is eager to return to the fray ever again. And, of course, she left office on a down note. Given that the Democratic bench is pretty deep in Georgia, and that there are people in line ahead of Bottoms for just about any office she might pursue, there's an excellent chance that her new status as a private citizen will be permanent. (Z)
It is now time to start considering the readers' predictions. Here are the previous predictions pieces:
- Looking Backward: How Did The Pundits Do?
- Looking Forward: The Pundits Predict 2022
- Looking Forward: The Pundits Predict 2022, Part II
- Looking Backward: How Did We Do?
- Looking Forward: We Predict 2022
We may adjust the scoring system, but for now we're sticking with up to 5 points for accuracy, and up to 5 more extra credit points for the boldness of predictions that proved accurate, for a potential total of 10 points. And now, the readers' 2021 predictions for Donald Trump:
- A.C. in Palmer, MA: Donald Trump will not sit for his presidential portrait. The National
Portrait Gallery will still commission a portrait and, upon receipt, will hang it backwards (i.e., facing the wall) in
Comments: He has not sat for one, and the Smithsonian is pursuing alternatives. So, the first part of the prediction is accurate, and a little bit bold. However, there has been no backwards portrait hanging. Accuracy: 3/5, Boldness 2/5, Total: 5/10
- J.B. in Silver Spring, MD: Trump will unveil his new mantra, "Keep Grift Alive!"
Comments: We assume this was not meant literally and, if so, it was pretty accurate, since he's finding a whole bunch of ways to shake down the base. However, since he's been a grifter for decades, that wasn't all that hard to predict. A: 5/5, B 0/5, T: 5/10
- A.R. in Los Angeles, CA: Cyrus Vance Jr. will indict Trump, but his lawyers will delay any
trial until 2022. No federal charges will be brought against Trump.
Comments: The former may be getting close (see above), but we're not there, yet. As to the latter, it is true that no federal charges were brought against Trump in 2021, though it is unlikely that things would have unfolded that quickly, so we can't award too many points for boldness. A: 2/5, B 1/5, T: 3/10
- J.S. in Seattle, WA: Donald Trump will be prosecuted in courts in two states—Georgia
and New York—but (sadly) not in federal court.
Comments: Ibid. A: 2/5, B 1/5, T: 3/10
- J.A. in Redwood City, CA: Trump will respond to all of the legal charges against him as he
always has, by engaging in as many delaying tactics in the courts as he can. Even if he cannot find any more top-tier
law firms willing to have him as a client, there will be lesser-grade firms still willing to make a name for themselves
in conservative circles. Also, Trump's health will begin to decline, a circumstance that his legal teams will attempt to
leverage in his favor. Years from now, Trump will pass from this earth before all of the civil cases against him are
Comments: The first part is correct, though not especially difficult to predict. The second part could be on target but, if so, that is not publicly known, so we can't give credit. And the third cannot be answered as of this writing. A: 2/5, B 0/5, T: 2/10
- D.Y. in Fishers, IN: Some portion of the Trump clan will flee the U.S. to some friendly
spot like Saudi Arabia or Russia in response to substantial credible legal charges.
Comments: Didn't happen, at least not in 2021. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- S.C. in Mountain View, CA: By the end of 2021, Trump will either be: (1) living in a
foreign country that has no extradition treaty with the United States, or (2) if not in prison, a defendant in a
criminal trial that could result in a prison sentence, or (3) committed to a psychiatric hospital, either involuntarily,
or persuaded to do so "voluntarily."
Comments: Ibid. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- T.M. in Downers Grove, IL: By the end of 2021 Donald Trump will be rocking back and forth
on the floor of a locked padded room, babbling incoherently about Hillary's e-mails, Hunter's laptop, and a "stolen"
election. He will remain there for the rest of his days.
Comments: Not there yet. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- M.C.G. in Madison, WI: Trump will threaten to start his own TV network, but, among many
other threats, it will never materialize.
Comments: Truth Social might have streaming content, but it's a Twitter ripoff and not a TV network. Sorry, no points. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- L.V.A. in Idaho Falls, ID: Donald Trump will not enter into any contracts for regular
appearances on any networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, OANN, Newsmax, CNN, MSNBC, or affiliates).
Comments: This was correct, although he tends to be a tad lazy, so the boldness factor is only moderate. A: 5/5, B 3/5, T: 8/10
- A.H. in Espoo, Finland: Mar-a-Lago will be for sale before January 20, 2022.
Comments: We thought this one would come to pass, but it hasn't so far. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- B.H. in Westborough, MA: Melania will separate from Donald.
Comments: Officially, no. In practice, it sure looks that way, enough to award at least a couple of points. A: 2/5, B 2/5, T: 4/10
- C.M. in Dublin, Ireland: Melania Trump will not divorce Donald Trump or start divorce
Comments: This is certainly correct, though not too high on the boldness scale, as it sure looks like she has a real poison pill of a prenup. A: 5/5, B 2/5, T: 7/10
- S.B. in New Castle, DE: A flood of documentaries, books, and a miniseries on the Trump
presidency will be released. At least two of the books will be bestsellers and one will win a Pulitzer.
Comments: Not yet. They're probably coming, but right now he's like the Civil War. No matter how you make the movie, you're going to piss off either the red states or the blue states. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- P.S. in Marion, IA: Trump will fade into obscurity (or worse) quickly, his approval
ratings will tumble below any number he enjoyed as President for the rest of his living days, well down into the 30's
(where Nixon remained in his post-Presidency).
Comments: His favorability right now is in the 40s, so this is a miss. A: 0/5, B 0/5, T: 0/10
- C.Z. in Sacramento, CA: No more of my precious time will be wasted by being forced to see,
hear, or read about the cancer that is Trump.
Comments: You probably got a lot less Trump this year, but we doubt you got no Trump. So, we can only give partial credit. A: 2/5, B 2/5, T: 4/10
We have that as 41 points of a possible 160, for a batting average of .256. Not bad! (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jan03 Kerik Gives Documents to (and Withholds Documents from) the Select Committee
Jan03 One-Third of Americans Are OK with Violence against the Government
Jan03 Will Biden Be Primaried in 2024?
Jan03 Twitter Suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene's Personal Account
Jan03 At Least Five House Races Will Feature Two Incumbents
Jan03 Pundit Predictions for 2022, Part II
Jan03 New Manhattan D.A. Takes over Trump Case
Jan03 Trump-Appointed FDIC Chair Resigns
Jan03 Why Are Democracies Foundering?
Jan03 The Netherlands Has a Government
Jan02 Sunday Mailbag
Jan01 Happy New Year!
Jan01 Saturday Q&A
Dec31 The Slow-Moving Coup, Part IV: Six Crises, Vol. III
Dec31 Virginia Has Its Maps
Dec31 Trump's Transactional Endorsements
Dec31 How Will the History Books Remember 2021?
Dec31 Looking Forward: We Predict 2022
Dec31 Got to Admit, It's Getting Better, Part IV
Dec31 A December to Rhymember (the Conclusion)
Dec30 The Slow-Moving Coup, Part III: Six Crises, Vol. II
Dec30 Michigan Has Its Maps
Dec30 Winfrey Damns Oz with Faint Praise
Dec30 Looking Backward: How Did We Do?
Dec30 Got to Admit, It's Getting Better, Part III
Dec30 A December to Rhymember (Parts 38-39-40-41)
Dec29 The Slow-Moving Coup, Part II: Six Crises, Vol. I
Dec29 Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
Dec29 Harry Reid, 1939-2021
Dec29 Looking Forward: The Pundits Predict 2022
Dec29 Got to Admit, It's Getting Better, Part II
Dec29 A December to Rhymember (Parts 36-37)
Dec28 The Slow-Moving Coup, Part I: The Bad News
Dec28 Redistricting Going Surprisingly Well for Democrats, Maybe Not So Well for Democracy
Dec28 Larry Hogan Toying With Senate Run
Dec28 Looking Backward: How Did The Pundits Do?
Dec28 Got to Admit, It's Getting Better, Part I
Dec28 A December to Rhymember (Parts 34-35)
Dec27 Far Right Denounces Trump
Dec27 Republican Legislatures Are the New Death Panels
Dec27 Democrats Are Trying to Get Voters Focused on State-Level races
Dec27 Trump Broke the Mold
Dec27 Biden Is Quietly Reversing Some of Trump's Actions
Dec27 Biden Picks Two More Black Women for the Appellate Courts
Dec27 Another Reaction to the Texas Abortion Law
Dec27 Americans Are Lukewarm on Biden Running in 2024
Dec27 A December to Rhymember (Parts 32-33)
Dec26 Sunday Mailbag
Dec25 Saturday Q&A