Why the Election Won’t Be a Referendum on Biden
GOP Lawmaker Was Handcuffed at Rodeo
The Co-Conspirators Were Put on Notice
Conservative Media Is Skeptical
Supreme Court Approval at Record Low
Trump’s Case Has Broad Implications for Democracy
• I, The Jury, Part XI: In the Jury Room, Continued
• Biden Legal News: Do You Want to Know a Secret?
• Biden's Running a Pretty Good Campaign...
• ...And So Is Donald Trump...
• ...While DeSantis Continues to Circle the Drain
• Outrunning Karma
Well, yesterday, at least. And in case you don't know, that song is from the catalog of Taylor Swift. We gotta include something for the kiddies once in a while.
What, exactly, are we going on about? Well, for the second time in as many attempts, Donald Trump's legal team has failed to quash the investigation being conducted by Fulton County DA Fani Willis. In a 9-page order, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney made very clear that the arguments made by Team Trump have zero merit, and that relief at the end of a judge's gavel is not forthcoming.
Presumably recognizing that the "journalists" who work for the Foxes and Breitbarts of the world don't read the fine print, McBurney used the old academic's trick of putting the really pointed stuff in the footnotes. For example this, which made clear that the Judge knows full well what the point of these "Hail Mary" filings is:
And for some, being the subject of a criminal investigation can, à la Rumpelstiltskin, be turned into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic.
McBurney's ruling makes clear that Trump will have his opportunities to push back against a potential Willis indictment, but it must wait until there is, you know, an actual indictment.
And on that point, Willis did an interview over the weekend in which she let slip the worst-kept secret in the political world, namely that if she's going to indict Trump or anyone else for election shenanigans, she's going to do it before September 1 of this year. This is no surprise to anyone who has been following the investigation, and certainly not to anyone who is a regular reader of this site. Today, in fact, begins the three-week window that Willis asked her colleagues to prepare for in terms of extra safety/security. Assuming her wishes have been followed, staffers from the DA's office are working from home and courts are keeping their dockets open and their doors closed. In this weekend's interview, Willis also said that "The work is accomplished. We've been working for 2½ years. We're ready to go." Presumably that means she will make an official announcement at the time she thinks is most likely to mute any sort of violent response. This Friday evening, perhaps? (Z)
As noted last week, we're going to run juror accounts on (most) days where there's Trump legal news. This will be the last set about experiences in the jury room; we'll move on to some broad syntheses next. By that, we mean that the next sets will appear under the headline "The System Doesn't Work," and then there will be sets that appear under the headline "The System Does Work."
M.S. in Canton, NY, writes: A few decades ago I was on a six-member jury for a "drunk driving" case in village court—pretty much the opposite of the Trump trial in federal court. On a very cold winter night, a man drove his truck to a bar, got good and drunk, called his wife to come pick him up, went out to his truck in the parking lot, started the engine (allegedly!; more on that in a moment), and passed out in the driver's seat. A passerby with no connection to the man, the bar, or anyone else involved, noticed him apparently unconscious in an idling truck and called the police, who arrived before the wife got there.
In New York (as I understand the law as it was explained to us), starting a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol with intent to drive is the same as driving while under the influence. The prosecutor presented convincing evidence of every factual point I've mentioned. But sitting there in the jury box, my thought was, "Considering that his wife was on the way, isn't it more likely that he started the truck to turn on the heater so he could keep warm while he waited? So no intent to drive anywhere?" (Yes, it would make more sense just to stay in the bar, but he was intoxicated.)
Incredibly, the defense did not offer that interpretation, which I think would have cemented "reasonable doubt" immediately. Instead, they claimed—contrary to the testimony of two police officers and the passerby witness that the truck's engine was running when they got there—that the defendant never turned on the engine. Their "evidence" was a claim that the truck had a defective transmission, such that it was physically incapable of idling in neutral. This seemed so absurd that I can only conclude that the defendant must actually have believed it.
After a very long deliberation, we eventually acquitted, since the question of intent was so muddled. But I'd say neither the prosecution nor the defense did themselves any favors by never addressing what was pretty obviously the only issue.
J.D. in Merced, CA, writes: A few years ago, I was on a jury where a man was charged with DUI in California. He admitted to using a small amount of cannabis wax that was prescribed (when medical marijuana was recently legalized). He passed all of the roadside tests, but was arrested anyway.
The point of my letter is this: The jury was a hodgepodge of ethnic and economic levels. Many would be considered "uneducated" because they had come as immigrants and had not attended college. I was selected foreman of the jury (as the oldest juror, I'm sure). The discussions and the comments were very coherent and thoughtful by ALL of the jurors. I was so impressed with the logic and reason of all of them. It made me proud of our legal system and proud of our citizenry. We voted "not guilty" within 30 minutes.
J.T. in Redondo Beach, CA, writes: Living in L.A. County, one gets called for jury service frequently, and I have served on six of them (which places me second in my own house, to my wife's seven). No fewer than three of them ended up without a verdict. So, I might have some different insights into the potential pitfalls awaiting the prosecutors in TFG's various cases. I'll offer a brief synopsis of each case and how the juries ended up deadlocked:
- Carjacking case, involving a perp and victim of differing ethnicities: The facts seemed pretty conclusive to me: The defendant was spotted driving victim's vehicle, and during the pursuit he threw a gun out of the car on the freeway off-ramp. The gun later was proved to have his prints on it. He took the stand and offered a fanciful account that didn't convince anyone. We got the case in the mid-afternoon, and by the end of the day all but one juror was ready to vote to convict. But... when we came in the next morning, it was 8 to 4. The four, let us say, shared the same ethnic background as the defendant, and none of them would budge, facts be damned. Suffice it to say, it got ugly in there. A classic case of "us against them."
- Sale of cocaine: This entire case came down to whether the undercover officers could correctly identify the seller in the dark, illuminated only by the car headlights he was placed in front of during the arrest. The prosecutors tried to show that officers working that beat are well-trained to identify people under less-than-ideal conditions, but they were only able to convince half of the jury.
- Domestic violence: After a wrenching process where at least a dozen potential jurors were dismissed for cause (there are a lot of people out there who have been impacted by violence at home), the judge granted the attorneys only an hour each for questioning those remaining. The prosecutor foreshadowed his case by homing in on just one question: "Do you think we should prosecute cases like this when the victim would prefer that we do not?" Unfortunately for his case, he spent almost all of his limited time on the 12 jurors who were originally in the box, speaking hardly at all to the others in the room—some of whom were sure to end up replacing original jurors who were excused.
Other than the cops who worked the case, there were only two significant witnesses—a woman on a recording of a 911 call, saying that her husband had beaten her and was threatening worse, and the same woman sitting at the witness stand denying that any of it ever happened. She claimed that she must have been drinking at the time and made it all up. When we retired to deliberate, none of us believed that for a second... but there were two younger women on the panel who were convinced that it was better for everyone, including the woman herself, if the guy was not convicted, and there was no moving them off that position. Sure enough, both of those jurors were added to the 12 to replace those who had been thoroughly questioned about just that issue, and they had never been asked about it due to the lack of time (and the prosecutor's mismanagement of his allotment).
So, three very different cases, with two of them doomed from the start due to the mindsets jurors took into the courtroom when they were called rather than any facts of the case. Note that none of them was the stereotypical 11-to-1. As for the prospects of prosecuting TFG, I'd guess that the prosecutors can deal with people who always vote Republican since they aren't necessarily all that enamored of him and are probably willing to consider the evidence in front of them. But they will have to find a way to ferret out the people who are motivated by support of Trump specifically—they won't vote to convict, no matter what. I don't know what line of questioning which would be deemed in-bounds by a judge can enable them to identify and dismiss those jurors, but if they can't, there's no chance of a conviction.
D.R. in Harrisburg, PA, writes: I just thought I'd write a note after reading your posts regarding jurors who can be convinced to change their minds in a room of 12 people.
I was on a jury last year in a domestic violence case. A man was accused of hitting a woman with whom he had children. The children were there and he pulled up in a car, got into a verbal fight, and that turned into him hitting her. The woman got on the stand and said he didn't do it. The woman's mother got up on the stand and said he didn't do it. The two people were Black and I am white (which is relevant in my decision later, whether it's right or wrong).
I was in the minority of a 9-3 room saying he should be convicted, because I thought "If everyone says he didn't do it, how can we send a man to jail?" We sat in deliberations for about 6 hours and the vote had gotten to 10-2 with me still holding out. We had to break and come back the next day. Eventually there were two Black women on the jury who just looked at me and said they will go to their grave saying that man is guilty and stared (what felt like) straight into my soul. I just looked at them and thought, "These women seem like they know things I don't know," and I switched my vote along with the other person holding out.
I got nominated to read the verdict (probably because they thought I deserved it) and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I hated it so much. But, in hindsight, I think it was the right call. The woman seemed afraid of the man, the mother did too. They "could not recall" a lot of details that you would definitely be able to remember.
My point is, you can walk into a jury room thinking one thing (I didn't expect to be in the minority) and come out with a different opinion.
E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, writes: About ten years ago, I served on a jury in a criminal OUI case (Massachusetts' name for drunk driving). Voir dire was very basic—people were just asked whether they had a family member or a friend who was a police officer or who knew someone involved in a drunk driving accident. I think a lot of people lied and said they had a conflict or couldn't be impartial just to get out of jury duty, but I was picked for the jury even though I have a Ph.D. in biological psychology and my parents are both lawyers. (They didn't even ask). I think that there will be a real issue in Trump's trial with jurors trying to get out of serving by simply saying that they cannot be impartial. I am not sure how the lawyers are going to handle that because in many cases, it will be true.
The basic facts of the case, best as I can recall them, were as follows: The defendant ran his pickup truck into a utility pole around 5:30 pm in sunny weather on an autumn weekday. A police officer arrived to find the defendant staggering around outside his totaled pickup, slurring his words, and smelling strongly of alcohol. The officer performed two-thirds of the standard OUI test (left out the last part about saying the alphabet), but the man bombed the first two parts and refused a Breathalyzer. I cannot recall anything about a blood test. The defendant was put in the back of the police cruiser, which still smelled strongly of alcohol hours later. The cast of characters was interesting. The defense attorney had a flashy suit and slicked-back hair and looked like he could have come straight from one of those cheesy OUI attorney ads, whereas the prosecutor was a young, slightly overweight nervous-looking blond woman, who nonetheless did well as the trial proceeded. The arresting officer was also young and clearly less experienced, but he was convincing in court.
The defense called two witnesses (an audiologist and a hearing aid specialist) because their entire defense rested on the fact that the defendant was partially hearing-impaired. The defense claimed that the defendant was staggering and slurring because of an inner ear issue aggravated by the collision and that he wasn't following directions or speaking well because of his impairment. They refused to say whether he was wearing his hearing aid during the incident, and the defendant never said a word in court. We were told not to hold this against him, but people on the jury definitely did. Also, although the defendant clearly tried to clean up and look innocent, he looked, rightly or wrongly, like a stereotypical Hell's Angel (big, burly, long unruly hair, and many tattoos), which people also held against him. A twenty-something man on the jury said something I will never forget: "He's clearly guilty, just look at him!" then immediately followed that up with "but let's just let him off anyway." Clearly, people in a Trump trial will be hard-pressed to avoid stereotypes and letting their preconceived notions get in the way.
During deliberations, certain people (myself included) took more active roles in the conversation whereas others stayed more quiet and went along with the group, including the aforementioned twenty-something guy (other than that comment). One very vocal woman just couldn't get over the fact that he just ran his pickup into a pole. Others were more sympathetic, but in the end, we convicted him. Where reasonable doubt failed for me was the defense's explanation for the strong smell of alcohol; they claimed it was caused by the powder that gets released by the airbag going off. I've never been in a car where an airbag has gone off, but that just didn't pass the smell test (pun intended). I just kept thinking and saying to the other jurors, what if it had been a small child he had hit rather than a pole? Should we let this man use his hearing impairment to potentially get away with drunk driving? In the end, I felt good about the experience, and I am glad that I got a chance to serve. It was fascinating to be involved with a real-life jury trial, and it is very different from how it is portrayed on TV. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to serve on a jury in the trial of a former president!
We certainly hope these are interesting and instructive, especially if we take care not to overload any particular week. We'll have more the next time there is major Trump legal news which, at the current rate, probably means "tomorrow." (Z)
This item is most certainly not the third most important of the day. But it pairs with the previous items, so we'll put it here nonetheless. This time, the song in the headline is definitely not one for the kiddies. And we're also using "secret" in the same way we used it in the item at the top, namely to refer to something that you already knew without having to be told.
Actually, there were four separate news items over the past several days, and we're not sure which one was the least surprising. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Benghazi, Redux: We are not legal experts, nor did we read the now-defunct plea agreement,
nor attend the court hearing at which the agreement was (tentatively) rejected. By all indications, it looks to us like
the system is grinding along as it should. And people who are in a far better position to judge than we are would seem
to agree (see
for some examples). Nonetheless, House Republicans have
they will launch an investigation. Shocking! Here's hoping nobody has pictures of Hunter Biden jaywalking or littering.
- Smoke and Mirrors: Meanwhile, the same guy who just announced a new investigation of
Hunter Biden, namely Rep. James Comer (R-KY),
on Fox to talk about the already underway investigation of Biden. During that appearance, Sean Hannity asked point-blank
whether Comer would be able to prove that the First Son and/or his father took bribes. Comer's answer: "I sure hope so.
And I do believe that there's a lot of smoke. And where there's smoke, there's fire." In case there is anyone who isn't
fluent in politician-speak, let us translate Comer's answer for you: "No."
Comer has previously had no problem grossly over-selling the strength of his case. When even he is tempering expectations, it tells you he doesn't have anything firm in hand, and that he doesn't particularly expect to get anything firm. Launching a second investigation is also consistent with that; there's no need for it unless you don't think investigation v1.0 is going to land.
- Sleight of Hand: Devon Archer, who is a former business partner of Hunter Biden,
before the House Oversight Committee yesterday. Republicans were, of course, hoping for some juicy stuff, and they
didn't get it. Archer said that he knew of nothing that connected Joe Biden to Hunter Biden's business dealings, and
that what Hunter was selling was "the illusion" of access to Joe.
This is entirely believable to us. As we have noted many times, many unscrupulous presidential relatives have raked in the bucks claiming that they had an inside track to the fellow in the big chair. But for a president, selling access makes little sense. It would be very unethical, first of all, and most of them really do care about ethics. It would also be incredibly risky, as a president's finances are a semi-open book, and it would be rather hard to hide hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in secret income. And it wouldn't make much sense. Ex-presidents can make tens of millions of dollars without breaking the law by delivering speeches, writing books and serving on corporate boards.
If a president is going to sell access these days, he or she would have to check most or all of these boxes: (1) low on ethics, (2) willing to do nearly anything for money, (3) in possession of a complex web of businesses/financial instruments that make it plausible to hide a few million here and a few million there, and (4) persuaded that he or she is invulnerable to legal prosecution. We can think of roughly one president in the last 50 years who fits the profile. Yes, it's that peanut-shilling sleazeball Jimmy Carter.
- Pardon Me?: Speaking of ethics, the White House has already
through White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and through allies in Congress, that no pardon for Hunter is
This promise means... nothing. At the moment, there is no way that the President would give even the slightest indication that a pardon is under consideration, as that would provide fuel for months and months of "Biden is corrupt" carping. We believe that the President is an ethical fellow, but we also believe he's a father who has great empathy for his son, and who knows that the son is paying a price for the political career of the father. Certainly, nobody else's naughty pictures get blown up to poster size and paraded around in a House committee hearing.
If the plea deal is reworked, and accepted by Judge Maryellen Noreika, then we'll never know how serious the administration really is about not giving special treatment to the First Son. Failing that, however, there are potentially two moments where the rubber will meet the road: (1) the day that Hunter is scheduled to report to prison, should that come to pass (note that it's not currently in the plans), and (2) the last week of Joe Biden's presidential term.
And now you have a rundown of all the entirely predictable Hunter Biden news. (Z)
When it comes to running for president, there is a very sizable number of cheap seats, and they all seem to be occupied. And so, there has been much criticism of Biden '24, despite the fact that the presidential election is still 463 days away.
The editors of The Washington Post thought it would be interesting to see what the paper's left-leaning columnists think, since they are (ideally) a bit more likely to see the big picture than many voters, activists, talking heads, etc. And they have a broad consensus that Biden is doing well, and is certainly the most electable Democrat in 2024.
You can read their remarks for yourself, if you have a WaPo subscription or if you clear your cookies and re-set the soft paywall. But here are the main themes of the remarks from Dana Milbank, Jennifer Rubin, Paul Waldman, Perry Bacon Jr., Ruth Marcus, Eugene Robinson, Greg Sargent and E.J. Dionne Jr.: (and note that we live in a very odd world when Rubin is now considered "left-leaning"):
- Democrats engage in hand-wringing. That's what they do. So, there is no campaign Biden could be running right now
that Democrats wouldn't be tearing their hair out about.
- Biden's age is unfortunate, but his infirmity is vastly overwrought. And it's not likely to be a big issue up against
someone who's his junior by only a few years.
- Biden is the only person the Democrats have at the moment who can hold the Obama coalition together. If Biden stepped
aside, that would probably lead to a nomination for Kamala Harris, and she would be Donald Trump's dream opponent.
- A Democratic "dream" ticket would probably involve at least one of the governors, like Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) or
Gavin Newsom (D-CA). However, that ticket would only emerge after a bloody primary, which the Party cannot afford.
- Biden has been an effective president, and has a strong record to run on. In particular, he's somehow managed to be both a semi-centrist and a semi-progressive. That's not an easy balancing act.
You might notice that while the columnists were specifically asked about Biden's campaign, they spent virtually all of their words talking about Biden as a candidate. Fortunately, we are happy to fill in the gap. There are at least four things that Biden '24 is doing right now that appear very shrewd to us:
- Saving Money: Whereas the burn rates for both Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) are
enormous, at least in part because they're both dealing with a bunch of lawsuits, Biden is largely
banking his cash,
which means keeping his staff lean and mean, and not spending on things like advertising. After all, he can have all the
free PR he needs right now by virtue of the bully pulpit.
- Decentralization: In contrast to Barack Obama, Biden does not want all operations to be
centralized, and controlled by his inner circle. He's
happy to allow
various organs of the Democratic Party, and various outside groups, to do some of the heavy lifting. Consistent with the
previous item on this list, this saves money for the campaign. It also, perhaps paradoxically, allows more money overall to be spent,
since PACs and party organs don't face the same contribution limits that individuals do. An actual presidential campaign blows through
something like $1.2 billion these days, but Team Biden expects the total spend on his reelection, between the campaign
and the outside groups, to be more like $2 billion. On top of all this, there are many situations where a group other than
the official campaign is ultimately going to have the greater credibility. For example, those much-desired Latino voters
are more receptive to overtures from, say, Voto Latino than from Biden '24.
- Running the Reagan Playbook: The only president of the last 150 years to run a campaign
where age was a serious problem was Ronald Reagan (if we extend it to 200 years, then William Henry Harrison makes the
list, too). Reagan turned this weakness into an advantage by joking about his age during the 1984 race, most famously his
remark during the first debate with Walter Mondale: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to
exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Biden was already a three-term senator by the time that exchange took place, and he undoubtedly remembers it well. So, it's not too surprising that the President has begun trying out various age-related jokes. For example, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Biden quipped: "I believe in the First Amendment—not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it." Perhaps apropos to the President's habit of "borrowing" from other politicians, that is actually a reworking of a Reagan joke: "Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying." In any event, if Biden treats his age as an unserious problem worthy of a little gentle ribbing, that is almost certainly the best way to confront what is his biggest liability.
- Holding Back: In general, despite Democratic anxiety, Biden is avoiding much in the way of actual campaigning, except to the extent that presidential events, like appearing at the opening of a new microchip plant or giving a speech to a labor union, are also campaign events. Biden certainly knows that you cannot possibly win the presidency 450+ days out. But, if you make a misstep, particularly if you're someone prone to verbal gaffes, you could really shoot yourself in the foot.
What it amounts to is that Biden has been a politician for 50 years, and is about to become only the fourth person to wage a fourth campaign on a major-party ticket (joining Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush; the former pair actually both did it five times between presidential and VP runs). The President is behaving exactly like the veteran politico that he is. (Z)
As we note above, we (and, indirectly, the op-ed writers of The Washington Post) think that Joe Biden is running the exact campaign he needs to be running right now. There was no equivalent WaPo piece for Donald Trump but, since we are on the subject, we'll say that we think he is running the exact campaign he needs to be running right now, too.
Like Biden, Trump is a massive frontrunner. Unlike Biden, Trump has at least one rival he has to keep an eye upon. And the former president has done a very effective job of maintaining his right-wing populist shtick while also taking Ron DeSantis down a few pegs. Most of the time, the former president's attacks on the Governor are personal in nature (e.g., "Ron DeSanctimonious"). Sometimes, Trump focuses on actual policy and governance shortcomings, like what's going on with homeowners' insurance in the Sunshine State right now (see below). And the proof is in the pudding. Yesterday, there was a new Siena College/New York Times that was absolutely stellar for Trump and absolutely brutal for DeSantis.
We'll start with the topline numbers. When all of the candidates are in the picture, Trump has the support of 54% of respondents. That's enough to claim virtually every delegate, of course. DeSantis is the only meaningful challenger, though he's closer to the pack than he is to the former president, with 17% support. No other candidate polled above 3%. Meanwhile, what happens if every other candidate is removed from the equation, and it's just Trump vs. DeSantis? Does the non-Trump vote coalesce behind the Governor? Not so much. In that condition, Trump leads DeSantis 61% to 32%.
Also interesting are the questions about Trump's (alleged) criminality. According to the pollster, among Republicans whose main source of "news" is Fox, a staggering 91% say the former president has not "committed serious federal crimes," while only 5% say he has. Further, 85% of Fox viewers said the Republican Party must stand behind Trump. Numbers like these might just explain why Ronna Romney McDaniel and Rupert Murdoch continue to kowtow to Trump—what other option is there? Among Republicans who consume a broader variety of news, by contrast, 38% think Trump committed serious crimes, while only 49% want the Party to stand behind him. However, folks like that are in the minority in the GOP. Needless to say, if a person thinks Trump is innocent, and that various indictments, etc., are just witch hunts, then it helps explain why every time he gets into deeper trouble, his numbers go up.
And finally, the most interesting numbers are actually in the crosstabs. The pollster asked about various qualities, and whether Trump or DeSantis embodies them the most. Here are the results:
|Strong Leader||69%||22%||Trump +47%|
|Can Beat Joe Biden||58%||28%||Trump +30%|
|Gets Things Done||67%||22%||Trump +45%|
That is just ghastly for DeSantis. First, the Governor only comes out ahead in two categories, and just barely in those. And "a bit more moral than Donald Trump" is not exactly a feather for one's cap. Second, in the categories Trump comes out ahead, he does so by a mile. And they are largely the things that Republican voters care most about, like being strong. Finally, don't forget that DeSantis' whole pitch is "I'm Trumpy, except I actually get things done." Well, DeSantis is down 45 points in "Gets Things Done." So much for that.
It is entirely possible that Trump could run any campaign, or no campaign at all, and he'd still be leaving Snow DeSantis and the seven dwarfs in the dust. We can't know that, but what we can know is that the former president has a hammerlock on the nomination right now, and that it's hard to see what might change that, short of his death. (Z)
Not to kick a man while he's down, but if you're going to run for president, you have to be ready for people to talk as much about the bad news as about the good news. And Ron DeSantis continues to get nothing but bad news for his campaign, over and above the disaster of a poll we discuss above.
Let's start with the story we allude to above, about insurance rates in Florida. In part due to climate change, and in part due to political decisions, the price of insurance has skyrocketed in Florida since DeSantis took office. The trend has affected all forms of insurance, from auto to health to life, but it's particularly noticeable in the area of homeowners' insurance. The Sunshine State is now the most expensive in the nation on that front, with an average annual policy of $7,788, according to a recent study. By way of comparison, the national average is $1,784. And even with the higher prices, many insurers have packed up and left Florida, because they were losing too much money.
Voters in the other 49 states are not directly affected by insurance prices in Florida, of course, and are not likely to base their votes on that problem, per se. However, this does give Donald Trump and other DeSantis opponents an angle of attack against the Governor, and it's one they are already using. "The DeSanctimonious super-PAC, Always Back Down, should focus more on Florida property and auto insurance, which has zoomed to highest-in-the-nation status, and highest by far," Trump said in a video posted to his boutique social media platform. Further, if the high insurance prices cause Florida Republicans to give their primary votes to Trump, then DeSantis is dead in the water. If he can't win his home state, that's pretty much fatal.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has been once again reminding everyone that he's unfamiliar with the old aphorism "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." He could have avoided responsibility for the "slavery did good things for Black people" standards by saying he didn't write them, and he didn't feel qualified to comment. But instead, he keeps doubling and tripling down on how good and how on-point the standards are. As a consequence, he's now in a war of words with several Black Republican officeholders, most notably the very conservative (and popular with Trumpers) Rep. Byron Donalds (FL). Given what has happened with Disney, however, we do not foresee DeSantis backing down or changing course.
And finally, DeSantis got a scathing review this weekend from famous (legendary?) Republican strategist Ed Rollins, whose presidential-campaign experience dates back to Reagan-Bush '84. Here's what Rollins had to say:
I don't think it's the campaign's fault at all; it's [DeSantis']. I think he's been a very flawed candidate. I know some of the people around him, and some of them are good, talented people. But every time he opens his mouth, he has a tendency to—shall we say—think out loud, and he clearly doesn't understand the game. Iowa is not Florida, and he just doesn't get it... He's not a particularly articulate candidate... and the skill you need to become president is typically being able to show voters you connect with them, and that you understand their problems. It was a great skill of [former Presidents] Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, and my sense is that this guy does not have it. He does not come off as warm and fuzzy, and when you get into these culture wars the way that he has, the vast majority of people don't understand what they are... That may work in parts of Florida... but not these other places he needs to win. That is not what sells.
At this point in time, I don't see how [DeSantis is] going to turn it around. I think it's gonna be Trump's game, and at this point in time, I would be shocked if Trump were not the nominee... And at the end of the day, I don't see how Trump is a viable presidential candidate... So, unless something serious happens, Biden is probably going to get a second term, and I could even see Republicans losing their majority in the House.
Incidentally, Rollins is a former Trump supporter who became a never Trumper, and who for a while led a pro-DeSantis PAC. So, he's certainly open to supporting the Governor, though he left the pro-DeSantis PAC after getting a good look at the merchandise.
Now, when you get flayed by a prominent, well-respected elder member of your party, the best choice is probably to ignore it and hope the negative review is quickly forgotten. But that is not DeSantis' style; he's as thin-skinned as Trump is, and simply cannot bear to let slights pass. So, the Governor fired back at Rollins, describing the operative's assessment as "obviously nonsense." Right, because what would a guy with 40 years' high-level campaign experience know?
In any event, when your campaign is faltering, and you're not open to criticism about how you could do better, that's not a great place to be. DeSantis thinks he knows best and by all indications, he will continue to believe that until the day he is forced to suspend his campaign for lack of money. (Z)
Last week, we ran an item headlined "Karma Police," into which we incorporated a bunch of song titles about karma; one per paragraph. We said we would reveal the songs today.
We are going to do that, of course, but we're also going to include two other bits of information. First is alternate songs suggested by readers who sent their answers in. Second, reader C.H. in Atlanta, GA, submitted the whole quiz to ChatGPT. So, continuing with our "How good is AI?" series, we'll give those answers, too. And away we go:
|Para.||Our Song||Other Possibilities||AI's Answer|
|1||Instant Karma, John Lennon||Instant Karma|
|2||You Get What You Give, New Radicals||Bad Behaviour, Mabel||You Get What You Give|
|3||Run Of The Mill, George Harrison|| Legal Eagles, Rod Stewart
Lies, Fleetwood Mac
At the Outset, Angelo Giambra
|Give It Away, Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|4||Only A Matter Of Time, Joshua Bassett|| Espionage Act, Mosey Jones
Only a Matter of Time, Dream Theater
|Turn off the Camera, Reel Big Fish|
|5||Bad Blood, Taylor Swift|| Obstruction of Justice, Danny Hinrichs
Like a Canary, Johnny Action Figure
The Prisoner's Dilemma, Brian Whitmer
|Tangled Up in Blue, Bob Dylan|
|6||Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood|| A Tangled Web We Weave, Tim Reynolds
Tangled Web, Matt Hires
The Point of No Return, Kansas
Double Down, Hunter and the Dirty Jacks
|Chameleon, Herbie Hancock|
|7||Karma's Payment, Modest Mouse|| Deep Doo Doo, Tom Lehrer
Get Closer, Seals & Crofts
Matter of Time, Sharon Jones
|Tuesday, iLoveMakonnen ft. Drake|
|8||What Goes Around... Comes Around, Justin Timberlake|| Walls Get Closer, Ko Ko Mo
General Public, General Public
Painful Lesson, Ben Becker
|What Goes Around... Comes Around|
|9||Karma Chameleon, Culture Club|| Bad Karma, Axel Thesleff
Behind Bars, Slick Rick
|Bad Karma, Ida Maria|
Thanks to readers K.H. in Maryville, TN; M.W. in Los Altos Hills, CA; M.P. in Los Angeles, CA; P.F. in Wixom, MI; C.R. in Vancouver, BC, Canada; V.M. in Cleveland, OH; S.S. in Toronto, ON, Canada; C.M. in Frisco, TX; J.A. in St Petersburg, FL; A.B. in Wendell, NC; V.H. in Tucson, AZ; C.K.S. in Berkeley, CA; D.E. in Lancaster, PA; G.C. in Alexandria, VA; J.N. in Zionsville, IN; J.K. in Stanhope, NJ; V.F. in Bowie, MD; M.D.H. in Coralville, IA; T.B. in Richardson, TX and J.B. in Nashville, TN, for the additional suggestions, and again to C.H. in Atlanta for the AI submission. With a 30% success rate, the AI didn't do very well, obviously. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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