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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Somebody Lied to the Grand Jury...
      •  ...Meanwhile, Jack Smith Is on Trump like White on Rice
      •  More Health Problems for Fetterman
      •  Lake Loses...
      •  ...And So Does Hector LaSalle
      •  Biden Gets Clean Bill of Health
      •  Gasping for Oxygen
      •  This Week in Schadenfreude: Gimme Some Truth
      •  This Week in Freudenfreude: Buzz Off

Somebody Lied to the Grand Jury...

In response to FOIA lawsuits filed by a consortium of media outlets, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney announced at the start of the week that, on Thursday, he would release the introduction and conclusion of the report filed by the Fulton County Grand Jury that was empaneled by DA Fani Willis to look at any crimes Donald Trump and his underlings might have committed in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. McBurney followed through on that promise, and made the promised document available early Thursday.

It is, in short... short. The whole thing is a total of 9 pages, and nearly all of that is functional stuff (title pages, affirmations that the document is truthful, a cover page with the judge's order to release, etc.). If you are interested in stuff with some actual juice, well, there are a total of about 100 words that qualify. There's this passage from the introduction:

The Grand Jury heard extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and State of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons still claiming that such fraud took place we find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election.

And there is this passage from the conclusion:

VIII: A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it. The Grand Jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.

And that is all she wrote. Well, all they wrote.

Fans of democracy, and fans of egg ending up on Donald Trump's face, will be pleased to see that yet another entity has weighed in to decree that "stop the steal" is nonsense (and see below for another example). However, the really tantalizing portion is the second excerpt. Certainly, that is the part that everyone is talking about.

Naturally, the things that everyone wants to know are: (1) exactly how many people perjured themselves, and (2) who was it? Yesterday's release has absolutely nothing to help answer those two questions; there could be "one" perjurer or there could be "more," and there is nary a clue as to their identity/identities. A total of roughly 60 people testified; the most high-profile were Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Kemp and Raffensperger both declined comment yesterday, saying they would let the process play out. The other four, all of whom have been known to play fast and loose with the truth, issued statements insisting that they are not the perjurer. Actually, they finessed things a bit more than that, with liberal use of lawyer-speak. Eastman, for example, decreed that he "remains confident that his representation of former President Trump was well within the strictures of the law." His inability, and the inability of the others, to just say "I told the truth" may be instructive. Note, incidentally, that Trump did not testify for the grand jury. So, while he is certainly perjury-prone, he is not the person being referred to in the report.

Meanwhile, although you can find a hundred "Who's the perjurer?" pieces right now, there is another detail in the latter passage that nobody seems to be commenting on. Certainly nobody that we could find, and we looked. Notice that it is labeled "VIII." Clearly, the previous pages contain conclusions I through VII. Were some or all of those conclusions about other criminal acts the jury felt had taken place? If that is the case (or even if it isn't), how come those conclusions were redacted and conclusion VIII was not? There are other portions of the report where things are blacked out, so the Judge clearly owns a Sharpie pen and could have used it to black conclusion VIII out. But he didn't. Maybe there is something that lawyers know about documents like this that we do not, but this seems just as interesting to us as the very broad allegation of perjury.

And now that this morsel is out there, everyone gets to wait for... who knows how long? The Judge has suggested he might release more of the report, but he hasn't firmly committed to doing so, nor has he offered a timeline. Willis has implied that decisions are coming soon, but has also given no timeline. What we do know is that there are many, many, many, many, many folks out there predicting that indictments are certain. We can't find anyone predicting that Willis is just going to drop this and move on with her life. (Z)

...Meanwhile, Jack Smith Is on Trump like White on Rice

Special Counsel Jack Smith has been on the job for a little over a month. And, quite clearly, he rolled up his sleeves and got right to work when he took over the investigation into Donald Trump, the 1/6 insurrection, election interference, etc. And, as with the partial Georgia grand jury report (see above), there is a trail of clues that is tantalizing, but that points to information currently not available for public viewing.

Prior to yesterday, it was already known that Smith was locked in legal battles with all manner of Trump insiders, largely with an eye toward compelling testimony, or the surrender of evidence, or both. The subjects of those suits include former Mike Pence chief counsel Greg Jacob and chief of staff Marc Short, former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former Trump deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin, and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

And yesterday, CNN revealed that they've managed to dig up at least eight other court cases that Smith and his team have filed, and that are currently under seal. CNN and other media outlets are pushing for details and documents to be released, as with the Georgia grand jury report, but there's been no real movement on that front thus far.

There's not much else for us to say, since so little is known about the eight newly revealed cases. However, if we were up against someone who had brought more than a dozen legal actions in a month (far, far ahead of the pace of Robert Mueller), we certainly wouldn't be sleeping well at night. (Z)

More Health Problems for Fetterman

As we noted earlier this week, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) had to check into the hospital last weekend due to lightheadedness. There was concern that he might be experiencing further neurological problems due to the stroke he had during the 2022 campaign, but doctors gave him a clean bill of health and sent him home.

As of Wednesday, he's back in the hospital. This time, the issue is a "severe" flare-up of clinical depression. According to a statement from his office, he's wrestled with this issue throughout his adult life, but got to the point of requiring intervention sometime in the past couple of weeks. So, to the hospital he went.

It seems plain to us that for the Senator to recognize he needs help, and for him to have the courage to go get that help, and for him to have the transparency to tell the truth about what is going on are three rather major points in his favor. And, to their credit, his Democratic colleagues see it the same way, and have rallied around him. "Happy to hear @SenFettermanPA is getting the help he needs and deserves. Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), "I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon." Other Democratic senators shared similar sentiments.

That said, most readers know that mental health issues forced Thomas Eagleton off the Democratic ticket in 1972. Today, American society isn't that much better when it comes to stigmatizing those with mental health challenges. And, at the same time there are many political actors willing to exploit any angle of attack they can find. So, it's not exactly a surprise that, for example, last night's Fox programming was full of cheap shots at the Senator's expense. Laura Ingraham, who must have gotten a Ph.D. in psychology while we weren't looking, was particularly outspoken; her expert diagnosis is that this is all the fault of Fetterman's wife Gisele, who apparently pushed him to run for the Senate when he did not wish to do so. Ingraham then compared Giselle Fetterman to Lady Macbeth, which is certainly very... literary. That said, does anyone really think that the Fox host has read the play? Or even the SparkNotes for the play? Or anything more challenging than one of those little pieces of paper inside of fortune cookies?

Of course, Fetterman has about 5 years before he has to face voters again, assuming he stands for reelection. And that is presumably plenty of time to put this in the rearview mirror, and to demonstrate to the world that he's well. For now, we extend our best wishes for a full recovery. (Z)

Lake Loses...

Have you seen that headline before? Something like half a dozen times at this point? Yes, yes you have. And yet, wannabe governor Kari Lake (R) just keeps losing.

Her latest defeat was courtesy of a three-judge panel on the Arizona Court of Appeals. They ruled unanimously that she has absolutely no case when it comes to overturning the gubernatorial result and replacing Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) as the state's chief executive. Judge Peter A. Thompson, writing for the court, essentially eviscerated Lake's whole case, determining that nobody was denied their right to vote and that Lake and her attorneys presented zero evidence for any of their claims.

Lake is a real glutton for punishment, because she's already vowed that she will appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. It is true that court is made up entirely of justices appointed by Republican governors. However, they have not been willing to sign off on any election-denial nonsense thus far, and any court is going to be extremely reluctant to eject a governor who has already commenced their term. Further, Arizona law is written in such a way that Lake would have to prove that there was willful action meant specifically to keep her from winning. It is not enough to show that mistakes were made, even major ones. Of course, since Lake has no evidence for anything she claims, what she can and cannot prove is something of a moot point.

We are not certain how far gone Lake really is, but we are inclined to doubt that she really thinks she can win this thing. Presumably, this is a show being performed for an audience of one at Mar-a-Lago. And maybe this is impressing Trump, though he's very clearly on the record as preferring "winners" over "losers." Alternatively, this might be a way for Lake to keep her name in the headlines in anticipation of a Senate bid. If so, good luck with that. Arizona voters rejected her even before this long-form temper tantrum, and are not likely to look more warmly upon her now. (Z)

...And So Does Hector LaSalle

We must admit, we still have no idea exactly what is going on with Gov. Kathy Hochul (D?-NY). As a reminder, when a vacancy arises unexpectedly on New York's highest court, the state's Commission on Judicial Nomination sends over a list of seven candidates for the governor to choose from. And that's exactly what they did about a month ago, when the chief judge's seat came open. Even before getting the list, Hochul announced that she was going to appoint someone who would protect abortion rights. Then, she turned around and chose Hector LaSalle, the least abortion-rights-friendly guy on the list, at least judging (no pun intended) by his past jurisprudence. As a bonus, he's also hostile to labor. Between that pick, and several other high-profile moves, like an $850 million handout to the Buffalo Bills, Hochul has often seemed more like a moderate Republican (e.g., Chris Sununu, R-NH) than like the moderate Democrat she claims to be.

It was pretty clear, from the beginning, that the LaSalle nomination was in trouble. And yesterday, he was officially sunk. The Judge had already gotten the thumbs down from the state Senate's Judiciary Committee, but Hochul, who apparently enjoys tilting at windmills, insisted on a full vote before the state Senate. The senators finally complied, and resoundingly rejected the nomination, 39-20. Hochul says she will now pick another name from the list, which means that at least the Governor is better at accepting defeat than Kari Lake is (see above).

The best theory we've got here is that Hochul chose LaSalle (who, despite his French last name, is Latino) to try to shore up her support among Latino voters, and she kept fighting until the bitter end to send a message to those voters. However, we are skeptical that "I tried and failed to get a Latino on the high court" will impress many older Latinos. As to younger Latinos, they were among LaSalle's fiercest critics. Also, whatever the benefits to Hochul were here, did it really help her to get bopped on the head twice by the state Senate, as opposed to just taking her medicine once and then bowing to reality?

In short, it seems like pretty poor politics to us. And between that, and Hochul's rather narrow victory at the polls in 2022, she is surely going to draw some pretty serious Democratic opposition in the 2026 primary (assuming she stands for reelection). New York does tend to reelect its governors once they are in office, but the Empire Staters are also willing to eject a governor they don't like, at least on occasion, including the last person (David Paterson) who took over for a disgraced governor that was compelled to resign. (Z)

Biden Gets Clean Bill of Health

Joe Biden underwent his second annual physical this week, and yesterday, Physician to the President Kevin C. O'Connor released his findings. It's a pretty thorough 5-page breakdown, and its major conclusions are that the results are basically the same as last year, and that "President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief."

Among the specifics that might be of interest, O'Connor noted that Biden underwent an "extremely detailed neurologic exam," and passed it with flying colors, showing no signs of stroke, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis. We will assume the tests administered to Biden were more substantive than the one that Donald Trump bragged about passing, wherein the then-president had to draw a clock and identify which picture is the lion and which one is the camel. Biden's health report also reveals he does not partake of alcohol or tobacco. And yet, nary a word about amphetamines or sniffing glue. Hmmm...

By all indications, O'Connor appears to be a capable and thorough physician and a credit to his profession. That said, we don't think this report means all that much, one way or the other. Unless a president is so impaired that he's ready to resign, then revealing some sort of serious health problem would just create turmoil for the country. It also would presumably be vetoed by that president, who is protected by HIPAA just like anyone else, and can certainly say "No, you can't tell the whole world about my [health problem]." This is presumably why a presidential physician has never come out and said: "You know, I don't think this guy's up to the job anymore." On the other hand, we've had numerous presidential physicians, including now-congressman Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who were later shown to have fudged the truth.

And so, the eye test is probably just as useful as the annual report from the presidential physician. And according to our eye test results, Biden looks to be in pretty good shape, physically and mentally. Sure, he looks worn out sometimes, and sure, he trips over his tongue sometimes. However, the same was true of Barack Obama, and when he took office, Obama was more than 30 years younger than Biden is now. It's a tough job, and if it gets the better of a president on occasion, well, they're only human. (Z)

Gasping for Oxygen

Donald Trump still gets plenty of publicity, in service of his already announced 2024 presidential run. Gov. Ron DeSantis gets plenty of publicity, in service of his sure-to-be-announced-eventually 2024 presidential run. And between them, they suck up so much of the oxygen that there isn't much left for other wannabe Republican presidential nominees.

This, in turn, forces the second-tier folks to flail about wildly in search of some attention. Consider, for example, Mike Pence. He has been hinting all week that he might just launch a 2024 presidential bid. Yeah, no kidding Mike. That's like us hinting that we might have a posting on Wednesday of next week. Everyone already knows. Anyhow, as he tries to build some momentum, Pence has been glomming on to anything he can in order to try to get people talking. In the past 48 hours, he's whined about Joe Biden not sharing enough information about the Chinese balloon saga, called for Social Security to be (partly) privatized, railed against "crazy" transgender policies in schools, and announced that he is launching a $1 million initiative to combat "the left's obsessions with race and sex and gender" in education.

And then there is Nikki Haley, whose just-announced presidential bid already appears to be stuck in the mud. Her angle, over the past day or two, has been to attack Joe Biden's mental state, and to demand that the President undergo a mental competency test. We suppose that if anyone has expertise in what it looks like when a president has lost some of his marbles, it's Nikki Haley (and about 1,000 other members of the previous administration). Still, this is just empty posturing, since no president is going to start jumping through hoops just because a second-tier member of the opposition party insists upon it. Plus, Biden just passed a neurological exam (see above).

And finally, there is Sarah Palin. That's right, Palin believes she still has a political career and a future in Washington, despite the fact that she lost two elections in a row in 2022... in the red state of Alaska. She is not so far gone that she thinks she could be elected president, but she is so far gone that she thinks she's an excellent VP candidate. Hm, how well did that work out the last time?

In any event, in an effort to curry favor with would-be running mate Donald Trump, Palin has made it her personal mission to persuade DeSantis that 2024 is not his year and that he'd be much better off running in 2028. "I envision him as our president someday, but not right now," Palin explained during an interview on Newsmax. "Everybody I speak with in Florida, they all love him. And he does set the tone for, I'd say every other governor in the nation. I think he's our best governor and he should stay governor for a bit longer." In politics, you strike while the iron is hot, which means that this is just about the worst political advice we've ever heard. Who knew that serving as mayor of a tiny town in Alaska does not guarantee that a person will develop a keen mind for political strategy? Naturally, DeSantis doesn't give a tinker's damn about what Palin thinks. Trump either, quite probably.

We pass along all of this bloviating because there has been a lot of it in a short period of time, and because it allows us to point out that there is going to be a whole bunch more of it as these folks try to suck up whatever crumbs are being left by DeSantis and Trump. On a related note, Amazon will sell you 500 pairs of ear plugs for just $44.60. Could be a wise investment in your mental health. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude: Gimme Some Truth

"Veritas" means "truth" in Latin. And so, "Project Veritas" is most definitely in the running for the title of most ironic name of all time, since that organization is about as interested in the truth as Pinocchio was during his "wood" period. Project Veritas is a propaganda organization of the first order, using various deceptive practices (like heavily edited videos) to create scandals for Democrats where none exists.

The founder of Project Veritas is James O'Keefe, whose Wikipedia page notes that he has the support of both right-wing and far-right-wing groups. Diversity! Anyone who has followed his public career, which dates back to the early 2000s, knows he is a sleazeball, through and through. And now, his own organization has apparently been compelled to admit that.

When someone is a sleazeball in one area of their life, they are usually a sleazeball in other areas, as well. And whaddya know, O'Keefe fits that model to a T. In addition to his unethical "journalistic" practices, it turns out that he's an abusive boss who has triggered numerous lawsuits for creating a hostile workplace environment and for harassment. Further, he is in possible legal trouble over his efforts to acquire a diary that was stolen from presidential granddaughter Ashley Biden. There may be other issues, too; these are the ones that happen to be known because of court filings.

As a result of his troubles, O'Keefe has been placed on paid leave, and may be shoved out the door. Since he's a jerk who poisons the U.S. democracy with his lies, that would be a pretty excellent outcome. But it gets better, because to many of the folks who fund Project Veritas, it's really just Project James O'Keefe. Some of them have sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that he be kept on board. And so, if the organization has to cashier him just to limit legal exposure, it may well implode. As one person who was interviewed for the piece linked above noted: "Quite frankly, he's the company."

There's nothing wrong with some rough and tumble politics, on occasion. But what O'Keefe and Project Veritas do is beyond the pale, as they concoct flat-out lies out of thin air. So, if one or both is taken down, that certainly justifies a little schadenfreude. (Z)

This Week in Freudenfreude: Buzz Off

You may have heard that the United States has sometimes had a wee problem with racism. And one of the ways that manifests today is in a certain paranoia, among some white people, that Black people are up to no good much/most/all of the time.

Consider, for example, the police report filed against Bobbi Wilson, who is Black and lives in Caldwell, NJ. That is in an area affected by lanternflies, an invasive species that wreaks havoc on local plants. The state agricultural department asked citizens to help fight off the insects, and so Wilson devised a pesticide of her own making, and went to war. A neighbor called 911 to file a complaint against a "Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees." A drive-by pesticiding, perhaps? Oh, and by the way, Wilson is 6 years old.

Needless to say, that neighbor really needs to sit and think about what she's done. In the interim, however, the Yale School of Public Health learned what had happened, and decided to do something about it. They asked Wilson to donate her collection of lanternflies, which was then mounted and put on display in the university's Peabody Museum. And Yale also held a ceremony at which Wilson was presented with an award recognizing her efforts as a young scientist.

So, it's a story with a sad middle, but a pretty happy ending. Frankly, if Yale is smart, they'll just admit Wilson to the Class of '38 right now. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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