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Happy Memorial Day! We were trying to think of something fitting to write, and then reader A.H. in Newberg, OR, sent in something that does the job perfectly. So, we shall yield the floor to A.H.:

For many people, Memorial Day is the beginning of summer. Time for a relaxing 3-day weekend. Burgers on the BBQ.

For some Memorial Day has a more somber meaning. I have a brother, a high school classmate, a father-in-law, several aunts, uncles and friends buried at Willamette National Cemetary. Gary was killed by a drunk driver. Dick was KIA in Vietnam. The others from natural causes. All served! All are remembered this Memorial Day. We visited 6 different cemeteries, placing flowers and remembrances, it was a 10-hour day, but a day well spent. It was a beautiful and pleasant day here in the Pacific Wonderland.

I owe a deep note of thanks and appreciation to all those who maintain our cemeteries, and especially those who oversee the veterens cemeteries. Please enjoy your time off and the burgers, time with family and friends, a well deserved adult beverage. But, please, also remember the men and women who defend our nation and have given that last full measure to protect us.

Thanks, A.H., and "hear, hear!".

Biden and McCarthy Have a Deal--in Principle

Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reached a deal late Saturday on the debt ceiling. Actually, they didn't reach a deal at all. Democrats Steve Ricchetti and Shalanda Young reached a deal with Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Garret Graves (R-LA) on behalf of their respective bosses. The key aspects of the deal are as follows:

  • It suspends the debt ceiling to get past the 2024 elections, something Biden had demanded.
  • It freezes federal spending that had been on track to grow (but will not lower it in actual dollars).
  • It extends work requirements for food stamp recipients aged 50-54 but expands access for veterans.
  • It claws back $30 billion in COVID relief money that hasn't been spent yet.
  • The amount of new money IRS gets for enhanced enforcement will be reduced from $80 billion to $60 billion.
  • It speeds up the environmental reviews for certain energy projects (to make Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, happy).
  • The military and veterans get a bit more money.
  • Some "creative accounting" is used to cover up what will actually happen.

Some things that one of the parties wanted are not in the proposal, including:

  • Closing a number of tax loopholes Biden wanted
  • Repealing clean energy credits
  • Wiping out Biden's plans to cancel some student loans

In the end, it's really just small potatoes even though both sides will claim a huge victory. What the agreement does is mostly freeze the budget for 2 years and tweak a couple of small things. It is not zero-based budgeting, in which $100-billion programs get thrown out because somebody thought they had outlived their usefulness. It doesn't come close to balancing the budget, something last done by Bill Clinton. It doesn't involve abolishing any federal agencies. It doesn't shrink the government so Grover Norquist can drown it in a bathtub. It is just more of the same, plus or minus a couple of percent here and there.

Plenty of folks are unhappy with the deal. Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) said that everything the Freedom Caucus fought for had been omitted in the proposed bill. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) called it a "turd sandwich." Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) told CNN's Jake Tapper that Biden had better worry about the progressive caucus not voting for the bill. Lindsay Owens, executive director of the liberal Groundwork Collaboration, said that it would force budget cuts in domestic programs and make it harder for IRS to catch wealthy tax cheats. Abraham Lincoln couldn't have put it better: You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said: "There's not one thing in the bill for Democrats." That's kinda true, as it generally is in hostage situations. The relatives of the hostage rarely get money from the terrorists. Best case is that the hostage doesn't get shot. So was it here. The Democrats had to give up a few things they would have had absent this whole stunt, but getting the Republicans to suddenly agree to a $15/hr minimum wage or free college was never on the table. The position that Ricchetti and Young took was: "How much of our budget do we have to give up to avoid having the Republicans destroy the U.S. credit rating and the world economy?" It was never a deal between equals on a new bill—say, how much pork do we each get in an infrastructure bill—where there is genuine give and take.

Now the package has to pass both chambers of Congress. House conservatives are going to balk because it barely does anything, although one encouraging sign is that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), initially seemed pleased with it. House progressives are going to balk because, in their view, it gives away the farm. Neither group wants to give the other one anything because the other side is simply wrong on everything. Few members of Congress have much experience with cutting bipartisan deals, which usually result in getting less than your side wants. If majorities of both parties support the deal, it should pass in both chambers, even if not everyone will be pleased. The bill needs 218 votes in the House, not 400 votes. That's good, because it won't get 400 votes, but it will probably get 218 votes and then some.

The Senate will probably go along with it because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He knows that if Senate Republicans filibuster the deal, they will take most of the blame. He does not want that.

A key question now is whether the Freedom Caucus will make a motion to vacate the chair, that is, fire McCarthy. Part of the deal McCarthy was forced into to get the speaker's gavel was to change the rules to allow a single member to make a motion to vacate the chair. Assuming that all 213 Democrats will vote for such a motion, just to cause chaos on the other side, along with five Republicans, then McCarthy is history and we start all over again. It is a bit too soon to see if there are five Republican votes to get rid of McCarthy, much less a unified Democratic vote, but there are no doubt discussions going on right now behind closed doors. One thing we can be sure of is that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) will not be one of the votes to toss McCarthy out on his ear. She just paid $100,000 for his used chapstick. Talk about true love.

How was this story covered yesterday? As expected, almost all the major news outlets led with the deal, though CNN led with story about whether Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) was going to run for president. But to make up for that, the next three stories were about various aspects of the deal. In contrast, it was in the seventh slot at

Fox News Website May 28

After all, photos of tuck-friendly swimsuits, and whether Target will continue to sell them, are more important that whether the world economy goes into a depression. And a story about some 13-year old Australian girl who died from inhaling fumes from a deodorant can was a close second. You can't make this stuff up. (V)

Texas House Impeaches State AG Ken Paxton

It isn't often that a Republican-controlled legislative body impeaches a Republican officeholder, no matter how corrupt he is. But lo and behold, Saturday the Texas House impeached Texas AG Warren "Ken" Paxton on a vote of 121-23, with 60 of the 86 Republicans voting for impeachment. Paxton is only the third Texas official to be impeached in the 180-year history of the state. So, surprisingly, there is a limit to how much corruption even 21st century Republicans will accept. Who knew?

There were 20 articles of impeachment approved by the state legislature. Paxton was impeached for not carrying out required duties, abusing his power, bribery, obstruction of justice, making false statements in public records, lying on his financial statements, conspiracy, misusing public funds, dereliction of duty, firing whistleblowers, and abusing the public trust, among other things. Paxton clearly believes in full-service corruption. Oh, and he's also under indictment for securities fraud, but that wasn't on the menu Saturday.

According to Texas law, once the vote was taken and Paxton was impeached, he was automatically suspended from his job. Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) has the option of appointing an interim AG until the Senate trial is held. The trial date is uncertain because the legislative session ends today, so Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) will have to call a special session for it. If Abbott declines to name an interim AG, the current first assistant AG, Brent Webster, becomes acting AG until the state Senate votes. The Texas Senate has 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. They are paid $7,200/year plus a per diem, not exactly a Texas-sized salary, which may not result in the best and the brightest running for the state legislature (representatives get the same deal). It takes 21 votes in the Senate for a conviction. Since Paxton has his supporters, every vote may count.

Texas legislators are divided on the case. State Rep. Andrew Murr (R), who led the investigation into Paxton, told the representatives: "We will not tolerate corruption, bribery, abuse of office, retaliation and all the related charges that have been presented to you." On the other hand, Rep. John Smithee (R) defended Paxton by saying: "It's what I call the 'hang them now and judge them later' policy." Of course that is not true. Paxton will not be hanged at all, no matter what, and will have the chance to defend himself at the Senate trial. Democratic Rep. Ann Johnson really laid into Paxton for being so corrupt, as did other Democrats. House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) tried his best to stay neutral and keep the impeachment hearing orderly, and was largely successful. He ultimately voted to impeach, though.

Now comes the icky part. In 2018, Paxton had an affair with a woman who worked as an aide to a state senator. After he ended it, he didn't want her to go blabbing about it to the media (although his wife found out anyway). So he made a deal with his friend and donor, wealthy Austin real estate developer, Nate Paul, to give her a cushy job with his company and also to remodel his (Paxton's) house in return for favorable decisions in some foreclosure cases in which Paxton intervened for Paul. As we note above, the Senate vote after the trial could be close since a two-thirds majority is needed for conviction. One state senator who will be under very close scutiny will be Sen. Angela Paxton—Paxton's (still) wife. Some folks think she ought to recuse herself from the matter, but she is not saying what she will do because her vote could be the deciding one. Another senator who will be closely watched is Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), who is named in one of the articles of impeachment for having helped Paxton commit his crimes. It's messy. It's Texas. You expected otherwise?

Now comes the fun part. Paxton is as corrupt as can be, even by Texas standards, and everyone in the state legislature knows that. Even for $7,200/year you get people who graduated from at least elementary school and who can read and maybe write. So why does anyone support him? Maybe it has something to do with Donald Trump's enormous support for Paxton, who is a Texas-sized Trump fan. Paxton has led numerous court cases defending Trump. After the House debate began, Trump began posting to his boutique social media site, explaining who was behind the impeachment: "It is the Radical Left Democrats, RINOS, and Criminals that never stop. ELECTION INTERFERENCE! Free Ken Paxton, let them wait for the next election!" After the vote, Trump posted a video that purports to show that Phelan was drunk during the debate.

Oh, and during the debate, Paxton called several members of the legislature, threatening them if they voted for impeachment and conviction. Democrats threatened back, asking for a new article of impeachment for intimidation and jury tampering, but that didn't make it.

The ball is now in Patrick's court. As president of the state Senate, he gets to set the rules for the trial. He is a strong supporter of Paxton and especially Trump. He even claims credit for having Trump kick off his 2024 campaign in Waco, of all places. But this puts him on the opposite side from most Republican members of the state legislature. Should be interesting. (V)

Texas Legislature Changes Election Procedures in Harris County

After it spent Saturday impeaching Ken Paxton, the Texas legislature got to work during its last day of the session actually legislating. The Republicans who control the legislature are clearly worried that demographic change might some day turn Texas blue, so they decided to deal with that possibility proactively. They passed a bill that changes elections procedures in Harris County, home to Houston, but not in other counties. Republicans say the bill is about election reform. Democrats say it is about voter suppression.

The bill gives the Texas secretary of state, currently and historically a Republican, the power to take over elections in Harris County if the secretary deems that necessary. In truth the elections in the 4.8-million person county have not always been perfect, but that is also true of other counties in Texas, which are not subject to takeover by the state. If the legislators were really concerned about making sure all Texas elections were run well, they could have appropriated more money to hire and train more poll workers, buy more voting machines, etc., but they didn't do that. Maybe it is just a coincidence that while Donald Trump won Texas by 6 points, he lost Harris County by 13 points. Maybe not.

This is not the first time the legislature has interfered with voting procedures. During the pandemic, Harris County allowed drive-through voting, so people could vote from their cars. That made voting too easy, so the legislature banned it. It also passed a law banning election officials from mailing voters unsolicited applications for absentee ballots, even though Texas allows absentee voting only by people over 65 and disabled voters. On Sunday the legislature also approved making illegal voting a felony with a prison term of 20 years, even though almost no illegal voting happens. Opponents of the bill said that this could scare some voters who are not sure of their eligibility to vote into not voting.

The Texas Constitution has a provision that bars the state from passing laws that apply only to limited jurisdictions. Democrats will challenge the new legislation on that basis. Republicans say that since the bill does not name Harris County by name, but applies to all counties with a population over 3.5 million (of which Harris happens to be the only one), it is constitutional. Ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court, all of whose justices are Republican appointees, will get to decide. (V)

Musk's Challenge to Murdoch Is Back to Square One

Elon Musk thinks big, like electric cars, rockets to space, owning social media sites, etc. One thing that he has obviously been mulling is a challenge to Rupert Murdoch to be king of the right wing mountain. Since the Internet is gradually replacing television as the world's main information source, it is certainly possible that a polished right-wing news site could challenge a polished right-wing television network for dominance in the right-o-sphere.

Unfortunately for Musk, last week's disastrous rollout of Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) presidential campaign changed all that. The botched announcement showed not only that DeSantis was not ready for prime time but also that Musk's new baby, Twitter Spaces, explodes just as nicely as his rockets. And even if all had gone well, the audience was never more than 600,000 at any moment, far less than the 2-3 million that Fox News gets during prime time. In the battle for conservative eyeballs, there is also the matter of whether people would prefer to spend a couple of hours a day staring at a large-screen TV or a 4-inch phone.

DeSantis' decision to bet on Musk rather than Murdoch was an intentional snub of Fox "News" and Murdoch. Does DeSantis feel that Murdoch is still in the tank for Trump and there is nothing he can do to change that, so his goal was to take Fox News down a couple of pegs and make Musk the new kingmaker? Maybe, but in any event, it didn't work and both DeSantis and Musk have to start all over again. It's not clear how Musk can get rebooted, although if he can line up Tucker Carlson to appear exclusively on Twitter Spaces, that might work. On the other hand, if Carlson is Musk's only star, who will be the bossing who around there? Also, Carlson's contract with Fox says he can't join the competition for over another year, so Fox might either stop paying him or sue him or both if he helps Musk start a news or entertainment source that competes with Fox.

In any event, the explosion (on Twitter, not in space), is surely going to stymie Musk's ambitions for a while and the easiest way to reboot (getting Carlson to host a daily program on Twitter Spaces) is apparently fraught with technical problems. Musk seems to understand that all is not well in Twitter land, so he just hired Linda Yaccarino to run Twitter. But her background is television marketing, not technology, and his problem is more technology than marketing so she might not be the best choice to fit the moment. (V)

Gov. Doug Who? (R-ND) Is Planning to Run for President

We're a full-service political site. Every time some weirdo who thinks he can topple Donald Trump decides to enter the Republican fray, we'll report it—once. The latest entrant in the "I'm bored so I'll run for president" sweepstakes is Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND). Burgum is in his second term as governor and the North Dakota legislature doesn't pass a lot of bills, so Burgum has too much time on his hands and nothing to do. The one thing that makes Burgum somewhat different from Asa Hutchinson, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and some others who are completely wasting their time running is that Burgum is a self-made billionaire. As a young man, he started a software company that he grew and later sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion. So theoretically he could spend, say, $50 million in Iowa, and maybe come in fourth or fifth. Many billionaires think they could be president (think: Michael Bloomberg). It comes with the territory. The only reason Elon Musk hasn't jumped in already is that he is not a natural-born American citizen, having been born in South Africa.

Anyway, Burgum has been a successful and popular governor, but they are a dime a dozen. Burgum is planning to run in the not-Trump lane, but he is not alone there. In addition to Hutchinson and Scott, there is also Nikki Haley and perhaps soon Chris Christie and maybe Chris Sununu. It will be mighty crowded there and they can fight over the crumbs.

What all of these folks seem to miss is that we are rapidly heading back to 2016, in which half a dozen or more candidates split up the 60-70% of the anti-Trump vote and Trump comes in first in all the primaries with maybe 30% of the vote and gets all the delegates in the winner-take-all contests. The problem is that each not-Trump candidate thinks that he or she is the best one of bunch, so they fight each other, dragging each other down while Trump cruises to victory in primary after primary. We've seen this movie before and know already how it ends. (V)

RNC Is Working on Requirements for the Debates

Currently, seven people have formally announced they are running for the Republican presidential nomination:

  • Ron DeSantis
  • Larry Elder
  • Nikki Haley
  • Asa Hutchinson
  • Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Tim Scott
  • Donald Trump

Three more are likely to announce soon:

  • Doug Burgum
  • Chris Christie
  • Mike Pence

One more, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA), might wait for one more to show up (e.g., Chris Sununu) and then jump in himself to make a dirty dozen. This is going to give RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel a queen-size headache. In 2016, there were so many candidates that the RNC had to divide them into two groups, the grown-ups and the kiddies, and put them at separate tables and have them debate separately. We are almost at the point of no return this time as well. If all 10 of the candidates in the two lists above go for it, that will be a 9-man, 1-woman debate. If it lasts 90 minutes, everyone will get 9 minutes on average. That's not much time for any of the less-well-known candidates to break through. If a dozen or more candidates are in by August, when the debate is scheduled (in Milwaukee), having all of them on stage at once is just not going to work.

Consequently, McDaniel is going to be forced to have some algorithm for separating the sheep from the goats. She probably doesn't want this particular assignment, since it will lead to some unhappy goats braying at her, but she probably can't avoid it. In 2015, the ten candidates who were polling the highest made the prime time debate and all the rest were sent to the kiddies table. To make the cut then, a candidate had to be averaging about 3% in major polls.

McDaniel is now holding discussions with at least some of the campaigns about this year's rules. One possibility being bandied about is a minimum of 1% in the polls but also some minimum number of donors, say 50,000. Additionally, a criterion could be some minimum (e.g. 200) donors in each of at least 20 states, to prevent regional candidates with no national base from getting on stage. So far no decision has been made, but to be fair to the candidates, one is needed soon so they can know whether they should prioritize moving up in the polls or attracting donors from many states. If the latter is the case, lesser-known candidates may have to spend time in states they might not otherwise have gone to, just to get enough donors from there. Tim Scott, welcome to California!

One cloud hanging over the first debate is whether Donald Trump will show up. He will certainly meet all the criteria, but he has threatened not to take part. Some strategists think that skipping the debate would make him look cowardly and also cause him to miss an opportunity to present himself to independent voters. But this is the kind of decision Trump makes on his own, consulting only his gut. It is similar to the ancient Roman way of examining the entrails of a goat before making major decisions, except no sacrifice is needed, just an MRI scan. (V)

Club for Growth Is Running an Ad Attacking Donald Trump's Social Security "Plan"

Sometimes it is hard to tell the players without a scorecard. The Club for Growth is a right-wing organization but it doesn't like Donald Trump at all. He's too much of a RINO for them. It is now running this ad attacking Trump for his Social Security "plan":

What is a bit odd here is that Trump doesn't have a plan for Social Security. He says he won't change anything about the system. Yet how can the ad claim that Trump's "plan" will cut seniors' benefits 23%? What it seems to imply, but doesn't say, is that if nothing changes, the Social Security Trust Fund will run dry in about 10 years. Then all payments will have to come from the income stream, in which case benefits will have to be cut 23% if nothing else changes.

The ad also says that Trump's plan is the same as Joe Biden's. That is an out-and-out lie. Biden wants to raise the cap on the FICA tax in a somewhat complicated way. It is currently $160,200, meaning that income above that is not subject to the FICA tax. Biden wants to subject income above $400,000 to the tax, while leaving income between $160,200 and $400,000 not subject to the FICA tax, in order not to violate a campaign promise of "no new taxes for people making under $400,000." In Biden's plan, there would be more payments into the system and the day of reckoning would be pushed back many years, maybe forever depending on the upper limit of the FICA tax, if any.

The Club doesn't endorse any other candidates in the ad. It just attacks Trump, which makes it sound a bit odd. If it ended with "Candidate X will protect Social Security" it would have made more sense. What is the Club's real goal here? It's hard to tell from the ad, but our best case is to try to convince people that Social Security is dying anyway, so we should put it out of its misery and just abolish the whole system including, of course, the FICA tax. That would be consistent with the Club's general anti-tax goal, but saying the quiet part out loud would enrage many seniors, so mum's the word, here.

Is this the starting gun for a Club for Growth campaign supporting Ron DeSantis? It could be. As a congressman, DeSantis voted to weaken Social Security. But when running for governor of Florida, a state overloaded with seniors, he was quiet about the subject. After all, abolishing Social Security is not a policy choice governors get to make. But if the Club starts running many ads that trash Trump for not doing anything about Social Security, what is DeSantis going to do? It puts him on the spot. He doesn't want to go on the record saying he wants to cut benefits and he doesn't want to go on the record saying he wants to raise the FICA cap and he doesn't want to take the same position as Trump (do nothing). It could be embarrassing for DeSantis. Is the Club trying to help him or not? It's far from clear. Also, so far it is so subtle that few people are even going to understand what is going on. (V)

Five House Democrats Have Now Called on Feinstein to Resign

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is back in D.C., at least physically, although she maintains that she never went to California for a couple of months to recuperate from shingles and encephalitis. Many Democrats wonder if Feinstein is up to the job of representing 40 million Californians in the Senate. Now a fifth one, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), has gone public and openly called for her to resign from the Senate right now so that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) can appoint a new and fully functional senator. The other four are Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Dean Phillips (DFL-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Feinstein appears very frail and is using a wheelchair, in addition to her mental issues. In reality, the only thing a senator must be able to do is vote in committee and on the floor of the Senate. In principle, her staff can deal with constituents and other things. So if her staff wheels her in to committee meetings and asks her to raise her hand at the right moments, she can meet the minimum requirements. However, the inevitable comparisons with Strom Thurmond, who barely knew he was alive during his final year in the Senate, will not be flattering.

Of course, senators also have a lot of informal power. For example, when lobbying other senators for votes on bills they like, a senator can say: "If you vote for my bill, I'll mention you favorably to my big donors." Staffers can't do that. Technically, lawyers on Feinstein's staff can write bills for the senator to throw into the hopper, but they are not going to do that without the senator making it clear what she wants in the bill. In effect, 40 million Californians now have one fully functional (but junior) senator and one bare-bones senior senator who just meets the minimum requirements and no more. Everyone knows this, but most of the other Democratic senators also know Feinstein is famously stubborn, which is why no Democratic senators have publicly asked her resign, just House members, most of whom probably do not know her well. Still the chorus is getting stronger. (V)

The California Senate Race is Heating Up

Regardless of whether Dianne Feinstein retires mid-term, her seat will be up for grabs in 2024. Republicans haven't won a statewide election in California since 2006. Nevertheless, they could end up affecting who wins the 2024 Senate election in the Golden State. In Nov. 2022, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) got about 60% of the vote to Republican Mark Meuser's nearly 40%. Currently there are three serious Democrats in the race, Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff. One Republican, the appropriately named Eric Early, is in so far, but more could join. In scenario 1, if the three Democrats split the 60% evenly, each getting 20%, then Early could finish first in the jungle primary and face whichever Democrat came in second. That Democrat would easily win, but it would mean the primary determined the final winner. On the other hand, if more Republicans enter and split the Republican vote, then the two top primary finishers could be both Democrats, who would then duke it out in November 2024.

In scenario 2, the general election likely comes down to Porter and Schiff, who are by far leading Lee in fundraising. In this situation, the 40% of voters who are Republicans will almost certainly play a big role in deciding the winner. After all, there will be potentially winnable House contests as well, so few Republicans will stay home. It is possible that the Republicans will go for Schiff, who is not quite as progressive as Porter, as the lesser of two evils. On the other hand, since Schiff led the first impeachment of Donald Trump, the Republicans might go for the progressive Porter, just to punish Schiff. Who knows?

Porter's team is already gaming out multiple possible scenarios. In particular, they are worried that Schiff's large money advantage ($25 million to $10 million as of March 31) and his backing from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will cast him as the frontrunner and if scenario 1 comes to pass, the whole show will be over on Super Tuesday, when California will hold its primary. Clearly it is to her advantage to get more Republicans to enter the race, in order to split the Republican vote and cause scenario 2 to happen. But does she want to tell her donors to give to some Republican to entice him to run rather than give to her? Does she want to remind everyone how Schiff led the first Trump impeachment? That could make him radioactive to Republicans but might help him with Democrats. Another approach is to try to become the #1 Democrat in the polls now, to counteract Schiff's image as the frontrunner. The most recent poll put Porter and Schiff in a virtual tie. While the Democrats will surely hold the seat, the question of which Democrat will join Padilla in the Senate is very much up in the air.

Oh, and one other complication. Gavin Newsom has promised that if Feinstein retires early, he will appoint a Black woman to her seat. That could be Lee, which would give her campaign an immense boost. On the other hand, doing that would really annoy the supporters of Porter and Schiff, and he has also said he doesn't want to take sides in the Senate race. Consequently, if Feinstein retires early, Newsom might pick Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who is currently 84 and is not running for the Senate. She has been in the House over 30 years, and this would be a nice capstone for her congressional career. Waters is also from the more populous southern part of the state, whereas Lee represents Oakland and Berkeley in the north. In addition, Waters is more fiery than Lee, which would help shore up Newsom's support on the left. But, of course, if Feinstein won't budge, the choice of her successor is irrelevant. (V)

Noem Is Doing Her Best to Land the Veep Slot

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) is not terribly excited about being governor of a state with a famous mountain, a lot of buffalo, and not much else. You know that's true when a person sees being vice president as a step up, even though the job is famously not worth a bucket of warm you-know-what.

Running for veep is tricky when you don't know who the presidential candidate will be. Like, who do you flatter? She's charismatic and well spoken, which works with all presidential candidates. What else? How about finding issues that both of the most plausible Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis agree on, and push them for all they're worth? Yup. That's what she is doing.

So Noem has instructed the South Dakota Board of Regents to take steps to make the state an "example to the nation of what quality higher education should look like." In the letter she tells the Board to do the following.

  • Get rid of diversity and equity programs.
  • Get rid of safe spaces, so students will learn to deal with people whose ideas are different from their own.
  • Remove all references to preferred pronouns from all university material.
  • Prohibit drag shows on all university campuses.
  • Remove all impediments to free speech on campus.
  • Make courses on American government and American history mandatory.
  • Ban all sources of funding that come from China.
  • Cut costs.
  • Increase graduation rates from 43%, which is way below the national average of 63%.

First of all, why is she trying to show something to the nation? She is not governor of the nation. She is governor of one state. Second, what do any of these things have to do with quality education? Maybe they just so happen to be things that both Trump and DeSantis want to have their running mate talk about? Third, she has no business telling the Board of Regents anything. The whole purpose of states creating Boards of Regents is to isolate the state educational system from political pressure. That's why they are there. And what is she trying to do? Put pressure on the Board anyway.

Since the governor has no realistic way to pressure the Board other than slashing university funding, which would not be popular with students (most of whom can vote) and their parents (most of whom can also vote), this is all for show. The Board will undoubtedly thank her for her wisdom and then do nothing about any of the points except those that the Board members themselves actually support. But the whole point of this exercise is to demonstrate to both Trump and DeSantis that if they want a fiery attack dog, she's available and ready to roll. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May28 Sunday Mailbag
May27 Saturday Q&A
May26 More Legal Trouble for Trump
May26 DeSantis Spent Thursday as a Punchline
May26 CNN Is Going to Double Down
May26 Mastriano Is Out...
May26 ...And Maybe Texas AG Ken Paxton Is, Too
May26 This Week in Schadenfreude: I WILL HAVE ORDER!
May26 This Week in Freudenfreude: Diplomate-cy
May25 DeSantis Is In
May25 Is DeSantis Typecast Already?
May25 How Conservative Is DeSantis' Florida, Really?
May25 What Is Life Like Now for Actual Floridians?
May25 There's Never Been a President from Florida
May25 Republican Voters Do Not Want Compassionate Conservatism; They Want Revenge
May25 What Did Tim Scott Do in Congress?
May25 Democrats Are Furious That Biden Is Not Demanding Tax Hikes from McCarthy
May24 More Legal Trouble for Trump
May24 Carroll Case Clearly Isn't Helping Joe Biden
May24 Today Is the Day for DeSantis
May24 Court Sets Debt Ceiling Hearing... for May 31
May24 Kari Lake Is a Loser
May24 Year 20: A Quiz
May24 The Greatest Political Movies Ever Made, Part III
May23 More Legal Trouble for Trump
May23 Carroll Case Clearly Isn't Helping Ron DeSantis
May23 Today's Second-Tier Presidential Candidate News
May23 Approval Ratings Are a Mystery, Worldwide
May23 Tom Carper Will Retire
May23 Trump Is Hurting GOP Senate Recruitment
May22 Willis' Actions Suggest There Will Be Charges Filed in August
May22 Biden Says He Thinks He Could Use the Fourteenth Amendment If He Has To
May22 Trump's Legal Team Is Fighting with Itself
May22 Trump's Plans for a Second Term Are Becoming Clearer
May22 Tim Scott Is In
May22 North Carolina Is Probably in Play Now
May22 Republican Senators Are Worried About DeSantis' Attacks on Disney
May22 Five Questions about DeSantis' Campaign
May22 Is Casey DeSantis Lady Macbeth?
May21 Sunday Mailbag
May20 Saturday Q&A
May19 DeSantis To Make It Official Next Week
May19 The Perils of a 51-Vote Majority
May19 Democrats Wrestle with Their (Self-Created) New Hampshire Problem
May19 Talking about Abortion, Part V: Physicians Weigh In
May19 This Week in Schadenfreude: Mortarboarded
May19 This Week in Freudenfreude: Now That's a Civics Lesson
May18 A Court Hearing Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing
May18 Talking about Abortion, Part IV: More Questions and Answers
May18 Abortion Appears to Be Wrecking Republicans at the Polls