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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  A Disastrous Night for the GOP
      •  Time for Another "Debate"
      •  The War in Israel, Part X: Genocide in Gaza?, Part I
      •  The War in Israel, Part XI: Genocide in Gaza?--Reader Responses, Part I
      •  Senate Races Are Getting Down and Dirty

A Disastrous Night for the GOP

It may be an odd year, but yesterday was Election Day. We are going to start with the good news for the Republican Party, because that won't take long: Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) held on in his reelection bid against Brandon Presley, 52.5% to 47.5%. A fairly narrow Republican win in red, red Mississippi is not great news for the Party, but it's something.

Also, in Suffolk County, NY, Ed Romaine (R) defeated David Calone (D). That race was 57.1% to 42.9% when counting stopped; it will get closer, but not enough to save Calone. This result suggests, ever so slightly, that it will not be so easy for the blue team to break up the red team's burgeoning Long Island stronghold next year, even with a new House district map.

And other than that, it was pretty much a train wreck across the nation for the GOP. Taking things state by state:

Ohio: This, of course, is the biggie. State Republicans, from Gov. Mike DeWine on down, did everything they could to persuade their fellow Ohioans to reject Issue 1, and thus to reject protections for abortion rights. It did not work. It did not come CLOSE to working. The result, particularly given the red hue of the Buckeye State, was a romp, as voters there chose to protect abortion, 56% to 44%.

That makes six times, since Dobbs, that abortion access has been on the ballot in a state, and six times that the pro-choice side has won. And keep in mind, there's relatively little need to protect abortion access in blue states, so most of these victories are coming in purple and red states. If there was any doubt whatsoever that abortion access should be the focal point of the Democrats' 2024 platform, that doubt is gone. Meanwhile, what do Republicans have to counter this? The Ohio GOP tried exaggerations, outright lies, scare tactics, keeping people from voting, word games, lawsuits, and backdoor maneuvers (the attempt to increase the threshold for passage) and none of it worked. Republican strategists are going to earn their pay this year, because they've got a big problem on their hands.

Also, Ohioans happy about this result will be able to celebrate by lighting up a joint, as marijuana was legalized. Issue 2 passed by a margin similar to that of Issue 1, 56.6% to 43.4%. Where it is possible, expect Democrats to pair abortion and marijuana initiatives on state ballots in 2024.

Kentucky: This is the second biggest result... possibly. As expected, and despite much politicking by Republican giants in the state (e.g., Mitch McConnell and his PAC), Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) won reelection without breaking a sweat, 52.5% to 47.5%. And, as we've noted, he did it by running on abortion rights. That's another data point that will inform the Democrats' 2024 plans.

We do not especially believe that Beshear can "teach" Democrats how to win elections in purple or red states, any more than Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has "taught" Republicans how to win elections in purple or blue states. However, Beshear is a young, charismatic Southern governor who has shown an ability to attract crossover votes. Does that profile sound familiar? Surely, his name will join those of Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA) as promising Democratic options for 2028. And depending on what comes of that, well, we could look back at Nov. 7, 2023, in 5-10 years and conclude that Beshear's victory was actually the biggest story of the night. But that's a long-term thing, obviously.

Virginia: If we are thinking shorter-term, by contrast, the second biggest result last night came in Virginia, where the Democrats held the state Senate and also won the House of Delegates. There are still some races that won't be resolved until today or tomorrow (or longer than that), but it's already clear that the blue team will have at least 21 Senate seats (with 17 for the Republicans and 2 pending) along with 51 House of Delegates seats (with 44 for the Republicans and 5 pending).

Forgive us if we sound like a broken record (for our younger readers, this is a reference to old phonograph records that could break and repeat the same sound over and over), but this is all kinds of bad news for the Republicans. To start with, Glenn Youngkin went all-in on flipping the Senate (which the Democrats had already held) and holding the House of Delegates. He failed on both counts, which pretty much brings an end to Youngkin 2024 talk, and doesn't bode well for Youngkin 2028. It also means that people looking for a viable post-Trump leader for the party are going to have to keep looking. Also, Youngkin and his fellow Virginia Republicans championed a "middle way" position on abortion, namely a 15-week ban. So much for that. And finally, results in Virginia before a presidential election year generally serve as a bellwether for what's coming down the pike. If so, well, the Democrats are looking pretty good for 2024, particularly given the results elsewhere.

Turning our attention, at least briefly, to the specific state Senate races we highlighted yesterday, Russet Perry (D) won easily over Juan Segura (R) in previously red, but now swingy, VA-31, 53% to 47%. This one was a must-have for Youngkin, and he didn't get it. VA-16 is another swingy district, and was another must-have for the Governor, and was slightly more lopsided for the blue team, with Schuyler Van Valkenburg (D) defeating Siobhan Dunnavant (R), 54% to 46%.

Meanwhile, the House of Delegates race that gained notoriety thanks to Susanna Gibson's (D) pornographic camming is too close to call. David Owen (R) currently leads Gibson 51.2% to 48.4% with the mail-in ballots still to be counted. The mail-in ballots will skew Democratic, most probably, but will they skew enough to save Gibson? We'll know soon.

Pennsylvania: And since we are on the subject of bellwethers, Pennsylvania is very important to both parties next year thanks to its EVs (which, recall, went to Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020) and to next year's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) and (probably) Connecticut resident David McCormick (R). Yesterday's election for the open seat on the state Supreme Court was being watched closely, as a potential clue to what 2024 holds. And in that election, Daniel McCaffery (D) easily knocked off Carolyn Carluccio (R), 53% to 47%.

Also in the Keystone state, it was a foregone conclusion, but Philadelphia elected Cherelle Parker (D) as its new mayor. She leveled David Oh (R), 74.5% to 25.5%, and becomes the first woman to lead one of America's oldest cities.

Other States: Over in Rhode Island, another foregone conclusion came to pass, as Gabriel Amo (D) defeated Gerry Leonard (R), 64.8% to 35.2%, for the right to succeed David Cicilline in RI-01. Amo slightly outperformed Cicilline's 2022 result (the then-incumbent won 64.0% to 35.8%). Amo way overperformed Cicilline's very first election, and therefore the only one where Cicilline wasn't an incumbent, a 50.6% to 44.6% win. Take whatever conclusions from that you wish, but do recall that Cicilline's first election was 12 years ago, and that special elections, like the one Amo won last night, are wonky.

In New Jersey, the Democrats easily held the state Senate, capturing 25 seats to the Republicans' 15. That is exactly where things stood before the election, although a few seats did change hands. Most obviously, state Sen. Ed Durr (R), who won a surprise victory in 2021, was defeated by John Burzichelli (D), 53% to 47%. In the Assembly, the Democrats have claimed 47 seats to 27 for the Republicans, with six still up in the air. The up-in-the-air seats are likely to break 4D, 2R, which, if it holds, would mean a 51D, 29R assembly. Going into the election, it was 46D, 34R, so that would be a Democratic gain of five seats.

And the wacky election for mayor of Bridgeport, CT, has taken another wacky turn. Democrat-turned-independent John Gomes is leading with 43.5% of the vote. The incumbent who may have cheated Gomes out of the nomination thanks to ballot-box stuffing, Joseph Ganim (D), has 37%. Only 46% of the votes are in, so there's time for Ganim to catch up, which would—per court order—force a re-run of the primary. If Gomes can hold on, it would spare everyone responsible for running elections in Bridgeport a lot of headaches, since no new primary would be needed.

As we noted, not a good night for the party of Lincoln and Reagan. And it will not surprise you to learn that CNN used the occasion for extensive coverage of how much trouble Joe Biden is in. After all, who cares about actual election results when you have a poll from Siena College? Undoubtedly, The New York Times and The Washington Post will climb on the Biden-alarm-bell bandwagon today.

We've already gotten some very useful reports from readers who participated in yesterday's elections. We'll run some of those tomorrow; if you would care to weigh in, please do so. We'll also have additional "the day after" coverage, of course. (Z)

Time for Another "Debate"

Maybe one day soon, the voting public can settle upon an alternate name for these events where candidates get up on stage and perform their pre-scripted talking points. During the first presidential debates, back in 1960, the focus was on the issues. These days, especially when there are 5-10 people on stage, [Candidate X] generally gets a question and gives a brief and unrevealing response, and then [Candidate Y] takes a potshot, and then we move on to some other subject. Rather than hearing a little bit on 15 different issues, it would be much more instructive if the moderators had the fortitude to pare the list down to three subjects, or even two, or one. If the event was entirely about, say, abortion or foreign aid, then wouldn't that stick in the mind far longer than... whatever the hell they talked about at the last "debate"?

Of course, they do not ask us. Further, while our agenda is to educate voters and to help them make informed decisions, the agenda of those who stage (and participate in) the debates is to get ratings and to create pithy soundbites. So, the third Republican candidates' "debate" isn't going to be much different from the second one, structurally, excepting that there will be two fewer people on stage. Mike Pence has withdrawn from the race, of course, and almost certainly wouldn't have made the "70,000 donors" threshold, anyhow. And while Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) continues to entertain the fantasy that he could be president, he didn't make the polling threshold.

That leaves us with five people who qualified and who will actually show up: Nikki Haley, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). The Senator just barely qualified, getting the last poll he needed about 48 hours before the cutoff. Oh, and in case you are wondering, it was not yet known at press time if DeSantis will wear the 3-inch lifts, or if he'll go for something more demure. It doesn't matter if he is taller than Scott, but it is essential to his campaign that he tower over Haley.

Is there any chance at all that tonight's event is at all interesting? Sure, there's a chance. The five folks in attendance really comprise two distinct tiers, candidate-wise. Haley and DeSantis are the two individuals still in the running to be the "vote for me if you don't want Trump" candidate. They've got this debate, and probably one more, and then the caucuses and primaries will be underway. So, there's a fair chance they go after each other. It could get feisty.

Meanwhile, the remaining trio will have a very hard time making it to the stage for the fourth debate, as they are all well short of the polling cutoff, while Scott and Christie also appear to be well short of the donors cutoff. This could be their very last chance to keep the dream alive, at least for a few more weeks. So, one or more of them might try something desperate to allow them to break out. What that might be, however, we do not know.

In an effort to keep things as interesting as possible, we're going to run a variant of the bingo game we did for the first debate, one that will allow an actual competition. Here are five groups of things likely to come up, grouped by theme:

Attacks on Joe Biden
  • Any reference to his age
  • Any reference to the border/his border policy
  • Any reference to inflation
  • Any reference to his mental state/incapacity
  • Any reference to Hunter Biden/the laptop
General Attacks on Democrats
  • Socialism
  • Liberal
  • Deep State
  • Woke
  • Any negative reference to LGBTQ/trans people/gender identity
  • Donald Trump
  • Barack Obama
  • Hillary Clinton
  • The name of any current Cabinet member
  • The name of any current member of Congress
Foreign Affairs
  • Israel
  • Antisemitism
  • Terrorist/Terrorism
  • Hamas
  • Ukraine
  • Prayer/Prayers/Praying
  • God
  • Bible
  • Jesus
  • Christian

If you'd like to play, here is the entry form. All you have to do is pick which item in each category you think will come up first. If you pick "Donald Trump," for example, and he actually is the first of the five names to be uttered by one of the candidates on stage, then you get 10 points. If he's the second of the five, 8 points, 6 points if he's third, 4 points if he's fourth, 2 points if he's fifth and 0 points if he's not mentioned at all. That means that a maximum score is 50 points, if a reader correctly picks the first reference in all five categories (there's also a tiebreaker question).

We would also be appreciative of help with identifying correct answers. If you hear any of the 25 items on the list mentioned by one of the candidates on stage, it would be very helpful to send us a message that says something like "8:01 ET: Donald Trump" or "8:45 ET: Jesus."

And speaking of Donald Trump, who some supporters see as Jesus, he'll be counterprogramming the debate, yet again. This time, it's a rally in Hialeah, just down the street from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, where the debate is going to be held. We're not running a contest for that one.

If you wish to watch, the debate will be televised on MSNBC, and will be streamed here. It starts at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Z)

The War in Israel, Part X: Genocide in Gaza?, Part I

Please indulge as we begin with a brief story. It's one we've mentioned before, but it's germane here, so we're going to repeat it. About a dozen years ago, (Z)'s department chair asked him to come in for a meeting. At that meeting, the chair said: "I'm going to have you teach California history on a regular basis." "I don't have any expertise in California history," (Z) responded. "You'll figure it out," said the chair.

So, (Z) got to work prepping a California history course. And when it came time for the lecture on Native Americans in California, he noticed that the events of the 1850s quite clearly comported with the definition of the word 'genocide.' "How come I've never heard of this before?," (Z) said to himself. And he consulted with some actual, trained California historians, in search of any explanation for why the term 'genocide' did not appear in any of the literature. They bent over backwards, forwards and sideways to explain why it wasn't a genocide. For example, one elderly (and now deceased) expert said, without blinking, that genocides can only target Jewish people. Hmmm; the Jewish person who coined the term (Raphael Lemkin) didn't seem to think that was the case. Fortunately, for the sake of the historical record and of truth in general, the literature has now caught up, and there are numerous works that describe the California genocide for what it was, among them Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873 (2015) and An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (2017).

When (Z) tells this story as part of that lecture, the point is that there are sometimes benefits to being a non-expert—in this case, not being constrained by the preconceived notions of the field. For purposes of this item, however, the story serves a different purpose. 'Genocide' is a powerful word, and for a very long while there was reluctance to use it, even when apropos, for fear of watering it down and/or dishonoring the victims of the Holocaust. These days, the pendulum is definitely swinging in the opposite direction.

And that brings us to the (generally very heated) verbiage being used in relation to the current conflict in Israel. Unless you've been living in a cave, you know, at this point, that the last week or two has seen a constant stream of accusations levied at Israel, its leaders, and/or Joe Biden as perpetrators of genocide. In our questions mailbox, we got the first "Does this really count as a genocide?" message about 2 weeks ago. And we've gotten at least 50 or 60 e-mails on the same theme since.

All right, then, let's do this. We're going to start by running down the case for Israel as committer-of-genocide. The current residents of Gaza are mostly the descendants of Palestinians who were forcibly dislocated from their homes 75 years ago and have not been allowed to return. The people of Gaza are largely denied freedom of movement, are kept under strict control by the Israeli government, and have little in the way of economic self-determination.

Meanwhile, in terms of the current conflict, the Israelis have now killed an estimated 10,000 residents of Gaza, of whom only half are believed to be members of Hamas. In the past several weeks, access to basic necessities, including food, water, and fuel, has been limited or cut off entirely. There have been ongoing bombing campaigns.

Philosophically, key members of the Israeli government have expressed genocidal notions. Benjamin Netanyahu has compared the Palestinians to the Amalekites, referencing 1 Samuel 15:

Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

Netanyahu ally and Knesset member Galit Distal Atbaryan has decreed that Israeli officials must invest all their energy "in one thing: erasing all of Gaza from the face of the Earth." And a report produced by Israeli intelligence discusses the possibility of engaging in ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

And now, let us turn to the definition of genocide. There are actually several of them, but the one that's usually regarded as definitive is laid out Article II of the Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  1. Killing members of the group
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

If one squints very carefully, it is possible to see elements of genocide in the Israeli handling of Gaza. But... just barely. Certainly, the remarks from Netanyahu and Atbaryan could speak to intent, but the words of a couple of politicians (even the PM) do not a national policy make. To deploy a parallel, Donald Trump and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) have said some very problematic things about Muslims, but that does not mean that the United States has engaged in a program of genocide against Muslims or Muslim-majority nations.

Similarly, the actions of the Israeli government in the past 75 years do not meet the bar envisioned by the actions listed on the checklist. One might point to the last couple of weeks and connect that with "Killing members of the group." One might point to the last couple of generations and connect that with "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." But remember that, to be genocide, the goal has to be intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

There is much about Israel's handling of Gaza that is reprehensible, but there's no evidence that steps have been taken, or are being taken, to destroy the Palestinian people. The killing of civilians, even if that killing becomes mass killing or indiscriminate killing, does not constitute genocide, absent government-sanctioned intent to destroy the race/culture/religion. If it did, then nearly every war of the last 150 years (or more) would be genocidal. Similarly, internment/apartheid-like conditions do not constitute genocide, unless the intent is mass destruction. That is why the Nazi concentration camps of World War II were genocidal but the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II were not.

Put another way, there are many offenses against humanity, including many very bad ones, that do not rise to the level of genocide. And so, that's our answer to the question: There are arguments here for genocide, but we don't find those arguments to be persuasive. Certainly, a criminal prosecution of Netanyahu by the International Criminal Court, on the charge of committing genocide, would fail. The U.N. has said as much; its official position is that there is currently "a risk of genocide against the Palestinian People." We would concur with that, but of course, there is a world of difference between "a risk of genocide" and "genocide."

That said, human beings are prone to miss nuances like this, particularly if their personal goals and/or their emotional state encourages them to do so. And so we have the folks who have jumped right to Final Jeopardy and have levied damning judgments of Israel, its ongoing genocide, and its genocide-enablers, like Joe Biden. Some have been particularly shocking in the carelessness of their words.

The poster child here is Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who has not only levied the charge of genocide against Israel and Biden, but has made a habit of repeating the slogan "from the river to the sea." This slogan is, and has been, code for the destruction of Israel. In other words, the slogan expresses antisemitic, genocidal intent. In any other circumstance, if Tlaib was advised that her words had some problematic or offensive subtext, she would undoubtedly stop using those words. In this case, she has been challenged several times, and has refused to change course, insisting that it's merely a statement of support for the people of Palestine. That just isn't how American culture works, when it comes to problematic language, and it's part of the reason that Tlaib was censured last night by the members of the House, with 22 Democrats crossing the aisle to join with 212 Republicans to pass the measure.

And with all of this said, now we get to the actual point we hoped to establish in this item. We gave our opinion on "genocide or not?" because we were asked. But the fact is that, whatever we might think, many, many people are absolutely persuaded that a genocide is underway and that the President of the United States is enabling it. This response was almost instantaneous, and emerged despite the factual problems with that assessment, and despite the fact that previous harms inflicted on the Palestinian people (by Israel, but also by Syria, Egypt and other nations) passed without comment. The response has been extremely visceral, and has caused many people to behave in ways that are not only very emotion-driven, but that are inconsistent with the way they would generally behave (for example, Tlaib's unwillingness to temper her words).

If this was mid-December of 1941, and everyone was suddenly talking angrily about sneak attacks by the Japanese, then that would make sense, given what happened at Pearl Harbor. But it's not so clear as that, in this case. And so we believe there is something more going on here, something that is not 100% evident at first glance. We think that something more should be examined, and that it presents serious problems for both Biden and Israel (far more so than some dumb poll). This is what we will talk about in the Part II, on Friday. (Z)

The War in Israel, Part XI: Genocide in Gaza?--Reader Responses, Part I

On Monday, we ran a letter from reader J.P. in Guilford, CT, that included this observation: "Biden has dug his own grave here by turning a blind eye and making excuses for killing on an unimaginable scale, that won't bring us any closer to peace. Many will be voting proudly against genocide, myself included." This clearly speaks to some of the observations we make above.

In service of our point about how emotion-driven (and how divisive) this issue has become, we're going to run a couple of letters from people who are in agreement with J.P. in Guilford and a couple from people who most certainly are not. First, the agreers:

  • E.C. in Houston, TX: You have the questions all wrong. They are posed from an Israel-centric viewpoint. The problem is bombing to death innocent people, with the apparent goal of making refugees out of all who survive the bombing—otherwise, why cut off water, food and fuel? Those conditions are a recipe for epidemics and deaths on a massive scale. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are apparently for all of it and however much more $13.5 billion can buy.

    It's 1968 again. Sure, Nixon was worse, but LBJ has got to go.

  • D.A. in Brooklyn, NY: I supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 and 2020 until he was forced to pull out and then I supported Joe Biden. I've contributed to his campaign and to the DLCC and DCCC and to specific Democrats nominated by their party. Since 2018, I have not contributed to any Democratic primary campaign except when a progressive was challenged by a centrist, but I specifically avoided supporting progressive challengers to centrist Democrats, all in the name of unity. I've contributed and phone-banked for Democrats. I've been a Bernie Sanders Democrat supporting Biden and supporting Democratic unity in the face of the overtly fascist Trumpublicans.

    That is over. I was delusional. I'm finished with the Democrats, and I'm finished with Bernie Sanders, who explicitly refused to call for a cease-fire. What is going on in Gaza is genocide.

    The Palestinian child who was murdered yesterday by Israel and the U.S. does not care whether Trump or Biden wins in 2024. She's dead. The Palestinian child who will be murdered tomorrow by Israel and the U.S. also won't care whether Trump or Biden wins in 2024. He'll be dead. I stand with these children.

    You can call me any names you like. They couldn't hurt a millionth compared to the pain I'm feeling from this slaughter.

And the disagreers:

  • G.K. in Blue Island, IL: J.P. in Guilford states: "There is nothing anyone can say to make me vote for genocide, so don't waste your breath." J.P. has just adopted the same argument used by the anti-abortion crowd for years—swap "abortion" in for "genocide," then try telling us that's not the basic argument used by pro-life activists. And, as with abortion, it falsely frames any future debate as being with a non-existent foe who is single-mindedly "pro-infanticide" or "pro-genocide."

    In politics, as in life, it is possible for two superficially opposite things to be true at the same time. I have watched for years the reports from human rights observers in the West Bank and Gaza decrying both subtle and overt acts of injustice against Palestinians, which have included the stoning of schoolchildren by Jewish settlers, the seizure of land from families whose ownership dates back to the Ottoman Empire, and the destruction of livelihoods in the name of manifest destiny cloaked as security. I accept those reports as true just as I accept that Hamas has made it clear that they represent an existential threat to all Israeli citizens, and that Israel is now understandably responding to that threat.

    The essential problem on both sides is that extremists have been defining the boundaries of the situation for years. The Code of Hammurabi is on full display, and extreme is being met with extreme. How does any nation respond to this? It is possible to be sickened by both a terrorist attack that kills over 1,000 civilians as well as an air strike in response that kills over 2,000 civilians. I submit that taking sides in this situation, without any qualifications, is itself tantamount to being "pro-genocide" as the extremists who hold sway to varying degrees on either side are dead set on the annihilation of their foe, regardless of the cost in human lives. What is unhelpful is to hinder those striving for a measured, strategic response against extremists—and for humanitarian aid for the innocent—by framing any response that isn't viewed as 100% pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli as an extreme itself (e.g., pro-genocide).

    No rational person is asking J.P. to "vote for genocide." No one. With that off the table, what would J.P. vote for instead? What solution do they have that the current administration should implement? Do they think a Republican administration—brought in by either their pro-Republican vote or their withheld-Democrat vote—would be more likely to implement that solution?

  • J.D. in Greensboro, NC: In regards to J.P. in Guilford, to me a protest vote for a third-party candidate is worse than writing in Donald Duck on the ballot (I've worked at elections and this is at least good for a laugh). J.P. probably doesn't like Biden and will use any excuse to vote against him. This is fair, because we enjoy freedom of choice at the ballot box. I just get a little irritated when they try to paint their protest vote as something that speaks to their own sense of moral superiority. So I say to J.P.: Go ahead and waste your vote. You can brag about it if you want. But remember that many of these third-party candidates are being propped up by donors who don't give a fig about the Middle East, but like the thought of someone in the White House who works only for them. If this happens, you may rethink the wisdom of your decision, but by then it will be too late.

We'll run another set on Friday. (Z)

Senate Races Are Getting Down and Dirty

The 2024 general election is less than a year away, and the primaries are even closer. And so, we are in prime season for senatorial candidates trying to cut wannabe competitors off at the knees.

We start in Pennsylvania, where the Republican bench must be thinner than paper, since the Pennsylvania GOP keeps importing mediocre candidates. David McCormick is, of course, back for another go-round after having lost his 2022 primary against another imported, mediocre candidate in the person of Mehmet Oz. Consistent with the Republicans' party line, McCormick is strongly opposed to doing business with China. Well, he is now, at least. In his previous career as a hedge fund manager, which ended roughly 3 weeks ago, he was very enthusiastic about investing in China, increasing his firm's holdings from $1.6 million to $1.77 billion in 5 years, for an increase of 110,525%. It's almost like he doesn't really believe what he's preaching, and he's just saying what he thinks voters in Pennsylvania want to hear. Needless to say, as we learned from the Oz election, Pennsylvanians just love that kind of transparent phoniness.

Meanwhile, over in California, it turns out that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is really more of a Marylander these days, having established his primary residence there several years back. Actually, the paper trail supports the notion of two primary residences, one in Maryland and one in Burbank, CA, but it's pretty clear that the former is the primary primary residence, while the latter is a secondary primary residence, at best.

We think it is unlikely that this will hurt Schiff all that much, if at all. Clearly, the members of Congress spend the majority of their time living somewhere other than their home states, since they have to be in DC 200+ days per year. Schiff made the very reasonable choice to settle his family in a place where he could actually see them on a regular basis. It's one thing when someone, like the aforementioned Oz, returns to a state after a multi-decade absence and then pretends to understand that state's issues. Schiff's ties to California are still more than strong enough that he understands the state; certainly the voters in his district feel that way, having elected him eleven times. All of this said, if Schiff's race against Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) is neck-and-neck, small things like this could be decisive. Well, until it's discovered that Porter's primary residence is really in Virginia or Delaware, that is.

Finally, Peter Meijer has made it official and declared that he will attempt to return to Washington by means of the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). He's decided to run the Mike Pence playbook, since that obviously worked out so well for the former VP. By that, we mean that Meijer said yesterday that yes, technically he voted to impeach Donald Trump, but he'd still support Trump for reelection, and would love to work with the former president if and when he becomes the future president.

This is a posture that is guaranteed to upset both Never Trump Republicans and Trumpy Republicans, so Meijer's goose is already cooked. Don't take our word for it; the job of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is to get Republicans elected to the Senate, with little concern for a candidate's particular views, and nearly 100% of the focus on electability. And yesterday, NRSC Executive Director Jason Thielman said: "Peter Meijer isn't viable in a primary election, and there's worry that if Meijer were nominated, the base would not be enthused in the general election." Sorry, Pete. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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