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The Menendez Story Continues

The scandal around Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) just keeps getting worse. More Democrats are calling for Menendez to resign right now. The initial list is interesting. Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) wants him out. Of course, then Murphy would get to appoint a replacement (which might well be Phil Murphy). New Jersey Reps. Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, Frank Pallone, and Bill Pascrell (all D) all want him out, too. And all four would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and take Menendez' seat if he goes.

On the other hand, as of Monday morning, the only senator to call for Menendez to vamoose right now is Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who is clearly feeling frisky since he is now allowed to wear short pants on the Senate floor. One person who is conspicuously silent is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). When a gag photo came to light of then-senator Al Franken pretending to grope a sleeping woman (and remember, he was a professional comedian before becoming a senator), it was Gillibrand who hounded him out of the Senate. Franken also had a track record of patting women on the behind. Gillibrand's response, set against the backdrop of #MeToo, was understandable. That said, were Franken's misdeeds, which fell well short of what we saw from folks like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O'Reilly, worse than being as crooked as the day is long, taking a million dollars in bribes from people closely tied to a foreign government, and being in the running for the title of "most corrupt senator ever"? And yet, nary a word from the New Yorker.

That said, Gillibrand is not in the leadership, so her opinion isn't that important. Consequently, we give the Coward of the Week Award to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Majority Whip. Yesterday on CNN's State of the Union he declined to call for Menendez' resignation, saying the Senator is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the only qualification for being in the Senate is that you aren't a convicted felon. Presumably Durbin is also fine with Clarence Thomas taking exotic vacations and all kinds of free goodies from billionaires because he isn't a convicted felon either. Incidentally, here's how Durbin responded to Al Franken's scandal:

Dick Durbin's tweet calling on Al Franken to resign

In contrast to Franken, who had to go but was never even charged with anything let alone convicted, Menendez has been formally charged with crimes (for the second time) and there is a ton of photographic evidence out there already. Taken as a whole, one is left to wonder to what extent Gillibrand and Durbin were legitimately upset with Franken, and to what extent they were just opportunists trying to get Doug Jones (D) across the finish line in his U.S. Senate race against pedophile Roy Moore. Or maybe Gillibrand was already thinking about running for president in 2020 and wanted to lock down the womens' vote so beating up on Franken was useful to her politically.

In any case, Andy Kim has already announced he will enter the Democratic primary next year. Sherrill and some others are likely to follow. Of course if Menendez resigns and Murphy appoints himself, that changes everything. In that case, keeping a safe seat might be, say, safer.

But the big news came yesterday. Chris Christie was on "Meet the Press" and this time Kristin Welker didn't blow it. She asked him if he might run for the Republican Senate nomination next year. He gave a categorical "No." No ifs, ands, or buts. Just "No." He added: "I had a chance to appoint myself to the United States Senate after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg in 2013. If I didn't appoint myself, the easiest way to get there, I sure as heck am not going to run for it." That sounds like "no" to us. Of course, he wants to defeat Donald Trump now and saying that he doesn't expect to win so he'll take the GOP nomination for the Senate as a consolation prize defeats him two ways. First, it looks bad. Second, to pursue the Senate seat, he would have to drop out of the presidential race now. Our guess is that Christie thinks Menendez will be gone by Nov. 2024 and he thinks that in today's partisan atmosphere, he couldn't beat Murphy or any of the young Democratic representatives who might be appointed to replace him if he goes. Democrats find him useful now because he is vigorously opposing Donald Trump, but if they have to choose between him (knowing what they know about him now, that is, Bridgegate) and a reasonable Democrat, the Democrat will win.

One thing we haven't heard much about is the Democrats trying to expel Menendez from the Senate. They want to get rid of him as fast as possible and they control the Senate, so they could start expulsion hearings immediately. This would be a twofer. First, it would show that Democrats respect the rule of law, even when one of their own violates it. Second, it would put the Senate Republicans on the spot. They want to keep Menendez in the news to show how corrupt the Democrats are. If they voted to expel, Murphy would appoint himself or one of the young representatives and the story would move on to "What is the new senator like?" However, if they voted to acquit him, the Democrats would pound them saying they excuse all lawbreaking, Democratic and Republican alike. For the party of law and order that likes to campaign against crime, that would hurt. (V)

Less Than a Week Until the Coach Turns into a Pumpkin

No, not that coach. He's more of a pea-brain than a pumpkin, and he's not a coach anymore, anyhow, he's a senator. Funding for much of the government runs out Saturday night at the witching hour of midnight, when coaches turn into pumpkins and a lot of stuff freezes. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) got his dream job (on the 15th round of voting), but the deals he made to get it make it impossible to do the job. His strategy is to kick the can down the road—and even that is not working. Usually Congress is pretty good at kicking the can down the road and when a leader can't even pull that off, it shows what kind of a leader he is.

This week he will probably make a few more attempts at playing kick the can (i.e., just delaying the shutdown for a couple of months), but they will probably fail. If McCarthy can't even get all his members to agree to delaying a government shutdown, for which the Republicans are certain to get the blame, how will he ever put together a budget even if he gets another month or two to try?

Meanwhile, the 18 Biden-district Republicans do not want a shutdown and are working with the Democrats to avert it. Some of them are very angry. Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) said: "We're risking the financial sustainability of the United States, because a few guys want to raise money on their social media feeds." These Republicans and some Democrats are working on a discharge petition, which would force a bill to fund the government at current levels for a couple of months onto the floor for a vote. It would probably pass, largely with Democratic votes.

But if McCarthy can't even delay a shutdown, how can he prevent one? How can he produce a budget that 218 members of the House would support? There is a way, but it would come at a steep price. He could work with the Democrats and come up with a bill acceptable to Senate Democrats. This would make the Freedom Caucusers go ballistic and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) would introduce a motion to vacate the chair (i.e., fire McCarthy from his dream job less than a year after he got it). If all the Democrats and at least five Republicans voted for the motion to vacate the chair, it would succeed and we'd be back to Jan. 3, 2023.

Sooner or later, McCarthy is going to come to the realization that he doesn't have the votes to go it alone. Then he has to come to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) with his tail between his legs. Jeffries and the rest of his team all realize that while normally the House minority has no power at all, in this peculiar situation it does. One House Democrat who preferred to remain anonymous told Politico: "Here you have a man fighting for his political life, and the only lifeline would be from Democrats. Why not extract as much as you freakin' can?" Internal discussions about what that might be are already going on within the Democratic caucus. In an interview with Ryan Lizza, Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA) casually mentioned that one of the (many) conditions would be having the House stop the process of impeaching Joe Biden. Doing that would make the Freedom Caucusers go absolutely bats**t crazy. And that probably doesn't even convey how angry they would be. Truth be told, they would surely take it to the next level and go Boe**rt crazy. (Would Matt and Marjorie put on a show—no, no, not that kind of show?) The only way for McCarthy to survive that would be to dump the representative from Georgia as de facto co-speaker and give that job to Jeffries or Clark. But governing together with the Democrats would be anathema to a substantial part of his caucus. What's a guy to do?

For the Democrats, this is easy. Just do nothing right now. In her interview, Clark said that McCarthy hasn't called her, but her phone is on. Sooner or later he is going to have to call Jeffries or Clark. Clark might be the easier of the two since she comes across as a very gentle, sweet person. But it is really a case of a mailed fist in a velvet glove, not unlike Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Until the call comes in, the Democrats are going to just sit tight and wait. (V)

Democrats Are Running on Abortion Everywhere--Even in Kentucky

One of the three gubernatorial elections this year is in deep-red Kentucky, a state Donald Trump won in 2022 by 26 points. There, Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) is running for reelection. On a pro-choice platform. Virginia Democrats running for reelection to the state legislature are also emphasizing their pro-choice positions. An Ohio ballot measure that would have made it well nigh impossible to enshrine reproductive rights in the state Constitution lost big time. All over the country, even in purple and red states, Democrats are making elections about abortion—and winning. The repeal of Roe v. Wade is the gift that keeps on giving. The anti-abortion forces got what they wished for. Maybe next time they will be more careful about what they wish for.

This focus on abortion will continue though the 2024 general election. Amanda Litman, cofounder of Run for Something, a group that recruits and supports downballot Democrats, said: "It's a turnout driver, so it would be stupid not to bring it up." Making emotional ads about abortion is easy. Beshear is running this ad. It has a young women talking directly into the camera and saying she was raped by her stepfather when she was 12 after years of sexual abuse. Having her stepfather's baby as a 12-year-old would be unthinkable.

In Ohio, an amendment to the state Constitution that would enshrine the right to an abortion is on the ballot in November. Democrats there are running the same playbook as Beshear: direct-to-camera testimonials from women who got pregnant talking about how an abortion ban would have destroyed their lives. In Virginia, 40% of all ads the Democrats have cut are about abortion. Virginia Democrats across the board see this as the key to holding the state Senate and flipping the House of Delegates.

It is hard for the other side to counter ads like this. Maybe one saying: pregnancies from rape are part of God's plan. No, wait. Sorry, that was Indiana. And it didn't even work there. There really isn't any answer that is going to move women (or young men who have no interest in being fathers right now). All of these votes will be closely watched. If the anti-abortion forces fail everywhere, Republican candidates next year are going to be struggling to find a position that won't doom them.

Even Donald Trump sees trouble ahead. He was responsible for nominating three strongly anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court, laying the groundwork for the repeal of Roe. Now he sees that being against abortion could doom him in the general election. But suddenly being pro-choice—as he was for years before running for president—might be the one thing that could cause him to lose the Republican nomination. So his plan is to make nonsensical statements, like this one: "I would sit down with both sides and I'd negotiate something and we'll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years." Of course, this would never work, but he hopes enough voters are foolish enough to believe it. He has also called the 6-week abortion ban that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed "a terrible thing and a terrible mistake." This is making some anti-abortion zealots a bit nervous, although so far there haven't been any major desertions. But Trump knows he has to be careful because if he campaigns in the general election as being neutral on the issue, some evangelical voters may get the message—and stay home on Election Day. (V)

DeSantis' Campaign Actually Achieved Something--It Made Him a Lame Duck in Florida

Ron DeSantis' campaign has exposed him as a paper tiger (paper duck?). Republican officials in Florida have taken note and no longer fear him. Among lobbyists, lawmakers, consultants, and others in Florida, almost everyone expects his presidential campaign to end in abject failure. Best case scenario might be something like coming in second only 50 points behind Donald Trump and with only a handful of delegates won in the few states that have proportional allocation. Everyone is waiting for him to drop out. There is great interest, however, in how he manages his exit when he finally does drop out. And who he blames.

DeSantis has governed Florida like Joseph Stalin governed the Soviet Union. Compromise was not on the agenda—ever. Florida Republican leaders feared DeSantis not only for what he could do to them as governor, but also what he could do to them as president. The current thinking is that he is never going to be president, so there is no need to fear what he could do to them from the Oval Office.

For example, up until now, DeSantis had only to tell the leaders of the Florida House and Senate what he wanted, and they obediently scurried off to carry out his orders. State Rep. Daniel Perez (R), who is in line to become speaker of the Florida House, said: "The problem with wielding the power of government like a hammer is that the people start looking like nails." He made it clear that those days are over. From now on, the legislature, and not DeSantis, will decide what bills get passed.

DeSantis got a lot done in his first 4½ years as governor. He suspended elected officials, strong-armed his own party into approving a congressional map even more gerrymandered than the one they drew (and which may well be struck down by the courts), and picked fights with the House of Mouse and the cruise line industry. How those play out remain to be seen.

A major Florida lobbyist said: "There's no love lost between the Legislature and DeSantis. ... They are faking it. They are waiting long enough to see the king drained of all his power. It's a slow-motion coup."

It is starting already. Last week, the trustees at Pasco-Hernando State College, a small public college near Tampa, rejected DeSantis' candidate for president of the college and picked their own candidate. It is surprising because a majority of the trustees are DeSantis appointees. Once word gets out that not only does the emperor have no clothes, but that the batteries in his magic wand are empty and he doesn't know where to get new ones, he is going to be a full-blown lame duck. One Florida lawmaker said: "Few members of the Legislature have a relationship with Ron DeSantis. He's like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. You can't get to him. All you hear about is the great and powerful Oz." This mirrors DeSantis' behavior when he was a congressman. He had nothing to do with the other Florida Republicans in the House. He doesn't like people. It turns out in politics, that eventually comes out.

State Rep. Vicki Lopez, a Miami Republican, said: "I remember a time when the House was the House, the Senate was the Senate, and oh, by the way, there's the governor's office on the plaza level [of the state Capitol]." Those days may be returning. (V)

Democrats Are Doing Well in Special Elections

Last Tuesday, Democrat Hal Rafter flipped a Republican seat in the 400-member New Hampshire state House. If the Democrat wins an upcoming special House election in a deep-blue district, the House will be tied at 198-198, with two independents and two vacancies. This could end the Republican trifecta in New Hampshire.

Rafter's district is R+6, yet Rafter won by 12 points. In other words, he overperformed the fundamentals of his district by 18 points. Does this mean anything? By itself, no. But there have been many special elections for state legislative seats all year and on the average, Democrats are overperforming district fundamentals by 11 points averaged over 30 special elections. That's a lot.

As an example, in Pennsylvania, a key swing state, there have been seven special elections this year for the legislature. The Democrats overperformed the district's "local PVI" by an average of 17 points. Of the 30 special elections nationwide, Democrats overperformed the baseline in 26 of them and underperformed in four of them. Does this predict anything? Well, in the three previous election cycles, special elections have been a good indicator of the popular vote for the House the next time—except that they have overpredicted how well the Democrats would do by about 3 points. If this holds in 2024, the Democrats will win the popular vote for the House in 2024 by 8 points. That would be enough to flip dozens of competitive seats. There are nine Republicans in House districts that are D+1 to D+5 and four more in EVEN districts. Another 24 are in R+1 to R+5 districts. If the Democrats win the popular House vote by 8 points, all 37 seats would be competitive and many would fall.

Now imagine what will happen if the House Republicans shut the country down. That's only going to make Republican chances much worse. Also, in a presidential year, Democratic turnout goes up because there are a lot of marginal Democratic voters who can't be bothered to vote even in the midterms, let alone special elections for a state House seat, but will get out to vote for a president. All of this said, as always, in politics, a week is a long time. (V)

Donald Trump and the Seven Dwarfs

The second Republican debate will be Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA. It will be cosponsored by Fox Business. The moderators will be Stuart Varney, Dana Perino, and Ilia Calderón.

Now Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) says he has qualified. Probably he upped the value of the gift cards he is giving away for a $1 donation from $20 to something much higher. Maybe $50. We didn't check this time.

The other contestants will be the same as the first time, minus Asa Hutchinson. If the goal was to cull the herd early, it is not working. Debate v2.0 will be a rerun of the first one, with everyone aiming their fire at everyone except the only person who matters: Trump. Vivek Ramaswamy will try to out-Trump them all, Tim Scott will smile a lot, Ron DeSantis will be angry and Nikki Haley will be the only adult in the room.

Since there are seven now, expect lots of news stories about Donald Trump and the Seven Dwarfs. Here is our assignment:

  • Tim Scott = Happy
  • Ron DeSantis = Grumpy
  • Mike Pence = Sleepy
  • Doug Burgum = Bashful
  • Nikki Haley = Doc
  • Chris Christie = Sneezy
  • Vivek Ramaswamy = Dopey

Donald Trump wasn't on stage the first time and won't be there the second time. The first time, he aired a recorded interview with that tough journalist, Tucker Carlson. The second time he will give a speech to workers at a non-union auto parts manufacturer in Detroit.

The ground rules for the third debate have been announced. It will be Nov. 8 in Miami. Candidates will need 70,000 donors (so Burgum may have to increase the gift cards again) and be polling 4% in two national polls or 4% in one national poll and polls in two of the early states. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Nikki Haley have already qualified and the rest probably will as well. Unless something unexpected happens, it will be more of the same and Trump will waltz off with the nomination. The only thing that might stop him is a head-to-head fight with a single opponent, and the RNC algorithm doesn't seem to be producing that. (V)

How Do You Flip People Who Have Been Brainwashed?

We have written a number of times about how some of the people ensnared in legal cases with Donald Trump might flip, not only to save their own skin, but to avoid lawyers' bills of $300,000 and up. It turns out that for low-level players, at least, that may not happen as much as we at first thought. Michigan AG Dana Nessel has charged all of the 16 fake electors in Michigan. The crimes include one count of conspiracy to commit forgery (14 years), two counts of forgery itself (14 years each), and five other counts for things like conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing. If you go to Michigan be careful not to utter. All in all, each fake elector could be looking at 85 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

All of the fake electors are party activists and all are on the older side, ranging in age from 55 to 82. One is also a mayor. For a 55-year old, 85 years means not getting out until you are 140. With time off for good behavior, maybe 120. None of them are current or former big shots, like, say, Rudy Giuliani or Mark Meadows. Nobody is holding $100,000 a plate fundraisers for them. They are all on their own.

Under these circumstances, one might think they would all be bumping into each other trying to get through the door of Nessel's office to flip. But Nessel says it is not happening. None of them have flipped, despite the long odds (she has their signatures on forged documents), and the great legal expenses ahead. She said all of them have been brainwashed. They all genuinely and truly believe that Donald Trump won in 2020 and they are heroes and patriots for sticking up for him to get him the job he actually is entitled to. How could someone who truly believes that Trump won plead guilty and say: "I know he lost but the devil put me up to it!"? That would be lying (under oath, eventually). If you state something under oath that is true but you think it is false and you think you are lying, that is not perjury. Still, none of the fake electors have figured that out yet.

Kevin Kijewski, a lawyer for fake elector Clifford Frost (75) said that Nessel's remarks (about brainwashing) were "disturbing" and undermine the possibility of a fair trial for his client. On the other hand, Frost just posted a message to Facebook entitled "Trump won Michigan in 2020." Maybe he wants to pioneer the brainwashing defense. The first hearings in the 16 cases will be in October and November. (V)

Jim Jordan Is Now Going after Disinformation Researchers

With so much disinformation being pushed out these days, including out-and-out lies from many politicians—far more than in the past—there is a small cottage industry in studying the disinformation and the people who put it out. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a major source of disinformation (or maybe malinformation in his case), doesn't like all these amateur fact checkers mucking around and trying to discredit the disinformers. Oh, and he doesn't like people attacking medical misinformation either. Consequently he introduced the "Freedom to Lie Act" to the House. OK, he didn't, but since we are discussing disinformation here we were just doing a little field work.

One of the goals of Jordan and others going after disinformation researchers is to bombard them with lawsuits and subpoenas in an attempt to frighten them into self-censorship. It may be working. Due to legal threats, the NIH just froze a $150 million program intended to communicate medical information. Not only were grants relating to vaccines frozen, but also "noncontroversial" programs, like those about nutrition. But in reality, nothing is "noncontroversial" anymore. A program telling people not to eat candy bars for breakfast, pretzels for lunch, and potato chips for dinner would instantly be hit with lawsuits from the candy bar, pretzel, and potato chip industries. And Jordan would chime right in saying that the Big Bad Government has no business trying to destroy those patriotic American industries.

Academics and scientists say that Jordan's campaign is successfully throttling years-long efforts at studying disinformation, some of which go back to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The situation has recently gotten much worse with most of the larger social media platforms ceasing to censor any posts, no matter how false or outrageous, because conservatives like Jordan really want the freedom to lie and also the freedom from being called out about the lies. The former is probably guaranteed by the Constitution but the latter is novel.

Cases are getting to the courts. The Biden administration asked the big tech companies to remove posts containing lies about COVID-19, lies which could endanger people's lives. Their response was to sue the administration. The case, Missouri v. Biden is now before the Supreme Court. The administration wants the Court to reverse the Fifth Circuit's decision that the White House violated the First Amendment by telling companies to remove false posts about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. It is arguing that even the president has a right to free speech, and that includes telling companies what he thinks they should do in order to advance the public interest.

Separate from this lawsuit, Jordan has sent out numerous subpoenas demanding that academic researchers turn over all manner of information on their work and also all their communications with government and company officials. Jen Jones, the program director at the Center for Science and Democracy said: "This effort is clearly intended to deter researchers from pursuing these studies and penalize them for their findings."

Jordan isn't the only one on the attack. Elon Musk has sued the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. If he can sue them into oblivion, that solves the problem of their exposing all the hate on Twitter (X). (V)

Trump v2.0

Donald Trump wasn't a very effective president because he had no idea how the government worked. For his first two years, the Republicans had the trifecta, but they blew it because they were waiting for Trump to send his program to Congress and he was too busy bloviating to actually create a program and send it to Congress. He now understands that and if he gets a second chance, it will be completely different. He wants to remake the entire country and roll back 100 years of progress. He wants to make America Great Again—say, as it was during the administration of William McKinley. The Heritage Foundation is working on Project 2025, essentially detailed plans that Trump can send to Congress on Jan. 20, 2025, if he wins. Also included are plans for actions beyond that date.

For one thing, the Heritage Foundation believes in the theory of a unitary executive. By this they mean that the president is in charge of the entire Executive Branch and can give orders to not only all the executive departments (State, Defense, Treasury, etc.) but also to the independent agencies, including the CDC, FBI, FCC, FDA, FEC, FED, FTC, GSA, NASA, NLRB, NSF, NTSB, SBA, SEC, SSA, USPS and dozens more. In this theory, the president can order the FBI to investigate anyone he wants investigated, he can order the FCC to abolish net neutrality, he can order the CDC to stop telling people to get vaccinated, he can order the FED to set the interest rate he wants, and much more. Failure to obey him would result in instant dismissal and replacement by someone who will say: "Yes, sir!" and carry out the order.

The second major item on the agenda is Schedule F. In his first term, often Trump gave an order to the federal bureaucracy and some high-level civil servant determined that it was illegal and refused to carry it out. Trump wants to solve this problem by putting about 50,000 civil servants on Schedule F, which means they serve at the pleasure of the president and can be fired at will. In essence, he wants to de facto repeal the 1883 Pendleton Act, which created the merit-based civil service and to go back to the old spoils system introduced by his favorite president (other than himself), Andrew Jackson. By making everyone half a dozen levels down from the top a presidential appointee, only clerks, secretaries, cafeteria workers, and janitors will be protected from being fired for political reasons (or because they insist on following the law). Congress could head this off at the pass now by passing a law making it impossible to fire any civil servant unless they have been formally convicted of a felony, but if Republicans in Congress voted for such a law, Trump would bellow loudly and they would all scurry like mice when the cat showed up.

No matter what the Heritage Foundation wants, Congress will still be around and it will still have the power of the purse. So the plan here is to allow the president to veto individual items in the budget. This is not allowed (although a few states have a line-item veto), but the idea is for Trump just to do it anyway and have a compliant Supreme Court approve it.

Another item is defunding the Department of Justice. Trump has had bad experiences with it, including a couple of indictments. Maybe greatly reducing its size and scope would make him feel better. The environmental, civil rights, and tax fraud divisions will be the first to go, followed by others.

To carry out such ambitious plans, the Heritage Foundation is building a database of vetted conservatives for each position in government. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people are being trained on conservative principles. That way if Trump is inaugurated, he can get lists of dozens of top people to appoint to each department and agency immediately. If Republicans win the Senate, they will all be rammed through in a few weeks at most. One of the key aspects of the modern Republican Party is that it hates expertise. That's why Anthony Fauci was so despised by Republicans. He knew more than Joe in the diner did and they resented that very much. Consequently, people who get into the Heritage Foundation database need not have any qualifications for the field they want to be in. Mere loyalty to the Communist Party—no, sorry, wait, that's China—mere loyalty to Donald Trump is enough.

The leading conservative warrior here is a lawyer named Paul Dans. His hatred of expertise is obvious, even though he went to M.I.T. before getting his law degree. He said, "I would trust a mom coming back into the workforce who had just successfully raised four kids to be able to manage an agency." This remark harks back to William F. Buckley Jr.'s comment: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." Hatred of expertise runs deep in the Republican Party. They see people who have it as "elites" and those "elites" are the enemy of "the people."

The consequence of this is that the government would be in chaos all the time. Decisions would be made without thinking about the consequences but sooner or later those consequences would become clear, by which time it might be impossible to fix the problem. For example, banning all imports from China would please the base to no end. That is, until all the American car companies shut down all their factories and laid off all their workers because a modern car has between 1,000 and 3,000 chips in it, nearly all of them made in China with no American factory able to make them. Building such a factory and getting it going could take 3 years or more, so no new American cars for 3 years. Imagine what would happen to the price of used cars while no new ones were being made. And when new cars finally started coming off the line again, they would be more expensive due to the higher cost of all those chips. Ooooops.

One problem with making the president a virtual dictator is that conservatives would not be happy with what a President Gavin Newsom might do with all this power starting on Jan. 20, 2029, so they have to make sure no Democrat is ever elected president again. That means a national voter ID law, a national ban on absentee and early voting, and as many other voter suppression laws as they can think of.

The above stuff is what Dans and the Heritage Foundation are working on. Trump himself has also laid out some of his own plans:

  1. Use the military for the largest deportation operation of undocumented immigrants in American history.
  2. Order the National Guard into cities with high crimes, likely against the strong objections of local officials.
  3. Prosecute people who help minors get gender-affirming care.
  4. Impose a 10% tariff on all imports.
  5. Appoint special prosecutors to go after his political opponents, starting with Joe Biden.
  6. Purge the civil service of anyone who opposes his views.

Sounds like full-bore fascism. Benito Mussolini is smiling in his grave. Some of our thoughts:

  1. This gets pretty close to a police state. If you are brown and don't have a U.S. passport handy, you get deported?
  2. Are we talking about martial law here, with elected officials being replaced by the semi-military?
  3. Would doctors, nurses, psychologists, and parents be prosecuted?
  4. A 10% tariff on all imports will cause high inflation, which won't be popular.
  5. Vladimir Putin must be proud of his student but will he give Trump his secret recipe for polonium-flavored tea?
  6. Now Trump is aiming at being a full-fledged dictator.

Of course, many of these things are illegal, but suppose Trump just does them anyway. When even John Roberts says: "Enough already" what happens when Trump then asks: "How many divisions does the Supreme Court command?" In his first term, Trump surrounded himself with people who respected the law, like John Kelly and Jim Mattis, and who tried to fend off his worst impulses. He won't make that mistake again. AG Jim Jordan, DHS Secretary Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Defense Secretary Matt Gaetz will certainly support him. We've used this before, but no one's expressed the idea better than Maya Angelou: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Democrats who are whining that Joe Biden is too old might want to take a look at Trump's platform. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep24 Sunday Mailbag
Sep23 I Am Not a Crook. Rinse and Repeat
Sep23 Saturday Q&A
Sep22 McCarthy to House GOP: You Never Give Me Your Money
Sep22 Rupert Murdoch: Let It Be
Sep22 Polling in 2023: Keep the Customer Satisfied
Sep22 This Week's Senate News: Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win
Sep22 My Gift Is My Song: All Apologies
Sep22 This Week in Schadenfreude: You Know I'm No Good
Sep22 This Week in Freudenfreude: Oh My Heart
Sep21 Democrats Are Not Going to Bail McCarthy Out
Sep21 Democrats Did Bail Tuberville Out, However
Sep21 Garland to Congress: I Am Not Your Prosecutor
Sep21 Hunter Biden Whistleblower Is Undercut by New Witnesses
Sep21 Biden Adviser Tells Nervous Democrats: Calm Down
Sep21 Biden Campaign Will Go after Misinformation Directly
Sep21 Trump Lawyer Flips
Sep21 Both Chambers of Congress Might Flip in Opposite Directions
Sep21 Trump's Electoral College Edge May Be Fading
Sep20 Democrats Hold Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Sep20 Trump Legal News: Happiness is a Warm Gun
Sep20 Tommy Tuberville Will Try to Work Around... Tommy Tuberville
Sep20 Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Worse
Sep20 Welker Blew It
Sep20 He Who Has the Power to Destroy a Thing, Controls It
Sep20 Put a Cork in It, Bob
Sep19 Democrats Just Can't Win: Five Americans Freed in Iran
Sep19 A Shutdown Is Growing Much More Likely
Sep19 Trump Makes It Official, Part I
Sep19 Trump Makes It Official, Part II
Sep19 Two Questions for Merrick Garland
Sep19 Wexton Is Out
Sep19 Cisneros Is In
Sep18 Trump Goes on Meet the Press
Sep18 Unions Are Unhappy with Biden about Lack of Support for UAW
Sep18 Jack Smith Wants Judge Tanya Chutkan to Issue a Gag Order to Shut Trump Up
Sep18 Gerrymandering Is Hot
Sep18 Could Virginia Be the Bellwether?
Sep18 Will Warsaw, Alabama, Become Like Warsaw, Poland?
Sep18 McAfee Wants 900 People to Show Up for the Chesbro/Powell Voir Dire
Sep18 And Then There Were Six
Sep18 Paxton Is Home Free--So Far
Sep18 Boebert's New Boyfriend Owns a Gay-Friendly Bar That Hosts Drag Shows
Sep17 Sunday Mailbag
Sep16 Saturday Q&A
Sep15 Hunter Biden Indicted: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Sep15 Trump Legal News: Sweet Southern Love
Sep15 House Republican Conference: Breakfast Feud
Sep15 Joe Biden and the Polls: No Means Yes
Sep15 (V) and (Z): From the Teacher to the Preacher?