Nov. 11

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Republicans End Joint Fundraising with Moore

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raises money for Republican Senate candidates, has abruptly pulled out of a joint fundraising agreement with alleged child molester Roy Moore, who is running for the Senate in Alabama. This means that Moore is now on his own in terms of raising money and individual donors will no longer be allowed to give him up to $80,500. The campaign has another month to run and the Democrat, Doug Jones, is likely to be preparing ads more-or-less saying: "Don't vote for the child molester." Moore will need money to run ads more-or-less saying: "Don't vote for the baby killer" (Jones is pro-choice). It will be a nice clean issue-based campaign from here on.

In contrast to the national Republicans, Alabama Republicans support Moore, saying that the women who claimed to have been molested by Moore when they were teenagers are lying. They will certainly help Moore raise money, but they probably have fewer sources than the national Republicans. The big Republican donors won't touch Moore with a barge pole.

The fallout is already beginning. One Republican campaign manager, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he is already prepping his candidate on how to answer the question: "Do you think Roy Moore at the age of 32 with a 14-year-old is like Mary and Joseph?" Most likely the best answer is: "Hell no. Joseph never laid a hand on her. She was a virgin even after she gave birth, for heaven's sake." Still, having to discuss child molestation is not something most candidates are comfortable with. They would rather talk about tax cuts.

For Republicans, Moore's continued candidacy is a "heads they win, tails we lose" proposition. While they don't want to see their margin in the Senate drop to 51-49, they also don't want to deal with a very angry Moore in their caucus, either. He would be a completely loose cannon and make Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) look like an obedient backbencher. One option (if he wins) would be to try to expel him from the Senate. That takes a 2/3 majority, so they would need 16 Democrats to support expulsion. Most likely, all the Democrats would vote against expelling him because if he were gone, Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) would appoint a conventional Republican who would take direction from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The Democrats' "excuse" would be: "This is who the people of Alabama want. We are not going to overturn the will of the people." (V)

Moore Fundraises Off Controversy

Not only is Alabama senatorial candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore not quitting, he is using the controversy to raise money, which is especially important in light of the NRSC dropping him like a hot potato. He sent out an email to his supporters saying all the charges against him are fake and he needs money to fight off the forces of evil, namely the Obama-Clinton machine and liberals. He also sent out a few tweets designed to get his supporters to get out their credit cards:

The Obama-Clinton Machine's liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me Ive EVER faced!

We are are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message. (1/4) #ALSen

— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 9, 2017

The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal even inflict physical harm if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me. (2/4) #ALSen

— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 9, 2017

I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!

Our nation is at a crossroads right now  both spiritually and politically. (3/4) #ALSen

— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 9, 2017

Our children and grandchildren's futures are on the line.

So rest assured—I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight! (4/4) #ALSen

— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 9, 2017

It will probably work. After all, Alabama politicians are supporting him and they are probably better tuned into the feeling in the state that the national politicians who are telling him go away fast. (V)

Excuses for Moore Are Pretty Flimsy

Roy Moore and his supporters would desperately like this whole sex scandal to go away, and for him to be guilty of nothing. They can't quite decide whether the conduct in question never happened, or if it happened but wasn't problematic. As the various Moore partisans cast about, trying to make all of this OK, they've embraced many different excuses and explanations, each of them pretty shaky:

In any case, given how weak the excuses for Moore ultimately are, it probably reveals something about how strong the accusations against him are. (Z)

New Poll Shows Moore and Jones Tied

A new Opinion Savvy poll taken on Friday, the day after the news about Roy Moore's alleged child molestation came out, shows Moore at 46% and Democrat Doug Jones also at 46%. The poll asked if the respondent was aware of the accusations and 82% said they were. Another interesting finding is that 54% of all voters and 73% of Republicans want Moore to stay in the race. In a three-way race including Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) as a write-in candidate, Jones leads Moore by three points.

The poll could have an important effect on the race. National Democrats are debating about whether putting money into an Alabama Senate race is better, worse, or equal to flushing it down the toilet. If the DSCC runs its own poll and gets a similar result, it is likely to conclude that the race is potentially winnable, and will put money into helping Jones. That could move the needle more toward Jones. (V)

Could Jones Win This Thing?

As a consequence of the Civil Rights Movement, the South—a longtime Democratic bastion—became ruby red. After that process was finished playing out (by the early 1990s), the election of a Democratic senator from the Deep South became almost unthinkable. This is how Roy Moore, who trampled upon the Constitution so badly as to be removed from office, looted the "charity" he founded and lied about it, and is likely guilty of both sexual assault and pedophilia, remains a viable candidate for Alabama's Senate seat. Regardless of how reprehensible his behavior might be, Moore still has that all important "R" next to his name.

However, the available data suggests that the would be-Senator is at least a little bit vulnerable. He was twice elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2000, Moore's 54.6% of the vote just barely lagged George W. Bush's 56.5%. In 2012, the 51.9% of the vote that Moore collected lagged his 2000 total by a bit, and lagged Mitt Romney's 60.7% by a large margin. This suggests that at least a few Alabama Republicans were holding Moore's bad behavior—and his removal from office—against him. If a few more turn against him this year, that could be fatal.

Meanwhile, Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, has a couple of reasons to be hopeful. First of all, in both the 2000 and 2012 elections, the Democrats whom Moore ran against outperformed the Democratic presidential candidate. This hints at the possibility that "Alabama Democrat" is a little more palatable to the state's voters than a national Democrat. Also, the Senate election next month is coming in a non-presidential year, when victory tends to be determined by turnout, and thus enthusiasm. It's entirely plausible that many Alabamians could be unable to persuade themselves to cross party lines, but might also be unenthusiastic about voting for an accused sexual predator, and so may stay home on Election Day. Meanwhile, Democrats—sensing a chance at victory—could be buoyed. The upshot is that Roy Moore has pulled off quite the political feat: He's made a Senate election in Alabama competitive. (Z)

Ryan and McConnell Misspoke on Middle Class Taxes

Earlier this week, as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both hit the talk show circuit to try and sell their respective chambers' tax plans. And both said some very similar things about how the middle class—that is, 70% of taxpayers—would absolutely not be paying any more than they currently do. "[E]very single person, every rate payer, every bracket person gets a rate cut," declared Ryan." McConnell echoed him: "But at the end of the day, nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase."

This, of course, is not true. Now that the numbers have been crunched, we know that somewhere between 20% and 40% of middle class households would, in fact, be paying more if the Republicans get their way. Now that this has been pointed out to the gentlemen, both are claiming that they "misspoke." Through a spokesman, Ryan explained that he was speaking of the "average" household, and not necessarily "every" household, even though he used the word "every" three times in the span of seven words. McConnell, for his part, acknowledged that, "You can't guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase," even though the Majority Leader guaranteed just that three days earlier.

In the end, the tax revenues have to come from somewhere. Since poor folks don't pay many (or any) taxes, that leaves us with the middle class, the wealthy, and businesses. Whether it's for legitimate philosophical reasons, or because they know who is funding their political careers, Ryan and McConnell are laser-focused on cutting taxes for the latter two groups. Anything they say that suggests otherwise should be viewed with great skepticism. (Z)

If the Tax Bill Fails, Republican Donors Will Flee

Congressional Republicans have been warned in no uncertain terms that if the tax bill currently pending is not passed, the money spigot will be turned off. For big Republican donors, by far the biggest issue is getting a tax cut, since that affects them personally. Most likely few of them really care about abortion or same-sex marriage, and certainly not about the government wasting money to build a stupid wall with Mexico. But when their own money is on the line, giving money to Republican candidates is all about return on investment.

One major donor, Doug Deason, was quoted as saying: "If they don't get tax relief done, as they promised they would, then we will support challengers who will do their jobs for them." Members of Congress are saying the same thing. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) said: "My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again." If the donors really mean it, and start funding challengers to incumbent Republicans, the Party could be in for a real bloodbath in 2018. This means that they absolutely must get a bill passed. That won't be easy because the House and Senate have different bills and few Republicans want to compromise with the other chamber.

The two big stories at the moment (the tax bill and Roy Moore) are tied together very closely. On issue after issue, like health care, DACA, taxes, and much more, polls show that Americans largely agree with Democratic positions and not Republican positions. So what's the Republican Party to do? The answer is get large amounts of funding from wealthy people so they can flood the airwaves with ads and convince people to vote Republican, often by harping on a single issue (Hillary's emails!). But the wealthy donors aren't stupid. They want a good return on their investment in the form of lower taxes, so the Republicans' primary goal is cutting taxes for rich people.

This is where Moore comes in. Although no Republican senator approves of child molestation, they are scared that if they condemn Moore outright, Democrats might take the Alabama Senate seat, making it much harder to pass the tax cuts that their donors are vigorously demanding. If the donors flee, there will be a Republican bloodbath in 2018. If the Republicans had, say, 56 seats in the Senate, one more or less wouldn't matter much, and they would all condemn Moore with no strings attached. But they need every vote to get a tax bill through the Senate, so nearly all of them are waffling on Moore, saying: "If he preyed on teenagers, then I would oppose him, but I don't know if he preyed, so I'll just pray he didn't. (V)

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves a Judge the ABA Says Is Not Qualified

Donald Trump nominated Brett Talley to a lifetime job on the federal bench in Alabama despite the fact that he has practiced law for only 3 years and never even brought a case in court. The American Bar Association unanimously rated him "not qualified" to be a judge.

So why did Trump nominate him? From Trump's point of view, he has two qualifications that make him an ideal candidate. First, he is only 36 years old, so with some advances in medical technology he could be a federal judge for 50 years, maybe more. Second, he is extremely partisan and hates Hillary Clinton, denouncing her in his blog as "Hillary Rotten Clinton" and pledging his support to the National Rifle Association. Democrats, of course, were livid when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved him on a straight party-line vote.

There were more than 100 vacancies on the federal courts when Trump took office, largely due to Mitch McConnell's refusal to process Barack Obama's nominees, in order to keep the seats open for a possible future Republican president. The ploy worked extremely well, and now McConnell is doing everything he can to ram through all of Trump's nominations as fast as he can, with no vetting. McConnell knows that very few laws are going to be passed during Trump's presidency, but if he can get 100 very conservative young judges approved, that will be a huge legacy that will last for decades and which cannot be erased in the future, even if Democrats win all the marbles in 2020. (V)

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