Dem 48
image description
GOP 52
image description
New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

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:

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:

  • It Was a Different Time: Some of Moore's defenders have put forth the notion that while making a pass at a teenager might be frowned upon today, it was considerably less problematic 40 years ago. Moore himself adopted a version of this in his first public comments about the situation on Friday, acknowledging that he vaguely recalls dating a few teenagers when he was in his thirties, but that nothing untoward happened (apparently, Moore does not realize that he has just gone about 80% of the way to confirming his accusers' stories). The problem with this general thesis, meanwhile, is that the alleged assaults happened in the 1980s, not the 1680s. Things weren't that different. In particular, unwanted groping was just as illegal and unethical then as it is now.

  • Why Now? This is a favorite of Sean Hannity, among others, who argue that it is either unfair to accuse Moore 40 years after the fact, or else is suspicious. As to "unfair," that may be true when it's one accuser, and their memory is hazy. In this case, however, it's half a dozen, and their memories are both clear and consistent. As to why they did not come forward earlier, it's not suspicious at all. As the Harvey Weinstein story has shown us, these kinds of allegations tended to be downplayed or ignored prior to...well, about three weeks ago. Further, 40 years ago, Moore was not running for the United States Senate. Now he is.

  • Blame the Messenger: Steve Bannon is leading this faction of the apologia brigade, telling a crowd on Thursday that, "The Bezos Amazon Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos Amazon Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now is that a coincidence?" The "dime" in question is the infamous "grab them by the pu**y" tape. And in answer to Bannon's question, no, it is not a coincidence. The Post is one of America's best papers, and may be the very best when it comes to (1) investigative reporting, (2) politics, and (3) investigative reporting of politics. The fact that both stories were reported by the same outlet, particularly that outlet, does not make them false. After all, it was the Post that broke all the big Watergate stories, too.

  • Where's the Proof? Some of Moore's backers are trying to take a "wait and see" approach, saying that they will reserve judgment until there is proof of the allegations. Donald Trump has hinted at this way of thinking, with White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling the press corps that, "Like most Americans, the president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation—in this case, one from many years ago—to destroy a person's life." Similarly, more than one friend of Moore is calling for a lie detector test. These individuals, from Trump on down, don't seem to grasp how "proof" works. When half a dozen people corroborate a story, that is considered overwhelming evidence in any court in the land. And that's the only kind of evidence there is going to be, since Moore's alleged actions were not the sort that leave physical traces behind (unlike, say, a rape). As to lie detectors, they are accurate only 60% to 70% of the time, which is not too good given that coin flips are correct 50% of the time.

  • The Bible Says It's OK: The wildest defenses, perhaps, have been the ones rooted in Biblical passages that seem to justify Moore's behavior. For example, as noted above, the argument that Moore wasn't doing anything different than Joseph did with Mary, since she was a teenager and he wasn't. Of course, the Bible describes places and cultures that existed between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago. Things may have changed just a bit since then. Further, there's enough stuff in the Bible that one could justify just about anything through selective quotation. For example, having someone killed for mocking your bald head. Or incest. Or not paying your taxes. Or cutting off someone's hand for unwanted touching of someone else's genitals (oops, better not tell Moore & Co. about that one). And even with so much material to choose from (see Dana Milbank's column for a long list), reflecting a context that is very different from our own, Moore and his defenders still came up with laughably bad scriptural support for his behavior, as Christian ministers and scholars across the country have been quick to point out.

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)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov10 Senate Releases Its Tax Bill
Nov10 Roy Moore Is Accused of Sexually Assaulting a 14-Year-Old Girl When He Was 32
Nov10 Miller Meets Mueller
Nov10 Wilbur Ross Feels the Heat, Again
Nov10 Jury Deliberation in Menendez Case to Start All Over Next Week
Nov10 Republicans Hold Virginia House of Delegates...For Now
Nov10 Goodlatte to Bid Good Night
Nov09 Takeaways from the Election
Nov09 What Happened in Virginia?
Nov09 Cohn: Democrats Shouldn't Be Counting Their Chickens Quite Yet
Nov09 Election Day Brought Numerous Firsts to Many States
Nov09 Trump Kowtows to Xi
Nov09 The Tax Bill Has Winners and Losers
Nov09 Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
Nov09 Why Trump Will Never Lose His Supporters
Nov08 Virginians Give Red Team, and Their White Nationalist Supporters, the Blues
Nov08 Mostly Good News for Democrats Elsewhere
Nov08 Seven Problems Trump Will Face on His Asia Trip
Nov08 Martha McSally Will Run for Jeff Flake's Seat
Nov08 Frank LoBiondo Is Retiring from the House
Nov08 Twitter Doubles Down
Nov07 Today Is Election Day
Nov07 Retirements Will Shape the New House
Nov07 GOP Shrugs Off Texas Shooting
Nov07 Was the Tax Bill Written Specifically Tailored to Donald Trump's Needs?
Nov07 Dean: Kushner Is Going Down
Nov07 Trump Undermined Bon Jovi NFL Bid
Nov07 Paul Clips Grass, Neighbor Kicks Ass
Nov06 26 Dead in Yet Another Mass Killing
Nov06 Brazile Keeps Firing at Clinton Campaign
Nov06 Democrats Pin Hopes on Black Voters in Virginia
Nov06 Democrats Look to Build a "Blue Wall" Along the Pacific
Nov06 Flynns Could Be Mueller's Next Targets
Nov06 Papadopoulos Repeatedly Represented Trump Campaign
Nov06 "Paradise Papers" Released
Nov06 Rand Paul Could Be Sidelined at Home for a While
Nov06 Prosecutors Question Manafort's Bail Offer
Nov05 Democrats Prepare to Resist Tax Bill
Nov05 Conservative Media Outlets Becoming Houses Divided
Nov05 Bushes Blast Trump
Nov05 Brazile Reopens Old Wounds for the Democrats
Nov05 Can the Democrats Recapture Obama-Trump Voters?
Nov05 Democrats Attracting Lots of Women Candidates
Nov05 When it Comes to Mother Mary, Trump Lets It Be
Nov04 Russiagate Plot Thickens, Courtesy of Page and Sessions
Nov04 Mueller Shows How the Game is Played
Nov04 Trump Shows How the Game is Not Played
Nov04 Tax Bill Faces Hurdles in the Senate
Nov04 Bannon's Endorsement May Not Mean Much
Nov03 Republicans' Tax Plan Will Unleash Numerous Battles