ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 20

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Merkel’s Troubles–and Germany’s After her narrow election win, she cannot form a coalition government. Prefers new election (Deutsche Welle, in English)

The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.

She couldn’t find common ground between them.

Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.

 Charles Manson dead at 83. Remembering his victims: Rich, famous, fringe, and random (Los Angeles Times)

Comment: Unspeakable evil–with the power to persuade others to join his malign fantasy.

US designates North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism (Politico)

Iran, Sudan, and Syria are already on the list. It had been placed on the list in 1988 and removed by George W. Bush in 2008 as a carrot during failed nuclear negotiations.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.

Should have happened years ago. –Pres. Trump (quote at Reuters, link here)

Comment: The big question remains: Will China adhere to US-imposed sanctions or call our bluff by cheating on them?

 Sen. Franken: Second woman accuses of “inappropriate touching” (New York Times)

He won’t resign, says his hometown paper, the Star-Tribune.

 Roy Moore: Obstinate denials despite mounting evidence, stays in the race

Comment: His refusal to withdraw leaves Senate Republicans in a world of hurt.

Meanwhile, Moore received support at a press conference, featuring women who have worked with him.

Unfortunately, all these women have the same drawback. They are adults.

 

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, November 14: All Sleaze Edition

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Roy Moore abandoned by national Republicans as more women accuse him

Comment: With such a thin margin in the Senate, Republicans need the Alabama seat to pass legislation (not that they have done so, yet), but individual office holders cannot afford to back him. And they are absolutely right, ethically, to back away from this sleazebag.

Unfortunately for Republicans, Moore owes them nothing, so they have no leverage to force him out of the race.

Trump and his Press Secretary will have to answer the question, an awkward prospect.

A write-in candidacy might win, but it’s a long shot.

The New York Sun notes the precedent of the Adam Clayton Powell case, where the House refused to seat the long-time congressman in 1966 because of corruption. He took the case to the Supreme Court and won. In other words, Congress can remove people from office after giving them hearings but cannot refuse to seat them.

That would mean immediate and nasty hearings to unseat Moore, with the prospect of further public humiliation. When he contemplates that, he might decide to back out. If he does, the Governor would probably postpone the election–over strenuous Democratic objections and lawsuits.

 AG Sessions testifies before Congress on Russia, Clintons, Roy Moore (New York Times)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, showed selective recall on the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.

Mr. Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt these women” who have accused the man who wants his old Senate seat, Roy S. Moore, of seeking sexual or romantic favors from them as teenagers. –New York Times

Sessions floats prospect of a Special Counsel to Investigate Uranium One, Clinton Foundation (Washington Post)

The New York Times reports the same thing.

Comment: There seems to be enough smoke here to warrant a serious investigation. If so, then it should be conducted by a Special Counsel, not the DOJ for several reasons. The most important, by far, is this:

Any investigation of political opponents by law enforcement carries the heavy burden of perceived unfairness. Supporters of the opposing party (or candidate) will fear that the state’s power to investigate and punish is being used to crush opposition. That should never happen in a democracy. Even if the investigation is fair, it must be perceived as fair.

While Sessions and other political appointees could–and would–say that the task has been delegated to “career professionals,” they would have to sign off on any recommendations to charge. Again, their opponents could not be confident the process was fair and impartial.

Bottom line: Appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and the botched FBI investigation of the Clinton email server, including James Comey and Loretta Lynch’s roles.

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Moore Troubling Stories: Reports from Alabama’s leading papers

ZipDialog readers know that, when stories about cities or states break, I turn to the best local news sources.

They have better local contacts and often know more than the media who fly in for the day.

In the case of Roy Moore, the national media are best covering how the Republican Senate and the White House are responding.

The Alabama media is best on what locals know and how they are responding.

Today’s lead webpage from AL.com, a consortium of Alabama’s largest papers, is dominated by the Moore story. (The page is below)

The most interesting new information is (a) Sen. Shelby (R-AL) suggesting a Moore “consider” withdrawing, and (b) Reports from Gadsden, where Moore was living as a young prosecutor, that his interest in young girls was well-known. (It speaks of “flirting,” not assault.)

Here is the lead page of AL.com, dominated by the Moore stories.

 

Moore’s side is looking into allegations that the accusers were “paid to come forward.” If that is true, it would cloud their motives but not the substance of their charges.

The same is true about the Washington Post; its motives may be partisan (as we know Gloria Allred’s are), and that always merits skeptical scrutiny, but it is the substance of these serious charges that really matters here.

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VERY disturbing allegations about Rep. nominee for Senate, Roy Moore, and sexual encounters with underage girls

Moore–whose candidacy is disturbing for many other reasons as well–denies the accusations, made in the Washington Post (link here).

He claims it is just smear tactics by the WaPo and the Democrats.

Unfortunately for Moore (and the Republicans), the Post article names four separate accusers. No anonymous charges.

No one says they had coitus with Moore.

Three of the four say the encounters were only kissing. One says Moore provided alcohol, though she was underage.

The most overt sexual encounter was between 32-year-old Moore and 14-year-old Leigh Corfman:

Of the four women, the youngest at the time was Corfman, who is the only one who says she had sexual contact with Moore that went beyond kissing. She says they did not have intercourse.

In a written statement, Moore denied the allegations.

“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore, now 70, said.

The campaign said in a subsequent statement that if the allegations were true they would have surfaced during his previous campaigns, adding “this garbage is the very definition of fake news.” –Washington Post

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said the obvious: Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. (The Hill)

Alabama laws complicate any effort to step aside.

It’s unclear whether the Alabama state party will stand by the nominee, but Alabama law bars any candidate from withdrawing their name within 76 days of an election. That could present a situation where Moore’s name is on the ballot but he cannot be certified the winner if he wins, according to Alabama state law.  –The Hill

The legal status of a write-in candidate is unclear, according to The Hill.

In short, this scandal involves

  • Serious allegations
  • Multiple named sources
  • Denial by Moore
  • No easy solutions for the Republicans, even if Moore withdraws

Comment: With such a thin majority in the Senate, the Republicans’ loss here would imperil their already-tottering legislative program.

Moore was a terrible candidate before this. Rude, crude, and utterly ignorant of policy issues, as I wrote about him after he won the Republican primary (link here). Of course, I knew nothing then about these disturbing allegations, which seem credible.

This story will move rapidly, I’m sure. It’s cannot sit where it is now, after the Post story. Others will investigate, and the pressure on Moore will be enormous.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, September 27

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Roy Moore wins in Alabama Republican Primary. Trump endorsed the loser, but it is still a victory for Trumpism, right-wing populism 

Biggest loser outside Alabama: Mitch McConnell, who convinced Trump to get involved on the losing side.

My guess is that Trump is beside himself with fury at McConnell. The only thing keeping them from all-out war is the need to pass tax reform.

The main newspaper/website in Alabama has a concise headline on the outcome: Roy Moore rattles GOP in win over Luther Strange. They expect a “donnybrook” in the general election.

I have a separate post on the politics of Moore’s victory (here)

Comment on origin of word “donnybrook”: I hadn’t seen the word in a while and wondered where it came from.  I was shocked, shocked to find it is an area of Dublin, known for . . . .

Tax Cuts and Reforms to be unveiled on Wednesday. More on that later this week when the details are available.

The goal is to simplify, cut rates, and stimulate growth.

 The Health Care repeal and reform has died for this year. All that talk. No action. 

The New York Times report is here.

Comment: The Senate Republicans are in such a knot, they can’t even hold “regular order” hearings on the latest proposal, Graham-Cassidy’s federalist proposal.

McCain and Susan Collins put the stake in it, but several other Republicans were also “no” votes.

 Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, won’t run for reelection. He is a center-right Republican from Tennessee (Washington Post)

Two Chicago police officers “take a knee” in the police station. They are reprimanded by the department–but Mayor Rahm Emanuel offers no criticism (Chicago Tribune)

 

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US Senate Race in Alabama: Roy Moore Wins Republican Primary

Defeats incumbent Senatorial appointee, Luther Strange, despite Trump’s endorsement

“Big Luther,” as Trump nicknamed him, was saddled with trouble from the beginning.

He was appointed to office and many Alabama voters thought the decision was corrupt.

It was made by the embattled, embarrassed, and now-departed Gov. Bentley.

Somehow, the investigation of Bentley was stopped by the State AG’s office, headed by Strange. It’s not hard to figure what most people thought of that.

Still, Strange was the incumbent, was endorsed and funded by Sen. Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and, thanks to McConnell, received Trump’s endorsement.

Trump and Pence made trips to Alabama but never attacked Moore and, in fact, said they would support him in the general election. Moore is not so appealing to a general population but is still likely to win in a Deep Red State.

Backed by Steve Bannon and the populist wing, Moore’s win is a “victory for Trumpism but not for Trump.” The president will take some (small) comfort from that. And he’ll be leery of opposing that movement again at the ballot box.

Who is the Big Loser, Besides Luther Strange?

Who is the big loser? Mitch McConnell.

He loses twice over. First, he loses a reliable vote in the Senate. Roy Moore is a loose cannon (though he lacks much firepower). Assuming he wins the seat, he won’t be a reliable vote any more than Mike Lee or Susan Collins.

Second, ole Mitch is not going to enjoy his talks with Trump. He got Trump to endorse a loser. Trump is gonna love that. Mitch couldn’t get his own guy over the finish line and managed to associate Trump with the thing he hates most: losing. And, of course, Mitch cannot get key legislation passed. Trump is gonna treat him like road kill, restrained only by his desperate need to pay tax cuts and tax reform.

Moore is Less

As for Moore, he is

  • Dumb as a box of rocks, which doesn’t seem to faze Alabama Republican voters
  • Knows nothing about public policy, which takes some doing for a man who has been in public office for years
  • Considered by Alabama Republicans to be the authentic voice of populist anger and religious fervor.

It was this last point–populist fury and Moore’s identification with it–that led to his victory.

Expect to hear plenty from the Democrats about the “rule of law” in our country. They will move to exploit Moore’s flat refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from a court building, despite being to do so by a Federal Court. We’ve been through that issue before in our country. It was decided right the first two times. Moore’s refusal to obey a legitimate court order is despicable. It got him booted off the Alabama State Supreme Court but was apparently a feather in his cap politically. Uggh.

With all those deficits, it tells you a lot about the primary electorate’s mood that he won. And it tells you a lot about how conservative Alabama is that Moore is favored to win the General Election.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, August 16

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Trump doubles down on moral equivalence, blaming all sides for violence in Charlottesville. 

Comment: Not just a tactical mistake, IMO–an ethical travesty.

It is a tactical mistake, of course, because it keeps this dreadful, wrenching story alive for several more days and will undoubtedly animate the crazies on the left.

It is also true that some on the far left came to fight; so did some anarchists, who sided with them.

But the main points are these:

  • The whole event occurred because the neo-Nazis and KKK came to town to “defend” the statue of Robert E. Lee
  • It was one of their number who actually killed somebody, and
  • In such times, the President’s first responsibility is to rise about partisanship and speak for the country as a whole, to act as a stabilizing presence.

Trump failed.

Speaking of failure…The American Bar Association wants undocumented/illegal immigrants to practice law (Law Newz)

On Monday, The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution demanding that Congress let undocumented immigrants practice law…..

A few states allow undocumented people to become lawyers. California started allowing some people to practice law thanks to a bill passed in 2013. –Law Newz

Comment: There is zero chance a Republican Congress will pass, or Pres. Trump will sign, this proposed law.

Still, the ABA’s vote is shocking, even as virtue signalling (which is what it is).

Why? Because, whatever you call these immigrants (undocumented or illegal), their first act on American soil was to break the law. They entered the country illegally. They are still here illegally. To entrust them to serve as “officers of the court,” which all lawyers are, makes a mockery of that term.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair says U.S. “Is Not the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” (CNS News)

Comment: Part of their new outreach to Middle America?

Provo, Utah, mayor John Curtis declares victory in race to success Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Salt Lake City Tribune)

He ran as a conservative Republican (though he had been a Democrat in 2000). One opponent ran to his right; the other was a relative newcomer and less well-known.

Attitudes toward Trump did not play a large role in the race, according to the Salt Lake City paper.

Alabama: Primary for US Senate to replace Jeff Sessions: Runoff next month between Republicans, winner to face Democrat (Al.com)

Roy Moore will face Luther Strange in a runoff for the Republican nomination on Sept. 26. The winner will face former U.S. attorney Doug Jones in December. –Al.com

Luther Strange is currently sitting in the Senate, appointed by the Governor. He was endorsed by Mitch McConnell (who got Trump to endorse him) and had establishment money. But he underperformed badly in the primary.

Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, who had support from conservative talk radio hosts, came in third–a major setback for them. Brooks will remain in the House and says he plans to run for reelection in 2018.

Roy Moore, who led the field, is a very controversial figure, best known for his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from the state Judicial Building, despite a Federal Court order to do so. That refusal (in 2001) led to his removal from the bench; he had been Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2016, when he was again Chief Justice, he was suspended (and later resigned) for ordering lower-court judges to continue enforcing the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, even though the ban had been overturned by Federal Courts.

Comment: Moore praised Brooks on election night–a smart strategic move–and is now in a strong position to garner his votes as the most anti-establishment candidate.

Because Moore is so controversial, expect this race to receive national attention.

 

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