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Live Results in the Alabama Senate Special Election

By Clare Foran

Alabama voters will decide on Tuesday whether to send Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate in the race to fill the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Polls in the closely-watched, and surprisingly competitive, race close at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Alabama is a deeply conservative state. But Moore’s campaign is embroiled in controversy and allegations of past sexual misconduct, creating an opening for a possible upset by Jones. Moore has a lead of 2.2 points in polling averages, but polls has been all over the place and the outcome could go either way.

Moore is a former Alabama Chief Justice who gained notoriety for defying federal court orders to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments and uphold the legality of same-sex marriage. He faces allegations of sexual assault from multiple women, including women who say they were teenagers when he made advances toward them. Moore has denied the accusations.

Jones is a former U.S. attorney known for prosecuting members of the Ku Klux Klan for the bombing of a black baptist church in Birmingham in the 1960s, an attack that left four girls dead. Despite campaigning in solidly Republican territory, Jones has run as a pro-choice, pro-immigrant-rights Democrat.

If Moore wins, the Senate Republican establishment will have to grapple with the allegations he faces. A number of Senate Republicans have said that Moore will face an ethics investigation if he wins. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner, has said that the Senate should vote to expel Moore if he wins. President Trump has endorsed Moore, and would likely oppose expulsion.

If Jones wins, it would be a major upset. Flipping a Senate seat would narrow the already razor-thin Republican majority in the chamber, making it harder for Republicans to pass significant legislation. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Poll Tide

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones face off in Alabama’s special Senate election. Polls for the highly contested race close at 8 p.m. ET. On Twitter, President Trump criticized Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who said on Monday that the president should resign amid sexual-misconduct allegations. Trump’s tweet drew pushback from Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer. At a town-hall meeting with diplomats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unveiled changes to the State Department that he said would help workers perform better overseas.

Today on The Atlantic

  • A Clash of Ideas: McKay Coppins writes that Tuesday’s special election in Alabama is a small battle in a larger war over the soul of the Republican Party.

  • Welfare Overhaul: Governor Scott Walker has been trying to add drug testing as a requirement for welfare benefits for years—and he might finally have a chance under the Trump administration. (Vann R. Newkirk II)

  • ‘Stealing From the Grandchildren’: Entitlement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, were built for a system in which a robust group of working people could support retirees. But that’s not the reality today. (Eric B. Schnurer)

Follow stories throughout the day with our ), Lena Felton (@lenakfelton), and Taylor Hosking (@Taylor__Hosking)

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Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Poll Tide” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Republicans Race to Finish Their Tax Cuts

By Russell Berman

Republicans racing to enact their tax cuts by Christmas are down to the final details as they try to merge competing plans passed by the House and Senate in the last month. But those finishing touches are forcing the party to make some tricky decisions.

Will negotiators soften the more unpopular edges of the bills to provide more benefits to individuals and the middle class, or will they yield to conservative demands that the $1.4 trillion plan prioritize corporations in the name of economic growth?

The House and Senate tax bills contained some important differences that Republicans are now trying to reconcile. The House version, for example, collapsed the seven individual income-tax brackets into four, while the Senate kept the current structure while modestly reducing the rates. Unlike House lawmakers, GOP senators eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, but they ignored the lower chamber’s attempt to cap or scrap popular deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, student loans, and tuition for graduate students. The House repealed the estate tax; the Senate merely trimmed it back a bit. To save on cost, the Senate instead did something the House did not: It set nearly all of the individual income tax cuts to expire after six years while making permanent the huge cut to the corporate rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent.

The GOP’s slimmer majority in the Senate and the chamber’s stricter budget rules gives its version the upper hand in the negotiations. But the party’s bigger challenge now is to figure out how to pay for the late changes that GOP lawmakers on both ends of the Capitol want to see made. In the House, Californians are pushing to salvage more of the state-and-local tax deduction in the final bill. Both versions would bar individuals from writing off their …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A National-Security Strategy Devoid of Values

By David Frum

The Trump administration unveils a National Security Strategy next week, but National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster provided an advance glimpse of the plan on Tuesday.

A helpful way to understand where this still-new administration is leading is to compare McMaster’s bullet-pointed speech to the final Strategy documents released by two previous administrations, in 2015 and 2006, and note what is changing. McMaster spoke at a Washington conference hosted by Policy Exchange, a U.K. think tank that I chaired from 2014 until earlier this year. Granted, his short speech inevitably abridged the long-form document. Yet even allowing for that, the differences can be seen.

The Obama administration’s 2015 document addressed in some detail epidemics and climate change. The Bush administration committed the United States to supporting human dignity, opening societies, and supporting the building of democracy. The main lines of the Trump approach jettison these concerns. If McMaster fairly summarized the new approach, the United States will soon formally commit itself to a lonelier and less generous course.

The new Trump policy is headed by four priorities: defending the homeland, protecting American prosperity, sustaining peace through strength, and advancing American influence. All these themes were present in 2006 and 2015 too, but the differences in emphasis in 2017 are crucial. The two previous presidencies spoke of American economic interests as both shared and expanding. The Trump approach is narrower and gloomier: American prosperity is to be protected, not enlarged; foreign economies are seen as rivals, not partners. McMaster spoke of fighting back against currency manipulation and unfair trade. Which is important as far as it goes—and indeed such themes have been struck before. But what is missing this time, if the advance summary is indicative, is awareness of the American economy as integrated into a global system, giving the U.S. an interest in …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump Tests the Limits of Shame

By Michelle Cottle

Just after 8:00 on Tuesday morning, President Trump whipped out his phone and fired off this incendiary, insinuating tweet:

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign donations not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

It’s hardly surprising that Trump is miffed at Gillibrand. On Monday, the gentlewoman from New York publicly called on the president to step down in light of the multiple accusations of harassment and assault swirling around him. Having long pressed for the military to address its sexual-assault problem, Gillibrand has emerged more recently as a crusader against all manner of sexual misbehavior by political leaders: She was the first Senate Democrat to call on her Minnesota colleague Al Franken to step down, and she contends that elected officials absolutely should be held to higher standards than regular folks.

Understandably, Trump does not appreciate the senator’s focusing a spotlight on his own … vulnerabilities in this area. What powerful man would?

But unlike most men, Trump is not content simply to push back against the substance of the accusations against him. Nor is it enough for him to follow the usual partisan playbook and dismiss Gillibrand as politically motivated—though his “flunky” crack did make that point.

No, Trump being Trump, he felt moved to take it that one step further by asserting that, back when Democratic politicians viewed him as a handy source of campaign donations, Gillibrand was all too willing to debase herself for nice sweaty wads of his cash. She would, he stressed, “do anything for them.”

What precisely is Trump implying? As is often the case, it’s hard to say with …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Judith Butler Overestimates the Power of Hateful Speech

By Conor Friedersdorf

Judith Butler worries that UC Berkeley risks dire consequences if it fails to put more limits on the sorts of speech and free expression that it allows on campus.

In remarks to a campus forum, “Perspectives on Freedom of Expression on Campus,” she argued against “free speech absolutists.” For instance, she believes incitements to violence should not be protected by the First Amendment. Of course, that view reflects longstanding law and is shared by the Federalist Society, the ACLU, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the vast majority of Americans, including most staunch free-speech advocates. Support for repealing all laws against incitement is almost nil, as is the constituency for literal free-speech “absolutism.”

More controversial were her suggestions that the Constitutions’s equal-protection clause is sometimes at odds with protected speech, and that Title IX and UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community should sometimes trump the First Amendment. As she put it:

If the commitment to free speech provisions under the First Amendment takes precedence over Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Berkeley Principles of Community, then I suppose we are being asked to understand that we will, in the name of freedom of speech, willingly allow our environment to be suffused with hatred, threats, and violence, that we will see the values we teach and to which we adhere destroyed by our commitment to free speech or, rather, to a very specific – possibly overbroad – interpretation of what constitutes expressive activity protected by that constitutional principle.

That passage is striking for its non-sequitur. For decades, the First Amendment has taken precedence over federal statutes like Title IX and campus codes of conduct. Yet public universities have not been suffused with hatred, threats, and violence as a result; and there is no reason to expect UC Berkeley to meet that …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A Clash Between Two Visions of the Republican Party in Alabama

By McKay Coppins

For all the national attention that’s been paid to the grisly particulars of Alabama’s special election over the past few weeks—the lurid details of the sexual-abuse accusations against Roy Moore; the performative shrieks of “Fake News!” from the candidate and his defenders—the true political consequences of the race will likely reach well beyond a single Senate race in 2017.

In fact, many Republicans in Washington believe the voters who are heading to the polls on Tuesday could end up playing a pivotal role in the fight for the soul of the GOP.

Republican leaders have been keeping an especially wary eye on Alabama ever since former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon announced his intention to recruit primary challengers for (virtually) every Republican senator up for reelection in 2018.

“There’s a time and season for everything,” Bannon said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in October, “and right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment.”

Under normal circumstances, Republicans might have dismissed this bit of posturing as little more than made-for-cable bravado. But Bannon’s success in aiding Moore, a right-wing ex-judge with a long history of incendiary stunts and retrograde views, to the Republican nomination had unnerved party leaders. The alarm only grew when Moore—facing credible allegations of sexual abuse and assault—defiantly refused to exit the race, and pledged to fight on without the support of the institutional GOP. Eventually, Moore won back the endorsements of President Trump and the Republican National Committee, even as the rest of the party establishment—most notably the National Republican Senate Committee—continued to maintain its distance.

Now, Republicans in Washington say the outcome of the Alabama race will set the stage for the coming clash between the Republican Party and the Bannonite insurrectionists.

“The stakes are high for both sides,” said Ryan Williams, a Republican consultant …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



‘It’s the Grandparents Stealing From the Grandchildren’

By Eric B. Schnurer

One day in 1984, Kurt Vonnegut called.

I was ditching my law school classes to work on the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate against Ronald Reagan, when one of those formerly-ubiquitous pink telephone messages was delivered to me saying that Vonnegut had called, asking to speak to one of Mondale’s speechwriters.

All sorts of people called to talk to the speechwriters with all sorts of whacky suggestions; this certainly had to be the most interesting. I stared at the 212 phone number on the pink slip, picked up a phone, and dialed.

A voice, so gravelly and deep that it seemed to lie at the outer edge of the human auditory range, rasped, “Hello.” I introduced myself. There was a short pause, as if Vonnegut were fixing his gaze on me from the other end of the line, then he spoke.

“It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren.”

I waited for elaboration. After a long pause, however, he simply repeated, “It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren. Got it?”

I assured him I did, and he hung up.

Of course, I knew immediately what he meant. America had become a great nation because it had always kept its eyes on the future. That changed with the election of Ronald Reagan—when the Baby Boom generation, enthusiastic Reagan backers, became the largest cohort in the electorate and began to rise in the political and economic worlds. The Boomers’ sense of entitlement was beginning to manifest itself in the long battle over what are known as “entitlements”—especially the original and largest, Social Security and Medicare—and what they say about our attitudes toward future generations.

That question is now playing out in the tension between perhaps the longest-held desire of traditional conservatives—if not to end completely at least to eviscerate entitlements—and the completely contrary views of Donald Trump …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Will Roy Moore Win the Alabama Senate Race?

By Clare Foran

In Tuesday’s Alabama Senate race, no one knows who will come out on top—and that’s unusual in a reliably conservative state.

Thanks to a strange set of circumstances, the special election to fill the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become a competitive race. Republican Roy Moore had been viewed as a strong favorite, but that changed when multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers.

The allegations, which Moore denies, have shaken up the race and given Democrat Doug Jones a shot at winning, though Moore maintains a slight edge in polling averages. Pundits and pollsters now deem the Alabama special election “impossible to predict.”

Special elections that take place in a year when midterms aren’t held are difficult to poll under any circumstances. It’s hard for pollsters to predict exactly who will show up to vote when they can’t turn to past turnout data in comparable election cycles. The controversy that has engulfed the Alabama senate election as a result of the allegations against Moore adds even more volatility to the race.

“This race has almost every factor that makes polling tricky,” said Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster and co-host of “The Pollsters” podcast. “We don’t know what the electorate is going to be, and you have people trying different methodologies to try to figure out out. Some may prove to be better than others.”

In the final days of the race, the polls have been all over the place. A Fox News poll reported that Jones had a ten-point lead among likely Alabama voters, while an Emerson College poll showed Moore with a nine-point lead over Jones. Fox News polled voters via both landlines and cell phones, while Emerson College’s poll relied on landlines and an online panel. Individuals …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Wisconsin’s Welfare Overhaul Is Almost Complete

By Vann R. Newkirk II

If Scott Walker has his way, poor people in Wisconsin will have to undergo drug testing, one way or another.

Last week, the Republican governor forged ahead with a plan to require testing for some recipients of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps. That measure would come on top of another proposal to test Wisconsin’s Medicaid enrollees, which is pending federal approval, as well as a law already on the books requiring drug screening and testing for non-custodial parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. If both of Walker’s proposals pass federal scrutiny, it’ll mean all three of the major welfare programs in the state will have drug-testing components.

The move to add drug testing to SNAP is another gambit in Walker’s ongoing effort to overhaul welfare, which has included a host of reforms over the past three years. The change would affect recipients who participate in its Employment and Training Program. Through ETP, able-bodied, childless adults already have to meet work requirements in order to qualify for food stamps. Under the proposed regulation, those who test positive would be required to undergo treatment—on the state’s dime, if they can’t afford it—or face losing their benefits. The Walker administration has also sought to add work requirements and a time limit on benefits to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, and it wants to extend the SNAP work requirements to parents.

It’s far from certain whether the latest reforms from Walker will pass federal muster. Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, Walker’s requests to implement drug testing in SNAP were denied or held up by the Department of Agriculture under the rationale that they constituted an additional eligibility barrier that Wisconsin wasn’t entitled to impose. While the state disagreed …read more

Via:: The Atlantic