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29 November 2017

Moore Updates - 29 November 2017

Some quick updates on the special Alabama Senate race:

- After Democrat Doug Jones rose above Moore in the RealClearPolitics average of polls late last week, the current RCP average puts Moore at a 2% lead.  That's still within the margin of error, but as I argued in a previous post, unless Jones is ahead by more than 3-5% in the polls, Moore is probably safe.

- Other polling shows Moore further ahead, including one that puts Moore up by 5 points over Jones.

- D.C. McAllister at The Federalist makes a strong case for why Christians are justified in voting for Moore, regardless of the veracity of the particular allegations brought against him.  It's a long read, but interesting, and good food for thought.  Read it here.

Unless there are some serious new allegations closer to election day on 12 December, Moore should win the race.  At this point, the intensity of the allegations have died down, and voters are back to considering the issues.  Conservative Alabamans are likely to support a flawed conservative who had some unusual sexual peccadilloes forty years ago over a ultra-progressive Democrat.

27 November 2017

Monday Morning Update for 27 November 2017: Let Us Give Thanks

We have much to be thankful for this Christmas season--I certainly do--but it's easy to forget how much America's situation has improved since President Trump took office.  The improvement goes beyond the record-breaking stock prices, however; massive, unprecedented deregulation from the executive branch has super-charged growth and expanded liberty.  The boot heel of an oppressive federal government has given way to a pro-growth, pro-American government that believes in catalyzing, not crippling, American businesses, workers, and organizations.

President Donald J. Trump:  A Smirk Well-Deserved

Fortunately, Deroy Murdock has detailed President Trump's substantial policy successes (most of them, unfortunately, coming from the executive branch; Congress, especially the Senate, is still asleep at the switch).  Just when I thought National Review had totally gone over to the noodle-wristed "decorum" crowd (barring the occasional dose of courage from Victor Davis Hanson or Conrad Black), it was refreshing to read this piece of unadulterated triumphalism.

Without further ado, I give you Deroy Murdock's "This Thanksgiving, Thank Donald J. Trump":  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454028/donald-trump-accomplishments-thanksgiving

Happy Monday!

--TPP

23 November 2017

It's a Thanksgiving Miracle!

This past Saturday, I fell from a ladder while hanging Christmas lights at my girlfriend's home office. I shattered my left wrist--it's called a distal radius fracture--and gashed my left leg. My head was also hurt, but there was no damage to my brain.

The fall was about 10-12 feet onto concrete. It could have been much, much worse; I am very thankful it wasn't.

The doctor at the ER and the nurse practitioner both told me I would almost certainly need surgery due to the nature of my fracture. I saw the orthopedist Tuesday, and he was able to set the fracture to an "acceptable" state.

America's Favorite Food

Setting the fracture without surgery was a major answer to prayer. I go back on 5 December for a follow-up; if the setting takes, I'll get a flexi-cast. If not, I'll have to have surgery.

That's all to say that my posting will be typing for a time, as typing is rather tedious (I'm "typing" this post on my cell phone--the predictive text actually makes it faster). I'll continue to do my best to deliver quality content and thoughtful analysis, just in shorter and less frequent chunks.

I am very thankful to our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, for extending His Hand of protection and healing; He has already worked miracles during my recovery through the prayers of many friends and family (not to mention the capable hands of my excellent orthopedic surgeon). I'm grateful to be alive!

God Bless, and Happy Thanksgiving!

--TPP

20 November 2017

Alabama Special Election - Poll Predictions

In my previous post, I laid out a defense of Judge Roy Moore, Republican candidate for US Senate in Alabama's special election.  Prior to a series of lurid sexual allegations, Moore was hugely favored to win the deep-red State's senate seat.

In light of these allegations--and amid cowardly calls from the Republican Establishment to withdraw from the race--Moore's poll numbers have wavered.

That's not surprising.  What is more interesting, however, is that Moore's numbers have not changed substantially; rather, his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, has enjoyed a bump.

At the time of writing (Thursday, 16 November 2017), the RealClearPolitics average of polls (link) has Moore ahead by a meager 0.8%, with 47.2% of likely voters.  Jones has the support of 46.4% of likely voters (in one Fox News poll, Jones enjoys a six-point lead!).

Just a week prior (Thursday, 9 November 2017)--before the bulk of the accusations against Moore materialized--Moore sat at 48%, with Jones at 42%.

Note that Moore's average poll numbers have only fallen by 0.8%--hardly a catastrophic slide.  Jones's numbers, on the other hand, have seen a 4.4% boost.

Even on 9 November, 10% of likely Alabama voters were undecided.  Now, that number has fallen to 6.4%.  In other words, in one week, 3.6% of undecided voters have "decided" for Jones, while only 0.8% of Moore voters have flipped.

That infamous Fox News poll?  It had a sample size of about 500 voters, and polls tend to skew toward Democratic voters (presumably, they have the free time from guzzling sweet, sweet government bennies to answer phone polls).

Meanwhile, a local Fox affiliate in Alabama, Fox10, commissioned its own poll with Strategy Research (link).  That poll has a healthier sample size of 3000, and puts Moore up over Jones by a respectable six points, 49% to 43%, respectively, with 8% of voters undecided.

Of those polled, 35% said the allegations made them more likely to vote for Moore.  Among undecided voters, 6% said the allegations made them more likely to vote for Moore, 44% less likely to vote for Moore, and a whopping 51% were either undecided or said that "the allegations make no difference in their vote."

Doug Jones, Democratic Candidate (top) and Judge Roy Moore, Republican Candidate for Senate (bottom; Source:  https://realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2017/senate/al/alabama_senate_special_election_moore_vs_jones-6271.html#polls)

What does this all mean?

For one, the election will come down to undecided voters.  If any of the truly wicked allegations against Moore are proven (it's unorthodox, to be sure, but I don't consider respectful courting of legal-aged women--with their mothers' permission!--in the late 1970s as particularly wicked), that 51% of the 6-8% of undecided will likely push Jones over the top.  However, if no plausible evidence emerges to indict Moore decisively in the public mind, then he should win over enough of those undecided voters to get the Senate seat, although I predict he'll take a hit among women either way.

Support from his existing supporters remains solid.  Take a look at that 35% who are more likely to vote for Moore after the allegations.  Surely a solid third of Alabama Republicans aren't supporting Moore because he's said to have dated teenagers (and to have inappropriately groped a half-naked fourteen-year old).  Why would they stick with him?

The answer:  they smell a rat.  Media bias reeked throughout the 2016 election, when Donald Trump--whom Alabamans supported in droves--fought off sexual harassment allegations of his own.  Those allegations looked like they would swamp Trump's candidacy when they aired in October 2016--a month before the election.  He batted them away by turning the tables on Secretary Hillary Clinton's lothario husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Moore is in a nearly-identical situation:  he's a lovable culture warrior who has put his career on the line for his principles.  He's bucked the Establishment of his own party, and his allure goes beyond policy specifics.  He's a Jacksonian hero who, while he may be rough around the edges, appeals to everyday folks with his common sense and tenacity.  While Trump was a household name throughout the country, Moore is a household name in Alabama.

So when these allegations emerged almost exactly a month before the 12 December election day, Moore supporters naturally had to be skeptical, especially coming from the Washington Post, an outlet that endorsed Doug Jones.

When Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, "Republican" Senator John McCain, and other Establishment heavies began calling for Moore to withdraw from the race, more than a few Moore voters had to suspect that the machinery of the Trump-skeptical GOP congressional leadership was either involved, or gleefully hoping to oust a damaged candidate.

When faced with the prospect of voting for a partial-birth abortion-supporting Jones or a potentially flawed conservative Christian culture warrior with a penchant for younger women, many Moore voters must have drawn the conclusion--as they did with then-candidate Trump--that a flawed conservative is better than a pure, progressive Democratic.

"[Moore is] a Jacksonian hero who, while he may be rough around the edges, appeals to everyday folks with his common sense and tenacity."


I have another--controversial--theory that, if correct, could wreck any poll numbers that put Jones up by less than 3-5%:  just as Trump enjoyed more support than the polls--even exit polls--suggested, I believe Moore will experience a similar phenomenon.  Right now, few people want to tell a phone pollster (even a computerized voice) that they support a man accused of, at best, dating teenagers.

This reluctance will be most prevalent among men (again, I suspect that Moore will take more damage from women, regardless of what revelations the future holds).  There are probably thousands of men in Alabama tonight who are thinking, "Well, I wouldn't want a 32-year old dating my daughter, but I can see why he would have dated younger women."  They can never utter this aloud, but they're thinking it.

Finally, just look at any comment thread on any story about Moore, especially one a local website.  The pro-Jones folks are invariably insufferable Lefties from out-of-state lecturing to the good folks of Alabama to "not be stupid" and the like.  The Moore supporters are grassroots and ready to back their candidate to the hilt.

While anything could happen, I think the trends on the ground will favor Moore.  If he can fight back the accusations, he can turn the election into a fight against Democratic outsiders attempting to influence the election, AND the Republican Establishment trying to keep him down.

We're in the age of the outsider, and Roy Moore is the ultimate outsider.  Let's see if he can pull a Trump and do some good in the Senate.

17 November 2017

The Alabama Special Election, Principles, and Persecution

The campaign of Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore is reeling after allegations that, in the 1970s and 1980s, Moore dated several teenage girls.  The Washington Post article that broke the news focuses on Leigh Corfman, who alleges that Moore approached her at the courthouse in Etowah County, Alabama, when she was only fourteen-years old.  After obtaining her phone number, Corfman claims Moore met with her and forced her to touch him over the underwear.

Several other women also told the Washington Post that they dated Moore while he was in his early 30s and they in their late teens.  These other women were between sixteen and eighteen (sixteen is the legal age of consent in Alabama), and report that their dates with the young deputy district attorney were respectful, involving no physical contact beyond hugging and kissing.  One of the women even said her mother was thrilled that her daughter was dating a successful attorney.

Judge Moore denied all of the allegations, but each day seems to bring some fresh revelation or twist.  He has since said that he may have dated some teenagers of legal age when he was younger.  The truth is difficult to discern, but here is what we do know:
  • Four women--all above the legal age of consent--reported that Moore was respectful (one noted that after her mother forbid her from dating an older man, their relationship ended, apparently without any further fanfare).
  • Leigh Corfman, who was fourteen at the time of the alleged groping, was the only woman accusing Moore of any explicitly illegal and illicit sexual activity.
  • Tina Johnson emerged a few days into the controversy, alleging that Moore grabbed her butt in 1991. (Link)
  • Judge Moore has been married to his wife, Kayla Moore, who is younger than him by fourteen years, for decades.  She has defended her husband fiercely in the face of these accusations.
  • Moore has run multiple local and statewide campaigns--many of them controversial--and no allegations have emerged during any of these (highly contentious) campaigns.
  • Moore is a boogeyman for the political Left, and something of a Jacksonian folk hero for the Right.  He famously refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the Alabama Judicial Building after a federal court ruled it constituted an establishment of religion (Alan Keyes eloquently denounced that federal court order in a classic essay--and, for my students, perennial Government class assignment--entitled "On the Establishment of Religion:  What the Constitution Really Says"), leading to his removal from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003.

    He was reelected to the Alabama Supreme Court ten years later, only to be removed again in 2016 for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court's dubious decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case that read into the Constitution a heretofore unwritten and unrecognized right for same-sex couples to marry.
  • Moore was favored by the Bannonite-wing of the Republican Party (if such a thing exists) in the intense Republican primary run-off battle against Senator Luther Strange, who had been appointed to fill the vacant seat after Jeff Sessions was tapped to serve as Attorney General in the Trump administration.  The Republican Establishment--notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but also President Trump--supported Strange, while Moore was cast as the "Trumpian" candidate.
Those last two points raise my eyebrows.  Here's a man who is no stranger to (political) controversy, the consummate culture warrior in an age when every political battle seems to connect to cultural and social values.  Moore's firm religious convictions make him evil in the eyes of progressive Democrats, and embarrassing to well-heeled, Establishment, country-club Republicans.

It's no secret that the Washington Post endorsed Moore's opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.  Then the Post sought out women who claim to have had encounters with Moore.  For a heavily left-leaning publication hoping to humiliate the sitting president and the Republican Party in a deep red state, the temptation to go after a popular but controversial populist figure would have to have been palpable.

The disdain of the Establishment Republicans for Moore (and, by extension, President Trump) could explain the fervor with which they have gone after Moore, calling for him to resign within mere hours of the Post's story breaking.  It's as though McConnell was just waiting for something like this to cross his desk, so he and other RINOs could rush out to denounce Moore and try to twenty-three-skidoo in their preferred candidate.

It seems that Republican leadership has succumbed to the same mania for virtue-signalling that dominates the Left.  I can barely read National Review--formerly one of my favorite publications--because of its consistently noodle-wristed editorializing whenever any populist-oriented Republican speaks out of turn.  Just read David French's off-putting essay on "creepy Christianity" here.  With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Judge Roy Moore in 2011 (Photo Credit:  BibleWizard, extracted from YouTube, accessed 16 November 2017 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Judge_Roy_Moore.jpg)

The worst of the accusations--the groping of the fourteen-year old and the incident in 1991--don't seem to fit the pattern of the stories the other women told the Post.  I'm fully willing to concede that, based on what we're learning now, a young Roy Moore dated some girls in their late teens.  He married a woman fourteen years his junior.  Clearly, he had a taste for younger women, but he hasn't committed adultery, as one of his most vocal critics, Senator John McCain, did, and his relationships, by all accounts, were above-board.  He's remained faithful--as far as we know--to his wife.

"For a heavily left-leaning publication hoping to humiliate the sitting president and the Republican Party in a deep red state, the temptation to go after a popular but controversial populist figure would have to have been palpable."

It may seem unorthodox now--and I am certainly not advocating that thirty-two-year old men start dating sixteen-year olds!--but such age-disparate relationships were more common and socially acceptable forty years ago.  For a fuller examination of this point, I refer you to Frank J. Tipler's piece at American Thinker; read it here.

Regardless, the Left has no logical grounds for objection.  How can a philosophical and political movement that endorses every sexual arrangement imaginable stand against legal, age-disparate, consenting relationships and maintain even a modicum of internal consistency?  Again, this is no endorsement of such relationships, but if you're the party of transgender, bisexual, polyamorous, gay, lesbian, queer, inter-species rights, how can you draw the line here?  You've already run miles past it.

Ultimately, squeamish National Review-and-Establishment types are claiming the moral high ground, arguing that a US Senate seat isn't worth sacrificing principles.  At this point, though, their haste to condemn Moore smacks of moral cowardice and political opportunism.  Are they not going to at least entertain the idea that the man is innocent, or was just a bit unorthodox in his dating habits forty years ago?  Rather than try to scuttle a still-popular candidate before he barely has a chance to defend himself, could not McConnell and other Senate Republicans attempt to reach out to the Moore campaign?  Even if he's not your style of Republican, you could learn to work with him, rather than prome to expel him from the Senate if he wins!

This video from Stefan Molyneux (below; WARNING--NSFW) gets down to brass tacks:  preserving the Republican's razor-thin majority in the Senate is worth showing some political backbone, rather than allowing a partial-birth abortion-supporting Democrat to snag the seat.



This election suggests that Establishment Republicans, for all their talk of decorum and principles, are sometimes little better or different than their Democratic opponents.  They don't want a scrappy culture warrior  And despite some dire poll numbers, the accusations may not stick:  according to RCP polling, Moore was up 3 points over Jones (as of 14 November), though he has fallen to a far more dicey 0.8% lead (as of 16 November, the date this post was written).  That's within the margin of error, though certainly not the double-digit lead Republicans want in Alabama.  More on those poll numbers, and my analysis of them, to come.

If we learn that Moore did indeed assault Leigh Cofrman, than I'll retract my defense of him immediately.  But for now, we have no consistent pattern of bad behavior, and what appears to be some very powerful opponents arrayed against a man who has suffered professionally for his beliefs.  From where I'm sitting, Judge Moore's treatment looks more like persecution than justice.