10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election

The following article by Nathan L. Gonzales was posted on the Roll Call website December 13, 2017:

Supporters of Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election Tuesday night in Birmingham, Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the best parts about covering elections is that there is always a result. After all the prognosticating, projecting, discussing and arguing, there’s a winner. But determining the true meaning of victory and loss can be difficult.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the Alabama Senate special election (at least until the next special election on March 13 in Pennsylvania’s 18th District), but here are some initial postelection thoughts:

This was a historic victory for Doug Jones. Of course, Roy Moore had some unparalleled flaws as a candidate, but Jones overcame a 20-point deficit in partisan performance to win. The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama was Sen. Richard C. Shelby in 1992, and he’s now the state’s senior senator as a Republican. Tonight’s upset will be talked about for years to come. Read More

Whom Do We Thank for Today’s Strong Economy?

The following article by Froma Harrop was posted on the Creators website December 12, 2017:

A president deserves partial credit for a strong economy. The current economic numbers are good, so to the extent that gratitude is due, let us offer it. Thank you, President Obama.

The economic gauges have been improving steadily for the eight years of the current recovery. Barack Obama was president for seven of them. As the first year of the Donald Trump presidency draws to a close, the economy’s growth has continued — but it has not accelerated in a meaningful way.

In the world as presented by the tweetmaster himself, Trump has already delivered on the economy, and the only direction from here on is up, up, up. Savvy investors, however, are asking, “When do we get out?” Read More

A lot of Americans spent 2017 bailing on the Republican Party

The following article by Philip Bump was posted on the Washington Post website December 11, 2017:

Protesters walk during the Women’s March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on Jan. 21. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

For much of 2017, President Trump’s poll numbers have been pretty consistent. In its most recent weekly average, Gallup has Trump at 36 percent approval — within two points of where he has been since July. Trump is where he is because, although Democrats hate him and independents generally view him negatively, he continues to enjoy high approval ratings from Republicans. Eighty-two percent of those in his own party approve of Trump, as of last week. That’s pretty good, but not good enough to keep Trump’s overall approval from being historically low for a modern president.

The problem for Trump may not just be that only Republicans like him, but that there are fewer Republicans than there were a year ago. Read More

Putin is outplaying Trump in the Middle East

The following article by Ishaan Tharoor was posted on the Washington Post website December 12, 2017:

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) talks with reporters on Capitol Hill this month. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to Syria on Monday as part of a whirlwind Middle Eastern tour. Putin, who also stopped in Egypt and Turkey, met leaders, posed for photo-ops, inked a huge energy deal and, all in all, played the part of an influential international statesman. While President Trump has sparked outrage across the region, Putin played the role of sober and dependable partner.

In Cairo, Putin announced the imminent resumption of direct Russian commercial flights to the country for the first time since a plane bombing there in 2015. Discussions with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also circled around the signing of a Russian contract for a $30 billion nuclear energy plant as well as a possible agreement for the Russian air force to use Egyptian bases. Read More

‘How is my daughter a pervert?’: Alabama dad’s plain-spoken rebuke of Roy Moore strikes a nerve

The following article by Eli Rosenberg was posted on the Washington Post website December 11, 2017:

Nathan Mathis holds a picture of his daughter outside a Roy Moore rally in Midland City, AL. Credit:

Perhaps it was the man’s strong but plain-spoken rebuke outside a Roy Moore rally on the campaign’s final night, condemning the Republican candidate’s past comments lambasting homosexuality.

Perhaps it was the admission of the man, a peanut farmer, that he too, had harbored some of the same anti-gay feelings.

Perhaps it was his sign, a photograph of his daughter, a lesbian who, he said, had killed herself when she was 23. Read More

Promising to ‘Make Our Planet Great Again,’ Macron lures 13 U.S. climate scientists to France

The following article by Steven Mufson was posted on the Washington Post website December 11, 2017:

Former secretary generals of the United Nations Kofi Annan, left, and Ban Ki-moon, right, sit across from French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Dec, 11, 2017. (Pool photo by Michel Euler via Reuters)

What initially looked like an impish dig at President Trump by French President Emmanuel Macron over climate policy has turned into a concrete plan.

First, when the Trump administration proposed slashing federal science budgets and then, on June 1, when Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, Macron took to social media to offer (in perfect English) to greet with open arms — and research dollars — American scientists worried about the political climate as well as global warming.

Macron urged worried climate scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to see France as a “second homeland” and to come work there because “we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.” Read More

Roy Moore said taking away the right of women to vote would ‘eliminate many problems’

The following article by Zach Ford was posted on the ThinkProgress website December 11, 2017:

Removing all amendments after the Tenth “would eliminate many problems,” Moore said.

Alabama Republican Roy Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate runoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 2011, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore agreed with a radio host known for promoting conspiracy theories that the United States would be better off if the seventeen constitutional amendments that followed the original Bill of Rights were repealed.

“That would eliminate many problems,” Moore said in audio unearthed by CNN. “You know people don’t understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.”

The amendments following the 10th Amendment served some fairly important functions in the U.S. government: Read More

Don’t Worry, Conservatives: 6 Signs Christmas Is Alive and Well

The following article by Liz Posner was posted on the AlterNet website December 10, 2017:

Credit: Josef Pliva / Shutterstock

The mythical war on Christmas probably ended last year, when bizarrely, Fox News sent its staff a Season’s Greetings holiday card, effectively abandoning its decade-long battle-cry of “Merry Christmas.” After a concession like that, what’s left to debate? Still, we’re not too far removed from this ridiculous right-wing conspiracy to avoid a recap. The debate began in 2005, largely fueled by the conservative shock-jocks of talk radio, and escalated as they made enemies out of everything from Starbucks coffee cups to the Obamas’ annual December card. Depending on your views, saying “Happy Holidays” is either a considerate acknowledgment of American religious diversity or an attack against Christianity. During his campaign, Donald Trump jumped on the bandwagon when he told crowds in Iowa, “I’m a good Christian. If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store…You can leave Happy Holidays at the corner.” Read More

Taxing the rich to help the poor? Here’s what the Bible says

The following article by Mathew Schmalz, Associate Professor of Religion, College of the Holy Cross, was posted on the Conversation website December 10, 2017:

Credit: Associated

The new tax reform bill has led to an intense debate over whether it would help or hurt the poor. Tax reform in general raises critical issues about whether the government should redistribute income and promote equality in the first place.

Jews and Christians look to the Bible for guidance about these questions. And while the Bible is clear about aiding the poor, it does not provide easy answers about taxing the rich. But even so, over the centuries biblical principles have provided an understanding on how to help the needy.

The Hebrew Bible and the poor

The Hebrew Bible has extensive regulations that require the wealthy to set aside for the poor a portion of the crops that they grow. Read More

An Economist Explains: How to Sort Facts From Fictions

The following article by Justin Wolfers was posted on the New York Times website December 8, 2017:

In public debates about economic policy, it can be hard to separate real insights from political posturing. But a few simple rules of thumb can help.

Start with information you can count on. Crucial economic statistics — like the unemployment rate, inflation or gross domestic product — are generally produced free of political influence.

Partly this is because statistical agencies are structured to minimize political interference. The actual numbers crunching is done by career professionals who prize their independence. Read More