Are We Sure About Roy Moore, Or Do You Just Hate Him?

The swiftest pile on over Roy Moore has come not from Democrats, but from a bunch of Republicans who have hated his guts for years. And now it’s pay back time. Look, I know I’m going to get set on fire for this piece, but I think it needs to be said.

If the allegations are true, Roy Moore needs to step aside. But how do we know? I have to tell you that this seems like a political miracle for the Democrats with a most convenient timing and most convenient pile on. To listen to most, if Roy Moore is guilty he needs to step aside and if he is innocent he needs to step aside and clear his name. Moore’s opponents have constructed the argument in such a way that the only way forward is for him to get out of the race. That’s awfully convenient for a lot of people who hate him for political reasons.

Part of my character disposition is that when I see the whole herd running in one direction I tend to stop and wonder if I really should and I have reached that point with Roy Moore. I actually reached it a couple of days ago and it has taken me this long to decide it is worth saying anything given the undoubted blowback from a bunch of people whose opinions I really don’t care about (and a few whose opinions I do) when it gets right down to it. I think it is.

I don’t know whether Roy Moore did this or not, but I do know the timing and pile on, right when everybody is finished talking about Virginia, the President is out of town, everyone is talking about sexual abuse, and thus the story can capture maximum attention.

There is no love lost for Roy Moore here. I would have preferred Mo Brooks and only endorsed him in the runoff because Luther Strange is a McConnell flunky and also, I think, corrupt. And I would far rather a Democrat in the Senate than a kid toucher. But how do we know that is true?

Here are some undisputed facts.

Roy Moore has been happily married since 1985. There have been no allegations of infidelity in that time.

Roy Moore ran for Governor of Alabama and these allegations never surfaced when he was battling against people who savor nasty political character assassinations. He stood defiant about the Ten Commandments as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and no one dragged this stuff out when he was in the national spotlight. He stood defiant on gay marriage and again no one brought out any of this stuff. In his first run for Chief Justice, a statewide office, these allegations did not come up. In his run for Governor, a statewide office, these allegations did not come up. In his next run for Chief Justice when he has a big national profile and all sorts of leftwing activists gunning for him, these allegations did not come up.

Only now, 38 years after the fact and while running an aggressive Bannonite/Trumpist campaign the establishment GOP would love to smother in its crib., the Washington Post is fed the information, tracks down the victim, and gets a story that Roy Moore denies. There are 30 people who participate in the story and, though everyone should acknowledge it is creepy, they come up with a narrative that Roy Moore was in his early thirties, back from Vietnam, dated two girls of legal age who say Roy Moore did not force them into a relationship and did not have non-consensual sex with them, and one girl who was fourteen claims he molested her. Again, there are 30 people willing to come forward now who did not do so through multiple high-profile statewide campaigns run by Moore over the years.

I tend to think that when patterns fit we need to take these things seriously. And we have multiple girls who all look about the same and do not know each other and they all have similar stories — except they don’t. We have two women who say they were of legal age and dated an older man, one with parental encouragement. They say nothing untoward happened. Then Moore gets married in 1985 and has been happily married since.

To hear most of you reading this tell it, Moore is a serial child molester. In fact, I dare say Moore is hurt by his cultural, social conservatism because it is a common view among the left and probably even more than a few on the right that anyone who is outspoken about homosexuality is a closet homosexual; anyone outspoken about child abuse is a child abuser; and anyone who lives a reserved public life with a happy marriage is really a closet deviant. So much of the attack on Moore is premised on this leftwing view that everyone culturally conservative is privately a deviant and everyone really knows. The Los Angeles Times is already in on the act with an op-ed claiming sexual abuse is rampant among evangelicals. They all do it, so it must be true! Who can fight back against that? You can’t really, which is both why I’ll be accused of defending Moore by writing this and why the only option for Moore is to withdraw from the race and and hand it to the Democrats.

Maybe Roy Moore did it. But I have to tell you that the pile on and rush to condemn and destroy the man increasingly strikes me as more politically motivated than based on the allegations, which just provide a nice cover.

If Roy Moore did do to a 14 year old as he is accused of, he should quit the race. (and the alleged victim’s prior unwillingness to tell her story does, in my mind, tend to boost her credibility) But how does Roy Moore go about proving his innocence? We’re to demand he drop out of the race and just disappear whether he is innocent or guilty? I know most of you would like that, but then you all hated him to begin with. When a man is piled on top of by the press and his political enemies at the most opportune moment in the most convenient way to capture national attention and shut down the Bannonite rebellion you’re all opposed to, I think we need to slow down and ask if it is fair. And I’m not sure it is.

Roy Moore beating Luther Strange was, for me, all about fighting against Mitch McConnell. Whether Moore goes to the Senate or not, McConnell has been impacted in the way he deserves. But when I see a man who has been the target of both the left and Republican Establishment get attacked in this way and brought low so quickly with few mentioning the man has been happily, loyally married since 1985 and there is just one allegation of something illegal, unproven, unreported, but supposedly widely rumored from all the way back in 1979, I wonder if his enemies are railroading him with a willing press more than his sins are finding him out.

I Almost Fell For The Delusion That We’re Better Christians

I came within a hair’s breadth of falling for a soul-crushing delusion. I nearly decided that our nation is better off embracing a morally-flawed man who purports to side with me on cultural issues like gay marriage and the protection of Christian conscience, than opening my ears to hear.

Then I read Rod Dreher’s parade of horribles that took me from truly lost Ellen Page to morally corrupt but honest Louis C.K., to the heart-rending tales of Diana Nyad and Nancy French. They landed straight in Roy Moore’s lap. I wept. I suggest you read every word, then go back and read all the stories he linked.

The delusion

The Bible says that the human heart is “deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In the next verse, which is rarely quoted, the Lord answers Himself: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Human beings are all carriers of cognitive dissonance. As Erick pointed out, the anti-Christian progressive left is just fine referring to an unborn baby as a non-person fetus until it is killed by a gunman at a church, then it’s a baby. It’s no different with Christians–why would it be?–only the issues change.

 

Jerry Falwell, Jr. is more concerned with credibility in the eyes of voters than in the eyes of God. He sees nothing wrong with this. I almost fell for that also. Then, in tears, I realized my error.

Nobody is perfect in life, and I know if I ever ran for high office, plenty of things about me would or could end up in the public eye that I’d rather not be public. (No, I haven’t molested or propositioned a 14-year-old, but who is the judge of what causes shame or discredit but my own conscience and God’s word? None of us is without sin. Not one.)

We are truly living in Biblical times, and it’s very easy to fall for the delusion that God is not here, or does not exist, or care for us. But really, His own prophets and Word predict this very time, and warns/encourages us on how we are to act. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 for a good description of the “unrighteous deception.”

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

It is just as much a delusion to believe you can be right with God and done such damage to a 14-year-old (and others) many years ago, yet walk pridefully away from the accusations as if they are beneath contempt. Every single argument proffered by Roy Moore’s defenders is exactly as predicted by other victims of abuse.

Let that sink in. Others have come forward (like Nancy French) with their own stories because they recognize themselves in Liegh Corfman, who is now being criticized for the exact reasons she recognized and therefore kept quiet for 38 years.

It’s a delusion to believe that we, as American Christians and evangelicals, are somehow better bred, spiritually-speaking, than others. We are not. As the book of Revelation chapter 2 describes the Laodicean church, we say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Doubtless we can, at the same time, hold up a Godly standard, and violate our own conscience and throw mud on Christ’s sacrifice.

Is it righteousness?

I want to deal with one question right here–the crux of the matter. Is supporting Moore a delusion or a stand for righteousness in the face of political attack?

Let me respond to a theologian I respect, Dr. Michael Brown, who posed some perfectly valid concerns.

Think back to the Ted Cruz campaign for president, when 5 women accused him of having sexual relations with them. These were charges he flatly denied. Do we have any good reason today to believe they were true? (Note also that the National Enquirer was their main source.) Perhaps it is the same with Roy Moore. Perhaps this is nothing more than a politically motivated attack, coming just when he was poised to win the election.

Here is the difference. No women have come forward and said “that’s me” about the Ted Cruz accusations. I don’t mean women who also accuse Cruz of misdeeds. I mean women who heard the accusations against Cruz and said “yes, that’s my story.” The Bible makes it very clear who is witness to sin: a person’s own spirit and mind, and God, are always a witness.

God is the perfect witness, while we humans tend to bend our perceptions to fit our own bias. This is why the Bible calls for multiple witnesses. But the Bible also says that there is no temptation but that what is “common to mankind.” A sensational accusation, in a politically-charged environment, either rings true, or it doesn’t.

In Cruz’s case, it didn’t ring true because others didn’t see themselves in the story. In Clinton’s case–many women have come forward. In Weinstein’s case, I’d guess that most of Hollywood shares the “me too” story. In the Catholic Church, many lives were damaged because the priesthood offered a shield of power and trust over young lives (and also in schools, like Nyad’s coach, or the many instances of female teachers having relations with teenage boys).

In Moore’s case, the “me too” factor is very strong. Christians should not fall for the strong delusion of cognitive dissonance, that a Christian would not have done what Moore did–would not have succumbed to temptation. We should also not believe that Moore will do the right thing and step aside, if the accusations are true, as the White House has maintained.

Face the deception

Conscience demands that we look deeper and face our own deceived souls.

The proof of God’s existence and care for this world is not found in the righteous behavior of good and Godly men. It is found in the reality of sin and the freeing power of the truth, repentance and grace.

I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

I believe that the fruit of Roy Moore’s doings are appearing, based on the very real reactions of others who have been victims of similar actions. I almost fell for the delusion that politics is more important–that our religious freedom is hinged upon electing men like Trump and Moore.

But it’s not. The hardest atheist and most confirmed leftist can break under the tremendous force of grace. They will not break under the yoke of those who pursue delusions and power. Too many Christians have traded the moral authority given us by God for a delusion of cultural power we no longer possess.

As Nancy French concluded:

“I’m not an angel,” Corfman pointed out. Moore, on the other hand, repeatedly claimed to be God’s warrior. However, the scripture he really needed to read wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments he so desperately wanted to hang in the state courthouse. It was Luke 17:2, which warns, “it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

The great thing about 2017 is seeing these victims standing up straight, no longer stumbling. May we also see justice prevail for the predators, this side of heaven.

I nearly fell for the delusion that we can oppose our own hearts and overrule the conscience of mankind. The victims’ hearts speak louder and more clearly, if we have ears to hear.

Roy Moore Is Not Going Anywhere… Neither Will His Voters

As prominent Republicans call for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down amid allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979 when Moore was 32, the flamboyant Republican is refusing to drop out of the race. In a series of tweets Thursday night, Moore vowed to “NEVER GIVE UP the fight!”

“The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced!” Moore said in the first of four tweets. “We are are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”

“The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal –– even inflict physical harm –– if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” Moore said in the second tweet in the series.

“I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!” the third tweet said. “Our nation is at a crossroads right now — both spiritually and politically.”

“Our children and grandchildren’s futures are on the line. So rest assured — I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!” Moore concluded.

The final tweet also contained a statement in which Moore said that the accusations were a “fabrication” and a “completely false and desperate political attack.”

The accusations against Moore are serious and credible enough to end the Senate hopes of a candidate in any era but this one. Republican leaders, including President Trump, have urged Moore to withdraw from the race, but it is Donald Trump’s example that will inspire Moore and his supporters to fight on. After all, it was only last year that Republicans decided that a history of sexual assault was not disqualifying for their presidential nominee.

The Moore campaign can make a credible case that the accusations against Moore are less damning than those against Donald Trump. In Trump’s case, the candidate was caught on tape in 2005 when he was 59. There was no denying the candidate’s own words. In Moore’s case, it is his word against that of his accusers about events almost 40 years ago. Moore says that the accusations are not true and many of his supporters will take him at his word.

There is also a difference in the amount of evidence. At least 16 women came forward against Donald Trump and his supporters considered them all liars in spite of Trump’s admissions on the “Access Hollywood” tape and boasts of sexual conquests in his books. In Moore’s case, the candidate has been happily married for 33 years and does not have a reputation as a ladies man. Even if Moore’s supporters accept the accusations as true, Moore’s track record for the past three decades gives them room to write off the incidents as youthful indiscretions that are not representative of his current character.

Finally, the argument could by made that voters looked the other way with Donald Trump because the possibility that Hillary Clinton would become president was simply to horrible to accept. A similar argument can be made that preserving the Republican majority in the Senate so vital that it is necessary to overlook Moore’s actions of four decades ago.

Republicans have been unable to advance their agenda already and a loss of the Alabama seat would cut the GOP majority to a single vote. This would effectively end any chance of enacting conservative reforms. It would also make it easier for Democrats to win control of the Senate outright next year.

For all these reasons, Roy Moore will not leave the race and the vast majority of Republicans will stand by him. After elevating an admitted philanderer and “p-ssy grabber” to the head of the party of family values and the country as a whole, it will be easy to stand by someone like Moore. After compromising your principles once, it is very easy to do it again.

For a Republican Party that now seems to put politics over character and values, the descent has been swift. A year ago the party found a way to excuse Donald Trump’s behavior as “locker room talk” and private matters between consenting adults. Now many Republicans are well on the way to rationalizing child molestation.

 

 

 

I Don’t Blame Roy Moore Voters For Sticking With Him

Up front, here is what I think Roy Moore should do. If he continues to deny the allegations, he should hold a press conference and tell people he wants to clear his name. In the interests of helping the President and avoiding a Democrat, he will continue to campaign for the office and then, if elected, resign so that the Governor can appoint his replacement so that he might focus on clearing his name. He can call this move the Corzine gambit.

Now here’s a post to make everyone mad. I really don’t blame Roy Moore’s voters for sticking with him and I know they are going to come under withering attacks for standing by their man. They don’t deserve it. Clearly a lot of people would prefer to avoid dealing with how we got to this point of moral decay among conservatives who used to really believe character counted.

Well, just this past Sunday a militant atheist shot up a church in Texas, killing about half the congregation. One of those killed was still in the womb, but the baby gets counted as a person to boost the arguments for gun control, otherwise the baby would just be a fetus.

And many on the left on social media attacked the congregants of the church. Some said they got what they deserved. Meanwhile, the media ran with stories of chainsaws attached to machine guns distorting all the basic facts out of willful ignorance.

A week before, a Muslim ran over a bunch of people in New York while Democrats were patting themselves on the back for showing Trump voters running over muslim kids on television.

A few weeks before that, a CBS lawyer lost her job for mocking the dead in Las Vegas that they deserved what they got after a mass shooting, the motive behind which is still unknown.

While all of this is going on, a cake baker is headed to the Supreme Court because he had the audacity to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but he would not do all the decorations the gay couple wanted. So the baker got compared to a Nazi. He will join a florist at the Court who is being put out of business because despite having gay clients, she won’t provide flowers for gay weddings.

People are being harassed for refusing to cheer on men with mental illness who think they are women and the left thinks people in Alabama should have to let men use the ladies’ bathroom. The left is openly counting the days before churches can have their tax exempt status revoked for not embracing gay marriage. Christian private schools will be the first targets. The media on a near weekly basis runs stories that paint culturally conservative voters in a negative light, often distorting basic facts for the sake of narrative.

So you’ll have to excuse Trump voters and Moore voters for thinking the left in this country with a complicit media is out to get them.

Along comes a story about Roy Moore, a happily married man, that involves facts from 30 to 40 years ago and many of the same people who’ve spent a long time covering for people like Harvey Weinstein and are still covering for Hollywood pedophiles are piling on the man. The GOP, who hates cultural conservatives anyway, was quick to pile on.

I don’t blame the Roy Moore voters for thinking people are out to get them because people really are out to get them.

Moore is a fighter for these people. He purports to share their values. And all the people his voters hate happen to hate Roy Moore. They talk about innocence until proven guilty, but they’re ready to run Moore out of town. I don’t blame Moore’s voters, but I do have to blame those who are trying to defend Moore and dismiss the accusations or attack the women coming forward. Conservatism keeps being degraded by a bunch of people who talk Jesus and behave like Satan.

Y’all, I think the facts of the case as presented by the Washington Post are pretty damning. If I were a voter in Alabama, I would probably have to sit it out. But there are a lot of voters who are really damn tired of the culture war and they just want to be left alone. But the left won’t leave them alone. They’re coming for their churches’ tax exempt status. They are coming to force them to either get on board the secular progressive agenda or go into hiding. They are coming for their kids and their guns as well.

So now you are telling them they are really awful, bad people if they stick with Roy Moore instead of allowing into office a man who will side with the people who are out to get them?

I suspect they’ll take your aspersions and hate. They already think you hate them. And because the other side will accept nothing less than the destruction of their way of life, even if they want to walk away from Roy Moore they can’t. Because the other side is bent on their destruction and they think, rightly, that Roy Moore is the only one standing with them.

So we have the luxury of turning our nose up at it. And we can say character counts. But they believe character and morals count too and while they might find Moore’s actions reprehensible, they know the other side won’t be happy until their kids are brainwashed into thinking boys can be girls, a baby’s brains can be harvested with taxpayer subsides, and guns should be made extinct.

You really want to make them choose? You helped cause an existential crisis where they have every good reason to believe their way of life and their values are at stake and you want them to surrender? I can’t blame them for refusing even if I disagree. If you’re demanding the other side surrender in the culture war, don’t be surprised when they’re willing to stand with people they’d never otherwise consider in the name of protecting themselves and their families.

Roy Moore Was Not Kicked Out For Disobeying The Law

As an Alabama voter, I am seeing a lot of people claiming that Roy Moore doesn’t “respect the law” or that he disobeyed the Constitution somehow. Ironically, many of the people making these claims are so-called “conservatives” or “republicans” that are simply parroting left-wing talking points. However, regardless of any propaganda, these facts are blatantly false.

Roy Moore did not get “kicked out of office for violating the law.” He just didn’t. That’s not even close to being true.

Want to know the truth? Roy Moore was kicked out of office by the Judicial Inquiry Commission – a mostly unelected board of attorneys that was appointed by now-convicted criminals. These are primarily business lobby-backed appointments. They issued their ruling in response to a complaint by a far-left activist group, the SPLC. If you’re a person that complains about money in politics, you need to realize that the Roy Moore decision was 100% driven by big money interests – special interest PACs, big businesses, and lobbyists took him down, not a heroic group of respectable judges.

Why was he removed from office in the first place, though? Well, supposedly, it’s because he defied the Supreme Court by ordering Probate Judges to not issue gay marriage licenses. However, that is a false narrative.

The Supreme Court ruling (Obergfell v. Hodges) overturned several state laws that were being challenged. However, no Alabama law was being challenged in the Obergfell case. Therefore, Alabama law does currently still prohibit Probate Judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Did Obergfell open the door for our law to be challenged? Yes. Has it been overturned? No. Therefore, Roy Moore was technically correct, and therefore, there were no legal grounds for removing him as Chief Justice. He had an obligation to enforce the law, and he upheld that obligation.

Let’s face it. When it comes to Roy Moore, Liberals aren’t really concerned with the “supremacy clause,” or the supposed universal authority of the Federal Government over state government. If Roy Moore was a Democrat that had defied the federal government on one of their pet issues, they’d be hailing him as a hero.

If Roy Moore had ordered judges to stop punishing drug offenders while elected as a Democrat, liberals would be throwing him a parade. If the sides of the Obergfell ruling were reversed, they’d be doing the same. This pretense that it’s about a respect for federal law is just a smokescreen. They hate conservative values. That’s all this is. I respect their right to disagree. But that’s what this is, a political disagreement. Not a legal one. if he’d done what he did for the liberals, they’d be defending him as energetically as they are now attacking him. Their anger is about opposing values, not legal procedure.

Now, before you accuse me of looking at this from a biased perspective – I actually support legalizing gay marriage. Or, more accurately, I support removing government from the marriage process entirely. It is not the role of government to regulate the personal or family lives of its citizens. Personally, I believe that marriage is a wholly religious institution – a lifelong covenant between two people and God. Other people have their own definition of marriage, and I have no intention of telling them that they can’t practice their beliefs. That’s the beautiful thing about living in America, all religions and belief systems are (or should be) respected. I agree with the Obergfell decision that those state laws should have been overturned. It’s safe to say that I disagree with Roy Moore on the marriage issue from both a theological and political perspective. However, my personal views on this matter have no bearing on the actual legal facts of the case.

Roy Moore (agree with him or not) followed the law, and was punished for doing so. Not only that, he was punished by everyone that conservatives and libertarians claim to hate – the SPLC, special interest PACs, corrupt politicians, and big corporate lobbyists. Hate him if you want, but at least get your facts straight.

Now, can someone in Colbert County please bring me a Roy Moore yard sign? My old one was damaged.

Trey Edwards is a digital media consultant in Alabama that has managed over 40 winning non-incumbent Republican campaigns. 

BREAKING: Poll Shows Roy Moore Tied in Alabama Senate Race

A surprising new poll shows that Republican Roy Moore is tied with Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race. Moore handily defeated incumbent Senator Luther Strange in the Republican primary last month.

In the new poll by Fox News, both Moore and Jones had the support of 42 percent of registered voters. The poll showed that only 53 percent of respondents were extremely or very interested in the race. Of those voters, Jones had a slight led of 46-45 percent.

Previous polling had shown Moore with a lead over Jones. Two polls taken at the end of September showed Moore with a lead of eight and five points respectively. Those polls sampled likely voters, which are historically more accurate than polls of registered voters.

The new poll shows deep divisions in the Republican Party. Forty-two percent of Moore’s supporters have reservations about the GOP candidate, who has a history of controversial behavior and comments. Only 28 percent of Jones voters have reservations.

Moore’s history, including two unfinished terms on the state Supreme Court, explains why a third a Jones voters support the Democrat candidate because they believe that Moore is too extreme. Twenty-one percent say that they are voting against Moore as opposed to voting for Jones.

While campaigning for Luther Strange, President Trump worried that Moore might have problems in the general election. Two months before Election Day, that seems to be a real danger. Thirty-nine percent say that Moore is “out of step” with Alabama compared to 29 percent who say that Jones is too liberal.

In deep red Alabama, the electorate still favors the Republican, but the new poll should be alarming to GOP strategists. Expect both parties to pour money into the state to compete for the 11 percent of voters who are still undecided.

 

 

 

 

 

Cruz: Tax Reform May Be Delayed Until Next Year

 

After the disappointment on Obamacare, Republicans looked to tax reform to score an elusive legislative victory. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) set a goal for passing the tax reform bill by the end of the year, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is casting doubt on that timetable.

On CNBC, Cruz said, “I believe that we will get tax reform done,” but that it will be “late this year or early next year.”

There are big obstacles in the way. FiveThirtyEight explained that there was one major division among Republicans on healthcare, while there are at least three different GOP divisions on tax reform. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been under attack by President Trump in recent weeks, leads a faction of deficit hawks who insist that tax reform not add to the deficit.

There is the question of whether to make the tax cuts permanent or temporary. Under reconciliation rules, the bill cannot increase the deficit after 10 years. One way of preventing the CBO from scoring the bill as increasing the deficit is to make the cuts temporary. Temporary tax cuts can lead to a fiscal cliff like the one Congress faced under President Obama.

A third question is who gets the tax cuts. Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have indicated that the current plan does not cut taxes enough on the middle class. In particular, Paul said that the bill “should not be a tax hike on anyone.” But if tax cuts are increased for one group, the questions of deficit scoring and whether they are to be permanent are raised once again.

The question of whether to end the federal tax deduction for state income taxes has been particularly thorny. Cruz said, “We can end that deduction if we’re lowering the tax rate enough that even people in those blue states are seeing a net tax reduction.”

“I do think virtually every Republican wants to get to yes,” Cruz said, but noted that the slim Republican majority in the Senate made passing any major bill difficult.

“We have an excruciatingly narrow majority, 52 Republicans” Cruz said. “That means if any three Republicans jump ship, we’re toast. Wrangling together 50 out of 52 Republicans with this very diverse, fractious conference is not easy.”

There are already four Republicans who have been identified as potential mavericks on the bill. Bob Corker, who is concerned about the effect on the deficit, as well as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and perennial swing votes Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will be senators to watch.

The new Alabama senator may present a problem as well. Even if Republican Roy Moore wins the senate race there, Moore is an avowed opponent of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and is unlikely to be a reliable vote. Moore’s position on the tax bill is uncertain, but he had opposed the Republican Obamacare reform bill.

Passing tax reform may be critical for Republicans in the 2018 midterms. Cruz acknowledged that “people are frustrated” because the Republican congressional majority is “not getting the job done.” With former White House strategist Steve Bannon leading a right-wing revolt against incumbent Republican senators, failure to win a victory on taxes could have dire consequences for the party.

Roy Moore Will Be Another GOP Maverick – If He Can Win

Judge Roy Moore cruised to victory in the Alabama Republican primary runoff yesterday. Moore’s victory came despite heavy support by President Trump and Republican leaders in Washington for incumbent Luther Strange. In fact, some of the Washington endorsements for Strange probably did more to help Roy Moore than their intended recipient.

President Trump’s endorsement of Luther Strange had a limited effect. Polling in late August showed Roy Moore with 51 percent and 32 percent for Strange with 17 percent undecided. Moore won the actual vote 55-45 percent, which seems to indicate that a majority of undecided voters broke for Strange.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Few have been as strange as the alliance between Donald Trump and Luther Strange, who was singled out as a “swamp creature” by many conservatives. Strange was hobbled from the start by opponents who tied him to two recent corruption scandals in Alabama. Strange was among the many Alabama politicians, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who took money from a company that was later charged with bribing a state legislator in connection with an EPA cleanup. He was also tainted by his appointment to the Senate by Gov. Robert Bentley at the same time that Strange, who was then Alabama’s attorney general, was investigating the governor for corruption in a scandal that eventually led to his impeachment.

In spite of appeals by the president and prominent Republicans, most conservative groups rallied behind Moore, who ran primarily against Mitch McConnell, who had also endorsed Strange. The August poll by JMC Analytics found that 45 percent said that McConnell’s endorsement made them less likely to vote for Strange. Forty-six percent said it made no difference.

The antipathy to the Republican leadership comes at an inopportune time. The Republicans have just suffered an embarrassing defeat on Obamacare thanks to a small number of Republican senators who deserted the party to vote against the Republican reform bill. Roy Moore has strong conservative and Christian credentials, but he will not be a senator who can be counted on to stand with the party on votes for bills like Graham-Cassidy.

Moore has a reputation as a maverick and a rebel. Moore was twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court and was twice removed. In 2003, a panel ruled that Moore had violated the state ethics code and removed him from the bench after he ignored a federal court order instructing him to remove a Ten Commandments monument. In 2015, Moore was suspended again for ordering state judges to ignore the Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. While Moore has remained true to his principles, his actions have not been effective at advancing his agenda.

President Trump, at this weekend rally for Luther Strange, made two key arguments for Strange. The first was that Strange was a loyal legislator who had been a reliable vote for the Trump agenda. Moore overcame this objection by running as a supporter of the Trump agenda, even if he might be less of a sure vote than Luther Strange. “Don’t let anybody in the press think that because he [Trump] supported my opponent that I do not support him,” Moore said in the New York Times after his victory.

Trump’s second point was that Moore might not be electable in the general election. He may have a point there. The eccentric former judge has a history of controversial remarks and even pulled out a pistol at a campaign rally the day before the election. The possibility of Moore pulling “a Todd Akin” and handing to the election to the Democrats with an outlandish comment is a real possibility.

In the crimson state of Alabama, as the Republican candidate, the race is Moore’s to lose. Whether Moore wins or loses, the Republican problems in the Senate will not be resolved and it will still be difficult to advance the Republican agenda. The real loser is the traditional Republican establishment whose endorsements were rejected by voters even as the candidates fought over who was President Trump’s best ally.