It’s Finally Election Day In Alabama, And Polls Are All Over The Place

Most Show Republican Roy Moore Hanging On To A Slight Lead Over Democrat Doug Jones, But Losing Ground After Regaining Some Last Week

And there are some real outliers. Fox News has the Democrat with a 10 point lead; at the same time the Emerson College poll has Moore leading by 9.

Doug Jones (l), Roy Moore (r)

Here’s a roundup from Real Clear Politics:

In a piece entitled: “What The Hell Is Happening With These Alabama Polls?“, Nate Silver at has a pretty intriguing explanation of the extreme divergence: the Fox News poll is a live caller poll, the Emerson poll is an automated, or “robopoll”. The big difference? “Automated polls are prohibited by law from calling voters on cellphones.” That doesn’t necessarily mean one is more accurate than the other, but polling only people with landlines would tend to skew results older; cellphones would get younger peoples’ input. (In fact, the Fox News poll found Jones leading by 30 points among people reached on their cellphones).

Meanwhile, President Obama dipped his toes into the race, recording a robocall on behalf of Jones. Moore’s got one from Trump. NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley showed up last night at Jones’ election eve rally. If the Democrat ends up pulling off the upset, it might be because he waited until the last weekend to bring in national Democratic leaders and celebrities (although Joe Biden did campaign for him earlier), and thus accusations he’s in the pocket of the “liberal elite” didn’t really stick.


Doug Jones doing some last minute campaigning with Charles Barkley



Moving from qualified acknowledgment that he dated teenage girls when he was a DA in his 30s, to complete denial of the same, Moore’s never been able to move the spotlight off of him. And in the past week or so, he’s been trying to avoid that spotlight by making himself scarce, making few personal appearances and granting few interviews. Believe it or not, one of the few Moore did agree to was with a 12-year old girl interviewer. We are not making this up. It was arranged by people affiliated with Steve Bannon, (to what end we are not sure) and you can watch it here:


The Senate seat that will either go today to a man accused of groping a 14-year old girl, or a dogged former U.S. Attorney, will be up for grabs again in 2020.



Terror Attack In New York Turned Out To Be A Single Individual With A Pipe Bomb, And A Cloudy Motive

The attack created havoc, but thankfully, the only somewhat serious injuries were to the attacker himself. 3 other people had minor scrapes and bruises. That’s apparently because a homemade explosive device did not detonate properly, so it didn’t release any shrapnel. That’s what typically causes the most damage.

There is fuzzy surveillance camera video of the moment of the attack (the figure that appears motionless on the ground is the attacker; he is not dead):

The attack occurred in a busy pedestrian tunnel connecting two subway stations one street away from each other.

The suspected would-be suicide bomber, Akayed Ullah, who is in police custody, is an immigrant from Bangladesh.  He came to the U.S. with the sponsorship of a family member who was already here. (Trump issued a statement largely focused on cutting back on or ending this type of visa). Ullah told police he built the bomb at an electrical shop where he worked.


Suspect Akayed Ullah


Media reports were all over the place as to motive: reporting the attacker told police it was in reaction to everything from attacks on ISIS in Syria, to Trump’s recent decision on Jerusalem, to irritation over Christmas advertisements in the subway.

Despite the failure of the attack, it’s sure to raise questions about the overall security of New York CIty’s massive public transit system. The Guardian points out that bags are routinely screened in many subway systems around the world, including Shanghai, China, which transports nearly 2X the number of passengers as New York.



Trump Administration Says Congress’ Own Accountants Got The Tax Bill Impact All Wrong. Their Proof: Because We Say So!

On the eve of passage of the Senate’s version of tax cuts, the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation came out with a shocking report: even with solid economic growth, the bill would still balloon the federal deficit by $1-trillion. That number briefly froze the bill in its tracks, until Republicans ultimately decided to ignore it.

Now the Treasury Department says those numbers are all wrong anyway. Why? Because they fail to use numbers the White House made up to project economic growth.

If you use those, instead of resulting in a $1-trillion deficit, abracadabra, it’s a $300-billion surplus!

In other words, while Congress assumes annual economic growth of 1.9%, the Treasury Department just dials it up to 2.9%, arguing the additional growth–wait for it–will come from the tax bill paying for itself.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin


Trump’s folks say half the additional growth they’re counting on will come from lower corporate taxes that will result in corporations using that money to hire more people and build new factories. And half will come from similar economic stimulus as the result of tax cuts for pass-through businesses. And then even more will come from cutting regulations, cutting welfare and spending on infrastructure.

Immediately we noticed what’s either a big flaw, or deliberate deception in the Treasury’s numbers: a footnote in the one-page report says they’re relying on the White House’s 2018 budget estimates. Problem with that is the White House was figuring on an even deeper corporate tax cut to 15%, instead of the 20% currently on the table (and it could end up being 22%). So if those are the numbers they’re still using, they’re already way off.

But never mind, because the message is clear and unchanging: the tax bill will pay for itself, because it will pay for itself. In other words, because we said so

Of course, since these are all projections, anyone could end up being right. At the same time, that’s why we have nonpartisan offices within the legislative branch, so they aren’t swayed by the politically motivated assumptions of a President with a penchant for hyperbole. Trump BTW recently told a cabinet meeting (not people at a rally) “I see no reason why we don’t go to 4, 5, even 6%”. Imagine how good the numbers would look then!

Here are the 2 reports side by side. Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation. Trump’s Treasury Department.

Note the difference between the exhaustive economic calculations in the JCT’s report vs. the broad assertions of the Treasury report, with zero specifics to back them up.



Some Other Stories We Found Interesting, In Brief…

Several women who’d previously accused President Trump of sexual misconduct told their stories again, saying they felt the change in atmosphere surrounding such allegations might give them a better shot at bringing about an investigation this time around. Said Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA Contestant, “The environment’s different, let’s try again.” 

One immediate sign they might be onto something: a letter from 56 female Democratic lawmakers to the House Committee on Oversight urging an investigation of Trump.

Another sign they might be onto something: an angry early-morning Tweet today from Trump himself:

One of our favorite political writers, Ryan Lizza, abruptly fired by the New Yorker for “improper sexual conduct”. Lizza fired back that his termination was a “terrible mistake”, arguing “I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a women I dated as somehow inappropriate”. But an attorney representing Lizza’s unnamed accuser said “in no way” was it a “respectful relationship”. Lizza is also a CNN contributor, and they’ve pulled him off the air pending a further investigation. We valued Lizza for his ability to explain complicated issues in a simple way. He’s perhaps best known for a profanity-laced interview that hastened the demise of then-White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci.

You may hear pretty soon that Disney is buying Fox: but don’t get hopeful that’ll mean they’ll own Fox News. They won’t. While the proposed deal would transfer some news properties, Murdoch’s keeping his flagship US news channel, at least for now. BTW, Disney owns ABC.

We found this obit from the BBC fascinating: of an American soldier who defected to North Korea. Charles Jenkins crossed the DMZ when he was 24, in order to avoid combat in Vietnam, figuring he would be returned to the U.S. later in a prisoner exchange. Only that never happened. North Korea kept him, where he was cast in propaganda films as a foreign villain, and forced to marry a woman they’d kidnapped from Japan. He was eventually released, and returned to his wife’s hometown in Japan where he worked as a greeter at a tourist park. The U.S. Army eventually granted him a dishonorable discharge. He was 77.