Yearning for Theocracy

I don’t think there can be any real doubt that a sizable fraction of Roy Moore’s supporters in Alabama would embrace enthusiastically a government that lacked the most basic features of our Republic, but enforced as law the tenets of their distorted view of Christianity. Moore himself, as a judicial officer, has flouted the Constitution and laws of the country to advance his religious agenda.

The Real Effect on Corporate Taxes

Goldman Sachs has run the numbers. Over the coming decade, the GOP’s proposed reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would reduce actual corporate taxation by around 3 percent. That’s because there’s a big gap now between the statutory rate and the effective rate. Corporations tend to have top-drawer tax lawyers and accountants. Why haven’t we heard more about this? Politics, I’d say. The GOP wants to get maximum credit for cutting taxes to goose the economy (despite the lack of evidence that putting big bucks in corporate coffers now would do that), and the Democrats want the GOP’s gift to big corporations to look as enormous as possible.

The Women, the Speaker, and the Majority Leader

Are we to understand, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, that you can’t figure out any way to investigate the women’s renewed charges against Trump, given that he continues to call the women liars? You two and your party are so far below the bar of political decency and regard for the Republic at this point that you really ought to consider resigning your positions. Where is it written that Trump, who holds our highest office and should be held to our highest standard, instead gets a pass for behavior that we’ve come to regard as offensive enough to justify immediate and serious consequences?

Alabama’s Wall

There’s a wall in Alabama. Alabamians built it awhile back — centuries ago — without any help from the government in Washington. Inside the wall, Jesus rules. Not, mind you, the Jesus the rest of us of all religions embrace as the author of the Sermon on the Mount. The Alabama Jesus. The Jesus who consecrated slavery and rode with terrorists in the night after Lee lost and blessed Jim Crow and thought the races shouldn’t mix and huddles with his flocks in sanctuaries where straight and white and like of mind are welcome. Some say the wall is coming down. And maybe it is. Maybe I’ll be surprised today when the voting’s done and the numbers show that Roy, the good ole boy, didn’t win. It is a consummation devotedly to be wished. But I’ve lived a life cheek by jowl with the folks behind the wall. The Alabama Jesus will be driving them to the polls.

The Fox Poll

Doug Jones has opened a real lead over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, according to a Fox News poll just out. Put me down as skeptical, in part because of the potential effect of the poll itself. Conservative white Alabamians are among the most clannish people on the planet, and they are already organized into churches. They will be at the voting places in great numbers tomorrow. My money is still on them.

Jesus as a Brand

Roy Moore’s core supporters tend to treat Jesus as a brand rather than as the Son of God, author of the Sermon on the Mount, and protector of the poor and forgotten. They’ve dispensed with his Message, using only his name, slapped on bumpers alongside the National Rifle Association and maybe Semper Fi or MAGA. If Jesus were here today, not just as the claimed “personal friend” of folks who fence themselves off from the world his Father made, but as the compassionate healer described in Matthew, he wouldn’t be pulling the lever for Roy Moore. You can take that to the bank.

Real Tax Reform

Can you describe what for you would be the ideal approach to taxation? My working hypothesis is this: The ideal approach to taxation eliminates all exemptions and deductions, sets rates as low as possible, requires everyone to pay at least something, requires wealthier individuals to bear a larger share of the burden, and makes participating in the system procedurally painless.

The GOP approach to tax reform is hardly reform at all. Its overriding objective is to lower the taxes of its donor class. We won’t get genuine movement of our system of taxation toward my ideal until we kick out the current Congressional leadership, replacing it with pragmatists willing to work across the aisle and pay attention to nonpartisan experts.

See generally TR Reid, A Fine Mess (2017).

Sanitizing the Moore Vote

Reporters who’ve ventured into Alabama to arrive at some sense of why so many people there will vote for Roy Moore, despite his manifold, obvious, and deep flaws, have sent back word that some large fraction of Alabama Republicans just can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, as if this were akin to Alabama fans being unable to bring themselves to root for Auburn. The reporting sanitizes the opposition. The preference for Moore over Jones is so powerful because it is rooted in the desperation of the large white identity clan in the state to hang on to whatever it can of its cultural dominance.

All I Want for Christmas, or ASAP

Look. I know this is a pipe dream, but so what. Majorities of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party should choose a person of true stature and bipartisan support, name that person Speaker of the House, and then impeach and remove Trump and Pence, bringing an end to this poisonous business.