September 27, 2017 Last Updated 9:17 am

‘Alabama, being Alabama’; Spain’s PM visits White House five days ahead of Catalan vote

Morning Brief: Puerto Rico crisis grows as few supplies reach those in need, while Miami Herald columnist sees lack of action as political payback by the president

The US Senate was already home to the universally despised Ted Cruz, now homophobe, Ten Commandments advocate Roy Moore is well on his way to joining him there. Moore won the Republican primary last night, defeating the man appointed to the seat when Sen. Jeff Sessions was appointed to head the Department of Justice. Luther Strange was endorsed by Donald Trump, but it made no difference as Moore won handily.

Moore has no problems winning election in Alabama, his problem is keeping his office once won. Moore was elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001, but removed from his position in November 2003 after he installed, then refused to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments. Moore again elected Chief Justice in 2013, but was suspended in 2016 for directing lower court judges to enforce a state law banning same-sex marriage, even though that law had been overturned.

The Washington Post, James Hohmann:

Roy Moore’s victory and Bob Corker’s retirement are fresh indicators of a Senate that’s coming apart

Moore, who brandished a revolver during a rally on the eve of the runoff, has promised that he will never compromise… Moore believes in the supremacy of the Bible over the Constitution, and he compares homosexuality to bestiality. Karl Rove has been calling him this year’s Todd Akin…

…This is part of a bigger trend: There are fewer dealmakers interested in the finer points of governing. John McCain, a giant of the Senate, is battling brain cancer and said this week that his prognosis is not good.

Strange’s loss may prompt additional retirements and will undoubtedly embolden potential primary challengers next year. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has already been in trouble. Now Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, who was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee last cycle, both have fresh cause for concern.

Alabama Media Group, John Archibald:

Roy Moore victory was not a referendum on Trump. It was just Alabama. Being Alabama.

It was Alabama picking Roy Moore for the same reason eight out of 10 Alabama Republicans still approve of the job Donald Trump is doing.

It’s not that they don’t care if he’s a little bit crazy, that he’s far from PC, that he’s laughed at in the urban centers and demonized in the national press. They care. Because that’s exactly what they like about Moore. And Trump.

They are both renegade, anti-status quo, wild-eyed wild cards who could wreck everything America has come to expect from Washington. That’s what Republicans in Alabama want. Or most of them.

The Washington Post: A short history of Roy Moore’s controversial interpretations of the Bible
The Hill: Trump: Roy Moore ‘sounds like a really great guy
Newsweek: Did Trump Break the Law Deleting Tweets Supporting Losing Alabama Senate Candidate?

The GOP’s efforts to repeal the ACA, or Obamacare, have gone down in flames yet again. So, now it will be on to reforming the tax code, which means only one thing, lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Everyone loves tax cuts, but the question is usually how to pay for them. That isn’t really a big problem when Republicans are on office as blowing up the debt really only matters when Democrats are in the majority. Look for something, anything to pass.

But the Congress really should be dealing with right now is Puerto Rico, where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding.

CNN, Nicole Chavez:

Puerto Ricans still waiting for aid a week after Maria’s devastation

A week after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, the US commonwealth’s residents are struggling to survive without basic necessities as federal officials say aid is still on the way…

…The storm hit the US territory last week, killing at least 16 people and knocking down power, communication and water grids across the island. But the recovery efforts there have been markedly different from those in Texas and Florida after recent hurricanes…

…With supplies running out, many of the island’s residents are collecting water from mountain streams.
Harry Torres said the water is all they have for cleaning and drinking until help comes. They’ve heard on the radio that FEMA trucks loaded with supplies have arrived on the island.

“We haven’t seen any,” Torres said.

Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago:

Why isn’t Trump rushing to help Puerto Rico’s U.S. citizens? Political payback

Why isn’t Trump rushing to help Puerto Rico when there’s so much the U.S. could do to alleviate the suffering?

It’s a matter of generalized American indifference, certainly, as the Weather Channel, for example, was more interested in Hurricane Jose — even though it was way farther from the U.S east coast — than Maria’s direct hit on Puerto Rico. There’s the sour grapes about the Trump-managed golf course on the island that went bankrupt.

But, most likely, the malaise is political payback.

Hillary Clinton carried 72 percent of the Puerto Rican vote, according to polls. The Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, largely Democrats, were supposed to be Clinton’s “secret weapon” to carry the state.

We are only five away from when Catalans are scheduled to go to the polls to vote on independence. Whether that vote will occur is the big unknown.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was in Washington DC yesterday to meet with President Trump and one would guess that Rajoy told the president about his plans to stop the vote. But Trump is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he surprised many by seeming to understand that many want to see a vote, even if many of those same people would hope Catalans would vote to stay tied to Spain.

“Nobody knows if they are going to have a vote,” the president said at the press conference following the meeting. “The [Spanish] president would say they are not having a vote but I think that the people would be very much opposed to that. I can say only speaking for myself that I would like to see Spain continue to be united.”

The Spain-Catalonia crisis is beginning to see nefarious characters line up on either side of the issue of Catalan independence, complicating matters even more than they already are.

Spanish fascists see an opportunity to resurrect the kind of government seen under Franco, one where all regional powers are returned to the central government. Julian Assange has come out for Catalunya, seeing in the crisis another opportunity to assist Russia in dividing and weakening Europe.

As we near Sunday, it is obvious that Rajoy’s goal remains to stop the vote, bringing in Spanish police whose job it will be to surround polling places and preventing Catalans from accessing the ballot box. Are there enough police to do that, and how far will they go to stop voters? Broadcasts of frustrated Catalans shouting at police will only reinforce both sides, showing some in Spain that independence supporters are law breakers, and supporters of an independent Catalunya that Spain is no friend of democracy.

Alexandra Steigrad, who covers media for WWD, says her sources are reporting that Hearst will beat out Meredith for the Rodale portfolio. She puts the price at $250 million and considers that high as Rodale revenue was nearer $200 million.

If Hearst does win Rodale at this price it says two things: first, that there are no (or few) profits, and second, that print continues to decline in value.

Ultimately, it is impossible to know whether something is priced right until one looks at both the black book and then later the P&L as absorbed into your own organization. Sadly, many black books are so manipulated that it is hard to know whether the seller is being honest. This is the fault of the M&A agents.

But if I were looking at Rodale I would want to see magazine sales booked through the end of the year. From what I have heard, the third quarter was not a good one for the industry as a wholw, and the fourth quarter worse.

One of the biggest nightmares for any acquirer is to believe one is buying one thing — a solid brand with loyal advertisers — and finding out that they have acquired another thing altogether.

That Meredith would end up not being all that interested in Rodale is not a surprise to me. I still believe they would love to again look at some of Time Inc.’s lifestyle titles, but aren’t going to bail Rich Battista out by overpaying for them.

WWD, Alexandra Steigrad:

Hearst Is Leading Contender to Buy Rodale

According to sources, Hearst outbid Meredith Corp. for the company with an offer understood to be more than $250 million — a high number, as Rodale’s revenue is said to be in the neighborhood of $200 million. The deal, which is expected to close in the coming weeks, has been a speedy one because Rodale’s bank loans are said to be coming due.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Hearst expected to approve Rodale deal

Maria Rodale is the current chairwoman of the company that was started by her grandfather, J. I. Rodale, in 1942 with the launch of Organic Gardening.

The surviving Rodalians are said to be rejoicing that Hearst appears to have beaten Meredith in the bidding war. “Hearst is the only publishing company to actually come to Emmaus [the remote Pennsylvania town Rodale calls home] to try to learn about the corporate culture,” said one source close to the company.

“They spoke with editors and wanted to learn about their process and their vision for their brands… Meredith showed up and was only interested in the bottom line. Didn’t speak to a single editor.”

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