Political MoJo

Here's the Latest Ohio Anti-Abortion Bill On Kasich's Desk

| Thu Feb. 11, 2016 6:00 AM EST

Gov. John Kasich, fresh from his strong showing in New Hampshire last night, is likely to sign an Ohio bill into law that prohibits some state and federal funding from being distributed to facilities that perform and promote what are known as "nontherapuetic abortions"—abortions performed in cases that are not related to rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother—even though the funds are not used to pay for any abortion services. The measure effectively strips Ohio's Planned Parenthood affiliates of $1.3 million in funding.

The new law targets specific Planned Parenthood programs for services such as HIV and STI testing, as well as cancer screenings, rape prevention programs, and sex education for youth in foster care and the juvenile detention system.

The cuts will also affect the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program, a neighborhood outreach effort by Ohio's Planned Parenthood that offers support and education to high-risk African American women in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. These women receive in-home visits throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after giving birth. In these impoverished areas, African American women are twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a low birth weight than the population at large. Ohio ranks 45th nationally for its infant mortality rate, and has one of the highest rates of infant death for African American mothers in the country.

While the law eliminates state funding for Planned Parenthood, it affects less than 7 percent of Planned Parenthood's annual budget for its Ohio affiliate. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio will still receive about $2.4 million from Medicaid reimbursements, which are protected by federal law.

In her testimony opposing the measure, Kelli Arthur Hykes, director of public health policy at Columbus Public Health, pointed to the lack of capacity in local health departments to make up for the shortfall: "For example, in Columbus, we estimate that with additional funding, we would be able to grow our sexual health and women's health services by about 10 percent over the next few years. This would barely put a dent in the anticipated need, especially if there is an immediate loss of funding for Planned Parenthood before a local health department could ramp up services."

Wednesday morning, in a failed effort to halt passage of the legislation, Planned Parenthood supporters delivered valentines to lawmakers, expressing their love for women's health care and asking the lawmakers to vote against the measure. The bill passed the House in a 62-32 vote.

It is possible this measure might lead to a replication of what happened in Texas after Planned Parenthood was defunded there in 2012. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an increase in birth rates among low-income Texas women and a decrease in contraception insurance claims.

Kasich, who gained new prominence in the GOP presidential race after unexpectedly placing second in the New Hampshire primary, has a long, consistent history of fighting reproductive rights in Ohio. In his five years in office, Kasich has signed every anti-abortion bill to cross his desk as governor. When a female voter in New Hampshire asked him about Planned Parenthood, he was clear about his stance: "We're not gonna fund it." His rise in the Republican field prompted an immediate response from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, which circulated what was described as a "five-figure ad buy" showcasing his record on reproductive rights.

"John Kasich has systematically enacted measure after measure to make it more difficult for women to access reproductive care and safe and legal abortion," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "And now, under his leadership, it could get even worse."

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Two Prominent Black Intellectuals Just Delivered More Bad News for Clinton

| Wed Feb. 10, 2016 12:55 PM EST

After a crushing loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton may be having an even worse morning. As her campaign turns to South Carolina, where she hopes to win the primary with the support of African American voters on February 27, two prominent black intellectuals issued forceful statements Wednesday morning that could boost her rival, Bernie Sanders.

"I will be voting for Sen. Sanders," Ta-Nehisi Coates, a correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of the 2015 National Book Award winner Between the World and Me, said Wednesday in an interview on Democracy Now! Coates has written critically of Sanders recently for not embracing reparations for African Americans as part of his economic and social justice platform.

A much stronger rebuke of Clinton came from Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, who blasted the former secretary of state in an essay published Wednesday on the website of The Nation titled "Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote." In it, Alexander argued that the economic and criminal justice policies of the Bill Clinton administration, from the 1994 crime bill to welfare reform in 1996, were devastating to African Americans—and that Hillary Clinton was a force in that administration whose role should be scrutinized and whose current positions on criminal justice and racial equality are not strong enough.

Ironically, perhaps, Alexander cites Coates at the end of the essay in also critiquing Sanders.

This is not an endorsement for Bernie Sanders, who after all voted for the 1994 crime bill. I also tend to agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates that the way the Sanders campaign handled the question of reparations is one of many signs that Bernie doesn't quite get what's at stake in serious dialogues about racial justice. He was wrong to dismiss reparations as "divisive," as though centuries of slavery, segregation, discrimination, ghettoization, and stigmatization aren't worthy of any specific acknowledgement or remedy.

But recognizing that Bernie, like Hillary, has blurred vision when it comes to race is not the same thing as saying their views are equally problematic. Sanders opposed the 1996 welfare-reform law. He also opposed bank deregulation and the Iraq War, both of which Hillary supported, and both of which have proved disastrous. In short, there is such a thing as a lesser evil, and Hillary is not it.

Coates and Alexander are by no means the first black intellectuals to express skepticism of Clinton and endorse Sanders. Princeton University professor Cornel West, for example, has campaigned with Sanders. On Wednesday morning, Sanders traveled to Harlem to have breakfast with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the most prominent black politician in South Carolina, is considering endorsing Clinton. She still has plenty of backing in the black political establishment. But the comments from Coates and Alexander Wednesday are a sign that the degree of support Clinton is counting on from the black community might be slipping away, and that she may not be able to sew up the black vote in South Carolina, as her supporters have long predicted.

Donald Trump Wins GOP's New Hampshire Primary, Networks Predict

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 8:14 PM EST

The networks declared Donald Trump the winner of the New Hampshire GOP primary Tuesday night as soon as the polls had closed at 8 p.m. ET.

 

Trump had been polling ahead in New Hampshire for many months, and on Tuesday he showed he could turn those numbers into votes.

As of 8 p.m., several Republicans were vying for second place behind Trump, including John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

NRA Board Member Ted Nugent Is Having a Very Anti-Semitic Week

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 2:34 PM EST

Ted Nugent is no stranger to mounting outrageous defenses of the gun lobby. But this week, the musician's predictable inflammatory language reached new levels of offensive starting on Monday with the following anti-Semitic image posted to his Facebook page:

 

Know these punks. They hate freedom, they hate good over evil, they would deny us the basic human right to self defense ...

Posted by Ted Nugent on Monday, February 8, 2016

The info-graphic features the images of 12 Jewish-American politicians all paired with the Israeli flag and the banner question, "So who is really behind gun control?" As Media Matters noted, a similar image appeared on the white supremacist website Stormfront in 2014.

The next day, Nugent, who is a board member for both the National Rifle Association and for John Lott's Crime Prevention Research Center, posted another offensive image, this one appearing to compare gun control advocates to Nazis:

 

Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me.

Posted by Ted Nugent on Monday, February 8, 2016

This isn't the first spasm of anti-Semitism and Nazi imagery to come from the NRA or its board members. Back in 2007, the group's official magazine published an image of then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—who is featured in Nugent's social media ranting this week—depicting him as an octopus, a well-known symbol of anti-Semitism. The NRA denied the analogy.

Here's the One Thing Every Candidate in New Hampshire Has in Common

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 1:27 PM EST

New Hampshire is different—so says New Hampshire. But it's unarguably true; no state combines as high a saturation of candidate visits with such a small, tightly concentrated population. (Just try having some breakfast poutine in Manchester.) The effect is that the candidates sometimes seem as if they spend as much time talking about the voters they meet as they do talking to them. As the Republican and Democratic contenders made their final pitch over the last eight days, they used New Hampshirites they've met to make substantive points about heroin addiction, drug prices, and college tuition—or just to have some fun with their audience. (We see you, Chris Christie.) Here's a sampling:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich:

One lady was sitting way up in the bleachers, at the end of the town hall...And she's sitting way up in the stands and she raises her hand and she says, 'I have a 31-year-old daughter, she developed cancer as a young kid, and we don't know where we can put her. She's on prescription drugs because of the pain and so we have to watch that and we don't know exactly where she should be.' And I looked at her and said, 'You're all alone aren't you?' And she said, 'Yeah, I am, I'm all alone.' And I said, 'Why don't you come down here?' And she came down to where I was. I gave her a big hug, and I said, 'You know you're not alone anymore.' And we followed up…

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

In short encounters with people, they sometimes tell you the most personal things…When I was canvassing in Manchester, a young man came up to me and he said, 'I'm supporting you.' I said, 'Thank you.' I said, 'I want to know why.' He said, 'Because you've been talking about addiction.' I said, 'Did you have a personal experience?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm a student athlete, I got injured my senior year in high school. I had to have surgery and I got a lot of pain pills. A lot of opioids. And I got hooked.' He said then when they cut him off, 'I turned to heroin. It was cheap and readily available.' He said, 'I'm two and a half years sober. It's really hard. Every single day, it's really hard.' He said, 'I want a president who thinks about people like me.'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:

It's funny, when you're a US attorney or a governor and you travel out of state from New Jersey, it's amazing the things people wanna ask you. So I had a guy in New Hampshire, he said, 'I need to ask you a question about something.' I said, 'Okay, what do you want to ask me?' He said, 'I wanna ask you about Tony Soprano.' So I said, 'Oh my God…'

Kasich:

A couple nights ago, there's a young woman sitting in the back, we were talking about the issue of heroin and prescription drugs and all the things that we've done, 'cause there's been so many things that we've done. She finally raised her hand back there and she said, 'My daughter's been sober for 11 months,' and everybody was stunned, and there were people out there that were tearing up. And I said to the crowd, I said, 'Do you have any idea what this lady's life is like? Eleven months sober? Well, we don't know what's gonna happen in the 12th month, or the 13th month. And it's a mom that loves her daughter.' Yeah I guess I'm now gonna call this daughter and say, 'You know, mom's counting on you.' Things like that have been happening all the time and I have become convinced that all of us need to slow down.

Christie:

I met a guy this morning who was talking to me about his dad, who's a truck driver. He was at a town hall this morning to ask me a question about his dad. His dad had to be out driving today. One of the things that we talked about was—I know how to drive, right? I know how to work the clutch and shift, I know how to use the steering wheel and pump gas. You don't want me driving an 18-wheeler truck. Believe me, you do not want me driving that truck. Right? It's a different skill set. You've got to have some experience and training. Especially on a day like today. It's raining out, the weather's wet, the roads are tough. You don't want somebody who doesn't know what they're doing behind the wheel of that truck. Even though I know how to drive, it doesn't mean I know how to drive an 18-wheel truck.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:

At a town hall meeting today, someone came—told a story of their father who looked like he was 85. He had, he got a bill eight years later from an operation he had. Eight years it took. They couldn't resolve the dispute and then he was told that he died. Literally, the Veterans Administration sent a death certificate to this guy and it took nine months to clarify the guy [was alive]. I met him. He's voting for me. And he is—likely to be alive.

Failed steak salesman Donald Trump:

I was just up in Manchester, I met with the police officers yesterday. Tremendous people. They love the area, they love the people, they love all the people. They want to do their job. And you're going to have abuse and you're going to have problems, and you've got to solve the problems and you have to weed out the problems. But the police in this country are absolutely amazing people.

Christie:

Let there be no doubt that I want your vote...Earlier in New Hampshire, back last August, I gave a town hall meeting and a gentleman came up to me afterward, he said, 'Governor, I love everything you said, I agree with all your positions, I think you'd be a great leader for our country, and I'm not voting for you.' I said, 'You're not voting for me, what do you mean you're not voting for me?' He said, 'Well I agree with on your positions. I'm not voting for you but I wish you the best of luck.' He looked like he was in his mid '80s, and he started walking away from me. I said, 'Wait, wait, wait, come back here.' I said, 'Come on, tell me what I've got to do. That's fair.' He said, 'Alright—because you didn't ask for my vote.' He said, 'I sat here for two hours, I listened to all your positions, I loved them, I like you, but if you don't ask for my vote, you're not getting my vote. So you're not getting my vote, I'm sorry.'

I looked at him and said, 'Well can I have your vote?' He said, 'Too late.' I said, 'Too late?? It's August, man. You're not voting until February. How can it be too late!' He said, 'Alright, this is what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna come back to one of your town hall meetings later.' He said, 'I'm gonna sit in a place where you can't see me. And I'm gonna see if you remember what I told you. And if you do and you ask for my vote, then I'm gonna reconsider my position. And if you don't, I won't.' I said, 'Alright sir, thank you, I appreciate it.' And we shook hands. And he walked away, took about four or five steps away, and then he stopped and turned back and looked over his shoulder and he said, 'By the way, that's how we do things in New Hampshire, son.'

So I live in mortal fear of this guy.

What It's Like to Wait Tables at Manchester's Most Popular Photo Op

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 10:54 AM EST

I just wanted some poutine. But when I showed up at Manchester's Chez Vachon, I had company. As a waitress explained to a curious diner, "It's Carly Fiorini!"

For the second day in a row, Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, crashed a diner:

She isn't the first candidate to stop by Chez Vachon looking for a few votes and some good photos. So many candidates have stopped by the iconic French-Canadian establishment that it's made life complicated for the people who work there. Donald Trump was there on Sunday. Bill and Hillary Clinton stopped in for breakfast on Monday.

Trump's visit was a "zoo," Jenna Desmarais, the manager, told me.

"They were nice and everything—they just had a really big entourage, really big," she said. "We didn't have any notice and so all of a sudden there’s people coming in the back door of the kitchen, there were people over here, state police shut down the road, they were trying to pat down our customers. It was really uncomfortable—like I had to tell them they couldn't do that, that's not okay."

It made it nearly impossible for everyone else to have breakfast. "I eventually had to find somebody and say, 'Listen I understand you guys are doing your job, but I gotta do mine,' and we couldn't even move. Couldn't even move! So they did. He's like, 'Let them get their pictures and kick everybody out.'"

The Clintons' visit was a lower-key affair, and in Desmarais' view, they were friendlier (although Trump did tip 50 percent). "They were very relaxed because they've been here before," Desmarais sadi. "She’s like, 'I'm definitely eating.'" (They both had veggie omelets; Hillary got a side of sausage. In case you were wondering.) "They seemed more interested in actual people than in just shaking hands."

So far, the only major candidate who hasn't stopped by Chez Vachon this election cycle is her favorite. "I'm actually a fan of Bernie," she said. But she's never met him. "He's the only one who hasn't been there!"

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Bill Clinton Gives New Hampshire a Preview of What Comes Next

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:22 AM EST

On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton showed Bernie Sanders what happens when the big dog gets off the porch.

With Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan, to meet with the mayor about the city’s water crisis, the former president had the state to himself, and he gave the Vermont senator a piece of his mind. He mocked Sanders as unrooted from reality, joking, "When you're making a 'revolution,' you can't be too careful with the facts." Clinton referred to Sanders as "hermetically sealed." He called Bernie's supporters "sexist" and "profane" (a nod to the so-called "Bernie Bro" phenomenon) and reprised the mostly forgotten December scandal over Sanders' campaign accessing Clinton's voter data (for which Sanders apologized). "'I tried to loot information from the other guy's computer and I raised a million dollars out of it,'" Clinton said, offering his guess at what was going through Sanders' mind.

It was the most direct personal attack from either candidate's campaign this election cycle, two days before the primary. And by the next day, Bill Clinton appeared to have shaken the whole thing off. On Monday night in Hudson, joined by his daughter, Chelsea, a smattering of New Hampshire elected officials, Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, and Ted Danson (!), the former president offered a more subdued critique of the Vermont senator. Referring to his wife, he began his remarks by saying, "Sometimes when we're on a stage like this, I wish we weren't married, so I could say what I really want to say—and I don't mean that in a negative way." What he meant was that he had to self-censor his riffs for the good of the campaign. (Not that it has stopped him in the past.)

Instead, he offered an olive branch, or something like it, to the Sanders supporters he'd broadly characterized as "vicious" trolls on Sunday. "A lot of the young millennials think they'll never move out of their parents' house, never get a job that's worth having, never be able to change," Clinton said, before channeling a bit of Sanders' own stump speech. "If they want to start a small business they won't be able to get a loan. I get why a lot of people are mad. I get how frustrating it is, when most of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, and 90 percent of them since I left office have gone to the top 10 percent. I get why people are upset when they hear the president tell the truth—the absolute truth—[that] we are the best-positioned country for the 21st-century, our economy is up over all the other big economies, but 84 percent of the people have not gotten a raise…I get it."

"The question is, what are you gonna do about it?" he continued. "And the one thing I really appreciate about New Hampshire is that here finally the dam broke in the polarization of the campaign and we actually began to be free to discuss who's got the better ideas."

Clinton, though, couldn't help getting taking another shot at Sanders' frequent invocations of the "establishment," suggesting that such a label unnecessarily tarred politicians who had put their careers on the line to vote for Obamacare, such as former Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor. ("Establishment" is a nebulous term, but Pryor, the son of former Arkansas governor and senator David Pryor, surely fits most definitions of it.)

There's an interesting dynamic between Hillary Clinton and Sanders that, if you go to a few events, you can pick up on. When Clinton takes the stage, she's following a group of well-known Democratic politicians or activists—Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen, Lena Dunham, Bubba. When Bernie takes the stage, often enough it's just Bernie. And that's fine; he's leading in New Hampshire, something practically no one saw coming last spring. But in a fight like the one the Democratic primary is careening toward if Sanders wins big on Tuesday, it's good to have someone in your corner who can draw some blood. And Bill Clinton sounds like he's relishing a fight.

Marco Rubio Just Experienced Another Malfunction

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 9:39 PM EST

Marco Rubio is still trying live down the Rubio-bot meme that went viral after he repeated the same talking point four times during Saturday's debate (and was called out on it by Chris Christie). Well, at a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday night, Rubio experienced another malfunction. His face says it all.

Even the Guy With the $100 Million Super-PAC Says Campaign Finance Is Broken

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 2:09 PM EST

You can't avoid campaign finance reform in the run-up to Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. It feels a little weird to type that, given the continuous series of setbacks reformers have suffered on that issue over the last decade, but it's true. Talk to anyone at a Bernie Sanders rally and it's the first thing that comes up; on the Republican side, Donald Trump has made his lack of big donors a centerpiece of his campaign.

Even Jeb Bush, whose $100-million super-PAC, Right to Rise, is blanketing the airwaves here in the Granite State (and has a spin-off dark-money group, Right to Rise Policy Solutions), says something needs to be done. Taking questions at a Nashua Rotary Club on Monday afternoon, Bush told voters that it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and stop the glut of dark money entering the political process:

The ideal thing would be to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that allows effectively unregulated money [for] independent [groups], and regulated money for the campaigns. I would turn that on its head if I could. I think campaigns ought to be personally accountable and responsible for the money they receive. I don't think you need to restrict it—voters will have the ability to say I'm not voting for you because [some company] gave you money. The key is to just have total transparency about the amounts of money and who gives it, and to have it with 48-hour turnaround. That would be the appropriate thing. Then a candidate will be held accountable for whatever comes to the voters through the campaign. Unfortunately the Supreme Court ruling makes that at least temporarily impossible, so it's going to take an amendment to the Constitution.

Now, Jeb hasn't turned into Bernie Sanders. He'd just like unlimited donations that aren't anonymous, and he'd like whatever is disclosed to be disclosed a lot quicker. The subtext here is that while Bush is benefiting from a nonprofit that accepts anonymous unlimited donations, his backers have expressed a lot of frustration with outside groups supporting Jeb's rival, Sen. Marco Rubio. Right to Rise chief Mike Murphy said last fall that Rubio is running a "cynical" campaign fueled by "secret dark money, maybe from one person."

As the Flint Water Crisis Unfolded, Rick Snyder Bought This Luxury-Themed Birthday Cake for His Wife

| Mon Feb. 8, 2016 2:01 PM EST

Last month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued a formal apology for the state's handling of Flint's contaminated water system. The crisis began with his decision to cut costs in the town by rerouting its water from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. The Flint River water contained dangerously high levels of lead and continues to jeopardize the health of children.

The outrage over the public health emergency has only grown louder with the recent discovery of emails showing that state officials were shipping themselves clean water before telling residents that their water was contaminated.

But just a few weeks after begging his state for forgiveness, Snyder apparently thought it was a good idea to throw his wife an extravagant birthday party, replete with this eyesore of a birthday cake:

 
 

@ceebear really outdid herself with the details on this @michaelkors purse. Everything here is edible. #pursecake

A photo posted by Sweet Heather Anne (@sweetheatheranne) on

 

According to MLive.com, the tone-deaf fête was held at an upscale restaurant in Ann Arbor, where cake designer Heather Anne Leavitt delivered the cake without knowing the recipient. "I had no idea, like seriously no idea," Leavitt said. "We delivered it to the West End Grill and put it down and I'm taking photos of the cake. Then Claudia, who was also working on the cake with me, looks up and sees Rick Snyder on all the photos in the room, and so we put two and two together."

Upon learning about the party, local blogger Mark Maynard decided to drop by the restaurant, and discovered the windows were "blacked out." A cake smothered with Tiffany & Co. and Michael Kors logos was a striking contrast to the residents of Flint attempting to get uncontaminated water out of their faucets.