Political MoJo

Donald Trump Is Running For President and It's Going to Be So Hilarious

| Tue Jun. 16, 2015 11:46 AM EDT

Here's his announcement:

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Jeb Bush Named His Dog After His Brother (No, Not That One)

| Tue Jun. 16, 2015 6:05 AM EDT
Marvin the dog
From a 1998 Jeb Bush Campaign Ad C-Span

When it comes to naming new family members, the Bush dynasty isn't particularly creative. There are at least three Georges, two Barbaras, and a couple of Prescotts in the family. Apparently this sort of limited imagination also applies to John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (father to a George Prescott and another John Ellis Jr.). When he was given a black Labrador a year before winning his first election as Florida governor, in 1998, Jeb opted to call the dog Marvin, after his least-famous little brother. (Perhaps this was revenge for Marvin's role in ensuring there is only one surviving photo from Jeb's 1974 wedding. As the official wedding photographer, Marvin accidentally loaded his camera with film previously used at a Frank Zappa concert.)

Marvin the dog made several appearances in Bush campaign ads, and at one point even had his own chat room (remember those?) on Jeb's campaign website when he was running for governor. But Marvin wasn't always as cooperative as the Bush children, who also featured prominently. As Bush explained in a recent Washington Post story about his former campaign advisor Mike Murphy:

"We were doing a family bio ad, the family was having a picnic, along with our beloved dog Marvin. Marvin didn’t follow the script and jumped on the table and destroyed the neatly staged picnic." Bush said Murphy "turned lemons into lemonade" and created "a real and funny" spot, "one of the better ads of its kind I've seen."

Here's the full ad:

Poor Marvin isn't around for any cameos in Jeb's presidential campaign. He expired in 2006 at the age of 11, just two days before Bush signed into law "doggie dining" legislation, allowing canines in Florida restaurants. "Now, man's best friend can enjoy Florida's fine dining too," Bush said at the time. Judging from his picnic performance, Marvin might have relished the opportunity more than most.

Contributing GIFing by AJ Vicens

Chill Out, GOP: Medical Marijuana Laws Won't Turn America's Teens Into Stoners

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 9:05 PM EDT

Concerned parents and conservative lawmakers, fear not: Laws legalizing the use of medical marijuana won't be your child's gateway into drug use, according to new research published on Monday.

By now, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. The peer-reviewed study in the Lancet Psychiatry found that legalization of medical marijuana at the state level does not increase recreational pot use by teens.

Eight researchers, headed by Dr. Deborah Hasin, an epidemiology professor at Columbia medical school, analyzed the marijuana use of more than 1 million kids. The random sample was selected from respondents to Monitoring the Future, a national census that has surveyed thousands of teens about their behaviors and values annually for the past 24 years.

The team compared pot use by teens before and after their states legalized medical marijuana and did not find a significant change in use pre- versus post-legalization. Adolescent use in states where medical marijuana is legal is higher, but the study's authors point out that this disparity can be deceiving: The same states already had higher adolescent marijuana use before legislation was passed. The fact that teenage pot-smoking stayed consistent after legalization suggests that there is no causal relationship between legal medical marijuana and teens lighting up, write the authors. If anything, fewer kids are using weed: Last year, a different Monitoring the Future study reported that teen marijuana use has been trending downward since 2014. 

The Lancet study also found that after states made medical marijuana legal, there was a two percent decrease in pot use among eighth graders. This might be because "eighth graders had more modifiable attitudes and beliefs about marijuana, and were less likely to view marijuana as recreational after states authorized its use for medical purposes."

But as attitudes and laws regarding marijuana continue to evolve, so might adolescent use, the authors write, encouraging researchers to conduct additional studies over time. 

In 2015, laws to legalize medical marijuana use have failed in 17 states. So, this debate is far from over, but if this research is any indication, it may be time to put the youth corruption angle to rest.

Document Reveals CIA May Have Violated Its Own Policy Against Human Experimentation

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 6:22 PM EDT

The CIA's use of waterboarding and other forms of torture in recent years may have violated one of the intelligence agency's own rules regarding human experimentation, according to a recently declassified CIA document.

Document AR 2-2, titled "Law and policy governing the conduct of intelligence activities," was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union and published on Monday by the Guardian. Dating back to 1987, but still in effect today, the document prohibits the CIA from conducting research on human subjects without those subjects' informed consent. Physicians and human-rights experts interviewed by the Guardian said the CIA may have crossed the line into human experimentation by requiring doctors to be present during the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" of its torture program, in part to ensure that detainees had the physical resiliency to withstand further abuse. It seems highly unlikely that detainees who were subjected to waterboarding, rectal feeding, and mock executions consented to participate in those procedures.

According to the ACLU, other sections of the document govern CIA activities including surveillance of Americans, contracts with academic institutions, and relations with the media. For a full analysis, check out the Guardian's report, or read the document below (see page 18 for details on human experimentation). And if you can't quite remember the shocking details of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report last December on CIA torture, watch a refresher here, courtesy of John Oliver and Helen Mirren.

Donald Trump Is Making a "Major" Announcement Tomorrow. Here Are 6 Possibilities.

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 1:17 PM EDT

Tomorrow will be a really big day for America, or so real estate mogul and reality TV host Donald Trump has declared. He promises he will issue a "major" announcement on Tuesday at Manhattan's Trump Tower. It's anyone's guess what the outspoken tycoon will say, but here are some possibilities.

A Celebrity Apprentice spin-off: Following the close of the show's seventh season, with Leeza Gibbons edging out Geraldo Rivera for the cash prize, the series is becoming stale and needs to up the ante. Perhaps he's announcing a merger with ABC's similarly entrepreneurial show, Shark Tank, to create a show in which celebrity entrepreneurs are dropped into a tank of live sharks. If their pitches are worthy of moving to the next round, great! If not, well... And "you're food" is a much better catch phrase than "you're fired."

Trump is filing for bankruptcy...again: If you could win an award for filing for corporate bankruptcy, Trump would have a ring for every finger on his check-signing hand. Since 1991, Trump's corporations have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy four times. Tomorrow's announcement could prove the fifth time is the charm!

He is filing for divorce...again: This would mean that the fellow who is no fan of gay marriage is going for a three-peat.

He found President Barack Obama's Kenyan birth certificate: Bust out the "Mission Accomplished" banners for his birther crusade. 

He is resigning from Twitter: Trump has found a natural outlet for his bombast on Twitter. Some might say he over utilizes the platform. But the tweets in his feed live in perpetuity for all of us admire from afar—except for the ones he has to delete. Here are a few of his best...or worst:

He may or may not be running for president. Compared to the other possibilities, this will be a let-down, either way.

The Supreme Court Just Killed One of the Country's Most Extreme Anti-Abortion Laws

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 12:56 PM EDT

The Supreme Court killed one of the nation's most extreme anti-abortion laws on Monday.

The justices declined to hear a case concerning the constitutionality of a North Carolina law that required women seeking an abortion to submit to a mandatory ultrasound. The law also compelled physicians to show women the images and describe the fetus in detail. Unlike similar laws in Texas, Wisconsin, and Louisiana that include some exceptions for victims of rape or incest, the North Carolina measure made no exceptions for rape, incest, health risks to the mother, or severe abnormalities in the fetus.

Most abortion cases center on the rights of pregnant women, but this one hinged on doctors' First Amendment right to free speech—or in this case, their lack of freedom to choose what to tell their patients. The North Carolina law, passed in 2011 over the veto of then-Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, was struck down by a federal district court in North Carolina. The Fourth Circuit agreed that the "compelled speech provision" was unconstitutional. By refusing to take the case, the Supreme Court has assured that the law remains dead.

Several states have passed pre-abortion ultrasound requirements in recent years. The bills became a source of major controversy in 2012 when Virginia legislators proposed a law that would have mandated invasive transvaginal ultrasounds for some women. Overall, 10 states currently require abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and offer the woman the option of seeing the image, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks state-level abortion policies. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which litigates against restrictive abortion laws, indicated Monday it is considering challenges to similar laws "in light of today’s order out of the Supreme Court which allowed strong lower court rulings to stand."

Though the justices took a pass this time, don't expect the Supreme Court to ignore every abortion law that comes their way. Experts believe that the biggest abortion case in decades is likely right around the corner—just in time for the 2016 elections.

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The Colorado Supreme Court Just Ruled You Can Get Fired For Smoking Pot Even When You're Not At Work

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 12:51 PM EDT

The Colorado Supreme Court just ruled that employees can be fired for smoking marijuana even when they aren't at work, according to the Denver Post.

The 6-0 decision comes nine months after the state's highest court heard oral arguments in Brandon Coats' case against Dish Network. Coats, who had a medical marijuana card and consumed pot off-duty to control muscle spasms, was fired in 2010.

Coats challenged Dish and its company policy, claiming that his use was legal under state law. The firing was upheld in both trial court and the Colorado Court of Appeals.

When the case went to the Colorado Supreme Court, legal observers said the case could have significant implications for employers across the state.

They also noted that the ruling could be precedent-setting as Colorado and other states wrangle with adapting laws to a nascent industry that is illegal under federal law.

So here's the deal: Marijuana is legal in Colorado but it's illegal under federal law. Even though the DOJ has not prosecuted recreational users, businesses are still allowed to fire people for unlawful behavior.

tl;dr:

Here's the full ruling:

 

 

Charts: Here’s How Much We’re Spending on the War Against ISIS

| Sun Jun. 14, 2015 6:05 AM EDT

As the White House considers opening operating bases in Iraq and deploying troops to bolster support for Iraqi forces against ISIS, including one in ISIS-held territory, the cost of airstrikes in the region continues its steady rise.

The Department of Defense has spent more than $2.7 billion—some $9 million per day—since the United States began operations against the so-called Islamic State last August. To put that in perspective, the DOD is on pace to spend a little more than $14 million per day to combat ISIS in fiscal year 2015. That's minuscule compared to the roughly $187 million the Defense Department is still spending on the Iraq War each day.

The result? More than 6,200 targets damaged or destroyed in the course of nine months, according to the DOD. Roughly two-thirds of that spending, or a little more than $1.8 billion, came from the Air Force, with air operations costing $5 million per day. 

The newly released DOD data comes as the House passed a $579 billion defense spending bill for the coming fiscal year. Here's the breakdown:

 

Hillary Clinton Officially Launches Campaign for White House

| Sat Jun. 13, 2015 1:45 PM EDT

There was the first, inevitable video announcement. Then, the media-phobic "Scooby" van tour through early primary states. Now, speaking today in front of a bright New York skyline, on an island in the middle of one of the most polluted waterways in America, Clinton officially launched her campaign for presidency.

The former Secretary of State hit every major talking point of her highly publicized campaign so far. Seriously, nothing was left out of this 45-minute populist, progressive speech outlining her campaign's policies: mass incarceration reform, LGBT equality, climate change and alternative energy, income inequality, a constitutional amendment to overhaul Citizens United, paid family leave, immigration, universal pre-K... even broadband.

"You brought our country back, now it's time, your time, to secure the gains and move ahead—and you know what? America can't succeed unless you succeed. That is why I am running for president of the United States."

The speech on Roosevelt Island, opposite the UN building, would have been difficult to give in the heat; once the clouds cleared, the stage would have certainly felt hotter than 81 degrees—maybe that's one reason the crowd appeared at times somewhat muted. The luckiest supporters crowded under the European Littleleaf Linden trees along the waterfront, which park staff assured us were low allergenic. Nonetheless, the biggest applause lines came when Clinton spoke about marriage equality and women's rights. While the "overflow" area—where a large screen had been set up seemingly in the hopes of bigger crowds—remained nearly empty, the live TV footage would have looked pretty great: billowing American flags, and soaring in the distance, One World Trade, once known as the Freedom Tower.

Danny Jestakom (L) and Philip Fry. James West

The diversity of the supporters here today represents the Obama coalition that Clinton surely hopes to recapture. Valerie Wakin, 29, from Brooklyn, liked that Clinton was focusing on pay equality as a campaign issue, and also felt that Clinton had broad appeal: "I don't think she just supports African American rights, she supports everyone," she said. Ahmad Nelson, 28, from Pittsburgh admitted that while "she does have some baggage" from a long life in the public eye, he will vote for Clinton to help raise the minimum wage across the country.

Valerie Wakin, 29, from Brooklyn. James West

Noticeable in the crowd was a large cohort wearing the rainbow flag version of Hillary's much-derided logo. Danny Jestakom, 26 and Philip Fry, 24, who have been a couple for about a year, said Clinton's embrace marriage equality appealed to them, as did her attempts to let voters learn more about her personal story—evident in today's speech, which drew heavily on her biography. "She seems like a real woman, a real person," Fry said.

"I may not be the youngest candidate in this race," Hillary joked, "but I'll be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States."

China's Huge Hack of the US Government Is Only Getting Worse

| Fri Jun. 12, 2015 5:47 PM EDT

Whenever someone wants a security clearance, the US government first asks a seemingly endless series of questions. Some of them are predictable like the applicant's current address and social security number. Others are far more intimate like histories of drug use or psychiatric treatment. Now China likely has that information.

The AP reported on Friday that hackers believed to be working with China targeted the Office of Personnel Management and stole the forms used to gather information in those background investigations. This personal information could be used by a foreign intelligence service to blackmail someone with access to government secrets. Having that information in the hands of the Chinese government potentially puts some of the nation's military and intelligence workers at serious risk.

Evan Lesser, the managing director of ClearanceJobs.com, a job site for positions requiring a security clearance, told the AP that "you don’t need these records to blackmail or exploit someone, but it would sure make the job easier."

While it's not yet known how many people are affected by the breach, government officials who spoke to the AP put the potential number in the millions:

Nearly all of the millions of security clearance holders, including CIA, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, are potentially exposed in the security clearance breach, the officials said. More than 2.9 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014, according to government records.

This hack is the second major breach into OPM records in the past two weeks. A hack announced last week may have exposed the personnel records and social security numbers of up to 14 million government workers.