Political MoJo

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 8, 2013

Fri Nov. 8, 2013 10:44 AM EST

A Marine with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, fires the M777 howitzer during a battery defense battle drill at Arta Range, Nov. 3, 2013. A five-person gun crew can fire as many as five rounds per minute. The 13th MEU is deployed with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller/Released.

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Lindsey Graham Introduces 20-Week Abortion Ban in the Senate

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 2:36 PM EST

Today, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation, titled the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," is a close companion to the bill that the House passed this June.

Political observers see the bill as a sop to conservative voters in South Carolina, where Graham faces uncertain reelection prospects. A recent poll shows that the two-term incumbent leads his Republican primary challengers with 51 percent of the vote. The bill he has introduced is predicated on the popular anti-abortion argument—which has no medical basis—that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain.

Here's Why Patrick Stewart Rang The Opening Bell to Celebrate Twitter's IPO

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 1:21 PM EST

On Thursday, Twitter made its much-anticipated trading debut at the New York Stock Exchange. The social-media giant is trading under the ticker symbol "TWTR." And when it came time to ring the opening bell, Twitter's founders and CEO were joined by actor Patrick Stewart, Vivienne Harr (a 9-year-old girl who uses a lemonade stand to wage war on modern slavery), and Cheryl Fiandaca of the Boston Police Department.

Patrick Stewart Twitter IPO NYSE

Twitter tells Mother Jones that all three were chosen because they are awesome at Twitter. The company invited Stewart because the 73-year-old actor is pretty amazing at broadcasting his quirks and everyday life to his fans—shooting a bow and arrow, day trips, and more recently, this:

Patrick Stewart lobster Halloween costume

Fiandaca, as the bureau chief of public information for the Boston PD, was at the helm of the department's social-media efforts following Boston Marathon bombing in April.

And Harr has used her account to raise awareness and promote her efforts against child slavery. Here's a statement from her father Eric:

Children have been setting up lemonade stands since time immemorial. The difference with Vivienne's is simple: Twitter. Without Twitter, Vivienne raises $100 and reaches our local community. With Twitter, she raises $100,000 and reaches a global community. Twitter helped her moment become a movement. We believe that Twitter makes good on the long-held promise that one person can change the world. That promise burns bright in the heart of a little girl with a big dream: that all children should be free.

#YOHO: This GOP Lawmaker is Trying to Impeach Eric Holder

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 11:46 AM EST
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)

In his first year in Washington, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) has distinguished himself by suggesting that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and arguing that an unprecedented default would be good for the global economy because "the creditors that we owe money to around the world would say, 'You know what, they're getting their house in order.'" (Eds. note: They wouldn't say that.) Now he has a new plan: Impeach Attorney General Eric Holder over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives' disastrous Fast and Furious "gun-walking" program. Holder has already been formally censured by the House, but according to Yoho, a group of Republican congressmen wants to take the next step. If he and his allies were to succeed—and they won't—it would make it the the second time in US history that a cabinet member was impeached, and the first since 1876. Per Politico:

"It's to get him out of office — impeachment," Yoho said, according to the Gainesville Sun, adding "it will probably be when we get back in [Washington]. It will be before the end of the year. This will go to the speaker and the speaker will decide if it comes up or not."

Yoho cited frustration over the botched "Fast and Furious" program - in which federal agents allowed guns to "walk" to Mexican drug cartels as part of an investigation - as one of the main motivations for the impeachment push. That sting operation failed, and weapons tied to the Fast and Furious program were found at the shooting scene when a Border Patrol agent was killed in Dec. 2010.

As the young people say these days: #YOHO.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 7, 2013

Thu Nov. 7, 2013 11:01 AM EST

Soldiers of the 184th Security Force Assistance Team (California National Guard) conduct basic range training in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2013. The 184th SFAT's mission is to advise and assist the Afghan Uniformed Police in Uruzgan Province. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn.

The 4 Most Hypocritical Provisions In the GOP Farm Bill

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 10:52 AM EST

The House and Senate are in the middle of ironing out the differences between their two separate versions of the farm bill, the $1 trillion piece of legislation that funds agriculture and nutrition programs. The House GOP is fighting to maintain the $40 billion in cuts its bill makes to the food stamp program—a move that would force 4 million low-income people off food aid—while claiming the moral high ground. And there are other hypocritical provisions in the House Republicans' farm bill. Here are four:

1. The GOP wants to balance the budget, unless it means taking money from the rich. The House Republicans' farm bill would cut the deficit by some $53 billion, $40 billion of which comes from gutting the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. If Republicans get their way, 1.7 million unemployed adults who make about $2,500 a year and 2.1 million low-income working families and elderly people would be kicked off the program next year. Some 210,000 kids would lose school lunches.

Meanwhile, the House bill doles out the most generous farm subsidies in history, most of which go to the wealthiest farmers and agribusiness. And while the Senate farm bill fully eliminates the $5 billion direct payment program, which pays farmers who don't grow anything, the House bill retains direct payments to cotton farmers for two years, a move that is projected to cost $823 million. Even safety-net cutter extraordinaire, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) admitted to the New York Times in July, "Right now, the federal government favors the big guy over the little guy."

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That Time Nazis Marched to "Keep Redskins White"

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 7:00 AM EST

"Keep Redskins White!" Members of the American Nazi Party demonstrate against desegregating the Washington, DC, football team, October 1961.

Currently, Washington, DC's pro football team, the [Redacted], has the distinction of being the only team in the NFL whose name is a racial slur. A little more than 50 years ago, it had another unfortunate distinction: It was the last remaining all-white team in the league. 

The struggle to integrate Washington's football team is recounted in Thomas G. Smith's 2012 book, Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins. As Smith tells it, the showdown began in 1961, when John F. Kennedy's interior secretary, Stewart Udall, who'd committed to ending segregation anywhere in his sphere of influence, declared his intent to break pro football's last color bar. Udall later recalled, "I considered it outrageous that the Redskins were the last team in the NFL to have a lily-white policy." 

The call for integration was met with opposition, most notably from the team's owner, George Preston Marshall, a laundromat magnate turned NFL bigwig who had held firm for years. As legendary Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich wrote:

For the 24 years when he was identified as the leading racist in the NFL, he simply stared down the criticism of his refusal to sign a black player. It was the only subject on which the voluble Marshall never expressed a public opinion, never resorted to a quip. But he bristled when this columnist reminded him in print that "the Redskins colors are burgundy, gold and Caucasian."

Marshall appeared as outraged by federal interference as he was by the prospect of diversity. "Why Negroes particularly?" he asked. "Why not make us hire a player from another race? In fact, why not a woman? Of course, we have had players who played like girls, but never an actual girl player." The controversy drew out assorted bigots, including neo-Nazis (above), who protested on Marshall's behalf to "Keep [the] Redskins White."

Udall had one advantage over Marshall: The team's new home field, DC Stadium (later renamed RFK Memorial), was federal property. With Kennedy's approval, Udall gave Marshall a choice: He could let black players on his team, or take his all-white squad to someone else's gridiron.

"You can't tell what will happen under the guise of liberalism," Marshall griped shortly before acquiring a handful of black players for the 1962 season. He would comply with Udall's demands even if it meant hiring "Eskimos or Chinese or Mongolians." The newly integrated team went on to have its best season in five years.

These Places Really, Really Want to Secede From Their States

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 7:00 AM EST

While most Americans went to the polls on Tuesday with nothing more than the fate of some politicians and a few ballot measures at stake, residents of 11 counties in Colorado got to decide whether or not they want to secede and form their own state. (Majorities in five counties said yes.)

Current Colorado residents aren't the only ones itching to add more stars to the American flag, even though the process is next to impossible—after obtaining local approval, a breakaway region must also get the okay from its home state's legislature, and then Congress.

While other parts of the country have their eyes on total independence from the United States, these four regions have a more modest goal: becoming the country's 51st state.

North Colorado
Tired of the liberal bent in Denver, officials in the state's rural (and redder) northern region got secession on the ballot. A recent state law that doubled renewable energy requirements for suppliers in rural areas was the "last straw," according to Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, who told ABC News, "I think [this is] just one more example of the disconnect happening in the state of Colorado…it isn't a Democrat or a Republican thing." If all 11 counties were to secede, the resulting state would have a population of a little more than 350,000—slightly more people than live in Tampa, Florida. Its largest city would be Greeley, whose mayor recently penned a column arguing that, despite widespread perceptions to the contrary, it no longer smells like cattle.

Another rural offshoot, Jefferson would combine some of the northernmost counties of California with some of the southernmost in Oregon to form a new state dedicated to free markets and limited government. Officials in two California counties recently voted in favor of the movement, whose website contains quotes from Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Mahatma Gandhi along with a link to The Jeffersons theme song. The effort isn't particularly new—Jefferson first tried declaring itself a new state back in 1941, though the attack on Pearl Harbor led activists to abandon the cause.

Western Maryland
Nearly 62 percent of Marylanders went for Obama last year, and the state has had only one Republican governor since Spiro Agnew left office in 1969. For residents of the state's more conservative counties, then, it's easy to feel disenfranchised from "the dominant ruling class," as statehood advocate Scott Strzelczyk puts it. And that's left him looking for a way out: "If you think you have a long list of grievances and it's been going on for decades, and you can't get it resolved, ultimately this is what you have to do," Strzelczyk told the Washington Post in September. "Otherwise you are trapped." The so-called Western Maryland Initiative has never been tested at the ballot, and is still in the honeymoon phase of secession planning, which includes designing T-shirts and voting on a state flag.

Baja Arizona
Not every potential breakaway state is a conservative redoubt in waiting. After the Republican-controlled Legislature passed bills allowing police to arrest and detain someone if there's a "reasonable suspicion" that the suspect is an illegal immigrant and eliminating organ transplant coverage for Medicaid recipients, liberals in southern Pima County circulated a petition for statehood. (With nearly 1 million residents, the county—home to Tucson—is still more populous than six existing US states.) Baja drew support from both sides of the aisle, too: The county Republican chair told the Arizona Daily Star that secession would make him a state GOP leader. "I'm all for a promotion," he said.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 6, 2013

Wed Nov. 6, 2013 10:35 AM EST

Lance Cpl. Joshua Anderson, a crew chief with Headquarters and Support Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, maneuvers an AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 17, 2013. Anderson participated in a battalion field exercise to enhance combat readiness and prepare for future operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Hannah Schuller/Released.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 5, 2013

Tue Nov. 5, 2013 10:37 AM EST

U.S. soldiers help each other inspect their equipment before a combat training jump into Bunker drop zone at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Oct. 22, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger.