Patrick Caldwell


Patrick Caldwell is a reporter in Mother Jones’ DC bureau. Previously, he covered domestic politics for The American Prospect and elections for The American Independent. His work has also appeared in The NationThe New Republic, and The Washington Independent. E-mail any and all tips to pcaldwell [at] motherjones [dot] com. Follow his tweets at @patcaldwell.

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Patrick Caldwell is a reporter in Mother Jones’ DC bureau. Previously, he covered all things domestic politics for The American Prospect and elections for The American Independent. His work has also appeared in The NationThe New Republic, and The Washington Independent. E-mail any and all tips to pcaldwell [at] motherjones [dot] com. Follow him on Twitter at @patcaldwell.

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Above the Law: Steven Seagal Considers Run to Be Arizona's Governor

| Mon Jan. 6, 2014 7:49 AM PST

Steven Seagal has a lengthy resume: real-life martial arts expert, action star of 40-some movies, one-time director, nine-time nominee and one-time winner of a Golden Raspberry award, reserve deputy sheriff, namesake of an energy drink, musician with two full-length albums, and Mother Jones endorsed Joe Biden look-a-like. Now he wants to add politician to the mix.

Last Friday Phoenix TV station ABC15 published an interview with Seagal ahead of the new season of his reality TV show, Steven Seagal: Lawman. The first two seasons of the show, aired on A&E, featured Seagal working alongside police units in the suburbs of New Orleans. But for the latest season, now airing on Reelz, Seagal has transferred to Arizona, where he is a deputy for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the country's leading anti-immigrant zealots. That could springboard Seagal, a Republican, toward a career in politics.

"Joe Arpaio and I were talking about me running for governor in Arizona," Seagal said in the interview, "which was kind of a joke, but I suppose I would remotely consider it, but I probably would have a lot more other responsibilities."

When ABC15 asked Seagal what topic he viewed as the most pressing political problem for the country he turned to one of Arpaio's favorite topics: open borders. "I think that this is a tremendous oversight by the current administration," he said. "I think that it's a crime."

Report: Hype Over Canceled Plans Under Obamacare Was Overblown

| Thu Jan. 2, 2014 12:36 PM PST

It's been more than 24 hours since insurance kicked in for early adopters of the Obamacare exchanges and somehow, magically, the health care system has yet to collapse. That might come as a surprise if you've listened too closely to the warnings from Republicans over the past several months. Conservative legislators devoted the end of 2013 to bemoaning the raft of cancellation notices sent to people enrolled in shoddy insurance plans, juxtaposing those letters to President Barack Obama's claim that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it," a line that earned Politifact's Lie of the Year dishonor. Republicans claimed that millions would now go without insurance once Obamacare went into effect.

The truth turns out to be a tad more complicated. On New Year's Eve, the Democratic minority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report examining exactly how many people will lack health insurance under the new regime. The report uses an Associated Press estimate that 4.7 million people received cancellation notices as their baseline. But out of that group, according to the Democrats, only a small sliver of Americans—just 10,000 people—who lost their 2013 coverage won't have access to affordable insurance.

"Previous false claims have included the assertion that the law requires death panels, that the law represents a government take over of health care, and that law has caused millions to lose their jobs," the report says. "The assertion that the law will cause five million individuals who currently have coverage in the individual market to go without coverage in 2014 is similarly baseless."

The Real Reason Why Mike Huckabee Is Toying With a 2016 Run

| Mon Dec. 23, 2013 8:43 AM PST

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas turned presidential aspirant, has been largely inconsequential in Republican politics since he shuttered his 2008 campaign. Unlike the Sarah Palins and Jim DeMints of the Tea Party wing, Huckabee has played a small role in elevating party usurpers like senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The Christian Crusader has been mostly absent from politics, instead favoring punditry through cable news—a far more lucrative venture. As of 2011, Huckabee was earning half a million dollars a year from his show on Fox News, on top of extra income from his recently shuttered radio show and other paid appearances.

But being the runner-up of a now-distant presidential primary doesn't carry much political cache. So Huckabee has begun a concerted media effort to drum up interest in will-he-or-won't-he speculation about another presidential bid in 2016. First came a New York Times interview two weeks ago. "I’m keeping the door open," he told the paper. "I think right now the focus needs to be on 2014, but I’m mindful of the fact that there’s a real opportunity for me." Huckabee followed that up with an appearance on Fox News Sunday this past weekend, where he again played coy while highlighting his potential interest in a campaign. "I would say maybe at this point it is 50-50, but I don't know," Huckabee said.

First things first: A successful repeat of Huckabee's 2008 bid seems unlikely. The last time Huckabee successfully ran for public office was his gubernatorial reelection bid in 2002—not exactly material for a robust presidential campaign come 2016. Even if Huckabee chose to run once again, it's hard to imagine him carving out a space in the Republican 2016 primary. In 2008, he became the banner carrier for the religious right. Rick Santorum claimed that mantle in 2012 and appears poised to resume the crusade next time around. If Republican primary voters don't want a fresh face like Cruz, Paul, or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), it's likely they'll settle on Santorum, rather than Huckabee, as the next-in-line candidate.

So why the sudden interest? Well, as that Times article from earlier this month noted, Huckabee feels like he hasn't received his due for finishing second in the 2008 primary behind Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Part of that must be vanity, but calling attention to his standing in 2008 is also practical. Huckabee's political relevance is what got him his show on Fox. Prior to entering politics, Huckabee worked as a pastor, a solid life but hardly the one-percent dream he's living now. Thanks to that Fox News income, Huckabee lives in a $3 million Florida beach home. Huckabee acknowledged that it'd be tough to relinquish that lavish lifestyle when pushed in the Times interview. "And it’s why I’m not in a big hurry to do anything," he said. There's no better way to lock down that steady income than to rev up the media hype machine for another round of speculation about future presidential campaigns.

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