In Michigan, "foreclosure king" David Trott is vying to unseat former Santa impersonator Kerry Bentivolio. Let the reindeer games begin.
Tim MurphyJan. 6, 2014 10:34 AM
In a year where business-friendly Republicans are lining up to challenge tea party renegades, the GOP primary in Michigan's 11th District defies political convention. In one corner is freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio—a former Santa impersonator and reindeer rancher who was elected almost by accident last fall after the five-term incumbent abruptly quit. In the other is David Trott, a lawyer who has been dubbed the "foreclosure king" of a state in which 38 percent of mortgages are underwater.
"It's one of the oddest primaries probably in the country," says Bill Ballenger, a former Republican state senator who runs the site Inside Michigan Politics.
If Bentivolio is Santa, Trott's political rivals are working to frame the challenger as something closer to Scrooge. "Whether or not we want to make an issue of it, his record is representing most of the major Wall Street banks and kicking people out of homes in the district," says Bentivolio's campaign manager, David Wolkinson. "I mean, this is where he made his money."
Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is covering the vast majority of the cost of expanding Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance program for poor people, pregnant women, and infants. But conservatives in 24 states have blocked the program's expansion—and taken aim at anyone who breaks with the party line. Their newest target: Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who went around the state legislature last year to cover 275,000 more Ohioans. On Thursday, Ted Stevenot, the former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, a tea party group, announced he would take on Kasich in the May gubernatorial primary, provided he can collect 1,000 signatures by the end of the month. Per the Huffington Post:
Stevenot sent out a release late Wednesday night saying he would hold a press conference Jan. 7 in Columbus to make a "major announcement" concerning his candidacy. The announcement also noted that Brenda Mack of Canfield, Ohio, will be his running mate as lieutenant governor. She is the former president of the Ohio Black Republicans Association and the current president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation Ohio Chapter.
As my colleague Andy Kroll noted in May, conservative unrest over Kasich has been brewing for a while, with tea partiers even going so far as to threaten to form their own party to oppose him. But President Barack Obama won Ohio twice, and Kasich's signature anti-union legislation was soundly defeated at the polls. That puts the governor in a bind as he heads into what was already expected to be a tough re-election fight next fall.
Still, Stevenot isn't exactly Grover Norquist. The tea party leader has no political experience and only a very short history of political activism. At last count, had just 17 followers on Twitter. The big news here might not be that Kasich finally got a primary challenge—it's that the primary challenger is (at first glance, at least) so underwhelming.
Many words were spoken in 2013. Not all of them were created equal. Here is a brief, but by no means complete, guide to the words and phrases (and symbols, and parts of speech) we'd like to retire in 2014.
Please print this out and post it to your refrigerator or cubicle wall for convenient access.
"#." R.I.P., early Twitter feature. We'll bury you next to your friend, the FourSquare check-in.
adverbs. Ban all adverbs. They're mostly just gulp words, really.
"controversial tweet." There's just no way to make this sound dignified, and besides, it leads to think pieces.
"derp." It's been an emotional ride, but it's time to send this one off on the ice floe.
"disrupt." Luxury car apps aren't disruptive.
"Donald Trump is considering a run for…" No, he's not. He just isn't. And if you'd like to get him unearned publicity, you should at least get some stock options out of it.
"doubled down." Unless the candidate did it while biting into a delicious sandwich, let's just say the candidate "reaffirmed his/her position" on transportation funding or burrito drones or whatever we'll be discussing in 2014.
"...favorited a tweet you were mentioned in." No one has ever wanted to know this.
"gaffe." It's going to be a long-enough election year as it is.
"game-changer." What you're describing probably won't change the game. But if it does, would you want to spoil the moment with a cliche?
"Guy Fieri." What if we all decided to just never mention him again? Would he disappear?
"hashtag." This refers to the spoken utterance of the word "hashtag," often accompanied by air-quotes. People can see you doing this.
"hipster." Wearing glasses is not something people do because they're hipsters; it's something people do because they're nearsighted. People don't drink hot chocolate because it's a hipster thing to do; they drink hot chocolate because it's literally liquid chocolate. Yes, I wrote "literally." That's what happens when you use a word so casually and carelessly in think pieces as to render it meaningless.
The cowboy who tried to subpoena Jesus and six other killers with delusions of divinity.
Tim Murphy and Stephanie MencimerDec. 25, 2013 7:00 AM
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that mentally ill convicts can be executed so long as they have a "rational understanding" of their sentence and the reason for it. But state authorities have interpreted that language very broadly: Take John Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic who killed eight people after being released from a Florida mental hospital in 1976. He believed he'd been condemned to "prevent him from ascending to his rightful throne as the Prince of God"—a perch from which he would save the United States from communism. This past May, a federal appeals court declined to commute his sentence, with one judge writing that Ferguson's belief in an afterlife didn't make him insane: "If it did mean that, most Americans would be mentally incompetent to be executed." The Supreme Court passed on reviewing the case, and Ferguson was executed in August. His last words: "I am the Prince of God and I will rise again."
Other death-row inmates with delusions of divinity:
Michael Owen Perry Perry, who murdered five family members, believed that he was a god and that Grease star Olivia Newton-John was a goddess. In 1985, he was sentenced to death in Louisiana before another court ruled that the state could not forcibly medicate him simply to make him rational enough for execution. Perry is still on death row.
Emanuel Kemp Jr.
Sentenced to be executed in Texas in 1999, Kemp believed he was God, and therefore above punishment for a 1987 murder. He was later found to be incompetent.
Thomas Harrison Provenzano Provenzano's lawyers argued that their client, who believed he was Jesus Christ, had schizophrenia, prompting a Florida legislator to quip, "Just crucify him." He was executed in 2000.
Larry Robison Robison was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic three years before he murdered his roommate and four neighbors in an attempt to "find God." He believed he had received biblical prophecies through a clock in his home. Texas executed him in 2000.
Scott Louis Panetti Panetti believes his sentence for murdering his wife's parents is part of a satanic plot to keep him from his divine mission to spread the word of God. He represented himself in court dressed as a cowboy and tried to subpoena Jesus. The Supreme Court ruled him incompetent in 2007—over the protests of then-Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz.
Percy Levar Walton Walton, who murdered three people in Virginia in 1996, believed he was Jesus—as well as Superman, a queen bee, "the King of Hearts," and a caveman. His sentence was commuted to life without parole in 2008.
On Tuesday, Organizing for Action, a remnant of Barack Obama's re-election campaign that has been re-purposed to promote the president's agenda, asked its followers to sign up for health insurance over the holidays. The group's pitch featured a bespectacled twentysomething male in pajamas, drinking hot chocolate. On the right, "Pajama Boy" quickly became a meme. At last, conservatives had an opportunity to dismiss political opponents as jobless, lazy, unsexed hippies.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie demanded that the stock image get dressed and do some community service. Texas Rep. Steve Stockman chimed in, too. Pajama Boy is a "vaguely androgynous, student-glasses-wearing, Williamsburg hipster" and "the Obama machine's id" (National Review's Charles Cooke); an "insufferable man-child" and a consequence of the "breakdown of marriage and its drift into the 30s" (Politico Magazine's Rich Lowry); and a representative of "effete, cosmopolitan America" (The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis.) Holy stock photo, Batman!
But a Mother Jones investigation discovered something unsettling. Far from being a divisive cultural wedge issue, pajamas are a normal item of clothing that normal adults wear. Even Republican presidents. The pajamas are coming from inside the White House!