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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.

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The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Huge Blow to Obama's Climate Plan

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 7:42 PM EST

In a setback for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily halted enforcement of Obama's signature climate initiative.

The Clean Power Plan, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency last summer, requires states to limit coal-fired power plant emissions—the nation's largest source of greenhouse gases—by a third by 2030. The regulation was expected to revamp the energy industry in the coming decades, shutting down coal-fired plants and speeding up renewable energy production. But 29 states, together with dozens of industry groups, sued the EPA, claiming the rule was "the most far-reaching and burdensome rule the EPA has ever forced onto the states."

In a 5-4 vote today, the Supreme Court issued an unusual, one-page emergency order for the EPA to put the plan on hold until the US Court of Appeals, which will hear the case this summer, comes to a decision. While the hold is temporary, many see the order as a sign that the Supreme Court has concerns about the policy.

 

The Russians Are Doing Surprisingly Well in Syria

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 6:05 PM EST

In the interest of keeping myself honest, I should acknowledge that—so far, at least—the Russian incursion in Syria has apparently gone a lot better than I expected:

Under the banner of fighting international terrorism, President Vladimir Putin has reversed the fortunes of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad....Government forces are now on the offensive, and last week they scored their most significant victory yet....“The operation is considered here to be quite successful,” said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant general and senior vice president of the Russian Center for Policy Studies in Moscow. It could probably continue for one year or longer, he said, “but it will depend on the success on the ground.”

....“Putin can afford to play geo­political chess in the Middle East because it does not cost much,” said Konstantin von Eggert, an independent political analyst based in Moscow. Entering the conflict in Syria has allowed Putin to combat what he sees as a U.S. policy of regime change, show off his military muscle and reassure allies in the region that Moscow is a loyal partner, von Eggert said.

In the past couple of days, thanks to Russian help, Assad has come ever closer to taking control of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city:

Gains by Assad and his allies in the past month have squeezed overland supply lines to Turkey that may represent the last bulwark against defeat for the rebels in northern Syria.

Assad, who was on the verge of defeat in mid-2015 before Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in with military support, has wrested back the initiative. His army last week broke a three-year siege of two villages north of Aleppo. The city is almost encircled, apart from a narrow stretch of contested territory.

The Russian air force has acquitted itself better than I expected, and Assad's forces have taken advantage of Russian air support better than I expected. It's still early days, of course, and there's a lot more to Syria than Aleppo. Russia could still find itself drawn into a long, pointless quagmire down the road. But it hasn't yet.

Over the past decade, Putin has taken on several small-scale military incursions: in Georgia in 2008; in Crimea in 2014; and now in Syria. But small though they may be, they've been executed competently and they've provided the Russian army with invaluable real-world experience. Apparently that's paid off.

Arizona Is Paying a High Price for Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 3:15 PM EST

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting look today at the costs and benefits of immigration across the Southern border. After Arizona cracked down on illegal immigration in 2007, their population of undocumented workers dropped by a whopping 40 percent—and it's stayed down since then:

Arizona is a test case of what happens to an economy when such migrants leave, and it illustrates the economic tensions fueling the immigration debate.

Economists of opposing political views agree the state’s economy took a hit when large numbers of illegal immigrants left for Mexico and other border states, following a broad crackdown. But they also say the reduced competition for low-skilled jobs was a boon for some native-born construction and agricultural workers who got jobs or raises, and that the departures also saved the state money on education and health care. Whether those gains are worth the economic pain is the crux of the debate.

You should read the whole thing if you want all the details, including the fact that wages increased about 15 percent for a small number of construction workers and farmworkers—though Arizona's unemployment rate more generally has been no better than its neighbors'. Beyond that, though, the Journal provides only a graphic summary that doesn't really summarize much. So I've helpfully annotated it for you. It sure looks to me like Arizona has a very long way to go before the benefits of reducing illegal immigration will come anywhere close to the costs.

Donald Trump Says He Wouldn't Call Ted Cruz a "Pussy" If He Were President Because His Uncle Taught at MIT

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 3:05 PM EST

Donald Trump says he wouldn't call Ted Cruz a pussy if he were president because "when it comes to great steaks, I've just raised the stakes."

Just kidding!

He actually told Lester Holt that he wouldn't call Cruz "a pussy" as president because "I went to one of the best schools. I was a good student. I have an uncle who was one of the top professors at MIT. It's a good gene pool right there." So that doesn't make that much more sense than the steak thing.

Watch:

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.

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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.

The Worst Argument Ever For Not Drafting Women

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:41 PM EST

I can't say that I've paid a lot of attention to the question of whether women should be required to register for the draft or allowed to serve on the front lines. There are, I'm sure, some good reasons to oppose allowing women in the infantry, but this sure isn't one of them:

Such a policy inverts natural law and the rules that have grounded our civilization for thousands of years. Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.

That's a National Review editorial. Not a personal opinion piece or a blog post. It's the official and carefully considered institutional view of the magazine. Did they invite Vladimir Putin to guest edit this issue, or what?

Torture Is Having Another Star Turn

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 12:09 PM EST

From the "Fascinating Factlets" file:

The FCC, which regulates "indecent material" on broadcast radio and television, does not generally permit the word pussy to be aired between 6 am and 10 pm. That means that though a broadcaster can publish a story containing the word online, it can't do the same on its main network, which has a far broader reach.

So...it's fair game after 10 pm? This means that only night owls got to hear Donald Trump's latest bit of puerile insultmongering. Everyone else got the bleeped version, or perhaps no version at all because who needs the grief from pissed-off viewers? In any case, the key takeaway here isn't that Donald Trump called Ted Cruz a pussy. What else would you expect from Trump? The key takeaway is that he was mocking Cruz for not being gung-ho enough about waterboarding, and it was a huge crowd pleaser. The audience went completely gaga over Trump's fetishization of torture. If he had called for prisoners to be tortured on national TV—"Celebrity Interrogator" hosted by Dick Cheney, maybe—I think they might have expired on the spot from sheer bliss.

Marco Rubio Is Running for Panicker-in-Chief

| Tue Feb. 9, 2016 11:34 AM EST
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio takes a sip of water during his Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in 2013. Rubio was widely mocked for awkwardly reaching for a water bottle in the middle of the high-profile speech.

McKay Coppins explains Marco Rubio to the rest of us:

To those who have known him longest, Rubio's flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness—and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

…More than age, record, or wardrobe, it is Rubio's natural nervousness that makes him seem to so many who know him like he is swimming in his dad's sport coat…From the moment the 2010 primary turned negative, the candidate needed a fainting couch every time an attack was lobbed his way, his aides recalled to me.…When a state senator who was backing the governor referred to Rubio as a "slick package from Miami," he was aghast and ordered his aides to cry foul. Dog whistle! Anti-Cuban! Racist! When opponents accused Rubio of steering state funds toward Florida International University in exchange for a faculty job after he left office, he was indignant. Outrageous! Slander!

"He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much," a Miami Republican complained after spending close to an hour sitting next to Rubio on a flight as he fretted over a mildly critical process story about him in the National Journal. "I'm just like, ‘Marco, calm down.'"

Excellent! Rubio sounds like a great primary opponent to me. It should take the Clinton machine about 10 seconds to figure out how to turn him into a puddle of mush on the campaign trail. I think I might start rooting for him to get the nomination after all.