Mojo - August 2012

"Fuck You, Tyrants!": Ron Paul Supporters Rebel on Convention Floor

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 7:38 PM EDT

Mark Carducci, a Nevada delegate and Ron Paul supporter, furiously reacts to a controversial rules change rammed through by the RNC.

A minor revolt broke out on the floor of the Republican Party's presidential convention Tuesday afternoon and evening. Ron Paul delegates from several states erupted into protest over a controversial change to the party's rules to block future insurgencies mounted by outside candidates like their hero. Paul supporters also freaked out over the convention's refusal to recognize about two dozen Paul delegates and for refusing to treat Paul like a serious candidate for the nomination.

During the roll call of the states, the Paulites were irate, screaming at the podium, as convention secretary Kim Reynolds declined to read out the delegate votes for any candidate other than Romney. "The Republican Party is so afraid of Ron Paul that they won't repeat his name," shouted Jim Ayala, a Nevada delegate and Paul supporter wearing an Oath Keepers T-shirt.

Minutes earlier, the Paulites were enraged when the convention adopted the new set of rules on a voice vote during which the Paul backers out-shouted the other delegates. One Nevada delegate and Paul supporter, Mark Carducci, thrust two middle fingers into the air toward RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), screaming "Fuck you, tyrants!" (That's him in the above picture.)

The Republican National Committee had altered the convention rules to bind delegates in future elections to vote for the candidate who wins their state's primary or caucus. This change would hurt outsider candidates like Paul, who collected 158 delegates during the Republican primary season. The RNC also refused to recognize Paul's delegates from Maine, and this incensed his many supporters, leading to a nasty yelling match on the convention floor immediately before Mitt Romney's nomination. "Seat them now!" the Paulites yelled.

Roger Leahy, an Iowa delegate and Paul supporter, says he and other Paulites had pleaded with Reynolds to recognize Paul during the roll call, but she would not. "This is the Republican steamroller," Leahy said.

All this led to the unseated Maine Paul delegates storming out of the convention together. And a pack of angry Paul fans all clad in white ballcaps left the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Romney campaign and the RNC had hoped to avoid this kind of floor flight, large or small, during the convention. But once it was done, the convention proceeded and Romney was nominated, to polite applause.

Following the dustup, Yelena Vorobyov (pictured below), a 30-year-old Paul delegate from Apple Valley, Minnesota, was eager to vent. Barely taking a breath, she said: "This is just evidence of the manipulation of the Republican Party. They're not even allowing us to bring signs in, but they brought in their own [pro-Romney] signs. We couldn't nominate Ron Paul. The 'no' for not passing the rules was louder than the 'aye' and they ruled in favor of the rules. They're cheating. The Republican National Committee is not transparent and does not have integrity. They stole votes. They stole delegates. They refused to send buses for our delegates. It's a totalitarian process. This is not democracy. It's a really sad day for us. I've worked for Republican candidates since I was 16. We believed the Republican Party had more integrity. Boy, did they prove us wrong."

Yelena Vorobyov, one of Ron Paul's 33 Minnesota delegates, had to make her own sign on the floor, and she was damn mad. David CornYelena Vorobyov, one of Ron Paul's 33 Minnesota delegates, had to make her own sign on the floor, and she was damn mad. David Corn

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At Anti-Abortion Bash, Todd Akin Is a Hero

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 5:10 PM EDT
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) speaks at a news conference in Chesterfield, Missouri, where he announced his plans to stay in the race for the Senate.

Social-conservative firebrand Phyllis Schlafly turned 88 two weeks ago, which, for the hundred or so anti-abortion activists gathered inside the front entrance of the Florida Aquarium on Tuesday, means it's time to celebrate with some treats—a five-foot-tall cake, a wall of vanilla cupcakes with chocolate bars on top, and a heaping platter of red meat.

Hosted by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, the event in Schlafly's honor featured a cattle call of conservative luminaries—former Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, the Texas congressman famous for introducing the world to concept of "terror babies." Outside, Linda Pickering, a volunteer for a Florida-based group called All Pro Pastors, handed out "precious feet"—gold pins that purportedly replicate "the size and shape of a 10-week unborn baby's feet." Rep. Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape"  have thrown a wrench into the GOP's plan to win the Senate and earned stern rebukes from folks like RNC chair Reince Priebus. But at the aquarium, Akin's underwater campaign is nothing to be ashamed of.

"He's repeatedly apologized for it," said Gary Bauer, a longtime social-conservative activist and former GOP presidential candidate. "But I think if somebody's looking for extremism on the abortion issue, it's not an ill-chosen sentence in Missouri, it's the policies being promoted by the Democrats and the president, who favor all abortions with no regulations under any circumstance. That's the extremist position on abortion."

 

William Morgan, a delegate from Franklin, Tennessee, told me he'd seen a number of attendees proudly wearing Akin stickers on their jackets—"and none of them were from Missouri." As he understood it, Akin's comments were "dumb," but his main sin was being inarticulate. "By legitimate rape he meant rapes that are really rape," Morgan says, suggesting that women frequently make false accusations. "This was one dumb statement a politician that's been a congressman for 12 years," Morgan said. (Editor's note: Akin has said many dumb things in 12 years.) 

Precious feet."Precious Feet."

"The best statement I heard was one fellow who called into a radio show the other day and he said, 'I realized that the state motto of Missouri, we're the Show Me State. And Todd Akin has shown the voters of Missouri for 12 years he's the real conservative.'"

Still, even among the most ardent of pro-lifers, there's room for dissent. As the event was emptying out, I ran into Judy Wilson, a volunteer who was admiring a pamphlet declaring sonograms to be the "big guns" of the pro-life movement. Wilson thinks sonograms are tops; she works at an outpatient diagnostic center in the Tampa area and says in her 20 years there she's seen women break down and cry when they see the ultrasound. But she draws the line at Akin. "I don't think he speaks for very many people," Wilson said. "I consider myself pro-life, big-time pro-life, but I've got a window. And so my friends on the other side say I'm pro-choice, because I do have a window where I pick the lesser of two evils."

Guy in Charge of Electing GOP Senators Hasn't Been Following Pennsylvania Senate Race

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 3:46 PM EDT

It seems that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) doesn't read much news.

On Tuesday afternoon at the Republican National Convention, I asked Cornyn what he thought of the controversy surrounding Pennsylvania Senate candidate Tom Smith, who compared being an unwed mother to being raped. I was wondering whether Cornyn thought Smith's comments (which drew national headlines before his spokeswoman walked them back) might reduce the GOP's chances of winning the seat. Cornyn is the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is charged with electing GOP senators, but he told me he "honestly hadn't followed" the Smith controversy.

There are only a few possible explanations for this. Assuming Cornyn was telling the truth, and the NRSC is remotely competent, it suggests that the NRSC doesn't think Smith has much of a chance of unseating Democratic incumbent Robert Casey Jr., who leads in the polls. If NRSC staff thought the race was competitive, they would have been monitoring it and would have alerted their boss when the GOP candidate made a deeply damaging, headline-grabbing gaffe. The fact that Cornyn seemed not to have heard of the controversy suggests his staff may think it doesn't matter.

GOP Platform Calls for Nuking What's Left of McCain-Feingold Law

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 2:16 PM EDT

At this time during the last presidential campaign, the Republican Party's campaign finance law opponents were in something of a pickle. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was their nominee; the tough law banning so-called soft money bore his name; and so, during the 2008 election, the GOP platform couldn't take a rhetorical buzzsaw to the laws curbing the flow of campaign cash into elections.

There's no such problem for Republicans at the 2012 GOP convention. James Bopp, Jr., an influential lawyer who's made a career out of demolishing campaign finance laws, said in a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star that the GOP's 2012 platform will call for gutting what's left of the McCain-Feingold law—namely, the ban on unlimited, unregulated, soft money given to political parties.

The platform, Bopp suggests, will read like a wish list for haters of campaign finance restriction:

Four years ago, he watched with distaste as his party nominated Sen. John McCain as its presidential nominee. With McCain leading the ticket, Bopp said, "we couldn't write in (the platform) that we opposed McCain-Feingold. And we sure as hell couldn't endorse it, so we didn't say anything about campaign finance."

This time, he said, the platform calls for the repeal of the last vestiges of the McCain-Feingold law and opposes passage of the so-called "Disclose Act" in Congress. It would require advocacy groups making more than $10,000 in campaign-related expenditures to disclose contributors who had donated more than $10,000.

What Democrats call basic good government, Bopp sees as an attempt to stifle advocacy groups by making them report donors for ads that run as far as 18 months before an election.

Josh Orton, political director at Progressives United, the nonprofit founded by former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) to fight the influence of corporations in politics, blasted the GOP's campaign finance plank. "McCain-Feingold closed the door on a corrupting system of unlimited money," Orton says. "By advocating its repeal, Republicans are proving that they don't just tolerate corruption in politics, they actually embrace it."

Herman Cain Goes Off (Video): "There are No Racial Implications" to Romney Welfare Ad

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 1:02 PM EDT

 

Herman Cain doesn't see what the big deal is about a roundly debunked Republican claim about President Obama and welfare. The charge, parroted in GOP talking points and a new Romney campaign ad (which a Romney strategist said Tuesday was the campaign's most effective one yet), is that President Obama issued an exemption allowing states to water-down the work requirements to receive welfare benefits. (The exemption, requested by Republican governors, actually did the opposite. It allowed states to adjust their work requirements, giving them the ability to make it harder to receive welfare benefits.)

The racial overtones of the welfare charge are not especially subtle (Newt Gingrich was accused of treading into equally racially-tinged terrain by calling Obama a "food stamp president" during the primary). With that in mind, I asked one of the GOP's most prominent African-American voices, former presidential front-runner Herman Cain, if he was troubled by the welfare ad. Answer: Hell no. Cain's aide said he was in a hurry to get inside the Tampa convention center, but when he heard my question he told his handlers to stop:

There are no racial implications! This is fabricated on the part of the Democrats. Man, I'm just sick of all this so-called racial implications. It is a fair ad that Governor Romney put out about welfare. And for the Democrats to continue to talk about racial implications, they are just trying to deceive people! I'm sick of it! There is only one color that matters in the American dream and that's green! And by the way, there are poor black people and poor white people, and poor Hispanics, so there are no racial implications. Thank you, I had to stop for that.

Does GOP Senate Candidate Josh Mandel Think Paul Ryan Is "Un-American"?

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 12:50 PM EDT
GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio.

Josh Mandel is the boyish-faced, factually-challenged Republican candidate vying to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Until last weekend, Mandel had refused to stake out a clear position on what had become a key issue in this Rust Belt race: whether Congress was right to rescue auto manufacturers General Motors and Chrysler with a $15 billion federal bailout. It was a glaring omission for Mandel, a national candidate in a battleground state where the automotive industry employs upwards of 140,000 Ohioans.

In a joint interview with Brown on Sunday, however, Mandel broke his silence in a big way. He called Brown "un-American" for voting in favor of the auto industry bailout, claiming that non-union retirees at Delphi, a GM parts supplier, got screwed out of of their pensions because of the government bailouts. (As PolitiFact notes, that's not quite true.) 

There's a big problem with branding a yes vote on the auto bailout "un-American": The presumptive vice-presidential nominee for Mandel's own party, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), voted yes for that same bailout. Is Ryan un-American, too?

I put that question to Mandel spokesman Travis Considine in an email early Tuesday morning. Considine has yet to reply; we'll update this post if he does.

Ryan was one of 32 House Republicans to vote for the auto bailout on December 10, 2008, vastly outnumbered by the 150 House GOPers who voted against it. Then-Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), in Congress' upper chamber, also voted in support of the auto bailout; he was joined by seven other Senate Republicans. Is Voinovich also un-American, according to Mandel?

Mitt Romney has a more complicated record on the auto bailout. In November 2008, he wrote an op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." He argued then that rescuing the auto companies would only lead to their demise further down the road. (He was wrong.) Later, Romney tried to claim credit for the auto industry's rebound, despite his insistence that the bailouts would ruin the companies.

Brown, who was present when Mandel called him un-American, declined to respond directly to the charge. Here's the full exchange between Brown and Mandel, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch:

"I don't toss around the word un-American very often—it's a dangerous word to use. But stripping...Delphi employees of their pensions with that [bailout] vote—that is un-American," Mandel said during a sit-down with Brown and editors and reporters of the Dispatch.

"While Josh was running for treasurer in 2009 and 2010, I guess he missed how this auto industry was going to implode," Brown replied. "And to say that my votes closed plants or that my votes caused Delphi workers to lose their pensions or that my votes caused other tragedies and devastations in the auto industry is peculiar when all four auto companies in Ohio and almost the entire supply chain…wanted this because they knew the auto industry might implode."

Brown didn't say anything about the "un-American" label, but one of his campaign aides later said it was disrespectful.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker responded to Mandel's "un-American" charge, saying that "Josh Mandel's opposition to the auto rescue that helped to protect nearly 850,000 Ohio jobs is wildly out of touch with Ohio's middle class, and that's why he's resorted to a despicable personal attack on Sherrod Brown that has no place in our political discourse."

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Ohio Miners Required to Attend Romney Rally

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 12:45 PM EDT

You may have seen this photo of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney from earlier this month. Shot by Wheeling Intelligencer photographer Scott McCloskey, it shows Romney appearing at a Beallsville, Ohio rally flanked by a large group of coal miners:

 Associated Press/Wheeling Intelligencer

Associated Press/Wheeling Intelligencer

The rally was meant to show that "Coal Country Stands With Mitt," as the campaign signs touted. But it turns out that the owners of the mine told workers they were required to attend the rally, reports The Plain Dealer (via Grist):

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.
A group of employees who feared they'd be fired if they didn't attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.
Moore told Blomquist that managers "communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend." He said the company did not penalize no-shows.

The radio interview is here. Moore also confirms that they bused workers to the rally, and that the mine was shut down for the day (probably because so many workers would be at this "mandatory" rally). So even if workers wanted to, you know, work, they'd be forced to take a day off without pay anyway.

Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray is a major Romney supporter, and the company's PAC has given $10,000 to the Republican presidential candidate. This, according to Murray, is because he worries about his workers whose "lives have been destroyed by the policies of Barack Obama."

GOP House Hopeful Pushes Extreme Horse Testicle Metaphor

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 12:41 PM EDT

Ted Yoho, the Republican congressional candidate from Florida's 3rd District who has endorsements from Sarah Palin and the meat cutter at his local supermarket, indulges in some extreme, blood-drenched metaphor. Via Politico, here's one involving a pony:

Ted Yoho is one of the best-known large-animal veterinarians in Central Florida. So in May, when an old friend needed help castrating several miniature horses, Yoho rushed off in between radio interviews he was doing to talk about his underdog congressional campaign and lent his friend some scissors and a hand.

After the deed was done, Yoho held up the horse's testicles and proclaimed: "Washington needs a few more of these."

For rebuttal, here's Spike from My Little Pony:

Yoho is the tea party insurgent and animal doctor who earlier this month pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 cycle. With barely a shred of political experience to his name, he went up against powerful Republican incumbent (and top Planned Parenthood foe) Cliff Stearns. Stearns had a 16 to 1 campaign cash advantage... and still lost the race.

But back to Yoho's metaphorical horse-testicle-based assertion: Given congressional dudes' latest intonations on ladies' bodies, you could actually argue that the last thing Capitol Hill needs is more balls.

And now, enjoy a clip of Yoho talking to a George Bush impersonator: 

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 28, 2012

Tue Aug. 28, 2012 12:25 PM EDT

Staff Sgt. Freddie Goggins Jr. of Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division pulls the lanyard and fires a M777 howitzer at Forward Operating Base Al Masaak, southern Afghanistan, Aug. 21. Photo by Lt. Col. Daniel F. Bohmer.

Paul Ryan Defends Redefinition of Rape as Just "Stock Language"

| Tue Aug. 28, 2012 11:41 AM EDT

It's never a good sign when a politician has to restate, on more than one occasion, that he believes "rape is rape." But that's the position Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has found himself in ever since the topic of "legitimate rape" entered the national conversation. Ryan, as my colleague Nick Baumann pointed out last week, was one of the cosponsors of a measure that would have redefined the rape exception for federal funding of abortion to only include "forcible rape"—a move that could mean victims of date rape or statutory rape would no longer be covered.

Here's Ryan trying to explain his position on rape in an appearance on Fox News, via Politico:

Asked on Fox about having supported legislation that referred to rape as "forcible rape" Monday, Ryan said that was "stock language" that has been used in many bills.
"Look, all these bills were bills to stop taxpayer financing of abortion. Most American agree with us, including pro-choice Americans — that we shouldn’t use hardworking taxpayer dollars to finance abortion," the Wisconsin lawmaker told Bret Baier.
"Rape is rape, period," he said, repeating a phrase he has uttered many times since last week. "This is language that was stock language used for lots of different bills, bills I didn’t author. And that language was removed to be very clear and I agree with that. Removing that language so that we are very clear. Rape is rape. Period. End of story."

This indicates a few things. For one, Paul Ryan either didn't really bother to find out what the specific language regarding rape really meant before he agreed to cosponsor the measure, or he didn't care and in fact does think that some rapes are rapier than others. And his plea that the bill merely used "stock language" suggests that he and other lawmakers were just borrowing the legislative language happily provided by anti-abortion groups such as the National Right to Life Committee who believe that the government should be in the business of deciding which rape victims are worthy of abortion funding.