Mojo - September 2012

Abortion Rights Group Buys Dr. Tiller's Clinic

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:03 PM EDT

The Wichita clinic where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions may soon be back. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Trust Women Foundation has purchased the building that housed Women’s Health Care Services and intends to begin providing services there once again.

The clinic has been closed since an anti-abortion extremist murdered Tilller while the doctor served as an usher in his church in May 2009. The Trust Women Foundation and Political Action Committee is led by Julie Burkhart, a former spokesperson for the clinic and longtime pro-choice activist in Kansas. The Eagle reports that the foundation filed paperwork with the Secretary of State on Tuesday to purchase the clinic from Dr. Tiller's widow.

This is big news for supporters of abortion rights in Wichita, which has had no abortion clinics since Tiller's murder.  Anti-abortion activists within the Kansas legislature have been doing their best to make it really difficult to provide abortions in the state. Last year, legislators passed strict new building codes that threatened to close down all the clinics in the state. A judge blocked the law from taking effect, but the legal wrangling over it continues. Tiller's clinic would likely have to make significant changes if the courts let that law go forward.

Meanwhile, the Kansas medical board has continued to relentlessly pursue Tiller's former colleague, Kristin Neuhaus, taking away her license in June for her work at the clinic. Another doctor training to provide abortions in the city has been blocked by her landlord and had her life threatened by anti-abortion activists.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Female Mega-Donors Emerging This Election Year

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 4:27 PM EDT

Big spenders are coming out in support of Women Vote!, a reproductive rights Super PAC, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. Women Vote! is affiliated with EMILY's List, the political action committee dedicated to electing pro-choice women.

In August, the super-PAC brought in $1.9 million, including five six-figure donations from individual female donors. As CRP has pointed out before, this is significant, as there is generally a giant gender gap in political donations; 70 percent of donors for the 2012 cycle have been male. But the donations to Women Vote! indicate that some very wealthy women are making major campaign expenditures this year. The super-PAC has also received several big donations from other progressive organizations: the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund ($325,000) and America Votes ($151,000).

Here are the women donors who made big contributions in August:

But in August, Barbara Stiefel, a Florida philanthropist who had previously donated $1 million to Priorities USA, the super PAC backing President Barack Obama, wrote a $250,000 check to Women Vote! Laura Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, gave $200,000; if that name sounds familiar, it's because her father, Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, made headlines earlier this year when it was reported that his own outside spending group, the Ending Spending Fund was considering launching a major campaign against Obama. New York City philanthropist Shelley Rubin also gave $150,000 last month, and two other women—Mitzi Henderson and Barbara Fish Lee—gave $100,000 apiece.

EMILY's List says the big donations are a result of the increasing attention to reproductive rights and other women-centric issues this election year. "Finding out that Republicans want to roll back the clock that far for women has been a shock—and folks are absolutely waking up to the need to have more Democratic women in government at every level," EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock said in a statement to Mother Jones.

Connecticut Absentee Voters Get Blank Ballots

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 12:09 PM EDT
Sergej Khakimullin /Shutterstock

If you're overseas and voting by mail in Connecticut this November, grab an aspirin and a pen with lots of ink. The state's Supreme Court hadn't resolved a partisan scuffle over who gets to be listed first on the ballot this year before overseas absentee ballots were dropped in the mail, so those voters will have to write in all the candidates' names themselves, according to Deputy Secretary of State James Spallone. 

The Connecticut Republican Party challenged (PDF) Secretary of State Denise Merrill's decision to list Democratic candidates first on the ballot this year, arguing that it violated a statute mandating that the party whose candidate for governor got the most votes in the last election gets to be listed first in all ballots. (The esoteric law dates back more a century, Spallone says—before suffrage was extended to women and most African-Americans in the state.)

New Polls Show Majority of Americans Don't Like Romney's "47 Percent" Remarks

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 11:34 AM EDT

Memo to Mitt Romney: The majority of Americans do not agree with you that the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes are Obama-voting government mooches who believe they're "victims" and won't take responsibility for their own lives.

That's a key takeaway from two new national polls from Bloomberg News and the Washington Post-ABC News. The Bloomberg poll asked respondents for their reaction to Romney's 47 percent remark. Fifty-one percent said Romney is "wrong and most Americans work hard and sometimes need some help from the government." Forty-one percent said Romney is "right and more people should be able to make it on their own." (Eight percent said they weren't sure.)

Romney fared worse in the Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-four percent reacted negatively to his 47 percent remarks, while 32 percent reacted positively. The partisan split on the 47 percent line is fairly predictable: More than 75 percent disliked the remarks, and two-thirds of Republicans agreed with Romney. What's most notable, perhaps, is how those coveted independent voters felt about the 47 percent claim: 57 percent of indies felt negatively while just 27 percent saw them favorably.

The Washington Post's Jon Cohen points out that the backlash to Romney's 47 percent statement coincides with an uptick in voters' negative views of Romney and his campaign. Sixty-one percent of those polled hold a negative view of how Romney's running his campaign. "That number," Cillizza writes, "is up significantly from July—the near-certain result of the much-publicized comments by Romney."

In case you missed it, you can watch the full Romney fundraiser video—including the 47 percent comments—here.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 26, 2012

Wed Sep. 26, 2012 10:15 AM EDT

Cpl. Bobby Liverman, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, clears an area during Operation Southern Strike III in the village of Jandad Kalay, district of Spin Boldak, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2012. US Army photo.

WATCH: In Pro-Obama Ad, Samuel L. Jackson Tells Complacent Voters to "Wake the Fuck Up!"

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Hollywood megastar and snake-punching virtuoso Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead in a new ad from The Jewish Council for Education & Research (JCER), a liberal super-PAC. It is nearly four minutes long. It is unabashedly pro-Obama. It will be shown exclusively online. Oh, and it's titled, "Wake the Fuck Up."

Jackson, 63, narrates in a Seussian fashion (Whoville!), while paying homage to the audiobook he recorded for Adam Mansbach's children's book sendup Go the Fuck to Sleep. The clip consists primarily of the actor, clad in jeans and a black beret, magically appearing in houses and hurling obscenities and Democratic talking points at unsuspecting white suburbanites.

In one scene, for example, Jackson intones:

Sorry, my friend, but there's no time to snore.
And out-of-touch millionaires just declared war.
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay.
We're all on our own if Romney has his way.
And he's against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck.
So I strongly suggest that you wake the fuck up.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Joe Walsh, Flailing in the Polls, Sticks it to the 47 Percent

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) probably could have picked a better time to come rushing to the defense of Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed the first-term tea partier trailing Democratic challenger and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth by 14 points (52–38) in his Chicagoland district. Just 35 percent of voters said they approved of his job performance.

But Walsh, a bombthrower famous for overheated floor statements and dismissive critiques of his political rivals—he recently suggested that Duckworth, a double-amputee, was not a "hero" because she talks about her military service too much—doesn't appear to be toning things down. While other Republican candidates across the country are distancing themselves from Mitt Romney's suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are moochers, Walsh came to the GOP presidential candidate's defense at a campaign stop on Saturday in Roselle, Illinois:

He didn't say it as probably exquisitely as he should have said it...But what Mitt Romney meant to say was this: Here's why this is the most important election in our nation's history: Because we are at a very scary point right now where there are too many Americans dependent upon government right now. Or as a very wise woman told me in the last campaign, we have too many people in the wagon and not enough people pulling the wagon. And if we don't get this election right, the people pulling the wagon are going to put the wagon down and say, "You know what? I've had it, I'm tired." That's what this election is all about.

Here's the video, captured by the liberal super PAC CREDO:

Walsh's hardline on the 47 percent would make a bit more sense if Romney were at least polling well in the district. But Walsh has hitched his horse to the wrong wagon: Only 40 percent of voters in the 8th district say they'll vote for the former Massachusetts governor this fall.

Corn on MSNBC: Romney's Foreign Policy Fail

Tue Sep. 25, 2012 6:09 PM EDT

After a rough week in the polls, Mitt Romney took to speaking at the Clinton Global Intiative. Mother Jones' DC Bureau Chief David Corn talks about Romney's rather confused foreign policy with MSNBC's Martin Bashir.

See the New Full-Page "Seriously Ugly and False Anti-Obama Ad"

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 3:06 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Times political writer Adam Smith has flagged this full-page ad from Sunday's Sarasota Herald-Tribune—a reliably balanced reporter, he calls it a "seriously ugly and false anti-Obama ad":

Screenshot courtesy of Sarasota Herald-TribuneAccording to Smith, the ad has also run this month in tiny dailies all over Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It was created by the Government Is Not God Political Action Committee, the 18-year-old soft-money vehicle of religious conservative crusader William Murray (who is the son of famed atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, as well as a big supporter of Todd Akin). It's hard to say exactly what electoral impact the GINGPAC ad will have, especially since Murray himself came out in the primaries as a Santorum-loving Romney-resister:

By the way, Murray—who lists his favorite books as the King James Bible and the Annapolis Book of Seamanship—is not a Texan; he hails from Maryland and the District of Columbia. This is what he sounds like when not wearing a cowboy hat and pandering to Lone Star staters:

More Fallout From "47 Percent" Video: MoJo Joins the Lexicon

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 1:55 PM EDT

Under "surreptitious" in the dictionary, see us.

When Mother Jones' intrepid copy editor, Ian Gordon, was perusing the Merriam-Webster home page this morning, he noticed a funny thing on the site's "Trend Watch" section—a reference to the "47 percent" video of Mitt Romney released by our DC bureau chief, David Corn, last week:

Screenshot courtesy of Merriam-Webster.comScreenshot courtesy of Merriam-Webster.comThe dictionary folks say lookups of the word "surreptitious" spiked last Tuesday:

In the main campaign story of the week, surreptitious was widely used to describe the video of Mitt Romney speaking to wealthy supporters at a fundraising dinner and discussing low-income voters.

The video was apparently taken without the knowledge of the candidate or others at the event.

Surreptitious means "done, made, or acquired by stealth," or "clandestine." It comes from the Latin verb that means "to snatch secretly."

Okay, I'll stop without further comment, before they update their page and list us under "bluster" and "hubris." Meanwhile, true fans of verbiage can continue to puzzle over which "vulgar, unprintable phrase" an anonymous adviser used to describe the Romney campaign to the New York Times!