Mojo - October 2012

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 9, 2012

Tue Oct. 9, 2012 10:19 AM EDT

Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) wait for a flight next to a UH-1Y Venom helicopter in Camp Dwyer, Helmand province, Afghanistan Oct. 4, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore.

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Abortion Rights Group Launches "Bill of Reproductive Rights"

| Tue Oct. 9, 2012 9:00 AM EDT

The Center for Reproductive Rights, known best for fighting against state and federal laws that seek to limit abortion access, is branching out. Its new "Draw the Line" campaign asks Americans to sign a "Bill of Reproductive Rights," and features a star-studded series of ads.

The first video, posted at Drawtheline.org, features Meryl Streep. Another video features Streep, Amy Poehler, Kevin Bacon, Sarah Silverman and a bunch of other stars. Here's what the "Bill of Rights" includes:

1. The right to make our own decisions about our reproductive health and future, free from intrusion or coercion by any government, group, or individual.
2. The right to a full range of safe, affordable, and readily accessible reproductive health care—including pregnancy care, preventive services, contraception, abortion, and fertility treatment—and accurate information about all of the above.
3. The right to be free from discrimination in access to reproductive health care or on the basis of our reproductive decisions.

The pledge comes as CRR marks its 20th anniversary. This year was also the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the court first allowed states to put their own limits on abortion access. It's also just ahead of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January 2013. 

Those notable milestones, coupled with the unprecedented number of new laws limiting abortion access passed in the last two years, pushed CRR to launch its new campaign, president Nancy Northup told Mother Jones. The group plans to deliver the signatures to the new president and to members of Congress after the election. 

"We knew it was time to not only continue defending in the courts, but to begin a very aggressive campaign with a clear articulation of what it is that we are seeking to establish," said Northup. The campaign calls for women's access to reproductive care to be as protected at the national level as the rights to free speech, she said. "You shouldn't have a different set of rights as a woman in Mississippi as you do in New York."

Here's the Meryl Streep video, with a cameo from Sarah Silverman:

Would an Obama Win Hurt Campaign Finance Reform?

| Tue Oct. 9, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

President Barack Obama has always had a love-hate relationship with campaign finance reform. In 2008, he backtracked on a pledge to join John McCain in accepting public financing, remarking that "we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system." He then went on to raise a record $745 million. When the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling came down in early 2010, Obama slammed it a week later in his State of the Union address, predicting that it would "open the floodgates for special interests."

More recently, Obama's campaign distanced itself from super-PACs, only to decide they're a necessary evil. Meanwhile, his campaign is on track to haul in $1 billion, even as it's claimed that Obama could be "the first president in modern history to be outspent."

Which raises the question: If Obama defeats Mitt Romney in November, will his victory weaken the opposition to Citizens United by undercutting the notion that a handful of megadonors pouring millions of dollars into super-PACs and shadowy nonprofits have the power to dictate the outcome of an election?

Corn on "Hardball": Romney Attacks Obama's Foreign Policy

Mon Oct. 8, 2012 9:42 PM EDT

Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn and The Atlantic's Steve Clemons joined Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball to discuss Mitt Romney's Monday foreign policy address, where he aggressively accused the president of "leading from behind" in foreign affairs.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

Romney's Foreign Policy Coming-Out, Part VII

| Mon Oct. 8, 2012 4:45 PM EDT
Romney giving his foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute.

The reviews of Mitt Romney's "major foreign policy speech" at the Virginia Military Institute Monday are all saying pretty much the same thing: Romney said nothing he hasn't already said, and much of what he said mirrors the current administration's policy. Romney's speech, however, seems to have focused less on introducing new policies as introducing a new Mitt.

Romney's speech took direct aim at the center of Obama's foreign policy pitch: This president is directly responsible for killing Osama bin Laden and driving Al Qaeda to the brink of defeat. Romney drew a clear link between Al Qaeda and the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, saying the assault was "the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001." It's still unclear who exactly is responsible for the attack and to what extent they're connected to Al Qaeda, but the point Romney is making is that Obama didn't finish the job, and he will. 

Bloggingheads: Voting Rights and Debate Reax

| Mon Oct. 8, 2012 3:50 PM EDT

On this episode of Adamize, The Nation/Colorlines reporter Brentin Mock and I dicuss voter ID laws and Republican "poll watcher" groups, and do a little Monday morning quarterbacking of Obama's less-than-stellar performance in his first debate with Mitt Romney:

You can check out Mock's epic piece on the conservative poll watching group True the Vote here.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 8, 2012

Mon Oct. 8, 2012 10:48 AM EDT

A soldier from the Michigan National Guard, is welcomed home by his daughter after a year long tour in Afghanistan on Sept. 28, 2012. Photo by Staff Sgt. Helen Miller/US Army.

The War in Afghanistan Turned 11 Today

| Sun Oct. 7, 2012 10:13 PM EDT

Though you may not find it highlighted on the front pages of many papers in the US, this happened 11 years ago Sunday morning:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Forty U.S. and British warplanes and an armada of warships and submarines pummeled strongholds of the al-Qaeda network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Sunday with Tomahawk cruise missiles, 500-pound gravity bombs and computer-guided bombs. The targets included five Afghan cities, which housed early warning radars, surface-to-air missiles, airfields, aircraft, military command and control installations, and terrorist camps.

So began Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) on Oct. 7, 2001. It continues to this day, albeit with a different objective. Osama bin Laden lies at the bottom of the sea. His Afghanistan-based Al Qaeda terror syndicate, which killed 2,997 people in the September 11 attacks, has been dismantled and scattered, replaced by local warlords and terror clans like the Haqqani network. The Taliban government in Kabul, which harbored bin Laden and his cohort, has been replaced with a weak, corrupt central government that appears at turns unable or unwilling to stanch the flow of violent extremism throughout the country. And participants in the American-led military coalition there continue to make the ultimate sacrifice: Authorities last week confirmed the death of the 2000th US service member in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama: The $1 Billion Candidate

| Sat Oct. 6, 2012 1:26 PM EDT
Barack Obama.

With his latest fundraising haul, Barack Obama will almost certainly set a new campaign finance milestone, becoming America's first $1 billion candidate.

By the end of August, Obama's campaign and affiliated Democratic groups had raised $762 million for his reelection effort, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. Then, on Saturday morning, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina announced that the president and the groups supporting him had raked in a huge amount of money in September: $181 million, the biggest one-month haul of the presidential election. That sum pushes the overall fundraising total for Obama's reelection machine—his campaign and the Democratic affiliates backing him—well past $900 million. Even a modest fundraising month in October means Obama and the Democrats will reach the $1 billion mark.

Obama's September total beat his August haul by $67 million, and it easily outpaces any of the monthly fundraising totals recorded by Mitt Romney's campaign and the affiliated GOP groups backing him. The Obama campaign tweeted on Saturday that 1,825,813 donors gave money to reelect Obama last month; 567,044 of those were first-time donors. The average donation in September, Messina said, was $53. "The people and the stories behind these numbers are what make this grass-roots organization so powerful," Messina wrote in an e-mail to supporters. Overall, the Obama campaign said more than 10 million people have donated to reelect the president.

Back in 2010, anonymous Democrats and GOP strategists suggested that Obama could be the first $1 billion candidate. Campaign staffers quickly shot down that idea; they said they hoped to raise "north of $750 million," on par with Obama's 2008 total. Now, however, the billion-dollar mark is very much within reach.

Obama is also certain to outraise Romney and directly affiliated Republican groups. Through August, Romney's overall reelection effort had raised $669 million, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. In all, Romney's reelection effort could raise as much as $900 million this election cycle. That would beat the campaign's own bullish goal of $800 billion.

These totals, to be clear, don't include the super-PACs and dark-money nonprofits spending heavily in 2012. Karl Rove has said his American Crossroads super-PAC and Crossroads GPS nonprofit will spend $200 million to elect Romney. Charles and David Koch and their donor network are expected to marshal as much as $400 million to defeat Obama and elect more Republicans to the US House and Senate. On the Democratic side, the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action hopes to spend between $75 million and $100 million to reelect the president.

This isn't the first super September for Obama. In September 2008, his campaign raised a record $191 million. That cash advantage proved crucial in the final weeks of the 2008 race, when Obama blitzed the airwaves with ads and pulled ahead of Republican candidate John McCain.

Obama has set a blistering fundraising pace during the 2012 election cycle. On September 28, Obama attended his 147th fundraiser of 2012, and his 214th since officially launching his reelection campaign in April 2011, according to CBS News' Mark Knoller. In other words, Obama has, on average, attended one fundraiser every 61 hours for the last 18 months. (Mitt Romney has raised money at a similarly feverish clip.)

Though his campaign has emphasized the outpouring of support from small donors, Obama has relied heavily on deep-pocketed contributors as much as grassroots supporters chipping in $30 or $40. Through June, the Obama campaign had 638 super-fundraisers, or "bundlers," who'd collected donations ranging from $50,000 to millions of dollars for the campaign. Bundlers include Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Hollywood executive Jeff Katzenberg, and actress Eva Longoria. According to the New York Times, bundlers had raised or given more than $200 million for Obama's reelection effort through May.

The road to $1 billion for Obama and the Democrats, then, is paved both with small donations and big checks brought in by some of America's biggest celebrities and business moguls. Obama wouldn't be the most successful fundraiser in history without them.

Shocker: Free Birth Control Means Fewer Abortions

| Fri Oct. 5, 2012 2:57 PM EDT

Make sure you're sitting down for this one: Free birth control leads to lower abortion rates and fewer teenage pregnancies.

I know.

That's according to a new study published on Thursday by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. The project gave free birth control to more than 9,000 local women and girls, many of whom were poor or uninsured, and tracked them for two years. There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study group, compared to the 2010 national rate of 34 per 1,000. As for abortions, there were fewer than eight per 1,000 women in the study, compared with the almost 20 per 1,000 nationally.