Political MoJo

Gov. Susana Martinez Reacts to Mother Jones Story: "One of the Most Desperate and Despicable Attacks"

| Wed Apr. 16, 2014 10:16 AM PDT
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

On Wednesday morning, Mother Jones published a cover story about New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising star in the Republican Party, that draws on previously unreleased audio recordings, emails, and text messages. In these audio tapes, she and her aides use crude and often offensive language when referring to political opponents. Martinez's reelection campaign immediately responded.

In an email blast to supporters, Martinez attacked the messenger, calling Mother Jones a "tabloid" and "one of the most radically liberal publications in the country." Martinez accused Mother Jones of "peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago." She claimed that "this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico." In the email, Martinez does admit to calling 2010 Democratic opponent Diane Denish "the B-word," adding, "I admit it—I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life." Her email ends with a plea for a campaign contribution.

Her email neglects to address several parts of the story, such as the reports that Martinez's top adviser, Jay McCleskey, wrote "I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH!" about a fellow GOP pol, and that a former Martinez adviser mocked New Mexico political icon Ben Luján for his English-speaking abilities, saying he "sounds like a retard."

Martinez's campaign has also created a petition describing Mother Jones as "the far-left's premier magazine" and calls the story "one of the most desperate and despicable attacks to date." The Martinez campaign's message goes on to ask supporters to sign a petition ostensibly to "show the D.C. liberal media that their desperate attacks have no place in our state."

Here's the petition:

Martinez's campaign has made full use of social media in its pushback, buying a promoted tweet on Twitter urging people to "stand with me":

Similarly, she asked her Facebook friends to "stand with me against the D.C. liberal media and show them that their Washington-style attacks have no place in our state."

Martinez did retweet a link to Mother Jones' story that was tweeted by Buzzfeed writer McKay Coppins—only to delete her tweet 14 seconds later.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 16, 2014

Wed Apr. 16, 2014 3:00 AM PDT

Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to enter the well deck aboard the USS San Diego during Amphibious Squadron Marine Expedtionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) off the coast of San Diego, Calif. April 8, 2014. PMINT is the first at-sea event in the MEU’s predeployment training program at which they have the opportunity to conduct amphibious based operations while embarked on a ship. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan/Released)

Everyone on the Far Right Loves Militia-Backed Rancher Cliven Bundy—Except Glenn Beck

| Tue Apr. 15, 2014 2:36 PM PDT
An armed Cliven Bundy supporter

Conservative activists and media outlets have generally embraced the cause of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher who inspired a gang of protesters—many of them armed—to face off with federal law enforcement this weekend. But one figure on the right has taken a surprising stand against Bundy's supporters: former Fox News host Glenn Beck.

On Saturday, a large group of anti-government protesters converged on a Bureau of Land Management base camp in rural Nevada to protest the federal government's seizure of Bundy's cows. Bundy had for years grazed hundreds of cattle on protected lands controlled by the federal government and refused to pay the resulting court-ordered fines. This month, after nearly 20 years of consistently beating Bundy in court, the BLM moved to confiscate his cattle. A judge ordered Bundy not to physically interfere. In response, Bundy assembled protesters to confront the BLM officers who were holding his livestock.

After a dramatic, two-day standoff, federal officers backed down and handed the cows over to Bundy to avoid violence. Astonishing photos from the scene show protesters perched on a highway overpass and hunkered down in the brush with long-range weapons; one photo appears to show a man on the bridge aiming down at the BLM base camp.

The involvement of armed militiamen—and Bundy's promise to "do whatever it takes" to reclaim his cattle—doesn't appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause célèbre. Before this weekend's confrontation, National Review Online, Fox & Friends, and American Thinker all blamed the government for mounting tensions. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, Media Matters reported. Sean Hannity, who on Friday hailed Bundy as a capitalist hero—"When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer"—invited Bundy back on the air Monday for a second, easygoing interview in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.

Beck, though, in an episode of his show broadcast Monday, said he fully supports Bundy's principles but couldn't look past his supporters:

The problem here is that Bundy hasn't been all that clear on this…He's a rancher. And so he's not used to making his sound bite case in this sound bite world. But the problem with that lack of clarity is some of the supporters that he's attracting. He is drawing in the decent, small government proponents from groups such as the tea party…I know there's some people that listen [to] and watch me. And they are sick of the government regulations hampering themselves, small businesses, farming, I'm with you on that.

But when you're not really super clear, it also draws another element, drawing in the violent, anti-government groups. The, I think, right's version of Occupy Wall Street. We did some research online on PsyID [a social-media analysis tool] today, and found that there's about 10 to 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening. They don't care what the facts are—they just want a fight. And you see it in some of these pictures.

At this point, video played behind Beck of protesters scuffling with federal officers.

I don't know who these people are. They all might be great. But here they are, they're acting, they're enraged, they're enraged. And they're confronting the federal government officials. I get that. But this is not the way to win…I want to be clear, 100 percent clean on one thing all of us should agree on, and unfortunately, I don't believe we do, both left and right. And that is, we need to agree on, we condemn those who use violence. Inciting violence doesn't solve anything. I vehemently denounce anyone who even hints at such tactics…People can spot anger and vengeance from a mile away. And when I saw that video where they were lunging and jumping at the agents, calling them scumbags, I thought, this is our side's Occupy Wall Street. It's happening all over again, and it will end the same way.

Beck didn't specifically call out the armed protesters, and the Blaze, a website that is part of his media empire, played up the federal government's role in bringing the crisis to a head. Beck claims the facts of the federal government's actions against Bundy are "convoluted" (when they're pretty well established) and equates heavily armed protesters with Occupy Wall Street. But there's no doubt that he took a stand against the extreme elements among Bundy's supporters. And when Glenn Beck approximates a reasonable position on the same night that a blood moon rises, you've got to second-guess the folks who say the world isn't coming to an end.

This is the Best/Worst Campaign Video of 2014

| Tue Apr. 15, 2014 1:54 PM PDT

Depending on where you stand, this is either the best piece of political performance art of the 2014 election or the worst. Or maybe it's both. Supporters of embattled Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the June primary, have composed this charming jingle, asking Cochran to "please come home." These kinds of supporter-generated videos can often be tacky and amateurish, or woefully off-message. But this—this is art. Watch:

Lyrics below:

Won't you come home Thad Cochran,
Won't you come home,
You've been there way too long,
We sent you up there, to do what's right,
But now you done us wrong

Remember that crazy health care, that gun control,
You voted for was oh so wrong,
Well, it's really a shame,
And you're partly to blame,
Thad Cochran won't you please come home.

2nd Chorus

Won't you come home Thad Cochran,
Won't you come home,
Our party's gone off track,
With Chris McDaniel, we've got a chance,
To bring our party back,

So pack your suitcase, and grab your hat,
Then catch a ride and get here fast,
We know you did your best,
But it's time for a rest,
We hope this term be your last!

3rd Chorus
Won't you come home Thad Cochran,
Won't you come home,
You're spending way too much,
You've raised the ceiling of debt so high,
This country can't catch up...

And your pork barrel, is filled so full,
I think that it just may bust!
Please hear our call, as we plead one and all,
Thad Cochran, won't you please come home.

Note: Thad Cochran doesn't wear a hat:

Pete Marovich/ ZumaPress

 

GOP Senate Candidate Looks For Help From Radio Host Who Wants to Jail Gays

| Tue Apr. 15, 2014 7:36 AM PDT

Mississippi GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel appeared on a radio program on Monday hosted by a controversial social conservative activist who has called for gay people to be imprisoned and has said the "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Obama White House.

McDaniel, a state senator who is challenging incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran for the GOP nomination, has taken heat over the last week for past comments he made on his own radio show, "The Right Side," which were reported by Mother Jones in January. The comments, recently picked up by the Wall Street Journal, featured a riff on the merits of using taxpayer funds to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. "If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain't paying taxes," the tea party favorite said in 2006. His appearance Monday on "Focal Point" with host Bryan Fischer, the issues director for the American Family Association, was an opportunity to clear the record.

"They're desperate," McDaniel told Fischer. "And when these politicians and the establishment in Washington feels threatened, they always react with desperation. I was a conservative talk radio [host], actually it was a Christian conservative talk radio show for three and a half four years I hosted that. Two hours a day. And this is the best they've got? Most of it is way out of context anyway. They were talking about reparations, for example—let me be real clear, I'm against reparations. I don't know why that's a bad thing to say. Maybe Sen. Cochran's for reparations? He should clarify that for us. But I'm against it. And some of the other things, we were just sitting there, no harm was meant."

In other clips from "The Right Side," McDaniel alleged that Democrats were plotting to make polygamy legal in all 50 states, and that Hollywood was whitewashing the evils of Islam. He mocked San Francisco "elites" by alleging a correlation between IQ and "gender misidentification," and blamed an uptick of gun violence in Canada on hip-hop. Shootings, McDaniels claimed, are "a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can't stand education."

But Fischer's show is an unusual choice for a politician looking to launder his reputation as a conservative shock-jock. In March, Fischer told his listeners that while he didn't think President Obama is the antichrist, "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Oval Office. He has said that people turn to homosexuality (which he'd like criminalized) when the Devil takes over their brains. He once called for a Sea World Orca whale to be Biblically stoned after it killed its trainer. He said the secretarial job in his office is "reserved for a woman because of the unique things that God has built into women." Even some Republicans have distanced themselves from Fischer—at the 2011 Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Mitt Romney condemned Fischer's "poisonous language."

McDaniel has received the backing of major Republican groups, including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, but still faces an uphill battle. An April survey from Harper Polling gave Cochran a double-digit edge over McDaniel, 52–35.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 15, 2014

Tue Apr. 15, 2014 7:17 AM PDT

Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien, 6th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Headquarters and Service Company, Scout Snipers Platoon, engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., March 28, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/Released)

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A Federal Judge Just Struck Down Part of Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban. See How Fast the Movement Is Spreading.

| Mon Apr. 14, 2014 12:23 PM PDT

Ohio made strides toward marriage equality on Monday when a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state is unconstitutional.

The ruling, from US District Judge Timothy H. Black of Cincinnati, overturns part of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. Ohio voters approved the amendment in 2004. "The record before this court ... is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state's ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Black wrote in his opinion.

Black didn't clear the way for same-sex couples to obtain marriage certificates in Ohio. But it does afford Ohio's same-sex couples the same rights under the law as any other married couple—so long as the ruling stands. On Tuesday, Black will decide whether to stay his ruling pending an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. 

Black announced that he would compel the state of Ohio to recognize existing marriages on April 4, after he heard arguments from three couples challenging the ban. The three lesbian couples were suing to place both parents' names on the birth certificates of their newborn children. For the couples, the ruling is a victory no matter what—Black has said he won't stay the part of the decision that compels Ohio to list both parents on their child's birth certificate.

Ohio is the seventh state in the past six months where a federal judge has struck a blow to same-sex marriage bans. In March, a federal judge in Michigan handed down an opinion that would allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and a federal judge in Kentucky moved the state closer to recognizing out-of-state marriages. Judges in Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Texas have also issued rulings striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

We've added Ohio to our animated map illustrating how fast the right to marriage is sweeping the county:

gay marriage map gif
Matt Connolly and Molly Redden

A few things to note about the map: Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Texas are not issuing marriage licenses due to the appeals, although in Michigan and Utah, several hundred couples were married in the time it took the states to prepare appeals.

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, characterizes Wisconsin's domestic partnerships as limited—the state law enumerates 43 rights same-sex partners enjoy, whereas married couples of the opposite sex are entitled to more than 200. Under Wisconsin law, it is illegal for same-sex couples to travel out of state in order to marry; couples who do so, and continue living in Wisconsin, risk a $10,000 fine and nine months in prison.

The map does not show the District of Columbia, which has issued licenses to same-sex couples since March 2010. California issued marriage licenses beginning in June of 2008 but stopped doing so that November, when voters passed Proposition 8. A Supreme Court decision overturned Prop. 8 in June 2013.

LISTEN: Alleged Kansas Gunman Frazier Glenn Miller Discusses the Tea Party, Obama, and Ron Paul

| Mon Apr. 14, 2014 10:23 AM PDT

In a 2010 radio interview, Frazier Glenn Miller, the man suspected of killing three people Sunday at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement center in Kansas, said he was interested in the tea party, voiced support for then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and spoke approvingly of Ron Paul, the Texas Republican congressman and presidential candidate. In late April 2010, Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, was a guest on The David Pakman Show, a nationally syndicated left-of-center radio and television program. At the time, Miller was running for US Senate as an independent in his home state of Missouri with the slogan "It's the Jews, Stupid," and Pakman pressed Miller on his extreme views.

During the interview, Miller was unabashed about his anti-Semitic positions. When asked whether he thought the United States would be better off if Hitler had succeeded, Miller responded, "Absolutely, the whole world would…Hitler would have created a paradise on Earth, particularly for white people. But he would have been fair to other people as well." He added, "Germans are blamed collectively because of the alleged so-called Holocaust."

Not surprisingly, Miller denigrated most American politicians, but cited one positively: "If I had my way [all US senators] would be in jail right now for treason, if not hung from a sturdy oak tree…Ron Paul is the only independent politician, representative in Washington." He also spoke highly of another conservative: "Patrick Buchanan, he's a great man, he's a great historian, he's one of the very few journalists who has the courage to speak out against Jewish domination in the country." Miller called Howard Stern "a Jew liar." When asked whether he supported the tea party, Miller replied, "The school's still out on them. They're a new movement. I'm watching them closely. I suspect, however, they'll be infiltrated by the Jews and therefore led into defeat."

During the interview, Pakman asked Miller whom he would "elect, deport, and waterboard"—given the choices of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Fed chair Alan Greenspan. Miller answered, "I like Obama more than the other two, by far." He chose to elect Obama, deport Greenspan, and waterboard Biden. Miller said, "I have a great deal of admiration [for] Louis Farrakhan," and he called Ahmadinejad "a great man" because he "has guts and he tells the truth about the Jews."

"I'm a convicted felon and I'm proud of it," Miller boasted, noting that he "was convicted of declaring war on the federal government and possession of illegal weapons." He added that Jews "were responsible for my conviction that prompted me to go underground and declare war…Morris Dees mainly, he's a Jew that runs the Southern Poverty Law Center." (The SPLC monitors hate groups.)

In November 2013, Pakman had an exchange of emails with Miller in which Miller noted that he was "close friends" with Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who had attempted to form an all-white town in Leith, North Dakota. According to Miller, the two had worked together "on several White Nationalist projects, including the Aryan Alternative newspaper." Referring to the recent news that a DNA test indicated that Cobb had African ancestry, Miller told Pakman, "I can't believe a man as intelligent as you, actually believes Craig Cobb is an octoroon. Surely, you know it's just another jewsmedia fraud."

The Lawyer Behind the Supreme Court's Latest Campaign Finance Decision Has a New Cause: Sarah Palin for Senate

| Mon Apr. 14, 2014 9:23 AM PDT

When the Supreme Court recently demolished yet another chunk of the nation's campaign finance laws, Dan Backer arguably cheered louder than anyone. It was Backer, a Washington, DC-area attorney active in conservative politics, who had convinced an Alabama businessman named Shaun McCutcheon to challenge the government's limit on the number of candidates, party committees, and political action committees an individual can contribute to in a single election cycle. (The basic limits on how much money that donor can give to each candidate, party, or PAC remain intact.) Backer, who represented McCutcheon, responded to the news of the Supreme Court's decision by tweeting (in apparent reference to William Wallace in Braveheart): "FREEEEDOMMMMM!!!!"

Backer's victory is shining some light on another high-profile cause of his: Convincing Sarah Palin to run for US Senate.

In an email headlined "Palin for Senate" recently blasted out by a PAC called the Tea Party Leadership Fund, Backer writes, "Sarah's the proven leader we need." He goes on, "She has a better grasp on world politics, and she knows what it means to cherish and protect our American freedoms far better than THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE LEADING THE FREE WORLD." Backer slams incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for spending "too much time in Washington, DC, begging the Obama administration for favors rather than representing the good people of Alaska." Palin supporters need to act quick, Backer warns: The window for her to get into the race "has almost closed." And so Backer asks recipients to sign a petition and gather enough signatures to "to push Sarah Palin over the top in a critical run for Alaska's Senate seat in 2014."

In an interview, Backer said almost 100,000 people had signed the Palin for Senate petition. If Palin did enter the race,he said the Tea Party Leadership PAC would bolster her candidacy with direct mail and radio ads. "Nobody's going to be a greater agent for change than Sarah Palin from Alaska," Backer told me. "She will bring something to the race and she will disrupt the Senate. And disruption is good."

Read the email:

 

Backer's plea isn't entirely out of left field. Palin has made noises about running for Senate in Alaska. Last summer, she said on Sean Hannity's radio show that she was considering a run. "I've considered it because people have requested me considering it," she said. "But I'm still waiting to see what the lineup will be and hoping that...there will be some new blood, new energy, not just kind of picking from the same old politicians in the state." But this email comes when it's getting late for a possible Palin campaign. (The filing deadline is six weeks away.) Right now, the much-watched Alaska Senate race pits Begich against Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Most polling shows Begich in the lead, but the seat is considered a toss-up Senate race that could determine which party ends up controlling the upper chamber.

Backer's email asks for more than just a signature; it includes a plea to donate $5 or more to the Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC. (Backer is the PAC's treasurer.) A cynical political observer might wonder if this "Palin for Senate" effort could be more of a fundraising ploy than a realistic attempt to get Palin into the race. Campaign records show that the Tea Party Leadership Fund has so far raked in $3.8 million in the 2013-14 election cycle, and most of that money—almost $9 of every $10—has gone to fundraising, legal fees (to Backer's own firm), consulting, and other related expenses.

But Backer says the Tea Party Leadership PAC has spent so much non-electoral money because it was building its donor lists during 2013, an off year. This year, he says, the PAC plans to be a counterweight to the outside money from corporations and trade associations backing establishment Republican candidates. "We knew this was going to be a tough cycle and a tough year," he said. "You need resources you can put on the ground when you need them."

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 14, 2014

Mon Apr. 14, 2014 6:48 AM PDT

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters from 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade "Wings of Destiny" transport Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans" 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), on to Landing Zone Red Crow during Operation Golden Eagle here April 8, 2014. The four-day exercise was the first brigade-size air assault operation conducted by the 101st Abn. Div. in more than a decade and featured Soldiers from 3rd BCT and 101st CAB moving more than 1,100 Soldiers and sling-loading more than 20 pieces of equipment. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado, 3rd BCT Public Affairs)