Political MoJo

Donald Trump Supporters Are Even Scarier Than You Think. These Numbers Prove It.

| Wed Feb. 24, 2016 3:32 PM EST

In an election season dominated by racist and xenophobic language on the right, Donald Trump distinguishes himself even among his more outspoken Republican challengers. And according to a New York Times analysis of voters, so do his supporters, a majority of whom carry deeply intolerant attitudes toward gay people, Muslims, immigrants, and African Americans.

In fact, the report found 20 percent of Trump's base disagree with the freeing of slaves after the Civil War, and a staggering 70 percent would still like to see the Confederate flag flying above official grounds in their states.

One-third of Trump's primary supporters in South Carolina favored "barring gays and lesbians from entering the country." According to the Times, this is more than twice the support this proposal received by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio backers.

Another third of his supporters think Japanese internment was an appropriate measure.

The analysis, which used polling data from recent YouGov and Public Policy Polling results, paints a disturbing portrait of the kind of voters with whom Trump's inflammatory messages are resonating. It could in part explain how the Republican fron-trunner has managed to clear yet another primary victory in Nevada this week.

For more on how Trump successfully tapped into South Carolina's angry and xenophobic voters, read our deep-dive on how the state became Trump country.

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Donald Trump Wins Nevada Caucuses

| Wed Feb. 24, 2016 1:00 AM EST

Coming off big wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Donald Trump secured his position as the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday night with another resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses.

The major networks called the race for Trump shortly after the caucuses concluded. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas were locked in a battle for second place, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson trailing.

Trump, who has broken all the usual campaign rules with brash promises that range from building a wall along the Mexican border to banning Muslims from entering the country, has now won the last three caucuses or primaries. He enters the Super Tuesday contests on March 1 with a commanding lead in the delegate count.

Black Students Fed Up With Racial Stereotyping Walk Out of San Francisco’s Top School

| Tue Feb. 23, 2016 8:05 PM EST
Lowell High School Black Student Union members at the San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco's Lowell High School is the city's most coveted public, elite school that posts some of the highest test scores in the country. But when it comes to the treatment of its black students, young activists argue that the school is flunking—and needs to change. That's the main message about 25 members of Lowell High's Black Student Union delivered to the City Hall and San Francisco Unified School District today. The students walked out of classes in the morning and then marched toward the Civic Center area of the city, where they were greeted—unexpectedly—by several San Francisco school board members and San Francisco school chief Richard Carranza.

The protests were sparked by a number of incidents, but the most recent was a sign that was posted on a window at the school’s library earlier this month that read, "Black History Month" and included a Twitter hashtag below that read "#gang." Chy'na Davis, a sophomore at Lowell High, told Mother Jones that while it was clear the message was offensive to black people, it took several days for the school administration to remove it. Davis said she appreciated that the school held an assembly to discuss the issue, but said that most of her friends who are not black left the meeting without an understanding of why the incident was offensive to black students.

Principal of Lowell High School, Andrew Ishibashi said that as soon as the administration learned about the poster, they removed it. "There is a possibility that it was up but it was not reported," Ishibashi told Mother Jones.

"The poster was a straw on the camel's back," Davis explained, while five of her peers nodded in agreement. "There are so many small, daily incidents and comments that stereotype us." Just last month, she says, a student asked her, "Did you eat fried chicken this weekend?" Another student joked to her friend while walking by Davis, "See, I have black friends. I'm ghetto."

Kristina Rizga/Mother Jones

According to several students at the walkout today, some teachers intervene when they hear offensive remarks toward black students, but most don't. There isn't enough black history being taught at Lowell or discussions of police brutality or the Black Lives Matter movement, Davis and other members of the Black Student Union told Mother Jones. "We just feel like our individual complaints are not taken seriously by the school. So, we decided to take action together," said Davis. She added that today's walkouts were inspired by the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Lowell High school has 2,650 students, and only 2 percent of them are African American. In a letter sent to students shortly after Lowell High school administration removed the offensive sign, school principal Andrew W. Ishibashi said the school would institute more cultural-sensitivity training for students and staff.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court Gave a Bizarre Explanation for Restricting the Abortion Pill

| Tue Feb. 23, 2016 6:59 PM EST

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld restrictions on the abortion pill, but the justices also noted that "by the state's own evidentiary materials, more restrictions on abortions result in higher complication rates and in decreased women's safety."

Since the Food and Drug Administration gave its approval to mifepristone—a.k.a. the abortion pill—in 2000, more than 2 million women have ended their pregnancies using medication alone. The law in question, which went into effect in 2014, requires physicians to abide by a decade-old FDA protocol when administering abortion medication. That protocol includes high dosages of abortion drugs (mifepristone is one of two drugs used) and three visits to the doctor's office—requirements that medical experts describe as unnecessary, as well as less effective and more expensive than the off-label use of these drugs. The FDA protocol also makes the medication harder to tolerate—failure rates more than double compared with those from off-label use, and almost every woman experiences at least one severe side effect like nausea, vomiting, or cramps.

That's why, when prescribing abortion medication, over 80 percent of physicians follow an off-label method, developed by medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and supported by the World Health Organization. That regimen has fewer side effects and a lower failure rate than the FDA method. And it can be used later in pregnancy: Physicians typically prescribe abortion drugs until the ninth week of pregnancy, while the FDA regimen can only be used until the seventh week.

Abortion rights groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, sued Oklahoma in 2014, arguing that the law ignores medical evidence and harms women.

The court on Tuesday ultimately upheld the law and ruled that it doesn't violate the constitution, even though it's bad public health. And one justice, Douglas Combs, wrote an opinion in which he concurred with the court but questioned the law.

"Once again, those who do not practice medicine have determined to insert themselves between physicians and their patients, with the insistence they know what is best when it comes to the standard of care," wrote Combs. "The medical community should take heed: now that the Legislature has declared itself willing to dictate medical protocol and practice within this limited context, what areas of the practice of medicine are next?"

The Clinton-Sanders Ad War Shows How Black Lives Matter Reshaped the Race

| Tue Feb. 23, 2016 4:52 PM EST

On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, competing for African American voters in South Carolina, released a new radio ad featuring film director and actor Spike Lee enthusiastically talking up the record of "my brother Bernie Sanders" in fighting racism.

"When Bernie gets in the White House, he will do the right thing!" Lee says in the spot, a nod to the movie that made him famous. "How can we be sure?" he continues. "Bernie was at the March on Washington with Dr. King. He was arrested in Chicago for protesting segregation in public schools. He fought for wealth and education and inequality throughout his whole career. No flipping, no flopping. Enough talk. Time for action."

The high-energy Spike Lee ad is one of many in the ongoing ad war between Sanders and front-runner Hillary Clinton. Last week, Republican candidates blanketed the Palmetto State with ads that amounted to a million-dollar circular firing squad. The ad blitzes from Sanders and Clinton—primarily targeting hip-hop, gospel, and R&B radio stations—zero in on serious topics: police violence, mass incarceration, and inequality.

The ads in South Carolina, where more than half the Democratic electorate is black, were always going to be a little different than the ads in uber-white New Hampshire. But listen to an hour or two of drive-time radio, and it becomes clear how different the battle lines in South Carolina are from those in the three states that voted before it—and how the work of civil rights activists over the last few years has changed the dynamics of the 2016 race.

"I was one of the leaders in the House to take charge and say the [Confederate] flag has to come down now," says Rep. Justin Bamberg, an African American Democrat in a Sanders ad, explaining why he switched from Clinton to the Vermont senator. "He has stood for civil rights his entire life. He marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King. Bernie Sanders will be the advocate to address the problems in the criminal justice system."

Another Sanders spot features four African American activists from South Carolina, of varying ages, outlining why they back the self-described democratic socialist. "Bernie Sanders realizes that mass incarceration, especially among young people, is a rising epidemic," says Hamilton Grant. Gloria Bomell Tinubu remarks, "We know that prison is big business; it's been privatized. And Bryanta-Booker Maxwell says of Sanders, "He is the best champion for criminal justice reform."

In another radio ad, Sanders, touting his plan to fight "institutional racism," makes a direct pitch for himself: "Millions of lives are being wrecked, families are being torn apart, we're spending huge sums of taxpayer money locking people up. It makes a lot more sense for us to be investing in education, in jobs, rather than jails and incarceration."

Pro-Clinton ads hit similar points, but with three big additions: Obama, Obama, Obama. That is, as these ads depict Clinton as a pursuer of justice and equality, they hammer home her connection to the president.

"We all worked hard to elect President Barack Obama eight years ago," a woman narrator says at the beginning of a heavily played ad aired by Priorities USA, a Clinton-backing super-PAC. "Republicans have tried to tear him down every step of the way. We can't let them hold us back. We need a president who will build on all that President Obama has done. President Obama trusted Hillary Clinton to be America's secretary of state." And the ad turns toward racism at its end: "She'll fight to remove the stains of unfairness and prejudice from our criminal justice system, so that justice is just."

Another spot from the super-PAC cites Clinton's "bold" plan to curb police brutality. And in an ad paid for directly by the Clinton campaign, former Attorney General Eric Holder, emphasizing his and Clinton's ties to Obama, hails her efforts to protect civil rights and voting rights and her support for tougher gun laws and police accountability:

The most direct reference to the Black Lives Matter movement comes in an ad in which Clinton herself says, "African Americans are more likely to be arrested by police and sentenced to longer prison terms for doing the same thing that whites do. Too many encounters with law enforcement end tragically for African Americans." A narrator cites a young Hillary's work "standing up for African American teenagers locked up with adults in South Carolina jails." Then Clinton adds, "We have to face up to the hard truth of injustice and systemic racism."

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Sanders and Clinton's fight for the airwaves is this: For all their heated exchanges on the debate stage, not a single spot goes negative.

These Charts Show How the Criminal Justice System Targets Sexual Minorities

| Tue Feb. 23, 2016 3:40 PM EST

We've long known that justice in America is not colorblind. Black men are imprisoned at about six times the rate of white men, while black women are twice as likely as white women to end up behind bars. Adding another layer to the conversation about criminal justice reform, a new report highlights how the criminal justice system also disproportionately targets lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

While only 7 percent of American teens currently identify as LGBT, around 20 percent of those in detention do.

According to the report, which was co-authored by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, LGBT people face higher incarceration rates than the general population. This is especially true for gay and lesbian teens: While an estimated 7 percent of American youth currently identify as LGBT or gender nonconforming, about 20 percent of those in detention do, according to one survey of seven juvenile detention centers.

"It used to be a crime to be LGBT in the United States, and while police are no longer raiding gay bars, LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color, are still disproportionately pushed into the criminal justice system," Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project, said in a statement.

What accounts for this disparity? The report authors point to several theories: Stigma in society, including in the workplace, puts LGBT people at increased risk for unemployment, homelessness, and involvement in survival economies like prostitution. State indecency laws and anti-prostitution laws may also target LGBT people, along with laws that seek to reduce the transmission of HIV by criminalizing certain actions by people who are infected. Discriminatory policing practices may lead to more interactions with cops, while bias during legal proceedings may lead to higher rates of incarceration. Once in prison, the report notes, LGBT people are more likely to experience sexual abuse and solitary confinement.

For a deeper look, check out the full report here.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill Announces She Has Breast Cancer

| Mon Feb. 22, 2016 5:21 PM EST

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) announced on Monday afternoon that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

McCaskill, who delivered the news on her Tumblr account, explained that she will be receiving treatment in St. Louis over the course of the next three weeks, and will enter into official congressional record the votes she would have cast during her absence.

Blocking Scalia's Replacement Could Put GOP Senators in a Bind, Poll Shows

| Mon Feb. 22, 2016 4:18 PM EST
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s courtroom chair was draped in black on February 16 to mark his death.

As Republicans and Democrats gird for a showdown over when and with whom to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the political question is which party will benefit from the battle. If a new survey is any indication, Republicans could end up sacrificing seats in the Senate if they refuse to allow a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee until after the elections in November.

The Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey Monday showing the political peril of objecting to any nominee Obama may put forward, as leading Senate Republicans have indicated they will do. The danger may be greatest for Republican senators up for reelection this year in purple states, including the subjects of the PPP survey, Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Both senators have taken the position that the next president should appoint Scalia's replacement—and both have been attacked by their Democratic challengers for holding this stance. For Republicans, whose hopes of confirming a conservative replacement for Scalia next year could hinge on retaining control of the Senate, the poll results are bad news.

In both Ohio and Pennsylvania, a majority of voters want to see a new justice confirmed this year. Among Ohioans, 58 percent want to see a new justice this year, while 35 percent would prefer to wait. Pennsylvania residents feel the same way, by a 57 percent to 40 percent margin. As PPP notes, independent voters, who could sway a tight Senate race, are even more supportive of approving a replacement this year, by 70 percent to 24 percent in Ohio and 60 percent to 37 percent in Pennsylvania.

In both states, 52 percent of respondents said they were less likely to reelect their current senator if the senator refuses to confirm any replacement no matter whom is nominated. Only 25 percent said a blanket refusal to confirm an Obama nominee would make them more likely to vote for reelection. Among independents, again, the numbers are even worse for Portman and Toomey.

The battle over Scalia's replacement is just getting started, and voters are still making up their minds about it. Both parties, as well as outside groups, are only beginning their public campaigns for and against an Obama nominee. But for Republicans hoping to hold onto the Senate—which would require the reelection of Republican senators in states such as New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Illinois, as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania—this is a first indication that obstructing a vote on the president's Supreme Court pick may take a political toll.

Here's the Full John Kasich Quote About Women and Kitchens That Got the Internet Riled Up

| Mon Feb. 22, 2016 1:21 PM EST

Ohio Gov. John Kasich caused a stir on Monday when he made comments that initially appeared to suggest his women supporters were leaving the kitchen to back him.

"How did I get elected?" said the Republican presidential candidate at a campaign event. "I didn't have anybody for me. We just got an army of people, and many women who left their kitchens to go out and to go door to door to put up yard signs for me."

That quote made the rounds on social media. But it appears to have been taken out of context. NBC News' Kailani Koenig reported:

Still, a woman in the crowd didn't take well to Kasich's remark. She told him that she would still come out to support him but would not do so from her kitchen.

"I gotcha," Kasich replied.

Kasich's campaign later responded to the outcry over the statement:

This story has been updated to include the full context of the quote.

106-Year-Old Woman Dances With the Obamas After Fulfilling Her Dream to Visit White House

| Mon Feb. 22, 2016 9:31 AM EST

106-year-old Virginia McLaurin had always dreamed of visiting the White House, and last week she finally got her chance. 

"It's an honor!" McLaurin told Obama, with both of her arms raised in excitement as she met the president. The moment was captured in a heartwarming video shared by the White House.

As McLaurin made her way to be introduced to the first lady, Obama can be heard jokingly telling her to "slow down." As the three embraced each other, the group spontaneously started to dance with joy.

"I want to be like you when I grow up!" Michelle said.

"You can!" McLaurin replied.

Dance Party with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin

What's the secret to still dancing at 106? Watch 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin fulfill her dream of visiting the White House and meeting President Obama. #BlackHistoryMonth

Posted by The White House on Sunday, February 21, 2016

McLaurin launched a social media campaign over a year ago to help fulfill her lifelong goal to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and meet the Obamas. Her visit was perfectly timed for Black History Month.

"I never thought I'd live to see a colored president," she said in a YouTube video posted in 2014. "I'm so happy."