Political MoJo

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

| Tue Apr. 15, 2014 10:36 AM EDT

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.

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

Tue Apr. 15, 2014 10:17 AM EDT

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)

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

| Mon Apr. 14, 2014 3:23 PM EDT

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 1:23 PM EDT

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 12:23 PM EDT

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 9:48 AM EDT

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)

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White House Turned Down Request From Victims of First Fort Hood Attack for Meeting With Obama

| Sun Apr. 13, 2014 9:27 AM EDT
Retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford describes being shot in the head during the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.

During last week's memorial service for victims of April 2 Fort Hood shooting, President Barack Obama spoke about the lingering hurt from the previous attack on the base in 2009. "Part of what makes this so painful is that we've been here before," Obama said. "This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago. Once more soldiers who survived foreign war zones were struck down here at home, where they're supposed to be safe." Yet, when victims of the first Fort Hood shooting invited the president to see those wounds up close, he refused, without explaining why.

The morning of the memorial, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times during the 2009 Fort Hood rampage, requested that Obama meet briefly with victims and their families while he was on base. Lunsford's letter, which was addressed to the president's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, also described survivors' disappointment with how they had been treated:

As you may know, the President and high-ranking members of the military promised me, my family and the other Fort Hood terror attack survivors that the federal government would "make them whole." After more than four and one-half years, however, the government has yet to make good on this promise.

We believe that if the President could hear, first-hand, our plight and our mistreatment at the hands of his bureaucracy, that he would take the steps needed to set things right. Therefore, we ask for ten minutes of his time.

In the years since Major Nidal Hasan opened fire in a crowded Fort Hood medical center, killing 13 people and wounding another 32, victims have struggled to get medical care and financial benefits. This is largely because of how the incident has been labeled. Although Hasan is an avowed jihadist with ties to Al Qaeda, the Pentagon considers the attack to be workplace violence rather than terrorism or combat. Thus victims aren't eligible for many benefits and honors available to soldiers wounded or killed in action. (For more on this topic, see "The White House Broke Its Promise to the Victims of the First Fort Hood Shooting. Will History Repeat Itself?")

New Ad Hammers Gov. Andrew Cuomo For Abandoning His Pledge to Fight Corruption

| Fri Apr. 11, 2014 4:06 PM EDT

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed his new $140 billion budget into law last week, he hailed it as a "grand slam." For New York State's ethics reformers and good government groups, however, the budget was an epic flop. And now one national pro-reform group is planning to hammer Cuomo on the airwaves for failing to make good on his pledge to overhaul the state's cash-fueled, noxious brand of politics.

The new ad—paid for by the Public Campaign Action Fund, a non-profit funded by individuals, labor unions, and foundations—blasts Cuomo for signing a budget that doesn't include a so-called fair elections system for all statewide races. (The budget instead features a pilot program that half-heartedly applies the fair elections model to only this year's state comptroller race.) The ad also hits Cuomo for eliminating a commission—created by the governor just last year—devoted to rooting out corruption in state government. Public Campaign Action Fund has bought nearly $300,000 worth of airtime to run the ad, starting Saturday, for nine days in the Syracuse and Buffalo media markets.

The ad's narrator says:

When Governor Cuomo introduced his ethics and reform plan, it was going to clean up Albany. But he let the rule limiting campaign contributions get cut. Then the commission that was supposed to investigate corruption in state government got cut. And the promise to reduce the influence of big money in all state races? All cut, except for one office. And now the governor says he’s proud of what’s been achieved? Gov. Cuomo, get back to work and deliver the reform you promised.

Reform groups had pressed especially hard this year for Cuomo and the New York State legislature to overhaul how state elections are funded by implementing so-called fair elections, a campaign funding system that rewards candidates who accept lots of small donations by matching those donations with public money. This type of system is already used in New York City, where it helped progressive Bill de Blasio become mayor.

VIDEO: David Corn on Why Republican Strife Has Gotten Personal

Fri Apr. 11, 2014 1:23 PM EDT

Mother Jones DC bureau chief David Corn spoke with MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Clarence Page this week about why the fight between Rand Paul and Dick Cheney is about more than just policy. Watch here:

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 11, 2014

Fri Apr. 11, 2014 9:57 AM EDT

Expert Infantryman Badge candidates wait at the start of the 12-mile foot march before the sun rises, April 3, 2014, on Fort Stewart, Ga. All of the 94 candidates who started the foot march arrived on Cottrell Field in the time allotted, where they were awarded the EIB. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua Laidacker, 4th IBCT, 3rd ID, Public Affairs)