Political MoJo

You Can't Unsee This Video of Donald Trump Groping Rudy Giuliani

"Oh, you dirty boy!"

| Mon Aug. 10, 2015 12:46 PM EDT

Donald Trump has long had a boorish reputation when it comes to his treatment of women, something that is now back in the spotlight thanks to the real estate mogul's tense exchange with Megyn Kelly at Thursday's GOP debate and subsequent tirade against the Fox News host.

It turns out that even Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, who recently termed Trump's candidacy "refreshing," once called out The Donald for his loutish behavior. Of course, Giuliani, then New York's mayor, was also dressed in drag at the time and was appearing with Trump in a skit filmed for the Inner Circle press dinner in 2000. In the clip, Trump full-on gropes Giuliani, who exclaims, "Oh, you dirty boy," and slaps the tycoon. Warning: You can't unsee this.

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BREAKING: James Holmes Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole in Aurora Massacre Trial

| Fri Aug. 7, 2015 7:41 PM EDT

After less than seven hours of deliberation, a jury has sentenced James Holmes to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing 12 people and injuring 70 others three years ago in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in one of the worst mass shootings in US history.   

The victims' families were sitting in the courtroom when the verdict was read and will be given the chance to address the judge about their losses at a later formal sentencing hearing. Jordan Ghawi, whose sister Jessica was killed during the shooting, reflected on the jury's decision shortly after the verdict was read.  

State Rep. Jovan Melton, whose district includes an area near the theater where the shooting occurred, took a moment to reflect on the death penalty. 

Here's What the Presidential Candidates Had to Say About Reproductive Rights in the First GOP Debate

The men have thoughts.

| Thu Aug. 6, 2015 11:29 PM EDT

On Thursday night, the ten front-runners in the race for the GOP presidential nomination gathered in Cleveland for the first debate of the primaries and naturally the discussion included women's health issues. Fox News hosts grilled Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on his opposition to exceptions to abortion laws for victims of rape and incest and Gov. Scott Walker over his support for a ban on abortion that doesn't make an exception for the life of the mother. They pressed former Gov. Jeb Bush over his ties to a pro-abortion rights group, and Donald Trump on his onetime support of reproductive rights.

Here's what they had to say:

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — Kelly asked Rubio about his record of opposing exceptions to abortion restrictions for victims of rape or incest. "I'm not sure that's a correct assessment of my record," Rubio shot back. "I have never advocated that." Kelly may have been referring to the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. This was a bill Rubio sponsored in 2011 that would make it a crime for anyone—except for the parents— to take a girl across state lines for an abortion with no exception for victims of rape or incest. Rubio was also a sponsor, in 2011, of a controversial 20-week ban on abortion that only made exceptions for victims of rape if they reported the crime to the police.

Rubio added he felt that the Constitution bans abortion: "I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws whether they…have their birth certificate or not."

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin — Kelly pressed Walker on his across-the-board opposition to abortion, even in to save the life of the mother: "Would you really let a mother die rather than let her have an abortion?" she asked, wondering if his position put him too far out of the mainstream to win the general election.

Walker answered, "There are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That's been consistently proven." Walker was  alluding to a popular pro-life myth that abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother, an opinion rejected by mainstream medical practitioners.

Walker also noted that he defunded Planned Parenthood as governor; he signed several budgets that stripped of all funding for the women's healthcare network.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida — Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Bush about his seat on the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation when the group is "so openly in support of abortion." Bush denied knowing about the organization's support of abortion. He also pointed to a number of actions he has taken to limit abortion rights when he was governor of Florida. He cut funding for Planned Parenthood from the state budget, directed state funds toward crisis pregnancy centers—pro-life alternatives to abortion clinics which often spread misinformation about the negative effects of abortion—and signed laws requiring parents to be informed before a minor has an abortion.

Donald Trump — The moderators asked Trump about his declaration, many years ago, that he was "very pro choice."

"I've evolved on many issues over the years," Trump replied. "And you know who else has evolved, is Ronald Reagan." Trump then told the story of a pair of friends who decided against abortion. "And that child today is a total superstar."

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas — Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Huckabee about his support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, and whether it would work against him among moderate voters. In response, Huckabee came out swinging for personhood: "I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception," he said. "This notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being."

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — In his closing statement, Cruz promised that "on my first day in office" he would prosecute Planned Parenthood over the sting videos dominating the headlines.

Donald Trump Won't Say If He'll Support the Republican Nominee—Unless It's Him

"I cannot say I have to respect the person if it's not me."

| Thu Aug. 6, 2015 9:43 PM EDT

It took just a few minutes for the first GOP 2016 debate to get testy. Fox News' Bret Baier started off the night by asking the 10 Republicans on the main-stage event whether they would pledge to support whoever wins the Republican nomination and guarantee that they wouldn't run an independent bid next fall.

Everyone knew the answer in advance. When Wallace asked the candidates to raise their hand if they wouldn't take that pledge, current frontrunner Donald Trump—who has previously said he would consider a third-party presidential bid if he lost the GOP nomination—predictably raised his hand. "I cannot say I have to respect the person if it's not me," Trump said.

"I want to run as the Republican nominee," he continued, saying he wouldn't run as an independent—just so long as he's the one who wins the nomination, an outcome that he sees as a foregone conclusion.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) quickly pounced. "He buys and sells politicians of all stripes," Paul jumped in, noting Trump's past donations to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

The moderators were teed up to put Trump in the hot seat from the start. Soon after that first question, Fox's Megyn Kelly questioned Trump on whether he could run against Hillary Clinton in the general election given his litany of disparaging comments against women. "It was only Rosie O'Donnell," Trump tried to interrupt Kelly, earning loud applause from the crowd in Cleveland. And even then, it was all just "fun" and "kidding," in Trump's assessment. "I don't have time for total political correctness," Trump said. "To be honest with you, this country doesn’t either."

Keep doing you, Donald.

Fox News Asks GOP Also-Rans What We Were All Wondering: Why Are You Running?

Ouch.

| Thu Aug. 6, 2015 7:06 PM EDT
Squad goals.

The undercard to the first Republican presidential primary debate featured a motley crew of long-retired politicians (Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, Rick Santorum); fallen stars (Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal); former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina; and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Participants qualified for the B-team debate by default; all candidates were in the low-single digits in national polls.

But if the Fox News moderators ever considered taking it easy on the Republican also-rans, they didn't show it. Instead, Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum appeared focused on whittling down the weak links in the 17-person field by asking them—over and over and over again—why no one seemed to like them.

Here were the first seven questions of the debate:

Perry: "Welcome, governor. You were in charge of the fourth-largest economy in the world. And you recently said that four years ago you weren't ready for this job. Why should someone vote for you now?"

Fiorina: "You were CEO of Hewlett Packard. You ran for Senate and lost in California in 2010. This week you said, 'Margaret Thatcher was not content to manage a great nation in decline, and neither am I.' Given your current standings in the polls, was the Iron Lady comparison incorrect?"

Santorum: "Sen. Santorum, you won the Iowa caucus four years ago and 10 other states, but you failed to beat Mitt Romney for the nomination. And no one here tonight is going to question your conviction or love for country, but has your moment passed, senator?"

Jindal: "Gov. Jindal, you're one of two sitting governors on the stage tonight. But your approval numbers at home are in the mid-30s. In a recent poll in which you were head-to-head with Hillary Clinton in Louisiana, she beat you by seven points. So if the people of Louisiana are not satisfied, what makes you think the people of this nation would be?"

Graham: "Sen. Lindsey Graham. You worked with Democrats and President Obama when it came to climate change, something that you know is extremely unpopular with conservative Republicans. How can they trust you based on that record?"

Pataki: "Gov. Pataki. Four years ago this month, you called it quits in a race for the presidency in 2012; but now you're back. Mitt Romney declined to run this time because he believed that the party needed new blood. Does he have a point?"

Gilmore: "You were the last person on stage to declare your candidacy. You ran for the White House once and lost. You ran for the Senate once and lost. You haven't held public office in 13 years. Is it time for new blood?"

The hits kept coming after the opening round. When the subject turned to Donald Trump, the Fox News moderators took a few more opportunities to twist the knife. "So Carly Fiorina, is he getting the better of you?" the former California Senate candidate was asked. Perry came in for the same Trump treatment—"Given the large disparity in your poll numbers, he seems to be getting the better of you."

Fox News Didn't Bother Inviting Any Spectators to the JV Debate

The #HappyHourDebate was pretty quiet.

| Thu Aug. 6, 2015 5:55 PM EDT

Perhaps acknowledging no one could possibly be interested in what a group of people with zero chance at the White House have to say on policy matters, ordinary humans were not invited to the Happy Hour portion of tonight's first round of Republican presidential debates.

Instead, only friends, family members, and campaign staffers of the GOP's junior varsity league were permitted in the audience. This is what that grim scene looked like:

Props to everyone who was dragged to this.

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We May Have Bill Clinton to Thank for Donald Trump's Presidential Run

The Washington Post reports Clinton "encouraged" the Trump to take a "larger role" in the Republican party.

| Wed Aug. 5, 2015 5:32 PM EDT

As Americans eagerly await the circus that will be tomorrow's first Republican presidential debate—excitement almost entirely generated by the presence of front-runner Donald Trump—a new report offers a surprising connection that led the real estate mogul to throw his hat in the ring: Bill Clinton.

The Washington Post reports Clinton and Trump had a private phone call shortly before the GOP's newest star officially announced his candidacy. During the call, the former president—and spouse of the likely Democratic nominee—stopped short of outright pushing him to run for president. Instead, Clinton reportedly prodded Trump to seek a "larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape."

Clearly flattered by the words of his favorite president ever, Trump got the hint, entered the race. The rest is viral history. Clinton's office confirmed the phone call.

Despite the recent exchange over Trump's controversial "rapist" characterization of Mexican immigrants—Hillary said she was "very disappointed" by the comments; Trump fired back, calling her the "worst Secretary of State" in history—the new report highlights the unusual friendship shared between the Clintons and Trump.

Back in 2012, Clinton noted that Trump has been "uncommonly nice" to him and Hillary. "We're all New Yorkers," Clinton said. "I like him. And I love playing golf with him."

 With that kind of praise, Clinton has clearly been playing the long game.

Bobby Jindal Really Wants You to Know He's Been Working Out

The Louisiana governor becomes the latest candidate to release a weird viral video.

| Wed Aug. 5, 2015 1:04 PM EDT

One of the most underrated storylines of the 2016 election has been Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's ongoing effort to re-brand himself as a bodybuilder.

Last October, "a source close to Louisiana's Bobby Jindal" leaked to National Review that the governor had gained 13 pounds over just a few months, an indication that he considered "being skinny" to be a weakness in the early Republican primary. In March, an MSNBC reporter tagged along with Jindal during a workout at a Manhattan gym. "Today's legs, but every day I try to rotate it," the governor explained before, presumably, flexing in front of the mirror and downing some brotein. And on Wednesday, BuzzFeed published a video it shot with Jindal in which he does push-ups for two minutes. It's some real Rocky IV stuff:

But there's something else going on here. On Tuesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz cooked and consumed "machine gun bacon" in a video produced by the website IJ Review. (Technically, it was more like semi-automatic-rifle bacon, and you shouldn't try it at home.) Two weeks earlier, the same publication got Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to destroy his cell phone for its cameras, in response to Donald Trump publicly revealing his cell phone number. Jindal's workout tape is part of a new genre of campaign journalism, in which media organizations are producing viral videos that the campaigns might otherwise have filmed themselves.

IJ Review, although only three years old, has forced itself to be taken seriously in Washington media. It will co-host a Republican primary debate with ABC News next year. BuzzFeed, an investigative reporting powerhouse in its own right, has delivered strong reporting on Jindal's candidacy. But these videos are something different—a weird new form of native advertising.

What's that Clickhole mantra? "Because all content deserves to go viral"? In 2016, the same can apparently be said of candidates. Even Bobby Jindal.

Verizon Launches App To Conduct Surveillance On Its Own Striking Workers

The Verizon Guy is in better touch with the bosses than he thinks.

| Wed Aug. 5, 2015 12:02 PM EDT
"Can you spy on me now?" Union organizers have criticized Verizon's "snitch app."

Verizon, facing a potential strike by 39,000 unionized workers, has rolled out a smartphone app designed to help its managers document and report violations of its "code of conduct" during a work stoppage.

Contract negotiations between the CWA and Verizon have stalled in recent days after the union objected to reduced job security, increases in health care costs, and slashed retirement benefits for its members.

A Verizon spokesman says the app, which allows users to snap geo-tagged photos of striking employees and send them to company executives, was designed in response to unspecified past incidents of vandalism and harassment during strikes. "We believe strongly that this is not an invasion of privacy," says spokesman Raymond McConville. "This is completely lawful and necessary to ensure that our employees are safe."

"This particular thing is just an example of how arrogant and obnoxious they are," counters Bob Master, the vice-president of the Communication Workers of America District 1, which is negotiating the new contract on behalf of Verizon fiber optics workers in New York and eight other East Coast states.

The worker concessions sought by Verizon are related, in part, to its decision to focus on its wireless business at the expense of building out its fiber optic network—a shift that hurts consumers, the union says. Indeed, a New York City audit found that Verizon had failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everybody in New York City who wanted it.

The CWA contends that the app is just another way for Verizon, which earned $9.6 billion in profits last year, to gain the upper hand. "I think they definitely projected this as a way of intimidating people," Master says. "At the bargaining table [our negotiators] call it the snitch app."

Jeb Bush: "I'm Not Sure We Need Half a Billion Dollars" for Women’s Health

He also said the next president should defund Planned Parenthood.

| Tue Aug. 4, 2015 5:45 PM EDT

When he was governor of Florida, Jeb Bush vetoed state funding for Planned Parenthood. He thinks the next president should do the same—at the federal level.

That's what Bush said Tuesday at the Send North America conference, one of America's largest evangelical gatherings. He wasn't done talking about women's health care, though:

You could take dollar for dollar—although I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars—for women's health issues, but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine community health organizations that exist to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortion should not be funded by the government.

Reminder: This is what happens when Planned Parenthood is defunded.

UPDATE, Tuesday, August 4, 3:30 p.m. PT (Becca Andrews): Bush later issued a statement that he "misspoke." It reads: "There are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need." He goes on to say that the "half a billion dollars" line only referred to Planned Parenthood.