Political MoJo

Donald Trump Just Did a Dramatic Reenactment of Ben Carson's Stabbing

| Fri Nov. 13, 2015 8:41 AM EST

Donald Trump is trailing Ben Carson in Iowa and it's starting to get to him. On Thursday night, he told an audience in Iowa that Carson is "pathological, damaged," and sought to prove his point by reenacting the pediatric neurosurgeon's infamous childhood stabbing, in which he claims to have thrust a knife at his relative's abdomen, only to be stopped by a belt buckle. Trump used the incident to paint Carson as both a pathologically violent maniac and a fabulist who couldn't possibly have committed such an act of violence. "How stupid are the people of Iowa?" he asked. "How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?"

Update: Trump continued piling onto Carson's knife story with a web ad released Friday:


Happy Friday the 13th

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

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This GOPer Wants to Sabotage a Missouri Student's Dissertation Because It's About Abortion

| Thu Nov. 12, 2015 4:41 PM EST

A state lawmaker is trying to stop a graduate student at the University of Missouri from studying the effects of one of the state's abortion restrictions, claiming that her dissertation violates state law and is an abortion marketing ploy.

In a letter to University of Missouri officials, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) argues that Lindsay Ruhr, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, is illegally using public funds to conduct her dissertation research on the state's law that requires a 72-hour waiting period before a woman receives an abortion. Ruhr is using Planned Parenthood data to analyze the effects of the law on women's decision making. In Missouri it is illegal for public employees and facilities to use state money towards "encouraging or counseling" a person to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.

"This is a concerning revelation considering the University's recent troubling connections to Planned Parenthood," wrote Schaefer. "It is difficult to understand how a research study approved by the University, conducted by a University student, and overseen by the Director of the School of Social Work at the University can be perceived as anything but an expenditure of public funds to aid Planned Parenthood."

A university spokeswoman told the Huffington Post that the doctoral student received neither scholarship money from the school nor state grant money for her research. "We must stay committed to the discovery, dissemination, application, and preservation of knowledge to support our mission while abiding by state and federal laws," said Mary Jo Banken. "We will continue performing life-saving research in our laboratories while providing the highest quality of educational opportunities to our students."

Ruhr told Al Jazeera that she stands by her project and the objectivity of her research.  "The whole point of my research is to understand how this policy affects women," she said. "Whether this policy is having a harmful or beneficial effect, we don't know."

But Sen. Schaefer, who chairs the state's recently-created Committee on the Sanctity of Life, contends that the dissertation is nothing but a "marketing aid for Planned Parenthood."

About half of states have 24-hour waiting period laws on the books, which require that a woman meet with a physician a day before getting an abortion. Missouri is one of a handful of states that require women wait 72 hours. In September, amid nation-wide investigations into the organization over its fetal tissue research, the University of Missouri responded with a number of measures against the women's health organization. It canceled its contracts with Planned Parenthood that eliminated the option for medical students to do clinical rotations at the health care network. A month later, the nursing school reinstated its contracts with two Planned Parenthoods, but with a clause that prevented students from learning about abortion by prohibiting any student from helping to provide them. The university also revoked Planned Parenthood's hospital admitting privileges, which allows the clinic to offer medication abortions, a safe and effective method of first-trimester termination. Without admitting privileges for that center, Missouri will be left with only one abortion clinic, in St. Louis, 125 miles from the university.

Planned Parenthood officials have asked the University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, who recently announced his resignation over mounting racial tensions and student protests, to reinstate the admitting privileges contract with the health care organization. "Before assuming a new role, we urge Chancellor Loftin to immediately reinstate appropriate clinical privileges to ensure there is no disruption in health care services for the residents of this community," Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Kansas Mid-Missouri, said in a statement on Monday. They have not yet received an answer.

While the university works on its response to Schaefer's request for documents, Ruhr's research will continue with the school's backing.

University of Missouri Police Name Suspect Accused of Social Media Threats Against Black Students

| Wed Nov. 11, 2015 10:38 AM EST

After a night of confusion and fear on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri, police announced on Wednesday morning that they had arrested a suspect, Hunter M. Park, for "making a terrorist threat" against black students and faculty on the anonymous social media platform, Yik Yak:

Police said the person was not on or near university grounds when the threats were first published online.

The uptick in campus-wide concern came just a day after University System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced they would step down amid pressure from students, a hunger strike, and a boycott from the Missouri football team in response to a flurry of racially charged incidents that have plagued the campus in recent weeks.

Shortly before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a notice was sent out on the university alert system noting that authorities were "aware of social media threats" and that officials were beefing up security. At 10 p.m., MUPD announced the threats were under investigation. MUPD Maj. Brian Weimer told the Maneater, a student newspaper: "We're aware of it and we're looking and trying to identify who it is."

The posts in question were widely shared on social media Tuesday night, and sparked panic on campus. "Some of you are alright," one message read. "Don't go to campus tomorrow."

While representatives from the university's student government urged administrators to cancel classes on Wednesday "due to the nature of threats on campus," an alert sent late Tuesday by the university cautioned against spreading rumors and added that there was "no immediate threat to campus." University Provost Garnett Stokes told reporters a decision on class cancelation would be made in the early morning on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, most classes were scheduled to take place as normal.

This isn't the first time university police had to deal with threats on the anonymous social network. Last December, in the wake of student demonstrations over racial tensions on campus, commenters took to Yik Yak to post a flurry of racist and insensitive anonymous notes. One yak noted: "Lets burn down the black culture center & give them a taste of their own medicine."

Donald Trump Wants to Model His Immigration Plan After Something Called "Operation Wetback"

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 10:52 PM EST

At Tuesday night's debate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich ripped into Donald Trump about his plan to deport 11 million immigrants should he become president. "Come on, folks," he said, exasperated. "We all know you can't pick them up and ship them back across the border. It's a silly argument. It's not an adult argument. It makes no sense!"

In response, Trump invoked historical precedent: "Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower. Good president. Great president. People liked him. I liked him. I Like Ike, right? The expression, 'I like Ike.' Moved 1.5 million illegal immigrants out of this country. Moved them just beyond the border, they came back. Moved them again beyond the border, they came back. Didn't like it. Moved 'em waaaay south, they never came back. Dwight Eisenhower. You don't get nicer, you don't get friendlier. They moved 1.5 million people out. We have no choice. We. Have. No. Choice." (You can see video of the entire exchange above.)

The Eisenhower program Trump was referring to, if not by name, was called "Operation Wetback." Implemented by President Eisenhower in the 1950s, the program was frighteningly simple: round up undocumented immigrants and drop them off in Mexico by the busload. The more obscure the location, the better. Dozens of the operation's deportees died. The program was initiated by then-Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr., who ordered his officers to shoot "wetbacks" trying to enter America. Ultimately, it wasn't even as successful as Trump claims: Some researchers consider the 1.5 million-deported figure to be highly exaggerated.

White supremacists picked up on Trump's reference immediately:

While the rest of us took to Google:


Ted Cruz Can’t Remember All the Departments He Wants to Defund

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 10:22 PM EST


This Is the Funniest Chart About Tonight's GOP Debate

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 9:58 PM EST

Donald Trump was asked about immigration at tonight's debate and answered with some ramble about Eisenhower or something.

Anyway, here's what happened on Google:


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Mike Huckabee: Take My Wife, Please!

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 8:25 PM EST

Noted without comment, Mike Huckabee's answer to a question about the Fed at tonight's GOP kid's table debate:

Professor at Center of Missouri University Protest Video Offers "Sincere Apologies"

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 7:28 PM EST

The communications professor who called for "muscle" to block a reporter from covering Monday's demonstrations at the University of Missouri—a moment captured in a video that went viral—issued an apology on Tuesday evening. In a written statement tweeted by the university's Department of Communications, Melissa Click—an assistant professor specializing in pop culture and feminism—said she had reached out to the journalists involved "to offer my sincere apologies and to express regret over my actions." Read her full statement below:

Click became the center of a firestorm after a video clip was posted online showing a confrontation between a group of students and a freelance photographer working for ESPN, Tim Tai. Protesters had assembled after Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system, resigned from his post on Monday amid growing furor over a series of racial incidents at the system's flagship Columbia campus. In the video, students argued with Tai, who was trying to take photographs, and chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go." At the end of the video, Click puts her hand in the lens of the camera filming her, and then calls for help from students to expel reporters. In a longer clip posted later, Click can be seen rallying students to prevent the media from reaching the quad, where a mini tent-city had been erected by protestors. In the wake of the viral video, Click made her Twitter account private and went to ground, apparently enduring rape and death threats.

The showdown between protestors and the press at the University of Missouri has since become a subject of national debate. In the meantime, the dean of the university's famous journalism school, David Kurpius, defended Tai, a senior at the university, by saying the incident provided "an opportunity to educate students and citizens about the role of a free press."

Soviet-Themed Anti-Elizabeth Warren Ad Will Air During Republican Debate

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 1:16 PM EST

Liberal fans haven't been able to persuade Sen. Elizabeth Warren to make a run for president, but she'll appear at Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate on Fox Business Network—during a commercial break. As Politico's Burgess Everett reports, the conservative American Action Network will run an ad opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer watchdog agency that Warren created following the financial crash. Per Everett, the group is spending half a million dollars to run the ad during the debate and later this week.

The commercial paints the CFPB as a Kremlin-like bureaucratic nightmare, with Warren as the Stalinesque figure barring regular Americans from collecting loans. Warren's face is plastered on a giant red banner in the background, alongside that of CFPB director Richard Cordray. The Soviet imagery is not subtle.

"They call it CFPB," the ad's narrator ominously intones. "Washington’s latest regulatory agency, designed to interfere with your personal financial decisions: that car loan you needed, your mortgage, that personal loan. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, those who need help the most are denied."

The CFPB has been a frequent target of attacks from conservative organizations. But while those groups like to paint Warren's brainchild as a scourge of consumers, the CFPB has fined banks for deceiving customers, fought predatory for-profit colleges, and simplified the mortgage application process.

Watch the ad:

Senator Claire McCaskill Wants Her Male Colleagues to Learn to "Just Shut the Hell Up"

| Tue Nov. 10, 2015 10:19 AM EST

Are you listening, male US Senators? Your colleague, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wants you to stop mansplaining and "just shut the hell up."

In a refreshing video prepared for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday, the first woman elected to the Missouri senate (and consummate badass) explains that while she values the importance of encouraging more women to run for office, it's equally important for men to stop inserting their opinions into every damn issue.

"It's not that women don't value your thoughts—it's just that we don't value all of them," McCaskill said. "The world doesn't need your opinion on everything."

The senator continued by enumerating a list of topics she'd love to see all men stop talking about. These include: what women do with their bodies, pantsuits, Star Wars (repeated twice), Shonda Rhimes, and #GamerGate.

"If you can control yourselves and hold back from further expressing your opinions on any of these topics, we'll let you keep weighing in on marijuana legalization," she said, offering a reward for their good behavior.

"But," she cautioned. "That's a huge, big 'if.'"