Political MoJo

Jeb Bush Just Helped This Dude Make the Worst Mistake of His Life

| Tue Aug. 11, 2015 5:44 PM EDT

A Pennsylvania man with a strong devotion to Jeb Bush and bizarre viral videos just got the Republican presidential candidate's name tattooed on his neck.

Vic Berger's new ink job is the result of an internet promise he made in July, pledging to go through with the tattoo no one asked for once a Vine he created attracted one million loops.

 

Upon learning of Berger's tattoo goals, Bush actually took to Twitter to encourage followers to help turn this unfortunate stunt into an indelible reality.

Let's just hope Berger's tattoo is a lame temporary one.

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Meet the (Potential) Democratic Candidate Who Thinks Bernie Sanders Isn't Liberal Enough

| Tue Aug. 11, 2015 11:23 AM EDT

An outspoken Cantabrigian is launching an exploratory committee for president on a platform of breaking a "rigged system" that's fueling runaway inequality. Unfortunately for progressive activists, it's Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, not Elizabeth Warren.

Lessig, who says he'll jump into the race if he can raise $1 million by Labor Day, has spent much of the last four years fighting what he considers the pernicious influence of money in politics ushered in by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, have both promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose Citizens United. But Lessig thinks Sanders et al. aren't going far enough. His platform consists of one item—the "Citizens Equality Act of 2017," which is sort of an omnibus bill of progressive wish-list items. It would make election day a national holiday, protect the right to vote, abolish political gerrymandering, and limit campaign contributions to small-dollar "vouchers" and public financing. After Congress passes his bill, Lessig says he'll resign.

Lessig has to hope his newest political venture will be more successful then his 2014 gambit, in which the Harvard professor started a super-PAC for the purpose of electing politicians who supported campaign finance reform. The aptly named Mayday PAC raised and spent $10 million, but only backed a single winner—Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) who was virtually assured of re-election in a deep-red district.

Here's Lessig's announcement video:

Heavily Armed Oath Keepers Showed Up to Ferguson Last Night

| Tue Aug. 11, 2015 9:30 AM EDT

As demonstrators gathered in Ferguson to continue commemorating the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Monday, five heavily armed men belonging to a vigilante group called the Oath Keepers were spotted patrolling the streets. According to reports, the Oath Keepers said they were on the scene to provide voluntary protection to a journalist working for the site InfoWarsthe conspiracy mill run by noted lunatic Alex Jones.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the group's presence on Monday both "unnecessary and inflammatory."

Their arrival came amid 23 arrests last night. The police said those arrested in the largely peaceful protests were throwing bottles at law enforcement officials and "unlawfully assembled."

During the same time last year, Oath Keeper members took it upon themselves to guard the city's rooftops with assault rifles. Police officials eventually ordered the group to leave, saying their presence was inciting fear and suspicion in an already tense situation. However, no members were arrested.

The mysterious group, who called themselves voluntary "patriots," primarily consists of heavily armed white men dressed in military uniforms. Many of them are former soldiers and police officials. For more on who they are, read our in-depth investigation, "Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason."

#BlackLivesMatter Activists Arrested in Ferguson Anniversary Protests

| Mon Aug. 10, 2015 3:37 PM EDT

A day after the city of Ferguson marked the first anniversary of the fatal police shooting that killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, nonviolent demonstrators, including activist and philosopher Cornel West and Black Lives Matter organizer Johnetta Elzie, were arrested in St. Louis. Demonstrators were seen jumping over police barricades outside a federal courthouse during a planned sit-in protest demanding the suspension of the Ferguson police department.

According to MSNBC, demonstrators joined the #MoralMonday sit-in expecting to be arrested. Shortly before getting apprehended, Elzie tweeted a reference to the arrest of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody last month:

 

The arrests come just hours after St. Louis County issued a state of emergency in light of the violence that erupted late Sunday night after a police officer shot a man they say opened fire at them. Police charged 18-year-old Tyrone Harris with four counts of assault on law enforcement and other crimes. He remains in critical condition.

The shooting ended a weekend of largely peaceful protests commemorating Brown's death.

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

| 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.

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. 

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

| 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

| 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?

| 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

| 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.