Political MoJo

Ted Cruz Defends His Plan to Patrol "Muslim Neighborhoods"

| Tue Mar. 29, 2016 8:55 PM EDT

Ted Cruz stood by his proposal to patrol "Muslim neighborhoods" during CNN's town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, repeating his assertion that this strategy worked in New York City.

Host Anderson Cooper pressed Cruz repeatedly on his stance, noting that New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton had criticized Cruz's proposal. "It is clear from his comments that Sen. Cruz knows absolutely nothing about counterterrorism in New York City," Bratton wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News. But Cruz stood firm, describing Bratton as a member of the administration of "left-wing radical" New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Watch the exchange, starting around the eight-minute mark.

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This Law Just Took Abortion Pseudoscience to a New Low

| Tue Mar. 29, 2016 5:40 PM EDT

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday signed a bill that makes the state the first in the nation to require doctors to anesthetize fetuses before performing abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Previously, fetal anesthesia for abortion after 20 weeks was optional in Utah.

Supporters of the new law, called the Protecting Unborn Children Amendments, say fetuses can feel pain starting at about 20 weeks, so anesthesia or analgesic should be administered to "eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child." But scientists have rejected the fetal pain claim, saying there is no conclusive evidence to back up such legislation.

Still, 12 states ban abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization on the grounds that the fetus can feel pain. The 20-week mark is several weeks before the point at which the fetus is considered viable and abortion is no longer legally protected by Roe v. Wade. Utah already bans abortion after viability.

Republican State Sen. Curt Bramble initially planned to introduce a 20-week ban, but attorneys in the state advised him the law would not pass constitutional muster, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"The process of a child being born is a natural process. There's nothing natural [about abortion]. In fact, it's barbaric," Bramble said, adding, "In this quote 'medical procedure,' let's call it what it is: It's killing babies. And if we're going to kill that baby, we ought to protect it from pain."

Dr. Sean Esplin, a Utah-based physician, told the Associated Press that in order to comply with the law, the anesthesia will have to go through the woman to reach the fetus. Doctors can give the woman general anesthesia, which would make her unconscious, or a heavy dose of narcotics, neither of which were previously necessary for the procedure.

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, side effects of anesthesia include nausea, confusion, chills, and rarely more serious symptoms like delirium or long-term memory loss. "You never give those medicines if you don't have to," David Turok of the University of Utah's obstetrics and gynecology department told NBC.

Utah is the only state in the country with an anesthesia requirement during abortion. The Montana Legislature passed a similar law in 2015, but it was vetoed by the governor.

Trump Still Insists His Campaign Manager Is Innocent of Assaulting Reporter

| Tue Mar. 29, 2016 1:07 PM EDT

Donald Trump is defending his campaign manager to the very end, despite mounting evidence against him.

On Tuesday morning, Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with misdemeanor battery for forcibly grabbing reporter Michelle Fields at an event in Jupiter, Florida, on March 8. A video released Tuesday clearly shows Lewandowski grabbing Fields. But on Tuesday afternoon, Trump took to Twitter to defend the man running his campaign for president—and claim the new footage proves nothing.

This is not the first time the Trump team has denied the incident—indeed, there is a long list of denials and smears targeted at Fields. Lewandowski intends to plead not guilty.

Update 3:15 p.m. ET: Trump suggested later on Tuesday that Fields should be the one facing charges for grabbing him and "shout[ing] questions."

A Divided Supreme Court Spares Public Sector Unions

| Tue Mar. 29, 2016 11:30 AM EDT
Pro-union activists rally in front of the Supreme Court on January 11.

The Supreme Court deadlocked on Tuesday for the second time since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month—and this time, public sector unions were the winner.

The 4-4 split underscores the immediate impact of Scalia's death and the new reality of a divided eight-member court. Senate Republicans have so far refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia.

Before Scalia's death, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court was poised to strike a "mortal blow" to public sector unions, long a target of the conservative movement. A conservative legal group brought Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association to stop unions from collecting compulsory fees from nonunion employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. The case aimed to weaken unions' political sway by driving down union membership and decimating union coffers.

The conservative group behind the case brought it knowing that it likely had a 5-4 majority on its side. After oral arguments in January, the Supreme Court appeared ready to rule against unions. But Scalia's death changed that. As Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer predicted after the justice's passing, "Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of Scalia's death are public sector unions."

The split leaves in place a lower court ruling in favor of the labor unions and demonstrates how the union opponents' strategy has backfired. When they still had a likely 5-4 majority on their side, the union opponents had rushed the case to the Supreme Court by asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against them quickly in 2013. The 9th Circuit complied—but the Supreme Court's ruling came a month and a half too late.

Clinton to Democrats: Remember What's at Stake on the Supreme Court

| Mon Mar. 28, 2016 11:49 AM EDT

Republicans have long rallied supporters by emphasizing the importance of selecting Supreme Court justices and warning what might happen if a Democratic president picks the next one. In a speech Monday afternoon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hillary Clinton will make the same case to Democrats.

Clinton will discuss the blockbuster cases before the court this term, according to a Clinton campaign aide familiar with the speech, to hammer home the importance of electing a Democratic president in order to protect the party's top priorities. Those cases include one about abortion access and another on President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

"Given the range of cases currently before the Court—on everything from immigration to a women's right to choose, affirmative action to voting rights—Clinton will say that the core pillars of the progressive movement are at risk of being upended by the Court in a single term," the aide said in an email. She will remind voters that the next president will likely make additional nominations to the court, beyond filling the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Clinton will also discuss the current confirmation battle surrounding Merrick Garland, Obama's nominee to replace Scalia. Clinton plans to argue that "it is critically important that Senate Republicans not be allowed to succeed in their strategy of refusing to consider the President’s nominee," according to the aide.

The speech, which will also address Donald Trump and the dangers his hypothetical Supreme Court nominees could pose to progressive causes, will likely be seen as a pivot to the general election. Clinton's Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, swept three races over the weekend and is hoping to score an upset against Clinton in Wisconsin on April 5. But Clinton still holds a substantial lead over Sanders in the pledged delegate count, 1,243 to 975, with 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

California Is About to Make a $15 Minimum Wage a Reality

| Mon Mar. 28, 2016 10:41 AM EDT

Update, April 1: California's State Assembly approved the measure. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law on Monday.

California lawmakers and labor unions have reached a historic deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $15, the LA Times reports.

The plan will boost the minimum wage from $10 to $10.50 by January 2017, gradually increasing it to $15 over the following six years. Smaller businesses, those with less than 25 employees, will have one extra year to comply with the new changes.

If the deal passes in the state legislature, California will become the first state in the country to adopt a $15 minimum wage—a goal that activists and lawmakers around the country have pushed in recent years as one way to combat income inequality. According to the Times, state legislators could vote on the issue by the end of next week.

The movement to boost the $7.25 federal minimum wage has been an important campaign issue for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. While both Democratic rivals support raising the minimum wage, only Sanders has endorsed hiking it to $15. Clinton supports raising it to $12.

California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to announce the deal as early as today. For a deeper look at the issues surrounding the minimum wage debate, check out our analysis here.

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Trump Insists He Had Nothing to Do With the Latest Attack on "Lyin' Ted Cruz"

| Fri Mar. 25, 2016 3:34 PM EDT

Donald Trump denied any involvement on Friday in a National Enquirer story alleging that Ted Cruz has had affairs with five different women, but he couldn't help inserting himself into the melee. In a statement posted on Facebook, Trump said he hoped the allegations against "Lyin' Ted Cruz" were not true, but hinted that they well might be.

I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week's issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.

Likewise, I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz's problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz.

I look forward to spending the week in Wisconsin, winning the Republican nomination and ultimately the Presidency in order to Make America Great Again.

- Donald J. Trump

On Friday afternoon, Cruz called the Enquirer's report "garbage" and accused "Donald Trump and his henchmen” of planting the story. Not to be outdone, Trump claimed in his response that it was Cruz who had surrounded himself with "political hacks and henchmen."

Indiana Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

| Fri Mar. 25, 2016 12:18 PM EDT

On Thursday evening, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a new law expanding Indiana's abortion restrictions. The measure will prohibit women from electing to have an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus, and will impose strict rules on doctors who perform abortions.

"By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother," Pence said in a statement. "I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families."

Indiana is the second state in the nation, after North Dakota, that prohibits a woman from seeking an abortion because the fetus is diagnosed with a disability, such as Down's Syndrome or microcephaly. The law will also require that the remains of an aborted fetus be interred or cremated and prohibits fetal tissue donation.

Additionally, the law will hold doctors liable for wrongful death if it is found that they perform an abortion that was motivated by a fetal defect, sex, or other prohibited reasons. 

"It's disgraceful that politicians in Indiana want to shame a woman who may choose to end a pregnancy following diagnosis of a lethal fetal anomaly," said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in a March statement about the bill.

"Abortion reason" bans like the one just enacted in Indiana are opposed by many in the medical community, who say that they will cause women to censor themselves when discussing critical, sometimes heartbreaking, health decisions with their doctors. "These 'reason bans' represent gross interference in the patient-physician relationship, creating a system in which patients and physicians are forced to withhold information or outright lie in order to ensure access to care," wrote the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a March statement. "By restricting the termination of pregnancies with genetic anomalies, the bill would cause additional severe emotional pain for women and their families."

Meanwhile, some critics wonder whether the passage of this stringent bill is mostly about gaining political points: Many of the bill's main sponsors are in the middle of primaries in Indiana, often running in close races against other social conservatives.

 

This Ad by Republicans Against Barry Goldwater Basically Predicted Donald Trump

| Fri Mar. 25, 2016 10:34 AM EDT

"When the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor for the candidate of my party, either they're not Republicans or I'm not," says the thoughtful-looking man as he stares into the camera.

You wouldn't be at fault for assuming such a line was used to describe the existential crisis within the Republican party today, as it wrestles with the very real prospect of Donald Trump becoming its presidential nominee. But it's actually a direct quote from "Confessions of a Republican," a 1964 television advertisement attacking then-nominee Barry Goldwater. It features an actor playing a lifelong Republican who struggles to come to terms with the Arizona senator's rise.

The classic campaign ad has resurfaced today because of its eerie parallels to the 2016 election and the increasingly likely chance that Trump will secure the GOP nomination.

"This man scares me," the man in the ad says. "Now maybe I'm wrong. A friend of mine said to me, 'Listen, just because a man sounds a little irresponsible during a campaign doesn't mean he's going to act irresponsibly.' You know, that theory that the White House makes the man—I don't buy that."

For nearly five minutes the actor ponders the implications of his party's nominee, regretting that he did not go to the San Francisco convention and oppose him. He concluded by urging Republican support of the Democratic candidate, Lyndon Johnson.  

"I think my party made a bad mistake in San Francisco, and I'm going to have to vote against that mistake on the third of November."

That's probably where the parallels to today end.

Ted Cruz Calls Donald Trump a "Sniveling Coward"

| Thu Mar. 24, 2016 4:32 PM EDT

On Thursday in Wisconsin, Sen. Ted Cruz put on his most presidential jacket, pointed straight to the camera, and called his party's likely nominee a "sniveling coward" for making disparaging comments about his wife, Heidi:

This is where the Republican primary is at right now. The latest drama over Trump began earlier this week, when an anti-Trump group unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign ran ads shaming Trump's wife, Melania, for having once posed nude in GQ. Trump accused Cruz of putting the group up to it (which would be illegal), and then promised to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz. On Wednesday, Trump used his Twitter account to quote a tweet that included a photo of Melania next to a photo of Heidi Cruz, with the tag line, "the images are worth a thousand words." So Cruz has reason to be pissed—and to his larger point, Trump really does have a problem with women.

But almost as soon as he finished his remarks on Thursday, Cruz was asked a simple question: Would he support Trump as the nominee? It was a revealing moment that echoed a similar press conference two weeks ago, when a visibly distraught Marco Rubio called Trump a con artist and a third-world strongman who foments violence—but stopped short of suggesting he'd vote for someone else. This time, Cruz didn't quite answer either, insisting only that Trump would not be the nominee. He may think Trump's a misogynist, but he still wants Trump's voters.