Political MoJo

This GOP House Candidate Proposed Eliminating the Weekend

| Fri Apr. 4, 2014 8:06 AM PDT

Update, 4/11: Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) announced he wouldn't seek re-election, making state Sen. Glenn Grothman the odds-on favorite favorite to win the seat in November.

Wisconsonites tired of relaxing on weekends and staying home on federal holidays are in luck: On Thursday, GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman announced his challenge to 18*-term moderate Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). In a conservative district that went to Mitt Romney by seven points in 2012, Grothman hopes to channel dissatisfaction with Republicans in Congress whom he believes haven't done enough to slow down the Obama administration's policy agenda. But he comes with some baggage of his own.

In January, Grothman introduced legislation to eliminate a state requirement that workers get at least one day off per week. "Right now in Wisconsin, you're not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week," he told the Huffington Post. Eliminating days off is a long-running campaign from Grothman. Three years earlier, he argued that public employees should have to work on Martin Luther King Day. "Let's be honest, giving government employees off has nothing to do with honoring Martin Luther King Day and it's just about giving state employees another day off," he told the Wisconsin State Journal. It would be one thing if people were using their day off to do something productive, but Grothman said he would be "shocked if you can find anybody doing service."

MLK Day and "Saturday" aren't the only holidays Grothman opposes. At a town hall in 2013, he took on Kwanzaa, which he said "almost no black people today care about" and was being propped up by "white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans."

When he's not advocating for people to spend more time working, Grothman has gotten in trouble for advocating that (some) people be paid less. "You could argue that money is more important for men," he told the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg, after pushing through a repeal of the state's equal pay bill. And he has pushed to pare back a program that provided free birth control, while floating a bill that would have labeled single parenthood, "a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect." Grothman justified the bill by contending that women choose to become single mothers and call their pregnancies "unplanned" only because it's what people want to hear. "I think people are trained to say that 'this is a surprise to me,' because there's still enough of a stigma that they're supposed to say this," he said in 2012.

Enjoy the weekend.

Correction: This post originally misstated the number of years Petri has been in Congress.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 4, 2014

Fri Apr. 4, 2014 7:12 AM PDT

U.S. Landing Craft Air Cushion lands to shore during training for Ssang Yong 14 at Dogue Beach, Pohang, South Korea, April 1, 2014. Exercise Ssang Yong is conducted annually in the Republic of Korea to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces by performing a full spectrum of amphibious operations while showcasing sea-based power projection in the Pacific. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Sara A. Medina/Released)

Baseball Player Takes 2 Days of Paternity Leave. Sports Radio Goes Ballistic.

| Thu Apr. 3, 2014 2:15 PM PDT

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has been getting all sorts of flak on sports radio today for missing last night's game against the Washington Nationals. Why? Because yesterday was his second (and final) day of paternity leave, which is apparently one too many.

Murphy got word late on Sunday night that his wife was in labor, and rushed to Florida to be with her. He was there for the birth of their first child the next day, Monday, which also happened to be Opening Day. The Mets had Tuesday off, and Murphy decided to stay with his wife Wednesday before flying back in time for today's game, also against the Nationals, which he played in. Murphy told ESPN that he and his wife decided together that it would be best for him to stay the extra day. "Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off," he said. "It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."

"You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help…Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?"

For a number of sports commentators, however, Murphy's decision seemed ludicrous. New York-based radio host Mike Francesa kicked off the outrage yesterday afternoon, devoting his entire WFAN show to asking, exasperatedly, why on earth a man would need to take off more than the few hours during which his child is actually born. "For a baseball player, you take a day. All right. Back in the lineup the next day. What are you doing? What would you be doing? I guarantee you're not sitting there holding your wife's hand."

"You're a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help," he said. "I don't see why you need…What are you gonna do? Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days? What are you gonna do?

Repeating this question at least five more times over the course of a 20-minute segment, Francesa also continued to confuse maternity and paternity leave. Noting that it's possible for the lucky few to stagger their paternity leave rather than using it in one chunk, Francesa was dumbfounded: "What do you do? You work the next day, then you take off three months, to do what? Have a party? 'The baby was born…But I took maternity leave three months later.' For what? To take pictures? I mean, what would you possibly be doing? That makes no sense. I didn't even know there was such a thing." (The full clip is above.)

Hosts of WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" spent their morning show today piling on to the criticism. "To me, and this is just my sensibility: 24 hours," Craig Carton said. "You stay there, baby's good, you have a good support system for the mom and the baby. You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball."

Cohost and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason thought even 24 hours was too much time: "Quite frankly, I would've said, 'C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day.'"

The Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio also devoted tons of airtime to scrutinizing the nondrama. Cohost Mike Golic, a former NFL defensive lineman, weighed in: "If you wanna be there for the birth of your child, I have zero problem with it. That said, when the baby is born…The baby was born on Monday. And he didn't play in a game [on Wednesday]? This is just me, I would have been back playing."

"Quite frankly, I would've said, 'C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day.'"

Notably, the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players association allows for three days of paternity leave. That's better than most jobs—only about 13 percent of workplaces offer paternity leave at all, and the United States is one of four countries in the world that doesn't mandate leave for new moms and dads.

For his part, Murphy seems to be shrugging off the criticism: "We had a really cool occasion yesterday morning, about 3 o'clock. We had our first panic session," Murphy told ESPN. "It was just the three of us at 3 o'clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to. I wanted to scream and cry, but I don't think that's publicly acceptable, so I let him do it."

This Is Bigger News Than Bobby Jindal's Health Care Plan

| Thu Apr. 3, 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made another effort to jump back into the upper tier of 2016 Republican presidential wannabes on Wednesday, releasing a 26-page plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with...something else. Jindal's plan includes things like block grants for Medicaid, an elimination of the employer subsidy for insurance, and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines—basically the same things conservatives have been pushing for years. (Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's 2015 budget, unveiled one day earlier, also calls for block grants.) As I reported in the most recent issue of Mother Jones, it's only the most recent in a string of efforts by Jindal to elevate his sagging national profile to its previous heights.

But while he was pushing a hypothetical agenda for his hypothetical presidency, things weren't going so well in Louisiana:

Louisiana's House Education Committee voted down legislation that sought to scrap the Common Core education standards and replace them with a not-yet-developed set of academic benchmarks and assessments. The committee's vote was 12-7.

Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a green card—indicating support—for [State Rep. Brett] Geymann's legislation to the House Education Committee, after several weeks of being circumspect about the his views on Common Core. But no one from Jindal's staff testified on the bill and his spokesmen did not respond to media requests for information about why he backed Geymann's legislation.

Jindal originally supported the implementation of the Common Core standards, a set of defacto national math and English standards approved by 46 states in 2009. But the standards became a lightning rod for conservative activists, who considered it a government takeover of local schools (or worse). So when the backlash came to Louisiana last year, he changed his tune. Sort of. Jindal argued that Louisiana shouldn't take orders from Washington, and after a long period of indecision, quietly signaled his support for Geymann's bill, which would have put the state's tests on hold and form a 32-person committee for further study. It's not quite hitting control-z on the entire program, but it would certainly be a step away from the original plan. But that attempt at damage control is dead for now, and so instead of being able to tell voters about how he reined in Common Core, Jindal is stuck with it.

That might not be on the 2016 radar yet, but given how despised the Core is among grassroots voters in Iowa, Florida, and South Carolina, it's potentially a much bigger deal than a boilerplate white paper.

The Supreme Court's McCutcheon Decision Nuked Campaign Laws In These 11 States (Plus DC)

| Thu Apr. 3, 2014 9:53 AM PDT

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court's five conservative justices struck down the so-called aggregate limit on campaign contributions—that is, the total number of donations within federal limits an individual can make to candidates, parties, and committees during a two-year election cycle. Before the court's decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, there was a $123,200 ceiling on those legal donations; now, a donor can cut as many $2,600 checks to candidates and $5,000 checks to parties as he or she wants. (The $2,600 and $5,000 figures are the maximum direct contributions a donor can give.)

The court's decision specifically dealt with the federal aggregate limit, but legal experts say McCutcheon will also void similar campaign finance laws in 11 states and the District of Columbia. "The McCutcheon opinion is right from the Supreme Court and what the Supreme Court said is state aggregate limits on top of the federal limit are unconstitutional today, unconstitutional yesterday, unconstitutional 20 years ago," says David Mitrani, an election lawyer who specializes in state campaign finance law.

Mitrani says the impact of McCutcheon on state-level laws will vary depending on how low a state's aggregate limit was. Rhode Island and Wisconsin, for instance, limited donors from giving more than $10,000 per calendar year to state political committees. "There are going to be pretty big changes in how money flows into those states," Mitrani says. In New York State, however, Mitrani says he doesn't expect as big of an impact when the existing aggregate limit was set at $150,000 a year.

Here are the 11 states (plus DC) where aggregate limits are now likely gutted thanks to the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision:

 

Fast Food Workers Will Protest Again Today. Here's What They're Up Against.

| Thu Apr. 3, 2014 8:44 AM PDT

On Thursday, New York McDonald's workers will stage a protest for better pay. It's the latest effort in what has become a national movement aimed at increasing fast food wages—which average $8.69 an hour—to $15 an hour. The odds are steep, because the restaurant industry is dead set against it. A new report released Thursday details just how much power the restaurant lobby wields in Washington.

The National Restaurant Association (the other NRA), which lobbies on behalf of the $600 billion industry, has been fighting minimum wage hikes, paid sick leave, and food safety rules for decades. But over the course of the slow economic recovery, which has been characterized by a disproportionate increase in low-wage service sector jobs, the NRA sharpened its knives, more than doubling its lobbying force on the Hill. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of NRA lobbyists pushing the industry's interests in Washington jumped from 15 to 37, according to the report, which was put together by the Alliance for a Just Society (AJS), a network of social justice organizations, and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROCUnited), an organization that pushes for better conditions for food workers.

"The NRA has super-sized its investment in insider influence since 2008," the report notes.

In addition to the lobbyists working on behalf of the NRA, nine of the association's biggest members—including McDonald’s, Marriott, Walt Disney, and YUM! Brands—were represented in Washington by another 127 registered lobbyists in 2013, according to the report. That's up from 56 in 1998.

The NRA, which represents 52,000 member companies, including KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, has spent $2.2 million on lobbying since November 2012, and over $400,000 in campaign contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The industry group has lavished much of its money on Republicans, who are digging their heels in against President Barack Obama's calls for a federal minimum wage hike from $7.25 to $10.10. So far, in 2014, 73 percent of the NRA's campaign donations have gone to Republicans. Since 1990, the NRA has given $10.5 million to GOP candidates, and $2.1 million to Dems.

Today, fast food workers in New York will attempt to counter that money with protest signs. And congressional Dems, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), will hold a "Give America a Raise" rally on the Hill.

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The Worst Genocidal Tweet of the Year, Brought to You by This Former Breitbart Contributor

| Thu Apr. 3, 2014 7:42 AM PDT

On Wednesday, a gunman went on a rampage at Fort Hood, Texas—the site of a mass shooting in November 2009—killing three people and injuring at least 16 others before taking his own life. The soldier was being treated for depression and anxiety. His motive remains unclear, and the Fort Hood commanding general told reporters that "there is no indication that this incident is related to terrorism."

When awful things happen, people sometimes express themselves on Twitter. Here's how conservative filmmaker Patrick Dollard, who on Twitter identifies himself as a "contributing journalist" at Breitbart, chose to respond to the news:

Pat Dollard tweet
@patdollard/Twitter

Following this genocidal tweet, Dollard also wrote, "Yeah, Obama's 'heartbroken' over Ft. Hood because it wasn't Muslim terrorism."

Dollard is a former Hollywood agent who has since embedded with US Marines in Iraq and become an aggressive right-wing presence online. "In 2004, having made his name as Steven Soderbergh's agent, Pat Dollard was the stereotypical Hollywood operator: coked-up, Armani-sheathed, separated from his fourth wife, and rapidly self-destructing," according to a 2007 Vanity Fair profile.

We asked the editor of Breitbart, Alex Marlow, and the site's publisher, Stephen Bannon, for a comment on Dollard's slaughter-Muslims tweet. Within minutes, Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Breitbart News, called and said, Dollard "was not a paid contributor and has not contributed for three years. He should not call himself a contributor." Asked if Breitbart would consider publishing future articles submitted by Dollard, Bardella replied, "We have no plans to accept anything. We haven't ruled anything out. But he is not a Breitbart contributor."

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 3, 2014

Thu Apr. 3, 2014 7:29 AM PDT

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 4th Marine Regiment, execute an amphibious assault simulation for Ssang Yong 14 at Dogue Beach, Pohang, South Korea, April 1, 2014. Exercise Ssang Yong is conducted annually in the ROK to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces by performing a full spectrum of amphibious operations while showcasing sea-based power projection in the Pacific. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Sara A. Medina/Released)

Fox News Sends Reporter to Cover Spring Break in Florida. But What About Benghazi?

| Wed Apr. 2, 2014 5:04 PM PDT

Fox News host and prominent knockout-game-myth purveyor Sean Hannity announced this week an investigation into spring break. Here's the first installment, in which Fox correspondent Ainsley Earhardt heads to Panama City. (For the second installment, click here). The Hannity segment covers binge-drinking, twerking, premarital sex, public drug use, and other things young hooligans perpetrate while on spring break:

"Ainsley recalled that some people were actually having sex on the beach, while girls were flashing the crowds for Mardi Gras-style beads," the Fox News blog reads. (Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel has some of the segment's money quotes here, including, "I have vodka and Red Bull and I'm getting crunk than a mug!")

Well, at least it isn't another Fox segment on Benghazi.

Also, you can compare the quality of the very real and outraged Fox coverage of spring break to the very fake and outrage coverage carried out by KHBX—the fictional news team in Comedy Central's short-lived, Zach Galifianakis-starring satire Dog Bites Man. Enjoy:

Nun Reportedly Tells Catholic School Kids That Masturbation Makes Guys Gay

| Wed Apr. 2, 2014 1:56 PM PDT

A Catholic nun has caused a firestorm after she allegedly told teens at Charlotte Catholic High School in North Carolina last month that masturbation can turn boys gay, and gay men have up to 1,000 sexual partners. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, an assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, reportedly has a history of anti-gay rhetoric. In one of her online lectures, she called oral sex an abnormal act that's "imported from the homosexual culture," according to the Charlotte-based LGBT publication, QNotes. A Charlotte Catholic student described the lecture to the news outlet:

She started talking about how gays [sic] people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father ... Also a guy could be gay if he masterbates [sic] and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay 'friends' who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and thats why he was gay. … Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk.

In one of her online videos Laurel reiterates that "a man's desire for instance, for his father's love, his father's affection, what happens to it? It can become sexualized. And he can begin to think he has a sexual desire for another man, when in fact, he doesn't." She adds that boys who have been sexual abused also use "homosexual acts" as revenge. When reached by phone, Laurel said she hadn't seen all the reports yet, and could not immediately provide comment.

Aquinas College President Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith defended the school presentation in a statement to the Tennessean, maintaining that, "the presentation was given with the intention of showing that human sexuality is a great gift to be treasured and that this gift is given by God." But some North Carolina students didn't agree, starting a Change.org petition that's culminated in a Wednesday meeting to address the concerns, according to the Huffington Post. The students said in their petition: "We reject the suggestion that homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of a parent’s shortcomings, masturbation or pornography."

It's not only private school students that are subject to strange claims during sex-ed lectures. As we reported last year, public schools also invite religious abstinence speakers to talk to students about sex—and sometimes spread misinformation in the process.

Pam Stenzel, an abstinence lecturer who claims to speak to over 500,000 young people each year, allegedly told public school students at George Washington High School in Charleston, West Virginia, last year, "If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you." Shelly Donahue, a speaker for the Colorado-based Center for Relationship Education, told students in a training video posted by the Denver Westword in 2011 that if a guy gets sperm near a girl's vagina, it will turn into a "little Hoover vacuum" and she will become pregnant. Jason Evert, who has scheduled some visits to public schools on his 2014 calendar, advises girls that they should "only lift the veil over your body to the spouse who is worthy to see the glory of that unveiled mystery." To see our full list of abstinence speakers who have given talks in public schools, click here. Good luck, America.