Political MoJo

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.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

The South Carolina Senate Created a “Refugee Registry” That Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

| Thu Mar. 24, 2016 3:16 PM EDT

The latest episode in the national freak-out over Syrian refugees is playing out in South Carolina, where the state senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would create state refugee registry and require state law enforcement agencies to investigate incoming refugees.

"With the danger today of a terrorist infiltrating the refugee program, we have no other option than to enroll this information,” said Kevin Bryant, a Republican state senator who co-sponsored the bill, according to South Carolina's The State newspaper. The bill still has to be passed by South Carolina's House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) before becoming law.


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article67809132.html#storylink=cpy

The United States has pledged to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, a small fraction of the US' overall refugee intake each year. Government officials say Syrian refugees are strictly and lengthily vetted, enduring a degree of scrutiny higher than any other group of people trying to enter the US. But after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, governors and state lawmakers around the country tried to bar refugees from their states or restrict aid money and cooperation for people being resettled there.

The final version of the bill passed in South Carolina doesn't try to cut off any funding for refugees, which the federal government and refugee resettlement groups say is illegal. Instead the measure would have the refugees' sponsors submit information about the refugees to the state's social services agency, which would pass the data on to state and local law enforcement agencies for additional (and unspecified) security checks. It also adds another layer of suspicion in a state where anti-Muslim rhetoric helped propel Donald Trump to a convincing win in the Republican primary there last month. But South Carolina is not alone; the New York state legislature is also considering a registry bill that would require fingerprinting and monitoring of refugees.

Obama Dances the Tango During a State Dinner in Argentina

| Thu Mar. 24, 2016 8:18 AM EDT

President Obama danced the tango during a state dinner in Argentina on Wednesday, after receiving a friendly invitation from a professional to join her on the dance floor. The president, who initially tried to decline the dance, nailed the impromptu performance, which was both wonderfully awkward and a delight to watch for everyone else.

Well, almost everyone. By morning light, political pundits jumped at the opportunity to chastise the president. That buzzkill brought to you by Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

However, the advance person who let him do the tango, that person ought to be looking for work on somebody's—in somebody's campaign very far away. That was a tremendous mistake. It's fine to go to Argentina, you want to do the work, but you've got to be careful of these little photo ops and optics. Baseball games and tango, that's inconsistent with the seriousness of the day.

Kasich Hits Back at Cruz Over Call to Police Muslims

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 4:30 PM EDT

Ohio Gov. John Kasich rebuked Sen. Ted Cruz's call to "patrol and secure" Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the deadly explosions in Brussels on Tuesday.

"We are not at war with Islam—we're at war with radical Islam," Kasich told reporters in Minneapolis, according to the New York Times. "In our country we don't want to create divisions where we say, 'Okay well your religion, you're a Muslim, so therefore we're going to keep an eye on you."

He added, "The last thing we need is more polarization."

ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have killed at least 30 people.

Kasich's remarks stand out against those of his other Republican primary opponent, Donald Trump. In response to the attacks on Tuesday, Trump announced his support for employing torture tactics against terror suspects for intelligence-gathering purposes, despite considerable evidence that such methods fail to produce useful information.

"If they could expand the law, I would do a lot more than waterboarding," Trump said on the Today Show. "You have to get the information from these people."

Terrorism expert Malcolm Nance slammed Trump for the comments, describing them as fodder for terrorist recruitment efforts.

Photos From Around The World Capture the Outpouring of Support After the Brussels Attack

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 3:43 PM EDT

Early Tuesday morning, a series of terrorist attacks ripped across Brussels, the Belgian capitol, leaving at least 31 dead. We're following live updates to the story here. Similar to the December massacre in Paris, the attacks were quickly followed by a public outpouring grief, sympathy and solidarity, taking the form of makeshift memorials and specially lit landmarks.

Here is a selection of reactions from Europe and around the world:

People light candles at a memorial set up outside the stock exchange in Brussels. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

The pencils in the cartoon below are a reference to the terrorist attacks on the offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, last January:

Pakistanis chant slogans during a rally to condemn the Brussels attack, in Multan, Pakistan. Asim Tanveer/AP

President Obama Just Made a Passionate Appeal to the Cuban People to Embrace Democracy

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 11:57 AM EDT

Just hours after terrorist attacks in Brussels left dozens dead or wounded, President Barak Obama spoke directly to the Cuban people Tuesday morning. He condemned the violence saying, "We must unite, we must be together regardless of race, nationality, or faith," and then shifted his focus to US Cuban relations.

In the televised broadcast from the Gran Teatro in Havana, he urged the citizens of Cuba to embrace American democracy, outlining the steps he believes they should take in order to ease the path to normalization of relations between the two neighboring countries.

"I have come here to bury the last remnants of the Cold War in the Americas," Obama said.

Since Obama announced the historic move to restore relations in December of 2014, questions have repeatedly arisen concerning the timing of this reconciliation after more than five decades of hostilities. On Tuesday, Obama said that the approach employed by the United States since the Cold War was no longer working and that "we have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth."

He also called on Congress to lift the embargo to help expedite the normalization process.

Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, took no time to respond to Obama's speech, slamming the president for being in Havana at all.

 

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Ted Cruz Calls for Security Patrols in America's "Muslim Neighborhoods"

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 11:45 AM EDT

In the wake of the Brussels terror attacks Tuesday morning, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz suggested that the United States "empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."

Here is the full statement from the Cruz campaign:

Cruz: We Can No Longer Surrender to the Enemy Through Political Correctness
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, presidential candidate Ted Cruz responded to the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels:
 
"Today radical Islamic terrorists targeted the men and women of Brussels as they went to work on a spring morning. In a series of coordinated attacks they murdered and maimed dozens of innocent commuters at subway stations and travelers at the airport. For the terrorists, the identities of the victims were irrelevant. They –we—are all part of an intolerable culture that they have vowed to destroy.
 
"For years, the west has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear.  We can no longer afford either. Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods.
 
"We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.
 
"We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS. The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we are are at an end. Our country is at stake."

John McCain Concedes the GOP May Have Lost Hispanics

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 11:38 AM EDT

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appears to have conceded that the Republican Party has alienated Hispanic voters and will have to rely increasingly on white voters to win in November.

"An interesting phenomenon right now is the huge turnouts for the Republican primaries, low turnout for the Democrat primaries," McCain said in a Sunday appearance on the Phoenix-based show Politics in the Yard. "Now if all those people would get behind the Republican candidate, I think we could win this election despite the alienation, frankly, of a lot of the Hispanic voters.”

McCain will face perhaps his toughest re-election fight this fall. A former champion of comprehensive immigration reform, he is likely to struggle in a year in which Donald Trump is pushing Latinos away from the Republican Party. McCain will face off against several Republican primary challengers in August. Polls show McCain currently tied with his general election opponent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.).

McCain has steered clear of Donald Trump, who is the favorite to win the Arizona Republican primary on Tuesday night. The Hill reported last week that McCain would not attend any of the rallies Trump held in Arizona this weekend. McCain endorsed his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the presidential primary; after Graham dropped out, McCain said he would not endorse anyone.

Does Donald Trump Think His Top Foreign Policy Adviser Is Muslim?

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 11:25 AM EDT

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday morning, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump twice failed to correct host Brian Kilmeade's mistaken assertion that one of his top foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, is Muslim.

"Donald, we just talked to Walid Phares," Kilmeade said. "We talked to Dr. Zuhdi Jasser yesterday, Ambassador Khalilzad—he's done great things for this country. What do all three have in common? They're Muslims."

"Yes, that's true," Trump said.

A few minutes later, Kilmeade returned to the topic of Phares, who, Trump announced yesterday, is advising his campaign. "A lot of people listening right now might be misinterpreting your message in the past and currently that you have a problem with Muslims—you don't have a problem with Muslims," Kilmeade said. "In fact you just hired one, Walid Phares, to work for you." Again, Trump appeared to agree.

But Phares is not Muslim. In fact, he is about as far from being a Muslim as one can get. As Adam Serwer reported five years ago, Phares was once a top political official in a sectarian Christian militia in Lebanon that targeted Muslims:

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon's Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues. Phares, they say, advocated the hard-line view that Lebanon's Christians should work toward creating a separate, independent Christian enclave. A photo obtained by Mother Jones shows him conducting a press conference in 1986 for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of Christian militias that has been accused of committing atrocities.

Later in the interview, Kilmeade offered a correction, noting that Phares is actually a Christian. But Trump was twice asked specifically about Phares' religious identity and never pushed back.

Maybe it was a lousy earpiece?

Terrorism Expert: ISIS Is "Probably Cutting Videos" of Donald Trump's Response to Belgium Attacks

| Tue Mar. 22, 2016 10:58 AM EDT

Donald Trump wasted no time in backing torture (again) after this morning's terrorist attacks in Brussels.

"Waterboarding would be fine" for Salah Abdeslam, one of the alleged participants in the massacre in Paris last November, Trump said on the Today Show. He's previously said he'd like to do "a hell of a lot worse" than waterboarding to terrorism suspects, and on Tuesday he repeated his call to change the laws to allow further acts of torture: "If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people."

But terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, the head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project and a veteran of Navy intelligence, took Trump to task for doing the propaganda work of ISIS.

"Good God, they're probably cutting videos of this right now," Nance said on MSNBC about Trump's comments. "Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives…that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that's why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them…It's irresponsible and it needs to stop."