Political MoJo

Republicans Hate Planned Parenthood but Want to Put One of Its Backers on the $10 Bill

| Thu Sep. 17, 2015 5:05 PM EDT
Rosa Parks arrives at court to be arraigned for the racial bus boycott in 1956.

At the end of last night's GOP debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked the candidates which woman they would choose to put on the $10 bill. Several of the 11 candidates on stage named their daughters or wives. Mike Huckabee awkwardly poked fun at his wife's spending habits in nominating her. "That way," he said, "she could spend her own money with her face!"

But Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump went for gravitas. All three picked Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader whose refusal to give up her seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, to be the first woman pictured on US paper currency. "An everyday American that changed the course of history," said Rubio. "She was a principled pioneer that helped change this country," noted Cruz, clarifying that he would put her on the $20 bill, in order to keep Founding Father Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

The candidates are right that Parks was a "principled pioneer," but her advocacy went beyond racial justice. Later in life, Parks was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood, and she even served on its board.

That's an inconvenient fact for the GOP candidates who have been eager to demonize Planned Parenthood. Throughout the debate, all of them repeatedly touted their pro-life records and vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Cruz is currently leading the charge against Planned Parenthood in the Senate, threatening to shut down the government over a spending bill that includes federal funding for the women's health organization.

Cruz elaborated on that ongoing funding battle at the debate, honing in on the doctored sting videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal organs for profit—a criminal allegation that state after state has found to be false. "Absolutely we shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise," Cruz said of Planned Parenthood. "And I'll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, 'We'll give in because Obama threatens a veto.' We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles."

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Behold the Most Glorious Donald Trump Vine You Will Ever Encounter

| Thu Sep. 17, 2015 4:58 PM EDT

Find yourself mesmerized by Donald Trump's extreme facial contortions last night?

Well, you're not alone! Here to expertly convey the orgy that took place on Trump's visage is the following Vine:

(h/t Gawker)

Play the 2006 Bernie Sanders-Themed Arcade Game

| Thu Sep. 17, 2015 1:31 PM EDT

Imagine the delight in the Mother Jones DC office this morning when, exhausted from last night's marathon Republican presidential debate, we discovered a nine-year-old web-based arcade game starring Bernie Sanders. We started playing it, and you can too.

The game, Bernie Arcade, comes from the Vermont senator's 2006 reelection campaign and feels both very 2006 and very Bernie Sanders. It still lives online thanks to the Web Archive. The game features the candidate in an eco-friendly hydrogen-fueled plane. Using the arrow keys, the player navigates the plane through unfriendly skies, dodging the "extreme right wing," big bags of special-interest money, mud from mudslingers, and literal fat cats. Wonky underdog that he is, Sanders fights back by shooting these objects with fact sheets as a jaunty bluegrass tune by a Vermont band, the Cleary Brothers, plays in the background.

The game gives players a glimpse of Sanders' can-do pluck, even after his plane has crashed due to an onslaught of flying felines. "The good news is—and there is some good news out there—that is an unbelievable number," his voice says after the game—even if your score is abysmally low.

Sanders' isn't the only candidate with a game to his name. This summer, the Mother Jones office gathered to play Trump: The Game, a bizarre Monopoly-style game in which players learn about the GOP front-runner by borrowing from an endless credit line with the bank to buy up real estate properties. But Sanders' game takes the opposite approach. Instead of winning by acquiring cash, players are supposed to dodge the flying bags marked with dollar signs. As MoJo reporter Pat Caldwell observed, Sanders' game forces successful players to unlearn what video gamers have been doing for years: winning games by acquiring money. "I lost immediately," said MoJo reporter Tim Murphy, who reflexively went for the money on his first flight in the hydroplane.

Hillary Clinton Just Trolled the GOP Debate So Good

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 11:06 PM EDT

In Donald Trump's America, everyone speaks English.

When asked by CNN's Dana Bash during Wednesday night's GOP debate about his criticism of Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, the Republican front-runner and real estate mogul responded:

We have to have assimilation to have a country. We have to have assimilation. I'm not the first one to say this, Dana. We have had many people over the years for many, many years saying the same thing. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.

In true troll fashion, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton tweeted some insight.  

For those who didn't understand her, Clinton said: "Freedom includes the right to speak in any language. That makes us strong as a country, and it is something that we should celebrate—not denigrate." 

Here's the full exchange between the Republican presidential candidates: 

Jeb Bush Just Admitted to Smoking Pot

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 11:02 PM EDT

During the final hour of tonight's marathon Republican presidential debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked candidates about their positions on marijuana policy. That's when Jeb Bush, who has been previously accused of being a hypocrite by fellow presidential hopeful Rand Paul for his hardline stance against medical marijuana, weighed in with the following admission: Forty years ago, he too smoked pot. Just like nearly every teenager in America. He then sheepishly apologized to his mother.

The confession, which drew a handful of chuckles from the crowd, was immediately followed by a tweet from his campaign that reemphasized the important part of his statement:

Despite his admission, the presidential hopeful went on to defend his opposition to legalizing medial marijuana.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Know Foreign Groups Because They’re Just “Arab Name, Arab Name”

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 10:55 PM EDT

During Wednesday's GOP presidential debate, Donald Trump—the Republican who's still running laps around the competition in the polls—faced a seemingly tough question from moderator Jake Tapper: can he really serve as an effective president when he can't name or even recognize many foreign leaders and groups?

The question stems from Trump's appearance earlier this month on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, in which he confused Iran's Quds Force, a special forces unit within the country's Revolutionary Guard, with the Kurds in Iraq.

Tapper framed the question around Sen. Marco Rubio's recent criticism of Trump over the gaffe. "If you don't know the answer to these questions, then you are not going to be able to serve as commander and chief," Rubio said earlier this month.

How'd Trump deal with Tapper's question? After all, confusing and mispronouncing foreign names was a standard criticism that dogged George W. Bush throughout his presidency. But Trump? Nah, he's not worried. First, he boasted about how Hewitt—a co-moderator of the CNN debate—had since apologized and said that "Donald Trump is maybe the best interview anywhere that he's ever done."

"I will say this though," Trump continued, "Hugh was giving me name after name—Arab name, Arab name, Arab—and there are few people anywhere, ANYWHERE, that would have known those names. I think he was reading them off a sheet."

Oy vey.

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The Moment When Carly Fiorina Completely Owned Donald Trump

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 10:45 PM EDT

In one of the GOP primary debate's most memorable moments, Carly Fiorina put Donald Trump in his place for his comments, in a recent Rolling Stone article, criticizing her looks as he argued why she could never be president. "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" Trump told the magazine. "Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!"

The debate exchange came after Trump doubled down on his criticism of Jeb Bush for remarking last month that "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health programs."

"I think it will haunt him," Trump said during the debate. "I think it's a terrible. I think it's going to haunt him absolutely. He came back later and he said he misspoke. There was no question because I heard when he said the statement. I was watching and he said the statement."

When moderator Jake Tapper then asked Carly Fiorina for her thoughts about Trump's recent remarks, she turned the tables on The Donald. "You know, it's interesting to me," Fiorina said. "Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly in what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said."

The typically bombastic Trump responded sheepishly: "I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful woman."

Here Are Trump’s Most Extreme Facial Expressions So Far From Tonight’s Debate

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 9:35 PM EDT

Donald Trump gave the good people of America what they really wanted tonight in CNN's GOP Debate—an array of facial expressions to cherish forever. Here are some of our favorites.

Resting bitch face:

"Oh, if I must" face:

"Yeah, right!" face:

Raging sexist face:

Gassy face:

Inquisitive face:

Jeb-trolling face:

Gov. Bobby Jindal: "Planned Parenthood Is Selling Baby Parts Across the Country"

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 8:45 PM EDT

In Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal claimed that "Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts across the country." Twice.

The statement is untrue, as state after state investigating the explosive but doctored sting videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal organs has been forced to concede. (Such sales would violate federal law.)

But Jindal, who appeared in the earlier GOP debate for second-tier candidates, has staked a lot on his campaign to bring Planned Parenthood's affiliate in Louisiana to its knees. Under his direction, Louisiana is investigating whether Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast trafficked in fetal parts—even though the group's two Louisiana clinics do not even perform abortions.

In federal court, Jindal's administration is battling for permission to terminate $730,000 in Medicaid payments to the group, which Planned Parenthood argues is arbitrary and illegal. Louisiana's first whack at the piñata went like this:

Louisiana's attorneys [declared] that there are 2,000 family planning providers ready to accommodate new patients [if the state defunds Planned Parenthood]. A federal judge, reviewing the list in an early September court hearing, found hundreds of entries for specialists such as ophthalmologists; nursing homes caregivers; dentists; ear, nose, and throat doctors; and even cosmetic surgeons.

"It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services," said the judge, John deGravelles, who will determine in the next week whether it is legal for the state to end Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts. "But that is what you're representing to the court? You're telling me that they can provide family planning and related services?"

This week, Louisiana withdrew that line of argument and prepared a new one:

State officials say they will shortly refile to defund Planned Parenthood "for cause"—the "cause" being that the organization reached a $4.3-million settlement in Texas in 2013 over a billing dispute, which Louisiana claims makes it unsuitable to treat women in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

In 2014, Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast performed 2,100 well-woman exams, 1,200 pap smears, and 11,000 STI tests, and it administered long-lasting contraceptives 4,100 times, to 5,200 patients. The Centers for Disease Control rank Louisiana first in the country in gonorrhea infections, second in Chlamydia infections, and third in HIV and syphilis infections. The RealClearPolitics polling average ranks Jindal second in losing the GOP nomination for president.

Rand Paul's Latest Attention-Grabbing Ploy: Shooting the Tax Code

| Wed Sep. 16, 2015 3:04 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul really doesn't like the tax code, and presumably also isn't thrilled about his performance in the polls. Evidently, the Republican presidential candidate from Kentucky figured it would be best to kill two birds with one stone and tweeted this video this afternoon.

We've seen Paul take a chainsaw to the tax code before, but the day of the second GOP debate calls for an upping of the ante. Does it matter that those boxes he's emptying clips into appear to be just unopened packs of printer paper and not the tax code? Or that this is a cry for attention from someone who is polling at a meager 3 percent, according to recent CBS polling data? Of course not. I mean, just look at him:

With any luck, next week he'll move on to pyrotechnics.