Political MoJo

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 24, 2014

Fri Oct. 24, 2014 9:38 AM EDT

US Navy Sailors aboard a guided missile destroyer plot on a chart during a damage control drill. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes)

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Anti-Abortion Colorado Republican Candidate Tries to Pass Himself Off As Pro-Choice

| Fri Oct. 24, 2014 5:00 AM EDT
Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez, the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, just joined a growing club of GOP politicians—including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Senate hopeful Scott Brown of New Hampshire—who have grossly misrepresented their stance on women's reproductive rights.

In an interview aired Wednesday on Colorado Public Radio, Beauprez, a former congressman, struck a decidedly pro-choice note when asked about abortion and birth control. He said he would not stand in the way of women having access to abortions, nor would he interfere with women choosing what kind of birth control to use. "I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice," he said. He later added, "I don't want to run somebody else's family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves."

Here's the full exchange (listen to the audio above):

CPR: On women's reproductive health, as governor would you be committed to your current stated position that while you're personally against abortions, you won't stand in the way of people having access to them or letting women choose their preferred method of birth control?

Bob Beauprez: That's correct. I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice. I know what the law is. And my job is to enforce the law. The question of birth control has come up and let me be real clear…I think women ought to have the choice of whether to use birth control or not. I think women ought to have the choice of what type of birth control to use. I just don't think taxpayers need to be paying for it.

I respect people's right to choose. I live my life the way I personally choose, but I'm not going to interfere with somebody else's. The job of a governor is less to govern the people, and more to govern the government. I don't want to make somebody else's decision, but I want them to have every opportunity to make their own. I don't want to run somebody else's family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves. That's the kind of governor I'll be.

Right to that choicehave the choiceright to choosethe way I choose: Beauprez almost sounds like a Planned Parenthood activist. But his legislative record and past statements couldn't be more at odds with his seemingly pro-choice comments.

In 2005, then-Rep. Beauprez cosponsored the Right to Life Act, a measure that guaranteed "equal protection for the right to life of each born and pre-born human person." The bill defined life beginning with "the moment of fertilization," and could severely restrict abortions. In Colorado Right-to-Life's 2006 voter guide, he said he supported a constitutional amendment to "restore full protection to pre-born human beings." That same year, he asserted—incorrectly—that the abortion rate for black women was an "appalling" 70 percent. (The actual rate at the time, according to the Guttmacher Institute, was 49 per 1,000—or 4.9 percent.) And in 2013, in a column on TownHall.com, he urged all Americans to reconcile the "tragedies" of abortions just as they reconciled the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.

As a gubernatorial candidate, Beauprez has not wavered from his decidedly anti-abortion position. He continues to say that he opposes all forms of abortion, even in cases of rape and incest unless the mother's life is at risk. He bragged to an interviewer in March about his "100 percent pro-life voting record." He also claims that an IUD is an abortifacient, not contraception. Beauprez has not said how he'd act on these beliefs, though he says he would eliminate all state funding for Planned Parenthood.

But anyone listening to his recent Colorado Public Radio interview might think that Beauprez was a supporter of a woman's right to choose, just as Scott Walker and Scott Brown sought to imply in their own sneaky ads on the issue. Pro-choice women are a key voting bloc that Beauprez needs to win—and he appears willing to distort his record to get their votes.

New York City Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 3:38 PM EDT

Update, Tuesday, November 11: Craig Spencer has been declared Ebola-free and was released from the hospital Tuesday. 

The New York Times reports Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who had recently been to West Africa to help treat Ebola patients, has tested positive for the disease. Spencer is the first person in New York to be diagnosed.

As Spencer's identity had been confirmed late Thursday afternoon, it became known he had been bowling in Brooklyn on Wednesday, traveling via an Uber ride to and from Manhattan.

"Ebola is very difficult to contract, being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not put someone at risk," de Blasio told reporters at a news conference Thursday evening.

Since coming back to the United States on October 14th, the city's health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, confirmed Spencer used the subway's A, 1, and L lines and bowled at The Gutter in Williamsburg. Bassett said the city has been preparing for the possibility of an outbreak for the past few weeks, with Cuomo emphasizing healthcare workers have been well-trained for such an event.

Earlier Thursday, Spencer was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after suffering from Ebola-like symptoms, including a 100.3 fever and nausea. The health department's initial report Spencer had a 103 degree fever was corrected on Friday.

The New York City Health Department released a statement indicating Spencer had returned to the United States within the past 21 days.

The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, DOHMH has decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work. DOHMH and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu.

The New York Post first identified Spencer, who returned from Guinea on October 14 and reported his fever this morning.

CNN producer Vaughn Sterling tweeted the following:

Reminder, refrain from panicking. This post has been updated throughout.

Students at a Nebraska High School Can Now Pose With Guns in Their Senior Portraits

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 1:14 PM EDT

Seniors at Broken Bow High School in Nebraska have been granted their God-given right to pose with guns for their upcoming senior portraits, just as long as the photos are taken off campus and done "tastefully."

“The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” Superintendent Mark Sievering explained to local paper, the Omaha World-Herald.

One would think such a bizarre proposal would prompt some level of debate, a modicum of sane opposition! After all, we're talking about mere teenagers eerily striking poses with weapons in their adolescent hands. Alas, the idea was met with a unanimous yes by all members of the Broken Bow school board.

“For me as a sportsman, I think the policy’s important because it allows those kids who are doing those things a chance to demonstrate what they’re doing and to celebrate that. I think that’s important and fair in our country," board member Matthew Haumont said.

As for the "tasteful" requirement, that means classy poses only folks: no photos with weapons pointed at the camera, no brandishing of weapons, and no "scantily clad girls."

 

Elizabeth Warren's Latest Comment About Running For President Is the Most Cryptic Yet

| Thu Oct. 23, 2014 12:59 PM EDT
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

With 106 weeks until the next presidential election, speculating about a potential Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) candidacy is like going on a long car ride with a six-year-old. "Are you running?" No. "How about now?" No. "Now?" No. "Now?" No. "What about now?" No. "Are you running?" No. "Are you running?" [exasperated sigh] "Aha!"

But Warren does continue to do the things people who are considering a run for president tend to do—flying to Iowa to rally the troops on behalf of Rep. Bruce Braley, for instance, and going on tour to promote a campaign-style book. Her latest venture, a sit-down interview in the next issue of People magazine, isn't going to do much to quiet the speculation, even as she once more downplayed the prospect of a run:

[S]upporters are already lining up to back an "Elizabeth Warren for President" campaign in 2016. But is the freshman senator from Massachusetts herself on board with a run for the White House? Warren wrinkles her nose.

"I don't think so," she tells PEOPLE in an interview conducted at Warren's Cambridge, Massachusetts, home for this week's issue. "If there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open."

She just doesn't see the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue being one of them. Not yet, anyway. "Right now," Warren says, "I'm focused on figuring out what else I can do from this spot" in the U.S. Senate.

"Amazing doors"; "I don't think"; "right now"—what does it all mean? Warren's not really saying anything we haven't heard from her before. But after then-Sen. Barack Obama's furious denials about running for president eight years ago, no one's ready to take "no" for an answer. At least not yet, anyway.

Map: The Most Popular NFL Teams Everywhere in America—According to Twitter

| Wed Oct. 22, 2014 2:39 PM EDT

For now, even after all the concussions, the domestic violence, and the still-horribly named team from Washington, DC, Americans still love their pro football. Twitter took a stab at measuring the popularity of every NFL franchise by looking at the official Twitter handle for each team and then counting followers of those teams in each county. It's an imperfect measure, for sure, but it's a nifty interface and a lot of fun! Take a look:

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for October 22, 2014

Wed Oct. 22, 2014 9:28 AM EDT

A US Marine Sgt. speaks with a local child while on patrol in Afghanistan. (US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

Elizabeth Warren Demands An Investigation Of Mortgage Companies

| Tue Oct. 21, 2014 11:12 AM EDT

On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate non-bank companies that service Americans' mortgages, noting in a letter co-signed by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that an increasing number of lawsuits has been filed in recent years against these firms—which are not regulated as strictly as banks.

Mortgage servicers, whether they are owned by banks or not, handle mortgages after they've been sold to a customer. That means they take care of administrative business including collecting mortgage payments and dealing with delinquent borrowers. What Warren and Cummings are worried about is that the share of non-banks servicing mortgages has grown astronomically—300 percent between 2011 and 2013—and it appears that the increased workload has led to shoddier service.

The rise of the industry, which typically services lower-income borrowers, "has been accompanied by consumer complaints, lawsuits, and other regulatory actions as the servicers' workload outstrips their processing capacity," according to a recent report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Last December, for instance, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the agency Warren helped create—entered a $2 billion settlement with the nation's largest non-bank servicer over mortgage mismanagement. Financial industry watchdogs and consumer advocates have charged that the non-bank home loan servicing companies are often unwilling to work with troubled borrowers to modify mortgages and prevent foreclosures.

In their letter, Warren and Cummings also urge the Government Accountability Office to investigate how consumers might be harmed in the event that a large non-bank servicer collapses during a economic downturn. Non-bank mortgage companies are not subject to the regulations governing banks that perform the same functions, such as the requirement that they hold onto a certain amount of emergency funds in case of a financial collapse.

Rwanda Hits Back at America's Ebola Paranoia

| Tue Oct. 21, 2014 10:40 AM EDT
Nigerian health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

Rwanda will be begin screening all Americans entering the country for Ebola, regardless if they're exhibiting symptoms or not, government officials in the East African nation announced Tuesday. Coincidence? The new measure comes just days after two Rwandan students were denied enrollment at a New Jersey school over Ebola fears, even though Rwanda has had zero cases of Ebola. The United States, on the other hand, has had three confirmed cases. Rwanda is also more than 2,500 miles from the closest Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The US Embassy in Rwanda explains the situation:

On October 19, the Rwandan Ministry of Health introduced new Ebola Virus Disease screening requirements. Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition—regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola—by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days.

Although there's no way to tell if the screenings are indeed motivated by retaliation for the ignorant panic displayed by the New Jersey school, this sure is an interesting turn of events.

Everything You Need to Know About Ebola in America, in One Fantastic Quote

| Mon Oct. 20, 2014 10:13 PM EDT

Meet a man made of very stern stuff indeed:

Peter Pattakos spent 20 minutes Saturday in an Akron bridal shop, getting fitted for a tux for his friend's wedding. Thursday, his friend sent a text message, telling him that Ebola patient Amber Joy Vinson had been in the store around the same time.

[...]

Pattakos, 36, a Cleveland attorney who lives in Bath Township, called the health department, which told him to call back if he exhibits any Ebola symptoms. He called a doctor, who told him not to worry.

"I didn't exchange any bodily fluids with anyone, so I'm not worried about it," he said. "I'm much more likely to be mistakenly killed by a police officer in this country than to be killed by Ebola, even if you were in the same bridal shop."

Yep.