Political MoJo

The Daily News Just Made One Helluva Statement About "New York Values"

| Fri Jan. 15, 2016 10:47 AM EST

Last night, Sen. Ted Cruz said some stupid things about "New York values" being a synonym for like money-grubbing, fame-hungry monsters. Donald Trump used the moment to go full "9/11" on Cruz and, at least to my aged eyes, the Princeton educated, Goldman Sachs spouse left the exchange the worse for it.

Anyway, the New York Daily News did its thing and went hard after Cruz with today's cover.

("Go back to Canada" is a reference to the fact that Cruz was born in Canada—though he is a naturally born American citizen by virtue of his mother's citizenship— and rings a bit birther for my taste, but c'est la vie.)

The NYDN isn't like some big Trump supporter either. Previous covers have lambasted the GOP front-runner.

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Chris Christie Flubbed Something Really Basic About American History

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 11:02 PM EST

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a bold pronouncement at Thursday's Republican debate: the founders considered the right to bear arms to be one of the most important constitutional amendments—that's why it was the second one on the list. "I don't think the Founders put the second amendment as number two by accident," he said, adding, "I think they made the Second Amendment the Second Amendment because they thought it was just that important."

But that doesn't make a lot of sense—the Third Amendment (which prevents citizens from quartering soldiers against their will) is not more important than the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits unwarranted search and seizure), simply because it has a lower number. Nor would you be able to find many conservatives who believe the Tenth Amendment, which delegates rights to the states, is somehow the least important of the bunch.

The other problem with this line of thinking is that the Second Amendment as we know it wasn't really the second amendment to be written—it was the fourth. James Madison proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution, but the first two were not ratified by enough states. The original First Amendment concerned the size of congressional districts—not quite as big of a deal in the grand scheme of things as, say, the original Third Amendment (which would become freedom of expression). The original Second Amendment would have prohibited Congress from raising its own pay (it was eventually ratified as the 27th.)

This is all a bit confusing but you have to bear in mind the Founding Fathers were drunk most of the time.

Watch the Moment the Gloves Finally Came Off Between Trump and Cruz at the GOP Debate

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 10:07 PM EST

During Thursday's GOP debate, Sen. Ted Cruz was forced to weigh in on his eligibility to run for president of the United States—a controversy Donald Trump has been vigorously fanning as the Canadian-born senator has risen in the polls.

Cruz's initial annoyance was palpable, but it was clear he was prepared for the "birther" issue to come up. Throughout the campaign, Cruz has avoided hitting back against Trump. But this was the moment the gloves finally came off.

"The Constitution hasn't changed," Cruz said. "But the poll numbers have. And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling."

Watch the tense exchange below:

We Just Heard the Dumbest Comment About Immigration of the Campaign

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 7:21 PM EST

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum offered a spirited defense of mass deportations at Thursday's Republican undercard debate in South Carolina. Only he didn't call it deportation. Instead, he explained, immigration officials would "export America" back to Latin America. Sure, kids who were raised in the United States would be forcibly relocated, but their knowledge of English and capitalism could pay dividends for them down the road in their home countries:

When we say we need to send people back, I mean we send people back. Let me just make one point. I was in Storm Lake, Iowa, the other day near a Tyson's plant. Ninety-one percent of the kids that go to the elementary school there are minority kids. And they said, 'Well, what are you gonna do with all these people, their families, they've lived here a long time.' I said I'm gonna give 'em a gift. I'm gonna give them the gift of being able to help the country they were born in, and we're gonna export America. The education they were able to receive, they learned about the English language, they learned about capitalism, they learned about democracy. You want to stop the flow of immigrants? Let's send 6 million Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans back into their country so they can start a renaissance in their country so they won't be coming here anymore!

This is the worst study abroad program ever.

Master image: Marc Nozell/Flickr

Deadly Disease Strikes After Cost-Cutting Contaminated Flint's Water Supply

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 5:29 PM EST
Maurice Rice organizes cases of free water outside a Flint church.

Residents in Flint, Michigan have been outraged since the discovery that their water is tainted with lead, a substance has irreversible neurological and developmental effects on children. The contamination came after the city of 100,000 changed water sources in April 2014, switching from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs.

Yesterday brought even more bad news: Cases of Legionnaires' Disease have spiked in Genessee County since Flint, the largest city in the county, began using the river water. There have been 87 cases of the disease since June of 2014, ten of which have been fatal. According to the CDC, Legionnaires' disease is a pneumonia-like respiratory infection that can cause fevers, coughing, muscle aches, and, in severe cases, death. It grows in warm water, like that in hot tubs and fountains.

State health officials say they cannot confirm that the change in the water supply caused the spike, since some cases occurred among people who hadn't been exposed to Flint's water. Marc Edwards, a scientist at Virginia Tech who played a key role in exposing the water's lead contamination, told the Detroit Free Press that there's a "very strong likelihood" that the change in water supply played a role in the disease's recent surge.

Flint switched back to Detroit's water in October, and health officials predict that the change will reduce the number of cases of Legionnaires' disease in the coming years. However, lead continues to leach into the water because the city's lead pipes were corroded by Flint River water.

In a press conference yesterday about the spike Legionnaires’ disease, Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledged that "the healthcare community has been aware of this issue for some time in the Flint area."

Planned Parenthood Sues “Complex Criminal Enterprise” Behind Deceptive Videos

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 3:00 PM EST

Planned Parenthood officials announced Thursday that the organization is suing the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind last summer's series of misleading and heavily edited videos that created a firestorm over whether the Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program broke the law. The federal lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, also named David Daleiden, the face of the Center for Medical Progress, Troy Neumann, the CMP's secretary and a well-known anti-abortion activist, and several other CMP members as defendants.

The series of videos, released this summer by the secretive CMP, purported to show Planned Parenthood staff and other abortion care professionals discussing how to traffic fetal tissue for profit. Donating fetal tissue for medical research is legal in the United States, as is receiving reimbursement for the costs associated with the donation. Only two states have fetal tissue donation programs, and Planned Parenthood has categorically denied that it has profited from them. Both state and federal investigations into the health care group's donation programs have found no evidence of wrongdoing. In the fall, Planned Parenthood announced that it would no longer accept reimbursement for the tissue donations but would pay for them.

Planned Parenthood in California is one of two state affiliates that donates fetal tissue.

The federal lawsuit accuses the CMP of racketeering, illegally creating and using fake driver's licenses, and invading the privacy of and illegally recording Planned Parenthood officials and staff. The suit describes the CMP as a "complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists," and says that "the aim of the fake enterprise—which stretched over years and involved fake companies, fake identifications, and large-scale illegal taping, was to demonize Planned Parenthood."

Harassment, threats, and attacks against abortion providers surged ninefold after the release of the first video in July. And Cgongressional and state lawmakers have used the debunked videos as reasons to defund or restrict the activities of Planned Parenthood. Ten states have introduced legislation restricting either the process of fetal tissue donation or its use in biomedical research. The House and Senate both approved measures to defund the group, which is the nation's largest provider of women's health, serving nearly 3 million Americans every year. States have also moved to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates, though those attempts have largely been blocked.

"This case is about a network of anti-abortion extremists and the laws they broke in order to spread lies and harm Planned Parenthood," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told reporters. "This is a fraud build on illegal acts and a web of lies. They lied about who they were and what they wanted to discuss with Planned Parenthood. They colluded with right wing state legislators and members of Congress."

 

 

 

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Watch a Group of "Freedom Kids" Perform a Horrifying Song at a Donald Trump Rally

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 2:36 PM EST

In an apparent bid to land on the military's torture playlist, three young girls on Wednesday performed a creepy song-and-dance routine in honor of Donald Trump at a scheduled rally in Pensacola, Florida.

The three girls—dubbed the "Freedom Kids" because, of course, they are—donned patriotic dresses and sang lyrics straight out of the presidential hopeful's playbook:

Cowardice

Are you serious?

Apologies for freedom, I can’t handle this.

When freedom rings, answer the call!

On your feet, stand up tall!

Freedom's on our shoulders, USA!

Enemies of freedom face the music, c'mon boys, take them down

President Donald Trump knows how to make America great

Deal from strength or get crushed every time

Check out the crowd clapping (almost rhythmically) in the background, and try to figure out which of these patriotic adults are the proud, Trump-supporting parents of these "Freedom Kids."

(h/t Fusion)

Did Bernie Sanders Just Go Negative on Hillary Clinton?

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 1:15 PM EST

With the Democratic presidential race neck and neck in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, the volleys between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are heating up. Clinton has been slamming Sanders for his positions on gun control and health care. And now Sanders is firing back—in a way—and coming close to breaking his career-long vow to eschew negative ads. 

In his latest ad, called "Two Visions," Sanders contrasts his approach to Wall Street reform with another "Democratic view"—though he does not mention Clinton by name. In the ad, the Vermont senator gazes into the camera and says, "There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street. One says it's okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do." That certainly could be interpreted as a dig at Clinton for collecting donations from Wall Street over the years. Sanders continues: "My plan: Break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share."

This wouldn't be the first time that Sanders has highlighted Clinton's ties to Wall Street. (Remember the second debate?) But this ad is the closest the Sanders campaign has come to going back on its promise not to hit Clinton with negative ads. In June, Tad Devine, a top Sanders strategist, told Mother Jones that the campaign wouldn't even engage in comparison ads.

So, Devine notes, [Sanders] will not directly criticize or poke at Clinton. For sure, no personal attacks or cheap shots. "That won't help him," Devine says. "He rejects the status quo of politics." Sanders won't even do a straight-up contrast ad—as in, Bernie Sanders believes X about subject Y, but Hillary Clinton believes Z. "If we do that, we're done," Devine says. "If we do a classic comparative ad, it's over. We'll have to be smarter."

This new ad is not a true comparative ad—given that it doesn't name Clinton—but it's getting close. And there are still two weeks to the Iowa caucuses.

Watch DJ Khaled Give Jeb Bush an Amazing Pep Talk

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 12:50 PM EST

Rapper, producer, and record executive DJ Khaled has some chicken soup for Jeb Bush's soul. Khaled, of "I'm on One" and "All I Do Is Win" fame, has been rapping and producing for over a decade now, but has recently become popular among a different crowd for his ostentatious, and often relentlessly positive, videos on Snapchat and other social media platforms, and his popularization of a key emoji.

The former Florida governor and presidential candidate has struggled to project a personality that's any less flat than his recent poll numbers. But the race for the presidency is far from over, and maybe Jeb just needs a pick-me-up. DJ Khaled, though a self-avowed Obama supporter, lent his words of inspiration to the Bush campaign during a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night. 

"Jeb Bush, I appreciate you," Khaled said. "You're a leader. You're a Bush."

"You gotta water your plants, Jeb Bush," Khaled continued. "And cocoa butter. Live life smooth, use cocoa butter. Have a glow, always use cocoa butter. Major key."

Bush, seemingly boosted by Khaled's message, responded on Twitter: 

It is unclear whether DJ Khaled's inspiration (or Jeb's apples) will do the trick, but here's hoping that Bush is asked about his use of cocoa butter during Thursday night's GOP debate

Ben Carson's Campaign Finance Chairman Resigns

| Thu Jan. 14, 2016 12:12 PM EST

Ben Carson's struggling campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was dealt another blow on Thursday morning when his campaign finance chair resigned.

Dean Parker was responsible for spearheading the campaign's finances, and took credit for increases in donations using unconventional techniques, such as promising to put the names of donors' children on the inside of Carson's campaign bus. Parker's unusual tactics may have gone beyond thinking up creative fundraising incentives. The announcement of his resignation comes on the heels of a Politico report that Parker paid himself $20,000 per month and racked up unnecessary expenses.

Carson accepted Parker's resignation, and released an official statement supporting his former finance chair.

"Dean has been a valued member of my campaign team and a trusted friend; I appreciate and honor Dean's tireless efforts on behalf of saving America," Carson said. "Our significant fundraising success has been due, in large part, to Dean's dedication and commitment to 'We the People.'"

Carson will be participating in Thursday night's GOP debate, and is currently polling fourth in Iowa, the first state to vote in the nominating contest, according to an average of recent polls.