MoJo Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Ted Cruz's Wait-It-Out Strategy Could Prove Successful—or a "Colossal Mistake" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ted Cruz's run for president has gotten off to a rough start. He's currently in <a href="" target="_blank">sixth place</a> in the polls. The thirst for an outsider candidate that was supposed to propel his campaign has instead been quenched by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and now Carly Fiorina. But Cruz has a strategy for overcoming his lackluster performance thus far, one that's drawn strong reviews from some party insiders. Republican consultant Doug Heye praised his "smart" campaign to the <a href=""><em>Hill</em> newspaper</a>, and the conservative <em>National Review Online</em> <a href="">reported</a> on "growing chatter" among Republicans that Cruz "is likely to be one of the last men standing."</p> <p>The problem is that his strategy is a long shot. It basically calls for Cruz to muddle through the early contests and then kick into gear a month later when Southern states head to the polls in March. And by then, it might be too late for a Cruz surge.</p> <p>"If it works, everyone will say it's brilliant," says Craig Robinson, a Republican strategist in Iowa. "But if it fails, I think this could be looked back on as the colossal mistake his campaign made."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/10/ted-cruz-has-strategy-stick-it-out-gop-primary"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics 2016 Elections Ted Cruz Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:50:30 +0000 Pema Levy 286421 at Why Aren’t Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Backing Obama’s Push to Protect Your Retirement? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>All the Democrats running for president want to assure primary voters that if elected they would crack down on Wall Street. Bernie Sanders regularly rails against the big banks and how the government <a href="">needs to bust them up</a>. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton released a <a href="">new plan</a><strong> </strong>that described how she'd strengthen Dodd-Frank, the 2010 Dem bill that attempted<strong> </strong>to fix Wall Street after the crash.</p> <p>But neither Sanders nor Clinton has said whether they support or oppose one of the Obama administration's key proposals to protect consumer investments.</p> <p>Known as the "fiduciary rule," the plan comes from the Department of Labor and attempts to protect the interests of people with retirement accounts. Currently, retirement investment managers don't have a legal responsibility to represent their clients' best interests when offering advice. Instead, they're free to push their clients toward investments that would be profitable for the manager rather than the consumer. A broker might steer a client<strong>'</strong>s 401(k) to a favored firm that sponsored a recent golf outing, for example. That sort of shady advice hurts consumers, especially as old-fashioned pensions continue to decline and are replaced by 401(k)s and IRAs. <strong> </strong>The Department of Labor has estimated that conflicted advice costs consumers $17 billion per year.</p> <p>The Obama administration has been fighting to put a stop to these potential abuses. The Department of Labor has issued a proposed rule that would require brokers to explicitly<strong> </strong>work in their clients' interests even if that means lower profits for them. This push has been a long slog for the administration, with the first proposed rule&mdash;dating back to 2010&mdash;scrapped over objections from the financial industry and then<strong> </strong>rewritten. But the finish line is finally in sight. Labor has collected public comments on the proposal and is expected to issue a final rule in the near future. The fight over the fiduciary rule is likely one of the final major initiatives during the Obama administration that will<strong> </strong>impose new standards on the financial industry.</p> <p>So far, Clinton and Sanders have remained mum on the current version of the rule that the Obama administration has proposed, basically ignoring the issue completely. (Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley <a href="">included</a> a full endorsement of Obama's proposal in his plan for Social Security.)</p> <p>Sanders, normally the sort of politician who jumps at any chance to attack the financial industry, is on the record expressing skepticism about the first version of the fiduciary rule that the Obama administration proposed. In December, 2010, Sanders and his fellow Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy <a href="">wrote a letter</a> to the Department of Labor requesting a delay in the rule, voicing concerns expressed by<strong> </strong>Vermont companies that didn't want to see the rule put in place. They objected to how the rule treated Employee Stock Ownership Plans (systems in which employees earn stock as pay), claiming that it overly burdened appraisers with compliance costs.</p> <p>The rules on ESOP advisers have changed since that initial proposal (they're now exempted), but Sanders has yet to say anything about whether he supports or opposes it. His campaign spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment.</p> <p>Clinton also hasn't discussed the proposal. She was serving as secretary of state when the initial rule was presented in 2010, and therefore did not comment on it, but she still hasn't raised the issue since launching her campaign earlier this year. Her latest proposal on cleaning up Wall Street hinted at supporting the concept of restrictions on the type of advice investment managers can offer, but it did not refer to the Obama administration's plan. "Billions more [dollars] are drained from retirement accounts because of high fees and conflicts of interest in the investment management industry," her <a href="">plan reads</a>, though it only promises that "she will lay out specific proposals" later. Does that mean she supports or opposes the course that<strong> </strong>the Obama administration has suggested? Her campaign didn't respond to requests for clarification.</p> <p>While it might appear to be a minor issue&mdash;after all, many brokers will still guide their customers in the right direction&mdash;the fiduciary rule has become a major fight for liberal advocates. Labor unions have been <a href="">pushing</a> the measure hard. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren has become a vocal champion of the cause, <a href="">joining</a> President Barack Obama during his speech proposing the latest version of the rule earlier this year. "It's about time to do something we should have done long ago," Warren <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> at the time. "To end the kickbacks, the free vacations, the fancy cars, and the other incentives to sell bad products to unsuspecting customers."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Elections Hillary Clinton Regulatory Affairs Top Stories bernie sanders Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 286556 at Is Jim Webb Really Running for President? An Investigation. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Is Jim Webb actually running for president? I don't even know&mdash;and it's my job to.</p> <p>I mean that literally: <a href="" target="_blank">I'm covering the Webb campaign</a> for <em>Mother Jones. </em>And on Monday, my editor wanted to know what was up with the former Virginia senator who's vying, however quietly, for the Democratic nomination. He pops up in the news when he does interviews or <a href="" target="_blank">attends an event</a>&mdash;or when he's accused of <a href="" target="_blank">nearly beating a man to death</a> as an Annapolis midshipman&mdash;but it's sometimes hard to know he's still out there if you don't follow his <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter feed</a>. That feed, by the way, has just under 14,500 followers, fewer than the nearly 20,000 who follow <a href="" target="_blank">former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee</a>, who's even more under the radar as a Democratic hopeful. (To be fair, Webb beats Chafee on Facebook.)</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/10/jim-webb-isnt-actually-running-president-guys"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Top Stories Jim Webb Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:00:10 +0000 Max J. Rosenthal 286381 at We Were Sued by a Billionaire Political Donor. We Won. Here's What Happened. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><span class="section-lead">Today we are</span> happy to announce a monumental legal victory for <em>Mother Jones</em>: A judge in Idaho has ruled in our favor on all claims in a defamation case filed by a major Republican donor, Frank VanderSloot, and his company, Melaleuca Inc. In a <a href="" target="_blank">decision</a> issued Tuesday, the court found that <em>Mother Jones</em> did not defame VanderSloot or Melaleuca because "all of the statements at issue are non-actionable truth or substantial truth."&nbsp;The court also found that the statements were protected as fair comment under the First Amendment.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/vandersloot-ruling.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Read the full ruling here. </strong></a></div> </div> <p>This is the culmination of a lengthy, expensive legal saga that began three years ago when the 2012 presidential primaries were in full swing. On February 6, 2012, we <a href="" target="_blank">published</a> an article about VanderSloot after it emerged that his company, Melaleuca, and its subsidiaries had given $1 million to Mitt Romney's super-PAC. The piece noted that VanderSloot had gone to unusual lengths to oppose gay rights in Idaho, and that Melaleuca had run into trouble with regulators.</p> <p>VanderSloot's lawyers sent us a letter complaining about the article. We reviewed their concerns and posted a correction about a few details. So far, not an uncommon scenario; it's something every newsroom deals with from time to time.</p> <p>But that September, we broke the story of Romney's 47 percent comments, which some have argued cost the GOP the White House. Four months later, VanderSloot&mdash;who was also one of Gov. Romney's national finance chairs&mdash;filed a defamation lawsuit against <em>Mother Jones</em> as well as Stephanie Mencimer, the reporter of the article, and Monika personally (for her tweet about the piece).</p> <p>People have asked us whether we think these two things were connected, and the honest answer is that we have no idea. What we do know is that the take-no-prisoners legal assault from VanderSloot and Melaleuca has consumed a good part of the past two and a half years and has cost millions (yes, millions) in legal fees. In the course of the litigation, VanderSloot sued a former small-town Idaho newspaper reporter whose confrontation with him we mentioned in our article. His lawyers asked a judge to let them rifle through the internal records of the Obama campaign. They deposed a representative of the campaign in pursuit of a baseless theory that <em>Mother Jones</em> conspired with Obama's team to defame VanderSloot. They tried to get one of our lawyers disqualified because his firm had once done work for Melaleuca. They intrusively questioned our employees&mdash;our reporter was grilled about whether she had attended a Super Bowl party the night she finalized the article.</p> <p>Legally, what we fought over was what, precisely, the terms "bashing" and "outing" meant in the context of our article. (<a href="" target="_blank">Read the decision for yourself</a>.) But make no mistake: This was not a dispute over a few words. It was a push, by a superrich businessman and donor, to wipe out news coverage that he disapproved of. Had he been successful, it would have been a chilling indicator that the 0.01 percent can control not only the financing of political campaigns, but also media coverage of those campaigns.</p> <p>Throughout this lawsuit, VanderSloot appeared to be engaged in rewriting his own history of opposing the expansion of civil rights to LGBT people. His complaint focused on two things: He asserted that we defamed him by "falsely stating that Mr. VanderSloot 'bashed' and 'publicly out[ed] a reporter.'" He also claimed that Monika's tweet about the article defamed him by referring to "gay-bashing."</p> <p>In a way, there was something ironically hopeful about this: A conservative Republican&mdash;someone who not long ago was quoted saying it was "child abuse" to put a film about gay parents on public television&mdash;had apparently come to believe that to call him a gay-basher was so damaging to his reputation that he must fight the argument at virtually any cost. It's a sign of just how far America has moved in just a few years that this entire case&nbsp; felt like something from a time capsule.</p> <p>To be sure, VanderSloot has much at stake in reworking his public profile. He's now widely recognized as one of the megadonors who will help determine who wins the 2016 GOP nomination. He has <a href="" target="_blank">vowed</a> to be even more "financially active" than he was in 2012, when he raised between $2 million and $5 million for Romney. In burnishing his image as a national figure, he might like people to forget about certain aspects of his past, such as the fact that he financed an ad campaign to amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality. (One of the ads pointed out that such an amendment would also prevent marriages between "a person and an animal.")</p> <p>"I have learned a great deal about the debate of homosexuality and sexual orientation," he wrote in <a href="" target="_blank">an op-ed</a> this past February. "I believe that gay people should have the same freedoms and rights as any other individual."</p> <p>That's a fascinating story. But it's also a frightening one. If VanderSloot had prevailed, he would have proven that with enough money to throw at lawyers, you can wipe the slate. You can go after those who document the past and the present, and if you can't make them cry "uncle" you can at least append a legal asterisk to their work forevermore.&nbsp;</p> <p>That's why we've pushed back. Frank VanderSloot may have evolved along with America. We respect that. But it doesn't erase the past.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><span class="section-lead"><strong>Perhaps fittingly,</strong></span> a major element in this case about the right of the press to afflict the powerful was a piece of investigative journalism. In 2005, a young reporter at the 26,000-circulation <em>Post Register</em> in Idaho Falls got a tip about a pedophile in the local Boy Scouts. The reporter, Peter Zuckerman, dug into the story and discovered legal documents indicating that Scout leaders had received multiple warnings about a camp employee but had not removed him. The documents also indicated that the man's bishop in the Mormon Church had been warned about him as early as 1988 and had sent him to counseling, but had told the Scouts years later that he saw no reason the man should not be a camp leader. In one case, according to a court <a href="" target="_blank">decision</a>, a 10-year-old's parents told Scout leaders they were concerned about the man's behavior. When he was arrested the following year, Scout leaders learned that he had molested the child, but decided not to tell the parents.</p> <p>The series made a huge splash. It won a string of prestigious journalism <a href=";today=2006-03-10" target="_blank">awards</a>. It became the subject of a PBS <a href="" target="_blank">documentary</a>. But there were also angry phone calls to the paper. Advertisers pulled out. And Frank VanderSloot got involved.</p> <p>VanderSloot is reportedly the <a href="" target="_blank">richest man in Idaho</a>, and among the most powerful. His company, Melaleuca, sells tea-tree oil supplements and personal-care products via an Avon-like system of individual marketers who recruit others to sell. His net worth has been estimated as $1.2 billion, and for decades he has been a major power in Idaho politics, especially on LGBT issues. He financed an ad campaign that helped defeat a state Supreme Court justice on grounds that she might vote to legalize same-sex marriage. His wife <a href="" target="_blank">gave</a> $100,000 to the campaign to pass the anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8 in California.</p> <p>In the late 1990s, he <a href="" target="_blank">helped pay for billboards across the state</a> protesting Idaho public television's plan to air <a href="" target="_blank">a film</a> intended to teach kids respect for different kinds of families. The government, he said, should not "be spending our tax dollars to bring the homosexual lifestyle into the classroom and introduce it to our children as being normal, right, acceptable, and good and an appropriate lifestyle for them or anyone else to be living."</p> <p>VanderSloot has long been active in the Mormon church, and he was a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts. When the <em>Post Register</em>'s series ran, he swung into action. He took out full-page <a href="" target="_blank">ads</a> in the paper attacking the investigation and Peter Zuckerman, the 26-year-old lead reporter on the series. One of the ads noted that Zuckerman had written an article about his sexual orientation for a journalism site while on a fellowship in Florida. The ad said he had declared "that he is homosexual and admitted that it is very difficult for him to be objective on things he feels strongly about."</p> <p>"Much has been said on a local radio station and throughout the community," VanderSloot's ad continued, "speculating that the Boy Scouts' position of not letting gay men be Scout Leaders, and the LDS Church's position that marriage should be between a man and a woman may have caused Zuckerman to attack the scouts and the LDS Church through his journalism."</p> <p>"We think it would be very unfair for anyone to conclude that is what is behind Zuckerman's motives," the ad continued. "It would be wrong to do. The only known facts are, that for whatever reason, Zuckerman chose to weave a story that unfairly, and without merit, paints Scout leaders and church leaders to appear unscrupulous, and blame[s] them for the molestation of little children." Decoding the message between the lines is left as an exercise for the reader.</p> <p>The ads had a dramatic impact. Though Zuckerman had been open about his sexual orientation before he came to Idaho, his editor Dean Miller later <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a> that in Idaho Falls the reporter "was not 'out' to anyone but family, a few colleagues at the paper (including me), and his close friends." Zuckerman had already gotten some negative reactions after a local talk show with a tiny audience discussed his sexual orientation. But according to Miller's article and Zuckerman's testimony in the litigation, things got much worse after VanderSloot's ads. "Strangers started ringing Peter's doorbell at night," Miller said. "Despite the harassment, Peter kept coming to work and chasing down leads on other pedophiles in the Grand Teton Council. I spoke at his church one Sunday and meant it when I said that I hope my son grows into as much of a man as Peter had." (Later that year, Zuckerman moved to Portland, where he took a job with the <em>Oregonian</em> while his partner was <a href="" target="_blank">elected</a> the city's first openly gay mayor.)</p> <p>Fast forward to 2012. Miller's article about the Boy Scouts controversy was one of the stories that our reporter Stephanie Mencimer found after VanderSloot's name popped up in the January campaign finance filings. It was the first presidential election of the dark-money era, and <em>Mother Jones</em>' politics team had zeroed in on the huge new super-PACs being created to pump unrestricted money into campaigns of both parties. VanderSloot stood out because Melaleuca was among the <a href="" target="_blank">top contributors to Restore Our Future</a>, the super-PAC supporting Romney. Mencimer wrote an article about him that included a few paragraphs on his history of anti-gay-rights activism and his run-in with the <em>Post Register</em>.</p> <p>Those paragraphs are what VanderSloot and Melaleuca sued us over. They filed the suit in Bonneville County, Idaho, and asked for damages of up to $74,999&mdash;exactly $1 under the amount at which the lawsuit could have been removed to federal court. That ensured the case would be decided by jurors from the community where his company is the biggest employer and the sponsor of everything from the minor league ballpark to the Fourth of July fireworks.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since then, <em>Mother Jones</em> and our insurance company have had to spend at least $2.5 million defending ourselves. We also took up the defense of Zuckerman, whom VanderSloot sued halfway through the case for talking to Rachel Maddow about his experience. (VanderSloot did not sue MSNBC or its deep-pocketed parent company, Comcast. Make of that what you will.)</p> <p>Here's a moment that gives you a sense of what it was like. At one point, Zuckerman was subjected to roughly 10 hours of grilling by VanderSloot's lawyers about every detail of the controversy in Idaho Falls, including the breakup with his boyfriend of five years. (VanderSloot also threatened to sue the ex-boyfriend, backing off only after he recanted statements he'd made about the Boy Scouts episode.) As the lawyers kept probing, Zuckerman broke down and cried as he testified that the time after the ads appeared was one of the darkest periods of his life. VanderSloot, who had flown to Portland for the occasion, sternly looked on. (His lawsuit against Zuckerman is ongoing.)</p> <p>And that wasn't the end of it. VanderSloot's legal team subpoenaed the Obama campaign, which had run ads naming him as a major Republican donor. Apparently they believed we had somehow fed the campaign that information&mdash;never mind that our article, and the Federal Election Commission data that prompted it&mdash;was on the internet for anyone to read.</p> <p>When officials from the Obama campaign refused to turn over their records&mdash;offering to confirm under oath that there had been no communication between them and <em>Mother Jones</em>&mdash;VanderSloot's lawyers dragged them into court, resulting in the spectacle of a major GOP donor seeking access to the Democratic campaign's emails. His lawyers did the same thing to a political researcher who had gathered information on VanderSloot and who also had no connection to <em>Mother Jones</em>.</p> <p>This kind of legal onslaught is enormously taxing. Last year, Lowell Bergman, the legendary <em>60 Minutes</em> producer (whose story of exposing Big Tobacco was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film <em>The Insider</em>), talked about a "<a href="" target="_blank">chill in the air</a>" as investigative reporters confront billionaires who can hurt a news organization profoundly whether or not they win in court: "There are individuals and institutions with very deep pockets and unaccountable private power who don't like the way we report. One example is a case involving <em>Mother Jones</em>&hellip;A superrich plaintiff is spending millions of dollars while he bleeds the magazine and ties up its staff."</p> <p>Litigation like this, Bergman said, is "being used to tame the press, to cause publishers and broadcasters to decide whether to stand up or stand down, to self-censor."</p> <p>Over the past three years, we've had to face that decision over and over again. Should we just cave in&mdash;retract our article or let VanderSloot get a judgment against us&mdash;and make this all go away? It wasn't an easy choice, but we decided to fight back. Because it's not just about us. It's about everyone who relies on <em>Mother Jones</em> to report the facts as we find them. It's about the Fourth Estate's check on those who would use their outsized influence and ability to finance political campaigns to control the direction of the country. It's about making sure that in a time when media is always under pressure to buckle to politicians or big-money interests, you can trust that someone will stand up and go after the truth.</p> <p>And it's about one more thing. Just a few years ago, no one thought that America could move so far, so fast, toward respecting the rights of gays and lesbians. No one thought that by 2015 same-sex couples would have a constitutional right to marry or, for that matter, that the Boy Scouts would rescind their ban against gay troop leaders and the Mormon Church would back them up. That happened because a lot of people stood up to threats and discrimination. They came out to their families and communities. They declared their love for everyone to see. They didn't let themselves be intimidated. Nor will we.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Postscript: In her <a href="" target="_blank">decision</a> Tuesday, the district court judge found in our favor on every single claim VanderSloot had made. She also included a passage expressing her own opinion of </em>Mother Jones<em>, and of political news coverage in general. For his part, Vandersloot issued a statement saying he had been "absolutely vindicated" and announced that he was setting up a $1 million fund to pay the legal expenses of people wanting to sue </em>Mother Jones<em> or other members of the "liberal press." We'll leave it with the <a href="" target="_blank">reaction</a> from our lawyer, <a href="" target="_blank">James Chadwick</a>: This was "a little like the LA Clippers claiming they won the NBA Finals. I think </em><em>everyone can see what's going on here." </em></p></body></html> Media Media Money in Politics The Right Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:51:26 +0000 Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery 286386 at The Not-So-Great Moments of One of the Guys Still Running for Speaker <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) <a href="" target="_blank">suddenly dropped out of the running</a> for House Speaker Thursday, it wasn't immediately clear who was the odds-on pick to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. But there were two contenders who remained in the race: Reps. Jason Chaffetz&nbsp;of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida. And some eyes turned quickly&nbsp;to Utah's Jason Chaffetz, who is perhaps the more prominent of the pair and who chairs the&nbsp;House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.</p> <p>McCarthy's surprising self-defenestration, though, did not immediately boost&nbsp;Chaffetz's chances; other names were quickly&nbsp;floated by House Republicans and pundits. Yet the story of&nbsp;Chaffetz's rise from kicker on the Brigham Young University football team to a speaker <em>contender</em>&nbsp;is <a href="" target="_blank">an intriguing tale</a>, in which he has hit several rough spots.&nbsp;A small sampling:</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/10/chaffetz-speaker-mccarthy-gop-implosion"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Congress The Right Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:09:42 +0000 AJ Vicens 286511 at The Race for House Speaker Has Republicans "Audibly Crying" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The House GOP now has a full-blown leadership crisis on its hands. As Republican lawmakers gathered on Thursday to elect a new speaker, John Boehner's presumptive heir for the top spot, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), unexpectedly bowed out of the race, telling his colleagues he was "not the guy." Boehner&mdash;who <a href="" target="_blank">reportedly joked recently</a>, "I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn't get out"&mdash;was forced to postpone the vote for his successor. Lawmakers who were present for the closed-door meeting reported a scene of <a href="" target="_blank">"chaos"</a> that included <a href="" target="_blank">"audible crying."</a></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Rep. Peter King tells me that members are crying in cloakroom, unable to handle the unrest and confusion. "A banana republic," he says.</p> &mdash; Robert Costa (@costareports) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Boehner, who promised before the 2014 election that he would tame his fractious party, shocked the capital last month by announcing he was resigning from Congress. But there were still plenty of candidates to fill the top job&mdash;or so we thought. McCarthy, as the House GOP's No. 2 man and a prodigious fundraiser, immediately became the front-runner for Boehner's job, <a href="" target="_blank">despite speculation that he would have no easier time wrangling the Freedom Caucus</a>, the rebellious group of right-wingers who frequently were a thorn in Boehner's side.</p> <p>With McCarthy out, it's unclear who will fill the leadership void. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who was not previously thought of as as a serious candidate for the job (<a href="" target="_blank">apparently even by himself</a>), <a href="" target="_blank">is still in the running</a>. And the Freedom Caucus has put forward Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for the speakership. But neither Chaffetz nor Webster appear to have enough backers to win the speakership. Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who is highly regarded by his colleagues, has made it plain that <a href="" target="_blank">he has no interest in the job</a>. At the moment, it looks like Boehner's nightmare may indeed come true.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Top Stories Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:42:36 +0000 Russ Choma 286501 at Oklahoma Discovers It Used the Wrong Drug to Execute an Inmate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier this month, Oklahoma halted all executions in the state after it <a href="" target="_blank">nearly executed death row inmate Richard Glossip</a> using the wrong drug, and one that's not allowed by its own execution protocol. Today, the <em>Oklahoman</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that the state had already made that same error in the execution of another inmate, Charles Warner, in January&mdash;it just didn't notice.</p> <p>The state halted Glossip's execution last week after an executioner discovered that the vial of a drug thought to be potassium chloride, which is used in the three-drug cocktail to stop an inmate's heart, actually contained potassium acetate, a different, less potent drug that's not allowed by the state's written protocol. After discovering the mix-up, the state attorney general asked the courts to stay all the executions currently scheduled until officials could investigate further.</p> <p>As it turned out, state officials had already used the potassium acetate once before, in the execution of Warner, a man who was convicted in 2003 of raping and murdering an 11-month-old baby. Autopsy records show that the syringes used on Warner were labeled as containing potassium chloride, but in fact had been filled from vials of potassium acetate, a substitution that was not indicated in the corrections department execution logs. Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University and an expert on lethal injection, says, "Until today, no state has acknowledged using potassium acetate for execution by lethal injection, and no state has publicly proposed using it." The law requires the state to inform a condemned inmate if it plans to change the execution protocol. It appears that this didn't happen in Warner's case.</p> <p>Then again, states haven't been very forthcoming about much of the process of lethal injection. They've <a href="" target="_blank">passed laws</a> shielding the people involved from public exposure and preventing even the condemned inmates from knowing the source or makeup of the drugs to be used on them. Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender in Arizona who represented Glossip and other Oklahoma death row inmates in their Supreme Court challenge to lethal injection, said in a statement today that he'll be continuing litigation against the state to find out more about what went wrong. "We cannot trust Oklahoma to get it right or to tell the truth," he said. "The State&rsquo;s disclosure that it used potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride during the execution of Charles Warner yet again raises serious questions about the ability of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to carry out executions."</p> <p>Warner's execution was supposed to prove that citizens could trust Oklahoma to kill inmates properly. His date with death had been delayed by six months last year after the execution of another inmate, Clayton Lockett, <a href="" target="_blank">was badly botched</a> after the doctor failed to insert a catheter properly into his vein. (Lockett ultimately died from a heart attack after suffering intensely from the misplaced line.) That execution may have led the US Supreme Court to take up Glossip's challenge to Oklahoma's drug protocol and the use of the sedative midazolam. In June, the court ruled against Glossip and allowed Oklahoma to proceed again with executions. State officials expressed confidence that new training procedures and other improvements would prevent any problems with future executions. Today's news suggest they might have been a little overconfident.</p> <p>In various challenges to the use of drugs like midazolam in executions, defense lawyers have argued that states are simply conducting unethical medical experiments on inmates, testing out new and different drugs that were designed to help heal people, not kill them. The latest news about the drug mix-up in Warner's execution will only add fodder to those arguments. It also suggests that Oklahoma is not so different from many other states that have shown that the people today who are involved in executions are often <a href="" target="_blank">poorly trained and incompetent</a>.</p> <p>Dr. Jay Chapman, the Oklahoma coroner who essentially created the modern lethal injection protocol, thought the process should be simple and humane. But history proved him wrong. As he <a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">observed in the <em>New York Times</em> in 2007</a>, "It never occurred to me when we set this up that we'd have complete idiots administering the drugs."</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:22:51 +0000 Stephanie Mencimer 286496 at Jeb Bush Would Not Reauthorize the Voting Rights Act <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jeb Bush thinks the country's landmark law to prevent discrimination against voters of color has run its course. On Thursday, the Republican presidential candidate said he wouldn't renew the Voting Rights Act. "I don't support reauthorizing it as is," he said when asked about the law at an event in Des Moines.</p> <p>The 1965 law, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, has dramatically reduced racial discrimination in voting. But for the past two years, its impact has been less clear. In 2013, the Supreme Court <a href="">struck down</a> the heart of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. That provision laid out a formula to determine which states had a history of voting discrimination that would subject them to extra scrutiny every time they sought to change voting laws. At the time, nine states were affected by the clause. Unless Congress writes a new formula that would pass muster with the Supreme Court, the effect of the law remains muted.</p> <p>To Bush, singling out states for their historic racism is no longer relevant. "If it's to reauthorize it to continue to provide regulations on top of states as though we are living in 1960&mdash;'cause those were basically when many of those rules were put in place&mdash;I don't believe that we should do that," he said. "There has been dramatic improvement in access to voting. I mean, exponentially better improvement. And I don't think there is a role for the federal government to play in most places, could be some, but in most places where they did have a constructive role in the '60s. So I don't support reauthorizing it as is."</p> <p>Even if he's elected president, Bush won't be faced with an impending deadline to renew the law, which isn't set to expire until 2031. That's because his brother, George W. Bush, signed a reauthorization of the law in 2006, extending it for another 25 years. Back then, ensuring a just voting system was still a bipartisan cause, with the reauthorization passing the Senate 98-0 and the House of Representatives 390-33. When he signed the bill, Jeb's brother likened the cause to the spirit of equality in the Declaration of Independence, and vowed that his administration would not only enforce the law but also defend it from any legal challenges.</p> <p>"In four decades since the Voting Rights Act was first passed, we've made progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never ending," George W. Bush <a href="">said at the signing ceremony</a>. "We'll continue to build on the legal equality won by the civil rights movement to help ensure that every person enjoys the opportunity that this great land of liberty offers."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Bush Civil Liberties Elections Jeb Bush voter suppression Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:48:22 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 286486 at Here's What Happened When Ben Carson Was Actually Confronted by a Dangerous Gunman <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Since last week's mass shooting in Oregon, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has made a series of eyebrow-raising comments.</p> <p>On Monday, he <a href="" target="_blank">wrote </a>on Facebook, "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."</p> <p>On Tuesday, he appeared on <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;"><em>Fox &amp; Friends</em>, where he seemed to suggest that the victims of the Umpqua Community College</span> shooting should have responded differently to the heavily armed gunman. <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," Carson <a href="" target="_blank">said</a>. "I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'" (Carson was apparently unaware of the story of <a href="" target="_blank">Chris Mintz</a>, an army veteran who&nbsp;<em>did&nbsp;</em>block the door between the shooter and a classroom full of people, suffering several gunshot wounds and two broken legs in the process.)</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">On Wednesday, Carson <a href="" target="_blank">doubled down</a>&nbsp;on these controversial comments in an interview with <em>CBS This Morning</em>. </span>"I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time," he said. "That way, we don't all wind up dead."</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">That brings us to Wednesday evening, </span>when Carson appeared on a radio show and described an actual episode in which he was faced with a gunman. In Carson's telling, he responded quite differently in this real-life scenario than he said he would have reacted if faced with a possible shooter. "I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye's in Baltimore," Carson <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> Sirius XM's Karen Hunter. "[A] guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, 'I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'"</p> <p>Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Twittersphere pounced:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align center" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">@drewmagary</a> Ben Carson at Ford's Theater: "HE'S the President Mr. Booth"</p> &mdash; Steak Knives (@Josh1938) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It makes you wonder what Carson really would have done had he been in that classroom, staring down the barrel of a gun. Clearly, he would definitely not "just stand there."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Elections Guns Top Stories Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:07:31 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286481 at The NRA Is Losing Its Grip on Power <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared on </em><a href="" target="_blank">ProPublica</a><em>.</em></p> <p>No sooner had the toll from the latest mass shooting been tallied than came the world-weary predictions that the carnage would have zero political effect. "Why the Gun Debate Won&rsquo;t Change After the Oregon Shooting," read <a href="" target="_blank">the headline at <em>The Fix</em></a>, the <em>Washington Post's</em> political blog<em><em>.</em></em></p> <p>Without doubt, the gun rights lobby is a formidable force. It is backed by a <a href="" target="_blank">truly grassroots network of committed and well-organized supporters</a> who are willing to make calls to legislators and turn out in even low-turnout elections to back pro-gun candidates. This "intensity gap" bedevils gun control groups, which, however well some of their proposals poll, have trouble getting voters to agitate and to prioritize the gun issue the way gun rights defenders do.</p> <p>But the invincibility of the gun lobby is being overstated. For one thing, gun ownership is becoming <a href="" target="_blank">more concentrated in a smaller share of the population</a>, one that is increasingly clustered in certain regions, thus limiting the lobby's political reach.</p> <p>For another thing, the big recent defeat for the gun control movement, the 2013 failure to pass universal background checks for gun purchases, was a close call. <a href="" target="_blank">Six senators</a> with A-ratings from the NRA voted for the bill; it fell just <a href="" target="_blank">five short of the filibuster-proof 60</a>. Had it passed the Senate, there would have been great pressure from the Sandy Hook families to bring it up for a vote in the House, and it would have needed only about 20 Republicans to pass.</p> <p>No, the odds of the bill being revived anytime soon are not good, with the Senate now in Republican control. But things are shifting beneath the surface. The two Democrats who voted against the bill and were up for re-election last year both lost, after getting <a href="" target="_blank">zero backing from the NRA in exchange for their vote</a>; this will make centrist Democrats less likely to vote with the NRA in the future. Meanwhile, two Democratic governors who signed tough gun laws, in Colorado and Connecticut, <a href="" target="_blank">both won re-election</a> in an otherwise brutal year for their party. A year earlier, Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia, the NRA's home state, <a href="" target="_blank">while running on an outspokenly anti-NRA platform</a>.</p> <p>As more elected officials take on the NRA and live to tell the tale, the <a href="" target="_blank">calculus for even self-interested politicians will evolve</a>, especially if gun control supporters start to really challenge those who vote against them. There are three "no" votes on background checks with tough re-election races in swing states next year: Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Rob Portman in Ohio. Simply deciding that the gun control issue is a political loser is self-fulfilling, just the sort of fatalism that the NRA counts on to preserve the status quo.</p> <link href="" rel="canonical"><meta content="" name="syndication-source"><script type="text/javascript" src="" async></script></body></html> Politics Congress Guns Top Stories Thu, 08 Oct 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Alec MacGillis 286246 at