Amidst an increasingly unpredictable political season, tonight the Iowa caucuses will finally cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's an outsider vs. establishment war in both parties, as Republican leaders struggle to dislodge Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from the top while Hillary Clinton marshalls her endorsements and long résumé against the populist zeal of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The best guesses of FiveThirtyEight, BetFair, and Ann Selzer's gold-standard Des Moines Register poll all favor Trump and Clinton, but the race remains very close, and turnout in the demanding and complicated caucus events will be key. Vox provides a helpful video explainer on the process [previously]. Pass the time with FiveThirtyEight's 40-minute elections podcast, and keep an eye on the New York Times live blog of the caucuses for real-time updates once voting starts at 8:00 PM Eastern -- and don't forget to leave your two cents in the MeFi election prediction contest!
Donald Trump isn't funny anymore. Currently leading the polls in part due to a reaction to the Paris attacks that saw him inciting hatred against Muslim Americans with defamatory lies, Trump has eased off calls for a database of Muslims in favor of a new target, Black Americans, retweeting fake crime statistics provided by neo-nazis and supporting the beating of black protestors at his rallies. Let’s be clear, millions of Americans love Trump and are perfectly fine with him advancing racist lies. writes activist Shaun King, It’s ugly, but this, ladies and gentlemen, is America. 2015.
Kentucky counties with highest Medicaid rates backed Matt Bevin, who plans to cut Medicaid
Owsley County, one of the nation's poorest places [prev], neatly fit the trend. Nearly 1,000 of its 4,508 residents got health insurance after Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear established Kynect two years ago and expanded Medicaid to include people up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is $16,105 a year for an individual. Newly insured people started to visit the Owsley County Medical Clinic on the outskirts of Booneville. They desperately needed medical care. Even by Kentucky's lax standards, Owsley has high rates of obesity, smoking and poor nutrition, and as a result, greater than normal incidences of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Some patients wept with relief as longtime ailments finally were treated, clinic officials said. [...] The community's largest-circulation newspaper, the Three Forks Tradition in Beattyville, did not say much about Kynect ahead of the election. Instead, its editorials roasted Obama and Hillary Clinton, gay marriage, Islam, "liberal race peddlers," "liberal media," black criminals and "the radical Black Lives Matter movement."Owsley County voted for Bevin, a Tea Party businessman who vowed to dismantle Kynect, by a 70-25 margin. [more inside]
A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
The recent Republican letter to Iran has received an impressive, diplomatically amusing response on Twitter from Iran's Foreign Minister, in which he schools the Republican Party on the intricacies of international law and the US Constitution. The letter, penned by a freshman senator who recently advocated regime change and an end to talks with Iran, appears to have violated the Logan Act, but probably can't be prosecuted. President Obama's response was short and classic.
When President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler (a former top telecom lobbyist) as chairman of the FCC, he got a lot of grief for selling out his '07 pledge to protect Net Neutrality -- the founding principle long prized by open web activists that ISPs cannot privilege certain data over others, without which dire visions of a tiered and pay-for-play internet loomed. Earlier, weaker attempts at net neutrality had failed in court, and the new chairman looked set to fold. But after an unprecedented outcry following last year's trial balloon for ISP "fast lanes" -- including a viral appeal by John Oliver, a public urging by the president, and perhaps Wheeler's own history with the pre-web NABU Network -- the FCC yesterday voted along party lines to enact the toughest net neutrality rules in history, classifying ISPs as common carriers and clearing the way for municipal broadband. ISPs reacted with (Morse) venom, while congressional Republicans are divided over what they called "Obamacare for the internet."
Kochs Plan to Spend $900 Million on 2016 Campaign - "an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history... These donors represent the largest concentration of political money outside the party establishment, one that has achieved enormous power in Republican circles in recent years. Now the Kochs' network will embark on its largest drive ever to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party's dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government."
Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation - "Enjoying a majority of unprecedented breadth, Republicans plan a new tide of conservative initiatives targeting the Common Core, abortion, income taxes, labor unions and the EPA." (via) [more inside]
Frank Schaeffer: "You can’t understand why the GOP was so successful in winning back both houses of Congress in 2014, and wrecking most of what Obama has tried to do, unless you understand what we did back then." [more inside]
This Is What's the Matter With Kansas: Sam Brownback tried to create a conservative utopia. He created a conservative hell instead. [more inside]
How Ronald Reagan Used An 'Invisible Bridge' To Win Over Americans - "Rick Perlstein's new book describes how Reagan emerged as the leader of a potent political movement during the turbulent mid-'70s. He says the soul of Reagan's appeal was how he made people feel good." [more inside]
The Republican Party began selling new web domains ending in .gop today at www.join.gop. Public interest has definitely been sparked, but perhaps not for the reasons Republicans have hoped. [more inside]
United States Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, has lost the Republican primary election in Virginia's 7th Congressional District to Dave Brat, a political newcomer and economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. [more inside]
Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
Ron Paul's 2012 campaign implicated in bribery scandal. On the eve of the 2012 Republican Iowa Caucuses, US Rep. Michele Bachmann alleged that Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson informed her that he had switched his support to Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign after being promised a large sum of money. Ron Paul personally denied these claims, but emails and documents were recently leaked, with proposals for the Ron Paul campaign to pay up to $208,000 to Sorenson, his staffers, and his PAC. More damning, a recorded phone call has been released, in which Sorenson admits to being bribed, and implicates Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's former campaign manager, 2010 campaign manager for Rand Paul, and now, the manager of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2014 campaign.
"Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner — has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by [David Corn and] Mother Jones." Photo Gallery: Meet Groundswell's Major Players. Also: Groundswell's Secret Crusade to Crush Karl Rove // (Via) [more inside]
The Republican Party is in a bind on immigration; after being saddled last year with a presidential nominee who notoriously suggested "self-deportation" as a solution to the issue and earning a mere 27% of the Latino vote, it was widely expected that the Republicans would find a way to appeal to that important—and growing—voting bloc. They may well yet, but it currently appears that the bill recently passed by the Senate is most likely dead on arrival in the House, to the satisfaction of certain voices on the right. But compare the rhetoric of 2013 with the remarks made by then-candidates Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush at a forum in 1980 and consider how far the Republican Party has shifted...
The Republican National Committee released its "autopsy" report [PDF] today, analyzing what's wrong with the Grand Old Party after two presidential defeats, with recommendations.
"This is all out of Lord of the Flies and Karl Rove is Piggy and we’re supposed to all chase him around with spikes and throw him on a fire?" An assortment of popular conservative pundits are trapped on a luxury cruise with well-heeled members of their audience, right after losing the election. One question hangs in the air: who is responsible for this loss?! Hilarity ensues.
Chip Rogers is the Republican Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate, and Treasurer of ALEC (previously 1 2). On October 11th he hosted a four-hour briefing for his fellow senators, regarding Obama's mind-control techniques which are forcing the US into a United Nations-led Communist dictatorship in which suburbanites are forcibly relocated to cities. The theory is based on Agenda 21, the non-binding 1992 UN treaty on sustainable development. Rogers narrowly failed to pass a resolution against Agenda 21, but other states have done so, and Alabama has even forbidden its implementation in law.
"Used to be that the idea was 'once every two years voters elected their representatives.' And now instead it's 'every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.'"
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority, undermined Obama's mandate, set the terms of the sequestration fight, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade. It's not a new problem. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act, it could get a whole lot worse. And the electoral college may be next. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
Charlie Pierce is a longtime sportswriter and author who has, among other things, reported for Grantland, Slate, and the Boston Globe, paneled on more than a few games of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, and fished diapers out of trees as a state forest ranger. He's also made a name for himself as one of the sharpest and most incisive political columnists since Molly Ivins. The lead writer for Esquire's Politics Blog ever since a caustic article on former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell cost him his Globe job, Pierce has churned out an uninterrupted stream of clever, colorful, and challenging commentary on the 2012 election season and its implications for the nation's future, dispatches often seething with eviscerative anger but shot through with deep love of (or perhaps grief for) country. Look inside for a selection of Pierce's most vital works for some edifying Election Eve reading. [more inside]
A Conservative History of the United States - Jack Hitt for New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs, pieces together America's storied history from quotes by Rick Perry, Dick Armey, Mike Huckabee, Dan Quayle and more.
Paul Ryan. Seven-term congressman for Wisconsin's 1st District. Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. Architect of the controversial Ryan Budget -- a "Path to Prosperity" [PDF - video - CBO] that would slash trillions from the federal budget, sharply curtail taxes on the wealthy, and transform Medicare into a private voucher system. Proponent (vid) -- and renouncer -- of Ayn Rand 's Objectivism. Social Security beneficiary. Hunter. Weinermobile driver. And as of this morning, the 2012 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States of America. [more inside]
Mitt Romney's cousin explains the history of the GOP and Mormonism through twitter (and other interesting things)
Miles Kimball tells the history behind the Mormon church's close ties to the GOP through his twitter account. [more inside]
With the U.S. Presidential election about 3 months away, and voter ID laws headed to court this Wednesday in Pennsylvania and in other states like Texas and Minnesota, Propublica tells you Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws. A solution to a nonproblem. [Previously] [more inside]
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law. The product of a strict party line vote following a
year century of debate, disinformation, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act would (among other popular reforms) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives (including presidential contender Mitt Romney) is the central question facing the justices today. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state.
But despite the pessimism of bettors, some believe the Court will demur, wary of damaging its already-fragile reputation with another partisan 5-4 decision. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
Herman Cain: Rogue, Rick Santorum: Cleric, Ron Paul: Wizard, Mitt Romney: Bard and Newt Gingrich: HROTHGAR! The GOP and Obama finally sit down and discuss the important things in life, like THAC0 and encumbrance. [more inside]
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women. Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
Presenting for your perusal: "The Conservative Teen", a new magazine designed to instill the right values in today's youth.
Artist Bas Van Oerle presents a series of propaganda posters for the 2012 Republican presidential contenders. Ron Paul For The Youth Vote. Fields of Santorum. Love Me Romney. Join The Cosmonewts.
Depressed/frightened/disheartened about the GOP primary race? Here's Bad Lip Reading doing Rick Santorum and the rest of the GOP roster: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry. [more inside]
...Many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”John Heilemann in New York Magazine on "The Lost Party", part one of a series on the modern Republican party in light of the 2012 presidential election. [more inside]
Historian Michael Kazin says that we are witnessing the end of the Religious Right's influence in American politics. Peter Montgomery of Alternet says not to declare the Christian Right dead quite yet.
Pictures are making the rounds of a younger Ron Paul in the 1975-1979 Houston Astros "rainbow" uniform. Why, you might ask? "An 1889 editorial in the New York Sun advised 'all statesmen of any aspirations for the future to consider that if they have not yet recorded themselves as lovers of our national game [baseball] or some other sporting interest, they should do so immediately.'" This isn't lost on the 21st-century GOP hopefuls, either (you have to see the Rick Santorum video). Since not long after that editorial--1909 actually--the "two parties" in the U.S. Congress have faced off in the Annual Congressional Baseball Game. [more inside]
The rise and fall (...and rise and fall) of Newt Gingrich. With just two days to go before the all-important South Carolina Republican primary, Newt Gingrich seems to have shaken off the spectre of past failures, is leading Mitt Romney in the most recent polls, and is on the verge of an amazing political comeback... assuming you overlook his ex-wife's new claims, set to air today, of Gingrich wanting -- and potentially having -- an open marriage.
When Mitt Romney Came to Town (subtitle: The King of Bain) a 30 minute attack documentary whose "overriding sensibility is not Swift Boat — it's Frontline, replete with a calming voice of God narration and meticulous sourcing to SEC filings, court documents, and the Boston Globe" (Rolling Stone) provides an interesting moment in the future of political messaging and funding. [more inside]
After interminable months of campaigning, debates, and roller-coaster polling, the first official vote of the 2012 presidential race is in -- and boy, is it a doozy. Ames straw poll winner Michele Bachmann placed second-to-last, while former juggernaut Rick Perry performed so badly he's canceled upcoming events and is said to be on the verge of dropping out. Meanwhile, perennial laughingstock Rick Santorum, consolidating the support hemorrhaging from Perry, Bachmann, and an ad-blitzed Newt Gingrich, rocketed past the youth- and independent-backed Ron Paul and, with 99% of the vote counted, is separated from Mitt Romney by four votes out of ~120,000 -- by far the closest result in caucus history. As the shaken field contemplates the path ahead through Romney firewall New Hampshire, conservative South Carolina, Florida, Super Tuesday, and beyond, President Obama staged a quiet redux of his own dramatic caucus win four years ago, a dry run for the looming general election. And as for powerhouse Buddy Roemer? Don't worry -- his team is ready to do battle with evil.
Santorum surges from behind in Iowa. With the countdown to the Iowa Caucuses entering its final hours the GOP race remains in a dead heat. Polls show the unlikely campaigns of social conservative Senator Rick Santorum and libertarian leaning Representative Ron Paul in surprisingly strong positions to challenge Governor Mitt Romney for the opening victory in the Republican primary season. Both Paul and Santorum have focused heavily on traditional retail politics in the Hawkeye State.
Red money, blue money: The making of the 2012 campaign. "More than 80 percent of giving to Super PACs so far has come from just 58 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the latest data, which covers the first half of 2011." This Salon piece details who the (surprisingly small) number of large donors are, and the SuperPACs they donate to.
An awkward moment in politics. (YouTube) While campaigning in a New Hampshire diner, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spotted local Bob Garon, a regular to the diner, eating his breakfast while wearing a Vietnam veteran's cap. “Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob, as he slid down onto the diner seat for a little chat. Unfortunately for Mitt, Bob was dining there that morning with his husband, and had to explain to Bob that his husband didn't deserve any of the benefits he fought for, and that the makers of the Constitution held marriage to be between a man and a woman. (Which doesn't really explain Mitt's great-grandfather Miles and his wives Hanna, Caroline, Catherine, Alice, and Emily, but stilll...)
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT] Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
?uestlove is grounded. As the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots are known for providing guests of the show with impressive, personalized entrances. Last night, however, in an ill advised attempt at snark that has left some feelings hurt Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann entered the stage to the song "Lyin’ Ass Bitch” by Fishbone. [more inside]
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason. After two months of gaffes, impolitic stands, and bizarre speeches that quickly waned his once-strong odds of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video] to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate" in his memory. While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims -- an oddly ineffective scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?