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!
The GOP 2016 presidential candidates will again be split into two sessions for tonight's debates on CNN, but the pool is getting smaller, as Rick Perry suspended his campaign, bowing out before being in the second-tier debates for a second time, and former Virgina governor Jim Gilmore, with a hair above 0% nationally, will participate ... via Twitter*. But the biggest news on the main stage is the inclusion of Carly Fiorina, thanks to her rise in the few polls since the Fox debate (previously). [more inside]
Tonight (Thurs., Aug. 6, 2015) is the first official** televised debate for Republican presidential candidates, to be held in two separate events on Fox. First, there's the happy hour debate at 5 PM EST, with the seven candidates who didn't make the final cut*. At 9 PM EST, the Prime Time debate takes place with the top 10 candidates. You can watch online, if you have cable authentication, but you can also participate through Facebook, who are co-presenting the debates. Otherwise, wait until after the show for clips to start surfacing, or you can follow live-blogging a-plenty (NPR | New York Times | The State | Reason), and you can add your two bits with the Fox News Election HQ 2016 App. [more inside]
"DES MOINES, IA – Word must have gone out early, either by word of mouth, or by all those social media platforms that conservatives have discovered since 2008, or perhaps by that strange wingnut telepathy only practiced by the true initiates who know all the conjuring words. (People could make Lois Lerner jokes secure in the knowledge that every single person in Iowa who would find them funny was somewhere in the hall.) In any case, the rhetoric at the Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by Steve King and Citizens United, was startlingly muted. Oh, they hit all the proper notes. Liberty! Constitution! American exceptionalism! And the melodies were consistent; the first few bars were gloomy as they meandered through the many failures of the current administration, many of them largely imaginary, and then the final movement was all sunshine and rainbows and Republican promises of a brighter day. Every speech was like a Requiem Mass that concluded with a rousing chorus of 'Tomorrow.'" Charles P. Pierce of Esquire has some colorful choice words to say about the recent Iowa Freedom Summit.
When Christie was fourteen years old, he heard [now former NJ Governor Thomas] Kean, who was then a member of the state legislature, speak at his junior high school. He told his mother that he wanted to become a politician; she drove him to Kean’s house and told him to knock on the legislator’s door. “Sir, I heard you speak,” he told Kean. “I think I want to get into politics. How do I do it?” Writing for The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza provides an account of Chris Christie's political history from start to Bridgegate.
"It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics—until it wasn’t." Alec MacGillis, in the New Republic, describes why "Chris Christie's entire career reeks. It's not just the bridge."
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
Email Links Top Christie Aide to GW Bridge Scandal. The week of September 9, 2013, traffic was bad on the approach to the George Washington Bridge -- the busiest bridge in the world. Cars were backed up into the streets of Fort Lee, NJ, gridlocking the entire city on the first week of school. The reason? Two tollboths leading to the GWB were closed by the Port Authority of NY and NY. The PA claimed it was for a traffic study, except that the head of the Port Authority, Pat Foye, appointed by New York Governor Cuomo, was not told about the closure, and neither was anyone else. [more inside]
Apocalypse, New Jersey Matt Taibi looks at the sad story of Camden, N.J.
Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson of the Mercer County Superior Court ruled in Garden State Equality et al. v. Dow that New Jersey's civil unions are inherently unequal in light of the SCOTUS Windsor ruling, and that plaintiff couples and those similarly situated should be allowed to marry beginning October 21st. [more inside]
"WNYC and The Record asked, separately, for documentation of NJ Transit’s hurricane preparedness plans. Both news organizations received the same reply: a three-and-a-half page document with the words “New Jersey Rail Operations Hurricane Plan” atop the first page. Everything else was blacked out." [more inside]
RT @CoryBooker: "We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn"
Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, will spend a week or longer living on food stamps, in response to a Twitter user who told him that, quote, "nutrition is not a responsibility of the government." [more inside]
Gov. Chris Christie vetoes New Jersey bill granting marriage equality. Meanwhile, the Maryland House narrowly passes such a bill. The MD Senate passed a similar bill last year, and no senators have announced any plans to change their votes, and Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign it.
Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker Responds to Question about NJ Marriage Equality Referendum (proposed by Governor Chris Christie) (SLYT) [more inside]
Chris Christie Is Fat. Who Cares? "What is it about fat that turns otherwise smart people into complacent fools? No, this isn’t a new discovery about the supposed health risks of obesity: it’s an observation about how the sight of a fat body can transform people like Michael Kinsley and Eugene Robinson—writers whose work I usually admire—into bigoted know-nothings, spouting absurd prejudices they would mock if they were aimed at almost any group other than fat people."
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey defends his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the state bench. Sohail Mohammed is New Jersey's first Indian-born Superior Court Judge. "After Christie nominated Mohammed in January for the judgeship, the former federal prosecutor found himself accused of cozying up to Islamic radicals. Mohammed’s confirmation hearing before the state Senate included two hours of grilling, including inquires about Sharia, jihad and Hamas." [more inside]
"I am the enemy. I never realized this until your election to governor. In a few short weeks, you have made this fact explicitly clear to me." Steven Derion, a 2007 nominee for the Governor's Teacher of the Year Award, writes New Jersey governor Chris Christie a letter.