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Iowa GOP Senate Debate Shows Divides

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The five way debate Thursday night for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Iowa demonstrated major differences within the Republican Party.

Primary debates for the U.S. Senate are often dismal affairs. Thursday’s debate among Republican contenders in Iowa was no exception. With five candidates--ranging from the not ready for primetime to the Dear God get this person away from the camera--the debate was not exactly Lincoln versus Douglas. But it did tell us something about Republican politics in the state that will hold the first primary contest in 2016.The tableau of five candidates on stage at first seemed more like a set of high school stereotypes than a political debate.


What Bundy’s Fans Said, Before and After

Steve Marcus/Reuters

The Nevada rancher’s breathtakingly racist comments Wednesday left Republican supporters racing to distance themselves. What they’re saying now.

Nevada’s “last cattle rancher” Cliven Bundy became a right-wing hero when he fought the federal government and (at least for the time being) won. But now that it turns out he is a racist, some of his biggest fans are quickly backing away.Bundy, a 67-year-old Republican and father of 14 who looks exactly like you would expect a Nevada cattle rancher to look, has let his cattle illegally graze on federal land near his ranch for decades. In 1993, the Bureau of Land Management began cracking down, mostly to save the endangered desert turtle, and requested he pay for use of the land, but he refused.


The Pols Who Praise Slavery

George Frey/Getty

Rogue rancher Cliven Bundy recently shared his thoughts on African Americans and whether or not they were better off as slaves. While Bundy can, and probably should, be dismissed as fringe nonsense, he is hardly alone.

Not quite ready to let his 15 minutes of fame expire, unlawful Nevada rancher-turned-Fox News celebrity Cliven Bundy has continued to hold daily news conferences in his driveway even after his standoff with federal rangers ended. Only one reporter showed up on Saturday, but that didn’t matter much to Bundy who, with the help of a homegrown militia of mostly-armed supporters, managed to stave off the Bureau of Land Management from confiscating the cattle he’s been illegally grazing on public land for over 20 years.

Yankee Bias?

GOP's Top Of Ticket Weakness In Dixie


Despite its new electoral strength in the South, the Republican Party has only had one presidential nominee born and raised in that region since 1856.

The base of the Republican Party in recent elections has been white voters from the South but its presidential candidates have come from almost every state outside the former Confederacy. As Nate Cohn noted in the New York Times on Thursday, "a record 41 percent of Republican voters in the 2012 election hailed from the South" and, in some counties, over 90% of whites voted for Mitt Romney in the GOP ticket. But, while the Republican Party is increasingly becoming the party of Southern whites, this shift has not been reflected in the GOP's national candidates.

Big Texas Sell

Rick Perry Is Coming for Your Job

Mike Theiler/Reuters

No more talk of Texas seceding or ‘oops’ moments—the governor is relaunching his image and luring businesses to the Lone Star State. And he was doing just that in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Rick Perry walked up the stairs from the basement and stopped by the bar for a moment.“They had a little Shiner problem here for a while,” the governor said as he approached a small gaggle of New York City press, referring to the famed Texas lager that was until recently, apparently, hard to spot outside the Lone Star State. “But I see they have taken care of it.”Perry was at Hill Country, a Texas-themed eatery in Manhattan that features drinks in mason jars and a pit-smoked whole hog special, to sell New York businesses on the Texan way of doing things.

Legalized Crazy

Guns in Bars: What Could Go Wrong?


Georgia’s new law allows them everywhere—in libraries, at school—and permits felons to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. Let’s hope it makes Southern white guys feel manlier, at least.

To paraphrase a former National Rifle Association president, “You finally did it! You maniacs!”That’s right, on Wednesday, in a fit of perfectly logical preparation for Sherman’s next march to the sea, Peach State Gov. Nathan Deal went ahead and signed a gun bill. Not just any gun bill, mind you, but one with so much stupid in it, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been renamed Bieber or Gohmert.We discussed this “guns everywhere” and “felons have the right to shoot you” bill in this space only last month, but now that it’s law in the land of cotton—old times they are not forgotten—perhaps it’s time for a refresher course.

Bad Match

It’s Not Racist to Oppose Gay Marriage


Lots of people compare the opposition to gay marriage and the resistance to interracial relationships. It’s a flawed analogy. Here’s why.

I seem to have made an unexpected midlife career move, and no, it isn’t lucrative. After almost 20 years of standing on a soapbox for gay marriage, I am standing on another soapbox making the case for tolerating people who oppose same-sex marriage.The other day, I joined 57 other supporters of gay marriage in a public statement called “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both.” You can read it here. You can even sign it here.


In the Obamacare Closet

Mark Wilson/Getty

The only way to gauge the success of the law is by the Dems who outwardly support it and the Republicans who stop publicly attacking it.

A couple of weeks ago, a super PAC supporting Alaska Democratic Senator Mark Begich started running this ad: It’s a very well done story of a “mother, a runner and a breast cancer survivor” who credits Senator Begich for helping her get insurance which she had been previously denied because of a pre-existing condition. “Mark Begich fought the insurance companies, so we don’t have to,” the spot concludes.The ad was hailed as proof that “that Democrats—including those in red states—are not running away from the law (Obamacare) as their Republican opponents claim,” as the Huffington Post put it.


Red State Obamascare Tactics

Davis Turner/Getty

In Kansas and Georgia, Democrats running for governor are closer than expected. The GOP response? Rewrite the laws so they couldn’t take Medicaid money. It’s 2014’s sleeper controversy.

If I asked you to name two states where the incumbent Republican governors might lose re-election this fall, you would likely, I expect, say Florida and Pennsylvania. I doubt very much you’d offer up Georgia and Kansas.But lo and behold—the contests in both of those states are right now a little closer than you’d expect. In Kansas, Sam Brownback is the governor. You remember Brownback—he was a senator for a spell, best remembered (by me anyway) for his prominent role in that hideous Republican appropriation of poor Terry Schiavo in their zealotry to “promote life.


Dems, Get Angry or Lose Congress

Rick Wilking/Getty

The pissed-off party wins midterm elections. Will the image of Ted Cruz chairing a committee or the Affordable Care Act getting gutted make the left show up?

Attention Democrats: Unless you start getting angry, the midterm elections are going to be a bloodbath.The angriest voters win midterm elections and the right is really mad.  But in this case, their anger could end up amounting to more than just an unintelligible rant on Twitter. It could result in them taking control of the Senate and thus both chambers of Congress.David Axelrod summed it up well over this past weekend: The anti-Obamacare voters are angry and hence more mobilized.

Fired Up

Hopelessly Devoted to Hillary

Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty

They’re ready to do more than just volunteer if Clinton runs in 2016. A Hillary tattoo? Her face on their car? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One sees them whenever Hillary Clinton arrives in town. Without the means to afford the often hefty ticket price to see her speak, they stand outside with homemade signs, chanting, “Hil-Lar-Ree!” They have replaced the background photograph on their Twitter profile to a simple picture of the former first lady; their bio lists Hillary Clinton alongside their favorite sports teams. For seven years, they have tracked her every move on social media.

Political Dynasties

Why America Needs Mary Cheney

Robyn Beck/Getty

Mary, the proud Republican lesbian sister who emerged from Liz’s Senate debacle looking like a total ass-kicker, is a behind-the-scenes operator—but it’s time for her to run for office.

A couple of questions sprang immediately to mind when I heard this week’s news that Mary Cheney is launching a new polling firm with a handful of her GOP buddies.1. How tempting will it be for her to field a poll or two just to see how unpopular Big Sister Liz was by the end of her Wyoming Senate run?2. Screw polling: Why doesn’t Mary go all in and run for office herself?Stay with me here. For all our grousing about political dynasties, Americans clearly have a thing for them.

Fake Baby?!

The Chelsea Clinton Birthers

Alex Wong/Getty

"Chelsea's faking her pregnancy!" "No, it's all a scheme to boost her mother's approval ratings!" For crackpots, the Clinton baby news is just the latest Clinton conspiracy.

Chelsea Clinton, once-and-perhaps-future First Daughter, is expecting a baby with Marc Mezvinsky, her husband of four years. Or not, depending on how tight your tin-foil hat is. “When I say [the pregnancy is] staged I have to believe she’s pregnant, if she says she’s pregnant,” said Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg.Fortunately, unlike rumors about nano-thermite at ground zero and long-form birth certificates, this one is easily debunked: We’ve only got to wait nine months to prove it wrong.


The Court Was Right on Race

Douglas McFadd/Getty

The Supreme Court let states ban race as a factor in college admissions. That’s a good first step toward race-blind education that can focus on root problems.

Shortly before his assassination President Kennedy addressed the nation on June 11, 1963 to explain his decision to federalize the Alabama National Guard to integrate the University of Alabama.  In part, Kennedy offered:It ought to be possible in short for every American to enjoy the privileges of being an American, without regard to his race or his color.  In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated, as he or she would wish to be treated…Race has no place in American life or law.


GOP: Ukraine Is Obama’s New Syria

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sees disturbing parallels between the Obama administration's current policy in Ukraine and what he sees as its failures in Syria.

The Obama adminstration is making the same mistakes in Ukraine as it did in Syria according to a top Republican senator.Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is going to Kiev Wednesday to pledge support for the embattled government. The two-term senator from Tennessee travels to Ukraine as a critic of the U.S. approach to the crisis, which he sees as failing to give Ukraine the equipment it needs and failing to impose sanctions on Russia that would change Putin’s behavior.

Obamacare's 2014 Midterm Effect

Are Democrats in trouble in the upcoming midterm elections? Yes, says The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky, but not because of the Affordable Care Act.

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More in Politics

What Bundy’s Fans Said, Before and After

What Bundy’s Fans Said, Before and After

The Nevada rancher’s breathtakingly racist comments Wednesday left Republican supporters racing to distance themselves. What they’re saying now.


The Pols Who Praise Slavery

Big Texas Sell

Rick Perry Is Coming for Your Job

Bad Match

It’s Not Racist to Oppose Gay Marriage


In the Obamacare Closet