May 7, 2014

Last night's GOP Senate primary in North Carolina was billed as a surrogate battle in the Republican Civil War between the establishment and grassroots. But it ended up being more of a surrender than a battle. And since establishment candidate Thom Tillis easily trounced his two grassroots conservative opponents, it would be easy to declare today that the tea party is toast.

The truth is probably more complicated than that. In fact, if the tea party didn't show up, or put up much of a fight, it might be because they already won the war. I'll let The Atlantic's Molly Ball explain:

[I]f Tillis represented the Republican establishment — something he denies, of course; it is not a label anyone embraces — he also represents the party's new, post-Tea Party mainstream. He was endorsed by National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association. As House speaker during a time when Republicans took over North Carolina's government for the first time since 1896, he oversaw a dramatic slate of rightward policies, from tax cuts to voter ID, that he terms a "conservative revolution."

It was hard for opponents to paint Tillis as a liberal when actual liberals were picketing his initiatives on the steps of the statehouse in Raleigh on a regular basis. If this race is any indication, the "Republican civil war" storyline so beloved of pundits in recent years may have to be retired... [The Atlantic]

The theory goes like this: In the beginning, the GOP establishment had grown old and fat and corrupt, and the tea party bench was full of young and talented and pure candidates. And so, when quality candidates like former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and former Rep. and Club for Growth head Pat Toomey challenged moderate GOP candidates like then-Gov. Charlie Crist (Fla.) and then-Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) — both of whom later became Democrats — it was like picking low-hanging fruit.

But there are only so many Rubios and Toomeys (and only so many Crists and Specters). So it gets increasingly harder to replicate this success. The well of quality tea party candidates goes dry, and eventually, you're scraping the bottom. What's more, the early victories send a message to the old guard that they'd better clean up their act.

And so, the tea party message gets co-opted by the establishment — which, for tea party conservatives, ought to be cause for celebration; incumbents who want to survive either get religion, or get ousted.

If the tea party is having a bad year, it's only because they are a victim of their own success. Matt K. Lewis

10:03 a.m. ET

Pizza is not happy. At least that is what animal welfare advocates are saying as they band together to protest the living conditions of "the world's saddest polar bear," which is housed in an aquarium in a shopping mall in China, The New York Times reports. "Animals deserve so much better than being enclosed in a glass box, with very little in it, to attract shoppers. It shows a complete lack of regard for their welfare," said Hu Chunmei of the Endangered Species Fund.

It isn't uncommon in China for malls to have "zoos," an attraction that brings in physical customers during an age when online shopping is booming. The Grandview Mall in Guangdong Province, where Pizza the polar bear lives, also houses arctic wolves and beluga whales.

A photo posted by aleonalynx (@aleonalynx) on

Pizza has shown signs of distress in his enclosure, and 48 organizations signed an open letter to the province's governor insisting that something be done. Yorkshire Wildlife Park in England has even offered to take Pizza in, although Grandview Mall declined.

The mall management claims Pizza has adapted to his living conditions, and accused those who disagree of following the agenda of foreigners. "They say, 'You are using a Western point of view' in order to oppose us," Qin Xiaona of the Capital Animal Welfare Association said. "But we can't forget that we have a tradition in China of 'respecting heaven, caring for animals.'" Jeva Lange

9:45 a.m. ET

Samantha Bee sat down with "fellow nasty woman" Madeleine Albright in Monday night's episode of Full Frontal, in the hopes that the first female secretary of state could help her figure out why everyone is so hung up on Hillary Clinton's gender. After playing a montage of people criticizing everything from Clinton's voice to her facial expressions, Bee asked Albright, "So, does playing into her womanness help Hillary, or does reminding people that she's a woman hurt her chances of winning the election?"

Albright wasn't quite sure, but she did have a theory for why men like Donald Trump are so afraid of powerful women. "I think we're seen in whatever previous relationship they have had, like the third-grade teacher that told Johnny to be nicer — or Donald," Albright said.

As for Bee's question about whether this "pulsing cancer of misogyny" ever goes away, Albright deferred to woman leaders across the globe. Watch everyone from the president of Croatia to the prime minister of Norway counsel Bee on the difficulties of leading while female, below. Becca Stanek

9:29 a.m. ET

There was a big, green, gaping lawn visible at Tim Kaine's rally in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday, where Hillary Clinton's vice presidential candidate didn't exactly draw massive crowds:

In a raspy, campaign trail-worn voice, Kaine still managed to work up enthusiasm for the few who turned out. "You really are a checkmate state," he said. "That's more than a battleground state … If we win for Hillary here, it's over. She's going to be president." Still, as CNN noted, Kaine was very much suffering from a case of the Mondays:

Admittedly, vice presidents don't have the same draw as the tops of their tickets. But for comparison, Mike Pence also hosted a rally on Monday:

This much is good news for Kaine, at least: Clinton leads in the Sunshine State by as many as 5 points. Jeva Lange

9:05 a.m. ET
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians meet for the first game of the 2016 World Series on Tuesday at Progressive Field in Ohio, with the two teams carrying a combined 176-year championship drought.

The Cubs have widely been considered World Series favorites since Opening Day, and are headed by GM Theo Epstein, who assembled the also curse-breaking 2004 Boston Red Sox. In the other dugout is Indians manager Terry Francona, another fixture of the 2004 Red Sox; he will be tasked with outmaneuvering Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Playoff-tested leftie Jon Lester will lead off on the mound for the Cubs, while the Indians will start their ace, Corey Kluber.

"The baseball gods are really happy right now," said Indians first baseman Mike Napoli of the World Series matchup between the two long-suffering teams. "I wanted the Cubs to win [the NLCS], just because I knew how cool it would be to be a part of it. I think it's going to be a special World Series. There's two droughts, and there's going to be a winner."

The first pitch is at 8:08 p.m. ET on FOX, with streaming options on Sling TV and postseason.TV. Jeva Lange

8:29 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Liberal activist Aaron Black — a former Occupy Wall Street organizer and associate with Democracy Partners — allegedly tipped off conservative website Breitbart ahead of his disruptions in order to coordinate coverage, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told Politico. Black harassed candidates in the primaries, reportedly alerting Breitbart by phone, email, and in person about protests, such as when he dressed up as a robot for one of Marco Rubio's rallies.

"[Black] worked directly with Breitbart's political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee of [the Republican] party," the person familiar with Black's alleged involvement said. "[Black] was coordinating with [Breitbart's] top staff to rabble rouse against Rubio at rallies."

Black also recently showed up in an undercover Project Veritas video, in which he claimed to work for the Democratic National Committee although he does not appear on its payroll. Black claims in the video he was the architect of protests in Chicago that resulted in Trump canceling a rally in the city; Trump touted the video as evidence of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama meddling in the election during the final presidential debate.

When reached for comment, Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow told Politico, "Breitbart News Network is proud to work with sources from across the political spectrum to cover important and breaking news stories so that we may bring the most informative reporting to our readers." Jeva Lange

8:19 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Michigan Democratic Party are hosting a big watch party at the MGM Grand casino in Detroit on Election Night, but the Michigan Republican Party has decided to sit this year out. "It is a costly endeavor and we are using all available resources to elect Republicans," Sarah Anderson, communications director for the Michigan GOP, told The Detroit News. These parties are typically events to showcase the party's winners and give campaign volunteers, the media, and political activists and candidates a place to watch election results trickle in.

In 2012, with Michigan native Mitt Romney on the presidential ticket and a U.S. Senate race, the state GOP hosted a big party in Lansing, notes Chad Livengood at The Detroit News, but this year there's no statewide race and no special connection to either Donald Trump or his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. It's not clear if the Trump campaign will host its own party in Michigan. FiveThirtyEight gives Hillary Clinton a 91.8 percent chance of winning Michigan, a state she narrowly lost to Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and Donald Trump easily won in his GOP primary race. Peter Weber

7:51 a.m. ET

Twitter is preparing to cut an estimated 8 percent of its workforce this week, people familiar with the decision told Bloomberg. The reduction of approximately 300 people comes ahead of Twitter's third-quarter earnings report, expected at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday.

The company has faced continued struggles to turn itself around, with a 40 percent fall in its share price in the past year making it tempting for engineers to exit for rivals like Google and Facebook. Twitter has also explored a sale, although Walt Disney Co., Alphabet Inc., and others eventually withdrew from the talks.

Without an obvious suitor, Twitter's going to need to figure out a way to be more forward-looking and hopeful to Wall Street. Starting off with layoffs to make the business more efficient is sometimes where things go.

But it's still going to come down to actually improving the product. Trolls aside, [co-founder and CEO Jack] Dorsey has actually not made any dramatic sweeping changes to the service other than adding more of an algorithmic touch to the feed. And attempts to make it less confusing, like removing contributions to character limits for kinds of media and trying to fix @replies (and "canoes"), still haven't helped make the service more sticky and attract new users. (There's also Moments, but that story still hasn't seemingly played out yet.) [TechCrunch]

Twitter also dropped 8 percent of its employees a year ago, when Dorsey rejoined as CEO. Jeva Lange

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