Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) loved the Common Core education standards. He embraced them, decided to implement them, persuaded his state's education officials to adopt them, and even sought federal funds to incorporate them into Louisiana's curricula.
Then, however, Jindal discovered just how much the Republican Party's far-right base disliked Common Core, at which point the governor (and likely presidential candidate) decided it was time for a reversal: Jindal abandoned the same education policy he'd previously championed.
But apparently, a rhetorical reversal only goes so far. This week, the conservative Republican went just a little further to demonstrate his opposition to the standards he recently supported.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday accusing the U.S. Department of Education of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core academic standards by requiring states that want to compete for federal grants to embrace the national standards.
Jindal also accused the department and Education Secretary Arne Duncan of forcing states to adopt the Common Core standards to win a waiver from some of the restrictive aspects of No Child Left Behind, the federal education law.
The governor now claims Louisiana has been illegally coerced, but as the Washington Post's report added, 'When Louisiana applied multiple times for a grant under Obama's Race to the Top program, Jindal never mentioned overreach, illegality or coercion. His state superintendent of education at the time wrote to the U.S. Department of Education "we proudly submit this application to Race to the Top because Louisiana's children can't wait.'"
If Jindal is so opposed to the standards he used to support, why doesn't he just pull out of Common Core altogether? The governor tried that, but state lawmakers wouldn't let him -- Jindal was so persuasive in pitching Common Core on the merits, the legislature, the state education board, and the Jindal Administration's education superintendent all remain Common Core backers.
Of course, none of them are preparing a run for national office and looking for ways to pander to far-right activists.
Republicans expect to have a successful year in 2014 congressional races, but the gubernatorial terrain looks far less favorable. A fascinating analysis this week found that incumbent GOP governors who've accepted Medicaid expansion are in far better electoral shape than Republicans who refused to embrace the health care policy.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has been in the latter category -- the Republican had balked at Medicaid expansion and he's trailing badly in most polls -- though as Greg Sargent reported yesterday, the governor just announced a big shift.
In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania.
The federal government has approved Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's application for the state's own version of the Medicaid expansion, without a handful of the conditions Corbett had hoped to impose.... Corbett just announced that he will accept the expansion that has been offered, perhaps with some last-minute changes -- expanding coverage and subsidies to as many as half a million people.
As a substantive matter, this is an important breakthrough. Pennsylvania is the nation's sixth-largest state by population, and with a stroke of the governor's pen, nearly 500,000 low-income adults are poised to gain access to medical care. For many, this may ultimately be a life-saving policy.
Corbett's move also means there are now 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have embraced Medicaid expansion, including every state in the Northeast except Maine.
As for the politics, it's fascinating to see the degree to which health care politics have been turned on their ear. Here we have a Republican governor, down in the polls, looking to improve his standing with voters. What does he do? Corbett runs towards the Affordable Care Act, not away from it. For all the assumptions about "Obamacare" being an electoral albatross, the evidence to the contrary keeps getting in the way.
Indeed, this is arguably part of an important emerging pattern.
For good or ill, President Obama sometimes offers candid, shorthand assessments without much regard for how they'll be perceived by the political world -- or how easily the comments might be taken out of context. From a distance, I get the sense he just doesn't care what offhand phrase might send the Beltway into a tizzy and generate a half-dozen Politico items. After nearly six years on the job, Obama just seems to have bigger things on his mind.
But those of us who regularly swim in these waters -- and who've internalized Republican talking points to the point at which we can visualize Fox News segments before they even air -- tend to see the pointless uproars coming.
President Obama pushed back against media reports of planned U.S. military action against ISIS in Syria on Thursday, stressing that the administration is still determining the next steps to take in the region.
"We don't have a strategy yet," Obama said at a Thursday press conference, adding that there would be "military, political, and economic components" to the fight against ISIS.
The moment the six-word sound bite was uttered, you could almost feel the manufactured outrage take shape, which is a shame because in context, this latest shocking development wasn't especially shocking.
Look at the transcript. A reporter asked the president, "Do you need Congress' approval to go into Syria?" Obama's obvious point was to challenge the premise of the question -- to assume that the United States is poised to use military force in Syria is premature. The Obama administration has already spent three weeks launching several dozen airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, but because Syria is a much different story, the White House is still consulting with allies and talking with Pentagon officials about the next step.
And in a nutshell, that's the story. That's the basis for the latest political-world uproar. A reporter asked whether Congress needs to approve a mission in Syria and the president said there is not yet a mission to approve. Why is this scandalous? It isn't.
Rick Tyler, former director of the "Winning Our Future" superPAC, talks with Rachel Maddow about the effective use of middle class, working Americans in political advertisements, like those being run by Michelle Nunn against David Perdue in Georgia. watch
The Rachel Maddow Show has decided to start a running whip-count for members of Congress who have signed letters, or said publicly, that Congress must vote on military authorization for the use of force in Iraq or more recently for potential U.S. military action in Syria. Below is our running tally so far.
We hope that you can help us keep our running tally up-to-date. If your member of Congress joins or drops off this list, please let us know. We hope this can be an authoritative source of members of Congress who are not wussing-out of their constitutional responsibilities to take a vote on these matters. Keep us posted!
* Crisis in Ukraine: "Asserting that Russian soldiers and armaments had crossed into Ukraine to support the separatists, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine canceled a trip to Turkey on Thursday, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription for the armed forces."
* United Nations: "Alarmed members of the U.N. Security Council demanded Thursday that Russia remove its fighters from a new front in the Ukraine crisis, while the U.S. ambassador accused Moscow of having 'outright lied.'"
* Middle East: "President Obama said he will send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East in an effort to build a coalition of 'strong regional partners' to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria."
* The media seemed a little too preoccupied with the president's suit this afternoon, but Obama's press conference covered quite a bit of substantive ground, with Q&A on Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, immigration, and the economy. Here's a transcript.
* Gillibrand's right: "MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is less than surprised by the revelations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about being subjected to sexual harassment by her congressional colleagues.... 'We all had our stories of whom you'd not get in an elevator with and whom you'd protect your young female interns from,' Mitchell told her guests."
* Keep an eye on this: "Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called on GOP leaders to launch a floor debate on the Obama administration's use of force against Islamic militants in Iraq. But the House minority leader stopped short of insisting that lawmakers vote on the issue, as some of her liberal troops are urging."
* Not the first time: "Immigration protesters ambushed Rep. Paul D. Ryan Wednesday as the Wisconsin Republican signed books at a Barnes & Noble" in Thornton, Colorado.
* The same general was suspended from his duties last year: "An Army general who was found to have mishandled an accusation of sexual assault has been forced to retire with a reduced rank, the Defense Department said on Wednesday."
At a certain level, calls for public comment on the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were a little awkward. She is, after all, a private citizen who holds no office. Clinton remained silent, but so too did other former Secretaries of State like Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell -- and no one found their silence politically problematic.
That said, though Clinton is not even a candidate for any public office, it's also fair to characterize her as more than just a former cabinet official. She maintains a unique leadership position in American public life and it was not unreasonable to think Clinton would weigh in on the national conversation.
Today, as my msnbc colleague Alex Seitz-Wald reported, the former Secretary of State did exactly that.
Hillary Clinton broke her silence Thursday on the shooting of Michael Brown, addressing the tragedy that tipped off two weeks of racially fraught violence in Ferguson, Missouri for the first time during a speech at a tech conference in San Francisco.
"Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown, as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family. Because losing a child is every parent's greatest fear and an unimaginable loss," she said at the beginning of her paid remarks to the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit. "But I also grieve for that community and for many like it across our country."
Clinton spoke for nearly five minutes, but did not use notes or a teleprompter.
Beyond the shooting death itself, Clinton went on to reflect on the systemic and institutional issues that helped spark local protests, "We can't ignore the inequities that persist in our justice system that undermine our most deeply held values of fairness and equality," she said. "Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers instead of the other way around."
Clinton went on to praise the White House's handling of the crisis. "I applaud President Obama for sending the attorney general to Ferguson and demanding a thorough and speedy investigation," she said, "to find out what happened, to see that justice is done, to help this community begin healing itself."
As for the shocking images associated with the police response to Ferguson protests, Clinton added, "This is what happens when the bonds of trust and respect that hold any community together fray. Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone, not in America. We are better than that."
Economic growth in the first quarter looked pretty dreadful -- one of the worst since the end of the Great Recession -- but nearly everyone involved in the debate saw it as something of a fluke. The key to knowing for sure would be the GDP report for the second quarter.
The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster 4.2% annual pace in the second quarter, mainly because businesses invested more in buildings and equipment than previously reported, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Initially the government said the U.S. expanded at a seasonally adjusted 4% clip. Economists polled by MarketWatch predicted gross domestic product would be revised down a tick, but business investment and net exports were stronger than expected.
And this, in a nutshell, is why so few panicked over the first-quarter data.
Jason Furman, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, added, "Looking at four- and eight-quarter changes to smooth some of the quarter-to-quarter volatility, it is clear that many components of GDP are showing improvement. The growth rates of consumer spending, business investment and exports have all picked up, and the pace of declines in the Federal sector have moderated a bit. In addition, the State and local government sector has turned positive, after several years of steady cutbacks."