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Pedro Rojas holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the February 15th deadline on Feb. 5, 2015 in Miami, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

ACA plays 'remarkable' role in cancer detection

11/25/15 10:40AM

As the Affordable Care Act has taken root, there's been quite a bit of anecdotal evidence pointing to people whose lives were saved -- quite literally -- by the law's existence. But at this point, we're also able to measure the ACA's efficacy beyond just the anecdotes.
The New York Times reported on a substantial increase in the number of young women who've been diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, and there doesn't seem to be much of a mystery to explain the trend. Because "Obamacare" covers young adults before their 26th birthday, the percentage of uninsured 19- to 25-year-olds has plummeted.
You can probably guess what that means: more young women are able to see a doctor, more doctors are able to do cancer screenings, and more exams are detecting cancer at early stages. From the Times' report:
Researchers from the American Cancer Society wanted to examine whether the expansion of health insurance among young American women was leading to more early-stage diagnoses. Early diagnosis improves the prospects for survival because treatment is more effective and the chance of remission is higher. It also bolsters women’s chances for preserving their fertility during treatment. And women with health insurance are far more likely to get a screening that can identify cancer early.
Researchers used the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry of about 70 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. They compared diagnoses for women ages 21 to 25 who had cervical cancer with those for women ages 26 to 34, before and after the health law provision began in 2010.
The results painted a striking picture of increased early-stage diagnoses among the younger group, with no meaningful change in the older group.
One of the researchers, Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, said the effect of the Affordable Care Act is hard to miss, leading to results he described as "very remarkable."
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz takes the stage at the Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 20, 2015. (Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Cruz: ISIS has already entered the United States

11/25/15 10:00AM

About a year ago, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) insisted ISIS militants had already entered the United States through the Southern border. All available evidence suggested his claims were completely untrue -- even his fellow Republicans said they had no idea what Hunter was talking about -- and it quickly became apparent that the threat wasn't real.
Thirteen months later, Ted Cruz isn't going quite as far as Hunter, but he seems to have headed down a similar path. BuzzFeed reported yesterday on the senator's recent chat with Glenn Beck.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said ISIS is already in the United States and more are coming.
“Well look, you’re right, eight Syrians were picked up in Texas trying to cross over illegally, and this is the consequence of the president refusing to enforce the law,” Cruz told radio host Glenn Beck last week. “We have a serious national security risk because our southern border is not enforced.”
When the host asked Cruz if he believes ISIS terrorists are already in the United States. "Of course they are,” the Republican presidential hopeful responded, which is why he intends to "secure the border."
While Hunter claimed to have secret information that couldn't be substantiated, Cruz is simply making assertions that don't stand up well to scrutiny.
For example, asked about ISIS members, Cruz immediately referenced eight Syrians "picked up in Texas." What the senator neglected to mention is every relevant detail: those eight people were asylum seekers, not terrorists. The incident wasn't evidence of ISIS militants reaching American soil; it was evidence of ISIS victims pleading for safe harbor.
As for Cruz's insistence that the Obama administration is "refusing" to take border security seriously, I have a strong hunch the senator knows he's not telling the truth.
Marco Rubio speaks during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee, Wis. (Photo by Morry Gash/AP)

Rubio juggles principles, desire to win Iowa

11/25/15 09:20AM

Marco Rubio has a dilemma. The Florida senator clearly wants to win the Iowa Republican caucuses, which would help propel him to his party's presidential nomination. He also wants to defend his far-right policy priorities, which means opposing the ethanol mandate and taking aim at the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The trouble, of course, is that those two goals are occasionally in conflict. The RFS is quite popular in Iowa, but it's also plainly at odds with Rubio's conservative agenda.
Threading this needle isn't easy, and Radio Iowa reported this morning on the line the senator has come up with.
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he supports the so-called ethanol mandate -- now that it’s in place, but he favors letting it expire seven years from now.
“The Renewable Fuels Standard is not something that I would have voted for had I been in the Senate, but it is now existing law and I think it would be unfair to simply yank it away from people that have made investments based on its existence,” Rubio says.
As pandering goes, this talking point is almost plausible. Rubio doesn't like the RFS and wouldn't have voted for it when Congress approved the policy in 2005 (five years before Rubio was elected). He realizes, however, that the policy exists; it's popular; people have come to rely on it; and it's not reasonable for a Republican administration to simply "yank" the policy away from Americans to satisfy an ideological goal.
But couldn't this same principle have broad applications?
Image: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton

What the pro-schmooze pundits fail to understand

11/25/15 08:40AM

It's not exactly a secret that President Obama and congressional Republicans fail to see eye to eye, but for several years, a variety of Beltway pundits have argued that the president is to blame. Obama hasn't forged personal relationships with his GOP foes, the argument goes, which makes cooperation impossible.
If only the president "schmoozed" more, the pundits have said, he'd have more legislative successes.
I hope these same observers take note of an interesting piece U.S. News published yesterday, highlighting remarks former House Speaker John Boehner made in Florida earlier this month. The Ohio Republican said the political climate in D.C. is so toxic, he sometimes felt the need to "sneak into the White House to see the president."
When Obama played golf with Boehner a few years ago, he was criticized for only playing with him once. But it turns out that wasn't his fault. Boehner told the Naples group they had a "nice" game but he declined a couple of subsequent invitations in order to avoid irritating his "band of renegades" (his description of some of his fellow Republicans).
The exchange with Obama went like this, according to Boehner: "You think it would be too much trouble if we played golf again?" "Yes, Mr. President, I think it would be." To the audience, he added, "You just can't believe the grief I got."
Think about that. The president, trying to cultivate a relationship with the then-House leader, played a round of golf, which couldn't be repeated because House Republicans were outraged.
It's one thing for GOP lawmakers to resist policy compromises with a White House they hold in contempt, but these guys didn't even want Boehner socializing with Obama.
To be sure, part of the problem in a case like this relates to Boehner's weakness: a stronger Speaker would have simply told his members it's just golf and they shouldn't freak out with such ease.
But there's a larger point to the story that the pro-schmooze pundits should pause to appreciate.
Republican U.S. presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump whispers across to Dr. Ben Carson during a debate held in Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 10, 2015. (Photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Trump., Carson blame media for their bogus 9/11 claim

11/25/15 08:00AM

It looked as if Donald Trump's bizarre lie about 9/11 had run its course, but the Republican presidential campaign apparently wants to keep the discussion going a little longer -- even throwing in a conspiratorial twist.
To briefly recap, the GOP frontrunner insists he saw news reports from 9/11 that Trump believes show “thousands and thousands” of Jersey City residents of Middle Eastern descent cheering when the Twin Towers fell. Those reports do not exist, but that hasn't stopped Trump from repeating the claim, over and over again, in recent days.
Team Trump has had multiple opportunities to walk this back. As TPM noted, it's instead doing the opposite.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager on Tuesday accused the media of coordinating an elaborate conspiracy to deny the billionaire's claim that “thousands and thousands” of New Jersey residents cheered the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“For the mainstream media to go out and say that this didn’t happen is just factually inaccurate,” Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview with Breitbart News. “We know it happened.”
Right Wing Watch posted the audio of Lewandowski's comments, in which he pretends fiction is fact.
Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen, added on CNN yesterday that his client's numbers may be off, but that shouldn't matter. "Whether it’s 'thousands and thousands' or a thousand people or even just one person, it's irrelevant," he argued, adding, "What's important is that there are bad people among us."
Except, that doesn't make any sense. Trump has argued, repeatedly, that he saw video footage of thousands of people in New Jersey celebrating a devastating terrorist attack. Now his lawyer is saying it could have been one guy and we shouldn't be too picky about the details, while his campaign manager continues to insist the imaginary video exists, even if no one can find it, and this is all part of a conspiracy to help elect an "establishment candidate," who'll be "controlled by the special interests.”
All of this is seen as necessary, of course, to justify Trump's vision of registering Muslim Americans and spying on houses of worship.
Ben Carson, who endorsed Trump's bogus claim before changing his mind a few hours later, is also trying to blame news organizations. Politico reported yesterday:

How Laquan's story came to light and other headlines

11/25/15 07:22AM

How Chicago tried to cover up a police execution. (Chicago Reader)

Downed Russian pilot was rescued by Syrian commando unit. (AP)

The origins of jihadist-inspired attacks in the U.S. (New York Times)

Afghan hospital said to be misidentified before being bombed. (AP)

A definitive debunking of Donald Trump's 9/11 claims. (New York Times)

In renovation of golf club, Donald Trump also dressed up history. (New York Times)

Challenge fails to block Bernie Sanders from New Hampshire ballot. (AP)

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Cruz embraces radicals with violent message

Ted Cruz embraces religious radicals with violent message

11/24/15 09:51PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the background of Troy Newman, radical anti-abortion activist embraced by Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and notes that this is the second recent radical association by Cruz, having just spoken at an event where fellow speaker Kevin Swanson advocated the belief that the Bible justifies the execution of gay... watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 11.24.15

11/24/15 05:30PM

Today’s edition of quick hits:
* More on this on tonight's show: "A Russian pilot was killed Tuesday while parachuting from his downed plane and so was a Marine dispatched to save him. The doomed pilot was one of two Russians who ejected from their aircraft after it was struck by a Turkish missile, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said in a statement."
* Egypt: "Islamic State militants attacked a hotel in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with explosives and gunfire early on Tuesday, killing at least seven people, including a judge, according to security officials, Egyptian state media and a statement by the group."
* Tunis: "At least 12 people were killed on Tuesday after an explosion tore through a bus full of Tunisian presidential guards in an attack one source said was probably carried out by a bomber detonating his explosives in the vehicle."
* Minnesota: "Two men have been arrested and other suspects are being sought after five people were shot in Minneapolis near a protest over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man. A 23-year-old white man was taken into custody in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Tuesday around 11:20 a.m., Minneapolis police said in a statement, and a 32-year-old Hispanic man was arrested in South Minneapolis at about 12:05 p.m."
* Greece: "A bomb went off outside the offices of a Greek business federation in the heart of Athens early on Tuesday, causing damage but no injuries, the police said. It was the first such attack under the country’s leftist-led government, fueling fears of a possible resurgence of domestic terrorism."
* I hope he's right about Americans' attitudes: "President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the U.S. stands in 'total solidarity' with France in the wake of the deadly terror attacks there and pledged to do more to crush ISIS.... 'This was an attack on our free and open society,' Obama said and stressed 'Americans will not be terrorized.'"
* The State Department last night "issued a worldwide alert three days ahead of Thanksgiving cautioning travelers of 'increased terroristic threats' from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other groups. The alert expires Feb. 24."
* Chicago: "A Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed in a volley of 16 shots on the city’s South Side last October. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, turned himself into authorities on Tuesday morning. It is believed that the charges mark the first time in Chicago history that a police officer has been charged with murder for an on-duty shooting."
* Economy: "The U.S. economy grew at a somewhat faster 2.1% pace in the third quarter instead of 1.5%, revised government figures show."
* This move may benefit as many as 180,000 people: "The outgoing Democratic governor of Kentucky has signed an executive order to restore the right to vote and hold public office to thousands of non-violent felons who've served out their sentences. Gov. Steve Beshear signed the order Tuesday.... Kentucky was one of four states that did not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they completed all the terms of their sentences."
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Republican Party of Florida's "Sunshine Summit" in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 13, 2015. (Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters)

Jeb Bush: 'You can tell when someone is a Christian'

11/24/15 04:12PM

It's tempting to give Jeb Bush credit for being far less ridiculous than Donald Trump on, well, pretty much everything. Over the last week, as Trump's radicalism has exceeded any normal boundaries of propriety, the former governor has been willing to call out the New York developer for going too far.
But if Bush is going to claim any credit for taking the high ground, he's going to have to stop dipping his feet in the same waters in which Trump is taking a swim.
Last week, for example, the Florida Republican argued that the United States should reject Syrian refugees for reasons he has not yet explained. Bush later clarified that some refugees might be able to enter the country, but only if they’re members of a religious group he approves of.
“You’re a Christian – I mean, you can prove you’re a Christian,” Jeb inexplicably argued.
BuzzFeed reports today that Bush has done it again.
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a radio interview Tuesday that “you can tell when someone is a Christian in the Middle East” based on indicators such as their name and birth certificate.
“I can promise you that,” Bush told New Hampshire radio host Jack Heath. “By name, by where they’re born, their birth certificates. There are ample means by which to know this.”
He reportedly added that he supports pressing “the pause button” on welcoming Syrian refugees in order to ensure that refugee screening processes are “proper.” Bush has not, however, pointed to any specific shortcomings in the existing screening program.
Even putting this aside, there are two fairly obvious problems with his approach. First, his "you can tell" assurances notwithstanding, separating people who claim to be Christians from those who really are Christians isn't nearly as simple as Bush chooses to believe. Names and birthplaces offer hints, but what about sincere converts?