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President Obama Delivers Statement At The White House

Obama crafting plan for ISIS threat in Syria

08/29/14 08:02AM

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.
 
Take yesterday, for example.
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.

Ferguson firing and other headlines

08/29/14 07:58AM

One officer resigns, another is fired after actions taken during Ferguson protests. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Autopsy results released on the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. (Tulsa World)

Lawyers present closing arguments in the Bob McDonnell trial today. (Richmond Times Dispatch)

U.S. identifies citizens joining rebels in Syria, including ISIS. (NY Times)

Putin commends the "New Russia" militia in Ukraine. (NY Times)

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Middle class voices boost political ad clout

Middle class voices boost political ad clout

08/28/14 10:47PM

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

Ahead on the 8/28/14 Maddow show

08/28/14 08:18PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Rick Tyler, former director of the "Winning Our Future" superPAC
  • Craig Carper, Capitol reporter for WCVE Public Radio in Richmond Virginia

Sorry, no preview video tonight.

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Thursday's Mini-Report, 8.28.14

08/28/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* 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."
Hillary Rodham Clinton pauses while speaking at an event to discuss her new book in Washington, D.C., June 13, 2014.

Hillary Clinton addresses Ferguson crisis, says U.S. is 'better than that'

08/28/14 04:11PM

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 improves a little more

08/28/14 03:21PM

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 preliminary tally looked quite encouraging. The revised GDP looks even better.
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."
 In this photo taken Friday, October 11, 2013, Doug Bearden, Jonathan Branyon and Christine Reno, from left, wave flags and hold an "Impeach Obama" sign

House Republican says impeachment talk can 'proceed' after midterms

08/28/14 12:38PM

You may not have heard, but we're apparently in the middle of "National Impeach Obama Week." No, seriously. The Washington Post reported the other day that a "persistent group of activists" created the "Coalition to Impeach Obama Now!" -- the exclamation point is a literal part of the group's name -- and declared this week to be the focus of their efforts. The campaign is supposed to include waving signs on overpasses.
 
As best as I can tell, the coalition hasn't exactly enjoyed broad success. That said, BuzzFeed reported yesterday that Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) told his constituents that there's a "slim" chance the House will move forward on impeachment -- but President Obama's critics will have to wait until after this year's midterm elections.
A Republican congressman said there's a "slim" chance that President Obama will be impeached, and if the House began impeachment proceedings, they would probably fail and cost the Republican Party a chance at winning the Senate. [...]
 
[Merchant] added "the will of the American people is not there" and said if Republicans went against that and attempted to impeach Obama there would be "a violent reaction" that would keep Republicans from winning the Senate. He said Republicans should wait until after the November elections to "proceed on that question."
I realize this chatter has largely faded from the political world's radar. The more Republicans talked up the idea of going after Obama with a new impeachment crusade, the more Democrats raised money, prompting many GOP officials to dial down the rhetoric.
 
But it's amazing how frequently this continues to come up.

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.28.14

08/28/14 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
 
* The latest New York Times analysis gives Republicans a 65% chance of winning the Senate majority. The latest Sam Wang analysis out of Princeton gives Democrats a 70% chance of keeping their Senate majority. Both are credible reports based on reliable data. Stay tuned.
 
* In Wisconsin's very competitive gubernatorial race, the latest Marquette Law School poll shows Mary Burke (D) edging past incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) among likely voters, 48.6% to 46.5%.
 
* Speaking of close Midwestern gubernatorial contests, the new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan has Mark Schauer (D) also taking a narrow lead against incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder (R), 45% to 43% (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).
 
* In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, the new USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Bruce Braley (D) and Joni Ernst (R) tied at 40% each. It's the second poll this week to show these results.
 
* Speaking of Iowa, in 2016 polling, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) support among Hawkeye State Republicans went up seven points after he was indicted on two felony counts.
 
* In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) isn't just on track to lose his re-election bid, the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll suggests he's poised to suffer a landslide defeat. The poll shows Tom Wolf (D) with a surprising 25-point advantage over the incumbent.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, Nov. 19, 2013.

New York's Gillibrand shines a light on Capitol Hill harassment

08/28/14 11:36AM

When Mike Huckabee commented on contraception, women, and "their libidos" in April, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was disappointed, but she said the remark "doesn't stand out as anything unusual from what we hear" on Capitol Hill. She added at the time, "You don't have a long enough show for me to go into what you hear around here from the members of Congress."
 
Not surprisingly, Pelosi isn't the only woman on Capitol Hill who's been disturbed by offensive comments from men.
If there was any question as to whether sexual harassment exists among members of Congress, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) confirmed the answer in a new interview with People magazine.
 
According to excerpts from the interview obtained in advance by the New York Post, the congresswoman recalled multiple male colleagues making disparaging comments about her body as she struggled with her weight after having a child.
One unidentified Southern lawmaker reportedly told Gillibrand, "You know, Kirsten, you're even pretty when you're fat." Another told her at the House gym, "Good thing you're working out, because you wouldn't want to get porky!"
 
When she was elevated to the U.S. Senate, Gillibrand says an older colleague squeezed her waist from behind and said, "Don't lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby."
 
There is no workplace in the nation in which this would be considered acceptable. And yet, here's a senator describing her experiences in the building in which federal laws are made.
 
As inexcusable as these male lawmakers' conduct is, it's important for perspectives like Gillibrand's to be heard. Congress has a reputation for being a hostile work environment for many women -- lawmakers and staffers alike -- and the more we hear from those who've been harassed, the more likely it is conditions will change.
 
So why would anyone be skeptical of Gillibrand's claims?

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