For several weeks, congressional Republicans learned about the influx of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America, and as the humanitarian crisis worsened, GOP lawmakers demanded action from the White House. President Obama took the calls seriously, and on July 7, he unveiled a credible emergency plan.
There was reason for optimism. After all, within hours of the plan's release, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) initially suggested the president's appeal would be approved. Better yet, there was plenty of time -- the House wouldn't leave for its summer break until the end of the month, and July is literally the only month in all of 2014 in which lawmakers are scheduled to work four weeks in a row.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) raised doubts Thursday that Congress will be able to fulfill President Obama's funding request to address the influx of illegal migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border before lawmakers leave Washington for their summer recess in two weeks. [...]
Asked about the prospect of approving Obama's $3.7 billion request before a five-week break begins Aug. 1, Boehner said, "I would certainly hope so, but I don't have as much optimism as I would like to have."
I'm reminded of something Kevin Drum recently said: "Well, of course it won't happen. The crisis along the border is tailor made for Republicans. It makes their base hopping mad, it juices their campaign fundraising, and anytime the government is unable to address a problem it makes Obama look bad. Why on earth would Republicans want to do anything to change any of this? As long as Obama is president, chaos is good for Republicans. After all, most voters don't really know who's at fault when things go wrong, they just know there's a crisis and Obama doesn't seem to be doing anything about it."
I was skeptical when Kevin wrote this, but his assessment is looking quite prescient now.
Rachel Maddow discusses how the changing nature of news and the prevalence of social media make it increasingly difficult to avoid graphic images of tragedies like the scene of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine watch
* Gaza: "Israel began a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, saying it would target tunnels that infiltrate its territory after cease-fire talks failed to de-escalate the air war that has raged for 10 days."
* Surface to air: "A Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 295 people on board was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile Thursday as it cruised over a hostile region of Ukraine, U.S. officials told NBC News."
* Governing with a broken Congress is hard: "How can a president fix more roads and bridges without any new money to spend? President Obama's answer on Thursday was to announce new initiatives to encourage private-sector investment in the nation's infrastructure, including the creation of a 'one-stop shop' at the Department of Transportation to forge partnerships between state and local governments, and public and private developers and investors."
* Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest: "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in response to a rash of wildfires burning in steep, rugged terrain across the state."
* Christie scandals: "An aide to Gov. Chris Christie says she texted him her thoughts about testimony on the closure of traffic lanes near the George Washington Bridge but later deleted the messages. The aide, Regina Egea, testified Thursday before lawmakers who continue to probe the lane closures, which appear to have been politically motivated."
* Climate: "President Obama announced a series of climate change initiatives on Wednesday aimed at guarding the electricity supply; improving local planning for flooding, coastal erosion and storm surges; and better predicting landslide risks as sea levels rise and storms and droughts intensify."
* Obviously the right call: "A top Justice Department official on Thursday brushed aside GOP requests for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS's treatment of Tea Party groups, saying the evidence didn't warrant such an appointment."
* GM: "General Motors' top lawyer came under withering attack from senators on Thursday at a hearing investigating the automaker's failure to recall millions of defective small cars for more than a decade."
* I bet John Oliver had something to do with this: "The Federal Communications Commission has received more than 1 million comments on its plans for new regulations on Internet service providers."
Over the last year or so, there's been no shortage of court rulings on marriage equality in about a third of the country. And during that time, each of the rulings has fallen into one of two categories: (1) a state ban on same-sex marriage has been struck down, effective immediately; or (2) a state ban on same-sex marriage has been struck down, but will remain in place pending appeal.
Leave it to Florida to find a way to do things a little differently. As msnbc's Emma Margolin reports that a state judge did, in fact, rule that Florida's law prohibiting equal marriage rights is unconstitutional -- but the ruling only applies to the Florida Keys.
A Florida judge declared it unconstitutional Thursday for the Monroe County clerk to deny gay couples marriage licenses. The ruling struck down Florida's 2008 ban on same-sex nuptials, but only in Monroe County, which covers the Florida Keys.
Two more rulings are expected at any moment in the Sunshine State – one that would apply only to Miami-Dade County and another that would have statewide impact from a federal judge in Tallahassee. Unlike the Monroe and Miami-Dade suits, which only name the county clerks as defendants, the federal case seeks to stop all state officials from enforcing the ban.
"This court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia wrote today.
The judge's decision is set to take effect on Tuesday of next week.
The five-day delay is not related to a possible appeal, but rather, is intended to give the county clerk's office time to prepare for the logistical and administrative change.
Following up on our earlier item, there are still many unanswered questions about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but NBC News is reporting some additional details about this breaking news story.
Malaysia Airlines jet with 295 people on board crashed Thursday in the hostile eastern region of Ukraine, near the Russian border, and a Ukrainian government adviser said that it had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
Malaysia Airlines said that it lost contact with the plane, Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, about 30 miles from the Russian-Ukrainian border. Photos from the scene showed the blackened wreckage of the plane and bodies scattered in a field.
It is not yet clear whether there were any Americans on board the flight, though President Obama told a Delaware audience today that the information remains a top priority.
Regardless, there were reportedly 280 passengers and 15 crew on board this Boeing 777 and there are no accounts of survivors.
Live msnbc coverage of today's crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is available online here. The details of the story are still coming together but NBC News reports:
A Malaysia Airlines jet with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, according to the Interfax news agency and an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister.
The reports could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News, but Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter account that it had lost contact with an aircraft, Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The Associated Press, citing a Ukrainian ministry adviser, reported that the plane, a Boeing 777, had been shot down in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainian security forces.
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:
* In Mississippi, as we talked about on the show last night, attorneys for state Sen. Chris McDaniel have told reporters "they expect to file a challenge of McDaniel's June 24 GOP runoff loss to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran within the next 10 days."
* In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott Brown (R) seemed to forget again what state he's running in, referring to himself yesterday as a member of Massachusetts' congressional delegation.
* In Colorado, nearly all recent polling from independent outlets show Sen. Mark Udall (D) with modest leads over Rep. Cory Gardner (R), but Quinnipiac's new poll shows the conservative congressman up by two, 44% to 42%.
* George Cicotte, a Republican congressional candidate in the state of Washington, argued over the weekend that environmentalists are responsible for "energy problems," adding that according to the Bible, the environment is "here for our use."
* SEIU, one of the nation's top labor unions, is launching a Spanish-language ad campaign against four House Republicans this week, focusing on their opposition to immigration reform: Reps. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), and Joe Heck (R-Nev.).
At first blush, this week's dustup between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) over foreign policy seems easy to overlook. After all, their squabble almost certainly has everything to do with 2016 positioning, and since neither of them has demonstrated any real proficiency on international affairs anyway, their disagreement isn't likely to add much to the public discourse.
But taking a step back, it's best not to dismiss this too quickly.
For years, Republicans were considered the dominant party on foreign policy. For most of our lifetimes, nearly every prominent GOP voice was united behind a similar set of principles; the party had statesmen eager to defend those principles; and there wasn't any real doubt as to how the party approached international affairs.
All of that has changed quite dramatically in recent years. Ed Kilgore argued this week that the Perry/Paul food fight offered little in the way of substance, but there's a schism that Republicans are going to have to deal with, probably quite soon.
The sharp exchange last weekend between Rick Perry and Rand Paul over Iraq -- and more broadly, its relationship to the "Reagan legacy" in foreign policy -- may have seemed like mid-summer entertainment to many observers, or perhaps just a food fight between two men thinking about running against each other for president in 2016. But from a broader perspective, we may be witnessing the first really serious division in the Republican Party over international affairs since the 1950s.
Republican unity on foreign policy and national security matters during the long period since "isolationists" and "internationalists" battled for party supremacy in the age of Taft and Dewey has been remarkable....
The streak has ended, though, and the party's vision has fractured. Right now, in 2014, what's the Republican Party's position on U.S. policy in Iraq? On relations with Russia? On intervention in Syria's civil war? No one can say for sure, and prominent GOP officials don't agree among themselves.
It's tempting to say the party's position is "the opposite of whatever President Obama thinks," but that's hardly the basis for a credible foreign policy. It's equally tempting to say the Republican line "whatever we think Reagan may have liked," but that's arguably even worse.