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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

GOP leader hopes to prove Republicans 'could' govern

10/28/14 08:41AM

It's been four years since congressional Republicans took control of the U.S. House, during which time Congress has approved no meaningful legislation, and GOP lawmakers have shown no real interest in governing. But as Jake Sherman reported, the House Majority Leader thinks his party can finally get on track in 2015.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy landed here from Los Angeles with a bang: He bluntly warned that Republicans will blow the presidency in 2016 if they don't make some radical changes -- and quick.
 
McCarthy, speaking without a working microphone, told a group of Long Island donors that Republicans' gains in the House will amount to little if they can't govern over the next two years."I do know this," McCarthy said. "If we don't capture the House stronger, and the Senate, and prove we could govern, there won't be a Republican president in 2016."
McCarthy's hope that Republicans can prove they "could govern" struck me as an interesting choice of words. Perhaps it was just a verbal slip, or perhaps it was the Majority Leader's way of lowering expectations -- GOP lawmakers don't actually expect to succeed in making policy, but they hope to prove they could govern under different circumstances.
 
To be sure, Republicans have reason to be optimistic about seizing control of Congress. The party may be unpopular, may have unpopular ideas, and may have failed miserably to govern over the last several years, but voters appear likely to reward the GOP with more power anyway.
 
As such, it's only natural to wonder what the public might expect from Republican control of Capitol Hill. McCarthy wants to paint a sunny picture: the GOP, he says, will focus on real policy solutions.
 
The problem, of course, is that there's literally no reason whatsoever to believe him.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks to the media following a meeting on Sept. 8, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty)

Gov who reversed his decision says, 'I didn't reverse any decision'

10/28/14 08:00AM

Nurse Kaci Hickox was, as promised, released from a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey yesterday, and was allowed to return home to Maine. Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) defense for his curious actions still needs some work.
"I didn't reverse any decision," Mr. Christie said from the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla., where he was campaigning for that state's governor, Rick Scott, a fellow Republican. "She hadn't had any symptoms for 24 hours. And she tested negative for Ebola. So there was no reason to keep her. The reason she was put into the hospital in the first place was because she was running a high fever and was symptomatic."
I can appreciate why the governor may feel defensive about his clumsy handling of the situation, but that's no reason to deny what is plainly true.
 
On Friday, Christie endorsed a new policy, one whole day in the making, imposing a mandatory, 21-day quarantine on those who may have been in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa. Hours later, the Christie administration detained Hickox, despite evidence she wasn't actually symptomatic.
 
On Sunday morning, the governor boasted that he had "absolutely ... no second thoughts" about his policy, only to announce later in the day that his policy would now allow home quarantines. By Monday morning, Christie's 21-day quarantine on Hickox was reduced to three.
 
Unless the New Jersey Republican has come up with a new definition of "reverse," it's not unreasonable to note he changed his policy.
 
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Christie could very well tell the public that he chose one policy, learned new information, then changed his policy to adapt to the circumstances. Responding to the Ebola threat in the United States is still fairly new, and it stands to reason that officials' responses will need fine-tuning over time.
 
But not Christie, who told NBC's "Today" show this morning, "Our policy hasn't changed and our policy will not change" -- despite the fact that it's already changed.

'Appropriate action' and other headlines

10/28/14 07:59AM

Maine government will take 'appropriate action' if nurse Kaci Hickox doesn't maintain quarantine. (Portland Press Herald)

The world relies on this one company to transport Ebola patients. (Washington Post)

Both parties are happy with early vote data; they're worried, too. (Washington Post)

Arkansas' highest court rules that minimum wage hike can stay on the ballot. (AP)

The Democratic candidate for Senate in South Dakota accuses his own party of sabotage. (Argus Leader)

Rick Perry gives a speech at the Reagan Library calling for a 'clean break' from Obama. (Politico)

Toronto's ex-Mayor Rob Ford got elected to the City Council. (USA Today)

Funeral for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, killed by a gunman in Ottawa last week, is held today. (CBC)

Washington State school shooter invited his victims to lunch. (AP)

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Chevron and Moving Forward statements to The Rachel Maddow Show

10/27/14 09:39PM

Chevron gave the following statement to The Rachel Maddow Show:

“Chevron supports City leaders who share our commitment to policies that foster an economic environment where businesses can thrive and create jobs. The amount of money we spend to inform voters must be viewed in the context of the more than $500 million in local taxes, social investment and spending on local vendors from Chevron over the past five years, and our $90 million social and environmental commitment to the city that will follow once our $1 billion refinery modernization is allowed to proceed. We are proud to be in Richmond – the city and refinery have grown up together over the past century.” 

Moving Forward gave the following remarks to The Rachel Maddow Show:

"This is an important election for Richmond’s future. Moving Forward, a coalition of labor, business and public safety unions, is committed to communicating with voters so they have the information about the candidates who are running for office. Our hope is that with this information, voters will elect representatives who are best suited to continue to improve the local economy and therefore the overall quality of life in Richmond.
...
This is an important election for Richmond’s future. We believe that voters deserve to have enough information about the candidates so that they can make an informed decision about who is best able to lead Richmond."

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Ahead on the 10/27/14 Maddow show

10/27/14 07:59PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Ryan Boyko, Yale student under Ebola quarantine in Connecticut
  • Robert Rogers, reporter for the Contra Costa Times, and a UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism instructor

Here's executive producer Cory Gnazzo with a look at what's coming up...

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Rachel is on the road! Denver, here we come!

10/27/14 06:08PM

As you've likely seen in promo clips airing on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow is on the road and will be hosting her show live from Denver on Tuesday, October 28.

As promised, we now have the details you were looking for of where this is all happening so if you're in the area, stop on by!

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Monday's Mini-Report, 10.27.14

10/27/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Kaci Hickox is on her way home: "The nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey after she came home from treating Ebola patients in West Africa was released from the hospital Monday.... Hickox will be allowed to take private transport home to Maine."
 
* CDC: "The federal government on Monday announced a new set of monitoring guidelines for health workers returning from West Africa, an effort to bring uniformity to a messy patchwork of responses by state governors as they try to control flows of high-risk travelers and public fears about the potential spread of Ebola."
 
* U.S. Army: "Soldiers coming back from serving in Ebola-hit Liberia will be kept in quarantine for 21 days, the U.S. Army said Monday -- even though they were kept apart from any Ebola patients."
 
* So heartbreaking: "One of the four students seriously wounded in a Washington high school shooting on Friday has died. Gia Soriano, 14, was shot in the head during the morning shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which is located north of Seattle. She died Sunday night after remaining in critical condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett during the weekend."
 
* Iraq: "A Naval officer and father of five was found dead in his room at an air base in Qatar, military officials said. Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Oceanside died Friday from 'a non-combat related incident' at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, according to the Department of Defense."
 
* ISIS: "As the counteroffensive against the Islamic State enters a more aggressive phase in Iraq, allied airstrikes will also intensify. American officials say they fully expect that the push will bring out more proof of the jihadists' antiaircraft abilities, with potentially serious consequences for how the Iraqis and their coalition partners wage their war."
 
* Thanks, Vladimir: "Pro-European political parties led by President Petro O. Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk won the largest number of seats in [Ukraine's] parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to partial vote tallies."
 
* BP oil spill: "New research shows that the BP oil spill left an oily 'bathtub ring' on the sea floor that's about the size of Rhode Island."
 
* Pennsylvania: "A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice caught up in a government porn email scandal stepped down Monday after nearly eight years on the state's highest court, and a judicial ethics board said it would drop its investigation of him as a result."
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the  Global Health Security Agenda Summit at the White House in Washington September 26, 2014.

The Beltway balks at No-Drama Obama

10/27/14 04:39PM

In June 2009, President Obama was hosting a press conference and much of the White House press corps was focused on Iranian leaders cracking down on reform-minded protestors. NBC's Chuck Todd urged Obama to "spell out the consequences" for Iran if the violence continued.
 
The president didn't take the bait, and clearly saw no value in making ultimatums. "We don't know yet how this thing is going to play out," Obama said. Pressed further, the president delivered 13 memorable words: "I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not."
 
As far as I know, no one in the Beltway has ever explicitly said so, but I've often wondered how many of the president's media critics were tempted to respond, "Why not?"
 
Matt Yglesias published a much-discussed piece the other day on the president's even-keeled temperament, even during crises, which much of the media just doesn't like. Matt referenced this piece from Josh Green, who was critical of Obama's technocratic approach that denies "the public's emotional needs" and neglects "the performative aspects" of the presidency.
 
The trouble, as Yglesias' piece makes clear, is that Obama's style actually works pretty well.
[A]n aversion to purely symbolic action has genuinely served Obama well at critical moments. Less cool heads would have abandoned Obamacare in January 2010. Obama persevered and it's worked. Obama's approach to the economy has been far from flawless, but it's not a coincidence that the USA has performed better since 2008 than Europe or the United Kingdom and weathered its financial crisis far better than Japan did in the 1990s.
 
The Deepwater Horizon crisis passed. The American Ebola crisis will also pass. HealthCare.gov got fixed. The Russian economy is reeling in the face of sanctions. Osama bin Laden is dead. The economy is growing. Obama hasn't always been a very effective pundit-in-chief (acute crisis moments aside, his inability to articulate public anger at Wall Street has been remarkable) but that's not actually his job. On the big stuff, he's been effective. And that's not a coincidence.
Kevin Drum is thinking along similar lines: "Obama may not always give us the emotional sustenance we want, or mount a pretense of whirlwind action to satisfy the cable nets, but he gets things done. Anyone who can count on their fingers can pretty easily figure out, for example, that he's had a more successful presidency than either Clinton or Bush. Slow and steady doesn't win every race, but it wins a lot of them."
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen arrives for a campaign stop at the Firefly American Bistro in Manchester, N.H. on Sept. 29, 2014.

In New Hampshire, dead men tell some tales

10/27/14 03:22PM

New Hampshire Republicans, still hoping to take down Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), published an op-ed in a local newspaper this morning written by former state House Speaker Marshall Cobleigh (R). The piece isn't quite as interesting as its author.
 
Even by 2014 standards, the Republican's op-ed seems oddly detached from current events, referencing "skyrocketing gasoline prices," a moratorium that no longer exists, and a House GOP lawmaker who's no longer in the House. But given how frequently Republican criticisms bear no real resemblance to reality, this alone would hardly be noteworthy.
 
Dave Weigel, however, notes a more glaring problem: the author of the op-ed has been dead for several years.
What's the matter with the column? Probably that Marshall Cobleigh has been dead for five years. In February 2009, the former speaker of New Hampshire's often-Republican state House was felled by congestive heart failure. This op-ed is a reprint of a column Cobleigh wrote in July 2008, when Shaheen was running her first successful Senate campaign. Buzz Dietterle, the FDD's opinion page editor, says that the New Hampshire GOP submitted the column (which originally ran in the conservative Union Leader). [...]
 
"Shaheen, like a stopped clock, is often correct once or twice a day," acknowledges the late Cobleigh in his column. He should hope so. R.I.P.
Now, there's nothing necessarily controversial with recycling material, but Cobleigh isn't in a position to criticize Shaheen's performance in the Senate since he hasn't, you know, actually been alive for the last five years.
 
Republicans couldn't find an actual, living person to write a similar op-ed? New Hampshire isn't a big state, but it's not that small.
 
But Cobleigh's mortal status adds a macabre twist to an attack piece that doesn't make a lot of sense anyway.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 15th Annual Legal Reform Summit in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 21, 2014.

Christie has 'second thoughts' after all

10/27/14 12:35PM

Appearing on Fox News yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was the height of confidence. Two days after imposing a mandatory quarantine on a nurse, Kaci Hickox, effectively detaining her in a tent with no running water, the Republican governor boasted, "[W]e've taken this action and I absolutely have no second thoughts about it."
 
Indeed, Christie was feeling so good about his handling of the situation that he didn't even feel the need to stay in New Jersey -- the governor maintained a busy travel schedule, making a series of campaign stops over the weekend, even helping far-right Rep. Steve King (R) in Iowa.
 
As we discussed this morning, Christie's administration pointed to a shift in posture overnight, and this morning, the governor agreed to allow Hickox to leave.
One day after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he had "no second thoughts" about forcing a quarantine on a nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had tested negative for Ebola, the Republican loosened his grip and agreed to transfer her to Maine where she lives.
 
The governor's office announced Monday morning in a statement that the nurse -- after being symptom-free for the last 24 hours -- would adhere to her request to be moved to the state. At that point, Maine can "make a determination under their own laws" on whether to continue the quarantine, the statement read.
A spokesperson for Christie insisted that New Jersey's protocol "is not changing," and Hickox's release technically isn't a shift since she'll be leaving the state to return to Maine.
 
It's worth emphasizing that the nurse, who has treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone as part of her work with Doctors Without Borders, has not displayed any symptoms. Christie said over the weekend that Hickox was "obviously ill,"  but this was apparently only obvious to Christie -- who has no medical background and who wasn't even in New Jersey when the nurse was detained against her will.
 
Hickox has secured legal counsel. Whether the threat of litigation prompted Christie's change of heart is unclear.

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.27.14

10/27/14 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:
 
* For a while, it looked like South Dakota's U.S. Senate race was getting very interesting, but a new Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll suggests the race is slipping safely into GOP hands. The new poll shows former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) overcoming his scandals and leading Rick Weiland (D), 42% to 33%. The new NBC/Marist poll shows Rounds ahead, 43% to 29%.
 
* In Colorado's U.S. Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll points to a one-point race, with Rep. Cory Gardner (R) leading Sen. Mark Udall (D), 46% to 45%
 
* In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll shows Joni Ernst (R) up by three over Bruce Braley (D), 49% to 46%.
 
* In Kansas' U.S. Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll found another one-point race, with Kansas, Greg Orman (I) ahead of Sen. Pat Roberts (R), 45% to 44%.
 
* In North Carolina's U.S. Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll has Sen. Kay Hagan (D) and Thom Tillis (R) tied at 43% each.
 
* In Arkansas' U.S. Senate race, most recent polling shows Rep. Tom Cotton (R) in the driver's seat, but the NBC/Marist poll shows his lead over Sen. Mark Pryor (D) at just two points, 45% to 43%.
 
* In Georgia's U.S. Senate race, though most recent polling shows Michelle Nunn (D) leading, the latest Atlanta Journal Constitution poll shows David Perdue (R) up by two, 44% to 42%.
 
* On a related note, Republicans and their allies are throwing millions of dollars into Georgia, hoping to tie Nunn to the president.
Republican gubernatorial candidate winner Bob Beauprez addresses supporters at an election party in Denver on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Colorado's Beauprez strikes a phony pro-choice posture

10/27/14 11:31AM

When we last checked in on former Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republicans' gubernatorial hopeful in Colorado, he was defending his support for "Personhood" proposals; he was falsely claiming IUD contraceptives are "abortifacients"; and he was telling a debate audience, "I'm unabashedly pro-life."
 
Last week, however, the far-right former congressman talked to Colorado Public Radio, and as Andy Kroll reported, Beauprez seemed to offer a very different message.
CPR: On women's reproductive health, as governor would you be committed to your current stated position that while you're personally against abortions, you won't stand in the way of people having access to them or letting women choose their preferred method of birth control?
 
Beauprez: That's correct. I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice. I know what the law is. And my job is to enforce the law. The question of birth control has come up and let me be real clear...I think women ought to have the choice of whether to use birth control or not. I think women ought to have the choice of what type of birth control to use. I just don't think taxpayers need to be paying for it.
 
I respect people's right to choose. I live my life the way I personally choose, but I'm not going to interfere with somebody else's. The job of a governor is less to govern the people, and more to govern the government. I don't want to make somebody else's decision, but I want them to have every opportunity to make their own. I don't want to run somebody else's family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves. That's the kind of governor I'll be.
Well, that's quite an evolution, isn't it? Over the course of three weeks, Beauprez went from being "unabashedly pro-life" to "I respect people's right to choose." On Sept. 30, the Republican candidate saw IUD contraceptives as "abortifacients"; and on Oct. 22, he's "not going to interfere with" birth control.
 
In the larger context, between Bob Beauprez, Cory Gardner, and Mike Coffman, Colorado voters may very well elect several far-right congressmen this year, at which point many conservatives will see this as a triumph for right-wing culture warriors. After all, Colorado is a fairly competitive state -- it backed President Obama twice -- and if it rewards far-right congressmen who've fought to eliminate all abortions and ban common forms of birth control, the argument will go, then maybe the public is amenable to this extremist vision.
 
The problem with the argument will be that Beauprez, Gardner, and Coffman all had to dramatically change their positions on culture war issues, pretending to be something they're not in the hopes voters wouldn't know the difference.

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