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President Barack Obama walks toward the White House after landing on the South Lawn on Aug. 25 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty)

GOP candidates blame Obama for police shootings, cite no evidence

09/03/15 08:45AM

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday "strongly condemned shootings of law enforcement officers in Texas and Illinois and issued an unequivocal message of support for police." The comments came on the heels of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) arguing that "the entire Obama administration" has shown "hostility [towards] law enforcement."
Cruz, of course, backed up his argument by pointing to ... nothing. Soon after, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) appeared on Fox News and said the White House's support for law enforcement has been "ambiguous," which contributes to violence and lawlessness. To support the contention, the scandal-plagued Republican also pointed to ... nothing.
Taking an even less subtle approach, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) published a piece on a far-right blog yesterday, reflecting on "a serious problem."
In the last six years under President Obama, we've seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric. Instead of hope and change, we've seen racial tensions worsen and a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.
Look, eventually we're going to reach a put-up-or-shut-up moment. We talked yesterday about how offensive it is when politicians exploit the deaths of police officers for partisan gain, but as the number of GOP candidates connecting the White House to the slayings grows, it becomes all the more important for Republican officials to do one specific thing:
Back up their ugly claims with some shred of proof.
Obama seeks to burnish environmental record

Obama seeks to burnish environmental record with Alaska trip

09/03/15 08:27AM

Rachel Maddow reports on President Obama restoring the name of the tallest mountain in North America to Denali over the objections of Ohio Republicans, and shares clips of President Obama speaking on climate change in Alaska, working to burnish his environmental record before his time in office runs out. watch

Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens as a couple speaks with her about getting a marriage license at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty)

Political showdown takes shape over Kentucky's Kim Davis

09/03/15 08:00AM

Today will likely be an interesting day for Kentucky's Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who's paid by taxpayers to issue marriage licenses, but who refuses to provide licenses to couples she finds morally objectionable, citing "God's authority."
Yesterday, Davis and her attorneys once again asked a federal court to allow her to ignore the law, effectively seeking a waiver from multiple court orders. Not only is this likely to fail, but the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge David Bunning, appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, will reportedly ask Davis today why he shouldn't hold her in contempt.
In the meantime, the dispute has gained increasing national notoriety, becoming the new litmus test for Republican presidential candidates. MSNBC's Alex Jaffe reported last night:
The Republican presidential field has started to take positions on Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who's scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses in the state against the order of a federal judge. [...]
A handful of candidates weighed in on Tuesday and Wednesday, but only after they were asked for comment. Candidates who responded so far have done so along predictable lines, with social conservatives expressing outspoken support for Davis, and more moderate-minded candidates dismissing her move.
The more some candidates weighed in, the more others felt compelled to do the same. And at this point, it's clear that a few GOP candidates recognize the importance of the rule of law, while others aren't so sure.

Drowned Syrian boy identified and other headlines

09/03/15 07:48AM

Family of children found on Turkish beach was trying to come to Canada. (Ottawa Citizen)

Kentucky clerk who said 'no' to gay couples won't be alone in court. (New York Times)

Worker who helped Clinton set up email server to take the Fifth at today's Benghazi committee hearing. (AP)

Somebody stole Heritage Foundation emails and donor info. (Politico)

Does Donald Trump cheat at golf? A Washington Post investigation. (Washington Post)

How cities are handling surge in oil trains. (AP)

Harvard allows students to pick new gender pronouns. (Boston Globe)

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Citations for the September 2, 2015 TRMS

09/03/15 01:06AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Steve Clemons, Editor at Large for the Atlantic and an MSNBC Contributor
  • David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary. And now president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee

Tonight's links:

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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 9.2.15

09/02/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* The migrant crisis: "When the authorities in Hungary prevented hundreds of migrants who had overwhelmed the central Keleti station in Budapest from boarding trains for Germany this week, it nearly set off a riot. Outside the station, the migrants were chanting: 'Germany! Germany!' That is where so many of them want to go."
* A heartbreaking related story: "Eleven migrants thought to be Syrian refugees were feared to have drowned off the coast of the Greek island of Kos on Wednesday after the boats carrying them sank. A number of bodies washed ashore on a beach in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, probably connected to the disaster. The images of the dead soon circulated on Turkish social media. They included, most hideously, photographs of children."
* Another step forward for the military: "The Army announced Wednesday that it is opening its legendary Ranger School to women on a full-time basis, following the historic graduation last month of two female soldiers."
* Alaska: "President Obama on Wednesday will pledge to step up government aid for Arctic communities whose shorelines and infrastructure are crumbling as warming seas melt their foundations, intensifying his administration's effort to cope with the effects of climate change where they are being felt most acutely."
* The administration is likely to prevail, but Kerry isn't taking any chances: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday once again laid out the Obama administration's case for its recently concluded agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program, less than an hour after it became clear that the deal will survive congressional review later this month."
* Texas: "It says it can make voting as difficult as it wants to, and any law that says otherwise is unconstitutional."
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., speaks with reporters following the Senate Democrats' policy lunch on April 1, 2014. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Iran deal crosses key threshold, poised for historic victory

09/02/15 12:41PM

Even before the international nuclear agreement with Iran was announced, Republicans expressed optimism about derailing the policy. Indeed, some seemed to think it'd be easy.
To pass a bill killing the diplomatic solution, Republicans would need only six Senate Democrats and zero House Democrats. President Obama would obviously veto the legislation, but GOP leaders believed it was entirely possible to pick up the 13 Senate Dems and 44 House Dems needed to override. Indeed, Congress' August recess offered a perfect opportunity -- opponents of the agreement would mount an intense pressure campaign while spending millions to shift the national debate.
Just so long as 34 Senate Democrat didn't endorse the policy, the right had reason to hope. This morning, the 34th Senate Democrat endorsed the policy.
President Barack Obama has secured the support of 34 Senate Democrats for the nuclear deal with Iran, ensuring sufficient backing to sustain his veto of any legislation aimed at derailing the agreement.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland on Wednesday became the 34th Senate lawmaker to announce that she's supporting the deal negotiated with Iran and world powers earlier this year.
In a statement, the progressive Maryland senator, who's retiring at the end of her term, said, "No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime. I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb."
There are still 10 Senate Dems who have not yet taken a position, but even if each of them side with Republicans -- an unlikely scenario -- the right will simply not have the votes to derail the diplomatic agreement.
Indeed, if 7 of those 10 Senate Democrats endorse the Iran deal, then the search for a veto-proof majority becomes a moot point -- the bill won't even have the support needed to clear the Senate and reach the Oval Office.