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E.g., 4/21/2015
Seniors Rally In Support Medicare, Social Programs In Chicago

Battle lines drawn on retirement age

04/21/15 09:20AM

If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hoped to start a broader discussion on entitlements, it worked. The Republican governor delivered a speech a week ago announcing his support for major "reforms" to social-insurance programs, including a call to raise the retirement age to 69.
 
Within a few days, many of his national GOP rivals were on board with roughly the same idea: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are all now on record in support of raising the retirement age.
 
But in an interesting twist, some Republicans have been equally eager to take the opposite side. Take former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), for example:
"I don't know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don't understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is," Huckabee said in response to a question about Christie's proposal to gradually raise the retirement age and implement a means test.
 
Huckabee said his response to such proposals is "not just no, it's you-know-what no."
Even Donald Trump, who's apparently flirting with the possibility of a campaign, rejected the idea during a Fox News interview yesterday. "They're attacking Social Security -- the Republicans -- they're attacking Medicare and Medicaid, but they're not saying how to make the country rich again," the television personality said. He added, in reference to GOP plans, "Even Tea Party people don't like it."
 
And then, of course, there's the likely Democratic nominee these Republicans hope to take on next year.
Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) arrives to speak at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland on Feb. 26, 2015. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Jindal's unique spin on his unpopularity

04/21/15 08:40AM

The conservative Washington Times reports today that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is gearing up for a presidential campaign, despite the fact that his national ambitions are hampered by his unpopularity in his home state.
 
In fairness to the far-right governor, he's not the only national candidate with this problem. Much of the Republican presidential field is struggling with the fact that voters in their own states are unimpressed by their records.
 
But Jindal is the only one who's prepared an amazing argument to explain his unpopularity with his own constituents. Consider his comments over the weekend in New Hampshire at a multi-candidate event:
"[W]hen I was elected to my first term we won in the primaries, something that had never been done before by a non-incumbent. My second election, my re-election, we got the largest percentage of the vote ever, over two-thirds.
 
"And I'm here to tell you, my popularity has certainly dropped at least 15 to 20 points because we've cut government spending, because we took on the teacher unions.
 
"But we need that kind of leadership in D.C."
I'm not sure Jindal appreciates how unintentionally funny this argument really is.
David Koch (Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Koch brothers eye 2016 favorite

04/21/15 08:00AM

Presidential candidates are always eager to earn support from voters, but with nine months remaining until anyone casts a primary ballot, White House hopefuls have a slightly different focus at this stage in the process. As the race gets underway in earnest, the goal isn't just to get public backing, but rather, to get support from a specific group of mega-donors.
 
And in the world of national Republican politics, the Koch brothers have few rivals.
Charles G. and David H. Koch, the influential and big-spending conservative donors, appear to have a favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
 
On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee.
According to the New York Times' report, David Koch talked about the Wisconsin governor as if his primary success was simply assumed: "When the primaries are over and Scott Walker gets the nomination..." he joked.
 
The article noted two other attendees who said they heard Koch go further, describing the Republican Wisconsinite as the candidate who should get the GOP nomination.
 
It's worth emphasizing that Koch, following the Times' reporting, issued a written statement, describing Walker as "terrific," but stressing, "I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for president at this point in time."
 
The statement doesn't necessarily contradict the reporting. It's entirely possible, for example,  that the Kochs will remain officially neutral during the nominating process, while also privately acknowledging their preference for Walker while talking to allies behind closed doors.
 
And if that's the case, it's a major advantage for the far-right governor over his rivals. The Kochs not only carry an enormous wallet, they oversee a large political operation and enjoy broad credibility among conservative activists and donors.

Super PAC scrutiny and other headlines

04/21/15 07:55AM

Scott Walker run could bring scrutiny to his new Super PAC. (New York Times)

Jeb Bush planning to delegate many campaign tasks to his Super PAC. (AP)

Maine lawmaker builds morality clause into bill mandating insurance coverage for fertility treatments. (Washington Post)

Tree planted in memory of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO is cut down within hours. (NBC News)

Pope Francis accepts resignation of U.S. bishop who didn't report abuse. (USA Today)

Captain of capsized migrant boat arrested. (New York Times)

A big hole in the universe. (The Guardian)

read more

US moves to block Iranian ships off Yemen

US moves to block Iranian ships off Yemen

04/20/15 10:29PM

Rachel Maddow shows the consequences of collapsed governments, from a refugee crisis from Libya to war in Yemen. Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal Pentagon reporter, joins to discuss a U.S. move to intercept Iranian ships in the Gulf of Aden. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 4.20.15

04/20/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Watch this story: "American warships are prepared to intercept a convoy of Iranian ships suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, senior defense and military officials told NBC News on Monday."
 
* East Africa: "A bomb attack targeting a van carrying workers to a United Nations compound killed nine people on Monday, police said.  Authorities suspect Islamist al Shabaab militants of being behind the blast in Garowe in the Somali region of Puntland, police officer Mohamed Abdi said at the scene. Six bystanders were wounded, he added."
 
* High court: "The Supreme Court threw out a ruling from last year that upheld Republican-drawn congressional and state legislative districts on Monday, ordering North Carolina's highest court to reconsider its decision that state legislators didn't rely too heavily on race when drawing the district lines."
 
* Labor Secretary Thomas Perez talked with Greg Sargent today, offering a spirited defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Obama may soon negotiate with "fast-track" authority.
 
* ISIS: "The Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appears to show fighters from its branches in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting."
 
* I'd like to hear more about this: "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000."
 
* Michigan: "A suburban Detroit police officer who was seen on dash-cam video dragging a black man from his car before kicking and punching him repeatedly will be charged with two felony counts, a county prosecutor said Monday."
Barack Obama, Dilma Rousseff,

The race for 21st-century primacy

04/20/15 05:13PM

At first blush, it's likely the White House's critics will gravitate to this New York Times piece, headlined, "At Global Economic Gathering, U.S. Primacy Is Seen as Ebbing." But I hope they'll do more than just read the headline.
As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world's most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most.
 
"It's almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers," Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview on Friday.... Other officials attending the meetings this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity, agreed that the role of the United States around the world was at the top of their concerns.
For Republicans and a variety of lazy pundits, one assumes the reaction to such reports is reflexive : "See? President Obama obviously needs to lead more."
 
But there's a more meaningful takeaway from reports like these, published to coincide with the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The Times' piece notes that it was the United States that was largely responsible for building the global economic stage after World War II, it was the United States that's directed the stage for generations, but it's now the United States that's struggling to maintain its primacy.
Washington's retreat is not so much by intent, Mr. Subramanian said, but a result of dysfunction and a lack of resources to project economic power the way it once did. Because of tight budgets and competing financial demands, the United States is less able to maintain its economic power, and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either.
And this is the part that the political world should pay attention to. For all the assumptions on the right about President Obama retreating from the global stage, that's almost entirely backwards -- Republicans are almost exclusively referring to a willingness to fight and prolong wars when they make the complaint. It's the White House, however, that welcome greater international engagement, but faces an intransigent Congress run by a far-right party.
 
As the world looks for more investment, American lawmakers ask, "How can we spend less?" As China looks to expand its influence, it's the U.S. Congress that asks, "How can we scale back even more?"
Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) holds a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty)

Pence extends needle-exchange program after HIV outbreak

04/20/15 03:49PM

When Indiana state policymakers last month tackled a new right-to-discriminate law, it was an unfortunate move for all kinds of reasons. There were, of course, the obvious problems of sanctioning discrimination and doing lasting damage to the state's reputation, all in the hopes of solving a problem that didn't exist.
 
But there's also the fact that Indiana policymakers had other issues on their plate that deserved their immediate attention.
An Indiana county at the heart of an H.I.V. outbreak has seen a "significant increase" in the number of cases more than two weeks into a short-term needle exchange program, state health officials said.
 
There are now 120 confirmed H.I.V. cases and 10 preliminary positive cases tied to Scott County, the Indiana State Department of Health said on Friday. That is up from 106 the previous week.
 
Health officials who declared an epidemic last month have said that they expect the number of cases to rise as more people are tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent staff members to Indiana last month to help with testing, the Health Department said in a news release.
In late March, Gov. Mike Pence (R), on literally the same day he signed the right-to-discriminate measure into law, approved a temporary needle-exchange program intended to address the public-health emergency in the affected area of Indiana.
 
This afternoon, the governor, citing the preliminary progress over the last four weeks, extended the program. Note, Indiana law prohibits needle exchanges, but Pence is pursuing the policy anyway through a gubernatorial executive order.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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