When responsible, mature public officials are asked about the "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theory, there are a few acceptable responses. "What's the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory?" is a fine answer. So is, "I have real work to do and there's little time for fringe nonsense."
But Dave Weigel talked to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) over the weekend, who offered a more troubling response to the same question.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Saturday that he'd been hearing concerns about Jade Helm 15, a domestic military training exercise that has become a fount of conspiracy theories, and that he wanted questions about it to be answered.
"My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise," Cruz, a Texas senator, told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention. "We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don't trust what it is saying."
As the Bloomberg Politics report added, the right-wing Texan went on to say he's fielded "a lot" of questions about the conspiracy theory, adding, "I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens. That produces fear, when you see a government that is attacking our free speech rights, or Second Amendment rights, or religious liberty rights. That produces distrust."
Apparently, we're supposed to believe that right-wing media figures have disseminated nonsense right-wing activists who end up believing ridiculous theories ... and this is all President Obama's fault.
It's one of the reasons Cruz's posture is so hard to take seriously.
House Speaker John Boehner sat down with NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" yesterday, and the host asked a good question about the Republican leader's failed predictions about the Affordable Care Act. Regrettably, the Speaker couldn't respond with an equally good answer.
TODD: You made some dire predictions about health care. 2014 you said fewer people would have health insurance. According to plenty of surveys, more people have health insurance today than they did before it went down from -- the uninsured rate went down 17 percent to just under 12 percent. You said it would destroy jobs. The first year it was implemented, the country added 3 million jobs. Why...
BOEHNER: Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people. The economy expands and as a result, you are going to have more employees because businesses have to. But if you can ask any employer in America, and ask them whether Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire employees, they'll tell you yes. Because it's a fact.
When you look at -- you know why there are more people insured? Because a lot more people are on Medicaid. And giving -- you know, we expanded Medicaid in a big way. And giving people Medicaid insurance is almost like giving them nothing. Because there aren't -- you can't find a doctor that will see Medicaid patients.
The Speaker soon added that, as far as he's concerned, the Affordable Care Act is "not working."
Boehner might have a credible argument, if we abandoned the agreed upon meaning of "working."
As easy as it may be to see Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign as a quixotic exercise, launched by a candidate who doesn't really expect to hold national office, Alex Seitz-Wald reported on the Vermont independent's strong start as a White House hopeful.
Sen. Bernie Sanders raised more than $1.5 million in the 24-hours since he announced his presidential run, his campaign announced Friday.
It's a strong performance for a candidate many pundits have dismissed as fringe, outpacing Republican candidates who have recently announced.
In a statement, Tad Devine, a Sanders adviser who worked as a top aide to Al Gore and John Kerry, described the $1.5 million first-day haul as "a remarkable start for Bernie's campaign."
While one certainly expects a candidate's aides to say things like this about their own campaign, Devine's boast is rooted in fact. Indeed, there are two striking details about Sanders' early fundraising success.
Many of the key details surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) bridge scandal came into sharper focus on Friday. As part of a plea agreement, David Wildstein, a former member of Christie's team, explained that he and two other top aides to the governor conspired to deliberately cripple a New Jersey for several days as part of a retribution scheme -- the local mayor didn't endorse Christie's re-election, so the governor's aides punished the community.
The top members of the governor's administration picked the time to inflict the most severe damage -- the first day of school -- then coordinated a cover-up of their alleged crimes. Two prominent former members of Christie's team are now facing a nine-count criminal indictment, with an apparent trial on the way.
But the Jersey Journalflagged an interesting detail that was also revealed, though largely overlooked, on Friday
Buried in the 30-page federal indictment of two key figures in the Bridgegate scandal is additional confirmation that Gov. Christie Christie's office had it in for Mayor Steve Fulop.
There was a "coordinated and deliberate refusal by the conspirators to communicate with, meet or respond" to Fulop after he became mayor in July 2013, according to the nine-count indictment of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's ex-chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, formerly Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority.
I can appreciate the fact that it's tough to keep track of all of the various scandals surrounding the Republican governor's office, but these new details about the governor's office punishing the mayor of Jersey City reinforce an alarming pattern of abuse from Team Christie.
Let's back up to refresh some memories about the nature of the Jersey City controversy.
First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected voice in the pay-equity debate, where proponents are always glad to pick up high-profile allies, though few expected Pope Francis to endorse the principle with fervor.
Pope Francis on Wednesday made an impassioned plea for an end to the salary gap between men and women, calling it "a scandal" that Christians should decisively reject.
"Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. The discrepancy is a pure scandal," he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Raising his voice for emphasis as he made some of his most forceful remarks on the subject to date, he said Christians should "decisively support the right to equal pay for equal work."
Francis added that Christians should "become more demanding" for that "radical equality."
Note, in the U.S. political debate over pay equity, the argument is less about the outcome and more about the means to produce that outcome. In Congress, for example, Republican lawmakers publicly insist they're strongly support equal pay for equal work -- they just oppose legislative remedies to help guarantee equitable results. To this extent, the pope's declaration is an important contribution to the debate, but its impact is limited -- it's not an endorsement of a specific proposal.
That said, for President Obama and congressional Democrats, the pope's endorsement of the underlying principle is welcome. Indeed, it's the latest issue on which Francis is breaking with American conservatives, following the pope's very public -- and quite progressive -- remarks of late on the climate crisis, Iran nuclear talks, and support for a new U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba.
The Hillreported earlier this year that the pope "is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church." His spirited opposition to the income gap between men and women may very well drive that wedge even deeper.
With Francis headed for the United States in the fall, including a speech to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), it's a dynamic worth watching.
Congressman Elijah Cummings talks about what role Congress can play in bringing change to improve the lives of people in Baltimore, mentioning specifically the damaging effects of austerity measures enacted after the 2008 economic crash. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on Chris Christie ally David Wildstein pleading guilty in the New Jersey bridge scandal case, and federal indictments for Bill Baroni, Christie’s top Port Authority appointee, and Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staf watch
New York going for the gold in the corruption olympics this year. Leader of House *and* leader of the Senate, too? http://t.co/wkklLLSNul
Rachel Maddow sums up the day's events in Baltimore, and Joy-Ann Reid, national correspondent for MSNBC interviews a pair of parents about how they explain the events of the past week to their young children. watch
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