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Friday's Mini-Report, 2.24.17

02/24/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* If the White House wanted intelligence that met the preconceived conclusion, officials will be disappointed: "Analysts at the Homeland Security Department's intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump's travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States."

* That's not how this is supposed to work: "Multiple media outlets were blocked from a White House gaggle Friday afternoon, hours after President Donald Trump again labeled the press as enemies of the American people and vowed to 'do something about it.'"

* A sneak peek: "A draft bill detailing Republican plans to begin repealing and replacing many facets of the Affordable Care Act would provide expanded tax credits and health savings accounts for individuals while reducing federal spending on tax subsidies and Medicaid and practically eliminating both the current employer and individual mandate to provide and carry health insurance."

* CPB: "U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Thursday that their agents requested to see the identification of domestic flight passengers landing at a New York airport Wednesday night as they searched for an immigrant who had received a deportation order to leave the United States."

* Why is it so important to have lawmakers host town-hall events? Because sometimes, they end up saying something new: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), for example, "called on President Trump to release his tax returns at a town hall meeting ... Thursday, reflecting the growing pressure on Republican lawmakers this week to assuage angry constituents."

* Trump's wall: "House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul tempered his support of President Donald Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, stressing the need for a multifaceted approach to border security. 'I don't think we need a 2,000-mile wall down there,' McCaul, fresh off a tour of the Rio Grande Valley portion of the boundary with House Speaker Paul Ryan, told the PBS 'NewsHour' on Thursday."
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Wayne LaPierre

Short on enemies, NRA's LaPierre invents a new one

02/24/17 04:49PM

Shortly before Election Day, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre delivered an election-season message, which seemed oddly detached from reality, even for him.

"When I said Barack Obama would come for our guns and do everything in his power to sabotage the Second Amendment, they savaged me. They called me a liar," the NRA leader proclaimed. "But every one of those predictions came true."

Actually, not one of those predictions came true. Obama didn't come for Americans' guns -- I'm pretty sure we would've noticed -- and Second Amendment wasn't sabotaged. And yet, LaPierre, whose business model remains dependent on a boogeyman, quickly added that Obama's non-existent gun-confiscation campaign would continue unless voters elected the NRA's Republican allies.

And as it turns out, that worked out pretty well for the far-right organization, though with the NRA's successes come a new challenge: if the group's allies now control all federal policymaking, what exactly should NRA members be afraid of? If LaPierre relies on keeping supporters in a perpetual state of near-panic about looming threats posed by Democrats, and Democrats have no meaningful power in Washington, who will LaPierre tell conservatives to be afraid of now?

Apparently, the right is supposed to believe dangerous liberals are on the prowl. TPM reported on LaPierre's appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
"Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us," he said. "The leftist movement in this country right now is enraged. Among them and behind them are the most radical political elements there are: Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the left of the -- the rest of the left-wing socialist parade. They hate everything America stands for: Democracy, free market capitalism, representative government, individual freedom. They want to tear down our system and replace it with their collectivist top-down global-government-knows-best-utopia." [...]

LaPierre wrapped up by attacking the media and insinuating violence against the "violent left" if it brings "terror" to communities.
The NRA leader added, by the way, that progressive activists receive $1,500 a week, which works out to roughly $78,000 a year, well above the median national income. He went on to say anti-Trump protesters "spit in the face of Gold Star families" -- which was a curious line of attack given Trump's own history.

I should note, in case there are any doubts, LaPierre did not appear to be kidding. This was not some kind of skit intended to make conservatives appear foolish; the NRA leader was apparently quite serious.
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Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

GOP lawmaker: 'Obamacare' may be saved by progressive activism

02/24/17 04:01PM

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been watching the health care fight from retirement, and he's come to his conclusion: his party is likely to fail.

Speaking at a health care conference in Orlando this week, Boehner -- who held dozens of ACA repeal votes against his better instincts -- said the existing law is likely to remain largely intact, despite Republican dominance. "Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act," he said, "that's going to be there."

The former Speaker added that his party will continue to struggle to agree among themselves on an alternative, and conceded many of the reform law's most popular provisions are now likely irreversible.

Of course, Boehner is no longer on the front lines of the conflict. Perhaps Republicans who are still in the thick of the fight have a different perspective about the state of the fight? Perhaps not.
Republican Rep. Mo Brooks said Thursday that protests at town halls around the country might prevent Republican lawmakers from repealing the Affordable Care Act.

"I'll tell you, Toni, there are a, in my opinion, a significant number of congressmen who are being impacted by these kinds of protests and their spine is a little bit weak," the Alabama congressman said in an interview on "The Morning Show with Toni & Gary" on WBHP 800 Alabama radio. "And I don't know if we're going to be able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are very active, they're putting pressure on congressman and there's not a counter-effort to steal the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup districts around the country."
To be sure, Brooks wants to repeal the law -- a point he emphasized during the interview -- but the far-right Alabaman nevertheless sees the fight slipping away. He added yesterday that Congress "may not even" vote to repeal the law. "We don't have the votes in Congress to pass a repeal bill, in part because of what these people are doing," Brooks concluded.

"These people," in this case, refers to ACA proponents who've made their voices heard.
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American businessman Donald Trump leaves the stage after addressing the American Conservative Union's 42nd Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo by Pete Marovich/EPA)

For Donald Trump at CPAC, it's still 2016

02/24/17 01:09PM

During Donald Trump's appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today, it was tempting to check the calendar to make sure we weren't watching a speech from last year. This was one of the more memorable moments of the presidential appearance:
TRUMP: The forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no longer.... Hillary called them deplorable. They're not deplorable.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
That's right, nearly four months after Election Day, over a month after Inauguration Day, and with Team Trump facing a multi-agency investigation, far-right activists still have the same old, Pavlovian reaction to even a passing reference to Hillary Clinton.

As the president made clear today, we remain stuck in 2016 -- a year Trump seems to long for now that his presidency is off to such a disastrous start. At CPAC, the Republican reflected on his primary rivals, which pre-election polls he liked best, and the budget sequester that he still doesn't know how to pronounce.

Trump even made multiple references to "super-delegates," and alleged a conspiracy against Bernie Sanders that never existed in reality.

Repeating a familiar line, the president also declared, "By the way, you folks are in here -- this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks and I tell you that because you won't read about it, OK. But there are lines that go back six blocks." Trump used to use nearly identical boasts on the campaign trail, but outside of CPAC this morning, these lines existed only in his imagination. You won't read about it because it's fantasy.

He's like the boy who doesn't want to grow up and face adult responsibilities, except in this case, it's the 70-year-old president who doesn't want to let go of the campaign and face governing responsibilities.
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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 2.24.17

02/24/17 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* On MSNBC yesterday, Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, ended his bid to be the next chair of the DNC, and threw his support behind Tom Perez. The election is tomorrow in Atlanta.

* With control of the state Senate on the line, Delaware will host a special election tomorrow. Though television ads in state legislative races are unusual, former Vice President Joe Biden is the star of a new ad in support of the Democratic candidate, Stephanie Hansen.

* Senate Democratic leaders announced this morning that after Donald Trump's presidential address to Congress next week, the Dems' response will be delivered by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Astrid Silva, a DREAMer and immigration activist, will deliver the party's Spanish-language response.

* Despite some chatter to the contrary, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has decided not to run for president in 2020.

* American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, is launching a digital ad campaign targeting Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) -- both of whom are up next year -- urging them to support an independent investigation of Donald Trump's Russia scandal.

* Speaking of progressive advertising, the "Save My Care" campaign has launched new television ads in support of the Affordable Care Act, featuring a Trump voter who explains that the reform law saved his life. The spots are set to run in Tennessee and Ohio, in the hopes of putting pressure on Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman.
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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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