Loretta Lynch was nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney General 118 days ago. Over the last several decades, no A.G. nominee has had to wait this long for a confirmation vote. And yet, here we are, still wondering why the Senate's Republican leadership still won't allow members to vote up or down on Lynch's nomination.
It's tough to defend, and just as important, it's evidence of a Senate that's failing as some rudimentary tasks.
Specifically on Lynch, the Democratic minority yesterday made clear how absurd it is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't bring her nomination to the floor.
Senate Democrats on Thursday intensified their push for a vote on the confirmation of Loretta E. Lynch as attorney general, arguing that her nomination should not be held up because Republicans are angry with President Obama over executive action on immigration.
"The delay is wrong and it is irresponsible," Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said during a conference call with reporters. "She should be judged on her merits and not used as a pawn in a proxy fight over the president's immigration policies."
It's tough to disagree. Lynch sailed through her confirmation hearings; she's already received the Judiciary Committee's bipartisan backing; and by all appearances, she has the votes needed to clear the Senate and get to work.
And yet, McConnell waits. When Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was advanced at the committee level, his nomination was on the Senate floor two days later, and he was confirmed easily. Lynch was nominated before Carter, she cleared committee last week, and yet the whole process is being slow-walked for reasons the GOP has struggled to explain.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told the New York Times, "[O]n the anniversary of Selma, [Lynch] is being told, just be patient and wait your turn. That's wrong and beneath the Senate."
By most projections, economists expected U.S. job growth in February to cool a bit, slipping from its fast pace in recent months. Fortunately, the projections were wrong -- a proper jobs boom is underway.
The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February. The overall unemployment rate dropped 5.7% to 5.5%, reaching its lowest level since May 2008 -- nearly seven years ago.
In terms of the recent revisions, the picture looks largely unchanged. December's totals held steady at 329,000 jobs, while January's picture was revised down slightly, from 257,000 to 239,000.
All told, the U.S. has added an amazing 3.3 million jobs over the last 12 months. In fact, we've had 12 consecutive months of job growth over 200,000 -- the first time Americans have seen this since 1984, more three decades ago.
What's more, February was the 53rd consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 58th consecutive month in which we've seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), nearly killed by a deranged assassin in 2011, was back on Capitol Hill this week, encouraging lawmakers to approve expanded background checks. And while opposition from the National Rifle Association comes as no surprise, the far-right group raised eyebrows with a rhetorical shot at Giffords directly.
Hitting a new low in its bullying barrage against gun laws, the National Rifle Association on Thursday targeted Gabrielle Giffords in an attack mocking her 2011 shooting.
"Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed," the NRA tweeted from its main account.
The tweet -- which one lawmaker called "pathetic" -- aimed to argue that background checks don't reduce gun violence and linked to an article on the right-wing Breitbart website.
The Breitbart article that the NRA promoted noted, accurately, that the gunman responsible for the 2011 massacre in Tucson passed a background check, as did several other notorious killers. As best as I can tell, the Breitbart article is accurate.
That said, both the article and the NRA seem to be badly missing the point.
David Wondrich, James Beard Award-winning author of Imbibe, and cocktail historian, mixes the cocktail everyone should know how to make, the Old Fashioned, and talks with Rachel Maddow about its roots and variations. watch
Mark Stevens, KWQC-TV investigative reporter, talks with Rachel Maddow about a still-burning oil train explosion in Illinois, on a day that included miles of cars stranded in the snow in Kentucky and a plane sliding off the runway in New York City. watch
David Wondrich, James Beard Award-winning author and cocktail historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about the cultural revival of cocktail making as a lost American art, and what makes cocktails a quintessentially American invention. watch
Assistant LAFD fire chief Patrick Butler and NTSB investigator Patrick Jones brief reporters on the circumstances of a crash by a vintage plane flown by Harrison Ford, leaving the actor hospitalized with moderate injuries. watch
In last night's segment about New Jersey's surprising settlement with ExxonMobil in a pollution case, Rachel also mentioned that Governor Chris Christie's proposed budget for next year cuts snow removal funding in half. Unfortunately for Christie, he doesn't get a vote on how much snow falls on his state next year. The citizens don't have much say in a ...
* South Korea: "U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul on Thursday morning local time in an encounter that left him bleeding heavily. He is in stable condition after being treated at a local hospital.... The assailant was wielding a razor and shouted 'South and North Korea should be reunified,' the Associated Press reported."
* Yet another ISIS tragedy: "Iraq's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities says Islamic State militants 'bulldozed' the Nimrud archaeological site near the northern city of Mosul using heavy military vehicles."
* Baghdad: "Insurgents unleashed a series of attacks mostly targeting civilian areas in and around the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 16, as Islamic State militants in the country's north set oil wells ablaze in an attempt to slow government forces battling to reclaim territory."
* Quite a story out of Argentina: "The ex-wife of a prosecutor whose mysterious death has rocked Argentina said a team of experts she hired has concluded that her former husband was killed. Sandra Arroyo Salgado said Thursday in a press conference that her husband 'was a victim of homicide, without any doubt.'"
* More from New Jersey on tonight's show: "The administration of Gov. Chris Christie offered details for the first time on Thursday about its settlement of a longstanding legal battle with Exxon Mobil Corporation over contamination in which the company agreed to pay a fraction of the damages that the State of New Jersey was seeking."
* That's pretty amazing, actually: "Unemployment fell in every state and the nation's capital last year -- something that hadn't happened since 1984."
* Strange bedfellows: "At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops."
In recent years, we've all heard some pretty outrageous allegations surrounding President Obama, and we've all heard Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) throw around some pretty ridiculous rhetoric.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement's legal and legislative strategies, told a caller to his weekly radio program last week that while he thought it was "unlikely," it would not be a "huge jump" to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime.
Claiming that "it's already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws," Kobach told listeners that "I've learned to say with this president, never say never."
It really is as bad as it sounds. Kobach fielded a call from a listener to his radio show, who raised the specter of the president announcing that no African American would be prosecuted for any crime. "We've already seen it from Eric Holder in his failure to prosecute the Black Panthers," the caller said, probably referring to the New Black Panthers and the ridiculous Fox-inspired conspiracy theory.
Obviously, Kobach isn't responsible for comments raised by those who call into his show. But Kansas' Secretary of State, a notorious national figure for his anti-immigration and voter-suppression efforts, is responsible for how he responded to this caller's concerns.
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