Rachel Maddow points out that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's racist remarks are unsurprising in the context of his apparent adherence to the philosophy of the Posse Comitatus and Sovereign Citizen movements, rooted in post-Civil War reconstruction. watch
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford, who represents rancher Cliven Bundy’s district, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the citizens of his district, Bundy's neighbors, feel about Bundy and his armed militia supporters. watch
Rachel Maddow teases ahead to an upcoming segment with an explanation of why a Colorado candidate trying to deny his past position on personhood would not welcome a surprise endorsement from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on how Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is struggling to disassociate himself from his record of supporting personhood, an anti-abortion policy that would also ban some popular forms of birth control. watch
Lynn Bartels, political reporter for the Denver Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the political dynamics in Colorado and whether voters will accept Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner's explanation of his past advocacy for personhood. watch
Three months ago, a federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission's "net neutrality" policy -- for the second time. Federal officials could, in theory, guarantee that all online content will be treated equally, but the court said the FCC would need a different regulatory course to get there.
Soon after, there was some talk about going the legislative route. Democrats unveiled the "Open Internet Preservation Act," which picked up 31 co-sponsors in the House and 6 in the Senate, and which would have empowered the FCC to require telecommunications companies to treat all websites equally. Proponents quickly realized overcoming Republican opposition would be nearly impossible -- GOP hostility towards net neutrality has been unyielding and inflexible.
And so the FCC, after having already struck out a couple of times, has apparently come up with a brand new approach, which bears little resemblance to the policy officials had fought for prior to January's court ruling.
The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday that it would propose new rules that allow companies like Disney, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers.
The proposed changes would affect what is known as net neutrality -- the idea that no providers of legal Internet content should face discrimination in providing offerings to consumers, and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose.
The proposal comes three months after a federal appeals court struck down, for the second time, agency rules intended to guarantee a free and open Internet.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told the New York Times that it's "flat out wrong" to say that this new plan guts net neutrality. Rather, he added, this approach is intended to help the policy overcome the federal courts' objections.
But for proponents of net neutrality, this is not only deeply discouraging; it's arguably a moment of crisis.
In terms of the real-world impact and the ability to change the lives of many Americans, the Obama administration's new policy on presidential clemency is quietly going to be one of the year's biggest political stories. The politics surrounding the policy, however, is more nuanced.
The Justice Department announced a plan on Wednesday to canvass the entire federal prison population for the first time to find inmates who committed low-level crimes and could be released early.
The move, which expands a plan announced in January, is expected to generate thousands, if not tens of thousands, of applications for clemency. It represents the Obama administration's latest break from the criminal justice policies created to fight drugs.
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said Wednesday that the department would consider recommending clemency for nonviolent felons who have served at least 10 years in prison and who would have received significantly lower prison terms if convicted under today's more lenient sentencing laws.
President Obama has changed the national conversation in a more progressive direction on a variety of major issues, but arguably the most profound change has been on U.S. drug policy. After nearly a half-century of a costly and needlessly punitive "war on drugs" -- a "war" fought by both parties -- it was this president that forced a dramatic change of course.
There's no great mystery as to why it took so long. As we've discussed before, the political environment has been, to put it mildly, inhospitable -- Democrats who dared to question the wisdom of U.S. drug policy risked being labeled out-of-touch liberals and "soft" on crime.
For the most part, the political conversation has matured and the Obama White House has faced very little partisan pushback. Indeed, following the president's lead, it's no longer uncommon for even prominent Republicans to decry the "failed war on drugs" and endorse sentencing reforms.
But as Rachel noted on the show last night, the new clemency policy has sparked more pushback than most recent initiatives in this area.
Steve Doocy told Fox viewers the other day how distressed he is about the Affordable Care Act. He even tried to bolster his concerns by citing the Congressional Budget Office: "The CBO said yesterday at the end of this year, 42 million people will still be uninsured. 42 million! We blew up everything for one or two million while 42 million are still going uninsured? That's not what we were sold."
Evan McMurry did some fact-checking on Doocy's rhetoric and concluded, "Everything about that is bollocks."
McMurry is correct, of course, but what I found interesting about Doocy's plainly silly ACA criticism was his underlying point: the Fox News host seemed to be suggesting that "Obamacare" isn't nearly ambitious enough when it comes to covering the uninsured. It's an almost comical line of attack: the Affordable Care Act has extended coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans, but since the uninsured rate is not yet 0%, the law is obviously flawed.
But ridiculous or not, it's becoming increasingly common. A variety of Republican pundits are pushing this line of criticism, as are leading Republican lawmakers. Jonathan Cohn noted yesterday that the attacks are "a bit much" given the circumstances.
House Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare 50 times. They have voted on serious Obamacare alternatives exactly zero times. They haven't even made a serious attempt to get a bill out of committee, let alone hold a floor debate. [...]
In addition, a major reason the Affordable Care Act isn't reaching more people is that Republicans have done their best to limit the law's reach -- primarily, by blocking expansions of Medicaid in states where conservative Republicans hold sway.
Cohn added that the House Republican budget blueprint not only wants to make the rate of the uninsured worse by repealing the Affordable Care Act, they also want to gut Medicaid, which would make it that much more difficult for struggling Americans to access medical care.
And it's against this backdrop that the right has decided to complain that the ACA isn't covering the uninsured fast enough?
In the larger context, note how conservative arguments against the law are starting to turn on one another.
We've grown accustomed to thinking about the politics of health care lately in a rather binary, red-state/blue-state sort of way. In Democratic-led states, policymakers are creating effective exchange marketplaces, competition is helping consumers, Medicaid expansion is offering new hope to struggling families, and the uninsured rate is dropping quickly. In Republican-led states, progress is sporadic and slow.
But below the surface, looking at the debate this way is misleading, or at least, incomplete. As new polling from the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests, even in the deep South, voters aren't actually buying what Republicans are selling on health care.
Despite strong dislike of President Obama's handling of health care, a majority of people in three Southern states -- Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina -- would rather that Congress improve his signature health care law than repeal and replace it, according to a New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
The poll also found that a majority of Kentucky residents -- and a plurality in a fourth state, Arkansas -- said they thought the health care marketplace in their state was working well, even as they expressed strong disapproval of the health care law.
The article quoted one Louisiana woman who said, "I'm a Republican, but I'm tired of them saying 'Repeal, repeal, repeal.'"
Indeed, while the Affordable Care Act is not at all popular in these deep Southern states, locals hold surprisingly progressive views on health care policy in general. Repealing "Obamacare" in its entirety -- the official line of the Republican Party -- is the minority position in all four states. A majority of residents in these states, meanwhile, support Medicaid expansion and requiring private insurers to cover the full cost of contraception.
This stood out for me as perhaps the most interesting question: "Which comes closest to your view about the government's role in providing health insurance for middle-income people under the age of 65 who don't get insurance at work?"