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Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who has been sued by the ACLU for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, speaks at a rally in Frankfort Ky., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (Photo by Timothy D. Easley/AP)

Kentucky clerk ignores court rulings, cites 'God's authority'

09/01/15 12:46PM

Kentucky's Kim Davis ran out of legal options yesterday. The clerk, who opposes marriage equality for religious reasons, has refused to issue marriage licenses to couples she decides are morally objectionable, despite the fact that Davis is paid to issue marriage licenses.
 
She and her attorney took the matter to court, and a federal district court judge said Davis could either follow the law or get a new job. She took her case to the 6th Circuit, which is pretty conservative, but which nevertheless rejected her case. Last week, Davis appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which turned the case away yesterday.
 
All of which led to this morning, when Davis decided to ignore the court rulings, the law, and her official responsibilities. MSNBC's Emma Margolin reported:
A Kentucky clerk is still refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her religious opposition to same-sex nuptials, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, even after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the final blow to her argument.
 
On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis denied marriage licenses to at least two couples, telling them she was acting "under God's authority." She then asked David Moore and David Ermold, a couple who has been rejected by her office four times, to leave.
When the local resident said, "We're not leaving until we have a license," Davis responded, "Then you're going to have a long day."
 
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported this morning that the federal judge in the case ordered Davis to "appear in his courtroom Thursday and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court."
 
As a rule, judges tend not to like it when citizens ignore the law and deliberately defy court orders. It's worth noting for context that U.S. District Judge David Bunning, appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, is presiding over the case.

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.1.15

09/01/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Public Policy Polling shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders nationally in the race for the Democratic nomination, 55% to 20%. The former Secretary of State's 35-point lead is identical to the findings of a national PPP survey released a month ago.
 
* As Rachel mentioned on the show last night, Rick Perry's operation in Iowa is down to just one staffer. Yesterday, Karen Fesler, Perry's Iowa co-chair, jumped ship, joining Rick Santorum's Iowa team.
 
* Mike Huckabee, who has been both for and against birthright citizenship, now wants everyone to know he's now open to ending the policy mandated by the 14th Amendment.
 
* In New Hampshire's closely watched U.S. Senate race, the latest PPP survey shows incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) with the narrowest of leads over Gov. Maggie Hassan (R), 44% to 43%. The governor has not yet formally announced her 2016 plans.
 
* In response to reports about slower mail delivery, Bernie Sanders is pushing USPS to improve its overnight delivery (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).
 
* Last week's "Draft Biden" event at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting only drew about 15 attendees. Hundreds of DNC members were on hand for the seasonal gathering.
In this handout provided by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets with members of his national security team to discuss developments in the Boston bombings investigation, in the Situation Room of the White House on April 19, 2013 in...

Law enforcement: the biggest threats aren't foreign

09/01/15 11:26AM

A survey of law-enforcement officials about America's most serious threats did not point to foreign religious extremists. Vox had an interesting report on who's seen as an even bigger security risk.
In a 2014 survey, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) surveyed hundreds of law enforcement personnel at the state and local level, all of whom had training in intelligence gathering or counterterrorism. They were presented with a list of radical groups and asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 4, how much they agreed that this group posed a terrorist threat to the US.
The anti-government "sovereign citizen" movement was #1, followed by "Islamic extremists." On the list of groups perceived as the highest threat, anti-government militias was third, followed by skinheads and Neo-Nazis. They were followed by animal rights extremists, environmental extremists, and then the KKK.
 
Granted, the data is a year old, and it's possible attitudes among law-enforcement professionals have changed a bit since 2014, but that doesn't change the striking nature of the findings.
 
Indeed, the findings found, "Approximately 39 percent of respondents agreed and 28 percent strongly agreed that Islamic extremists were a serious terrorist threat. In comparison, 52 percent of respondents agreed and 34 percent strongly agreed that sovereign citizens were a serious terrorist threat."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks toward Jeb Bush, right, as Scott Walker watches during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena on Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)

Jeb, Trump start to unlace their gloves

09/01/15 11:00AM

Jeb Bush's campaign operation had a pretty straightforward plan when dealing with the summer's campaign drama: stay above it. Donald Trump may lead the polls and dominate the conversation, but the former governor and his team have consistently said they intend to stick to their own script.
 
It was just two weeks ago that the chief strategist for Bush's super PAC said, "Trump is, frankly, other people's problem."
 
About a day later, Team Jeb threw out its gameplan and paid for a plane to fly above a Trump event in Alabama, telling onlookers the GOP frontrunner supports 'higher taxes.'" Bush's campaign manager soon after turned his attention to Trump's sister.
 
This week, the showdown appears to be intensifying. Trump hit Jeb yesterday morning with an online video, attacking the Florida Republican on immigration. Bush hit back soon after with a memo, blasting Trump as being insufficiently conservative on crime and immigration.
 
Last night, Team Jeb took another swing.
On the same day that Donald Trump released a video blasting Jeb Bush on immigration, the former Florida governor published a web video highlighting Trump's past statements supporting liberal policy ideas.
 
The video titled "The Real Donald Trump" strings together clips of Trump saying he is pro-choice, noting that single-payer health care has worked in other countries, and praising Hillary Clinton.
The video is available on YouTube here.
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Faith and Freedom BBQ on Aug. 24, 2015, in Anderson, S.C. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/AP)

What Scott Walker meant to say was...

09/01/15 10:12AM

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) caused a bit of a stir on Sunday, suggesting he's open to building a new wall, not just along the U.S./Mexico border, but also along the U.S./Canada border. But as the Republican presidential candidate's comments started drawing fire yesterday, Team Walker tried walking it back. The Huffington Post reported:
After critics mocked Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for saying a wall between the U.S. and Canada was a "legitimate" idea, his campaign said Monday that he is not pushing for such a policy.
 
"Despite the attempts of some to put words in his mouth, Gov. Walker wasn't advocating for a wall along our northern border," Walker spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.
So, which is it? Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," noted that Walker and other Republican presidential candidates frequently talk about border security, but rarely turn their attention to the north. "Do you want to build a wall north of the border, too?" Todd asked.
 
The far-right governor, according to the video and the transcript, replied, "Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire. They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at."
 
Did Walker "advocate" building a U.S./Canadian border wall? No, but he nevertheless said the construction of such a wall "is a legitimate issue for us to look at" -- despite the fact that it's clearly nothing of the sort. The GOP candidate could have characterized the idea as impractical and/or unnecessary, but instead he treated the border wall idea as if it were entirely credible.
 
Which is why it made headlines.
 
The larger pattern, however, is one in which these incidents happen more than they should. Walker has an unfortunate habit of saying something foolish, drawing criticism, and then quietly walking it back.
Conservative radio and television commentator Glenn Beck speaks to a rally of Tea Party members as they protest against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting of the Tea Party and similar groups, June 19, 2013. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Beck joins guest list at right-wing Iran deal rally

09/01/15 09:21AM

Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) invited Donald Trump to join him at a Capitol Hill rally in opposition to the Iran deal, and the leading Republican presidential hopeful accepted. Yesterday, organizers added a similar figure to complete the triumvirate.
Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck is joining 2016 presidential contenders Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a "Stop the Iran Deal Rally" at the Capitol on Sept. 9.
 
The rally, organized by the Tea Party Patriots, Center for Security Policy, and Zionist Organization of America, takes place a day after lawmakers return from their recess and ahead of a vote on the deal.
In a statement, Tea Party Patriots CEO and co-founder Jenny Beth Martin boasted, "Glenn Beck's decision to speak on September 9th at the Stop the Iran Deal Rally underlines the momentum behind the movement to stop President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran."
 
In reality, of course, the opposite is true. Supporters of international diplomacy appear to have all of the "momentum" -- new Democratic proponents announce their endorsement every day -- and the fact that conservative event organizers persuaded a far-right media personality to attend an event isn't all that impressive.
 
It is, however, excellent news for those who hope to see the diplomatic agreement move forward.
Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, on Sept. 16, 2014.

GOP congressman asks small children about 'suicide bombers'

09/01/15 08:41AM

It's quite common for members of Congress to make appearances in schools and speak to local students. The challenge, however, is reminding lawmakers about age-appropriate messages.
 
About a year ago, for example, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) spoke at a high school, where he used "salty language," told a story "that involved flying to Paris to get drunk," compared marriage equality to "bull sex," and made some deeply unfortunate remarks about teen suicide. The school's principal wasn't pleased.
 
Fast forward a year and we find another conservative Republican congressman speaking to an even younger group of students, making a presentation that arguably went even worse. KPHO in Arizona reported yesterday:
Several parents are demanding answers from Congressman Matt Salmon, saying they cannot believe what the lawmaker said to young school children during a visit to a Gilbert school.
 
"It should have probably just been a good civics lesson for kids who initially were excited to meet their congressman," parent Scott Campbell said. That excitement, however, turned into fear.
According to the report from the local CBS affiliate, Salmon, a 10-term congressman, was supposed to talk to 2nd- and 3rd-graders about how bills become laws. But when Salmon turned his attention to vetoes, the Republican apparently decided to talk about his opposition to nuclear diplomacy with Iran.
 
One unhappy parent recalled that Salmon asked the small children, "Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?"
 
Remember earlier this year, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told a three-year-old child, "The world is on fire.... Your world is on fire"? By all accounts, Salmon's comments were about as appropriate.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) participates in a conversation about American foreign strategy and statesmanship at the Hudson Institute on March 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Cotton will 'stand with' foreign leader against US foreign policy

09/01/15 08:00AM

Meetings like these are becoming increasingly common, though that's not at all a positive development.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, part of his weeklong trip to Israel. [...]
 
"Today's meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal," Cotton said in a statement after the meeting. "I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates."
The far-right freshman tweeted a photo of himself and the Israeli prime minister, noting their joint efforts in opposition to the international nuclear agreement with Iran.
 
And at a certain level, I can appreciate why this seems terribly common. Last year, for example, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) traveled to Guatemala and worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Before that, other GOP lawmakers have traveled to Israel with the intention of undermining U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Cotton himself organized 46 of his Senate Republican colleagues to write a letter to Iranian officials, urging them not to trust the United States during sensitive negotiations.
 
By this measure, the Arkansas senator's meeting with Netanyahu seems like par for the course. But therein lies the point: the routinization of these incidents is itself dangerous.

Chris Christie, Rand Paul scraping the bottom in new PPP poll

08/31/15 10:46PM

Tonight, Public Policy Polling gave The Rachel Maddow Show a sneak peek at the results of their August 28-30 poll to be released tomorrow. While the findings at the top of the poll are what we've come to expect from the Republican field - Donald Trump and Ben Carson securing the top spots - what is more surprising is to find Beltway-favored... read more

Conservative group botches Clinton sting

Conservative group botches Hillary Clinton sting video

08/31/15 09:56PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a conservative activist group's attempt to catch Hillary Clinton campaign staffers on video committing illegal or unethical acts. Members of the group first accidentally exposed the scam by revealing to the campaign that their operatives were using fabricated identities. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.31.15

08/31/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* ISIS: "Turkey has launched its first wave of airstrikes as part of the United States-led coalition to fight the Islamic State, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday."
 
* Texas: "Authorities have arrested a suspect in the 'execution-style' shooting of a uniformed Texas sheriff's deputy. Shannon J. Miles, 30, has been charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren H. Goforth, officials said Saturday afternoon."
 
* Texas: "A statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was taken down from its pedestal outside the clock tower on the University of Texas at Austin campus on Sunday, after a legal appeal to keep the memorial in place was rejected."
 
* New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R) was charged late last week with "embezzlement, fraud and other criminal violations, including allegations that the high-ranking Republican diverted campaign contributions for her personal use."
 
* Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) both endorsed the international nuclear agreement with Iran today, bringing the deal that much closer to congressional success.
 
* On a related note, this is deeply unfortunate for Democratic politics: "Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party's summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats."
 
* Ya don't say: "Experts in government secrecy law see almost no possibility of criminal action against Hillary Clinton or her top aides in connection with now-classified information sent over unsecure email while she was secretary of state, based on the public evidence thus far."
Ted Rafael Caroline Cruz

Is Ted Cruz prepared to give his father the spotlight?

08/31/15 04:30PM

It's nearly always unfair to judge political candidates by the actions of their relatives. When politicians enter the fray, they necessarily invite scrutiny, but it's best to consider members of their family -- private citizens, uninvolved in the process -- off-limits.
 
But the rules change when a candidate welcomes immediate family members into the arena. Take Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, whose father, right-wing activist Rafael Cruz, spoke at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies over the weekend.
In a 45-minute talk, the 76-year-old criticized his son's leading rivals for inconsistencies on immigration, abortion and education. He decried the Supreme Court for "calling homosexuality a civil right," accused the Republican Party of "relegating God to the basement" for the sake of "inclusion," and defended Ted against questions from conservative birthers.
 
"The battle is not November of 2016. The battle is the primary," Cruz said during a prayer breakfast, conveying apologies from his son that he was not able to make it. "Stop listening to their rhetoric and start looking at their record. Jesus put it this way: You shall know them by their fruit. It's about time we do some fruit checking."
The Republican presidential candidate's father appears to have gone on quite a tear, blasting his son's rivals on "amnesty," Common Core, and being insufficiently opposed to reproductive rights.
 
According to the Washington Post's report, Rafael Cruz also lashed out at the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. "I think the Devil overplayed his hand this time," he said. "They're calling homosexuality a civil right. The next obvious step is that they're going to come to your church and demand to be hired!"
 
Obviously, in reality, that's foolish, but the point here is that Rafael Cruz seemed to be playing the role of a campaign surrogate -- the far-right senator couldn't attend the National Federation of Republican Assemblies' event, but Cruz Sr. could.
 
And that creates a complicated dynamic.

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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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