Rachel Maddow reviews the implementation of inclusive military policies under the Obama administration and notes that it's wrong to think of the lifting of bans on gay and transgendered people as suddenly allowing them into the military because they were and are already serving. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on a number of aspects of the Donald Trump campaign that are still not quite in order, as well as recent mistakes by the candidate, including poor handling of a town hall questioner. watch
Rachel Maddow looks at the get-rich-quick infomercial schemers behind Donald Trump's get-rich-quick real estate infomercial scheme call The Trump Institute, and other humiliating scandals exposed about Donald Trump's business past this week. watch
* The latest historic shift: "Transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Thursday -- the latest move in a series of historic shifts on gender policy for the nation's military."
* Afghanistan: "Taliban militants launched a twin suicide attack on Thursday, targeting a convoy of buses carrying Afghan police cadets outside of the capital and killing 37 people, mostly policemen, and wounding 40, an Afghan official said."
* If true, this is a major development: "Iraqi airstrikes destroyed around 200 vehicles believed to be carrying ISIS fighters fleeing one of their former strongholds -- killing an unknown number of people, a senior official told NBC News on Thursday."
* Turkish police "arrested 13 people in connection with the deadly attack on Istanbul's airport, officials said Thursday. More than 40 people died and over 200 were injured when assailants with guns and explosives hit the airport on Tuesday. Officials have said the coordinated assault on Ataturk airport bore the hallmarks of ISIS, but there has been no official claim of responsibility."
* He lit the match and then ran away: "Former London mayor Boris Johnson shocked Britain Thursday by announcing that he will not run to be the next leader of the country's ruling Conservative party -- and prime minister."
* Indiana: "Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted a preliminary injunction Thursday that stops Indiana's new abortion law from going into effect July 1. The law, passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly, would prohibit abortions sought solely because a fetus had been potentially diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome."
* Seriously? "House Republicans are trying to block their Democratic colleagues from mentioning the gun violence sit-in on social media, arguing that the words 'sit in' or photos with signs calling for an end to gun violence violate rules on official business."
For the typical adult, counting to five should be pretty easy. It makes Donald Trump's trouble with Supreme Court arithmetic that much more puzzling.
On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down arguably the most important abortion-rights ruling in a generation, prompting the Republican presidential hopeful to say ... literally nothing. To the consternation of some of his social-conservative allies, Trump acted as if the court's decision didn't exist, offering no response in speeches, interviews, or social media.
It took a few days, but this morning the presumptive GOP nominee broke his unexpected silence in an interview with conservative radio host Mike Gallagher.
"Now if we had Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn't have had that, OK? It would've been the opposite."
Actually, no, it wouldn't have. This week's ruling was actually a 5-3 decision. Yes, Antonin Scalia's passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn't take a mathematician to know 3 +1 does not equal 5.
Remember, the decision was on Monday, and today's Thursday. Trump and his team had three days to come up with the candidate's response to a major court ruling, and this is what they came up with.
In the same interview, the New York Republican complained about Chief Justice John Roberts, telling the host, "He could've killed [the Affordable Care Act] twice and he didn't. That was terrible. And that was a Bush appointment. That was so bad, what happened. And you know, to me, you know, almost not recoverable from his standpoint. Very, very sad situation."
Actually, the second time the justices considered the constitutionality of "Obamacare," the law was upheld in a 6-3 ruling. When Trump said today Roberts "could've killed" the ACA, his math is still wrong -- because 6 - 1 does not equal four.
Do you ever get the impression that Trump hasn't really thought this issue through? Ever wonder if there's an issue he has thought through?
As the dust settled on the United Kingdom's "Brexit" vote, it wasn't long before observers started noticing that the Leave campaign succeeded thanks to some pretty brazen falsehoods. For example, Leave proponents repeatedly told voters that the country would save 350 million pounds a week by parting ways with the European Union -- money that could be used to bolster the National Health Service.
It was therefore of great interest yesterday when The Guardian published this report on insurance multi-millionaire Arron Banks, described as the "Brexit campaign's biggest financial donor," who shared some insights on his political tactics.
Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip's referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.
"It was taking an American-style media approach," said Banks. "What they said early on was 'facts don't work' and that's it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn't work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It's the Trump success."
When we talk about exporting American values around the world, this really isn't what we're referring to.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The new national PPP poll, which Rachel discussed at the top of last night's show, found Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up, 48% to 44%. A national Fox News poll, also released last night, showed the Democrat with a slightly larger lead, 44% to 38%.
* Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight unveiled its first 2016 election forecast yesterday, which will be regularly updated as the season progresses. The initial forecast found Clinton with a 73.8% chance of victory using the "polls-plus" model (which takes a variety of factors, including the economy and historical data), while the "polls-only" model (which looks exclusively at survey data) gives Clinton an 80.2% chance of success.
* For the second time in as many weeks, Trump used social media yesterday to promote a poll that shows him losing.
* The Clinton campaign announced this morning it will begin airing this ad in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. Note, Nebraska is one of only two states to divide their electoral votes by district, and President Obama won Nebraska's 2nd in the 2008 race.
* Despite Pennsylvania's importance, Politicoreports that local GOP leaders in some of the state's most pivotal counties "say there's been almost no outreach from his campaign so far, and there's scant evidence of any Trump-driven ground organization."
* In New Jersey, where Trump has said he expects to compete, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released last night found Clinton up by 21 points in the Garden State, 52% to 31%.
* Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) continues to support Trump's candidacy, but he rebuked his candidate over Trump's renewed call for torture. "It's not the United States of America. It's not what we are all about. It's not what we are," the Arizona senator and former prisoner of war said yesterday.
With the Republicans' Benghazi Committee uncovering no meaningful new information, and with the panel's investigation effectively exonerating Hillary Clinton, right-wing conspiracy theorists this week had no choice but to give up and find a new hobby.
No, I'm just kidding. They're actually redirecting their ire towards Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
Just yesterday, I predicted that some conservatives would turn on Gowdy, in whom they'd invested so much hope. The far-right South Carolinian was supposed to bury, not exonerate, Hillary Clinton, I wrote, and his inability to deliver a useful campaign weapon will likely be seen as both a failure and a betrayal.
A few hours later, far-right radio personality Michael Savage told his audience, "Trey Gowdy should be impeached for wasting my time! He promised us a lot! Remember?" (Members of Congress can be expelled, but not impeached, under the U.S. Constitution.)
Of course, Savage isn't alone. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank explained today that "conspiracy-minded" conservatives are blaming Gowdy "for failing to deliver the goods." There was a meeting yesterday of the "Citizens' Commission on Benghazi," where members agreed the far-right South Carolinian let them down by failing to confirm their beliefs.
A woman in the crowd floated a new Benghazi conspiracy. "Has someone in the GOP leadership gotten their fingers involved in watering down some of this to benefit Secretary Clinton?" she asked. Nobody rebutted this idea.
Herein lies a lesson for Republicans who are perpetually trying to appease the far right: It's a fool's errand. They went to the tea party -- and now they're taking Donald Trump to the prom. Likewise, then-House Speaker John Boehner named the Benghazi committee because activists were dissatisfied that seven previous congressional investigations had failed to uncover major scandal material. Now an eighth has produced more of the same -- and the agitators are as agitated as ever.
There's a certain twisted logic to this. The unhinged right starts with the ideologically satisfying answer -- President Obama and Hillary Clinton are guilty of horrible Benghazi-related wrongdoing -- and then works backwards, looking for "proof" that matches the conclusion. When their ostensible allies fail to tell these activists what they want to hear, they could reevaluate their bogus assumptions, but it's vastly easier to believe Republicans have let them down.
The Republican presidential candidate, Dobson added, should now be considered "a baby Christian."
If true, this would represent quite a dramatic shift for Trump, a thrice-married adulterer who owned casinos and seems to know effectively nothing about religion. As we talked about the other day, I can't think of any major-party nominee in American history who's changed his or her religious beliefs this dramatically during a presidential campaign.
It was of interest, then, when Dobson walked back his comments yesterday. TPM reported:
While Dobson characterized Trump at the time as a "baby Christian," he seemed more circumspect about the New York real estate mogul's newfound faith in a statement released Monday to the Christian publication Charisma News.
"Only the Lord knows the condition of a person's heart. I can only tell you what I've heard," Dobson said. "First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ."
"Do I know that for sure? No," Dobson added. "Do I know the details of that alleged conversion? I can't say that I do."
Televangelist Paula White, incidentally, is the senior pastor at the New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, and a member of Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. Paula White Ministries' business practices were investigated by the Senate Finance Committee, though no charges were ever filed.
So far, Trump has not commented publicly on whether or not Dobson's comments are accurate.
When Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign reported paltry fundraising totals last week, much of the political world was taken aback, and his woeful finances became a controversy unto themselves.
But when it comes to the GOP candidate and fundraising, we're just getting started.
This week, for example, Team Trump thought it'd be a good idea to send out an appeal to donors telling would-be contributors they had a chance to "indict Hillary Clinton" on unidentified charges.
[A] wave of fundraising pleas [were] inexplicably sent by the Trump campaign in recent days to lawmakers in the United Kingdom, Iceland, Australia and elsewhere. The solicitations prompted watchdog groups in Washington to file two separate complaints Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the Trump campaign was violating federal law by soliciting funds from foreign nationals.
"The scale and scope of this does seem somewhat unprecedented," said Brendan Fischer, associate counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which joined Democracy 21 in one of the complaints.
Worse still, some of the Trump campaign's specific fundraising boasts appear to be literally unbelievable, and Hillary Clinton's campaign argued that the Republican's claims are very likely "total bunk."
All of which brings us to the new controversy surrounding Trump's loans.
If you missed President Obama's address to the Canadian Parliament yesterday, it was a rather extraordinary event in which the American leader received a rapturous welcome. Given the warmth of the reception, it became quite easy to believe that if Obama decided to seek public office north of the border, he'd win in a landslide.
But as Rachel noted on the show last night, one of the memorable moments of the president's appearance in Ottawa came, oddly enough, after Obama was done speaking.
It was Obama's third round of public remarks Wednesday during a series of talks dubbed "The Three Amigos Summit" by Canadian media, and as he concluded, the building erupted in a chant unlikely to be heard south of the border:
"Four more years! Four more years!"
Obama shook his head, waved and sat down, a wide grin across his face.
It was heartening, to be sure, to see an American president receive such an outpouring of support in a foreign country. For all the Republican rhetoric about the lack of respect Obama enjoys on the international stage, even among our allies, yesterday was a reminder that complaints from the president's detractors couldn't be more wrong.
But it also got me thinking about whether those cheering the president were bringing attention to an under-appreciated argument.
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.