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Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., during a press conference where he announced he will vote no on the proposed GOP healthcare bill at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building on Friday, June 23, 2017 in Las Vegas.

Politics of health care fight takes its toll on Nevada's Heller

08/08/17 10:03AM

By some measures, the politics of the health care fight have affected no politician more than Sen. Dean Heller (R), the only Republican senator up for re-election next year in a state Hillary Clinton won.

As regular readers know, Heller adopted a bold posture in late June, rejecting his party's plans in no uncertain terms, which predictably infuriated the far-right. In the days and weeks that followed, party pressure increased, and some Republican insiders went so far as to say that Heller could be "bought off."

Ultimately, the Nevada senator sided with his party on the final repeal vote, which left many health care advocates feeling betrayed, and which left Heller with nothing to  show for his trouble when the bill failed anyway.

The Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate Republican leadership's super PAC, has already vowed to invest heavily in Heller's re-election, and it looks like he'll need the help. Not only has the incumbent lawmaker's approval rating dropped to 22%, but as of this morning, as TPM noted Heller also has a primary challenger.

After facing backlash from President Donald Trump and a Pro-Trump group over his sometimes-critical stance on the Senate Republican's Obamacare repeal and replace bill, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) now has a GOP challenger for his seat in 2018.

[Danny] Tarkanian announced on "Fox and Friends" Tuesday morning that he is running for Heller's seat. The Nevada Republican said he plans to campaign on the promise of supporting Trump's agenda, which he claims Heller hasn't done.

Tarkanian, the son of a famous basketball coach, will at least have a name familiar to voters: according to his Wikipedia page, he's run unsuccessful campaigns for state Senate (2004), Nevada Secretary of State (2006), U.S. Senate (2010), and U.S. House (2012 and 2016).

But what stood out as especially notable about his announcement this morning was its timing.

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Droplets of water fall from a melting ice block harvested from Greenland and installed on Place du Pantheon in Paris, France, Dec. 3, 2015 as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues. (Photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Climate scientists preempt possible suppression from White House

08/08/17 09:20AM

The New York Times obtained a striking new report on the climate crisis that, under normal circumstances, we wouldn't yet be able to read.

The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.

The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.... The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.

What the New York Times obtained, in other words, is an advance look at one of "the most comprehensive climate science reports" ever written. The findings demand the world's attention: we're already feeling the effects of the climate crisis, and without significant action, the problems will only intensify. We know what's causing the crisis and what we must do to address it.

But then there's the story behind the story: this report was leaked for a reason.

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Image: NKOREA-US-MISSILE-DIPLOMACY

Trump uses Twitter to promote leaked intelligence on North Korea

08/08/17 08:40AM

If you've spent time on Twitter, you've probably seen the phrase "retweets do not equal endorsements." It's largely self-explanatory: sometimes folks retweet something they find notable, but that doesn't necessarily mean they like the content.

But in the Trump era, we're confronted with a very different kind of question: do presidential retweets equal confirmations?

Fox News ran a report yesterday on North Korea, which pointed to some provocative moves on the part of the U.S. adversary.

Despite the United States' insistence that North Korea halt its missile tests, U.S. spy agencies detected the rogue communist regime loading two anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat on the country's east coast just days ago.

It's the first time these missiles have been deployed on this type of platform since 2014, U.S. officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region told Fox News on Monday. It also points to more evidence that North Korea isn't listening to the diplomatic threats from the West.

Fox's report, which hasn't been independently verified, relied on leaks from unnamed U.S. officials, who apparently shared highly sensitive information with the network.

These anonymous sources, Fox News said, had "knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region."

All of this would ordinarily seem like a routine report, were it not for one thing: on Twitter this morning, Donald Trump retweeted Fox News' report without comment, highlighting the story for his 35 million followers -- and anyone else who happens to check his page.

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The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Touting job numbers, RNC forgets what 'unprecedented' means

08/08/17 08:00AM

In response to Friday's jobs report, which found the U.S. economy added 209,000 in July, Donald Trump's re-election campaign argued that the figures are "proof that the president has already begun to Make America Great Again." That, of course, doesn't stand up well to scrutiny: job growth since Trump took office is actually down a little, not up.

Which is why it was even stranger yesterday, when the Republican National Committee declared that job growth under Trump -- 1 million new jobs from February to July -- is "unprecedented."

Perhaps there's some confusion as to what "unprecedented" means. Let's revisit the data we discussed yesterday, showing job growth over comparable periods:

February 2017 to July 2017: 1.07 million jobs

February 2016 to July 2016: 1.24 million jobs.

February 2015 to July 2015: 1.37 million jobs

February 2014 to July 2014: 1.51 million jobs

February 2013 to July 2013: 1.17 million jobs

In fact, you can pick pretty much any six-month period from Barack Obama's second term and find at least a million new jobs -- suggesting the RNC may not fully appreciate the not-so-subtle nuances of the word "unprecedented."

But wait, we can go a little further down this road.

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Trump profits from hotel as GOP social center

Trump profits from hotel as GOP social center

08/07/17 09:26PM

Jonathan O'Connell, reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Joy-Ann Reid about how the Trump International Hotel on Washington, D.C., functions as a social center of political influence for Republican politicians and still makes money for Donald Trump despite the obvious conflict. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 8.7.17

08/07/17 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Fortunately, no one was hurt: "The governor of Minnesota denounced an attack on a mosque the previous day as a 'terrible, dastardly, cowardly' act of terrorism. 'It's an act of terrorism, a criminal act of terrorism,' the governor, Mark Dayton, said on Sunday during a visit to the mosque, Dar Al Farooq, in Bloomington. 'I hope and pray that the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.'"

* Netanyahu: "Israel's Supreme Court ruled Monday that Benjamin Netanyahu must reveal phone call logs with U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and a former editor of his free newspaper in Israel, as police press ahead with investigations into corruption cases involving the prime minister."

* United Nations: "After a month of deliberations and negotiations, the Security Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution that would slash about $1 billion off North Korea's annual foreign revenue."

* The vote wasn't close: "In a test of labor's ability to expand its reach in the South, workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to unionize."

* Mueller's probe: "Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation."

* On a related note: "Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Sunday said he does not expect legislation to shield special counsels from political influence to progress much."

* Trump's pipeline backlog: "Billions of dollars' worth of shovel-ready infrastructure projects have been held up by a bureaucratic morass that President Donald Trump helped to create."

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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stops to speak with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon, May 12, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)

The Republican Party's birther problem isn't limited to the past

08/07/17 04:13PM

In Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) new book, he reflects on many in his party losing sight of their core principles, largely out of cowardice. "We forgot to affirm in a voice loud and clear that yes, we are proud Republicans, but that we believe in country before party," Flake argues. "We forgot to do that. We were afraid to do that."

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, NBC News' Chuck Todd asked the Arizona Republican yesterday if his party and the conservative movement are still afraid. Flake responded:

"Well, I do think that we've seen more people ready to stand up. And I wish that we, as a party, would have stood up, for example, when the birtherism thing was going along.

"A lot of people did stand up, but not enough.... That was particularly ugly."

Asked if he believes he did enough, Flake added, "On that, I think I did."

There are a few ways to look at this. At face value, Flake's correct: much of his party's base embraced a racist conspiracy theory, and many Republican leaders kept their mouths shut, afraid to anger right-wing activists and conservative media. This allowed a toxicity to spread throughout GOP politics, and now Donald Trump, whose sole contribution to American politics was championing that racist conspiracy theory, is the president of the United States.

As for whether Flake did his part to stand up to the garbage, it's probably fair to say his record is mixed.

But just as important is the fact that it's probably a mistake to perceive this as an ugly stain on Republican politics from the Obama era -- because the truth is the problem hasn't disappeared; it's evolved.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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