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E.g., 11/23/2014
E.g., 11/23/2014
While the Senate debates the bipartisan budget plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual Wastebook which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending,  Dec. 17, 2013.

GOP senator warns of 'anarchy' and 'violence'

11/20/14 09:05AM

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared on msnbc yesterday, and when host Alex Wagner asked what kind of advice he'd give his party's leaders in Congress, Steele offered some sound advice. "The first would be, 'Get a grip,'" he said.
 
Steele's comments came to mind after reading this report published last night by USA Today.
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warns there could be not only a political firestorm but acts of civil disobedience and even violence in reaction to President Obama's executive order on immigration Thursday.
 
"The country's going to go nuts, because they're going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it's going to be a very serious situation," Coburn said on Capital Download. "You're going to see -- hopefully not -- but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence."
The far-right senator went on to say, "Here's how people think: Well, if the law doesn't apply to the president ... then why should it apply to me?"
 
It's hard to know what to make of such an odd perspective. If Coburn is correct, why weren't there similar outbursts of anarchy and violence when Presidents Reagan and Bush took very similar executive actions? If the masses are so deeply concerned about separation of powers and the often-ambiguous lines surrounding executive authority, wouldn't we have seen instances of pandemonium before?
 
As a practical matter, I'm not even sure how this would work. The Obama administration has limited resources, so it appears likely to prioritize deportations for criminals who entered the country illegally. So, in Coburn's vision, anti-immigrant activists will become violent, perhaps literally rioting in the street, until more unobtrusive families are broken up?

Jobless claims level off, remain below threshold

11/20/14 08:36AM

The good news is, initial unemployment claims improved a little in the newly released figures. The bad news is, they were supposed to improve more than this.
The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits totaled fewer than 300,000 for the 10th straight week, reflecting the low level of layoffs in the U.S. economy as growth gradually picks up. Initial jobless claims fell by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 in the week ended Nov. 15, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to total around 280,000. [...]
 
Over the past month, meanwhile, the average of new claims rose by 1,750 to 287,500. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly data and is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor-market trends.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it's worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it's best not to read too much significance into any one report.
 
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it's considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. At this point, we've been 300,000 in each of the last 10 weeks -- the first time we've seen that in the United States since the Clinton era.
Residents of the Park Slope section of the borough Brooklyn vote in the 2014 U.S. midterm elections in on Nov. 4, 2014 in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA)

NBC poll: Public attitudes clear as mud

11/20/14 08:00AM

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll offers the first national snapshot of Americans' attitudes in the wake of the 2014 midterms, and those hoping to gain clarity from the data are likely to be disappointed.
 
There's no shortage of interesting results, but for me, the most striking figures were on the public's top policy priorities. From Mark Murray's report:
The NBC/WSJ poll also lists several actions the next Congress might take beginning in 2015. From most popular to least popular:
 
* 82 percent support Congress providing access to lower the costs of student loans;
* 75 percent support increasing spending on infrastructure, roads and highways;
* 65 percent support Congress raising the minimum wage;
* 60 percent support approving emergency funding to deal with Ebola in West Africa;
* 59 percent support addressing climate change by limiting carbon emissions
So, the top five most popular policy ideas in the nation are Democratic proposals. To find a popular Republican priority, we have to go the sixth item on the list -- 54% support the Keystone XL pipeline -- which is far behind center-left priorities.
 
And that's where the confusion kicks in. The American mainstream strongly backs the same policy agenda Democrats want, but that same mainstream just elected a Congress that will make it impossible for Americans to get what they say they support.
 
Indeed, the closer one looks at the results, the less rational they appear. As Rachel noted on the show last night, public attitudes on immigration are even more puzzling.

"Instances of anarchy" and other headlines

11/20/14 07:49AM

Gunman killed after opening fire in a college library overnight in Florida. (Tallahassee Democrat) 

Sen. Tom Coburn warns of "instances of anarchy" after immigration order. (USA Today)

Fmr. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb forms an exploratory committee to run for President. (Politico)

More Montana counties to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses today after judge tosses out ban. (AP)

Nurses urge leniency over refusal to force-feed at Guantanamo. (NY Times)

Buffalo, NY faces another wintry wallop. (AP)

Director Mike Nichols has died. (Washington Post)

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Neo-Nazis undermined by table-turning tactics

Neo-Nazis undermined by table-turning tactics

11/19/14 09:55PM

Rachel Maddow reports on tactics used by an anti-neo-Nazi group in Germany to undermine the neo-Nazi movement, including co-opting a Nazi parade with an anti-Nazi walkathon fundraiser and a pro-Nazi t-shirt that changes its message when washed. watch

Ahead on the 11/19/14 Maddow show

11/19/14 06:53PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Rep. Ben Luján, (D) New Mexico, DCCC Chair
  • Cristina Jiménez, co-founder and Managing Director of United We Dream

And here's executive producer Cory Gnazzo with an outline of what's coming: 

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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 11.19.14

11/19/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* The stage is set: "The president will lay out the details of his unilateral actions during a prime-time address Thursday evening in a pitch to an American public weary from years of failed attempts to overhaul the immigration system amid a deeply-divided Congress. After that, the president will hit the road Friday, traveling to the Las Vegas high school where he first made his push form immigration reform nearly two years ago."
 
* Israel: "As Israelis and Palestinians grappled Wednesday with the new-old reality of spiraling violence, Israeli security forces revived a controversial antiterrorism policy, demolishing the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian man who plowed his car into pedestrians last month, killing a baby and a young woman."
 
* Montana: "District Court Judge Brian Morris on Wednesday ruled that Montana's ban limiting marriage to between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. According to a press release from Montana ACLU, Morris ruled that the amendment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
 
* Secret Service: "A man was arrested near the White House Wednesday afternoon after police searched his car and found a .30-30 rifle, ammunition and a six-inch blade in the vehicle. The man -- identified as 41-year-old R.J. Kapheim of Davenport, Iowa -- approached a uniformed Secret Service officer near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. saying 'someone in Iowa told him to drive to the White House,' NBC News confirms."
 
* Torture report: "Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expects her panel's long-delayed report on the CIA's use of torture to be released before Republicans take over the chamber, signaling to reporters there's one sticking point left." Feinstein added that policymakers are "down to essentially one item in the redaction."
 
* Texas: "A Texas judge refused Tuesday to quash on technicalities two criminal felony indictments for abuse of power against Gov. Rick Perry, ruling that the potentially embarrassing case against the possible 2016 presidential hopeful should proceed. The governor's defense team had sought to have the matter thrown out, arguing that the special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, wasn't properly sworn in and that some paperwork wasn't correctly filed. But a written ruling from District Judge Bert Richardson, who, like Perry, is a Republican, sided with McCrum."
Barricades that were used to close the Martin Luther King Memorial during the government shutdown in Washington, Oct 17, 2013.

Heritage vetoes Republican 'rescission' plan

11/19/14 04:53PM

Traditionally, Congress has remained quite calm after previous presidents took executive actions on immigration policy. This Congress intends to go in a different, more hair-on-fire direction.
 
But which direction, exactly? GOP lawmakers can't fully agree amongst themselves, at least not yet, on whether to shut down the government (again), impeach a Democratic president (again), refuse to govern (again), or generally just throw an elaborate partisan tantrum for a while. Some combination therein remains a distinct possibility.
 
Yesterday, however, Republicans seemed to be warming up to a tactic called "rescission." Long-time readers may recall that the tactic came up a year ago, but Roll Call reported on how it would apply this time around.
A new option emerged on Tuesday: passing an omnibus in December and later, after President Barack Obama issues his executive action on immigration, rescinding funding for the specific federal programs being used to implement the order.
 
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., pitched the idea at a closed-door GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning.... Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a senior GOP appropriator, said under the approach being discussed, Congress would enact a 12-bill omnibus in December and later, in the new Congress when both chambers are controlled by Republicans, pass a separate bill that would rescind funding for certain programs.
The details would obviously need to be worked out, but some GOP lawmakers see this as a way to thread a needle. Instead of a shutdown, Republicans would agree to keep the government's lights on, but the legislation would cut spending, retroactively, for the parts of government President Obama would use to implement his immigration policy.
 
It's hardly a silver bullet -- it's hard to imagine the president signing it into law before Dec. 11 -- but the interesting thing was the reaction from Heritage Action, which helped spearhead the GOP's shutdown drive in 2013.
 
In short, the far-right group said rescission isn't good enough.

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