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File Photo: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File)

GOP governor relieved to have embraced 'Obamacare'

02/25/15 10:01AM

There's no shortage of high-profile Republicans gearing up for the 2016 presidential race, but there's one name that probably should be in the mix, but isn't.
 
Imagine a popular Republican governor, easily elected twice in a battleground state President Obama won twice. Imagine he's Hispanic, young, won re-election last year by a ridiculous 46 points, and has seen his state's unemployment rate drop quickly in recent years.
 
I'm referring to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who seems like an almost-perfect presidential candidate for his party, but who hasn't even considered testing the White House waters.
 
To understand why, consider Sandoval's perspective on the pending Supreme Court case that may gut the Affordable Care Act.
"I made a decision early on that we would be a state-based exchange because I felt it was in Nevadans' best interest to run their own," Sandoval said, even boasting that twice as many Nevadans enrolled this year over the first round. "I'm just pleased," he added, "that we don't have the anxiety of the outcome King v. Burwell."
At first blush, this may not seem striking at all -- a governor embraced a sensible policy that helped his constituents have access to basic medical care. It's the sort of thing most Americans might expect every well-intentioned governor to do as a matter of course.
 
But in political terms, we're talking about a Republican governor who embraced the dreaded "Obamacare" -- including Medicaid expansion -- and is "pleased" he implemented the Affordable Care Act in a way that may help protect his state from his party's Supreme Court justices. 
 Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) delivers a speech on Oct. 6, 2014.

Another real solution to a fake problem

02/25/15 09:20AM

About a month ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) impressed far-right activists by shining a spotlight on a problem that doesn't exist: "no-go zones" in Europe where, in his mind, Muslim populations are so large and intimidating, non-Muslims, even local law enforcement, are too afraid to visit. Soon after, the Republican governor said these imaginary "no-go zones" may soon appear in the United States.
 
All of this was quite silly, as Jindal probably realized. But it appears some have decided to take the nonsense seriously.
A Republican Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill this month that would ask the state attorney general to report any existing "no-go zones" and work to eliminate them, The Tennessean reported.
 
State Rep. Susan Lynn's bill does not specifically mention Muslims, but may allude to the non-existent Muslim "no-go zones" referenced on Fox News and by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) following the January terrorist attacks in Paris.
 
The legislation defines a "no-go zone" as a "a contiguous geographical area consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area."
The Republican state lawmaker has no evidence of any "no-go zones," but she told The Tennessean that there "some people who claim that there are some areas of Tennessee where they feel this is happening."
 
And evidently, if "some people" believe in an imaginary problem, it's time for elected officials to start approving public policies to address these imaginary problems. By this reasoning, legislation related to Bigfoot will also be necessary.
 
In the larger context, the funny thing about efforts like these is just how common they are.
In this June 3, 2013, file photo, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, works in committee during the final day of the 77th Legislative session at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev. (Photo by Cathleen Allison/AP)

GOP lawmaker sees cancer as a 'fungus'

02/25/15 08:40AM

The relationship between Republicans and modern science has become strained lately. In recent months, we've seen GOP officials -- including senators, governors, and presidential candidates -- balk at climate science, contraception, vaccinations, post-bathroom hand-washing, and even evolutionary biology.
 
This week is becoming especially egregious on this front. We were introduced to a Republican state lawmaker in Idaho who seemed quite confused about women's anatomy, and Jon Ralston added a new addition to the collection yesterday, highlighting the latest from Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R), who has a proposal to change existing rules on end-of-life care.
Fiore, who operates a home health care business that sometimes passes payroll taxes onto the IRS, said she knew of friends who left the country to find end-of-life treatments that are not FDA-approved. And then the payoff:
 
"If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus," she began, citing a widely debunked theory that the American Cancer Society warns about, "and we can put a pic line into your body and we're flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate [I think she means bicarbonate], through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective."
I see.

Putting aside the fact that cancer is not a "fungus," it's incidents like these that remind me why it's wise to separate politicians from scientific and medical decision making as often as humanly possible. In recent years, When it comes to the process of deciding which medical treatments are covered by Medicare, for example, or which medicines receive FDA approval, there are safeguards in place that empower actual experts to draw evidence-based conclusions.

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore is offering a timely reminder that these safeguards must never change.
John Boehner, R-OH, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make their way to the lectern to deliver statements, May 24, 2011 at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

Israel's Netanyahu rebuffs Senate Dems

02/25/15 08:00AM

At the invitation of House Republicans, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still scheduled to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress next week, despite the international controversy. It will be the first time a foreign leader is invited to deliver a joint-session speech in order to criticize and undermine American foreign policy.
 
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), hoping to ease tensions, invited the prime minister to visit privately with Democratic senators next week. Yesterday, Netanyahu responded in writing: No..
"Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic senators, I believe that doing so could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit. I would, of course, be glad to address a bipartisan forum of senators behind closed doors on a future visit, as I have been privileged to do many times in the past," Netanyahu wrote to the two senators in a letter dated Jan. 24, an apparent error.
Durbin, the Senate Minority Whip, said the Democratic invitation was intended to "balance the politically divisive invitation" from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Democratic leader added that Netanyahu's "refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades."
 
It's important to emphasize that the Israeli leader's argument isn't factually wrong -- he has scheduled no private meetings with congressional Republicans next week, so Netanyahu can plausibly claim it might appear "partisan" to huddle with Democrats exclusively.
 
It's the broader context that points to trouble.

Train crash mystery and other headlines

02/25/15 07:30AM

Feds: truck driver in train crash wasn't stuck on the tracks. (AP)

Fervor builds as FCC net-neutrality vote looms. (USA Today)

Mitch McConnell backs Rand Paul's bid to run for both Senate and White House. (Wall Street Journal)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not win reelection outright; race heads to a runoff. (Chicago Tribune)

Pres. Obama nominates first ambassador to Somalia since 1991. (AP)

Why the insanity defense failed in the "American Sniper" trial. (Washington Post)

Nevada lawmaker thinks cancer is a fungus. (Ralston Reports)

Debate crops up over Oklahoma's state vegetable, the watermelon. (Wall Street Journal)

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Debunktion Junction: O'Reilly threats edition

Debunktion Junction: O'Reilly threats edition

02/24/15 11:21PM

Rachel Maddow sorts fact from fiction in several of the day's top stories, including whether Fox News' Bill O'Reilly really threatened a reporter doing a story about his lies, and the surprising legal status of sledding on Capitol Hill. watch

Iraq war lessons guide congressman veteran

Iraq war lessons inform war veteran congressman

02/24/15 09:36PM

Congressman Seth Moulton, veteran of the Iraq war, talks with Rachel Maddow about his recent trip to Iraq, his impressions of progress in the war on ISIS, and his concerns about authorization of military force against ISIS. watch

War experience lies worse than regular lying

War experience lies worse than regular lying

02/24/15 09:28PM

Rachel Maddow reviews some cases of high profile figures embellishing (or inventing) their military or combat experience, and contrasts that with the humility of Congressman Seth Moulton who downplayed his war heroism as a Marine during his campaign. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 2.24.15

02/24/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Will the House GOP be responsible? "Senate Republicans offered a new proposal Tuesday to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security this weekend, but it faced an uncertain future after Democrats demanded assurances that the House would support it."
 
* Syria: "Three missing London schoolgirls believed to have traveled to Turkey as part of an attempt to join ISIS forces have likely reached Syria, British police said Tuesday."
 
* He's right: "Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Russia has repeatedly lied to him about its activities in Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting national forces."
 
* And speaking of Kerry: "Secretary of State John Kerry defended Tuesday the Obama administration's nuclear negotiations with Iran, saying the U.S. policy is to prevent the Iranians from getting atomic weapons."
 
* Greece: "Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday approved Greece's plan meant to ease the hardships created by its international bailout, extending that loan program by four more months."
 
* The choice for the court is between success and chaos: "The Obamacare chief told Congress on Tuesday that the Obama administration has 'no plans' that would mitigate the damage of a potential Supreme Court decision invalidating health insurance subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange."
 
* Florida: "The federal civil rights investigation into the 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin will wrap up with no charges filed, the Justice Department announced Tuesday."
Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, grants press interviews after holding a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Penn. on April 22, 2012.

Ron Paul connects war, black lawmakers, and food stamps

02/24/15 04:53PM

Right about now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) probably wishes his father kept a much lower profile.
Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the father of potential presidential candidate Rand Paul and a former presidential candidate himself, said the Congressional Black Caucus does not support war because they want that money for food stamps.
 
"I was always annoyed with it in Congress because we had an anti-war unofficial group, a few libertarian Republicans and generally the Black Caucus and others did not -- they are really against war because they want all of that money to go to food stamps for people here," Ron Paul told Lew Rockwell in early February during a discussion on sanctions.
I saw some paraphrases of this online, and I assumed the former congressman's comment couldn't have been quite as ridiculous as the tweets suggested. My assumption was wrong -- Paul really did argue Congressional Black Caucus members oppose war because they want money for food stamps.
 
As BuzzFeed report noted, Paul went on to complain that CBC members who were part of the unofficial "anti-war group" also disappointed him by supporting sanctions against countries like Iran. "They wanted to look tough," he said.
 
Obviously, the notion that Congressional Black Caucus members were only skeptical of wars because of food stamps is racially charged and ridiculous. It'd be an offensive comment from anyone, but the fact that it's coming from a longtime congressman and former presidential candidate only adds insult to injury.
 
And, of course, Ron Paul isn't just some random former lawmaker running around the country saying dumb things and appearing at fringe events. He's also Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) father.
President Barack Obama signs a presidential memorandum in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 15, 2015. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

Begun the veto era has

02/24/15 03:51PM

President Obama repeatedly told Congress not to waste its time passing legislation on the Keystone XL oil pipeline -- if they did, he'd veto it. Lawmakers would be better off investing their energies in bills that could become law.
 
The Republican-led House and Senate, evidently eager to help the economy in Alberta, Canada, ignored the warnings and passed their proposal. This afternoon, the president kept his word, issuing the following message to lawmakers:
"I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the 'Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.' Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.
 
"The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto."
Republicans are, predictably, outraged by the outcome they knew all along would happen, calling the veto "political." It's not -- this has always been more of a policy fight than a political food fight.
 
But more important is the degree to which this veto very likely marks the beginning of a new era for Obama's presidency.

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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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