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Citations for the March 25, 2015

03/26/15 12:17AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Jim Tilmon, former pilot and aviation industry expert
  • Jim Hall, former chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board
  • Claudio Lavanga, NBC News reporter
  • Craig Whitlock, Pentagon reporter for The Washington Post

Tonight's links:

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Downed drones reveal points of US interest

Downed drones reveal points of US interest

03/25/15 09:46PM

Craig Whitlock, Pentagon reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the increasing U.S. reliance on drones, the alarming rate at which drones crash, and what drone crashes reveal about where the U.S. is focusing its attention. watch

NYT: Plane crash pilot locked out of cockpit

NYT: Plane crash pilot locked out of cockpit

03/25/15 08:59PM

Rachel Maddow reports breaking news of a report from the New York Times that a source tells them that the cockpit voice recorder indicates that one pilot was locked out of the cockpit when a Germanwings plane crashed in the French Alps. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 3.25.15

03/25/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Nigeria: "Hundreds of civilians, including many children, have been abducted and are being used as human shields by Boko Haram extremists, a top Nigerian official confirmed Wednesday."
 
* Yemen: "Yemeni fighters and army units allied with the Houthi movement closed in on the last redoubt of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen on Wednesday amid news reports that he had fled by boat across the Gulf of Aden, possibly to the tiny African nation of Djibouti."
 
* Iraq: "The U.S.-led military coalition has begun airstrikes in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, officials said Wednesday, drawing the United States further into an operation dominated by Iranian-backed militiamen."
 
* A big day at the Supreme Court, Part I: "Peggy Young, the UPS driver who was forced to leave her job when she got pregnant because she says the company wouldn't assign her light duty, will have another day in court, as Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito joined with the Democratic appointees to craft what Young's attorney called a 'big win, not just for pregnant women, but also for all women in the workplace.'"
 
* A big day at the Supreme Court, Part II: "A divided Supreme Court on Wednesday said a lower court must take another look at whether Alabama's Republican-led legislature relied too heavily on race when it redrew the state's voting districts in a way that black leaders say limited minority voting power.
 
* President Obama's ACA victory lap: "'We have been promised a lot of things these past five years: Death panels, doom, a serious alternative,' Obama said, noting that none of those things materialized and pointing to the Republican's inability to draft successful legislation to replace the ACA."
 
* Bergdahl: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was rescued from Taliban captivity last spring after being held hostage in Afghanistan for five years, was formally charged with desertion, Col. Daniel J. W. King, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Forces Command, said in a news conference Wednesday."

'My music taste changed on 9/11'

03/25/15 05:06PM

Presidential candidates tend to field all kinds of semi-personal questions on the campaign trail, which are usually intended to help the public get to know White House hopefuls beyond just policy priorities and positions.
 
So when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the only major Republican candidate to officially kick off a candidacy, was asked this week what kind of music he likes, most expected a pretty generic response. Adam Howard noted late yesterday, however, that the far-right senator took the opportunity to offer an unexpected response.
Politicians and pundits often say "9/11 changed everything." In Sen. Ted Cruz's case, it apparently even meant a change in his taste in music.
 
The Texas Republican, who announced Monday he would seek the GOP nomination for president in 2016, told the hosts of "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday that the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon turned him into a modern-day version of the John Lithgow character from "Footloose."
As the senator explained, "I grew up listening to classic rock, and I'll tell you sort of an odd story: My music taste changed on 9/11. I actually intellectually find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded."
 
Cruz added, "Country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me. I had an emotional reaction that said, 'These are my people. So ever since 2001 I listen to country music."
 
Somewhere, Rudy Giuliani was no doubt watching and saying to himself, "I should have thought of that."
 
And while I don't doubt Cruz's sincerity -- if he says the political/social  reaction to the terrorist attacks among entertainers actually changed his musical preferences, that's certainly his business -- his response did get me thinking.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney listens as his wife Lynne Cheney speaks about her book "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered" on May 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty)

Cheney helps House Republicans cash in

03/25/15 04:20PM

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which focuses on electing Republicans to the U.S. House, originally asked Mitt Romney to headline its March fundraising event -- the committee's biggest fundraiser of the year. For whatever reason, the failed presidential hopeful declined.
 
And so, the NRCC moved on to its second choice: former Vice President Dick Cheney. The fallback plan seems to have worked out quite well.
The National Republican Congressional Committee brought in $17.5 million at its annual fundraising dinner featuring former Vice President Cheney, an NRCC source tells The Hill.
 
That take is larger than the election-year total NRCC brought in when it had former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a headliner last year.
Last year, of course, was an election year. At the NRCC's big event in 2014, the party raised $15 million to help elect House Republican candidates, and the fundraiser was considered a big success.
 
This year isn't an election year; the NRCC was stuck with a failed and unpopular V.P. as the headliner; and the party raised more than $17 million.
 
The Hill's report added, "The total shows the controversial former vice president is still a big draw in GOP circles." Yes, apparently so.
 
But it's also a reminder about why Republican officials continue to embrace Cheney as a national party leader, his catastrophic failures in office notwithstanding.
Voting stickers are seen at the Ohio Union during the U.S. presidential election at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio November 6, 2012.

New battles take shape in the 'war on voting'

03/25/15 03:44PM

In recent years, Republican efforts to curtail voting rights have led to the largest voter-suppression campaign since the Jim Crow era, but there are some states pushing back against the tide. Oregon recently took creative new steps to expand voter registration, and policymakers in California yesterday said they're eager to follow suit. Vermont may soon do the same.
 
But in Republican-controlled "red" states, policies intended to prevent voter participation continue to proliferate. The Columbus Dispatch reports on the latest out of Ohio.
Dismissing Democrats' cries of voter suppression, majority legislative Republicans are poised to require those who register to vote in Ohio to also obtain state driver's licenses and vehicle registrations. [...]
 
Democrats tried to remove the provision, saying it constitutes a "poll tax" on out-of-state college students, who would have to spend $75 or more on license and registration fees within 30 days of registering to vote.
As the Dispatch article notes, current law in Ohio allows students, among others, to claim Ohio residency and vote while retaining out-of-state drivers' licenses. This change -- a "last-minute addition" to Ohio's transportation budget -- may force tens of thousands of young people to pay a fair amount of money to cast a ballot in the state they call home.
 
Republican proponents say the idea isn't related to blocking students' access to the polls. These are the same policymakers who, in recent years, have curtailed voter registration,  made it harder for voters to receive absentee ballots, cut back early-voting opportunities, and scrapped Sunday voting altogether.
 
Perhaps it's just a coincidence, then, that GOP state lawmakers have also imposed a new hurdle on young adults who, it so happens, tend to vote Democratic.

White House supports Boehner/Pelosi 'doc fix' plan

03/25/15 12:56PM

With President Obama expressing support for the idea this morning, it's probably time to get up to speed on what may be House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) first real legislative accomplishment since getting the gavel in 2011.
President Barack Obama pronounced himself "ready to sign" a bipartisan "doc fix" Wednesday.
 
"I've got my pen ready to sign a good, bipartisan bill," Obama said at an event that amounted to a victory lap for the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
 
He said he loves to sign bipartisan legislation and hopes to see more efforts to work together, and said the health care law works, crediting it with saving lives while reducing health care cost growth and the deficit.
I suspect there are more than a few folks asking, "What's the 'doc fix'?" This gets a little wonky, but it's pretty important in health care circles, and given the way the solution came together recently, it's a breakthrough that's worth understanding.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 3.25.15

03/25/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
 
* In his first day as an announced Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised $500,000. That's a decent haul, though it won't strike fear in the heart of Jeb Bush.
 
* In Florida, the latest PPP survey found that only 37% of voters statewide believe former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) should run for president. Sen. Marco Rubio (R) fares slightly worse among his constituents, 35% of whom want the senator to run for the White House.
 
* In Indiana, where Sen. Dan Coats (R) is retiring, his likely successors are wasting no time. Five Republicans from the U.S. House, Coats' state-based chief of staff, and the Speaker of the Indiana state House have all expressed interest in running.
 
* On a related note, among Democratic Hoosiers, former Rep. Baron Hill is clearly interested, though former Sen. Evan Bayh is the one most of the state is keeping an eye on.
 
* In Michigan, Rep. Dan Benishek (R) promised voters he'd stick to a self-imposed term limit of three terms. As is often the case, the congressman, recently elected for the third time, announced yesterday he's changed his mind and will run for a fourth term.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on Feb. 26, 2015.

Christie adopts a new posture on guns

03/25/15 11:13AM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke with Republican donors over the weekend in South Florida, urging them to be wary of presidential hopefuls who've flip-flopped on important issues.
 
Keep that in mind when considering the latest report on the unannounced presidential hopeful (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
Gov. Chris Christie said he would consider revisiting New Jersey's strict gun laws if he had a Republican-led legislature.
 
In response to a question about his support for the Second Amendment, the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate said that New Jersey's Democrat-led Legislature has sent him only bills that further restrict these rights, many of which he has vetoed.
Asked about the Second Amendment at a town-hall meeting yesterday, the governor told voters, "Send me a Republican legislature. And with a Republican legislature you'll have a governor who will respect, appropriately, the rights of law-abiding citizens to be able to protect ourselves.... No rights are given to you by government. All our rights are given to you by God."
 
The theological reference was a bit odd under the circumstances. Even if Christie genuinely believes the Second Amendment creates a God-given entitlement to firearm ownership, it's up to policymakers -- humans, in positions of governmental authority -- to shape and place limits on this right.
 
In fact, the Garden State governor used to know that. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Christie used to say he supports "strictly enforcing" New Jersey's existing gun-control laws -- policies the governor now seems ready to roll back with the help of GOP lawmakers.
 
What's more, this isn't the first time Christie has played political games with gun-safety measures.
Attendees look at a display of ammunition during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the NRA's 3-day annual meeting that...

GOP senator looks to 'protect popular ammunition'

03/25/15 10:40AM

It's been nearly three decades since President Reagan signed into law a gun-safety measure intended to restrict "cop killer" bullets. But under the law, some ammunition, including armor-piercing "green tip" bullets, was exempted because they were "primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes."
 
As we recently discussed, the argument at the time was pretty straightforward: these bullets couldn't be used in handguns, so there was no point in keeping them out of the hands of hunters.
 
But firearm technology has improved and there are now handguns that can fire these bullets. It led the Obama administration's ATF to take a fresh look at the 1986 exemption. Is it time to adapt federal regulations to improve public safety, most notably for law-enforcement officials?
 
Apparently not -- in the face of an overwhelming public response from gun enthusiasts, ATF scrapped the idea and left the ammunition alone. One Senate Republican has said that's not good enough.
A budget amendment offered Tuesday by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from placing new restrictions on bullets that are popular with hunters.
The far-right Oklahoman said his proposal is intended to "protect popular ammunition."
 
Remember, at this point, it doesn't appear as if "popular ammunition" needs much protection. Officials considered restrictions on "cop killer" bullets, but then backed off. It'll probably be a while before anyone even considers a similar effort to protect law enforcement from armor-piercing ammo.
 
But Inhofe's making this a priority anyway, just in case.
An employee at a money changer counts $100 bills.

Lifestyles of the rich and disgruntled

03/25/15 10:00AM

Politically engaged millionaires have developed certain expectations in recent years. Especially at the start of a presidential nominating race, when candidates routinely cultivate relationships with prospective donors, the wealthy donor class has come to believe it's entitled to personalized attention from those seeking national office.
 
The Washington Post reports today, however, that many of these millionaires are suddenly feeling neglected. Apparently, they're not quite rich enough anymore to warrant candidates' time.
At this point in the 2012 presidential race, Terry Neese was in hot demand. "Gosh, I was hearing from everyone and meeting with everyone," said Neese, an Oklahoma City entrepreneur and former "Ranger" for President George W. Bush who raised more than $1 million for his reelection.
 
This year, no potential White House contender has called -- not even Bush's brother, Jeb. The only e-mails came from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.
"Staffers"? Politically engaged millionaires have been reduced to hearing from aides rather than the candidates themselves? The horror.
 
Evidently, in this new environment, with a proliferation of hyper-wealthy donors, mere millionaires don't receive the consideration and responsiveness to which they've grown accustomed. Neese told the Post that the major Republican presidential hopefuls are "only going to people who are multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires."
 
One former Bush Ranger complained, "What about when I get to the convention? Last time, I was sitting in a box. This time, I may not even get a ticket!"
 
And just think: even if he or she gets a ticket to the Republican National Convention, the former Bush Ranger may have to sit with the riff raff.

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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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