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Links for the June 19, 2015 TRMS

06/20/15 01:48AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Trymaine Lee, MSNBC national reporter
  • South Carolina State Senator Vincent Sheheen
  • Tarek Ismail, former counterterrorism and human rights fellow at Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute

Tonight's links:

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Many see terrorism in church shooting

Many see terrorism in church shooting

06/19/15 09:43PM

Tarek Ismail, former Columbia Law Counterterrorism fellow, talks with Steve Kornacki about what defines an act of terror and how that definition fits the murderous shooting attack on a prayer group in Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel AME Church. watch

Friday's Mini-Report, 6.19.15

06/19/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Gut-wrenching: "Relatives of some of the people gunned down at a historic black church in Charleston faced the accused shooter in an emotionally wrenching court hearing Friday -- and told him they forgive him."
 
* He confessed: "Dylann Storm Roof appeared in court for the first time Friday afternoon and was charged with murder shortly after confessing to the shooting massacre that left nine people dead at an historic black church here."
 
* He's right: "President Obama believes the Confederate flag 'belongs in a museum,' the White House said Friday amid calls for it to be taken down, following a mass shooting in South Carolina."
 
* Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today of the Confederate flag, "It works here, that's what the Statehouse agreed to do." Works for whom?
 
* A temporary evacuation: "A major gathering of conservative political activists where multiple Republican presidential candidates spoke was interrupted Friday after an apparent threat was made against the conference."
 
* Have I mentioned lately how dangerous bank runs are? "Desperate Greeks expressed fears for their future Friday as more than $1.1 billion was withdrawn from banks in a single day, pushing the country closer towards a default."
 
* Fuel efficiency matters: "The Obama administration on Friday announced plans to tighten fuel-economy standards for heavy trucks, buses and vans, taking aim at a transportation sector that contributes a quarter of the greenhouse-gas pollution emitted by U.S. vehicles each year."
 
* Syria: "The global chemical weapons watchdog says that waste created on board a U.S. ship that destroyed toxic chemicals from Syria's stockpile has been successfully disposed of."
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy

Fake quotes run rampant among GOP candidates

06/19/15 05:01PM

The first hint of trouble came about a month ago, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told supporters that "Thomas Jefferson said it best" when the Founding Father said, "That government is best which governs least."
 
Thomas Jefferson never said this. Walker fell for a fake quote.
 
Soon after, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told an audience, "Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about 'restraining the government not the people.'" In reality, Patrick Henry said no such thing.
 
Soon, the examples really started piling up. Ben Carson pushed a bogus quote from Alexis de Tocqueville and another bogus quote from Thomas Jefferson. Then this week, BuzzFeed lowered the boom.
Many of the quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers in two of Rand Paul's books are either fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context, BuzzFeed News has found. [...]
 
A heavy theme in Paul's books is that the tea party movement is the intellectual heir to the Founding Fathers, with Paul often arguing he knows what position our country's earliest leaders would have had on certain issues.
That latter point, I'd argue, helps explain why so many Republicans end up using -- or in this case, misusing -- quotes from Founding Fathers that simply don't exist.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters after announcing that he will run for president in 2016 June 4, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty)

After S.C. 'accident,' Perry downplays gun issue

06/19/15 04:37PM

About a year ago, following a mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California, Joni Ernst was asked whether it was appropriate for her to air TV campaign ads in which she pointed a gun directly at the camera. The right-wing Iowan, who went on to win her U.S. Senate race, replied, "I would not - no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad."
 
It's true that the murders happened after the ad, but to call the killing spree an "accident" seemed like a poor choice of words.
 
Today, the word came up again, this time in reference to the massacre in Charleston. Right Wing Watch highlighted Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry's remarks to Newsmax this morning:
[The former Texas governor] said that the president is trying to "take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country."
 
"This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this -- the president is clear, he doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message," Perry said.
Reality tells a very different story. First, President Obama has never even suggested Americans shouldn't own firearms. There remains an important difference between safeguards that are consistent with the Second Amendment and a knee-jerk assumption that any and all safety measures are attempts to "take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country."
 
And second, I can think of a lot of words to describe the mass shooting in South Carolina, but "an accident" isn't a phrase that comes to mind. {Update: see below.]
Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Jeb Bush doesn't know Charleston shooter's motive

06/19/15 03:05PM

For much of the right, word choice in the wake of deadly violence is everything. Whether and how quickly a public official uses the word "terrorism," for example, is often considered a test of leadership, if not moral clarity. Republicans have spent the last several years insisting use of the phrase "Islamic terrorism" is practically a national security strategy unto itself.
 
With this in mind, it was of interest to see this Huffington Post report on Jeb Bush's awkward choice of words in response to the massacre in Charleston.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Friday that he isn't sure what motivated a young white man to walk into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night and kill nine people.
 
"I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes," the former Florida governor said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference.
It's a difficult perspective to understand. Obviously, the details of the case are still coming into focus, but based on literally everything we know, there's no ambiguity as to what was on Dylann Storm Roof's mind on Wednesday night. These murders were the result of racism. It's not an open question. No one should be confused by this obvious detail.
 
A woman claiming to be the cousin of one of the victims said she spoke with a survivor who said that the shooter "reloaded five different times ... and he just said, 'I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go.'"
 
Pressed on whether the shootings were because of race, the Republican presidential candidate nevertheless added this morning, "I don't know. Looks like to me it was, but we'll find out all the information. It's clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is."
 
Why not simply acknowledge what is so plainly true?
MaddowBlog World Cup Corner Episode 5

MaddowBlog World Cup Corner Episode 5

06/19/15 01:52PM

Lucas Vazquez and Kasey O'Brien, TRMS World Cup Correspondents and hard-working interns, recap the U.S. game against Nigeria, and preview their first knockout game. (Photos in this episode: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) watch

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Budget office tells Republicans what they don't want to hear

06/19/15 12:51PM

After several dozen pointless repeal votes, congressional Republicans haven't exactly been subtle about their intentions towards the Affordable Care Act. In fact, with a major Supreme Court case pending, GOP lawmakers are once again considering new plans to try to "repeal Obamacare" all over again.
 
But everyone involved in the debate should be clear about the consequences. The effects on millions of families would obviously be brutal, but CNBC reports today on the fiscal impact on the nation.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would over the next decade "probably increase budget deficits with or without considering the effects of macroeconomic feedback."
 
Depending on those economic considerations, the federal deficit could increase up to $353 billion over the next 10 years as a result of a repeal of Obamacare, the CBO said.
The part about the "with or without considering the effects of macroeconomic feedback" is interesting because it gets at the root of Republican rhetoric. To hear GOP lawmakers tell it, the evidence may suggest that repeal would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but this fails to take into consideration the economic boom that the right believes would occur after Republicans tear down the existing American health care system.
 
This defies common sense -- 2014 was the first full year for ACA implementation and it was the best year for American job creation since the '90s -- but the Congressional Budget Office concluded it defies budget arithmetic, too, whether officials rely on actual math or the kind of math conservatives prefer.
 
The same CBO report, available online here, found that if Republicans succeeded in scrapping the law, 19 million Americans would join the ranks of the uninsured by 2016. The total would grow by several million in the years that follow soon after.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.19.15

06/19/15 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:
 
* Asked this week whether he would campaign alongside his brother, Jeb Bush replied, "I don't know. I don't know, we just started. But -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm-- you know, I'm George's brother, I love him. I know for me to be successful, this has to be about my ideas and about my life experience and about the future."
 
* We're still several weeks from Scott Walker's official campaign kickoff, but he has created a  "testing the waters" committee that allows him to legally raise money for his eventual presidential bid.
 
* Hillary Clinton told Jon Ralston yesterday that if she were a senator, she'd vote against the current fast-track trade bill, but she didn't take a firm stand on the larger trade agenda.
 
* The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Jeb Bush narrowly leading the Republicans' presidential field in his adopted home state of Florida with 20%, just ahead of fellow Floridian Marco Rubio's 18%. No other candidate reached double digits.
 
* In Ohio, Quinnipiac also shows Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the clear choice among Buckeye State Republicans with 19% support, 10 points ahead of Jeb Bush's 9%.
 
* In Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac's poll has what is effectively a four-way tie, with Rubio leading with 12%, followed by Rand Paul at 11%, and Jeb Bush and Ben Carson tied for third with 10% each.
 
* The latest Republican presidential hopeful to get caught in a plagiarism controversy is Mike Huckabee, whose columns from his tenure as Arkansas governor are now under scrutiny.
Jeb Bush, Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign stop outside a residence in Washington, Ia., June 17, 2015. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty)

Jeb Bush demonstrates the opposite of economic wonkery

06/19/15 11:20AM

At his formal presidential campaign kickoff this week in Miami, Jeb Bush pointed to a rather specific economic target. "There is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of four percent a year," the Florida Republican said. "And that will be my goal as president -- four percent growth, and the 19 million new jobs that come with it."
 
In reality, there are all kinds of reasons why GDP growth of 4% per year is unrealistic -- reasons Bush is supposed to understand. Indeed, in the modern era, how many presidents have averaged 4 percent growth over the course of their terms? Zero. Not Clinton, not Reagan, not Obama, no one.
 
But the real fun kicks in when we consider how, exactly, Jeb Bush arrived at his 4% target. When Reuters asked for an explanation, the Republican responded, "It's a nice round number. It's double the growth that we are growing at. It's not just an aspiration. It's doable."
 
Except, it's not doable at all. Matt Yglesias flagged this piece, noting that Bush apparently chose his goal randomly, "backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind."
That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute's executive director.
 
"Even if we don't make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5," said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, "we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, 'four percent growth.' It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea."
That's a great use of the word "laconic," by the way. There was no detailed economic discussion, no number crunching, no projections based on hours of pouring over spreadsheets. Bush just blurted it out, convinced that four is a round number.
Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference on May 21, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

The problems of a peripatetic politician

06/19/15 10:42AM

Up until quite recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) spent very little time outside the United States. He took a trade trip to China and Japan two years ago, but the Republican governor has otherwise spent the vast majority of his time in his home state.
 
But as Walker's presidential campaign moves forward, all of a sudden, he's racking up quite a few frequent-flier miles. That wouldn't be especially noteworthy, were it not for two important issues.
 
First, Wisconsin policymakers are currently busy trying to deal with the governor's right-wing budget plan, and it's not going especially well. Walker might be able to help the process along, except he keeps leaving the country.
 
Which leads us to the second problem: as the Washington Post reported, Walker is having taxpayers pick up the tab for his travels.
Now a potential GOP contender with a lack of foreign policy expertise, Walker in recent months booked three taxpayer-funded trips in quick succession: four days in Britain in early February, a week in Germany, France and Spain in April, and now [this week's] journey to Canada.
 
The visit to Britain cost taxpayers $138,200, according to Walker's office. He has yet to release costs for the other trips.
Even if nothing were going on in Madison, it's problematic for a governor to ask taxpayers to help boost his resume in advance of a presidential campaign. But the fact that Walker keeps taking trips to foreign soil in the middle of an intense budget standoff isn't exactly improving his reputation in Wisconsin. From an AP report this week:
The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington, Feb. 17, 2012.

GOP votes to make 'Obamacare' more expensive

06/19/15 10:03AM

Ask House Republicans about their priorities, and they'll talk about lowering the deficit. Ask them why they hate the Affordable Care Act, and they'll say it costs too much.
 
All of which led to yesterday, when House Republicans voted to make the deficit larger and raise the price tag on "Obamacare."
 
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) complained that the ACA's price tag is "skyrocketing." That, of course, is the exact opposite of the truth -- the cost of the law has fallen five times in five years. But the complaint itself is ironic given how eager congressional Republicans are to make the law cost more on purpose. USA Today reported on a little-noticed House vote yesterday:
The House on Thursday easily backed repeal of a tax on the medical device industry. But President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, which would add more than $24 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
 
With not all House members voting Thursday, that chamber's 280-140 vote fell one vote shy of a veto-proof majority to repeal the tax, which helps pay for the expansion of health insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
How would Republicans pay for the tax cut? They wouldn't -- the GOP plan is to just add the costs to the deficit they sometimes pretend to care about.
 
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has identified this as one of his top priorities for the year.
 
Republicans not only want to make the ACA more expensive and increase the deficit; they consider this important.

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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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