Rachel Maddow highlights some of the conclusions in a newly released Department of Homeland Security report on the recent White House fence jumper, including the discovery that one Secret Service agent was chatting on his personal cell phone at the time. watch
Terry Mutchler, author of "Under This Beautiful Dome," talks with Rachel Maddow about her secret love affair with prominent Illinois state senator, and mentor to a young Barack Obama, Penny Severns. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the four-count indictment of Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, over knowing violations of federal mine safety standards ahead of an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners. watch
Alan Gomez, USA Today immigration reporter, talks with Rachel Maddow about an expected plan from the White House to protect several million immigrants from deportation as Republicans sputter with rage and immigration activists press for more. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on several remarkable stories developing in the news today, from the space lander to an escaped tiger to new Senate leadership, now including the exceedingly popular Senator Amy Klobuchar whose political fortunes may yet rise higher. watch
In this exclusive clip, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports on the U.S. war against ISIS from the ground in Kobane. His special "Richard Engel Reporting: The Battle Against ISIS" will air on msnbc on Friday November 14 at 9p.m. EST. watch
* Nothing official just yet: "President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation's immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan."
* ISIS: "The release of new audio purportedly from the leader of ISIS is filled with soaring rhetoric, promising 'volcanoes of jihad' and dismissing the United States as 'terrified' and meek. But what is he really saying?"
* Related news: "U.S. military leaders defended the Obama administration's strategy against the Islamic State on Thursday, arguing before skeptical lawmakers that President Obama's plan to put Iraqi forces at the forefront of the fight had achieved some limited battlefield success while laying the groundwork for a larger, long-term campaign against the group."
* Keep a very close eye on this one: "Russia has informed the United States that it is planning to reduce its participation next year in a joint effort to secure nuclear materials on Russian territory, a move that could seriously undermine more than two decades of cooperation aimed at ensuring that nuclear bomb components do not fall into the hands of terrorists or a rogue state."
* Look for more on this on tonight's show: "Don Blankenship, the longtime chief executive of Massey Energy, was indicted today on charges that he violated federal mine safety laws at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine prior to an April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners."
* I still think this is a very bad idea: "For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate."
* Another domino falls: "Kansas has officially become the 33rd state to legalize marriage equality."
* And speaking of Kansas: "Wichita and south-central Kansas were shaken by a sustained and moderate-strength earthquake at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday. The magnitude-4.8 earthquake had its epicenter eight miles south of Conway Springs in Sumner County, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website. The earthquake had a depth of 3.4 miles."
* This strikes me as completely nuts: "In the netherworld of consumer debt, there are zombies: bills that cannot be killed even by declaring personal bankruptcy. Tens of thousands of Americans who went through bankruptcy are still haunted by debts long after -- sometimes as long as a decade after -- federal judges have extinguished the bills in court."
If you missed last night's segment, Rachel noted a point that hasn't gotten quite enough attention: Republicans have had a great election cycle, but their pals in the National Rifle Association did not.
There were precious few silver linings for Democrats in last week's midterms, but a big one has been mostly overlooked. It was a pretty good election, all things considered, for the movement to strengthen gun laws -- a part of the liberal coalition that is supposed to be among the most beleaguered. In fact, the election quietly shifted the dynamic on gun politics in ways that could have a significant impact on coming fights over gun laws and on the 2016 election.
For a variety of reasons -- some real, some imagined -- the political world has come to think of the NRA as an unstoppable political juggernaut. But this year, the group went after Connect Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) with a vengeance, and both won their re-election campaigns anyway.
After two Colorado lawmakers who supported strict new gun-control laws were voted out of office in a special recall election last year, the National Rifle Association and its allies celebrated their huge win in the battle over gun laws in state capitols. But that particular victory did not last.
Even as Coloradans elected a Republican senator for the first time in a dozen years and handed Republicans control of one chamber of the state legislature, voters did an abrupt about-face when it came to the recalls. The two pro-gun Republicans elected during the recalls were handily beaten this month by Democratic candidates -- one of whom once worked for the gun-control group founded by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City.
And in the state of Washington, a measure was on the ballot that would implement background checks for all gun sales in the state. It passed by 18 points.
Part of the problem with the Jonathan Gruber "stupid" story is that it's a shiny object for the political world to stare at for a while. It offers more heat than light. It's a bouncing ball for political insiders to chase after, despite its relative insignificance.
But since it's likely to soon be the subject of congressional hearings, and since your crazy uncle who watches Fox News all day will be talking about nothing else at Thanksgiving, let's grudgingly tackle this week's Most Important Story Of All Time As Agreed Upon By Republicans And The Beltway Media.
Congressional Republicans seized Wednesday on controversial comments made by a former health-care consultant to the Obama administration, with one leading House conservative suggesting that hearings could be called in response as part of the GOP effort to dismantle the law in the next Congress and turn public opinion ahead of the 2016 election.
"We may want to have hearings on this," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an influential voice among GOP hardliners and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in an interview at the Capitol. "We shouldn't be surprised they were misleading us."
In the unlikely event you haven't heard about this, at issue are comments made last year by Jonathan Gruber at a panel discussion.
"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," Gruber said. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."
And it's these words, captured on video, that have sent Republican politics into a frenzy. It's proof, the right insists, that the Affordable Care Act was passed in a fraudulent way, intended to take advantage of the public's "stupidity."
Conservatives are planning congressional hearings to scrutinize Gruber's comments in granular detail. Fox News is obsessed. The right is pushing the Supreme Court to recognize and consider Gruber's comments in the upcoming King v. Burwell case.
And while it's nearly impossible to slow down a snowball of spin while it's still picking up speed, now would be an excellent time for everyone to pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the degree to which this story isn't quite what it appears to be.
Last night on the show, Rachel had a fascinating conversation with Doug Heye, a Republican strategist, a former communications director for the RNC, and a top aide in former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office. The two, not surprisingly, discussed what Americans can expect from the Republican-led Congress.
And while the whole interview is certainly worth your time, there was something Heye said that got me thinking. He was stressing the point that there are worthwhile measures that passed the GOP-led House over the last two years, but they got stuck in the Democratic-led Senate, and those bills may now stand a better chance of success. In fact, Heye offered a specific example.
"[Democrat] Carolyn Maloney had a bill that passed with 383 votes in the House to move forward a National Women's Museum. The House passed that, the Senate won't move it," Heye said. "You would think with everything that we've talked about in the past two years with the war on women, it would be the House Republicans blocking Women's Museum, not Harry Reid stalling that bill."
And that got me wondering about whatever happened to the legislation authorizing the women's museum to be built on or near the National Mall. Did the Democratic Senate Majority Leader really ignore the idea?
Actually, no. The Hill ran this report just last month.
House champions of legislation to jump-start the creation a women's history museum in the nation's capital are upping the pressure on Senate conservatives who are blocking the proposal in the upper chamber.
Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), lead sponsors of the House-passed bill, are urging Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to drop their hold on the proposal in hopes of salvaging the legislation in the waning days of the 113th Congress. [...]
The pair derailed the effort of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to fast-track the legislation via unanimous consent.
So, Harry Reid didn't "stall" the bill, so much as he tried to pass it, only to run into opposition from conservative Republicans.
The New York Daily Newseditorialized in September, "Two Republicans who happen to be men are inexcusably blocking a drive to establish in Washington a National Women's History Museum that would chronicle the achievements of half the nation."
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:
* A striking statistic in Louisiana's U.S. Senate runoff: "Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's re-election race is truly running out of air: She's responsible for a mere 4 percent of all TV spots in the week-old Louisiana runoff. Republican challenger Bill Cassidy and his friends paid for 96 percent of the spots that have run so far."
* In Alaska, Dan Sullivan (R), the presumed winner of the state's U.S. Senate race, flew to D.C. yesterday to participate in the election of the new Senate Republican leadership team. Sen. Mark Begich (D), meanwhile, has not yet conceded.
* And speaking of the new Senate Republican leadership team, though there was some chatter during the campaign season about a shake-up, Mitch McConnell was unanimously chosen by his GOP colleagues as the new Senate Majority Leader. The rest of the leadership team -- John Cornyn, John Thune, and John Barrasso -- will also remain intact.
* In Arizona's unresolved U.S. House race, Martha McSally (R) declared victory last night over Rep. Ron Barber (D), but the race is headed for a recount and Barber has not conceded the contest.
* Though he's previously suggested he would retire at the end of his term, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this week that he's "absolutely" leaning towards running for a sixth term in 2016.
One of the interesting things about congressional leadership posts is that they're basically the result of tradition. There's only one leadership position mandated by the Constitution -- the Speaker of the House -- and every other post in both chambers was effectively invented by the parties themselves.
And as such, the parties can make up new leadership offices whenever it suits their fancy.
After the 2010 midterms, for example, House Democrats lost their majority and discovered they had more leaders than leadership positions. It was a game of musical chairs and someone was going to be left standing.
So, Dems simply added a chair, creating a brand new position just for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who transitioned from "House Majority Whip" to "Assistant Democratic Leader."
Four years later, Senate Democrats have lost their majority and are putting together their leadership team. None of the top four Dems -- Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) -- lost this year, and all four want to keep their positions, only now in the minority.
But they also want to add Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to the leadership team. What to do? Amanda Terkel and Ryan Grim report that they, like House Dems four years ago, are creating a new position.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gained a leadership position in the Senate Democratic caucus Thursday, giving the prominent progressive senator a key role in shaping the party's policy priorities.
Warren's new role, which was created specifically for her, will be a strategic policy adviser, helping to craft the party's policy positions and priorities. She will also serve as a liaison to progressive groups to ensure they have a voice in leadership meetings and discussions, according to a source familiar with the role.
It's not yet clear what the post will be called, exactly, but at Senate Democratic leadership meetings, the Massachusetts senator will literally have a seat at the table.