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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 8.12.15

08/12/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Texas: "The Arlington, Texas, police recruit who fatally shot an unarmed college football player during a break-in at a car dealership early Friday has been fired, the police chief said Tuesday. Christian Taylor, 19, was fatally shot by Arlington Police Officer Brad Miller, 49, after police were called to a break-in report at the Classic Buick GMC dealership at around 1:06 a.m."
 
* Missouri: "Amid concerns of renewed unrest on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., police said Wednesday that no one was arrested during Tuesday night's protests. Still, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announced Wednesday afternoon that he was extending the state of emergency he had declared two days earlier."
 
* China: "With the Chinese renminbi now taking its biggest plunge in decades, the worry is that the country's already slowing economy is even worse off and the government is panicking."
 
* A rough prognosis: "Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that his recent liver surgery has uncovered cancer in other parts of his body." In a statement, the 90-year-old Georgian said, "Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body. I will be re-arranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare. A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week."
 
* A presidential letter to the editor: "In a heartfelt op-ed published on Wednesday, President Barack Obama urged Americans to fight for the equality that has slowly eroded since the Voting Rights Act was written into law 50 years ago. 'Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislature must make it easier -- not harder -- for more Americans to have their voices heard,' the president wrote in a letter to the editor for The New York Times Magazine."
 
* Imagine that: "Just 14 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job, according to a new Gallup survey released Wednesday, and they do not seem all that enamored with Republican leaders in the House and Senate, either."
Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena, Aug. 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Christie no longer sure about birthright citizenship

08/12/15 04:08PM

Republican primaries can do funny things to politicians. It wasn't too long ago that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), for example, supported comprehensive immigration and boasted about his support from Garden State's Latino community.
 
Now that the Republican governor is running for president, he opposes the bipartisan reform package -- "This path to citizenship stuff is garbage," Christie said last week -- and has no qualms about pandering to the anti-immigration elements in the Republican base.
 
Just how far is the New Jersey Republican prepared to go down this path? ThinkProgress flagged an interesting Christie quote from this morning.
In a radio appearance on Wednesday, conservative host Laura Ingraham asked Christie for his opinion on birthright citizenship, a topic he does not seem to have specifically addressed before. In response, Christie said he believed the policy may be outdated.
 
"I think all this stuff needs to be reexamined in light of the current circumstances," he said. "[Birthright citizenship] may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that."
I can't vouch for the exact wording -- I didn't hear the interview myself -- but if Christie seriously believes birthright citizenship is ripe for a "reexamination," he's adopting a needlessly radical position, especially for someone who tried to be mainstream on the issue up until fairly recently.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina May 9, 2015. (Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters)

Cruz accidentally gives away the game

08/12/15 12:57PM

Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) new campaign ad targets Planned Parenthood, which wouldn't be especially noteworthy were it not for the far-right senator's specific pitch.
 
As msnbc's Emma Margolin reported yesterday, Cruz also intends to "prosecute" the health care organization over fetal-tissue research.
"For a century, Americans have helped heal and care for millions in need. Our values propelled extraordinary innovation. America made the world better," states a narrator in the 30-second spot. "So how did America become a country that harvests organs from unborn children? And who has the courage to stop it?"
 
"Ted Cruz will prosecute and defund Planned Parenthood," the narrator continues. "Help Cruz restore American values."
The most glaring problem with the commercial is the contradiction Cruz and his team failed to notice. The ad opens with images of Polio victims while the narrator touts America's history of helping "heal and care for millions." It's a nice, accurate message, except for the fact that fetal-tissue research used "fetal kidney cells to create the first poliovirus vaccines, which are now estimated to save 550,000 lives worldwide every year."
 
In other words, in an ad attacking fetal-tissue research, Cruz highlighted children who were rescued by fetal-tissue research. Not to put too fine a point on this, but perhaps the Republican's campaign team should have given this a little more thought.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 8.12.15

08/12/15 12:02PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
 
* Though nearly all recent polling shows Hillary Clinton leading in New Hampshire's Democratic primary, a new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll shows Bernie Sanders moving past the frontrunner, 44% to 37%. The poll included Vice President Biden, who's third with 9%.
 
* The same poll also found Donald Trump leading in the Republican primary with 18% support, followed by Jeb Bush at 13%, John Kasich with 12%, and Ted Cruz at 10%. No other candidate reached double digits, though Carly Fiorina's 9% came close.
 
* In Iowa, the latest Suffolk poll shows Trump leading the GOP field with 17%, followed by Walker's 12%, and Marco Rubio's 10%. No other candidate reached double digits, though Ben Carson's 9% came close.
 
* Of the 17 Republican presidential candidates, 16 have been invited to participate in one of CNN's two debates next month. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, deemed to have support below 1%, was excluded.
 
* The day after Scott Walker encouraged voters to visit the non-existent "issues" page on his website, the Democratic-aligned American Bridge took the liberty of creating a page for him.
 
* Ted Cruz got a boost in Mississippi yesterday, campaigning alongside right-wing state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who narrowly lost a run-off Senate primary last year against Thad Cochran.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, S.C., May 9, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)

Walker offers taxpayer money for new Milwaukee arena

08/12/15 11:27AM

Following up on our earlier coverage, sports fans are probably familiar with a familiar dynamic: a local franchise wants an expensive new facility; it wants taxpayers to pick up the tab; and the team's owners have made clear that without a new home, they'll abandon the community and move the team elsewhere.
 
That's exactly what's happening in Wisconsin, where the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks not only want out of the Bradley Center, which opened way back in 1988, and also want a new half-billion-dollar arena.
 
That left Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) with a decision to make, though it apparently wasn't an especially tough call for him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today that the Republican governor left the presidential campaign trail to seal an expensive deal.
Gov. Scott Walker signed the Milwaukee Bucks arena funding bill Wednesday morning at the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park. [...]
 
He's repeatedly cited the income taxes Wisconsin would lose if the team leaves the state, and he said it was about protecting the state's taxpayers.
In fairness, this isn't a situation in which Walker simply signed a massive check and handed it over to the Bucks' owners. The price tag will be spread out over several years, and some of the money will include the sale of public land.

But that doesn't change the fact that the far-right governor, who claims to be a fiscal conservative and who's repeatedly slashed public investments in niceties such as education, made a significant financial commitment on behalf of taxpayers. All told, Wisconsin residents will pony up between $400 million and $450 million for this new venue.
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Military leaders side with Obama on Iran deal

08/12/15 11:00AM

Several years ago, when Republicans threatened to use the debt ceiling to crash the American economy on purpose, the New York Times' David Brooks argued that Republicans were no longer "a normal party," in part because they "do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities." Even if "impartial experts" give GOP lawmakers credible guidance, "members of this movement refuse to believe it."
 
Four years later, scholars and intellectual authorities have taken an interest in the international nuclear agreement with Iran, and they tend to support the White House's position. The Washington Post published this piece late yesterday:
Three dozen retired generals and admirals Tuesday released an open letter supporting the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same.
 
Calling the agreement "the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," the letter said that gaining international support for military action against Iran, should that ever become necessary, "would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance."
The signatories include "retired general and flag officers from every branch of service," including four four-star generals.
 
Of particular interest, the retired military leaders explained yesterday, "If at some point it becomes necessary to consider military action against Iran, gathering sufficient international support for such an effort would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance. We must exhaust diplomatic options before moving to military ones." It's an under-appreciated point.
 
Their letter came on the heels of a similar endorsement of the Iran deal from 29 of the nation's top scientists -- including "Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms and former White House science advisers."
 
And that letter followed an endorsement of the agreement from dozens of former national security officials from previous U.S. administrations.
 
And that letter followed an endorsement of the deal from more than 100 former American ambassadors from previous U.S. administrations.
Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at her first campaign rally at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in N.Y. on June 13, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)

When the shoe was on the other foot

08/12/15 10:30AM

The story surrounding Hillary Clinton's emails can get a little confusing, and some of the mistaken reporting from major news outlets hasn't helped. But officials are still in the process of examining how the State Department handled sensitive information.
 
With that in mind, the Washington Post reports that Clinton will "provide the FBI with the private server" she used for email during her tenure as secretary of state, as well as the thumb drive with emails Clinton already provided to the State Department.
 
There's still nothing to suggest the Democratic presidential hopeful actually did anything wrong, but the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is suspicious. "Democrats, ask yourself this," Cillizza said this morning on Twitter. "If this was a former [Republican Secretary of State] and his/her private e-mail server, would it be a 'non-story'?"
 
As a rule, I think that's a smart way for political observers to look at every story. If the situations were reversed, how would you react to a controversy?
 
The problem in this case is that Cillizza isn't necessarily pointing to a hypothetical. Politico published this report in March: "Like Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a personal email account during his tenure at the State Department, an aide confirmed in a statement.'
 
MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald added at the time:
Colin Powell, George W. Bush's first secretary of state, wrote in his memoir about how outdated technology infrastructure at the State Department led him to install a personal laptop in his office to use a personal email account to "shoo[t] emails to my principal assistants, to individual ambassadors, and increasingly to my foreign-minister colleagues."
 
Powell, who served from 2001-2005, apparently did not keep a record of personal emails, unlike Clinton.
As best as I can tell, no one ever cared about the Republican secretary of state using a personal email account. It was, to borrow a phrase, a non-story.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on a nuclear deal with Iran at American University in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 5, 2015 (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters).

Pundits: Obama's too mean to Iran deal critics

08/12/15 09:43AM

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, to her credit, supports the international nuclear agreement with Iran. In her new column, however, she criticizes President Obama anyway, not over the substance of his foreign policy, but for not being nice enough to the diplomatic deal's opponents.
Obama once understood, even celebrated, this gray zone of difficult policy choices. He was a man who took pains to recognize and validate the legitimate concerns of those on the opposite side of nearly any complex debate.
 
The new Obama, hardened and embittered -- the one on display in his American University speech last week and in the follow-up spate of interviews -- has close to zero tolerance for those who reach contrary conclusions.
In fairness to the columnist, Marcus goes on to make substantive suggestions about how best to argue in support of the deal, and she concedes "Obama's exasperation is understandable." Her broader point seems to be that she wants to see the deal presented in the most effective way possible, but Marcus nevertheless chides the president for his tone and unwillingness to "accommodate" his foes.
 
She's not alone. After the president noted that the American right and the Iranian hardliners find themselves on the same side of this fight, other pundits, including National Journal's Ron Fournier, raised related concerns about Obama being harsh.
 
That's a shame -- there are constructive ways to look at the debate over U.S. policy towards Iran, but hand-wringing over presidential tone seems misplaced.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich Announces Candidacy For President (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty).

Kasich gains traction in key GOP contest

08/12/15 08:40AM

The first hint that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) might be in a competitive position in New Hampshire came just a few days after he kicked off his presidential campaign. An NBC/Marist poll showed the Republican governor in fourth place, trailing only Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Donald Trump.
 
It wasn't an aberration. Soon after, a Monmouth poll showed Kasich tied for third place. This week, two statewide polls show the Ohioan reaching double digits in the Granite State, and the Real Clear Politics rankings show Kasich running third in New Hampshire, inching past Walker.
 
Yesterday, as the Washington Post reported, the news for Kasich in the first primary state got just a little better.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed Thomas D. Rath, a longtime fixture in New Hampshire Republican politics, to lead his Republican presidential campaign efforts in the first-in-the-nation primary state, Kasich's campaign announced late Tuesday.
 
Rath, a party elder and former state attorney general who has served as a senior adviser to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and Bob Dole, will become Kasich's New Hampshire campaign co-chairman and senior national adviser.
This is the sort of development that should make Jeb Bush a little nervous. Rath is hardly a household name outside of New Hampshire, but in the state, he's a quintessential Republican insider, helping represent the state's GOP establishment.
 
He is, in other words, exactly the sort of guy who's supposed to gravitate to the former governor of Florida. And yet, Rath is now a member of Team Kasich.
 
Remember, for much of 2015, Jeb Bush represented a certain political archetype: in the massive GOP field, Bush played the role of responsible grown-up. Everyone knew exactly what to expect from him: he was the twice-elected governor of a key swing state, with broad backing from his party's establishment, who would generally steer clear of the race's more ridiculous antics.
 
The trouble, of course, is that Kasich is the exact same kind of candidate, with the same background, appealing to the same intra-party constituencies.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. on Aug. 11, 2015. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/AP)

Jeb Bush sees disaster in Iraq, blames Obama and Clinton

08/12/15 08:01AM

The lead sentence in Politico's report on Jeb Bush last night read, " Does Jeb Bush really want to refight the Iraq War?" It's best not to rush past the question too quickly.
 
The Republican presidential hopeful's brother launched one of the most disastrous wars in American history. The 2016 candidate hopeful then surrounded himself with his brother's team of failed foreign-policy advisers -- and described his brother as his adviser on U.S. policy in the Middle East.
 
One of Jeb Bush's most cringe-worthy failures as a candidate was trying to answer a simple question about Iraq -- he gave four competing answers over the course of four days -- and at last week's debate, the former governor still seemed wholly unprepared to discuss the issue.
 
It's against this backdrop that Jeb Bush decided to pick a fight -- over developments in a country his brother invaded under false pretenses and then failed in every possible way to manage responsibly. The New York Times reported:
The war in Iraq, which dominated American presidential politics in 2004 and 2008, has returned as an issue in 2016. This time, the argument is not over whether the United States should have gone to war, but rather how the Obama administration sought to end it.
 
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor seeking the Republican presidential nomination, issued a blistering attack on Tuesday on the Obama administration's handling of Iraq and terrorism issues, asserting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, had "stood by" as secretary of state as the situation in Iraq deteriorated.
Obama and Clinton, Bush insisted last night, "stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces [in Iraq] was thrown away."
 
His brother caused an international catastrophe, and the former governor is outraged by the way in which the Obama administration cleaned up his brother's mess. That's the Jeb Bush message in 2016 in a nutshell.

Clinton to turn over email server and other headlines

08/12/15 07:57AM

Hillary Clinton to turn over her email server to the Justice Department. (AP)

Poll: Sanders ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire. (Boston Herald)

Pres. Obama writes a letter to the editor about the Voting Rights Act. (NY Times Magazine)

Big GOP donors still believe in Chris Christie. (National Journal)

Chuck Schumer working the phones on Iran. (Politico)

Texas police officer who killed Christian Taylor is fired. (NBC News)

Shell Oil CEO talks to the BBC about drilling in the Arctic. (BBC)

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Citations for the August 11, 2015 TRMS

08/12/15 12:12AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Katy Tur, NBC News Correspondent
  • Richard Winger, publisher and editor of Ballot Access News
  • Beth Fouhy, MSNBC senior editor
  • Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a professor at New York University School of Law

Tonight's links:

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