Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, talks with Rachel Maddow about the favor Planned Parenthood enjoys with Americans because of the health services they provide, and what she sees as an obsession among elected Republicans to end women's reproductive health care. watch
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, talks with Rachel Maddow about the five hours of testimony she gave in Congress today, and explains the facts (surprisingly unfamiliar to many members of Congress) of what Planned Parenthood actually does, how its funding works, and truth about the role of Planned Parenthood in... watch
* Afghanistan: "Afghan forces backed by a U.S. airstrike launched a 'large-scale operation' to rout the Taliban from a key city after militants seized a provincial capital in a stunning setback for the Western-backed government."
* In theory, this doesn't have to be pointless: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner are opening budget negotiations with President Obama. McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that he and Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke to Obama last week and expect to sit down more officially with the administration 'soon.'"
* My MSNBC colleague Irin Carmon showed extraordinary patience -- and perseverance -- by attending the entire House Oversight Committee hearing today. She reported on what she saw.
* That was quick: "A sudden swell of enthusiasm for Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to make a late-entry bid into the race for House majority leader faded almost as quickly as it began."
* Georgia: "Despite an 11th-hour appeal from Pope Francis, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has rejected a clemency bid by Kelly Gissendaner, the mother of three scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening for her role in her husband's 1997 murder."
* Worth watching: "Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. shares fell the most in four years after Democrats in the U.S. House asked to subpoena the company for documents relating to drug price increases, the latest move by politicians seeking to curb price hikes on drugs."
* A narrower case moves forward: "A federal judge overseeing the corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and a Florida ophthalmologist on Monday dismissed some bribery charges, though allowed most to stand."
* Keep an eye on this one: "The House Ethics Committee has extended its review of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) and his congressional office over allegations by a former staffer of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment."
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who'll be on tonight's show, no doubt expected a contentious hearing today when she appeared before the House Oversight Committee. But what she probably didn't expect is what Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) had in store for their exchange.
As the accompanying video shows, the Utah Republican put a chart on display, purporting to show that over the last decade, the number of prevention services provided by the health care group has steadily declined, while the number of abortions has steadily increased.
Part of the problem, as MSNBC's Zack Roth reported, is that the information in the chart is misleading [Update: this is what the chart would have looked like if it were honest]. But nearly as important is the fact the congressman presenting the image as devastating evidence simply didn't know what he was talking about.
When Richards said she’d never seen it before, Chaffetz replied: “It comes straight from your annual reports.”
Moments later, Richards shot back: “My lawyers just informed me that the source of this information is Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group. I would check your source.”
The Utah Republican lectured the Planned Parenthood chief, certain that the misleading image had come from Planned Parenthood materials. It apparently didn't occur to Chaffetz to actually look at the darned thing -- it literally says, "Source: Americans United for Life," in all capital letters, on the chart he was so excited about.
The GOP lawmaker thought he'd use this "proof" to embarrass Planned Parenthood, but it was Chaffetz who looked ridiculous.
Of course, this was just part of a long, multi-part hearing. Perhaps other Republican members of the Oversight Committee were better prepared?
A week ago, the House Republicans' four-member leadership team was in place and secure. This week, the dynamic can fairly be characterized as chaotic.
The New York Times, among other news organizations, highlighted the "Draft Gowdy" movement that came together quickly among House Republicans overnight.
House conservatives, fearful that the post-John A. Boehner era of leadership may look more like a modestly renovated old house than a newly built one, have begun to cast about for one of their own to join the upper ranks: the head of the committee that has been ripping into Hillary Rodham Clinton for well over a year.
While Representative Kevin McCarthy of California appears to have the momentum to become the next speaker of the House, the race for his current job, majority leader, has been thrown into a bit of chaos, with the only female candidate for the post withdrawing from consideration and an incipient grass-roots effort emerging to persuade Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who has been leading the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email account as secretary of state, to step into the race.
Gowdy was tasked with examining the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, but his panel has since evolved into a taxpayer-funded anti-Clinton operation -- which has led to widespread praise for the South Carolinian among his GOP colleagues.
Indeed, there was quite a bit of chatter overnight that some House Republicans actually hoped to persuade Gowdy to run for Speaker of the House, though as the morning progressed, it seemed more likely that he'll compete for House Majority Leader.
Gowdy has not yet officially announced whether he'll pursue any position in the GOP leadership, though some of his closest allies are now pushing his unannounced candidacy with great vigor.
Of course, Gowdy's plans aren't the only source of intrigue. With an old adage, "You can't tell the players without a scorecard," in mind, let's take stock of how the post-Boehner landscape is taking shape.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Ben Carson publicly addressed the idea of running outside the Republican Party yesterday, telling a radio host, “If I had to, I would, but I don’t think it’s necessary." When the host pressed further, asking whether he'd run as an independent if he failed to win the GOP nomination, Carson replied, “No, I didn’t say that at all. That’s not what I’m saying. I have no intention of running an outside campaign. Zero.”
* Hillary Clinton's new TV ad shines a light on her prescription-drug plan, but pay particular attention to its reference to Turing Pharmaceuticals' controversial CEO, Martin Shkreli.
* Clinton also went after Jeb Bush yesterday, slamming the Republican's "free stuff" remarks last week as "deeply insulting."
* For his part, as was noted on last night's show, Team Jeb is starting to invest heavily in TV ad time in early nominating states, "setting aside $4.6 million in New Hampshire alone. The campaign was also placing $1 million in ads in Iowa and $2.2 million in South Carolina."
* Despite the controversy surrounding his extramarital affair North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley (R) said he planned to run for governor next year. Yesterday, he changed his mind, and withdrew from consideration.
* CNN made a point of letting Vice President Biden know that if he chooses to run for president, he will qualify for the upcoming debate for Democratic candidates. That event is just two weeks from tonight.
Over the summer, Republican policymakers crafted a plan they were very excited about. Taking advantage of highly edited, controversial videos, GOP officials would create a Planned Parenthood "scandal," tear down the health care organization's reputation, strip its public funding, and launch investigations to uncover Planned Parenthood wrongdoing.
Republicans were quite confident the whole gambit would be awesome.
Adding insult to injury, the latest NBC News poll shows public support for Planned Parenthood going up, not down, over the summer -- to the point that the group is now far more popular than both of the major political parties. Other recent polling has offered similar results.
It's against this backdrop that the Washington Post's Dave Weigel reports that GOP lawmakers are more than a little frustrated.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was perplexed. Two long months had passed since the Center for Medical Progress started releasing undercover videos in which current and former Planned Parenthood employees described the grim economics of fetal tissue harvesting. Since then, a long congressional recess had come and gone and Republican-run states had redoubled their efforts to defund the family planning titan. Yet in the most recent poll from Reuters/Ipsos, 54 percent of voters still favored federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
"Those numbers are news to me," said King. "I haven’t paid any attention to the polls. But am I surprised? Yes."
Weigel added, "Republican messaging has been impeccable.... Yet the numbers haven't moved."
If they have moved, the numbers have shifted slightly in Planned Parenthood's favor.
The good news for Carly Fiorina's Republican presidential campaign is that it's largely where she and her supporters want it to be. Polls show her as a top-tier contender, and with that backing comes more attention, more fundraising, and more endorsements.
The bad news for Fiorina is that with top-tier status comes top-tier scrutiny -- and for a candidate who's never won an election or held public office, having the spotlight can bring trouble.
The GOP candidate's stubborn insistence that fiction is fact has already caused her campaign some headaches. Yesterday, a new problem emerged when Fiorina sat down with Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff.
Positioning herself as a steely advocate of aggressive counterterrorism programs, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina offered a vigorous defense of CIA waterboarding as a tactic that helped “keep our nation safe” in the aftermath of 9/11.
“I believe that all of the evidence is very clear -- that waterboarding was used in a very small handful of cases [and] was supervised by medical personnel in every one of those cases,” Fiorina told Yahoo News. “And I also believe that waterboarding was used when there was no other way to get information that was necessary.”
She added that she's aware of the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee, several years in the making, which found that waterboarding was as brutal as it was ineffective, but Fiorina dismissed the bipartisan findings as "disingenuous."
In other words, as is the case in Fiorina's other controversy, she's aware of what the facts are, but she prefers her version of reality to everyone else's.
As recently as May, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) looked like a fairly competitive presidential candidate. He was a top-tier contender in nearly all national polls, some of which the senator actually led. In June, Paul's average national support was still in double digits -- a status most of the Republican field has never claimed.
The summer, however, was less than kind to the Kentucky lawmaker, and Paul's support has slowly evaporated. The latest NBC poll found him in eighth place with just 3% support, and that was one of his better showings. The latest Fox News poll showed Paul in 10th place with 2%, while the latest Quinnipiac results pointed to Paul at just 1% -- tied with George Pataki, who's barely trying.
And it's against this backdrop, as he makes the transition from contender to afterthought, that Rand Paul has decided to "turn his attention to fundraising for his Senate reelection efforts."
Paul, who is running for president and reelection to the Senate simultaneously, will attend fundraisers for his Senate campaign on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, D.C., according to invitations for the events obtained by The Hill.
One Republican operative with close ties to Kentucky politics warned against reading too much into Paul’s Senate fundraisers, saying it’s not a sign that Paul is giving up on running for president, but rather a necessity of running for two offices at once.
House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) unexpected retirement announcement shook up Capitol Hill in an extraordinary way last week, but there's still some housekeeping to do. In fact, current funding for the federal government expires tomorrow, and though a shutdown now appears unlikely, the Republican-led Congress must pass a stop-gap spending bill before the deadline.
The Senate took a key step last night in that direction, advancing a temporary measure -- a "continuing resolution," or "CR" -- on a 77 to 19 vote. All 19 were conservative Republicans, though most GOP senators sided with their leadership and backed the bipartisan solution.
The Senate will move to final approval of the bill today, leaving the House about a day and a half to pass the same measure. Boehner knows that many of his members oppose the bipartisan package, but he's moving forward anyway, relying on Democratic votes to prevent a shutdown.
But as the process unfolds, let's not overlook just how entertaining last night's developments on the Senate floor were. As Politicoreported, it's reached the point at which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) "can’t even get a protest vote in the Senate anymore."
On Monday night, Cruz’s colleagues ignored his attempt to disrupt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to fund the government without attacking Planned Parenthood. In an unusual rebuke, even fellow Republicans denied him a “sufficient second” that would have allowed him a roll call vote.
Then, his Republican colleagues loudly bellowed “no” when Cruz sought a voice vote, a second repudiation that showed how little support Cruz has....
Not long after the right-wing Texan reached Capitol Hill, one thing became clear: most of the Senate's members found it hard to respect Ted Cruz. But last night, it also became clear that even Republicans just don't like the guy.
I'm reluctant to get too deep into the weeds of Senate procedure, but under normal circumstances, if a member requests a roll call vote, even on an amendment, those requests are honored just as a matter of course. Last night, however, Senate Republicans simply shut down Cruz's requests, swatting him away like an annoying fly.
In theory, there's no such thing as Democratic science or Republican science. The very idea is simply unnecessary -- objective truths that can withstand rigorous testing and analysis should be embraced, politics be damned.
With this in mind, there was nothing partisan or ideological about the “strongest evidence yet” of salty liquid water flowing on modern-day Mars. It was an exciting breakthrough, made possible by American scientists and researchers, taking advantage of cutting-edge tools developed right here in the United States. This could, in theory, be a point of national pride.
And yet, there was Rush Limbaugh yesterday, telling his audience that the news is somehow connected to some kind of liberal agenda. Politicoreported:
The conservative radio talk show host addressed NASA’s announcement on Monday that it had found evidence of flowing water on present-day Mars, and — spoiler alert — he doesn’t believe it.
“OK so there's flowing water on Mars. Yip yip yip yahoo. Hey, you know me, I'm science 101, big time guy, tech advance it, you know it, I'm all in. But, NASA has been corrupted by the current regime,” Limbaugh said on his show, according to Media Matters. “Don't know how long it's going to take, but this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda.”
When the host refers to the "current regime," Limbaugh's argument is that President Obama and his administration have "corrupted" NASA scientists. As proof of this corruption, Limbaugh pointed to, well, nothing.
In fact, the Republican media personality conceded he has no idea why "the leftist agenda" would manufacture this Mars report, though Limbaugh assumes it is has "something to do with global warming.”
It's worth emphasizing, in case anyone's confused, when the reality-based community refers to the planetary crisis of climate change, we're referring to our planet, not some other planet.
It's understandable that campaign watchers are keeping a close eye on the 2016 cycle, especially with two competitive presidential nominating races heating up. But let's not forget that in the foreground, 2015 is an election year, too, at least in some states.
In just over a month, voters in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi will vote in gubernatorial elections, and though each of these are widely seen as Southern "red" states, the contests aren't exactly going Republicans' way.
Take Kentucky, for example, where the Lexington Herald-Leader published some surprising news late yesterday.
The Republican Governors Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin with a little more than a month to go in Kentucky's competitive governor's race. [...]
The move is a big blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad of his own after spending more than $1 million of his personal fortune to win a four-way Republican primary in May. And it comes one week after [Kentucky's Democratic state Attorney General, Jack Conway] began airing a series of TV ads titled "In his own words" that splice together clips of Bevin contradicting himself on issues including education, agriculture, taxes and health care.
Whenever Conway aired a new ad over the summer, the RGA would usually respond. But not this time.
An RGA spokesperson told the Associated Press that the move is normal given "multiple governor's races" the group has to plan for. That's very hard to believe -- there are only three gubernatorial elections this year, and Mississippi's isn't competitive and requires no party spending.
Indeed, what's striking about developments like these is the degree to which they can't be spun. For the party, either the investment is there or it's not. Republican officials are either confident of success or they're quietly expecting failure.
In some cases, sure, a party pulls its spending because the preferred candidate is up by such a large margin, victory is assured, but given what we know, the only reason the Republican Governors Association would pull back on its Kentucky investments is that the party doesn't want to throw good money after bad.
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.