Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register, talks with Rachel Maddow about the week's flubs by supposed Republican frontrunner, Jeb Bush, including a disastrous set of answers on Iraq and reports that he will skip Iowa entirely. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the guilty plea by Duke Energy to nine criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act, vindicating Riverkeeper activists who caught the North Carolina company in the act of illegal polluting. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on how Russian military aggression has motivated new military spending in Sweden, prompting a peace group there to come up with their own solution to deter potential Russian submarines that may come to lurk off their coast. watch
* The latest out of Philadelphia: "The engineer at the helm of the Amtrak train that barreled toward a stretch of track at speeds double the limit is now at the center of scrutiny for the crash that has killed eight people and injured hundreds more along the busiest stretch of railway in North America."
* All passengers have been accounted for: "'All individuals who we believe were on that train have now been accounted for,' Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia said at a Thursday news conference."
* The victory over fast-track was short-lived: "The Senate on Thursday approved a procedural vote on a key trade bill favored by the White House and strongly opposed by some Democrats. The lopsided 65-33 vote to cut off debate came just days after the Senate rejected a similar procedural vote."
* Not helpful: "[As President Obama] gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain."
* Problems like these aren't going away: "A man has been detained for flying a drone near the White House, law enforcement officials tell NBC News."
* That didn't take long: "John Diehl on Thursday said he will resign as speaker of the Missouri House this week in the wake of a story published by The Star barely 24 hours earlier about texts replete with sexual innuendo between him and a college freshman in a Capitol internship."
* This was probably inevitable: "A Georgia private school fired its principal after a racially charged remark made at commencement made national headlines."
"If you knew in 2003 what we know now, would you have launched the war in Iraq?" Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) gave three very different answers to that question in three days, none of which made sense.
Today, as msnbc's Kasie Hunt reported, was Answer #4.
After days of equivocation, Jeb Bush on Thursday declared: "Knowing what we know now, what would we have done, I would not have engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq." [...]
"That's not to say that the world isn't safer because Saddam Hussein is gone. The world is safer," Bush said. He went on to say it also didn't mean the sacrifices of troops who died in Iraq, and their families, were not wasted; he explained his difficulty answering the question as concern for military service members who fought in the war.
This should, in theory, end the excruciating political test that the Republican presidential hopeful was failing miserably. Indeed, if Jeb Bush had answered the question this way with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, there would have been no controversy.
He knew the question was coming, and he had literally years to prepare a good answer, but the Florida Republican flubbed this badly anyway.
It became clear yesterday that congressional Republicans came up with one talking point in response to the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia: "human error."
The point, of course, is obvious. If the Amtrak 188 tragedy was the result of a person making a mistake, then there's no need for federal policymakers to act, there's no need for Congress to make additional investments in infrastructure, and there's no need for Republicans to be embarrassed by slashing Amtrak's budget just hours after the accident.
This morning, as National Journalnoted, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn't hold back on this point.
Boehner downright dismissed claims that underfunding for the rail system was responsible for the derailment in Philadelphia that killed at least seven people and injured 200 on Tuesday night.
"Are you really gonna ask such a stupid question?" Boehner said during his Thursday morning press conference when a reporter began to ask about Democratic concerns that Amtrak was underfunded because of Republicans. "They started this yesterday: 'It's all about funding. It's all about funding.' Well, obviously it is not about funding. The train was going twice the speed limit."
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sounded a similar note on Fox News this morning, dismissing those who want to increase "the size of government programs," all in response to an accident he said was "human error."
The congressman added that he hopes "people won't seize on political opportunities out of tragedies like this" to spend more money.
When it comes to the war in Iraq, Jeb Bush fielded a question this week he must have known was coming, and which he's had literally years to prepare for: if you knew in 2003 what we know now, would you have launched the war in Iraq? Responding to the question, the former Florida governor has come up with three bad answers over the course of three days.
Just as striking is the degree to which Bush finds himself isolated, without anyone rallying to his defense. Indeed, many leading GOP candidates have been eager in recent days to make clear that they wouldn't have launched the disastrous war, given what they now know. Even Marco Rubio has no use for Bush's line, as evidenced by this exchange yesterday with Charlie Rose:
ROSE: Let me talk about Iraq and an issue that came up yesterday with Jeb Bush talking about the invasion, looking back. He was asked the question by Megyn Kelly and he said he misunderstood the question. So I`ll ask you the question that I think she intended to ask which was if you look at the Iraq war, after finding out there were no weapons of mass destruction, would you, if you knew that, have been in favor of the Iraqi invasion?
RUBIO: Well, not only would I not have been in favor of it. President Bush would not have been in favor of it.
What's wrong with this position? Actually, nothing. It's a perfectly sensible answer that puts the Florida senator in line with the American mainstream.
The trouble is, Rubio said pretty much the opposite just six weeks ago.
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:
* Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) announced this morning that he's on the comeback trail and he's ready for a rematch against Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in Wisconsin next year. About an hour later, the DSCC endorsed Feingold, clearly hoping to ensure he has no primary challenger.
* In the latest national PPP survey, Scott Walker leads the Republican presidential field with 18% support, followed by Marco Rubio at 13%. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are tied for third with 12%, followed by Jeb Bush in fifth place with 11%.
* In presidential announcement news, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton (R) is expected to announce his 2016 plans any minute now. We also learned this morning that former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will kick off his presidential bid on May 30 and former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) will announce his intentions on May 28.
* Jeb Bush accidentally said yesterday he's "running for president," but since he hasn't officially launched his campaign, the former governor quickly had to walk that back.
* Marco Rubio has apparently added another billionaire to his list of supporters, with Oracle founder Larry Ellison agreeing to host a fundraiser for the far-right Florida senator.
* A new Bluegrass Poll shows Rand Paul leading the Republican presidential field in his adopted home state of Kentucky, but in a hypothetical general-election matchup, the same survey showed Paul tied with Hillary Clinton, with each getting 45% of the vote. That's hard to believe, of course, though it's worth noting Bill Clinton carried Kentucky in both of his national races.
As the right-wing fringe raises concerns about the "Jade Helm 15" conspiracy theory, it's only natural to wonder just how many Americans put stock in the nonsense. We know the numbers are significant enough to get policymakers' attention -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), I'm looking in your direction -- but is the paranoia widespread?
Right Wing Watch yesterday noted the latest PPP survey, released yesterday, which included some noteworthy results.
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds that one-third of Republicans believe the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory that "the government is trying to take over Texas," and another 28 percent of GOP voters haven't made up their minds yet about the matter.
Among Republicans, PPP found that supporters of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were most likely to believe the conspiracy theory.... PPP also found that half of all Tea Party supporters fear an imminent Texas invasion.
That's not an exaggeration -- 50% of self-identified Tea Party members, at least in this poll, said they're concerned "the government is trying to take over Texas."
Overall, 32% of self-identified Republican primary voters said they believe the conspiracy theory. And while that's obviously not a majority, it's still a third of the party's base, which will choose the GOP's presidential nominee.
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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