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Hero closes day's trading... emphatically

Hero closes day's trading... emphatically

07/23/14 10:29PM

Rachel Maddow shares video of Medal of Honor recipient former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts, closing the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange and accidentally breaking off the head of the gavel in the process. watch

Ahead on the 7/23/14 Maddow show

07/23/14 07:51PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Mauricio Marin, reporter for CBS's Tucson affiliate KOLD TV. He witnessed the execution today.
  • Dale Baich, attorney for Joseph Wood, witnessed botched execution today
  • Thomas Kaplan, reporter for the New York Times

Here's executive producer Bill Wolff with a video preview of a show you should not miss:

read more

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 7.23.14

07/23/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Ukraine: "Two Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jets were shot down on Wednesday in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The planes were downed in an area of heavy fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, near where a Malaysia Airlines jet was blown out of the sky on Thursday, killing 298 people and drawing international dismay."
 
* Unimaginable: "Parents who lost three young children and their grandfather when Flight MH17 was shot down by pro-Putin rebels revealed that they now 'live in a hell beyond hell.'"
 
* Middle East: "Israel faced new political and economic pressures on Wednesday to negotiate a halt to the 16-day-old Gaza war, with its rising toll of death and destruction, as cease-fire talks ground forward and the Israeli tourism industry was upended as major foreign airlines extended their suspension of flights over fears of Palestinian rocket fire."
 
* U.N.: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians."
 
* Intelligence released: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."
 
* A career-ender for Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.)? "An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh's master's degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors' works, with no attribution."
 
* House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is blasting President Obama for supporting a 2008 human trafficking law. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is blasting President Obama for opposing the same 2008 human trafficking law. Hmm.
 
* Confirmation now appears certain: "The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved President Obama's pick to lead the troubled Veterans Affairs Department, sending his nomination to the full chamber. Senators voted 14-0 for former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald to run the agency, which has been rocked by a scandal over falsified reports over how long veterans were waiting for care."
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers remarks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition "Road to Majority" policy conference in Washington, June 19, 2014.

At the intersection of Ted Cruz and bad charts

07/23/14 05:01PM

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) really wants to deport Dream Act kids. I mean, he desperately wants to deport them. The far-right senator knows these young people have been living, working, and studying in the United States for most of their lives. And he knows America is the only home they've ever known.
 
But the Texas Republican has nevertheless made kicking these young people out of the country his "top priority." Cruz is approaching this with a zealotry that's rather unnerving, and he's urging other GOP lawmakers to do the same.
 
This is no excuse, however, for bad charts.
Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade

Fox hosts blast 911 calls from immigrants

07/23/14 04:00PM

There's obviously no point in getting too excited about every foolish remark uttered on "Fox & Friends," but this story by way of Emily Arrowood, is pretty extraordinary, even by Fox standards.
On July 23, Fox & Friends centered a discussion on how undocumented immigrants in Brooks County, Texas are "bombarding" the police department with 911 calls. Host Brian Kilmeade ... suggested Brooks County emergency response services might be strained because, "not only are they understaffed and lacking resources, now they've got to deal with illegal immigrants who have no business being here."
 
As an example, the program aired two emergency calls from Spanish speakers each identified on-screen as "Immigrant." In the first, a distressed male requests emergency assistance for his cousin, whom the man described as "turning blue." Another call featured a man and woman explaining to the 911 operator that they have not had access to water in three days.
During the on-air interview, Kilmeade asked the deputy, "So those calls, you have to respond to, even though for the most part, when you get there you realize, they're not even American citizens?"
 
Co-host Steve Doocy added his concerns about "a small Texas town" that's "forced to answer 911 from stranded illegals in Spanish."
 
How the show knows that Spanish-speaking people in Texas who call 911 are "illegal immigrants who have no business being here" is unclear. Maybe they're Spanish-speaking Americans with an emergency. Maybe they're tourists.
 
More important, though, is what "Fox & Friends" would recommend as a remedy to this perceived problem. Should there be some kind of test in which 911 operators check callers' citizenship status before dispatching first responders?
 
Let's pause for a quick refresher on the point of 911 operations.
Mothers from Honduras traveling with their children prepare to get into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services agent's truck after crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas, July 3, 2014.

What is the 'working group' working on, exactly?

07/23/14 12:50PM

It's been a few weeks since President Obama presented Congress with a pretty credible package to address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Congressional Republicans have made clear that they don't like the White House's proposed solution, though they have no alternative of their own.
 
At least, not yet. Robert Costa reports that House Republicans are nearly ready to present their own proposal, which would mandate deploying National Guard troops for no particular reason, and require reforms to the Bush/Cheney law that provides a legal process for these unaccompanied Central American children.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), who led the House GOP "working group" tasked with tackling the issue, planned to share her team's recommendations during the closed-door weekly House Republican meeting. On her way in, carrying a binder of papers and pamphlets, Granger said a vote on her proposals "should happen right now."
 
"Every day that we delay, thousands more come across the border," she said.
Actually, no. That's incorrect. "In the first 14 days of July, Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended an average of 150 unaccompanied children per day in the Rio Grande Valley -- a figure that has plunged from about 355 per day in June," we learned yesterday.
 
Presumably, if an elected member of Congress is tasked to lead a "working group" on the border crisis, he or she would not only have access to detailed information, but would also know that claims such as "every day ... thousands more come across the border" aren't true.
 
It's important to have this policy debate, but it'll be a more constructive debate if policymakers stick to the facts.
 
And the facts tell us that despite the recent crisis, illegal immigration is actually down sharply.

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 7.23.14

07/23/14 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:
 
* In North Carolina's closely watched U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D) continues to hold on against state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), with PPP showing her up by seven points, 41% to 34%. In May, PPP shows Hagan up by five.
 
* In related news, the Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners has reportedly made a $2.8 million ad buy in North Carolina in order to try to bring Hagan down.
 
* In Florida, a new Quinnipiac poll shows former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leading incumbent Gov. Rick Scott (R) by five, 45% to 40% in a head-to-head match-up. When Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added to the mix, Crist still leads, but his advantage slips to just two points.
 
* In Colorado, PPP now shows Sen. Mark Udall (D) with a narrow, one-point lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R), 44% to 43%.
 
* The same PPP poll out of Colorado shows an equally close gubernatorial race, with incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) also leading former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R), 44% to 43%.
 
* In Iowa, Republicans are going after Rep. Bruce Braley's (D) Senate campaign, attacking him for having missed a VA hearing in 2012. In an amusing twist, it turns out that Braley was in "Fast & Furious" hearing at the time, making this an odd thing for the GOP to complain about.
Leading Conservatives Attend 40th Annual CPAC

Obama, Rand Paul on 'opposite' sides of minimum wage

07/23/14 11:30AM

The Associated Press this week dove into Labor Department data and found something interesting: states that raised their minimum wage are creating more jobs than states that didn't. It's the kind of development that does no favors for Republican Party orthodoxy.
 
In light of the data, I thought prominent GOP figures might avoid the subject for a while, though Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) may have missed the memo.
 
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama gave a joint interview last month in which they said they hope their daughters work minimum-wage jobs -- just as the First Couple once did. "I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Michelle Obama said.
 
The president added, "We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair. But that's what most folks go through every single day."
 
It seemed pretty innocuous, though the Obamas' comments apparently bothered Rand Paul.
Speaking at a downtown conference for libertarian and conservative technology types [in San Francisco], the Kentucky Republican and prospective 2016 White House contender said he had an "opposite" view from the Obamas when it comes to seeing his own sons work delivering pizzas and at call centers.
 
"The minimum wage is a temporary" thing, Paul said. "It's a chance to get started. I see my son come home with his tips. And he's got cash in his hand and he's proud of himself. I don't want him to stop there. But he's working and he's understanding the value of work. We shouldn't disparage that."
I didn't hear a recording of Paul's comments, but I've read the Politico report a few times trying to make sense of the senator's argument. I'm just not sure what he was trying to say.
Image: Elizabeth Dole Loses Re-Election Bid

Disabilities treaty gets a second chance

07/23/14 10:54AM

It's always a shame when good legislation dies for no reason, but some setbacks are more disappointing than others. In late 2012, for example, proponents of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities thought they had enough votes for ratification. They were wrong.
 
Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), a champion of the measure, made a rare appearance in the chamber just before the vote, sitting in a wheelchair just off the floor so that members would have to see him as they entered. Dole hoped to send a message to senators: do the right thing.
 
It didn't work. Some Senate Republicans who knew right-wing conspiracy theories about the treaty were wrong nevertheless voted to kill it, betraying Dole because they feared the GOP's far-right base. John Kerry, before his departure from the Senate, said at the time it was one of the saddest days of his career.
 
Members will, however, get a second chance to do the right thing.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday approved a United Nations treaty to protect people with disabilities from discrimination.
 
The committee approved the treaty on a 12-6 vote. All Democrats approved along with Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.). [...]
 
"When we lead, the world follows, and only the United States can show the way in raising worldwide accessibility to the American standard," committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement after the vote.
Part of the frustration with this debate is that opponents are playing such a weak hand -- but may win anyway.
Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio on Capitol Hill in Washington,D.C. on January 28, 2014.

Marco Rubio's unique take on history

07/23/14 10:15AM

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) generated quite a few headlines in his interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep this week, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
 
The story that got tongues wagging inside the Beltway was hard to miss: the conservative senator dismissed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential future, arguing the nation is at a "generational, transformational crossroads," and Clinton is "a 20th century candidate."
 
Maybe it's just me, but hearing a far-right lawmaker who opposes marriage equality, supports limits on contraception access, opposes reproductive rights, balks at ENDA, and fails to believe in climate science turn around and present himself as a forward-thinking leader for the future is a bit much. As Barbara Morrill joked, Rubio's "the guy for a generational, transformational change. Assuming you're talking about a transformation back to the 19th century."
 
But just as interesting were the senator's comments about comprehensive immigration reform, which Rubio co-sponsored in the Senate, which passed a bill fairly easily last year.
 
"I've been through this now, I was involved in the effort. I warned during that effort that I didn't think it did enough on this first element, the [border] security front. I was proven, unfortunately, right by the fact that it didn't move in the House."
 
As the senator probably knows, this assessment doesn't line up especially well with what's actually transpired.
Rick Perry

Perry fails to impress Texas border sheriffs

07/23/14 09:26AM

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) caused a bit of a stir this week, announcing plans to dispatch as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S./Mexico border, apparently to address the recent humanitarian crisis. The Republican governor (and likely presidential candidate) has struggled to explain exactly what these troops would do, but Perry seems quite excited about "Operation Strong Safety."
 
The governor, however, has not necessarily impressed those whom Perry assumed would be allies.
Leaders along the Texas border with Mexico slammed Gov. Rick Perry's move Monday to send 1,000 National Guard troops to South Texas, saying overwhelmed counties need law enforcement and charitable aid, not militarization. [...]
 
Sheriffs and others along the border said they had not been consulted. They questioned the wisdom of sending military personnel who are not authorized to stop anyone.
The quotes from local law enforcement to the Dallas Morning News were quite striking. Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said, "At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don't know that it helps." Specifically in reference to National Guard troops, Lucio added, "I don't know what good they can do."
 
Ouch.
House Speaker John Boehner listens as GOP leaders speak to reporters following a Republican strategy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

The Speaker, the ACA, and the 'Be Careful What You Wish For' Adage

07/23/14 08:50AM

The closer one looks at the D.C. Circuit's ruling yesterday on ACA subsidies, the harder it is to defend. Two conservative jurists not only want to destroy the health care system over an out-of-context drafting error, they also based their reasoning on a farcical foundation. Scott Lemieux explained that the far-right judges effectively said Congress consciously decided to give states veto power over the law's implementation.
 
Why would the ACA's architects do that? They wouldn't -- and they didn't. The argument is a sham, which is why so many are so confident that yesterday's truly absurd decision simply cannot stand. Ezra Klein called the argument "plainly ridiculous."
 
But while the legal process plays out, there's a political angle worth watching. After the Halbig v. Burwell decision came down, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement that the ruling proves that the Affordable Care Act is "completely unworkable" and "cannot be fixed."
 
As it happens, it's funny that Boehner would use those particular words.
 
I rather doubt that Boehner actually believes his own rhetoric on this. Indeed, the talking points are pretty silly -- a system that was working well is "unworkable" because of a lawsuit intended to sabotage the American health care system? Please.
 
But it's the notion that the ACA "cannot be fixed" that's especially important. The Republican Speaker may have been thrilled by yesterday's news that millions may lose access to medical care, but whether he realizes it or not, if Halbig continues to go his way, this mess may very well land with a thud on Boehner's desk -- and the Speaker will be ill-equipped to respond.

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