Karl Rove, a former aide and strategist in the Bush/Cheney White House, has a new line of criticism against President Obama: he attends too many fundraisers during moments of crisis. Obama "makes time for [fundraising] no matter how pressing world or national affairs are," Rove complained.
And if, at this point, you're thinking that Rove's old boss also made time for fundraising during moments of crisis, a habit Rove never complained about before, Simon Maloy has you covered.
On March 2, 2004, suicide bombers conducted coordinated attacks on Shiite shrines in Baghdad and Karbala that coincided with the holy day of Ashura. Nearly 200 people were killed, which made it the deadliest day in Iraq since Bush had declared major combat operations over. The next evening, Bush flew out to Los Angeles for a fundraiser, where he joked about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role in Terminator 3.
Just over a week later, on March 11, 2004, terrorists exploded bombs on commuter trains in Madrid in a coordinated attack that left nearly 200 people dead and over 1,800 wounded. That morning, Bush condemned the attacks. That evening, he flew to New York for a Bush-Cheney campaign fundraiser.
On October 2, 2006, eight U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad by small arms fire and roadside bombs. Another three soldiers had been killed in the previous two days. Bush spent the evening of October 2 in Nevada at a fundraiser for Dean Heller.... A week later, on October 9, 2006, North Korea detonated its first nuclear weapon.... The next evening he jetted off to Macon, Georgia to headline a fundraiser for Mac Collins.
Note, Rove did not remain at the White House for the entirety of Bush's two terms, but he was a top presidential aide during each of these fundraisers. In other words, Rove was in a position to say, "Sir, you couldn't possibly leave Washington for a campaign fundraiser during this time of crisis," but he didn't.
Rove only discovered his outrage later, once President Obama was in office, taking on some of the same fundraising responsibilities his predecessor did.
Arguably just as interesting, though, is how often this comes up.
Florida's reputation for ridiculous elections -- hanging chads, butterfly ballots, deliberately long lines, bruising lawsuits -- is deeply unfortunate. It's also accurate; the Sunshine State has never exactly been a shining example of democracy at its finest.
But Florida is at least supposed to be better than most when it comes to the once-a-decade process in which state policymakers re-draw the lines of the state's congressional districts. Two years ago, however, that apparently didn't go well.
In a ruling released late Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis blasted the Republican establishment that created Florida's congressional map, saying they "made a mockery" of transparency, allowed for "improper partisan intent" and he ordered that two of the state's 27 districts drawn in 2012 violate the Fair District standards.
In his 41-page ruling, the judge rejected challenges to districts in South Florida and that Tampa Bay but said that District 5, held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, and District 10, held by Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, "will need to be redrawn, as will any other districts affected thereby."
The ruling doesn't pull any punches, blasting Republican operatives and consultants for making "a mockery of the Legislature's transparent and open process of redistricting," "conspiring to manipulate and influence the redistricting process," while "going to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it."
There are lingering questions about just how much GOP lawmakers knew about the outside interference, though in this case, we'll never know for sure -- the Florida Republicans involved in the process destroyed emails and other redistricting documents before the matter went to court.
"There is no legal duty on the part of the Legislature to preserve these records, but you have to wonder why they didn't,'' the judge wrote.
Wait, you mean there was shameless Republican manipulation of a process related to fair elections -- in Florida? Who would have guessed?
The debate over the minimum wage is usually pretty straight forward. For most on the left, the federal minimum is far too low and should be increased, expanding workers' buying power and putting more money in struggling Americans' pockets. For the most on the right, raising the minimum wage would cut into employers' profits. Some Republicans have even called for the wage to be lowered to zero.
But in Virginia, where former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie is his party's U.S. Senate nominee, voters have heard a new argument: working for the minimum wage is awesome. Gillespie told a Virginia Beach gathering that states and municipalities can do as they please, but he'd oppose a federal wage increase if elected.
"A lot of those jobs are second-earners in the family. A lot of them are first time workers, it's the first job they've ever had. A minimum wage job is where you learn to get to work on time. It's where you learn the great feeling at the end of getting that paycheck and knowing you gave an honest week's work. It's where you learn the social aspect of work, where you play on a softball team or go for a beer after work."
Wow, that sounds great, doesn't it?
Alex Wagner's on-air response yesterday rings true: "The great feeling of spending your hard-earned dough on a beer after work -- a beer which, if you're making the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, might cost you exactly as much as your hourly take-home pay."
Gillespie's vision of Americans having fun earning poverty wages is certainly condescending, but it's also based on unfortunate misconceptions. The suggestion that these workers are teenagers, learning the value of a buck for the first time, is wrong -- the reality is the vast majority of Americans who work for the minimum wage are over the age of 20. About half of them work full time.
If Gillespie or his allies can explain how American adults are supposed to live, pay bills, and maybe help support a family on poverty wages, all while playing on the softball team and grabbing an after-work beer, I'm eager to hear about it.
In 2012, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) was facing a tough re-election fight in Missouri, so she helped boost the Republican she assumed would be the easiest to beat: then-Rep. Todd Akin (R). The plan worked extraordinarily well.
Akin was an extremist by any measure, but the far-right lawmaker secured a spot in the Awful Candidates Hall of Fame when he famously said women impregnated during a "legitimate rape" have a magical ability to "shut that whole thing down."
Akin soon after lost by 15 points.
All of this unpleasantness, however, was two years ago. Now the far-right Missourian is back and he wants the spotlight again.
Todd Akin takes it back. He's not sorry.
Two years after the Missouri Republican's comments on rape, pregnancy and abortion doomed his campaign and fueled a "war on women" message that carried Democrats to victory in the Senate, one of the few regrets he mentions in a new book is the decision to air a campaign ad apologizing for his remarks. "By asking the public at large for forgiveness," Akin writes, "I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said."
Hmm. Todd Akin's problem was that he was too ... conciliatory?
Making matters worse, as Joan Walsh noted, Akin is not only retracting his 2012 apology, he's also back to defending the comments that caused him so much trouble in the first place. "My comment about a woman's body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress of fertilization," Akin argues in his new book, adding that "this is something fertility doctors debate and discuss."
Republican officials are clearly aware of Akin's willingness to re-litigate whether women can "shut that whole thing down," and they have a message for the former congressman: for the love of God, please stop talking.
The public first learned about House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) plan to file an anti-Obama lawsuit on June 24, more than two full weeks ago. Asked for an explanation, the Republican leader struggled -- Boehner knew he wanted to sue the president, though he didn't know why -- but the in the process, he gave his team all kinds of time to think of something.
As the put-up-or-shut-up moment approached, the pressure was on the Speaker to follow through in a big way. Yesterday, Boehner blew it.
Speaker John Boehner has released a bill that would authorize him to sue the White House over its implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
"The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws – at times even boasting about it," Boehner said in a statement Thursday. "He has said that if Congress won't make the laws he wants, he'll go ahead and make them himself, and in the case of the employer mandate in his health care law, that's exactly what he did."
In reality, delaying implementation of a minor provision of a law and making law unilaterally are not the same thing. Indeed, the Speaker's office went on to say the White House "literally waived" the law, which simply isn't true -- delaying part of a law isn't the same as literally waiving it. Those who can't understand the difference probably shouldn't pursue a career in legislating.
Regardless, even many of Obama's most vituperative critics would be forgiven for asking, "That's it?" at this point. For weeks, Boehner characterized the president as an out-of-control tyrant, but when push came to shove, the Speaker ignored his party's concerns about immigration, the environment, and economic measures, and instead moved forward on one thing: a year-old delay in an obscure policy most Americans have never heard of.
For all the overheated rhetoric about the president's lengthy list of abuses, this was the best Boehner could come up with. As Brian Beutler put it, "Today's story is that the GOP has spent weeks and weeks accusing Obama of unbridled lawlessness, when they didn't really have the goods."
Looking ahead, what's the likely result of the lawsuit? It's probably easier to consider this in Q&A form.
Rachel Maddow reviews the gaffes and humiliations of Texas governor Rick Perry's bumbling presidential campaign to examine why he thinks tough talk on the immigration crisis is a political win even though it's not helpful as a practical solution. watch
Senator Jon Tester of Montana, member of the Appropriations and Homeland Security Committees, talks with Rachel Maddow about the need for solutions on immigration and why he thinks the Senate will pass a bill to fund those solutions. watch
Rachel Maddow shares her favorite piece of historic presidential audio tape: President Johnson ordering a pair of pants, describing in very graphic terms how they need to fit in the crotch to avoid discomfort. watch
Rachel Maddow shares new audio tapes of former President Richard Nixon while in office, discussing homosexuality and the relative smartness and attractiveness of women who swear. watch
"Radioactive steel is the problem in other parts of the country. A big batch of the hot steel got out of a plant in Mexico and into table legs among other things. Now some of those legs are holding up tables in restaurants. Dennis Murphy tonight on the nation-wide hunt for the hot legs."
* A striking development: "Germany's relations with the United States plunged to a low point Thursday, with the government demanding the expulsion of the chief American intelligence official stationed here because, it said, Washington has refused to cooperate with German inquiries into United States intelligence activities."
* Israel: "Palestinian deaths from Israel's aerial attacks in Gaza rose sharply on Thursday, while militants there fired more than 100 rockets into Israel, reaching new targets spread across a vast swath of the country."
* Afghanistan: "Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday to help resolve the country's disputed presidential election and encourage a smooth transition of power. Kerry plans to meet with both presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani as well as current President Hamid Karzai the State Department said."
* CIA: "The battle between the Central Intelligence Agency and their overseers on the Senate Intelligence Committee that began four months ago will not lead to a criminal investigation."
* Gun violence: "A 33-year-old man was being held Thursday on six counts of murder after the police said he shot four children and two adults inside a house in a Houston suburb as part of a domestic dispute."
* The significance of OMB is generally under-appreciated: "The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Barack Obama's housing chief as the new director of the White House budget office, completing a second-term Cabinet shuffle. In his new job, Shaun Donovan will be responsible for preparing Obama's annual budget request and reviewing proposed agency regulations before they become final."
* Insider trading: "The subpoena of a Republican House aide in a federal investigation of insider trading has unnerved some of his colleagues on the Hill -- at least those who are paying attention."
* Will his old running mate now "vehemently oppose" him? "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the president's fiercest critics, says President Obama shouldn't be impeached."