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State dismissed Flint bad water test concerns

Flint water concerns 'blown off' by state: Snyder staffer e-mail

01/06/16 09:37PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a newly obtained e-mail from June of 2015, confirmed by NBC News, that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's chief-of-staff was troubled that Flint's bad water tests were not being taken seriously, part of a string of mails showing the administration's awareness of alarming lead test results even as it insisted... watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 1.6.16

01/06/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* No one seems to believe North Korea: "It will take a couple of days for the U.S. to determine if North Korea's claim it detonated a hydrogen bomb is a big lie or a big problem -- but experts already think it's more likely the event was just a blast from the past."
* California: "Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday in Porter Ranch, where thousands of residents have been evacuated due to a massive gas leak."
* Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: "The anti-government activists who took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon are going to face federal charges when the siege is over, the local sheriff told NBC News on Wednesday."
* Deportations: "The nation's highest immigration court has temporarily halted the deportations of 12 Central American women and children [whom] the federal government detained last weekend as part of its first significant nationwide enforcement effort focused on these recently arrived immigrants."
* Middle East fallout continues: "Qatar has recalled its ambassador from Iran to protest attacks on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and Consulate in Mashhad, violence stemming from the Saudi execution of an opposition Shiite cleric."
* Georgia: "Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday rescinded an order that sought to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Georgia, clearing the way for new arrivals from the war-torn nation to receive food stamp benefits."
* Turkey: "President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey marched across another line last week. Asked about his push for greatly enhanced executive powers, he told reporters that there was a precedent in 'Hitler's Germany.'"
* Alaska: "Credit ratings agency Standard and Poor's on Tuesday dropped Alaska's gold-plated credit rating and warned of more turmoil ahead unless lawmakers act to close the state's massive budget gap." For more on this, check out my piece from a month ago.
President Barack Obama (C) hugs an assembly line worker as he tours through the Chrysler Auto Plant in Detroit, Mich., July 30, 2010.

White House has reason to celebrate auto-industry data

01/06/16 04:26PM

Reporters attending White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's press briefing today were treated to a fairly detailed slide show devoted to a specific topic: the health of the American auto industry.
And under the circumstances, it's awfully tough to blame the Obama administration for wanting to take a victory lap. Consider this Washington Post report from yesterday:
Drivers in the United States bought more cars last year than ever before, a staggering turnaround for an auto industry fighting for its life half a decade ago, as low gas prices and a strengthening economy marked a banner year on American roads. [...]
Car buyers last year were energized by several economic sparks: the improving wages and confidence of a more robust job market; easy credit and cheap gas; and the pent-up demand of a driving public whose cars, on average, are more than 11 years old. And the explosive results could prove more than a blip, with some analysts projecting that a strong economy could yield another car-lot record in 2016. Last year's estimated $437 billion in car sales capped a six-year growth streak, the industry's first since World War II.
Given the number of Americans employed, directly and indirectly, in the auto industry, and degree to which this represents the backbone of the nation's manufacturing sector, these figures have to be heartening to anyone rooting for the U.S. economy.
But there is, of course, a political angle to this that also matters.
John Kasich, left, and Donald Trump, second from right, argue across fellow candidates during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Latest polling shows surprisingly tight race in first GOP primary

01/06/16 03:45PM

There was a two-week lull in which there was very little new 2016 polling available, but with the holiday season behind us, new numbers are starting to appear.
Public Policy Polling, for example, released new results out of New Hampshire this afternoon:
1. Donald Trump: 29% (up from 27% a month ago)
2. Marco Rubio: 15% (up from 11%)
3. Christie 11: (up from 10%)
3. Kasich 11: (up from 8%)
5. Bush 10: (up from 5%) 
5. Cruz 10: (down from 13%)
The remaining candidates are each below 5%, including Ben Carson, who's support has been cut nearly in half over the last month.
There's quite a bit to chew on here, including this little tidbit: this is the first time in the entire election cycle in which a New Hampshire poll -- any New Hampshire poll -- has shown six different candidates reaching double-digit support.
To an important degree, this helps Trump a great deal: the more establishment-backed Republicans remain divided, the easier it is for the New York developer to stay on top.
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.

Obamacare repeal dead-enders refuse to move on

01/06/16 12:57PM

There's been some commentary of late that this Congress, now under Republican control in both chambers, is slightly less ridiculous than the last two. And if we lower the bar for basic competence, and then lower it a little more, there may be something to the thesis: lawmakers have managed to avoid imposing a shutdown or a debt crisis in the nation over the last 12 months.
Behold, the grandeur of the world's greatest democracy?
Of course, avoiding self-imposed crises isn't much of a standard for success. This Congress has managed not to punish the country on purpose, but it hasn't done much in the way of constructive legislating, and it's failed even more spectacularly in areas such as confirmation votes.
Maybe lawmakers will get 2016 off to a more sensible start? Maybe not.
For the first time, Republicans on Wednesday are expected to send a bill to President Obama's desk that would repeal most of his signature healthcare law.
While the bill faces a certain veto, the vote in the House brings Republicans closer than ever before to dismantling the healthcare legislation that they say has failed the country.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said this morning, "With this bill, we will force President Obama to show the American people where he stands."
And in a way, I suppose that's true. Americans everywhere will finally learn, once and for all, that President Obama supports Obamacare. What would we do without Kevin McCarthy adding such helpful clarity to the debate?

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 1.6.16

01/06/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Hillary Clinton picked up an endorsement yesterday from NARAL, which eight years ago threw its support to Barack Obama.
* The Field Poll, considered the gold standard in California polling, shows Ted Cruz taking the lead among Golden State Republicans. The senator leads the GOP field with 25%, followed by Donald Trump at 23%. Marco Rubio is third with 13%. Carly Fiorina, who ran a failed Senate campaign in California, is tied for seventh place with just 3%.
* Marco Rubio continues to make strides in picking up establishment, inside-the-Beltway endorsements, today receiving support from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
* Mike Huckabee's longtime communications director, Alice Stewart, quit his campaign last month, but she's landed on her feet: Stewart has joined Ted Cruz's team.
* Chris Christie, annoyed by new attacks ads from Rubio's super PAC, said yesterday, "I just don't think Marco Rubio's going to be able to slime his way to the White House. He wants to put out a whole bunch of negative ads? Go ahead. I hope that he will acknowledge at some point that I couldn't care less."
* Speaking of Christie, the New Jersey governor hasn't made much of an effort in Iowa, but that's starting to change.
* South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has agreed to deliver her party's response to President Obama's final State of the Union address. As Bobby Jindal can attest, a gig fraught with risks.
Republican members of the House and House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy react after the election for the Speaker of the House was thrown into chaos on Capitol Hill, Oct. 8, 2015. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

GOP's Benghazi Committee passes ignominious milestone

01/06/16 11:21AM

It's long been difficult to find a legitimate purpose for the Republicans' Benghazi Committee, but as of October, the panel was simply indefensible. A farcical 11-hour hearing with Hillary Clinton, coupled with a series of internal controversies, made clear that the committee needed to pull the plug.
But it didn't. In fact, McClatchy reported this morning on the partisan exercise passing an ignominious milestone.
As of Wednesday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi has been in existence for 609 days, surpassing the length of time the 9/11 Commission took to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Instead of following the bipartisan model set by the 9/11 Commission, which brought our entire nation together after we were attacked by terrorists, Republicans created a highly partisan Select Committee with an unlimited budget to attack their political opponents," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee's top Democrat. "Republicans continue to drag out this political charade closer to the 2016 presidential election, and the American taxpayers continue to pay the price."
Remember, even congressional Republicans have admitted the committee is a partisan exercise, making it that much more difficult to justify its prolonged existence.
For the record, the 9/11 Commission, a bipartisan panel created to investigate the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, conducted its work over 1 year, 7 months, and 25 days -- which works out to 604 days, five fewer than this current charade.
U.S. Republican presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump walk onstage as they address a Tea Party rally against the Iran nuclear deal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 9, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Finding room to Trump's right on immigration

01/06/16 10:40AM

On some of his signature issues, Donald Trump's position seems to represent the right-wing cliff. When some of his Republican rivals try to find room to the frontrunner's right, strange things happen.
A couple of months ago, for example, when Trump raised the prospect of the U.S. government closing down mosques, Marco Rubio went a little further, suggesting officials may have to start closing cafes and diners, too, "not just mosques." The New Republic's Brian Beutler noted at the time that the Florida senator may have received less attention, but he actually adopted "a policy far more draconian than even Trump's."
Similarly, on immigration, it seems hard to imagine a more conservative posture than Trump's deport-them-all position. But yesterday, Ted Cruz found room to his rival's right on this issue, too.
A man in Iowa asked the Texas senator, "Both you and Donald Trump are really strong on immigration, but he supports deporting all the illegal immigrants. Are you willing to say the same?" Slate's Jim Newell highlighted Cruz's response.
"Absolutely, yes," Cruz says. "We should enforce the law." Here, he seems to leave a little space open for the "self-deportation" that dominates his immigration plan rather than the more forceful mass deportation that Trump supports. Not that immigration activists regard either as particularly humane.
But then, on his own volition, Cruz leapfrogs to Trump's right: "And in fact, look, there's a difference. He's advocated allowing folks to come back in and become citizens. I oppose that." He then name-checks Congress's two most cherished anti-immigration conservatives, Rep. Steve King and Sen. Jeff Sessions, as collaborators on his immigration plan.
BuzzFeed posted the video of the exchange.
We've reached a striking point in the 2016 race. According to Cruz, Trump's approach to immigration is just too moderate.
 Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., speak at a press conference about their bi-partisan agreement to propose legislation to strengthen background checks to prevent criminals and those with mental illness from buying guns on April 10,...

The wrong gun complaints from senators who know better

01/06/16 10:00AM

In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, two unlikely senators -- Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- partnered on a good bill to expand background checks. Despite overwhelming public support, lawmakers, nearly all of whom were Republicans, killed the legislation.
It was a disheartening reminder that policymaking on guns has become practically impossible. No matter how modest the proposal, no matter how popular the idea, no matter how crushing the consequences, GOP lawmakers are even less likely to consider gun-safety reforms than they are to approve tax hikes on millionaires.
President Obama obviously recognizes this political reality, which is why he's focused his efforts on executive actions. Oddly enough, the same senators who should understand as well as anyone why this approach is necessary are the same senators complaining about the president's approach.
Sen. Pat Toomey, who faces a tough reelection race in blue-leaning Pennsylvania, said that while he still needs more information about the president's regulatory moves, "the most appropriate way for handling firearm issues is when Congress and the President work together."
"The President has abused these actions in the past and exceeded the boundaries of the law. This should not be allowed under our constitutional framework," he added in a statement.
For the record, Toomey offered no examples of the president abusing his powers in this area, no examples of the White House exceeding the boundaries of the law, and no evidence of inconsistencies between the administration's policy and the Constitution.
Around the same time, Manchin added, "Instead of taking unilateral executive action, the President should work with Congress and the American people, just as I've always done, to pass the proposals he announced today.... [L]egislation and consensus is the correct approach."
As much as I respect the work Toomey and Manchin have done on this issue, it's hard not to wonder what in the world they're thinking.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during the American Conservative Union Conference March 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Md. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

After North Korea boast, Rubio blames U.S. leaders

01/06/16 09:24AM

South Korea reported a seismic event resembling an earthquake overnight, which North Korea quickly took credit for, claiming it had successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. As NBC News reported, if the boast is true, it would "mark a huge jump in Kim Jong Un's quest to improve its still-limited nuclear arsenal."
But the boast may not be true and some skepticism is in order. NBC report added, "South Korean officials and some experts questioned whether the explosion was indeed a full-fledged test of a hydrogen device." The New York Times added that experts cautioned that North Korea may have "exaggerated its claims, as it did with its three previous nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013."
Responsible officials should probably hold off on drawing sweeping conclusions until there's more information, though Marco Rubio has no use for caution. The senator issued a statement overnight, quickly blaming the purported test on the United States.
"I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by. If this test is confirmed, it will be just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy. Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama's weakness."
This is a great example of why Rubio shouldn't pretend to be a grown-up on foreign policy. For one thing, North Korea is an isolated, rogue nuclear dictatorship, with whom we have no leverage.
For another, why would a presidential candidate -- or more specifically, an American presidential candidate -- instinctively respond to world events by effectively asking, "How can I blame this on the United States?"


About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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