Katy Tur, NBC News Correspondent, reports on Donald Trump's first campaign event since the Republican debate, and Richard Winger, publisher and editor of Ballot Access News talks with Ari Melber about whether a third party run is a real option for Trump. watch
Rachel Maddow looks back at the tenacity with which Hillary Clinton fought for the Democratic nomination in 2008, just one of many examples of the steadfast determination she has demonstrated through her political career. watch
Rachel Maddow looks at the political career of Democratic candidate Jim Webb, from his experience in Vietnam, to his controversial service in the Reagan administration, to his vocal opposition to sending the U.S. to war in Iraq. watch
Rachel Maddow traces the political history of Bernie Sanders, from small city mayor of Burlington Vermont, to congressman, senator and upstart presidential candidate, all while staying consistent on a core set of issues. watch
Rachel Maddow revisits Hillary Rodham Clinton's trip as first lady to an international women's convention in Beijing, China in 1995, ignoring criticism from political opponents and criticizing China in their own house for their treatment of women. watch
* Iraq: "At least 76 people were killed and 212 wounded in a bomb attack on Thursday at a market in Baghdad's Sadr City district, police and medical sources said. The bombing was one of the largest attacks on the capital since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took office a year ago."
* Gut-wrenching: "Claiming the Quran's support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool."
* Kentucky: "A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to resume issuing marriage licenses despite her religious objection to same-sex marriage, but Davis quickly filed an appeal and continued her refusal to issue licenses."
* This is a big get: "Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is throwing his support behind the Iran nuclear agreement, suggesting it is the only way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
* Add Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to the list: "After careful review, I have decided that I will vote in support of the agreement the United States and our international partners reached with Iran last month."
* John Warner, a Republican former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Carl Levin, a Democratic former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- two very respected voices -- agree that lawmakers shouldn't derail the Iran deal.
* An important ruling: "The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state's death penalty is unconstitutional, a decision that will spare 11 inmates who are currently on death row."
* Criminal justice: "A Pennsylvania man who served 34 years in prison for the rape and murder of a teenage girl -- after being fingered by jailhouse snitches -- was released Thursday because of new DNA tests."
The New York Times' Paul Krugman had an interesting item the other day on popular perceptions srrounding Ronald Reagan -- or as the columnist put it, "Reaganolatry."
[C]onsider the track of unemployment under two presidents. One is lauded as the ultimate economic hero and savior; the other reviled as an economic failure, who killed jobs by being nice to poor people and insulting job creators.
The former, of course, refers to Reagan, while the latter refers to President Obama.
Krugman added a chart, but with due respect to the Nobel Laureate, the image was a little confusing -- it had Reagan in blue and Obama in red, which is now counteractive, and included all of Reagan's eight years in office, while Obama still has a year and a half to go.
The crux of the recent Planned Parenthood controversy is about fetal-tissue research: the health care organization provides tissues, at no profit, to medical researchers. It's an important area of science that has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, but which Republicans have now rebranded as "harvesting organs from unborn children."
Among the group's critics is Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. That wouldn't be especially interesting, were it not for the fact that Carson "previously did research using human fetal tissue." BuzzFeed had the scoop this morning:
Late on Wednesday, an OB/GYN and science writer Jen Gunter revealed on her blog a 1992 study in which Carson and three other colleagues used tissue from the fetal brain and nasal cavity to better understand the development of the chambers (or "ventricles") of the brain. These tissues "were obtained from two fetuses aborted at the ninth and 17th week of gestation," the paper says.
Just so we're clear, no one has accused Carson of doing anything illegal or medically unethical. On the contrary, the fetal-tissue research Carson conducted is rather common, and up until very recently, uncontroversial.
But as a Republican presidential candidate, Carson appears to have criticized the same scientific research he personally participated in. What's more, as BuzzFeed's report added, Carson told Fox News last month that a fetus at 17 weeks "is a human being." The fact that the GOP candidate used tissues from an aborted 17-week fetus makes his position that much more complex.
The good news is, Carson has a response. The bad news is, it's not particularly persuasive.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In Iowa, the new CNN poll shows Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field with 22% support, followed by Ben Carson at 14%. No other candidate reaches double digits, though Scott Walker is third with 9% and Ted Cruz is fourth with 8%.
* CNN also polled Iowa Democrats and found Hillary Clinton ahead with 50%, followed by Bernie Sanders with 31%, and Vice President Biden with 12%.
* Rand Paul's offensive against Trump continued yesterday, with the senator's campaign unveiling a new attack video that basically characterizes Trump as a Democrat.
* Trump responded with a lengthy statement mocking the Kentucky Republican, ridiculing his golf game, and encouraging him to drop out of the presidential race.
* Jeb Bush had an awkward town-hall event in Nevada yesterday, telling a Filipino immigrant he opposes an immigration policy based on family reunification. The event ended with Black Lives Matter protesters clashing with Bush supporters.
* More than half of New Jersey voters want Chris Christie to resign as governor while he runs for president.
* In Missouri, PPP found Sen. Roy Blunt (R) with an ugly 30% approval rating. In a hypothetical general election, he leads his largely unknown Democratic challenger, Jason Kander, by just five points, 40% to 35%.
The renewed Republican campaign against Planned Parenthood has moved past the realm of rhetoric and debate, making the transition to legislative bodies. At the federal level, for example, quite a few GOP lawmakers say they're prepared to shut down the federal government next month over federal funding for the health care organization.
At the state level, meanwhile, officials in Alabama, Louisiana, and New Hampshire recently decided to block public resources for Planned Parenthood -- it apparently doesn't matter that some of these states don't have clinics that perform abortions -- and related efforts are underway in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The Wall Street Journalreported yesterday, however, that the Obama administration isn't just committed to protecting Planned Parenthood in a political dispute; it's also concerned about the legality of state action against the health organization.
Federal law requires that Medicaid beneficiaries may obtain services, including family-planning care, from any qualified provider. Terminating Planned Parenthood's Medicaid provider agreements restricts access by not permitting them to get services from providers of their choice, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. [...]
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of HHS, has notified Louisiana and Alabama, which have taken action to terminate their Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood, that they may be in conflict with federal law, according to HHS. CMS said that, by restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.
The key here are guidelines from 2011, in which HHS said states "cannot block Medicaid funding to providers on the basis of the other services offered." In other words, Alabama can't block funding for cancer screenings because it opposes abortion, since public money can pay for the former but not the latter.
As a matter of political strategy, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist came up with a pretty effective tactic when he crafted "the pledge." As we discussed a few months ago, the idea is entirely straightforward: Republican candidates, up and down the ballot, are asked to sign a promise never to raise any tax on anyone by any amount for any reason.
If a proposal increases government revenue, under the Norquist framework, Republicans must approve comparable cuts elsewhere.
In time, the pressure on GOP candidates took root: Republicans who wanted to win, especially in a primary, came to recognize the intra-party expectation. Sign the pledge or lose.
The more popular the tactic became, the more bipartisan policymaking became practically impossible, especially at the federal level. It wasn't long before Norquist's pledge developed a reputation as a mindless, knee-jerk obstacle to good governance.
But Republican presidential candidates keep signing it anyway. The conservative Washington Times reported:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge vowing to "oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes," the group said Wednesday.
"Governor Chris Christie has vetoed more tax hikes than any other governor in modern American history," said Grover Norquist, president of ATR. "And he made those vetoes stick. Without the Christie governorship, New Jersey would be somewhere between Detroit and Greece."
The New Jersey governor joins Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson among GOP presidential contenders who've added their names to the Norquist pledge list.
They'll probably soon have company: Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee "have all previously signed the pledge in some capacity," and are expected to do so again this year.
If you're desperately waiting for the Affordable Care Act to fail, and for the entire Obamacare-based American system to collapse, this week must be crushing.
The number of people without health insurance has declined by 15.8 million since ObamaCare's coverage expansion took effect, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The National Health Interview Survey finds that the number of uninsured people has declined from 44.8 million in 2013, before ObamaCare's coverage expansion took effect, to 29 million in the first quarter of 2015. The uninsured rate fell from 14.4 percent in 2013 to 9.2 percent in 2015, according to the CDC.
To be sure, it's an arbitrary threshold, but the fact that the uninsured rate has dropped to single digits is both encouraging and historic -- since public officials began keeping track, it's never been this low in the United States.
Looking closer at the data, note that the CDC data is based on surveys conducted between January and March. In the five months since then, it's likely the uninsured rate has improved a little more -- Charles Gaba pegs the figure at about 8.8%.
And this wasn't the only bit of good news. NBC News reported that the latest figures from the National Center for Health Statistics pointed to fantastic news on expansion of the availability of coverage, and a new report from the Rand Corporation research group found similar results.
Also this week, new evidence makes clear that the ACA has not undermined job growth, further disproving one of the key Republican talking points on health care.
At a certain point, at least some opponents of the law should probably say to themselves, "We fought the good fight, but the darn thing is working."
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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