* The predictable outcome at the 5th Circuit: "President Barack Obama’s plan to protect from deportation an estimated 5 million people living in the United States illegally suffered another setback Monday in a ruling from a New Orleans-based federal appeals court."
* Related news: "The Obama administration will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court injunction that has held up a new program that potentially would shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The decision to take the case to the high court comes a day after a federal appeals panel ruled against the administration, keeping the new program on hold nearly a year after President Obama announced it."
* NDAA: "The Senate passed a bill that bans moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States -- something Barack Obama has been trying to do since he was sworn in as president. The Senate voted Tuesday on the $607 billion defense policy bill, which passed the House last week, 370-58." Today's vote was 91 to 3.
* This one was 93 to 0: "The Senate on Tuesday passed a fiscal year 2016 funding bill for veterans' benefits and military construction, making it the first spending bill to clear the upper chamber this year."
* Alabama: "In a news conference Monday, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said the three officers are on leave pending an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of three students, which was captured on video."
* Missouri: "A day after the top two leaders of the University of Missouri stepped down, under fire over the handling of racial tensions on campus, the university on Tuesday named a law professor and administrator to a new high-level diversity post."
* Russia "will counter NATO's U.S.-led missile defense program by deploying new strike weapons capable of piercing the shield, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday. Putin told defense officials that by developing defenses against ballistic missiles Washington aims to "neutralize" Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent and gain a 'decisive military superiority.'"
Marco Rubio's views on reproductive rights are likely to alienate women. His views on immigration reform are likely to alienate a lot of Latinos. His take on marriage equality is going to alienate the LGBT community. And his plan for tax breaks for millionaires will alienate economists.
But now Rubio has really done it: he's alienated the comic-con crowd.
The latest McClatchy/Marist poll found the Florida senator running third nationally, trailing only Donald Trump and Ben Carson, in the race for the Republican nomination, but there was an interesting age gap: Rubio may be the youngest candidate -- he's only 44 -- but he enjoys stronger support with older GOP voters than younger GOP voters.
Rubio has pitched himself as the voice of a new generation of far-right policymakers, but voters older than him tend to like Rubio more than voters younger than him.
The senator's take on science fiction may not help matters.
The first hint of trouble came two weeks ago, when someone asked Rubio a familiar genre question: Star Wars or Star Trek? He tweeted in response, "Star wars. It has a political theme." The political themes in Star Trek are hard to miss, making his answer odd.
Today in New Hampshire, Rubio added some related thoughts on the subject, explaining his conflicted feelings about Darth Vader. He also reflected on some childhood toys (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up):
...Rubio also revealed that he had a toy version of the Death Star, the fictional base for the movie’s darker forces, and re-told a key moment in the series’ plot.
“I think I had the Death Star, but it kept breaking just like it did in part two -- in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ when it blew up cause that guy got that rocket to go into that hole,” Rubio said. “Remember that?”
Even among right-wing evangelical pastors, Kevin Swanson stands out for his ... how do I put this gently ... enthusiasm.
But Swanson nevertheless has a large enough following that he hosted a "National Religious Liberties Conference" in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was joined by three prominent Republican presidential candidates.
Now, before we get to those White House hopefuls, it's worth appreciating the kind of message Swanson likes to disseminate. Rachel noted on the show last night some of his more colorful remarks at his Iowa gathering.
"There are families whose -- we're talking Christian families, pastors' families, elders' families in good godly churches -- their sons are rebelling, hanging out with homosexuals and getting married. And the parents are invited.
"What would you do if that was the case? Here's what I would do. Sack cloth and ashes at the entrance to the church. And I'd sit in cow manure and I'd spread it all over my body. That's what I'd do. And I'm not kidding. I'm not laughing. I'm grieving. I'm mourning. I'm pointing out the problem!
"It's not a gay time! These are the people with the sores, the gaping sores. The sores that are pusy and gross and people are coming in and carving happy faces on pusy sores. That's not a nice thing to do. Don't you dare carve happy faces on open, pusy sores. Don't you ever do that.... America needs to hear the message. We are messed up."
Well, some of us more than others, I'm afraid.
Swanson went on to make his case, with unnerving zeal, that Scripture demands the death penalty for homosexuality.
All of which brings us back to the national GOP candidates.
Arguably more than any other state, Kentucky has created an amazing health network. Under Gov. Steve Beshear's (D) leadership, the state's success story has served as a national model for overhauling an ineffective system, replacing it with an effective system that costs less and covers more.
And now it's likely to be torn down on purpose. Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R) ran on a platform of dismantling Kynect and scrapping Medicaid expansion on the state, despite the fact that it's been a literal life-saver for many families in his adopted home state. Last week, the Republican won his race easily, offering him the opportunity to do exactly what he promised to do: gutting health security for much of Kentucky.
The obvious question, of course, is why voters who stood to lose so much would vote for a gubernatorial candidate intent on deliberately making their lives harder. Republican officials, however, assumed that many of these Kentuckians wouldn't bother to show up on Election Day, and those assumptions largely proved true.
But the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein reported this week from Pike County, Kentucky, where many in the community have come to rely on the state's health network, but where many nevertheless voted for the far-right candidate who's voted to destroy that network.
Dennis Blackburn has this splintered self-interest. The 56-year-old mechanic hasn’t worked in 18 months, since he lost his job at a tire company that supplies a diminishing number of local coal mines.... He has a hereditary liver disorder, numbness in his hands and legs, back pain from folding his 6-foot-1-inch frame into 29-inch mine shafts as a young man, plus an abnormal heart rhythm -- the likely vestige of having been struck by lightning 15 years ago in his tin-roofed farmhouse.
Blackburn was making small payments on an MRI he’d gotten at Pikeville Medical Center, the only hospital in a 150-mile radius, when he heard about Big Sandy’s Shelby Valley Clinic. There he met [Mindy] Fleming, who helped him sign up for one of the managed-care Medicaid plans available in Kentucky.
It would appear Blackburn is exactly the kind of Kentuckian who would go out of his way to protect the health benefits he needs -- and yet, Blackburn voted for Bevin last week because the far-right candidate isn't a "career politician."
Now that Election Day has come and gone, Blackburn is facing deeply unfortunate circumstances: the governor he helped elect, who vowed to take away his health security, is probably going to do exactly what he promised to do.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, a new PPP poll of South Carolina Democrats shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders, 72% to 18%. The 54-point advantage is even larger than Clinton's lead in the last PPP poll in South Carolina -- she led by 44 points in September.
* On a related note, Monmouth also polled South Carolina Dems and in a newly released report, it found Clinton leading Sanders by a similar margin, 69% to 21%.
* In New Jersey, a new Quinnipiac pollshows Donald Trump leading the Republican field with 31%, followed by Ben Carson at 16% and Marco Rubio at 15%. Chris Christie is fourth in his home state with just 8% support.
* The same poll found, by a two-to-one margin, New Jersey voters want Christie to quit the presidential race. That includes 40% of Garden State Republicans, who also want the governor to give up on the White House.
* National Review, a conservative magazine, reported yesterday that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has organized a meeting for tomorrow morning in Milwaukee "to discuss changes to the qualification guidelines for future debates." Among the items on the agenda is settling on "a strategy for convincing the networks to make two changes to their qualification guidelines: raising the cutoff percentage in polling, and using early-state polls instead of national ones."
* Ted Cruz picked up an endorsement yesterday from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), a prominent critic of immigration and a far-right congressman who's discussed impeaching Hillary Clinton on her inauguration day if she's elected president.
Bush, as he always does, called for higher expectations and chastised current standards, saying the "soft bigotry of low expectations, which is what my brother called our schools, basically ... does a disservice to every child in America."
It reminded me of an event Jeb Bush hosted in New Hampshire last month, when he claimed Iran, Russia, Syria, and Cuba are "creating this axis of ... opponents of the United States."
Towards the beginning of the year, Jeb Bush went out of his way to emphasize his belief that he's his "own man." Several months later, it's striking to see just how far -- and how quickly -- the Florida Republican is moving in the opposite direction.
If Republican voters are planning to abandon the amateur presidential candidates for their establishment counterparts, they sure are taking their sweet time about it.
Consider the new national McClatchy/Marist poll. (There is no trend line; these are the first national results from this pollster.)
1. Ben Carson: 24%
2. Donald Trump: 23%
3. Marco Rubio: 12%
4. Jeb Bush: 8%
4. Ted Cruz: 8%
The remaining candidates are at 5% or lower, but what makes this poll especially interesting is a separate question: "Regardless of whom you may support, would you say that the more you hear about ____ the more you like him/her, or the more you hear about ____ the less you like him/her?"
In response, a whopping 67% of GOP voters say their impressions of Carson are improving, well ahead of the 58% who said the same about Rubio and 51% about Cruz. On the other hand, a 58% majority said the more they hear about Jeb Bush, the less they like him, ahead of the 49% who said the same about Trump.
The same poll found that a third of GOP voters chose Bush "as the one they do not want to win the nomination. That was second only to Trump."
In hypothetical general-election matchups, McClatchy/Marist found Hillary Clinton leading each of the leading Republican candidates, by margins ranging from 2 percentage points (vs. Carson) to 15 percentage points (vs. Trump). The results for Bernie Sanders were similar, though he trailed Carson and his leads over the GOP field were generally slightly smaller.
As a gubernatorial candidate in 2013, Virginia's Terry McAuliffe (D) made Medicaid expansion a key plank in his statewide platform. After the election, however, Republicans in the state legislature didn't care and killed the proposal.
A year later, the determined governor launched an effort to circumvent state lawmakers and adopt the policy over GOP objections. That didn't work, either.
But McAuliffe is nothing if not determined. The Washington Postreported the other day on the Democratic governor's latest idea.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe intends to make another push for Medicaid expansion despite intense opposition from Republicans, who retained full control of the General Assembly in elections last week.
McAuliffe (D) said he will pursue a new strategy that he thinks will be more palatable to conservatives -- one that he said would allow Virginia to extend health-care benefits to 400,000 uninsured citizens at no cost to the state. Previous plans have called for Virginia to eventually pay 10 percent of the annual $2.4 billion cost, which amounts to $240 million.
Under Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, federal funds initially cover 100% of state costs, though eventually the federal contribution drops to 90%. It's still an amazing deal, which 30 states -- "blue" and "red" -- have eagerly taken advantage of, not only to help low-income families, but also to bolster state hospitals and improve state finances.
Virginia Republicans have nevertheless refused, some citing the 10% commitment in the future. McAuliffe said late last week, however, that he envisions a $0 price tag. “I do believe we will be able to present this in a fashion with zero obligation to the state,” he said in an off-the-cuff comment to reporters.
The governor has not yet gone into any details, but one of the ideas that's been kicked around is forcing state hospitals, which stand to benefit tremendously from Medicaid expansion, to cover the difference. "[H]ospitals clearly want this money," the governor said on Friday, adding, "For every dollar they put in, they get a multiple back.”
If this at all sounds familiar, Indiana embraced Medicaid expansion through a similar model.
The question would then become very different: would Virginia Republicans block Medicaid expansion even if it didn't cost the state any money at all?
The timeline of Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) prostitution scandal has long been a little tricky. He ran for the Senate in 2004 as a "family-values conservative," and was elected easily. It wasn't until 2007 that the far-right Republican, left with no choice, acknowledged his "serious sin" with prostitutes, in incidents that occurred when Vitter was still in the U.S. House several years earlier.
He nevertheless ran for re-election in 2010 -- a strong year for the GOP -- and won another term without fully having to address his history with hookers.
Now, however, Vitter is running for governor, facing off against a very aggressive Democratic rival, John Bel Edwards, who's eager to remind voters about the senator's scandal. By some measures, it's working: recent polling shows Edwards well positioned in the race, even picking up support from a leading GOP official in the state.
After being targeted by a blunt ad referencing his 2007 prostitution scandal, Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is hitting back with a commercial that addresses allegations about his involvement with prostitutes.
“Fifteen years ago, I failed my family, but found forgiveness and love,” Vitter says in the ad, speaking directly to the camera. “I learned that our falls aren’t what define us, but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption.”
Nearly all recent polling suggests Jeb Bush is running fifth in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, trailing Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. If the former Florida governor is going to climb back into the top tier, he'll probably have to drag one of his rivals down and take their place.
There's one obvious choice. Bush and his team no doubt realize that the top four GOP candidates appeal to different constituencies within the party, and Rubio is the one in Bush's "lane." Of the most competitive candidates, the young senator easily enjoys the most support from the Republican establishment -- backing Jeb expected to lock up months ago -- making Rubio an existential threat to Bush's ambitions.
And with this in mind, the New York Timesreports today that a group of Bush supporters are "seething with anger" over Rubio's rise and are now "eager for political combat." As part of the offensive, Bush's allies "are privately threatening a wave of scathing attacks on his former protege."
The cash-rich group aiding Jeb Bush’s White House run has filmed a provocative video casting his rival Marco Rubio as ultimately unelectable because of his hard-line stand against abortion.
That group, which has raised more than $100 million, has asked voters in New Hampshire how they feel about Mr. Rubio’s skipping important votes in the Senate.
And the group’s chief strategist has boasted of his willingness to spend as much as $20 million to damage Mr. Rubio’s reputation and halt his sudden ascent in the polls, according to three people told of the claim.
As a rule, telegraphing punches is a bad idea. Consider, for example, what happened two weeks ago: Bush went out of his way to draw attention to his criticisms of Rubio's missed Senate votes, and when the subject came up in a debate, Rubio had a scripted reply ready.
So why do it again? Some skepticism is probably in order.
The more questions arise about the veracity of Ben Carson's personal background, the more the Republican presidential candidate characterizes himself as a victim of unfair scrutiny. There's a tactical value to the argument -- it's vastly easier to attack news organizations than defend inconsistencies in his record -- that simultaneously panders to far-right activists who remain convinced that President Obama wasn't vetted in the 2007-2008 race.
Carson told NBC's Chris Jansing over the weekend, "I have always said that I expect to be vetted. But being vetted and what is going on with me, 'You said this 30 years ago, you said this 20 years ago, this didn't exist, this didn't.' You know, I just, I have not seen that with anyone else. Or if you can show me where that's happened with someone else, I will take that statement back."
NBC News' First Read highlighted some details that Carson may not remember from eight years ago.
We found a combined 165 New York Times and Washington Post articles that were all (or partially) about Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright between the time Obama first launched his presidential bid (Feb. 2007) and his 2008 victory (Nov. 2008). During that same time period, we found an additional 41 New York Times and Washington Post pieces on Obama and Bill Ayers.
This doesn't even touch on the conspiratorial questions about Obama's birthplace.
The Washington Post took a step further yesterday, highlighting the kind of granular scrutiny Carson's 2016 rivals have faced, from an essay Bernie Sanders wrote 43 years ago, to Jeb Bush's experimentation with drugs in high school, to months of obsessive coverage about Hillary Clinton's email server management.
Carson feels put upon, as if he's been singled out by reporters overeager to pick on him, largely because he's not at all accustomed to being scrutinized. He was a celebrated surgeon, whose judgment and credibility were unquestioned.
Now that he's seeking the nation's highest office, Carson suddenly finds media professionals asking him about his claims that appear to untrue -- and he's outraged. How dare journalists press a presidential candidate about dubious stories he may have made up. Don't they understand? He's Ben Carson!
What he and other first-time candidates often fail to appreciate is the point of a rigorous vetting process. Part of this process, of course, is to provide the American electorate with the most complete information possible about would-be presidents. Voters can't simply expect candidates to tell their own stories; the public relies on news organizations to do their own investigations, uncovering details campaigns would prefer to ignore.
Rachel Maddow shows that while Democrats were participating in a candidates forum, Republicans Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz were guests at "religious freedom" event led by a pastor who preaches that homosexuality should be punished with death. watch
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.