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Leading Conservatives Attend 40th Annual CPAC

Tim Scott offers a perspective his colleagues need to hear

07/14/16 10:40AM

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) holds a rather unique position on Capitol Hill. The lawmaker, appointed and then elected to his seat, is the only African-American Republican in the chamber, and the only black senator of either party to get elected in the South since Reconstruction.
 
This background took on added salience last night, when Scott addressed one of the nation's most pressing and more important national debates. Vox had a good piece on the senator's striking remarks.
A common response to the outcry over police misconduct is to almost immediately blame the victim -- he had a criminal record, he didn't listen to the police, and so on. But what happens when the victim to such misconduct is a United States senator with a clean record?
 
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina gave a heartfelt speech in which he spoke about some of the abuses by police that he, as a black man, had dealt with. The speech, Scott said, was meant to show that in some instances -- he insisted that most cops mean well -- police officers are in the wrong, targeting someone solely because of his skin color.
The entirely of Scott's speech is online here.
 
The GOP lawmaker talked about having been pulled over seven times in one year, and in most of the instances, "I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial."
 
Scott shared the details of a case in which an officer stopped him -- a sitting U.S. senator -- on suspicion of his car being stolen. "I started asking myself, because I was smart enough to not ask him, 'Is the license plate coming in as stolen? Does the license plate match the car?'" he said. "I was looking for some rational reason that may have prompted him to stop me on the side of the road."
 
Scott added, "I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell no matter the profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life.... Imagine the frustration, the irritation, the sense of a loss of dignity that accompanies each of those stops."
 
He went on to acknowledge having "felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you're being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.... [T]here is absolutely nothing more frustrating, more damaging to your soul than when you know you're following the rules and being treated like you're not."
The main stage on the convention floor at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, is prepared for the upcoming RNC, as workers stand in a man lift, July 13, 2016. (Photo by Gene J. Puskar/AP)

At GOP convention, toy guns are banned, but real guns are not

07/14/16 10:00AM

Four years ago, as Republicans were getting ready for their national convention in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn worked with law-enforcement officials to create as safe an environment as possible, including a ban on items that might be considered security threats. As we discussed at the time, that meant people outside the convention would face restrictions on things like water pistols and placards.
 
Under Florida law, however, officials couldn't prohibit people from carrying real guns around the convention site, even if they wanted to. Tampa's mayor asked Gov. Rick Scott (R) to use his discretion and make an exception to the state law in the interest of security and public safety. Scott refused.
 
Four years later, the Wall Street Journal reports on an eerily similar situation.
Cleveland officials said Wednesday that they will uphold the right of protesters at the Republican National Convention to carry firearms even as they expressed opposition to the state's open carry laws.
 
Speaking to reporters in advance of the Republican National Convention next week, both Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and police Chief Calvin Williams they were bound by the state's laws allowing people to carry guns even if they disagreed with them.
The same report added, however, that city officials have already banned "a wide array of items inside a broad zone in downtown Cleveland around the convention site, including water guns, toy guns, knives, aerosol cans, rope, tennis balls and others."
 
Remember, we're not talking about what's allowed inside the convention hall itself, where security will be very tight for obvious reasons. Those who attend the convention will not be allowed to carry firearms.
Donald Trump introduces Trump University at a press conference in Trump Tower, New York, May 2005. (Photo by Dan Herrick/KPA/ZUMA)

Presumptive Republican nominee can't shake 'Trump U' controversy

07/14/16 09:24AM

There were quite a few surprises in the new lineup for Republican speakers at the party's national convention, but the Tampa Bay Times flagged one of the names that stood out.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose ties to Donald Trump have been a source of controversy, will have a prime-time speaking appearance at next week's Republican National Convention.
 
Bondi is scheduled to give a five-minute address at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on the subject of law enforcement.... As the state's chief legal officer, Bondi is the target of ethics complaints over her solicitation of a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump in 2013.
As we've discussed before, the details surrounding Florida's conservative A.G. paint an unflattering picture. Bondi briefly considered joining a multi-state suit against the controversial "school," but the Florida Republican dropped the investigation after the Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution towards Bondi's re-election.
 
And while that raises serious ethics questions, the controversy became more serious when we learned Bondi "personally solicited" the money from Trump while her office was considering a case against "Trump University."
 
It's against this backdrop that Trump and Republican officials have invited Bondi to deliver a high-profile, prime-time speech "on the subject of law enforcement"? Is this some kind of joke?
 
Norm Ornstein called the decision "cringe-worthy," which seems quite fair under the circumstances.
A syringe used for intravenous drug use.

Opioid bill to become law, but not without grumbling

07/14/16 08:40AM

The good news is, Congress has approved legislation addressing an important issue, and with bipartisan backing, the policy is on its way to becoming law. The bad news is, the bill should have been a whole lot better.
Congress sent President Barack Obama a compromise bill Wednesday aimed at curbing abuse of heroin and other drugs, a nationwide epidemic that kills more than 100 Americans every day.
 
The overwhelming 92-2 Senate vote comes just days before the seven-week congressional break. It was a welcome political development for vulnerable Republicans such as Ohio's Rob Portman and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, who pushed for the measure before they faced constituents.
This same bill passed the House by a similar margin a few days ago. As the New York Times' report explained, the measure intends to "strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. It would also expand access to a drug that emergency medical workers could use to help reverse overdoses and improve treatment for the incarcerated."
 
The White House announced that President Obama will sign the bill, but the administration isn't exactly thrilled with the way the legislation turned out. "Congressional Republicans have not done their jobs until they provide the funding for treatment that communities need to combat this epidemic," the White House said in a written statement.
 
The process wasn't supposed to work this way. As regular readers may recall, in March, the Senate approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) on a 94-to-1 vote. Stakeholders assumed the bipartisan package was well on its way.
 
It wasn't. The GOP-led House said the Senate bill invested too much in prevention, and not enough in enforcement, so the lower chamber went its own way. Both chambers eventually passed their own competing alternatives, and the resulting compromise is what is now headed to the Oval Office for a signature.
 
But there's a reason Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called the bill "a half-measure."
Image: Vienna

One year later, Obama gets the last laugh on Iran deal

07/14/16 08:00AM

It wasn't easy, and the process nearly collapsed more than once, but exactly one year ago today, Americans learned of a historic diplomatic breakthrough: the United States and our negotiating partners had completed the Iran nuclear deal.
 
And despite all the far-right apoplexy, and the dire warnings about the agreement creating a security crisis, the editorial board of the New York Times noted the other day what is plainly true: the nuclear deal "is working" and has "made the world safer."
We now have a score sheet on Iran's compliance with its nuclear commitments from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear activities, and from American officials. Since the deal was reached last July, Iran has, as required, removed and placed in I.A.E.A.-monitored storage two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges it used for uranium enrichment at a facility at Natanz. It has ended all uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear bomb-grade fuel, and removed all nuclear material from its once-secret facility at Fordow. It has reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium from 12,000 kilograms, with a purity as high as 5 percent, to 300 kilograms, with a purity of no more than 3.67 percent and hence less usable as weapons fuel. The core of a heavy-water reactor at Arak has been filled with concrete.
 
The bottom line: If Iranian officials decided to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, it would take at least one year; without the deal, it would have taken just two or three months. That has won over some critics of the agreement, like Moshe Ya'alon, who was until recently defense minister of Israel. Last month, he effectively endorsed it and said Iran no longer presented "an existential threat to Israel."
Sustaining the agreement will bring plenty of challenges, but a year ago, critics of the diplomatic solution made a series of hair-raising predictions -- all of which, at least for now, have failed to come to fruition.
 
Indeed, congressional Republicans did everything they could think of -- including taking the extraordinary step of trying to sabotage American foreign policy while negotiations were still underway -- to derail the agreement. One year later, however, their efforts appear even more misguided, and the Obama administration's assurances appear vindicated.
 
Of course, President Obama and his foreign policy team, who understandably see this as one of the great foreign policy achievements of this generation, won't be in office much longer. What happens if this administration is replaced by a Trump administration?
Trump to announce running mate Friday

Trump to announce running mate Friday

07/13/16 09:54PM

Rachel Maddow relays the breaking news that Donald Trump has announced via Twitter that he will name is vice presidential running mate at 11 a.m. ET this Friday in Manhattan. watch

Polls not showing return on Clinton ad buys

Clinton outspending Trump on ads, not showing return in polls

07/13/16 09:47PM

Guy Cecil, chief strategist for the pro-Hillary Clinton superPAC Priorities USA, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether it's a bad sign that Hillary Clinton is significantly outspending Donald Trump on advertising, but not showing a significant lead in important swing states. watch

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 7.13.16

07/13/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* U.K.: "Theresa May took over as Britain's prime minister Wednesday, tasked with steering the country through the Brexit crisis. The steely 59-year-old replaced David Cameron, who became the first political casualty of last month's referendum when he announced his intention to quit hours after the result."
 
* A rather ridiculous choice: "Former London Mayor and Brexit backer Boris Johnson -- who once called President Obama 'hypocritical' and 'perverse' -- will now represent his country on international affairs. Johnson was named Britain's foreign secretary by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday -- on her first day in office."
 
* ISIS: "Even as it launches waves of terrorist attacks around the globe, the Islamic State is quietly preparing its followers for the eventual collapse of the caliphate it proclaimed with great fanfare two years ago."
 
* Unlikely: "People attending the Olympics in Brazil next month are unlikely to accelerate the spread of Zika virus around the world, U.S. federal health officials said Wednesday."
 
* City officials in Cleveland "are planning to pass legislation Wednesday to ensure that transgender people can use public bathrooms that match their gender identity -- a poke in the eye to GOP officials, including Donald Trump, who oppose such efforts and will be in the city next week for the Republican National Convention."
 
* Good for John Brennan: "The head of the CIA reiterated on Wednesday that he would not allow his agency to carry out brutal interrogations like those called for by Donald Trump, and appeared to suggest he would step down if a future president demanded him to do so."
 
* There's more than one kind of gun death: "In the past three months, America experienced the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with 49 people killed in Orlando, and new data showed that suicide rates have reached a three-decade high. Although mass shootings get most of the attention, experts say that the growing suicide rate reveals the much bigger effect of widespread firearm availability in the United States -- and claim thousands more lives."
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place at the CrossWay Christian Church in Nashua, N.H., Feb. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cassi Alexandra/For The Washington Post/Getty)

Latest polling points to a presidential race at the crossroads

07/13/16 05:01PM

There's quite a bit of new polling out today on the 2016 presidential race, and as it turns out, no matter which candidate you're rooting for, there's fresh data to make you feel good -- and bad.
 
If you're hoping for a Hillary Clinton victory, you're probably encouraged by new polls showing the presumptive Democratic nominee ahead in Pennsylvania (45% to 36%), Iowa (42% to 39%), Wisconsin (43% to 37%), and Colorado (48% to 35%).
 
If you're hoping for a Donald Trump victory, you're likely pleased to see polls showing the presumptive Republican nominee leading in Florida (42% to 39%), Pennsylvania (43% to 41%), and tied in Ohio (41% each).
 
In national polling, the latest McClatchy-Marist survey shows Clinton leading Trump, 42% to 39%, which is good news for the Democrat (she's ahead) and good news for the Republican (he's narrowed the gap).
 
What are we to make of all of this? I'd recommend keeping a few things in mind.
 
1. Clinton had a modest lead before and she has a modest lead now. Individual polls are interesting, but it's still the case that it's best to rely on averages. There's some evidence that the race has tightened a bit over the last week or so, but the shift hasn't been especially dramatic.
 
2. Last week hurt Clinton. Putting aside the question of whether Clinton's email "controversy" had merit, last week didn't do the Democrat any favors. Having every major news organization in the country question a candidate's judgment and competence -- all because of a story related to email server protocols, of all things -- is bound to have an effect. Americans believed the story mattered because they were told the story mattered. What's less clear is whether the damage is permanent or temporary.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Trump Soho Hotel in New York on June 22, 2016. (Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty)

Trump picks an odd time to sue a former staffer

07/13/16 03:56PM

It's tempting to assume Donald Trump would have plenty to occupy his time right now: choosing a running mate, preparing for his national nomination convention that begins in five days, trying to close the gap against Hillary Clinton, etc.
 
But as it turns out, the Republican candidate has also found the time to focus on filing a new lawsuit.
Donald Trump is seeking $10 million from a former aide he accused of leaking confidential information about a public spat between two senior campaign staffers, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
 
Trump claimed that fired campaign consultant Sam Nunberg went to the press with confidential information in violation of a nondisclosure agreement, which the real estate mogul requires nearly all staffers for his campaign and businesses to sign.
Even by this campaign's standards, it's an odd story. Nunberg was fired last summer for publishing racist messages via social media. He then allegedly leaked word of an affair between two Trump campaign staffers. This leak, Team Trump believes, was a breach of the non-disclosure agreement Nunberg signed.
 
Which brings us to today's court filing.
 
The Washington Post's Robert Costa added that Trump reportedly "decided to file a lawsuit in the middle of a general-election campaign because he's furious" with Nunberg.
 
But that's not much of an explanation. Donald Trump is scheduled to receive a major-party presidential nomination literally next week. He's announcing his running mate in two days. Whether he's furious with Nunberg over campaign gossip or not, it's not unreasonable to think Trump should have some impulse control.

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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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