With just a week remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the editorial board of the state's largest newspaper weighed in over the weekend with its sought-after endorsements.
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Marco Rubio Saturday received the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, Iowa's biggest newspaper, just eight days ahead of the state's caucuses.
While endorsements are nearly always a positive development for the candidates who receives them, for Republicans, the Register's backing is tricky -- which is precisely why Donald Trump and Ted Cruz refused to meet with the editorial board and expressed no interest in receiving the endorsement.
Politicoadded, "Republican strategists and political observers predicted that unlike in previous years, a Register endorsement is an instant talking point for rivals, proof that the winners are aligned with a mainstream media outlet's moderate-to-liberal lean."
FiveThirtyEight noted that candidates endorsed by the Register have traditionally received about a three-point bounce in Iowa polling, but there's very little about this presidential cycle that's "traditional."
As for the paper's track record for backing caucus winners, recent history is ... mixed.
Being funny is difficult. Politicians trying their hands at comedy are taking a risk: if their comedy succeeds, they may become more likable, but if their sense of humor falls flat, they end up looking worse than if they hadn't tried at all.
Marco Rubio, for example, thinks he's funny, but may need to work on his material. Last week's "Tonight Show" appearance didn't go particularly well, and over the weekend, the Florida senator took his comedic chops to Iowa, where he tried a little topical humor.
"Now I want to stop here for a moment and say that in Washington right now they are being buried in a snow blizzard. Which means that, like, federal agencies, were not able to work all day yesterday and issuing new regulations. Apparently Barack Obama's executive order pen has frozen.
"So come to think of it, it's probably one of the best things to happen to the republic in quite a while."
Watching the video, it's clear he was trying to be funny -- the audience laughed -- and I'm generally inclined to cut candidates some slack when they're obviously joking around.
But in this case, I'm not sure Rubio's rhetoric is quite so easy to dismiss. Celebrating a natural disaster while it's ongoing -- we're talking about a blizzard that left at least 30 people dead -- is bizarre, especially for a presidential candidate. As many actual comedians can attest, there is such a thing as "too soon."
For that matter, the nature of Rubio's pitch is absurd. The senator, an enthusiastic proponent of his party's government-shutdown scheme in 2013, thinks it's fantastic when a disaster paralyzes federal operations -- which is part of his pitch as to why he should be president of the United States?
Even some Republicans took aim at Rubio's tone-deaf comments.
Did you hear about the "new planet" that took the world by storm this week? There's a lot of hype flying around, but the takeaway for now is that it's just a theoretical prediction. An actual planet in the outer limits of our Solar System has not been confirmed, merely surmised. Which is not to say that the idea isn't super exciting...
Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, astronomers at the California Institute of Technology, published a paper this past week describing an explanation for the eccentric orbits that have been observed in several Kuiper Belt objects (video here). Their solution: "We motivate the existence of a distant, eccentric perturber." By their calculations, the perturbing body would be roughly ten times the mass of Earth and orbiting the Sun at hundreds of times farther than Pluto. A year on this theorized world would be close to 20,000 years on Earth.
So what now? As I said, this is a theoretical prediction based on the orbits of just a few distant objects. It actually takes longer than you think to nail down the orbital parameters of Kuiper Belt objects, a year or two even. But with each new data point, the model proposed by Batygin and Brown can be tested. Additionally, a large planetary body at that distance may not reflect much sunlight to be observed optically, but it likely radiates heat that infrared telescopes might be able to detect. This is how science works: observations, theories, predictions, and more observations. Stay tuned, planet lovers!
That last part isn't a joke, by the way. As Rachel highlighted last night, Bickle really did suggest Oprah -- yes, that Oprah -- might be a forerunner of the Antichrist. "She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable, she is utterly deceived," Bickle has argued. "A classy woman, a cool woman, a charming woman, but has a spirit of deception, and she's one of the clear pastors, forerunners, to the harlot movement."
This week, Bickle threw his official, "enthusiastic" support behind Ted Cruz's 2016 campaign, touting him as "a president who will first be faithful to honor God's Word."
And while a candidate can't be held responsible for who does and doesn't offer endorsements, in this case, Cruz issued a press statement touting Bickle's backing as an important development.
It's part of an unmistakable pattern involving a GOP candidate who's gone to great lengths to cozy up to some extraordinarily radical figures in the religious-right movement -- including a November event in which the senator shared a stage with pastor Kevin Swanson, who believes Scripture demands the death penalty for homosexuality.
Eight years ago at this time, Barack Obama was challenged repeatedly over his association with Jeremiah Wright. John McCain was pressed on his ties to John Hagee. This year, it seems some of the presidential field with their own relationships with controversial pastors are getting off easy.
Rachel Maddow alerts viewers that she will be traveling to Flint, Michigan on Wednesday, January 27 for a special town hall show with the people of Flint to talk about how they're dealing with the crisis of their water's toxicity. watch
Rachel Maddow shows how Oprah is an unexpected point of overlap between the Trump and Cruz campaigns as Ted Cruz welcomes the endorsement of a preacher who thinks Oprah is the antichrist and Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would like Oprah as a running mate. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the Koch-funded group that has led the conservative effort to privatize the Veterans' Administration, and the questioned raised by the unexpected departure of the group's leader. watch
Lindsey Smith, reporter for Michigan Radio, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the state of Michigan has changed its approach to addressing the toxic water crisis in Flint in recent weeks, and how challenges like poor record keeping will make compliance with the EPA orders particularly difficult. watch
* EPA: "The Environmental Protection Agency director overseeing a region that includes Flint, Michigan, is stepping down after contaminated water in that city exposed residents to lead poisoning."
* Wall Street: "U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, for their first positive week of the year, helped by a recovery in oil from multi-year lows and hopes of stimulus overseas."
* Pakistani officials now believe "a deadly assault on a university this week was orchestrated by militants in Afghanistan, part of a pattern of cross-border terrorism that is undermining peace efforts in the region."
* Economy: "U.S. home sales rebounded December after new federal regulations had delayed the completion of purchases in November. And total sales in 2015 were the most in nine years."
* DeKalb County, Georgia: "A white police officer was indicted here Thursday on six counts, including felony murder, in the fatal shooting last year of an unarmed black man who was naked and described as acting in an erratic manner."
* Clean Power Plan: "In what environmentalists hailed as a victory for efforts to curb climate change, an appeals panel in Washington on Thursday rebuffed efforts to delay enforcement of President Barack Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions until legal challenges are resolved."
* Defense Secretary Ash Carter published a new op-ed on this being the "time to accelerate" the fight against ISIS. After reading the piece, I'm not altogether sure what that entails.
* It's interesting that Republicans are blocking a qualified Secretary of the Army nominee during a war and there is no controversy: "Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is vowing to keep a hold on President Obama's nominee for secretary of the Army until the president leaves office and is no longer in a position to close the Guantanamo Bay prison."
* The right's strategic genius: "Russia has fallen victim to two of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia—oops—but only slightly less well-known is this: never think an oil-exporting business can substitute for having an actual economy. Double oops."
Former First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of one president and the mother of another, said a few years ago that she didn't really want Jeb Bush to run in 2016. "There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we've had enough Bushes," she told NBC.
Jeb, of course, decided to run anyway, reminding voters that despite his famous family, "I am my own man." The argument started looking a little shaky once the former governor turned to his family members for fundraising, and turned to his family's team advisers to help guide his campaign.
As the process intensifies, and his chances of success decline, Jeb no longer seems interested in distancing himself from his last name. Today, the Bush campaign unveiled this new ad featuring an endorsement from his mother. For those who can't watch clips online, here's the script, with Barbara Bush's pitch:
"Jeb has been a very good father. A wonderful son. A hard worker. His heart is big.
"When push comes to shove people are going to realize Jeb has real solutions, rather than talking about how popular they are, how great they are. He's doing it because he sees a huge need and it's not being filled by anybody.
"Of all the people running, he seems to be the one who could solve the problems. I think he'll be a great president."
The New Republic's Jeet Heer said in response, "There have been many sad moments in Jeb Bush's ill-fated campaign, but this is surely one of the most pathetic. Down on his luck, Bush is doing the equivalent of bringing his mother to a job interview to vouch for what a great guy he is."
That sounds about right, though that's not the part that jumped out at me. Rather, it was the pitch itself that seemed problematic.
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.