Rachel Maddow reports on the desperate refugee crisis in Europe as calls grow for the U.S. to take as many as 100,000 refugees and Russia moves military resources to Syria, prompting talks with U.S. military leaders, and reports that Iran has traded high level al Qaeda prisoners for a captured Iranian diplomat has officials urgently seeking... watch
Rachel Maddow shares the "transcendentally weird" poll result showing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders polling in a three way tied in the Republican primary in his home state of Vermont. watch
* Syria: "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that the United States was prepared to engage in military-to-military talks with Russia concerning Syria, even as Russia continued its military buildup there by deploying fighter jets."
* Bold move: "President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services."
* Kentucky: "An attorney for Deputy Clerk Brian Mason said Friday afternoon that Rowan County clerk Kim Davis removed her name from the county's marriage license forms, disobeying a federal judge's release order, the Associated Press reported."
* Pakistan: "Taliban militants shot and killed at least 30 people, including 16 people in a mosque, at an air force base near this city in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, military officials said, in the first major assault on a Pakistani military installation this year."
* Under the circumstances, this seems fair: "White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday spoke out forcefully against Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's failure to correct a voter who called President Barack Obama a Muslim, turning his criticism into a harsh indictment of Republicans at large."
* Next stop, Supremes? "A U.S. appeals court has ruled that President Barack Obama's healthcare law violates the rights of religiously affiliated employers by forcing them to help provide contraceptive coverage even though they do not have to pay for it."
* Ahmed Mohamed is welcome to return to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, but it looks like he'll take his talents elsewhere.
* A hero's welcome: "US President Barack Obama on Thursday feted three Americans who helped thwart a train attack in France, welcoming them to the White House and hailing their courage."
* Seems like a reasonable request: "Close to 80 Democrats are pushing Speaker John Boehner to keep the House in session until Congress passes a stop-gap funding measure to keep the government open."
In just 12 days, current funding for the federal government will run out, raising the very real prospect of another Republican shutdown. With so little time remaining, one is tempted to assume that lawmakers are scrambling to find a constructive solution.
Those assumptions would be wrong. MSNBC's Irin Carmon reported on how the GOP-led House spent its morning.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed on Friday the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, 248-177. The bill strips the women’s health provider of its funding for contraception, pap smears, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections, unless it stops performing abortions.
President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill, setting the stage for a possible government shutdown. Some congressional Republicans have vowed not to vote for any budget that includes funding for the organization.
The final roll call on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood is online here. Note, the vote largely fell along partisan lines, but not completely -- three Republicans voted with the Democratic minority, while two Dems voted with the majority. The vote on the measure was immediately followed by another vote on a related bill, which would "impose criminal penalties on doctors who do not try to save a baby who 'survives an abortion,'" which passed by a similar margin.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump hasn't offered much in the way of policy speeches since launching his campaign, so it was of great interest this week when Team Trump announced plans for a major foreign-policy speech, delivered from a decommissioned battleship. If you've watched the show this week, however, you know the speech didn't quite live up to its billing.
Right off the bat, Trump's speech on matters of national security had very little to do with national security. There weren't even any references to ISIS. Military Times published a report noting that the remarks "featured few new ideas for military policy or Veterans Affairs reform but plenty of promises to crack down on illegal immigration and 'make our country great again.'"
The GOP frontrunner did, however, vow to “come out with some plans in a very short time," which struck an odd note given that this was supposed to be a speech about Trump's plans.
And while all of this matters -- presidential candidates with vague platforms who promise to deliver a major address on foreign policy should keep that promise -- it's not the most interesting part of the story.
As it turns out, the event aboard the USS Iowa was less of a campaign speech and more of a fundraiser for a group called "Veterans for a Strong America" -- an organization that Trump claims represents "hundreds of thousands of veterans."
As best as we can tell, Veterans for a Strong America does not, however, have a sizable membership base. In fact, as Rachel noted on the show on Wednesday, the group does not appear to have any members at all.
What's more, the organization staff itself appears to consist of just one individual: Joel Arends of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
And Joel Arends of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has quite a political background.
In Wednesday night's debate, Jeb Bush made one of those claims that left many viewers scratching their heads: “As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.” This stood out, of course, because it's so horribly untrue.
But the Republican presidential hopeful was nevertheless applauded at the Reagan Library on Wednesday night, and yesterday, Jeb hit the same note again on Twitter.
I'll confess that when I first saw the tweet, I assumed it was a rude joke. In fact, it seemed obvious that the message had come from a Bush critic, not Bush himself -- it juxtaposes Jeb's rhetoric at the debate with an image of his brother standing atop rubble caused by a terrorist attack that occurred on his watch. The message seemed inherently self-defeating -- there's Jeb Bush saying his brother kept us safe, alongside a photograph documenting evidence that his brother did not keep us safe.
But it wasn't a rude joke. Rather, it was the former governor's bizarre way of trying to prove his point. Indeed, though I assumed Team Jeb would quickly realize how ridiculous the tweet was and delete it, the message is still there.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Jeb Bush's campaign hosted a rally yesterday in Las Vegas in a room built for 200 people. It was, according to the Washington Post, "half-full" when the Republican candidate started the rally "a few minutes early."
* In New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is throwing her official support behind Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Hassan is also eyeing a possible U.S. Senate campaign next year.
* Speaking of New Hampshire, Karl Rove's Crossroads operation is reportedly launching new attack ads against Clinton in the Granite State, targeting Clinton's email account during her tenure as Secretary of State.
* At this week's debate, GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson said Marines are not ready to be deployed. Apparently, some Marines didn't agree with the comment.
* Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) announced yesterday that he will retire from Congress next year rather than seek re-election. His district is widely seen as a safe Republican seat, which national Democrats will likely show no interest in.
Back in early August, Rachel flagged a curious campaign-finance move that I still don't understand. It has to do with one presidential candidate's super PAC writing a generous check to support a rival candidate -- a move that's since drawn interest from the Federal Election Commission.
To briefly recap, Ted Cruz has a super PAC called Keep the Promise that exists, naturally, because it supports Cruz's national ambitions. That's the point of a super PAC -- to raise money to bolster the candidate that the group and its donors want to see win.
But in a campaign-finance filing, amid Keep the Promise's routine expenditures, there's a $500,000 payment to CARLY for America. And if CARLY for America sounds familiar, that's because it's the name of the super PAC that's backing Carly Fiorina, one of Ted Cruz's many rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.
And that's pretty odd. Why would one candidate's super PAC write a six-figure check in support of another candidate? The Washington Postreports that the Federal Election Commission is wondering the same thing.
People were left scratching their heads in July when Keep the Promise 1, one of a conglomerate of super PACs funded by deep-pocketed Cruz supporters (the others are cleverly named Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise II and Keep the Promise III; don’t strain yourself, guys), revealed in its financial disclosures a $500,000 donation to Fiorina’s campaign.
Keep the Promise 1 had a healthy $10 million on hand from an $11 million donation from hedge fund CEO Robert Mercer as of the end of June. But it only spent $536,169. A little for legal services. A little for surveys. And a whole lot for Fiorina.
Even the Federal Election Commission is perplexed. [...] So, the FEC, as it does, sent a letter Wednesday asking for “a brief statement or description of why each disbursement was made.”
The letter appears to have gone out this week, and the super PAC did not respond to the Washington Post's request for comment.
As the climate crisis intensifies, and national GOP figures generally refuse to even consider solutions or evidence, it's hard not to wonder sometimes whether there's anyone in Republican politics who recognizes the problem and believes action is necessary.
For those who believe the evidence, there's some good news: yes, such Republicans exist. The bad news is, their total number is alarmingly small.
With Pope Francis scheduled for a U.S. tour next week, including a scheduled speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) thought it'd be worthwhile to put together a resolution on the climate crisis for his fellow Republicans to support.
"This is a call for action to study how humans are impacting our environment and to look for consensus on areas where we can take action to mitigate the risks and balance our impacts," the New York congressman toldNational Journal.
Eleven House Republicans signed on to a resolution Thursday that recognizes humans have a role in causing climate change.
The resolution also endorses steps to combat global warming, though it stops well short of calling for specific solutions.
Yes, 11 GOP House members endorsed the vague resolution, which endorses "economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions" that are intended to address "measured changes to our global and regional climates."
Eleven House Republicans were comfortable with this. There are, in case you're curious, 247 GOP lawmakers in the chamber, each of whom was invited to add their name to his inoffensive resolution. That works out to a total of about 4% of the caucus.
Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich has been known, from time to time, to share anecdotes that get him into trouble. In 2011, for example, the Ohio governor threw a bit of a tantrum after getting a speeding ticket, lashing out at a police officer for doing his job, calling the officer "an idiot" for no apparent reason.
Keep this in mind while reading a new report from the L.A. Times about Kasich's trip to Southern California this week, where he spoke about his party's outreach to Latino voters.
At a luncheon hosted at a posh Orange County golf club by a local political action committee, Kasich heap praise upon Latinos -- a crucial voting bloc, with 28 million expected to be eligible to vote in the 2016 election -- for family values and work ethic, but then appeared to indirectly conflate Latinos and service-industry workers.
"A lot of them do jobs that they're willing to do and, uh, that's why in the hotel you leave a little tip," said Kasich before a small group inside the Shady Canyon Golf Club, nestled in a gated Irvine neighborhood.
According to the Times' report, Kasich told his audience, "This lady wrote me in my hotel there in L.A. She wrote this note. It said, 'I really want you to know that I care about your stay.' Is that just the greatest thing?
"So, you know, we can learn a lot and she's Hispanic, 'cause I didn't know it at the time, but I met her in the hallway -- asked her if I could get a little more soap,” said a chuckling Kasich.
I imagine the governor was trying to be complimentary, though it didn't quite work.
It's practically impossible to put a positive spin on the state of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) presidential campaign. Over the last month or so, the far-right governor, once seen as a top-tier contender and possible nominee, has seen his support simply collapse.
Walker apparently hoped to use this week's debate to get back on track, but this didn't work out either -- over the course of three hours, Walker fielded only three questions. There were long stretches in which his presence on the stage was an afterthought.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published a report on Team Walker trying to reassure supporters, but the article included this discouraging tidbit.
Angst has built among Walker's top fundraisers and donors in the last two weeks as his poll numbers have plummeted in Iowa and nationwide. Stanley S. Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and top Walker donor, said that while he is sticking with Walker for now, he is considering also giving money to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. All performed well at Wednesday's debate, he said.
"I think I might help some other candidates too," Hubbard said. "There might be some good candidates."
This is pretty much the opposite of what Walker needs right now. Usually, billionaire mega-donors survey a field and choose a candidate. In this case, Hubbard decided to bet on Walker -- until very recently, when Hubbard started thinking (and talking publicly about) quite literally hedging his bets.
The Postpiece added, "Donors have started holding spontaneous conference calls, patching a half-dozen people together on the phone to try to game out what the governor should do." Walker's "verbal missteps," the article said, have also been "a topic of concern among his own loyalists."
Raise your hand if you think all is well in Walker Land.
One of the amazing things about Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign was its indifference towards the truth. Plenty of politicians lie, but Romney had a unique ability to adopt a post-truth posture.
In the traditional model, a politician would make a claim, wait for it to be discredited, and then move on to the next falsehood. Romney preferred to skip the third part -- he'd lie, wait for news organizations to catch the lie, and then effectively declare, "I like the lie, so I'm just going to keep repeating it anyway."
Yesterday, GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina decided to take the Romney model out for a spin. MSNBC's Irin Carmon explained:
At Wednesday's second Republican debate, Carly Fiorina described a secretly recorded video from an anti-abortion group, part of a series that includes Planned Parenthood executives, as showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’” She challenged Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to watch the tapes for themselves.
One problem: No such video exists.
Under the traditional rules, candidates caught telling a falsehood during a nationally televised debate would try to finesse a subtle walk-back. In a case like this, maybe Fiorina would say she was exaggerating for effect, or perhaps speaking metaphorically. Maybe she'd argue that such a scenario could happen, even if she hasn't seen proof.
But yesterday, Fiorina instead stuck to the Romney method of campaigning.
It's generally unfair to judge political candidates on what their supporters say. Campaigns simply have no control over random comments from random voters, no matter how obnoxious they may be.
But candidates and campaigns are responsible for the public responses to those random voters. Take Donald Trump's town-hall event in New Hampshire last night, for example.
At his first public appearance since Wednesday’s GOP primary debate, Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday fielded a question from a supporter in New Hampshire about Muslim extremism. The issue? The questioner described Muslims as a “problem in this country,” before adding, “you know our president is one” – and Trump just let it slide. [...]
Thursday’s questioner went on to ask what Trump would do to curb the growth of extremist training camps. “We’re going to be looking into that,” the real estate mogul responded.
Again, Trump's not responsible for the question. There may be room for a conversation about why the Trump campaign has attracted so many bigoted supporters, but I'm not blaming the candidate for what the voter asked.
That said, Trump clearly heard what the questioner had to say. "We’ve got a problem in this country called Muslims," the man said. "You know our president is one. He’s not even American." Instead of cutting the man off, Trump allowed the voter to add, "But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: when can we get rid of them?"
There were any number of ways the Republican frontrunner could have responded, including taking the high-ground approach John McCain took in 2008. Instead, Trump replied as if the question had merit.
Kevin Drum noted last night, in reference to Trump, "I'm sure he'll be walking this back soon." I assumed the same, expecting the campaign to argue, at a minimum, that when Trump said, "We’re going to be looking into that," he was referring to imaginary U.S. training camps, not Muslim Americans themselves.
But that's not the explanation Team Trump offered, at least not at first.
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.