Rachel Maddow reports that televangelist Franklin Graham found a Wells Fargo ad featuring a lesbian couple adopting a deaf girl so out of line with his Christian faith that he moved his money to a new bank ...that also actively supports gay the community. watch
Senator Chris Murphy talks with Rachel Maddow about the comparison between the U.S. involvement in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, and offers his reaction to the deployment of more U.S. personnel to Iraq while Congressional leadership ducks playing a role. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on New Hampshire Republicans' concerns that Fox News debate criteria are unduly influential on the primary process, and developing news that the Union Leader newspaper is now counter-programming a candidate forum for those left out. watch
* Fatality: "An American has been killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces against ISIS in Syria, according to officials and relatives. A State Department official confirmed to NBC News that American citizen Keith Broomfield was killed in Syria."
* Manhunt: "Authorities said Wednesday that the two killers who busted out of a maximum-security New York prison over the weekend might have headed for Vermont. Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont said there was information that the escapees discussed going to 'a camp in Vermont' because the law enforcement presence in that state would be 'cooler' than in New York."
* McKinney: "The suburban Dallas police officer placed on leave after drawing a gun on teenagers at a pool party has resigned. Cpl. Eric Casebolt of the McKinney Police Department turned in his badge amid an ongoing internal investigation of Friday's escalating incident, which was caught on camera."
* Emissions: "The Obama administration on Wednesday said it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, a move that could significantly strengthen President Obama's environmental legacy but that also presents major new challenges for the airline industry."
* California: "The cost of cleaning up the oil spill that fouled beaches last month on the California coast has reached $69 million so far, an official of the pipeline company said Wednesday."
* Georgia: "A Georgia prosecutor dropped a murder charge Wednesday against a 23-year-old woman whose arrest after taking pills to end her pregnancy baffled even abortion opponents."
* Smart move: "A Mississippi school's superintendent who acted to press charges against three people who cheered at a high school graduation has dropped the charges, according to local news organizations."
In theory, it shouldn't be too difficult to organize a debate for the Republicans' 2016 field of presidential candidates. Sure, there are challenges associated with the unprecedented number of GOP White House hopefuls, but networks and party officials should be able to work something out.
And with two months remaining before the first debate, Fox News thought it had come up with a sensible plan: one debate featuring 10 candidates, as dictated by national polling. No muss, no fuss.
Except it's not working at all. Many of the candidates -- including some who are likely to participate -- hate the plan and have raised fair concerns about the value of national polling. Making matters worse, Fox has been less than forthcoming with specific details about how it intends to crunch the numbers and determine debate eligibility.
Today, as msnbc's Aliyah Frumin reported, Fox's plan has even lost the support of leading New Hampshire Republicans.
A group of high-profile New Hampshire GOPers wrote an open letter to Fox News and the Republican National Committee on Wednesday asking them to make their upcoming Aug. 6 presidential debate more inclusive – and not restrict the forum to just 10 members of the massive, emerging field.
The letter, addressed to RNC chairman Reince Priebus and Fox News president Roger Ailes notes that New Hampshire, as the first-in-the-nation primary state, plays an important role in helping to select the presidential nominee.... Those who signed the letter note the logistical challenges of dealing with so many candidates but argue the Fox News rules are "unnecessarily narrow and risk eliminating potentially viable candidates based on unreliable polling" It adds that the margin of error between the 10th candidate and those who don't qualify will likely be statistically insignificant.
Among the GOP officials signing the letter are two former governors, and leaders from the state legislature.
In late May, ISIS militants scored an important victory, capturing Ramadi in western Iraq, and surprising nearly everyone, given that Iraqi forces easily outnumbered their enemy. Soon after, there was considerable talk about the Obama administration pursuing a shift in U.S. strategy.
With this in mind, NBC News reports that the administration is sending "450 more U.S. military troops as trainers to help Iraq's military" as Iraq eyes recapturing Ramadi.
"To improve the capabilities and effectiveness of partners on the ground, the president authorized the deployment of up to 450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province," according to a statement by the White House released on Wednesday. "The president made this decision after a request from Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and upon the recommendation of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dempsey, and with the unanimous support of his national security team."
"These additional U.S. troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the 3,100 U.S. troops who have already deployed to Iraq," the statement continued. U.S. forces are already training Iraqi forces at the al-Assad airbase which is due west of Ramadi.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, this has the practical result of effectively establishing a new U.S. military base in Iraq.
These 450 trainers will join the roughly 3,000 U.S. military personnel who already in Iraq.
Presumably, 10 months into the mission, Congress might take an interest in authorizing this mission -- and perhaps even help shape it -- but for now, GOP leaders have demonstrated little interest in doing actual work.
Thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's (R) far-right vision and national ambitions, Wisconsin is already home to some of the nation's most contentious and divisive political fights. But just off the beaten path, a new debate is taking shape that has nothing to do with the culture war, taxes, or health care.
It has everything to do with a basketball arena.
As sports fans know, the general outline of the story is all too familiar: a sports franchise wants an expensive new venue; it wants taxpayers to pick up the tab; and the team's owners have made clear that without a new home, they'll abandon the community and move the team elsewhere.
That's exactly what's happening in Wisconsin, where the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks want out of the Bradley Center, which opened way back in 1988, and also want a new half-billion-dollar arena. Walker thinks that's a great idea -- and has a plan to offer $250 million in public funds to prevent the Bucks from moving elsewhere. (The cost would be spread out over several years, and include the sale of public land.)
The Huffington Post's Travis Waldron reported last night that even the governor's allies are not on board.
[H]is plan has already drawn criticism from Republican-friendly groups who oppose the idea of handing millions of dollars in public money to private entities. The libertarian Cato Institute and conservative blog RedState have editorialized against it. Even Americans For Prosperity-Wisconsin, a wing of the Koch brothers-backed group that Walker has courted in his run-up to a presidential bid, issued a statement this week opposing the final deal.
Some Wisconsin Republicans have similar qualms. "Let's put it this way: I'm scrutinizing this plan to an extreme level," state Rep. David Murphy (R) told The Huffington Post. "The Bucks staying in Wisconsin would be very good for this state. But I do have a philosophical objection to seeing taxpayer money go to millionaire basketball players and billionaire team owners."
For Walker, it would cost the state too much to lose the team and the economic impact of the new arena would be significant.
The Republican governor just hasn't persuaded many with his case. College of Holy Cross sports economist Victor Matheson told the Huffington Post, "It's the same old story" of "regular sports extortion."
Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* For the second time in less than a week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is launching a fundraising drive off an unflattering article in the New York Times.
* It's going back many years, but in 1995, Jeb Bush argued in one of his books that public shaming would be an effective way to regulate the "irresponsible behavior" of unwed mothers. He even offered praise for the practices depicted in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
* In Ohio's closely watched U.S. Senate race, Public Policy Polling now shows incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) with a narrow lead over former Gov. Ted Strickland (D), 43% to 41%.
* Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced this morning that he has Parkinson's Disease, but the Georgia Republican nevertheless intends to run for re-election next year.
* Rick Santorum isn't going to literally skip the Iowa Straw Poll this year, but he's announced he won't spend any money on it, either. (The practical purpose of the Iowa Straw Poll is to serve as a fundraiser for Iowa Republicans.)
* Speaking of Santorum and Iowa, the former Republican senator attended an event in the Hawkeye State on Monday, which attracted literally just one voter. Ouch.
* Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) hasn't officially announced his 2016 plans yet, but he recently hired longtime Republican staffer John Weaver and Fred Davis -- both veterans of John McCain's campaign team -- which suggests Kasich is moving closer to launching a national bid.
But Arthur Delaney reported for the Huffington Post late yesterday that on one front, Kansas seems to realize it may have gone a little too far recently.
[A recently approved state law] capped ATM withdrawals with welfare debit cards at $25 per day -- an unprecedented restriction. It also banned the cards from being used at a long list of establishments, including swimming pools, fortune tellers and cruise ships. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed the law in April.
Now, prompted by concerns that the cash withdrawal limit went too far and would jeopardize the state's compliance with federal rules, Kansas lawmakers are revisiting that provision. An amendment that cleared the Kansas State Legislature on Saturday would give the state's Department for Children and Family Services leeway to loosen the limit or get rid of it altogether.
It doesn't appear to be a done deal just yet, but undoing what's been done would be a welcome development -- not just because Kansas' new policy may conflict with federal guidelines, but also because it's needlessly cruel.
At a Monday press conference, President Obama was asked about the pending ruling in the King v. Burwell case, and he expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would be responsible. But if it's not, the president added, "Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision."
It took about five minutes for Republicans to reject this resolution. Politicoreported this week:
Senate Republicans quickly shot down that possibility. "Let's be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the administration, Congress will not pass a so-called 'one-sentence' fake fix," said Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the Senate's No. 3 Republican.
Remember when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said, during King oral arguments, that lawmakers would approve a simple legislative fix? Scalia, responding to Solicitor General Don Verrilli, specifically said, "If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and whatnot, yes, I think this Congress would act."
Just two days ago, Senate Republican Policy Chairman John Barrasso made clear that Scalia is mistaken.
In theory, I suspect much of the American mainstream might find this bizarre, if not hard to believe. If a court ruling would cause systemic chaos and strip millions of families of their health care benefits, but there's a simple, one-sentence fix that would prevent anyone from suffering at all, most Americans probably assume that Congress would just take a few minutes, approve the sentence, and prevent imposing deliberate hardship on the country.
Indeed, it probably seems like common sense -- the bare minimum of public service should lead elected officials to at least try to shield the public from pointless, unnecessary, and easily avoided harm.
But in a political environment in which there's a radicalized political party, and that party controls the entirety of the legislative branch, those assumptions need to be recalibrated.
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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