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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a crowd during a presidential forum in Aiken, S.C., Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo by Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters)

Trump in '08: Clinton would 'make a good president'

07/12/16 11:21AM

It's gone largely overlooked, but several years ago, Donald Trump had a radio venture in which he'd record brief audio commentaries for stations that paid to air them. The Wall Street Journal obtained some of the recordings:
Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton these days, but eight years ago, in the midst of the 2008 Democratic primary race, he said she would "make a good president" and a lot of people thought pairing her with Barack Obama would be a "dream ticket."
 
His kind words for Mrs. Clinton came in a previously unreported clip from "Trumped!," a syndicated radio feature that aired from 2004 to 2008 and consisted of a daily commentary of about 60 seconds from the real-estate mogul.
The article didn't specify exactly how many of the recordings the Journal tracked down -- the piece referenced "a handful" -- but the newspaper uncovered was pretty interesting. In addition to praising Clinton's presidential qualifications, Trump reportedly praised Saudi Arabia's divorce laws because they favor men, expressed surprise that woman disapprove of one-night stands, and reflected on women entertainers who, Trump argued, became less attractive after they got married.
 
It's a stretch to think a report like this will have a significant impact on the presidential race, but I am curious about something: were Republican opposition-research teams completely incompetent in 2015?
This file photo taken on April 28, 2016 shows US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

Paul Ryan's anti-Clinton gambit comes up empty

07/12/16 10:44AM

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), desperate to maintain interest in Hillary Clinton's email protocols, came up with a new idea. The Republican leader formally appealed to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, urging him to prohibit Clinton from receiving intelligence briefings ahead of the election.
 
It didn't take long for Clapper to see through the partisan nonsense and write a response.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's request to block Hillary Clinton from receiving classified intelligence briefings was denied by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday.
 
In a letter to Ryan, Clapper wrote that he did "not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate."
A spokesperson for Speaker Ryan said he and his staff "obviously disagree with the decision." Perhaps, though it's hard to imagine they really care as much as they're pretending to. Ryan may yet move on legislation to restrict Clinton's access to sensitive information, though it'll never become law, and it'll have to wait until after Congress returns from its lengthy summer break.
 
Oddly enough, there are officials who have little to do with the election -- some in intelligence agencies, some Bush/Cheney administration veterans -- who have expressed concern about sharing sensitive information with Donald Trump, who isn't exactly known for his careful restraint. The House Speaker apparently has no similar concerns.
 
Regardless, Ryan's anti-Clinton scheme didn't pan out. Maybe the Republican perjury gambit will be more successful? The Washington Post reported late yesterday:
Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media along the U.S. Mexico border during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty)

Even Trump's allies don't believe he'll keep his promises

07/12/16 10:00AM

Jeb Bush has kept a relatively low profile in recent months, though the one-time frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination hasn't changed his mind about the rival who defeated him. In fact, in the former Florida governor's latest MSNBC interview, Bush shared a prediction of sorts with Republican strategist Nicole Wallace.
 
Donald Trump's supporters, Bush said, will "feel betrayed" when his promises go unfulfilled. He added that despite all of Trump's loud rhetoric, "there isn't going to be a wall built. And Mexico's not going to pay for it. And there's not going to be a ban on Muslims.... This is all like an alternative universe that he created. The reality is, that's not going to happen."
 
Of course, Jeb Bush is a consistent critic of Trump, so one might expect him to say the presumptive GOP nominee won't keep his promises. But the funny part of all of this is that Trump's allies say largely the same thing. Politico reported yesterday, for example, on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who lobbied to be considered for his party's vice presidential nomination, conceding that Trump's most notable policy goal will never come to fruition.
"I'm for Donald Trump, and he says we're going to build a wall, the Mexicans are gonna pay for it," Perry told Snapchat's Peter Hamby on "Good Luck America."
 
Hamby remarked, "It's not going to happen."
 
"Well, it's not," Perry said, explaining, "It's a wall, but it's a technological wall, it's a digital wall."
The Texas Republican added, in reference to the idea that there will some imposing border wall, "[L]isten, I know you can't do that."
 
There's a certain irony to all of this. An unexpected consensus has emerged: Trump critics and Trump supporters are effectively in agreement that the GOP's presumptive nominee talks a lot, but if you're counting on Trump actually implementing his agenda, you're going to be disappointed.
 
The difference is, Trump detractors intend for this to be criticism. Trump's allies just don't seem to care whether the candidate's rhetoric is believable or not.
President Barack Obama returns via the Marine One helicopter to the White House in Washington, June 2, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Obama renews push for a public option in unexpected forum

07/12/16 09:20AM

Readers of the Journal of the American Medical Association (or JAMA) probably expect to read articles from medical professionals. As Reuters reported, the new issue includes a piece from a very high-profile author from an entirely different field.
President Barack Obama urged Congress on Monday to reconsider offering a government-run health insurance option alongside private plans on the exchanges created as part of his national healthcare law.
 
In an article published in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Obama said the Affordable Care Act had made much progress toward improving access to healthcare and the quality and affordability of care.
The entirety of the article is online here -- Obama is the first sitting president to be published in JAMA -- and it covers quite a bit of ground. The piece touts the ACA's many successes, while also presenting a variety of ideas about possible improvements.
 
But in terms of basic political salience, Obama's renewed support for a public option is probably the most notable thing in his JAMA piece. "[B]ased on experience with the ACA, I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited," the president wrote.
 
And if you feel like you've been hearing quite a bit more about the public option lately, after years of relative silence, it's not your imagination.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks past the guns of the USS Iowa after speaking on the battleship in San Pedro, Los Angeles, Calif., United States Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Donald Trump is serious about privatizing veterans' care

07/12/16 08:40AM

In the last presidential election, Mitt Romney briefly flirted with a provocative idea. On Veterans' Day, the 2012 Republican nominee said, "Sometimes you wonder, would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition" into veterans' care?
 
It didn't take long for a spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars to explain the VFW "doesn't support privatization of veterans' health care," and Romney quickly retreated. The former governor was just kicking around a hypothetical scenario, Romney said at the time, not pitching a policy he'd pursue.
 
Four years later, Republicans are less concerned about a confrontation with veterans and their advocates. In May, Donald Trump floated the idea of pushing VA health care toward privatization, and as the Wall Street Journal reported, the presumptive 2016 nominee went even further yesterday.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Monday said that as president he would press for an extensive overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs, making it a more privatized system of care and giving veterans a direct line to the White House.
 
During a campaign speech in Virginia Beach, Va., Mr. Trump presented a 10-point plan for the embattled department, calling for greater privatization of veterans' care than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
As regular readers may recall, this came up a few times during the GOP presidential primaries, with several Republican presidential contenders including at least partial VA privatization plans in their platforms -- Ben Carson went so far as to say, “We don’t need a Department of Veterans Affairs” -- despite the VA’s record of excellence, and the fact that the VA system as a whole "outperforms the rest of the health care system by just about every metric. Surveys also show that veterans give VA hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction than patients give private-sector hospitals."
 
But if anyone thought the party's national ticket would move away from the idea as the general election drew closer, think again. The one idea almost universally opposed by veterans' advocates is the one idea Trump is most eager to tout.
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Republican platform labels pornography 'a public health crisis'

07/12/16 08:00AM

It was just a few months ago when state policymakers in Utah approved a measure condemning pornography as a "public health crisis." Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed a resolution, approved by the GOP-led legislature, calling for new policies to combat the porn scourge.
 
And at the time, much of the country had a good laugh about this, recognizing that Utah is one of the nation's most conservative states, more likely than most to overreact to a pornography "crisis" that doesn't really exist. But as Yahoo News reported yesterday, Republicans in Utah evidently aren't alone on the issue.
Republican delegates unanimously adopted an amendment to their draft platform Monday morning that called pornography "a public health crisis" and a "public menace" that is destroying lives.
 
The language went further in its condemnation of porn than the 2012 GOP platform, which condemned child pornography and encouraged the enforcement of obscenity and pornography laws.
The new amendment, which will be added to the national party's 2016 platform, reads, "Pornography, with his harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life [sic] of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children's safety and wellbeing."
 
Now take a moment to read that exact same quote, only this time, replace "pornography" with "gun violence." The national Republican Party's platform committee unanimously approved the porn measure yesterday; is there any doubt it would have unanimously rejected the same language if it pertained to guns?
 
The point of a national party's platform is to articulate its core values and priorities. Unfortunately, the RNC platform is doing exactly that.
Bayh tries lobbyist/Senate revolving door

Bayh tries lobbyist/Senate revolving door

07/11/16 11:07PM

Rachel Maddow reports on former Senate Evan Bayh's campaign to win back a seat in the Senate after he left to become a lobbyist, and his campaign in the context of Indiana as a swing state and the partisan balance of the Senate. watch

A VP run with Trump could help Pence and GOP

A VP run with Trump could help Pence and Indiana GOP

07/11/16 09:42PM

Niki Kelly, political reporter for the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, talks with Rachel Maddow about the possibility of Indiana Governor Mike Pence being chosen as Donald Trump's running mate and how that could spare him and Indiana Republicans from a difficult gubernatorial race this year. watch

Dallas looks for meaning in deadly tragedy

Dallas looks for meaning in deadly tragedy

07/11/16 09:14PM

Clay Jenkins, Dallas County judge, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the residents of Dallas are trying to use the tragic shooting deaths of five police officers as an opportunity to improve as a community and not descend into hatred and bitterness. watch

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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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