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Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson talks to reporters after speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Carson admits to a major lie about his background

11/06/15 01:23PM

In one of his many books, Ben Carson boasted about meeting Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969, soon after the general ended his tenure in Vietnam. At the time, Carson was a Detroit high-school student and ROTC member, and in the book, he said he was offered a “full scholarship” to West Point after the meeting.
More recently, the claim has also been part of his pitch to voters. A month ago, the Republican presidential hopeful bragged to PBS's Charlie Rose about his ROTC service. "I was offered a full scholarship to West Point," Carson told the national television audience.
As it turns out, this did not happen. Politico has the scoop today.
Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. [...]
West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.... When presented with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.
In an email to Politico, Carson's campaign manager said Carson had been "introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors," and they "told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC."
Apparently, in time, Carson equated this conversation into a "full scholarship" offer to the U.S. Military Academy.
The Politico piece added, "This admission comes as serious questions about other points of fact in Carson’s personal narrative are questioned, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend."
As this relates to the retired neurosurgeon's presidential ambitions, the question is obvious: just how damaging is a revelation like this going to be?
An activist holds up a sign outside the State Department during a protest of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 7, 2014 in Washington.

Obama rejects Keystone XL, left scores major victory

11/06/15 12:38PM

Countless environmental activists invested considerable time and energy into defeating the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. As of this afternoon, they've succeeded -- President Obama has scrapped the project.
The president, citing concerns about the impact on the environment and a political climate that overly-hyped the pipeline's benefit, said the effort "would not serve the interests of the United States."
"While our politics have been consumed with whether this pipeline would increase jobs and lower gas prices, we have increased jobs and lowered gas prices," Obama said.
The announcement doesn't come as too big of a surprise. Earlier this year, congressional Republicans made approval of the Keystone pipeline one of their top legislative priorities of the year -- in the Senate, GOP lawmakers gave it the S. 1 bill number, intended to help capture its significance to them -- putting a bill on the president's desk in February to force his hand and move the project forward. Obama vetoed it.
As we discussed at the time, at issue is a proposal to build a pipeline to transport oil, extracted from tar sands, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Critics have said the tar-sands process is environmentally hazardous, which is true. They’ve said the project would have no real impact on already low gas prices, which is also true. And they’ve said Keystone would be largely meaningless to the U.S. unemployment rate, which is already approaching an eight-year low, and which, once again, is completely true.
And on the other side of the aisle, Republicans have an equally straightforward rejoinder: they really, really, really like this project. Why? Because they really, really, really do.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 11.6.15

11/06/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In Iowa, the new CNN poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination, 55% to 37%. Martin O'Malley is a distant third with 3%.
* The Department of Homeland Security has authorized Secret Service protection for Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
* Marco Rubio yesterday pitched the idea of a vast expansion of the U.S. military. How he intends to pay for such an idea while also pushing for trillions of dollars in tax breaks remains a mystery.
* Jeb Bush's not-so-subtle shots at Rubio of late have apparently alienated Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist and one of Bush's top Florida fundraisers, who's now parted ways with Team Jeb.
* Ben Carson was asked yesterday for his thoughts on his new rap-themed radio ad. "Well, there are — there are people in the campaign who felt that that was a good way to do things. And, you know, they're entitled to their opinions about such things," Carson said. "You know, I support, you know, them in doing that. But, you know, I probably would have taken a little different approach."
* Sen. Rand Paul's new book isn't exactly flying off the shelves.
* Republican insiders are increasingly concerned about Sen. John Boozman's (R) re-election campaign in Arkansas next year. The incumbent has made little effort to raise money for the race and hasn't bothered to create much of a campaign infrastructure. Boozman, who had some health issues last year, was first elected in 2010.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) speaks during a news conference July 26, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Vitter candidacy is splitting the GOP in key 2015 race

11/06/15 11:20AM

There was a lot of chatter this week about Republicans having a great Election Day 2015, but at its core, there was really only one key victory: Matt Bevin's (R) unexpectedly easy win in Kentucky's gubernatorial race. It was an important race, and Democrats had been optimistic about their chances, but the GOP flipped the seat in their favor.
Elsewhere, however, the news for Dems wasn't quite as bad, and there's a very real possibility that the sting of defeat in Kentucky may be eased by a possible victory in Louisiana. The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported yesterday:
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, one of three Republican opponents of Democrat John Bel Edwards in the governor's race primary, crossed party lines Thursday (Nov. 5) to endorse Edwards over Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter.
"The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term," Dardenne said in making his announcement. "David Vitter's governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign. I cannot and will not sit idly by and refuse to speak truth to power."
Note, Dardenne, the #2 Republican in the state, was himself a gubernatorial candidate this year, but he came up short against Sen. David Vitter (R). The expectation was that Republican officials would rally behind their nominee for the good of the party as the race headed to a runoff.
But the lieutenant governor has decided he just can't bring himself to back Vitter -- and he won't defend outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) failures, either.
The Times-Picayune added, "Endorsing a Democrat in a high-stakes general election carries significant risk for the Republican Dardenne's future political career, particularly if Vitter is ultimately elected governor." But Dardenne said he doesn't much care -- he's not running for anything again anyway.
To put it mildly, GOP leaders are not happy.
A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this September 15, 2008 file photo.  About 30 percent of shareholders of both Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp backed calls for more disclosure surrounding their use of hydraulic fracturing May...

Exxon faces probe over alleged climate falsehoods

11/06/15 10:40AM

Following up on our previous coverage, powerful evidence surfaced recently that ExxonMobil not only recognized climate change decades ago, it put those beliefs into action, basing company decisions on the available science. At the same time, however, the oil giant urged policymakers around the world not to address the intensifying climate crisis that its own scientists and engineers recognized.
Two weeks ago, some congressional Democrats concluded there are grounds for a federal criminal investigation and asked the Justice Department to consider the matter. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) even raised the prospect of a civil RICO investigation targeting ExxonMobil if the company “actively misled” the public.
Federal law enforcement has not yet responded to the “Exxon Knew” pressure, though MSNBC's Tony Dokoupil reported yesterday on a notable state probe that's just getting underway.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched the probe late Wednesday (and CNBC confirmed it Thursday afternoon), subpoenaing the company – now known as the ExxonMobil – and demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents related to climate research. [...]
At issue in the New York state investigation is whether ExxonMobil – one of the world’s biggest oil companies – confirmed the climate destabilizing role of carbon emissions but misled the public about what they knew. Investors are also a potentially wronged party: the New York attorney general is looking at whether the company prepared shareholders for how a policy response to climate change could hurt the company’s oil business.
“We have received a subpoena for production of documents relating to climate change from the attorney general of New York and are assessing our response,” Exxon said in a statement to CNBC. “We unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research contained in media reports that are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Republican presidential hopefuls Ben Carson and Donald Trump participate in the Republican Presidential Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Sept. 16, 2015. (Photo by Frederic J. BrownAFP/Getty)

Latest polls show Amateur Duo still dominating in Iowa

11/06/15 10:01AM

Most recent polling in Iowa shows Ben Carson leading the Republican presidential pack, but two new statewide polls show a certain New York land developer in a surprisingly strong position.
Let's start with a new poll from CNN.
1. Donald Trump: 25% (up three points from August)
2. Ben Carson: 23% (up nine points)
3. Marco Rubio: 13% (up eight points)
4. Ted Cruz: 11% (up three points)
5. Jeb Bush: 5% (unchanged)
The remaining candidates each have support below 5%. Mike Huckabee, in particular, has seen a sharp drop off in Iowa -- a state he won with relative ease in the 2008 race -- where his support is down to just 2%.
As for the increasingly evident GOP top tier, note that the combined support for Cruz and Rubio does not quite reach Trump's standing, at least not in this survey.
On the issues, the same poll found Iowa Republicans trust Trump to an almost ridiculous degree on the economy and illegal immigration. Carson leads among GOP Iowans on social issues and the candidate whose values best represent voters' values.
A third of Iowans see Trump as the most electable Republican in the field.
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to voters at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum Sept. 18, 2015 in Greenville, SC. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty)

Debate lineup shakes up Republican presidential race

11/06/15 09:32AM

It wasn't too long ago that Chris Christie was quietly seen by insiders as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. In some 2013 polling -- two full years ago -- GOP voters were asked to look ahead to the 2016 cycle, and New Jersey's Republican governor was easily the party's star.
A lot has changed since. NBC News reported last night, for example, on the lineup for next week's debate for the Republican presidential field.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will not be on the main debate stage when Republican presidential candidates square off for their fourth debate next week.
Fox Business Network announced Thursday that Christie, who has made the main stage at the previous three debates, will be in the undercard debate for the low-polling candidates. It is a blow to the Garden State governor who has seen a slight uptick in the polls after a strong performance at the CNBC debate last month.
The news couldn't come at a worse time for the governor. Recent polling suggests Christie's standing in New Hampshire is improving, which is the kind of movement the candidate could point to when reaching out to potential supporters and donors. But the question now is whether powerful GOP players would even give a second look to a candidate who can't qualify for a prime-time debate hosted by a Fox network.
Of course, Christie isn't the only one confronted with bad news. Mike Huckabee also found himself booted from the main stage, relegated to the kids-table table with the likes of Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal.
The developments were even worse for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) -- two of the most experienced candidates in the entire 2016 cycle -- who learned last night that their support is so woeful, Fox won't even let them compete in the kids-table gathering.
Christian Ferry, Graham's campaign manager, said in a statement last night, "It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day. In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets.”

Job growth soars in the fall, unemployment drops

11/06/15 08:43AM

For those rooting for the American job market, it was a discouraging summer. After a strong showing in May, new job totals fell steadily in June, July, and August, followed by another unexpectedly weak showing in September. Would the data bounce back in the fall?
As a matter of fact, yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 271,000 jobs in October, far better than the 181,000 expected by economists. The overall unemployment rate inched lower to 5.0%, which is the lowest it's been since February 2008, nearly eight years ago.
This, coupled with improvement in wages, makes today's jobs report the best of 2015.
In terms of revisions, August’s job totals were revised up, from 136,000 to 153,000, while September's totals were revised down slightly, from 142,000 to 137,000. Combined, that's an additional 12,000 previously unreported jobs. Not bad.
Overall, the U.S. has added 2.8 million jobs over the last 12 months -- 2.7 million in the private sector alone -- which is quite good, and 2.06 million jobs this calendar year. October was the 61st consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 68th consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson addresses the National Press Club Newsmakers Luncheon Oct. 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Carson blasts 'secular progressives,' defends bogus claims

11/06/15 08:00AM

It was an amazing trifecta for Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson: he made three ridiculous claims, about three very different subjects, all over the course of about half a day. But it was his defense for one of the three that continues to stand out.
The retired neurosurgeon said, for example, "Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” This, of course, is ridiculously untrue. Carson soon after made some specific claims about Medicare and Medicaid, which were also demonstrably wrong.
But it's hard to look past Carson's beliefs about the Egyptian pyramids. As the GOP candidate sees it, archeological and physical evidence should be ignored because, in Carson's mind, the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain.
And yesterday, the Republican presidential hopeful continued to defend his alternate version of reality.
"Some people believe in the Bible, like I do, and don't find that to be silly at all, and believe that God created the Earth and don't find that to be silly at all." Carson told reporters in Miami during a stop on his book tour. "The secular progressives try to ridicule it any time it comes up and they're welcome to do that."
In other words, as Carson sees it, there should be two competing versions of historical and archeological facts. One can be based on evidence, research, and scholarship, though Carson looks down on such an approach, leaving it to "secular progressives," as if reality has some kind of liberal bias.
The other is based on what Carson wants to believe is true. Indeed, not for the first time, the GOP candidate has acted as if his religious beliefs are some kind of trump card to be played when he can't defend bogus claims.
Yesterday, however, a couple of Carson's national rivals actually ridiculed him for his odd approach to reality.

Citations for the November 5, 2015 TRMS

11/06/15 01:47AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Scott Huffmon, political science professor at Winthrop University
  • Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party
  • Congressman James Clyburn
  • Steve Kornacki, MSNBC political correspondent

Tonight's links:

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Democratic growth in the South a long game

Democrats take long view of growth in the South

11/05/15 11:23PM

Scott Huffmon, political science professor at Winthrop University, talks with Rachel Maddow in Charlotte, North Carolina about how the politics in North Carolina differ from its neighbor to the south and the politics of the South more broadly. watch

Rock Hill, SC, witness to history and change

Rock Hill, SC, witness to history, change, and the Friendship 9

11/05/15 09:48PM

Rachel Maddow tells the story of pioneering civil rights activists, The Friendship Nine, who chose to serve hard time on a chain gang rather than pay bail after being arrested for sitting at a lunch counter, and this year, decades later, had their convictions overturned but kept on the books by Rock Hill, South Carolina authorities as a... watch


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