Former First Lady Barbara Bush publicly expressed skepticism last year about yet another member of her immediate family running for president, but she's since changed her mind. Last week, she threw her name behind a new fundraising campaign for one of her sons, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R), with the launch of the "Run Jeb Run Fund."
She's not the only member of the family helping the Florida Republican fill his already overflowing campaign coffers. The Dallas Morning Newsreported yesterday:
Texas GOP donors have lined up for a Jeb Bush political committee fundraiser in Dallas on Wednesday that will include a rare political appearance by his brother. The invitation asks for donations or for attendees to raise up to $100,000 per couple.
The reception on behalf of the Right to Rise Super PAC will be held at the home of bank executive Gerald Ford and his wife Kelli.... Many of those hosting the Texas event have also filled the Rolodex of George W. Bush.
To be sure, events like these don't come as a surprise. Jeb Bush has focused much of his energies of late on fundraising, and by all appearances, the furious push for cash is going extremely well -- there's little doubt that the former governor will lead the GOP presidential field when it comes to campaign finances.
But let's not forget that it was just last month when Jeb Bush delivered a big speech in Chicago in which he tried to put some distance between himself and his controversial last name. "I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make," he said. "But I am my own man -- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences."
Left unsaid: "Now, if you don't mind, my mom and brother would like you to start contributing to my super PAC."
The White House's frustration over Senate Republicans' handling of Loretta Lynch's nomination is becoming more obvious. President Obama used his latest weekly address to urge senators to be responsible towards the highly qualified Attorney General nominee, and in an interview Friday with Sam Stein, the president said, "You don't hold attorney general nominees hostage for other issues. This is our top law enforcement office."
The Senate's GOP majority evidently feels differently. Bloomberg News reported last night:
U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch probably won't get a Senate confirmation vote until at least mid-April, five months after she was nominated, because the chamber plans to spend this week debating its budget proposal.
"Budget all week," Don Stewart, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in an e-mail Monday when asked whether the Senate would vote on Lynch before taking a two-week spring break until April 13.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday, "The continued delay is unconscionable."
Note, the problem is not that Republicans have imposed a blanket blockade on all confirmation votes. On the contrary, since Lynch was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support on Feb. 26, the GOP majority has confirmed four Obama administration nominees, including one yesterday. Republicans have also allowed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's nomination to reach the floor, despite the fact that Carter was nominated after Lynch.
But the A.G. nominee, for reasons Republicans have struggled to explain, is being denied an up-or-down vote, even though Lynch appears to have the votes necessary for confirmation.
All of this has unfolded despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) public vow that he would allow a vote on Lynch last week -- a commitment he has since broken.
Rachel Maddow talks with Eliza Jane Schaeffer, a student at Henry Clay High School, and Rachel Belin, a teacher and student adviser, about the bill they hope to pass in Kentucky and the cynical resistance they've encountered in the state legislature. watch
Rachel Maddow explains why the 2016 presidential campaign launched today by Sen. Ted Cruz is really a bid to be named a more moderate candidate's vice president. Todd Gillman, Dallas Morning News DC bureau chief, discusses the timing of the announcement. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on vandalism done to the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, as new, "more militant" protesters have arrived to harass the clinic and its clients, and as legal tricks to undermine abortion rights are failing in several courts. watch
* Unexpected contrition: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized Monday for comments he made in the final hours of last week's election, in which he warned of a left-wing conspiracy to bus in Arab Israeli voters, who he said were voting 'in droves.'"
* On a related note, one of today's under-appreciated stories: "White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made clear in a speech to a left-leaning Israel advocacy group that President Barack Obama isn't letting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook for his dismissal of a two-state solution."
* Yemen: "The evacuation of 125 United States Special Operations advisers from Yemen in the past two days is the latest blow to the Obama administration's counterterrorism campaign, which is already struggling with significant setbacks in Syria, Libya and elsewhere in the volatile region, American officials said Sunday."
* Climate crisis: "According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we're now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for the U.S. east coast."
* UVA: "After a long investigation, the Charlottesville Police Department said it is unable to substantiate many of the claims made in an explosive November Rolling Stone article, which alleged that a gang rape occurred on the University of Virginia campus and that the school's administration looked the other way."
* Florida: "The FBI's civil rights division will meet this week with Fort Lauderdale police officials after an internal investigation led to the firing of three police officers over racial slurs used in text messages and a mock movie trailer. A fourth police officer, who created the video titled 'The Hoods,' resigned before the completion of the five-month Internal Affairs investigation, authorities said."
* No one noticed? "The cover of the University of North Georgia's course catalogue does not beat around the bush: Featuring a stock photo that shows two white men in suits beating a woman and a black man at a race, it proves that you can automatically win anything you put your mind to, as long as you are a white man."
Last fall, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) voter-ID law became one of election's biggest fiascos. Despite the fact that there were no documented incidents in modern Wisconsin history of a voter committing voter fraud, Republican officials in Wisconsin sought to impose a needlessly difficult ID law that could, according to independent estimates, disenfranchise roughly 300,000 legal, eligible Wisconsin voters.
All to address a problem that doesn't exist.
In October, just weeks before Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of the state measure, kicking the issue to the new year. For voting-rights advocates, it was a temporary reprieve, which appears to have ended today -- the high court announced today it will not consider the case on the merits.
As a practical matter, this means the voter-suppression tactic will be implemented in next year's election cycle, thanks to a ruling from the 7th Circuit. That said, msnbc's Emma Margolin noted that some voting-rights proponents believe today's inaction "may be a blessing in disguise."
As Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen writes, taking the Wisconsin case -- Frank v. Walker -- to the nation's highest court "divided the civil rights community." The Department of Justice did not file a supportive brief urging the Supreme Court to take the case. And Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University, recently told msnbc's Zack Roth that it was a mistake for the Wisconsin plaintiffs to ask the Supreme Court for review, rather than wait for a different case out of Texas to make its way through the appeals process.
That's because Wisconsin officials, who lost at the trial court level but prevailed in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, stood a very good chance at swaying a majority of the Supreme Court justices to uphold the voter ID law and set a strong precedent in favor of similar measures.
Legal strategizing can get tricky. For voting-rights advocates, the broader goal is to have the Supreme Court hear the case that gives voting proponents the best chance for sweeping success. It's not that these progressive voices like the Wisconsin law -- they don't -- it's just that they believe it's in voters' interest for the justices to hear a different case.
There were multiple reports a couple of weeks ago that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a longtime climate denier, has effectively muzzled state officials when it comes to global warming. Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claim to have been ordered not to use the terms "climate change" or "global warming" in any official communications.
Scott and his press office have insisted that the reports are wrong and there's been no such order curtailing DEP officials' word choice. In the governor's defense, there's no documented evidence to the contrary -- only anecdotal claims from a wide variety of former employees at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, each of whom said they received unwritten instructions about climate-related words to avoid.
The story took an unsettling turn last week when a DEP employee was "reprimanded, sent home and told to get medical clearance before returning to the office" after criticizing the Keystone XL pipeline project and talking about his concerns surrounding the climate crisis.
But as the Miami Heraldreported, the story also took a far more amusing turn at a state Senate hearing last week.
Gov. Rick Scott's chief of emergency management, Bryan Koon, testifying Thursday before the Legislature, had a half-dozen chances to use the term "climate change."
But he would not say the C-words.
To be sure, it's sad to see a state official who oversees emergency management go to great lengths to avoid using the words "climate change" out loud at a public hearing, but in this case, hearing lawmakers and the audience literally laughing out loud at the Scott administration official, was also kind of hilarious.
Ask a typical congressional Republican why he or she still wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and you'll likely get an economic answer: "Obamacare," according to the law's critics, is a "job-killer."
More than 90 new health-care companies employing as many as 6,200 people have been created in the U.S. since Obamacare became law, a level of entrepreneurial activity that participants say may be unprecedented for the industry. [...]
The health law, which took full effect in 2014, represents the most dramatic change to the U.S. health system in 50 years. Entrepreneurs, including some from within President Barack Obama's administration, have founded companies that target employers, health insurers, hospitals, doctors and consumers looking to navigate new requirements and possibilities.
Bloomberg talked to Bob Kocher, a doctor and former Obama adviser who is now a partner at New York-based venture capital firm Venrock Associates. "The claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job-killer is just factually untrue," Kocher said, adding that the ACA has "created the most enormous opportunity to build health-care companies ever."
The argument from conservatives wasn't just limited to the health-care sector. The right said "Obamacare" would, of course, undermine job growth throughout the medical system, as well as stunting job growth throughout the economy.
We already knew the latter was wrong -- the job market's hot streak started in March 2010, the same month the ACA was signed into law. Last year was the first full year for ACA implementation and it was the best year for American job creation since the '90s.
But we're also learning that the right underestimated the degree to which the Affordable Care Act would spur "entrepreneurial activity" in the health care sector, too.
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:
* Why did Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launch his presidential campaign today? Roll Callreports the Affordable Care Act's fifth anniversary had something to do with it.
* To the delight of the DSCC, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) announced overnight that he's running for the U.S. Senate in Florida, hoping to fill the seat Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will likely give up to run for president. Murphy, who turns 32 next week, is perhaps best known for narrowly defeating former Rep. Allen West (R) in 2012 in a competitive South Florida swing district.
* Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke with Republican donors over the weekend in South Florida, and the New Jersey Republican urged them to be wary of presidential hopefuls who've flip-flopped on important issues. He was likely referring to Gov. Scott Walker (R), though Christie is not without vulnerabilities on the issue -- the New Jersey governor used to be pro-choice.
* Though he's officially undecided about 2016, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) will make his first trip to New Hampshire this week to test the waters.
* In fundraising news, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised nearly $5.2 million in February, which helped pay down the committee's 2014 debts. The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, raised just a little less, collecting $5 million last month.
Sometimes, where a presidential candidate launches his or her campaign is every bit as significant as what's said in the campaign kick-off. In February 2007, for example, Barack Obama began his journey to the White House where Abraham Lincoln denounced slavery a century and a half earlier.
"[I]n the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States," Obama said.
The literal, physical place carried its own significance, and was intended to convey a thematic message to the country about what kind of candidate Obama wanted to be.
Similarly, eight years later, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched his presidential campaign this morning at Liberty University, an evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, created by the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell. And this, too, carries its own significance, conveying a specific message about the Republican senator.
As longtime readers may recall, Liberty University is burdened with an ironic name. The restrictions placed on Liberty's students are the stuff of legend – its code of conduct dictates that students are prohibited from seeing R-rated movies, listening to music that is not “in harmony with God’s word,” drinking alcohol, dancing, or kissing. Women on campus are prohibited from wearing dresses or skirts “shorter than the top of the knee."
At one point, Liberty even banned students who wanted to form an on-campus Democratic Party group.
A couple of years ago, however, Liberty announced that students would be allowed to carry loaded firearms on campus.
Liberty University, the largest religion-affiliated U.S. school, is loosening restrictions for carrying firearms on its Lynchburg, Va., campus.
Liberty students who have an easy-to-obtain Virginia concealed carry permit and permission from campus police will now be able to carry a loaded gun into classrooms, according to a March 22 revision to school policy.
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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