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Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin prepares to speak at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)

Walker keeps missing leadership opportunities

06/22/15 09:20AM

Though some Republicans were initially reluctant to connect the massacre in Charleston to racism, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) addressed the issue with clarity. "I want to make it abundantly clear that I think the act, the crime that was committed on Wednesday is an act of racism," the Republican presidential hopeful said.
Got it. Would Walker be equally clear about the Confederate battle flag still flying at the South Carolina Statehouse? No, he wouldn't. On Twitter, the Wisconsin governor wrote:
"RE: confederate flag in SC, it's a state issue & I fully expect SC leaders to debate this after the victim's families have time to mourn."
Welcome to June 2015 -- the point at which "It's a state issue" becomes the new "I'm not a scientist."
It's true, of course, that it will be up to South Carolina to decide how and whether to consider changes. There will be no federal proposal on this, and it won't be up to any president or out-of-state governor. Scott Walker will not have a direct say in the outcome.
But he, like all Americans, can have an opinion. Indeed, there's an expectation that presidential candidates will speak their minds, especially on controversial issues, letting the electorate know where they stand on the major issues of the day.
Yes, this may be a state issue, but one need not be in the state to draw a conclusion. South Carolina still officially endorses and celebrates the Confederate battle flag at its state Capitol. Is that right or wrong? Is this a policy that should change or endure? The Republican Party's 2012 nominee wants the flag to come down; do you agree or disagree?
Walker doesn't want to talk about it. He could take this opportunity to lead, but he doesn't want to -- and if this dynamic seems familiar, that's because this isn't the first time it's come up.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 83rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. on June 20, 2015. (Photo by Mathew Sumner/AP)

Clinton: 'Our problem is not all kooks and Klansman'

06/22/15 08:40AM

The political reactions to last week's mass shooting in Charleston were, in too many instances, woefully inadequate. Much of the Republicans' 2016 field, for example, has not only spent the last several days clumsily dodging questions about the Confederate battle flag, but has been equally cautious discussing the shooter's racist motives.
But among high-profile White House hopefuls, not everyone was prepared to sit quietly on the sidelines. MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald reported over the weekend on Hillary Clinton stepping up in ways her GOP rivals would not.
In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina massacre at a historically black church this week, Hillary Clinton vowed Saturday to fight for new gun control laws despite the overwhelming opposition. She also said America must address lingering racism exposed by the shooting. [...]
In a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, Clinton said it "make no sense" that Congress has failed to pass simple gun control laws, like universal background checks. She vowed to keep fighting and promised to achieve reform if elected president.
Amidst caution and reticence from so many national candidates, former Secretary of State did the exact opposite, delivering candid, almost aggressive remarks on matters of race and gun violence.
On the latter, Clinton didn't endorse specific policy measures, so much as she offered support for the kind of reforms the right refuses to even consider. From the transcript made available by the Democratic campaign:
The South Carolina and American flags flying at half-staff behind the Confederate flag erected in front of the State Congress building in Columbia, S.C., June 19, 2015. (Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty)

Bill to take down Confederate flag in S.C. on the way

06/22/15 08:00AM

If Republican presidential candidates are hoping the debate over state-endorsed Confederate battle flags will fade away soon, they're probably going to be disappointed.
State Rep. Doug Brannon, a South Carolina Republican, talked to msnbc's Chris Hayes on Friday night, and the host asked if he's prepared to sponsor a bill to take the flag down. It led to this exchange:
BRANNON: That's correct.
HAYES: That's pretty remarkable. What made you want to do that?
BRANNON: I had a friend die Wednesday night for no reason other than he was a black man. Senator Pinkney was an incredible human being.
Note, the debate won't begin right away. In the interview, Brannon went on to say that his plan is to pre-file the proposal in December, so that the bill will be ready when state lawmakers' return to work in January for their 2016 session.
Again, just to clarify, Brannon is a Republican, which raises the prospect of a bipartisan bill generating quite a bit of attention next year -- just in time for South Carolina's GOP presidential primary on Feb. 20, 2016.
That's almost certainly not what the Republicans' White House hopefuls want to hear. On the contrary, in the face of repeated questioning and considerable public discussion, exactly zero GOP candidates have explicitly called on the state to remove the controversial flag from its Statehouse. Mitt Romney, to his credit, said it's time for the flag to come down -- one of the few positions he's been consistent on for many years -- but Romney, of course, is not a candidate.

Roof's manifesto and other headlines

06/22/15 07:51AM

Dylann Roof photos and manifesto are posted on the web. (NY Times)

Campaign donations linked to white supremacist. (NY Times)

NY prison break: cops swarm towns after cabin break-in. (NBC News)

Pope Francis says weapons manufacturers can't call themselves Christians. (Reuters)

President Obama talks about racism and uses the n-word on podcast interview with Marc Maron. (AP) The podcast. (

Sen. Mitch McConnell promises Senate vote on 20-week abortion ban. (AP)

Workers clean up oil spill on California beaches by hand. (AP)

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Pastor Ronnie Floyd

This Week in God, 6.20.15

06/20/15 09:13AM

First up from the God Machine this week is the annual Southern Baptist Convention, held this week in Georgia, where attendees declared "spiritual warfare" on marriage equality in advance of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported:
The Baptists acknowledged that the court seems likely to legalize same-sex marriage when it rules in the next two weeks, but leaders urged the faithful to stand fast and, indeed, lead the nation in opposition.
"We are in spiritual warfare," said convention president Rev. Ronnie Floyd. "This is not a time for Southern Baptists to stand back."
As a rule, "spiritual warfare" is one of those phrases that should make Americans uncomfortable.
Of course, Floyd was just getting started. If you saw Tuesday's show, you saw this clip of the Southern Baptist leader telling convention attendees, "I want to say to every pastor today of the United States who believes the word of God, this is a Bonhoeffer moment for every pastor if the United States. While some evangelicals -- while some evangelicals may be bowing down to the inception of the inclusiveness of same-sex marriage, or marriage in their churches, we will not back down, nor will we be silent."
For the record, "a Bonhoeffer moment" refers to a German pastor who participated in a plot to kill Hitler during World War II. In other words, as Rachel put it, the head of the Southern Baptists this week said pastors "are going to have an assassinate-Hitler moment if the Supreme Court says that gay people can be married."
As for Floyd's specific plans, he went on to say, "I declare to everyone today as a minister of the gospel, I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies. I completely refuse."
I suppose anything's possible, but I'd remind Rev. Floyd that he's unlikely to receive many invitations to officiate at same-sex weddings, so his refusal seems like a moot point. Call it a hunch.
Also from the God Machine this week:

Links for the June 19, 2015 TRMS

06/20/15 01:48AM

Tonight's guests:

  • Trymaine Lee, MSNBC national reporter
  • South Carolina State Senator Vincent Sheheen
  • Tarek Ismail, former counterterrorism and human rights fellow at Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute

Tonight's links:

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Many see terrorism in church shooting

Many see terrorism in church shooting

06/19/15 09:43PM

Tarek Ismail, former Columbia Law Counterterrorism fellow, talks with Steve Kornacki about what defines an act of terror and how that definition fits the murderous shooting attack on a prayer group in Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel AME Church. watch

Friday's Mini-Report, 6.19.15

06/19/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Gut-wrenching: "Relatives of some of the people gunned down at a historic black church in Charleston faced the accused shooter in an emotionally wrenching court hearing Friday -- and told him they forgive him."
* He confessed: "Dylann Storm Roof appeared in court for the first time Friday afternoon and was charged with murder shortly after confessing to the shooting massacre that left nine people dead at an historic black church here."
* He's right: "President Obama believes the Confederate flag 'belongs in a museum,' the White House said Friday amid calls for it to be taken down, following a mass shooting in South Carolina."
* Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today of the Confederate flag, "It works here, that's what the Statehouse agreed to do." Works for whom?
* A temporary evacuation: "A major gathering of conservative political activists where multiple Republican presidential candidates spoke was interrupted Friday after an apparent threat was made against the conference."
* Have I mentioned lately how dangerous bank runs are? "Desperate Greeks expressed fears for their future Friday as more than $1.1 billion was withdrawn from banks in a single day, pushing the country closer towards a default."
* Fuel efficiency matters: "The Obama administration on Friday announced plans to tighten fuel-economy standards for heavy trucks, buses and vans, taking aim at a transportation sector that contributes a quarter of the greenhouse-gas pollution emitted by U.S. vehicles each year."
* Syria: "The global chemical weapons watchdog says that waste created on board a U.S. ship that destroyed toxic chemicals from Syria's stockpile has been successfully disposed of."
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy

Fake quotes run rampant among GOP candidates

06/19/15 05:01PM

The first hint of trouble came about a month ago, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told supporters that "Thomas Jefferson said it best" when the Founding Father said, "That government is best which governs least."
Thomas Jefferson never said this. Walker fell for a fake quote.
Soon after, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told an audience, "Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about 'restraining the government not the people.'" In reality, Patrick Henry said no such thing.
Soon, the examples really started piling up. Ben Carson pushed a bogus quote from Alexis de Tocqueville and another bogus quote from Thomas Jefferson. Then this week, BuzzFeed lowered the boom.
Many of the quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers in two of Rand Paul's books are either fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context, BuzzFeed News has found. [...]
A heavy theme in Paul's books is that the tea party movement is the intellectual heir to the Founding Fathers, with Paul often arguing he knows what position our country's earliest leaders would have had on certain issues.
That latter point, I'd argue, helps explain why so many Republicans end up using -- or in this case, misusing -- quotes from Founding Fathers that simply don't exist.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks to supporters after announcing that he will run for president in 2016 June 4, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty)

After S.C. 'accident,' Perry downplays gun issue

06/19/15 04:37PM

About a year ago, following a mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California, Joni Ernst was asked whether it was appropriate for her to air TV campaign ads in which she pointed a gun directly at the camera. The right-wing Iowan, who went on to win her U.S. Senate race, replied, "I would not - no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad."
It's true that the murders happened after the ad, but to call the killing spree an "accident" seemed like a poor choice of words.
Today, the word came up again, this time in reference to the massacre in Charleston. Right Wing Watch highlighted Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry's remarks to Newsmax this morning:
[The former Texas governor] said that the president is trying to "take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country."
"This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this -- the president is clear, he doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message," Perry said.
Reality tells a very different story. First, President Obama has never even suggested Americans shouldn't own firearms. There remains an important difference between safeguards that are consistent with the Second Amendment and a knee-jerk assumption that any and all safety measures are attempts to "take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country."
And second, I can think of a lot of words to describe the mass shooting in South Carolina, but "an accident" isn't a phrase that comes to mind. {Update: see below.]
Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the "Road to Majority" conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Jeb Bush doesn't know Charleston shooter's motive

06/19/15 03:05PM

For much of the right, word choice in the wake of deadly violence is everything. Whether and how quickly a public official uses the word "terrorism," for example, is often considered a test of leadership, if not moral clarity. Republicans have spent the last several years insisting use of the phrase "Islamic terrorism" is practically a national security strategy unto itself.
With this in mind, it was of interest to see this Huffington Post report on Jeb Bush's awkward choice of words in response to the massacre in Charleston.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Friday that he isn't sure what motivated a young white man to walk into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night and kill nine people.
"I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes," the former Florida governor said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference.
It's a difficult perspective to understand. Obviously, the details of the case are still coming into focus, but based on literally everything we know, there's no ambiguity as to what was on Dylann Storm Roof's mind on Wednesday night. These murders were the result of racism. It's not an open question. No one should be confused by this obvious detail.
A woman claiming to be the cousin of one of the victims said she spoke with a survivor who said that the shooter "reloaded five different times ... and he just said, 'I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go.'"
Pressed on whether the shootings were because of race, the Republican presidential candidate nevertheless added this morning, "I don't know. Looks like to me it was, but we'll find out all the information. It's clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is."
Why not simply acknowledge what is so plainly true?
MaddowBlog World Cup Corner Episode 5

MaddowBlog World Cup Corner Episode 5

06/19/15 01:52PM

Lucas Vazquez and Kasey O'Brien, TRMS World Cup Correspondents and hard-working interns, recap the U.S. game against Nigeria, and preview their first knockout game. (Photos in this episode: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) watch


About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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