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E.g., 12/23/2014
Senate leaves spending bill for next week

Senate leaves spending bill and more for next week

12/12/14 09:44PM

Frank Thorpe, NBC News Senate producer, talks with Rachel Maddow about the chances for passage of the "CRomnibus" spending bill now in the Senate and what the schedule looks like as Senators abandon the idea of finishing business before the weekend. watch

Coburn blocks veteran suicide prevention bill

Tom Coburn blocking veteran suicide prevention bill

12/12/14 09:30PM

Richard and Susan Selke, the mother and stepfather of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Clay Hunt, talk with Rachel Maddow about the features of a bill named for their son, designed to help prevent veteran suicides, and why Senator Coburn is blocking it. watch

Police misconduct protests unrelenting

No let-up in protests over police misconduct

12/12/14 09:20PM

Rachel Maddow reports that contrary to the expectations of certain Fox News hosts, protests over police misconduct have not subsided since a grand jury returned a no-indictment ruling in the Eric Garner case. Many protests are planned for the weekend. watch

Banks press to keep taxpayer bailout

Banks press to keep risky moves covered by taxpayers

12/12/14 08:59PM

Rachel Maddow explains the basic workings of the bank bailout provision in the spending bill that has sparked the ire of liberals and conservatives, putting taxpayers on the hook should risky debt swaps lead to losses like the lead-up to the 2008 crisis. watch

Ahead on the 12/12/14 Maddow show

12/12/14 07:34PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I) Vermont
  • Richard and Susan Selke, the mother and father of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Clay Hunt
  • Frank Thorp, NBC News Senate producer
  • James Brown, advanced Rachel Maddow Show viewer

Check out a video after the jump for a preview of tonight's show
read more

Friday's Mini-Report, 12.12.14

12/12/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Gun violence in Oregon: "A shooting investigation is underway at Rosemary Anderson High School in North Portland, Oregon, according to local police. Portland police told NBC News that there are a total of three victims, who are all conscious, awake and talking."
 
* Giving the Senate more tine: "Congress now has until Wednesday night, if needed, to complete work on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep most government agencies operating through next summer. The House quietly passed another funding extension by unanimous consent on Friday afternoon to give senators even more time to work through procedural rules, debate and then vote on the spending bill."
 
* Iran: "[I]t is almost an article of faith in business circles that the latest extension is only the postponement of an inevitable thaw between Iran and the rest of the world."
 
* Striking AP poll: "Six in 10 Americans, including half of all Republicans, said they support regulation of carbon dioxide pollution, although they weren't asked how. Nearly half of Republicans said the U.S. should lead the global fight to curb climate change, even if it means taking action when other countries do not. And majorities across party lines said environmental protections 'improve economic growth and provide new jobs' in the long run, a popular Obama administration talking point."
 
* Mischief in Virginia: "Federal prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges in the sudden resignation of a Virginia state senator amid job talks, according to a letter sent Friday to lawyers involved with the case."
 
* Congressional ethics: "The House Ethics Committee released its findings on four separate cases Thursday, a day when few were really paying attention. Everyone on Capitol Hill is focused on squeezing months' worth of work into several days, so the panel's decision to clear two members and reprove two others was like an end-of-the-year document dump. But happy holidays to them! They can stop paying those attorney bills."
 
* Classy: "Yesterday, a small group of right-wing demonstrators gathered in front of the White House at a rally scheduled to coincide with the visit of a number of sheriffs who were in Washington, D.C., to protest President Obama's executive action on immigration.... Among the remarks picked up by the cameraman: 'Hang the lying Kenyan traitor!' and 'We've got rope.'"
 
* True: "[V]iews of Obama are not any worse than were attitudes toward Ronald Reagan at about this time in his second term."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at a constitutional law symposium, Friday, March 14, 2014, in Atlanta.

Justice Scalia's unfortunate entry into the torture debate

12/12/14 03:15PM

When it comes to the issue of torture, it's been a discouraging week. Not only was the Senate Intelligence Committee report a heartbreaking indictment of an American scandal, but the argument surrounding the revelations started breaking far too much along partisan and ideological lines.
 
Antonin Scalia isn't helping. The Associated Press reported today that the far-right Supreme Court justice joined the debate, such as it is, "by saying it is difficult to rule out the use of extreme measures to extract information if millions of lives were threatened."
Scalia tells a Swiss radio network that American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.
 
The 78-year-old justice says he doesn't "think it's so clear at all," especially if interrogators were trying to find a ticking nuclear bomb.
 
Scalia says nothing in the Constitution appears to prohibit harsh treatment of suspected terrorists.
 
The interview took place at the court on Wednesday, the day after the release of the Senate report detailing the CIA's harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists. Radio Television Suisse aired the interview on Friday.
I think some caution is probably in order. The AP ran a five-paragraph article, and it seems entirely plausible, but there's exactly one, six-word quote in that piece. Everything else is a paraphrase, and to offer a detailed response to Scalia's take, we'd need to know exactly what the justice argued.
 
That said, if the AP report is accurate, Scalia's perspective is deeply ridiculous.
Joe Mozloom and Allison Roethke shop for compact fluorescent bulbs at an Ikea store in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

Congress' not-so-bright idea on light bulbs

12/12/14 12:56PM

Way back in 2007, the newly elected Democratic Congress and the Republican White House thought they could work together on a credible energy bill, and they actually had a fair amount of success. One of the provisions, co-authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), dealt with advanced light-bulb standards intended to spur innovation, lower costs, and improve energy efficiency.
 
The package passed with fairly broad support, and George W. Bush signed the bill into law without much fuss.
 
Slowly but surely, the light-bulb policy worked exactly as its authors intended, and as long-time readers may recall, the whole thing looked like a bipartisan success story. Regular consumers, such as those shown above, made the transition to better, more efficient bulbs.
 
But soon after President Obama took office, the Republican posture shifted. Suddenly, the Bush/Cheney energy bill was a classic example of Big Government using authoritarian tactics to "ban" popular sources of light. By 2012, Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh, and a variety of conservative leaders decided the bulb policy was a left-wing scourge worthy of attack.
 
And this year, far-right critics of light-bulb efficiency actually had some success thanks to the $1.1 spending bill known as the "CRomnibus."
The bill blocks new energy efficient standards that would have made incandescent light bulbs obsolete. Consumers had complained about the new requirements.
This is not good news.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 12.12.14

12/12/14 12:00PM

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:
 
* Gov. Chris Christie (R) trails Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical 2016 presidential match-up in New Jersey by 11 points. Making matters slightly worse for the governor, more than half of his constituents do not believe he'd make a good president.
 
* Speaking of home-town crowds, only 28% of Floridians want to see Sen. Marco Rubio (R) run for president in 2016. The same poll showed more support for former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) running, with 44% of Floridians saying they'd like to see him seek national office.
 
* After denying that the group was changing its leadership, the far-right Club for Growth changed its leadership this week, bringing on former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) as its new leader. McIntosh is also the former chair of the Republican Study Committee.
 
* Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is reportedly working on the creation of an "SEC" presidential primary in which several Southern states would hold one, big contest on the same day. Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama are reportedly on board with the idea of a regional, March 1 primary, and Kemp has also reached out to officials in Louisiana and South Carolina.
 
* Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) office announced yesterday that he's headed to Iowa early next week to meet with progressive activists and deliver the keynote speech at a Progress Iowa dinner.
Image: US-POLITICS-IRS-LERNER

House scuttles bipartisan FOIA reforms

12/12/14 11:25AM

The deeply divided House of Representatives doesn't have too many unanimous votes, but earlier this year, the "FOIA Oversight and Implementation Ac" sailed through the chamber without a single opponent. The fact that its chief co-sponsors in the House were Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) -- two people, pictured above, who rarely see eye to eye -- made the bill's popularity that much more noteworthy.
 
And as of this morning, it's dead.
 
As Dylan Byers reported a while back, the point of the bill was to create a "presumption of disclosure" in federal agencies in response to information under the Freedom of Information Act. To the delight of news organizations, it also would have created a "centralized online portal for FOIA requests under the Office of Management and Budget."
 
A nearly identical proposal ran into some resistance in the Senate, but members worked out the kinks and unanimously approved their version on Monday.
 
All the House had to do was endorse the Senate version and it'd be off to President Obama for a signature. That didn't happen.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday night officially declared reforms to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) dead this year, as the House gaveled out of session.
 
And he blamed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for its death. "And Boehner kills #FOIA improvements," Leahy tweeted at a reporter a little before.... Leahy and other advocates unsuccessfully pushed House leadership this week to take up the reforms intended to increase government transparency.
In an ironic twist, the legislation related to government transparency died for reasons the Speaker's office has not yet shared.
Jeb Bush campains for Romney in Florida

The importance of self-awareness in presidential politics

12/12/14 10:42AM

As a rule, I don't have much use for the speculation as to who may or may not run in the 2016 presidential race. We'll find out soon enough, and until then, everything else is speculative and based on rumor.
 
This especially true of Mitt Romney -- remember him? -- who seems to be rewarded every few weeks with a series of new "he might try again!" reports in major outlets.
 
But once in a while, it's worth making an exception. This new Politico piece, for example, reports that Romney is unimpressed with those likely to run in the Republican primaries and is suddenly "open to the idea" to running a third time, following failed bids in 2008 and 2012.
 
The piece includes a lot of unsourced quotes from "people who've spoken to" Romney -- which is to say, take all of this with a grain of salt -- but this tidbit amazed me.
[Romney] has assessed various people's strengths and weaknesses dispassionately, wearing what one ally called his "consultant cap" to measure the field. He has said, among other things, that Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, would run into problems because of his business dealings, his work with the investment banks Lehman Brothers and Barclays, and his private equity investments.
 
"You saw what they did to me with Bain [Capital]," he has said, referring to the devastating attacks that his Republican rivals and President Barack Obama's team launched against him for his time in private equity, according to three sources familiar with the line. "What do you think they'll do to [Bush] over Barclays?"
Hmm.
 
Romney believes his campaign struggled in part because of his controversial private-sector background. He also believes Jeb Bush would be susceptible to similar criticisms in 2016, which is true.
 
But it's that next part that I can't quite wrap my head around: if Bush would struggle because of his financial-sector work, why on earth would Romney run again and invite the identical attacks on himself? Because this worked out so well the last time around?

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