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Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers during a presentation at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico, Jan. 8, 2016. (Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Having an Ambassador to Mexico sure would be helpful right now

01/11/16 09:20AM

Not long after Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was apprehended in Mexico, attention turned to an important question: would the notorious drug lord be extradited to the United States? As of now, that seems likely.
A day after fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was captured, the Mexican government has said it aims to fulfill an extradition request from the United States for the notorious cartel kingpin, a source within the Mexican attorney general's office told NBC News on Saturday.
 
Guzman, who was captured Friday after a six-month manhunt, faces charges in numerous jurisdictions across the United States.
The political pressure is already intensifying. Republicans who cower in fear at the idea of bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to American soil are, oddly enough, now demanding that the Obama administration do everything possible to bring the infamous drug kingpin to face justice in American courts.
 
One of the more prominent voices is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who on Friday called on the White House to act "immediately."
 
Perhaps the process would move forward more smoothly if the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico worked with Mexican officials to expedite extradition? Probably, but there's a hitch: there is no U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, because Marco Rubio refuses to let us have one.
Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/AP)

Latest polls send shudders through Republican establishment

01/11/16 08:40AM

The Iowa caucuses are just three weeks from today, and the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, released over the weekend, offers little hope to the Republican establishment, waiting for its presidential nominating race to change. Here are the latest preferences from Hawkeye State Republicans:
 
1. Ted Cruz: 28%
2. Donald Trump: 24%
3. Marco Rubio: 13%
4. Ben Carson: 11%
 
The remaining candidates are each at 5% or lower. The results are very similar to the findings from the latest Fox News poll, released late Friday, which found Cruz leading Trump in Iowa, 27% to 23%, followed by Rubio at 15%.
 
To be sure, conditions can change over the course of three weeks -- the GOP candidates will participate in two more debates between now and Feb. 1 -- but the polling in Iowa has been fairly steady since early December, and Republican insiders eager to see Cruz and/or Trump falter have reason to feel anxious. Indeed, both major polls show the top two with at least 50% of the vote.
 
The picture in New Hampshire is noticably different:
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks speaks to reporters after a luncheon May 21, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty)

Michigan's Snyder facing nation's most serious scandal

01/11/16 08:00AM

As regular viewers know, The Rachel Maddow Show has devoted a great deal of time to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but if you haven't been focused on this scandal yet, it's important to get up to speed.
 
Over the weekend, for example, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press turned its attention directly to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who's facing calls for his arrest from protestors, comparing his handling of the Flint crisis to George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Right now, the State of Michigan should be able to say that it has ensured the delivery of bottled water and water filters to every Flint resident whose drinking water has been contaminated by lead.... Instead, the governor is offering placid responses and slow-walking important remedies, while the investigation into how one of Michigan's greatest man-made public health crises unfolded comes up with explanations in dribs and drabs.
 
It's not just derelict -- it invokes inglorious comparison to other callous and insensitive official responses to tragedy. Think of the shameful federal response to Hurricane Katrina, where the same lack of urgency delayed life-saving aid. The poverty rate in Flint is 40%; 52% of Flint residents are African-American. And so we are prompted to ask: How would the state have responded to a crisis of such proportions in a community with more wealth and power?
Of course, there's a key, heartbreaking difference between recent developments in Flint and the crisis in New Orleans in 2005: Katrina was a natural disaster; Flint's disaster was the result of public officials showing breathtakingly bad judgment.
 
Let's recap how we reached this point.

New 2016 polls and other headlines

01/11/16 07:19AM

Bernie Sanders makes strong showing in new polls. (New York Times)

New poll: Trump, Cruz top GOP race nationally. (Fox News)

Trump takes credit after New Hampshire paper cut from debate. (The Hill)

Muslim woman gets kicked out of Trump rally--for protesting silently. (Washington Post)

Future of public sector unions at stake in Supreme Court case. (NBC News)

2nd Baltimore officer in Freddie Gray case goes on trial. (USA Today)

First Lady's State of the Union guests are nod to Obama's campaigns, nation's progress. (Politico)

'Road tour' by Cabinet members to promote Obama proposals. (AP)

Oregon militia wants hay, menthol 100s, and french vanilla creamer. (BuzzFeed)

British astronaut Tim Peake pays tribute to David Bowie from space. (AP)

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Image: Antonin Scalia

This Week in God, 1.9.16

01/09/16 08:37AM

First up from the God Machine this week are some unsettling remarks from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who sounded an awful lot like the head of a religious right activist group last weekend.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Saturday the idea of religious neutrality is not grounded in the country's constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the U.S. exactly because Americans honor him.
 
Scalia was speaking at a Catholic high school in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana.
At its root, Scalia's remarks emphasized two broad points. The first is the justice's belief that the United States has received divine favor in exchange for symbolic, rhetorical references from public officials.
 
"God has been very good to us," Scalia said. "That we won the revolution was extraordinary. The Battle of Midway was extraordinary. I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done Him honor. Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke His name we do Him honor, in presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations, and in many other ways."
 
The second, and arguably more important, point was that Scalia believes government neutrality on matters of religion is fundamentally wrong: the Supreme Court jurist explicitly argued that there's nothing wrong with the government favoring "religion over non-religion," effectively making atheists and related secularists second-class citizens in their own country.
 
Or put another way, Scalia considers the principle of church-state separation obsolete, sees the Constitution's secularism as an annoyance, and prefers an American system in which government is so big, it falls to politicians and government officials to promote, support, and encourage religiosity.
 
My friend Rob Boston's reaction rings true: "Scalia has been on the court since 1986. In March, he will be 80 years old. Although he appears vigorous, there's a good chance he'll have to retire in the next few years. With any luck, his views on church-state relations, which seem to be anchored in the late-19th century (as does much of Scalia's worldview), will go out the courthouse door with him and never return."
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Food Pantry volunteer Asia loads bottled water into a vehicle at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan's warehouse that will be distributed to the public, after elevated lead levels were found in the city's water, in Flint, Michigan, December 16, 2015.

How to help Flint, Michigan

01/08/16 06:39PM



Since we started covering the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the drinking water has been poisoned with lead, we have received many calls from our viewers about how they can help.

The situation on the ground now is that many people still do not have filters to protect themselves from lead in their tap water. As we reported last night, there is no government-run program for giving bottled water to people who cannot afford to buy it. If you need water in Flint right now, your best choice is turning to one of the local nonprofits that are giving it away. At this point, those nonprofits are running solely on donations.

And that is where you come in. We talked to several of these Flint nonprofits today, and they broke it down for us like this:

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Friday's Mini-Report, 1.8.16

01/08/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* It's incredible the officer survived this shooting: "A man who shot and wounded a Philadelphia police officer sitting in a patrol car told investigators that he did it in the name of Islam and the Islamic State, police officials said Friday, adding that the gunman gave no indication that he was part of a broader conspiracy."
 
* Wasting no time: "President Barack Obama notified Congress on Friday that he has vetoed their legislation to repeal huge parts of the Affordable Care Act, because of course he did."
 
* Mexico: "Infamous drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, who humiliated authorities when he tunneled out of a maximum-security prison in July, has been captured, Mexico's president said Friday."
 
* LePage: "Maine's tough-talking governor admitted he made a 'mistake' and apologized Friday for making what has been widely condemned as a racist remark at a town hall meeting. But Gov. Paul LePage insisted he was being unfairly pilloried for 'one slip-up.'"
 
* Wall Street: "U.S. stocks ended one of their worst opening weeks in history with another sharp decline on Friday, as concerns about sagging energy prices overwhelmed early optimism about stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs numbers and a stabilization of Chinese markets."
 
* Quakes: "Oklahoma was rocked Wednesday night by two of the state's largest earthquakes in recent years, further fueling scientists' concern that the continued burial of oil and gas wastes in seismically active areas was courting a much more powerful earthquake."
US President Barack Obama walks with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) after arriving at Joint Base McGuire-Dix in New Jersey on May 28, 2013. Obama is traveling to the New Jersey shore to view rebuilding efforts following last year's Hurricane...

Christie: Americans have a president 'who we don't know'

01/08/16 04:32PM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) delivered a widely noticed speech in September 2011, condemning President Obama in a fairly specific way. "We continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office," the governor said. "We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things."
 
Even at the time, the rhetoric was bizarre, since Obama has spent his entire presidency taking on "really big things," and more often than not, succeeding. But this week, Christie revised his entire perspective on the president, complaining Obama acts "as if he is a king, as if he is a dictator."
 
I've long been amazed at the degree to which conservatives have contradictory complaints about the president, and this is emblematic of the pattern. Obama can be a hapless bystander, doing too little, or he can be a tyrannical dictator, doing too much, but he can't be both.
 
On Monday, Christie went a little further. The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe noted this gem from the scandal-plagued governor:
"We have a guy in the Oval Office who we don't know. He's been serving us for seven years and we don't know him."
I suppose the obvious question for Christie is, "What do you mean 'we'?" After all of these years, some of us have gotten to know and understand this president quite well. After a two-year national campaign in 2007 and 2008, an autobiography, and seven years of intense scrutiny in the White House in which his every move was analyzed from every direction, it's hard to imagine the public knowing a stranger better than we know Barack Obama. There is no mystery about who this "guy" is.
 
But that's probably not where the governor is going with this.

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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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