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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) at the U.S. Capitol, October 8, 2013 in Washington, D.C., was been identified as one of two Republican senators who placed a hold on Sen. Franken's new mental health bill.

Dr. No is wrapping up his career on a disheartening note

12/16/14 08:35AM

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has a nickname that he's apparently always liked. The right-wing physician-turned-politician is often referred to as "Dr. No" because of his willingness to oppose popular measures with broad support. In fact, Coburn almost seems to revel in his role as a one-man obstruction machine.
 
And as the Oklahoma Republican wraps up his final week on Capitol Hill -- Coburn is retiring before his term is up due to health reasons -- he's ending his career in the most disheartening way possible.
 
An energy-efficiency bill written by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) already passed the House, but it's stuck this week because of Coburn's objections. The Senate is trying to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, but Coburn is blocking that, too.
 
And as Rachel noted on the show last night, the Senate is eager to approve the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, which cleared the House last week with unanimous support, but Coburn is literally the only member standing in the way.
Veterans groups blasted Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn Monday for blocking a bill intended to reduce a suicide epidemic that claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day.
 
"This is why people hate Washington," said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group. Rieckhoff accused Coburn of single-handedly blocking a bill that could save the lives of thousands of veterans.
Coburn delivered remarks on the Senate floor yesterday, attempting to explain himself. See for yourself whether or not the senator's defense made any sense:
Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next U.S. Surgeon General, prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2014. (Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP)

Vivek Murthy 1, NRA 0

12/16/14 08:00AM

The National Rifle Association has certain expectations when it comes to dictating developments on Capitol Hill. But once in a while, the NRA picks an important fight and loses. Take yesterday, for example.
The Senate on Monday narrowly confirmed President Obama's pick for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, after the nomination was held up for more than a year. The Senate voted 51 to 43 to confirm Murthy, who received both an M.B.A. and M.D. from Yale. 
 
More than a year has passed since anyone has served as the U.S.'s top doctor; the country's most recent surgeon general, Regina Benjamin, served from 2009 to 2013.
The final roll call on Murthy's confirmation is online here. Note, three conservative Senate Democrats -- Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) -- voted with Republicans to defeat the nomination. One Republican, Illinois' Mark Kirk, voted with the Democratic majority.
 
For Murthy, the fact that he's qualified and well suited for the position was never in doubt. As regular readers know, the nation's new Surgeon General-designate is an impressive medical professional with sterling credentials. He's also an attending physician, an instructor, and a public-health advocate -- who, like so many in his field, sees a connection between gun violence and public health.
 
And that alone was enough to draw fierce opposition from the NRA, conservative media, and nearly every Republican in the Senate, including alleged "moderates" like Maine's Susan Collins.
 
Indeed, let's not forget that when Murthy's nomination first reached the Senate floor back in March, Republicans derailed him, at least temporarily, with the help of nervous red-state Dems with election-year jitters, which is why the nation didn't have a Surgeon General during the Ebola public-health scare.
 
So what changed? A couple of things, actually.

Taliban attacks school and other headlines

12/16/14 07:36AM

126 killed, including dozens of children, in Taliban attack on Pakistan school. (LA Times)

The latest on the manhunt for Pennsylvania man who allegedly killed six people. (Allentown Morning Call)

Senate may confirm up to 88 judges. (AP)

Iowa Gov. seeks to end Iowa GOP straw poll. (AP)

Ted Cruz quietly seeks peace with GOP's big spenders. (National Journal)

Family of executed Ohio inmate sues expert witness. (AP)

Democrats in Congress fight to allow gay men to donate blood. (National Journal)

Senate GOP announces new committee assignments. (The Hill)

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'A bloody mess': Warden on Oklahoma execution

'A bloody mess': Warden on Oklahoma execution

12/15/14 11:03PM

Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor for Tulsa World newspaper, talks with Rachel Maddow about new details revealed in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett by the state of Oklahoma of what took place after a curtain was drawn closed on witnesses. watch

Democrats take advantage of Cruz showboating

Democrats take advantage of Cruz showboating

12/15/14 10:41PM

Rachel Maddow reports on how political grandstanding against President Obama's immigration actions by Ted Cruz in the Senate allowed Senate Democrats more time to confirm more presidential nominees, including Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General. watch

Outrage over police behavior not subsiding

Public outrage over police behavior not subsiding

12/15/14 09:50PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the large crowds that turned out in cities around the United States over the weekend to protest police misconduct, from New York City to Nebraska, and notes that public outrage over the issue does not appear to be subsiding. watch

Can we say that on TV?

Can we say that on TV?

12/15/14 09:48PM

Rachel Maddow shares a piece of video from today's show meeting at which there was discussion of how to report on a story based around a phrase that Rachel isn't allowed to say. watch

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