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Al Sharpton called to help in Baltimore

Al Sharpton called to help in Baltimore

04/27/15 09:34PM

Rev. Al Sharpton talks with Rachel Maddow about the violence in Baltimore and the invitation by Baltimore's mayor that he come to the city to model peaceful protest. Rev. Sharpton offers historical context on how to keep protests peaceful. watch

Monday's Mini-Report, 4.27.15

04/27/15 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Heartbreaking tragedy in Nepal: "Rescuers struggled to reach Nepal's more rural communities on Monday to assess the damage from a devastating earthquake that has left more than 3,800 people dead."
* Unrest in Baltimore turns violent: "Seven officers were reportedly injured when protests turned violent in Baltimore Monday afternoon after a "group of juveniles" faced off with police... [Freddie] Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died on April 19 of what his family's attorney said was a severed spine that allegedly occurred after he was arrested on a weapons charge in Baltimore on April 12."
* There's live msnbc coverage of clashes in Baltimore online here.
* Related news: "A photo editor for a Baltimore newspaper says he was beaten by police at a protest over the death of Freddie Gray. J.M. Giordano, who works at the City Paper, says Baltimore police 'swarmed over' him and hit him repeatedly. A video posted to the newspaper's website Sunday shows at least two police officers in riot gear hitting and kicking Giordano as the person filming screams, 'He's a photographer! He's press!'"
* Oklahoma: "A top sheriff's official resigned on Monday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where an unarmed man was shot and killed earlier this month by a volunteer reserve deputy who says he mistook his gun for his Taser."
* Detroit: "Video obtained by a Detroit television station and published Sunday appeared to show police fist-bumping and imitating a man they'd allegedly beaten during a traffic stop. In the video obtained by WDIV, the Inkster, Michigan police officers appeared to celebrate as they wiped off their hands and uniforms."
* An alarming look at 250 police-involved shootings in Palm Beach, Florida, and the "disturbing" pattern that emerges.
* It took months longer than it should have, but Attorney General Loretta Lynch was sworn in today and officially began her new job.
Tom Cotton (PHoto by Lauren Victoria Burke/AP)

GOP sees Cotton sabotage strategy as 'an educational effort'

04/27/15 04:45PM

It was about a month ago when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) started publicly warning U.S. negotiating partners around the world about climate negotiations.  Foreign nations should "proceed with caution," the Republican senator said, before reaching an agreement with the United States about reducing carbon emissions -- President Obama may say we'll reach our goals, McConnell said, but the world should be skeptical of America's word.
As we talked about at the time, it's become a familiar gambit for GOP senators. Just a couple of weeks earlier, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and 46 of his Republican pals also publicly warned a foreign nation not to consider the United States trustworthy in the context of an entirely different set of international diplomatic negotiations.
When McConnell duplicated the strategy on climate, a Sierra Club official said McConnell had effectively "stolen Tom Cotton's playbook for undermining American leadership in the face of international crises."
But it's not just McConnell. The Wall Street Journal reported today:
President Barack Obama and Congress are headed for another power clash on the international stage, as key Senate Republicans challenge his efforts to forge a global pact on climate change.
The White House considers the agreement with nearly 200 nations a historic opportunity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions world-wide. But some GOP senators view it as executive overreach, and they are quietly considering ways to warn other countries that the president doesn't speak for them and may not be able to deliver on his promises to slash emissions.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the nation's most aggressive climate deniers and the man Senate Republicans chose to lead the Senate committee on environmental policy, wasn't subtle when describing his sabotage ambitions.
"The Tom Cotton letter was an educational effort," Senator Snowball told the WSJ.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks during a rally to formally announce his presidential campaign at the Galt House hotel in Louisville, Ky., on April 7, 2015. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty)

Rand Paul's drone 'evolution' now complete

04/27/15 04:05PM

Former Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul was not at all pleased with last week's announcement about January's deadly drone strike along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The former Texas congressman said the Americans killed in the strike "were literally assassinated."
And given his history, it's tempting to assume Ron Paul's son, Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul, would use similar rhetoric. It was, after all, the Kentucky senator who took to the chamber floor two years ago to speak for nearly 13 hours about his deep skepticism surrounding the U.S. drone policy.
But as it turns out, Rand Paul and Ron Paul, at least publicly, are not on the same page. As Dave Weigel reported this morning, the current GOP presidential candidate made this clear on Fox News this morning.
"I do think that there is a valuable use for drones and as much as I'm seen as an opponent of drones, in military and warfare, they do have some value," Paul said [on "Fox & Friends"]. "I think this is a difficult situation. You have hostages being held; some of them are American. You have people holding hostages; some of them are American. I've been an opponent of using drones about people not in combat. However if you are holding hostages, you kind of are involved in combat. So I look at it the way it is in the United States. If there's a kidnapping in New York, the police don't have to have a warrant to go in."
Had Paul never spoken out about drones before, this would have been a newsless answer, comparable to what other Republican candidates and politicians had been saying. But Paul has a long, dramatic record of pronouncements about drones.
Though Rand Paul seemed likely to be the only Republican to go after the Obama administration's admitted mistake, the Kentucky Republican, after saying very little soon after the revelations last week, is prepared to give the president a pass.
"You really don't get due process or anything like that if you are in a war zone," Paul this morning. "I tend not to want to blame the president for the loss of life here. I think he was trying to do the right thing."
The senator's apparent "evolution" is now complete.
Image: Barack Obama And Mitt Romney Participate In Second Presidential Debate

Bush rejects family tradition, opposes Planned Parenthood

04/27/15 12:40PM

In the 1950s, Prescott Bush (R-Conn.) was elected to the U.S. Senate twice, but he narrowly lost his first bid for statewide office in 1950. At the time, Bush drew criticism from church officials in Connecticut for his support of Planned Parenthood. As Roll Call reported a while ago, Prescott Bush was actually "the treasurer of the family planning group's first national fundraising campaign."
When his son, George H.W. Bush, was in Congress, he was such an enthusiastic supporter of Planned Parenthood's efforts that some of his colleagues gave him an unfortunate nickname: "Rubbers."
As Amanda Terkel reported, Jeb Bush appears to be breaking with family tradition.
Jeb Bush supports efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, according to one of his senior advisers.
Jordan Sekulow is a prominent Christian evangelical attorney and joined the former Florida governor's team last month as a senior adviser. He spoke Saturday at the Faith and Freedom Summit in Iowa, where nine presidential hopefuls appealed to the group of conservatives in attendance. Bush, who is exploring a run and widely expected to jump into the field, skipped the event and sent Sekulow in his stead.
Jeb Bush's surrogate speaker specifically told far-right Iowans, "We have got to defund Planned Parenthood, by the way, and Gov. Bush supports those efforts." [Update: here's the video with the corrected link.]
I guess when it comes to family planning, the former governor really is his "own man."

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 4.27.15

04/27/15 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:
* Former Gov. Jen Bush reportedly told donors in Miami Beach over the weekend that he believes "his political action committee had raised more money in 100 days than any other modern Republican political operation."
* Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network that the constitutional argument for marriage equality is "ridiculous and absurd."
* Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has not yet made his 2016 plans clear, but Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who is advising Sanders, told msnbc the senator is only "days away from making a decision."
* The Clinton Foundation continues to reject allegations of cronyism for which there is no proof, but it acknowledged yesterday that it made "mistakes" on tax forms. The Foundation's acting CEO, Maura Pally, added, "But we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future."
* Apparently looking for new ways to raise the rhetorical temperature in the presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told far-right Iowans over the weekend, "There is a liberal fascism that is dedicated to going after believing Christians who follow the Biblical teaching on marriage." He added that "there is no room for Christians in today's Democratic Party."
Former President George W. Bush speaks during an event, May 15, 2012, in Washington, DC.

George W. Bush unironically warns of Middle East 'chaos'

04/27/15 11:29AM

As a rule, all policy proposals should be evaluated on the merits. It's not enough to simply say, "It must be a good idea if so-and-so thinks it's a bad idea" -- such a tack is intellectually lazy, unserious, and best avoided.
There are exceptions to the rule.
Former President George W. Bush said the United States must show that it can follow through on its promises, and argued against the lifting of sanctions against Iran during rare remarks about foreign policy in a meeting with hundreds of Jewish donors [in Las Vegas] Saturday night.
Mr. Bush told the 700 donors attending a closed-door Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting that he would not criticize President Obama, whose aim to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State he applauded. But the former president nevertheless offered comments that many in the audience viewed as a tacit critique of his successor.
As best as I can tell, there is no video or transcript available of the former president's remarks, so we're relying on attendees' accounts of what Bush said. Word-for-word quotes should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
With that caveat in mind, the Republican reportedly said the international framework on Iran's nuclear policy would be a bad long-term proposition: "You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That's how Americans should view the deal."
Left unsaid: if there's one person who knows all about Middle East chaos, it's George W. Bush.