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Anti-terror role empty as House wastes time

Important anti-terror role empty as House wastes time on stunts

11/19/15 09:58PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the languishing nomination of Adam Szubin as the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, an important position in the fight against ISIS and other terror groups, and yet the Republican-controlled House wastes time on anti-refugee stunt legislation. watch

French draw lessons from anti-terror failures

French draw lessons from anti-terror failures

11/19/15 09:31PM

Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the French intelligence system succeeding in identifying potential terrorists but failed to closely monitor the most dangerous of them to prevent an attack. watch

France assesses terror intelligence failure

France reckons with 'absolute failure' of terror intelligence

11/19/15 09:16PM

Rachel Maddow reviews why Abdelhamid Abaaoud was the most notorious, wanted terrorist in France and wonders why authorities weren't paying closer attention to him. Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, talks with Francois Heisbourg, French government counter-terrorism adviser, about what accounts for the intelligence failures... watch

Thursday's Mini-Report, 11.19.15

11/19/15 05:30PM

Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Paris: "The Belgian jihadi suspected of being the ringleader of the Paris terrorist attacks was killed during a raid on a suburban apartment, officials said Thursday. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, died during Wednesday’s operation in Saint-Denis, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. He was identified by his fingerprints. His body was riddled with bullets, according to officials."
* The final vote was 289 to 137: "The Republican-led House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday that essentially halts Syrian refugees from coming into the United States, despite President Barack Obama’s promise to veto the bill." Here's the roll call.
* An alternative approach: "Senate Democrats, seeking to head off legislation to halt and overhaul a program to take in Syrian and Iraqi refugees, are focusing instead on tightening a program that makes it easier for foreigners to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa."
* Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) told Fox News that the State Department is trying to have Florida take in 425 Syrian refugees. The State Department has said Scott appears to have simply made this up and no such request was made.
* Republicans en masse will refuse to consider this evidence: "Barring the unforeseeable, the latest monthly climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a clincher.  There can no longer be any meaningful doubt that 2015 will be the Earth’s warmest year on record, at an entirely different level from the previous warmest years."
* West Africa now appears to be free of Ebola: "A baby girl in Guinea, who was the last known Ebola patient in a two-year West African epidemic, has recovered, health officials say."
* In reality, this year's "crime wave" didn't happen: "An analysis of 2015 crime trends in the nation's 30 largest cities shows that reports of rising crime across the country are not supported by the available data."
* Immigration: "More immigrants from Mexico are leaving the United States than coming into the country, according to a report published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, a finding that marks the end of the largest wave of immigration from a single country in American history."
On the day of a Republican presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attends a rally in Upper Senate Park with striking workers to call for a minimum wage of $15 per hour, Nov. 10, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP)

GOP bashes Sanders over climate, national security link

11/19/15 04:18PM

In the most recent debate for the Democratic presidential candidates, CBS's John Dickerson asked Bernie Sanders, "You said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?"
The senator didn't hesitate, "Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you're going to see countries all over the world -- this is what the CIA says -- they're going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops ask you're going to see all kinds of international conflict."
None of this seemed particularly surprising, though apparently the exchange annoyed Republicans. The Hill reported this week:
Top Senate Republicans on Tuesday slammed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s weekend statement that climate change is contributing to global terrorism. [...]
“I get disappointed when people see momentum around an issue and try to attach an unrelated issue to it,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, said. [...] Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) the chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, agreed: “I would view that assertion as pretty absurd.”
Some GOP complaining about Sanders' progressive views is inevitable, but the problem with these Republican complaints is that Sanders' argument was rooted in fact.
Pat Toomey-Timm-09/20/13

At the intersection of terrorism and fundraising

11/19/15 12:40PM

The fact that members of Congress feel the need to raise enormous amounts of money isn't new. Sometimes, the question that matters is how lawmakers solicit contributions.
Fundraising in the wake of a terrorist attack, for example, can raise awkward questions about basic propriety. NPR reported yesterday on one vulnerable Senate incumbent who's arguably approaching an ugly line:
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey's campaign manager sent out a fundraising email, based on his opposition to letting Syrian refugees into Pennsylvania.
"Senator Toomey believes nothing is more important than the security of the American people. To that end, he is pushing to suspend the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States until we are able to determine, with full confidence, that there are no security risks among them. ... If you agree with Senator Toomey, that nothing trumps the security of the American people, join the cause here."
The link brings supporters to a "contribute" page.
To be sure, there's fundraising and then there's fundraising. If a statewide office-holder or presidential candidate includes a perfunctory donate "button" on all of his or her websites and mailings that's not quite the same thing as telling prospective donors, "Terrorists killed people, you're afraid of the refugees fleeing the terrorists, so you should send me money."
But that's close to what some politicians are doing this week. The letter from Team Toomey in Pennsylvania was in questionable taste, and so too is the letter Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sent to supporters yesterday.

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 11.19.15

11/19/15 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The new national PPP poll shows Hillary Clinton expanding on her national lead over Bernie Sanders, and the race now stands at 59% to 26%. The news for Sanders was far better in New Hampshire, where a Fox News poll shows him with a one-point advantage, 45% to 44%.
* Speaking of the Democratic contenders, it's a big day for both candidates, with Clinton speaking this morning about her plans to combat ISIS, and Sanders speaking this afternoon in defense of socialism.
* In Louisiana, where the gubernatorial race is nearly over, a PAC supporting John Bel Edwards (D) has a new ad insisting that Edwards opposes taking in Syrian refugees. The issue has quickly become the centerpiece of David Vitter's (R) pitch.
* Donald Trump has a new, 60-second radio ad in which he assures voters, "I will also quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS. We’ll rebuild our military and make it so strong no one, and I mean no one, will mess with us."
* Social conservatives and the religious right movement was not pleased with Ben Carson recently dismissing the Terri Schiavo matter as "much ado about nothing." In damage-control mode, the Republican said this week, “I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia. I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children. I regret that my recent comments about Teri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted.”
* Jeb Bush called for the deployment of U.S. ground forces in the Middle East to combat ISIS. He apparently intends to be the third President Bush to send troops into war in the region.
* By some accounts, Martin O’Malley’s Democratic presidential campaign is "perilously close to financial collapse."
* In New Jersey, the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows Donald Trump leading the GOP field with 31%, followed by Marco Rubio's 18%. Ben Carson is the only other candidate who reached double digits -- he's third with 11% -- while Chris Christie is fourth in his own home state with 9%.
Then, Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Matt Bevin talks with voters at the Fountain Run BBQ Festival while campaigning for the Republican primary May 17, 2014 in Fountain Run, Ky. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty)

Kentucky voters create 'a big problem' for themselves

11/19/15 11:21AM

We talked last week about a middle-aged Kentucky man who relies heavily on Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, but nevertheless voted for Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R), who ran on a platform of destroying Medicaid expansion.
“[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands," the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. "Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die." It's a problem that apparently didn't occur to him until after he backed the far-right candidate.
And he's not alone. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported today on Owsley County, Kentucky, where most local residents receive health coverage through Medicaid, but where most local residents also voted for the anti-Medicaid candidate.
Lisa Botner, 36, belongs to both camps. A Kynector -- a state agent representing Kynect in the field -- recently helped Botner sign up for a Wellcare Medicaid card for herself and her 7-year-old son. Without that, Botner said, she couldn't afford the regular doctor's visits and blood tests needed to keep her hyperthyroidism in check.
"If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem," Botner, a community college student, said Friday at the Owsley County Public Library, where she works. "Just with the blood tests, you're talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance."
So why in the world would she support Bevin and vote to undermine her own interests? "I'm just a die-hard Republican," the woman said.
The Herald-Leader article quoted a political scientist who crunched the numbers and found that the Kentucky counties most reliant on Medicaid expansion were also the most likely to vote for the candidate who vowed to tear down Medicaid expansion.
Owsley County Judge-Executive Cale Turner responded, "To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I'm afraid they voted away their health insurance."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., accompanied by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2013. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rubio takes risky shot at Cruz, 'Freedom Act'

11/19/15 10:40AM

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been quite cautious when going on the offensive against his Republican presidential rivals, occasionally mixing it up, but almost always in response to someone else.
At this phase in the race, however, Rubio doesn't have the luxury of passivity. Despite all of the media hype, the Florida senator is not yet leading anywhere -- not even in his home state -- and he remains effectively tied with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). If he's going to break out, Rubio is going to have to overcome some of his competitors.
Keep that in mind when reading what Rubio told conservative host Hugh Hewitt yesterday.
"There are policy differences between the candidates. You know, Senator Cruz, over the last three years, is someone I like personally. We get along, and we share a lot of views. On some of the defense issues, we’ve parted ways. [...]
"[H]e was a part of that coalition that worked with the Democrats like Chuck Schumer and the ACLU to harm our intelligence programs. And so Senator Cotton, and I’ve joined him today in this effort, are trying to get that reversed, so that we can have the metadata collection program reinstated for the long term so that this country does not lose a valuable tool in the war on terror."
The motivation for this couldn't be more obvious. Not only does Rubio have reason to highlight any areas of disagreement with Cruz, but with the right in a panic over Paris, Rubio also wants to remind Republicans that he supports an expansive National Security State with broad surveillance powers, while Cruz has backed limits on government authority.
The problem with Rubio's pitch, however, is that he doesn't seem to appreciate how risky it is.