Rachel Maddow shares video of Canadian MP Pat Martin explaining to Canadian Parliament that the reason he had to step out during a vote was because the cut-rate underwear he purchased was making him too uncomfortable to sit. watch
Rachel Maddow shares video of President Barack Obama delivering an animated speech to a gathering of the DNC, emphasizing his economic successes and outlining how he thinks Democrats should run in the next election and calling for immigration reform. watch
Rachel Maddow reports breaking news of a high rise fire in Dubai engulfing many floor after beginning somewhere near the 50th floor and raining burning debris on the street below. John Tsioris, an eyewitness from across the street describes the scene. watch
Tricia McKinney, senior planning producer for The Rachel Maddow Show, presents an assortment of junk and odd items gathered from piles of discarded show props to Rachel Maddow to select the grand prize award for this week's' Friday Night News Dump. watch
* Libya: "Three car bombs ripped through the eastern Libyan city of Qubbah on Friday, killing 40 people and wounding 70 in what officials described as a revenge attack for Egyptian air strikes on Islamist militant targets. Parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh told Al-Arabiya television the car bombs had targeted a gas station next to a security building."
* Eurozone: "European leaders agreed on Friday to extend Greece's bailout for four months after weeks of tense negotiations. The deal, reached at an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers here, paves the way for Greece to unlock further financial aid from a 240 billion euro, or $273 billion, bailout deal -- provided the country meets certain commitments laid out by its creditors."
* Remember the pipe bomb near the Colorado NAACP office? A suspect is now in police custody, though investigators now believe the accused, 44-year-old carpenter Thaddeus Murphy, "was in a rage over his financial problems and was targeting his accountant's office."
* ACA: "Taxpayers facing fines for not having health insurance in 2014 will get another chance to sign up for benefits on the Obamacare exchanges this year, federal officials announced Friday. From March 15 through April 30, individuals who learn when they file tax returns that they must pay a penalty under the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate can return to HealthCare.gov to choose a plan for the current year."
* Immigration: "The Obama administration will seek a stay on a federal judge's ruling handed down earlier this week that placed a temporary freeze on the president's sweeping executive actions on immigration."
* Virginia: "Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced Friday to a year and a day in federal prison -- a penalty less than what federal prosecutors had sought but one that will still put her behind bars briefly."
* Michelle Goldberg's gut-wrenching report: "Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire."
The South Carolina State Senate has 46 members. As Rachel noted on the show last night, it also has 45 men.
That, at face value, may seem like an unfortunate coincidence. But as the only woman in the chamber, Republican state Sen. Katrina Shealy, recently learned, this goes beyond just a lack of gender diversity.
One of her Republican colleagues, state Sen. Tom Corbin, decided to reflect on gender issues at a legislative dinner last week. "Well, you know God created man first," he said. "Then he took the rib out of man to make woman. And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat."
Shealy's response came on the state Senate floor, and it wasn't directed at Corbin -- it was directed at women.
"(Y)ou will experience roadblocks and challenges," state Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, said from the Senate's podium. "Don't be discouraged. Don't give up.
"And don't you dare let anyone tell you that you are less than what you are. We need you to help solve the problems we face. South Carolina needs you to step up and lead."
For his part, Corbin said his comment was made "in jest," and he now realizes "it offended one of our members." He also seemed to blame Shealy, saying she "chose to be offended and make a big deal out of all this."
Shealy said she accepted Corbin's apology, but added, "[A]s I speak for myself and all women, these type remarks are never acceptable in public or in private.... [W]hether the person speaking them thinks they are in jest or not, these words are hurtful and disrespectful. We are all created equal and, as such, deserve respect."
Just a week into the new year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was faced with a rhetorical dilemma: every talking point he had about the economy was wrong and he wasn't sure what to do about it.
McConnell had argued a "regulatory onslaught" was hurting the economy, and that turned out to be wrong. He said the Affordable Care Act was hurting growth, and that turned out to be wrong. He said taxes were standing in the way of job creation, and that turned out to be ridiculously wrong.
And so, McConnell switched gears, abandoned all of his talking points, and in early January, adopted a new posture: the nation's economy is looking brighter, and it's all because of Americans' "expectation of a new Republican Congress."
In other words, according to McConnell, congressional Republicans deserve credit for the improved economy, even though they haven't actually done anything. President Obama heard about this, and as of this morning, he seems rather amused.
President Barack Obama told Democrats on Friday that their work has improved the economy while strengthening the middle class, and jabbed at Republicans for trying to take the credit after stiffly opposing his agenda for six years.
Speaking at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting, Obama said it is "no accident" that his policies have lifted the country out of the recession he inherited when he took office. GOP predictions of "doom and gloom" over policies like health care have proven untrue, the president said.
Now, job growth and positive economic news has led Republicans to adopt Democrats' mantra of being "the party of the middle class," he said.
Specifically referencing McConnell, the president told DNC members, "As he was coming in, after having tried to block every single thing that we had done to strengthen the economy, starts looking at the jobs numbers and says, 'You know, it's getting better because we just got elected and people are feeling more optimistic. I didn't know that's how the economy worked."
As Rachel explained last night, the way Republican-dominated state legislatures nationwide have arranged voting districts, it is often the case that Democrats will have logged a larger number of total votes, but end up with fewer representative legislative seats. This kind of vote tallying that gives Democrats migraines might be called ...
The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal was not impressed with President Obama's recent video for BuzzFeed. In fact, the video, which been now seen nearly 50 million times, prompted the conservative editorial page to condemn both Obama and "supine and occasionally complicit news media that have seen you through six years of crisis, failure and scandal."
"Crisis"? Sure, every president faces crises, and Obama's no different. Some of this president's crises were even created by the WSJ's Republican friends on Capitol Hill. "Failure"? No obvious ones come to mind, except maybe Obama's efforts to get GOP lawmakers to compromise on any issue.
But the notion that the Obama presidency has featured "six years of scandal" seems bizarre. David Axelrod boasted this week, accurately, "I'm proud of the fact that basically you have had an administration in this place for six years in which there hasn't been a major scandal. And I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration."
At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS's scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.
"I'm glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi," said Gowdy, a former prosecutor who chairs that panel. "I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn't have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?"
Gowdy, the head of the eighth Benghazi committee, went on to tell Dave Weigel that "the same reasons for a select committee exist" in the IRS story as Benghazi, "or maybe even greater." He also complained about "Fast and Furious" and Solyndra because, well, he was apparently on a roll.
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:
* Republican officials in DC are worried about what might happen to Sen. Marco Rubio's (R) Senate seat in Florida if he gives it up for a White House run, so they're reportedly pressuring him to put aside his presidential ambitions, at least for now. No word yet on Rubio's official plans.
* Speaking of the junior senator from Florida, Rubio said yesterday that he has "no doubt" that President Obama loves America, but the Republican believes the president's policies "are bad for our nation." See, Scott Walker? It's really not that hard.
* After making recent visits to Iowa and South Carolina, Vice President Biden is now headed to New Hampshire. These are, of course, the states hosting the first three presidential nominating contests next year.
* Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) still isn't running for president, but she acknowledged yesterday the folks who are trying to lure her into the race. "Americans understand that the game is rigged, and they've had enough of it. They're ready to fight back. They want a Washington that works for them," Warren told a Massachusetts audience, adding, "They want to see some real change, and I think that's what we need to work on."
* It may seem difficult to take Ben Carson's presidential ambitions seriously, but the far-right neurosurgeon this week hired Mike Murray, a "direct marketing wizard," to serve as a senior adviser for Carson's national operation.
For many years, the mainstream political debate about the minimum wage was between those who wanted to increase the legal floor and those who wanted to leave it alone. But as Republican politics moved sharply to the right, a third contingent took shape: GOP policymakers who said the minimum wage simply shouldn't exist.
This dynamic comes up quite a bit. We used to debate about how best to shape the Medicare program; now we debate whether to eliminate Medicare and transition seniors to a coupon system in the private market. We used to debate how to strengthen Social Security; now we debate whether to privatize Social Security out of existence.
Fox host Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery suggested getting rid of the nation's public schools during a discussion on Thursday's "Outnumbered."
Kennedy's comments came during a segment about an Oklahoma bill, approved by a House committee, that seeks to eliminate AP US History. The bill asserts that the current iteration of the course doesn't show "American exceptionalism," instead highlighting "what is bad about America."
The Fox host said, "There really shouldn't be public schools, should there? I mean we should really go to a system where parents of every stripe have a choice, have a say in the kind of education their kids get because, when we have centralized, bureaucratic education doctrines and dogmas like this, that's exactly what happens."
I don't want to overstate this. I'm only vaguely aware of who Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery is, and it'd be a stretch to characterize her an influential figure in Republican politics.
But she's not the only one making the anti-public-education argument.
After Rudy Giuliani's ridiculous remarks this week, NBC's First Read this morning declared, "[I]t's time to say that he's officially entered Donald Trump territory." That's true, though I thought it was interesting that the First Read crew didn't feel the need to explain what "Donald Trump territory" is.
The meaning was obvious enough to go unstated. Trump's most notable contribution to the political discourse is the loathsome "birther" conspiracy theory, which effectively turned the reality-show host into a punch line for a sad joke. Though the political world may have once taken Trump seriously, he discredited himself though his bizarre antics -- and now Giuliani is cultivating a similar reputation for himself.
That said, as Politicoreported, Trump's buffoonery has apparently not shed his political relevance altogether.
Scott Walker met with Donald Trump in Trump Tower for 45 minutes on Thursday. Trump told POLITICO that Wisconsin's Republican governor requested the meeting, and that it was an "enjoyable" discussion focused on "where the country is going" and "how poorly we're perceived throughout the world." ... A Walker spokeswoman confirmed the meeting.
Trump has met with several of the potential 2016 candidates, including a golf outing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a sit-down with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Trump went on to hint about his own interest in the 2016 presidential race -- he's not running, but he seems to enjoy pretending -- though the fact that Walker "requested the meeting" with him no doubt helped inflate Trump's ego.
What's less clear is why, exactly, this informal Trump Primary exists.
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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