First up from the God Machine this week is a bold new faith-based suggestion from the Republican Party's favorite idea man -- Newt Gingrich -- about a new approach to national security. TPM reported yesterday:
After an EgyptAir plane carrying 66 passengers disappeared en route from Paris to Cairo, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested Thursday night the U.S. create a test for airport workers to see if they "believe in Sharia."
Asked by Fox News host Sandra Smith, standing in for Megyn Kelly, whether he's confident in the country's ability to vet airport workers, Gingrich replied, "No, no, no."
The Georgia Republican said he's fairly confident in TSA officials' ability to "stop people who are stupid" from bringing weapons onto airplanes. Gingrich added, however, that airports need to create "the right standards."
More specifically, the former Speaker argued, "You know, the first test -- and this is very hard to do -- the first test ought to be, are we dealing with people who believe in Sharia and who want to impose Islamic supremacism?"
In case the problem with Gingrich's bold new idea wasn't obvious, Wonkette explained, with tongue firmly in cheek, "Because one of the laws of Sharia Law is that if someone asks you if you believe in Sharia Law, you have to say yes."
Right. Applying religious tests to airport workers is a bad idea on its face, but it's especially problematic when trying to identify those who may pose security threats -- because if you ask them, "Hey, do you want to impose Islamic supremacism?" they're very likely to say, "Nope."
There is, of course, a broader context to all of this. The former Speaker is apparently eager to be considered for the vice presidential nomination under Donald Trump, and with the Republicans' presumptive nominee running on a platform with highly controversial anti-Muslim plans, Gingrich has an incentive to push ideas like religious tests for airport workers: they're the sort of thing that might impress the GOP candidate.
That does not, however, mean they're ideas with merit.
Maggie Lamb, schooled in the fine art of news viewing, tests her skills against a set of questions on the week's Rachel Maddow Show news coverage for a chance to win some random thing plus a little leaky metal thing. watch
Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News, talks with Rachel Maddow about the political conditions in 2016 that make a Gary Johnson Libertarian ticket potentially viable for the general election and what effects such a candidacy might have on the race. watch
Rachel Maddow notes that while some organizations have acted to distance themselves from former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, his most famous association, the House of Representatives, has yet to offer any reprimand or censure to the longest serving Republican speaker in U.S. history, the highest ranking American elected official to have been... watch
Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party chair and president of the Association of Democratic Chairs, talks with Rachel Maddow about new proposed rules for state Democratic conventions in the wake of Nevada's contentious convention. watch
* White House: "A man was shot outside the White House grounds after approaching a checkpoint with a gun and refusing commands to drop it, officials said. The White House was placed on lockdown after the shooting near 17th and E streets. The shooting was reported shortly after 3 p.m."
* Flight MS804: "Egypt's military said it found the first pieces of a missing EgyptAir passenger plane -- though there were no signs officials were any closer to solving the puzzle of what sent the aircraft falling out of the sky."
* News out of Oklahoma, Part I: "Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed a measure that would have banned abortion in Oklahoma, saying the bill was vague and would not withstand a criminal constitutional legal challenge."
* News out of Oklahoma, Part II: "A grand jury investigation into Oklahoma's execution mistakes during 2015 found that the department of corrections and others in the process 'failed to perform their duties' with the care and attention required when attempting to carry out capital punishment."
* News out of Oklahoma, Part III: "No, states can't actually impeach U.S. presidents. But Oklahoma Republican lawmakers are urging Congress to take up their cause. Reuters reports the Republican-dominated state legislature filed a measure Thursday calling for Obama's impeachment over the administration's recent recommendations that public schools accommodate transgender students in bathrooms."
* Maybe someone should let congressional Republicans know: "More than 270 pregnant women in the U.S. are infected with the Zika virus and are at risk of their babies being born with birth defects, federal health officials announced Friday."
* Given California's size, this may be a very important policy: "The state Senate on Thursday approved sweeping new restrictions on using guns in California... Lawmakers approved 11 bills including measures mandating background checks for Californians buying ammunition and outlawing the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines."
Donald Trump this week unveiled a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees, which impressed Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Referring to his conservative colleagues on Capitol Hill, many of whom aren't sold on the presumptive Republican nominee, Grassley told Bloomberg Politics, "If anybody had any doubts -- and I think a lot of people do have doubts -- this will help settle that."
But for some on the right, the fear is that the list is a sham, which Trump will abandon if elected. Grassley added that these concerns are unfounded.
Asked about concerns Trump wouldn't honor list, Grassley says he has "heard a lot of misstatements and corrections by Trump" but has "never heard him accused of being a liar."
This morning, for example, Donald Trump told MSNBC he "would have stayed out of Libya," which isn't true. In the same interview, Trump boasted he "didn't want to go to Iraq" in 2003, which also isn't true. Soon after, the GOP candidate said British Prime Minister David Cameron has invited Trump to visit 10 Downing Street in London, and that wasn't true, either.
Keep in mind, we're talking about some obvious, lazy whoppers just this morning, in one interview. This is a candidate who makes demonstrably false claims with such ease and regularity that it's genuinely tough to keep up.
Grassley may have "never" heard anyone accuse Trump "of being a liar," but I have. Ted Cruz called Trump a "pathological liar" two weeks ago. Marco Rubio has called Trump a "liar." Jeb Bush has also called Trump a "liar." And those are just some of the Republicans who've used the label.
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler recently explained, "Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts; his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries."
A New York Times/CBS News poll, released last night, found Hillary Clinton with a six-point lead over Donald Trump, 47% to 41%. Given that the Republican race has been over for weeks, while Democrats are still battling it out, the margin probably brings some comfort to those hoping to avoid Trump's inauguration.
Indeed, the Times' piece on the results noted that Republican voters "are starting to fall in line with Mr. Trump now that he is their presumptive nominee -- and that they expect party officials to do the same. Eight in 10 Republican voters say their leaders should support Mr. Trump even if they disagree with him on important issues."
...Mrs. Clinton is still contending with resistance to her candidacy from supporters of Mr. Sanders as their contest carries on and grows more contentious. Twenty-eight percent of Mr. Sanders's primary voters say they will not support her if she is the nominee, a figure that reflects the continuing anger many Sanders supporters feel toward both Mrs. Clinton and a process they believe is unfair.
To a certain degree, this reinforces the intense anxiety many Democrats are feeling. The 2016 race poses a variety of challenges for the party, but if a significant chunk of Sanders supporters refuse to support the Democratic nominee, Clinton will lose, Trump will be president, and the Supreme Court will be lost for a generation.
But some context is in order. At this point eight years ago, 60% of Clinton backers said they were ready to vote for then-Sen. Barack Obama in a general election. Now, in this poll, 72% of Sanders backers say they'll vote Clinton.
Obviously, Democrats would prefer to see that number at 100%, but the point is, Democratic divisions were even more dramatic eight years ago, though that didn't stop Obama from winning the general election with relative ease in 2008. After the convention, the party and like-minded allies came together, as they nearly always do.
Similarly, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted this morning that Clinton's favorability ratings among Democrats are even higher now than Obama's at roughly this point eight years ago.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a general-election match-up, 47% to 41%.
* Democratic officials, hoping to help satisfy concerns raised by Bernie Sanders' campaign, have offered the senator's team an expanded role on convention committees -- a top concern raised by Sanders' aides this week.
* Paul Manafort's role in Donald Trump's campaign operation continues to steadily expand: the longtime operative is now the Republican candidate's campaign chairman and chief strategist.
* In an observation that seemed obvious, but which nevertheless caused a stir, Hillary Clinton noted yesterday that Trump "is not qualified to be president of the United States."
* In a long-forgotten proposal, Trump liked the idea of pitting white contestants against black contestants in a proposed version of his television reality show. When pitching the idea in 2005, Trump described it as "fairly controversial."
* Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only senator to officially endorse Bernie Sanders, said this week that he will not support the Vermonter's effort to force a convention fight, relying on party insiders to overrule the will of the voters.
* Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, was asked yesterday about the senator needing to win 68% of the remaining delegates to catch up to Clinton. Weaver called the statistic a "media narrative," but it happens to be true.
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