First up from the God Machine this week is a controversial push in Oklahoma to not only ban Advanced Placement classes in American history, but also to impose a more religiously focused curriculum on schools.
Republican Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher has proposed a bill that would yank state funding from the AP history course and develop a new advanced U.S. history curriculum based, in part, on three Reagan speeches.
Fisher -- a pastor who was elected in 2013 -- lists texts he believes should be the focus of students' educations. The "foundational and historical" texts the 10-page bill details include some obvious choices -- the Constitution and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" for example -- but it also emphasizes the Ten Commandments, two sermons, three speeches by Reagan, and President George W. Bush's address to the nation after the 9/11 attacks.
Which sermons would make the cut? The proposed legislation is actually quite specific: students wouldn't be able to take AP history, but they would be presented with "A Model of Christian Charity" by John Winthrop and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards.
The bill doesn't specify which version of the Ten Commandments would be included -- the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths number and word the Commandments differently -- but given the context, I have a hunch the Protestant version would likely get the nod.
Though the Republican-run state committee already voted to advance the proposal, the pastor who wrote conceded later in the week that his bill "was very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous, and we didn't realize that."
Fisher intends to re-write the bill. The role of religious materials in the revamped plan remains unclear.
Rashad Hussain, U.S. special envoy and coordinator for strategic counterterrorism communications, talks with Rachel Maddow about the U.S. attacking ISIS online recruitment tools and understanding why the terror group's outreach is so effective. watch
Rocky Martin, master-level Rachel Maddow show viewer, tests his memory of the week's news coverage for a chance to win a cocktail shaker that is too small to pour a second drink, and a random, half-broken thing that's been laying around the office. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that Maureen McDonnell, wife of disgraced former Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, was sentenced to a year and a day in jail for her part in her husband's corruption scandal after being scapegoated by her husband's defense. watch
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."
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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