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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 6.14.16

06/14/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Paris: "France's president called Tuesday for increased security in this tense nation after an apparent Islamic State-inspired attacker fatally stabbed a police officer and his partner before he was killed by police."
 
* Pakistani and Afghan forces "exchanged heavy gunfire on Sunday and Monday in an unusually serious escalation of tensions at the border, leaving at least 13 people wounded on the Pakistani side and killing at least one Afghan police officer, according to the police and military officials in both countries."
 
* Economy: "Retail sales rose more than forecast in May, showing consumer spending will help boost economic growth in the second quarter. The 0.5 percent increase in purchases followed a 1.3 percent jump the previous month that was the biggest gain in a year, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday in Washington."
 
* True: "Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stipulated Tuesday that responsible homeland security entails passing meaningful gun control reforms."
 
* Good for him: "Centrist Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) broke with members of his party on Tuesday and called on the House to take up legislation to increase scrutiny on gun purchases in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Orlando."
 
* Sadly predictable: "The National Rifle Association late Monday broke its silence on the slaughter of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, labeling calls for restrictions on assault-style weapons as a 'transparent head-fake.'"
 
* NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today "dismissed criticism from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that the alliance is irrelevant. 'We are as relevant as ever,' said Stoltenberg on the first day of a two-day defense ministerial meeting at the alliance headquarters in Brussels."
Sen. Joseph McCarthy's (R-Wis) at a March 9, 1950 session of a hearing on  McCarthy's charges of Communist infiltration in the state department. McCarthy, testifying before a senate foreign relations subcommittee, termed the subcommittee a "Tool" of...

After Orlando, some Republicans ready for McCarthyism

06/14/16 04:15PM

In 2008, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) made a memorable appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball," telling Chris Matthews that she wanted an investigation into members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America." It was hard not to notice the parallels between the right-wing lawmaker and McCarthyism.
 
Two years later, one of Bachmann's closest allies, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), voiced support for the revival of the House Internal Security Committee, the 1960's-era successor to the McCarthyite House Un-American Activities Committee. "I think that is a good process and I would support it," King said in 2010.
 
What's striking is the degree to which the GOP's McCarthyite instincts just won't go away. TPM reported this morning:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed the creation of a new version of the controversial House Un-American Activities Committee to root out American citizens who plan to commit terrorist attacks in the U.S.
 
"We originally created the House Un-American Activities Committee to go after Nazis. We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis and we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We're going to presently have to go take the similar steps here," Gingrich said in a Monday appearance on "Fox and Friends." [...] In 1959, former President Harry Truman infamously called the committee "the most un-American thing in the country today."
Occasionally, we'll hear Democrats accuse Republicans of embracing shades of McCarthyism, and in rare occasions, prominent GOP officials are quite candid while proving Democrats right.
 
The broader question, meanwhile, is whether Republicans mind. Gingrich is no doubt aware of the House Un-American Activities Committee's scandalous legacy, so his explicit endorsement of this as a contemporary model is a reminder that, for much of the right, Joseph McCarthy wasn't necessarily wrong.
President Barack Obama speaks following a National Security Council meeting on the Islamic State at the Department of Treasury in Washington, DC on June 14, 2016. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Obama shreds Republicans' terror talking points

06/14/16 02:30PM

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Republicans have raised plenty of questions about President Obama's counter-terrorism strategy. Today, he answered those questions in rather dramatic fashion.

After a meeting of the president's National Security Council, Obama spoke at some length, not just about where things currently stand, but also about the misguided rhetoric coming from the far-right.
"For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize the administration and me for not using the phrase 'radical Islam.' 'That's the key,' they tell us. 'We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists.'
 
"What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.
 
"This is a political distraction.... There is no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam.' It is a political talking point. It is not a strategy."
The president went to explain that he's "careful" in his language, not because of political correctness, but because of a practical security strategy.
 
"Groups like ISIL and Al Qaida want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West," Obama explaining, highlighting facts Republicans choose not to understand. "They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion of Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.
 
"They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people, that they speak for Islam. That's their propaganda, that's how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists' work for them."
 
The president then turned his attention to Donald Trump's ideas directly.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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