Rachel Maddow reports on the use of children by Muslim extremist groups ISIS and Boko Haram and the upset they're causing the Muslim community with their aggressive recruitment of young people to join their campaign of terror. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on a dramatic day in French Parliament in which legislators observed a moment of silent for last week's terror victims, spontaneously sang the national anthem, and voted to authorize continued military action against ISIS in Iraq. watch
* Charlie Hebdo is "coming out swinging – and Muslim leaders aren't happy.... Muslim leaders condemned the attacks unilaterally last week, but they've pushed back ahead of the new issue's publication on Tuesday, insisting that the magazine was provoking the Muslim community and exacerbating relations."
* France: "France's lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved extending French airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. The vote came after France's worst terrorist attacks in decades.... The vote was 488 to 1."
* Also in France: "The investigations into last week's terrorist attacks in Paris broadened Tuesday, with authorities casting a wider net for suspects and seeking clues on the funding networks of the Islamist gunmen and other presumed allies."
* Nigeria: "As the world continues to mourn the 17 lives lost in the multiple attacks last week in Paris, some people are questioning why the international community isn't grieving similarly for the estimated 2,000 people killed by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria this month."
* ISIS released "a video on Tuesday that appears to show a child soldier shooting and killing two prisoners whom the militants accuse of spying for Russia."
* Leak case: "James Risen, a New York Times reporter, will not be called to testify at a leak trial scheduled to begin this week, lawyers said Monday, ending a seven-year legal fight over whether he could be forced to identify his confidential sources."
* More good economic news: "Job openings climbed in November to the highest level in almost 14 years as the strengthening U.S. economy fueled demand for labor."
* New Mexico: "Two Albuquerque police officers were charged with murder Monday for their part in the March shooting of a mentally ill homeless man that prompted widespread protests and drew renewed attention to the city's history of officer-involved shootings."
There isn't a democracy on the planet in which even conservative candidates take aim at citizens' access to health care. At a certain level, the very idea seems a little silly -- a national candidate would presumably fail if he or she told their electorate, "Vote for me and I promise to leave some of you behind without access to basic medical care."
But the United States is the exception. The Republican Party is the only major party in any major democracy that believes citizens are not entitled to medical care as a benefit of citizenship. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), as we discussed yesterday, wants the GOP to abandon universal coverage as a worthwhile goal.
The Affordable Care Act may have extended new health security to tens of millions of families, but Jindal and Republicans believe voters should elect them to deliberately take that security away.
In theory, this should be a very tough sell. Why in the world would any Americans consider voting, on purpose, for a platform that could deliberately punish their own family?
The answer, I suspect, has a lot to do with the power of fear.
The New York Times recently published a fascinating piece on Kentucky's triumphs in implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the article highlighted a woman named Amanda Mayhew. On paper, the piece presents Mayhew as a classic example of an "Obamacare" success story: thanks to the ACA, she been able to receive free, overdue dental care; she was able to see a dermatologist for free; and she received medication to treat depression for free. This one law has made a big, positive difference in her life.
And then came the twist.
"I don't love Obamacare," she said. "There are things in it that scare me and that I don't agree with."
For example, she said, she heard from news programs that the Affordable Care Act prohibited lifesaving care for elderly people with cancer.
Mayhew went on to tell the NYT that she's "thankful" for her coverage, she would "gladly give up my insurance today if it meant that some of the things that are in the law were not in place."
When it comes to Mitt Romney's 2016 ambitions, we appear to be going through a series of phases. In Phase 1, Romney publicly vowed not to run; he ruled out any future campaigns; and it was obvious that observers shouldn't consider him a possible candidate.
In Phase 2, it seemed as if Romney wouldn't run, but for whatever reason, he didn't want to close the door altogether, even as the rest of the field started to take shape.
As of today, it seems we've entered the third "Good lord, I think he's serious" phase.
Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign.
Romney's message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he "almost certainly will" make what would be his third bid for the White House.
We kicked around some of the various angles yesterday, but some new developments shed additional light on Romney's thinking.
We now know, for example, that Romney is telling supporters that President Obama only won because of a good economy. (Romney spent 2012 telling America that the economy was in the toilet, which makes this explanation for defeat rather odd. And if the economy keeps improving, national appetite for change will be diminished further in 2016.)
There's also Romney's outreach to his party's far-right base and his assurances to conservatives, according to the Washington Post's report, "that he shares their views on immigration and tax policy -- and that should he enter the race, he will not forsake party orthodoxy."
But what I found especially interesting is what Romney would include in his platform:
It was just two weeks ago that Americans learned that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R), during his tenure as a Louisiana state lawmaker, spoke at a white-supremacist gathering in 2002. Within a few hours of the story breaking, Republican leaders would only say that they were "aware of" the story and were "monitoring" developments,
One assumes that Scalise probably had a chat or two with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who very likely asked whether there were any other embarrassing revelations on the way. Within a few days, however, it seemed as if the GOP was satisfied that Scalise didn't realize he was speaking to a white-supremacist group, and the Majority Whip kept his post.
And while it's true that there haven't been any bombshell disclosures, we continue to learn details that bring the larger context into sharper focus. The Hillreported this morning:
Six years before he spoke to a white supremacist group, while he was a state legislator, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) voted against a resolution apologizing for slavery, according to a 1996 article from New Orleans's Times-Picayune.
Scalise later backed a watered-down version that expressed "regret" for slavery. But the article identifies him as one of two lawmakers on the Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs Committee who tried to kill the original resolution, which apologized to African-Americans for the state's role "in the establishment and maintenance of the institution of slavery."
The entire text of the 1996 article from the New Orleans paper is not available online, but it is accessible by way of the Lexis-Nexis database and The Hill's description appears to be entirely accurate.
At the time, Louisiana's Governmental Affairs Committee was going to approve a resolution apologizing for slavery, but it was changed to instead express "regret." Scalise, according to the Times-Picayune was one of only two committee members who tried to kill the original resolution, before it was amended.
"Why are you asking me to apologize for something I didn't do and had no part of?" Scalise was quoted as saying at the time. "I am not going to apologize for what somebody else did."
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:
* California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) kicked off her U.S. Senate campaign this morning and began raising funds. She enters the race as the frontrunner to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).
* In related news, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) surprised many yesterday announcing that he will not run for the Senate. Look for Newsom to instead run for governor in 2018 (thanks to reader R.S. for the heads-up).
* In New Jersey, a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows Gov. Chris Christie's (R) approval rating dropping to just 39%.
* Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), recently re-elected to a second term despite a series of first-term problems, said this week's he's considering a Senate campaign against Sen. Angus King (I) in 2018. To put it mildly, the governor would be a heavy underdog in such a match-up.
* In New York's upcoming congressional special election, Republicans appear to be rallying behind Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan (R), but as of yesterday, Democrats aren't even sure how seriously they'll take the race. Rep. Michael Grimm (R) resigned last week.
* As expected, the governing board for the Iowa Republican Party agreed to keep the Ames Straw Poll. The gathering is scheduled for August of this year.
The recent successes of the Affordable Care Act pose a challenge for the right, at least in theory. The more "Obamacare" works effectively, and the more Republican predictions are discredited, the more difficult it should be for conservatives to deny what is plainly true.
And yet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) doesn't seem to mind. The Texas Republican delivered some predictable red meat at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit yesterday, taking aim at the health care law he loves to hate.
Obamacare, he asserted, has wrought "devastation." He called it a "train wreck" that has cost millions of Americans their jobs or access to doctors of their choice, and forced employers to roll back working hours.
I find rhetoric like this fascinating because it's so completely detached from reality. If the ACA were really causing "devastation" -- and "millions" of U.S. job losses, as Cruz claimed yesterday -- it'd be pretty obvious.
All of this, incidentally, comes against an inconvenient backdrop: the more the Affordable Care Act is implemented, the stronger the American economy becomes. This is not to say there's a definite causal relationship between the two, but if "Obamacare" were "devastating" the economy -- seriously, Ted, "millions" of job losses? -- the evidence is hiding extremely well.
I've been eager to see how Republicans respond to this, and apparently the answer is a combination of deep denial and an enthusiastic embrace of make believe.
In light of the recent controversy surrounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the last thing Republican officials want right now is a racially charged incident involving a Republican National Committee member.
But as National Journalreported, that's exactly what the party has ended up with -- just in time for the RNC's winter meeting.
There's an elephant in the room as the Republican National Committee prepares for its annual winter meeting in San Diego this week -- one that could undercut the group's minority outreach message and instead saddle the GOP with another racially-charged crisis.
Dave Agema, Michigan's RNC Committeeman, has a well-documented history of making inflammatory statements.... In a recent Facebook post, Agema re-published an essay from American Renaissance, a white-supremacist newsletter. The article, which Agema said he found "very enlightening," argued that "blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike."
Yes, just two weeks after the public learned that a House Republican leader spoke at a white-supremacist gathering, the new story is about an RNC member who expressed support for a piece from a white-supremacist newsletter.
Agema ended up deleting the offending Facebook post, but he has not apologized, and he still reportedly intends to attend the RNC's winter meeting in San Diego this week, the controversy notwithstanding.
It's generally been assumed that the Republican presidential field in 2016 wouldn't just be competitive -- it'd be enormous. The Huffington Post's Pollster chart ranking the GOP presidential hopefuls by poll support shows literally 15 candidates.
The prospect of these 15 people sharing a ballot is daunting; the prospect of them sharing a debate stage is almost comical.
But at this very early stage, one of the under-appreciated questions is not who'll throw their hat in the ring, but rather, who'll take themselves out of the running early on. The fact remains that before the primary phase gets underway in earnest, possible contenders have to work their way through the pre-primary narrowing, and that phase is arguably underway now.
Ed Rogers, a Washington Post conservative, raised a fair point last week:
[I]t is still early, and a lot will happen in the next few weeks, but I think the shrinking of the 2016 Republican field has already begun.
He published this several days before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced he'll skip the 2016 race.
This actually happens with some regularity. In advance of the 2012 election, former Gov. Haley Barbour (R) had not only expressed an interest in the race, but he'd begun traveling to states with early contests and assembling a staff. He then took a long, cold look at his odds and passed on the cycle. The same year, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and others thought about jumping in, and received quite a bit of attention, but ultimately withdrew from consideration. Others, like Tim Pawlenty, launched a campaign, but quit long before a single voter had even cast a ballot.
About a year, President Obama announced an executive order requiring federal contractors to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour." As expected, congressional Republicans were not pleased. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), for example, called the president a "Socialistic dictator" and the "Kommandant-In-Chef."
He probably meant "chief."
Last night, the right-wing congressman offered the world another look at his rhetorical flourishes.
Texas Rep. Randy Weber, an outspoken conservative hardliner, compared President Barack Obama unfavorably to German dictator Adolf Hitler in a tweet posted Monday night.
Weber bashed Obama for failing to travel to Paris on Sunday for a massive anti-terrorism march attended by dozens of other world leaders.
Specifically, on Twitter, the unhinged lawmaker wrote, "Even Adolph Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris. (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn't do it for right reasons."
It's not every day that a foreign leader feels the need to publicly criticize an American pundit, but under the circumstances, British Prime Minister David Cameron was on firm ground yesterday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had harsh words for the Fox News guest who on Sunday said the British city of Birmingham was "totally Muslim."
During an interview on Monday with ITV News, Cameron called Fox News "terrorism expert" Steven Emerson a "complete idiot" over the comments.
Specifically, the British prime minister said, "When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool's Day," adding, "[T]his guy is clearly a complete idiot."
In a separate interview, Gisela Stuart, who represents Birmingham in the House of Commons, added, "I checked whether this was some kind of early April Fool spoof, and then I thought he was talking about Birmingham, Alabama. But then I realized he was just utterly and completely wrong."
To appreciate why British officials were so irritated, it's important to understand just how far Fox News' Steven Emerson went during his on-air interview with anchor Jeanine Pirro. Emerson, presented as an "expert" on counter-terrorism, told a national television audience that the population of Birmingham, England, is now "totally Muslim," and has become a city where "non-Muslims just simply don't go."
He added, "[P]arts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to religious Muslim attire."
Pirro not only failed to push back, she actually endorsed the bizarre thesis. "You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a caliphate within a particular country," the host replied.
Remember when congressional Republicans got worked up about President Obama's immigration policy? GOP lawmakers threatened a government shutdown over their new favorite phrase -- "executive amnesty" -- and vowed to force an ugly confrontation in the new year.
Well, the new year is here, and as early as today, the House Republicans' legislative strategy is poised to move forward. As Benjy Sarlin explained, the basic idea is to fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security -- either the White House scraps its relief for millions of immigrants or GOP lawmakers will cut off funding for the agency by the end of February.
The new iteration [of the Republican plan] would not only block the [entire White House] program, but [would also] stop new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants relief to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and reverse a 2011 memo ordering immigration authorities to prioritize deporting criminals.
"Only three words describe the Republican approach to immigrants: deportation, deportation, deportation," Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said in a statement.
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) told reporters last week about his party's policy, "Essentially what it says is the president cannot fund an activity that is unconstitutional and illegal."
For the record, few seriously believe the president's policy is "unconstitutional and illegal" -- no one in either party made this argument when Obama's predecessors took very similar actions -- and there are no court rulings to bolster the dubious Republican assertions.
The real question, however, is just how far GOP lawmakers intend to go in pushing this standoff. Or put another way, would Republicans really cut off Homeland Security funding because of some bizarre animus towards undocumented immigrants?