Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of Congress' fiercest anti-immigrant voices, has cultivated a reputation for offending a whole lot of people with racially charged rhetoric. Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) no longer makes any effort to defend him, last year dismissing King as an "a**hole."
Friday, however, the far-right congressman broke new ground, adding a new group of people to his list.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said he doesn't understand how American Jews can be "Democrats first and Jewish second" and support President Obama's approach to Israel.
"Well, there were some 50 or so Democrats that decided they would boycott the president's speech. One thing that's happened is -- just look at the polling, that means -- here is what thing that I don't understand, I don't understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president," said the Iowa Republican on Boston Herald radio Friday, asked about members of Congress who did not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress earlier in the month. [...] Asked if anti-Semitism was a factor, he said it was a component along with "just plain liberalism."
Even for King, this is pretty nutty stuff. The decision not to attend the prime minister's speech to Congress was a complex one, based in large part on Benjamin Netanyahu's unprecedented partnership with congressional Republicans who ignored U.S. protocols in the hopes of sabotaging American foreign policy. For Steve King to suggest the Democrats are anti-Semitic because they disagree with Netanyahu and a GOP stunt is ridiculous.
But more striking still is the notion that American Jews need lessons from a right-wing Catholic about the nature of Jewish identity.
The 2016 presidential race has arguably been underway for months, but it lacked an important element: officially announced candidates*. That changed overnight, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) kicked off his campaign with an announcement on Twitter, unveiling a 30-second video filled with stock imagines and a voice-over from the far-right senator.
"It's going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again, and I'm willing to stand with you to lead the fight," Cruz said in the video, which featured footage of churches, baseball games, cornfields and other campaign-friendly imagery.
Cruz will follow the Twitter announcement with a formal kick-off event this morning in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the senator will deliver a speech at Liberty University, a right-wing evangelical school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, a radical TV preacher perhaps best known for blaming 9/11 on Americans. The Texan's speech is expected to begin around 10 a.m.
To get a sense of Cruz's platform, the candidate's campaign website is up and running, and he stakes out the positions most would expect him to embrace. The site also glosses over the fact that Cruz hasn't actually accomplished much since joining the Senate two years ago -- note the text that uses phrases like "fought for" and "sponsored." (The campaign's online presence also overlooks Cruz's most notable exploit since reaching Capitol Hill: the senator took a leading role in shutting down the federal government in October 2013.)
Of course, as any presidential campaign gets underway, the first question is always the same: does the candidate stand a good chance at success? In the case of Ted Cruz, answering the question isn't as straightforward as it is with his likely rivals.
Exactly five years ago today, the White House hosted a signing ceremony in the East Room for one of the most important policy breakthroughs in a generation. Policymakers from both parties have talked about providing health security for all of the nation's families for roughly a century, but on March 23, 2010, officials gathered not just to talk but to celebrate action.
Vice President Biden introduced President Obama to the audience and, in comments that weren't intended for the public's ears, said to the president off-mic, "This is a big f***ing deal." Five years later, there's little doubt that Biden was entirely correct.
If you'd told me five years ago that on March 23, 2015, the Affordable Care Act would exceed expectations on every possible metric, including reducing the nation's uninsured rate by a third, I'd say "Obamacare" would look like a great success. And fortunately for the country, that's exactly what's happened.
Anniversaries are a good time to pause, reflect, and take stock, and when it comes to health care reform, objective observers are going to find it easy on the ACA's fifth anniversary to appreciate the law's triumphs. But it's also a good time to take a moment to acknowledge those who told Americans exactly what to expect from the Affordable Care Act -- and who got the story backwards.
Failed Prediction #1: Americans won't enroll in the ACA
In 2009 and 2010, it was widely assumed among Republicans that Democrats had fundamentally miscalculated public demand and consumers would show no real interest in signing up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, among some on the right, this was a foregone conclusion -- Americans wouldn't trust "Obamacare." We now know, of course, that the opposite is true and that millions of families have eagerly signed up for benefits through the ACA.
Failed Prediction #2: The ACA won't meet its enrollment goals
OK, so maybe some consumers would enroll, Republicans eventually said, but the ACA would inevitably lose the numbers game when the enrollment projections proved overly ambitious. In reality, both this year and last year, enrollment totals exceeded the Obama administration's preliminary projections.
Failed Prediction #3: Insurers will want no part of the ACA system
First up from the God Machine this week is a legislative debate on gun policy in Arizona that, at least first, had absolutely nothing to do with religion, though the deliberation took an unexpected theological turn.
At issue in the Arizona state House this week were two bills related to firearm ownership: a proposal to make it easier for Arizonans to carry concealed weapons in public establishments and a bill related to transferring guns between states. One lawmaker, Republican Eddie Farnsworth said the ability to buy a gun is among Americans' "God-given rights," which set an interesting debate in motion.
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales (D) rose to oppose one of the bills, and threw in a note of correction to her colleague's statement about the divine.
"Twice on this floor I've heard members say that I have the God-given right to bear arms, and since I know that God didn't write the Constitution, I just wanted to state that," she said. "And I vote no."
Soon, other state representatives joined the discussion, with one insisting the Constitution was written by "humans, great humans."
Farnsworth, unimpressed, argued in response that "those who penned this" believed that Americans are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."
"This," however, was in reference to the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. The former says we are "endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights" -- firearms are not mentioned in the document -- while the latter makes no mention of God and establishes a government created by "we the people."
Ultimately, it seems these details did not change the outcome of the debate. As the Phoenix New Timesreported, the Republican-led chamber approved both gun measures.
Rachel Maddow reports on an anti-gun publicity stunt that is so powerful in making its point that gun rights groups are freaking out, voicing their objections and attacking States United to Prevent Gun Violence any way they can. watch
Kasie Hunt, MSNBC political correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the ready availability of live streaming video from a cell phone and the likely effect new technology will have on how politics is covered in the United States. watch
Rachel Maddow points out that cars that drive themselves are a thing of the present, no longer a thing of the future, and similarly futuristic technology in the media and political journalism fields promise to transform the way politicians campaign. watch
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard last night emphasized the need for a political strategy in Iraq to correspond with any military strategy to fight ISIS in Iraq. Crucial to the whole process is that Congress take up the matter for debate and ultimately vote. The United States may seem mired in unending war in Iraq, but Americans should at least be able to expect a ...
* A crushing day in Yemen: "Four suicide bombers hit a pair of crowded mosques in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Friday, killing at least 137 people and injuring more than 300 others, officials told NBC News. The ISIS affiliate in war-torn Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant."
* Fracking: "A day after President Barack Obama signed an executive order to cut the U.S. government's greenhouse gas emissions, his administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to reveal the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing."
* Confirming a successor will be impossible: "The head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives plans to step down at the end of the month after more than three years of leading the agency, according to an official announcement on Friday."
* It seems as if the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State University has absolutely no idea what "satire" means.
* Breathing room: "U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed on Thursday to delay until April 14 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's vote on legislation that would force President Barack Obama to submit any nuclear agreement with Iran for Congress' approval."
* The probes in New Jersey aren't over: "Federal prosecutors issued a new subpoena to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this week seeking possible evidence of claims New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration retaliated against the Democratic mayor of Jersey City."
* The country deserves better than this: "Republicans are trying to transform the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules into the same sort of drawn-out controversy as Benghazi and Obamacare -- providing a new springboard for sustained political attacks on the White House."
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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