As Mitt Romney moves closer to launching yet another Republican presidential campaign, the former governor has told people close to him that he would make poverty one of the pillars of his candidacy. Friday night in San Diego, Romney boarded an aircraft carrier and was even more specific on this in remarks to RNC members.
He said the 2016 campaign should center on making the world safer, offering opportunity for all Americans and lifting people out of poverty.
"Under President Obama the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty in American than ever before," Mr. Romney said.
The comments drew howls for good reason. The failed former candidate, as recently as 2012, dismissed 47% of Americans as lazy parasites and told a national television audience he's "not concerned about the very poor."
Making matters worse, Romney espouses a far-right economic agenda, predicated on cutting taxes on the wealthy, which would exacerbate the problem on purpose. The very idea of the Republican whining about the rich getting richer under President Obama -- as if the hyper-elitist conservative feels justified going after the president from the left -- is painfully ridiculous, even by Romney standards.
But there's a related angle to this that hasn't generated enough attention: Romney apparently hopes to draw attention to a problem he explicitly said must be ignored.
Just over eleven years ago, the European Space Program launched the Mars Express mission consisting of the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2 lander (built in the UK). The orbiter successfully reached Mars in December 2003 and jettisoned the lander towards the surface, but after entering Mars's atmosphere, the lander was never heard from again. Scientists came up with many theories as to what may have gone wrong, but there was no way to know what really happened. Until now.
First up from the God Machine this week is a report out of Mississippi, where some lawmakers have decided it's time to make the Christian Bible the official state book (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).,
Rep. Tom Miles of Forest says he and fellow Democratic Rep. Michael Evans of Preston are filing a bill, and they already have received bipartisan promises of support from more than 20 of their colleagues.
Miles says Mississippi has a state bird, a state flower and even a state toy, so it should have a state book.
According to the local report in the Clarion-Ledger, the lead sponsor of the proposal said this week "that he's not trying to force religion -- or even reading -- on anyone."
If this sounds at all familiar, Louisiana very nearly made the Christian Bible its official state book last year, but backed off once the bill's sponsor acknowledged some "constitutional problems."
In case it's not obvious, similar "problems" would plague the Mississippi effort, if it proceeds. In our system of government, government is expected to remain neutral on matters of religion, and for state policymakers to specifically endorse one religion's holy text would almost certainly run afoul of the First Amendment.
In other words, Mississippi would be inviting a costly lawsuit that it would inevitably lose.
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Rachel Maddow reports on the newly announced Republican 2016 presidential primary debate schedule, which includes fewer, more constrained events to reduce the opportunity for campaign-damaging candidate gaffes. watch
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Nina Totenberg, NPR legal affairs correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow about the implications and expectations of the Supreme Court's announcement that it will take up the matter of marriage equality in a consolidated set of gay marriage cases. watch