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Rev. Pat Robertson, center, talks to attendees at a prayer breakfast at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. on Jan. 16, 2010. (Photo by Clem Britt/AP)

This Week in God, 6.18.16

06/18/16 07:00AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the reactions to the mass-shooting in Orlando from some evangelical Christian leaders, who didn't exactly respond with compassion and grace. Take TV preacher Pat Robertson, for example.
[Tuesday] on "The 700 Club," televangelist Pat Robertson reacted to the massacre at an Orlando gay club by making the absurd claim that liberal LGBT rights advocates have aligned themselves with radical Islamists and are now reaping what they have sowed.
 
Robertson said that liberals are facing a "dilemma" because they love both LGBT equality and Islamic extremism, and that it is better for conservatives like himself not to get involved but to instead just watch the two groups kill each other.
"The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves," he told his audience.
 
As the Right Wing Watch report added, Robertson's show later clarified that the televangelist was "referring to politics -- killing themselves politically." I'm not entirely sure what that means.
 
He was not, however, alone. As Rachel noted on Tuesday's show, Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento told his congregation that Christians "shouldn't be mourning the death of 50 sodomites." From the pulpit, Jimenez called the massacre "great," adding, "The tragedy is that more of them didn't die. The tragedy is -- I'm kind of upset that he didn't finish the job!"
 
The same day, preacher Steven Anderson in Tempe also celebrated the mass-murders, saying that he thinks it's "good news" that "there are 50 less pedophiles in this world."
 
For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the massacre was a gut-wrenching tragedy, but for some Christian extremists, this attack was a blessing to be cheered. That shouldn't be considered the norm among Christian preachers, but this doesn't make their radicalism any less offensive.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
How an Islamic extremist found a new path

How an Islamic extremist found a new path

06/17/16 09:39PM

Sohail Ahmed, a self-described reformed Islamic extremist, talks with Rachel Maddow about the terror attacks he had considered and what ultimately changed his mind, including the role of the 7/7 London attack and his own homosexuality. watch

Friday's Mini-Report, 6.17.16

06/17/16 05:05PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Iraq: "Iraqi forces advanced into the center of Fallujah on Friday, liberating a majority of the city from ISIS and raising the national flag over a government building, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials."
 
* London: "Investigators confirmed Friday they were looking into whether the man suspected of assassinating a respected British lawmaker had ties to right-wing extremists."
 
* California: "A wildfire near Santa Barbara continued to grow Thursday and spread deeper into the Los Padres National Forest as crews struggled to find hilltops and trailheads where they could mount a strong defense, officials said."
 
* Split the difference? "With Congressional leaders once again at a stalemate over how to respond to a mass shooting, the Senate’s most moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, is developing a compromise measure that would prevent some terrorism suspects from purchasing weapons, while sidestepping partisan flash-points that have doomed similar legislation in the past and threaten to do so again next week."
 
* Add retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to the list of prominent Americans urging Congress to approve new measures to address gun violence.
 
* Speaking of deadly issues Congress would prefer to ignore: "For the second straight year, the Earth sweat through its warmest spring on record, federal scientists announced Thursday."
File Photo: Rhino 500 handguns are on display at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits on April 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images, File)

Stage set for major Senate showdown on gun policy

06/17/16 01:10PM

This week offered a dramatic Democratic filibuster on gun reforms. Next week will offer the results of the Senate Dems' efforts.
The Senate will vote on four gun control measures Monday after being prodded by a 15-hour filibuster in the wake of the shooting massacre at a Florida nightclub.
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, filed cloture motions Thursday on four gun-related amendments to a spending bill, a day after Democrats ended their filibuster to force some sort of action on gun restrictions.
Democrats, who've struggled to get gun-related bills onto the Senate floor since Republicans took control over the majority, demanded votes on two measures, which GOP leaders accepted as part of an agreement to end Wednesday's filibuster. But Republicans are packaging these two votes with two amendments of their own on the same issue.
 
To clear the chamber, each will need 60 votes. There are 46 Senate Democrats. (For context, note that the bipartisan background-check bill considered after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre received 54 votes in a Democratic Senate in 2013, while the terror-watch-list bill received 45 votes two years later.)
 
Any measure approved by the Senate would face fierce resistance in the GOP-led House.
 
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. What exactly will senators be voting on when the chamber reconvenes on Monday?

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 6.17.16

06/17/16 12:06PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* In Florida, Rep. David Jolly (R) ended his Senate bid this morning, announcing he would run for re-election to his House seat instead. The move sets up a big showdown pitting Jolly against former Gov. Charlie Crist (D). [This item has been updated.]

* As Rachel noted on the show last night, Bernie Sanders delivered a lengthy address to supporters last night, describing his vision for a progressive national platform. Despite the end of the primary process, and his second-place finish, the senator did not concede, did not endorse Hillary Clinton, and made no indication of when he might drop out.
 
* Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said Team Sanders is not lobbying superdelegates in the hopes of convincing them to oppose Clinton.
 
* It's unlikely we'll see him publicly hit the campaign trail, but former President George W. Bush is headlining some fundraisers for vulnerable GOP senators, including New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, Arizona's John McCain, and Missouri's Roy Blunt.
 
* To no one's surprise, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Clinton campaign is not considering Sanders as a possible running mate, but it is vetting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
 
* This has to be one of my favorite sentences of the year to date: "A spokesman for [Gov. Chris] Christie denied he was a manservant." Good to know.
 
* In statewide polling, PPP has Clinton leading Trump in Iowa by three points (44% to 41%); PPP shows Clinton leading Trump in Virginia by the same margin (42% to 39%); and Marquette University has Clinton leading Trump in Wisconsin by seven points (42% to 35%).
 
* In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, PPP's survey shows incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) leading Patty Judge (D), 48% to 41%.
 
* While most congressional GOP leaders have gotten in line, grudgingly supporting Trump's candidacy, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has decided to remain neutral.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) walks to the House Chamber for a procedural vote on the House floor, Sept. 28, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

GOP congressman: 'Muslim community' wants to kill all gays

06/17/16 11:02AM

The day of the mass-shooting in Orlando, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) saw a partisan opportunity. In a striking statement, the far-right Texan effectively challenged his foes on the other side of the aisle: "If you're a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder."
 
Soon after, this became a surprisingly common talking point among Republicans, including Donald Trump. As we talked about the other day, the pitch is ugly but straightforward: a Muslim killed 49 people in a gay nightclub; Republicans are anti-Muslim; therefore LGBT voters should support Republicans.
 
The trouble is, the house of cards collapses pretty quickly for anyone who pauses to think about the argument. Indeed, to take the pitch seriously, one has to find arguments like this one from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) persuasive.
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks said on Thursday that the American Muslim community would "kill every homosexual in the United States of America" if it had its way.
 
Brooks, a Republican, made the comment after being asked on the Matt & Aunie show on WAPI radio about why the left refuses to acknowledge that it is "mainstream Muslim thought" to put homosexuals to death.
As the BuzzFeed report noted, Brooks said on the radio show that Democrats "are in a perplexing position. On the one hand, they're trying to appeal to the gay community, but, on the other hand, they're trying to also appeal to the Muslim community, which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America."
 
Mo Brooks has a deeply unfortunate habit of saying all kinds of bizarre things, but this one has to be right up there on his Greatest Hits list.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Cleveland Industrial Innovation Center, June 13, 2016, in Cleveland. (Photo by Tony Dejak/AP)

Clinton campaign takes a chance on early offensive

06/17/16 10:00AM

There's a school of thought that says presidential campaigns shouldn't go on the offensive too early. The election season is a marathon, the argument goes, and campaigns that do too much, long before the electorate is fully engaged, risk running low on resources when crunch time hits in the fall.
 
Hillary Clinton's campaign has no use for these assumptions. NBC News reported yesterday that the Democrat's "first battleground advertising blitz of the general election" has begun.
The TV ad buy -- in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia -- has a price tag of at least $7.3 million. And it uses the TV ad it unveiled on Sunday hitting Trump ("What kind of America do we want to be? Dangerously divided or strong and united?"), as well as two new positive bio spots on Clinton (here and here). [...]
 
More than anything else, the ad blitz demonstrates Clinton's financial superiority right now. How long will she have the battleground-state airwaves to herself? Remember, the pro-Clinton Super PAC is already on the air in these states. But where's the Trump/GOP cavalry?
The answer, of course, is that this cavalry doesn't exist. On the contrary, as we discussed last week, Trump is falling behind financially -- and disputes the idea that he'll need to catch up.
 
But what about the long-held assumptions about campaigns wasting money by going on the air too early? Team Clinton doesn't buy it, and they have some recent evidence to back up their plans.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., participates in a news conference.

Top Trump ally distances himself from presidential candidate

06/17/16 09:00AM

Way back in February, when most congressional Republicans were still hoping Donald Trump's presidential campaign would collapse, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) became only the second federal lawmaker to throw his support behind the controversial candidate.
 
"We don't need a policy wonk as president," Hunter said at the time. "We need a leader as president.... I don't think Trump wants my endorsement. And that's one reason why I like him."
 
Yesterday, the California Republican said something a little different. 
"I am not a surrogate. I am a congressman. I can't speak for anybody else but me," Hunter told The Hill later Thursday, explaining his comments to the reporters.
 
"Everybody's asking me to explain all these things that he said," Hunter added. "Some of these things, I don't know what Donald Trump is thinking. ... I don't know where Donald Trump is coming from."
The Hill's report added that Hunter said he was confronted by "like seven reporters" after leaving the House floor yesterday. "I just said, 'Time out. I am a congressman. I am done talking [about Trump].'"
 
Under the circumstances, that's a curious message. Hunter not only endorsed Trump, the congressman is literally the co-chair of Trump's U.S. House Leadership Committee, serving as a liaison between the presumptive nominee's campaign and Capitol Hill.
 
In fact, The Hill's report said Hunter took it upon himself to lead Trump's outreach efforts to Congress and currently "feeds national security information to the Trump campaign."
 
The Washington Post recently described Hunter as one of the six members of Congress Trump trusts most.
In this Oct. 20, 2015 photo Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters near the subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP)

John McCain: President Obama is 'directly responsible' for Orlando

06/17/16 08:00AM

When Donald Trump said yesterday that President Obama was "directly responsible" for the deadliest mass-shooting in American history, it was the latest evidence of a candidate who's abandoned any sense of propriety or decency.
 
Wait, did I say Donald Trump? I meant John McCain.
Republican Sen. John McCain on Thursday blamed President Barack Obama for the deadly shooting in Orlando that killed 49 club goers.
 
He said the president is "directly responsible for it because" of his "utter failures" in Iraq.
"Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria and became ISIS and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures, utter failures by pulling everybody out of Iraq thinking that conflicts end just because we leave," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to audio obtained by NBC News.
 
The senator added, "So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies."
 
It wasn't long before McCain realized this kind of unhinged rhetoric might be problematic, so the senator soon after issued a follow-up statement saying he "misspoke."
 
That's probably not the right word. When someone says "Iraq" when they meant "Iran," that's misspeaking. When the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee delivers a 65-word rant blaming the president for a mass murder, that's more than a slip of the tongue.
 
McCain added, by way of a "clarification," that he was blaming the president's "national security decisions" for the rise of ISIS, "not the president himself."
 
How gracious of him.
 
The clumsy walk-back notwithstanding, what's wrong with McCain's argument? Everything.
Filibuster earns votes, new gun reform talk

Filibuster earns votes, new gun reform talk

06/16/16 09:41PM

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut talks with Rachel Maddow about his 15-hour filibuster in the Senate for new gun regulations, and his surprise that it actually produced results and has sparked new negotiations with Republicans. watch

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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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