The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
Paris Unity Rally, Obama’s Absence, & the White House’s Response
Led by dozens of world leaders, more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday to rally for unity, solidarity, and defiance after three days of terror, which Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for. Noticeably absent from the rally was the U.S., and the media excoriated the White House for not sending any high-ranking officials. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted on Monday that the U.S. had ‘erred’ in skipping out on the rally, but when further questioned, refused to “unpack” the decision-making process that led to the absence. And to make matters worse, the White House still questions the judgment of Charlie Hebdo for their decision to publish satirical cartoons of Mohammed.
Charlie Hebdo Is Back, (Some) Media Continue Showing Solidarity, & Jews Are Leaving France
Since last week’s attacks, a newspaper in Germany that reprinted some of Charlie Hebdo’s Mohammed cartoons was firebombed. One paper in Montreal cleverly published a “Draw Mohammed” connect-the-dots picture. And “The Simpons” paid tribute by running a clip of Maggie holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign. Proving they aren’t afraid of anything, the remaining Charlie Hebdo editors went ahead with its publication this week, complete with more Mohammed cartoons. They ended up printing 3 million copies, which sold out before dawn. But some countries, like Turkey, took steps to ban websites showing the cover. Britain’s Sky News wasn't far behind, though, after cutting away and apologizing to viewers after a Charlie Hebdo writer displayed the new cover on air. In light of the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has implored French Jews to come to Israel, and it seems the wounded owner of the Kosher supermarket where one of the attacks took place is taking him up on the offer. Shockingly, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter linked the attacks, in part, back to Israel. On an uplifting note, the Muslim immigrant who hid shoppers from the gunman during the attack on the supermarket will be given French citizenship.
The Great Immigration Debate
Ahead of the House passing a DHS spending bill that effectively defunds Obama’s executive amnesty, Sen. Jeff Sessions this week delivered a 22-page memo to every Republican member of Congress on how the GOP should reframe the immigration debate. House Speaker John Boehner defended the House’s action this week and said the president’s executive amnesty is an “affront to the rule of law and the Constitution itself.” But the White House promised that President Obama would veto the House-passed DHS funding bill, should it reach his desk. Republican moderates, for their part, are using the recent terror threat (from a mama’s boy) on the U.S. Capitol as an excuse to cave on amnesty. Meanwhile, the Mexican government is making it easier for illegal immigrants to take advantage of Obama’s amnesty by issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the U.S.
Campaign & Election Rumblings
The focus of this week’s election news was that Mitt Romney will likely run again, leading many to wonder if there’s a Romney-Bush war looming. In Iowa polling, Romney is still on top, leading Bush by 7, and he’s even said to be courting Sen. John McCain’s vote. Gov. Scott Walker, however, has gently suggested Romney is a candidate from the past and that the GOP needs a fresh face to beat Clinton. Speaking of Hillary, there is no doubt left that she’s running, as she’s hired a number of key Democratic players to help with her ‘emerging presidential bid,’ including the architect of Obama’s imperial presidency, John Podesta. Back on the GOP front, Paul Ryan will not seek the Republican nomination in 2016, but Sen. Rand Paul is reportedly making moves, and yes, even Sen. Lindsey Graham is considering a White House run. At the state level, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will not run in the state’s Senate race for retiring Barbara Boxer’s seat. And in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill has decided she's not tossing her hat into the gubernatorial ring in 2016. The RNC also announced this week the dates for the 2016 Convention in Cleveland.
House and Senate Republicans headed off to Hershey, Penn., to discuss a number of policy issues and legislative realism. Sen. John Thune and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the retreat was about unveiling America’s new Congress. At the Heritage Foundation, which released a new book on Monday embracing conservative populism, Rep. Luke Messer outlined the conservative plan for school choice and Rep. Chris Smith exposed another lie in Obamacare about funding for abortion. The Keystone Pipeline also marched forward in the Senate this week, which is still wildly popular in polling.
Obamacare, the IRS, & That Terrible Liberal Policy
Washington Examiner editor Phil Klein released a book this week about how Republicans can reverse the government takeover of health care. In the meantime, however, The Chicago Tribune reminded consumers about the law’s higher costs and fewer benefits for workers. With tax season about to open, IRS commissioner John Koskinen is warning that budget cuts to the agency will result in delayed refunds, identity theft, long wait times, and a possible shut down of the agency. He’d do well to collect back taxes from the agency’s own employees first, however. And back to the IRS scandal, new emails obtained through a FOIA request also came out this week about Lois Lerner begging her supervisor not to visit the Cincinnati office just ahead of the 2012 elections. Finally, yet another study has come out finding that minimum wage hikes may have accounted for an astonishing number of jobs lost during the 2008 recession.
Terrorism & National Security
The White House is refusing to use the words “radical Islam” to describe radical Islam, which is exactly what human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes it is. Since the Charlie Hebdo attack, multiple ISIS-affiliated sleeper cells are being activated across Europe, and Belgian authorities have already foiled major terrorist attacks. Saudi Arabia, for their part, is constructing a 600-mile wall in an effort to keep ISIS out. And in Iraq, their gruesome attacks continue, with new video out showing the jihadists throwing men off buildings for being gay, women being stoned for adultery, and men being crucified for theft. In the U.S., ISIS sympathizers hacked CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube accounts this week while Obama was speaking about cybersecurity. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is going full steam ahead with its plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay, releasing five more detainees originally from Yemen.
Graphics by Feven Amenu.