Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) recently generated national headlines with a bizarre tale: the far-right congressman said he had secret information about ISIS militants entering the United States through the Southern border. The more the claims were subjected to scrutiny, the more Hunter's claims looked dubious.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) says the Obama administration must beef up security on the southern border of the U.S. because of the threat posed by terrorists and the growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
"You simply have to secure the border and make sure that people we don't want coming in the country whether they have Ebola or they're terrorists, name your terrorist organization, they're coming in through the southern border. This isn't that complicated," he said on Sean Hannity's radio show Wednesday.
Well, complicated or not, when the congressman says, in reference to terrorists, "they're coming in through the southern border," this is still highly suspect.
Indeed, though Hunter and his aides insisted that his original claims were accurate, the California Republican is no longer sticking to his initial argument. He told Sean Hannity, "Mark that as one score against me, I should've said al Qaeda terrorists."
But that's wrong, too -- there's literally no reason to believe "al Qaeda terrorists" have snuck into the United States through the nation's southern border. Such fearmongering, by all appearances, is entirely baseless. "Mark that as one score against me"? I think Hunter means two against him -- he's not even correcting himself accurately.
Just two weeks ago, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) insisted his "real-live experiment" in cutting taxes far beyond what his state could afford was "working." There's new evidence that says otherwise.
The failures of Brownback's radical experiment have been evident for a while: the governor's economic plan has fallen short on every possible metric. The state's finances are in such shambles, Kansas' bond rating was downgraded, and then downgraded again.
Josh Barro reported yesterday on the state missing its tax revenue targets once again, leaving Kansas' fiscal health in even worse shape than previously believed.
You may recall that Kansas gained national attention back in June because it had cut income taxes and lost a lot more revenue than lawmakers had anticipated.... In June, state lawmakers debated whether the revenue shortfall was temporary. [...]
Revenue numbers for July through September, the first three months of fiscal year 2015, suggest Kansas' revenue gap is permanent, not temporary.... Kansas' wide miss was probably a result of wading into uncharted territory with its tax reforms.
State officials are now suggesting revenue might increase next year, making the fiscal mess a little less drastic, but let's not forget that part of the Brownback experiment includes another income tax rate cut scheduled to take effect in January.
And while these developments seem likely to affect Kansas' very competitive gubernatorial race, let's not forget that this isn't just about Kansas.
As we discussed yesterday, Rep. Don Young (R) recently spoke at an Alaska high school, less than a week after a student had committed suicide, and managed to offend nearly everyone. Yesterday, he managed to make matters much worse.
In his high school appearance, the Republican congressman used "salty language," told a story "that involved flying to Paris to get drunk," compared marriage equality to "bull sex," and said the boy who committed suicide must have lacked support from his friends and family. The school's principal later said, "We really spend a lot of time at our school talking about how we treat each other. We just don't talk to people that way."
But Don Young does. In fact, the Alaska Dispatch Newsreports today that the GOP lawmaker actually added insult to injury yesterday, expanding on his offensive remarks about suicide.
Young on Wednesday was back in the Valley, this time talking with about 100 people at the Palmer senior center run by Mat-Su Senior Services.
Asked about the "lack of support" comment, Young expanded on it and added that suicide in Alaska didn't exist before "government largesse" gave residents an entitlement mentality, according to an audio recording of his senior center appearance.
According to the audio recording made available to the Alaska Dispatch News, the state's largest newspaper, the congressman told voters yesterday, "When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn't have the suicide problem."
Suicide comes from federal government largesse "saying you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing," he added.
In the 2010 midterms, Republican Senate hopeful Sharron Angle used a chilling phrase as part of her political vision: "Second Amendment remedies." In context, Angle argued that if U.S. policymakers pursued an agenda the far-right disapproved of, Americans may have to turn to armed violence against their own country.
The Republican candidate lost her Senate bid, and most of this talk receded to the fringes of right-wing politics.
It did not, however, disappear entirely from the Republicans' rhetorical quiver. Sam Levine had this report overnight.
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.
"I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere," Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. "But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important."
In the United States, if we believe our rights are being violated by the state, we turn to the courts. In Joni Ernst's world, if we believe our rights are being violated by the state, we turn to guns.
This comes on the heels of a report showing Ernst expressing support for arresting federal officials who try to implement federal laws the far-right doesn't like. Noting the two radical positions, Jamison Foser joked, "First Joni Ernst wants to arrest government employees, now she wants to shoot them?"
After last week's extraordinary report on initial unemployment claims, this week's data was bound to be at least a little disappointing. But the fact remains that figures like these remain quite encouraging in the larger context.
The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 17,000 last week to 283,000, but initial claims remained below the key 300,000 level for the sixth straight week to reflect the low level of layoffs taking place in the economy. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 285,000 in the week ended Oct. 18.
The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 3,000 to 281,000 to mark the lowest level in 14 years, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly data and is seen as providing a more accurate snapshot of labor-market trends.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it's worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it's best not to read too much significance into any one report.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it's considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. At this point, we've been 300,000 in 10 of the last 20 weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knows the value of a strong closing message. The incumbent senator is in the midst of the toughest race of his lengthy career -- polls show him clinging to a tiny lead over Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) -- and with very little time remaining, McConnell wants to sprint to the finish line with his strongest message.
And yet, for some reason, the longtime lawmaker has chosen to emphasize women's issues in his final pitch.
Team McConnell unveiled this new ad late yesterday, featuring four women speaking to the camera. For those who can't watch clips online, here's the script:
First woman: Alison Lundergan Grimes wants me to think that I'm not good enough.
Second woman: That I couldn't get a job, unless Washington passed more laws.
Third woman: That I can't graduate college, without raising your taxes.
Fourth woman: She wants me to believe that strong women and strong values are incompatible.
Third woman: She thinks I'll vote for the candidate who looks like me.
First woman: Rather than the one who represents me.
After they say they're voting for McConnell, the first woman says "he believes in me."
This is the sort of ad a politician runs if he's convinced voters just aren't very bright.
Part of the problem, of course, is that McConnell is a poor messenger for a weak message. He is, after all, the same senator who opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay, voted repeatedly to kill the Violence Against Women Act, rejected the Paycheck Fairness Act, and voted to restrict contraception access. Closing the campaign with a discussion about women's issues seems like an odd choice.
Charlie Angus, member of the Canadian Parliament, talks with Rachel Maddow about his experience being inside the Parliament building during today's deadly shooting, and the need for a measured reaction given the domestic nature of the shooter. watch
Rachel Maddow reviews the history of attacks on the Canadian Parliament building, beginning with a botched bombing in 1966 that only killed the would-be bomber because of a miscalculation with the bomb's fuse. watch
Rachel Maddow looks at the past few weeks leading up to the deadly shooting Ottawa, Ontario in Canada, with Canadian authorities on particularly heightened alert over terror concerns, and a previous attack by someone on their watch list. watch
* The latest from Ottawa: "A Canadian soldier guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa was shot and killed Wednesday, and a burst of gunfire minutes later terrorized Parliament and sent lawmakers scrambling for safety. A gunman was confirmed dead, but confusion gripped Canada's capital for hours after the attack began."
* It's not a travel ban, but it's smarter: "The Centers for Disease Control just announced new measures designed to stop international visitors from spreading Ebola in the U.S. Under the new system, anybody who has been recently to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone will be subject to what CDC officials call 'active monitoring' -- which will involve, among other things, mandatory temperature checks for 21 days after arrival in the U.S."
* Ferguson: "The official autopsy on Michael Brown, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, shows the Ferguson, Missouri teenager was shot in the hand at close range. The accompanying toxicology report reveals the 18-year-old had a trace of marijuana in his system, according to the local newspaper."
* Guilty: "Four former Blackwater guards have been found guilty of killing 14 people and injuring 17 more in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisour Square. One guard, Nicholas Slatten, was found guilty of first degree murder, while the other three were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter."
* I really wish Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would be a little more cautious about calling others "idiots," especially when he's talking about Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby.
* UNC: "A blistering report into an academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina released Wednesday found that for nearly two decades two employees in the African and Afro-American Studies department ran a 'shadow curriculum' of hundreds of fake classes that never met but for which students, many of them Tar Heels athletes, routinely received A's and B's."
* Combatting ISIS goes beyond airstrikes: "[David S. Cohen], a fastidious Yale Law School graduate who is known inside the White House as the administration's 'financial Batman,' is a first line of attack against the Islamic State. His title is under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence and he may be more important in the fight against the Islamic State than the Tomahawks fired off American warships or the bombs dropped from F-16s. He has become a fixture in Mr. Obama's Situation Room."
* Media fail, Part I: "In an opinion piece published Tuesday by Politico Magazine, 'No, BP Didn't Ruin the Gulf,' author Geoff Morrell writes that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst off-shore oil spill in American history, was much less disastrous environmentally for the Gulf Coast than expected. He complains that 'advocacy groups cherry-pick evidence' and 'blame BP for any and all environmental problems afflicting the Gulf.'" What's less clear for readers is the fact that the article was written by a BP employee.