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China-made detection reagent of Ebola virus made by Shenzhen Puruikang Biotechnology Co., Ltd. is seen on August 26, 2014 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province of China.

House Republicans slash request to combat Ebola

09/10/14 08:35AM

[Updated below] Just yesterday, a World Health Organization doctor arrived infected with Ebola virus in Atlanta for treatment. He or she -- the physician has not yet been named -- is the fourth Ebola patient to arrive in the United States for care.
It's against this backdrop that President Obama requested $88 million from Congress to combat the Ebola outbreak, which is currently the worst on record. As Joanna Rothkopf reported, the White House request is only part of a global effort -- the United Nations estimates that $600 million is needed to fully address the crisis, compensate for equipment shortages, and properly dispose of the dead.
House Republicans have considered Obama's request. Apparently, they don't like it -- The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers intend to provide less than half of the resources requested by the administration.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) agreed as of Tuesday morning to spend a total of $40 million to fight the epidemic in the 2015 spending bill.
This would include $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $15 million for the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to ramp up production of an experimental anti-Ebola drug, the source said.
Here's what I really want to know: did congressional Republicans scrutinize the details of the proposal and uncover ways to achieve the same public-health goals with less money? Or did the GOP lawmakers see the administration's recommendation, conclude that it "sounds like a lot," and arbitrarily pick a smaller number?
We'll probably never know for sure, though given the post-policy tendencies of congressional Republicans, I have my suspicions.
Law enforcement officers, including a sniper perched atop an armored vehicle, watch as demonstrators protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.

Police militarization draws bipartisan Senate scrutiny

09/10/14 08:00AM

The immediacy of the crisis in Ferguson has clearly eased, but the legacy of recent developments in this Missouri community lives on.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), for example, vowed two weeks ago to take the lead on examining the militarization of local police departments, and yesterday, she did just that in her capacity as the chair of Senate Homeland Security's panel on contracting oversight. Pentagon officials who testified at the hearing got an earful.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed deep skepticism about the Defense Department's 1033 program, which since the 1990s has provided local police departments with more than $5 billion worth of surplus military equipment, including assault rifles, body armor, and armored vehicles.
The Pentagon says the program is intended to help police combat terrorists and drug cartels, but the senators suggested some police departments may be overstepping their authority by using this military equipment for crowd control at riots.
What was perhaps most striking about yesterday's Senate hearing, however, weren't the pointed questions directed at Defense Department officials. Rather, it was the unanimity on display -- for all the deep, partisan tensions on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans, at least on this committee, were entirely on the same page when it came to the Pentagon's 1033 program.
McCaskill took the lead, but her concerns were quickly echoed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Indeed, Paul noted that nearly 12,000 bayonets had been sent to local police, leading the senator to ask a perfectly sensible question: "What purpose are bayonets being given out for?"
Alan Estevez, the Pentagon's principal deputy under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, replied, "Bayonets are available under the program. I can't answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for."
And that's part of the problem. No one else seems able to answer it, either.

ISIS airstrikes and other headlines

09/10/14 07:54AM

Obama ready to authorize airstrikes on ISIS in Syria. (NY Times).

White House: Congress will have a role in ISIS strategy. (The Hill)

One last Congressional incumbent turfed out in the primaries. (NY Mag's Daily Intelligencer)

Kansas Democrat sues to get his name off the Senate ballot. (AP)

Ferguson residents demand 'justice for all' at City Council meeting. (

Breitbart News Network claims IRS harassment. (Politico)

Last night Missouri executed its 8th prisoner this year. (AP) A Texas inmate is scheduled to die tonight. (Reuters)

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Wendy Davis seeks to rouse dormant Democratic giant in Texas

09/10/14 03:23AM

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for governor, talks with Rachel Maddow about how foregone conclusions about Republican election dominance has allowed the state's political discourse to stagnate and fostered a sense of hopelessness among Democrats and groups likely to vote Democratic. In her first cable news interview since the publication of her new memoir, "Forgetting to be Afraid," Davis explains why she thinks this burgeoning electorate is powerful enough to put her in the governor's office.

Video and transcript after the jump...

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Ahead on the 9/9/14 TRMS

09/09/14 07:06PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post
  • Wendy Davis, Texas state senator, Democratic candidate for governor, author of the newly released, "Forgetting to be Afraid"
  • Xeni Jardin, editor, tech culture journalist,

Here's executive producer Cory Gnazzo with a look at what's coming up tonight:

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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 9.9.14

09/09/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* I'll never fully understand how the right perceives this as nothing: "The U.S. military says it launched five more airstrikes in support of Iraqi government troops and Sunni tribesmen protecting the Haditha Dam against fighters of the Islamic State group that controls parts of northern and western Iraq."
* Syria: "An explosion killed the leader of one of Syria's most powerful Islamist insurgent groups Ahrar al-Sham on Tuesday, the group said, and an organization that monitors violence in the civil war said at least 28 of its commanders had died."
* Encouraging economic news: "The number of U.S. job openings remained near the highest level in 13 years in July, and companies also stepped up hiring that month to the fastest pace in nearly seven years, two signs the job market is slowly healing."
* Additional sanctions on Russia? "The Obama administration is putting the finishing touches on a new round of sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis."
* Climate crisis: "Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record-shattering pace last year, a new report shows, a surge that surprised scientists and spurred fears of an accelerated warming of the planet in decades to come."
* Hopefully not the last hearing on the militarization of local police: "Senators blasted the Pentagon on Tuesday for providing police forces with an overabundance of military equipment, which they say laid the groundwork for what unfolded in Ferguson, Mo., last month."
* Republican Bob McDonnell is out at Jerry Falwell's college: "Ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has lost his teaching gig at Liberty University. The Christian college announced on Friday they had ditched the disgraced politician after he was convicted on multiple federal corruption charges."
* The cast of "Fox & Friends" argued this morning that domestic violence "is a very serious issue to us." There was reason to believe otherwise yesterday.

'Most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq'

09/09/14 04:52PM

Following up on this morning's report, Dick Cheney was on Capitol Hill once again today, delivering yet another round of advice to congressional Republicans on foreign policy as if he still has credibility on the subject. The failed former vice president was reportedly "greeted with affection," and received standing ovations from the assembled GOP lawmakers.
This seemed to summarize the ridiculousness of the scenario nicely.
Asked if he saw any irony in Cheney coming to talk to Republicans about next steps in Iraq, [New York Rep. Peter King] said firmly, "No, because most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq."
And there it is. Even now, years later, as the world struggles with the consequences of a disastrous war, which the Bush/Cheney team handled in the most incompetent, dishonest, and corrupt ways possible, congressional Republicans look back and think, "Yep, that was a smart move."
If anyone ever wonders why credible debates over foreign policy seem so incredibly difficult right now, look no further than the fact that "most" congressional Republicans consider the worst foreign-policy catastrophe in a generation "the right thing."
Indeed, the Huffington Post's report on GOP reactions to Cheney's remarks -- journalists were not allowed to hear or see the gathering -- were disheartening.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, responded, "What he talked about was we've, Republicans, have had a position on peace through strength. You look at all the Republican presidents we've had back to [Dwight] Eisenhower. You know they all understand, if you're not strong, then you invite aggression. When you invite aggression, you end up with people getting killed.... It's important to be strong, and that's what he talked about."
This will no doubt be disappointing to the pro-weakness contingent of American politics.
I mean, really. If we're "not strong" we "invite aggression"? This is empty, meaningless rhetoric. In the Reagan/Bush era, attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts around the globe reached unprecedented heights, including the deadly assaults in Beirut in 1983. The size of the Pentagon budget and our commitment to presenting a "strong" posture were irrelevant.