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'OMG I would totally ROCK that game!!'

10/17/14 09:48PM

Are you a real and actual fan of The Rachel Maddow Show?

Do you shout, "WAIT FOR IT" ten minutes into the opening segment because you know it's about to take that revelatory turn?

Do you sing, "What's your function?" when you see the Debunktion Junction animation (even though that song isn't even in there).

Do you roll your Rs when you pronounce the name Reince Priebus?

Do members of your extended family know not to call you between 9 and 10 at night?

Or perhaps you're part of the hockey stick legion that gives our web traffic a sudden spike at the end of the day when the video clips are published?

Was your dog startled when you found out that TRMS is playing a new game on Fridays called The Friday Night News Dump, and you jumped up on the couch with a loud hoot and boasted that you'd be the most dominant player that game would ever see?

Well such a player you can, in fact, be.

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Ahead on the 10/17/14 Maddow show

10/17/14 07:49PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Michael Beschloss, NBC News Presidential historian
  • Jeffrey Jarman, KSN-TV Political Analyst and professor Wichita State University
  • Shauna Edson, commanding Friday News Dump player

Be sure to stay tuned until the end of the show tonight -- we are debuting a new segment! 

....Ok, Cory's video blew up my computer tonight, so we may have to skip this one.

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Friday's Mini-Report, 10.17.14

10/17/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Kobani: "Increased airstrikes over the besieged Syrian city of Kobani have allowed the American-led coalition to take out large numbers of Islamic State fighters, the top American commander for the Middle East said on Friday."
 
* Dallas: "No restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters or other places where members of the public congregate. No travel by airplane, ship, long-distance bus, train or other modes of commercial transportation. Such are the restrictions that dozens of health care workers who treated the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan are being asked to follow for the 21-day maximum incubation period of the virus."
 
* Senegal: "The World Health Organization said on Friday that the Ebola outbreak in Senegal is officially over. Senegal's first and only confirmed Ebola patient traveled to the country by road from Guinea in August, bringing the virus with him."
 
* Marriage equality is now legal in every Southwestern state except Texas: "Arizona same-sex couples can begin marrying immediately, after Attorney General Tom Horne announced this morning he will not appeal the court ruling striking down Arizona's marriage restriction."
 
* And don't forget Wyoming: "A federal judge has ordered Wyoming to allow same-sex marriage but has stayed his decision so that the state can appeal if it wants. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled Friday that the state must comply with a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that permits same-sex marriage."
 
* Ukraine: "A high-stakes meeting between the leaders of Ukraine and Russia ended Friday with little progress in resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, highlighting the increasingly intractable struggle there between government forces and Russian-backed rebels."
 
* Should the United States impose a travel ban on West Africa? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave two very different answers to that question over the course of just 24 hours, suggesting he's making stuff up as he goes along.
 
* Some folks sure are predictable: "Conservative media figures lashed out at President Obama's appointment of Ron Klain as the Ebola response coordinator or 'czar,' criticizing the selection as 'insane' and 'dumb.' Klain has been praised for his work in government and has been called 'a great choice' to deal with the Ebola crisis by other media outlets."
 
* On a related note, congressional Republicans, who've demanded a "czar," are now outraged that Obama's appointed a "czar."
Republican Representative from South Carolina, Joe Wilson speaks on a cell phone while walking to a meeting of House Republicans on the fourth day of a partial federal government shutdown, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA, 04 October 2013.

Joe Wilson strikes again

10/17/14 04:44PM

After nearly 14 years in Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) seems to have generated national attention just once: he shouted "You lie!" during one President Obama's speeches to a joint session of Congress.
 
But the far-right South Carolinian is still out there, and regrettably, he's still saying odd things.
A Republican congressman says terrorists from Hamas could purposely infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to America.
 
Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina was asked Thursday, during a question-and-answer after a speech, about the threat of Ebola entering the country through the U.S.-Mexico border. Referring to the "hypothetical," Wilson said, "I'm very concerned. We had people who, I'll repeat it, the creed of Hamas: We value death more than you value life. What? That's their creed."
 
The South Carolina congressman suggested that to promote their ideology, Hamas militants could send themselves to the United States, a situation he said could be avoided by sealing the southern border.
Oh my.
 
Apparently, Republicans are increasingly invested in the notion of disease-ridden Islamic State militants somehow contracting Ebola on purpose and somehow entering the United States. This is a deeply foolish argument that's taken root in the far-right fever swamp.
 
But to throw Hamas into the mix is very strange, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Hamas and ISIS aren't allies. For that matter, Hamas has no apparent interest in attacking the United States -- with Ebola or anything else.
 
Does Wilson, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, understand this?
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-FL, debates during a Florida House session as a state representative, April 27, 2006, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Sponsor of travel-ban bill stumped on key detail

10/17/14 03:50PM

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) announced this week that he intends to introduce new legislation when Congress returns to work on an issue getting lots of attention: Ross bill would "ban travel between the U.S. and West African countries" in order to, in his words, prevent Ebola "from further infiltrating our homeland."
 
There's reason to believe, however, that the Florida Republican announced his proposal before doing his homework. As Igor Bobic noted, Ross appeared on msnbc this morning and ran into a little trouble.
A member of Congress who wants to ban travel from countries afflicted by the Ebola outbreak appeared to be unaware of a key fact -- that there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone. [...]
 
Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.
 
"I believe there are some flights," Ross responded.
There are not. As the New York Times' Jeremy Peters was quick to remind the congressman, "There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect."
 
As a factual matter, Peters is right. The question is why the congressman doesn't know that and why he didn't bother to check before unveiling his legislation.
 
The exchange coincide with remarks from Mike Leavitt, the former Bush/Cheney HHS Secretary and Mitt Romney aide, who agrees that there are "lots of problems" with proposed travel bans. It's worth appreciating why.
A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014.

Conservatives continue to incorporate ISIS propaganda into ads

10/17/14 12:39PM

After Islamic State terrorists murdered journalist James Foley, his family pleaded with the public to avoid ISIS's propaganda video that showed the murder of the innocent American. It's amazing to see just how many Republican campaigns have chosen to ignore the family's wishes.
 
It started over the summer with a U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico, followed soon after by a U.S. House candidate in Arizona. And this week, a right-wing group called Secure America Now joined the club.
James Foley, the American journalist murdered by ISIS militants, makes a cameo in a series of web ads from the Secure America Now, a right-wing nonprofit national security organization that lists on its advisory board people like former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Ambassador John Bolton.
 
The advertisements target Democrats running in competitive midterm elections.... It isn't clear if the advertisements are running on TV or are Internet-only.
The group specifically targeted Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who appears likely to join the Senate soon.
 
I continue to believe there's a problem with those who see ISIS's propaganda video and think to themselves, "Excerpts from this would look great in a campaign commercial." Perhaps they should reevaluate their priorities.
 
Not surprisingly, James Foley's parents called the conservative group's attack ads "deplorable" and asked for an apology.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.17.14

10/17/14 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
 
* In Georgia's U.S. Senate race, a new poll from a local CBS affiliate shows Michelle Nunn (D) leading David Perdue (R) by about a percentage point, 45.69% to 44.72%. If neither candidate gets 50%, a runoff will be held in December.
 
* The same poll showed Georgia's gubernatorial race all tied up between incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Jason Carter (D).
 
* In Massachusetts' gubernatorial race, Boston Globe polls have been pretty volatile, with its newest survey showing a tied race between Martha Coakley (D) and Charlie Baker (R), each of whom has 41% support.
 
* In Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Tea Parier Rob Maness (R) is getting some help from Mississippi's Chris McDaniel, whose GOP primary against Sen. Thad Cochran came up short over the summer. Maness eagerly accepted McDaniel's endorsement, calling him "the top vote getter in the Mississippi U.S. Senate primary race" (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).
 
* The National Republican Senatorial Committee new TV ad in South Dakota accuses Democrat Rick Weiland and independent Larry Pressler of having some liberal ideas "in common."
 
* In Kansas' U.S. Senate race, the NRA is running a new attack ad against Greg Orman (I), accusing him of supporting "the Obama/Bloomberg gun control agenda."
 
* In Nebraska, Republicans are apparently worried enough about Brad Ashford's (D) congressional campaign that the NRCC put together arguably the most Willie Horton-esque ad in a long time.
The White House seen from the South Lawn Aug. 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

White House taps Klain to oversee Ebola response

10/17/14 11:21AM

Congressional Republicans, eager to make Ebola a campaign issue, have been clamoring for two things: a travel ban to West Africa and an Ebola "czar." The former would likely make the public-health problem worse, while the latter is ironic given how much energy these same GOP lawmakers invested in decrying the existence of czars.
 
Regardless, the right is apparently getting its wish.
President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain to head up efforts to address the Ebola threat, a senior administration official tells NBC News.
 
Klain is a former chief of staff to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore. He left the vice president's office in 2011. He is now the president of Case Holdings and serves as the general counsel for Revolution, an investment organization.
Obama signaled his openness to appointing an Ebola "czar" Thursday night, telling reporters that it "may be appropriate" to elevate an additional person to coordinate the U.S. response.
 
Klain, who was among top contenders to replace Jack Lew as the White House chief of staff last year, certainly knows his way around the bureaucracy of the executive branch. As best as I can tell, he has no background in public health, but that's not really the point -- this appears to be a job intended to oversee government agencies, which Klain understands well.
 
Will Republican respond positively? Probably not. Tommy Thompson, a HHS Secretary under Bush/Cheney, is already using this as evidence to bash Obama all over again -- if the president wants a new policy coordinator on Ebola now, Thompson's argument goes, it must mean the president put the wrong officials in place before.
 
I can only assume the GOP lawmakers who hated czars, only to demand more czars, will go back to hating czars again by the end of the day.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined by attorneys Paul D. Clement, far left, and Rick Esenberg, second from left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and th

What Ron Johnson sees as a 'real and present danger'

10/17/14 10:38AM

The Weekly Standard, a prominent conservative magazine, has a piece in its new issue with a headline no doubt intended to get readers' attention: "Six Reasons to Panic." Take a wild guess what the article is about.
 
Reason #3, in particular, is quite a scenario: "What's to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected [with Ebola], and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car?" It leads the Weekly Standard to suggest "drastic precautions," though the piece wasn't specific as to what those might be.
 
It's tempting, of course, to just laugh off the conservative magazine, but the more significant problem is that this same line of thought is being espoused by public officials who have a responsibility to be more responsible. Andrew Kaczynski had this report yesterday:
A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a "real and present danger."
 
"Well, it's certainly something I've been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started," Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America's Forum on NewsmaxTV.
Specifically, the Republican senator told the far-right outlet, "You really don't even want to think about. You really don't even want to talk about, but we should do everything possible to defend ourselves against that possibility because I think that is a real and present danger."
 
Did I mention that Ron Johnson is a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee? Because he is.
 
In case anyone's wondering whether the senator's fears are rooted in fact, let's set the record straight. Or in this case, let's have the director of the FBI explain the situation clearly.
Hurricane Katrina 8th Anniversary - Emma Margolin - 08/29/2013

Lazy labels are a poor substitute for substance

10/17/14 10:10AM

It was only a matter of time. Conservative media, and even some journalists who should know better, have decided Ebola is -- you guessed it -- "Obama's Katrina."
 
How many "Katrinas" are we up to? The media has been rather cavalier in throwing the label around in recent years, applying it to healthcare.gov, Superstorm Sandy, the 2010 midterms, the BP oil spill, migrant children from Central America, AIG bonuses, swine flu, and the Haiti earthquake. Dave Weigel and Judd Legum have found others.
 
Dylan Scott's response rings true.
Other legacy-defining crises -- Obama's Katrinas, if you will, and that's been used now with Ebola, too -- have come and gone. The media has hyped those as well. Now, Americans need level-headed information so that they know that their lives aren't imminently at risk because of Ebola. But you can't expect them to understand that if this is how the situation is being presented to them.
Right. It's not that the Ebola threat is meaningless, because the opposite is true. We're talking about a legitimate danger that requires the nation's -- and the world's -- public-health infrastructure needs to respond deliberately and effectively. By all appearances, officials recognize the seriousness of the situation, and as Dylan put it, "The entirety of the U.S. public health apparatus is now being concentrated on keeping it to a quite literal handful of cases."
 
But that's all the more reason to avoid lazy political labels that tell the public nothing of value.
 Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) walks on stage before speaking at the 2014 Values Voter Summit Sept. 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Rand Paul's recklessness spins out of control

10/17/14 09:17AM

A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) started making appearances on far-right radio, questioning Ebola assessments from the actual experts, blaming "political correctness," and raising threats that seemed plainly at odds with the facts.
 
Soon after, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the Allergy and Infectious Diseases Institutes at NIH, appeared on CBS and was presented with the Republican senator's assessment. "I don't think that there's data to tell us that that's a correct statement, with all due respect," the doctor said.
 
At the risk of putting too fine a point on this, it's no longer clear just how much respect Rand Paul is due. My msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin reported yesterday from New Hampshire, where the senator appeared eager to move the public conversation backwards.
Rand Paul had a message for students at Plymouth State University who had gathered for a pizza party with the Kentucky senator on Thursday: Ebola is coming for us all and the government is hiding the truth about the deadly disease. [...]
 
"This thing is incredibly contagious," Paul said. "People are getting it, fully gowned, masked, and must be getting a very tiny inoculum and they're still getting it. And then you lose more confidence because they're telling you stuff that may not be exactly valid and they're downplaying it so much that it doesn't appear that they're really being honest about it."
On CNN, Paul added, "If someone has Ebola at a cocktail party they're contagious and you can catch it from them. [The administration] should be honest about that.... You start to wonder about a basic level of competence."
 
Yes, if there's one person who has standing to whine about "a basic level of competence," it's the often confused junior senator from Kentucky -- the one who's deliberately contradicting medical experts, confusing the public at a difficult time.
David Perdue speaks during a forum in Atlanta, Jan. 27, 2014.

Georgia's Perdue fears voters 'really don't understand'

10/17/14 08:40AM

In the latter half of September, eight polls were released publicly on Georgia's U.S. Senate race, and each one showed Republican David Perdue in the lead. Over the last week, however, three statewide polls have come out in Georgia, and Perdue suddenly isn't leading in any of them.
 
Roll Call reported yesterday that the National Republican Senatorial Committee confirmed the party is "looking at a tougher race in Georgia," where the contest between Perdue and Michelle Nunn (D) "has tightened up."
 
It's not lost on officials in either party that Republicans may come up short in their bid to control the U.S. Senate because of Georgia, Kansas, and South Dakota, even if voters in Colorado and Iowa go with surprisingly right-wing candidates.
 
There are competing explanations for developments in Georgia, but the most obvious is Perdue's outsourcing problem -- the conservative Republican has boasted, more than once, about his controversial private-sector background, which includes significant job losses through outsourcing, on top of factory closings, consolidations, and reduced work hours at U.S. facilities.
 
Last week, pressed on his outsourcing record, Perdue told reporters, "Defend it? I'm proud of it."
 
A couple of days ago, facing a new round of questions, the GOP Senate hopeful got a little defensive. Laura Clawson flagged this Perdue quote, which was all he would say on the subject.
"You know, the criticism I've gotten over the last few weeks is coming from people who really have no business background and really don't understand, um, you know, what it takes to create jobs and create economic value, which is really what this free enterprise system is based on."
Hmm. According to Perdue, if the people of Georgia, living in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country, are bothered by outsourcing, it's because they're ignorant?
 
The video of his comments help drive home the political significance.
Republican senatorial candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst, speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition fall fundraiser on Sept. 27, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Justin Hayworth/AP)

A radical ideology comes into sharper focus

10/17/14 08:00AM

In last night's debate in Iowa, Senate hopeful Joni Ernst (R) made two observations that connect in an important way. The right-wing state senator argued in support of a constitutional amendment that would require a balanced federal budget, before adding that she wouldn't raise any tax under any circumstance.
 
Whether the Republican Senate hopeful understands this or not, the practical implications of these two positions are extraordinary: Ernst would effectively be required, under her own misguided constitutional mandate, to dismantle most of the federal government.
 
Then again, from Ernst's perspective, that may very well be a feature of her plan, not a bug. Greg Sargent reported yesterday on a newly uncovered 2013 speech in which Ernst details her "rather stark views about the relationship of Americans with their government."
In it, Ernst claims that we have created "a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them," and that wrenching them away from their dependence "is going to be very painful." [...]
 
In the audio, Ernst came out for a balanced budget amendment, said that would require "severe cuts," reiterated her desire to eliminate the Department of Education, vowed a "good, hard look at entitlement programs," and said electing a GOP Senate majority would be a key step towards all of this. She also said we are "encouraging people" to get on food stamps.
Though the far-right Iowan wasn't quite as explicit as Mitt Romney was in his infamous "47 percent" video, the parallels matter. Ernst, in Romney-esque terms, complains that "a generation" of Americans "rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them." She vows to rectify this in a "very painful" way, presumably with the most acute pain imposed on those who can afford the least.
 
It is the very height of anti-populism -- the Republican U.S. Senate candidate is convinced that families already struggling to get by simply have it too easy, with the public sector lavishing expansive benefits on them. For those who are just barely keeping their heads above water, relying on America's safety net to survive, the right-wing Iowan has a bleak and punitive message to offer: you've had it too easy for too long, and Joni Ernst has a "very painful" future in store.
 
If struggling families in Iowa turned out in significant numbers this year, Ernst would be facing a landslide defeat.
 
What's more, the GOP candidate's message on health care was just as striking.

Ebola czar? and other headlines

10/17/14 07:54AM

Pres. Obama may name 'Czar' to oversee Ebola response. (NY Times) 

U.S. monitors health care worker aboard cruise ship. (AP)

Sen. Rand Paul: Ebola 'incredibly' contagious. (AP)

Ebola, abortion central in final Iowa Senate debate. (Bloomberg Politics)

Rick Scott faces the 'Fangate' heat. (Politico)

How older voters will decide your future. (Daily Beast)

Giffords gets aggressive on gun issues. (National Journal)

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