Rachel Maddow reports on Georgia's status as having the worst unemployment rate in the country and highlights how Georgia Republican governor, Nathan Deal, running for re-election, employs a denial strategy to avoid the uncomfortable numbers. watch
Bill Nemitz, columnist for the Portland Press Herald, talks with Rachel Maddow about Independent Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler holding an inexplicable press conference, not to drop out, but not for any other clear reason either. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on remarks made by Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst about using her gun and arresting federal officials, and Ernst's unusual avoidance of meetings with newspaper editorial boards in her state, cancelling scheduled meetings watch
Jamie Perino, owner of Euflor, a marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado, explains to Rachel Maddow how national banking rules prevent legal pot businesses from depositing their money in banks, leaving them with a concerning amount of cash on hand. watch
* White House: "President Barack Obama repeated his message that America needs to support those treating the Ebola outbreak in Africa, saying 'the world owes them a debt of gratitude' -- even as authorities in Maine weighed whether to enforce a quarantine on a nurse there."
* Liberia: "World Health Organization officials on Wednesday said they see 'glimmers of hope' in Liberia, the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic, with strong evidence that the rate of new cases is declining for the first time since the crisis began."
* Kaci Hickox: "The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal."
* Pentagon: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered Wednesday that all U.S. troops who deploy to West Africa as part of the force assisting in the Ebola virus crisis be put in quarantine-like monitoring for 21 days, even though none are expected to treat patients directly."
* The end of QE3: "An upbeat Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the economic recovery was chugging along and that it would end its latest-bond buying campaign on schedule at the end of the month. The Fed, in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, said the bond-buying program had served its purpose by contributing to stronger job growth."
* What happened to the Antares rocket? "Authorities on Wednesday started investigating what caused an unmanned U.S. supply rocket to explode in a fireball moments after liftoff from a Virginia launch pad, destroying supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station."
* ISIS: "Watching the news, you could be forgiven for thinking that ISIS is an unstoppable juggernaut, sweeping Iraq and Syria in an unending, unstoppable, terrible blitzkrieg. But you'd be wrong. The truth is that ISIS's momentum is stalled: in both Iraq and Syria, the group is being beaten back at key points."
* Ferguson: "Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the need for 'wholesale change' in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department was 'pretty clear.'"
* The twists and turns of a bizarre story: "The investigator who led the Department of Homeland Security's internal review of the Secret Service's 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned in August after he was implicated in his own incident involving a prostitute, according to current and former department officials."
Despite her Beltway reputation, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has "surprisingly partisan" political tendencies. As longtime readers may recall, Rice has a reputation for relative high-mindedness, especially when compared to some of her former Bush/Cheney colleagues, but she's a more aggressive Republican than is generally appreciated.
Today, for example, Rice threw her support to one of the nation's most right-wing U.S. Senate candidates: Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst.
"Joni Ernst has dedicated her life to the service of others, bravely leading troops in Iraq and safely bringing them home to Iowa. Now Iowans have an opportunity to make her the first female combat veteran to ever serve in the U.S. Senate," Rice said in a statement released by Ernst's campaign.
"We need more leaders, like Joni, who understand America's role abroad and the threats posed against us," she added.
That's certainly a nice sentiment, but the notion that Joni Ernst has an admirable understanding of America's role abroad is tough to take seriously.
I can see why such nonsense might endear the far-right candidate to a veteran of the Bush/Cheney team, but it doesn't exactly reflect someone with sound judgment on international affairs.
For that matter, Ernst also argued in a recent debate that "there's no sense" in having members of Congress meet their obligations under the Constitution when it comes to authorizing the use of military force abroad.
And, then, of course, there are Ernst fears about the Agenda 21 conspiracy.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) handling of the Kaci Hickox incident, and the Ebola threat in general, has drawn quite a bit of criticism, but the Republican governor believes he has a trump card. In several recent interviews, Christie has emphasized that his policy obviously has some merit, since it's been endorsed by Dr. Bruce Beutler, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2011.
A local report out of the Garden State today noted Beutler's thinking on the subject (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
"I favor it, because it's not entirely clear that they can't transmit the disease," Beutler said.... "It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can't transmit the disease, because we don't have the numbers to back that up," said Beutler, "It could be people develop significant viremia [where viruses enter the bloodstream and gain access to the rest of the body], and become able to transmit the disease before they have a fever, even. People may have said that without symptoms you can't transmit Ebola. I'm not sure about that being 100 percent true. There's a lot of variation with viruses."
In fact, in a study published online in late September by the New England Journal of Medicine and backed by the World Health Organization, 3,343 confirmed and 667 probable cases of Ebola were analyzed, and nearly 13 percent of the time, those infected with Ebola exhibited no fever at all.
As it turns out, that may not be quite right. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine has actually said largely the opposite. As we noted yesterday, the NEJM, arguably the nation's premier medical journal took the unusual step of intervening in a political debate, questioning the value of Christie's policy, and specifically concluding, "an asymptomatic health care worker returning from treating patients with Ebola, even if he or she were infected, would not be contagious."
Obama administration officials' frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently reached the breaking point. One senior U.S. official called the Israeli leader "a chickens**t" because "the only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat."
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said that profanity-laced attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from senior Obama administration officials were an implicit reflection of President Obama's views, adding that the official who called Netanyahu "chickens---" should be fired. [...]
Boehner said that the administration officials should be dismissed. "The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not," Boehner said.
"It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can't muster professionalism that it is time to move on," Boehner added.
Of course, in 2008, it was none other than John Boehner who condemned then-candidate Obama as "chickens**t" over some votes in the Illinois state legislature.
You see, John Boehner sets the tone for John Boehner, and he either condones the profanity and disrespect Boehner uses, or he does not. Perhaps it's time for Boehner to tell Boehner that if he can't muster professionalism then it may be time to move on.
Indeed, this really just scratches the surface of the Speaker's latest nonsense.
There's no point in getting too worked up about every nutty idea from every random Fox News contributor. That's especially true of far-right psychiatrist Keith Ablow. But when Jon Chait thinks he's identified "the craziest idea ever proposed by a Fox News personality," it's worth pausing to take a closer look.
Jessica Torres explained this morning exactly what Ablow had in mind.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow wrote that "it's time for an American jihad" to, forcibly if need be, convert every nation's government into a reflection of the U.S. government.
In an October 28 FoxNews.com op-ed, Ablow wrote that America's history "proves our manifest destiny not only to preserve our borders and safety and national character at home, but to spread around the world our love of individual freedom and insist on its reflection in every government."
There's no reason to believe Ablow was kidding. Under the "jihad" the Fox News contributor envisions, the United States would commit itself to the belief "that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place."
Even our allies -- he mentions France, Italy, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany, seemingly at random -- would be urged to "adopt laws similar to our own." Americans should seek to become policymakers in foreign countries, Ablow argues, and Americans "might even fund" these foreign campaigns.
In the 19th century, Americans had a spirited debate about "manifest destiny" on a continental scale, but Ablow apparently sees no need to stop where the oceans start. Rather, he's describing "manifest destiny" on a global scale.
"[W]herever leaders and movements appear that seek to trample upon the human spirit, we have a God-given right to intervene," he argued in all seriousness.
When Ablow touted his thesis on Fox this morning, Brian Kilmeade said his provocative thesis deserves to be discussed. Ablow replied, "What's to discuss?" Apparently, the merits of an "American jihad" are just that obvious.
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 Maine's gubernatorial race, Independent Eliot Cutler called a press conference this morning to announce he's not dropping out of the race he's now certain to lose. "As we enter the closing days of this campaign, I ask my supporters simply to vote their consciences," he said.
* In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, the latest Loras College Poll shows Bruce Braley (D) up by one point, while the new Quinnipiac poll shows Joni Ernst (R) up by four points.
* Though several recent polls showed Michelle Nunn (D) taking the lead in Georgia's U.S. Senate race, two new polls show David Perdue (R) out in front. The latest SurveyUSA poll shows Perdue up by three points, while a Monmouth poll shows the far-right candidate leading by eight.
* On a related note, the Monmouth survey, which seems like an outlier, also shows Gov. Nathan Deal (R) leading Jason Carter (D), 48% to 42%.
* In Colorado's gubernatorial race, Quinnipiac shows Bob Beauprez (R) with a surprisingly comfortable lead over incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), 45% to 40%. Last week, Quinnipiac had Hickenlooper up by one.
* On a related note, Beauprez is running an attack ad highlighting the murder of former Colorado Dept. of Corrections Chief Tom Clements, which the former congressman inexplicably blames on the governor. Clements' family wants Beauprez to take down the ad.
The conventional wisdom in recent years is that relations between the United States and Israel are at an all-time low, but I've generally been skeptical of the assumptions.
In the Reagan era, for example, Israel vehemently opposed the sale of American weapons to Saudi Arabia, but Reagan did it anyway. Gene Healy over the summer noted that Reagan also "backed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights."
Haaretz's Chemi Shalev put it this way, "[I]f Obama treated Israel like Reagan did, he'd be impeached."
But reading Jeffrey Goldberg's new piece on the "crisis in U.S.-Israel relations," I'm starting to think the conventional wisdom might be correct after all. The article begins with a senior Obama administration official blasting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "a chickens**t."
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations -- dual guarantors of the putatively "unbreakable" bond between the U.S. and Israel -- is now the worst it's ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.
The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet.
"The good thing about Netanyahu is that he's scared to launch wars," the U.S. official told Goldberg. "The bad thing about him is that he won't do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He's not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he's not [Ariel] Sharon, he's certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He's got no guts."
This doesn't exactly come as a shock, of course -- Netanyahu's reputation as a petty political operator exists for a reason -- but the vigor of the U.S. officials' comments reinforce just how much damage Netanyahu has done. If the prime minister's goal was to alienate the White House, he's succeeded brilliantly.
Back in 2007, when the Bush/Cheney administration was eager to give Hans von Spakovsky a six-year term on the Federal Elections Commission, Dahlia Lithwick offered some advice to the Senate: "Do not vote for this guy."
Lithwick's piece was a rather brutal takedown, making the case that von Spakovsky "was one of the generals in a years-long campaign to use what we now know to be bogus claims of runaway 'vote fraud' in America to suppress minority votes." She added, "[E]ven a brief poke at his resume shows a man who has dedicated his professional career to a single objective: turning a partisan myth about voters who cast multiple ballots under fake names (always for Democrats!) into a national snipe hunt for vote fraud." Hans von Spakovsky, Lithwick concluded, "symbolizes contempt for what it means to cast a vote."
Alas, the Republican's persistence has not waned. This week, the Wall Street Journal published a piece from von Spakovsky under the headline, "Here Comes the 2014 Voter Fraud."
What is the likelihood that your vote won't count? That your vote will, in effect, be canceled or stolen as a consequence of mistakes by election officials or fraudulent votes cast by campaign workers or ineligible voters like felons and noncitizens?
Unfortunately, we can't know. But one thing is almost certain: Voter fraud will occur.
Actually, we can know, and what's certain is that the scourge of voter fraud is largely imaginary.
As we discussed in August, the most comprehensive investigation to date into every "specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix" -- research that included "general, primary, special, and municipal elections" -- identified 31 different fraud incidents out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. That's a fraud rate of about 0.00002%.
Hans von Spakovsky, however, says he has a study, too.