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Ebola readiness takes political cast

Ebola readiness takes political cast

10/13/14 11:17PM

Rachel Maddow shares a new political ad that connects cuts in federal spending on disease research and control with lack of preparedness for an Ebola outbreak and considers the realities of U.S. readiness in contrast to prescribed protocols. watch

Stringent Ebola standards test medical system

Stringent Ebola standards test U.S. medical system

10/13/14 11:16PM

Dr. Angela Hewlett, infectious diseases physician at the Nebraska Medical Center, talks with Rachel Maddow about the strict protocols for dealing with Ebola and whether regular medical facilities can be reasonably expected to meet those standards. watch

'Unmitigated corporate gall' hard to resist

'Unmitigated corporate gall' hard to resist

10/13/14 11:14PM

Rachel Maddow, in teasing to an upcoming segment, notes that not even being responsible for a massive ecological disaster is enough to disqualify a corporation from asserting itself on a town's decision-making process. watch

Scandal looms over missing voter applications

Scandal looms in missing voter applications case

10/13/14 11:08PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a lawsuit filed by a Democratic group against the state of Georgia in the matter of tens of thousands of missing new voter registrations as early voting has already begun and major state races are polling tied. watch

Ahead on the 10/13/14 Maddow show

10/13/14 06:56PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Sam Stein, senior political editor and White House correspondent at the Huffington Post
  • Dr. Angela Hewlett, infectious diseases physician at the Nebraska Medical Center who helped treat Ebola patient Richard Sacra 

After the jump, executive producer Cory Gnazzo offers a preview of what we're working on...

read more

Monday's Mini-Report, 10.13.14

10/13/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* CDC: "The second diagnosis of Ebola in the United States means that 'we have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,' the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Monday."
* White House: "President Obama is meeting Monday afternoon with senior members of his administration for a briefing on U.S. efforts to combat Ebola after tests revealed a second case in Dallas.... Obama is also receiving an update on 'broader efforts to ensure the preparedness of our national health infrastructure,' according to the White House."
* Iraq: "Kobani is still holding out against ISIS, the top Kurdish official in the besieged Syria border city said Monday -- but a senior U.S. defense official warned that American air strikes may not be enough to save it from falling to militants."
* An evolving story out of Turkey: "A day after American officials said Turkey had agreed to allow its air bases to be used for operations against the Islamic State, which they described as a deal that represented a breakthrough in tense negotiations, Turkish officials said on Monday that there was no deal yet, and that talks were still underway."
* Saturday's protests: "A few thousand protesters participated in a 'Justice for All' march in St. Louis on Saturday, one of the largest and most diverse gatherings since activism began over the Aug. 9 police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown."
* Sunday's protests: "What began as an interfaith service meant to bring a bruised community together in the wake of Michael Brown's death instead exposed the fissures of a movement of young activists who feel frustrated by the black establishment."
* When Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) talks about Kansans who've lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, he appears to have absolutely no idea what he's talking about.
* Ugh: "House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, once released a statement that said federal and state governments had 'redistributed' 'trillions of dollars over the years' -- amounting to 'de facto reparations.'"
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., participates in a news conference.

The 'ISIS crossing the border' claims look a little worse

10/13/14 05:03PM

It's been about a week since Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) told a national television audience that Islamic State militants entered the United States through the Southern border. Literally every shred of publicly available evidence points in the exact opposite direction, but the far-right congressman claims to have secret evidence that Hunter -- and Hunter alone -- is solely aware of.
Pressed further, the congressman's office clarified that all 10 ISIS fighters didn't come at the same time, and one of Hunter's aides said 4 of the 10 were identified by to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). But Chaffetz apparently isn't backing Hunter up -- consider this exchange between the Utah Republican and Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: So I want you to react because you've been briefed on what's going on. First of all, do you believe his initial statement [from Duncan Hunter] that there have been 10 ISIS terrorists who actually crossed the border into the United States?
CHAFFETZ: I'm not personally and directly aware of that. What I am personally and directly aware of is that there were four terrorists, people tied to the PKK, came out of Turkey, flew to Mexico City, came north with coyotes.
The details matter, so let's clarify matters. As DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has explained, four members of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) were apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. They were arrested, detained, and in the process of being deported.
But (a) these guys didn't have ties to terrorism; (b) the Kurdish Workers' Party is actually a fierce enemy of ISIS. I don't mean to sound picky, but when Duncan Hunter says 10 members of ISIS terrorists entered the country, and he points to four guys who aren't terrorists and hate ISIS, the argument seems to fall apart.
For that matter, when Hunter's ally is asked about the Republican congressman's claim, and the a ally chooses not to endorse the assertions, it's safe to say Hunter has been hung out to dry.
Leon Panetta listens to a question during at a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.

Panetta looks for the 'heart of a warrior'

10/13/14 04:17PM

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta continues to aggressively hawk his book, which generally means running to every news outlet he can find in order to criticize President Obama on the eve of the 2014 midterm elections. If the former Pentagon chief's goal was to get people talking, it worked -- just about every Republican candidate in the nation has suddenly discovered just how much they love Leon Panetta.
Though I haven't read his book, I have seen a wide variety of interviews in which Panetta has made his pitch, and on a purely substantive level, his arguments seem deeply flawed. As we discussed the other day, Panetta has blamed Obama's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq for the chaos gripping much of the country, even after he strongly defended Obama's withdrawal policy, repeatedly, characterizing a residual force as an impossibility.
The former Defense Secretary has complained about U.S. policy in Syria, conveniently overlooking Obama's successes in ridding Syria of its chemical-weapons stockpiles -- weapons that now can't fall into the hands of Islamic State militants. Making matters slightly worse, Panetta has also complained about Obama going to Congress last year before intervention in Syria, even while complaining about Obama not going to Congress this year before intervention in Syria.
Panetta has even whined about sequestration budget cuts, blaming the ridiculous policy on the president for reasons that seem entirely at odds with reality.
Yesterday, Panetta's complaints devolved just a little further on CBS's "Face the Nation."
President Barack Obama and everyone in Washington must "get into the ring" to stop gridlock in the nation's capital, Leon Panetta says. [...]
In his book, Panetta makes comments about how Obama "approaches things like a law professor in presenting a logic of his position." While he agrees that it's good to have "a president who thinks through the issues," Panetta said it's not enough to make a great and effective commander in chief. "Presidents need to also have a heart of a warrior," Panetta said.
Which was right around the time I found it necessary to stop watching.
A woman casts her ballot during early voting, Oct., 26, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga.

Civil rights groups sue over Ga. voter backlog

10/13/14 12:53PM

Georgia may be considered a reliably "red" state in the Deep South, but this year, it's home to two closely watched, highly competitive statewide races. In fact, recent polling suggests Georgia' U.S. Senate race and gubernatorial race may even go to a runoff.
It makes lawsuits like these all the more important. Sarah Wheaton reported late Friday:
A coalition of civil rights organizations on Friday sued the Georgia secretary of state's office and five counties over an alleged backlog of 40,000 voter registration forms. [...]
Filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the suit asks a judge to order the counties and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to immediately process the remaining forms.
If you saw Rachel's segment on this on Thursday, you probably have a sense of why this is such a big deal, but let's recap for those just joining us.
Voter-suppression efforts have been a scourge in recent years for much of the country, but it's proving to be especially problematic in Georgia. Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), Georgia's top elections official, was recorded over the summer expressing concern, for example, about Democrats "registering all these minority voters that are out there." Kemp also subpoenaed the New Georgia Project, which happens to be the driving force behind the state's largest voter-registration campaign, for reasons that appear quite dubious.
But it's the voter-registration materials that may ultimately matter most. According to the New Georgia Project, the group has submitted "more than 80,000 new voter applications to county election boards." But as Election Day nears, the New Georgia Project says roughly half of these new voters, some of whom registered months ago, are not yet on the voter rolls.
And if these Georgians aren't on the voter rolls, they may not be able to cast a ballot that counts. With early voting beginning statewide today, it's a problem in need of an immediate resolution.

Monday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.13.14

10/13/14 12:02PM

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 Iowa's U.S. Senate race, the new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll shows Joni Ernst (R) leading Bruce Braley (D) by just one point, 47% to 46%. The same poll, generally considered the most reliable in the Hawkeye State, showed Ernst with a six-point lead a couple of weeks ago.
* As if South Dakota's U.S. Senate race wasn't quite odd enough, oppo is starting to drop against Larry Pressler, though we don't know which side is dropping it. We learned over the last few days, for example, that the former senator's principal residence is in Washington, D.C., not South Dakota. Also, Pressler "sat on the board of a brokerage firm, Sky Capital, that defrauded investors of $140 million over an eight-year period."
* In Georgia, the latest Landmark Communications poll shows a Senate race that's all tied up, with David Perdue (R) and Michelle Nunn (D) each getting 46% support. The same poll also shows a gubernatorial race that's tied, with incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Jason Carter (D) getting 45% each.
* In Michigan, the latest Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell Poll shows Gov. Rick Snyder (R) with a one-point lead over Rep. Mark Schauer (D), 47% to 46%. Though it seems hard to believe, the same poll shows Gary Peters (D) leading Terri Lynn Land (R) in their Senate race by just five points, 48% to 43%.
* In San Diego, home to one of the nation's most competitive U.S. House races, Republican Carl DeMaio has been accused of sexual harassment by one of his former staffers. DeMaio denies the allegations.
* Speaking of high-profile House races, the DCCC is dropping its ad buys in support of Andrew Romanoff in Colorado's 6th district. It suggests Democrats are either very optimistic about Romanoff's chances against Rep. Mike Coffman (R) or very pessimistic. (I'm guessing the latter.)
President Barack Obama speaks at the White House in Washington,D.C. on Sept. 26, 2014.

Krugman: Obama among the most 'successful presidents in American history'

10/13/14 11:44AM

Paul Krugman would never be mistaken for an Obama cheerleader. When President Obama was riding high, enjoying broad support and high poll numbers, it was Krugman who was discouraged, offering substantive criticism and words of caution. In late 2007, the then-senator's campaign team was so irritated with Krugman that Obama's aides dropped an oppo document on him.
Six years later, it's interesting to see how much the roles have reversed. The president's support has clearly faltered. Much of the country either blames him for tumultuous events, refuses to credit him for national progress, or both. But it's Krugman who's come around -- much of the American mainstream has turned on Obama, for reasons that may not be entirely rational, but it's the Nobel laureate offering a spirited defense of the president in a Rolling Stone cover story.
... Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. [...]
This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to. FDR left behind a reformed nation, but one in which the wealthy retained a lot of power and privilege. On the other side, for all his anti-government rhetoric, Reagan left the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society in place. I don't care about the fact that Obama hasn't lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn't quite say, a big deal.
Krugman's piece goes into considerable detail -- on the economy, on health care, on Wall Street reform, on climate -- but the broader takeaway is that the New York Times columnist is saying what much of the country is not: that Obama's presidency has been a great success. The praise is qualified at times, but it's nevertheless enthusiastic.
Indeed, Krugman sat down yesterday with ABC's Jonathan Karl, arguing that in his "ranking of consequential presidents, at least in modern history," he would put FDR on top, followed by LBJ, then Obama, then Reagan.
"Bill Clinton is an incredibly gifted politician," Krugman added. "Bill Clinton, in a room, and it doesn't matter how many people are in the room, you think he's talking to you. But in fact Bill Clinton was not a consequential president. And Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, he is a consequential president."
Joni Ernst

Ernst: there's 'no sense' in a congressional vote on ISIS

10/13/14 11:06AM

It's been over two months since the United States started launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets, and the preliminary results aren't encouraging. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the military offensive "has gotten off to a rocky start, with even the Syrian rebel groups closest to the United States turning against it, U.S. ally Turkey refusing to contribute and the plight of a beleaguered Kurdish town exposing the limitations of the strategy."
These might ordinarily be the sort of developments that would warrant scrutiny from Congress. Is the U.S. policy effective? Is there a smarter approach? What can the public expect in the way of results in the short- and long-term future?
But that scrutiny, at least for now, is nonexistent. Congress gave itself another 54-day vacation, and members have never authorized the military campaign that's currently underway -- a detail that most lawmakers seem to find irrelevant. Maybe Congress will have a debate during the lame-duck session in November, but as far as the House GOP leadership is concerned, it can wait.
To their credit, a small group of lawmakers has said Congress should promptly return to session in order to meet its constitutional obligations. Indeed, at a Senate debate in Iowa over the weekend, Rep. Bruce Braley (D) argued, "I think Congress should go back into session and have a broader and longer conversation about the nature of our involvement" in the Middle East.
Joni Ernst's (R) response was amazing, even by Joni Ernst standards:
"Yes, we knew this threat was there months and months and months ago and this decision could have been made earlier this year so there's no sense in calling Congress back now when this decision could have been made several months ago."
The quote comes by way of a Democratic group that recorded the debate.
It's the sort of comment that raises serious questions about Ernst's basic competence as someone seeking an important federal office. If the right-wing state lawmaker had said she's confident President Obama already has the legal authority he needs, so Congress does not need to hold a debate or a vote, there would at least be a degree of substantive consistency to the position.
But Ernst is making a very different argument. The far-right Iowan believes "there's no sense" in having lawmakers meet their obligations under the Constitution now, because they could have met their obligations months ago and didn't.
A view of Capitol Hill on Oct. 3, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

Republicans won't 'temper their policies' following success

10/13/14 10:20AM

In late 2010, after the midterm elections but before far-right Republicans took office, a variety of pundits made confident predictions about GOP modesty. Americans need not fear Republican extremism, many commentators said at the time, because GOP officials realized they would have no choice but to be constructive and open to compromise.
Shortly after the 2010 midterms, for example, David Brooks insisted that Republicans were feeling "cautious." They're "sober," the center-right columnist said, adding that the GOP wouldn't "overreach." The same week, Jacob Weisberg made a similar prediction, arguing that GOP leaders "will feint right while legislating closer to the center." These Republicans, he added, "don't think working with Democrats is evil. On the big picture tax and budget issues, they plan compromise with President Obama."
We now know, of course, that these predictions were painfully inaccurate, and the 2010 elections helped propel Republican politics to radicalism unseen in the United States since the 19th century. But some in media are reluctant to learn the appropriate lessons.
Take, for example, the Denver Post's endorsement of far-right Rep. Cory Gardner (R) in Colorado's U.S. Senate race.
If Gardner wins, of course, it could mean the Senate has flipped to Republicans. However, that doesn't mean it will simply butt heads with President Obama as the Republican House has done. As The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib recently pointed out, "A look back shows that eras of evenly divided power -- Congress fully controlled by one party, the presidency by the other -- have turned out to be among the most productive" because both sides temper their policies.
The Denver Post's editorial is among the strangest pieces of political analysis published in 2014. The paper's editorial board included sloppy factual errors; it glossed over the issues on which the editors are convinced the congressman is wrong; it lamented Washington gridlock while choosing to ignore Gardner's role in making matters worse; and it complained about Sen. Mark Udall (D) pointing to aspects of Gardner's record that happen to be true.
But it's this notion that radicalized Republicans will become less extreme once voter reward them that stands out as genuinely bizarre.