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Ebola case exposes weakness in US...

Ebola case exposes weakness in US preparedness

10/03/14 11:02PM

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, talks with Rachel Maddow about how funding cuts and other systemic challenges have put the U.S. at a disadvantage in dealing with health emergencies. watch

Maddow to mom: Cover your ears!

Maddow to mom: Cover your ears!

10/03/14 11:02PM

Rachel Maddow alerts her mother (and viewers) of an upcoming interview with former ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who is perhaps better known to TRMS viewers by the slightly profane title "ambadassador." watch

Ahead on the 10/3/14 Maddow show

10/03/14 07:17PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University
  • Jim Schutze, political news commentator for the Dallas Observer
  • Ambassador Robert Ford, former Ambassador to Syria from 2010 to February 2014

Here's executive producer Cory Gnazzo with a preview of what we've got coming...

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Friday's Mini-Report, 10.3.14

10/03/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* ISIS "claims it has executed another one of its hostages, British taxi driver Alan Henning. On Friday afternoon, the terrorist group released a video allegedly showing Henning's death by beheading. The United States government has yet to authenticate the video."
* Corporal Jordan Spears: "A U.S. Marine who went into the sea from a V-22 Osprey during a flight mishap over the northern Gulf this week was the first American killed in U.S. military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria."
* Dallas: "Hazmat trucks pulled up outside the apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying in Dallas, five days after he was admitted to the hospital and days after relatives, including children, were confined there by state officials."
* From Texas health officials: "Public health officials say 'approximately 10 people' who had contact with the Ebola patient in Texas are considered at higher risk, though they emphasized Friday that none of these people had exhibited any Ebola symptoms."
* U.S. response: "The United States Army announced on Friday that it will more than double the number of soldiers it is sending to West Africa, to 3,200, to help contain the Ebola virus as White House officials prepared to confront concerns about the chaotic response to the disease's arrival in the United States."
* Hong Kong: "Pro-democracy demonstrations in two of Hong Kong's most crowded shopping districts came under attack on Friday from unidentified men who assaulted protesters and tore down their encampments, as the Beijing-backed government sent sharply conflicting messages about how to grapple with the unrest."
* Global partners: "Turkey appeared to take a big political step toward joining the American-led campaign against the militants of the Islamic State when its Parliament voted Thursday to authorize expanded military operations in Iraq and Syria and to allow foreign forces to launch operations from its territory."
* Australia: "Australian special forces troops will be deployed in Iraq to assist in the fight against ISIS militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday. Its aircraft will also join U.S.-led coalition strikes."
* U.S. economy: "The U.S. trade deficit shrank for the fourth straight month in August, falling to the lowest level since January as exports rose to an all-time high."
* Another Secret Service misstep? "An unidentified man posing as a member of Congress made it into a secure area backstage at President Barack Obama's appearance at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington Sept. 27, according to a White House official."
* Guidance from the guy who won't say whether he believes in evolution: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) urged the Obama administration on Friday to ban U.S.-bound flights arriving from nations where Ebola has been found."
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks at the VFW Post 1170 in Louisville, Kentucky, April 5, 2014.

McConnell climbs aboard the 'I'm not a scientist' train

10/03/14 04:38PM

This is quickly becoming a national embarrassment.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Cincinnati Enquirer's editorial board on Thursday that he doesn't know if climate change is a real problem because he's "not a scientist" and that he's more interested in producing cheap energy than worrying about it. [...]
When asked what it would take to convince him that climate change is a problem, he demurred and said, "I'm not a scientist, I am interested in protecting Kentucky's economy, I'm interested in having low cost electricity."
If this sounds familiar, there's a good reason for that. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for example, was recently asked how old he thinks the planet is. "I'm not a scientist, man," he replied. Gov. Rick Scott (R) was asked what he intended to do about the climate crisis threatening Florida. "I'm not a scientist," he responded.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked about the climate deniers in his conference. "I'm not qualified to debate the science," he replied. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) whether he accepts evolutionary biology, to which he responded, "The reality is I'm not an evolutionary biologist."
Let's go ahead and state the obvious: the repetition of the rhetoric is not an accident. Pollsters and consultants have no doubt told GOP officials that it doesn't sound good when Republicans express open contempt for science, so the way to get out of any question that involves science is to dodge through ignorance: "I'm not a scientist."
And if I'm looking at this in a half-glass-full sort of way, maybe McConnell's foolish answer is preferable to him saying, "Climate science is part of a communist conspiracy to destroy capitalism and James Inhofe is right about global cooling being the real problem."
But the fact remains that there's something alarming, and arguably even offensive, about the posture adopted by McConnell and his brethren.
David Perdue speaks during a forum in Atlanta, Jan. 27, 2014.

Perdue's concession: 'I spent most of my career' outsourcing

10/03/14 04:00PM

The nation's jobless rate keeps dropping, but on a state-by-state level, progress can vary quite a bit. Indeed, when it comes to unemployment at the state level, Georgia ranks 50th out of 50 states, which has created at least some appetite for political change in the Peachtree State.
But for Senate hopeful David Perdue (R), the challenge is taking advantage of this appetite given his professional background. We learned several months ago about Perdue's private-sector background, which includes significant job losses through outsourcing, on top of factory closings, consolidations, and reduced work hours at U.S. facilities.
The Republican candidate didn't exactly deny what his business practices had been, and was actually fairly candid about the American job losses he helped orchestrate. Perdue told msnbc's Benjy Sarlin, "To politicians who have never been in a free enterprise system this sounds really easy. It is anything but easy. It's very messy."
A new Politico report just made things even messier.
[D]uring a controversial chapter in his record — a nine-month stint in 2002-03 as CEO of failed North Carolina textile manufacturer Pillowtex Corp. — Perdue acknowledged that he was hired, at least in part, to outsource manufacturing jobs from the company. Perdue specialized throughout his career in finding low-cost manufacturing facilities and labor, usually in Asia.
During a July 2005 deposition, a transcript of which was provided to POLITICO, Perdue spoke at length about his role in Pillowtex's collapse, which led to the loss of more than 7,600 jobs. Perdue was asked about his "experience with outsourcing," and his response was blunt.
"Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that," Perdue said, according to the 186-page transcript of his sworn testimony. The Georgia Republican then listed his career experience, much of which involved outsourcing.
It's possible, if not likely, that Perdue can offer a defense for his outsourcing background from the perspective of a businessman. His decisions were very likely the result of making tough calls about profit margins and fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders.
But as Mitt Romney can probably attest, when Americans -- especially those in the state that ranks 50 out of 50 in unemployment -- are looking for an economic boost, they may well be reluctant to turn to a guy who "spent most of his career" outsourcing jobs.
State Sen. Joni Ernst waves to supporters at a primary election night rally, June 3, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Joni Ernst can't outrun her radicalism

10/03/14 03:15PM

By most fair measures, Iowa's Joni Ernst (R) is arguably the most right-wing U.S. Senate candidate in the nation, though she and her party have gone to considerable lengths to pretend otherwise. After the state senator won the Republican primary, George Will said she adopted a "less exotic persona," which has led some to suggest Ernst isn't quite as radical as she seems.
But sometimes, a candidate has trouble running from their extremism, no matter how hard they try. Daniel Strauss ran this stunning report today:
State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow "local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement" Obamacare.
Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would "nullify" Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul's libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012.
There's no credible way to spin a revelation like this. Ernst answered this questionnaire and chose to put herself on the farthest fringes of modern American thought.
Indeed, a few months ago, when evidence emerged that Ernst believes states could "nullify" federal laws they don't like -- a ridiculous argument resolved by the U.S. Civil War -- her aides and supporters dismissed the allegations as baseless. And yet, here we have additional proof: Ernst specifically endorsed "legislation to nullify Obamacare" and expressed support for a provision that said local law enforcement could arrest federal officials “attempting to implement” federal health care law in Iowa.
On any ideological spectrum, we can find policymakers that belong on the far left or far right, but Ernst has taken positions that put her squarely in the bonkers wing of the contemporary Republican Party.
Remember, it's not just this one questionnaire.