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'Farmer' insult could cost Democrats Senate

'Farmer' insult could cost Democrats Senate

10/01/14 10:53PM

Kasie Hunt, MSNBC political correspondent, talks with Steve Kornacki about apparent good news for Democrats in Kansas, while Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley struggles to overcome an image problem with rural voters. watch

Ahead on the 10/1/14 Maddow show

10/01/14 06:20PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Rep. Gerry Connolly, Democratic congressman from Virginia and member of the Oversight and Government Reform committee 
  • Kasie Hunt, MSNBC Political Correspondent
  • Dr. Seema Yasmin, public health professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and staff writer for the Dallas Morning News

Check out a previous of tonight's show after the jump read more

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.1.14

10/01/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Kobach loses again in Kansas: "A three-judge panel in Topeka ruled Wednesday that Kansas Democrats need not nominate a candidate for the 2014 Senate race. The ruling is expected to help independent Senate candidate Greg Orman's campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts."
* A hospital's misstep: "The man in Texas who tested positive for Ebola told hospital officials he had traveled from West Africa when he sought treatment on Friday, but that information was not relayed to everyone treating him at that time, authorities said Wednesday. As a result, the man was diagnosed with a 'low-grade, common viral disease' and sent home that day."
* More on the Ebola case: "A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s."
* Hong Kong: "As thousands of protesters continued Wednesday to paralyze large parts of Hong Kong, leaders on both sides of the conflict have begun strategizing with an eye toward the end game."
* I don't think Boehner agrees with this: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said lawmakers should be ready to debate and vote on a measure laying out the U.S. military's authority to wage war against Islamic State when they return to Washington after November's midterm elections."
* Florida: "Michael Dunn, the man who shot and killed African-American teen Jordan Davis, was found guilty of first-degree murder in a retrial on Wednesday. The Florida man made national headlines in November 2012 after he approached a vehicle outside a convenience store that was playing loud rap music."
* Latin America: "President Obama has approved a plan to allow several thousand young children from Central American countries to apply for refugee status in the United States, providing a legal path for some of them to join family members already living in America, White House officials said Tuesday."
* Israel: "President Obama met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Wednesday, against the backdrop of a radically altered landscape in the Middle East that Mr. Netanyahu said he believed could help revive the moribund peace process with the Palestinians."
* The search for Eric Frein: "State police searching for a man accused of killing a trooper said Tuesday they found two pipe bombs in the Pennsylvania woods during their manhunt that were capable of causing significant damage. The bombs were not deployed, but they were fully functional and had both trip wires and fuses, Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference."
Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province

Intel agencies aren't being thrown 'under the bus'

10/01/14 04:46PM

On "60 Minutes" the other day, Steve Kroft asked President Obama whether it was "a complete surprise" that Islamic State militants were able to take control of "so much territory" in Iraq and Syria. The president replied, "[O]ur head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."
What Obama said was, of course, true -- Clapper really did recently acknowledge that intelligence agencies underestimated what had been taking place in Syria, as well as Iraqi security forces' capacity to engage ISIS fighters. But Republicans and much of the media was nevertheless annoyed with the president's response.
Intelligence officials weren't exactly thrilled, either.
[B]y pointing to the agencies without mentioning any misjudgments of his own, Mr. Obama left intelligence officials bristling about being made into scapegoats and critics complaining that he was trying to avoid responsibility.
The New York Times quoted one unnamed intelligence official who said, "Some of us were pushing the reporting [on ISIS], but the White House just didn't pay attention to it. They were preoccupied with other crises."
Naturally, White House officials deny this, but the broader significance is that the intelligence community is trying to avoid responsibility, while pushing back against the president's suggestion that agencies underestimated ISIS.
Soon after the NYT piece ran, Foreign Policy published a related item, noting U.S. spies were complaining Monday that the president had "thrown us under the bus," as one former official put it.
Given the context, I don't think that's what Obama did, exactly, but it raises the larger question of what U.S. intelligence agencies missed when it comes to Islamic State militants.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson (C) arrives to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the White House perimeter breach at the Rayburn House Office Building on Sept. 30, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Pierson resigns as Secret Service director

10/01/14 03:53PM

The writing was on the wall. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, suggested this morning that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson may need to resign to help restore confidence in the agency. Soon after, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Cummings' concerns.
The beginnings of a political avalanche took shape. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Fox this morning it was time for Pierson's ouster, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scheduled a press conference for this afternoon in which he would do the same.
Left with no options, and with the Secret Service burdened by a series of frightening missteps, Pierson had no choice but to step down.
Embattled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday following embarrassing missteps that placed the president and the first family at risk, the Department of Homeland Security announced.  [...]
Under Pierson's watch, an armed intruder managed to jump the White House fence and run deep into the building brandishing a knife as ran past a stairwell leading to the first family's private residence... Separately, the president was in an elevator in Atlanta two weeks with an armed security contractor with assault convictions.
According to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Joseph Clancy, a retired special agent and the former head of the Presidential Protective Division, will serve as an interim acting director until Pierson's successor is in place. [Disclosure: Clancy is currently serving as the director of Comcast Corporate Security, and Comcast owns NBC Universal.]
Pierson, who was not in charge for all of the recent controversies -- the 2011 shooting incident, for example, was before her tenure -- took over as director in March 2013.
People wait in line to vote in Wilson, North Carolina, October 18, 2012.

Appeals court blocks some N.C. voting restrictions

10/01/14 02:44PM

Of all the states that imposed new voting restrictions since 2010 -- and there have been so many -- no state was quite as ambitious as North Carolina. As we've discussed before, Republican policymakers in the state, led by Gov. Pat McCrory (R), slashed early voting, placed new limitations on voter-registration drives, made it harder for students to vote (and even register to vote), ended same-day registration during the early voting period, and made it easier for vigilante poll-watchers to challenge eligible voters.
All of these measures, according to the state's own numbers, disproportionately affect African-American voters.
When voting-rights advocates filed suit, trying to block implementation of the new measures, they came up short at the district court. As of this afternoon, however, proponents of voting rights had far more success at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Zach Roth reports this afternoon:
A federal appeals court put a hold Wednesday on two key provisions of North Carolina's sweeping and restrictive voting law, but left other parts in place. [...]
By a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel blocked the law's elimination of same-day voter registration, and its ban on counting out-of-precinct ballots. It green-lighted the law's elimination of a week of early voting, as well as several other provisions, including the elimination of a popular "pre-registration" program for high-school students. Barring a reversal, those planks will be in effect for the state's fall elections, which include a tight U.S. Senate race.
In this 2-1 ruling, the majority included two judges appointed by President Obama.
Ari Berman's report took a closer look at the restrictions that will remain in place, many of which were imposed on North Carolinians for no apparent reason.
So, what happens now?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses members of the media and volunteers with the state's Republican Party during a stop at the Madison GOP field office in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Scott Walker has a decision to make

10/01/14 12:32PM

In just about every midterm election cycle, candidates eyeing a presidential campaign down the road have a decision to make: do they commit to serving a full term or not? Candidates who do make that promise effectively remove themselves from national contention -- they're declaring their intentions for the next several years, which won't include a run for the White House.
But candidates who choose not to make that commitment -- tipping their hand about their presidential plans -- run the risk of annoying voters. They're left in a position in which they're essentially telling the public, "I want you to elect me to this office, though if I win, I might soon after run for some different office."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was pretty upfront about his intentions during his re-election bid last year, refusing to commit to a full, four-year term. Plenty of other likely GOP hopefuls -- Cruz, Paul, Jindal, Rubio, Santorum, Jeb Bush -- aren't running for anything this year, and don't have to worry about this at all.
But then there's Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who's made no secret of his national aspirations, even in the midst of a tough re-election fight. Will the Republican governor promise voters to serve all four years if he prevails in November? It's apparently more complicated than it should be. Here's what the Green Bay Press Gazette reported last week:
While Gov. Scott Walker lays out plans for a second term in Madison, he will not promise to serve the entire four years if the 2016 national elections beckon.... [A]mid widespread speculation that he could soon become a candidate for national office, the governor told reporters later he would not make any promises about completing a second term if re-elected.
"I've never made a time commitment anywhere I've been in office," he said. "I've always made promises about what I would do and how I would do it. I'm not going to change now."
That's a perfectly fair position, but it's not what he told msnbc's Kasie Hunt, who asked the governor, "Are you committed to serving a full second term?" Walker replied, "That's my plan."
It is?