When U.S. job creation fell short of expectations in August, many hoped it was a temporary setback. Today, however, we learned that job totals came up short in September, too.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 142,000 jobs in September, well below the 200,000 expected by economists. The overall unemployment rate remained 5.1%, which is still the lowest point since April 2008, more than seven years ago.
Making matters slightly worse, though summer revisions often paint a more encouraging picture, today's data points in the opposite direction. July's job totals were revised down, from 245,000 to 223,000, while August's totals were also revised down, from 173,000 to 136,000. That's a combined 59,000 jobs we thought we'd created, but didn't.
For those rooting for the U.S. economy, this isn't the report we were hoping for.
That said, overall, the U.S. has added 2.75 million jobs over the last 12 months, which is actually pretty good. September was the 60th consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 67th consecutive month in which we’ve seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
On Tuesday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) acknowledged a fact that everyone knows, but which Republicans aren't supposed to admit out loud: the GOP's taxpayer-financed Benghazi committee is all about the Republicans' “strategy to fight and win” against Hillary Clinton. It’s not, in other words, about investigating an attack that left four Americans dead.
As the uproar continued yesterday, McCarthy and GOP leaders spent the day "scrambling to undo the damage." That included the California Republican sitting down with Fox News' Bret Baier in the hopes of putting out the fire. McCarthy, the likely next Speaker of the House, stuck to an awkwardly worded script.
"I did not intend to imply in any way that [the committee's] work was political. Of course it is not; look at the way they have carried themselves out. [...]
"I do not want to make that harm Benghazi committee in any way because it’s not political.”
On a substantive level, McCarthy's explanation was a mess. Just two days after acknowledging reality, the GOP leader now wants to pretend the obvious partisan exercise isn't "political" at all. As proof, he urges us to "look at the way they have carried themselves out." That's clumsy phrasing, but if we do examine how the committee has conducted itself, a picture of a brazenly political tool emerges.
On a rhetorical level, McCarthy didn't exactly inspire confidence. At one point in the interview, he said, "It wasn't what I, in my mind, was saying out there." Good to know.
Behind the scenes, some Republican insiders are quietly starting to refer to McCarthy as "the new Dan Quayle." I don't think they mean it as a compliment.
Rachel Maddow reports on the development of Hurricane Joaquin, now a category 4 storm sitting over the Bahamas and expected to cause flooding up the East Coast even if it doesn't make direct landfall. watch
Lori Haas, whose daughter was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting, talks with Rachel Maddow about the vast network of gun violence survivors and smart gun policy advocates who are working toward better gun policy at the local level because Congress and Washington, D.C. is too broken to address the problem. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on details of a still-developing story of a C-130 plane that crashed near an airport in Afghanistan, killing 13 people including six U.S. service members on the plane and two Afghan civilians on the ground. watch
Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse, whose district includes Roseburg, talks with Rachel Maddow about the measured pace of the release of details about the gun massacre at Umpqua Community College, and how the local community is responding to the tragedy. watch
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, whose district include Newtown, Connecticut, talks with Rachel Maddow about the struggle to get Congress to pass meaningful legislation and enact any helpful policy at all to address the problem of regular mass shootings in the United States. watch
Rachel Maddow shares video of a visibly upset President Obama addressing the latest mass gun killing, and talks with Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent, about what few concrete facts are known about today's deadly shooting incident at Umpqua Community College. watch
President Obama has made clear, more than once, that one of his greatest frustrations has been Congress' refusal to consider legislation to reduce gun violence. Indeed, the image of a disappointed leader, addressing the nation in the wake of yet another deadly mass shooting, has become all too familiar.
As the accompanying video makes clear, this doesn't just bother the president; it angers him. Watching him deliver remarks this afternoon, in the wake of the deadly shooting in Oregon, Obama seemed disgusted -- not just with the tragedy and heartbreak, but also with the political circumstances that allows these deadly events to keep happening, over and over again.
The transcript of the president's remarks follows. We will have much more on this story on tonight's show.
* The latest from Oregon: "State police said they believed there was only one shooter, who they said 'is no longer a threat.'"
* Syria: "The United States and Russia will begin talks Thursday morning aimed at calming tensions between their opposing military operations in Syria, two senior defense officials told NBC News. The 'very high-level' discussions will begin at 11 a.m. ET, one official said."
* Related news: "In a second day of raids in Syria, Russian warplanes carried out a new round of airstrikes on Thursday that once again -- contrary to Moscow’s assertions -- appeared for the most part to be targeting not the Islamic State but a rival insurgent coalition."
* Afghanistan: "Afghan government forces rallied on Thursday for the first time in four days against Taliban fighters who had taken the city of Kunduz, engaging in heavy fighting near the city center, residents and government officials said. By nightfall, however, witnesses said the battle for the city was still undecided."
* Rough crowd: "People booed and hissed at House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) on Thursday as she defended her party's ongoing Benghazi probe and its connection to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton."
* A dramatic mistake: "The Secret Service apologized Wednesday to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a prominent critic of the agency, for violating federal privacy law by improperly accessing sensitive personal information about him dozens of times in little more than a single week."
* The Atlantic Coast is on alert: "East Coast states are alerting residents to prepare as potentially historic rainfall and flooding is set to wreak havoc into the weekend -- whether or not Hurricane Joaquin, which was upgraded to an 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm on Thursday afternoon, makes U.S. landfall."
It was early last year when Republicans decided Russian President Vladimir Putin was an autocrat worthy of their gushing affections. In March 2014, Rudy Giuliani (R) said of Putin, “That’s what you call a leader.” The same month, Mike Rogers, at the time the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed his own admiration: “Putin is playing chess and I think we are playing marbles, and I don’t think it’s even close. They’ve been running circles around us.”
At one point last summer, a Fox News personality went so far as to say she wanted to see Putin serve as “head of the United States,” at least for a little while.
By late last year, however, Republicans were no longer drawing hearts on their pictures of Putin. Russia's economy was deteriorating quickly; Putin was isolated on the international stage; Russia's standing and credibility around the world was in tatters; and the sanctions President Obama helped impose on Russia were making a real difference.
Suddenly, the U.S. conservatives who'd enrolled in the Putin fan-club fell quiet, realizing that their contempt for the American president led them to praise the wrong foreign leader.
One day after President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin made little headway in their standoff over Syria at their first formal meeting in more than two years, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is agreeing with Putin on his backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad. [...]
"I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, [Putin's] getting an 'A' and our president is not doing so well," he said.
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative voice at the Washington Post, added this morning, "In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle."
Yes, we've apparently reached the point again at which Republicans once more see Putin as some kind of strategic mastermind.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* All of the details on third-quarter fundraising aren't yet available, but initial accounts tell us Hillary Clinton raised $28 million, just above Bernie Sanders' $26 million. These totals, which do not include super PAC fundraising, should cause some trepidation with Vice President Biden and his team.
* On a related note, we don't yet know how the 15 Republican candidates fared, but Ben Carson's campaign was quick to note last night that he raised "at least $20.2 million" in the third quarter, which is a strong showing.
* The Clinton campaign wasted no time in creating an online video yesterday, highlighting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) comments admitting the Benghazi committee is a partisan election exercise.
* Jeb Bush announced yesterday that he's comfortable with the name of Washington's NFL team. "I don’t find it offensive," he said. "Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.” Team owner Dan Snyder has contributed $100,000 to Jeb's super PAC.
* In Kentucky's gubernatorial race, now just a month away, the new Bluegrass Poll shows Jack Conway (D) with a five-point lead over Matt Bevin (R), 42% to 37%. Independent Drew Curtis is third with 7%.
* On a related note, Bevin appeared in a debate yesterday and expressed support for Ben Carson's presidential campaign. A few hours later, he switched gears and said he's backing Kentucky's Rand Paul.
* In Colorado, Republicans desperately wanted to recruit Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (R) to run against Sen. Michael Bennet (D) next year, but Brauchler officially withdrew from consideration yesterday.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, making his second White House bid, has noticed the polls showing amateurs leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination. And in a conversation yesterday with the Washington Examiner, Huckabee doesn't sound especially pleased with the response the inexperienced candidates are receiving.
"I mean, I can't imagine somebody would allow a doctor to do surgery on them who had zero experience and, in fact, had never been to medical school," Huckabee said. "I can't imagine that somebody would let them pilot the airplane they're in if they've never been in the cockpit, but have played some video games and that's their only experience."
"If you look at all the ways in which one qualifies for any job in this country, this would be the first time in history that people would say, 'Yeah, we're looking to hire you for a job, but the more capable, experienced and competent you are, the less we're likely to hire you. We want to hire someone who has never ever done this job, who has never done anything like this job, is completely unprepared for what they're about to take place. We want a true, honest to God amateur stepping into the Oval Office and being the leader of the free world,'" Huckabee continued. "Think about how irrational that is put in that context."
Well sure, when you put it that way, it doesn't sound good.
Republican voters will have the final say on the matter, but Huckabee's frustrations are rooted in reality. In fact, his complaints led me to make a chart.
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.