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E.g., 10/31/2014
E.g., 10/31/2014
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) takes questions from reporters after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 11, 2014.

'Mean McCain' never left

10/30/14 10:19AM

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), this week:
[McCain] blasted Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on the North Carolina campaign trail, saying she skipped meetings of the Senate Armed Services Committee while Islamic militants executed two U.S. citizens.
 
"Here we are with Americans being beheaded, and Sen. Hagan doesn't even show up for the briefing," McCain told reporters after a Tuesday stop for GOP Senate hopeful Thom Tillis, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), two years ago:
Senator John McCain is demanding answers on the Benghazi attack, but his office tells ABC News he missed a classified briefing on the subject because of a "scheduling error."
 
The classified briefing was held on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – of which Senator McCain is a member – and lasted three hours.... During part of the briefing, McCain was holding a press conference demanding answers about the administration's handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Maybe the Arizona Republican should have picked something else to complain about.
 
Of course, McCain isn't just complaining about Hagan. The Republican traveled to New Hampshire this week to complain about Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's (D-N.H.) work on the  Senate Armed Services Committee. "I don't see her at very many of the hearings," McCain said, citing his detail-free impressions. He added he doesn't consider Shaheen a "serious member" of the committee.
 
Because if there's one person who knows all about "seriousness," it's the notoriously wrong senior senator from Arizona.
 
Politico reported yesterday, "Mean John McCain is back on the campaign trail." I suppose that's true, though I'm wondering, when was the last time anyone saw Affable John McCain?
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference, March 26, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Lindsey Graham promises results for white men

10/30/14 09:31AM

Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) principal focus is probably on this year's re-election campaign, which he's expected to win easily, though the senator has also begun hinting about his national ambitions and plans for two years from now.
 
And if the South Carolinian does become a serious presidential candidate, it stands to reason quotes like these will be a problem.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is toying with the idea of a presidential bid, joked in a private gathering this month that "white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency," according to an audio recording of his comments provided to CNN. [...]
 
The audio snippets were provided to CNN on Wednesday by two separate South Carolina Democrats who received the recordings from a person using an anonymous Gmail address. Graham confirmed the recordings in an interview Wednesday with CNN.
The senator also joked about Baptists who drink alcohol but don't admit it, though it's likely the "white men" quote will have a greater impact.
 
Context, of course, is everything in a case like this, and according to CNN's report, Graham was speaking to an all-white audience earlier this month at an all-male club, which had invited the senator to deliver "irreverent" remarks.
 
"I'm trying to help you with your tax status," Graham says in the recording. "I'm sorry the government's so f***ed up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency."
 
He was apparently trying to be funny.

Economic growth exceeds expectations in 3rd quarter

10/30/14 08:52AM

Going into this morning, it was tough to know what to expect from the new report on U.S. economic growth. The economy was a bit of a mess in the first quarter (January through March), contracting sharply and unexpectedly, but growth looked impressive in the second quarter (April through June).
 
And what of the third quarter (July through September)? Most projections pointed to growth of about 3%. As it turns out, it looks like the economy was even stronger than that.
The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5% annual pace in the third quarter, aided by a surge in exports and a big jump in military spending, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted gross domestic product would expand by a seasonally adjusted 3%. The increase in consumer spending, the main source of U.S. economic activity, slowed to a 1.8% annual pace from 2.5% in the prior quarter. Business investment on equipment, while up 7.2%, also decelerated, as did outlays on housing construction. Yet exports surged 7.8% while imports dropped 1.7%, making trade the biggest contributor to economic growth in the third quarter.
 
A 10% jump in federal spending, mostly on Pentagon hardware, also bolstered growth. It was the biggest increase in federal spending since 2009, when the Obama administration put in place a huge economic stimulus package.
The overall GDP figure is encouraging, but that part about Pentagon spending points to a potential downside to the new data -- that jump in spending won't continue.
 
Still, the news looks pretty good overall, and the report reinforces the impression that the economy is growing steadily. Indeed, this is the first time since before the 2008 crash that we've seen growth above 3% in four of the last five quarters.

Jobless claims inch higher, but remain low overall

10/30/14 08:36AM

It's disappointing when initial unemployment claims climb two weeks in a row, but given the overall direction of late, it's hard to feel too discouraged by the new data.
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose slightly in late October, but the level of jobless claims continued to point to an improving labor market in which companies are holding onto the workers they already have while slowly beefing up their staffs. Initial jobless claims climbed by 3,000 to 287,000 in the week ended Oct. 25, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to fall to a seasonally adjusted 281,000.
 
Claims have been under the key 300,000 benchmark for seven straight weeks for the first time since the recession ended. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, dipped by 250 to 281,000. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly report and is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor-market trends.
To reiterate the point I make every Thursday morning, it’s worth remembering that week-to-week results can vary widely, and it’s best not to read too much significance into any one report.
 
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. At this point, we’ve been 300,000 in 11 of the last 21 weeks.
John Boehner rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise, Dec. 12, 2013.

House GOP's lawyers give up on anti-Obama lawsuit

10/30/14 08:00AM

More than four months after House Republicans announced their historic plan to sue President Obama, the litigation, like so many initiatives from GOP lawmakers, has become a fiasco. Josh Gerstein and Maggie Haberman reported overnight that the Republicans' lawyers have given up on the case -- again.
House Speaker John Boehner's still-unfiled lawsuit against President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional power is in more trouble.
 
For the second time in two months, a major law firm has backed out of an agreement to pursue the case, sources say.
Apparently, the attorneys responsible for the case decided to give up "in recent weeks," but we're just learning about their decision now. Boehner's office wouldn't comment on why they quit the case, though a spokesperson for the Speaker told Politico, "The litigation remains on track, but we are examining the possibility of forgoing outside counsel and handling the litigation directly through the House."
 
The piece added that some in the D.C. legal community "believe it's possible no suit will ever be filed."
 
To appreciate the severity of the fiasco, consider this timeline of events:

Quarantine battle and other headlines

10/30/14 07:57AM

Quarantined nurse emerges, plans legal fight. (Portland Press Herald)

IRS eases tax burden on Ebola donations. (Wall Street Journal)

How an ugly, intra-party state Senate race could save the Democrats a House seat. (National Journal)

More turmoil for House GOP lawsuit against Obama. (Politico)

Officials: Ferguson police chief to leave his post. (Washington Post)

Abortion foes working to shut down North Alabama's only clinic get their day in court. (AL.com)

Troops to be checked for chemical exposure in Iraq. (NY Times)

Peshmerga troops start entering Syrian town of Kobani to fight ISIS. (AP)

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IUD is not an ongoing abortion in your body

An IUD is not an ongoing abortion in your body

10/29/14 11:31PM

Dr. Stephanie Teal, of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, helps Rachel Maddow in the man cave explain to people, like Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, why an IUD is not an ongoing abortion in a woman's body. watch

Joni Ernst (Justin Hayworth/AP)

A few handy links for our friends at Fox News

10/29/14 10:39PM

Tonight on the show, we played tape of Sharron Angle, a Republican Senate candidate from Nevada in 2010, talking about "Second Amendment remedies" if conservatives didn't get the election results they wanted. We also played tape of Joni Ernst, a current Republican Senate candidate from Iowa, saying she is ready to turn to armed violence against the government.

We've since noticed our friends at Fox News saying that we got it wrong and that they intend to correct the record.

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Facing bad jobs numbers, Deal tries denial

Facing bad jobs numbers, candidate tries denial

10/29/14 09:50PM

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

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