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Tuesday's Mini-Report, 10.25.16

10/25/16 05:31PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Mosul: "As thousands of Iraqi troops slowly encircle the city of Mosul, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter met here Tuesday with key coalition members, suggesting that the battle for the Islamic State's de facto capital in northern Syria could soon begin."

* ISIS: "U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that the planned offensive against the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa, in Syria, would overlap with the ongoing assault in Mosul, while warning that the terrorist group would feel cornered and seek revenge against targets in Europe or America."

* Wisconsin: "A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW–Green Bay Because 'Students Lean More Toward the Democrats.'"

* North Dakota: "Former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday praised demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota, calling the project 'dangerous.' Gore said he is opposed to the $3.8 billion pipeline project and supports the fight to stop it in North Dakota, where the pipeline has become a rallying point for American Indian rights and anti-fossil fuel activists alike."

* Keep an eye on this one: "President Obama is cracking down on 'non-compete' and 'no-poaching' agreements that have become notorious in the Silicon Valley for depressing the wages for tens of thousands of technology workers."

* VW: "A federal judge on Tuesday approved one of the largest consumer settlements in U.S. history, a nearly $15 billion U.S. deal concerning Volkswagen Group's diesel car emissions scandal."
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A man holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare in Miami, Fla in 2015. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Donald Trump appears to have no idea what 'Obamacare' is

10/25/16 03:39PM

One of the day's big headlines is both true and good news for Republicans: premiums for some consumers covered through the Affordable Care Act are going up sharply. With this in mind, Donald Trump and his campaign team, desperate to go on the offensive and talk about something new, decided it'd be a good idea to have the candidate put "Obamacare" up front and center today.

What didn't occur to the Republican campaign, however, was something more basic: no one told Trump what the Affordable Care Act is, what it does, or how it works. So, more than six years after Obamacare was signed into law, Americans learned today that the GOP presidential nominee apparently has no idea what he's talking about when he condemns the health care reform measure.

Here's what Trump told Fox News this morning:
"Well, I don't use much Obamacare, I must be honest with you, because it is so bad for the people and they can't afford it. And like, for instance, I'm at Trump National Doral in Miami, and we don't even use Obamacare. We don't want it. The people don't want it and I spend more money on health coverage, but we don't use it."
Trump went on to say that the Affordable Care is "gonna destroy the country."

He seems to be under the impression that the entirety of the law is the availability of coverage through exchanges. That's wrong. When he said, for example, that he his employees "don't even use Obamacare" -- an apparent reference to the subsidized marketplaces -- what Trump may not realize is that consumer protections built into the ACA benefit everyone with private coverage, whether they realize it or not.

The Republican nominee, appearing with employees at the Trump National Doral Club near Miami, added today, "All my employees are having tremendous problems with Obamacare."

Of course, if "all" of his employees are having "tremendous problems with Obamacare," it suggests Trump's workers don't receive health coverage through their employer (namely, him). The club's manager soon after clarified that the venue already provides insurance for nearly all of the facility's employees, which means the premium increases won't affect them.

Trump himself acknowledged soon after that almost none of his employees are "on Obamacare," which is pretty much the opposite of what he'd said this morning. What explains the contradiction? By all appearances, the GOP candidate just doesn't know enough about the Affordable Care Act to criticize it properly, so he made something up, not knowing how little sense it made.
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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivers his State of the State speech to an annual joint session of the House and Senate at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 15, 2014. (Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP)

What Kansans don't know might hurt them

10/25/16 12:41PM

The Bush/Cheney administration had an amazing gimmick it relied on several times: when reports suggested there was a problem with the White House's agenda, Bush's aides decided it was time to get rid of the reports.

In 2005, for example, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. When the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings, the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings. When Bush's Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) was a member of Congress during all of this, and it appears he learned a few things from the Republican White House. Bloomberg View published an interesting piece this morning on the Kansas governor's latest move.
Brownback, despite promising to measure the results of a "real life experiment" in cutting taxes, has decided to cancel a quarterly report on the status of the state's economy.

Although Brownback's spokeswoman said "a lot of people were confused by the report," no one has been fooled. The problem was that the reports didn't match the governor's predictions for the state's soon-to-be-booming economy.
As the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, the original idea was to publish a quarterly report to "assure timely analysis of the administration's economic policies." Brownback's Council of Economic Advisors chose specific metrics in advance, which were "championed as an accountability test" of the his economic vision.

And while that may seem like a good idea for a governor who's certain his agenda will work wonders, reality got in the way: timely analysis of Brownback's economic policies became far less appealing when Brownback's economic policies didn't work -- at all.

This left the governor and his team with a choice: adopt more effective economic policies or make it harder to see the evidence of their failures. The GOP Kansan chose the latter -- because as the Bush/Cheney team believed, if a report tells you something you don't want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report.
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Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.25.16

10/25/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* In national polling, the new NBC News/Survey Monkey tracking poll and the latest CNN poll both show Hillary Clinton with five-point leads over Donald Trump.

* As a result of Utah's newfound status as a competitive state, Tim Kaine has a new op-ed in the Deseret News today, and his Republican counterpart, Mike Pence, is headed to Utah today for a campaign event.

* With increasing frequency, what voters hear from Trump is quite different from what they hear from Trump's campaign manager. On a related note, Kellyanne Conway would also like voters to pay less attention to what her boss says on Twitter.

* Trump believes he's been "conceptually" endorsed by the United States military, which doesn't make any sense.

* The American Bar Association has reportedly finished a report on Trump using litigation to silence his critics, but the ABA doesn't want to publish it -- because, ironically, it's afraid Trump might file a lawsuit.

* In Nevada, a poll from the Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal shows Clinton leading Trump in the state, 48% to 41%.

* In North Carolina, new polls put Clinton's lead in the state at one point, three points, and seven points, respectively.

* As for the U.S. Senate race in the Tar Heel State, the Monmouth poll shows incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) ahead by six points, while the New York Times/Siena poll shows him trailing Deborah Ross (D) by one point.
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Voting booths await voters in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, ahead of the Iowa primary elections.

Republican fears of 'skewed' polls come roaring back

10/25/16 11:20AM

Four years ago, many Republicans were caught off-guard by Mitt Romney's loss, despite ample polling data showing President Obama on track to win. The problem for much of the right is that conservatives saw the survey results, but were convinced the data had been "skewed" in Democrats' favor.

And now, it's happening again.

To be sure, some Republicans remember their 2012 mistakes. Rush Limbaugh, for example, told his audience yesterday, "I wish that I could sit here and tell you that I, without question, think the polls are rigged. I have thought so in previous elections.... In 2012, honest to God, folks, I thought Romney was gonna win by five or six."

But Limbaugh's warnings aren't resonating broadly on the right. In fact, Donald Trump in particular is going out of his way to tell conservative voters that they shouldn't believe public-opinion data at all. Yesterday, the GOP nominee insisted Democrats "are making up phony polls in order to suppress the the [sic] Trump." What in the world does that mean? Trump is apparently just now hearing about oversampling -- which he clearly does not understand.
In fact, the GOP nominee has spent much of his dwindling time on the trail disparaging polls that show him down. Of late, Trump has begun decrying the polling practice of "oversampling" calling it a tactic of voter suppression. "It's called voter suppression," Trump extrapolated of the goals of oversampling. "Because people will say 'oh gee, Trump's out.' We're winning, we're winning."

In actuality, oversampling is standard practice for pollsters and can give a deeper look into larger groups of voters.
Even Trump voters must be confused by now as to what they're supposed to believe. Trump is explicitly telling them he's both winning and losing, and at the same time, he's pointing to a standard element of many modern polls as evidence of "voter suppression," all while pointing to a stolen John Podesta email from eight years ago that Trump doesn't understand.
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The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington, Feb. 17, 2012.

GOP senator flip-flop-flips on supporting Donald Trump

10/25/16 10:40AM

Of all the congressional Republicans who've struggled with Donald Trump's candidacy, arguably no one's story is funnier than Sen. Mark Kirk's (R-Ill.). The Illinois Republican endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed Trump, then endorsed David Petraeus, then endorsed Colin Powell, then un-endorsed Powell, then said he no longer wanted to talk about it.

But if Kirk's story is the most amazing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho is a competitive second. Slate reported yesterday:
In the hours after Donald Trump was revealed to have boasted that he would kiss women and "grab them by the p---y" without their consent, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was one of the earliest of a number of Republican political leaders to revoke their support for the GOP presidential nominee.

"This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but his pattern of behavior has left me no choice," read a statement announcing Crapo's apparently principled stand. "His repeated actions and comments toward women have been disrespectful, profane and demeaning."

Crapo has now had another change of heart.
Yes, the Idaho Republican initially endorsed Trump. Then Crapo un-endorsed Trump. Soon after, the incumbent senator, up for re-election this year, said he's an undecided voter. Yesterday, Crapo came full circle, re-endorsing the presidential candidate he un-endorsed two weeks ago.

The senator did not clarify yesterday whether or not it's a decision he "reached lightly."
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Iraqi forces deploy on Oct. 17, 2016 in the area of al-Shurah, some 45 kms south of Mosul, as they advance towards the city to retake it from the Islamic State group. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty)

In Iraq, Trump doesn't understand what he doesn't understand

10/25/16 10:00AM

If Donald Trump wants voters to see him as a competent and capable leader on matters of national security, he's going to have to start saying a lot less.

Last week, for example, the Republican presidential hopeful, who's said he's more knowledgeable than U.S. generals and has claimed to have a secret plan to combat ISIS, told a national audience that the military offensive in Mosul is part of an elaborate, international conspiracy to help Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Over the weekend, Trump went further, condemning the U.S.-backed offensive in Mosul as "a total disaster" that's leaving the United States looking "dumb." Yesterday, the Republican kept complaining, insisting the campaign in Mosul should've been kept secret. "I'm telling you, folks, our leadership -- I went to an Ivy League school, but there's some words that you can't describe any better: Our leadership is stupid," Trump told a Florida audience. "These are stupid people."

Some of this is just bizarre, with the Washington Post running a piece asking why the GOP nominee seems to be rooting for failure. But as Politico noted, some of this is also rooted in alarming ignorance -- because Donald Trump doesn't seem to understand what he doesn't understand.
Perhaps most grating for national security figures -- including scores on the right who have, to their astonishment, sought refuge with Clinton -- is that Trump doesn't seem to understand the basic facts of the situations he is describing. That's especially true when it comes to the Islamic State.

For instance, Trump's claim that the Mosul offensive should not have been announced in advance contradict standard procedure. Militaries often announce an offensive ahead of time so that civilians can try to flee and because it's impossible to keep such a large operation a secret. (The Iraqi city still has some 1.5 million inhabitants.) The Republican also has suggested that the Obama administration, which is backing Iraqi forces with airstrikes and advice, timed the offensive to boost Clinton.

"The Mosul operation is an Iraqi operation, not a U.S.-led one," rebutted Michael Singh, a former Bush administration official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "And it appears quite likely to succeed in wresting the city from ISIS' control. The notion of a 'sneak attack' makes no sense here -- this is a massive operation, and Iraqi and other coalition forces have spent months 'shaping the battlefield' in preparation for it."
During the second presidential debate, after Trump said the United States is "stupid" for participating in a major military offensive the enemy knows is coming, ABC News' Martha Raddatz tried to explain, "There are sometimes reasons the military does that."

Trump immediately shot back, "I can't think of any. I can't think of any. And I'm pretty good at it."

But that's the point: he's not "pretty good" at it. The Republican candidate simply doesn't know what he's talking about -- and Trump is so ignorant, he's not able to understand how foolish his rhetoric is.
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Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) speaks to reporters after a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill University March 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Obama slams Issa's tactics as 'shameless'

10/25/16 09:20AM

It's always good to see a political article with a strong lede, and I think Politico did a nice job with this one.
Note to Rep. Darrell Issa from President Barack Obama: If you want to call him one of the most corrupt presidents in history, say he should be impeached and question whether he was telling the truth about his birth certificate, maybe don't then brag about working with him in a campaign mailer as you try to hang onto your seat.
As we discussed last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has found himself in a bit of a predicament, struggling to hold onto a House seat he's represented for nearly two decades. The Republican incumbent is so worried about his future that his latest campaign mailers feature a picture of President Obama, seated at his desk in the Oval Office, and boast about the work Issa has done with the White House.

Evidently, the president heard about the congressman's direct mail, and in remarks Sunday in California, Obama couldn't let this go without a response.
"I'm not going to belabor this point, but let me just point out that as far as I can tell, [Issa's] primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollar on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere. And this is now a guy who, because poll numbers are bad, has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me.

"Now, that is the definition of chutzpah. Here's a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history -- despite the fact that actually we have not had a major scandal in my administration -- that, when Trump was suggesting that I wasn't even born here, said, 'Well, I don't know,' was not sure.... This guy has spent all his time simply trying to obstruct, to feed the same sentiments that resulted in Donald Trump becoming their nominee.... And now he's sending out brochures touting his cooperation with me. Now, that is shameless."
This should've ended the back and forth, but for some reason, Issa thought it'd be a good idea to send one more volley.
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Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined by attorneys Paul D. Clement, far left, and Rick Esenberg, second from left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and th

Even now, Ron Johnson sticks to his far-right vision

10/25/16 08:43AM

The game plan for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) should be relatively straightforward. The far-right senator is seeking re-election in a traditionally blue state, running against a respected and well-known former officeholder, in a year in which Donald Trump is likely to lose his home state of Wisconsin. Campaign Management 101 suggests Johnson, behind in the polls, should downplay his more extreme positions and present himself as a pragmatic centrist.

The Republican incumbent, however, is ignoring the conventional strategy and going with a riskier approach.

In June, for example, Johnson launched campaign ads that made it seem as if he weren't already in office. More recently, the GOP senator echoed Donald Trump's bizarre rhetoric questioning the integrity of the voting process: "How many times have we talked about fraudulent voter registration drives? There's been stories, there's been evidence accumulating for literally decades of this, and the Clinton emails prove that's exactly what they do. This is a concerted effort on their part. Whether it's ACORN or Organize for America, Democrats engage in a concerted effort to produce fraudulent votes."

First, none of this is true. Second, ACORN? Seriously?

Yesterday, as the Huffington Post noted, Johnson kept going, trying to make the case that the climate crisis, which he often pretends doesn't exist, isn't a big deal.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday said he doesn't think people should worry about finding solutions to climate change ― because historically, "civilization thrives" in warmer temperatures.

"Climate has already changed, always will. I'm just not an alarmist. We will adapt," Johnson told Wisconsin radio station WHBY. "How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it's a little bit warmer."
This is the same Wisconsin Republican who has argued that snow in Greenland is evidence of global cooling; "sunspot activity" is responsible for global warming; and those who want to address the crisis are similar to Joseph Stalin and Hugo Chavez.

So much for moving to the middle ahead of the election.
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A doorman stands as people walk past the Trump Tower in N.Y. on May 23, 2016. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

It's not just his campaign: Trump's 'brand' may never be the same

10/25/16 08:00AM

In late June, the day after the "Brexit" vote, Donald Trump hosted a press conference in Scotland, against the backdrop of one of the most important political moments in the modern history of the United Kingdom. As we discussed at the time, the Republican presidential candidate spoke at great length, and in great detail, about ... his new golf resort.

Tomorrow, the GOP nominee will do it again, leaving the campaign trail to promote the opening of his new hotel in Washington, D.C. -- a venue Trump has touted on multiple occasions from the campaign stump, blurring the lines between candidate and salesperson.

It's a reminder that while Trump almost certainly wants to be president, he also remains committed to his lucrative business enterprise. What he may not fully appreciate, however, is the degree to which one is affecting the other. The New York Times ran an interesting report overnight on some of the many people who suddenly want nothing to do with Trump's "brand."
At three large rental buildings emblazoned with gold letters spelling out T-R-U-M-P P-L-A-C-E on the Upper West Side, the lobby rain mats embossed with the same name are being replaced, tenants say. The new versions, they have been told, will proclaim the buildings' addresses, 140, 160 or 180 Riverside Boulevard.

At the same buildings, they say, the doormen and concierges have been measured for new uniforms that will no longer carry the Trump name. And 300 people, most of them tenants, have signed an online petition titled "Dump the TRUMP Name" in less than 10 days.
The article noted that Trump, throughout his career, has boasted that slapping his name on a building increases its value, apparently because consumers are supposed to associate "Trump" with luxury and high quality. But it's not exactly a secret that his presidential campaign has changed public perceptions about the New York Republican, and for many, his name is now more closely associated with misogyny and ethno-nationalism.

And as a consequence, the Trump "brand" is not only taking a severe hit; it may never be the same.
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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.



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