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Friday's Mini-Report, 9.16.16

09/16/16 05:31PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* A major pipeline spill: "Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday."
* The ISIS leader "responsible for producing the militant group's often gruesome propaganda videos was killed in an airstrike earlier this month, the Pentagon announced Friday. Wa'il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, also known as 'Dr. Wa'il,' was targeted and killed by coalition forces near Raqqah, Syria, on Sept. 7, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement."
* Pakistan: "At least 23 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in north-western Pakistan, officials say. The attack targeted worshippers during Friday prayers in a remote village in the Mohmand Agency, north of Peshawar. More than 40 people were wounded, many of them children."
* Addiction crisis: "The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country."
* It's a do-nothing Congress: "In a huge disappointment to advocates, legislation to reform components of the criminal justice system will not come before the House adjourns this month as previously planned, according to two sources who have worked closely on the effort."
* On a related note, the common Democratic complaint happens to be true: "The U.S. Senate is on track to work the fewest number of days since 1956, a fact that Democrats seized on Wednesday to attack the chamber’s Republican leadership."
* Elizabeth Warren isn't holding back: "The controversy surrounding Wells Fargo gained new momentum on Friday as Democratic lawmakers took aim at the millions in bonuses senior executives earned while thousands of the bank's employees created up to 2 million sham accounts in order to meet sales goals."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waits to be introduced during a campaign event at the University of Iowa on Jan. 26, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump gets caught lying while walking back birther claims

09/16/16 12:55PM

If you weren't sure whether or not the presidential campaign exists in some far-fetched Lewis Carroll story, this morning's events should have removed all doubt.
Yesterday, Donald Trump once again refused to say whether or not he believes President Obama was born in the United States. Last night, Trump's campaign issued a bizarre statement claiming that the Republican candidate no longer believes the "birther" conspiracy theory that's come to define much of Trump's political persona. And this morning, well, something very odd happened.
Donald Trump on Friday finally conceded that President Barack Obama was born in the United States and falsely blamed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for starting rumors about the president's citizenship.
Thirty minutes into an event that was billed as a "major announcement" that was in reality just a free advertisement for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump espoused 46 words, addressing the birther issue. He then took no question from the press who stood up, even on chairs, and yelled questions over six rows of Trump-invited guests.
Remember in June, when Trump traveled to Scotland the day after the Brexit vote, and the only thing the GOP candidate wanted to talk about was his new golf resort -- as if it, and not the vote, was the real story? This morning was a bit like that, only slightly more baffling.
Trump called a press conference in D.C., where he spoke at some length about his hotel and how impressed he is with the venue's new ballroom. Eventually, the Republican briefly touched on the subject at hand: "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean."
Except no one has any idea what he means. The first two relevant sentences in Trump's remarks -- (1) Clinton started the birther controversy and (2) he "finished it" -- are both brazen lies. In reality, the Clinton campaign wasn't responsible for launching this garbage, and Trump wasn't responsible for resolving it.
After years of questioning the president's birthplace and the legitimacy of his birth certificate, Trump added, "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."
The Republican nominee then ran away, answering no questions.

Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 9.16.16

09/16/16 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* The latest national Fox News poll shows Hillary Clinton narrowly leading Donald Trump in a four-way contest, 41% to 40%, while Trump narrowly leads Clinton in a head-to-head match-up, 46% to 45%.
* On the heels of a CNN poll that showed Trump ahead in Ohio, the latest Suffolk poll also found the Republican ahead in the Buckeye State, 42% to 39%, over Clinton.
* Georgia continues to appear surprisingly competitive, with the latest Fox 5 Opinion Savvy poll showing Trump ahead by only four, 46% to 42%, in this Southern "red" state.
* Oddly enough, Clinton is arguably doing better in Georgia than Iowa: the latest Monmouth University poll shows Trump with a surprisingly comfortable lead in the Hawkeye State, 45% to 37%, over Clinton in a four-way contest.
* On a related note, the same poll has Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) cruising past former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) in Iowa's U.S. Senate race, 56% to 39%.
* Donald Trump Jr. initially defended his unfortunate Holocaust reference yesterday, but he said this morning it was "a poor choice of words, perhaps."
* Donald Trump Sr., meanwhile, complained yesterday that he disapproves of CNN's Anderson Cooper moderating one of the presidential debates. Cooper is scheduled to moderate the second presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 9.

Trump's FDA plan should raise concerns for Americans who eat food

09/16/16 11:00AM

It's long since faded from the public debate, but as the Bush/Cheney era neared its end, the American public was confronted with some major food-safety controversies. As regular readers may recall, after consumers purchased, among other things, tomatoes with salmonella and spinach with E. coli, Rick Perlstein coined the phrase "E. coli conservatism" in response to lax governmental regulations.
Those policies didn't last. In 2010, President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation's food-safety system, expanding the FDA's ability to recall tainted foods, increase inspections, demand accountability from food companies, and oversee farming. It was the biggest effort on food safety in more than 70 years, all in the hopes of preventing unsafe food from reaching consumers' tables.
Congressional Republicans have pushed for years to scale back those food safeguards, and as of yesterday, Donald Trump made clear he intends to do exactly that if elected.
In a fact sheet Thursday, the campaign highlighted a number of "specific regulations to be eliminated" under the GOP nominee's economic plan, including what they called the "FDA Food Police."
Of particular interest, the Trump campaign complained about FDA rules on issues such as inspections of food facilities, the temperatures at which food is stored safely, and "farm and food production hygiene."
In other words, under a Trump administration, federal officials would oversee food safety from the perspective that, when it comes to food production, there's too much focus right now on safety and hygiene.
The good news is, if you don't eat food, you have nothing to worry about. Everyone else, however, should probably take note.
A person man uses a laptop. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/AP)

Cruz, Beck accuse Obama of 'giving away the Internet'

09/16/16 10:00AM

Glenn Beck warned his audience yesterday that President Obama is "giving away the Internet," quite possibly as part of some kind of plot involving George Soros. (Don't ask me to explain; Beck's theories are generally incomprehensible to me.)
As it happens, Beck's concerns aren't just coming out of nowhere. As Bloomberg Politics reported this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a prominent Beck ally, is on a "crusade" over Internet governance and domain names.
The Texas Republican senator's latest crusade is to block an Obama administration plan to give up U.S. oversight of domain names to international supervision, warning in a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday that could be a threat to freedom. He warned against giving power to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN], a private non-profit group based in Los Angeles.
"Imagine an internet run like China or Russia, that punish and incarcerate those who engage in political dissent," Cruz said. Earlier on the Senate floor, Cruz said he didn't want "to tell our children and our children's children what it was once like when the internet wasn't censored, wasn't in the control of the foreign governments."
This isn't just some passing area of interest for the right-wing Texan: Congress has until the end of the month to pass a spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown, and Cruz is considering a plan to add a provision to the bill blocking the ICANN policy -- even if means making a shutdown more likely.
"Can Ted Cruz and Republicans dream up an any more obscure and irrelevant issue to stop the business of the American government?" Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked this week?
Even putting this aside for a moment, it's also worth pausing to appreciate the fact that the White House isn't putting the Internet "in the control of the foreign governments."
The crowd reacts as hecklers are escorted out during a speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally on Sept. 12, 2016 at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty)

The debate over 'deplorables' is going off the rails

09/16/16 09:20AM

It was a week ago tonight when Hillary Clinton appeared in New York and took aim at Donald Trump's radicalized base. To be "grossly generalistic," she said, "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables.'"
More specifically, Clinton lamented the fact that so much of Trump's core support is "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic" -- an assessment that's stood up pretty well to further scrutiny.
Nevertheless, the Republican has been a little obsessed with the line this week, even ignoring other potential issues that could help his campaign to focus on Clinton's criticism of Trump's most offensive backers. The GOP candidate complained about this again yesterday to the Washington Post, comparing it to Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" comments, despite the fact that the comparison doesn't really make any sense.
In a speech unveiling his latest economic plan in New York yesterday, Trump once again turned to the issue foremost on his mind.
"The hardworking people [Clinton] calls 'deplorable' are the most admirable people I know: they are cops and soldiers, teachers and firefighters, young and old, moms and dads, blacks, whites and Latinos -- but above everything else, they are all American. They love their families, they love their country, and they want a better future."
I wonder if Trump and the aides who write his remarks have really thought this through. The way the Republican nominee is framing this, Clinton has criticized racists, misogynists, and other bigots, while Trump describes these racists, misogynists, and bigots as "the most admirable people" he knows.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 16, 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)

Elizabeth Warren has an interesting question for the FBI

09/16/16 08:40AM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Boston Globe reported yesterday, is "turning the tables on the FBI." Her latest idea is actually quite clever and worth paying attention to.
The Massachusetts senator sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey Thursday demanding he release notes and other documents the bureau has on its investigations into individuals accused of contributing to the devastating 2008 financial crisis.
Her argument: The FBI broke its longstanding practice of keeping its investigation notes private when it released dozens of pages of documents related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state. The FBI did so, Warren notes, claiming it was in the "public interest" to be more transparent in that particular case.
In her letter, which is available online here (pdf), Warren makes the compelling case that if Secretary Clinton's email server "was of sufficient 'interest' to establish a new FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be subject to the same level of transparency."
The senator clearly has a point. Traditionally, once the bureau wraps up an inquiry, federal law enforcement officials don't share investigatory details about the case. In the matter of Clinton's emails, the FBI concluded that the former Secretary of State shouldn't face charges, but it also broke with traditional bureau practices and released internal materials related to its investigation.
For Warren, there's no reason to hold financial institutions accused of wrongdoing to an easier, more permissive standard than Hillary Clinton. If the Democratic presidential candidate's email server protocols were a matter of such pressing national significance that the FBI's investigatory details were released, isn't the 2008 crash of greater importance?
Of course, the Massachusetts Democrat's letter is based on the assumption that at least some people at Wall Street banks were accused of potentially criminal wrongdoing. Is that true? According to the Globe's report, "Warren's latest salvo in this battle was sparked by the release earlier this year of new documents from the federal panel convened to investigate the causes of the crisis. Warren said her staff found that nine individuals were referred to the Department of Justice because the panel found evidence of possible serious violation of federal laws."
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion with African American business and civic leaders, Sept. 2, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)

With bizarre statement, Trump's birther beliefs reclaim spotlight

09/16/16 08:00AM

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said this week that the Republican presidential hopeful now believes President Obama was born in the United States. That would obviously be a dramatic shift: the GOP candidate for years relished his role as one of the nation's leading "birthers," peddling the racist conspiracy theory throughout much of the president's first term.
Given a chance to confirm his campaign manager's assessment yesterday, however, Trump demurred. As Rachel noted on the show last night, the candidate spoke to the Washington Post's Robert Costa, and the Republican once again was unwilling to say the president is a native-born American. "I'll answer that question at the right time," Trump said. "I just don't want to answer it yet."
In a curious twist, Jason Miller, Trump's senior communications advisor, published an online statement late last night, saying in print what the candidate refused to say to the Washington Post hours earlier.
"Hillary Clinton's campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton's henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.
"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama's birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States."
The statement is plainly ridiculous, combining delusion and dishonesty in ways that should alarm fair-minded observers.
According to the Trump campaign, for example, the racist conspiracy theory was "first raised" by Hillary Clinton. That's a lie, which has been discredited many times.


About The Rachel Maddow Show

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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