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Friday's Mini-Report, 10.7.16

10/07/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* A heartbreaking tragedy: "The darkness that shrouded Haiti while Hurricane Matthew hammered the island lifted Friday -- and the true extent of the damage was laid bare as the death toll reportedly soared past 800."

* Hurricane Matthew's eyewall "whipped parts of Florida's northeast coast Friday afternoon, marching up the southeastern United States after its deadly spree across the Caribbean."

* Today's Trump Crisis, Part I: "A decade before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, his candid views on women were caught on tape. 'I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women -- I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet,' Trump said in 2005 during a conversation with Billy Bush caught on audio during the taping of an interview for Access Hollywood. 'I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab 'em by the pussy.'"

* Today's Trump Crisis, Part II: "Wading into a racially-charged case from his past, Donald Trump indicated that the 'Central Park Five' were guilty, despite being officially exonerated by DNA evidence decades after a notorious 1989 rape case."

* More sanctions on the way? "The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and from a range of prominent individuals and institutions.... In a statement from the director of national intelligence, James Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security, the government said the leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites 'are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.'"

* A bitter-sweet honor given the recent referendum results: "Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday 'for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.'"

* President Obama has an interesting piece in The Economist, of all places, on "four crucial areas of unfinished business in economic policy that his successor will have to tackle."
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President Barack Obama laughs as the crowd sings "Happy Birthday" to him at the start of his remarks to the Young African Leaders Initiative event at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Aug. 3, 2016, in Washington. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Obama's popularity belies Trump/Pence rhetoric

10/07/16 12:40PM

If you watched either of the first two general-election debates, you saw a Republican ticket that's absolutely convinced that President Obama is a spectacular failure, creating an appetite for dramatic national change.

There's quite a bit of evidence, however, that the American mainstream doesn't see the Obama presidency the way Donald Trump and Mike Pence do. Politico noted this week:
President Barack Obama's job approval rating hit 55 percent in a new poll released Thursday, the highest that number has been at any point during his second term in office.

The CNN/ORC poll released Thursday marks the seventh consecutive month that Obama's job approval numbers have been above 50 percent. His job approval number is up 4 percentage points over the previous CNN/ORC poll and is up 11 points relative to a similar CNN/ORC poll conducted in mid-September, 2015.
This is obviously just one poll, but we can also look at recent averages, which point in the same direction. The Huffington Post's polling aggregator shows the president's job-approval numbers topping 50% and "above water" -- approval outpacing disapproval -- since early March.

This matches the support Obama enjoyed around his second inaugural, and it's the longest sustained levels of support since his first year in office. According to Gallup data, Obama is also slightly more popular now than Ronald Reagan was at this point in the Republican icon's second term.

As we've discussed before, the standard pushback to reports like these is that the president is prohibited from seeking re-election, so while his public backing may matter to his long-term legacy, its current salience is limited. I continue to think this understates matters.
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Friday's Campaign Round-Up, 10.7.16

10/07/16 12:11PM

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

* After complaining incessantly about his microphone for days after last week's debate, Donald Trump has changed his mind. The Republican candidate now believes the microphone worked fine, but people working the soundboard at the debate venue were "oscillating" the levels while he spoke.

* This, by the way, was part of a town-hall meeting Trump hosted in New Hampshire yesterday, which was a bit of a disaster.

* Interesting report from NBC News on the campaigns' ground games: "Democrats entered the fall campaign with an army of paid staffers close to five times the size of Republicans' according to an NBC News analysis of Federal Election Commission filings."

* Something called the 45Committee, which is "connected to" the Ricketts family, is launching "a multimillion-dollar spending effort in battleground state" in support of the Trump campaign.

* The GOP's #NeverTrump contingent isn't done speaking up: "A group of 30 former GOP lawmakers signed a blistering open letter to Republicans on Thursday, warning that Donald Trump lacks the 'intelligence' and temperament to be president and urging the party to reject the Republican presidential nominee at the polls on Nov. 8."

* Though it looked for a while like Trump was poised to win Ohio this year, two new polls suggest otherwise. Monmouth University shows Clinton up by two points, while PPP shows her leading by one point. Those are obviously narrow advantages, but for quite a while, practically every Ohio poll showed Trump ahead.

* As Rachel noted on the show the other night, The Atlantic has only endorsed three presidential candidates since its founding in the 1850s: Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Hillary Clinton this year.
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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) answers questions during his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty)

Despite his purported angst, Paul Ryan to campaign with Trump

10/07/16 11:20AM

In media, there's something called "burying the lede." A reporter or a news outlet will have some important detail to share, but instead of leading with the exciting scoop at the top of their story, they'll "bury the lede" by putting the good part further in, where it's less likely to be noticed.

Of course, politicians sometimes do the same thing -- on purpose. As the Huffington Post noted yesterday:
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is campaigning with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Wisconsin on Saturday, though it kind of seems he didn't want you to know that.

Ryan's campaign released a media advisory Thursday titled, "Paul Ryan to Attend Annual Fall Fest in Walworth County." It's an event in Ryan's home state, and the advisory lists lots of state officials attending.

Oh, and three paragraphs in, it mentions Trump will be there too.
Yep, Ryan seemed to bury the lede on purpose, listing quite a few local officials who'll be at Walworth County's "Fall Fest" before noting that the Republican Party's presidential nominee "will also join Wisconsin Republicans" at the event.

The statement concluded, "All questions related to Mr. Trump should be directed to the Trump campaign," which is an unintentionally hilarious euphemism for, "For the love of God, please don't call seeking a comment."

I'm afraid it's not quite so easy to let the House Speaker off the hook.
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Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson speaks to moderator Richard Lui of MSNBC during a 2016 Presidential Election Forum at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Aug. 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Gary Johnson takes another step in the wrong direction

10/07/16 10:40AM

For months, Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson has pushed aggressively for more attention for his longshot campaign, The good news is, the former governor has received the spotlight quite a bit lately. The bad news is, the spotlight hasn't exactly been flattering.

It started with Johnson's "What is Aleppo?" moment, which was soon followed by his "brain freeze" when asked to name a foreign leader he respects. This week, the Libertarian told a national television audience that his inability to find foreign countries on a map makes it less likely he'll start a war.

A day later, the New York Times asked Johnson if he knows the name of North Korea's leader. "I do," he replied -- before refusing to be more specific.

But it was this exchange with the Times that was especially problematic.
Attacking Hillary Clinton over what he criticized as her overly interventionist instincts, Mr. Johnson pointed to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, as well as civilian deaths caused by the American-backed coalition, and said Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state, bore at least partial responsibility.

But when pressed four times on whether he saw a moral equivalence between deaths caused by the United States, directly or indirectly, and mass killings of civilians by Mr. Assad and his allies, Mr. Johnson made clear that he did.
First, if Johnson can think of any reason Hillary Clinton is partially to blame for Syria's civil war, he hasn't shared it with anyone. Second, for the Libertarian presidential candidate to believe the United States and the Assad regime are effectively the same when it comes to mass civilian murders is completely bonkers.

It's not too late for those newspaper editorial boards that backed Johnson over Clinton to publish "on second thought..." endorsements.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Biloxi, Miss., Jan. 2, 2016. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Trump blames 'entertainment' for his rhetoric towards women

10/07/16 10:02AM

At last week's presidential debate, after Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump's rhetoric towards women, the Republican presidential candidate said many of his most controversial comments were "said in entertainment." This week, Trump used the same line in an interview with Jim Snyder at the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas.
"You have two beautiful daughters past their teenage years, can you understand the concern from parents of younger girls that some of your comments could be hurtful to girls struggling with body image and the pressure to be model perfect," asked Snyder.

Trump blamed entertainment. "A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment, there's nobody that has more respect for women than I do," he said.
Even at face value, this is a horrible argument. Misogynistic rhetoric that degrades and belittles women is not "entertaining," especially when coming from someone who aspires to the nation's highest office.

But let's say Trump is sincere. Just for the sake of conversation, let's imagine that Trump didn't really mean all of the things he's said about women, and that it was all just an offensive act from a media personality who simply wanted to be "entertaining." Donald Trump the character is a misogynist, the argument goes, but Donald Trump the person has a deep and abiding respect for women.

If that's true, what explains Trump's behavior in private, away from the cameras?
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Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine  and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speak during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on Oct. 4, 2016 in Farmville, Va. (Photo by Andrew Gombert/Pool/Getty)

After VP debate, 'That Mexican Thing' continues to linger

10/07/16 09:20AM

In this week's vice presidential debate, Tim Kaine brought up Donald Trump's infamous condemnation of Mexicans on four separate occasions. The repeated emphasis was understandable: it's one of the soundbites -- which Trump specifically planned -- that's come to define the Republican's candidacy.

But by Kaine's fourth reference, Mike Pence had heard enough. "Senator," Trump's running mate said, "you've whipped out that Mexican thing again."

The candidates continued on for a while, going back and forth -- Pence complained about "criminal aliens ... perpetrating violence," while Kaine rejected using "a big broad brush against Mexicans" -- but it wasn't long before the Indiana governor's specific three-word phrase took on its own political salience.

BuzzFeed's Adrian Carrasquillo explained this week why #ThatMexicanThing matters.
The moment came and went quickly, but blossomed on social media, where Latinos responded by highlighting the sacrifices their families have made in the country, leading both #ThatMexicanThing and #ThatMexicanThingAgain to trend on Twitter. [...]

Democrats pounced almost immediately to try to ensure that "that Mexican thing" followed the [Alicia] Machado thing as a major post-debate storyline. The DNC released a statement afterwards calling the comment "offensive" and organized a call with Congressional Hispanic Caucus members on Wednesday.
CHC Chair Linda Sanchez told reporters the Latino community "is not forgetting 'that Mexican thing.''" On the same call, Rep. Ruben Gallego added, "I don't know if anybody else caught this, there was an audible gasp from the crowd when Pence said 'that Mexican thing.'"

TPM's report noted that Hillary Clinton's campaign quickly bought the domain name and redirected it to her online donation page.
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Job growth remains steady as summer turns to fall

10/07/16 08:43AM

Expectations headed into this morning's jobs report was that the economy continued to steadily add new jobs last month, and the new data shows exactly that.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September, roughly in line with projections. The unemployment rate inched higher, rising to 5% from 4.9%, but it's largely for good reasons: more people entered the job market looking for employment last month. It's also the 12th consecutive month the rate has been at 5% or lower.

As for the revisions: July's job totals were revised down, from 275,000 to 252,000, while August's were revised up, from 151,000 to 167,000. Combined, that's a net loss of 7,000.

All told, like last month, this isn't an especially exciting jobs report, though it does come against a notable backdrop: the Federal Reserve is weighing a possible rate hike, and after robust job growth in the early summer, an increase appeared more likely. Today's mild BLS report may very well lead the Fed to hold off a bit longer.

Over the last 12 months, the overall economy has created 2.44 million new jobs, which is a pretty healthy number. What's more, September was the 72nd consecutive month of positive job growth, which is the longest on record.

As for the political season, also note that this is the penultimate jobs report ahead of Election Day next month. There will be one other, which will be released on Friday, Nov. 4.
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A view of the atmosphere of Hurricane Matthew prior to impacting Florida, Oct. 6, 2016,  in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Photo by Larry Marano/REX/Shutterstock)

Misguided politics surround Hurricane Matthew's U.S. arrival

10/07/16 08:00AM

Millions of Americans are watching Hurricane Matthew closely, and for good reason. The extremely dangerous hurricane has already proven to be a deadly storm, killing at least 122 people in Haiti alone, and it has the potential to do significant damage in the United States.

But Matthew's threat also coincides with a competitive election season, and while the storm obviously has nothing to do with politics, there is some unfortunate overlap between the two.

In Florida, for example, Gov. Rick Scott (R) has been under pressure to extend the state's voter-registration deadline in light of the storm and evacuations. As of yesterday, the governor has refused, telling reporters, "I'm not going to extend it. Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don't intend to make any changes."

As Slate explained that's hardly the ideal response under the circumstances.
Really? The appropriate response, instead of dismissing the idea out of hand, would be to say: "We're going to do our best to make sure everyone is safe and sound and everyone who wants to get to vote has that chance. We'll evaluate what, if any, changes need to be made once we're through this."

Or try replacing "voter registration deadline" with "tax deadline" and see how people react. Or with "final exam." People have jobs and lives and, you know, need a deadline to do things. If you think that last minute registration isn't a thing or doesn't affect a significant group of people, you're wrong. "Elections supervisors typically see a surge in voter interest immediately before the registration closes," according to the Miami Herald. "About 50,000 people registered during the final five days in 2012, according to University of Florida professor Daniel A. Smith, who studies Florida voting trends."
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), to her credit, did extend her state's voter-registration deadline.

In conservative media, meanwhile, the reactions to Matthew are even more discouraging. Rush Limbaugh told his audience this week that government officials are "playing games" with storm forecasts as part of an elaborate conspiracy that has something to do with climate change and political propaganda.
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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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