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Workers prepare the debate site ahead of the second presidential debate at Washington University, Oct. 7, 2016, in St. Louis, Mo. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

Debate Night Open Thread

10/09/16 08:00PM

In about an hour, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off in their second of three presidential debates. If you’re not near a television right now, you can still watch MSNBC’s live feed of the event online right here.

In addition to MSNBC's pre-event coverage, which is already underway, Rachel will help cover the post-debate analysis and commentary on the air, and we’ll have plenty of follow-up in the morning. In the meantime, I thought I’d create an open thread for readers to weigh in before, during, and after the big showdown.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump motions to the crowd after speaking at a rally, Oct. 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pa. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

Donald Trump's week like no other

10/09/16 02:55PM

As recently as Monday -- just six days ago -- much of the political world was marveling at how awful the previous week had been for Donald Trump. As we discussed at the time, it started with a debate the candidate obviously lost and it ended with a bizarre series of middle-of-the-night tweets in which the Republican feuded with a former Miss Universe -- including his call to Americans to watch a "sex tape" that doesn't exist.

An NBC News analysis described it as possibly "the worst week in presidential campaign history," and at the time, that seemed more than fair.

And then last week happened.

Obviously, the audio of Trump bragging about sexual assault has rocked and the presidential campaign and Republican politics, but it was just part of a week like no other.
Mr. Trump had already been on the defensive on Friday after telling CNN that he still believed the exonerated defendants known as the Central Park Five were guilty of a 1989 rape of a female jogger despite DNA evidence to the contrary that later overturned their convictions. Earlier in the day, he also asserted, again without evidence, that the Obama administration was allowing illegal immigrants to enter the country in order to vote in November.

Also in the last week, The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
We can keep going down the same road.

This was the week Trump suggested veterans with PTSD aren't "strong" enough to "handle" combat. It was the week a state attorney general's office ordered the scandal-plagued Trump Foundation to stop fundraising. It was the week another Trump Playboy video surfaced.

It was the week we learned Trump's own lawyers don't trust him to be honest with them. It was the week Trump told swing state voters he knows better than they do about how to pronounce their state's name. It was the week the GOP candidate threatened a trade war with China if the foreign rival threatened his business interests.

And it was the week dozens of Republican officials officially gave up on supporting his presidential candidacy.
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The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

As Republicans flee Trump, the question becomes, 'Why now?'

10/09/16 02:04PM

What makes Donald Trump's latest scandal different from all the others is the reaction from his party. From Friday night to Saturday night, we saw more than a few Republican officials -- senators, governors, U.S. House members, et al -- abandon the controversial GOP presidential nominee in droves.

There are quite a few lists available of those participating in the Republican stampede, but I'm partial to this one, put together by the University of Chicago's (and Daily Kos') Daniel Nichanian, who broke down the list with helpful categories.

To be sure, even now, a clear majority of Republican officials are still aboard the Trump Train, and no one from the House or Senate leadership has formally abandoned the candidate. That said, the dozens of GOP officials who have given up on Trump since Friday afternoon is both striking and without precedent in American campaign history.

There's a temptation among many to see these departures as a noble act. As the argument goes, many Republicans, rather than defend Trump's indefensible comments (and professed actions), are putting principle above party and giving up on a candidate unfit for office. By this reasoning, these GOP officials deserve credit for responding to the latest revelations by finally doing the right thing.

But the truth is more complicated. Politico had a piece on this yesterday that summarized the problem nicely.
The problem for Donald Trump's supporters as they rush for the exit over that 2005 tape of him bragging about sexual harassment and assault: answering why this was what pushed them over the edge on him, or if it even did.

Anyone who bails or rushes to condemn him now implicitly accepted everything that's come before -- his saying Mexicans are rapists, that Megyn Kelly must have been menstruating when she aggressively questioned him at an early primary debate, that Muslims should be banned, that he didn't know enough about David Duke to condemn the former Ku Klux Klan wizard, that women should be punished for having abortions, all while welcoming the support of Nazis and white nationalists, mocking a reporter for his disabled arm, insisting a judge with Latino heritage couldn't rule fairly against him, smearing Khizr and Ghazala Khan, suggesting Hillary Clinton be shot, keeping up his birtherism softshoe and encouraging Russian hackers to go after his opponent's files.
For nearly the entirety of the Republican Party, each of these previous incidents deserved to be overlooked. Less than a week ago, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) even went so far as to say Trump is "absolutely" a role model for children, despite his record (she later said she "misspoke").

Month after month, scandal after scandal, offense after offense, the Republican Party just went along -- and of this afternoon, most of the GOP still is. The question for the Republican officials who've jumped ship isn't, "Why did you give up on Trump?" but rather, "Can you explain what in hell took so long?"
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Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, speaks during a campaign event for Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 31, 2016. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty)

Rudy Giuliani struggles to defend the indefensible

10/09/16 12:35PM

One of the challenges in describing Donald Trump's rhetoric towards women is choosing the appropriate phrasing. One of the more common adjectives used since Friday is "lewd," which is certainly accurate, but may also be incomplete.

In the scandalous 2005 recording that surfaced, Trump described situations in which he kissed women without their consent and grabbed them by their genitals. For reasons that should be obvious, it's led many to characterize Trump's actions as sexual assaults.

On ABC's "This Week" this morning, George Stephanopoulos asked Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's top surrogates and closest political allies, about the description. The exchange was extraordinary:
STEPHANOPOULOS:  You see that it was embarrassing to watch that, the problem isn't just the words. As both Senator McConnell and Vice President Biden pointed out, what Trump is describing in that tape is sexual assault.

GIULIANI:  That's what he's talking about. You know, whether it happened or not, I don't know. And how much exaggeration was involved in that? I don't know.
Let's not brush past this too quickly. In effect, Donald Trump's top campaign surrogate told a national television audience this morning, "Yes, the Republican presidential candidate boasted about committing sexual assault, but we have no idea whether or not he was telling the truth."

And that, for lack of a better word, is madness.
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Appalachen, Pennsylvania, USA

Week in Geek - 3D Earth edition

10/09/16 12:12PM

The German Aerospace Center (aka DLR, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) has just released a 3D map of Earth as part of the TanDEM-X satellite mission.

TanDEM-X (TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) is one of two twin German radar satellites in Low-Earth orbit. It flies in formation TerraSAR-X about 250-500 meters apart and the distance between the satellites is known to within one millimeter. The resulting stereo measurements have allowed DLR to create a digital elevation map of Earth's surface accurate to one meter. That means the satellites can detect a change of 0.0002% in elevation!

"Processing this data was an exciting challenge for us," explains Richard Bamler, Director of DLR's Remote Sensing Technology Institute. "We are now all the more fascinated by our initial scientific findings. Using the current elevation model, we have shown that in some regions of Earth, glaciers are losing up to 30 metres in thickness per year in the area of the glacier tongues."

The release of this map is far from the end of the mission. Earth’s surface is continually evolving due to both natural and human forces, so the data will be continually updated to reflect changes due to both climate and environmental reasons as well as urban development. I highly recommend browsing the online gallery and pondering this amazing technological accomplishment.

Here's some more geek from the week:

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U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz., Oct. 4, 2016. (Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters)

Donald Trump tape throws Republican politics into chaos

10/09/16 11:01AM

There have been some extraordinary 24-hour periods in recent American political history. Consider the chaos surrounding the 2000 presidential election, for example, or the 1998 impeachment crisis, when House Republicans forced one Speaker to resign, only to see his successor quit soon after.

But when it comes to campaign history, Americans have probably never seen anything quite like the developments between Friday and Saturday afternoon.

As most of the planet has learned, Donald Trump was recorded in 2005 boasting about his romantic exploits, which eventually led him to brag about committing sexual assaults. The Republican presidential candidate said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers beautiful -- "I don't even wait," Trump claimed -- which he said he can get away with because of his public profile.

"And when you're a star, they let you do it," Trump said on the recording. "You can do anything. Grab 'em by the p---y."

The GOP campaign issued a brief, wholly inadequate statement on Friday afternoon, which read, "This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course -- not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended."

When this did little to calm the waters, Trump releaseed a hastily crafted video apology in the middle of the night -- in which he dismissed the scandal as a "distraction," before again attacking the Clintons.

This, in turn, caused a wide variety of Republican officials to reject Trump's presidential candidacy, and in the process, throw GOP politics into chaos.

There's no shortage of angles to this, but here's a quick rundown of some of the most notable:
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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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