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Podiums a presdential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum on Jan. 19, 2012 in Charleston, S.C.

Caught in a fib, Trump hedges on debate schedule

08/01/16 09:20AM

It may seem hard to believe, but the first general-election presidential debate is next month. On Monday, Sept. 26, the major-party candidates -- and any third-party candidate with more than 15% support in national polls -- will meet for the first of three widely anticipated showdowns.
 
What's unclear is whether or not Donald Trump will agree to participate.
 
Late Friday, the Republican nominee argued via Twitter that it's "unacceptable" that Hillary Clinton and Democrats are "trying to rig the debates" so that they compete against "major NFL games." A day later, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican nominee about his plans in an interview that aired yesterday on "This Week."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about debates. You're gonna accept the recommendations of the Debate Commission, three debates, one VP debate?
 
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what I don't like. It's against two NFL games. I got a letter from the NFL saying, "This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against--" 'cause the NFL doesn't wanna go against the debates. 'Cause the debates are gonna be pretty massive, from what I understand, okay? And I don't think we should be against the NFL. I don't know how the dates were picked.
Well, a couple of things. First, Trump should probably learn "how the dates were picked" before popping off. In reality, Clinton and Democrats didn't set the schedule; the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates picked the dates last fall.
 
Second, Trump claims the NFL sent him a letter about this. That doesn't appear to be true: the NFL insisted over the weekend that the league never sent any such letter.
 
All of which leads to questions about whether the Republican nominee may ultimately balk at the agreed upon schedule.
Voting booths await voters in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, ahead of the Iowa primary elections.

Latest polls point to post-convention bounce for Clinton

08/01/16 08:40AM

About a week ago at this time, polls showed Donald Trump in a much stronger position in the presidential race, benefiting from a modest post-convention bump in the polls. The data came with an obvious caveat: the picture was temporary. What would the landscape would look like after both parties' conventions were over?
 
This morning, the answer to that question is coming into sharper focus. CBS News, for example, released these results this morning.
Forty-six percent of voters nationwide say they'll vote for Clinton in November, while 39 percent say they'll back Trump. The race was tied last week after the Republican convention. Clinton led by a similar margin in June.
 
Clinton got a four-point bounce after her party's convention, compared to a two-point bump for Trump after his convention. When compared to previous Democratic presidential nominees, Clinton's bounce is similar to those President Obama got in 2012 and 2008, but short of the 13-point bounce her husband, Bill Clinton, received in 1992.
That last point, about 1992, comes with its own asterisk: Ross Perot dropped out of the race during the Democratic convention that year, which exaggerated then-Gov. Clinton's bounce.
 
A report from Public Policy Polling, released yesterday, also shows Hillary Clinton benefiting from a post-convention bump in public support. In a head-to-head match-up, PPP found the Democratic nominee leading Trump, 50% to 45%, and that five-point advantage remains intact when third-party candidates are added to the mix.
 
As for the averages, which are worth keeping in mind while scrutinizing any individual poll, the Huffington Post's aggregator shows Clinton ahead, 46.6% to 42.5% (a week ago at this time, her lead was 0.7%), while RealClearPolitics' aggregator shows Clinton up, 44.9% to 42.7% (a week ago, RCP showed Trump leading by 0.2%).
 
The New York Times' prediction model now shows Clinton with a 70% chance of winning the election, up slightly from 68% last Monday morning. FiveThirtyEight's "polls-plus" model -- which factors in economic data, historical trends, etc. -- shows Clinton with a 60.9% chance of success (up from 57.8% a week ago). FiveThirtyEight also has a "polls-only" model that focuses exclusively on survey data, and it gives Clinton a 51% probability (which is actually down a little from 53.5%).
Khizr Khan, father of deceased Muslim U.S. Soldier Humayun S. M. Khan, delivers remarks on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Penn. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Trump faces backlash after clashing with fallen hero's family

08/01/16 08:00AM

On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan's parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, made a powerful appearance, honoring their son who was killed in Iraq, and challenging some of Donald Trump's most offensive positions. The result was more than a memorable convention moment -- the Khans caused a spike in the public's interest in voter registration and purchases of pocket copies of the Constitution.
 
In response, Trump could have said nothing, or perhaps extended his best wishes to the Khan family before moving on. But when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican presidential nominee about the Khans on Saturday afternoon, Trump just couldn't help himself.
TRUMP: I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional. And probably looked like -- a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet and looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that. And personally, I watched him. I wish him the best of luck, George.
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: What would you say to the father?
 
TRUMP: Well, I would say, we have had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism, that's what I'd say.
Reminded that Mr. Khan said Trump has never had to sacrifice, the GOP candidate added, "I think I have made a lot of sacrifices. I've work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success."

When the ABC host asked if those actually constitute "sacrifices," Trump replied, "Oh sure, I think they're sacrifices."
The backlash has been intense, with many on the left, right, and center wondering aloud what in the world Donald Trump was thinking going after a Gold Star family like this, and defining "sacrifice" in a way that seemed hard to understand and even harder to defend.
 
Yesterday, he somehow managed to make matters just a little worse.
Reprocessed version of the first light image of Africa made by the DSCOVR EPIC camera on July 6, 2015.

Week in Geek - A year in the life edition

07/31/16 09:19AM

This month NASA released a year-long time lapse of the Earth as seen by its Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission orbiting the Sun in sync with us.

You may have already seen a few releases from the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera abroad the spacecraft, most notably its a first-light image last July and earlier this month when the Moon briefly photobombed the Earth.

DSCOVR is over a million miles away from us, but it is able to stay in orbit directly between Earth and the Sun thanks to a gravitational point of stability known as a Lagrange Point, where the pull between two masses is balanced. In the Sun-Earth system, there are five such points - DSCOVR orbits at the first one (L1) which is a point between the Sun and the Earth where the pull of both bodies on the spacecraft is equal. In this position, the side of Earth facing the spacecraft is always fully illuminated by the sun. DSCOVR's mission is to observe the solar wind (aka space weather) and provide advance warnings when magnetic storms and flares are headed our way, but its unique vantage point also enables it to provide valuable data on Earth's atmosphere and climate.

For the past year, EPIC has taken a photo of Earth every two hours which NASA has now used to create a time-lapse video. EPIC has ten different filters, but only a subset of them (red, green, and blue) were used to create these images. The video below is narrated by Jay Herman, the lead scientist on EPIC, who explains the mission while the Earth goes through a full year. It's fascinating to pick a hemisphere or latitude and see how the cloud cover changes (or doesn't) day to day and month to month.

Here's some more geek from the week:

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This Week in God, 7.30.16

07/30/16 08:01AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the importance of one of the more inspirational messages delivered during the Democratic National Convention this week. NBC News reported:
In a speech that shook the walls of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, delivered one of the most riveting addresses of the Democratic National Convention.
The 52-year-old pastor delivered a sermon to 20,000 seated and standing in an arena filled to the upper levels as well as in the exclusive suites.
 
Barber's speech was one of the strongest of either the Republican or Democratic convention as it covered a wide path of moral territory in a nation with changing demographics that will soon permanently alter the future face of U.S. politics.
I've posted a video excerpt, but if you missed it, you owe it to yourself to watch the whole, 10-minute address. Note the way in which Barber weaves together progressive values on so many issues -- economic justice, immigration, civil rights, criminal justice, et al -- in order to position the left as champions of morality and family values.
 
To be sure, the North Carolina preacher, perhaps best known for his Moral Mondays vigils, was one of many speakers emphasizing those same themes. But as the Washington Post's Janell Ross explained, what Barber delivered "was evidence of a long tradition of liberal, religious patriotism. It was a call to action that, in Barber's view, serves this cause -- an articulation of a liberal and patriotic philosophy with what Barber said was the moral force to shock and resuscitate the heart of the nation."
 
Talk of the nation's "religious left," long seen as a possible rival to the influential religious right movement, tends to come in fits and starts. When it seems as if the progressive, faith-based community is poised to breakthrough and have a larger cultural footprint, too often its moment passes.
 
But Vox noted yesterday that at the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia this week, the religious left appeared to be "waking up." The piece added, "Religion was everywhere at the DNC, but it rarely felt overpowering, or even explicitly Christian."
 
It's a key detail: the religious left is diverse in ways the religious right is not, a characteristic that brings with it benefits and challenges. Nevertheless, if this week's Democratic convention is any indication, this remains a burgeoning movement in its own right, and with faith leaders like Barber helping lead the way, the religious left's capacity to make a difference is enormous.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Can Clinton manage bipartisan appeal?

Can Clinton manage bipartisan appeal?

07/29/16 09:52PM

Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the Hillary Clinton campaign can reach out to disaffected Republicans and Independents while keeping Democrats, and how Americans' fear of Donald Trump on foreign policy plays into that outreach. watch

Is this Tim Kaine?

Is this Tim Kaine?

07/29/16 09:38PM

Rachel Maddow notes that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be confused about who he running against after criticizing former Governor Tom Kean about his governing of New Jersey. watch

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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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