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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, watches President Barack Obama speak during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

House GOP's anti-Obama lawsuit already in deep trouble

09/23/14 09:59AM

After months of congressional Republicans condemning the tyranny of a lawless, out-of-control White House, GOP leaders announced they would file a historic lawsuit, taking President Obama's outrageous abuses to the courts. The transgression at the top of the Republicans list? A delayed deadline for an obscure Affordable Care Act provision.
Two months later, the litigation is already in bad shape. For one thing, it still hasn't been filed. For another, Republicans recently had to replace their legal team after the original firm that took the case walked away. (The GOP hired, of all people, Maureen McDonnell's lead defense attorney.)
Yesterday, as Jennifer Haberkorn reported, a similar case to the one Republicans are pushing was thrown out of court.
A federal appeals court has summarily tossed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's delay of Obamacare's employer mandate -- a case that is similar to the one that House Republicans plan to file against the president.
This suit was filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which argued that the delay could hurt doctors financially. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday said the plaintiffs don't have a right to sue.
A unanimous three-judge panel threw out the case only three days after oral argument, a breakneck speed.
That's not a good sign.
Indeed, given that the House GOP's case hasn't actually been filed, it's not too late for lawmakers to save taxpayers a few bucks and put an end to the p.r. stunt while the process is still in its infancy.
Rep. Vance McAllister, (R-LA) waits to be sworn in at the Capitol in Washington on Nov. 21, 2013.

'Kissing Congressman' latest to lean on wife

09/23/14 09:21AM

For a guy who's only been in Congress for 10 months, Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) has had quite a career on Capitol Hill.
Last November, the first-time candidate stunned the Louisiana GOP establishment by winning a congressional election. Four months after taking office, McAllister was humiliated by a video showing him kissing an aide -- who was not his wife. Five months after taking office, the congressman announced he would step down at the end of his term.
Then, just to make things extra interesting, the conservative Republican reversed course again, announced he'd changed his mind, and launched a campaign for a second term after all.
Now, as Benjy Sarlin reports, the "Kissing Congressman" is launching a campaign ad featuring the support of McAllister's wife, Kelly.
"I'm lucky to have been blessed with a great family and a wonderful Christian wife," the congressman says in the ad.
"And I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana," his wife responds.
At one point, the camera cuts to a shot of the two holding hands with Mrs. McAllister's engagement ring prominently visible. At the end, it fades into footage of the congressman smiling with his children outside.
There are a handful of questions that come to mind. Will Louisiana voters find an ad like this compelling? Are the visuals over the top? What will McAllister's Republican challengers say?
And while those angles certainly matter, the foremost question on my mind is this: why do cheating political husbands keep asking their wives to do stuff like this?
New York City Attempts To Remove Occupy Wall St Protestors From Park Encampment

Obama admin moves to curb inversion tax schemes

09/23/14 08:42AM

About six weeks ago, some congressional Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), publicly urged the White House to use executive powers to limit corporate tax "inversions." The Dems stood behind a legislative fix, including the proposed "Stop Corporate Inversions Act," but with Congress no longer legislating, it fell to the administration to act.
There was ample evidence to suggest the president's team was amenable to the suggestions. Indeed, Treasure Secretary Jack Lew acknowledged that officials were "looking at a very long list of possible ways to address the issue."
Suzy Khimm reported last night that the Obama administration is now moving forward with its policy decision.
The Treasury Department issued new rules on corporate "inversions" that would limit U.S. multinationals' ability to access their foreign subsidiaries' earnings without paying U.S. taxes on them.
The administration also made it more difficult for companies to conduct inversions in the first place: After an inversion, the previous owners of the U.S. multinational would have to own less than 80% of the new multinational, among other changes announced on Monday. The new rules "apply to deals closed today or after today," the Treasury said in a statement.
As one might expect, congressional Democrats are delighted and congressional Republicans aren't, but the underlying question remains the same: just how much effect will these actions have in the absence of legal changes approved by Congress?
In this image made from video released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, missiles bound for Syrian Islamic State group targets are launched off of a U.S. Navy ship.

U.S. air campaign begins overnight in Syria

09/23/14 08:01AM

When President Obama spoke two weeks ago about his counter-terrorism strategy towards the Islamic State, he specifically talked about using force to target ISIS "in Syria, as well as Iraq." It was at this point that we knew it was only a matter of time before the U.S. airstrikes began inside Syria.
Last night, we learned that this phase of the campaign is now underway.
The United States and a broad coalition of Arab partners launched a predawn attack on Islamist fighters in Syria, the Pentagon announced Monday, using bombers and cruise missiles in the first such strike on the Middle Eastern country that has been riven for two years by a catastrophic civil war.
The strikes -- part of a U.S. plan to hit up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria, where the militants have their headquarters -- mark a major escalation in the American military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which previously had been limited to Iraq.
As NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel noted last night, the timing of the offensive is important: the airstrikes coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, at which world leaders will consider how best to address the ISIS threat.
There are, of course, more questions than answers, and if you missed Rachel's segment at midnight (ET), it fleshed out many of the key aspects of the debate. For example, are the U.S. airstrikes likely to have the intended effect?
Thus far, the air campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq has been constant for six weeks, but the offensive has "scarcely budged the Sunni extremists." Whether a related campaign in Syria is determinative remains an open question.
Also, to what extent is the United States acting as part of a coalition?

Strikes on Khorasan Group and other headlines

09/23/14 07:48AM

Air strikes in Syria targeted Khorasan Group as well as ISIS. (NBC News)

Israel says it shot down a Syrian fighter jet. (NY Times)

Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin will campaign for Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. (Wichita Eagle)

Biden to Hispanics: Obama will act on immigration. (AP)

Another experimental ebola drug gets nod from the FDA. (Wall Street Journal)

Google to cut ties with ALEC for "literally lying" about climate change. (Talking Points Memo)

Politico names Chelsea Clinton's baby for her. (Politico)

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US, partners rip ISIS on new Syrian front

US, partners rip ISIS on new Syrian front

09/23/14 01:12AM

Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint Global Partners, talks with Rachel Maddow about global recruitment efforts by ISIS and how the new airstrikes by U.S. partners inside Syria are likely to affect the terror organization. watch

US attacks ISIS at Syria root

US attacks ISIS at Syria root

09/22/14 10:04PM

Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent, reports on the details of a new bombing campaign by the U.S. and partners of ISIS targets in Syria, and how those airstrikes are likely to be received by Syria. watch

US bombs Syria for ISIS targets

US bombs Syria for ISIS targets

09/22/14 09:47PM

Rachel Maddow reports breaking news that U.S. military aircraft have commenced bombing in Syria. Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, joins to discuss the international ramifications and the pressure on Arab partners to get involved. watch

"I can confirm that U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time. The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate."