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John Boehner rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise, Dec. 12, 2013.

House GOP's lawyers give up on anti-Obama lawsuit

10/30/14 08:00AM

More than four months after House Republicans announced their historic plan to sue President Obama, the litigation, like so many initiatives from GOP lawmakers, has become a fiasco. Josh Gerstein and Maggie Haberman reported overnight that the Republicans' lawyers have given up on the case -- again.
House Speaker John Boehner's still-unfiled lawsuit against President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional power is in more trouble.
For the second time in two months, a major law firm has backed out of an agreement to pursue the case, sources say.
Apparently, the attorneys responsible for the case decided to give up "in recent weeks," but we're just learning about their decision now. Boehner's office wouldn't comment on why they quit the case, though a spokesperson for the Speaker told Politico, "The litigation remains on track, but we are examining the possibility of forgoing outside counsel and handling the litigation directly through the House."
The piece added that some in the D.C. legal community "believe it's possible no suit will ever be filed."
To appreciate the severity of the fiasco, consider this timeline of events:

Quarantine battle and other headlines

10/30/14 07:57AM

Quarantined nurse emerges, plans legal fight. (Portland Press Herald)

IRS eases tax burden on Ebola donations. (Wall Street Journal)

How an ugly, intra-party state Senate race could save the Democrats a House seat. (National Journal)

More turmoil for House GOP lawsuit against Obama. (Politico)

Officials: Ferguson police chief to leave his post. (Washington Post)

Abortion foes working to shut down North Alabama's only clinic get their day in court. (

Troops to be checked for chemical exposure in Iraq. (NY Times)

Peshmerga troops start entering Syrian town of Kobani to fight ISIS. (AP)

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IUD is not an ongoing abortion in your body

An IUD is not an ongoing abortion in your body

10/29/14 11:31PM

Dr. Stephanie Teal, of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, helps Rachel Maddow in the man cave explain to people, like Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, why an IUD is not an ongoing abortion in a woman's body. watch

Joni Ernst (Justin Hayworth/AP)

A few handy links for our friends at Fox News

10/29/14 10:39PM

Tonight on the show, we played tape of Sharron Angle, a Republican Senate candidate from Nevada in 2010, talking about "Second Amendment remedies" if conservatives didn't get the election results they wanted. We also played tape of Joni Ernst, a current Republican Senate candidate from Iowa, saying she is ready to turn to armed violence against the government.

We've since noticed our friends at Fox News saying that we got it wrong and that they intend to correct the record.

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Ahead on the 10/29/14 Maddow show

10/29/14 08:02PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Bill Nemitz, columnist for the Portland Press Herald
  • Dr. Stephanie Teal, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine 

Check out what we've got planned for tonight's show after the jump
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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 10.29.14

10/29/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* White House: "President Barack Obama repeated his message that America needs to support those treating the Ebola outbreak in Africa, saying 'the world owes them a debt of gratitude' -- even as authorities in Maine weighed whether to enforce a quarantine on a nurse there."
* Liberia: "World Health Organization officials on Wednesday said they see 'glimmers of hope' in Liberia, the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic, with strong evidence that the rate of new cases is declining for the first time since the crisis began."
* Kaci Hickox: "The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal."
* Pentagon: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered Wednesday that all U.S. troops who deploy to West Africa as part of the force assisting in the Ebola virus crisis be put in quarantine-like monitoring for 21 days, even though none are expected to treat patients directly."
* The end of QE3: "An upbeat Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the economic recovery was chugging along and that it would end its latest-bond buying campaign on schedule at the end of the month. The Fed, in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, said the bond-buying program had served its purpose by contributing to stronger job growth."
* What happened to the Antares rocket? "Authorities on Wednesday started investigating what caused an unmanned U.S. supply rocket to explode in a fireball moments after liftoff from a Virginia launch pad, destroying supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station."
* ISIS: "Watching the news, you could be forgiven for thinking that ISIS is an unstoppable juggernaut, sweeping Iraq and Syria in an unending, unstoppable, terrible blitzkrieg. But you'd be wrong. The truth is that ISIS's momentum is stalled: in both Iraq and Syria, the group is being beaten back at key points."
* Ferguson: "Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the need for 'wholesale change' in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department was 'pretty clear.'"
* The twists and turns of a bizarre story: "The investigator who led the Department of Homeland Security's internal review of the Secret Service's 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned in August after he was implicated in his own incident involving a prostitute, according to current and former department officials."
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waves as she arrives to address the third session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. on Aug. 29, 2012.

Condoleezza Rice praises Ernst's foreign policy vision

10/29/14 04:55PM

Despite her Beltway reputation, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has "surprisingly partisan" political tendencies. As longtime readers may recall, Rice has a reputation for relative high-mindedness, especially when compared to some of her former Bush/Cheney colleagues, she's a more aggressive Republican than is generally appreciated.
Today, for example, Rice threw her support to one of the nation's most right-wing U.S. Senate candidates: Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst.
"Joni Ernst has dedicated her life to the service of others, bravely leading troops in Iraq and safely bringing them home to Iowa. Now Iowans have an opportunity to make her the first female combat veteran to ever serve in the U.S. Senate," Rice said in a statement released by Ernst's campaign.
"We need more leaders, like Joni, who understand America's role abroad and the threats posed against us," she added.
That's certainly a nice sentiment, but the notion that Joni Ernst has an admirable understanding of America's role abroad is tough to take seriously.
It's Ernst, after all, who recently argued that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction -- reality be damned -- based on secret evidence that Ernst has "reason to believe," but can't explain.
I can see why such nonsense might endear the far-right candidate to a veteran of the Bush/Cheney team, but it doesn't exactly reflect someone with sound judgment on international affairs.
For that matter, Ernst also argued in a recent debate that "there's no sense" in having members of Congress meet their obligations under the Constitution when it comes to authorizing the use of military force abroad.
And, then, of course, there are Ernst fears about the Agenda 21 conspiracy.
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie speaks during a news conference about New York's first case of Ebola, in New York on Oct. 24, 2014. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Chris Christie's search for scientific backup

10/29/14 04:32PM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) handling of the Kaci Hickox incident, and the Ebola threat in general, has drawn quite a bit of criticism, but the Republican governor believes he has a trump card. In several recent interviews, Christie has emphasized that his policy obviously has some merit, since it's been endorsed by Dr. Bruce Beutler, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2011.
A local report out of the Garden State today noted Beutler's thinking on the subject (thanks to my colleague Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).
"I favor it, because it's not entirely clear that they can't transmit the disease," Beutler said.... "It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can't transmit the disease, because we don't have the numbers to back that up," said Beutler, "It could be people develop significant viremia [where viruses enter the bloodstream and gain access to the rest of the body], and become able to transmit the disease before they have a fever, even. People may have said that without symptoms you can't transmit Ebola. I'm not sure about that being 100 percent true. There's a lot of variation with viruses."
In fact, in a study published online in late September by the New England Journal of Medicine and backed by the World Health Organization, 3,343 confirmed and 667 probable cases of Ebola were analyzed, and nearly 13 percent of the time, those infected with Ebola exhibited no fever at all.
As it turns out, that may not be quite right. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine has actually said largely the opposite. As we noted yesterday, the NEJM, arguably the nation's premier medical journal took the unusual step of intervening in a political debate, questioning the value of Christie's policy, and specifically concluding, "an asymptomatic health care worker returning from treating patients with Ebola, even if he or she were infected, would not be contagious."
But about that "nearly 13 percent" figure?

Boehner outraged by U.S. criticism of Netanyahu

10/29/14 02:36PM

Obama administration officials' frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently reached the breaking point. One senior U.S. official called the Israeli leader "a chickens**t" because "the only thing he's interested in is protecting himself from political defeat."
House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) is outraged -- not by Netanyahu's antics straining U.S./Israeli ties, but because of the anonymous criticism of the prime minister.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said that profanity-laced attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from senior Obama administration officials were an implicit reflection of President Obama's views, adding that the official who called Netanyahu "chickens---" should be fired. [...]
Boehner said that the administration officials should be dismissed. "The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not," Boehner said.
"It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can't muster professionalism that it is time to move on," Boehner added.
Of course, in 2008, it was none other than John Boehner who condemned then-candidate Obama as "chickens**t" over some votes in the Illinois state legislature.
You see, John Boehner sets the tone for John Boehner, and he either condones the profanity and disrespect Boehner uses, or he does not. Perhaps it's time for Boehner to tell Boehner that if he can't muster professionalism then it may be time to move on.
Indeed, this really just scratches the surface of the Speaker's latest nonsense.
Psychiatrist Keith Ablow testified in court in Boston, Mass. on June 4, 2009.

Taking 'manifest destiny' to a whole new level

10/29/14 12:46PM

There's no point in getting too worked up about every nutty idea from every random Fox News contributor. That's especially true of far-right psychiatrist Keith Ablow. But when Jon Chait thinks he's identified "the craziest idea ever proposed by a Fox News personality," it's worth pausing to take a closer look.
Jessica Torres explained this morning exactly what Ablow had in mind.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow wrote that "it's time for an American jihad" to, forcibly if need be, convert every nation's government into a reflection of the U.S. government.
In an October 28 op-ed, Ablow wrote that America's history "proves our manifest destiny not only to preserve our borders and safety and national character at home, but to spread around the world our love of individual freedom and insist on its reflection in every government."
There's no reason to believe Ablow was kidding.  Under the "jihad" the Fox News contributor envisions, the United States would commit itself to the belief "that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place."
Even our allies -- he mentions France, Italy, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany, seemingly at random -- would be urged to "adopt laws similar to our own." Americans should seek to become policymakers in foreign countries, Ablow argues, and Americans "might even fund" these foreign campaigns.
In the 19th century, Americans had a spirited debate about "manifest destiny" on a continental scale, but Ablow apparently sees no need to stop where the oceans start. Rather, he's describing "manifest destiny" on a global scale.
"[W]herever leaders and movements appear that seek to trample upon the human spirit, we have a God-given right to intervene," he argued in all seriousness.
When Ablow touted his thesis on Fox this morning, Brian Kilmeade said his provocative thesis deserves to be discussed. Ablow replied, "What's to discuss?" Apparently, the merits of an "American jihad" are just that obvious.