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E.g., 7/22/2014
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President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall meeting focusing on the importance of the My Brothers Keeper Initiative at the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C, on July 21, 2014.

A day in the life

07/22/14 09:37AM

At 10:39 a.m. (ET) yesterday, President Obama hosted an event at the East Room of the White House, where he signed a sweeping anti-discrimination executive order. Just 29 minutes after the gathering was over, Obama spoke from the South Lawn, addressing the crises in Ukraine and Gaza.
 
Literally just 35 minutes after those remarks, the president kicked off a town-hall event on his "My Brother's Keeper" program, where he announced an additional $100 million in funding for his racial justice initiative, "a public-private program that focuses on the unique challenges faced by young men of color." And two hours after that, Obama was back in the East Room, this time to present the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts.
 
I think it's fair to say that was a fairly busy day for the president.
 
Indeed, for all the talk about gridlock and Washington paralysis, Obama demonstrated yesterday that he's more than capable, not only of governing effectively, but of tackling a variety of subjects at once. Watching the president pivot from issue to issue yesterday, we were reminded of Obama's willingness and eagerness to lead, govern effectively, and pursue a clear vision. And it's not just yesterday -- the president will unveil a series of executive actions today on job training.
 
Congressional inaction is a time-honored tradition in the months before an election. But the stagnation in this Congress -- even in the face of mounting national and international challenges -- only bolsters the perception that this is really the least productive in history. And a thaw doesn't appear to be in the offing as each party commits to seeking an elusive, post-election upper hand.
The contrast between an active president, appearing almost desperate to get things done, and a passive Congress, spinning its wheels without direction, is stark.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., joined by attorneys Paul D. Clement, far left, and Rick Esenberg, second from left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and th

An 'unfortunate political stunt' goes awry

07/22/14 08:35AM

Earlier this year, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) thought he'd come up with a great idea: he'd file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act in the hopes of making coverage more expensive for Capitol Hill staff. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Johnson's home state of Wisconsin, conceded the senator's lawsuit was "frivolous" and an "unfortunate political stunt."
 
Yesterday, in a development that was arguably even more important than it appears at first blush, a federal judge threw out the case.
A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson's Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.
 
The court dismissed the lawsuit, which contended the Obama administration decision to grant employer contributions for health plans purchased through the District of Columbia's Obamacare health exchange ran afoul of the law.
 
Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Johnson and fellow plaintiff Brooke Ericson lacked standing, siding with the argument made by the government's lawyers.
The hurdle for Johnson's lawyers was always going to be difficult to clear: how would the Republican senator demonstrate he'd been harmed by the health care policy he doesn't like? Remember, when filing a lawsuit challenging the legality of a law, plaintiffs can't just say, "I don't like it." They need to show how they've been adversely affected by it.
 
Johnson couldn't, so his case was dismissed. But this is more than just a setback for one Republican senator with a partisan axe to grind; this is also likely the start of things to come for the GOP's anti-Obama litigation.
Rick Perry

Rick Perry's 'Operation Strong Safety'

07/22/14 08:00AM

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently appeared on Fox News, stressing his support for deploying National Guard troops to address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border. Brit Hume asked the governor to explain what the Guard would actually do. Perry struggled to explain.
 
Hume reminded Perry, "[I]f these children who've undergone these harrowing journeys, to escape the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won't shoot them and can't arrest them?"
 
At this point, Perry changed the subject.
 
But that was last week. This week, the Republican governor and likely presidential candidate is moving forward with his idea, whether he can explain its merits or not.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Monday requested the immediate deployment of as many as 1,000 service members to assist with security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
 
The soldiers, from both the Texas National Guard and State Guard, will mobilize throughout the next 30 days to carry out "Operation Strong Safety" along the border region.
 
"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault," Perry said Monday during a press conference.
First, there's very little to suggest Texans are "under assault." Second, "Operation Strong Safety" is an unintentionally amusing phrase. As Paul Waldman joked, "'Operation Strong Safety'? Why not just go ahead and call it Operation America Macho TestosteReagan?"
 
But even putting that aside, at its core, the most meaningful concern here is that Perry's solution doesn't match the problem.

Supersonic impact and other headlines

07/22/14 07:56AM

Jet wreckage bears signs of impact by supersonic missile, analysis shows. (NY Times)

Israeli soldier missing in Gaza. (AP)

Where is the Obama administration housing the immigrant kids? (Washington Post)

Georgia holds primary runoffs today, which could mean the return of Bob Barr to congress. (AP)

Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio. (AP)

Many Americans still think Obama not a citizen. (Political Wire)

New information deepens the mystery of the missing IRS emails. (Wall Street Journal)

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Diplomacy is Middle East's only path to peace

Diplomacy is Middle East's only path to peace

07/21/14 10:45PM

Rachel Maddow reviews the recent history of violent clashes between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza and points out that each time the violence ended it was because of a brokered ceasefire, not because war and fighting won the peace. watch

Execution drug secrecy blocked by court

Execution drug secrecy blocked by court

07/21/14 10:42PM

Michael Kiefer, senior reporter for the Arizona Republic, talks with Rachel Maddow about the significance of a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that Arizona must reveal the source of its execution drug before it can kill a prisoner with it. watch

No more beard for Lawrence!

No more beard for Lawrence!

07/21/14 10:32PM

Lawrence O'Donnell reveals his bare, beardless face for the first time since returning to the air following time away to recover from a serious car accident. watch

Ahead on the July 21, 2014 Maddow show

07/21/14 08:09PM

Tonight's guests:0

  • Kimberly Marten, professor of political science specializing in Russian affairs at Barnard College and Columbia University
  • Michael Kiefer, senior reporter for the Arizona Republic

And here's executive producer Bill Wolff with a preview of tonight and a soundtrack tribute to one of this weekend's passings:

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