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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby In ACA Contraception Case

This Week in God, 7.12.14

07/12/14 09:00AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Illinois, where a Christian minister came up with an interesting way to protest the Supreme Court's recent anti-contraception ruling.
After the ruling was issued, and Americans learned that some employers had been empowered to restrict their employees' access to birth control, many on the left may have been tempted to go to Hobby Lobby stores and hand out contraception as a way to register their outrage.
But in Northern Illinois, some clergy weren't just tempted -- they actually did it.
A reverend in Illinois organized a demonstration to hand out condoms outside of a local Hobby Lobby store in order to protest the Supreme Court's ruling on contraception, the Daily Herald reported.
Rev. Mark Winters of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Naperville, Ill., said it started out as a joke in a Facebook, but after he got a great response, he decided to organize a protest.
The group of demonstrators stood outside the store to hand out condoms donated by Planned Parenthood. Winters told the Daily Herald that he wanted the protest to show that not all Christians oppose birth control. He also said he hoped to get people to question whether the Supreme Court's decision was fair to Hobby Lobby employees' religious freedom.
Winters added, "Jesus had a lot of issue with powerful people using power over the powerless."
The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, a Unitarian Universalist minister who attended the demonstration, added, "I'm just hoping that (people who see the demonstration) realize that this opinion (of Hobby Lobby's owners) is not the opinion of religious people as a broad spectrum, but that religious people have many different opinions."
On a related note, a Baptist minister held a prayer vigil outside Hobby Lobby's flagship store in Edmond, Oklahoma, to decry the decision. "Hobby Lobby employees who will now have difficulty accessing health care they need to responsibly plan for their families' futures," Dr. Bruce Powell explained.
Also from the God Machine this week:
GOP wary of Boehner lawsuit backfiring

GOP wary of Boehner lawsuit backfiring

07/11/14 10:41PM

Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post, talks with Ari Melber about why Speaker Boehner chose an element of Obamacare as the basis of his lawsuit against President Obama when Obamacare is showing so many signs of success for Americans. watch

An Emmy for President Obama?

An Emmy for President Obama?

07/11/14 10:32PM

Ari Melber reports that the episode of Between Two Ferns featuring President Obama is nominated for an Emmy, putting the president on a potential path to a rare "EGOT" (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), after his audiobook Grammy. watch

GOP redistricting scheme blocked by court

GOP redistricting scheme blocked by court

07/11/14 10:29PM

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, talks with Ari Melber about her organization's victory in court against a Republican redistricting scheme to reduce Democratic representation in Congress. watch

Dead men dodge no drafts

Dead men dodge no drafts

07/11/14 10:29PM

Ari Melber reports on a clerical mistake in Pennsylvania that led to 14,000 notices being sent to (dead) men born between 1893 and 1897, telling them to register for the military draft. watch

Ahead on the 7/11/14 Maddow show

07/11/14 08:18PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post
  • John Stanton, D.C. bureau chief for Buzzfeed
  • Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida

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Friday's Mini-Report, 7.11.14

07/11/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Crisis in Israel: "Rocket fire from both the Gaza Strip and Lebanon struck Israel Friday morning as the Israeli military continued its air assault on the coastal enclave, where officials said the death toll rose to 98."
* Japan: "A minor tsunami hit Miyagi prefecture in Japan early Saturday after a strong 6.8-magnitude quake jolted the country's northeastern Pacific coast, prompting advisories for regions including around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant."
* Ukraine: "Rebels attacked a Ukrainian military camp in eastern Ukraine on Friday, killing as many as 30 soldiers and border guards, the Ukrainian authorities said."
* Afghanistan: "Secretary of State John Kerry began a series of meetings in Kabul on Friday in hopes of finding a way out of a presidential election crisis that has threatened to split the Afghan government and prompted Western officials to warn that Afghanistan risked losing billions of dollars in aid on which it depends."
* There's still no GOP alternative: "President Obama's request of $3.7 billion in emergency funding for the border is too high, the House chairman with purview over spending said Friday. 'No, that's too much,' Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said when asked whether the House would pass the spending bill outlined by the administration."
* Time for the CDC to get its act together: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday said it has closed two laboratories and halted some shipments of dangerous disease samples after discovering new safety breaches, including one that involved the dangerous avian flu."
* Deficit: "The White House predicted Friday that the federal budget deficit will dip below $600 billion this year for the first time since the Great Recession hit in 2007."
* Mississippi: "[S]tate Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) said Friday that his campaign and his supporters have found 'over 8,300 questionable ballots cast' in the runoff election for U.S. Senate, which Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) won."
* Ari Berman reports from North Carolina, where the future of the Voting Rights Act is on the line: "Eleven witnesses -- a mixture of civil rights activists, legislators and election experts -- testified against the law, known as House Bill 589, over the course of four days."
Sen. Mitch McConnell

McConnell believes 'most of the barriers' for women 'have been lowered'

07/11/14 04:06PM

On some level, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) realizes that the gender gap is putting his career in jeopardy. He's facing a competitive challenge from a very talented woman, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who will almost certainly give McConnell the toughest re-election fight of his career.
It's why the long-time Republican incumbent, worried about women voters putting Lundergan Grimes over the top, has occasionally been reduced to making claims about his record on women's issues that aren't quite in line with reality.
That said, this new report from Joe Sonka suggests McConnell is still a little confused about how to address issues of particular concern to women. Consider his remarks this week about the vanishing barriers American women now face:
"We've come a long way... in pay equity and uh... there are a ton of women CEOs now running major companies...
"I could be wrong, but I think most of the barriers have been lowered. And I'm a little skeptical about arguments that -- particularly people like my party who are hostile to women -- what kind of nonsense is that? I think my opponent is going to make that argument to all of you this fall, that somehow I'm promoting policies that are harmful to women. I don't think that kind of agenda exploitation for political purposes makes any sense. The last time I ran I got 50 percent of the women votes in the state. So I don't grant the assumption that we need to sort of give preferential treatment to the majority of our population, which is in my view, leading and performing all across the... you know, maybe I'm missing something here."
In this case, yes, maybe he's "missing something here" and he "could be wrong."
Indeed, it's almost as if Mitch McConnell is daring women to vote against him.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner gestures before President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2014 at the US Capitol in Washington.

'It's not about executive actions'

07/11/14 03:08PM

House Speaker John Boehner, on Sunday, complaining about the White House:
"[T]oo often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action."
House Speaker John Boehner, four days later, complaining about the White House (thanks to my colleague Mike Yarvitz for the heads-up):
"This is about the legislative branch ... and it's not about executive actions."
I'm glad Boehner could clear this up for us.
We talked earlier about the Speaker's lawsuit and its lack of merit, but looking over the transcript from Boehner's press conference yesterday, it's hard not to get the impression that the House Republican leadership started with the answer (let's sue the President Obama), then struggled to work backwards (let's figure out why).
As a rule, this isn't how government is supposed to work.
Worse, it wasn't the only presidential criticism from Boehner's press conference that lacked coherence. When the issue of the border crisis came up, for example, a reporter noted that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned his party that if they do nothing, the GOP will "get blamed for perpetuating the problem."
"This is a problem of the president's own making!" Boehner replied, pointing to proof that doesn't exist. "He's been president for five-and-a-half years! When's he going to take responsibility for something?"
If the fury on Boehner's face was indicative of sincerity, the Speaker apparently believed what he was saying. Which is a shame, because this doesn't make any sense.