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Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 19, 2014.

House GOP leader leaves presidential impeachment on the table

07/28/14 08:00AM

House Republicans recently had to elect new leaders, and rank-and-file conservatives insisted that at least one far-right Tea Partier join the team. They succeeded: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a fan of debt-ceiling crises and a lawmaker who believes President Obama may be trying to create a "dictatorship," was chosen as the new House Majority Whip.
 
Yesterday was something of a coming-out party for the Louisiana Republican: Scalise sat down with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," his first Sunday show appearance of this Congress. It didn't go especially well. As Adam Serwer noted, the congressman, recently chosen as the third-ranking GOP official in the House, refused to take presidential impeachment off the table.
Wallace: Will you consider impeaching the president?
 
Scalise: This might be the first White House in history that's trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the president follow the laws. But the president took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land, and he's not. In fact, the Supreme Court, unanimously, more than 12 times, unanimously said, the president overreached, and actually did things he doesn't have the authority to do.
First, that's not even close to what the Supreme Court said, and the fact that a member of the House Republican leadership team would repeat such nonsense on national television -- in response to a question he was no doubt prepared for -- is alarming.
 
Second, and perhaps more important, was the fact that Scalise didn't answer the question. To his credit, Wallace followed up, asking, "So if he overreaches again on executive action to defer more deportations, what will the House do?" Again, the new House Republican leader dodged. So Wallace asked again whether or not impeachment is "off the table."
 
Scalise responded, "The White House wants to talk about impeachment and ironically they're going out and trying to fundraise off that, too." Once more, the host said, "I'm asking you, sir." The GOP lawmaker again refused to answer, saying, "The White House will do anything they can to change the topic away from the president's failed agenda."
 
Of course, Congress won't approve the president's agenda, making the criticism rather odd, but even putting that aside, Wallace gave the new House Majority Whip multiple chances to answer a straightforward question. In each instance, Scalise refused.
 
Which is exactly what Democrats wanted to see.

Vets bill deal reached and other headlines

07/28/14 07:52AM

Senate and House negotiators reached a deal on the veterans bill over the weekend. (Washington Post)

In the House's final week before recess, Republicans want to show they can govern. (The Hill)

U.N. Security Council calls for Gaza cease-fire as Eid-al-Fitr begins. (Reuters)

U.S. says images show direct Russian role in Ukraine fighting. (Wall Street Journal)

The trial of fmr. VA Gov. Bob McDonnell begins today. (Richmond Times Dispatch) And his former AG, Ken Cuccinelli, may be called as a witness for the defense. (AP)

New York Times editorial board comes out in favor of legal pot. (NY Times)

Two Americans stricken with deadly Ebola virus in Liberia. (NBC News)

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This Week in God, 7.26.14

07/26/14 09:24AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of New Orleans, where opponents of abortion rights decided to hold an impromptu protest in an unusual place: inside a church, during church services, while the congregation was in the middle of a moment of silence.
Flip Benham's group Operation Save America disrupted the services of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans on Sunday while the congregation was honoring a member who had died. The organization framed their action as simply an effort to "present the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan" as part of their efforts "to defeat the culture of death."
Apparently, hundreds of activists who oppose abortion rights gathered in New Orleans this week to hold a series of protests, but Operation Save America members took it upon themselves to interrupt this church's worship service, telling members of the congregation they don't have the "true faith," presumably because Unitarian Universalist churches are pro-choice.
 
Operation Save America's name may not sound familiar, so it's worth noting the group used to be called Operation Rescue National, an organization that developed a reputation for extremist, sometimes violent, activism.
 
In this case, members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, no longer able to hold a moment of silence to honor a congregant who recently died, sang while the anti-abortion activists disrupted their services.
 
The Rev. Deanna Vandiver, the UU speaker during Sunday's service, later argued, "No one should invade the sanctuary of another’s faith to terrorize people as they worship."
 
It would appear Operation Save America disagrees.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:

Cocktail Moment: The Prescription Julep

07/26/14 01:21AM

Adapted from the Rachel Maddow Show transcript

Other than not containing any bourbon, the Prescription Julep is pretty similar to a regular Mint Julep.

Start with the sugar. You can use simple syrup where the sugar and water are already combined into a syrup, but for this drink, I like to just use a teaspoon of granular sugar and then add the water right in the glass - an ounce of water. Use more sugar if that's your taste. It doesn't need to be perfectly dissolved but you want that to dissolve at least a little bit.

Then you need good fresh mint - a half dozen leaves or so. Don't use the whole sprig because the stalk of the mint isn't the flavor or the texture that you want.

Smoosh it around a little bit. You don't need to go crazy with the muddling. Just use the back of your bar spoon. Get the mint, the sugar, and the water incorporated with each other.

Add 1½ ounce of cognac or brandy. The better the liquor the better the drink!

Add a ½ ounce of delicious rye whiskey.

Add as much ice as you can to the drink. A proper julep would have ice that was crushed so finely that it was basically turned into powder, but plain old crushed ice also serves. 

Stir it up. Stir it for as long as you can stand to without drinking this thing.

Add a sprig of mint as a garnish.

As juleps go, this is bogus but it works and it is delicious!

Video after the jump.

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Worst... Congress... Ever...

Will do-nothing Congress do nothing on VA?

07/25/14 11:02PM

Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether this Congress, arguably the worst Congress ever, has the ability to pass a badly-needed bill addressing the needs of veterans and the V.A. watch

House asserts role on troops to Iraq

House asserts role on troops to Iraq

07/25/14 10:57PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the passage of a bill in the House insisting that President Obama seek permission from Congress before sending more troops to Iraq beyond the 60-day limit, which will expire while Congress is away on recess. watch

Ahead on the 7/25/14 Maddow show

07/25/14 08:04PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has been working with House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, Florida congressman Jeff Miller, to hammer out a compromise V.A. reform bill
  • Jen Moreno, staff attorney for the Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic

And here's senior producer Cory Gnazzo with tonight's preview:

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Friday's Mini-Report, 7.25.14

07/25/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* A pause? "Israel has offered to halt fighting for 12 hours in Gaza, a senior U.S. official said Friday. The pause in fighting would begin at 7 a.m. Saturday (12 a.m. ET), the official said. It was not immediately clear whether Hamas would also cease hostilities. Word of the offer came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said talks aimed at a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip were bogged down in disagreement over 'some terminology.'"
 
* "Day of Rage": "Violence spread to the West Bank on Friday as enraged Palestinians protested Israel's continuing military offensive in Gaza. At least five Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, according to Palestinian medical officials and local news reports, adding to the explosive atmosphere in the region and raising the specter of further unrest."
 
* Ukraine: "Russia has stepped up its direct involvement in fighting between the Ukranian military and separatist insurgents, unleashing artillery attacks from Russian territory and massing heavy weapons along the border, Ukrainian and American officials say."
 
* Border crisis: "President Obama said Friday that migrant children who cross the border and do not have 'proper claims' will be sent back to their home countries."
 
* More on this on tonight's show: "The House on Friday passed a resolution requiring authorization from Congress for a sustained presence of combat troops in Iraq."
 
* Heartbreaking: "The doctor leading Sierra Leone's fight against the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has contracted the virus himself, government officials said. Sheik Umar Khan, 39, was on the front lines of battling the disease that has so far claimed 632 lives in three West African states, according to the World Health Organization. He is credited with treating more than 100 victims. And now he is one himself."
 
* Occasionally, Republicans can be shamed into talking: "Key lawmakers are back at work on a possible deal to reform the Veterans Affairs Department, just one day after the talks appeared to break down."
 
* Maybe the FAA's decision wasn't the result of a partisan conspiracy: "An Air Canada flight was forced to circle Tel Aviv, after rockets were fired at Ben Gurion International Airport on Friday, The Toronto Star reports."
 
* Someone should let Darrell Issa know: "The federal watchdog tasked with enforcing the Hatch Act has cleared the White House's political affairs office of any wrongdoing in violation of the 20th century law that bars political activity by executive branch employees."
 
* When the right screws up U.S. diplomacy for no reason: "Sen. Ted Cruz will still hold all State Department nominations despite the fact that it could further delay the U.S. posting an ambassador to Russia, his office said on Friday."
 
* Dear conservatives, if your entire argument for taking health care benefits away from millions is an example of Jonathan Gruber making a mistake, then you've already lost.

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