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The U.S. Capitol is shown on the morning of June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC.

House GOP's anti-Obama lawsuit gets a price tag

08/26/14 08:00AM

It's been about a month since House Republicans voted to move forward with an odd lawsuit against President Obama, and yesterday, the election-year stunt got a price tag.
D.C. law firm BakerHostetler will handle the House Republicans' lawsuit against President Barack Obama.
House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., said the firm has been contracted to represent the House in the district court civil suit. According to the contract, the lawsuit will cost the House up to $350,000, billed at a rate of $500/hour.
In a statement, Miller, who signed the contract with the powerful Beltway law firm, said the $350,000 in taxpayer money is a "cap," which "will not be raised."
What happens if the lawsuit drags on for years and the $350,000 is exhausted? Your guess is as good as mine.
It's worth noting that the choice of BakerHostetler to represent House Republicans -- and by extension, us, since we're paying for this exercise -- is probably not an accident. One of the most prominent attorneys touting the anti-Obama lawsuit has been David Rivkin, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations. Rivkin is a partner at BakerHostetler, and the contract stipulates that Rivkin will personally tackle a "substantial portion" of the litigation.
One gets the sense GOP officials on Capitol Hill saw Rivkin's July op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and said, "Hey, we should hire that guy!"
Regardless, the larger question is whether this stunt is worth $350,000 of our money.

Syria surveillance and other headlines

08/26/14 07:56AM

U.S. surveillance planes fly over Syria. (AP)

Voters in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Vermont head to the polls today. (AP)

Civil rights leaders push Obama for mandatory racial bias training. (The Hill)

Lawyers ask Ferguson mayor to grant amnesty for nonviolent warrants, fines. (Riverfront Times)

Handcuffed black youth shot himself to death, says coroner. (NBC News)

Journalists, ACLU file federal lawsuit over botched Oklahoma execution. (The Oklahoman)

House Republicans plan to spend up to $350,000 on Obama lawsuit. (Washington Post)

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Washington struggles on ISIS policy

Washington struggles on ISIS policy

08/25/14 11:09PM

Jonathan S. Landay, national security and intelligence reporter with McClatchy Newspapers, talks with Rachel Maddow about the struggle in Washington to craft a policy for dealing with ISIS extremists based in Syria. watch

McDonnell marriage becomes focus of trial

McDonnell marriage becomes focus of trial

08/25/14 11:05PM

Matt Zapotosky, reporter for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and the prosecution's attempt to refute McDonnell's claims about his marriage failing. watch

Ahead on the 8/25/14 Maddow show

08/25/14 08:12PM

Today's guests:

  • Jonathan S. Landay, a national security and intelligence reporter, McClatchy Newspapers
  • Matt Zapotosky, reporter, Washington Post, covering the Bob McDonnell trial from the courtroom

And here's Cory Gnazzo with a preview of what everyone's working to get on the air tonight:

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Monday's Mini-Report, 8.25.14

08/25/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
* Peter Theo Curtis: "Held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, an American freelance writer was unexpectedly freed on Sunday, following extensive mediation by Qatar, the tiny Gulf emirate and United States ally that has successfully negotiated the release of numerous Western hostages in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransoms."
* Earthquake: "Residents of Napa, Vallejo and other places hit hard by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake took stock of the damage and cleaned up Monday as many schools remained closed and some of the more than 200 people who were injured recovered in hospitals."
* Baghdad: "Iraq's prime minister-designate called Monday on the country's numerous Shiite militias and tribes to come under government control and stop acting independently, as violence killed at least 58 people in areas where the Muslim sect dominates."
* Libya: "An alliance of Islamist militias said it wrested control of Tripoli's international airport from a rival force after weeks of fighting that triggered an exodus of foreigners and threatened to plunge Libya deeper into chaos."
* And speaking of Libya, this is a surprise: "Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam."
* Ukraine: "Russia hopes to send a second convoy of humanitarian aid to east Ukraine sometime this week, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said on Monday, just days after the border crossing of the first convoy drew international condemnation."
* Gen. Martin Dempsey in Kabul: "The Pentagon has developed plans that would allow American forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year if the contested presidential election drags on and a security agreement isn't signed soon, the top U.S. military officer said Monday."
* Fort Lee shooting: "An all clear was given by Fort Lee officials after an "active shooter incident" was reported at the U.S. Army base in Virginia early Monday morning. U.S. military and law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News that the shooting incident was an apparent suicide."
* No one seems to know how this happened: "A 55-gallon drum of nuclear waste, buried in a salt shaft 2,150 feet under the New Mexico desert, violently erupted late on Feb. 14 and spewed mounds of radioactive white foam. The flowing mass, looking like whipped cream but laced with plutonium, went airborne, traveled up a ventilation duct to the surface and delivered low-level radiation doses to 21 workers."
* French shake-up: "France was thrown into fresh crisis on Monday as President Francois Hollande told his prime minister to form a new government after damaging splits within the ruling Socialist party burst into the open."
Protestors autograph a sketch of Michael Brown during a protest, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Atlanta.

Parsing the meaning of the word 'arms'

08/25/14 04:54PM

Since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, there's been all kinds of political commentary, some of it profound, some of it heartbreaking, and some of it just kind of dumb. Joan Walsh today flagged some analysis that, I have to confess, I never saw coming.
Fox has peddled every allegation of wrongdoing by Mike Brown from the beginning of the story. On Fox and Friends Monday morning, Linda Chavez argued that the media should stop calling the teenager "unarmed" because "we're talking about an 18-year-old man who is 6-foot-4 and weighs almost 300 pounds, who is videotaped just moments before the confrontation with a police officer strong-arming an employee and robbing a convenience store."
So Mike Brown can't be considered unarmed because ... he had arms?
Oh good, we've reached the point of the national conversation at which the right wants to parse the meaning of the word "arms."
Senate Armed Service Committee ranking member Sen. James Inhofe talks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol February 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The GOP line on Syria evolves

08/25/14 04:26PM

Just 10 days ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) complained that President Obama and his national security team aren't talking enough about ISIS.
Just five days ago, Bill Kristol complained that President Obama and his national security team are talking about ISIS, but the rhetoric isn't satisfactory.
And today, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) complained that President Obama and his national security team are talking about ISIS, and the rhetoric is satisfactory, but it's still not good enough.
"Until President Obama articulates and implements a comprehensive strategy against ISIS across Iraq and Syria, we will continue to see more savage executions, more killing of religious minorities, more humanitarian disasters like Mount Sinjar, and more enslavement and abuse of women and girls," Inhofe said on Saturday. "Obama talks a big game but his actions tell a different story."
Inhofe, by the way, is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The far-right senator went on to complain about "the president's inaction" and "Obama's failure to acknowledge the reality of the threat."
It's times like these when I wonder if Republicans are watching the same world events as everyone else.