It's tempting to think the 2014 midterms may not matter much. Assuming Republicans keep their House majority, which seems very likely, the legislative process in 2015 and 2016 will probably look an awful lot like the legislative process since 2011 -- congressional inaction. GOP lawmakers will continue to reject compromises and negotiations no matter who controls the upper chamber.
As this line of thought goes, the part that enjoys the Senate majority will have the power to watch the other party filibuster, and little more.
But there's a flaw in these assumptions: if rewarded by voters with their first Senate majority in a decade, Republicans don't intend to use their new-found congressional power to just spin their wheels. Manu Raju reports today that GOP leaders have a very different kind of plan in mind.
Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration's policies or risk a government shutdown.
In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to "move to the center" if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.
In short, it's a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.
McConnell told Politico, "We're going to pass spending bills, and they're going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy. That's something [President Obama] won't like, but that will be done. I guarantee it."
There's no reason to think this is campaign-season bluster. McConnell is more than comfortable making demonstrably false claims about public policy and his partisan rivals, but when it comes to process and legislative strategy, the Kentucky Republican is one of Capitol Hill's most candid officials.
The result, however, is a curious pitch: just 76 days before this year's midterm elections, the Senate's top GOP leader wants the voting public to know that a vote for Republicans is a vote for government shutdowns.
A Texas grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry (R) on two felony counts late Friday, and yesterday, eager to get it over with, the Republican governor went in for booking.
Gov. Rick Perry appeared at a county courthouse Tuesday evening to be booked on felony charges after a grand jury indicted the Republican governor on abuse of power charges.
Reporting to the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas, Perry, who is accused of two counts -- coercion and threatening to veto funding to the state's public integrity unit -- surrendered to authorities and had his mug shot and fingerprints taken.
A state judge set an arraignment date for this Friday, Aug. 22, though the governor will not have to be present for the hearing.
As for the political and legal debate surrounding the charges, I find it heartening, on a principled level, to see so many center-left observers blast the charges as baseless. At least on the surface, it speaks well of progressive voices in general that so many people who find Perry's views abhorrent are nevertheless eager to defend the far-right Texan in this case.
Around 2 a.m. local time, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters that Ferguson had reached a "turning point." There were several dozen arrests last night, but the police did not use tear gas or fire a shot.
And as msnbc's Amanda Sakuma and Zachary Roth reported from the scene, the result was an evening that was less dangerous than the night before.
As midnight arrived on the 10th evening of demonstrations here, a small group of people protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown began throwing plastic bottles in actions eerily similar to what set off confrontations with police the previous night. Peacemakers formed a line around the instigators, and officers called for groups to disperse and for media to return to the staging area. Multiple people were restrained with their arms tied behind their backs and placed in a St. Louis County Police van.
The flurry of activity came on the heels of what seemed to be the first calm night after a series of chaotic run-ins between protesters and police.
Attention has also turned to St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office and calls from many in the community for a special prosecutor in the Brown case, removing local officials from the process. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), citing the need to avoid "legal uncertainty," has rejected those calls and decided to stick with McCulloch's office.
That will not, however, be the only investigation. The Justice Department launched a probe of the Brown shoot last week -- FBI officials have been on the ground, interviewing witnesses -- and there's new reason to believe the federal investigation may be even broader than first believed.
Trymaine Lee, reporter for msnbc.com talks with Rachel Maddow about how better organization by protesters encouraging peace within their ranks, and improved communication among protesters has changed the tone of Tuesday night's protests in Ferguson. watch
"We young, we strong, we marching all night long." - with the occasional "turn down for what?" Shout https://t.co/dNKyYF0pGm
Rachel Maddow recaps the past 24 hours in the events surrounding the police shooting of Michael Brown, including another deadly police shooting, many arrests overnight, but also several peaceful protests. watch
Antonio French, alderman for the City of St. Louis, talks with Rachel Maddow about the deadly police shooting in St. Louis city and what it means when he says the people of St. Louis city are not alone like they are in Ferguson. watch
Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township, talks with Rachel Maddow about the trajectory of protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown and the importance of a public sense of official progress being made on the case. watch
Rachel Maddow criticizes the flight ban over Ferguson for preventing the news media from being able to provide a wide-angle perspective on police and protester activity, particularly as chaos sets in late at night. watch
Rachel Maddow reports on the apparent on-camera murder of American journalist James Foley by the ISIS terrorist organization, and notes other cases of terrorists using public executions as a propaganda tactic. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he will not ask St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from the Michael Brown case to replace him with a special prosecutor as protesters have asked. watch