'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
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Guests: Ron Paul, Bob Barker, Elizabeth Warren, David Wilson
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Oh, there‘s going to be so much of that ahead.
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: I would guess. Yes.
MADDOW: You just started it rolling. Thank you, Keith. Appreciate it.
Thank you—thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. It is kind of an amazing show.
Congressman Ron Paul will be here to talk about the Republican Party and the tea party movement.
Bob Barker will be here to talk about the whaling dispute on the high seas that, sort of, involves him.
Elizabeth Warren will be here to talk about the Republican Party fighting against the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
David Wilson will be here to explain how the word “Negro” has wound up on U.S. Census forms this year.
And we have a segment that starts with Michael Steele and ends with a laugh track, OK?
OK. It‘s all coming up this hour.
But we begin tonight with mass common wisdom beltway hysteria. The Tuesday night massacre, the 2010 bloodbath, Democratic politicians dropping like flies! You saw all these headlines today, right?
Today, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut joined Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado in announcing that he would not run for re-election after this term. What followed was the kind of exclamation point, all caps, out of breath, journalistic hyperventilation that often follows three similar news stories breaking at the same time. Dorgan‘s retiring, Dodd‘s retiring, Ritter‘s retiring. Ergo, the Democratic Party must be folding, it‘s over.
While it is very exciting to have these three retirements announced at once and it is very exciting to pretend horrible things for the president‘s political party, it should reasonably be noted that Chris Dodd dropping out in Connecticut actually makes it more likely that Democrats will hold on to that seat, rather than less. Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal jumped into that race today and he‘s pulling way ahead, as in 30 points ahead, of potential Republican rivals.
So, despite all the doom for Democrats headlines today, in the case of Chris Dodd, his retirement is probably a political advantage for Democrats.
On the Byron Dorgan retirement in North Dakota, Dorgan‘s re-election was considered probable, but no sure thing. Senator Dorgan dropping out does make it harder for Democrats to imagine holding on to that seat. So, in the case of the Byron Dorgan retirement, it‘s true—advantage, Republicans.
In Colorado, Democratic Governor Bill Ritter was also facing a tough
re-election fight. Him bowing out means Republicans certainly do have a
shot there. But it also opens the door for a stronger Democratic candidate for Colorado governor. Democrats have a deep bench with lots of good candidates in that state, any one of whom might have a better chance of keeping that seat Democratic than the incumbent governor. So, in Colorado, the political advantage here—it‘s kind of a push, could go either way.
So that gives us, in the big picture, advantage, Democrats, advantage, Republicans, and a push. Wow, what a massacre.
The beltway common wisdom reaction to today‘s retirement on the Democratic side was very, very, very exciting. But that doesn‘t mean that it made any factual sense.
In the big, big picture, today‘s announcements make a grand total of two Senate Democrats retiring at the end of their terms. Compare that to six Republican incumbent senators not seeking re-election. In the House, it‘s 10 Democrats stepping down and 14 Republicans.
Among governors who could run again, it‘s three Democrats retiring versus four Republicans—five, if you include Sarah Palin, who already quit.
Big picture, who is retiring a year before a midterm election is a rather dubious value in predicting the outcome of that election. But even if you are sold on this particular thing as an important predictor, frankly, factually speaking, things look better for Democrats than they do for Republicans.
I mean, if we‘re going to get really, really excited and chase our tails about things happening in threes, consider the Republican Party‘s last 48 hours.
In Florida, the chairman of the Republican Party resigned in dramatic fashion yesterday, the result of a schism among Florida Republicans over the Senate race there. On one side of the schism is moderate and popular governor, Charlie Crist. On the other is the popular tea party favorite, Marco Rubio.
Upon resigning yesterday, the outgoing party chair minced no words about what he thinks the tea party schism is doing to the Republican Party. He said, quote, “A small but vocal group within our party has made it a point to destroy our progress and negatively impact our opportunity for victory in 2010. While some are more interested in tearing and shredding the fabric of the Republican Party to pieces, I will not be a participant in this destructive behavior.”
Perhaps hoping to contain that fire to the Sunshine State, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele has been attempting to play peacemaker in this burgeoning civil war, extending yet another olive branch to the tea partiers this morning on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: The tea party movement is a revelatory moment for us. It really puts in stark relief where the American people are, how they feel, and what they feel. And I think it‘s important for our party to appreciate and understand that so we can move towards it, embrace it, and move into the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they‘re not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, tea partiers, we‘re all pulling in the same direction—except that they‘re really not. And the tea partiers want that to be known.
“The Washington Times” reporting today, on the founder of TeaParty.org threatening Michael Steele and the Republican Party, saying, quote, “We are turning our guns on anyone who doesn‘t support constitutional conservative candidates. It‘s not going to be good for them. If they don‘t get that and their party chairmen don‘t get that, they are going to be ostracized.”
It should be noted that the guy making that threat, the head of TeaParty.org, one of the founders of the tea party movement, is this guy, Dale Robertson. Take that in for a second. Yes, that is the “N” word, and yes, it‘s misspelled.
You know, it‘s usually ad hominem attack when you call someone an illiterate racist. But in this case, when the guy is both using and misspelling the “N” word, I think it‘s fair to say, just descriptively, without comment—you, sir, are an illiterate race. You are also the founder of TeaParty.org.
So we have the Florida Republican Party factionalizing. We have the illiterate racist-led TeaParty.org declaring war on the Republican Party. And then there‘s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, whose daily schedule now consists of waking up, eating breakfast, and then get censured by his own state party.
After already getting censured by the Charleston County Republican Party back in November, Mr. Graham has now been censured officially by the Lexington County Republican Party this week. They voted to censure Mr. Graham for his work on cap and trade legislation. The official resolution reads in part, “U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has repeatedly demonstrated contempt and belligerence towards those members of the Republican Party who support freedom, a constitutional government, and the Republican Party platform.”
For his part, Lindsey Graham is not taking this censure sitting down. He knows who‘s responsible, saying, quote, “You have these Ron Paul guys show up and try to take over the party. They are not reflective of the Republican Party. And I hope this serves as a wake-up call to Republicans that they need to get involved.”
Mr. Graham there is referring to the author of the censure resolution against him in Lexington County, a man named Talbert Black, who is the interim South Carolina state director for Ron Paul‘s Campaign for Liberty.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
Congressman Paul, thanks very much for coming back on the show. It‘s nice to see you.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), FINANCIAL SERVICES CMTE.: Thank you, Rachel.
Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: I have to ask your reaction to Senator Lindsey Graham saying, Ron Paul guys, he said, are not reflective of the Republican Party. What do you think?
PAUL: Well, in a way, that might be good. You know, the Republican Party isn‘t exactly the top party in the country right now. But I think Lindsey is giving me way too much credit. But if he wants to give me a lot of credit that I now control the Republican Party of South Carolina, I consider that rather amazing.
But—and I don‘t think you can talk about the tea party as a party. It‘s made up of a lot of different people. And I don‘t even see them as being Republicans. I think they‘re unhappy. They‘re unhappy with the establishment party. And that‘s made up of the Republicans and the Democrats.
I mean, think of the factions in the Democratic Party—you know, the base of the Democratic Party that would have liked to seen a change in foreign policy in less war and not expanding war in Afghanistan, they‘re disgruntled. Some anti-war people do come to some of the tea parties, at least the tea party types that I have, you know, the original tea party was held in the campaign. We had a lot of anti-war people there.
So in many ways, the people are speaking out. They‘re very, very angry and upset, and they‘re upset with the establishment. They‘re upset with the Republicans and the Democrats. But I think this is a natural consequence of the insolvency of the country. That‘s really the basic problem.
The politicians are used to promising and just passing out favors, taking care of the military industrial complex, or any domestic need at home and not have to live up to the responsibility of paying for it. And it‘s coming to an end.
So, we‘re facing a bankruptcy, and that‘s why, I think, you‘re seeing this anger and the hostility and this fighting and bickering. But I do not think the real fight is between Republicans and Democrats. I see the establishment Republican and the establishment Democrat as being won because foreign policies don‘t differ, and the monetary policy doesn‘t differ.
And Republicans, you put them in office to balance the budget and promote personal liberty, and they don‘t do any of that. You put the Democrats in to protect civil liberties and wind down the war and not have any secret rendition. Things don‘t change. And the American people are just catching on.
MADDOW: Congressman Paul, I think that you‘re right that there is a bit of an insurgency happening on both sides, but it seems to be manifesting differently in the two parties. The base seems unhappy and a lot of people unaffiliated with either party seem unhappy with both parties right now. But on the Republican side, that‘s translating into censures at the county party level for sitting senators. It‘s translating into primary fights in places like Florida, Upstate New York, and other places.
As somebody who‘s run for president both as a libertarian and as a Republican, do you think the fights within the right, right now, are a danger to the Republican Party‘s future strength? Or do you think it‘s ultimately going to make the Republican Party stronger?
PAUL: It all depends. I think in some areas, with the right candidates, it will help. But quite frankly, I don‘t think about strength of parties. I don‘t worry about strength or the weakness of the Democratic Party. I don‘t think about the strength or weakness of the Republican Party.
All I think about is trying to get people to accept certain ideas and these ideas permeate both parties.
You know, we had a Keynesian revolution in economics, and everybody‘s a Keynesian. We had—we had Woodrow Wilson make the world safe for democracy. He was the first neocon. We‘ve been leaving with that. So, that‘s the only thing that counts.
This fighting—I‘m sorry I can‘t enter into this really fight, the partisan fights. But really, the fight is more philosophic and I think this is a distraction. And sometimes I think it‘s deliberate, because, you know, when these racists come up, oh, Obama versus McCain, a big difference, and they both run off and they both for the bailout, Bush‘s bailout.
So, the people—and people are catching on to this. So as frustrated as you might get or think how poorly the tea party people act, they get frustrated. They act out and sometimes they act too angrily, and it doesn‘t come off well.
And the answer to your question is, if they keep doing that—yes, it may not necessarily build the party. But the important thing is we change the ideas in this country, that we have sound money, balanced budget, live within our means, take care of ourselves and protect civil liberties. If we don‘t think that way and we narrow it down to, you know, this contest between one candidate against the other one and not really see any changes because the party leaderships are all supporting the same issue, this country will continue down the road of bankruptcy and then the big revolution will come.
I mean, when a dollar crisis comes because we can‘t afford this, then we will have major social and political changes and we‘re on the verge of this. Within several years, I can conceive of this coming, and we ought to be aware of this and this partisan bickering about candidates versus one versus the other, I think that‘s a sideshow.
MADDOW: In terms of people who have legitimate, I think, grassroots, ideological-driven followings on the American right, very broadly defined, I really think that it‘s you and I think that it‘s Dick Cheney. And the former vice president, Dick Cheney, has really made a name for himself, being declared conservative of the year by one publication at the end of the year, on national security foreign policy issues, and on issues of war making.
You, obviously, have been a leader on issues of fiscal policy, have really brought a lot of your party‘s leadership and your rank-and-file around on fiscal issues. Do you think there is a coming battle between fiscal conservatism and the sort of foreign policy perspective that Dick Cheney represents in terms of what the future is going to be of the Republican Party, the conservative movement, which direction things are going to go? Are you guys at loggerheads?
PAUL: Oh, I think so, not personally, because I never have a discussion with him. But I go to the campuses. I think all revolution, all significant changes occur with young people. And I go to the campuses, liberal or conservative, I can get large crowds out and the foreign policy issue is the very big issue.
The money issue is very important, big issue. And that‘s a populist type issue. Because if you‘re for the Federal Reserve and all those shenanigans, you‘re for big banks and big business and military industrial complex, and the deficit, but the young people aren‘t for these things. They want personal liberty, they want to change foreign policy, and they want to look into the Fed‘s secrecy.
And if the Republicans don‘t catch on to that, they can‘t build their party. And they‘re not interested—I mean, Lindsey Graham, I have got to give him credit. He‘s rather typical of most Republican establishment.
They don‘t want to have any part of what I‘m doing—because they don‘t want to answer to that, because they don‘t want to have to go to the campuses and, you know, explain why we have to have more kids go overseas or why we might need a draft and why military spending is OK, but spending money on child health care, that‘s bad and we have to stop that.
The kids see this. And young people and they‘re inheriting this mess. And that‘s where I get excited and enthusiastic when I got to the campuses, because believe me, the young people are responding very favorably to this message.
MADDOW: Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, consistently one of
the most intriguing and interesting and unique people in American politics
it‘s always a pleasure to talk with you, sir. Thanks for your time.
PAUL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In his new book, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele outlines a 12-step program for giving up President Obama and his policies, because, you know, Americans are addicted to socialism—can‘t walk past a farm without trying to make it into a collective. Up next, we will shorten the idea. Not 12 steps but a one-step recovery program for a very specific political problem a number of politicians have had on television recently. That‘s coming up.
And later, on the interview, it‘s Bob Barker, and Bob Barker‘s connection to a real-life international news story. The stars have aligned, Bob Barker, the one and only. I have been pinching myself all day.
MADDOW: Just ahead on the interview, Bob Barker, the Bob Barker, host of “The Price is Right” for 35 years, will be our guest. It took an international incident involving whaling boats to get him on the show, but we got it. Bob Barker right here in just a few minutes.
I‘ve been wearing this all day.
MADDOW: Just ahead, Bob Barker and high seas boat battles on tape.
And Bob Barker! I know.
But first, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele has told our booking producer on this show that he would love to do an interview with me, which is great. I would love to interview Michael Steele. The other folks at the RNC who decide what interviews Mr. Steele actually does, however, seem rather less certain that it will ever happen.
So, Mr. Chairman, between you and me, the invitation is open anytime.
Don‘t let your handlers hold you back. We‘d love to have you.
The reason you‘ve seen a lot of Michael Steele on TV recently is because he‘s promoting a new book, which is called “Right Now.” Its subtitle is more interesting. The subtitle is, “A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” Twelve steps, just like A.A.
The first and second steps, according to Mr. Steele, are that Republicans should “admit we have a problem, then admit our mistakes.”
In the spirit of trying to help Mr. Steele out so maybe some day he‘d come on this show, we have decided to try to help Republicans out with steps one and two. We have identified a problem that we‘d like to help Republicans admit to, because it is a political mistake.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has encouraged Republicans to believe that President Obama and his administration don‘t talk about war and terrorism. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, even Chairman “Admit Our Mistakes” Michael Steele have also been out in public reiterating that, insisting that it‘s true—even though it‘s really not.
Congressman Peter King of New York has even taken this assertion to, as Mr. Steele would say, “beyond the cutting edge.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Name one other specific recommendation the president could implement right now to fix this?
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: I think one main thing would be to, just himself, to use the word “terrorism” more often.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just use the word more. Because saying something a lot stops it?
Regardless of whether it makes sense that saying the word “terrorism” would magically stop terrorism, consider that it‘s not at all true that President Obama avoids using the term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Suspected terrorists—
terrorist watch listing system—terrorists or suspected terrorist—
connections—state sponsors of terrorism—terrorist watch list system -
attempted terrorist attack—attempted act of terrorism—known and suspected terrorists—terror and extremist—extremists sowing terror—instability and terror—terrorists and potential terrorist attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: OK. Because people, like Congressman Peter King, have been able to get away with claiming that President Obama never says words like “terror” and “terrorism,” which is a lie, people including Peter King are getting boldly, weirdly specific about that lie now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING (via telephone): I remember Secretary Clinton saying that the policy of the administration was not to talk about terrorism. Even when the president gave his speech at West Point, about the troops going to Afghanistan, he didn‘t use the word “terrorism.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Congressman King says those things, he is lying. He is
lying in a way that can be obviously, demonstrably, embarrassingly proven
by anyone who has a spare 45 seconds and the Google.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KING (via telephone): I remember Secretary Clinton saying that the policy of the administration was not to talk about terrorism. Even when the president gave his speech at West Point, about the troops going to Afghanistan, he didn‘t use the word “terrorism.”
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a terrorist syndicate with al Qaeda at the head—continuing threat of terrorist actions—stop terrorism—terrorists on the plane coming into Detroit.
OBAMA: Al Qaeda‘s terrorist network—Iraq and terrorism—new acts of terror—loose nuclear materials from terrorists—safe haven for terrorists—devastating attacks of terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: When the people in the Republican Party who have the highest profile on national security say things that are easily, provably, flagrantly false, that‘s a mistake. That makes it look like the party doesn‘t know what it‘s talking about on national security issues.
Peter King wants to be a senator. Peter King is their top guy on homeland security.
So, in the interest of trying to help Republicans out, and to woo Mr. Steele to do an interview on this show, here‘s my one-step effort to try to help Republicans recognize this political mistake they keep making.
You guys, when you say that President Obama doesn‘t use the word “terrorism,” try to remember that when you say that, people are laughing at you. Maybe this will help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEELE: The inconsistency in the Obama administration‘s approach to foreign policy, particularly with respect to terrorism, is a concern. If you can‘t call a thing what it is, then there‘s a question about what do you think it is?
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: The worldwide terrorist war is something we seem to have lost our focus on.
KING: There seems to be a little reticence on their part to get into it when it involves the issue of terrorism.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: The Obama administration came in and said, “We‘re not going to use the word “terrorism” anymore, we‘re going to call it manmade disasters,” trying to, you know, I think, downplay the threat from terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Seriously, listen to your chairman. Admit you have a problem. Admit your mistakes. Or at least come up with a new mistake.
MADDOW: Even though hunting whales has been basically illegal for about 25 years, a few countries still do it. Japan is one of those countries. They hunt hundreds of whales a year for what they call research, but then they sell the meat.
Anti-whaling activists every year try to stop them, sometimes directly. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society called the Japanese whaling fleet poachers and they have aggressively confronted them on the open seas.
Today, in the frigid southern ocean off the shores of Antarctica, one of the three Sea Shepherd vessels trailing the Japanese whalers was sunk in very dramatic fashion. The Ady Gil was a speedboat made of carbon fiber and Kevlar. It‘s painted with radar-resistant black paint. It looks a little bit like Batman‘s boat circa 1966.
And as you can see in this footage, the much larger Japanese vessel hit the Ady Gil. They ripped eight feet of its bow right off.
Each side is blaming the other. The anti-whaling activists accusing the Japanese boat of deliberately ramming the Ady Gil and the Japanese whalers are saying it was an accident. That they couldn‘t stop in time after the activists got too close while harassing them.
No one was injured in crash, which may be due in large part to the “Bob Barker” coming to their rescue. Not the Bob Barker, who will join us in a moment, but a boat called “The Bob Barker,” another boat that‘s operated by Sea Shepherd, that they just named for the former host of “The Price is Right.”
Bob Barker, the man, donated $5 million to the anti-whaling activists. They thanked him by naming this 1,200-ton ship after him. It‘s a former whaling ship itself. It can cut through ice and has the ability to stay out for three months at a time without refueling.
This was “The Bob Barker‘s” first confrontation with whalers. It had to stop chasing the Japanese fleet to rescue the crew from the wrecked trimaran. But plans are that “The Bob Barker,” the boat, will stay out on the open seas chasing that Japanese fleet.
It will soon be joined by the “Sea Shepherd‘s” flagship which is called “The Steve Irwin,” named after - yes, you get the picture.
Joining us for the interview - I‘m so excited - is Bob Barker, the namesake of the anti-whaling ship, legendary television game show host. Mr. Barker, it‘s such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us.
BOB BARKER, FORMER HOST, “THE PRICE IS RIGHT”: Thank you. Thank you very having me, Rachel. It‘s a pleasure to be with you.
MADDOW: What is it about the fight over whaling that sparked your interest?
BARKER: Well, my interest is sparked by all animals. I work on all sorts of projects. And this one was brought to my attention by Nancy Burnett of the United Activist for Animal Rights. She‘s been a long-time admirer of Sea Shepherd and had talked with me about what fine work they do.
And she finally arranged for me to meet with Paul Watson. And I was so impressed with him. And he said during the conversation that we had that he had said in the past that if he only had $5 million, he could put the Japanese whalers out of business.
And I said, “I believe you.” I said, “I think you have the skills to do it.” And I said, “I have $5 million. Let‘s get it on.” And that‘s what we did.
MADDOW: In terms of the tactics that are used here, I noticed that the New Zealand government responded to this today by calling for calm and restraint on both sides. Do you worry about how physical and dangerous the whale wars have become for the humans involved?
I mean, not just the ramming of the boat today, but the Sea Shepherd activists aiming lasers at the whalers, throwing things on deck. The water cannon we saw today being shot at the activists. Do you worry about that?
BARKER: Well, these things had happened over a period of time, but they have been going out there into the Antarctic for six years now. And they have an unblemished record of never injuring anyone on the Japanese ships and never sustaining injuries.
Now, today, I have been told that one of these - I think there were six of them who went into the water from the ship that was sunk today. And one of them may have cracked ribs. But beyond that, no one‘s been injured. And it has not been this violent.
And particularly, for the Japanese to get so violent, so soon, they have just come head to head out there in the last day or two. And already, they have rammed this one ship - or this one boat. So it does portend problems, perhaps.
MADDOW: Have you spoken to anybody from the organization since today‘s incident? Do you know what they‘re expecting to do next?
BARKER: Well, I haven‘t spoken with them, but I‘ve read E-mails from them. And Paul Watson himself says that if the Japanese think that this is going to discourage him, that they‘re completely wrong. And he said, they have made this a war and he said, “We are not going to retreat.”
And I believe him. He‘s a man of great courage. And these people with him are all volunteers and they, too, have great courage. And I think that they will stick with it. They want to sink the Japanese whaling fleet, economically.
They want to disrupt their harvest of the whales, destroy it, if possible, and put them out of business, bankrupt them. That‘s what they‘re trying to do. And they‘re trying to do it as peacefully as they possibly can.
MADDOW: Mr. Barker, when I was growing up and watching “The Price is Right,” I didn‘t have any pets, to spay or neuter. But hearing you say it at the close of every show, made me think that that was probably a good idea, hypothetically. What started your interest in animal rights issues? Why did you take this on as the cause of your life?
BARKER: Well, I became interested in the animal rights movement about probably 35 to 40 years ago. But I‘d always loved animals and I‘d always had animals. I had pets when I was a small child. And the reason that I did that plug and still do that plug, have your pets spayed or neutered, is because overpopulation of cats and dogs is one of the most tragic problems, so far as animals are concerned, in our country.
There are just too many born for all of them to have homes. And there are people who are spending their time, their efforts, and their money trying to find homes for them. They‘re doomed to failure because the homes don‘t exist. And the obvious and only solution is to have your pets spayed or neutered. So if you have pets now, you do that.
MADDOW: Even just hearing you say it right now, I feel like I‘m nine and I‘m sitting in front of the television watching you say - wait, I‘m going to complete the image. All right. In addition to your activism - see, I‘ve done this.
In addition to your activism with the anti-whaling activists, can I ask you what else you‘re doing now that you‘re retired? You retired 35 years after being on “The Price is Right” and 50 years on television?
BARKER: Well, I wrote a book, “Priceless Memories” and all of the proceeds go to the DJ & T Foundation which subsidizes spay and neuters all over the country. So if you want to contribute - if you want to help try to solve the problem of animal overpopulation, buy “Priceless Memories.”
MADDOW: Bob Barker, thank you so much for your time tonight, sir. I really appreciate the chance to talk with you.
BARKER: Thank you. And thank you for your very complimentary remarks. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: Thanks. OK. I guess I‘m going to take this off. I‘m going to save this for later. All right, there is a word that hasn‘t really been used to describe African-Americans since about the Lyndon Johnson administration. So what is that word doing on U.S. government forms now? U.S. Government forms now, that every American is going to see this year?
How the census bureau went all Mayberry RFD. It‘s coming up.
MADDOW: Still ahead, the census and the N-word, not that N-word, but still an eye-opener. That‘s coming up.
But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. A big controversy tonight over a nomination to the Commerce Department. That‘s right - something going on at the always exciting Commerce Department has at least one social conservative group in a real tizzy.
President Obama nominated this woman, Amanda Simpson, to serve as senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department. She started that gig today. She got this job monitoring - which is monitoring the export of U.S. weapons technology because she‘s worked in that industry for three decades, most recently at Raytheon.
She also has degrees in physics, engineering, and business. She was a Clinton delegate during the 2008 campaign. She once ran for Arizona‘s House of Representatives as a Democrat. She secured the party nomination, but lost in the general election.
In other words, this woman has a resume designed for this job. Amanda Simpson is also transgendered. Cue the panicked press releases from the right in three, two - yes.
A spokesperson for Focus on the Family said, quote, “This appointment of a male-to-female transgendered activist to a high-level Commerce Department position appears to be payback to President Obama‘s far-left base for their political support.”
We contacted Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality today. And she told us that, actually, while President Obama is the first president to appoint transgender people to his administration, Amanda Simpson is not the first.
A transgendered man is already working at the Labor Department. Everybody, panic! The only reason this second appointment got any attention at all from the national media and organizations like focus-on-your-own-darn-family is that the National Center for Transgender Equality put out a press release saying, “Hey, check it out. Our former board member is going to work in D.C. Isn‘t that neat?”
So while Ms. Simpson is not the first openly trans appointee, she‘s also probably not the last. Best of luck to Amanda Simpson in overseeing the whole export of U.S. weapons technology thing. And good luck to the religious right in arguing that a person with three decades of vital, pertinent experience and degrees in physics, engineering, and business isn‘t qualified to do this job.
And follow-up alert, good news for any other transgender people who are ostentatiously qualified for jobs with the federal government. The Obama administration has, quietly and without a ticker tape parade, changed language on the federal jobs Web site to reflect that employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity is not allowed.
The new rule applies only to federal jobs, of course. But since the federal government is the country‘s largest employer, this move will have some real impact. Much to the chagrin of the Family Research Council, who put out a strong statement, condemning the rule change, endorsing discrimination, and saying that they think transgender people should just be changed through magical Family Research Council-approved therapy.
Good luck with that Family Research Council, good luck. I don‘t mean that.
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, the nation‘s single, most understandable person about the financial crisis joins us live in studio next. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: As exciting as it has been this past year and a half or two years to see what the brink of the second Great Depression looked like up close, the administration has been pushing several ideas to help prevent another meltdown in the future. Among these ideas is the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We‘re proposing a new and powerful agency charged with just one job - looking out for ordinary consumers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new agency would regulate credit cards, mortgages, other financial products used every day by American consumers. As the proposal heads to the Senate, after passing the House, Republicans say they will try to block it.
Quoting from the “Huffington Post‘s” Ryan Grimm, “‘From the Republican point of view, the idea of a separate agency is still anathema,‘ said Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah, a senior Republican on the banking the banking committee.”
And independent agency, he said, can go too far in the direction of tight regulation without taking into account the effect of the rules it creates on business and the economy. He says he‘s seen it happen before, quote, “Can you say EPA?”
In other words, Sen. Bennett is against the idea of a Financial Protection Agency, because it could turn out to be just like the Environmental Protection Agency. You know, with the requiring testing by public water systems to make sure the water is safe to drink and getting lead out of gasoline and ending the practice of dumping sewage directly into the ocean.
To be clear, the Republican case against a Consumer Protection Financial Agency is that it might be like the agency that stopped us dumping sewage directly in the ocean. That‘s their argument against it.
Joining us now is Elizabeth Warren, a key advocate of the CFPA. She‘s also a Harvard Law professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP bailout funds. Professor Warren, such a pleasure to have you here. Thank you.
PROFESSOR ELIZABETH WARREN, KEY ADVOCATE FOR THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL
PROTECTION AGENCY: Good to be here.
MADDOW: What do you make of this, “It will be another EPA, and we mean that in a bad way” argument?
WARREN: You know, that really is the approach. And that‘s the notion that regulation automatically means bad. And I don‘t know what to say about it. You know, regulation works. Do we really want to go back to a world, not just with the EPA, but look at the rest of them - the Food and Drug Administration.
I‘d like to know that when I buy antibiotics, it‘s not rat poison and it‘s not baking soda. I‘d like to know when I buy a car, it really will come with brakes and with air bags. I‘d like to know when I buy an infant child seat that on impact, it won‘t collapse and crush the baby.
Regulation helps us be safer. It works. Look, at the margins, can we argue about whether or not the EPA Sen. Bennett thinks it should have been a little weaker. I might think it should be a little bit stronger at the margins. But the notion is, regulation fundamentally works. And that‘s the problem with consumer financial products. There is no basic regulation.
MADDOW: How have consumer financial products like mortgages, like credit cards - how have they ended up being totally unregulated?
WARREN: This is what‘s amazing. They‘ve ended up being totally unregulated because there are seven regulatory agencies, each of which owns a little tiny piece of the pie. And each of which - four of which - compete for business with each other.
Now, how do you compete for business with each other? That is, if you‘ll come and be regulated by me, the OCC says, I‘ll offer the least regulation possible. No, no, says the OTS, I could offer less regulation.
So what we really have are regulators who aren‘t there to regulate on behalf of the public. We have regulators that are there to offer good deals to the banks. That‘s why I think President Obama‘s right when he says we need one, just one, regulator in Washington who watches out for American consumers.
MADDOW: The Republicans offered precisely zero votes for this agency in the House, although it did pass with the Democratic majority. Senators are already lining up against it. Obviously, it looks like there‘s going to be some maybe even unified Republican opposition. Every Democrat will need to be on board. Do you think there‘s a chance it will pass?
WARREN: Well, I think there‘s a chance. Look, it‘s a David and Goliath story of huge proportions. And this is a Goliath who‘s not just big this is a Goliath who‘s very well funded by the financial services industry and has a lot of friends, the kinds of friends that money buys.
And so they wield a lot of influence, but look, this is the moment. This is the financial services industry that brought us to the brink of a depression. They wrote those rules. They‘re the ones who have been in control. When they brought us to this crisis, they‘re also the ones who turned to the American taxpayer and said, “Now, bail me out.”
And now, they are using some of those very same dollars to turn around and lobby Congress to say, “Let us continue to write the rules that brought us to the brink of disaster.” So now ought to be the moment.
MADDOW: You first suggested an agency like this years ago. In terms of what the version of it now - is now that‘s actually on the table, would it - if this - that version of it had been in place five years ago, could it have helped prevent the meltdown?
WARREN: Absolutely. In fact, not just could have - I really am going to stronger in this. It would have prevented a huge part of this crisis. There still could have been some trouble and we would have had some bumps.
But remember, this crisis started one household at a time, one
lousy mortgage that got sold, one family at a time, and then bundled and
re-bundled and sliced and diced and put into the stream of commerce.
And the importance of remembering that is this agency isn‘t just about protecting families, although I think that would be reason enough for it. It‘s ultimately about protecting the whole economy. When we destabilize American families, when we sell them terrible products that explode in their faces, that, in turn, destabilizes the entire economy.
These products that we‘re going to offer these huge, huge profits weren‘t just lousy deals for consumers. They were lousy deals for investors. They were lousy deals for pension funds. They were lousy deals for the entire worldwide economy. We could have headed this off.
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard Law professor, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP Bailout Funds and somebody that I‘m very grateful for in this whole discussion that we‘re having as a country. Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it. OK. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith looks at the impact of the impending retirements announced today in the Democratic Party and we will be right back.
MADDOW: As awesome as the Beatles and get smart and really narrow lapels were, there are things from the ‘60s that went away for good reason. Gone are such relics as cars that flip over because of how they were designed, unbridled nuclear proliferation.
There‘s also been evolution in the words we use, like for instance, words we use to describe various racial and ethnic groups of American people.
On the 2010 census form coming to a mailbox near you in mid-March, there is, however, something of a blast from the past. Question number nine asks what is person one‘s race. Among the choices - white, American Indian or Alaska Native or, the second line there, black, African-American or Negro.
And it‘s not a mistake or an old form. The Census Bureau says having the word Negro on the 2010 census is intentional, that although the bureau believes the term is antiquated, testing revealed that use of the term would outweigh the potential negatives of not using it.
Another spokesman explaining, quote, “Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way. Many still do. Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”
Joining us now is David Wilson. He‘s managing editor and founder of “TheGrio.com,” which is the news outlet that first broke this story. David, it‘s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
DAVID WILSON, MANAGING EDITOR AND FOUNDER, “THEGRIO.COM”: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Negro as a category on the census - do you understand the rationale for why it‘s there?
WILSON: I do not. You know, there are some research that said there are maybe about three percent of African-Americans who identify themselves as Negroes. But you ought to consider the fact that the census is trying to reach out to younger African-Americans and people like myself.
When they see that word on the Census - I mean, for me, it was jarring. So you know, they‘re reaching out through Facebook and Twitter. And they‘re not trying to reach Aunt Esther(ph) through Facebook and Twitter. They‘re trying to reach a younger generation. And I think the impact could be really huge.
MADDOW: You think that it‘s a tradeoff in trying to reach older African-Americans who might identify with this word. It might actually turn younger African-Americans off so much they wouldn‘t turn back in the form?
WILSON: Absolutely. You know, this is not a word that we‘re used to
my generation is used to seeing in an official document.
WILSON: You know, this sort of brings back the memories of Bull Conner, the sort of the, you know, whites and Negro only sort of water fountains. So you know, I think a lot of people in my generation will say, “What are they getting at here? Where are they trying to go.”
MADDOW: “TheGrio” - the mission is to report and discuss news most pertinent to African-Americans. When you wrote on the story today, what did you see in terms of reaction from your readers?
WILSON: There was a mixed - you know, there are people who were shocked. And then, you‘ve got to remember, there are people who are actually older who, you know, still has the term Negro on their birth certificate.
WILSON: So there is a generational divide. But I think that there is more of a benefit to actually excluding the term. And I think that the census bureau is really going to have to answer and really get out in front of this to explain to people before, you know, the census worker knocks on their door that this word is on there, and why they decided to leave it on there for 2010.
MADDOW: When you look at the census historically, I mean, some of the words - they used to use “mulatto,” “octoroon.” Right?
WILSON: Yes. Yes. Quadroon -
MADDOW: There‘s been evolution on this. Are you expecting in 2020 we‘ll be still - I mean, you talk about people still having this on their birth certificates now. In 2020, what do you expect the evolution to have been by then?
WILSON: Well, I hope that it‘s off. Because again, my generation is not used to - and you‘ve got to remember, my generation is - this is the first time that we‘re actually participating in the census.
So, you know, I hope that in 2020, that this word is completely, you know, saved for the history books and not for the census forms.
MADDOW: It will be a different controversy, and hopefully not the same one.
WILSON: Absolutely. I hope not.
MADDOW: David Wilson, managing editor and founder “TheGrio.com,” works just down the hall from me here ...
MADDOW: ... at Rock Center. Great to see you. Thanks, David.
WILSON: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Well, that does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night. Until then, you can E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do actually read our E-mail. Our podcast is at iTunes or at Rachel.MSNBC.com. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. Have a great night.
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