'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Read the transcript to the Friday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Kent Jones, Ezra Klein, Timothy Noah, Devin Friedman
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening. And welcome to the show.
A lot of people all over the country watched the telethon for Haiti tonight, including our telecast of it here on MSNBC.
We have news from Haiti coming up this hour, including one of the hardest to cover parts of this story—the devastation outside of Port-au-Prince, in Haiti‘s other cities. We‘ll bring you some incredible reporting from NBC‘s Dr. Nancy Snyderman from the coastal city of Jacmel in Haiti.
Plus, more ways for you to lend a hand to the relief effort—that is ahead.
And in politics, President Obama went back into campaign mode today as the Democratic Party seems to be finding its mojo by fixing its sights on Wall Street bankers. The Democratic Party does not seem to be finding its mojo, however, on health reform. They‘re down to—it seems to me—three options, one of which is just quitting and going home. We‘ll bring the other two options they‘ve got left in a moment.
Testimony in the trial of Dr. George Tiller‘s accused killer began today in Kansas. We‘ll talk with a writer who has spoken extensively with that accused killer.
And, paranoia and outrage made up out of whole cloth surrounding the seating of Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown. The whole scandal totally made up.
That‘s all ahead.
But we begin tonight with today‘s dramatic, high energy, rah-rah return of campaign trail Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you. I won‘t stop fighting to make sure there‘s accountability in our financial system.
OBAMA: I‘m not going to stop fighting until we have jobs for everybody.
I‘m not going to stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible. I won‘t stop fighting to give every American a fair shake.
I won‘t stop fighting to open up government. I won‘t stop fighting to cut waste and abuse in Washington.
I want to march forward with you. I want to work with you. I want to fight for you. I hope you‘re willing to stand by me, even during these tough times, because I believe in a brighter future for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the tail end of a week that most Democrats probably rather forget, President Obama not so quietly transitioned back into campaigner mode, hitting the road in Elyria, Ohio, to pick a populist fight with Wall Street and whoever in politics will stand in the way of his economic agenda.
Now, this is not new in terms of policy, but President Obama taking it in this way with this kind of a rally on the road in a very familiar battleground state sort of proof positive that the calendar has flipped to 2010 and Democrats have elections to win. Much of President Obama‘s fire today was directed toward Wall Street, which happens to be, “A,” a very soft target right now, and, “B,” pretty good politics, since it‘s an issue that Republicans are on the very un-populist side of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We‘re having a fight right now because I want to charge Wall Street a modest fee to repay taxpayers in full for saving their skins in a time of need. We want our money back.
OBAMA: We want our money back. And we‘re going to get your money back, every dime—each and every dime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who would be opposed to something like that? Well, after President Obama introduced the idea last week, Republicans slammed it as an Obama tax. A tax that, quote, “will only drain capital from the financial system.” Quote, “How are you going to tax banks and expect them to lend more is frankly lunacy.”
Scott Brown, Mr. Populist, Mr. “I drive a truck” campaigned against President Obama‘s bank fee, the poor banks, poor Wall Street. Thank goodness Republicans, they‘re looking out for them. Otherwise, they might have to pay back the taxpayer money they were given.
This isn‘t hyperbole. Republicans literally have positioned themselves against getting our money back from the banks. They‘re standing up for the poor beleaguered Goldman Sachs of the world against the mean taxpayers. Yet, Republicans are so cocky about their chances in 2010, I‘m not sure they‘ve thought through how this one is really going to sound on the campaign trail this year.
President Obama today pointed out yet another legislative fault line separating Democrats and Republicans quite sharply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So long as I‘m president, I won‘t stop fighting to protect you from the kinds of deceptive practices we‘ve seen from some in the financial sector. That‘s why I‘m fighting for a tough Consumer Financial Protection Agency, to protect you against those hidden overdraft fees that can make a single ATM withdrawal cost 30 bucks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Who would be against a Consumer Financial Protection Agency? I mean, who thinks it‘s cool for an ATM withdrawal to cost you 30 bucks because banks have become fine print rip-off artists? At a time when banks and credit card companies are about as beloved as an alligator in a duck pond, who would want to campaign against something like this? Which costs banks really nothing but it does protect citizens from the infuriating ways that we‘ve all been ripped off by banks.
Meet Republican Senator Mike Johanns. He sits on the Senate Banking Committee. He‘s against it. He—just like his Republican colleagues—he is against the banks and credit card companies no rip-off bill. He calls it a potential power grab over the nation‘s economy.
The top Republican on the House Banking Committee is also against it.
Republicans are positioning themselves on economic issues for 2010 as siding with big business and banks and Wall Street on every major proposal for legislation. And that is the political equivalent of a glass jaw. And the White House today suggested and demonstrated how Democrats could take swings at that glass jaw.
But you don‘t win a campaign in America today just by appealing to your base, just by saying the other guys have it wrong, you have to appeal to independents. And this year‘s flavor of independent, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, leans libertarian.
So, for the prospects of Democrats attracting independents in this year‘s campaign, there is the issue of taking on Wall Street and Dems also have to thank the Supreme Court. Yesterday‘s radical Supreme Court ruling opens up the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on campaigns. It says big business can spend as much money as it wants to trying to defeat one candidate or another.
Individual citizens‘ freedom to effect our democracy, anyone‘s ability to make a difference who isn‘t named Exxon, consider yourself squished under the heel of special interests in the nation‘s most rich and powerful companies. And Republican politicians are all in favor of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: I think the Supreme Court decisions today are a big win for the First Amendment and a step in the right direction. Let the American people decide how much money is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Exxon wants to spend $10 billion. You have the right to spend $10 billion.
Republicans have been rejoicing in this Supreme Court ruling, because it likely means that big business will have an even larger megaphone to defeat their traditional Democratic opponents. And while elected Republicans are psyched about this, I‘m not sure that the libertarian-minded independents, the Republicans thought they had all locked up for this year, are going to be so psyched about this.
For all the small “C” conservatives in America, this is a nightmare ruling. Corporations are not people. I mean, do they have the right to bear arms now, too? Do they get—do they get the right to vote?
No, they‘re business entities, which as aggregators of capital have an unfair advantage over citizens in their ability to buy influence in campaigns. That‘s why corporate politicking was limited before, to preserve individual freedom to make a difference in politics. This is a century of settled law and multiple Supreme Court precedents swept away in this radical decision.
And there is a partisan wash over the reaction to the ruling so far, I think because it was the conservative justices who made this ruling. But if there really is a libertarian based resurgence and small “C” conservative politics in American, and in independent politics in particular, if this rallying cry for personal freedom, individual freedom is for real and not just some Astroturf branding on what‘s really a corporate agenda, like they keep assuring us, then these folks in the streets are not going to be psyched about the power that corporations were just handed in politics, quite literally at the expense of individual freedom—citizens, real people.
This might be great for the business wing of the establishment, right? Of establishment party politics—but this is deadly for everyone else‘s political power. And some principled conservatives are already starting to figure this out.
And yet, elected Republicans are lining up behind it. Republicans are celebrating that it‘s a big win—and that is a huge political opening for President Obama and the Democrats. That is an aces high political royal flush for Democrats if Republicans stay with this corporate agenda and if Obama and Democrats can define themselves as the people who are going to save the country from greedy Wall Street and from the Supreme Court-imposed disaster for individual freedom. That‘s if President Obama can define himself as the guy who‘s against this Supreme Court ruling, if Democrats can define themselves as the one who will fix it.
Can they fix it?
Last night, Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told us that he thinks they can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES CMTE:
Corporations are not natural beings. They only exist by law. That‘s why it was so odd that the court found that they had constitutional right. But what we can do that perfectly statutorily possible and constitutionally, I believe, unassailable, is to impose restrictions as a matter of corporate law on what corporations can do.
They are given special treatment. They have liabilities that are limited. They have all kinds of privileges. We have traditionally-conditioned those privileges on rules.
And I talked today to a couple of my colleagues and when we get back in on—in session, I‘m going to designate a couple of my colleagues on the Financial Services Committee to begin working to prepare a package of legislation that will put some restraint on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I wonder where the Republicans on the committee will be on it when it comes before them.
Joining us now is “The Washington Post‘s” Ezra Klein.
Ezra, thanks very much for joining us on a Friday night. I really appreciate it.
EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: How do you read the political strategy of going hard against the banks like this? We haven‘t seen a change in proposed policies today. But we have seen a real change in tone.
KLEIN: Scott Brown is probably the worst thing to ever happen to health care reform, but the best to happen to financial regulation. What basically happened there, I think, was that Democrats may still want to pass the health care bill but they‘re so compromised on it that they can‘t message on it.
What they can do is sort of take the financial regulation fight which until now was an inside game in Congress. It‘s already passed the House, moving through the Senate. People probably haven‘t heard much about it. And they move on that. They can make that into a real war. That‘s particularly true now if they can‘t—they don‘t sort of the onus of being able to just push it through. Republicans are either going to stand up and help in the Senate or they can block it.
So, at this point, Democrats have an incentive to get the people on their side so the Republicans can‘t actually block it. That creates sort of a different legislative environment for them than they were in a week ago.
MADDOW: Are Democrats going to have a blue dog problem on this anti-Wall Street and this reforming of Wall Street agenda?
KLEIN: Absolutely. One thing about this, the SCOTUS ruling, a lot of blue dogs get a lot of money from these folks. You know, it doesn‘t all go one way. Hedge funds, big Democratic donors. So, there will be that.
But I do think that one thing that might move the blue dogs in the other direction is—the thing about being a blue dog is you‘re generally a very vulnerable Democrat. And one thing people don‘t like right now is the banks. So, right now, in a bad year for Democrats, with Republicans seeming ascendant, whether or not the blue dogs are going to be there on the legislation, my sense is they‘re going to be there at least on the rhetoric.
And, you know, one thing that I think the country needs a little bit more of is, frankly, of choosing sides on this question of financial regulation on Wall Street. Once you get people to choose sides rhetorically, it‘s easier to move them over legislatively, too.
MADDOW: Is it also possible, though, that the Republicans are going to have a schism on their hands here? I mean, this was a striking down, in part, of McCain-Feingold. John McCain put out a very lukewarm statement in response to the ruling saying, “I‘m disappointed.” But it does actually raise this issue, as McConnell and Boehner and all these guys praise this as if it‘s some good ruling, I think as the—the implications of it is starting to dawn on all sorts of people, left, right and center, there‘s John McCain right in the middle of his party, I think wondering which way to go on this.
Is it possible they‘re going to have a split?
KLEIN: Maybe a bit. Olympia Snowe is furious about this ruling, too—from what I saw.
You know, what I think this could do, though, is—you know, there‘s the avenue Barney Frank laid out. But there‘s another way of attacking this ruling, which is that what the Supreme Court is basically saying is you cannot limit the speech of corporations. They‘re people, too, it turns out.
But you can do is go at it a different way. You can amplify the speech of other segments of society. So, one idea that has a lot of currency in sort of campaign finance circles is increase the amount of money that, say, a small donation is worth. So I‘m an individual, I give 200 bucks—say that gets matched to $1,000, making it easier for a congressman or a senator or a president to finance his campaign using individuals.
So, one thing, if you can‘t make the corporations be quiet, you can make the people louder. This may, by sort of clearing out some of this—this old avenue of doing campaign finance reform, refocus attention on it and create sort of a better political environment to move forward in that approach.
MADDOW: And if you liked the billion dollar presidential race last time around, you‘ll love the $20 billion presidential race we‘ll have even under a best-case scenario on these terms.
Let me ask you about what Barney Frank said on this show last night. He suggested that the House Financial Services Committee could look for a legislative fix through corporate law on this. Is it possible that there is one? He seemed pretty confident.
KLEIN: I‘m not a constitutional lawyer. My sense is that there are two issues here. One is that you can‘t undo what the Supreme Court did at its most basic level, right? They‘re interpreting the Constitution. That is their job.
As for what he‘s saying, which is you could do something where you tie the corporate charter, which is either the rules Congress passed is to certain, you know, responsibilities for corporations, that‘s possible. Although when you‘re doing a very fine-tuned intervention like that, my sense is generally that corporations tend to be pretty good at getting around it. Even the McCain/Feingold, that people think there hasn‘t been corporate money in politics. I don‘t know what your politics, I‘ve been watching this, this whole thing where they could do issue ads saying tell “Congressman X” not to kill puppies any longer. They couldn‘t say don‘t vote for Congressman X but their money was there. And everybody knew what they were doing.
So, I do think that there‘s actually an argument to be made that going in sort of—and amplifying the voices of the people direction ends up being more effective than just sort of erecting barriers for corporations who hire lawyers to skirt.
MADDOW: They certainly do have the money to hire good lawyers.
KLEIN: Yes, they do.
MADDOW: Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post”—thanks very much for your time tonight. Ezra, I really appreciate it.
KLEIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: President Obama pivoted today to banks and jobs. But there is still the unresolved matter of health reform. If it doesn‘t get passed, Democrats politically are - and this is a technical term—through, over, vapor.
There are two ways to get health reform done: one is hard and one is easy. We‘ll tell you what they both are—coming up next.
MADDOW: For the Democratic Party, there are three possibilities regarding health reform and they‘re really clear. One of those possibilities is to lose Congress, lose this presidency after one term, and leave town. There are two other better potions—those two coming right up.
MADDOW: Did you hear Chris Dodd‘s genius idea today about health reform? Chris Dodd‘s genius idea about to how to move forward, how to get it done, he said—and I‘m quoting here “Let‘s take a breather for a month, six weeks, because if you give Republicans time, they‘ll come around. They‘ll feel embarrassed not supporting health reform. After six weeks to think about it, Orrin Hatch and Jim DeMint, they‘ll organize a ‘We get it now, let support health reform‘ caucus.”
With all due respect to Senator Dodd, Republicans will never, ever, never, ever, ever, never, never, never, ever support this reform ever, never. Why would they? Slowing it down this long and saying no to it this many times has reduced Democrats to zombies wondering around in circles, perking up only enough to occasionally try to kill each other.
Another genius health reform idea being floated to see who‘ll shoot it down is to break the bill up into smaller easy-to-swallow pieces. Just push through the things we can all agree on, just push through the things that can pass, who can eat a whole pie without slicing it at first, right? Besides me.
New Jersey Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell is reportedly trying to line up House Democrats with his plan to cut the bill into three or four smaller bills with, quote, “ideas we can all agree on while providing tangible benefits to nearly all Americans.”
Things we can all agree on, even the Republicans. You know, they would love to be constructive on health reform. Just give them something reasonable and I‘m sure they‘ll all line up and vote their conscience to make America a better place.
This is not going to happen. Anything that depends on Republican votes to move forward is not a real plan to move forward. Democrats, just right—just right here for a second. They are not going to vote with you, never. No matter what you ask them to vote on in health reform. It is working for them to vote no.
And when you keep waiting and stretching this out to try to give them more time to come around, you‘re giving them more time to make this even harder for you. They‘re not coming around, ever.
If you want to keep your seats, if you want President Obama to be reelected, you have two options. One, the solution being floated today by Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Henry waxman, which is to pass the Senate bill, fix any problems with it through reconciliation—which is something that takes 51 votes.
Or, two, you can kill the filibuster. Lower the number of senators it takes to overcome a filibuster, make it not 60 anymore but something less than that. Make it harder for the minority to thwart the will of the majority since—handy chart here—they‘ve been abusing that privilege in an unprecedented way.
Senator Tom Harkin today said he‘s planning to introduce legislation to change the filibuster, something he‘s tried to do before when his party was in the minority. It failed.
But could it work now? We‘ve heard conflicting opinions about that very issue from two lawmakers, both Democrats, appearing on this show this week on two consecutive nights.
Did you notice this? This was Senator Debbie Stabenow two nights ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: As much as I would love to change this 60-vote rule and filibuster rule, it takes 2/3 of the Senate to be able to do that. So, that‘s not realistic for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Two-thirds of the Senate, she says.
But then here was what Congressman Barney Frank said about it last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK: I don‘t like the filibuster. I think it should be great crusade now to try and change that rule which the Senate can do by a majority at the opening of the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A majority. So, would killing the filibuster take 2/3 of the Senate? Because that will never happen. Or it would just take a majority, 51 votes, because that could happen maybe. And that would save health reform and everything else in the Democrats‘ agenda. This seems important.
Joining us now is Tim Noah, senior writer at Slate.com. He‘s written extensively about the filibuster and long since called for its abolition even when a different party controlled the Senate.
Tim, it‘s nice to see you. Thanks for joining us.
TIMOTHY NOAH, SLATE.COM: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Help us set the record straight here. How many votes would it take to change the rules on filibuster?
NOAH: It‘s a bit like that old “Saturday Night Live” joke—they‘re both right. It‘s a floor wax and dessert topping.
They are both right. Under the current rules, it requires 67 votes, which is more votes than you need to actually kill a filibuster. But there is this other thing called the respectable term for it is the constitutional option, the not respectable term for it is the nuclear option. And you‘ll recall that Senator Bill Frist, when he was the Republican majority leader in the Senate in 2005, threatened to use it against Democrats.
And under the nuclear option, what the majority leader does—and he needs to have a vice president of his own party, which the Democrats do have in Joe Biden.
Under the nuclear option, the vice president says, “I hereby declare that the filibuster is unconstitutional. I am not bound by Senate rules because they were written before this Congress came into being. Every two years we get a new Congress. And I am wiping the slate clean. We can change these rules with a majority vote. Let‘s do it.”
MADDOW: Is that the option that Congressman Frank was proposing?
Or is that a—is that yet a third idea?
NOAH: No. This is the—this is the simple majority. This is the way you get rid of a filibuster with a simple majority.
Now, the thing about the nuclear option is—you know, Dick Cheney was the vice president. If there‘s something called a nuclear option and Dick Cheney didn‘t go for it, that tells you how dangerous it really is. It‘s—it is problematic because the Senate is a body that operates on the principle of unanimous consent. You have to get unanimous consent to go to the bathroom in the Senate.
And once you—if you alienate—if you make the minority too angry, it can retaliate by shutting things down in all kinds of exasperating ways. We got a glimpse of that during the health care debate when Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment introducing—proposing a single-payer solution to the health care crisis. It was a totally symbolic amendment. But Senator Jim Coburn got a little persnickety and when they asked unanimous consent to do—to bypass the reading of the bill, Coburn said, “Hell no,” and they had to read this, you know, multiple hundred page bill until finally Sanders gave up and withdrew his amendment.
That could be life on a day-to-day basis if the nuclear option were deployed. But threatening to use the nuclear option, on the other hand, can have the effect of scaring the other side.
MADDOW: Well, yes. I mean, the reason we all know the term nuclear option, at least those of us over age five, is because in 2005, the Republicans really did threaten to do it and Democrats were so skewed out about the idea that they gave Republicans a ton of concessions. I mean, that‘s essentially how George Bush got all his judicial nominees through.
MADDOW: The Democrats really believed—at least they acted like they believed—it was possible it could be done and that they would be really out of luck if it happened when they were in the minority. How can that be the same party that‘s now saying, oh, it‘s impossible, you can‘t really do that?
NOAH: It‘s the central problem of game theory. How do you convince the other side that you are so crazy that you‘re willing to bring the ceiling down on everybody? But they—they did a not bad job with it. And I think the Democrats need to experiment with this technique.
MADDOW: Tim Noah, senior writer at Slate.com, who has done a lot to
some of the best expository writing about this inane, crazy rule—thank you very much for joining us, Tim. I really appreciate it.
NOAH: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Across the political spectrum, from David Vitter to Barney
Frank, there is fury tonight. Senator-elect Scott Brown must be seated now
which is fine, except nobody‘s actually suggesting anything otherwise.
Seriously. Nobody. We checked.
This whole story is totally made up. And we figured out where it came from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TODD TIAHRT ®, KANSAS: Greetings, America. Greetings from my wife, Vicky, who is in Topeka, Kansas, at the March for Life.
TIAHRT: And she wants you to know that even though she‘s in Topeka, Kansas, her avatar is here with you and going to march with you to the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: One of the weirder moments today at the March for Life, Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Kansas shouting out the imagined presence of his wife‘s avatar, as I say, one of the weirder moments in the March for Life rally in Washington today. It‘s held on this day, January 22nd, every year, because it‘s the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe versus Wade in 1973.
This year, people who didn‘t want to actually go to Washington could virtually go to Washington and be virtually inspired by the virtual presence of anti-abortion leaders who were virtually there, sort of, too? The anti-abortion activists providing a pantheon of leaders it said were virtually at the march, like RNC Chairman Michael Steele. That‘s his avatar. Top House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor—see how they made John Boehner a slightly different shade than Eric Cantor. Also, former presidential candidate John McCain, looking quite spry. Texas Governor Rick Perry—got to give them credit, they did nail the hair on that one.
But as marchers, both real and virtual, denounced the legality of abortion today in Washington and online and in Topeka, on the 37th anniversary of legal abortion in the United States, there was another very stark non-commemoration of today‘s anniversary. It was in Kansas.
Today was day one of the murder trial of Scott Roeder. He‘s the man who has admitted to shooting Kansas abortion doctor, George Tiller, at Tiller‘s Wichita church in May of last year. In that courtroom today, the firsthand account from the killing—of the killing from Kathy Wegner. She was the youth director at Tiller‘s church. She was about 40 feet away when Dr. Tiller was shot and killed. She made the first call to 911.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHY WEGNER, WITNESS TO TILLER‘S SHOOTING: I saw a flash and heard a popping that to me sounded like a balloon popping. And then I saw Dr. Tiller just fall flat on his back. I just saw him just flat on his back and I—why is he—why is he there? And I—when I—when I saw the flash and heard the gun pop, I looked, because, I mean, I was just—it was just right there. And I saw an assailant. I saw with his hand out and still had the gun in his hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In this month‘s issue of “GQ” magazine, senior correspondent Devin Friedman lays out that same series of events from Scott Roeder‘s perspective, based on a series of interviews that Devin conducted with Mr. Roeder from jail.
Devin Friedman joins us now in studio.
Mr. Friedman, thanks very much for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
DEVIN FRIEDMAN, GQ SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Why did Scott Roeder talk to you?
FRIEDMAN: I think Scott Roeder talked to a lot of people. I think he can‘t—he couldn‘t help himself. I mean, this is not something he did because he didn‘t want a public forum.
MADDOW: Yes. He talked a lot to you, I know—one of the things that struck me about your article is how long he planned the killing and thought about it. Apparently, been thinking about doing it for years and he had thought about trying to maim Dr. Tiller instead of kill him.
FRIEDMAN: I was surprised, especially before his murder trial, that he would talk about the premeditation in such detail.
FRIEDMAN: But, I mean, for a decade, at least he was thinking about killing Dr. Tiller. And he thought about cutting his hands off with a machete so that he couldn‘t perform abortions anymore. And he thought about killing him at his house.
And he told me that he thought about getting a high-powered sniper rifle that would sort of go through—Dr. Tiller drove an armored car around. And, you know, he explained to me how this rifle that you could buy would go right through the glass and he would actually maybe get away if he used that.
MADDOW: I know that you talked with Roeder about what motivated him, what caused him to want to do this. What parts of the anti-abortion movement or any of the other sort of political and social movements he was associated with fed his radicalism?
FRIEDMAN: He—you know, he—a lot has been said, you know, that Bill—about Bill O‘Reilly‘s show and him mentioning Dr. Tiller a bunch of times on there and.
MADDOW: Calling him the baby killer. Yes.
FRIEDMAN: Yes. And Scott liked Bill O‘Reilly and he listened to him on the radio. Scott is not the kind of guy that got cable. He sort of didn‘t have a job a lot of the time and drifted. Scott was a real fringe guy. And there‘s like a body of knowledge out there that‘s kind of made up that comes from these fringe groups. There are Web sites dedicated to it. And Scott recited it all to me. As if they were.
MADDOW: What kinds of fringe things? What kind of conspiracy theories?
FRIEDMAN: Like that Dr. Tiller, a baby was born alive that was supposed—that was—you know, during an abortion procedure and Dr. Tiller, you know, twisted its neck to kill it or he pulled—he purposely pulled off limbs of fetuses, sort of torturing the fetuses. Which was weird, because I think, if you are opposed to what he does, you‘re opposed to what he does. But I don‘t see the point of making stuff up.
MADDOW: Right. Well, was he associated with other things beyond the anti-abortion movement? One of the things we first learned about him was about this previous arrest for being associated with this Freeman Movement.
MADDOW: . sort of a pseudo militia anti-government group.
FRIEDMAN: Yes. Well, he had a lot of ideas. I mean, he was—he
was interested in the Illuminati. You know, he sort of believed that, you
know, the Illuminati were controlling us. And, you know, he didn‘t drink -
he doesn‘t drink tap water because of the fluoride and sort of believes that it‘s a mind-control agent. He didn‘t pay taxes for, I think, 10 or 15 years because he believed that taxes are illegal, that there‘s—it‘s a code instead of a law.
MADDOW: Do you think that he‘s crazy?
FRIEDMAN: He‘s not—I don‘t think that he‘s schizophrenic. I don‘t think he‘s delusional. I think he was very aware of what his decisions were. And there was a logic to them.
I know that he—his wife, his ex-wife, who is a really interesting woman, a pro-choice—you know, they divorced probably 10 or 15 years ago -- she believes that he‘s sort of manic depressive and that in the days leading up, she talked to some people and he was kind of in a mania state. But I don‘t think he‘s crazy.
MADDOW: One of the things that I think has been troubling to those
of us who followed this case so closely and worry about the connection of
this individual incident to a larger movement that in my mind encourages
this sort of extremism—and I‘ll own that as my opinion on this, I‘ve
been pretty open about it on the air. One of the things that seems
worrying is the judge‘s ruling in this case early on that he could present
that Mr. Roeder could present almost a justified homicide defense, that it was voluntary manslaughter, that it was—given who George Tiller was, it was appropriate in some ways for him to be killed.
How important do you think that ruling was, given what you know about Roeder and his aims?
FRIEDMAN: You know, that‘s—I don‘t know the technical—sort of the legal part of that. But it‘s been—I‘ve been in touch with both sides—the lawyers on both sides since the story has come out, and my understanding is that, basically, what the judge decided is not to preemptively say you can‘t have that. You know, not to say, I‘m—you know, I‘m not going to say before the trial starts that I won‘t give the instruction that it can be a second-degree murder rather than a first-degree murder.
But I think that there are so many legal hurdles before that can happen, it seems like it‘s going to be impossible. I think his—I would not want to be defending him in this trial. It‘s a pretty uphill battle.
MADDOW: Even just what he put on the record with you for this story for “GQ” is pretty hard to imagine how you don‘t get convicted of something pretty serious after that.
Devin Friedman, senior correspondent with “GQ” magazine, done extensive interviews with Scott Roeder, who is, as of today, on trial for the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Appreciate it.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks for your reporting.
We hope you watched and were moved by the telethon to benefit the people of Haiti earlier tonight. There was news from the earthquake zone today, including the planned relocation of 400,000 people and America‘s floating naval hospital operating at the full capacity, the biggest capacity it can operate at for its first time ever.
Later on, I‘ll look at a new campaign of indignation also that‘s based on a completely made-up premise regarding something that nobody is planning to do. It has to do with Senator-elect Scott Brown. Heckling will be involved.
MADDOW: When the earthquake struck Haiti 10 days ago, the United Nations estimated that it flattened every other building in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. That‘s not counting the damage in cities and towns outside of the capital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back, get back!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since the initial quake, of course, there have been a number of strong aftershocks—footage of this one here.
And so, the survivors of the disaster, for obvious and rationale reasons, are not eager to take up shelter in the buildings that remain standing. Of the 4 million who lived in Port-au-Prince before the quake, at least hundreds of thousands of them are now living out of doors. The International Organization for Migration counts at least 450,000 camps around Port-au-Prince where people are living outdoors over their own accord—in parks, parking lots, soccer fields and behind churches.
The Haitian government has now approved plans for more than a dozen official giant tent cities in and around Port-au-Prince. They expect them to hold something on the order of 400,000 people.
There is a science to building tent cities. Land is cleared and leveled. There‘s an expectation that officially-approved tent cities will have things like clean water and a way to safely fed people and sanitation and health care. But even a well-organized tent city, of course, is still a tent city. The rainy season starts in Haiti in May.
The minister of tourism in Haiti told reporters after a meeting with Haiti‘s president today that phase two of the tent city plan is to contract with private companies to build new permanent housing, hiring the residents of the tent cities as their labor force for construction.
Meanwhile, there is mass people-powered migration within Haiti. USAID officials saying today that they think about 200,000 residents of Port-au-Prince have fled the city already, by bus, by ferry, or on foot—trying to find a place and a way to live in other Haitian cities or in the countryside. And a horrible week, a decade or more of mass migration from the countryside to Port-au-Prince has been turned around.
That said, many of Haiti‘s secondary and tertiary cities themselves have been hit hard by the quake.
NBC‘s Nancy Snyderman today filed this report from a medical facility in the very hard-hit, beautiful tourist city of Jacmel.
DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN, NBC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL EDITOR (voice-over): On this day we had for Milo where reportedly there is a stocked and staffed hospital with no patients. We soon understand why. The roads are inaccessible so we head instead to Jacmel, a 3 ½-hour drive from Port-au-Prince.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need help because Jacmel is done.
SNYDERMAN (on camera): In this small port town near the epicenter of last week‘s quake, it‘s not known how many people have died. Estimated that 1,000 people have lost their homes. There‘s no sign yet of U.S. military and little outside aid.
(voice-over): The town‘s hospital has been badly damaged. The severely injured are everywhere, but there are signs of hope, too.
This 25-day old baby was pulled from the rubble eight days after the quake.
(on camera): Congratulations, papa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SNYDERMAN (voice-over): As we head in for the day, we see a young injured boy being carried by his mother on the back of a scooter. We stop. In that instant, the entire news crew pitches in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three.
SNYDERMAN (on camera): No speeding. Let‘s just go slowly and get to the Israeli compound. What happened to him?
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She goes next to the kitchen. There was a pot that was hot. So when things shoo, it fell on him and he got burned.
SNYDERMAN: Twelve-year-old fractured right arm and burns. He‘s got an I.V. and a catheter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see the child?
SNYDERMAN: You hold this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘ll take him. We can help him.
SNYDERMAN: We found him on the roadside. Somebody was riding a bicycle and he and his mother was on the back of bicycle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like that?
SNYDERMAN: Like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like that?
MADDOW: NBC‘s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reporting from Jacmel, a city about 25 miles below Port-au-Prince on Haiti‘s southern coast.
Anchored off the coast of Haiti today is the USNS Comfort. It‘s a hospital ship that‘s taking part in the largest medical evacuation in its history. Captain Richard Sharpe, a Navy trauma surgeon, who‘s one of the team that‘s orchestrating the movements of the Comfort today and getting people on to the Comfort for treatment said today this, “The Comfort is going to full capacity. We‘ve never done it before.”
The Comfort is offshore. Patients on land are delivered by Army ambulances to helicopter landing pads, then loaded on to Blackhawk helicopters and then those helicopters fly them on board to the Comfort where they‘re treated in one of the hospital‘s 11 operating rooms.
The commander of the 82nd Airborne units that are helping load the ambulances says the U.S. Army has not participated in a medical evacuation of this scale since Normandy.
Yesterday, for what is believed to be the first time in its history, a baby was delivered on board the USNS Comfort, a baby girl named Esther, arrived by caesarian section seven weeks early. She weighed in at four pounds five ounces. Her mom was brought in with a fractured pelvis and a broken leg. She managed to survive since last Tuesday with virtually no medical care.
More tales of unlikely rescues and information on how you can help with the rescue and recovery effort in Haiti in just a bit. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Mr. Brown went to Washington yesterday and not for the first time, either. The Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown got lots of attention in D.C. yesterday when he paid a visit to his fellow Republicans. He told “The Washington Post” he had visited our nation‘s capital before as a tourist.
He said, quote, “I‘m a history buff. I love the Museum of Natural History.”
Should maybe—I mean, history buff, you think like someone who is into George Washington, (INAUDIBLE), stuff like that. Museum of Natural History is like giant squid, T-rex, you know what I mean.
I don‘t mean to nitpick but he is my senator now. Massachusetts, really, like into history? Just thought it was kind of weird.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CROWD: Seat him now! Seat him now! Seat him now!
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: That was—I never thought he had a chance to hold off on the seating of Scott Brown or having a vote before he could take his seat. That would have been undemocratic.
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: Playing games are seating Scott in the Senate and other things. My attitude is absolutely no way, and I‘m working with others. I‘m starting a petition drive, and I‘d love your support in terms of getting Scott Brown seated in the U.S. Senate immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Why is Senator David Vitter trying to become famous for something other than hookers, by instead signing people up for a petition asking for your support to seat Senator Brown? Why is Senator John McCain asking on the front page of his political action campaign Web site for your signature on a petition to seat Scott Brown immediately? Why did Congressman Barney Frank say he was concerned about the suggestion of holding off seating Scott Brown?
Who is trying to not seat Scott Brown? Whose idea is this?
The short answer? Nobody. As far as we can figure it out, the entire idea of delaying the seating of Senator-elect Scott Brown, so health reform could make it through Congress without his vote against it, the entire idea came from a newspaper, the “Boston Herald,” which is a conservative paper that endorsed Mr. Brown.
On January 9th, they posted the following article by a reporter named Frank Quaratiello with the scary-sounding headline “Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health care reform.” What justified this headline? Who told them it would be stalled? Actually nobody told them that.
Our producer spoke to Mr. Quaratiello today to ask him who suggested the stalling, he told us that at the time, it seemed really unlikely that Scott Brown might actually win the seat so they were simply playing the what-if game in the newsroom. It was just an idea, just a possibility, just spit balling.
But result is this outraged fight against the supposed conspiracy to stop Scott Brown from getting to the Senate. Except that no one, not even the what-if players at the “Boston Herald” were ever suggesting that such a thing actually happen. Nobody is trying to stop Scott Brown from being seated. No one is advocating for a delay. No one is plotting.
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you telling me they are not seating Scott Brown?
JONES: They are not seating him?
MADDOW: No, they are. He‘s going to be seated.
JONES: This should be on TV, OK? I haven‘t heard anything about this, nothing! Zero.
MADDOW: Kent, this is on TV.
MADDOW: We‘re on TV right now.
JONES: No, no, no.
JONES: Come on. Come on, it‘s like you don‘t even want to talk about it. Come on.
MADDOW: I did talk about this.
JONES: Scott Brown.
MADDOW: Scott Brown will be seated. We‘re on TV right now.
JONES: I see a red dot right over there. I want to look at the red dot and tell everyone. Go on, tell them. Tell everyone.
MADDOW: Kent, I have been.
JONES: Tell everyone.
MADDOW: This is on TV, OK?
JONES: Tell everyone.
MADDOW: This is—Kent, this is ridiculous. This is TV. This is me talking about Scott Brown.
JONES: Gas up the truck. Come on. Gas up the truck. Gas up the truck. Red dot.
MADDOW: OK, Kent. It‘s OK, it‘s OK.
JONES: Red dot. Red dot.
MADDOW: It‘s all right.
JONES: Red dot.
MADDOW: Time is always critical after a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti. After 48 hours, the chances of surviving underneath the rubble of collapsed buildings drops dramatically. So, tonight, the rescue of not one but two survivors buried for 10 days since the quake is just incredible.
An Israeli search and rescue team working near the cathedral in Port-au-Prince rescued a 22-year-old Bhutto Emmanuel (ph) trapped for 10 days in the wreckage. He was dehydrated. Doctors on the scene amazingly expect him to make a full recovery.
Elsewhere in the capital, family members dug for 20 hours and managed to free 84-year-old Marie Carida Romain (ph) from the rubble of her house. She is in critical condition tonight, in a state of shock and severely dehydrated. She‘s being treated at the main hospital in Port-au-Prince.
If you‘d like to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, Hope for Haiti Now which held a star-studded telethon earlier tonight, is still accepting donations for seven charities: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Program, Yele Haiti Foundation, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation. If you‘d like to donate, logon to HopeForHaitiNow.org, HopeForHaitiNow.org, or call 1-877-99-HAITI.
We also have an extensive list of charities working to help Haiti right now at our Web site, Rachel.MSNBC.com.
That does it for us tonight. We‘ll see you again on Monday night.
Until then, you can e-mail us at Rachel@MSNBC.com.
“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
Have an excellent weekend. Thank you.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2010 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
WATCH 'THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW' WEEKDAYS AT 9:00 P.M. ON MSNBC.
MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader: