'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, March, 2010
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Guest: Ed Brayton, Ana Marie Cox, Frank Schaeffer
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you very much for
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
We begin tonight with the Democrat who is trying to make a name for
himself by helping Republicans kill health reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: There are at least 12 of us who voted
for health care who have indicated to the leadership and others that unless
you fix this abortion language, we can‘t vote for a final version of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Bart—Stupak. Bart Stupak of
Michigan. Bart Stupak.
If you have never heard of Bart Stupak before, it‘s probably because
he‘s sort of a backbencher. He has been sort of a backbencher, anonymous,
under the radar congressman who has never really made a political splash
The closest he ever came to making a splash before this, the only time
he ever crossed my radar at least, was when he volunteered a random, out-
of-nowhere antigay comment to me during the Mark Foley scandal when I had
my radio show on Air America and I was interviewing him about something
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STUPAK: Look, you know, I don‘t mean this disrespectful, but, you
know, I‘ve been on the Hill for 14 years. And, we all know Mark Foley has
a different lifestyle than most of us. And when this—this should have
set off all kinds of alarms. But if you know a person has a little
different lifestyle, you know that you warn the pages when they come in
that—don‘t get too friendly with this guy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That lifestyle should have set off all kinds of alarms. It
was—that was weird. I remembered it all these years. I actually
thought that would be the last I ever heard of old Bart Stupak.
But over the past five months or so, Bart Stupak—lo and behold—
has found a way to finally make himself famous. It started in roughly
November when he introduced the Stupak amendment in the House to try to
make health reform into a vehicle to effectively ban abortion.
There had been sort of a consensus in Washington that whatever the
fight about abortion is in this country, that fight would not be
superimposed onto the fight over health reform. But Bart Stupak threw that
consensus out the window and decided that this was going to be his vehicle
that he could hijack health reform to show of his antiabortion politics and
make himself famous.
Bart Stupak got his moment in the sun. He was all over TV, all over
the news, and he got his antiabortion language put into the House bill.
Then, almost immediately, he floated the idea of running for governor of
Michigan. Glory, glory!
And now, after a few months of what it used to be like for Bart
Stupak, with no one paying attention to him anymore, Bart Stupak has come
back. He‘s having another moment in the spotlight right now and he appears
to be loving it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that mean you‘re prepared to take
responsibility for bringing down this whole bill?
STUPAK: Yes, we‘re prepared to take responsibility. I mean, I‘ve
been catching it ever since the last—I mean, let‘s face it. I want to
see health care, but we‘re not going to bypass some principles and belief
that we feel strongly about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whatever Bart Stupak‘s principles and views on abortion, it
is not rational to think that the Democratic-led House and the Democratic-
led Senate are going to let him use health reform as a way to effectively
ban abortion. They‘re just not going to—as evidenced by the fact that
the Senate took his language out of the bill that they passed and as
evidenced by senior Democratic Senator Tom Harkin today saying, quote, “Mr.
Stupak is, sadly, totally misinformed.”
Bart Stupak is not going to be allowed to kill health reform in order
to milk this antiabortion stunt. It‘s not going to happen. But even if he
doesn‘t kill health reform, Mr. Stupak knows this is his chance to get on
TV a lot again. The problem with Bart Stupak trying to make himself famous
by trying to hijack health reform with this antiabortion stunt is that all
of the stuff you‘re able to get away with as an under-the-radar politician
who nobody really knows nationally—all of those things are harder to get
away with once you are above the radar. You do end up having to answer for
some of the unexplained things that no one cared to have you explain
For example, Bart Stupak famously was one of the conservative
politicians who lived at C Street—a $1.8 million town house on Capitol
Hill that featured in the Mark Sanford sex scandal and the John Ensign sex
scandal and the Chip Pickering sex scandal. The house is home to a number
of members of Congress. It has been reported to be run by the secretive
religious group known as The Family.
Bart Stupak has confirmed that he did in fact live at C Street.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us what your relationship is with the
controversial C Street religious cult known as The Family?
STUPAK: Sure. I live there. I rent a room there. And there is no
such thing as The Family. I do not belong to any group called The Family.
I do not belong to any international group. I do not belong to any
I‘m a Catholic, always been a Catholic, and I still practice my faith.
I rent a room. That‘s really about it. So, there is no Family. There is
no theocracy that I‘m part of.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: As you heard there, Mr. Stupak confirming that he lives at C
Street but denying any involvement with The Family.
Author Jeff Sharlet, who went under cover inside The Family, tells a
very different story about Congressman Stupak. He describes Bart Stupak as
having been, quote, “a Family-assigned mentor to one of my brothers there.”
When asked about that reporting, a spokesman from Mr. Stupak responded by
saying, “The congressman will not have any further comment on the matter.”
Since then, Washington, D.C. housing authorities have started asking
some questions about Mr. Stupak‘s home. You see, C Street is officially
listed for tax purposes as a church. It is therefore fully tax-exempt—
or I should say it was fully tax-exempt. After looking into that town
house‘s church-iness, D.C. officials decided to strip C Street of some of
its tax-exempt status, leaving only one-third of the house free of taxes.
Then last week, a group of 13 pastors from Ohio sent a letter to the
IRS asking the IRS to strip the house fully of its federal tax-exempt
status, arguing that it‘s incongruous to describe the C Street house as a
church when, for example, there doesn‘t appear to be any public worship
there nor there appear to be any trained religious leaders serving any
church there. This group is not kidding. Their lawyer on this matter is
the guy who used to be in charge of religious exemptions at the IRS.
Some response to this challenge to C Street and in response to all
this controversy now swirling around C Street, Congressman Stupak has put
out a statement, saying that he‘s moved out. He says he has moved out of C
Street because of the controversy. He added for good measure that “he‘d
never signed an oath of secrecy concerning C Street or its residents”—
which is good to know.
Now that Congressman Stupak is newly famous, he does not want to be
associated with C Street anymore even though he lived there for years.
But here‘s the rub—here‘s the issue. In addition to the “is this
thing a church tax exemption issue” the Ohio pastors‘ complaint to the IRS
raises one other really good point, and I think it‘s worth paying attention
to. Everyone who has been living at C Street, including Bart Stupak, has
been getting a sweetheart deal. This is a $1.8 million town house. There
are rooms. These are rooms in this really swanky town house that come with
meals, the come with maid service, meeting rooms, common spaces—it‘s a
very nice place.
How much do you think that‘s worth on Capitol Hill in Washington,
D.C., just blocks away from the Capitol building? How about $600 a month?
Six hundred bucks a month, really? I paid that for a not-very-nice room in
a third floor walk-up on a not-very-safe block of Guerrero Street in the
mission in San Francisco in 1995.
That‘s what Bart Stupak was reportedly paying to live in a swanky
Capitol Hill mansion last year. Bart Stupak was not just paying to live
there. Somebody else was presumably helping to pay his rent while he was
living there. You can‘t pay that kind of way-below market rent unless
you‘re being subsidized by someone. That‘s an in-kind donation to a member
That means that for every single month he was living there, and he
lived there for years, Bart Stupak was apparently receiving an in-kind,
very generous donation of rent. Someone was paying for Bart Stupak to live
in this fake church. Who was it?
The Family responded to the Ohio pastors letter by saying now that
they have nothing to do with the C Street house. So, if it‘s not The
Family, then who was subsidizing Bart Stupak‘s rent? And did he ever
report that subsidy as an in-kind donation or as income? If it wasn‘t The
Family, who exactly was Bart Stupak writing his rent checks to?
We reached out to Bart Stupak‘s office tonight to ask him these
questions. We will let you know what we hear.
Joining us now is Ed Brayton. He is the state editor for “The
Michigan Messenger.” He also hosts a political radio show up in Michigan,
and he‘s done lots and lots of reporting on Bart Stupak‘s ties to C Street
and The Family.
Mr. Brayton, thank you very much for your time tonight.
ED BRAYTON, THE MICHIGAN MESSENGER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: I understand that you started looking into Mr. Stupak‘s ties
to C Street long before anybody on the national level even knew who Bart
Stupak was. How forthcoming was he about C Street back then?
BRAYTON: Well, my experience with him was very much like what you
just reported. He wanted nothing to do with it. I—first, when the C
Street story first broke last summer, after Sanford and Ensign and all of
that, I immediately contacted—and, of course, being from Michigan, I
wanted to know—I immediately contacted his spokesperson and I got a “no
comment” from them. They clearly didn‘t want to talk about it.
About two weeks later, his office hosted a teleconference for
reporters to talk about several different issues. Not that one of course.
I decided this was my opportunity to get to ask him that question so I
joined the teleconference.
And when it came my turn to ask a question, I asked him about that. I
asked him about his living at the C Street house, about his connections to
The Family, about how he felt about The Family‘s long history of ties to
brutal dictators from the Third World, that sort of thing.
And his answer really astonished me. His answer was “I don‘t even
know what you‘re talking about.” He didn‘t—you know, he admitted, “Yes,
I do live at the C Street house,” but he said, “All I do is rent a room
there. I don‘t know anything about the people that I pay rent to. I don‘t
know who this Family is you‘re talking about. I don‘t know anything about
this religion stuff.”
Total ignorance, he claimed, of anything going on there whatsoever—
which I found rather astonishing.
MADDOW: As I indicated in the introduction, and which it sounds like
you‘re sort of with me on this, there are questions to ask about who Bart
Stupak was paying rent to when he lived at C Street. I mean, this is very
obviously, heavily subsidized housing. To not know who you‘re paying rent
to in a subsidized facility seems strange for anybody let alone a member of
Congress. The Family now says they don‘t run C Street.
Based on your reporting—do you have any sense of who he might have
been paying rent to, who might have been subsidizing him?
BRAYTON: Well, I did the same thing you did. I immediately got on
the phone with Jeff Sharlet, who is, of course, the expert on this group,
having been pretty much the only person to have had a look from the inside.
And I said, “Jeff, what is Bart‘s involvement here? Could he be telling
the truth?” And he said, “Absolutely not. He said the same thing you
He said, “When I lived at Ivan Wald, one of my brothers was a
protegee, he was a Family-assigned mentor. He used to go to Capitol Hill
once a week to meet with Stupak to get counseling from him.” He is very
involved in The Family.
Now, as far as C Street is concerned, C Street house is actually owned
as I understand it, by the C Street Foundation. And if you‘ve read Jeff
Sharlet‘s book, you know that The Family operates to a huge network of
loosely affiliated nonprofit organizations. And those organizations may
only last for a certain period of time. They fold them up after two or
three years and they start a new one with a different name, and that makes
them very difficult to sort of follow the tracks.
Jeff, of course, had access to their archives and could go back
through all of their records and track all of these things. And according
to Jeff, the C Street Foundation is directly affiliated with The Family and
I have no reason not to believe him.
MADDOW: Mr. Stupak says, of course, that his time at C Street didn‘t
influence his votes in any way. We know that the thing Mr. Stupak is most
famous for, the Stupak amendment to health reform, was actually the
Stupak/Pitts amendment, Congressman Joe Pitts, a Republican who Jeff
Sharlet reports, also has a very long association with The Family.
We have to take Congressman Stupak at his word here, because nobody
can—nobody can define what‘s inside his heart and inside his mind in
terms of what influences him. But have you come across any legislation
that he‘s offered that has raised eyebrows in terms of his connections to
The Family and C Street?
BRAYTON: Well, one of the things I found last summer was that he had
sponsored a bill in this session of Congress to transfer several acres of
Coast Guard property in Sheboygan, Michigan, to a church school there in
Sheboygan, free of charge. Now, that obviously is not constitutional. You
can‘t give government property away to a church.
And I have—again, I contacted them, his campaign or—I‘m sorry—
his office. They had no comment at all. They wouldn‘t talk to me at all
Americans United for Separation of Church and State got involved.
They wrote a letter in early October to Representative Stupak, telling him
this was unconstitutional. The next day, he withdrew that legislation and
set—put a new legislation that would sell the property at fair market
value but would give the church the right of first refusal to buy it at
fair market value.
I should say this. I don‘t think that Representative Stupak is
particularly—he is certainly not a religious right ideologue. He is a
fairly moderate guy. The one big issue for him is abortion.
You know, when it comes to gay rights, for example, he‘s got a 63
percent lifetime rating from the Human Rights Campaign. That‘s not
terrible. He‘s only got a 53 percent lifetime rating from the Christian
So, I don‘t think it‘s fair to paint him as sort of a religious right
ideologue. That‘s not what he is. He‘s a fairly moderate guy.
But abortion is the one issue that, I think, really gets his dander up
and that he feels very strongly about, and he feels like that‘s a place
where his religious views should be imposed on the rest of the country.
MADDOW: Ed Brayton is state editor for “The Michigan Messenger.”
Thanks for helping us put out the story with your reporting and helping us
all get to know Bart Stupak a little better. I really appreciate it, Mr.
BRAYTON: Thanks, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: OK. So, the desperation of the folks who don‘t want health
reform to happen has now caused a very strange drawing of Harry Reid as
Scooby Doo. Apparently, they think that‘s a bad thing. My guest is “GQ‘s”
Ana Marie Cox—next.
MADDOW: Ana Marie Cox and I will connect the dots between the fight
against health reform and Scooby Doo. We are not sure yet. But as of
right now, Scooby is not included. It might change. That‘s next.
MADDOW: The centerpiece of the Republican electoral strategy for the
elections this year is and has been kill health reform. Slow it down.
Water it down. Kill it at all costs—even if you have to pretend to
negotiate and even if the Democrats relent and add a bunch of your ideas to
the health bill, it doesn‘t matter. Reform must die. That‘s the plan.
And for a while, it looked like that plan was working. Now it seems
like it‘s not. It seems like health reform is going to pass in one form or
another—one form or another, and very soon. And thus the Republican
Party‘s attempts to kill health reform are growing increasingly desperate.
The challenge for the opponents of health reform now is that people as
a general rule don‘t do their best work when they‘re desperate. Take for
example the RNC fundraising PowerPoint presentation that was leaked to
Politico.com today. The presentation details among other things what the
Republican Party thinks might be motivating their donors now. They suggest
things like fear—extreme, negative feelings toward the existing
administration. Also, peer pressure and ego.
Nice. I wonder what they say about people they‘re not trying to
But the big Republican sales pitch is that the GOP will “save the
country from trending towards socialism!” Exclamation point! They will
save the country from also—“The Evil Empire.” I‘m not making this up.
That‘s what it says. “The Evil Empire”—these are their terms.
“The Evil Empire,” as you can see, is made up of President Obama, made
up to look like the Joker from “Batman.” Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
made up to look like Cruella De Vil because you heard that thing about her
and puppies, right?
Weirdest of all—perhaps the clearest sign yet that we‘re dealing
with a little hyperactive hysteria here—the final component of “The Evil
Empire,” according to the Republican National Committee is Harry Reid as
Scooby Doo. Plus, there‘s also a bonus picture of Nancy Pelosi and Harry
Reid as the couple from the “American Gothic” painting.
So, this is the Republican Party strategy for raising money and
winning elections this year: fear, socialism, Depression Era American
painting, Scooby Doo. Oh, my God.
Meanwhile, House Republicans‘ last ditch strategy for trying to stop
health reform is less bizarre than the national party as a whole, but it
makes just as much sense. The National Republican Congressional Committee
is calling their effort to kill health reform now Project Code Red!
Alerting America to the Democrats‘ health care takeover!
Here‘s the “We‘re so freaked out we misfired” part of this. The
targets of the Code Red alert are Democrats. The National Republican
Congressional Committee is making thousands of red alert robocalls to House
Democrats‘ home districts—mostly House Democrats who have already voted
in favor of health reform and these calls are supposed to pressure them to
vote against reform when it comes up again for a final vote now.
Here‘s an excerpt of the call that‘s going out for example in
Congressman Tom Perriello‘s district in Virginia.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, REPUBLICAN ROBOCALL)
ANNOUNCER: Hello, I‘m calling from the National Republican
Congressional Committee with a code red alert about an impending health
care vote in Congress. Even though a majority of Virginia voters want them
to scrap it, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama are planning to ram their
dangerous, out-of-control health care spending bill through Congress,
anyway. What‘s worse, Congressman Tom Perriello voted for this bill the
last time it was up and might vote for it again.
Please call Tom Perriello now before it‘s too late and tell him to
vote no on Nancy Pelosi‘s dangerous health care scheme.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Anyway. So, the message from Republicans to, again, a
Democratic congressman, Tom Perriello in this case, is essentially—look,
man, we‘ll totally go after you if you vote yes on health reform again.
But if you change your vote and vote no, we will leave you alone. Right?
We‘ll never, ever call you a flip-flopper. We‘ll never talk about the time
did you vote for health reform ever. We swear—pinky swear.
The premise of this strategy in other words is that Democrats are
stupid enough to think that after voting for health reform once Republicans
will back of and leave them alone and not try to beat them in November and
not run attack ads against them if only they switch their vote and vote no
and help out Republicans this second time. Also, they have some watches
they‘d like to sell you. They‘re here inside my coat. I swear they‘re
Incidentally, both the weird cartoons from the RNC fundraising
presentation and the bizarrely targeted robocalls are now being used as
fundraising tools by the Democrats. Because there‘s a word for what is
going on in the Republican Party right now and I believe that word is flop
Joining us is Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for “GQ”
Ana Marie, it‘s always nice to see you. Thank you for joining us.
ANA MARIE COX, GQ MAGAZINE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: How can Scooby Doo be part of a conception of an evil cartoon
empire? What did Scooby Doo do?
COX: Well, maybe—maybe he‘s going to rip his mask off at the end
and he‘ll be Dick Cheney and complain about those meddling kids. That‘s
the only way I can see it working out.
MADDOW: This fundraising presentation—it isn‘t just insulting to
Democrats and Scooby Doo. It‘s also very insulting to Republicans—the
GOP referring to their own donors as ego-driven and reactionary. I mean,
is that kind of standard stuff or is this potentially damaging for the
Republican Party and their major donors?
COX: Well, I talked to a few people about this, and what I was told
is—it‘s standard to try and do this kind of fear tactic. That actually
works. And so, they‘re right on both counts also that the major donors are
ego-driven and the minor donors are fear-driven.
I think, also, what we‘re getting a glimpse of here is those people
that were in the room watching the PowerPoint presentation—those were
not the super, super-major donors. Those are people who want to feel like
major donors. Those are people who want actually their egos flattered.
They want to feel like they know stuff other people don‘t. And that‘s
probably what was happening here.
And think about what a desperate time this is for any kind of
fundraising. I think that they were probably pulling out all the stops,
and that‘s probably why they committed this to PowerPoint—which, by the
way, is a sign of total ineptness in and of itself.
MADDOW: Well, the RNC chairman, Michael Steele, has been asked about
this all day today and he has been quite furiously distancing himself from
this. But it was—this is a PowerPoint that was done by the RNC finance
chair and the RNC finance director. So, why do we get Michael Steele as
chairman running away from something like this done by the top finance
people in the party?
COX: Well, again, talking to people I know who served on national
committees for both parties, it‘s possible that he didn‘t know about this
particular presentation. That is believable. What‘s not believable is
that he doesn‘t that this kind of thing happens.
And also what‘s not believable is that he doesn‘t agree that these
things are true. Not that Obama is a Joker and Nancy Pelosi is Cruella De
Vil, but that—again the major donors are driven by ego and the minor
donors are driven by fear. This is something actually that probably
applies to both parties, but it‘s just unusual to see it spelled out.
MADDOW: Do the—do the RNC finance chairman and the RNC finance
director get fired because of this? Is this something that is embarrassing
enough to them that somebody has to get fired? Or do they just pretend,
they can sort of disavow the message but let the people who did it continue
in their jobs?
COX: We‘ll see. I think that this is the kind of thing—this is
sort of inside baseball enough that it could probably be written out. If,
however, it becomes something that, you know, not just you but also Jon
Stewart and Jay Leno and—if it becomes kind of meme, which I think it
has a chance of doing, then it could really damage them. For right now,
this is the same—this is as damaging to the Republicans as the threat of
reconciliation is to Democrats, which is to say people are not paying that
close attention right now. However, I think for the people that are paying
attention obviously like this, it doesn‘t look good.
MADDOW: In terms of those, the anti-health reform robocalls that are
going after Democrats—have you heard my analysis of it? What incentive
could there be for—
COX: You‘ve assumed that I heard. OK.
MADDW: I mean—
COX: You assume I was paying attention.
MADDOW: I understand. Most people don‘t. They wait for Jay Leno. I
But, you know, what incentive could there possibly be for Democrats to
say, like—oh, Republicans, I‘ll take your advice on how to vote on
health reform now because, obviously, this threat against me willing away
if I change my vote. I mean, what‘s the thinking?
COX: That‘s insane, but I think what might be happening here and I‘m
assuming one of the things is that the NRCC just has tons of money to throw
away, clearly. And one thing they might be doing is measuring how
effective this kind of call is. They might have polling that they did
prior to the call and then they‘ll do polling after the call, and they‘ll
see what kind of percentage they‘ll get conversion from this. That I think
might be what‘s happening, although it seems like it‘s a pretty expensive
and showy and silly looking way to do it. I don‘t know.
MADDOW: Red alert! Red alert! Follow us! We‘re panicking.
COX: Luckily, the Scooby gang is coming. So—
MADDOW: Exactly. But they‘re evil, I think. Yes, it‘s very
Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for “GQ” magazine—
congratulations on your new gig at “GQ” and thanks for joining us.
COX: Hopefully, this is the last we‘ll have while I‘m still on the
MADDOW: Yes, indeed: Just stay right there.
All right. So, how should we fight terrorism here at home in the
United States? One Louisiana sheriff has an answer: arming 200 local folks
with shotguns and riot shields and a .50 caliber machine gun just in case -
local firepower and the threat of the end of the world. This is an
amazing story. We‘ve got it coming up with author Frank Schaeffer.
Please stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that we talked about in the first class
was how much of a commitment it would be. And it‘s a testimony to the
people of Bossier Parish for all of those that returned today saying I‘m
willing to make that commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: These folks, these guys are volunteers in
something called Project Exodus in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. The sheriff
in Bossier Parish, Sheriff Larry Dean, put out a press release recently
announcing the creation of this Operation Exodus group.
It‘s now been reported by “The Shreveport Times” and that local
reporting has been picked up nationally by Zach Roth at “Talking Points
Memo.” The sheriff‘s department there says that Operation Exodus is
designed to build a local paramilitary force to deal with the threat of,
you know, threats and stuff.
In the words of “The Shreveport Times,” quote, “The Bossier
Parish sheriff‘s office is launching a program called Operation Exodus, a
policing plan for an end-of-the-world scenario involving a mostly white
group of ex-police volunteers and a .50-caliber machine gun inspired in
part from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.
The .50-caliber machine gun is for real. It‘s mounted on
something the sheriff‘s office calls the war wagon. I so wish we had a
picture of the Bossier County sheriff‘s war wagon with its .50-caliber
mounted machine gun.
We do not have a picture of that. We do have these awesome shots
of this 1955 Chevy/Monster truck thingy that is also called the “War Wagon”
but I don‘t think that‘s what they‘re putting the gun on. I think it‘s a
different war wagon.
The way Operation Exodus is going in Bossier Parish is that the
sheriff came up with this idea. He put out the press release. And then
the sheriff proactively contacted people who lived in Bossier Parish who he
wanted to join this little militia.
And the sheriff chose 200 people, 195 of the 200 are white men.
The sheriff is providing these people with shotguns and with batons and
with riot shields. The sheriff has already started training them as you
can see in hand-to-hand combat.
And then there‘s the war wagon with the .50-caliber machine gun.
Sheriff Dean explains the need for this militia as follows, “As evidenced
by recent terror threats, it is apparent homegrown terrorists are in our
midst. With the easy accessibility of the Internet, it is quite possible
that these local and international terrorists can form a national or
multiple location attack on our nation at any given moment.”
“And no matter whether we are a direct target or not, fear and
panic will still permeate our community. Control will have to be regained
to ensure the safety of our residents. That‘s where Operation Exodus comes
See the 195 white guys in town who were just given guns by the
sheriff? They‘re supposed to reduce your fear. Same with the .50 caliber
thingy on the war wagon thingy. Reducing the fear.
“The Shreveport Times” asked Sheriff Larry Dean if beyond just
naming his militia after the Book of Exodus, he was also motivated by an
expectation of the rapture by the end of days, Sheriff Dean declined to
comment on that.
Joining us now is Frank Schaeffer, author of “Crazy for God” and
a blogger for “The Huffington Post.” Mr. Schaeffer, thanks very much for
joining us tonight. I appreciate your time.
FRANK SCHAEFFER, AUTHOR, “CRAZY FOR GOD”: My pleasure. Thanks for
having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: Operation Exodus draws its name from the Book of Exodus in
the Bible. The sheriff explains that in his press release. What do you
make of linking an effort like this to the Old Testament?
SCHAEFFER: Well, it‘s kind of symbolic because the Story of Exodus is
the Jews, the people of God fleeing an unjust ruler. So obviously, it‘s a
backhanded comment about the United States government, Barack Obama, what
And in my mind it links up with the sheriffs, who at the CPAC
meeting a couple weeks ago, took an oath to break the law and not follow
orders if they don‘t like what they‘re being told.
Really, what this is just another evidence of the fact that there
is a right-wing fringe in this country sometimes tied to militia movements,
sometimes tied to the religious right that I write about in my book “Crazy
for God,” sometimes just loonies who have essentially given up on the
United States government.
And let me just add as the father of a United States Marine who
served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I don‘t take kindly to looking at a bunch
of old white guys about my age with potbellies grabbing 50-millimeter
machine guns and putting them on pickup trucks to look like the technicals,
as they used to call them in Somalia, that a bunch of terrorists run around
and causing havoc.
It certainly doesn‘t make me feel safer. In terms of the
biblical tie-in, it‘s very obvious. We have an unjust ruler in Washington.
We don‘t believe in the system anymore and we‘re being called to another
place. I don‘t know where this is, maybe Florida or somewhere.
But these guys certainly aren‘t going to make anybody any safer.
They‘re just, you know, going to be in a big gun club and doing their thing
with some biblical expectation that they‘re somehow serving God by doing
this or fighting I don‘t know what.
It isn‘t terrorism they‘re fighting. They‘re just putting
together a little militia group here to flee the rulers they don‘t agree
with, I guess, in kind of the Dick Cheney America.
You know, we‘ve given up on our government protecting us. We say
the president is not doing his job so we give the .50 cal machine gun to
some old white guy on a pickup truck and some shotguns to good old boys and
guess they‘ll take care of it.
MADDOW: Well, you know, the name of this group, the sheriff
explaining he named it Exodus because of the Book of Exodus. It‘s one of
the things that most caught my attention about this and made me most want
to talk to you about it.
But it‘s not just the name of this militia group. When you get
into the details of it, it turns out that the sheriff is also planning to
use church facilities in the event of the kind of emergency that he
imagines that he‘d have to call out this group.
Do you think there is a broader effort to try to bring churches
and the militia movement together? And have you ever seen that before?
SCHAEFFER: Well, absolutely. Look, as you know, because you‘ve read
my book, “Crazy for God,” which is this story about how I came out of the
religious right and changed my mind and why I did that.
You know, ever since the 1970s, the link between the far right,
the religious right, the loony right and churches involved in everything
from the antiabortion movement to the secessionist movement to the
Christian school movement, home school movement, the re-constructionists
who believe we‘ve got to impose Old Testament law in the United States, you
know, it all ties in.
Now, it‘s not some big, nefarious plot. It‘s just a bunch of
very like-minded people, usually ignorant people, semi-educated rubes a lot
of the time who, you know, think somehow that if you load your basement
full of ammunition and guns and read the Bible dawn to dusk and home school
your kids and talk in big terms about, you know, Barack Obama having failed
us or not making America safe, that somehow, this is patriotism.
Actually, it‘s not patriotism. What it is, is a vote of a lack
of confidence in our military and our police. Look, we have institutions
to take care of national emergencies. They‘re called fire departments.
They‘re called the United States Marines. They‘re called the CIA and the
These are the people who represent our elected government whether
we always like what they‘re doing or not. If 200 people have to arm
themselves, basically, what they‘re saying is we don‘t believe in the
United States anymore. We don‘t believe in the military anymore.
The guys up at Parris Island tonight who are sweating away in
boot camp, like my son did, are wasting their time. We don‘t trust them to
do their job. And so, you know, we‘ll get some crazy old white coot on a
pickup with a .50 cal machine gun cruising his neighborhood to do god-
But calling it Exodus is just simply another way of linking it to
this Bible-based, re-constructionist, crazy movement in our country that
essentially has ceded from the union within our own nation as I talk about
in my book.
We have a bunch of people who don‘t believe in America anymore.
And the odd thing is they wrap themselves in the flag and call themselves
And you know, this is just crazy and of course it fits in with
this larger trend that you see, for instance, with the Blackwater people,
who - private army, run by a re-constructionist fanatic Christian guy who
have gone all over the world working with the CIA but not under the control
of a real government.
Well, this is just sort of the rube version of that on a smaller
scale. But as part of a larger trend and it bodes very ill for our country
and our democracy all joking aside.
MADDOW: Frank Schaeffer is the author of “Crazy for God.” Sir, thank
you for your time and your insight tonight. It‘s always a pleasure to have
you on the show.
SCHAEFFER: Hey, thanks a lot.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. According to Liz Cheney‘s latest, Justice
Department lawyers who defended Guantanamo prisoners in court before they
were in the Justice Department, they should now be known as the al-Qaeda
nine because clearly they‘re terrorist sympathizers.
We will take a tumble down that very, very slippery slope with
Liz Cheney, next.
MADDOW: Today, in Washington, Congressman Patrick Murphy held a press
conference to call for the repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.” Congressman
Murphy is a blue-dog Democrat, a freshman in Congress, and an Iraq war
veteran who was with the 82nd Airborne.
He has taken the lead in the House in the fight to repeal “Don‘t
Ask, Don‘t Tell.” On the Senate side, one of the most interesting things
about the effort to repeal “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” there is that it pits
Joe Lieberman, who‘s always been against the ban, against John McCain, who
is both Joe Lieberman‘s best friend forever and the Senate‘s leading
proponent of keeping the ban in place.
Sen. McCain is having a hard time of late in his advocacy to keep
the ban. Famously, he credited Colin Powell‘s opinion on “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t
Tell” as his main influence in supporting the ban.
When Gen. Powell changed his mind recently to oppose the ban
instead, that left john McCain in a bit of a pickle. But John McCain has
recently picked up another justification for supporting “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t
Tell.” It‘s a letter that he says he finds very convincing, a letter from
retired military officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): This is a letter signed by over 1,000 former
general and flag officers who have weighed in on this issue.
I think that we all in Congress should pay attention and benefit
from the experience and knowledge of over a thousand former general
officers and flag officers where they say, “We firmly believe that this law
which Congress passed to protect good order, discipline, and morale in the
unique environment of the Armed Forces deserves continued support.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John McCain has cited this letter over and over again. With
Colin Powell saying that he wants “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” overturned now,
this letter has gained sort of the anchor position among people who want to
keep “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell”.
Well, today the advocacy group, Service Members United, which
wants to get rid of the ban issued a report on what the letter really is.
It seems that the people who want to keep “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” may once
again be out of luck in terms of their reliance on this thing to make their
For example, it turns out that a number of the people who have
signed the letter are dead, which is awkward. The people who coordinated
the letter have explained that some of those signers signed the letter
before they died.
But there is an exception. In one case, a general who is now
dead had his name signed to the letter before he was dead but not by him.
It was by his wife. She signed the general‘s name to the letter saying
“Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” should be kept. The general himself before his
death had not been able to communicate for six years or so due to
Another general told Service Members United that he, quote,
“never agreed to have his name put on the letter but it ended up there
anyway.” Another said he doesn‘t remember even being asked about the
issue, let alone whether his name could be used. Another retired flag
officer whose name is on the letter is demanding that the group that put
his name on it take it off.
In total, the average age of the signatories to the don‘t repeal
“Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” letter is 74. The oldest signer is 90 years old.
As Service Members United notes, only a small fraction of these officers
have even served in the military during the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” period,
much less in the 21st century military, which does make it awkward for them
to be taken as the authorities on what the 19-year-olds of today‘s military
think about the gay.
It turns out there is more to this very problematic side of the
argument for keeping “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.” We‘ve got a little scoop on
the issue coming up on tomorrow‘s show at this time. You will not want to
miss that. Meanwhile, we‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN” tonight, Col. Larry Wilkerson on
Karl Rove‘s rewrite of the Bush administration rationale for the Iraq War.
And ahead on this show, the deepest, most serious, most far-reaching,
scary, world-altering conspiracy of all time. Thank you, Liz Cheney.
MADDOW: Liz Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick
Cheney. She is a former State Department official in her own right and she
is the white whale of the booking department on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.
She just absolutely will not entertain the idea of coming on this show even
though we ask her all the time and she does a lot of other TV.
Still, though, we live in hope and in that spirit, I want to tell
you what she‘s doing now. This is the latest “be afraid” salvo from Liz
Cheney‘s group Keep America Scared - I mean Keep America Safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The pendulum is starting to swing.
America run by progressives - it‘s about to happen. We‘re going to be
looking for people who share our values.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who did President Obama‘s Attorney General Eric
Holder hire? Nine lawyers who represented or advocated for terrorist
detainees. Who are these government officials? Eric Holder will only name
Why the secrecy behind the other seven? Whose values do they
share? Tell Eric Holder, Americans have a right to know the identity of
the al-Qaeda seven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Scary, right? Lawyers who represent Guantanamo prisoners are
essentially terrorists themselves. They are terrorist sympathizers at
least. Thanks to intrepid reporting by the Fox News Channel, naturally, we
now know the identities of the al-Qaeda seven.
They‘re all lawyers who now work for the government. But at some
point in the past, they played a role as advocates or attorneys for people
who were imprisoned with or without trial by the Bush administration.
The idea is that these newly-outed seven lawyers in addition to
two who did this kind of work that we already knew about - they‘re like a
sleeper cell inside the Justice Department.
I mean, they defended people suspected of terrorism. So they‘re
sort of suspected of terrorism, too, right? They defended people accused
of terrorism, so that means they sort of - they were defending terrorism
And it turns out that this is way bigger than just nine Justice
Department attorneys who Liz Cheney has ferreted out as al-Qaeda symps. It
turns out - it turns out - it turns out 34 of the 50 largest law firms - 34
of the 50 largest law firms in America have done work on behalf of
Thirty-four of the 50 - 34 of the 50 - 34 of the 50 biggest law
firms in America, they‘re al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda 34.
Even the law firm of Bracewell-Giuliani. Yes, that Giuliani is
in on this. A senior counsel for Bracewell-Giuliani, Carol Elder Bruce,
working right now on two habeas cases for terrorism detainees. Rudy
Giuliani‘s law firm. Nice, right? Terrorist sympathizers.
They‘re al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Giuliani. And a TRMS investigation
can reveal tonight this shadowy conspiracy goes much deeper. We can
confirm that members of the military‘s judge advocate general corps have
also defended Guantanamo prisoners.
Yes, it‘s true. People like Lt. Col. David Fratt(ph) who talked
about it in uniform right here on this program. We had an al-Qaeda member
on our show and the military turns out all of the al-Qaeda.
You know who else is a JAG in the military? Republican Senator
Lindsey Bin Graham of South Carolina. He‘s a JAG. JAGS have defended
prisoners at Guantanamo. Lindsey Graham is al-Qaeda.
And as we follow the al-Qaeda nuns trail, we uncover even more
frightening evidence of a vast conspiracy. One of them, Neil Katyal, right
now the principal deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration,
back in 2006, he won a big ruling in the case of Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin
Laden‘s former driver.
Who sided with him? Who did you did he win that ruling from?
The Supreme Court. Al-Qaeda. And it goes deeper. Katyal also co-wrote an
op-ed with Jack Goldsmith, an assistant attorney general during the Bush
administration arguing for a national security court to try terrorists.
Al-Qaeda, Jack Goldsmith - he was in the Bush administration
(UNINTELLIGIBLE). And now we find out he‘s in the al-Qaeda. Now, it gets
really scary. Neil Katyal also co-wrote an article defending attorneys who
take up the cases of Guantanamo prisoners from political attacks, defending
His co-author - I want you to prepare yourself. I‘m not kidding
here. His co-author was Ted Olsen. Oh, yes, the man who got the Supreme
Court to give the White House to President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Supreme Court again.
Whose values do they share? Are they the real al-Qaeda nine,
Clarence Bin Thomas? Hang on a second here. Think about all of this.
Jack Goldsmith - where‘s the Justice Department? Ted Olsen - where‘s the
solicitor general? The Supreme Court.
Do you see where this trail is leading? How can we avoid the
conclusion that President Bush was in on this too? He hired and knowingly
employed all of these al-Qaeda guys. He was commander-in-chief when all
those al-Qaeda military lawyers were defending all those Guantanamo
prisoners. Terrorist sympathizers all serving under George W. Bush?
How can we avoid the obvious conclusion that George W. Bush is
al-Qaeda? And if George W. Bush is al-Qaeda, he allowed to become the most
powerful vice president in history Dick Cheney. What, Dick Cheney wasn‘t
in on it? He must have been. He was there.
And if Dick Cheney is al-Qaeda, then - oh, man, Liz Cheney. It
all comes full circle. You see, she‘s picked the perfect cover. Who would
suspect the person calling out the al-Qaeda seven was herself al-Qaeda?
It‘s the perfect disguise. This is perfect. It was perfect. It was -
thank god we figured it out.
They‘re all in on it. They‘re all al-Qaeda. And if Liz Cheney
is part of this, then - oh, god, no! Oh, man. I‘m al-Qaeda, too. Oh, my
god. I didn‘t know. I didn‘t know.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Rachel Bin Maddow? Let‘s go. Come
on. Come on. We‘re going.
MADDOW: I didn‘t know.
JONES: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: Oh, god.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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