'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, April 1, 2010
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Guest: Julie Burkhart, Cory Booker, Kent Jones
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: And now to discuss the sentencing
hearing of murdered anti-abortion extremist Scott—the man who murdered
Dr. George Tiller, Scott Roeder—ladies and gentlemen, here is the
perpetrator of the greatest double reverse April Fools‘ Day joke ever, the
one in which she makes people think something isn‘t true, then she makes
people think the April Fools joke is the fact it isn‘t true—then she
makes people think the April Fools joke is the fact that people think it is
true, only it isn‘t, except it really is—Rachel Maddow. Only she made
me promise not to tell what the joke was.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. The whole reason my
parents had me, the whole reason I was given birth to in the first place—
MADDOW: -- was to bamboozle people about the date on which I was
born. That‘s the whole reason they had a child.
OLBERMANN: Well, I‘m not going to say anything to that, nor am I
going to say anything involving the word “happy.” Have a good show.
MADDOW: Thank you very much, Keith. You are very kind and clever.
Thanks to you at home as well for joining us tonight.
We‘ve got a lot coming up on the show tonight, but we are beginning
with this scene in a Wichita, Kansas, courtroom today. Just before the
judge sentenced to life in prison the man who murdered abortion provider,
Dr. George Tiller. The convicted murderer, anti-abortion extremist, Scott
Roeder, interrupted his own sentencing hearing today during the testimony
of a psychologist who was called to the stand by Roeder‘s own defense team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His logic, his reasoning was that he was following
PROSECUTOR: Through murdering which God condemns—
SCOTT ROEDER, CONVICTED MURDERER: To protect unborn babies.
PROSECUTOR: Your honor, I would ask—
JUDGE: Mr. Roeder—
ROEDER: I‘m talking—I just can‘t stand it—it‘s—
JUDGE: I don‘t care about you will be removed from the courtroom if
you don‘t settle down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After that, Mr. Roeder spoke on his own behalf for more than
40 minutes. As Cliff Judy, a Wichita TV reporter who is covering the trial
pointed out today, Mr. Roeder spent about 25 minutes of that time speaking
on his own behalf, reading from somebody else‘s book—reading from a book
written by a man named Paul Hill.
Who is Paul Hill? Paul Hill is part of the web of anti-abortion
extremist violence that appears to have inspired Scott Roeder to murder
George Tiller. In July, 1994, Paul Hill shot and killed Dr. John Britton,
and a 74-year-old clinic escort named James Barrett. He also injured James
That killing followed another killing, of Dr. David Gunn, who was shot
and killed by another anti-abortion extremist as he arrived at his
Pensacola, Florida, clinic in March of 1993. The man who killed Dr. Gunn
was named Michael Griffin. Michael Griffin was associated with a group
called Rescue America. Rescue America responded to Dr. Gunn‘s killing by
saying that while they didn‘t condone it, they certainly didn‘t condemn it,
The violence continued after that. In December 1994, an anti-abortion
extremist named John Salvi killed in two receptionists and wounded five
other people at two clinics in Massachusetts. In January of 1998, a
security guard named Robert Sanderson was killed, a nurse named Emily Lyons
was seriously wounded by a nail bomb that was set off an Alabama abortion
clinic. That bombed was set by Eric Rudolf, and who would also another
abortion clinic and a gay bar in Atlanta in 1997.
Eric Rudolph became famous, of course, for also bombing the Atlanta
Olympics. He killed one person and wounded 11 others.
In October of 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed inside his home—
inside his home in Amherst, New York. He was killed by an anti-abortion
extremist named James Kopp, who was armed with a sniper rifle.
And, of course, on May 31st of last year, Scott Roeder walked into the
Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, and shot and killed Dr.
George Tiller, while Dr. Tiller was serving as an usher for Sunday
In January of this year, Scott Roeder was convicted of premeditated
murder. He admitted during his trial that he had stalked Dr. Tiller for
years before killing him. Today, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in
prison without the chance for parole for 50 years. It‘s what‘s known in
Kansas as the “hard 50.”
The judge could have given Mr. Roeder a sentence that would have
allowed for parole eligibility in 25 years. The sentence he got, however,
the “hard 50,” means that 52-year-old Scott Roeder will very likely die in
At the sentencing today, perhaps the single most amazing thing about
it was when Scott Roeder called character witnesses. Scott Roeder called
character witnesses to urge the judge to give him the lesser sentence.
These witnesses sealed beyond a shadow of a doubt, Mr. Roeder‘s ties to the
broader extremist anti-abortion movement, the fact that this wasn‘t one
crazed guy acting alone, the fact that this was intended as an act of
Two of Scott Roeder‘s character witnesses were Regina Dinwiddie and
David Leach. Dinwiddie and Leach are both signatories to a document that‘s
called the Defensive Action Statement. That statement explicitly supports
the use of violence against abortion providers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REGINA DINWIDDIE, CHARACTER WITNESS: His heart was with the babies.
He was always cool, but he was never cold. But he‘s good, hard working,
productive member of this society who loves his country and doesn‘t belong
in prison, your honor.
DAVID LEACH, CHARACTER WITNESS: I think everyone will agree, he
honestly believed that he could do some good and he was willing to
sacrifice his own freedom and life itself for others. And I think everyone
here can agree with that, and yet, I also expect almost everybody here in
this courtroom will blanch if I say he was motivated by love. And yet
willingness to offer your life for others precisely meets the Bible‘s very
definition of love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the aftermath of Dr. Tiller‘s murder, the first person you
saw speaking there, Regina Dinwiddie, she told CNN that the murder was,
quote, “absolutely justified.” She told the “Associated Press” that she
was glad about George Tiller‘s death. She said at the time, quote, “I
wouldn‘t cry for him no more than I would if somebody dropped a rat and
For his part, David Leach publishes a newsletter that‘s called “The
Prayer and Action News.” It‘s a newsletter to which Scott Roeder
subscribed and submitted articles. After George Tiller‘s murder, Dave
Leach spoke to the “Associated Press” about Scott Roeder saying, quote, “He
will be the hero—he will be the hero to thousands of babies who will not
be slain because Scott sacrificed everything for them.”
He told the “Iowa Independent,” quote, “So far, the Bible discussion I
have seen overwhelmingly supports anyone willing to sacrifice everything in
order to physically stop an abortionist from killing thousands of babies.”
Last year, Dave Leach tried to auction off, among other things, “A
Prayer and Action News” army of God edition. He wanted to auction this off
to benefit Scott Roeder‘s legal defense. It‘s a handbook for using force
against abortion clinics.
When George Tiller was killed last year by Scott Roeder, it was not
the first time that he had been shot by people from this domestic terrorist
movement. In fact, Scott Roeder had said that he had visited a woman named
Shelly Shannon while she was in prison in Topeka, Kansas. She was in
prison for shooting George Tiller. She shot him in both arms in 1993.
Dr. Tiller knew exactly what he was up against with this movement.
This movement is determined to use force and murder to get its way. But he
believed in what he was doing. He thought it was important to provide the
service that he provided to women.
At his funeral, a giant floral arrangement spelling out Dr. Tiller‘s
motto was put up in the church. It spelled out “Trust women.”
Joining us now is Julie Burkhart, who worked closely with Dr. Tiller
for eight years. She now directs the Trust Women PAC. It focuses
specifically on doctors who provide the kind of services that Dr. Tiller
provided and the task of protecting legal access to those services across
Ms. Burkhart, thanks very much for joining us today.
JULIE BURKHART, TRUST WOMEN PAC: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for
MADDOW: What‘s your reaction to today‘s sentencing? Do you feel that
justice was served?
BURKHART: Well, I feel that the “hard 50” was the right sentence, and
Scott Roeder will, as he most certainly should, spend the rest of his life
in prison. This does not stop the anti-choice terrorism that physicians
and staff members face. And this certainly, most certainly, does not bring
back one of the most caring and compassionate men I‘ve ever known.
MADDOW: Scott Roeder clearly wants to be seen as a martyr to the
anti-abortion cause. I keep mindful of that when we play the statements
today from his—people who I would consider to be his co-conspirators in
the movement, who spoke on his behalf today. We saw it in him invoking and
lionizing other people who have killed abortion providers.
Are you worried that there‘s a risk that the resolution of this case
today could incite more violence—could spark more violence from these
BURKHART: Yes, most certainly. When you see anti-choice terrorists,
such as Scott Roeder, answering to another rule of law and not to the laws
that we have in the United States, I‘m afraid that it does. With the
inflammatory language that is used, “baby killer,” “murderer,” the use of
holocaust, this incites violence, and this is like yelling “fire” in a
MADDOW: I know that you worked with Dr. Tiller for eight years during
which time he was very cognizant of the physical threats that he faced.
What was that like to work in that kind of environment in which you knew
you were physically being targeted every day that you went to work?
BURKHART: Well, I would say that after a while you became—one
would become rather immune to that, or it was not something that one would
think about on a daily basis.
MADDOW: I know that Dr. Tiller‘s attorney talked about the impact of
his death being like an earthquake. He said it would leave women who
needed the services that Dr. Tiller provided to ask, “Where can I go, what
will I do.” What do you think the larger impact is of Dr. Tiller‘s murder
on the availability of the services that he provided?
BURKHART: Well, we‘ve found that women across the state of Kansas,
across the United States, around the world, have been without care. There
are now just a small handful of physicians left here in the U.S., a few in
the west, and one in the Midwest, who are now providing care.
MADDOW: When you say that, it makes me feel like the campaign of
terrorism—I consider it terrorism, I know that‘s a very loaded term—
to shut down availability of this legally-protected service in this country
has been effective, that they haven‘t been able to do it legally but
they‘ve done it practically. Do you—do you feel like that‘s true?
BURKHART: I do. If you look at the number of physicians who are now
offering abortion services across the United States, the number has
dwindled. We see an aging population amongst abortion providers. Also, a
couple of the physicians who are now practicing in another state, the anti-
choice organization Operation Rescue has vowed to go and try to shut them
So, I think this is a real and true threat to physicians across the
MADDOW: What‘s the best way to fight back?
BURKHART: I think the best way to fight back is that we have to have
boots on the ground in states, all the states across the U.S.—states
like Oklahoma, Mississippi, Nebraska—where legislators are working on a
daily basis to roll back women‘s rights. We have to work to change the
language that permeates our society, such as “baby killer” and “murderer.”
Those are not acceptable terms and that does not describe physicians who
are providing reproductive health care services.
MADDOW: Julie Burkhart, head of the Trust Women PAC, worked with Dr.
George Tiller for eight years—I know this is a hard time to talk.
Thanks for joining us tonight.
BURKHART: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Pulitzer Prize winning “Washington Post” columnist, Gene
Robinson will be joining us in just a moment.
And later, the embarrassment and potential tax and ethics problems for
C Street and the members of Congress who live there. Those problems have
just gotten a lot worse very quickly.
Stay tuned. Big news ahead.
MADDOW: For almost a year now, we have been telling the story of C
Street and the politicians who live there and meet there and at least in
one case, canoodle there. Tonight, there is an independent ethics
complaint about the house and its tenants that is starting to rumble in the
home districts of the C Street congressmen. We got details coming up.
Again, this is a big news.
Please do stay with us.
MADDOW: As we‘ve just reported, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in
prison today for the murder of abortion doctor, George Tiller. One way to
put what he did in context is to talk about all the other violence that has
characterized the extreme anti-abortion movement that he was associated
with. But there‘s another thing about Scott Roeder that puts him and what
he did into a slightly different but related context.
Scott Roeder‘s arrest record emerged after he shot Dr. Tiller. It
gives you some perspective on what else Scott Roeder was both interested in
and involved in. In 1996, Scott Roeder was stopped by police for not
having a license plate on his car. Instead of a license plate, he had a
little tag affixed to his car that asserted that his car was sovereign
private property. When police searched the car, they found bomb-making
components in his trunk.
Now, at the time, Scott Roeder‘s father told a local newspaper that
Roeder had become involved with an anti-government group. That same year,
in an interview conducted by fellow anti-abortion extremist, Dave Leach,
one of the people who testified on Roeder‘s behalf today, Scott Roeder in
this interview with Dave Leach, was introduced as a member of the Montana
Freemen, an anti-government extremist group associated with the militia
In that interview 14 years ago, Roeder talked about things like the
difference he saw between God‘s law and man‘s law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROEDER: I think it comes down to our God-given rights. And one of
those is the God-given right to travel. And what the state has done is
turned that into a privilege to drive, and how they do that is through our
driver‘s license, when we sign for a driver‘s license.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, yes, so you can see Roeder as an anti-abortion extremist.
You can also identify anti-abortion extremism as one branch of the broader
movement of violent, militant, anti-government extremism in this country.
We associate that movement with the early and mid-‘90s, which is when that
tape of Scott Roeder that you just saw was filmed.
But just in the last 18 months since President Obama took office, a
white supremacist shot and killed a security guard in an attack on the
Holocaust Museum in Washington.
An anti-tax extremist flew a plane into a building in Texas that
housed an IRS office. He killed an IRS worker.
Nine suspected militia members arrested for allegedly plotting an
attack on police officers as part of a war they wanted to wage against the
United States government.
A Tennessee white supremacist convicted of plotting to kill President
Obama near the end of the presidential campaign in ‘08.
And, of course, there‘s Scott Roeder killing Dr. George Tiller.
And, of course, there‘s the wave of threats and property damage
against members of Congress after the health reform bill passed.
Is it helpful to find the connections between these disparate acts, to
understand what American extremism is now? Or are these all individual
crazy people with no connection to politics, no connection to each other,
no connection to a broader movement or to the broader country at large?
What‘s the better way to understand this and is this stuff going to stop?
Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist
and an associate editor for “The Washington Post.” He‘s also an MSNBC
Gene, thanks very much for being here.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be here, Rachel.
And happy April Fools‘ Day.
MADDOW: You can just say happy Thursday, if you want. That works.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
In—the questions that I asked there at the end of my intro are sort
of the questions that I have for you. I mean, is it useful to find
connections between these admittedly disparate acts? Does that help us
understand extremism and help try to stop it?
ROBINSON: Yes, these are—number one, yes, these are all individual
crazy people, but number two, they are operating in a context.
And if you—if you look at what the groups, like the Southern
Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and, indeed, the Justice
Department and the Department of Homeland Security are saying, we are
seeing an increase now, kind of resurgence of this far-right, militant
militia style, anti-government activity. It‘s bubbling out there, and it
seems like the temperature has been turned up.
MADDOW: In terms of that environment, what creates that environment?
Is it literally just the ambient politics in the country? Or are people
who are in positions of authority stoking this, either knowingly or
unknowingly, in a way that‘s really directly affecting how encouraged these
people are toward extremist acts?
ROBINSON: I think—I think both. I think it‘s irresponsible, I
believe, for a national political figure to put on her Facebook page,
Republicans, “Don‘t retreat, reload,” and then mark the various
congressional districts with crosshairs of a rifle scope as Sarah Palin
did. It was irresponsible in my view of Republican members of Congress to
come out on the balcony of the Capitol of the weekend the health care was
being passed and encouraged and kind of whipped up the tea party crowd that
was outside, in the way that they did.
Of course, it‘s fine for them to be against health care reform.
That‘s the way our democracy works. Some people are for it, some people
are against it.
But the stuff at the margins, at the fringe, on the far right, that is
where the threat of political violence in our society comes now. It wasn‘t
always like this.
Back in the 1970s, it was all coming from the left. You had the
Weather Underground. The first big story that I covered was the trial of
Patricia Hearst who had been kidnapped and then co-opted by Symbionese
Liberation Army. They‘re just as incoherent and apocalyptic as the Hutaree
But that was then and this is now. I mean, they‘re just not
responsible, or true, I think, to say, oh, well, there are crazies on both
sides and just kind dust it off. In fact, the threat of that sort of
violence comes almost exclusively right now from the right—the far
MADDOW: Gene, one of the issues and maybe this is a semantic issue,
but it‘s one that I think—I think it matters. And that is, you know,
Dr. Tiller‘s attorney today called his murder “domestic terrorism.” I, in
my last segment, described it as something that I believe is terrorism.
Do you—do you think that acts of violence like this that for a
political purpose, the way this was, should be called domestic terrorism?
Does it matter? Is that an important distinction? Is that just—does
that just raise the temperature without shedding any more light on things?
ROBINSON: Oh, well, I do think it‘s domestic terrorism. I think by
any sort of definition, it is not only political in nature, it is—it was
designed to frighten and intimidate others from performing legally-
protected medical procedures. I think, sure, it was terrorism in my book.
And, now, I am not sure that ultimately—you know, if you don‘t want
to call it terrorism, that‘s fine. Just keep an eye on these people.
That‘s what I ask, and what I think the FBI, frankly, has been doing a
pretty good job of, at least in terms of militias. You saw that the
Hutaree people got rolled up just as they were planning some sort of
activity in April.
What concerns me is not just the militia that we know about, but the
people who are out there that we don‘t know about, that authorities don‘t
know about. And again, as the temperature gets turned up against—on all
the rhetoric, the invective, the anger, one worries about the effect it‘s
having on these people who are kind of out there in the woods by
themselves, or by twos and threes and haven‘t really come on the radar
scope of authorities yet.
MADDOW: Absolutely. Smart point.
Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, associate editor
for “The Washington Post”—it‘s always great to have you on the show,
Gene. Thank you.
ROBINSON: Great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, “The Interview” tonight, it‘s one of the most effective
mayors in the country, the honorable Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, who
is here on what turned out to be a very good night for him and his city.
It‘s good news. It‘s big news and that‘s next.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, some people use their Twitter accounts to circulate stuff
they found online that they want other people to see. That‘s mostly what I
use mine for.
Some people use their Twitter account to promote things they‘re doing.
I do some of that, too.
Some people use it for pure entertainment value.
And then there‘s Newark, New Jersey‘s mayor, Cory Booker. Quote, “So
many parks being built in Newark. Here‘s to my county executive Joe D.,
Essex executive. He‘s my passionate prodigious park producing partner and
That‘s the mayor saying that. He tweets practical stuff like a link
to an article explaining the health reform bill, links to his reelection
But he also, out of the blue, posts things like this quote from
Edison: “Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of
progress.” Or this from Sidney Howard: “One half of knowing what you want
is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” Or this one from
Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it‘s done.”
Newark, New Jersey, is a city that knows something about impossible.
Newark also knows something about getting things done that seemed
Here‘s what Cory Booker tweeted last night and why he is here as
my guest, now, quote, “We did it. First calendar month without a murder
Joining us now is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. In the mid-
1990s, Newark was called the most dangerous city in America. Newark just
went without a single murder for one calendar month, the month of March.
This is the first time that has happened in Newark in 44 years. Mr. Mayor,
CORY BOOKER (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: It‘s good to be here.
My Twitter followers will kill me if I don‘t say happy birthday. How can I
ever be invited back now?
MADDOW: No, it‘s fine. That‘s fine. I tried to cancel a birthday
this year, but it didn‘t work. Thank you.
All right. This milestone is an amazing achievement. Your
police chief credits an emphasis on fighting the drug trade in Newark and
smarter policing. What do you think? How do you understand how this has
BOOKER: Well, policing is one part of it and we have men and women
putting their heart and soul out there to use strategies, new technology,
more feet on the street. But we really believe in Newark, it‘s got to be
two things. And the other has got to be more programs for people coming
home from prison because we‘re the land of the free.
But we lock more folks up, and then, when they come out we create
every disincentive for them to reengage and every obstacle for them to
succeed. We have a 65 percent recidivism rate. And in Newark, with the
housing programs we have driven that down to less than five percent that
we‘re very proud of.
Fatherhood programs, pro bono legal services for guys coming home
and having a lot of success there. We really invested a lot of resources
in summer jobs for kids and other activities.
So it‘s really got to be a full comprehensive effort. And the
best thing that‘s happened to us as Newarkers is residents are stepping
more and more to say no more. They‘re using all anonymous tip lines.
They‘re organizing block associations.
We even had one block in a dangerous neighborhood that organized
men and women in their community to walk together at - late at night when
crime was most happening to protect their own neighborhoods and their
And my favorite one is a guy that used his stimulus check to buy
a lawnmower to go on a drug turf where the guys were hanging out and
selling narcotics and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to just start mowing the lawn and
manicuring it. He made it look so beautiful eventually, the drug dealers
So I have a great city of great people standing up and standing
together to make the American dream come true.
MADDOW: It is - as you say, it‘s more than just policing. Policing
and public safety efforts specifically have been comprehensive and it‘s
about the police as well. You are known for sometimes going out with
police patrols late night in your city.
Why do you do that? How does that help? What do you get out of
that? How do you think it affects what‘s going on in the city in terms of
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I think that the police officers, if
you‘re going to try to break a culture and really get your police to
understand their importance, you have to be out there.
And I‘ll stop police officers, which gives a young African-
American male in America great pleasure to pull a cop over and have a
conversation and say, “Look, you‘re the most important agent in our
democracy right now,” because there‘s too many Americans who have resigned
themselves that there will be streets you just can‘t walk down on certain
They‘ve surrendered this country to forces we don‘t believe in.
So - but what they do, they can make people believe again and expand the
moral consciousness of our country.
And when you start putting individual actors and letting them
know how important they are, it‘s really ramped up productivity in our
city. All police officers are doing things that to me are now I‘m in awe
Well, I began going out all the time at night with - checking on
police. Now, I‘ve actually shifted to going out with the residents, asking
them to drive and patrol with me on safety patrols.
We‘ve gotten more clergy, teenagers, senior citizens who go out
in cars with me and drive around the neighborhoods just letting folks know
that these streets belong to us. We‘re not surrendering them to anybody.
MADDOW: You‘re up for reelection now. Taking that thing for granted,
but if I were a betting person, I would bet that you are going to be
If you are reelected, are you looking at your next term and
saying, “More of the same. What we‘re doing is working. We need to make
sure these gains are held”? Or do you have new initiatives, new proposals
BOOKER: We have new initiatives, new proposals. And we‘re always
scouring the country, frankly, because we can all learn from each other,
for great models.
There‘s a phenomenal professor at John Jay College we set up in
our office with - this week actually, to talk to him about strategies that
are not about arresting people that are involved in the drug trade and
narcotics trade, but doing early interventions with them.
And so this radical success in places happening in places like
High Point, North Carolina that even exceed what we‘re doing in Newark.
And so to me, that‘s the way you stop crime, because police, at the end of
the day - they only treat the symptom of the problem. They don‘t treat the
And the root problem is making sure every American has a pathway
to opportunity and to success. And we can do that no matter where you are,
from Detroit to Newark, from Beverly Hills to Summit, New Jersey - every
place can reflect our values.
And my only frustration is we in America too often in our
inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something.
And we get caught up in what I call a state of sedentary
agitation, when sit back and watch TV, getting upset at what‘s happening.
We don‘t realize that all of us can do things to create radical
transformation. In Newark, we really want to be the place that shows that
MADDOW: As the mayor of the largest city in New Jersey, though - I
mean, the thing that‘s sort of looming here, and people around the country
looking at you right now saying, “Oh, he seems quite together and he‘s
getting some results, seems like an interesting young politician.”
The thing that makes people feel like things can‘t be done
through government is not just that we‘re sedentary in our agitation, it‘s
that five of the last seven mayors of Newark were criminally indicted.
I mean, public corruption, in terms of urban politics, it‘s the
kind of thing that we put out State Department reports for other countries
MADDOW: Why has it been so bad, and what will stop it?
BOOKER: Well, at the end of the day, you‘re going to get government
you deserve. This ultimately is a democracy. And what people often do is
they get so fed up with politics that they seed the field and say, “I‘m not
even going to get involved.”
And we have just chronically low turnouts in urban areas. And so
really, my challenge to people is if you really want to make a difference,
if you want change, you‘ve got to be the one that makes it.
And you have a choice in life. You and I both do it. Every
morning of your life, you have a choice to accept conditions as they are or
take responsibility for changing them.
If you‘re not willing to take responsibility for changing
government, for changing crime and violence, for changing education and
just continue going about doing what you do, then you deserve the results
But if you‘re one of those people like the great Americans who
literally, you know, bled this soil red for us, who put sacrifices for
workers‘ rights, for women‘s rights, for civil rights, if you want to
continue not just being a person who drinks deeply from wells of freedom
that you didn‘t dig, but to prove worthy of that by getting involved, then
you can change this country.
It is so possible. That‘s what we‘re trying to say to folks.
And we celebrate those individual heroes of hope in our city that are doing
that every single day. We haven‘t changed Newark because of a mayor.
We‘ve changed Newark because of a lot of people coming together to do the
things people don‘t normally do. And that‘s why we‘re getting the results
that people don‘t normally get.
MADDOW: Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, celebrating public
safety milestone, hopefully one of many.
BOOKER: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: It‘s great to see you, Cory. Always good to see you.
BOOKER: All right.
MADDOW: There is conflict to report between the U.S. Navy and high
seas pirates. Pirates - there‘s an old saying about tugging on Superman‘s
cape and all the reasons you don‘t do it.
And later, a mudslide of new ethics investigations dogs the
congressman and senators who live at C Street in Washington. That is
But first, one more thing. For all the very serious news there
is in Cory Booker‘s life and the seriousness with which he takes his job as
mayor of Newark, can I show you the single best Cory Booker tweet of the
Here it is, “Forgive me but a bit of Passover humor. Question,
what do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction?
Answer, a matzochist.”
Cory Booker, for a good reason, is a widely admired politician.
I‘ve known him for many, many years. So I can also tell you in no
uncertain terms that he is also a giant goober. And I mean that in the
best possible way.
BOOKER: Proud to be one.
MADDOW: We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Coming up on - coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith looks at the
hedge fund managers making billions of dollars on the backs of the bailout.
And on this show, the RNC‘s week started with an embarrassing
bondage nightclub scandal. Turns out that was the highlight of their week.
But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.
Imagine you‘re a Somali pirate, a pirate from Somalia. Your M.O. is that
you attack ships. You try to take them over. You hold the ships for
Generally, we‘re talking tankers and cargo ships. We‘re thinking
bigger the ship, bigger the likely ransom, right? Last night, at about
midnight, a group of three Somali pirates in a small boat saw a really big
boat on the horizon. They couldn‘t quite make out what it was. It was
midnight after all, but they decided let‘s take a crack at it.
And oh, it turns out the boat they went after was a U.S. Navy
guided missile frigate, the USS Nicholas. Couldn‘t see. It was dark.
This all happened west of the Seychelles, a group of islands way, way, way,
way off the coast of Somalia.
The USS Nicholas had been tracking the pirates. They returned
fire after the pirates fired on them. Sailors from the Nicholas then
boarded the pirates‘ skiff. They arrested the three pirates. They sunk
pirate ship. They located the pirate‘s mother ship nearby which had
another two pirates onboard.
U.S. sailors arrested those other pirates, too. They took the
mother ship into custody, and that whole “it‘s not just a job, it‘s an
adventure” thing, turns out that‘s exactly accurate about the Navy.
So no one was injured. The pirates have learned a do not mess
with the U.S. Navy lesson, again. And now, the issue at hand is that the
USS Nicholas has five pirates on board - on board right now in boat jail.
I‘m sure there‘s a better name for that than boat jail. I‘m sure
there‘s some awesome naval term. I just couldn‘t figure out what it was.
The last Somali pirate we took into custody is on trial in New
York. Others have been sent to Kenya to face trial in the past. Even
though the pirates are Somali, they can‘t really be sent to Somalia because
Somalia hasn‘t had a functioning government for 19 years. So for now, at
least while the USS Nicholas is still at sea, boat jail it is.
Also the greatest lost and found story since “Homeward Bound”
came to an end today. On January 1st, 1804, the great nation Haiti
declared its independence from France. This bold proclamation was
delivered as a speech by Haiti‘s revolutionary leader.
This speech was printed as an eight-page pamphlet. And then, in
a very sad twist of fate, every known copy of it disappeared. For the next
200 years, the Haitian Declaration of Independence was reprinted in
newspapers and in handwritten duplicates. But the actual document itself,
the actual, original eight-page pamphlet, the physical representation of
Haitian independence was lost.
This year, in February, about a month after Haiti was devastated
by the earthquake there that killed hundreds of thousands of people, a 26-
year-old Duke University grad student was combing through Britain‘s
The student‘s name is Julia Gaffield. She was at the archives
following a lead she picked up in Jamaica. The lead panned out. And
there, in the middle of a book of Jamaican records, was a yellowed eight-
page pamphlet. The eight-page pamphlet. Haiti‘s original declaration of
It was originally made into pamphlet form so it could be sent
out, sent out around the world so people everywhere could see why
colonialism just was not cutting it for the Haitians.
We have posted a link to it at the Maddow blog today so you can
see it. It is actually a really amazing thing, even if you don‘t speak
French. You know, the United States is the oldest independent nation in
the western hemisphere. Haiti is a very close second.
They say at the very top of the declaration of independence
“liberte ou la mort.” For us, it‘s “Give me liberty or give me death.” Us
and Haiti, we‘re like this. We always have been.
MADDOW: I feel a little awkward bringing this up. But I feel I have
to say thank you. On the occasion of my birthday today, fans of the show
organized to get people on twitter to post my name, the little hash tag
symbol and then Maddow, to post it often enough online that my name would
get listed as a trending topic on Twitter.
So people did that all day long today and it worked. At one
time, I was right there under what a fool, hash tag “what a fool” for April
I did not organize this in any way. It was a nice thing that
people who watch the show did for me and the show. And I just want to say
thank you. You guys are very, very nice people. It was very nice. Thank
My offering to thank you is Kent. Modeling the new “not running
for Senate against Scott Brown” t-shirt which I got as a present from our
great cameraman Michael Young today. Not available in stores. Thank you,
Kent. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: So it‘s only Thursday. Still one more day until the weekend.
But this has already turned out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very
bad week for anyone associated with C Street, the lavish 12-bedroom, nine
bathroom town house in D.C. run by the secretive religious group known as
The Family, which is home to a number of members of Congress.
Today, the “New York Times” published new details about Sen. John
Ensign, a former C Street resident and who was allegedly trying to pay off
his mistress by securing a job for her husband.
These details come from a federal criminal inquiry now that‘s
underway into Mr. Ensign‘s actions. The latest twist involves Sen. Ensign
changing his earlier story about his involvement with a Nevada company that
has been subpoenaed in his case.
That, however, is not the only investigation problem Mr. Ensign and
his fellow C Streeters have on their hands right now. Now, you may recall
that on Tuesday night, on this program, we talked about a complaint filed
with the IRS that members of Congress who lived at C Street may have
committed tax violations if they didn‘t disclose that their rent was
subsidized by The Family while they lived at C Street.
When we reported that on Tuesday, we told you this was a
developing story. We were not kidding. Today came yet another call for an
investigation into the allegedly subsidized rent at C Street. The ethics
watchdog group, CREW - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
- CREW filed their own complaint with Senate Ethics Committee and the
Office of Congressional Ethics over whether this allegedly subsidized rent
violated the gift rules that govern members of Congress.
These Congressmen were reportedly paying way below market value
rent to live in pretty posh digs. CREW writes, quote, “Few Americans are
lucky enough to have landlords who accept below-market rent while also
offering housekeeping and meal service. One cannot help but wonder exactly
what the congressmen have done for C Street Center, Inc. in return for this
largesse. This, of course, is the reason for the congressional gift
prohibition in the first place.”
Since our reporting of those allegations on Tuesday, we have been
contacted by a Capitol Hill source who wanted us to identify him as a
person close to C Street. This Capitol Hill source told us, quote, “Your
reporting will have more credibility if you ask these questions of 535
members of Congress and remove the religious and political bias behind your
I appreciate the anonymous shot across the bow, brave, anonymous
Capitol Hill C Street source. But the way this is heating up, you probably
are going want to have something better than that.
The allegations against C Street residents are bipartisan. We
have been asking the same questions to the Democrats and to the Republicans
who lived there.
There‘s not political bias here at all. And while there‘s no
religious bias involved here either, this is to some extent a story about
religion. It‘s about a secretive religious organization operating a
boarding house for members of Congress which it calls a church and then
using that fake church tax status to subsidize these congressmen‘s rent and
keep it secret.
If there are other members of Congress living in fake churches
receiving subsidized rent, we would love to know them, too. Really, we‘re
all ears. But so far, it‘s all C Street.
Earlier this week, we contacted every current member of Congress we
know of who either lives at C Street or has reportedly lived there in the
past. So far, only two of these members of Congress have gotten back to
us, Congressman Mike Doyle and Sen. Tom Coburn.
And while the other members of Congress might want to ignore our
questions about this, they should probably know that constituents in their
own states and districts are starting to take notice.
Here‘s just a sampling of headlines just from today, “Brownback
named in complaint about C Street House.” “Ethics complaint filed against
C Street; names DeMint.” “John Ensign faces ethics complaint over
apartment rent rate.” Now, this one - “Ethics watchdog files complaint
against Stupak.” Oh, here‘s another, “Ethics watchdog group files
complaint against Wamp and Shuler over C Street rent.”
So these members of Congress can feel free, of course, to dodge
our questions as long as they want to. But it may not be just us asking
these questions for too much longer.
MADDOW: So earlier this year, the Republican National Committee put
me on their mailing list for some reason. They sent me one of those
fundraising letters they did that was a fake census form.
Receiving that made me think a lot of things, but it mostly made
me wonder about the RNC‘s much-touted micro-targeting program for their
mailing list. It turns out their wildly bad aim for their mailing list
targets - me, really, guys? It turns out that I was the least of their
problems. We turn now to our RNC face plant correspondent, Kent Jones.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, it wasn‘t just the C
Streeters that had a bad week. Michael Steele and the Republican National
Committee also had their worst week ever this week.
MADDOW: Yes, yes.
JONES: They should cut their losses and take tomorrow off. Take a
(voice-over): It started at Voyeur, the super-classy bondage bar
where we learned that the RNC dropped nearly $2,000 for a Young Eagles
party. Welcome back, fiscal conservatism.
Then, Sarah Palin said she won‘t be attending an upcoming RNC
fundraiser in New Orleans even though she is listed as an invited speaker.
Sarah‘s team has twice asked the RNC to take her name off the list. RNC, I
think you‘ve been un-friended.
Then, there‘s American Crossroads, a new and rival group founded
by former Republican officials that are hoping to elect GOP candidates this
fall with money siphoned from potential RNC donors.
Possible slogan, “Give us your money. We won‘t buy table
dances.” And the super-conservative Family Research Council is also
bailing on team Steele. Said honcho Tony Perkins, quote, “I‘ve hinted at
this before, but now I am saying it. Don‘t give money to the RNC.”
Wow. I‘ve never seen Tony Perkins so mad at people who weren‘t
gay. Then, there‘s the awkward fiscal mess surrounding Michael Steele‘s
co-chair. Records show that a consulting headed by the co-chair‘s daughter
had received $13,000 in RNC money for speechwriting over the last six
months. The topic of today‘s speech is nepotism.
And finally, when the RNC does manage to get out a fundraising
letter, the toll-free number listed leads you to this message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey there, sexy guy. Welcome to an exciting new
way to go live, one on one with hot, horny girls, waiting right now to talk
JONES: Mr. Steele, look at it this way. At least someone is waiting
to talk to you.
MADDOW: You know, the RNC, after that came out today - they said -
they put out a response to it.
MADDOW: Like, oh, this is how things are going to be debunked. Now,
the response to the co-chair‘s daughter getting the speechwriting money -
MADDOW: Was that the speechwriting was not for Michael Steele‘s
personal speeches that he‘s been doing on the side for his moonlighting on
top of his RNC gig.
JONES: Oh, yes.
MADDOW: They want to clear that out.
MADDOW: He‘s scot-free now.
JONES: Oh, brother.
MADDOW: Thank you very much, Kent. I appreciate it. That does it
for us tonight. We‘ll see you again tomorrow night. “COUNTDOWN” with
Keith Olbermann starts right now.
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