'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, April 30th, 2010
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Guests: Eugene Robinson, Rep. Frank Pallone, Kent Jones
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Hey, guess where I am right now? No, really, guess where I am? This is C Street and this is the actual C Street house.
I had to be in Washington today for something totally unrelated but while I was here, I couldn‘t resist stopping by. Hi, you guys!
We have a lot more to come about C Street this hour. Plus, a lot more in the news. It‘s turned out to be a huge Friday news day here in Washington.
MADDOW (voice-over): As the enormous oil slick spreads across the Gulf on to the Louisiana shoreline, rescue crews apply dishwashing liquid to the first bird they found coated with oil.
Meanwhile, President Obama orders a freeze on new offshore drilling leases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘re going to make sure any leases going forward have those safeguards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Last month before this disaster, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey called offshore drilling an invitation to catastrophe. Tonight, Congressman Pallone is our special guest on rapidly U-turning politics of drill, baby drill.
Politics moving just as fast now on immigration. Nationally, the issue divides Republicans like almost no other issue. Democrats have finally realized that and they seem poised to take advantage before the midterm elections.
And our follow up fact-check of last night‘s interview with the head of the anti-immigration group that wrote “papers please.” He said this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN STEIN, FAIR PRESIDENT: First of all, we never gave that organization a dime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But our crack staff scoured the interwebs and researched and studied. Actually, now, we just checked their own Web site and found that, dude was flat-out, totally shamelessly uncomplicatedly lying. The full fact-check coming up tonight.
All that, plus Bill Murray and Emily Dickinson and construction workers. That‘s all one story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MURRAY, ACTOR: I dwell in possibility, a fairer house than prose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Plus, a healthy Friday dose of this. Oh, that‘s better.
It‘s Friday. It‘s THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, and did I mention it‘s Friday? This is going to be good. And it all starts right now.
MADDOW: For John McCain, it was meant to be a defining moment in his presidential campaign. The photographic evidence that he had, in fact, fully, enthusiastically flipped from his previous position against offshore drilling, that he was a drilling guy now, that he had openly embraced what would become a central if not the central promise of the Republican presidential ticket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: We will drill new wells offshore and we‘ll drill them now. We‘ll drill them now.
CROWD: Drill, baby, drill!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On July 24th, 2008, with the presidential campaign at a fever pitch, Senator McCain was scheduled to make a dramatic fly-in to an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana to tout the benefits of drill, baby, drill. It would be the energy equivalent of President Bush‘s aircraft carrier photo-op. But it didn‘t happen.
Instead of images of John McCain bonding with rough necks in the Gulf of Mexico, we got images of the John McCain at Schmidt sausage house in Columbus, Ohio, which actually seems like a very nice place. But it was not the “compete with Obama addressing Berlin,” in your face “drill, baby, drill” photo-op that the McCain campaign really needed at the time. The oil photo-op had to be canceled on very short notice in 2008. The McCain campaign claiming at the time it was of forecasts of bad weather. And, of course, it is possible that it was the weather forecast that worried John McCain‘s campaign.
But as the “New Orleans Times-Picayune” noted at the time, no one quite believed that that was really why the flight to the oil rig got called off. The “Times-Pic” said at that time, quote, “Besides the forecast for storms, it‘s also possible that the McCain campaign would not want to have McCain highlighting his support for increased drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf at a time officials are dealing with a spill of an estimated 9,000 barrels of diesel fuel into the Mississippi River.”
Yes, awkward to hold the pro-offshore drilling pep rally with New Orleans and the Mississippi River soaked in spilled petroleum product, stinking like a truck stop parking lot.
It was reality in that campaign—in the middle of that campaign, it was reality intruding horribly into otherwise convenient politics. That all happened during the presidential campaign of 2008, the campaign that brought us the presidency of Barack Obama who is now, as president, seeing his own oil politics of convenience swamped by horrible—in this case—deadly oil reality.
The president having announced his own “drill, baby, drill” intentions as part of an effort to pass comprehensive climate change legislation, not even a month before the Deepwater Horizon massive offshore oil rig exploded and sank 50 miles off the Gulf Coast. It‘s now spilling at least 210,000 gallons of crude oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, creating an oil slick bigger than the state of West Virginia. It‘s now washing up on the environmentally fragile Louisiana coast.
The cause of the initial explosion on the rig off the Louisiana‘s coast is still unknown, though there are multiple lawsuits already filed as a result of this incident—several against Halliburton, alleging that flaws in the cementing process that the Halliburton Company performed on the rig, led to the explosion.
As far as the cleanup from the spill, both federal and local officials are urging British Petroleum to do more. While there are containment booms ringing the coast line, bad weather and seven-foot seas are pushing the oil over the top of the booms and into wetland wildlife refuges along the coast.
Rescue workers have already found animals affected by the spill. The first patient was a young Northern Gannet. (AUDIO BREAK) bird‘s white feathers are now coated with black oil. Southerly winds are expected to push more of the spill toward land throughout the weekend.
The military, thus far, sent two C-130s to spray the oil slick with chemical dispersants. The Navy is sending booms, skimmers and contractors to mop up the surface spill.
The president has, thus far, sent to the scene the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, and head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson.
The president himself and his senior adviser David Axelrod today also announced that, in light of the disaster, don‘t expect many new drilling lease approvals any time soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: I‘ve ordered Secretary Salazar to conduct a thorough review of this incident and report back to me in 30 days on what, if any, additional precautions in technologies should be required to prevent accidents like this from happening again. And we‘re going to make sure that any leases going forward have those safeguards.
DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Well, let‘s understand what the president has said. All he has said is that he‘s not going to continue the moratorium on drilling, but he hasn‘t—no additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: To members of Congress from the president‘s own party, though, that‘s apparently not enough of a reassurance. A letter from four of New Jersey‘s congressional delegation, including both of that state‘s senators, today urged the president to change his mind on “drill, baby, drill.”
They said, “While we appreciate the White House‘s announcement that no additional offshore drilling will be authorized until a full investigation of the accident is complete, we urge you to go further and reverse your decision on proposed new offshore oil and gas drilling for the outer continental shelf. This catastrophe demonstrates exactly why no new drilling should proceed in any U.S. waters and certainly not in the Atlantic.
This incident exposes the many deficiencies in worker safety, blow out avoidance technology, and oil spill clean-up plans for operations in the outer continental shelf. We simply are not prepared to make our pristine New Jersey shoreline the next test case for the oil company‘s experiment in how to maximize profits and minimize regulations.”
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey.
He‘s one of the authors of that letter.
Congressman Pallone, thank you very much for your time tonight.
REP. FRANK PALLONE, JR. (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: I want to ask you about something that has actually just crossed the wires. The “Associated Press” is reporting that British Petroleum, in their exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for this well that‘s caused this huge spill, it‘s a 52-page plan, they repeatedly suggested it was unlikely or virtually impossible for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish, mammals and fisheries.
How damning is this incident and reports like this to the prospects of future offshore drilling in this country?
PALLONE: Well, it should be very damning because the bottom line is that these spills happen all the time. You mentioned a few earlier. There is a spill in the Gulf almost every month. Some are smaller, some are bigger, but they accumulate.
And the bottom line is, particularly when you go into the deeper waters like this case, I think it‘s 5,000 feet, there is no technology that can prevent a spill. And when we talk about the Atlantic coast, often times the drills would be even deeper.
The problem with this rig is that there‘s no way to prevent the oil from continuing to spill out. We could actually end up continuing to flow until there is no more oil in the drill site. So, there‘s no way to protect it.
That‘s why we think that the president should reverse his position, go back to the moratorium that was in place about two years ago, which basically said there would be no new leasing, no new exploration of offshore oil sites on the continental shelf, other than what had been approved or leased out earlier.
MADDOW: I think throughout the debate about offshore drilling, throughout the whole “drill, baby, drill” debate, through John McCain changing his position on that, through the ending of the moratorium, through the president‘s change of his position on these issues—I think through all of that, I do not think the American people understood that we approved drilling at depths where we don‘t know how to stop a leak.
MADDOW: We have replaced—we have approved technology, we‘ve approved them to use technology to drill places when we don‘t know how to clean it up. Is the fundamental politics of this, of this change? Do we need a whole new regulatory approach to offshore drilling or is all offshore drilling, essentially, politically at risk now?
PALLONE: I think there‘s no way to guarantee technologically that these deep water wells, if you will, are safe and are not going to, you know, cause this kind of a spill. As you say, you can‘t send an individual or person down there, it‘s too deep. It has to be all done with robots. And I think this rig was actually one of the newest and most advanced technology. Big oil is always saying, “Oh, don‘t worry, we‘ll have the technology that this won‘t happen,” and it happened in one of the most advanced technological wells.
So, I don‘t think it‘s possible to have any kind of safeguards and I think when the president said, oh, we‘re going to have better regulation, that‘s not the answer. It just shouldn‘t be done, and the problem is, it‘s this old-fashioned technology.
Today, we made the point, myself and the two senators, and another congressman, Holt, from our area, that really what we should be doing is moving towards renewable resources, windmills. You know, we live at the shore, but we like to see offshore windmills, solar power. This is—the renewable energy is really the way to go in the future.
And we shouldn‘t fall back on these—you know, on fossil fuels and assume that these technologies are going to work. They don‘t.
MADDOW: Congressman Pallone, I interviewed a commander from the Coast Guard a few nights ago on this show when the gravity of the spill was first starting to become known. And it struck me in talking to him, even as he described everything that the government was doing, everything the Coast Guard was doing to try to contain this and their heroic efforts, it struck me and he sorted admitted to the fact that the expertise in this field is not among the responders. It‘s not in the government. I don‘t think it‘s among the regulators either.
The expertise on this field seems to be in the industry and it seems like those of us who are responsible not just for getting oil out of the ground but those of us responsible for making sure it‘s done safely are actually sort of behind the technological curve. It reminds me of SEC regulators being over their head in trying to go after Wall Street firms that are engaged in complex financial instruments that the regulators don‘t quite understand.
Is there just a fundamental regulatory imbalance here?
PALLONE: Well, I think the problem is that the big oil companies have a lot of power in Washington and basically they say, “Oh, there‘s no problem, we can make sure that the regulation protects against spills.” They‘re not essentially telling the truth.
They influence the Congress. They influence the agencies, and they just have too much power. They‘re just another form of special interest like, you know, Wall Street or the insurance companies that have gone, you know, awry because of their power.
And something has to be done to sort of rein them in in the same way that you rein in the banks or Wall Street. And, hopefully, this spill will begin that process. Otherwise, we‘re going to continue to have more spills and more problems.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey—thanks very much for your time tonight, sir. Appreciate it.
PALLONE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Opponents of Arizona‘s “papers please” immigration legislation gained a big influential, high-profile ally today. You ever thought about how many Latinos are really big deal in Major League Baseball? Did you know that the Major League Baseball all-star game is supposed to be in Phoenix next year?
Pulitzer Prize-winning “Washington Post” columnist Gene Robinson joins us right here in studio next.
And, today, I went to C Street here in Washington, the C Street home of suspiciously low-rent for members of Congress. I brought a camera with me and I wore a really ugly shirt. Stay with us.
MADDOW: No disrespect meant to anyone who visits Washington to see the Lincoln Memorial or the Smithsonian, but how can you not go to the C Street house? John Ensign, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn—I went there today. I call it geeko tourism.
MADDOW: Today, exactly one week after she signed the “papers please” anti-immigration bill into law, Arizona‘s Governor Jan Brewer signed off on a package of amendments to the new law. That was quick.
The original law required police in Arizona to stop people who look like they might be in this country illegally and demand to see papers proving otherwise. The changes passed bar police from using race as a reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally—though still no one‘s come up with how exactly a police officer is supposed to know someone is an illegal immigrant just by looking at them.
The new changes also require police to be stopping someone for some other potential violation before they can demand to see immigration paperwork. These changes seemed at the outset and are being pitched by proponents of the law as a softening of this draconian measure.
But local reporters and critics of the bill say, in practical terms, nothing‘s really different. They point out the city and county ordinances that allow police to now demand to see someone‘s paper include things like proper lawn care and placement of garage sale signs—which means the new law still provides very, very, very broad authority and even encouragement for police officers to question people who they think look like they‘re in the country illegally. It still means you are presumed illegal in Arizona unless you can prove otherwise and you can still be detained if you can‘t prove otherwise.
Whether or the tweaks to the new bill will affect the opposition to it remains to be seen. The “papers please” law has already provoked a number of boycotts of the whole state, including by the Denver school district and the cities of San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota—all of which have banned work-related or publicly-funded travel to the state. An independent truckers group is also refusing to transport goods in or out of Arizona for five days.
According to the president of the University of Arizona, a number of out-of-state honors students have now decided to attend school elsewhere. And, of course, the “papers please” controversy has come just in time for pro-immigration reform May Day rallies which are planned for tomorrow in as many as 70 cities across the country. In Los Angeles alone, 100,000 people are expected at that event.
Meanwhile, the great national recoil over the Arizona law looks like it is motivating Democrats in D.C. to make a legitimate push for comprehensive reform. If you are a member of the Democratic leadership right now and you want to get at least one more big thing done in Congress before the midterm elections—which would you choose? Would you choose the climate bill?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, we‘re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration. My administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Would you choose the climate bill? Whose political viability hinged on the president folding in offshore drilling to get conservative support? You want to try to get that through now?
Or, if you‘re part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, do you want to try for immigration reform instead, in the wake of the “papers please” law that has shocked the conscience of the nation and has split the Republican Party right down the middle?
If you‘re in the Democratic leadership right now and you‘re thinking which big problem that needs fixing, do you want to try to get done before the election, do you pick the one that pits the Democrats against each other and the president and the—and the president against the party base and much of the country, or do you pick immigration, which more or less unifies Democrats and which puts Republicans at each other‘s throats, heading into the election?
Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, MSNBC analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor for “The Washington Post.”
Hi, Gene. It‘s nice to see you here in person.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Rachel, it‘s good to see you.
MADDOW: Do you agree with this idea that sort of anti-immigration overreach in Arizona and the disaster in the Gulf have allowed immigration to vault over climate on the D.C. agenda?
ROBINSON: Yes, for now. I mean, I don‘t know if it stays that way. Climate has become much more difficult now because of the oil spill and the offshore drilling.
Immigration—do they actually get immigration done? I think that‘s an open question. But I think the politics of working on an immigration bill look much better for the Democrats right now than they look for the Republicans. And since the Democrats are in charge of the agenda, I think they would like to push on immigration.
MADDOW: Do you—do you think, though, on climate, again, thinking about—I just imagine the Democratic leadership discussions about thinking which one they‘re going to try to do. I know they say they‘d like to do both but they‘ve got to at least got to pick one to go first.
How much of the climate legislation—how many votes that they were counting on depended on them folding in drilling? Did drilling actually—was drilling key to the political viability of climate change legislation?
ROBINSON: Well, it was—it was believed to be key in getting the votes they need to get through the Senate and to move on. Now—but, as you pointed out in the introduction, drilling was extremely controversial among the Democratic base.
ROBINSON: Will be more controversial now, offshore drilling—
MADDOW: Sure. They like to poke the base. They like to bother the base, the Democrats do—
MADDOW: -- to a certain extent.
ROBINSON: To a certain extent, yes. You don‘t—you know, you don‘t want to poke the base too much. And while the spill is still happening and the oil is still approaching the coast, that‘s not really a good time to talk about offshore drilling.
ROBINSON: And so, it‘s—so, certainly, you don‘t talk about that for the next little while. And meanwhile, immigration has become a big issue. The Democrats didn‘t have to do it, but the Republicans in Arizona did it for them.
MADDOW: Yes. And on the—in terms of what Arizona is doing—in terms of Arizona‘s actions affecting the national discussion, what do you make of Arizona‘s legislature and the governor amending the bill today? I mean, it seems to me that these changes are designed to take the heat off, but they probably won‘t. I think we‘re still in the “papers please” situation.
ROBINSON: Oh, I think, definitely, we‘re still in the “papers please” situation. You say, OK, we take race out of the picture, you can‘t use race as your sole motivation. There was already a provision in the legislation saying don‘t just use race or color or—
MADDOW: Well, don‘t solely use. You can use race and color.
ROBINSON: Right, exactly.
ROBINSON: But the point being that—what is the point of this bill, right?
ROBINSON: I mean, let‘s be—let‘s be realistic. And there‘s a provision that says, citizens can sue police if they‘re not aggressively trying to enforce this law—which is an outrageous and very weird kind of provision to have in a law. And I think a citizen could make a very good case that, you know, if you‘re really going to follow this law, if you‘re not out there looking for Mexicans, you‘re not aggressively pursuing it and therefore, you‘re going to—you know, it‘s a mandate for racial profiling.
MADDOW: And then we‘ve got the Tucson police officer announcing that he would personally sue to stop this law today. As a police officer saying that it puts him in a position that‘s untenable.
ROBINSON: It does. That police officer, the sheriff of that county that includes Tucson—
MADDOW: Pima County—
ROBINSON: Pima County, (INAUDIBLE), police in Arizona hate this law, and here‘s one reason. You have a hit-and-run accident. There are four guys in a car who happen to see the whole thing. Well, if two of the people in that car are illegal, as of when this law goes into effect, by the time the police get there to find out who committed the hit-and-run, they‘re going to be gone.
ROBINSON: They‘re absolutely going to be gone. Whereas now, there‘s
kind of a “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” understanding among police agencies there
that, yes, you can be a witness and they‘re not going to, you know, shake
you down for your papers. This changes the equation and police are
absolutely apoplectic about that
MADDOW: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor of “The Washington Post,” MSNBC analyst, and my pal—nice to see you, Gene.
ROBINSON: Great to have you here in Washington.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Last night I had a conversation, sort of, with Dan Stein, president of FAIR, the group that helped write Arizona‘s “papers please” immigration law. When not accusing me of getting my facts wrong, he said a bunch of things about his own organization that are demonstrably false. How false? Stick around.
MADDOW: Last night on the show, our guest for “The Interview” was a gentleman named Dan Stein. Dan Stein is president of the group FAIR, which helped write the new “papers please” immigration law down in Arizona. It‘s just been amended by the state‘s governor.
If you saw that interview last night, you might recall Mr. Stein telling me this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEIN: First of all, we never gave that organization a dime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We didn‘t give that organization a dime. I was asking him then about FAIR‘s support for a group called Protect Arizona Now. Dan Stein told us pointblank last night, quote, “We never gave that organization a dime.”
It should be noted that Mr. Stein was lying when he said that. If you go to his own organization‘s Web site, you‘ll find a press release which quotes Mr. Stein, Mr. “We Didn‘t Give Them a Dime,” saying, quote - this is great - “Every dime that FAIR and these other organizations have raised to obtain signatures for Arizona‘s Protect Arizona Now has been spent in Arizona to get signatures.”
Again, he told us, “We didn‘t give Protect Arizona Now a dime,” and on his own Web site, he‘s talking about every dime he gave them being accounted for. How many dimes exactly did Mr. Stein and FAIR give Protect Arizona Now that they‘re now denying?
If you go to Mr. Stein‘s own Web site you will find that, quote, “FAIR has committed $150,000 to help ensure that the Protect Arizona Now initiative is put before the state‘s voters in November.”
If you don‘t believe FAIR themselves on that number, you can also check their actual payments that were documented on the Arizona Secretary of State Web site. Quote - this is the official contribution filing from Protect Arizona Now.
You can see there - April 1st, 2004, $50,000 from FAIR. Same day, $50,000 from the FAIR Congressional Task Force. May 11th, 2004, $25,500 from FAIR; same day $25,000 from the FAIR Congressional Task Force. June 11th, $50,000 from FAIR; same day, $55,000 from the FAIR Congressional Task Force. A grand total of $255,500 paid from FAIR to Protect Arizona Now.
That‘s on the Arizona Secretary of State‘s Web site. It‘s in the
public record. But if you ask FAIR‘s Dan Stein about that -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEIN: First of all, we never gave that organization a dime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You‘re lying when you say that. That wasn‘t the only thing that we need to correct the record on from this segment that we did last night. I want to be clear here and to do so, I need to be a little bit blunt.
I did not say anything factually incorrect in our interview last night. Not that we could find any way in our big postmortem fact check that we did on the interview today.
But Dan Stein, president of FAIR, was my guest. And I have always believed that an invitation to be a guest on the show is implicitly an assurance from me to you, the viewer, that the person in my guest chair is worth listening to.
And so while I‘m not trying to be rude to Mr. Stein as a guest and I know FAIR likes to represent itself as a credible source of information on the subjects they work on, I do feel the need to correct the record on several statements Dan Stein made on the show as if they were facts that were actually flat-out lies or at least misleading.
In addition to him lying flat-out about funding that group, Protect Arizona Now, there was another sort of weird moment where Dan Stein denied ever saying something that he was reported to have said. Here‘s how it went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): In 1997, you did an interview with Tucker Carlson. And
he has asked you to respond to this quote from somebody else who is on
FAIR‘s board of directors. And the quote he asked you to respond to was
this, “It would be better to encourage the breeding of more intelligent
people rather than less intelligent. He said that in the context of -
STEIN: Tucker Carlson has already conceded -
MADDOW: Expressing his alarm about people in other countries reproducing too much.
STEIN: Rachel. Rachel -
MADDOW: Your response to that was - let me just finish the question and then you can answer. It works every night. I try it. Trust me. Your response was, “Yes, so what? What is your problem with that? Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible and not subsidizing those with high ones? Did you not say that without a misquote from Tucker?
STEIN: Rachel, no. I didn‘t say that.
MADDOW: It was a misquote?
STEIN: It was an absolute misquote. Tucker Carlson has admitted that most of the quotes in there were twisted in misquotes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The article with that quote that I just confronted Mr. Stein with was published in the “Wall Street Journal” in 1997. It does not appear that a correction was ever printed, nor does there appear to be, in any publicly available record, any retraction of those quotes by the author of that piece, who is Tucker Carlson.
Now, Tucker Carlson is somebody I used to work with here at MSNBC. He is somebody who I have a lot of respect for despite our political differences.
Today, we put in a message to Tucker‘s office to find out if he‘s ever admitted in some off-the-record venue that those creepy Dan Stein quotes were all wrong, even though he never, as far as we could tell, publicly retracted those quotes. That would have been a strange and out-of-character thing to do. Tucker‘s a real journalist and I would not expect him to operate that way.
So far, we haven‘t directly heard back from Tucker. I will let you know if we do. For what it‘s worth, Tucker‘s article, including those creepy, eugenics-y, Dan Stein quotes, was entered into the Congressional record by Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Also for what it‘s worth, Dan Stein agreed to appear on two different shows, hosted by Tucker Carlson in the years after Tucker supposedly so egregiously misquoted him. And at no time during those appearances did Mr. Stein reference Tucker egregiously misquoting him.
In addition to denying his own quotes, Dan Stein also attempted to deny an overtly racist quote that I cited from the founder of his organization, FAIR. The founder‘s name is John Tanton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): He has argued for the advancement of a European-American majority. He‘s warned white people not to cede power to other ethnic groups who breed more.
STEIN: Wait, wait, wait.
MADDOW: Wait, hold on.
STEIN: Where‘s the evidence of that? You made a statement. What‘s the source of that about him publicly advocating a European-American union?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was a European-American majority, not a European-American union. I think that was just Mr. Stein misspeaking. But the source of that Arian vision Mr. Stein is rarely aware is at the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Back in 1984, Tanton donated all of his personal files to that
library. As they put it, he donated 15 linear feet of his papers. Located
in Box 15 of this collection are 20 folders full of John Tanton‘s
correspondence, including this letter to a fellow member of FAIR
Quote, “I‘ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority and a clear one at that.”
Dan Stein‘s excuse for that sort of language last night was that that was decades ago. Who cares? It doesn‘t reflect FAIR now. But John Tanton, who is after all the founder of FAIR, the “we need a European majority guy” - he remains on FAIR‘s board of directors today.
And it‘s not just all racist-sounding rhetoric from FAIR‘s founder who is now a member of their board of directors. It‘s also the staff of FAIR, hired recently. This is not guilt by association, this is just guilt. FAIR decided to hire Joseph Turner to be their western region representative just a few years ago in 2006.
Mr. Turner is on record saying stuff like this. Quote, “I‘ll be damned if I‘m going to sit back and watch my state turn into a third world cesspool. I consider accusations of bigotry and racism to be complimentary.” And quote, “I can make the argument that just because one believes in white separatism, that does not make them a racist.”
That guy was on FAIR‘s payroll as recently as 2007. He‘s not a vague associate of FAIR from the distant past. He is FAIR, as was Rick Oltman, shown here at a White Citizens Council meeting. I‘m sorry, a Conservative Citizens Council meeting. I forgot they changed their name.
You want to see the Council of Conservative Citizens Web site? We showed you this last night, “Erectus walks amongst us” with a mock up image that some supposed to, I guess, be a cross between a black person and an ape.
Here again, Rick Oltman in his capacity as a FAIR employee at the “Erectus walks amongst us” Conservative Citizens Council along with Virginia Abernathy of the aforementioned Protect Arizona Now.
Again, this is not guilt by association, this is guilt. Saying FAIR is associated with its own founder, with its own board, with its own employees, with its own president who was our guest last night, is like saying - it‘s like saying, I‘m associated with Rachel Maddow.
If it matters to an understanding of FAIR‘s work, including writing Arizona‘s “Papers, Please” law, if it matters to an understanding of what they do that FAIR is connected with the really fringe white supremacist and white separatist movement in this country, the way you document that is by finding out if the group‘s founder and board and employees and president and funders and the people it funds are tied up in those movements.
And it turns out in FAIR‘s case, they really, really are. The white supremacist movement and white separatist movements in this country are not big movements. They are really fringe. They are really radical and frankly, they‘re really weird.
Being hooked up with people associated with that fringe of the fringe is not normal conservative politics. This is a tiny radical rump that‘s been around for a long time in American politics.
But it is what FAIR is all tied up in. The reason the new Arizona immigration law is a subject of national discussion is because it appears to be very focused on race. If you want to know if this Arizona bill is as much about race as it seems, it is germane to look at who wrote the bill and what their motivations might be.
FAIR has a moderate reputation, has a moderate mainstream reputation. But when your board of directors, your founder, your early funders, your president and your staff are all tied up with this far, far right, tiny rump, white supremacist and white separatist movement in this country, you are a lot of things but you are not mainstream.
And it ought to affect our national understanding about what this Arizona bill is and what it means.
MADDOW: So I‘ve been talking about C Street for months now. But today, I actually went there. It‘s a real place. Woohoo! A D.C. field trip.
But first, a few holy mackerel stories in the news today starting with two very different ways of ending discrimination in the military.
The U.S. Navy has with little fanfare officially ended its ban against women serving on submarines. The Navy announced its intentions to end the ban in February. Had Congress wanted to intervene to stop the Navy from ending the ban, they had until midnight Wednesday of this week to do so.
Congress let that deadline pass without a peep. The first group of 24 female officers expected to begin training this summer and to start serving on subs late next year. The first women will only be allowed to serve on the biggest subs like the one that NBC‘s Ann Curry got to check out this week.
Jealous. Things have not gone quite so smoothly for another military personnel ban. Today, Defense Secretary Bob Gates reported they warned Congress not to force the military to change the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy just yet.
He says he wants Congress to hold off on any action until the Pentagon finishes its year-long study of the issue. Gates‘ letter says, quote, “Changing the policy would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence, their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter.”
So women on submarines, we‘re making this change and we‘re making it now. Anybody mind? No. Good. Done. Gay people in the military? Well, no. Couldn‘t possibly. Wouldn‘t want to offend.
Next up, the Justice Department is investigating what it thinks might be a crime, a crime known in some circles as journalism. On Monday, “New York Times” journalist, James Risen received a subpoena, seeking information about his sources for a chapter in his book, “State of War,” a chapter that detailed a covert CIA operation involving an undercover agent and Iran‘s nuclear program.
This is not the first time that James Risen has been subpoenaed for his sources and has documents on this exact reporting. The Bush administration got a similar subpoena against him back in 2008.
Mr. Risen refused then as he is refusing now to comply, and the Bush administration subpoena expired. Now, the Obama administration‘s attorney general has revived it. Despite the fact this administration says it supports a federal shield law for journalists so they don‘t have to disclose their sources.
The House has approved a shield law but it is currently stalled in the Senate. You know the Obama administration might have a heck of an easier time making the case for a shield law, shielding journalists from this kind of harassment, if they themselves were not doing it.
And finally, so much of today‘s news is bad - environmentally disastrous oil slicks, racially divisive immigration legislation, attacks on journalistic freedom. Frankly, you deserve a mental palate cleanser, a moment of just pure aww.
Here it is. Kitties. Kitties. These are 3-month-old lion cubs. They made their public debut at the Bronx zoo today. Two of them are girls. One‘s a boy. Oh, my god, the cute. I‘m dying of the cute.
Look at them. None of them have names yet. The Bronx zoo is soliciting help from the public to come up with names. So I was thinking, how about we name them - oh, I don‘t care. I just want to watch them play.
There‘s no meaning to this segment. This is pure sensory reward.
Thank you for your indulgence. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Coming up next, video evidence of my field trip to C Street.
Turns out they don‘t have a gift shop. But they do have their own ally.
Somehow, seems more fitting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So this is the C Street house here in Washington, D.C., where just behind the annex to the Library of Congress, we‘re a couple of blocks from the Capitol. We‘re just down the corner from one of the House office buildings where members of Congress who serve in the House of Representatives have their offices.
It‘s a really swanky spot. Apparently the C Street house has 12 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five living rooms, four dining rooms, three offices and a kitchen. Now, despite that grandeur, people who live at C Street reportedly only pay about $950 a month in rent.
People who live here have use obviously of their own private bedrooms, but also, all of that quite swanky common space. They also reportedly have maid service. This is all provided by the fellowship or The Family. It‘s a secretive religious group that, from time to time, has denied its ownership of the C Street house.
But it is quite - it is tied quite blatantly through tax records and other documents to this house. No one will really care about this organization providing subsidized rent for people to live in this swanky mansion on Capitol Hill, if the people who are living in this swanky mansion on Capitol Hill weren‘t all members of Congress.
All members of Congress live here, Democrats and Republicans - all conservatives, some of whom have lived at C Street at this quite blatantly very subsidized rate for many, many years.
Now, as noted in complaints filed recently both with the IRS and with Congressional Ethics Committees, getting subsidized rent is a problem for a member of Congress for a couple reasons.
First of all, it‘s income and it should probably be reported to the IRS as such. But second of all, it‘s an ethical violation for a member of Congress. There are rules about what kind of gifts can go to members of Congress.
And that‘s supposed to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, members of Congress who might owe somebody to something other than the taxpayers. It‘s also to avoid an actual conflict of interest, so that members of Congress really don‘t owe anything to anyone other than the taxpayers who voted to send them here.
So far, there‘s been no action taken on either the IRS complaint or the complaint to the Congressional Ethics Committees. But that does not mean that members of C Street are taking this lying down.
They at least have been complaining to the press about complaints about their subsidized rent. Two residents of C Street have recently made the same sort of novel defense or at least novel distraction move about their subsidized rent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): There‘s no subsidy. It comes up every couple of years. This is a group that puts on the National Prayer Breakfast that every president speaks to. I think if they want to look at subsidized housing, they ought to look at the 40 or 50 Congressmen who sleep in their offices.
And that‘s totally subsidized by the taxpayers. But there‘s no taxpayer dollars involved where I stay. And actually, it‘s the most expensive place I‘ve ever stayed in Washington. I‘d look for a cheap place because I have to pay for it with my own money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still stay there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sen. Jim DeMint isn‘t the only C Street resident who has been making this case. Similar argument also made recently by Congressman Zach Wamp. He said almost exactly the same thing to a reporter recently who asked him about the C Street rent subsidy.
Zach Wamp said, quote, “I have lived there,” meaning here, “for 14 years. Isn‘t it interesting this just now comes up? Over 50 members live in their offices for free, subsidized by the taxpayer.”
You know, at the beginning of the scandal, people who lived at C Street first just denied it all together, “What is the C Street of which you speak? What is this Family? We have never heard of such a thing.”
When the on-the-record facts caught up with those denials, then they tried a new line. The second line of denial was that there was no subsidy of the rent paid for by C Street members.
Now, if there‘s no subsidy, well, that would mean that these guys are paying market rent. The problem with that line of deniable was that it‘s very easily checkable. Anybody can go on “Craig‘s List” and find out what other people are paying to live in such Capitol Hill grandeur, and it‘s not $950 month.
Now, that line of defense has also fallen apart. There does seem to be a new party line defense by members of Congress who live at C Street. And their defense is, “Hey, our subsidy isn‘t the problem. The real scandalous subsidy is members of Congress who live in their offices.”
Now, it‘s not exactly clear how this line of defense works.
Members of Congress do get their office rent paid for by taxpayers anyway. So if you choose to sleep in your office that‘s already taxpayer paid for, what exactly is the extra thing the taxpayers are paying for? I guess it could be the electric bill to pay for your night light?
The broader point here is the most important one. Living at C Street is an ethics liability because somebody other than taxpayers are paying these members of Congress on the side.
I mean, members of Congress are supposed to represent the taxpayers. They‘re paid by the taxpayers. They are not supposed to be secretly-funded by anybody on the side. That‘s why this is an ethics issue in the first place.
The broader point here is the most important one. Living at C Street and getting a rent subsidy is an ethics issue because members of Congress are supposed to be on the taxpayers‘ payroll. They are not supposed to have somebody else secretly paying them on the side, somebody who we all have to wonder if they‘re beholden to in exchange for that gift that they‘re getting.
A member of Congress sleeping in his or her congressional office isn‘t beholden to anybody other than the taxpayers. They‘re just maybe a little more beholden to the taxpayers and they already were supposed to be in the first place.
I‘m not sure that C Street members are coordinating their defenses. Sometimes, it seems like they are, because they keep saying remarkably similar things to reporters at remarkably similar times.
This latest defense, that their subsidy isn‘t problematic, but somehow, sleeping in your congressional office is doesn‘t make sense to me. But I have to admit, I‘m really looking forward to hearing what their next defense is.
MADDOW: Joining us now through the miracle of satellite technology (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is my friend Kent Jones with a story that can only be told on the last day of April. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel. Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. So in that spirit, the great Bill Murray recently dropped by the construction site of Poet‘s House, a poetry library based in Lower Manhattan to edify the hard hats during their break.
Here now, Bill Murray, reading “I Dwell in Possibility” by Emily Dickinson.
MADDOW: Yes, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this gal‘s name again? Oh, yes, Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility. A fairer house than prose. More numerous of windows, superior for doors. Of chambers as the cedars, impregnable of eye. And for an everlasting roof, the gambrels of the sky. Of visitors, the fairest. For occupation, this. The spreading wide my narrow hands, to gather paradise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kent, I can‘t tell you how seriously happy that makes me.
Thank you very much.
JONES: Oh, anytime.
MADDOW: Happy national poetry month. That does it for us tonight.
We‘ll see you again Monday night from New York. Have a great weekend.
Thanks for being with us.
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