'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
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Guests: Howard Fineman, Morgan Loew, Scott McAdams
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: And now, it‘s the first national interview with the Alaska Democrat who faces off against the Tea Party favorite there, ladies and gentleman, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you very much.
And thanks at you at home for staying with us for the next really busy hour.
We are starting tonight with an exclusive report—an exclusive report about politics and retaliation, and a politician who was supposed to be a rising star in the Republican Party, apparently running on fear—fear of exposure. It starts with the issue of illegal immigration.
As you can tell by the sheer volume of anti-immigrant politicking in the country right now, the illegal immigration problem must really be exploding. That is true if by exploding you mean that it is down 67 percent. The Pew Hispanic Center, which is widely considered to be the most authoritative source of numbers on this subject, they have release a new report saying that in the past decade, the number of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States has dropped by two-thirds.
So, the sudden uptick in yelling about illegal immigration, blaming immigrants for everything from Obama being elected to swine flu to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, that is not happening because illegal immigration is getting worse. It is actually getting better.
The uptick in anti-immigration stuff is not really about immigration at all. It is about what makes good politics for anti-immigration politicians. And bits what make big profits, apparently, for some very well connected people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA: We are bringing Arizona back. The comeback has started. And in November, we will complete the mission that we are on. Jan Brewer is a fighter and the people of Arizona are not quitters. And together, we will make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jan Brewer is a fighter.
That, of course, was Arizona‘s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, speaking in the third person there, while attempting to secure four more years as Arizona‘s governor.
Jan Brewer is now very much a household name in American politics mainly due to this moment. The moment when she put her signature, put pen to paper to sign Arizona‘s draconian “papers, please” immigration legislation.
But S.B. 1070 hasn‘t just attracted national scrutiny for this previously little known governor. It has also attracted lots of questions in Arizona. Last month, you may recall, we told you about some great reporting from the local CBS affiliate, KPHO, in Phoenix, Arizona. KPHO revealed that two of Governor Brewer‘s advisers, Paul Senseman and Chuck Coughlin, have extensive ties to a private prison company called the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA.
CCA conveniently holds the federal contract to lock up illegal immigrants in Arizona and S.B. 1070 being signed into law ultimately means more locked up illegal immigrants and potentially, more business for CCA. Handy.
Here‘s what happened when KPHO investigative reporter Morgan Loew attempted to ask Governor Jan Brewer about that apparent conflict of interest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN LOEW, KPHO REPORTER: Did Paul Senseman or Chuck Coughlin have any input with you on signing S.B. 1070 into law?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We‘re done.
LOEW: Are you aware that they are—they were lobbyists for Corrections Corporation of America?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry.
LOEW: Governor, don‘t you think you should have disclosed that?
The governor did not answer those questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Brewer‘s office later denied any wrongdoing but KPHO has kept asking questions. Most recently, they‘ve been tracing the money that this private prison company, CCA, has been lavishing on other Jan Brewer causes.
All of the digging that KPHO has been doing on this, all of the questions they‘ve been raising about Governor Brewer‘s connections to CCA, connections between S.B. 1070 and the private prison industry, all of the CCA money that they have been tracing, in the end, has resulted in this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOEW: After we began reporting on the connection between Governor Brewer‘s advisers and CCA, Chuck Coughlin‘s company canceled all of the governor‘s campaign advertising on CBS 5.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Brewer campaign decided to cease advertising on the station that has been investigating the governor. And her expensive ties to the private prison industry that stands to profit from S.B. 1070, a landmark anti-immigration law.
Phoenix is the biggest city in the state of Arizona. Governor Brewer is up for re-election in November and her campaign has decided to not advertise on the CBS affiliate in the largest city in the state—a network that has been doggedly investigating her connections to the private prison industry for months now.
Now again, KPHO is a CBS affiliate. We hear at MSNBC and our connections to NBC, we have no stake in their financial future whatsoever, in fact on the contrary. But, regardless, this is not about which station is whose. This is not about which network is which.
This is about political retaliation against journalism. This is news.
We called the folks who run Governor Brewer‘s campaign tonight. Her campaign is run by a company call HighGround Public Affairs, which also, as luck would have it, lobbies for the Corrections Corporation of America.
We spoke with Jan Brewer‘s campaign manager, Chuck Coughlin, one of Governor Brewer‘s advisors who KPHO has been investigation of late. And Mr. Coughlin told us tonight, explicitly, that the Brewer campaign had advertised with KPHO in the past but they decided to stop doing so as a result of the, quote, “credibility” of the journalism on that network.
Asked if that was a reference to the investigative journalism that has been done on that network about Jan brewer, Mr. Coughlin acknowledged that it was. To be clear, Jan Brewer‘s campaign inform us in no uncertain terms that they advertise on the other two networks in Phoenix but they decided to stop advertising on the CBS station because of them investigating Governor Brewer. That comes directly from Governor Brewer‘s campaign.
Asked specifically if Governor Brewer herself was involved in that decision, in the decision to stop advertising on KPHO as retaliation for the their investigations into the governor, her campaign manager told us that Ms. Brewer is clued into everything they do there. He told us, quote, “Absolutely. It‘s her campaign.”
In addition to ending its advertisements on KPHO in retaliation for that company‘s journalism, the company that runs Governor Brewer‘s campaign also directed to us a blog post on the HighGround Web site—a blog post that specifically targets KPHO‘s investigative reporter, Morgan Loew. It refers to him as, quote, “maniacal” and entry attacks the network‘s reporting on Governor Brewer.
When we spoke with HighGround tonight, they accused the network of intentionally misleading its viewers. They accused KPHO of misleading its viewers.
This is a big development in this story and the understanding of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, is now retaliating against a television network that is investigating her ties to one of that state‘s58 biggest industries—an industry that stands to profit from the anti-immigration law that has made her nationally famous.
Joining us now is Morgan Loew, investigative reporter for KPHO TV in Phoenix.
Mr. Loew, thanks very much for coming back on the show.
LOEW: Hello, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask you if I‘ve misstated any of that or if any of that conflicts with your understanding of the situation.
LOEW: That sounds about right from what I heard.
MADDOW: OK. What can you tell us about the Brewer campaign‘s decision to stop advertising on your station?
LOEW: Luckily, I‘m sort of shielded from the advertising area of our TV station. I have the luck to work for a general manager who takes care of all that. I can tell you that I was informed of that decision about two week ago—about a week before the primary that people from HighGround had call Channel 5, said they were no longer going to advertise. They didn‘t give us a reason why, but it came after some of our reporting about the governor‘s connection to the private prison industry.
MADDOW: Given that you have said on the air that around the time of your investigations, and following your investigations, the Brewer campaign had polled its advertising from your station. I have to ask your reaction tonight. We were very surprise that the Brewer campaign admitted to us flat-out that they stopped advertising on your station because of your work. They are admitting to it.
LOEW: Yes. I don‘t really know what to think about that. You know, as a reporter, I try to stay out of the business end of it. Again, I‘m lucky to work at a place where I‘m kept out of that decision.
I can tell you that my bosses have never told me to stop investigating this connection. And I haven‘t been keyed in on the finances behind. I can also tell that you there are various FCC regulations that make our books open to people. So, they can come by and see just how much money this costs. I haven‘t looked at those books. I‘m just—we‘re continuing to ask these questions and the questions that we‘re asking still not been answered.
MADDOW: You know, I should mention, as an employee of MSNBC, we also are totally insulated from the advertising decisions that are made on this network, as it should be. They shouldn‘t be able to affect the editorial. Nobody should be able to affect the editorial content of the show by either giving or revoking advertising money. That‘s part of the idea of a free press.
But as I mentioned, Morgan, the media company that runs the Brewer campaign hasn‘t just arranged for those advertising dollars to be taken away from your employer. They‘ve also written this really vitriolic blog entry essentially, attacking you personally, attacking your reporting. They argue that you are intentionally misleading viewers, interviewing people who are biased against this private prison company.
What‘s your response to those accusations?
LOEW: I read that blog. And my first reaction was if Mr. Coughlin knew me better, he‘d probably have worse things to say about me. But, the fact of the matter is, we‘ve been pretty consistent throughout in asking him and letting him know exactly what we want to know. And that blog entry that he released today is pretty consistent with the types of e-mails I‘ve received from him over the last three weeks.
MADDOW: Mr. Coughlin, Chuck Coughlin, doubles as Governor Brewer‘s campaign manager and the head of a company that lobbies for CCA. Have you ever had any luck asking him about that apparent conflict of interest?
LOEW: We send e-mail after e-mail being explicit. There‘s really one issue we want to know here, is what did he tell the governor about what his client, CCA, may gain from the signing of S.B. 1070? Did he tell her anything about that?
CCA has been pretty—all along, they‘ve said that they did not lobby the governor for this. But we have not heard from Chuck Coughlin. All we‘ve heard from him over and over again is that the illegal immigrants picked up off the street in Phoenix, on local charges, will never end up in a CCA/ICE-run facility.
And we‘ve done Freedom of Information Act request from ICE. We‘ve spoken to the folks at ICE. We hear our sheriff, Joe Arpaio, here on the air, all the time talking about the 30,000 illegal immigrants that were picked up locally that he‘s turned over to ICE. So, the statements he‘s made really have not rung true.
MADDOW: Morgan Loew, investigative reporter for KPHO TV in Phoenix, whose station is paying the price for that, but standing up for your reporting in doing so—thanks for your time tonight. Keep it up and good luck.
LOEW: You‘re welcome, Rachel.
MADDOW: There‘s a lot to come on the show tonight.
We have got what we just covered, which still blows my mind.
We‘ve also got the first ever nationally televised interview with a Democrat who‘s up against the Tea Party‘s Joe Miller to try to be the next senator from the state of Alaska.
We‘ve also got the source of the new anti-Obama conspiracy that Michelle Obama is secretly banning Christmas at the White House. The source is a conservative candidate for governor. I‘ll tell you who.
That‘s all coming up.
MADDOW: Marriage Americans who have paid into Social Security their entire working lives, a former Wyoming senator, Alan Simpson, is using a word I cannot say on basic cable TV. Premium cable, I could in theory, but I‘d probably still wouldn‘t because I would turn (INAUDIBLE).
At any rate, Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of the president‘s deficit commission probably deserves a performance review at this point. Please stay with us for that.
MADDOW: If you‘ve seen a lot of headlines this week about how Republicans are totally definitely 100 percent going to annihilate Democratic majorities in this year‘s elections, it is because of this new Gallup Poll that‘s out where people were asked if they‘d rather vote for a generic Republican in the fall or for a generic Democrat. And the generic Republican candidate wins by a big, big margin, 51 to 41.
Of course, that number is the result of polling on a hypothetical nonspecific question. If you ask the people who take polling and prognosticating very seriously in election years, they‘ll tell you that that is an important result. It‘s probably to some degree predictive.
But the truly predictive polling question this far out may really be about voter enthusiasm. How excited are you about voting? Because the people who are enthusiastic about voting are the ones who are most likely to actually go to the trouble of doing it on Election Day. And by most accounts, Republicans are very excited about voting in the fall and Democrats are not so excited about voting in the fall.
It makes sense when you take the biggest picture possible look at what‘s going on in American politics. Liberals and Democrats may not have major thing about what the Obama administration and this Congress have been doing over the last year and a half, but they also don‘t seem to really appreciate it very much.
Health reform? There‘s not even a public option.
The stimulus? It could have been bigger.
Progressives aren‘t driven and excited about voting for Democrats.
On the other side, though, Republicans are very much against everything that Obama and this Congress has done. And being very much against something can be a very powerful motivator. And as a Republican running for office, you are in a powerful position.
If you‘re able to say, all of this stuff, all of these things that have passed since Obama has been president, these are evil, bad, awful things. We‘ve got to get out and vote these terrible people out of office who have done these terrible things—it‘s a powerful, political decision.
And here‘s why it‘s awkward for Republicans right now. Their claim to fame this election cycle, their party platform, in fact, is how bad everything is that the Obama administration has passed. And yet, they keep also campaigning on all the awesome stuff Obama has done. They just don‘t mention that President Obama is the one who did it.
We saw this one when the stimulus was passed, over massive Republican objections. Remember when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal toured his state, handing out giant fake checks? He actually put his own name on a bunch of jumbo Publishers Clearing House-style checks and distributed them around Louisiana so would it look like federal stimulus money was actually coming from him—because he wanted to be seen as anti-stimulus but he also wanted to take credit for all the things the stimulus was funding in his state.
Then it wasn‘t just Bobby Jindal. There were dozens of these guys. More than 100 Republican lawmakers who came out against the stimulus and then proceeded in some way to try to take credit for it. We talked about this lots and lots on the show because there were lots and lots of them.
Here‘s one of my favorites. This was Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia talking about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad stimulus which he, of course, voted against.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PHIL GINGREY ®, GEORGIA: The vaunted Democratic stimulus bill has failed to stimulate anything other than a few federal bureaucrats—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It sounds bad and dirty. According to Phil Gingrey, the stimulus failed to stimulate anything but bureaucrats. He called it a boondoggle and a dismal failure.
Except here‘s Phil Gingrey handing out a big, fat fake check full of stimulus money to the good people of Cedartown, Georgia.
You know, it‘s fine if you are super-psych what stimulus funds have done for your congressional district or for your state. It is also fine if you‘re totally against the stimulus and you want to inveigh against how terrible and bad for America the stimulus is. But you cannot simultaneously inveigh against the stimulus and take credit for all the great stuff the stimulus does—or I guess you can if you are incapable of embarrassment.
But it‘s not just the stimulus. This year, Republicans, of course, are really campaigning hard against the evils of Obamacare. It‘s not just a conservative movement line. It‘s a mainstream Republican politician line.
Republican candidates, far and wide, are combing a promise to repeal Obamacare. Republican governors and attorneys general in 22 states are suing the federal government to stop Obamacare.
And that is also very awkward, because while they are all campaigning against Obamacare, while they‘re making a big show out of suing against evil Kenyan Obamacare, they are also lining up to please join Obamacare programs, to please get some of its benefits.
“A.P.” reports that seven of the states suing the administration to
stop health reform have also just had their requests to prove to get big,
fat Obamacare checks, to get one of the benefits of the health reform bill
a subsidy for health insurance for people retiring early before they qualify for Medicare. Each one of those states applied for and was approved to receive federal insurance subsidies for retired workers. Money that comes directly from the health reform law that they are all suing to stop.
In other words, we think this health reform thing is evil and bad and unconstitutional and please, can we have a piece of it?
When Arizona‘s attorney general refused to sue the administration over
health reform, Governor Jan Brewer—where have I heard that name before -
she went around him and file suit anyway, saying she needed to protect the people of Arizona from health reform.
Idaho Governor Butch Otter proudly became the very first Republican governor in the country to sign a law stating his intention to defy health reform.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels cast himself as a hero for suing to stop health reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MITCH DANIELS ®, INDIANA: This is about protection of the rights and liberties in this country, and, of course, about pushing back against a very, very ill-advised bill that we‘re all going to suffer from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It sounds better with music behind it, right?
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal peeked out behind one of those checks to say that he, too, was suing to block health reform. He said he was doing it because health reform scared him.
Michigan‘s Republican attorney general, Mike Cox, joined the lawsuit to stop health reform over the loud objections of his own Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm.
Nebraska‘s Republican governor, Dave Heineman, told education groups in his state—education groups—that health reform is a direct threat to their funding, somehow, bizarrely.
When he joined the lawsuit, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons called health reform “sick”—which is really something coming from Jim Gibbons.
But for all of that grandstanding about how fiercely they are fighting the evil health reform they call Obamacare, all of those state are lining right up to get the benefits of it. And again, it comes down to this: you can play for subsidies under President Obama‘s health reform plan to get people covered in your state who otherwise would have a really hard time getting insurance. You can do that.
You know also inveigh against Obamacare being the death of the republic. You cannot do both. You cannot do both unless you are incapable of feeling embarrassed.
And it‘s not just states that can apply for these health reform subsidies. It‘s also companies. Big employers can apply for this money to help fund insurance for their retirees.
And you really want to talk about who is not embarrassed about this? Look at this—uncovered this week by the folks at “Think Progress.” It turns out Koch Industries is one of the companies who applied for and got a piece of that health reform subsidy.
Koch Industries, really? Koch Industries hopping on the health reform gravy train? After funding almost all of the most over-the-top, apocalyptic anti-health reform campaigning? Do you remember all the sign in the tour buses with the bloody handprints, “Hands off my health care”? Remember the anti-reform rallies comparing President Obama to Pol Pot and Hitler?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I recall, Stalin, in 1920, issued about 20 million end-of-life orders for his fellow Russians. Pol Pot did it during the Vietnam War. He ended, issued about 2 million end-of-life orders. Adolf Hitler issued 6 million end-of-life orders. He called his program the Final Solution.
I kind of wonder what we‘re going to call ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That version of anti-health reform organizing, that event and others like it was brought to you by Koch Industries-funded Americans for Prosperity. Koch Industries has also funded FreedomWorks, the group that took credit for, in their words, blowing uptown hall events last summer after encouraging conservatives to show up at town halls and to be aggressive. Koch Industries has done more than any other giant pile of inherited money in this country to convince Americans that health reform is a secret plot on the part of Kenyan Nazis to kill our grandparents and enslave our doctors.
And—and Koch Industries has also applied and been approved for a program to help it insure its retiring worker—a program that exists because of the dreaded Obamacare.
And, you know, the Koch brothers can do whatever they want with all the money they got from dad. They have the right to spend it on all sorts of stuff within the bounds of election law. But you can either inveigh against Obamacare as the second coming of Pol Pot, or you can apply for it to help cover insurance costs for your older workers. You can‘t do both.
At least most people could not do both. Most people would find too embarrassing.
Joining us now is Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst and chief political correspondent and senior editor of “Newsweek.”
Howard, thanks very much.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Does it undercut the first shaking campaign against health reform for states that are suing the government over this, to be signing up for it?
FINEMAN: Well, it should. But not only are some politicians incapable of feeling embarrassed, a lot of the people who attend their rallies can‘t feel embarrassed either. Don‘t have the gene that produces the emotion of shame in the human soul.
Because having been to the health care town halls last year, having been to lots of tea parties last year and this year, I can tell you if you individually talk to most of the people there, and I got to know a bunch of them, they‘re for Social Security. They‘re for Medicare. They like their interstate highway system to be fixed. Their kids are getting federally subsidized student loans.
This is sadly, I guess, in the American grain. A lot of people complain about the federal government. They say get the federal government off our backs.
In many cases, the federal government has their back. It‘s just that people don‘t want to admit it. And that emotion is the emotion that‘s very strong in the country now and that the Tea Party people, the Mitch Daniels of the world are playing to.
MADDOW: Is it clear to you at this point that hate the stimulus, hate health reform, that those things are going to be really central to the Republican campaigning template this year?
FINEMAN: Well, Rachel, there are ring to this and levels to it. The
Republican leaders in the House and the Senate, people like John Boehner
whom I interviewed last week and wrote about in “Newsweek” and Mitch
McConnell, who I‘ve covered for years, they‘re going to stick to three main
issues and they‘ve poll tested them. And you don‘t have to be a rocket
scientist to look at the poll and see what they are: jobs, spending, and
health care. That‘s—those are the three words that they repeat, that
Boehner repeated, must have repeated 15 times in the interview that we did
jobs, spending and health care.
That means the stimulus bill—even as you point out that benefit from and have big checks about—it means the idea that the government is somehow a runaway spending freight train. When take Mitch Daniels, for example, he‘s now governor of Indiana—when he was OMB director, people tend to forget, in the Bush, George W. Bush, administration, he turned a surplus under his watch into a $400 billion deficit. I mean, George W. called him the blade. He was more like the butter knife. And now, he‘s complaining about spending.
And then you have the health care bill which because Obama set it up in such a way that many of its important features don‘t come into play until 2013 or 2014, it is hard for voters to see immediate benefits from it. Ironically, one of the first immediate benefits is the category of thing that Mitch Daniels and others signing up for right now. That‘s what they‘re going to campaign on while meanwhile, the kooks of the world and Rush Limbaugh and, you know, Mark Levin and all these people are going to be talking about birth certificates and Kenya and Christianity and all that stuff. The Republicans in the House and Senate will try to keep the high ground while the others will do the dirty work around the side.
MADDOW: And the real question will be whether or not Democrats can figure out a way to tell all those retirees who are going to be benefiting in these states, that what they‘re benefiting from is only there despite what Republican politicians have fought against.
FINEMAN: That‘s right.
MADDOW: Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst, “Newsweek” chief political correspondent, senior editor, and somebody whom I really enjoy having on the show—thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Did you hear that Michelle Obama is trying to ban Christmas? At the White House. You did hear that if you have been following the man who is, so far, this year‘s most entertaining conservative candidate for governor. That‘s coming right up.
MADDOW: There are some words and phrases which make it virtually impossible to hear anything that follows so much so that I can‘t even say some of these words on television.
When a former U.S. senator says that Social Security is a milk cow with 310 million things on a cow that you drink milk from, that‘s funny. That‘s undeniably “cannot hear anything else you said,” “can‘t even say that myself” funny.
But despite how distractingly funny that is, it is worth listening to what that former senator - what Fmr. Sen. Alan Simpson was really saying there beyond the crazy awkward hilarity of his choice of cow-related metaphors, because Alan Simpson has just been given a catastrophically important job.
He is the Republican co-chair of President Obama‘s Deficit Commission which is evaluating, among other things, Social Security. And the word that starts with T and rhyme with “bits” aside, Alan Simpson seems to really, really hate Social Security.
Also, he seems to be not all that keen on not paying veterans what we owe them. As a follow-up to his milk cow comments, which earned him so much attention, Sen. Simpson is now expressing crankiness over Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange getting their disability checks.
Mr. Simpson, who is himself a veteran, told the Associated Press, quote, “The irony is that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”
Yes, you Vietnam veterans collecting the benefits you earned, you‘re bad for the country. You‘re parasites. That was also the broader spirit in which Sen. Simpson‘s distractingly funny milk cow comments were made.
Here‘s the broader context of what he said. It was in an E-mail, what he wrote in that E-mail in which that quote - from which that quote was taken. This is what he said, “Yes, I‘ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know them, too. It‘s the same with any system in America. We‘ve reached a point now where it is like a milk cow with 310 million -“ the thing that starts with T that rhymes with “bits.”
If you can avoid being distracted by the metaphor, consider what Sen. Simpson‘s broader point is here. People on Social Security milking it to the last degree, the same with any system in America. You know what?
This is worth saying. There is no milking of the Social Security system to any degree. Social Security is a payroll deduction sticking out of your paycheck. Every single time you are paid, there is a line in your pay stub showing your money has been taken out of your paycheck now while you‘re working.
That‘s you earning your Social Security benefits. The idea being, you will get that money back someday. You fund to the program for today‘s retirees and then, when you retire, the money will be paid back to you by the next generation of workers. When, later in life, you get paid the benefits you‘ve earned, that is not milking it. That‘s getting paid your due. It is a social contract.
You did your part. You get something for that. The real issue is not that a cranky retired senator uses distractingly funny metaphors to talk about how much he hates that social contract. The real issue is that he‘s got that hate.
This isn‘t a tea party. This is the country. Whose idea was to it let Alan Simpson anywhere near Social Security?
MADDOW: I‘m very excited to say that joining us for the interview is a man who, in the last 24 hours, has become much more likely to be the next senator from the great, great state of Alaska.
What happened in the last 24 hours to likely change his fortunes to the better is that Alaska‘s current Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski had to concede that she lost the Republican primary to a much more extreme, widely believed to be much less electable candidate, a tea party candidate named Joe Miller.
Mr. Miller wants to ixnay unemployment benefits and social security and Medicare. Sorry, old people. He also says a woman who was raped should be forced by the government to bear the rapist‘s child.
On the plus side for Joe Miller‘s electability, it should be noted that he has a beard, a big all-over-the-face beard. I think he is the only Senate candidate this year who has a full-faced beard so that will definitely make him stand out and maybe that will help him.
Joining us now for his first nationally-televised interview, the mayor of Sitka, Alaska, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Alaska who has a much smaller beard, Scott McAdams who joins us from the Alaska state fair. Mr. McAdams, thank you so much for your time.
MAYOR SCOTT MCADAMS (D), ALASKA DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: The reason that Joe Miller is becoming nationally famous before you have, frankly, is because he is likely the most radical among a very radical class of GOP Senate candidates this year.
I have to ask you, do you agree with him on the positions that unemployment benefits should be eliminated, and Medicare and Social Security should be phased out and privatized? Do you agree with him on any of that?
MCADAMS: Absolutely not. You know, social security is a promise to Alaska‘s seniors as well as America‘s seniors. It is something people worked all their lives for. It is a benefit that Alaskans deserve when they retire.
As Alaska‘s next United States senator, I‘ll stand up for Medicaid, for Medicare and for social security for Alaskans.
MADDOW: Mr. McAdams, you have said in the past that when Sen. Murkowski blocked an increase in liability caps for big oil, it was that that convinced you that you wanted to run for Senate. Why was that so important for you?
MCADAMS: I‘m a former commercial fisherman. I stayed in the Kodiak district two years after the spill. And you know, I had the chance to chair the Alaska Democratic Party‘s - state party (UNINTELLIGIBLE) last year, went to a candidate training.
You know, some different statewide candidates gave their stump speech. Somebody asked me to come forward before the room and give the stump speech. And they said, “What are you running for, sir?” And I said, “I‘m running for the mayor - the city mayor of Sitka.”
The trainer said, “No, that‘s not good enough. Why don‘t you run against Lisa Murkowski?” So I stood up and delivered a stump speech before a mock petroleum club in Anchorage.
But you know, one of the things that - about that spill and about the spill in the gulf is that, you know, we know that far too well in Alaska.
So many communities in Alaska, in coastal Alaska, in southeast Alaska where I live, where commercial fishing is the second largest sector in our economy, so many fishermen still have not been whole 20 years after the spill.
And so it was part of the rationale that went into my decision to run. But you know, early on, when I saw Todd Palin endorse this character, Joe Miller, you know, my instincts said that Sarah Palin was coming next.
You know, I‘m glad I‘m here. I‘m glad that I‘m a credible candidate, the only candidate in this race with any actual experience in elected governance. And I‘m preparing to win come this fall.
MADDOW: Well, coming out of the primaries in what, of course, is a very, very red state in Alaska, Joe Miller‘s lead over you is not that big, single digits at this point. What is your overall campaign strategy to try to beat him? Do you intend to try the raise money nationally and run a nationally-minded campaign against him?
MCADAMS: You know, we‘re running an Alaskan campaign that puts Alaskans first. We‘re going out and talking to boarders. We‘re at the Alaska state fair right now. In fact, I‘m the only guy at this fair with a tie on. But you know, we‘re going voter to voter, town to town.
Alaska is a small population state. And it doesn‘t take a huge media buy to be competitive in this state. But you know, our platform is jobs, jobs, jobs. Joe Miller‘s strict interpretation of the Constitution, the things that he‘s alluded to, the things that he said that he doesn‘t believe that any sort of government service is not mandated within the four corners of the Constitution are appropriate.
You know, Alaska is a natural resource state. Being against oil and gas in Alaska is a little bit like being against farming in North Dakota. But you know, one-third of our economy ties back into federal investment in our state.
We‘re a young state. We‘re a state that‘s still developing. Alaska needs to have representation in Washington, D.C. that stands up for Alaskans, that stands up for the infrastructure that‘s willing to put Alaskans to work, that‘s willing to stand up for Alaska and working people.
You know what? Rachel, Washington, D.C. is broken. You know, everything is about partisanship. It‘s about trying to shame your opponent so that you can get a chairmanship the next year.
Joe Miller says it is about incumbency. I actually think Joe Miller is exactly the wrong person for Alaska. You know, I hope to go to Washington, D.C., continue to make the case to develop Alaska‘s natural resources, to put my name on the line for Alaska‘s working people.
You know, so many folks in this country have been off-shored, outsourced, free-traded and deregulated to death. And as Alaska‘s next United States senator, I will go fight for working people.
MADDOW: Scott McAdams, mayor of Sitka, Alaska, Democratic candidate for United States Senate, joining us from the Alaska state fair. Thanks very much for your time tonight, sir.
MCADAMS: Yes. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: We‘ll also extend this invitation, which I am ever hopeful about, to the Republican candidate in the race, Mr. Joe Miller. It has been 24 hours since he‘s known for sure that he is the nominee. Mr. Miller, we would absolutely love to have you anytime, really.
Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” organizing the unemployed for this year‘s elections. Coming up here, the latest anti-Obama attack is that Michelle Obama hates Christmas because, you know, Kenya or whatever. That‘s next.
MADDOW: New nominee for single best race of this year‘s elections. That‘s former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo on the left and Republican Dan Maes on the right. Both men want to be the next governor of the great state of Colorado.
There is also a Democrat in the race, John Hickenlooper. He is not nearly as much fun to talk about yet although his name is very fun to say - Hickenlooper. Mr. Maes gets to be a candidate for governor in Colorado because he won the Republican primary.
He beat out a man who had been very publicly accused of plagiarism. Mr. Tancredo gets to run for governor because he wants to run for governor. He missed the deadline to the primary as a Republican. And so, instead, he is running on the American Constitution Party ticket.
And so far, it does not seem to be going well. I mean, see that gray, downward slope there? Yes. That is what you call a bad polling trend. But it is all about the turnaround for Tom Tancredo, because Tom Tancredo has picked a new political fight to define his candidacy.
He has found a new political enemy. In an interview with “Talking Points Memo,” Mr. Tom Tancredo said this, “I remember a little thing like Ms. Obama saying she didn‘t want any Christian artifacts in the White House during Christmas time.”
Was that before or after the official White House Christmas tree arrived and the official Christmas tree decorations went up and the official White House Christmas party stated? When exactly did Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States, say, “No Christmas at the White House”? Was that at quarter past you made that up?
That is what I thought, Tom. Colorado‘s governor race is turning out to be way more fun than it should be already.
MADDOW: Here is a story we have been thus far gleefully ignoring. You might have heard about this guy, Terence Lakin. He is an army doctor who is refusing to deploy to Afghanistan because he thinks President Obama is secretly foreign and therefore secretly not really president, and therefore his orders to deploy to Afghanistan are secretly not valid.
For that refusal, Dr. Lakin is facing a court-martial. Now, we have been blissfully ignoring Lt. Col. Lakin‘s case because, well, because he is clearly some random birther guy who is interesting for his randomness, but not really news.
Now, however, it may be news. And we are talking about it tonight because, now, a retired three-star general - retired three-star Air Force general has gotten involved in this case. He is Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a three-star general who retired from the Air Force in 1994.
And he has now filed an affidavit in support of the wing-nut army birther doctor guy who is refusing to deploy because the president is secretly Kenyan.
In this affidavit, Gen. McInerney argues that, quote, “In refusing to obey orders as to doubts as to their legality, Lt. Col. Lakin has acted exactly as proper training dictates. He‘s demonstrating the courage of his convictions and his bravery.”
The general refers to the concerns of the birthers as, quote, “serious and widely held.” He says investigating them is, quote, “absolutely essential to reassuring all military personnel, once and for all, for this president whether his service as commander-in-chief is constitutionally proper.”
Now, somebody having crazy ideas about Barack Obama being secretly foreign is not news. There are more than a dozen members of the birther caucus in Congress, for example. Iowa Republican Steve King even invokes the whole thing during a speech on the house floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): A little baby with ink on their foot stamped right there on the birth certificate. There is one in this country we haven‘t seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Beyond this stuff getting into the Congressional record through geniuses like Steve King, of course, there is also dentist/realtor/lawyer/birther queen Orly Taitz. She even ran for Secretary of State in the Republican primary in California and she got 25 percent of the vote.
The existence of the crazy, the-president-is-secretly-foreign cult is not itself news. What is news is that someone with Gen. McInerney qualifications is saying that maybe the president is secretly foreign.
What‘s news is that a retired Air Force general is lending his three-star credibility to a conspiracy theory that is this whack. However, if you take a look at what Gen. McInerney has lent his credibility to, you might want to add an asterisk to any assertions of his credibility.
Nobody can take his three stars away. His rank is his rank. His military experience is his military experience. But consider also what the Gen. McInerney says happened to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. THOMAS MCINERNEY (RET), U.S. AIR FORCE: I think the fact is that the Russians moved large stocks out in the fall of 2002. They went into three locations into Syria and one location in the Bekaa Valley. And if you get in there and if you found those weapons and found the precursors, the fingerprints would go back to Russia, China and France.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The general‘s professional opinion as a retired general - we didn‘t find WMD in Iraq because they were spirited away just before the invasion by Russians, also China and France. Not France.
After the London train and bus bombings in 2005, Gen. McInerney told “The Washington Times” his theory about why we didn‘t have to worry about that sort of attack happening here in America.
He said, quote, “Why attack here when you have leftists in America who have aided and abetted the enemy more than Tokyo Rose did in World War II? They don‘t need to set off bombs. If they set off bombs, they would silence the shrill of leftists of the United States.”
Liberals are so terrorist-ish they are keeping the real terrorists away. Gen. McInerney also frequently floats his own personal invasion of Iran plans like he did with this ‘06 column for “The Weekly Standard.” You can see the title there, “Target: Iran. Yes, there is a feasible military option against the mullahs‘ nuclear program.”
One of Gen. McInerney‘s more recent counterterrorism strategies is that he suggests we strip-search all Muslims at airports. Not kidding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCINERNEY: I believe in the next 30 to 120 days, there is a danger, a very high probability that a U.S. airliner will come down because of one of these bombers. And so, we‘ve got to go to more than just the normal process that they are talking about now.
We have got to go to very, very strict screening and we have to use profiling, and I mean be very serious and harsh about the profiling. If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man, you should be strip-searched. And if we don‘t do that, there is a very high probability we‘re going to lose an airline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How do you verify who is Muslim? Ultimately, the story here is not that somebody‘s trying to get out of the army because of some crazy birther conspiracy theory. Ultimately, the story here is not even that a three-star general has joined the quixotic request.
The real story, it seems to me, is that a guy this nuts gets paid to comment on foreign policy and wars. The birther general is on FOX News‘ payroll. He‘s the go-to guy for high-minded reporting on Muslim strip-searching, French people stealing WMDs, assurances of how easy it would be to wage war on Iran, and now, maybe the president‘s birth certificate, too. He is their guy. We report, you freak out.
“COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now.
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