'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, September 13th, 2010
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Chris Hayes, Mark Odien, Katherine Miller
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I have my bubble suit coming up a little later.
OLBERMANN: Yes, I had the meat shirt but I left it in the office.
MADDOW: Excellent. Thank to you, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
On tonight‘s show, as Keith said, for the first time ever, we shall broach the all-important, world-changing subject of Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga now makes our news because she has started poaching RACHEL MADDOW SHOW guests to take as her dates to awards shows.
You know how people say, “We couldn‘t be more excited,” and they mean that as hyperbole? I don‘t mean it as hyperbole. We literally could not be more excited or our health would be at risk. We are very excited.
That story is coming up later on this hour.
But we begin tonight with a new reminder of what is making this such a brilliant year for the news about the country‘s politics. America, meet Carl Paladino, seeking the Republican nomination for governor in New York State.
Hours before polls open, there are still a lot of Republican voters who have never heard of Carl Paladino but he is locked in a virtual dead-heat for the Republican nomination for governor with a candidate named Rick Lazio. Now, Rick Lazio is a guy the Republican Party has turned to again and again and again to run for one office or another in New York. Most recently, he ran and lost very badly against Hillary Clinton in the year 2000 Senate race. This year, possibly by default, the state party tapped Mr. Lazio to run again, this time for New York state governor.
Now, for Mr. Lazio, winning the general election against the probable Democratic nominee, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, might prove to be as futile as his race against Hillary Clinton was. But it was supposed to be a foregone conclusion that Rick Lazio would at least get the chance to try, that he would at least make it to the general election, that he would at least be the Republican nominee. Instead, Rick Lazio might very well lose his chance to probably lose to Andrew Cuomo.
Take a look at this. This is how the Republican race has trended over the past five months in this Sienna College poll. That top one there, it‘s not that we don‘t have a picture of that candidate, it‘s literally undecided as in, I don‘t know, and that‘s why that candidate is there.
Back in April, more voters said they were undecided than anything else about this race. But as the months have gone by, those who have decided essentially decided they would vote for Carl Paladino instead of the candidate the Republican Party wants them to vote for, Rick Lazio. And Rick Lazio started out with a big lead over Carl Paladino.
Tonight, heading into the primary, the candidates are virtually tied. With 15 percent of voters still undecided, nobody really knows what‘s going to happen tomorrow in the New York State primary, only that Carl Paladino is the candidate who has been gaining among voters. The other guy, not so much.
Mr. Paladino‘s biggest virtue seems to be that he is not the establishment choice. What he has going for him, in other words, is that the state party is backing the other guy. Mr. Paladino has funded this had campaign with $10 million of his own money, a multi-gazillion dollars fortune made in real estate, as among other things, quote, “the largest landlord for state offices in Buffalo, despite his denunciation of government spending.”
So, Carl Paladino is the anti-establishment, anti-government spending choice unless the spending is government rent checks payable to him. Those are essentially his virtues as a candidate.
At least you have to hope those are his virtues as candidate, that those are the source of his appeal to New York Republicans—because if it‘s not the that stuff, I‘m telling you, this is essentially what else the public knows about Carl Paladino.
A western New York publication called WNY Media—WNYMedia.net is their Web site—they received and published what they call a deluge of e-mail that is Mr. Paladino sent to a who‘s who of Buffalo-area politicians, media types and hangers-on. Among them this widely circulated elsewhere and not actually a photo, PhotoShopped picture of the first lady and president dressed for what the e-mail subject line called a White House ball. The kind of thing surely everyone sends to a long, long list of their friends and business acquaintances.
This one, he sent on titled proof the Irish discovered Africa. It had
as an attachment a video of monkeys doing a little river dance-style
dancing jig. Get it? See they‘re doing an Irish thing so that explains
the Irish part of the reference but the Africa reference is because they‘re
Another e-mail included video of an African tribal dance. The headline under which Mr. Pa Paladino entitled this was “Obama inauguration rehearsal.”
Other emails that he sent we cannot show you because they are hardcore porn, not even like Skinemax soft core porn. Really hard core stuff, some of it involving people with animals.
Carl Paladino would forward the porn clips with subject headings like, “a keeper,” “Easy steady big fella.”
But it was the email with the African tribal dance that purports to be the president‘s inauguration rehearsal that prompted an angry response from one of the people to whom Mr. Paladino sent this e-mail. Mr. Paladino replayed to the complaint, quote, “I apologize to you and everyone if that is offensive. To me it‘s just humor. I‘m not a racist and have never related Obama‘s color to my political distaste for him. I‘m not sensitive to ethnic humor.”
He then uses a series of ethnic slurs and continues, “Whatever, we hear the humor every day. I think the oversensitivity to black/white is wrong and in itself demeaning. I advocate for the plight of our inner city youth. I apologize if that‘s offensive.”
Mr. Paladino further ripped on his non-apology apology by saying, “Hey, it‘s because he works in construction.”
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO (R-NY), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: I forwarded e-mails that were—I‘m in the construction industry, OK? I get a lot of this junk sent to me and I—and I did that. I forwarded—I forwarded e-mails and I‘ve apologized to those who were offended by it. OK. I forwarded it to a select group of friends and generally the people of the state of New York are disinterested in this topic.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: In other words, the people who are going to vote for him, he doesn‘t have to apologize to them for this stuff. And as for the rest who might take offense, if working in construction doesn‘t make it OK, maybe this will. Carl Paladino, in case this wasn‘t clear, he says he‘s human.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PALADINO: I‘m human. I‘m human like you and like everybody else.
So, don‘t pontificate to me. OK?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, about that bestiality video I sent and the African tribal Obama inauguration rehearsal—you know, like humans do.
As for Carl Paladino‘s defense that he advocates for the plight of inner city youth, he plans to do that by teaching them basic things, like personal hygiene. All part of his initiative that would convert prison dorms into welfare centers.
Quote, “Instead of handing out welfare checks, we‘ll teach people how to earn their check. We‘ll teach them personal hygiene—the personal things they don‘t get when they come from dysfunctional homes. You have to teach them basic things, taking care of themselves, physical fitness. In their dysfunctional environment, they never learned these things.”
On his campaign Web site, Mr. Paladino calls his “send welfare recipients” to prison plan the Dignity Corps. He also likens his vision on which the chronically poor are merely chronically ignorant and dirty. He likens it to FDR‘s New Deal. So, it can‘t be bad because FDR did it, too?
Even if you don‘t care about the insight into Carl Paladino‘s mind that is his e-mail history, the whole prison camp-turned-poor farm proposal, this is his actual policy platform. This is what he‘s running on. This isn‘t something that he said in an e-mail that also included a bestiality video. It isn‘t something that he ripped on at a campaign event and had to answer for later. This is what he‘s putting forward as his platform: poor farms.
On the issues section of his campaign Web site, quote, “Any able-bodied New Yorker on unemployment or welfare will join the Dignity Corps to help them get back to work.”
See, the economy didn‘t make it difficult for you to find work. You did because you‘re poor, dirty, lazy and dumb. And Carl Paladino wants to teach you hygiene at a prison.
If not criminal, Paladino‘s big vision for getting you back to work might still require you to go to prison where you will learn not to be poor, unemployed or dirty.
So, the class of 2010 is interesting across the board for this year‘s election. But 2010 may go down in political history as the year in which a guy like this isn‘t the perennial kook candidate who runs in at least one election every election cycle. He‘s actually, statistically, got a reasonable chance of tomorrow becoming the Republican Party‘s nominee for governor of the state of New York. It‘s a big year.
Joining us now is Mark Odien, founder and managing director of WNYMedia.net, the publication that received the deluge of forwarded e-mails from Carl Paladino.
Mark, thanks very much for coming on the show.
MARK ODIEN, WNYMEDIA.NET: Hi, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first—you‘ve been covering Carl Paladino‘s candidacy longer than we have at national level. Did I—did I get anything wrong there or do you think I missed anything in terms of points of emphasis about what people should know about him?
ODIEN: No, you pretty much hit the nail on the head on that one. You know, there‘s been other controversies as well, obviously, with the mosque issue in New York City. He, at one point, called the current governor a drug addict. He called the assembly leader in New York state “antichrist.” So, there‘s been a whole deluge of news from the Paladino campaign.
MADDOW: Am I right, also, that on the mosque issue—the way that got covered nationally was that he essentially dragged Rick Lazio into a fight over who could be more against the downtown, Lower Manhattan mosque. But am I right Carl Paladino at one point said that if that community center were built, they would put up photos of the 9/11 hijackers on the walls of the community center to lionize them?
ODIEN: I don‘t remember that exactly. He did talk about taking the property over with him, and then domain, and he did push Rick Lazio far to the right than probably Rick wanted to go. You know, unfortunately, for Rick, you can‘t fight the crazy with more crazy.
MADDOW: Although nobody ever stops trying. That‘s the beauty of American politics.
ODIEN: That is true.
MADDOW: Why do you think, Mark, that this deluge of e-mails was sent to you? Obviously, I don‘t expect that you guys were on Carl Paladino‘s hardcore porn and hardcore racism email distribution list, somebody who was sent that to you. Why do you think that was?
ODIEN: You know, I think when Carl first started this campaign, he was running a campaign on integrity and values. And I think those e-mails show just the opposite of those integrity and values.
You know, the e-mails are offensive. They‘re racist. They‘re sexist. They‘re misogynist. And, you know, it‘s almost hypocritical of the campaign that the Paladino campaign has been trying to run.
MADDOW: Let me just ask your perspective from western New York. We‘re watching this trend all over the country right now of establishment candidates—candidates who were endorsed by the Republican Party officially, getting beaten in Republican primaries by insurgent candidates like Mr. Paladino. It is happening all over the country, every race is different but that is—does seem to be the trend.
If Paladino actually beats Rick Lazio, what does that say to you about the state of the Republican Party in New York?
ODIEN: I think we‘re all in trouble in New York State if Carl Paladino wins this primary. The—you know, Carl—what Carl‘s done, he‘s done a good job of getting the angry white voter.
I mean, let‘s face it. New York‘s in trouble. We have a ton of fiscal problems. A ton of problems all around the state, not just upstate but down state as well. And he‘s done a good job of finding those angry white voters and basically energizing that base that he has.
So, I think what it says for New York is—what it says for upstate, I mean, it‘s kind of embarrassing, coming from Buffalo, to have this guy as a national figure at this point talking all crazy. But I don‘t think that New York is in—Republicans in New York are in a good position if this guy winds up winning tomorrow.
MADDOW: Mark Odien, founder and managing director of WNYMedia.net—thanks for your reporting on this candidacy. Thanks for your time tonight.
ODIEN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Still ahead: another standout of the Republican class of 2010, Christine O‘Donnell. Two years ago, the idea that a candidate this extreme would have a real shot at becoming the Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware was unthinkable. We are thinking it now.
Also, a 100 percent, legit, newsworthy, topical, socially progressive reason to show this video. I promise.
MADDOW: The last big primary night of this long primary season is tomorrow night. There are important things going on in New York, as we just told you, in Delaware, as we‘re about to tell you, as well as new Hampshire, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, all over the place.
We will have election results coverage for you live both at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and 11:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. This election year has been one of the most unhinged political seasons of my lifetime. And tomorrow night, we will get a much clearer picture of what‘s going to happen on November 2nd. Live primary coverage tomorrow night 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern. We hope you will be with us.
MADDOW: If you‘re a president who is in your first term, history tells you to expect that in the first election after you took office, your party will lose seats in congress. Tada! It is so close to automatic, it does not even have a clutch.
The president‘s party loses seats in the first midterm election. It just happens.
But any president in any term should also expect his or her party to lose seats when the economy is bad.
So, those are the two big head winds that President Obama and the Democratic Party are facing this year. There‘s not much they can do about the first one, the first midterm curse, except fight hard and pray for more Sharron Angles.
On the second one, on the economy being bad, Democrats first and most obviously have to do everything they can to bring the economy back. The only thing they can hope for is Republicans will do something that makes people turn their populist anger about the economy against Republicans, too, instead of just against the Democrats.
The only way the bad economy could work to Democrats‘ advantage in the elections this year is if Republicans, say, decide they want to propose larding $700 billion on to the deficit in order to give an average of about $100,000 per person to each of the millionaires and billionaires, to the top 2 percent richest people in the country. And they say they‘re willing to hit the rest of the country, the other 98 percent of us, in the wallet in order to do it.
A proposal like that is just about the only way a minority party could compete with Democrats for the ire of angry voters in a bad economy. And that is just what Republicans have been proposing, saying they won‘t go along with middle class tax cuts proposed by the president unless rich people get a huge break, too.
If you think that sounds like bad politics, the top Republican in the house, John Boehner, agrees with you apparently. When Bob Schieffer of CBS confronted him about this plan morning, Mr. Boehner blinked and took it back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Are you saying that no way, no how will you vote for the—continuing the tax cuts for the folks in the middle class unless it also includes the tax cuts for the people in the upper brackets? In other words, you wouldn‘t be willing to pass those lower bracket extensions unless you can get the more wealthy people—
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: If the only—if the only
if the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I‘ll vote for ‘em. But I‘ve been making the point now for months that we need to extend all the current rates for all Americans if we want to get our economy going again and we want to get jobs in America.
SCHIEFFER: So, you are saying you would vote for the middle class tax cuts if that‘s all you can get done?
BOEHNER: If that‘s what we can get done, but I think that‘s bad policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Boehner conceding yesterday that he will vote reluctantly for President Obama‘s proposal which is tax cuts for everybody except the richest people in the country. You think, you know, on Mr. Boehner‘s part, a politically sensible concession in an election year—a politically sensible concession that lasted just about exactly 24 hours.
Today, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, announced on the Senate floor that actually, no really, Republicans really are going to block tax cuts for middle class and poor people in order to try to force $700 billion worth of deficit spending on the very richest people in the country. They are really going for it. This election year, they‘re really doing it. Hot damn.
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine and an MSNBC contributor.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Hey there, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, did we just have a big Republican wobble on this issue?
Is their position clear now?
HAYES: I think it is very unclear. But I think part of it has to do with the different political calculations for the different houses. If you‘re John Boehner, you know, all of your members are up for re-election. There is a kind of anti-incumbent fervor and you don‘t want them take—you don‘t want them to have to vote against tax cuts in an election year.
I think McConnell, because there‘s more procedural control in the Senate and because cutting taxes for rich people is the core existential value of the modern Republican Party, he‘s going to make sure that that—he‘s going to do everything in his power to do that and he‘s less worried about the political implications because the races where the really competitive tend to be open seats, they tend to be against Democratic incumbents.
MADDOW: So, you think we‘re going to have a split between House Republicans and Senate Republicans on this, where Boehner actually does let people in the House vote for these things, but it doesn‘t matter because the Senate blocks it anyway. The Senate does hold the middle class hostage for the rich people.
HAYES: See that, yes, exactly that. And I talked to a Republican staffer today and said, look, if you get—on the House side—I said, if you get, if it comes up just the middle class tax cuts, does your—does your member vote for it? He said, sure. Because that‘s an easy vote.
You know, maybe I‘m wrong here, but my sense is that if you let the House vote on this first, it actually gives the Republicans in the House cover. They get to go ahead and kind of had their cake and eat it, too. They can vote for middle class tax cuts and then they can let the Senate hold it up and make sure it doesn‘t actually happen. And if I were the Republicans, I think that‘s the play that they actually would like to see happen.
MADDOW: But don‘t—isn‘t there an advantage to Democrats at sort of making John Boehner put his money where his mouth is—making him cast this vote against tax relief for super rich people in a way that drives division in the Republican Party?
HAYES: I think, yes. I think there‘s an argument for that, but I think there‘s a responding argument which says you basically give them a mulligan. You let all these Republicans vote for tax cuts then you don‘t necessarily get it in the Senate, right? We‘ve seen this happen. I mean, we certainly saw it on Waxman-Markey on the cap-and-trade bill, something passes in the House and the Senate kills it.
And so, you‘ve allowed—you‘ve taken away this cajole, right? The cajole right now, the thing the Democrats want to talk about the last, you know, month and a half, two months of this election, is this issue: tax cuts for the rich or tax cuts for the middle class. If you let them water it down by having and giving Republicans an opportunity to vote for just tax cuts for the middle class, you take that away as a political issue or you at least cloud the salience of it.
MADDOW: If you let the House vote first.
HAYES: See, that‘s the key, right? And that‘s, I think, why there was some reporting today, you know, on “Talking Points Memo” and some other places saying the House wasn‘t going to move ahead with the vote. And I think that‘s part of the strategic calculation here.
The other calculation I should say—I talked to a staffer for a Democrat who‘s been in the House for a while and faces a tough challenger who says, we don‘t want to vote on anything. We don‘t want to vote on anything, because our challenger isn‘t in the House. Any vote we take is going to kill us. All we want to do is put our head down and get through these last two months.
So, there‘s some of that intense, kind of defensive crouch, risk aversion that‘s also driving.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask you about whether or not the Democrats are really going to press ahead with this strategy. Frank Rich, obviously, very influential on the left, wrote this weekend about how FDR in 1936 was able to turn populist anger about the economy into political advantage—even though they were the party, Democrats are in the party in power, by saying that Republicans were the party of the financial bad guys, the people who were getting rich while everyone else suffered, and he welcomed their hatred.
Is there any—is there any—is there any hope—are there any legs to this as a potential strategy for this for the Democrats left?
HAYES: Well, there are legs. Although I would say that GDP growth in 1936 was actually net—was quite positive. The country was actually growing, you know? It had this horrible trough. And part of the reason Roosevelt was so popular at that point, because GDP growth was actually really quite remarkable in that year. It then went back down. There was a kind of double dip.
So, look, 90 percent of this fate is sealed, OK? The economy is terrible. People are ticked off. There‘s a huge enthusiasm gap.
But the margins do matter, and the margins at this point—five seats, six seats, 10 seats in the House—are the difference between Speaker Pelosi and Speaker Boehner, and we all remember what a Republican House looked like in the late ‘90s, and they were relatively sane compared to now, right? So, the message is going to matter at the margins, and the margins really do matter—even though most of this is being driven by structural factors.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, Washington editor for “The Nation” magazine and an MSNBC contributor—making an even for you unusual amount of sense this evening, Chris.
HAYES: Well, thank you. So, Rachel, I just want to get this clear, I stay here for the “Bad Romance” duet with Lady Gaga. We do this by satellite. I just—
MADDOW: Yes. Do you have your bubble suit?
HAYES: I do have my bubble suit.
MADDOW: Yes. Good. Stand by.
MADDOW: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I got a really nice e-mail this weekend from someone who had been a guest on our show recently, an e-mail said, “Thanks for having me on the show. It was nice to see you. I enjoyed the segment,” et cetera. And, “Oh, by the way I‘m on my way to the MTV Video Music Awards.” And I thought, that‘s really nice and also, yes, right.
Opened the paper this morning, it turns out this former guest of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW emailing me did go to the Video Music Awards as Lady Gaga‘s date. I know. Details ahead.
MADDOW: Don‘t ask, Don‘t Tell is 17 years old, and for all of its 17-year history people have been fight to go repeal it. Last week advocates of repeal celebrated a big victory as a federal judge in California ruled that don‘t ask, don‘t tell was unconstitutional. Today another case was in federal court. Another case that is raising Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell opponents‘ hopes even higher. It is a case that could force the military to a higher standard of proof before discharging someone for being gay. The military would not just be able to assert in a blanket way that homosexuality in general is damaging to morale and unit cohesion, they‘d instead have to prove that each person they were kicking out under don‘t ask, don‘t tell was individually a threat to his or her particularly unit‘s morale and cohesion. Good luck with that.
That approach to the policy would be called the Witt standard, it‘s based on the case of an air force major named Margaret Witt. It is her federal trial that‘s taking place this week in Washington State. So, that‘s what‘s going on, on the legal side. There‘s also a lot of interesting movement on the political side. The House of Representatives, of course, passed a defense authorization bill back in May that included repeal of Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell. The Senate has yet to take it up. But last week, a very interesting reports surfaced in Roll Call newspaper, that Senate democrats may finally be ready to push ahead with repeal. The reasons why they may finally be ready, well, run your soul over a cheese grater. Roll Call reported that Democrats had put repealing Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell on the back burner in order to accommodate the political schedule of Senator John McCain, specifically democrats reportedly decided to wait on repeal for a while until John McCain‘s primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth was over.
They didn‘t want to make John McCain take a stand on the issue less that be uncomfortable for him in his race against the super anti-gay primary opponent. Now that the only moderately super anti-gays Senator McCain is free to be on Mavericky again, free to once again start enjoying press coverage that inexplicably credits him with political principles, despite frequent evidence of the contrary. The Washington blade reports today that the Senate is finally going to prove. The defense authorization bill including the repeal of Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell will apparently be brought up on the Senate floor next week.
So cancel your vacation and upgrade your cable package. Next week should be a big deal on Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell. So, that‘s what‘s going on on two fronts, the legal front and the political front. But there‘s actually a third front. Turning offshore and gathering force, threatening to blow Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell over with the hurricane force winds of super awesome celebrity glamour. That‘s nothing to do with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, it definitely has nothing to do with the John McCain. It‘s Lady Gaga. Yes, that‘s Lady Gaga last night at MTV‘s Video Music Awards. Her chosen dates for walking the red carpet, four former members of the United States military, all of them gay, all of whom either discharged under Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell or who resigned because of the policy.
Hang on a second, who is that guy walking with her? Oh yes, former Major Air force Mike Almy. We had him on this show last week. See, same guy. This is as close to glamour as THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW will ever get. Lady Gaga‘s other dates, to Gaga‘s left is former Army Sergeant First Class Stacy Vasquez there. All the way to the right, former Air Force staff Sergeant David Hall. And who is that? That‘s Katherine Miller, the cadet sergeant who resigned from West Point last month because of the onerousness of serving under Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell. She was here on our show on August 11th, again, the glamour. Now we know that the Venn diagram that includes THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and Lady Gaga intersects at least one point, the U.S military‘s policy of kicking out openly gay people for no reason other than the fact that they‘re openly gay.
We also know now that former West Point Cadet Katherine Miller must have had a really big few weeks since we last spoke. She joins us for the interview when we get back.
MADDOW: Six weeks ago Katherine Miller was a cadet at West Point, ranks 9th in her class of more than a thousand. Last month, she quit, she decided to transfer out of West Point because she believed that serving under Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell was compromising her integrity. Then last night, she went to the MTV Video Music Awards as a guest of Lady Gaga. You know, as you do.
Joining us now for the interview is Katherine Miller who has had a remarkable month or so. Katherine, thanks for being here.
KATHERINE MILLER, RESIGNED FROM WEST POINT OVER DADT: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: How did you end up going to the VMAs with Lady Gaga?
MILLER: All right. So, I was sponsored by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network actually last Tuesday to attend the concert. She was performing in Washington, D.C., and she specifically wanted to meet service members that had been discharged or had resigned because of policy. So, I had the opportunity to speak with her. And as well as, you know, the other service members. We told our stories and she‘s really touched by that. And she wanted to do something a little bit bigger, so she proposed the VMAs and we all accepted.
MADDOW: Sort of seems like you‘ve had a big month. When we last spoke, you were still in your dorm room at West Point. You‘ve submitted your resignation, hadn‘t been process, you were still technically a cadet. What‘s happened over the past month for you? What sort of changes have you been through?
MILLER: On 13th of August, 2010, I was officially discharged from the military. Since then, I‘ve been doing a media, really trying to get my story out there and on the 26th of August I moved in to Yale University dorm rooms and I started class September 1st. And the rest is history, I suppose.
MADDOW: Do people at Yale know your story and why you‘re there and that would the sort of your transfer, the reason that you left West Point?
MILLER: Absolutely they are familiar with it.
MADDOW: Do you have any trouble?
MILLER: They‘ve been overwhelmingly supportive. So, it‘s been a great environment to be part of.
MADDOW: Do you feel regretful, do you feel happy about the decision that you made or you just overwhelmed?
MILLER: Again, it‘s a huge feeling of ambivalence for me. I know I did left something that was a huge part of me and that I love. But at the same time, I know it was the right decision and I know I‘m in the right place to make a difference now.
MADDOW: I know that you were here when I was introducing this segment doing sort of an update a moment ago on what‘s happening on Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell. There‘s a lot of movement right now in the courts, the case last week, the log cabin republican‘s case, the Marjorie Witt case that‘s happening right now and Congress, for whatever reason, they may be ready to move in the Senate. When you think about your role as an advocate on this issue, do you feel optimistic that things are really going to change or do you feel like this is something that is just continually getting kicked down the road?
MILLER: I think in the past few months, we‘ve seen unprecedented progress in the repeal for this. So, undoubtedly we have the momentum to get this law finally repealed. So, I‘m absolutely optimistic but at the same time, I know that it‘s an act of diligence that‘s going to finally get this Laurie peeled.
MADDOW: What do you mean an act of diligence?
MILLER: I know right now it wasn‘t until today that the Senate finally scheduled a vote, you know, to get the vote on the agenda and it‘s going to take this continued attention to the issue to point out the fact that, hey, Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell is still affecting people today, that people are still getting kicked out of the military based solely on their sexual orientation and that‘s just wrong. And I think we lose sight of the fact that this policy is affecting people every day. So, I think, by bringing continue awareness to this and making it a big deal, then we‘re finally going to be able to get it repealed.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about your—tell me about the choices that you have made in the images from the VMAs, I‘m struck by the fact that you‘re in your West Point uniform, is that as were the other former members of the military who were with you is that, I don‘t know about the policy implications that has. Can you tell me about the decision to wear a uniform and whether or not that‘s a controversial issue for you?
MILLER: Certainly. So according U.S. code, title 10, section 772, I believe, if you were discharged honorably and you joined the military in a time of war, you are entitled to wear your uniform, you are entitled to that honor even though you‘re discharged and not part of the military anymore. So that was my rationale and the fact I still feel pride in wearing it, so I was absolutely going to wear it to the VMAs. But, more importantly, at the same time, I want to start by saying that I‘m a member of OutServe, it‘s an underground network of gay/lesbian/bi-sexual active duty soldiers. And a couple of months ago, I was part of that underground and I didn‘t have a voice. And since then I‘ve been put into a position where I‘m able to vocalize what the voiceless can‘t say and I‘m able to—by wearing my uniform to the VMAs make visible what was previously invisible, these soldiers. So although it was a controversial decision, I feel like I‘m doing the right thing.
MADDOW: And in terms of this being an underground network, do you mean there‘s some—there is an organized group of people who are not out in the military obviously because you can‘t be, but who know each other to be gay or do you mean the informal friendships and relationships that occur among people who will have to operate in a closet environment?
MILLER: No, OutServe is a formal organization where we‘re able to, you know, discuss issues pertaining to Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell and, you know, how we can become active in fighting against this. So OutServe is specifically for active duty members and people that don‘t have a voice in this issue right now.
MADDOW: If the policy is repealed either in the courts or politically, are you still thinking that you would get back into the army if you could?
MILLER: Absolutely. Military service is something that, you know, I‘m absolutely going to perform sometime in my lifetime. This commitment to public service is something that‘s near and dear to me and I will serve in military in some capacity whether it‘s by returning to West Point if it occurs in a timely manner or if it‘s commissioning, be a different commissioning source. But I will serve my country in one capacity or another.
MADDOW: As long as the country catches up to you.
MADDOW: Which is like much harder than it ought to be. Former West Point cadet and Lady Gaga escort, Katherine Miller, thank you so much for your bravery and service. Thank you.
All right. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith is joined by David Plouffe. If you want to know the democrats strategy for the mid-terms elections. You want to hear David Plouffe talk about it with Keith. Coming up on this show, the families of Supreme Court justices like the families of politicians are generally off limits for discussion in the news unless they insert themselves into the nation‘s politics.
And, Boy Howdy has the wife of Clarence Thomas qualified on those grounds. How Justice Thomas‘ spouse spends her weekends, why it is important and what she wears on her head. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Still ahead, just about the most interesting thing that‘s happened in Delaware politics since Delaware got its nickname. And Delaware‘s nickname is the first state. Totally unexpected republican political civil war has broken out. That is next.
MADDOW: We very rarely do this but I want you to see some tape tonight just because I want you to know that it exists. We have been researching the story of this tape all day today and as far as we can tell, we don‘t think there is any precedent for it in American history. We don‘t think there is any precedent for the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice being engaged in political activism to the extent that the wife of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is doing right now and of which we have tape.
In general, the family member of a Supreme Court justice would not be somebody whose activities would be considered inherently newsworthy. The same goes, at least as far as I‘m concerned, for politicians‘ families unless they get themselves involved in politics. But I don‘t know of anybody else who has ever held the job title Supreme Court justice while their spouse has been a very public national activist like this. So noted without further comment just so you know it‘s true, Clarence Thomas‘ wife Ginni Thomas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINNI THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS‘ WIFE: Hello, patriots.
It is a pleasure to be with you. What an honor. If you have a crown on, I feel like I‘m next to your heart and soul. Thank you so much. You guys are a gorgeous crowd. Can I just say thank you for coming to this wet and wicked city. Despite the lies from the other side, despite the intimidation, you are America‘s political first responders, and we thank you for coming out.
You are so powerful and so mighty that George Soros had to spend millions and millions of dollar to try to counter the real grassroots movement that you are building in the last 20 months. I‘ve been living and working in the Washington, D.C. area for 30 years, and I‘m here to tell you a couple of things that they are not going to tell you. First of all is they are scared to death of you.
They are scared. And they are hiding from you. And you know what‘s cool? We don‘t have to ride around Boston at midnight on horses, do we? We can stay in the comfort of our home, find each other, cause a little bit of trouble, get our voices heard, and get better and better. We‘re going to save this country.
Let me tell you, there‘s a war going on, and Washington wants to make it look real complicated, real technical. It‘s not so complicated. It‘s not so technical. We have got to stop this, you guys. This is not just a game. This is the biggest thing that has ever happened. And let me say, every day citizens have stayed, have tuck their feet in the ground and planted a flag in the ground and stopped tyranny before. And every generation has its time. And I guess this is our time, because we‘re all fulfilling pulled to the front lines.
Thank you so much. Can I just say, if something happens in Washington, my husband and I are heading to Texas.
What we‘re doing at libertycentral.org is equipping citizen leaders to lobby for liberty. And so my husband and I do really different things, by the way. But there was a tornado over our wedding when we got married. God knew that we were both troublemakers coming together. So I do policy. He does law. And I don‘t understand that world and I‘m glad God didn‘t tell me to do that, because I don‘t know how do that. But thank you after what you do from the front lines, I‘m telling you we need your help. We‘re at risk of losing the country. We have 61 days to put the brakes on this train that‘s heading for the cliff. And they thought we weren‘t going to wake up in time but they were wrong. Join me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They are scared to death of you. Cheers. There‘s a war going on against tyranny. We‘re at risk of losing the country. Ginni Thomas is married to Clarence Thomas who has a lifetime appointment as the justice of the United States Supreme Court. And other than that, we are noting that without comment.
MADDOW: There have been lots of hard fought republican primaries this election year all across the country, from Alaska, to Kansas, to Florida, in Nevada, all over the country. But when the media sums up the trend by saying it was an anti-incumbent year, they are part right but they‘re really only partly right. Specifically what‘s going on this year is a conservative movement uprising against establishment republican candidates. There‘s no mirror image thing going on in the Democratic Party, really. The uprising isn‘t just about incumbents, it‘s about the conservative movement hating the republican establishment. Now, that that means in Delaware Senate primary is a competition among republicans to see who counts as the establishment and who counts as the real insurgent conservatives. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and the Tea Party express organization all in one corner, all promoting a Tea Party identified candidate.
And in the other corner, the Republican Party in state is unified around a ninth term republican congressman, a man named Mike Castle. Here is a good way to see that. This is the Delaware Republican Party website and here is Mike Castle‘s website. They are mirror images of each other in terms of the Mike Castle‘s iconography in—cheerleading. The woman challenging Mike Castle in the primary is named Christine O‘Donnell. The state party filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission about her accusing the Tea Party express of illegally coordinating with the O‘Donnell campaign. The chairman of the Delaware Republican Party has been vociferous in his attacks on Christine O‘Donnell telling Politico.com that voters have been, quote, “laughing about her claims for the last two weeks.” In response to Christine O‘Donnell rather flagrantly ducking the press in Delaware, the state republican chairman said, quote, “I suppose they are probably keeping her hid away so she doesn‘t have to answer questions.”
Last week, that same state party chairman received a death threat for supporting Mike Castle over Christine O‘Donnell. It was an e-mail that said the chairman, quote, “deserved a bullet in the head for supporting Mike Castle.” The chairman‘s family has since moved out of their house. In Delaware, it is a closed primary tomorrow which means only registered republicans can vote. Only about an estimated 30,000 people are expected to vote in the republican primary, which basically means my high school graduating class could swing that election. Because despite all predictions and prognostications to the contrary, this race is turning out to be very close. Last month 60 percent of Delaware republicans said they had a favorable opinion of Mike Castle. Since then, a nearly 20-point drop-off. Most scary of all to the actual Republican Party in Delaware is that the same new poll shows Christine O‘Donnell with a three-point lead over Mike Castle.
Judging simply by poll numbers and by the expected very low turnout, it is not inconceivable that Christine O‘Donnell will win the republican senate primary in Delaware tomorrow. And then the state party, what, embraces her and helps her win and gets out the vote for their standard bearer Christine O‘Donnell? Really? If not, and that seems more likely than not, what‘s the Delaware Republican Party for after this? What‘s its function? With all this outsider candidates beating republicans who are supported by the party, running against the GOP, it‘s almost like the actual organized Republican Party is becoming a vestigial organ. Joke all you want about Christine O‘Donnell‘s extreme obstinate campaign and vestigial organs but if she wins, really, who runs her campaign, who funds it? And what does the real Republican Party in that state that‘s so horrified by her do in the general election? I love election years. That does it for us tonight. “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now. Have a good night.
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