'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, Oct. 13th, 2010
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Guests: Two Majors in the US Air Force, who asked that their identities not be revealed at this time.
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: And now to discuss the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” ruling with two men directly affected by the worldwide stop on enforcement—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us for exclusive coverage and footage you will see nowhere else tonight.
We have been entrusted with introducing you to two Americans whose bravery has been tested and proven in combat, whose capacity for dealing with incredible stress—physical stress and psychological stress—has been proven in thousands of flight hours as U.S. military fighter pilots. Two men whose career trajectories in the military look like the path of a fighter jet taking off, frankly. They are very successful active duty military.
They say they are fed up with what everyone keeps saying are the death throes of a policy that says they must be witch-hunted and fired from the only career either of them has ever known—a policy that remains in place today, despite mass confusion caused by a federal court striking it down.
MADDOW: You are an F-16 fighter pilot, multiple deployments, including combat missions in Iraq. You‘ve got not only a very impressive military career behind you, you have what seems to be a very impressive military career ahead of you. Why—why risk even this much coming out? Why is it important for you to talk about this now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that—the reason why now is, I‘ve seen us come so close. And with “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” to getting it repealed and it‘s like the carrot that‘s there in front of you. And we can‘t quite reach it.
And you can only sit on the sidelines for so long. It‘s not in my nature. I think most—most military members—it‘s not in our nature to sit on the sidelines and have someone else fight for us.
So I‘ve always wanted to get into the fight. And do a little bit more with the constraints that are obviously in place right now. So, that was really important to me to do what I can to put a face on the issue.
And I know there are other people that have come before me and will come after me that will do the same thing. And I think the more people who do that, the harder it is to argue against it. It‘s easy to be against an idea or to be bigoted against an idea. But it‘s a lot harder to do that when actually know a person.
MADDOW: You‘ve been in a long-term relationship—and I know—I know that‘s one of the reasons that you wanted to talk about the impact of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” on you personally.
What‘s important for people to understand about how the policy affects somebody who‘s in the military, who does have a same-sex partner?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear a lot of times that people say “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” works. I think they‘re not thinking beyond—they‘re not thinking broad enough in that if—and I like to equate it to for their spouse.
If they were told that they can‘t be seen with their spouse in public or if they are, they‘re constantly wondering, you know, how many—I‘m constantly with this person, what are people going to start saying? I can‘t show any affection in the supermarket, not even at home, because who knows if somebody might—my next door neighbor‘s military or knows someone who knows someone.
So, you‘re just—it‘s a very—it‘s an emotional strain to constantly live that life. So, again, I equate it to, if you would ask a heterosexual couple to completely hide every aspect of their relationship at work and in their personal life and then have them tell me if that works for them. And nobody would say it would work for them.
MADDOW: To the extent that it doesn‘t work for you, that it is that strain is not just present, but building over time as you have this long-term relationship, you‘ve lived this closeted life in the military. Are you considering leaving the military because of the policy? Is that contributing to a sense that you can‘t do this as long as the policy is in effect?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It—it is hard because I‘ve been in for several years. And it‘s crossed my mind that if this doesn‘t happen soon that I just—I won‘t—I can‘t emotionally keep going on. And then also, the impact of by virtue of being in the military, we move around a lot.
So, I‘m asking my partner to move around a lot, as well, where he‘d like to start a career. And he can‘t as long as we‘re under this pressure.
Whereas if “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” was overturned, I would have some other options available, hopefully, to allow us to live a more complete life that we just don‘t have right now. So, yes. The—if it doesn‘t, it would definitely contribute to—to me just saying, well, I‘ve had enough.
MADDOW: In terms of deploying and being in a relationship, how—how did you deal with the logistics of that? How would you deal with the responsibilities of that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you deploy, spouses have a lot of support back home. One of the things, you know, they get to say good-bye. I didn‘t get that luxury. I don‘t—other than in private at home. But he did not get to come out and see me good-bye, did not get to see me come home.
My partner had medical issues at the time that were pretty serious. And I didn‘t know how to deal with that either. Again, who would call me if something happened? And to him, and who would call him if something happened to me?
I was going integrated with an Army unit at the time to Fallujah, Iraq. And it was a wild west. And I had no idea what to expect.
So, I knew it was going to be dangerous. And I didn‘t know how he would be taken care of if something happened to me, God forbid. But one thing that did happen with his medical issues and fortunately I didn‘t find out until after I got back, but he was on the table. And had to—had to be basically paddled back to life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His heart just stopped. I didn‘t know that. He didn‘t tell me that.
MADDOW: You found out about it once you got home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I got home.
If that had been someone‘s spouse, they‘d been flown home immediately to be with them. There‘s nothing I could do. If he died, I‘d had to finish out my tour. Or risk getting kicked out of something that I‘ve always wanted to do, something I‘ve always loved doing, defending the country, defending the people of this country, and just doing something I love to do just because of that one fact.
And now, someone potentially—someone very close to me was on a table in a hospital and I couldn‘t be with them.
MADDOW: How did you deal with the prospect of you being injured or killed in action while you were in Iraq? How did you deal with trying to make sure that he would be notified? If anything happened to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I struggled with that because we weren‘t—we‘d only been together for a few months. So, I didn‘t know quite how it worked, the military didn‘t have anything set up to where I could make sure he would be notified. I wasn‘t out to any of my friends and family at the time, so I couldn‘t tell them.
One thing—the only thing I could do is, I wrote a letter to my best friend and sealed it and sent it to him. And he was to open it if something happened. And that basically laid everything out and explained everything to him.
MADDOW: But you weren‘t out to him at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was not out to him at the time. Right.
MADDOW: So, if something happened to you, he‘d be opening a letter, a sealed letter that said, “Don‘t open unless something happens to me,” and that‘s how he would‘ve learned?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
MADDOW: That doesn‘t seem like a very good system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It doesn‘t work for me. And it doesn‘t work for a lot of people, unfortunately.
MADDOW: Have you been able to come out to friends or family or anybody in the military since then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the military, no, other than mutual friends who happen to be gay or lesbian, as well.
MADDOW: You‘re out to other gay—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
MADDOW: -- other service members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. With the exception of my friend who is straight, and he‘s been great with it. But other than him, that would be it.
MADDOW: Do you think that if “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” was repealed, that you would tell everybody? How would you handle it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think anybody would—would still know. I think the majority of the members in the military are going to go into work the next day and keep doing their job just the way they have all along.
But what we won‘t have to worry about is the what-if. What if someone finds out? If the discussion comes up, hey, what did you do last weekend? Why didn‘t you go out with us? And I can tell them, and without worrying about my career.
So that‘s—that‘s—it‘s going to allow me to be more open when the discussions are there. But for me personally, and some people may be different, but I don‘t see me coming in the next day at work and waving a rainbow flag.
MADDOW: My interview today with an active duty combat veteran U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter pilot. We agreed to shield his identity because of the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy, which remains in effect despite a lot of controversy about that. More ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do you think you‘re courting being discharged from the Air Force for having done that though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I‘m putting myself at risk and I‘m putting myself at risk by doing this interview today even though it‘s in shadow. But again, I think it‘s important for me to take responsibility for something that directly affects my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Exclusive footage from two of the men bearing the brunt of the civil rights policy the Obama administration keeps saying it wants to change, but which today remains in place—to increasingly frayed nerves and stress and more besides.
MADDOW: A federal judge last night ordered a halt to the implementation of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” a stop to the discharges, a stop to the investigations affecting U.S. military personnel worldwide. Now, nobody exactly knows what the impact of that ruling is. But what‘s—what‘s your reaction to what is—what is a landmark step towards ending this policy. What‘s been the reaction among other people you know in the military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s cautious optimism, to use that term. It‘s exciting.
We would—I think everybody agrees it would, in a perfect world, it would have been nice to have this accomplished in Congress. It was—
“don‘t ask, don‘t tell” was developed in Congress in conjunction with the administration at the time. So, it seems only right that was—that would be the way to undo it, as well. And that would be the correct way.
However, this country has three branches of government. And they‘re all equal. And one of the roles of the judicial government or judicial branch is to ensure equal rights for everybody. And to right a wrong where wrong has been made.
And I think the—what we‘re seeing finally is that judges are seeing where “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” is wrong. And it does not enhance good order and discipline in military units. And that‘s why the ruling is what it is.
So, to answer a question, we‘ll take it in the courts if that‘s the way it has to happen. And then, hopefully, Congress will come around later.
MADDOW: How do you feel about President Obama‘s leadership on this issue?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lacking—to be straightforward. It‘s frustrating to see so much emphasis and it is an important issue, the health care issue was a very important issue. And I was glad to see that get through. And he showed leadership and really did a lot to get a very difficult bill through.
But it‘s frustrating to see a lack—we hear the words, but we don‘t see the action and it‘s frustrating to—to not see any true action from the White House on this issue, pressuring Congress and Senate especially when the defense authorization bill was voted on, to not see the president come out and really throw his support behind it, and to try to pressure the Senate to act on it.
So, it‘s frustrating.
MADDOW: In light of this ruling yesterday, is there something that if you could wave a magic wand, if you can make policy decision for the White House right now, what would you want to see the president do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instruct his Justice Department to not appeal the decision. Once—once that is done, the—I hate to use the word Pandora‘s Box, because that‘s a negative connotation—but that‘s open. Regardless of what happens in 2012 with the presidential elections, if we will have gone two years without “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” you can‘t put that back in the box. You can‘t put people back in the closet.
So, to think that another president will come along and undo it, I think it‘s—it would be very difficult. It‘s not to say that they wouldn‘t try, but if you have thousands of people in your military who are already out and have been out for two years, you‘re not going to be able to put them back in the closet. So, I would say let it ride and let the appeal or do not—do not appeal it and let the judges‘ decision go as is.
MADDOW: Our exclusive interview today with a combat veteran F-16 fighter pilot whose identity we agreed to shield because his private sexual orientation is still a fire-able offense in America.
I also spoke today with an F-15 fighter pilot and decorated combat veteran and Air Force Academy graduate who has and who continues to serve in very demanding, high-prestige positions in the United States Air Force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really doesn‘t work. As I‘ve said, I‘ve already come out to several people in my unit and I‘ve had 100 percent positive response from people that I‘ve told. But every time I do that or someone else does that, it puts them in legal jeopardy.
So, there are already gay service members—obviously, there have been gay service members since the beginning of time in the military. And we‘re just putting those people in a situation that they can get themselves in trouble. And why is their service any less valuable than a straight service member?
I don‘t think once repeal happens that there‘s going to be a big outcry in the military that is going to make this difficult to implement. There will be some people that will have issues with serving with openly gay and lesbian service members. But there are people that have issues any time the military does something. And that‘s not a reason to keep a flawed policy in place.
MADDOW: Do you feel that individual service members coming out and telling their story about how this policy affects them makes a difference toward the end of the policy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, it does. I was very excited about Judge Phillips‘ ruling. And it moves us one step forward.
But all of these steps are with individual people that have to come out and either they‘re forced out or they choose to come out and try and push the issue forward. And if we don‘t have people that continue to do this, I‘m worried that the process could stall. We‘ve already seen that happen in the Senate. And the White House, quite frankly in my personal opinion, hasn‘t pushed it with enough leadership.
So, I think we have to continue to take individual responsibility to try and repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”
MADDOW: What would—what would adequate leadership in your opinion look like from the White House? What do you want from them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like, if the president, first of all, would come out more vociferously in a public forum about his opposition to “don‘t ask, don‘t tell”—he‘s done that on a couple of occasions in the media.
But the other thing that he can do is push the Senate to act. He didn‘t take a very rabid leadership stance on the appropriations bill when it was up a few weeks ago. And now, he seems to be sitting by when the lame duck session starts and he says he expects them to repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” at that time. But I‘m not confident that they‘re ready to do that.
The other thing the president could do is just issue an executive order that, at the very least, provides a moratorium for discharging gay and lesbian service members until the policy is repealed by Congress.
MADDOW: Do you think that a moratorium like that, an announcement of a moratorium like that, would be disruptive in the military? The military‘s engaged in the study right now of how they would repeal “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” if it is to be repealed. That‘s due in just a few weeks, December 1st.
Would a stay essentially of the policy be chaotic in the military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think it would be, Rachel. I think everyone knows that this policy is on its way out the door. It‘s just a question of timing really.
But it‘s important for the president to take a leadership role on this. And there are people that are facing discharge at this very moment. So, why are we waiting another few weeks, or it‘s been years now since the president said to Victor Fehrenbach, we‘re going to get this done? Why do we need to wait another month, two months when we have service members that are at risk of discharge at this very moment?
Everyone knows the policy is on its way out. The military, I think, is prepared for it. And I honestly don‘t think it‘s going to make that big of a difference in individuals‘ lives in the military.
MADDOW: Let me ask you something about that was released in response to this ruling yesterday. There‘s a group called OutServe, which is essentially a network of gay service personnel obviously that has to be—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I belong to it.
MADDOW: -- as you know, closeted network by necessity because this policy. OutServe put out a press release in response.
An active duty co-director who goes by a pseudonym is the person who is quoted here because I can‘t use their name. And the quote is this, “We are hearing through our networks that troops think DADT is done. They‘re reading the headlines and there‘s a general feeling that it‘s over. Our underground is reporting that straight soldiers are inadvertently outing their gay friends. Gay service members are thinking it‘s OK to come out. Some commanders are giving confusing guidance because they‘ve seen repeated reports that the courts have declared the policy unconstitutional.”
Are you—does that resonate with you? Is that what you think of the impact of this ruling has been and is going to be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. And I think one of the dangers is that we do have a lot of younger service members—young airmen, young marines, young soldiers, that maybe hear of a ruling that issues an injunction against the military for discharging people, not knowing that that ruling can be appealed by the Department of Justice and they may put themselves in jeopardy by coming out to people in their units or to their commanders when the policy hasn‘t been repealed yet.
And it worries me that we have this—this kind of nebulous policy right now with the courts saying one thing, Congress completely not acting, and DOD is kind of in a place where individual service members can put themselves in jeopardy because there is no clear guidance right now.
MADDOW: So, is that why you think that a moratorium announced from the White House would create clarity would remove that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MADDOW: In terms of your—your decision-making about this. You do have a very high-flying career in the Air Force. You have also made a decision to do this interview. You‘ve also, as I understand it, written to United States senators using your name, essentially outing yourself and making clear your position on this policy.
Why have you done that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I think it‘s important that each individual take responsibility for something that directly affects their lives. I did send three letters to three individual senators that have been active on both sides of this issue. Obviously, I don‘t want to name who those are because I think it puts my identity at jeopardy.
I haven‘t received a response from any of those three senators, not even a “thank you for your e-mail” or “thank you for your letter.” And I did identify myself in all of those letters to the senators. It‘s disappointing that the Senate just has not been able to act at this point.
MADDOW: Do you think that you‘re courting being discharged from the Air Force for having done that though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I‘m putting myself at risk and I‘m putting myself at risk by doing this interview even though it‘s in shadow. But, again, I think it‘s important for me to take responsibility for something that directly affects my life.
MADDOW: What does the military lose? What does the country lose if you are kicked out of the military? If you‘re kicked out of the Air Force because of this policy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they‘re going to lose a 14-year veteran of the Air Force, a very experienced F-15 pilot, an instructor. I‘ve been an instructor at several bases around the world. Combat veteran and someone who‘ve spent millions of dollars on.
But regardless of the money, it‘s—if they lost me, other gay service members, we are the ones that are training the young service members coming up now. And so, they‘d lose a lot of experience that they would have to completely start over with.
MADDOW: Are you prepared with the activism you‘ve engaged in thus far? Are you prepared to lose your career over this issue?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve obviously thought about the consequences of some of my activism. And that‘s why I‘ve taken some of the precautions as far as shadow, et cetera. But yes, if the Air Force decided to investigate me and I lost my career, I‘d be prepared to accept those consequences.
I think it‘d be foolish to come into something like this without thinking about the consequences ahead of time.
MADDOW: What would happen if a moratorium were announced? What would happen to you if the policy was repealed, or the policy was effectively ended pending an expected repeal? What would change in your life? What would you do differently? How would you come out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my day-to-day life in the squadron, it wouldn‘t change my life that much. I‘m not going to walk into the squadron and announce to everyone that I‘m homosexual. I quite frankly think that your sexuality belongs outside of the workplace and shouldn‘t be in the workplace anyway.
But, at least with—I‘ve already told a few close friends in the squadron. And at least with people I choose to tell, that I choose to trust, I would not have then that legal jeopardy hanging over my head that I could lose my career for—maybe someone that I misjudged that I thought I could trust and told that they could then turn me in. At least I wouldn‘t have that legal jeopardy hanging over my head every day.
MADDOW: Do you feel that legal jeopardy—that sort of lurking threat to your career? Do you feel it every day?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. It causes—it causes quite a bit of stress. I think, you know, as a pilot, we‘re trained to compartmentalize our thoughts. So, it doesn‘t affect my job on a day-to-day basis as far as being a fighter pilot, but it causes stress every day.
When you do get investigated or when someone does make a statement, it causes, you know, stress either in the form of discomfort or in the fact that you could lose your career.
MADDOW: As a gay man serving in the Air Force right now, if—if the policy didn‘t exist—obviously, the policy creates all sorts of stress and injustice under which you are living. But if the policy doesn‘t exist, do you think that the military is a good career, positive service—a positive public service choice for people who are gay?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. It‘s been a great life for me. And I really appreciate everything the military‘s given to me. Not just the training, but the confidence. And it‘s allowed me to serve my country, which was very important to me when I was in high school.
You know—I see high school kids now that lately we‘ve had a rash of gay-bashings, gay suicides. And I look at these kids and think about if I was in their shoes when I was 15, 16, 17, 18 years old, it does make a difference that the government has a policy that says you are not good enough to serve in the U.S. military. And I think that‘s a terrible message that the government is sending to society and its sending to these young people. Obviously, it doesn‘t directly contribute to the gay suicides that we‘ve seen lately. But if you have a government that tells you that you‘re not as good as someone else, it‘s a bad message to send.
MADDOW: Well, Major, thank you—thank you for your service and thank you for making the decision to do this interview. I know that it is not an easy decision. So, I‘m really grateful for your time, sir.
MADDOW: We shielded the identities of these two Air Force majors today. Both combat veteran fighter pilots, because they are both liable to be fired from the military—yes, even now, even after that court ruling, because of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: On my way today to conduct these two exclusive interviews we‘ve done with two American fighter pilots who would be fired from the military if they revealed their identities because of the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy.
On my way into those interviews today, I handed somebody else onset my Blackberry. I said, “The sound guy, Larry, the sound guy, is going to tell everybody to turn off their Blackberries. So turn of yours and if everybody else turned off theirs, but secretly don‘t turn this one off. Keep this one on and keep your eye on the inbox.”
Because, if in the middle of me talking to these fighter pilots, the White House or the Pentagon announces they are complying with that judge‘s order, that the implementation of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is going to be put on pause, if the decision is made to stop implementing the policy that is the subject of these interviews, you have to stop the interview.
If the decision on this pops on my Blackberry while I‘m interviewing these fighter pilots today, interrupt the interview. Just walk over, tap me on the shoulder and hand this to me and we will stop what we‘re doing, because these fighter pilots, I think, may want me to turn the lights on at that point.
They are ready to stop lying about who they are and to stop worrying every day that they could be fired at any moment that‘s why they told us they wanted to be on this TV show to talk about this. So I said to poor Julia at the end of this shoot, “Secretly don‘t turn off my Blackberry and interrupt me when something happens.”
She did not interrupt me because nothing happened. No word from the Pentagon or from the White House about a response to the court-ordered injunction banning implementation of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” today. Rather, we are told to expect probably imminently that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling and appeal to stay the injunction.
Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman had this off-camera but on-the-record explanation today, quote, “The president strongly believes that this policy is unjust, that it is detrimental to our national security and that it discriminates against those who are willing to die for their country. And the president strongly believes that it‘s time for this policy to end.”
“As you know, the president has implemented a process with the Department of Defense, with the Secretary of Defense, with Admiral Mullen, and with the other members of the joint-chiefs, to move forward in implementing an end to this policy in an orderly way.”
“The best way to end it is for the Senate to follow the lead of the House of Representatives so that end can be implemented in a fashion that‘s consistent with our obligations in fighting two wars.”
“But absent that action,” he said, “The president, again has set up a process to end this policy. The bottom line is that this is a policy that‘s going to end. It‘s not whether it will end, but the process by which it will end.”
Here‘s the thing. The White House line, the line from the administration on this now is that they‘d like the Senate to repeal it. Absent that action, the spokesman said. Absent that action. Absent the Senate voting to repeal it. Absent the moon crashing through the atmosphere and turning us all to green cheese.
Absent that action of the Senate repealing “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell”, the White House says there is an orderly process underway to get rid of the policy. And that orderly process is that the Senate will repeal it? The White House is sternly ensuring everyone that the policy will end.
And when you drill down on how they say it will end, they say it will end because the Senate will end it even though the Senate has just chosen not to end it and the Senate is poised to get more conservative not less in the imminent elections.
This is incoherence. OutServe, the underground network of gay service personnel, has reported that there is a widespread perception in the military in the wake of the ruling that the court ruling against the policy yesterday means the policy is over.
Service members, legal defense network had set up a Web site “SLDN.org/StillAtRisk” to warn the members of military to not come out, that the policy is still in effect. We were told in all of our queries today that anyone coming out in the military now is absolutely still at risk of being fired for doing so. It is not over.
The policy is still in effect and the plan from the White House for ending it is apparently to count on the United States Senate to do the right thing. That‘s the plan.
Aaron Belkin, an expert on the issue at U.C. Santa Barbara told the “New York Times” today the thing that everybody else is dancing around and unwilling to admit, that, “Unless the president declines to appeal the ruling in Log Cabin Republicans versus the United States, the ‘Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell‘ policy probably will remain law for years.”
He‘s right, unless you believe the U.S. Senate is going to do the right thing by gay people. This year, with John McCain still there and a slate of Republican Senate candidates that includes an activist against women even serving in the military who once toured the country promoting the idea that being gay is curable, you know, like as if it‘s athlete‘s foot or something.
Unless you believe that the United States Senate after this year‘s elections is going to do the right thing by gay service members, hah, then the decision by the Obama administration whether or not to appeal this ruling is likely a decision between killing this policy now and letting it survive probably forever.
This is not the conclusion I expected to reach after today‘s reporting on this subject and after today‘s interviews. Everybody says the Justice Department appealing this ruling is an inevitability. It does not have to be. It is not inevitable. If the administration believes the law is unconstitutional, there is precedent that supports the administration not appealing it and letting the law die.
An orderly time frame for the death of a law can be arranged with the court. I hereby declare that I will never get another callback in Washington ever again for putting it this way to you, but it is the way it is. A plan that has no chance of becoming reality is not a real plan no matter how much you say it is. You can either end it or you can stop saying you will. Thank you very much.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MATT LEWIS, HOST, “THE MATT LEWIS SHOW”: Tell us a little bit about you and your business experience and how you got here.
JOHN RAESE ®, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE FOR WEST VIRGINIA: Well, I made my money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it. And I think that‘s a great thing to do.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I made my money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it. Most people use that line when they are recounting an old, tired joke. When John Raese, Republican nominee for Senate in West Virginia says it, he means it.
John Raese has repeatedly and proudly cited his inherited wealth while also proudly proposing that the minimum wage be abolished for everyone. I mean, hey, it never did him any good.
John Raese‘s candidacy is turning out to have a little touch of
the crazy Carl phenomenon, a little touch of the Paladino. Case in point -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAESE: You do not negotiate with people like - I have a hard time pronouncing this - armadajon(ph), armadanga-dingo(ph). Help me. Armadijon - remember, I‘m not a career politician.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAESE: He even acted around the audience he doesn‘t know the correct pronunciation. You keep up the act. Keep it up. This is his act. This is an act. This is not just the Ahmadinejad thing. He does it all the time.
Last month, he was talking about the nation‘s first Latino supreme court justice. He pretended not to be able to say - not only the names Sotomayor, but also the name Sonya. He instead called her “Sarah Manor” “Sarah Manorgan(ph),” and “Sarah Morgan.”
Then at a September 9th appearance, John Raese described the nation‘s Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has just visited West Virginia - he talked about him this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAESE: J. Rockefeller. And he just brought to Charleston yesterday Dr. Cho, or Dr. Chow, or Dr. Chow Mein. I don‘t know what his name is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Chow Mein, he called him, because apparently John Raese is the hate-able balding character from “Office Space” who looked like Dick Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We‘re already getting rid of these people here. Where is Mr. Samir(ph), now that he - he‘s not going to work here anymore, anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Chow Mein. Get it? Why people can‘t say words like “Chu” or “Sonya.” Get it? It does now seem conceivable that John Raese, Republican Senate candidate from West Virginia is not only bow-guarding his comedy stylings from late ‘90s comedies. That‘s also where he‘s getting his policy ideas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAESE: We are sitting with the only technology in the world that works, and it‘s laser technology. We need 1,000 laser systems put in the sky, and we need it right now. That is paramount importance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Submitted for your consideration -
MIKE MYERS, ACTOR: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads. Now, evidently, my cycloptic colleague informs that that can‘t be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As evidence mounts that John Raese‘s West Virginia Senate candidacy may be a practical joke or at least an homage to late ‘90s comedy. It is worth considering the one truly salient difference between John Raese of West Virginia and crazy Carl - crazy Carl Paladino of New York state.
Carl Paladino isn‘t going to win his race in a million years. John Raese, actually, within shooting distance, laser beams and all. For his next bid, our staff office pool says it‘ll be some riff on “American Pie,” hopefully not involving actual pie. But this year, who knows?
MADDOW: Excellent booking night yet again on the “LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell. Fresh off the debate with Christine O‘Donnell tonight, Lawrence will be talking with Delaware Senate candidate, Democrat Chris Coons.
Coming up on this show, do you remember when Newt Gingrich accidentally gave an award to a Dallas strip club and then he took it back and there were feelings hurt? That story got so much worse.
MADDOW: Officials in Chile had estimated that if all went well, it would take 24 to 48 hours to rescue all 33 miners trapped in that gold and copper mine. But tonight, they exceeded their best estimate. The final miner reached the surface at 8:55 p.m. Eastern, about 22.5 hours after this extraordinary rescue operation began.
The last miner to make it to the surface as planned was Luis Urzua. He is the foreman and leader on the crew who said he would not leave until every other man on his team had been rescued first.
After reaching the surface, the crew chief introduced himself to the president of Chile. And then he told the president, “We hope we can avoid an accident like this from ever happening again.” We will be right back.
MADDOW: Like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich is one of those folks who is seen as vaguely in politics. He gets to go on TV and talk about politics a lot even though he technically does not have a job in politics.
He‘s a political celebrity without portfolio. He‘s been out of office for a very long time and is now sort of just famous for being famous. But just because he doesn‘t have a real job does not mean that Newt Gingrich isn‘t making a lot of money in politics.
The closest thing Newt Gingrich has to a job is heading up the organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future. What is American Solutions for Winning the Future? What does it do? Mostly, it promotes Newt Gingrich.
An AP analysis of the organization earlier this month determined that American Solutions has spent nearly all of the $20 million it‘s raised over the past two years on administrative expenses and travel expenses, including at least $2.2 million on private jets and executive chauffeur services.
So Newt‘s group raises money to spend money and it spends money on raising more money. And it does that by flying Newt Gingrich around. It‘s a Newt Gingrich promotional vehicle.
Also, it‘s sort of a chain letter-y scam. You might remember that we first got worried about Newt‘s organization last fall, when they reported that they had accidentally tried to give a sort of fake scam business award to a strip club in Texas.
The owner of the strip club, a woman named Dawn Rizos, got a very nice letter from Mr. Gingrich through his organization, American Solutions.
The letter said she had been selected to receive an Entrepreneur of the Year Award at a special dinner with Newt Gingrich himself in Washington. All she had to do was please send a check immediately for $5,000, which she did happily. She was very excited about the award.
But then Mr. Gingrich‘s group rescinded the invitation and the award saying they did not realize they sent it to a gentleman‘s club. But the happy ending to that story was that, well, we got to create the best graphic we‘ve ever created, “Live Newt Girls.”
B, the topless club owner so embarrassed the fly-by-night Newt Gingrich scam fundraising operation that Dawn and her business got back the $5,000 that Newt Gingrich had conned them out of. They used that $5,000 to open a rescue facility for injured pit bulls when our own Kent Jones learned about when he visited the club in question last fall. Yay, Kent.
Dawn‘s business was also allowed to keep their commemorative award gavel fake signed by Newt Gingrich, which, in appreciation for our coverage of their plight, they sent to us and I keep it on my bookshelf in my office. And I look at it every day and I love it.
So now, when all of that happened last year, we thought the whole American Solutions-Newt Gingrich fundraising operation seemed shady. It turns out, really shady. They don‘t just seem shady. They are guaranteed now with 120 percent more shadiness free.
Sam Stein, a reporter at “The Huffington Post” has uncovered the newest iteration of Newt Gingrich‘s sort of job as a head of shady moneymaking sham operation.
Now, Newt Gingrich has moved on to trying to hustle doctors under the ruse of opposing Obama Care. It turns out that reporter Sam Stein‘s mom is a doctor. She‘s a doctor who was selected to receive a totally awesome super exclusive award from Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Stein, inquiring mind that he is, called up the number that was listed on the letter for more information. And wouldn‘t you know it, his mother‘s awesome doctor award was going to cost her $5,000. This fake $5,000 doctor award is being marketed in exactly the same way as last year‘s fake $5,000 business but not strip club award.
Check it out. On the left here, that‘s the invite that was sent to the strip club owner, Dawn Rizos, last year. On the right, that‘s the invite that went out to Sam Stein‘s doctor mom this month.
You might notice when we zoom in that they both appear to have little handwritten notes to the award recipients in exactly the same handwriting. Exactly - exactly the same handwriting.
Yes. It looks like handwriting. It‘s a font. It is a cheesy, made-to-look-like-handwriting font. And it is, by all appearances, the same font from scam to scam from year to year.
And look at this. On the left, you‘ve got here a picture of the plaque and commemorative gavel that Newt Gingrich couldn‘t wait to send to Dawn Rizos in exchange for $5,000.
On the right, the plaque that‘s just waiting to be claimed for the low, low price of $5,000 by Sam Stein‘s mom, the doctor. This would look great in your office. The template has not changed, not even a little bit.
Newt Gingrich‘s dodgy, moneymaking operation is using the exact same cheesy, “this is a scam” sales pitch on physicians this year as it was using on business owners last year.
Whatever Newt Gingrich actually believes about any given policy on any given day, he has clearly mastered the art of turning any given political issue into an opportunity to scam more Americans out of $5,000 at a time with this fake handwriting font and phony awards scheme.
Against cap and trade, good for you. Here‘s a novelty gavel for just one easy payment of $5,000. Don‘t like financial reform? Neither do we. Take this personalized plaque as a token of our affection for the low, low price of $5,000.
Do you despise Obama Care? It just so happens we are having a despise Obama Care party just for you. Admission: $5,000.
American Solutions sends out this thinly-disguised sham awards sales pitches in order to raise money to fly Newt Gingrich around the country to raise his public image so that they can get more people to pay $5,000 for a fake scam award when they see his name on a letter.
Here‘s the bottom line, no matter who you are, if you get something in the mail from Newt Gingrich, it‘s a scam. Do not send him any money. Do not call the toll-free number. Do not believe that is actual handwriting. It‘s a scam. You will not get a set of knives. It will not slice, dice or julienne.
Newt Gingrich is a con artist who presumably will run for president so he can raise his price per scam from $5,000 to $10,000.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night. Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell. Hi, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE LAST WORD”: Come on, Rachel, a disgraced former politician has to make a living somehow.
MADDOW: You know for $5,000, I‘d be happy to debate if you will.
O‘DONNELL: All right. We‘ll do that someday. Thanks, Rachel.
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