'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, April 18th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Chris Hayes, Ann Mah
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for stay with us for the next hour. Happy Patriots Day. Today is Patriots Day in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a day that commemorates the famous shot heard around the world, the opening shots fired on Lexington Green that kicked off the American Revolution.
Patriots Day means that if you live in Massachusetts, your state taxes, I think, are not due today. They‘re due tomorrow because today is a holiday. Everybody else everywhere else in the country, today was the deadline for taxes.
And Tax Day nowadays means Tea Parties.
Remember when the Tea Party was supposed to stand for “Taxed Enough Already.” right?
In 2009 and in 2010 on Tax Day, there were really big Tea Party rallies all across the country. Two years ago in, say, Olympia, Washington, there were between 4,000 and 5,000 people rallying on Tax Day. Last year, they still had a pretty good number. They had about 3,000 people.
This year, the Washington state Tea Party groups called for their third annual Tax Day Tea Party rally. Would they get 4,000 or 5,000 people like they did two years ago? Would they get 3,000 people like they did last year?
No, they would not. They got 350 people.
In the Republican Party stronghold of Orange County, California, this was some of the coverage of the big Tax Day Tea Party protest there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amid a chorus of honking car horns, around a dozen Tea Party activists and a few anti-Tea Party demonstrators converged on Laguna Beach on Saturday to protest raising taxes and to bring awareness to their respective causes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A dozen. Not counting the people in the bikinis.
Tea Party protesters planned a big rally today in Chicago, Illinois, as well. Local media told Chicago to expect thousands of Tea Party demonstrators. What Chicago actually got was several hundred.
They even had a presidential candidate at that one. They had Herman Cain, the pizza guy.
Herman Cain was one of four presidential hopefuls who headlined a big banner Concorde, New Hampshire, Tea Party on Friday. The four presidential hopefuls were Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer, and Tim Pawlenty—all four appearing at the big Tax Day Tea Party thing in Concorde, New Hampshire. With four presidential candidates in New Hampshire, they got 300 people to show up.
To be fair, though, that may have had something to do with Tim Pawlenty being there. Everything that Mr. Pawlenty does these days seems to get very low attendance figures. Mr. Pawlenty also went to this Tax Day Tea Party in Des Moines, Iowa. Can you see the overwhelming crowd?
He addressed a not quite standing room only crowd of, again, about 300 people, generously speaking.
Remember Sharron Angle in Nevada. Sharron Angle who was favored to beat Harry Reid this past fall in that state‘s hotly contested Senate race. Sharron Angle headlined this Tax Day Tea Party Rally in Las Vegas, which drew apparently about 250 people at its peak. But reportedly, the figures there dropped to about, well, around about 100 people by the time Sharron Angle started doing this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: She‘s good.
About 150 people who had earlier been at the rally missed that. Down to a few dozen by the time she was singing.
Sharron Angle, for all I ever said about you on this air, I never knew you were that good a singer. I‘m sorry.
Even the Tea Party rallies that you would expect to be really big because of where they were and because of who was headlining them, even the things you—the ones that you thought would turn out to be sort of big, bragging on the turnout events, they just didn‘t really get very many people. Places like Columbia, South Carolina, for example, deep red South Carolina. They had their newly elected sitting governor, Nikki Haley speaking, as well as probably the most crowd-pleasing of all the likely Republican presidential candidates, Michele Bachmann.
The Michele Bachmann and Nikki Haley Tea Party rally attracted a grand total of, again, about 300 people. The same event two years ago reportedly attracted 10 times that many people.
So, where are they this year? What‘s going on?
The tiny crowd sizes in all of these cities and state capitals this year when compared to what those same cities and state capitals attracted from Tea Partiers in years past, it‘s all the more remarkable when you consider that last year and the year before—in addition to much better attendance at all those rallies in the cities, all of those rallies in the cities in 2009 and 2010 were also competing for attendees with big Tea Party rallies in Washington, D.C. Remember, in 2009, tens of thousands of Tea Partiers turned up in Washington on Tax Day.
In 2010, same deal. Thousands and thousands of people descended on D.C. in addition to all the rallies in the cities and the state capitals.
But this year, this year, you know, the last few national calls for Tea Partiers to converge on Washington produced very, very, very small crowds. They did not even try calling for a national Tax Day Tea Party rally in D.C. this year. There just wasn‘t one. They didn‘t do it.
So, they had very small turnout in all of the cities in the state capitals where they had rallies. They didn‘t have one in D.C. competing with them, and still, it just kind of fizzled.
I think the writing has been on the wall for a while now about the strength of the Tea Party. Last month, there was supposed to be a big Tea Party convention down in Tampa, Florida. This is what that looked like. A convention that had 25 guest speakers, including Republican Congressman Ron Paul attracted, again, about 300 people. Very large rooms—very large empty rooms full of no one.
I‘m not saying that the Tea Party has never been strong. And it has always been a weak movement, that they never had energetic political mojo, but judging by their public events—which is what we used to judge them by when we said they were strong—the Tea Party seems to have peaked. It seems to be over. Someone please tell the Beltway press.
The Tea Party is still credited by the Beltway press with being hugely powerful force. That diagnosis by the Beltway press in turn gives them a big influence in Washington. Republicans are allowed to stake out policy positions way to the right of where they might otherwise be because they supposedly have to answer to this ferocious, big, energized street movement that‘s going to hold them accountable.
This has the effect of pulling Republicans negotiating positions further and further to the right, which means that after Democrats try to negotiate with them. The policy outcomes achieved by those negotiations also shift further and further to the right. There‘s not much empirical evidence of the existence of this Tea Party thing as a big movement anymore.
But as long as nobody in Washington reports on that or notices that, Republicans in Washington can still use the idea of the Tea Party as a means of pushing the debate as far right as they want to push it.
The one Tax Day Tea Party event that seems to have gotten any crowd of any significant size this year was this weekend in Madison, Wisconsin. Sarah Palin spoke there on Saturday. She stood at a podium that read, quote, “I am AFP.” That stands for Americans for Prosperity. Sarah Palin, I am Americans for Prosperity.
Americans for Prosperity is the Koch brothers funded group that organized this rally and that has supported the union-stripping Republicans in Wisconsin politics.
According to reported estimates, the Saturday Madison rally drew a total of about 6,000 people. But there is an asterisk on that figure that is larger than the figure itself, which is that what seems to have inflated the Sarah Palin Tea Party event numbers to respectable size is a very large number of counter protesters, people who were not there to cheer on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but who were there to show their disagreement with both Ms. Palin and the Tea Party message.
The local news station WMTV describes the core of Tea Partiers there to see Sarah Palin as being, quote, “flanked on all sides by union protesters.”
If you want to talk about political strength made manifest in the streets, then the story of 2011 is the story of the Democratic base. Even if—even if you wanted to erase history, right, even if you wanted to ignore what everybody said about the character of those protesters in Madison, even if you just decide to be generous that every single one of those 6,000 people had turned out to cheer for Sarah Palin instead of cheering against her, even if that were true, put that 6,000 figure up against this—the massive rallies held at the same location week after week after week in the last few months, 30,000 one weekend, 70,000 the next weekend, 100,000 the weekend after that—all in support of union rights. And, frankly, nary a celebrity to be seen, there‘s no great Democratic Party figures rallying those folks.
This is the Democratic base rallying themselves against the Republicans. These crowds are there on policy, on principle.
Same thing in Michigan where the state capitol in Lansing saw its largest protests ever, pro-union protesters. There are protesters there against the Republican approach to the budget there.
Same thing in Columbus, Ohio—big sustained protests week after week. Not, hey, show up here this one day. These rallies were day after day after day.
In Olympia, Washington, which I cited as an example at the top here, where the Tea Party rally got 350 people this year. In Olympia, Washington, they look back on the glory days as when they got 4,000 or 5,000 people back in 2009, right? Back in 2009, 4,000 or 5,000 people. That‘s probably when they peaked.
Did it get any national coverage at all when 7,000 people turned out in Olympia this month to protest union stripping and budget cuts? Protesters turned out on the other side of the issues?
I recognize that there‘s an institutional resistance to covering direct action protest movements, but if you‘re going to say the country and its politics have been transformed by one side‘s protests in the streets and then you‘re going to completely ignore the other side‘s larger protests in the streets, there ought to at least be an explanation for that inconsistency, you guys. And the explanation may be that Republicans in Washington have constantly cited the Tea Party as the constituency that they need to answer to. It‘s almost like they can‘t be held accountable for their own policy proposals.
There are these angry right wing mobs in the streets that must be appeased. Republicans use that as leverage. They use the existence and the supposed strength of the Tea Party movement as leverage for the policy positions that they want anyway. Don‘t blame us. We have to answer for these—we have to answer to these people in the streets.
Here‘s the thing, though. Democrats could do that as well. Democrats could do that and with better reason. There are more of the Democratic base in the streets right now than the Tea Party even at its height. But Democrats have not been doing that. Why haven‘t they?
Republicans push every single numerical advantage they can. Democrats give those advantages up regularly. Case in point: who is in control of the U.S. Senate right now? Democrats, right? Who has the Democratic-controlled Senate allowed to be in charge of coming up with an approach to the deficit plan?
I mean, in the House, right, it‘s Republicans who are in charge. But what‘s the basis for the discussion in the House? It‘s the Paul Ryan House Republican budget plan. The Republican budget plan because they‘re in control of that house.
Its first line, as Paul Krugman wrote about today, is where the president has failed, House Republicans will lead—a deeply partisan approach in the House where Republicans are in control of that side of the legislature.
And the Senate, on the other side, that‘s controlled by Democrats. So, who is the Senate having in charge of coming up with a plan on that side? They‘re having it done by a bipartisan group equally split between Republicans and Democrats. This “gang of six.”
The Democrats are in control of the Senate, but they are not taking advantage of their numbers. Just like they didn‘t during the health reform debate—you remember that “gang of six”?
Just like they didn‘t during the 2008 battle over energy reform?
Remember that “gang of 10”?
Instead of using the fact that voters have given them a numerical advantage in that body, they are just ceding the Democratic-controlled body to an equally divided bipartisan gang, effectively giving up their advantage.
Right now in the streets, Republicans do not have an advantage, but they are still pressing an old one that they maybe had a year ago.
Democrats, on the other hand, have an advantage in the streets right now, and they are not using it. They have one in the Senate, and they are not using it. Why not?
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine and an MSNBC contributor.
Mr. Hayes, nice to see you.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Great to see you as well.
MADDOW: So, what do you think about the thesis that the existence of the Tea Party is used to change Washington Republicans‘ negotiating position? Are those 12 people out at the beach in Orange County this weekend? Are they the mandate to kill Medicare?
HAYES: They‘re terrifying.
I think it‘s really—and, you know, it‘s funny. As you were going through that opening, I have thought a lot about exactly this issue. David Frum, the conservative David Frum, has this line which he says all the time, which really ring true to me, which is that Republicans fear their base, and Democrats hate their base.
And I think there‘s—the question of who the base is gets really tricky. But let‘s just say the activists, right? The kinds of people that show up at a protest who are loud and vocal. It is absolutely true there‘s asymmetry between the two sides, and that the Republicans show much—elected Republican leaders show much more fear of their activist core than Democrats do, and Democrats—there‘s nothing they love more than the sort of Internet term is hippie-punching, right? It‘s sort of making a big show of how much they distance themselves from the left fringe, from their activist base, whereas Republicans seem to do the opposite, right? They embrace it.
And I can‘t tell if this is cultural, if this is about the nature of the demographic core of what those activists‘ bases are, if it‘s some bizarre psychological process of formation. I‘ve actually thought about whether that‘s it, whether like if you go to law schools and, like, Yale and you start to hate hippies or something—I don‘t know what it is, but it really is true. There‘s like an asymmetry between the two sides in that respect. Absolutely.
MADDOW: Well, that‘s why—that‘s why I connected this to the “gang of six” phenomenon because the “gang of six” phenomenon is Democrats being presented with a numerical advantage in the Senate and just giving it up, deciding not to use that to come up with a pure Democratic approach to deficit reduction or the budget the way that the Republicans are in the House. But instead saying, you know, kumbayah, we know we‘re in charge, but let‘s all work together.
They did the same thing in health reform. They do the same thing over and over and over again in the Senate while they are in charge of it. And I just wonder if this is sort of—the fact that this happens on the essentially ignoring tens of thousands of people in the streets in Madison and ignoring their own numerical advantage in the Senate if this might explain something about the Democratic brain and they‘re unwilling to press that kind of advantage.
HAYES: I think it‘s part it. I mean, the other thing I think is—you know, my instinct is that there‘s a power analysis here, right, which is that fundamentally, the Senate is a sort of establishment institution and the establishment is on the side of conservatism fundamentally. And so, there is this imbalance because the things—right now, as I‘m speaking, there‘s 10,000 youth organizers in Washington for the Power Shift conference, which is organizing around climate change, and you don‘t hear a thing about them. They were in the streets today outside the Chamber of Commerce with thousands of people yelling and no one pays attention to them -- just like you were saying in the opening.
And I think part of that has to do with the fact that when you look at United States Senate, it‘s fundamentally, you know, in a deep way a kind of conservative body. And so, people who are coming from the progressive perspective are kind of rolling a rock up a hill. They have strikes against them because the body itself is disposed to protect power and entrenched interest. And on the other side, it‘s much—it‘s a much easier sort of agenda.
MADDOW: What explains, though, the disconnect between the manifest strength of the Tea Party as a movement and the credit that they get in the Beltway. I mean, you get 12 people standing in front of Laguna Beach, and there‘s the local news agency, though, ready to cover it. It‘s going to be the Tea Party event.
That news agency didn‘t do anything wrong. People want to know about their Tea Party events. But they are manifestly very, very small things.
HAYES: I can never quite figure out at what point the sort of vicious cycle got started, but it‘s clear that it‘s become—it‘s like being famous for being famous. At a certain point like you can never remember what Kim Kardashian did in the first place but like you know who Kim Kardashian is. But like—but there she is, and now you know who Kim Kardashian is. And so, whatever Kim Kardashian does, then you got to cover it.
I feel like the Tea Party is sort of like that at a certain point, that there‘s this kind of like self-fulfilling celebrity to them. Sarah Palin is a very sort of similar phenomenon, and I‘m not sure how you break up that phenomenon. I mean, for all of us in the media, us included, it‘s a difficult thing because people do want to know what the Tea Party is up to, but the more coverage you give it, the more it seems like this massive thing.
And I think bringing to bear the fact that it is in many ways kind of waned particularly since the elections, it‘s a really important point to hammer home. Not just to people out there in the country, but to elected officials who still have a tremendously out-sized conception of its sort of numerical strength.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine and MSNBC contributor—thank you for being here, my friend.
HAYES: Thanks a lot, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up next, a big long story about Kim Kardashian.
MADDOW: One exception we can find at low attendance at Tax Day Tea Parties across the country this year, the one possible exception to the sparse numbers that afflicted these Tea Party events coast-to-coast today and over the last few days was this one, which—depending on your sources, depending on which source you trust, this drew somewhere between several hundred and 2,000 people in Boca Raton, Florida. The Tea Party itself was the source of the 2,000 figure.
But, still, look, it‘s a healthy crowd. Looks like quite a healthy turnout. More than anywhere else, we think.
And unlike the Sarah Palin event, the turnout here in Boca Raton was not wildly swelled by counter protesters.
Why did this one Tea Party event turn out a crowd when every one in the country was sort of a bust? Well, it‘s because this one was headlined by reality TV star Donald Trump.
Perhaps you‘ve heard once or twice or 1,000 times that Mr. Trump has been flirting with the idea of running for president. His quasi-campaign is built largely on a one issue platform, which is this. Mr. Trump, again, you may have heard, is a birther—big-time. He is generating headlines and lots of free publicity for the current season of his reality show by casting doubt on the citizenship of President Obama.
And, again, the result of this has been a lot of publicity for him, which maybe he monetizes somehow through his TV show ratings. I don‘t know. I can‘t make myself care long enough to know.
But he has had lots of publicity, and that maybe translates to money for him, and that definitely translates to additional name recognition for him, which certainly translates to poll numbers.
So, after making lots of noise on the birther issue, Donald Trump is polling as a top tier number one or number two Republican presidential contender and that has real Republicans freaking out a little bit.
Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor criticized Mr. Trump by saying, quote, “I don‘t think he is really serious when we see a campaign launch odd the birther issue.”
Mr. Trump responded thusly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: And I think it‘s a very bad thing for Cantor to have done, because I will tell you, people love this issue, especially in the Republican Party. There‘s something to what we‘re saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whatever you think of this odd publicity stunt candidacy, Mr. Trump is telling the truth about the birther thing. I mean, not about the substance of the issue. That‘s total nonsense, obviously. But he is telling the truth when he says that Republicans love this as an issue.
Eric Cantor might not like it, but Republicans do, and those Hawaiian-born chickens are now coming home to roost for Republicans. Not just the embarrassingly successful candidacy of Mr. Trump, among likely Republican voters. Chickens are also coming home to roost here in the state of Arizona. Last week, the same legislature that brought you SB 1070, the “papers please” law, that same legislature passed a birther bill—a bill that would keep off the ballot of the presidential candidate who does not provide Arizona with a long form birth certificate to prove his or her citizenship.
What is a long form birth certificate? It is a type of birth certificate that say the state of Arizona does not even issue. Hasn‘t done so for years, which means that Arizona in its infinite wisdom has just passed a bill through both houses of its legislature that would prevent future presidential candidates from Arizona from appearing on that state‘s ballot.
However, loophole. If you do not have that particular type of birth certificate that Arizona doesn‘t even issue, you can supplement your weird “prove your citizenship to Arizona” dossier with additional documents, such as a circumcision certificate. I am not making this up. Why do you think I‘m making this up? That‘s what it says. A circumcision certificate.
What‘s that you have there, Mr. Candidate? A totally official computer printout of your birth record that everyone in the world thinks of as a birth certificate? No, we Arizonians do not accept that. But if you give us a document attesting to some—sometimes religiously significant knife work in your down there area after birth, we‘ll take that.
Tonight, only half an hour ago, Arizona‘s Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the birther bill, saying in her veto letter, quote, “I never imaged being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their early baptismal or circumcision certificates among other records to the Arizona secretary of state.”
The legislature would need a two-thirds majority to override the Governor Brewer‘s veto. Based on the votes for the birther bill, Republicans could easily do just that—which means it‘s likely that this bill could still become law despite the veto.
Carl Seel, the Republican state rep who wrote the birther bill, he told “The A.P.” that he‘d had discussed this measure with Donald Trump personally, who liked it. Mr. Seel did not say whether Mr. Trump liked the circumcision caveat specifically, but we have reached out to Mr. Trump‘s office to ask how he feels about that little bit at the end of the bill. We‘ll let you know if we hear anything.
MADDOW: In the great Republican overreach of 2011, who is the most overreaching of all?
Yes, Wisconsin‘s Republican Governor Scott Walker almost single-handedly galvanized the entire country‘s Democratic base with his union-stripping crusade.
Yes, Ohio‘s Republican Governor John Kasich one-upped even Mr. Walker by want just union-stripping, but union-stripping cops and firefighters specifically. And then by screaming on camera about police officers he thinks are idiots.
Yes, Florida‘s Republican Governor Rick Scott keeps coming up with big new categories of Florida residents he wants to forcibly drug test. Drug testing, a service happens to be provided by the governor‘s for-profit health care company.
But the dark horse in any tournament to determine the most overreaching recently-elected Republican governor in 2011 has to be Michigan‘s Rick Snyder. Governor Snyder, not just union-stripping, not just trying to tax old people and poor people in order to give that money away to corporations—Rick Snyder signed the new law that lets his administration eliminate your voting rights at the local level. If you elected a mayor, a town council, any local officials in your town, the state under Governor Snyder will now decide if that election counts. They will decide if your town is allowed to keep your local election results or if they will overrule them and impose their own.
It‘s being called “financial martial law,” this new powers that Rick Snyder just took for himself. Republicans passed the bill in March, Snyder signed it, and they just used it. They just imposed it for the first time.
Guess where they‘re using it. Guess what they‘re using it to do.
Guess. Guess. This is amazing. That‘s coming up.
MADDOW: Republicans in about half the states are trying to make it harder to vote or to register to vote it this year. But, today, with the stroke of a pen, the great state of Kansas became the gold standard in making it almost impossible to register to vote. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, he used to be a senator—you may remember hem as one of the C Street guys. But, now, he is the governor of Kansas. And today, he signed into law a bill that requires Kansas voters to prove their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote for the first time.
To do that, to register to vote, you are going to need to submit your birth certificate or a passport unless you have one of a list of much more obscure documents.
Back in February, when this bill was first gathering steam, Kevin Myles, president of the Kansas state conference of the NAACP, told us about this voter registration drive that had been held in the run-up to the 2008 election. Voter registration drive was held at a park in Wichita, Kansas, and was put together by a bunch of different community groups and in a few hours, more than 350 people got registered to vote—people who were just out at the park.
Imagine this happening if the folks grilling burgers and trying to get people registered were also asking for birth certificates and passports in order to get anybody signed up. Lots of people get registered to vote at registration drives like that one in Wichita or at the grocery store or at the post office—in other words, at places they tend to just be, running errands, doing other stuff, not carrying their birth certificate or passport around with them. Only half of Americans and that‘s a very generous estimate, even have a passport.
The Kansas voter ID bill here is the brainchild of a man you see standing here. His name is Kris Kobach. If you do not recognize him here standing behind Governor Brownback, you may be familiar with his work, nonetheless. Before Kris Kobach was Secretary Kobach, he worked for the legal arm of the group Federation for American Immigration Reform, better known as FAIR. And when he was at FAIR, he worked on Arizona‘s SB 1070 law, better known as the “papers please” litigation—legislation.
The federal government, of course, sued the state of Arizona over the “papers please” law. And so far, the state has been prevented from enforcing most of it.
The same guy who wrote that law, the same guy who wrote Arizona‘s “papers please” law, the one that‘s all tied in court right now, wants his new toughest in the nation voter ID law from Kansas to become a model for other states. He swears this is totally constitutional and stuff.
Right now, the “you need a passport or a birth certificate to register to vote” provision, that goes into effect after the next presidential election.
But Kris Kobach says he‘s not giving up. He says he is going to keep trying to get that provision into effect sooner—whereby, if he is successful, just in time for President Obama‘s re-election effort, it will become almost impossible to newly register to vote in Kansas. And since newly registered voters tend to vote Democratic—well, that will be right in time, won‘t it?
Joining us now is Kansas Democratic State Representative Ann Mah, who sat on the house elections committee and who has been a vocal opponent of this voter ID legislation.
Representative Mah, thank you so much for your time tonight.
STATE REP. ANN MAH (D), KANSAS: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I describe this as making it almost impossible to register to vote in Kansas because of what we know about how voter registration drives work. They tend to intercept people when they are out doing their regular business, not thinking about registering to vote and they do so on the spur of the moment—which is precisely the sort of time when you wouldn‘t have your birth certificate or your passport on you.
MAH: That‘s right.
MADDOW: Do you think that is the intent of the legislation, to make it harder to register?
MAH: Well, that‘s not what the secretary would say, but if you know how things work in Kansas, you would know that that is exactly what‘s going to happen. Grassroots registration will almost come to a halt, and even in the driver‘s license bureau where most registrations is done, we don‘t have documents on file for most of any of the people right now who are renewing their driver‘s licenses. And so, if you went into the driver‘s license bureau to register to vote, you won‘t be able to do that either.
Now, the secretary would tell you, oh, we‘re going to fix that, but it will be until probably 2019 before all renewing drivers have documents on file in the drivers‘ bureau.
MADDOW: What do you think the practical impact will be if this—if this does go into effect? What do you think will happen to voter registration patterns and, indeed, to voting patterns in Kansas?
MAH: Well, the impact on registration would just be huge. As I mentioned, the efforts to do grassroots registration door to door, in the malls and grocery stores, as you said, that will just come to a halt. I mean, we‘ll be able to fill out 100 forms, but then you‘ll have to tell folks—well, hey, now you need to somehow get to the election office a copy of proof of citizenship. It will not be electronic for years.
As you know, there‘s only one state in the Union, Georgia, that now has proof of citizenship in effect. But they have an electronic means to check citizenship through your driver‘s record. Kansas has nothing like that and will not have complete electronic availability for years to come.
MADDOW: Do you think that this new law is going to be challenged in court?
MAH: Absolutely, yes. I‘ve already visited with several groups who are active around the country who realize that this is a very bad law. And it has some—has holes big enough you could drive a truck through it.
MADDOW: Kris Kobach, because of his history with the SB 1070 law and because he has been so overt and proud talking about this legislation as he says hopefully a model for other states, it—he speaks with a lot of confidence about the idea that this will stand up in court if it is challenged.
Do you have a view—and the people considering challenging of it do they have a view of this as vulnerable in court?
MAH: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the secretary calls this bullet proof.
He calls it a Cadillac.
I think it‘s a Trojan horse. I think all you have to do is look at his record around the country of an inability to write a law that will pass muster. I mean, there are small towns all over the place, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Farmers Branch, Texas, that are spending millions of dollars defending laws that he wrote, that he claimed were constitutional there.
What is sad is that, you know, the folks in Kansas are pretty good folks, and we just want fair and safe elections, and maybe when the courts are done throwing out the big chunks of this law, we can have a real conversation about what it takes to have a commonsense safe election. But we‘re going to have to, unfortunately, spend a lot of taxpayer money before we get there.
MADDOW: State Representative Ann Mah of Kansas. Thank you for helping us to nabbed in. I really appreciate your time.
MAH: We appreciate you taking an interest.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Ed Schultz and former chairman, Michael Steele, appeared together on “Real-Time with Bill Maher” on Friday. Did you see it? The results of their pairing on the TV machine was quite a lot of talk about it on the Internet machine afterwards. A shouting match. Seriously?
The real story about real-time from Ed Schultz himself will come out after our show.
Before Ed starts a show, though, there is apparently a great threat to some conservatives in the form of paint—the war on art, next.
MADDOW: There is a beautiful public beach in Michigan that a specific group of rich people want to make into a beautiful exclusive beach. One small town, one really, really, really, really, really, really big Republican government proposal. There goes the neighborhood. That‘s coming up.
MADDOW: Yesterday, two photographs by an American artist were attacked at a modern art museum in France. They were physically attacked. According to the police, two people were seen trying to enter the museum with spray paint and a chisel.
While they were stopped, a third person attacked the pieces of art with a hammer. The day before the attack, right wing demonstrators outside the museum had denounced the art in question as blasphemous.
Earlier this month at the national gallery in Washington D.C., a painting by Paul Gauguin was attacked as well. Fifteen minutes before the museum closed, a woman screamed, “This is evil” and started pounding on the painting with her fists. Luckily, painting was protected by a layer of Plexiglas.
After going to blows with the inanimate object, the woman reported told investigators that the painting was “very homosexual.”
This follows another incident in October when I woman drove almost 700 miles from her home in Montana to the Loveland Museum and Gallery in Loveland, Colorado. Once there, she took out a crowbar. She smashed the Plexiglas off the wall that was protecting a specific print and then ripped the print to shreds. She later posted a 10-page blog post about her motivations, which I will spare you sufficed to say, God told her too, blasphemy, that was evil—you know the rest.
This winter, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican Congressman Eric Cantor demanded that the Smithsonian remove a specific artwork from a show at the Smithsonian. It was a piece by the late genius David Wojnarowicz. It was about the AIDS crisis, a video called “Fire in the Belly.” The Smithsonian faced up to those political demands to remove that art, and promptly caved. They removed the piece from the show.
Last month in Maine, of course, the Republican governor there ordered that a labor history mural be torn down and put into storage hidden from public view—prompting some other artists in Maine to project that same mural on the walls of the state capitol. Hey, what are you kids doing? We‘re putting the mural back up.
Amid this freak show international right wing outbreak of people attacking and tearing down and hiding art, there is one detail in today‘s latest art attack story that heartens in the same way the Maine mural projection does. That museum in France where Andres Serrano‘s photographs were destroyed in that coordinated assault today, museum officials say they will reopen tomorrow in order to put the destroyed pieces still destroyed on display so that people can see the damage that was done to them.
Inanimate art cannot yell back. It cannot hit back. The only way art wins against force is if you can put the attack itself on display. See how that looks in the bright light of day. See how that holds up to history.
MADDOW: If you start in Chicago and you work your way around the bottom of Lake Michigan, southeast and then northeast—southeast and northeast—about a hundred miles, you get to a part of Michigan they call the Twin Cities. Sometimes they call them the Little Twin Cities. These twins are not nearly so big as the big Twin Cities in Minnesota and they are also not nearly so twin.
This one, St. Joseph, Michigan, is home to 8,500 or so people. It is nearly 90 percent white. It‘s got a per capita income of $33,000. It‘s something of a vacation town, a weekend getaway for people in Chicago. It‘s not purely that but that‘s what it is. And that‘s St. Joseph‘s.
North across the St. Joseph River is its twin, Benton Harbor. Population, not quite 11,000. Benton Harbor approaching 90 percent African-American where St. Joseph is nearly 90 percent white. Per capita income in Benton Harbor at last estimation is less than one-third of its twin across the river in St. Joe. And Benton harbor per capita income is just over $10,000, which is very, very low.
Even the people who love Benton Harbor, Michigan, will tell you Benton harbor has not got much. When we talk about what‘s happened to Rust Belt America, we tend to talk about places like Braddock, Pennsylvania, or Flint, Michigan.
But we should also talk about Benton Harbor, because you can find
every last social ill that goes along with industrial collapse right here -
failing schools, crime, high unemployment, polluted land, corrupt government—the whole rusting away to misery and frustration and schedule one drugs deal with it, all of it.
So, Benton Harbor has not got much besides heartache. But it has always had this one wonderful communal asset. One cherished jewel of the community. It‘s called Jean Klock Park with a beach right on Lake Michigan, for the people of Benton Harbor. The park was a gift to the town in 1917 from John Nellis Klock who founded the local newspaper and who served as Benton Harbor mayor.
The Klocks named the park after a daughter they had lost as a baby, Baby Jean. They told the town when they gave the beach, quote, “The beach is yours. The drive is yours. The dunes are yours, all yours. It is not so much a gift from my wife and myself, it is a gift from a little child. See to it that the park is the children‘s.”
And for nearly 100 years after that, Jean Klock Park remains a place people went for baptisms and picnics, to pass a summer‘s night, to teach their kids to swim, to fish, to build sand castles on the Lake Michigan shore. This beautiful, beautiful park was their place.
Benton Harbor used to have one other big important asset—jobs—jobs making Whirlpool appliances. This is a company town for Whirlpool. But they closed the last manufacturing plant in March. Now, it‘s mostly just a call center there. But it‘s also the corporate offices for Whirlpool, where Benton Harbor people say they hold few of those corporate office jobs.
As far back as the 1980s, Whirlpool was looking for a way to get some use out of old industrial land. One of the results, one of the ideas was a public/private redevelopment concept. The idea was to build a $500 million, 530-acre Jack Nicklaus designed golf and residential development. Some of the housing would be affordable as they say in public/private re-development-ese and some would be signature homes and beach-style cottages and luxury condominiums.
This new Xanadu would start in St. Joseph and reach over the river to Benton Harbor. Along the way it would take Jean Klock Park and remold it as a place o of pristine greens and caddies and tee times—with the occasional local school club sharing time there.
As the people of Benton Harbor learned about this plan for their park, they were upset. In 2006, they asked Michigan‘s then-Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, they asked her for help.
This was her office‘s reply. Quote, “Your concern regarding the proposed golf course in place of the Jean Klock Park falls under the sole jurisdiction of your local government. This park is a local, not a state park. If you require further assistance with this issue, you should contact your local officials at the city of Benton Harbor to share your thoughts.”
That‘s the answer they got. Talk to the local officials in Benton Harbor.
And now, I can tell you the people of Benton Harbor who already had so little, they have not got even that. They have not even got local officials to amount to anything—because Benton Harbor‘s local government is the first one to be essentially dissolved under Michigan‘s new Emergency Financial Manager Law.
“The Michigan Messenger” Web site on Friday posting this from the town‘s appointed emergency manager. Quote, “Now, therefore be it resolved as follows, absent prior express written authorization and approval by the emergency manager, no city board, commission, or authority shall take any action for or on behalf of the city whatsoever other than calling a meeting to order, approve of meeting minutes, adjourn a meeting. This order shall be effective immediately.”
That‘s all you can do. Meeting called to order. Here we are at a meeting, meeting adjourned. That‘s it.
Benton harbor‘s state-appointed emergency financial manager is telling the elected city commission that they can stay. That‘s about it. They can no longer do anything.
The state appointed manager is now in complete control of Benton Harbor, Michigan. If the state desires, they could even dissolve Benton Harbor completely. Let its wealthier neighbor across the river swallow it up if that seems like a good idea. You don‘t have to ask Benton Harbor anymore. They don‘t get a say.
The law that makes such extreme measures possible Michigan‘s Emergency Financial Manager Law was sponsored by this new state legislator. His name is—he‘s a Republican—his named Al Pscholka. Mr. Pscholka is a former staffer for the local congressman, a man named Fred Upton, also a Republican. Fred Upton is heir to the Whirlpool fortune. That‘s his family money.
The critics have called this first state bill “financial martial law.”
On his Web site, it‘s just called the Pscholka bill.
Mr. Pscholka, if you want to know, e represents the district that includes Benton Harbor. He‘s run a mentoring program there. He says he knows the city well. It‘s been in his backyard for a very long time. Also he happens to be a former vice president for one of the major entities involved in building the luxury golf development that is set to remake Benton Harbor.
Until last year, he served as a member of the nonprofit‘s board of directors—the same one behind the golf course. And now, the first town in Michigan to feel the teeth of the Pscholka emergency manager financial martial law/Rick Snyder bill is Benton Harbor—very poor, almost entirely African-American, in his district, right where they‘re building the golf development that he himself has personally spent years bringing into existence.
Now, right now, the power of Benton Harbor‘s elected officials has been taken away by the same people who had already been working to strip Benton Harbor of the one civic jewel that they have. The one thing they have left, their beautiful water front park.
For the record, Mr. Pscholka told us today that he does not have a conflict here, that all this of has been for Benton Harbor‘s own good. He told us, quote, “Capital flows to places that are stable. I think we can all agree on that.”
You can get some idea of Mr. Pscholka‘s vision for the new Benton Harbor from the ads for the golf development.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The golf club at Harbor Shores is one reason to visit Michigan‘s greats out of west. But there‘s a hundred reasons to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wait! Stop, can we freeze it right there?
See the tiny disclaimer at the bottom? Images are not from Harbor Shores Subdivisions. Get that? This is not real. Don‘t call it Benton Harbor. By the way this isn‘t really Benton Harbor. OK?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Have the time of your life. Harbor Shores, home of the 2012 senior PGA championship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s another slice of the vision. Another sales pitch.
This family is out enjoying the new walking trails that will be built. They‘re almost, of course, a stock image. You can tell that because they also show up in this ad campaign about diabetes and better health, and here on iStock as African-American family.
Hey, I wonder what the golf people developer were searching under anyway to get images for this campaign, like African-American family? Because this is everyone‘s playground right? Remember the per capita income of Benton Harbor, $10,000 per year?
When they announced the cost of an annual pass to this new place, this new Harbor Shores that‘s becoming a big part of Benton Harbor, they announced $5,000 for a family -- $5,000 to play golf there. Hard to afford if your annual income is $10,000. You might even say that‘s out of reach.
Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.” Have a good night.
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