'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, April 28th, 2011
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Guests: Harold Schaitberger, Virg Bernero, Katie Miller
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Am I going to see you at the nerd prom this weekend?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I am skipping nerd prom and going to the jazz fest in New Orleans. I‘m getting the better part of that trade actually.
MADDOW: I am not going to the prom itself. I have to go to attendant events, but I refuse the prom. Next year, let‘s not go to the prom together.
HAYES: That sounds awesome. It‘s a date.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Coming up in tonight‘s show, there is news of a largely unknown, unheralded civil rights present that late Senator Robert Byrd is giving the country from beyond the grave. I will explain in a moment. It is not what you think.
Also, the war on school. School spelled with a K, takes an aggressive turn in Republican politics in the states.
The company that holds the world record for the most profit ever made by any company, in any industry, in any country in the whole long history of the world, almost beats its own record with a little help from you.
And we have to visit our Department of Corrections tonight. Some erroneous reporting I did last night. There will be a correction, and the subject of my corrected reporting will probably be sorry that I took the time. But take the time I shall.
That is all ahead this hour.
We start, though, with sort of a good news/bad news day—if you are the guy who was just appointed to replace sex scandal Republican John Ensign when Mr. Ensign resigns from the United States Senate next week.
The good news, if you‘re that guy, is that Public Policy Polling just released its Nevada poll on how people would vote if the guy who was just appointed to Ensign‘s seat, Dean Heller, if he were on a ballot against the Nevada Republican who is out of a job right now, who probably really wants that seat, who has proven fundraising ability, and who, of course, also has national name recognition. That, of course, is our old friend Sharron Angle.
If Dean Heller had to defend he‘s just been appointed against Sharron Angle, Nevada‘s last Republican Senate candidate, how would Dean Heller do in that race? Look, look? He‘d win 84 percent to 8 percent. He would beat her by 76 points. Wow!
When this same match-up actually happened in real life, in a congressional primary in ‘06, Heller only beat her by one point. Now, he‘s up by 76. Nice. So, that‘s Dean Heller‘s good news today.
Dean Heller‘s bad news today is that Mr. Heller is due to arrive in the United States Senate next week, where Senate majority leader, fellow Nevadan, Harry Reid, just announced he is scheduling a Senate floor vote on the Paul Ryan Republican budget. The House already voted for it. Liberals and Democrats and just even random Republican district congressional constituents all over the country are currently berating their Republican Congress people for that vote. They are hanging that House vote for the Paul Ryan thing around Republicans‘ necks like a millstone.
Congressman Dean Heller, of course, is one of the Republicans who voted for this thing in the House. But now, he is getting promoted. He goes to the Senate next week. Just in time for that body to vote on the Paul Ryan budget as well.
So, Dean Heller, thanks to John Ensign, is about to become the only poor, miserable Republican in the country who is going to have to be on record voting not once, but twice for the most politically toxic legislation Republicans have saddled themselves with in a generation. He will vote for it in the House and he will vote for it in the Senate, unless he changes his mind, of course, now that he‘s going to the Senate. I guess in which case he would get to run defending that seat as the guy who voted against killing Medicare right after he voted for killing Medicare.
So, good luck in your new job, Mr. Heller. I hope you enjoy it.
Also, just incidentally, John Ensign is still ruining things for her fellow Republicans even in the way that he is quitting.
The big political story of America in 2011, the big political story of the country this year, was supposed to be the Republican Party picking its presidential candidates, right? We‘re supposed to be having the first Republican primary debate next week. Nobody knows who would be in it. Republicans are just not eager to start running their presidential race this year. So, them choosing a leader was supposed to be the politics story of this year, but that has not happened.
Instead, the biggest politics story of year has not been about politicians. It has been about people. It has been the unexpected, unprompted, uproarious reaction to what Republicans have done with the governing power they have already got this year.
Part of that is the buzz saw that Dean Heller will get the privilege of walking into twice—the citizen anger, even in the red states and red districts, against the Paul Ryan Republican budget, against House Republicans vote to kill Medicare.
Congress is still on recess. Republican members of Congress are still trying to meet with their constituents to explain that vote, and so every day now, we are still getting in tape like this that we got in today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lies, lies!
REPORTER: An emotional night in Boca Raton as Congressman Allen West holds a town hall meeting.
The audience numbered about 100. Those who voted for Congressman Green (ph) slightly outnumbered those who didn‘t. It was sometimes hard to tell that, though, when the audience started booing.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Get it out of your system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me tell you what I want to know. How did you vote on the federal tax breaks for big oil that was just passed through the House of Representatives? In lock step.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re our congressman! Don‘t laugh at us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know about the voucher!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now have a Navy SEAL grandson in Iraq. What the hell are they fighting for if you‘re going to take everything away from us? That‘s my question to you. And you know what? Yes, we are angry, because you are taking it from us.
REP. CHRIS GIBSON ®, NEW YORK: The CBO says that the—in a decade
the plan is going to be broke. So, something needs to be done to save it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tax the rich!
CROWD: Tax the rich!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is all of the discussion about spending cuts, spending cuts? Why not eliminate those supposed temporary Bush tax reductions—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what we‘re asking for is some balanced approach to this whole issue.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Again, the story of the year in politics so far, is not really the story of any particular politicians. It is the story of people‘s reaction to what politicians are doing. It‘s this groundswell we are still seeing now against what Republicans have done at the federal level in the House.
And also in the other place that Republicans have governs authority in the states. Hello, Madison. There‘s been some move to try to rechristen this thing as a main street movement, I guess, to contrast with Wall Street or something. But I think, mostly, if you just say, Madison. If you just say, Wisconsin, people know what exactly it is you‘re talking about. Tens of people in the streets of Wisconsin furious at Republicans there for stripping union rights.
Incidentally, the argument that the stripping of union rights was not at all a budget thing in Wisconsin, that it was just an attack on unions, that was sort of proven right today. Here is the headline today in the “Fond du Lac Reporter”: “Wisconsin pension system among most solvent in nation.” Most?
That great crisis of public sector workers and their horrible pensions bankrupting the state of Wisconsin—turns out their pension system is one of the most solvent in the entire country, which, of course, is an emergency that must be remedied by drastic actions to destroy the unions.
Wisconsinites saw through what Scott Walker and the Republicans were trying to do in Wisconsin, and they reacted in a vivid and massive way at the state capital and in the streets. Republicans were forced to pass their measure by a means that still look like it may have been illegal. The Wisconsin union-stripping law has not gone into effect yet. It is still held up in the courts. Republicans are still talking about maybe some other way of trying to pass it again.
Recall petitions have been filed against six Republican state senators now. If only three of those succeed, this fight will have turned the state Senate in the middle of their term from Republican controlled back to Democratic controlled.
In Ohio, the union stripping thing there could end up turning that whole state blue. It could possibly even put Ohio at risk for even the Republican presidential candidate next year. If passed as any prologue, and if the restore union rights ballot measure passes by the same margin at which that issue is now polling.
In Michigan, it‘s recalls and more. We will get to that later on in the show tonight.
Democrats did not do this. Democrats did not create this. Republicans created this. Republicans pursued policies that awoke the Democratic base, that made people start to think of themselves as members of the Democratic base, even if they never had before.
Republicans‘ policies in many ways turned their states against them.
These governors right after they were elected.
Democrats are reaping the whirlwind from what Republicans did. This is the best thing that has happened to the Democratic Party‘s electoral chances in a very long time, provided that Democrats stay on the right side of the issues, which brings us to something that I find amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Wisconsin style strife in Massachusetts. That‘s the union warning as the statehouse budget chief, a Democrat, unveiled plans to strip local government unions of key bargaining rights over health insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They say that Democrats are really good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They say that the only extreme gun laws Democrats always support is the right to shoot themselves in their own foot. They say the Democrats have never seen a political opportunity they either didn‘t reject or turned inside out so they could figure out if you‘d make them lose instead of win.
There is a reason that people say all of these things about Democrats. This week, Democrats in one branch of the state legislature in Massachusetts passed a bill to restrict union rights. It‘s not stripping the rights of unions to exist the way that Republicans in the Midwest are doing, but it is taking away the union rights of some public workers like cops and firefighters and teachers, specific to health care benefits. Democrats did this in Massachusetts.
Look at this. This is the breakdown between Democrats and Republicans in the Massachusetts House. And, yes, blue means Democrat. They control the House, and they control it by a mile.
Only one side of the state legislature has passed this thing. Nobody knows what‘s going to happen in the Senate. Nobody knows if the Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, will be signing it. He said yesterday, quote, “I‘m not going to sign a Wisconsin-type bill.”
Unions in Massachusetts are not just predictably enraged by this.
They are bewildered.
Here‘s the president of the AFL-CIO in the state. Quote, “Can you imagine what teachers and firefighters and police officers and public sector workers and nurses and librarians are going to think when they wake up tomorrow morning to find out that the Democrats that we elected for, that we worked for, that we contributed to their campaigns, just snatched collective bargaining away from them, just took their voice, the Democratic voice away from working people? I say good luck to them, and good luck to the future of this house. It is a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.”
The biggest story in American politics in 2011 is the Republicans‘ radicalism in terms of their policy in the House and in the states. Everywhere they have governs authority. Republican attacks on the rights of people who have to work for a living have provoked a big and real backlash. This happened without Democrats doing anything to cause it. But Democrats are poised to benefit from this Republican screw up, Republicans gauging this so wrongly.
If Democrats blow this, it‘s actually worse for them than just a missed opportunity. They will do themselves lasting harm. And here‘s what I mean. This is Al Gore back in 2000 with a bunch of handsome, burly guys and gals in black and gold T-shirts. This is John Kerry with the bunch of handsome, burly guys and gals in gold and black T-shirts. Here are the same handsome devils in gold and black with Barack Obama in 2008.
Gold and black is for the International Association of Firefighters, a union hugely important for Democratic politics, both in constituency and in terms of raw money and political muscle, and work they are willing to do for candidates that they support. This year, firefighters‘ rights as public employees, of course, are under attack like never before.
And now, the International Association of Firefighters have looked at the Democratic Party this year, and they really need some help, and they have decided that Democrats are not really in their corner. Not elected Democrats, not when they need them to be. Democrats at the federal level, they say, are not fighting hard enough for them in their time of need after all of their years of support. And so, they are walking away.
Quote, “Until we see our friend in Congress be as committed to standing and fighting with us with the same level of intensity and ferocity as our enemies are trying to kill us, I‘m turning the spigot off.”
That was Harold Schaitberger, the firefighters union president.
Joining us now is Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters.
Mr. Schaitberger, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate your time.
HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS:
Rachel, thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Why suspend federal campaign donations now? That‘s something that your union has felt was important enough to devote significant resources to in the past.
SCHAITBERGER: Well, there‘s two reasons. First of all, since the last midterm elections, last November, the assaults on our members, firefighters, paramedics, public workers, and our unions have simply changed the landscape. These assaults that have gone to the heart of stripping away workers‘ rights, collective bargaining rights, they have enjoyed for decades, trying to gag them and silence their political voice, to take us out of the political arena. They try to literally cripple our ability to operate as a union, to represent the rights and the interests of our members.
All of these attacks—coordinated, orchestrated—by the extreme right wing conservatives, has not seen our friends willing to stand up with the same kind of commitment, the same kind of focus, and the same kind of effort, to say we‘re going to fight back on your behalf with you.
I need to see the members of Congress that are our friends, I need to see them loud and clear, step up and step out, and be willing to battle those that have shown that they are willing to be so committed and so focused in their attempt to simply destroy us.
Second, it‘s a pattern of disappointments. You know, Rachel, over this last Congress and over time, our friends simply have not found a way to actually deliver on behalf of workers and the middle class, and certainly my members, firefighters and paramedics. And until we see some results, until we see them willing to really stand with us and fight with us, fight on our behalf with us, then we are simply freezing our—turning the spigot off and we are redirecting our resources and efforts out to the various states where we are fighting these fights.
MADDOW: In terms of the fights in the states which you started there, describing about—describing how in various states around the country and it‘s more than a dozen states where this is happening, collective bargaining rights are under attack, that is a foundational, existential issue for you, how could Democrats at the federal level help with that? How could they help with attacks on your union and others that are happening at the state level?
SCHAITBERGER: They have extraordinary influence in their states, in their congressional districts. Every congressional district, and certainly every state, United States senator, has delegate districts from the very statehouses, and state Senate districts. They could at least come together. They could step out. They could try to influence the decision makers at the state level.
They could make it clear what‘s at stake. And they could be willing to fight on our behalf.
And if we saw that kind of effort, whether or not they have the literal ability to cast a vote, they certainly have an ability to show that they are with us. And in our business, we say, I‘ve got your back, well, then you should have my back. And we don‘t feel they have our back.
MADDOW: You describe these attacks coming from the right and in some cases the radical right. What is your reaction to the Democrats in the House in Massachusetts who just voted to strip some union rights there, Democrats?
SCHAITBERGER: Quite frankly, it‘s unbelievable. I just attended a legislators‘ night a few weeks ago for all of my members across Massachusetts, where we had all of the state and House leaders coming to tell them how much they cared for them, how much they supported them, they celebrated them, they honored them. They told them how much they admired their work in their community.
And now, today, we‘re seeing that the Democratic House of Representatives in Massachusetts is stripping away collective bargaining rights. Whether it be for health care or any issue, it‘s unbelievable, but it‘s also symptomatic. And it‘s symptomatic of we‘re not going to be taken for granted and we‘re not going to be made to feel like we have no other place to go. Because the fact of the matter we believe in accountability.
And whether you‘re in the statehouse of Massachusetts or whether you‘re a member of Congress, we‘re going to hold you accountable. And accountability comes with consequences.
MADDOW: Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Firefighters, a man who is not messing around and who has been known to put his money where his mouth is—I appreciate your time and your analysis, sir. I‘m really thankful for you to be here. Thanks.
SCHAITBERGER: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: You know we have been reporting on the Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Republicans in the legislature overriding all local voting rights, just taking over whole towns, dismissing whoever you voted for.
In a moment, the man who was sent from the state to take over one of those towns talks on tape about how good it feels to have that much power, to have authoritarian control that nobody can challenge. It‘s on tape. That‘s coming up.
MADDOW: Mitch Daniel‘s claim to fame as a potential Republican presidential candidate is that he‘s the guy who called for a truce on social issues in the Republican Party. He famously says that the Republican Party should give up its crusade on divisive social issues and just instead focus on fiscal matters. Just focus on budgets. That‘s why he gets taken so seriously in the Beltway because he says things about how serious he feels about fiscal issues. Even though he was George W. Bush‘s budget director and, therefore, only narrowly avoided personally, proverbially drowning in red ink.
But, regardless, Mitch Daniels saying let‘s talk dollars and cents, let‘s not talk not gods, gays, and guns, at least not now. That is his claim to fame as a potential Republican candidate for president.
Well, now, Mitch Daniels is governor of Indiana, and the legislature there just voted to defund Planned Parenthood entirely. That would actually cost the state about $4 million to do, because they would lose all sorts of federal matching funds. Not to mention all the extra disease in the state, and unwanted pregnancies, and late discoveries of people having cancer.
So, Mitch Daniels has a dilemma. He wants to be famous for saying budgets are more important than fighting about stuff like abortion, and now, he‘s got a fighting about abortion bill on his desk that would add millions to his state‘s budget deficit.
What does he do? He‘s got a week to decide. And the anti-abortion movement has the whole rest of his life to make him miserable in the Republican Party.
MADDOW: President Obama dispatched the head of FEMA to the state of Alabama today. The president himself will follow tomorrow. As Alabama and five other southern states try to begin to recover from an almost unimaginable swath of huge, strong storms and tornadoes yesterday. More than 170 tornadoes reportedly touched down in the South yesterday.
The death toll is still being tallied. But the numbers already more than 280 people killed. At least 195 of those deaths were in Alabama.
What you‘re looking at right now are photos from one of the hardest hit cities in Alabama. This is Tuscaloosa. It‘s where the University of Alabama is. The university itself was spared from the worst of the storm, but the tornado that came through that city is estimated to have been more than a mile wide.
The mayor says whole neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa were essentially wiped off the map. So far, there are 36 confirmed deaths from the storm in Tuscaloosa alone. The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, is from that city. He is from Tuscaloosa. It‘s his hometown.
Governor Bentley has been all over the state today assessing the damage. Here‘s what he said when he stopped in his hometown today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY ®, ALABAMA: I have to separate myself emotionally from this because I‘m the governor of the whole state.
Yesterday, I was going to do a press conference. I had to do one at 6:00, and it was right before this hit and I was having to prepare for that. But I also knew that some of my children were across the river, and it was headed right that way.
And so, you know, as a parent, it makes you worry about your family. And I want to say I‘d like to reach out to all of the parents of students across this state who have students here at the University of Alabama. And I know the agony that they went through as they were trying to find out where their children were.
But we‘re going to get things under control. We‘re going to do it on a statewide level. And we‘re going to work together. But we‘re also going to ask for the assistance of the federal government. But we‘re going to get through this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you are looking for ways to help, you can call the Red Cross to donate by phone. The phone number easy to remember, it‘s 1-800-RED-CROSS. If you want to automatically make a $10 donation by using your cell phone, you can text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999. Again, you just text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999.
I did it today. It‘s totally self-explanatory. The text messages themselves are free. It walks you through it -- 90999, the word “REDCROSS.”
You can also donate to the Alabama governor‘s emergency relief fund online. That Web site is ServeAlabama.gov.
You will find all that information at our Web site as well.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Did you see that the Benton Harbor story made the front page of “The New York Times” yesterday?
Here‘s something to add to what we know about the Benton Harbor story.
Check this out—this is the emergency manager who has been put in charge of Benton Harbor, Michigan. And he‘s talking to other people who want to be emergency managers about what it‘s like to be given absolute power to run a city. What it‘s like to overrule any and all officials who the people in that city voted for to have all the power yourself. This was posted online this week by Electablog, which has been doing great reporting about Michigan‘s new emergency power government takeover law.
Just a short piece of tape, just listen. This is amazing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOE HARRIS, BENTON HARBOR EMERGENCY FINANCIAL MANAGER: The fact of the matter is, city manager is now gone—I am the city manager. I replaced the finance director. So, I‘m finance director and the city manger. I am the mayor and the commission and I don‘t need them.
You‘re running the city. You are the mayor. You are the commission. You have taken over from them, so just in case you‘re wondering why they don‘t like you too much. You‘ve taken that authority away from them and they will challenge you every step of the way and they will try to use the community, get the community against you.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s what that community against you thing looked like yesterday in Benton Harbor, which has seen all of its local officials wiped off the map by the overseer you just heard there, bragging over the sheer scope of his unilateral authority. Several hundred people turned out to protest against him and his unilateral powers in Benton Harbor on a rainy day.
Benton Harbor‘s emergency manager unilateral authority guy told a local TV station this week in Michigan that the people of Benton Harbor probably love that their local officials have been replaced by him. He said that although he hasn‘t polled anyone or anything, he bets that the people in Benton Harbor see him as an angel of common sense.
Is that true? Does Benton Harbor love their new autocrat instead of their old democracy? Despite this week‘s protests, is that accurate? Is that true?
It does not matter. Remember, they no longer get a say in anything about their town. Protesters in Benton Harbor have also started the process of trying to recall their Republican state representative for his support of the law that let their town be taken over by the state.
The Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, gave a statewide speech yesterday. He said he wants to abolish the minimum number of hours that kids are in school in Michigan. He also said he wants to give school districts all the autonomy they require. That said, some of the school districts in Michigan he thinks don‘t require any autonomy at all, none.
He announced that he is targeting 23 districts for government takeover by state appointed unilateral executives to override all local decision-making and locally elected officials and dismiss them if they feel like it. Nineteen of those 23 districts have a majority of kids in them poor enough to qualify for free school lunch. Almost all of the districts are in the metro Detroit area.
And every single one of those places has just been told that them having local elections, having locally elected officials, that‘s a problem, that that democracy is in the way of making things more efficient in Michigan. That democracy is not the way we fix problems in America, but that it is a problem. It needs to be sidestepped for efficiency‘s sake, for our own good—at least in poor towns, it does.
Joining us now is the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Virg Bernero. Mr. Bernero ran against Governor Snyder in Michigan‘s last gubernatorial election.
Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MAYOR VIRG BERNERO (D), LANSING, MICHIGAN: My pleasure, Rachel. As usual, you have done a wonderful job of highlighting what‘s at stake here in terms of our democracy. In terms of the education, this is education as an entrepreneurial enterprise.
We talked about this before—the corporatization, the privatization, the profitization. You know, when we talk about folks that are elected promising to run government as a business, and it sounds good to people sometimes, that‘s really what‘s happening. I mean, when you run it as a business, you don‘t have to worry about mayors and councils and democratic issues. That‘s no longer an issue.
We‘re running it like a business, and business at a profit. And the next bastion, the next frontier, is our school system. Billions of dollars at stake, billions of dollars being spent, and Wall Street can‘t wait to sink their fangs into it. They couldn‘t get a hold of Social Security, but by gosh, they have got a way to get in.
And really, even maybe a president and a secretary of education under the guise of “Waiting for Superman,” they can come in and look like a savior, but dig right into those piles of cash. And at the same time, help wipe out the public unions that are a part of the school system.
MADDOW: You said, Mr. Mayor, last time you were here, that this emergency powers law was going to be sort of camel‘s nose under the tent. It was going to start off with a few places that were in trouble and then it would be radically expanded to take over as much of Michigan as possible. Not just a few emergency cases.
The governor said last night he‘s got 23 school districts in the crosshairs right now.
Is this how it goes from here on out?
BERNERO: Absolutely. And you were one of the first on it, if not the first, and I commend you for it.
Look, what his budget does, he just came out with his education address. And I say, Rachel, you know, it‘s interesting to listen to what people say, but it‘s better to look what they do. And, in particular, budgets—budgets are a reflection of our true priorities. His budget calls for cutting per pupil spending by about $500 a head even though there‘s a surplus in the school aide fund. He raided that fund to provide tax cuts for business.
And so, now, he‘s putting cuts on the public school system. He‘s essentially, Rachel, he is starving the public school systems into financial and academic anemia and then giving them emergency managers. So, he is kicking them when they are down, and then saying, by the way, if you‘re a failing school district—meaning if you have one school in the district that doesn‘t meet standards—we‘ll take it over.
And now—and he‘s taken the cap off charter schools and invited in the for-profit charter schools. He is inviting them to Michigan. And, of course, that‘s all part of the game. That‘s part of what‘s going on here is, again, the corporatization of our school system. There are billions of dollars. Why would Wall Street allow that to just sit there, when they can come in, raid and pillage our public school system?
And I‘m not convinced they care about quality education because the charters that we have aren‘t performing any better than our public school system. We all know there‘s no silver bullet. But part of what the governor‘s plan did is it perpetuates the myth of the Superman principle, the Superman teacher who can come in and solve all the problems.
We know that‘s not a reality. My wife is a lifelong educator. God love her as I do. She does a phenomenal job.
But one person can‘t make a difference. It does take a community.
It‘s a community school model. It‘s about parenting.
And when the parents don‘t do their job, it takes many others of to us come in and try to fill in the gap. There‘s no one teacher or one principal. We are setting the public school system up for failure so they can be privatized, profitized and corporatized.
MADDOW: When you talk about privatization, corporatization, essentially setting up public education as another stream of government funding that can be raided for public profit, there is one detail about the emergency manager law that always struck me that seemed important but I didn‘t quite get why. And that was that these emergency managers with this unilateral authority, they are allowed to take outside sources of income from other private companies, from other entities, while they are getting paid by the state to unilateral overseer. So, conceivably, you can have people running the schools on behalf of the state with unilateral authority who are also getting paid to take over the schools by private companies that could profit from them.
BERNERO: You‘ve got it. It‘s one of the most insidious parts of it. In fact, I understand there may be a movement to try to repeal this law, and I hope it happens. Yes. And this has happened in other cases already. I think that this happened in Detroit.
So, you don‘t know really what the influence is that they‘re under. The guy that you had on there for Benton Harbor, I think he‘s making from the state about $11,000 a month. Far more than what the mayor or council maybe combined were making. And so, it‘s a real boon for him. I can see why he likes it.
And for these other folks who may be our unemployed folks in Michigan who can get a great gig and have all this authoritarian power and really answer to no one, ride roughshod over the citizens, it‘s a sad day again, sad for democracy. But I hope folks will pay particular attention to what‘s happening with our school system because up to this point, it‘s always been about what‘s good for kids and how do we improve our school system.
I‘m afraid we‘re turning to what can Wall Street take out of main street, out of our school system. And I‘m not sure, I‘m not convinced that they care that much about the educational process because most of the jobs that Wall Street is creating is overseas in Asia anyway. So, if they can pull money out of the school systems, so much the better for them.
MADDOW: Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, Michigan—thank you so much for joining us again this evening, Mr. Mayor. Appreciate it.
BERNERO: Thank you, Rachel. Great work.
MADDOW: Of all the impressive military personnel who came on this show over the course of the past year or so to talk about “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” and its effect in the military, one of the most impressive—and judging by you—memorable was West Point Cadet Katie Miller.
Tonight, Katie Miller is back right here on set for “The Interview.”
And that‘s because she has big news., very big news. That‘s ahead.
MADDOW: The Paul Ryan Republican budget includes $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry. Exxon Mobil today announced that its profits this past quarter were the second highest profits ever record for any company in any industry ever in the history of the world. They were first too. Now they have come in second.
Exxon made $10.7 billion in profit in three months, which means that since I started this segment, Exxon has made this much money, that many dollars in profit -- $1,400 a second, $83,000 a minute, $5 million an hour. They make $5 million an hour, 24 hours a day, just in profit. They make in profit $119 million a day, in profit, every day, including Sundays.
Plus, they also make some of your money too, on top of that as a taxpayer subsidy. Just in case. We‘re helping them, what, save up for a rainy day fund or something?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHERINE MILLER, FORMER WEST POINT CADET: A military service is something that I‘m going to perform at sometime in my lifetime. This commitment to public service is something that‘s near and dear to me. And I will serve in the military in some capacity, whether it‘s by returning to West Point if repeal occurs in a timely manner, or if it‘s commissioning via a different commissioning source. But I will serve my country in one capacity or another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former West Point Cadet Katie Miller on this show last year, before President Obama signed the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.” At the time, Cadet Miller had just resigned her commission at the U.S. Military Academy ahead of her junior year there. If this country ever did away with a ban on gay and lesbian troops serving openly, Ms. Miller told us she would ask West Point to take her back.
Congress passed the repeal three months after that interview. President Obama signed it into law on December 22nd. And so, Katie Miller did, in fact, reapply to West Point. Yesterday, West Point told her she could not come back because of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”
Quote, “At this time, former Cadet Katie Miler has not been offered
re-admission to the U.S. Military Academy. While the ‘don‘t ask, don‘t
tell‘ policy was recently changed and will be repealed, the effective date has not yet been determined.”
The effective date. You may recall some cumbersome asterisks that went along with the excitement around the repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” in December. Congress passed it, and the president signed it, but it rolls out slowly. There‘s some kind of training, and then certification that it is safe to repeal, and then, randomly, 60 days of just waiting, even after everyone says we‘re ready and the training has happened.
That random 60 days when nothing happens, except more discrimination, even though the training has been done and everybody is all ready, that 60 days of you still not having equal rights for no operational reason, that was a little present from Senator Robert Byrd before he died—the senator doing his part for your civil rights even after death.
At this point, the most optimistic guest for the repeal timeline to actually repeal the policy is September. In the meantime, there‘s the matter of Katie Miller‘s education. She has been at Yale since leaving West Point. She‘s just been elected captain at one of the school‘s sports teams. She has told us that she understands why West Point had to turn her down, and although she is disappointed, she says she will not be reapplying again.
She was ranked in the top 10 of all cadets at West Point, but will get her degree from Yale instead. She says she then plans to join the military through officer candidate school.
Katie Miller released a written statement yesterday that said, quote, “I harbor no resentment toward the military and I look forward to the day they deem it appropriate for me to put the uniform back on.”
Someday, she will be able to. In the meantime, “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” is still keeping people out of the military who want to serve and love the institution enough to say what Katie Miller has said, that there‘s no resentment, and she‘s ready when they are finally willing to accept her service.
Joining us now for “The Interview” is Katie Miller, who is a spokesperson and board member at OutServe, an underground organization of more than 3,000 gay active duty U.S. service members.
Katie, thanks for your time tonight.
MILLER: Hey, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: What was your initial reaction when you found out that West Point had rejected your application?
MILLER: I was absolutely devastated. I mean, I know I‘m going to serve in the military in some capacity. This is a given but I was really hoping I could return to West Point and do it via that commissioning route.
This is something that, you know, people ask me all the time. Why did you reapply? Do you want to go back? The answer is yes. West Point is something that is very much a part of me and my personality, and it‘s a shame I won‘t be returning.
MADDOW: You are saying you look forward for the day the military deems it appropriate for you to put the uniform on.
First, I should just say, it personally strikes me as something that is way more generous than I would be in similar circumstances. But when we talked before when you were resigning, you said that you looked to rejoin if they repealed it in a timely manner. Do you think the implementation of the repeal is being rolled out inordinately slow?
MILLER: I mean, I think the military—I think the training, you know, has no real purpose and it was a political scheme in order to appease the joint chiefs of staff when they said they needed this training to learn to serve with gay service members, you know, despite the fact that there are—gays have been serving for centuries. So, I don‘t think there is a purpose really to the repeal implementation training, but I think the Department of Defense is trying to expediently implement the repeal.
MADDOW: When you have been talking to active duty service members who are gay people still in the forces now through your work in OutServe, what are you hearing from them about gay soldiers‘ perspective on this training happening? How is the training going?
MILLER: It‘s about 100 percent dependent upon unit leadership. If the unit commander comes out and says this is what we‘re doing, we have equal respect for everyone and there‘s no foot dragging involved, then the repeal is—then the training is going—it‘s just going fine.
You know, overwhelmingly, I think both straight and gay service members are saying that, you know, this is much ado about nothing. This is not a problem and this will not be an issue.
However, there have been, you know, reports of, for example, there‘s an officer at West Point who seemed to be doing some foot dragging during the training and little did he know there are three gay cadets sitting in his presence. So, it‘s really just dependent upon the unit leadership.
MADDOW: When you resigned from the academy, you said being forced to lie by the policy caused a relentless, cognitive dissonance, made it so you felt unable to live up to Army values. You said the policy had taken a significant personal, mental, and social toll on you and detrimentally affected your professional development.
After these last few months at Yale of not being in the military, of not having to live under that policy anymore, how do you feel about those same issues?
MILLER: I feel so much more complete, you know, as a person. I‘ve been able to reflect upon my experiences and really put into perspective, you know, what it was like to be a gay cadet at West Point. And I think I‘ve grown in a way that West Point couldn‘t have offered me, you know, being true to myself by restoring my integrity.
But the same time, I haven‘t been able to grow at Yale in the same capacity that I have at West Point. And that‘s by fulfilling my military ambitions.
MADDOW: Last question, did I hear right that you just won Truman—a Truman scholarship?
MILLER: I did, ma‘am.
MADDOW: It‘s a huge deal. That‘s a really, really huge deal, a great scholarship. Congratulations.
MILLER: Thank you so much for having me.
MADDOW: Does that mean you‘re going to grad school and officer training school? How do you balance? How do you anticipate that happening?
MILLER: I mean, there‘s some logistical work to be done on that, but I hope to go to grad school concurrently while being a military officer.
MADDOW: Well, the Truman scholarship is a huge deal.
MILLER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks, Katie.
Katie Miller, former West Point cadet now finishing junior year at Yale. OK.
When the show gets something wrong, we feel we owe our viewers a correction and sometimes even an apology. That‘s next.
MADDOW: I have a correction to make. On last night‘s show in our segment about the thing that shall no longer be discussed about the birth certificate nonsense, I said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those Republican politicians who want to push this issue for, frankly, racist, political advantage, politicians who don‘t want to be known as racists necessarily but who want to politically capitalize on resentment and un-acceptance of Barack Obama as a real American president. You can‘t really be in mainstream national party politics right now and be overtly white supremacist about it, but birtherism is a convenient proxy for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I want to apologize for the part where I said “you can‘t really be in mainstream national party politics right now and be overtly white supremacist.” I thought that was true when I said it last night, but I‘m wrong. Behold, yesterday in the Oklahoma state legislature—
STATE REP. SALLY KERN ®, OKLAHOMA: We have heard tonight already that in prison, there are more black people. Yes, there are. And that‘s tragic. It‘s tragic that our prisons here in Oklahoma, what are they, 99 percent occupancy?
But the other side of the story perhaps we need to consider is this just because they‘re black that they‘re in prison? Or could it be because they didn‘t want to work hard in school? And white people oftentimes don‘t want to work hard in school or Asians oftentimes.
But a lot of times, that‘s what happens. I taught school for 20 years. And I saw a lot of people of color who didn‘t want to work as hard. They wanted it given to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know how they are.
Republicans in the Oklahoma House voted to ban affirmative action yesterday. One of those Republican legislators argued for that position with just the flat out, overt, “white people are better people” argument. As an exasperated Steve Benen wrote at “Washington Monthly” today, quote, “Honestly, where does the Republican Party even find people like this? Is there a Web site where a party can order cartoonish racists to serve in state governments?”
That I do not know. But I do know that when I said that some Republican politicians are birthers so they can express racist suspicions about whether it‘s possible to legitimately have a black president without actually saying that, since being that flat out overtly racist isn‘t allowed in mainstream politics? When I said that, I was wrong. You can just be that flat out explicitly racist without getting kicked out of one of the major national parties.
Sally Kern, Republican, Oklahoma legislator, in good standing. Still, today.
That was yesterday. So, I was wrong. And I sincerely regret it on any number of levels.
That does it for us tonight. Thanks for being with us. Good night.
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