'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, July 15, 2011
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Guests: E.J. Dionne, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Melissa Harris-Perry
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Hey, happy Friday. Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Deal or no deal on what should be by all rights a quiet, sleepy summer Friday in July, the kind of summer Friday where news goes to die.
Instead, the political world is still abuzz tonight over the knock down, brag out fight still happening in Washington, the fight to avoid disaster. The very real prospect of the United States, for the first time in our history, purposely defaulting on our debt. It would result in a government shutdown. It would result in a down grading of America‘s credit rating and us going back into recession and economic calamity in all caps.
After five straight days of high-stakes negotiations with congressional leaders at the White House for whether to raise the debt ceiling, after five straight days of meetings, today, no meeting. Today, no negotiations.
Today was a day for leaders on both leaders to take a breather, gather with their respective caucuses to see if reaching a deal is even possible at this point. It was sort of a legislative equivalent of a boxer heading back into his corner to gather himself and get ready for the next round, but as the posturing from both sides continues, there was a reminder today that this fight does not have many rounds left.
The treasury department, which has been juggling the nation‘s accounts to make N Smith since we actually hit out debt limit back in May, treasury announced today it is officially out of options in terms of moving enough money around to make room for more debt.
They say they have done everything they can and it is now time for Congress to act.
Well, most of the action was happening behind closed doors. President Obama did use the low end negotiations today to take his case, once again, straight to the American people. To hold his third nationally televised press conference in a little more than two weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The notion that somehow the American people aren‘t sold is not the problem. The problem is members of Congress are ideologically. So this is not a matter of the American people knowing what the right thing to do is, this is a matter of Congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is a matter of Congress doing the right thing, he says.
Congressional leaders now have a little more than two weeks before the country could officially catastrophically default. Senators have been told to prepare for possible negotiating sessions this weekend. It is crunch time in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
OBAMA: I am going to keep on working, and I‘m going to keep on trying, and what I‘m going to do is to hope that in part this debate has focused the American people‘s attention a little bit more and will subject Congress to scrutiny me, and I think increasingly the American people will say to themselves you know what if a party or politician is constantly taking the position my way or the highway, constantly being locked into, you know, ideologically rigid positions, that we‘re going to remember at the polls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama doing a little political science there, not exactly punditry, more like political science about how it is that the other side, the Republicans ended up where they are. Explaining how the Republican mindset led to this intransigent Republican position on the country defaulting on our debt and shutting down.
And he doesn‘t so much argue against that mindset as he does just describe it, and he says “this is the Republican mindset and I don‘t think the rest of the country shares that mindset.”
When Republican primary voters choose their presidential nominee, when the angry base yells out Republican politicians, when Republican interests groups yell at Republican politicians those folks, for whatever reason, appear to have a no compromise mindset.
But President Obama said today that he believes that mindset is not the mindset of American people more probably, and in November of next year when the country votes, when the whole country votes and it‘s not just base Republicans but its Republicans who don‘t necessarily share that intransigent mindset, and it is independents and it is Democrats. Their hard lines stands, the president argued, is going to be rejected by the country as a whole. That‘s essentially president Obama‘s argument. This will be settled at the ballot box.
Only problem, what if it is not the whole country voting in the next election? What if it‘s not the whole electorate? What if likely independent voters and likely democratic voters in particular do not get into the voting booth in the first place while likely Republicans do?
All across the country right now, there is what looks very much like a coordinated effort among Republican legislatures and Republican governors to pass laws making it significantly harder to vote and harder to register to vote in this country. This year‘s Republican legislatures have introduced bills that would diminish access to voting booths in 40 states. This is happening all across the country and this is happening all at once.
In Maine, for 38 years you could register to vote on the same day you voted. That law has been on the books for 38 years in Maine with no problems about it. But that‘s now that‘s been abolished by the state Republican legislator and governor.
In Iowa, Republicans have passed a bill that would shorten the amount of time that early voting can happen prior to an election, because, you know, not like Iowa has had any issues with access to the polls on election day and long lines at their polling places. Because the Supreme Court said you can vote where you go to college. College student ids have long been accepted as a valid form of voter id, no longer in South Carolina, thanks to the Republican legislature and the Republican governor there.
In Florida, Republicans have just passed a bill that makes it harder for third party groups to register people to vote. The new law is so called draconian, one of the oldest and most respective voting groups in the entire country, the league of women voters, the paragon of we‘re not controversial we‘re just civic-minded. They have just announced that they are ending their voter registration efforts in the state of Florida altogether.
In Kansas, the new republican governor there Sam Brownback just signed into law a new very restrictive, everybody has to show a very specific type of photo I.D. in order to vote bill. That law was proposed and championed by new secretary of state in Kansas named Chris Coback (ph).
Chris Coback is sort of a conservative proselytizer when it comes to state law. He is the man who wrote SP1070, the papers police law in Arizona. He‘s not from Arizona, doesn‘t serve in government there, but Mr. Coback likes to write conservative legislation that he shops to other states and has been trying in a very big way to spread the gospel of making it harder to vote all across the country. Not just in Kansas, but everywhere.
Earlier this week Chris Coback wrote a big RAH-RAH of ED in The Washington Post urging politicians in other states to do what he and Sam Brownback have pulled off in Kansas.
The case that he makes, the case Republicans broadly make for the urgent need for these new make it harder to vote laws is that voter fraud is wide spread across the country and a real threat.
As evidence of that Chris Coback authored said that there were 221 incidents of voter fraud reported in Kansas between 1997 and 2010, seven of which yielded convictions.
That‘s the evidence. 13 years, seven convictions. What are those seven Convictions? Those seven convictions were actually detailed in a report from Mr. Coback‘s office in Kansas.
They consist of the following: One instance of electioneering, so essentially campaigning for a candidate too close to a polling place and six instances of double voting, people who for whatever reason voted in Kansas and another state or who voted in two different counties in Kansas.
So again, these seven convictions that Chris Coback is bragging on it are cold hard evidence that we need to make voting harder in Kansas and across the country is one case of electioneering and six cases of double voting.
Here‘s the important thing, whether or not those seven cases seem like a reign of voter terror to you, none of the things for which those people were convicted would be prevented by Kansas‘ new voter I.D. law. Making somebody show a photo I.D. before they vote does not prevent them from campaigning too close to a polling place, doesn‘t prevent them from voting in two different places. If their names are on the voting roles in two different places, if they had to show photo ids, they show it in both places.
None of those seven convictions, none of those issues would be prevented or solved by the remedy that has been instituted in Kansas and all over the country to address this supposed problem.
So congratulations, you have made it harder to vote and harder to register to vote and still not solved the problem that you claim to have your hair on fire about.
During the provision error, one way to get booze was getting it prescribed to you by a doctor. Get booze prescribed to you for nervous tension or indigestion.
Is liquor good for indigestion? Of course not.
So existing of liquor prescription forms like this one just shows you historically how much people wanted booze and that this was one way to get it. It doesn‘t tell you whiskey cures of tummy ache.
Is there a voter fraud in this country? No. There was no evidence of a big voter fraud problem in this country and there never has been.
Would these laws stop the minuscule amount of voter fraud that there is? No. The conviction rate for people impersonating other voters is slightly south of the conviction rate of unauthorized time travel and that‘s what photo I.D. would supposedly stop.
So how come Republicans are not letting people vote without photo ids now?
What is this for? What does this cure? Why are Republicans legislators and governors all across the country, all at the same time trying to make it harder to vote?
It is an axiom of politics that in a general election when voter turnout is high, that‘s bad for the Republican Party. The fewer people that cast votes generally speaking in an election, the better for the Republican candidate. So any effort to depress overall voter turnout is a plus for the Republican Party.
More importantly though these laws are laser-focus on making voting harder specifically for population groups that vote mostly democratic. The students who find it harder to vote in South Carolina, they, I‘m sure coincidentally belong to a demographic that voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in 2008.
You know what group is least likely to have a state issued photo ID that‘s going to be a mandatory if you want to vote in Wisconsin? African-American men.
According to a recent study in Wisconsin, 55 percent of African-American men in that state do not currently have a state issued driver‘s license. African-American men I‘m sure coincidentally went for Barack Obama in a 2008 - in the 2008 election by a margin of 95-5.
Occasionally Republicans tip their hand on this, as they have done in Texas when Texas Republicans were cranking down voting rights, making it harder to vote in that state than it had ever been before.
Texas Republicans curved out an exception. To the new, you have to show an id to vote now. The exception is for anybody who has a concealed carry permit for a weapon.
What do you think it is about having a gun that makes the Republican legislators of Texas relax about your eligibility to vote?
Joining us now is a man who frankly needs no introduction, civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition.
Reverend Jackson, I‘m so happy to have you on the show tonight, thank you for joining us.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Let me ask you. First, you agree with the basic premise here, that it is getting harder to vote and the way it‘s getting harder to vote targets likely democratic voters.
JACKSON: Yes. Restricting the vote reduce some number of days that you can vote for example, and in some cases in Florida vote on Sunday, more people vote after Sunday church, some vote on Tuesday when they are working, for example, but people who sought to deny their right to vote ask to suppress the votes. And that for example seniors have birth certificate. Men do not have a birth certificate, they don‘t have fix income and so to have a birth certificate, it amounts to a poll tax.
All students who go to state universities use state id in their schools to vote, in Texas use a gun registration. This is really about restricting the process. These people are fighting wars for democracy and use the notion they can certify elections around the world and stick on the mind democratic access.
MADDOW: You have been working on voting rights and on expanding voter registration as an activist since the ‘60s. What do you think explains the urgency to do this now, this kind of nationwide concerted effort to change voting laws all at once in so many different states right now?
JACKSON: You do know that in 65, the only can blocks that vote because of state law, but white woman couldn‘t set on juries. Farmers who can pay taxes can vote.
18-year-olds could serve in Vietnam, but they could not vote. We have to fight that fight. You could vote on the campus you attend school, we finally won that fight.
Our multilingual, we won that fight. Each chance they keep losing big elections by narrow margins. This time they‘re going for a big way.
In Florida in 2008, they lost but they won. In Ohio, we had dry machines and wet people, they won by that margin. But now you have 40 states going out in a firm to easy access for seniors, those are disabled and people of color. The problem of justice much play its role to in fact investigate and defend people protected right to vote.
MADDOW: What do you think the department of justice specifically should do? Do you think this is a case for individual states are doing things that stand out even more than the general trend and should be investigated specifically or do you want a nationwide probe by the department of justice in the voting lines?
JACKSON: It has to be nationwide, but each state has its own scheme for the mind access. For example, imagine in Michigan where the governor observes the right of a citizen there to suspend that mayor and council, notify all those voters put in an emergency manager who then has the power to suspend all labor on negotiations and subsidiary assets.
Well, that is a voter‘s oppression; it‘s so undemocratic, for example. All students on campuses, and in 2000, president Barack ran in 2008, whole campuses could just vote because they have the right to vote where they live They are targeting students, senior disabled, seniors black and brown people. It is violating that they are in 65 and so for section two for the ones from a stop any attempt to get preclearance to do the scheme in Florida by the department of justice.
MADDOW: On the issue of voter registration, in 1984, when you ran for president, I know that your campaign registered over a million new voters, the Obama campaign, another democratic campaign since have focused very much on registering new voters. And in Florida in particular, seeing women voters get out of the voter registration gig. That‘s been something that has been so noncontroversial in modern political history.
JACKSON: Intimidation. I mean if you do not in two days turn in the people registered to vote, you can be jailed, so they stepped back this time. We‘ve been registering people in shopping center malls, in schools, in churches. We move into democratize the process.
Modifying the war by democracy in Iraq, if you will, in Afghanistan, if you will, but here we are at this time trying to restrict the number of days, make voting more expensive but less success.
This is the part of the anti-Barack Obama mainland that‘s sweeping the country. These are the same people you know who Rachel and on the bush raised the debt limit 19 times for all of America because this is not about raising the debt limit. This is about, in fact, another way to undermine the president. We as a people, as a nation, ought to fight back.
MADDOW: Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition.
Sir, happy and honored to have you on the show tonight. Thank you so much for your time.
JACKSON: You‘re very special. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Rupert Murdoch‘s giant media empire is in huge trouble you may have heard. FOX News Channel is part of that Rupert Murdoch media empire.
FOX News Channel covering the trouble that Rupert Murdoch is in, is slop jack, split out your popcorn, watch it again and again kind, it‘s amazing. And that is next.
MADDOW: This week there have been two outstanding questions in the giant and still on the top Rupert Murdoch scandal. One, could this take down the British government given the ties of the British prime minister to mister Murdoch and the fact that one of those arrested so far is a top aide to the prime minister and the conservative party. And two, is this shaking the media empire so hard, is this scandal shaking that empire so hard that it‘s going to affect the part of the empire that‘s here in the United States?
Twenty seven television stations, the New York post, the FOX News channel, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. Will it bring the Rupert Murdoch media empire down here in the U.S.?
Today we got part of the answer to that question when the scandal took out the publisher of the wall street journal, Les Hinton, for 52 years. He spent the last four of them as the CEO of Dow Jones company which publishes “the Wall Street Journal.”
Now for twelve years before that, Les Hinton was the executive chairman of news international. News international is the British arm of Rupert Murdoch‘s Media Empire publishes “News of the World”, “The Sun, And the Sunday Times”. That means that Les Hinton was in charge when “News of the World” allegedly hacked into 13-year-old Milly Dowler‘s cell phone, deleting voice mails and giving her family false hope she was still alive.
Les Hinton was in charge when the “News of the World” reportedly targeted the family of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Les Hinton was in charged in 2005 when the “News of the World” apparently tried to hacked the phones of the families of the 7/7 London transit bombings. Les Hinton was in charge when “The Sunday Times” allegedly employed criminals to get information on then Prime Minister Gordon Brown banking illegal files and tax affairs.
Les Hinton was in charged when ‘The News of the World” was accused of trying to hacked into the phones records of 9/11 victims. And then until today Les Hinton was in charge of “The Wall Street Journal”. He has now today, resigned.
Saying in a memo to staff and a letter to Rupert Murdoch that law he was quote “ignorant to what apparently happened he feels it is proper to resign from news corp.”
The phone hacking scandal first broke actually five years ago when a private investigator and the former royal reporter of “News of the World” were arrested and jailed for hacking into the cell phones of members of the royal household.
After that, Les Hinton testified twice to British parliament, once in 2007, once in 2009. He told lawmakers he had carried out a thorough investigation and that the phone hacking was limited to that one royal reporter.
Since then, two other Murdoch papers “The Sun and The Sunday Times” have been implicated in the hacking. At least seven other current or former “news of the world” staffers, including editors have been arrested.
“News of the World” itself has been shut down after 168 years. The British government is conducting a new enquiry Rupert Murdoch has having to testify to parliaments. He is also now to personally apologize to the girl, Milly Dowler‘s family. And then he faces press afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, FOUNDER, NEWS OF THE WORLD: I‘m a founder of the company. I was appalled to find out what has happened and I apologize and I have nothing further to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nothing further except the full page apologies that he‘s running in national British newspapers this weekend.
And of course, now the resignation of the former head of the British part of this company, as we know Les Hinton, until today, publisher of the wall street journal and the person who succeeded Hinton in the British job, Rebekah Brooks resigned this morning resigned this morning who‘s known to be very close to Mister Murdoch.
Potentially next on the chopping block, somebody even closer to him, Rupert Murdoch‘s own son James who has been busy not explaining himself, paying off phone hacking victims on the side.
This is a damaging scandal for Rupert Murdoch giant international media empire. But that leaves some of the as-yet surviving parts of his media empire in the position of having to cover their boss‘ really big problem while he still owns them.
And when that kind of thing goes badly, that kind of thing goes really, really badly. I have seen a lot of amazing things come out of the morning show program on the FOX News channel, they own the large portion of the real state in MI - oh my God have you seen this video clip file?
But although I will admit of having low expectations of how the FOX News channel morning show would handle the Murdoch scandal story, I never anticipated it would look like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rebekah Brooks has now resigned as chief executive of our parent company‘s British newspaper unit news corporation, just one of the reason hacking scandals. This morning we‘re finding out the Pentagon suffered one of its largest hacking events ever, a cyber theft of more than twenty four thousands files. The Pentagon says they were stolen by a foreign government.
What do you make of what this particular hacking scandal with the “news of the world”?
BOB DILENSCHNEIDER, THE DILENSCHNEIDER GROUP, INC: Well, the “news of the world” is a hacking scandal, it can‘t be denied, but the issue really is why are so many people piling on at this point? We know it‘s a hacking scandal shouldn‘t we get beyond it and deal with the issue of hacking?
I mean Citi corp. has been hacked in to, Bank of America has been hacked in to, America Express has been hacked in to, insurance companies have been hacked into. We have a serious hacking problem in the country and this morning the government was obviously hacked into and there were twenty four thousand files.
So we got to figure out the way to deal with this hacking problem. I would also say, by the way, Citi group, great bank, bank of America, great bank. Are they getting the same kind of attention that took place less than a year ago that the news corp. is getting in today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There‘s a crucial—Citi Group and bank of America were the victims of the hackers. News Corp is the hacker. That‘s the difference. This is just one of the recent hacking scandals. No, this is the case where—wow. But it is not just the FOX News channel that is getting into this kind of spectacular pre pretzel. It‘s not just them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Intercepting a communication like that has to be investigated. I think what there shouldn‘t be, and we‘ve learned recently with bunch of criminal cases of different kinds, don‘t rush to judgment, give people the presumption of innocence. I think that case go high up it goes is a big question and no one shouldn‘t be jumping to conclusion about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was top on crime Rudy Giuliani, a frequent guest in FOX and former client of news corp., repeatedly a close friend of Rupert Murdoch, and the mayor of New York city on 9/11, and in that quote there he was talking about the FBI investigation into the potential hacking of 9/11 victims‘ cell phones.
They said last night if Rudy Giuliani actually stops flirting with running from president and commits to it, this is going to take spectacular spinning on the campaign trail from him.
And if Murdoch media is not around anymore to help mister Giuliani with all of his spin needs, that is going to be even harder.
Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
E.J., it‘s nice to see you, thanks for joining us.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Always stood to be with you.
MADDOW: How much does Rupert Murdoch‘s political influence affect the importance of this as a big business scandal?
DIONNE: Well, first of all, I think one of the reasons we are talking about this tonight is because of his political influence. And you saw there in that Rudy Giuliani comment. This person could make or break politicians. He‘s done it for years on three continents, in Australia, in Great Britain, and the United States. He was very active in New York City politics. And, you know, up to now, being Rupert Murdoch met neighbor having to say you‘re sorry and it‘s really quite astonishing to see him out there in Britain. He is on the conservative side of things as his cable network suggests but he has been sympathetic to some labor figures Tony Blaire notably certainly not lately to Gordon Brown. But it‘s funny to see politicians who once desperately wanted his support.
Now polling all over themselves, to distance themselves probably and of course it‘s a particular problem for prime minister Cameron, the conservative prime minister, his close aide, Andy Coulson turned out to have been involved in the phone hacking scandal of “News of the World.” So I think it influences why we‘re talking about him, and it‘s a good reason to talk about him.
MADDOW: I think seeing this across the pond dramatically today with the publisher of “The Wall Street Journal” getting ousted and was a close tie in this. He is not a distant figure in this who is distantly responsible when things went wrong it was his patch on which things went so horribly wrong. And he‘s been running the wall street journal for quite some time as its publisher.
What do you think changes in you as politics and in you as media if this crossing the pond thing comes to fruition, if Mister Murdoch Empire takes a big hit here? How much would that change things that FOX News or at the wall street journal or any part of Rupert Murdoch‘s Empire here?
DIONNE: I suppose you could sell FOX to the coke brothers. I mean I wonder what would happen at FOX News, but the journal is the big deal and I think both of us know, I surely have a lot of friends and colleagues there who are excellent journalists who really understand journalism‘s public interest role, and when Murdoch bought the journal, there was a great fear that it‘s not just the phone hacking, it‘s this mixing of his opinions with the news pages.
So in the journal has always had a conservative editorial page, and I think Murdoch is really worried about this, because this was going to be his proud achievement. He‘s really trying to take on The New York Times in New York, and he wanted the journal to be the dominant paper in New York. I think this creates a lot of image problems, and, I think, it‘s going to raise a lot of questions. When you have New York saying let‘s investigate whether he hacked 9/11 victims. I suggest that some of the powers have already had the way.
MADDOW: E.J., I share your respect for a lot of individual reporters at the wall street journal I think particularly on national security they‘ve done some incredible work that nobody else has been able to do in prints but I wonder if you think in all honestly if “The Wall Street” journal has noticeably changed at all since it became a Rupert Murdoch property. I mean, we saw what happened with the times of London when he bought it and it frankly deteriorated, and fast, and became what it is today, which is totally useless newspaper in my opinion.
Do you think there has been any erosion at the journal?
DIONNE: You know the—my answer I hate to sound so wishy-washy is yes and no. There are some days when I look at headlines and I say gee! That seems to me a very conservative spin on this story. But then I wonder if I‘m looking for it. There are other days when I see stories in the journal that do not reflect any spin at all.
So I haven‘t I read it every morning. And I‘m not sure it crossed that line. I‘m just reminded of the wonderful quotation from Michael Harrington, the great American socialist who, he really was a socialist, who said the journal‘s news pages are as informative as its editorial opinions are quaintly reactionary. And when its news pages starts becoming quaintly reactionary then we really would be in trouble.
MADDOW: It‘s E.J.D. on Washington Post columnist, senior fellow of the Brookings Institutions and somebody I like talking to about everything that I talk to you about. E.J., thanks so much for being on the show.
DIONNE: Love talking to you. Thank you.
All right. The pretend scientists who I employ in various daydreams have determined put on a warm Friday in July, the craving for a cool, tall summer cocktail can reach critical levels.
A response to their findings that I made up is coming within the hour.
MADDOW: Imagine a game of jeopardy based around answers and questions based on public policy.
Oh, the nerdy possibility of this imaginary game shows.
All right. Federal regulations for $200, please. The answer is the Cuyahoga River. Beep! Beep! Correct question, what is the easiest explanation for why it is a good idea to have a clean water act to protect our water?
On June 22, 1969, there was so much oil and pollution in Ohio‘s Cuyahoga River that it caught fire, and it wasn‘t the first time. Imaginary Alex Trebeck is so disappointed in house Republicans right now.
I will explain just a moment.
MADDOW: This is an oxymoron. Look, this is a river that‘s on fire. A river, which is a body of water, having to be sprayed down with other water in order to put it out. This is the Cuyahoga River just outside Cleveland, Ohio, burning out of control in June 1969.
The fire costs tens of thousands worth of damage because the blames were high enough and hot enough to damage some of the railroad bridges that span that river. This is not hell. And the Cuyahoga River is the river sticks but you would be forgiven for thinking so.
When the river caught fire in 1969, it is not the first time to have done so. It had caught fire in 1952 as well, that was a big one, million and a half damage that time. Before it caught fire in 1952, the same river also caught fire in 1948, also in 1941, also in 1936, also in 1922, also in 1912, and three times in the 1880s.
By the time the 1969 fire of the Cuyahoga River and the river burning through those railroad bridges, time magazine describes 25 million gallons of raw sewage spurting daily into the Cuyahoga River from busted pipes. They wrote some river, chocolate brown, oily, bubbling with sub-surface gases, it oozes rather than flows.
A water pollution report at the times at the Cuyahoga contains quote “no visible life, not even low forms such as leashes and sludge worms that usually thrive on waste.” Yum.
By 1969, a national revulsion of toxic slime burning its way through Cleveland and the mighty Hudson River in New York having bacteria levels 170 times what is considered safe, headlines and scenes like that helped catalyze support for doing something about it.
And in 1972, Congress passed the clean water act that Comic Pimco President Richard Nixon supported the act but did not want to pay for it, so he vetoed it. Congress overrode the veto and now our rivers don‘t catch fire anymore.
This week in Washington, the House of Representatives voted to go back to the old way that we used to deal with it. Every Republican in the house and a handful of Democrats from co-producing states voted yesterday for a bill to get the federal government out of water pollution control and to let that area of policy go back to the states like it used to be, like it was back in the good old days.
Joining us now gloriously in person, Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane University and MSNBC contributor.
Melissa, thank you for being here.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Came for the party, stayed for the show.
MADDOW: Very good. The good old days. This is not going to become law because Senate Democrats are not going to let it, at least I think, but is this a landmark vote anyway just because of the substance about it and what it says about the overall approach to this kind of issue between the two parties?
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I think so. At you know at some point earlier today we were asking the question, have we forgotten this? Have we forgotten that rivers can in fact, catch on fire, that this is how bad our pollution was? And the answer is in part, yes, we have actually forgotten.
You and I have talked before about what it means to be in a long struggle and fighting and failing and fighting and failing. But the other part of it is when you fight and win, you have to remember that the wind is never forever, and then you have to keep struggling around these questions. We‘re seeing it on reproductive rights, we‘re seeing on the voting rights, and now we‘re seeing around the environmental protection.
MADDOW: Environmental regulation is in the largest sense about protecting the common good, the thing from which we all benefits. The common good usually does not have very god lobbyists if it has them at all.
So what‘s the antidote, I guess procedurally or structurally to the millions of dollars that energy companies, Poll Company‘s right, are willing to spend to wipe these regulations off the books.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know what‘s funny on the one hand, common goods don‘t have some sort of lobbyists, but that‘s what we‘re meant to be. I think for me this is a scariest part of this whole government is this big scary awful thing that‘s somehow outside of us.
When your government is a free and fair democratically elected in regular elections government, then it‘s not some scary thing outside of you. It is you. It is, in fact, that we, by being together in communal space, we say OK look, there are these community assets, air, water, land, national defense. And we know that individually we always have short time horizons.
Not malicious or bad or evil, we can only see so far, only see our own good, so we come together in government, freely elected, not all governments, that say look, we will protect our common good, our inner child that can‘t speak for itself. Our job as a government is to protect that and so government regulations, particularly, federal government regulations are precisely the interest groups that these sorts of common interests are to have.
MADDOW: I think that‘s last point about federal regulations and being a federal issue is so critically important right now because what‘s going on in environmental issues is these Republicans who cast the vote don‘t want to get rid of water pollution restrictions, that would be awful. What we want to let the states take care of this. The federal government should get out and this should be handled by the states.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because the states are doing so well physically. I mean at this point, the states are hemorrhaging. They can barely keep firefighters and police officers on the street. Are they now going to take this over? Even if they wanted to, even with all the good will of the states, they don‘t have the capacity to do it.
And look here‘s what happens when states from localities and communities get vulnerable economically they willingly allow polluters to come in. And they do it because they‘re desperate in that short time horizon for jobs.
Look, we have no jobs. The real crisis as you have been talking about is jobs. If there are not jobs and there‘s a heavily polluting corporation willing to build on your creek bed, then in these kinds of circumstances, these communities have a real incentive to do so.
The federal government helps to create that longer time horizon so that states, communities, and neighborhoods don‘t have to make these kinds of tough choices.
MADDOW: That‘s very smart. I would not have thought to put it that
way. That‘s very, very smart. I like talking to you very much, Melissa
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Great to have you here Melissa. Thank you so much.
Melissa Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University and she has an MSNBC contributor.
All right. As greater Los Angeles braces for the mother of all pre-planned traffic jams, the question is jet propulsion or sweat propulsion? I know it sounds disgusting but it‘s actually not.
I will explain it just a moment.
MADDOW: On the programming for the weekend, this Sunday afternoon on MSNBC, our network will be airing two documentaries of which we were all very proud and I which was able to work on.
On Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, MSNBC will air our documentary “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller”, which tells the story of the murder of George Tiller, the abortion provider from Wichita Kansas.
At 4:00 p.m. we will air “the McVeigh Tapes”. That documentary about the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. That documentary is told in part in Timothy McVeigh‘s own words.
Those start at 3:00 Eastern on Sunday. I hope you will tune in.
We will be right back.
MADDOW: Within the last hour at nine o‘clock Eastern time, six o‘clock pacific, the great rolling freeway lanes megatroplis that is Los Angeles embark on its worst nightmare. No 405 freeway. None at all.
It‘s Carmageddon. Hide your kids. Hide your wife.
I hope you bought gold and emergency freeze dry food rush on from Glenn Beck, because tonight they are closing down ten miles of this major Los Angeles freeway. They are closing it for the entire weekend. A 60-hour experience so they can take down the southern side of the Mulholland bridge with jack hammer and the giant diamond bladed saw and a precisely times of ballet of creative transit destruction.
They will then haul away 4,000 tons of concrete and steel in a hurry. If the contractors don‘t make the 6am deadline to re-open on Monday, they will pay a fine of six thousand dollars for every ten minutes they are late.
Since this thing has never happen before in L.A. nobody knows what exactly it will look like except with that no way through for the 500,000 cars that go through that way, you probably won‘t be able to go anywhere in your car once that place you used to go through is shutdown.
And so, honoring the un-denotable Los Angeles will to get from point A to point B despite the whole city being designed to prevent that from happening easily. The airline JetBlue made an offer, for four dollars including all taxes and fees. For four dollars you can fly on Saturday from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank to Long Beach Airport which its only distance is about forty miles. And that got JetBlue a bunch of publicity, a bunch of four dollar ticket fares that they sold out quickly.
And it got people thinking, Tom Vanderbilt who wrote a book about driving called “Traffic”. Tom Vanderbilt tweeted this about the JetBlue deal, “given airport travel time, security one way delay et cetera, I bet a good cyclist could travel from Burbank to long beach faster than JetBlue.”
Some reasonable yet very agro-cyclist to call themselves Wolfpack A, decided that traffic guy was right. They challenged JetBlue to a race. Door-to-door, Burbank to long beach. And while JetBlue said it is not in this as a race, JetBlue says, it‘s not trying to win this, they did also make space on their plane for the flier to compete with the cyclist.
So tomorrow morning that JetBlue passenger and the Wolfpack-A cyclist will all set out from a house in North Hollywood around ten fifty local time. The airline passenger will head to the Burbank airport and the cyclist will just head for long Beach on land, on bike. The race ends at the shore line Aquatic Park in Long Beach right next at the aquarium of the pacific which is a nice place to be if you can get there.
May be the best motor transportation arrive first and save a seat for the others at the shark lagoon when you got there, right? The Wolfpack tweeted today this will be a lawful contest. “Want to stress to everyone, Wolfpack A will be riding legal. Timing the lights using big open roads and the bike path. This is doable.”
I have to tell you, I love this story. I love that Los Angeles can have so much fun getting ready for the worst weekend anyone can remember. I love that JetBlue made room for the plane for the guy who‘s not racing in a race. You know what happen to this guy, these barely legal street racers who are like modern day John Henry spading off the steamed shovel to get into the other side first.
These Wolfpack A folks I‘m telling you now are going to win. They are totally going to win. I‘m bad at predictions but there you go. They‘re going to win. They have the bikes, they‘ve got the tattoos. They are going to win. I bet myself a dollar.
The bikes. It‘s the bikes.
MADDOW: Congress took a break this week from denouncing the power of the federal government to do things like stopping our rivers from catching on fire. They took a break from decrying the tyranny of the federal government sticking its nose into everything to sticks their nose to Washington, D.C. D.C. specifically, the City.
The local government of the District of Columbia once again this week, I‘ll put through part of the annual ritual that is Republicans and Congress overruling D.C.‘s own local decision making. On everything from abortion rates to public schools.
And Republicans and Congress do this every year. While saying that one of their fundamental values is limiting federal over-reached in preserving local preservation, they do this every year. Every year they big-foot D.C. like you can‘t believe. And every year it spells hypocrisy out in the skies in flaming letters a size of a sun that nobody noticed it.
And every year it makes me crazy and it makes we love Washington, D.C., the city. And this year the district has given me a way to show them my love a way to make me very, very happy. The District of Columbia this week declared the Ricky to be the native cocktail in Washington, D.C.
From here on now July in Washington D.C. is Ricky month.
The Ricky is one of the easiest to make and cheapest and most accessible cocktails ever invented. And it was invented in Washington at a saloon called “Shoemakers” in the 1880s. Shoemakers is not the site of the downtown D.C. Marriot Hotel. A ceremony this week at the Marriot and they party this weekend, I‘m sure star D.C. bartender and really nice guy Derek Brown, as well as the drinking Luminaira of Washington, they celebrated the coronation of The Ricky.
So, for tonight‘s cocktail moment, here‘s how you can make a Ricky. You can totally do this even if you can make no other drink. This takes no skill.
All right. What you need is a tall glass, ice. You need fresh limes not classic lime fresh limes. You need seltzer or club soda and you need booze. It is a tart drink. There is no sugar I this. And in order to enjoy this, you do have to not minds something tart and have not mind the taste of liquor. Because this tastes like the booze that you put in it.
But if you‘re OK with those things this will cure of you gin and tonics forever. So you put the ice in a glass, don‘t fill it up all the way. You‘re going to add two ounces of spirits. You can use gin for gin Ricky or bourbon for bourbon Ricky or in this case we are making a rye Ricky using bonded which means hundred proof ripen house rye, two ounces of booze.
Here‘s the Ricky part, ready? You get your half of lime and squeeze the half of lime directly into the glass.
Oh, my God. That‘s what makes it tart. Yes, you are won‘t get scurvy, trust me and here‘s the magic part, you drop the lime shell in there, add more ice. And then top it with seltzer. And give it a little stir if you want but you will be all right.
This is apparently—oh nice!
It is apparently named after a lobbyist named Joe Ricky who drank this in the morning at Shoe maker saloon in Washington. And he liked his with bourbon.
So, happy Ricky month. I love Washington, D.C.
Republicans in congress, leave them alone.
Have a great weekend.
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