'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, October 10th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Gilbert Ortiz, Alan Grayson
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, "THE LAST WORD": You`re going to have "THE
LAST WORD" online at our blog, thelastword.MSNBC.com. You can follow my
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour.
This is Russell Pearce. Russell Pearce is a Republican and a Tea
Party favorite. He`s president of the state Senate in the great state of
Arizona. Russell Pearce made a national name for himself last year by
pushing through Arizona`s "papers please" law. Remember SB-1070? At the
time the most draconian anti-immigration law in the country before Alabama
got ahold of the issue.
A federal judge has blocked Arizona from enforcing major parts of
"papers please." But in the meantime, Arizona voters, angry or grossed out
by the whole SB-1070 ordeal started a recall campaign against Russel
Pearce. The recall campaign says Pearce has demonstrated, quote, "overt
disdain for the United States Constitution." They put his petition out
there and they put Russell Pearce up for a vote.
Now, through no fault of the Arizona recallers, they are watching a
cautionary tale unfold about the way we make decisions these days in our
Here`s how it goes. Ready?
The candidate who`s trying to unseat Russell Pearce is in fact a
fellow Republican, this guy here. He`s a totally mainstream local
Republican from the district who was urged into the race by other local
Republicans who were embarrassed by Russell Pearce. He says he accepted
the challenge after a period of prayer and fasting. His biggest asset in
the race is of course that he is not Russell Pearce.
Russell Pearce seems to have decided he maybe couldn`t win that way,
if it was just him against this other regular guy, mainstream Republican
from the district. So, it appears that Russell Pearce and/or his
supporters have concocted a scheme, a scheme to run a fake candidate to
confuse voters, to sheer off votes from the mainstream Republican running
against Mr. Pearce. The idea is to bamboozle voters into splitting the
anti-Russell Pearce vote between two candidates so Russell Pearce ends up
holding on to his seat.
The head of a local Tea Party group which supports Russell Pearce
became the campaign manager. Not for Russell Pearce, not for his opponent
obviously, but for this third candidate who they found. She is a local
woman with no political history or experience at all. She`s a naturalized
citizen from Mexico.
Russell Pearce`s brother, his name is Lester, is a justice of the
peace locally. He`s therefore not supposed to get involved with any
campaigning at all. But Brother Lester went out campaigning anyway with
his daughters, with Russell Pearce`s nieces to collect signatures. They
were not campaigning for Russell Pearce. They were campaigning for this
third candidate they found, Olivia Cortes, to get her on the ballot.
In addition to that remarkably charitable effort by the Russell Pearce
family, the mysterious Cortes campaign also somehow found itself with
enough money, enough funding to pay professional signature gatherers to go
out alongside Russell Pearce`s nieces in order to get Olivia Cortes on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told that if people were supporters of Mr.
Pearce, to tell them go ahead and sign this, that this will help his
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the idea was to dilute or divert the vote?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By running a diversionary or a sham candidate that
that might run a file of Arizona`s election laws?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I had no idea, she says. No idea there could be serious
legal consequences in this scheme to save Russell Pearce from being
recalled, by saving Russell Pearce from running a clear election against
somebody who wants to recall him.
The circumstances of the Russell Pearce recall race were strange
enough that a Maricopa County judge began holding hearings into whether or
not this Olivia Cortes had been put up for a sham candidacy -- whether this
was, in fact, just a Tea Party Republican pro-Russell Pearce dirty trick in
this Arizona election.
On Thursday, facing the possibility that Senator Pearce`s family would
be compelled to testify in this case, Olivia Cortes suddenly dropped out of
the race. She dropped out.
But you know what? As far as dirty tricks go, mission accomplished.
Because when voters in that Russell Pearce district go to the polls on
November 8th, the name Olivia Cortes will still be on that ballot. The
ballots are already printed. Her name will be alongside the name of the
mainstream Republican who really is running and alongside the name Russell
Pearce. So, three names in what is now a two-person race. Two people who
aren`t Russell Pearce conveniently splitting the vote against him.
So, that`s what it looks like in Arizona now, which is frankly a nice
reminder both that people are fighting back against some of the extremes of
the last couple years in state politics but also a good reminder of how
Republicans roll these days, what partisan politics looks like right now
around elections this year and next.
Consider also Ohio where Republicans jammed a union stripping bill
through the legislature in March. Why attack union rights? Well, for all
attacking unions does to undermine the middle class directly and lower
everyone`s wages and living standards directly, attacking unions also has
the nice partisan side effect of attacking the Democratic Party`s largest
institutional base of support.
Ohio`s blog of mass destruction recently posted this e-mail from a
local Ohio Tea Party leader. Quote, "Let me be clear, for the Tea
Party/Patriot movement, our number one goal is to defund the union
leadership and thus their exclusive partners in the Democratic Party and
take back control of our government."
"If SB-5 is upheld," the e-mail continues, "the Democrats will not
have the money to compete in Ohio next year. Barack Obama and Sherrod
Brown will lose Ohio and be thrown out of office in 2012." Our number one
goal is to defund the union leadership and thus the Democratic Party,
defeat Obama, defeat Sherrod Brown.
The intent is not to level the playing field in other words but tilt
it permanently, to make it so conservatives causes win and progressive ones
lose, not just this year, not just next year, but for years after that --
to use public policy to give Republicans an advantage in elections.
Here`s the thing, though. Ohio has been fighting back against this.
In June, Ohioans delivered enough signatures several times over to force a
recall of Ohio`s union stripping bill. The bill is not in effect because
the recall effort is under way. It will be on the ballot for recall --
just like Russell Pearce in Arizona, it will be on the ballot for recall on
November 8th of this year.
And speaking of permanently playing field tilting, Ohio Republicans
also went after early voting this year, joining a majority of other
Republican legislatures this year who have voted to make it harder in one
way or another to vote. Early voting, of course, was used
disproportionately in 2008 by African-Americans who quite
disproportionately voted for Barack Obama and other Democrats so magically,
naturally, early voting has to go away before we get to the next election
And in June, Ohio Republicans did pass a law that shrinks Ohio`s early
voting calendar by more than half.
Last month, Ohioans again fought back, delivering more than enough
signatures to put that voting crimping law on hold, to put it up for a
repeal next year in 2012.
Ohio has been fighting back all year against Republican attempts to
tilt the playing field.
Also in Maine, Republicans passed a law to end that state`s tradition
of being able to register on the same day that you vote. That has been the
law in Maine for decades, but Republicans undid it this year. Maine fought
back, though, and got enough signatures to force a citizens` repeal of that
law on this November`s ballot.
In Tennessee where you may remember our story about 96-year-old
Dorothy Cooper suddenly finding it hard to vote after Republicans in
Tennessee passed a bill that says you can`t vote unless you show an ID that
hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans don`t have. In Tennessee, the story
of Dorothy Cooper is not just an infuriating story anymore. Now, it is a
rallying cry the state Democratic Party trying to rally voters against how
much harder Tennessee Republicans have just made it to vote there.
And Tennesseans launching a new effort like Ohio, like Maine, like
Arizona, to get this thing on to the ballot for a citizens` recall. People
are fighting back. These are state by state laws, but, of course, the
cumulative effect is national and pretty obviously intentional -- to
structurally tilt the playing field so state laws about elections make it
harder for likely Democrats to vote, and therefore more likely for
Republican candidates to win -- in the next election and every election
As such, the Democrats Senate Campaign Committee nationally announced
at the national level, the DSCC will be fighting back. They`re asking for
help from the Justice Department in protecting voting rights state by
state. They also say they`ll be making a renewed push to register voters
and to mount get out the vote efforts in the states that have been targeted
by Republicans changing the laws. And maybe that could help. Maybe it
I think the attention to this issue certainly helps if only because it
makes people who these laws are designed to discourage from voting, it
makes those folks know somebody is trying to keep them from the voting
booth which can have a motivating effect on the need to vote on Election
But this kind of coordinated, sustained national assault on voting
isn`t an esoteric thing. It isn`t an idea. It isn`t a plan. It is
happening. It is concrete and nuts and bolts and hard to counteract.
Fighting for these kinds of rights, fighting back is about how we
decide things in America. It is at the level of sinew and bone. This is a
structural thing. This is deep and national.
And sometimes, it comes down to decisions that are very, very, very
individual and very local. We`ve been bringing you the story of two county
clerks in Colorado -- where the new Republican secretary of state has
ordered the counties not to send ballots to voters who would usually expect
to get them. In Denver, the voters happen to live in heavily Hispanic
neighborhoods -- anybody who hadn`t voted since the election in 2010 or re-
upped their registration, no ballot for you.
In Pueblo County, the voters happened to be also U.S. troops overseas
who would usually get sent a ballot. But the Republican secretary of state
in Colorado said he wanted left out of the ballot mailings this year.
On Friday, a judge ruled against the Republican secretary of state in
Colorado. In a hearing on a Denver case, he ruled the Denver`s ballots
could get mailed out to the disproportionately Hispanic voters. And as we
reported exclusively on Friday night, in Pueblo County, the clerk there
heard the verdict, he was in the courtroom. He heard the judge`s verdict
and without waiting for more details, he got on to the phone to his office
and told them to send out those ballots to those troops.
Send out the military ballots. This is what fighting back sometimes
looks like. Right? It is a national fight. There`s obviously a national
plan at work here. But sometimes stopping this stuff, sometimes standing
up to this stuff comes down to one person, one official doing what he or
she believes is the right thing to do and doing it right away.
Joining us now is Gilbert Ortiz. He`s the Pueblo County clerk and
recorder who earlier this month was ordered by the Colorado secretary of
state not to send ballots to military personnel overseas. He joins us live
Mr. Ortiz, thank you for making time to join us tonight
GILBERT ORTIZ, PUEBLO COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Last week, moments after the court ruling, I know our office
spoke with you and we learned that you had sent those ballots out to troops
overseas. Was that a hard decision for you to make? Did you know you
would do that when that verdict came down that night?
ORTIZ: I knew exactly I would do that. It was my intention since the
beginning of this whole process to send those ballots out to military
overseas voters. And so, it was an exciting moment for me and my staff and
I made that call as soon as I was able to.
MADDOW: We have been looking at this issue of voting rights in terms
of its effect on electoral politics, literally on elections. In your role
as county clerk, how do you see this? Do you feel like this is unfolding
in a partisan manner? Is this a technocratic issue to you? How do you see
these changes the secretary of state has been trying to put in place in
Colorado this year?
ORTIZ: You know, in Pueblo County, I really concentrate on our own
voters. And it`s always been my intent as an election official to send
ballots out to everybody that`s registered and to make the voting process
available to them. And it`s something that I`m passionate about and I
think all clerks in Colorado are passionate about.
And, you know, we`re not into -- we`re not paying attention so much to
the political side or the reasons behind it. We just know that we want to
send ballots to registered voters in Colorado counties.
MADDOW: Mr. Ortiz, have you in your capacity as clerk and recorder in
Pueblo County, have you ever had to deal with a problem of voter fraud, of
voter impersonation fraud or any kind of voter fraud by troops serving
ORTIZ: It`s never happened. I can`t imagine that it would happen.
Here our troops are overseas and they deserve a ballot. They`re out there
defending democracy for all of us and the least we can do as election
officials is to send them a ballot and make them part of the process.
MADDOW: In terms of -- I hear what you say, sir, about not focusing
on the politics of this. Your job is to run the elections, not to make
sure they go any particular way. But I wonder since you`ve been involved
in this, what`s turning out to be a real fight in Colorado, real difference
of opinion here, and being fought out in court and other places.
Do you feel like you have the support of the people who you serve?
The support of Pueblo County in your stand to try to get ballots out to the
people of the county in as guess as quick and seamless way as possible?
ORTIZ: I do. You know, we made intergovernmental agreements with all
our participating entities early on in the process. They all agreed in the
contract to send ballots out to inactive voters. You know, just walking
around Pueblo County recently and in the grocery store with my family, I`ve
gotten a lot of support, a lot of pats on the back for what we`re doing.
I`ve gotten a lot of phone calls nationally from veterans groups and
from veterans, themselves, thanking me for continuing to fight for their
right to vote. So, it`s been great. It`s been very difficult to deal with
this every day. I`m used to dealing with just ballots and elections. And
the political spotlight is a little difficult, but I`m excited for what
we`ve done and the fight that we`ve brought.
MADDOW: Gilbert Ortiz, Pueblo County, Colorado, clerk and recorder --
thank you for your time tonight, sir. I know this fight is not over in
Pueblo County and in Colorado. We`d love to stay in touch with you as this
ORTIZ: I`d love that, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
All right. Melissa Harris-Perry joins us next. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I was able to pull aside
here just for a few moments Dr. Robert Jeffress. He is pastor of the First
Baptist Church of Dallas. He also gave a speech introducing Governor Rick
Perry earlier this afternoon.
And if you don`t mind me saying Pastor Jeffress, you created a stir
coming out of that speech because in talking to reporters, you said in
strong, plain language what you think of Mormonism. You described it as a
cult. And you said that if Republican votes for Mitt Romney, they`re
giving some credibility to a cult.
Do you stand by that comment?
ROBERT JEFFRESS, PASTOR: Absolutely. And that`s not some fanatical
comment. That`s been historic the historic position of evangelical
Christianity. The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest
Protestant denomination in the world, has officially labeled Mormonism as a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When a front-runner for the Republican nomination for
president gets caught in a fundamentalist bigotry eddy like this, the
expressed understanding in the Beltway media is not that there`s been any
real display of religious bigotry in the Republican Party or among the
conservative movement, but rather that mainstream Republicans like Mitt
Romney and like Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric
Cantor, these guys have just had an unfortunate brush-up against the very
fringy far right extreme, no representative part of the American
conservative movement, which the presumed mainstreamers just make a big
show of being nice to even though we all know they have no real influence
in what they think, doesn`t really mean anything.
That`s your basic Beltway media narrative about something like this
weekend`s Values Voters Summit.
Here`s what`s missing from that analysis. The values voter thing is
not a fringe event. If it ever was, it isn`t anymore. I mean,
substantively, of course, it`s a fringe event.
It`s like the Flat Earth Society, but it`s not fringe within the
conservative movement and Republican Party politics. Mitt Romney has gone
to the Values Voters Summit for six years in a row now. Every major
Republican presidential candidate except for Jon Huntsman -- is he still
considered major -- spoke at the Values Voter Summit this weekend.
And it`s not just the candidates looking for votes. It`s also the
House Republican leadership, the congressional leadership of the Republican
Party which supposedly represents the mainstream of the party and should
not be tarred by the extreme views of the fringe of the conservative
But here`s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaking at the Values
Voters Summit. Here`s Speaker of the House John Boehner speaking at the
Values Voters Summit. Here`s who they shared the stage with at the Values
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe we need a president that understands
just as Islam represents the greatest long range threat to our liberty, so
the homosexual agenda represents immediate threat to every freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Woo! Woo!
When all the Republican presidential candidates in the Republican
congressional leadership do big national televised events like this, why is
there this gentleman`s understanding, right, with the Beltway media that
Republicans who speak at the things shouldn`t be viewed as sharing the
event`s agenda? They know what they`re getting into. Why do we make
excuses for things like this?
I mean, in the weeks leading up to the number one and number two
Republicans in the House speaking at the Values Voters Summit thing, look
at how they behaved. Republicans in the House announced they would move
forward with yet another effort to eliminate all insurance coverage for
abortion anywhere in the country.
They tried to do this during the health reform debate. They tried to
hijack health care reform to effectively ban abortion for women who could
not afford it without insurance. And since they didn`t get what they
wanted, they didn`t at least get enough of what they wanted at that time,
Republicans in the House have started going after that again.
They`ve also started a new witch hunt, going after Planned Parenthood,
demanding documentation from Planned Parenthoods nationwide going back 20
years, documentation of patient referrals, of funding, and what they call
But the big values voters speech on his calendar, Speaker of the House
John Boehner just announced plans to triple the amount of money the House
is spending to defend the anti-gay Clinton era Defense of Marriage Act in
court. Thanks to John Boehner, you the taxpayer have a $500 an hour lawyer
making that case on your behalf, to hold on to the Defense of Marriage Act.
His expenses were not supposed to exceed a half million dollars, this
lawyer, but he`s now cleared for $1.5 million of your dollars.
And if the point isn`t clear enough, the House Republican chairman of
the armed services committee told C-Span on Friday that he will block all
funding for the Pentagon unless it also comes with a new anti-gay marriage
law. The Pentagon will not be funded now according to House Republicans
unless they get their way against gay marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this issue for you worth not having a defense
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. No matter how much Republicans prioritize abortion at
the state level and at the federal level again and again and again; no
matter how much Republicans prioritize gay rights at the state level and at
the federal level, again and again and again; no matter how many
Republicans get their Jerry Falwell on and focus again and again and again
on these social issues and these rights issues -- the Beltway media insists
they`re focused like a laser on jobs, jobs, jobs. Also on jobs. And also
I do not know why the Beltway media excuses what the Republicans are
doing in favor of the Republicans favored mainstream narrative about what
they`re doing. Why don`t we look at what they do instead of what they`re
saying they do? I realize I`m aiming too high.
Let me close with one case study. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
told former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on FOX News recently that
he, Mitt Romney, would support a constitutional amendment to define life as
beginning at conception. Mitt Romney said, yes, he would support such a
constitutional amendment. Look, I can prove it to you. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: Would you have support of the constitutional
amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Absolutely. This is a personhood amendment, the Huckabee is
talking about. Personhood amendments are broadly understood not just to
ban abortion outright but also to ban many common forms of birth control,
including the pill. That`s what their proponents intend and it is seen as
a likely impact of this thing that Mitt Romney just said he supports.
Wow! The Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination
wants to ban the pill. I have a follow-up question. I mean, not a single
Beltway reporter has asked him a follow-up question about this. As to
whether or not he really understood what he was saying yes to.
Did you really mean it, sir? You really want to ban the pill, Mitt
Romney? Can you explain? Can somebody please ask Mitt Romney a follow-up
question on that? Or do we believe him that he`s laser focused on jobs,
We here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW cannot get a call back from the
Romney campaign when we asked him the follow-up question. Can somebody who
can get Mitt Romney`s people on the phone, please ask him that? Give me
like mid pancake flip in New Hampshire. Just ask him. Anyone, please?
Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science
at Tulane University and MSNBC contributor.
Melissa, thanks for your time tonight.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely.
MADDOW: Is there as much as a disconnect as I am frustrated about
between how much Republicans really are focusing on social issues and the
coverage of them as if they are not focused on social issues at all?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, for me the most frustrating part is the
disconnect between the extent to which the Republican potential nominees
for the GOP presidential, you know, run here, are focused on social issues
when the polling tells us that ordinary Americans are fundamentally focused
on issues of the economy, sometimes the deficit shows up, unemployment,
every once in a while you`ll get a blip, for example, post-9/11 around
questions of national security and terrorism. I mean, you know, I think we
can make lots of claims about how our media, whether it`s Beltway media or,
you know, supposedly ideological media or Twitter or any of our media
sources are sort of focused on a variety of different ways of thinking
about the political arena.
But the big disconnect is between what people are identifying as the
major problems facing America at this moment and what these candidates are
talking about and the basis on which they`re being chosen as front-runners.
MADDOW: The issue internally within the Republican Party used to be
how much mainstream Republicans could sort of flirt with the fringier
elements of the social conservative movement, the evangelical movement, not
part of the conservative movement while maintaining general election
That having to walk that line becomes a lot easier if they`re not
reported as doing that flirting. And so, as we see the real -- I mean, the
Bryan Fischers of the real, the real fringe of the movement essentially
become mainstream figures in Republican politics, is there not a cost to be
paid for that in the long run?
HARRIS-PERRY: There is. You know, interestingly enough, that
transition of a relatively well-organized but undoubtedly small minority
within a kind of big party like the GOP is, suddenly becoming central to
deciding who the Republicans will actually put up as a presidential
candidate, someone who`s going to have to appeal across a broad range.
That`s actually exactly what much of the American left has been trying
to figure out, how to do in the Democratic Party, right? How do we get
sort of a set of questions or issues on the agenda that can be hammered
home over and over again, the Democratic presidential candidates in a way
that would force them to have the sort of progressive agenda at the same
time that they were running for president of the United States?
And the fact is that much of the left has been unable to do that. But
on the right, over the course of the past 25 years, they`ve been incredibly
effective at moving to the center of that party and particularly to the
center of the nominating process, so that over and over again even in
supposedly mainstream debates, not just at these Value Voters Summits, we
hear them answering questions about how much you`re willing to restrict
reproductive rights, just how -- just how pro-life are you? It`s no longer
even a question of whether or not choice is even a possibility for
Republican candidates, for example.
MADDOW: Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane politics professor and MSNBC
contributor -- Melissa, thank you for helping us understand this. I
MADDOW: You may remember former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson from
appearances like this on the floor of the House of Representatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GRAYSON (D), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Here it is. The
Republicans` health care plan for America: don`t get sick. That`s right.
Don`t get sick.
If you have insurance, don`t get sick. If you don`t have insurance,
don`t get sick. If you`re sick, don`t get sick. Just don`t get sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alan Grayson is not Congressman Alan Grayson anymore. But
his words about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests been clear and pointed
and from what I hear from a lot of people - motivating
Alan Grayson is our guest tonight on the subject of the growing
movement and the right wing`s tin ear for it.
MADDOW: Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin found himself
nationally famous earlier this year when he picked a fight with union
rights in Wisconsin. After campaigning for office on a different set of
issues, he and the Republicans in the state legislature decided to go after
union rights. In Wisconsin, a state where a lot of America`s union rights
were born, did not react well to this -- you may recall.
The first electoral consequence for the Republicans was a round of
recall elections in August. In which two Republican senators were sent
packing and the Republican majority in the Senate was cut down to just one
Tonight on "THE ED SHOW" here on MSNBC, the second electoral
consequence for Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans will be
unveiled. A recall election campaign against Scott Walker, himself.
If we did not know if before, we learned this year Wisconsinites, like
the Badgers they are, can be a force to be reckoned with when they get
threatened. Details for Republican Governor Scott Walker`s career ahead
tonight on "THE ED SHOW" -- which is right after this show.
MADDOW: Here`s one thing most people probably do not know about New
York City. New York City has a gondola, Swiss Alps-style. Yes, New York
is a densely populated city. The only way to get around on a daily basis
is by riding a subway, or taking a bus or a hailing cab. But there is
another way. Gondola.
Look at that. Gondola. So awesome. It just sails right over the
cars and the cabs and overpasses and everything. It`s real.
The reason I mention this gondola actually living in New York City,
even though most people don`t know it, has to do with the "Occupy Wall
Street" protests -- the "Occupy Wall Street" protests in New York that have
just entered their fourth week.
The protests gained enough national traction that individual
Republican candidates for president are now being asked about the protests
as they campaign across the country. Here for instance is Republican
presidential front-runner Mitt Romney denouncing the "Occupy Wall Street"
protests earlier today at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I think the idea of dividing our nation at a time of crisis
is the wrong way to go. All the streets are connected. Wall Street`s
connected to Main Street. And so finding a scapegoat, finding someone to
blame in my opinion isn`t right way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: All the streets are connected. Wall Street connected to Main
Street. You know, that is actually a checkable thing. And if you check
it, it turns out not to be true.
Here`s a map of Manhattan. There`s Wall Street at the very bottom of
Manhattan over there on the left. And there is a Main Street in New York
City. It is all the way over there sort of on the center right there. It
turns out they are not at all connected. In fact, they are separated by a
body of water. Main Street in New York City is located on Roosevelt Island
which is a lovely but tiny island in the East River.
So if you want to go from Main Street to Wall Street in New York City,
they are not connected. You got to use the gondola. OK? I mean,
technically the Tramway I guess they call it which connects Roosevelt
Island to Manhattan and thus connects Main Street to Wall Street.
Sorry, Mitt Romney, work on the metaphor. They are not connected.
Except by a vaguely Swiss seeming thing you probably don`t want to talk
The Republican presidential front-runner having to come up with an
attempted snappy rejoinder to your protest, failing but attempting to come
up with that rejoinder, that is actually for the protesters a pretty sure
sign that their protest movement is catching on.
Another sign: accelerated media coverage of the cause. Not media
coverage of the organization necessarily or specific protesters but of the
cause that the protest is against. For example, in the month before the
"Occupy Wall Street" movement, there were, to our count, 164 mentions of
the phrase corporate greed in the news. One month, 164 mentions.
In the month since the "Occupy Wall Street" movement has been under
way, 1,801 mentions of that same phrase: corporate greed in the news.
Here`s another sign that your movement may be gaining some momentum.
Your protest which is narrowly focused at first to one specific geographic
location, in this case, Wall Street, your protest begins to spread fast,
well beyond that initial location.
Today, NBC News got video in of "Occupy Wall Street`s" spinoff
protests being held in Boston, in Atlanta, in Washington, D.C., in
Columbus, Ohio, in Des Moines, Iowa, all today. And that`s just what we
got tape of.
Over the weekend, we got video in of occupy protests being held in
Portland, Oregon, and in Knoxville, Tennessee, and in Chicago and in
Indianapolis and in Cincinnati and in Philadelphia and in Sacramento and in
Today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the protesters
who have camped out on actual Wall Street in New York City will be allowed
to stay there indefinitely.
Officials in Washington, D.C., giving protesters there permission to
stay for at least four more months.
But perhaps the best sign that your protest movement is catching on
would be this one right here. Dead end saboteurs showing up from the right
to try to take the whole thing out of context and make it look like
something that it`s not. Tape here of right wing activists James O`Keefe.
Remember him from the ACORN/fake pimp thing, the Shirley Sherrod thing?
Wandering around occupy Wall Street today presumably in his attempt to
make the protest looks like it has something to do with hookers or that it
implies something scary about black people. Yes, not sure what the scary
black people or scary hooker line will be yet. We`ll have to wait for the
grossly, malignly edited tape.
A conservative writer with "The American Spectator" magazine
acknowledging today, too, that he infiltrated the Occupy D.C. protests,
provoking a pepper spray confrontation with a security guard at a national
museum, specifically provoking the pepper spray incident as a provocateur.
Occupy Wall Street has officially engendered a full scale right wing
freak-out from the people on the right who have made themselves responsible
for defending the specific policies that are now being protested against --
people who have been advancing and defending policies that advance the
interests of the richest 1 percent of people in the country. Those folks
are now in full panic mode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I for one an increasingly
concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities
across the country.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Sowing class envy and social unrest is
not what we do in America.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: You think that`s what the president is
RYAN: I think president is doing that. I think he`s preying on the
emotions of fear, envy and anger, and that is not constructive to unifying
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My parents, they never
played the victim card. My parents never said, we hope the rich people can
lose something so we can get something. I don`t have patience for people
who want to protest the success of somebody else.
GLENN BECK: Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsies with
these people, you`re wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the
streets and kill you. They will do it. They`re not messing around.
Those in the media -- and I say this, I am included in this -- they
will drag us out into the streets and kill us. If you`re wealthy, they
will kill you for what you have.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: You know, Glenn Beck still exists. That was apparently him
on his radio show today. They`re coming to kill you!
After the -- never mind. I`m not even going to get into the mind of
Glenn Beck. Never mind.
The right is going to try to make this movement seem super scary,
right? They don`t even need Glenn Beck. But Glenn Beck helps.
And people can be scared by protests in general, absolutely. You can
use that to scare people, particularly if police continue to use brutal
tactics against the protesters. That, itself, can make the protesters seem
scary. Counter-intuitively, if police are beating people up and using
pepper spray on people, it can make those people who the police are abusing
seem like scary people. We`ve seen this before in the past.
But the idea here, the message the protests are promoting is not only
a simple one to say, it is a simple one to understand.
Case in point, Friday night`s Bill Maher show on HBO experienced what
was apparently, at least anecdotally reported to be the first ever standing
ovation given to a comment by a guest on that show. On stage with Bill
Maher was former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, former
George W. Bush communications director Nicolle Wallace, who you`ve seen on
this show, and on the right, a conservative writer and satirist named P.J.
After Congressman Grayson gave a rather eloquent description of the
problems raised by "Occupy Wall Street," the critique they`ve been raising,
things like Wall Street`s financial grip over both political parties and
what hasn`t happened since the financial crisis caused by Wall Street in
2008, P.J. O`Rourke tried not so much to denounce the movement as a whole
but rather to just mock it.
And Congressman Grayson mercilessly, it was a move that did not end
well for P.J. O`Rourke and ended very well for Congressman Alan Grayson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P.J. O`ROURKE, SATIRIST: Get the man a bongo drum. They found their
GRAYSON: Well, if I --
O`ROURKE: Take your shoes off, get a bongo drum, forget where to go
to the bathroom and it`s yours.
GRAYSON: Listen, if I am a spokesman for all the people who think we
should not have 24 million people in this country who can`t find a full-
time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who
can`t see a doctor when they`re sick, that we shouldn`t have 47 million
people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves
and shouldn`t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than
the value of their home -- OK, I`ll be that spokesman.
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: Oh, look, they`re standing in the audience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, look, they`re standing in the audience. Former
Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida joins us next.
MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the interview is former Congressman
Alan Grayson of Florida. Mr. Grayson represented Florida`s eighth district
from 2009 to 2011
Congressman Grayson, thanks very much for being with us. It`s nice to
see you again.
GRAYSON: Thank you.
MADDOW: You have and have always had a knack for saying things in a
way that in a way that connects with people. Sometimes you upset your
critics but you definitely enthuse your supporters.
The "Occupy Wall Street" protests seem to be connecting with people
despite a campaign on the right to portray them as scary. What do you
think is resonating so much here?
GRAYSON: I think they have their eyes open and more and more people
are seeing the scales fall from their eyes as well, because the "Occupy
Wall Street" people are saying first there`s no accountability on Wall
Street. They wrecked our economy.
Years ago, they took a healthy economy and they gave us 9 percent, 10
percent or more unemployment. And they destroyed 20 percent of our
national wealth in the course of just 18 months from the middle of 2007, to
the end of 2008, destroyed 20 percent of our national wealth accumulated
over the course of two centuries. And nobody`s been prosecuted for it.
Nobody`s been indicted. Nobody`s been convicted.
So, first, there`s no accountability. The second thing is that
they`ve created a system that is enormously unequal. And the result of
that is people are struggling to find a job to pay their bills, to pay
their rent, to pay their credit card bills.
According to Wikipedia, there are only five countries in the entire
planet that are more unequal than the United States in the distribution of
our wealth. That`s a system that Wall Street created, that Wall Street
maintains, and that Wall Street enforces.
And the way that they enforce is is the third gripe. The third gripe
is Wall Street controls and dominates our political system. One party is a
wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the other caters to Wall Street
all too much. So, people got into the situation right now where they feel
that the system is completely unresponsive and they`re driven deeper and
deeper into debt and misery.
MADDOW: With a movement with that kind of message, how do you think
it ends up playing out and affecting American politics more broadly? Not
even necessarily in strict electoral terms. But how does it change the
framing of issues.
I mean, the right is trying to denounce the existence of protests at
all as mobs and social unrest. Glenn Beck today ranting about people are
going to be dragged from their homes and killed in the streets. The
kinder, softer version of that on the right is to say that the protesters
are motivated by class envy and class resentment dividing the nation.
The right is reacting to this in slightly hysterical terms. That
implies to me that people have a message that the right is worried about.
GRAYSON: Well, I think that Glenn Beck is right. It`s only a matter
of time before they do take him away -- but not the way that he means --
you know, in a straitjacket. And I think that`s how they`ll take him away.
That much is obvious.
But fundamentally, ask yourself what people want is solutions to their
problems and what is either side offering in the next election? People
don`t see solutions to their problems.
You know, as I said earlier, there`s 24 million people in this country
who can`t find full-time work. There`s 50 million people in this country
who can`t see a doctor when they`re sick. They want to know what`s being
done about this. What is going to help them in their normal ordinary lives
and they`re desperate for solutions to those problems.
The right certainly isn`t offering any. You heard Herman Cain. His
answer is: get a job.
Well, it`s not that easy. You know, if one person is out of work,
maybe that person can find a job. But if 24 million people are out of
work, that`s just not possible.
The economy has been grossly mismanaged by Wall Street and by others.
And people see that Wall Street is running our economic policy. That big
oil is determining our energy policy, and that the military industrial
conflicts is determining our foreign policy and miring us in these endless
People are just fed up.
So, what do they do? What`s left to do? What is the one thing you
can still do as a human being?
You can go someplace. You can go someplace and in this world of the
Internet, you can show yourself. And that`s what the people on "Occupy
Wall Street" are doing. They`re doing the one last human thing left.
They`re going somewhere.
MADDOW: Showing yourself and also finding each other, I think.
GRAYSON: That`s right.
MADDOW: Congressman Alan Grayson, thank you so much for being here
tonight and talking with us about it. I miss talking to you, sir. We`d
like to have you back soon if you don`t mind.
GRAYSON: It would be a pleasure, Rachel. Thank you.
All right. "Debunktion Junction" is coming up next.
MADDOW: All right. "Debunktion Junction," what`s my function?
First up, Ron Paul won the most recent supposedly highly predictive
Republican candidate straw poll at the Values Voter Summit this weekend.
Is that true? Ron Paul, famously sort of libertarian except on abortion
won the God, guns and gays social conservative Value Voters Summit straw
poll this weekend. Is that true or is that false?
True. And the reason this has to be debunked or bunked if you prefer
is because the value voters straw people are vocally unhappy about the fact
that Ron Paul won their contest. The values voters folks wanted so badly
for him not to have won their straw poll, the president of the group that
puts on the summit went on CNN this morning to make a case for why Ron
Paul`s victory, in his own straw poll should be seen as totally irrelevant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think Ron Paul is truly reflective of
where value voters stand.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: So you`re saying your own poll results
don`t mean anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no. I actually say -- you know, when you
look at statistics, statisticians will look for outliers. I think Ron
Paul, when you look at everything is outlier in this poll.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Otherwise known as first. It is true that Ron Paul won the
Values Voter Summit straw poll as much as the social conservative Value
Voters Summit people wish that he had not. It is true.
Next up, Jon Huntsman is polling at 3 percent in Iowa. The former
Utah governor Jon Huntsman who gave his big policy address today, trying to
position himself as the only Republican in the race with any foreign policy
experience at all -- which is true -- Jon Huntsman is out of his 1 percent
in every poll. Doldrums and hooray for Huntsman. Now he is now polling at
a full 3 percent in Iowa as of today. Is that true or is that false?
False. You may have been confused about this today if you saw this
tweet from the folks at Public Policy Polling. Jon Huntsman leads Gary
Johnson 3-1 for eighth place in Iowa. Then the tweet goes on, that`s
supporters, not percentages.
We called the folks at PPP just to make sure we understood this. The
full poll is due out tomorrow and they told us, yes, they did not find 3
percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus goers supporting Jon Huntsman.
They didn`t find 3 percent, they found three people total for Governor
Among likely Iowa Republican caucus goers, Jon Huntsman is not polling
at 3 percent. He is polling at three persons.
So one true, one false. And more Debunktion, I can tell, in your
That does it for us tonight, though. Now, it is time for "THE ED
SHOW." Thanks for being with us.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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