Guests: Sherrod Brown, Lawrence Lessig, Jackie Speier
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Do you believe that fluoride is a communist mind control plot, by any
chance? Has it ever occurred to you that fluoride might be the means by
which our communist overlords are controlling our tiny little drug-addled
If you believe that, you are the intellectual inheritor of the John
Birch Society, the cockamamie right-wing conspiracy theorist group that was
pretty popular in conservative circles when it was founded back in the late
1950s. John Birch Society was well-organized. It was well-funded.
It threatened to have a pretty big effect on conservative politics and
Republican politics for a while, before the Republicans realized that,
freaked out about it, and shut them out.
The John Birch Society advised their members to run campaigns like --
stop fluoride: how to defeat fluoridation in your city.
This is part of a John Birch Society bulletin from March 1960. "Call
a meeting of those interested, raise $25 or $50 or more, then buy a supply
of many kinds of tracts and pamphlets that expose the horrors of
fluoridation. Every two weeks, mail a different article by a different
writer to all of your top city officials, school board, PTA, ministers and
leaders in the city. Never stop or slow down. Keep that up for months if
This is my favorite part: "If you live in a large enough city or if
the communists have been able to beguile a sufficiently large enough,
powerful enough, and determined enough clique into supporting fluoridation,
the above formula alone may not stop them."
In the 1960s, the founder of the John Birch Society reportedly warned
that the brand new state of Alaska was part of the communist mind control
fluoridation plot. He said the whole reason we were getting a state of
Alaska was that it was being readied as a prison camp, readied as prison
camp housing -- sort of like concentration camps for people who, like the
John Birch Society, were trying to stop fluoride.
So, not only was fluoride in the water a communist mind control plot,
but the government would soon start rounding up and imprisoning in
America`s very own Siberia, think about it, start imprisoning opponents of
the dreaded communist mind control plot, fluoride regime.
It`s so awesome. It`s so perfectly late `50s, early `60s American
right-wing paranoia, right?
I mean, there`s Bolsheviks in the bathroom. Fluoride is communist.
The fluoride paranoia thing is like a time capsule. It is like a time
capsule that somebody dug up and is opening again now in the 2000-sies.
Pinellas County, Florida, which is on Florida`s west coast. It
includes the cities of St. Petersburg and Largo. The county commission
there in Pinellas County was recently taken over by a new Tea Party
Republican majority that has made it one of their top priorities to get the
communist mind control plot fluoride out of the water in Pinellas County.
So if you are one of the 700,000 people who`s on the Pinellas County
water supply, thanks to Tea Party Republican governance in Florida, solving
a problem that does not exist, welcome to your new world of, statistically
speaking, 20 percent to 40 percent more tooth decay.
By the start of next year, Pinellas County`s water supply will be
What is the problem that this Tea Party Republican government action
is designed to solve? Well, according to the anti-fluoride forces in
Pinellas County, quote, "This is all part of an agenda that`s being pushed
forth by the so-called globalists in our government, to keep the people
stupid so they don`t realize what`s going on."
According to "USA Today," Tea Party activists arguing against the
fluoride said the fluoridation program was designed to, quote, "dumb down
the residents of Pinellas County."
So that is the problem to which they are applying their local
government, which they took over. If you believe that Pinellas County`s
biggest problem was that the residents were being purposely made stupid by
fluoride in their water so they could be more easily controlled by
globalist overlords, then you must be looking forward to Pinellas County
getting way smarter all of a sudden starting in January. And probably,
overall, you must be delighted with Pinellas County`s new problem-solving
approach to government.
But if it does not seem plausible to you that that is a real problem
that needed to be solved, let me introduce you to Madison, Wisconsin --
where this week the county clerk held a mock election with volunteer voters
and volunteer election workers to figure out what the time and work impact
is going to be of the new Republican-passed laws to make it harder to vote
In the next election in Wisconsin, there`s a whole new set of rules
about ID you have to show now to vote that never had to show before, new
rules about absentee voting and early voting and voter registration --
generally making it much harder to vote. The state of Wisconsin is already
anticipating it`s going to cost them nearly $8 million 20 change rules in
order to make it harder to vote in that state.
And if Madison`s test run this week is anything to go by, it is also
not going to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: While we heard no obscenities at this practice run, we did
witness some frustration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this scenario is not going to work. I`m
going to tell you right now.
REPORTER: Many poll workers and voters used the same word to describe
RUSS BROWN, POLL WORKER: It`s a little more confusing right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everybody`s a little confused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It doesn`t seem like it`s working. But you know, why not do
But it`s not just in Wisconsin. This is happening all over the
country -- almost everywhere that Republicans took control of state
government in the last election.
When they originally made these voting changes in Wisconsin,
Republicans there presented no real evidence that there had ever been
significant voter fraud of any kind in Wisconsin, let alone voter fraud
that would be stopped by the new rules that they have now put in place.
If you are not swayed at all by the evidence, if you think that
despite evidence to the contrary, Wisconsin must somehow secretly have a
huge voter fraud problem that is worth destroying Wisconsin`s election
system and spending $8 million in order to fix, then you are probably
delighted with Wisconsin`s problem-solving approach to governance. If it
does not seem to you that that is a problem that needed to be solved, let
me introduce you to the United States House of Representatives today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R), NORTH CAROLINA: There`s nothing more
important, madam speaker, than protecting voiceless, unborn children and
their families from the travesty of abortion. Vote for life by voting in
favor of this rule and the underlying bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today in the U.S. House of Representatives, they did not vote
on the jobs bill. No time. They instead voted on yet another iteration of
the ban on federal funding for abortion that already exists.
The ban already exists. It has existed without interruption since
1976. But reiterating it, reiterating it was what the Republican-
controlled Congress did today.
To be clear, there is already an existing federal ban on the funding
of abortion services. And so, they spent all day debating and voting on
and then debating on and voting on again a bill to doubly and triply ban
something that is already banned.
Just as an aside, I will say the most amazing thing they did in
Congress today was actually the way that Democrats fought back against
this, letting the Republicans know what they thought about making this
abortion day in the house again.
The video from the floor of the House today was astonishing. We`ve
got that coming up later on in the show.
But again, what they were voting on today was a reiteration of a ban
that already exists. If you believe that America`s biggest federal problem
right now is that a single ban on federal funding of abortion is not
enough, that it needs to be doubly, triply banned, then you are probably
delighted with the House`s problem-solving approach to government.
If it does not seem plausible to you that that is a problem that
needed to be solved, let me introduce you to Republicanland, where the
problem that is being fixed at the city level is that there`s fluoride in
the water. That`s the big problem. The problem being fixed at the state
level is that elections work OK. And the big problem being fixed at the
federal level is that federal funds already aren`t being spent on abortion.
Those are the big problems that Republicans are throwing aside all
other priorities to work on.
So, in this environment, in Republicanland, what do you do if you are
a Democrat in these circumstances? Do you try to fight and win all of
these individual fights to keep fluoride in the water, to keep an election
system that works, to defeat all of the new reiterations of the existing
bans on different abortion-related things?
Democrats from President Obama on down have been actively trying to
pick a fight with Republicans on the issue of jobs. Please Republicans,
they`re saying, please Republicans, fight with us about jobs, fight with us
about the economy, disagree with us, let`s hear, it let`s hash it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even though the
American Jobs Act contains the kinds of proposals Republicans have
supported in the past, their party used Senate maneuvers to block this jobs
bill from moving forward.
I`ve got news for them. Not this time. Not with so many Americans
out of work. Not with so many families struggling to get ahead. I will
not take no for an answer, and I hope you won`t either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republicans are not choosing to engage in that fight that
President Obama and Democrats are trying to pick with them. Republicans
are working on other stuff at the moment. Fluoride`s controlling your
What do Democrats do under those circumstances?
Joining us now is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.
Senator Brown, it`s good to see you again. Thanks for being with us.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Good to be back. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, people down on Wall Street tonight. They have been there
for weeks now. But people are actually rushing there tonight because
they`re worried New York City`s going to end the Occupy Wall Street protest
overnight and early tomorrow morning. People are doing direct action in
New York and around the country in part because they are skeptical that our
political institutions like the one you work in can do anything to fix our
Do you feel like their skepticism about our political institutions
doing anything worthwhile right now is warranted skepticism?
BROWN: Well, skepticism`s warranted of course, and questioning what
we`re doing and pushing Republicans to do the right thing. But, you know,
we`ve seen this in Ohio since the first of the year. The elections last
fall were all about lost jobs.
And in Ohio, the Republicans went after collective bargaining. They
went after women`s rights. They went after voter rights.
In Washington, they`re going off Medicare. Now they`re talking about
abortion again. They`re going after Pell grants.
And the focus needs to return to jobs.
I urge people, particularly in Ohio but across the country, come to
sherrodbrown.com, sign the letter on my Web site to Republicans saying
focus on jobs. We sent the largest bipartisan jobs bill to the House with
63 votes earlier this week on China trade, on China currency.
John Boehner should pick that up and vote on it. It will pass. It
will go to the president. It clearly will result in hundreds of thousands
of jobs created because it will take away the Chinese efforts to cheat in
So, we know what to do. It`s a question of focusing on job growth.
MADDOW: The president has been doing a real full-court press on jobs
and economic issues. The tape we just played of him was something sent out
by his campaign, essentially speaking to his supporters, asking them to
help pressure Republicans and to see the fight for jobs as part of his re-
election campaign. He`s doing a lot of media, doing a lot of speeches,
doing a lot of travel.
Republicans have responded to that by, as you noted, really not
fighting that fight. They are choosing to work on other things. They are
choosing not to engage on that.
Is there a Democratic strategic response to that? I mean, do you
fight with them on the fights that they pick, or do you -- is there some
way to get them back onto jobs?
BROWN: No, I think we just continue to talk about jobs. When I go
home, people don`t talk to me about fluoridating the water. They don`t
talk to me about the John Birch Society. They don`t talk about any of this
stuff except what are you doing about creating jobs?
That means pushing the president`s jobs program. It means pushing our
bipartisan China currency bill.
There`s a paper company in John Boehner`s district, in Butler County,
Ohio, north of Cincinnati, that announced that they were likely going to
close again because of China currency and the advantage that China`s
cheating that 25 percent subsidy by and large they get when they sell into
our markets and compete unfairly.
That`s why I`m organizing all over the state and all over the country
at sherrodbrown.com saying to Republicans, the Republican leaders -- get
back on jobs, focus on jobs.
If the president keeps doing this, we`ll win this debate and the
Republicans -- not only forget about the election in 13 months, but the
Republicans might actually do something like they did on China currency.
We got 60 Republican votes on that. They might actually do something on
the jobs bill, on infrastructure, on the school renovation, the FAST Act --
all of the kinds of things that so many of us are saying and the
president`s saying we need to do to put people back to work.
MADDOW: As you -- you`re talking about those elements of the jobs act
that maybe could pass, that might come up as individual component parts --
the school reinvestment, the infrastructure investment, some of those
things. Obviously, earlier this week when the senate did vote on the
president`s jobs bill, the Republicans filibustered it.
If it does come back up in component parts or at least comes back up
repeatedly, what do you think is most likely to pass? What do you think
actually could get through the filibuster?
BROWN: Well, I think likely the school renovation and the
infrastructure, all the construction jobs will be created that way and the
manufacturing jobs that make the steel and make the cement and make the
glass for construction. But you know, I`ve got to think if the president
continues to talk about paying for this infrastructure with a 5.6 percent
surtax on people making over $1 million a year, that money will go some for
deficit reduction but most of it for fixing up our schools. The average
school in this country is 40 years old.
On highways -- we had in the `50s, `60s, `70s, and `80s -- our
infrastructure, the world had never seen the likes of the infrastructure we
built. That`s why we`ve had so many decades of post-World War II
We`ve let that decay. We`ve in too many cases let it disintegrate.
We`ve focused on that. It creates jobs today and it`s long-term prosperity
because we do the broadband and the community colleges and the highways and
the bridges and the water and the sewer systems and the ports and the dams
and the locks and all that we do that way.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio -- thanks for your
time tonight, sir. Nice to have you here.
MADDOW: All right. You know what the problem is with money and
politics? Too many rules. Cut the red tape, Washington. Let the system
breathe. No money can get in there.
Sorry, I`ve been taking a course called "how to speak Koch brothers."
Do you know that in their language they have 73 separate words for
deregulation? That`s true.
That`s not true. That`s next.
MADDOW: Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, William
"The Refrigerator" Perry, and now joining them in the pantheon of awesome
nicknames, comes the president of South Korea, aka "The Bulldozer." "Best
New Thing in the World Today" == it is not what it sounds like at all.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Bulldozer. That is coming up right at the
end of the show tonight.
MADDOW: President Obama`s re-election campaign announced today that
it raised more than 70 million bucks this summer for his re-election. What
does that mean really, that he raised that much? In absolute terms, it
means nothing. I mean, yes, that is a lot of money, but the campaign and
its money don`t do anything alone. It`s a competition, right?
And the Obama re-election campaign will be up against not just
whatever his eventual Republican opponent raises but also just pure anti-
Obama money, too.
The conservative billionaire Koch brothers entered this election
season, for example, with plans to spend $88 million against President
Obama. As of this week, we now know that their new goal is not $88 million
but $200 million or more.
Republican operative Karl Rove is in the same ballpark. Het founded
the super PAC American crossroads. Overall, his operations raised a
reported $70 million that they used against Democrats last year. He now
says they`re going for more like $240 million to use against President
Obama this next year.
Now, does that parade of numbers make your eyes glaze over?
As mom would say, that`s natural. That`s your brain helping you skip
the parts you don`t need to memorize so you can grock what`s actually wrong
here, the actual crux of the actual problem. This is not about who`s ahead
in the race to get more millions and billions.
The problem is that that`s the race. That`s how you run. That`s how
Who has that kind of huge, huge, huge money to spend on politics these
days? And why have we given these people control of our democracy? It`s
very, very few people who have that kind of huge money to spend on
politics, it turns out -- the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent
of the 1 percent.
When you get all misty-eyed about life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness, or the general welfare or Commerce Clause or due process --
nerd, do not hide it, own it. When you get all misty-eyed about American
democracy, you`re not getting teary-eyed and proud about those three
individual rich guys who have given almost all of the money Karl Rove`s
American Crossroads has taken in this year, three guys, 92 percent of the
money. The three stooges had that many guys.
And it`s not even the three guys who we know about who are the biggest
problem. No, the even bigger problem is with all the guys we do not know
about and may never know about.
You`ve heard that Karl Rove`s group is split into two parts, right?
One`s called Crossroads GPS. You can give Crossroads GPS as much money as
you want and the GPS group will keep your name a secret. They can spend
their secret anonymous money on issue ads but not on ads about candidates.
The other side of the Karl Rove group is just called American
Crossroads, no GPS. This part has to list its donors` names in some
publicly available reports. But in exchange for that disclosure, they can
spend unlimited money for and against particular named candidates. So not
just issue ads but candidate ads.
Can you tell the difference between an issue ad and a candidate ad?
Usually, you can`t really tell the difference. But that`s the split.
That`s the big noble split between the GPS side, which is a 501c4 and the
super PAC side, which is the non-GPS American Crossroads thing.
That is the grave ethical distinction that made Karl Rove start two
different multimillion-dollar groups. It is a laughable distinction --
which is why the single best way to understand it is to have a comedian
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: OK. So now I can get corporate individual
donations of unlimited amount for my C4. What can I do with that money?
Can I take this C-4 money and then donate it to my super PAC?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can.
COLBERT: Wait. Super PACs are transparent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. And --
COLBERT: And the C4 is secret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mm-hmm.
COLBERT: So I can take secret donations of my C4 and give it to my
supposedly transparent super PAC?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it will say given by your C4.
COLBERT: What is the difference between that and money laundering?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s hard to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, in this environment, where you are not allowed to work in
certain kinds of campaigns unless you say where your money comes from, one
of the places you can say your money comes from is from the anonymous
place. The fact you that say it`s from the anonymous place is all the
disclosure that you need.
And in that system, that might as well have a flashing red sign that
says "insert bribe here." In that system Karl Rove`s group would now like
a little more slack, please. American Crossroads filed a request for
federal election officials yesterday asking to be freed up to do a little
more spending with even fewer restrictions because the rules are too tight
See? Unlimited and anonymous money laundering is just too
restrictive, they say. I know, I know. It sounds like despair.
This is how we -- this is how I think of despair. It sounds like give
up time now, right? Despair is always waiting, just one unexpected surge
of gravity away.
But do not despair. Seriously. There is a solution for this. It`s
Frankly, it`s a hard solution and it requires a lot of work and
working together. But it is possible. It is a real idea, a specific idea
that could fix this problem. And it`s been put forward by a really, really
smart guy, who joins us next.
MADDOW: There are differences of opinion -- different strongly held
beliefs about how people with drinking problems can overcome alcoholism.
Some people insist they can use their own willpower and faith to stop
drinking on their own. That was former President George W. Bush`s
explanation of how he gave up alcohol after drinking heavily until his 40th
Some people insist that you can`t do it on your own, you need a
program to follow like for example a 12-step program as well as sponsors, a
support network, peers to help you out when your willpower fades.
Sometimes, alcoholics find themselves subject to interventions by
their friends and their loved ones. Even though you don`t think you have a
problem, you do have a problem, we`re confronting you about that because we
love you and you need to change.
The recurring metaphor in Lawrence Lessig`s new book about how U.S.
politics got corrupted, the recurring alcoholic metaphor in his book is
Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia. Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia,
hammered all the time -- just a hopeless drunk. Yeltsin`s drunkenness is
in fact a key part of what happened and why in 1990s Russia and what we
understand about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time in the nuclear age the Russians
actually opened up the nuclear football. They went to President Yeltsin.
They opened up the command and control launch codes, the button, put it on
the desk, and said, "We`re under attack." Fortunately, Yeltsin wasn`t
drunk, and he didn`t believe what the military was telling him. He said,
"There must be some mistake."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In Lawrence Lessig`s "Republic Lost," he uses the idea of
drunk Yeltsin, the metaphor of drunk Yeltsin to convey the seriousness of
what`s happened to our politicians, to our Congress, to our political
Money in our politics is so absolutely unconstrained now. It has so
occluded every other thing that public servants are supposed to do that our
political institutions are essentially powerless before the fund-raising
system, the campaign donation system, the money.
Like a well-meaning, lovable drunk who nevertheless is a drunk,
Congress does not have a way to cure itself at this point. How could a
Congress that`s totally run by and ruled by big corrupting campaign money
ever take action against big corrupting campaign money?
The current speaker of the House once handed out tobacco company
checks on the House floor during a vote. Is there a way for him to move to
get big money out of politics? Of course, you`re not.
Boris Yeltsin is not going to help himself stop drinking. The
metaphorical drunk Boris Yeltsin that is our money-soaked Congress needs an
intervention. They cannot solve the problem that they are.
But we can. There is a way. It`s hard, but it could work.
Joining us now for the interview, once again, is Harvard law Professor
Lawrence Lessig, whose new book "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts
Congress and a Plan to Stop It" is just out. It is that plan to stop it
that I cannot stop thinking about, and that has prompted me to ask you to
come back so soon.
Thank you for agreeing.
LAWRENCE LESSIG, AUTHOR, "REPUBLIC, LOST": Great to be here again.
MADDOW: The institution we`re supposed to use to fix stuff, our
democracy, the representative government that we have, is the thing that is
MADDOW: If Congress can`t ever be expected to fix itself, what is the
option you think that we have to fix Congress for them?
LESSIG: Well, the framers of our Constitution envisioned a time when
Congress itself would be the problem. So, the ordinary way in which they
imagined amendments to our Constitution being proposed was that the
Congress would propose it and the states would ratify it.
But if Congress is the problem they`re not going to propose the
amendments to change it. So they gave a way for states to call for a
constitutional convention. And all the convention does then is propose
amendments, which then have to be ratified in the same way that any other
amendment has to be ratified.
So, 34 states have to call for a convention. Congress calls the
convention. The convention deliberates. And then the convention proposes
-- sends the amendments to Congress. Congress sends them to the states.
And if 38 states ratify those amendments, they become part of the
Constitution. So that means 13 states, and there are easily 13 red and 13
blue states in our country, could block any amendment. So we don`t have to
worry about one side or the other running away with the game.
But there`s a way then to get Congress to focus on the kinds of issues
that Congress itself won`t focus on. It`s an intervention.
MADDOW: What do you think would work as a constitutional amendment to
make a real change -- to make enough of a change in money and politics that
the problem wouldn`t just come back?
LESSIG: Yes. I think an amendment has to have three parts. Number
one, we`ve got to have publicly funded federal elections. And there are
lots of ways to talk about it. And I talk about it in the book. I think
small dollar funded elections where the money essentially is the people`s
So when Congress is focused on the funders, the funders happen to be
the people. So there`s no gap between the two and that focuses them the
right way. That`s number one.
Number two, I think that contributions have to be capped at -- take
Buddy Roemer`s number, $100, or the equivalent. So that no contribution
greater than $100 is allowed.
But I think contributions should be encouraged. So this is where I
part ways with Dylan Ratigan a bit. I think people ought to be encouraged
to give money to politics, but not so much as to color or pollute the
And number three, Congress has got to have the power to limit
independent expenditures like the ones you were describing in the Koch
brothers, at least around the election. Limit but not ban. I don`t think
Congress should ever have the ability to say this group is not allowed in
an election year or to talk about candidates.
But we have to have a system where the system is not so dominated by
these independent expenditures that members of Congress are just dancing to
attract the right kind of independent expenditures.
Those three changes would produce a system where Congress following
the funders would be Congress following the people and we would not have a
system where most people believe that 75 percent of people believe money
buys results in Congress.
MADDOW: I have felt hopeless about the prospect of change because of
the Supreme Court. Of course, the way you get around the Supreme Court
deciding something in constitutional terms is by changing the Constitution.
I had been thinking about the only means to changing the Constitution as
being one that could start in Congress. And as you say, since Congress is
the problem, it didn`t seem like that was going to happen.
The thing that makes me feel like this is too steep a hill to climb is
that so many states have to do it. So many people have to be involved in
calling for this.
Why are you even mildly hopeful that this could happen?
LESSIG: Well, I think it`s a good thing, so many states have to do
it. I think it`s a good thing it should take a long time to do it. I
think we the people need to have a chance to talk about these issues
Now, the politics of calling a convention are actually a little
simpler than it makes it sound because the reasons that states call for a
convention don`t have to be the same. So there are many people. We had a
conference that was co-sponsored by the Tea Party at Harvard about three
weeks ago to talk about this issue.
And there are many people on the right who are trying to get a
constitutional amendment around the budget deficit, and they want a
convention to help propose that. And there are people who want a balanced
budget amendment. There are people who want all sorts of changes to our
MADDOW: Some of them cockamamie.
LESSIG: Some of them cockamamie, some of them maybe not.
But the point is they could rally together to get the convention and
then we have an opportunity in the convention over a long period of time I
think to seriously address what kind of changes the country needs.
And I think that in that process, which should take a long time, we
could move the debate forward in a way that`s not choreographed by people
whose job it is to make polarization the business model of politics.
So I think there`s a chance to get to the convention. I think the
convention itself could produce sensible proposals. And I think those
sensible proposal -- the only the sensible proposals would have a chance to
The critical thing about this, though, is that we imagine a process
where we take control of the process.
LESSIG: And that`s the critical difference between everything that
people are talking about in Washington and this.
MADDOW: Well, it`s the one place where the snake eating its tail of
American politics is starting to become totally apartisan. Not non-
partisan but apartisan -- with people resorting to direct democracy in all
sorts of ways.
We`re going to be talking about Occupy Wall Street and what`s going on
there tonight in just a moment.
Lawrence Lessig, author of "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts
Congress and a Plan to Stop It," Harvard law professor -- it is a credit to
your book that you were here a couple days ago and I couldn`t stop talking
about you. So, thank you for coming back.
LESSIG: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
As the Republican Party wages this year`s inexplicable war on the post
office of all things and its thousands and thousands of middle-class jobs,
the post office it turns out has a ferocious snarling bear of an on-air
ally in Ed Schultz. "THE ED SHOW" is right after this show tonight.
And here the blow your mind tape from Capitol Hill today as some
members of Congress fight like you can`t believe against the big abortion
standoff in the house tonight. That tape which you have not seen anywhere
is coming up next.
MADDOW: Big news tonight in the Occupy Wall Street protests that have
been happening in New York City now for nearly a month. Today, New York
City ordered the protesters to begin leaving the park they have been in,
Zuccotti Park, as of Friday morning, as of tomorrow morning.
You can come back after we clean the place, they said. You can come
back but you can`t bring sleeping bags or tarps or tents when you come
back. In short, you can`t bring anything that has made it possible for
this to be a long-term we`re staying, occupy kind of protest.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters responded by saying that they would
clean the park themselves. But that they would not leave.
Quote, "This is it. This is their attempt to shut down Occupy Wall
Street for good. For those of you who plan to help us hold our ground,
which we hope will be all of you, make sure you understand the
consequences. Be prepared for possible arrests. This is a message of
Well, tonight the folks at Occupy Wall Street got a message of
solidarity, a resounding one, from the AFL-CIO labor federation. In a mass
AFL-CIO e-mail tonight, the subject line was: "go to Wall Street, now."
Continuing, quote, "The more people who can stand in solidarity at this
critical moment, the better."
The AFL-CIO is asking its members to show up at Occupy Wall Street
beginning at midnight Eastern tonight in anticipation of this move by the
police very early tomorrow morning.
We will keep you posted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: Please, somebody tell me why we are
here considering a bill that is a direct attack on a woman`s
constitutionally protected right to choose and that does not create one
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, you might have heard recently, the American people, it
turns out, super interested in having Congress focus on creating jobs and
fixing the economy right now, which is why Congressman Alcee Hastings was
so confused, as you saw just then, about why House Republicans set up
today`s work in the Congress as being a culture war day.
These are the things Americans think should be Congress`s top
priorities right now. Even if you squint really hard at this chart,
abortion will not appear on it. But Eric Cantor, the Republican majority
leader, told the folks at the Values Voter Summit last week that he would
bring up another anti-abortion bill in the House for a vote is this week.
So, full speed ahead, jobs be damned, more abortion it is.
House Democrats, who can apparently read polls and stuff, showed up
for abortion day in the House today ready to fight. They called
Republicans out for waging a culture war today instead of working on jobs,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. GWEN MOORE (D), WISCONSIN: This bill is a misguided ideological
distraction from what should be our top priority, getting people back to
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It`s very interesting that
we`re taking this bill up now, when the American people are calling out for
jobs. Their number one priority is the creation of jobs. And once again,
we come to the floor of the House with a major distraction that ain`t going
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Instead of focusing on jobs,
Republicans are continuing to wage their war on women.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: In March, they tried to close down
the federal government over a woman`s right to go to Planned Parenthood for
health care. And today, they are trying to close down a woman`s right to
life-saving treatment in our hospitals.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Americans don`t want a war on women.
They want a war on joblessness.
REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: We`re 280 days into this Congress
without passing -- without even having a jobs plan from the majority.
Instead, the Republicans have chosen to continue their radical assault on
women`s health and health care.
HASTINGS: Republicans have yet to pass a jobs bill. Instead of
getting down to the business of creating jobs, they`re bringing to the
House floor a deeply flawed and deeply divisive bill that will not pass the
Senate and would be vetoed if it reached the president`s desk. They know
that. I know that. Everybody knows that.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: The American people are begging us
to work together, to create jobs, to bolster the economy. And instead,
we`re hearing once again to consider legislation that endangers and attacks
the right of women.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Democrats came prepared today. Lots and lots and lots of
Democratic members of Congress stood up today to deliver the same message
about the Republicans` latest anti-abortion bill, essentially saying it`s
outrageous that you keep focusing on doubly, triply, quadruply banning
abortion and attacking birth control and access to family planning and
you`re still claiming to be so focused on jobs.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California silenced the House chamber
back in February when she spoke in very personal terms against another
Republican anti-abortion bill. She talked about her own experience.
Today, Congresswoman Speier gave another stirring speech when the
Republicans went back and tried to do it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: This bill goes to the farthest
extreme in trying to take women down not just a peg but take them in
shackles to some cave somewhere. Twenty-five years ago, this body passed
EMTALA, a bill that basically said anyone that shows up at an emergency
room would access health care, no questions asked.
Now, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to amend that
law and basically say, oh, except for a woman who is in need of an abortion
or except for a woman who`s bleeding to death who happens to be pregnant or
except for a woman who is miscarrying. Basically, what this bill would do
is say that any hospital could decline to provide services to one class of
people in this country, and that one class of people are pregnant women.
Now, let me tell you something. My story is pretty well known now.
But I was pregnant. I was miscarrying. I was bleeding.
If I had to go from one hospital to the next, trying to find one
emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here
And what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are attempting
to do is misogynist. It is absolutely misogynist. The time has come for
us to stop taking up this issue over and over again this year and do
something that the American people really care about.
They want jobs. They want to be able to hold on to their homes. They
want some mortgage relief.
And what do we do? We stand here on the floor and create yet another
opportunity for women to be cast in shackles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us know is Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California.
Congresswoman Speier, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I
SPEIER: My pleasure.
MADDOW: What do you think is behind the repeated federal anti-
abortion bills over and over and over again in the House you that referred
to in that speech? Is this really just a top priority for the Republican
SPEIER: I think it`s a top priority for the Republican majority in
that they have done it already seven times this year on the House floor.
It is a way of steering up the base, and I think a way of generating
Call me cynical, but this particular bill on the House floor today it
was over-the-top, across the line. It basically was saying to pregnant
women who are miscarrying, and pregnant women in this country, 31 million
miscarriages a year, anywhere from 6 million to 9 million women who need a
procedure because they are miscarrying.
And women that show up at an emergency room are not getting elective
abortions. They are coming to the emergency room because they are
hemorrhaging, because they have an infection. And in those situations, we
are talk anything where from 600,000 to 900,000 women in this country every
year showing up in emergency rooms in that condition.
And my Republican colleagues are saying, you know, that emergency room
can decline to offer services to that woman.
MADDOW: The bill today went through the long period of debate that it
went through, first on the rule under which it would be voted on and then
ultimately when it was voted on, the House Republican majority did pass it.
Nobody expect it is to pass the Senate and the president today has said
explicitly that he would veto this measure.
How important do you think it is? What do you make of the president`s
decision to issue a formal written veto threat saying -- even before it was
voted on saying if this gets to my desk, there`s no chance it will become
SPEIER: I think it is called leadership. I think he is sending a
very clear message that he is sick and tired, as all of us are of the
charade that is being played out here. We have 20 more legislative days in
this session and we have yet to take up a jobs bill. We have yet to
provide relief to Americans who are under water in their home mortgages.
It is time for us to show the American people that we are here
representing them. Not some ideologue in some fringe area in this country.
MADDOW: Your speech today, which we just played a chunk of, I imagine
even though you know they are your words, you can tell that they are
striking when people hear them -- and you have spoke about this in striking
ways that get attention in part, because you have put yourself out there so
personally. To see so many Democrats today speaking not just in personal
terms -- in personal terms, but also with such aggression about the
Republicans focusing on anti-abortion bills instead of jobs, I wonder if
you feel like it does anything, if you feel like it changes anything, if
it`s going to have any effect.
SPEIER: Well, it is pretty depressing, I`ll say that, Rachel. But
this wasn`t about abortion. This was about women who are pregnant trying
to get emergency services when they are in distress and to then twist it
into an abortion debate, once again, was really just the antics that were
being played out by colleagues on the Republican side and I think, frankly,
many of those Republicans didn`t even know what they were voting on,
because why would you want to deny emergency services to a pregnant woman
who wants that baby but who is hemorrhaging to death? Why would you want
to deny them health care?
MADDOW: In terms of the jobs issue and the economics issue,
Congressman Cantor, the majority leader in the House, has said he is open
to voting on pieces of the jobs bill. I spoke with Senator Sherrod Brown
of Ohio earlier tonight about what he thought might be able pass, piecemeal
or otherwise. He suggested maybe investment specifically in schools --
about infrastructure investment in schools and some of the other
infrastructure investment might conceivably become law.
Do you agree with him? Is there anything else that you think might
actually make it?
SPEIER: Well, I do think that we can do a huge infrastructure bill,
fix these bridges that are really not just in disarray but safety hazards.
The roadways, the schools -- there`s a lot of job-related work right there.
We could also do mortgage relief for Americans. I mean, most of these
Americans who have mortgages that they are struggling with are paying 6
percent interest rate when right now it`s a 4 percent interest rate. If we
just drop it had to 4 percent, they would have $800 more in their pockets
Now, what`s wrong with that? No cost to the federal government at
MADDOW: Democratic congresswoman of California, Jackie Speier -- I
appreciate your time tonight. I know it has been a long and intense day.
Thank you, ma`am.
We`ve got the "Best New Thing in the World" -- and sorely needed, and
coming up next.
MADDOW: First thing to know about tonight`s "Best New Thing in the
World" is this -- state dinner is to regular dinner what an Airbus A-380 is
to a paper airplane. State dinner is to regular dinner what this
intersection in Shanghai is to a long, straight shot down a long, straight
State dinners are over-the-top. State dinners are ornate and very
fancy and a big hairy deal and they are very rare. The Obama presidency
has been host to just four of them. Tonight will be Mr. Obama`s fifth. It
honors the visiting president of South Korea, the Republic of Korea, we
call it South Korea.
Two important thing to know about the name of the visiting South
Korean president. First this is what his name looks like in the Latin
Do we have that? Rather than just the picture of him? No, we don`t.
But of all the three of his names, the one you think would be most --
it would be easiest to pronounce for English-speaking Americans is actually
the most misleading. The Korean language is written in large part, using
Chinese characters. And if the president were Chinese, you would pronounce
his first name Lee.
MADDOW: And quite frankly that is how most people in the west
pronounce it as well, regardless of the country of origin.
But in that same Chinese character in Korea, if you are actually
Korean, it is not pronounced Lee it is pronounced ee (ph).
MADDOW: So, the name of the South Korean president is --
VOICE: Lee Myung-bak.
MADDOW: Lee Myung-bak, even though it doesn`t look like that.
This is the first important thing to know about the South Korean
president`s name. It is not what you think it is.
The second important thing to know is the "Best New Thing in the World
Today." The South Korean president`s nickname is "The Bulldozer." "The
Bulldozer," which is awesome sounding, the sort of nickname if earn an
American that would indicate he runs roughshod over people, doesn`t take no
for an answer always gets his way, knocks down opponents no matter.
"The Bulldozer," like former Republican majority leader Tom Delay who
earned his nickname "The Hammer" when he was imagine juror whip and
endorsed discipline with the tenacity of a honey badger.
But it is not what they mean by "The Bulldozer" in South Korea. They
are way more literal about it. The South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
got the nickname "The Bulldozer" earlier in his career because he took
apart a bulldozer to learn how it was made and then put it back together
again -- which is so spectacularly unexpectedly geeky, it is the "Best New
Thing in the World Today."
Now, it`s time for "THE ED SHOW." Have a good night.
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