'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
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Guests: Wayne Slater, Eric Schneiderman, Glenn Greenwald
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Not all true. But thank you, Ed. I love having
you at 8:00 and Lawrence at 10:00. This is a lot of fun, man. Thanks.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour.
Listen -- Rick Perry, I don`t mean to be blunt about this or anything,
but Rick Perry is tanking as a presidential candidate. Honestly, I really
thought Rick Perry would be better than this. But he`s been bad at the
debates. He does not seem to be good as talking about his record as Texas
governor and he seems to have the likability factor of a small, sharp rock
that you know is in your shoe, it`s killing you every time you take a step,
but you just can`t find it to get it out of there.
In the latest national CBS/"New York Times" poll, Governor Perry has
fallen off a cliff. Herman Cain is in the national lead followed pretty
closely by Mitt Romney. Rick Perry is down at fifth.
Soon after Rick Perry got into the race, he was winning that same poll
with 23 percent of the vote in mid-September. By mid-October that was down
to 12 percent of the vote. Now, he is down to 6 percent of the vote.
Rick Perry is tanking as a candidate. And so, time for a Rick Perry
comeback, probably. At least that seems to be the idea.
Rick Perry, this week, unveiling a "kitchen sink" strategy of trying
everything all at once. Since Mitt Romney has been doing well by being the
establishment candidate, tanking Rick Perry went and got himself some
establishment Republicans to be his new staffers.
There are frankly not that be many establishment Republican staffers
out there and still available at this point. But there was one guy left
over from the first George W. Bush run who was still available and still
willing to talk to Rick Perry. So, Perry snatched him up.
Then, other than that, Perry picked himself up old Bob Dole staffers
from when Bob Dole -- remember him -- from when he ran 15 years ago.
So, tanking Rick Perry has got himself some old school Republican
staff help this week. Also, there`s that Herman Cain who seems to be doing
well with his 9-9-9 version of a flat tax.
So, tanking Rick Perry has come up with his own version of a flat tax
that accomplishes the same goal of huge tax cuts for rich people and big
tax hikes for everyone else.
So, tanking Rick Perry has all of a sudden this week got himself some
old school establishment Republican staff like Mitt Romney has and he`s got
himself a flat tax sort of like Herman Cain has.
But when time is short and you are really tanking and you are really
desperate, a kitchen sink strategy really does mean trying everything all
at once. And so, from the flash in the pan candidacy of Donald Trump, the
reality TV person, tanking Rick Perry is also now going with questioning
the president`s birth certificate. Seriously. Raising the birth
certificate issue in "Parade" magazine this weekend and then doubling down
on the birth certificate thing in an interview with John Harwood at CNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Mitt Romney, after the president released his
birth certificate earlier this year, said that issue`s done and settled. I
You chose to keep it alive in your interview with "Parade" magazine
over the weekend. Why did you do that?
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a good issue to
keep alive. Just, you know, Donald`s got to have some fun, so --
HARWOOD: But are you saying that your comments about that are kind of
a joke? Or do you seriously have an unresolved question like Donald Trump
has about this?
PERRY: I don`t have a clue about where the president and what this
birth certificate says. But it`s also a great distraction. I`m not
distracted by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m not distracted by it but rather stoking it for all it`s
worth. What is it worth at this point anyway? A few votes maybe?
Dredging up the birther conspiracy again is not a distraction for tanking
This is not an inadvertent eddy into which he`s accidentally gotten
himself stuck while he was really trying to get people to pay attention to
his tax plan. This whole birth certificate thing he`s doing now is on
purpose. This is the filthy little drain hole in his kitchen sink
strategy, this conspiracy theory about whether or not President Obama is
Governor Perry today announced that he, he, Governor Perry, will show
his birth certificate in order to keep alive the fervent guttural fantasies
of the baked on crust of the Republican base that President Obama is
secretly not really the president at all, that he`s secretly from a foreign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Somebody want to see my birth certificate, I`d be happy to
show it to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As he tanks in the polls, Texas Governor Rick Perry says he
for one will happily release his birth. Everybody understands that when
you are tanking as badly as Rick Perry is tanking, when you are Rick Perry
and have never lost an election and you are losing this one this badly, you
have got to try everything at once. You have got to try a kitchen sink
strategy. And everybody knows that every kitchen sink does have a filthy
little drain hole in it, a filthy little drain hole personified by Donald
Trump this year and Rick Perry climbed into that hole with him.
The reason there`s even room for Rick Perry to try to make a comeback
in the case is the same reason there was room for him to get into the race
in the first place -- overwhelming Republican dissatisfaction, overwhelming
dissatisfaction among Republican base voters with this guy, with Mitt
Mitt Romney has maintained his sort of frontrunner status. He appears
to have hit a ceiling in terms of support for him among Republicans. When
polling on this Republican presidential field started about a year ago,
Mitt Romney sat at about 23 percent support. Now, a year later, Mitt
Romney sits at about 23 percent support.
Mitt Romney is Mr. 23 percent. He cannot seem to get above that no
matter how many other candidates rise and fall around him.
Among the things holding Mitt Romney back as a candidate, if you
listen to what Republican voters say about him, is the perception of Mitt
Romney -- it`s frankly well-earned perception of him -- of having a
substance problem. Not having a substance abuse problem, but having the
problem that he does not seem to have substance. He seems unsubstantial.
He seems willing to take any position on any issue.
Particularly on things that are supposed to reflect core values, core
moral beliefs, Mitt Romney seems to say whatever he thinks his audience
might like to hear that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that abortion
should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe V. Wade
has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. And
I sustain and support that law and the right of the woman to make that
It`s long past time for the Supreme Court to return the issue of
abortion back to the states by overturning Roe V. Wade.
Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush. I`m not
trying to return to Reagan/Bush.
Well, you can learn some lessons from Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan rallied America with peace through strength.
I`ll actually establish something I`m going to call the Reagan
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: When he ran for Senate, he was for abortion rights. Now,
he`s against abortion rights when he ran for Senate. He distanced himself
from Ronald Reagan. Now, he is an acolyte of St. Ronald.
In that same other Romney era back in 1996, Mitt Romney also derided
the idea of a flat tax as a, quote, "tax cut for fat cats." Mitt Romney
was anti-flat tax in the 1990s. Now, Mitt Romney says and, I quote, "I
love a flat tax."
This is not a bad habit Mitt Romney left behind from an earlier stage
in his career. It`s not just him disavowing positions that he took back in
the roaring `90s.
Mitt Romney is also now disavowing positions that he took in June of
this year. In June of this year, Mitt Romney came out in full support of
the Republican union-stripping effort in Ohio. Republicans there passed an
anti-union bill called SB-5. And Mitt Romney endorsed it.
He said, quote, "My friends in Ohio are fighting to defend crucial
reforms that the state has put in place to limit the power of union bosses.
I stand with John Kasich and Ohio`s leaders."
Mitt Romney came out for the union stripping thing in Ohio. Since
then, the union-stripping thing has proven to be incredibly, incredibly
unpopular among the people of Ohio. A new poll out today shows Iowa
residents, excuse me -- Ohio residents by a 25-point margin want to repeal
the union-stripping thing when it is on the ballot next month. Fifty-seven
percent of registered voters in Ohio say they are against the union-
stripping thing, 32 percent are for it. That is a 25 percent margin
With the unpopularity of that new union-stripping law looming, Mitt
Romney went to Ohio today having endorsed John Kasich and the union-
stripping thing, having scheduled a campaign stop to go buck up and
encourage and give a pep talk to the people making phone calls to defend
that union stripping thing. But when Mitt Romney actually got to Ohio, he
decided not to take a position on the union stripping thing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m not -- I`m not speaking about the particular ballot
issues. Those are up to the people of Ohio, but I certainly support the
effort of the government to rein in the scale of the government. So I`m
not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m not terribly familiar with the things I endorsed two
months ago that is now wildly unpopular.
Before the last few weeks the worry about Mitt Romney`s candidacy was
pretty clear. Social conservatives are going to have a problem with him
because he`s flip-flopped a lot on social conservative issues. But the
Beltway wisdom was that was not going to an insurmountable problem for
Romney this year because this year`s election is not about the economy, not
about social issues.
And on the economy, Mitt Romney was supposed to be rock solid. Except
now, Mitt Romney is showing he`s got that same famous Mitt Romney gummy
worm spine on economic issues the same way he does on social issues -- just
telling people what they want to hear in the moment, forgetting what are
supposed to be his core beliefs on issues like this year`s Republican fad
flat tax and busting unions.
Whatever you think of those issues substantively, this is the reason
why Mitt Romney`s polling has looked like this for a year and why every
other Republican candidate is not only banking on Mitt Romney`s polling
never going like this, but it probably eventually going like this.
So, yes, Rick Perry may be tanking badly, and yes, Herman Cain may be
unbelievable as a candidate, but days like today are why we know there will
be a non-Romney candidate resurgence. Days like this also remind us of the
fundamentals of why Mitt Romney is such a bad candidate for Republicans.
And sadly, days like this also tell us what that non-Romney candidate
resurgence is likely to look like. Hi, Orly. Hi, Rick.
Joining us now is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the
"Dallas Morning News."
Wayne, thanks for your time tonight. Nice to see you.
WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you, again,
MADDOW: From what you have seen on the campaign trail of how Mitt
Romney is approaching -- trying to win the nomination, how do you explain
the about-face/face plant on the union issue in Ohio? Denying his own
position on the issue at a phone bank in Ohio that was organized around
SLATER: Yes. I mean, it seems like that would have been a slam dunk
Republican primary, somebody who`s had union issue, you vote against it,
you`ve been against it, you say today you`re against it. He didn`t.
The only way I think to understand this is to understand that Mitt
Romney is not running in the Republican primary. He is actually thinks
that he is running in the general election. And that realizing how
unpopular this Senate Bill 5 is on the ballot, that he doesn`t want to hurt
his opportunities with independent voters, including some moderate
Republican votes who must be among the constituencies who are going to vote
The problem for Romney is not only that he flip-flop on this issue,
which is a big problem, it is that he`s running in the wrong election I
think because Rick Perry and others are running in the primary where
they`re trying to gather the farthest right wing of the party around them
and the issues that will congeal them around his candidacy, while Mitt
Romney just sits there at 23 percent to 24 percent to 25 percent.
MADDOW: Wayne, part of the reason that I have thought that Rick Perry
would be a stronger candidate, and why I still expect a comeback from him
at some point, is because of reporting out of Texas, including your
reporting out of Texas, about how Rick Perry has never lost an election,
how he shouldn`t be underestimated in any political contest.
What do you think is going on with him embracing the birth certificate
thing of all things? Why has he brought that back when everybody thought
it was dead?
SLATER: It looks crazy. And I talked to people here in Austin, some
of whom say why is he doing this? He`s stepping on his jobs message.
He knows exactly what he`s doing in this regard. He`s trying to have
it both ways. He`s both suggesting as he did with the interview with John
Harwood this morning that it`s kind of a joke and he`s kind of kidding
around at the same time. He will continue to not say whether he believes
the president was born in the country.
What that allows him to do is both appeal to the, as I say, the
marginalia of the radical Republican right, the birthers, the Birchers, the
secessionists, the militias, the folks who actually believe that Barack
Obama was born in Africa. But also -- that`s only about 14 percent now in
the polls -- but also appeal to other Republicans who like his style.
Again, these are not Romney voters. These are Republican voters who
may be with Herman Cain right now or Michele Bachmann, still with her.
They like it that Perry -- at least Perry people hope they do -- they like
it that Perry is not afraid of Obama. That he`s going to poke Obama. That
he`s the guy that will go after Obama.
And that really is a more fundamental message in this birther -- this
birther kind of clown show, frankly.
MADDOW: In terms of what you have seen from him in previous
campaigns, "Politico" is reporting that Texas Republicans are slow even to
endorse Perry this time around. Of course, he is way down at 6 percent.
Have you ever seen Perry this far behind in a race with so little
support from his party? Is there any way to know how he will react?
SLATER: No. He finished 39 percent in the election six, eight years
ago. But I have never really seen him that far behind. The only time I`ve
seen him really an underdog in a statewide election was 1990 against Jim
Hightower, very popular Republican. Next thing he with Karl Rove`s help on
Rick Perry`s side, you had Karl Rove leaking to newspapers, including our
own, information and testimony from a secret grand jury investigating the
Agriculture Department, raising questions about corruption.
Stories in the newspaper. Hightower was playing defense and
ultimately Rick Perry won that race.
2002, Rick Perry went against a Democrat, Tony Sanchez, a banker, a
billionaire banker from Laredo and the attack, a rather scathing attack at
the close of the campaign on television suggested the Democratic opponent
was involved in some way in the death of drug merchants and drug dealers,
also was laundering drug money across the Texas border. None of this was
true, but Perry has shown an ability with the folks around him to go after
an opponent hammer and tong.
So, even though he is behind, if I`m Mitt Romney, just like Kay Bailey
Hutchison, one year ago here, I wouldn`t let my guard down. He is a
MADDOW: Terrific in the sense of willing to do anything even if the
stuff isn`t true. Wayne Slater --
MADDOW: -- senior political writer for "The Dallas Morning News" --
you`re living history of Rick Perry as a politician gets more and more
valuable every day, Wayne. Thank you.
SLATER: Thank you.
MADDOEW: All right. Have you seen this today? You have definitely
seen this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need you to get involved because together we
could do this. We can take this country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Of course, you`ve seen this today, right? Republicans are
great at creating buzz-worthy if inexplicable political ads. Democrats --
oh, Democrats, Democrats, Democrats. Well, Democrats generally have not
been as good as Republicans at campaign ads that are buzz worthy recently.
Democrats kind of sort of finally got a really good one together,
something pretty effective about something really important, from
Democrats. Seriously. Coming up.
MADDOW: Imagine the biggest, scariest pile of lethal technology in
the history of man kind -- the biggest bomb in the whole wide world ever in
history. Now imagine dismantling it piece by delicate piece. That is
coming up on the show tonight. It`s not even a metaphor. It really is
just the giantest freaking bomb in the whole world. It`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I`ve seen a lot of weird campaign ads.
This one ranks up there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Cain releases a new ad that features his
chief of staff smoking a cigarette.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an ad on Cain`s official YouTube page that`s
causing a bit of a stir.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: This online campaign ad for Herman Cain is
BLITZER: This is an official Herman Cain campaign ad.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Lots of politics chatter today about Herman Cain`s suddenly
viral super weird web video ad-ish thing. The one starring his chief of
staff, the head of Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity in
Wisconsin, talking about Mr. Cain apparently during a smoke break.
Whether you think this is super weird on purpose or not, this super
weird thing, the inexplicable smoke break ad, is having the desired effect,
in the sense that everybody is talking about it in Mr. Cain`s candidacy
because of it. And that kind of thing usually doesn`t happen with
Nobody really ever talks about Democratic ads. Not recently at least
because generally speaking, Democratic ads are not that good. I`m sorry.
Be mad at me.
My e-mail is rachel@MSNBC.com. Send me hate mail. I read it. I love
But it`s true. Democratic ads right now, for whatever reason, they
try but they tend to look like this one. I mean, there is a funny visual
metaphor here going on, but the metaphor is also very confusing.
The idea is that there is an elderly man who is maybe a firefighter or
maybe he is dressed up like a firefighter. He is dancing for women who do
not want him to be dancing for them. This is supposed to be an ad about
So, yes, there`s that. Or there`s this one which attempts to call
Mitt Romney out on a pretty simple straightforward Mitt Romney-style flip-
flop. One time, Mitt Romney said Barack Obama had made the recession
worse. Then he denied he said that. So, in that instance, your job,
Democrats, is pretty simple -- just point out the flip-flop.
But Democrats can`t let it be simple. They go on and on and on with
lots of long sound bites until you forgotten what it that Mitt Romney was
even supposed to be flip-flopping on and essentially produced a really long
ad -- a long, long ad of long Mitt Romney sound bites of him talking smack
about the president and put a Democratic label on it. Ta-da!
There`s also this one, an ad about Mitt Romney having a meeting with
Donald Trump which is a great negative ad opportunity. The Democrats
managed to put the photos up over playful music then end with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: If I -- if I -- if I --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the punch line.
But you know what? The Democrats have, despite that recent track
record, actually just made a good ad, on a good issue.
Check it out. Here`s this anti-Romney ad from the DNC on an issue
that`s hard to get into in a 30-second ad, the housing crisis. But they
did it and they did it well. This totally works.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Almost half of Arizona homeowners under water.
Foreclosures everywhere. And what`s Mitt Romney`s plan?
MITT: Don`t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its
course and hit the bottom.
NARRATOR: Let Arizonans hit the bottom?
ROMNEY: Don`t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its
course and hit the bottom.
NARRATOR: Mitt Romney`s message to Arizona: you`re on your own.
ROMENY: Let hit the bottom.
NARRATOR: The Democratic National Committee is responsible for the
content of this ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They did it. That made sense. And it was 30 seconds. And
that ad has the added bonus of not only being true and well done for once
but it is an issue on which the Democrats are actually doing something
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t wait for an
increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won`t act, I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama in Las Vegas yesterday announcing a rules
change at the federal level essentially to help allow people, allow more
people to refinance their mortgages, to make them more affordable. A
change he will make even without cooperation from Congress.
But some way, way, way more aggressive action on mortgages, and
specifically on holding Wall Street accountable for using mortgages to blow
up our economy, is happening not at the federal level but at the state
level where New York state`s progressive attorney general has thrown a
wrench in the works of a planned settlement with big banks over their worst
practices that led to the financial meltdown. Instead, pushing forward
with a wide-ranging investigation into the big questions here, like what
the banks did, what they knew, when they knew it and how criminally liable
they might be for their actions.
Joining us now is attorney general for the great state of New York,
Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here. I know you don`t do a
lot of interviews about this.
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK: I`m glad to be here,
MADDOW: The big picture issue of housing and the continuing
reverberations of the fiscal crash of 2008, are the biggest economic issues
facing the country. They`re also very obtuse partisan politics around
Do you think that Democrats have done well in responding to the
mortgage crisis and misbehavior of the banks?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, I think we`ve done some things. I think the
president`s move this week was a good step. I`m a prosecutor and I took
office in January, and Beau Biden, who`s the attorney general of Delaware,
and I, thought we really needed to dig in a little bit deeper. And we were
doing an investigation into what caused the bubble and the crash in the
And it`s really not all that obtuse. I mean, there are a lot of folks
who are trying to rewrite history and paint it like it was a volcano or an
earthquake and that now we can move on to the problem of paying too much to
cops and teachers and firefighters.
This was a manmade crisis. It was created by regulatory neglect and
greed. I assure you, without telling you about secrets of our
investigation, we have not found a trace of evidence that a cop,
firefighter, teacher, or sanitation worker contributed to blowing up the
So, we`re digging in and think we can do more. We think we`re going
to be able to obtain real meaningful relief. There are 11 million whose
homes are underwater not just in Arizona but all across the country. We
think we have to hold accountable to people who caused this disaster.
And just as important, as I say, we got to get this out in the open so
they can`t rewrite history. I mean, Mr. Romney`s comments, we should just
let things hit bottom -- this is the same sort of deregulatory mania that
they were dishing out in 2005 and 2006. That didn`t work so well for the
MADDOW: Did this catastrophe happen because -- as far as what you
have been able to determine so far, because deregulation proceeded to a
part -- to a point where banks could act legally in a way that was
nevertheless, dramatically, fiscally irresponsible or are we looking at a
case of potential illegal behavior -- behavior that was against the law
despite the fact that they had been so deregulated?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, that`s why you have an investigation. There may
well have been a combination of the two. There`s no question that they
dismantled a lot of the safety mechanisms that have protected our markets
for a long time. But, you know, we`re also looking at the conduct of
individual institutions and individuals to see if there were
misrepresentations made, to see if there was fraud committed, to see if
criminal acts were also a part of this.
And that`s what Beau and I are looking at and we`re determined to
follow it through until we get the relief the homeowners need and hold
accountable the people who caused this.
MADDOW: That issue of holding people accountable is a guttural
instinct in American politics now because we know the fiscal crisis was a
manmade crisis. We know that this was something that people did the wrong
thing and thereby hurt the entire country. And the country is still paying
but nobody paid for what they did. That is -- that`s just a base raw
feeling that`s driving "Occupy Wall Street" protests right now -- but I
think it`s also driving a lot of anger in the country, left, right and
You and Beau Biden have jurisdictional opportunities here because of
where institutions are incorporated that had a lot to do with these
problems. Is there more that could be done at the federal level right now,
starting now in 2011 that hasn`t been done? Are there demands that should
be made both of the administration and the Congress in terms of ways they
can hold Wall Street accountable?
SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, it`s challenging for the president because the
Republicans in Congress have essentially openly declared they`ll do things
that they know hurt the American people just to prevent him from getting a
win. But as you say, we do have jurisdiction, because the mortgage-backed
securities that brought down the country were all issued out of New York
trust or Delaware trust. We`re pursuing it.
And you`re absolutely right. A lot of folks look at "Occupy Wall
Street" and the other occupations and think they`re fringe characters. I
hear the same sense that we don`t have one set of rules for everyone
anymore, that people are not held accountable for misconduct.
From every average American you run into, anywhere else, in a
community hall meeting, in a diner, all over New York state, I`m sure all
over America -- there is a sense that equal justice under law is no longer
the rule for this country. And we got to get that back.
I mean, as much as the economic damage is terrible, for Americans to
lose the sense that this is a country where law governs and you`re not
above the law and you`re not below the law -- I mean, you know, the law
applies to everyone.
The sense of accountability is one of the key motivators for our
investigation and there are other A.G.s who are coming our way. I think
there are actually going to be quite a few investigations before this is
MADDOW: As New York state`s attorney general, am I right that your
office is quite near the Lower Manhattan "Occupy Wall Street" encampment?
SCHNEIDERMAN: It is, right across the park.
MADDOW: When you -- when you look -- from what I hear you saying
right now, my sense is when you look at the folks out there protesting
every day, you have some sympathy for what they`re doing?
SCHNEIDERMAN: I, you know, I see them as part of a -- they`re the tip
of a much bigger iceberg. I spend a lot time traveling around the state.
I have 13 regional offices.
And I assure you that if anyone who thinks the American people have
gotten over their anger at the bubble and the crash, over their sense of
betrayal that the fundamental American idea of equal justice under law has,
you know, really been let go by the wayside -- they`re wrong. People are
People want -- not because they`re hostile or vicious, they just want
to know there`s one set of rules for everyone. I don`t hear that much
different in most of the "Occupy Wall Street" folks from what I hear
everywhere else in the state as I travel around.
MADDOW: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman -- thank
you for taking the time to talk to us tonight. Again, I know you don`t do
this often. I really appreciate it.
SCHNEIDERMAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: And I would just say that in terms of looking at
accountability issues and Wall Street and where "Occupy Wall Street" goes
and that feeling in the country -- keep an eye on New York state Attorney
General Eric Schneiderman and also Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
Set Google alert on these guys. Just watch what they do. That`s all I`m
Glenn Greenwald joins us next.
MADDOW: It was a giant earthquake that spawned a giant tsunami that
knocked out electricity, melted down reactors, that caused a near
apocalyptic nuclear crisis. It was this past March in Japan.
And the earthquake that begat the tidal wave that begat the meltdown,
also begat between 5 million and 20 million tons of trash, debris that
washed into the Pacific Ocean. Japan, of course, is on the west side of
the Pacific Ocean. We`re on the Pacific Ocean`s east side.
The people keeping track of this floating mass of trash stew now said
they have a pretty good idea of when it will float over the Pacific Ocean
to the United States. According to new forecasts from researchers at
University of Hawaii, these 20 tons of debris will hit Hawaiian shores
sometime in the winter of spring of 2013. The trash will then proceed
further east and slosh over to the Pacific Northwest, hitting the coast of
Washington and Oregon around the start of 2014.
Now, the massive release of radioactivity from the melted down
reactors at Fukushima, that took place in a slow-motion disaster after the
quake and tsunami washed that debris into the ocean. So, there`s not that
much of a worry that a giant field of floating Japanese tsunami is
radioactive. A Russian ship passed by the debris last month and found no
abnormal levels of radiation in the trash.
Our own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, my beloved
NOAA agrees that whatever risk the giant 20 million-ton slick of floating
trash poses, it is not a radioactive risk.
So, yes, giant trash problem in the sea, yes. However, not a
radioactive giant trash problem. So, that`s your first instance of good
nuclear news today -- only the first.
We have more happy news about radioactivity ahead. Seriously.
MADDOW: When Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996, that made him the
first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to be re-elected to a
second term. That said, Republicans do not have that great a presidential
track record either. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were the only two to
serve two terms since Ike.
Richard Nixon was a Republican and he did get elected twice. But
Nixon, of course, had to quit during his second term because he was a
crook. Richard Nixon`s first vice president, Spiro Agnew, also turned out
to be a crook. So, when he had to resign even before Nixon did, Nixon
appointed a new vice president named Gerald Ford. That was an appointment,
not an election.
So when Nixon then had to quit, too, this man who was never elected
president and who was never elected vice president, a man who had been
appointed to that position and then only got to the Oval Office because the
two crooks ahead of him in line got caught and had to quit, Gerald Ford
inexplicably became president of the United States. And then less than one
month after taking office in the rather gangster sort of way, Gerald Ford
said that Richard Nixon -- according to him -- was off the hook, scot-free.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD R. FORD, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I deeply believe in equal
justice for all Americans, whatever their station or former station. The
law, whether human or divine, is no respecter of persons but the law is a
respecter of reality.
Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, president of the United States, do
grant a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses
against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may
have committed or taken part in.
(END VDIEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And so, Richard Nixon had to quit the presidency, but he
never otherwise had to play what he did. The nation turfed the guy who
pardoned Nixon out of office the first chance they had to vote on him on
him in 1976.
But over time, Gerald Ford`s decision to retroactively excuse
everything Nixon did for the sake of the nation and moving on and not
looking back, that became a lauded decision, a patriotic move, for the
reasons that Ford argued when he let Nixon off the hook. That the country
would be better off not deal with this anymore, that we needed our long
national nightmare of finding out what a crook our president was to be
In his new book, constitutional Lawyer and principle provocateur Glenn
Greenwald argues that the American public was right the first time when we
reacted to the pardoning of Richard Nixon with revulsion and anger. But
the precedent of that pardon, of important people getting away with crimes
because it is disruptive and upsetting to our institutions, if they don`t
get away with it, Glenn argued that that precedent set us up for four
straight decades, lousy with important people being allowed to commit
crimes simply because they`re important people.
And that has led us to this moment, where an America that has long
been divided between rich and poor, where the 1 percent have long outpaced
the rest of the country economically, that has led to a country where the
99 percent are starting to look at the 1 percent and starting to look at
the political elites not just as lucky, not just as elite, but as
beneficiaries of a system that is not fair. And that hasn`t been fair for
a long time now.
Joining us now is my friend Glenn Greenwald, he is a contributing
writer at "Salon." And his latest book, "With Liberty And Justice For
Some" is out today. And I cant tell you, I liked it so much I blurbed it
on the back. And I don`t go around blurbing willy-nilly.
Glenn, congratulations on this.
GLENN GREENWALD, AUTHOR, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR SOME": Thank
you very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: What is the -- you highlighted the pardon of Nixon as an
important sort of political inflection point in modern American politics.
What of that rationale do you still see surviving in American politics?
GREENWALD: Look at the last decade of -- when you see enormous
numbers of crimes being committed, egregious crimes by the most powerful
people in the society -- the creation of a worldwide torture regimes,
spying on American citizens without the warrants required by criminal law
and aggressive attack on Iraq, various aspects of obstruction of Department
of Justice, the destruction of evidence, the courts and the 9/11 Commission
ordered to be preserved.
And the private sector, you see massive fraud precipitating the
financial crisis, mortgage fraud on a systemic level, telecoms
participating in the illegal spying -- none of those, they are not bad
policy decisions. They are not immoral acts. Those are crimes. None of
them have led to meaningful criminal investigations, yet alone criminal
prosecutions or accountability.
And the reason is because we know are a country that explicitly argues
that political elites and financial elites, private sector elites, should
be immunized from the rule of law because all the things you pointed out
were argued by Gerald Ford to justify the pardon of Richard Nixon. It
created this precedent and this mindset that is now seeped into the private
sector as well that the rule of law is only for what "Occupy Wall Street"
calls the 99 percent.
MADDOW: And that is an important -- that last transition point, that
it became not just something -- not just an unpleasantness to be avoided,
but it became an active political good to insulate elites from
accountability for the good of the institutions that they represent, for
the good of the nation`s stability, that justified all of the pardons of
the Reagan administration officials after Iran Contra. It`s what you say -
- you name a chapter, "Too Big to Jail" as opposed to "too big to fail,"
coming after our discussion with Eric Schneiderman, New York`s attorney
general who does not believe in too big to jail.
How did it become an active political good to excuse wrongdoing rather
than just bad to be avoided?
GREENWALD: Well, keep in mind, there`s a big split on this question
between media and political elites on the one hand and ordinary Americans
on the other. So, as you pointed out, the pardon of Richard Nixon was
something that triggered revulsion among the American population. You even
listen to it now and you recoil at the idea that this criminal, this
clearly fragrantly criminal individual, Richard Nixon, was simply protected
by virtue of a status, at the same time that hundreds of thousands of
Americans were being prosecuted for trivial offenses.
And so, what you see is that there`s an elite class that supported
that pardon and it continues to say, we cannot have investigations of the
Bush torture regime. It was good that Casper Weinberger was pardoned
because he`s a good man who doesn`t belong in prison.
And so, you see this elite class whose interest it is to maintain this
elite immunity constantly arguing for it, whereas if you look at polls,
it`s not just the pardon of Nixon that triggers revulsion. At the
beginning of the Obama presidency, large numbers, large percentages of
American, majorities, wanted investigations into what the Bush torture
scheme, whether the eavesdropping program, whether the obstruction of
justice were criminal and illegal because inculcated in the American mind
is the idea that we are all equal before the law. And it`s because we`re
not you see citizen anger and loss of faith and legitimacy of political
MADDOW: And the reason we have faith in those institutions is not
just because they are institutions and they are stable, but because we want
to believe they are just. Now, it`s, I think, a transient point and a
confrontational point, and I think you make it beautifully, Glenn.
So, thank you for writing this book. I think it`s a really big deal
and I think it`s really important.
GREENWALD: Thank you for having me, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: Glenn`s new book is called "With Liberty and Justice for
Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful."
And it`s really, really good. Recommend it.
All right. Giant, scary nukes neutered. "A Moment of Geek" straight
MADDOW: Two years ago, the great state of New Hampshire became the
first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage entirely through its
legislature. No court decisions involved. Live free or die.
Then, last year, in the great red tide of the 2010 election, New
Hampshire`s legislature changed hands -- Democrats out, Republicans in.
And the Republican majority pledged to take away that right of New
Hampshire same-sex couples to get married.
Republicans on the judiciary committee today recommended rescinding
same-sex marriage rights. By a big majority, the people of New Hampshire
said same-sex marriage has had no impact on their lives. Because this
right to get married has been making life better for a few of their
neighbors or not affecting them much at all, New Hampshire voted say they
would just keep this existing, right, rather than having the legislature go
out of its way to take it away.
From the polling, quote, "Strong opponents of repealing same-sex
marriage continue to out- number proponents by more than 2 to 1." In other
words, the people who want to repeal same-sex marriage rights are clearly
out-numbered here. But not if they fake some more supporters.
This is the Web site for the National Organization for Marriage, the
organization for straight people only marriage in New Hampshire. You can
see the big crowd gathered. They are cheering.
There`s Brian Brown, the president of the straight people only
marriage group. He`s firing them up.
And see this kid here on somebody`s shoulders. He`s really, really
into to. And this person here in the pink shirt with their arm way up, who
you calling outnumber 2 to 1? New Hampshire has got thousands of people
rallying for their lawmakers to take away an existing right.
Unless those people are not actually there in New Hampshire cheering
to take away gay people`s rights, unless that fired up crowd is actually in
some other place, like, say, at a speech for then-candidate Barack Obama in
downtown Columbus, Ohio, before the 2008 election. And yes, there`s that
kid on someone`s shoulder and, yes, there`s that woman in the pink shirt
and she`s still totally into it. But this is what she`s into.
What they are all in to this guy who`s about to be elected president
in 2008, the people watching him that day in Columbus had no idea through
the magic of uncredited anti-gay PhotoShopping, they would be part of a
campaign against gay rights in a state 600 miles away in 2011.
The blog Good As You connected these dots today for the world to see.
The National Organization for Marriage is just making it up. They and the
Republicans in the New Hampshire legislature do not actually have popular
support to take a nice picture of for taking away marriage rights currently
enjoyed in New Hampshire. So, because they don`t have it, they are faking
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS, "DR. STRANGELOVE")
MADDOW: That iconic fetish scene from the 1964 film "Dr.
Strangelove," it`s never exactly clear what weapon Major Kong is riding all
the way to his Russian target. But that was loaded on a B-52, part of
force of bombers, according to the film that were armed with 50 megatons of
nuclear weapons and kept airborne 24 hours a day in case of attack. All of
which means that "Dr. Strangelove`s" fictional Major Kong bomb was probably
based on the B-53 which was made two years before "Dr. Strangelove" came
The B-53 was so enormous only a B-52 bomber was big enough to carry
it. This bomb was the size of a mini-bus. It weighed 10,000 pounds,
slated to deliver an explosion 600 times the explosion in Hiroshima. It
was designed as the first bunker buster. They equipped it with parachutes
and a timer so it would land softly on the ground and then explode with
enough power to collapse shelters up to 750 feet under ground.
And like "Dr. Strangelove`s" bombs, B-53 were loaded onboard bombers
that remained airborne 24 hours a day in case of nuclear attack.
More than 300 of these bombs, these 53s, were made in the early `60s.
Dozens of them were still in U.S. active stockpiles for decades. Even
though, according to "The Washington Post," quote, "They were considered so
dangerous that only dummies were used when crews practiced loading an
unloading them on B-52s.
As early as 1993, the Department of Energy was recommending that these
bombs be retired as soon as possible, saying that the bomb had, quote, "no
assured level of nuclear safety in a broad range of multiple abnormal
There`s only one place the United States has that`s built to assemble
and disassemble nuclear weapons. It`s the Pantex plant in Amarillo, Texas.
Thousands of warheads are slated to be dismantled there. More than half of
the plant`s work consists of updating our current nuclear arsenal.
But, Rachel, this is a moment of geek, this seems like a moment of
eke. What is so geeky about this?
Here`s what`s so geeky about this? Here is your geek you fellow
geeks. The B-53 was so old and unsafe it took Pantex three years just to
figure out how to take it apart, three years. And even then, after taking
three years to take it apart it wasn`t until April of last year, a week
after President Obama signed a landmark agreement with Russia to cut both
of our country`s nuclear arsenals by a third that the National Nuclear
Security Administration announced that they finally had the safety systems
in place to speed up disassembling these things.
And today, their work was finally completed. We are talking about
nuclear physics and mechanics so geeky, so dangerous that it took half a
generation to arrive at today. For the first time in nearly 50 years,
there is not a single active B-53 bomb in existence. The final active bomb
was nicknamed "The Last of the Big Dogs."
Today, Pantex workers physically separated its high explosives from
the nuclear material inside the bomb thus rendering it unusable as a
The remaining components will be disassembled in Oakridge, Tennessee,
which is nice. And we still have thousands of active nuclear weapons in our
stockpile, including the B-53 replacement, the B-6111 nuclear bunker
booster designed to penetrate the ground up to 20 feet with a nuclear yield
of 300 kilo tons. Yahoo!
That does it for us tonight. Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with
Lawrence O`Donnell at its new time. Please have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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