'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, November 18, 2011
Read the transcript to the Friday show
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Guests: David Corn, Linda McNulty, Mark Read, Denise Vega
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. The fact you just had Lizz
Winstead on talking about corn syrup on Mt. Rushmore has made the whole
week for me. That was perfect. Have a good weekend, my friend.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. You, too. Thanks.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. Newt
Gingrich has made a career for the last few decades out of flirting with
running for president.
But when Newt Gingrich announced earlier this year that he was going
to stop just the flirting and finally make it legal -- well, at least he
was going to form an exploratory Web site about setting up an exploratory
committee about maybe running for president, when Newt Gingrich did that
earlier this year, the Web site address he chose was, NewtExplore2012.com.
Which is a hard thing to remember, and sort of an awkward construction even
for a Web address. Why did he pick NewtExplore2012.com?
Maybe it`s because ExploreNewt2012.com was already taken. For a long
time, ExploreNewt2012.com was home to this long boring video of marbled
Newts eating stuff in a dish.
Whoever owns ExploreNewt2012.com doesn`t just like salamanders,
they`ve also been clearly sort of following the campaign all year long.
When Newt Gingrich was really ostentatiously not campaigning hard and going
to places like Hawaii, ExploreNewt2012 redirected for a while to a Web site
offering humpback whale retreats in Hawaii.
When it was revealed Newt Gingrich had a half million dollar rotating
charge account at Tiffany`s, the jeweler, explore Newt started redirecting
to this nice Tiffany`s jewelry page. It`s a heart.
Now, if you go to ExploreNewt2012.com today, it automatically
redirects you to this federal housing agency, Freddie Mac.
As Mr. Gingrich has had his recent upward thrust in the polls, pretty
much every day has started with a new revelation about how exactly Newt
Gingrich makes all of his money. The Freddie Mac thing that is referenced
here, by the redirected ExploreNewt2012, the Freddie Mac thing came to
light last week when asked at the CNBC debate about having taken $300,000
from the federal housing agency Freddie Mac.
Mr. Gingrich previously criticized Freddie Mac as being responsible
for the financial meltdown. He described it as essentially a corrupting
thing. He piously demanded that politicians who got money from Freddie Mac
should be forced to give that money back.
So Newt, himself, taking 300 grand from them was kind of a scandal --
kind of a do as I say, not as I do hypocrisy moment. And also an
interesting window into how he makes his money.
Since then, it`s emerged that it wasn`t actually $300,000 that Newt
Gingrich got from Freddie Mac, it was more like $1.6 million. Oh, no,
wait, maybe more like $1.8 million. Oh, no, wait, I guess we don`t know.
As of today, the Gingrich campaign says it`s still counting.
Mr. Gingrich has tried to explain this away by saying that Freddie Mac
paid him that kind of money as a historian, a housing historian. Housing
historian is apparently a thing. It`s a very well-paid thing.
If we are taking Newt Gingrich`s candidacy seriously enough now, that
we are now looking into how he makes his money, I got to say, the $1.6
million to be a housing historian for Freddie Mac, that`s sort of as
legitimate as it gets in Newt Gingrich`s world.
When you look at how Newt Gingrich makes his money, when you look at
what his profession is, the $1.6 million for being a housing historian
deal, that makes him look righteous compared to the rest of his portfolio.
Right before the 2010 midterm elections, you may remember the story
about doctors all across the country getting faxes, faxes like this one
from the desk of Speaker Newt Gingrich. The facts complete with fake real
handwriting, a font made to look like handwriting, was sent to alert these
doctors that they had been personally selected by Newt as one of his 2010
champions of medicine.
The congratulatory letter was an invitation. Quote, "I`m having a
party in Washington at the historic Ronald Reagan Building on election
night, November 2nd, to honor you and a few others who have been selected
to receive this prestigious honor." In addition to the banquet that you
got to go to, there was a framed certificate signed by Newt Gingrich,
himself. You can see on the facts written there as if Newt has just
scrawled it in there jauntily in his own hand. This would look great in
One of the doctors who got the fax was a mother of a good reporter at
"Huffington Post" named Sam Stein. Sam Stein followed up on his mother`s
spam fax award offer from Newt Gingrich and discovered that in order to
attend this exclusive party with Newt Gingrich in Washington, all his
mother would have had to do was send Newt Gingrich $5,000.
Now, Mr. Gingrich didn`t just pull this scam with doctors, he was
doing this sort of thing with all sorts of businesses. Like, for example,
the strip club in Dallas to which he tried to bestow an entrepreneur of the
year award, if they`d give him thousands of dollars as well. That scam
included a commemorative gavel that was fake signed by Newt Gingrich.
This is how Newt Gingrich has been making his money. This is the ka-
ching that makes Newt Gingrich go. He`s a Nigerian prince e-mail send me
your bank details guy. He does email spam, fax spam, direct mail,
suckerless, bottom feeding, prey on the gullible financial scams.
But the key to them, the hook, the thing that makes it work for Newt
Gingrich is that it`s all based on the glamour and prestige of Newt
Gingrich, the prestige of the speakership of the House, which can be yours
for a fee. That`s what they`re selling.
It`s the Newt Gingrich signed gavel, right? It is the Newt Gingrich
framed certificate. It is the party where you`re allowed -- where you`re
guaranteed that you`ll be allowed to be near Newt Gingrich. It is the
letter you get from the desk of Speaker Newt Gingrich.
And today, we have learned that it`s not just small businesses and
doctors who`ve been suckered into the whole access to Newt fund-raising
spam scam. It`s big companies, too.
Today, "Washington Post" reports that the Newt Gingrich`s health care
think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, collected $37 million
over the past eight years from some of the biggest health care companies in
the country. Companies like AstraZeneca and Blue Cross Blue Shield and
G.E. Healthcare and Wellpoint -- all of these companies would pay Newt`s
for h-profit health care thing, something like $200,000 a year in
What would they get for their membership dues money? Well, in part,
they`d get special access to the former House speaker.
The immediate scandal of the health care thing this week for Newt
Gingrich is that his scammy access to Newt, for-profit health care
organization endorsed the individual mandate in health insurance. They had
a whole plan on their Web site titled "Insure All Americans."
And that`s awkward in light of comments like this by Mr. Gingrich
while campaigning earlier this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m completely opposed to
the Obama-care mandate on individuals. I fought it for 2 1/2 years at the
Center for Health Transformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, no, at your Center for Health Transformation, your
big scammy, for-profit health reform thing, you specifically endorsed the
mandate on individuals.
As "The Washington Post" notes today, the, quote, "Gingrich health
center support for such a mandate appears to have disappeared from the
center`s Web site as of Thursday."
So, that`s the immediate kind of short-term scandal. Just like Newt
Gingrich said taking money from Freddie Mac was a bad thing, even though he
took a boatload of money from Freddie Mac, here he says he was opposed to
the individual mandate even though his organization quite dizzily promoted
it for a long time.
Yes, you can find all sorts of short-term, small-bore scandals like
that in Newt Gingrich world. But just do yourself a favor, particularly if
anybody from the -- my colleagues in the Beltway media right now, just take
a step back and look at the bigger picture here. I mean, stumbling on this
Newt Gingrich $37 million from the health insurance industry story,
stumbling on that and deciding the scandal here is that he`s been two-faced
about the individual mandate, it`s little bit like waking up to a home
invasion and being outraged that your attacker is tracking mud on your
You`re sort of missing the bigger point. It`s a home invasion. Yes,
Newt Gingrich took contradictory positions on the health insurance mandate,
but he also made $37 million selling companies access to himself.
The Center for Health Transformation put what companies could get for
their money in print, and its materials for those companies. What were
they offering? Quote, "Access to Newt Gingrich" and, quote, "direct Newt
interaction." And that was just his health care venture.
We also found out today in "The Wall Street Journal" that Newt
Gingrich was paid nearly $1 million over the last seven years by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce.
What did Gingrich do for his $120,000 a year salary from the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce? Well, according to "The Wall Street Journal," quote,
"Mr. Gingrich`s assignment with the Chamber of Commerce was to attend
dinner -- attend dinner or lunch with chamber officials every few months."
A hundred and twenty thousand dollars a year for access to Newt, and
for the honor of feeding near him. And so, yes, the Chamber of Commerce
supported President Obama`s stimulus package and Newt Gingrich is
campaigning against the stimulus so there`s two-facedness there.
And yes, his health reform group was pro-individual mandate. Now he
says he`s always been against the individual mandate. You can find policy
scandals. You can find policy scandals and hints about Newt Gingrich`s,
shall we say, transactional relationship with policy everywhere you look in
But, look around. If you get hung up on the little awkwardnesses, you
sort of miss the greater and frankly vastly more entertaining story which
is Newt Gingrich, ka-ching, is a scam. Newt Gingrich`s profession since he
got kicked out of Congress under a cloud of ethics charges related to fund-
raising, his full-time profession has been selling access to himself as
someone who is influential because of his time as a public servant. He`s
been marketing the speakership of the House for his own private financial
gain, to anybody who will pay him, anybody he can scam money out of -- even
if he has to do it by a fax with fake handwriting.
For decades, he`s been doing this. This is why he is now a
zillionaire. Newt Gingrich wants you to think of him as a political
prophet. And he totally -- he`s right. He means it in the homonym sense.
The next time he says it, make him write it down because this is what
it has actually been for him.
Here`s the relevant context for understanding the presidential
candidacy of Newt Gingrich. Right now, Newt Gingrich is getting taken
seriously as a presidential candidate, right? He`s having his moment.
A new poll out in New Hampshire today shows Newt Gingrich in a
statistical tie with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is
supposed to be the one place Mitt Romney has absolutely locked up.
And this poll may be an outlier, but in this poll, Newt Gingrich
gained 21 points just in the last month.
So, if you`re a candidate, how do you deal with something like that, a
surge like that? How is Newt Gingrich marking this huge development in his
presidential campaign prospects?
Well, he is in the northeast tonight, but he`s not in New Hampshire.
He`s at Harvard university tonight screening his new DVD, "A City Upon a
Hill." to be followed immediately afterwards by a Newt Gingrich book
Step right up, folks. Step right up. Ka-ching!
Joining us now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother
Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Mr. Corn, thank you for being here.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Thank you, Rachel. I don`t know what I can
say after all that.
MADDOW: Well, tell me if there`s some secret parallel universe in
which Massachusetts is the right place for a Republican presidential
contender to be in November before an election.
CORN: Well, particularly, Harvard square, you know. He`s really
going to the belly of the beast and taking on the elites that would plot
against Middle America. That`s all I can gather up there. I mean, I have
to say, listening to you, everything you said I agree with, but I do think
the flip-flop on the individual mandate is significant only because it`s
symbolic of basically his whole career.
Not -- I mean, before the for-profit stuff, I`m talking about the 20,
30 years he spent in public life as a politician, which was always to be as
situational as possible. He could come up there with the most slippery
denials and the most fierce attacks. It didn`t matter if they contradicted
I mean, I take a little pride in being the first one this week to
point out that the Center for Health Transformation, a for-profit think
tank, I don`t think there are any other for-profit think tanks out there,
had this plan on their site calling for an individual mandate. And after
my story came out as "The Post" reports today, poof, it`s gone. It`s no
But then today I found something else in that same -- on the Web site
for the same group. In June 2007, he wrote an op-ed, a column for his own
Web site. Maybe they paid him for it. Who knows?
MADDOW: I`m sure they did.
CORN: That said exactly the same thing but went further. It said
Congress should pass a law mandating that people get health care insurance.
This is the exact opposite to the T of his claim that Obama wants to
take away your freedom by making individual mandates.
So -- but this, you know, this is, as I say, representative of
everything he said in public life and public policy from the get-go. He
can just flip, turn on a dime. You saw that with Paul Ryan, you saw that
with Libya, you saw that with climate change. I`m just talking about this
year. Not the past 33 years.
MADDOW: And talk, I think, setting him up as a person who has a flip-
flop problem, that is the reputation Mitt Romney has in politics. It has
not been the reputation that Newt Gingrich has largely because he insists
so loudly that he is so principled -- I think sometimes his insistence on
that blocks out anybody documenting anything to the contrary or believing
it even when it is documented. But I wonder if that`s even going to be a
liability for him.
I mean, has flip-flopping been a liability for Mitt Romney up until
CORN: Well, I think he`s not a flip-flopper. I think he`s a gyrator.
He never stops spinning and twirling. He plays musical chairs with himself
and I think, you know -- and then the gets caught in these lies.
I mean, Mitt Romney flip-flops. He goes from one position to the next
and he comes up with bogus justifications for it, but he sort of lands
where he lands.
Newt Gingrich can`t get his story straight. It`s always, always
spinning it. And I think we saw that, whether it`s about policy, or
whether it`s about Freddie Mac.
You know, I`m a historian, no, I give strategic advice, I got
$300,000, no, I got $1.6 million. I didn`t lobby, but I warned them not to
do what they`re doing, but, no, "Bloomberg" reports I didn`t warn them.
So, you saw the same thing in Tiffany`s.
Any time he`s met by a challenge, whether about his personal behavior,
his political behavior, his professional behavior, he just becomes a
whirling dervish of whatever he thinks will get him through that moment.
It`s exhausting watching him. I don`t know what it would be like to
live that life. And I think this is all becoming a piece. I think, you
know, when even Republican primary voters, they want to feel that the
person they`re voting for is to some degree real. And Newt Gingrich is
just -- I think all this is piling up.
It takes a while to hit. You see this with Herman Cain, when those
first charges came out about inappropriate behavior -- you know, his poll
numbers were still good. He got a lot of money. But, you know, he started
eventually dropping in the polls. And, you know, some people call it
I think Newt Gingrich might have hit his high point and I don`t think
he can sustain this.
MADDOW: While he`s up, he is definitely going to do as many
activities -- as many campaign events as possible, where he can both screen
and DVD and do a book signing right after. He`s hitting a doubleheader
tonight in Washington.
CORN: And the most important thing tonight, Rachel, is --
CORN: You get a discount if you buy both.
MADDOW: David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" -- ka-
ching -- and MSNBC political analyst -- David, thank you. I really
CORN: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. Have you heard what the FOX News Channel angle is on the
man who is charged with the attempted assassination of President Obama?
Have you seen what FOX News is saying about this? That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Do you remember when Commissioner Gordon used to flash the
bat signal to get Batman`s attention? Batman, look over here!
It turns out the bat signal works in real life. In Manhattan, at
least, it worked last night, for real. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Every 10 years, we count ourselves. Article 1, Section 2 of
the Constitution says we have to.
And last year, when we did our count, we found that since the last
time we counted, Texas had grown. Texas had grown by 4 million people.
My, how you`ve grown.
The population growth in Texas almost entirely due to the growth of
the Hispanic population there.
The reason the Constitution says we have to count ourselves every 10
years is to determine how to distribute seats in Congress. So, while a
little state like Vermont only has enough population to give them one seat
in the House of Representatives for the whole state, Texas right now has 32
people in Congress.
And because Texas` population was found to have grown so much in the
last Census, Texas is now slated to get four more congressional seats --
thank you very much. Thank you specifically Texas Hispanic influx.
Even though Hispanics in Texas tend to tilt strongly pretty strongly
Democratic, right now, Texas state government is dominated by Republicans.
And the heavily Republican-dominated Texas legislature has decided that
even though the state got its four new congressional seats, mostly because
of Hispanic population growth, the Republicans in the legislature decided
that they would draw their four new congressional districts in a way that
would almost assuredly send four more Republicans to Washington, D.C.
Last week, a three-judge panel of a federal court in D.C., two of the
three judges incidentally, were George W. Bush appointees. That three-
judge panel ruled that the Texas legislature used an improper standard to
determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their
preferred candidates of choice.
This is not the first time that redistricting has been an issue in
Texas. After all, partisan redistricting in Texas is part of what brought
us this timeless mugshot -- hi -- of former Republican House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay. Delighted to be here.
But after the courts essentially said that they would take over the
process in Texas now because the Texas legislature couldn`t stop illegally
politicizing it, the "Fort Worth Star Telegram" newspaper editorialized
that Texas really needs an independent, nonpartisan body to do its work, to
draw its congressional lines. Just take politics out of. It let it be a
technocratic thing, bring some objectivity into the process.
You know who already has that? Arizona. Arizona in its wisdom formed
itself an independent redistricting commission a decade ago so as to avoid
Texas-style partisan embarrassment -- hi, Tom -- on the subject.
Now, earlier this month, as their independent commission was finishing
up their work on a draft for a congressional district map for 2012,
Arizona`s Republican Governor Jan Brewer decided she was going to move the
head of the commission. So much for independent, right?
Governor Brewer accused the commission chair of gross misconduct and
with a two-thirds vote, a party-line vote from the Republican majority in
the Arizona state senate, Governor Brewer removed the chair of the
commission from her post.
Now, even though this is an independent commission that`s supposed to
act outside partisan politics, the governor has a right to move the
commissioner, but only if the commissioner has substantially neglected his
or her duties or is found guilty of gross misconduct.
Now, had the commissioner done something that could be construed as
gross misconduct? What had she done that was so awful? The governor has
had a hard time trying to explain that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES: What did Colleen do that was inappropriate, Colleen
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Well, she acted inappropriately.
COLMES: In what way?
BREWER: She was doing -- well, it was very, pretty much obvious that
she was in communications and doing things not in the public and the people
of Arizona deserve that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It keeps going, actually. Go on.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COLMES: I`m trying to understand what she did, though. What are you
accusing her of having done?
BREWER: Well, she wasn`t operating in the proper manner according to
COLMES: In what way? What did she do? What didn`t she do?
In what way -- for the law, for example, says she has to do something
egregious, terribly egregious. What was the egregious thing she did?
BREWER: I wish I had my letter here so I could read from it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was such gross misconduct, I can`t remember it without my
letter. Where`s my letter?
Governor Brewer had a hard time convincing Alan Colmes there of what
exactly this commissioner had done that was so egregious, so awful she had
to be forcibly removed from office, even though it`s supposedly an
Well, now, Governor Brewer has also failed to convince the Arizona
Supreme Court. The commission chair, whose name is Colleen Mathis, fought
her removal in court.
And yesterday, the Supreme Court in Arizona ruled the governor had, in
fact, failed to show that this commissioner was guilty of any gross
misconduct. They ordered that Ms. Mathis, in fact, be reinstated to her
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This court doesn`t live in a cocoon. It lives in
the real world. It must not ignore the motivations by the partisan
political conduct in question. Without an order of this court reinstating
Colleen Mathis to her lawful, rightful position, the independent
redistricting commission becomes a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Linda McNulty. She is one of the five
commissioners on Arizona`s independent redistricting commission.
Ms. McNulty, thanks very much for your time tonight. Nice to have you
LINDA MCNULTY (D), ARIZONA IND. REDISTRICTING COMMISSIONER: Thank you
very much for having me.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first if I accurately summarized the situation
that brought us here today. Is that a fair description aside from the pot
shots at Tom DeLay, of what`s brought us to this point in Arizona?
MCNULTY: It was a very good summary, yes.
MADDOW: OK. What`s your reaction to today`s ruling from the Arizona
Supreme Court? This is a clash of the titans here between the independents
of the commission that you serve on and the governor`s very strong will
apparently to exert pressure over you.
MCNULTY: It is, indeed. I think the ruling yesterday was a major win
for the citizens of Arizona who, as you explained, voted overwhelmingly to
create this commission in the year 2000.
And the purpose of the commission was to remove the process of drawing
the state legislative and congressional districts from self-interested
politicians and put it in the hands of a group of balanced citizen
volunteers who would draw fair and competitive districts for the state.
What the court struck down yesterday was a blatant attempt by the
governor and incumbent politicians to tell this commission to draw the maps
to their liking or else.
The commission ruled yesterday that the -- the court ruled yesterday
that the commission is and in fact will remain independent from influence
by the governor and the legislature.
MADDOW: The commission is made up of the independent chair who`s the
person who has been reinstated by the court as of today, two Democrats and
two Republicans. You`re one of the Democrats who serves on the board.
And when the governor went after the commission, she did get the
senate to remove the independent chair of the board. She also tried to
remove you and the other Democratic commissioner from the board.
Do you fear that she will try to do that again, that she will come
back after either you alone or all three of you again?
MCNULTY: Well, the governor has made it clear that she`s keeping her
options open. I think that the governor and the legislature have been so
out of step with the citizens of Arizona whose response to this abuse of
power has been an overwhelming condemnation; that it`s possible that they
will continue to ignore the will of the voters and the citizens.
But we want to get back to work. We have our chairman back. Colleen
Mathis is a woman with the highest integrity. Her reputation was
vindicated yesterday by the Supreme Court.
And we -- we want to get together again and begin to finish the work
that we started, which is to draw a fair and competitive districts for the
MADDOW: Linda McNulty, one of the commissioners on Arizona`s
independent redistricting commission. I know this has been a trying and
contentious time, but thanks for your service to your state and thanks for
making time to talk to us tonight.
I really appreciate your time.
MCNULTY: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: All right. The bat signal went up for real last night right
here in Gotham City. We`ve got that, next.
MADDOW: Tonight`s best new think in the world involves Pakistan and
Jesus and Budweiser. So, it`s the trifecta, obviously. That`s oncoming up
at the end of the show.
MADDOW: Earlier this year the new Republican governor of the great
state of Maine ordered a mural depicting the state`s labor history be
removed from the lobby of Maine`s Labor Department building. No artwork
about the labor movement allowed under a Republican governor, even if it is
the Labor Department.
But, then, some anonymous protesters got together and decided to
project an image of the mural back on to the side of the building that
contains the Labor Department. They put the mural back up. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putting the mural back up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean putting the mural back up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-oh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because if you do, we`ll have APD right after us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They`re putting the mural back up. This is sort of a thing
You may also remember that amid all the protest against Republican
Governor Scott Walker`s union-stripping law in Wisconsin, we got this photo
from protesters in Wisconsin who told us that in addition to this
projection, they had also projected a 40-foot dollar sign on to the side of
the Wisconsin statehouse.
Then there was the anti-Koch brothers protest outside Lincoln Center
here in New York, where a theater has been named after David Koch. The
protesters` goal there was to re-brand the Koch brothers -- an effort that
included a multimedia program projected on to the side of the building
during the protest.
And over these last couple months, protesters have been making use of
projectors in Lower Manhattan as part of the Occupy movement.
But the projection as protests move, I don`t think hasn`t really been
done like it was done last night. And it`s in part because this was
technically an amazing thing to have been carried off.
All right. Here if your visualization sake, here`s Manhattan, right?
This is the Hudson River on the left side there. And then, over there on
the other side, the east, that`s the East River.
Now, here`s the Brooklyn Bridge, the same place where there were 700
arrests made when Occupy Wall Street protesters marched on the Brooklyn
bridge early last month. But that March and those arrests, that will
happen on a weekend during the day.
The new Occupy Wall Street action was planned to be on a weeknight
this week during rush hour after the time changed, so it was going to be in
the dark. And, of course, they announced it in advance. So, everybody
knew a ton of people were going to be protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge.
That`s last night.
And right here, going over the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a perfect
site line, not only for the protesters, but everybody covering the
protesters, for this whole scene that everybody was gearing up for on the
Brooklyn Bridge last night. Right in that line of the bridge is what
everybody in New York refers to as the Verizon Building.
Now, it`s not actually Verizon`s headquarters, as the folks at the
"Village Voice" pointed out today, Verizon just has couple floors there and
their name on the top of the building is essentially just a giant ad for
that company. But more importantly, for the protesters` purposes last
night, this is what it looks like, right? It`s a big, flat building that
has a big flat surface on it facing the rough and a big, flat surface that
doesn`t have windows or sharp planes or anything else that might obscure
the purpose its divinely inspired purpose as the best possible place in the
world to show off this year`s non-marring, nonintrusive but oddly effective
and evocative visual arts/protest technique -- the projection.
You need three things to pull this off. You need a really, really,
really bright projector, you need a place to project from, and you need
chutzpa to even try to do this. The guy who pulled this off is going to be
joining us in just a second. We were able to track him down -- thanks to
the geniuses at boingboing.net.
But they were able to pull this off, and this is what it looked like.
This is just one of a whole of series of images. See that projected on to
the side of the Verizon Building last night. It was a whole program of
projected images, almost like a visual speech.
Here`s part of the message. To we have this? Mike check. Mike
Look around. You are a part of a global uprising.
We are a cry from the heart of the world, it goes on.
We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.
Happy birthday, Occupy movement, 99 percent.
Here`s what it looked like on the ground from the Brooklyn Bridge
where the Occupy Wall Street protesters were marching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: We are the 99 percent! We are the 99 percent!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They are psyched.
Joining us now is Mark Read, who organized the projections on the
Verizon Building last night.
Mr. Read, congratulations. Thanks for being here.
MARK READ, ORGANIZED OWS "BAT-SIGNAL": Thank you. Thank you for
MADDOW: When you look at that footage of it, obviously you saw it
live when it was happening. But when you see it as sort of, I guess a
document of what happened in New York, how does it feel?
READ: It`s a little surreal. I mean, it was -- I knew it would be a
really powerful projection, and I hoped that it would have that effect on
And we were able to hear the crowd, actually, from the window where we
were projecting. I didn`t expect that at all. We could hear them chanting
along to what we were projecting in this kind of interactive dance we were
doing. It was really beautiful.
MADDOW: How long ago did you have this idea? How much planning time
did this take?
READ: Well, about three weeks.
READ: And it wasn`t technically my ideas. We were -- we were having
an action coordination meeting to discuss the 17th which had been called as
a day of action for labor, 17 bridges in 17 cities, to call attention to
the crumbling infrastructure and the people that are out of work. Like we
have these people out of work, we have a crumbling infrastructure, let`s
make jobs and make bridges better. So, that was the idea.
And then Occupy happened and it became, like, a birthday party.
Exactly on the two-month anniversary of the birth of the Occupy movement.
And we wanted to do something a little more spectacular. And we were --
the first idea we were talking about were these lights that we handed out
to the crowd, 10,000 LED lights to go around to create a river of light
around the city hall and up on the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn
And then we were kind of done with that discussion and there`s a guy,
Hero, the name he goes by is Hero, and he`s been involved from the
beginning with Occupy. And he was like, I didn`t get a chance to get my
I was sitting next to him. I said, what`s your idea? He said, we
need a bat signal. And we need like bat signal with 99 percent. And I
thought about it for a half a second and knew I could pull it off.
I had done gorilla projections before and I knew people who had and I
just said, we`re doing it.
MADDOW: How did you figure out where you should be projecting from?
How did you find a place?
READ: Well, I mean, there`s this, you know, gigantic gray monolith as
a perfect projection screen a lot of us have seen over the years and I`ve
probably had the same idea. And there are these -- city housing actually.
It`s, you know, the irony of it is kind of incredible. In the shadow
of this gray corporate monolith is city housing projects -- you know,
people, working class, working poor. It`s the same thing these days --
working class, working poor.
And they`re, like, 17-tall-story buildings and right up against --
the one we were in is 130 feet from the face of the building. Literally in
its shadow. And, you know, I knew we needed a secure place so we -- I need
an apartment. I need someone in that building to sort of open their home
and so, I went into the building and put up signs, you know, like, could
you rent us your apartment for a few hours on Thursday, November 17th for
And I got a few phone calls. Most of which didn`t make a whole lot of
READ: And then I got a call from Denise Vega who I went and visited.
Actually didn`t think she had the window that we needed. She talked about
her views of the Brooklyn Bridge and I didn`t think it was going to be
right. But lo and behold, it was there. In her bedroom she had a perfect
view of that face and, you know, it was on.
I told her immediately what I was doing. I didn`t say that in the
sign, but I said it was an art and film project. But when I met her, I
said I`m with Occupy Wall Street. Have you heard about us? She said, of
course, you guys are awesome.
She knew all about the movement. And she was excited about the idea
of doing something in her apartment. And so we shook hands and the last
thing I said to her was, she said to me, was, like, let`s do this thing.
That was really exciting.
MADDOW: So it was 250 bucks and it was probably a long night in there
setting up and --
READ: Yes, well, the thing was -- it was about 20 minutes setting up.
The thing with Denise was, on Tuesday, on Tuesday, which is the day after
the eviction, which happened, like, early Tuesday morning.
MADDOW: The Zuccotti Park eviction, right?
READ: I have been trying to meet Denise, because I need to give her
her money. I want to give here like half in advance and half after. And
this was coming up on Thursday. So, the finance working group from occupy
Wall Street was in disarray. No one was around. I couldn`t get her the
So, I was playing phone tag with her and talked to her at 9:00. And
the first thing she said to me was, you know, I can`t take money for this.
This is --
MADDOW: Oh, wow.
READ: This is for the people. I can`t take any money.
MADDOW: Mark, while I have been talking to you we`ve been trying to
reach Denise on the phone. I`m told we have Denise on the phone.
Denise, are you there on the phone?
DENISE VEGA, APARMENT USED FOR OWS "BAT-SIGNAL" (via telephone): Yes,
MADDOW: Hi. How are you?
VEGA: OK. And you?
MADDOW: I`m great. I`m here with mark who you did the projection
project with last night. And I`m just wondering if you could tell us why
you decided to do this with him? Why you decided to let him use the
apartment and participate in this.
VEGA: This all happened as a token to my sister. That`s her
apartment and it so happens we were together. She was saying, oh, you got
to do it, you got to like do this together, we got to do this together.
I said, what do you want me to do? She said, listen, there`s a
project that`s about to take place. Give him a call, Mark Read. That`s
exactly what I said. I said, oh, that sounds like fun, let`s see what we
can do here, let`s do this.
That`s when I called Mark Read and we started talking. And, you know,
money was offered, and I refused the money. It`s not about the money. I
am working, but, you know, we got to be together, work together.
MADDOW: How do you --
VEGA: Stand as one.
MADDOW: How do you feel about the overall -- I mean, how do you feel
about the messages that were projected and the overall Occupy Wall Street
VEGA: It`s great. I`m so happy it`s going on, and I didn`t even know
it was going to be this long. It`s crazy.
But, you know, I`m showing my daughters, I do have two daughters. I`m
showing them what the world is about right now. We got to stand up for
MADDOW: Denise Vega, thank you for calling in tonight. We had a hard
time tracking you down. I`m really glad that we found you. Thanks for
calling us. Thanks for being part of this.
VEGA: Thank you. Have a good night. Good night, Mark Read.
MADDOW: Mark Read, Occupy Wall Streeter who organized this, and who
must have a really amazing projector.
MADDOW: Thank you for coming in and explaining this how you did this,
this made a big impact on a lot of people. Appreciate it.
READ: OK. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. How do we know Occupy Wall Street is working? In
part, because big money interests are plotting overtime to try to take it
down. There`s a big scoop that`s going to break about this tomorrow
morning on MSNBC. I got a little of the detail for you, coming up.
MADDOW: The man who was charged yesterday with attempting to
assassinate President Obama after he allegedly fired shots from a high-
powered rifle at the White House a week ago tonight, that young man was
reported as a missing person last month by his family back in Idaho.
People who knew him said he called President Obama the anti-Christ.
Today, the local CBS affiliate in Boise, Idaho, posed a tape this
alleged attempted assassin made at Idaho State University. He apparently
believed that he was Jesus Christ. And he said he wanted help from Oprah
Winfrey to get his message out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSCAR RAMIRO ORTEGA-HERNANDEZ: You see, Oprah, there is still so much
more that God needs me to express to the world. It`s not just a
coincidence that I look like Jesus.
I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for.
So I ask you, Oprah, better yet, I`m begging you, Oprah, please cast me on
to your show, Oprah. It is so crucial that the world hears God`s word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that`s Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez in his own words for
you to make sense of.
On the FOX News Channel this week, they made their own sense of him by
describing him as the "occupy shooter." This was yesterday on "FOX &
Friends." This is by Media Matters.
Is there any connection between this kid arrested for shooting at the
White House, and the Occupy protest, the 99 percent protests? No, there is
not. This guy did allegedly at the White House and the Occupy D.C. protest
is located vaguely near the White House. But beyond that, no, nothing.
"The Washington Post" report willing Wednesday afternoon that
investigators, quote, "found no connection between him and the Occupy D.C.
protest." That`s no as in none as in protesting on behalf of the 99
percent is not the same thing as being a crazy guy with a gun who thinks
he`s Jesus, except on FOX News, of course. They are the same things.
We`ve seen a lot of attempts on the right to cast Occupy Wall Street
as evil and un-American. The Internet radio shock jock guy Glenn Beck says
Occupy Wall Street will drag you from your home and kill you. He`s a
master of (INAUDIBLE).
Karl Rove`s group has been running ads against Occupy Wall Street as
attacks against Elizabeth Warren, to try to help Republican Senator Scott
We`ve seen a lot of this on the right. But tomorrow on this network
on our new weekend morning show that`s called "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," Chris
has a scoop, a scoop naming mainstream political operatives who are
shopping a plan in Washington, D.C., to take down the Occupy Wall Street
Wall Street movement. Chris apparently has the smoking gun document of how
they propose to do it and what they think that so-called service is worth -
- meaning how much money they want to charge for doing it.
Chris Hayes has that scoop tomorrow morning. I have been briefed on
the basics of it and it is mind blowing. So, set your alarm clock for
"UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" airing tomorrow here on MSNBC, from 7:00 to 9:00
MADDOW: Happy Friday. I have been waiting all week long for this,
because this is finally the "Best New Thing in the World" segment where I
get to say the phrase monkey crotch -- because it is relevant to the news
story at hand and not just because it`s fun to say monkey crotch.
All right. This starts in Pakistan, which is a country that you would
think had bigger things to worry about the censoring the Internet. But
Pakistan, in fact, is keeping itself very busy censoring the Internet.
In 2006, Pakistan blocked five Web sites for providing misleading
information. In `07, they shut down access to YouTube because of non-
Islamic objectionable videos. Last year, they blocked Facebook and
Wikipedia in Pakistan. And then a month later, they blocked 17 other Web
Pakistan even has a hotline you can call to report objectionable
Internet things. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all
your censoring needs. This means literally have a phone number can you
call if you think someone is wrong on the Internet, like that classic
cartoon "Someone`s wrong on the Internet, I can`t go to bed!"
But as of this year, it is no longer just the Internet that Pakistani
government is censoring. About half of Pakistan`s population has a cell
phone and like cell phone users everywhere, they text message a lot. Who
know what is sort of wrong, blasphemous dirty words and phrases they are
texting each other?
The Pakistani government thinks that they know and they`ve made a
list, a list of about 1,100 English words and phrases and about 600 Urdu
words and phrases that as of Monday the Pakistani government says it
expects service providers to block, to censor, to prevent from being
transmitted as text messages.
Among the words that Pakistan as of Monday will block you from texting
in that country: flatulence, tongue, fairy, gonorrehea -- spelled
incorrectly, speaking it correctly, as far as I can tell is not banned.
Also, the word headlights, fingerfood, love pistol and deposit, also monkey
Pakistani government officials also came up with more than -- do we
have to use that picture? They also came up with more than 50 different
phrases that involve the "F" word, which might have been for fun because
since up just banned the "F" word, then presumably you also ban all 50 "F"
word containing phrases. But think about how fun that must have been to be
a government employee charged with coming up with the 50 different ways to
use the "F" word. That must have been really fun.
The government is also banning texts that contain the word wuutang,
spelled like that. Also, you can no longer text the phrase, Jesus Christ.
You can also no longer text the word Budweiser.
So, if you want to text someone about that great old joke about Jesus
and the Wu-tang clan walking into a bar in St. Louis, you`ve only got this
weekend to do it. As of Monday, it will not go through.
As of Monday, there will also be eight different banned phrases in
Pakistan that include the word foot, including athletes foot. No more
texting about that.
They`re also banning another 17 phrases that include the word butt,
with two T`s. Imagine how awkward it would be if one of the guys in charge
of censoring text messages like an executive at one of the telecom firms
had as a last name one of the banned words. Wouldn`t that be awkward?
Mr. Naveed Khaled Butt is a Pakistani telecom executive. In fact, he
attended the big meeting with Pakistani government officials last month to
discuss the start of the text messaging censorship campaign. Beginning on
Monday, his company will censor his own name on SMS form.
Also, poor Ms. Headlights down from the billing department. And my
cousin athlete`s foot. Yes, a man named Mr. Butt having to enforce
Pakistan`s new censorship of that word. I can`t even make -- it`s the best
new thing in the world today.
Goodbye. Prison, go! I`m sorry.
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