'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, November 21st, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Ray Lewis, Lisa Jackson
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: -- I had a thousand people ask me, is
Rachel so nice as she is on TV? And I said, absolutely.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You said actually she`s a horrible person.
She`s just acting. Amazing acting.
SCHULTZ: They love you in the middle of the country. It was great to
MADDOW: Ed, when I was looking at the coverage this weekend of the
rally in Wisconsin, all of the mainstream coverage that I was reading noted
that you were there. It was part of the way that the national media took
the temperature of what happened this weekend in Madison. I`m glad you
were an eyewitness, man. I was good to have you there.
SCHULTZ: Good to be there. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Ed.
And thanks to you at home staying with us for the next hour. Stop me
if you have heard this one before. But there is a new front-runner in the
race for the Republican presidential nomination. Surprise.
Three new polls out, from CNN, Reuters, from Gallup, all give the
national lead for the Republican presidential nomination to former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich.
All right. Now, of course, we do not elect people using nationwide
primaries, we go to Iowa and then New Hampshire and then South Carolina, et
cetera. But in terms of the nationwide polling right now, for what it`s
worth, Newt Gingrich is ahead.
In the Gallup poll, alone, this is the sixth new front-runner we have
had this year in the Republican race. Mitt Romney has basically been Mr.
22 percent all year long. That was at one point good enough for him to be
the front-runner but Gallup at one point also had Herman Cain as the front-
runner this year. They had Rick Perry as the front-runner. They had
Donald Trump as the frontrunner at one point. Mike Huckabee was winning
the Gallup poll for the Republican presidential nomination at one point
this year. Yes, this year.
And now, I guess it is Newt Gingrich`s turn.
This has been such a weird year in Republican politics. I mean,
normally, election year drama is fun, but it`s fun and kind of in the way a
pinball game is fun. You know, you`re wondering how long that one ball can
stay in play, how long that particular candidate can keep going. But this
year with this field, with these Republicans, it is less like a pinball
game. It is more like a pachinko game. Look at those balls in the game.
Are all of these guys really in play? Do they all really have a shot?
Apparently they do. I mean, if Newt Gingrich does, they all do. Not
Rick Santorum obviously, but the rest of them.
Right now, if you were betting on who`s going to win the Iowa caucus
on January 3rd, who would you bet on? It`s as likely to be Ron Paul as is
it is Herman Cain as it is Newt Gingrich as it is Mitt Romney as it is
Michele Bachmann. Not you, Rick Santorum. But, really, any of the others
are as viable as any of the rest of them.
But Newt Gingrich is different. Newt Gingrich is different from all
the rest of these pachinko ball frontrunners for five minutes. Newt
Gingrich is maybe even more fun to cover while he`s got his little moment
in the sun here because Newt Gingrich has been around politics in one
incarnation or another basically forever.
I mean, to trace the origins of some of the more eyebrow-raising stuff
that Newt Gingrich is promoting now that he is the presidential front-
runner, you have to go back to Newt Gingrich`s old cassette tapes.
Remember cassette tapes? For all viewers younger than me, this is a
cassette tape. Used to have boom boxes and machines in our cars that would
play these things and sometimes your car would mess it up and the tape
could get tied like this.
One of the things that Newt Gingrich did when he was on his way to
becoming Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich -- see, I broke it. There it
goes -- was that he took over a Republican organization called GOPAC. And
GOPAC would send -- from GOPAC, he would send Republican coaching cassette
tapes to Republican candidates for office all around the country.
So, not just people who are running for Congress, but people who are
running like for dogcatcher. So, if you were a Republican candidate for
anything, Newt Gingrich would get you on his mailing list and you`d start
getting inspirational cassette tapes in the mail from Newt Gingrich.
This is former Republican Congressman Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota. Gil
Gutknecht ran for Congress in 1994. He told the PBS program "Frontline" a
few years later, quote, "I started receiving the Gingrich tapes when I was
in the state legislature. And when they would come, I mean, you spend some
time in a car particularly going back and forth to the state legislature,
when these tapes would come in the mail, I mean, I would open them up right
away and put them in a cassette player within 24 hours. I mean, I, we were
always eager to get them. It was almost like a chalk talk with a great
"Frontline" got some of these Gingrich tapes back in the day. We`re
working now of getting copies of them now to the extent that they still
exist. But in the meantime, we do have the transcripts.
So, we know that Newt Gingrich in his inspirational Republican tapes
would tell Republican candidates things like, "You favor a political
revolution. You want to replace the welfare state with an opportunity
society. You favor workfare over welfare.
You want to lock prisoners up and you`re actually prepared to give up
some political pork barrel to build as many prisons as you need. We are
going to create a real revolution."
In addition to the pep talk cassette tapes from Mr. Gingrich, he also
conducted a fake college course where he taught American history to
perspective Republican candidates via a satellite feed.
Well, today, basking in his new front-runner presidential status, Newt
Gingrich said once he is elected president, that`s how he talks about
himself, "once I`m president," he says he`s going to keep teaching online
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I will probably
teach a course when I`m president. It`s part of the answer. I think I
will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole country what
we`re going to try to accomplish and offer it online sort of like
University of Phoenix or Kaplan so anybody in the country who wants to can
sign up. It would be free. You wouldn`t have to pay.
The news media`s assumption about me, we`ll probably charge $100 a
piece so I can get rich. No, I mean, it will be free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You can see him bumming about, oh, shoot, it`s going to have
to be free. Hmm.
Newt Gingrich promising, oh, shoot, promising to stop trying to scam
you out of your money once he becomes president. Hopefully not until then,
Back in the early 1990s, Newt Gingrich also circulated talking points
for Republican candidates around the country, giving them lists of words
they should use when describing the other side in a political fight.
According to Newt at the time, Democrat should be described with words like
"pathetic, sick, incompetent, disgrace and traitors." These are just
Democrat should described as "anti-flag, anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-
child." This is just the in the abstract way that Newt Gingrich advised
fellow Republicans they should talk about Democrats. He wasn`t saying on
this one particular issue call Democrats anti-child. He`s just saying,
broadly speaking, call Democrats anti-child.
And with that as his personal history -- this is why he`s an amazing
candidate, with that as his personal history, this weekend ads the new
front-runner for president, Newt Gingrich proposed eliminating child labor
He said, quote, "Schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors,
have one master janitor and let students take care of the school. The kids
would actually do work, they would take pride in the schools and begin the
process of rising. You go out to talk to people, as I do, you got out and
talk to people who are really successful in one generation, they all
started their first job between 9 and 14 years of age."
Once we fire all the janitors so they can be replaced by 9-year-olds,
don`t forget to call the Democrats anti-child. It should probably also
then remember to call them traitors.
As weird as it is to have Newt Gingrich, of all people, as a
presidential front-runner and weird as it is for him to be suggesting that
9-year-olds should look at janitors, as part of his presidential platform,
getting rid of child labor laws thing is actually not just a Newt thing.
It has become sort of a mainstream Republican thing in 2011. The
Republican governor of Maine this year, Republican legislators in Wisconsin
this year, Republican legislators in Missouri this year have all proposed
this year in 2011 getting rid of child labor laws.
When something happens like the supercommittee collapsing today in
Washington, because of an inability to reach a point of economic
compromise, everybody tends to react to that in the Beltway by saying stuff
like, oh, how come the two parties can`t compromise anymore? How come they
can`t find common ground on economic issues?
Democrats haven`t really moved in any direction except to the right in
their economic positions in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, in Republican
politics this year, it became normal to talk about eliminating child labor
laws. This is why we can`t have nice things. This is why we cannot come
together, kumbayah. You want Democrats to go halfway toward eliminating
child labor laws in the interest of bipartisan harmony? Seriously?
Today, Newt Gingrich also proposed privatizing Social Security as in
allowing the stock market to determine what brand of cat food we will
expect elderly Americans to survive on from now on.
But, again, the context here is maybe even more telling than anything
about this individual 15 minutes of fame current Republican frontrunner,
because every single one of the major Republican candidates for president
right now says they want to privatize Social Security.
Mitt Romney said he wanted to privatize Social Security the last time
he ran for president in 2008. Now he explains in his book "No Apology"
that he`s not sure about that anymore. But one of Mitt Romney`s positions
on Social Security has been that he would like to privatize Social
Security. And all of the rest of the major Republican candidates agree.
We thought Republicans learned their lesson on this in 2005 when
George W. Bush tried it and just got essentially laughed off the national
stage. George W. Bush had just won re-election in 2004. He really did
have a lot of political capital to spend and the country just laughed in
his face about him trying to spend that political capital on privatizing
Social Security. It sunk like a stone falling through water. And that was
before Wall Street collapsed in 2008.
Privatizing Social Security is something that very recently
Republicans realized was way too radical for the country to swallow.
George Bush walked away from that.
But now, all the Republican candidates for president are in favor of
it. Depending on which day you ask Mitt Romney. And, you know, maybe we
are a country that`s ready to just have master janitors who oversee the 9-
year-olds who are going to do the real janitor work. Maybe Social Security
is too good for America`s old people. Maybe 21 years of calling Democrats
traitors, traitors, traitors no matter what you do, maybe that`s the way to
mount your political revolution.
But is the bewildering radicalism of the 2012 Republican presidential
field this year, is it actually helpful for understanding why nothing can
really get done in Washington right now? Or if it can get done, it`s a
rare, rare, rare occurrence. Is the fact that somebody like Newt Gingrich
is now in the lead, after Herman Cain was just in the lead, should that be
an ah-ha moment for Democrats about what the other party is like right now
and how to get anything done over the next year with them, through them or
Joining us now is "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne. He`s also
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and MSNBC contributor.
Hi, E.J. Thanks very much for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Does it say something important about the Republican Party
that their current presidential front-runner has launched as part of his
presidential platform that he will oppose child labor laws?
DIONNE: Well, I think it does. I do want to sort of pull out my
favorite Newt quote on this. He said that people should get any job that
teaches you to stay all day, even if you`re having a fight with your
I don`t know about you, but I never knew that fights with girlfriends
were barriers to labor force participation. I think this is why everybody
says Newt is so brilliant. He thinks up things, he sees things the rest of
us completely miss. It`s really quite remarkable.
This is actually very helpful what you`re seeing here, because
Republicans have been arguing behind a screen, using lumpy words like
"deregulation." That doesn`t mean much to anybody except maybe the
government has too many rules.
When you start talking about getting rid of child labor laws, does the
country really think that we should return to the grand old days when 11-
year-olds worked in factories? I don`t think so.
So there is a clarity here, and I think what`s being made clear is
that this generation of conservatives doesn`t want to move us back to the
1980s. They want to move us back to the 1880s and 1890s, to the Gilded
Age, when there weren`t any regulations. So, I do think this is a
MADDOW: And, well, they also want to take us back to the mid-2000s on
this Social Security issue where George W. Bush in 2004 was very overt
about the fact he wanted to spend political capital that he earned in being
re-elected on privatizing Social Security. You remember how he mounted a
national barnstorming tour to try to build support for privatizing Social
Security and the more he talked about it, the worse it sunk in the polls.
I mean, Newt Gingrich is declaring himself the historian in the race.
How is it that they are all campaigning on trying to get rid of Social
DIONNE: You know, and the fact that bush kept talking about it wasn`t
that his speeches were bad, it`s that the more people looked at it, the
less they liked it. And now it looks a whole lot worse after the stock
market crash of 2008/2009.
I think what`s gone on is that the Republican primary electorate has
moved well to the right of where it was even 15 years ago. It used to be
the case that maybe half of Republican primary voters considered themselves
conservative or very conservative. Now, it`s over three-quarters. So,
they can say these things in primaries and get some traction, although I`m
not sure it will work too well in Florida where there are a lot of Social
But this is going to leave them in a very difficult position come
election day. Yes, they did well in 2010, but there was a lot of
discontent, a low turnout, with a broad electorate. This just doesn`t
MADDOW: What do you think happens in terms of the super committee
failure today? One of the things going wrong in the way the failure is
being covered, it`s being covered as pox on both their houses, neither side
would budge, neither party was willing to be reasonable on this sort of
thing. Isn`t it germane to report that the Republican position is
dramatically different than what would have been considered reasonable even
in Republican Party politics, even just a few years ago, as you just said?
Isn`t that part of understanding why this failed?
DIONNE: Well, that`s absolutely right. I mean, this isn`t -- Bob
Dole and Howard Baker and Bob Michael and people like that look like Paul
Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey. This is the -- the real failure here is
that the Republicans were not willing to budge on revenue. When they did
put up sort of some revenue, they linked it with cutting the top rate of
the income tax down to 28 percent. So, it became a proposal to cut taxes
on the rich, when we`re trying to cut deficits. I think that message will
It was really striking to see President Obama tonight. He had not
been making very many strong partisan arguments, indeed, for about six
months. He wasn`t making any arguments at all. He was just talking about
And he is finally just laying it on the line and saying, you can`t
have a deal unless you`re willing to raise taxes on the wealthy. And I
think that`s a debate we should have. And I don`t think it`s a debate the
Republicans are going to win.
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at
the Brookings Institution and MSNBC contributor -- E.J., thank you.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: E.J. was talking about there about the president`s comments
on the supercommittee kablooie today. We`ve got more on that coming up in
just a few minutes.
We`ve also got two other things coming up. We do have some very good
news in Washington today seriously. Not snarkily, seriously.
And in the Interview tonight, here live, is the head of the EPA, Lisa
MADDOW: From the files of accurately nicknamed weapons, this is the
so-called giant pain ray. It`s technically called the active denial
system, but really the nickname pain ray is so much more descriptive. This
giant satellite looking thing, it shoots electromagnetic radiation at a
target, also known as a human. It`s intended to cause a lot of pain. The
top layer of skin is supposed to absorb the radioactive rays and get very
In tests people could endure the pain ray for about three seconds.
Nobody lasted more than five seconds. So it hurts a whole heck of a lot,
but in theory at least it does not kill you.
This is the Taser XREP, the extended range electronic projectile.
It`s like the tasers you have seen cable news hosts volunteer to be shocked
by, only a lot more powerful and more terrifying. It`s a little wireless
taser you shoot out of the gun. When a taser bullet hits a target, again,
as in a human, it emits an electrical charge for almost half a minute.
And this is something that`s still in development -- the post-energy
projectile. It`s supposed to fire off a plasma beam that heats the air
around it so quickly that for lack of better phrase, it makes the air
These are supposed to be nonlethal weapons. When used on humans,
they`re supposed it hurt badly, knock you down, send you fleeing. But
they`re not supposed to kill you, though the pain is so bad you wish they
The argument for nonlethal weapons development is that in the military
field, in the criminal justice field, there may be times when you need to
or want to use force but you don`t want to kill people. Therefore in an
instance where you might otherwise use live ammunition to shoot and kill,
you instead use the pain ray or the souped up taser or maybe the "explode
the air" pulse energy projectile thing someday.
You switch from a gun to a nonlethal means of getting what you want
without using deadly force. That`s the idea behind nonlethal weaponry.
But it turns out it`s not the way nonlethal weaponry gets used.
Often, instead of substituting for lethal force, nonlethal weapons just
increase the number of occasions, the types of occasions on which force is
used at all. Seattle police, for example, probably would have never used
guns and live ammunition to shoot this 84-year-old woman who was the
defining image of Occupy protests last week.
But when Dorly Rainey was at an Occupy Seattle protest Tuesday night,
and police decided to use force on those protesters, they did pepper
sprayed her right in the face. She was eventually escorted out of the
crowd, into safety, by an Iraq war veteran whom she met that night.
Before Dorly Rainey, there was a veteran named Scott Olsen. Last
month. Mr. Olsen was hit in the head with a blunt object at an Occupy
Oakland protest. Organizers told the media he was hit by a tear gas
canister fired by police. It cracked his skull. His skull was fractured.
He was in the hospital for about three weeks and faces a long recovery.
Would police have used live ammunition to shoot at those Oakland
protesters if they had not had nonlethal projectiles?
In Denver last month, police in riot gears dispersed protesters with
pepper spray and with rubber bullets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: A photojournalist was in civic center park on another story
when he found himself in the middle of a face-off between police and
protesters. An officer shot a steady stream of pepper spray there into the
crowd then come rubber bullets. This man got some of the spray in his
face. People near him trying to help, calling for more water to help flush
out his eyes.
TV ANCHOR: Let`s get the latest now from our news reporter Nelson
NELSON GARCIA, REPORTER: Things are pretty tense right now. But as
you can see right behind me, the crowd is still there. Things have calmed
down quite a bit. Officers fired rubber bullets into the crowd as well as
pepper spray and mace.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Rubber bullets, pepper spray, mace. These are not used as
alternatives to live ammunition, necessarily, to actual guns with actual
bullets in the protest situations, not unless you can imagine police in a
live fire/live ammo situation if they weren`t using those tools.
These tools have essentially been used to give police officers more
ways to use force, against more people. By now you`ve probably seen this
video shot Friday at the University of California at Davis. Nonviolent
protesters sitting on the ground. Their arms linked in a show of unity.
And campus police officers spraying pepper spray, essentially pointblank,
directly into their faces. The protesters do not fight back.
Eleven protesters were treated for injuries. Two had to be
An investigation into the incident is under way and the school`s
chancellor is facing intense pressure over her supervision of the school`s
police department. In New York, where the Occupy Wall Street protests
began two months ago, pepper spray has been one of the nonlethal weapons of
choice for police. But recently, we`ve been hearing unconfirmed reports of
something else, too. We heard about it in Oakland as well.
It`s something called an LRAD, short for a long range acoustic device.
A protester at Occupy Wall Street tweeted a picture of this handheld one he
claims was used by police on protesters. Another protester tweeted about
it as well.
The LRAD is basically a sound cannon. As designed, it was supposed to
make a sound so loud and painful that humans can`t stay nearby it. They`re
forced to run away from the weapon hopefully before it causes hearing
One reporter for "The New Yorker" says he saw the LRADs being used
last week in New York. Quote, "The NYPD descended on the park with
deafening military grade LRAD noise cannons and several stadiums` worth of
blinding klieg lights."
However, the New York Police Department denies using the LRAD, saying
it only used it as a megaphone to broadcast instructions to the protesters.
They`re saying they did not use it as a weapon.
We asked the NYPD for comment on that late this morning, they have not
replied to our request. But we`ll let you know when they do.
In criminal justice, when you introduce new weapons that can do things
that previous ones didn`t, you don`t end up using force as often as you did
before, only now, you kill less people with that force. New weapons with
new uses mean that you have opportunity to use force a lot more than you
Without having pepper spray as an option, I cannot believe that
Seattle police would have shot 84-year-old Dorly Rainey. Without tear gas,
Oklahoma police would not have shot Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen. Without
pepper spray, U.C. Davis police I do not think would have shot those 11
protesters with live ammunition.
But because police officers had these nonlethal ways to use force,
they used it and this is the day-to-day reality of the protesters in the
Occupy Wall Street movement across the country right now.
Joining us now is Ray Lewis. He is a retired police captain from
Philadelphia. He and 300 protesters were arrested last week at the Occupy
Wall Street protest in New York.
Captain Lewis, thank you for being here.
RAY LEWIS, RETIRED POLICE CAPTAIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: As a retired police captain and somebody who has taken a
stand for this movement and, in fact, been arrested there, how do you feel
about the use of force at these protests?
LEWIS: Well, use of force is absolutely necessary if they are met
with force. And oftentimes at these protests, they are met with force.
But the amount of force can only rise to the level where you overcome --
the minimum level necessary to overcome the force that you`re receiving and
oftentimes that goes way above that, and that`s also due to a lack of
proper supervision at the scene.
MADDOW: We`re seeing -- we`re seeing things like pepper spray being
used essentially as what they describe as a compliance tool. Not to stop
violence being directed from protesters toward police but essentially to
get protesters to do something police want them to do. In the case at U.C.
Davis, what they wanted the protesters to do was move and they weren`t
I have a lot of sympathy for police in dangerous situations. I`m just
inclined that way as a person. And, yet, I feel like when the average
American looks at those pictures of what happens in U.C. Davis, there`s
almost nothing that could be done to make the protest stronger because of
the sympathy you have for the kids in the situation.
LEWIS: The average American, every American found that repulsive
including myself. I was profoundly shocked at that. And it is -- what
they did is they gave the movement a tremendous weapon.
Those people that endured that are going to look back at that and
realize how important it was, what happened to them was a tremendous
movement, because now you`re including mainstream America looking at that
and saying, this is not right.
MADDOW: Yes. Can you tell me about the circumstances of your arrest
last week? And did you expect to be arrested and what happened around
LEWIS: That`s interesting. I went to that demonstration just with my
sign. I was just going to hold it up. And I had no intention of being
arrested at all. In fact, didn`t even come into my mind.
When I saw these individuals being led over, being arrested, their
conviction inspired me, because here they are, they`re giving up their
freedom for justice for other people, for everybody, and that conviction
inspired me that, hey, I got to do it.
And so I realized then, right there at the moment, that I`m going to
be arrested. And I sat down. It was a totally legal arrest. I broke the
law. I refused to move when ordered. And I was -- the arrest was handled
in an exemplary fashion.
Also for all the other protesters I saw, they all received
MADDOW: There`s been a sort of a tension, or maybe we`ve just seen
two different things, two contradictory things happen at the same time,
which is that we`ve seen protesters essentially try to reach out to police
and say, you are the 99 percent. I`ve heard people chanting, "Raises for
the police, raises for the police."
We`ve seen people trying to make common cause, but we have also seen
these sharp and some cases disturbing confrontations between police and
You were there in uniform. What was you -- what were your -- and
holding a protest sign. What were your protests, what were your
interactions like with the other police there on scene covering that as
part of their job?
MADDOW: Really? No reaction, nobody talk to you about the fact
you`re in uniform?
LEWIS: Well, the only -- I have had a little interaction, but it`s
very secretive. Passing comments. Nobody talks to me like a regular
MADDOW: Yes. And your reaction from the protesters in terms of them
seeing you there in uniform but clearly on their side?
LEWIS: Oh, extremely thankful. And they said it gave them just
tremendous motivation to continue this fight.
MADDOW: In terms of your -- now that you -- you didn`t mean to get
arrested but you did, what do you see as your continued involvement, if all
in supporting this movement going forward?
LEWIS: Oh, absolutely. One of my goals is to try to increase a
better understanding between the protesters and the police, and how to get
there, the cause going forward. Better fashion than confronting the
police. You`re not going to win in any confrontation with the police.
You`re guaranteed you will lose.
And so I`m trying to get them to understand, even the vocal shouting
is detrimental. You know, it causes no -- it doesn`t help the situation at
all when you`re shouting about their mothers and everything else. I am
looking to get people to talk to the police, on the barricades.
The police won`t look at you when you`re talking to them because
they`re trained not to. They don`t want to be distracted. So they`re not
being ignorant. They`re just doing what they`re trained to do.
But even though they`re not looking at you, they are hearing you. I`m
telling protesters, to just give their heartfelt feelings about why they`re
there and what`s going on in their lives and their family`s lives.
MADDOW: That can be a powerful deescalating tool I think.
Retired Police Captain Ray Lewis, it was striking to see those photos
of you being arrested and it`s a real honor to have you here. Thank you
for taking the time to talk to me about this.
LEWIS: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Nice to meet you. Thank you.
LEWIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: We will be right back.
MADDOW: Hey, good news. We have the head of the EPA, the
Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, here live tonight for "The
Interview." That`s next.
MADDOW: OK. When you think tree huggers, do you think A, dirty
hippies, B, mom, or C, Richard Nixon? You should think Richard Nixon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our land, this land that is
ours together is a great and a good land. It is also an unfinished land.
And the challenge of perfecting it is the summons of the `70s. It is in
that spirit that I address myself to those great issues facing our nation
which are above partisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of those things that was above partisanship that year,
the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA. Richard
Nixon established it with support from congress in 1970. In that State of
the Union Address, he went on to say, "We can no longer afford to consider
air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone with regard to
the consequences." Yes, I`m uironically and unsnarkily quoting Richard
One of the things the newly established EPA did in the early `70s is
that the commission photographers to travel across the country and document
some of the consequences of environmental neglect, of why our country
needed something like an EPA.
These are some of those images. In 1970, there was no Clean Water
Act. That`s a woman holding water from her well. No Clean Air Act, right?
Virtually no laws regulating how much toxic waste companies could dump into
The EPA changed all that after Richard Nixon created it. Richard
Nixon, by the way, in case you haven`t heard, was a Republican.
Today`s Republicans blame the EPA for pretty much everything wrong in
the country and that`s only half hyperbole. Seven of the 10 jobs agenda
ideas put forward by House Republicans this August, ideas meant to create
jobs, were things that would kill environmental regulations. Seven of the
10 were to undermine the EPA in some way. Anti-EPA politics are so extreme
in Republican politics right now that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul recently
argued against power plant pollution rules by actually sort of arguing that
power plant emotions might be good for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Now, one of the other things people
argue about and one of the big health concerns they have with pollution is
with regard to asthma. The interesting thing is, is that if you look at
all the statistics on all of the emissions from our power plants, all of
these declining lines are emissions. We have decreased pollution and
rising incidence of asthma. So, either they`re inversely proportional or
they`re not related at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maybe they`re inversely proportional.
Senator Rand Paul proposing it`s possible that maybe power plant
emissions cure asthma.
Think of the implications for medicine. Feeling sick? Suck a tail
"Associated Press" called out Senator Paul`s baffling pseudoscience.
A quick side note, it turns out Senator Paul`s biggest donor is the
delicious, delicious coal industry.
Republican presidential candidates seem to be trying to one up each
other this week. One up each other each week in how against the EPA they
are. Candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, runs in the
family, I guess, are promising to dismantle the EPA altogether. Rick Perry
and Herman Cain say they want to overhaul it somehow.
And even the ones who are not pledging to immediately abolish the
agency or take it apart piece by piece are hewing to this year`s mystery
science economics. Broadly speaking, Republican candidates line this year
is that Wall Street blowing up in 2008 is not why the economy has gone off
a cliff. No, no, they say it`s Richard Nixon`s EPA that did it.
Joining us now for "The Interview" is not Richard Nixon but the
administrator of our nation`s Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa
Administrator Jackson, thank you for being here.
LISA JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: That`s a great intro. I`m not
MADDOW: You don`t look a thing like him.
It seems impossible that one of the Republican legislative legacies of
the century is the EPA, because it seems that environmental protection has
become a very partisan, an issue on which there is a stark partisan divide.
Do you think that`s fair?
JACKSON: Yes, I actually do. I think that it is unprecedented, the
level of attack that we`re seeing, not only the agency, but on the Clean
Air Act, or Clean Water Act. The fundamental bedrock laws of our country.
And I loved -- I actually learned a new phrase, above partisanship.
And I keep saying, I said that when I took office as administrator. The
environment has always been nonpartisan, above partisanship. There`s no
one who doesn`t argue that we should have clean air, clean water, a clean
and healthy place to live.
MADDOW: The Republican argument, though, is that in trying to ensure
clean air, clean water and a healthy place to live, there has been
regulatory overreach and that the EPA essentially kills jobs by making it
impossible for businesses to be profitable.
JACKSON: This is a great example, what I`m calling the fact-free zone
inside the Beltway. There is not one credible economic study, and in fact,
there have been a raft of them in recent days, that has shown that
environmental protections hurt job growth. In fact, EPA`s been around for
41 years, as you said. And during that time, our GDP has grown over 200
There`s something like less than half of a percent of job losses that
are attributed to any kind of government regulation.
And I want to be clear on this: I`m absolutely of the belief that we
should have a smart, efficient government. That we should make sure that
our regulations are up-to-date. That the standards we set reflect the
latest technology -- all wonderful, good things. But to tell the American
people, the way I`m going to get you employed is to just ask your child to
suck on a tail pipe, to breathe your more pollution I think is the choice
being put before Americans. It`s a false choice.
MADDOW: Is it -- does it make sense to you that in a crimped
environment that we have right now, crimped economic environment where
people are really desperate for something, some way to move forward, that
the regulatory environment broadly and environmental regulation, itself,
would become a target? I mean, as you -- I think you are right that it is
essentially operating in a fact-free zone. This is not something were
people are citing a lot of studies and in the case of Rand Paul, the
studies they`re citing are sort of branded Disney.
But is there -- does -- it does also resonate with me, though, that
this argument would work politically, that people would think that it is
the heavy hand of government that`s holding us back.
JACKSON: When people are scared, when they`re worried about the
economy, attacks on government pick up. And EPA has been the subject of
attacks before. There`s sort of a pendulum that swings back and forth.
And what`s really scary now is that pendulum has swung to a pretty extreme
place. We`ve seen over 170 votes in this Congress, alone, most of them
initiated by the house Republicans, to overturn air and water rules.
And we`re talking about the kind of votes that will literally gut the
Clean Air Act, something most Americans are sitting at home assuming will
be there to protect their families.
It`s really important to remind folks that we`re not talking about the
ability to see across the street, which is a nice thing. We`re talking
about pollution that gets into your lungs, makes you sick. If you have a
respiratory ailment, you`ll be at the hospital or the doctor. If you`re
vulnerable, we`re talking premature deaths.
Just one of our rules, the mercury rules that the president talked
about in this joint session to Congress is estimated to save, to prevent
17,000 premature deaths a year.
So, we`re not talking about the abstract Clean Air Act. And even
those pictures. We`re talking about public health. We`re talking about
who pays those costs. Health costs or do polluters pay to reduce
One of the areas of regulation and, I guess, and lack of regulation
that`s been a lot of concern to a lot of people this year is fracking. The
means by which people release petroleum by-products from the earth and can
be a very efficient way of getting at energy sources, but people are also
concerned we do not know what the chemicals are that are injected into the
earth in order to do that.
Do you think that there should be additional regulation of that? And
does EPA have enough room to maneuver in order to protect drinking water
supplies in a fracking environment?
JACKSON: So, EPA`s in the middle of a study. It`s going to take us
another year and a half to look at the impacts of fracking on ground water.
And I think it`s really important to get scientific information to show the
American people what we know. EPA has access to more data than is publicly
available. And also to have our scientists look and crunch those numbers.
In the meantime, we`ve also said that where there are concerns, if
there need to be additional enforcement, we can do that work. Listen, as
an environmentalist, I actually think natural gas is important to our
country. I do think that it is a potential big change for us. It has
immediate benefits from a pollution side. It has immediate benefits from
an energy security side.
But what we have to be able to say to people is that in the process of
getting this natural gas, we`re not going to screw up your ground water or
drinking water or your air. There are air impacts potentially as well.
Now, states are stepping up and doing a good job. So, I always say,
it doesn`t have to be EPA that regulates the 10,000 wells it might go in,
but there needs to be standards. And they need to be transparent. When it
comes to the chemicals in the fracking fluid, I think that that`s a fair
point. People want to know what`s being injected into their water.
MADDOW: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. I know you don`t to very
more interviews like this. Thank you for being here.
JACKSON: No, I`m happy to be here. Nice for having me.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
All right. Right after the show on "THE LAST WORD," Michael Moore
will be joining Lawrence O`Donnell.
And here, we`ve got some genuine non-snarky, non-italicized good news
from Washington, D.C., today.
MADDOW: The stock market is open for business from 9:30 a.m. until
4:00 p.m. Four o`clock Eastern is the closing time at the New York Stock
Exchange. Today was not an awesome day for the stock market. They closed
lower than it has in a month.
Today was full of investors and pundits and analysts watching and
waiting for the so-called bipartisan super committee to fail to reach a
deal on cutting the deficit. Everybody pretty much knew failure was
coming. It`s not like there was a lot of suspense surrounding this issue.
There had been lots of reporting particularly over this weekend that
there really was not going to be a deal.
But the super committee interestingly waited until after the stock
market closed to make their failure official. The leaders of the super
committee released a statement less than an hour after the stock market
closed saying, quote, "After months of hard work and intense deliberations,
we`ve come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any
bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee`s
So, hey, bipartisanship in Congress still doesn`t work to solve big
problems right now. Not even bipartisanship in small groups given lots of
power. Not even when you put adjectives like super in front of their
The real question is what happens to the big problems that are not
being solved no matter the gimmick?
In this case, deficit cutting deal is one -- the deficit cutting deal
here is one that was already made -- $1.2 trillion is due to be cut from
the deficit one way or another. The sad little super meaningless committee
was just supposed to figure out how to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit.
The bill that passed Congress that President Obama signed that created the
super committee requires that $1.2 trillion in cuts starts in 2013. If the
super committee doesn`t figure it out, if congress doesn`t pass something
to cut that much, then automatic cuts kick in. Automatic cuts in defense
and domestic spending are triggered by Congress failing.
The committee`s statement announcing they failed to reach a deal
today, Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Republican
Congressman Jeff Hensarling of Texas said they hope that Congress would
build in the work that they did manage to do and find some way to move
Meanwhile, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are
trying to figure out a way to get everybody out of this mess. They`re
trying to figure out a way to undo the trigger, to undo the bill that was
already passed and signed into law. They say they`re writing legislation
to prevent those automatic cuts from ever going into effect. Same goes for
Congressman Buck McKeon, who was the chairman of the Armed Services
Committee in the House. He`s already vowed to eliminate any automatic
However, it looks like he will have to get around House Speaker John
Boehner. Speaker Boehner says he does feel bound by the automatic cuts
because, quote, he says, "It was part of the agreement."
It should also be noted that all of these guys are going to have to
get around the president who had this to say about efforts to get out of
this deficit deal, now that Congress has decided they maybe don`t like it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the question right
now is whether we can reduce the deficit in a way that helps the economy
grow, that operates with a scalpel, not with a hatchet. And if not,
whether Congress is willing to stick to the painful deal we made in August
for the automatic cuts. Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these
automatic spending cuts.
My message to them is simple: No, I will veto any effort to get rid of
those automatic spending cuts, domestic and defense spending. There will
be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to
compromise. Not turn off the pressure.
The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if congress
gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at
least $1.2 trillion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: My message to them is simple: no. You guys want to get out
of this deal that was going to force you to get some work done -- you want
to get out of the deal that forced you to get some work done? No. You
either get some work done or the triggers happen. This is what`s called a
line in the sand.
MADDOW: OK. "Best New Thing in the World Today," on a day when all
of the headlines out of D.C. are about failure in Congress, the inevitable
collapse of an effort to make an ad hoc subgroup of Congress take on work
that the whole Congress couldn`t handle. On a day when every Washington
headline is about failure, failure, failure.
Also, today, there was success, really, in Washington. President
Obama today signing into law the only jobs legislation this Congress has
been able to pass this year. It gives companies tax incentives to hire
veterans. It gives them extra incentives to hire disabled veterans.
If you want to look at this from a glass half empty perspective, yes,
it is ridiculous that this Congress has only been able to pass one jobs
bill the whole year. But you know what, from a glass half full
perspective? Hey, the veterans jobs bill got passed with huge bipartisan
measures of support.
This was a big priority for groups like Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America and congratulations are due to them and other veteran service
organizations today. But congratulations to also due to Congress and to
the president -- and we never get to say that anymore.
So for all of us, it`s a good Thanksgiving week reminder, on the
shortest, darkest November days, the sun rises and shines and sometimes
things work, even in Washington. "Best New Thing in the World Today."
That does it for us tonight. It`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with
Have a great night.
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