THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 9, 2012
Guest: Dabo Adegbile
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: All right. Thanks to you at home as well for
joining us this hour.
It was a huge news day in Washington today. You sort of expect after
a national president election, that you get a few days of afterglow,
letting it all sink in with no big new things happening. And if maybe that
was the way it went over the last couple days, that definitely ended today.
Starting with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you,
everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Now that those of us on the campaign trail have had a chance to get a
little sleep, it`s time to get back to work. And there`s plenty of work to
do. As I said on Tuesday night, the American people voted for action, not
politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.
And in that spirit, I have invited leaders of both parties to the
White House next week so we can start to build consensus around the
challenges that we can only solve together. In a time when our economy is
still recovering from the great recession, our top priority has to be jobs
and growth. That`s the focus of the plan that I talked about during the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama, of course, spoke publicly the night that he
won his second term when he gave his big victory speech in Chicago.
Thereafter, though, I mean, he did speak privately to some campaign
volunteers in Chicago. We likely would have never known about that or seen
any tape of those remarks if not for the fact that the president, while
speaking with volunteers, he did something which he almost never does. He
choked up and he started crying when he was thanking his volunteers and so
that tape ended up being very widely seen.
But that was not a public event, and today`s remarks in the East Room
of the White House were the first time that President Obama has made an
official public statement of any kind since election night.
And you could tell that in part by the huge round of applause he got
as he walked into the room. Applause from people who are invited to attend
the speech and from a bunch of White House staffers who may not have seen
the president and the vice president since they earned themselves another
term and ensured all of those White House staffers continuing employment at
the White House for the next four years. So needless to say, everybody in
the room was all very happy to see him.
In these remarks that he gave today, though, the president proposed
that Congress act right now to extend the Bush tax cuts that are due --
Bush tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of the career. The
president said Democrats and Republicans both agree that those tax cuts
should be extended for all income under a quarter million dollars a year.
And so, he said Congress should pass legislation to just do that right now
since everybody agrees on it, even if the two sides are likely to keep
fighting about what the tax rate should be for income above a quarter
million dollars a year.
He`s essentially saying let`s take action on what we agree on. And
let`s keep debating on what we disagree on.
The president, in fact, took his pen dramatically out of his pocket
and waved it in the air at one point in these remarks today. He said he
was ready to sign a bill doing that extension of the bush tax cuts right
now. That moment from him was going to be the biggest news today -- until
exactly one hour and 45 minutes later when Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief
foreign affairs correspondent, broke into MSNBC programming at 2:51 this
afternoon with a remarkable scoop.
You know, everybody in -- everybody in Washington, everybody in
politics right now is so focused on figuring out what`s going to happen in
the Obama administration`s second term. There are two components to that.
One of them is policy and fighting stuff out with Congress, like you saw
the president addressed in those remarks today in the East Room.
But the other side of it, the other side of what everybody is obsessed
with right now is: who is the Obama administration for the president`s
And when Andrea Mitchell got on the air today at 2:51 p.m. and
announced that General David Petraeus was resigning unexpectedly and
immediately as head of the CIA, that second question in Washington, the
question of who is going to hold the most important jobs in the Obama
administration now, who is going to run the country on a day-to-day basis -
- this thing that everybody knows is going to change, at 2:51 today when
Andrea got on the air, that stuff started to change already when Andrea
Mitchell broke this news about General Petraeus.
We`re going to speak with Richard Engel about this in just a moment in
terms of what the news from David Petraeus means for the running of that
part of the government. We`re also talking directly with Andrea about her
But in order to appreciate how big a deal this is, how surprising it
is, how not just consequential but potentially further consequential this
thing is that happened today, you should know before this was a reportable
story, before it was clear what had actually happened and that Andrea was
going to report the reasons for him resigning, we were hearing all sorts of
things about the potential reasons why he might being resigning. I mean,
maybe he had political differences with President Obama. He had to resign
because of some huge political disagreement.
It was rumored before Andrea`s report that maybe General Petraeus had
been in talks to take a job with the Romney administration. He had been
plotting that move behind President Obama`s back and that disloyalty was
the reason he had to go.
There was speculation that General Petraeus was going to have to step
down because of something related to the Benghazi consulate attack, which
he was scheduled to testify about next week before Congress.
Before this was a reportable story and we knew for sure that he was
going and why, the theories and the breathless speculation about why David
Petraeus was resigning from the CIA went all the way up to and included the
idea that maybe he was stepping down to start running as a Republican for
president in 2016 right now.
Until we knew what happened, people were crawling up the walls about
this announcement from David Petraeus today.
And then Andrea broke the story and David Petraeus, it turns out, is
leaving the CIA because he had an extramarital affair. It was a personal
matter -- just an unbelievable news day today.
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs
correspondent and the host of MSNBC`s "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS".
Andrea, congratulations on this scoop. Thanks for being here.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well,
I have to tell you. I don`t take any pleasure in this.
MITCHELL: In the sense that this is really a personal tragedy. And
there are families involved. People involved on all sides. And the men
and women of the CIA, an agency that has many things to be proud about,
many things to be proud about that, and that is under fire right now for
MADDOW: Are you totally confident that this affair, this personal
matter is the full reason why General Petraeus resigned today? And in so
answering, I mean, are we sure that something like that would force him to
resign this job?
MITCHELL: I am. I have that confidence. We had worked for 24 hours
on this story. And as it was evolving in talking to so many people in and
out of government, and having covered General Petraeus myself here and
overseas, I am absolutely convinced from all the communications I have had
from people directly involved that this was a matter of honor. That he
felt he had to offer his resignation.
The president said to him, I want to take 24 hours to think about it.
There was a lot involved.
I think absent the FBI investigation, which we are told by law
enforcement officials is very, very unlikely to lead to any criminal
charges, that is an issue that has to be investigated because there were
secure communications involved and there are classification rules.
But absent that investigation, I`m not sure whether he could have
soldiered through -- a pun I probably should not make, and not have to
resign. Perhaps the president would have not accepted the resignation.
Dianne Feinstein said she wished the president had not accepted the
resignation. She very strongly believes that he was a key and essential
piece of the national security community and of this administration.
So I`m not sure whether the personal transgression, although there is
a code of honor. And he felt strongly that he had frankly screwed up. And
he had to pay the consequences.
And after 24 hours and clearly consulting his colleagues, other people
in the national security community, don`t know who else, the president
agreed and accepted it on the phone in a conversation this afternoon.
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, congratulations on this reporting that led
to this scoop. I take your point this is not something to be enthusiastic
about having uncovered, given the tragic nature of the news -- but your
reporting on this was absolutely cutting edge. Thank you for joining us to
help us understand it tonight.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let`s bring in NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard
Engel for more.
Richard, I know you have been reporting on some other developments
about this case. And Andrea mentioned the role of the FBI investigation in
terms of how this came to light. What can you tell us?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: We know the
facts. And the facts are that this afternoon, General Petraeus, CIA
director, came out and said he was going to resign because of this
extramarital affair. He didn`t name any names.
And we also know at the same time that the FBI is conducting an
investigation, an ongoing investigation into General Petraeus` biographer,
a woman named Paula Broadwell. And this is a woman who had close access to
General Petraeus and the FBI is looking at the access that she had or was
trying to have to his e-mail accounts, and including potentially classified
As Andrea said, there`s no indication she got very far. That any
classified information was divulged. That there`s not going to be big
criminal charges and no implication that General Petraeus himself was under
investigation for passing along any secrets.
But that`s what we learned about the FBI`s piece in this.
MADDOW: And is it your understanding or is it our understanding that
the FBI investigation into that side of it is the reason that this had to
happen today and with some urgency it was going to become widely known if
not publicly known?
ENGEL: We haven`t been able to confirm that direct link. We have
spoken to law enforcement officials who have made a roundabout link into
this. But no one has said that the reason he`s stepping down is because
there was an FBI investigation into this woman as he`s announcing his
The timing piece of it, while this FBI investigation may have been a
factor, we haven`t been told that it was thee factor that led him to make
this announcement today.
MADDOW: With -- absent the investigation, had that not happened, the
fact of the affair, would that be dangerous enough to somebody in the job
as being head of the CIA that that would force a resignation because of the
threat of blackmail or anything else that might compromise him?
ENGEL: We did speak to law enforcement officials. They said that
blackmail is a concern whenever you have this kind of conversation,
whenever you have the CIA director, who has all of the nation`s secrets on
his computer. When you have him talking about extramarital affair, they
said that blackmail is something that they are immediately concerned about.
And they didn`t say in this case they had found any evidence about specific
attempts at blackmail.
But that`s obviously a concern. When you`re having someone probing
around the CIA director`s e-mail and the CIA is talking about openly having
had an extramarital affair, it leaves you in a vulnerable position.
MADDOW: In terms of David Petraeus in this specific role, obviously,
he`s most known for his role in the Iraq war and then going to Afghanistan,
President Obama dispatched him to Afghanistan after General Stanley
McChrystal was fired -- had to resign there because of other kinds of
personal indiscretions. But how important was Petraeus leadership
specifically at the CIA? How big a blow is this to the agency?
ENGEL: He actually wasn`t very popular in certain circles inside the
CIA. His own personal security staff, and this we`ve heard from multiple
sources, not just today, but over the last several weeks, didn`t really
They thought he brought in his own people. He was not an insider from
the CIA. The CIA is a bit of an old-fashioned club. They like it if you
come up through the ranks.
There was some talk that -- one person at the CIA and one person
formerly at the CIA put it to me this way: the CIA would have had to ask
the FBI to look into e-mails that were suspicious.
ENGEL: So the CIA handles its own security. The FBI would have had
to have been brought in to examine somebody suspiciously trying to pry into
the director`s account, which does not suggest a real warmth within the
MADDOW: This is an incredible resignation with incredible timing. I
have a feeling as we get more detail as it goes forward, this could become
an even more important story.
Richard Engel, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent -- thank you. I have
a feeling we`ll be talking about this again shortly.
All right. Hey, who is in charge of the Republican Party now? Simple
question with a very difficult answer. That`s coming up and more.
MADDOW: Hey. So, beyond the first appearance of the president since
the election and the shocking surprise resignation of General Petraeus as
head of the CIA, there was another bomb shell dropped late today from the
United States Supreme Court. Big news day today. That`s ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Another question about a fire brand in his
party. The man who ran for vice president, still congressman, Paul Ryan.
Congressman Paul Ryan, is he the leader of the Republican Party now?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, I wouldn`t think
so. Paul Ryan is a policy guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, I wouldn`t think so.
John Boehner laughing in the face of the idea that the leader of the
Republican Party from here on out might be Paul Ryan. Ha, that guy?
The Republican Party picking its new face, its new leader after their
electoral disaster this week, that is going to be an amazing thing to watch
over the next few weeks, months, years. I mean, here`s just a case in
point. It was an overall electoral disaster for Republicans to lose the
presidency, right? I mean, it was thought to be impossible for them to
lose the presidency. Nobody since the Great Depression has been reelected
as president with an unemployment rate like the one we have now.
But Barack Obama managed to do it, or the Republicans managed to blew
it, depending on how you look at it. But just take as a case in point, the
tremendous Republican disaster in the United States Senate. I mean, they
had a bad night on Tuesday night. But in the Senate, I mean, it was a sure
bet that the Republicans were supposed to retake control of the Senate this
year -- a sure bet.
They are only defending 10 seats and the Democrats were defending 23.
That`s a tilted playing field like this. And not only did the Republicans
not retake the Senate, the Democrats held on to control and increased their
margins. That`s impossible. That is an impossible Republican failure in a
year like this.
And the depth of that failure is bottomless. I mean, look at how they
failed the more astonishing it is how badly they failed. Not only did Mitt
Romney lose the presidency, but in terms of losing Republican Senate
candidates in 11 states, the Republican Senate candidates did even worse
with voters than Mitt Romney did in those states, Mitt Romney who lost.
The country said no to Mitt Romney this week, but they said, oh, no,
no, no to Republican Senate candidates. It was a catastrophe from North
Dakota to Florida and everywhere in between. Who was to blame for that?
That is not esoteric matter. There is actually a named person in
charge of making sure Republicans win Senate seats. There`s somebody in
charge of that for every election, and that specific person in this
election obviously failed catastrophically. That specific person is named
And today, the Republican Party appears ready to respond to his
atrocious failure at this job this week, by giving Mr. Cornyn a promotion.
He`s getting a reward for nearly shooting the moon in the Senate, for doing
as bad as humanly possible at the last job the Republican Party gave him.
The Republican Party moving forward apparently would like him to be the
number two Republican in the whole Senate, right behind Mitch McConnell.
And that is called failing up, which is amazing on its own terms, in terms
of Republicans in the Senate.
But I think we also should wonder if that is instructive for how the
Republican Party is going to deal with the overall question of who their
leader is and what they stand for after this electoral drubbing they took
in this week`s election.
"The Washington Post" reporting today that the Republican Party is
going to undertake a big internal review of what went wrong on Tuesday. It
will reportedly take place over the next few weeks and months, spearheaded
by the Republican Party national officials.
The goal of the review is to determine, quote, "what went so wrong and
how to fix it". Good idea. Yes, let`s review.
And it`s a good idea because the informal process so far of the right
trying to figure out what went wrong for Republicans this election, that
informal process so far is not going well. Republicans have so far decided
that hurricane Sandy is the reason Mitt Romney lost. They have also
decided that fact checking is the reason Mitt Romney lost.
Karl Rove said it`s Democratic voter suppression is the reason Mitt
Romney lost. Really?
There`s also a satirical blog post, a piece of comedy written about
military votes not being counted. And that got the right excited that that
was the reason Mitt Romney lost until they realized that blog post was
satire. The Republican effort so far to diagnose what went wrong on
Tuesday, why Mitt Romney lost, that effort has not gone very well.
Take conservative columnist and FOX News talking head Charles
Krauthammer. In "The Washington Post" today, Mr. Krauthammer took a stab
at diagnosing what ails the Republicans now. Specifically, he assessed why
the Republican Party has an issue with women voters. And this was his
assessment, quote, "The problem here for Republicans is not policy but
delicacy -- speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically
complex issues with reflection and prudence."
Republicans don`t have a policy problem when it comes to women`s
issues, in other words. They just speak about their policy preferences
with insufficient delicacy. See, women don`t mind that this is how
Republicans are governing with respect to women`s rights. They just like
to hear that their rights are being repealed in more flowery prose.
I mean, the Krauthammer diagnosis is that Republicans should just find
a more delicate way to describe things like mandatory medically,
unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds at the order of Bob McDonnell. You
can say that more softly. You can say it in cursive, if you want to. But
it`s still going to bring protesters out on to the streets to line your
walk of shame into the building from which you are trying to govern that
In Ohio, Mitt Romney lost women by 11 points. He lost the state. He
lost the presidency.
Since Republicans are telling themselves that the gender gap has
nothing to do with policy, you want to know what Ohio Republicans have done
since the election on Tuesday? Ohio Republicans today said they`re going
to reintroduce their bill from last session to ban almost all abortions in
Ohio. That should take care of your problem with women voters.
The Republican Party right now finds itself at a crossroads once
again. In the year 2000, we knew George Bush`s choice of vice president,
Dick Cheney, would never himself run for president. I mean, not healthy
enough, not young enough, not popular enough. We knew 12 years ago that
George Bush was coming into office with no heir apparent, with no obvious
Since the end of George W. Bush`s two terms in office, the most
interesting thing in all of American politics has been watching the
Republican Party try to figure out who their leader would be post George W.
Bush. We knew it would never be Dick Cheney.
It did not end up being John McCain. It definitely did not end up
being Sarah Palin. For awhile it looked like it would be Michael Steele
when they picked him to run the party. Maybe? No.
How about John Boehner? Speaker of the House -- previous speakers
have been able to fashion that job into a national leadership role. But
John Boehner has not done that. I mean, no disrespect, but nobody thinks
of him as the leader of the Republican Party.
Mitt Romney did have that job. Mitt Romney for awhile was the leader
of the Republican Party. We can prove it with evidence.
This past June, President Obama walked out into the Rose Garden and
announced he was going to stop the deportation of kids who were here
without papers through no fault of their own. When President Obama
announced that, Beltway reporters immediately went to the Republican
leaders in congress to see what`s the official response from that? What`s
the official Republican position on that issue?
And here`s what the reporters were told by the Republicans in
Congress. Quote, "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday
that GOP lawmakers will wait for Mitt Romney to take the lead on
immigration policy. Quote, `Most members are interested in what Romney has
to say about this issue and we`re going to withhold judgment, most of us,
until that time,` McConnell said."
Mr. Romney was not just the de facto leader of the Republican Party.
He was the stated leader of the Republican Party. Now that he`s lost the
presidency, obviously nobody thinks that Mitt Romney going forward is going
to continue to play the role of leader of the Republican Party.
"The Boston Globe", in fact, reported this week that Mr. Romney is
likely to move to La Jolla, California, to spend more time with his car
elevator, presumably. But in Mitt Romney`s short time as leader of the
Republican Party, when he was their presidential nominee, he made
leadership decisions about the party. About what the party is like, about
what the party looks like to the rest of the country. He made leadership
decisions particularly in terms of who he would dignify with his embrace,
who among everybody in the Republican Party he, Mitt Romney, leader of the
party would privilege, who he would elevate.
He elevated guys like Kris Kobach, the Republican guy who wrote
Arizona`s controversial "papers please" immigration law. He was Mitt
Romney`s immigration adviser. He made and then kept as his national
campaign chairman and his most ubiquitous campaign surrogate a man named
John Sununu, who called President Obama lazy and not very bright and said
President Obama needs to, quote, "learn how to be an American." Mitt
Romney`s national campaign chairman.
Mr. Romney also elevated and dignified by his presence, I`m sorry to
have to say the name, but this guy, Donald Trump. Mitt Romney as the
leader of the Republican Party, as their presidential standard bearer, flew
out to Las Vegas to personally receive Donald Trump`s endorsement.
Mr. Romney`s running mate Paul Ryan held special in-person events with
Donald Trump. Donald Trump did robocalls for the Romney campaign
throughout the campaign and he wasn`t freelancing. Mitt Romney asked him
to do it.
Mitt Romney did have the leadership reins of the Republican Party for
a brief moment as their presidential candidate. And what he did with that
position of leadership is going to haunt the Republican Party`s prospects
of being taken seriously for a long time to come.
So the question now, as it has been for many years now is, who`s next?
Who runs that party? Who is their leader now?
MADDOW: One unaffiliated candidate made a mark on the 2012 election.
He`s an Englishman who did not spend a nickel on a campaign or give one
speech. He`s an Englishman by the name of Charles Darwin who made the most
excellent mark of anyone on any ballot across the country this year. That
excellent story and an accompanying beverage, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARALENE JONES, WFTV (voice-over): We pressed the governor today and
he refused to admit he made a mistake and dodged my question about it over
and over again.
(on camera): Do you regret not extending early voting?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Well, you know what`s great about our
state is people got out to vote. What we`re doing is the right thing. The
right thing happened. We had a big Election Day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Boy, did they ever in Florida. That was reporter Daralene
Jones from WFTV in Orlando trying to get an answer from Florida Governor
Rick Scott about this. Voters stuck in line for eight hours and more in
polling places around the state of Florida after Governor Scott cut the
days for early voting and refused to add any of them back when the lines
were that long. He says it all worked fine. The right thing happened.
Florida officials say the lines pop up mostly in big cities with
diverse population. They say that as if that`s self-explanatory in terms
of why you got long lines.
But, serious, Florida officials -- have you guys been to L.A., Los
Angeles? Really big city. Really diverse.
We have been getting letters from people who vote in California where
they opened tons and tons of polling places that serve much smaller groups
of voters than the way you deal with it in Florida. In California, for
example, they vote at the Neptune Society Columbarium. They vote in their
neighbor`s garage. They voted at headquarters of the Venice Beach
lifeguards in Los Angeles.
What Californians do not do, not generally, is stand in line and wait
eight hours to vote.
After the cake splat of an election in Florida and several other
states, we`re watching for ideas about how to fix our broken election
system. Election law expert Rick Hasen says we should declare Florida an
election disaster area and bring in the feds. He says Congress should
nationalize the running of elections for every state, with voter
registration that follows you for life and the option of using your
thumbprint as ID at the polls.
The Brennan Center for Justice is recommending that Congress require
early voting in every state, the same amount, and set a standard for number
of voting machines so every polling place has enough to go around.
If you want to take the long view, Senator Hillary Clinton`s old Count
Every Vote Act is kicking around from 2005. Then-Senator Clinton wanted to
declare a federal holiday for voting. She wanted to send money to the
states for modernizing their elections.
Here`s just an idea from me, but how about when Hillary Clinton
finishes up her time as secretary of state, about she and former Supreme
Court Justice Sandra Day O`Connor lead a commission on reform, a national
nonpartisan election reform commission? I would be for that. Who would be
We`re getting to a point we can`t ignore the failings of our election
system. We can`t guarantee the vote to citizens and then ask those
citizens in states around the country to stand in lines that start before
dawn and end after midnight. We cannot guarantee citizens the right to
vote and then look at these pictures and call it good. We cannot. It is
beyond our national conscious to accept this scandal as the state of the
franchise, even if you are in the political party that stands to profit
from making voting harder.
These images are beyond our national conscious. And yet, because
voting is a federal issue and elections are administered by the states, we
do not have federal leverage over how elections are conducted. About the
only leverage we have as a country federally is the Voting Rights Act
passed in 1965 to make sure that African-Americans could vote.
You want to see the lines at the polls? Look at this. "Bloomberg
News" dug up this old photo today. This is Birmingham, Alabama, in 1966.
The first big election held in the South since Congress passed -- after
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act puts the
states in the old confederacy under special scrutiny because those states
and other places earned special scrutiny on account of their past behavior.
The Voting Rights Act is there to make sure Texas doesn`t wrongly
purge its voter rules or Mississippi doesn`t start requiring new forms of
ID that make people unable to vote who should be allowed to vote. It`s not
much, but the Voting Rights Act is more or less what we have in terms of
federal leverage, federal enforcement for the right to vote.
Today, on a day that could not have been a bigger news day any way,
today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they are going to hear a
challenge to the Voting Rights Act, to the central part of it. The lead
plaintiff in the case is Shelby County, Alabama, just outside Birmingham.
They`d like that special scrutiny to please go away. They`d like to handle
Joining me now is Debo Adegbile. He`s the acting president and
director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Mr. Adegbile, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
DEBO ADEGBILE, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE & EDUCATIONAL FUND: It`s good to
be with you.
MADDOW: You defended the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court
the last time it was challenged in 2009. How serious a threat does this
case pose to the Voting Rights Act?
ADEGBILE: I think it`s a serious threat. Any time a core civil
rights statute is before the Supreme Court, testing its constitutionality,
we need to wake up and focus on it. So, we`re not happy that the case is
back there. We don`t think it needed to be there. But we`re prepared to
defend it as we have successfully in the past.
MADDOW: Is the -- am I right to describe the Voting Rights Act,
particularly the parts of it that are being challenged with this case, as
sort of maximum point of federal leverage over whether or not the states do
right in administering our elections?
ADEGBILE: I think it`s really a core protection. It`s a fundamental
piece of the whole civil rights canon. And so many civil rights statutes
are based on the model and the decisions upholding the Voting Rights Act.
So, it`s really amongst the most important statutes, not only civil
rights statutes, but statutes of any kind that our federal legislature has
MADDOW: I am struck by the timing here. I mean, I don`t understand
the inner workings of the Supreme Court to know enough about why they would
make an announcement about a case like this kind on this kind of a time
frame. I`m struck by the timing just because of what else happened this
week in our national elections. Is it -- should I -- is it just a
ADEGBILE: Well, it`s hard to know. We won`t know until we get to the
justice`s writings years after they retire about the timing. There was an
appeal that was working its way to the court. We were looking for a ruling
or a decision to hear the case possibly before the election.
Ultimately, it didn`t come until after the election. And so it`s hard
to say what`s in the timing. But the fact of the matter is, you never want
this type of challenge before the Supreme Court because this is a core
aspect of our nation`s march toward progress.
MADDOW: If you could change election law, if you could at least
advise Congress about how to change election law, what could be done at the
federal level, are there things that could be done that would dramatically
protect the franchise better than it`s protected now?
ADEGBILE: Absolutely. The first thing we shouldn`t do is take down
those protections that we`ve had, which is the issue presented in this
case. What we need are more protections, not fewer. And the recent
activity across the country targeted at many communities tells us we need
There are some big things to do -- universal registration or some type
or registration that allows 18-year-olds to be registered when they have
their birthday. Something modeled on selective service registration or the
like but applies across the board. That would be very helpful.
Expand early voting, right? Let`s not have those lines because we
have a bigger period when people can exercise their franchise. I think
that would be important.
And another thing we saw this time in the elections that we don`t need
to have is this idea that people can go to the polls and challenge voters
on Election Day. That sort of an anachronistic piece of the voting story -
- and let`s not have people there intimidating voters. Challenges can be
done long before election time and let the folks that administer elections
have everybody vote.
MADDOW: And on -- let`s take specifically that piece about early
voting, because that`s on people`s minds now because of the restrictions on
early voting, that really had -- the Republican officials that restricted
early voting this year never made an argument for why they are restricting.
They just said, we have enough time. We have enough time. We have enough
time. They never made a case for why they needed to get rid of the time
that was there.
What about the division of labor, the jurisdictional division of labor
between Congress saying we ought to have more early voting in every state
in the country and the states asserting their own rights to run elections
as they see fit? How do you see that both morally and legally breaking
ADEGBILE: So in a sense that comes back to the Voting Rights Act.
The ideas that were used to advance the discrimination against minority
voters in Birmingham and other places was this idea of states rights, that
the states can administer their elections and even interpret the
Constitution in the way they see fit and that there wasn`t a uniform
federal standard. The Voting Rights Act was a definitive answer to that
question, that the Constitution must be followed and it`s not for the
states to pick and choose. It was an important turning point.
And so I think there is a federal role to play, certainly in federal
elections, to bring greater uniformity, what we want as Americans is more
voting. We want to invite people to the party. Not dissuade them.
MADDOW: What do you think of my Sandra Day O`Connor-Hillary Clinton
ADEGBILE: I`m all for it.
Debo Adegbile, you were a guy who does not persuade easily, I know,
because of your line of work. Thank you for being here. It`s great to
have you here. Thanks.
ADEGBILE: Thanks so much. Great to be here.
MADDOW: All right. The best write-in campaign of a person no longer
living of all time, coming up with a drink. Hold on.
MADDOW: Breaking news -- legitimately breaking news. We have a call
to make in a governors race that we had previously not been able to call.
NBC News can now project that in the great state of Washington, the new
governor of the state will be the Democratic former Congressman Jay Inslee.
Mr. Inslee`s opponent, Republican Rob McKenna, has conceded the race.
Mr. Inslee succeeds Christine Gregoire, also a Democrat, who served
two terms as Washington governor, but chose not to turn for a third.
So, again, Jay Inslee is the new governor of Washington state. Like
many contest this year, it was close and then the Democrat won.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Normally, if you get hurt, the worst case scenario is you
have to go to the hospital, right? But when the hospital is the thing that
is hurt, then what do you do?
Right now in New York, there are three hospitals that were so damaged,
they have yet to reopen since hurricane Sandy. And that includes the
veterans hospital in Manhattan, which as of this past week, looked like
this. That`s a lot of water where water is not supposed to be.
According to V.A. officials who visited the site, the only MRI machine
at the hospital is flooded and lost. The fire suppression system, the
whole electrical system, the mechanical systems were all knocked out at the
veterans hospital. The basement and ground floor were flooded.
One tiny silver lining here is that the building was reportedly
structurally sound. It doesn`t need to be knocked down. But when the V.A.
Secretary Eric Shinseki visited the damaged hospital today, his agency
could not say when they expect the hospital to reopen, this incredibly
important facility. So Manhattan veterans now are being rerouted to
Brooklyn and Queens.
The V.A.`s regional office in New York is also closed down still due
to damage from the storm. Inside, it is a mess. The V.A. and veterans
groups are doing what they can, like this mobile center they have set up to
provide some of the counsels and jobs help that the V.A. would usually
provide from its shut-down facilities.
They set up this temporary pharmacy at the damaged V.A. hospital.
This picture was taken today. The storm hit last Monday.
The impact of this storm hitting veterans in particular so directly
with this double whammy, the V.A. office and the V.A. hospital still being
shut down, it`s kind of hard to fathom.
But this Sunday is Veterans Day, which means more than ever it`s time
to fathom it and give props for the way veterans have been dealing with
this particular hardship that hit them specifically in this storm.
Veterans have been volunteering in huge numbers to help everybody
else. That`s Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America out in the
Rockaways. Also, there`s a group called Team Rubicon, a group of veterans
from all over the country that volunteers as a group wherever and whenever
a natural disaster hits. They have been in New York and New Jersey and the
whole region hit by the storm for over a week now.
On Sunday, this Sunday, Veterans Day, hundreds more veterans are
expected to join them, cleaning up this devastated part of the country,
that coordinated storm relief effort is what veterans are doing on Veterans
Day, which is the day we`re supposed to honor them.
If you want to help out yourself or donate or if you just want to
attend a Veterans Day parade this Sunday, we have posted links you might
find helpful for doing that stuff at MaddowBlog.com, including some special
resource links for veterans who are here in the storm-affected areas who
have been making due with this incredible double whammy of no V.A. hospital
for the foreseeable future in Manhattan, and no regional office
Happy Veterans Day, everybody. It`s an unusually tough one in this
part of the country. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD AKIN (R-MO), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: It seems to me, first of
all, from what I understand from doctors, that`s really rare. If it`s a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: From what I understand from doctors. That guy Todd Akin is
no more in politics. He lost his Senate bid against Claire McCaskill in
Missouri by 16 points. And in order to run for the Senate seat that he
lost, he had to give up his House seat in Missouri.
So come January, Todd Akin will be gone from national politics. But
until then, consider that this guy, this guy who has the magical qualities
of rapist sperm, which he says he learned from doctors, this guy, until he
has gone from the House, will retain his seat on the House Science
Committee. The Republican Party put Todd Akin on the Science Committee in
Also, old Roscoe Bartlett who just lost his seat. Mr. Bartlett was
the one who said rape hardly ever causes pregnancies. He knows that
because -- well, he knows. But he`s quite sure that`s true.
The Republicans put Todd Akin and Roscoe Bartlett on the Science
Committee in Congress. Such is the Republican Party`s respect for science.
And since the Republicans did hold on to the House this year, the
Republicans still get to determine the membership of the House Science
Do you want to know who they`re going to put in charge of it?
(BEGINV IDEO CLIP)
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: We don`t know what those other
cycles were caused by in the past. It could be dinosaur flatulence, you
know, or who knows, you know? But we do know that the CO2 in the past had
its time when it was greater as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dana Rohrabacher. Republicans say they may put the dinosaur
farts guy in charge of the Science Committee for Congress.
Or instead, they might choose this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: CO2 is a natural case. Now,
does this mean that all of us very to put catalytic converters on our noses
so there`s no CO2 that escapes every time we exhale?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner went on to say that it is
propaganda that people think there`s anything bad about carbon emissions.
And he should know from propaganda, since the place he was speaking at when
he said that, when he said that thing about sticking catalytic converters
up all our noses, where he was when he was saying that was at the Heartland
Institute. The Heartland Institute is the group that put up these
billboards saying if you believe in global warming, you`re the Unabomber.
So those are the two members of Congress House Republicans are
choosing between to lead the House of Representatives on matters of
Another Republican member of the Science Committee who his race and
will therefore presumably be rejoining his colleagues there is this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I`ve come to understand that all that
stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory,
all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it`s lies to try and
keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they
need a savior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Embryology is lies from the pit of hell. That guy is
Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia. And on Tuesday, he won back his House
seat and therefore his place on the House Science Committee. There was no
suspense about Paul Broun`s reelection because he ran unopposed.
But in a development worthy of national recognition, maybe a national
round of applause, I need to tell you that nearly 4,000 of Paul Broun`s
constituents went into the voting booth on Tuesday and decided that just
voting for unopposed Paul Broun, or instead of just not voting for anybody
in that race, nearly 4,000 people in his district decided they would write
in a worthy opponent for him.
Nearly 4,000 in his district went into the voting booth on Tuesday and
wrote in the name Charles Darwin -- instead of voting for the evolution is
lies from the pit of hell guy -- which is maybe as good a reminder as we
are ever going to get in this country that it is not just when things seem
dire that we should hope for improvement. Sometimes even when things go
great, good-bye Todd Akin, sometimes there is still room for yet more good
news on top of something you already thought was pretty good.
Even great days sometimes get better, even something, for example, as
great as a whiskey cocktail can be improved. So for a cocktail moment at
the end of a rather stunning week in American politics, here`s how you make
an improved whiskey cocktail.
All right. This is a Jerry Thomas drink that dates back to the 1870s.
And a 19th century whiskey cocktails, what we now call an old fashioned.
An old fashioned is whiskey with sugar and bitters.
An improved whiskey cocktail is an improvement on that. The
improvement is the addition of a couple of other sweetening agents in very
So, where`s my glass? Here it is. We start with absinthe. This is a
weird preparation technique, but it works for me, put a little bit of
absinthe in a glass, I`m not going to measure it because after I swirl it
around and coat the glass with it, I`m going to throw it out, into the
trash, into the sink. You don`t need a lot of it. You just want the
absinthe in the middle of the glass.
OK. So now my glass is prepared. While I`m doing this other part,
will you put ice in there? Right.
So, we`ve got absinthe-rinsed glass that I`m always putting ice in.
Now, in terms of making the rest of the cocktail, two dashes of bitters, a
quarter of an ounce of this delicious thing that old Italian ladies put on
their fruit salad, which is called maraschino. It looks like -- you know
old Italian ladies will do this? Yes, it`s delicious. It looks like
maraschino but they pronounce it maraschino.
And you just want a quarter ounce of this, which is not very much, a
quarter ounce of maraschino, and a quarter ounce of sugar water, otherwise
known as simple syrup. Just sugar and water in equal volume. Oops, too
much -- never do that. There we go. Never pour it back in the thing like
I just did. It`s my home bar right.
All right. Now, the whiskey part. Two ounces of rye whiskey. If you
can get bonded rye, which means it`s 100 proof, you`ll thank me.
All right. So two ounces of rye, a quarter ounce of maraschino, a
quarter of sugar syrup, two dashes of bitters, and oops -- ice. And this
is one of those drinks that you stir instead of shake.
And then you strain it into your delicious absinthe rinsed glass that
Zoey has filled with ice for you because you`re too slow when it comes to
And the finale, what I like to think of as the part where Paul Broun`s
constituents write in Charles Darwin as an opponent for him, even after he
already had a really good week as the liberal is the lemon twist, the
improved whiskey cocktail.
Sometimes even really good things can get better.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday night.
Now, it`s time "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Have a great
weekend. I`m going to spend it with this.
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