THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
December 10, 2012
Guests: Andy Potter, Frank Rich
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW". I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Ed. Thanks my friend.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us tonight.
Do you remember when these billboards went up this year in Ohio and
Voter fraud is a felony, up to three and a half years and a $10,000
fine. The big gavel banging down. So you see, you viscerally feel how
scary this voting thing might be. Be careful with voting. You might go to
jail if you try to vote.
In the weeks before the election this year, an anonymous someone paid
for dozens of these billboards in largely poor, largely minority
neighborhoods in Ohio and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Across the bottom of
the billboard, and in kind of small print, the sign said, quote, paid for
by a private family foundation, a private family foundation, excuse me.
And for a while, that was all that we knew about who was behind these
"be afraid to vote" billboards in mostly black neighborhoods.
The corporation Clear Channel, who sold the ad space on the
billboards, they would not say who this private family foundation was. Our
sister site, "The Grio" later uncovered the name of that private family
foundation. It was a conservative foundation in Wisconsin, headed up by a
husband and wife who were maxed out donors to the Mitt Romney presidential
But then with the billboards though, it didn`t happen for the first
time this year in 2012. The same thing with the very similar billboard
happened in the previous election in the midterms in 2010. See, on the
bottom there, that`s the "voting is scary" billboard from this year. And
above that, that`s the voting is scary billboard that appeared in many of
the same neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, back in 2010 when
Republican Scott Walker was running for governor of Wisconsin.
The 2010 billboards also said in almost the exact same language that
they were paid for by some anonymous private family foundation. But we
learned in October that it was a private family foundation that is run by
now Governor Scott Walker`s campaign chair. So the "voting is scary"
billboards in 2012 were paid for by a foundation belonging to a Wisconsin,
Mitt Romney donor, and the same type of billboard was paid nor in 2010 by a
foundation run by Scott Walker`s campaign chair.
That same foundation from 2010, the one with the intimidating
billboards in the Walker campaign chair, that same foundation it turns out
is also now a major funder of the anti-union rights ambush attack that`s
going on in Michigan right now.
With support from conservative outfits like to Mackinaw foundation and
Americans for Prosperity, both of which are funded by the "be afraid to
vote" billboards guy, Michigan Republicans have turned on a dime since they
lost seats in this last election. They are moving now at lightning speed
to strip union rights in the state of Michigan, unilaterally, immediately,
irreversibly, and without any meaningful chance for debate. It is the
biggest political news in the country.
On the anti-union side of the surprise attack, you will find the right
wing institutes in the Midwest and in the Upper Plains with funding from
the voting is scary foundation. On the other side, fighting to defend
union rights, you`ll find, naturally, unions, which, of course, will be
essentially gotten rid of with this legislation that the Republicans and
their conservative donors are pushing through.
Think about that, right? It`s kind of a striking thing here -- the
raw political side of this. "The Nation" magazine looked into who the
supporters were on both sides of this issue, and they found that the only
competition on the pro-union rights side is the unions themselves, who, of
course, this fight is designed to quash, to make go away. It`s a handy way
of getting your way, right? Existentially erasing your opposition?
It`s the politics of process as much or more than it is the politics
of substance. So, you know, you keep the other side`s voters from voting
somehow. You screw up the district map, so no matter how many more votes
are cast for team A over team B, it`s team B that always wins a majority of
the seats anyway.
You use state law to eliminate the existence of institutions that tend
to support the other party come election time. It`s not about persuading
voters. It`s about the process, right?
It`s about changing the rules of our democracy so you win, even if the
voters like the other side more than they like you. You just keep enough
power and enough legislative seats to restructure the political playing
field the way you want, as fast as you want.
So, Thursday at 11:00 a.m., out of the blue, Governor Rick Snyder of
Michigan announced a press conference at which he reversed his long held
and very publicly held stance against changing union rights in his state.
That was at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday. An hour and a half later, by 12:30
p.m., the capitol police had shut down the capitol building, sealed off the
building so protesters and members of the public could not get in.
By 3:15, bills to strip union rights in the state were taken up in
both chambers of the state legislature. By 4:00, there was a court order
to reopen the state capitol to let the people in again. But before 5:00,
before an hour was up, the House had already voted it through. Then before
8:00, the Senate had voted it through as well, and it was done.
It was done, all in one day that didn`t even start until an hour
before lunch time -- all in one day between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., start
to finish. And tomorrow, after a very minor amount of housekeeping in the
legislature, Governor Rick Snyder says he is going to sign it.
It`s not like this is what the campaign was about. Snyder was against
this. This wasn`t what the legislative race was about this year.
Those bills were never given any sort of hearing. They were never
subject to any sort of committee. They were never put through the
committee process. They were just passed in the parliamentary equivalent
of a blink.
And that is why Lansing, Michigan`s capital, looked like this that
day. Remember, this all happened without warning. And so, all the people
you can see at the state capitol, all the people who turned out that day,
turned out on zero notice, with zero organizing. They just ran to the
capitol as soon as they heard what was going on. And as soon as they heard
what was going on, it was basically done.
So that was the scene on Thursday. If you`re wondering why it was
chaotic, that`s why.
This weekend, supporters of union rights went to trainings on how to
protest peacefully and safely while still getting noticed. Today, there
was a relatively small number of protesters at the state capitol, but they
said that they had just done that to maintain some sort of presence there
in anticipation of what is expected to be a very large scale protest
And into the middle of all of this today stepped the president of the
United States of America. President Obama arrived today in Michigan at
Daimler plant outside of Detroit, to give a speech on the well-being of the
American middle class, and the American economy. And ultimately, what
Republicans are doing right now with no notice in Michigan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we shouldn`t be
doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and
We shouldn`t be doing that. You know, these so-called right-to-work
laws, they don`t have to do with economics. They have everything to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Michigan`s Republican governor, Rick Snyder was invited to
attend the president`s speech today in his state. The governor declined.
He did not show up.
But the governor and the president did speak on the tarmac at the
airport when the president`s plane landed in Michigan, and the length of
their conversation at least makes it appear that it was more than just a
hey, how are you.
On top of all that today, the entire congressional delegation, at
least the Democrats from the Michigan congressional delegation all came
back today to try to save union rights in their state, to try to stop this
speeding train that no one knew was coming. These meetings today with
Governor Snyder asking him to at least slow the process down, if not stop
the process all together.
And while it was all Democrats who met with Governor Snyder today, all
Democrats, from the president on the tarmac to Carl Levin, the senator, to
all those members of Congress, all meeting to try to talk the governor off
this ledge, it was not always like this about union rights in Michigan or
anywhere, but specifically in Michigan. It was not always a Democrat
versus Republican thing.
The specific union rights that Rick Snyder and the Republicans in the
legislature seem to be about to strip in that state were enshrined in
Michigan law in the first place by this guy, former Michigan Governor
George Romney, father of Mitt Romney, revered Republican figure, and
frankly, revered Republican figure and frankly revered figure in Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder`s office is in a building called the George W.
Romney Building. They hold him in high regard there.
Congressman Sander Levin recounted the story today for Greg Sargent at
"The Washington Post" of how union rights were enshrined by Governor George
Congressman Levin met with Governor Romney in the 1960s when Mr. Levin
was a state senator. He says, quote, "We sat there for an hour. The
governor was in a rocking chair with his blue sweater. And he said, `Well,
I think we have resolved all the issues. Let`s proceed.`
The two pieces of legislation that Governor Romney and Democrats in
the legislature passed in 1965 marked a major step forward, major step
forward for labor relations, providing full collective bargaining rights to
public employees and strengthening them for private sector employees. Both
passed on solid bipartisan basis."
Thank you, Mitt Romney`s dad.
But support for union rights isn`t just ancient Republican history, or
ancient conservative history in Michigan. I mean, Governor Snyder and
these guys in the legislature may be unified right now in their efforts to
take away right now union rights that their party once championed.
But as eager as they seem to be to jam through these changes now with
no warning, they have not even bothered to get their own side on their side
in Michigan. Look at "The Detroit Free Press" which endorsed Rick Snyder
They put -- this is the front page of "The Detroit Free Press". They
put a red-framed all but all caps editorial on their front page yesterday.
It is titled "A failure of leadership."
Check this out: "Two years ago, a newly elected Rick Snyder told `The
Free Press` editorial board he was determined to be a new kind of governor,
a pragmatist focused like a laser on initiatives that promise to raise
standards of living for all Michiganders. And until last week, we believe
believed him. For two years, we supported Snyder. We trusted Snyder`s
That trust has now been betrayed.
For us and for the hundreds of thousands of independents who voted for
Snyder with the conviction that they were electing someone more independent
and more visionary than partisan apparatchiks like Wisconsin`s Scott Walker
or Florida`s Rick Scott. The real motive of Michigan`s right-to-work
champions is pure greed, the determination to emasculate once and all the
Democratic Party`s most reliable financial and organizational support.
"Snyder`s right-to-work legalization, excuse me, is an attempt to
institutionalize Republicans` current political advantage. Everything else
is window dressing. Michigan`s governor has abdicated his leadership
responsibilities to Republican legislators bent on vengeance."
And that comes from a paper that endorsed Rick Snyder. They are
supposed to be on his side. Not on this.
Also, a modern Republican governor of Michigan watching the fights
over stripping union rights in turned neighboring states like Ohio and
Wisconsin just inside out these past couple of years, observing that in
neighboring states, one Republican Michigan governor of late said just this
year that Michigan would never make that mistake. He told a U.S. House
committee, "I don`t believe it`s appropriate in Michigan during 2012."
Another time this year, he said, quote, "You look now that they`ve had
those things happen, talk about neighboring states. Do they have a
productive environment to solve problems?"
Not necessarily. They`re still overcoming the decisiveness, the hard
feelings from all of that. That last quote of course was from Rick Snyder,
current governor of Michigan, who is apparently now been convinced that
nothing is too divisive for his state.
What happened to Governor Rick Snyder around so fast on this? And
what is going to happen to Michigan if they pushed this through, as they
say they are going to at lightning speed as early as tomorrow morning with
Joining us now for some insight is Andy Potter. He is a state vice
president in the Michigan Corrections Organizational Labor Union. He is
chair of the SEIU`s Republican Advisory Committee. Mr. Potter himself is a
Republican, which makes me particularly grateful to have a chance to talk
to you tonight.
So thank you for being here.
ANDY POTTER, MICHIGAN CORRECTIONAL ORGNIZATION VP: Absolutely.
MADDOW: You are Republican. Your Republican Party is poised to strip
union rights in a way that they didn`t campaign on, and that nobody really
Why do you support union rights and what do you think is going on with
POTTER: Well, I support union rights because I`ve seen throughout the
years the good that they have done in bringing to light some of the
injustices that happened even in the workplace along with elected
politicians. They create leverage and give regular citizens and middle
class individuals the right to have a say so when it comes to politics and
hold their elected politicians accountable.
And as far as the Republican Party goes, it`s a sad day in Michigan.
They`re going to -- with the swipe of a pen, they`re going to erase many
generations, legacies. And it`s an inheritance that had been passed down
that created the middle class here in Michigan. And that will all be gone
in a day if they have their way.
MADDOW: There used to be a bipartisan consensus in Michigan and in
some cases around the country about basic union rights. Whether or not
people agreed with, you know, economic theories about the power of the
working class and everything, the idea that basic union rights were an
American value used to be something that both sides agreed on.
Why do you think that broke down? Or what have you seen about how
that broke down in Michigan?
POTTER: Well, it`s -- I think it`s obvious to a lot of people that
money has come into the game here in such a way that you have extremely
greedy corporations and others that are absolutely taking over the politics
of today. And it`s disheartening to a lot of Republicans like myself to
see the middle class going down the way it`s going down, and to see the
kind of packaging that they`re putting around this. It`s upsetting to me
and others as well.
MADDOW: Because Governor Snyder had been saying publicly for so long
that he isn`t going to do something like this, and then we saw it move so
fast. Thursday morning, he says actually I`m for doing this now, and by
the time people got ready for dinner that night, it`s done, without any
public debate, without it being an issue in the election.
That speed on it, I guess it injects into this a whole another element
of politics. I know that he had said that he welcomed a dialogue in this
issue. I`m also told you were not able to talk with him as a Republican
and as a union leader.
Has that been a frustrating part of the process?
POTTER: It`s been extremely frustrating. I just went with a simple
message. And the simple message, it doesn`t -- it doesn`t really matter,
Rachel, if you`re a Republican, Democrat, rich, or poor. In Michigan, we
should all look at this and be ashamed and be absolutely outraged at the
way the Republican Party has handled their business.
And to not even communicate that in a way that allows Michigan
citizens to have their say so in this is extremely frustrating. And I
don`t think -- I don`t think they have heard the last of this. I believe
that a lot of folks in Michigan are fed up with it and are going to
continue to hold them accountable for everything they`re doing.
MADDOW: I know that state officials say they`re expecting big
protests at the capitol tomorrow. I know that competing permits have been
issued for different groups. We saw big spontaneous protest there`s on
What do you think is going to be the impact of those protests, of
those demonstrations? Do you think that might have any impact on what
POTTER: You can only hope that it does. We hope that the elected
politicians and Rick Snyder are going to see that Michigan is not going to
just stand by and let this kind of thing go down in Michigan. A lot of
Republican people that I know, friends, relatives and otherwise are going
to show up, and they`re going to voice their opinion on this.
And you can only hope that there is an impact made through that.
MADDOW: Andy Potter of the state vice president of the Michigan
Corrections Organization, which is a labor union, Republican leader of the
SEIU -- Andy, thank you for your time. Good luck with us. Stay in touch
POTTER: Thanks very much.
All right. Still to come tonight, we`ve got Frank Rich here for the
interview. We`ve got some good news, we`ve got some bad news, and we`ve
got some very exciting news about something that somebody from MSNBC did on
television that was really awesome.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Good news and bad news.
Let`s start with the good. You may remember our coverage from a few
weeks ago about hurricane Sandy doing a number on the veterans hospital in
Manhattan. A lot of hospitals took it bad in this storm.
But veterans hospital took it really bad. The basement and the ground
floor were totally flooded. Their only MRI machine was lost to the
saltwater gods. The elevators and the fire protection system were no
longer. The whole electrical system and all the mechanical systems were
Massive, massive damage in a massive facility, which means that the
veterans hospital was one of four hospitals in the city that had to close
down entirely. And that has meant that emergency rooms and other
facilities in the remaining still open hospitals in the city have just been
overwhelmed with a big increase in patients. The whole thing was and is a
Well, when we reported on that dire situation at the veterans hospital
a few weeks ago, the most dire part of it was the prospect that it would
never reopen. They were not even making estimates of when it might open
again, if ever, which is a daunting thing for the largest city in the
country which has a huge concentration of veterans.
But as I said, this is the good news part of it. And there is some
good news here. After refusing to initially say if that hospital was ever
going to come back, the V.A. has finally announced a reopen date for that
hospital. They say they will reopen the outpatient clinic at least at the
Manhattan V.A. Hospital in March.
There is no word yet on when the in-patient facility will be open.
But you know what? For a place that we didn`t know was ever going to
reopen ever, this is not a bad start. So that is the unexpectedly good
Now, the bad news -- the bad news is nationwide bad news. In fiscal
year 2011, so last year, there was an unimaginably bad wait time for
veterans who were coming home and putting in claims at the V.A. for a
So if you are hurt or injure order have an ongoing health consequence
from your deployment, from your time in the service, you come home, you get
out of the military, and then it is time for us, the people of the United
States of America to make good on our promise to you that you`ll get health
care. And that you and your family will be taken care of in terms of your
service-connected disability. It is quite literally the least that we can
do. And we promise to do it.
So last May the wait time for those veterans once they filed, the wait
time to hear anything back from the V.A. was just horrendous. People on
average last year were waiting almost six months to hear anything back.
Last year, six-month wait times. This year, it`s not six months
anymore. This year it`s now nearly nine months. The average amount of
time veterans have to wait for their benefits has over the last year and a
half been going up steadily, every single month.
This summer the V.A. secretary, General Eric Shinseki, said the goal
was to get the wait time down to four months. And instead of going down
even toward four months, it`s going up and up and up and up, to the current
level, which is the longest wait time the V.A. has recorded since they
started recording these numbers, which is 20 years ago.
How can this be? And it`s not just disability claims that are taking
longer to deal with. It`s also education benefits and burial claims and
So, for example, if you`re a veteran, and you do get an initial
response from the V.A., but you want to appeal the decision that they made
about your benefits, your appeal right now is likely to get processed on
average in about two and a half years. And that`s after waiting your
average of nine months for your initial claim that you ended up appealing.
So think about this. You`re just back from the war. You`re injured.
You leave the military.
Average wait times now mean it could take roughly four years to start
to get the benefits that you need and deserve and earned and were promised?
And in the meantime, good luck? Make it on your own for four years?
We have been reporting for a long time now on how bad this problem.
The fact that it is getting worse and not better as time goes on now
requires an explanation. Not to mention a solution. This is now
MADDOW: There is a semi-famous cartoon from "The New Yorker" magazine
by Roz Chast. Do you know the one called "Insomnia Jeopardy"?
It`s genius. The categories of things you think about when you cannot
sleep. Ways in which people have wronged me. Strange noises. Diseases I
probably have. It`s genius, right?
As jeopardy, so it`s why did I say/do that for $50, Alex, at 4:53 a.m.
Roz Chast is a genius. "Insomnia Jeopardy" is a perfect, perfect
And yesterday morning on Sunday morning on national television, in
front of millions of people, there was also a perfect thing done by someone
you know in service of our great nation and our usually kind of lousy
political media. It happened in Washington on a Sunday before noon, and it
did not suck.
I will take who made perfect political television with Newt Gingrich,
Alex, for a thousand. That`s coming up. Hold on.
MADDOW: As the Republican Party and the conservative movement try to
figure out who they are in the wake of this year`s elections and who is in
charge, right, on the conservative cable news network, the FOX News
Channel, it is reported now that the two political analysts most closely
associated with not just wanting Mitt Romney to win the presidential
election, but saying Mitt Romney would win the presidential election, those
two analysts have been benched by cable executives.
One of them is Karl Rove, who famously on election night tried to
convince FOX News-watching Americans that Mitt Romney had not really lost
Ohio. That could not be. Not when he, Karl Rove, had spent $390 million
raised from conservative zillionaires to make sure that never happened.
After that spectacle, Rove`s post-election appearances on FOX News are
apparently being limited.
Same goes for this guy. His name is Dick Morris. He not only said
repeatedly and emphatically that Mitt Romney would win the election, he was
the guy who said Mitt Romney would definitely win in a landslide. He has
apparently been benched at FOX News as well.
That does not mean, however, that Dick Morris is taking a break. Oh,
no. At dickmorris.com today, you can learn about how President Obama is
moving forward on gun control, which given the politics around gun control
would be kind of amazing if it were happening, right?
But of course it is not happening. I mean, Dick Morris says it is
happening, but that is no reason to believe a thing is happening in this
sane, sane world.
Complicating their on-air analyst roles for the FOX News Channel, both
Mr. Rove and Mr. Morris were not just operating as observers on the
election or commentators on the election, they were both active
participants in this election. Both men had their own super PACs invested
in the outcome of the election.
Media Matters took a look at the FEC filings for Mr. Morris`s super
PAC which were released last week, and they found something strange. Here
-- check out Dick Morris`s Web site again. If you get past the gun control
nonsense, if you click through to dickmorris.com/advertisingandinformation,
you can see there if you would like to send e-mails to the rarefied strata
of America who are people who believe things that Dick Morris says, you can
pay to newsmax.com between $10 and $35 for each thousand names to get
access to and use the Dick Morris e-mail distribution list. It`s got about
a half million people on the list.
The minimum order they say is the full list, which means it`s wicked
expensive to e-mail Dick Morris fans with whatever it is you want to e-mail
them about. But if you look at the FEC filings for Dick Morris`s super PAC
that he was operating, his two largest expenditures in the weeks leading up
to the election were a credit card processing company that was handling the
logistics of people who wanted to give him money, and also Newsmax.com,
where you can rent Dick Morris`s e-mail list. And that`s where he spent
his money marked as fundraising.
So based on those reports to the FEC, in terms of what he was spending
his money on that he was getting from people he was sending these email
blast to, the folks at Media Matters surmise that, quote, "A significant
proportion of the super PAC`s money likely went to renting Dick Morris`s
own e-mail list, which is operated by Newsmax Media."
So your money in other words goes to Dick Morris who apparently then
pays it to Newsmax to send e-mails, and then Newsmax maybe just pays it
back to Dick Morris to pay for the e-mail addresses to which they just sent
all of his e-mails.
Nice work if you can get it, right? What these financial reports seem
to indicate is that donations to Dick Morris`s Super PAC substantially end
up just going to Dick Morris, which he presumably uses to send more e-mails
to get more money, which goes to Dick Morris.
This is based on Media Matters` review of these FEC reports from the
end of the last election. And the super PAC of his has been around for the
last couple of years. And maybe it doesn`t always work like this. Maybe
it`s not always a scam.
But this scammy-looking arrangement for the period right before the
presidential election is coming to light right on the heels of a high
profile, eyebrow-raising, sudden and unexpected resignation at another
conservative fundraising juggernaut, FreedomWorks. The Dick Armey
resignation seemed strange from the start, right, when David Corn and Andy
Kroll of "Mother Jones" first broke the story a week ago.
I mean, first of all, there was Dick Armey`s weird resignation letter
that got leaked demanding that his name and likeness not be used in any
FreedomWorks materials. Subsequent to that came the news that Mr. Armey
had arranged for an $8 million golden parachute for himself provided by an
influential Republican fundraiser, which did not seem very grassrootsy at
all for a supposedly grassroots group. He gets $8 million once he leaves.
Subsequent to that emerged the details or at least the allegation of
the relatively scammy reason that Mr. Armey left the group. Politico.com
reporting that the other recognizable guy at FreedomWorks besides Dick
Armey, a guy named Matt Kibbe, had allegedly used FreedomWorks staff and
resources to write his book, even though all the profits from the sale of
the book were just going to him, going to Matt Kibbe.
And so, if you think about it, that means that anybody who was
donating to FreedomWorks, for their political organizing work or whatever,
anybody donating to FreedomWorks was effectively paying for the staff time
and the resources to produce a project that just personally profited one of
the people who work there, a scam.
It`s like the Newt Gingrich direct mail scam, right, where Newt
Gingrich would give businesses fake awards, where what you won was the
opportunity to give $5,000 to Newt Gingrich to meet him? Also, you would
get a souvenir gavel. Congratulations to you. Where is your check for me?
It`s also like that scammy campaign where Mike Huckabee was appearing
in the repeal Obamacare now ads. Repeal it now. You go to their Web site,
and what do you see? It`s now or never, and a giant button at the bottom
of the screen that you can click to help fund the battle.
And what do they want you to do in terms of helping to fund the
battle? They would prefer that you donate $2,500 to join the chairman`s
circle, which is also -- I`m not making this up -- called the Huckabee
Special. And that will, in their own words help keep Mike Huckabee on TV
to repeal Obamacare.
Will having Mike Huckabee on TV repeal Obamacare? I`m checking with
the Constitution, but I don`t think so. But Mike Huckabee would please
like to stay on TV, if for no other reason than to keep asking for more of
your money to help him stay on TV asking for more money.
It is maybe inevitable that somebody is going to try to turn impotent
political rage and ignorance into personal financial gain. It has been
happening as long as there has been snake oil and hucksters, which is not
the root word of Mr. Huckabee`s name. I did check that.
But in the case of Mr. Huckabee, right, this isn`t just some con man
off the street. I mean, Mike Huckabee, for whatever you think of him now,
he came in second the last time the Republicans nominated somebody for
president. In the 2008 election, Mike Huckabee essentially came in second
to John McCain -- which is now the part where I tell you that the guy who
came in second this year, the guy who came in second to Mitt Romney, where
does he work now?
He works at "World Net Daily", which is admittedly hilarious, because
"World Net Daily" is a mad libs, choose your own adventure free
association, blank verse Obama conspiracy theory generator. Just plug in
Muslim, gay, murder, Kenya, communist and Michelle, and see what comes out.
But in addition to being inadvertently hilarious, "World Net Daily" is
now home to the runner-up from this last year`s Republican presidential
nominating contest, and "World Net Daily" is also a scam.
Rick Perlstein wrote a great piece that came out before the election
in "The Baffler," about how "World Net Daily" and Dick Morris`s pals at
Newsmax are essentially just operating systems designed to feed the contact
information for gullible and overexcited conservatives to people who can
part them with their money, right?
And if you are a person who has long been struck by and fascinated by
how similar the conservative "be afraid" direct mail that asks for money
looks to the kind of direct mail that tries to scam your grandmother out of
her savings -- remember Fred Thompson and the reverse mortgage thing? Yes.
It is amazing to see. If you have been watching this over time, one
of the amazing things about it is how persistent it is. It just doesn`t go
away. No matter what`s going on in the election cycle, it doesn`t go away.
If you have any conservative sort of name for yourself, the odds are
pretty good you`re going to end up in some sort of scam designed to part
gullible conservatives from their wallets.
What might be new, though, that after this last election, at least
some folks on the right appear to finally be seeing this as a problem for
the American right.
Conservative Bill Kristol, writing for the upcoming issue of "The
Weekly Standard" says, quote, "The conservative is in deep disarray.
Reading about some conservative organizations and Republican campaigns
these days, one is reminded of Eric Hoffer`s remark, `Every great cause
begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a
racket.` It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become
such a racket, that a kind of refounding of the movement as a cause is
Frank Rich joins us in just a moment.
MADDOW: The one and only Frank Rich is here for the interview, next.
MADDOW: Behold! Rachel Maddow approvingly quotes Bill Kristol,
Quote, "The conservative is in deep disarray. Reading about some
conservative organizations and Republican campaigns these days, one is
reminded of Eric Hoffer`s remark, `Every great cause begins as a movement,
becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.` It may be
that major parts of American conservativism have become such a racket that
a kind of refounding of the movement as a cause is necessary."
Joining us tonight for the interview is Frank Rich. He is "New York
Magazine" magazine writer at large.
Mr. Rich, it`s great to have you here.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to be here as always.
MADDOW: In part, I enjoy these stories because it is fun to figure
out ways that people have managed to do politics in a way that works out to
be a great business for themselves.
RICH: Free market principles. The market all goes, accrues to them.
MADDOW: I sort of wonder about that. Like, should it be OK at
FreedomWorks that you scam people out of their money, thinking it`s for the
campaign and it really just gets spent on something that you`re going to
profit from? Should that be OK? Because they`re sort of Randian economic
anarchists, and if you can scam people out of their money, then you deserve
their money more than they do?
RICH: Well, it is consistent with Randian principles, I think. And,
you know, you take a look back at Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson. It was all
about generating this list, figuring out ways to sell them to others, using
them to raise money on the 700 Club, trying to sell products, some of
seemingly dubious value, and it`s -- so I guess at least they`re not
Yes, in a way. But I feel like it was -- I feel like it made sense in
an instrumental way before, essentially before the Internet. I realize I
sound like an old-timer at this point. But in a pre-Internet, pre-social
media world, having people`s addresses, having people`s base contact
information was sort of enough to give you the appearance of being a
movement. You`d have people send in a million different postcards or send
in a million different faxes, and it would look like you were a lot of
people before that stuff could be very regimentally automated.
Now that stuff really doesn`t fly anymore and you actually need to
contact people in a much more substantive way in order or the those things
not to look fake, I feel like that this machinery that the Republicans
built up worked for them to look like a movement for a long time, and now,
it`s just sort of unraveling into just scam.
RICH: Well, you may be right. You know, it`s almost as if the
addresses they have now -- Dick Morris` list of 460,000. How did he come
up with that number? Why not 450,000 or 470,000? Who are those people?
It seems sort of a form of spam. And I think when we saw the big
failure during the actual election of Romney`s get-out-the-vote efforts,
his attempts technologically to track who is voting, my guess is that some
of this misinformation from these sources filtered into him, just as Dick
Morris had fraudulent -- not fraudulent -- but completely erroneous polls,
very suspect polls. Who knows how many people like him, including him,
were feeding voter information to the Romney campaign?
MADDOW: Right. Sort of an inch deep and a mile wide, that we`ve got
all of these numbers that we can monetize for ourselves, but they don`t
really translate into real voter contacts and real persuasion and real
RICH: Right. And for all we know a lot of them are just junk
listings, you know, the way that magazines, again, back in prehistoric
times, a magazine like the "Saturday Evening Post" would have more
subscribers than any other magazine. But they were going to dead letter
boxes or going to people who were literally dead or to people who didn`t
But you can generate that stuff. And now when it infiltrates the
political system, it can be devastating like everything else that was
factually off the Republicans this year.
MADDOW: I feel like, you know, in the lead-up to the 2012 primary
process on the Republican side, everybody could see from a mile off that
Newt Gingrich was going to run.
MADDOW: And I felt like should it have been a harbinger of what is to
come, to look at what Newt Gingrich was doing right up into the moment that
he started to run. He is sort of running his Newt Gingrich enterprises.
And the reason that he kept ending up in the embarrassment pages of liberal
blogs and liberal TV shows is because he was trying to give these fake
awards to people in exchange for them giving him $5,000.
But the way he was picking his marks is that he was just going through
the phone book. So, he was picking like, you know, liberal doctors in San
Francisco who really didn`t want to be scam-marketed about Obamacare who
then make this public that they had received it.
He twice targeted the same strip club in Dallas which went public with
it both times saying, we are not your entrepreneur of the year, Newt. And
it is -- it`s sort of a fact-free -- it`s a churn thing. It doesn`t matter
what you`re doing factually.
RICH: Yes, it is. It`s like these marketing schemes where you don`t
really have the product or you sell -- you convince other neighbors to sell
your product and then you get money for foisting it on them. But it is
very American. It`s like snake oil salesman and yet this guy was speaker
of the House.
RICH: You know, he`s not some clown or just walked in off the street.
MADDOW: And Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee both did very well in the
Republican primaries. I think both cases arguably the runner-up finishers
for the nomination.
What about the Bill Kristol diagnosis here, which is that the
conservative movement has been descended into a racket and needs to be
refounded as a cause?
RICH: Well, I`m sure he`s right but he`s being disingenuous because
the biggest racket in my view is the Murdoch racket.
Take Karl Rove, for instance. All right. He`s been benched at the
moment at FOX News. He still has a column in Murdoch`s "Wall Street
Journal" every week -- now it doesn`t say Romney is going to win. It says
Obama is in terrible trouble. He`s going to fail. I`m sure impeachment is
not far around the corner.
But, you know, "Wall Street Journal" was or at least used to be a
serious paper. You don`t have someone doing that who is then raising money
from super PACs from billionaires and spending them in ways that are off
the books that are not transparent. That is a racket.
He uses "Wall Street Journal" and Rupert Murdoch and FOX when he`s on
it to raise money for his own -- I`m sure he gets a lovely salary from
American Crossroads, too.
So will Bill Kristol go after FOX News of which he is -- and Murdoch -
- which he is a contributor? I don`t think so. And so, yes, a lot of
these scams are ridiculous but Dick Morris is relatively small potatoes.
He`s just seen as a great target because he`s so vulgar and he`s so
ridiculous and he doesn`t hide it very well and he`s so transparent.
But what about all of the others and, you know, the big stuff? So I
think Kristol, yes, he`s right, but is anything going to happen?
MADDOW: Yes, and when you`re talking about the big leagues rather
than the easily targeted guys --
MADDOW: Frank Rich, you`re very smart. Thank you very much for
coming here to talk about this. It`s great to have you here.
RICH: Good to be here.
MADDOW: Frank Rich is writer at large for "New York Magazine".
All right. My colleague Lawrence O`Donnell does not to prove why he
is indispensable but yesterday he did it big time. The live rewrite of
Newt Gingrich to Newt Gingrich`s face is coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The problem for Boehner is how does
he give on rates? He said this the other day, "I oppose tax rate increases
because tax rate increases cost American jobs." That gives you no room to
give on rates. It is, by the way, not an original thought.
Who said this? The tax increase will kill job and lead to a recession
and the recession will force people out of work and on to unemployment and
actually increase the deficit. That`s Newt Gingrich in 1993 on the Clinton
tax increase, and those of us who were working on the other side of that
tax increase, Newt, have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for
being completely wrong about that.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I don`t agree with you.
O`DONNELL: But the economy soared. No one lost a job because of that
O`DONNELL: There was no recession.
O`DONNELL: There was no recession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Lawrence O`Donnell on "Meet the Press" this weekend, enjoying
a long delayed accountability from former Republican speaker of the House,
The reason that feels good to watch is because it`s so rare and so
satisfying to have real historical context and accountability punchered the
obsessive Beltway focus on these self-serving ahistorical context-free,
power play of the moment that is usually what they talk about. That was a
substantive point about the empirical, knowable evidence of what happened
the last time we tried this thing that we are now considering trying again.
The fight now, right, is over whether to keep all of the Bush tax cuts
or whether the rates for the highest income can go back to what they were
under President Clinton? And as Lawrence said, the first year of his
presidency, President Clinton did raise taxes. He created new bracket for
the highest income and also raised the corporate tax rates.
And at the time, Newt Gingrich really was a leading voice in a
Republican chorus predicting that if Clinton got his way, the country would
crumble. It did not crumble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GINGRICH: I believe this will lead to recession next year. This is
the Democrat machine`s recession and each one of them will be held
THEN-SEN. PAUL COVERDELL (R), GEORGIA: It`s going to slow the
economy, put people out of work. I`ve been saying for the last week, the
person that I feel the worst about in all of this is the person who`s
filling out a job application because it`s a tight job market now and it`s
only going to get tighter.
THEN-REP. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: The proof will be in the pudding.
We`re going to come back here next year. There will be higher deficits,
there will be more spending, it will continue to have a very slow economy,
people aren`t going to go to work.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That takes me back. You have to remember the great recession
of the Clinton administration, the double-digit unemployment, the bread
lines? Yes. I don`t remember that either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Think about it, there probably have never been
better times than these when so many people are doing so well and in an
economy that just gets stronger and stronger. The latest measure are the
numbers that are in for the end of 1998 and they are sensational.
REPORTER: The numbers are astonishing -- the economy growing at the
fastest pace in more than two years.
MIKE JENSEN, NBC NEWS: There`s a job for everybody who wants one.
Interest rates are incredibly low and there`s hardly any inflation.
REPORTER: More good news, paychecks growing at the fastest clip in
five years. Up almost 3 1/2 percent last year alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The disastrous result of the Clinton tax rates. There`s no
shame in being wrong. People get stuff wrong all the time. When you do
get stuff wrong, though, it`s worth noticing, so you can stop being wrong
about that thing if it ever comes up again.
Now that we are debating, trying some of the Clinton era economic
policies again, it`s a helpful historical thing to remember who was wrong
about what the effect would be of those policies, because if they are
making the same arguments that proved to be wrong the last time, then we
tried this, well, then the role of the media should be able to point that
out loudly, maybe even on Sunday morning, which happened this weekend on
"Meet the -Press" because Lawrence was there. Hallelujah. This is how it
is supposed to work.
And now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", which
you should watch.
Have a great night.
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