'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, October 23, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 23, 2013
Guest: Toni Pippins-Poole, Theda Skocpol
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening,
Chris, thank you. And thanks to you at home from joining us this hour.
Let`s say I married John Boehner. Right now my ID says my full name,
Rachel Ann Maddow. The picture looks nothing like that. Thanks, you guys,
for dressing it up. But if I was going to become not Rachel Ann Maddow,
but rather Rachel Ann Boehner, it`s pronounced Boehner, the state of Texas
for a long time, if I lived in Texas and that`s where I was marrying my
John, the state of Texas would have required me to change the name on my ID
to effectively declare Maddow to be my new middle name instead of Ann.
These days, in most places, you have a choice as to whether or not you want
to do that, but in Texas by law, well into the 20th century, well into the
time a lot of our moms were getting married, the law required me on my
official Texas state ID to be Rachel Maddow Boehner. That was just the way
you had to do it.
And under Texas law as of this week, that would mean that I would not
be allowed to vote there. If I`m registered under the name Rachel Ann
Maddow or Rachel Maddow or juts Rachel Boehner; that would not exactly
match what was on my I.D. because my I.D. by law had to say Rachel Maddow
Boehner. And therefore under the brand new Texas voter I.D. law that has
just gone into effect for the first time this week, as early voting starts
for the November elections this year in Texas, women in Texas who have
never done anything weirder under Texas state law than get married and get
the married lady I.D. that Texas required them to get, women who have done
nothing weirder than that in their lives are finding that, for the first
time in their lives, they are being blocked from voting because of this new
Texas` new voting law makes you show documentation in order to vote
that you never had to show before. And it`s such a strict law that before
it went into effect this week there was worries that this married woman
maiden name issue was going to block women from being able to vote or force
them onto ballots all across the state.
Just yesterday, the "Texas Tribune" posted a survey piece on people
worrying about this issue and ultimately concluded, don`t worry. They
quoted a spokesperson from a Texas secretary of state office reassuring
people that there`s really nothing to worry about. So, you see the
headline there, could name change spur voter I.D. issue? Officials say no.
That came out yesterday in Texas. By last night, this was the local news
in corpus Christi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Good evening, everyone. I`m (INAUDIBLE).
Katia is off this evening.
At the top, the state`s new voter I.D. law. It is meant to prevent
voter fraud but it may be causing some delays at your neighborhood polling
place. Especially if the name on your driver`s license differs from the
name on your voter registration card, even a little bit.
The county election officials say it`s often a problem for women who
use maiden names or hyphenated names. Our (INAUDIBLE) tells us the problem
came to light yesterday when a local district judge had trouble casting a
ballot. The story is first at 6:00.
SANDRA WATTS, JUDGE: What I have used for voter registration and for
identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I
went to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: 117th district court judge Sandra Watts
has voted in every election for the last 49 years. The name on her
driver`s license has remained the same for 52 years. And the address on
her voter registration card or driver`s license hasn`t changed in more than
two decades. So, imagine to her surprise when she told by voting officials
that she had to sign a voter affidavit, affirming that she was who she said
WATTS: Someone looked at that and said well, they`re not the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The difference, on the driver`s license
Judge Watts` maiden name is her middle name. On the voter registration
it`s her actual middle name. That was enough under the new stricter voter
fraud law to send up a red flag.
WATTS: This is the first time I`ve ever had a problem voting. I
don`t think most women know that this is going to create a problem. That
their maiden name is on their driver`s license, which was mandated in 1964
when I got married and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional
ballot when I`ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: While on the issue of voter fraud, we
spoke with a district attorney about the prevalence of this crime in the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen an issue of that in Oasis County
in all the years I`ve been here.
MADDOW: In the Oasis county Texas, I have never seen an issue of
voter fraud in Oasis County in all the years I have been in here, says the
local DA. The voter fraud not really a problem in that county where that
Also in Texas broadly voter fraud is not really a problem. In Texas
over the last 13 years tens of millions of votes have been cast in that
state. Tens of millions. And the grand total of documented instances of
showing up at the polls and pretending to be somebody else in Texas is one.
Literally, one, not one percent, one guy. One guy for the whole state over
But that one guy is apparently justification enough to change state
law in Texas to make it so people like this lifelong Texan, this judge who
has been voting in the state for 49 years now has a huge hassle trying to
vote in the state if she`s allowed to vote at all.
There are an estimated 1.4 million voters in Texas who are eligible
voters, who do not have the kind of documentation you`re now required to
show in order to cast a vote in that state. And that doesn`t even count
the people who do supposedly have the right documentation. They do have
the right kind of I.D. like that judge, but the I.D. doesn`t match in
exactly the way it has to match now for you to be allowed to vote anymore.
And this is all coming into focus in Texas this week because early
voting has just started in the Texas November elections. I have to say,
there are precisely zero high stakes big publicity super motivating
statewide issues on the ballot in the election in Texas this year. This is
a sleepy election. It is a whole bunch of constitutional amendments about
things like the number of days that aircraft parts are exempt from
addvalerum (ph) taxes. Something about reverse mortgages that I`m sure is
Nobody is expecting massive turnout for elections on these issues
right now in Texas. And for people to vote on if there`s a hospital board
district in Delano County. A few little sprinkling of municipal elections
happening in various places around the state. This is going to be a very
low turnout election in Texas this year. You can track the voter turnout
already and see in some precincts the total number of voters so far is like
13 or 26.
So the problems the people are having voting right now under the new
strict Texas voter I.D. laws, these problems are quiet little problems
happening here and there in a very, very low value in an election.
But what is going to happen say next year? What is going to happen in
the next big hot Texas election? Like say, the Wendy Davis for governor
election or for that matter the next presidential election? Of the at
minimum 1.4 million Texas who right now do not have the right kind of I.D.
to be allowed to vote anymore even though they could vote in the past.
Texas Republicans have said, you know what? Nobody should worry about
whether or not the people will be able to cast their ballots because they
will make sure, the Republican state controlled state government of Texas
will make sure that everybody who is an eligible voter but doesn`t have an
I.D. everybody will get one.
They started what they described as statewide efforts to get everybody
an I.D. starting in June. Since then of the 1.4 million voter who is are
eligible to vote but who don`t have an I.D. of the 1.4 million, the number
of people who have gotten the I.D. under the new system from the state
government so they can vote is 50. That according to state of Texas is the
count ads of this evening. We called them and asked, 50 people out of 1.4
You want to do the math on what percentage of the problem is solved
already? Let me help you out. That means there are two zeros even after
the decimal point before you get to start putting together other integer
integers. Tenths, hundredths, thousandths of a percent.
Why Texas republicans wanted to change the law about voting is
anybody`s guess. It seems kind of obvious.
But the reason they were able to change the law about voting is
because of the United States Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court this
summer gutted the voting rights act, Texas was thereby freed of the burden
of having to pre-clear changes in Texas election law with the federal
justice department to make sure that those changes were not going to have a
racially discriminatory effect.
Texas Republicans had wanted to pass this voter I.D. law forever, but
the justice department wouldn`t clear them to do it because of the racially
discriminatory effect. Now that the voting rights act is gutted, though,
Texas gets to go ahead with what was too obviously discriminatory for them
to get away with in the past, that now, they can get away with. At least
for the time being.
The justice department is now suing to try to stop them after the
fact. Anyway. Even though they couldn`t stop them from putting it into
effect in the first place.
Meanwhile, the same thing is underway in North Carolina where the
gutting of the voting rights act freed Republicans in that state to pursue
their own version of not just a voter ID bill but a broad base crackdown on
what the advancement project described as basically all the ways that
African-Americans in North Carolina have gotten used to voting.
In North Carolina, the Republicans there have narrowed the window for
early voting. They`re putting new restrictions on voter registration
drives. They`re making a much harder for students to vote. They`re ending
same day registration during the early voting period. They are making it
easier for vigilante poll watchers who want to challenge eligible voters.
They are even putting specific new limits on voting on Sundays which
nobody has even tried to link to some phantom voter fraud threat. But
Sunday do tend to be when black churches like the car pull and the
congregations to all go vote.
The justice department is also challenging the North Carolina law.
They were never able to go ahead with this before the voting rights act got
it by the Supreme Court. But once it did, they got ahead. Justice
department is challenging an act of fact. And on the same day that judge
in Texas was getting turned away from the polls because heaven forbid she
once got married, on that same day North Carolina Republicans started to
file their legal defense to all the lawsuits that they`re facing
challenging their new voter suppression law.
And on the same day in North Carolina, as the state Republican party
was starting its defense of this law, which is expected to disenfranchise
hundreds of thousands of African-American voters in North Carolina, on that
same day, the Republican party in North Carolina opened up a new North
Carolina office of African-American outreach to try to convince African-
Americans in North Carolina that if they do vote, they really ought to be
voting for the Republican party.
That`s turning out to be a really big if. If you can vote, think
about -- the influential Reagan appointed conservative judge Richard Posner
who wrote the first federal court ruling OKing stricter voter I.D. laws.
He said in an interview recently for the first time that he regrets that
opinion. He said he did not realize when he wrote that landmark decision
OKing voter I.D. laws that the effect of them could be so racially
And that is nice to know at this point. But it`s not judge Posner`s
regret that stands as legal and political president. It`s his ruling.
Even if he now says that ruling was wrong. The Democratic Party today
announced a new national director of voter protection to work on these
issues across the country. But in the meantime these issues are happening
at the very local level. Texas elections, for example, are under way with
these new draconian and in some cases bewildering set of rules. And for
now, at least, it`s being left to local officials operating precinct by
precinct, town by town, county by county, to try to figure out how to make
this new law work and how far they`re going to have to try to stretch the
law and try to work around it and work through it to let people who have
been voting for years keep voting like they are used to doing.
Joining us now is one of those people who in involved in that
struggle. Toni Pippins-Poole has been Dallas county election administrator
in Dallas County, Texas. Her office has been searching through state
record for voters who either do not have I.D. or who may run into problems
with the I.D. that they do have. Dallas county decided to try to find the
voters ahead of time and help them now so they hopefully will not get
blocked at the polls.
Ms. Pippins-Poole, Dallas County election administrator, it`s great to
have you here. Thanks for being with us.
TONI PIPPINS-POOLE, ELECTION ADMINISTRATOR, DALLAS COUNTY: Thank you
for having me here.
MADDOW: So what prompted you in Dallas county to make this decision
to try to find out ahead of time which voters might have problems when they
get to the polls because of this new law? Why did you decide to take these
PIPPINS-POOLE: Well, I have been working with the elections for over
25 years. And being in the polls, I`ve seen people come in with the voter
registration cards, the certificate that we have for centuries given to
voters as their I.D. And I`m seeing some of the voters walk in with just
that item because that`s all they`ve had. I`ve seen the voters come in
with expired driver`s license, and that was acceptable in the past.
So, and we realize there`s going to be some issues. So we wanted to
know just what we were facing with. So we wanted to know how many of our
voters did not have proper identification on our records. And also those
who are looking at those that possibly have given us a driver`s license for
their records, but it`s no longer valid for one reason or another. So we
want to this make sure that those voters understand what they`re going to
faced with and be prepared so that they don`t actually get turned away or
have a failure or desire to go into the polling locations because they fear
that someone is going to challenge their right to vote. So, we want to
make it easier for the voters. So we want them to what they need to face
before they go into the polling place.
MADDOW: It`s interesting to hear you say that from the perspective of
a county official. One of the things that you wonder about in the state in
terms of people`s right to vote is whether or not your right to vote, your
ability to actually get a ballot and cast your ballot at the polling place
on Election Day is affected by where you live.
I mean, under the law, everybody should have equal access to the
ballot in a statewide election. But it sounds like in Dallas county with
the outreach that you`re doing, maybe people are going to have a better
shot at actually voting than in some other counties that aren`t being as
proactive as you are. Are you getting the sense that this will have some
sort of patchwork effect statewide in Texas?
PIPPINS-POOLE: Well, hopefully other counties will actually take the
same approach to find out their particular voters that may have some issues
and try to inform them of what they need to do in order to cast the ballot
at those polling locations. And also to be able to change your name so you
have kind of a hassle free right to go into the polls without someone
really scrutinizing your name by first name, former name, hyphen or even
initial or a customary variation. You may have always been called Bill for
William or Bob for Robert.
So we want people to understand that. And we`ve also looking at an
issue that women have had for years. They were able to register by Mrs.
John Smith. Now, when you come in and your driver`s license doesn`t have
or your I.D. doesn`t have Mrs. John Smith, that`s going to be an issue.
And we have decided to identify those and send out notices to them to let
them know that that`s going to be problematic at the polls.
MADDOW: Wow, it`s going the be problematic if you`re named Mrs.
Husband`s name, Mrs. With your maiden name as your middle name. It`s going
to be problematic if you have a nickname. It`s problematic if you have a
hyphen. It`s going to be problematic if you have any difference between
any of the forms of I.D. that are going to be checked here. You have a big
job on your hands, ma`am. I appreciate the proactive effort you`re taking
with it. I`m sorry you have to go there all of this. Good luck to you.
PIPPINS-POOLE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Toni Pippins-Poole is the Dallas county elections
It`s great to hear what that is like on the ground. I would say if
this was a big deal high turnout election in Texas right now, this is would
be the hugest story in the country. It`s because this is a low turnout
election and this is sort of the dry run that these freak show stories
about how people are being turned away. So far only looks like a local
story but boy is this going to be a big deal in the long run.
All right. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I went to my
staff and I said how come all the people for the jobs are all men? They
said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said,
well God, can`t we find some women that are also qualified? And so, we
took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that
could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of
women`s groups and said can you help us find folks and they bought us
binders full of women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE). Flat with three-hole punches.
And on Election Day even though he had the binders full of women from
the women`s groups, Mitt Romney lost women voters in America by ten points,
and he thereby lost the election. And that was actually a vast improvement
over the last Republican candidate who lost women voters by not ten points
but by 13 points. And that was with a female vice presidential candidate
on the ticket this year.
Women have just not been psyched about the Republican party,
regardless of who exactly they are running for office. The latest PPP
polling today in the Virginia governor`s race, for example, this has maybe
the biggest gender gap I`ve ever seen in a competitive statewide race.
Virginia women prefer the Democratic candidate in Virginia over the
Republican candidate by 24-point margin.
So the Republican party has a gender problem. We were reminded right
after the 2012 elections when House Republican leaders appointed 19 chairs
for 19 committees only to discover that they had chosen 19 white guys for
those 19 jobs. They scrambled. They found one woman to install as chair
of the administrations and rules committee, even though she was not a
member of the committee at the time.
During that government shutdown, we were reminded again of the same
problem when the office of Eric Cantor pounded its chest and sent out this
photo showing the Republican party had the negotiators standing by, ready
to talk. Turns out it was eight white guys all in white shirts and ties,
all ready to speak for the Republican party in all its glorious diversity.
Now though, the newspaper "Roll Call" reports that the Republicans are
fixing this particular problem. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers says she stood
up at a recent meeting of all Republicans in Congress to complain about
that photo, to complain about the leadership picking eight demographically
identical white guys for the Republicans` negotiating table.
She said when she made her complaint she was very happy that John
Boehner said he realized what he had done and that he had done wrong. She
told "Roll Call" quote "the speaker literally got up and said, you know,
Renee, that was a mistake." And it`s now a mistake that he has fixed.
A few weeks after the fact Republican leadership in the House have
decided that they have found a woman that they are comfortable with.
Congresswoman Diane Black of Tennessee. There she is. Apparently, the
deal was done last week to add her to the guys. But it`s just now being
So now, speaking for the Republican party as Congress goes forward
into the budget process and all the rest, they have found a way to add one
congresswoman to the rest of the Republican congressmen.
Here though is a top tip about the one congresswoman who the
Republicans have picked for this high-profile job. Diane Black of
Tennessee may be a rare woman among that sea of Republican men, but Diane
Black of Tennessee does not want you to call her congresswoman. She wants
you to call her congressman. She goes by Congressman Diane Black. This is
her official Web site. Congressman Diane Black. It is not a typo. Also
at the bottom of the page, contact Congressman Black. On the about me
page, Congressman Diane Black brings a unique perspective to her work in
So the Republicans have added a woman to their roster of men
negotiating for the party and with the addition of Diane Black, you are
free to describe the group now negotiating for the Republican party as a
group of congressmen, even though they now include a woman. It`s hard keep
We also learned today that Republicans in the House are also working
on their own version of health reform now. What are the odds that what
they produce will not seem like it came from a group in the House that is
98 percent white and 92 percent male. What are the odds they can stop
themselves in their new health reform bill from say cracking down on
contraception? What are the odds? Watch this space.
MADDOW: Do you remember this guy? Not a comic book super hero or
just a wrestler who looks good in primary colors, no. Note the placement
of the stars amid the blue and red. In guy calls hems the southern
avenger. This guy is back, or at least his brand of southern Republican
politics is back. Hold on. That story is next.
MADDOW: This is a group called the National Federation of Republican
Women. It`s a national group headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. They
call themselves one of the largest and most influential women`s political
organizations in the country.
The National Federation of Republican Women, they do have chapters all
across the country and every year, they hold a big board of directors
meeting that`s kind of their big confab for the year. In 2010, they held
their meeting that year in Charleston, South Carolina. The theme they
chose for the meeting was a southern experience. And boy did that mean
that. They meant a very specific kind of experience, which led to photos
like this one and a lot of embarrassment for the group at the time.
What`s interesting, though, is that happened in 2010. The guy in this
-- what became sort of iconic photograph of the Republican women`s group
plantation palooza in South Carolina in 2010, that guy, the white guy in
that photo, at the time, he was a Republican state senator in the great
state of South Carolina. Did this picture of him, with the black people
dressed up as slaves, while he`s in a Confederate uniform, did this hurt
him? Did this embarrass him in his political career?
To the contrary. He`s no longer a state senator in South Carolina.
He`s now a lieutenant governor of the great state of South Carolina. Which
I`m sure is great for him.
It does kind put a fine point on this question of whether or not being
seen as a neo-Confederate, pining for and reenacting and singing the
praises of the Confederacy is an embarrassing thing for conservatives, for
Republicans, even for elected Republican officials.
Around the same time that the National Federation of Republican Women
was having their southern experience on the fake plantation in 2010,
Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia did seem embarrassed when he as a brand
new governor issued a proclamation honoring Confederate history month.
Governor McDonnell`s proclamation conveniently did mention the whole issue
Previous Virginia governors have found a way to note Confederate
History Month when it happens, while also acknowledging that, yes, the
whole Confederacy did have something to do with slavery. And that`s not
the part we`re commemorating.
Bob McDonnell just left the slavery part out. After a while, after a
national kerfuffle, Bob McDonnell did eventually get embarrassed and he
retroactively went back to the statement and added a reference to slavery.
It was this past year when Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul held
on for a really long time in his own neo Confederacy scandal before he
finally got embarrassed enough about it to do something. This is a guy
known as the Southern Avenger, a commentator and pundit who would wear a
Confederate flag wrestling mask and opine about avenging the South. He
wrote about John Wilkes Booth was right.
John Wilkes Booth, of course, assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Rand Paul
hired this guy as a senior staffer in his Senate office. When everybody
started to learn about what this guy used to do before he was working for
Rand Paul, Rand Paul initially tried to dismiss the guy`s Confederate
leanings as some sort of youthful indiscretions, something that was old
In fact, less than a year before Rand Paul had hired him, the dude was
still writing about how he still supported the idea of the old Confederacy
rising up again, Southern secession today.
Eventually, Rand Paul did finally get too embarrassed about the whole
thing and the staffer had to go, but Rand Paul held on for a long time
defending the guy before he had to finally cut him loose.
Right now, we are at a moment in Republican politics of deep turmoil.
And in one specific part of the Republican Party, the turmoil is not what
it is for the rest of the country. In one specific part of the Republican
Party, in those quarters, the problem is not that we just had a government
shutdown. The problem is that the shutdown ended and we did not hit the
debt ceiling. That`s the problem.
Their problem is that anybody who voted to end the shutdown and not
hit the debt ceiling is obviously a traitor who needs to be run out of the
Republican Party. The highest profile incumbent Republican senator to be
primaried on those terms from within the Republican Party is Thad Cochran,
the conservative Republican senator from Mississippi. When his supposedly
Tea Party challenger announced that he would run against Thad Cochran in a
primary this week, he said he would run against Thad Cochran because Thad
Cochran committed the sin of raising the debt ceiling.
When he said he was going to primary him because of that, this new
opponent for Thad Cochran was immediately endorsed by the Club for Growth,
the Senate Conservatives Fund, and a bunch of pro-shutdown groups that have
sort of fanning the insurgency inside the Republican politics.
Now, we know the guy that they picked and endorsed against sitting
Mississippi Republican senator, his challenger spent the summer with these
guys. This is a local Mississippi chapter of the Sons of Confederate
veterans. They`re a pro-Confederacy group that regularly buys billboards
across the state of Mississippi, wishing ha happy birthday to the
Confederate heroes like Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy
during the civil war.
I call it the civil war. That`s not what they call it. They call it
a war of Southern independence. This is a newsletter for the pro-
Here`s another from there. Quote, "Southerners have less reason to be
loyal to the collective enterprise of the United States than does any group
of citizens. The South was invaded, laid waste and conquered when it tried
to uphold the original and correct understanding of the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution."
Correct understanding. Ah. That group hosted Mississippi Republican
State Senator Chris McDaniel as a keynote speaker at one of the recent
events. You can see his picture right there beside the wanted picture for
Abraham Lincoln. Chris McDaniel, the guy who conservatives have rallied
behind in his challenge to sitting Republican Senator Thad Cochran.
He also appeared at another event held by the same Confederate group
this summer. That one featured attendees dressed in Confederate uniforms.
The Web site Mother Jones reported on this today and a spokesman for
State Senator Chris McDaniel told them, quote, "Senator McDaniel has driven
across Mississippi to speak to many groups over the past decade."
It is an interesting question whether being associated with the
Confederacy, not just with the south, but with Southern white secession is
an interesting question as to whether being associated with that hurts
individual elected officials. There`s also a broader question of whether
we should think of the insurgent movement inside the Republican Party right
now as a brand new thing.
I mean, Tea Party is a new name that we put on Southern conservatives
now. We never used to call the Southern hard line borderline neo
Confederate part of the Republican Party that special name until now. But
should we think of what`s going on inside the Republican Party as
essentially just a continuation of these old neo-Confederate boys who
really persisted at some level, on or off the radar for a very long time.
Are we just experiencing another upswing in the legitimacy of these
groups in Republican politics? Are we having one of those moments where at
least for now, Republicans just don`t mind being seen with those guys?
They don`t mind being affiliated with them, this close to the mainstream in
Republican politics? Is this whole Tea Party thing just a new name for
something that`s not really new?
Joining us is now is Theda Skocpol. She`s professor of government and
sociology at the Harvard University. And she`s co-author of "The Tea Party
and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism."
Prof. Skocpol, thanks very much for being with us.
THEDA SKOCPOL, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It`s very nice to be here.
MADDOW: Has there always been a neo-secessionist among Tea Party
activists or is this a new phenomenon? Should we see these as separate
SKOCPOL: Well, it`s striking that it`s so visible right now. From
the beginning of the Tea Party outburst in 2009 and 2010, there were always
ties in the grassroots parts of the Tea Party to various fringe extremist
anti-government groups, militias in the West, the John Birch Society in
parts of the country, and I`m sure all along there have been ties to
various Confederate commemorative groups and groups that talk about
secession as a way to express their alienation from the things that the
federal government is going under Democrats.
MADDOW: How much continuity do you seen between the views and
affiliations of people that identify with the Tea Party now and the
previous sort of hard line conservative elements of the Republican Party
that we didn`t used to think of as a separate and competing force?
SKOCPOL: Well, keep in mind that the Tea Party right now is not one
thing. It`s got a bottom-up component of grassroots activists and half or
more of the voters across the United States who say that they are
And then, it`s also got a series of top-down groups that have sort of
opportunistically jumped on and goaded on and leveraged this grassroots
phenomenon. Those are long-standing groups like Americans for Prosperity
and FreedomWorks, the new Heritage Action operation that former Senator Jim
DeMint Leads. And those groups are really about pushing low taxes,
removal of regulation, blocking of environmental regulation, privatization
of Social Security and Medicare.
At the grassroots though, we found in our research and others have
too, that the activists and the people who identify with the Tea Party are
long time conservative minded people. With deep ties going back to earlier
popular movements on the far right.
MADDOW: That structural sort of explanation of historical continuity,
at least among some of the people who we think of as being part of the new
phenomenon, that lends -- that leads me to believe that all of this sort of
hyper ventilating and huffing and puffing right now among people in my
profession that the Tea Party is done for, that they`ve been discredited.
That the shutdown was so bad for them that the mainstream Republicans are
going to snuff them out and get rid of them within their own ranks. That
seems to be a little bit overstated. It sounds like what you`re saying is
we should expect them to be around for a long time.
SKOCPOL: Yes. Well, keep in mind that the Tea Party has this
combination of top-down and bottom-up forces, pushing on the Republican
Party and for that matter taking or much of the Republican Party. It
doesn`t depend on general popularity in the country to get its clout, to
get its leverage.
SKOCPOL: And a lot of media commentators declare it dead again and
again when a national poll shows that most Americans are turned off by this
style of politics. And indeed, they are. But the question is whether
Republican officeholders and candidates are frightened of these people or
for that matter are often identified with them or part of them.
MADDOW: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University professor of political
science -- thank you very much for helping us to understand this. It`s
good to have you with us.
SKOCPOL: Nice to be here.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Update for you on a story we`ve been covering for a couple of
weeks now. On September 19th, the Russian coast guard arrested a bunch of
Greenpeace activists at gunpoint and knife point and took the activists and
their ship into custody above the Arctic Circle where they were protesting
oil drilling by a Russian company.
Russia then took the activists to the mainland and charged them all
with piracy, which means 15 years prison.
The update on the story today is that after a lot of international
pressure, Russia has now dropped the piracy charges. Instead they`re
charging the Arctic 30 with hooliganism, which sounds like not much, but
does still carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
Greenpeace responded by saying, "We will contest the trumped up charge
of hooliganism as strongly as we contested the piracy allegations. They
are both fantasy charges that bear are no regulation on reality. The
Arctic 30 protested peacefully against Gazprom`s dangerous oil drilling and
should be free.
Russian government has shown no compunction about its prickly relation
with the West and indeed with the rest of the world. This particularly
prickly moment over these activists and their fate is far from over.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: This was the headline in "The Boston Globe" the first time
that paper covered the Waltham murders. The headline was "Girlfriend
screamed: They`re all dead: Waltham killings likely not random."
On September 11th, 2011, which was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11
terrorist attacks, three young men were murdered in a Boston suburb of
Waltham in a particularly gruesome fashion. On a dead end street these
three young guys were found with their throats slit, their bodies in three
rooms of one house.
According to reports at the time, their bodies were essentially staged
meticulously at the crime scene. They were all found facing down with
their heads all turned in the same direction all in different rooms but
their heads were all facing the same angle as was their bodies and all over
their bodies was strewn marijuana. Also found was $5,000 cash left behind,
along with the drugs by the killer or killers.
Whoever killed these three young men, they were all big strong guys,
whoever killed them, left that money and left those drugs. They carefully
and weirdly staged the scene and fled. The bodies were discovered the
following day when the girlfriend of one of the victims came into the
apartment and ran out into the street screaming, "They`re dead, they`re
dead, they`re all dead."
From the beginning police said publicly this was a drug crime. They
said those guys were involved in drugs and that`s why they were killed that
night in Waltham. But that crime, that grisly triple murder in 2011
remained unsolved with no reported leads, no evidence suspects, no arrests.
It remained that way for almost two years until this year when another
young man was killed, this time it was in Orlando, Florida. And this time,
he was shot to death, we think by the FBI.
After Ibrahim Todashev was killed in the presence of FBI agents and
Massachusetts state troopers who were interviewing him in his apartment in
Orlando, about whether he was connected to the Boston marathon bombing.
After they killed him in his Orlando apartment, anonymous law enforcement
officials leaked to the press that before they shot him, Ibrahim Todashev
confessed to the horrible and gruesome triple murder in Waltham. Anonymous
law enforcement sources said that he confessed that he and the older of the
two Boston marathon suspects killed those three young men in Waltham.
So, mystery solved?
But that was just one leaked piece of information that we learned
after Mr. Todashev was shot and killed in Florida. Waltham murder solved.
The dead guy/dead guys did that murder. You don`t have to worry about that
But everything about the Todashev shooting has been sketchy and self
contradictory. Anonymous law enforcement officials first told the press
that Ibrahim Todashev was shot because he attacked an FBI agent with a
knife while he was confessing to those Waltham murders.
Then, the leak changed. So, maybe it wasn`t that he had knife, so
much as it was some of the kind of blade. Then within 12 hours of them
telling us he either had a knife or some other kind of blade, and that`s
why he was shot, then two law enforcement sources recanted, took back what
they said about the knife or blade, actually they said they didn`t know
what happened at all.
The new unanimous law enforcement sources said, actually, Ibrahim
Todashev was totally unarmed when he was shot and killed by law enforcement
officers. But maybe he overturned a table during his interrogation so
maybe that`s why they killed him.
Wait, time for a new leak. No, he didn`t overturned a table, he had a
pole. No, it`s a broom -- maybe it was a broom stick. That`s his weapon.
That`s why he was shot.
Because of all this totally contradictory information leaked by law
enforcement sources over time and because there`s no official on the record
information to clean up any of this anonymous junk, this is how reporters
have to hedge when they write about the Todashev case. You get leads like
Some allege that he wielded a knife, a sword, a blade, or a broom
stick. Other says he was unarmed.
So, the FBI shoots and kills somebody in his home in the United
States. The first we hear of it, the first we hear of this guy at all is
anonymous law enforcement sources telling us, yes, we killed this guy but
we also solved the Waltham murders. He did it and told us but then we
killed him but that`s a long story.
They offer a bunch of contradictory reasons for why they killed him.
But they anonymously are assuring everybody, not to worry, he was a
murderer anyway, trust us, he told us he was a murderer. And maybe that`s
true or maybe none of that is true. None of it is known for sure. None of
it is on the record. None of it is even provided by named sources.
This has just a baffling and terrible case all of it. The weirdest
denouement over to the Boston bombing story. Today, finally, though there
was a new revelation and on the record for the first time.
Prosecutors in the ongoing Boston marathon bombing case have now
stated on the record that the guy they killed in Florida told them not that
he had anything to do with the Waltham murder but that the Boston bombing
suspect did, the one suspect who`s already dead. There was no mention in
the court filing of Mr. Todashev having confessed to those murders himself,
as press reports initially said he had. But at least now, for the first
time, according to Boston prosecutors, we have at least hearsay evidence
about somebody who might have been involved in that triple killing.
Some family members of the Waltham victims have spoken publicly about
the lack of official information in this case to them as the victims`
families. Even with law enforcement implicating in the crime the guy they
shot in Florida, the Waltham victims` families have criticized law
enforcement for killing that guy, especially if he could have shed light on
what happened to their loved ones. And if he was responsible, he could
have stood trial.
As for the friends and loved ones of the guy who was killed in
Florida, well, this is the part where it is sketchier. One of his friends
in Florida was arrested late last month. He was denied a lawyer despite
repeatedly asking for one. He was asking for one probably because his
friend had been shot and killed by the FBI when he was questioned with no
He is still in custody in Florida. Ibrahim Todashev`s girlfriend is
the other person who lived in the house where she was killed, she gave this
interview to Boston magazine in which she revealed among other things that
she, herself, was arrested ahead of her boyfriend being shot and on the day
the FBI killed him, they moved her into solitary confinement.
After giving the "Boston" magazine that interview, she was arrested
again. She says it is because she talked to the media about the Todashev
case. She was then deported. She is now in Moldova.
If you want to chat with her, or meet her, that is where she is. She
was deported there October 11th.
This is a story that does not feel possible. It is not supposed to
feel possible at least in this country. A man gets shot and killed by
government agents in his home. There`s a total information blackout.
Nobody is arrested for killing him. Nobody is charged.
Local authorities say they have no jurisdiction. Federal authorities
say nothing, except anonymously leaking to the press that the guy they
killed was a terrible guy.
His friends are harassed, arrested and deported, in part for speaking
to the press about it. No government official is compelled to tell the
public what actually happened.
More than two months ago, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola
Counties Florida finally announced that at least he would investigate what
happened in this killing since the Todashev shooting happened in his
jurisdiction in Florida. So far, we have not heard one peep from that
The FBI also says it`s conducting an internal investigation into the
shooting. Why was this supposedly unarmed lone guy shot maybe up to seven
times during an interview where multiple law enforcement officers were
An internal FBI investigation might be a comfort to the families of
those three young who were murdered to know that the FBI will at some point
provide some answers of this man who knew something about this crime.
Maybe the FBI will explain why they had to kill him before he could say
what he knew, before he could stay in trial, if he himself was implicated
in their murders.
It might be also be a comfort to the Ibrahim Todashev family who want
to know why their son was killed without a trial in the United States if he
was indeed a suspect in a murder, a confessed suspect.
It might be comforting to know that the FBI is conducting an internal
investigation into what went wrong here if we did not also know what tends
to happen when the FBI does this type of self investigations.
For the past two decades, for 20 years and 150 cases where FBI agents
shot and killed or wounded someone, every single one of those 150 shootings
was deemed justified by the FBI`s internal review process. No FBI agent
has ever been unjustified in shooting someone in the last 20 years if you
ask the FBI. That`s what they conclude when they investigate themselves.
Maybe the shooting was also justified this time, maybe not. In the
meantime, we have to just keep guessing. But at some point, somebody is
going to have to say something other than no comment about this case. It
is devastatingly inconclusive and bizarre to do otherwise.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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