THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 8, 2013
Guest: Ryan Grim, Jose Antonio Vargas, Sarah Posner
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us
In the 2012 presidential campaign, one of the big questions that sort
of bedeviled the Romney campaign was the issue of Mitt Romney`s personal
tax returns. They wanted to base the Romney campaign in part on his
success as a business man and how much money he had made in the private
sector, but they didn`t want to release any of his tax returns, which, of
course, would show that information in very great detail.
Just got hammered over t tax returns issue for months, and when they
finally decided they were going to release one single year of Mitt Romney`s
tax returns, they did it in September and they did it late in the day on a
Friday afternoon. And that was not a coincidence.
The George W. Bush administration, also the Obama administration,
really lots of presidents, have always shown a pronounced tendency to
release the White House salary lists late in the day on Friday. The Obama
administration announced that they would keep the George W. Bush military
tribunals going in an announcement they made late in the day on a Friday.
When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to veto the .50
caliber gun ban that he himself had suggested in New Jersey, he announced
that veto, say with it me now, late in the day on a Friday.
This is how they do it -- Friday news dumps make the business the only
business in America where the time you are happiest to go to work is Friday
night because of all the junk they do on a Friday night because they think
no one will notice.
Today, Republicans let fly an epic Friday news dump, one that may be
the legacy of this entire Congress. As you know, this Congress has no
record of having passed anything at all and I don`t say that at an epithet.
I mean it in a technical sense. They have passed no significant
legislation since they have been in session at all. Nothing.
They did shut down the government. They did almost make the
government default, but that`s like counting errors instead of runs. In
terms of actually accomplishing anything, they have done nothing and the
one thing they were maybe going to do, they have just tonight announced
they`re not even going to try.
A year ago this week, Mitt Romney lost the presidency, lost big to
President Obama. In the wake of that loss, the Republican National
Committee commissioned a sort of autopsy, an examination of what went wrong
during the election and what the party needed to do to stop losing all
these national elections and, yes, there was some process stuff. They were
going to do more outreach. They were going to get themselves structured
better. They were going to have better computer systems. A lot of that
kind of stuff, process stuff.
But the one policy prescription the Republican Party had for itself,
the one policy idea, the one policy must was that Republicans must find a
way to support immigration reform. That`s what the Republican Party told
itself after losing the last election. They must find a way to say yes to
And Republicans in the Senate, enough of them at least, agreed, 14
Republican senators voted with the Democrats when the Senate passed
immigration reform back in June. It was bipartisan. A bunch of
Republicans signed on, including some that are going to be running for
So, in the Senate, they passed it in June and so then, it goes to the
House. And now, it`s November.
And tonight, Kevin McCarthy from the House leadership just announced
that they are not even going to try. He says there`s no time. It should
be noted they just had this entire week off. And they`ve got eight days
coming up and many more they want to schedule, but they`re not even going
to make a go of it.
As recently as this afternoon, the chairman of the Republican Party
did an interview in which he said, yes, I think it might actually happen.
I don`t think anybody should consider this dead. But within minutes of
that interview, tonight, after the close of business, the House Republicans
made very, very quietly clear that this thing really is dead. They`re not
even going to try.
Joining us now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The
Mr. Grim, thanks very much for being with us.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, Congressman McCarthy saying they`re not even going to try
to me is less of a surprise than him saying they`re not going to try
because there`s in time. Don`t they control the legislative calendar?
GRIM: Right. I mean, you know, there`s plenty of time. It takes
five minutes to do a vote. Put it on the floor, you start the timer. In
fact, you can do it in a minute if you felt like it. Everybody has that
long to vote.
So, no, it`s not about time. It`s about the fact that Republicans
don`t want to do immigration reform. It`s pretty much as simple as that.
If you look at the thing that Eric Cantor for instance thought would
be the easiest, you know, what he called the kids act and what everybody
else kind of knows as the Dream Act, which is allowing kids who were
brought here as 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, allowing them to get citizenship,
that hasn`t even emerged yet.
Eric Cantor announced it has an idea, but they haven`t written it into
legislation. That`s because Republicans are pushing back on it. They`re
saying, wait a minute, if we allow these kids to become citizens, then what
if they sponsor their parents who are already here, and then their parents
might get citizenship and we can`t allow that.
So, even the thing that Eric Cantor thought would be uncontroversial
is turning out to be controversial among these Republicans, and that`s the
reason. It`s not time.
MADDOW: Ryan, in terms of the Republicans who are on essentially the
Democratic side on this issue, who want to vote on this who said they
support it, there`s been I think less than five House Republicans now who
have come out and said they would sign on to the bill that passed the
Senate in which the Democrats say they want to vote for.
Are they doing that because they know they`re looking ahead to their
midterm races and they`re worried about Democrats and none of the other
Republicans are feeling that kind of pressure? Are there any identifiable
political dynamics that are pressing on the Republicans on this?
GRIM: Well, it`s a lot of game theory that`s going on here. So, you
only have at this moment, you have three Republicans who have signed on to
the bill. But for everybody else, when they do their cost-benefit
analysis, they say, well, look, the odds are that the Tea Party is not
going to let this happen, period. Therefore, what is the advantage for me
to sign on to this Democratic bill?
You know, a lot of moderate Republicans or at least the moderate
Republicans who are left, can you know, they can speak words positively
about immigrants and about immigration reform without specifically
endorsing the bill and they feel like maybe that would be enough and they
say well, we ought to do something. This is a problem. We ought to go
something, but don`t endorse the bill because they don`t think it`s going
And once you endorse the bill, then you give a target to somebody on
your right and say, you supported amnesty or you supported x, that`s in
this bill that you`ve now put your name to. So, they`re figuring it`s not
going to happen, I`m not going to go there.
So there isn`t the critical mass yet. Once it looks like it`s going
to happen, whether this Congress or next, you`ll see a stampede. All these
profiles in courage will be on the floor saying this is the right thing to
do. You know, political costs be damned, I`m going to do it.
MADDOW: Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post"
-- thanks for helping us understand this tonight.
GRIM: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it. Joining us now is Jose Antonio
Vargas. He`s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and an immigration
activist. Jose has lived in the United States since he was 12. He did not
know at the time he was here without documentation until he tried to get a
driver`s license as a teenager.
He came about his immigration status in "The New York Times". He
founded the advocacy group, Define American, and he has recently directed
the documentary which is called "Documented".
Jose Antonio Vargas, thank you so much for being here.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST: Thank you so much for
MADDOW: I doubt you think this was a surprise, but I have to ask you
VARGAS: You know, the ghost of James Baldwin just screams in my ear.
I can`t believe what you say because I see what you do. In that article,
in "The Associated Press" article with Kevin McCarthy, he said, but next
year, we`ll get it done.
I mean, we`ve been hearing next year since the beginning of this
decade, right? Where`s the fierce urgency of now, right? I mean, the lack
of political will.
The argument has been won, right? I think the Republican Party as a
whole understand that they need to do this, that they must be on the right
side of history on this. From a demographic perspective, from a culture
perspective, but the political will is not there.
All I know is if they`re saying they have 13 days left and they can`t
-- how many days did God take to create the world? By the way, was it like
six days, then he rested on the seventh day?
MADDOW: I will say, meanwhile, the Senate just said that in the
remaining days they`ve got left between now and Thanksgiving, they`re
planning on passing a $10 minimum wage. So, that`s apparently not too big
of a lift, but a piece of legislation that has already passed the Senate,
that`s been ad nauseam, that everybody knows where everybody stands on it,
that would pass if it was a free vote on it. It would pass.
VARGAS: It would pass.
But here`s the thing, guess what? All this inaction is going to be
greeted, the sense of urgency, the sense of desperation, the sense of
anger, the sense of disappointment, the sense of -- anger is going to be
seen in as many congressional districts as possible in this country in the
next two months. You know, we`ve seen already undocumented people and
their allies and their kids, you know, doing sit-ins at congressional
I was just in Wisconsin last night actually in Representative Paul
Ryan`s district in Milwaukee and just today, there are like six or seven
women in Racine, Wisconsin, that just shut a street down in his office
protesting and saying you must act now.
Now, this is Paul Ryan, who`s going to run for president, probably,
right? The urgency is there for all of us who suffer this every day and
any day this is prolonged, we`re going to remember it, and it`s just sad
that I`m trying as much possible to be optimistic. I`m trying to see that
the glass is half full. I`m trying to do that.
MADDOIW: When Kevin McCarthy says next year, it`s possible. It`s now
possible now. But next year, it could be done --
VARGAS: You mean when there`s a midterm election?
MADDOW: I was just going to say -- so, how are the political dynamics
any more favorable next year than they are this year?
VARGAS: It isn`t. And again, the longer we wait -- it was really
interesting being in Wisconsin last night. I met so many first generation
Americans, right, who are American citizens whose parents are undocumented,
so they are the ones organizing. They`re the voters who are organizing
themselves and their community to make sure that their voices are heard.
MADDOW: Jose, when you -- we`ve been covering on and off, and
actually not as much as we should, the direct action campaigns that are
being waged around the country.
VARGAS: Rachel, you`ve been covering it more than anyone else,
MADDOW: It`s notable and creative and unpredictable and very dramatic
MADDOW: And we`re seeing it in congressional offices, we`re seeing it
on the border. We`re seeing it in front of the buses that are taking
people to the border to deport them -- it`s heavy stuff and I know already
because of the basis of this conversation, that we`re not seeing it move
politicians enough to get a policy change in Washington.
Is it changing the immigrant rights movement --
MADDOW: -- to be going through this direction action campaign? Is it
changing the movement?
VARGAS: It is changing it because it`s empowering it. It is changing
it because now -- I mean, what happened, Kevin McCarthy made that statement
when women sat in his offices for hours in Bakersfield, right? I think it
was CHIRLA, the L.A.-based immigration rights organization, they rallied,
they organized, had a sit in and forced McCarthy to say something.
And we`re going to see more of that. I mean, already, there`s been a
lot of sit-ins happening in congressional offices, not just across the
country, but also in Washington, D.C.
Actually, there`s one book I was going to make sure that I mentioned
tonight. Why we can`t wait, which was published actually almost 50 years
ago. This has been really interesting. This being the 50th year of the "I
Have a Dream" speech, this is at the heart of every undocumented immigrant
in all our families who are suffering every day, waiting for some sort of
action from our government.
You know, waiting some sort of a solution from this flag we pledge
allegiance to every day that doesn`t recognize us.
MADDOW: When I talked to John Lewis last night, he was here to talk
about his book he has out now, the first -- a trilogy he`s doing about his
life story, it`s a graphic novel, he pointed out that the last time he was
arrested, which I believe was his 45th arrest, (INAUDIBLE) demonstration,
was on immigration protest.
Jose Antonio Vargas, stay in touch with us, both on policy matters,
but also on the --
VARGAS: On the film.
MADDOW: -- advocacy and your film, you`ve been moving people on this
issue for a long time now and this film out on the festival circuit is
having a big impact.
Jose, thank you very much.
VARGAS: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
VARGAS: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The fall of 2008 was when the country was imploding
financially. And so, on October 3rd, 2008, President George W. Bush signed
the $700 billion legislation that came to be known as the bailout bill.
When President Bush did that, he also signed into law a totally unrelated
piece of legislation that had nothing at all to do with the bailout, but
that was also historic on its own terms.
It was buried deep inside that $700 billion bill. On page 117, title
5, some title B, it was the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health
Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
It`s weird that it was part of the bill. Not only because it had
nothing to do with bailing out banks, but also because this was a historic
piece of legislature. This had been heart fought for years, and then
slipped namelessly into this other unrelated bill and it was signed into
law, because -- well, frankly, Congress had a lot on its plate at the time,
what with trying to save the world and all, so yes, I guess that was one
way to get it in front of the president, just slip it into the bailout.
People have other things to worry about. The Paul Wellstone and Pete
Domenici Mental Health Parity Act changed the law so insurance companies
cannot have one standard for what they`ll pay for if you have a physical
disease and a different lower standard for what they`ll pay for if you have
a mental disease, like depression or schizophrenia or substance abuse.
That change in the law, basically, makes it harder for insurance companies
to tell people that because the thing they`re suffering from was not
visible, it would not be covered. It doesn`t let insurance companies
essentially tell people that mental health isn`t real health.
The two names on the bill ended up being important part of how it came
to be, because Paul Wellstone was a liberal Democrat and Pete Domenici was
a conservative Republican. They both acknowledged that this was a strange
thing, the two of them working together on anything.
But what e they had in common was that someone in their immediate
families had a serious mental illness.
In September 2002, Pete Domenici gave an uncharacteristically personal
interview to the "New York Times" about his daughter, Claire, who has
schizophrenia. He explained that she had been an athlete in high school.
She was outgoing and healthy and happy, and when she got to college, she
started getting fuzzy, was the word he used. She would call her parents
for help for something as simple as deciding what to eat for dinner.
He said, quote, "She was all out of whack. My wife Nancy went down to
help her and ended up bringing Claire home. Her temperament totally
changed. She became angry, mean, throwing things at mirrors, cussing,
swearing, crying, shrinking into a shell, taking to her bed. And that
started two novice parents down the strange path of having to believe
something we did not want to believe, and to really believe, to acknowledge
that Claire was mentally ill, that took a long time."
Pete Domenici and Paul Wellstone really were political odd couple.
They were senators who you would not expect to work together on anything,
but like Senator Domenici, Paul Wellstone had a family connection. His
brother had severe mental illness, lifelong mental illness and that became
Senator Wellstone`s motivation for fighting for access to mental health
One month after he gave that painful, heartfelt personal interview to
"The New York Times" about his daughter in September 2002, one month after
that interview, Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. When
Senator Wellstone died, the mantle of that legislation was passed to
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, for him to champion the law. His son,
Congressman Patrick Kennedy, had fought depression and substance abuse for
Well, today, the Obama administration announced that it was building
off of Paul Wellstone`s and Pete Domenici`s and Ted Kennedy`s historic but
passed in a really weird way, landmark mental health law. Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new rules today which
implement and solidify the protections of that law. Insurance companies
can`t say they`re going to make you pay one co-pay for something physical,
but some other higher co-pay for mental health. It also makes it so your
insurance company can`t tell you, if you have say cancer, you can go see
your doctor as many times as you need, but if you`re depressed, you can
only see your doctor a certain number of times a year.
It`s parity between mental health and physical health. What the
administration did today was strengthen that law that was signed in 2008.
They closed the loopholes insurance companies were using to get around it.
To unveil the new policy today, Kathleen Sebelius was introduced by former
first lady Rosalynn Carter, who championed this law herself for years.
Paul Wellstone`s son, David, was not audience today as well as
Kathleen Sebelius told the room that two of her own family members had
sought help for mental illness.
After the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, after those
20 first graders and six of their teacher were killed at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, by a disturbed young man who had
access to a ton of firepower, after that massacre, President Obama and Vice
President Joe Biden publicly announced a list of 23 executive actions they
were going to take to try to fight gun violence, 23 things that crucially,
the administration could do on its own without Congress.
With this mental health parody order today, this effort to increase
people`s access to mental health treatment across the country, the Obama
administration as of today has either completed or taken big steps toward
completing every single one of those 23 actions.
Congress has proven itself, even in the wake of Newtown, to be
totally, completely incapable of addressing anything even remotely related
to gun violence. But because of this bill, snuck through after decades of
trying, snuck through in the most unexpected possible way, in the middle of
the bailout, because of that bill, because of the work of Ted Kennedy and
those strange bedfellows, Pete Domenici and Paul Wellstone, for all those
years, because of that hard fought battle by senators passed and these
rules today by administration, because of that, the pointlessness of our
current Congress has been so slightly undermined, ever so slightly. Baby
MADDOW: When the presidential election results came in one year ago
this week, one of the things that seemed very, very fishy to a lot of
Republicans was the news out of Philadelphia, that in 59 voting wards in
that city, there were zero votes cast for Mitt Romney. President Obama won
59 wards in Philly, that`s thousands of votes, by a margin of 100 percent
to zero percent.
It seemed impossible, right? It seems like a typo until the
Philadelphia Enquirer posted this interactive map, where you could not only
see where those 100 percent Obama wards were in the city, you could check
the voting history -- and yes, it turns out where the vote for John Kerry
over George Bush was like 104 to 9, or the vote for Obama versus McCain was
358 to 2.
Some Philadelphia neighborhoods, Philadelphia in general, is just that
Democratic, that you can get 59 wards with zero votes for Mitt Romney.
But in the fifth division of the 56th ward in Philadelphia, this week,
the Democratic candidate lost. It was a race to be an election judge, the
Democratic candidate lost the race by 12 votes and the Democratic lost to
this guy, who is not a Democrat. He`s also not Republican, despite the
fact he`s sitting there with Abe Lincoln.
Now, he also stopped being an independent years ago. It turns out
this guy and the only party that can beat the Democratic Party in
Philadelphia right now, it`s the Whig Party. W-H-I-G. Whig Party, yep.
Philly`s newly elected 56th ward elections judge is a member of the
Whig party, like it`s 1840. Somebody dress me up like Henry Clay and make
me a drink.
You can catch Philadelphia`s latest Whig Party official on up with
Steve Kornacki this Sunday morning here on MSNBC.
But if you hear -- if you want to hear the most amazing election
result yet from America`s cities this year, it is not actually the fact
that Philadelphia has elected its first Whig Party official since the
1800s. There`s something more amazing that happened in the election
results in America`s cities this week, and that story is coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: A year ago, November of last year, they dug up Yasser Arafat.
Yasser Arafat died under mysterious circumstances in 2004 and after long-
standing suspension and after some new reporting that suggested his death
might have been the result of an exotic poisoning plot, they dug him up.
Yasser Arafat`s body was exhumed from his grave this time last year.
In the last few days, a 100-page report on the exhumation has been
leased. There have been dueling press conferences by competing research
teams. There had been statements made by Mr. Arafat`s family and by the
Palestinian Authority. It is a fascinating case.
Right now, honestly, I think the most sober way to look at it is to
say the jury is still out. He may very well have been poisoned to death
with the same obscure highly radioactive isotope that was used two years
after his death to also assassinate a Russian spy who had defected to
Britain. It is possible that somebody may have been killed Yasser Arafat
with Polonium 210, and that may yet be proven.
But honestly, if you take a broad view of what they`ve presented so
far, I think it does not seem to be proven yet. When Mr. Arafat
mysteriously fell ill a few hours after eating dinner back in the fall of
2004, eventually he was flown to France for emergency treatment, to try to
figure out what was wrong with him.
They never did figure out what was wrong with him before he died, but
the fact he died in France means that France is investigating that as a
murder. They`re investigating that right now.
So, the definitive word on whether or not he was killed rather than
dying of natural causes, that will probably come from French prosecutors in
coming months. It`s an amazing story and spooky story and something that
would seem way too farfetched to believe except that it apparently is not
too farfetched to wonder.
I mean, there was Mr. Arafat in 1993 shaking hands with Yitzhak Rabin
at the White House, with Bill Clinton, arms outstretch, bringing them
together for the peace talks for the Oslo Accords. Within two years of the
photo, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli, and not too many years
after that, Yasser Arafat was dead, too. By whose hand, if anyone`s, we
still have no idea. That`s what`s being investigated.
Policy in that part of the world is fraught, and dangerous and
conspiratorial and occasionally, more seemingly farfetched than you want to
be able to believe. It is precisely because it is so fraught and so
fragile and so dangerous that it was more than just news. It was actually
kind of scary. In 2004, during the George W. Bush administration, when we
learned how policy toward that part of the world was being made inside the
Bush White House.
Rick Perlstein reported at that time for "The Village Voice", that the
top Middle East staffer on George W. Bush`s National Security Council, had
held secret, formal consultations with apocalyptic Christian groups who
wanted to make sure that American policy toward Israel was doing everything
possible to bring about the second coming of Christ on earth. These groups
wanted to make sure that the borders of Israel lined up exactly with what
the Bible said it needed to be to bring about the apocalypse. Seriously.
So, the top guy or Near East and North African affairs for the
National Security Council met with the apocalypse seekers, met with these
Christian apocalypse groups, to assure them that it was biblically OK for
the Bush administration to favor Israel giving up the Gaza Strip because,
he explained to them, there is a specific way to read the Old Statement
that shows that that it would be all right and it wouldn`t get in the way
of the coming rapture, Jesus wouldn`t mind.
So, Rick Perlstein in 2004, he does this reporting. He finds out this
is going on in the Bush White House. He calls the National Security
Council spokesman to ask what is going on. The initial response to Mr.
Perlstein is, why would the White House comment on that?
Quote, "When asked whose job it is in the Bush administration to study
the Bible, to discern what parts of Israel were or were not acceptable
sacrifices for peace, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones
said that even his previous statements in this conversation had been off
It`s amazing thing, right? Everybody`s religious beliefs are their
own and by definition in this country, nobody`s religious beliefs are
better than anybody else`s, everybody gets to decide what they believe.
And if you believe that getting every single Jew in the world physically
inside Israel and making sure that the national boundaries are exactly what
you believe is prescribed by a specific part of the Bible, you if you think
that`s the way that human beings can start the apocalyptic rapture and the
end of the world and four horsemen and all the rests of it, then God bless
you, it is what you believe.
It does however become a news story and conceivably a matter of some
debate when your belief that`s what you need to do ends up driving U.S.
foreign policy toward that theological aim, and when the people who make
foreign policy in this country are consulting you about what the United
States ought to do abroad, then, yes, yes, yes, that is news. It`s
The George W. Bush administration was really amazing. I cannot wait
until the National Archives someday finally takes over the Bush
Presidential Library in Texas and we finally get an actual exhibit or
diorama or something about that part of the Bush foreign policy, that part
where it wasn`t just an accident that we were almost bringing about the end
of the world. It was the point -- that was the strategy. We were trying
But these end-of-the-world, bring about the rapture guys were not just
here for George W. Bush. They are still around and end up making news
every few years because they want to be politically influential. They are
trying to use the United States as an instrument of their biblical use.
And to be clear, this is not just the religious right proudly
speaking, right, trying to impose religious doctrine on the country as a
matter of policy, trying to get antiabortion stuff and anti-contraception
stuff, and the antigay stuff forced into policy. This is different. These
are not people trying to change the United States because they want the
United States to be different.
No, the folks we`re talking about here are the ones who are trying to
use the United States as an instrument to achieve biblical prophesy and
their plans have a lot to do with Jewish people, converting Jewish people
to Christianity, with moving Jewish people around the world in
geographically strategic ways in order to bring Christ back and kick off
the rapture. These guys pop up in conservative politics over and over
again, usually, something to do with Texas.
So, in 2008, when John McCain was securing the Republican nomination
for president and running against Barack Obama, John McCain sought and
received the endorsement of a megachurch pastor from Texas named John
Hagee. Pastor Hagee got a lot of attention at the time of that endorsement
because he was really super, super, super, rabidly anti-Catholic. He`s the
guy who called the Catholic Church the whore of Babylon, remember?
But John Hagee`s real quick has always been Israel. He founded
Christians United for Israel. He`s published books like "The Battle for
Jerusalem" and "Jerusalem Countdown" and "In Defense of Israel", which kind
of sounds good for the Jews.
This is what John Hagee means though when you really get him to spell
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HAGEE, PASTOR: God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes
with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. How did I happen?
Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, my
top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: God sent Hitler to get the Jews into Israel, so, you know, it
was a good thing? Wow.
This guy`s a big influential Texas televangelist megachurch guy. And
so, John McCain went and sought his endorsement when he was running for
president, and then he got that endorsement and then, ultimately, John
McCain had to give it back when it turned out he`s the God sent Hitler guy.
You can`t take that guy`s endorsement.
And it turns out his whole idea of defending Israel is just getting
all the Jews there at once so God can zap them all at one time and kick off
the apocalypse that we`ve all been waiting for.
So, these guys exist. These guy turned up every once in a while, and
they are still around. They`ve not gone anywhere.
Last year, a group called the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, they
held their big annual meeting to talk about their strategy to bring about
the second coming of Christ, and the end of the world. Their plan to
hasten those end days is to proselytize Jewish people -- to convert Jewish
people, they hope by the millions, convert Jewish people to accept Jesus as
their messiah. This is how they`re trying to trigger the end of the world.
And last year, at their big event in Texas, their keynote speaker was
Glenn Beck, to whom they gave a Defender of Israel Award before -- I kid
you not -- they all sat town to a big pork barbecue on the 50 yard line of
the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Yes!
And it`s fascinating. They used a lot of Jewish iconography and
stuff. They try very hard to seem very pro-Jewish, but the big idea is to
proselytize Jews people and make Jews accept Jesus as the messiah, so that
once they`ve done that to enough, Jews, then the end of the world will
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE WILKS: There`s a restoration of Jewish faith in the messiah and
an understanding in the gentile church and together, God`s bringing these
to somehow fulfill his in time purposes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The growth of the gospel being received by Jewish
people is promised, the end of the book.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help us to raise up an army, an end time army.
Every contribution matters. If it`s a dollar, a hundred dollars, a
thousand dollars, a million dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Give us a million dollars and we will convert more just so
the world will end.
Guess who`s the keynote speaker for that group at their major
fundraising event next week in Irving, Texas?
George W. Bush, that guy, our last president before the one we`ve got
now. There is on the invitation. He`s the marquee attraction at the fund-
raiser. He is the president in this evening with a president.
And you can join him for the low, low price of $100,000, you can buy
the president`s package, offer includes a personal geographic tour of
Israel, plus company branding on promotional pieces, invitations for 20
people to the VIP reception, including photo opportunity with President
George W. Bush and 10 signed copies of the president`s book and 10 passes
to the new presidential library, all of that and dinner for 100 grand.
If you do not have $100,000, do not worry, cheaper tickets are
available. For $100, you can buy one of these volunteer seats, though you
are not guaranteed this seat by registering online. For the 100 volunteer
deal, you have to fill out a form and get approved.
I should tell you, cannot find these pages online anymore, but we have
posted screen shots of them at MaddowBlog.com if you want to check them out
tonight. The originals were taken down because "Mother Jones" just
published an article about George W. Bush fundraising for this group.
As far as we can tell, George W. Bush is still speaking at the group`s
event, even though all the information about the money he`s raising for
them has now been taken down off the Web site. Wow!
Joining us now is the investigative journalist who broke the story in
`Mother Jones", Sarah Posner.
Sarah, thanks very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to have
SARAH POSNER, MOTHER JONES: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, former presidents tend to spend their time on global
charities and disaster relief and so on. Do you have any insight into why
President George W. Bush is speaking to an apocalyptic group like this?
POSNER: I was actually surprised to find out he was speaking to this
group. As you pointed in the great lead in here, his alliances with
evangelicals and with Christian Zionists are longstanding and well-
documented, but for Jews, these Messianic Jews, so people who may actually
be evangelical Christian, or maybe people who were born and raised Jewish,
but who identify as messianic Jews, for this Jews, this is kind of beyond
I mean, I think with Christian Zionists and evangelicals, pro-Israel
Jewish groups have, you know, made peace with them even though they have
these apocalyptic ideas, they`re pro-Israel, but they`re basically saying,
look, we`re going to identify as Jewish, but we`re going to tell all you
Jewish people that you`ve been blind for 2,000 years to the identity of the
real messiah and we`re going to use all of your rituals and sacred objects
and identify ourselves as Jews and say that, you know, we`re the real Jews
because we see Jesus as the messiah, as was prophesied in the Bible, they
MADDOW: So, George W. Bush, obviously, his personal religious beliefs
are his own and everybody`s beliefs deserve their own respect. As a
political matter though, I am surprised that somebody with his political
instincts and his political achievements in life would not see how
alienating this move is. You quote a rabbi who`s been described as the
most influential rabbi in America today, tweeting about this news. Quote,
this is infuriating.
Is there a lack of understanding how upsetting this is going to be to
POSNER: Perhaps, but it`s no secret that Jews find messianic Judaism,
it might be more familiar to people as Jews for Jesus, that they find this
insulting and offensive. So, I`m not really sure whether this was
something not vetted properly by the Bush people or whether he thinks this
is really a grand idea. Either way, it`s highly problematic and I think
that there are a lot of people in Jewish community who are going to find it
highly problematic and he`s probably going to have to explain to some
people what it was that he was doing there.
MADDOW: With George W. Bush at least for now, still planning to be at
this event, a very high dollar event next week, last year, it was Glenn
Beck, who is not a politician but who he is a political figure on the
right. Before that, it was Oliver North. A similar event was headlined
within the last year by Rick Santorum.
What is the connection between right wing politics and these groups?
Why is there the political dovetailing?
POSNER: Well, the political dovetailing is over Israel. So, and it`s
also over America as a Christian or a Judeo Christian nation and what they
see as America`s prophetic role in the, what they call the restoration of
Israel or, you know, like you say, it`s really about the end times.
So, it tends to be couched as a pro Israel position. That`s the
position that Christians Zionists, evangelicals can take and somebody like
John Hagee who`s promised Jewish leaders and Israeli government officials
that we won`t proselytize to Jews. So, it`s an alliance that they have
made pro-Israel folks, pro-Israel Jews had made peace with because they
think that Hagee is providing support to Israel.
And it`s true that somebody like John Hagee will gather up followers
to lobby on the Hill, sanctions against Iran or military strikes against
Iran or what have you. And so, I think for people who share that position,
he`s seen as an ally.
The messianic Jewish community doesn`t really get involved in politics
in particularly that way. They`re much more focused on religion and
proselytizing to Jews. And so, I think that for even for people within the
hawkish pro-Israel Jewish community, that this is going to be highly
MADDOW: Sarah Posner, investigative journalist, and a contributor to
"Mother Jones" -- thanks for doing the leg work on this. We would not have
known about it had you not done this. I never would have thought to look
to see if this was coming. It`s mind blowing.
Thank you very much for being here.
POSNER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots to come. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work out so much because it actually calms me
down. Some of the stuff I experience in my life is extreme edginess,
extreme. One minute I can be your best friend and all of a sudden you just
say hi to me I want to tear your head off.
If I drink a coffee, I feel like my heart will explode. I am already
like, you know, just like a machine gun, but it`s my heart.
I can`t sleep at night. If I get over four hours of sleep a night
something is wrong. I will see bikes, leaning up against telephone poles,
I think man its that going to blow, what an IED is, you never know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: PTSD is a chemistry change in your brain. You`ve
sit and you think about all of the bad times. It is like replaying a movie
in your head, over and over. Hits the end, rewinds, just plays again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ahead of Veterans Day, which is this Monday, you are going to
watch MSNBC, more than you might usually over this weekend. At noon on
Sunday, Iraq combat veteran and former congressman, Patrick Murphy, is
hosting a show here called "Taking the Hill." It`s going to include part
of the Wounded Warrior documentary series which is really, really, really
So, Veterans Day is Monday. Happy Veterans Day. But noon Eastern on
Sunday, is when you want to check out this very cool new thing that we are
doing here on MSNBC. Noon Sunday.
And coming up next, the single most surprising thing about what just
happened in this year`s elections you have not heard it anywhere else.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: On the Sunday morning talk shows, if a single person makes an
appearance in all five shows in the same morning, that`s called a full
Ginsburg, named after Monica Lewinsky`s lawyer who maybe was the first
person to ever pull that off back in 1998.
Well, this weekend, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is doing an all
most full Ginsburg. He`s skipping CNN but will appear on NBC, CBS, ABC,
and FOX, 80 percent of a full Ginsburg.
The reason Governor Christie is a hot ticket right now is because not
only was he re-elected as a Republican in a blue state, he was also re-
elected by a big margin. Look, he defeated his underfunded Democratic
challenger by 22 points. That is supposed to be the mega margin of
victory, the story of this year`s elections of Chris Christie`s bright
future, 22 points.
But you know what? Just across the river from New Jersey, the
Democratic candidate for New York City mayor chewed up that 22-point margin
and spit it out in disgust. You want to talk big wins? You want to talk
big margin of victory? Look at this.
The new Democratic mayoral elect to the nation`s largest city built
the well-regarded Republican he was up against, by what is that 50 points,
49 points? He more than doubled Chris Christie`s margin of victory. And
maybe that doesn`t seem look all of that big of news, well, jeez, New York
City is so Democratic.
But New York City has not elected a Democrat as mayor since 1993, Mike
Bloomberg was a Republican, independent, before him. Rudy Giuliani was, of
course, a Republican. It has been 20 years since there was a Democrat
running New York.
And as New York gets ready for its first Democratic mayor, look what
is happening across the country. This is weird and I confess if Alexander
Burns hadn`t written this stuff for "Politico" a couple of weeks before the
elections, I wouldn`t have noticed it. But this is amazing.
As recently as the year 2000, if you look at the list of the top 12
largest cities in America, half the mayors were Democrats and half were
Republicans. The ratio was 6:6 for our biggest mayors in year 2000. But
now, after this week`s big Democratic win in New York, when you look across
the country, look, the big cities, all of them, all 12 of them, all of them
have Democratic mayors. The ratio is 12-0.
You have to go down to Indianapolis, the 13th largest city in the
country before you find one city with a Republican mayor.
How did this happen? And it is not even just a fluke of the top 12.
If you look at the top 30 cities in the country, as of January, 27 of the
30 largest cities in the country will be run by Democrats, only three by
Republicans. Our cities in America right now are a sea of blue.
Since all of the Sunday shows are going to be having the exact same
discussion with the exact same guy this weekend, I`m sure this issue will
not come up. But it seems like an important dramatic change that happened
in our country and our politics.
If Republican governance has disappeared from urban America entirely,
it really has, why is that? And doesn`t that mean that something is wrong
with what is supposed to be our two party system?
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "UP LATE WITH ALEC BALDWIN."
Have of a great weekend. Good night.
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