THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
November 11, 2013
Guest: Max Smith, Bettina Luescher, Jon Erpenbach
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy Veterans Day!
Something weird is going on in Virginia. The iconic visual memory
from the recount of the presidential vote in Florida in the 2000 election
is probably this guy? Remember him? His amazing, bulgy eyeballs, staring
at those postcard ballots from Florida?
This poor guy, trying to discern voter intent in those punch cards.
He was kind of the iconic visual memory of Florida 2000, right? Well, this
is the commonwealth of Virginia today. Ringing any bells?
In Virginia right now, the election is not over, despite the calendar.
We know that Bishop E.W. Jackson is not going to be lieutenant governor in
Virginia. We know that Ken Cuccinelli is not going to be governor in
But you know what? Ken Cuccinelli is still the attorney general of
that state, and that turns out to be really, really important, given that
the election is not yet over. For the last generation or so, attorneys
general in Virginia have stepped down if they wanted to run for some other
office in order to avoid a conflict of interest. One of the jobs of the
attorney general is to help settle any legal disputes or any legal
wrangling over elections and how the vote is counted. That`s a really
awkward thing to do if you yourself are running in that election.
So, all those guys stepped down. Ken Cuccinelli, however, did not.
Ken Cuccinelli was never bothered by the prospect of having to weigh in
legally on an election where he was on the ballot. Ken Cuccinelli became
the first attorney general in 30 years in Virginia to not step down from
that job when he ran for governor.
And now, yes, it`s true, his governors race is settled, but the race
that is outstanding is the race to replace him as attorney general, and
that race is as close as you can possibly believe. Ahead of Election Day,
it was pretty clear this race was going to be close.
I mean, the E.W. Jackson race was pretty clearly going to be a
blowout. The Ken Cuccinelli/Terry McAuliffe governor`s race looked like it
was going to be a blowout. It ended up being closer than the polls
indicated, but still, it wasn`t really all that close.
The attorney general`s race, though, between a Cuccinelli acolyte
named Mark Obenshain, the Republican, and a Democrat named Mark Herring,
that race, polled close from the beginning. It has never been anything
other than too close to call since the polls closed last week.
By the day after Election Day, there were only about 200 votes between
them. By the day after that, there were something like 700 votes between
them. By this morning, the number of votes between them was down to 17.
Over the hours today, the margin between these two candidates flipped
sides and crept up to 117 votes, out of more than 2.2 million cast. It is
this close in Virginia.
Here`s the thing, though. Here`s the problem. Fairfax County,
Virginia has 95 counties. Fairfax County up there in the top right,
Fairfax County by population is by far the most ginormous county in the
state. It also leans really quite Democratic. President Obama in 2012 won
Virginia by about 115,000 votes. His margin of victory in Fairfax county
was nearly 85,000 votes. That`s where he got that margin.
So, yes, Fairfax County is the mother lode for Democrats, to the
extent that Virginia is a purple state. Fairfax County is the blue part of
the purple. And in Fairfax county, there is some trouble.
Heading into the voting period, Republicans should have recognized
that there was going to be trouble, should have recognized the omen that
things were going to be difficult, when the local Republican Party in that
county objected to a button that Democratic Party volunteers wanted to wear
at polling places. The local Republicans said Democrats should not be
allowed to wear such a partisan political slogan anywhere near where people
were actually voting.
The objectionable slogan on the button was this -- every vote counts!
The Republican Party of Fairfax County Virginia, objects to that blatantly
partisan sentiment! They tried to get those pins banned.
"Every vote counts!" Are you kidding? That`s so Democratic! They
tried to get those pins banned. It did not work, but it should have been a
sign that they tried.
On election night, there was yet more weirdness. There seemed to be
thousands of votes just missing in Fairfax County.
When people requested absentee ballots to vote in this election in
Virginia, in other counties, the proportion of those ballots that actually
got returned, when people followed through and filled out the ballot and
turned it in, the percentage was well over 80 percent in other counties.
So, up in congressional districts in the northern part of the state, it was
like an 88 percent return on those absentee ballots or 86 percent.
But in the most heavily Democratic parts of Fairfax County, in the
congressional district that is the bluest part of that whole blue county,
it wasn`t 80 percent, 85 percent, 90 percent of the people turning in their
absentee ballots. For some reason, there and just there, it was only 50
Why is that?
If you did the math, it turned out that it was more than 3,000
absentee ballots that you would have expected from those parts of the state
that just inexplicably never turned up. Why was the return rate so low
there when it was really consistently high elsewhere?
That weird gap was first noticed by a Democratic activist and sort of
Virginia elections geek named Ben Tribbett, who started posting about it on
election night and then kept tweeting about it in detail.
That earned him this sort of angry response from the Republican chair
of the county elections board, quote, "To respond to rumors going around,
there are zero, zero, zero uncounted absentee ballots in Fairfax County!
We completed our count last night."
Despite that admirably emphatic repetition, there were not zero, zero,
zero absentee ballots in Fairfax County. There were 3,000, 3,000, 3,000 of
them, just like the Democratic activist guy had figured.
After Dave Wasserman from the "Cook Political Report" and some other
folks, too, started digging through the records and realizing that it did
look like Fairfax County was missing a few thousand votes, eventually, the
county board did concede that, yes, despite earlier denials it was true.
They hadn`t counted all the votes. They had lost about 3,200 absentee
ballots in a heavily Democratic part of Fairfax County -- not in the sense
that the ballots physically disappeared or anything, it was just that
somebody forgot to add them to the overall vote count after they were
That led to a -- it has to be said, a contrite and very polite climb-
down from the guy who had been all "zero, zero, zero!", the guy who denied
a problem before retracted his statement and they apologized and explained
what they did wrong.
It also led to a statement from the local board, quote, "After a
thorough investigation of the situation surrounding the incorrect
tabulation of results in the 8th district, we have determined that there
were errors in the tabulation that reduced the final vote tally by
approximately 3,200 votes. Those errors were corrected."
And it was after that correction, after finding those mysteriously
lost 3,000-something ballots from really Democratic neighborhoods that we
got to the 17-vote difference between the two candidates that everybody
woke up to this morning.
But, oh, wait, the worst was yet to come. Happy Monday, because it
turns out Fairfax County has not counted all of its votes. There are still
provisional ballots left to be counted, and this is the truly amazing part.
This is the national politics story of this story.
Based on guidance from Ken Cuccinelli`s office, the state board of
elections has now ordered Fairfax County and Fairfax County alone to change
the way it`s counting its ballots. The state elections board, which is
mostly Republican, appointed by the outgoing Republican governor, Bob
McDonnell, say they took advice from Ken Cuccinelli`s office and decided to
send a notice to Fairfax County that the state has to change its long-
standing practice of the way it counts provisional ballots, has to change
its long-standing practice of having representatives from each party there
with the elections board advocating how the votes are counted, the way it`s
always been done in Fairfax County.
Now, in the middle of this election, in the middle of votes being
counted, state says it they have to change. The state now insists that the
voter himself or the voter herself must be there in person to participate
in the advocacy for their ballot.
This has never happened before. This is not the way they have done it
in Fairfax County. Even the local Republicans on the Fairfax County board
of elections say they disagree with this decision from the state.
The "zero, zero, zero" guy, the guy who denied there were any problems
with those 3,000 missing ballots? He says he disagrees with the state`s
decision. He says the state board`s guidance contradicts our past
practice. He says the state board has not told the county that this is a
discretionary matter. It has told them that they must comply with this
And so, now in Fairfax County, with something like 117 votes maybe
between the two candidates statewide, Fairfax County, in the Democratic
neighborhood in Virginia, they have extended the time frame under which
they are going to be counting provisional ballots until tomorrow night at
midnight, but that`s just because they`re going to try to get as many
voters as they can to come in individually to advocate for their ballots,
even though voters never knew they had to do that before and they`ve never
had to do that before in any election.
So, those voters have to know that some time between now and tomorrow
at midnight, they can come into the elections board in Fairfax County and
argue that their vote be counted. New rule.
The state board of elections clarifying tonight in a letter that they
really don`t know how things were done in Fairfax County in the past. They
don`t particularly care how things were done in Fairfax County in the past,
but this is the way they`re going to be done now. Now. Starting now.
And so, with one of the candidates in this election giving the advice,
Virginia is effectively just changing its rules for how votes get counted,
and that`s just for the most Democratic part of the state, and it`s
happening after the election, and it`s happening in the middle of counting
in a race that`s too close to call.
This started off as an amazing election. It looks like it is going to
end in a way that is even harder to believe.
Joining us now is Max Smith. He`s reporter for WTOP Radio, who broke
this story over the weekend.
Mr. Smith, this has been an exciting story to follow, and it`s amazing
stuff. It`s nice to have you here.
MAX SMITH, WTOP RADIO: Thanks, Rachel.
RACHEL: So, what`s happening in Fairfax County tonight? Are there
still ballots being counted?
SMITH: Yes, well, tonight, actually, the Fairfax County electoral
board is counting -- is voting on those provisional ballots. They`re not
counting all of them. They`re just voting whether to approve or disapprove
them or put them off until tomorrow.
As you said, they have until midnight tomorrow night to verify all of
their ballots and all of their final vote counts to the state electoral
board. They`ve corrected that 3,200 miscount. There was a separate
miscount down in Richmond where they say they`ve got that fixed tonight.
That`s what has Democrat Mark Herring in the lead by about 117 votes.
That`s about 0.005 percent.
In Fairfax County, they have approved so far 189 of those provisional
ballots. They`ve rejected 138 of them and they`re waiting to hear or
waiting to decide on 166 and the electoral board says they`ll be there all
night tonight and then back again tomorrow to hear from any more voters
that want to come forward and provide that last-minute information.
MADDOW: And in an election with more than 2 million votes counted,
thinking about 166 outstanding ballots, you usually would consider that to
be a rounding error. You`d never have to consider it, but with this race
this close, this could be everything.
I have to ask you, how with the campaigns for Mark Obenshain and Mark
Herring dealing with this news and how are they separating in this process?
SMITH: Well, they have both said that they`re going to win. They`ve
just been sitting there. In Fairfax County, the Democratic Party lawyers
at a meeting on Saturday, where they were correcting that big absentee
miscount or non inclusion in the count, the Democratic Party lawyers were
asking the Fairfax County board to wait, because the Fairfax County
electoral board, if they wait and discover any more little outstanding
votes, those are likely to go to the Democratic side.
So far in the attorney general`s race, Fairfax is 61 percent for
Democrats and 39 percent for the Republican, whereas down toward Richmond,
it`s the GOP who`s asking the board there to wait. They`re hoping that
they can get some votes thrown out by saying that there was an over-count,
so there were some machines that might have been double counted, and the
GOP wants to check those against the actual poll books where voters signed
But the electoral board there says that will require a court order,
which is probably where we`re headed anyway, once we head down towards a
MADDOW: And as we head toward court orders and towards the inevitable
recounts, and it sounds like maybe lawsuits in this case, there is this
thing that looks a little weird from the outside that maybe doesn`t seem
that weird from Virginia, which is that Ken Cuccinelli`s office is involved
in some way in adjudicating these matters and in giving advice to the
Fairfax County, or to the state board of elections, who`s then directing
Fairfax County what to do with those ballots, when he was a combatant in
Is that part of -- is that seen as a problem in the state by any of
the people involved, and is there any sense that he may have to exempt
himself from this process and have this decided in a less partisan way?
SMITH: Well, there were some people who brought up the issue of
whether he should resign back when he began to run, whether he should
resign from the attorney general`s office, as you pointed out earlier on in
But in this particular case, there are people in the progressive
blogosphere who have kind of taken this and run with it as this is some
sort of voter suppression or something like that. But in general, as far
as the way the actual local electoral boards are being run, everyone has
two Republicans and one Democrat, but there`s no sort of allegations in any
case that I`m aware of that anyone has been acting at the electoral board
level on a partisan basis.
In the Fairfax County case, the Democrat on the electoral board said
he strongly disagrees with the state board of elections` interpretation of
the law. One of the two Republicans said he disagrees, only disagrees, and
that got that loads of laughs in the room on Saturday, of course, when he
But in this particular case, the state board of elections insists that
this is how they have always interpreted the law. So, the law basically
says, a voter and their representative are two of the people who are
allowed in the meeting where they decide whether the ballot should be
accepted or rejected. The other people are the three members of that local
board of elections and one member of each party, the Republicans and the
And it`s the "and that" representative that has caused so much of an
issue here because the state board of elections interprets that law, which
was implemented in 2012, last year, as saying the voter and the
representative must both be there.
MADDOW: Both be there together, right.
SMITH: Fairfax County had been interpreting it as the voter or the
representative, because they`re both allowed to be in there.
MADDOW: And that had been their longstanding practice, and so making
them divert from longstanding practice in the middle of counting the votes
is amaze balls even in terms of national politics.
SMITH: That`s your words.
MADDOW: This is amazing. That`s my words, not yours.
Max Smith, reporter for WTOP Radio, covering northern Virginia.
You`ve been doing great work on this story, Max. Keep it up. Thank you
for your time tonight.
SMITH: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. There`s a lot of news tonight.
Some very determined Democrats have, at least for now, won a very big
fight in a state where they`re used to having very big fights.
And former President George W. Bush is into a bit of a pickle this
week, and he`s not saying whether it`s about money or whether it`s just
about the rapture, but we`ve got enough detail to help you decide at home.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The government of the Philippines has declared a national
state of calamity in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. The scale of the damage
is being expressed in numbers that are hard to wrap your head around.
Before it hit even, it was clear how massive this storm was going to
be. Meteorologists and government officials had seen the historically huge
storm tracking toward the country. And authorities moved as many as
800,000 people into evacuation centers ahead of landfall. Despite those
efforts, the event has affected close to 10 million people in the central
The typhoon is the same kind of storm as a hurricane, just in a
different part of the world, and Haiyan was the equivalent of a category 5
hurricane. They`ve decided to actually categorize it as a Super Typhoon.
Its peak offshore speed, the storm produced sustained winds of 195
miles an hour, gusts of 235 miles an hour, which is among the most powerful
storms ever recorded on Earth. I mean, that`s getting up toward tornado-
speed winds, but in a storm that`s hundreds of miles wide. The wind speed
at landfall included gusts of wind up to 170 miles an hour.
Crucially, along with the winds and heavy rain, there was an
unexpectedly massive storm surge of up to 20 feet, and that`s not a wave
that is 20 feet, that is a wall of water 20 feet higher than the sea
In the end, it was that flooding resulting from the risen sea which
took Filipino authorities by surprise and which did the most damage. The
"L.A. Times" now reporting that between 2 million and 3 million people may
have lost their homes. The official death toll stood at 1,774 people as of
earlier tonight, but officials and relief workers are expressing near
certainty that thousands more people died in the storm that are still
Many of the affected areas are isolated both geographically and in
terms of communications, which, of course, is its own difficulty in those
local areas, but also in the big picture, that means that relief efforts
for the whole region are having to be conducted without good information
about the breadth or the depth of the damage.
The largest population center to be hit massively is the city of
Tacloban, which is a population of about 200,000. The city was essentially
leveled, leaving people without access to water, food, medicine or power.
Thousands of people have been separated from their families. Thousands of
people are presently in need of life-saving supplies, and frankly,
evacuation to safer places.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my dad`s only chance for life. I said
either we have to leave tomorrow morning, today, or we`re going to go
somewhere else, but he needs dialysis, and he`s been off it now for two
days and he`s in critical condition. So, if the world`s out there, send
help! Because these people need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The United States Agency for International Development,
USAID, has thus far committed about $20 million in the immediate aftermath
of the storm. U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade are
already in the Philippines tonight along with aircraft and supplies.
Tonight, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also ordered the USS George
Washington aircraft carrier along with two cruisers, a destroyer and a
supply ship to, quote, "make best speed" for the Philippines. The crew of
that carrier group were on short leave at Hong Kong but were recalled to
their ships in order to set sail immediately.
That carrier group is equipped for disaster relief efforts, including
helicopter squadrons on the carrier. They also are well equipped for
medical services. They`re setting sail tonight, expecting to be on scene
in 48 to 72 hours.
What those 5,000 American sailors and hundreds of U.S. Marines will
find what they get there is the gearing up of a massive government and NGO
effort to feed, shelter and care for just millions of displaced people.
Joining us now is Bettina Luescher. She`s spokesperson for the United
Nations World Food Programme, one of the primary world relief organizations
working in the Philippines tonight.
Ms. Luescher, thanks very much for being with us.
BETTINA LUESCHER, U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, your organization, I know, was on the ground very
quickly, within the first 12 hours. What did you find when you first
arrived and what has been able to happen thus far?
LUESCHER: Utter devastation when our people first got there. The
streets are full of debris, the ships are gone, the harbors have been
damaged. People have lost their homes. The airport is damaged.
It is utter devastation and people are really desperate. And what we
are doing as the World Food Programme is, we are on one side bringing food
relief to the world, but we`re also the logistics arms of the United
Nations. So, we help support the whole international community in their
We`re working very, very closely with the Philippine government,
because partnership is everything in this kind of situation. When nature
strikes like this, the world really has to come together and I think that`s
what is happening now.
MADDOW: I know you were involved personally with some of the relief
efforts after the tsunami. When you look at the scale, and specifically at
the type of devastation this is, are there lessons learned from the
experience of the tsunami that will help in structuring aid this time?
LUESCHER: Yes, I think to me, the most vivid memory of the tsunami,
which we see the pictures, is nowadays, you see how houses have been swept
away, and often the only thing that`s left are the kitchen floors, the
tiles. Nothing else is there. Where families, you know, had spent their
days together, now everything is gone.
And I think that is to me the horrible memory of when I look and
compare. I think we`ve learned huge lessons of how we coordinate, how we
operate, how we really bring everybody together, and let me explain h that
We from the World Food Progamme for the U.N., the humanitarian
response despot, strategic places around the world -- Asia, Africa, Latin
America, and we`ve mobilized our folks in Malaysia and in Dubai, and they
were flying in everything that you need to do an aid operation.
For example, one thing is we have these high-energy biscuits on the
way. The first initial shipment will be enough for 130,000 people. That`s
But also, mobile warehouses, mobile offices, telecom equipment, which
you mentioned in the beginning. We are the guys who are bringing in the
I.T. and the emergency telecom system because nothing works.
LUESCHER: And I think that is the reason, you know, that we are
hopeful that this will really take off, but I think people will see a lot
of suffering in the next days and weeks. This is going to be a long, long
road ahead for the people of the Philippines.
MADDOW: In the USAID announcement tonight, they announced $20 million
for the U.N. World Food Programme. I know government making larges scale
donations is going to have the biggest impact structurally on what you`re
able to do. Do individual donations from regular people at regular human
scale make a difference? Do they add up enough to --
LUESCHER: They do. I mean, they pale always in comparison to what
governments do, you know?
LUESCHER: We need tens of millions of dollars just for the World Food
Programme. But if people out there want to do something, you can go to our
Web site, wfp.org/typhoon, wfp.org/typhoon. Or you can make a donation.
You text "AID" to the number 27722, and then $10 will go from your mobile
I think it`s important that we really do something there. We, in this
city, we`re struck by a hurricane. We`ve seen what it does in a
metropolis. Imagine if you get swept by much stronger forces if you live
in a little village close to the water line.
MADDOW: Bettina Luescher, spokesperson for the U.N. World Food
Programme -- thank you for your time tonight and good luck. And I`ll just
tell our viewers, if you would like more information on the World Food
Programme or any of the other agencies that are helping survivors in the
Philippines, we`ve got links to get you started at Maddowblog.com. If you
want to go directly, as Bettina said, wfp.org/typhoon.
All right. Lots ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Usually, if you are employed, you have a boss, not everybody,
but most of us have a boss. And at some point in your work life, you may
need to muster an appropriate level of courage to ask your boss for
something. So, like, hey, boss, can I have next Friday off to kick-start
my weekend fishing trip? Please? And your boss might say something like,
Or, can I pretty please leave early tonight so I can catch at least
part of the Red Sox game in the World Series? And then if your boss is
like my boss, he says something like I`m going to pretend like you didn`t
just ask me for that.
Hey, boss, can I get a raise and a promotion? I`m sorry. I have to
take this call, even though the phone did not ring.
Talking to your boss can be awkward. Having to ask your boss for
things you want is often the most awkward boss thing of all, but can you
even imagine having to walk in your boss`s office to say, can I please have
access to birth control? I would like to start using the pill, boss, is
that OK with you?
I asked my boss, bill, today how he would feel about that question
from an employee and he said I would rather have you ask me about the Red
Sox again. Oh, my God, leave me alone.
But yet, that question to your boss about whether he`s OK with you,
like, having an IUD implanted? Yes, that question is exactly what
Republicans in Wisconsin want you to have to ask your boss, and that is
coming up next.
MADDOW: In the spring of 1993, a seat in the Wisconsin state assembly
opened up. A 25-year-old Republican had his eye on that seat. He didn`t
live in the district, he had no real experience in politics, but he wanted
the seat, so he picked up, he moved to the district, threw his hat in the
His name was Scott Walker, and he ended up getting the unlikely
backing of the state`s largest newspaper, "The Milwaukee Sentinel," kind of
an unlikely endorsement. The paper said, quote, "Walker has been endorsed
to Wisconsin Right to Life. We make no secret we disagree with him on the
abortion issue. This is a pro-choice newspaper."
Yet, that Milwaukee paper endorsed Scott Walker, Mr. Walker won the
seat and he`s been working against women`s reproductive health rights ever
In 1999, Assemblyman Scott Walker authored a budget proposal to
essentially outlaw teaching abortion techniques to trainee doctors in
medical schools. No state employee, including at the state`s medical
schools, would be allowed to teach information about the abortion
procedure. Violators would face a $1,000 fine. The chairman of the
Department of Obstetrics and Oncology at the University of Wisconsin
Medical School said at the time, "It is a stone age proposal. These people
A couple years later, Scott Walker proposed a bill to disallow medical
professionals refuse to fill your prescription if your prescription was for
emergency birth control and your pharmacist thought that as a religious
matter, you should not have that.
Scott Walker got his start as antiabortion activist. He had been
chairman of students for life when in college, and he started in on
antiabortion legislation as soon as he was first elected to anything. And
now, that antiabortion activist, that lifelong antiabortion activist is the
governor of Wisconsin.
Since he took office, Wisconsin has cut off funding to Planned
Parenthood, shutting down half the clinics in the state. He and the
Republicans in the state legislature also passed a TRAP law designed to
close down the other half of the clinics in the state. Governor Walker
already signed that into law, but it hasn`t gone into effect yet because a
federal judge so far has blocked it.
But that`s not enough. There is more they want to do. Wisconsin
Republicans are moving yet further legislation for yet further restrictions
on abortion and on contraception.
These bills already passed in the assembly. Now, they have to clear
the full senate where Republicans are in the majority. If they passed,
Governor Walker would surely sign them.
Senate Republicans had decided as of last week to push these new bills
tomorrow. They were going to push these through on the last day of voting
for this session. They wanted the vote to happen tomorrow and they wanted
to hold that vote without ever holding a public hearing on the issue, and I
think I know why.
One of the bills they wanted to vote on without discussing in public
includes an amendment that says that employees of religiously affiliated
organizations will only be allowed to have their birth control covered by
their health insurance if the contraception is prescribed for a reason
other than preventing pregnancy.
So, think about this for a second:
"A," your boss has the right to decide whether or not you can get
birth control covered on your health insurance.
"B," the basis on which he or she gets to decide this is whether or
not he or she is satisfied that you`re not using birth control for some
dirty, dirty sex-related reason. No, no, it has to be for some other
thing. You need to explain to your boss what that other thing is.
So, Wisconsin Republicans` idea is that your boss gets to personally
interrogate you and everybody else who works for them about why exactly you
want to use this contraception.
Do you want to talk to your boss about fibroids, heavy periods,
cramping? Because that would suddenly be your boss`s business. And on
those grounds, your boss would have the legal grounds on which to give you
a thumbs up or a thumbs down about whether or not you can have access to
birth control. See you at lunch!
In response to this amazing antiabortion, anti-contraception bill, one
Democratic state senator, John Erpenbach, who opposes both bills, promises
all-out hell if Republicans stuck to their plan to take out these bills
without a public hearing. And, presumably, by that, he meant an all out
hell session similar to the one Wisconsin had on these issues back in June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re interrupting a roll call. Sit down! Right
Call the roll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Carpenter, Coles, Colin --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re interrupting a roll call, and that will not
be tolerated! Sit down!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, Wisconsin nice. That guy with the glasses completely
losing his mind, that`s the Republican president of the state senate in
Wisconsin, Senator Mike Ellis. He was slamming his gavel so hard that day,
trying so hard to shut everybody up, to pass a bill forcing Wisconsin women
to undergo a mandatory state-ordered medically unnecessary ultrasound that
he literally broke the base of his gavel by pounding it that hard. He
And that is the type of session that was promised by the Democrats
tomorrow, if the Republicans went ahead with the "ask your boss" bill.
We are learning now that the threat of raising hell may have worked,
at least for the time being. That bill is not on the calendar tomorrow,
and tomorrow`s the last day of the session.
The spokesman for the Republican Senate majority says that the bill
will not come up tomorrow after all because Republicans have now decided
they`d like to end this session with a light calendar.
Joining us now for the interview is Wisconsin State Senator Jon
Erpenbach, who -- it should be noted -- became a national pin-up senator
for Democrats everywhere in the huge fight over union rights in Wisconsin.
Senator Erpenbach, it`s nice to see you again. Thanks for being here.
STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, when you threatened all out hell if they moved these
bills tomorrow without a public hearing, what did you mean and why did you
ERPENBACH: Well, I was really frustrated with the whole process
during the committee hearing because they tried to take the assembly bill
and make it like the Senate bill and saying there was no change at all,
when in fact there was a huge change, what you alluded to earlier, that
certain employers would have to give employees permission to use
contraception under certain scenarios, which to me was very frustrating,
because if the public knew, they would be outraged. And so, the idea of
the all out hell was basically making sure we took our time very concisely
but loudly to let people of Wisconsin know exactly what the Senate
Republicans were up to with this legislation.
MADDOW: Do you think you have just stopped it for the minute, and as
soon as you guys are back in session, they`re going to bring these things
back up in the same way, or -- I mean, it`s not like you have much leverage
right now in the Senate in terms of your actual numbers.
ERPENBACH: No, we really don`t, and I do, in all likelihood, expect
to see something or a similar version of this in January or February, when
we return after tomorrow. There are some people, Rachel, that we deal with
at the Capitol and around the state of Wisconsin, very few people, mind
you, who actually think contraception is a form of abortion. So their
whole goal is to essentially make it as difficult as you possibly can to
get contraception for whatever reason.
And so, I expect the legislation to come back at some point, simply
because you have a minority of the majority party within their own caucus
controlling what`s coming up on the floor and what`s not coming up on the
floor. So, I expect it to come back some time in January.
MADDOW: Governor Walker has a book coming out, imminently, which is
an I`m running for president book pretty clearly, starting to do the
national rounds, you know. He`s talking to some big-money Republican folks
in New York. I think some time this week. It seems like he`s very much
keeping his options open, at least, for 2016.
When you think about the rest of the country looking at the Scott
Walker experience in Wisconsin, what should the rest of the country know
about that when you consider his governing record?
ERPENBACH: I think the rest of the country should ask Scott Walker
when he visits their state, which apparently, he`s doing an awful lot of
lately, to ask him to get very, very specific where he exactly stands on
the issues. He won the governors race without being too specific. He
said, I`ll create 250,000 jobs. And when people said how, he couldn`t
So, on very specific issues, whether it`s reproductive rights, whether
it`s the economy, whether it`s jobs, you name it, ask him to get specific.
What do you mean by that? Don`t be afraid to ask a follow-up question.
His style of governing is basically to divide and conquer, it is
forcing, at least in Wisconsin, everybody to pick a side, for example, on
the collective bargaining issue. And neighbors were torn apart, families
were torn apart. You witnessed it. It was very ugly and we`re still
trying to recover from something like that.
So, rather than govern by consensus as best as you can, he just
basically goes in and divides and con answers. So, I would expect him to
take the same sort of attitude if he ever were to become president, which I
highly doubt is going to happen. I think he likes to keep an eye on the
White House. I don`t think he`ll ever get there, but at the same time,
people need to be aware of Governor Walker and people like Governor Walker.
MADDOW: Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach, thank you for your
time tonight. This has been -- watching these bills moved in the Senate
and seeing you get louder and louder about it, I knew it was going to end
in an interesting way. Thanks for helping us understand it, sir.
ERPENBACH: All right. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. News you can use coming up next. News about the
rapture, the four horsemen of the apocalypse and one very, very angry rabbi
-- straight ahead.
MADDOW: When presidents are no longer presidents, they usually devote
themselves to good works of the fairly noncontroversial variety. The
impact of the super typhoon in the Philippines right now is a reminder that
after we saw similar devastation in Haiti, with the huge earthquake there
in 2010, President Obama tapped former President Clinton and former
President Bush to together lead what they called the Clinton-Bush Haiti
fund. The former presidents` fund raised and gave away more than $50
million in economic aid after that disaster in Haiti.
Bill Clinton also has his Clinton Global Initiative. Jimmy Carter, of
course, supports Habitat for Humanity. He does elections monitoring around
Who knows how President Obama will spend his post-presidency time? I
did the math today and I almost couldn`t believe it, but I think he is only
going to be 55 years old when he leaves office. So, that presumably will
mean he`ll have a long time to be the ex-president.
The de facto job of being an ex-president, generally speaking, is to
do relatively noncontroversial good works. Or if you`re George W. Bush,
you could spend that time trying to convert the Jews to Christianity so we
can have the second coming of Christ on Earth, and therefore, the
This is the invitation to $100,000 a plate fundraiser that former
President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote this week for
proselytizing Jews for Jesus bible group that tries to make Jewish people
turn to Christ. That group has an apocalyptic end times theology that
makes them believe that if they can only convince enough Jewish people to
turn to Jewish, that will trigger the second coming and the rapture and the
horsemen and all the rest.
George W. Bush is raising money for that group this week.
So far, the former president`s decision has been denounced as, quote,
"infuriating" by one of the country`s most influential rabbis. The Anti-
Defamation League which loves George W. Bush today put out this statement
announcing their disappointment.
"We were disappointed to learn that former President George W. Bush
has decided to move ahead with his plan to speak at a fundraising event for
an evangelical proselytizing group whose stated goal is to convert Jews to
Christianity. President Obama is a friend who has an abiding love and
respect for Israel and the Jewish people. I know that he does not
represent or embrace the purpose or the mission of this group. And
therefore, I wish he would not speak there."
Yes, I know, he`s still speaking there.
Sarah Posner at "Mother Jones" first broke the story Thursday night.
We interviewed her and the featured the story on this show on Friday.
By the time our story ran, the convert the Jews rapture group had
already removed any mention of former President Bush from their online hype
for the fundraiser. But according to the "Dallas Morning News", President
Bush is still planning on going to this thing. A Bush spokesman confirms
that the former president is speaking at the event, but decline to comment
further, even to say whether Bush will be paid.
But then, get this, look at this. A person close to President Bush
noted that the president speaks each year to many groups, secular and
religious, Christian and non-Christian. Last month, Bush addressed the
conference of presidents of major American Jewish organizations, quote, "So
he can talk to all of these other groups but not this one?" the person
Well, yes. This is the one that is raising money to convince the Jews
that Jesus is the messiah in order to bring about the second coming and
rapture. So, yes. Maybe this is the one that is weirding people out just
a touch. Especially the Jews.
There was the time when it was the 60th anniversary of the liberation
of Auschwitz, and Vice President Cheney turned up in a ski hat and a bright
green parka with a big white woolly frame like he was nine and this was a
sledding trip or something. There was that moment. That happened.
But the George W. Bush administration general had a really good
relationship with the Jewish community. He got a lot of votes from the
Jewish community. There`s no one has ever made the case that George W.
Bush does not like Jewish people or he is insensitive to the Jewish faith
I mean, really, no matter what else you think of him, he is not that
But he apparently is still planning on doing this Jews for Jesus
thing. Maybe for money? Maybe not. He won`t say.
He is apparently still planning on doing the convert the Jews
fundraiser Thursday night in Erving, Texas. Why on Earth would he be doing
this? And who told him this was a good idea? And shouldn`t one of the
other former presidents give him a call and help him out of this one?
Honestly, what is he thinking?
MADDOW: This is from "The New York Times" from November 1918:
Last week, when the false peace report dropped suddenly as if out of
the skies, on a city which had not expected the news at that particular
moment, New York was like a city which found itself saved. On every
countenance in the street, in the early hours of that day, before the peace
report was known to be false, there was a heartfelt unconscious smile of
rapture, an outward token of the coming to every man and woman of glad
tidings of great joy. The devil was dead and everybody felt a particular
personal interest in his demise.
1918, November 1918:
But the devil was not really dead. The first reports that World War I
was over, that a piece treaty had been signed, were false reports. New
York City lit up like the rocket`s red glare with excitement that the long
terrible war was over.
But the peace reports were early. It wasn`t true. Not yet. The war
actually would not end for another week. It was on the 11th hour of the
11th day of the 11th month when the armistice was signed in France.
The news that peace had come, the real news that it really had come
this time had made it around the world to New York City by 3:00 in the
morning on the next day, quote, "Nocturnal revelers going home heard the
news shouted by the news boys in Times Square as they ran out with the late
editions telling of the signing of the armistice. From uptown and
downtown, a crowd presently collected and read the bulletins, to get the
extras, and to stare up with that search light on "The Times" building,
which was flashing the news all over the city, that searchlights shown into
the windows of hotels and apartment houses and woke sleepers who had not
expected the news to come at such an hour but were ready to get up and
celebrate it when ever it came."
That was from the late edition, November 12th, 1918, "The New York
Before it was Veterans Day, it was Armistice Day, celebrating the end
of World War I. Not celebrating the war itself, celebrating the onset of
peace when that war was over.
Now, November 11th every year is Veterans Day and the president lays a
wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and our veterans march and parades and
renewed attention to disability claims backlog at the V.A. and vets` access
to good mental health treatment and to their education benefits under the
There is renewed attention to the unemployment rate for Iraq and
Afghanistan veterans, about a quarter million of whom are unemployed right
Veterans Day is not the somber day that Memorial Day is. Veterans Day
is a day to celebrate veterans, to say thank you for serving, especially at
a time when such a small proportion of our country has served in such long,
long, long wars. But as they said in 1918, the devil is not yet dead. The
war in Afghanistan, our country`s longest war ever is not over now and it
will not be over soon.
With more than 30,000 Americans still there, this time next year, the
American war in Afghanistan will still not be over, and it started in 2001.
The devil of that war is not yet dead but there is something
inextricable between Veterans Day and Armistice Day, between wishing the
best for everyone who has fought and risked their lives for this country
and wishing for the safety and safe return home of those who are still
Happy Veterans Day, everybody. It is 7:30 a.m. exactly right now in
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Have a great night.
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