THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 8, 2014
Guests: Heidi Hartmann
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Coming up on the show tonight, we have got some
amazing examples of the three stages of political confrontation, all
happening today, all happening live and on tape. I don`t think it was
planned that they would all happen today, but they did.
There is also an important new bit of information about the still-missing
Malaysian plane. It is a bit of information that needs explanation tonight
Unfortunately, explaining it will require me to stand up and to walk away
from my desk which is always upsetting for the camera crews here.
And of course, there is the Washington news today about equal pay, about
the Democrats and President Obama trying to reduce the pay gap between
women and men get paid in this country. The debate over whether policy can
and should try to fix that problem. It`s always been kind of a weird, but
now it is getting both really and really loud.
And we got those stories ahead tonight.
But we`re going to begin tonight with a very serious story out of
Wisconsin. A story that was already disturbing. We`ve talked about it a
little bit here on the show. But it has now taken a much more disturbing
and serious turn. It has now veered unexpectedly to involve a sitting
United States senator.
OK, here`s the story. You may remember back in 2011, there was a huge
fight over Republican legislators and the new Republican governor stripping
union rights in the state of Wisconsin. She called that fight in Wisconsin
contentious, does not do justice to the word contentious.
That fight gave rise to the largest protests that have ever seen in the
state. And to let the Democrats in the Wisconsin senate to desperate
measures. The Republicans have won majorities in the legislature in 2010,
and the Democrats knew they were outnumbered, just in terms of their voting
numbers. But they still were so outraged and so shocked by what the
Republicans were doing on this union rights issue, that the Democrats
actually fled the state to deny the Wisconsin Republicans the quorum they
would need to pass through the senate that bill stripping union rights.
The fight in the senate was so dramatic, at one point, you may remember the
Republicans sent state troopers to the Democratic senators` homes to try to
find them and physically drag them back to the state capitol.
The fight in the senate was over the top, it was really memorable. I still
have the commemorative t-shirts from that fight. But the fight in the
assembly, the other side of the state capitol, that was not nothing. The
way that fight ended in the assembly was that the Republicans started the
debate on the union bill on a Tuesday morning. The Democrats didn`t want
there to be a vote. They knew they were going to lose the vote. And the
Democrats decided they were going to everything they could to keep the
debate going as long as possible to stem off the threat of a vote.
The debate was opened up on Tuesday morning. The debate went all day long
into Tuesday, and into Tuesday night, overnight Tuesday, into Wednesday
morning, all day Wednesday into Wednesday night, overnight Wednesday, the
captivating in the Thursday morning, all through Thursday and Thursday
night, all one debate nonstop. They went for 60 straight hours.
But then after midnight, early Friday morning, suddenly, suddenly after 60
hours, after they have been there day and night and day and night, suddenly
with no worry the Republicans called a surprise attack.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MADDOW: There was still 15 Democrats waiting to speak in the debate, only
13 of the 38 Democrats in the chamber managed to even cast their vote. And
the time before the vote was closed, the Republican at the podium just
snap, open the vote, held it out for few seconds, ignored all the points of
order, and the cue of members waiting to speak, he banged the gavel, done
and that`s how they got it done.
And the guy who did that, the guy who was the Republican at the podium who
pulled that off is a Republican from a very Republican district in
Waukesha, Wisconsin named Bill Kramer. Republicans handing him the gavel,
to have him run through the union rights, that happened in February, 2011.
And of course, naturally, that made him a rising star.
By this past September, Bill Kramer was the Republican majority leader in
Wisconsin. WIASpolitics.com reported that at the time of the vote when he
got elected leader, that one Republican who is supporting his opponent in
the leadership election had stood up and argued to his colleagues that Bill
Kramer had exhibited a pattern of inappropriate behavior at Republican
events. That they should not support him for such a profile job.
These members said he had been to numerous political events with Bill
Kramer over the years, he cited quote "a behavior pattern that is prevalent
at every event I can remember." This Republican legislator said Bill
Kramer was unsuited to the leadership job, specifically citing his behavior
at an (INAUDIBLE) meeting in Chicago that had taken place the previous
month. This Republican legislator said to his caucus that Mr. Kramer`s
sexual innuendoes specifically out that Alec event showed that he should
not be in leadership.
But Wisconsin Republicans put him in leadership. They voted for him. He
won the majority leader job in September. And then it didn`t take long.
This is the BGR group. It is a major D.C. lobbying firm, Republican shop
run in part by former Mississippi governor and former Republican party
chairman Haley Barbour.
On February 26th, the BGR group hosted a top-dollar fund-raiser for
Wisconsin Republicans at BGR`s swank offices in downtown Washington, D.C.
Downtown D.C. is a long way from Madison, Wisconsin. It is 850 miles with
a shortcut through Akron. But this trip to D.C. is now become an annual
junket for Wisconsin Republicans politicians. They all fly from Wisconsin
down to this lobbyists office party in Washington D.C. And then D.C.
lobbyists and D.C. other people with money turn up to this fund-raiser,
they pay $5,000 a person, and that money goes to boosts, these Wisconsin
Republicans` prospects back at home.
And at that event this year, the Republican majority leader, Bill Kramer is
accused of sexually harassing two women, both verbally and physically.
According to the "Milwaukee Journal" sent multiple witnesses quote "alleged
that Bill Kramer hugged a legislated staffer and touched a staffer`s
breasts at a social event after the D.C. fund-raiser. He also allegedly
made vulgar remarks about his sexual pros to a lobbyist on that night and
then again the next day on the flight back to Wisconsin."
So, it was a Wednesday night that was the fund-raise at Haley Barbour`s
lobbying firm in D.C. That was the night that people say they saw Bill
Kramer grabbing the staffer`s breasts. The next day, Thursday on the
flight home he was harassing the lobbyist allegedly with remarks of his
owned pro ass (ph). That was Wednesday and then Thursday.
By Friday, Wisconsin media was buzzing about what had just happened on this
D.C. trip. Remember it was multiple witnesses are making these
allegations. Reporters were calling Bill Kramer at home.
By the time the Saturday morning papers were out in Wisconsin , Wisconsin`s
Republican leaders are started issuing statements calling the alleged
behavior by Bill Kramer quote "reprehensible" Saturday morning.
By Tuesday, Wisconsin Republican had voted unanimously to strip him of his
leadership job. But they didn`t (INAUDIBLE) and they didn`t kick him out
of the assembly.
The legislative aide who the allegedly groped at the fund-raiser event in
D.C., she did file a personal claim against him with her employer which
after all is the assembly. The clerk of a assembly is apparently still
looking into that personal claim. But nothing has happened with that so
Here`s where things took a really dark turn. The allegations of propping
and sexual harassment were first reported in the claims the Wisconsin press
in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 1st. That was a Saturday. It
was Tuesday, March 4th, he got stripped of his title as majority leader.
But it was the next day after that, Wednesday March 5th, when another
Wisconsin woman come came forward and this time she came forward to the
Back in 2011, not long after this drama happened to the state capital in
Madison, Republicans hosted something called pints and politics at a bar in
Muskego, Wisconsin. And at that event, an incident reportedly occurred
involving this guy, Bill Kramer and another female Republican legislative
staffer. An instant, that was apparently a traumatic incident. The woman
later explained that she didn`t report it publicly at the time because she
quote "didn`t want any embarrassment to her or her family or to the
But after this traumatic incident, what she did do was have a lawyer write
up a letter and send it to Bill Kramer. The lawyer letter t Bill Kramer
said that the lawyer told Bill Kramer, he had been contacted in connection
quote "with the physical and sexual assault you perpetrated at the recent
types and politics event in Muskego." The letter said the alleged victim
quote "wants you to understand that she has been severely impacted
emotionally as a result of your actions, and she wants to ensure that it
not happened again to her or to another. She believes it`s likely your
assault behavior was influenced by your use of alcohol. And she suggest
you get treatments." And this is the really important part.
Rest assures that if you persist with your sexually and/or physically
inappropriate behavior toward her or another person, she will reconsider
her decision not to go to the authorities. That was 2011. And now, just a
few weeks ago, indeed, new allegations of a very familiar story have
cropped up from around the same guy, Bill Kramer.
And this woman who he allegedly assaulted in 2011 has now made good on her
promise. She told him back them that she was not going to authorities
then, in part for the good of the Republican Party. But said she in that
lawyer letter, if she ever heard of him doing anything like that ever
again, she would not hesitate to go to the police.
And so, after this new round of allegations against him, she has gone to
the police. This first reported by (INAUDIBLE) in Wisconsin. The police
report she filed in Muskego included a very detailed statement from her of
what happened that night in 2011. It include detailed corroborating
statements from more than one witness who saw some of what happened, and
who she told what allegedly happened that night and who attested to the
police to the circumstance to the alleged assault and to her being very
distraught when it happened. The police report was enough to convince the
district attorney to file this criminal complaint, charging his Bill Kramer
with two felony counts of second degree sexual assault.
Now, the police report was also publicly released in conjunction with that
complaint. The police reports is harrowing. Kramer placed his right arm
around her shoulder and squeezed her hard toward him. She felt
uncomfortable and tried to get away from his grip. He and Kramer reached
her vehicle and Kramer then shoved her hard into her car. She stated her
back was pushed in to the car causing her head snapped back and hit the car
causing her pain. Kramer then leaned his body into hers and pressed his
weight against her.
The report then goes into a lot of very terrible detail about the alleged
assault which went on for a long time. The police report resulted in the
criminal complaint and the felony charges. And both the criminal complaint
and the police report were made public once Bill Kramer was arrested.
Where upon the police took this mug shot of the former majority leader.
And here`s the thing. This is the actually unbelievable thing about this
story. The police report, that physical document, when they released it
publicly, the police had tried to redact personal details from the report.
They took a marker and they crossed out names and personal identifying
information with the black pen.
But it wasn`t a particularly black pen. You could see through all their
redactions. The used like a cheap magic marker or something or they just
didn`t bother to check to see that they are blacking out certain words,
actually black them out for real. They have got this black marks on the
police report, but you can read right through them. From the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel, police blacked out the names in the report, but they can
still be easily read and that`s true.
And so, now, no one is publishing the names of the victim or any of her
identifying information, thank God. But other names in the report that
were supposedly blacked out, but not really, the other names in that report
are basically the people who she cited as witnesses for her police report.
Some of them people went and interviewed about this case when they are
making decision of whether or not to hand this over to the D.A. to charge
criminally this Wisconsin politician.
And when you read through the magic marker, to read through the supposedly
redacted names or the people who this alleged victim told about the
terrible alleged sexual and physical assault by this Wisconsin legislator,
it turns out that one of the people who she told at the time of the alleged
assault, one of the people who was told by it contemporaneously so they
have known about it for years was United States Senator Ron Johnson,
Republican of Wisconsin.
The woman who filed the complaint against Kramer said that she told the
chief of staff to U.S. senator Ron Johnson about the sexual assault at the
time that it happens, and that the chief of staff in turn told Senator Ron
Johnson himself. So they knew at the time when it happened.
And when the alleged assault happened in 2011, remember, this alleged
victim said she didn`t want to pursue the matter publicly, you remember,
for the good of the Republican party. So instead, she sent her accused
assailant this lawyer letter documenting what she said happened and warning
But think about the timing here. In the interim, between 2011 and now,
Bill Kramer, the alleged perpetrator of that assault, of that Republican
party event back in 2011, in the interim, he`s risen steadily through the
ranks of Wisconsin Republicans. He was elected majority leader for the
Republicans. And all that time, neither Senator Johnson or his chief of
staff apparently said beat to anyone.
About this guy, maybe being a bad choice for leadership, quote "neither
Senator Johnson nor anyone from his office contacted the assembly speaker,
Robin Vos (ph) who has lead that body since January 2013 or Jeff
Fitzgerald, who served as speaker at the time of the alleged 2011 assault."
Fitzgerald said, he only learned with the allegations when charges were
filed last week. Quote "I got to be honest with you. No, I was never
informed of the incident." Robin Vos, who was the speaker thereafter said
he too was not informed. Nobody said anything then.
After reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel read through the weak
magic marker of bad redactions on the police report and published the
story. Senator Ron Johnson thereafter released a statement saying that he
and his chiefs of staff were following the woman`s wishes to keep the
matter confidential and to take no further action.
And so, the man now serving -- now still serving in the Wisconsin
legislature, with two felony sexual charges pending against him, and
multiple other similar allegations spending against him including those
that are being investigated by the legislature itself, that man rise to the
top of Republican politics in Wisconsin happened in part because the people
facilitated his rise say they didn`t know the truth about this guy.
No one communicated it to them, even though back channels or a quiet word,
even though one of the people who did know was a United States senator and
also his chief of staff.
Bill Kramer`s court date is Monday. But meanwhile, from the lured
allegations at the fund-raise at Haley Barbour`s office, to the lured
allegations on the plane ride home back to Wisconsin to the decision not to
kick him out of the assembly or sanction him, to this brave alleged victim,
making good on her 3-year-old threat that she would file this charges if
she ever heard of him doing anything like this again to the police report
being poorly redacted. To the U.S. senator`s name appearing on the edge of
the story. If you just hold that police report up to the (INAUDIBLE) in
just the right way.
From the start of story to the present of the story, it has never felt like
the story was under control. And on Monday it will go to court. But it
Wisconsin politics, it is now officially out of control entirely.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: The three stages of fighting about politics were all on display
today in fine form. Stage one, of course start with snark, but it goes
from there and rapidly. We got them on tapes. Stay tuned for them.
MADDOW: It was the question that launched 1,000 Halloween questions that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney, pay equity for women.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Thank you. And important
topic in one which I learned the great deal about particularly as I was
serving as governor of my state. Because I had the chance to pull together
a cabinet. And all the applicants for my cabinet seemed to be men. And I
went to my staff and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all
men. They said well, these are the people that have the qualifications.
And I said, God, can`t we find some woman 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 brought us binders full of women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Faster than you could say, is that name still available on Tumblr?
Mitt Romney found himself in a sea of binders full of women. Yes, America,
it is fantastic what you can do with all the cardboard boxes. Even lady
people can do fantastic things with cardboard boxes, making themselves into
binders. They used that debate answer Mitt Romney got thousands of binders
full of women, and America did, too. But did that helped Mitt Romney
answer the actual question?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, how about that pay equity for women? Not, can you find the
women to hire, not can you find binders full of women t hire. But rather
what should the government do as a matter of policy about women earning
less money than men even when they working side by side during the same
work? Binders full of women wasn`t only inverted very funny. It was also
just not an answer to the question.
During the campaign, we also here at the show asked Mitt Romney that
question because we are trying to figure out his position on the issue. We
contact his campaign asking for Mr. Romney`s position the paycheck fairness
act, which was then up for a vote in the United States senate. And the
Romney campaign answered us that he supports equal pay.
And we wrote back, that`s neat, so does everyone. But does he support this
actual legislation to try to get equal pay, it is not hypothetical, doe he
support the bill? The campaign answered again, he supports equal pay.
Frustrated, we then ask it in multiple choice format. Check one if he has
no position on the bill. Check two if he does not support the bill. Check
three if he supports the bill. We got no answer from our multiple choice
You know, I did not take it personally because Mr. Romney and the Romney
campaign were kind of this to everybody at the time. You might remember
the Romney campaign famously convening a conference call for reporters
specifically on the issue how great a president Mitt Romney would be for
Reporter Sam Stein for "the Huffington Post" asked the obvious question on
that call about one of the first pieces of legislation that President Obama
signed. It tackle one part of the problem of women getting paid less than
men. It was called the Lily Ledbetter act. That was President Obama`s
most high-profile legislation specifically about women and women`s rights.
So, it was the obvious thing that the Romney campaign was going to get ask
about when they ask for questions on policy about women. And yet, they
were completely flummoxed when Sam Stein asked the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our next question will come from Sam Stein with
"Huffington Post." Please go ahead.
SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. Does governor Romney support the
Lily Ledbetter act?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get back to you on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`ll get back to you on that.
The Mitt Romney campaign struggled mightily with both pregnant pauses and
the question of what to do about equal pay for women. And they struggled
with it throughout that campaign. They struggled all the way to losing
among women by 18 points and losing the White House another four years and
losing ground in Congress and losing their dream in taking over the Senate
Republicans really needed that answer and they could not come up with it.
And President Obama got elected again and the Democrats did pretty well
But the bill to address the pay equity problem more broadly, the paycheck
fairness act it`s still has not passed Congress. And so, today, Lily
Ledbetter herself was back at the White House with President Obama for the
Democrats new and latest attempt to somehow, some way make paycheck
fairness the law of the land.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, the average full time working woman earns just 77 cents for
every dollar a man earns. For African-American women, Latinas, it is even
less. In 2014, that`s an embarrassment. It`s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Seventy seven cents on the dollar for the average woman working in
this country. Today is what they call equal payday in Washington. The day
this year by which the average woman will finally have earned what her male
colleagues earned just by working last year. Women have to work this far
into the next year in order to catch up with what guys earned in 2013. And
Democrats spent the day arguing that point.
Republicans spend the day arguing that equal pay day is a myth and that
American women are not paid less than men. The National republican party
released a statement this week saying quote "the difference in pay isn`t
because of their genders, it is because of their jobs. Women just happen
to prefer jobs that pay less. And that was the polite way of putting it.
Our friends across the street at the FOX News Channel, they have decided
just to scrap the whole thing in much blender terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not buying this inequality business. I`m not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what is he going to do? Tomorrow he is going to
sign a couple of executive actions to make sure that women get paid the
same as men. I know, I know, women gotten equal pay for decades --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now they think you`re anti-woman if you question that
mean about equal pay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put a man today and a woman today doing the same
job at the same company, they`re virtually getting paid the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At FOX News Channel, it`s the truth, right? So now, we have three
competing ideas about equal payday.
From Democrats, we have this persisting claim that women make less than man
for doing the same work.
From Republican, we have the equally persistent claim that women just
happen to like making less for their woman reasons.
And from the FOX News channel, we have the idea that women are not just
paid less, it`s liberals making it up as a myth in order to give you bad
dreams and bother you.
Happy equal payday to you as well.
Joining us now is Heidi Hartmann. She is president of the Institute for
Women`s Policy Research and she is professor at George Washington
University. She is also at the White House today for the equal pay event.
Professor Hartmann, thank you very much for being with us.
HEIDI HARTMANN, PRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN`S POLICY RESEARCH: Pleasure
to be with you again, Rachel.
MADDOW: I just want to ask you a very basic but specific question. Do
American women make less than men while doing the same work?
HARTMANN: Well, it`s that doing the same work that is tricky. There are
many companies in which a man and a woman in the same job would get equal
pay. But it turns out there are many companies where they don`t. And you
know, we take a look just recently at the 20 largest occupations for women,
these are occupations that sound the same like let`s say customer service
representative, retail worker, and the wage gaps range (INAUDIBLE) range
from like 68 percent, women making only 68 percent of what men make in
retail to 94 percent women making 94 percent of what men make in customer
So yes, they are not all necessarily in the same companies, but we do have
many examples of women claiming discrimination even within a single
company. Recently, I think last week, the Sterling Jewelers, women at
Sterling Jewelers across the country filed a complaint that men were coming
in for the same job, sales person on the floor, and they are being paid a
couple of dollars more per hour than the women. Many of the women have
been there for years and the men were brand new, yet, making more per hour.
MADDOW: Well, how does the gap in pay change as you move across the income
spectrum? Does it make a difference in terms of the likelihood of facing a
gap in your workplace whether you are woman working at the top of the pay
scale or at the bottom?
HARTMANN: Well actually, there`s more room for differentiation at the top,
right? Let`s say you are both selling securities at some, you know, Wall
Street firm, whatever, and there is a bigger difference there because there
is no limit at the top end. If you`re both in low wage jobs, man and a
woman, there may be a smaller gap there.
So, it is surprising, It`s not exactly what you think. Yes even in low
wage jobs, we`ve studied that particularly, and many of the low wager
women`s job actually require certifications, high school graduation,
licenses, compared to the low wage men`s job which don`t require those
things and actually pay more.
So, there seems to be this, you know, an inequality between occupations,
within the same occupation, bigger inequalities at the top and at the
bottom. I mean, it is pretty rife throughout the entire labor market.
MADDOW: From your research, from being about to take that nuanced of you
and that fact-based of a view of the way it actually works out in real
life, can you tell if there are policies that the government could pursue
to reduce the gap in pay between women and men? Obviously, the contours of
it are different as you say within companies, within occupations, within
occupation groups, within income levels, is there something the government
could do to bend the curve toward equality?
HARTMANN: Well, absolutely. I mean, there is no question from the
research that social scientists have done, that title 7 of the 1964 civil
right act has made a difference. That the federal contract compliance that
we do have now already which requires, you know, those firms with
government contracts to report and to have an affirmative action plans.
All of the research shows that those policies has made a difference. The
new policy that the president outlined today, two of the policies would
make a difference. One is for pay transparency making it illegal for
federal contractors to retaliate against workers who do share information
about their pay.
I mean, Lily Ledbetter found out toward the end of her career at Goodyear
from an anonymous tip of the co-worker that she was making tens of
thousands of dollars less than her male colleagues who also in the
departments same as she did. So, if you have that information, if you can
share without penalty, then chances are the workers will try to do
something about it and even the employers may do more about it when they
realized that the employees can have this information.
MADDOW: Professor Hartmann, can I just ask you, in terms of your
professional work on this, you are somebody whose obviously dealt with this
in an academic context, but you can also tried to articulate this in public
in a way that people sort of can understand and can have well-informed
arguments about it and try to make policy about it. I have seen the debate
on the political right in this country shift from being against the idea of
equal pay because women shouldn`t be working to not wanting to talk about
equal pay because there`s no right answer, to now talking about equal to as
if it`s a liberal plot. That is has been made of. And if you believe
this, you probably believe that the earth is warming, too.
To hear it become something that the right is announcing as a conspiracy
theory, I just have to ask your reaction to that as somebody who sort of
build partly a career around this.
HARTMANN: Well, you know, I don`t take it too seriously. I took at the
data, the actual data that comes from the federal government agencies. And
you know, all the data shows a wage gap. And most of the social science
confirms it and says yes, there may be a portion of the wage gap that we
can be explained with reasonable factors, but there`s still a portion we
can`t explained and that is probably due to the discrimination.
But the other data, a survey data, and you know, if you ask American women
and men, what is the biggest problem for women on the job? Most of the
women, and the vast majority of the women, and even the majority of men
will say equal pay. Lack of equal pay.
So, for the whole campaign -- it is actually been going on, I`d say 30
years, this campaign from conservative economists, from conservative
politicians to try to, you know, make the pay gap go away, make pretend
it`s not real. It hasn`t convinced the American people. I mean, American
women are pretty convinced.
I just saw some data from Pew, which they looked at young men and women,
24, 25 to 34, pay ratio of 93 percent. That`s pretty good, seven percent
differential. Seventy five percent of the women in that age group,
according to Pew, said they`d like to see the government do more about
So the argument that they have been making honestly I think it has been
very long time is not winning the hearts and minds of the American people.
MADDOW: I honor and respect your resilience in these matters. To just not
take it seriously, it makes me want to poke myself in the eye.
Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women`s Policy Research.
Thank you very much for your time today. Thanks for being here.
HARTMANN: Fun to be with you again.
MADDOW: Thanks, appreciate it.
All right, if you are an elected official and you find yourself not poking
yourself in the eye, but rather punching someone in the face at your
workplace and doing it over and over again, clearly the political process
that you are supposed to work in has gone as tray somewhere. We got a road
map of political rage on tape, coming up just ahead.
MADDOW: Three miles is not all that far, if what you are doing is running
a foot race or heading to a friend`s house or even ascending in an
airplane. Three miles across town, even three miles up in the air is
imaginable. But three miles down is incredibly far down. And to
understand what is happening in one compelling news story in the world
right now, it`s really helpful to at least try to grasp how deep down it is
to be three miles deep. And we may fail in trying to demonstrate that here
tonight, but we are going to try really hard to do it because it`s worth it
if it works. We`re going to try. That is coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Three stages of political conflict that fall short of an actual
war. All three happen today and all three happened on tape.
Stage one, is the passive aggressive stage where adversaries call each
other idiots implicitly without ever uttering the word idiot.
Last night, attorney-general Eric Holder and Republican Congressman Louie
Gohmert of Texas got into an argument at a House committee meeting. The
just was that the congressman basically alleged that the department of
justice under Eric Holder had failed to prevent the Boston marathon bombing
and they could have.
Here`s how that altercation went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You don`t have access to the FBI
files. You don`t know what they did. You don`t know what the FBI`s
interaction was with the Russians. I know what the FBI did. You cannot
know what I know. That`s all/
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And
that is simply the reason -- I didn`t assert what they did or did not do.
I asserted what -- I can`t have someone challenge my character.
GOHMERT: When you attack somebody`s integrity and say they made statements
that were not true, then of course, that raises a point of personal
privilege. But the attorney general failed to answer my question --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What was the last thing that he said again? Play that again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: Aspersions on my asparagus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The gentleman cast aspersions on my asparagus, said congressman
Louie Gohmert of Texas.
All right. Today, was round two between the same amazing congressman and
the same attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: I think what we promised to do was provide you and your staff --
GOHMERT: Sir, I read what you promised, and it is inadequate and I
realized that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general. But it`s
important that we have proper oversight.
HOLDER: You don`t want to go there. OK?
GOHMERT: I don`t want to go there?
GOHMERT: About the contempt?
HOLDER: You should not assume that it`s not a big deal to me. I think it
was inappropriate, and it was unjust. But never think that that was a big
deal to me. Don`t ever think that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then, the nation`s top law enforcement officer recalling last
year`s confrontation with the same guy, he decided to close this one with a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOHMERT: Well, let me ask you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.
HOLDER: Good luck with your asparagus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Good luck with your asparagus.
Note that use of the word idiot was implied but it was never actually said.
But stage one of political conflict short of war, passive-aggression that
rising to the level of mocking snark, if not outright insult.
Stage two of political conflict short of war is what passive-aggressive
becomes aggressive-aggressive. During stage two, you are essentially
calling each other idiots and most likely you are shouting the word.
Today, secretary of state John Kerry appeared at a Senate Foreign Relations
hearing where he and his old friend-enemy Senator John McCain put on
basically a master class in insulting stage two political conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: On the issue of Ukraine, my hero Teddy
Roosevelt used to say, you talk softly but carry a big stick. What you are
doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact a twig.
It is really Palestinian talks are, even though, you may drag them out for
awhile or finished.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me begin with the place that you began
with your premature judgment about the failure of everything. I don`t
know. I guess it`s pretty easy to lob those judgments around. But
particularly well before the verdict is in, Israel Palestine, it is
interesting that you declare it dead. But the Israelis and Palestinians
don`t declare it dead. They want to continue to negotiate.
MCCAIN: We`ll see, won`t we, M. Secretary? \
KERRY: I beg your pardon?
MCCAIN: We will see.
KERRY: Well, yes. We will see. But why --
MCCAIN: It has stopped. Recognize reality.
KERRY: OK. We`ll see where the reality is as we go down the road here.
There are serious problems, it`s a tough issue. But your friend Teddy
Roosevelt also said that the credit belongs to people who are in the arena
who are trying to get things done. And we are trying to get something
done. That`s a Teddy Roosevelt Marxism and I abide by it.
I think it`s important to do this. Sure, we may fail. And you want to
dump it on me? I may fail. I don`t care. It`s worth doing. It`s worth
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John McCain and John Kerry going head-to-head today, accusing each
other of being out of touch with reality, taking personal shock at each
other. That happened today. That was stage two of political conflict
short of war.
But stage three of political conflict short of war is when we regress from
words that will never hurt me back to sticks and stones. Stage three is
when we give up on arguing with or without snark and we just start throwing
punches. And that also happened today in the parliament of Ukraine.
A full-on fight broke out when numbers of communist party in Ukraine
accused members of a right-wing nationalist party in Ukraine of dividing
the nation, by adopting with the communists called extreme tactics on the
on-going Ukrainian crisis.
The communist is accused the nationalists of playing into Russia`s hands
and splitting Ukraine apart. And the nationalist party politicians
responded to that accusation by basically starting a bench-clearing brawl
that nobody could break up for a really long time.
Since the opposition ousted Ukraine`s pro-Russian president, after months
of protests, international attention has shifted to the other side of
Ukraine where border`s Russia on the east. After invaded and then annexed
the small peninsula in eastern Ukraine called Crimea, the Russians have
since massed tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border of other
parts of southeastern Ukraine. They have fostered fears that Russia is
going to keep going. They are going to take more parts of that country.
Well, over the weekend, pro-Russian demonstrators seized government
buildings in three cities in eastern Ukraine. They declared each city a
peoples republic. They called for a referendum on succession from Ukraine
and each of those places. They ask Russia to send in troops over the
border into Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government says it is Russian forces and provocateurs who
were sent over the border from Russia to try destroy Ukraine from within.
Today, Ukrainian media posted this scary video reporting that an unnamed
pro-Russian radical group had taken 60 hostages in the city called
(INAUDIBLE) in the eastern part of Ukraine demanding that that city be
allowed to succeed from Ukraine.
Secretary Kerry and NATO, both issued warnings to Russia today to back off,
to stay out of the rest of Ukraine. Secretary Kerry saying in between slot
flight with Senator john McCain today that in his words quote "it`s clear
that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind of the
chaos of the last 24 hours."
But this is not just a fight between the United States and Russia. This is
the fight the U.S. is waging with Russia in part on behalf of Ukraine.
Ukraine where they are beating one another to a fault inside their owned
parliament today, the men and the women both.
Russia`s whole strategy is to try to crush Ukraine, right? To try to crush
the people who ousted their pro-Russian president and took over the
Looking at what`s going on inside their government right now, is Russia
succeeding? Are we defending a country that can`t stand up itself? And if
so, should that change what we`re hoping for from this fight?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back to "FOX & friends" with me s usual,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well President Obama did his best to make us all sign
up for Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, it wasn`t easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s tough to sign up for things. I have tried for
years to join the NAACP.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just love college basketball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the u-Conn huskies are the 2014 NAACP national
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chart imitates life. Over the weekend ships looking for the
missing Malaysian flight 370 picked up some fake pinging sounds in the
Indian Ocean. And the hope, of course, is that those sound might have
originated from the black boxes inside the lost plane.
Those pings are a source of hope that maybe the plane could be found so we
could learn what happened to it. But pinpointing where the pings are
coming from is really, really hard. And that is because the location where
they`re searching for the black boxes is almost unimaginably deep. And I
mean that in the literal sense.
For understanding the story, I think it helps to be able to try, at least,
a realistically imagine what is almost unimaginable about the search.
Today, "the Washington Post" deserved credit for figuring out a helpful way
to demonstrate just how difficult it may be to find those black boxes in
the Indian Ocean. They produced a chart called the depth of the problem.
I`m going to try to show it to you here to try to convey this very large
quantitative thing to show just how deep this search site is.
So here, on this wall, you can see the Boeing 777, about 200 feet over the
water. And you see the Australian search vessel that heard the pings. The
Ocean Shield on the surface of the Indian Ocean. Let`s -- let`s start
trying to understand the depth here. Under the water, you see the
silhouettes of both the Washington monument and empire state building, this
is all to scale. We are also passing the big one there, the (INAUDIBLE)
tallest building in the world. We are also at the deepest point at which a
giant squid is known to be able to swim.
At nearly 3300 feet in mater, we passed the deepest point a sperm whale
known to dive, also the deepest point from which a human can see light from
the surface at around 4600 feet, that little squiggle was the outline of
the pinger locater they dropped, which is how the Australian crew picked up
those pings on Sunday, getting half a mile under sea now, right. 6,000 feet
At 8,000 feet below the sea level, where 2,200 football fields from the
surface of the water. And at about 10,000 feet, under the water, 10,000
feet below sea level, we are approaching the maximum known depth of the
deepest diving mammal on earth. We are now about two miles below sea
At 12,500 feet, we are passing the depth that which the wreck of the
titanic was found in the Atlantic ocean. Just below that, at 13,000 feet
where searchers found the black box from air France flight 447 two years
after it crashed into the pacific.
And here, just about 15,000 feet below sea level, it is the maximum known
depth of the ocean floor in this area. Around the depth that the pinging
signals were picked up almost three miles below the sea.
The visual that we just showed you by scrolling through it looks like this
if you print it out from top to bottom. From sea level at the top to
15,000 feet below. Hopefully, scrolling through the entire graphic gives
an idea just how far below the ocean these black boxes might be, gives you
some scale of how hard this search might be.
Chart imitates life and sometimes intimidates it.
Now, it is time for "the Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell."
Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great night.
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