'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
July 9, 2014
Guest: Clay Jenkins, Barbara Boxer
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: All right. That is "ALL IN" for this
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you. It`s
sometimes easier than others.
HAYES: Rachel Maddow, the person I toss to every night.
MADDOW: I just referred to myself by the wrong name a few days ago
about, don`t worry about it. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
For the 2012 presidential election, Republicans held their convention
in Florida, then in that election, they lost Florida.
In the presidential election before that, in 2008, Republicans held
their convention in Minnesota. And then in that election, they lost
The election before that was in 2004, Republicans held their
convention that year in New York, and then in that election that year, they
lost New York.
The election before that was 2000. Republicans that year held their
convention in Pennsylvania, and in that election they lost Pennsylvania.
Should I go on? Are you noticing a theme?
In 1996, Republicans held their convention in California, and in that
presidential election, they lost California, obviously.
Over and over and over and over and over again, Republicans have done
this. They`re just on a terrible losing streak with this particular
decision that they make as a party every four years. Whatever state they
hold their convention in, they lose that state in that year`s election. It
happens over and over and over and over and over again.
The last time a Republican candidate for president actually won the
state where his party`s convention was held that year, the last time, was
in 1992, more than 20 years ago. In 1992, the Republican`s nominee for
president was Poppy Bush, George H.W. Bush. He was running for reelection
that year, you will remember. And the Republicans decided they were going
to hold their convention in Texas. In that year, yes, George H.W. Bush did
win Texas, but he did lost the election, and ended up being a one-term
Wherever the Republican Party picks for their convention, it jinxes
that state for them for that election. Or if you want to go back more than
20 years, you could find that their choice for the convention jinxes the
whole election for them. They have a terrible record when it comes to
choosing where to have their big Republican Party every four years.
Now, Democrats this year, they still have not picked where they`re
going to hold their next convention for the 2016 presidential elections.
Democrats are holding off on that for now.
But Republicans, they have now gone ahead, you may have heard that the
last two cities on their short list, cities they were choosing between at
the end. It was Dallas, Texas, or Cleveland, Ohio. If you think about, if
the Republicans want to break their losing streak, if they want to break
their generation long losing streak, of always losing the state in which
they hold their convention, you would think if they wanted to break that
streak, that they would pick Dallas, right? I mean, they`ll probably win
Yes, Democrats want to turn Texas blue, Democrats are wishing and
hoping Texas is going to be a purple state that someday. And maybe it
will. But you know what? There hasn`t been a statewide elected official
who is a Democrat in the state of Texas since 1999. Texas is a really
And it is likely that whoever the Republican nominee is, in 2016, they
will be able to win Texas if nowhere else, right? So, pick Texas if you
want to break the streak you guys. Come on.
They did not pick Texas. So, you know, listen, it`s not a guarantee
that the Republican convention jinx will continue, but if you are a
superstitious person, boy howdy, that was a bad choice. I mean, Republican
always think they`ve got a shot at winning Ohio. They would love to win
Ohio. They have not been winning Ohio lately.
Picking their convention to be in Ohio, it`s like petting a black cat
backwards while walking under a ladder, stepping on cracks all the way,
admiring yourself in a broken mirror while you do it. OK, go for it.
Cleveland gets the convention.
And it turns out, Dallas is mad. This from "The Dallas Morning News",
"what is the world coming to when Dallas, a city that rings like a cash
register for contributions, can`t land the 2016 Republican National
Convention. For some reason, this one stings a little more than our
failing every few years to get the Olympics. It`s true, Dallas isn`t as
Republican as it once was, but we are smack dab in the middle of one of the
reddest states on the map.
Cleveland, though? Really now? Dallas is, if Dallas is, say light
blue, Cleveland is roughly indigo. Cleveland is a town built on unions and
mediocre sports teams, not that there`s anything wrong with that." Ow!
"Good luck finding the Dallas cowboys cheerleaders, Big Tex, or one
decent plate of barbeque or Mexican during your convention."
And it ends this way, "No matter how much fun you will have, when you
wake up, you`ll still be in Cleveland." Meow.
That was "The Dallas Morning News" just moments after the convention
announcement was made by the Republican Party.
Texas Democrats also put out a statement blaming the Texas Republican
Party for the city of Dallas losing out in that particular competition.
This is what the Texas Democrats said, "The choice of Cleveland over Dallas
to host the convention shows just how toxic Texas Republicans are. By
choosing Dallas, national Republicans would have essentially endorsed the
Texas Republican platform and values, including reparative therapy for the
LGBT community, repealing the 17th Amendment that allows citizens to elect
their own U.S. senators and repealing the Voting Rights Act. Texas
Republicans are out of step even with national Republicans and out of step
with the needs of Texans. Today, the Republican National Committee
confirmed it in this decision."
That`s not meowing. That`s more like crowing. But I`m not going to
go caw. There, I just did.
Texas Democrats are basically saying that Texas cannot have the
convention because Texas Republican politics are too toxic for the National
Republican Party. The Texas politics are too toxic for the National
And whether it falls that way or not on partisan lines, right now more
than ever, Texas politics do actually happen to be our national politics as
a country. And that is mostly because of the border crisis.
That`s why President Obama was in Texas today, he was in Dallas today.
He says he did not want to go to the American border with Mexico in Texas,
did not want to go to the border itself, because trying to find a solution
to the border crisis, quote, "isn`t theater." That`s what the president
said about that today.
The president said today that he was not interested in photo-ops at
the border. He said he`s interested in solving the border problem.
But the president did take a big chunk of his day today to meet with
both Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas and also local officials from
Dallas about how to move forward on this issue of what`s happening on the
And you know what, having this meeting in Dallas specifically out of
all the cities where they could have had the president today in Texas,
having it in Dallas today I think ended up being an important thing,
because there is something unusual that is going on specifically in Dallas.
And it`s been clear in Dallas, for a few weeks now, thanks to coverage like
this, from the local Dallas press.
This is from mid-June, almost a month ago. The images of immigrant
children packed into warehouses were too much for Paula Rosales Aldana.
The Dallas lawyer reached for her phone after seeing photos of an emerging
humanitarian crisis on the border last week. She called other members of
the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association to begin looking into legal help that
the group can provide to some of the tens of thousands of children who are
expected to seek asylum in the U.S. this year.
Members of the Dallas Hispanic Bar set up an ad-hoc committee
Wednesday that has begun legal training to help address the crisis. This
is weeks ago, local lawyers in Dallas moved by the sight of these kids
coming to the border alone. Local lawyers in Dallas, themselves, setting
up legal training measures for themselves to get those kids representation
in the court system to try to help out those kids.
And then there`s Catholic charities. Catholic charities in Dallas and
Ft. Worth started holding orientation meetings for people to sign up to
volunteer to help kids. Just as individuals, even if you didn`t have any
special professional skills. People are signing up to be mentors to these
kids or to do recreational activities with these kids.
This is from "The Dallas Morning News" on July 4th, "While protesters
in cities in other states have turned away buses filled with immigrant
children seeking refuge in the U.S. this week, others in Dallas and Ft.
Worth had a different message. Their message? How can we help?
More than 130 people filled the room of an orientation meeting at
Catholic charities this week. They heard about the agency`s need for
support from Facebook posts, from e-mails and from word of mouth.
So, they`re in Dallas. There`s the Catholics stepping up. How about
the Baptists, anybody?
Yes, there are the Texas Baptist Men, the name of the group, already
involved in this, already agreeing to provide laundry and shower facilities
at the camps that are holding their kids on the border. Texas Baptist Men
is one coalition in a group called Volunteer Organizations Active in
Disaster. That group`s vice president says churches and other social
organizations are expressing interest in helping the immigrant children in
And then at the Democratic Party Convention, the statewide Texas
Democratic Party Convention, the chief executive of Dallas County, he`s
called Dallas County judge, but essentially that means he`s the executive
for Dallas County, Judge Clay Jenkins, he announced at the Texas Democratic
Party State Convention that the county of Dallas would offer to the federal
government to set up facilities to take in up to 2,000 unaccompanied kids.
They are offering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TX: Regardless of your stance on
immigration or the causes for this human tragedy, we cannot turn our back
on the children that are already here.
I have offered our assistance to the federal government and we are
partnering to increase capacity to move a number of these children from
incarceration on our border, to compassionate care here in Dallas County.
We can`t help all, but we can help some. And by helping some, perhaps
we can aspire others to help, so that we can increase the capacity to help
these children and together with communities across this country, we can
end this humanitarian crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dallas County Executive Clay Jenkins, an elected Democrat,
the top official in Dallas County, he put out the call not just for the
city to help, the county to help. He put out the call for church groups,
organizations, anybody who could help, to do whatever they could to try to
help these kids. They put out a call for individual families to offer to
take in foster kids or even to adopt them.
Dallas County told us today, we talked with them, that they`ve had
offers from potential foster families not just from towns across Dallas
County and across Texas, they said they have heard from families in
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, Montana, Minnesota, Alabama, New
Jersey and the calls just keep coming in from all across the country.
The Dallas School District offered vacant buildings owned by the
school district to set up facilities to house these kids and the
superintendent of Dallas schools said these kids need an education, too.
The superintendent said, quote, "If they are in our district come August,
we will want to help educate them. I don`t know if that`s a role we will
be asked to play, but that`s my equipment."
I mean, just as a Texas political flashback, the idea of providing an
education to kids, even to kids who are immigrants, that`s what Rick Perry
said he supported when he was running for president in 2012. That is what
got him almost booed off the stage at a Republican debate in Orlando.
Literally, the whole crowd booed him for saying, "We ought to have a heart
when it comes to these kids. They need an education."
Republican politics are sprinting very fast to the right on this
issue. Even Rick Perry himself does not talk like that any more about
immigrant kids and he only just ran in 2012. Rick Perry no longer says
something so reckless as, you know, we ought to have a heart when it comes
to kids and families when they come across the border.
And the law that governs how these kids have to be treated when they
do present themselves to border guards, it is the law that was signed by
President Bush in 2008. It was really an uncontroversial law. It was
uncontroversial enough that it was barely even debated in Congress and the
Senate. They didn`t hold a recorded vote on it.
But that law requires that kids who turn up at the border in these
circumstances, they have to be held in the least restrictive setting that
is in the best interest of the child, while they`re being processed for
So, when Dallas County is trying to find foster families for these
kids, or some other human, non-jail-like facilities for these kids, which
might include them getting some education, that is what would count as the
legally required, least restrictive setting that`s in the best interest of
the child. I mean, even though that was signed by George W. Bush not that
long ago, and it was never controversial until now, the fact that that law
is now being put into place and used in a compassionate way to try to help
these kids, of course, means that some Republicans in Washington are now
making noises about repealing that George W. Bush era law, repealing that
law from 2008. Senator John McCain among the senators suggesting maybe
that law should go now.
As the country has started not just to come to terms with this crisis
on the border with all these kids, but frankly, to freak out about it as
well, President Obama has requested a supplemental appropriations bill to
beef up the budgets of the agencies that are having to deal with the giant
influx of these tens of thousands of kids -- money to transport them, money
for detention facilities, money for deportation facilities, and deportation
proceedings, money for their medical care, money for the immigration court
system that is processing all of these individuals with this huge spike in
numbers. And while increasingly, everyone in politics is screaming that
something must be done about this problem that we need more resources to
deal with this problem, that everything is overwhelmed -- well, now that
the president has asked for these more resources so the systems won`t be so
overwhelmed -- well, now that you`re asking for the actual money, it sort
of looks like it`s not going to happen.
Asked if he thought lawmakers would approve the proposal, Senator
Marco Rubio of Florida said, "No. Given the mood here in Washington, I
don`t have confidence that it will happen."
That earned this rejoinder from Kevin Drum. Kevin said, "Well, of
course it won`t happen. The crisis along the border is tailor-made for
Republicans. It makes their base hopping mad, it juices their campaign
fund-raising. And any time the government is unable to address a problem,
it makes Obama look bad. Why on earth would Republicans want to do
anything to change any of this?"
President Obama when he was in Dallas County today, he met with Texas
Governor Rick Perry, and also with the Dallas County executive who made
that call for Dallas County, for light blue Dallas in the middle of red,
red Texas, to take this compassionate approach to this problem, to actually
try to help these kids. The president thanked Dallas for taking that
approach today, but he also had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should not be hard
to at least get the supplemental done. The question is, are we more
interested in politics? Or are we more interested in solving the problem?
If we`re interested in solving the problem, then there`s actually some
broad consensus around a number of the issues. There may be some
controversies and differences between Democrats and Republicans on some of
the policy issues, but on a whole bunch of this stuff, there`s some pretty
broad consensus. Let`s just get that done. Let`s do the work.
Final point I`ll make is, I want to thank some of the faith-based
groups I just met with, as well as mayors, commissioners, local officials.
Dallas has been incredibly compassionate in looking at some sites, some
facilities in which they can accommodate some of these children.
And, you know, I indicated in a hearing, the stories of churches that
are prepared to not just make donations, but send volunteers to help to
construct some of these facilities or fix them up, and there willingness to
volunteer in providing care and assistance to these children. I told them
thank you, because it confirmed what I think we all know, which is the
American people are an incredibly compassionate people. And when we see a
child in need, we want to care for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Short hand way we talk about the reaction to this problem on
the border in our country is that we`re essentially having a nativist
impulse as a nation, a nativist outburst, that the country`s outraged about
these kids coming across the border and the country is essentially
revolting against the idea that we ought to help them, we want them, just
want them sent back.
There are definitely are pockets of the country and people in the
country who are having that reaction. There are other parts of the
country, even in red states, that are having a very different reaction to
Joining us now is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who was in that
meeting today with President Obama in Dallas, along with Governor Perry and
other local officials and faith leaders.
Judge Jenkins, thanks for being back with us. I really appreciate
your time tonight.
JENKINS: Great to be with you.
MADDOW: So, how would you characterize that meeting and the mood in
the room today, with -- particularly thinking about the president and the
governor talking about these issues? But what was the overall discussion
JENKINS: Well, it wasn`t bad for Texas politics. By and large, we
put our partisan hats aside and we had a good productive hour and 10-
minute, of an hour and 15-minute conversation, and everybody agreed that
the answer long term is to make conditions better for the children in their
But short term, we`ve got a problem, because we had children, just
like your children and my children, that are here in Texas, thousands of
them, in cramped, unsanitary conditions, our border patrol is doing the
best we can. But this is no humane way to treat children.
And we`re going to help them here in Dallas County. I was pleased
that everyone in the room was not opposed to that idea. Governor Perry
said that he doesn`t the like the federal government telling him what to
do, and he doesn`t plan on putting roadblocks in front of Dallas County
either. So, I was pleased to hear that.
MADDOW: One of the things the president said in his remarks today,
which I was struck by, I didn`t expect him to put it this way. He said,
you know, we have -- we may have disagreements around that table and in
that room about some of the broader ideological questions here, but in
terms of what to do about this crisis, he said, even people who are
criticizing me in Washington are only saying that the stuff that we should
do is the same stuff that I`m proposing.
It`s only -- he`s saying, essentially, there`s no real policy
disagreement on what to do on the border right now to try to alleviate
these conditions for these kids and also to try to beef up whatever we need
to do in terms of our resources on the border. He essentially
characterized it as just a political decision, you know, that we have to
decide whether or not we`re going to do it, but nobody disagrees about what
we ought to do.
Was that the feeling that you got from the discussion today?
JENKINS: By and large, it was. You know, everybody has got a role to
play. We`re doing what we can do here in Dallas County.
The president`s fully locked in and up to speed on this, and he`s
doing what he can do. Our states doing what -- doing some work as well.
But it`s time for Congress to join into this as well.
You know, $1.8 billion of the money that`s in this emergency
appropriation goes toward caring for these children. But another $1.6
billion goes towards further securing our border.
So, there`s really no good reason why the Texas delegation can`t stand
up for Texas and these children and our country together. If the Texas
delegation all stood together and voted for this emergency appropriation,
then the government would have the tools that they need monetarily to end
the crisis. We may not be able to reach an agreement on comprehensive
immigration reform. We certainly need to, but we may not be able to do
that in the short term, there`s no reason why the Texas delegation can`t
put their partisan beliefs aside, because this is about children and the
humanitarian crisis, and quickly lead Congress to pass the supplemental
MADDOW: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the senior executive
official in that county. Judge Jenkins, thank you for being with us. I
really appreciate it.
JENKINS: Thank you.
MADDOW: I`ve got to say this, the whole issue of how we`re discussing
this as a nation I think, does not account for these remarkable stories in
places like Dallas County, where their approach to it is to try to help.
They have a plan as a county to take in 2,000 unaccompanied kids and then
moving forward with that, dealing with the politics of that locally, and
there`s sort of lots of that locally. But that is as much a part of how
we`re dealing with this as a country as those screaming people in the
middle of the road in Riverside County, California.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: You want to see a senator get really mad and really confused
at the same time? This happened today in Washington today. And I think it
is worth having some empathy. I mean, there`s a fine emotional line
between being confused and being mad in that you`re confused, right? We`ve
all experienced this.
But I think that is what happened to Senator John McCain today and it
was an amazing moment today and I will show it to you on tape in just a
But in order to see what went so wrong for him here, you have to know
about these two different guys whose names both end in owski. The first
one is Thomas Winkowski. He`s the head of the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Agency. Thomas Winkowski is his name.
The other guy, the other owski, is Gill Kerlikowske. He is the head
of the Customs and Border Protection.
Gill Kerlikowske and Thomas Winkowski, both owskis, both involved in
border issues and immigration, and both today summoned before the Homeland
Security Committee in the Senate to talk about the border issue with John
McCain and other senators.
And the problem it turns out, is that John McCain cannot tell these
two owskis apart. And then rage ensues!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Mr. Winkowski, I`ve been representing
the state of Arizona for many years, and I`ve never seen anything like your
instructions to -- signed by your name, interim protocol for visitations
and tours to CBP detention facilities.
Are you telling me when I visit a detention facility, that I can`t
bring a cell phone with me? Are you saying that? The United States
senator visiting a facility, these are the instructions that you have
Is that what you`re saying?
THOMAS WINKOWSKI, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: That the
MCCAIN: Visiting congressional -- member of Congress.
WINKOWSKI: I don`t recall saying that. What I recall --
MCCAIN: Let me provide you with a copy, it says see distribution.
Gill Kerlikowske, commissioner, interim protocol for visitations and tours
to CBP detention facilities -- you didn`t see your own memo?
GILL KERLIKOWSKE, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: That would be me.
KERLIKOWSKE: That would be me. I did issue that memo, and we have
had huge numbers of --
MCCAIN: Am I allowed to bring a cell phone with me when I go on to a
facility in Nogales, Arizona?
KERLIKOWSKE: Not to take photographs, Senator.
MCCAIN: I`m not allowed to take photographs?
KERLIKOWSKE: Not to take photographs inside the facility.
MCCAIN: Why not? Why am I not allowed to do that?
KERLIKOWSKE: The children have a right to privacy, that`s why we`re
not having their faces shown on --
MCCAIN: I may want to take a photo of something else?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator John McCain is very angry. He demands to know why
this Thomas Winkowski character was disavowing knowledge of his own memo,
because, look, his name is right there on the memo, Gill Kerlikowske!
Kerlikowske, Winkowski, owski, owski, owski. Owski, that had to have hurt
a little bit, right?
Oh, you`re different men, I see.
But, no, Senator McCain can`t take cell phone pictures of child
detainees whether he can tell which owski runs the border patrol. Senator
McCain did not get far with that enraged about mistaken rant today.
But Senator McCain-owski did get a little further with something else
that he is working on and it happens to be something really, really
important and he has been working on it with an unexpectedly liberal
partner. And that story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: How you doing? How`s business? Business doing all right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s all right.
OBAMA: What`s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Karen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m so excited.
OBAMA: Give me a hug. I`m glad you`re excited. I`m excited, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we get a picture?
OBAMA: Yes, you can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh, it`s the best day of my life.
OBAMA: You got to get in here, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want one too? Oh, my gosh, someone`s going
to think you`re like wax.
OBAMA: Nice to see you, good to be us. The bear is loose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The bear is loose, he said. This is sort of been the summer
of unscripted, unscheduled presidential moments. Starting in May,
President Obama started doing these things out in public that are not on
his schedule. And the people around him don`t seem to know to expect him,
hopping out of his motorcade and walking over to the Interior Department
instead of driving, seeing people along the way, going on an impromptu
Starbucks run in Washington, D.C. The very next day, ducking into a
restaurant that was not expecting him.
The bear is loose, the president says when he has these little
impromptu public moments.
And then, last night, ahead of his trip to Texas today, the bear was
very, very loose in Colorado, specifically in Denver. The president did a
walk around in downtown Denver. He shook a lot of people`s hands. He made
small talk with kids about what grade they were going into in school in the
fall, to the evident alarmed of at least -- look at the Secret Service guy
on the right. The evident alarmed of one Secret Service guy, the president
shook hands randomly with a guy who was wearing a horse head mask.
And remember, this was not an announced event. So, it`s not like the
guy woke up yesterday and thought, I`m going to meet the president
tomorrow. Better remember my horse head. This is the guy who happened to
have the horse head on him when the president unexpectedly came by. Hey,
In the evening, President Obama played pool with Governor John
Hickenlooper in a bar that the governor used to own. Obviously, the shots
of them playing pool sort of in a roped off area, they`re not too mobbed.
But the president did have to push through the crowd a little bit at one
point which is where a guy shouted out a question to President Obama of
whether he wanted to take a hit of some legal, recreational Colorado
marijuana. Then, the guy posted on Instagram the president laughing in his
response to this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want a hit, man?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama very off script last night on this trip to
Colorado. Including the inevitable but awkward pot question in that state
that is doing tens of millions of dollars a month in newly legalized pot
But the unscripted nature of the president`s time on the street and
out and about in Denver, it also led to one very serious moment, which pool
reporter said let the woman who spoke to the president a little teary, not
upset after this conversation happened, but she was tearful after this
exchange with President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.
OBAMA: What`s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kaylynne. My brother died in Afghanistan four
OBAMA: I`m so sorry.
What was his name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sergeant Kenneth May --
OBAMA: Yes. Older brother?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Older brother. My only brother.
OBAMA: How are your folks doing? Still hard?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
OBAMA: To think about it sometime. It`s an unbelievable sacrifice.
Marvin, do you have one more coin?
I want you to take this as a thank you. I only give this to vets or
active service members. So, this is for your brother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That woman`s name, I actually think the subtitle is wrong
there. I think what he said there is not "this is pretty great". I think
he said this is for your brother." And said, "Ok, thank you."
That woman`s name is Kaylynne May Eric (ph). She`s my Tyler, Texas.
Her brother is Marine Sergeant Kenneth May who was killed in Afghanistan in
And what the president gave her and said, this is for your brother,
that`s called a -- it`s a challenge coin, like this one, which is a mark of
respect and camaraderie among service members and veterans and also
sometimes the commander in chief.
So, in the middle of this, you know, hurly-burly, off-script bear is
loose kind of evening in Colorado, there was a sobering face to face moment
about the wars and about a marine sergeant lost to the war.
Here`s the thing, though, we are still in the midst right now of a
real crisis of how we are handling veteran`s issues. The thing everyone
was talking about just a few weeks ago has still not been fixed in terms of
veteran`s issues. It`s been more than a month since V.A. Secretary Eric
Shinseki resigned over the crisis in veterans health care. It`s now been
nearly a month since the Senate came together in this kind of magical
crisis moment where they were willing to stop being petty for a second and
they did pass a big comprehensive veteran`s bill to try to fix veteran`s
That was the bill that was written in that atmosphere of crisis by
cranky conservative Senator John McCain and cranky liberal Senator Bernie
Sanders. It was a strange pairing, right? But they were able to come
together on this issue on the midst of crisis, and their bill passed in the
vote of 93-3. In the midst of all that criticism on the way veterans were
being treated, all that outraged being voiced on Capitol Hill, that bill
passed 93-3, they fast tracked it on Capitol Hill, it was flying through
walk, it was on its way to the president`s desk, they told us, it was going
to get passed.
That was nearly a month ago but it never made it to the president`s
desk. It got stuck in the conference committee where they are trying to
iron out differences between the bill passed by the Senate and the bill
passed by the House. It stuck. Apparently, it`s bottlenecked there,
because of some Republican complaints about the bill`s costs.
See, when the attention is there, and everyone is complaining about
how something must be done, it`s easy to demand, in theory, that this must
be done. No expense spared. This is a sacred obligation that we`re
violating, we have to fix it.
It sounds great, print it, put it in a campaign ad, right? But when
it comes to doing it? When it comes to actually putting your money where
your mouth is, apparently so far, the answer is no. We don`t want to spend
We want to be quoted saying the money should be spent but we don`t
want to spend it. This thing passed the Senate on June 11th, when it
passed by that huge margin, it looked like it was done. But apparently is
not done, because some objections are now objecting to paying for it.
And so, Senator Bernie Sanders has now gone back to the Senate floor,
because he has found he still has to make the case for this, still.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Let me just say this as we continue
to proceed. If there`s anything I`ve learned since I`ve been chairman of
the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I think as a people, as a nation
we underestimate the cost of war. And before anyone votes to go to war
again, I think they should fully appreciate what the repercussions of that
Several weeks ago, Senator McCain and I put together a proposal to
deal with the current crisis at the V.A. and I`m very proud that that
legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 93-3. Now, what are we dealing
with? What`s the cost of this proposal? This is an expensive proposal,
because the cost of war is expensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Didn`t you think that this was done? Didn`t you think that
this was done after that whole crisis and Shinseki resigning, and that bill
passing? I mean, that`s Bernie Sanders and John McCain of all people. If
they could get together on this, and the Senate agreed 93-3 to go with them
on this, didn`t you think this was done?
This is not done. And since Eric Shinseki resigned more than a month
ago, that means there`s no one running the V.A. right now, the nominee to
replace him has not been confirmed. And there is more legislation on
prevention veterans suicide that`s going to get a hearing tomorrow in the
House, and members of Congress love to go to hearings on issues like this.
They love talking about veterans issues and appearing to be concerned about
There`s a ton of political capital in wrapping yourself up in veterans
issues. Apparently, there`s less capital in actually doing anything
substantive to help veterans, like passing legislation instead of just
talking about it. We will see how that goes with that suicide bill that
gets a hearing in the House tomorrow. We are already seeing how it`s going
with the big V.A. bill that everybody thought was going to solve some of
But right now, while this crisis is still happening, all of
Washington`s flagrant and shameless lip service on veterans` issues is not
being matched at all with action.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is running for re-
election this year against the conservative Republican Congressman named
Cory Gardiner. And even though President Obama yesterday did a fund-raiser
in Colorado, when he was in that state, he did a fund-raiser in Colorado
for Senator Mark Udall, Senator Udall did not attend. He was originally
expected to, but the senator said he needed to be back in Washington to
attend to some legislation.
I have to say, though, it`s not like he was doing something unrelated
to his campaign for re-election.
To give you an understanding of what I mean, considering that this is
the first ad that Senator Udall ran against Cory Gardiner in this Senate
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: It comes down to respect for women and our lives, so
Congressman Cory Gardiner`s history promoting harsh anti anti-abortion laws
is disturbing. Gardiner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony,
including cases of rape and incest. Gardiner even championed an eight-year
crusade to outlaw birth control here in Colorado.
But Mark Udall protects our right to choose, our access to birth
control. Mark Udall, in a word, respect.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: I`m Mark Udall, and I approve this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Senator Mark Udall`s first ad of his campaign
against Cory Gardiner. This was his second one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UDALL: Because this really matters, it`s important you hear this
directly from me. My opponent led a crusade that would make birth control
illegal and sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, even in cases of
rape and incest.
His record is beyond troubling. It`s wrong. We`re talking about your
rights as women, as families, as Coloradans.
I`m Mark Udall, you have the right to live life on your own terms to
make your own choices, and that`s why I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, those are the first two Senator Mark Udall ads in his
Senate reelection campaign. Just in case it`s not totally clear what the
contours are of that fight, right?
And today, while President Obama was in his home state campaigning for
Mark Udall, Mark Udall was in Washington helping to introduce legislation
that he is cosponsoring that Senate Democrats say would reverse the Supreme
Court`s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. They say their legislation would
essentially reinstate universal health insurance coverage for the full
range of contraception in this country even if your boss at work doesn`t
like you using those forms of contraception.
Senator Udall`s involvement as a cosponsor of this legislation, it
underscores one political part of this issue, which is how the issue of
Republicans opposing contraception and Democrats sticking up for access to
contraception, how that`s likely to play in elections this year all around
The second political part is the question of whether or not a bill
supporting access to contraception could actually pass the United States
Senate if the Republicans filibuster it, which they will, and whether it
can get even a vote in the Republican-controlled House, which it won`t.
And given those political realities, is it valuable for Senate Democrats to
push this legislation that they introduced today? Will it help? And if it
won`t practically help this problem that was created by the Supreme Court,
Hold that thought, because we have a person on hand tonight for the
interview who is more than anyone who is likely to know the answer to that
question, and that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Engraved over the Supreme Court
are the words, and I quote, "Equal Justice Under Law". It does not say
equal justice under law except for women. But yet, that is what the Hobby
Lobby case says.
So, we are here today to say loudly and to say clearly that every
single person in America is entitled to equal justice, no matter who your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today in the United States Senate, Democratic senators
introduced legislation design to effectively overturn the recent ruling of
the Supreme Court, which said that employers can decide whether or not
their employees should have access to birth control covered under health
Joining us now for the interview is Senator Barbara Boxer of
California. She`s one of the co-sponsors of this new legislation.
Senator Boxer, thanks very much for being with us. It`s nice to have
BOXER: Thank you for inviting me.
MADDOW: So, the legislature and the judiciary are obviously co-equal
branches. You guys can`t overrule the Supreme Court directly. But what
would this legislation do to try to reverse the effect of the Hobby Lobby
BOXER: Well, we actually listened to the chief justice who said
Congress can fix this. Just like we fixed the Lilly Ledbetter case, we can
And we simply say, not withstanding any law, including this -- the law
they cite, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which I voted form,
despite that law, a boss cannot deny you any procedure, any medical
treatment that is placed into federal law that you`re entitled to. No boss
can tell you, you can`t have birth control or for that matter, a vaccine
for your child or a blood transfusion for your husband.
So, it`s very important, because this is a slippery slope.
MADDOW: Based on everything that we have seen from Republicans in
Congress over the last couple of years, I can`t imagine that you have very
high hopes as far as this bill becoming law this year. I can`t imagine
Speaker Boehner putting this up for a vote if it does pass the Senate. I
wonder what will happen if the Republicans decide to filibuster this
legislation, which I expect they would.
What do you think are the reasonable chances of this becoming law?
BOXER: First of all, I`m ever the optimist. That`s what I do what I
do for so many years, and I`ve gotten some things done. I want to be clear
So, here`s the thing -- we`re not talking about anything radical here.
This, I believe last I checked, was the 21st century. We`re talking about
access to birth control, and as we know, I think you know, 1.5 million
American women take birth control pills for conditions other than birth
control. They take it for painful, difficult medical conditions. And
another 5 million take it in part for those conditions.
So, we`re talking about millions of women, and we`re talking about 99
percent of sexually active women taking birth control. So, here`s why I am
optimistic. I believe, and I haven`t seen any polls that people will
support us overwhelmingly. This is a free country. We have elections.
You saw Mark Udall and his wonderful ad making this point, and I think
it puts the Republicans in a bad situation, and frankly, I don`t care. We
have to step up to the plate, whether it`s an election year or not an
election year, and we have to protect the women of this country, our
families, and it`s essential that we take the step.
MADDOW: Senator Barbara Boxer of California, thank you for helping us
understand this tonight. I imagine that on that political point, simply
taking a vote on this in the Senate and making everybody get on the record
is going to be a very politically potent thing.
Thank you for your time tonight, Senator. Thank you. I appreciate
MADDOW: All right. More to come. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Set your Google news alert. There`s something going on in
conservative and Republican politics right now, that I think is a "watch
this space" kind of thing, where it`s not clear where the story is going to
end up, but it may very well end up being a huge hairy deal and it`s worth
In Mississippi for a while, it felt like losing Tea Party candidate
Chris McDaniel was just living on that old Lucinda William song "I Can`t
Let Go", right? He lost his runoff election for Thad Cochran Senate seat
two weeks ago, Mississippi certified those results on Monday, but Chris
McDaniel was still not conceding, still making noises about challenging the
results, somehow, somehow he can`t let go, right? It`s not like this thing
was done everywhere but in soreloserville, Mississippi, population one.
But then, in the last 48 hours, there has been a bit of an explosion
on this issue. First, Yahoo News reported that the Senate Conservatives
Fund is sponsoring soreloserville this week. This week, the Senate
Conservatives Fund reportedly wired $70,000 to the Chris McDaniel legal
fund to challenge the election. And then, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas went
on conservative talk radio and proclaimed that he too wants an
investigation into what happened in that Mississippi election. Thad
Cochran might have stolen the election.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: What happened in Mississippi was appalling.
I mean, primaries are always rough and tumble, but the conduct of the
Washington, D.C. machine in the Mississippi runoff was incredibly
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was one thing when that Mississippi Senate race goes a
distant annoyance for the Republican Party, right? But now, with
conservative case makers like Senator Ted Cruz weighing in and saying Chris
McDaniel robbed, the Republican Party robbed him, it kind of looks like
somebody just ripped the band-aid right off this thing, and the healing
that might have begun seems to no longer be healing.
So, again, I don`t know if this is going to become anything more than
it is right now, but I think watch this space on this Mississippi story.
It`s going to be interesting to see if all the other ambitious Republicans
and media figures out there line up with Ted Cruz on this, because they
usually do when he gives them the opportunity to do.
That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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