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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Sen. Charles Schumer, Howard Dean, Peter Dreier, Jeanne Devon, Kent Jones


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, David.  Thanks very much for that.


MADDOW:  And thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean are both joining us live this hour.  Plus, we‘ve got a Jackie Chan patriotic cameo appearance.  And we have a new chapter for you in our ongoing investigation into the truth about the lies about the community group ACORN.

That is all coming up over the course of this hour.

But, we begin tonight in the middle of the health care fight.  In the Senate Finance Committee, where there is no more “gang of six.”  There‘s no more faith-based mythical kumbaya bipartisan compromise.  Finally, the whole committee, 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans were able to vote today on whether Americans—at least some of us—will get the option of buying the same kind of health care that people with Medicare currently enjoy.

On the table today were two different amendments to put a public option in the bill: one from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York; one from Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.


SEN. JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  Seventy percent of the American people want this.  I know supporters of the status quo are saying that it‘s simply, again, a government takeover.  But let me set the record straight once and forever, this will be optional.  Nobody has to do this.  But I feel so strongly about it because it makes so much sense.  The people that I represent need this.


MADDOW:  That was Senator Rockefeller, of course.

From the Republican side?


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  So, if you support single-payer health care, if you support longer waits, crowded emergency rooms, lower quality of care—in other words, the rationing or the denial of care or the delay of care that you get in single-payer systems, do you want that for America?


MADDOW:  Rationing, denial of care?  That‘s what actually being proposed?  Surely Democrats are not going to let that sort of litany of negative descriptions fly, are they?


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  The main knock you‘ve made on Senator Rockefeller‘s amendment, I presume on mine, is it‘s government run.


SCHUMER:  Medicare is government-run, and most people like it very much.

GRASSLEY:  OK.  But if it—and it will come to a single-payer, and that denies the American people choice.  What‘s good now about Medicare Advantage is people in my state have 44 choices to go to, and you—and what you would be leading us to would be a system where there isn‘t choice.  Now, I want to give senior citizens choice.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA:  Would the senator yield?  Would Senator Grassley yield?  Now, you just made a statement that it will lead to a single-payer.  How in the world do you make that leap?

GRASSLEY:  Well, you know, there are health economists around here, and I can only quote two.  One is Heritage says that 83 million people are going to be forced out of their plan, employer plans, into public option.  And Lewin Group says 120 million.


MADDOW:  Who—who—who‘s that?  Heritage Foundation, right-wing think tank, and the Lewin Group—those are the research firms he can remember that have been supplying congressional Republicans with their information about why health reform is such a bad idea.

Conveniently, the Lewin Group is the health insurance industry.  The Lewin Group is run by a wholly owned subsidiary of United Healthcare Group, which is the second largest health insurance company in the country.

On the statements of the senator from United Health then, any other major arguments against the public option today?


SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA:  If you went home in August and you heard from your constituents the way that most of us heard from our constituents, the people are really afraid of the, quote, “public option.”  I put it in quotes because many of us on this side believe that it will lead to a government-run system, that it will lead to a single-payer.


MADDOW:  People are really afraid, says Senator Ensign.  In fact, 65 percent of Americans are so afraid of the public option that they said in the last “New York Times”/CBS poll that they would please like a public option, 65 percent.

You know, the least surprising news of the day today was that not a single Republican would vote in accordance with that 65 percent of the American people.  Not a single Republican would vote for the public option.  But that doesn‘t really legislatively matter, right?  After all, the committee has a Democratic majority and surely, Democrats will vote for a public option, won‘t they?


SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), CHAIRMAN, FINANCE COMMITTEE:  My job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes.  Now, I can count.  And no one has been able to show me how they can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.


MADDOW:  Democratic Chairman Max Baucus says it‘s not that he doesn‘t want a public option.  He does.  He just won‘t vote for it unless everyone does.  Huh, leadership.

In all on the first public option choice, Senator Rockefeller‘s amendment, there were five Democrats who voted no.


CLERK:  Mr. Conrad?


CLERK:  Mr. Conrad, no.

Mrs. Lincoln?


CLERK:  Mrs. Lincoln, no.

Mr. Nelson?


CLERK:  Mr. Nelson, no.

Mr. Carper?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Carper, no.  Mr. Chairman?


CLERK:  Mr. Chairman, no.


MADDOW:  Thus the Rockefeller amendment in a majority Democratic committee dies, with only eight senators in favor and 15 voting against.

Senator Schumer, your turn.


SCHUMER:  There‘s no question that the public option would improve this good bill.


MADDOW:  So what say you, Democrats, to the second public option choice of the day?  The Chuck Schumer amendment.


NELSON:  I will vote for the Schumer amendment.


MADDOW:  Senator Nelson of Florida switches sides.  He‘s on board now. 

Anybody else?


CLERK:  Mr. Carper?


CLERK:  Senator Carper, aye by proxy.


MADDOW:  Senator Carper of Delaware switches sides, too.

Will the remaining three anti-Rockefeller amendment Democrats now follow suit?


CLERK:  Mr. Conrad?


CLERK:  Mr. Conrad, no.

Mrs. Lincoln?


CLERK:  Mrs. Lincoln, no by proxy.

Mr. Chairman?


CLERK:  Mr. Chairman votes no.


MADDOW:  No, no, and no.

And let me guess, Mr. Chairman, Senator Baucus, you voted against the Democratic amendment for an option you say you support, again, why, because?


BAUCUS:  I don‘t see a bill out of this committee with public option getting 60 votes, so I‘m constrained to vote against the amendment.


MADDOW:  That‘s at 3:50 p.m. Eastern Time in a 10-13 against vote.  The Charles Schumer public option amendment died, alongside its Rockefeller counterpart.

What does this mean?

Well, joining us from the Russell Rotunda on Capitol Hill is Senator Chuck Schumer.

Senator, thank you for taking the time on this busy day.

SCHUMER:  Good evening.

MADDOW:  You and I agreed on Thursday that if the public option could make it in the Senate Finance Committee, it looked pretty good that it could make it anywhere—maybe all the way into the final bill.  What does it mean that it didn‘t survive that committee today?

SCHUMER:  Well, look, it would have been better if it had passed.  And certainly, it didn‘t.  But we picked up votes we didn‘t expect, particularly on my amendment, Jay and I working as a team.

And, you know, the Senate Finance Committee is the toughest terrain here.  It‘s more conservative than the Senate as a whole, populated by a large number of rural senators.  And the Senate as a whole is less conservative—is more conservative than the House.

So, this is an uphill fight.  We knew it.  But, you know, a month ago, the public option was dead.  Now, we‘re alive and fighting.  Even two of the three senators who spoke out against it said they were interested in it, and we‘re going to keep working at it until we get this done.  It‘s too important to good health care not to have the public option.

And while I wouldn‘t say to you we‘re definitely—you know, we‘re certain of winning on the Senate floor, we‘re going to work hard at it, and I think we have a pretty good chance.

MADDOW:  There were five Democratic senators who voted no on Senator Rockefeller‘s amendment.  Only three of those senators voted no on your amendment.  Did you imagine that you could pick up potentially more Senate Democrats who voted no, some of those three might further change or you think they‘re qualitatively opposed?

SCHUMER:  No, I think they‘re open to change.  I mean, Senator Baucus, himself, as you showed on your show, said he was for it but wanted to see 60 votes.  He obviously cares very much and wants to pass a health care bill.

And I think—and I said this in the committee meeting—that by working hard, we‘ll be able to show him 60 votes.  It may not be exactly as I proposed or as Jay proposed, but it will be a good, strong public option.  I have spoken to just about every one of my moderate Democratic colleagues.  Not a single one has closed the door on the public option on the Senate floor.

So, to say that the bill is dead and this is over is wrong.  It‘s underestimating the strong support we have out in the country.  It‘s also underestimating the fight of those of us who care a lot about it.

Again, is this going to be easy?  No.  But, at the end of the day, as you go through the process, I think we have a darn good chance of getting a good public option in the bill.

MADDOW:  Let me ask you about one thorny issue that I know has a lot -

·         a lot of political oomph to it, and that is the 60-vote threshold.  When you say that the public option doesn‘t necessarily have 60 votes now, it might ultimately have 60 votes.  When you assume that 60-vote threshold rather than 50 votes—are you saying that some Democrats would literally filibuster a Democratic reform bill just because the public option was in it?  Democrats will vote to filibuster?


SCHUMER:  Well, they can repose a filibuster on the specific amendment, not on the bill.  But that‘s one of the things we‘re looking at here, saying to some members, “Look, a vast majority of the caucus supports public option.  Vote yes on cloture to let us have the vote, and then vote your principles, conscience, whatever you will when we get to the 51.”

So, yes, that is—that is a real chance to do this.  Obviously, we‘re first trying for 60.  If we can‘t get to 60, some of us will argue that for the public option and some other things, we can go to the 51-vote margin.  Not so much on reconciliation, but getting Democrats to vote for cloture, even if they don‘t support the bill, giving your fellow Democrats a chance to have their voice.

MADDOW:  Do you have support from other members of the Democratic leadership and specifically from Senator Reid from an approach like that?

SCHUMER:  Well, Senator Reid has not unveiled his approach.  We‘ve been talking about it.  He‘s waiting until the finance committee finishes the bill.  But I know he is for a public.  Each member of the leadership, of the four in the Democratic leadership, are for a public option.  So, that gives me some cause for optimism here.

MADDOW:  Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who tried hard but unsuccessful—ultimately unsuccessful trying to get the public option into the Senate Finance Committee‘s health reform bill.

SCHUMER:  The fight is not over, Rachel.  Fight is not over.

MADDOW:  Fight is not over.  And you‘re being able to tell what‘s going on as it‘s happening from Capitol Hill is invaluable.  Thank for your time, sir.

SCHUMER:  I will do my best.  Thanks.  Bye-bye.

MADDOW:  Governor Howard Dean will join us next in studio.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Today, conservative Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, the people who I‘ve called the conservadems, were forced to pick sides on health reform and pick sides they did when they joined the unanimous Republicans in voting against two versions of the public option, amendments that would provide one real alternative for Americans who were not served by the lousy, unaffordable, for-profit health insurance industry that we‘ve got now.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus explained his decision to vote against the public option with the adult equivalent of the “Everyone else is doing it too” excuse.


BAUCUS:  My job is to put together a bill that gets 60 votes.  Now, I can count.  And no one has been able to show me how they can count up to 60 votes with a public option in the bill.  I don‘t see a bill out of this committee with public option getting 60 votes, so I‘m constrained to vote against the amendment.


MADDOW:  Leadership.  I like this idea, but why would I vote for something I like unless everyone else likes it, too?

Senator Baucus was not alone.  The most conservative of the conservadems, Ben Nelson of Nebraska told a home state crowd yesterday that any health reform bill would not need simply a majority of 51 votes or a simple majority of filibuster 60 votes, but according to Ben Nelson, Democrat, health reform should have 65 votes in the Senate, a super duper-duper majority.

Senator Nelson explained, quote, “Anything less than that would challenge its legitimacy.”

And so it was that legitimate majority came to mean 65 percent, up from its original definition of 60-plus-1.

So far, as Talking Points Memo points out today, you should also know that Senator Nelson won his first Senate term with 51 percent of the vote.  He won his second term by 64 percent of the vote.  So, by his own 65 percent super-duper-duper legitimate majority standard, Senator Nelson isn‘t really a senator.  Not a legitimate senator anyway.  Be careful what you wish for.

Joining us now is Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former governor of Vermont.

Governor Dean, it‘s great to have you here.  Thanks.

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN:  Thanks for having me back.

MADDOW:  You just heard my interview with Senator Schumer.  And he said something that I haven‘t heard him articulate before, which is that Democratic leadership should be able to expect that even Democrats who are going to vote against health reform should vote for cloture, should vote to end the Republican filibuster, thereby making the threshold 51 votes instead of 60.  What‘s your reaction?

DEAN:  That‘s true.  Core procedure in almost every legislature I have ever had anything to do with, including the national legislature, is, you can vote however you want on a bill, that‘s a conscience matter, but you owe it to your leadership who gives you your chairmanship and to vote with the leadership on procedural votes.  And a filibuster is a procedural vote.

So, I would expect all of the people caucusing with the Democrats to allow a vote to go forward.


DEAN:  And so, you know, the chairman‘s argument is auspicious.  You don‘t need 60 votes for a public option, you need 51 -- under any circumstance, if the people who caucus with the Democratic Party and owe their chairs to the Democratic leadership are willing to do the right thing.

MADDOW:  You‘re not chairman anymore but have you worked with a lot of the key players, the upper echelons in the Democratic Party right now.  Do they have it in them, to insist on that?

DEAN:  I don‘t know.

MADDOW:  To insist that all Democrats vote for cloture?

DEAN:  We‘re going to—oh, yes, I think the leader would look terrible if he couldn‘t get the votes for cloture out of the Democratic Caucus, and I think they will support Harry.  He‘s been very good to them and he‘s a good leader.  But you need 51 votes.  The other thing about this, this is reconciliation, you need 51 votes.

MADDOW:  Explain what that is.  Reconciliation—it‘s rule.

DEAN:  There‘s a—yes.  The Senate has a filibuster rule.  Sixty people can grind—I mean, 40 people can grind the place to a halt.  You got to get over 41.  You got to get at least 60 to proceed if folks want to talk it to death.

But they also prohibit you from doing that in the budget.  For example, the Bush‘s tax cuts went into the budget so that he wouldn‘t need a 60-vote majority to pass it.

And this is a major piece of legislation.  It could be passed in the budget.  If you want to use Medicare to expand the public option and let people under 65 buy into Medicare—which is a really smart idea, because for the Democrats it means you can get the program up and running by 2010.  You could do that in the reconciliation bill with no problem at all because it doesn‘t require any new language and the budget‘s balanced.

MADDOW:  So, in terms, if we believe that the leadership is committed to a public option, it seems like option A is get 60 Democrats to vote for it.  Option B is insist Democrats vote procedurally with Democrats and then have you a 51-vote—you have a 51-vote threshold because you defeated the filibuster.

DEAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  Option C is, don‘t even try for that, just pass it under reconciliation rules.

DEAN:  They can do—and they can try option A and B.  And if that doesn‘t work, they can go to C.

MADDOW:  Right.

DEAN:  Look, it‘s a leadership—if the Democrats want this, they‘re going to get a public option.

MADDOW:  Do you think they want it?

DEAN:  I do—well, I think they do want it.  I think they‘re nervous about it.  But 65 percent of the American people want it.

Look, here‘s the problem with these guys, they‘re stuck.  In the more conservative states, there‘s a lot of venom against it, even though the majority of people want it.  And a lot of these guys have taken millions of dollars from the health insurance industry and they‘re stuck.  And that‘s a real problem.

And it‘s—if we don‘t pass this thing, we‘re going to lose a lot of seats.  And if we don‘t pass—everybody in America now knows that without a public option, this thing is a farce.  You‘re spending $60 billion of taxpayer money every year to the health insurance industry—who are ripping people off, kicking them off their insurance if they get sick, charging sick people two and three and four times as much as they charge healthy people.

What we need is an option so people can choose not to be in that system, and that‘s what the public option fight is about.  Who gets to choose?  Does Chairman Baucus get to choose for everybody in America or do you get to choose what kind of insurance is best for you and your family?

And we are arguing to give the American people the choice.  Let us reform health care.  We don‘t trust the politicians to reform health care.  Give us the opportunity to do that, and the best way to do that is to give us some choices, like the public option.

MADDOW:  If some—part of the reason that—part of the thing that‘s blocking political progress on this is that the health insurance industry and the medical industry, the people who profit from the system being broken the way it is now, have essentially lined the pockets of a lot of member of Congress and senators.

DEAN:  That‘s true.

MADDOW:  If that is the problem, how do you beat that problem?  You can‘t outspend them retroactively now.


DEAN:  Well, the people—the public—the public doesn‘t like it, and that‘s—some of that‘s going on, some of the left-wing groups are—or I shouldn‘t say left wing, because, you know, when 65 percent of the American people want something, it‘s not exactly.

MADDOW:  That‘s a big wing.

DEAN:  It‘s pretty—what I call the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

MADDOW:  Right.

DEAN:  . which is bigger than the Democratic Party itself.  But, you know, the more progressive groups are really upset about this.  And I don‘t blame them, because this is not health care reform.  What Chairman Baucus wants to do is not health care reform.

And, you know, I thank—I‘m very grateful for Senator Rockefeller and Senator Schumer for their bills.  I take great hope in the fact that Senator Carper and Senator Nelson switched their votes because that means some form of a public option, however weak, will get out of the Senate and if that happens, we‘ll have a public option.

But this is not because we want a single-payer.  This is so the American people have something they can choose between the private sector and the public sector.  What they want to do is choose to buy into Medicare.  That‘s essentially what this is.  And most -- 65 percent of the American people—would like that choice.

MADDOW:  Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee chairman, former Vermont governor, of course, a medical doctor himself—thank you, sir.  It‘s great to have you here in studio.

DEAN:  Thank you.  My pleasure.

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot.

The political search-and-destroy mission against the community group ACORN now looks like it is the first step in a larger crusade that‘s got its next liberal target picked out already.  Our ongoing investigation, the truth behind the lies about ACORN continues in just a few minutes.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Today, the forces that have turned community activist group ACORN into a political pinata set their sights on a White House official.  His name is Patrick Gaspard, the political affairs director at the White House.  According to an article published in the conservative magazine “The American Spectator,” Mr. Gaspard is a, quote, “longtime ACORN operative.”

ACORN might as well be speaking to President Obama through an earpiece as he goes about his daily business ruining the country.  Once an allegation like that is in a conservative magazine, you know what happens next.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS:  The White House political director.


DOOCY:  . is a fellow by the name of Patrick Gaspard, and he apparently has been in bed with ACORN.  So, does ACORN have somebody in the White House.

BECK:  You know what‘s really.

DOOCY:  . in one way or another?

BECK:  You know what‘s really weird is—and the answer to that is yes.


MADDOW:  Actually, the answer to that is no.  “The American Spectator‘s” newly discovered evidence that Mr. Gaspard was a longtime ACORN operative was actually a 4-month-old blog post from ACORN‘s founder which incorrectly stated that Mr. Gaspard had been an ACORN employee.

Today, that ACORN founder corrected his original post writing, quote, “Patrick was never on the staff of ACORN,” and that does appear to be the case, he was not an ACORN employee.  But why let the facts get in the way of a good smear, right?

Despite this embarrassing misfire, opponents of ACORN and the conservative media and the Republican Party are so confident in the success of their war against ACORN that they‘re already planning who they‘re going after next.

Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who stood on the House floor last week and falsely accused President Obama of working for ACORN, telegraphed the next witch hunt that we have to look forward to—in an interview with “The Washington Independent‘s” Dave Weigel.


DAVE WEIGEL, WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT:  What is the next natural target to defund the left?  If this ACORN thing is successful, it looks like it is.

REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  Well, ACORN and all their affiliates, SEIU is another one.  Their connection there is so tight.  They‘re part of the operational arm, and they‘re part of the funding.  So, if those two can be pulled down and out of this society, that means that a lot of these people will reform them.


MADDOW:  If those two can be pulled down and out of this society.

The other organization that Mr. King mentioned there besides ACORN is SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, one of the nation‘s largest unions.

Congressman King‘s admission that Republicans buoyed by the success of their anti-ACORN crusade are going to go after SEIU next, it wasn‘t just an empty threat.  Yesterday, three other House Republicans held a press conference urging the U.S. Census Bureau to sever any of its ties to SEIU.

What‘s the connection between SEIU and ACORN?  Why for the right does targeting one lead to targeting the other?  Well, it‘s true that SEIU and ACORN have worked together in the past.  Most notably, they worked together on what are called living wage ordinances.  You heard of the minimum wage, right, that‘s when the law says all corporations have to pay employees at least a certain amount of money per hour.

A living wage is a related idea, but it factors in a wider range of cost-of-living standards for different parts of the country.  Living wage advocates say the federal minimum wage isn‘t enough to live on everywhere in the country.  And so, therefore, some local standards for a minimum rate of pay should actually be higher than they are for the country as a whole.

ACORN and SEIU have led successful campaigns to pass living wage ordinances in places like St. Louis and Hartford and Chicago and Oakland, California.  In those places and in more than 100 other cities and counties in the U.S., local laws now say that any private company that wants a government contract has to agree to pay its workers the living wage standard, not just the minimum wage standard.

You don‘t want to meet the living wage standard?  Fine, but you just then don‘t qualify for government contracts.  That‘s how these things work.  And many have argued that the success of living wage ordinances and the popularity of living wage ordinances laid the groundwork for President Bush, of all people, to have to sign a law raising the national minimum wage, a law that was passed by the Democratic Congress back in 2007. 

Now, both SEIU and ACORN - they find themselves under attack, both from Republicans, as we documented on last night‘s show, painted a bull‘s-eye on ACORN as soon as ACORN started registering large numbers of likely Democratic voters and from corporate interests who aren‘t crazy about things like minimum wage hikes, corporate interest that‘s gin up suspicions of groups they don‘t like by funding PR efforts to destroy those groups, PR efforts run by guys like Rick Berman, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist who we talked about on this show before. 

Mr. Berman runs the fake grassroots anti-ACORN Web site, “”  He also runs the fake grassroots anti-labor Web site “,” which has an entire section specifically dedicated to sliming, you guessed it, SEIU. 

The successful campaigns that groups like ACORN and SEIU have waged have raised wages and, therefore, the quality of life for millions of low-income Americans across the country.  And as a result ACORN and SEIU have become the enemy of corporations that are willing to pay beltway slime merchants almost anything if it might mean avoiding paying higher wages to their own employees. 

The easiest way to destroy the whole movement to raise the wages and the standard of living for poor Americans is, of course, to destroy the best advocates of that cause, to destroy the groups that organize and campaign for living wages and a raised minimum wage. 

So, ACORN - we‘ve already seen what those attacks look like.  SEIU, you‘re next.  Then who‘s next after that?  And are Democrats and liberals going to stand up for these guys, or are they just going to let them defend themselves and see how it goes? 

Joining us now is Peter Dreier.  He‘s the professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles.  He‘s also the co-author of a new study on media coverage of ACORN.  Professor Dreier, it‘s very nice to see you again.  Thanks for joining us.  


MADDOW:  Your study about ACORN details the extent to which the media got basic facts about ACORN wrong.  So I have to ask your reaction to this breathless, erroneous report in “The American Spectator” that President Obama‘s political director was an ACORN operative. 

DREIER:  Well, you know, the attack on ACORN by the Republican Party, by Glenn Beck, by Rush Limbaugh, by the “Wall Street Journal” - it‘s all an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that the Republicans and conservatives have nothing to offer working families in this country. 

They‘ve become the party of no - no jobs, no health care, no help for homeowners.  And now, it‘s become the party of no fact checking, because they‘ve basically misrepresented what they‘re looking at when they‘re trying to attack ACORN, SEIU, President Obama and the rest of the liberal community, the progressive community, that they‘re trying to dismantle.  

MADDOW:  Are you surprised that SEIU seems to be the next target on their list? 

DREIER:  You know, who is SEIU?  SEIU is janitors, security guards, nurses, hospital workers.  These are ordinary, working people who formed a union in order to get better healthcare benefits and better pay and better working conditions. 

And SEIU is the largest union in the country that‘s been on the frontlines of the fight for healthcare reform, for raising the minimum wage, the kinds of things you were talking about before. 

So I‘m not surprised that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party and the “Wall Street Journal” and Lou Dobbs and “The American Spectator” and the Republicans in Congress are going after SEIU because SEIU is part of a broader movement, a movement of conscience, a movement for social justice of which ACORN is a part and of which other organizations are a part, that we can expect the extreme right to go after, too. 

Next will probably be the Sierra Club, then Planned Parenthood, then the National Council of Churches.  It‘s an endless list of people of conscience that right-wing Republicans and their allies in the business community and the conservative media want to destroy.

And that‘s what this attack on ACORN and SEIU is about.  It‘s not about public policy.  It‘s not about misuse of federal funds.  It‘s about destroying the power of the ordinary people to have a voice in their society.  

MADDOW:  Well, that said, though, Democrats are not taking this on as their fight.  Last night on this show, we hosted David Iglesias, who was apparently fired as a U.S. attorney because he wouldn‘t bring what he thought were trumped-up charges against ACORN before the ‘06 election. 

And they were charges that he thought were an effort to stop ACORN‘s effective voter registration efforts.  Couldn‘t be more clearly partisan than that.  And I feel that Republicans know their attack on ACORN is a partisan war but Democrats don‘t see it that way. 

Do you agree the Democrats haven‘t really come to their aid and don‘t seem to be planning to? 

DREIER:  If the Republicans are successful in destroying the progressive community, there will be nobody left to vote for the Democrats and to support the Democrats when they run for election, particularly the progressive Democrats. 

So the Democratic Party has to stand up for, not only ACORN, but for the other targets of the extreme right.  And so far, it‘s been a disappointment.  Some of the leading Democrats in the House, in the Senate have been running for cover. 

And they‘ve got to stand up and support their allies because when it‘s time to support them, they‘re going to look - turn around and SEIU might be gone and ACORN might be gone and other organizations that have been the backbone of the Democratic Party supporting raising the minimum wage, providing health care for everyone. 

So the Democrats have to - at least those Democrats that have been in the forefront of these fights.  They have to stand up for their allies, because if they don‘t, then the progressive community, the liberal progressive community will be destroyed and the Democrats won‘t exist anymore ...

MADDOW:  Professor Dreier -

DREIER:  ... including the president of the United States.  

MADDOW:  I guarantee you that your answer to that question that I just asked you is going to be played in front of conservative audiences to rile up their activist base over the course of the next year.  And the question is whether or not progressives will do the same in order to rile them up against it. 

Peter Dreier, professor of politics at Occidental College, co-author of the recent study “Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN was in the News and What the News Got Wrong.”  Thank you for your time tonight, sir, and your insight.  I think you just made yourself famous.  

DREIER:  Thank you, Rachel.  We‘ll see.  

MADDOW:  OK.  We now know that the title of Sarah Palin‘s forthcoming sooner-than-expected book is “Going Rogue.”  Catchy, sure.  Loaded, you betcha.  Loaded in a way that sounds way different to folks in Alaska than it does to most folks in the lower 48.  That explanation, coming up. 


MADDOW:  Sarah Palin‘s new book is called “Going Rogue,” which is pretty much the exact language she used to disparage at least one lifelong public servant in Alaska during the trooper-gate scandal.  She is the gift that keeps on being ironic.  That‘s all coming up.

But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  There are about 6.7 billion people in the world.  One out of every 12 of them is a customer of China mobile, the Chinese state-run cell phone company. 

If you only count the 4 billion people in the world who have cell phones, one in eight of them is a customer of China mobile.  On the occasion of this week‘s 60th anniversary of the founding of the People‘s Republic of China, China mobile has done a little something for their many, many customers. 

When you call someone from your China mobile cell phone now,

instead of hearing this sound - (telephone ringing) - instead of hearing

that normal phone ringing sound, China mobile customers now hear this -


They have changed all 500 million of their phones so that the normal ringing phone sound is instead that patriotic song.  The name of the song is the mandarin word for “nation” or “country.” 

And yes, before you ask, that is being sung by Jackie Chan - yes, the exact same Jackie Chan who you are thinking of.  China mobile says that anyone who doesn‘t want Jackie Chan singing a John Ashcroft-style patriotic power ballad as their ring back can go to the company‘s Web site to learn how to change it. 

In the meantime, though, they want their 500 million customers to enjoy what the company is calling a gift - their creepy, creepy, state-sponsored patriotic power-ballad gift.  Happy creepy birthday, China.  

And finally, some unbridled joy and amazement courtesy of one of joy and amazement‘s most reliable sources, baseball.  On Sunday, the Seattle Mariners played the Toronto Blue Jays.  On the local radio pre-game show on Kiro, the color commentator and former Mariner Mike Blowers was asked for a specific prediction for the game. 

And he spared no details in forecasting success in that game for a player who had just been called up from the minors.  I promise you, this is totally worth it.  Listen. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Takes the click.  Final game of the series.  Mike, who‘s yours? 

MIKE BLOWERS, FORMER MARINER AND COMMENTATOR:  I think, clearly, it is going to be Tuiasosopo today.  He swung that well the last few times.  He‘s got an opportunity to play.  I expect he‘ll hit his first big league home run today.  He‘s going to get a good count today.  He‘s going to get a fast ball and he‘s going to hit it out of the left center field probably.  Maybe in the second deck.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  All right.  I‘m looking forward to it.  Matt Tuiasosopo‘s first homerun of his career coming up according to Mike Blowers.  

BLOWERS:  On a 3-1 count.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On a 3-1 count, breaking ball, fastball? 

BLOWERS:  It will be a fastball.  He‘s a fast ball pitcher, 3-1 count

·         second at-bat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How many rows back? 

BLOWERS:  Second deck.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How many rows back?  Two or three?

BLOWERS:  That I can‘t take, because people get their hands in the way so you never know.  


MADDOW:  OK.  So that‘s before the game.  Blowers predicts this new player‘s going to hit his first home run in the majors.  In his second at-bat on a 3-1 count off a fastball and he‘s going to hit it in the left side, second deck.  We now join hall-of-famer Dave Niehaus, who has called almost 5,000 Mariners‘ games.  Check this out.  


DAVE NIEHAUS, SPORTSCASTER:   3-1 pitch on the way.  Swung and melted into left field!  He just missed the second deck!  Fly, fly, far away.  I don‘t believe it!  I see the light!  I believe you, Mike!  Unbelievable, it is 2-0, Mariners!


MADDOW:  Every detail of that prediction nailed.  Every one.  He‘s like Nate Silver.


MADDOW:  Sarah Palin‘s book is coming out early.  It was just in May that her purported multimillion-dollar book deal was announced with Rupert Murdoch‘s Harper Collins.  At the time the company announced that the book would hit stores next spring. 

But since then, Ms. Palin quit her job as governor of Alaska, which has maybe freed up more time for her to be with her ghostwriter.  Harper Collins said today that the book is done already, wow, and that it will hit shelves on November 17th, and that it is 400 pages.  Four hundred pages but no word yet on the font size. 

The publisher has also announced the title.  It‘s going to be called “Going Rogue: An American Life.”  The term “rogue,” of course, was first applied to Palin by unnamed McCain/Palin campaign insiders who, in a watershed article for CNN during the campaign season, alleged Palin was, quote, “going rogue.”

Said quote, “She is a diva.  She takes no advice from anyone.  She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.”  The same source in the same article also saying, quote, “She is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party.  Remember, divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.” 

In the same article another McCain/Palin campaign source, who was described as having direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked as VP said, quote, “Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic.” 

The same source said she was the “hardest to get up to speed than any candidate in history.”  That‘s the context in which Sarah Palin was described as rogue during the campaign. 

And one way to see today‘s announcement about her book is that, that Dim, Dim, Dimmy McDimmerson view of her among the people who worked with her on the vice presidential campaign is now enough of a point of pride for her that she‘s chosen it as the title of her book. 

But there‘s also one other way to see today‘s announcement about her book.  In Alaska, the word “rogue” has a whole different association with Sarah Palin.  Do you remember trooper-gate?  Trooper-gate was the major ethics scandal that loomed over Gov. Palin‘s time as governor, even before she was chosen as Sen. McCain‘s running mate. 

While Gov. Palin‘s sister was in the midst of a messy divorce from an Alaska state trooper, Gov. Palin allegedly pushed for that trooper to be fired.  Her office denounced that brother-in-law as a rogue trooper. 

When the top law enforcement officer in Alaska, the head of the Department of Public Safety, the former police chief of Anchorage refused what he said was pressure to fire the trooper, Palin‘s office denounced him as a rogue as well.  And I don‘t think she meant it as a complement. 

Joining us now from Anchorage, Alaska, blogger Jeanne Devon who writes for “”  Ms. Devon, thanks very much for joining us tonight. 

JEANNE DEVON, BLOGGER, “THEMUDFLATS.NET”:  Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Jeanne, you wrote at your blog, “Mudflats” today, “Sarah Palin apparently hopes to make the term ‘rogue‘ impish and endearing.  She may have fooled her ghostwriter and the folks at Harper Collins and she may fool many of those in the lower 48 who will wait in line for their copy of ‘Going Rogue,‘ but she will not fool Alaskans.”  What did you mean by that? 

DEVON:  Well, as you were saying, while the term “rogue,” while most people in the lower 48, I think, would associate that term with what you mentioned and also with the Tina Fey “Saturday Night Live” “Going Rogue” skit, Alaskans have a deeper understanding and it goes further back. 

The trooper-gate scandal that was coming to a head the summer before she was nominated and tapped to be the VP really brought into clear focus those two instances that you talked about. 

The word “rogue” when it was applied to Trooper Mike Wooten, who could be argued not to be a particularly sympathetic character, but the use of that term “rogue,” or “rogue cop,” he ended up having to be pushing papers at a desk job. 

It was felt that he couldn‘t be safe in his patrol car out dealing with the public because then-Gov. Palin had said he was a danger to herself, to her family and to the public.  So that use of the word “rogue” had some pretty devastating implications for him. 

And also for Walt Monegan, who, on the other hand, was sort of brimming with integrity, was beloved by anyone that worked for him, kind of the model police chief that everybody would hope to have, an ex-Marine. 

When he was called a rogue, he actually sought out a hearing in front of the Alaska personnel board in order to clear his name, to have his sort of day in court, as it were, to address the reputational harm that that label of “rogue” had caused him. 

So this is a very sore spot for many Alaskans, the use of that word “rogue” that she was kind of bandying around to cause harm to people that she perceived were standing in the way of her scramble to power as our potential vice president. 

MADDOW:  In trying to understand the way this might be received, the book title might be received differently in Alaska than it is her.  I wanted to note also that you posted a picture on “Mudflats” today showing Walt Monegan‘s mom holding a sign that says, “I‘m the mother of the rogue Walt Monegan and I love him.” 

Obviously, that‘s his mom.  But did Mr. Monegan being called a rogue by Sarah Palin not only upset him and his mom, but did it generally provoke a big response because he was so popular? 

DEVON:  It did.  And there was an organization called Alaskans for Truth that held a rally in Anchorage, in downtown Anchorage near the governor‘s office that was so outraged by the way that the media was handling the whole trooper-gate scandal, by the way Gov. Palin was handling it.  Her then-attorney general who has since resigned over it was also mishandling that. 

People came out - you know, 1,500 people, which for Alaska, is really a huge rally, certainly the hugest I‘ve ever seen.  And you know, here‘s this wonderful woman with that sign, you know, “I‘m the mother of the rogue,” in quotes, “Walt Monegan and I love him.”  And she really stole the show. 

People were getting choked up.  She was getting choked up because it‘s really a serious thing.  You know, Alaska is a small town.  And when you start sort of maligning people that are cohabiting in that small town, it‘s really hurtful in a way that I think Sarah Palin really made it clear to all of us up here. 

MADDOW:  Alaska blogger, Jeanne Devon, who writes for “,” of which I am ardent fan, I will admit.  Thanks very much for your time tonight.  It‘s really great to have you on the show. 

DEVON:  Thank you, Rachel.  It was really great to be here. 

MADDOW:  Great.  OK. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden on what‘s next for President Obama‘s healthcare public option, after the committee voted it down today. 

Plus, my friend Kent Jones will be here to tell us why you should really not take a cab in Chicago if you are feeling nauseous.  It‘s a very specific reason.  We‘ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  We turn now to our mobile etiquette correspondent, Kent Jones.  Kent, I know enough about this story to be worried about this report. 

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  You might be.  Cab drivers in Chicago are lobbying the city council to add a surcharge of $50 to anyone who vomits in the taxi.  Clearly a volatile issue.  Let‘s take a look. 


(voice-over):  It‘s a tough gig driving a cab - late nights, traffic held, drunks, lots of drunks. 

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR (as Travis Bickle):  Someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.

JONES:  So is it too much to ask that Chicago cab drivers are lobbying the city council to add a $50 surcharge to the fares of people who do this in taxi cabs?  I hear some of you - $50, a lot of money. 

Well, think back.  Do you remember that night, the one with the appletinis and the flaming tequila shots and the 2:00 a.m. barbecue?  Maybe you don‘t, but your cabbie does, all too well. 

People who work in an office don‘t have to contend with this kind of thing - maybe at a Christmas party, but not night after night.  Sometimes, guilt and shame play a useful role in our society.  And when this happens, you don‘t just owe the cabbie, you owe the world. 

Rule of thumb, if you wouldn‘t do it in your house, don‘t do it in a cab.  So $50 - you‘re getting off easy.  And besides, do you really want to make them angry? 


MADDOW:  The thing about it, too, is if you‘re hammered enough to boot in the cab, you‘ll have no idea where that $50 went the next day. 

JONES:  No, no.  It‘s liquid.  Everything is liquid. 

MADDOW:  No, no.  Yes, exactly, in every sense of the word. 

JONES:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  Thank you very much for that, Kent.  I have a whole new set of things to worry about when hailing a cab now. 

Thank you all for watching tonight as well.  We will see you again tomorrow night.  Until then, you can E-mail us and we read your E-mails -  Our podcast is at iTunes or at  Look, I‘m in the iPod.  You can also hear my radio show coast to coast on Air America Radio. 

“COUNTDOWN” starts right now.  Have a great night.  



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