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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Julie Burkhart, Cory Booker, Kent Jones

KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  And now to discuss the sentencing

hearing of murdered anti-abortion extremist Scott—the man who murdered

Dr. George Tiller, Scott Roeder—ladies and gentlemen, here is the

perpetrator of the greatest double reverse April Fools‘ Day joke ever, the

one in which she makes people think something isn‘t true, then she makes

people think the April Fools joke is the fact it isn‘t true—then she

makes people think the April Fools joke is the fact that people think it is

true, only it isn‘t, except it really is—Rachel Maddow.  Only she made

me promise not to tell what the joke was.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  The whole reason my

parents had me, the whole reason I was given birth to in the first place—


MADDOW:  -- was to bamboozle people about the date on which I was

born.  That‘s the whole reason they had a child.


MADDOW:  Maybe.

OLBERMANN:  Well, I‘m not going to say anything to that, nor am I

going to say anything involving the word “happy.”  Have a good show. 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much, Keith.  You are very kind and clever. 

Appreciate it.

Thanks to you at home as well for joining us tonight.

We‘ve got a lot coming up on the show tonight, but we are beginning

with this scene in a Wichita, Kansas, courtroom today.  Just before the

judge sentenced to life in prison the man who murdered abortion provider,

Dr. George Tiller.  The convicted murderer, anti-abortion extremist, Scott

Roeder, interrupted his own sentencing hearing today during the testimony

of a psychologist who was called to the stand by Roeder‘s own defense team. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His logic, his reasoning was that he was following

God‘s law.

PROSECUTOR:  Through murdering which God condemns—

SCOTT ROEDER, CONVICTED MURDERER:  To protect unborn babies.

PROSECUTOR:  Your honor, I would ask—

JUDGE:  Mr. Roeder—

ROEDER:  I‘m talking—I just can‘t stand it—it‘s—

JUDGE:  I don‘t care about you will be removed from the courtroom if

you don‘t settle down.


MADDOW:  After that, Mr. Roeder spoke on his own behalf for more than

40 minutes.  As Cliff Judy, a Wichita TV reporter who is covering the trial

pointed out today, Mr. Roeder spent about 25 minutes of that time speaking

on his own behalf, reading from somebody else‘s book—reading from a book

written by a man named Paul Hill.

Who is Paul Hill?  Paul Hill is part of the web of anti-abortion

extremist violence that appears to have inspired Scott Roeder to murder

George Tiller.  In July, 1994, Paul Hill shot and killed Dr. John Britton,

and a 74-year-old clinic escort named James Barrett.  He also injured James

Barrett‘s wife.

That killing followed another killing, of Dr. David Gunn, who was shot

and killed by another anti-abortion extremist as he arrived at his

Pensacola, Florida, clinic in March of 1993.  The man who killed Dr. Gunn

was named Michael Griffin.  Michael Griffin was associated with a group

called Rescue America.  Rescue America responded to Dr. Gunn‘s killing by

saying that while they didn‘t condone it, they certainly didn‘t condemn it,


The violence continued after that.  In December 1994, an anti-abortion

extremist named John Salvi killed in two receptionists and wounded five

other people at two clinics in Massachusetts.  In January of 1998, a

security guard named Robert Sanderson was killed, a nurse named Emily Lyons

was seriously wounded by a nail bomb that was set off an Alabama abortion

clinic.  That bombed was set by Eric Rudolf, and who would also another

abortion clinic and a gay bar in Atlanta in 1997.

Eric Rudolph became famous, of course, for also bombing the Atlanta

Olympics.  He killed one person and wounded 11 others. 

In October of 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed inside his home—

inside his home in Amherst, New York.  He was killed by an anti-abortion

extremist named James Kopp, who was armed with a sniper rifle. 

And, of course, on May 31st of last year, Scott Roeder walked into the

Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, and shot and killed Dr. 

George Tiller, while Dr. Tiller was serving as an usher for Sunday


In January of this year, Scott Roeder was convicted of premeditated

murder.  He admitted during his trial that he had stalked Dr. Tiller for

years before killing him.  Today, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in

prison without the chance for parole for 50 years.  It‘s what‘s known in

Kansas as the “hard 50.”

The judge could have given Mr. Roeder a sentence that would have

allowed for parole eligibility in 25 years.  The sentence he got, however,

the “hard 50,” means that 52-year-old Scott Roeder will very likely die in


At the sentencing today, perhaps the single most amazing thing about

it was when Scott Roeder called character witnesses.  Scott Roeder called

character witnesses to urge the judge to give him the lesser sentence. 

These witnesses sealed beyond a shadow of a doubt, Mr. Roeder‘s ties to the

broader extremist anti-abortion movement, the fact that this wasn‘t one

crazed guy acting alone, the fact that this was intended as an act of

domestic terrorism.

Two of Scott Roeder‘s character witnesses were Regina Dinwiddie and

David Leach.  Dinwiddie and Leach are both signatories to a document that‘s

called the Defensive Action Statement.  That statement explicitly supports

the use of violence against abortion providers.


REGINA DINWIDDIE, CHARACTER WITNESS:  His heart was with the babies. 

He was always cool, but he was never cold.  But he‘s good, hard working,

productive member of this society who loves his country and doesn‘t belong

in prison, your honor.

DAVID LEACH, CHARACTER WITNESS:  I think everyone will agree, he

honestly believed that he could do some good and he was willing to

sacrifice his own freedom and life itself for others.  And I think everyone

here can agree with that, and yet, I also expect almost everybody here in

this courtroom will blanch if I say he was motivated by love.  And yet

willingness to offer your life for others precisely meets the Bible‘s very

definition of love.


MADDOW:  In the aftermath of Dr. Tiller‘s murder, the first person you

saw speaking there, Regina Dinwiddie, she told CNN that the murder was,

quote, “absolutely justified.”  She told the “Associated Press” that she

was glad about George Tiller‘s death.  She said at the time, quote, “I

wouldn‘t cry for him no more than I would if somebody dropped a rat and

killed it.”

For his part, David Leach publishes a newsletter that‘s called “The

Prayer and Action News.”  It‘s a newsletter to which Scott Roeder

subscribed and submitted articles.  After George Tiller‘s murder, Dave

Leach spoke to the “Associated Press” about Scott Roeder saying, quote, “He

will be the hero—he will be the hero to thousands of babies who will not

be slain because Scott sacrificed everything for them.”

He told the “Iowa Independent,” quote, “So far, the Bible discussion I

have seen overwhelmingly supports anyone willing to sacrifice everything in

order to physically stop an abortionist from killing thousands of babies.”

Last year, Dave Leach tried to auction off, among other things, “A

Prayer and Action News” army of God edition.  He wanted to auction this off

to benefit Scott Roeder‘s legal defense.  It‘s a handbook for using force

against abortion clinics.

When George Tiller was killed last year by Scott Roeder, it was not

the first time that he had been shot by people from this domestic terrorist

movement.  In fact, Scott Roeder had said that he had visited a woman named

Shelly Shannon while she was in prison in Topeka, Kansas.  She was in

prison for shooting George Tiller.  She shot him in both arms in 1993. 

Dr. Tiller knew exactly what he was up against with this movement. 

This movement is determined to use force and murder to get its way.  But he

believed in what he was doing.  He thought it was important to provide the

service that he provided to women.

At his funeral, a giant floral arrangement spelling out Dr. Tiller‘s

motto was put up in the church.  It spelled out “Trust women.”

Joining us now is Julie Burkhart, who worked closely with Dr. Tiller

for eight years.  She now directs the Trust Women PAC.  It focuses

specifically on doctors who provide the kind of services that Dr. Tiller

provided and the task of protecting legal access to those services across

the country.

Ms. Burkhart, thanks very much for joining us today.

JULIE BURKHART, TRUST WOMEN PAC:  Thank you, Rachel.  Thank you for

having me.

MADDOW:  What‘s your reaction to today‘s sentencing?  Do you feel that

justice was served?

BURKHART:  Well, I feel that the “hard 50” was the right sentence, and

Scott Roeder will, as he most certainly should, spend the rest of his life

in prison.  This does not stop the anti-choice terrorism that physicians

and staff members face.  And this certainly, most certainly, does not bring

back one of the most caring and compassionate men I‘ve ever known. 

MADDOW:  Scott Roeder clearly wants to be seen as a martyr to the

anti-abortion cause.  I keep mindful of that when we play the statements

today from his—people who I would consider to be his co-conspirators in

the movement, who spoke on his behalf today.  We saw it in him invoking and

lionizing other people who have killed abortion providers. 

Are you worried that there‘s a risk that the resolution of this case

today could incite more violence—could spark more violence from these


BURKHART:  Yes, most certainly.  When you see anti-choice terrorists,

such as Scott Roeder, answering to another rule of law and not to the laws

that we have in the United States, I‘m afraid that it does.  With the

inflammatory language that is used, “baby killer,” “murderer,” the use of

holocaust, this incites violence, and this is like yelling “fire” in a

crowded theater.

MADDOW:  I know that you worked with Dr. Tiller for eight years during

which time he was very cognizant of the physical threats that he faced. 

What was that like to work in that kind of environment in which you knew

you were physically being targeted every day that you went to work? 

BURKHART:  Well, I would say that after a while you became—one

would become rather immune to that, or it was not something that one would

think about on a daily basis.

MADDOW:  I know that Dr. Tiller‘s attorney talked about the impact of

his death being like an earthquake.  He said it would leave women who

needed the services that Dr. Tiller provided to ask, “Where can I go, what

will I do.”  What do you think the larger impact is of Dr. Tiller‘s murder

on the availability of the services that he provided?

BURKHART:  Well, we‘ve found that women across the state of Kansas,

across the United States, around the world, have been without care.  There

are now just a small handful of physicians left here in the U.S., a few in

the west, and one in the Midwest, who are now providing care. 

MADDOW:  When you say that, it makes me feel like the campaign of

terrorism—I consider it terrorism, I know that‘s a very loaded term—

to shut down availability of this legally-protected service in this country

has been effective, that they haven‘t been able to do it legally but

they‘ve done it practically.  Do you—do you feel like that‘s true?

BURKHART:  I do.  If you look at the number of physicians who are now

offering abortion services across the United States, the number has

dwindled.  We see an aging population amongst abortion providers.  Also, a

couple of the physicians who are now practicing in another state, the anti-

choice organization Operation Rescue has vowed to go and try to shut them


So, I think this is a real and true threat to physicians across the


MADDOW:  What‘s the best way to fight back?

BURKHART:  I think the best way to fight back is that we have to have

boots on the ground in states, all the states across the U.S.—states

like Oklahoma, Mississippi, Nebraska—where legislators are working on a

daily basis to roll back women‘s rights.  We have to work to change the

language that permeates our society, such as “baby killer” and “murderer.” 

Those are not acceptable terms and that does not describe physicians who

are providing reproductive health care services.

MADDOW:  Julie Burkhart, head of the Trust Women PAC, worked with Dr.

George Tiller for eight years—I know this is a hard time to talk. 

Thanks for joining us tonight.

BURKHART:  Thank you very much.

MADDOW:  Pulitzer Prize winning “Washington Post” columnist, Gene

Robinson will be joining us in just a moment.

And later, the embarrassment and potential tax and ethics problems for

C Street and the members of Congress who live there.  Those problems have

just gotten a lot worse very quickly.

Stay tuned.  Big news ahead.


MADDOW:  For almost a year now, we have been telling the story of C

Street and the politicians who live there and meet there and at least in

one case, canoodle there.  Tonight, there is an independent ethics

complaint about the house and its tenants that is starting to rumble in the

home districts of the C Street congressmen.  We got details coming up. 

Again, this is a big news.

Please do stay with us.


MADDOW:  As we‘ve just reported, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in

prison today for the murder of abortion doctor, George Tiller.  One way to

put what he did in context is to talk about all the other violence that has

characterized the extreme anti-abortion movement that he was associated

with.  But there‘s another thing about Scott Roeder that puts him and what

he did into a slightly different but related context.

Scott Roeder‘s arrest record emerged after he shot Dr. Tiller.  It

gives you some perspective on what else Scott Roeder was both interested in

and involved in.  In 1996, Scott Roeder was stopped by police for not

having a license plate on his car.  Instead of a license plate, he had a

little tag affixed to his car that asserted that his car was sovereign

private property.  When police searched the car, they found bomb-making

components in his trunk.

Now, at the time, Scott Roeder‘s father told a local newspaper that

Roeder had become involved with an anti-government group.  That same year,

in an interview conducted by fellow anti-abortion extremist, Dave Leach,

one of the people who testified on Roeder‘s behalf today, Scott Roeder in

this interview with Dave Leach, was introduced as a member of the Montana

Freemen, an anti-government extremist group associated with the militia


In that interview 14 years ago, Roeder talked about things like the

difference he saw between God‘s law and man‘s law.


ROEDER:  I think it comes down to our God-given rights.  And one of

those is the God-given right to travel.  And what the state has done is

turned that into a privilege to drive, and how they do that is through our

driver‘s license, when we sign for a driver‘s license.


MADDOW:  So, yes, so you can see Roeder as an anti-abortion extremist. 

You can also identify anti-abortion extremism as one branch of the broader

movement of violent, militant, anti-government extremism in this country. 

We associate that movement with the early and mid-‘90s, which is when that

tape of Scott Roeder that you just saw was filmed.

But just in the last 18 months since President Obama took office, a

white supremacist shot and killed a security guard in an attack on the

Holocaust Museum in Washington.

An anti-tax extremist flew a plane into a building in Texas that

housed an IRS office.  He killed an IRS worker.


                Nine suspected militia members arrested for allegedly plotting an

attack on police officers as part of a war they wanted to wage against the

United States government.


A Tennessee white supremacist convicted of plotting to kill President

Obama near the end of the presidential campaign in ‘08. 

And, of course, there‘s Scott Roeder killing Dr. George Tiller. 

And, of course, there‘s the wave of threats and property damage

against members of Congress after the health reform bill passed. 

Is it helpful to find the connections between these disparate acts, to

understand what American extremism is now?  Or are these all individual

crazy people with no connection to politics, no connection to each other,

no connection to a broader movement or to the broader country at large? 

What‘s the better way to understand this and is this stuff going to stop? 

Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist

and an associate editor for “The Washington Post.”  He‘s also an MSNBC

political analyst.

Gene, thanks very much for being here.


And happy April Fools‘ Day.

MADDOW:  You can just say happy Thursday, if you want.  That works.


MADDOW:  Appreciate it.

In—the questions that I asked there at the end of my intro are sort

of the questions that I have for you.  I mean, is it useful to find

connections between these admittedly disparate acts?  Does that help us

understand extremism and help try to stop it?

ROBINSON:  Yes, these are—number one, yes, these are all individual

crazy people, but number two, they are operating in a context. 

And if you—if you look at what the groups, like the Southern

Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and, indeed, the Justice

Department and the Department of Homeland Security are saying, we are

seeing an increase now, kind of resurgence of this far-right, militant

militia style, anti-government activity.  It‘s bubbling out there, and it

seems like the temperature has been turned up.

MADDOW:  In terms of that environment, what creates that environment? 

Is it literally just the ambient politics in the country?  Or are people

who are in positions of authority stoking this, either knowingly or

unknowingly, in a way that‘s really directly affecting how encouraged these

people are toward extremist acts?

ROBINSON:  I think—I think both.  I think it‘s irresponsible, I

believe, for a national political figure to put on her Facebook page,

Republicans, “Don‘t retreat, reload,” and then mark the various

congressional districts with crosshairs of a rifle scope as Sarah Palin

did.  It was irresponsible in my view of Republican members of Congress to

come out on the balcony of the Capitol of the weekend the health care was

being passed and encouraged and kind of whipped up the tea party crowd that

was outside, in the way that they did.

Of course, it‘s fine for them to be against health care reform. 

That‘s the way our democracy works.  Some people are for it, some people

are against it.

But the stuff at the margins, at the fringe, on the far right, that is

where the threat of political violence in our society comes now.  It wasn‘t

always like this.

Back in the 1970s, it was all coming from the left.  You had the

Weather Underground.  The first big story that I covered was the trial of

Patricia Hearst who had been kidnapped and then co-opted by Symbionese

Liberation Army.  They‘re just as incoherent and apocalyptic as the Hutaree


But that was then and this is now.  I mean, they‘re just not

responsible, or true, I think, to say, oh, well, there are crazies on both

sides and just kind dust it off.  In fact, the threat of that sort of

violence comes almost exclusively right now from the right—the far


MADDOW:  Gene, one of the issues and maybe this is a semantic issue,

but it‘s one that I think—I think it matters.  And that is, you know,

Dr. Tiller‘s attorney today called his murder “domestic terrorism.”  I, in

my last segment, described it as something that I believe is terrorism. 

Do you—do you think that acts of violence like this that for a

political purpose, the way this was, should be called domestic terrorism? 

Does it matter?  Is that an important distinction?  Is that just—does

that just raise the temperature without shedding any more light on things? 

ROBINSON:  Oh, well, I do think it‘s domestic terrorism.  I think by

any sort of definition, it is not only political in nature, it is—it was

designed to frighten and intimidate others from performing legally-

protected medical procedures.  I think, sure, it was terrorism in my book. 

And, now, I am not sure that ultimately—you know, if you don‘t want

to call it terrorism, that‘s fine.  Just keep an eye on these people. 

That‘s what I ask, and what I think the FBI, frankly, has been doing a

pretty good job of, at least in terms of militias.  You saw that the

Hutaree people got rolled up just as they were planning some sort of

activity in April.

What concerns me is not just the militia that we know about, but the

people who are out there that we don‘t know about, that authorities don‘t

know about.  And again, as the temperature gets turned up against—on all

the rhetoric, the invective, the anger, one worries about the effect it‘s

having on these people who are kind of out there in the woods by

themselves, or by twos and threes and haven‘t really come on the radar

scope of authorities yet.

MADDOW:  Absolutely.  Smart point.

Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, associate editor

for “The Washington Post”—it‘s always great to have you on the show,

Gene.  Thank you.

ROBINSON:  Great to be here, Rachel.

MADDOW:  So, “The Interview” tonight, it‘s one of the most effective

mayors in the country, the honorable Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, who

is here on what turned out to be a very good night for him and his city. 

It‘s good news.  It‘s big news and that‘s next.

Please stay with us.


MADDOW:  So, some people use their Twitter accounts to circulate stuff

they found online that they want other people to see.  That‘s mostly what I

use mine for.

Some people use their Twitter account to promote things they‘re doing. 

I do some of that, too.

Some people use it for pure entertainment value.

And then there‘s Newark, New Jersey‘s mayor, Cory Booker.  Quote, “So

many parks being built in Newark.  Here‘s to my county executive Joe D.,

Essex executive.  He‘s my passionate prodigious park producing partner and


That‘s the mayor saying that.  He tweets practical stuff like a link

to an article explaining the health reform bill, links to his reelection

campaign ads.

But he also, out of the blue, posts things like this quote from

Edison: “Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of

progress.”  Or this from Sidney Howard: “One half of knowing what you want

is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”  Or this one from

Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it‘s done.”

Newark, New Jersey, is a city that knows something about impossible. 

Newark also knows something about getting things done that seemed


Here‘s what Cory Booker tweeted last night and why he is here as

my guest, now, quote, “We did it.  First calendar month without a murder

since 1966.” 

Joining us now is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  In the mid-

1990s, Newark was called the most dangerous city in America.  Newark just

went without a single murder for one calendar month, the month of March. 

This is the first time that has happened in Newark in 44 years.  Mr. Mayor,


CORY BOOKER (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY:  It‘s good to be here. 

My Twitter followers will kill me if I don‘t say happy birthday.  How can I

ever be invited back now? 

MADDOW:  No, it‘s fine.  That‘s fine.  I tried to cancel a birthday

this year, but it didn‘t work.  Thank you. 

All right.  This milestone is an amazing achievement.  Your

police chief credits an emphasis on fighting the drug trade in Newark and

smarter policing.  What do you think?  How do you understand how this has


BOOKER:  Well, policing is one part of it and we have men and women

putting their heart and soul out there to use strategies, new technology,

more feet on the street.  But we really believe in Newark, it‘s got to be

two things.  And the other has got to be more programs for people coming

home from prison because we‘re the land of the free.

But we lock more folks up, and then, when they come out we create

every disincentive for them to reengage and every obstacle for them to

succeed.  We have a 65 percent recidivism rate.  And in Newark, with the

housing programs we have driven that down to less than five percent that

we‘re very proud of. 

Fatherhood programs, pro bono legal services for guys coming home

and having a lot of success there.  We really invested a lot of resources

in summer jobs for kids and other activities. 

So it‘s really got to be a full comprehensive effort.  And the

best thing that‘s happened to us as Newarkers is residents are stepping

more and more to say no more.  They‘re using all anonymous tip lines. 

They‘re organizing block associations. 

We even had one block in a dangerous neighborhood that organized

men and women in their community to walk together at - late at night when

crime was most happening to protect their own neighborhoods and their


And my favorite one is a guy that used his stimulus check to buy

a lawnmower to go on a drug turf where the guys were hanging out and

selling narcotics and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to just start mowing the lawn and

manicuring it.  He made it look so beautiful eventually, the drug dealers

just left. 

So I have a great city of great people standing up and standing

together to make the American dream come true. 

MADDOW:  It is - as you say, it‘s more than just policing.  Policing

and public safety efforts specifically have been comprehensive and it‘s

about the police as well.  You are known for sometimes going out with

police patrols late night in your city. 

Why do you do that?  How does that help?  What do you get out of

that?  How do you think it affects what‘s going on in the city in terms of


BOOKER:  Well, first of all, I think that the police officers, if

you‘re going to try to break a culture and really get your police to

understand their importance, you have to be out there. 

And I‘ll stop police officers, which gives a young African-

American male in America great pleasure to pull a cop over and have a

conversation and say, “Look, you‘re the most important agent in our

democracy right now,” because there‘s too many Americans who have resigned

themselves that there will be streets you just can‘t walk down on certain


They‘ve surrendered this country to forces we don‘t believe in. 

So - but what they do, they can make people believe again and expand the

moral consciousness of our country. 

And when you start putting individual actors and letting them

know how important they are, it‘s really ramped up productivity in our

city.  All police officers are doing things that to me are now I‘m in awe


Well, I began going out all the time at night with - checking on

police.  Now, I‘ve actually shifted to going out with the residents, asking

them to drive and patrol with me on safety patrols. 

We‘ve gotten more clergy, teenagers, senior citizens who go out

in cars with me and drive around the neighborhoods just letting folks know

that these streets belong to us.  We‘re not surrendering them to anybody. 

MADDOW:  You‘re up for reelection now.  Taking that thing for granted,

but if I were a betting person, I would bet that you are going to be


If you are reelected, are you looking at your next term and

saying, “More of the same.  What we‘re doing is working.  We need to make

sure these gains are held”?  Or do you have new initiatives, new proposals

in mind? 

BOOKER:  We have new initiatives, new proposals.  And we‘re always

scouring the country, frankly, because we can all learn from each other,

for great models. 

There‘s a phenomenal professor at John Jay College we set up in

our office with - this week actually, to talk to him about strategies that

are not about arresting people that are involved in the drug trade and

narcotics trade, but doing early interventions with them. 

And so this radical success in places happening in places like

High Point, North Carolina that even exceed what we‘re doing in Newark. 

And so to me, that‘s the way you stop crime, because police, at the end of

the day - they only treat the symptom of the problem.  They don‘t treat the

root problem. 

And the root problem is making sure every American has a pathway

to opportunity and to success.  And we can do that no matter where you are,

from Detroit to Newark, from Beverly Hills to Summit, New Jersey - every

place can reflect our values. 

And my only frustration is we in America too often in our

inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something. 

And we get caught up in what I call a state of sedentary

agitation, when sit back and watch TV, getting upset at what‘s happening. 

We don‘t realize that all of us can do things to create radical

transformation.  In Newark, we really want to be the place that shows that

it‘s possible. 

MADDOW:  As the mayor of the largest city in New Jersey, though - I

mean, the thing that‘s sort of looming here, and people around the country

looking at you right now saying, “Oh, he seems quite together and he‘s

getting some results, seems like an interesting young politician.”

The thing that makes people feel like things can‘t be done

through government is not just that we‘re sedentary in our agitation, it‘s

that five of the last seven mayors of Newark were criminally indicted. 

I mean, public corruption, in terms of urban politics, it‘s the

kind of thing that we put out State Department reports for other countries


BOOKER:  Right. 

MADDOW:  Why has it been so bad, and what will stop it? 

BOOKER:  Well, at the end of the day, you‘re going to get government

you deserve.  This ultimately is a democracy.  And what people often do is

they get so fed up with politics that they seed the field and say, “I‘m not

even going to get involved.” 

And we have just chronically low turnouts in urban areas.  And so

really, my challenge to people is if you really want to make a difference,

if you want change, you‘ve got to be the one that makes it. 

And you have a choice in life.  You and I both do it.  Every

morning of your life, you have a choice to accept conditions as they are or

take responsibility for changing them. 

If you‘re not willing to take responsibility for changing

government, for changing crime and violence, for changing education and

just continue going about doing what you do, then you deserve the results

we have. 

But if you‘re one of those people like the great Americans who

literally, you know, bled this soil red for us, who put sacrifices for

workers‘ rights, for women‘s rights, for civil rights, if you want to

continue not just being a person who drinks deeply from wells of freedom

that you didn‘t dig, but to prove worthy of that by getting involved, then

you can change this country. 

It is so possible.  That‘s what we‘re trying to say to folks. 

And we celebrate those individual heroes of hope in our city that are doing

that every single day.  We haven‘t changed Newark because of a mayor. 

We‘ve changed Newark because of a lot of people coming together to do the

things people don‘t normally do.  And that‘s why we‘re getting the results

that people don‘t normally get. 

MADDOW:  Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, celebrating public

safety milestone, hopefully one of many. 

BOOKER:  Thank you.  Thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  It‘s great to see you, Cory.  Always good to see you. 

BOOKER:  All right. 

MADDOW:  There is conflict to report between the U.S. Navy and high

seas pirates.  Pirates - there‘s an old saying about tugging on Superman‘s

cape and all the reasons you don‘t do it. 

And later, a mudslide of new ethics investigations dogs the

congressman and senators who live at C Street in Washington.  That is

coming up. 

But first, one more thing.  For all the very serious news there

is in Cory Booker‘s life and the seriousness with which he takes his job as

mayor of Newark, can I show you the single best Cory Booker tweet of the


Here it is, “Forgive me but a bit of Passover humor.  Question,

what do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction? 

Answer, a matzochist.” 

Cory Booker, for a good reason, is a widely admired politician. 

I‘ve known him for many, many years.  So I can also tell you in no

uncertain terms that he is also a giant goober.  And I mean that in the

best possible way. 

BOOKER:  Proud to be one. 

MADDOW:  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  Coming up on - coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith looks at the

hedge fund managers making billions of dollars on the backs of the bailout. 

And on this show, the RNC‘s week started with an embarrassing

bondage nightclub scandal.  Turns out that was the highlight of their week. 

Details ahead. 

But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. 

Imagine you‘re a Somali pirate, a pirate from Somalia.  Your M.O. is that

you attack ships.  You try to take them over.  You hold the ships for


Generally, we‘re talking tankers and cargo ships.  We‘re thinking

bigger the ship, bigger the likely ransom, right?  Last night, at about

midnight, a group of three Somali pirates in a small boat saw a really big

boat on the horizon.  They couldn‘t quite make out what it was.  It was

midnight after all, but they decided let‘s take a crack at it. 

And oh, it turns out the boat they went after was a U.S. Navy

guided missile frigate, the USS Nicholas.  Couldn‘t see.  It was dark. 

This all happened west of the Seychelles, a group of islands way, way, way,

way off the coast of Somalia. 

The USS Nicholas had been tracking the pirates.  They returned

fire after the pirates fired on them.  Sailors from the Nicholas then

boarded the pirates‘ skiff.  They arrested the three pirates.  They sunk

pirate ship.  They located the pirate‘s mother ship nearby which had

another two pirates onboard. 

U.S. sailors arrested those other pirates, too.  They took the

mother ship into custody, and that whole “it‘s not just a job, it‘s an

adventure” thing, turns out that‘s exactly accurate about the Navy. 

So no one was injured.  The pirates have learned a do not mess

with the U.S. Navy lesson, again.  And now, the issue at hand is that the

USS Nicholas has five pirates on board - on board right now in boat jail. 

I‘m sure there‘s a better name for that than boat jail.  I‘m sure

there‘s some awesome naval term.  I just couldn‘t figure out what it was. 

The last Somali pirate we took into custody is on trial in New

York.  Others have been sent to Kenya to face trial in the past.  Even

though the pirates are Somali, they can‘t really be sent to Somalia because

Somalia hasn‘t had a functioning government for 19 years.  So for now, at

least while the USS Nicholas is still at sea, boat jail it is. 

Also the greatest lost and found story since “Homeward Bound”

came to an end today.  On January 1st, 1804, the great nation Haiti

declared its independence from France.  This bold proclamation was

delivered as a speech by Haiti‘s revolutionary leader. 

This speech was printed as an eight-page pamphlet.  And then, in

a very sad twist of fate, every known copy of it disappeared.  For the next

200 years, the Haitian Declaration of Independence was reprinted in

newspapers and in handwritten duplicates.  But the actual document itself,

the actual, original eight-page pamphlet, the physical representation of

Haitian independence was lost. 

This year, in February, about a month after Haiti was devastated

by the earthquake there that killed hundreds of thousands of people, a 26-

year-old Duke University grad student was combing through Britain‘s

National Archives. 

The student‘s name is Julia Gaffield.  She was at the archives

following a lead she picked up in Jamaica.  The lead panned out.  And

there, in the middle of a book of Jamaican records, was a yellowed eight-

page pamphlet.  The eight-page pamphlet.  Haiti‘s original declaration of


It was originally made into pamphlet form so it could be sent

out, sent out around the world so people everywhere could see why

colonialism just was not cutting it for the Haitians. 

We have posted a link to it at the Maddow blog today so you can

see it.  It is actually a really amazing thing, even if you don‘t speak

French.  You know, the United States is the oldest independent nation in

the western hemisphere.  Haiti is a very close second. 

They say at the very top of the declaration of independence

“liberte ou la mort.”  For us, it‘s “Give me liberty or give me death.”  Us

and Haiti, we‘re like this.  We always have been.


MADDOW:  I feel a little awkward bringing this up.  But I feel I have

to say thank you.  On the occasion of my birthday today, fans of the show

organized to get people on twitter to post my name, the little hash tag

symbol and then Maddow, to post it often enough online that my name would

get listed as a trending topic on Twitter.

So people did that all day long today and it worked.  At one

time, I was right there under what a fool, hash tag “what a fool” for April

Fool‘s Day. 

I did not organize this in any way.  It was a nice thing that

people who watch the show did for me and the show.  And I just want to say

thank you.  You guys are very, very nice people.  It was very nice.  Thank


My offering to thank you is Kent.  Modeling the new “not running

for Senate against Scott Brown” t-shirt which I got as a present from our

great cameraman Michael Young today.  Not available in stores.  Thank you,

Kent.  We‘ll be right back.


MADDOW:  So it‘s only Thursday.  Still one more day until the weekend. 

But this has already turned out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very

bad week for anyone associated with C Street, the lavish 12-bedroom, nine

bathroom town house in D.C. run by the secretive religious group known as

The Family, which is home to a number of members of Congress. 

Today, the “New York Times” published new details about Sen. John

Ensign, a former C Street resident and who was allegedly trying to pay off

his mistress by securing a job for her husband. 

These details come from a federal criminal inquiry now that‘s

underway into Mr. Ensign‘s actions.  The latest twist involves Sen. Ensign

changing his earlier story about his involvement with a Nevada company that

has been subpoenaed in his case. 

That, however, is not the only investigation problem Mr. Ensign and

his fellow C Streeters have on their hands right now.  Now, you may recall

that on Tuesday night, on this program, we talked about a complaint filed

with the IRS that members of Congress who lived at C Street may have

committed tax violations if they didn‘t disclose that their rent was

subsidized by The Family while they lived at C Street. 

When we reported that on Tuesday, we told you this was a

developing story.  We were not kidding.  Today came yet another call for an

investigation into the allegedly subsidized rent at C Street.  The ethics

watchdog group, CREW - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

- CREW filed their own complaint with Senate Ethics Committee and the

Office of Congressional Ethics over whether this allegedly subsidized rent

violated the gift rules that govern members of Congress. 

These Congressmen were reportedly paying way below market value

rent to live in pretty posh digs.  CREW writes, quote, “Few Americans are

lucky enough to have landlords who accept below-market rent while also

offering housekeeping and meal service.  One cannot help but wonder exactly

what the congressmen have done for C Street Center, Inc. in return for this

largesse.  This, of course, is the reason for the congressional gift

prohibition in the first place.”

Since our reporting of those allegations on Tuesday, we have been

contacted by a Capitol Hill source who wanted us to identify him as a

person close to C Street.  This Capitol Hill source told us, quote, “Your

reporting will have more credibility if you ask these questions of 535

members of Congress and remove the religious and political bias behind your


I appreciate the anonymous shot across the bow, brave, anonymous

Capitol Hill C Street source.  But the way this is heating up, you probably

are going want to have something better than that. 

The allegations against C Street residents are bipartisan.  We

have been asking the same questions to the Democrats and to the Republicans

who lived there. 

There‘s not political bias here at all.  And while there‘s no

religious bias involved here either, this is to some extent a story about

religion.  It‘s about a secretive religious organization operating a

boarding house for members of Congress which it calls a church and then

using that fake church tax status to subsidize these congressmen‘s rent and

keep it secret.

If there are other members of Congress living in fake churches

receiving subsidized rent, we would love to know them, too.  Really, we‘re

all ears.  But so far, it‘s all C Street. 

Earlier this week, we contacted every current member of Congress we

know of who either lives at C Street or has reportedly lived there in the

past.  So far, only two of these members of Congress have gotten back to

us, Congressman Mike Doyle and Sen. Tom Coburn. 

And while the other members of Congress might want to ignore our

questions about this, they should probably know that constituents in their

own states and districts are starting to take notice. 

Here‘s just a sampling of headlines just from today, “Brownback

named in complaint about C Street House.”  “Ethics complaint filed against

C Street; names DeMint.”  “John Ensign faces ethics complaint over

apartment rent rate.”  Now, this one - “Ethics watchdog files complaint

against Stupak.”  Oh, here‘s another, “Ethics watchdog group files

complaint against Wamp and Shuler over C Street rent.” 

So these members of Congress can feel free, of course, to dodge

our questions as long as they want to.  But it may not be just us asking

these questions for too much longer. 


MADDOW:  So earlier this year, the Republican National Committee put

me on their mailing list for some reason.  They sent me one of those

fundraising letters they did that was a fake census form. 

Receiving that made me think a lot of things, but it mostly made

me wonder about the RNC‘s much-touted micro-targeting program for their

mailing list.  It turns out their wildly bad aim for their mailing list

targets - me, really, guys?  It turns out that I was the least of their

problems.  We turn now to our RNC face plant correspondent, Kent Jones. 

Hi, Kent. 

KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  You know, it wasn‘t just the C

Streeters that had a bad week.  Michael Steele and the Republican National

Committee also had their worst week ever this week. 

MADDOW:  Yes, yes. 

JONES:  They should cut their losses and take tomorrow off.  Take a



(voice-over):  It started at Voyeur, the super-classy bondage bar

where we learned that the RNC dropped nearly $2,000 for a Young Eagles

party.  Welcome back, fiscal conservatism. 

Then, Sarah Palin said she won‘t be attending an upcoming RNC

fundraiser in New Orleans even though she is listed as an invited speaker. 

Sarah‘s team has twice asked the RNC to take her name off the list.  RNC, I

think you‘ve been un-friended. 

Then, there‘s American Crossroads, a new and rival group founded

by former Republican officials that are hoping to elect GOP candidates this

fall with money siphoned from potential RNC donors. 

Possible slogan, “Give us your money.  We won‘t buy table

dances.”  And the super-conservative Family Research Council is also

bailing on team Steele.  Said honcho Tony Perkins, quote, “I‘ve hinted at

this before, but now I am saying it.  Don‘t give money to the RNC.” 

Wow.  I‘ve never seen Tony Perkins so mad at people who weren‘t

gay.  Then, there‘s the awkward fiscal mess surrounding Michael Steele‘s

co-chair.  Records show that a consulting headed by the co-chair‘s daughter

had received $13,000 in RNC money for speechwriting over the last six

months.  The topic of today‘s speech is nepotism.

And finally, when the RNC does manage to get out a fundraising

letter, the toll-free number listed leads you to this message. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey there, sexy guy.  Welcome to an exciting new

way to go live, one on one with hot, horny girls, waiting right now to talk

to you.

JONES:  Mr. Steele, look at it this way.  At least someone is waiting

to talk to you.


MADDOW:  You know, the RNC, after that came out today - they said -

they put out a response to it.

JONES:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  Like, oh, this is how things are going to be debunked.  Now,

the response to the co-chair‘s daughter getting the speechwriting money -

JONES:  What?

MADDOW:  Was that the speechwriting was not for Michael Steele‘s

personal speeches that he‘s been doing on the side for his moonlighting on

top of his RNC gig. 

JONES:  Oh, yes.

MADDOW:  They want to clear that out. 

JONES:  Whew!

MADDOW:  Yes. 

JONES:  Wow.

MADDOW:  He‘s scot-free now. 

JONES:  Oh, brother. 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much, Kent.  I appreciate it.  That does it

for us tonight.  We‘ll see you again tomorrow night.  “COUNTDOWN” with

Keith Olbermann starts right now. 




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