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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, December 23, 2011

Read the transcript to the Friday show

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Hi. Merry Christmas, happy Friday. And thanks
for being with us.

Usually at the end of the year, you have to practice saying the name
of the New Year, right? Because it`s unfamiliar. You write the wrong year
on your checks.

In our 21st century, there is an awkwardness about whether you say
2,000 and something or 20-something. There is a weirdness about the year
switching over, usually.

Not this year. This year I can`t believe it`s not already 2012 given
the number of times I say the word 2012 every day.

The voting in the 2012 presidential race starts in a week and a half
at the Iowa caucuses. To be followed in very quick succession by New
Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada and Florida and so on.

The Republican Party picking its nominee to run against President
Obama is a huge story and it is a huge deal for the country. I think it is
basically worth all the blanket coverage that it gets.

That said, I don`t think even the forward looking national 2012
obsession in news about politics this year means that 2012 race is the most
important thing going on in American politics this year.

The most important politics in America in 2011 are not just the setup
for next year`s presidential race. I think they`re about the consequences
of the last election. They`re about governing. They`re about governing
and discontents.

In the midterm election in November 2010, the Republicans basically
ran the table. They not only won control of the House of the
Representatives in Washington, they rally run the table in the states.
Governorships, state legislatures, whole state legislatures -- and as that
red tide of state legislators and state officials were sworn in in January
of this year, the story of 2011 politics began -- the story of 2011
politics really became the way that they governed in the states, because
they had a really big idea about that.

If Congress under Republican control is where policy goes to die now,
the states under Republican control are where policy goes to let its free
flag fly.

A lot of these new Republican governors in particular have been
reading from the same playbook all year long. And the policies that they
have all been instituting, they`re all very similar, have sparked a really
big backlash, a big backlash that showed the country a whole new, whole
different side of what it means to have an energized Democratic base.

Elections have consequences.


MADDOW: On Friday, Governor Walker said he was refusing to negotiate
with anybody who worked for the state. No negotiations. Instead, he would
direct the Republican-controlled legislature to pass by fiat this week his
new budget that goes after the benefits and bargaining rights of people who
work for the state.

So not only he would not negotiate with people on this, he will never
negotiate with them again. He will remove their right to collectively
bargain in essence.

While shocked by the radicalness of proposal and how fast he is trying
to jam it through, state workers in Wisconsin proved they are not going to
take this lying down. Look at this. An estimated 30,000 people protested
in the state capital of Madison today -- 30,000 people.

This is an existential a fight for the Democratic Party. That`s why
Wisconsin looks the way it does right now. That`s why the streets of
Madison were shut down to traffic today, because of the sheer number of
people who turned out. That`s why people slept in the capital rotunda

That`s why the state legislature looked like this today -- Democratic
legislators wearing orange t-shirts that read "Assembly Democrats working
for fighting families."

And that`s why 14 Democratic state senators in Washington went AWOL
today. They refused to turn up for the anti-union vote scheduled in the
state Senate today. Right around noon, the Democrats disappeared.

In their absence, the Republicans could note get a quorum and
therefore they were unable to hold the big anti-union vote which they plan
to hold today and plan to win. To avoid the threat of being forcibly
returned to the state capital, Democratic senators did not just not turn up
at the state legislature today, they fled the state.

Joining us now is a Democratic Wisconsin state senator named Jon
Erpenbach. He joins us now from a reportedly secure but alas undisclosed

dismantling some of the best parts about the state of Wisconsin.

Our public employees, they plow our roads, they clean our streets.
They are teachers. They are prison guards. They are the people who run
our great state parks.

And you`re saying to them, what you do doesn`t really matter. Not
only do we want you to pay your fair share, which they`re more than willing
to do, we want to bust your union. And that tears at the very fabric of
the state of Wisconsin and it`s not the right way to go.

MADDOW: Last night, in the blink of an eye, Republicans in the
Wisconsin Senate wiped away most union rights from most of the state`s
public employees. Today, Republicans in the state assembly did the same
over the loud and vocal protests of those who have gathered outside the
chamber, as well as the Democratic representatives inside the chamber.

Republican Governor Scott Walker has pledged to sign it into law as
soon as possible.

Recall petitions have been filed against six Republican state senators
now. If only three of those succeed, this fight will have turned the state
Senate in the middle of the perm from Republican-controlled back to
Democratic-controlled. Six incumbent Republican state senators face re-
election and the backlash against those Republicans who supported
Republican Governor Scott Walker stripping of union rights in Wisconsin.

Two Democrats did unseat the Republicans they targeted yesterday.
Jennifer Shilling beat Republican incumbent Dan Kapanke, 55 to 44; and
Jessica King defeated Randy Hopper, 51 percent to 49 percent.

Jessica King`s rally as you can see here captured the spirit of a lot
of happy Democrats in the state last night. They were pumped up. They
recalled two Republican senators from office, thus reducing the Republican
majority in Wisconsin Senate down to one.

That said, had Democrats prevailed in just one more race, they
wouldn`t have just narrowed the Republican`s majority, Democrats would have
been in control of the state Senate. They didn`t get that.

So, bottom line, Republicans were delighted they didn`t lose control
of the Senate. Democrats were disappointed they did not win that. But
Democrats are happy that they picked off two Republican senators and they
are happy that the margin in the Senate is at least down for now down to
one Republican vote.

But also, Democrats say today that they are happy with what last
night`s numbers might mean for a planned effort next year.

"Recall Walker," they are saying. Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Folks celebrating at Jessica King`s rally didn`t wait a day to turn the
focus to their next target, Governor Walker.

Chair of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin confirmed today that he`d
like to begin the process of recalling the governor, quote, "as soon as is

The governor can`t be recalled until he`s been in office a full year.
That requirement will be met this coming January.

A new poll out this week on Governor Walker`s prospect shows that 58
percent of Wisconsinites want him to be recalled from office. That`s not
good for him.

Today in Ohio, the Senate there voted Wisconsin style to strip union
rights. The measure passed 17 to 16, even though six Republicans jumped
ship and voted with Democrats to protect the unions.

In Ohio, Democrats couldn`t block up quorum. So, they didn`t have the
option that Wisconsin Democrats had of stopping the bill by leaving the

The Ohio union-stripping measure heads over to the assembly now where
Republicans will probably pass there, too. That said, the protests in the
streets in Ohio and the wild unpopularity of what Republicans are doing and
the Republican defections on this do not make passage a sure thing. If it
does pass, Democrats say they will get it repealed by a public vote this

This is Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican freshman governor just
elected in November. After Governor Kasich signed SB5, people who support
union rights in Ohio started collecting signatures to put it on the ballot
for a citizens repeal. Last month, they delivered box after box after box
of petitions.

Today, the Ohio secretary of state announced that over 900,000 of
those signatures are valid. That`s nearly four times the amount needed to
qualify the referendum. This means that there will be a referendum. It`s
going to be on the ballot. The vote happens in November.

In Ohio, the most high profile race in the country, the bid to recall
the Republican union-stripping law there, it lost by 22 points, a blowout.
All those polls predicting an impossibly high margin of victory for the
pro-union right side in Ohio, those impossible margin of victory polls
turned out to be exactly accurate.

The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York have been going on for 12
days now. Most of the media attention they have received thus far has been
because of violent and rather outrageous police tactics used against the

Btu the reason this movement is growing and in fact spreading to other
American cities now is not because of some message about police tactics
toward protesters. That is not the larger point. The larger point is the
basic message, the basic point about who caused the mess the country is in
right now.

Who has figured out how to benefit from it? And who is stopping us
from fixing it?

Police this weekend arrested hundreds of Occupy Wall Street marchers
on the Brooklyn Bridge. Hundreds of people arrested. Occupy Wall Street
now showing signs of becoming occupy everywhere in America. Occupy Boston,
Occupy Chicago, Occupy Portland, Maine, Occupy Seattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a fantastic, beautiful, bountiful land
that is hopelessly in debt. What happened? You know, what happened?

MADDOW: The idea of the occupy protest is that people stay. That`s
the occupy party of it, right? You don`t go anywhere. Like Hoovervilles,
these are supposed to be semi-permanent living reminders of what`s wrong
with the economy and the political system.

The permanence is part of the pressure. And city officials around the
country are not handling this well at all. In Oakland, California, police
cleared out protesters from their downtown encampment early Tuesday

Later in the day when protesters returned to reclaim their space, the
police response in Oakland was fast moving, loud, and ultimately violent.
It involved tear gas and shooting at the protesters with nonlethal

Today, thousands of Oakland residents took to the streets for what
were reportedly by local press calling these things the largest
demonstration in the East Bay since the days of the Vietnam War.

Today in New York City, very, very early this morning, really in the
middle of the night, New York City police raided and tore down and cleared
out the Occupy Wall Street encampment that has been at Zuccotti Park in
lower Manhattan for nearly two months. The raid happened at 1:00 a.m.

Most of the protesters were there asleep. New York City police
officers dressed in riot gear handed out a written notice to the protesters
telling them where their personal articles from the encampment could be
retrieved, which sounds lovely until you saw what they were doing to the
protesters` personal belongings. There were reports that police used
knives to cut up the sturdy military grade tents that were the best hope of
surviving winter down there.

You can see the police here cutting down the protesters tent polls
with handheld saws, with Sawzalls.

This is a massive police action. There were 200 arrests this morning.
Zuccotti Park was totally cleared.

I`m going to put my tent right back up. We show them that we`re not just
words on the Internet screen. We are people. And we are willing to put
ourselves in pain and misery to get our point across.


MADDOW: There`s no reason to believe that the mats protests in the
Midwest against Republican governors and Republican legislators and laws
stripping union rights, there`s no reason to believe that those led to the
Occupy movement. These things emerged in different parts of the country
with different goals, different tactics. It`s different people.

But if you want to understand the politics of 2011 overall, it is
Republican governance in the states sparking huge backlash in the streets.
And it`s the streets all over the country coming alive with a dissatisfied,
energized, creative message from the left.

We`ll have more on that ahead.


MADDOW: Very rarely in the TV news business are you force to hide the
identity of someone you are interviewing. Very, very, very rarely are you
follow the arc of that story long enough that after you`ve done an
interview with somebody in disguise, the world changes enough that it
becomes safe for that person you had to show in silhouette to reveal who
they are, to show their face. It turns out this has been one of those
very, very rare times. That`s coming up next.


MADDOW: It was this time last year that we first knew it would
happen, that after all of the impossible politics of it and all of the
stalling tactics from the other side and all the studies and after many,
many, many disguise falling pronouncements from one Senator John McCain of
Arizona, it was this time last year it became clear that President Obama
was going to be able to make good on his campaign promise -- his campaign
promise to end the Clinton era anti-gay law "don`t ask, don`t tell."

And then it was one minute past midnight on September 20th this year
that it ended.


MADDOW: Today`s day one of the United States military after "don`t
ask, don`t tell." In the run-up to repeal day to day, an 88-year-old World
War II veteran spoke at a ceremony marking the policies repeal in Georgia.
Today, just hours after the repeal became effective, two active duty
service members spoke out about being gay in the military during a press
conference with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in Washington.

Last night in San Diego, servicemembers and their supporters
celebrated the repeal as it happened, as it took effect.

Tens of thousands of gay people have been serving in the United States
military during this whole debate while the policy has existed. Now that
the policy has gone, they can make their own decision about whether or not
and how to say who they are.

It can no longer be used against them.

Why it is worth it to you to take the risk to speak out like this and
to do the work that you have done without serving?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think why it`s important for me is that at some
point while you`re serving under the military and under this policy, you
see some of atrocities that occurred to people across the world, including
myself who is blackmail, that at some point, you have to see there is
something larger than yourself out there and you have to take these risks
to do something like this to help others and create the change that`s need.

MADDOW: I did that interview last year with an Air Force lieutenant
using a pseudonym. And you can see there, pictured only in silhouette.
I`ve only done a few rare interviews like that in my life.

That Air Force had been blackmailed for being gay as a young officer.
He started the underground network of active duty U.S. military personnel
called OutServe. His pseudonym was J.D. Smith.

Joining us now live from Washington, D.C., at a party hosted by the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the very first time not in
silhouette is United States Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried who
will never again have to be known as J.D. Smith. Lt. Seefried is the
founder of OutServe and author of "Our Time: Breaking the Silence of `Don`t
Ask, Don`t Tell`."

Also joining us is newly retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Victor
Fehrenbach who came out nationally on this program. He fought his
discharge under "don`t ask, don`t tell" and won -- as he saw the policy
crumbled this year.

Gentlemen, I have to say, congratulations. Thank you both so much for
joining us tonight.

Lieutenant Seefried, formally known as J.D. Smith on this program, let
me start with you. How has it felt to you personally to be able to say who
you are, to have spent this first 24 hours in the new military?

FIRST LT. JOSH SEEFRIED, U.S. AIR FORCE: It feels like a huge burden
has been lifted off your shoulders. I mean, there`s not a single day that
you cannot think about this policy while serving in the military. And
knowing today that there`s a career I have an opportunity to have where I
don`t have to be scared of who I am and who I love, that I can be part of
the military family and I`m so excited about it. And I think every other
gay person in the military feels the exact same way.

MADDOW: Victor, are you -- are you anticipating that there are going
to be problems with implementation of repeal? The military has been very
firm, the Pentagon has been very firm in saying there are not going to be
problems. We are prepared, we are trained, we are ready for this.

Having been in the Air Force for 20 years and seeing what you`ve seen,
most of that time not being a man who people knew was gay, do you think
there`s going to be trouble?

be isolated cases. I think the way this was done -- I was obviously the
most impatient man in the world having this threat of discharge hang over
me for the last three years and four months.

But what I learned from that in the last two years, again, I`ve been
able to serve openly. I shouldn`t be surprised by this. But, you know,
the military people are professional, they`re disciplined, they`re
dedicated to the mission. And that`s all they care about.

So, there may be isolated cases. But across the board, we took our
time, we got everybody trained. And I think people have been expecting
this for the last 10 months or so. So, I think we`re ready. And I think
those cases will be very isolated.

MADDOW: First Lieutenant Josh Seefried, Lieutenant Colonel Victor
Fehrenbach, I want to thank you both for your activism, for speaking up,
the bravery it took. Thanks for joining us tonight.

I sense the cost of that viscerally because I know there`s an open bar
there and you are both in the mood to celebrate. So, I release you both.
Congratulations, you guys. Have a great night.

SEEFRIED: Thanks, Rachel. Cheers to you.

FEHRENBACH: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks to you both.


MADDOW: The Republican candidate`s for president this year made some
noises about reinstating "don`t ask, don`t tell" if they`re elected
president. Meanwhile, in the military, even military leaders who
criticized the idea of scrapping the policy before we did it, people like
the Marine Corps commandant, now say, now that the policy is gone, that
getting rid of it has caused no problems at all.

The Marine Corps ball this year included some same sex couples this
year. The sky did not fall. When this Navy ship came home this week to
Virginia from being deployed, the first sailor ashore, the coveted first
kiss upon returning home was this female sailor greeted by her partner who
is also a female sailor.

Guys like Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum is saying they would force
everyone in the military back into the closet if they were elected
president -- at this point, I kind to like to see them try.


MADDOW: In a year filled with radical Republican politics in the
states, the multistate attack on union rights, biggest roll back of
abortion rights in the state since Roe versus Wade, supposed small
government conservatives mandating hair and urine samples to test citizens
for drugs even if those citizens were not suspected of using drugs.

In a year filled with radical Republican politics in the states
though, my vote for the single most radical thing that happened in American
politics anywhere was what happened in the state of Michigan where
Republican legislators and newly elected Republican Governor Rick Snyder
took an existing Michigan law concerning something called emergency
managers. They took that existing law and they dramatically changed it.
They changed it into a way to override local democracy.

Michigan Republicans gave their governor the right to void local
elections, to overrule what people vote for in their cities and towns in
Michigan. It`s democracy begone. Before this happened this year, I never
thought somebody could get away with this in the United States of America.


MADDOW: One of the signature policies of Governor Snyder has been his
emergency manager law, whereby his state government can just declare any
town or school district to be in an emergency situation and the state can
install somebody to replace all locally elected officials.

Under Rick Snyder`s law, his state government can even just abolish
whole Michigan towns, take them over and declare them no more. It doesn`t
matter who you elected to run your town, who you elected for mayor.
Governor Snyder reserves the right to take it over.

The first town to feel the tender ministrations of Governor Snyder`s
new law is little Benton Harbor, one of the poorest towns of the state.

And yes, despite the Rust Belt decline that has defined life in Benton
Harbor for decades, Benton Harbor is also home to the global headquarters
for Whirlpool Appliances.

Among the heirs to the Whirlpool Appliance`s fortune is Benton
Harbor`s Republican Congressman Fred Upton. A former Fred Upton staffer,
Republican State Rep. Al Pscholka, he represents Benton Harbor in the state
house. So, he`s the person who introduced the emergency state takeover
bill that Governor Rick Snyder signed.

This is their ceremonial reenacting of the signing there.

Until last year, Mr. Pscholka served on the board of directors for a
nonprofit that wants to build a half billion dollar, 530-acre lake front
Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and luxury real estate development that
would span both relatively wealthy St. Joseph and poor little Benton Harbor
-- a development that eats the one collective asset that Benton Harbor had,
Benton Harbor`s beautiful beach front park. It would turn it into a place
where caddies carry bags for Whirlpool executives and rich folks that drive
in from Chicago for a weekend at their new luxurious signature home.

I don`t know what a signature home is, but they`re very expensive and
they`re part of the whole golf course deal.

Benton Harbor`s park, Jean Klock Park, was deeded as a gift to the
town. One of the poorest towns in Michigan. It was deeded to the town in
perpetuity in 1917 -- perpetuity I guess is not as long as it used to be
because now, Benton Harbor residents are looking at a golf course where the
cost of an annual pass for a family to play there is $5,000. $5,000 is
half the average annual income of actual families living in Benton harbor.

This golf course development thing is not for them. And neither
apparently is democratic local go. On Friday, Benton Harbor`s new state-
appointed emergency overseer Joe Harris issued an executive order that
restricted the mayor and the city commissioners to three duties -- they can
call a meeting, they can approve the meeting minutes, and they can adjourn
the meeting. Three things that elected officials of Benton Harbor are now
allowed to do. That`s it.


is city manager is now gone. I am the city manager. I replaced the
finance director. So I`m finance director and city manager. I am mayor
the and commissioner, and I don`t need them.


MADDOW: Benton Harbor`s emergency manager unilateral authority guy
told the local TV station this week in Michigan that people of Benton
Harbor probably love that their local officials have been replaced by him.
He said although he hasn`t polled anyone, he bets the people in Benton
Harbor see him as an angel of common sense.

Is that true? Does Benton Harbor love their new autocrat instead of
their old democracy? Despite this week`s protest, is that accurate? Is
that true?

It does not matter! Remember, they don`t know you`re going to say in
anything about their town. Benton Harbor residents voted this week on
Tuesday. They voted down all seven of the ballot measures that this
emergency overseer guy unilaterally designed to put on the ballot.
According to the residents` votes, Benton Harbor elected a new mayor and
some new counselors.

But, of course, the votes are all pretty much mute. They went out and
went through the motions of voting. But thanks to Governor Rick Synder`s
emergency manager law, votes in that part of Michigan just don`t have any
effect anymore.

Local elections are overruled by the state for your own good. So,
hey, Benton Harbor. Thanks for playing. Democracy the game -- the people
you voted for, they`ll take power when and if this emergency overseer from
the state who has unilaterally running your town ever decides to leave.


MADDOW: 2011 is the year when Republicans in the great state of
Michigan decided that small D democracy is a problem in Michigan. It`s not
the way that Michigan solves its problems. Democracy is itself a problem.
It needs to be done away with in the name of efficiency.

What Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature did in
Michigan this year gets my vote for the sing the most radical thing in
American politics this fairly radical year.

That said, the fight back against what happened in Michigan this year
has also been intense. It sin tense and at times it has even verged on
inspiring. That`s coming up.



MADDOW: This is Catherine Ferguson Academy. If you are in high
school in Detroit and you got pregnant or you had a baby -- since 1988,
Catherine Ferguson Academy was designed to keep you in school, to keep you
from dropping out, to get you to graduate, to get you into college. Real
course work, high expectations, plus, help with parenting classes for the
moms and child care and early education for the kids.

Right in the middle of hollowed out inner city part of Detroit,
they`ve got some land and the school has used it to have the girls tend
beehives and take care of animals. That is part of the deal at Catherine
Ferguson, the girls learning to grow food and harvest crops -- learning

The formula seems to have worked. At Catherine Ferguson, they can
brag on their graduation rate and their college acceptance rate. There is
almost no place like Catherine Ferguson Academy in the entire country.


NIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want everybody to have the same opportunity
that I had. I got out of here. I want you to graduate the same way I did.
I got two kids. You can make it with one, two, or how many you got.

They`re going to make it happen. Ms. Andrews can make it happen.


MADDOW: Last month, the new Republican governor, Rick Snyder, signed
a new emergency measure law which you could call emergency manager on
steroids. Or if you really don`t like it, you could call it financial
martial law. This new bill contains more than a dozen new triggers for
getting put under emergency rule. And it gives an emergency overseer in a
town or school district, it gives that overseer astounding amounts of new

The Detroit schools manager told "The Detroit News" He was frustrated
under the old manager law. Detroit was still allowed to have an elected
school board, and those locally elected officials did not always want what
he wanted which he found frustrating. The new law passed by Republican
Governor Rick Snyder, though, would do away with that complication.

Before the new law went into effect, the school`s emergency manager
said he wanted to close Catherine Ferguson Academy. It was slated for
closure last year as part of Detroit Public School`s emergency financial
manager Robert Bobb`s plan to downsize the school system but protests from
students and community members kept it open.

Manager wanted to shut down the city`s special school for girls who
were pregnant or who had kids. But protests from students and community
members kept it open.

Now, with expanded unilateral power, all teachers in the Detroit
schools just got layoff notices from this person and the girls at Catherine
Ferguson Academy just found out that their school is put on this list.
Look -- closures or charters with a big asterisk on it.

The asterisk means, quote, "proposals will be requested to operate the
schools as charters. If an acceptable proposal is not submitted for a
school then it will be closed during the summer of 2011."

The girls got the news about what was going to happen to Catherine
Ferguson Academy. They went to their school, they gathered inside. They
made a collective decision to say this is our place and we`re staying. And
then, of course this is what happened next.


MADDOW: The police turned on the sirens for their police cars to
drown out the girls` voices while they were getting handcuffed and arrested
for refusing to leave their school, at least one teacher was arrested
alongside them.

All week, we have been expecting today to be the Catherine Ferguson
Academy`s last day ever. That was what the emergency manager had ordered.
The principal, Asenath Andrews, had been told to say goodbye to the
students today, to hand in her keys to the school tomorrow, on Friday.

There was to be a protest at noon today at the school. The actor
Danny Glover was expected to be there, as well as lots of other people.

Principal Andrews went to bed last night thinking this was it, her
school was done. But early this morning, her phone rang. The emergency
manager wanted to see her for a meeting at 10:45 a.m. Then another call,
meeting changed to 10:00. No, another call, please get down to the
emergency manager`s office right away.

Ms. Andrews said she walked in to find them finishing up a deal to
keep the Catherine Ferguson Academy opened. They asked her if she minded,
and she said no.

The fate of the Catherine Ferguson Academy is in this private
company`s hands now. But this time yesterday, this school was due not to
exist. As of today, Catherine Ferguson Academy has a tomorrow.

Joining us now is Asenath Andrews, the only principal that Catherine
Ferguson Academy has ever known.

Ms. Andrews, thank you for interrupting what I imagine is your
celebration here to be with us tonight.

breathe. Thank you for having us.

MADDOW: Let me just personally say, congratulations. I feel like I
am very invested in you as a principal because of all I have learned about
this school.

Am I right that you had no idea this was coming at all?

ANDREWS: Not at all.

You know, everybody has had some scheme or some way they said they
were going to save us. And I had gotten really excited and then I gotten
deflated. And so I just -- I couldn`t -- I couldn`t imagine that they
would wait so long.

So, I -- my office is packed. Well, sort of packed. And I just
thought I`d be gone, and my girls would be just thrown to wind. So, we are
excited. We`re excited.


MADDOW: Catherine Ferguson Academy still exists for now as a charter
school. And that`s the important fine print here. Charter schools
sometimes work, sometimes they do not. Sometimes they give teachers more
freedom and better pay. Some sometimes they pay less and do less.

Teachers with Detroit public schools are union. Teachers with the new
company there are not union. But Catherine Ferguson Academy is open
because the girl and the teachers and the principal and the community of
supporters of Catherine Ferguson fought to make that so.

We`re just on a personal note, I have to tell when you we aired that
story, a particularly -- the part of the story of those girls getting
arrested trying to keep their school open -- I mean, I get feedback from
people I know who watch the show all the time. But that was the only time
the feedback after watching one of our shows from a lot of people that I
know was them asking me how to get there, how to physically go there
because they wanted to go help.

We`ve got more ahead. We`ve got more ahead, including what happens
when you mix me and the daughter of a Republican senator and a whole lot of
guns and Pittsburgh all together. That`s coming up.



MEGHAN MCCAIN, MCCAINBLOGETTE.COM: I don`t own any assault rifles and
I had friends that (INAUDIBLE) them. It`s just unnecessary to have.

MADDOW: We agree on a lot of this. We totally agree on a lot of
this. And I feel if we can agree on this, then we should probably be able
to make better policy as a country.

MCCAIN: I agree.

MADDOW: Reasonable people can come to this conclusion from totally
different perspectives.

MCCAIN: I agree.

MADDOW: We solved it.


MADDOW: Back in April, Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John
McCain, took me to the NRA convention in Pittsburgh. After that, after
going to the convention, I met up with a councilman from Pittsburgh named
Rick Burgess, who was not at all psyched about his city hosting the NRA and
its 70,000 of its members this year.



RICKY BURGESS: I represent the eastern part of the city of
Pittsburgh. I represent the poorest area of the city of Pittsburgh,
unfortunately, the most crime infected, the most homicides, the most drug-
infested area of Pittsburgh, the lowest economic standards and it is
unfortunately, a very difficult place. It is a place that has been plagued
by violence, by gun violence.

I, myself, my whole life has been the consequence of gun violence. My
aunt was murdered. My mother had a nervous breakdown and for 20 years had
a mental illness that she never recovered from.

My cousins have been shot and killed. My wife`s father was shot. My
wife`s mother, my mother-in-law, was shot and killed, who lived with us.
Her brother killed someone and spent 20 years in the penitentiary. I have
adopted his son and had raised him as my own son. I actually went into the
ministry to kind of figure out this thing.

So, all of my life has been affected with violence. My wife`s cousins
have been shot and killed. I had children of my church shot and killed.

I ran for council, in fact, because I just couldn`t take the shootings

The ease in which you can buy guns in these communities is
frightening. You can buy a gun from a gas station. I mean, why do
individual citizens need AK-47s, M-16s, AR-14s, three and four of them?

You know, there`s no gun manufacturer in the community. These guns
are not made here. They are brought here through purchasers, through gun
shows. It`s turned my community into either a combination of the old Wild
West or a ghost town. It`s killed the businesses. It`s killed the
residential community.

The area I represent has lost almost 75 percent its population since
1968. It`s just been devastating. And almost all of it leads directly or
indirectly to gun violence.

MADDOW: You said you used to play here when you were a kid?

BURGESS: This was my alley a couple blocks down. I learned to play
basketball, football, baseball, you know, track relays right here. This
was for many years the most dangerous places in the city of Pittsburgh.
One of the local record producers called it Klitzberg pistol-vania (ph).

These houses were learned to store guns and to store bodies. What
they did was they put holes because they`re all connected. They put holes
in the walls interconnecting these buildings. So, they could go in one
door here, and if the police were chasing, they would go in this door and
they run down through the holes of the walls and come out further down in
order to escape police.

Bodies were found here, guns were found here, almost any vacant
building, you had a danger of finding guns because that`s where they hide -
- rather than hide them at their house, they hide them in places like this.

It`s one of my great, great, great interests, I have the mayor to
agree, we`re working on tearing this down. This has to come down.

But as you see, it`s, you know, empty lots, vacant lots. And even
being here this way is dangerous.


BURGESS: Even though they`ve concreted some of it, still some of it
you can in -- how you doing baby? You OK? Good to see you. What`s your


BURGESS: Gerarda, good to see you. How you doing?

MADDOW: Do you live around here?

BURGESS: Where do you live?


BURGESS: OK. Well good. On your way home from school?

MADDOW: This is your city councilman.

BURGESS: I`m your city councilman, how are you doing? Good to see

A young girl about her age was shot and killed about five years ago on
the front side of the street on the way home from school. It is dangerous
because there is a school about two blocks that way. But the school was
probably like this.

MADDOW: Seeing her go home through these lots is hard.

BURGESS: It`s hard for me. And I see it every day. I see it
absolutely every day.

MADDOW: What happens to --

BURGESS: And this is a result, make no mistake, this is economics.
These were closed because of gun violence. They got this way because they
were shooting people on these streets every day. This alley was known as
for a while the most dangerous place in the United States, this alley right
here where you`re at.

This was the most dangerous place, highest incidence of homicide right
in this alley in the United States. And so, that`s why this is like this.

MADDOW: And so, people had to move because regardless of what else
was offered or not offered.

BURGESS: Right. They had to go. They just had to go.

MADDOW: And, you know, the only thing I`ve ever seen with this many
houses boarded up is natural disaster. It`s been flooded. It`s you know,
hurricane damage, that sort of thing. But this isn`t natural disaster.

BURGESS: Unnatural.

MADDOW: This is policy disaster.

BURGESS: Right. This is policy. This is gun violence.

This is -- tell the NRA, thank you very much for this gift. This is
what guns have done to my community. And I have more vacant houses, more
empty lots than any other place in the city of Pittsburgh. Oh, there are
5,000 of them.

I can show you house after house after house. I can show you houses
with furniture in them. You could move into them tomorrow.

MADDOW: Why doesn`t the Democratic Party, why don`t people who
represent urban districts have a say in gun debate? The gun debate is
dominated by the NRA, dominated by people who are fundamentalist about gun
rights. Why isn`t the other side surfacing in the gun debate?

BURGESS: I can`t answer that question. I do know here in
Pennsylvania, we are controlled by the Republicans. Our House, our Senate,
and our governor are owned by Republicans. And so, they are not

And the NRA, you know, puts a lot of money in lobbying, a lot of money
in political contributions and they absolutely control our state. And so,
any responsible gun law has not been passed in our state.

And people like me, I think, who speak up, I think hopefully we`re
heard, but I think we don`t have the power in the state in order to make it
happen because in Pennsylvania, we have two major urban centers but a lot
of rural communities represented by rural representatives.

But I challenge them to come here with me. Let me show you my
community. I will show you the victims of gun violence. I`ll show you
what is left and you tell me what good your lobbying has done for my

Tell me what those guns have done in good for my community. I`ll show
you the deaths. I`ll show you the people. I`ll show you the houses. I`ll
show you the abandoned buildings. I`ll show the flight.

You tell me what -- how would good the overwhelming number of guns on
my streets have done to my community. What good has it done for us?

MADDOW: Councilman Ricky Burgess, thank you for this tour and this

BURGESS: Thank you.


MADDOW: Actually getting to see and therefore actually getting to
show you what I saw in Pittsburgh is sadly a little bit unusual for us.
I`d like to get out there more, I have to say. That`s my resolution for

But most of the time on this show, from the confines of this studio,
we instead rely on a whole party bag of tricks to try to illustrate what`s
going on in the world outside these walls. Some of the extremity work
well. Others not so much. Luckily, we have no shame or self-discipline or

And that will be on full display, next.


MADDOW: When we get together as a staff every day to try to figure
out not only what stories to cover in this news hour but how to cover them,
we inevitably end up trying to figure out metaphors, ways to explain what`s
going on through the magic of storytelling, using television and the risk
of humiliation through props to try to make stuff clear. Sometimes, our
visual metaphors work. But looking back over the hundreds of show that is
we did in 2011, more often than not, things end up like this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re getting a rare look at what`s called an
American liberal. The liberal appears to be upset, angry even about plans
to abolish Medicare. We can`t know why. But with this liberal ear
tracking device, we`ll be able to observe any other strange outbursts that
occur in the liberal`s natural habitat.

Senator McCaskill, you are always very welcome to come back on the
show. We`d love to have you. We missed. Until then, as a gesture of
goodwill, we are going to mail you this life-size cutout of Blanche

MADDOW: Want to know what happened today? Ding. Doesn`t look right
without a breeze, I don`t think. Hold on. That`s nice.


MADDOW: This ring tone is Newt Gingrich`s ringtone. It`s "Dancing
Queen" by Abba.

Never raises his voice, but seldom takes "no" for an answer. Not in
it for the balloons. The world needs new, America needs fresh.

Come on, puppy, stay awake, stay with me, puppy. No, up, up, not
down. Wake up, puppy. Come on. It`s going to be up. Come up!

No matter how adorably sleep-inducing Fed monetary policy is, come on
-- there you go, yes.

The percentage drop in the S&P 500 today was, look at the bottom
number there on the right, 6.66 percent. Seriously, 6.66 percent -- 666.
Just in case the numerological gods weren`t with us, it had to be 666.

Dead birds are not the scariest thing to fall out of the sky in

You may be wondering what`s up with really loud cowbell. You know who
rings cowbells besides cows and Will Ferrell? Ski jumping fans.

We are glad to say Michael Wolf (ph) joins us now live -- OK, that`s
not Michael Wolf. You guys, that`s Richard Wolffe.

Do we have Michael Wolf here? Do we have Michael -- no, that`s
Michael Steele. That`s not Michael Wolf.

Do we have Michael Wolf? Do we? Seriously, come on. That is Bill
Wolff in a wolf t-shirt. That is not -- all right, forget it. Forget it.

Meat plus caffeine equals the best new thing in the world today.

Here`s the scene. Where are we? We are on a street. Here, wait.
What was I doing? I was driving a car. What`s that? Person I just ran
over in a crosswalk.

There`s one thing to understand about the case for Rick Perry that is
being made so far and that it looks like will be the basis for his
presidential run, one thing to understand about that -- it`s baloney.

about the fact that I`ve never held public office and criticized that I
don`t know this and I don`t know that, and I don`t know that and I don`t
know this. You know, a leader doesn`t have to know everything.

MADDOW: I don`t think I have to try to prove this anymore. I think
the evidence is overwhelming. Can we just concede that we agree on this?


MADDOW: New Y resolution for 2012, more art projects. Less Herman

Thank you very much for being with us tonight. I hope you have a
merry Christmas and that`s from all of us here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.

Have a great night.


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