Guests: Katherine Eban, Elizabeth Warren
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: That`s great to hear you`re going to have Nancy
Pelosi on tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a huge day, one of those days
we live for in this business.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: No doubt.
MADDOW: Yes. Thanks, man. I`ll see you tomorrow.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Thirteen hours from right this second, we will be reading the most
eagerly anticipated Supreme Court decision since the conservative majority
of the court decided to make George W. Bush the president more than a
At 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, the Supreme Court in its sort of
baroque ceremonial ostentatious way are going to do three things all at
once: they`re going to post the health reform ruling online. They`re going
to hand the document to court reporters that contains the ruling. And
inside the court, they will reportedly read excerpts of their ruling from
the bench. All those happen all at once at 10:00 a.m.
Now, there`s not going to be any cameras in the courtroom, but all of
those things will happen at the same time at 10:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow
And that makes today one of those eve of days in American politics.
On the eve of this big decision, you can sort of tell by what Republicans
and Democrats were doing in getting ready for the decision tomorrow. You
could sort of tell at least in reading the political body language that
Democrats pretty much think they`re going to lose tomorrow and Republicans
pretty much think they`re going to win. At least that`s what it seemed
like today when congressional Democrats held an event at the Capitol this
morning that was essentially their prebuttal of the court`s decision to
Democrats have also begun fund-raising off the court`s as yet to be
announced ruling. The Democratic House Campaign Committee started asking
for donations today to fight for universal health care in the event that
the court strikes down the health reform law tomorrow. So, that was on the
On the Republican side, well, the Republicans sort of picked their
team captains today for who will be speaking for congressional Democrats in
response to the ruling tomorrow. Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris
Rodgers and Congressman Tom Price will be inside the Supreme Court tomorrow
to hear the ruling, which is not the kind of thing I`m sure you plan for if
you think you`re getting bad news. They will then exit the court and leave
the immediately response for them afterwards.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner had previously said there will
be no spiking of the ball if it goes the Republicans` way. We will see how
restrained they can be if that is the case.
At the executive level, the White House went out of its way to say
where the president will be when the decision comes down tomorrow morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You might not be able to answer this, but do you know where
the president will be when he finds out about the decision tomorrow? I
know Jeremy had to find out like everyone else does.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He`ll be in the room in my
CARNEY: We`ll all await the decision and learn of it at the same time
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whether or not Jay Carney was kidding, at least maybe
President Obama is going to be watching the ruling come down on TV in his
press secretary`s office.
Now, as for the Mitt Romney campaign, they are doing a $50,000 a plate
fund-raiser with Donald Trump tomorrow. Seriously. It`s another one of
those win a dinner with Donald and Mitt events. They scheduled that for
health reform ruling day.
Donald Trump announced in a tweet yesterday, quote, "looking forward
to the dine with Mitt and Donald this Thursday," Thursday as in tomorrow.
The Romney campaign for their part is not confirming or denying that
this event is happening even though Donald Trump says it is. Quote,
"Romney spokesman Rick Gorka told the `Associated Press` there would be no
meeting with Donald Trump this week, but the spokesman refused to say
whether Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump would appear together at the Manhattan
So, whether the Romney campaign expects that health reform is going to
be upheld or it`s going to be struck down and millions of Americans are
going to lose their health insurance, either way, it`s strange to think
they thought it would be good messaging to put Mitt Romney with Donald
Trump that day, with the birther guy again. We will see if Mr. Romney
follows through with this planned event tomorrow.
But also tomorrow, and I think it`s not coincidental that it`s
happening tomorrow -- also tomorrow is the day the Republican controlled
House is going to hold a contempt of Congress vote against Eric Holder. A
contempt vote that is based on the conservative conspiracy theory at the
Obama Justice Department conspired to secretly foment gun violence in
Mexico so you would feel bad about gun violence so you wouldn`t feel bad
when they got on with their plan to abolish the Second Amendment and take
away everybody`s guns.
This is the conspiracy theory that has motivated the whole Republican
Fast and Furious attack on Eric Holder. The vote tomorrow is as far as
this thing is ever going to go. There`s not going to be a contempt of
Congress vote that goes against Eric Holder in the Senate, and when the
House recommendation contempt of Congress gets forwarded along so the
attorney general can be prosecuted, it will be this Justice Department that
will decide whether or not to proceed with something like that. So, those
things aren`t going to happen.
This is it. The apex of the whole Fast and Furious thing, the last
thing that is going to happen on this politically is tomorrow. And
Republicans have scheduled that vote for the day everybody knows is going
to be Supreme Court health reform ruling day.
They could have scheduled -- excuse me, I`m going to do that again.
Hold on. Excuse me.
Speaking of conspiracy theories, I`m going to have to cough for about
five minutes. We have to go to break. It`s a conspiracy, I`m sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is there any evident that Fast and Furious was essentially
to promote a longer gun control initiative? What`s the evidence?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I never indicated
that was the case. So, I don`t know whether that`s the case because we
don`t have the documents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Boehner did not have to schedule the Fast and Furious
vote tomorrow on health reform day. He did not have to schedule this vote
to happen on the day it was going to be totally buried by other news. But
if like John Boehner apparently, you do not believe in the conspiracy
theory that the whole Fast and Furious thing is a secret plot to get rid of
the second amendment and take away everyone`s guns, there`s not much to
If John Boehner does not believe in that conspiracy theory, perhaps
it`s not a coincidence he has scheduled the vote on this conspiracy theory
scandal to happen on a day where it will be overshadowed by a much bigger
The conspiracy theory behind Fast and Furious is also getting pushed
back in other quarters on the right as well. Today, the "National Review"
-- which is a hardcore conservative, fairly influential publication on the
right, ran a scathing takedown of the Republicans` Fast and Furious
obsession and the conspiracy theory on which it is based.
Quote, "The theory that Fast and Furious was devised to promote gun
control goes far beyond the evidence and it does not withstand scrutiny.
Chairman Darrell Issa should be ashamed to have dabbled on it and should
fully retract his comments supporting the conspiracy theory, unless has a
considerable amount of evidence that he has not shared with the public."
So even as the speaker of the House is not buying it, even as the
right is getting shy about House Republicans going so far with this
cockamamie idea, frankly, the gun lobby believes it and maybe that`s all
The NRA believes the conspiracy theory. Of course, they do. The gun
lobby wakes up in the morning and yells they`re coming fur our guns before
they open their eyes to see what room they are in and whether they`re still
naked, and it gun lobby being so into this as a conspiracy theory is part
of why the vote is going to be so overwhelming against Eric Holder in the
The NRA does a little report card on every election in the country to
say whether or not the candidates are pro-gun to their satisfaction or not,
and the NRA has decided that this vote against Eric Holder tomorrow on this
conspiracy theory is key to how you get rated by the NRA for re-election
this year. And that is pretty obviously why even a handful of Democrats
today said they would plan to go along with the Republicans on this vote.
They can`t afford have a bad rating from the NRA.
And make no mistake. The NRA rating on this vote is about the
conspiracy theory. That is what they think Fast and Furious is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: An attempt to blame the Second Amendment, blame
American gun owners, and get more gun legislation here in the United
States. I mean, that sounds more like a South American dictatorship than
it does what we expect from our Department of Justice in the United States
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s this sort of cognitive dissonance in the mainstream
media reporting on this because I think Republicans realize their
conspiracy theory about Fast and Furious sounds crazy in mixed company.
And so, as they have tried to mainstream this thing, they have tried to
make it sound like at least some of element of this would-be scandal is not
about the conspiracy theory at all.
They have tried to create a mainstream impression what this could be
about is also the federal government allowing inappropriate gun sales to go
through and that itself is scandalous. It`s about the government not
seizing enough guns from people who are trying to buy guns in this country.
If that were really the scandal here, you really think the NRA would
be all for it? You really think the NRA would be saying, oh, yes, this is
really important to us, that the federal government crack down and block
more gun sales. We insist you vote on that. That would be insane.
This whole scandal and this whole vote tomorrow is about the
conspiracy theory that President Obama purposely wanted there be gun
violence so he could steal your guns. And to the extent that anybody in
the mainstream media politics fell for this latest spin that there was
something other than that motivating all of this, today, that all fell
The effort to mainstream this story involved sidelining the conspiracy
theory and you still have to admit it was egregious and offensive and
stupid for the ATF to be letting these gun sales go ahead.
Why would they purposely allow 2,000 guns to be purchased illegally
and trafficked into Mexico when they could have stopped them? Why did they
stand idly by and watch this illegal guns move when they could have stepped
in? Even if you don`t believe the conspiracy theory, at least you can see
how wrong that is.
That was the non-conspiracy theory part of this would-be scandal. But
today, "Fortune" magazine blew that out of the water. Investigative
reporter Katherine Eban, who is going to be joining us in just a moment,
she reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents. She
interviewed 39 people, including seven law enforcement agents with direct
knowledge of the case and she decimated that very basic part of the Fast
and Furious case, the part about ATF agents supposedly, knowingly allowing
illegal guns to be trafficked into Mexico when they could have stopped
She says, quote, "Quite simply, there`s a fundamental misconception at
the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that straw
purchasers under surveillance by the AFT repeatedly bought guns that
eventually fell into criminal hands. Darrell Issa and others charge that
the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But
five law enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell
`Fortune" that ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully
allowed guns to be trafficked, jus the opposite. They say they seized
weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws
which stymied them at every turn."
So, the strategy was not, let`s allow these guns to flow freely into
Mexico. It was the opposite. It was: let`s monitor these gun sales, let`s
arrest these people buying all of these guns.
But as ATF discovered, there wasn`t anything they could do because the
purchase of the guns in Arizona was seen by prosecutors as legal. As Ms.
Eban reports, quote, "Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they
want in Arizona as long as they`re 18 years or older and pass a criminal
background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits and
buyers are allowed to resell the guns."
All a buyer in Arizona has to do is certified that he`s buying all of
the guns for himself. Certify it. But here`s the thing, look at this, a
buyer who certified the guns were for himself then handed them off to
somebody else minutes later, had not necessarily lied and was free to
change his mind.
So in other words, you can walk into an Arizona gun shop, buy 100
guns, tell the gun shop you`re buying them for yourself, then walk into the
parking lot and start handing them over to other people. You haven`t
broken the law, even though you certified they were all for you, you just
changed your mind between the store and parking lot. You can do that.
The gun laws in Arizona made it next impossible for the ATF to make
any arrests or stop the flow the guns. They weren`t allowing these gun
sales to go through. They were essentially powerless to stop them. And
even when they tried, they were held back.
From the piece, "Their greatest difficulty by far was convincing
prosecutors that they had significant proof to seize guns and arrest straw
purchasers. By June 2010, the agents had sent the office a list of 31
suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts.
For the next seven months, prosecutors did not indict a single
suspect. None of the ATF agents doubted the Fast and Furious guns were
being purchased to commit crimes in Mexico, but that was nearly impossible
to prove to prosecutor`s satisfaction and agents could not seize guns or
arrest suspects after being directed not to do so by a prosecutor."
So, because of what our gun laws are and how they are enforced in this
country, the ATF wasn`t letting the guns walk. They were frustrated
observers being blocked from prosecutors from stopping these gun sales that
they thought were nuts. That`s what happened, according to this rather
devastating piece of new reporter from "Fortune."
But this vote is going to happen tomorrow in the House, and John
Boehner has buried it on health reform ruling day.
The Republican and NRA case for that vote against Eric Holder today
relies on a conspiracy theory cooked up frankly by the militia blogger who
told people to break the windows of Democratic Party offices after health
care reform passed in the first place.
And the rest of the explanation for why they are pursuing this Fast
and Furious vote tomorrow, the part not link to the conspiracy theory,
seems to have just fallen all the way apart.
If you want to experience in your home an appropriate metaphor for
just what happened to the story in politics, what you should do is this: go
to your kitchen, take your silverware drawer out of the cabinet, hold it
over your head and turn it upside down and shake it. That sharp,
clattering disaster in your kitchen is an appropriate metaphor for what has
just become of the Fast and Furious scandal in the House of
Joining us now is Katherine Eban. She`s "Forbes" magazine
contributor, and she`s author of the article "The truth about the Fast and
Ms. Eban, thank you very much for being here. I`m sure you`ve been
very much in demand today.
KATHERINE EBAN, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Thank you for having me. It`s a
MADDOW: You know a lot more about this than I do. I have been
covering it for a few days. You`ve done a ton of reporting on this.
Can you tell me what I got wrong in my description there if I miss
EBAN: The only thing you got wrong is I`m contributor for "Fortune",
MADDOW: Did I say "Forbes"?
EBAN: And everything you said was absolutely accurate.
MADDOW: That`s a very humiliating thing to have gotten wrong. I
hereby quit, I`m sorry.
EBAN: Please don`t.
MADDOW: So, did agents intentionally walk guns across the border?
You tell the story of one instance, one gun, or a handful of guns in that
one instance being walked, but that was not part of the Fast and Furious
EBAN: No, and let`s set that aside for a moment. In the Fast and
Furious case which was one investigation into a group of straw purchasers,
there was no operational tactic by ATF to walk guns. What there was, was a
protracted struggle to arrest kids, not even old enough to buy beer, who
were obviously straw purchasers, and there was a continual struggle with
prosecutors because as they interpreted the laws, the sales were legal, the
transfers were legal, and the agents did not have grounds to make seizures
MADDOW: You write about sort of incredible anecdotal stories about
the straw purchasers -- a guy who`s on food stamps. So, obviously, a low-
income person, a person low income enough to be on food stamps,
nevertheless, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on weaponry, a
young unemployed person spending five figures on a 50 caliber sniper rifle
on a tripod.
Is it illegal to be a straw purchaser, and if it is, why didn`t they
get arrested? It seems pretty clear.
EBAN: That`s a great question. It`s illegal to be a straw
purchasers, but how do you make that case? Prosecutors made it almost
impossible to make those arrests and to seize those guns. They were
continually determining in their analysis of the law that the sales and the
transfers were legal. ATF did not agree.
There is copious evidence that ATF agents demanded we want to seize
these guns. We want to make these arrests, but prosecutors blocked them.
Now, we`re a nation of laws. ATF agents can under decide that they`re
going to make arrests or seize guns without prosecutors` OK. So, if they
have asked and prosecutors have answered and the answer is no, that`s it.
MADDOW: Is this a prosecutor scandal? Were the prosecutors`
decisions in these cases wild departures from the law? Were they making
prosecutorial discretion decisions that were wildly incompatible with what
had previously bun done or are the gun laws really, really lax?
EBAN: That`s a really hard question to answer and I spend a lot of
time and energy in my reporting trying to determine just that. You know,
there is enormous differences in prosecution styles and prosecutorial
interpretation of laws in each jurisdiction. Now, Dave Vogt (ph), the
group`s supervisor of Phoenix group seven in his frustration and despair
was actually writing in prosecutors in other jurisdictions.
I mean, they were going as far as New York to see if they could find
prosecutors who would take tease cases. And that was described in some
congressional testimony by an ATF agent named Pete Forsele (ph).
So, it`s very hard to say. You know, I think what you have is a
perfect storm of incredibly weak laws in Arizona, prosecutors who did not
seem particularly eager to enforce the law, and an absolute river of iron
onslaught of guns being purchased and pouring across the border.
I mean, just to put this in perspective. In Arizona where you have
853 licensed firearms dealer in Maricopa County, here`s what passes for
best business practices. There`s a firearms dealer who has a note on his
door which says one AK-47 per customer per day. Those are the limits that
are set by responsible gun dealers. Otherwise, it`s perfectly acceptable
for an 18-year-old kid to go into a store, put down cash, and buy 50 AK-
MADDOW: To the -- bottom line here in terms of the way the mainstream
media is going to cover this tomorrow. The way that this is short-handed
by every reputable journalistic association in the country is a woebegone
program in which agents knowingly let illegal guns walk. According to your
reporting, that fundamental, basic description of this program and
therefore this scandal is untrue and people should instead describe it how?
EBAN: People need to describe this as a very tough effort to crack
down on straw purchasers and seize guns that they were unable to do for an
array of reasons. And guns therefore went across the border and reached
MADDOW: Katherine Eban, "Fortune" magazine reporter, investigative
reporter, who really did just blow this out of the water today, the day
before this vote in the House -- thank you for being for being here. I`m
sorry for screwing up your introduction and for having a coughing fit which
you have to sit through. It`s really unwelcoming and I won`t do it again.
EBAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Tonight for the interview, Massachusetts Senate
candidate Elizabeth Warren is here.
And best new thing in the world today has been plucked from the
infinite vastness of the Internet machine to be dually trumpeted. We did a
good thing, it ended up. We didn`t really mean to but it ended up being a
good deed. And that`s the best new thing in the world today. That`s
MADDOW: Well, last we checked in on Massachusetts Republican Senator
Scott Brown, we had just stubbed his tongue while trying to convince a
radio interviewer he`s working on a lot of serious and important matters
all the time.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Each and every day I have been
in a U.S. senator, I have been either discussing issues, leading on issues,
in secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers and business
leaders and military leaders, talking, voting, working on issues every
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secret meetings with kings and queens. That seems weird. I
mean, it didn`t make him look like a bad guy. Just made him seem sort of
in over his head like someone who isn`t really sure about what he`s doing,
trying to sound the way he thinks people who are sure of what they`re doing
sound when they`re talking about things they`re sure of.
Anyway, Scott Brown`s communications team was quick to apply a
soothing ointment to that unfortunate flare up. They emailed Greg Sargent
at "The Washington Post" a clarification. The clarification was this,
quote, "Senator Brown was speaking generally about private meetings he has
had with foreign and domestic leaders."
OK. So, private meetings, not secret meetings. So, not secret
meetings with kings and queens but private meetings with kings and queens?
Who are those kings and queens he`s meeting with?
Later on that same day, another missive from the senator`s office had
to find its ways to the "Washington Post". The second clarification read,
quote, "He misspoke when he said kings and queens."
Some days I bet being a spokes person is a really bad job.
All right. So no secret meeting, no kings and queens. Massachusetts
Democrats did not let this go, and it turns out that it`s not just pure
partisan pleasure they`re taking in mocking Senator Brown for this one
wrong thing he misspoke about this one time. I mean, they`re definitely
taking partisan pleasure here, you can tell, because they have set their ad
to "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.
But they`re also making a factual point that was frankly missed by
everybody else including me who reported on the whackadoo kings and queens
thing. The thing they`re bringing to the fore here is that Scott Brown
didn`t just say the kings and queens thing that one time when his office
said he misspoke. Scott Brown says this all the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Kings and queens.
The world leaders and business leaders, kings and queens.
The kings and queens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So he didn`t just misspeak and say the kings and queens thing
once. He says it a lot.
What`s that about? I would love to ask him. I would love to
interview Senator Brown and ask him about the kings and the queens and the
lot of other stuff. But the senator does not share my desire for us to
Senator Brown`s opponent in this year`s big election is Elizabeth
Warren in Massachusetts. And while where wait for the call that I fear
will never come from the senator himself, the woman who could be in that
senate seat as of next year, Elizabeth Warren, will be joining us for the
MADDOW: This was a debate held in this year`s Republican presidential
primary in New Hampshire, two days before they voted in their primary this
year. The debate was sponsored by the "Manchester Union Leader" newspaper.
Now, a few weeks before this debate, in January, that same newspaper
hosting the debate endorsed one of these candidates in the race. They
endorsed Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination. So, technically,
while they were sponsoring this debate, they had a horse in the race. They
had endorsed one of the candidates. Nobody much cared because that`s kind
of a normal thing about debates.
Here`s a debate a couple months ago in the Austin, Texas, mayor`s
race, sponsored by the "Austin American Statesman" newspaper, which
endorsed the older guy on the right there, the current mayor, the guy you
just saw a second ago, him.
This was a debate held in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race between
Ted Kennedy and a guy you might have heard of named Mitt Romney. That
debate was sponsored by the "Boston Globe" and the "Boston Herald". The
"Boston Globe" endorsed Ted Kennedy that year. The "Boston Herald"
endorsed Mitt Romney that year.
The organizations that sponsor debates sometimes also endorse one of
the candidates in those debates. It happens all the time, at every level
This year in Massachusetts, U.S. Senator Scott Brown is running for
re-election against Elizabeth Warren. Before Scott Brown, the seat in the
Senate he currently holds now was held for decades by Ted Kennedy, by
Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Asked to participate in a debate sponsored by
the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, Scott Brown decided there`s a new rule for
debates. He said he would not participate in that Kennedy Institute debate
if anybody associated with the Kennedy Institute was going to make an
endorsement in the race.
Now, he didn`t just mean somebody who was going to be moderating the
debate and asking the questions or anything like that. What Republican
Senator Scott Brown insisted on rather was that the widow of Ted Kennedy
personally be banned from making an endorsement in the Senate race because
she has an association with her late husband`s institute.
To be clear, there was never any indication that Vicki Kennedy was
going to be participating in the debate in any way or asking the questions
or anything like that. Just because she`s associated with the institute
named for her late husband, Scott Brown said he forbid her from making any
endorsement in the election before the debate, after the debate, ever --
all the way through to the election.
Scott Brown`s condition for accepting that debate was a personal
endorsement ban on the late Ted Kennedy`s wife. If you didn`t get that, he
said that debate just wouldn`t be fair.
When Ted Kennedy`s widow, Vicki Kennedy, responded the way you think
somebody would respond to something like that, Scott Brown said he would
not participate in the debate, but he said he would like to do a debate on
a conservative talk radio show in Boston hosted by a man who said he is a
personal friend of Scott Brown and his wife.
So that`s where Scott Brown is tonight. He`s having a debate on a
conservative talk radio show in Boston hosted by his friend. And he`s
having that debate alone.
Joining us here now, without Scott Brown, is his opponent, Elizabeth
Warren. She was scheduled for this interview a long time ago before it was
clear he would be debating himself alone tonight. So the timing of all
this, Scott Brown on his friend`s radio show, and Elizabeth Warren here
now, this frankly is all just a fun coincidence. Blessed be the news gods.
Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: Thanks. It`s
good to be here.
MADDOW: Has your campaign been able to sit down with Senator Brown`s
campaign and hammer out terms for debates? Normally, this stuff does not
all happen in public. It`s just kind of worked out, out of the spotlight.
WARREN: You know, look, I don`t get how this would have worked out,
but after I got the nomination three weeks ago, for the Democratic
nomination to run for the Senate, the next Monday morning, we sent an e-
mail to Scott Brown`s office and said, gosh, we`ve got a lot of invitations
for debates, we figure you`ve got a lot of invitations, let`s sit down,
let`s sort them out, let`s talk them through, and let`s figure out how many
debates we can do, where they`ll be. Let`s be sure we get diversity all
around the state.
And they said, no. I really mean this, they called me back and said,
no. I said, what do you mean, no? They said no, they won`t talk about it.
They won`t even talk about the debates.
So then Scott Brown`s campaign manager started accepting some debates
like this one you just mentioned, and refusing others, and so the whole
thing has been three weeks of kind of this public thing over debates,
including the business around the Kennedy Institute. And including now two
regional debates, one in Worcester and one in New Bedford down on the
south, that would involve important issues and he`s said, no, not doing
So, that`s where we are. We`ve got four television debates which I
think is good, but it took a lot of effort to get them there, and I really
genuinely wish we had more because there are a lot of issues we should be
talking about. I genuinely wish we were going to be in central Mass in and
southern Mass, and I think it`s a mistake not to do that, but I think it`s
hard to debate alone. So there we are.
MADDOW: Right. Well, Scott Brown attempted it tonight on his
friend`s radio show. And we listened in on the interview, and one of the
things he said, he made some news, do we have the sound? We have the sound
He was asked about the vote -- due to happen tomorrow in the House
about Attorney General Eric Holder. He called for Eric Holder`s
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: Attorney General Holder, you can`t effectively serve the
president anymore. And for the best interest of the country, I feel he
should step down and resign. And it`s really -- he`s lost the confidence
of the American people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the first time I believe that Scott Brown has called
for the attorney general to resign. What`s your response to that and
what`s your take on that same issue?
WARREN: You know, just one more politician. I mean, this is really
all about politics and playing this game in Washington. And the
Republicans think they`ve got something here, and he`s just seeing if he
can turn up the temperature on it.
I think this is why people get disgusted by politics. I think this is
why people say, I don`t want anything to do with it. You know, I go around
the commonwealth here in Massachusetts and I meet with people, big groups
of people, I`ll ask, how many people in here are another out of work or
have someone in your family, someone you love, care about, who is out of
work. Someone you know. Hands go up all over the room.
There were three jobs bills last fall, three jobs bills that would
have supported jobs here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Scott Brown
voted against all three of them. We should be talking about that. We
should be talking about why that happens.
Not playing political games. We should be talking about how kids are
going to pay for college education. We should talk about accountability on
Wall Street, and whether or not JPMorgan and the kind of practices it still
engages in put our economy at risk.
There`s really serious stuff on the table. And that`s what it is we
should be talking about.
MADDOW: Right now, in Massachusetts, home sales are up. They`re up
for five straight months now. They`re up 35 percent over this time last
year. Is Massachusetts into a solid recovery? And what is the most urgent
federal policy matter that would help Massachusetts further?
WARREN: Well, home sales are up, but foreclosures are also up. There
are a lot of people who are under water on their mortgages here in
Massachusetts. We had 47,000 people who have lost their homes since the
beginning of the crisis in 2008.
I look at it this way. Massachusetts is recovering better than much
of the rest of the country. And that`s partly because we have made a lot
of investments in our people here in Massachusetts, and trying to keep our
in infrastructure going so businesses can flourish, and trying to help our
kids get educated.
But we can`t do this alone. The country is in trouble and
Massachusetts still has a lot of work to do on the jobs front, on the
education front, on the infrastructure front. There`s a lot we have to do
MADDOW: In terms of national politics right now and the way that your
candidacy has captured the imagination of a lot of progressives around the
country, liberals have been excited about your candidacy, about the way you
have talked about some economic issues, fairness on the tax code and things
like that. One of the things that everybody in the country on their seats
about is what the Supreme Court is going to do tomorrow. It seems from
reading the political body language like the Republicans think the Supreme
Court is going to strike down health care reform and Democrats seem to be
worried that is going to happen.
Do you have a prediction, and how do you think the country should
greet the potential striking down of health reform? What should we do next
if that`s what the Supreme Court does tomorrow?
WARREN: No, I don`t have a prediction. I don`t know what they`ll do
I have my own view that based on the legal precedence, it`s clear that
the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. But whether or not five
justices in the Supreme Court will decide that that`s the case, I don`t
You know, I want to use this -- we`re going to have to see what
happens on Affordable Care before we figure out what the right thing to do
is by way of response. But we need to use this moment to reflect on the
importance of the Supreme Court and who sits on the Supreme Court.
You know, it`s not so long ago that we had the Citizens United and saw
just this week see it reinforced that the same five justices are saying,
hey, corporate interests can just take the electoral process by the throat
and squeeze as hard as they want.
You know, the Supreme Court is wading into really deep waters and
they`re doing it in ways that are -- I think that worries all, and it`s a
reminder that who sits in the United States Senate to review those
nominations to vote on those nominations, really does matter.
And so I think this is -- it will be about the Affordable Care Act
tomorrow, but it will also be about the Supreme Court tomorrow.
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, there Democratic candidate for Senate in
Massachusetts -- thank you for being with us tonight and good luck working
out the debate schedule with your opponent. I really appreciate your time.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right.
Scott Brown, anytime. Rachel@MSNBC.com is my e-mail address. I`d be
happy to -- and you`re welcome here anytime.
All right, everybody. Raise your right hand, repeat after me, I,
state your name, pledge allegiance to Mitt Romney.
You can do it with me now asking or with a Republican official
demanding it. That story is next.
I, state your name --
MADDOW: We have a best new thing in the world coming up right at the
end of the show. It is very good news. It`s coming up.
MADDOW: In November, most of the smart money says President Obama
should win the great state of New Mexico with relative ease. Polls show
the president leading Mitt Romney in New Mexico by double digits.
But eight years ago, in 2004, when George W. Bush was running for re-
election, New Mexico was a battle ground. As part of the Republican effort
of 2004 to win that swing state, then Vice President Dick Cheney scheduled
a big speech in Albuquerque just a few months before Election Day. The
point was to encourage them to come out and hear their president`s message.
But if you wanted to be able to hear Dick Cheney that day, you had to
jump through one strange hoop. In order to get a ticket to attend that
Dick Cheney event, you first had to sign a loyalty oath -- an oath of
loyalty not to the United States of America, but to George W. Bush.
The oath read, "I, full name, do hereby endorse George W. Bush for re-
election of the United States."
The grammatically challenged form warned anyone who signed the pledge
they were consenting to use and release your name by Bush/Cheney as an
endorsing of President Bush.
So, what if you didn`t want to sign it? What if you just wanted to
hear what your vice president said? Too bad. No loyalty oath, no ticket.
A couple months later in 2004 at a Republican event in Florida, a
party official asked everybody in attendance to stand, raise their right
hands, and recite a pledge of allegiance to George W. Bush, not to the
country, but to that one person.
In this loyalty oath, voters were told to say, "I care about freedom
and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I
care, I promise to work hard to re-elect George W. Bush as president of the
What do you think would happen if Democrats asked voters to stand,
raise their right hands, and literally pledge allegiance to Barack Obama?
But even after the Bush/Cheney team left office, loyalty oaths to
specific Republican politicians have kept popping up with kind of
surprising frequency. I know it sounds strange, but it`s true. Just three
months ago, in April, the Kansas Republican Party told every Republican in
the legislature to sign a loyalty oath to their legislature`s Republican
Then, two weeks later, at the national level, members of the
Republican National Committee were invited to a private meeting with Mitt
Romney in Arizona, this was before he secured the nomination, but in order
to attend that meeting, RNC members were told they had to sign an oath
pledging their loyalty to Mitt Romney, in writing.
This is not just pledging that you do to -- to say that you really
support your party. Both parties occasionally try to get people to swear
to that, in terms of participating in open primaries and stuff like that.
But what the Republicans have grown really comfortable with is rather
pledging an oath to a particular Republican politician by name.
I pledge allegiance to Mitt Romney. Perhaps the most striking one of
these was reported a few days ago in Massachusetts, where the state
Republican Party has frankly seemed a little flummoxed about what to do
with all the Ron Paul supporters who took over their Massachusetts
delegation to the National Republican Convention.
I mean, yes, Massachusetts may be Mitt Romney`s home state, but the
Ron Paul folks took that delegation over, just as easily as they took it
over in Minnesota and Nevada and Iowa and all the other places they have
done that this year.
The Ron Paul takeover in Massachusetts kind of ruined Republican Party
plans. I mean, they were really excited to have one of their own as the
party`s presidential nominee. The state`s Republican leaders in
Massachusetts wanted to send, as their delegation, this big group of big
shots and candidates and former elected officials, on to Tampa, cheering on
the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.
But those plans went all pear shaped when it came time to actually
choose the Massachusetts delegates. Because it was the Ron Paul disciples
that actually showed up and did the work and got the votes and won the
So what`s the Massachusetts` Republican Party to do? How can they
replace these Ron Paul revolution no-good-nicks with real Republicans? Two
words: loyalty oaths.
For the first time ever, they distributed affidavits demands that they
swear under penalty of perjury that they would support Mitt Romney`s
presidential nomination. Take that, Ron Paul supporters!
Sure enough, the tactic worked. Some of these delegates were so
horrified at what the state party was asking them to do that they said no.
And that was how the state Republican Party cut some of the Ron Paul folks
out of the state delegation, by using a pledge of allegiance to Mitt
According to the "Boston Globe," an affidavit is never mentioned in
the party`s rules for selecting delegates and has never been required of
delegates in the past. But no time like the present, right? Yes, so you
young people who decided to get engaged in public affairs for the first
time, you may have gone through the legitimate process and worked hard and
got the votes and earned a slot on your state`s delegation convention, but
you weren`t what the party had in mind.
So loyalty oath. Pledge allegiance to the dear leader or get out of
the way for those who will. It`s inspiring, right?
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today.
All right. Something that was wrong has been made right. Two years
ago, we went to Louisiana so we could cover the Deepwater Horizon oil
While we were there, I noticed that the Web site for the city of
NO.com. New Orleans, if you went by the web address was cityofno.com.
Come on! Anyone can see that New Orleans is the city of yes. Yes,
we can find our way back from a hurricane. And yes, we will recover from
BP`s oil spill, too. And, yes, sugar, we don`t care where you`re from, you
must have a Sazerac once in your life. Sit down, read the label, put your
show up until you are not afraid to dance, and then get up and dance and
have a good time. Dancing in the street, allowed and encouraged.
New Orleans is not the city of no. New Orleans is the city of yes.
Now, by way of disclaimer, I should tell you that our show motto is
that we try to increase the amount of useful information in the world. We
are not out being activists, trying to fix everything in the world. We are
just trying to explain the world.
But because this whole show has an unnatural love for the city of New
Orleans, we decided that the "city of no" thing is a totally inappropriate
web address for such a wonderful city. This thing, we decided, this thing,
we could actually fix. So we bought the domain name, cityofyes.us, and
offered it to the city of New Orleans free for the taking, as a way of
thanking them for their hospitality for our shoots down there and also as a
way of fixing this problem that they had online.
We bought the address "city of yes" and we redirected to it their
lousy web address at "city of no". It was the best we could do.
Well, a few months ago, New Orleans got a new website with a new
address, nola.gov, so city of no, no more. So it looks great. It really
does, nola.gov, really cool, much better.
But we still had the matter of New Orleans properly being the "city of
yes", and of us holding the web address for "city of yes" for New Orleans
for all this time.
But now I can tell you, the New Orleans city web manager Eric Agburn
(ph) got in touch with us. Eric heard about us having "city of yes" and he
asked if the city could please have it. They could bring it home to the
rightful `city of yes". And the answer, of course, is -- yes, yes, you
can, you can have it.
Beloved city of New Orleans, you know own cityofyes.us, as you should.
It is our gift.
For the record, just to be safe, I should also tell you that we also
still have cityofheckyeah.com. We still have getyouroiloffourcoast.com,
suggested by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. And we have set both of
those to redirect to the city`s Web site.
And also, all right, there`s one more, we also bought cityofhellno.com
in case there`s ever needed in New Orleans.
New Orleans, if you want any of those, just holler, we are at you your
service and we`ve got your back online. But honestly, just having New
Orleans officially become the "city of yes", which it has always been in
the world and now is online, honestly -- best new thing in the world today,
and having been part of it, even bester.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow
night. Tomorrow is going to be a huge day in news. You`re going want to
be on MSNBC pretty much all day tomorrow. Supreme Court ruling expected at
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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