THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 6, 2014
Guest: Edie Windsor, Roberta Kaplan, Nancy Northup, Clay Jenkins
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You can find the full interview with
Cecil Roberts on our Web site, allinwithchris.com. Tomorrow on "All in
America", coal country is big coal, the new big tobacco. Startling
similarities, tomorrow night, "All in America: Coal Country", right here
That is "ALL IN" for this evening. And "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
On the day of the arguments, on the day the case was heard in court,
she was pretty sure that things had gone well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDITH WINDSOR, PLAINTIFF IN LAWSUIT AGAINST DOMA: I think it went
beautifully. I thought the justices were gentle, exactly the word I want.
OK, they were direct, they asked all the right questions, but I didn`t feel
any hostility, OK, or any sense of inferiority, you know, what do these
people want. I felt we were all very respected and I think -- I think it`s
going to be good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She was right. She`s an acute observer. It was good.
Edie Windsor`s feeling about how the oral arguments went before the
Supreme Court was borne out when one bright morning last June the court
ruled in her case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think she`s thinking right now? What
is she thinking now?
WINDSOR: You did it, honey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you sure you`d win when you were waiting for
WINDSOR: When we were waiting for the ruling, no. No, I prepared
three speeches. I did not allow myself to assume we`d win, OK? That`s the
truth. I thought we had every right to win. I thought our arguments were
sound and everyone else`s were insane, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was June 26th last year. The day the Supreme Court of
the United States handed down their rulings on two big gay rights cases.
One of the cases they consider was about one state, California, having
a statewide ban on gay marriage. The Supreme Court took that case and they
heard arguments on that case. The issue of a state banning marriage they
said was not properly before the court in that case.
But, there was a second case, too. And that second case they looked
at the same time was the case of Thea and Edie. Thea Spyer and Edie
Windsor, they were a couple for 44 years. They were age 75 and 77 when
they finally got married in Canada in 2007. By that point, Thea had
advanced MS. She knew she did not have a long time left. But she and Edie
Windsor wanted to be married. They were pretty sure of each other after
40-plus years together.
So, even though they couldn`t get married here, they flew to Canada
and they got married there. And because of an anti-gay law that had been
signed in the 1990s called the Defense of Marriage Act, when Thea Spyer did
pass away, when she died, federal law did not recognize her as having a
surviving spouse. Edie Windsor, very obviously, was her surviving spouse,
but under federal law, that status was denied to them, despite their legal
And although the court sort of dodged the issue in the California case
last summer, the case of Edie and Thea was very clearly decided. The court
went their way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Good evening. Gay couples across this
country were today handed a sweeping victory by a majority of the justices
on the Supreme Court. And while the justices did not suddenly make gay
marriage the law of the land, they did strike down barriers in the states
that have allowed it so far in what`s being called the most important
ruling ever on gay rights.
REPORTER: Gay rights supporters crowded outside the court cheering
the historic decisions. First, a ruling striking down a law passed by
Congress in 1996. The Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA.
That law blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex
marriages in the states that allow them depriving those couples of more
than 1,000 federal benefits that other married couples have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that was last summer. Landmark Supreme Court ruling
striking down the federal ban on refusing legal recognition to same-sex
The Obama Justice Department under Eric Holder had decided that that
federal ban in their eyes was unconstitutional and when it came up in
court, they decided they would not defend it in federal court. The
Republicans in the House of Representatives decided that, well, if the
Justice Department won`t defend that law, they would. They hired a very
good, very expensive lawyer at taxpayers` expense to come in and try to
defend that law. But they lost. Their side lost.
Then, a really interesting thing happened on the losing side of that
argument. So, it`s a 5-4 decision, right? Five justices voted in favor of
recognizing Edie and Thea`s marriage and striking down the law that ban
recognition of it. Four justices voted against. Among them was Chief
Justice John Roberts.
And he argued in his dissent this was a very teeny tiny, teeny tiny
little ruling. Very narrow ruling. He said didn`t really mean much of
anything. Really only applied to this one case. It wouldn`t have wide
Justice Scalia on the other hand, he said that was bullpucky. He
agreed with John Roberts in the sense that they both voted on the same side
of that opinion, the losing side, the anti-gay marriage side. But Justice
Scalia lamented in his all caps italicized exclamations points kind of way
that that ruling in the Edie Windsor case, he said that was going to mean
gay marriage everywhere.
Justice Scalia said that the majority ruling was nonsense. He said it
was legalistic argle-bargle. Literally, that`s the phrase he used,
legalistic argle-bargle. If you`re ever wonder, it turns there is a hyphen
between argle and bargle.
He said in this terrible argle-bargle ruling, it would lead to the
downfall of every state law restricting marriage to its traditional
So, John Roberts said, I disagree with this rule bug at least it`s not
going to have any wider implications. Justice Scalia said I disagree with
this ruling and it`s going to be the end of the world. Justice Scalia was
right, it turns out, if your world is held up by legalized discrimination
against married gay couples.
Since the Edie Windsor ruling last summer, what has followed is an
almost unbroken streak of 40 straight rulings in state and federal courts
upholding equal marriage rights for same-sex couples and striking down
state laws which ban the recognition of those rights. Then, today, in a
move that surprised basically everybody, the Supreme Court decided to let
the Edie Windsor case keep blazing that trail.
In a stroke, the Supreme Court today denied appeals from gay marriage
cases in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah -- all those appeals
were all turned down all at once today, which means that lower court
rulings in favor of same-sex marriage rights in all of those five states
today instantly became the law of the land. In those five states, and over
the course of the next few days, in six other states where those courts
have jurisdiction as well, gay marriage will be legal.
Once again, though, there is something weird on the losing side. So,
there are nine Supreme Court justices. Do the math. If you want to win a
case at the Supreme Court, you need five votes. You need five justices on
your side. You need five votes to win a case.
But it only takes four votes for the Supreme Court to decide to take a
case in the first place. So, we know there are four anti-gay marriage
justices on the Supreme Court -- Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas. If
they had wanted to hear one of these cases today, if they had wanted the
chance to overturn one of those pro-gay marriage cases from the lower
courts, those four justices had enough votes to take the case to do it.
I mean, the anti-gay marriage side could have taken one of those cases
if they want to. So, why didn`t they? It`s a really consequential
decision that they didn`t. I mean, instead of 19 states and the District
of Columbia recognizing gay marriage, which was true before the open of
business today, by this time next week, it`s probably going to be 30 states
recognizing gay marriage. That would not have happened had they taken up
one of these cases an appeal today.
So, why didn`t they take up one of these cases? It was within their
power to do it.
The obvious answer is that they thought if the court did take up
another anti-gay marriage case, their side would lose again, just setting
their cause back even further.
Now, a more Machiavellian motive was suggested today, which is that
they wanted to keep their options open. They may not be able to win one of
these cases today, but if the make-up of the court changes in the future
like, say if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and he or she gets
to put someone new on the court, well, then they could take up one of these
gay marriage appeals, overturn it, stop the whole thing in its tracks.
And, yes, maybe they`re all Machiavellian, right? Maybe that is
what`s they`re doing. But you know what, the number of states in which gay
people can legally get married went from 19 yesterday to 24 today and it
will be 30 next week.
If you had to bet, right, you`d also say that when the ninth circuit
rules soon, on a case like this, they`re going to add another five states,
Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, and Montana. You`re up next.
I mean, anybody hoping to run out the clock and get to a brighter,
more anti-gay future in the Supreme Court, they`re going to have to contend
with a country in which not just thousands but tens of thousands of couples
are legally married -- and undoing that through the courts by some sweeping
anti-gay Supreme Court ruling in the future. That is a prospect of such
daunting radicalism, it is hard to even imagine it as fiction, let alone as
And so, today, this was the scene in Virginia. In Norfolk County,
Virginia, the county clerk there had fought all the way to the Supreme
Court to keep his constituents in Norfolk County from being allowed to get
Today, when his side lost their case and had their appeal turned down
by the Supreme Court, Timothy Bostick (ph) and Tony London (ph) showed up
at their county clerks office to get their marriage license and they shook
their county clerk`s hand and told him, quote, "It was a pleasure suing
you." The clerk responded, according to a local reporter who was there,
quote, "I enjoyed being sued." They shook their hands, he signed their
marriage license, and Timothy Bostick and Tony London will be married in
Norfolk County, Virginia.
The day after Oklahoma passed its constitutional amendment banning gay
marriage a decade ago, Mary Bishop (ph) and Sharon Baldwin (ph) sued their
state for the right to get married. It has been a 10-year battle for them.
They sued in 2004. It is now 2014. Today, they got their marriage license
in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, in Utah, in Virginia, in Indiana, and Wisconsin, it
happened today. In North Carolina, in South Carolina, in West Virginia, in
Colorado, and Kansas, and Wyoming, it is about to happen imminently. Yes,
I said Wyoming.
And the anti-gay marriage groups are denouncing this as despicable.
And Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Mike Lee are saying in the United States
Senate they`ll amend the United States Constitution to stop this tyranny.
And who knows? Maybe John Roberts is hedging some complicated legal bet on
the prospects of a Bobby Jindal presidency in 2016 that`s going to turn
back this tide.
Somewhere tonight, Antonin Scalia is listening to opera really loud
and looking in a mirror going argle-bargle. It`s all argle-bargle.
The decision today does not legalize equal rights in all 50 states.
They decided this matter in effect by not deciding. But thanks to Thea
Spyer and Edie Windsor, and Edie`s decision to fight for their marriage,
this is beginning to feel like a thing that just cannot be undone. No
Joining us now is Edie Windsor and her attorney Roberta Kaplan.
Thank you both so much for being here. Congratulations.
WINDSOR: Thank you for having us. It`s wonderful.
MADDOW: Am I fairly describing what happened here? Am I
WINDSOR: No, I believe it`s perfect.
MADDOW: All right. Let me ask you how you feel. Obviously your case
was last summer and that decision, seeing it effectively become almost the
law of the land today. How did you feel about --
WINDSOR: It`s incredibly joyous. Just incredibly joyous. I feel
like this glorious accident of history, OK, that put me here in this
position. And I get stopped on the street all the time by young people.
By old people, too, saying thank you, or starting to cry. And it`s just
MADDOW: Robbie, when you look at this decision today, it`s actually -
- it`s a decision. It is not a ruling.
ROBERTA KAPLAN, ATTORNEY: It`s a non-decision decision.
MADDOW: Yes. Does that undercut your satisfaction in seeing this
case blaze this trail? Would you be happier if it was a 50-state ruling
rather than something that seems like it`s just going to creep across the
KAPLAN: You know, look, I`m a practical lawyer and I believe in
results. The results today are incredible. The results today mean, as you
said so eloquently in your introduction, that gay couples have already
married, already married today in places like Utah and Oklahoma and
Virginia, and soon it will be 30 states and you`re right about the ninth
circuit. I think it will include the ninth circuit and I think it will
include the sixth circuit, which will be another four.
And it will become inevitable very, very soon. And so, whether it`s
by a sweeping ruling which would have been great or it`s by today`s
decision which is also great, the reality is the reality. And this country
soon will know its neighbors, its friends, its relatives, its colleagues as
married people who just happen to be gay. And that`s the way it should be.
MADDOW: Edie, when I was watching -- I went back and looked at your
comments the day of the oral arguments, that was really struck when you
said, I didn`t feel insulted. I didn`t feel like anybody was talking down
to me. I didn`t feel like it was essentially an undignified occasion.
And I was struck by feeling that you were surprised by that, that you
were surprised that your dignity had been protected in this proceeding.
Was I right to read that?
WINDSOR: I don`t know. It`s very hard to know. It`s hard to know
how I felt really.
For instance, I really -- I disappointed everybody at one point
because they were asking what was the most important thing that happened
that day. And the most important thing was that Nancy Pelosi was sitting
on the far right of my row and I was on the far left. She got up and came
over and introduced herself. And I was thrilled. OK.
MADDOW: So in the moment, it could be anything.
WINDSOR: Robbie was incredible that day.
And the other thing is in previous things, I didn`t really hear what
Robbie -- Robbie`s answers. I guess then because I had read the briefs, so
I guessed how she was answering. But in the Supreme Court I had hearing
things and I heard every word she said, and she was so cool and calm and
knowing. You know, I felt my heart would burst.
MADDOW: This has been a really contested strategy. I mean, there
wasn`t -- you guys were not part of a gay rights master plan where you were
picked as the perfect plaintiff and you were picked as the perfect attorney
and it was some great coming together. There`s a lot of contested ground
over how this should be moved forward.
Now, that it is moving forward and we`re seeing the law change in the
most unexpected places of all, literally, Wyoming -- do you feel like this
is a resilient way forward or do you feel there could be backtracking?
Right now, actually, the polling numbers have started to go down in terms
of approval of same-sex marriage for the first time in the long time.
KAPLAN: But they were 49 percent in Utah last week, which is
No, I think I completely agree. I don`t think it`s going backwards.
I think the decision today actually virtually guarantees it won`t go
backward because we`re going to have the majority of Americans in the
majority of states living in states that allow gay people to marry.
And just like the Supreme Court recognized about Edie and Thea`s
marriage, their marriage was the same as the marriage of any couple who`d
been together for 40 years. Soon, most Americans will realize that about
their friends and neighbors, and it will become a nonissue.
And as you put it, the Supreme Court is not going to unmarry anyone.
Once these people are married, they`re going to be married and this will be
the reality for everyone.
MADDOW: That was the thing. I mean, looking at your relationship,
you know, more than 40 years together. Had they been making a decision
about whether or not you would be allowed to get married -- I can see them
having all sorts of arguments. But recognizing that you were -- you were
plainly married, but not just legally, but you were clearly together. Even
they couldn`t take that away from you.
And now, you`ve given it to the rest of the country.
MADDOW: Well, thank you both. Congratulations. A huge day. It`s
really nice have you here.
WINDSOR: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. Civil rights icon Edie Windsor and her attorney
Robbie Kaplan right here, not holograms, right here with me. I know. It`s
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: The court upheld a new law in Texas. You don`t
like a lot of regulation on business, except if the business is an abortion
clinic. Eighty percent of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be
basically out of business because of this new law.
Too much regulation? Is that fair? Why regulate on the abortion
issue now until maybe the law is -- maybe wait until the Supreme Court, you
win a fight in the Supreme Court where you outlaw abortion altogether. Why
restrict a business now in the state of Texas?
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I mean, you obviously have to
talk to someone in Texas. But the fact of the matter is that we believe
that any woman that`s faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves
compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer to be --
TODD: But 80 percent of those clinics are gone. So they have to
drive 300 miles. Was that compassion?
PRIEBUS: The issue -- listen, Chuck, the issue for us is only one
thing. And that`s whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund
abortion. I mean, that`s the one issue that I think separates this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The issue of taxpayer funding for abortion actually has
nothing at all to do with what Chuck Todd was just asking about there in
Texas, but that gymnastic snarling evasion was Republican Party Chairman
Reince Priebus` best effort to stop talking about what the Republican state
government in Texas just did.
In the last year for which there`s any data, which is 2011, there were
73,000 women in Texas who had an abortion that year. These were the
clinics in Texas at which a woman could get an abortion in 2011.
Then, last summer, Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas signed a
new law designed to shut down abortion clinics all over the state. As of
last week, that law had succeeded in shutting down about 21 clinics in the
state of Texas. And then on Thursday, a federal appeals court ruling
closed down 13 more.
Thanks to the anti-abortion legislation passed by the Republican Texas
legislature and signed by the Republican Texas governor, the 73,000 Texas
women who used to get abortions every year in that state will now have
roughly 80 percent fewer choices of where they can get that service. No
clinics west or south of San Antonio, nowhere in the whole huge Rio Grande
If the same number of women still want to get abortions in Texas,
which after all is their legal try to do so, Amanda Marcotte at Slate.com
calculated the last few remaining clinics would have to stay open 365 days
a year doing more than 25 abortions a day, seven days a week in order to
keep up with the demand.
Of course, there won`t be that kind of demand, though, right? Not if
the nearest legal clinic is a 500-mile round trip.
The idea of closing 80 percent of the clinics in Texas is to make it
impossible for most Texas women to even try to have an abortion. Unless
they have enough money and resources to basically escape the state. The
court ruling that let the Texas law go into effect happened on Thursday
afternoon. It went into effect that night.
Overnight, 13 clinics, including this one in McAllen, Texas, were
forced to stop providing abortion services immediately.
Amy Hagstrom Miller who owns the clinic in McAllen, she tells us now
that dozens of women came to the McAllen clinic on Friday, the day after
the ruling, but they had to be told they could not get the care they were
looking for that day. And there`s really nowhere else for them to go. Not
for hundreds of miles.
Since the Texas law was first passed against Wendy Davis` marathon
filibuster effort against it, that Texas law has been expected to end up
before the United States Supreme Court.
Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights took steps to try to make
that happen. It filed an emergency petition with the highest court in the
land, asking the Supreme Court take immediate action to put that Texas law
on hold, essentially to reopen those dozen clinics shut don last week until
the case can get a full hearing.
Joining us now is Nancy Northup, president of the Center for
Nancy, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
NANCY NORTHUP, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: It`s good to be here.
Thank you for continuing to follow this story.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, just watching the dots disappear on that map,
it`s -- Texas is a big place. And this is a radical, radical change that
has happened. Do we have any parallel in history for a state closing off
so much access to so many people?
NORTHUP: No. What we saw last Thursday was the decision by the
United States Court of Appeals from the Fifth Circuit is unprecedented. In
the 40 years since Roe, there`s been a lot of litigation, there`s been a
lot of attempts by politicians to shut down access to abortion services,
but we have never seen the effect of a law like we`ve seen in Texas where
you lose 80 percent of the clinics in a state.
MADDOW: If the Texas law stands, do you think it will become a model
for what red states will do across the country?
NORTHUP: Well, it`s already become a model. So, we have laws like
this in Wisconsin and in Louisiana, in Oklahoma, in Alabama, and it`s being
litigated. The admitting privileges laws are being litigated in all those.
Now, most of those are -- well, all of those admitting privileges have
been enjoyed except for in Texas. The other courts have seen these for
what they are. They are pretext. They are meant to shut down clinics.
They have nothing to do with health and safety.
But the Fifth Circuit has seen fit to go against the district court
who after a trial found that there is no medical necessity for these laws.
And that`s why we`ve gone to the Supreme Court to try to get these clinics
back open, to truly advance women`s health in the state of Texas.
MADDOW: And is that -- forgive my ignorance on this, is that the
basis of the legal path forward, the legal appeal here, that other circuits
have found or other federal courts have found that these are too
restrictive, that they interfere in a constitutionally protected right.
And this is essentially a rough circuit. Therefore, the court should
intervene. Is that the path?
NORTHUP: Well, actually, the path right now is just that they should
intervene, because what the fifth circuit did was wrong on the facts and
the law in this case. The facts here are clear. There`s not a basis for
the law for this kind of restriction and the impact is huge.
MADDOW: In terms of what the impact is, right now -- obviously,
looking at that data from the Guttmacher Institute, 73,000 women in Texas,
in 2011, got an abortion in that state that year, what do you expect will
happen materially to lose 80 percent of the clinics providing that service?
Will women simply have more unwanted pregnancies that they otherwise
wouldn`t have had? Will they go to Mexico? Will they go to other states?
Will they turn to illegal means? What will happen?
NORTHUP: I think you`re going to see all those things. You`re going
to see some women who are going to resort, to buying abortion drugs on the
Internet, as we saw with the mom in Pennsylvania who`s now in prison.
You`re crossing the border into Mexico to buy drugs on the black market.
You`re going to see women decide that they can`t get the abortion that they
feel they need to have. And then you are going to see some women who will
go to extraordinary lengths because they need to try to put together the
money and time off from work and to drive those 500 miles round trip.
You`re going to see all that. But what you`re going to see for sure
is that the state of Texas, unless the Supreme Court steps in, is that the
state of Texas has been allowed to let the politicians there for absolutely
no good reason, cut off action to abortion services.
MADDOW: In terms of the court`s response, you`re obviously asking the
court for emergency intervention here. When do you expect a response by?
NORTHUP: We don`t know.
MADDOW: They`re on their own timeframe, the Supremes?
NORTHUP: That`s right. But what we really know is that women in
Texas are being hurt right now and we need this court to step in.
MADDOW: Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive
Rights, keep us apprise of how this goes.
NORTHUP: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Ahead on the interview tonight, we`ve got the Dallas
official who is charged with handling America`s first-ever Ebola case. And
he`s doing so with remarkable personal involvement in the issue. He`s here
for the interview.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: This was the scene outside Clay Jenkins` house in Dallas
County, Texas, this summer. Democrat Clay Jenkins is the top elected
official in Dallas County. By title, he is the Dallas County judge.
This summer, he announced that county of Dallas -- excuse me, Dallas
County, would shelter unaccompanied minors who had crossed the border into
Texas. He said all children are made in the image of Gold, and Dallas
County would welcome all children. And once he said that, the protesters
showed up outside the Judge Jenkins`s house.
More recently, Clay Jenkins has been at the heart of the response of
the first diagnosis of Ebola in this country which also happened in Dallas,
Texas. On Friday, he showed up at the apartment where the Ebola patient
had stayed. The judge personally drove the man`s family as they left the
apartment where they`ve been stuck for days. He moved them to a house that
he`d helped find for them. He said, just like in the Bible, there needed
to be room at the inn for these folks in their time of need.
I don`t know how that looks to you, where you are, but this was one
perspective on what Judge Jenkins did. The headline at Breitart.com:
"Naive liberal Texas judge enters Ebola apartment without protection." Or
this one, "Liberal judge drives Ebola exposed family, attends presser
wearing same shirt." The same shirt! Scandal.
That judge from Dallas County, the one with the protesters outside of
his house and the right wing media scandalized in their virologic ignorance
about his shirt, he is actually leading the response to this first ever
U.S.-diagnosed case in Dallas and he`s our guest tonight for the interview.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is week two of the Texas state fair which has been held
almost every year in Dallas since 1886. Over the past few decades,
fairgoers have been greeted by this handsome fellow. His name is Big Tex.
He stands 55 feet tall and he bellows greetings like, "howdy, folks" to
everybody at the fair. Welcome to the state fair of Texas.
This year, though, he`s also the bearer of an important health
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIG TEX: Remember, always wash your hands before eating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thanks, Tex. Always a helpful reminder in any circumstance.
But Dallas has the special circumstance right now of being home to the
first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. And I have to be said
that is not always bringing out the best in people around the country.
One Texas congressman who has voted more than 30 times to repeal
Obamacare now says we need to start using Obamacare to fight Ebola.
Remember that whole time when there was a big right wing freak out after
President Obama was elected about czars, when the right decided it was a
huge scandal for the president to appoint anyone to be the czar of
anything. Well, now, the Georgia Republican congressman who introduced the
anti-czar bill in 2009, he now says, you know, we really ought to pick a
czar to fight Ebola.
Two other co-sponsors of the "no more czars" bill today also called
for a czar to fight Ebola, even though again, they don`t believe in czars.
So, the first Ebola case in the United States, it may be just one case
but it is causing an odd outbreak of some strange politics in some
In other quarters, though, the closer you get to the actual crisis,
you are getting an outbreak of a different kind of politics -- politics of
pragmatism. In some cases, remarkable personal commitment from the
officials who are on the front lines.
Officials right now are monitoring 48 people who they say have had
some contact with the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in this
country. They had contact with him after he started to feel symptoms on
September 24th. Officials say they are closely watching 10 people
specifically, including four people who lived in the apartment where this
man was staying when he fell ill.
Ebola is only contagious if the person who has it is also exhibiting
symptoms. An exposed person typically starts to show symptoms eight to 10
days after contracting the virus.
So far, not one of the people who health officials are watching has
begun to feel symptoms of Ebola. But today, I should say marks exactly
eight days since the initial patient was admitted to Texas Health
Presbyterian hospital and put into isolation.
On Friday, decontamination workers started cleaning the apartment
where the first patient had been staying. As of noon local time today,
local officials said that cleaning was complete. Workers in hazmat suits
loaded up barrels of material that contained everything that was
potentially in contact with the man`s bodily fluids, including things like
bed sheets and mattresses that he slept on.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is the top administrative official in
Dallas County. He`s been leading the county`s response on the ground.
Judge Jenkins, you might remember from earlier this summer when he made
headlines by announcing that Dallas County would take responsibility for
housing kids from central America who crossed the border into Texas in such
huge numbers this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: The politics of this is that there
are no politics of this. This is about children. It need not be partisan.
It need not be political. It need not be shrill and hateful. These are
not others. These are children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Judge Jenkins made that case over and over the summer that we
had a moral obligation. That Dallas County had a moral obligation to house
those kids who are coming across the border and have nobody to take care of
Well, now, that his county is the first in the country to deal with
this new problem, he`s handling it in exactly the way you`d think. He`s
handling it with unapologetic compassion, specifically concerning the way
that Dallas County is treating not just this first patient Thomas Eric
Duncan, but his relatives who were confined to that apartment where Mr.
Duncan fell ill just two weeks ago. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: Those people in the apartment are part of -- part of Dallas
County. And they are going to be treated with the utmost respect and
dignity in this unusual situation.
I am concerned for this family. I want to see this family treated as
my own -- as I would want to see my own family treated if I were
incapacitated in a hospital.
We have moved the family to an appropriate location, sort of a
location that would be acceptable for my family, for Mike Rawlings family
or your family to be in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Thursday, Judge Jenkins entered the apartment where this
first patient had been staying and he met with the family living there and
who had been ordered to be confined there after the patient was admitted to
the hospital. Judge Jenkins wore his regular clothes into the apartment.
It had not yet been cleaned by the hazardous material crew at that point.
The following day, Judge Jenkins personally drove the family to a new
home where they could stay temporarily -- a home that he personally found
through the faith-based community in Dallas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: So, my first call of the day was to a faith friend, and I
told my faith friend, there`s no room at the inn and we need your help.
And Mike called that same faith friend and that faith friend was able to
find something that is suitable and secure and safe for this family.
What I told Louise last night is I don`t want to see you treated any
differently than how I`d want you to treat me and my family if I were the
man in Presbyterian Hospital fighting for my life, and my family were
afraid that they might have contracted the disease and also worried about
me. So, the faith community stepped up like they did with the refugee
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Judge Jenkins has been a very, very, very busy man this week.
But again and again and again, what he has been modeling is a form of
leadership that is obviously very calm but also pragmatic and personal in
the face of a lot of fear from a lot of other people.
Joining us tonight for the interview is Dallas County Judge Clay
Jenkins, who has been leading Dallas County`s emergency response to the
first diagnosis of Ebola in the U.S.
Judge Jenkins, thank you very much for being back tonight. Welcome
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: Hi, Rachel. Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: So, what have been your greatest challenges in dealing with
this? I have seen you put one foot in front of the other. I`ve seen you
be deliberatively, even ostentatiously calm when a lot of other people are
very excited and worried at a time like this.
What has been hardest for you?
JENKINS: Oh, I think the hardest thing is just to try to make sure
that everyone in this, from the people that are being monitored, to the
people that are afraid, and everyone in our community is being treated with
respect and is getting the information that they need to know that we`re
doing everything in our power to keep their family safe.
And we are. There were a lot of challenges when I overtook this
incident command. But everyone has worked really hard. I`m proud of our
team and we`re making steady progress.
And, you know, every 15 minutes, we`re a little bit closer to being to
the end of this outbreak or this -- it`s not an outbreak, this situation.
MADDOW: In terms of the way that your action has been received, and
the way that Dallas has handled the worry over this patient, this man`s
diagnosis, do you feel like it`s starting to sink that the public education
is working in terms of the fact that people aren`t going to be contagious
unless they`ve got symptoms, that somebody who`s been exposed does not --
shouldn`t be seen as a carrier or vector of the disease. You`ve been very
articulate and sort of insistent about those details.
Do you find as you`re going through this day today that more people
understand those basic facts about what Ebola is?
JENKINS: I think so. It`s -- this is not a new disease, but it`s new
to Dallas County and to America. The CDC and the National Institute of
Health has been evolved in every -- every Ebola outbreak or case since it
was discovered in 1976. So, the science is clear and I`m relying on the
It`s important for us to have repetition in our messaging to people so
they understand what is happening with the science. And I think a picture
is worth a thousand words. I went to carry Louise without any gear on
because that`s what -- she`s a person, it`s safe to do so, and I want her
to know I saw her and the three young men as my equals and as people who
needed help, and I wanted to help them.
But I also knew that our citizens would see that and know that the
words that we were saying were true words and they could tell that because
we weren`t dressed like spacemen.
MADDOW: I have to ask about the initial response. It seems like
you`ve been clear about what the risks are and what the risks aren`t about
this disease. It seems like you`ve been able to make yourself available on
a daily basis to local press, and as have other Dallas officials and the
mayor and health officials.
But it did take a very long time to get that apartment cleaned up, to
get the hazardous material and potentially hazardous material in there
cleaned up, to get the family moved into better accommodation.
Why were there delays around some of those basic needs of the people
who definitely hadn`t been exposed to Mr. Duncan when he was ill?
JENKINS: Well, it took too long. We`ve got to streamline this
process. And this is a teaching moments for the United States. As I have
said to my faith friend who found the place where she`s now staying, there
was literally no room at the inn. We tried every apartment owner, every
rent house, every housing unit. The fear kept anyone from agreeing to
allow them to move there.
And then the permitting process and the uncertainty about how things
can be disposed of between the various agencies, you know, led to longer
than I wanted for the clean-up. So, it was important to me the night
before Louise and the three young men and I moved went over to see her with
an EPI team from the CDC and Dallas County. And told her on behalf of all
government agencies that I wasn`t happy with her living conditions and that
we wanted to treat her the way that we would want to be treated in that
situation and pledged to her that I would get her and those three young men
out of there.
And, luckily, we were able to do that. Unfortunately, it took nearly
24 hours. But we were able to get them to a great location now.
MADDOW: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, your -- the response that
you are leading in Dallas County, you and mayor there and the other local
officials there, will be studied for a long time in terms of what went
right and what went wrong and the way you handled your leadership and
responsibilities when America dealt with this problem for the first time
ever. Thank you for helping us understand how you`ve gotten through it.
So, I really appreciate it.
JENKINS: Rachel, thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Programming note. She`s been called the soul of the
Democratic Party and the scourge of Wall Street. She has said she will not
run for president but it is hard to find another Democrat who has as much
real candle power on the campaign trail as she does. She was in Oregon
today helping incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley in his reelection effort.
She`s going to Wisconsin to help Mary Burkes try to beat Republican
Governor Scott Walker there.
But tomorrow night, she will be here. Joining us live here on this
show. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is the
interview tomorrow night.
See, I told you it was a programming note. Elizabeth Warren here live
But, coming up here next, it`s the worst 10-year anniversary ever, and
the worst possible way to celebrate it. Do it with me, next.
MADDOW: This was 10 years ago tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: There are no weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, and there haven`t been for a long time. That`s not a campaign charge
from Senator John Kerry. That`s the conclusion of the administration`s own
weapons inspector Charles Duelfer in a voluminous report and personal
testimony today. Duelfer said that Saddam Hussein has not produced WMDs
since 1991, the end of the first Gulf War. Duelfer did say that Saddam was
eager to get back into the WMD business, but his report today flatly
contradicts the president`s primary reason for going to war against Iraq
and the intelligence that led him to that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 10 years ago today. We get the very politically
inconvenient report that everything the Bush administration had told us
about why they wanted to, needed to start a war in Iraq was wrong. Charles
Duelfer led the hunt for Iraq`s supposed weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq after the U.S. invasion and he did not find those supposed weapons
because those supposed weapons were not there.
Or were they? They still exist on the right. A sort of dead-ender
fringe who believe that actually Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of
mass destruction. He must have. George Bush couldn`t have been wrong
I say it`s a dead-ender fringe because even President Bush had to
admit that he was wrong about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Now look, part of the reason we
went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we
thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even George W. Bush had to admit he was wrong about weapons
of mass destruction. Iraq did not have them.
But today, on the 10-year anniversary of that being proven in the
official U.S. government report on that subject, today, have you met the
Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Iowa? Her name is Joni Ernst. She`s
running neck and neck with Democrat Bruce Braley for the U.S. Senate seat
And Joni Ernst, in addition to many other amazing things about her,
Joni Ernst says she has secret information that, in fact, Saddam did have
the weapons. She knows personally, somehow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have reason to believe there
was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that reason? What makes you --
ERNST: I will tell you my husband served in Saudi Arabia, to Army
Central Command sergeant major for a year. And that`s a hot-button topic
in that area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is a hot-button, Saudi -- we are four weeks out from the
elections this year. It is 10 years today since our own government
officially admitted the whole WMDs thing about Iraq was a lie. It`s not
like an accusation that it was a lie. It`s a lie. We`ve admitted it was a
But apparently, it`s not such a big lie that it keeps you out of the
running for a United States Senate seat in 2014. I guess. Really, Iowa?
It`s not a problem?
Happy anniversary, worst anniversary ever.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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