The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/20/09
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.
MADDOW: And thanks to you have at home.
Four dominant stories tonight.
The health vote is tomorrow. Democrats need every single one of their votes. Two conservadems, thus far, are holding out. And it‘s not who you might think would be holding out.
Liz Cheney thinks that we‘re heading into Halloween and not Thanksgiving. Her new “be afraid” video has backfired.
And in one of the most surprising political fights in the long time, it is John McCain versus Lindsey Graham. Weren‘t they just best friends?
And as the economic meltdown continues in California, the governor there says, “Students have to suffer.” And I am quoting. The students are not doing so quietly.
Four dominant stories, and this Friday, we put them in perspective with Air America‘s Ana Marie Cox with Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com and with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer—all live together and in our studio. Weird, right?
MADDOW: We begin with the countdown in D.C.
Twenty-four hours from right now, we should know whether or not the Senate is moving on health reform. That vote is expected at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night. Why 8:00 p.m.? Because that is roughly 72 hours from the time that Senate Democrats unveiled the bill on Wednesday night and posted it online.
One of the Republican demands about health reform was that no debate could happen until everyone had 72 hours to read the bill. Another one of those Republican wishes the Democrats inexplicably granted even though it earned them no Republican votes in return.
Despite Republican threats, though, the bill will not be read aloud on the Senate floor this weekend. Republican Senator Tom Coburn has given up that threat. Had the Republicans won on that one, too, there would have been probably a vote at sometime around 2:00 a.m. on Monday morning. That will not happen. This, it seems, will be settled tomorrow night.
And by settled, I mean that we‘ll know whether or not they‘re going to start debating it. Democrats need 60 votes tomorrow night just to begin debate. Luckily for them, there are 60 members of the Democratic Caucus. But there are still two conservative Democrat holdouts tonight.
Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana says she will not announce her decision until tomorrow morning.
And conservative Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas just hasn‘t been saying anything publicly at all. We contacted Senator Lincoln‘s office again today, and they again failed to tell us anything. They failed to respond to our request for comment again.
Again, both of these holdouts are just holding out on the question of whether or not they‘re going to allow debate to start on health reform. If either one of them says “no,” debate won‘t start. Health reform will stop. And we know what Blanche Lincoln and/or Mary Landrieu will be most famous for in their whole political lives.
Joining us now, as promised, is the former Democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, Ana Marie Cox from Air America Radio, and Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight.com.
We don‘t usually do this. Thank you all for being here. It‘s really nice.
ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: A pleasure to be here.
Nate, let me start with you.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: Sure.
MADDOW: You wrote in “The New York Times” this week about the political context for conservative Democrats making these decisions about health reform. Would it be good politics for Lincoln or Landrieu to single-handedly kill health reform?
SILVER: Well, it‘s a tough call because they all face somewhat different parameters. For someone like Landrieu who‘s just reelected last year, she has six years until she‘s up for re-election again. We don‘t know what people will think about the health care bill come 2014.
But Lincoln is vulnerable in 2010 – a cycle which I think is going to be pretty bad for Democrats. She has more reason to be nervous and not want to take one for the team. With that said, if she doesn‘t vote for this bill she‘s going to lose all her fund-raising support. She‘s going to maybe get kicked out of the well, I don‘t know being kicked out of caucus but you won‘t have institutional support, and that makes things very tough. You don‘t have any friends in your corner. So, it‘s not an easy decision for her the rest of the way.
MADDOW: It‘s hard to imagine Republicans rallying behind her because she said no to health reform.
SILVER: She could become a Republican. I mean, I think.
SILVER: . that‘s not totally off the table. We‘ve seen some parties switching one way. It could happen the other way as well I would think.
MADDOW: Governor Spitzer, on this issue of fiscal conservatism, President Obama tried early on to define health reform as the fiscally responsible necessary thing to do. And, in fact, this is the biggest effort at health care cost control ever. You see that reflected in the effect it‘s supposed to have on the deficits.
Is part of the reason this has been so hard politically, because that fiscal responsibility message got dropped?
SPITZER: Well, I don‘t think they‘ve dropped it intentionally. I don‘t think anybody believes it. I think everybody sees the $900 billion, $1 trillion tag over 10 years and they say this will not increase the deficit.
I don‘t think people really believe that because every time in the past there‘s been an effort to control the growth of health care spending, it has failed. And I think most of the controls here kick in five, six years down the road. People don‘t really believe that element of the bill will play out as they‘re saying.
Having said that, I think there‘s enormous public support for health care reform. And I don‘t think any Democrat and I think each of these two senators tomorrow will say, we will vote for the debate to make it happen. They don‘t have—it would be crazy of them—as a political matter, simply crazy to stand up to a new president and say, “I am blocking single-handedly your most important domestic agenda item.”
And I don‘t think they will do it. They shouldn‘t do it. This is merely to get debate going. Fiscal conservatism or not, they will say we must go forward. This what the Democratic Party stands for.
MADDOW: In terms of the fact there are still these holdouts—Ana Marie, there was reporting last night from ABC News that Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, there‘s one section of the bill, a late add that specifically, it increases Medicaid subsidies to certain states recovering from a major disaster.
ANA MARIE COX, AIR AMERICA RADIO: I believe it‘s a natural as having a major natural disaster in the past seven years. Hmm, I wonder what they could mean.
MADDOW: So, is this big—big earmark essentially for Louisiana.
MADDOW: It‘s big. It‘s like $100 million.
MADDOW: Isn‘t this sort of like paying ransom to kidnappers?
COX: It is like paying ransom to kidnappers. And I have no idea what Blanche Lincoln is going to get. I mean, you know, they came in a little bit under the $900 billion with the CBO estimates. And that gives Harry Reid basically billions of dollars to play around with in making bribes to people or paying off kidnappers as the case may be.
COX: I mean, I think they‘re both going to come around for reasons that Nate and the governor have mentioned. But I just wonder how they‘re going to do it. I think that, for Blanche Lincoln, she‘s going to have to make it look like she was forced to do it, like she‘s going to have to make it look as though she were forced or given a really, really good, you know.
SPITZER: Or got so much that everybody there says this is good.
COX: So—but I think they‘ll turn around. It‘s just a question—it‘s bad for democracy, you know? Small “d.”
MADDOW: This is the place for politics.
SPITZER: But this is the way the legislative process works. It is the reason we all get so frustrated with it because you end up with these legislative bills that look horrendous that are essentially the consequence of blackmail. But that‘s how you get the votes and it‘s ugly to watch. It‘s the sausage-making we all make fun of.
COX: And you end up with the worse bill. I mean, there are things that Harry Reid could have done to make the bill better and still stay within that, you know, sort of fake limit where they‘re going to bust through (ph) anyway as the governor says. But instead he‘s using—we‘re going to be seeing that used to make the sausage.
SPITZER: Look, the tough issues still have to be dealt with. There‘s the issue of how they deal with abortion, choice, will be dealt with between now and when the Senate votes final passage and then between the Senate and the House. That is going to be a much, much more contentious issue than simply getting an extra vote to begin debate. That one is going to be hard to watch.
MADDOW: Is—Nate, but when you look at issues like that, like on the abortion issue, obviously, it‘s the—it‘s the—under—in the dictionary where it says contentious issue in American politics, the picture next to it is an abortion rights demonstration. Are there electoral consequences on abortion votes though? Or is it just one of these things that drives fundraising but not votes?
SILVER: Well, I don‘t know. I mean, the religious right is very organized and motivated. It‘s not like this kind of tea party crowd where it‘s very new and it might not have a lot of infrastructure. I mean, you know, anti-abortion forces get people to turn out. And, you know, frankly, even though the country is still plurality pro-choice, people—there are some who think, yes, I‘m pro-choice but I don‘t want federal funding for it.
I mean, I don‘t know. You know, it‘s a tough thing to decide. I kind of think, if you want the most popular bill, you would have a public option and maybe have to accept some compromises on abortion. That‘s where the polling kind of tends to shake out.
MADDOW: We do—we are sort of left with the limits of our old political analysis. And I think our old political analysis is very good at explaining how the right organized into interest groups and organized within the conservative movement is very good at exerting pressure on their lawmakers. It‘s totally irrelevant to this fight, which is all within the Democratic Party. And the question is whether or not the left has become sufficiently organized to make people fear voting against a public option.
SPITZER: But, also, there are—even within the Democratic Party—some senators who are avowedly not pro-choice and where their capacity to win next November will depend upon these marginal voters where—for whom this may be a critical issue. And that‘s why it‘s so dicey and so problematic for us.
MADDOW: Why does every senator that I‘ve interviewed in the last couple of months on this, last months, I guess, say—every Democratic senator I‘ve interviewed says they‘ll get 60, they‘ll definitely get 60. They all say they‘ll get 60 even while Ben Nelson is saying, “No, I‘m not going to vote for it if there‘s a public option.” Joe Lieberman is holding a one-man parade everyday talking about how he‘s going to filibuster it.
Is there any chance they‘re not just blowing smoke, that they actually know they will get 60? I feel like they‘re blowing smoke.
SILVER: They seem relatively—I mean, I don‘t know. There hasn‘t been like a critical mass that has formed against the bill in the Senate. There was in the House. So, I think you have each person operating as an individual. And as long as Blanche Lincoln is just one individual against the whole pressure of the caucus, it‘s hard for her to vote no, I think.
If you had people banding together, you might have more of a problem. But you have different concerns from a Lincoln or a Lieberman or a Nelson in some ways that makes it easier than if you had one concern that you couldn‘t rectify potentially.
MADDOW: Ana Marie, last word, briefly. Tomorrow, do they get 60?
COX: Oh, yes.
MADDOW: Eliot Spitzer, Nate Silver, Ana Marie Cox—my guests this hour. Don‘t go anywhere. I‘ve belted you to your seats. Thank you.
The daughter of Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney, has put out a scary, scary video about Michigan of all things today—Michigan and terrorism, which is all well and good until you get to the part about Michiganders totally disagreeing with her about what she says is best for them. Carpet-bagging gone horribly, horribly awry when we return.
But, first, “One More Thing” about conservative Democrats. I have mentioned several times now that Joe Lieberman will not call me. We‘ve talked about him a lot on the show. And although I live in hope, he, so far, will not come on the show for an interview. He won‘t give us statements when we ask him for clarifications on things. In fact, his staff won‘t even return calls from our staff.
Even people who really, really, really hate me are generally at least nice enough to return a call from the staff if only to say, “No, I hate you, but thanks for the call.” Well, today, Mike Stark of StarkReports.com found Joe Lieberman in person and did a really nice thing for me. He asked Senator Lieberman if he would come on the show to talk to me.
Here‘s how it went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE STARK, STARKREPORTS.COM: You‘ve expressed an interest to have somebody have a serious policy debate instead of all the.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Oh, yes.
STARK: And I think one of the best folks on the progressive side is Rachel Maddow. And she‘s been trying to get you on her show for a really long time.
LIEBERMAN: She‘s got a point of view. I think we‘re going to have this debate on the floor of the Senate and I look forward to it. In other words.
STARK: There‘s no chance you‘d do her show?
LIEBERMAN: I don‘t think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, whoa, no Joe. But thank you to Mike Stark of StarkReports.com for trying for me.
We will be right back with my point of view.
MADDOW: Hey watch this for a second, OK? This is a baby orangutan having a medical exam in Sumatra. So, the medical exam can be done, this little kiddo had to be put under anesthesia. Jeff Corwin, who is just on the MSNBC documentary “100 Heartbeats,” was there when this happened. Now, I want you to watch what happens when it is time for the little anesthetized baby orangutan to wake up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF CORWIN, “100 HEARTBEATS”: You can wake up.
(voice-over): The new arrivals like Kiskit (ph) often show evidence of trauma and display surprisingly human-like vulnerability.
(on camera): Oh, no. Oh, yes, I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She‘s scared and she hugs Jeff Corwin. Yes! Jeff Corwin is here in just a few minutes. Later on, hold on. We‘ll be back.
MADDOW: Liz Cheney‘s pressure group put out a new “be afraid” video today, trying to make it seem like the prospect of moving prisoners from Guantanamo potentially to a maximum security prison in Michigan that closed at the end of last month is something that horrible politicians are trying to force on this unwilling little town in Michigan.
It should be noted that in the reality-based community, it was actually the town itself, the city council in the Standish, Michigan, that voted unanimously to request to the federal government that Guantanamo prisoners be sent there. They want to keep the prison open. They want to keep those jobs.
The city manager, in fact, told reporter Amanda Erickson for “The Plum Line” today that Ms. Cheney‘s video is, quote, “certainly not representing the views of our community.” The city manager denounced the video as fearmongering. Fearmongering? Cheney, on terrorism?
“Media Matters” today also released a long montage of one trope in conservative media getting more and more use recently as a way of ratcheting up the “be-afraid” factor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Get ready to get gang-raped again, folks.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: You know, pretty much raping the pocketbooks of the rich to give to the poor.
LIMBAUGH: Obama said, “You get up there and you rape ‘em.”
They‘re going to rape us. They‘re going to bend us over and nail us, and there‘s not a damn thing we can do about it.
BECK: People in New York, you‘re being raped by your government.
MICHAEL SAVAGE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Obama is raping America. Obama is raping our values. Obama is raping our democracy.
LIMBAUGH: He‘s like a lot of other dictators, he‘s got the private sector and he thinks it‘s always going to be there to be raped.
BECK: We‘re the young girl saying, “No, no, help me,” and the government is Roman Polanski.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is the second time that I‘ve seen that last clip, and both times, I have felt unwell.
This is some of how movement conservatives and the conservative media are trying to shape the climate in which we do politics now.
Back with us: former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Air America correspondent Ana Marie Cox and FiveThirtyEight.com‘s polling expert Nate Silver.
Thank you for sticking around.
Ana Marie, this “Media Matters” treasury of rape references in conservative media—all of those were from 2009. “Media Matters” has put out a longer montage that included some older references as well. Those were just the 2009 ones.
Is this just conservative media going for it on the psychological fear activation stuff? Or is there something more complex going on here?
COX: Well, I think they‘re going for it on fear activation stuff, but I also—I mean, I don‘t think we can let this montage pass without noting they‘re saying he‘s a black man, and that there‘s a racial tension here that I find repulsive. I mean, it really—it was the second time I‘ve seen that, too. And it‘s stomach-turning. I mean, it‘s horrifying that this is part of our national discourse and we can‘t let be.
I think the good news is I don‘t think you win elections with that kind of talk. I really don‘t. The bad news is, I do think you get extremists riled up. You may not win an election but you may get some, you know, whacko out there angry enough to do violence. And it would—it will be on their heads.
MADDOW: Nate, the common political wisdom is that politics of fear, mostly around terrorism but some around war and other things, work for Republicans in ‘02 and ‘04, didn‘t necessarily work for them in ‘06 and ‘08. I think it‘s clear that the conservative movement thinks it can work for them again in 2010.
Is the common wisdom here accurate?
SILVER: Well, I think if you look what changed between 2004 and 2008,
you didn‘t have all the national security votes for McCain. And that made
a big difference, that‘d be a five point difference, five point swing all
I think they‘re making a mistake taking about terrorism and trying to drum up fears on that issue. I think kind of the tipping point was maybe during the Democratic debates when you had Rudy Giuliani characterized as kind of a noun, a verb and 9/11. I think after that, people were, like, this is still something we worry about. Especially here in New York, we think about it but not something at the forefront of our minds.
But there‘s a lot of fearmongering in other areas with respect to death panels in the health care bill, with respect to climate change, with respect to any—everything pretty much.
SILVER: Yes. Are we having rational debate or are we just having, you know, a shouting match? Emotions play a very powerful short-term role. I‘m worried as a Democrat about 2010; in the long term, maybe not.
But I don‘t know. Part of it‘s up to Obama, too, who promised to change the discourse. Maybe one of the disappointments is that he hasn‘t really. You still have the same kind of rhetoric coming from the right. And someone has to be there and say, “This is not OK, guys, to make references like rape when you‘re talking about economic policy.”
MADDOW: Is there an effective anti-fear counter point on national security terrorism and these other issues?
SPITZER: I think what the president should try to do is rise above it and be that wonderful calming voice that he was with respect to race. At that pivotal moment in the campaign when he gave his race speech, I think he changed the conversation. He can do the same thing to both the imagery and the conversation about terrorism.
And he could use the decision about the trial—the trial in civilian court in New York City and say, “Look, we did this because this is what we believe in. This is how we‘ve succeeded. We are doing everything we can about terrorism, but you don‘t need to use that rhetoric.”
I agree with Ana—I think this is a matter of the right-wing radio crazies appealing to their base. You don‘t get 50-plus-one that way. You don‘t appeal to the centrist, middle-of-the-road voters who want something calm and comforting than the anger that clearly pervades that right argument.
MADDOW: One of the—one of the real buttons, obviously, for this issue recently has been the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial being scheduled for New York City. Governor David Paterson of New York says that it was not a decision that he would have made.
He‘s your successor as governor. Do you—how do you feel about it p.
SPITZER: I‘m with the president on this. I think—and with the attorney general.
And interestingly, that there was a very good column I thought by Jim Comey, who is the deputy attorney general under President Bush in today‘s “Washington Post” where he didn‘t come out and quite say, I agree with it, but he said, look, this is a rational decision. This is the right place for the trial. It should be a civilian trial, proves that our rule of law remains intact, supreme. We will prove the case. He will be sentenced properly.
And, yes, there will be some additional security costs. The federal government will pick ‘em up. That is what we stand for.
MADDOW: OK. Nate Silver, Ana Marie Cox, Eliot Spitzer—stay right where you are. Thank you again.
It was a point of national interest when a Republican no one had ever heard of got pushed out of a race for Congress in New York by a conservative challenger from the tea party conspiracy theory world. Then it looked like it might happen to Charlie Crist in Florida, too. Well, you know, he did make nice with Barack Obama during the campaign. Maybe that‘s understandable.
But now, could it be happening to John McCain as well? The man who ran against Barack Obama is getting a very serious challenge from the fringe. That‘s next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLILP)
FMR. REP. J.D. HAYWORTH ®, ARIZONA: The illegal alien costume! Have you seen this thing? It‘s funny for crying out loud! But sure enough, the professional grievance mongers are out. You are about to hear from a representative for the Coalition for Human Immigration Rights, Jorge Mario Cabrera, and he says, this is “Muy malo,” it‘s just darn insensitive.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That charmer is former Arizona Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth. J.D. Hayworth was fringy before fringy was cool in Republican circles. In Congress, he represented a district where 60 percent of registered party affiliated voters are Republicans. But J.D. Hayworth still managed to lose that seat to a Democrat three years ago, in part because he had benefited handsomely from Jack Abramoff‘s largess and in part because it wasn‘t exactly clear that Mr. Hayworth spent all of the money from his political action committee on political action and not on Hayworth family projects.
Despite that baggage, in a potential Republican primary for U.S. Senate, J.D. Hayworth is polling within two points of incumbent Senator John McCain in Arizona. Yes, that John McCain. And, yes, that J.D. Hayworth.
J.D. Hayworth and Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox are both reportedly considering challenging John McCain in the Republican primary. They‘re trying to Scozzafava him. And I don‘t mean to imply that there‘s a correlation here, but Senator John McCain has also abandoned his previous support for the cap-and-trade climate change legislation. In the process, he has turned on his former best friends forever, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. They both support cap-and-trade.
Still with us, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Air America correspondent Ana Marie Cox, and FiveThirtyEight.com‘s Nate Silver. Thank you all for staying with us.
McCain is changing on climate change. Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota is also changing on climate change. Charlie Crist in Florida is trying to pretend he never supported the stimulus. Sarah Palin is trying to pretend she never supported bailouts.
Is this just what happens? Is this turn to the right something we will see all over the country as Republicans face primary challengers from the J.D. Hayworths of the world?
COX: Moving on to next topic.
MADDOW: We honestly can. I mean, you know John McCain well.
MADDOW: Did he not mean it the first time around on climate change?
COX: I think that what he means now is that—I think his people are worried about a threat from the right, whether J.D. Hayworth or someone else that we don‘t know. I actually, personally, doubt it‘s going to be J.D. Hayworth. I don‘t think that you get voted out of a Republican district over an Abramoff scandal and then run for Senate. I don‘t this doesn‘t seem like something that‘s going to happen.
COX: And McCain is no Scozzafava. I mean, and I mean that in the very best way possible. I think there‘s no other way you can mean that actually.
SPITZER: But your larger point I think is correct. I think that the Republican Party is looking to appeal to its hardest core base and, therefore, candidates who had been centrist, who have been trying to reach out. And McCain, to his credit over the years, on immigration, on environmental issues, had cut a different path. Now, he‘s pulling in his wings. He‘s saying, “Hey, I‘ve got to appeal to the core foundation base of this party.”
They‘re trying to create an ideological argument for themselves. They haven‘t done it yet but that‘s what they‘re scraping around for. And until they do, they will wander aimlessly doing things that we‘ve looked at as kind of crazy and reckless. But that‘s what it will look like.
COX: And it looks like—this seems like, something like, of course, they‘re doing that. But also, I‘m not sure maybe Nate can speak to this, if it‘s necessarily the smart thing to do. I mean, it‘s like—it‘s the instinctive to do to go and collect your tea party, you know, donations and whatnot. But I‘m not sure if it actually is politically smart. (INAUDIBLE).
SILVER: Well, the overlap (ph) between Republicans and conservatives now almost 100 percent where you only have a quarter of the country saying, “Hey, I‘m a Republican.” You know, there isn‘t a lot of diversity within that caucus, per se.
So, the primary threat is very real to these guys. It‘s not a bluff. We saw what happened in New York 23 where a candidate was forced out of the race. They don‘t seem that concerned about electability per se.
MADDOW: Well, does—well, is that electability true? I mean, the way we all understand it is that, Republicans, especially looking from the left - it looks like Republicans have to go so far to the right to win a primary now, especially this year, that they have become unelectable in a general election.
The conservatives, looking at it from the right wing - they do not see it that way. They think what they need is a clear distinction between them and Democrats.
ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: This is the tension always there between the purists who say, “Either you‘re with us or we don‘t care,” and those who want to win elections. The Republicans did win a lot of elections this past cycle.
Count the executive races in Westchester-Nassau County, suburban counties in New York State where, out of nowhere, popular Democratic incumbents have lost because of an uprising of independent centrist voters who said, “We‘re tired of the taxes, tired of the spending.”
And so there is another message out there that isn‘t reflected in this break to the hard right by McCain and others, but is, I think, more potent in the long run.
MADDOW: But if any of those people who won county executive races ever wanted to move up in the world, they‘re going to run up against the Scozzafava‘ing phenomenon.
SPITZER: If they‘ve been - although two to four years from now, the psychology may be, “Hey, we want to win,” and the purity - leave that to the guys over there.
MADDOW: I will tell you that when I look at groups like Firedog Lake, for example, challenging Democrats from the left on health reform saying, “We will primary you, Blanche Lincoln, if you do not do the right thing by the country and your constituents on health reform.”
I look at that from the left as an admitted liberal and say that‘s going to make Blanche Lincoln more electable because it‘s going to excite the base. It‘s going to excite fundraising and it‘s going to get national liberals excited in supporting her.
Republicans look at that and they say, “Oh, they‘re screwing Blanche Lincoln and she‘ll never get elected in Arkansas again.”
SPITZER: This is Kate Michelman‘s very powerful and effective op-ed in the “New York Times” last weekend saying, “How dare you, on the issue of choice, abandon us?”
MADDOW: That‘s right.
SPITZER: And this is, within each party, the same tension that you
will see on - you know, replayed every time you‘ve lost and -
MADDOW: Except it‘s not a mirror, because on the right there is a very well-organized, well-funded conservative movement that can effectively pull the center so far to the right that it is unrecognizable. On the left, it‘s a few blogs and Kate Michelman.
SILVER: It‘s also a bigger tent, though, right, where you have different constituents within the left and you have to make sure everyone feels like they‘re getting their kind of fair share of the cake.
It‘s a different equation, a different calculus, I would think than you have on the right. Because they‘re so small, they have lots of solidarity. That‘s the advantage to losing all the independents in the last four years.
SPITZER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not so small. Don‘t get too comfortable in believing they‘re so small. They‘re not so small. They ran the country for 20 years.
SILVER: Well, that small, if Democrats don‘t turn out in 2010, right?
SPITZER: No, that‘s a big -
SILVER: Then you might have a candidate that excites the base. If they‘re going to put turnout and sure you can nominate a Hayworth and they‘ll probably win. So Democrats have to find a way to get their base turning out, too.
MADDOW: And they won‘t do that by being centrists either.
MADDOW: Yes. Interesting stuff. All right. Hold on, you guys. Having maybe prevented the Great Depression by sparing our banking system from extinction, the Obama administration is taking renewed you-know-what for having maybe prevented the Great Depression by sparing our banking system from extinction.
I don‘t quite get it but I‘m guessing former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer does. He and Ana Marie Cox and Nate Silver are back in a moment or less, depending - we will hurry.
But first, one more thing about rampant Scozzafava‘ing in the Republican Party. The New York special election that became a national showcase for the purging of Republican moderates is over. It‘s over in the sense that Democrat Bill Owens won the seat. He was sworn in and he‘s already cast votes as a member of Congress.
As the final votes and absentees are counted, the margin by which third party conservative Doug Hoffman lost is bigger now than the number of ballots still remaining to be counted. So mathematically speaking, it is over.
Or at least it was. Monday on Glenn Beck‘s radio show, Doug Hoffman said he wanted to un-concede the race. Then Wednesday, even as the mathematical possibility of Hoffman winning vanished completely, Hoffman doubled down sending out and E-mail titled, “Stop Another Stolen Election.”
In the E-mail, Hoffman un-concedes the race in writing, asks for donations and blames the community organizing group ACORN for magically electing the Democrat. ACORN had no presence in that district and did no work whatsoever on that race.
But don‘t let that get in the way of the fundraising. If you keep it up and keep getting booked on Glenn Beck, Mr. Hoffman, you could probably milk this thing for years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN BRADY (R-TX): The public has lost confidence in this president‘s ability to handle the economy. For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: I agree with almost nothing in what you said. And I think almost nothing in what you said represents a fair and accurate perception of where this economy is today.
I can‘t take responsibility is, is for the legacy of crises you bequeathed this country.
BRADY: This is your budget.
GEITHNER: You gave this President an economy falling off the cliff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner defending himself against Republican Congressman Kevin Brady on Capitol Hill yesterday, the day Ron Paul‘s bill to open up the secret of Federal Reserve to be audited also passed, the day that the public university system in California announced it‘s hiking tuition high enough to count as an economic wedgie for the state‘s 200,000 students because California basically is broke.
I think we - yes, right now, you‘re looking at police moving in on a live - this is a live shot of police moving towards student protesters who are massed on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. Wide shot there. You can see the mass of students there. This makes me feel like saying, even on the eve of big game, “Go Cal.”
Economic pain, economic literacy and economic populism are the new normal questions for a nation coming out of the great recession right now.
Joining us once again Eliot Spitzer, former New York state attorney general and governor; Ana Marie Cox, national correspondent and host of “Inside Story” on Air America Radio; and Nate Silver from “FiveThirtyEight.com.”
Governor, you want Tim Geithner‘s head on the proverbial pike.
You have not been shy about saying it.
SPITZER: I haven‘t said it quite that way. It‘s not the image I like.
ANA MARIE COX, HOST, “INSIDE STORY”: It‘s violent rhetoric.
MADDOW: Proverbial pike. Aren‘t we coming out of the recession? And we still have a financial sector and they‘re going to wind down the bailout at some point. And we‘re getting a new regulatory regime. Aren‘t the big picture things he‘s working on going in the right direction?
SPITZER: No. Here‘s the problem. Yes, we saved the big banks from going bankrupt by giving them trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. We did not ask anything back from them in terms of reform, in terms of lending, in terms of creating jobs, in terms of reviving an economy where unemployment has gone up. Our deficit is skyrocketing. Our trade deficit is huge. The opportunities down the road are increasing.
And I said to somebody this morning, when the president went to China, China dealt with us the way a grownup would deal with a teenager who had misspent his allowance. We are in a position where if AIG was too big to fail for us, we are too big to fail for China.
They‘re financing us to ease their way out and let us down slowly. They have not come up with a way to get the economy going, nor put in place the reforms we need. And what Tim said when he was testifying wasn‘t quite accurate.
He was the one as president of the New York fed who put in place the bailouts that didn‘t work properly because we didn‘t get anything back. And he oversaw the banks when they were getting overleveraged and when the system was building up to the point where it then crashed.
MADDOW: Can we get anything meaningful that would have an effect on the economy out of the guilty parties and the people you think ought to be able to get out?
SPITZER: Absolutely. They‘re not lending. In other words, when we gave them trillions of dollars, why did we not say, you must reform mortgages? This administration didn‘t lift a finger to give bankruptcy judges the capacity to reform mortgages.
They didn‘t go to the banks to say, “In return for the trillions of dollars we‘re giving you, we‘re guaranteeing all your debt, preserving your equity. Write down mortgages.”
Fourteen percent of all mortgages are either delinquent or in foreclosure right now. Forget moral hazard. The banks have moral hazard. The borrowers have moral hazard. Right now, to get the economy going, they should have done that. They didn‘t.
They have - Larry Summers, Tim Geithner have a Wall Street perspective. Give Goldman its $12.9 billion. Read the inspector general report. It makes your skin crawl.
MADDOW: Let me have all three of you watch a very short clip. This is the CEO of Goldman yesterday at a financial forum. Goldman obviously worried about its image is being mentioned in a lot of sentences like the one you just uttered.
They‘re donating $500 million, which is roughly 2.5 percent of its bonus fund this year to small business development. Let me have you watch the CEO of Goldman here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, GOLDMAN SACHS CHAIRMAN: Listen, there is a lot of - there was a lot of negligent behavior. And I think that there is going to be. And it is warranted that there be changes in regulation that would tighten things up.
And we‘ve learned a lot or should have learned a lot - I know I‘ve learned a lot from this. And certainly our industry is responsible for things. We‘re a leader in our industry and we participated in things that were clearly wrong and we have reasons to regret and apologize for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Regret and apologize for.
COX: A teachable moment.
SPITZER: Here‘s the thing. They got $12.9 billion in the counter-party payments, three times as much as Arne Duncan has to reform our schools, one-and-a-half times as we‘re putting into our high-speed rail investments in the stimulus package.
Just one firm - they shouldn‘t have gotten at most half of it. It‘s insane the White House has not put the right people in charge of our economy.
MADDOW: In terms of the politics here, either of you, would looking at what Goldman is saying there, they‘re clearly desperate to do something, should not be seen as part of this.
The White House has exactly the same problem they do. They need to take real actions. They have bigger responsibilities than Goldman does. And they have to worry about the political blowback. What‘s the best way to put their money where their mouth is?
SILVER: I think to have a jobs program. There‘s actually extra money in the TARP fund in part because it‘s going, in some ways, better than we thought. It didn‘t totally blow up. There‘s about $200 billion.
If you put it into a jobs program, you can reduce the unemployment rate by maybe two or three percent with a well-designed, highly targeted program just to create jobs, no window-dressing or anything else. You know, that‘s what they have to do if they want to get reelected, frankly, in 2010.
MADDOW: Ana Marie, I‘m conscious of the fact that in the context of all of this stuff, there is the Ron Paul bill also passing. You see end with the fed, audit the fed, stop the stimulus and the bailouts.
You see that kind of economic populism being represented, not only at the tea parties but also, it‘s got support on the left and across the board. Is it no-nothingism? Or is there a coherent alternative (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
COX: I worry there‘s no-nothingism. I worry that at some point, it‘s sort of a financial version of the anger and the sort of violent rhetoric we were talking about before.
And I hope it can actually coalesce around something - around a real economic populism which has always been a disconnect in the conservative party. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) conservative party.
But there‘s always been a disconnected, you know, covered by Tom Frank in “What‘s the Matter with Kansas” between conservative - you know, social policy and conservative economic policy.
And it‘s a big interesting time to try and see conservatives or Republicans really embrace a true economic populism. It might have some resonance.
MADDOW: Eliot Spitzer, Nate Silver, Ana Marie Cox, thanks to all of you for being here tonight. I hope it has been about half as fun for you as it has been for me, because if it was more fun than that, there would be an explosion. Thank you all for coming in. I really appreciate it.
OK. Video of Jeff Corwin swimming in a giant pile of ocean trash, adorable cheetahs and baby orangutans and a totally newsworthy reason to show you all of that, next. I‘m not kidding. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is on a book tour. Have you heard? The Kentwood, Michigan stop on the tour was on the front page of “Huffington Post” tonight.
Look at this picture they posted. Do you recognize anyone? Sarah Palin on the left in red. And who is that being held back by the police? Our friend, the great Andrea Mitchell.
Now, Andrea Mitchell does not have to prove anything to anyone, and she will still do what she has to do to get the story. Look at her elbowing in there. Go Andrea. Go. Go, go.
MADDOW: You have seen documentarians and ecotourists swimming with sharks, right? Swimming with dolphins. You want to get right down to the nitty-gritty of threats to the planet, though, and all the various creatures in it, adorable and otherwise? Then what you really have to do now is swim with trash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF CORWIN, HOST, “100 HEARTBEATS”: I am surrounded by this ribbon of refuse. You have plastic, baby - you have plastic baby shoes. And I feel things touching up against me. There‘s glass, plastic bags, human refuse.
Just imagine the impact that all of this waste - the hundreds and hundreds of tons of it floating just behind me - how this waste impacts the ecosystem and the wildlife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, it‘s Jeff Corwin, our guest in just a moment. His future earth documentary “100 Heartbeats” tracks down the biggest threats to the species that we, as a planet, are most in danger of losing forever.
One of those threats is dumping trash in waterways that flow right into the ocean. Another - fair warning, this is slightly upsetting - is that we poach and trade endangered animals on the skeevy, skeevy black market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORWIN: This is a rice paddy turtle. It looks alive. You feel like you just sort of helped this creature out. In fact, it‘s been boiled. These are geckos right here. These are tokay geckos. These lizards have been freshly gutted.
That‘s the head of the soft shell turtle. That‘s the head of the soft-shell turtle. There‘s the eyes. There‘s the snorkel. There‘s the mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeff Corwin, the host of “100 Heartbeats” joins us now here in the studio. Jeff, congratulations on this film.
CORWIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the last upsetting footage that we just saw. Illegal trafficking in endangered animals like that. I mean, it‘s illegal. Can it actually be stopped? Are these laws enforceable?
CORWIN: They are enforceable, but it‘s very important that we recognize where there are people breaking the law, selling these materials, slaughtering wildlife out in the wilderness, there are people buying it.
So you have to deal with the consumption, as well as the aspect of the black trafficking itself. It‘s a huge industry. I don‘t think people really recognize how insidious the black market trade of wildlife is. It‘s a $20 billion a year industry. It‘s second only to the narcotics and arms trade.
MADDOW: And dealing with the consumption side of it is both PR and criminal law?
CORWIN: It is. And basically, animals are killed for the black market trade for a number of reasons. One, for the bush meat trade. Bush meat is consumed around the world. It‘s consumed as subsistence food for poor people.
And it‘s consumed as prestige meat as well. So you‘re having a big banquet and your daughter is getting married and you want some fancy endangered species for dinner.
It‘s also as a result of animals that are slaughtered for the medicinal trade. Rhino horns, ivory, various other animal parts, tiger bones, tiger fat - all these animals are killed. And these parts are harvested and sold in the black market trade for medicine and also for the ornamental trade.
For example, a rhino‘s horn used as a sheathe for a sword in Yemen or Africa. It‘s a big, big deal. It‘s a big (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But what‘s very important to remember is that it‘s only one element that leads towards extinction. It works in tandem, in partnership with habitat loss and climate change and human population growth.
MADDOW: Well, especially on the issue of habitat loss, when I think about the endangered species fights that have gotten a lot of attention in my lifetime. I grew up in northern California.
And I remember all the spotted owl jokes about the pacific northwest. The way that they are caricatured and really represented popularly is that it‘s endangered species protected at the cost of human jobs.
It‘s either economic development or it‘s preservation. It‘s humans versus animals. We‘re heading into a very rough economic time right now. We‘re already in one that‘s going to keep getting rougher for a while.
What‘s the other way to frame this argument to make the case that it‘s worth it to protect these animals?
CORWIN: It‘s actually - for me it‘s an easy argument. If you look at the fact that one out of every 20 jobs is directly impacted or connected towards helping the environment, whether it‘s commercial fisheries or logging.
For example, you could look at the logging industry, which was very much wrapped around the spotted owl campaign. Today, spotted owls are the least of their problems. It‘s the pine beetle, destroying both wild, protected and commercial forest, both redwood and other sorts of confers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
What happens is, because of climate change, the winters aren‘t cold enough. And this beetle, which would normally die off, is now overpopulating. That‘s why when you see this footage, you see what should be an intact forest, and it‘s all blighted and brown. It‘s from this beetle.
We know from climate change that, already, our seas are up by seven inches. Our atmospheric temperature is up by one degree Fahrenheit. And if this melting continues, what people don‘t realize is that 70 percent of our family‘s glaciers have receded by 60 percent.
And all that water has to go somewhere. And if the present
melting of glaciers stays on course - for example, the Arctic right now is
losing about 10 percent every year. If that continues on course, we could
have a rise in sea level of 27 inches. You think how that -
MADDOW: Talk about changing the world.
CORWIN: Yes. I mean - and with regard to the economics, if you‘re someone who worries about economics, if you worry about business and you worry about money, you better be concerned about climate change because climate change will truly impact that.
The outdoor recreational industry is a $750 billion a year industry and that will be hugely impacted by climate change.
MADDOW: “100 Heartbeats” was a year in the making, seven countries, four continents. If you had to give up your job right now, which is admittedly a very cool job, and you were going to instead join one of the people who you met on this adventure who‘s doing heroic work to save animals that are endangered, who would you go work with?
CORWIN: It‘s a hard choice to make. It‘s like I have two children and it‘s like picking my favorite child, which I have one but I‘ll never let her know. Uh-oh her. I‘ve got two daughters, two daughters, so it‘s OK.
You know, it‘s really hard. I began this project, “100 Heartbeats,” out of a paper I read when I was in college, when I was a graduate student. I read this - I don‘t know if you‘ve ever heard of E.O. Wilson. He‘s the iconic scientist. He‘s my idol.
And he wrote this article in the early ‘90s about the “100 Heartbeat Club” that would someday live in a world where there could be just 100 individuals or less and we laughed about it.
And now we‘re there. There was the inspiration to write the book. And then MSNBC sent me on this incredible year-long journey. You know, there was Lori Markham(ph), my friend with the cheetahs.
She was there to tell me the story, where a cheetah had been killed by a rancher and her belly was undulating and they cut open the belly. And there were two cubs that survived.
But for me, I would say it‘s frogs. I began my career - my dad was a Boston cop and we lived in a Tridecca(ph) and he took me out to look for frogs. And to be able to tell the plight of these incredible creatures in this documentary, to give them importance as much as a cheetah, it was a privilege.
MADDOW: Jeff Corwin‘s documentary “100 Heartbeats” premieres in high definition as part of NBC‘s Green Week on Sunday at 8:00 Eastern only on MSNBC. I‘ve seen it. It‘s awesome. Jeff, congratulations again.
CORWIN: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: To round up the week, a quick, yet oddly compelling cocktail moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA): With apologies to that great Italian American Dean Martin.
(singing) When the trash piles up high, reaches up to the sky, no amore. Roman nuclear waste, will it come to the states to be dumped. It may come, 20,000 tons, 20,000 tons. Utah says, “That‘s no bella.” We don‘t want that imported junk, that imported junk, hold on fellas. Excuse me, NRC, we and old Tennessee say, no more-ay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ed Markey of Massachusetts bursting into song to make his point at House Energy and Commerce Committee markup hearing on the Radioactive Deterrence Act, where, apparently, they always sing like that.
Thank you very much for watching our weird, weird show tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Until then, E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend. Good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>