The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/24/10
HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. I will admit to
spending some time with that video on my computer today.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is so great.
MADDOW: It‘s good stuff. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
You know, every day, when we pick our lead story for the show, we look
for what we as THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW believe is the most important news in
the country. And for the second day in a row, I think I speak for the
staff of the show and myself in saying that we can‘t believe that this has
to be the lead story.
Today, we learned that the FBI and local authorities are now
investigating threats made against a Democratic congressman named Tom
Perriello of Virginia, who has been a guest on this show before. Mr.
Perriello was a last-minute vote for health reform when it came before the
House on Sunday night. As a result of that vote, a pair of health reform
opponents posted what they thought was Tom Perriello‘s home address online.
They sarcastically encouraged people to, quote, “drop by and express your
thanks for the Congressman Perriello‘s vote.”
But the address that they posted online was actually that of
Congressman Perriello‘s brother, who then discovered that a propane gas
line leading into his home had been cut.
When one of the bloggers who posted that wrong address online was
informed that the address he‘d posted was for the congressman‘s brother and
not the congressman himself, the blogger responded by saying, quote, “Do
you mean I posted his brother‘s address on my Facebook? Oh, well,
That gentleman is now professing to be shocked about the severed
propane line, saying he just wanted people to, and I quote, “get close to
Authorities are now investigating that incident, the cut line, as an
attempted threat to a member of Congress.
Then there‘s Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan, who went
from being opposed to health reform on the grounds of abortion to
supporting health reform after the president agreed to sign an executive
order concerning abortion rights. Well, today, Mr. Stupak released
threatening phone calls that he says he received once it became known that
he was going to vote for health reform.
Little bit of a warning here, we have bleeped the worst parts of it,
but the language used in these phone calls we‘re about to play for you is
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: Congressman Stupak, you baby killing
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) you turncoat (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I hope you bleed out
(EXPLETIVE DELETED) got cancer and die (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You do not—
you do not say that you‘re a pro-life and then for a few bucks, you know,
turncoat and hurt the country, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I hope you die.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: You are a bastard and a baby killer. You
will rue the day you did this, Mr. Stupak. You are a disgusting man, and I
hope you‘re haunted the rest of your living days. Because you won‘t be a
congressman much longer, so you are a dirtbag, and the country loathes you
and God, bastard that you are. We think you‘re a devil, and you will go to
your grave with this on your conscience. Was it worth it, selling your
UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: Stupak, you‘re a low-life baby murderer,
scumbag pile of steaming crap. You and your family are scum. You ought to
fill your pockets and jump into the Potomac, punk. That‘s what you are,
Stupak. You‘re a piece of crap. We despise you and every punk like you,
(END AUDIO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Congressman Stupak says he referred about 50 threats like
those to the Capitol Hill police.
Among the first to be physically threatened in conjunction with the
health care vote was Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York.
Some time last Friday, a brick was thrown through the window of her
district office in Niagara Falls, New York.
Today, Congressman Slaughter spoke publicly about that incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D), NEW YORK: I have three offices. Niagara
was the only one we were really concerned about. One is in a federal
building which has guards. The other is in a building in downtown Buffalo
which has guards.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are members concerned about the multiple
SLAUGHTER: No, of course, they are. I think it‘s a dreadful thing
that we‘re going through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Members of Congress, in fact, are so concerned that the
number two and number three Democrats in the House gave a press conference
today, an impromptu press conference, saying that there are more than 10
members of Congress who say they have been threatened in recent days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel that your members are really at risk
in terms of their security?
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. I think that we‘ve
had very serious instances that have occurred over the last 48, 72 hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, how are you dealing with that? What actions
are you taking?
HOYER: Well, we have the Capitol Police just briefed members. If
they are in any way suspicious or fearful or see actions occurring, to
report those immediately, and the Capitol Police will respond and try to
determine whether crimes have been committed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Among the members of Congress who have reported receiving
threats because of the health care vote is Democratic Congressman John
Boccieri of Ohio. Mr. Boccieri told NBC News today that his district
office in Canton, Ohio, has received a number of threatening phone calls in
Yet another Ohio congressman has also received threats about which we
now have some new detail. He is Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus. In
the lead-up to the health reform vote over the weekend, health reform
opponents have placed a newspaper ad against Congressman Driehaus in the
“Cincinnati Enquirer.” The attack ad was a photo of the congressman with
Both the “Cincinnati Enquirer” and the group that ran the ad
ultimately apologized for having done that.
After that, other anti-health reform bloggers posted not only
Congressman Driehaus‘ home address online, but also directions to his
house. Mr. Driehaus reports that he and other members of Congress have
been receiving death threats in recent days. And now anti-health reform
protesters say they‘re planning to protest at Congressman Driehaus‘ home on
Sunday—at his home. Not his office, not out in public somewhere where
they can be seen in order to make their case, but at his house, where they
can try to personally intimidate him and his family.
Congressman Driehaus lives in the Cincinnati area, not far from one of
the offices where a rock was thrown this weekend through the window of a
Democratic Party office.
John Boehner, the top Republican in the House represents a nearby
district also in Ohio. In an interview with the “National Review” before
the health reform vote, Mr. Boehner warned Congressman Driehaus directly
not to vote for health reform. Mr. Boehner told the “National Review” and
I quote directly, “Take Congressman Steve Driehaus, for example. He may be
a dead man. He can‘t go home to the west side of Cincinnati.”
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus of Ohio.
Congressman Driehaus, thank you very much for coming on the show
tonight. I appreciate your time.
REP. STEVE DRIEHAUS (D), OHIO: Sure. Thanks, Rachel. Nice to be
MADDOW: It is not possible for me to believe that Minority Leader
John Boehner meant that comment about you as anything other than a
metaphor. It‘s not possible for me to believe that. But I have to ask if
you have raised the issue with him about the way he—that language that
he used to talk about you?
DRIEHAUS: I did, I approached Congressman Boehner on the floor
yesterday. Like you say, he said, you know, he didn‘t mean it that way. I
told him I didn‘t take it that way.
However, it‘s not really what he meant or how I take it. It‘s how
some crazy person in Cincinnati or a crazy person in Indiana or Kentucky
might take it and might act upon it.
And I think Congressman Boehner, as a leader in the House, should step
up and take responsibility. You know, these words matter and he should
take responsibility for those words.
MADDOW: You made some broader comments today, not just about the
threats that you received, but about the relationship between threats like
those and the rhetoric that‘s being used in politics broadly right now.
What do you—what do you think that relationship is? Do you think
that it‘s possible that a climate is being created by political rhetoric
that‘s just making threats like these more likely and more threatening?
DRIEHAUS: Yes. I mean, this is very, very inflammatory language.
And people look to their political leaders for signals. And when you have
people taking to the floor of the House, when you see them, you know,
quoted in the paper using irresponsible language, using threatening
language, those are signals. And you only have to look at what was going
on on Sunday just outside the Capitol, some of the threats being made
against members as they walked around, to know that this is a pretty
dangerous environment. It‘s a very tough environment.
And so, when I hear people, you know, threatening that they‘re going
to organize protests and come to my house, you know, my wife tells me that
she‘s not letting the kids answer the phone anymore and not letting the
kids walk down the street by themselves—you know, I take this very
MADDOW: Are you and your family concerned about the protest that‘s
planned at your—at your house this weekend? Are you doing anything to
prepare for that?
DRIEHAUS: I don‘t know if that‘s going to materialize or not. We‘ve
been in touch with the Cincinnati police. They‘ve been wonderful. They‘ve
been sending folks, you know, by the neighborhood. You know, a squad car
was in front of the house this—today for quite some time.
But, you know, I don‘t want the Cincinnati police using their
resources looking after me. They should be guarding the neighborhood.
They should be going after criminals. And I just think it‘s unfortunate
that the political discourse here has gotten as bad as it has. I think
that‘s in part because of some of the rhetoric you hear on the floor.
MADDOW: You know, it‘s—I feel like I understand that argument that
you‘re making very clearly. I think that making inciteful and charged
rhetoric can very easily create a climate that is more threatening than
otherwise. What I wonder, though, and I honestly don‘t know, is if members
of Congress, if other people in leadership positions have the same capacity
to dial it down. I don‘t know that there is any real equivalent of un-
inciteful language. I don‘t know if they have the capacity to calm it
Can you—can you un-ring that bill?
DRIEHAUS: Well, I would hope so. I think, if John Boehner gets out
there and goes down to the well and tells people to tone it down, if he
apologizes for the statements he‘s made and the statements some others have
made, I think that would go a long, long way, if they just tone down the
rhetoric. But today, he issued a statement and he just politicized it. He
said we should be working toward a majority and stop, you know, focusing on
violence or, you know, he rejects violent behavior.
You know, he needs to own this problem because he‘s part of it. And
so, I think the members need to understand that their words matter, their
actions matter, and they need to ask their supporters to tone it down.
MADDOW: One last question for you, Congressman. I know the Capitol
Hill Police—Capitol Police have briefed members of Congress about
security. Every member of Congress I‘ve ever talked to about Capitol
Police have great faith in their abilities.
Can you tell us anything about either advice that the Capitol Police
have given you or any way that they‘ve reassured members about security
steps they‘re taking?
DRIEHAUS: The Capitol Police have been fantastic. I think the
members here know that they‘re in good hands with the Capitol Police, and
we feel perfectly safe around here.
The Capitol Police did a great job this weekend with some of the
protesters that were getting a little out of hand. But you know, we‘re
I‘m far more worried about my family back home, and the families of
other members back home. You mentioned Tom Perriello‘s brother—you
know, this is the stuff we‘re facing and I think, you know, there‘s reason
to be concerned.
MADDOW: Congressman Steve Driehaus, Democrat of Ohio—thank you
very much for your time today, sir. I‘m sorry you‘re going through this.
DRIEHAUS: Thanks. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: All right.
So, if you set a brush fire, you are responsible for where it goes and
what it burns, right? A pretty well-accepted criminal law precept in
America. The current climate of threat and intimidation is getting its
fuel from some specific political leaders. Up next: a reminder of the
potential consequences of actions like those.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We have experienced this level of political intimidation and
political threat in this country before in our recent history. A reminder
that no one really wants to be reminded of, but we‘ve got to do it. Next.
MADDOW: As we‘ve reported, the number two and number three House
Democrats, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, gave a statement today about
physical threats of harm to members of Congress, including the severing of
a gas line at the home of one congressman‘s brother, after anti-health
reform groups posted that address online, mistakenly believing it was the
address of the congressman‘s own home.
After Mr. Hoyer‘s and Mr. Clyburn‘s initial statements to reporters
today, there was this one really interesting exchange that took place with
one of the reporters there. I want—I want you to hear this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hoyer, you said at the outset that you hoped
you could use this—make this message jointly with the other side of the
aisle. Have you spoken to leaders on the other side of the aisle? Are you
trying to work with them?
HOYER: We have spoken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was the—what was the outcome of that
HOYER: It wasn‘t an outcome per se, but there was an agreement that
the sentiments I‘ve just expressed are appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there going to be a joint statement? Are you
HOYER: Well, I don‘t know that to be the case, but we‘re continuing
to discuss appropriate action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you disappointed that they didn‘t come out
earlier and say something?
HOYER: No, we‘re continuing to discuss this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What Steny Hoyer is essentially saying there is that
Democrats had a bipartisan discussion with Republicans about this issue of
threats to members of Congress. And then, as you can see from that event,
only the Democrats convened a press conference to talk about having any
concerns about it.
Now, House Majority Leader John Boehner did go on FOX News Channel
today, and he said this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: There are a lot of angry
Americans and they‘re angry over this health care bill. They‘re angry
about the fact that the Democrats here in Washington aren‘t listening to
them. But I‘ve got to tell you that violence and threats are unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, don‘t be too unequivocal there, Mr. Boehner. Make sure
you get in the dig that Democrats deserve all the anger before you distance
The number two House Republican, Eric Cantor, also commented today
saying, quote, “No one condones that kind of behavior where you threaten
people, where you hurl racial epithets or spit on someone, that‘s
“No one condone that‘s kind of behavior.” Well, what was actually
going on while members of Congress were having racial epithets hurled at
them, while they were being spat on? Because those aren‘t theoretical,
those things actually happened. That happened at the Capitol building this
weekend, and how did Republican members of Congress treat that crowd on the
lawn of the Capitol that was doing these things that Eric Cantor says no
one was condoning.
This is what those members of Congress were doing. They were egging
them on. They are taking the signs that the crowd was using, they were
waving them on the balcony of the Capitol.
Republican California Congressman Devin Nunes was asked afterwards
about what protesters did this weekend, the congressman excused that
behavior as the result of he called, quote, “totalitarian tactics by
Today, Republican Darrell Issa, also of California, also excused the
behavior as the result of, quote, “bought votes,” in what he called a
If you go to GOP.com right now, this is what‘s up at GOP.com on the
front page. We didn‘t doctor this. This is actually the front page of the
Republican Party‘s Web site and has been for more than two days now. It‘s
Nancy Pelosi on fire. Fire Pelosi.
Here is the chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, speaking
last night on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: This November, they‘re going to pay.
So let‘s start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Let‘s get Nancy Pelosi ready for the firing line.
I don‘t bring this up because I think it makes Michael Steele and
Republicans look bad. The importance of this is not about political
consequences for this at all. I mean, if there‘s one thing we know in
politics, is that there really is no shame. So, it would be dumb for me to
bring them up—bring this stuff up just because I thought it might have
political consequences if they felt ashamed of it.
This isn‘t about politics. This isn‘t about political consequences.
It‘s about real-life consequences and our real-life country and our real-
life modern history, and it is serious.
As we talked about last night, on April 19th, the anniversary of the
Oklahoma City bombing and the siege of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco,
and the opening battle of the American Revolution on April 19th, the modern
day anti-government movement is trying to get as many people as they can,
openly carrying firearms to get as close as they legally can to Washington,
It‘s a “bring your guns to Washington” rally held on the day that‘s
essentially militia movement Christmas. It‘s the anniversary of Timothy
McVeigh‘s crime on Oklahoma City most recently.
As we discussed on last night‘s show, one of the featured speakers at
this event is the Alabama ex-militia leader who lives on government
disability checks who is lapping up the national attention right now for
having called for people to break windows at Democratic Party offices all
around the country.
Back in 1995, on the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing, just after
the explosion, a member of Congress named Steve Stockman, Republican of
Texas, was sent a fax touting the bombing. He was sent that fax by
somebody in the militia movement. Mr. Stockman later turned that fax over
to the FBI. He was never implicated in any way in the bombing itself, but
there is a reason that the militia movement trusted a member of Congress
enough to go to him with that.
Mr. Stockman had, for example, written an article in “Guns and Ammo”
magazine, proclaiming that what happened at Waco was a government
conspiracy to, quote, “prove the need for a ban on so-called assault
weapons.” Mr. Stockman peddled conspiracies that he got from the militia
movement about the government planning a takeover, the government planning
attacks, paramilitary attacks on American citizens. This sounded all
Helen Chenoweth was a Republican member of Congress from Idaho at the
time. Helen Chenoweth was famous for convening hearings about her
fantasies of communism in the government and government overreach.
A gentleman named Sam Sherwood of the United States Militia
Association bragged of providing the volunteers that got Helen Chenoweth
elected to Congress. Mr. Sherwood was invited to testify at Chenoweth‘s
hearings—despite the fact Mr. Sherwood had been quoted saying, “Go up
and look legislators in the face because some day you may be forced to blow
Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman, both members of Congress, neither
of them obviously bombed that federal building in Oklahoma City. They did
not do what Timothy McVeigh did. But what they did in politics back in the
early and mid-‘90s helped create and nurture the environment that led to
what happened on April 19th, 1995 in Oklahoma City.
Timothy McVeigh emerged from a movement that was promoted and nurtured
and encouraged by a lot of things. But among those things were some
radical members of Congress.
This isn‘t theoretical. This isn‘t play-acting. This isn‘t a bell
that you can ring for political effect and then un-ring once it gets scary.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Thomas Jefferson said, a
revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean,
And really now in Washington I‘m a foreign correspondent on enemy
lines. I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: If I could start a country with a bunch of
people, they‘d be the folks who have been here standing with us the last
KING: Let‘s hope we don‘t have to do that. Let‘s beat that other
side to a pulp. Let‘s take them out. Let‘s chase them down. There‘s
going to be a reckoning.
I think if we‘d abolished the IRS back when I first advocated it, he
wouldn‘t have a target for his airplane. And I‘m still for abolishing the
IRS. It‘s sad that the incident happened down in Texas. But by the same
token, the IRS is an agency that‘s unnecessary. And when the day comes
that that is over and we‘ve abolished the IRS, it will be a happy day for
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Saying what he‘s saying there at the end, where you can see
him moving his lips but not saying is, “This November, they‘re going to
pay, so let‘s start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November,”
referring to Nancy Pelosi.
Words matter, right? Actions have consequences. But in politics, as
in everything—with leadership comes responsibility. I do not want to
lead with this story again tomorrow night. I hope I don‘t have to.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Do you remember with the stimulus how a whole bunch of
Republicans not only voted against it, but they trashed it, they said it‘s
bad for America, it wouldn‘t create any jobs, it was a complete waste of
money? Then they went back to their home districts and bragged about how
the stimulus was so great for their district.
Remember the blatant hypocrisy on the stimulus? Well, boy, it didn‘t
take long for the same thing to happen on health reform. The ink on the
bill isn‘t even dry yet and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is
already a stimulus-style hypocrite on health reform. Senator Grassley not
only voted against health reform every step of the way, he also denounced
health reform in some of the craziest ways that health reform was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA: And there‘s some fear because in the
House bill, there‘s counseling for end-of-life. And from that standpoint,
you have every right to fear.
When you couple this with all the other fears that people have and
what they do in England, then you get the idea that somebody‘s going to
decide grandma has lived too long.
I‘ve been told that the brain tumor that Senator Kennedy has, because
he‘s 77 years old, would not be treated the way it‘s treated in the United
States. In other words, he would not get the care that he gets here
because of his age.
We should not have a government program that determines you‘re going
to pull the plug on grandma.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That‘s some of the choicer things that Chuck Grassley has
said about how bad and evil and murderous health reform is. But now, Chuck
Grassley has sent out a press release taking credit for provisions in the
health reform bill and talking about how great they are, even though he
voted against the bill.
So, he—to be clear—voted against the thing he‘s taking credit
for. Senator Grassley simultaneously is vehemently opposed to and very
proud of health reform. And he‘s apparently not embarrassed by these two
sides of his face being at war with one another.
Close on Chuck Grassley‘s heels in the race for the ought-to-be most
embarrassed about health reform award today is Senator John Barrasso from
Wyoming. Mr. Barrasso made this allegation about Democratic Congressman
Jim Matheson of Utah this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO ®, WYOMING: In Utah, a member from Utah who
voted on the bill, you know, he was against it and then he was for it. And
what a coincidence that his brother just got named to be a federal judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s what‘s embarrassing about that, Sen. Barrasso. You know
the guy you‘re sliming and saying voted for health reform in some dodgy,
corrupt, quid pro quo? Does it matter at all to you that the guy that
you‘re sliming here didn‘t actually vote for health reform?
Does that affect your argument in any way? Or is that immaterial?
According to Sen. Barrasso‘s spokesperson, Mr. Barrasso misspoke on this
There is one portion of health reform that has not passed yet. In
order to try to stop that, Republicans are now essentially trying to shut
down the Senate. Watch this clip. Watch what happened this morning. This
is in the middle of a hearing on homeless U.S. military veterans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the HUD studies sponsored by HUD and in the VA
studies as part of the chronic homelessness in issue in 2003, that 85
percent housing civility number is the same number that the researchers
that conducted those studies found.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I‘m very sorry, but I
must interrupt this hearing here. Committees are allowed to meet while the
Senate is in session based on the unanimous consent of the members. And
this is a standard procedural agreement that is always permitted. However,
there‘s been an objection on the floor to allowing most committees,
including our committee, to meet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Starting at around 11:00 this morning, in an action, that will
have no effect on health reform whatsoever, Republicans have just decided
to shut down Senate hearings on pretty much everything, not because they
object to what‘s happening in those hearings, but because they‘re just mad.
Hearings that were already under way, like the one about homeless vets
you just saw. Hearings that were already underway were interrupted,
stopped dead in their tracks. Hearings not had not started yet had to be
canceled including, for example, one on our military policy toward North
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would note that this unanimous consent request is
supported by my ranking member, Sen. McCain. We have three commanders
scheduled to testify this afternoon. They‘ve been scheduled for a long
They‘ve come a long, long distance. One of them has come from Korea.
One of them has come from Hawaii. And I would, therefore, ask unanimous
consent that this previously-scheduled and currently scheduled hearing of
the Committee on Armed Services be allowed to proceed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not impressed, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there objection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not impressed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator from North Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a member of the committee and I side myself with the
chair and the ranking member that I have no personal objection to
continuing. There is objection on our side of the aisle, therefore I would
have to object.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Senator Richard Burr of South Carolina bravely
objecting on behalf of some other guy he decides not to name. It‘s
definitely not himself. He‘s totally not the one who wants to obstruct the
Armed Services hearing on our military stance toward North Korea for which
our military have traveled from places like Korea and Hawaii.
The confirmation hearing from Goodwin Liu, the president‘s nominee to
serve on the largest federal appeals court in the nation was also canceled,
as was a homeland security subcommittee hearing on contracts for Afghan
national police training, not to mention hearings that were also stopped
yesterday by Republicans, including an energy subcommittee hearing on the
causes of western forest fires that was called off, and a homeland security
subcommittee hearing on government transparency.
That was shut down right in the middle of it, shut down in progress.
Welcome to the shutdown the government pout rage phase of the Republicans‘
opposition to everything.
Joining us now is Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio who has been
busy voting all night. Senator, thanks for breaking away from the Senate
floor to with us. Really appreciate it.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH), HEALTH AND EDUCATION COMMITTEE: Glad to. They
tried to do the same thing. We were doing the markup in the Agriculture
Committee of the Child Nutrition Act. And several people didn‘t get to
Sen. Bob Casey who had some good amendments with Sen. Gillibrand and
me and some others on summer feeding programs and school breakfast
programs. We were not even allowed to be offered because the time clock
It‘s - these children - I mean, children. I‘m not talking about the
kids with child nutrition. I‘m talking about the children that are
blocking these, and nobody - just like kids, nobody‘s taking personal
Sen. Burr was like, “It‘s not me. I‘d really like to stay, but I
can‘t do it because it‘s those people downstairs in the big room that are
saying no.” I mean, it really is outrageous. Anything to obstruct,
anything to slow down - that‘s what they‘re doing tonight, straight
downstairs from where I am.
That‘s they way they‘re playing this. To them, it‘s a game. To the
American public, they want health care. They want this done. They want us
to focus on jobs and do this right.
MADDOW: In terms of those hearings, did you know that this tactic was
coming? Do we know if these hearings are going to be rescheduled? Do we
know how long the shutdown is going to last?
BROWN: we heard about an hour into the hearing that that‘s brought into
our - ours was markup where we were doing amendments. We heard about an
hour in that we only had another hour to do this.
I had four amendments. Two of them I offered were accepted. The
other two I did not offer partly because of the time squeeze. I saw that
happen with Sen. Casey and it could happen with others.
I mean, it‘s just child‘s play and it‘s childish. It‘s not child‘s
play. And I don‘t get it. I mean, it‘s - this whole period for the last
year of health care, education, all the kinds of things we‘re doing.
They‘re just - any way to delay and obstruct and slow down and throw sand
in the gears and every other mixed metaphor I could use.
MADDOW: In terms of the voter-rama on the Senate floor right now, which
you say downstairs from where you‘re sitting right now, can you explain to
our viewers who may not be familiar with voter-rama except as a term that
sounds like a joke? What‘s actually happening and what will be
accomplished by the time you guys wrap tonight?
BROWN: Nothing is going to be accomplished because the Republicans want to
make one change in the reconciliation bill so it has to go back to the
House so they can try to slow it down there. And then there‘s a conference
committee and all that.
We know the House and the Senate - we all worked out the
reconciliation package. They sent it to us. We need to pass it, get it
out of here quickly so this bill is finalized.
So they‘re offering all kinds of them. One amendment that was
particularly interesting was they offered an amendment to lower student
loan interest rates.
The Republicans? I mean, they‘re always on the side of the banks.
They‘re trying to block us from taking the money from bank subsidies, which
they wanted to do, and put it directly into student loans.
And now, they‘re acting like they‘re on the side of the students. I
mean, it‘s all - it‘s all - you know, in the end, you follow the money with
this crowd. You knew what they - they tried to block health care because
they were - because the insurance companies are one of their biggest
They‘re trying to block the student loan direct lending because the
banks are one of their biggest benefactors. And they‘re wrong. The public
knows they‘re wrong. They want to confuse people with these amendments.
It‘s their same old game. I mean, the public is more and more
starting to be onto it. That‘s why when I hear people say this is going to
be such a bad year for Democrats, they‘re wrong, because the public is more
and more catching on to what they‘re doing, to their hypocrisy about all
They criticize us on budget deficits. They ask tax cuts for the rich,
didn‘t pay for them, a war that cost $1 trillion - didn‘t pay for it. Give
away to the drug and insurance companies and Medicare - didn‘t pay for it.
Took on huge surplus, turned it into a huge budge deficit during the Bush
years, as you know, Rachel.
MADDOW: Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, I know that you are getting
yanked right now to go back and do more voting on these - on these
amendments downstairs. Thank you for taking time to join us tonight.
BROWN: My pleasure.
MADDOW: I appreciate it, sir.
BROWN: Thanks for what you‘re doing, Rachel. See you.
MADDOW: Thank you. OK. So the deal with Sen. Scott Brown and me is this.
I am not running against Scott Brown for Senate in Massachusetts. I am
Nevertheless, he sent out a fundraising E-mail implying that I was.
Then today, he doubled down on the whole “Rachel Maddow is running against
me” thing, even after I said I‘m definitely not running against you, dude.
Senator, good luck in your primary race, OK? I want to wish you good luck
in your primary race because the Easter Bunny‘s imaginary existence and
purported candy-giving practices are simply wrong for America. I stand
MADDOW: Check out this tease from the Pentagon spokesman about something
that is about to be announced but hasn‘t been announced yet about “Don‘t
Ask, Don‘t Tell.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the secretary made a decision on the more humane
application of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell?” And if so, when will it be
BOB GATES, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He is - I think - I think
Jeff - he is prepared to offer a way ahead on that subject this week. So
stay tuned. Hopefully, you‘ll be seeing him later this week and can
address the changes that he is going to be making to the department‘s
policy to provide for more humane enforcement and application of the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A more humane enforcement and application of the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t
Tell” law. According to multiple reports today, what we are due to hear
from Secretary Gates tomorrow is that until the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” ban
is repealed, in the meantime, the Pentagon will stop separating people from
the Armed Services if those people are outed against their will by a third
Now, if indeed this is what Secretary Gates is going to announce, a
few big questions remain. Will the policy only be changed from here on
out? Or will it apply to people who were outed by third parties whose
discharges are now pending?
Spencer Ackerman at “The Washington Independent” reports that a source
has told him that while the change won‘t apply retroactively, it will apply
to ongoing active cases.
Now, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW have a particular interest in
that because that means that this change could presumably include the case
of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach who has been a guest on this show several
If the change is as Spencer described, this change would not affect
the case of Maj. Mike Almy. Maj. Almy was kicked out of the Air Force, you
will recall, a couple of years ago after he was also outed by a third party
against his will.
If this change is - that‘s due to be announced tomorrow, is as
expected, it sounds like Maj. Almy would not now be allowed to rejoin the
military as a result of this policy change.
And of course, what does this mean for brave men and women like Lt.
Dan Choi who was not outed by anyone but who came out himself so he
wouldn‘t have to lie anymore? How long until the whole policy isn‘t just
softened but ended?
And do the people who have been kicked out under “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t
Tell” in the past get to come back to their old jobs? That Gates
announcement tomorrow morning is a big important one. Watch closely. We
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Congressman Barney Frank on the
escalating tones of violence against members of Congress who vote health
care reform. But first on this show, Scott Brown, Republican senator and
user of me to scare money out of donors. Today, he said publicly to “bring
her on,” meaning bring me on.
I‘m not running for office against Sen. Scott Brown. Nobody ever
asked me to. But if he insists, I will indeed bring it on in my non-
elective capacity. Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: Last night, I found out that Republican Senator Scott Brown of
Massachusetts is using me to raise money for him. He sent out this
fundraising letter, quote, “Friends, the political machine in Massachusetts
is looking for someone to run against me. And you‘re not going to believe
who they are supposedly trying to recruit - liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel
“Rachel lives in western Massachusetts and recently it was reported
that the chairman of the state Democratic Party had apparently tried to
reach out to her in an attempt to coax her into a race against me. The
Democratic Party bosses in Massachusetts disagree - “ blah, blah, blah.
“They want to rubber stamp who will vote for their plans to expand
government, increase debt and raise taxes, someone like Rachel Maddow. I‘m
sure she‘s a nice person. I just don‘t think America can afford her
liberal politics. Rachel Maddow has a nightly platform to push her far-
left agenda,” blah, blah, blah.
So Sen. Scott Brown is using a rumor, a rumor he didn‘t even bother to
check to see if it was true, to get people into giving him money. It turns
out he is sending this out of state conservatives.
He is using, as the lawyers say, my name and likeness to raise money
for himself, which would be flattering if I were actually running against
him. But since that is completely made up, it feels more like it‘s just
gross and harassing.
So here‘s today‘s new news on this very weird saga. Sen. Brown‘s
office never called me to ask if I was running against him. They could
have just called. I would have told them no. They didn‘t call. They just
sent out the letter.
When I saw the letter, I made clear, on TV even, that I am not
running. I never said I was running. The Democratic Party in
Massachusetts never asked me to run. I‘m not running. So Scott Brown is
But he‘s still trying to run against me even after all that. He went
on talk radio on WAAF in Boston today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE RADIO HOST: I wanted to ask you about another topic
which is Rachel Maddow who says that you sent out a fundraising letter
saying she was going to run against you. And we have some audio from her
actually which I‘ll let you hear.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R-MA): Yes. No, I listened to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE RADIO HOST: OK. She said she is not running for office
and that you didn‘t ask if she was running before sending out the E-mail.
SCOTT BROWN: Well, I didn‘t realize I had to.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Why bother finding out if something is true if it makes for
good fundraising material anyway?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN: With all due respect, I‘m going to continue to fight and do
my job and work hard to do just that. And bring her on. I don‘t care.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bring her on? Bring what on? I‘m not running against you. I‘m
not running for anything. You made this up.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN: Bring her on.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bring her on. Bring on this - Scott Brown is my senator. Isn‘t
this weird? Sen. Brown not only didn‘t call to check any rumor before
raising money off of it. He won‘t come on this show to talk about this
His Senate office is refusing to even return our phone calls. And
this is legitimately surprising to me. They are apparently not going to
retract the letter that they‘ve sent out all over the country saying I‘m a
terrible, awful, far-left rubber stamp person who is running against him
even though it is not factually true.
I mean, I may be an awful person like he says but I‘m not running
against him. I‘m really not. I never was. Apparently, they are just
going to leave this letter out there and keep trying to raise money off it
on talk radio and all the rest of it even though it‘s not true.
When I found out today that Scott Brown‘s office is refusing to talk
to us, refusing to make the senator available to come on the show to talk
to me - he would just rather talk about me - and that they‘re refusing to
retract the untrue thing they have said about me for fundraising purposes,
I got this idea.
I decided I should do a robocall to my fellow Massachusetts residents
to let everybody in Massachusetts know that whatever they are hearing from
Scott Brown is not true. He‘s making this up.
It turns out - I didn‘t know - that is against MSNBC rules. They
won‘t let me do the robocalls, which I totally understand. So anyway, I‘m
going to make a few calls right now because I‘m not a robot, right? Make a
few calls right now to some folks in the Bay State just to set the record
OK. Here we go. I‘m going to use the script that I wrote that they
wouldn‘t let me use for the robocalls.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello.
JONES: Oh, Rachel.
MADDOW: I‘m Rachel Maddow. I host a TV show at MSNBC weeknights at 9:00
pm. I live in western Massachusetts in the beautiful towns between North
Hampton and Pittsfield. This week, our new senator, Scott Brown, sent out
a fundraising letter to try to tap the same out-of-state conservatives who
funded his Senate campaign.
The letter says that I‘m going to run against him 2012. And since
I‘ll be so awful for the country, those conservatives in North Carolina or
Texas or wherever, should send him more money.
Do you remember when Mitt Romney ran for president after being our
governor and he went around the country talking about how awful
Massachusetts was? Well, to have our new senator raising money around
country by saying how awful one of his Massachusetts constituents is kind
of feels the same way to me.
I‘m not running against Scott Brown. I‘ve never said I‘m running
against Scott Brown. Massachusetts Democrats never talked to me about
running against Scott Brown. But Scott Brown doesn‘t care about that. I‘m
his constituent and he didn‘t have the decency to call and ask me if what
he is saying is true before he smeared me around the country to raise money
It is standard now for conservatives to invent boogie men to run
against. The supposed death panels, the fake controversy about the
president‘s birth certificate. I guess Scott Brown is going to be one of
the politicians who make stuff up to raise money instead of dealing with
I‘m Rachel Maddow and I paid for this call, not because I‘m running
against Scott Brown - I‘m not - but because I think he is being a creep
here. And maybe this will make him think twice the next time he wants to
smear one of his constituents to raise money out of state.
My show airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern in Massachusetts on MSNBC. So far,
Scott Brown refuses to come on. Maybe he‘ll change his mind. I hope he
does. Thank you for listening.
Never done that before. I think it went really well. I wonder if
Scott Brown is going to have the decency to call me back.
MADDOW: In just two weeks‘ time, if you are in the Minneapolis area, you
may get the opportunity to attend a fundraising party for Republican
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Her special guest will be half-term governor and one-time Republican
vice presidential nominee and who is now social networking maven, Sarah
At that fundraiser, for the low, low prize of just $10,000, you could
have the opportunity to get your photo taken with both Michele Bachmann and
Sarah Palin. $10,000. Or as we first pointed out on this show last week,
you could always save your $10,000 and just instead spend 20 minutes or so
Photoshopping yourself into a picture with them instead.
It is a suggestion that one of Michele Bachmann‘s political
challengers is running with. Minnesota State Senator Tarryl Clark is
seeking the Democratic primary nomination for the seat that‘s currently
held by Michele Bachmann.
She has put up a new Web site called “My $10,000 Photo.” For the low,
low price of absolutely nothing, you can make your own picture with
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former half-term governor Sarah Palin.
Some people just posed with Palin. Some people posed with Palin and
Bachmann. Some people posed with their entire posse. I like this one.
Still others have used the Web site to make even better photos.
Here is Sarah Palin giving the thumbs up to a wolf hunter. Here is
Michele Bachmann touching God in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Even Sarah
Palin with the man whose country she can see from her house - a neighborly
wave at the Russian communist, Vladimir Putin.
And State Senator Tarryl Clark is not the only one encouraging
Photoshopping. We, on this who, you might recall, asked for your efforts
for the better part of the week or so.
Here is what some of you came up with. Robin Gordon sent us this
“palling with Palin” shots. Eric Witts channeled Jim Henson for this.
Jess Idres(ph) offered up this one. Nice. Please do keep them coming.
Two last things - two things I said wrong tonight. First, Senator
Richard Burr is from North Carolina, not South Carolina. And John Boehner
is minority leader - duh - not majority leader. I‘m sorry I messed those
up in tonight‘s show. I will beat myself with a big horrible tree branch
for an hour penance. I‘m sorry.
OK. That does it for us tonight. We‘ll see you again tomorrow night.
Until then, our new blog again - MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com. “COUNTDOWN” starts
right now. Have a great night.
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