The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/29/10
HOST: Good evening, Keith.
My biggest worry about doing that story is how I‘m going to get
through it without turning beet red and passing out from embarrassment.
OLBERMANN: Don‘t do what we did. Do not use the term. Turn the
other cheek, end point in this discussion.
MADDOW: Keith, it is so good to have you back. Miss you.
OLBERMANN: It is my joy to be. And all the best, my friend.
MADDOW: Thanks. You too.
Thanks to up at home as well for tuning in tonight.
There are some incredible political news tonight, including as Keith
said, what your donation to the RNC these days is buying you.
And the expiration of President Obama‘s patience with the Senate
Republicans. We‘ll have Ana Marie Cox here at this hour and Chris Hayes of
“The Nation.” Both will be joining us.
But we begin our coverage tonight with a startling indictment of nine
U.S. citizens—nine U.S. citizens who are now facing charges of planning
and preparing for war on the United States government. All are alleged to
be members of a Christian-oriented, Michigan-based militia that—in the
words of the Justice Department—was conspiring to levy war against the
United States and to oppose by force the authority of the government of the
Now, even though nine militia members have been indicted, you will
notice that there are only eight mug shots in this image. That‘s because
the ninth member of this militia who was indicted is believed to still be
on the run tonight. He is the 21-year-old son of the self-styled leader of
Now, investigators say that all of those indicted are members of the
something called the Hutaree militia in Southern Michigan. They were
swooped up over the weekend in a series of surprise raids conducted by the
On Saturday night, FBI agents swarmed a rural, wooded property in
Adrian, Michigan, that‘s believed to be the home of the Hutaree militia‘s
leader, a man named David Stone. As that raid was happening, FBI agents in
Ohio simultaneously raided two homes there and arrested a pair of Hutaree
militia members. Law enforcement members in Hammond, Indiana, were raiding
yet another home, arresting one militia there.
The Hutaree are apparently a known militia in Michigan. The FBI says
they‘ve been following this group for a long time now.
What does the word Hutaree mean? Well, according to prosecutors, they
say it means nothing. They think it‘s just a made-up word that these
militia members ascribed to their group because they thought it sounded
religious. They wanted to be thought of as Christian warriors.
If you go to the Hutaree Web site, it‘s clear that this is a religion-
based group. The group says it‘s preparing to fight the anti-Christ. It‘s
peppered with theological statements about rapture. And right underneath
the picture of the militia members posing with their guns on the front page
of their Web site, is this quote, “Preparing for the end time battles to
keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”
The Hutaree logo is inscribed with the logo CCR. According to their
Web site, that CCR stands for “Colonial Christian Republic.” I can‘t help
you with the colonial part of it.
Now, the Web site contains a bunch of military-style training videos.
According to the wife of one of the men who‘s been arrested, the group
would go out into the woods and train on survival skills about once a
month. One of the videos they have posted shows the group setting fire to
a United Nations flag, a symbol of what they believe is a coming one world
Now, the Justice Department indictment says the Hutaree viewed local
and state and federal law enforcement officials—all as their enemy.
They refer to all law enforcement officers as “The Brotherhood.” One of
the men who indicted today, Joshua John Clough appears to be the author of
a Web post from earlier this month in which he warns, quote, “If you are
currently a cop, you are the enforcement arm of the enemy. Don‘t try to
kid yourself otherwise.”
And this obsession with police that the Hutaree apparently hoped would
help them make their big splash. The FBI alleges that Hutaree members
discussed a number of possible scenarios in which they would kill a police
officer in order to set off what they hoped would be a larger chain of
According to the indictment, they discussed killing a member of law
enforcement after a traffic stop. They discussed killing a member of law
enforcement and his or her family at their home. They discussed ambushing
a member of law enforcement in a rural area. They also allegedly discussed
luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then
killing that officer when he or she arrived on the scene.
Once they managed to kill a police officer, their alleged plan was to
wait for the police officer‘s funeral. And then they would ambush the
large number of other law enforcement officers who would be expected to
attend that funeral.
Investigators say the plan was to attack law enforcement vehicles
during the funeral procession using homemade bombs. The militia would then
retreat to designated rally points which would be protected with trip-wired
IEDs, improvised explosive devices.
According to the Justice Department, quote, “It‘s believed by the
Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more
widespread uprising against the government.” That was apparently the goal
here, sparking some kind of civil war to overthrow the U.S. government by
As I noted before, the FBI has had its eyes on this group for a long
time. A local Detroit news station, Local 4, is reporting that the FBI had
infiltrated the group for several months. Well, if the FBI had infiltrated
them, that may explain why these militia members were arrested now.
Investigators say the Hutaree were planning to strike some time very
soon, some time next month. Sometime in April, Hutaree members were
allegedly planning what‘s described as a covert reconnaissance exercise
that they had been training for for months now. They were reportedly
planning to stake out a police gathering that was set for April.
The U.S. attorney in Michigan is saying that the group had decided
that if someone, some random member of the public, stumbled across the
group during its reconnaissance exercise, that person could be killed. So
they were arrested, presumably now, in order to avert that planned attack.
The militia members who are arrested over the weekend and the ninth
who remains a fugitive right now, were charged today on a total of five
counts. One count of seditious conspiracy, one count of attempting to use
weapons of mass destruction, one count of teaching and demonstrating the
use of explosive materials, and two counts of carrying, using and
possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
That first charge, seditious conspiracy, is one of the first charges
that landed the Blind Sheikh, Abdel-Rahman, in jail for life back in 1995
after the first World Trade Center bombing. At the time, “The New York
Times” described seditious conspiracy as a, quote, “obscure 19th century
law that makes it a crime to conspire to overthrow, or put down, or destroy
by force the government of the United States.”
Interesting thing about seditious conspiracy, you don‘t actually have
to be caught actively trying to wage war on the United States in order to
be found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Planning it, conspiring, even if
you don‘t do anything about it, is enough to be guilty of that.
One of the other interesting charges here is teaching and
demonstrating the use of explosive materials—two of the nine defendants
are facing that charge. Federal law makes it illegal to teach or
demonstrate to any person the making or use of an explosive, a destructive
device or a weapon of mass destruction, knowing that such person intends to
use the teaching in furtherance of an activity which constitutes a federal
crime of violence. In this case, that federal crime of violence was this
militia‘s alleged intent to wage war on the United States government.
I also have to tell you—this has broken right this second, while
I‘ve been talking to you. We have just learned from the “Associated Press”
that the FBI has apprehended the ninth member of this militia who—as of
the start of me talking about this moments ago—was still on the run.
The date line on the “A.P.” story on this is Wheatland Township, Michigan.
But again, the last of the nine militia members charged with plotting
to kill police officers and charged with seditious conspiracy to wage war
on the government of the United States has been apprehended after a search
in a rural part of Michigan.
Joining us is Ed Brayton. Ed Brayton is the state editor for “The
Mr. Brayton, thanks very much for joining us tonight. I appreciate
ED BRAYTON, THE MICHIGAN MESSENGER: Good to be back with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: As you‘ve just heard, we‘ve just had word that the last of
the nine suspects in this case has been apprehended. Had you ever heard of
this Hutaree militia group before these arrests were announced over the
BRAYTON: I had not. You know, we have a lot of militia groups in the
state of Michigan. Of course, the Michigan militia became famous during
the Oklahoma City bombing and the aftermath of that in the early ‘90s. But
we‘ve got about 11. The Southern Poverty Law Center says we have 11
militia groups in the state. And Hutaree is not one that I‘d ever heard
And, in fact, I find it hard to say it without giggling. It sounds
like the Hekawi tribe from “F Troop.” And I sort of keep waiting to see
Larry Storch‘s mug shot in one of these pictures.
MADDOW: It is a strange combination of obscure and scary. You look
at the details, for example, that they‘ve posted on their Web site about
the different ranks that they give to one another and all these made-up
words that sound like they‘re straight out of a “Calvin & Hobbes” strip,
and then you‘ll realize, oh, they‘re actually plotting to kill police
officers and they have advanced weaponry and they‘re doing military
training, and they‘ve been charged with incredibly serious crimes. Sort of
hard to know—I guess, how to contextualize them on the seriousness
BRAYTON: Yes, I think we have—in our minds, we sort of think of
these people as just, you know, going out on the weekends and playing
dress-up and playing army. But clearly, some of them are very serious
about this and we need to keep an eye on them. There‘s a reason why the
FBI is infiltrating these groups because they really can be very dangerous.
MADDOW: I know that you‘ve spent a lot of time since these arrests
have been announced, digging into all the tracks of these groups online.
Of all the different militia groups that are out there, are you noticing
anything that is unique or different about this one? Obviously, the first
one that jumps out is the theology being so front-and-center with them.
BRAYTON: Yes. You know, when you look at these militia groups, they
all have one thing in common, and that is that all across the nation, they
all believe that there is an inevitable war coming and a lot of them refer
to this as a “second civil war,” a war with the government, and they all
believe we are inexorably leading toward that day. That that day is
imminent, that we‘re going to have that war.
Now, there‘s a certain faction of these groups that also believes that
war is going to be a race war, and that‘s sort of the KKK-Aryan Nation
Now, this group does not appear to be one of those. This group, in
fact, sort of chased off one of those people from their message board. Two
of the men who have been arrested actually sort of chased him off, someone
who came to their message board spewing anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric.
They don‘t appear to be part of that group.
But what is unique about them is the religious element to this, that
they believe that this inevitable war is a war against the anti-Christ, a
war against Satan. And that it will be the cataclysmic event that will
sort of hasten the return of Christ, after which—as you mentioned in
your introduction, they will establish this “Colonial Christian Republic.”
That‘s what makes this group sort of stand out from the rest of them.
They‘re sort of the wingnut‘s wingnuts, if you will.
MADDOW: I understand members of this militia sought the help of some
other Michigan militia members during this raid. And as you say—I mean,
Michigan has had a lot of militia activity. Timothy McVeigh and Terry
Nichols famously attended at least one militia event before the Oklahoma
City bombing. There was a Michigan militia member who was arrested on
machine gun charges. There was a shootout in which a Michigan state police
officer lost his life not that long ago.
What‘s been the reaction from the other militia groups in the state to
these arrests and to that call for them to help?
BRAYTON: Well, the local militia groups apparently do not like this
group at all, neither do the national ones, by the way. The local militia
groups sort of don‘t want this group to play in any of their reindeer
games. At least one of the members of the Hutaree was apparently kicked
out of another militia group right in that area, the Southeastern Michigan
Volunteer Militia, which is right in that same area, Adrian, Michigan,
where they‘re from.
And apparently, according to the spokesman for that group, a couple of
the Hutaree members went to one of their people, one of their leaders in
that group and asked them to hide them. And they said, no. They turned
them down and sent them away.
And in fact, there‘s also been some indication that one or two of
these groups may have been helping the FBI track them down. I don‘t know
exactly what they‘ve done, but there is at least some indication that they
have been helping the FBI.
MADDOW: Ed Brayton is state editor for “The Michigan Messenger”—
thanks for helping us flesh out some of the reporting on this incredibly
strange, weird story tonight. I really appreciate your time.
BRAYTON: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the FBI raid on the Hutaree militia is, as they say, it‘s
weird. It‘s a scary and fascinating story on its own merit. But, as much
as the religious cult details about this group make them seem unique and
bizarre and not like other militia groups, even, it turns out that their
theology isn‘t really all that unique. If you scratch beneath the surface
of the story, it‘s actually worse than it first seems. Details about the
apocalyptic militia terrorism arrest that you have not heard anywhere else
still to come on the show this hour.
And, if you donate money to the Republican Party, you have been
supporting way more than you probably thought you were. The incredible
story of what the RNC allows as reimbursable expenses and the incredible
survival tale of Mr. Michael Steele. Ana Marie Cox joins us for that.
It‘s all coming up.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: As soon as I heard about this weekend‘s arrests of the
Hutaree militia, I immediately wanted to talk to our next guest. He‘s Chip
Berlet. He‘s a senior analyst for Political Research Associates.
He has written extensively about right-wing populism and militia
movement, the Patriot Movement, and the apocalypse fetishists among us.
He‘s been doing this for a very long time. He was one of the few people
calling attention to the armed militia movement in this country before the
Oklahoma City bombing in 199 5.
Chip Berlet, it‘s very nice to have you on the program. Thank you for
CHIP BERLET, POLITICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES: Thank you.
MADDOW: What we are learning about the religious beliefs of this
militia group makes them seem a little bit like a—like a cult, like a
stand-alone religious oddity. But some of the things that they‘re obsessed
with, fighting the anti-Christ, the avoiding the mark of the beast, the
pre-tribulation rapture, all these stuff, this isn‘t a set of beliefs that
is specific to this one cult—these beliefs were actually sort of
characteristic of a broader movement, aren‘t they?
BERLET: Well, it‘s kind of hard to call it a cult. If you‘re talking
about Americans who believe that the end times is an upcoming historic
event, you‘re talking about 30 percent to 40 percent of the American
population religiously believes that the end times are coming. And of
those, probably 15 percent of the population believes it will happen in
This is the story line of the “Left Behind” series of books by Tim
LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Seventy million sold in the U.S. So, this is
actually a pretty widespread belief system among a certain group of
Christian fundamentalists in the U.S., and there are a lot of them.
MADDOW: Have we seen the sort intersection of very extreme anti-
government politics? And in this case, anti-government, if you believe the
indictment, strategizing and plotting, have we seen the convergence of that
and the sort of apocalyptic theorizing and wanting to fight the anti-
Christ, looking out for the mark of the beast—are these two things that
have gone together before in Modern American history?
BERLET: Sure. In the mid-1990s I attended a Patriot gathering where
there militia organizers and there was actually a debate about whether the
need to arm yourself against the coming collapse was a secular, economic
one, or the end times battle with the anti-Christ. And bear in mind that
just a few months ago in New Jersey, 30 percent of the Republicans in New
Jersey said that they either believed or thought it possible that Obama was
MADDOW: Chip, when you look at this group, again, this—they are a
group that is the rest of the militia movement is very quickly trying to
distance themselves from them.
BERLET: Of course.
MADDOW: Other militia groups in Michigan were saying, “We have
nothing to do with these guys. We‘re helping law enforcement. We‘re not
like them at all.”
What—how credible are those claims? How much do you see the rest
of the militia movement, the rest of the Patriot Movement represented in
what these guys were doing?
BERLET: Well, the Patriot Movement is fairly vast, like—the Tea
Party movement is part of the Patriot Movement. You have everything from
black conservative Republicans to armed white supremacists in this large
kind of dissident gathering that‘s been brewing out in the country. So, of
course, the more middle-of-the-road militia guys are going to say, oh, this
But this confluence of apocalyptic belief and the battle of the end
times with the militia movement certainly was very strong in the ‘90s, and
there are other militia groups out there that are built around this end
times, apocalyptic viewpoint.
MADDOW: Are—in the groups that we‘re seeing now—are we seeing
the remnants of the groups that did exist in the ‘90s? Did those groups go
away entirely or have they just been sort of fallow for a decade and we
didn‘t know about them while—even though still existed?
BERLET: Well, mostly they‘re new. Some of the original folks are re-
involved. But to a large extent, the militia movement was pretty much gone
by 1999. It had fairly well collapsed.
And what we have now is this fact that the Patriot Movement, this
Americanist, nativist kind of movement, appears periodically throughout
U.S. history. And once in a while, it gets really, really large. And then
the question is, what form does it take? So that, right now, we have a
settling out occurring, so that there are some people who are moving
towards the Republican Party, and then there are some people moving towards
MADDOW: Obviously, the groups moving toward armed insurrection are
the ones that worry us the most because of the proximity of the potential
for violence here.
BERLET: Oh, yes.
MADDOW: One of the things that struck me in the indictment today,
Chip, was there appears to be some effort by the members of this group who
were just arrested to coordinate into a larger national effort. The
indictment describes a planned February summit of militia groups, possibly
convened by the leader of this Hutaree militia. It doesn‘t seem to have
happened. But that‘s occasion for which David Stone is alleged to have
tried to assemble four bombs, four IEDs.
Should we worry about national coordination among other groups that
might otherwise seem disparate?
BERLET: It is very hard to organize this kind of dissident movement
into a national organization around one ideological goal because we have
the Christian right, we have the economic libertarians, we have the anti-
immigrant nativist, and we have just average taxpayers who are fed up, and
trying to get them to form an actual coalition on a national level is
unlikely. The Tea Party is having a hard enough time with some of the just
I think the danger is that, the more that right wing media demagogues
and opportunistic Republicans egg these people on, the more likely it is
that little cells will form and carried out acts of violence on their own
without a national organization.
MADDOW: Chip Berlet, senior analyst for Political Research
Associates, for a long time, one of the foremost researchers and thinkers
in this field—I really appreciate your insight, Chip. Thank you.
BERLET: Thank you.
MADDOW: OK, conservatives, it‘s almost 9:30 p.m. Do you know where
your donations to the Republican National Committee are? They might be
anywhere paying for anything. We‘ll be joined by Ana Marie Cox in just a
I do give you one last update, though, on the story about the Hutaree
militia. We‘ve just received further details from the “A.P.” in terms of
what‘s happened, the FBI says, again, the last of these nine people
arrested—nine people charged with plotting to kill police and seditious
conspiracy, the ninth person they were looking for has finally been
apprehended—about 8:00 p.m. tonight at a home in Hillsdale County,
Michigan, about 30 miles from the site of this weekend‘s raid, this young
man, 21-year-old Joshua Stone.
He was in a house with five adults and a child. They were there
willingly. They were not being held hostage.
Mr. Stone was the only suspect not arrested in the raids. He is now
We‘ll keep you posted if we get further details. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: It‘s been a tough couple of years to be a Republican Party
donor. People who give money to the Republican Party have learned the hard
way in the last two years that their donations helped pay for things like
over $150,000 worth of clothes, hairstyling and accessories for Sarah Palin
and her family during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Republican donations were also spent by Senator John Ensign to put his
mistress‘s teenaged son on the Republican Party‘s payroll for something
described as “research policy consulting.” I mentioned the kid was a
teenager at the time. And that he got taken off the payroll once Senator
Ensign stopped sleeping with his mom.
Today, more news on what your donations go to when you give to today‘s
Republican Party. The conservative Web site the “Daily Caller” published a
story on the Republican National Committee‘s spending disclosure records.
In the last month alone, the RNC spent more than $17,000 of its donors‘
money on private planes, more than $12,000 on limousines, and over $15,000
at the Beverly Hills hotel and the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. That‘s all
in one month.
But in these disclosures of what the Republican Party spent its
donors‘ money on last month, what‘s getting the most attention is not the
most expensive item on the list. What‘s getting the most attention is one
line item from February 4th that‘s classified under meals. It‘s just under
$2,000. It‘s at a place called Voyeur West Hollywood. And Voyeur West
Hollywood is—is kind of a—it‘s a naked lady place.
In the words of “The Daily Caller,” it‘s a bondage-themed
nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating - never mind. While
Federal Election Commission filings confirm the RNC spent nearly $2,000 in
one night at the club in question, the RNC says it wasn‘t Chairman Michael
Steele who personally was there.
They say it was a political consultant named Eric Brown who
expensed the trip to the strip club, telling “The Hill,” quote, “The
chairman was never at the location in question. He had no knowledge of the
expenditure, nor does he find the use of committee funds at such a location
at all acceptable. Good reporting would make that distinction crystal
clear. The committee has requested the moneys be returned and the story be
corrected so that it is accurate.”
In other words, the Republican Party‘s push back on this story is
not that they didn‘t spend almost $2,000 of Republican Party donors‘ money
at a bondage strip club. Their pushback is that, while the party may have
spent almost $2,000 at a bondage strip club, Michael Steele personally
didn‘t spend $2,000 at a bondage strip club.
And yes, they approved the reimbursing someone‘s expenses for the
bondage strip club. But now that a story has been written about it,
they‘ve changed their minds about approving that.
Somehow, despite that incredibly persuasive defense, there are
still Republican Party elders responding to the story by calling for party
chairman Michael Steele‘s resignation.
Bob Dole‘s former press secretary told “The Huffington Post” that
this, quote, “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you
are giving to a political party your hard-earned money, you should have no
doubt it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled,
egocentric, out-of-touch chairman with frivolous luxuries which is out of
reach of the vast majority of the American people.”
I don‘t know if it‘s frivolous. While it may seem tempting to
fire up the Michael Steele resignation countdown clock right about now, it
remains true that Michael Steele has survived so far. Michael Steele has
survived day one of the Republican National Committee bondage strip club
And assuming he keeps on surviving it, you can just add it to the
list of remarkable things that have not resulted in the resignation of
Michael Steele yet, like the time he published a book that he billed as the
blueprint Republicans should follow to win back power.
He did this without telling any of the actual elective leaders of
the Republican Party that he was writing this book. Then he went on a book
tour to promote the book, all while supposedly also running the RNC.
There was also the gracious manner with which he responded to the
outcry over the book thing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I am in this
chair. If they want it, take it from me. Until then, shut up, step back,
or get in the game. I hope you play this tape over and over again, because
these folks are the problem. They‘re not the solution. Get with the
program. I‘m the chairman. Deal with it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Then there was the scandal over Mr. Steele marketing himself
for paid speeches around the country even though what he supposedly paid to
do as RNC chairman is give speeches around the country.
Or there was that time, not long after he became chairman, when
he told “The Washington Times” of his plan to apply the party‘s principles
to urban-suburban hip-hop settings. Or, when early this year, about 11
months before Election Day, he said this about his own party‘s chances in
the 2010 midterms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: Do you think you can take over the -
do you think Republicans -
STEELE: Well, they can‘t. Not this year. And Sean, honestly -
HANNITY: You don‘t think so.
STEELE: Well, I don‘t know yet because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) candidates.
We still have vacancies that need to get filled. But then, the question we
need to ask ourselves is, if we do that, are we ready?
HANNITY: Are you?
STEELE: Are we - are we ready?
HANNITY: Answer your own question. Do you think they are?
STEELE: I don‘t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The guy in charge of devising a winning strategy for his
party not only predicting they will fail in the elections but saying he
doesn‘t know if the party‘s really ready to win on the elections now
But what better place to really get down to business and plan a
new strategy for winning in the fall than the tropical paradise of Hawaii?
That is where Mr. Steele scheduled the RNC‘s winter meeting this year,
defending the move as not a cheap way to turn a working trip into a
vacation, but rather as a clever plan to hold a meeting in Obama‘s
Then, of course, Mr. Steele redesigned the party‘s Web site
which, when it was unveiled to much fanfare, included a page of “Future
Leaders” that was blank. Also, it had a handy feature by which you could
attach a “GOP.com” banner to any other Web site like, say, “sex.com, like
we did because we‘re incredibly immature.
But if you‘re a Republican or a Republican donor, don‘t forget
what Michael Steele says to people from his party who have the nerve to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEELE: I tell them to get a life. And I‘m telling him and I‘m
looking him in the eye and say I‘ve had enough of it. If you don‘t want me
in the job, fire me. But until then, shut up, get with the program, or get
out of the way.
All I‘m saying is, cut it out. You don‘t see the Democrats
running around, you know, trying to beat up their national chairman or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, frankly I have no idea how long Michael Steele has
left as Republican Party chairman. But neither do you. None of us can
understand this. This is so much bigger than any of us.
Anyone who still has his job after all of those things I just
described is obviously really, really good at one thing, indisputably,
really good at one thing. And that one thing is keeping this job.
Joining us now is Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for
“GQ” magazine. Ana Marie, very nice to see. Thanks for being here.
ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “GQ” MAGAZINE: Good to see
MADDOW: Am I just being naive? Are major parties always spending
money on strip clubs? Is this normal?
COX: Well, I don‘t know. They may be doing that, but they usually
don‘t put that on the FEC filing. When I talked to people from both
parties who have worked in national committees and also in state
committees, the first thing I heard from everybody was how did that wind up
at an FEC report?
That‘s where you should stop. That‘s a very JV move to have it
get all the way to an FEC report. So that would be my first concern. But
Rachel, I have to tell you, in general, we are very fortunate. We are
going to have Michael Steele to kick around for a while longer.
MADDOW: Do you think he‘s impermeable, that this stuff just rolls
right off him?
COX: Well, no, not necessarily. It‘s just that it‘s not a good time
for him to step down. Also, he won‘t step down as you can tell from those
quotes that you played. And apparently, it‘s really difficult to get him
out of there.
To fire him requires something like 70 or 80 members of the
delegation, the national committee to call for a special session and then
to call for a vote of no confidence on him.
And that‘s probably not going to happen in part because people
don‘t want - they don‘t want this to go away. The GOP has enough problems
right now. I believe you‘ve covered some of them.
And I think that also why get rid of him now when there‘s
probably going to be a really convenient time to get rid of him in
MADDOW: Well - but if you look at the way these scandals have
unfolded, I mean, the last couple in particular, it really seems like
information is being leaked by people inside the party to conservative news
I mean, the last two big Michael Steele scandals have been Tucker
Carlson‘s Web site and “The Washington Times,” a super conservative paper
in Washington. So it seems like they‘re trying to force him out without
doing it out in the open, doesn‘t it?
COX: I guess I would draw distinction between conservative
publications and Republican publications.
COX: Both “The Daily Caller” and “The Washington Times” are proudly
conservative although Tucker Carlson - your friend and mine - is more
libertarian. But his publications tended to be on the right side of
Right now, it‘s a very cool thing to be a conservative who‘s
against the Republican Party. And I think there might be some of that
going on right now. The Republican Party itself is not popular with
anyone, including conservatives. And so I think that‘s why you‘re seeing
some people go after it in these conservative publications.
MADDOW: But to see all these former Republican Party chairmen - those
are the kind of sort of people - you know, Reagan-era former chairman
himself coming out and saying, “I want him to resign.” How do you explain
COX: They‘re not very relevant anymore and this is a good way for
them to feel like they‘re relevant. When I talk to people who are really -
I don‘t know if I talked to real insiders but people who are going but
closer to the center of power right now. No one seems that concerned about
Steele leaving right now.
I think that there are some people that will be happy to see him
go in November when there‘s kind of a natural break for him to go. And
also, it‘s good news for you and I to just keep pumping up the expectations
for the Republicans in November if we want to get rid of Michael Steele.
But if we don‘t want to get rid of him, we should downplay the expectations
much as he has.
MADDOW: Well, do you think - I mean, there‘s the threat of Michael
Steele leaving and the turmoil that would mean for the Republican Party if
he was forced out or if he did resign right now.
There‘s also the threat of him staying and stuff like this
keeping happening. I mean, what would it take for Michael Steele to
resign? Isn‘t this scandal sort of getting close to that?
COX: Well, I don‘t know. I‘ve been calling him the Joe Biden of the
Republican Party. I mean, he seems to be able to just mess up and because
it‘s such a hilarious screw-up, we all let it slide, although not to say
that anything Joe Biden has said has been sort of on the scale that this
And then, indeed, the people that I talked to in the Republican
Party who are concerned were much more concerned about the expenses at the
hotels and the jets and the limos than they were about this one strip club,
although it is probably the funniest expense I‘ve ever seen, except for - I
know I sent this to you - the Congressional liquors expenses that they did
as well - $200 at Congressional liquors.
Obviously, there has to be a specific place called Congressional
liquors. Otherwise, where would you go?
MADDOW: I want to know how many bottles $200 at Congressional liquors
would buy you. I just want to know what they‘re drinking.
COX: That‘s a really good question. Probably not what I drink.
MADDOW: That would be a lot of bottles.
MADDOW: One last question for you. We know that donors have sort of
publicly threatened. Then, again, this stuff has been in “The Washington
Times,” in this conservative publication. Donors have threatened to stop
giving money to the RNC. Is there evidence that that‘s actually happening
or is that just a threat to push Steele?
COX: Well, I don‘t know about those large donors although obviously,
the large donors that have come out and said they won‘t do it. They have
stopped giving, but as again, your friend and mine, Dave Weigel, who has
pointed out the RNC is doing very badly in the recent past and that money
is not going to them.
The money that is really sort of moving right now is going to the
tea parties. It‘s going to places like Jim DeMint‘s organization. The RNC
is not able to sort of reap the profits of the sort of rabid anti-Obama
fervor that‘s out there.
And I think that‘s a real disappointment to them. And I think
that a lot of the missteps that Michael Steele has made and that the
Republicans have made have been attempts to try and get on that bandwagon.
And they just haven‘t been able to do so in a way that really starts
churning that money.
MADDOW: Ana Marie Cox, Washington correspondent for “GQ,” thank you
so much for joining us. It‘s nice to see you.
COX: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. Still to come, I somehow have to get from the awkward
story about Republican Party strip club expenditures to the awkward story
of what New Jersey is now auctioning off for spare change. I predict that
I will blush. Coming up.
MADDOW: Coming up, the combination of Saddam Hussein, public art,
theft, Photoshop, and Michael Jackson, like we do every night. You know,
that old thing.
But first a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.
Have you ever heard of a sovereign wealth fund? Sovereign as in sovereign
country. Wealth fund as in giant pile of money. A (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with a
ton of cash lying around might form a sovereign wealth fund just to use it
as a savings account essentially or to invest around the world.
It turns out that there are a lot of countries around the world
that have a ton of spare money lying around. And some of their sovereign
wealth funds have grown to be enormous, like hundreds of billions of
At least we think so. The handy thing about a sovereign wealth
fund is they‘re essentially totally unregulated. They don‘t have to
disclose anything about themselves to anyone so we don‘t really know how
big they are.
That said, it‘s believed that the biggest one in the world is the
one in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. You can see its outsized
headquarters here. The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is thought to be
somewhere between $300 billion and $800 billion.
It‘s run by the younger brother of the president of the United
Arab Emirates, or at least it was. The head of the world‘s largest
sovereign wealth fund, the brother of the president of the United Arab
Emirates, is missing.
On Friday, apparently, he was a passenger in a glider that
crashed in morocco. The pilot survived, but the head of the Abu Dhabi
Investment Authority has not been found. The glider he was riding in
apparently crashed into a man-made lake at the site of one of Morocco‘s
Again, the pilot found, but the guy who heads the sovereign
wealth fund, not found. A search for him has been underway now for three
days, including rescue teams from Dubai, and from France and from Spain all
So far neither the government of the United Arab Emirates nor
their sovereign wealth fund nor the missing man‘s family have said anything
at all about what‘s happened. Very strange story. We will keep you posted
if and when we can report anything further.
Back home in the United States, there are 15 state attorneys general
who have said that they will sue the federal government to stop health
reform. But just because the state attorney general thinks that‘s a good
idea does not mean the whole state is on board with that idea.
Washington, Michigan, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, for example,
are four states where the attorney general wants to sue, but the governors
of those four states think it‘s a dumb idea, a waste of time and money.
Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington, Jennifer Granholm of
Michigan, Bill Ritter of Colorado and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania have all
now written a joint letter to the Federal Justice Department disavowing any
connection to the lawsuits and pledging to help the federal government
Quote, “on behalf of citizens of our states, we write to let you
know that we oppose the actions of the state attorneys general. We believe
their legal efforts will fail in court, unnecessarily delay the urgent need
to get our citizens access to health care and waste our state tax dollars.
As you prepare and deliver your defense of this landmark legislation, you
have our commitment to work with you at your request to assist in this
To be fair, it‘s not just the governors who think the anti-health
reform lawsuits aren‘t going to be successful, it would take a minor legal
miracle for them to be successful. And even in the event of that miracle,
these lawsuits still wouldn‘t nullify health reform.
Worst case scenario, they would force only minor, non-substantive
changes to the law. Still, though, I mean, states right now are so awash
in spare money. Why not waste a bunch of taxpayer time and money on a
pointless legal stunt with no practical consequence? Why not?
MADDOW: An update for you on our lead story tonight, the FBI‘s raid
and arrest of members of a militia group called Hutaree that‘s based in
southeast Michigan. Having already arrested eight members of the Hutaree
militia this weekend, authorities tonight finally arrested the ninth
suspect in the case who had been at large.
His name is Joshua Matthew Stone. He‘s 21 years old. He was
arrested at a home in Hillsdale County, Michigan, about 30 miles from the
site of the raid this weekend. Mr. Stone was reportedly in a house with
five adults and a child.
None of them were being held hostage. All of them were there
reportedly willingly. Again, the ninth and last suspect in the FBI raid of
the Michigan-based militia, Hutaree, has been taken into custody tonight
peaceably. I‘ll be back in just a moment.
MADDOW: I have an update for you on something I just said earlier in
the show. I‘ve just been informed that actually I was totally wrong. It
turns out states are not totally awash in spare cash right now.
In fact, late update is that - it turns out states are totally
broke, actually totally completely broke, like worse than ever. Coast to
coast, states in bad shape. In a desperate effort to close its jaw-
dropping budge shortfall, the great state of New Jersey, for example, is
considering a brand-new way to raise revenues. For more on that, we turn
to our Garden State desperation correspondent who, of course, is Kent
Jones. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel. Corporations spend
millions onto display their logo. But now, the State of New Jersey is
taking the whole idea of sponsorship to a new level.
(voice-over): The Garden State is faced with an $11 billion budget
gap. Well, since big companies sponsor sports stadiums, why wouldn‘t they
spend big bucks to sponsor other buildings like these?
An idea has been floated to sell the naming rights for 12 rest
stops on the New Jersey Turnpike and eight on the Garden State Parkway.
Now, what corporation wouldn‘t want their product associated with a place
where people go to - go?
Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson loves the
idea saying, quote, “The Nike Stop might be worth $10 million.” Just do
it? Here? Really? Currently, some of New Jersey‘s rest stops are named
for people, like Coach Vince Lombardi, Alexander Hamilton or Walt Whitman.
By why promote a bunch of has-beens who can‘t pay a dime when
jersey could chip away at the deficit with rest stop sponsorships like
this, or this, or even this. You know, if you can make it here, you‘ll
make it anywhere.
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent. You know, for the record, if our show ever
did raise the cash to name a New Jersey rest stop, what I would want to do
is I would want to get the Walt Whitman one, and then I would pay good
money to just keep it named the Walt Whitman one.
Then we probably would have to rename ourselves like “The Walt
Whitman Show” or something? That might end up being weird. But still I‘d
keep it Walt Whitman. I will.
MADDOW: I have one last thing to show you. What you‘re looking at
here is a metal relief sculpture of Saddam Hussein. Now, the “New York
Times” describes this particular sculpture as perhaps the only surviving
public image of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
But in this heroic sculpture, what you‘re looking at here is the
late mustachio desperate, depicted as if he‘s personally directing
something. What he‘s directing is the construction of the July 14th
Bridge. That‘s what the image is showing, him directing the construction
of the July 14th Bridge, a suspension bridge in Baghdad that celebrates the
start of Ba‘athist rule in Iraq.
The Ba‘ath party, of course, was Saddam Hussein‘s party. It is
no longer in power in Baghdad. Well, as if to make that fact abundantly
clear - we‘ll go back to that image - somebody has now taken a hacksaw to
this in Baghdad.
The only surviving public image of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad has
had Saddam cut out of it with a hacksaw, just leaving his arm Saddam‘s
ghostly disembodied arm pointing to the old Republican palace and to the
newly-constructed giant American Embassy, also providing a very rich
Photoshop opportunity for anyone who wants to see themselves, or say, Conan
O‘Brien, or maybe Superman, or the Blue Meanie or Elvis, or - this one is
really, really good. Oh, yes, that was good - Michael Jackson.
Maybe even Sarah Palin with me peeking out the side? All of these
images submitted online by very talented viewers of the show for which we
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow
night. Until then you can E-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hang out
with us and submit cool stuff like we just showed you at our new blog which
is “MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com.” We‘re very proud of it.
We test story ideas there. We break news. We get you involved
in the show. It‘s very cool - MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com. Podcast is at iTunes
or at Rachel.MSNBC.com. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
Have a good night.
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