The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/13/10
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: Good morning, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you very much for
And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour.
Elizabeth Warren is here for “The Interview” tonight. We‘re very
much looking forward to that.
But we begin with the fast-eroding political ground beneath the
Republican Party‘s latest anointed rising star. He is Bob McDonnell, the
famously and recently elected governor of Virginia.
Republicans thought enough of his national prospects and thought
enough of his image as a revitalizing force for their party that they
invited Governor McDonnell to address the nation in response to President
Obama‘s State of the Union address in February. Mr. McDonnell gave that
speech 11 whole days after he was inaugurated.
When the Republican Party decided to declare itself back and better
than ever in a slickly-produced self-congratulatory Web ad, Bob McDonnell
chosen to—was the chosen one to deliver the sacred first sound bite in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL ®, VIRGINIA: Here in Virginia, we live in the
birthplace of American freedom and democracy. And this year, we‘re
thrilled that our commonwealth is the birthplace of a Republican resurgence
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sold and obviously bought as a moderate, Bob McDonnell
effectively ran away from his super-conservative religious right origins.
Yes, his graduate school thesis which he did as an adult at Pat Robertson‘s
Regent University did suggest that women having jobs was something that was
detrimental to the family. He also wrote that government policy should
favor married couples over, and I quote, “cohabitators, homosexuals, or
Well, that is a long time ago. He was in his 30s. Now, Bob
McDonnell is in his 40s and he‘s mainstream. Not kookian stuff—worry
not, Virginia, worry not, America. Bob McDonnell is just a small
government, low taxes Constitution-lover. He is the Republican resurgence.
Except it is not working out that way. Tonight, we can report that
Governor Bob McDonnell is stepping back from a third radically right-wing
policy position that he‘s taken as governor in response to a very negative
public reaction. Governor McDonnell keeps trying this stuff over and over
and over again, and then he gets national attention and he has to dial it
back and pretend he didn‘t mean it in the first place. It has happened
Last night, we reported on Governor McDonnell‘s plan to require non-
violent felons to write an essay about their contributions to society since
their release if they wanted to have their voting rights restored. What
had been a relatively perfunctory process would now include something like
a test of a person‘s literacy about his or her merit as a citizen of
In another day, that sort of thing might have been called a literacy
test. And in another day, literacy tests were used to keep African-
Americans from voting in the South.
This policy change was greeted the way a lot of Governor McDonnell‘s
governing ideas have been greeted so far. Much of the reaction could be
described as horrified.
And so, today, Governor Bob McDonnell went on the radio in Norfolk,
Virginia, acting as if his literacy tests for voting policy wasn‘t really
what his administration said it would be. And maybe it‘s not really going
to happen anyway?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MCDONNELL: There‘s no essay. We‘ve asked for just a simple
statement of what the person has done in order to be reintegrated into
society—a little bit about their crime, what they‘ve done to get back
into society, any community activities. And we‘re still in the draft
stages. And I just ask people to give us—give us a few months. We‘re
going to—we haven‘t announced the final process.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: There‘s no essay, still in the draft stages, give us a few
months, we haven‘t even announced the final process yet.
It sounds like it‘s not even really a done deal yet. Maybe the
reporting on this jumped the gun?
I don‘t think so. Governor McDonnell‘s statement about this just
being in the draft stages and not being an essay and give us a few months,
we haven‘t finalized it yet—it‘s pretty hard to square with this. What
you‘re looking at here is a letter obtained by “The Washington Post” that‘s
dated February 26th, 2010. It was sent by the Commonwealth of Virginia to
a non-violent felon who was applying for the restoration of his civil
The person who received this letter, according to the letter, is
being notified of a, quote, “new requirement” in pursuing the right to
vote. Quote, “A personal letter addressed to the governor explaining the
circumstances of your arrest and conviction—give a brief description of
current employment or a good faith effort to obtain employment. If you
have made strides in education or are involved in church activities, please
let us know as well. Please also include any and all service to the
community since being released by the court and the reasons why you believe
the restoration of your civil rights is justified.”
That letter already went out to people trying to get their voting
rights restored in Virginia. But according to Governor McDonnell on the
radio today, the policy change that requires that statement—it‘s just a
draft. Give us a few months. There‘s been no policy change. We‘re not
asking people to do that.
This morning, “The Washington Post” reported that dozens of non-
violent felons were sent the same letter requiring a letter to the governor
as part of their application for the restoration of civil rights.
So, this is the third instance of Bob McDonnell governing extremely
immoderately and then walking back from those immoderate positions. You‘ll
recall that he revoked hiring protections from gays and lesbians who worked
for the Commonwealth of Virginia before he changed his mind and offered a
non-binding suggestion that people please not discriminate even though he
was declaring that the law said you could. Thanks for that.
More recently, he declared April Confederate History Month in
Virginia and failed to mention the institution of slavery in that
proclamation. Then he sort of changed his mind and apologized and re-
declared Confederate History Month with a recognition that slavery was a
bad thing. Appreciate that.
And now this—the institution of a de facto literacy test for
people seeking to regain their voting rights followed by this morning‘s
extra flimsy walk-back. A walk-back that appears to be disproven almost
entirely by the evidentiary facts as discovered and reported by “The
Do you remember Sarah Palin? Remember Bobby Jindal? Meet Bob
McDonnell, the latest scorchingly right-wing Republican governor to be
tapped by the party as the next rising star, only to encounter very severe
turbulence on the way up.
Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”
Chris, nice to see you. Thanks for joining us.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good to see you too, Rachel.
MADDOW: We‘ve had Governor McDonnell do something totally right-
wing on gays rights, on the issue of this slavery, and on the issue of the
pseudo-literacy test for voting, and now apparently, we‘ve had climb-downs
from him on all three issues. I feel like that‘s a recipe for alienating
everyone who‘s not in your base and then alienating your base, too.
What do you think?
HAYES: Well, it‘s interesting—I definitely agree on the first
part of that. I mean, you wonder—it‘s a question of whether the
language, the climb-downs are halfhearted enough that even the base
understands that he doesn‘t mean them so that he‘s not alienating the base.
And what‘s remarkable about this issue, right—I mean, these are
really—this is someone who is pursuing a zealous cultural war kind of
prerogative for no apparent reason of kind of broad political gain. I
mean, the guy just got into office. It‘s not like people are clamoring in
the state of Virginia, whatever the political mood, and there is definitely
a sort of rising tide of conservatism all across the south. That rising
tide of conservatism isn‘t people, you know, calling up their elected
representatives and asking that an extra step be added to felon
He‘s pursuing this kind of pet culture war issues, Confederacy
memorialization as well, with no apparent political justification other
than ideological dilatory or absolute fealty to the most extreme part of
MADDOW: Presumably, Governor McDonnell could get these things out
of the way early in his term as governor of Virginia and then try to be a
more compassionate conservative or less of a culture warrior later in his
term. He could then harken back to these early steps that he took as
governor early in his term in a run for national office? Is that possibly
the game plan?
HAYES: I guess so. I mean, look, Virginia is a state that—whose
politics are fascinating, right? Because it‘s been a red state for so
long, it went blue for the first time in many elections to vote for Barack
Obama. And obviously, it‘s gone back. It had two Democratic governors in
The game plan in Virginia, if you‘re the governor, is that you have
to leave office in four years. You‘ve got to find another job right away.
So, the idea that you either—you try to run for Senate or you seek some
kind of national office—obviously the latter, the incentives are not
going to be pursuing Confederacy memorialization and literacy tests.
So, I‘ve got to think that he‘s pegging his future to the most
extreme right part of the Virginia voting base. But I—it doesn‘t really
make a lot of political sense even in that context.
MADDOW: It is, of course, possible that he thinks the whole
Governor Rick Perry secession thing is going to work out and then he and
Rick can be co-presidents. No, never mind.
Governor McDonnell also said on the radio today that he blames
Democrats for the negative attention to the essay/literacy testing. We
don‘t know who‘s behind the reporting on this. But does that seem right to
HAYES: So far, I‘ve read one Democratic politician in the state of
Virginia comment on this. And the copy in “The Washington Post” clearly
stated, when she was prompted and informed of the changes. So, this is, I
think, pretty clearly driven by some very fine reporting on the part of
“The Washington Post,” and kudos to them.
And look, Virginia is a state in which the median Virginia Democrat
doesn‘t have a ton to gain by making a big stink out of felon re-
enfranchisement issue. So, I think the idea that this is being driven by
Democrats is not particularly plausible.
MADDOW: One last question about the specifics of this in terms of
trying to divine what‘s going on with him politically. He was lauded as
such a great campaigner, but he seems to be just blowing every symbolic
political issue he tries to run on since he‘s been elected.
The letter that was sent to felons, asked people to describe their
employment, their education, their community service, and specifically, it
asked them to describe their church activities. Is that a politically
significant part of this?
HAYES: Well, look, the guy graduated from Pat Robertson‘s
university. I mean, what‘s frustrating about this is the writing was on
the wall during the campaign. It was always clear that he was attempting
to pull off this massive bait and switch.
This is someone who comes from the religious right, you know? I
mean, that‘s his world. That‘s what he‘s been immersed in. The things
that he wrote in that thesis, you know, stand on their own for what he
presumably believes in as an adult.
And as a matter of law, it seems absurd to me that the religious
beliefs of someone should have anything to do with whether their right to
vote is reinstated.
But clearly, this is where he comes from. I don‘t think this is
anything other than who Bob McDonnell really is. And that‘s troubling.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation”—Chris,
thanks very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Again, the news we are reporting tonight from “The
Washington Post” is that Governor McDonnell appears to have climbed down on
yet his—on his third far right governing decision. First, a sort of
climb-down on the issue of rescinding gay rights in the state of Virginia.
Second, a climb-down on dis-including—not including slavery in a
proclamation of Confederate History Month. And now, he appears to be
inexpertly climbing down on his proposal for a pseudo-literacy test for the
restoration of voting rights in Virginia.
All right. Coming up: right-wing news from the great state of
Oklahoma that might even be too right-wing for Oklahoma.
Plus, on “The Interview” tonight, one of the only guests we‘ve ever
had on this show for whom we regularly get fan mail. She is Elizabeth
Warren. She‘s overseeing the TARP bailout funds for Congress.
Please do stay with us.
MADDOW: Last week, days before Supreme Court Justice John Paul
Stevens announced he was retiring, the Republican Party was already
threatening to filibuster his potential replacement. The senior senator
from Minnesota, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, joined me on-set to talk about that
and to address speculation that if Justice Stevens did retire, she could be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thanks for coming in.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: As you see, I‘m wearing the
wrong color to be on the Supreme Court.
MADDOW: Well, your microphone is black.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, that‘s correct.
MADDOW: Very slimming.
KLOBUCHAR: And also, there‘s all those old speeches of mine that
you would find. Remember the Sotomayor wise Latina?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I call myself a wise Slovenian. So, it‘s over
before it even started.
MADDOW: I don‘t know, if you really got the Slovenian people behind
you in America, it would be an unstoppable political blog.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, it‘s a small but mighty country. That‘s right.
MADDOW: Is it flattering to be mentioned? Is it just awkward? Is
KLOBUCHAR: No, it is. But I love my job now. And as you know, as
you pointed out with the Senate, there‘s a lot of work to be done there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For all the joking around, if you noticed there, Senator
Klobuchar never actually did say a definitive no to the Supreme Court job,
And today, she definitively said no. “Huffington Post” asked her if
she would serve on the court if President Obama asked her to. She said
emphatically, quote, “No, I love my job.” No, as in no. So, there you
have it—no. One of the potential nominees takes herself out of the
Still ahead: another person‘s whose name is being floated as a
possibility for the court, Elizabeth Warren, chair of the oversight panel
for the TARP bailout funds and beloved national hero for making the
financial crisis makes some sense to those of us who don‘t have a PhD in
finance. Elizabeth Warren joins us in just a moment.
MADDOW: The “Associated Press” has a remarkable story out today
about conservative politics falling way off the deep end in the great state
This is Randy Brogdon. Randy Brogdon is a Republican state senator
in Oklahoma. He‘s running for governor in Oklahoma. Part of his platform,
apparently, is to build an Oklahoma-specific army, to be an armed
resistance against the government of the United States.
This is not one of those things like Georgia where people get
confused by the headlines sometimes because it‘s like, oh, you mean Georgia
the country is at war with Russia. Not Georgia the state. That would be a
way bigger deal for America.
No, Randy Brogdon actually wants to be governor of the American
state of Oklahoma. There‘s no other country called Oklahoma. But he wants
the state of Oklahoma to get ready to wage armed resistance against the
United States government.
From the lead of today‘s “A.P.” piece, quote, “Frustrated by recent
political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the
Oklahoma legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia
to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements
on state sovereignty.”
So, this isn‘t a militia to be formed to demonstrate support for the
Second Amendment. This isn‘t like an emergency preparedness group or
something, like some militias say they are. This is explicitly an armed
force to use force against the improper infringements of the federal
government on state sovereignty. Members of the state legislature,
including a Republican candidate for governor, apparently aren‘t getting
what they want from the political process, so they‘ve decided to turn to
armed force instead.
One of the tea party leaders working on this with the candidate for
governor, a tea-partier named Al Gerhart told the “A.P.,” quote, “Is it
scary? It sure is. But when do the states stop rolling over for the
If that‘s a rhetorical question, I‘m guessing the answer is that the
states, in his mind, stop rolling over for the federal government when the
states form their own armies to shoot at the federal government? Is that
what you mean? Because if it‘s not what you mean, what do you mean?
Randy Brogdon, the Republican candidate for governor in Oklahoma is,
himself, making that case—saying, quote, “The Second Amendment deals
directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect
themselves from an overreaching federal government,” end quote.
In case you‘re wondering, Randy‘s fantasizing here. There isn‘t
actually anything in the real Second Amendment about the overreaching
federal government. It‘s not like “a well-regulated militia being
necessary to the security of a free state” against the overreaching federal
government and the tyranny of health insurance reform. It doesn‘t say
Another Republican state lawmaker, Charles Key, is quoted by the
“Associated Press” as saying, quote, “There is a good chance for
introducing legislation for a state-authorized militia a next year.”
We called Representative Key‘s office today to find out if he really
meant that. His office told us that Representative Key didn‘t really say
what the “A.P.” said he said, but they wouldn‘t clarify for us what he did
If we do find out that Oklahoma state legislators are going through
with this sedition plan, we‘ll let you know. I mean, honestly, probably
the FBI will let you know first, but then we‘ll let you know as soon as
they put out the press release.
Joining us now is Eve Conant, whose article in the current issue of
“Newsweek” magazine details the current rise in anti-government extremism.
Eve, it‘s good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.
EVE CONANT, NEWSWEEK: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: Anti-government extremism, frankly, is always out there in
one form or another. What is the evidence that it‘s actually on the rise
CONANT: Well, you see evidence from a couple of different sources.
One is, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks extremist
groups and has recently put out a report saying that patriot groups which
are sort of anti-government groups, some of them are militias, have grown
significantly over the past year. There‘s been about a 244 percent
increase in these groups according to the SPLC.
You also have law enforcement agencies, the Pentagon tightening
restrictions—as we have in our piece—on soldiers, people in the
military who are members of extremist groups, making sure they that can‘t
be members of these groups, or just keeping better track of them.
And, of course, you have incidents like we saw recently with Joseph
Stack riding his plane into the IRS building. You have the Pentagon
shooter. You have threats against senators up 30 percent.
So, across the board, you see all of these anti-government
activities sort of bubbling in on the Web, in particular, with the SPLC
tracking those. It‘s sort of a perfect storm of different sources. And
just look at the news—just sort of every week or so, there seems to be
another incident related to this.
MADDOW: Eve, militia groups, particularly post-Oklahoma City
bombing, have tried to use, in some cases, really non-threatening language
to describe themselves—essentially making themselves out to be like gun
clubs or emergency readiness groups. This Oklahoma group is not putting
any sort of shine on what they‘re doing. They‘re saying they want to do
military training in order to fight the federal government in Oklahoma.
How intrinsic is anti-government sentiment to the militia movement?
CONANT: I think it‘s absolutely key. I think it‘s the fundamental
part of the militia movement, of the militias within the patriot movement.
They see—or they fear there‘s going to be a one world government. They
fear foreign troops on U.S. soil. They fear that the U.S. government is
going to infringe on their rights, will take away their guns.
This paranoia and fear is what drives these groups. It‘s not about
being a—an offensive force to overthrow the government. It‘s always—
in the literature, if you look on the Web sites—it‘s always about
defense. And that the best defense is to be prepared, to be armed, to be
And that sounds like what we‘re seeing in Oklahoma. It‘s what we
see with other militia groups as well. It‘s always about defense and
paranoia fuelling the need to gather arms and to gather strength.
MADDOW: Eve Conant of “Newsweek” magazine—thank you for
reporting on this for “Newsweek.” I feel like we‘ve been doing the best
reporting on it that we can based on the sources that are out there so far.
Not a lot of national reporters devoted to this yet. And we found your
reporting to be really invaluable. Thanks a lot.
CONANT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Eve Conant of “Newsweek” magazine.
News of the Oklahoma militia plan comes 15 years after the bombing
of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City which, of course, killed
168 Americans. On the actual anniversary of that bombing, 15 years later,
April 19th, MSNBC is going to air a documentary that‘s based on never-
before-heard tapes of Timothy McVeigh, actual interviews with McVeigh
recorded with him in prison while he awaited execution.
There were dozens of hours of tapes. Most of them could not fit
into the two-hour documentary.
But in light of this news today from Oklahoma, Representative Key,
who we called today, represents Oklahoma City—I wanted to play you this
one piece of tape from McVeigh. This is accompanied by simulated images
from the documentary. This piece of tape that we‘re going to play here has
never before been broadcast. But in light of today‘s news, I think it‘s
important and newsworthy, and I wanted you to hear it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER: It did have as its purpose
direct attrition of federal employees, OK? It had as a purpose destruction
of a federal outpost, as you could put it, or a base of operations, OK? It
had as its purpose, the destruction of the command and control center. It
had as its purpose, the destruction of support personnel, and a
psychological effect of reducing their morale, OK? And making them
question what they‘re doing and making it a public building in the middle
of an open area allows not only for the dissipation of the blast, as I said
before, to control collateral damage, but it also allows cameras to get the
full view, OK, and increases the impact on the American psyche.
It had at its center to destroy infrastructure. It had at its
center some messages, including—if you want to wage a war, this is how
ugly it‘s going to get.
You can only sit back for so long and let the enemy attack you
before you‘re going to strike at the enemy on his turf. So, it was
bringing the fight to their own turf, how do you like mother (EXPLETIVE
It was saying, somebody‘s got to stand up to the bully, punch him in
the nose, bloody his nose, and put him back on his heels.
You guys think you can be ruthless like at Ruby Ridge and Waco?
Well, here‘s a little ruthless back at you and see how you like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: More of that never-before-heard interview with Timothy
McVeigh himself will air in our two-hour special documentary which is
called “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist.” It airs
next Monday, April 19th, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC.
We‘ll be right back.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: There was and remains, of course, the confusing,
sometimes maddening, seemingly not entirely ineffective federal bailout of
Wall Street. Take a moment. Feel confused and angry, then sort of
OK. Now, there‘s also the Main Street not Wall Street side of the
financial rescue plan, the Treasury Department‘s foreclosure prevention
plan, also known as the “making home affordable” program. It was supposed
to help millions of Americans avoid foreclosure by paying to modify their
mortgages and lower payments.
To help reach that goal to modify those loans, Treasury would use $50
billion in TARP funds. Six months ago, the Congressional Oversight Panel
for the TARP funds evaluated the Treasury‘s program and found, among other
things, that many homeowners participating in the program did not avoid
foreclosure - they only delayed it.
And last month, the inspector general for TARP said that fewer than
200,000 homeowners had received permanent mortgage modifications. He
warned that many folks were at risk of re-defaulting on their mortgages
even after getting help from this federal program.
Elizabeth Warren is the head of the Congressional Oversight Panel for
TARP. A year ago, she gave the Treasury Department essentially a list of
things they needed to do in order to get the foreclosure side of this thing
Six months ago, she warned that they weren‘t doing enough. Tomorrow,
new reports. You can tell just by looking around that the foreclosure
crisis is not over - the Main Street side of the bailout.
Joining us now for the interview is Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law
professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP
bailout funds. Professor Warren, thanks very much for coming back on the
ELIZABETH WARREN, CHAIRPERSON, CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT PANEL FOR TARP:
It‘s good to be here.
MADDOW: Did I get that roughly right? TARP was supposed to be trying to
stop foreclosures at the same time that it bailed out the banks. Bailing
out the banks basically worked but the foreclosures part of it really
WARREN: Actually, if you read the statute, what the statute talks about is
not bailing out Wall Street banks. What the statute talks about is here‘s
$700 billion to help repair the economy. Remember, it was supposed to be
about troubled assets, mortgages that were in trouble.
And it says - Congress says the way we are going to measure the
effectiveness of this program is what it does for unemployment, what it
does American savings and really focus on what it does on home mortgage
foreclosures, how it works to stop this crisis. That‘s what Congress said
it wanted for its $700 billion.
MADDOW: So that‘s been your job as chair of the Congressional Oversight
Panels is to monitor, essentially, what it‘s doing for unemployment and
American savings and foreclosures. And the result is not positive.
WARREN: Well, we are now 15 months after Treasury has announced its
program and tried to get it up and running. And basically, 167,000
families have gotten into some kind of modification that we hope will turn
out to be permanent although there are going to be some problems with that
down the line.
But just to put that in some context, every single month, 200,000
families are posted for foreclosure. That‘s where we stand right now.
167,000 over 15 months have received assistance under this program. And
every month, 200,000 families are posted for foreclosure.
MADDOW: This program works through lenders, works through banks and other
lending institutions that have given people money through mortgages. What
explains why more hasn‘t been done? Is it a poorly designed program? Is
the government not doing enough? Or are the banks and the lending
institutions stopping it from working?
WARREN: Well, we raised this issue when the program was first announced.
We said we have problems about the scope of the program, problems about the
scalability of the program, and problems with whether or not it was going
to create permanent solutions.
But let me say it a slightly different way. In a sense, what this
program was is incentives put on the table to invite the financial
institutions and the mortgage services to come to the table, please, to
negotiate with the families who are facing foreclosure.
And it is a program of limited scope, and it is a program that is a
gentle program. And today, we heard from those large Wall Street banks.
They went into Congress to testify about where they stood on mortgage
And they basically said. “Don‘t push us too hard because we don‘t plan
to cooperate.” This is really a stunning response from large financial
institutions. So we just have a real disconnect here about what it is that
TARP is supposed to be or at least originally was supposed to be about.
MADDOW: If incentives aren‘t enough, what you describe as a gentle program
isn‘t enough, could the same goals be achieved by making them do it? Could
they be made to do it?
WARREN: There are many tools that are available if Treasury wants to use
them. The point so far is that Treasury has chosen to take a modest
response on mortgage foreclosures.
And you know, let me always remember the extra parts of this. Not
everyone who is in a home should stay in that home. There are some people
who really can‘t afford it and who really should be moved out of those
This is about the group of people who could actually pay and pay a
reasonable amount on these mortgages and everyone would ultimately be
better off. But it‘s also about the rest of us in the economy.
You know, even if you‘re not one of the one in four homeowners with a
mortgage who is underwater, the value of your home is dropping when
mortgage foreclosures keep occurring. It presses everybody‘s values down.
And that has echoes throughout the economy. A huge part of our
economy is the construction industry which is ground to a halt and has huge
unemployment in it right now. It has devastating effects on communities.
Ultimately, we are going to have a very difficult time restarting our
economy if we continue a downward spiral on home values because of the
downward pressure with mortgage foreclosures.
A year and a half ago, we bailed out large financial institutions on
the argument that, you know, like it or not, we‘re all in the same boat
economically and we need to save those guys.
And we did it. And they are now back to profitability, spending,
bonuses. But now, we turn to the homeowners, the people who are also in
real trouble and it‘s having a real effect on the rest of our economy.
And the response seems to be, “Well, we‘re not quite all in the same
boat here. Those guys want to go their own way.”
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, I have one last question for you, which is not
about housing foreclosures. In the report you‘re putting out tomorrow,
there‘s been speculation about President Obama‘s shortlist for the Supreme
Court. Your name has been mentioned as a possible nominee. What‘s your
response to that?
WARREN: I‘m working on a mortgage foreclosure report really hard right
WARREN: It‘s an enormous honor even to have your name mentioned. But
right now, I‘ve just got to say, I really have my nose hard down in the
data on mortgage foreclosures. This is a problem we must fix.
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law professor, chair of the
Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP bailout funds. Thank you very
much for coming on the show tonight and good luck with the rollout of the
report tomorrow. America is listening to you.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. If you or someone you know is in the military and
deploying to Afghanistan any time in the near future, the way you get there
is about to change dramatically.
One of the most specific concrete tada consequences of the big 47-
nation con fab that happens in D.C. this week that I will attempt to
demonstrate probably poorly with the help of a giant map. Next.
MADDOW: Over the weekend, President Obama sat down with the president of
Kazakhstan who came to town to participate in the big nuclear summit. They
met on Sunday. Last night, we speculated about what those two might have
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, how are things in Kazakhstan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know we didn‘t find Borat funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, me neither.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It turns out what they really talked about was way more important
- shocker. The National Security Council has announced that Kazakhstan
actually agreed to allow U.S. planes carrying military equipment and troops
to fly over their territory.
That is important because if you‘re an American soldier, airman, or
marine headed to Afghanistan, here‘s how you would go right now according
to reports in the “New York Times” and the “Air Force Times.”
And by the way, the real route is classified so this is our little
approximation here. You start on the east coast and you fly to Ramstein
Air Base in Germany. Then you head southeast passing over the Persian
Gulf, then north through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
A little cumbersome, right? Well, now, with this new agreement,
troops can leave from Chicago and fly over Canada, right over the North
Pole, Russia, and Kazakhstan, right to Afghanistan.
The new non-stop route expected to take a little over 12 hours door-
to-door - much more direct. No word yet on when the new flights begin.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Believe it or not, it is Election Day. And in Florida‘s 19th
Congressional district, there was a special election to replace retiring
Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler who has moved in to a job with the
The winner of this special election is Democrat Ted Deutch who handily
beat Republican Ed Lynch. This is the first congressional election since
the health reform bill passed and it went to the Democrat. Much more to
come. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Today, at the conclusion of his historic two-day summit on global
nuclear security, President Obama offered a pretty optimistic assessment of
what was accomplished.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: And because of the steps we‘ve
taken as individual nations and as an international community, the American
people will be safer and the world will be more secure. Our work today not
only advances the security of the United States, it advances the security
of all mankind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The work that President Obama is talking about is the ambitious
goal laid out in the summit of securing all of the world‘s loose nuclear
material within four years. Not just American pledge, but a world pledge.
This two-day summit which officially wrapped up today involved 49 leaders
from around the world, among them, the president of South Africa, Jacob
Zuma, who President Obama met with him on Sunday.
In the 1970s and 1980s, South Africa, of course, was under the control
of an apartheid government which aspired very much to be a nuclear power.
During those two decades, South Africa reportedly built seven atomic bombs.
After the apartheid government lost power in South Africa in the ‘90s,
the new government there abandoned their nuclear ambitions. They
dismantled their bombs.
But they maintained their research reactors. One of them is called
Pelandaba. It‘s located just north of the South African capital of
Johannesburg. Pelandaba was supposedly going to be the model for the rest
of the world for how you can safely operate a nuclear facility that holds
lots of dangerous nuclear material.
Officials at Pelandaba would actually do training sessions for other
countries to show everybody how it‘s done in terms of keeping the stuff
And then something happened. Just after midnight, November 8th, 2007,
the Pelandaba nuclear facility was broken into by four armed gunmen.
As “60 Minutes” documented a year later, the foremen breached a
10,000-volt electrical fence. They advanced past security cameras
undetected. They walked three quarters of a mile to Pelandaba‘s emergency
control center and got inside.
The gunmen broke into that control center. They grabbed a laptop and
they shot a security guard in the chest. While that group of gunmen was in
the control center, a second group of gunmen on the other side of the
facility cut through an outer fence and opened fire on another guard.
At the time of that attack, Pelandaba had about 25 atomic bombs worth
of weapons-grade uranium on hand. Ultimately, the gunmen never got to that
uranium. They ditched the laptop. They fled on foot and they got out the
way they came in. This break-in is still unsolved, so totally unexplained
two and a half years later. Nobody knows who did it or why.
But Pelandaba was supposed to be the best of the best in terms of
keeping this material safe. And turns out the best of the best was
woefully inadequate. These guys got all the way to the control room.
Anywhere highly enriched uranium exists anywhere in the world, its
safety is a risk. And so good on our government for wanting to collect it
from all of the places it is all around the world. That said, we sort of
have our own nuclear mishaps here, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You‘ll recall that we had a little incident a while back where we
had nuclear-tipped missiles on a bomber flying across the United States and
nobody knew about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That little incident he‘s talking about there happened back in
2007. Six nuclear warheads were mistakenly flown on a B-52 bomber from an
Air Force base in North Dakota to one in Louisiana.
And it‘s not just that oops. This past January, the Air Force removed
an entire squadron that had been overseeing a bunker of nuclear warheads in
Last fall, another nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico suffered from a
number of major security lapses involving classified information. Despite
our own history of not exactly handling nuclear material correctly, the
U.S. is now taking the lead role in collecting the rest of the world‘s
dangerous nuclear byproduct.
And it‘s neat that we‘re trying to clean this stuff up. And it is
neat that we have lots of confidence in our own ability to protect this
stuff. But isn‘t that a little awkward that before starting this whole
diplomatic overture to the rest of the world, President Obama announced his
intention to build a whole bunch of new nuclear plants in this country?
As part of his comprehensive energy plan, we‘re about to build a bunch
of new nuclear reactors for the first time in my lifetime. One of the
things that nuclear reactors make is highly enriched uranium.
So while we‘re asking the rest of the world to ditch their highly
enriched uranium, we‘re going to be producing more of this stuff than ever
Here to tell me to chill out and stop making good news into bad news
is the great and good Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund.
He is also the author of “Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear
Weapons.” Joe also met with President Obama today after the summit was
over. Mr. Cirincione, thank you for coming back on the show.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Talk me down here. All this highly enriched uranium that other
countries around the world have. Is it clear that we ought to be bringing
this stuff back to the U.S., that we can handle it here?
CIRINCIONE: Yes, it is clear. We know what to do with this. And what we
do is down-blend it. We take the highly enriched uranium and put it
together with low-enriched uranium. We make fuel rods out of it.
And we sell it at a profit, actually, to American power companies. In
fact, one out of every ten light bulbs in the United States is lit with
fuel that comes from former Soviet warheads, warheads that used to threaten
our destruction that are now blended down into fuel for the reactors.
Highly enriched uranium is the easiest material to get rid of.
MADDOW: As somebody though who spent your career on the issue of nuclear
materials - nuclear weapons and nuclear material, the threat that these
things pose, do you feel at all worried?
Do you feel there‘s any awkwardness, any contradiction at all about
having President Obama recommit America to nuclear power at the same time
that we‘re committing ourselves to collecting nuclear material around the
CIRINCIONE: Nuclear power has lots of problems with waste and cost and
safety. But it‘s not the reactors themselves that cause the proliferation
risk. It‘s the factories that can enrich uranium to low levels for fuel
which what goes on into the reactors.
Low enriched uranium can also be used for high enriched uranium. They
can become a bomb factory. That‘s the whole issue with Iran. So the
question is, can you make an international mechanism that can take those
individual national facilities and make them multinational or
That‘s part of Obama‘s plan. But let me tell you, this conference
today, this summit, this historic event was about much more than fuel cycle
reform. I met at this summit a young woman, Carrie Lamar(ph), whose mother
died in 9/11.
I told her I was coming on your show. And she said, “Tell them - tell
them that what this summit was about was making sure that what happened to
me never happened to anyone else.” That Osama Bin Laden is trying to get a
nuclear weapon. He wants to kill millions of Americans, and this summit
was about preventing him from doing that.
This was an absolutely remarkable event. I‘m very pleased with the
outcome. I think you saw the president of the United States in a
remarkable display of power bringing the rest of the world to Washington to
carry out something that he wanted to do.
This is not just good for him. This doesn‘t just tell you about his
priorities. This is good for America.
MADDOW: Joe, in terms of people watching this right now who don‘t follow
nuclear issues that closely, what‘s the most important thing to understand
about what‘s different in the world after the summit than before the summit
CIRINCIONE: One, that you forged international recognition that nuclear
terror is the number one threat facing most countries. Two, that you have
an action plan where these countries have committed to joint action. And
three, that they‘ve agreed to come back in two years to hold themselves
accountable, to do what the president has wanted them to do, what they have
now pledged to do to secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within
You do that, you stop Osama Bin Laden. You do that, you prevent
nuclear terrorism. You fail to do that, and one of the capitals
represented at the summit today will go up in a mushroom cloud.
Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, it is always great
and clarifying to talk to you. Thank you for your time tonight.
CIRINCIONE: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” from $125,000 a year to $12 million in
just nine months. The half-term governor of Alaska strikes it rich.
And next on this show, a moment of eek. Yes, I said “eek.”
MADDOW: Our “Moment of Geek” on yesterday‘s show was actually a “moment of
eek” for two reasons. First, I was worried that Kent was going to fall off
the ladder we had him on.
And second, I messed up. We were talking about China and Nepal
settling their longstanding dispute over the height of Mt. Everest. China
claims Mt. Everest was 12 feet shorter than Nepal says it is.
But I said both countries‘ measurements were in the range of 20,000
feet, then both are in the range of 29,000 feet - not 20,000. Stupid
cousin, resin, breakneck typo.
I apologize to Mt. Everest. I did not intend to marginalize 9,000
feet of its majestic, oxygen deficient Himalayan ice cap. I feel shame.
That said, scientists still disagree about exactly how tall Everest
is, or even if it is the tallest mountain in the world. Our in-house
astrophysicist, Summer Ash(ph), who has been doing video explainers online
for us at Maddow Blog, told us this today.
She said, “While Everest is the highest mountain above sea level, it‘s
not the farthest point from the center of the earth. The earth is a little
fatter at the equator. It bulges like a beer belly. And therefore,
there‘s a mountain in Ecuador, Mt. Chimborazo, whose summit is farther from
the center of the earth than Mt. Everest. Little known fact.”
Also, if you measure a mountain from the base no matter where that
base is, from the base to the summit, the Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Kea, is
4,000 feet taller than Mt. Everest. It‘s just that more than half of it is
under the ocean.
So that‘s the apology to Mt. Everest for our inadvertently demeaning
typo, our additional demeaning detail about the height of Mt. Everest - yet
also that‘s the end of the show. “Moment of eek.”
I‘ll be on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart tonight and “The Martha
Stewart Show” tomorrow. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>