The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/21/10
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you so much. I am
indeed not Rachel Maddow. She is under the weather and getting better as
fast as she can in anticipation of Geek Week (ph).
But we do have a jammed RACHEL MADDOW SHOW for you, including Rand
Paul‘s understanding of the Deepwater Horizon underwater oil volcano, which
completely contradicts the reality of government‘s relationship with
business. We have the clear, simple and critical postmortem on financial
regulation. Stand by for details.
There‘s also the latest proposal brewing to roll back constitutional
rights for certain residents of Arizona. This time it‘s the 14th Amendment
that conservatives are going to fix good.
And must-see Friday night viewing, the forensics of dog droppings.
The dung jury—come on, it‘s Friday night. Settle in, grab a cocktail,
here we go.
We begin tonight with the loneliest man in American politics at this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: When does my honeymoon
period start? I had a big victory. I thought I got a honeymoon period
from you guys in the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was, of course, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of
Kentucky. After a series of, shall we say, rocky interviews following
his big primary victory Tuesday night, including one you may have seen on
this show, Rand Paul carved out an unexpected niche for himself today as
the one man in America who thinks that oil giant BP has really gotten a raw
deal these last few weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: What I don‘t like from the president‘s administration is this
sort of, you know, “I‘ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.” I think
that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.
I‘ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I
think it‘s part of this sort of blame game society, in the sense that it‘s
always got to be someone‘s fault, and instead of the fact that maybe
sometimes accidents happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sometimes accidents happen. That was Rand Paul rising to the
courageous defense of a company that has probably managed to displace
Goldman Sachs and Massey Energy as corporate enemy No. 1 among the American
public right now.
The company that‘s responsible for this image: a live streaming feed
of thousands of barrels of oil being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.
Now the political consequences here are sort of obvious, right? I
mean, even BP has been smart enough not to roll out the “accidents happen”
excuse. What‘s more interesting here, though, is who exactly is doing the
Ron Paul—Rand Paul is a libertarian‘s libertarian. And the stories
that libertarians tell about the free market are that it‘s a great place
where anybody with a good idea can compete, where merit is rewarded, where
the best ideas ultimately win out, and where the government just stays the
heck out of it. That is the utopian free market of libertarians.
But BP, whose honor Rand Paul is now defending, does not exactly
represent that utopia. In fact, from a libertarian perspective, the oil
and gas industry is one of the most corrupt examples of crony capitalism we
have in this country.
Some environmental advocacy groups estimate the oil and gas industry,
including companies like BP, Shell Oil and Exxon, receive tens of billions
of dollars in federal subsidies every year. These are essentially
incentives from taxpayers like you and me to just go ahead and keep
drilling. And these subsidies mostly come in the force of tax credits,
like the expensing of exploration and development cost credit, or the
percentage depletion allowance, or the tax credits for enhanced oil
recovery costs. It‘s all these really obscure subsidies provided to these
oil companies from the U.S. government.
It‘s actually sort of the exact opposite of the government putting its
boot on the throat of the oil companies. It is the government giving them
And it‘s not like we need to prop up the oil and gas industry in order
for it to exist. The U.S. Treasury Department estimates that removing all
of these subsidies for the oil industry would decrease domestic production
by less than one half of 1 percent, even in the long run.
The very idea of government subsidies runs counter to the libertarian
governing philosophy. And yet when they‘re in power, conservatives are in
power, reflectively pro-business conservatives have no problem with them.
They chuck their supposedly principled free market ideal right under the
wagon the first time BP comes calling.
In 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress voted to increase tax
breaks for oil companies. In 2008 President Bush threatened to veto a
Democratic effort to roll back these tax breaks. Republicans right now as
I speak to you are blocking the effort to lift the cap on what oil
companies are liable for when a spill happens.
Currently, the money that pays for the clean up comes from an oil
spill fund set up by Congress, another subsidy to the oil industry.
This is an industry that lives off of government generosity. And yet
now we have Mr. Free Market, Rand Paul, the purest form of this stringent
ideological movement. And what does he do when he gets on the national
stage? He defends an industry that is a massive recipient of government
I understand the libertarian urge to defend the honor of the free
market and of private enterprise. But is the oil and gas industry, this
enormous recipient of taxpayer largess, really the hill you want to plant
your flag in?
Joining us now is Danielle Bryant. She‘s executive director of the
Project on Government Oversight. Danielle, so great to have you here. How
are you doing?
DANIELLE BRYANT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT:
Great to see you, Chris.
HAYES: So my understanding is that BP is making a killing this
quarter. They‘re doubling their for profits, I think to $6 billion. DI
guess the obvious question is do they need this money?
BRYANT: Keep in mind, this is at a time when every other industry has
been suffering and certainly the rest of us have been suffering, too, in
this economy. For them to be doubling their profits you have to put that
into that context. And then on top of it you have essentially $3 billion a
year in tax breaks? I mean, it‘s absurd.
HAYES: Now, is that—what is the total cost? I mean, we‘re talking
about the federal budget. You‘re looking at the subsidies. What kind of
numbers are we talking in terms of the level of subsidy that they‘re
Bryant: Really, we are—really, you get into the tens of billions
And one of the things that‘s really important—and I know I‘m really
a wonk when it comes to the royalties that are paid by the oil and gas
industry—this is—here we go. This is going to do it right. I mean,
This is one of the—the single biggest source of revenues to the
federal government after taxes, after the taxes that we pay, are those
royalties paid by the oil and gas industry for the ability to drill
offshore as we‘re seeing here and on public lands. And so this is an
incredibly important resource for us, the public, that the industry is now
well, has been for years, really, scamming on.
HAYES: Right. I mean, the idea that the oil industry is essentially
owned by the nation, and by the U.S. government.
BRYANT: It‘s a public resource.
HAYES: It‘s a public resource. They pay to extract it. I saw
something interesting today about, you know, they pay for all the oil they
take out of the ground, whether they capture it or not. Are they going to
be asked to pay for all this oil they are spilling? Because…
BRYANT: I love that. I love that issue. I mean, the question is,
this money is being—I mean, this oil is being spilled into the gulf.
That doesn‘t mean they shouldn‘t be paying royalties on it. We‘re hearing,
there is some talk inside the administration about actually requiring that,
and I think that‘s a reasonable expectation.
HAYES: One of the things I think that‘s become clear at the hearing
when Ken Salazar was on the Hill earlier this week and throughout this
whole thing is that the relationship between big oil and the government is
quite a cozy one generally.
And you know, it‘s very hard to roll back these subsidies. It does
seem like big oil has kind of captured the government. How—what is the
mechanism—how does that happen? I mean, how is this kind of symbiotic
BRYANT: There‘s so many tentacles where you see this in play. I
mean, everyone knows about campaign contributions to members of Congress
and the lobbyists that are all over Capitol Hill, but there‘s so many other
I mean, we‘ve been in hand-to-hand combat with the lobbyists not just
on the Hill but who are dealing with the regulatory process where the
agencies, generally the Department of Interior, will be, you know,
promoting a new regulation. And then it‘s just covered with people from
industry, just pounding back to make sure that it‘s as generous for the
industry as possible.
And then the other element you have is the former very senior members
of policymakers, members of Congress or administrations, who are on the
advisory boards of, well let‘s take BP for an example. I mean, you have
Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader. You have the former head
of the EPA, Christine Todd Whitman. You have the current CIA director,
The Center for Responsive Politics has sort of been amassing all these
people who are incredibly huge power hitters in Washington who are all…
HAYES: Sitting on the boards.
BRYANT: Yes, of BP. Just BP.
HAYES: Danielle Bryant, executive director of the Project on
Government Oversight, real fun to have you here.
BRYANT: Thank you.
HAYES: Thanks a lot. Have a great weekend.
BRYANT: You, too.
HAYES: Rand Paul‘s defense of the oil industry today, his defense of
BP, is the latest in a string of policy positions he‘s expressed this week
that have put his libertarian views in the national spotlight.
It started with the objections he raised about Civil Rights Act of
1964, and it continued as his views began to surface about the Americans
with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.
The net result of all this attention on Rand Paul has been an
increased focus on the idea of libertarianism as a governing philosophy.
And joining us now is Jim Carney, who‘s a columnist for the
“Washington Examiner.” I read him often. I follow his tweets and a self-
described libertarian. We‘ve had two now in one week. How are you doing,
JIM CARNEY, COLUMNIST, “WASHINGTON EXAMINER”: Doing well. Thanks.
HAYES: You wrote a really interesting column today in the paper that
you write for, the “Washington Examiner,” where you basically said real,
true libertarians should not be defending big oil. What was the argument?
CARNEY: Well, I want to get more precise, because I also—I don‘t
normally defend Republican politicians. But Rand Paul didn‘t stand up for
the oil subsidies. He criticized the president‘s rhetoric.
But in this case, BP is getting—could be getting away with not
paying as much economic damages as they‘re causing. It was the shrimper—
shrimp fishermen‘s business they‘re ruining could be picked up by this fund
that you‘re talking about and then eventually picked up by the general
And the libertarians should—should embrace the idea that all the
damage that is caused by BP‘s spills should be covered by BP and their
HAYES: Right, and you make this great point that there‘s essentially
this bailout fund for (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that essentially caps the
liability. And that, you know, if you want to drill for oil we should let
the market price what the risk is.
CARNEY: And if they were paying for the insurance to cover the whole
price, the price of oil would go up.
Now, one problem some Republicans fall into is sometimes looking at
something that the market likes, like home ownership or oil. They say the
market likes it, it‘s good, so let‘s have more of it and let‘s subsidize
it, which of course is an abandonment of free market principle.
HAYES: So speaking of abandonment of free market principles, this is
a theme in some of your writing. And I think it‘s what—kind of some of
the bedrock we‘re getting here with the whole Rand Paulpalooza that‘s
HAYES: What you hear a lot is when Republicans are out of power, a
lot of rhetoric about free markets and limited government and, you know,
getting rid of these kind of—and then when they‘re in power, it‘s like
you vote for the Rand Paul rhetoric and what you get is Newt Gingrich and
Tom DeLay and a lot of crony capitalism. And it seems like it‘s such a
It‘s like why should—it‘s sort of like we won‘t get fooled again.
Like, why is it going to be different if the Republicans take over this
CARNEY: And that‘s a legitimate point. And it‘s a parallel of the
point I make about when Ralph Nader or you folks, you rage against, well,
this government agency got captured or this government agency got captured.
As if they get captured after some nice great law gets passed. These
government agencies that get created, they get captured, like in utero.
They‘re not kidnapped; they are born.
And you look at the—what the Congress is doing with the health-care
bill, with the global warming stuff, all this stuff is getting porked up on
Capitol Hill, taken over by the corporations.
So I understand your objection about we keep getting fooled by this
libertarian rhetoric that turns into Republican crony capitalism, but we
also keep getting fooled by the progressive rhetoric that turns into
HAYES: And I think there—I think there obviously—there is a
case for that. I mean, there have been some abuses. But I wonder how much
what‘s happening right now in terms of Rand Paul‘s views. When you watch
what‘s happened in the last—and I‘ve seen you defend Rand Paul, and I
know you‘re a real die-hard libertarian.
What do you make of this rollout that‘s happened here in terms of—
is he just saying what—I mean, I‘ve covered libertarians and the right.
I mean, it seems like things like the Civil Rights Act, I‘ve read stuff
about people not being—not liking those provisions of the Civil Rights
Act. Is he just saying what people have been saying all along? It‘s just
he‘s now getting the national attention?
CARNEY: There‘s a couple things here. First, it‘s—libertarianism
is more principle-based than, say, progressivism, which looks at what are
the problems we need to solve, what are the consequences and sort of drive
straight at it. Libertarianism comes from more principles.
That will be a difficult philosophy to lay out, especially when you‘re
asked specific questions in the flash-bang heat of—no offense—but
cable news can‘t draw this stuff out as thoroughly as it needs to.
But also, you‘re right that politicians who get elected really don‘t
adhere to libertarian views, so there aren‘t too many people who have to go
out and defend these difficult questions of libertarianism.
HAYES: But isn‘t that—I mean, isn‘t that—that‘s the rap on
this. But isn‘t that the issue that, you know, they don‘t get elected on
those libertarian principles because, under the harsh light of, you know,
media scrutiny, they‘re not that popular.
I mean, people like things like the Food and Drug Administration.
They like the Department of Education, you know. They like the Civil
Rights Act, we presume, right? And when those things—I mean, if you‘re
going to be really sort of spirited about your ideological commitment to
these things, you know, you‘ve got to say things like, “Yes, let‘s get rid
of the FDA or maybe Title II of the Civil Rights Act.”
CARNEY: The Republicans used to talk about getting rid of the
Department of Education. They gave it up, because it wasn‘t politically
But you know that things become politically popular in part because
you have people articulately laying it out and championing it. And
libertarianism hasn‘t had that champion. And right now Rand Paul,
unfortunately, on the articulate level is not—is not winning the day.
HAYES: Well, maybe Senator Tim Carney will. Thanks, Jim. Appreciate
HAYES: Tim Carney from the “Washington Examiner.”
Here‘s the thing about gambling. Either you run the game or you bet
on the game. But you can‘t do both. Somewhere along the way, the U.S.
Senate forgot that axiom before they passed financial reform yesterday.
More understandable metaphors and their consequences are straight ahead.
And later, let‘s do the time warp again. In an effort to undo 150
years of progressive legislation, conservatives are trying to party like
it‘s 1799. Explanation forthcoming.
HAYES: Conservatives want to party like it‘s 1867 or 1912 or 1963 or
any other year before major social progress was made in this country. More
on that coming up later.
HAYES: It‘s been hailed as landmark legislation, the biggest
financial reform since the 1930s, a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street.
But for all the hyperbole, there is one very important thing missing
from the bill the Senate passed last night. Something that would change
the culture of casino capitalism that led, in part, to the financial
Imagine for a moment you‘re playing poker at a casino where the house
takes a cut of the pot. As the game progresses, you begin to realize that
all the other players at the table also work for the casino and they‘re
taking you to the cleaners. You‘d get the heck out of there and never come
back, because either the casino runs the game or it participates in the
game, but it can‘t do both. Especially, as is the case with the major
banks, if the casino gets bailed out by taxpayers when its bets don‘t pay
And that is exactly what the so-called Volcker rule was crafted to
prevent. To stop banks who play the role of the casino in our markets from
also betting on extremely risky investments.
Yet in an amendment ensuring enforcement of such a measure died
without even being brought up for a vote. This is critical. And how it
happened and the bill that resulted from it happening are the whole ball of
wax in trying to judge the government‘s response to the great financial
meltdown of 2008 and 2009. So how did it happen?
For that, we turn to Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute
and a blogger at Rortybomb.
Thanks for your time tonight, Mike.
MIKE KONCZAL, FELLOW, ROOSEVELT INSTITUTE: Thanks for having me,
HAYES: First off, Mike, can you explain exactly—I gave it a shot
at the top, but you‘re much better than this at me. What exactly is the
Volcker rule and why is it so important?
KONCZAL: It was a good example with the casino. What the Volcker
rule does is it‘s a simple, straightforward rule that says if you want to
run a commercial bank or if you want to run a hedge fund, you can do
either, but you can‘t do both at the same time.
Commercial banks are the things that, you know, create investment
investments. They fuel the real economy. They handle our paychecks. They
don‘t need a hedge fund, which is something where the firm is betting with
its own money for its own personal gain to be intermixed with it.
And there‘s two really specific reasons why the Volcker rule is
important. The first is that, as you mentioned, we provide social
insurance for our commercial banks. You have FDIC insurance, so you don‘t
have to go running to your bank when there‘s a panic.
We also have the federal discount window which, you know, provides
liquidity to make sure your paycheck is always cashed out by the banks.
Hedge funds don‘t need access to those things to do their job and we
don‘t need to sully our social insurance with that and don‘t need to back
stop hedge funds.
HAYES: Right. So we want to segregate out, essentially, the social
insurance function that protects the banks that we need that we don‘t want
to collapse in panic from the gamblers. So if that makes sense, and it
seems like it makes sense, why did this never get a vote on the floor?
KONCZAL: Well, it‘s already in the bill, but it‘s very weak language
that may be done after a study is conducted, and the government regulators
who could have sort of done this anyway over the 2000s, you know, could
have decided that they could overrule it.
So what Senator Merkley and Levin want to do is put a hard rule in the
law that would make sure that this is there for the next 50 years, the same
way Glass-Steagall was there for the next 60 years until Republicans and
Democrats, you know, pulled it apart in the late ‘90s.
So it never got that actual amendment language never got a vote. The
Republicans blocked it from being voted as an amendment. The Democrats did
not push very hard for it to get put in through the manager‘s amendment or
through other language.
HAYES: Well, that‘s what I want to focus on, because obviously this
is the sort of thing—I mean, banks like Goldman Sachs, they‘re making a
lot of money by being able to play these two roles, right?
And this bill looked like it was going to get the votes, and it really
does seem like, at the end of the day, the Democratic leadership in the
Senate and possibly the White House did not fight to get this in the bill.
KONCZAL: If they fought there‘s no evidence of it. I mean, there
certainly aren‘t any fingerprints of a huge fight on—from Democrats for
Merkley and Levin tried to sneak it in by attachment to an amendment
to exempt auto lenders from consumer financial protection, because we
exempt automakers from everything, evidently.
But when it came time, that actually passed In House and everyone
expected it to pass in the Senate. Obviously, a Republican amendment. But
the time to vote, it was actually withdrawn as an amendment which shows you
who really calls the shots. You know, auto lenders over Goldman sacks.
HAYES: And Goldman Sachs emerges victorious over the auto lenders.
HAYES: Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a
blogger at Rortybomb.
Thanks so much. Have a great weekend.
KONCZAL: Thank you, Chris.
If you‘re not a progressive, are you necessarily a regressive?
Between the arguing of parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the latest
extra-harsh anti-immigrant proposal out there in Arizona, there is but one
movie soundtrack that tells the story of today‘s conservative movement.
What the Grand Canyon, the 14 Amendment, and the “Rocky Horror Picture
Show” have in common, next.
HAYES: Yesterday at around 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, I made this
vow. I said to myself, “Self, I am leaving the Internet until we are no
longer debating the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” And, of course, I failed.
There is no transdermal patch or information-steeped chewing gum that
replaces what the World Wide Webs [SIC] do for you.
Having broken my vow to myself about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it
occurred to me that conservative politics in the year 2010 are most
succinctly described by that great font of cultural and political
(MUSIC: “TIME WARP”)
HAYES: That‘s right, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
In politics today, the winner of the Republican Senate primary in
Kentucky, Rand Paul, takes issue with aspects of a 45-year-old law
outlawing racial discrimination in private businesses offering services to
(MUSIC: “TIME WARP”)
HAYES: Ron Paul‘s Dad, Congressman—Rand Paul‘s dad, Congressman
Ron Paul, is in many senses the Tea Party movement‘s founding father. And
Congressman Paul introduced a bill that would abolish the Federal Reserve
and repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, sending us back to the era of
the gold standard and seasonal financial crises.
(MUSIC: “TIME WARP”)
HAYES: In response to pressure from congressional conservatives after
terrorism arrests, the Obama administration and Congress are reportedly in
talks to change the rules on Miranda warnings, rules that have been in
place for longer than I have been alive.
Under consideration: giving law enforcement a couple of days to
question a suspect before informing him or her of her constitutionally-
(MUSIC: “TIME WARP”)
HAYES: And then it came to light today, more data confirming my
suspicion that conservative America wants to return to a simpler time. In
some cases, a time before things like the Industrial Revolution, Edison‘s
light bulb or the 14th Amendment.
Does the name Russell Pearce ring a bell? Mr. Pearce is a state
senator in Arizona, and he‘s widely credited as the author of Arizona‘s
“papers, please” immigration law.
He has also been photographed with a neo-Nazi.
Today it was reported that Mr. Pearce has been writing to his
constituents, e-mailing them about his latest, great, new, 21st Century
idea. Russell “Papers, Please” Pearce apparently intends to propose a bill
that would empower Arizona to not grant citizenship to all children born in
the U.S., regardless of the legal status of their parents.
As a reference point, here is the first sentence of the first article
of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. “All persons born
or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof
are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
There‘s more, but you get the point.
According to his correspondents, Russell Pearce would shred the 14th
Amendment, which has existed since 1868. In one e-mail, he writes, quote,
“I also intend to push for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or
issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to
Go on. Cue the music.
(MUSIC: “TIME WARP”)
HAYES: You know, trying to roll back a few decades worth of what most
people would call progress is starting to seem—I don‘t know, almost
routine at this point. I mean, any conservative can wage war on the
policies and laws from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The real challenge is going to be turning back all that stuff
from the ‘80s. Like the 1780s. Say, the Third Amendment. I mean, if
conservatives won‘t call for the mandatory quartering of soldiers during
peace time, who will?
Joining us is Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona.
Congressman, thanks for being here tonight.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Thank you very much.
HAYES: Let me begin by getting your reaction to State Senator Russell
Pearce‘s promise to introduce a bill that would essentially repeal the 14th
Amendment in Arizona. Pearce responded today that he‘s disappointed when
people think he is mean-spirited because of this stance on immigration.
How do you respond to that?
GRIJALVA: Well, it goes beyond mean-spirited. Russell Pearce,
architect of almost every major anti-civil rights, anti-immigrant
legislation in the state and now being successful at passing those has had
that agenda forever. It‘s an agenda of hatred. It‘s an agenda of making
evil out of a group of people in this state.
And the consequence of it is that he was successful at 1070,
papers please. He was successful of ethnic studies, and he feels that he
has momentum going for him. And not enough people are standing up to what
I think is—not—not just turning back the clock, but almost a
And if people don‘t want to believe the fact that what he‘s doing
is—is racially motivated and racially based, they‘re missing the whole
point. The whole idea behind his agenda and the whole idea behind the
comments that Rand Paul made are that we have to turn back the clock
because these people, American citizens, be they voters, be they—have
gotten too much.
And the consequence of that is to undercut everything that we‘ve
ever done in this country in terms of values, standards, and due process.
And it is—it‘s frightening, but nevertheless, that‘s a political reality
that many of us are having to deal with right now.
HAYES: I want to—you just mentioned that he feels like he has
momentum at this point and it certainly seems that way. I‘m wondering,
what is the kind of political sensibility in the State of Arizona right
now? It seems from an outsider and obviously I have not been in Arizona
but the way the national media is kind of reporting it, that this kind of
backlash, I mean, people were talking last election that if McCain was—
wasn‘t on the ballot Arizona would have the chance of going blue but it
really seems like it‘s the common kind of bastion of this sort of backlash
reactionary politics. And I wonder what you think has—has triggered
GRIJALVA: Well, I think it‘s been—the demographic shift in the
state. The fact that the state is rapidly becoming a state that is evenly-
matched in terms of color, or a state that demographically is becoming more
Latino, becoming more of color, becoming the prominence of Native Americans
in our state has increased.
And people are feeding on the fear that somehow this is a threat
to a lifestyle, which I think is erroneous. It‘s going to hurt the
economy. It‘s hurting it now to take an attitude that we must be punitive
with them in order for us to survive.
That “us versus them” is being played out in the state, and
unfortunately, unfortunately, leadership has not stood up to it, and not
called it for what it is.
This is a retribution issue against a certain group of people,
and we need to stand up against it. And I think that plays out nationally
and it plays out here in the State of Arizona where we‘ve acquiesced. Ok,
maybe this is a hare-brained idea, but let‘s not say anything because we
need to protect whatever interests we have.
And I think that‘s been the huge mistake that we have allowed
this movement to develop without challenging it.
HAYES: In terms of challenging it, you were one of the first people
to call for a boycott of Arizona, your home state. And since then more
than a dozen governments and organizations have vowed not to travel or do
business with the state. I‘m wondering if the economic pressure has had
any direct political effect, or you‘re seeing it operating is it—is it
having the intended effect on the state?
GRIJALVA: It‘s having an effect, you know? Governor Brewer signed
the bill, it‘s giving a quarter million dollars to put a happy face and put
some lipstick on the pig. The state‘s ok, this bill is ok; it‘s not going
The reaction of people of conscience and organizations of
conscience has been I‘m not going to do business with this state. That
would have happened regardless of my call or anybody else‘s call for
economic sanctions. It is just—I really think that the new backlash is
we don‘t need to tolerate this anymore. And that backlash against this
kind of assault on civil liberties and turning back the clock on Civil
Rights is—is something that Democrats, including the White House, should
be in the lead position as opposed to waiting to see what happens.
HAYES: You were—you were called for the administration, I just
want to—since I have you here, to talk about the Gulf for a moment.
There‘s another oil platform that‘s operating not far from the Deep Water
Horizon. There‘s been a lawsuit now operating—
GRIJALVA: The Atlantis.
HAYES: – yes exactly. And they‘re not, there have been a lawsuit
that they are not operating with the proper engineering documents. You‘ve
communicated to the administration and called for them to stop drilling on
that platform. And while I have you here on the air, I want to ask if you
have heard anything from the administration back on that.
GRIJALVA: Not at that point, but we‘re going to have an opportunity
at a hearing on the 26th of May with Secretary Salazar to ask that
question. We had a canary in the cage letting us know, a whistleblower,
that there are big problems in Atlantis. Horizon happens and we still have
Atlantis, that if anything were to happen there, it would—what happened
at Horizon would be minimal compared to the damage that would do.
And so we‘re asking, suspend operations until you fully
investigate and fully know the impact and the consequences and do the due
diligence that this administration, as an oversight agency should do on
Drill, baby, drill was the mantra. Everybody rushed to it and
now we‘re seeing the consequences of that rush. And we‘re saying take a
deep breath and let us know what is really going on and do the due
diligence that should have been done years ago but was never done and we
acquiesced and let this thing happen without any real oversight.
HAYES: Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, thank you
so much for taking your time to talk to us tonight; a pleasure to have you.
GRIJALVA: Thank you.
HAYES: In January of 2011, will people be saying of the military‘s
“don‘t ask don‘t tell” policy, that‘s so 2010. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
thinks so. Stick around.
HAYES: Welcome back. In a few holy mackerel stories in this week‘s
news and one standard bit of disclosure, the disclosure is that my wife
works in the White House counsel‘s office. And since it‘s hard to do an
hour of TV without talking about the White House, we thought you should
Now to the mackerels: starting with Virginia‘s own religious
right conservative masquerading as a nationally electable moderate,
Governor Bob McDonnell. Last month “The Washington Post” got wind of a new
McDonnell policy on the restoration of voting right no nonviolent felons
who had served their time.
The governor‘s policy would require them to write an essay about
what they had done since their release to deserve their voting rights back.
The pledging policy smelled a lot like a Jim Crow our literacy test. And
as soon as people cried out against it Governor McDonnell tried to pretend
it wasn‘t actually a policy yet just an idea he was kicking around.
Then of course, “The Washington Post” discovered that a couple of
hundred letters had already been sent out to the ex-felons telling them
about the quote, “new requirement”. So of course, the governor tried to
blame the letter on a well-meaning staffer who jumped the gun. An
extremely well-meaning staffer in the governor‘s office it appears.
Yesterday the governor unveiled his final proposal. Prisoners
will now only need to wait two years instead of three before they can apply
to have their voting rights restored and there is no essay required.
Instead, if non-violent felons want to get their voting rights back they
just have to fill out an application; an application that asks for a,
quote, “brief description of civic or community involvement”.
Wait, but doesn‘t that sound a little like an essay? No, no, no,
big difference. It is not on a—I said not, on a separate piece of
Plus, McDonnell told “The Washington Post” that if an applicant
leaves the question blank, it won‘t mean an automatic rejection. McDonnell
said to the “Post”, quote, “We‘ll just assume they don‘t have anything to
say”. That doesn‘t sound ominous at all.
Then there is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who told “The
Hill” newspaper that by the time the big ball of lights drop in Times
Square later this year, the military‘s discriminatory policy towards gays
will be no more. Quote, “I don‘t have any doubt that ‘don‘t ask don‘t
tell‘ will be a memory by the end of this year.”
That puts Speaker—the Speaker on the same repeal timeline as
the President who promised in the State of the Union Address that he would
work with Congress this year to end “don‘t ask, don‘t tell”. To date,
thousands of otherwise qualified people have been kicked out, fired from
the military as a result of the Clinton era policy.
And according to a new report by Service Members United, there
are hundreds more such men and women that were never counted in the
official numbers. The organization found, quote, “630 additional
discharges that have never before been counted in the Department of
Defense‘s official ‘don‘t ask, don‘t tell‘ discharge numbers”.
The 630 were in the National Guard or the reserves and thus not
counted, which means the 17-year total number of discharges under “don‘t
ask, don‘t tell” is at least 14,055.
And finally, when I watched Rachel‘s interview with Rand Paul
this week, I thought the reason she kept going with it for so long was
because he wouldn‘t answer the question. Is the government right to ban
private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race?
And then this morning “The New York Times” reported that Paul had
answered, really, really clearly. Quote, “Asked by Ms. Maddow if a private
business had the right to refuse to serve black people, Mr. Paul replied
Huh? He did? Were the “Times” reporters watching the same
interview I was or maybe just reading the transcript where it does say,
“Maddow: Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don‘t
serve black people? Paul: Yes, I‘m not in favor of any discrimination of
You don‘t remember it that either? Yes that‘s because it didn‘t
happen that way except in the most mechanical sense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Do you think that the private
business has the right to say we don‘t serve black people—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not in, I‘m not in—yes, I‘m not in favor of
any discrimination of any form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, that is not Rand Paul saying yes, as in yes, private
businesses have the right to say they don‘t serve black people, that‘s Rand
Paul saying, “Yes, despite the fact that we‘re talking over each other and
there‘s a delay in the transmission, I can hear you”.
The transcript‘s technically right and totally misleading if you
haven‘t done your homework and watched the segment before sun rising. This
stuff‘s important. It‘s worth another step to make sure we‘re all having
the right discussion of the original discussion.
HAYES: Still ahead, a story for anyone fascinated by mysteries
and poop, and science and poop, and justice and poop. It‘s got it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a parent, I can
also imagine the terror I‘d feel if one of my family members were rounded
up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantanamo Bay without even
getting one chance to ask why we‘re being held and being able to prove my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was then-Senator Barack Obama in 2006 speaking
against the Military Commission Act which denied habeas corpus to detainees
at Guantanamo. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in 2008 that Guantanamo
detainees did have a right to habeas; they could challenge their
imprisonment in federal court.
After that ruling the Bush administration decided that instead of
bringing detainees to Guantanamo, they‘d take them somewhere, another
location outside the jurisdiction of a court; Bagram Airfield in
Afghanistan. Detainees found themselves in the same legal black hole but a
Today there are between 600 to 800 quote, “unlawful enemy
combatants held indefinitely at Bagram” and President Obama is in favor of
it. President Obama is on the exact opposite side of the argument that
Senator Obama was in 2006.
The Obama administration has continued the Bush policy, when
three detainees currently imprisoned in Bagram challenged their status, the
administration argued against them. The White House lost that argument in
front of a conservative judge who ruled the detainees did in fact have a
right to habeas.
So the Obama administration appealed that decision and today
President Obama scored a victory to keep those detainees locked up
indefinitely without even getting one chance to prove their innocence in
court. Why the disparity?
In the unanimous 26-page ruling, the court ruled that Guantanamo
Bay is a quote, “Territory that while technically not part of the United
States is under the complete and total control of our government, in Bagram
the surrounding circumstances are hardly the same, there is no indication
of any intent to occupy Bagram with permanence”.
The ruling went on to distinguish that Bagram is currently in a
theater of war and Guantanamo doesn‘t have the same threats to security.
So when the prison in question is Guantanamo, detainees have a right to a
court hearing. But those held, in Bagram, no chance.
Is this the American way? And why does President Obama oppose
the legal black hole in Guantanamo but is in favor of it in Bagram.
Joining me now is Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at
the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional
Rights. Shayana, thanks so much for being here.
SHAYANA KADIDAL, GUANTANAMO GLOBAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE: Thanks for
having me, Chris.
HAYES: Well, what do you think the court gets wrong when it
distinguishes between detainees in Guantanamo and those being held in
KADIDAL: Right, well, you know the lower court here is the trial
court level and the ruling by one of the most conservative judges in the
district appointed by George W. Bush said, look, there‘s almost nothing to
distinguish Bagram from Guantanamo. The U.S. has complete control over the
facility. The Afghans don‘t have anything to say about its operation.
And then there are no real practical concerns about sending
lawyers in there. You know and the government came back and said, well,
it‘s in Afghanistan and the entire country is an active theater of war.
And what the court said in response to that was well, for these three
petitioners, you know all three of them were non-Afghan, Yemenis and
And they were all picked up outside of Afghanistan and brought by
the United States into Bagram, into Afghanistan to be held there. And the
court said, well, if I allow you—to kick anyone‘s case out of court
who‘s held in an active theater of war that will allow you to hide people
from the court by bring them into an active theater of war.
And you know, you remember, that Guantanamo is really designed in
the same way, to be a place to hide detainees from the rule of law. But
the Court of Appeals today said that it wasn‘t concerned about that. And
the way it distinguished it was really as sort of nonsensical. What it
said was these guys have been held for so long, seven to eight years, and
if you go back to the time they were brought to Bagram. You know, nobody
knew that anybody outside the 50 states who wasn‘t a U.S. citizen had any
right to get into the U.S. courts.
So they are saying there‘s no risk of manipulation to send people
to Bagram back then because we could have just as easily have sent them to
some offshore hell hole and nobody back then knew that any of them had any
sort of rights to get into federal court.
HAYES: So that—so that actually makes me think it maybe is a
narrower ruling than it appears. Which is to say, if you grab people now
and send them, would that same logic the court used apply or that would be
a different story?
KADIDAL: Right, you know, the court was a little bit careful. The
Court of Appeals today was a little bit careful to say, well, if Obama is
thinking about making this into his own Guantanamo by bringing people there
in the future, well, you know, now we are concerned about the manipulation
factor. Because, you know, going forward this looks different from
But as for anybody who has been there for seven or eight years,
no dice. They are out of luck. So in that way, it‘s a little bit like
Bush and Gore where the Supreme Court said, it took this very aggressive
sort of position on equal rights to overturn the recount in Florida but
then said you could never apply this sort of principle anywhere else. It‘s
a one off.
HAYES: I‘m wondering if you‘re surprised by how vociferously the
administration has argued on behalf of this power. I mean I think there‘s
a fear that this is going to become essentially, I mean, we haven‘t quote,
the original Guantanamo but this will become Obama‘s Guantanamo. Is that
something you‘re worried about?
KADIDAL: Well, that‘s certainly a fear. But the real Guantanamo is
nowhere near closing either. And the President has pretty much done
nothing other than improving the conditions there and finding new homes for
some asylum seekers there, has done nothing to distinguish himself from the
You know and the reason is pretty clear why—why
administrations from different parties are willing to keep these places
open. It‘s because nobody wants to admit that most of the people there are
there by mistake. So Major General Stone last August issued a report that
said over—he didn‘t issue it but he wrote it and parts of that leaked
saying, 400 out of 600 Bagram detainees should have never been picked up
should be released.
And we see the same thing in Guantanamo where people were brought
in because of bounty payments, or because, you know, they were the wrong
nationality in Afghanistan.
HAYES: Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantanamo
Global Justice Initiative at the Center of Constitutional Rights, thanks so
much for being here tonight. And have a good weekend.
KADIDAL: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Up next, something very, very important about dogs in
apartment buildings and things dogs are not supposed to do in apartment
buildings. We‘ll be right back.
HAYES: We turn now to our forensic waste correspondent, Kent Jones.
Hey there Kent.
KENT JONES, MSNBC FORENSIC WASTE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. DNA
testing has solves all sorts of mysteries, but probably never this kind.
Check it out.
JONES (voice-over): At Scarlett Place, a posh downtown condo
building in Baltimore a silent enemy stalks the halls and elevators unseen,
relentless and it‘s pooping—pooping inside; again and again, pooping
without any regard for human decency. It‘s CSI: Poop.
DBAL reporter Rob Rublin (ph), spoke to Scarlet Place residents
and dog owner Steve France (ph) and found out that the road to justice may
lie in DNA testing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just swab inside the cheek just like I guess
CSI does it. If poop is found in the building, they have another kind of
kit that‘s used to collect the poop send it off and that poop gets analyzed
to match with whoever might have done it.
JONES: Just to recap, he‘s talking about swabbing inside the cheeks
of dogs who live there and matching that DNA to samples of wayward poop
found in the halls and elevators. So is Scarlet Place ready for a high-
tech poop witch-hunt? Apparently not.
The condo board voted to table the whole idea then come up with
another idea that is more realistic and acceptable. Nonetheless, Scarlett
Place pooper, you‘re on notice. Thanks to DNA testing, you can hide but
you can‘t run.
HAYES: Thank you very much, Kent.
JONES: Any time.
HAYES: That does it for us tonight. I‘m Chris Hayes, Washington
editor of the “Nation” magazine. Rachel will be back on Monday in time for
Geek Week. Until then, you could see of more of my work at TheNation.com.
Have a good weekend, goodnight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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.>