The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/21/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you very much.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We begin tonight with the connection between two stories that we never, ever, ever in a million years thought we would be connecting.
The first story is what‘s going on in Wisconsin, where 68,000 people turned out to protest over the weekend at the state capitol, and thousands more gathered today—day seven of the remarkable protests. That‘s story number one.
Story number two is—fair warning—a story about which we tend to get aggrieved blog comments and voice mails from my mom whenever we show these pictures. But there‘s no other way to explain the story without showing these pictures. Oh, yes.
Ladies and gentlemen—the few, the proud, the Wackenhut. A private security company that our tax dollars have been paying to guard the U.S. embassy in Kabul. They‘re still there actually—still getting paid to guard the U.S. embassy in Kabul 17 months after these pictures of them at work surfaced.
These pictures, which as you can see, show American defense contractors simulating sex, posing semi-nude, wearing coconut brassieres, and shooting vodka out each other‘s hind quarters, these guys worked for a subsidiary of the firm Wackenhut while they were doing this, teaching the world that it‘s possible to drink vodka out of places nobody had any idea you could or should drink out of before.
The connection between what‘s going on in Wisconsin and what went on in Kabul with those guys‘ pants off is what the governor of Wisconsin is doing right now, he has tried before. The governor of Wisconsin who has thrown his state into chaos by trying to strip union rights from people who work in the state, he has tried this before with disastrous results, and with Wackenhut.
This is the Milwaukee County courthouse. As you can see, it is a very pretty building. When Scott Walker was in charge in Milwaukee, he decided to fire the security guards who worked at the courthouse and at two other county buildings. They were public employees. They represented by a union. And Scott Walker just fired them.
Now, the county board was opposed to that. They rejected his plan. But then after he was blocked by the county board, Mr. Walker just unilaterally insisted that he could do it anyway. He just seized the power to do it, claiming he had the right because there was a budget emergency.
And so, all of those union security guards got fired, and Scott Walker replaced them with the butt vodka company guys. He replaced them with Wackenhut, with a private company called G4S Wackenhut, which is based in the U.K., and which uses, naturally nonunion security guards. Mr. Walker fired all of the union guards and replaced them with private nonunion guards.
This is like the dress rehearsal for what Scott Walker is doing at the state level right now, and it may offer a little bit of foreshadowing as to how this is all going to work out. An arbitrator in Wisconsin ruled just last month that the so-called “budget emergency” that Scott Walker used to justify hiring the butt vodka company guys by decree, doing it unilaterally, that justification was essentially ginned up. Quote, “The county did not have a true budget crisis at the time—according to the decision from the arbitrator.”
It‘s true the county was facing budget shortfall, but again, according to this arbitrator, not big enough one to justify Mr. Walker‘s “hair-on-fire, it‘s an emergency, I can do what I want” actions.
Also, firing all of those union guards did not turn out to save the money that Mr. Walker said it was going to save. Since Scott Walker hired the coconut bra vodka guys, the county has since had to revise down, way down, how much money that would save. It turns out they over-guessed by more than $330,000.
But wait, there‘s more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: An arbitrator just ruled Walker overstepped his authority, and now, the county must give those guards their jobs back and provide back pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Scott Walker‘s last big cost-saving, bust the union stunt could ultimately end up costing his former employer, Milwaukee County, close to a half million dollars after all is said and done.
And you may be shocked to learn—it turns out the coconut brassiered, drinking vodka out of your friend‘s orifices company didn‘t do that great a job for the people of Wisconsin, once Scott Walker gave them those used to be public, used to be union jobs. The man Wackenhut installed as the security chief for all of the locations where all of the union guards had been fired was a man with a criminal record, that included jail time. That‘s who they picked for their security chief.
So, the last time Scott Walker did something like this, in his desperation to get rid of employees who joined unions, he improperly fired them, he overestimated how much money that would save, and then he allowed for a private, foreign-based, butt vodka company to put a convicted criminal in charge of security at the Milwaukee courthouse and city hall. Woo hoo! That‘s Wisconsin‘s new governor. That‘s where he comes from.
The playbook here is clear. The priority is to get rid of the unions, to break them up. The pretext to do that is financial, but it is clear that it is just a pretext.
The unions at the center of this fight offered to the governor, they said they would essentially give him all the financial concessions he said he wanted. But he said no to that. He doesn‘t want those financial concessions. He wants to strip them of their union rights or he wants nothing. Finances are just a pretext.
Among the most expensive benefit package the state pays for any union employees are the ones for the unions that supported Mr. Walker when he ran for governor. Those also happen to be the only ones who are exempted from his union-stripping plan. If this was really about money, those ones would be the first ones on the chopping block, but it is not all about money. Finances are just a pretext.
In the midst of the supposed budget deficit emergency that makes necessary this dramatic anti-union bill, the governor supported adding about $140 million to the state‘s deficit, when he passed a bunch of tax cuts without paying for them. Finances are just a pretext.
When Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey announces that he needs to do the same thing because of his budget crisis, he‘s expected to announce that tomorrow. And when Governor John Kasich of Ohio moves to do the same thing in his state because of his budget crisis, it will be a pretext in those places, too.
Republicans understand that the business interests that support them have always wanted to get rid of unions—as it has always been and as it will always be. But more directly, Republicans understand sources of Democratic political power, and they understand sources of Democratic political power well enough to be focused across the country on how they can destroyed those institutions.
Corporations, broadly speaking, support Republicans. In the last election cycle, Chamber of Commerce made donations that were 93 percent Republican. But the people who cash paychecks instead of sign them, the people who work for companies instead of own those companies, actual humans instead of conglomerates, labor unions, those groups, broadly speaking, do tend to support Democratic causes.
Here again are the top 10 big money contributors in last year‘s elections, seven of the top 10 are right wing. The only three that are not are—ding, ding, ding—unions. Republicans understand enough about the sources of Democratic political power to want to destroy the institutions that make it possible for Democrats to compete in elections.
The question is whether or not Democrats understand the sources of their political power well enough to defend those institutions against Republican attacks. Republicans, ideologically speaking, like to talk smack about the government, right? Government is the problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Government is the problem. That‘s always the great awkwardness at the heart of Republicans campaigning for political office.
If you don‘t like government so much, if you think that government is the problem, why do you want to be in charge of it?
But there are two things that Republicans really like about having government power. One is the opportunity to hive off things government does and give them to private companies to be done for profit instead. Hello, you there in the coconut bra.
The other thing they have a real passion for is using public policy to attack and dismantle institutions that support Democrats electorally. So, just in case it wasn‘t crystal clear enough, that‘s what‘s going on in Wisconsin, that that‘s what explains why 70,000 are in the streets of Madison this weekend.
Just in case it wasn‘t clear enough, when the Republicans in Wisconsin announced today what they‘re going to do while the Democrats are gone—while the Democrats are out of state, denying the Senate the quorum it needs to vote on this union-busting thing, guess what the Republicans are going to do while the Democrats are away? Guess what they‘re going to do next?
It is a bill to make it harder to register to vote in Wisconsin. You know, weirdly, we used this last week as an example of the kinds of issues that Republicans do this on. As an example of the way Republicans use public policy for partisan ends, to benefit their own party and hurt Democrats.
Registering new voters has long been a great source of Democratic electoral strength. Why is that? Because young voters and people who haven‘t voted before do tend to vote Democratic. So, if Republicans can make it really hard to register to vote, they can take away one of the ways that Democrats win in elections. If you make it harder to register to vote, you make it harder for Democrats to win elections.
Republicans understand what institutions help Democrats win elections and they are using public policy to dismantle those things, for partisan purposes. So, while they are waiting to destroy the unions in, say, Wisconsin, in the meantime, while they are waiting to do that, they will use their time to destroy voter registration drives. Republicans understand Democrats well enough to know what to attack in order to weaken Democrats.
The question now is: do Democrats understand their own institutions and their own strengths well enough to know that they ought to be defending them?
MADDOW: Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has left the relatively docile confines of the Beltway for the protests in Wisconsin. She will join us from there next.
There‘s also extraordinary news continuing to break in the nation of Libya. It has been a confusing day of dramatic but often conflicting reports. There are almost no western news assets able to get into Libya and report what‘s going on there. But what we can confirm for you tonight in terms of reporting tonight is incredible.
Also, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is in part in Kansas for the latest in the legal battle involving the extreme anti-abortion movement there.
And we are following news from New Zealand where an earthquake
inflicted significant damage just hours ago. We will report what we know
about that as well this hour
It is a crazy busy night. And we‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: As goes Wisconsin, so goes Ohio? So goes Indiana?
Tomorrow, protests are expected in Columbus, Ohio, against anti-union proposals from the Republican governor there, John Kasich. In Indiana, Republicans in the state legislature today also moved their anti-union bill ahead. And the resulting protests in Indianapolis looked frankly a lot like what the protest in Madison looked like this time last week before they grew to something approaching 70,000 people over the weekend.
Republicans think they‘ve got a good thing going with this union stripping-thing they‘re trying to do across the country. Democrats may be starting to realize they have got a good thing going by sticking up for themselves against it.
Joining us now, live from Madison, Wisconsin, is Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, whose district includes Madison and the surrounding area—
Representative Baldwin, thanks for being there in the cold and making time for us tonight. I really appreciate it.
REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, thank you for covering this important story. We are really glad.
BALDWIN: A great crowd here.
MADDOW: I can tell that you are among friends! Absolutely.
BALDWIN: We are. Solidarity is breaking out. Democracy is breaking out. It‘s wonderful.
MADDOW: What do you see as the stakes here? Why have you been at the state capitol this weekend and today?
BALDWIN: Well, you know, Wisconsin has a proud decades-long tradition of supporting workers rights, supporting civil rights, and being a leader and first in this country. And in the first six weeks of Scott Walker‘s governorship, he is proposing to erase all of that six decades of progress.
And we‘ve drawn a line in the sand, this is about workers rights. As you‘ve explained so carefully, it‘s not about balancing the budget. This is about fundamental human rights and people want to be heard. You‘re seeing democracy break out all over.
BALDWIN: People want a voice in this debate. They don‘t want this bill rammed through.
MADDOW: The Republican strategy seems to be to not budge an inch, not negotiate, to wait it out. Do you have confidence being out there, talking with your constituents, that the protesters will have the stamina to keep the pressure on if this goes for on awhile?
BALDWIN: You know, I‘ve been talking to protesters on and on, and people have resolve. People have really committed themselves to this battle—because they recognize that this is now something that the whole nation—in fact, the whole world—is watching. And people—my colleagues all last week kept coming up to me saying, look, you have to succeed in Wisconsin, because if you don‘t, my state will be next.
They have the resolve.
MADDOW: If the public sector union—if the public sector unions are broken by Republicans in Wisconsin, do you think there is a national effect of that? In the sense, I recognize that people think that their next state is next, but do you think there is a partisan motivation here? It is Republicans who are pushing these things in so many states, and it is Democrats who are pushing back.
BALDWIN: It is absolutely—this is absolutely about union-busting and politics. And I think if we don‘t succeed here in Wisconsin, there is trouble that‘s going to happen elsewhere. And as you just noted, this effort is combined with the voter ID law, and perhaps our same day registration on Election Day might be put in jeopardy also.
This is about politics, but we have drawn a line in the sand here in Wisconsin. We are going to keep on going. Democracy is breaking out!
MADDOW: Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin whose district includes Madison, I can tell that you‘re going to have a very good night tonight among your constituents there. Thank you for your time, ma‘am. Appreciate it.
BALDWIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I should mention—happy people there. I should mention that this week, the law enforcement agencies who are keeping everybody safe at the state capitol out in Madison, they put out a statement on Saturday, on the day when there were 68,000 people there, thanking the demonstrators, saying there‘d be no arrests and no serious incidents.
They said, “You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree.”
A thank you letter from law enforcement.
So, we got a giant soul of our politics fight going in the American Midwest right now, which is what we put at the top of the show tonight.
Hard cold, though, because in the Mideast, they are not just having a soul of our politics fight. In the Mideast, they are having a literal fight for who controls the country—things took an ugly turn, and then a dramatic turn, and then a really, really, really weird turn in Libya tonight where it looks like the government may be toppling. That is up next.
MADDOW: Five and a half weeks after Tunisia ousted its dictator of 23 years, 10 days after Egypt ousted its dictator of 30 years, the country right in between those two other countries, Libya, appears to be on the verge of following suit.
Because of a ban on any kind of independent reporting, there are almost no international journalists there to witness it. Instead, we are looking at YouTube footage and relying on witnesses‘ reports to describe what appeared to be thousands of people protesting in the streets of the capital, Tripoli, as well as across the country. Protesters have apparently taken over several significant towns, including Libya‘s second largest city. They have also apparently seized two of the country‘s state-run satellite news channels.
Witnesses say response to all of this by Moammar Gadhafi, Libya‘s the dictator of over 40 years, was to order his air force to attack parts of the capital city. Gadhafi‘s own son is denying that the air strikes targeted protesters, claiming instead that the aircraft were only bombing weapons depots. The same Gadhafi‘s son delivered a rambling 40-minute speech after midnight local time, blaming the BBC, and, weirdly, drug addicts, for the current unrest.
As for the whereabouts of his father, rumors that Gadhafi had he fled to Venezuela were being spread by the British foreign minister, William Hague, today. Those rumors were then denied by Hugo Chavez‘s government in Venezuela. But then, late tonight, Gadhafi himself put out one of the weirdest statements I have ever seen by any leader of any country in any circumstance.
Have you seen this? Libyan state TV had been saying for hours that Gadhafi would make a statement. So, everybody was expecting a speech like his son gave the night before, or maybe something defiant, but oddly lit and pre-recorded like the Mubarak statements before he was forced out. But apparently that would not be nearly weird enough for Colonel Gadhafi.
When he finally did go on TV at approximately 2 a.m. local time, the entire thing lasted 20 seconds. It was very strange. It involved a truck, a hat, and a big white umbrella.
Ready? This is it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): I want to have some rest. Because I was talking to the young man at Green Square, I went to stay the night with them, and then it started raining. I want to show them I am in Tripoli, not in Venezuela. Don‘t believe those dogs in the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then it went to black. What‘s with the hat? I don‘t know. The umbrella and also the truck? Yes. No idea.
Even if Gadhafi is still in Libya in his hat, in his truck with his umbrella, that did not stop his regime from starting to apparently fracture today. Egypt‘s army reporting on its border with Libya today, Libyan border guards have started abandoning their posts.
How did the Egyptian army make that statement today? Naturally, they put it on their Facebook page. Hey, it‘s the new Egypt.
There were also reports tonight that a group of high ranking Libyan military officers have called on Libya‘s army to take power there. Effectively, the military should side with the protesters and against Gadhafi. Two Libyan air force colonels flew fighter jets to Malta today and reportedly asked for political asylum there. Libya‘s ambassadors to China, to India, to Indonesia, to Poland and to the Arab League all quit today.
And the Libyan delegation to United Nations says Gadhafi was committing genocide against his own people. His own ambassador said this. The delegate pledged their support for the protestors against the government that they served.
As to the American response, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a strong statement saying the U.S., quote, “strongly condemns the violence in Libya. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed.”
Joining us now is my friend and the host of “HARDBALL,” Chris Matthews.
Thanks for your time tonight, Chris. It‘s nice to have you talk about this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: Rachel, you are so—you have caught the weird. I was thinking three men in history identified with the umbrella. Louie Philippe, the bourgeoisie king of France, Neville Chamberlain at Munich, and now, Moammar Gadhafi. The three umbrella men.
MADDOW: To have the hat and the umbrella and the truck all together -
I mean, it‘s clear it was raining, but this goes down in the annals of all time strangest 20-second statement. What do you think is going to—what do you think is going to happen in Libya? And what do you think the U.S. is going to do about it, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s going to make Bartlett‘s. I‘m in Tripoli, not in Venezuela. I think that‘s Moammar‘s contribution to Bartlett‘s quotations.
Look, I don‘t know. I think he‘s had his 40 years. He went in with Nixon back in ‘69. I mean, the “sell by” date is apparent now. We thought Seif Gadhafi was going to be his successor. I think the people saw that coming. I think we saw the same thing in Egypt.
Once it‘s clear that the aging of the current president is not going to bring change but continuation, that‘s when they seem to strike, the people in the streets. They say oh, my God, if we don‘t strike now, we‘ve got another era coming of the same.
MADDOW: Chris, the White House says that it is confident it handled Egypt in the right way. At least the president at his last news conference said he‘s happy with how they dealt with it at every step.
How—do you feel we have learned anything important here about foreign policy in this administration? About how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama work together as a team?
MATTHEWS: Well, when I heard what you‘re going to talk about tonight, I was thinking back all the way, as far as I could possibly remember, I think we‘re always right to back nationalism. I think you‘d agree with that.
Nationalism, in the end, the pride of a country in the country, is
almost always something you‘d better be behind. We were with it in Eastern
and Central Europe in the ‘80s. We were not with it in Asia when we fought
in the wars in Asia. But I think nationalism is always—we see it here -
Take the same policy you take at home. Go for expansion of freedom, if you can, and you usually can. And always go with nationalism and expansion of freedom, and you‘ll probably end up being on the right side. Go with repression, like we do with Batista, like we did with the shah, and you lose. Go with Mandela, even if late, you‘re better off. Get with it as fast as you can.
The best thing we ever did in Africa was back in the CAAA sanctions against the apartheid regime and we were with Mandela when he came up. The best thing Jack Kennedy when he came was back the freedom movement in Africa. We are with them all the way, starting in Algeria. In ‘57, he did that.
And so, we can be on the right side of history, even though we‘re an older country. And so, I think it‘s nationalism and liberalization, go with them when you can.
MADDOW: Chris, I know your new documentary about Bill Clinton premiers tonight at 10:00, right after the show.
MADDOW: Do you think that there is a—that there‘s a solid line connecting the Bill Clinton approach to foreign policy and the Barack Obama approach? Is there important—are there important differences about the way these two presidents approach problems and chaos like this?
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re with the people. They‘re popular. I mean, when you see tonight, one thing that‘s going to grab you I believe knowing you is the scene when Kevin Spacey describes this scene with (INAUDIBLE) in Ghana, when Bill Clinton, the word gets out that he‘s coming, this former president from a Western country, and the people come by tens of thousands just when they hear he‘s coming and they start whispering and yelling “Peacemaker, peacemaker.”
I think we can be with the good guys. We can be there.
I think Bill Clinton is a more traditional politician than Barack Obama. Barack Obama, his heart was with the people. I could see it from the beginning. Bill Clinton is with the popular movement generally because he‘s a really good politician; whereas Barack‘s heart leads him.
Hillary Clinton, much more for stability, much more pro-conservative Israeli policy. But I think the mix is interesting. I think they got—Frank Wisner and Hillary got a little off base there, I think. The president didn‘t like that. You know what I mean? Too many signals we were with Mubarak sticking around. Too nice at the end.
I mean, it wasn‘t personal. It was bad politics. I think Barack‘s heart is with the people and they know it. I think it is a good place to be.
MADDOW: Chris Matthews, whose “HARDBALL” documentary, “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon,” premiers tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, about which we are all very, very excited.
MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.
MATTHEWS: Thanks a lot. Thank you.
MADDOW: Why part of this show has decamped to Kansas tonight, and why the rest of it may be on its way, coming up next.
MADDOW: Last week, on an almost party line vote, Republicans in the House voted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood nationwide. So if you or anyone you know has ever gotten a pap smear or a checkup or contraception or anything at Planned Parenthood, you have House Republicans to thank for trying to make that go away.
Friday‘s vote is part of a big antiabortion juggernaut by Republicans in Washington now who everyone else thought won the last elections because of fiscal issues and high unemployment, but who appear to have convinced themselves that the American people sent them to Washington to make abortion much harder to get to grow the government to the point it can insist on its own chosen outcome to your pregnancy, thus relieving you of the burden of that decision, thus relieving you of that freedom.
Aside from voting to cut all funding for Planned Parenthood, Republicans in the House are also trying to eliminate coverage for abortions from health insurance policies. They would do it by raising taxes, raising taxes on any policy that covers abortion.
The net effect of which would be to likely cause all insurance companies to just stop covering it. Who, after all, is going to choose the raise-your-tax-rate insurance plan specifically to cover something no one ever thinks they‘re going to need.
House Republicans also want to let hospitals and medical providers refuse to perform abortion-related services or even refuse to refer women to places that will, even when the life of the mother is at risk.
“I recognize you might die because of it, ma‘am, but I‘m so antiabortion that I refuse to help you stay alive.” It is a difficult position for a movement that wants you to call them pro-life.
But House Republicans have decided to interpret last elections as a mandate from the American people to push for multiple, extreme, across-the-board national abortion restrictions, so they are going for it.
In 2008, 35 years after Roe versus Wade, 87 percent of all counties in this country lacked an abortion provider. Eighty-seven percent of counties - no provider. Abortion is a constitutionally-protected medical procedure that has been made functionally unavailable in all but 13 percent of American counties.
In part, that is because people opposed to abortion rights have decided to target doctors who provide them. Attacking and threatening and harassing doctors so intensely over the years that a doctor‘s choice to provide abortions is something that takes not just time and training, but a significant measure of personal bravery as well.
Legally, constitutionally, American women have the right. Functionally, the intimidation tactics of the antiabortion movement made it all but impossible to exercise that right.
In many parts of the country and rather than act to protect the availability of this procedure against the movement that targeted it, House Republicans have decided to pile on, to use public policy in Washington to make it less available.
On the front lines, too, American institutions that, in other circumstances, would be expected and called on to protect victims of harassment and intimidation, those institutions have been turned by conservative politicians into instruments of just further harassment and further intimidation of those people who are already victims, the kind of thing you expect in a place where the government is called the regime, not here at home, not here in the American heartland.
But that‘s what happened. In 1986, a doctor in Wichita, Kansas relocated his entire medical practice, including his staff and his patients, to a secret, temporary makeshift clinic.
He did it because his actual clinic, the place he regularly saw patients, had been bombed. So the only way he saw fit to continue, the only safe way to keep seeing patients in the immediate aftermath of this attack on his practice, was to go underground.
Five years after Dr. George Tiller‘s clinic was bombed and he went underground, thousands of antiabortion activists from all over the country converged on his practice in Wichita.
They spent the summer of 1991 physically blockading the entrance to his practice, preventing patients from getting in to see the doctor just by sheer force of volume. Two years after that, in 1993, this woman, Shelley Shannon, who had been there at the so-called summer of mercy protests in Wichita - she walked up to Dr. Tiller‘s car in the parking lot of his clinic and shot him.
Shelley Shannon did not succeed in killing Dr. Tiller. She shot him in both arms. He returned to work the next day. But the man that would ultimately kill Dr. Tiller 16 years later, the man who would go on to shoot Dr. Tiller at pointblank range in his church - this man, Scott Roeder, would first pay more than two dozen visits to Shelley Shannon while she was in prison.
Scott Roeder told the writer, Amanda Robb, that it was during this time as he grew close to the woman who had tried to kill Dr. Tiller that he began thinking about killing the doctor himself.
But here‘s the thing. In March 2009, it was Dr. Tiller who was the one who was on trial. He faced 19 misdemeanor criminal charges, alleging that he had an improper relationship - an improper financial relationship with a doctor who provided the second opinions required by law on late-term abortions.
Scott Roeder attended that trial several times. But after deliberating for less than an hour, the jury returned with not-guilty verdicts on all 19 counts. Scott Roeder was devastated. He said that that outcome, Dr. Tiller‘s acquittal on those 19 misdemeanor charges in spring of 2009 - he has said that was part of what pushed him to murder the doctor two years later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you decide it was incumbent upon you to do something?
SCOTT ROEDER, CONVICTED OF DR. GEORGE TILLER‘S MURDER: There was nothing being done, and the legal process had been exhausted. And these babies were dying every day. So I felt that I need to act and quickly for those children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Tiller and his attorneys at the time were confident that he had acted properly, that they would get a good, fair trial. They had never been all that worried about those charges, those 19 misdemeanor charges.
But the antiabortion movement had seen it as their best chance yet at getting Dr. Tiller shut down. In Kansas, you can convene a criminal grand jury just by getting enough signatures on a petition, something the antiabortion group, Operation Rescue, did start investigations of Dr. Tiller twice.
Neither of those grand juries ended up charging him with anything. The antiabortion movement had tried to get at Dr. Tiller through the legal system, but nothing ever seemed to stick, until they got those 19 misdemeanors, those charges that actually got Dr. Tiller into the courtroom.
How can you get from essentially no real results from citizen petition grand juries turning up nothing on this doctor, to 19 criminal misdemeanor charges that actually forced him into court?
It was a long and winding journey, but it all started when you got this guy elected, state attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Has any of you heard of George Tiller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Tiller performed late-term abortions in Wichita and has for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another example in Kansas is George Tiller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abortion is George Tiller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to first tell you who does not endorse Attorney General Phill Kline. Abortionist Dr. George Tiller does not endorse Phill Kline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Phill Kline took office in 2003 as state attorney general in Kansas, he allegedly set in motion a plan to use his power as attorney general to target Dr. Tiller.
Today he stands accused by the disciplinary board in Kansas, essentially at state bar, of ethics violations. Kline and his staff are accused of misleading judges and state officials in order to get information from state agencies and to get medical records from Dr. Tiller.
Kline is also accused of lying about what he and his staff were doing with those medical records. According to the complaint against Mr. Kline, what they were doing was comparing medical records subpoenaed from Dr. Tiller‘s office, redacted records that didn‘t include patients‘ names.
They were comparing those to records they had subpoenaed from a nearby hotel where Dr. Tiller‘s patients often stayed. They compared those two sets of records in order to un-redact them essentially, in order to learn names of patients.
As alleged in the complaint, quote, “The document created as a result of this effort lists 221 potential adult-patient names, 221 adult-patient addresses (street city and state), and 221 adult-patient telephone numbers.
Hey, do you need to see a doctor? Have you considered the possibility that your state attorney general will use the powers of his office to subpoena your medical records if you see a doctor he doesn‘t like, so then your medical tests and procedures or diagnoses, your name, your address, your phone number all end up getting gone through in some state government office somewhere?
According to the complaint against Mr. Kline, his staff also, quote, “engaged in an effort to identify visitors and employees of Dr. Tiller‘s clinic by staking out the clinic, following visitors and employees to their vehicles and recording automobile license plate numbers.”
As attorney general, Attorney General Phill Kline tried to use information he got during his George Tiller inquisition to file criminal charges against Dr. Tiller. But the local prosecutor in Wichita where Dr. Tiller practiced had those charges dismissed. And then, Phill Kline lost his reelection bid in 2006.
But you know what? All those medical records - they were still around, and the new attorney general ultimately used them to file those 19 misdemeanor charges against Dr. Tiller. And that‘s how they got him into court, even none of them stuck.
Those charges he was acquitted of so quickly in March of 2009 at that trial that was being so closely watched by the whole antiabortion movement, including by Scott Roeder himself in person, the guy who ultimately killed him.
Phill Kline could be disbarred for the way he targeted Dr. Tiller, for the way he conducted his inquisition, for the way he used his office to take the side of the people that had been trying to put Dr. Tiller out of business by any means necessary.
Today was day one of Phill Kline‘s ethics trial in Topeka, Kansas. As promised, the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW was there.
Joining us now from Topeka, is RACHEL MADDOW SHOW producer, Rebekah Dryden. Rebekah, thanks very much for being there. I know you hate being on camera. Let us know what happened today at this hearing.
REBEKAH DRYDEN, PRODUCER: Well, Rachel, the hearing barely got under way today. This was one of what promises to be a lengthy process. Mr. Kline himself did testify today. His testimony started today. It will continue tomorrow.
We did get a chance to talk to Phill Kline on his way into the hearing this morning as well as a number of the antiabortion movement members who were here to support him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) I would like to ask you how you‘re thinking about
defending yourself, sir, what your plan is for -
PHILL KLINE, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF KANSAS: With the truth. With the truth.
DRYDEN: Anything more you want to say about that?
KLINE: I think it will reveal itself during the hearing, and I‘m excited about having the opportunity to share the truth.
DRYDEN: What do you do, worst case scenario? What do you do next?
What happens to you?
KLINE: Well, I‘d walk out of this room. I‘d still speak the truth. So I mean, their contemplation is whether it violates any rules and then what section. I can‘t speak for them. I know what I‘d do if I was in charge of this hearing.
DRYDEN: Mr. Kline, do you yourself believe abortion should be made illegal?
KLINE: Do I myself? Yes. Another comment about that. I am also anti-murder and I put a lot of murders away, too. I follow the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Phill. God bless you.
DRYDEN: Sir, have you been following the case for a long time?
GARY SHEWMAKE, PHILL KLINE SUPPORTER: No. I just got a call from one of the ladies that filled in and I said I do want to be in here.
DRYDEN: Tell me why it is important to you.
SHEWMAKE: Well, Phill Kline is trying to do all the right things for those that are hurting, and I support him for what he stands up for.
DRYDEN: So when you say those who are hurting, tell me who you mean.
SHEWMAKE: Well, the way I‘m understanding it, the people who has countered abortion years ago - and the abortionists don‘t like what Phill is trying to get done.
DRYDEN: And what do you think he is trying to get done?
SHEWMAKE: Well, he is trying to help clear up the process, but finding out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) understand items from the past, he‘s trying to find out who some of these guilty people are, and the abortionists don‘t like that.
CHERYL SULLENGER, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, OPERATION RESCUE: We want to make sure these people know there are people watching them and that they‘re accountable to the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DRYDEN: Now, that last person you heard from - that was Cheryl Sullenger. She‘s the senior policy analyst for Operation Rescue, which is an antiabortion group based in Wichita, Kansas.
And if her name sounds familiar, it was her name and number that was found on a piece of paper on the dashboard of Scott Roeder‘s car when he was pulled over and arrested after the murder of George Tiller.
MADDOW: RACHEL MADDOW SHOW producer, Rebekah Dryden, thank you for your reporting out there, Reb. Keep it up. We‘ll see you soon.
DRYDEN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: We‘ll be right back with more.
MADDOW: Abortions are not available in south central Kansas right now. The absence of services does not appear to be because of lack of demand for the service. And there are doctors in that region willing to provide the services to meet that demand, to meet that need.
But reproductive health services in south central Kansas are essentially suspended right now because of violence and intimidation. Violence, because the doctor who used to provide that service in south central Kansas was killed last year because he provided those services.
And intimidation because the doctor who had stepped forward and indicated a willingness to replace Dr. George Tiller is already being targeted in many of the same ways that Dr. Tiller was before he was assassinated. And that has already cost her medical practice its lease.
Joining us now is someone who tracks antiabortion extremism including the folks who are threatening Dr. Mila Means in Wichita right now in the wake of Dr. George Tiller‘s murder. She is DuVergne Gaines, legal coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation. DuVergne, thanks very much for being here. It‘s nice to meet you.
DUVERGNE GAINES, LEGAL COORDINATOR, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION:
Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Can you describe the levels of intimidation, the types of intimidation that abortion providers across the country are getting?
GAINES: Yes. I mean, we see everything from a group of extremist outside tracking women who arrive at the clinic, videotaping them, tracing their license plates, writing them down, to calling for large events that gather out of state, antiabortion extremists and have them come in and have large events where mobs are outside of these facilities where they interfere with clinic entrances and exits, blocking traffic, creating a cacophony outside of the facility so that the patients and the doctors feel and hear what‘s going on outside.
To actual stalking where they‘re following the doctors and the clinic employees to their homes, to their clinics, to their hospitals, to their churches, to the schools where their children go to school, to criminal threats to death threats in the forms of letters and E-mails, and phone calls to actual violence where they‘re attacked or clinic invasions to bombings, arson and murder.
MADDOW: The most visible form of intimidation is something that I don‘t feel very critical of. I feel like I‘m sort of a First Amendment absolutist. I feel like political speech is often a good sign when it‘s loud and raucous and noisy and even confrontational.
But the issue with the antiabortion movement, using that as a tactic, is not just the speech part of it but the attempt to intimidate people from using that service. How do you navigate that as somebody who cares about First Amendment rights? How do you consider the two sides of that?
GAINES: Well, I think the difference is when you have criminal conduct coupled with expression - I mean, no longer can these extremists hide behind the skirts of the First Amendment.
What‘s happened like with the wanted posters which you have covered extensively and so well, these are road maps and they help show and point out and by using the rhetoric that they use in saying, “This is where a doctor is. This is a murderer. These people are killing children,” showing them where they live, pointing out where their church is, pointing out who they are and drilling this information forward over and over again.
Plus the stalking, plus the - you know, following them and the threats. That is not protected by the First Amendment.
GAINES: Also, patients should not be hostages. Neither should people be hostages in their homes or when they go to get health care.
MADDOW: The federal government - at the federal level, there has been some recognition that antiabortion, the antiabortion movement, the extreme end of the antiabortion movement, has conducted themselves in such a way that essentially abortion providers need special protection, this idea of protecting the entrances to clinics so that they can provide the service that they are open to provide.
Is that federal protection doing enough? Should there be more of a special category in terms of law enforcement for making sure that these providers and patients are safe?
GAINES: Well, I think that we have some excellent laws available right now. First of all, we would like these individuals, especially the extremists, to be pursued for criminal stalking, for criminal threats, for criminal trespassing.
Unfortunately, for example, what happened to Dr. Means last week which is this ratcheting up of extremist tactics against her, going to her home, lying in wait after dark for her to get home, you know, invading her family care facility - these other activities - there is no local law enforcement, not a single arrest made yet in Wichita.
But that‘s why, in part, federal intervention is necessary and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act is a very strong and powerful law. It says you cannot, by threat of force or force, you know, threaten these - you know, prevent and inhibit, go after abortion providers.
Therefore, we wish the federal government would go after these extremists with everything that they have.
MADDOW: Given that the law is there and available.
GAINES: Exactly. In addition to federal stalking, cyber stalking and other laws at their disposal. And by “they,” I mean the Department of Justice.
MADDOW: DuVergne Gaines, legal coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation who tracks this stuff we have been reporting on way more than I ever thought we would need to. I have a feeling this will not be the first time or not will be the last time we talk to you. Thanks for being here.
GAINES: Thank you.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. Thanks. Don‘t forget that Chris Matthews returns at the top of the hour with his new documentary about the post-presidential work and life of Bill Clinton. It is really good. You should watch it.
More RACHEL MADDOW SHOW to come before that. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: There is breaking news from New Zealand tonight where a shallow 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Christ Church this afternoon. Local police report fatalities at several locations.
The military is helping with the rescue efforts at this hour. The government has declared a level three emergency, which is the highest level for a regional emergency.
All flights in and out of Christ Church, New Zealand have been canceled. Some of the worst damage is apparently right in the city center. One witness describing it as like a war zone.
In the city center, we know that collapsed buildings crushed two buses and have trapped an unknown number of people. Rescue efforts this evening have been complicated by downed phone lines and by flooding caused by ruptured water lines.
This damage from the 6.3 magnitude quake comes just five months after the same city, Christ Church, New Zealand, was badly damaged by a 7.1 magnitude quake. We will keep you updated as this story continues to develop and as we get more footage.
In the meantime, in terms of this show, there is lots to add to what you have seen on the show tonight including some more footage from our reporting trip to Kansas. That‘s at “MaddowBlog.MSNBC.com.”
Right now, though, it is time for “President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon,” a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton‘s life, hosted by Chris Matthews. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-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 CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2011 CQ-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 CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>