The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/08/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks very much.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Reward—Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine announce a cash offer of up to $1 million. Have you had an adulterous sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official? Can you provide documentary evidence of elicit sexual relations with a congressman, senator or other prominent office-holder? Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine will pay you up to $1 million if we choose to publish your verified story and use your material.
This was a full page ad that ran in “The Washington Post” on Sunday, October 4th, 1998, during the supercharged Bill Clinton impeachment saga. One million dollars if you can provide evidence that you had an affair with a high-ranking government official. A million bucks from Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine.
Not long after that full page ad was published in that Sunday edition of “The Washington Post”—success. Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine‘s quest uncovered the hypocrisy they were looking for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, the search underway for the next speaker of the House. The last man in line for that job has resigned.
BOB LIVINGSTON, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow. I will not stand for speaker of the House on January 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Congressman Bob Livingston in line then to become the next speaker of the House, but forced to resign after Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine got the goods on him. They were about to reveal that Bob Livingston, the guy busy impeaching Bill Clinton, Bob Livingston had himself been unfaithful to his own wife. Not news in itself necessarily, but definitely news in context because of the crusade that Mr. Livingston was on as a congressman and a political leader at the time. It was blatant, humiliating hypocrisy.
The reveal of that and the shocking resignation of Bob Livingston when everybody thought he was about to be speaker of the House, that happened on the same day that the House of Representatives voted to impeach Bill Clinton. At the time, it was just as shocking, which, of course, was the point.
After he resigned, Bob Livingston was replaced in Congress by a young, family values politician who had this to say about the whole sordid Bob Livingston affair. Quote, “I think Livingston stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess.”
That young family values politician went on to have a really bright career in Congress. He campaigned on stuff like protecting the sanctity of marriage. He co-authored the federal marriage amendment to keep gay people from getting married because that kind of marriage is of lower moral class than the kind of marriage that he had.
That young family values politician is a man you may have heard of, his name is David Vitter. David Vitter inherited Bob Livingston‘s seat in the House of Representatives after Bob Livingston had to resign in disgrace over his Bob Livingston sex scandal. David Vitter then went on to become a U.S. senator. And, frankly, he didn‘t really make much of a national impression until about eight years later, until about eight years later when Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine struck again.
In 2007, after it was revealed that a D.C. madam had been running a high end prostitution ring in Washington, Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine took out this full page ad in “The Washington Post.” Look familiar?
Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine announce a cash offer of up to $1 million. Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official. Nine years after they did it the first time, during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine were again on the lookout and willing to pay for it—willing to pay for evidence of political hypocrisy.
Nine years after getting Bob Livingston, Larry Flynt got Bob Livingston‘s replacement. He got David Vitter. They discovered Senator Vitter‘s phone number listed other and over and over again in the D.C. madam‘s phone records. They approached Mr. Vitter‘s office with the prostitution allegations.
Before they could even get a call back, David Vitter went public. He admitted that even though he had called for Bill Clinton‘s resignation over a sex scandal, even though he took the seat of a guy who resigned over a sex scandal, even though he had campaigned and governed as a “no sex for you, I‘m the better moral sexual being than you” guy, David Vitter was guilty of the same serious sin.
But he David Vitter was not going to step down. That is sort of the forgotten element of how David Vitter got exposed story. It was Larry Flynt and “Hustler” magazine who smoked him out. And they did so because of this giant hypocrisy problem that David Vitter had.
Just like with the Clinton impeachment hearings, Larry Flynt was essentially trying to change the politics around this. He was trying to humiliate politicians who build up their own political credibility by denigrating other people‘s family lives and other people‘s sex lives while they themselves are as interesting/creepy/interesting/creepy as anybody else when it comes to affairs, and the hookers and naked pictures and sex in bathrooms, what-have-you.
But the richness and diversity of how politicians fail to keep their moralizing pants on is nothing compared to the richness and diversity of political hypocrisy on this subject. I mean, there‘s the kind of hypocrisy that is co-authoring the federal marriage amendment because of you‘re deep concerned about the sanctity of marriage, while hoping the hookers that you‘re paying outside your marriage are not going to take payment from somebody else to go public with your particular prostitution up charge list.
That‘s one kind of hypocrisy, Senator Vitter. It is whole a different variety of hypocrisy to intone piously about the sanctity of Congress—about how anybody doing anything gross, anybody committing adultery or having any sort of sexual indiscretion must resign from Congress immediately. Keep Congress clean.
Anybody doing anything bad must be treated as a pariah, unless it‘s someone in your own party, then it‘s none of your business.
It‘s that second kind of hypocrisy that is if in full humiliating flower right now in Washington and in the punditocracy. It is called the David Vitter problem. Or at least it ought to be.
If Anthony Weiner must resign from Congress—why mustn‘t David Vitter? Seriously. It is not a hypothetical question.
What you‘re looking at right now is footage from tonight, a fundraiser that happened tonight just a few hours ago in Washington, D.C., a fundraiser for United States Senator David Vitter. These are the guests arriving at a very, very fancy townhouse in Washington, D.C. where David Vitter‘s being toasted tonight by all sorts of D.C. high rollers.
The event is at the home of a very well-connected Washington lobbyist. Suggested contribution for this event, $2,500 per person, or $5,000 if you are a federal registered PAC. David Vitter, the week of the Anthony Weiner scandal is being toasted as a member in good standing of the Republican Party in the United States Senate. David Vitter is still a member of the Senate and still no elected Republican has to our knowledge ever called on David Vitter to resign. Not when he first admitted to being on the D.C. madam list. Not when he decided to run for re-election after the scandal had broken and certainly not now.
And now is finally when it‘s starting to become awkward for Republicans in particular. Chairman of the Republican Party calling on Anthony Weiner to resign because Anthony Weiner he says is a creep. That chairman still cannot bring himself to feel that same way about David Vitter.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, DNC CHAIRMAN: The Democrats ought to show a little bit of leadership and get this guy out of town. He is a representative in the greatest country in the face of the Earth and the Democrats should show some leadership and tell the guy to hit the bricks and go home. That‘s what Nancy Pelosi promised she would do. Obviously, Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn‘t doing it. And someone needs to.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Is there a different with Senator David Vitter? I mean, with his whole little prostitution, he was on a prostitution client list. Is that different?
PRIEBUS: I don‘t know if it‘s different. I mean, this is a different time.
PRIEBUS: Right. I‘m not relitigating the David Vitter situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh. Right. You‘re not—why? I‘m not relitigating.
That was chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, condemning Anthony Weiner going both barrels after Democrats for them refusing to force Anthony Weiner out of office. But refusing to say boo about David Vitter because—because what?
Hookers no biggie for the Republican Party now? Actual sex with actual humans for actual money, family values, marriage amendment co-sponsor senator? No big deal? Water under the bridge? Really?
As we mentioned last night, the House Republican Campaign Committee is at this very moment trying to pressure House Democrats into giving back in shame campaign contributions they received from Anthony Weiner, arguing that keeping that money donated from Congressman Weiner, quote, “indicates that Weiner‘s behavior is both ethical and acceptable for a member of Congress.”
So, if you are a Democrat and you received any money from Anthony Weiner, you must give it back or you done everything he did. That‘s what the Republican Party says. That money is tainted.
Do you want to know who else has been given out money to his colleagues in Congress for quite some time now? Hey! Hi there! It‘s David Vitter.
David Vitter runs something called the Louisiana Reform PAC. Yes.
And over the past three years since his scandal has been public knowledge, David Vitter has given out close to $100,000 to his Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate.
We called the Republican House Campaign Committee today, which was fun, to see if they think that that money, the David Vitter money, is tainted, too. To see if they could encourage Republicans who received money from David Vitter to give that money back to David Vitter. We have not yet heard back from the National Republican Campaign Committee.
We also contacted every single one of the Republican members of Congress who we know to have received contributions from David Vitter‘s PAC, to see if they plan to give the money back. So far, not a single one of them has told us that they will.
When confronted with this really quite embarrassingly blatant David Vitter double standard problem, the Republican Party does not have an answer for it. The chairman of the Republican Party asked about it by Greta Van Susteren as you saw on FOX News can only say, “I don‘t want to talk about that. I don‘t want to relitigate that.”
And that makes sense because there is no answer he can possibly provide here except for “I am a hypocrite, can we please change the subject?” There is no answer to this—except for: it‘s OK when you‘re a Republican. It‘s not OK when you‘re a Democrat.
Anthony Weiner unlike David Vitter did not actually have physical contact with anyone outside his marriage that we know of. He did not break the law by paying a prostitution service for sex. He does not even have a political hypocrisy problem here because he never campaigned on protecting the sanctity of marriage like David Vitter did.
And because of that, if David Vitter is still a member of Congress, if you have not called for David Vitter to resign, if you do not now feel moved to demand that David Vitter resign now in June 2011, how on Earth can you demand that Anthony Weiner needs to resign?
I have no idea if Anthony Weiner is going to resign or not. Frankly, it‘s kind of his business, I would guess. But if you were Anthony Weiner, why would you resign? Knowing that David Vitter is partying at this Washington townhouse tonight collecting checks.
If Anthony Weiner resigns, it means this is a country where we are all OK with people getting pressured to resign doing stuff like this, specifically because they are a Democrat—because Republicans who do stuff like this and significantly worse, not only get to stay in office, but their party gets to keep campaigning on their righteousness as the morals and values party, defending the nations among degenerates among us.
To everyone calling for Anthony Weiner‘s resignation, everyone—left, right and center—do you have a David Vitter problem? Ask yourself. Have you ever called for David Vitter to resign ever? Are you comfortable demanding Anthony Weiner‘s resignation while David Vitter still sits there happily in the Senate?
Don‘t be mad at me. Seriously. Ask yourself.
Joining us now is the man who first diagnosed the David Vitter problem for the nation, love him or hate him, Larry Flynt has exposed this sort of hypocrisy to great effect over the last decade. He is the long-time publisher of “Hustler” magazine, CEO of the Flynt Management Group and author of the book, “One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Change the Course of American History.”
Larry Flynt, thank you so much for being on the show tonight. I really appreciate your time.
LARRY FLYNT, HUSTLER MAGAZINE PUBLISHER: Glad to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: Why did you twice offer a million bucks to expose politicians being hypocrites in their own sex lives?
FLYNT: I only have one vote. That‘s the only way I can affect political change and try to create a revolving door in Washington. And that‘s what we‘ve always been about.
You know, I will tell you a story that you‘ll appreciate. Livingston, when he resigned, he—the day he resigned, he did an interview with “The New York Times.” And they asked him what he thought about me, and he said Larry Flynt is a bottom feeder. So, “The Times” called me for a comment. I‘d said, yes, that‘s right, but look what I found when I got down there.
This guy‘s a pig. You‘ve got to get down in the mud with them.
(INAUDIBLE) madam and he‘s with CNN now, in Washington, he was visiting two different brothels in New Orleans and the thing that drove me bananas about him is he was pushing his abstinence program. Now, would you want him to go around teaching your 13 or 14-year-old all about abstinence?
I mean, these guys are unbelievable. The book that I wrote, scandals were just as bad 200 years ago as they are now. And they just as viciously campaigned against one another. And the Republicans now are trying to set up a double standard with men. But I don‘t think—I don‘t think we should fall for it.
MADDOW: You described wanting to create a resolving door in Washington, essentially wanting to hound these guys, embarrass these guys so that they would get out. But Vitter is still in the Senate, which you can probably tell amazes me. No national Republican calling on Vitter to resign or Ensign to resign.
FLYNT: Well, Rachel, who‘s to blame for that is the Senate. The Senate Ethics Committee is responsible for that. You know how hard Melanie Sloan‘s been working on this, you know? They don‘t want to police, you know, their own members. I just think it‘s unfair that that burden is put on the public. That should be the most important committee that they have is the one on ethics.
MADDOW: Do you think that—that political hypocrisy is the sort of bright line here? If politicians are not being political hypocrites, if they‘re not going after other people‘s sex lives and morals and families, should their private sleeping around stay private or is that still newsworthy?
FLYNT: You know, something that I want to point out here, you know, other than the desire for survival, the strongest single desire we have is that for sex. So, the one medium that we use to communicate with more than anything else we understand it the least.
So, sure, Weiner had his excesses. Everybody has their excesses. A lot of people have trouble keeping them in check.
But I think we ought to look to the issue of what laws were actually broken and not necessarily what somebody‘s moral conduct was.
MADDOW: Do you think that though it matters the way a politician has campaigned, the positions he or she has taken as to whether or not something about their private lives should be made public?
FLYNT: Well, look you play—you become a public figure because you place yourself there, by a job you accept or by an action that you commit. And don‘t get me wrong, I‘m the first guy to defend a philandering president. I think if he can fight two wars and balance the budget at the same time, you should be able to sleep with whoever you want to. So, I‘m sort of an enigma in this Weiner situation.
MADDOW: Mr. Flynt, you once wrote me a really thoughtful letter around the time of the Mark Sanford scandal. You said you felt that Governor Sanford should get some credit for sincerity essentially, for really falling in love.
Do you have a soft spot for these guys, even as they would all try to deport you to Mars if they thought it would make a good campaign ad?
FLYNT: Of all the sex scandals we‘ve had in the last few years, Sanford, I‘ve got some sympathy for. What happened to him is the guy fell in love, you know? With these other dogs, you know, it was just sex.
MADDOW: And you think—but do you think that that means that Mark Sanford‘s—Mark Sanford falling in love and leaving his wife wasn‘t a sandal? We shouldn‘t have covered? Or do you think I made too much fun of him?
FLYNT: No, I don‘t think that excuses him for anything. I just thought it was unusual that it turned out the way it did and the guy really happened to be in love, you know? The problems that he created in his own marriage and for his own political career, that‘s a different situation that he needs to address.
MADDOW: Larry Flynt, CEO of the Flint Management Group, author of the book “One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History,” and unexpected big softy on issues like this—Mr. Flynt, I really appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
FLYNT: OK. Thank you, Rachel. Bye.
MADDOW: OK. So, we just had Larry Flynt on the show to talk about the David Vitter problem. It is possible that my life is complete. So, if I‘m not back after the commercial break, I want you to know that I died happy, OK? OK.
MADDOW: Still to come, Clark Griswold and National Lampoons Family Vacation and a Monty Python skit and newspaper clippings from 1965 help me explain something really important that‘s going on in Mississippi right now. It‘s been a very complicated day at the office today, but it has been a good day.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: On Wisconsin where lots and lots and lots of protesters in streets and the state capitol where the Wisconsin response to that state having all Republican-controlled government this year and to those Republicans using their one-party power in the state to strip union rights and a whole lot more. For their trouble, for the resulting fight in Wisconsin state Senate, a good chunk of the Wisconsin state Senate is going to be up for recall really soon.
Recall elections for six Republican senators and three Democratic senators are scheduled for July 12th. That‘s really fast as elections go. And Republicans would like to slow that down—because you know, this.
So, Republicans have decided to try to push back the recall elections. By forcing there to be a Democratic Party primary election as well before the final recall elections happen.
Now, think about that, though. The primary election is where the Democrats face off against each other to decide who‘s going to be in the general. You only need to have a primary election if there‘s more than one Democrat who wants to compete in the general. If only one Democrat is running, no need for a primary. That‘s what the Democrats are planning on doing. So, the recall elections could be July 12th.
Republicans have decided they don‘t like that idea. And so, Wisconsin Republicans have decided to—I am not kidding—invent fake Democrats, simply for the purpose of forcing there to be a primary election thus delaying the general. They are doing this and we know about it because they are admitting it.
In a letter sent out by two county Republican chairmen and a nearly identical letter obtained by “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” signed by a Republican district‘s chairman, Wisconsin Republicans are being told to support protest candidates—fake Democratic candidates who are not actual Democrats running for office as Democrats. They‘re being told to support protest candidates, fake Democratic candidates in two recall elections. Quote, “We need to make sure Democrat challengers face primaries, to allow our Republicans time to mount a campaign. A Democratic primary will push the general election back by one month so that the Republican can have more time to organize a campaign against his liberal challenger.”
Today, “The Green Bay Gazette” reports a third fake Democrat is entering into a recall race in order to force a primary and delay that election, too. His name, the one reported by “The Green Bay Gazette” today, the name of that spoiler is Otto Junkermann . Thank you.
Otto Junkermann—the best name in politics today. The 82-year-old served in the state assembly as a Republican for one term many, many years ago. Now, he‘s going to run technically as a Democrat just to force there to be a Democratic primary.
When asked if he was a spoiler candidate, Mr. Junkermann told reporters today, quote, “I don‘t know how I could avoid being considered that.”
That unabashedness was matched by the Republican leader in the state Senate who tells “The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” that he fully endorses the idea of the Republican Party fielding fake Democratic candidates in recall elections against Republicans just to delay the general.
Dirty tricks and underhandedness have been part of elections as long as there have been ballot boxes and stump speeches and babies to kiss. But here‘s the thing about underhandedness—it‘s supposed to be underhanded. You‘re not supposed to admit it. You‘re not supposed to be proud of it.
You have to at least pretend that you have some principles about these things. You‘re supposed to at least pretend like you‘re taking a principled stand with your fake candidate spoilers, that it‘s really about your philosophical scruples as Republicans, or about cutting the budget or something.
Although that last one will be a difficult case to make in Wisconsin. You can‘t really say it‘s all about the budget when this thing that you‘re doing talks on an additional unnecessary ginned up primary election that otherwise wouldn‘t have taken place and that will cost Wisconsin taxpayers thousands of dollars for no real purpose other than giving yourself a partisan advantage.
Also awkward is the fact that in dozens of states across the country, Republicans in state government have been ringing the bell about voting integrity, right? The integrity of our elections is under attack, they say. We must protect them with voter ID bills and bills that make it harder to register. Bills that make it more difficult to vote, more difficult to register, and that make those things harder for likely Democratic voters.
But it‘s all about elections with integrity, right? Republicans in Wisconsin, the sanctity of the democratic process and all that, red, white and blue jazz—the manipulation of the election process in Wisconsin right now so bald-face and undisguised that not even the conservative publication, “The National Review” says they can endorse it. Even they were like, guys, we‘re with you generally, but this is a really gross way to win and it might not work.
Quoting from “The National Review”: “This will almost certainly be seen as a dirty trick by media and some voters.” You think? “It certainly appears like an admission that Republicans are struggling. This ploy could backfire.”
And at this point, this year, Republicans in Wisconsin know exactly what it means for something to backfire.
MADDOW: Tonight, “The Best New Thing in the World Today” involves someone named Rocky, who is neither a boxer nor a squirrel. For “The Best New Thing in the World Today,” we have pictures of Rocky from 56 years ago. Pictures that will make you only slightly less happy than the new film we just got in of Rocky now. It sounds complicated but this is basically a small, direct little story about heroes that I think is awesome.
It will make you happy. It is coming up. “Best Thing in the World Today” right at the end of the show tonight. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Happy birthday, Griswold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spent the last 15 years of my life developing new and better food additives. I guess I missed an awful lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, not you, Clark.
Happy birthday to another famous Griswold. Not Clark Griswold.
This week is the anniversary of the Supreme Court‘s 1965 decision Griswold v. Connecticut. Griswold v. Connecticut matters to you because it is the reason birth control is legal in America. Griswold was Estelle Griswold, at the time executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut.
She was arrested in Connecticut for helping married people plan their parenthood, for helping married people get access to contraceptives. That was illegal in Connecticut at the time because, you know, every sperm is sacred or whatever. Estelle Griswold is arrested for the grave crime of aiding and abetting contraception.
The case ultimately makes its way to the Supreme Court of the United States. And in a 7-2 decision on June 7th, 1965, the court rules that despite the fact that some people really, really hate birth control, you cannot make laws preventing people from using it. We all have a right to decide that for ourselves—when and where and how and whether you want to have a kid. That is your decision. The Constitution protects your privacy in that way. That‘s Griswold v. Connecticut.
Every sperm is sacred, that‘s Monty Python. But birth control is legal, that‘s Griswold v. Connecticut—which is a good reminder actually that before Griswold v. Connecticut, we didn‘t have that right and states made the pill illegal.
This year, the Beltway media is just starting to realize, I think, that we are in the middle of the biggest rollback of abortion rights since Roe versus Wade, since abortion was made legal in 1973.
But just as everybody is finally waking up to that reality in this year‘s politics, here‘s another one for you. The anti-abortion movement at this point is so radical and I think so emboldened about their progress recently, that they‘re not stopping at trying to overturn Roe versus Wade. They‘re going for Griswold, too.
They‘re not just trying to roll back abortion rights. They are trying to ban birth control as well.
The American Life League‘s annual protest the pill event was held this last weekend, this past weekend in Texas. Their message: the pill kills. Using birth control makes you a murderer.
The pill kill folks seem like a fringy group, at least maybe on the extreme edge of things, but their politics on birth control—I don‘t know, does it still count as fringe if it‘s being proposed by Republican lawmakers in eight states?
Alabama state house tomorrow could give final approval to a bill that would change the definition of person in Alabama to mean, quote, “all humans from the moment of fertilization and implantation into the womb.” The bill would ban abortion, outright, sure. But because of the way it‘s written, because of the whole fertilization and implantation language, because of the way birth control works—with this bill, Alabama might just be poised to ban the most popular forms of birth control as well.
The word “person” is used literally thousands of times in Alabama state law. So, if this thing passes, then congratulations, not only is the pill probably illegal in Alabama, and not only is abortion illegal in Alabama, but you can now claim your fetus as a dependent on your state taxes in Alabama? Frankly, five minutes after sex, you could ride in the car pool lane alone.
The same kind of legislation also made its way through at least one chamber of the legislature in Montana, in North Dakota, in Oklahoma and Virginia this year. Legislation like this was introduced in Iowa, in Georgia, and in Texas—all by Republicans. In Mississippi, a ballot initiative that would say a person in Mississippi begins at the moment of fertilization, that‘s scheduled to be on the November ballot. It is tied up in court right now—thanks to a lawsuit being fought by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
This personhood ballot initiative was essentially piloted by the fringe anti-abortion anti-contraception movement actually in Colorado. Colorado voters, though, were so turned off by the idea that even though it got on the ballot twice, the ballot measure lost by a 3-1 margin. It lost by a 3-1 margin twice. Once when it was on the ballot in ‘08 and again when it was on the ballot in 2010.
But the folks behind these initiatives are not discouraged by those kind of losses. The key group behind the failed Colorado effort is working to get similar initiatives on the ballot in every state in the country—ballot initiatives that will be called “personhood amendments.” They are presented as anti-abortion measures—which they are—but they do also have the effect offensive banning the pill.
In Mississippi, where the personhood/no more birth control ballot initiative is in court, where it might not make it on to the ballot because of that lawsuit, the supporters of that ballot initiative are going on a P.R. offensive. It is a statewide tour of Mississippi to build public support for their cause, for keeping the “no more birth control” initiative on the ballot.
And I want you to see this. If I just say this, you will think I‘m making it up. So, I want you to see what it is and that it is real.
This is what the P.R. tour in Mississippi for that ballot initiative looks like. Look. It is called the “Conceived in Rape” tour. That‘s the campaign for the ballot initiative, not against it.
That‘s what the anti-abortion people are publicly saying they are for. They are for forcing women who are victims of rape to bear the child of the rapist. And they are making a statewide tour out of it—traveling the state telling the good news about forcing rape victims to bear the rapist‘s child.
This is how Personhood USA is trying to convince Mississippi that they really need to get this personhood/no more birth control/force rape victims to bear the rapist child initiative on the Mississippi ballot and then Mississippi needs to vote for it.
Anti-abortion politics have gotten so radical that this is where they are at. The policy positions are force rape victims to bear their rapist‘s children and ban birthday control.
Happy birthday, Griswold.
Joining us now is Terry O‘Neill, president of the National Organization for Women.
Terry O‘Neill, thanks very much for being here. It‘s nice to see you again.
TERRY O‘NEILL, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: It‘s great to see you again, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the law under which Estelle Griswold was arrested, that law in Connecticut was passed in the 1807s, I think. That state‘s no birth control law at the time. Is that where we‘re headed? We‘re back to 19th century birth control laws?
O‘NEILL: You know, if these radical right wing elected officials have their way, yes. That is exactly where we‘ll be going. It‘s really not so much about abortion—certainly not about abortion anymore.
But, you know, a lot of people in the pro-choice movement have been saying for a long time, it‘s not just about abortion. It‘s about abortion. It‘s about birth control.
And it‘s really about women‘s ability to access the entire range of reproductive health services. And, you know, what‘s going on in the states now trying to stop birth control is I think part of the overall war against women that is absolutely raging in this country.
The part of the war against women is going on in the budget. It‘s really economic. But the part that we‘re looking at right now is really ideologically grounded.
And the ideology is that women need to be subordinated to the dominance of the men in their families. The primary way that you can achieve that goal is to make sure the women don‘t have control over the timing and spacing of their pregnancies.
MADDOW: How do you think the policy arm of the anti-abortion movement got here? How did we get to a point where eight states are proposing legislation that really could ban birth control? Is it the anti-abortion movement influencing the surge of new restrictions in the states? Is this driven by party politics? Where is this coming from?
O‘NEILL: Well, you know, I think right now definitely the anti-abortion movement is driving this because it‘s really an anti-reproductive health care and anti-reproductive rights movement. I think it‘s very unfortunate that the federal government just last year passed a sweeping health care reform law that includes restrictions on abortions. I think that was not helpful. I think that that has helped to embolden more extreme anti-reproductive rights forces to push even further.
I think in addition, that the—you know, that the sweep of the 2010 elections that brought Tea Party member into the United States Congress, that brought this sort of wash of red over some key battleground states for 2012. That is heavily influencing this.
There are a number of states that are bringing hot button social issues to the 2012 election, either through ballot initiatives like in Mississippi, or in other ways specifically for the 2012 elections. So, that‘s part of what‘s going on.
MADDOW: Trying to turn out conservative voters for that presidential election year.
You know, when you look at policy matters where there‘s very lopsided public opinion, that is a big political opportunity for people who are taking the popular side of the issues. Contraceptives are very popular in this country. 90 percent of sexually active women who could get pregnant but don‘t want to use contraception.
But by taking up these personhood bills, these amendments that really could both ban abortion and ban birth control, isn‘t that a huge political opportunity for the Democratic Party? Is anybody taking the other side of this very, very lopsided bet?
O‘NEILL: You know, yes, we got—we definitely have champions in Congress that are very much for us. Of course, this is not at the national level right now.
I think what we really need among our friends in elected positions, both at the state level and federal level, is to come out swinging. I think this attack on birth control is an overreach—very much like the way the attacks on Medicare over on the budget side have been an overreach. We‘ve seen the results of that.
Look, in many ways the longer I stay in Washington, the more I think that this town is a citadel, you know, with very, very high walls. And outside the walls of this citadel, people believe in birth control. It‘s not so much a preference for voters. It‘s a value for voters.
And think that the rights wing has not understood that. And I think it does give us an opportunity to come back and really win this fight.
MADDOW: Terry O‘Neill, president of the National Organization for Women—thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
O‘NEILL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: More ahead, including really unexpected news out of New Jersey. It‘s connection to the state dinner to the German chancellor last night. Strange stuff.
Also tonight‘s “Best New Thing in the World” coming up.
But, first, “One More Thing” about the party like it‘s 1879 folks—these protest the pill people. The “pill kills” protest this year, as I mentioned, took place this past weekend near Planned Parenthood in Dallas, because those folks in Dallas are not dummies when they found out that the ban birth control people were coming. Planned Parenthood of north Texas, in advance of the protest, asked their own supporters to pledge a protester, to pledge a donation to Planned Parenthood for every ban birth control protester who showed up.
Planned Parenthood of north Texas tells us in the end, 115 ban birth control protesters showed up, and that helped Planned Parenthood bring in more than $7,000 in donations. They say all of that, they will use all of that money to buy packets of birth control pills for north Texas patients who could not otherwise afford them—which somewhere in America someone thinks is terrible news.
MADDOW: Let‘s say you live in Fukushima. You live in this really pretty seaside part of Japan and you have a family. You have school-aged kids.
When the giant earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, you were fortunate enough, let‘s say, to live in a place that was not totally destroyed. But the nuclear plant in your part of Japan was destroyed. And now, you and your family have to decide about how and where you go on living.
This week, Japan said the amount of radiation that leaked out of the Fukushima reactors in the first few days of the disaster was about double what they‘d said it was at the time. Japan also just admitted within the last couple of weeks that three of the four damaged reactors really did have nuclear meltdowns.
Today, Japan said those reactors may have even had melt throughs. The nuclear fuel melted down and then melted through the thing that was holding it. It melted on to the floor of the reactor building. That sort of steps A, B and C on the way to the “China Syndrome.” Remember that awesome Jane Fonda movie from like 1979?
“The China Syndrome” is where the nuclear fuel melts down to the ground, hotter than Hades and then it just keeps melting down, down, down through the earth, to God knows where.
Now, Japan admits it may have suffered a melt through in three reactors. Very scary. Japan had not admitted any of that before.
So, if you are a family from Fukushima from where these reactors are, what do you do now?
After the disaster, Japan‘s government revised safety guidelines to say Fukushima kids could now be exposed at school to 20 times as much radiation as what had been considered OK before the disaster.
“The New York Times” reports that parents in Japan said no way to that. So, the government promised to tighten up the standards some and clean up contaminated top soil at schools.
There‘s no guidelines anywhere in the world for how to handle this. It‘s not just Japan. If this happened in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, no one would know whether to let people keep living there, how big an area to evacuate, what levels are safe for kids at school or for old people or for women who are pregnant. We‘ve got some guidelines based on nuclear bomb explosions.
But for this—no, one knows. Fukushima, for example, seems to have dumped most of its radiation into the sea and into the ground. Chernobyl shot its radiation into the atmosphere.
What‘s the difference in the effect on humans and other living things?
Don‘t know, frankly. Really, don‘t know.
In the context of this sunny little bouquet of news this week from Japan, New Jersey‘s Republican Governor Chris Christie has looked around, assessed the circumstances and decided that New Jersey would please like some of that. The governor says he wants a new nuclear power plant built in the state of New Jersey now. He also says he will pull out of a 10-state agreement to reduce carbon emissions because, you know, why not?
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, other people are thinking differently. The nation of Germany gets about the same proportion of its energy from nuclear power as the U.S. does right now. We both get around 20 percent from nuclear power. But after Fukushima, because of everything we have just learned about how all thumbs and no ideas we are as humans about nuclear safety, after all we‘ve just learned about how clueless we are at dealing with nuclear disaster, Germany has decided after Fukushima to close all of its nuclear reactors.
Over the next decade, they‘re going to shut down all their nuclear plants. They are committed to generating all the power they currently get from nuclear from renewables instead. So Germany will be leading the world on that.
Germany‘s chancellor, the guest of honor at a state dinner in Washington last night. This was the first state dinner President Obama has put on for a European head of state—the fourth one he‘s given overall. Our president has not said if his own position on nuclear power for our country has changed as a result of all the bad news we have learned at Fukushima.
But if he is still down with the idea, maybe he and Angela Merkel can work out a deal to have one of Angela Merkel‘s old power plants that isn‘t safe enough for Germany maybe airlifted over to New Jersey now. My guess is it would be a bargain.
MADDOW: During World War II, Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast of the United States were subject to detention because they were Japanese-American. They were rounded up and detained as prisoners in internment camps.
After our government made the decision to do that, a 19-year-old man from Hawaii named Shinyei Matayoshi, his friends called him Rocky, Rocky Matayoshi enlisted in the military, in the U.S. military, in the hopes that his service might help secure his father‘s release from an internment camp. It did not work. His father would remain locked up in an internment camp until two months after Japan surrendered.
Before he was shipped off to fight in Europe, Private Matayoshi visited his dad at the internment camp that he was in in New Mexico. While he was there, his father told him, “The United States considered me the enemy, but you‘re an American. Promise me that you will make America proud of you.”
Private Matayoshi fought in Europe. He fought as part of a legendary Japanese American combat team. That was the combat team, the 442nd, that was sent in to rescue the U.S. Army‘s lost battalion. The lost battalion was a battalion surrounded by Nazi forces behind enemy lines in the forests of northeastern France.
In that fight, under heavy fire, Rocky Matayoshi individually—individually stormed five machine gun nests. He was a 20-year-old platoon sergeant. He is credited with almost single-handedly securing the route that allowed the so-called “lost battalion” to get to safety.
For his actions, he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and two Silver Stars.
What happens next in the Rocky Matayoshi story is “The Best New Thing in the World Today.”
Sixty-six years after that battle, you can say 66 years late, but not too late, 87-year-old Rocky Matayoshi was awarded the second highest medal for valor that the United States military gives, the Distinguished Service Cross. And the site of 87-year-old Sergeant Matayoshi beaming, clearly moved and telling the assembled crowd that he does not consider himself a hero and he never has, while he receives that award for his heroism at the age of 87.
These images from the Pentagon—to my mind, these are “The Best New Thing in the World Today.”
Thanks for being with us tonight. Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.”
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