The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/17/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
We have breaking news, breaking electoral news, out of the Midwest.
What appears to be an unexpected result from the Wisconsin elections last
night where two incumbent Democrats won recall elections over Republican
challengers trying to unseat them.
Late today, what seems to be an unexpected repercussion from Wisconsin
in the not quite neighboring state of Ohio.
For context: here`s what happened in Wisconsin this year that turned
the word Wisconsin into a Democratic and liberal rallying cry for 2011.
Last November, as in many states, the Republicans won hugely in
Wisconsin`s election. The new Republican governor, Scott Walker, decided
that although he had not campaigned on the issue of union rights, he would
use his new power as governor and the big Republican majorities in both
houses of the state legislature to strip union rights in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin, in turns out, is pretty attached to his union rights and so huge
– no, really, huge crowds of Wisconsinites took to the streets of Madison
and to the state capitol building itself this winter and this spring
protesting Governor Walker and the Republicans` action – the largest
demonstrations at the state capitol in history.
The state Senate`s Democrats hatched a plan to stop the Republicans
from passing the union-stripping measure by themselves fleeing the state so
the Wisconsin Senate could not get a quorum, so the Senate would not be
allowed to vote on or pass anything.
Ultimately on March 9th of this year, by unprecedented and somewhat
dodgy procedural means, the Wisconsin Republicans did figure out how to
pass the union-stripping bill anyway, even with new quorum. Every
Republican in the Wisconsin Senate except one voted for it – all of them
Wisconsin who supports union rights were so angry with what Scott
Walker and the Republicans had done that they organized recall elections
against six Republican state senators who were eligible to be recalled.
Conservative groups said they too would launch recalls against the
Democrats, because those Democrats had left the state.
Well, as of last night, all of those elections are over, in the end,
none of the Democrats were recalled and two of the Republicans were.
If you do the math on that, the ultimate cost of the big Scott Walker
union-stripping adventure of 2011 is the Wisconsin Senate used to have five
more Republicans in it than Democrats. Now, the Republican margin is not
five but just one. It`s only 17 Republicans to 16 Democrats in the
Wisconsin Senate now.
And one of those 17 Republicans – this is important – is the
Republican senator who voted against all his colleagues, who voted against
the union-stripping law.
So, thanks to the recalls. There is now a majority in the Wisconsin
Senate against stripping union rights.
John Nichols at “The Nation” wrote about this today, on the issue that
started this huge, extraordinary standoff in Wisconsin on Scott Walker`s
union-stripping law. John writes, “The Senate majority is now at odds with
the governor on the issue that provoked last winter`s mass demonstrations
against the governor`s agenda as well as the recalls.” Tada!
So on tonight`s breaking news, perhaps taking a gander to his
northwest at these results in Wisconsin at what Scott Walker has wrought in
his home state, fellow newbie anti-union rights Republican Governor John
Kasich of Ohio today made a remarkable about face. Kasich and Ohio`s
Republicans passed their own union-stripping law in Ohio also in March.
Voter anger in Ohio against that action was harnessed towards a recall
election not for state senators but rather for the law itself, a referendum
to repeal the state union-stripping law. That referendum qualified for the
November ballot in Ohio with more than 900,000 valid signatures, nearly
quadruple the number of signatures it needed to get on the ballot.
The latest polling showing Ohio voters wanting to repeal the union
stripping law by an astonishing 24-point margin.
With that kind of response in Ohio already and just hours after it was
announced that the last two Wisconsin Democrats up for recall won their
races by large margins last night, today, Ohio`s Republican governor and
Republican legislative leaders raised the white flag.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: But a divisive fight on these issues that
could possibly be avoided is in the best interest of everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In what the “A.P.” described as a hastily called afternoon
press conference, Ohio Governor John Kasich and the state`s Republican
legislative leaders said today that now, now they are willing to talk about
maybe softening their law stripping union rights. Their law stripping
union rights which they passed this spring with zero negotiation with the
affected workers and zero Democratic votes. Now, Governor Kasich and
Republicans in the Ohio state legislature say they`d like to talk about
maybe softening some of the law`s provisions in exchange for liberal groups
and Democrats canceling the planned referendum on that law in November.
You know, if it looked like I was slated to lose an election by 24
points, I`d probably try to get that election cancelled, too.
The reaction from the state Democrats and from We Are Ohio, which has
been organizing the referendum to repeal Ohio`s union-stripping law, the
reaction has so far been – it`s been tough as in they are not quite
saying, yes, tough, but almost. Quote, “The time to negotiate was during
the legislative process, not 197 days after the bill was first introduced.
Unfortunately, it has taken too long for the governor and GOP leaders to
acknowledge they overreached.”
That was from the senate Democratic leader today.
Now, We Are Ohio says if Republicans are now having second thoughts
about the union-stripping bill they passed, then they should repeal it
themselves, or they should just watch the voters repeal it on November 8th.
Joining us now is the Democratic Minority Leader from the Ohio House
of Representatives Armond Budish.
Representative Budish, thanks for joining us. It`s nice to see you,
STATE REP. ARMOND BUDISH (D), OHIO: Nice to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: What was your reaction when you heard this news that Governor
Kasich and the Republicans were offering now to compromise on the union-
stripping bill, that they want the referendum to not go ahead.
BUDISH: My reaction, Rachel, was wow, they are finally admitting that
Senate Bill 5 was a bad bill. They`re finally admitting it.
You know, the people of Ohio have tried to tell them that for months.
We had thousands of people show up at the statehouse to tell the
Republicans this is a bad bill. They didn`t listen.
Not only didn`t they listen, they locked the doors to the statehouse,
they didn`t want people coming in to talk to them, they didn`t listen when
the Democrats stood up on the floor of the Senate and the House and
objected to this bill. They didn`t listen when 1.3 million people in Ohio
signed petitions expressing their disgust with Senate Bill 5.
Now, all of a sudden, maybe they`ll listen now that a couple of things
have happened – one is that the Wisconsin recalls have not to the liking
of the Republicans, and two is that the polls in Ohio, as you mentioned,
are showing that Senate Bill 5 is going to be rejected by the people of
MADDOW: Well, on the issue of the connection between the Wisconsin
issue and the Ohio issue, obviously, the stripping of union rights in both
states pursued in much the same way by both of these very similar governors
in roughly the same time frame generating roughly the same reaction, both
Wisconsin and Ohio, really strong union states.
We called up We Are Wisconsin today, which helped organized the
Republican recall effort in Wisconsin. We asked what they thought about
Governor Kasich`s action today. They said, quote, “Last night ended a
historic period in Wisconsin politics where Scott Walker paid an enormous
political price, losing his working majority in the state Senate and
earning himself sky high disapproval numbers for his attacks on middle
class working families. If John Kasich`s decision to backpedal on his
attacks on working on Ohioans the very next days is a pure coincidence,
it`s a pretty stunning one.”
BUDISH: You`re right, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do you agree with them that this seems to be connected?
BUDISH: What we`re seeing in Ohio and Wisconsin and other places
around the country is a sound rejection of the union – the attacks on the
middle class, the attacks on labor, the attacks on police, the attacks on
fire, the attacks on teachers, the attacks on nurses, the attacks on the
middle class, and a whole range of issues.
And people are fed up and they are expressing that in Wisconsin
through the recalls and they are going to express it in Ohio on the
MADDOW: On the referendum, that would be a full repeal of S.B. 5.
Obviously, S.B. 5, the union stripping bill which is pretty draconian and
wide-ranging, in what it would do to union rights in Ohio. That bill would
be totally repealed by the referendum. That bill is on ice, the law can`t
go into effect until the referendum happens.
Do you think there`s any chance that Democrats and groups like We Are
Ohio and the unions will agree to scrap the referendum and instead start
negotiating with the governor and Republicans now, now that it seems like
they are – they have a new take on these negotiations?
BUDISH: Rachel, when Governor Kasich was first elected, he stated
publicly because he was angry that the teachers in particular had not
supported him as much as he would have liked, he said, “I will not talk to
the teachers, I will not meet with the teachers until they take out a full-
page ad apologizing to me.”
Well, if it`s good enough for Governor Kasich, it`s good enough for
me. Governor Kasich and the Republicans should give us a fresh start.
They should apologize for demonizing and attacking teachers and
firefighters and police officers and nurses for the last six months.
They should repeal Senate Bill 5. They should start the process now
the way it should have been done, inviting all the people in the room, not
just passing it in the dark of night like they did Senate Bill 5, putting
it through without asking any input from teachers, or firefighters or
police officers, they just did it. That`s the way you don`t pass a bill.
They should give us a fresh start, repeal the law, apologize, and then
we`ll sit down and we`ll talk the way it should have been done.
MADDOW: Armond Budish, Democratic minority leader in the Ohio House
of Representatives. I know this has been a fight that you`ve been a very
strong combatant – and so, congratulations are due to you tonight for at
least this tactical victory. Good luck with your ongoing work with this
and keep in touch with us, sir. Appreciate it.
BUDISH: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for publicizing it.
MADDOW: You would think saving the world from nuclear annihilation is
kind of a nonpartisan happy idea. You would think preventing nihilist
criminals from acquiring nuclear weapons would be good politics for
everybody. And you would not be exactly right.
The freshly reported world saving American heroics that we`ve learned
about today and the political effort to defund those heroics is the next
sort of astonishing story we have for you tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The former chairman of the Republican National Committee,
Michael Steele, will join us in just a few moments.
MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the interview is the former chairman
of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, who is now an MSNBC political
Mr. Chairman, it`s very nice to see you.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Welcome back from vacation.
MADDOW: Thank you.
STEELE: You`re looking tan and rested.
MADDOW: That`s just discoloration from the U.V. rays from my monitor.
It`s been that long enough.
All right. It has been a couple of months now. I want your honest
impression of what is it like here in 2011 arguing day and night with
liberals on MSNBC.
STEELE: It is absolutely very exciting. Sometimes I sit there and go
– they really believe this stuff. God help us. But, no, it`s great.
MADDOW: What do you think about the quality of the discussion?
STEELE: Well, the quality is good and it`s important. And that`s an
important part of it because it`s a chance to present a different position,
viewpoint, and then to go back and forth in the exchange, is like coming on
Reverend Al and I get in to it quite a bit. We get a little bit
heated because we`re both passionate. But it`s still a good discussion
that I think is good. I think it`s healthy. I think it`s refreshing.
And I think the people take away from it what they want, but they can
put the whole thing together and decide what works best for them. And
that`s what the government needs to do right now.
They need to get out from the partisan edges. They need to find the
mushy middle that everyone hates to go to and actually get something done.
And that includes the president, that includes the leadership in the House
and the Senate, because the country right now is on the precipice.
I was talking with someone earlier and I was talking about the future
and how, you know, we are kind of mortgaging the future in a way that the
next generation has nothing to look forward to, when you have kids
graduating without jobs, you have home owners foreclosing, you have people
trying to make their ends meet from paycheck to paycheck, the grownups
really do need to show up.
And this discussion that I`ve been involved in in the last couple of
months has been exciting about that.
MADDOW: Do you feel like the outcome of it, though, is – I mean, I
feel I`m glad we have multiple parties. I`m glad that we have partisan
STEELE: Sure, absolutely.
MADDOW: I`m glad that there`s an opportunity to sharpen our thinking
and our arguments about different world views. But I think that is
something that definitely happens in these discussions.
STEELE: It does.
MADDOW: You sharpen the differences.
STEELE: Oh, you sharpen them all right.
MADDOW: In all the discussions that you`ve been having here over the
last couple of months, do you feel the conversations ever end with, OK, we
agree on that, or OK, we should all be able to agree to move forward.
STEELE: A few of them do, a few of them do. I mean, you know, for
example, Governor Rendell and I, you know, we have very different position.
He was a governor. I was a lieutenant governor, Republican and Democrat,
both party chairmen, so we understand the politics of it pretty well.
But we also recognize I think something very fundamental that when you
stand before the people with your hand on the Bible and you swear that oath
of office, you are no longer the partisan. You are now the public servant.
You are the public representation of the people, and that changes the
So, as you look at this presidential race, for example, for both the
president and for those who are challenging him, you`ve got to keep in the
back of your mind that moment when you take that oath of office – and that
was a lot of the aspiration people had placed in Barack Obama because he
talked about being different.
What happened, he got to Washington and got consumed by the process.
A lot of it – in my view, he handed over to the very leadership in the
House, for example, that was used to working all those machinations and
backroom deals to try to get something done.
But the reality was people were looking for something different.
MADDOW: You got to get stuff through Congress.
STEELE: You got to get stuff through Congress, but where does that
begin? Does it begin down old street or a new main way to go? And I think
the people, whether you like the Tea Party or not, whether you agree with
the progressive movement that you`ve been talking about in Wisconsin – the
people are beginning to show some pathways and some light on the subject of
how they want the government and the leadership to begin to solve these
MADDOW: Well, but on both sides, and I very rarely say on both sides,
because I don`t think progressive movement and the conservative movement
are a mirror image of each other. But I don`t think that when you look at
what happened in Wisconsin and what I think is about to happen in Ohio,
which turns on Kasich right around in Ohio.
MADDOW: And you look at the impact of the Tea Party movement, both of
those movements are very good at displaying anger with what politicians are
MADDOW: But in neither case, are you seeing a constructive proposal
of this is what we prefer the budget to be.
STEELE: What you need to do, it gets their attention.
MADDOW: It`s an accountability –
STEELE: Right. So, that`s the first step. Like anything, that`s the
first step. I got to get your attention. I got to let you know I`m ticked
STEELE: In 2009 and 2010, that`s what I did at the RNC, I galvanized
through the real crazy phrase, you know, “Fire Pelosi,” OK, what does that
mean? Well, it meant something different for a lot of people. But in many
respects, there was one centralizing point of view, we needed to change
Congress, and the way you begin to change Congress was to change the
leadership. And how do you do that, you get the people`s attention by
going out and stating your case.
That`s what you`ve seen in Wisconsin and that`s why you see what`s
happening in Ohio right now. Ohio is not Wisconsin. So, the reality for
MADDOW: But don`t you think that Kasich is recalibrating because of
what happened in Wisconsin? Less than 24 hours after those –
STEELE: Well, look at the political makeup of those districts that
comprised the state and the Democratic influence and power. Even though
Wisconsin is a big Democratic state –
MADDOW: In Wisconsin –
STEELE: – those districts were largely Republican districts that
were on the table.
MADDOW: And the Republican vote in these recall elections greatly
underperformed what they did in November.
STEELE: Greatly underperformed. Exactly. So, it`s a different
dynamic, and you`ve got to pay attention to that.
MADDOW: But in Ohio, I mean, to that point, just to be clear, the
Republicans certainly tried to mobilize against the Democrats, we`re mad
that you left the state sort of and they sort of launched these half-
hearted recall efforts against the Democrats, but didn`t go anywhere. I
feel like, at least in the states, maybe it`s not true in national
politics, we are seeing a pendulum swinging the other way. I don`t know
how long it`s going to take.
Do you see that for recalibration?
STEELE: I do see a swing, and what I`ve said is what needs to happen
and I think is happening on the left, the progressive left, is a voice
beginning to emerge. The problem is they haven`t galvanized around the
corer principled position to push forward on.
MADDOW: It`s union rights in Ohio and Wisconsin.
STEELE: Right. That`s not going to translate to that in Maryland or
California. It could be something different.
Whereas for the Tea Party movement, it was much more around the
Constitution and government, the role of government in your life and my
Now, you may disagree with my view on it, but I`m going to make the
case anyway and that`s a very different type of movement versus what you
see happening on the left.
MADDOW: On that, and this is a great moment to close because I
completely disagree with you on that, I think that`s the Republican
branding that`s been put on the Tea Party movement.
STEELE: But that`s the fact.
MADDOW: But essentially, it`s just a straight up Republican
conservative base mobilization.
STEELE: No, it`s not.
STEELE: The Tea Party is not just Republicans. The Tea Party is
libertarians. It`s a cross section of people, blue dog Democrats.
MADDOW: No, it`s not. No, it`s not.
STEELE: Rachel, I hate to disagree with you, but I met a lot of these
people face to face between September and November of last year. And so, I
know what their profile is.
MADDOW: If you can see any daylight between the traditional
Republican Party, religious right base, and the –
STEELE: Well, that`s a different argument because
MADDOW: – you believe in their branding.
STEELE: That`s a different argument, Rachel, because that religious
component was not the initial thrust of the Tea Party. That`s been a
glommed on position a lot of Tea Party activists –
MADDOW: But people who call themselves Tea Partiers, that`s what they
identify. Its identical poll results through the traditional Republican –
STEELE: Well, that`s what I`m saying. It has been glommed on into
this – we go back to where it started in – in February 2009, when I had
my first meeting with these fledgling disillusioned voters, it was not
MADDOW: Michael Steele, I love disagreeing with you.
STEELE: Same here, same here.
MADDOW: I really like talking about stuff, particularly when you`re
completely wrong, because you`re so nice about it.
STEELE: Same here, same here. But this is the part where I try to
bring you to your senses and help you appreciate that, you know, you may be
tanned and beautiful, but we got to work on a few things.
MADDOW: And I recent you.
Michael Steel, thank you, sir. I`m so glad you`re here, thank you.
STEELE: Very good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Really good news about there not being a nuclear
end of the world. Something Michael Steele and I could probably even agree
on. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today combines literature, Cuba,
really bad propaganda and historic paradigm shift in post-Cold War
diplomacy and booze – Cuban booze.
That`s just ahead.
MADDOW: It takes about 40 pounds of highly enriched uranium to build
a nuclear bomb – not a dirty bomb that just spread radioactivity around,
but a nuclear bomb, mushroom cloud – the whole thing.
Once you have that 40 pounds of nuclear material, making a nuclear
bomb is not the hardest thing in the world.
Back in 2005 you may recall, the George W. Bush administration
accidentally uploaded to the Internet instructions on how to make a nuclear
bomb, instructions that were very conveniently written in Arabic.
But even if you do not have at instructions handed to you on a silver
platter by the Bush administration, building a nuclear bomb is something
that can be done, even by civilians. After the U.S. military dropped a
pair of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II,
government officials made the design of those bombs a state secret – it
still is one.
And even though the design for little boy, the bomb that fell on
Hiroshima was deemed classified, and even though it took the brightest
minds in the country years to design and build it, a few decades later, a
college drop out photographer-turned-truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin,
managed to create an exact replica of that nuclear bomb in his workshop.
Without knowing any of the specs, he managed to reverse engineer the
Hiroshima nuclear bomb and build one from scratch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was told at the outset that you will never know
– we can`t tell you, we will never tell you, and you will never find this
out what`s inside. I mean, it`s all still a state secret. It`s still
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my drawing of Little Boy. This is the one
Harold Agnew put his finger on it. And he looked at me, he said, and where
did you get this drawing? And he told me it looked real enough to him.
And I said, well, Dr. Agnew, I made that drawing, and you could have
knocked him over. And then he waved his hand over it and said, how did you
know where this stuff was?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though there`s 65-year-old design and crude
by today`s standards, it`s still a working nuclear weapon and they don`t
want that information out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a truck driver, I didn`t finish my university
degree, I drive semis for a living. If I can figure this out –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That clip was from a great little documentary called “The
Atomic Trucker,” which is done by the Web site, Motherboard. You can watch
it at our blog if you are so inclined. It`s great.
The point here is that nuclear bombs can be built. They can be
assembled. It`s not easy to build a nuclear bomb, but it`s really not
impossible. And that`s why experts on nuclear weapons and nuclear
terrorism generally conceded that the single hardest thing about assembling
a nuclear bomb is getting your hands on the 40 pounds of nuclear material,
not building the bomb itself.
And, of course, if you`re not interested in a mushroom cloud, then you
just to want to set off a dirty bomb that spreads radiation everywhere,
well, any good amount of radioactive material should suffice for that. Of
course, the more radioactive the material, the better.
Over the past decade or so, the terroristic nuclear nihilist among us
as humans have been trying to get our hands on radioactive nuclear
material. There is a black market in it. In July 2010, four men were
caught trying to smuggle radioactive material out of the city of Pretoria.
Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.
After a sting operation, the shootout with police and a foot chase,
the men were arrested at a Pretoria gas station and charged with trying to
sell a quantity of radioactive material called cesium 137. Cesium 137 is
the kind of thing nuclear terrorism experts always say could turned up in a
dirty bomb attack.
And there it was being smuggled to be sold in South Africa. Asking
price – about $6 million. Along with what the smugglers said was some
sort of industrial nuclear device.
About two years earlier, in November 2007, also in South Africa, two
separate groups of armed gunmen broke into South Africa`s Pelindaba nuclear
facility. Pelindaba is home to some of that country`s most sensitive
nuclear material and nuclear secrets.
A year after the break in, the CBS program “60 Minutes” documented
that assault on Pelindaba.
(BEGIN VIDE CLIP)
REPORTER (voice-over): The men had breached a 10,000-volt fence,
passed security cameras, and walked three quarters of a mile to the control
room that monitors alarms and responds to emergencies. But the attack on
the control room was just the start. A second group of gunmen on the other
side of the plant was cutting through the fence and opened fire on the
You think they were after the HEU?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s certainly the most valuable single thing
that`s at that site.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: HEU, highly enriched uranium.
The men who broke in to Pelindaba that night shot a security guard,
seized a laptop, and then dropped the laptop before disappearing into the
night. South African Authorities still say they don`t know who did it.
A few years before the Pelindaba break in, it was South Africa again -
- a South African businessman living Pretoria charged with nuclear
trafficking in connection with the A.Q. Khan nuclear network with Pakistan.
The 53-year-old businessman who owned an engineering plant in South Africa
charged with being in position of nuclear related material and of illegally
importing and exporting nuclear material.
If you are somebody who stays up at night worrying about loose nuclear
material getting into the wrong hands, then one of the places that has been
keeping you up at night is South Africa.
South Africa has lots of highly enriched uranium and apparently a rich
supply of black market operators, some of them with guns, trying to get it.
It is for that reason that today`s news having to deal with nuclear
material in South Africa is not of the lock yourself in a bunker variety,
but rather of the “oh, thank God” variety.
Today, the United States government, specifically the National Nuclear
Security Administration announced a completion of a successful mission to
secure about 14 pounds of highly enriched uranium located in South Africa.
U.S. officials traveled to South Africa in secret. They locked up and
transported safely all of that highly enriched uranium. They brought it
back to the United States.
It arrived here safe and sound yesterday and is under lock and key,
and that is great news for two reasons. One, that`s 14 less pounds of
nuclear material sitting around in some nuclear facility in South Africa.
But two, it is yet another reminder that we have a whole team of
people in this country that freaking does this. This is a U.S. government
priority, trained bad asses – forgive the term – traveling around the
world in secret, locking up and securing the most dangerous material in the
world, to keep it off of what is a very real and worrying black market.
Again, it`s the NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The department of saving the world, which under the radar and a fairly
nameless and faceless way has to date recovered more than 3,000 kilograms
of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from around the world and locked
it down and made it safe. That`s enough to probably build at least 150
The NNSA, for all of that work, was put on the chopping block this
year by Republicans in Congress, because as you know, it`s a government
agency and government is bad. Government doesn`t do anything right.
House Republicans this year proposed a $647 million cut in a nuclear
nonproliferation activities at the NNSA, because, you know, Sharia law. We
hate NPR, I don`t know why they did it.
On President Obama`s tour through Minnesota and Iowa and Illinois this
week, he has been talking proposals to create jobs in this country, trying
to create pressures in Congress to go along with some of his job creation
ideas. He`s proposing stuff like continuing a payroll tax cut for
everybody who gets a paycheck, road building and school building projects.
Congressional Republicans are saying no, no, no so far to all of those
When the president said today he`d be releasing more larger scale job
proposals in September over and above the smaller scale ones the
Republicans are already saying no to, the response from Republican House
Speaker John Boehner`s office turned the snark level up to stunned, a
spokesman for John Boehner tweeting in response, quote, “We really don`t
need another speech. Just a plan, like on paper, seriously. Just drop it
in the mail.”
This is what John Boehner is like as speaker of the House. The
president announces job creation ideas that the speaker rejects. The
president announces he`ll release a whole new big job creation plan, the
speaker says plan? Where is this plan? Dude, that`s the point. That`s
When somebody says here comes this plan, expect it on this date – you
don`t respond with where is the plan? Who even does that?
What is the congressional Republicans` plan this year anyway? What
would an America run by John Boehner`s congressional Republicans look like
“The Washington Post” looked at that today, adding what congressional
Republicans under John Boehner have said yes to, what they`ve actually
taken action on and expressed themselves ability, since they`ve have
control of the House – the highlights, their plan, so far, they have, of
course, voted to get rid of Medicare by privatizing it, turning it into a
coupon program. They have voted to stop regulating mountain top removal
mining at the federal level. They voted to eliminate federal funding for
NPR. They voted to punish shining a laser a plane while its flying. They
voted to repeal health reform and to eliminate all three federal programs
that help people in danger of foreclosure.
And they have proposed $647 million be cut from the guys who just
brought 14 pounds of highly enriched uranium out of South Africa today to
keep it off the international black market, off the international black
market and what it takes to build a nuclear bomb. That`s the plan.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a
member of the House Commerce and Energy Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: As you can tell, I get energized by proposed cuts to the
National Nuclear Security Administration. Is there a real threat the cuts
go through, on a day like today after we find out what they did in South
Africa, is that funding really at risk?
MARKEY: Absolutely, it`s at risk. And it`s going to be increasingly
Obviously, when Leon Panetta – and I love him as the secretary of
defense – says that he`s afraid about doomsday cuts in the defense budget,
there`s going to be pressure put by the defense contractors in our country
on things that they think are more vulnerable and the Nuclear Security
Administration will be right on that list.
There`s a little agency. It doesn`t make nuclear weapons. It doesn`t
have gold-plated arsenal of weapons on their planning boards. It just
takes uranium and plutonium out of countries that could potentially create
And so, this little tiny agency that`s like a peaceful SEAL Team 6
that goes into South Africa, brings out the highly enriched uranium, makes
the world just a little bit safer, its budget is going to be on the table
because nuclear bomb prevention is not nearly as attractive to defense
contractors as nuclear bomb production. And believe it or not, there are
$700 billion worth of new nuclear weapons programs on the planning boards
for the next 10 years in the federal budget right now.
MADDOW: On the broad issue of what can get through the House right
now, about John Boehner`s gateway role and what can pass the Congress, the
president is making small job creation proposals relatively speaking, says
he`s going to make large scale proposals next month – do you believe that
the political environment is changing so that Republicans might say yes to
anything or we in “no, no, no mode” for a long time yet?
MARKEY: I think when the president says that he wants job creations
programs that the Republicans are going to say no, you know, that`s going
to help you get reelected, Mr. President, that might actually put people
back to work.
But when Democrats say you know what, we`ve got to cut some of these
defense programs, they are going to say that`s a jobs program. The defense
budget is a jobs program – no, it is not. The defense budget is a
security program, and it cannot be allowed to basically savage the Nuclear
Security Administration under the justification that it creates more jobs
if at the same time, hypocritically, the Republicans are saying to the
president when it comes to job building through new roads, new bridges, all
the way down the line that that is something that is off the table.
This is going to be a hypocrisy on stilts before the end of this year,
and the president just will have to stick to his message – and I think he
will win if he does so.
MADDOW: What we`re hearing from a lot of – actually, seemingly well-
reported multiple source, Beltway reporting on the decision making process
within the White House right now, what we`ve been reading this week is that
there`s a bit of an internal debate both in the White House and among
elected Democrats generally about whether or not the president should be
staking out what he thinks is right for the country and saying, as he has
been on the stump this week, this is what I think is right if the
Republicans want to vote this now, I think the voters will disagree, but
I`m sticking with what I think is right – whether he should do that? Or
whether propose small bore, trying to work out a deal proposals that would
be less confrontational with the Republicans.
Where do you come down on that?
MARKEY: My opinion, the red state Republicans, the Tea Party
Republicans, they are up, they are activated, they feel that they`ve been
winning all year long.
We need to have our side up. Actually, when you do the polling, the
American people say tax rich people, tax oil companies, don`t cut Medicare,
don`t cut NPR, don`t cut the EPA.
We`ve got to get our side up and activated, because on every one of
these issues, there`s one thing that separates us from the Tea Party. We
are right and they are wrong and the polling says it. So, we have to
fight. We have to get up, get activated, get out there, and then we will
But if we sit on the sidelines, if we go small bore, then we are just
going to repeat history.
You know, Mark Twain used to say history doesn`t repeat itself but it
does tend to rhyme, unfortunately, we`re going to keep rhyming with what`s
already happened this year unless we change the pathway that we are on.
And I just think that requires a big vision of where we are so that we
protect those programs that the American people love and not allow the Tea
Party to just lump it all into the government.
The people might not like the government, but they like almost every
program in the government if it`s explained to them. That`s the
president`s job, he takes the bully pulpit. We win.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, member of
the House Commerce and Energy Committee – Congressman, thanks very much
for your time. It`s always a pleasure to have you here, sir.
MARKEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
New Jersey, the great state of New Jersey just had its credit rating
downgraded. Will Republicans in New Jersey blame Chris Christie for that,
the way they tried to blame President Obama for it at the national level?
Don`t be silly. Of course, they will try to blame Democrats for this
one too. That`s coming up on “THE ED SHOW” tonight.
Coming up here, the best new thing in the world, now with more high-
end illegal liquor than ever before.
MADDOW: Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio may be nervous about
the popularity of his policies and his own popularity too, hence the effort
today to squirm his landmark union-stripping law off the ballot for its
Ohio referendum this fall.
But John Kasich is not the least popular governor in the country. For
a little while this year, he and another governor were neck-and-neck for
the race for the title, but that other governor has surpassed Kasich in the
race to be the least liked, most despised, most unpopular governor in the
United States of America.
As of late June, the latest standings in the most heated governor race
to the bottom show that the winner/loser is Rick Scott, who has been in the
Florida governor`s mansion for less than a year.
Rick Scott is so unpopular now that just a third of Floridians say
they like the guy. If a rematch of his 2010 election were held today, his
Democratic opponent would defeat him by a 22 points, and just quoting the
polling firm here, quote, “independents say by a 45-18 margin that Governor
Rick Scott has turned them off from GOP candidates in general.”
So how do you turn around numbers that bad? If you are Rick Scott,
you start with the optics, literally, you get a new picture. This had been
the governor`s official picture. According to the “A.P.,” however, as of
Monday, this is the new and improved, softer, kinder, gentler Rick Scott
official photo. Gone is the direct, confrontational stare into the camera,
buttoned-up shirt and tie and the severe focus, in are the casual blue
shirt, fancy focus and sort a squinty look into the distance.
Still on the optics, a couple of weeks back, there was this, Governor
Scott working at a Tampa donut shop. The idea was that the governor would
be seen around the state doing regular people jobs to show that he knows –
I don`t know – how to serve donuts.
Sadly for the optics here though, the governor`s donut photo-op into
the wrong kind of photo op when a progressive group opposed to Rick Scott`s
policies showed up to symbolically fire the governor over and over and over
again at the donut shot, handing him pink slips right over the donut
When Rick Scott created a pro-Rick Scott, “isn`t he so awesome” form
letter for people to send into local newspapers, the same anti-Rick Scott
group created a mad lib using the form letter. So, instead of it just
being Rick Scott is so awesome, it became Rick Scott is so – insert your
own adjective here.
The governor`s latest effort to climb out of his 33 percent approval
ratings hole is an old stand by in politics. He`s using robocalls. For
the first time anybody can remember, Rick Scott isn`t using robocalls at
election time. These robocalls are in the middle of his term to just try
to make people like him more.
But again the enterprising anti-Rick Scott progressive group in
Florida is on the case. They`ve figured out a way to reverse the robocalls
to let Floridians record their own calls to Governor Scott`s office. And
they are spectacular.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DEBRA: Oh, yes, Governor Rick Scott, you got a lot of nerve spending
a quarter of a million of our tax dollars to robocall people and tell them
how good a job you`re doing. You`re the worst governor Florida`s ever had.
I`ve been here for 30 years.
JOHN C.: Please step those annoying phone calls.
DESERAE O.: You keep cutting jobs, you`re cutting unemployment,
you`re cutting Medicaid, you`re cutting Medicare, you`re cutting Social
Security. What happened to your paycheck?
MARY O.: Governor Scott, please stop calling me.
ROBERTA N.: Rick Scott, I don`t appreciate what you`ve done to my
retirement plan as a state employee. I hope that we never have to see you
for governor in a second term.
JENNIFER M.: Hi, Rick, I just wanted to return the favor of the
robocall to you. Thank you so much for screwing up the state that I was
CHRIS S.: I really can`t believe that you cut PBS of all things. My
kids sit around and watch PBS in the early morning. They learn so much
from it. To have the state cut spending for PBS is despicable.
LISA G.: My name is Lisa, registered Republican. I would really
appreciate that the robocalls stop. It gets to be a bit much after a
while. And knock it off.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Florida Watch Action are the folks behind pinksliprick.com.
Those are the people facilitating the reverse robocalls back to the
governor`s office. That`s the political tactic al nomination a day, OK? I
don`t give awards, but if I did, you`d win that one. It almost makes you
want to look away. Just a few feet off to the side and to unfocus middle
MADDOW: The best new thing in the world today is Cuban and American.
If the U.S. and Cuba had normal diplomatic relations, like normal
countries, we would have a U.S. embassy in Havana and they would have a
Cuban embassy in D.C. As it stands, neither of us has an embassy in each
other`s country. Instead, we have interest sections in other country`s
So, if you want to deal with an issue involving Cuba while you`re in
the U.S. you have to go to a building under the protection of the Swiss
embassy in D.C. Remember, Switzerland is always neutral. That`s where
you`ll find the Cuban interest section.
Also, if you want to deal with an American issue while you`re in Cuba.
You have you to go to a building under the protection of Switzerland`s
embassy in Havana. And inside that, there is a U.S. interest section.
That section, America`s toehold in Cuba for years, has been in the front
line of a weird petty propaganda war between our two countries.
Por ejemplo, in the 1990s, Cubans put up a billboard across the street
from it that said in Spanish, “We are not afraid from you.” During the
fight over Elian Gonzalez, Cuba erected a stage next to the U.S. interest
section so they could hold rallies and protests under presumably very
annoyed American noses.
In 2004, the U.S. put a big number 75 into its Christmas display for
the year, 75 for the numbers of dissidents in Cuban jails at the time.
Take that, Fidel!
To which Cuba responded by erecting billboards showing pictures of the
abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Pictures of the abuse are there in the middle,
if you can`t help staring instead at that enormous red swastika on the end
or the mid-century right in foreground, right?
To the swastika, Abu Ghraib billboard, America responded by putting up
an electronic billboard outside the U.S. interest section with big
scrolling lit up anti-Castro messages. To which Cuba responded by putting
up a bunch of flag poles to block anyone`s view of that electronic insult
billboard. And so and so on.
The thing that is new, that is the best new thing in the world about
this today is something my friend Steve Clemens at “The Atlantic” is
characterizing as Daiquiri diplomacy. I think it`s an improvement on the
swastika billboard and sprawling insult LED wall diplomacy we have been
Steve reported and we confirmed today that the Cuban interest section
in D.C., they`re not embassy in America, is opening a bar in their
building. They`re naming the Hemingway bar.
Ernest Hemingway, of course, claimed with pride by both of our
countries. Hemingway lived in Cuba for decades. He wrote “The Old Man and
the Sea” there. Papa Hemingway`s legendary fondness for the daiquiris at
the Havana bar called El Floradita (ph) is inspiration for a life sized
bronze statue of Hemingway bellying up to the bar there. The Papa daiquiri
and the Hemingway daiquiri are both, of course, named for him.
The new bar here in America at the Cuban interest section in
Washington, D.C. will feature exhibits about Hemingway`s life and work in
Cuba. But will it serve daiquiris? We asked the spokesman for the Cuban
interest section that all important question today, he said he could not g
give out details but he said he`s pretty sure the bar will not serve
daiquiris by the bucket, which is the way he says Hemingway at least once
ordered them to go from La Floradita.
The gentleman at the not embassy also told us the bar will not be open
to the public because, of course, we still don`t have relations with Cuba,
so the bar will be invitation only, and presumably because of the economic
embargo, even if you do get invited to the Hemingway bar at the Cuban
interest section in that building that`s not Cuban in Washington, even if
you do get invited, the drinks I`m guessing will have to be free, right?
Economic embargo, diplomacy by daiquiri, a far more civilized way for our
two countries to continue to annoy each other on purpose – best new thing
in the world today.
That does it for us tonight. Thanks very much for being with us.
Now, it now it`s time for “THE ED SHOW.” Have a great night.
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