The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/14/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Newt Gingrich is ahead in the race for the Republican nomination for
president of the United States. Pinch yourself, America. It is really,
really happening. Woo-hoo!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think there`s
anybody else in the race – I don`t mean this as an act of ego. I don`t
think there`s anybody else in the race with the background, I`ve been going
this for 53 years. I have a PhD in American history, I`ve written 24
books, seven documentary films.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Newt Gingrich has, in fact, made seven documentary films and
written 24 books, and in process of letting you know where you can buy all
of these items and why you ought to buy them, maybe in multiple copies.
Newt Gingrich seems to have inadvertently surpassed Mitt Romney and Herman
Cain in the race for the Republican nomination for president.
A new PPP poll out today showing a national lead for Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich is at 28 percent in this new poll. Herman Cain is at 25 percent.
Mitt Romney in third at 18 percent.
A new CNN poll out today shows Mitt Romney in the lead with 24
percent, but Newt Gingrich in a statistical tie with him at 22 percent.
Newt Gingrich is within the poll`s margin of error here in terms of the top
spot. A private poll for a Republican pollster in Iowa that hit
Politico.com today shows Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich statistically
deadlocked at the top of the heap among Iowa Republicans.
This is the best day of Newt Gingrich`s life. For Newt Gingrich, this
is a 13-point surge just since June when his entire senior staff quit en
masse, saying all he wanted to do was sell his books and his DVDs. And
frankly as staffers they did not think they were there to help huckster his
products, they thought this was supposed to be a presidential campaign and
they all walked.
Well, these poll results are a slap in the face to anybody who thought
Newt Gingrich was just out to sell books and DVDs, right?
Mr. Gingrich celebrating his new top position in the polls tonight, by
doing a DVD screening in Iowa. Quote, “Newt and Callista screen in `Nine
Days that Changed the World` at Santa Maria Winery in Carroll, Iowa at 7:00
tonight.” This is Newt`s DVD about the pope.
If you look at the events tab on Newt.org right now, what you`ll see
is lots and lots and lots of events just like this one, hawking books and
DVDs. Tomorrow night, for instance, Callista Gingrich will host a book
signing in Webster City, Iowa. She has another book signing coming up you
can find at Newt.org, on Friday, in National Harbor, Maryland.
Later that day, both Newt and Callista will screen a documentary “A
City Upon a Hill,” screening that in Massachusetts because that`s such an
important Republican swing state, Massachusetts is.
On Saturday, Callista will be signing books at the Hooray for Kids
Bookstore in Alexandria, Virginia. And the following Saturday, Newt and
Callista will be signing books at Books a Million in Naples, Florida.
This is what Newt Gingrich lists as his campaign events.
The Beltway line on Newt Gingrich right now is that now that he`s
beginning to surge in the polls, his campaign is getting way more serious
now. Politico.com reporting today that Mr. Gingrich, quote, “is making
fewer stops to promote his books and movies, rather than stumping.” The
far fewer new and improved Newt Gingrich 28.0, now with 100 percent less
hucksterism, the supposedly new Newt Gingrich campaign? Seriously running,
not just talking his books and his DVDs – Newt Gingrich still doing more
than a third of his upcoming events as book signings and DVD screenings.
Running for president it turns out is a great way to sell your stuff,
because the whole idea behind Newt`s stuff, the whole idea behind Newt
Incorporated is that you should want to buy Newt Gingrich books and you
should want to buy Newt Gingrich DVDs and you should want to pay thousands
of dollars to get fake awards from Newt Gingrich enterprises because Newt
Gingrich is such an important and very serious man. That is the whole
marketing concept behind Newt Gingrich Incorporated.
And that dovetails really nicely with running for president, because
if you`re Newt Gingrich, running for president sort of gives you a
justification to talk about yourself in rather grandiose terms.
For example, late last week at an event in Michigan, Mr. Gingrich was
asked about judges. Dave Weigel at Slate.com was at the event and quotes
Mr. Gingrich as responding this way. Quote, “If you go to Newt.org, you`ll
see an entire paper on rebalancing the judiciary. It`s the most thorough
statement of the Constitution and balance of power I think that`s been
written by a political figure since Lincoln`s first inaugural in 1861.”
Now, this is not somebody else`s awesome paper that Newt found
somewhere and is now publicizing. It`s not somebody else`s paper that he
has posted on his Web site and he is praising as being this great thing –
the greatest thing written since Lincoln`s first inaugural. This is him
talking about himself.
“The most thorough statement of the Constitution and balance of power
since Lincoln`s first inaugural”?
Back when he was Republican speaker of the House, he was quoted in
“the New York Times” as telling an audience, quote, “People like me are
what stand between us and Auschwitz.”
America, do you want to vote for that man for president? The guy who
thinks of himself that way?
This is the pregnant pause.
OK. Then how about buying one of his books instead?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I don`t think there`s anybody else with the range of
experience, the range of background, the willingness to take the beating
that I`ve exhibited in 53 years. I find it very formidable to think that I
might win and that with your help, might go through eight very difficult
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. “A,” Newt Gingrich promising if you elect him, eight
very difficult years. Where do I sign?
“B,” he finds it formidable to think of himself winning.
And “C,” he keeps talking about 53 years.
What is this 53 years thing he keeps talking about?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I don`t think there`s anybody else in the race with a
background, I`ve been doing this for 53 years. I don`t think there`s
anybody else with the range of experience, the range of background, the
willingness to take the beating that I`ve exhibited in 53 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Newt Gingrich says he`s been doing this, preparing for the
job of president for 53 years. What is the 53 years thing? I mean, I`m
kind of a bad judge of how old people look. But Newt Gingrich is older
So, he`s not saying he has been preparing for this his whole life.
According to his biography, Mr. Gingrich is 68 years old. But he keeps
talking about his campaign for the presidency having started 53 years ago,
which would mean when he was 15 years old.
Now, delving into the self-mythology of Newt Gingrich is easier than
it is with most candidates because he`s written so many books about
himself. And so, dealing with this puzzle just involves delving into one
of his many, many books about his own history.
In Newt`s story of his own life, his political career, in fact,
started when he was 15 years old. His political career, he says, started
when he was 15 years old and his family took a vacation in France. That`s
where it started. That`s when he started preparing for president – on
vacation in France at the age of 15.
When Newt Gingrich was at the height of his powers in Congress in
1996, the PBS program “Frontline” did a big in-depth biography on Mr.
Gingrich. In that biography, Mr. Gingrich`s stepfather who was with him on
that family trip in France at the time, said that Newt never mentioned
anything about that trip was all that important to him at the time. Quote,
“He never said anything about it. He never discussed it.”
Regardless, that`s the myth now. This whole my political career
started when I was in France on vacation at the age of 15. That is part of
Newt Gingrich`s myth-making, building himself up into an important seeming,
serious seeming guy. Buy my book.
He`s also told other origin myths about himself like the one where he
only ended up in politics reluctantly after abandoning his long held dream
to be a zoologist. That`s another Newt Gingrich origin myth he tells
whenever he`s photographed near adorable animals, or when he was trying to
sell himself as an environmental.
You remember when he was an environmentalist? One of his two dozen
books has that environmentalist title. It`s called “A Contract with the
Earth.” You can get an autographed copy of “A Contract with the Earth” at
Gingrichproductions.com for just $9.99.
Newt Gingrich will tell you whatever story you would like to hear
about him, whatever is most likely to motivate you to buy one of his books
or DVDs. But right now, he`s at the top of the polls. Newt Gingrich and
Herman Cain are trading front-runner position with Mitt Romney. These are
the top-tier candidates right now – Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Mitt
Now, Herman Cain, as you know, is an art project, which is a fact we
got further evidence to support today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not agree with the way
he handled it for the following reason – no, that`s a different one. I
got to go back to – got all this stuff twirling around in my head.
Specifically, what are you asking me, did I agree or not disagree with on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was from Herman Cain`s appearance today at the
“Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” editorial board where he was tripped up by,
quote, “all this stuff twirling around in my head.” We`ll have much more
on that coming up later in the show.
Herman Cain, a brilliant satirical performance arts project – a
performance art project about how – I mean, what do you call it? How that
you can be while still doing quite well in the race for the Republican
nomination for president? The Herman Cain tape, I just have to tell you,
is amazing. We will have more on that coming up.
One of the ways we first knew that Herman Cain was a satire, that
Herman Cain was an art project and not a real candidacy was when all of the
different Republican candidates kept trading the lead in the polls and
Herman Cain was asked about being the latest flavor of the month. Rather
than criticizing the question, rather than criticizing the rather
disparaging idea of being a flavor of the month, Herman Cain owned it,
right? Herman Cain not only owned it, he named what flavor he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIN: If you`re Haagen-Dazs black walnut, you don`t go away, all
right? Some of these other flavors of the month have no substance, you
know? Black walnut has staying power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Herman Cain declaring himself to be the flavor Haagen-Dazs
black walnut, specifically for its staying power. Haagen-Dazs black walnut
no longer exists as a flavor.
That was one of the ways we first knew that Herman Cain was not just
an art project but a really good performance arts project, a really funny
one, rather than actually being a campaign. Well, this weekend, Herman
Cain tripled down on that whole flavor mean thing, daring us all to unmask
him once and for all.
Now, he`s riffing not only on his own black walnut flavor, but he is
now assigning all of the other Republican candidates` flavors as well.
Mitt Romney according to Herman Cain is, quote, “just plain vanilla.” Rick
Perry is rocky road. And Michele Bachmann is tutti-frutti – according to
Herman Cain is an art project. Herman Cain is an art project. Herman
Cain is an art project. Herman Cain is an art project.
OK. The whole Beltway evaluation of the Herman Cain sexual harassment
allegations has been about how those allegation allegations will affect his
standings in the polls, right? I have a hint for my comrades inside the
Beltway, it may be more useful to note whether or not the Herman Cain
sexual harassment allegations cause him to hire any staff to handle these
allegations and the other responsibilities of campaigning.
As far as we can tell, Herman Cain still has no real campaign staff to
speak of. In any early states or nationally beyond a few Americans for
Prosperity Koch brothers guys who have worked with him from the beginning.
This lack of a campaign structure, this lack of having a real campaign not
only made it really hard to get over the sexual harassment abuse
allegations, it`s now showing itself in some ugly new ways.
See, one of the things a campaign does for better or for worse is
raise money off a candidate`s popularity. Taking that candidate`s brand
and likeness and turning it into campaign dollars. The fact that Herman
Cain does not have a real campaign to do that has not left him completely
unable to raise money but it has left him mostly unable to capitalize,
literally capitalize on how much Republican voters have liked him. And
that has left a void if for other people to do that on his behalf in his
name, except to not give the money to Herman Cain but keep the money for
“The Washington Times” reporting today on a group called “Draft Herman
Cain.” Even though they were called Draft Herman Cain, they were formed
after he was already in the race. It`s a group that`s been raising tons of
money off Herman Cain`s recent popularity and putting that money
essentially right into their own pockets. The group is run by two men, one
of whom is a felon once imprisoned for fraud. Essentially, they raised
money off Herman Cain fans out there, the gullible ones, and then they
redirect the money raised in the name of Herman Cain into organizations
that are just affiliated with themselves.
Quote, “The donors have not political powerhouses but rather middle
class Tea Partiers.”
This is the second such group the “Washington Times” reports is fund-
raising now off Herman Cain`s name but not giving the money to Herman Cain.
It`s a task made easy because Herman Cain doesn`t have a real campaign
apparatus to defend himself against that sort of thing or get to those
gullible donors first.
This is what happens when Herman Cain is your front runner. This is
what happens when the Newt Gingrich incorporated scam campaign is your
front-runner. And those are the two other two contenders for the
Republican nomination who are not Mitt Romney right now. Those guys and
Mitt Romney, that`s the top tier.
And with that competition, Mitt Romney still cannot move the needle on
his poll numbers. At this time last year Mitt Romney was at 22 percent.
Right now, Mitt Romney is – yes, still at 22 percent. So, Romney
averaging over time 22 percent. He has never been higher at all than 25
Right now Newt Gingrich is polling at 28 percent. Mitt Romney wakes
up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat dreaming of a number like
Newt Gingrich has right now. But he has never gotten it. He`s gone from
losing to Donald Trump, to losing to Michele Bachmann, to losing to Rick
Perry, to losing to the art project guy, to now losing to the Gingrich
productions DVD commercial.
And so, that`s what we`ve got for the Republican Party, picking its
nominee to run against Barack Obama. It has never been more clear that
Mitt Romney will get the nomination, and it has never been more clear that
Republican voters prefer almost anyone over him. I mean, not Rick
Santorum, obviously, but aside from that – really, anyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I recently wrote a book called “A Nation Like No Other”
designed to deal with American history.
We recently made a movie called “A City Upon a Hill” that explains the
origins of American exceptionalism.
I should say like brief commercial. Callista couldn`t be here because
she`s at a bookstore in Dubuque signing her new book which called “Sweet
Land of Liberty” which is for 4 to 8-year-olds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here`s what happened when Herman Cain sat down to talk with
the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” editorial board today. Just watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you agree with President Obama on Libya, or
CAIN: OK. Libya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The important thing to realize here is that is not the
mistake. The mistake is what happened after that when he – actually
started talking. In the category of hard to watch but also impossible not
to watch, Herman Cain coming up.
MADDOW: The German chancellor today said Europe is in its toughest
hour since World War II. She`s not given to hyperbole, either. That`s how
serious the economic crisis is in Europe right now.
Also, the Arab League has suspended Syria, thrown them out for using
its military against its own people.
Also, five former secretaries of state wrote today a joint letter
saying that this is not the time for the U.S. to be cutting our State
Department budget further any. This is not the time to be scaling back on
our diplomacy and our international involvement, not in the world in this
These are not people who normally do these things together either.
Look at this letter. It`s from Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Madeleine
Albright, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, all of them together today,
pleading for us not to cut the State Department any further.
No matter how much or how much attention the U.S. media pays to
international stuff and to America`s role in the world, we`re having one of
those moments in the world when America`s role in among the rest of the
countries in the world, it just feels very, very important.
When you really want there to be serious people who know what they`re
talking about, dealing with all these historically incredibly serious
issues all over the world. It`s just one of those times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you agreed with President Obama on Libya, or
Libya. President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President
Obama called for the removal of Gadhafi. Just want to make sure we`re
talking about the same thing before I say yes, I agree, I know I didn`t
I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason –
no, that`s a different one. I got to go back to – got all this stuff
twirling around in my head. Specifically, what are you asking me, did I
agree or not disagree with on what?
It`s not a simple yes or not because there are different pieces and I
would have gone about assessing the situation differently, which might
caused us to end at the same place. But where I think more could have been
done was, what`s the nature of the opposition?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you would have sent ground troops?
CAIN: I did – no, I did I said I would have done a better job of
assessing the situation relative to the opposition, first, before I made of
the decisions about what we would do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many Republicans supported – congratulated him
for how he handled that. You would not have been among that group?
CAIN: I`m not criticizing him. I`m just saying I just don`t think
enough was done relative to assessing the opposition before everything, you
know, exploded. That`s what I`m saying. I`m a much more deliberate
problem – decision maker is a point I keep coming back to.
Some people want to say, well, as president you`re supposed to know
everything. No, you don`t. I believe in having all of the information, as
much of it as I possibly can, rather than making a decision or making a
statement about whether I totally agreed and didn`t agree when I wasn`t
privy to the entire situation. There might be some things there that might
have caused me to feel differently.
So I`m not trying to hedge on the questions. It`s just that that`s my
nature as a businessman. I need to know the facts as much as possible. I
need to hear all of the alternatives.
For example, someone just – you might have mentioned that even within
the administration, there were different views. I would want to hear all
those views. Look at all the information. And then I make the decision as
the commander in chief. So, this is the only point I`m trying to make.
MADDOW: It`s one thing not to be able to tell Libya from Liberia from
Listerine. But what would be awesome if there was some expectation that
you had to be able to tell Libya from Liberia from Listerine in order to
meaningful compete for a major party nomination for president of the United
States in 2011. That would be awesome.
Joining us now is Josh Rogin, staff writer for “Foreign Policy”
magazine and author of the blog “The Cable.”
Josh, thanks for being here. Thanks for your time.
JOSH ROGIN, FOREIGN POLICY: Thank you.
MADDOW: I was watching your face while you were watching the Herman
Cain tape. So, I know a little bit about what you think about this. The
Cain campaign this afternoon said Mr. Cain was just tired. He described
himself as making no errors, he just paused.
What is your response to that?
ROGIN: Well, within that – that whole tape was sort of like a car
crash. You want to like away, but you just can`t. And I think perhaps the
most devastating/humorous part of that five-minute clip was when Herman
Cain actually asked the interviewers to confirm the basic facts. Obama was
against Gadhafi, is that right?
I mean, it`s worse than not having a position or stated it clearly.
It shows a complete lack of grasp of the basic facts that happened in one
of the major military interventions of our era. And after that, it just
continually got worse and worse and worse.
Now, to be fair to Herman Cain, the Libya issue was a tricky one for
all the candidates, our new GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich was for a Libya
no fly zone until Barack Obama did it. And he was against it.
Mitt Romney was reported to have at least five different positions on
Libya. And Michele Bachmann believes the whole Arab spring is a negative
development that was caused by Obama`s mistreatment of Benjamin Netanyahu.
I mean, you really can`t make this stuff up.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next among Republicans and foreign
policy, we all knew heading into this that Jon Huntsman was the only
candidate who had any foreign policy experience to speak of. He`s a three-
time ambassador and he`s done a lot of business for his dad`s company
abroad. He`s really the only one who has foreign policy experience at all.
And the question has been, whether or not anybody is going to care
whether or not foreign policy is something that these guys are going to try
to use the win the nomination or whether foreign policy ignorance is going
to be – ignorance or extremism is going to be the way one of these guys
loses the nomination.
Do you have a sense of how that is playing out?
ROGIN: Sure. And I would just say that Rick Santorum also has plenty
of foreign policy experience, but the thing that`s common amongst Jon
Huntsman and Rick Santorum, that neither of them have a chance of making it
through the primary process.
So, let`s deal with the candidates who are serious contenders. And
yes, it`s basically been the race to the right. The idea here is to get to
the right of Barack Obama who`s already a pretty hawkish Democrat on
So, that requires them to adhere to these very simplistic and watered
down positions that are just about American toughness and American
individuality and American unilateralism and we need to be tough on Iran
and we need to be friends with Israel. Without a lot of specifics about
what exactly they would do differently than what has been done.
I mean, the basic idea here is that you don`t win elections on foreign
policy. Very few people go to the polls and say, oh, I`m going to vote for
candidate “x” because of his position on Libya. But you can lose elections
on foreign policy.
It`s what we call the commander in chief test. If you can`t perform
the basic function of the president which is to lead the nation`s military
and foreign policy, which is an executive function, then you can`t be
president. And I think that`s what we`re seeing now is that candidates
like Herman Cain just don`t have the credibility or the knowledge to meet
that test. That`s a real problem.
MADDOW: Josh Rogin, staff writer for “Foreign Policy Magazine” and
author of the blog “The Cable” – Josh, thanks very much for your time. I
really appreciate it.
ROGIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. The latest hero in the “Occupy” movement is
Shelby, a Border Collie mix. Stick it to the man, Shelby. Her story and
much more “Occupy” news just ahead.
MADDOW: This past week in Ohio, the Republican bill to strip union
rights in that state, senior achievement of Republican Governor John Kasich
and Ohio Republicans was repealed by Ohio voters. It was repealed
overwhelmingly by a 23-point margin. The poll that predicted that result
exactly in Ohio, the poll that predicted that it would lose and it would
lose by that 23-point margin also said if John Kasich, himself, had been on
the ballot, if there was a rematch of the election that put John Kasich in
office in the first place last year, John Kasich would lose his seat in
Ohio by another huge margin, by 18 points.
John Kasich, lucky devil, was not on the Ohio ballot for recall last
week, but his twin, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, is – or at
least he could be, starting momentarily. There have been some
misconceptions about the Scott Walker recall floating around recently.
We`ll clear those up on “Debunktion Junction,” that is straight ahead.
MADDOW: The “Occupy Wall Street” movement will be two months old this
week. And it proceeds in American politics right now on two tracks. The
first one, the one that`s easiest to see on the national level but probably
the least interesting to the protesters, themselves, is how “Occupy Wall
Street” is translating into electoral politics. Now, this, for example, is
an ad being run against Elizabeth Warren in her Massachusetts Senate race
against Republican Scott Brown. This ad is by Karl Rove`s group,
Crossroads GPS, and it links Elizabeth Warren to “Occupy Wall Street” and
then it attacks “Occupy Wall Street” as a horrible, horrible un-American
Elizabeth warren is “Occupy Wall Street.” Occupy Wall Street is a
horrible thing. Therefore, by the property of politics, you get the idea.
But if Elizabeth Warren is “Occupy Wall Street,” right, Scott Brown
really is Wall Street, itself. Out of 100 senators, Scott Brown is number
one in campaign contributors from hedge funds. He`s also the senator who
has received the most campaign money from the venture capital industry.
He`s number two in receiving money from private equity and investment
firms. And he`s number two in money from these securities and investment
So, Wall Street seems pretty desperate to hold on to Scott Brown in
any circumstances. But if he`s running against Elizabeth Warren of all
people, you can imagine how desperate they are to hold on to him.
Elizabeth Warren`s response to the attack ad from Karl Rove`s group
came in the form of her first political ad, which was released today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: I`m Elizabeth
Warren. I`m running for the United States Senate. And before you hear a
bunch of ridiculous attack ads, I want to tell you who I am.
Like a lot of you, I came up the hard way. My dad sold carpet. When
he had a heart attack, my mom went to work so we could keep our house. We
My three brothers joined the military. I got married at 19, had two
kids, worked my way through college, taught elementary school. Then I went
to law school.
For years, I worked to expose how Wall Street and the big banks are
crushing middle class families. It just isn`t right.
I stood up to the big banks and their army of Washington lobbyists. I
worked to hold them accountable. I led a fight for a new agency to protect
consumers, and we got it. But Washington is still rigged for the big guys
and that`s got to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren in her first campaign ad speaking the
language of economic populism in a way that shows you why she is as popular
as she is.
If the Democrats are going to make any sort of claim to being the
party of the 99 percent, to be the economic populist party, Elizabeth
Warren is part of the reason why. She has provided them with part of the
vocabulary to do that.
In Republican politics, of course, Occupy Wall Street is being used as
an epithet. So, that`s one level in which “Occupy Wall Street” is playing
out in electoral politics. The other political place, though, that “Occupy
Wall Street” is playing out is in the streets, all day, every day.
These are not marches or individual contained demonstrations. The
idea of the “Occupy” protests is that people stay. That`s the “Occupy”
part of it, right? You don`t go anywhere. Like Hoovervilles. These are
supposed to be semi-permanent living reminders of what`s wrong with the
economy and the political system. The permanence is part of the pressure.
And city officials around the nation frankly are not handling this
well at all. Across the country this weekend, six different cities shut
down six different “Occupy” protest camps, including Burlington, Vermont,
also St. Louis, where there were 27 arrests. Portland, Oregon, 50 arrests
last night. Salt Lake City, 19 arrested. And Denver, where 17 people were
If you`re looking for comment on a Denver arrest, you`re going to have
to a Border Collie slash cattle dog mix, named Shelby. Shelby was elected
the leader of “Occupy Denver” last week because as one occupier put it,
quote, “Shelby has more human traits than any corporation. She can bleed,
she can breed and she can show emotion. If this is the way the corporate
chooses to do business, let`s apply the same rule.”
There were a lot of arrests today at “Occupy Oakland” again. Before
dawn this morning, hundreds of Oakland police officers armed with batons
entered the park that has been the site of “Occupy Oakland.” They arrested
people. They took down about 100 tents.
Oakland`s mayor, Jean Quan, who ordered the park to be cleared, toured
the former site of the encampment. This raid was far less confrontational
than the last one three weeks on October 25th. Then police violently
cleared out protesters only to see a mass revulsion at their tactics.
There were a number of injuries, including the serious wounding of an
Iraq war veteran, a Marine named Scott Olsen, whose skull was fractured by
a blunt object, allegedly by a projectile fired by police officers. Scott
Olsen was released from the hospital this weekend. He posted this picture
of himself online as of last night.
“Occupy Oakland” protests came back from that October police action
bigger than they had been before. This right now is a shot of what “Occupy
Oakland” looked like just moments ago, reports of between 500 and 1,000
people reconvening after they were cleared out this morning, reconvening in
Joining us tonight for the interview is a man who resigned his
volunteer advisory position with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and protest of the
police action today at “Occupy Oakland.” His name is Dan Siegel.
Mr. Siegel, thanks very much for your time tonight. I appreciate the
chance to talk with you about this.
DAN SIEGEL, RESIGNED AS ADVISOR TO OAKLAND MAYOR: My pleasure.
MADDOW: Why did you choose to resign at 2:00 a.m. this morning?
SIEGEL: You know, I was very unhappy with the police raid on the
“Occupy Oakland” camp on October 25th, and in a conversation with some of
the protesters after that raid. They challenged me about continuing to
work for the city administration. And I said I was really thinking about
it, but I decided to stay and hope that the policy of allowing the camp to
resume would be followed.
But when it became clear early this morning that 600 or 700 riot
police were on their way to downtown Oakland to take 100 people out of
tents they`d been occupying, I wrote an e-mail to the mayor and said I
couldn`t be part of that.
MADDOW: Obviously, you disagree with the mayor`s decision. But
having worked closely with her and having known her for many, many years,
do you have any insight into why she believed that the protest must go?
She said her words tonight, I`m paraphrasing, that the movement will
continue but keep cannot sleep out in Oakland anymore in order to make
SIEGEL: Well, the movement will continue. I certainly agree with
that. And I think people will sleep out, if not in city hall plaza, in
some place elsewhere they choose to stay.
I think that`s really where I disagree with Mayor Quan and other city
officials. They just don`t see, in my opinion, the scope of this movement.
This is a tremendous movement. It`s a productive movement.
It`s a progressive movement of people who have been passive for years
in the face of economic attacks, homelessness, joblessness, foreclosures,
crushing student debt and so on. I think it has the potential to really
remake American society. And if that`s true, then people who run cities
and particularly cities like Oakland, where the 99 percent live and face
all the problems I mentioned, should be supportive of those movements and
should not think that they can control them.
You know, the other piece, Rachel, is beyond just the politics of
whose side are you on. To me, it seems like a totally useless and futile
activity to spend millions of dollars to take people out of tents, to
create situations where there was bloodshed in our streets and lots of
chaos for days because they`re going to come back. This is a movement that
can`t be stopped. I think it makes no sense to waste the meager budgets
that we have in places like Oakland in fighting with folks who are trying
to make things better.
MADDOW: What can you imagine – as somebody who helped try to take
responsibility for the way that Oakland is governed, and your advisory role
with the mayor, until you resigned, what can you imagine in terms of a
reasonable accommodation that the city could make to stop confronting the
protesters and instead to allow them to stay in order to say their piece?
SIEGEL: Well, you know, I think the first thing is that people in
city hall have to get to know the protesters. I spent many, many hours
with them at the general assemblies and other activities and the vast
majority of them are incredibly reasonable, intelligent, thoughtful,
tolerant people. And I believe that if there had been more of an effort on
the part of the city government to actually get to know them, they would
have been successful in persuading the occupiers to meet the city`s demands
in terms of making sure that the park was clean and the sanitation was
maintained and the police and fire departments would be allowed access when
it was necessary for them to come in.
But I think there was just an attitude that got created very early on
of people stereotyping each other. I think that`s what created the
And then in the last week, there was tremendous pressure,
unfortunately, on Mayor Quan from some of the more conservative members of
the Oakland City Council and from people in the Chamber of Commerce and
others who used the fact that there was a shooting near the camp last
Friday as, in my view, an excuse to demand it be shut down.
And at the end of the day, the mayor was just unable to stand up in
the face of that kind of hostility.
MADDOW: Dan, I guess, city mayors and other authorities around the
country look to the experience of Oakland to make their own decisions about
what to do with their own occupy encampments. There are a thousand of
these across the country.
Obviously, you advocate local officials get to know the protesters,
and so, they`re not making decisions based on stereotypes. From what
you`ve done and what you think Oakland has done wrong, is there advice you
have for local authorities, local police departments, local mayors in
making decisions on what to do about this movement?
SEIGEL: Well, I think people do have to understand that this movement
is the 99 percent and that the goals are really important goals that we
should all be working for.
And I think there has to be a spirit of compromise. Go to the general
assemblies. Wait your turn to speak. Address the people who were there
and spend time with them, because at the end of the day, we should be
making common cause with the occupy movement to make the sorts of changes
that are necessary to have a fair taxation system, to curb the power of the
big banks, to deal with student loans and foreclosures and so on.
MADDOW: Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney who was a volunteer legal
adviser to the Oakland Mayor Jean Quan before his resignation early this
morning – Mr. Siegel, thanks for taking time to explain this to us. I
really appreciate your time, sir.
SIEGEL: Thank you for having me on.
MADDOW: All right. When bunk needs debunking, we have “Debunktion
Junction,” starring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and pajama parties.
That`s coming up right at the end of the show. Please stick around.
MADDOW: “Debunktion Junction” – now with 50 percent more politically
themed pajamas – is coming straight up.
MADDOW: This is Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: Some people up here think that
congress has always been unpopular. It is just an institution, an
unpopular place. Not so. Look at this, Mr. President. Here`s Congress`
approval rating today, 9 percent. We`re almost at the margin of error for
We did some research, Mr. President, to find out what else is at 9
percent. And we couldn`t find virtually anything in public polls taken
across the country.
My goodness, the Internal Revenue Service has a 40 percent approval
rating, compared to our 9 percent.
B.P. had a 16 percent approval rating at the height of the oil spill.
And we`re at 9 percent.
There`s an actress who`s at 15 percent.
More people support the United States becoming communist – I don`t
for the record – at 11 percent than approve of the job we are doing.
I guess we can take some comfort that Fidel Castro is at 5 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado making the case
in Congress that Congress is very, very unpopular.
For the record, when he talks about the actress, the actress, the one
who he incredulously says is more popular than Congress, even as he can`t
bring himself to say her name. The polling actress at 15 percent, he was
referencing, that would be Paris Hilton, who might be more heiress than
actress but, anyway, is significantly more popular than the United States.
Today, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives named a lot
of post offices after special people, plus they named a courthouse and a
wildlife refuge. So, maybe naming those things will turn things around for
Congress in terms of people hating their guts of them as an institution.
Democrats, of course, are the minority in the House of
Representatives. And in the House, that means you have basically zero
power in the institution. Well, today, Democrats used their zero power in
the institution to hold a forum. Not a hearing. They can`t do that.
The no-power Democrats held a forum in the House about the rollback of
voting rights in states controlled by Republicans across the country this
year. That was a key consequence, of course, of the 2010 elections when
Republicans took control of so many legislatures. Republicans in those
states moving to curtail early voting, to curtail voter registration
drives, banning people from voting altogether if they don`t show
documentation – documentation that hundreds of thousands of eligible
voters in each of those states do not have.
Meanwhile, nearly obscured among the news of so many high-profile wins
for Democrats and for progressive causes in last week`s elections, last
week`s off year elections, is this news, it was close but Republicans did
end up winning control of the Virginia state senate. So, in Virginia the
Republicans have both chambers of the legislature and the governorship.
And Republicans won control of the Mississippi House, which now means
Republicans have that state`s entire legislature and the governorship, as
well. For Mississippi, that is the first time that`s been true since the
civil war and reconstruction.
So two more state legislatures have just gone all the way red.
If what the Republicans have been doing with the power like that this
year is anything to go by – Mississippi and Virginia, brace yourselves.
MADDOW: “Debunktion Junction,” what`s my function? I didn`t know I
could roll my W`s before I did this segment.
Anyway, first up, true or false, Afghan officials announced that they
have made a catch, one of the chief spokesmen for the Taliban in
Afghanistan. Afghan officials say they nabbed him in a raid near the
So, true or false, is Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in custody?
MADDOW: False. He is not, at least as far as journalists can tell.
Face-to-face contact between Zabiullah and the media is rare. In
fact, the only time he`s been on camera that we know of was here, in 2009,
not very handy. He kept his head covered and his back to the camera the
whole time. But he does talk to journalists on the phone all the time.
And so, when “The New York Times” heard that he had been captured
today, they did what you would do. They called him on his cell phone and
he answered. He told the reporter that he was not in custody saying,
quote, “I am talking to you on the phone right now.”
Afghan authorities say the guy they arrested also claims to be
Zabiullah, the Taliban spokesman, which maybe the Taliban strategy.
“The New York Times” has also reported that American military
officials say they think of Zabiullah not as a single person, but as a team
of Taliban operatives all pretending to be the same man, which is a
But whether or not they got the one guy, the real Zabiullah, the
Taliban spokesman today in Afghanistan, whether they got him or not,
functionally speaking, we know from “The New York Times” that there is
still a guy answering the Taliban cell phone and doing the Taliban
All right. Next up: true or false – the campaign to recall Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker, that campaign starts tomorrow.
MADDOW: False sort of. The campaign to collect signatures to recall
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker starts just after midnight. So,
yes, technically that is tomorrow, but I have to tell you the party has
The Wisconsin Democratic Party which bills itself as the official
Scott Walker recall headquarters is coordinating all kinds of parties
around the state of Wisconsin tonight. Some, of course, are gatherings of
Packers fans who also want to recall Scott Walker. Some of them are pajama
parties and some of the pajama parties are asking attendees to come up with
Scott Walker recall-themed pajamas. All of the parties will hit their
party peak at 12:01 a.m. tonight when the party goers can start signing the
first petitions to recall Governor Walker from office.
They were going to need a lot of them. They`re going to need more
than a half million signatures by mid-January in order to force a recall
election of Scott Walker. And in Wisconsin, that`s a lot.
Part of the reason there`s been confusion about the timing on this is
because 10 days ago, a Scott Walker supporter filed papers to recall him.
Now, why would somebody who`s pro-Scott
Walker file papers to recall Scott Walker? Well, that`s because, as
“The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel” points out, that filing gave Governor
Walker a week and a half head start on campaign fundraising to fend off the
recall effort – which is nice and also sneaky.
Ad also please send photos of your recall theme pajamas. My email
address is Rachel@MSNBC.com. Thank you.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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