The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/03/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Have a great weekend, Michael. Thank you
MICHAEL DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
Honestly, I have to tell you y have been looking forward to this show
for a long time. As you know, today, the new jobs report came out showing
the economy added more jobs than economists expected but not enough. The
unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 8.3 percent.
Now, President Obama and Mitt Romney gave simultaneous speeches about
the economy and about the campaign this morning, shortly after the jobs
report came out. The president speaking in Washington, Mitt Romney
speaking in Nevada.
Honestly, it`s not that weird for them to be giving split screen
speeches. That`s going to happen more and more over for the next 95 days,
as we close in on the election.
But what was weird about today is that Mr. Romney in Nevada took
questions from reporters. That basically never happens. His whole six-day
trip abroad this past week with the giant entourage of American reporters
going to great expense to follow him 24 hours a day through three
countries, he took precisely three questions from the traveling American
press corps over that entire stretch. Five minutes, three questions over
Mitt Romney really never takes questions from reporters, but today, he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Harry Reid has said that you didn`t pay taxes for 10 years,
according to some sources he hasn`t named. I mean, could you silence these
remarks by disclosing more of your tax returns?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Harry Reid really has
to put up or shut up, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the guy who won`t release his tax returns talking
about his tax returns. Saying somebody else needs to put up or shut up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Let me also say categorically, I have paid taxes every year,
and a lot of taxes. A lot of taxes. So Harry is simply wrong.
REPORTER: Instead of just going back and forth with Harry Reid, why
not just release the tax returns, just put the issue to bed?
ROMNEY: Actually, you can go on our website, and you can see my
financial disclosure statements go back to 2002. You also can see the tax
returns that I put out for 2010.
Go on the Web site. You`ll be surprised to see the amazing amount of
data associated with our campaign`s disclosure. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you. You can in fact go on the Mitt Romney Web site
and look at what haze campaign has put out for his financial disclosure and
they have done their best to make it look amazing. Still, though, it`s
only the one year, the 2010 tax return. That`s it.
The aforementioned Harry Reid who is both the Senate minority leader
and the senior senator from Nevada put out a statement today welcoming Mr.
Romney to his home state by calling him, quote, “the most secretive
presidential candidate since Richard Nixon. Forget about president. He
couldn`t get confirmed as a cabinet secretary. Every nominee overseen by
the Senate Finance Committee has to release more tax returns than Romney is
willing to release.”
Mitt Romney and Harry Reid are trading blows right now as if they`re
running against each other, which no matter what you`re fighting about is
never a good place to be for a presidential nominee. They call it punching
down. Punching down.
No insult is intended to Mr. Reid by saying that, but Romney is
running for president, he`s not running for senator. So, for him to be in
a fight with a senator.
Anyway, the strange attack that Harry Reid launched on Mitt Romney
this week has essentially become the fulcrum of all political activity in
the president race now, even though it is punching down for Romney to
respond to it. That`s where the race is right now.
It started off strangely on Tuesday. Senator Reid gave an interview
to “The Huffington Post” in which he made what seemed to be a wild
Here`s how it appeared in the Huffington Post. “Saying he had `no
problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,` Harry Reid sat up in
his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month ago, he said a
person who invested with Bain Capital called his office, `Harry, he didn`t
pay taxes for 10 years,` Reid recounted the person as saying.
`He didn`t pay taxes for 10 years. Do I know it`s true? Well, I`m
not certain,` said Reid. `But obviously, he can`t release those tax
returns. How would it look?`”
“`You guys have said his wealth is $250 million,` Reid went on. `Not
a chance in the world. It`s a lot more than that. I mean, you would
pretty do well if you don`t pay taxes for 10 years when you`re making
millions and millions of dollars.`”
Very soft-spoken guy, a mild-mannered guy, even for somebody who is
usually hyper, that is a little unhinged. An unnamed single source making
a phone call to his office with a wild accusation that the Senate majority
leader then puts on the record to reporters even though he admits it`s just
heresy and he doesn`t know it`s true. That`s outrageous. It`s weird. It
rightfully got Senator Reid absolutely roasted by Jon Stewart on “The Daily
It seems for all the world that Harry Reid maybe had slipped up on
this. Maybe he just made a careless decision to make a reckless
allegation. He must not have meant it. This slipped out, he must be
It has not played out at all that week – that way this week. After
furious denunciations from the Romney campaign, Senator Reid said it again.
He took to the Senate floor and very calmly said it again, what he said to
“The Huffington Post,” he reiterated it.
By then, it was the Romney campaign and Mr. Romney himself who are
denying the allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ROMNEY: Of course, that`s totally and completely wrong. It`s – it`s
untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate. It`s wrong.
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY SPOKESMAN: I`m telling you authoritatively
speaking on behalf of the governor that the charges are untrue. They`re
baseless, and there`s nothing to back them up.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: After those responses from Mr. Romney and his campaign, Harry
Reid put out another statement, this time in writing, a bit long written
statement, reiterating what he said. This anonymous source told him about
Mr. Romney`s taxes and whipping him for not releasing more tax returns.
It`s understandable that this firestorm in the campaign this week has
focused on Harry Reid and this strange and seemingly reckless way that he
has made this accusation. He`s essentially saying, I`m assuming you`re
dirty. Somebody told me you are and it seems like you must be, so prove
that you`re not.
It makes sense that people are focusing on Harry Reid, but there are
two things from the public record of Mitt Romney`s life as a politician
that should change or at least inflect the way this is being discussed.
And the first is that if you don`t like the way Harry Reid is making
this accusation, if you don`t like the way he`s approaching this, if you
think it`s unfair or unseemly, you should at least know that Mitt Romney
himself has done this exact same thing that he is complaining is being done
to him now.
In 2002, when Mitt Romney was running for Massachusetts governor, he
would not release his tax returns. All of the candidates running on the
Democratic side, Robert Reich, Tom Birmingham, Shannon O`Brien, who became
the ultimate Democratic nominee, they all released multiple years of tax
returns. But Mitt Romney on the Republican side, would not release his.
So, when it came time for the general election, you got a Democrat,
Shannon O`Brien, who has released her tax returns, and you`ve got the
Republican, Mitt Romney, who has not released his tax returns. From that
position, as the guy who hasn`t released his returns, Mitt Romney attacks
Shannon O`Brien for her husband not releasing his tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Shannon O`Brien`s husband with whom I presume their share
expensive, likewise, hasn`t released his income taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I won`t release my tax returns, but your husband must.
Your returns aren`t good enough. I need to see your husband`s too,
but no, you can`t see mine?
Look at this reporting from April 2002. One day after balking at
releasing his own tax returns, the Romney campaign launches this attack on
Shannon O`Brien. Quote, “Her hands aren`t clean,” said Romney deputy
campaign manager Eric Fehrnstrom – oh, yes, remember him – of O`Brien`s
release of her tax return but not the filings of her husband. Quote, “She
can`t claim to be disclosing anything until she discloses the returns of
her husband.” He went on to say, “What is she hiding?”
This is the campaign that`s not releasing anything, yelling at the
campaign that has released its tax returns, what are you hiding?
Fast forward 10 years, and now it`s Harry Reid bellowing at Mitt
Romney and Eric Fehrnstrom, what are you hiding? And Mitt Romney and Eric
Fehrnstrom are whining and complaining about this horrible tactic and how
unfair it is, and the whole press is going along with them, without looking
back into Mitt Romney`s history to see that he has done the exact same
If you go to MaddowBlog.com, we can`t release the whole article, but
it`s locked into “Boston Herald`s” archives, but we posted the date and
headline and reporter and you can be enterprising and find a way to pay for
it online somehow so you can see for yourself that Mitt Romney did this
exact same thing that Harry Reid is now doing to Romney that the whole
press says is so awful.
So, I said there are two things about Mr. Romney`s past that should
redirect the current furor in the presidential campaign right now. One is
that he`s guilty of the exact same thing Harry Reid is doing – actually,
even a worse variant of the same thing that he is now whining about with
all of the support in the press. But the other thing, it`s more important,
and actually, it`s the whole largely missed but most important point of the
whole Mitt Romney tax question writ large, which becomes crystal clear when
you look at his record in Massachusetts, and that is that Mr. Romney is not
only refusing to release his tax returns. He`s not just saying no to that
request, he`s making positive empirical claims about what is in his tax
He`s not just saying, no, you can`t see them. He`s saying, no, you
can`t see them and let me tell you what`s in them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ROMNEY: Let me also say categorically, I have paid taxes every year,
and a lot of taxes.
My view is I have paid all the taxes required by law. I don`t pay
more than are legally due.
REPORTER: A spokesperson would only reiterate, “Mitt Romney has paid
his taxes in full compliance with U.S. law and he has paid 100 percent of
what he has owed.
ROMNEY: I obviously pay all full taxes, I`m honest in my dealings
with people. People understand that.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Is there some secret? People know you`re
ROMNEY: Yes, I understand.
MITCHELL: There`s nothing to hide.
ROMNEY: No, I agree, there`s nothing to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: These are all assertions by Mitt Romney himself and from his
campaign dating from today all the way back to last year. That last
comment to Andrea Mitchell was December of last year.
I have nothing to hide. Trust me. I have paid a lot of taxes. I
have never paid zero taxes. I have paid many dollars in taxes. I have
paid every dollar I`m legally required to. I have paid 100 percent of what
I legally owe, trust me.
And this is what has been lost in this campaign furor around Mr.
Romney`s taxes and him not releasing his tax returns. That`s that his
response is not just – no, you can`t see my taxes. His response is – no,
you can`t see my taxes, but let me tell you what`s in them. Trust me.
And what`s important about that is that Mitt Romney has done this
before. He did this in Massachusetts in 2002.
Massachusetts Democrats said in 2002 that Mitt Romney was not eligible
to run for governor in the state because the state constitution says you
have to have been a resident of Massachusetts for seven years before you
can run for governor. In trying to prove that allegation, they asserted
that Mr. Romney`s tax returns would show that he had not filed his taxes as
a Massachusetts resident. They thought that should disqualify him from
being able to run for governor in the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ROOSEVELT, JR., MA DEM PARTY COUNSEL: We believe that Mitt
Romney is not qualified under the Massachusetts constitution to be governor
because he declared himself to be a nonresident of Massachusetts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So for their own reasons, because they were trying to get him
kicked off the ballot, Massachusetts Democrats asserted that Mitt Romney`s
taxes showed him declaring himself to be a non-resident of Massachusetts.
The Romney campaign denied this. They went to reporters and denied that
allegation from the Democrats.
“Romney filed his taxes as a resident of both Utah and Massachusetts
in 1999 and 2000, and plans to do the same for 2001,” said Romney
spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom.
They wouldn`t release the tax returns, wouldn`t show them to anyone,
but they said trust me. Eric Fehrnstrom and Mitt Romney said trust us.
The tax returns show that Mitt Romney filed as a Massachusetts resident.
That`s what they said. They were lying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The Democrats point to Romney`s house in Utah, which was
listed as his primary residence, to support a challenge. They also want to
see his tax returns.
ROOSEVELT: We have now learned from his own lips this afternoon that
Mr. Romney lied yesterday when he said he had filed resident tax returns in
both Massachusetts and Utah.
REPORTER: Romney acknowledged today he amended his 1999 and 2000
Massachusetts state tax returns to make him a resident here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To make him a resident here retroactively. So after saying
all along for months to the people of Massachusetts, trust me, I have been
filing my tax returns as a Massachusetts resident, it finally came out
under pressure that was not true. He had to go back retroactively and
refile as a Massachusetts resident because he hadn`t filed as a
Massachusetts resident despite what he was saying in public.
He said, trust me y have, when he had not.
The Romney campaign had held on to that line until the very last
moment. Literally days before Mr. Romney finally had to admit, OK, no, I
didn`t file as a Massachusetts resident, up until that week, he and Eric
Fehrnstrom were still saying trust us.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Romney rejected a request by “The Globe” for
copies of his returns with financial information redacted but his
residential status visible. A Romney spokesman later identified by the
globe as Eric Fehrnstrom insisted at the time that the GOP candidate had
filed as a Massachusetts resident but told “The Globe” reporter you`re
going to have to take my word for it. Days later, it turns out the word is
worth nothing, at least when it comes to taxes. He was lying.
Ten years later, they`re saying everything he has ever done in his
taxes is lawful. He`s never paid zero taxes. He`s paid every dollar he`s
owed. He`s paid a ton of taxes. Trust us.
It`s a neat assertion. But it is an empirical assertion, checkable,
and the people trying to vet Mitt Romney for president would like to be
able to fact check that assertion. Presumably, you guys are making that
assertion because you think it has political import. Therefore, you either
need to be very trust worthy in your assertion of these things or need to
let us check for ourselves as the American people and the press. And not
only are you not letting us check for ourselves, but you have proven
yourself in public life to be the opposite of trust worthy on this issue.
Ten years ago, you lost the benefit of the doubt on this issue.
One last parallel in case you still need to be convinced we`re
reliving ten years ago, he`s doing his tough talk thing just like he did
back then. It`s the exact same playbook.
So, right now, Harry Reid is making his allegation that Mitt Romney
didn`t pay taxes. Mitt Romney is saying that`s untrue. He`s not just
saying it`s untrue, he`s saying it`s untrue while appearing very tough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Well, harry Reid really has to put up or shut up, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: All right, put up or shut up? All right? I paid all my
But again, remember, this is a rerun. Here is what tough talk Mitt
Romney being called out about his taxes looked like the first time around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: If the Democrats want to look at my candidacy and file
against me and keep me from running, go ahead. Make my day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Make my day. Put up or shut up. Argh!
In poker, when you`re bluffing or when you`re under some strain of
some kind, people say you have a tell – something that you maybe even
subconsciously fall back on every time. Mitt Romney has a tell. But you
have to be willing to look back to the earlier part of his time in public
life to see it. Hold on, wait, there`s more.
MADDOW: There`s more from the previous public life of Mitt Romney,
ahead right after this.
And we`ve got big news from the great state of Michigan today. It has
been a while since those words have been uttered, but tonight, it`s true.
Big news. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: There`s one more thing from Mitt Romney`s history as a public
figure that I think is being lost in the current discussions about him not
releasing his tax returns and it is this. In his 1994 Senate race against
Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, Mitt Romney demanded that Ted Kennedy
release his tax returns. Quote, “With the tax filing deadline looming,
Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney yesterday challenged Senator Edward
M. Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has, quote,
`nothing to hide.` `It`s time the biggest taxing senator in Washington
shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes,` said Romney.”
Does this mean that Mitt Romney disclosed his tax returns add the same
time that same year? Surely he wouldn`t demand the other guy release his
taxes without releasing his own. Yes, of course, he would. Quote, “Romney
said he would release his own for the last three years on the very day
Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny.”
So, that was the gig, right? I will release my tax returns but only
when my opponent releases his.
Mitt Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in that Senate race. Mr. Romney`s
opponent, the senator, never released his tax returns and so neither did
Romney. But when Mr. Romney ran for office the next time, in 2002, when he
ran for Massachusetts governor, his opponent in the race did release her
tax returns. In fact, all of the Democrats running against him released
their tax returns, even before they picked their Democratic nominee.
Robert Reich and the state Senate president and Shannon O`Brien, the
eventual nominee, they all released multiple years of their tax returns.
And remember, in `94, Mr. Romney said, if my opponent releases tax
returns, I will, too, that very day. But in 2002, when his opponent
released tax returns, Mr. Romney wouldn`t do it. He wouldn`t release his.
What changed? He was asked about that change in a debate that year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have refused to release your income tax
forms even though others, including Governor William Weld, U.S. Senator
John Kerry, and your opponent, Shannon O`Brien, have released theirs. Do
you have something to hide?
ROMNEY: I believe very deeply in my personal privacy, what little
amount there`s left. In this case, you made a couple exceptions from your
list. Senator Kennedy, when I was running against him, boy, I told him,
you have to release the income tax returns of yours. And he said, no, I
value my privacy.
I think he was right and I was wrong. As a result, I share his view
on this. I`m not going to release my income tax returns.
And Shannon O`Brien`s husband, with whom I assume their share
expenses, likewise, hasn`t – excuse me, released his taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is not releasing his taxes, he was wrong to demand that
Kennedy release his tax returns, but now that his new opponent, Shannon
O`Brien has released her tax returns, well, now, how come we`re not seeing
her husband`s, too? Weird, right?
It was a weird spot for Mr. Romney to be caught in. It was 180 degree
about face on this same issue that`s dogging him now in his run for the
And in 2002, the Boston press did not go easy on him. They did not go
easy on him the last time he made a hash of this issue in the run for
From “The Boston Globe,” quote, “Romney had made an issue of tax
disclosure when he ran against U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy in 1994,
criticizing Kennedy for having never released his return. Romney spokesman
said yesterday there was no inconsistency in this action. `The offer still
stands on Ted,` Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. `We`ve been
This is 2002. This is eight years after Romney ran against Ted
Kennedy, in a totally unrelated race, in which Mitt Romney was refusing to
release his tax returns, but he said he would release them if Senator
Kennedy did, too.
They said the same thing to “The Boston Herald” as well. Asked about
the 1994 Kennedy campaign, Eric Fehrnstrom said he will still release his
returns if Senator Kennedy does. Quote, “We have been waiting eight years
and the offer still stands,” Fehrnstrom said.
Eight years after the Senate race? That was the only condition under
which Mitt Romney will release his tax returns. His opponent releasing her
tax returns wasn`t enough, all of the Democrats releasing their tax returns
wasn`t enough, getting caught lying about his tax returns wasn`t enough,
but eight years after he ran against Ted Kennedy for Senate when he was
running in a totally different race in which Ted Kennedy was irrelevant, a
release of Ted Kennedy`s tax returns would be the trigger for Romney to
release his returns? Why?
And if that offer still stood eight years after that election, when
Ted Kennedy was totally irrelevant to the race he was in, does that mean
the offer still stands now?
We asked the Romney campaign today if the offer still stands. So far,
we have had no on the record response, but I really hope we will.
MADDOW: You know what the 2012 season is missing? Really great
So far, 2012 is a little personality challenged, right? It`s a fund-
raising rubber chicken dinner without anybody breaking it up with a few
As opposed to 2010, which had a ton of good jokes. A year like this
one is almost enough to make a person nostalgic for the array of amazing
losing campaigns for the United States Senate two years ago. Like for
example, Delaware Republican “I am not a witch” Christine O`Donnell. What
happened to her?
We know through the magic of the Internet that these days she seems to
be paying for a chance to take a picture with Ann Romney at a Romney
campaign fund-raiser. Look at the tweet, “Love the Romney`s.”
And remember Ken Buck of Colorado, “vote for me I don`t wear high
heels,” Mr. Ban all abortions with no exception for rape or incest? Ken
Buck is still around. He`s a county district attorney in Colorado now
making scary videos about how he will defend the country from you know who
in black helicopters trying to take our guns away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN BUCK (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: We don`t need foreign
governments or the Obama administration keeping tabs on who owns guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And remember Nevada Sharron Angle who said if she didn`t beat
Harry Reid in November, conservatives would return to second amendment
remedies to get their way?
Sharron Angle isn`t running for any sort of office right now. But she
wants you to know that she never stops fighting. Here`s what Sharron Angle
tweeted today, “Weight-lifting today, my weekly workout routine to stay
healthy and escape the Obamacare death panel. Can we to do more?”
Can we to do more. There is so much to be to done.
There`s also a fascinating character on the Democratic side in the
Senate race in 2010. Remember South Carolina`s Alvin Green? That got the
Democratic Senate nomination there without actively campaigning for it, in
an apparent and embarrassing fit of voter ignorance, just humiliating for
South Carolina Democrats.
Where is Alvin Green today? It is unclear, but there`s a cool-looking
graphic novel about his candidacy that is sitting on my night table that
I`m looking forward to reading. And if you`re thinking, oh, yes, Alvin
Green, they don`t make candidates like Alvin Green in 2012?
It turns out, yes they do. Democrats in a Southern state have
nominated another accidental candidate while nobody was looking. The
details are mind bending. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: News tonight in Michigan. Legit big news on a story that we
have been covering in the great state of Michigan for more than a year.
The Supreme Court in Michigan today ordered that state`s draconian
emergency financial manager law, which essentially eliminated local
democracy in some parts of the state, the Supreme Court ordered that it has
to go on the ballot this November for a citizen`s repeal. Wow.
The high court in Michigan says the people of Michigan must get a vote
on whether to keep that law or repeal it this November.
This is Republican Governor Rick Snyder`s radically expanded law under
which he can decide, the state can decide your town is too broken for
elected representation, and instead, they can appoint a single emergency
manager with near unilateral control. That state appointed overseer can
fire your town`s elected officials, can cancel contracts, can sell off the
That one person can even unilaterally decide that it`s best to
dissolve the town, just get rid of it, never mind what you the voters want
or what you wanted when you voted for your local elected officials.
Democracy is not part of your deal anymore. Democracy is not the means by
which Michigan solves its problems anymore.
With Rick Snyder`s emergency manager law, the state of Michigan
decided that democracy is part of the problem. Democracy needs to be put
on hold. Maybe you`re just not fit for it.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed the law as public act number
four, as in one, two, three, four. As in as soon as he was governor and
Republicans had control of the legislature, they got right to this, way up
there on their priority list.
And right after Governor Rick Snyder signed it, high started using it
in Benton Harbor. The emergency manager there appointed under an old
version of the law used his new power to essentially fire the entire
elected city council and the elected mayor. He bothered to use his new
powers to cancel a symbolic constitution week declared by the city council
since the elected city council, he said, had no right to vote to have
He used his new powers to sell off Benton Harbor`s publicly owned
radio station which incidentally had been used to criticize him.
Just recently, he used his new power to mistakenly sell off land that
had been set aside as a small park despite the land having a sign in front
of it saying it was public land. Whoops on that one.
The emergency manager of the Detroit public schools used his new power
to try and shut down the Catherine Ferguson Academy for young moms which he
had not been able to do under the old law. The students got arrested
protesting his decision in a sit-in at their school, and they did save
their school, the Catherine Ferguson Academy from Governor Snyder`s new
Catherine Ferguson Academy is open. This was graduation this year.
But they only just barely saved it.
One newly appointed manager joked about himself as the tyrant of
Pontiac, Michigan. He said like he was joking. But under Rick Snyder`s
law, he does have nearly a dictator`s authority.
In Michigan – in Michigan, citizens have a right to force a repeal
referendum for laws they don`t like. So, you draw up petitions. If you
gather enough signatures on your petitions, you can qualify a new law to go
up on a state-wide ballot in the next election for an up or down vote.
On the last day of February, a small group of activists turned in more
than 200,000 signatures to repeal the emergency manager law, way more than
enough to qualify to put it on the ballot. In April, though, the board of
state canvassers rejected their petitions.
The Republican members of the board said they couldn`t be sure that
the font size on one line of the petition was a large enough font so they
threw the whole recall effort out. Those 200,000 people who signed to put
the new law up for a vote, never mind them.
Ever since, the activists have been pleading their case in court,
telling judges that their font was big enough. This is Michigan, for
reals. Font size.
Michigan democracy is going to depend on the arcane technical
definitions of the concept of a font and font families and type and the
deep inner wilds of Microsoft Word. Seriously.
But today, the activists won. In a split decision, the Michigan
Supreme Court ordered the board of state canvassers to go back and do it
again. To put Governor Snyder`s signal legislation up for repeal, to put
it up before the voters this November.
This court ruling is news. And it is complicated. Nobody quite knows
exactly what`s going to happen now. Once the elections board certified the
referendum which the high Supreme Court just ordered, that`s going to
freeze Governor Snyder`s law until the November vote.
Think about that. That`s really important. There`s a dictator in
charge of all these parts of Michigan. It`s not clear what happens now,
for instance, to the Muskegon Heights school district, where the emergency
manager just converted the whole thing into the charter system.
It`s not clear what happens to all of the union contracts that got
rewritten in Flint and Pontiac and Detroit.
I mean, does Benton Harbor get its radio station back?
It`s not clear what happens, though. Yesterday, the day before the
court ruled, Governor Snyder posted a video about why Michigan needs his
emergency manager law. You`ll watch closely, you see the sound and the
picture are not quite synced up but you`ll get the point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: In the event we do need an emergency
manager, we change the law so they have more powers and abilities to come
in, do their work, finish their work, and leave the community sooner than
in the past. And I think that`s a good outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, you know, since Governor Snyder signed his new
emergency manager law, none of the cities under emergency management have
had the emergency manager leave. None of them have gotten their
democracies back like he`s promising here.
But hey, you know, it`s early days. And this looks to be the first ad
of the referendum campaign. Remember, this was done before the court
Snyder and his side are already fully in gear to try to hold on to the
emergency manager law they like so much.
But on the other side, the people who have been trying to repeal
Governor Snyder`s law, they just have been working flat out the last three
months to try to get the courts to intervene.
So their side is three months behind in terms of the campaign, in
terms of making their case to the public. A poll last week found them
trailing by 10 points. But they have plenty of room to work. There are
more than enough undecided voters to swing the election if they can reach
them in time before November.
Now that the Supreme Court says their referendum is going on the
November ballot, they are getting to work on that.
Joining us now is Reverend David Bullock, pastor of St. Matthew`s
Baptist Church and president of the Detroit chapter of the Rainbow/PUSH
coalition. He`s an advocate for repeal of the emergency manager law.
Pastor Bullock, thank you for your time tonight. It`s nice to see you
REV. DAVID BULLOCK, ST. MATTHEW`S BAPTIST CHURCH: Rachel, good to see
you. Thank you for having me on the show tonight.
MADDOW: I imagine that you are rather ecstatic about this court
ruling, the fact that Michigan is going to get a chance to vote on this.
Do you get to sort of start your campaign in earnest to make your case to
the state now? What`s the first step?
BULLOCK: Well, the first step is celebration. While it`s a partial
victory, today we realize that the people united can never be defeated. We
were in the ring against the twin giants of technical difficulty and
tyranny and we won a blow for democracy today.
We must remember, all of the volunteers in Benton Harbor, Marcus
Muhammad (ph), Reverend Fenty (ph) in Flint, Bishop Jefferson in Detroit,
the committee to stand up for democracy. The Detroit branch of NAACP, of
Michigan Forward, our great legal team, Butch Hallowell (ph) and Herb
And so, today is a day where we celebrate and we believe again in the
system. Democracy can work even in the state of Michigan.
MADDOW: There`s a lot of confusion now, Pastor, about what happens in
the places that have an emergency manager. What is radical about this law
is just how much power an emergency manager has. They have so much power
than essentially all other forms of government that they wipe out sort of
atrophy in their presence because they have unilateral control. There`s –
it`s unclear now whether or not that person is still in charge if the
emergency manager powers are going to be on hold until the vote happens in
How do you see that playing out?
BULLOCK: Well, it plays out differently.
The general rule, though, is that once the petitions are certified,
public act four is suspended, which means Mike Brown in Flint, who was
placed as an emergency manager in Flint under public act four, has to cease
and desist. Muskegon Heights, you have to cease and desist. In Highland
Park, you have to stop.
Now, Roy Roberts in Detroit probably gets reduced from PA-4 to PA-72
but it`s good news because he had unilateral power over finance and
academics and was proposing to put 62 pupils in each class. And so, he
cannot do that. He does not have control over the academics.
Joe Harris in Benton Harbor probably gets downgraded again. And so,
now, we can begin to make the case that PA-4 and those who were put in
under PA-4 have to go. Those who get reduced to Public Act 72 should at
this point have finished their work and indeed have to go as well.
Governor Snyder himself has said that the emergency manager program is
supposed to be temporary. Well, if it`s supposed to be temporary, let us
see what that looks like. They have to go.
They have not used their powers to help expand economic opportunities.
In fact, there are no jobs. Police and fire are cut. Classroom size
expanded beyond any teacher`s ability to teach students.
And so, this public policy does not work. We`re going to vote this
thing off of the charts. Public Act 4 will no longer be in play in the
state of Michigan. And emergency management will no longer be a reality in
MADDOW: I hear your passion in making the case. I have heard you
make it in other fora as well and I know that you`re not just passionate
about it, you`re an effective advocate for the side of this. But a new
poll shows the repeal effort trailing by 10 points. Is that because your
side in favor of repeal has been tied up doing other work, trying to get
the courts to intervene? Do you think you`ll be able to move those poll
numbers in time for November?
BULLOCK: Indeed. We were tied down bipartisan politics, by politics
tied to the pocket book, but finally, the Michigan Supreme Court has stood
with the people`s right to decide to protect democracy.
And so, we mobilize after we celebrate tonight, we have a meeting in
the morning at 9:30 in the morning. We`re planning on August 25th for a
major march and mobilization. We`re going to mobilize over 2,000
volunteers in a state-wide political education and mobilization campaign.
We are going to win this thing. There`s so much wind in our sails, we
believe that we can fly. And we`re going to get it done in Michigan.
MADDOW: Reverend David Bullock, pastor of St. Matthew`s Baptist
Church, president of the Detroit chapter of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition –
I`m not in the business of giving political advice on things like this, but
that statistic that you just dropped talking to me, 61 pupils per class, if
you put one statistic on a placard for that march, I would suggest that one
,because anywhere in the country, anyone sees a picture of that statistic,
you`re going to drop jaws all over the country, sir.
BULLOCK: That`s right, indeed. And we`ve got other stats. We`ve got
the stats about 1,400 lights being taken out of the city of Highland Park,
we`ve got stats about police and fire being cut, we`ve got stats about
public safety not being invested in.
And so, we are going to mobilize around what we know to be the truth.
Emergency managers don`t work in Michigan. Public Act 4 destroys
democracy. It takes your voice and your vote away.
And so, we march and mobilize on August 25th for a state-wide movement
to resurrect democracy.
MADDOW: David Bullock, thank you, sir. It`s good to have you here.
BULLOCK: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a cocktail moment ahead. Deserved,
And it turns the state of Tennessee has a truly unexpected gift for
the nation this election year. That`s coming up next.
MADDOW: So how was your week? In any case, you have earned a Friday
cocktail moment, which is mere moments away.
MADDOW: In American partisan politics, the two parties are coping
with something called the orphan state problem. It has nothing to do with
orphans. It has to do when the states essentially get taken over entirely
by one of the two parties.
It`s what happens when you compound the problem of the people of the
state consistently voting all Democratic or all Republican. You compound
that with the fact that the weaker of the two parties is not just weak.
They`re a disaster. It`s one thing to be an underdog party like the
Republicans in New Jersey. It`s another thing entirely to be the
Republicans in California, or New York. Republicans who look less like a
party and more like a crime scene. They`re just a wreck, totally incapable
of just basic party functions.
And in states where one party is not just stronger than the other, but
the weak party has withered and died, it`s hard to figure out a future for
the dead, withered, weak party in our two-party party. I mean, they
obviously get no attention, no support nationally because everybody at
national party headquarters thinks they`re a lost cause. You don`t want to
throw good money after bad. So they don`t get any resources.
Also, though, necessity tends to be the mother of invention. So in a
dead party like that, anything can happen. You can get out of the box
thinking. On a good day, that can mean creative innovation. On a bad day,
you can see a party jump off the kook end.
Speaking of which, did you know there was a primary in Tennessee
yesterday? There was. Democrats in Tennessee got to pick their senate
candidate who would run against Republican incumbent Senator Bob Corker.
This was not a race to be dogcatcher, to head up the Murfreesboro
department of weights and measures or something. We`re talking about the
actual United States Senate, the big dome building in Washington, D.C.
So, there was a Democratic primary in red, red, red, red Tennessee.
And the guy commonly described as the anti-guy conspiracy theorist won the
senate race. America, meet your new Democratic U.S. senate nominee,
Tennessee Democrats picked a guy who says he is against the North American
In case you lay awake nights worrying about the impending merger of
America, Canada and Mexico into Americanadexico. He`s against that.
He also warns those who dare to disagrees with government will find
themselves in a, quote, “bone-crushing prison camps similar to the Russian
gulag or to one of FEMA`s prison camps.”
As “Mother Jones” magazine helpfully adds today, there are no FEMA
This new Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is also the vice president
of a super duper anti-gay organization with this crazy Web site that made
my eyes burn just clicking to it quickly. I will save you from the
indignity of that.
But not only did this anti-gay conspiracy theorist win the Democratic
U.S. Senate primary yesterday in Tennessee, he won by a lot. This guy,
Mark Clayton, is his name, got 30 percent of the vote in a field of seven
candidates. And within a day of doing that, the actual Democratic Party
disavowed him because of his association with the anti-gay thing he helps
run which has, after all, been labeled an American hate group.
The party, the real Democratic Party is urging real Democrats in
Tennessee to instead write someone in. Write in the name of any other
candidate when you vote this November, doesn`t matter whose name you write
in, literally anybody but the conspiracy theorist, anti-gay guy will do.
This is the volunteer state, folks. Won`t somebody please step
forward and save the Tennessee Democrats from the guy here to save us from
the gays and our impending merger into Americanadexico.
MADDOW: This summer, THE RACHEL MADDOW`s staff was introduced to
something called Lakrisal. It`s a Swedish licorice delicacy. Our
producer, Vanessa Silverton-Peel, got some of it from a Norwegian friend
and she introduced it to us as if it was candy. Ha.
We tried it, and it tasted flipping awful. Bitter in an extremely
salty way. It was like a gagatorium (ph) in THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW office
when everybody tried the Lakrisal.
So then naturally we wanted to know why it`s like that.
We went to the chemist who we keep on retainer around here – doesn`t
everybody do that? – to investigate the three main ingredients in Lakrisal
– Licorice, ammonium chloride and sugar.
We asked our chemist friend to tell us why it was so freaking bitter.
We tested its acidy in a not very scientific lab experiment in our office
kitchen. We came up with a level for Lakrisal of ph 5.92.
For context, that`s somewhere between urine and coffee on the ph
scale. This stuff is amazing.
When Krist Novoselic, the bassist for Nirvana, came on the show last
month, we found out weirdly that he feeds one of the active ingredients in
Lakrisal, the ammonium chloride, to his goats. He has goats. Also, he
agreed to personally try Lakrisal on camera in our green room. He was a
really good sport about it. I think he liked.
Well, today, we gathered the ingredients and we tried to make our own
Lakrisal and it tasted awful, but very much like the real thing. It`s
incredible how so few ingredients can make such a terrible, terrible flavor
that apparently Swedish people and goats enjoy.
We have not been able to figure out why it tastes so awful to us.
Excuse me. Ah. Scientists – spoke with said it`s basically a lot of
scientific mystery. It could be the ionic battery like taste of ammonium
chloride. It could be the combination of the three ingredients turning
into some weird new taste or it could just be a matter of us not being
It has been awesome to try to figure out why this horrible thing
exists in the world and what it is.
So, in any case, in honor of the truly awful but apparently marketable
taste that is Lakrisal, this is the thing that exist in the world, we are
having a cocktail moment to honor the licorice flavor that is in it, but to
also wash it away with delicious goos (ph). This is the obituary cocktail
apparently because Lakrisal makes you want to die but also because it`s a
variation on a martini that uses and absinthe which is a licorice flavored
I learned this from John Gertson in Massachusetts, in Boston. But
it`s a classic and it`s really good. It`s a variation on the martini that
uses absinthe. So, it`s 2 1/4 – I`m making two – 2 1/4 ounces of gin.
It`s a half an ounce of dry vermouth, which is the white one, and then it
is a quarter ounce of absinthe. We`re using this great St. George
And then you essentially just prepare it the way you would with a
martini. What did you learn wrong from James Bond? In fact it, martinis
should be stirred and not shaken. You don`t need to – you don`t need to
shake anything that doesn`t have fruit juice or cream or an egg white or
something else that`s really hard to emulsify in it. If it`s just liquor
like this one, you can just stir it.
You`re trying to not make the ice make too much noise which I just
did. I`m nervous doing this on TV. So, that`s enough to make two obituary
cocktails and even just a taste of an obituary cocktail is enough to rescue
you from the living death that is Lakrisal. Scandinavian people, we love
you, but, boy, do you have really, really bad taste.
All right. That does it for us tonight. Better already. We`ll see
you again Monday night. But right now, you have to drink up because you
are late for prison.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>