The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/17/13
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: That`s “THE ED SHOW.” I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
The 1992 presidential election. That was the election that cut short
Poppy Bush`s time in office, right? He was only a one-term president
because he lost in 1992.
Democrats like to remember 1992 as a triumphant year for the
Democratic Party because there was this young Arkansas Democratic Governor
Bill Clinton unseating an incumbent Republican president.
The uncomfortable part of that memory for Democrats is that even
though Bill Clinton did beat President Bush in 1992, he did so with only 43
percent of the vote. Bill Clinton got 43 percent of the vote that year.
President Bush got 37 percent of the vote.
And even though it is always a bad idea to do math on television, this
one isn`t that hard. If you add up 43 and 37 you do not get anywhere near
100 percent of the vote. What happened to the rest of the vote?
The wacky thing about the 1992 election in terms of thinking about
American binary red versus blue party politics is that another guy who ran
that year, a third person, got almost 20 percent of the vote. It was Ross
Perot, right? Giant sucking sound. Ross Perot got a very large proportion
of the vote for a third-party candidate, nearly 20 percent.
And who knows how the votes would have been divided between Bill
Clinton and George H.W. Bush had Ross Perot not been in there that year.
But one thing that`s often forgotten about the 1992 race is that Ross Perot
was not the only third-party candidate who ran that year. There was a
whole slate of other third-party candidates nominated that year who did not
make as big a splash as Mr. Sucking Sound did. They did as well as third-
party candidates usually do, which is not that well at all.
But one of that long list of candidates who ran on something called
the populist party ticket, one of those candidates ended up in the course
of that campaign that year, he ended up having a starring role in a really
serious news event that transfixed the country and had nothing at all to do
with presidential politics.
His name was Bo Gritz. He was a Vietnam veteran. He got 0.1 percent
of the popular vote ultimately.
But in August 1992, about 2 1/2 months before the presidential
election, he ended up playing the mediator role, sort of the negotiator`s
role, in ending an 11-day violent, fatal, armed standoff at the top of a
mountain in northern Idaho about 30 miles from the Canadian border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: It ended without gunfire, unlike the way it began. Randy
Weaver, his three children, and the man the government reluctantly accepted
as its negotiator walked out of a mountaintop cabin late this afternoon
hand in hand.
BO GRITZ, VIETNAM VET: He didn`t come out. We went in. And we
hugged each other. And we kissed the girls and hugged them. And it`s a
very emotional thing.
REPORTER: It was 11 days ago when the siege in northern I`d began.
Weaver, his wife, three kids, and a friend were found hiding in a remote
cabin not far from the Canadian border.
Weaver was wanted on charges of selling sawed-off shotguns. There was
a shootout, and a federal marshal was killed. The next day, Weaver`s wife
was killed. A son killed. And a friend wounded.
Northern Idaho is a hotbed for anti-government sentiment. And as the
siege dragged on, a vigil of angry supporters watched the authorities`
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So Bo Gritz, presidential candidate that year, ended up
playing this key role in ending this horrible standoff. But the standoff,
it lasted for 11 days, and it did become a cause celebre for a very angry
portion of the very far right anti-government fringe in this country. That
was Ruby Ridge.
Less than a year later, about six months later, the siege started at
Waco in central Texas. A cult leader and dozens of his followers were
living in a compound that they had built on a rural piece of land just
outside of Waco. Members of the cult, among other crimes, were suspected
of possessing illegal weapons.
An attempt to serve a search warrant on the compound ended in a huge
firefight in which four federal agents and several members of the cult were
killed. Then that was followed by another long and ultimately very bloody
standoff between law enforcement and this very well-armed group of people.
It was a 50-day standoff in Waco that ended in a massive fire and
many, many fatalities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. It appears tonight that
David Koresh, who believed that he was the son of God, perished today in a
setting that closely resembled hell. And apparently, he took more than 85
of his followers with him, including it`s estimated 17 children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What happened at Waco was an absolute nightmare. But on
parts of the very far right, on the anti-government far right fringe, it
was seen not just as a nightmare but as a conspiracy, as a government
conspiracy, as something that was ginned up and in fact faked by the
government to create a big enough, scary enough situation that it would
justify taking away everyone`s guns.
A freshman Republican congressman from Texas at the time, a
congressman named Steve Stockman, even wrote in an article in “Guns & Ammo”
magazine that Waco was a government execution. He said, quote, “Waco was
supposed to be a way for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and
the Clinton administration to prove the need for a ban on so-called assault
This was a member of Congress arguing that the deaths at Waco were
premeditated by the government as a way to persuade the rest of the country
to support gun control. He was saying the government made this up, they
did this on purpose, they ginned this up for political reasons, it was
Ruby Ridge had been a cause celebre for folks like that already that
year. Waco was a further cause celebre for the same group of people.
And on the anniversary of Waco, on the two-year anniversary of Waco,
on April 19th, 1995, a militia member named Timothy McVeigh cited Ruby
Ridge and Waco as his inspiration for bombing the federal building in
Timothy McVeigh was trying to kill as many federal employees as
possible when he bombed that building. He specifically chose the Murrah
building in part because it had an ATF office in it and that to him was an
ideal target for Americans to kill.
After the Oklahoma City bombing, law enforcement officials later went
back and they found this picture of Timothy McVeigh at Waco two years
earlier. He had gone to Waco during the siege, and Waco was part of why he
said he did what he did on the anniversary of that siege two years later in
On the day of the bombing in Oklahoma City, that same Texas
congressman, Steve Stockman, who had said that Waco was a conspiracy by the
government ginned up for gun control purposes, that same congressman ended
up back in the middle of the Oklahoma City story as well.
This is from NBC “Nightly News” just a few days after the Oklahoma
BROKAW: And a freshman Texas congressman is at the center of another
mystery. Last week, the office of Republican Steve Stockman received a fax
with a cryptic message about a building in Oklahoma with nine floors, a
bomb threat. It was timed and dated almost precisely at the time the bomb
Today, Stockman gave his side of the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: They retrieved the fax, and I was
made aware of it. I immediately instructed my staff to turn it over to the
FBI, and my office did so within minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: Stockman also acknowledged today that a member of his staff
sent that fax on to the National Rifle Association.
MADDOW: His office sent it to the NRA?
Then, less than a month after the Oklahoma City bombing, on a day that
had been proclaimed a national day of mourning for police killed in the
line of duty, less than a month after the Oklahoma City bombing, the NRA
took out a national newspaper ad defending a fund-raising letter that they
had just sent which called federal law enforcement personnel “jack-booted
This is less than a month after the Oklahoma City bombing. President
George H.W. Bush resigned his life membership in the NRA in protest.
Ultimately, even after they first defended it, the NRA was forced to
apologize for the “jack-booted thugs” thing.
And, ultimately, old Steve Stockman did get voted out of office in
Texas in 1996. He`d only served one term in the House.
But you know what happened to Steve Stockman in the long run? In this
past election in 2012, the one we just had, Steve Stockman got voted back
into office. Texas decided to send him back. And then, yes, he was the
guy who even before President Obama said what he wanted to do on gun reform
this week, Steve Stockman was the member of Congress who was already out
calling for President Obama`s impeachment, before President Obama had even
Steve Stockman wanted to impeach him as a gun grabber. That,
incidentally, is how he won his race to go back to Congress this past year,
too. He called his Republican opponent in the primary a gun grabber.
Everybody`s a gun grabber.
President Obama did introduce yesterday a very broad package of
reforms to try to deal with gun violence in this country. Expanded access
to mental health treatment, improvements in the background checks system,
resources for schools to have more armed guards on site if they want them.
And yes, a renewal of the old assault weapons ban that we had for 10 years
before it expired in 2004.
Since President Obama introduced those measures, all of the discussion
in Washington has been about the viability of what he is proposing, right?
Renewing the assault weapons ban, that`s not viable, that`ll never pass.
That is the chorus from Washington. The NRA, of course, says that
nothing will pass. Old Steve Stockman says I don`t care if anything
passes, let`s impeach him anyway, gun grab, gun grab.
But because of what is going on in Washington right now, because that
is the discussion, we are also – we`re not just getting the sort of
predictable loudness from predictable Washington loud voices. We are also
getting something really useful. We`re also getting polling.
And when it is as dramatic as it is on the issue of guns, the polling
speaks pretty loudly itself.
Did you see the results from the CBS/”New York Times” poll on whether
people support the idea of having universal background checks?
This proposal, President Obamas making this proposal to have
background checks on guns but for everybody. No more loopholes. Everybody
has to go through a background check if you want to buy a gun. Most people
think that`s already true in our country, but it turns out something like
40 percent of gun sales are done in a way where the people don`t have to
have a background check at all.
Well, the proportion of Americans who support a universal background
check like President Obama wants is 92 percent – 92 percent of Americans
don`t support anything, 92 percent of Americans don`t like sunny days. But
92 percent of Americans support this.
It`s 93 percent of independents, 93 percent of Democrats, even 89
percent of Republicans.
If you just ask households with a gun, 93 percent support universal
How about if you live in a household where someone in the house is a
member of the National Rifle Association? Ah. Well, still, hmm, 85
percent. Wow, 85 percent of those people support universal background
checks, 85 percent.
And still, the NRA as an organization is against it.
In terms of assessing the political viability of this proposal, you
know what? When 92 percent of America wants something, it doesn`t really
matter who`s against it. I don`t care if the NRA is against it. If 92
percent of people want it, members of Congress can read polls. It`s
probably going to happen.
When something has that much support, the character of the opposition
sometimes doesn`t matter that much. But on some other things, when you`re
trying to figure out what can pass and what can change, what has to stay
the same, the character of the opposition really does matter. Sometimes
the character of who is against something and why they are against it can
actually make something more likely to change, more likely to pass.
Another one of the things that President Obama has proposed this week
is that we should have a director of ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives. The ATF is a government agency, but it does not
have a director. It has not had a confirmed full-time director for the
entire time President Obama has been president, and even before that.
Why don`t we have one? We do not have a director of that agency
because out of its federal agents are “jackbooted thugs” days, the NRA has
vigilantly kept that agency neutered and unable to fully do its job. The
conspiracy-driven corner of the gun world`s paranoia about federal agents
has for years driven the NRA to demonize that agency, to weaken that
agency, and to keep it from doing its job.
And members of Congress have gone along with them on that. It was
Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin who with the
renewal of the Patriot Act in 1996 snuck in the NRA`s language establishing
that the head of the ATF would henceforth be subject to Senate
confirmation, which it never had been before.
Since that happened, by design, we have never had anybody running the
ATF. We`ve never had a permanent head of the agency, because the NRA
doesn`t want anybody running the agency, because remember, jackbooted
thugs. Remember Waco!
That is why this federal law enforcement agency has fewer agents than
it had when I was born, which is very nearly 40 years ago now. That is why
its budget is minuscule, even though we`ve got 300 million guns in this
country, and this is the federal agency responsible for regulating them and
making sure that gun owners are following the rules.
That`s why this is subject – why the ATF is subject to random
restrictions like not being allowed to inspect a firearms dealer more than
once a year. It`s why nobody has run the agency since 2006.
The NRA is why there is not something running that agency. President
Obama says we should have somebody running that agency. And the character
of the political history for why we do not have somebody running that
agency should affect whether or not that can now be changed in Washington.
Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought
to be the most politically viable thing in the world to get changed. Chris
Hayes joins us next.
MADDOW: Ahead tonight, we`ve got a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW special report
that you will not see anywhere else. We have been working on this for a
long time, and it starts with some very, very surprising news out of the
heartland. That`s coming up. Hold on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since Congress hasn`t
confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six
years, they should confirm Todd Jones who will be – who has been acting
and I will be nominating for the post.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you want to know who a person is in a room who you do not
recognize by sight, wait until somebody at a podium mentions their name and
everybody else starts clapping. The guy not clapping is the guy whose name
that is. That`s how we all found out what Todd Jones looks like.
President Obama yesterday urging Congress to confirm a new director of
the ATF, something it has not done in six years, naming Todd Jones as the
man he would nominate to that position, and then the man who didn`t clap
when everybody else did, that was him. Now we know.
Joining us now is the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, “UP WITH
CHRIS HAYES.” Mr. Hayes, thank you for being here.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Oh, it`s great to be here.
MADDOW: Does this mark the end of a neutered ATF without a director
in power to run that bureau?
HAYES: Well, I think the confirmation fight`s going to be interesting
because I mean, the question is, first of all, the real hardcore super
right faction of the current Republican Party is operating chiefly out of
So the question I think right now, and this is a broader question
about how the House and Senate are going to relate to each other in the
113th Congress, is which way the Senate goes and whether Senate Republicans
want to take that stand, right?
HAYES: If they think it`s politically expedient to kind of wage a war
of obstruction on this, what is largely in some sense a symbolic issue?
The guys running the agency, right?
HAYES: It does make a difference, anyone you talk to in a federal
bureaucracy will tell you, it makes a difference having a Senate-confirmed
head of an agency as opposed to an acting in terms of the power they have,
the latitude they have, the awareness of the people within that agency of
what they can do and how they can transform it.
So it does matter, but it is from the perspective of a Senate
Republican a pretty symbolic battle. So, it`s going to be very interesting
to see how Senate Republicans are reading the current lay of the land
HAYES: – to see whether they really put up a fight.
MADDOW: And, of course, in terms of how symbolic it is versus what a
practical impact it will have, he has another job. He`s a U.S. attorney at
home I think in Minnesota, and he commutes in and out and tries to do both
jobs sort of as full-time, part-time thing. So, hopefully, we`d get him
Do you think that having some – having the ATF not be this sort of
neutered agency, if President Obama could sort of fully empower it, would
make a difference both in gun policy and in gun politics? Would it matter?
HAYES: I think it will matter. I think there are so many layers
right now to figuring our way through the thicket of our gun problem from a
HAYES: And I do – I don`t want to sound – I don`t want to be a
downer or cynical about all this, but there is a sense in which I think at
the macro level the gun problem America has is a very big problem and it`s
a deep problem. It`s kind of a deep cultural problem about how many guns
we have and how much we love guns and how present gun violence is in our
And then there`s a bunch of marginal, small reforms you could make at
the margins like, for instance, in the list that we all saw right before
the president made his announcement, appointing a director of the ATF, at
which point a lot of journalists, and I will admit, myself included, went,
huh, we don`t have a head of the ATF. You know, this is the big radical
thing we`re going to do.
So – and sometimes I think the obvious – I guess the point I would
say is the low-hanging fruit is low hanging and we should snatch it, right?
There should be a director of ATF and we should have comprehensive
background checks like you noted. But getting from here to there and there
being the U.S. having a gun violence rate that is similar to other
industrialized countries, there`s a lot more in between those 26 very
relatively small incremental things and here, which is where we want to end
MADDOW: But – and you start somewhere and you start I think by
proving that policy can be changed –
HAYES: Absolutely. A thousand percent.
MADDOW: – in Washington, even though the gun lobby wants you to
believe that that`s impossible. That`s why I think it`s important to
remember or at least to go back into the archives and figure out why there
is this weird anomaly that we don`t have a head of the ATF.
It is because of really radical anti-government, far right fringe
politics influencing the NRA to push for that for members of Congress.
And so, now, the question is – well, we`ve been talking for four
years now about how the Republican Party relates to the right-wing fringe,
that it has this sort of uneasy relationship with. How is that going to
manifest on guns? I don`t know what the relationship is between the Steve
Stockman of then and the Steve Stockman of today and his own party.
HAYES: And here`s where I think the politics of it right now are
fascinating. There`s a lot of malleability I think in the public opinion
on this issue right now in the wake of Newtown. And the NRA has played a
very strange card from that very weird LaPierre presser that seemed
intensely focused on ginning up the most rabid members of his base to this
ad they`ve cut with Sasha and Malia.
I don`t think the war on the ATF is a broadly resonant issue in
American public life –
MADDOW: But they`re trying to be broadly resonant.
HAYES: But they aren`t trying to be broadly resonant. And the
question, it gets back to the Senate Republican question, does the party,
dot legislators go along with that? Do they recognize – when they were
sitting around Capitol Hill, all of them, watching Wayne LaPierre up on
their TV screens, did they recognize how terrible that looked to everyone?
HAYES: Do they understand that? And do they think in the post-
gerrymandered 113th Congress, with those districts that are going to be
there for 10 years, do they think it matters? Do they think that the
voters in their district matter enough because they`ve kind of gotten
themselves some nice sinecures, to respond to that?
MADDOW: That`s right. And in the Senate there aren`t those districts
MADDOW: That`s where the confirmation is going to be fascinating.
You are totally right. I love you, man. That`s so great.
Chris Hayes is the host of “UP WITH CHRIS HAYES,” weekend mornings
here on MSNBC. Thank you. I loved you even before you were right.
Sometimes you`re wrong and I still love you.
HAYES: All the time.
MADDOW: Thank you for being right tonight.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We are keeping an eye on a story tonight that at this point
the bottom line is not at all clear but it is worrying. We have been
reporting since yesterday, of course, on this hostage situation at a
natural gas facility in Algeria.
At least three Americans among more than 40 international civilian
hostages held by an Islamist militant group. It`s a group that has links
to al Qaeda. They say the attack and the kidnapping was retaliation for
Algeria letting France use its airspace for the French attacks on Islamic
militants in the nation of Mali, which is right next door.
Well, today, the Algerian military on its own apparently refusing all
offers of foreign help, the Algerian military reportedly went in on their
own, firing on the hostage site from attack helicopters. In what they say
was an attempt to rescue the hostages.
The difficulty here is that we do not yet know the outcome of that
attack. We know that in fact some of the hostages were freed and were in
fact flown out of the region to Britain tonight. We are told that some of
the hostages were also killed.
Now, the number of casualties and who they are remains absolutely
unclear at this point. We can`t even get close to a credible number.
So it does appear that this al Qaeda-linked hostage situation in
Algeria has ended. But how badly it has ended we do not yet know. We will
keep you posted as we learn more.
MADDOW: OK. We`ve got a special report tonight. About two years
ago, in February 2011, we interviewed this doctor on the show. Her name is
Dr. Mila Means.
She grew up in Wichita, Kansas. She went to college at Wichita State.
She went to medical school at the University of Kansas.
She then became a family doctor in her home town, the friendly lady
with the bright red hair who gives vaccines to little kids and arthritis
medication to the older folks. And her family practice at an office park
Dr. Means is not a particularly remarkable doctor in the way we
usually think of remarkable doctors. She was not a standout in her field
in any way.
The reason we had her on this show, the reason we were talking to her
in 2011, is because she was planning on doing something quite amazing and
quite newsworthy and quite brave. What she planned to do was to
essentially take over the practice of this man, Dr. George Tiller.
Dr. Tiller was also from Kansas. He was born in Wichita. He was the
son of a family doctor. He went to medical school in Kansas. He joined
the Navy and became a flight surgeon.
George Tiller really wanted to become a dermatologist. But just as he
was starting his residency, his parents were killed. And he ended up,
unexpectedly, having to take over his father`s family practice back home in
his home town.
It turns out his father had been quietly offering abortions in Wichita
starting in the 1940s, and when he took over his father`s practice, the
younger Dr. Tiller realized that women still needed that service in
Wichita. By then it was the mid 1970s.
Because he made that choice to continue his father`s practice, Dr.
George Tiller became the target of the violent radical fringe of the anti-
abortion movement. His clinic was bombed in 1986. The next day, he moved
his practice to a secret location and he kept going. Five years later, in
the summer of 1991, protesters began blockading his clinic.
They chained themselves to the fence outside his clinic, blocking
access for patients and for staff. Then, in 1993, a woman who had been
part of those protests tried to kill Dr. Tiller. She walked up to him in
his car in the clinic parking lot and she shot him. She opened fire. She
ended up hitting him in both of his arms.
Dr. Tiller not only survived, he returned to work the next day.
Around that same time, it is believed that some extreme anti-abortion
activists had started circulating this wanted poster for Dr. Tiller, making
clear that he was a marked man.
And then in 2009 an anti-abortion activist walked into Dr. Tiller`s
Wichita church, his church, the only place where Dr. Tiller showed up at
the same time every week, a place they knew he could be found at that time,
and Scott Roeder shot George Tiller dead. And when they killed George
Tiller in that church in 2009, that ended abortion in Wichita. Actually,
in that whole part of Kansas. Dr. Tiller`s Clinic was closed into after
his murder. It has been vacant in Wichita ever since.
When we interviewed Dr. Mila Means in 2011, she was planning on
picking up where Dr. Tiller left off. She had begun the extra training she
needed to become an abortion provider so she could offer that service in
addition to her family practice. She was going to re-establish access to
abortion in Wichita despite the horrific litany of what had ended it there
That was her plan. But it did not happen. Dr. Means was open about
what she wanted to do. She soon found herself sued by her landlord for,
quote, “creating a clear nuisance” after protesters showed up at her family
Protesters also showed up at her house. They sent around a poster
describing her as an unspeakable, horrific murderer who earns blood money.
They gave out her office address and told their followers, “Don`t ignore
her. Do provoke her.”
Dr. Means received this letter, telling her, quote, “You will be
checking under your car every day because maybe today is the day someone
places an explosive under it.”
Ultimately, Dr. Means just hit too many obstacles, too much
opposition. She had to set aside her plan. Next Tuesday`s the 40th
anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that established that American
women have a constitutional right to access abortion services if they want
them. A state cannot make abortion illegal.
And on the 40th anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the national story of
its impact 40 years on is not mostly a story about litigation. It`s not
really a story about the Supreme Court anymore. It turns out that the
story is mostly now about how something in our country can be both legal
and essentially unprotected.
So that while on paper you have a certain right, the people who would
afford you access to that right are hounded and harassed and threatened and
attacked and killed to the point where your right exists really only on
paper and it ceases to exist in the actual world in your actual life when
you need it and when the Constitution is supposed to guarantee it for you.
But the other story which we are able to bring you tonight is how
actually some Americans are finding a way. It does not work every time,
and the resistance is almost unimaginable, and in some cases it is
unimaginably violent. After all, it was murdering the doctor that in 2009
ended access to abortion in the heart of Kansas.
But now, and this is our story tonight, that access is coming back.
That exact office is in fact reopening. It`s not Dr. Means. It`s
happening by other means, against the odds, against the opposition that
made it impossible for others but not impossible for everyone.
That access is being reopened in Kansas by a group of people who are
not naive, who know exactly what they are up against.
But it turns out that is part of why they are doing it. And they are
getting it done. And that is our story, next.
MADDOW: OK. Welcome back.
This is Julie Burkhart. She worked for Dr. George Tiller before he
was shot and killed in May 2009. And what you are looking at here is
footage of Dr. Tiller`s former clinic. This is Julie Burkhart showing us
around. It`s Rebekah Dryden, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW producer with Julie
Burkhart right there.
The clinic closed down after Dr. Tiller`s murder more than three years
ago. It has been shuttered ever since. But after Dr. Tiller`s murder,
after the shutdown, Julie Burkhart started a foundation, and she bought Dr.
Tiller`s former clinic. And right now, she is in the process of reopening
The plan is to open a full-service women`s health center with
everything from checkups and cancer screenings to abortion and everything
in between. To get it done, Julie Burkhart has assembled a group of
allies, some of them local and some of them experts in their field from all
around the country to help make this seemingly impossible thing happen.
This week, Dr. Tiller`s clinic was full of contractors working on
remodeling the building, and it was full of people who were working to
reopen the clinic by all the other means they know how to as well.
Ye olde, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW went on the road this week to see what is
going on at this clinic in Kansas. So you will see tonight and hear
tonight from several people involved in this project.
I want to mention one note, though. There is one person who you will
hear from tonight but you will not see. It`s the doctor who signed on to
provide abortions at the new clinic. She has asked us to protect her
identity for her own safety.
She`s not from Wichita. She will not be living in Wichita. She will
fly in from out of state twice a month to provide abortions at the new
We have obscured her face and disguised her voice at her request for
safety reasons. But you will hear from her tonight.
The people involved in trying to reopen this clinic, who you are about
to meet, what we found is that they know what they are doing. They are
fully aware of what they are up against. And most importantly, they know
what the stakes are.
Their plan to open this clinic back up will bring abortion access back
to the heart of Kansas, 3 1/2 years after Dr. Tiller`s murder ended that
access. And they are doing it at the very place where Dr. Tiller provided
that access for decades.
JILIE BURKHART, TRUST WOMEN FOUNDATION: At first when we were
discussing this, you know, with the board and supporters we weren`t
entirely sure that we wanted to come back into this facility. So there was
a long debate about that.
And we looked at a lot of other facilities. But we really came to the
realization that, you know, for a medical facility to provide the type of
health care that we want to provide this is perfect.
DURVERGNE GAINES, NATIONAL CLINIC ACCESS PROJECT: I think that, you
know, being back in the clinic, you know, you can feel the positive, good
spirit of Dr. Tiller. I think we can all kind of feel that, those of us
who were lucky enough to meet him and know him.
RUTH ARICK, ABORTION CLINIC CONSULTANT: It`s a wonderful thing to be
in this building. This is Dr. Tiller`s building. And when Trust Women
bought the building, it was just a joyful thing to be able to maintain this
And so, there`s optimism everywhere walking around here. It`s – this
is a group that`s absolutely committed. And they`re going to get it open,
and it`s going to be – it`s going to be wonderful.
BURKHART: I think it`s, you know, incredibly symbolic of what we`re
doing. And the, you know, women`s rights movement. I mean, from a
personal perspective, you know, someone who worked here, you know, this
clinic just really embodied love and compassion and justice and, you know,
good health care for women.
And so, that`s what I think about, is just what we`re going to be able
to bring back to the women of Wichita.
REBEKAH DRYDEN, TRMS PRODUCER: Do you see personal risks for yourself
involved in just being an abortion provider?
DOCTOR, AT NEW WICHITA CLINIC: I would like to say no. I have some
amount of concern for my safety. However, I feel that those concerns
cannot – that I can`t allow those concerns to affect the behavior that I
do and to affect my determination to provide mainstream health care
services to women who need them.
ARICK: I think the biggest challenge is trying to juggle all the
obstacles at one time. It`s the anti-abortion groups. It`s some of the
legislative work that is really trying to stop abortion in this state.
There are some people who want Kansas to be abortion-free. And
they`re in the legislature. So that`s a big deal.
GAINES: This has been a hotbed of activity, and we`re here to do
everything we can and make sure that the pro-choice community of Kansas and
Wichita has a peaceful transition as this clinic reopens.
DRYDEN: I have the flyer here from – that was distributed in your
neighborhood. And it calls you an abortion homicide promoter. And it
lists your home address, and it asks people to go to your home and talk to
Is this – is this scary to you? To have this distributed and to have
your home address and it has your picture?
BURKHART: Well, it`s something that I take very seriously. And, you
know, something that we, you know, communicate with – regularly – we
communicate regularly with law enforcement on this issue and any other
issue that might arise.
But it does give one pause because, you know, these are folks who now
know my home address. You know, they can attempt to monitor my actions.
And they can do that to any other employee here at the clinic.
So, it`s something that we take very seriously. But it will not deter
DOCTOR: I feel that if those tactics are successful in dissuading
physicians from providing a legal protected medical service to their
patients then it allows them to win that battle of depriving those women of
access to care that the women themselves have decided they need.
GAINES: I think the community has long awaited the reopening of this
clinic and is going to celebrate its reopening. I think that we have –
this is a very bright spot of hope, having this clinic reopen.
And it`s going to be a challenge. There`s no question. But it`s a
hopeful challenge, and it will be a comprehensive reproductive health care
facility that – you know, whether you`re here for a pap smear, whether
you`re here for an abortion, whether a woman is here for prenatal care or a
pregnancy test, they can come here and know they`re going to get excellent
care, unbiased care, and that`s what this city`s been waiting for again for
a long time.
MADDOW: We`re joined now on set by our own Rebekah Dryden, who is
just back off the plane from this reporting trip.
Welcome back, Rebekah.
MADDOW: Obviously talking to all these people involved in trying to
reopen this clinic, they are very confident they`re going to be able to do
it. From your assessment being there and knowing what you know about why
that clinic is not open right now, do you think it`s a done deal this
clinic`s going to be able to reopen?
DRYDEN: I would say it`s not quite to that level yet. I think,
again, absolutely they are – Julie Burkhart, everyone she`s working with,
they are incredibly confident they are opening and they are opening soon.
But they do still have obstacles. There`s one anti-abortion group
locally in town that is working on petitions to try to rezone the area
where the clinic is so that you would no longer be able to provide medical
care, so you couldn`t operate a medical facility in that area where the
clinic already exists. Obviously, this is an area where medical facilities
– this very medical facility has been.
MADDOW: For years.
DRYDEN: For many years.
MADDOW: Are there any other medical facilities in that area that
they`d be inadvertently shutting down too?
DRYDEN: Well, it`s an interesting question. There is a sort of
medical facility right next to Dr. Tiller`s old clinic, which it`s a crisis
pregnancy center. It`s one of the places they try to talk you out of –
MADDOW: An abortion lecture place, right.
DRYDEN: Exactly. But they do sonograms and they call themselves a
clinic. So – and that`s been there also for many years.
MADDOW: What about opposition from the state? We saw one of the
women who you talked to there mention that the state is part of the issue,
I mean, it doesn`t get much more conservative or much more anti-abortion
than Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and that very Republican legislature
there. Are they also facing opposition from the state?
DRYDEN: Absolutely. And they`ve since – since Dr. Tiller`s murder
in 2009, there have been dozens of new restrictions and a handful of bills
that have been passed through the legislature and signed into law by
They have a new ultrasound bill. They have a new 20-week ban. They
have a new track law regulations – targeted regulations at abortion
clinics, and that law specifically is – it`s not being enforced right now.
There`s an injunction while the old – the other clinics that exist in the
state are suing to try to get it thrown out altogether.
But not knowing what`s going to happen with that law in the end, Julie
Burkhart is planning for, if it gets enacted –
MADDOW: Oh, so they`re building and renovating this clinic, in
conjunction, or cognizant of what those new rules would be. Even if they
eventually get upheld.
DRYDEN: Absolutely. They will meet those regulations whether or not
they have to.
MADDOW: Rebekah, I know also in this trip, these women who you met in
Wichita, many of them work with Dr. Tiller in some way before he`s killed.
They obviously feel very connected to him and what he did.
But I know you also visited the abortion provider in each of the four
states where there was only one left. When you were talking with other
providers in other states, does the Tiller example, the murder of that
doctor, is that resonating in other states when there`s only one provider
DRYDEN: Yes, absolutely. And this was something I didn`t expect
honestly. We didn`t go and ask these other providers about Dr. Tiller. We
saw this as a completely separate story about what it`s like to be the only
provider in your state. We didn`t ask any questions about it. Most often,
they would bring it up after the camera was done rolling, where they`re
sort of chatting and packing up, but almost everyone we spoke to brought up
Dr. Tiller on their own completely and not cognizant of each other.
Some of them brought him up in sort of reverential way and talking
about what he meant for abortion rights movement, what he meant for
abortion providers. Most of often, he came up in terms of talking about
security and there`s a real sense of vulnerability among these abortion
providers that`s come from what happened to Dr. Tiller. It`s very much
present thing in their lives.
MADDOW: This is at the very edge of what is supposed to be protected,
but is absolutely threatened by illegal, violent threatening behavior.
This is an edge of – this is an edge of the Constitution in this country
that is a leading and a burning edge. And you`ve been out there reporting
on it this week and we will have part two of our special report tomorrow.
DRYDEN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Good to have you here. Rebekah Dryden, producer on this
show, who works really, really hard.
All right. On Tuesday night, at the end of a segment that I did about
Republicans trying to gain the electoral system, I did something out of
character and yelled at the camera, hey, Beltway, wake up! It`s a little
stupid. But it turns out, actually, the Beltway sort of woke up. Part of
it did. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: This is RedMap. RedMap is a Republican Party program from
the last few years. It`s something that the party is very proud of.
In this memo released few weeks ago, the party explains that their
RedMap program was the only reason that Republicans did not lose everything
in this past election. They`re calling RedMap their firewall. They say
that it is only because of RedMap is Republicans hold the House right now.
And Republicans hold the House even though they admit, they are
excited to admit, even though – Republicans hold the House even though
Americans voted for more Democrats in the House than Republicans.
This is from a Republican strategy document. This is not from liberal
blog or some feverish dream I had after the last time I wore my tinfoil
hat. This is the Republican Party talking about their own plans about
Look at this. Look, quote, “Democratic candidates for the U.S. House
won 1.1 million more votes than their Republican opponents. Aggregated
numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the
time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat
of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of
Congress to Democrats.”
But, of course, Republicans did not lose control of the House despite
the way America voted. Republicans kept a 33-seat majority in the House.
How did they do that when more people voted for Democrats?
Oh, it was RedMap and the Republican Party breaks down how it worked
to do that state by state. They say RedMap`s effect on the 2012 election
is plain when analyzing the results. Pennsylvanians cast 83,000 more votes
for Democratic House candidates than their Republican opponents, but
elected a 13-5 Republican majority to represent them in D.C.
Michiganders, they say, cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic
congressional candidates than Republicans. But still, elected a 9-5
Republican delegations to Congress.
In Ohio, they say Ohio allowed a 12-4 majority to return to U.S. House
of Representatives despite voters casting only 52 percent of their vote for
Republican congressional candidates. They brag about the same phenomenon
happening in Wisconsin as well.
We reported on this phenomenon and on the Republican Party bragging on
it on this show on Tuesday night. The Republican Party bragging that it is
all thanks to RedMap, only thanks to that aggressive, coordinated effort to
change the maps on these states so Republicans win congressional seats no
matter who the people in that state vote for that the Republicans got to
keep control of the House this year, even though Democrats got more votes.
Well, the next piece of this, what happens after RedMap is that the
Republicans in these states where RedMap worked are now quietly trying to
change the rules in these states so that these same maps that result in
Republicans winning the House, even when more people vote for Democrats,
the same House district, the same congressional maps should be used to
elect the president now as well.
Republicans in these states want votes to not be statewide anymore.
They want them allocated based on these maps – the RedMap maps.
We reported on Tuesday on RedMap and how it relates to this scheme for
changing the presidential election as well. And I finished up that
segment, I`m a little embarrassed to admit, by shouting essentially at the
camera, asking more people to look into this. I said, “Hey, Beltway, wake
up!” It`s kind of embarrassing.
But, honestly, this is not something – this is not the kind of change
that should just happen quietly in the states and look like a state thing
until we don`t notice and it`s all over. So, I ended that segment by
saying, “Hey, Beltway, wake up.”
And, embarrassing as that was, today, I`m happy to report, it is
starting to get some pick up. So far, it`s only in the lefty media and
it`s not at all in the networks or in the major papers. But the pick up is
Both Think Progress and Talking Points Memo have are picked up the
story today. And that`s right on time, thank you, because seven
Pennsylvania Republicans have introduced location to enact the RedMap
scheme for the presidential election in their state in time for 2016. The
state`s Republican governor and Republican majority leader in the Senate
have both said that they support that idea for Pennsylvania.
The Beltway is supposedly fixated on elections and election process,
right? Well, here`s an election process story that really could use some
In the meantime, if you want to look into it yourself, we have built a
toolkit of links on this story at our Web site, at Maddowblog.com.
Thanks for being with us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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