The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/22/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Happy weekend to you.
SCHULTZ: You too, my friend. Thanks.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour on a
When, listen, neither the House nor the Senate is in session. All the
governors of the country are locked in closed door governor association
meetings. The president is talking to the prime minister of Japan without
any of us getting to listen in.
This is the kind of day that shouldn`t have any news in it at all.
But Fridays apparently are the new Mondays, or at least the new day in
which there is always a lot going on in the news. So it turns out on a
Friday, again, we have a ton to get to in the news.
Including a story tonight that we have been covering for months that
now looks like it is about to blow wide open into a national story in
Michigan. It`s a story about the city of Detroit. That`s coming up.
Also, very important piece of the puzzle, in terms of fixing the
sequester thing that is due to happen in about a week. That fell into
And new documents released today THAT show that something we really,
really need to be very, very safe may in fact be very dangerous. New Coast
Guard documents revealed on that subject today.
And you`ve got Michael Moore here tonight for the interview.
That is all ahead. It`s a really big show.
But we need to start in Brussels, where today, the war in Afghanistan
started to end, or at least where the constituent countries of NATO started
the make their commitments today for how much they would commit to that
country as our war there starts to end.
The headline news out of Brussels today was a very terse statement
from the Pentagon spokesman. It was kind of strange. He was essentially
clarifying, hey, whatever you heard from the Germans earlier today, that
was not true.
This is the statement: “The reports that the U.S. told allies that we
are considering 8,000 to 12,000 U.S. troops after 2014 are not correct. A
range of 8,000 to 12,000 troops was discussed, but it was discussed as the
possible size of the overall NATO mission, not the U.S. contribution.”
Ah, important clarification. So the defense minister from Germany had
apparently told reporters that 8,000 to 12,000 troops was how many troops
America was going to keep in Afghanistan. Everybody thought that was very
big news since that`s not what we heard hear at home at all.
Maybe that is how the German guy understood it, but it is apparently
not the way that Leon Panetta meant it. That was the headline out of
Brussels today. Those troops, that`s NATO combined, that`s not just us.
That was the headline.
But the other news, of course, was that representing the United States
and apparently confusing the Germans in Brussels today was Leon Panetta,
the guy who with great fanfare supposedly just stopped being our secretary
of defense. I mean, here was Leon Panetta at his farewell ceremony, his
big ornate farewell ceremony.
This is dated fully two weeks ago. Leon Panetta has already said
goodbye. He was supposed to be home at his walnut farm in California by
now. In this meeting today in Brussels to plan the end of the Afghanistan
war, it was supposed to be the international debut of the guy who is
replacing Leon Panetta. It was supposed to be the international debut of
America`s new defense secretary, which is why the nomination for defense
secretary was probably one of the very first second-determine nominations
that President Obama announced.
Chuck Hagel ended up not being in Brussels today. He has not become
the new defense secretary yet because Republicans in the Senate have
filibustered his nomination. A cabinet nomination has never, ever in the
history of the United States been filibustered before.
But these Republicans in this Congress and our time decided that they
would do this unprecedented thing to Chuck Hagel.
One of the major items on next week`s news calendar is that the
Republicans are expected to finally relent and allow Chuck Hagel to be
But Jane Mayer published something at the “New Yorker” today that made
headlines everywhere today because she turned up the way Republicans have
been operating in Washington at the time they have been trying to stop him.
To be clear, even with the unprecedented filibuster, everybody knows
that Chuck Hagel is going to be confirmed as defense secretary. Democrats
have a majority in the Senate. Hagel has the support of every single
Democrat in the Senate and he has the support of some Republicans, too.
He has the votes. He has a very clear majority of the votes. He is
going to be confirmed. He cannot be filibustered forever, and the
Republicans are not going to filibuster forever. He is going to be the new
So the minority of Republicans who are blocking him, they have had to
go to some unusual lengths to justify what it is they are doing with this
filibuster thing even though he is going to be confirmed anyway. The
weirdness of it may now have actually some explanation. And the kind of
stuff they`re doing really has been something that needs an explanation.
I mean, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, take them. Their most recent
demand from Chuck Hagel, their most recent excuse for why they are
participating in blocking Chuck Hagel`s nomination is that somebody who had
seen Chuck Hagel give a speech six years ago had later written the blog
post about the speech in which he did not quote Chuck Hagel, but he
asserted that Chuck Hagel had said awful things in the speech.
No quotations of anything Chuck Hagel said. There are certainly no
transcripts or recordings of anything that he said. There is no direct
attribution of anything that Chuck Hagel said at all.
But Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Kelly Ayotte wrote to Chuck
Hagel anyway, demanding that he explain whether that blogger was right
about him, when that blogger said that he was awful, even though we
Chuck Hagel amazingly responded to that with words, but the nature of
the demand was unusual, right? Especially for two senators who like to
maintain themselves as very serious people on the issue of foreign policy.
Well, that whole incident followed up the blowup around the “Friends
of Hamas” thing. The “Friends of Hamas” thing I can do far less justice
that than Comedy Central can. Behold Stephen Colbert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDY CENTRA: According to conservative news anger
gator, Breitbart.com, Hagel may have taken money from an organization
called “Friends of Hamas”.
“Friends of Hamas” is even worse than it sounds because this
organization is so sinister that it doesn`t even exist. It turns out
Hagel`s link with “Friends of Hamas” goes back to “Daily News” reporter Dan
Friedman who asked a Republican Senate aide looking for dirt in Hagel`s
past if Hagel had given a speech to the junior league of Hezbollah or the
“Friends of Hamas”, assuming that no one could take seriously the idea that
organizations with those names existed.
Why wouldn`t you take it seriously? I mean, if there is no junior
league of Hezbollah, who puts out the cookbook of bomb recipes? Besides,
the fact that these organizations don`t exist only makes it more suspicious
that Chuck Hagel has been tied to them.
What else is he hiding that hasn`t happened? Is he a member of the al
Qaeda kids club? What about the Muslim Brotherhood or the Muslim
sisterhood of the traveling pants?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican senators have been demanding that Chuck Hagel
explain his association with the Muslim sisterhood of the traveling pants,
or “Friends of Hamas” or whatever, an association that they made up.
They`re demanding that he explain this thing that they made up.
They`re also demanding that he respond to things that bloggers said
about him that sounded awful.
But if you are noticing a trend here in the way Republican senators
are justifying taking this unprecedented action against a cabinet nominee,
doing something absolutely that has never been done before in American
history, if you are noticing a trend in how they are treating him, allow
Texas Senator Ted Cruz to crystallize your thinking on this matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We do not know, for example, if he received
compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme radical groups. It may be
that he spoke at radical or extreme groups or anti-Israel groups and
accepted financial compensation. We don`t know.
It is at minimum relevant to me if that $200,000 that he deposited in
his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North
Korea. I have no evidence to suggest that it is or isn`t –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But it might be Saudi Arabia. It might be North Korea,
right? I demand that you prove that this thing I just made up is not true.
That has a name, I mean, other than Ted Cruz. What Ted Cruz just did
there is a thing that has a name in American politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the Civil Liberties Union provide you with an
attorney at that time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have many offers of attorneys and one of them
was the American Civil Liberties Union, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the question is did the Civil Liberties Union
supply you with an attorney?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did supply an attorney.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer is yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer is yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know the Civil Liberties Union has been listed
for a front for doing work for the communist party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was footage for “Good Night and Good Luck”, the George
Clooney movie that came out in 2005. And the footage you can see playing
there, along with the actors, the footage playing in the background of what
is supposed to be the CBS newsroom there along with Edward R. Murrow
looking on, the footage of is Joe McCarthy, senator from Wisconsin from
1947 until his death in 1957.
And Joe McCarthy is famous for stuff like this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FORMER SEN. JOSEPH MCCARTHY (R), WISCONSIN: There are the millions of
loyal Americans who have voted the Democrat ticket, individuals who are
just as loyal, who hate communism just as much and love America just as
much as the average Republican. That`s one group.
On the other hand, there is that small closely-knit group of
administration Democrats who are now the complete prisoners and under the
complete domination of the bureaucratic communistic Frankenstein which they
themselves have created.
Ladies and gentlemen, they shouldn`t be called that administration
Democrat party. To call them Democrats is an insult to the millions of
loyal American Democrats. They shouldn`t be called Democrats. They should
be referred to properly as the commie-crat party.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The commie-crats.
That was Joe McCarthy speaking at a campaign rally in Jefferson City,
Missouri, in 1950.
The most famous tactic from McCarthy wasn`t just name-calling, it was
making oddly specific allegations for which he never produced evidence.
But he nevertheless demanded that people respond to these allegations
because his allegations were so specific that they seemed very true, right?
And anybody so accused must explain themselves against his secret – but
again, oddly specific damning evidence.
He famously told a crowd in Wheeling, West Virginia in February of
1950, quote, “I have here in my hand a list of 205, a list of names that
were made known to the secretary of state as being members of the communist
party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the
State Department – 205 names on his history.
So it must be true, right? It`s not just a round number he made up,
roughly 200 names. It`s 205 names.
That list must have come from somewhere. There must be some basis for
this allegation that he is making. It can`t just possibly be made up for
political effect, right?
There is a reason that Joe McCarthy`s name became something other than
just a proper name identifying him as a person there is a reason we use the
term McCarthyism to describe this as a political tactic. There is are
reason people have long been making movies about the danger of this kind of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is just one thing, babe. I`d be a lot
happier if we could just settle on the number of communist is know there
are in the Defense Department. I mean, the way you keep changing the
figures on me all the time, it makes me look like some kind of a nut, like
an idiot. The boys are even starting to kid me about it. Why just
yesterday in the cloakroom they said hey, Johnny –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you`re going to look like an even bigger
idiot if you don`t get in there and do exactly what you`re told.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Babe –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are they writing about all over this country
and what are they saying? Are they saying are there any communists in the
Defense Department? Of course not. They`re saying how many communists are
there in the Defense Department. So just stop talking like an expert all
of the sudden and get out there and say what you`re supposed to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, babe –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sorry, hon. Would it really make it easier
for you if we just settled on one number?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Just one real simple number. That would be
easy for me to remember.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the
communist party in the Department of Defense at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Heinz 57, easy to remember, right? Or maybe it was 205 in
the State Department. And Chuck Hagel that $200,000 you received from the
government of North Korea?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: It is at minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he
deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came
directly from North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: McCarthyism isn`t just a generic term for boorish behavior,
for boorish right-wing behavior even. McCarthyism is a particular thing.
It is making outlandish, scandalous allegations against people and
distracting from the fact that you have no evidence to back up the
allegations, but making the allegations really specific, which makes it
seem like they must be coming from some factual basis, when in fact you are
just making it up.
After making the allegation publicly in a big showboaty way, you
demand that the person who you have made this allegation clear his name.
Just look at the scandal surrounding you. You better disprove these
allegations, or at least try to.
In Ted Cruz`s home state of Texas a couple of years ago, the Texas
State Board of Education made an attempt to rewrite the state`s public
school textbooks to be more ideologically in keeping with how they think.
One of the pieces of history that the conservatives in the Texas Board
of Education tried to revise was the legacy of one Senator Joe McCarthy. A
board member named Don McElroy, who was leading the charge to have Texas
textbooks declare evolution to be hooey, he also cheerfully told the
“Washington Monthly” in 2010 that Joe McCarthy should be portray in order
positively in American history. He wrote a memo on the Texas textbook
project saying, quote, “Read the latest on McCarthy. He was basically
There is a whole swath of the American right that has decided that
McCarthyism should no longer be seen as a bad thing. And that may be why
the whole “Friends of Hamas” allegation and the answer what this blogger
said about you six years ago argument and the Ted Cruz how do we know you
didn`t get $200,000 from North Korea allegation might not seem that crazy
to the conservatives who are making those arguments, conservative members
of Congress who are used to speaking to conservative audiences.
And in conservative circles, McCarthy doesn`t necessarily seem like
such a bad guy. They don`t get that the rest of this country can see this
resemblance, or more to the point, they don`t see it as a bad thing.
Jane Mayer at the “New Yorker” today posted some reporting based on
her notes from an Americans for Prosperity event that took place two years
ago in Texas. At that event, a not-yet-senator Ted Cruz told the crowd
that President Obama was the most radical president to ever occupy the Oval
Quoting from Jane Mayer`s piece today, Ted Cruz, quote, “then went on
to assert that President Obama would attend Harvard Law School four years
ahead of him, would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.
The reason is because there were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty
when we were there, than there were communists. There was one Republican,
but there were 12 who would say they were Marxists, who believed in the
communists overthrowing the United States government.”
Twelve exactly. You sure it was exactly 12, sir? Twelve implies that
counted and it wasn`t 11 and it wasn`t 13, it was 12.
Spokesman for Harvard Law School gave this comment, “We are puzzled by
the senator`s assertions as we are unaware of any basis for them.”
Harvard Professor Charles Fried, who is a Republican, who served as
Ronald Reagan`s solicitor general, also told Jane Mayer today, quote, “I
have not taken a poll, but I would be surprised if there were any members
of the faculty who believed in the communists overthrowing the U.S.
Still, though, it sounds good, particularly when you use that really
specific number. I mean, those commies can deny it, but clearly, he`s got
the fact. He`s got a list of 12.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: I would be very interested to know, and I think the American
people would be very interested to know whether a nominee for secretary of
defense has received substantial funds directly or indirectly from foreign
nations. I don`t know if Mr. Hagel has received funds directly or
indirectly from foreign sources, from extreme sources.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don`t know, but I demand that he explain anyway.
Jane Mayer, the staff writer for the “New Yorker” magazine wrote today
that the same senator that you just saw there, Ted Cruz also a couple of
years ago identified 12 law professors at Harvard Law School, 12 exactly,
who were Marxists, who advocated a communist overthrow of the U.S.
Is this proper context for understanding what`s going on with Ted Cruz
and the Chuck Hagel nomination in the Senate, indeed for the entire
nomination of Chuck Hagel and the entire Senate?
Jane Mayer, thanks very much for joining us tonight. It`s nice to
have you here.
JANE MAYER, THE NEW YORKER: Glad to be with you.
MADDOW: What was the reaction in Texas that the event that you
attended that you reported on today when Ted Cruz made the allegation about
the communist law professors wanting to overthrow the government?
MAYER: Well, the thing you have to know about Ted Cruz is he is a
terrific speaker. And he is a really powerful orator. And he had the
audience up on their feet and cheering by the end of that speech. It ended
with a quote from – a letter from the Alamo where he was quoting saying
“victory or death”, and “We are going to win.”
And they were all up and cheering. So I think, you know, it was a
speech that was throwing red meat to his crowd, and they loved it,
MADDOW: Is this one of those moments where it is sort of right-wing
world and the rest of the world where it seems obviously McCarthyist and
therefore problematic, just doesn`t register that way in front of a more
conservative audience, or does it register as something that Joe McCarthy
might say, but that`s not seen as a bad thing?
MAYER: Well, I do think it`s an interesting question about whether
the things that he has been saying in Texas that go over really well there
are playing as well in the U.S. Senate. Because in a way, I think that
what is acceptable in Texas may be beyond the pale of what is acceptable
inside Congress, even though some people think the standards aren`t all
that high in Congress.
But he was chastised by some – in his own party for going after Hagel
with the sort of insinuation and innuendo about taking money from North
Korea without any facts to substantiate it.
And so, both Senator John McCain and Lindsey graham, Republicans who
are, you know, you would think would be – who were also raising questions
about Hagel, turned on him at some point and basically said that he had
gone beyond the pale.
So I think you`re right in wondering if there are some parts of this
country where what`s allowable is a different standard. I have to say I
think you got it so right when you described what characterizes this kind
of speech, though. When I was there, what so struck me was the
specificity, the weird specificity of 12 professors on the Harvard law
faculty who are communist and want to see the overthrow of the U.S.
government – it seemed so on the face of it improbable to me, knowing
Harvard Law School, which is basically turning out the men and women who
are the pillars of the United States legal establishment, including many
members of the United States Supreme Court.
And so – but it was that specificity that makes it sound like there
must be something in it here. And – but he never did name who they were.
So when I wanted to follow up on this after there had been sort of
allegations that, you know, some critics began to say doesn`t he sound a
little like Joe McCarthy, gosh, I remember when he actually was accusing
people of being communists and disloyal, trying to overturn the U.S.
government, because I heard him say that.
So I went back to my notes, and I sent a note to his spokeswoman and
said can you name me, can you tell me who these communists are on the
faculty at Harvard Law School? And I never heard back from them. But then
I did call Harvard Law School, and I spoke with one of his professors who
is a well-known Republican there, who worked in the Reagan administration,
and asked him if he thought there was any truth in it.
And he said, you know, kind of in sorrow that he felt that Ted Cruz,
who had been one of a very good student of his, was really inaccurate in
this, and that among other things, there was more than one Republican.
Charles Fried was not the only Republican. He thought there was at least
four others when he was on the faculty when Ted Cruz was in law school
there and he doubted that there were any members of the faculty who were
communists who wanted to see the communist overthrow of the United States
I mean, among other things, there is something called the Smith Act
that makes it illegal to belong to an organization that actively trying to
overthrow the U.S. government.
MADDOW: So it would be kind of a big deal at Harvard. We probably
would have heard about it before that speech in Texas.
MAYER: It would be a big deal, yeah, it would be. And so, anyway, I
thought that given the closer look that is being taken at Ted Cruz, it was
the right time to share what I remembered of him.
MADDOW: Well, that he would not answer your follow-up question, or at
least hasn`t answered yet about who the 12 are probably means that I won`t
be able to get an answer out of him on that subject either, but we will
also follow up to see if he really does have a list, because boy, that
really would be a story.
Jane Mayer, staff writer for the “New York” magazine – thanks so much
for joining us tonight. It`s always really great to have you here. Thank
MAYER: Thanks a lot.
All right. One man I would love to see grill Joseph McCarthy is
Michael Moore. The Academy Award-winning director is going to be joining
us for the interview in just a minute.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re going to play where`s Waldo on the show tonight. It`s
a special where`s Waldo propaganda edition. We`ve got Michael Moore here
for the interview. Lots ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: On November 26th, a Shell oil rig pulled into port in Seward,
Alaska. The rig had just finished doing some drilling in the Arctic when
Coast Guard officials boarded the rig for a routine inspection.
That routine inspection quickly turned into oh my goodness, there is a
problem. Shell, you are not allowed to leave this port until you fix all
of these violations that we just found.
What the Coast Guard found that day in Seward, Alaska, was apparently
so troubling on board that rig that they reportedly call in criminal
investigators to see if these aren`t just regulations being broken, these
were laws that were potentially being broken.
But, quote, “when criminal investigators arrived, they found that the
Noble Discover`s crew had been provided with lawyers, and that they were
declining to be interviewed.”
Before the Coast Guard even got on board that day, that drilling rig
had already had a really eventful year in a bad way. It came lose from its
anchor in the Aleutian Islands back in July. It nearly ran aground.
Four months after that, it had an explosion and a fire while it was
sitting in port. This thing has had kind of a bad year.
But now is the part where I tell you that that thing is the good news
oil rig for Shell this year. Last year, the government gave permanents to
Shell to start doing some preliminary drilling in the Arctic, and shell
sent these two rigs up there to do it.
And this one, with the crew that got lawyered up so they didn`t have
to talk to criminal investigators about the violations found on the ship,
that was one of them.
This was the other one. This one you can see here grounded off the
coast of Alaska last month. As we reported back then, it lost power, it
went adrift. It eventually crashed into an island.
The rig finally did get towed off of that island, and Shell is now
making preparations to drag it away, maybe to Asia for repairs.
But if it makes that journey, it will join its sister ship, this other
one, which is also on its way to Asia. This is the one where the crew had
to get lawyers to avoid talking to the coast guard about all the safety
violations. These are the two ships that Shell sent up there after they
got those coveted permits.
When the Coast Guard originally boarded that rig back in November,
they found 16 safety violations.
Well, today, thanks to Congressman Ed Markey`s office, we got the
details of those 16 violations. And it`s not a good list. Violation
number four, main engine piston cooling water is contaminated with sludge
and oil. Crew skims the oil off with a ladle and bucket during rounds.
Yes, that sort of ladle. Yes, that sort of bucket.
We called Cob Cavnar today who has been a guest a number of our times.
We wanted to get his take on the violation. He told us that actually the
most serious weren`t the ladle and bucket thing, but the ones related to
things like self-closing doors in the area where the crew sleeps that the
Coast Guard discovered did not actually self-close. It`s automatic systems
like that that become really important in case you have a fire on board.
The Deepwater Horizon rig, for instance, did not have a properly
functioning automatic shutdown system which allowed flammable gas to spread
throughout the rig which contributed to the disaster.
We reached out to Shell tonight to get the response to the list of
violations being made public. They were not immediately available for
But this is it in terms of being able to drill in the Arctic,
supposedly. Shell is supposed to be the gold standard in terms of this
type of work for that entire industry. But this is the fate of the two
rigs that Shell has tried to make drill in the Arctic. One of them gets
beached. One of them gets lawyers.
If the new secretary of the interior gets confirmed, one of the first
things that she is going to have to deal with once she is in office, it
will be the 60-day review of Arctic drilling that the Interior Department
started last months as a result of Shell`s litany of accidents up there.
It`s essentially a review of whether or not the oil industry knows how to
do this sort of things safely. That decision should be coming soon.
But before that happens, something else big is set to happen in this
industry. Next week is sort of a busy week in Washington. The House and
Senate are back in session. We`re going to have the nominations of Chuck
Hagel and John Brennan acted on, we think.
But it`s also going to be a big week for the aforementioned most
profitable industry on the planet. If you personally took a boat out into
federal waters off the U.S. coast and you dumped a barrel of oil into the
water, there is a specific dollar amount that that would cost you for
polluting the ocean like that. Clean Water Act says if you demonstrated
basic ordinary negligence when you dumped your barrel of oil into the
ocean, that barrel would cost you $1,100 is your pollution fine.
If your actions were worse, if they were more reckless than just
ordinary negligence, then the fine goes up. The Clean Water Act allows you
to be fined up to $4,300 for dumping that one barrel of oil in the ocean.
Well, in the case of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf two
and a half years ago, the biggest accidental offshore oil spill in history,
in that case, BP is looking at that kind of per barrel fine for each of the
roughly 4 million barrels of oil they spilled. If their actions were found
to be reckless, that means BP would be looking at having to pay close to an
$18 billion fine just to the federal government, just for the oil that they
spilled, just under the Clean Water Act.
And the people suing BP here are not just the federal government, but
state and local governments from five different states and more than
130,000 other private claimants.
What starts on Monday is slated to be one of the biggest trials ever
in terms of what is at stake financially and in terms of how many people
are involved. Things like this, cases like this that are this big almost
never go the trial. They always get settled out of court. But this one
appears to be heading to trial before a judge starting on Monday. Dang.
MADDOW: We have reported on this show about Michigan a lot,
specifically, about stuff that Republicans are doing in Michigan that
nobody else is even trying to get away with anywhere else in the country.
In what is one of the most radical things being done by Republicans in
any state government, Michigan Republicans have been abolishing democracy
at the local level, overriding local election results to get rid of your
locally elected officials, and instead having your town run by fiat without
voting by an emergency manager installed by the government. The emergency
manager can fire everyone you elected to represent you, can abolish
contracts, can sell off, or give away your town`s property. He or she can
even abolish your town on his or her own say-so without getting a vote.
Protest all you want, go ahead get mad, you are not living in a
democracy anymore, not at the local level.
There used to be a normal emergency manager law in Michigan, but
Michigan Republicans under Governor Rick Snyder fed it steroids and turned
it into something that no Republicans anywhere else in the country have
even tried to get away with.
The premise of the emergency manager law is that democracy is part of
the problem. In order to fix a city or a school district, you first have
to take away people`s ability to vote for what they want and who they want
representing them. The democracy thing is a problem, and it needs to be
got around in order to fix things. So say Republicans in Michigan.
Michigan voters, however, disagree. Michigan voters collected enough
signatures to force a referendum on Rick Snyder`s law. In November, they
repealed it by a big margin. Fifty-two days later, Rick Snyder just signed
a new one. Republicans in the state legislature passed it. Rick Snyder
signed it, and this time they did it in a way that can probably not be
repealed – because neener, neener, will of the people, schwill of the
people. This is what Michigan is like now.
There`s news this week out of Michigan`s largest city, Detroit. A
special review team from the governor, Rick Snyder, his administration
reported this week that they consider Detroit to be an emergency state.
And thanks to that emergency manager law that Rick Snyder signed after
people repealed the old one, this emergency declaration means the Governor
gets to decide now whether or not to overrule local democracy in Detroit.
He gets to decide whether he`ll install somebody to run the city without
all that interference from that pesky voting stuff.
One local Democratic activist in Michigan, Chris Savage, started
charting the effect of this emergency manager law in his state, started
looking at the places that had their democracy taken away from them at the
local level. Chris Savage started charting it at his Web site, at
Ecletablog where he noted that if you consider the African-American
population of Michigan and you consider the racial makeup of the towns
where Michigan state government has decided to take away local democracy,
all of these towns, the relatively small ones like Benton Harbor on Lake
Michigan or Allen Park, Ecorse, down river from Detroit, add in Pontiac
where they used to make Pontiacs, add in Flint which lost thousands of jobs
in the G.M. plant.
And now, finally, potentially add in Detroit itself, since they`re
considering taking over Detroit, you add all those places up and what you
get is a Michigan that is on the verge of eliminating local democracy for
almost half of the black people who live in that state. For almost half
the African-Americans who live in the realm of Rick Snyder.
Quoting Chris Savage, if Detroit gets an emergency manager, 49 percent
of the African-American in Michigan will live in cities where their elected
officials have been replaced by a single state-appointed ruler.
You can not say that Michigan Republicans meant to do this. You can`t
say they intended to render the votes of half the state`s African-Americans
meaningless, but with this decision pending in Detroit, that is what they
are now on the road to doing. People ask me why I am obsessed with
Michigan Republicans. This is why I am obsessed with Michigan Republicans.
MADDOW: OK. Happy Friday. Let`s play where`s Waldo. Except our
Waldo in this case is this guy, the one that we have circled.
This is a TV news report from the site of an explosion in Syria
yesterday. And the guy in the baseball hat is saying essentially, we the
Syrian people, we blame the foreign fighters. We support the government.
Now, this one is last July, same one without the hat, right? In an
amazing coincidence, twice now, a camera crew from state-run television ran
into the same guy, the same average Joe, who wanted to say on camera that
he supports the government and the people support the government and they
all hate the horrible, horrible rebels.
And look, a second report from the same day, same dude, same outfit,
still just a man on the street who has nice things to say about the
Here he is again. He is a man in the crowd except the man on the
street that the Syrian TV just happened to find.
Just happened to find him again, here he is, our Waldo, just I
unavoidable for comment apparently, yes, there he is again, you see? The
numbers you see there at the top, people from Syria started to notice the
man turning up in all the reports, as the go-to man on the street who will
praise the government, or look on approvingly when others praise the
government and they started circulating essentially greatest hits videos to
inoculate people against him being maintained as a man on the street in
this kind of propaganda.
That man on the street`s name is not really Waldo, but he`s not really
the man on the street, either. The supposed media that used that guy as
the man on the street are actually showing propaganda arranged by the
government. That`s happening right now in the war in Syria.
The lead blog at “The New York Times” today pulled together that
footage, which the Syrian activists have been crowing about on Twitter and
social media for a while now. But that phenomenon of the government
cooking something up to look like news that isn`t really news, that is not
specific to wartime, and it`s not specific to that country, a lot of that
countries do that.
In 2005, then President George W. Bush said it was wrong, he didn`t
know about it when his administration was found to be paying tens of
thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to columnists to write
nice things about George W. Bush`s policies, when they were being paid to
Look, it`s just man on the street who loves the government. Look,
it`s a syndicated columnist who loves No Child Left Behind or the healthy
marriage initiative, or whatever they were being paid to shill for.
Where it got really creepy was around the Bush administration`s wars.
The State Department under George W. Bush producing video segments design
for local news reports of Iraqi Americans saying, thank you, Bush, thank
State Department produced, quote, “news segments” about coalition
liberators making everything awesome in southern Iraq.
This report on how great everything was going for women in
Afghanistan, thanks to the leadership of George W. Bush, this ran as news
as if their own reporters reported it, on the one year anniversary of 9/11,
on the FOX affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee, even though it was made by the
It was about two and a half years after that, after President Bush had
already been reelected in fact that the media at large started to figure
out and report the fact that the Bush administration had been doing this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: If the White House is struggling with a
public relations in the Middle East, here at home, some are perfecting the
craft of public relations disguised as news, and it`s getting a lot of air
time. Here with that, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Available on the web, to TV
stations across the country, upbeat reports on Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A letter made the transportation of drinking
water awkward and difficult. That changed with the liberation of Iraq.
MITCHELL: With positive interviews.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraqis are buying political and religious books,
once banned under the regime of Saddam Hussein.
MITCHELL: And there is this report, shot in Michigan`s Arab-American
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They seemed to revel in the collapse of Saddam`s
regime, as much as they did in Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Ten years ago, being against what the Bush administration was
doing was being against more than the Bush administration, particularly the
Iraq war, which they sold to us with a full court press 10 years ago today.
Being against the whole Democratic Party, a whole chunk of the Democratic
Party, the bulk of the so-called adults in Washington, almost the whole
foreign policy establishment and most of the media – not all of which was
running propaganda, State Department-produced, fake news reports as if they
were real news. But some of the media was, but enough of the country was
taken in by what the Bush administration was selling that being openly
against them, openly against the war 10 years ago today, that was a very
hard place to be.
And 10 years ago, at this time on Oscar`s weekend, the Oscar ceremony
in 2003 took place four days after we invaded Iraq. The Iraq war was four
days old on Oscar night, and the Academy Award that year for best
documentary was given to “Bowling for Columbine,” Michael Moore`s
documentary about violence. And Michael Moore went to the stage and he
asked all the other filmmakers from all the other documentaries that were
nominated to go – that were nominated, up and stand there with him on the
And Michael Moore, with the Iraq war four days old said to the academy
awards audience and to the national audience with millions watching, to a
chorus of booing, Michael Moore stood up there and said at the Oscars, “I
have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, they are
on stage because we like nonfiction. We live nonfiction and we live in
fictitious times. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war
for fictitious reasons. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you,
Mr. Bush. Shame on you. And any time you have the pope against you, and
the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.”
The crowd was booing, but maybe some people were cheering, but they
were booing really darn loudly. And at the Academy Awards, they brought up
the music loudly to try to drown him out. He finished up loud as heck. It
was a really big deal at a time when that was really, really hard to do.
And that was 10 years ago at the Academy Awards.
Joining us now for the interview is Oscar-winning filmmaker, Michael
Mr. Moore, thank you very much for being here. It`s great to have you
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER, DOCUMENTARIAN (via telephone): Rachel,
thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: Take us back 10 years. You`re standing on that stage at the
Oscars, you`re denouncing the war in Iraq. The boos are raining down on
you. They`re playing you off the stage.
When you look back at that, how did you see it now?
MOORE: Well, it was a little scary at the moment, waiting in the
wings for me were security. They`re having to form a ring around me
because there were some really angry stage hands that wanted to beat me up.
They sort of wisp me away and got me out of there.
And within the next few hours, the death threats began and continued
for the next couple of years. So at the beginning it wasn`t – you know,
it was not very good. But you know, now, these days, I mean people
remember the speech and you know, they thank me for it and they remember
watching it, and all of that.
But you know, I mean, I just o– it was the fourth day of the war. I
didn`t know whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not. I just
took a wild guess, sort of just my basic instinct that these people are
essentially liars. And I`m not going to believe them.
MADDOW: Was it a hard decision for you to make to do it? Did you
know you would get that kind of hostile reaction that you got in the
MOORE: No, I didn`t – because especially – when I`m looking at the
main floor, all the nominees. The actors, Martin Scorsese and Meryl
Streep, they`re all applauding. I don`t see. Nobody is booing me.
But the boos are all coming from the balconies, where the sponsors and
advertisers and executives were all sitting. So, it got pretty loud, they
were afraid a riot would break out, or whatever.
But, you know, look, what you said in your set-up is true. All of us
will at some point probably come to a place in our lives where we`re faced
with a moment where are you going to follow your conscience or not? And I
knew it was not going to be popular. I knew what the polls said that day,
that 70 percent of the American public was against the war. You had “The
New York Times” pushing the war. You had the editor of “New Yorker”
endorsing the war. The 29 Democrats in the Senate. Even Al Franken, my
good friend, all supported the war.
So I really was out on a limb, those that were there with me knew what
it felt like. It was not good. And I think – what I`ve been thinking
this week about this is that the lesson from this, when the attempt to do
this again, whether it`s with Iran or whatever, just anybody who is
listening to this. Just, you know, don`t be afraid. If you think you`re
right, and you are following your conscience and you know you`re right,
stand up and say it. And yes, you`re going to be alone for a while, but
eventually truth will come out. It will come out.
And you`ll be remembered for being on the right side. It is just that
hard place at the beginning. And so, if they attempt to do that with Iran,
that`s my position from now on always is, that whatever they`re telling me
I`m just going to assume it`s not true. And they have to prove it to me,
as opposed to the other way around, where the press was oh, yes, whatever
they say is true. Well, maybe some of us will find out some of it is not
Well, we have lost too many lives as a result of how the media handled
MADDOW: That`s called healthy skepticism and that the thing – the
size of the things they are trying to sell is directly in response to the
size of the skepticism that should be considered healthy.
MADDOW: Michael Moore, thank you for what you did 10 years ago, I
know it was had and I know you took a real hit for a long time for doing
it. And congratulations on everything since then. Thanks for being here
MOORE: Thank you, Rachel, and thank you for your documentary this
week. God bless you.
MADDOW: God bless you back, man. Thank you.
All right. That does it for us tonight. Thank you for being with us
on a Friday night. Now it is time for “THE LAST WORD.”
Have a great weekend.
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