The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/14/13
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Stay here at 8:00 Monday through
Friday because Chris Hayes is going to do a fantastic job. He`s a great,
brilliant young talent who will have a lot of years at 8:00. Thank you so
much for watching.
That is “THE ED SHOW”. I`m Ed Schultz.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening my friend, ed. I am going to miss
this moment with you every night at 9:00 p.m., but I am so looking forward
to watching you become the weekend anchor and just taking over that part of
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MADDOW: And I look forward to being your teammate and your co-
conspirator for as long as you`ll have me.
SCHULTZ: I appreciate your support, Rachel. You`re a great friend.
I want to know if I can fly Ed force one to no man`s land. I`ve got
to call “Politico” and see if we can get that deal done. And you have to
admit, that fish was a dandy, wasn`t it?
MADDOW: I don`t totally believe the fish, but on this day, I`ll give
it to you.
SCHULTZ: That is a true story. That is the truth.
MADDOW: I`m old enough for that.
SCHULTZ: Rachel, we`ll see you down the road. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: Yes, absolutely, man. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks to you at home, as well for staying with
us this hour. We`ve got a big show for you today.
We`ve got Sister Simone Campbell here who I`m really, really looking
forward to talking to.
We have as our guest also this hour, the man who you would most like
to ask about this footage that you see on your screen right now, because
this might just look like a traffic jam, but it is actually a political
traffic jam. It is a traffic jam on purpose and for a very specific
reason. And the man who can explain it is here tonight in just a few
But we are starting tonight in Connecticut. And I almost never have
to do something like this at the start of a story, but I feel I need to in
this case. So, in all seriousness, we on this show have been in touch with
a bunch of families, a bunch of people who were directly affected by the
killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. People
who had family members killed or friends killed there. And if you are one
of those folks, you might not want to watch this story at the top of the
show. I`m sorry to have to say it but I feel it`s the only responsible
thing to do. So, now you know.
All right. Today, the “Hartford Courant” newspaper published new
details of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, new details that we did
not know before.
Today marks three months since the massacre of first graders and
school staff at that school. The headline in the “Courant” today focuses
on reports from sources close to the investigation who say that the killer
from Sandy Hook researched other mass murderers, including the right wing
nationalist attack in Norway a couple of years ago. That attack saw eight
people killed by explosives and 69 people shot to death, most of them
But we also now have the most specific information we have ever had
about how the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre happened. The way he
got into the school, which was locked, for example, was bullets. There
were glass windows at the front entrance of the school and the killer shot
through the glass window, shot the windows multiple times, thus making a
hole in the glass big enough for him to get through.
The school principal, Dawn Hochsprung, and the school psychologist ran
into the front hallway of the school when they heard that noise from the
gunfire and the breaking glass, the gunman then shot both of them dead
There were only two people who were shot that day in that school who
were not killed. Only two people injured and not killed. Both of them
were hit at that point in the attack. That initial point. One teacher who
was in a meeting room with the principal and the psychologist was hit by a
ricochet bullet from that initial onslaught of gunfire. She was wounded in
the leg, but she crawled back into the meeting room and she called 911.
Further down that same front hallway, another teacher heard the noise
and came out into the hallway to close her classroom door. She too at that
time was hit by either a ricochet or an errant bullet from the initial
blast of gunfire. She was shot in the foot and she survived.
Now, all of the shootings so far in the incident was done with the
same gun, with the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, for which the gun, we`re
told, had multiple, extended 30-round magazines. After shooting his way in
and killing the principal and the school psychologist after wounding the
two teachers, he then went to the classrooms.
The first classroom he came to was Kaitlin Roig`s classroom. The door
to that classroom was closed when he got to it apparently because Kaitlin
Roig had heard the noise and closed her door. “The Courant” reports that
her classroom window was also covered up so the gunman could not see in.
Quoting from “The Courant,” “Sources say that Sandy Hook Elementary
had only weeks earlier had a lock down drill and that Kaitlin Roig had not
taken down the piece of black construction paper that teachers are
instructed to place over the small window in the classroom doors so that no
one can look in.”
And so the gunman went past that classroom. He kept going down the
same hallway, and he went into the classroom where Lauren Russeau was the
teacher. In that classroom, he killed Lauren Russeau, the teacher, and he
killed all but one of the students. The students, the first graders were
all found together in the same corner of the room apparently trying to get
into the confined space of the bathroom in the back of the room like they
had been trained.
The one student who survived in that classroom survived apparently by
playing dead. She played dead and then once the gunman had left and moved
on, she ran from the room.
When the gunman moved on where he moved on to was the classroom where
Vicki Soto was the teacher. Quote, “Authorities believe the gunman started
walking toward the back of Vicki Soto`s classroom where the bathroom was.
When he noticed some of the children hiding under the desks, the gunman
then shot those students.”
“The Courant” says today, “At some point, he stopped shooting either
because the Bushmaster assault rifle jammed or he made an error in
reloading it. And that gave six children the opportunity to escape.”
Teacher Vicki Soto had placed another group of five children in a
closet where they too were found alive by authorities.
Police had previously thought that some bullet holes that were in
three cars in the parking lot outside the school showed that the gunman had
been shooting at police as they were responding to the scene. We learned
today that authorities now think those bullets were the gunman shooting not
at police as they were arriving but at another teacher who was standing
near a window. So apparently he missed the teacher, the bullets went
through the window and went on to hit the cars in the parking lot.
We also learned one absolutely stunning detail today that we did not
know before today. And it`s this. Overall, this entire incident from the
first shots fired to break that glass so he could get inside, from the
first shots fired to the last shot fired – so the first shot fired with
that assault rifle to the window, to all the subsequent shots with the
assault rifle to the end, to the time when he finally stopped shooting with
the assault rifle for whatever reason and he switched to the pistol with
which he killed only himself, overall the entire incident took less than
five minutes. And in less than five minutes he fired 152 bullets.
He`s said to have used 30-round magazines, which means he may have had
to reload four times to shoot those 152 bullets in less than five minutes.
I mean, if you think about it, it`s one bullet in the chamber of the
rifle, 30 bullets in the first magazine, that`s 31. Then you load 30 more,
61, then you load 30 more, that`s 91. Then you load 30 more, that`s 121,
and then you load 30 more, that`s 151 bullets.
And then he is done with the rifle and then it is just one more bullet
from the pistol, which he fires into himself and then it is done, 152
bullets. Four magazine changes.
Had he only had access to 10-round magazines instead of 30-round
magazines he would`ve had to reload 14 times. He would`ve needed 14 spare
magazines beyond the one in the gun with the extra round in the chamber,
reloading 14 times. You think he would`ve still pulled off the whole thing
in less than five minutes?
Before anybody had time to think before anybody had time to react,
before the cops got there, do you think there`s any chance he might have
had a jam or might have screwed something up in the reloading or might have
dropped something or screwed it up a little bit earlier before bullet 151
left the gun with not even five minutes elapsed?
Today in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee passed on a party line
vote, a new federal restriction on the sale of assault weapons. It`s been
proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, no Republicans voted for
it. The bill includes a return to what used to be the law until 2004, the
restriction on the sale of magazines that hold more than ten bullets at a
time. So, that bill will now go to the full Senate. And so far, no
Republicans have said they will support it.
In debating it today, though, something kind of amazing happened in
the Senate and we have the tape of it. And so, I want to show you the
tape, but I want you to know that what`s going to happen here at the
beginning is that you will see the Republican senator from Texas Ted Cruz,
freshman senator, giving a little lecture about what he thinks is important
in this discussion – giving this little lecture specifically to Senator
But bear with me. Sit through the lecture for a second because what
you`re watching for here, what you want to see is the reaction to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If I might pose a question to the senior
senator from California. It seems to me that all of us should begin as our
foundational document with the Constitution. And the Second Amendment in
the Bill of Rights provides that the right of the people to keep and bear
arms shall not be infringed.
The term “the right of the people” when the Framers included it in the
Bill of Rights they used it as a term of art. That same phrase of “the
right of the people” is found in the First Amendment, the right of people
to peaceably assemble and to petition their government for redress of
grievances. It`s also found in the Fourth Amendment, the right of the
people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
And the question that I would pose to the senior senator from
California is, would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for
Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing
with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment.
Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that
the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not
apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the
Bill of Rights, likewise would she think that the Fourth Amendment`s
protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the
following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress
has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, you offered a question?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Let me just make a couple of
points in response.
One, I`m not a sixth grader. Senator, I`ve been on this committee for
20 years. I was a mayor for nine years.
I walked in, I saw people shot. I`ve looked at bodies that have been
shot with these weapons. I`ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy
Hook, youngsters were dismembered.
Look, there are other weapons. I`ve been up – I`m not a lawyer. But
after 20 years, I`ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I
have great respect for it.
And so I – you know, it`s fine you want to lecture me on the
Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I`ve been here for a long time,
I`ve passed on a number of bills, I`ve studied the Constitution myself, I
am reasonably well-educated, and I thank you for the lecture.
Incidentally, this does not prohibit – you use the word prohibit. It
exempts 2,271 weapons. Isn`t that enough for the people in the United
States? Do you need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons
that military people use to kill in close combat? I don`t think so.
So I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views.
I ask you to respect my views.
CRUZ: Mr. Chairman –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Durbin –
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Mr. Chairman, I can`t add anything to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz?
CRUZ: Mr. Chairman, I – would ask another question of the senior
senator of California. I think nobody doubts her sincerity or her passion.
And yet at the same time, I would note that she chose not to answer the
question that I asked, which is – in her judgment, would it be consistent
with the Constitution for Congress to specify which books are permitted and
which books are not. And to use the specific –
FINEMAN: The answer is obvious, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Let the record show that you can be a United States senator
for 21 years, you can be 79 years old, you can be the chair of the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence and one of the most recognizable and
widely respected veteran public servants in your nation. But if you are
female while all of other those things, men who you defeat in arguments
will still respond to you by calling you hysterical and telling you to calm
down. They`ll patronize you and say they admire your passion, sweetie, but
they deal in facts not your silly girly feelings. It`s inescapable, you
can set your watch by it.
Senator Feinstein, to her credit went on to explain with facts and
everything, that the First Amendment does not stop us from regulating some
forms of speech. Like, for example, child pornography.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse then went on to say it`s hard to imagine
that it would be a violation of the First Amendment for somebody to yell
fire in the crowded theater but it would not be a violation of the Second
Amendment to prevent someone from bringing 100-round magazine into a
crowded theater in, say, Aurora, Colorado.
In other words, Senator Ted Cruz`s argument is not the best argument
But the message, the political message here is nevertheless clear.
Dianne Feinstein was the president of the board of supervisors in the
city of San Francisco ion 1978, when she was suddenly through an act of
violence forced to take over as that city`s mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: This is the body of supervisor Harvey Milk as it was taken
from city hall. Witnesses say after killing the mayor, White ran down the
hall firing three shots at Milk, killing him. In the total confusion after
the shooting, the president of the board of supervisors, Dianne Feinstein,
FEINSTEIN: Both Mayor Masconi and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been
shot and killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus Christ!
FEINSTEIN: The suspect, the supervisor Dan White.
REPORTER: A few moments later, Dan White surrendered to the police.
This is a stunned city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was a stunned city. After the San Francisco mayor and
Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot dead in 1978. That is how Dianne
Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco in 1978. And that`s what she was
talking about today. To Ted Cruz when she talked about seeing the bodies,
an incident in which she had to put her fingers into the bullet holes to
try to find a pulse that she did not find.
San Francisco was a stunned city again in 1993 when a gunman walked
into an office at 101 California Street holding a pair of semiautomatic
weapons. He had modified them so they could fire even faster your typical
With those weapons, he killed eight people and wounded six others
before he killed himself. It was in reaction to that massacre at 101
California that then Senator Dianne Feinstein led the national fight for an
assault weapons ban in 1994. And at the time, nobody said it would pass.
But it did pass and it was in effect for 10 years, while the Constitution
survived and everything.
President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress let
that law expire 10 years later in 2004. And because they let it expire,
that is why the mother of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter was able
to buy legally and easily the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle that the Sandy
Hook gunman used to fire all but one of 152 bullets that he fired in the
space of less than five minutes that morning three months ago today in
Connecticut. The gun that he used that day would`ve been illegal for his
mother to buy.
Had the Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush
not let Dianne Feinstein`s law expire in 2004, the mother of the young man
who killed those 20 first grade kids, his mother from whom he took all his
weapons would not have been able to legally and easily buy those big 30-
round extended magazines that we are told he used that day. Not the gun,
nor the extended magazines.
She would`ve only been able to legally and easily buy 10-round
magazines, not 30-round magazines.
So, when he took those weapons from her that morning, he would`ve
needed 15 separate 10-round magazines in order to reload 14 different times
to try to do what he actually did so easily and so quickly thanks to the
expiration of Dianne Feinstein`s law in 2004.
It is three months after Sandy Hook as of today. The bill to
reinstate what used to be law which we now know might have made a large
difference at Sandy Hook, that bill to reinstate what used to be law heads
to the full Senate now.
Everybody says the politics of this are impossible. Why should they
MADDOW: Other than Bill and Hillary Clinton, this might be the most
successful and politically ambitious husband and wife team in western
politics in the 21st century. This is the late Nestor Kirchner and his
wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The gentleman there, Nestor Kirchner, he passed away a couple of years
ago. But between 2003 and 2007, he was the democratically elected
president of Argentina. His wife, Cristina, was his democratically elected
successor. She was elected in 2007.
While she was president, before he died, he went and served as a
member of Congress in his country. Then in 2007, the year before she was
up for reelection as president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner picked a
political fight. She picked a political fight over gay marriage.
Her government sponsored a same sex marriage rights bill that gave gay
people in Argentina an equal right with straight people to marry, to adopt
children, to inherit money just like first class citizenship. It was a
proposed expansion of human rights in a country that a generation prior had
famously, famously violated human rights on a grand scale.
Under a military dictatorship, an estimated 30,000 people were killed
or sometimes just disappeared. There are still people in Argentina who do
not know what happened to friends and family in the 1970s. There are still
people who are technically considered to be missing.
And so, against the backdrop of that relatively recent massive human
rights violation history, the very first woman to be re-elected president
of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, she staked her personal
reputation and her professional future on human rights issue, specifically
on legalizing gay marriage in Latin America, in a very heavily Catholic
Of course, one of the major influential powerful institutions in
Argentina is therefore the Catholic Church. In response to this move of
the government, church leaders organized big anti-gay marriage protests
around the country in the months and weeks and days before the country`s
Senate was due to vote on the bill. They spoke out forcefully against gay
rights, against gay marriage and against Christina Kirchner in particular.
But far and away, the most out front vocal opponent of gay marriage
within the church`s effort on this issue, the one who took on as his cause
celebre, the person who entered into the political fray with the most
gusto, determined to keep gay people from getting married in Argentina was
the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. We all know him
now as Pope Francis.
At the time of this political fight, he said of the gay marriage bill
in his country, quote, “Let us not be naive, we are not talking about a
simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of
God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the
Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive.”
Cardinal Bergoglio called on God to get Argentina`s senators to vote
against gay marriage.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner`s response was rather furious. She
said his argument and the argument of other church leaders was like
something from, quote, “the times of the Crusades.” She said they are
portraying this as a religious moral issue and as a threat to the natural
order, when what we are really doing is looking at a reality that is
already there. It would be a terrible distortion of democracy if they
denied minorities their rights.”
And the cardinal ended up losing that fight. President Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner won that fight. And Argentinians got same-sex
And the following year, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner got
reelected. Since that fight over gay marriage, the relationship between
the president of Argentina and the cardinal have been described not just as
a bad relationship, but an awful relationship and you can see why. And
now, he`s pope.
When an opportunity for a political fight on this issue presented
itself, Cardinal Bergoglio inserted himself into that fight trying to make
the biggest impact possible. He got brushed back by the president who both
won the fight and won it so decisively that it led to criticism in his
country of the church being both divisively, overtly political and
incapable of influencing public opinion and policy – worst of all worlds.
The cardinal stuck his neck out on this one. He gave quotes to the
press. He advocated publicly against this expansion of human rights. He
was vituperative in his condemnation of gay people and he ended up losing.
And now, he`s the pope.
Do we know what that means for how he and the billions strong church
he leads will be involved in social issues and political fights going
Joining us now is Sister Simone Campbell. She`s the executive
director of the national Catholic social justice lobby called Network. If
she seems familiar, you may remember her from the Nuns on the Bus tour last
year organized to oppose Congressman Paul Ryan`s budget proposal.
Sister Simone, it`s really nice to have you here tonight. Thank you
so much for being here.
SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, SISTERS OF SOCIAL SERVICE MEMBER: It`s an
honor to be with you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
As somebody who has been an activist on behalf of the church`s
teachings, what do you foresee from the church and its political
involvement and its leadership on these kinds of issues with this new pope?
CAMPBELL: Well, I think he`s been very strong in a very positive way
about economic justice, about caring for those in the margins of society
about engaging economic justice issues, the disproportionate wealth in rich
countries and by the wealthy and the abandonment of people at the margins.
I think he would speak out against Paul Ryan`s new budget as our bishops
spoke out against the old budget.
I do think on the issues more sexually-oriented, that he probably
won`t change the church`s traditional teaching on this.
But what I do have some hope for is that he appears to get touched by
experiences of real people with real needs and real issues.
So I`m hoping as he becomes pope for the global church that he will be
touched by other people and see their struggles, see their efforts. And
let his heart be broken by that.
MADDOW: As somebody who has been so involved in this personally as
you are means of serving your church and your way of expressing your faith,
do you feel like you have learned that there are better ways and worse ways
for the church to be involved as a political actor, to be part of policy
conversations and political debates?
CAMPBELL: Oh, absolutely.
I think when we get too identified with an ideal that is politically
held that we can hold on to the ideal with losing sight of the gospel. But
when you have to stay rooted in the gospel and Jesus` call to welcome in
everyone, welcome in those at the margins, even when it doesn`t fit my own
And that`s the challenge. We have to break out of our rigid political
loyalty to be able to be loyal to the Gospel. It`s very hard. It`s
MADDOW: And the hierarchal nature of the church, it lends itself to
political analysis like other hierarchal institutions. But, of course, the
hierarchy of men and women within the church is all subservient to the
hierarchy – the spiritual hierarchy. And in that context, I mean, you and
so many other women of the church who have spoken out on social justice
issues, particularly on issues of inequality and poverty, and that`s been
the organizing principle around your work about the Ryan budget and
MADDOW: You`ve ended up having quite a bit of conflict with the male
church hierarchy over some of your stands in the way you have articulated
Do you now foresee that getting better? Or do you know yet? Could it
CAMPBELL: I guess it could get worse. But the thing that I`ve seen,
Rachel, is that the fact that we got criticized by the Vatican gave us the
notoriety that gave birth to Nuns on the Bus. So I say that the Holy
Spirit from my perspective, the Holy Spirit is alive and well and making
So even though painful things happen to us when the criticism from the
Vatican, the spirit took it and generated a hope and an engagement for
people. And so that yesterday, I was in Richmond and some of the people in
the crowd pointed out, we were talking about women`s leadership in the
church. And one of the members of the group said, oh, but you – but you,
Sister Simone, have become a leader in the church and I was really
surprised. I mean, I think of myself as engaged in politics.
But there is a way in which this movement has generated a – I don`t
know – a really electricity about hope and about another way forward. The
spirit`s alive and well while it could be painful in the criticism, other
things are happening because of it.
MADDOW: Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the national
Catholic social justice lobby Network – I have such respect for the way
that you conduct yourself in these very heated political fights that you`ve
been involved in sort of taking criticism on all sides, the way that you
have always responded with such dignity and eloquence is a real
inspiration. I think even people disagree with you on these issues.
So, thank you for being such a model in that. Thanks for joining us
CAMPBELL: Thank you for this opportunity.
I love – the Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief.
That`s my kind of Holy Spirit.
All right. Among other things, today saw the most politically
significant traffic jam we have had in this country in a long time. That`s
MADDOW: Today`s March 14th, so happy pi day – the day we celebrate
the number 3.141592653589 and so on and so forth, you know, forever.
But today`s not just a big day for math nerds. It`s also a big day
for conservative politics nerds because today is CPAC day. It`s the start
of the Conservative Political Action Conference. It`s like the
conservative comic-con. It`s three days long, or three days short, if
you`re obsessed with it, like I am.
The news from conservative comic-con, from CPAC, today ended up not
being what I thought it was going to be, in a way that does not bode
particularly well for what comes next. But that news from day one at CPAC
is coming up.
MADDOW: When there is a problem in public life. When there`s a
problem in governance, people with political power have choices. They can
ignore the problem, which usually means it gets worse, they can try to fix
the problem or they can use the problem. They can see the problem as an
opportunity, something to exploit to accomplish some other thing.
One way you can tell if politicians are choosing the third option.
They`re not ignoring it. They`re not fixing it. They`re just using the
problem for some other purpose. One way to tell when politicians are doing
that is when the thing they propose to do in response to the problem isn`t
going to fix the problem.
In 2010, Republicans did not just win the House and they didn`t just
win a bunch of state legislature legislatures, they won a bunch of
In Michigan, they elected a new Republican governor named Rick Snyder.
And within ten weeks of him being sworn in, Republican Governor Rick Snyder
of Michigan and the newly unilaterally Republican Michigan legislature
passed a bill to give the state sweeping new powers that no one else has
anywhere else in the country.
They revamped an existing law to give the governor the power to
overrule who you vote for. They took for themselves the power to declare a
town or school board to be dysfunctional. And if they decided you were
dysfunctional then the governor could decide to just take you over, you
don`t get a vote, they decide without you. And no matter who you and your
town voted for to be your local elected officials, that is overruled.
The governor appoints an emergency overseer, an emergency manager to
run your town instead with the power to overrule your vote. They can strip
elected officials of their power and take over themselves. They can even
abolish the town, sell off its assets, you get no say.
The governor used the new power to strip all the elected officials in
Benton Harbor of their powers, the town council kept trying to meet – they
tried to pass a resolution honoring the Constitution, for example, to try
to make the rather obvious points. But they were not allowed to do that.
They`ve been stripped of their powers.
So, Benton Harbor went. A Detroit suburb called Allen Park went,
Flint, Michigan, went. The school district in Muskegon Heights and the
Highland Park – those went as well. Michigan is a majority white state,
but altogether, the populations having been their right to elect their own
local officials taken away from them in these places were mostly black.
Michiganders fought back against it. In Benton Harbor, we covered on
this show how they fought back in Benton Harbor. We covered how Michigan
fought back at the state level too, gathering signatures and putting this
radical new law on the ballot for repeal.
The Republicans fought against that by saying the font on the
petitions was too small. And the petition shouldn`t be accepted. Remember
that? But the signatures were accepted and it went on the ballot to get
repealed and it got repealed in November.
The Republicans` radical abolish your local voting rights and let us
take over law got repealed by the people of Michigan in November.
In that same election, Republicans also saw their majorities in the
legislature shrink. They shrunk, but they didn`t disappear.
Democrats did great in the 2012 election in Michigan. But still they
couldn`t get the legislature back.
To give you an idea of why that is, to give you an idea of how well
Republicans in Michigan have tilted the field to benefit themselves, look
at the congressional races there for the same election for 2012. More
people in Michigan voted for a Democrat to be their member of Congress than
voted for a Republican. Democrats got almost a quarter million more votes
for Michigan in the last election than Republicans did.
But the result of that vote was that of the 14 seats up for grabs,
nine of them went to Republicans and five of them went to Democrats.
Republicans have so gerrymandered the state that even though Democrats got
more votes, Republicans got nearly double the Democrats` number of seats.
Same thing in the legislature, where Democrats in this last selection
got 300,000 more votes in the state than Republicans did. But by the magic
of Republican gerrymandering, Democrats earning 300,000 more votes earned
them eight fewer seats in the legislature than the Republicans got.
But in that same election, when Michigan was busy voting for Democrats
but getting Republicans anyway, Michiganders voted to repeal the radical
emergency manager law. But because the Republicans still held majorities
in the legislature, five weeks after the election, the Republicans passed a
replacement bill to the one that just got repealed by the voters. Only
this time, they passed it in a way that could not be repealed the way the
old law was.
And now 13 weeks after that, Republicans in Michigan are going for it.
They`re going for the big one.
Today at 2:00 p.m., Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
announced that he would use the takeover law, the one that got repealed and
they reinstated – yes, he would use that to overrule the voting rights of
the population of the largest city in Michigan. With this takeover and
considering all the other things they`ve taken over under this law, this
will put roughly half the black population of Michigan under the direct
control of Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan.
If you are an African-American and you live in Michigan, the chances
are one in two that you are allowed to vote for your own local officials.
Half of you get to do that and the other half, Rick Snyder gets to decide
for you and overrules your vote.
The choice in Michigan is supposed to be dictatorship over
dysfunction, right? You`re supposed to believe that if you give up
democracy – well, democracy`s nice, but you can`t fix problems with
democracy. So if you give up democracy, then you can fix what democracy
But with the exception of the one town that is marked on this graphic
with a gold star, all of these places have been in and out of financial
trouble for years now. They have been in and out of emergency management
under different versions of the law. Weaker law, stronger law, it has not
mattered. Only that one very small town with the star on it is the only
one to ever emerge in good shape from losing its democracy. And then stay
in good shape thereafter.
Giving up voting rights as a way of saving cities, it turns out does
not save the cities.
And so, yes, Detroit has a problem, nobody says that Detroit doesn`t
have a problem. But this emergency overseer thing that the Republicans are
doing in Michigan, it does not seem to be that solution to that problem.
It is a radical policy, which the Republicans say is justified by cities
and towns and school districts being in dire financial straits.
The problem is that this radical policy does not seem to fix the
problem of these places being in dire financial straits. If it doesn`t fix
the problem, then why are they doing it?
In Detroit, the opposition to being taken over – the opposition to
giving up their democratic form of government right now looks like this.
Looks like people driving really deliberately slowly down the freeway at
rush hour. Just a few cars poking along, one with a sign that reads
democracy and another that reads Detroit emergency manager. They`re
undoubtedly infuriating many of the people they`re inconveniencing by this
traffic jam that is on purpose.
Police have written several of the protesters tickets for driving so
slowly, the organizers say they know what they are doing is a pain, but
they are doing what they can with what they have. They are doing a
moderately wrong thing for what they say are the right reasons.
It is old-fashioned civil disobedience by car.
One person behind that slow motion dissent will be joining us next.
MADDOW: You are looking at footage from Detroit, Michigan. This is
not slowed down to look unnaturally slow looking. Activists in Detroit for
the fifth time are taking to the freeways as of yesterday to drive super
slowly during rush hour to protest the impending takeover of Michigan`s
Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder made it official today on his
order Detroit will be giving up the ability to elect their local officials
in favor of a state appointed overseer who can just do with the city
whatever he wants.
Joining us now is one of the activists behind the freeway protests in
Detroit this week pastor David Bullock. He`s the national spokesperson of
the Change Agent Consortium. He`s the president of the Detroit chapter of
the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and of the Highland Park Chapter of the NAACP.
Pastor Bullock, thank you very much for your time tonight.
REV. DAVID BULLOCK, CHANGE AGENT CONSORTIUM SPOKESPERSON: Thank you.
MADDOW: Do you intend to keep going with these protests, this type of
protest specifically now or other kinds of protests now that an emergency
manager officially is taking over Detroit?
BULLOCK: Indeed. We intend to escalate our protests.
Rosa Parks sat down in the wrong seat on the right bus and disobeyed a
law because it violated her human dignity. We are on freeways, on the
right freeway going the wrong speed, because the law emergency management
violates our dignity. And our only recourse at this point is protests,
it`s rallies, it`s civil disobedience.
But we will not turn around and go back in the corner. We`re going to
fight for our rights.
MADDOW: One of the hallmarks of civil disobedience is that it is
often disruptive to the lives of people who are not participating in the
protest. You get in people`s way of interrupting what is essentially day
to day normalcy to point out and dramatize what you are protesting against.
That said, are you worried that you`re just making Detroit mad at you?
Do you know if you are persuading people rather than alienating them with
this type of protest?
BULLOCK: Indeed, it may be inconvenient for some. We`ve gotten a lot
of positive feedback, though. People who say we`re with you. We were
stuck in traffic today, but we understand that this kind of protest, this
civil disobedience is needed to bring awareness to the effect of emergency
management on disenfranchising democracy.
Think about the inconvenience of having your vote taken from you –
the inconvenience of having democracy destroyed, the inconvenience of
knowing that when you go to the ballot box in august or November, that
really your vote has no value. I think that inconvenience far outweighs
the temporary inconvenience of being stuck in traffic for a few hours.
MADDOW: We have been covering the emergency management phenomenon in
Michigan for a long time now. You and I have had several discussions about
it. And the feedback I always get whenever we do a segment on this in the
show is – oh, Maddow, you just don`t understand how serious the financial
problems are here. If you understood how big the problem was, you wouldn`t
be raising a stink about what it takes to get an emergency manager
In thinking about that critique, we have been looking at the track
record of emergency management, whether it`s actually effective at getting
these towns and these school districts out of bad financial situations. It
seems like Michigan keeps taking over local democracy on the promise that
that will let them fix these towns. But the towns don`t get fixed by this
Why do you think that is?
BULLOCK: Emergency management does not work. Look, it hasn`t worked
in Benton Harbor. It hasn`t worked in Flint. It hasn`t worked in Highland
Park or Highland Park schools. It hasn`t worked in DPS.
The bottom line is, there is no connection between a financial turn
around and dismantling democracy. There is no relationship between taking
people`s right to vote, between disenfranchising their elected
representatives and some kind of financial turn around.
The emergency manager doesn`t come in and bring tax revenue, doesn`t
come in and bring fire and police. Doesn`t come in and stop violence.
The emergency manager does not come in and even target or hone in on
the long-term systemic problems that have led to the financial crisis.
This is not a solution that`s viable.
MADDOW: Pastor David Bullock, the national spokesperson of the Change
Agent Consortium. Keep us apprised as this protest campaign continues. I
think you`re poised for more national discussion of this, these issues in
part because of the way you are disrupting daily life in your city right
now in order to do that.
Pastor, thank you very much for your time tonight.
BULLOCK: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. The annual conservative-o-rama known as CPAC
started today in Washington. And what an o-rama it was on day one.
Stand by. That`s next.
MADDOW: Happy CPAC, America! Yay!
Today, at long last, was day one of the big conservative annual confab
known as the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. It`s
the annual retreat, essentially, for the biggest names in conservative
politics. They gather every year in Washington, D.C., to plot out world
domination! Or at least the future of the conservative movement and the
future of the Republican Party.
This year, CPAC is kind of a big deal, right? After this last
election, what lessons will be learned from the electoral drubbing that the
Republicans took in 2012? Who did conservatives consider to be the future
of their movement? Who is the leader of the Republican Party after Bush
and Cheney? This is where they try to figure that stuff out.
And today was day one of that process. On the agenda, for example,
muffins and mimosas with the honorable Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, so you
can question the Coch (ph) about the ultrasound law while dining on a corn
Also this one, the United Nations versus the United States, the end
run around the American way of life. I think that one is about bike lanes.
But this was the item on the agenda that caught my eye as soon as the
CPAC schedule was released last month. Too many American wars? Should we
fight anywhere? And can we afford it?
Now, that is legitimately fascinating. It was it 10 years ago this
week that Republicans and conservatives led the charge, and led a lot of
Democrats to go along with them to invading Iraq, because they argued, you
know, WMD, smoking gun mushroom cloud, whatever, let`s just go to war.
But, look, now, 10 years later at CPAC, conservatives asks each other,
asking themselves whether we as a country might be going to war too much –
them asking themselves that question is really interesting for our national
politics around war and peace, as they become increasingly dislocated from
standard Republican and partisan axes on those subjects.
Are we fighting too many American wars? What are the conservatives
going to say about that?
Well, a panel today was moderated by Republican Congressman Steve King
of Iowa. Yes, that Steve King.
But the real star of the discussion was Republican Congressman Louie
Gohmert of Texas. And this was his contribution to the question of do we
fight too many wars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: One of the things that we have heard
over and over again since Vietnam is, you know, well, we don`t want to get
in another unwinnable war like Vietnam. I`m not going to debate the merits
of whether we should or should not have gone to Vietnam. But what I will
tell you is, Vietnam was winnable but people in Washington decided we would
not win it!
Folks, when you hear people talk about the lesson of Vietnam, it ought
to be this: you don`t send American men or women to harm`s way unless you
are going to give them the authority and what they need to win and then
bring them home. That`s the lesson of Vietnam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Let us praise the brave conservatives who are willing to ask
the question, willing to ask the question of each other whether America is
fighting too many wars. But let us also be cognizant while we praise them,
that among the applause lines when conservatives ask this question is when
people answer that the only problem with the Vietnam War is that it wasn`t
long enough, that seems like a reasonable answer to the question.
See, this is why I love CPAC. I already cannot wait for day two.
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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