The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/19/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
The state of Florida, the great state of Florida, I should say, does
not right now have a lieutenant governor. They have a governor, of course.
You know, old Rick Scott. There is a job in Florida called lieutenant
governor, but there is nobody in that job. The job is vacant. Help
Last week, Governor Rick Scott is reported to have, quote, “stared
stone-faced” at the Florida Press Corps annual political roast in
Tallahassee, he said to have stared stone-faced while a reporter at that
roast poked fun at the tension between him and the lieutenant governor.
The joke was supposed to be the lieutenant governor was demanding respect -
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T – from Rick Scott. She was dressed up kind of Aretha
Franklin style. It was supposed to be funny. Funny, ha-ha.
As “The New York Times” reports, quote, “What nearly everybody in that
room did not know was that the lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, the
first black woman to serve in the state`s number two spot, what people in
the room did not know is that she had only hours earlier signed a
resignation letter, while seated at a small table in her office, and then
handed it to the governor`s general council.”
Florida`s lieutenant governor had already resigned and everybody
joking about how difficult their relationship with didn`t know that she was
already gone. The reporters up there on stage bumping around as pseudo-
Aretha Franklin, portraying the give me respect lieutenant governor, but
the lieutenant governor had already quit.
The next day when the news broke that she had quit, that she had
resigned, Governor Scott issued a statement in which he said that the
lieutenant governor had left elected office, she left the number two office
in the state, so that her former association with a certain company would
not end up, quote, “distracting from our important work on behalf of
Well, the distracting company in question is this – this is the
former Florida lieutenant governor. And she was the lieutenant governor.
And she`s appearing in a PSA/ad for this distracting company. She did this
a couple of years ago.
In the two years preceding her appearance in that ad, the Florida
lieutenant governor had a P.R. firm that that group, that company was the
primary source of income for her firm. The group purports to be a charity
for America`s military veterans. They purport to be a group that helps
veterans struggling with homelessness, among other things.
The group is led by this man, whose title in the group is national
commander. His name is Jerry Bass. If you`d like to see a more recent
picture, we have one here in the form of his mug shot. This was taken last
week. The day after Florida`s lieutenant resigned because her association
with him and his supposed veterans charity made her continuing in office as
Florida`s lieutenant governor an untenable prospect.
Jerry Bass was arrested last week in Florida amid allegations that his
group supposedly raising money for veterans was actually doing something
else with almost all of the money they raised.
In all, nearly 60 people were arrested in this sting. It was a mass
raid. Nearly 60 people arrested, 57 arrest warrants issues around the
supposed veterans charity operating in Florida. The suspects stand accused
of racketeering, illegal gambling, money laundering and more. The IRS says
the so-called veterans charity was a fraud.
From “The Associated Press,” investigators say they found evidence of
nearly $6 million in what appeared to be actual charitable donations to
veterans, $6 million, but that is only about 2 percent of the nearly $300
million raised supposedly for veterans during that time.
Investigators chasing the other 98 percent of the money that was
supposedly raised for veterans found that the group instead lavished
millions dollars on charity leaders, spending on boats and beach front
condos and Maseratis and Ferraris and Porsches. A lot of it just turned up
as cash, parked in people`s personal bank accounts. Law enforcements
seized about 300 bank accounts containing almost $65 million in cash, as
well as sports cars and other property.
Since the raid a week ago, this supposed charity for veterans appeared
to have gone poof. The headquarters of the group in St. Augustine,
Florida, described our reporters as sitting empty. Emails and phone calls
to the organization just ringing off the ether now with nobody responding.
Fifty-seven people get arrested and then, all of a sudden, we can`t find
that group anymore.
The press in Florida is reporting that part two of the giant multi-
state investigation into this apparent fraud will be looking into the
group`s extensive political donations. Already, Florida`s Republican Party
say they plan to give $300,000 to real veterans causes, to try to make good
on the money they took from this scheme that got several dozen alleged
In Florida, at least for now, this particular gig is up, this alleged
scam is over. I mean, the boss`s mug shot is on national TV. The Porsches
and the Ferraris and the Maseratis are with the proper authorities now.
The headquarters had gone dark, and good luck to any real veterans who
actually did think they could depend on this group that promised to help
them, but is now accused of taking that money for their own benefit
Florida`s lieutenant governor has done precisely one interview since
resigning in this scandal last week. She did an interview with “The New
York Times” in which she told “The New York Times”, quote, “I believe I did
a fantastic job.”
Two years ago on this show, we covered the case of Bobby Thompson.
(INAUDIBLE) he was at the time. The man known as Bobby Thompson also ran a
purported charity for veterans. This, I think, really was an early version
of their Web site. The Bobby Thompson Web site. Come on, right?
Yes, fake Bobby Thompson and his charity, I guess, claim to have
chapters in dozens of states all serving veterans. They raised money by
calling up regular people on the phone and asking for money. Supposedly,
they wanted to help Navy veterans in particular.
Well, “The Tampa Bay Times” spent months investigating this guy and
his supposed charity. He also was in Florida. They found that his
supposed national headquarters as well as most of his state chapters were
actually just one rented mailbox at a UPS Store.
Just like the charity that just got raided in Florida last week, Bobby
Thompson cuddled up to all manner of political leaders, from President Bush
to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia Attorney General Ken
Cuccinelli, several Virginia lawmakers. Once he got found out, they all
tried the shake that money off themselves like it was a pack of fleas. I
mean, when Bobby Thompson got found out when the press exposed him for
appearing to take money intended for veterans and using to line his own
pockets instead, fake Bobby Thompson split.
He was a fugitive. He ran from the federal authorities for two years
where he finally got caught was in Portland, Oregon. He`s now been
extradited to Ohio. He is slated to stand trial there next month under his
real name, John Donald Cody. But when they got into him, he was just
another Florida guy accused of a nationwide scam built on the backs of our
military veterans, and, of course, on our civilian desire to do something
But before you go thinking this is just some weirdness that keeps
crawling up out of Florida, in particular, consider also the past couple of
years the news out of Wisconsin. Before Scott Walker became governor of
Wisconsin, his last job before that was being county executive in
Milwaukee. And in Milwaukee, he helped organize a local supposed charity
effort for veterans. It was an annual picnic at the Milwaukee Zoo, just a
friendly local event for vets.
Well, when Scott Walker made his executive decision of who to hand
that work off to, when he made a decision to hand that work off to others,
he made bad decisions. The guy on the right in the handcuffs was sentenced
in December to a couple of years in prison for stealing $51,000 in money
that was meant to go to veterans and their families. The other guy got the
same prison term in January for the thousands of dollars that he stole –
money again that was supposed to go to veterans.
That money one was there to be stolen because Americans gave that
money as a way of saying “thank you, we appreciate you, we want to do right
by you, we are glad you are back,” saying that to the men and women willing
to fight for this country, even to sacrifice those lives for this country,
if asked to do so.
However you feel about the wars our country has fought in our
lifetimes, or our grandparents` lifetime, the idea of welcome home is an
idea that works in this country. We want to do right by our veterans. We
want to make sure when they and their families have what they needs. We
want to make sure when they are promised things, as a condition of them
signing up, that those promises are kept.
When so help me God, the low life drifters among us decide to exploit
the way we feel about wanting to do right by veterans, when they undertake
to tap that feeling in us but then divert it, so veterans do not actually
get helped – really what we need in those cases is a special place in hell
so we can cram those people into.
Well, look at this. This is news today, just today on the tenth
anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
One of the things we do as a country as policy is we offer grants to
the children of service members who were killed in action. So, if these
kids lose a parent in the war, they can have help from the U.S. government
to go to college. Only now, those grants are being cut by more than a
Here you go, kid. Sorry about your mom, sorry about your dad, go
study up on the sequester.
Last week, the Army announced it was suspending new grants for tuition
assistance for soldiers themselves. Again, the sequester.
And still, of course, we have a situation where troops returning from
war are forced to wait in a very, very, very, very, very long line for the
benefits that we owed them and their families, the benefits that we
promised them and for which they are eligible. We have nearly 900,000
veterans waiting right now just to hear back from the Veterans
Administration. The average wait to hear back now is nine months. It`s
even longer if you have just come back from Iraq or Afghanistan.
With so many veterans now finally able to come home, we have not done
what we need to do in order to accommodate them, so the wait times are
getting longer and not shorter. The problem is getting worse.
Wait times and cuts to college grants, these things – they`re not a
scam like the thing Rick Scott`s lieutenant governor was tied up in.
There`s no one profiting from this national embarrassment themselves, but
our strong feelings about doing right by veterans, about doing by the kids
of our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, those strong feelings that
we have about making that right, those feelings are being diverted.
The programs are there. Those programs are the basis for the promises
that we believe we are making to people who signed up to serve, but then
the veterans are not actually getting help. We are still made to feel that
we are doing right on account of all the ribbons and stump speech, callouts
to returning troops and the airline commercials were customers step aside
so the soldiers can go first, right?
If we mistake the emotional skwee (ph) we get when we see those images
as proof that we are actually doing right by veterans, then you and I are
scamming ourselves as much as those drifters scan their marks in Florida
and Wisconsin and everywhere else. And there ought to be a special place
in hell for messing that up.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. She`s an
Iraq war veteran. She lost both legs while serving as an Army helicopter
in Iraq. She later served as secretary for public and intergovernmental
affairs at the V.A. before becoming a member of Congress.
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, it`s great to have you here. Thanks
for being here tonight.
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: It`s great to be on. Thanks for
having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: You can probably hear me getting all riled up, being pissed
about people taking advantage of how we feel toward our veterans when we`re
not getting what we promised them, either in the charitable context or in
the programmatic context.
Having served in the V.A., being a veteran yourself, now being in
Congress, how do you feel overall about how we`re doing toward Iraq and
DUCKWORTH: I think we could be doing so much better, Rachel. I do
think we`re going better for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than we did for
Vietnam veterans, but that was a pretty low bar.
The fact of the matter is, we have on over 2 million veterans created
as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we`re simply not
living up to the promises that we`ve made of them. We can do better.
You know, we`re not providing the jobs that we need to give to them.
We`re not helping them with housing. Sequestration is going to cut
homeless programs. Women veterans do need a lot of help.
I think we`ve done better than we have in a long time. But we`ve got
a long way to go.
MADDOW: On the issue of the sequester and on the issue of the V.A.
backlog, I know you served in the V.A. for a long time.
MADDOW: You`ve seen those problems up close.
Do you feel those are issues on which Congress sort of has an obvious
way forward? Where it is clear that Congress itself could do more to make
those problems right? Or are these problems so complicated that
congressional action isn`t necessarily the clearest way forward?
DUCKWORTH: You know, Rachel, on the backlog, I don`t think it`s a
congressional action issue. I think it is simply a capacity issue. The
V.A. is clearing a lot of the backlogs. But the problem is, they`re
getting more new ones that it`s taking them twice as long to get through
That`s not acceptable. The V.A. has talked for years about the use of
electronic records and the handoff of electronic – V.A. electronic records
of troops on DOD to V.A. That still hasn`t happened. It`s better off than
where it was, but still not where it needs to be.
And now, we have the DOD that has – because of the sequestration,
decided they`re going to end their portion of the software program that
would allow them to be able to be in that seamless transition from DOD to
V.A. So, whatever gains we`ve made in the last three or four years is now
going away because sequestration and DOD is canceling their side of it.
MADDOW: Obviously, the specific program that I talked about in terms
of the educational grant for service member`s children, service members who
were killed in the wars, the tuition assistance to service members right
now in terms of their own education, those things getting cut are directly
because of the sequester, addressing the sequester would address those
things, do you think that they should be fixed even if the rest of the
sequester shouldn`t be fixed? Should we privilege service members and
veterans needs like that, even if we can`t fix everything else?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I`m actually, Rachel, going to be – one of the
cosigners of a letter to the secretary to ask him to please fix this issue
with the tuition regardless on where sequestration is.
MADDOW: OK. You know, it is – it is 10 years today from the date
that we invaded Iraq. And you and I have talked a number of times,
politics in the Iraq war and the way that there`s a real distance between
those of us who didn`t fight and those of you who did and who sacrificed so
much and whose families have sacrificed so much. Ten years out, what do
you feel like the lessons are that we still need to learn as a country in
terms of how we got into that war and how we behave once we were there?
DUCKWORTH: I think the lesson with we need to learn here, Rachel, is
real questioning honest discussion and real questioning of the information
that`s being given to you. I feel very strongly that in the run up to
Iraq, not only were the American people lied to, but members of congress
were lied to.
In fact, I call it a hostage situation. I think a lot of members of
Congress voted for the war because they were being threatened and had their
patriotism questioned. As if, you know, you were not a true American if
you wanted to know exactly what was going to be happening. I think that we
are in a better place now than then.
I hope that as we talk about Iran and Syria and other places where
people want to just push American troops onto the ground, that we have a
real honest discussion. And, you know, Rachel, I`ve said this to you
before, it`s one of the reasons why I ran for Congress because I`m going to
be here, along with my fellow veterans, to say we`re going to have a real
When you sound the drumbeats for war, let me tell you what it`s going
to cost. A trillion dollars spent in Iraq, over 4,000 troops who have laid
down their lives to this nation, tens of thousands wounded, and we will be
caring for our veterans for the next 60 years. That`s going to cost this
country by 2020 – that`s seven years from now – $8 billion a year just
for the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
It is a cost that this nation is willing to bear to care for our vets,
but let`s have a true understanding of what war really costs this nation.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq war
veteran who knows that cost, very much personally – thank you so much for
your time tonight. It`s nice to see you tonight in particular.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. Coming up later in the show, one of the things that has
happened on this tenth anniversary of the Iraq war is that we have seen the
– I guess rehabilitation of a lot of people who got us into the Iraq war
in the first place. There`s a little revisionist history that`s being spun
by them to make you not think badly about their decision that started that
war in Iraq 10 years ago tonight. I have a feeling about that. That`s
MADDOW: News from D.C. today on how the Newtown, Connecticut,
elementary school massacre in December is going to change our country or
A big majority of Americans, of course, want the assault weapons ban
brought back. A ban like that was in effect in this country from 1994 to
2004, but in 2004, President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress let
A majority of the country, 57 percent of the country overall, 59
percent of registered voters, now say they want to bring that assault
weapons ban back. But the Democrats in Congress today announced that they
would not even try to do that. The bill`s sponsor, who is also the sponsor
of the old assaults weapons ban that expired, California Senator Dianne
Feinstein today said that she was told her assault weapons bill will be
dropped by the Senate Democrats when they move their package of gun safety
legislation onto the Senate floor for a vote.
Now, if the strategy seems a little weird or inconsistent with that
you`ve heard before, you`re right. It is a little weird and a little
inconsistent with what you`ve heard before. The initial strategy of the
Democrats on gun issues was to move everything a la carte, to everything
piecemeal so, OK, maybe you don`t like the ban, but that shouldn`t stop you
for voting for an increase on school safety officers or background bill.
You can pick and choose, right?
So if you object to one part, you can still support the rest of it.
That was the strategy at first. That was the strategy at the committee
But now that they are past the committee level and they`re on to the
next step, now they`re moving the step to the full Senate for a vote,
apparently, a la carte is over. They are combining everything into one
bill, and the one bill Dianne Feinstein was told today will not include the
assault weapons ban, and that means it will not include a ban on extended
capacity magazines that hold lots of bullets at the time so you can fire
dozens of rounds without reloading.
Senate Democrats are not even going to try for that. They will not be
in the bill. What will be in the bill is still an unanswered question.
But Democrats aren`t going to try for a limit on extended magazines or an
assault weapons. But what about background checks then? Universal
The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns released this ad today to try to
keep the pressure on that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JIM JOHNSON, MARYLAND: I spent 35 years
CHIEF KENT BARKER, OREGON: – protecting families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putting criminals behind bars.
CHIEF DWIGHT HENNINGER (ph): I`ve been shot.
CHIEF TERRENCE CUNNINGHAM: I`ve known good friends in the line of
UNIDEENTIFIED FEMALE: Criminals can get guns.
DIRECTOR MICHAEL WEBSTER: Because we don`t have background checks on
all gun purchases.
CUNNINGHAM: We need them now.
BARKER: I buy guns.
JOHNSON: I love going to the range.
CUNNINGHAM: I`m a life member of the NRA.
UNIDNTIFIED MALE: And background checks won`t change that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ll keep criminals.
CAPT. VICTOR MCCREW (ph): Child molesters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who suffer from mental illness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From getting guns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Background checks preserve our Second Amendment
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And help us protect you.
JOHNSON: Call Congress.
CUNNINGHAM: Tell them we demand action on background checks now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mayors Against Illegal Guns put that out today.
As of right now, it is up in the air whether universal background
checks are going to make it into the Senate Democrats broad guns bill. We
already know an assault weapons ban and the extended ban are not going to
make it into that bill.
The sponsor of the background checks legislation, Senator Chuck
Schumer, has been trying to get an NRA friendly Republican to join him in
supporting it. For context, just to appreciate it, in how – for
understanding how far apart the Congress is right now from the will of the
people on this issue, consider that if you ask Americans what they think of
universal background checks, universal background checks are more popular
among Americans than capitalism, more popular than Italian food, more
popular than vacations.
More than 90 percent of Americans support background checks. But so
far, for Republican senators, that 90 percent plus approval among the
American people has not been enough to outweigh the disapproval of the gun
The Senate is expected to take up this gun legislation the week of
April 8th – April 8th will be 115 days since Newtown. The gun lobby is
counting on that being long enough – long enough that Americans won`t
notice that Congress is responding to Newtown with something like the back
of its hand and a shrug.
They`re counting on the other side of the argument which is where the
vast majority of the American public is. They`re counting on the other
side of the argument giving up. They`re counting on Congress caving. We
MADDOW: President Obama appointed the nation`s first ever Supreme
Court justice who is Latina. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first ever
Hispanic to serve on the court. She`s of Puerto Rican decent. She was
born and raised in the Bronx in New York.
President Obama also appointed the nation`s first ever secretary of
labor, who is Latina. Hilda Solis was born and raised in California to
immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico. She served four teams in
Congress before President Obama brought her up to the cabinet.
President Obama has also nominated Hilda Solis` replacement at the
Department of Labor and he is Tom Perez. He was born and raised in
Buffalo, New York, to parents who were first generation immigrants from the
Dominican Republic. He was secretary of labor in the state of Maryland.
He has led the civil rights division as assistant attorney general on the
Justice Department during the Obama presidency.
And on the very same morning that President Obama announced Tom Perez
as his nominee to be labor secretary, yesterday morning, at the same time,
the Republican Party announced the results of its own self-autopsy. The
Republican Party chairman convened a tax force to figure why they the party
lost the last election so badly and how they can fix what`s wrong with the
If you want to boil down what they found, it`s basically this: they
need to stop alienating and insulting everybody who`s not in the party
already. Toward that end, they need to have an outreach program in place
to persuade people who are not in the party to join the party. The party
will fund an outreach program to minorities to the tune of $10 million.
And the Republicans are stressing that whole effort can`t just be for
show. Quote, “If we want ethnic, minority voters to support Republicans,
we have to show our sincerity.” In other words, we have to seem like we
mean it. Kind of see the line of thought there, right, for the
Republicans? They don`t really want to change their policies on anything,
but they want to seem nicer. They want to seem more welcoming.
Just as the party is acknowledging missteps in talking about women,
things like the whole legitimate rape fiasco, right? The party also now
has to be a little shy about how it has behaved in public toward prominent
Latinos. I mean, that`s just the self-deportation comments and self-
deportation policy from Mitt Romney et cetera. But also, like when
President Obama nominated the first ever Latino Supreme Court justice. And
Republican Newt Gingrich responded by calling her a racist. Rush Limbaugh,
the conservative talk show host said nominating Sonia Sotomayor was like
nominating a Klansman for the court.
As Karl Rove went on FOX News and said that the judge just isn`t very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH`S AIDE: I`m not really certain how
intellectually strong she would be. She has not been very strong on the
MADDOW: Republicans must realize the way they treated the nomination
of Sonia Sotomayor probably did not help their image among Latinos. They
know this kind of thing is a problem for them. They know they need to stop
alienating and insulting everybody who might other wise be persuaded to
They now know that they need to convince the vote or they will never
be a national party again. See, you can kind of see this right now as a
I mean, on the very same morning that the Republican Party unveiled
its 100-page the document substantially focused on repairing their image
with Latinos in America, on that same morning, President Obama announces
the first Hispanic nominee for his second term cabinet. This is a test.
Can the Republican Party revamp itself so as not to appall Latinos, at high
profile moments of national attention to prominent Latino-American
political figures? Can they do it?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Obama has just nominated a replacement for
Hilda Solis and the – what is it, the Department of Labor – Labor
Department? Is it the NLRB or is it the Labor Department? Can I tell you
who this guy is? This guy`s name is Tom Perez and he may as well be Hugo
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: No! Hugo Chavez, really? Pick any other tyrannical dictator
or megalomaniac, right? There are so many to choose from. Why did you
specifically go to Hugo Chavez?
Look at the headline on the same nominee for conservative columnist
Michelle Malkin last week. Ms. Malkin says he is not actually the nominee
for secretary of labor. He is the nominee for secretary of illegal alien
OK. So, Republican Party`s big reboot at respected Latinos isn`t off
to a great start, day one.
To be fair though, Mr. Limbaugh and Malkin are conservative
commentators. They`re not elected officials. They`re not seen as rising
stars in their party, that`s for sure.
Then there`s Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. Today, he spoke to the
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. And on his way there, he
apparently stopped off at the Hispanic voter stereotype shop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Republicans have been losing both
respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with many of
our beliefs and family and faith and conservative values. Hispanics should
be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base, defense of the
unborn, defense of traditional marriage, are Republican issues that should
resonate with Latinos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Should they now, Senator? Why do you think that?
You know, if you actually look at the data, more than half of all
Hispanics think gay people should be allowed to marry. On abortion, about
two-thirds of Latinos think abortion should be legal.
So, your stereotypes about what Latino voters think, hey, turns out
they`re wrong. Also, they`re stereotypes.
Also, there`s this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: There`s a hilarious episode on “Seinfeld”, any “Seinfeld” fans?
Where Jerry – Jerry admits he loves Asian women, but he frets and he
worries. He says, is it racist to like a certain race?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Don`t do it, don`t it, don`t, don`t, just don`t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So, it is with trepidation that I`d like to express my
admiration for the romance of the Latin culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Back to the drawing board, Reince Priebus. No, no, no, no,
Steve Kornacki, the brand new host of “UP” joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Hope you join me at 8:00 p.m. Monday, April
1st, for the launch of new program, which will air weeknights, every night,
five nights a week, on MSNBC. “UP” is not going anywhere, I should note.
We`ll have the announcement in the coming days about who the new host will
be occupying this seat at the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That announcement has now happened. The person who will be
occupying that seat at the table “UP” on weekend mornings here on MSNBC is
the great Steve Kornacki.
Steve, course, is also a senior writer at Salon.com.
Mr. Kornacki, congratulations.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. It would not be possible
without all your help. So, I appreciate all –
MADDOW: I absolutely take full responsibility. I don`t know what I
did, but I`ll take it.
KORNACKI: Which means you`ll get the blame if it doesn`t work.
MADDOW: That`s right.
I have to ask you, I want to talk about what`s going on with the Labor
Department nominee and the Republican self assessment and everything. But
I have to ask you, thinking ahead about “UP,” do you know how you want to
approach that show and how different it`s going to be from “THE CYCLE”
where you`ve been hosting recently?
KORNACKI: I`m going to need a much louder alarm clock. I think
that`s nice – that`s my first order of business.
You know, it will be different just because going from the weekday,
you know, in the weekday, it`s so of the moment.
KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, the cycle of the news – it is the news cycle,
and the weekend, it`s the opportunity to really go deep and I like obscure
references to the campaign through the 1960s and I`m going to get to do a
lot of that. I think so.
MADDOW: Are you going to maintain what Chris has done in terms of his
focus in terms of booking people from far field who never otherwise been on
And I was talk about this today, I forgot where it was, but I saw in
the last week, there was a study about guests on the weekend shows from all
of the different networks, and the guest for “UP” on the whole are much
more diverse than on any other show. And it was dramatically – you saw it
like in chart forms. That`s something I think – it`s great to –
MADDOW: And radically, they have subject matter expertise on what is
being discussed. That`s the truly crazy thing.
KORNACKI: Political scientist will be welcome. I could say that. So
MADDOW: Well, thinking of political science and with the Republican
Party finding itself in sort of a coincidental temporal box yesterday,
President Obama nominating the first Hispanic to a second term cabinet, in
Tom Perez, the labor nominee, and the RNC revealing its we need Latinos to
like us more report about – its autopsy about what went wrong in the last
Obviously, they don`t like Tom Perez as nominee. Mostly it seems for
his politics. They seem to have been unable to avoid criticizing him
though in pretty overtly racial terms.
MADDOW: What does that mean?
KORNACKI: It means the basic problem that the Republican Party has
had when it`s come to nonwhite voters, African-Americans, Latinos, even now
Asians, this is sort of at the root of it.
You can go back, you can look at the message that was in this autopsy
report, all about inclusion, all about respect, all about outreach, and
that exact same message, you can find repeated by past Republican Party
chairman, by past Republican Party presidential nominees, and major
congressional leaders, going all the way back to the 1960s and 1970s.
And, you know, the critical moment and the sort of the modern
evolution of the Republican Party in terms of its relationships with
nonwhite voters, you know, it was 1964, who`s nominating an anti-civil
rights candidate in Barry Goldwater and never since that election has
Republican Party broke in 20 percent with African-Americans.
Now, they`re getting into territory where the same thing is almost
happening with Latinos. They do slightly better, but are sort of
permanently about 25 percent, at least for the last couple of elections.
So the most glaring problem here is we have rhetoric about immigration when
it`s somebody like Perez. There`s sort of rhetorical problems, but there`s
a deeper problem there and that is that the Republican Party is sort of on
the right side of an intractable cultural divide for 20 years.
It could afford to write off the Latino vote. It could afford to
write off the African-American vote and it could still win elections, five
or six I think, it was like `60 to `88. Demographics, though, obviously
have changed. That`s the story of 2012. Seventy-two percent of the
electorate was non-white.
And now, the Republican Party is basically on the losing side of that,
unless, you know, the economic tide or something really favors them. But
it`s not just how you talk to Latinos or African-Americans. It`s not just
avoiding the kind of rhetoric we`re seeing right now. It`s also that the
basic attitudes of the Obama coalition last year, this rising major
The basic attitudes about government, about the social safety net are
not in line with where the Republican Party is. And the Republican Party
is going to have to embrace some kind of vision that is in line with these
voters. But by doing that, they risk alienating the base they already
MADDOW: And that distinction between policy and politics, thinking
that they can change the policy – they can change the politics without the
policies that underlie these realities, to me is absolutely demonstrated
today by Rand Paul, the supposedly, the savvy, new, very high profile
Republican senator who is very obviously running for president and who
wants to sort of capture the new energy in the Republican Party, getting up
there and saying totally factually untrue, stereotypically things about he
sure Latino voters think.
MADDOW: Latino voters actually are pretty liberal on social issues,
specifically on marriage and on abortion, the two things that he referenced
without data, because he was sure he knew what Latinos thought.
KORNACKI: Right. No, we hear that all the time. I mean, basically,
the Republican strategy when they talked about winning the Latino vote in
the past has been oh, well, they`re naturally conservative on social
MADDOW: Don`t they go to church a lot?
KORNACKI: Church-going families, so therefore, you know, it`s a
culturally conservative and then now more recently, immigration. You know,
the one policy point this really addressed was immigration. But, again,
fine, if you want to address immigration and it remains to be scene how far
the Republican Party`s really going to go on immigration.
But let`s say they do something substantive on that, fine, you`ve
addressed immigration, you still have this basic problem where you`re
perceived as the party slanted towards the super wealthy, slanted towards
corporations that hasn`t said anything about the struggles of the middle
class that hasn`t said anything income inequality and these are the issues
that I think Ron Brownstein`s term is the coalition of the ascendant, of
this year – nonwhite voters, single women, college-education. This is the
heart of the Obama coalition. This is the heart of the Democratic
coalition and they care about these issues and the Republican Party hasn`t
said anything about them.
MADDOW: You will know that the Republican Party is moving along in
its analysis when they start to say, you know what? If we are against
health reform, that`s going the hurt us with Latino voters.
MADDOW: As long as they think it`s all about like, you know, Catholic
doctrine and immigration only, then we`re going to have Rand Paul quoting
in Pablo Naruda (ph) in bad Spanish, in front of the Spanish Chamber of
Commerce and we`ll have jobs for a long time.
Steve Kornacki, thank you very much and, again, congratulations.
KORNACKI: I appreciate it. Thank you.
MADDOW: Absolutely. All right. Again, Steve Kornacki, the new host
of “UP” on the weekends, with Chris Hayes moving to the 8:00 show starting
April 1st, which I`m assuming the all for my birthday.
Also, today was Election Day. That`s next.
MADDOW: We have a news update for you. As promised, today was
Election Day in the great state of South Carolina. Polls closed in South
Carolina as of roughly three hours ago. It`s the special election to fill
the Tim Scott congressional seat.
Tim Scott is now a senator. They moved him up to the Senate when Jim
DeMint resigned to go run the Heritage Foundation. That left Tim Scott`s
seat in Congress open and today was the primary to figure out who was going
to get to return for it.
The most interesting thing about this is that one of the Republican
candidates is former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and he has
appeared to clear his first hurdle for a return to politics, maybe.
With 99 percent reporting in South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford is
leading the Appalachian Trail by 37 percent, however, he need to get over
50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff against the second place finisher.
Now, looks like there will be a runoff and that will happen on April 2nd.
The winner of that contest on April 2nd will face the Democrat in the
And the Democrat in the race we now know will be Elizabeth Colbert
Busch. Yes, she is Stephen Colbert`s sister and she won the Democratic
primary today easily. She cleared the 50 percent hurdle and then some.
There will be no runoff needed on the Democratic side. So, she will be in
the general election.
That`s your update on Election Day today. But we will be right back.
MADDOW: Anniversaries suck on TV. The news industry is not really
designed to commemorate things. It always comes across as kind of hokey,
But an anniversary like the one today, the tenth anniversary of the
invasion of Iraq, it`s not just a commemoration for history sake, it is
also its own current present day fight over how this story will be written
down in history. It`s contested ground in part because so many of the
people who were wrong about Iraq in the first place, people who caused that
disaster, people who were factually wrong about it are still around in our
politics, and they don`t want to be remembered as the architects of
disaster. They don`t want to be remembered as people who lied or who were
wrong about something so grave.
The fact that they are still around to try to whitewash their bios and
revise their history itself ends up being kind of an important part of our
own history, right? Because it means thus far in the first 10 years, the
Iraq disaster has thus far not been viewed as a big enough deal in our
politics, but the people who caused it are embarrassed for a lifetime, and
never asked to come back into discussions on this topic or anything like
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe the people of Iraq or at
least a large number of them, will treat us as liberators?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Absolutely. Absolutely.
I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short
period of time.
I believe that the success will be fairly easy.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: John McCain, of course, is not the only guy who was wrong.
But just as a note here, today, on the tenth anniversary of the war that
John McCain was so blatantly, obviously, horribly wrong about, the American
Enterprise Institute, the foremost foreign policy (INAUDIBLE) in the
American right invited back for discussion on Iraq 10 years later, John
Hey, you were terribly wrong about this very important thing. So, 10
years later, we thought we`d come back to you for more. Yes.
The American Enterprise Institute Web site is actually worth looking
at today in terms of the way that they are commemorating their tenth
anniversary. Their big splash page is five myths about Iraq, 10 years
after its start, Iraq war opponents still don`t acknowledge its merits.
John Bolton breaks it down. Wow.
Under the headline, “Liberty is No Mistake,” they caution Iraq should
be remembered without rewriting history because it definitely wasn`t a
mistake. Their expert consultant on the most vital, moral and strategic
questions from the Iraq war is the guy who organized it, Paul Wolfowitz.
n the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the war, I did not really
expect it to be this overt, but the Republican/conservative foreign policy
establishment really is today in full P.R. mode to try to make it seem like
the war in Iraq thing was actually a great idea and not at all the worst
foreign policy disaster in maybe a century.
I mean, there`s Paul Wolfowitz on CNN over the weekend defending it.
There`s Michael O`Hanlon, one of the biggest think tank cheerleaders for
the war from the very beginning on MSNBC, talking about it this afternoon.
Hey, look, there`s Donald Rumsfeld himself tweeting from at Rumsfeld
office today, quote, “10 years ago began the long difficult work of
liberating 25 million Iraqis, all who played a role in history deserve our
respect and appreciation.”
You know, the nerviest thing about this is that Donald Rumsfeld has
the gall to use the word “history” in the same breathe in which he is
asserting that Iraq war was all about liberating the Iraqi people. They`re
really doing. They`re really trying to do it. They are using the tenth
year anniversary of the war to try to make you believe that it didn`t
happen the way it happened, to try to make you believe it was all about
liberating the Iraqi people from the tyrant. That`s all they ever wanted
to do, right?
They want you to believe what they proposed to the American people 10
years ago, 11 years ago, was that we liberate the Iraqi people from a
tyrant, and then the American people said, yes, we should go liberate the
Iraqi people from a tyrant and then we went and were greeted as liberators,
and, of course, they prepared us for how difficult it was going to be, and
we knew it would take eight and a half years and cost $3 trillions and kill
thousands of people, but that`s what we signed for. They warned us.
That`s what we were going to do.
They`re saying, oh, yes, it was hard but that difficult liberating
work is what we signed up for and has to be remembered as the history of
You know what? That`s not the history of that war. There`s not a
memory hole deep enough or wide enough to make us forget the real history
of what happened. It is not that long ago you`re not caught on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: No terrorist state poses a
greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the
stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda leaders
have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWWS: Do you have hard evidence they`re in Iraq?
RUMSFELD: Oh, there`s no question but that al Qaeda have moved
through and some have stayed.
BROKAW: And that`s not just an assumption, we know that?
RUMSFELD: I know that.
If someone is waiting for a so-called smoking gun, it is certain that
we will have waited too long.
REPORTER: What do you make of the statement made by the Iraqi
government, the statement by the Iraqi government yesterday that Iraq has
no weapons of mass destruction and is not developing any?
RUMSFELD: They`re lying.
It is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it
could last, you know, six days, six weeks, I doubt six months.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: I doubt six months.
My favorite Donald Rumsfeld assertions about the Iraq war were how
specific he tried to get about these things that they were all making up.
Eleven days into the war, Donald Rumsfeld was asked by ABC if he was
surprised that American forces hadn`t found any weapons of mass
His response, quote, “Not at all. We know where they are. They are
in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north
somewhat.” Yes, north, south, east and west somewhat. We know exactly
where they are.
Donald Rumsfeld has been running from that history, of having said
stuff like that, having made claims like that, not in passing, but as part
of his case to the American people for why we had to wage this war. Donald
Rumsfeld has been running from what he did for years now.
In 2006, while the war was at its height, a 27-year veteran of the CIA
confronted Donald Rumsfeld about that whole north, south, east, west claim
at a public forum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction
REPORTER: You said you knew where they were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were.
REPORTER: You said you knew where they were, near Tikrit, near
Baghdad, and north, south, east, west of there, those of your words.
RUMSFELD: My words were that – no, no, no, wait a minute, let him
stay one second.
REPORTER: This is America, huh? Go ahead.
RUMSFELD: You`re getting plenty of play, sir.
REPORTER: I`d just like an honest answer.
RUMSFELD: I`m giving it to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, you`re not.
These guys have been trying to run away from what they did since they
did it. It is a revisionist project to make us think they didn`t screw up.
That it wasn`t a mistake. We`re all supposed to be looking to them as the
experts in foreign policy and military intervention.
How wrong do you have to be and on how big a scale before we stop
listening to you?
Donald Rumsfeld, I would love to hear your thoughts on light rail or
growing mushrooms. Talk to me about acid reflux, or bonsai gardening, or
home remedies for boils. But when it comes to the wisdom of invading Iraq,
you have expired, all of you have. You had your time, you failed. It is
Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Have a good night.
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