The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/09/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour. Happy Friday.
This is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Well, this is Russian
President Vladimir Putin and an adorable fuzzy puppy dog. So cute. Hi.
Vladimir Putin, as we have docu – look. Oh. As we have documented
on this show before, Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed with animals.
He likes to be seen as a macho tough guy. Preferably a shirtless
tough guy. Like if you added a stereotypical character to the village
But something happens when you take Vladimir Putin out of his
preferred natural shirtless habitat and you instead put him on stage in
front of the press. Macho, virile, shirtless Vladimir Putin becomes
slouchy I really don`t want to be here Vladimir Putin in a suit.
Here he is earlier – look at the look on his face – earlier this
year with the prime minister of Japan. Here he is a few months later
pulling the same mug, standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at
the G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland. Everybody else is having a good time.
Here he is at the same event with President Obama. Oh, please, won`t
somebody just give me a puppy? Or maybe a python? Maybe a wooden plank I
could break with my forehead?
Yes, that Putin – patented Putin posture, right, the “I would prefer
not to be here” posture, that got kind of an affectionate mention today in
the East Room of the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t have a bad
personal relationship with Putin. When we have conversations, they`re
candid, they`re blunt. Oftentimes, they`re constructive.
I know the press likes to focus on body language and he`s got that
kind of slouch looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom.
But the truth is that when we`re in conversations together, oftentimes it`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama in a press conference at the White House
today saying that Vladimir Putin looks like the slouchy bored kid in the
back of the classroom.
It`s not a surprise that the press conference today focused in
significant part on Mr. Obama`s relationship with the Russian president
since U.S./Russian relations are all over the headlines right now. It`s
not just Russia`s decision to provide temporary asylum to the NSA leaker,
Edward Snowden, or even Russia`s high-profile arrest recently of a U.S.
diplomat who they have accused of being a CIA spy and who they perp walked
to a great effect.
It`s not even just Russia`s decision to ban American couples from
adopting Russian children. It`s also Russia`s recent spate of anti-gay
legislation which has drawn lots of criticism from the West, and some calls
that the world should boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics that are due to
be held in Russia next year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know that one question that`s been raised is how do we
approach the Olympics? I want to just make very clear right now – I do
not think it`s appropriate to boycott the Olympics. We`ve got a bunch of
Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they
can to succeed. Nobody`s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and
lesbian legislation you`ve been seeing in Russia, but as I said just this
week, I`ve spoken out against that not just with respect to Russia, but a
number of other countries where we continue to do work with them but have a
strong disagreement on this issue.
And one of the things I`m really looking forward to is, maybe some gay
and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I
think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we`re
seeing there. And if Russia doesn`t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it
would probably make their team weaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Russian team at the Olympics will be weaker if they have a
lack of gay athletes. Very nice.
So, a large portion of the president`s press conference today focused
on what to do with the Putin problem. But what the president got the most
passionate about today was a domestic issue, the issue of health reform,
the health reform law that he signed back in 2010.
One of the things we`ve been reporting on for the last couple weeks is
how much the Republican Party and conservative groups are trying to message
against health reform right now. How much they`re trying to make the
august congressional recess we`re in right now and specifically the August
town halls happening at home in congressional districts, how much they`re
trying to make those all about hating Obama care.
And so, we are seeing anti-Obama care ads running on television right
now, in August, in this weird political time when there are no nationwide
elections. We`re seeing the Republican Campaign Committee in the House
putting out these packets for Republican members of Congress, telling them
how to stage manage their town halls with their constituents to make them
seem as anti-Obamacare as possible.
Well, today, we saw some of the push in the other direction from the
president. The president, today, both making the case for health reform on
its merits, but also going right at Republicans for what the material
consequences would be if they did get their way and found a way to get rid
of this law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As we speak right now, for the 85 percent of Americans who
already have health insurance, they are benefiting from being able to keep
their kid on their plan if their kid is 26 or younger. Folks who have been
bumping up with lifetime limits on their insurance, that leaves them
vulnerable. That doesn`t exist. Seniors have been getting discounts on
their prescription drugs. That`s happening right now.
Free preventative care. Mammograms. Contraception. That`s happening
Now, what happens on October 1st, in 53 days, is for the remaining 15
percent of the population that doesn`t have health insurance, they`re going
to be able to go on a Web site or call up a call center and sign up for
affordable, quality health insurance at a significantly cheaper rate than
what they can get right now on the individual market.
Now, I think the really interesting question is why it is that my
friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people
from getting health care their Holy Grail, their number one priority. The
one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure
that 30 million people don`t have health care and presumably repealing all
those benefits I just mentioned.
That`s hard to understand as an agenda that is going to strengthen our
middle class. At least they used to say – well, we`re going to replace it
with something better. There`s nothing even a pretense now that they`re
going to replace it with something better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today talking at length and with some passion
about the major legislative achievement of his first term which was health
reform. What he would like to be the major legislative achievement of his
second term, of course, is immigration reform.
The president chose to end his press conference today on this very
punchy call that immigration reform needs to get done. He said it would
have the effect of adding $1 trillion to the economy. He said it would
improve the housing market. It would be a boon for the high-tech industry.
And this is how he decided to end his nearly hour-long presser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Get that bill on the floor. Put it up for a vote. I am
absolutely certain that the votes for the Senate bill, which strengthens
border security, demands responsibility from undocumented workers to pay a
fine, pay a penalty, get to the back of the line, reforms our legal
immigration system, holds employers accountable. I am absolutely confident
that if that bill was on the floor of the House, it would pass.
This is one where you`ve actually got some pretty broad consensus. I
don`t know an issue where you have labor, the Chamber of Commerce,
evangelicals, student groups, you name it, supportive of a bill. Let`s get
it done. All right?
Thank you very much, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I am certain this bill would pass if it made it to the House
floor. Let`s get it done. The president finished with that. In his mind
I`m sure he dropped the mike and then he walked off stage.
In terms of strategy, what he said there about how it would pass right
now if only the House would vote on it, there are enough Republicans who
support it that it seems like maybe he`s right. And that is increasingly
the line from people who support immigration reform. Remember, it has
already passed the Senate. And just numerically it is starting to see like
the president is probably right and proponents of immigration reform are
probably right, that if there were a vote in the House on what already
passed in the Senate, there are enough votes to pass it in the house, too,
which means it would become law.
And the longer that this goes on, the clearer that that becomes, that
it would pass if they just allowed a vote on it, the longer that is clear,
the more unsustainable it becomes for the Republican leadership in the
House to just refuse to vote on it because they know that the vote will go
against them. That was a fascinating moment during today`s press
performance. I think he should sort of stick a pin in that and see how
that plays out when the house comes back to D.C.
But the main point of this rare formal presidential press conference
today was what the president announced at the very beginning in his formal
statement at the top. It had to do with national security, with what our
country is doing to protect our national security, and crucially, with how
much we are allowed to know about it.
The last time the president spoke at this level of detail on the issue
was this big drone speech back in May, which was all about how we need to
be more transparent and have a better informed debate about national
security and war and specifically the U.S. policy of using drones to kill
people in other countries.
If, after that speech, there was any suspicion that that speech means
that President Obama will actually start disclosing more information about
killing people with drones if he gets asked about it, yes, if you thought
that that speech meant he was going to be more open in discussing these
matters – apparently, no. The president today laid that to rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: If I can ask in the interest of
transparency, can you tell us about these drone strikes that we`ve seen
over the last couple of weeks in Yemen?
OBAMA: You know, I`m not going to discuss specific operations that
have taken place. Again, in my speech in May, I was very specific about
how we make these determinations about potential lethal strikes. So, I
would refer you to that speech.
KARL: So you won`t even confirm that we`ve carried out drone strikes
OBAMA: I will not have a discussion about operational issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The rest of the press conference today was kind of slightly
free-wheeling. I`ll take the next question. Everybody gets a follow-up.
Joking about your new baby.
Making fun of Major Garrett. Ha, ha, ha. Well, it`s August. I`m
going on vacation.
Then, somebody asked about drones and it`s like, no, boom, full stop.
I do not talk about that.
It`s like you`re listening to music in an elevator and all of a sudden
a Metallica riff kicks in.
The president did, though, announced at the top of the press
conference a number of proposed changes to our nation`s surveillance
programs and, specifically, what we are allowed to know about our
surveillance programs and how programs get approved, the checks and
balances. President Obama called on Congress today to pursue changes to
part of the Patriot Act which OK the mass collection of telephone records.
He said there may be more safeguards that would be put in place with regard
to that program. The Senate Intelligence Committee has already said it
will set hearings on the issue for the fall.
The president also today called for a major change to the court that
grants the government permission to conduct that sort of surveillance.
It`s a court that only meets in secret and the way it works now is that the
government, only the government, only one side, argues their case in front
of the secret court for what surveillance they want to be able to do.
And then the judge, after hearing their argument in secret, rules on
their request. Well, the president said that should change today. He said
the court should also hear from the other side of the argument. There
should be an adversarial voice making the case against the government and
the judge should rule after hearing both sides – almost like a real court.
The president today also announced new efforts at transparency when it
comes to these kinds of programs. He said he has directed the Justice
Department to release new details on the NSA`s bulk collection of telephone
data. He said now is the time to get that information out there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Rather than have a trunk come out here and a leg come out
there and a tail come out there, let`s just pull out the whole elephant out
there so people know exactly what they`re looking at. Let`s examine what
is working, what`s not. Are there additional protections that can be put
in place? And let`s move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While the president was at the podium speaking, the Justice
Department, in fact, released this new 23-page document that details what
the government says are the legal justifications for this kind of
surveillance. And also what its limits are.
Joining us now, NBC news justice correspondent, Pete Williams, who has
been poring over that document today.
Pete, thank you very much for being with us.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
MADDOW: So, how much of the elephant has been unveiled? What do we
know because of this document that we didn`t know before?
WILLIAMS: Well, a lot about the legal rationale. Some of the
operational details. For example, they said, something that officials have
been saying that the only metadata that`s gathered is the numbers that are
dialed, how long the call lasts, certain other networking information, but
not, for example, the location from which the call is made.
So if you`re on a cell phone, the metadata doesn`t include where you
Some other things included the fact that the way this works is you get
a phone number from a suspected terrorist overseas, for example, and then
you go into the database to see what other numbers that person has called.
But the document makes clear that the NSA is authorized under this law to
go out what they call three hops. What that means is they can look at the
phone numbers dialed by that phone number, then they can go out one ring
and look at the numbers dialed by all those people, and then go out two
more rings. So three hops in all that the law allows them to do.
So those were some of the operational details that we got.
MADDOW: The idea of the three-hop leeway, which is a strange phrase,
but I see what you mean. It does call into question how important it is
that a specific number is at the center of that request. I mean, isn`t the
basic idea about warrantless searches that they have to – there has to be
some specific amount of relevance to an investigation. You can`t just
troll broadly in a sort of general warrant way, right?
WILLIAMS: Well, two points about that. First of all, there seems to
be little legal question that there`s no search warrant required simply
because the Supreme Court ruled a couple of decades ago that there`s no
Fourth Amendment, that you have no privacy interest in your telephone
records. So, they were never – the question was never whether there was a
search warrant. It wasn`t a constitutional question.
The question was a legal one, whether – here`s the problem. The law
says intelligence agencies can only gather material that`s relevant to a
terrorism investigation. That`s your point. So opponents have been saying
– well, how can every phone number dialed possibly be relevant to an
investigation? And that`s really the bulk of what this white paper today
They say, first of all, it`s well-settled law that materials are
relevant to an investigation not only when they bear directly on it, but
also when it`s reasonable to believe that they could lead to other
information that bears directly on it.
So in other s, the paper says the government can gather a big box of
materials if it thinks there`s a smaller box of evidence inside. They give
some examples, a doctor who was ordered to turn over 15,000 patient files
to look for health care fraud, or a law firm that had to turn over all the
records on its clients in an SEC investigation. All that upheld by the
And secondly, this paper says the program meets the relevance test
because of the unique name of phone data, that it allows relationships to
be discovered only if the government has all the records to start with.
This is what intelligence officials mean when they say, to find a needle in
the haystack, you have to have the haystack.
MADDOW: Pete, on the issue of the FISA courts, Senator Ron Wyden is
one of the critics of the president on this issue. He`s called the FISA
court the most one-sided court in the nation. There`s been some
interesting reporting recently on what kind of judges get appointed to sit
on this court in secret.
The kinds of proposals that the president made today about that court,
would those be radical changes to the way that court operates?
WILLIAMS: Well, it would be a radical change because for the first
time you`d have somebody in the court urging the court not to do what the
government wants. The problem is, who`s that person going to be? And, you
know, the administration does seem serious about trying to figure out a way
to make this work.
Obviously, it would have to be a person who is – has all the
clearances. Would it be a government official? Would it be somebody at
the Justice Department, sort of like an ombudsman or inspector general who
goes in there and tells the court, don`t do whatever the government asks?
You wouldn`t have a traditional adversary like in a normal court
because nobody would know in advance you`re about to go get their phone
number. So, it`s not like, you know, the government doesn`t even know
whose phone number they`re getting so you couldn`t call up Harry and say
we`re about to get your number, come in here and argue against it if you
want. It would have to be some institutional person. And it`s difficult
to know how it would work. I think it would clearly require an act of
Congress, but the president said he wants to do it.
MADDOW: Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent, thank you for
helping us understand this. I really appreciate your time tonight.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot.
All right. I`m going to go out on a limb here. But I`m pretty sure
that in Virginia, when someone enjoys a nice meal, usually if you`re a
restaurant, you enjoy that nice meal, you have to pay for it. Generally,
it is the person who ate that meal who pays for it.
This concept is apparently completely foreign to Virginia politicians.
How that had suddenly become very politically important is next.
MADDOW: Happy Friday and a special happy Friday to the residents of
the great state of Virginia, where today it was the grand kickoff for the
commonwealth of opportunity tour.
Governor ultrasound, Bob McDonnell, today starting off the first day
of his week-long statewide why are you declaring victory tour with stops in
Salem and Roanoke and Bristol? Saying he`s taking this tour to, quote,
“highlight Virginia`s successes during his administration.” Because
Virginia has become the commonwealth of opportunity under his leadership.
Quote, “The last 3 1/2 years have witnessed significant progress in
addressing the challenges facing our citizens in their daily lives.
Virginia has more jobs. Virginians have more opportunities.”
And, of course, Virginia`s governor has a new watch and a suede jacket
and a bunch of other really nice stuff. The watch, in fact, is a Rolex
engraved just for him.
Being governor of the commonwealth of opportunity, opportunity, also
afforded Bob McDonnell the opportunity to drive Ferrari without paying for
it. Being governor also afforded his wife a $10,000 suede jacket she
didn`t have to buy. Plus, designer handbags and shoes.
Plus, there was the lake house vacation he didn`t have to pay for and
the $15,000 chicken dinner at his daughter`s wedding he didn`t have to pay
for, plus $120,000 in cash paid to the governor`s wife, sister, and to the
governor, himself. Lots for the governor of the commonwealth of
opportunity – a lot of opportunities taken during his time in the
statehouse so far.
Why not celebrate how awesome this publisher`s clearinghouse giant
check jackpot of a governorship has really been for old fiscal conservative
Bob McDonnell? Take a victory lap, Gov. Why be ashamed?
Kick off your commonwealth of opportunity tour the very same day “The
Washington Post” publishes new information about what yet more cash that
you have taken since you have been governor. This time, it was $50,000,
apparently, that Governor Bob McDonnell took from a Virginia Beach doctor.
The governor took the money from the doctor then turned around and offered
that same doctor a seat on a state medical board.
But this time, thankfully, there appears to be a saving grace for the
governor in that the quo was apparently rejected by the quid. Even though
the governor took the doctor`s 50 grand and then offered the doctor that
seat on the state medical board, the doctor did not accept the offer. So,
Since governor ultrasound has decided to just be completely
unembarrassed by all this, totally unashamed, federal grand jury, grand
schmury, it`s the commonwealth of opportunity for me.
Hey, buddy, have I got a deal for you?
While governor ultrasound is trying to appear untroubled by all the
trouble he`s in, the other person in Virginia politics who`s getting into
deeper and deeper political trouble is Virginia`s attorney general, Ken
Cuccinelli, who also took thousands of dollars in cash and prizes from the
same Virginia guy who showered the McDonnell family in gold and suede and
Ferraris and watches.
But part of the reason that Ken Cuccinelli`s problem here is getting
better and not worse, in the sense that it`s more entertaining and that
more that way, is because Ken Cuccinelli at least so far is keeping all of
the stuff he got.
When Bob McDonnell finally broke down and hired a team of professional
apologists and spinners to try to deal with this gift-gate problem he is
having as governor, the first thing they made him do was to give the money
back and say he was sorry. Then they made his daughters give back the
money they got, too. No word yet on the suede jacket and the handbags that
went to his wife. No word on the Rolex, actually, either. But, hey, at
least they`ve given some of it back. Baby steps.
And although Ken Cuccinelli took Bob McDonnell`s lead when it came to
accepting gifts like those while he was in office, Ken Cuccinelli has no
yet picked up on the how to make it seem better after the fact strategy.
Ken Cuccinelli who is now running for governor acknowledges getting $18,000
in gifts from the same guy who gave so much of the stuff to Bob McDonnell,
free vacations, free plane trips, a big $1,500 thanksgiving dinner spread
for his family.
And Ken Cuccinelli has been criticizing Bob McDonnell for taking these
gifts. He`s trying to position himself as if he`s the big ethics guy in
Virginia politics now, which is amazing. But even as he`s trying to
position himself that way, Ken Cuccinelli is not giving the gifts back,
himself. He is keeping them.
He said last week there is no way he can repay gifts like these, since
he`s already taken them. He said there are some bells you can`t unring.
How can you pay back a dinner? You`ve already eaten it.
The fact the governor had his daughter repay the $15,000 dinner the
guy bought for her does not seem to have sunk in with Mr. Cuccinelli. You
don`t have to cook for the guy, Ken. You just have to pay for what it was
worth when you ate it.
Today, when pressed about it again, it finally seemed to be maybe
dawned on Cuccinelli what was expected from him in a situation like this.
He said, quote, “You mean, just write a check?” Yes. He said, “If I could
do that, I just might do that but that`s not something I can do from my
To further clarify what the gubernatorial campaign meant, the
Cuccinelli campaign followed that up with this explanation, quote, “as a
father of seven children, like most Virginians, he needs to manage a family
budget and his comment simply reflected that reality.”
So, the reality is Ken Cuccinelli cannot give back the gifts he got
while in office because, well, he and his family, they ate them. So, they
get to keep them.
Happy Friday, Virginia. It is going to be a long, interesting August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American
Samolia. Mr. Fing – Folumabinga.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was the Faleomavaega heard around the world. The man who
set off the Folumabinga, that congressman is back in the news today as is
the other congressman who he called Fing – Folumabinga. That`s coming up.
My favorite story of the day.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a free-standing clinic in Toledo, Ohio. It`s called
the Capital Care Network of Toledo.
Until recently, until less than two weeks ago, this clinic had a
transfer agreement with the nearby University of Toledo Medical Center.
So, if something went wrong at the clinic with one of the patients there,
the medical center could accept the clinic`s patients. They could be
transferred there for further care.
Things like that only happen very, very rarely at a clinic like that,
but they did have that agreement with hospital in place, until July 31st.
The agreement with the hospital expired that day. And thanks to Ohio
Governor John Kasich and the Republicans in the Ohio state legislature,
that agreement between that clinic and that hospital cannot be renewed.
At the end of June, Ohio Republicans passed a budget that contained a
whole new slew of Ohio antiabortion laws. These laws were not debated.
They were not proposed as regular legislation to go through the committee
process on all that, they would just slip into the giant budget with no
mention signed by John Kasich, and now they are law.
And part of the new law bans that local hospital from keeping transfer
agreement they used to have with that local clinic. The law says the
clinic cannot stay open without that transfer agreement. And then the law
makes it illegal for the hospital to sign that transfer agreement with the
clinic. It`s tidy, right?
So, you make the law require something then you change the law to
prevent you from getting that thing. And by virtue of the fact you don`t
have that thing, you get shut down.
There used to be two clinics that provided abortions in Toledo, but
the other one was shut down by the same provision in the law two months
ago. That clinic had been around for 30 years. It had been bombed and
protested and forced to move three times, but it had always kept its doors
open. Until it shut down in June because this new transfer agreement,
TRAP, in Ohio law.
Now the other clinic in Toledo, the last remaining clinic in Toledo is
getting shut down, too, by the same law. You hear people talk about TRAP
laws. This is the kind of TRAP they mean. Require a clinic to have
something, and then ban them by law from having it. And you shut it down
because they don`t have it.
This is how Republican legislators and governors are banning legal
abortion in our country whenever they`re in power, Roe versus Wade, or no
Roe versus wade. Prior to this summer, Ohio had 13 abortion clinics. By
the end of this summer, thanks to John Kasich and the Republican
legislature, it looks there will not be 13 clinics left but 11 clinics
Ultimately, this new Republican law is expected to whittle down the
number of clinics in the state of Ohio to maybe eight? Half of them gone.
You think they`ll stop there?
Since the November election, so less than a year, Republicans in state
governments have been passing laws to shut down abortion clinics from coast
to coast. Texas had 42 clinics that provided abortion services.
Republicans passed new restrictions this summer that will probably shut
down 37 of those 42 clinics.
Wisconsin had four clinics. Republican governor in Wisconsin is
slated to bring that number from four down to two. Mississippi has just
the one clinic in Jackson. That one, the Republicans are fighting to close
that one down as well and it seems like they may be close to doing it.
In North Dakota, same deal. There`s one clinic for the whole great
big state. This spring, Republicans passed a law that aims to shut down
that one last clinic.
In Alabama, there are five clinics that provide abortion services.
Republicans passed laws in the spring that would close three of the five
clinics. In Virginia, the number of clinics right now is at 20. It`s
slated to go to four.
In North Carolina, 16 facilities, Republicans passed new restrictions
that are expected to close 15 of those, 15 of the 16.
So, this is before the Republican Party in North Carolina launched its
efforts to shut down clinics and this is likely to be after. It is
sometimes difficult to explain this larger trend of Republicans creating
these new impossible to meet demands on abortion clinics. These legal
requirements designed to shut clinics down.
In the abstract, it is sometimes hard to picture exactly what that
means. In the specific, though, when it is actually happening, it seems
very, very crystal clear.
Joining us now is Connie Pillich. She is an Ohio state
representative, a Democrat. She is running for Ohio state treasurer.
Representative Pillich, thank you for being with us tonight. It`s
nice to have you here.
STATE REP. CONNIE PILLICH (D), OHIO: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, how likely do you think if is this clinic will be forced
to shut down? The reporting today can the “Toledo Blade” made it seem like
it`s basically a done deal.
PILLICH: I think that`s accurate. It`s very likely that it will be
shut down. Governor Kasich and his friends in Columbus have made it
virtually impossible for this clinic to obey the law and stay open.
MADDOW: With the only two clinics in Toledo being shut or about to be
shut by the provision in the law, what will women in Toledo do if they want
to access abortion services?
PILLICH: Well, clearly, these provisions in law create quite an undue
burden on women who are seeking safe and legal medical procedure. So
they`re going to have to travel. They`re either going to have to go to
Detroit, Cleveland, or Columbus. Those are the closest places.
But what is also extremely possible is that some illegal operation
will set up shop to try to satisfy the needs there.
MADDOW: One of the things that makes a big practical difference to
women who have to travel a long distance in order to get an abortion is the
length of time they have to spend away once they have made the travel.
Obviously if you can go somewhere close to home, the time you have to spend
isn`t as much of a burden as if you have to travel to some far away city.
Does Ohio have a mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortions?
PILLICH: Ohio has a 24 hour waiting period. For the women in the
Toledo region who have to travel several hours away, this, of course, not
only gives them transportation expense with the price of gas. If they have
to stay overnight, they`re going to have to pay for lodging or they`re
going to drive home for several hours and then drive again back the next
day or whenever their next appointment is.
Unfortunately, many of the women in Ohio who do seek an abortion are
already mothers. They have children at home. And most of those women are
So, they may not have the support system at home to help them care for
their children, so this is definitely creating an undue burden. In that
respect, I think becomes an unconstitutional provision.
But, look, this – this is playing out, as you said, it`s just another
in a long string of attacks that are atrocious invasion of women`s health
that were snuck into the budget and other pieces of legislation most of the
time with very little debate or even public knowledge. And I actually
wrote an op-ed for “The Huffington Post” about this which is on my Web
site, conniepillich.com. People can read it there if they choose. What`s
clear is it`s a deliberate concerted effort to make women have less access
to safe and appropriately available medical procedures.
MADDOW: What you just mentioned there about the lack of debate, that
does seem to be one of the important things about what`s happened in Ohio.
Obviously, we are seeing this push from anywhere across the state, anywhere
across the country where Republicans are in control. We`re seeing them
shutting down clinics and doing everything they can to try to get rid of
abortion in their states.
But in Ohio, the fact it was all passed as part of the budget, that
there was never some omnibus antiabortion, run through the legislature,
debated in full and the state had time to realize this was happening, do –
is there a sense in Ohio that maybe people didn`t know this was coming? I
mean, Toledo is likely to have no access to legal abortion very soon and
it`s going to start happening in other big parts of the state shortly as
this law kicks in.
Is Ohio ready for this? Do people know this is happening?
PILLICH: I don`t think people know that much about this, and clearly
other clinics will be targeted in much the same way that the Toledo clinics
were. But when you put these provisions into the budget and when you do it
the way it was done this year, sometimes slipped in almost in the middle of
the night with no chance for any debate, it`s just really an egregious
abuse of power.
And they – it has nothing to do with promoting public health or
making sure that our women can lead safe and productive lives. It`s only
out harming women`s health. Women deserve to have safe medical procedures,
no matter where they live in Ohio. And this bill and these laws are making
that impossible for many women in Ohio.
MADDOW: Connie Pillich, Ohio state representative, candidate for Ohio
state treasurer, I should say. We`ll post a link to that op-ed on our Web
site that you mentioned. Thanks for your time tonight.
PILLICH: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Just ahead, the speaker of House and a reindeer
and a lawmaker from American Samoa converge in the strange political
netherworld that we call August.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Happy Friday, and happy August. After today`s press
conference, the president heads off for his August vacation today. He will
be on Martha`s vineyard in Massachusetts. Local fishing reports I checked
today seems to indicate maybe Martha`s Vineyard is hoarding the striped
bass this summer since none are make it down the cape.
President gets eight days at Martha`s Vineyard this year for his
August vacation, which is not fair because I don`t think he fishes.
August is also supposed to be recess time for Congress. Look at them
rushing to leave last week, bolting for the exits. Get me out of here.
August recess time in Congress used to mean vacation, right? Time off
from politics. Now, it means Congress rushes home not to vacation, but to
the screaming town halls, orchestrated for maximum confrontational YouTube
This newly shouty political season that we have in August with the
town halls, it can be fun as politics goes, as long as you`re not the one
being screamed at. But if you`re not just a back bencher, if you`re in the
congressional leadership, you actually have mo to deal with right now than
even just the crazy town hall think.
Recess for the leadership means traveling all over the cry to raise
money for the most vulnerable members of your caucus. So, it`s often the
new members of your Congress, the new congress critters, right? From the
marginal districts. Members you maybe don`t even know. Who you now have
to spend the whole day with raising money so they can try to keep their
It`s got to be the worst part of being in congressional leadership.
But they`ve all got to do it. They`ve all got to do it every year.
Sometimes, though, someone in leadership having to do this thankless job
ends up drawing the particularly short straw.
And that guy this year, that guy today, was John Boehner. Did you see
what they made John Boehner do today? That`s next.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That is not just a man wearing trouser socks while playing
soulful acoustic guitar, that is the Thaddeus McCotter, at the time a
Republican congressman from the great state of Michigan and a soon-to-be
presidential candidate. But alas, the man with the ha-ha-ha trouser socks
and the soulful guitar is in Washington no more.
Congressman McCotter is now former Congressman McCotter because of the
scandal in trying to get himself reelected. Most of the signatures his
campaign turned in to have him nominated for the 2012 election turned out
to be fake signatures. They were fraudulent, page after page of signatures
photocopied so clumsily because the first word had been cut off, including
the first letter of the warning about election fraud.
Since he didn`t qualify for the Republican primary on account of
having no real signatures on his qualifying petitions, Thaddeus McCotter
quit. He not only quit his reelection race, he quit Congress. He resigned
from Congress with the Facebook note headlined, “Strike another match.
Amazing Thaddeus McCotter quit the race and he quit the Congress just
four months before the 2012 election. And that timing created a real mess
in his Michigan district. The seat Thaddeus McCotter left hanging is a
totally overwhelmingly Republican district. Republicans are all but
guaranteed to win, no matter who they are.
And because everybody thought Thaddeus McCotter would have been
reelected to another term, no serious candidate dared challenged him in the
Republican primary. The only Republican in the running was this kind of
wacky perennial candidate named Kerry Bentivolio.
When Thaddeus McCotter went up in a puff of real smoke last year, it
was just Kerry Bentivolio left, a professional Santa Claus re-enactor and
reindeer herder. He ended up being a Republican on the ballot in that
absolutely Republican district.
And even by Michigan standards, he is kind of amazing. He once played
a doctor in a 9/11 truther movie called “The President Goes to Heaven.”
That is him.
I once described him as kissing a stuffed reindeer in this shirtless
photo. On closer inspection, I actually have to tell you that the reindeer
that he`s smacking on here is clearly alive and poking its head out of his
stall. I regret the error.
But Mr. Bentivolio got his name on the Republican ballot in that
heavily Republican district, and thanks to Thaddeus McCotter and the vote
fraud thing, Kerry Bentivolio won, he won a seat in Congress. The reindeer
herder went to Washington, and now, Congressman Bentivolio is amazing not
just for Michigan, but also for Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: I have a lot of people calling
me up and saying that there is all of these conspiracies and so forth and
so on. You probably heard them. Doomsday of man, civil unrest, you`re
preparing for that. Do you have any operational plans in the event there
is civil unrest, if you`re going to arrest innocent civilians and put them
in FEMA camps? Do you have any plans like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No plans.
BENTIVOLIO: The answer is clear. You have no plans whatsoever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None.
BENTIVOLIO: How about any other plans like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No plans all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kerry Bentivolio is a congressman now. He is governing one
FEMA camp conspiracy theory at a time. Anything else like that?
Republicans are working hard to keep him. Today, the speaker of the
House, the man third in line to the presidency, held a Michigan fundraiser
for Kerry Bentivolio. Price of admission, 500 bucks, or a thousand bucks
if you want to be listed as a host.
Republicans are working hard to keep Kerry Bentivolio in office. They
are raising money for him. They are dispatching the speaker of the House
to raise money for him. They`re giving him real jobs in the real Congress.
The other day, they let him run the House chamber for a while.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The speaker room, Washington, D.C., June 17th,
2013, I hereby appoint the Honorable Bentivolio to act as speaker pro
tempore on this day. Signed, John A. Boehner, speaker of the House –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What happened next may be my favorite tape on this show.
There is Kerry Bentivolio, the accidental freshman running the House
chamber, all he has to do is announce the names of his colleagues when they
come up to speak. Their names and where they`re from. And this is his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia.
Mr. Fing – Folumabinga (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Folumabinga? No, it`s actually, Mr. Faleomavaega, Eni
Faleomavaega. He has been in Congress representing American Samoa since
1989. And I don`t know how many times he has had his name mangled. But he
is a hero for the grace with which he handles it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENTIVOLIO: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American Samolia.
Mr. Fing – Folumabinga.
REP. ENI FALEOMAVAEGA, AMERICAN SAMOA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not Samolia. So great. The representative from
American Samoa lets that ride, that he was called Mr. Folumabinga and
chooses to stand up for the place he is from, and not himself.
When we called that the best new thing in the world on this show a few
weeks ago, when we saluted his resolute civility in that incident, I did
not note at the time why it was that Mr. Faleomavaega was addressing the
House that day. It turns out he was speaking out about this, the name of
the Washington, D.C. football team, which he refers to as the “R” word
because their full name is painfully racist. Getting the Washington “R”
word change their name is one of his major efforts in Congress.
He`s asked the team owner and the league to change the name. He`s
introduced a bill that would end trade mark protection for the name, on the
grounds that it is a disparaging epithet insulting to Native American
people. Change the name of the Washington “R” word. That is his mission.
Where he`s from, American Samoa, also happens to send a lot star players to
the NFL, which they`re very proud of.
But their congressman against the NFL is like David against Goliath if
Goliath has steroids and David had corn puffs to throw instead of rocks.
This is a vertical uphill fight, but I can tell you tonight that Mr.
Faleomavaega is getting somewhere, real progress at this point.
Yesterday, the Web site Slate.com said they would no longer refer to
the Washington team by their “R” word name. Their decision prompted the
editor of “The New Republic” to announce that they, too, would stop using
Today, the folks at “Mother Jones” said no more “R” word for them
either. And, yes, those are all lefty publications, you might expect. But
as Think Progress points out, the list of objectors already includes
mainstream papers like “The Kansas City Star”, and the list is growing. It
is growing now, just as another NFL season begins.
Yesterday, in week one of the pre-season, the Washington why don`t
they change their names beat the Tennessee Titans by one point. Tomorrow,
the Giants play the Steelers. Sunday, the Bills play the Colts.
Happy football season, everybody. And I hope your team has a name you
can say without wincing.
Now, you have to go to prison.
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