The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/16/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Happy Friday and thank you for being with us
There is breaking news tonight in politics. New Jersey`s Republican
governor, Chris Christie, has tonight vetoed legislation passed by the New
Jersey legislature that would have banned .50-caliber sniper rifles in the
state of New Jersey.
For context here, the bullet on the far right here, the one that`s a
lot bigger than all the more familiar bullets you might have come across in
your life, that is a .50-caliber bullet. Fifty-caliber guns are military
weapons, essentially, first marketed to the Department of Defense, capable
of shooting down jet aircraft and helicopters.
Even though New Jersey has historically been a progressive state, they
passed the first assault weapons ban in the nation, for example. These
giant .50-caliber military-style rifles are legal for sale in New Jersey.
The legislature this year passed a bill to ban this specific gun in the
state. That ban passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. It was
supported by editorial pages throughout the state.
But, again, tonight`s breaking news, in an August Friday night news
dump, traditionally a time when politicians do things that they hope won`t
get too much notice, New Jersey Republican governor and presumed
presidential hopeful Chris Christie has vetoed legislation tonight that
would have made military-grade .50-caliber sniper rifles illegal in the
Now, Governor Christie also partly vetoed a change to the state`s
medical marijuana laws tonight, sending that back to the legislature. And
he did the same thing, a partial veto, with a bill that would require
background checks for all gun purchases in New Jersey.
And hey, who knows what`s next? It`s only like 9:00 p.m. in a few
seconds. Anything could happen when you are trying to Friday night news
dump things you don`t really want to answer for. So, check back in over
the course of the night as more happens.
Meanwhile, though, coming out of Chris Hayes` hour tonight on science
and denying science and what that is costing us as a country and as a
planet, consider this happy news – on the right is Republican Senator
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. On the left, those little guys that sort of
look like caterpillars, they are a species of bug called spring tails.
What the Republican senator on the right and the fuzzy bugs on the left
have in common is plaid is in tartan. Plaid is in the pattern on Lamar
Alexander`s plaid shirt.
When Lamar Alexander ran for president in the 1990s, his gimmick, his
signature campaign trail prop was that he always wore a plaid shirt. And
when scientists first discovered these fuzzy bugs in the Smokey Mountains
of Tennessee in 2006, their kind of fuzzy, cross hatch pattern reminded the
scientists of Lamar Alexander`s plaid shirts. So, the bugs were given the
scientific name Cosberella Lamaralexanderi.
And while he got those bugs named after him in part because the spring
tails kind of look like they were also wearing plaid shirts, the honor was
also a recognition, kind of a thank you for Lamar Alexander`s long-standing
support of federally funded scientific research.
Yes, he is a conservative guy. But he is an old school conservative
guy, who believes that one of the things the government really should
invest in is science. Which these days means, ye, maybe u get a newly
discovered species of bug named after you, but it also means in your own
party, you are now an endangered species.
“The Wall Street Journal” reporting now that Lamar Alexander has just
been served notice by a long list of conservative activist group in his
home state, a letter to him and published openly, warning him that he
should not even try to run for re-election, because Tennessee conservatives
are going to primary him and turf him out of office.
Quote, “Our great nation can no longer afford compromise and
bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America needs
policy makers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who
are actively undermining those values. We urge you to conclude your long
and notable career by retiring with dignity, instead of fighting against a
serious conservative challenger, who would expose to all Tennessee voters
the actual history of your voting record.”
And it`s signed by a whole list of Tea Party and conservative activist
groups in his state.
It`s interesting, though. They don`t have a challenger to run against
him. They`re just trying to scare him out of office by the idea of a
right-wing challenger in the abstract.
Lamar Alexander has an 80 percent lifetime rating from the American
Conservative Union. He is a right-wing Republican politician, but he is
not right wing enough! And so he must be purged! He has occasionally been
known to work on legislation that actually becomes law, and that, of
course, is an unpardonable sin. For that hard work, including compromise
and bipartisanship – that hard work that has contributed to real law and
our discovery of things like new species, Senator Alexander is now being
threatened by his own species with extinction, because – irony.
That process of purging, that purification instinct, that culling of
the insufficiently ideological rigid has been a central and fascinating
feature of the post-Bush and Cheney Republican Party. After Bush and
Cheney, when it came time to pick a new presidential contender for the
Republican Party, the party first tried to graft the candidacy of an
establishment Republican on to a pretty much un-vetted, nationally unknown,
but very confrontational and very right-wing running mate – a decision
seen now as a disaster, not least by the people who made that decision.
By the time the party was ready to try again, that same instinct, that
same drive within the party brought us a primary season that looked like
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HILL, SERVING IN IRAQ: When I was deployed to Iraq, I had to
lie about who I was, because I`m a gay soldier. Do you intend to
circumvent the progress that`s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Your state has executed 243 death row
inmates, more than any other governor in modern times, have you –
MODERATOR: A healthy 30-year-old young man decides, you know what,
I`m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance. Who`s
going to pay for, if he goes into a coma, for example, who pays for that?
FORMER REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: That`s what freedom is all about,
taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take
care of everybody –
MODERATOR: But, Congressman, are you saying that society should just
let him die?
AUDIENCE: Yes! Yes!
PAUL: No –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whoo, yes! Let him die! Then vote for us!
The Republicans picked a nominee in the “let `em die” Republican
primary last year, and that nominee got clobbered in the general election.
While the Republicans also lost seats in the Senate and also lost seats in
And afterwards, there were recriminations and some long, hard looks in
the mirror. The National Republican Party convened a high-level study to
take what they said would be an unvarnished look at what went wrong and to
plan for how to fix it for the future.
Quote, “If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, voters will
continue to tune us out. We should educate Republicans on the importance
of developing and tailoring a message that is non-inflammatory and
inclusive to all.”
Quote, “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We`ve
become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded
people, but devastatingly, we have lost the ability to be persuasive with
or welcoming to those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We`ve got to
stop just providing ideological reinforcement to like-minded people.” That
was the plan from the Republican Party in March.
Now, the plan is to have the Republican presidential candidates debate
in the next cycle moderated by Rush Limbaugh. Or maybe Sean Hannity. Or
somebody else from talk radio.
Today, at the national Republican Party`s annual summer meeting, the
party chairman got a sustained standing ovation when he declared, “We are
done putting up with this nonsense!” He got a standing ovation and then a
unanimous vote by the RNC to ban CNN and NBC from carrying any Republican
presidential candidates` debates in the next election cycle.
Ostensible reason is because CNN is planning to do a documentary on
Hillary Clinton`s career and NBC Entertainment is planning on doing a mini-
series about Hillary Clinton`s life, which “The New York Times” says was to
have been produced, actually sort of written and shot and everything, by
So, FOX would produce it, FOX would make the thing, but interestingly,
that doesn`t bother the Republican Party. The chairman says they only want
to boycott CNN and NBC, because – because it doesn`t have anything to do
with Hillary Clinton. You`ve got to get rid of mainstream news
organizations having anything to do with Republican candidates, because,
instead, it`s going to be right-wing talk radio now!
They`ll do the vetting and that is how America will learn what the
Republican Party has to offer, these guys. Seem like a plan?
The reaction on the left, predictably, is ecstatic. Look at this from
“Daily Kos” today. This is the headline, “This is awesome.” Quote,
“There`s no reason for the Republican crazy machine to have to tone it
down, to have a debate hosted by anyone other than their fellow crackpots.
Raise the big top, boys, now we`re really going to put on a show.”
A Republican Party national election process moderated entirely by the
most confrontational, abrasive, take-no-prisoners, purification above all
part of the Republican base. The left, as typified by “The Daily Kos”,
with the left broadly speaking, is really psyched about this prospect, for
But the Republican Party must see some benefit to this for themselves
or they wouldn`t be doing it, with right? How do we understand what that
Joining us now is Abby Huntsman. She co-hosts “THE CYCLE” here on
MSNBC, weekday afternoon. She also served as an advisor and a media
surrogate for her father, Jon Huntsman, in his 2012 campaign for president.
Abby, good to have you here.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, THE CYCLE: My stomach cringes just watching those
MADDOW: I was going to put together a hits reel of Rush Limbaugh
calling Sandra Fluke a slut. And, Brian Fisher saying that, you know, the
holocaust happened because they were gay people. So, I was going to put
But you know what the point is here. Why is – what`s the advantage
that I`m missing?
HUNTSMAN: Look, it`s almost somewhat of an artificial threat, right?
I mean, the RNC doesn`t actually have the power to approve and to fund
these debates. So they can say that all they want, I mean, they can
convince the candidates to essentially boycott the debate, but that`s not
going to happen.
So, you know, the party, it`s frustrating, the party used to have this
– be confident in their own skin. You know, we used to have, you look at
individuals that have paved the way for the Republican Party, like Jack
Kemp. You know, Ronald Reagan, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, imagine them
in the meeting this morning when they voted not to have these debates.
What would they have said? They probably would have said, what are we
doing, guys? What are we doing? Why are we tasting time talking about
Hillary Clinton when we have to rebuild our party, when we really need to
focus on our own message?
So this is one wing of the party that you`re talking about that the
media is focusing on, but then there is another part that I feel like I`m
part of and many other Republicans are part of. And we`re watching this
play out and we`re saying, this is not where we need to be.
MADDOW: But that is what I thought, until there was a unanimous vote
at the RNC today to say NBC and CNN can`t host Republican debates. And
there is, I mean, there is a power when it comes to the Democratic election
and it`s the Democratic nominee versus the Republican nominee.
But at the Republican primary level, if NBC is going to host a debate
or CNN is going to host a debate, and the party says, we are going to strip
you of your delegates if you participate in that debate, they very well can
control that. And a unanimous vote for it, that`s what makes this the most
important politics story in the country, as far as I`m concerned.
It seems like, I thought this was a fringe thing, but it`s taken over.
HUNTSMAN: Right. But I do think the RNC represents a certain portion
of the party.
MADDOW: It is the party.
HUNTSMAN: But there are a number of Republicans, and I`ll speak for
myself, and many others, that are watching this plan and saying, this is
frankly ridiculous. If this mini-series ultimately what`s going to put
Hillary Clinton over the edge in 2012, why are we even getting in the race?
Why are we even getting ourselves involved?
Look, I understand what Reince Priebus is saying, we need to change
the debates. It only made us look bad in 2012.
MADDOW: It seems like there were too many.
HUNTSMAN: There were 20 debates, there were too many. But the
biggest problem was the content. People didn`t watch it for education,
they watched it for entertainment.
MADDOW: Which was rewarding.
HUNTSMAN: It was rewarding. So, we need to get to the point where
people aren`t watching it to watch a clown show, that they aren`t watching
it to see who could be the most conservative, who could throw out the most
MADDOW: But then why? It`s the Republican national committee, the
spokesman for the national party who is suggesting talk radio hosts as the
moderators. I mean, if you want it to not be a circus and not be
ridiculous, you wouldn`t have a right-wing shock jock be the host and say
you can`t have real reporters do it, real anchors do it.
HUNTSMAN: You know you would pay for that, though?
MADDOW: Oh, my God, I would pay for it.
HUNTSMAN: I have to say, honestly, though, having Rush Limbaugh and
Sean Hannity, I kind of wan that to happen. Because I think that would be
a moment where the party actually hits rock bottom. I think that would be
a time where they could say, you know what? We can only rebuild ourselves
from here. I`m not sure we have hit rock bottom yet. And I know I`ll get
in trouble from folks on the right.
But I know there are a number of Republicans thinking, something has
to change, something has to convince them that this is not the right
direction. This is not the direction that is ever going to get us to win a
national election again.
MADDOW: See, I think that would be exciting for a different reason,
which is that maybe somebody looking at the Sean Hannity debate or whatever
it`s going to be, the right wing talk radio debate, would confront them and
say you`re bad for the party and actually, I think we need to be led by
elected officials and not by talk radio. That`s never going to –
HUNTSMAN: Rush Limbaugh says he`s not even going to do it.
MADDOW: He`s too famous.
HUNTSMAN: He`s not even doing it.
MADDOW: Abby Huntsman, co-host of the MSNBC daytime show, “THE
CYCLE.” Abby, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much. I know
this is not the ideal place –
HUNTSMAN: Best place to find my Friday night.
MADDOW: All right. Happy Friday. And because it is Friday, and
because Abby was good enough to stay, the news gods today bring word of a
heist. Heist! We have a great heist story. And that`s next.
MADDOW: Heist! Heist! Heist.
OK. It`s a little before 3:00 in the morning, Tuesday morning, in
October of last year, in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The museum in
Rotterdam was hosting a one-week-only exhibit of a private collection of
paintings, including works by Picasso and Matisse and Monet and Gauguin. A
little before 3:00 that Tuesday morning, three men broke into the museum.
You can see them here on the security video.
By the time the alarm rang, they were on their way out again, carrying
burlap sacks loaded with seven of the most valuable works in the
collection. By the time the cops got there, the men were gone. The whole
heist took them only 96 seconds for seven paintings. Well, now we know who
those men were, because they have been arrested and they`re now standing
trial. Some of them have even admitted to being the thieves.
Mystery solved, right? But even though the culprits have been found,
the problem is that the paintings have not been found. A Picasso, a
Matisse, two Monets, a Gauguin, Lucian Freud and Mired Dahan (ph), I hope
I`m saying that right, seven paintings, worth tens of millions of dollars,
but obviously very difficult to sell. How do you fence someone`s stolen
stuff that is this unique and this well known?
And that is how these guys got caught. Despite the skill with which
they made off with the art from the museum, they apparently didn`t really
think through the rest of the caper and they got nabbed a couple of months
after the heist when they were trying to unload this stuff. Right now,
police have the thieves. They don`t have the artwork.
And that leads to the most worrying part of this whole story. Look at
this headline. “Mother`s love said to lead to burning of master pieces.”
The mother of the admitted ring leader of this crime told police that
after they arrested her boy, she took the paintings and burned them so they
could not be used as evidence against her son. Everyone is hoping, of
course, that Olga, the mom, is lying about burning the paintings. And
indeed, the day after she told police that the paintings had all been
destroyed, she burned them all, the day after she took her story back and
replaced it with a new one, actually, it was a mysterious Russian-speaking
man who took the paintings away in a black car.
But by the time she got to that story, though, investigators were
already on the way to her house to take a look see inside her house in
Romania. And they say they found material that European artists typically
use to prepare canvases for oil paintings, as well as the remains of some
pigments that artists stopped using after the 1800s.
Also, they say found copper nails and tacks made by blacksmiths before
the Industrial Revolution. That looks pretty bad for the paintings, right,
if Olga cook them.
The good news is that the accused thieves now say that Olga, the mom,
didn`t really cook them. They say the paintings were not destroyed. The
thieves` trial began this week and they say they know where the paintings
are. They haven`t been destroyed, they know where they are and they want
to cut a deal.
Do you believe the thieves? Has this been enough time to may have had
fakes made? Could that be what they`re negotiating for? What`s up with
the paint and the nails in Olga`s oven if she didn`t actually burn these
priceless paintings? How does this story end?
Good question, and it is the same question right now also for a
billion dollars worth of art that is in Detroit. Same story, minus the
Romanian lady`s oven – and that is next.
MADDOW: The most famous newspaper publisher in the history of the
United States was probably this guy, William Randolph Hearst. In the early
1900s, he was a giant of newspaper publishers. At the height of his power,
he was the publisher of 28 different newspapers all across the country,
from New York City to San Francisco and everywhere in between. In addition
to being a newspaper publishing giant, Mr. Hearst also dabbled in politics.
He was twice elected to Congress from the state of New York.
But what he really loved was art. William Randolph Hearst maintained
one of the most impressive art collections in the whole country. He
collected paintings, he collected rugs.
Oddly, he owned one of the world`s most famous collections of armor,
like knights in shining armor from the Medieval Age. He had so much armor,
that he set aside a whole hall in his house as an armor display area. And
if for some reason you would like to see the amazing armor collection of
William Randolph Hearst, you`re in luck, you can see it. It is right here
at the Detroit Institute of Arts, in the main gallery of Detroit`s
legendary art museum, they`ve got among other things, the vast William
Randolph Hearst armor collection, because he gave it to the museum as a
gift back in the mid-20th century.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the largest city-owned museums
in the whole country. It is a prize, a civic crown jewel. The Detroit
Institute of Arts houses about a billion dollars worth of art, including
original works from Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, Van Gogh,
Matisse, Picasso, Rodin, Vermeer, (INAUDIBLE) Andy Warhol, it`s a giant
list of very important art. The marble court of the museum features a
whole collection of frescos by Diego Rivera.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is amazing, it is a prize, and it is
public. It is not just open to the public, it`s owned by the public. It
belongs to Detroit. It belongs to the people of Detroit. It is part of
And over the next few months, all of the art owned by the museum, and
therefore owned by the people of Detroit, is about to be appraised by
experts with an eye towards selling it off, auctioning it off to the
highest bidder, piece by piece, scattering it to the winds.
The Riveras, the Van Goghs, the William Randolph Hearst armor – it`s
all getting inspected and appraised by Christie`s Auction House of New York
City, which was hired last week by Detroit`s emergency manager. There`s no
vote on a decision like this, the emergency manager gets to do whatever he
wants on his own say-so with anything that belongs to Detroit.
The emergency manager says this doesn`t mean he`s definitely going to
sell the contents of the museum. It just means that now he has had the
city file for bankruptcy, he wants to get a sense of how much it`s all
worth. You know, cash value. Liquidation value, just in case. Is that
legal? You might think, hey, this could be just this one guy`s decision?
The Michelangelo drawings aren`t exactly his to sell, are they? That
armor that William Randolph Hearst donated to the museum, so that public
institution, to the city, could it just be sold off now for cash?
If the museum has anything to say about it, the answer is no. The
director of the Detroit Institute of Art said this week that the museum is
prepared to take legal action if necessary to block any potential sale of
its collection. This week, supporters of the museum from all across the
country rallied to the museum`s side. They did what they call a day for
Detroit, more than a dozen art-focused blogs and Web sites, essentially
sounding the alarm about what`s happening with Detroit`s art museum, the
risk to its collection.
But because Detroit is under the control of an emergency manager
appointed by the governor, what happens to the city`s massive and important
art collection isn`t really up for public debate. It`s basically just up
for that one guy to decide. And it`s not just in Detroit that this is
happening. Democracy is dead in a bunch of different places across
Michigan, thanks to the state stripping local officials of their power and
installing, instead, individual emergency managers who rule unilaterally.
In six cities across the state of Michigan right now, including
Detroit, which is the state`s largest city, it doesn`t matter who you vote
for to represent you anymore. The Democratic process, local control of
your city, that has been abolished. Maybe.
Something interesting is afoot right now in Michigan that is maybe
threatening to turn this situation upside down. In one of the cities
that`s now under emergency management is the city of Pontiac, Michigan,
which is just north of Detroit. After the emergency manager in Pontiac
last year decided, personally, unilaterally, to yank people`s health
insurance, a class action lawsuit was filed against the city. They argued
that that one person, no vote, no hearing, unilateral decision by the
emergency manager, they argued that violated the due process rights
afforded to us by our Constitution. It violated the U.S. Constitution.
Last month, a federal judge in Michigan ruled against the lawsuit, let
the emergency manager`s decision stand.
But when they appealed the case up to the federal appeals court, which
is just one level below the U.S. Supreme Court, the people who were suing
won. They struck gold. It was an unexpected, improbable victory that
ultimately could be a really big deal, for the idea that when we have
problems in this country, the way we fix those problems is through a little
system called democracy.
And, of course, democracy is a terrible political system. It`s very
messy, it`s slow, it`s annoying. Everybody gets a say, jabber, jabber,
jabber. It`s so inefficient.
Democracy is terrible. It is the worst political system in the world,
except for all the others. That`s why we picked it.
You may remember that back in November at the same time as the
presidential election, Michigan voters went to the polls and they voted
resoundingly to repeal the emergency manager law, to repeal the
Republicans` radical emergency manager law, which stripped democracy at the
local level in Michigan, and instead install these one-man governments –
these unilateral emergency managers chosen by Republican Governor Rick
The Republicans` radically expanded emergency manager law was put on
the ballot and Michigan voters repealed it. They chose to eliminate the
In response to that, Michigan Republicans in the state capitol just
went ahead and passed a new one. They just passed a new emergency manager
law a month later, a month after the voters had repealed the previous one.
Redid basically all the things that they had done under the old law, except
this time, they did it in a way that it basically can`t be repealed.
So, screw the voters, right? Republicans know what they want. Voters
repealed it. Eh, we`ll put it back.
It turns out maybe not. This federal appeals court, in very plain
English, is now telling Michigan Republicans, not so fast. The ruling does
kick the law back to a lower court, but they`re directing the lower court
to, quote, “consider whether the Michigan legislature possesses the power
to retroactively immunize its own acts that the voters rejected by
You may also remember our coverage of how the Republicans passed this
law in the first place. I mean, after you pass a law, normally, there`s a
long lag time before the law goes into effect. Most laws in Michigan go
into effect three months after the end of the session in which they are
passed. But when Michigan Republicans pass this emergency manager law,
they decided it would go into effect immediately. Under the Michigan
Constitution, you can only do that if you have the support of two-thirds of
Republicans did not have the support of two-thirds of the legislature,
but they rushed the bill through like that anyway. They claimed they had
the votes for it to go into immediate effect, but they plainly did not.
Well, the federal appeals court is shutting them down on those grounds
now too. Saying, quote, “The Michigan legislature seems to have ignored
the two-thirds vote requirement when it gave the emergency manager law
immediate effect. The legislature has perverted the immediate effect
And then listen to this, with this is from the ruling, quote,
“Apparently, the Michigan legislature believes the Michigan Constitution
can be ignored.”
So, the federal appeals court is now asking a lower court to
essentially look into whether Republicans passed that law illegally. So,
against the voters and against the Constitution – against all the
interests our governing system is supposed to serve in a democracy.
What started off here as a small-scale dispute between angry retirees
in Pontiac, Michigan, and their emergency manager, has now grown into
something that could potentially restore small “D” democracy across that
state. Democracy has been dead in Michigan, in a lot of places in
Michigan, for a few years now. And, you know, anti-democratic fantasies
aside, it turns out that stripping people of their right to have a say in
their government is no magic bullet for fixing those places.
Take Flynt or Hamtramck, which got stripped of their local government
and they got emergency managers. Even after they got emergency managers,
the state decided that they still apparently weren`t fixed. Apparently, it
didn`t take, so the state put them under emergency management again.
Wait, I thought that was supposed to be the magic bullet. If it
didn`t work the first time, why do you think it would work the second time?
Or maybe in America`s great troubled city, citizens having a say and having
a vote is not actually the problem, and therefore getting rid of democracy
isn`t the solution.
It may be that Detroit`s emergency manager, Detroit`s unelected one-
man government, thinks that selling the city tease greatest assets,
scattering them to the winds is just what the city needs. That`ll fix
everything. But now, maybe the U.S. federal courts and the U.S.
Constitution will intervene will stop what Michigan Republicans are doing
and will it make so that one man`s whims are not the deciding factor for
what happens to these great civic treasures of one of America`s once and
future great cities.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: All hail little old ladies, who in fighting for their own
rights end up fighting for all our rights. And one of those fierce 90-
sometihng little old ladies got a big win today. This is Vivian
Applewhite. She`s 92 years old. She was 91 years old when she started
fighting the state of Pennsylvania for her right to vote.
Republicans in that state passed a new law last year that would block
you from voting unless you showed documentation that you`ve never had to
show before and that hundreds of thousands of legal voters in the state do
not have, including Vivian Applewhite. She became the lead plaintiff in a
court challenge of Pennsylvania`s voter suppression law and she got the law
blocked for the presidential election.
Well, today, Ms. Applewhite got another big win. A state judge ruled
that the law will not be in effect for elections these November either.
And now, Vivian Applewhite is pressing on, asking the court to permanently
block the law. Get out of her way.
And it turns out in the great state of North Carolina, they have their
own Vivian Applewhite, and her name is Rosanell Eaton.
Rosanell Eaton is 92 years old. She registered to vote in her North
Carolina county way back in the days of Jim Crow. She said she rode to the
county courthouse with her mother and her brother in a wagon that was
pulled by a mule.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSANELL EATON, 92 YEARS OLD: As we approached their office, there
were three white men seated. One of them looked at me and asked me, “What
do you want, little girl?” I quickly told them the story what I wanted and
what I was there for. One of the men, looking at each other again, told
me, “Stand up straight against that wall, with your eyes looking directly
toward me and repeat the preamble of the United States of America.”
Without missing a word, I did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You want to vote, little girl, stand up, look at me, and
recite the preamble from the Constitution, do not miss a word.
If you were African-American and you wanted to vote back then,
especially in the South, you might get put to all kinds of challenges,
ridiculous challenges like that. Ridiculous challenges like these ones
from Louisiana that were recently dug up by slate.com.
Quote – I can`t even say this one – “Write right from the left to
the right as you see it spelled here.” Huh?
How about this one? “Print the word `vote` upside-down but in the
Or this one. “Spell backwards, forewords. What?! You can`t do that
quick? Then you can`t vote.”
Rosanell Eaton knows what it means to want to vote even when powerful
people try to keep you from it. She has lived this. This week, she became
a named plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina,
challenging the new voter suppression laws there – the new law that`s
expected to keep her and up to 600,000 other North Carolinians from voting.
People who are legal voters, who may have been legal voters for years or
for decades, but do not have the documentation that Republicans now say you
cannot vote without.
The Republicans` new law in North Carolina also cuts early voting and
voter registration and ends all voting on Sunday.
Elections expert Rick Hasen calls North Carolina`s new law, which was
just signed on Monday, he calls it the worst voter suppression law pass in
any state since 1965, since before the Voting Rights Act put a stop to
literacy tests and poll taxes. That is the law that Rosanell Eaton, 92
years old, that is the law that she is challenging now in federal court.
But that law is only part of what they are doing in North Carolina. As
we`ve been reporting this week, North Carolina`s new Republican governor
has also stacked the state board of elections this year with Republicans,
who in turn have been stacking the county board of elections with
Republicans. And those new Republican majority boards are becoming
national news in a hurry.
Consider the case of Montravias King, a college senior at the
historically black college in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he has
lived and voted since 2009. This year, Mr. King decided that he would run
for city council in Elizabeth City. But the chairman of the local
Republican Party this week challenged his right to do that. The local
Republican Party boss told the new Republican majority board that
Montravias King shouldn`t be allowed to run for office.
And the Republican board said, that`s right. In our view, Mr. King,
you may have been living here and voting here since 2009, but in our view,
you don`t live here anymore. You are not one of us, not anymore. They
disqualified him from running.
And since it seems like the qualifications for running for office and
the qualifications for voting are identical, if local Republicans in North
Carolina can now pronounce Montravias King ineligible to run for office,
what about his right just to vote? Can they not just take away his voting
rights, his and the entire university`s?
Well, that same county Republican chairman, who successfully
challenged his right to run for office, says that he now plans to challenge
the right of students at that school to vote. And then he expects the
Republican Party will do that all over the state. Quote, he says, “I am
going to take this show on the road.”
Montravias King`s run for city council in North Carolina is about a
whole lot more than that one city council seat in North Carolina and that
one young man. It`s about something really, really radical going on in the
American South, again.
And Montravias King joins us next. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Montravias King is a senior and student activist at Elizabeth
City State University in North Carolina. County Republicans this week
disqualified him from running for city council when they voted that his on-
campus address would not count to establish his residency so he could run
for office. They also say they will now use those same tactics to go after
students` right to vote more broadly from his historically black
The Supreme Court has ruled in very clear terms that that`s illegal,
that students – college students, have a right to vote, where they go to
school. But apparently that clear constitutional direction from the
Supreme Court is not stopping North Carolina Republicans, at least not yet.
Joining us now is Montravias King.
Mr. King, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s a
pleasure to have you here.
MONTRAVIAS KING, ECSU STUDENT: Thank for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: On what grounds did the local election board object to you
running for city council?
KING: The local elections board, which is Republican-controlled, they
objected to me running for city council on the grounds of my residency,
which is currently 1704 Weeksville Road, the permanent address for
Elizabeth City State University.
MADDOW: They contend that an university address, an on-campus
address, can`t be a legal residence for the purpose of running for office.
Are they also saying that that can`t be a legal residence for the purpose
KING: In fact, that`s exactly what they`re saying, Rachel, because
the residency requirements for a candidate are the exact same residency
requirements for a voter. And I`ve been voting at the 1704 Weeksville Road
address as a student since 2009.
MADDOW: Why has the change happened? Is this because the local
elections board has changed its makeup recently? If you`ve been voting
there since 2009, this wasn`t a problem before.
KING: That`s correct. Well, this has been going on now in Elizabeth
City for some time. This has been going on, you know, as far as I can
remember, since 2008, you know, it`s just been thrust into the national
spotlight now with the passage and signage of North Carolina`s restrictive
voter ID law.
MADDOW: In terms of the voting rights of students at your school,
and, indeed, of students across North Carolina, one of the reasons people
are calling the new law in North Carolina the most restrictive voter
suppression law, maybe, since the 1960s, is in part because those voter ID
laws don`t include student IDs. Your student ID is not an appropriate ID
for establishing your ability to vote in the state.
What are your fellow students, people at your school, thinking about
whether or not they`re going to be able to vote in North Carolina?
KING: A lot of students are very concerned about it. You know, we
want to know why is it that we cannot use our student IDs, when Elizabeth
City State University is part of the UNC system, which is a state-supported
– which is a state-supported system, university in North Carolina.
So this is clearly efforts on part – on the Republicans` part to
suppress the college vote.
MADDOW: Mr. King, I know that you have been an activist. I read that
you`re studying pre-law and politics. I know that you are both a civic-
minded student and a civic-minded man. What happens here next?
I mean, the county elections has ruled you cannot run for city
council. The Republican county chairman is saying he definitely will use
the same tactics to try to go after everybody`s rights to vote from your
school. What`s going to be your response? What are you going to do next?
KING: Well, Rachel, we are definitely going to appeal this to the
state board of elections. And we are very optimistic about that. We also
are going to make sure that students are aware of what`s going on on campus
and make sure that students are registered to vote and make sure that
students understand and know that no one can intimidate them, that no one
can stop them from voting here on campus. That we – it`s our
constitutional right to vote where we attend school at.
So, we`re going to make sure the schools understand that, that no one
can stop them from voting.
MADDOW: Mr. King, there is a lot of national attention to this law.
But beyond the law, your case and what is happening in your county is like
– it is a bit of a canary in the coal mine, I think. I think alarming lot
of people about what`s happening in your state.
Montravias King, student activist at Elizabeth City State University
in North Carolina – thank you very much for talking to us. Please stay in
touch as this unfolds. I appreciate your time.
KING: Thank you. I appreciate you.
MADDOW: All right. Conspiracy theorists, you know I love you. And,
listen, no matter what you learn here in the next segment with me right
here, I want you to remember, we`ll always have Roswell. The truth is out
there and some of it is next with alcohol.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Happy Friday! Haven`t done one of these in a long time.
OK, this is Nevada, Nevada is enormous. The seventh largest state in
the country in terms of area. But that is not how we generally think of
Nevada, right? We think of Las Vegas, which is Las Vegas, and also Reno,
the capital of broken dreams.
But aside from Las Vegas and Reno, which are memorable places, and
Ely, Nevada, where I got a flat tire so I remember that. Nevada is a vast
place. And it is also pretty empty.
Most of Nevada is your property, yours and mine and all of ours.
According to the General Services Administration, 85 percent of Nevada,
roughly, is federal land. Native American reservations, wildlife
preserves, and property controlled by the United States military,
incredibly wide swath of the Nevada desert, areas bigger than the quaint
little entire state like Delaware or Rhode Island, that may technically
belong to you and me but they are not there for us to go campaign or star-
gazing. They are there for storing and testing heavy weapons.
Nevada is where the greatest fighting force the world has ever known
goes to blow stuff up. And out there somewhere, out in the dark desert,
north of Las Vegas, is a place where the extra-suspicious among us have
long believed that the United States government kept secret everything it
knows about aliens.
Area 51, the infamous Area 51, where they keep the UFOs, man, where
they have the aliens in captivity, they have since 1950s. Oh, they know.
Obama knows flying saucers loaded with hyper-intelligence creatures who
came here to be vaporized humanity and we got them in little cages there.
Yes, we know, the truth is out there.
The U.S. government has forever avoided answering questions about Area
51 and that, of course, has given conspiracy theorists plenty of room to
let their imaginations run gloriously wild for about 60 years. You can
almost always find some terrifically compelling show about Area 51 on late
night cable, complete with an official “no comment” from the government.
Except that all ended today. Today, the CIA divulged documents which
for the first time formally acknowledged the existence of Area 51. It`s
And according to the CIA, yes, OK, we admitted it exists now, but
nothing to see here. Move along. Nothing to see. It`s nothing
NBC`s Pete Williams divine from the CIA`s release of documents today,
that the long rumored UFOs at Area 51 were actually just U-2 spy planes
flying so high over Area 51 that they reflected the sun`s rays even after
dark, so people called them UFOs, instead that they look like fireballs,
but they`re really just really high up their planes.
In an email to MSNBC, a CIA spokesman says, quote, “What readers of
the CIA study will find is that the CIA tested is U-2 and A-12
reconnaissance aircraft at a site in Nevada, sometimes referred to as “Area
51.” What readers will not find are references to aliens or other
conspiracy theories best left to the realm of science fiction.”
Well, they would say that, wouldn`t they? And whether or not you
believe them, I leave that to you. But in honor of the CIA at least
admitting it`s there, tonight, Area 51 in your honor, you get a sky pilot,
which is kind of a pretty good drink.
Applejack, which is apple brandy, if you can get the bonded, which is
100 proof. That`s a really good thing. If you can`t get 100 proof
applejack, the bonded kind, then you`re going to want Calvados, which is
Frenchie but same idea. Applejack is better, though, and it`s merkin (ph).
One and a half ounces of applejack, and three quarters amount of a
nice dark rum, any nice, good dark rum, not with flavor-added please, just
dark rum. This is Gosling`s. This is delightful. You want three quarters
of an ounce of nice, dark rum. Cartoon pouring noise.
Grenadine gives you some sweetness, just a quarter ounce of grenadine,
all right? And the thing that actually makes it palatable is lime juice.
Half an ounce of lime juice. You can do a little bit less if you have a
sweet tooth, but you should grow (ph) out of that.
So, half an ounce of lime juice, and you want it to be actually from a
lime, which I realize can be difficult. But hey, you know what? Scurvy,
the root word is scourge.
Area 51 is real. So is the sky pilot, we`ll put the recipe on our
blog, and I hope you have a really, really nice weekend.
Before your weekend starts, though, you have to prison. Cheers!
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