The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/12/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Impressive observation on the camouflage
detail, Chris. I totally – I looked at the picture, myself, did not pick
it up, right? The green doesn`t make sense.
It`s amazing stuff. Thanks, man. Well done.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: All right.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK. He had more than 20 years on the force with not a mark against
him. Before last year, a sergeant with the St. Louis County police had
only ever been written up for a disciplinary infraction once in his entire
career and that was because he has once forgotten his badge. When he
showed up for work, he misplaced his badge. So, he got in trouble for
that. That had been the only time he`d been written up or had any mark
against him. More than 20 years on the force.
But then, last year in quick secession, that same sergeant got
reprimanded and dinged and punished over and over and over again. His
lieutenant wrote him up for failure to supervise saying he should have gone
to the scene of an incident to supervise officers who are under his
A few weeks later, the same sergeant was written up again, this time
for allegedly entering incorrect codes on some payroll documents. Then
they sprung an impromptu drug test on him with no warning, telling him he
was being drug tested that very day, had to take it within two hours.
Then, they revoked his access to the police-issued vehicle that he`d
been given to be his take-home car on the police force. When they revoked
his take-home car, two other sergeants from the police department showed up
at his house to take the car away from him and he says to stand over him
with their hands on their pistols, as they watched him clean the vehicle
out with his hands.
Then, after that the county decided the sergeant should be transferred
away from the district where he worked which is right near to where he
lived. Moved him to a district farther away from where he lived with no
explanation, and that, that transfer away from his home district, that, the
sergeant says, was the last straw. And he filed a complaint with equal
employment opportunity commission saying the reason he believed he was
suddenly being treated this way, after 20 spotless years on the force, was
because he was a whistleblower, because he was the whistleblower who had
previously only been known by the name Lone Wolf.
For months, someone signing the name Lone Wolf had written a series of
anonymous letters to the St. Louis County police chief. The letters
started in December 2012, and they said that a powerful and well-connected
lieutenant in that police department had been directing uniformed St. Louis
County police officers that they should specifically arrest black people.
That they should specifically target black people for arrest in specific
shopping areas in southern St. Louis County.
Lone Wolf, this whistleblower, said that this lieutenant would make
these claims out in the open. At roll call with the other officers
present, the lieutenant would say things, like, quote, “Let`s have a black
day. Let`s today stop everybody with a tan. Let`s stop everybody black at
the mall.” Quote, “Let`s make the jail cells more colorful.”
According to Lone Wolf, this whistleblower, among the uniformed
officers who were being told this by their lieutenant at the start of their
shifts at roll call, there were some black officers. Lone Wolf says the
lieutenant dealt with that awkwardness by telling those black officers,
“Don`t worry, I don`t mean you guys, you`re the good ones.”
Lone Wolf, the sergeant who was the whistleblower, later told the “St.
Louis Post-Dispatch” that he had waited months before summoning the courage
to write those anonymous letters about the behavior of his lieutenant
because he said this lieutenant had often bragged about being really well-
connected, about knowing all the top commanders in the department. The
whistleblower told the pain paper, quote, “I had no intention to take the
police department down but these things had to be stopped. When a black
person can`t go shopping at a mall, it`s wrong. This isn`t 50 years ago.”
But the sergeant who was the whistleblower and the lieutenant who he
was whistle-blowing against, incidentally, were both white men. The
allegations by the whistleblower triggered an internal review in St. Louis
County. The lieutenant denied all the allegations.
But two things happened in the course of that review. First thing:
Lone Wolf, the whistleblower, when he came forward and talked to internal
affairs, so inside the police department, they knew who had previously been
anonymous. They knew who had been the whistleblower. That, he said, is
when this chain of retaliation started against him.
Losing his take-home car, getting drug tested, getting transferred far
away from his house, getting those demerits essentially in his personnel
file, all the rest of it. He says that started as soon as he identified
himself to internal affairs – internal retaliation for blowing the whistle
on another cop.
But the investigation did happen, though, and that investigation did
give other officers on the force a chance to corroborate these allegations.
And sure enough, by the time the county police chief fired that lieutenant,
in St. Louis County, it was because that police chief, through the internal
affairs investigation, was able to find not one, not two, but at least nine
other officers who said, yes, that stuff that the guy was alleging, that
actually did happen.
The letter from county police chief to the lieutenant ultimately
firing him, that letter was leaked to the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch.” It
said in part, quote, “You were heard by at least nine officers on multiple
occasions directing enforcement actions on persons with black, tan, or
colored skin without any reference to probable cause.”
So, that police lieutenant in St. Louis County last year was fired for
what was described as his racial remarks. He did lose his job.
Apparently, that came at great cost to the man who blew the whistle on his
After the lieutenant was fired, the police chief in St. Louis County
also announced that he would also ask for new data about race and policing
in St. Louis County. He said he would contact a team of researchers at
UCLA, in California, to come in and study the St. Louis County arrest data,
to ensure that racial profiling wasn`t occurring, to ensure it basically
that police officers under this lieutenant`s command weren`t actually
following his instructions to go fill up the jail cells that day with black
It`s interesting, though, getting more data about that sort of thing,
getting more data about the risk that black people and white people are
being policed differently – I mean, it never seems like a bad idea to have
more information about something like that. But Missouri, interestingly,
already does have a ton of information on that subject publicly available,
if anybody cares to look. It`s no secret.
And there`s an interesting reason why. In the year 2000, the Missouri
legislature had a particularly bad year. It was described as a caustic
legislative session in 2000, in the great state of Missouri. But one of
the things they did pass by overwhelming margins in both the House and the
Senate that year in Missouri was a bill about racial profiling, a bill
specifically to collect data on race and policing.
In August 2000, the then-Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan and the
then-attorney general who`s now the Democratic governor of Missouri, Jay
Nixon, they were both personally on hand for the public signing of this
Missouri bill that “A,” banned racial profiling by police in Missouri, but
“B,” it also required that every police officer in the state would have to
record information about the race of the person they were stopping every
time they made a traffic stop. They have to do that in the state of
Missouri by law since the year 2000, every police department and every
police officer in the state. It`s a mandatory reporting.
And so, there`s this incredible data, incredible arrest-by-arrest data
made publicly available on the Web site of the Missouri attorney general`s
office every year and it`s well laid out. Just click on the county. Click
on the town within the county. Click on it year by year and it tells you
exactly what proportion of people stopped in every little town across the
state are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or other.
And so in, say, the town of Ferguson, Missouri, which is in St. Louis
County, you can get very specific data for each of the last 14 years about
your racial likelihood of getting stopped by police for some reason in that
particular town. And in that data, you can see over time remarkable
consistency for the racial ratio of how people who live in that town are
policed. I mean, this is official data from the state of Missouri. It`s
not some outside survey. It`s not something that somebody comes in and
does once every six years and hopes it`s a snap shot. It`s year by year by
year, arrest after arrest after arrest, every town by state by law.
It comes up with a comprehensive and detailed racial disparity index
for policing, town by town. This is basically what they found for
Ferguson. If there was no racial inflection at all to the rate at which
people got stopped, if a racial group`s proportion of the population was
exactly the same as the proportion of stops by police for that group, then
that ratio would be 1.0. That would be totally neutral. You see that mark
for the gray line there.
Here`s what that ratio actually is for black people in Ferguson. See
how much above 1.0 it is? That`s how much more likely black people are to
get stopped by police relative to their share of the population in
This is what it is for white people. Oh, look how far below that line
it is. That`s how much less likely you are to get stopped by police in
Ferguson, relative to white people share of the population in that town.
If you want to look at it another way, the most recent data for 2013,
black people made up 67 percent of the population in Ferguson, but they
made up 86 percent of the traffic stops. And that is a big disparity, just
a snapshot in time in a single year in single town. What`s actually more
amazing, how long it`s consistently been like that in that town and in
towns across Missouri, frankly.
But in that town specifically – I mean, that disparity in terms of
how much more often black people are stopped by police in Ferguson,
Missouri, is no secret. It`s not spiking any one way or another. This is
pretty much what it is, and the data about that that proves it and shows it
has been publicly available data since back in 2000. We`ve had 14 years of
knowing it`s this way.
When Mel Carnahan signed that law requiring the data to be collected
and to be made publicly available, he said this at the time. He said, “The
statistical evidence that will be created will be objective evidence to the
public as to the prevalence of this problem.” And it is, right? It is.
We have objective evidence as to the prevalence of this problem, and
the fact that it`s never changing. It turns out sunlight, itself, doesn`t
actually disinfect anything. Knowing that the problem exists, publishing
state data about the existence and persistence of the problem has done
nothing, itself, to make the problem go away.
We`re not so ashamed when we look at those numbers that we do anything
to change it. When St. Louis County had to fire a supervising lieutenant
for telling uniformed officers at roll call at the start of their shifts
that they should go out that day and make sure to arrest lots of black
people, part of the response in addition to firing that officer was to say,
let`s get more data on this problem. Well, you know, yes, the data is very
helpful to have in order to talk about what the problem is, so we can all
agree on what the problem is. But having the data, itself, apparently does
not fix anything. It doesn`t happen statewide, didn`t happen specifically
in St. Louis County.
Having the data, knowing the problem exists isn`t enough to get rid of
the problem. And apparently, public protest and unflattering attention
aren`t enough to get rid of the problem, either. I mean, it was
hullaballoo in St. Louis County, when they had to fire the “let`s have a
black day” police lieutenant, right?
But still, six months later, the NAACP in Missouri was filing a new
federal civil rights complaint against the same police department alleging
further instances of racial disparity including the way they were
disciplining their own officers. The Justice Department also has an
ongoing investigation into racial disparities in another part of justice in
St. Louis County. They have an ongoing investigation into how St. Louis
County provides legal representation to juveniles in the court system.
In Ferguson, which, again, is 2/3 black, 67 percent black, there`s no
black member of the school board. There were protests last year when that
school board with no black people on it decided to suspend the
superintendent of schools in Ferguson who does happen to be African-
The community where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a
police officer this weekend has a population that is 2/3 black. Of its 53
police officer, three of them are black. Two black women and one black
man, out of 53 officers.
And knowing that, and fixing that are not the same thing. Knowing
that, having complete data that everybody agrees is the truth about that,
apparently is not enough of an incentive for us to fix it. And that,
though, is the inescapable context for the outrage over this young man`s
death in Missouri this weekend.
One protester told “The New York Times” this today, “You have to begin
with this frustration. Treatment of these communities is not equal. In
white communities, the police truly protect and serve. In black
communities, that is not the case.”
Part of the policing complaint here in Ferguson is obviously whatever
led this unarmed 18-year-old boy whose family`s attorney said he was
wearing shorts and a tank top and flip-flops at the time, what led him to
be shot multiple times by a police officer in broad daylight. That`s part
of the problem, obviously.
But another part is how the police have responded to the protests that
have erupted after that killing. Police told local journalists turning up
to cover the protests that they`ve said flat-out to journalists showing up
to cover them, you are entering a war zone, you guys are in the middle of a
war zone. It looks like a war zone.
Police presence in the street at the time has looked like a cross
between a SWAT raid and full-scale military invasion. One CNN crew was
filming behind those militarized front lines on Sunday night in Ferguson,
and behind those lines out of SWAT gear, he caught one police officer
screaming at the protesters, “Bring it, bring it all you f-ing animals,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Racial tensions and nerves on edge. Even an officer we
caught on camera gave into his rage calling protesters animals. Listen.
POLICE OFFICER: Bring it, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Bring it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Ferguson police department had said yesterday that they,
today, would release the name of the officer who was involved in the
shooting. Today, they did say that that officer is on administrative leave
but that they have decided not to release his name. They say there have
been threats against him so they decided not to release it.
St. Louis County Police Department today did release preliminary
results of an autopsy on 18-year-old Michael Brown. The autopsy reportedly
shows Michael Brown died of gunshot wounds but police will not yet say how
many gunshot wounds. They have said in the past that they believe there
were multiple shots fired and believe no weapon was involved other than the
officer`s weapon which killed him.
President Obama released a statement this afternoon saying this, “The
death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking and Michelle and I send our deepest
condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. I
know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions but as
details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the
country to remember this young man through reflection and understanding.
We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals,
not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that`s what Michael and
his family and our broader American community deserve.”
In St. Louis County today, Michael Brown`s family continued to call
for justice in this case and a full investigation. They`ve also continued
to call for calm and to denounce anybody who has rioted or looted as the
protests have sometimes descended into anger and chaos.
In his role as president of the National Action Network, MSNBC`s Al
Sharpton spoke with the family today, spent the day with the family today,
and then publicly called for calm, saying that that was the right way to
honor this young man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK PRESIDENT: This is not a cause
for them. This is their child. This is not some prop for politics. This
is their child.
No one has the right to take their child`s name and drag it through
the mud because you`re angry. To become violent, in Michael Brown`s name,
is to betray the gentle giant that he was.
Don`t be so angry. Don`t be so angry that you distort the image of
who his mother and father told us he was.
Some of us are making the story how mad we are rather than how
promising he was. Don`t be a traitor to Michael Brown in the name of “you
Please, for justice and Michael, as the priority. I know you`re
angry. I know this is outrageous. When I saw that picture, it rose up in
me an outrage, but we can`t be more outraged than his mom and his dad. We
are not more angry than his mom and dad. And if they can hold their heads
with dignity –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
SHARPTON: – then we can hold our heads with dignity.
There are those that are saying peace, but they really just mean
quiet, because in order to establish peace, you must have fair justice for
We want real peace. We don`t want to just be told to shut up and
suffer in silence. We must have answers, and then use those answers to
guide us toward peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Reverend Al Sharpton with the National Action Network calling
for calm but not for silence. He and the family and local leaders called
for another demonstration this evening which started within the past hour.
Local leaders from the family are calling for a day of fasting and prayer
They`re also asking people who may have witnessed the shooting or may
have information about it to come forward, particularly anybody who has
photo or video evidence of what happened.
And this is kind of amazing, they`re also asking for the people who
have already identified themselves as eyewitnesses to the shooting to be
allowed to speak to the police. Think about that for a second. This is
one of the more remarkable and as yet unexplained things that`s happened
thus far in this case.
This is the young man who was walking with Michael Brown when this
altercation with a police officer of whatever kind resulted in Mike Brown
being shot and killed in the street. This young man was the guy he was
This young man was there in the moment that this happened. He was the
third person on the scene. He was the third person between the person who
was shot and the person who shot him. This young man made himself known
publicly immediately after the incident happened.
He did multiple interviews. He talked to the Canadian Broadcast
Corporation. He talked to the CBS affiliate, KMOV, in St. Louis. He spoke
with MSNBC.com. He did this interview last night with Chris Hayes here on
MSNBC on “ALL IN.”
And he told his story about what he saw. He`s told his story in a
remarkably consistent way across all of these different interviews about
what happened. He`s told it again over and over and over again to all of
these different media outlets, but that young man has not yet talked to the
The local NAACP said today that they contacted the local police on
this young man`s behalf to ask if he could please give them a formal
statement as they investigate this matter. That young man has not talked
to them yet. He`s not yet talked to anybody who is formally investigating
So, yes, there is a lot of anger about this killing, and there`s a lot
of longstanding reason to be angry about racial disparity in law
enforcement in Missouri, and in this county in Missouri, and in this town
in Missouri. But since this happened, this weekend, it`s only Tuesday, one
of the unfathomable things about this investigation is that whatever
official investigation or investigations of this shooting are supposedly
under way, they so far have not involved any one official talking to the
other person who was there at the scene. It`s bewildering.
Late tonight, that young man`s attorney, he`s now secured an attorney,
said that both the St. Louis County prosecutor and the FBI have now been in
touch to schedule interviews, but as of yet, he has not spoken to them.
Joining us now is the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National
Action Network, host of “POLITICS NATION” here on MSNBC.
Reverend Al was with Michael Brown`s family at the Greater St. Mark`s
Church in St. Louis tonight, addressing the tensions in and around St.
Louis and the Brown family`s pursuit of justice for their son.
Reverend Al, thank you so much for being with us.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about both the family and the community more
broadly. Obviously, they`ve been able – the family has been able to speak
publicly a few different times including at length on your show last night.
How would you describe they`re coping and how the community feels tonight
after we`re a few nights into this?
SHARPTON: Well, this family is absolutely heartbroken. The mother,
father, grandparents are heartbroken, but they have shown extreme dignity
and have really said they want to come forward and demand justice but also
at the same time say they do not want their son identified with violence.
We`re at a church now. There are well over 1,200 people here. And
they`re here. They should be grieving. They`re getting ready for a
funeral. They`re getting ready to see what comes of a medical examiner
looking at their son`s body which is a nightmare to them.
But they found the strength to be here tonight to say to the young
people, let us fight for justice, let not the story of my son be that it
was destruction in the city rather than the construction of justice. And
I`ve really admired the strength of his family, and as you laid out the
case, Rachel, about this city, 53 policemen in a city that is 67 percent
black, only three policemen, no blacks on the board of education, white
mayor, the white chief of police. The whole city is polarized and it`s in
that polarization that this occurred.
And I think that you have to see the whole context to understand the
anger, but what we`re saying is channel that anger to make a difference.
They want you to be destructive so they can avoid the solutions. We`ve got
to solve the problem and we`ve got to make the criminal justice system work
for people like Michael Brown. Otherwise, we`re not the country that we
claim to be.
MADDOW: Al, when you talk about the family demanding justice and
talking about fighting for justice in a constructive way here – I mean,
you`ve been involved in so many tragedies like this in the past. Families
are comfortable calling you and having you be their bridge to the outside
world, in a responsible way, in moments like this.
What – what concretely do you tell people to hope for and to work
for? What would justice look like?
SHARPTON: I tell them that first of all, you cannot ever guarantee
the outcome of a criminal case. The odds in police cases are better when
you go to the federal government for certain reasons. And that`s what
happened to Rodney King, those police are still in jail. Anthony Baez, all
federal prosecutions that were successful.
In state court, you have this relationship between prosecutors and
police, because the same prosecutors that were prosecuting the case depend
on police in that police department for all of their cases. So it is the
appearance, even if it is not always the case, it is the appearance of
they`re not as aggressive.
But what`s important in many jurisdictions, particularly in New York I
know well, you can waive a jury in a state court, so police in many cases,
as Sean Bell, waived a jury, tried by a judge, then you deal with the
politics of some judge who was selected.
In federal court, you can`t waive a jury. You have to waive it only
if the prosecutor agrees. So, you`re judged by your peers, and the
investigation and the prosecutor is not dependent on the local police for
their everyday cases. So, you remove some of the appearance there.
The reason why the federal authorities would be trusted here more is
because witnesses have said, I`m afraid if we talk to the local
authorities, I`ve got to live here when you all are gone. They will be
retribution on me. Or they won`t be aggressive.
So, I`m honest with them. We may or may not win the criminal, but
we`ve got to fight and keep it going, but we must do it in a dignified way.
Also I say we`ve got to fight for long-term change. We`ve got to deal
with policy. I will not come into a case, and I`ve never come into
situations to help unless we`re asked.
Once I agreed that National Action Network and myself will come in, we
say, what is the social policy that we`re dealing with here? And in here,
in this town, they`re talking about this young man was stopped by police
for walking in the street. With all of the gun violence, all of the drug
trafficking we have all over this country, police that are majoring in low-
level crimes saying that in black areas by some magic, if you`re a low-
level criminal, you`ll grow up to be a hardened criminal, but in white
areas we don`t go at such a high percentage.
So, what are you saying? That by some miracle the profile with them
is recreation, with blacks is criminal?
We`ve got to have one standard for everyone and when the state
attorney general of Missouri said that 86 percent of the people in this
town that were stopped for traffic was black, and only 20 percent white,
which is clearly not the way the demographics read, you`re dealing with
profiling and you`re dealing with low-level policing and we`ve got to deal
with the changing of the policy as we deal with Michael Brown`s case.
MADDOW: And the profiling data is as clear as day. It`s the state`s
own data and nobody can contest it. We`ve got 14 years of it out there for
everybody to see. That`s got to be the start of the conversation in some
Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network,
joining us live from St. Louis. Reverend Al, I know you`ve been up about
40 straight hours – thank you for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks.
MADDOW: Good luck there.
All right. Reverend`s Al continuing coverage of this and other issues
is to be found on MSNBC on “POLITICS NATION”, weeknights at 6:00 p.m.
All right. Lots more ahead tonight, including a legitimate news
reason to bring up this guy and not just as an allegory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not Mr. Lebowski. You`re Mr. Lebowski. I`m
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Last night at this time, the country was absorbing the shock
that comic icon and actor Robin Williams had died unexpectedly. Well,
tonight, almost exactly 24 hours later, it`s been confirmed by NBC News
that the legendary actress Lauren Bacall has passed away. She was 89 years
She lived a long life. She lived 70 years as her long life as a
public figure. She was 19 when cast opposite Humphrey Bogart in the
classic adaptation of Ernest Hemingway`s “To Have and Have Not.” Nineteen
years old playing across the biggest movie star in the world who was 25
years older than she was.
In one scene in that debut, Lauren Bacall became a certified movie
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN BACALL, ACTRESS: You know you don`t have to act with me,
Steve. You don`t have to say anything and you don`t have to do anything.
Not a thing.
Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don`t you, Steve?
You just put your lips together and blow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kind of get the sense that maybe in the script the pause
wasn`t supposed to be quite that long. On the set of that movie, Humphrey
Bogart and Lauren Bacall fell madly in love. They were married. They
became the most glamorous couple in the whole world before or since.
Her movie career blossomed in the `40s and `50s. It`s impossible to
think of film noir without her. She was the heart of the greats. Like
“The Big Sleep” and “Key Largo”, which you should watch tonight if you
haven`t seen them.
She was top of the movie business as the movies became the dominant
medium in American popular culture. At the height of her fame and
popularity and, therefore, her power, Lauren Bacall also became a prominent
voice in American politics. She was not afraid to be openly critical of
the House on American Activities Committee.
She also became a friend of President Harry Truman and the “Life”
magazine photo of Lauren Bacall atop the piano that Harry Truman was
playing became one of the greatest things you will ever see about any
Lauren Bacall had a long and enormously inspiring and successful
acting career. And she lived long and happily after her days in the movies
were over, but it never meant that she stopped being a movie star. She
defined the term. She died tonight.
I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, there`s unexpectedly big news for the chances the
Republican Party has for taking over the United States Senate this year.
Everybody thought they knew what the battlegrounds were going to be about
that this year and who was going to be fighting on those battlegrounds.
But today, that basic information shifted in more than one state. And
it shifted in one case in a really kind of sketchy way. And that story`s
MADDOW: In February, John Walsh was appointed by Montana`s governor
to fill out the remainder of Max Baucus` term in the U.S. Senate. John
Walsh was lieutenant governor of the state. He`d been head of the state`s
National Guard. He`s decorated Iraq war veteran in the Senate.
That appointment of him to the Senate was a chance for Montana
Democrats to put John Walsh on the map basically, to give him a national
stage and something that kind of looked like incumbency as an advantage
while he ran for a full Senate term starting this year. But that national
stage ultimately was the end of Senator Walsh`s national political career
after “The New York Times” reported that he had badly plagiarized a major
paper at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, right after his
service in Iraq. Last week, as you know, Senator Walsh took himself out of
the running for the race.
Montana Democrats now need to scramble to find a new Democrat to try
to hold that seat. Former Governor Brian Schweitzer quickly nixed the
idea, even though it generated lots of buzz. Other names that have been
floated include the president of Emily`s List, Stephanie Schriock and also
Nancy Keenan, who`s former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
But, also, apparently, Jeff Bridges. Yes, the actor. Jeff Bridges,
apparently, the dude lives in Montana. Over 1,000 people have signed an
online petition in favor of Jeff Bridges, U.S. senator.
He told Howard Stern, naturally Howard Stern, that his wife had put
the kibosh on his running for the Senate seat, although he professed to
being intrigued by the idea.
You know, hey, you never know. That`s what Montana Democrats are
doing right now. Praying that the dude will abide and that`s how they can
hold on to that Senate seat. And it is hilarious on one level, but the
deadline for Democrats to choose a new Democrat is next week.
And so, Montana Democrats are holding a last-second meeting this
Saturday morning to try to decide on someone. And that`s not the only
place where Democratic designs on the United States Senate just got both
weird and sketchy, because meanwhile, Democrats in Hawaii were hit with
their own curve ball last week.
When legendary Senator Daniel Inouye died in 2012, it was reported
that his expressed dying wish was that Hawaii`s governor appoint
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to replace him in the Senate. The governor
reportedly ignored that dying wish from Senator Inouye and instead
installed his own Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz.
Well, ask your karma, these things have a way of not being forgotten.
And nobody`s suggesting that Daniel Inouye was so powerful that he directed
this outcome from beyond the grave. But on Saturday, Democrats in Hawaii
did vote to oust that incumbent Hawaii governor, Neil Abercrombie, in favor
of a totally unnamed state senator named David Ige, who not only ousted a
sitting governor but who beat that sitting governor by a freaking 36-point
And at the same time, Democrats in Hawaii may have ousted the man who
Governor Abercrombie appointed to that Senate seat, defying those dying
wishes, because after being appointed to it in the first place, Brian
Schatz has to run to hold on to that seat in this primary and the person
who he`s running against is the woman who Daniel Inouye wanted appointed to
it in the first place, Colleen Hanabusa.
That primary race took place last week, but it is still too close to
call. The margin between the two is 1,600 votes right now.
But here`s the really hard to answer question. The reason that race
is too close to call is in part because of weather. Hawaii was hit by a
major tropical storm on Friday, a primary day, damaged roads and homes and
downed power lines preventing voting in two of the state`s 247 precincts.
Two precincts in an area called Puna on the big island of Hawaii.
And so, now, the state has made the decision in order to settle this
thing and decide who the Democratic nominee for Senate is, they`re just
going to hold another election this Friday, just for those two precincts.
So, now, the fate of Hawaii`s entire Senate race rests in the hands of
approximately 7,000 voters in two precincts who have not yet cast a ballot
in this race. And who are getting to cast their ballots in this race after
everybody else, knowing that the whole Senate race now depends on them and
knowing the exact size of the margin they need to make up as a group if
they want one of the other of the two candidates to win.
That`s weird. And the question is, is that fair? And if that isn`t
fair, what would be fair?
I mean, appointments to the Senate are almost always weird and very
frequently mismanaged, but this is a real election, a real primary that
will likely determine who goes to the United States Senate from this state
because Hawaii is such a Democratic state. I mean, naturally, now both
Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz are is in these last two precincts, both
helping with cleanup efforts after the storms, but also campaigning, in the
days leading up to this suddenly shockingly important tiny new election
that`s going to take place on Friday.
Is holding a new election for just those two precincts fair to either
candidate? Does it advantage one of the other of them? Should we expect
more voters than usual to go vote now that they know just how much more
important their votes are? These are high stakes under normal
circumstances but these are very, very high stakes under very abnormal
Is it fair?
Joining us now is B.J. Reyes. He`s a political reporter for the
Mr. Reyes, thank you very much for being with us.
B.J. REYES, HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Hi, Rachel. Thanks for having
MADDOW: So, looking in from the outside, this seems like a really –
I mean, extraordinary situation. Obviously, folks are still cleaning up in
these two precincts but the sense that there are these 7,000 voters who are
essentially going to pick Hawaii`s next senator, how is that – what`s the
reaction to that in Hawaii right now?
REYES: Well, it depends on who you ask at this point. Some of the
residents who found out because they don`t have power, from reporters, that
they were going to be deciding this race, some of them thought that was
pretty cool. There was a lot of talk – there`s a lot of talk over there,
sometimes we on Oahu feel that politics are Oahu-centric. So, it`s – they
kind of like the fact that it`s in their hands for once and now, that we
have to pay attention to them and there`s even a couple comments from
people that say, now, we`re going to get to decide and that`s pretty cool.
MADDOW: In terms of the way that we should expect this to go, we know
that Brian Schatz appears to have about 1,600 vote lead heading into this
tiny special election. Is it clear to you which candidate would have the
advantage under normal circumstances in this part of Hawaii or which
candidate might be advantaged by this very strange situation?
REYES: It`s hard to say who would have the advantage under normal
circumstances. You mentioned there`s about 7,000, 8,000 people in the
district who would vote, about 5,000 people who voted in 2012.
Now, in that district, there`s four precincts total. Two were able to
vote. Two of them, the precincts did open and Brian Schatz won those
districts. So, he`s up overall by 1,600 votes. So, Colleen Hanabusa has a
very big hill to climb. She would have to win a lot of the turnout and
she`d have to – she would benefit by a higher turnout by getting more of
the people to vote.
If the turnout is somehow suppressed by people not being able to vote,
then obviously that would benefit Brian Schatz, because she has to win a
greater number of the people that do actually vote.
So, they`re over there right now. They`re trying – it`s a very fine
line that they have to tread here by showing compassion for the people
while also trying to win their vote, and they got to do that in a very
subtle, careful way to not feel like – so people don`t feel that they`re
being pandered to.
MADDOW: Certainly. And there`s also, of course, the logistics about,
you know, roads and electricity and basic infrastructure for getting this
together in time for now a few thousand people in American politics who
have the most power of any constituency heading into a U.S. Senate race
B.J. Reyes, political reporter for “The Honolulu Star-Advertiser” –
thanks for helping us understand this tonight. I really appreciate it.
REYES: Aloha, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Aloha. Thanks.
All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Admit it, this week, these past few weeks have been filled
with lot of really heavy, frankly, really depressing news, right? We don`t
have to go through the litany, you know exactly what I`m talking about.
But at the end of the show, we have a best new thing of pure joy. A
bit of proof that not all is wrong in the world. It`s coming up next.
It`s the best new thing in the world and it`s happening right when we most
I`m very excited about this. That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: If there`s a moment in the news cycle on which we need a best
new thing in the world, I hereby suggest this is that moment. The news has
been freaking terrible lately. It`s just been a freaking disaster day
after day after day.
But this story too is in the news, and this legitimately is the best
new thing in the world. OK, ready? Ready.
In Major League Baseball, the white thing that pitchers stand on, the
pitching rubber is 60 1/2 feet from home plate, 60 feet, 6 inches. That`s
how far the ball travels from the pitcher to the hitter.
In Little League Baseball, it`s shorter, way shorter. The pitcher is
only 36 feet away from the batter, and that, if you think about the
geometry and the still of baseball, that shorter distance gives the batter
less time to identify what type of pitch is being thrown, where it`s going
and how to hit it.
So, yes, Little League pitchers may not throw as fast, but batters in
the little league have less time to react to what`s been thrown at them.
And if you want to see what they`re throwing these days over that little
46-foot distance, you`re about to get your chance, because Thursday, the
day after tomorrow is the first day of the Little League World Series.
It`s held every year in the U.S., but it is a true world series with teams
from all over the world. Eight U.S. teams, but also teams from South Korea
and Venezuela and the Czech Republic, lots of places.
But the best new thing in world happened in one of the final
qualifying games to determine which U.S. teams are going to be in the
tournament this year. It was two days ago, a game played between from
Newark, Delaware, and a team from Philadelphia. Philly is wearing dark
blue in these pictures.
Now, ultimately, the Philly team won the game. They won 8-0, which
means they`re going to advance to the World Series tournament.
But the driving force behind the Philadelphia team`s victory was their
pitcher, who threw a complete game shutout. One pitcher, six innings, only
three hits the whole game. No runs, just a completely dominant
performance. At one point, her fastball hit 70 miles an hour.
This was Sunday`s pitcher for Philly`s Little League team, Mo`Ne
Davis, a 13-year-old girl who says she`s going to be the first woman in
Major League Baseball, or the first woman in the NBA, she hasn`t made up
her mind yet.
Her fastball hit 70 miles an hour, which to the banner, to all these
boys swinging and missing as she throws it past them, I mean, if they were
on a big league field, that would be the equivalent of her throwing 92
miles an hour at them.
She throws the fastball equivalent to 92 miles per hour and she is 13
Mo`Ne Davis` coach says she could play anywhere on the field. She
does like to play in the infield, and oh, by the way, she also bats leadoff
for the team.
Philly`s first game in the Little League World Series is this Friday
at 3:00. But the best new thing in the world is their 13-year-old girl
pitcher throwing a shutout to get her team there in the first place.
Mo`Ne Davis, God bless you. And may the rest of us get out of your
way in time, on a news day and a time in the world when we really need an
equivocal best new thing in the world.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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