The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/10/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this
One of the smaller scale controversies of the last presidential
administration is that when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were in the
White House, they decide they would not release to the public the visitors
logs from the White House.
Now, a lot of people visit the White House, tens of thousands of
people every month. And, obviously, most of them are there for White House
But when you sign in, as a White House visitor for any reason, you
sign what is in effect a public document. And it`s hard to argue why
public documents like that should be kept secret. If journalists or
researchers want to figure out who was in or out of the White House on a
given day. It`s a matter of public record. But in the George W. Bush
administration, those records were sealed.
When the next president took office, that is one of the things that
the new president, Barack Obama, changed at the White House. Starting a
few months after President Obama was sworn in, the White House started
releasing big batches of the visitors logs for who was visiting the White
And these were huge files that they released, right? Tens of
thousands of people visit every month. But they released them in an
interesting way. They released them online as a searchable database.
So, even though they are dumping this data, right? This huge data
dumps, the first one was the first seven months of White House visitors
logs. It`s this huge amount of data they made public but they made it
public in a way that made it easy to slog through. You wanted to get
through that information to find newsworthy stuff, just search for people`s
individual names to see if they visited the White House.
And when that first batch of visitors logs was posted, the
conservative media ran through the database. The most scandalous names
they could think of and some of them popped. They discovered the biggest
scandal you could possibly imagine about those White House visitors logs.
Remember Jeremiah Wright? The controversial preacher President Obama
distanced himself from during the 2008 campaign? It turns out he didn`t
really distance himself from Jeremiah Wright because there is Reverend
Jeremiah Wright on the White House visitors logs.
Oh, my God. They`ve been sneaking Jeremiah Wright into the White
House. He must be secretly running the country.
Oh, no, he`s not. You want to know who is running the country? Bill
Ayers, the `60s bomber guy. Remember when they tried to tie President
Obama to Bill Ayers in the 2008 campaign and Barack Obama had nothing to do
with Bill Ayers?
Well, then, oh, yes, he doesn`t have anything to do with him, why is
Bill Ayers coming into the White House? There`s his name right there on
the White House visitors logs.
And while we`re on the subject, oh, my God, Michael Moore. Michael
Moore! Michael Moore being snuck into the White House. There`s his name
on the White House visitors logs.
And Bertha Lewis, Berth Lewis, the lady from ACORN. Also Michael
Jordan. Is Michael Jordan a scandal?
Their names are on the White House visitors logs. And this was the
“Weekly Standard”, conservative magazine reacting to this shocking news.
What a Friday afternoon news dump. I tried to warn you, America. Reverend
Wright and Bill Ayers.
More from the “Weekly Standard”. Visitors logs have two visit by
Bill Ayers, one by Jeremiah Wright.
This was from that conservative blog “Hot Air” doing some very
damning math with this very damning information. Jeremiah Wright has
visited the White House more often than General McChrystal and General
Turns out more than one person in America has the name Jeremiah
Wright. The person on the White House visitors log was not that Jeremiah
Also Bill Ayers, William Ayers, there`s more than one person in
America with that name.
Bertha Lewis, the lady from ACORN, it turns out she is Bertha M.
Lewis. It was Bertha E. Lewis who visited the White House, probably for a
tour, statistically speaking. I hope she had a nice time.
If you get 100,000 people visiting the White House in a month, mostly
as a tourist destination and then you release seven months of visitor logs
at a time, you are getting up over a half million names. You`re getting
close to 750,000 names you are releasing as part of this searchable public
document database. And when you got that many names that you are
releasing, yes, there will be some people who sound like they are public
figures when really they are not.
And the White House when they release these initial logs with these
hundreds of thousands of names of them, they realized that was going to
happen. As they released those logs, they published a blog post from a
special counsel to the president explaining that people should not get too
excited about individual names without further checking. Quote, “Given
this charge amount of data, the records were publishing today include a few
false positives, names that make you think of a well-known person but are
actually someone else.”
And you know, when that happened, the normal media, at the time,
mostly reported it that way. This was ABC News. White House posts visitor
lists. Is that the Bill Ayers? No.
Here`s “The Washington Post” making the same point about the false-
positives in what might appear to be well-known people`s names but aren`t
actually those well known people.
Here`s “The New York Daily News” managing to be tabloidy about it and
also accurate. White House visit list includes Bill Ayers, Jeremiah
Wright, Michael Moore, semicolon, names don`t match controversial figures.
So, that`s perfect, right? So they get the bold face names up there.
They get the scandal right up there in the headline and then they tell you,
actually, this is not a scandal.
But that is an accurate way to report what did or in this case did
not happen. That`s how it happened in the normal media.
Didn`t go that way in the conservative media right? The conservative
media, they lost their minds. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN. Michael
Jordan. Is Michael Jordan a scandal?
That was 2009.
In 2010, conservative media posted online this video of an official
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture giving a speech to the NAACP. They
said this was video evidence of racism from a federal appointee. They
posted an edited excerpt of this speech by USDA official named Shirley
Sherrod. And in the edited excerpt that they posted, she appeared to
describe how to discriminate against white people at the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. How the government could favor black people and hurt white
people on purpose.
And conservative media posted it. The normal media picked up and ran
with the story for a little while because it was making noise on the right.
Despite the woman`s protest that was not at all what she said in that
speech, the Agriculture Department went ahead and fired her from her job on
the basis of this tape that had been posted by conservative media.
It turns out the excerpt they posted of Shirley Sherrod talking about
racial discrimination by the government was part of a long parable she was
telling about why racial discrimination by the government is a terrible
thing that should never be done. That was the point of her speech.
It wasn`t that she was saying government should discriminate. She`s
saying government should definitely not discriminate like this.
So, once the full tape was posted, everybody was very embarrassed.
The Department of Agriculture rescinded firing her, offered her her old job
back. Maybe you`d like a different job.
There were lawsuits about this. There`s a lot of hard feelings.
Groups that came out and initially criticized Shirley Sherrod based on what
the conservative media said she said, they had to retract their criticism
and uncriticized here.
The NAACP, they said that they had been – they felt they had been
snookered into criticizing her when the initial tape came out. They felt
So, that was 2010.
Right before that 2012 election, a great one, where the conservative
media reported with huge fanfare and huge drama that Senator Bob Menendez
of New Jersey had been caught red-handed in a huge prostitution scandal in
the Dominican Republican. And when I say “caught red-handed”, I mean
Conservative media found three women who said they all had sex with
Senator Menendez for money themselves. I mean, this was a huge scandal
they turned up about Senator Menendez until the women all said, actually,
no, they didn`t actually have sex with Senator Bob Menendez for money.
Somebody paid them to say that they did.
But, still it was great for a really great day on the conservative
blogs while everybody believed it for a second.
Right after the 2012 election, this was a great one, Wonkette.com
about this today and I have forgotten about it until I saw their reference
to it today.
So, the Bob Menendez thing was the lead-up to the 2012 election.
Then right after the 2012 election, conservative media lost their minds
over something that happened in Florida, especially in St. Lucie County,
Florida, where something obviously went totally wrong, very obvious voter
fraud in the 2012 election, stuffing the ballot box for President Obama.
It was President Obama and the Democrats stealing the election in the swing
state of Florida.
You want to know how they know it happened? Because they had proof.
They published proof. They had on-the-ground reporting that 140 percent
voter turnout had been recorded in one Democratic-leaning county.
St. Lucie had 140 percent voter turnout. How do you get 140 percent?
You can`t get more people than are registered to vote a country. That`s
crazy. That`s obvious fraud.
So, that`s how President Obama stole the election, 140 percent.
It turns out what that actually was roughly 70 percent voter turnout
but the ballot was two pages. So if you count each page as its own ballot.
Math is hard, Barbie.
Last year, the Friends of Hamas scandal. Chuck Hagel is going to be
confirmed as defense secretary. There was little Washington kerfuffle over
him turning in his final disclosure statements around the time of his
In the course of reporting on that kerfuffle, one reporter basically
said sarcastically, what, do you think he got paid by Friends of Hamas or
something? So, then you get in conservative media, sources say Chuck Hagel
was paid by Friends of Hamas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a report that came out last week, not
confirmed yet. But they`re also not denying it very vigorously that one of
the groups might have been an outfit called Friends of Hamas. That is not
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That has a ring to it, doesn`t it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, here`s the problem, with any of this, if
he is confirmed –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Friends of – an outfit called Friends of Hamas.
Friends of Hamas is not a thing that exists. The whole idea of
friends of Hamas was a joke that the conservative media ran with as if this
was a real group that really was paying the U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel. Friends of Hamas.
This is like when Mitch McConnell fell for the report that said
Guantanamo prisoners were getting GI Bill benefits. He wrote, Senator
Mitch McConnell wrote to the Pentagon for clarification on this very
troubling report about Guantanamo prisoners getting GI Bill.
There`s very troubling report and it had been written by a comedian
because it`s funny. They didn`t it was funny. They think it`s new.
Now we`ve got a new one. President Obama this weekend made his
formal announcement that his nominee to succeed Attorney General Eric
Holder is Federal Prosecutor Loretta Lynch from New York.
The day that President Obama made that announcement at the White
House, conservative media posted a very exciting and somewhat damning new
exclusive scoop about Loretta Lynch. Quote, “There`s one case Lynch was
involved in that few are talking about.”
See, sure, the lamestream media doesn`t want you talking about this.
That`s why we have the brave conservative media to dig this stuff out and
tell America`s hard truths that the lamestream media.
Quote, “Loretta Lynch was part of President Clinton`s Whitewater
defense team in 1992.” That`s what they don`t want to talk about. She`s
part of a Clinton scandal. Sure, nobody really remembers what that scandal
was because it`s not clear what the scandalous behavior was, but it
definitely was scandal-ish, and she was right in the middle of it and the
lamestream media will not tell you that. They`re covering it up.
They published that on Saturday. On Sunday, they published a follow-
up story. Basically, hey, this Whitewater scandal thing about Loretta
Lynch is a really big deal. Quote, “The connection to Whitewater ought to
provide additional fodder for Republicans during Loretta Lynch`s
Why won`t the lamestream media tell the truth, the ugly, ugly truth
about Loretta Lynch being a lawyer for the Clintons in the Whitewater
The reason the lamestream media won`t tell the truth about that is
because the Loretta Lynch who was just nominated to be nominated to be
attorney general, she was not the lawyer involved in the Whitewater
scandal. It was a whole different Loretta Lynch. It was the nice lady on
the left who has absolutely nothing to do with the attorney general nominee
on the right. They are both named Loretta Lynch.
So that led to lots of sad headlines today. Breitbart`s attack on
Obama attorney general nominee goes after the wrong Loretta Lynch.
“Washington Post”, Breitbart news attacked the wrong Loretta Lynch.
It used to be the wrong Bertha Lewis. Now, it`s the wrong Loretta Lynch.
Feelings kind of the same though, isn`t?
There was a whole new round of press hilarity over this today when
the outlet that was pursuing this line of attack, the Breitbart news, when
they tried to save face by adding a correction to their story. They wanted
to leave the story up because it was such a great scandal. But they knew
they had to sort correct it.
They left up the headline. Obama`s attorney general nominee Loretta
Lynch represented Clintons during whitewater, but then brackets, corrected.
Then they left the story intact about how Obama`s nominee to be the
next attorney general represented the Clintons in Whitewater. So, we`ve
got that headline, they got that picture of her. They got the whole story.
You get down to the end and then you get the italicized slight
correction at the bottom. The Loretta Lynch identified earlier as the
whitewater attorney was in fact, a different attorney.
Still, though, great story, right? Clearly for a while they thought
adding this correction to this would give them a way to keep the story up.
Eventually they took it down off that Web site.
But here`s the important thing. It`s still out there. The story is
still up right now, a scandal on “World Net Daily”. One of my favorite
conspiracy theory Web sites about the Obama administration.
Today, I got my regular morning e-mail asking for money so
Republicans will impeach President Obama. This is from teaparty.net.
They have a clip from FOX News about how President Obama is going to
be impeached. He may not have a strategy but we do. Impeach Obama. Click
here to donate.
The list of scandals with corruption goes on and on within the Obama
administration. Nixon was threatened with impeachment for less. Had
enough? Click here to donate.
Do you want to learn more about the terrible scandals of the Obama
administration, why should click here and donate money to us so we can get
him impeached? What are those scandals? Look. Look. Obama`s attorney
general nomination Loretta Lynch represented Clintons during Whitewater.
It leaves. It leaves.
There`s a parallel universe in our politics where this is what the
news looks like. No matter how stuff gets corrected or laughed at or even
occasionally ignored in the real media, on the right, this is what the news
looks like and this stuff never dies. We`ve got a lot going on of
substance in American politics and American government. There`s a war on
President Obama wants to double the deployment of troops to Iraq. He
wants a vote on funding and authorizing those mission before those extra
The president also wants several billion dollars in funding for the
fight against Ebola. We just learned tonight that the last U.S. patient
with Ebola, Craig Spencer, he has recovered from the disease. He`s going
to be going home from New York City tomorrow.
Pending in Washington right now is this big request for how the U.S.
government is going to fight this both at home and globally. The president
just made this big dramatic announcement about net neutrality. As soon as
he made this announcement, the Republicans basically declared war on
And so, apparently, we`re going to have a really big fight on that
where the White House wants net neutrality and the Republicans don`t.
All the spending bills are coming up, so there`s the basic work that
needs to be done in Congress to keep the lights on, to keep the federal
government funded. That used to not be a controversial thing but they
sometimes have a hard time with that now.
Oh, and now, there`s this matter of needing to confirm a new attorney
general of the United States. Loretta Lynch, the nominee. Yes, that
Loretta Lynch. She has come before the Senate twice before for
confirmation as a federal prosecutor. There was not a single vote against
her either of the times she`s been confirmed by the Senate in the past.
But if you want to know why even the basic stuff can`t get done, why
even the easy stuff is impossible in Washington now, it`s this parallel
universe that we`ve got. Conservatives have built themselves a very
popular, very successful media landscape that doesn`t just tell
conservatives things they want to hear in terms of opinion. They just make
stuff up. They make up news stories that aren`t true and when they get
corrected in other places, they never disappear from the conservative
And this is not just now but increasingly what American conservatives
consume as their news diet. This is what they think news is. This is
their information stream.
In a world in which everybody was operating from the same set of
facts, which are facts, the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as an attorney
general is a mildly interesting process story. In our insane world,
though, in which conservatives do not operate from the same facts that
everybody else does, they operate from an information diet that says these
two women are the same person or might as well be – in that world, which
is our world, the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general is
going to become the most fascinating thing an Earth, because who knows what
they`re going to make up, next.
MADDOW: A YouTube video posted earlier today from Russia. Residents
of Moscow today apparently woke up to this loveliness, which also brought
with it a noxious rotten egg stench throughout the city that was apparently
traceable to hydrogen sulfide gas. The emergencies ministry in Moscow told
people to close their windows and stay inside in order to avoid this stink
in the city.
Later in the day, they said while the smell remained unpleasant it
was, quote, “not unsafe to breathe.” The emergencies ministry blamed the
stench on faulty air filters at a nearby oil refinery. The refinery owner,
though, is denying it`s their fault. Others suggest it may be coming from
a wastewater facility. So, who knows?
Nobody has fessed up to it yet. But Moscow did have a really big
ugly stink today.
In Beijing, China, a day with a big ugly stink is any day that ends
in “Y.” This was the Beijing marathon three weeks ago. The air pollution
so bad, marathon runners had to wear respirators. They washed the runners
down at the end of the race because their skin had been exposed to the
toxic Beijing air for too long.
The air pollution has been terrible in Beijing recently, and that is
particularly terrible and embarrassing for China right now because, today,
20 world leaders arrived for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit,
the APEC Summit.
To avoid those world leaders having to wear respirators and get hosed
down, Beijing pulled out all stops to try and unsmog the air before the
summit. They shut down factories and other industrial polluters. They
closed down thousands of construction sites.
They forced half the city`s private cars off the road. They told
government workers to stay home for six days. They closed schools. They
even shut off central heating in the college dorms.
Beijing basically shut down a significant portion of that huge city
so they could promise temporarily blue skies and breathable air for
President Obama and the other world dignitaries arriving for this summit.
It didn`t work. Today, the first day of the summit, the air in
Beijing was still very polluted, considered unhealthy to breathe throughout
most of the day. We know that because the U.S. embassy in Beijing tracks
air quality levels on their Web site.
You can see that those levels for today, throughout the day today,
were mostly unhealthy. And that is not at all what Beijing wanted. They
thought they took care of this problem. But what they did just didn`t
Plan B to fix this problem? To sensor it. To sensor the air.
Usually people in China can see that air quality data from the U.S. embassy
on their smartphones or on other Web sites. But, today that data from the
U.S. embassy, look, not available, was blocked from other Web sites and
smartphone apps in China.
You can see it on this app here, U.S. embassy, not available. Now
that the summit has started, the apps today only show air quality readings
provided by the Chinese government which “The New York Times” notes today,
quote, “tend to provide a rosier portrait of pollution levels.”
So, no worries, folks, clear skies ahead.
In spite of that less than blue sky today, the APEC Summit in Beijing
did begin as planned. In his remarks to the summit today, President Obama
discussed the importance of China in a growing Asia-Pacific economy. He
also offered a couple delegate pointers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, ensuring
the continued growth and stability of the Asia-Pacific requires more than a
focus on growth on trade and investment. Steady and sustainable growth
requires promoting policies and practices that keep the Internet open and
accessible. Steady and sustainable growth requires a planet where citizens
can breathe clean air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A planet where people can breathe clean air and policies
that keep the Internet open and accessible.
Keep in mind, President Obama made these remarks today in Beijing
where the air quality is noxiously terrible and smoggy, and where the
government tried to prevent people today from finding out just how noxious
and unhealthy it was by in part, taking over the Internet.
But on that same day, President Obama was in China talking about the
Internet, the White House also unveiled this thing about the Internet here
in the United States. Look. President Obama`s plan for a free and open
President Obama making the point in a taped statement released here
today that big companies like our corporate bosses – hi, Comcast – they
should not be allowed to block or limit access to or speed up or slow down
the Internet. The president today urging the FCC in pretty blunt language
to set new rules to protect net neutrality.
As if on cue, Republicans tore into this idea. House Speaker John
Boehner released an idea saying net neutrality hurts job creation. Soon-
to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell contended that net neutrality
would stifle innovation.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas denounced it as Obamacare for the Internet.
The Internet has health insurance now?
As Republicans gear up for the next session of Congress when they are
in charge, is this what they are all going to be fighting about?
Joining us now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for “Huffington
Ryan, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, was this – you`ve been reporting on this for a long
time. People who have been watching this issue closely, was this sort of a
fait accompli from the president today? Did we know that this announcement
from him was coming?
GRIM: Absolutely not. You know, during the Africa summit, he made
some comments that favorable about net neutrality that said there ought to
be an open Internet and there ought not this fast lane that places like
Comcast and Time Warner would like to see happen.
But the idea he`d step out as far as we did today was quite
remarkable. And basically, he said today that net neutrality should be
regulated like a utility under Title 2 is the technical term. In other
words, that the Internet is a public utility like water and roads, and
therefore, the government has a rule to ensure that everybody has equal
access to it, and that was quite a stunning remark for him to make and it
really forces the hand of the FCC now.
MADDOW: Well, yes, substantively on this, as policy, I mean, the
president did come out with this very blunt statement on it today. The
Congress pushed back. The Republicans in Congress pushed back in pretty
stark terms. But as policy, the president and Congress don`t really get to
decide this, right?
MADDOW: It`s the FCC. What happens next there? What should we be
GRIM: It most likely will be on December 11th is when the FCC has
its next meeting. This is what`s fascinating about the way the government
is going to be working more and more as we go forward. As congressional
dysfunction basically becomes malfunction, you`re going to see power
devolve to these regulatory agencies to the administration and the FCC is
one of them. So, the FCC will decide, December 11th – it will probably
vote 3-2 to back up what the president says.
Now, remarkably, they don`t have to. You know, they could, even
though they are sort of part of the administration. They could buck the
president on this. But there are two strong Democratic commissioners and a
So, in all likelihood, even though the chairman is somewhat reluctant
to go as far as the president suggested he do, he probably will go there
because it`s almost politically untenable for him to buck the president at
MADDOW: And the president being so blunt about his political
position on this really puts the pressure in a way that wasn`t there
before. Fascinating stuff.
Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for “Huffington Post”, Ryan,
thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
GRIM: Thank you.
All right. Stay with us. We`ve got a lot to come in today`s show,
including a live report from Richard Engel who is now the first American TV
network journalist to report from the scene of some of the worst fighting
in the war against ISIS. What Richard has just done and just filed is
incredible. We`ve got that, plus him coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, this is not the best new thing in the world but I want
to show you. Keep an eye on the top right-hand part in this video. Watch.
That is not the best new thing in the world. We have a best new
thing that is best it`s better than this. And you want to know what this
is? This is video of a freaking meteor falling, spectacularly at a Modest
Mouse concert in Texas this weekend.
That happened and somebody randomly happened to catch it on video
while they were filming Modest Mouse playing “Dark Center of the Universe.”
And that is still not as great as the best new thing in the world
today. It`s so good, tonight`s end of the show.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is sound that we never had access to before. The voice
you`re going to hear is H.R. Haldeman. He was Nixon`s White House chief of
staff. He`s the one who went to prison for 18 months because of Watergate.
And you`ll hear his voice here. He`s talking about a woman named
Rose. We think maybe Rose is Rosemary Woods, President Nixon`s personal
secretary. We don`t know for sure, though. Listen to what he says.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
H.R. HALDEMAN: He had some more (EXPLETIVE DELETED) from Rose about
the fact that she had put her phone calls through Chapin. Her car was not
far enough up in the motorcade and her room placement was bad on the China
trip, which has certainly thoughtful of her to burden him with at this
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Certainly thoughtful of her to burden the president with
That`s President Nixon`s chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, lamenting in
his audio diary for the day that a person we think is Rosemary Woods had
been complaining directly to the president about things like her car and
her accommodations on a presidential trip abroad. That was from February
As White House chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, apparently kept
voluminous audio diaries, and his audio diaries have just been declassified
and released to the public by the Nixon Library. They`re amazing. We`re
just starting to go through them. We posted a link to them at Maddow blog,
so you can, too, if you`re interested about the transcripts and the
But even just randomly dipping into that, you know, picking a day,
reading the transcripts, or listening through some of it, it is incredible
stuff. Here for example is H.R. Haldeman discussing a potential Supreme
Court nomination from President Nixon.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HALDEMAN: On the court, he came up with the idea of Byrd of West
Virginia because he was a former Ku Klux Klanner, he`s elected by the
Democrats as whip, he`s a self-made lawyer, he`s more reactionary than
Wallace, and he`s about 53.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Richard Nixon considered West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd
as a potential Supreme Court nominee but to be clear he sees the fact that
Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a reason to pick him for
the Supreme Court. It`s not like, I`d love him, but he was in the Klan.
It was, he`ll be great. He`d be a great nominee. Did you know he was in
Listening to these new Nixon tapes, there`s a lot of stuff here. One
of the unexpectedly moving things that happens on these tapes has to do
with the war. There`s this sort of riveting glimpse of how Nixon`s war,
the Vietnam War was weighing on him as a president personally. It was a
way he was willing at least once to let his staff see and H.R. Haldeman
described it in his diary.
Listen to this section from the diary. What they are talking about
here is a woman, Mrs. Nolde, they describe her as Mrs. Nolde. She was the
widow of Colonel William Nolde, who`s the man considered to be the last
official combat casualty of the Vietnam War.
So, this story is about Mrs. Nolde`s visit to Washington for her
husband`s burial at Arlington National Cemetery. This is amazing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HALDEMAN: Looking at Mrs. Nolde, the wife of the colonel who was the
last man to die in Vietnam, she came to Washington for the funeral with her
five children, some brothers and sisters and the whole family. And after
the funeral service, the president had them come in. He says they were a
typical American family and that she had conducted herself and walked in
like a first lady.
And then on the kids, the 17-year-old boy who had a ragged beard and
a mustache and long hair, the type that CBS would pick out, and they did,
in the hopes that he`d make a negative statement, prepared a statement on
why his father died, which was superb, and he had a big American flag in
his lapel. He said he was proud of his dad. He fought for peace.
And the 16-year-old daughter, blond, blue-eyed looked up at the
president and said just, “Could I kiss you?” At this point, there was a
long silence and I had been making notes, looked up and the president was
just standing there. He started to say something and couldn`t say it,
paused for quite a bit longer. More silence and then sort of said under
his voice, “I guess that`s what it`s all about.” Then he paused a minute,
turned around and walked out of the state dining room while everybody sat
in silence for a moment and then rose and applauded for quite a long time.
There was a highly emotional and highly dramatic moment, one of the
more unforgettable ones of the time we`ve been here.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just declassified audio diary from Nixon chief of staff H.R.
Richard Nixon later wrote in his memoirs about that moment that
Haldeman is describing there. Richard Nixon wrote in his memoirs that he
never hated the Vietnam War more than he did in that moment, in that single
encounter with the family of the man who was the last recorded combat
casualty of Vietnam.
On Friday, this past Friday, the current commander-in-chief announced
he is doubling the number of U.S. service members in Iraq. President Obama
authorized another 1,500 troops for deployment as part of the mission
Today, though, the Pentagon said those additional 1,500 troops will
not be sent until Congress votes to send them and funds their deployment.
Whatever you think about U.S. troops being back in Iraq in this
military strategy for fighting ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, President
Obama has determined this decision will not remain his alone. It is never
supposed to be a president`s decision alone. It`s supposed to be Congress`
call when we go to war.
Well, now, the additional troops at least, this doubling of the
deployment back into Iraq, that`s now an open question. The military says
that`s what they want. That`s what the president says he wants as
commander-in-chief, but it`s on hold while Congress decides whether they
can actually summon the courage to vote on it, to vote on whether or not to
Congress comes back on Wednesday, the day after Veterans Day,
tomorrow, to start what constitutes a work frenzy for them, seven whole
workdays between now and the end of the month. Then, they meet again for
eight workdays in December. In the whole month of December, eight days.
This past election was full of political ads about how terrifying
ISIS is and how we aren`t enough to fight ISIS. Well, now, Congress
actually has to make a binding decision on fighting ISIS. And they have to
make it soon.
How do you think they`re going to weasel out of actually taking the
Hold that thought.
MADDOW: As President Obama asked to double the amount of troops
fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as Congress finally faces making a decides
on whether or not to fund an authorize that U.S. military fight against
ISIS, one of the most difficult things about covering ISIS and the fight
against them is how difficult and dangerous it is for journalists to get
close enough to report on what`s going on.
Well, now, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has become
the first American network correspondent to get inside Kobani, the town on
the Syrian border that`s been under siege by ISIS for months now. This is
remarkable footage and remarkable reporting. Watch this.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: For two months,
Kobani has been fighting for its life, surrounded with standing wave after
wave of ISIS attacks. We managed to get inside. And found a city
devastated but refusing to surrender.
These Kurdish fighters – women and men – are outgunned and
Thirty-four-year-old Azima (ph) is a top field commander. Her name
“Now, we run,” she says. Sheets hung across intersections cloak our
movements from enemy snipers. You stay low and run fast.
Azima took us to the southern front as Kurdish women, she says, we
are tied to our land and principles more than our lives.
We follow her to Kobani`s city hall, now a front line position. The
enemy is just 20 yards away.
She`s saying, when they come, the ISIS fighters come in waves. Not
just one or two that are trying to infiltrate, but 40, 50 fighters will
come and try and swarm into the building.
To keep them back, the Kurds of Kobani mostly have light weapons and
grenades. They are like no other fighting group in Syria, secular
nationalists with a classless communal lifestyle. No ranks. Everyone part
of the war effort.
Most women have one home, one family to care for. Not us. We care
for our nation, Azima says.
Half of Kobani has fallen to ISIS. Its defenders are trying to claw
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent, filed that
dispatch tonight. He`s the first American network correspondent to report
from Kobani, where fighting, as you see, is ongoing. Just incredible
reporting and unfortunately very dangerous to get.
Richard joins us now live from Urfa, Turkey, which is right near the
Syrian border in Turkey.
Richard, thank you so much for being here. What`s going to happen in
Kobani, best as you can tell? Why is it strategically so important?
ENGEL: Right now, there is something of a standoff in Kobani. I
would say half of the city, as I mentioned in that report, is held by ISIS.
The other half by the Kurdish fighters. And it`s very difficult for either
side to make advances because this is street to street fighting.
Even though there are some U.S. airstrikes, it still takes a lot of
skill to and a lot of bravery, frankly, to advance, to leave your sniper
nest, to take over new positions and to hold them. And from what we could
tell, it looks like this could go on for months.
The biggest danger is that the Kurdish fighters are going to run out
of ammunition. Re-supply is enormously difficult. There`s been one big
re-supply by the United States, an airdrop. Some weapons come through
Turkey. Turkey, however, does not freely allow fighters and weapons to go
So, the biggest problem is that like any siege warfare, they could be
starved out. Not necessarily starved out with food, although that is a
possibility as well, but mostly starved out with weapons.
And if that were to happen, it would be a catastrophic loss for the
people of Kobani. They fear that they would be massacred. They fear that
they would – that the women would be taken away and sold into slavery like
happened to some Yazidi women.
It`s one of the reasons they are fighting so hard. They don`t want
the same fate to befall Kobani that has befallen other communities in Syria
and Iraq. They are also a different group. They are Kurdish nationalist
fighters. They are highly experienced. They have years fighting against
Turks, which is one reason the Turkish military and Turkish government
don`t want them to have weapons.
So, they`re very afraid of losing. And I would say at this stage,
their biggest fear is probably not being pushed out on the battlefield but
being strangled by the closure.
MADDOW: Richard, talking about the U.S. air supply, the airdrop to
supply them with ammunition and other supplies and also the impact of the
U.S. and coalition air strikes, are those making any sort of difference?
And from your, just tactical judgment, having been there, is there
more that the coalition could do that would make a difference in the fight
ENGEL: There`s quite a bit that the coalition could do. Turkey
would have to cooperate more. And I know that it is very frustrating for
members of the U.S. military that they can`t get more supplies through
Turkey, that Turkey doesn`t have an open-door policy for them.
I wouldn`t be surprised if there is another U.S. airdrop, perhaps
even in the next couple weeks on Kobani, because the U.S. wants to help the
people of Kobani and is finding it incredibly frustrating that the Turks
aren`t allowing supplies to go in.
The airstrikes are helping. The airstrikes are slowing down the ISIS
advance, making it more difficult for ISIS to bring in its own heavy
If you remember, this began a couple of months ago when ISIS decided
it was going to make a stand. It was going to take this village right on
the Turkish border, going to take it right in front of everyone`s eyes. It
was going to raise the black flag right on Turkish border and say, we are
here, we took this village and nothing can stop us.
The people of Kobani decided they weren`t going to let that happen.
And eventually, the U.S. decided it was going to give help to the people of
Kobani, so it wouldn`t have this important loss, which would be a morale
loss for the front against ISIS right in a very visible place, even though
journalists – most journalists haven`t been able to get inside Kobani,
people have been able to watch what`s happened in Kobani through social
media and because it`s right on the Turkish border. In some places you can
stand on hills inside Turkey and see the explosions and see the ISIS
fighters maneuvering just a few hundred yards away.
But even though the U.S. has decided to help and is carrying out the
air strikes, it is really down to the fighters on the ground to go street
to street, building to building and hold the blocks that they have, and
they need weapons and they need supplies for that, and eventually, that
they will run out.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, thank
you for being with us tonight, Richard. I really appreciate it. Just
I also have to tell you we`re going to have much more of this
reporting from Richard this week, specifically on Friday night. At 9:00
Eastern, Richard`s going to have more from Kobani and the wider fight
against ISIS. Richard is right in the middle right now in a way that
almost nobody else or has been. His special Friday night at 9:00, required
viewing. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today. This is the Bisbee Black
and Blue Marlin Tournament. “Sports Illustrated” calls it the super bowl
of bell fishing. It`s an event where people with big boats and big money
spend three days trying to bag a big marlin. Nothing under 300 pounds can
be considered in the tournament.
And if you do land the biggest fish in the tournament, the prize
money is astonishing. The winner for the huge tournament like this takes
home hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This is what Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, looked like this September after
the Hurricane Odile hit the Baja Peninsula. The storm was one of the
strongest ever to make landfall in Baja. Hurricane Odile just devastated
Cabo San Lucas about a month before that huge expensive fishing tournament
was supposed to happen there.
And the people who do the Bisbee tournament decided that after that
hurricane, they wouldn`t cancel the tournament, and they got a foundation
to pay the entry fees for anybody who wanted a fish in the tournament, who
would charter a local captain and a local boat for their entry. They`re
basically trying to prop up the local fishing industry.
Fifty teams took up this foundation on the offer and hired locals.
Now, one more thing to know here is about a place called Casa Hogar.
Casa Hogar is the name of an orphanage in Cabo San Lucas. The orphanage
had been damaged by the hurricane. They were able to clean up. They also
help rebuild other homes in the community hit by the hurricane.
Benefactors in this tournament sponsored the orphanage`s entry fee.
Put up their share of the entry fee, the fishing license, they rented a
both put up a boat so the orphanage could participate for the first time
ever in the big fishing tournament, which suddenly became more accessible
because of that hurricane.
And that is what leads us to the best new thing in the world because
Team Casa Hogar, including adult caregivers and three orphan boys from the
orphanage, none of whom have ever gone bell fishing before, they won the
whole freaking tournament. They landed a 385-pound blue marlin on the
second day of the tournament. Nobody brought in a bigger one.
The orphanage team took home a check of more than $250,000 for
winning this fishing tournament. And they can use it.
It`s not the only best part of this thing, best new thing in the
world, though. The other is that the last term you have to know to
understand is “Mucho Bueno”. That was the name of the winning team`s boat.
That`s Captain Ernie taking the orphanage team out for their big win on the
Mucho Bueno, indeed. Best new thing in the world, even if you don`t
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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