The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/17/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home as well for joining
us this hour.
So, the pope – it turns out the pope faxes. Specifically, the pope
faxes this man. His name is Cardinal Sean O`Malley of Boston and on the
occasion of the pope, Pope Francis announcing his first visit to the United
States, “60 Minutes” has just done a profile of Cardinal Sean O`Malley,
certainly the most influential American in the whole Catholic Church now,
and apparently somebody with whom the pope shares a love of faxing. They
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN PATRICK O`MALLEY, CARDINAL OF BOSTON: Usually we fax.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You fax with the pope?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People still communicate by fax?
O`MALLEY: Still communicate by fax.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like with letters or –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
O`MALLEY: Very quick and efficient and a little more private than –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most people think –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, really? Most people think texting is
quicker than faxing.
O`MALLEY: Well, the pope and I aren`t into texting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No texting, just faxing.
There are reasonable arguments to be made about how influential the
Catholic Church or any church is in U.S. politics at any given time. But
we are at this really interesting moment right now where the new pope just
announced plans to visit this country. He has also just demoted who was
the highest ranking American at the Vatican, Cardinal Raymond Burke had
been the archbishop of St. Louis before the previous pope. Pope Benedict
named him a cardinal.
And he was known for making the most of all the extravagances that
come with being a cardinal, but you don`t have to wear them all the time if
you don`t want to.
Aside from being flamboyant enough in his personal presentation while
he was in Rome, so flamboyant other church officials asked him to tone it
down, the other thing that Cardinal Raymond Burke had been known for was
being aggressively conservative and partisan in his politics, in his
American politics. He after all was the cardinal who said he would refuse
to give communion to John Kerry. When John Kerry was a candidate for
president, he would refuse that on the basis of John Kerry`s politics.
After Senator Ted Kennedy died, the same cardinal said that Senator Ted
Kennedy should have been denied a Catholic funeral because of his politics.
Well, the new pope just demoted that American cardinal in Rome. He
had been effectively the chief justice of the Vatican Supreme Court. He
just got demoted.
And the American cardinal who is ascendant now instead is Cardinal
Sean O`Malley of Boston who prefers to be called Cardinal Shawn. He wears
the brown sack cloth of a Franciscan monk. He`s now being profiled in to
see what he wants and where his influence might be felt.
And that`s in part because the biggest question mark looming over
American politics right now, the big immediate freak out and anticipation
and guessing game in American politics right now is over the issue of
immigration. And our American cardinal who is a confidante to the pope,
who faxes with the pope, who stays with him in his apartment when he visits
Rome now, this American cardinal has not just been outspoken, he has been a
real activist on the issue of immigration.
It was Cardinal Sean O`Malley and eight other American Catholic
bishops who went to Arizona earlier this year and walked one of the trails
through the desert where immigrants trying to cross into this country have
died by the dozens if not the hundreds from dehydration in the heat of the
desert. Cardinal O`Malley and the bishops walked that path through the
desert. They went to the border. They left a wreath at the border in
honor of immigrants who have died trying to cross the border from Mexico
into the United States.
And then, he and these eight bishops did this remarkable thing. They
set up a cross border mass. That fence there that sort of corrugated metal
wall behind them, that`s the border fence that divides Nogales, Arizona,
from Nogales, Mexico. And in April this year, we covered it at the time,
they said mass in English and in Spanish at the border for an ad hoc
congregation that surrounded them on both sides of the border.
And, you`ve ever been to a Catholic mass, you know that the apex of
any Catholic mass is always the giving of communion. When it came time to
do communion at the border mass, the bishops gave communion both to the
people on the American side of the border, people in front of them, but
also through the border fence, they gave communion to the people in
Nogales, Mexico, on the Mexican side of that wall.
So, there`s this incredibly official American cardinal making his
case in very dramatic ways, making his case for compassion on the issue of
immigration and the need for immigration reform. It`s not just these
demonstrations of solidarity and compassion like this mass at the border.
Same cardinal has also written to the Obama administration telling them to
start deporting so many people. They need to find a way to reform
And he is the closest thing that Americans have to somebody at the
center of power in the church. He faxes with the pope every day. I mean,
that`s weird on the one hand because who knew people still faxed anything
But also – it is also deja vu weird because back in the golden age
of faxing, back in the 1980s, it was the same situation being the Catholic
Church being mad about immigration and them trying to get the president to
do something about it.
Back in the golden age of faxing, the president who Catholics were
mad at then about immigration was Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan had signed
the last big policy change we had as a country on immigration. He signed a
bill that made it so millions of people who were here illegally could apply
for legal residence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: President Reagan today signed a massive
immigration reform law which will affect the status of millions of
immigrants who are now here illegally. The new law grants amnesty to
illegal aliens who lived here before 1982.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The reason the Catholic Bishops got mad at Ronald Reagan in
the `80 about that policy is not because they disagreed with the overall
goals of what he was trying to do. It`s because of the technicalities of
the way that policy worked.
In order to qualify for legal status, you lad had to have been here
for a specific number of years. That law was passed in 1986. You had to
have lived before 1982.
The problem in the way that worked out for individual families is
that maybe not everybody has been here or been alive for all the same
amount of time, right? Sometimes a parent would have been here for the
right number of years but their child would not qualify.
There was this strict determination about those time limits for who
would be deported and who would be allowed to stay. And that created a
problem in which parents would be allowed to be here but their children
would be deported without them. There were weird eventualities that
weren`t the way that policy was planned but that were the way that policy
was working out.
And so, Ronald Reagan signed that law in 1986. Then, the Catholic
bishops started lobbying President Reagan to make a change. Tweak
enforcement of that law so families wouldn`t be separated.
So, if immigrant parents could get legal status, their kids could,
too, and their families wouldn`t have to be broken apart. It was a
powerful case to make, a powerful argument around that.
And the year after Ronald Reagan had signed this law in 1986,
Congress did try to vote on a change to that law that would have made the
adjustment that the Catholic bishops were asking for. They tried but it
ended up not getting all the way through Congress.
And so, in response, Ronald Reagan decided to fix it himself. Ronald
Reagan took administrative action to expand on that existing policy. In
1987, the Reagan administration announced that even though Congress hadn`t
changed the law, President Reagan would do it himself. He would make a
change himself so that kids couldn`t be deported if their parents had
obtained legal status.
But the bishops kept pushing and advocates kept pushing because even
under the tweaked interpretation of the law, even after President Reagan`s
executive action, there was some still fairly common circumstances in which
this law still would result in families being split up. And Congress, even
after Ronald Reagan had taken that executive action, Congress again tried
on its own to take up legislation to make yet another fix of a law,
wouldn`t apply just to kids of people who had been legalized but also it
account for other immediate family members like spouses. So marriages
wouldn`t have to be broken up by this law.
Congress took up that law. They thought they were going to be able
to pass a tweak to it, but they couldn`t get it done in Congress. By then,
it was George H.W. Bush who was president and he, too, like Ronald Reagan,
decided to take executive action on his own to expand basically the number
of people here illegally in this country who would nevertheless be spared
from deportation because of executive action by the president.
The total number of people to whom, quote, “deferred deportation” was
extended by those actions was about 40 percent of what was believed to be
the total population of undocumented immigrants in this country at the
time, 40 percent. The executive action that President Obama is now
contemplating would also apply to about 40 percent of the undocumented
immigrant population in this country. So, it`s roughly on the same scale.
And it remains to be scene exactly what President Obama is going to
propose. But if they do anything like the White House has said to expect,
it`s going to be right in line with the kind of huge categorical
protections from deportation that were ordered by executive authority by
two of the last three Republican presidents, one of whom is now a saint.
Sorry. Sainthood thing not official yet. Sorry. Jumped the gun.
Conservative media and the Republican Party are so upset by the
prospect of Barack Obama doing what Poppy Bush and St. Reagan did, that
they`re having a hard time among themselves figuring out if the appropriate
response will be to impeach him or to sue him or to shut down the
government or all of the above.
On FOX News recently, one of their primetime hosts asked a Republican
senator if maybe Republicans in Congress should consider defunding the
entire Justice Department in order to try to make President Obama not do
this. Now why would getting rid of the Justice Department, which, I don`t
know, prosecutes all federal crimes and has some other stuff to do, why
would it help to get rid of the Justice Department? I don`t know, but it
sounds big and clearly this calls for something big.
When Ronald Reagan did this, the right did not mind. When George
H.W. Bush did it, they did not mind. They were so un-outraged by what
Poppy Bush did in his huge executive order on immigration that a few months
after he did it, Republicans in Congress voted to codify his policy. So,
the provisions he implemented wouldn`t expire at the end of his term as
Now though that this president is considering the exact same kind of
thing, naturally, it`s the end of the world.
On FOX News, every time they talk about what President Obama is about
to do on immigration they still talk about impeaching him.
Everywhere else in Republican-ville they seem to be settling on the
idea not of impeachment but another government shutdown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If they can call refusing to
fund Obama`s unconstitutional power grabs, shutting down the government.
It well needs to be shut down if that`s what it takes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Senator Thune, are Republican leaders now
seriously considering somehow linking opposition to executive action with
government funding? Either by setting up a situation that will result in a
government shutdown when funding runs out on December 11th or just passing
the short-term bills, month by month and keeping this fight going and
helping government fighting hostage?
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I think Republicans, Chris, are
looking at different options about how best to respond to the president`s
unilateral action which many people believe is unconstitutional, unlawful
action on this particular issue. But my concern is I don`t – shutting the
government down doesn`t solve the problem.
WALLACE: So, very briefly, you`re saying you don`t think that
Republicans should take the bait if you will, and do anything to shut down
THUNE: Well, it doesn`t solve the problem, Chris. But, look, we`re
having those discussions. We were only in for a couple of days. We`ll
continue to meet about this. I know the House leaders are talking about
it. The Senate leaders are talking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re having those discussions. We were in for a couple of
days this last week. We`re continuing to meet about this. House leaders
are talking about it. Senate leaders are talking about it.
It won`t work, but we`re thinking – we`re thinking.
Government shutdown to stop immigration reform is also being pushed
now by the Washington think tank, the Heritage Foundation, that was so
instrumental in organizing and whipping for and sustaining the last
Republican government shutdown which was less than a year ago.
Remember the defund Obamacare thing and the whole government shutdown
effort around that? That was the Heritage Foundation pushing the
government shutdown as a magical means of defunding Obamacare which did not
happen, even though they did shut down the government.
Now, they are pushing for the government shutdown as a magical means
of stopping amnesty, stopping President Obama from taking executive action
on immigration reform.
So, some things don`t change. If you are against government in
general if you think the federal government in particular is worthless or
better yet evil, then shutting down that worthless/evil thing may seem like
a good solution to any problem. You know, it`s good on its own terms, even
if it doesn`t ever accomplish something.
So, the fake defund Obamacare thing, shut down the government. Stop
President Obama on immigration reform or make it look like you`re trying
to, defund the government.
Tuesday? Defund the government.
Wintry mix, defund the government.
Some things don`t change in terms of what to expect in the short term
from actors like this. But the larger cycles on these sometimes don`t
Pope Francis has announced he`s coming to the United States while the
top American cardinal – top American bishop in the church is leading mass
in English and Spanish, praising immigrants on the border, calling for
compassionate reform to help immigrant families. Right now, they want
President Obama to act. In 1987, they wanted President Ronald Reagan to
1987, it was Pope John Paul in Los Angeles attracting in the largest
crowd in the history of Dodgers Stadium to a mass he conducted in English
and Spanish. He said – the papal mass most strongly celebrated newcomers
from the migrants who marched up the spine of California to found its
missions two centuries ago to those who are more recently drawn to its
shores. “The L.A. Times” reported at the time, one of the loudest ovations
came when the pope commended Catholic officials for their activism, in
assisting undocumented aliens to become citizens.
The pope at that mass, again, he spoke in English and Spanish before
this huge stadium full of immigrants in Los Angeles. He spoke in English
and Spanish. He said, “Today, in the church in Los Angeles, Christ is
Anglo and Hispanic. Christ is Chinese and black. Christ is Vietnamese and
Irish. Christ is Korean and Italian. Christ is Japanese and Filipino.
Christ is Native American, Croatian, Samoan.”
Now, don`t be mad at me about that. That was Pope John Paul putting
a heck of a lot of pressure on political leaders on this country in 1987 to
act compassionately toward immigrants and their families. To fix
immigration reform in a way that would be more compassionate to hold
families together. Some things don`t change.
And Ronald Reagan took that kind of executive action to fix
immigration reform in 1987. And George H.W. Bush took that kind of
executive action to fix immigration reform in 1990.
And President Obama is about to do it, too. He might do it as soon
as – well, what time is it now? He may do it as soon as this week some
It`s fax time all over again. It is 1987 all over again, except this
time there`s FOX News and talk radio and Heritage Foundation and the right
has decided to be enraged – I should say this iteration of the Heritage
Foundation. And this time, the right has decided to be enraged by the
prospects of this policy change.
And so, even though we have been here before and we have achieved it
peacefully and the sky didn`t fall, and we have been here before, this
time, we are barreling toward a self-imposed collapse in Washington because
now the way we have evolved is that we just can`t handle things like this
anymore even though we`ve done them before.
Joining us now is John Stanton, Washington bureau chief from
John, thanks very much for joining us. It`s nice to see you.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: I was amazed to go back and see the comparison in 1987 with
the kind of pressure that the Catholic bishops were putting on Reagan then,
and the kind of pressure that`s been put by advocates and by Catholic
bishops and by others on President Obama now. That is so parallel.
What seems very, very different is the other side of it. What seems
very different is the character of the anti-immigrant lobby.
I guess I have to ask if that squares with what you`re seeing right
now with this furor over the prospect of immigration reform in Washington.
STANTON: I mean, to a certain degree, yes. A bit of it, though,
also is just the general – really just distaste for President Obama on the
Republican side. He can be almost doing frankly anything on a unilateral
or executive basis and Republicans would probably get outraged. You know,
they have this sort of pending lawsuit about executive orders that`s been
nebulous. And, you know, maybe it`s Obamacare. Maybe it`s immigration.
Maybe it`s this other thing.
And I think that`s getting mixed up with sort of the traditional
parts of the Republican Party that were unhappy with President Reagan`s
bill but never came out as hard as they are now, and has really been stoked
by this really strong anti-Obama strain within the party and the general
sort of partisan nastiness that`s been going on in Washington since 2010.
MADDOW: It seems like the political power, though, so it can – of
trying to make a huge hubbub, like an impeachment level hubbub or a
government level hubbub or something like that, or even lawsuit against the
president level upset over this defends on being to be able to say this has
never been done before. That no president has ever taken any sort of
action like this.
Is the debate in Washington happening just sort of in an historical
context where we don`t talk about anything that happened before last
Tuesday or is the George H.W. Bush and the Ronald Reagan experience at all
seen as relevant?
STANTON: No. I mean, Republicans, you know, they`ve had a pretty
good way of forgetting the parts of Ronald Reagan that don`t go with what
modern conservatism believes in. And I think it`s happening here again,
On the face of it, you know, do you say the law was passed by
Congress? His job is to enforce the law. So, if he`s not enforcing the
law, that seems like unconstitutional.
But if you look at it from a legal basis or precedent, there`s clear
legal precedent for him to be able to do this. You know, prosecutorial
discretion and things like that, allow them to make these kind of
decisions. And, you know, it`s a purely political fight. They don`t
really – you know, the past in Washington doesn`t really matter much.
Last week didn`t matter much in Washington these days.
MADDOW: In terms of timing looking forward, instead of timing
looking back, do you have any sense of when the White House is going to
make its action?
STANTON: We`ve heard differing reports, possibly Wednesday but maybe
more likely on Thursday. They`ve sort of started sending out feelers to
the activist groups to prepare to have rallies to support the White House.
They`re talking with some of the Hispanic caucus to try to get them ready
to be behind the president on this. So, it sounds like it could be in the
next, you know, 48 hours.
MADDOW: Wow. OK. John Stanton, Washington bureau chief for
“BuzzFeed” – John, thank you very much. Great to see you.
STANTON: Good to see you.
All right. We`ve got lots more ahead on this very busy news day,
including some important bunk – no, wait, debunking the function, the
junction, that thing at the end of the show.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you are a diehard fan of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota,
today is your local day because it turns out, you can download a high
resolution portrait of Senator Franken and of his wife Franni directly from
the senator`s campaign Web site, ready to be framed and mounted on a wall
near you. Neat.
You can also treat yourself to a number of random stock video like
movie clips of Senator Al Franken, like this one, which is called Franken
in diner. It`s a heartwarming three-second long tale of the senator
silently hobnobbing with fellow diners. Really, it`s three seconds.
You can also check out this one called “Franken reading to children.”
It`s a two-second long snapshot of the senator reading to children at a
Then, there`s Franken with couple at table. Senator Franken, very
quickly, chatting wordlessly with a man and a woman at the table – that`s
This is not an Al Franken thing specifically. Name a candidate this
year and I`ll show you an out of context inane video of the candidate doing
some random generic thing on a loop.
If you want Mitch McConnell just smiling for no reason for example,
you can have lots and lots of inane short videos of Mitch McConnell smiling
for no reason.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: This wordless nonsensical piece of tape was not art. It was
posted to Mitch McConnell`s YouTube account back in March. There`s no
narration. No voiceover, just this.
And again, it`s not him just being creepy. The whole system is
creepy. Everybody is creepy. Everybody has to be creepy in this system.
Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan posted a non-campaign ad video
earlier this year in which he spends a good chunk of time just staring
creepily into the camera or maybe into your soul. And that`s it. That`s
all that happens. What these are, these wordless non-campaign ad videos
are pretty blatant attempts at bending the rules, rules that nobody
The Federal Election Commission, the FEC, says super PACs can raise
and spend all the money they want in support of the candidate, but they
cannot coordinate what they are doing with that candidate who they love so
much. So, the PAC can`t, like, go to a diner with Al Franken and shoot an
ad with him there. They can`t set up a camera crew in Mitch McConnell`s
office to catch him smiling and just the right twinkly light and then use
it as an ad for that candidate. They can`t work together. So, they can`t
go shoot pictures of their candidate for an ad.
So, the campaigns realize if they just happened to post extensive
photos and wordless videos of their candidates online and if super PACs
just happen to stumble upon that video and use it in their own political
ads, then nobody would be breaking any rules. Nobody is coordinating. We
just found this picture of Mitch McConnell smiling. We thought we`d use
Since the campaigns were not sending that video directly to the PACs,
they were instead simply putting it out there publicly for the world.
Technically, they`re not breaking that no-coordination rule.
Now, whether that line of thinking really does fall in line with the
actual law that has yet to be cleared up by the FEC, frankly because
nothing is ever cleared up by the FEC and there are no enforced (AUDIO GAP)
Well, in any case now, here`s a new one, new tactic. Chris Moody,
who`s now at CNN, is now reporting that Republican super PACs in the last
election devised a way to give their internal secret, really valuable
polling data to Republican campaigns. Now, you`re not supposed to be able
But you know how in spy movies, there`s always like a fake rock with
a trap door in the Moscow park, or there`s like a specific loose brick in
an underpass somewhere, and the spy knows where the loose brick is, and
also, his handler knows where the loose brick is. So, these spies use
public but inconspicuous, unnoticeable spots to drop information, to hide
information in public that somebody else then knows to come pick up.
That`s like spy novel 101. That technique is called a dead drop.
What Chris Moody just reported about the last election is that the
Republicans built a dead drop online. Look at this.
“Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to
share internal polling data ahead of the midterms. The Twitter accounts
were hidden in plain sight, the profiles were publicly available, but they
were meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the
So, like, look at one of these tweets. This is the tweet: Fl-44-
42/44-44/35-35/42-41/49-47. And then what appears to be a date, 10/22/14
and then there`s the number 26, 2-6.
So, that`s a coded tweet posted, as you can see, on October 25th. If
I`m right about that last part of the tweet being a date, that would be
polling data they are posting from the 22nd of October 2014. My guess is
the first two letters in the tweet are the state, Florida, and the last two
numbers are the congressional districts where those polling results are
from, districts 2 through 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
So, my guess is those are the internal polling numbers for each of
those districts taken on that date.
Quote, “The accounts CNN renewed were active ahead of this month`s
election. They were live until November 3rd but then they were deleted
minutes after CNN contacted the National Republican Committee with
So, they posted these coded tweets with this internal, non-public,
very valuable information might help in terms of targeting your campaign
resources, right? But you can`t coordinate, so you do it anonymously.
They pulled down the accounts. There some are surviving screen shots of
what they were doing.
And if this was a super spy way of coordinating between super PACs
and the campaigns that they want to help, but legally they can`t
communicate with, then plainly this would be illegal. It would be illegal
coordination – if we actually enforced the laws around illegal campaign
stuff anymore. But we don`t. We don`t.
In response to the CNN piece today, the vice chair of the FEC tweeted
that, yes, this issue may come before the FEC at some point but, quote,
“coordination rules are sadly murky.”
Rules that are supposed to prevent this sort of thing – wet noodle.
So, knock yourself out with the fake rock Twitter dead drops. Nobody
is coming after you apparently.
One side benefit of this whole murky business is that if you do ever
need tape of Senator Al Franken at a kitchen table going like this – that
we can do. The senator`s campaign can take care of you on that.
Watch. Oh, yes. See? That you can have. The more you know.
MADDOW: Late break update. One of the last two U.S. Senate seats to
be decided this year. Tonight, which is 13 days out from Election Day, we
finally have a winner in Alaska. Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska
has tonight conceded his Senate seat to his Republican challenger in that
race, Dan Sullivan.
A number of news outlets, including this one, had called the race for
Dan Sullivan. Late last week, NBC News characterized Dan Sullivan as the
apparent winner of the race, but Senator Begich insisted that all of the
remaining ballots be counted because there was a lot of them outstanding in
The state of Alaska tonight is still counting ballots and they don`t
plan to officially certify a winner in that race until later this month,
but Senator Begich is apparently seeing the writing on the wall in terms of
the numbers that have come in thus far, and he has now thrown it in. He
says he called to congratulate his opponent Dan Sullivan earlier today.
And that results in Alaska tonight means that there`s now just one
Senate race left in the whole country that remains unresolved. It`s a race
that Democrats are trying desperately to hold on to, and it involves one of
the more inexplicable political strategies that I think I`ve ever seen in
them trying to do that.
That story is next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This was the scene outside Senator Mary Landrieu`s house in
Washington, D.C. A giant inflatable pipeline across her front yard put
there by opponents of the Keystone oil pipeline. Good morning, Senator
Landrieu. How`s your weekend?
Senator Landrieu is from Louisiana. She`s a Democrat and she`s in
real danger of losing her seat in the Senate. She now appears to be
trailing by double digits in a December 6th runoff against her challenger,
who`s Republican congressman named Bill Cassidy.
Congressman Cassidy is the sponsor of a bill that passed last week in
the House that would clear the way for the Keystone pipeline.
Mary Landrieu has also been pushing for the Senate to vote for the
Keystone pipeline as well. Last week, Mary Landrieu told her Senate
colleagues she believes that the pipeline has the votes to pass right away.
She demanded a vote on Keystone in this lame-duck session while Democrats
still control the Senate and coincidentally while she is still running for
Senator Landrieu wants you to see her getting her opponent`s bill
passed. That`s what – that`s why she – that`s how she – she seems to be
saying basically, “Vote for me because I agree with my opponent, and I can
help get done what he wants to do.” It`s kind of a definition of an insane
way to win an election.
But despite that, Mary Landrieu is getting what she wants. The
Senate is scheduled to start voting on the Keystone pipeline tomorrow.
It`s not at all clear she`s got the 60 votes that she needs but she needs
to get it passed the Senate, but she did get that inflatable pipeline on
her front lawn today.
Regardless of what happens with the vote on Capitol Hill, there are
also local votes that need to happen on Keystone. The pipeline would cross
several states on its way south from Canada.
And one of those states in Nebraska, they have not yet settled the
question of which state agency would give permission for that. Depending
on how the state supreme court rules in Nebraska, the decision could come
down to the Nebraska Public Service Commission. You may never have heard
of this august body but you can bet the pipeline company has.
So, we have the federal vote in Washington happening tomorrow and
we`ve got the local vote in Nebraska that still has to happen.
Also, though, regardless of what happens in either of those, there
might be a local war over this. And the state of South Dakota, the tribes
of the Sioux Nation say they don`t want the Keystone pipeline coming
through their land, and they`re serious about it.
A couple of years ago, a native radio station issued an action alert
for Lakota people to stop oil trucks moving through. They ended up in a
six-hour standoff, a physical standoff and stopped those trucks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE RANDALL, OGLALA LAKOTA NATION: This is our reservation. This
is our community. And look at 300 some children over there. And maybe a
thousand people over here.
Lakota people, Lakota Nation we`re standing on. And why are they
coming through here. You`re all Lakotas. Stand up for your rights. We
have the greatest foundation in this world.
I`m 93 years old. How long more am I going to be saying, this is
your foundation. Protect it. At least we have our nation and we can say
you cannot come through here with whatever you have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We say you cannot come through here with whatever you have.
I should tell you, those trucks they were blocking did not turn out
to be Keystone trucks specifically. But as a show proverbial force, that
was a show of proverbial force.
You can tell how seriously the Lakota take this pipeline by how long
they`ve continued to say no. This spring, a coalition of cowboys and
Indians set up a camp on the Washington Mall.
Cowboys and Indians as a phrase, has become a little chunk of
American idiom that is all but separated from those very real things. But
this was very literally true, cowboys and Indians, and they said they`d do
anything to stop this pipeline. Anything and everything they could.
And this morning, there they were in front of Senator Landrieu`s
house trying again to stop this Keystone pipeline.
On Friday, after the House voted to approve Keystone, the Rosebud
Sioux released a statement calling that vote an act of war, and the
president of the Rosebud Sioux posted a statement saying, quote, “The House
has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children
and grandchildren. The Rosebud Sioux tribe will not allow this pipeline
through our lands. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our
The Rosebud president telling reporters, quote, “Act of war means
that we`re going to have to take legal maneuvers now. We`re going to
protect our land and our way of life.”
We`re going to protect our way of life on the high plains and
reservation and National Mall and now on Mary Landrieu`s front lawn.
Joining us now is Aldo Seoane. He`s a co-director of the Wica Agli
Native American activist group and he was part of the protest today at
Senator Landrieu`s house.
Mr. Seoane, thank you very much for being here. It`s a pleasure to
have you here.
ALDO SEOANE, WICA AGLI TRIBAL NATIONS: It`s an honor to be here.
MADDOW: So, what does it mean to you personally? How do you
understand this provocative phrase that this vote was an act of war? What
does that mean to you?
SEOANE: I won`t begin to speculate on what chairman was saying or
what the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is saying. What I do know is from being on
the ground, you know, we take this very seriously. I`m under the
impression what we`re looking at is TransCanada, the Keystone XL pipeline,
them attempting to come through our reservation, that would be considered
an act of war against the pipeline itself, not against the U.S. government.
MADDOW: In terms of what that would mean on the ground at the
reservation, when you say that you – that the pipeline won`t be allowed to
come through the reservation, what do you think could be done? What do you
think could be done? What do you expect might happen on the ground?
SEOANE: Well, it`s not going to come through. The Rosebud Sioux
Tribe is a part of the Great Sioux Nation and the Ft. Laramie Treaties both
1851, 1868, define that area. And that`s pretty much the entire state of
South Dakota going into Wyoming, North Dakota, part of Nebraska, over to
the east side of the Missouri River. That entire territory is part of the
Great Sioux Nation and a consensus not to let that pipeline go through.
Back in March 29th of this year, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe set up a
spiritual encampment to pray that the world would wake up to this, that our
treaties would be honored, that the treaties are the tribe would be honored
and that Keystone XL would follow proper consultation procedures and that
the government would support its due diligence process. And that it would
continue with its policy on tribal consultation and work with tribes in
finding solutions for this.
That pipeline opposition camp has been standing. It`s been manned 24
hours a day, and it`s been said by President Scott (ph) and by President
Brewer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe this pipeline will not come through the
territory and they`ll stop it by any means necessary.
MADDOW: Are there conditions under which you would accept or the
people of the Sioux Nation would consider accepting the pipeline through
the land? Is it a decision that`s already made or is there a political
process among the tribes for deciding about a project like this or for
SEOANE: My understanding is, no. This pipeline is in no way wanted.
We have seen and been a part of actions where we`ve been hearing that,
including the D.C. action, the Reject and Protect Action. We`ve heard our
chairmans talk and the chairmans of the Rosebud tribe and (INAUDIBLE) other
indigenous groups say we don`t want tar sands. It`s too risky for our
communities both to the land, to the water, to the people.
So, I don`t think that there is any proper strategy for this to go
through or any kind of handling of this.
MADDOW: Aldo Seoane, co-director Wica Agli Native American activist
group – thanks for helping us understand this tonight. Appreciate you
SEOANE: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. We have a lot more ahead, including a Debunktion
Junction where we debunk me – which doesn`t feel good. That will be fun
for you guys, I guess. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: Torrential downpours and – everybody`s favorite – wintry
mix made for a cold and raw and wet Monday in lots of places on the East
Coast. It was one of those days where if you had an event scheduled to be
held outside, you called for the backup plan and moved it inside.
But today in D.C., there was one event that couldn`t be moved inside.
This morning, in that driving rain, on the north side of the U.S. Capitol,
a bipartisan group gathered under trench coats and umbrellas and tents to
plant a tree. This bare but tall American sycamore tree was propped up and
put into the ground this morning in memory of Emmett Till.
You know his name. Emmett Till was 14 years old when he was beaten,
tortured and murdered while visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta
in the summer of 1955. If you think about your civil rights history, 1955
is early, right?
Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till`s murder that summer, 1955, helped
spark the civil rights movement in the South, particularly after his mother
insisted an human being buried in an open casket so the world could see
what was done to her son in Mississippi.
Well, today, in Washington, Emmett Till was officially recognized
with a sort of living memorial at the U.S. Capitol. Nearly 60 years after
his death, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke in the driving rain today
about that murder and about the symbolism of this memorial that will now
mark his life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Although Emmett Till died senselessly
and far too soon, it can never – it can never be said that he died in
vain. His tragic murder galvanized millions to action. And today, we
commemorate this legacy by planting a tree in his honor – a tree that will
become his living memorial here at the heart of our republic, in the shadow
of the United States Capitol.
Like the work it symbolizes and the cause it represents, this tree
will outlast all of us. Like our ongoing efforts, it will honor the
enduring legacy of a young man, a boy really, who never had the chance to
grow old. And it will ensure that Emmett Till`s story, his example, and
his too short life will be preserved forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Attorney General Eric Holder speaking there. The man over
his right shoulder is U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the whole
Mississippi congressional delegation there today.
Eric Holder went on today in his remarks today, “In remembering that
young man in the way we do today, we ennoble our nation and make our union
Today is one of those days where it felt like the weather befitted
the occasion. This was an important occasion.
MADDOW: Hoot, hoot, Debunktion Junction, what`s my function?
All right. Two weeks ago, D.C. voted to legalize pot. Sixty-five
percent yes, to just 28 percent no. A district of Columbia joined Oregon
and Alaska in voting to legalize weed on election day this year.
But, for D.C., of course, it`s not that simple. Even before D.C.
voters exercised their franchise to say, yes, we want legal pot, there was
already a congressman vowing to block D.C.`s legalization if that`s the way
the vote went. Because the U.S. Congress actually has finally say on
anything and all D.C. legislation for whatever reason, and because of
Congress` history of imposing their views on D.C., the day after the
election, I warned, we warned that D.C. should expect some meddling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republicans love doing this to D.C. In 2009, the D.C. City
Council voted to legalize same-sex Americans and then two Utah Republicans
introduced bills in Congress to try to block what D.C. had voted to do.
In 2010, Congress decided to take D.C.`s locally passed gun laws
away. In 2011, Republicans in Congress blocked D.C.`s own locally decide,
locally funded abortion policies.
Now they are doing it again. D.C. votes to legalize pot as
Republicans sweep to power in Senate and expand their majority in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the day after the election. They`re doing it
again. That was the day after the election. Now, it`s like two weeks
So, is that true or false? That Congress is set to meddle in D.C.
affairs once again, this time to block D.C. from legalizing pot? Is it
true or is it false?
MADDOW: False? False?
MADDOW: It`s hard to believe, but false.
So, yes, we thought there would be more of a fight by Congress,
specifically by Republicans. But look at “The Washington Post” today.
“With focus elsewhere, GOP Congress shows little interest in blocking pot
legalization in D.C.” Senator Lindsey Graham, “To be honest, that`s pretty
far down my list of priorities.” Ohio Senator Rob Portman says he hasn`t
given it one thought. Senator John McCain says he`s focused on other
So, at least publicly, the Republican Party says they`ll not
interfere with D.C. legalizing pot. They`re not.
MADDOW: So they say. Take them at their word until they give us a
reason not to. We`ll see.
All right, next up. To Oregon. Dr. Monica Wehby was a Republican
Senate candidate in Oregon. She ran as a challenger against Senator Jeff
Merkley. Dr. Wehby did not win. She lost by quite a lot.
Dr. Monica Wehby had a lot of issues she stood for in this campaign,
but if there were two things that the Dr. Monica Wehby really wanted you to
know about her, they were number one, she`s a doctor. And number two, she
really doesn`t like Obamacare. That`s what her whole campaign was about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MONICA WEHBY (R), THEN-OREGON SENATE CANDIDATE: It`s not brain
surgery. Obamacare is bad for Oregon. I`m Dr. Monica Wehby. As a
pediatric neurosurgeon, I know firsthand how devastating Obamacare is for
Oregon families and patients. It`s why I`m the only candidate for Senate
who has fought to stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The only Senate candidate who has fought to stop it. I
don`t know even know what that means. But her campaign slogan was even
anti-Obamacare. “Keep your doctor, change your senator” was her campaign
Well, now that Dr. Wehby isn`t going to be a senator, now that she`s
lost that election, there are reports she has applied for a new job in
Oregon. She`s applied for the job of running Obamacare in Oregon.
Is that true or is that false?
MADDOW: Oh, yes, it`s true. This is amazing. One issue anti-
Obamacare candidate loses election, applies for the job of running
“The Oregonian” is now reporting that the day after she lost the
Senate race, Dr. Wehby called Oregon`s governor to ask about a job opening
specifically directing the Oregon Health Authority, which would make her
the state`s top official in charge of implementing Obamacare, which is
something she campaigned against as devastating to Oregon. And so, now,
she wants to run it! Not busy anymore. Ta-da!
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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