The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/05/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. Dinner theater, there you are.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There is a lot going on in the news today. We have a very big show coming
up. We`re talking about the latest news on ISIS. A couple important
policy things happening around that.
Yet another day of Rand Paul craziness on vaccines. I thought it wouldn`t
happen, but it did.
We`re also working on an important update and a surprising update that we
covered a few days ago about Afghanistan. There is a lot coming up but we
have to start tonight in Oregon.
Honestly, usually, that is the state motto of Oregon. You can Google it
Usually when we talk about Oregon on this show, it is about the craziness
of Oregon politics, specifically Oregon Republican politics. Oregon is the
state where the Republican Party state chairman, you might remember, he
collects people`s pee by mail. He sends out mailers, asking you to please
mail him some of your pee. That is his day job in addition to running the
state Republican Party.
Oregon Republican Party chairman Art Robinson once came on this show and we
had a terrible fight about his writings that HIV doesn`t cause AIDS and his
writings that it would be a good idea, a really helpful idea, to sprinkle
backyards and public places all over America with just a little bit of
radioactivity, just a spritz. That would be good for everybody.
And I also tried to figure out what he needed all the pee for. This just
wasn`t a good conversation. But he is now the state chairman of the
Republican Party in Oregon. And he is a frequent Republican Party nominee
for Congress in the state of Oregon.
Oregon Republicans` last nominee for Senate, at first glance, looked like a
refreshing change from the Art Robinson Oregon Republican craziness. She
just seemed like an uncrazy choice. She was a well spoken, very
conservative doctor who basically chose to run for Senate on a 100 percent
anti-ObamaCare platform. That was the basis of her candidacy. And it made
some sense in Oregon particularly because of this.
Because Oregon completely botched their state ObamaCare exchange rollout.
That would have been bad enough had they not also run the hippy-dippiest,
most embarrassing, over-the-top “Portlandia” folk music TV ads for that
health exchange which did not work.
So in running an anti-ObamaCare campaign, their Senate candidate, Monica
Webby seemed like an uncrazy candidate doing an uncrazy campaign, doing an
That was before the local press got hold of all of the police incident
reports about her and the stalking allegations and the please-get-this-
crazy-woman-out-of-my-house 9-1-1 calls. That was also before it emerged
that she plagiarized almost all of her online campaign materials. That was
before her dramatic maybe even melodramatic refusals to talk to the press.
And when she lost, having just run this 100 percent anti-ObamaCare
campaign, the very first thing she did after she lost that campaign is that
she applied for a new job with the state. She applied for the job of
running ObamaCare in the state of Oregon.
Yes. Oregon is nuts. And Oregon politics in the last few years – and
Oregon has been nationally newsworthy nuts, particularly on the Republican
side. Even covering major donors to Republican politics in Oregon means
having to cover guys like this. It also means having to cover guys like
this, you`ll want to cover your ears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I sound the buzzer and say disconnect it will
disconnect all of the causes of that habit and perhaps you will end up
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Feel the pounds just dropping off? That is Oregon. That is
Oregon Republican politics. At least it has been over the past few years.
But it turns out Oregon has more to offer than just an amazing sauce blend
of Republican mail-me-your-pee party chairmen and disconnect, disconnect
major donors and people calling the cops on their Senate candidate.
Now in Oregon, this particular variety of politics is getting to be more
slightly bipartisan and it is maybe better than ever. This is the largest
newspaper in the state, “The Oregonian.” This is the new editorial in that
paper that is calling on the state`s governor to resign.
Now if you have not been paying attention to what is going on in that
state, and come on, hey, who has? This kind of dramatic call for the
governor`s immediate resignation seems like a surprise. He was just
reelected. John Kitzhaber is the longest serving governor in the state`s
history. Just a month ago he was sworn for an unprecedented fourth term as
the state`s governor. But readers of “The Oregonian” and other dogged
Oregon local press have been watching unfurl this slow-motion long-form
political disaster in which revelation upon revelation upon revelation
keeps piling up and they`re all about the governor and his girlfriend.
The latest revelation reported this week by “The Oregonian” is that the
governor appears to have had his top advisors find his girlfriend paid
jobs, jobs with companies and interest groups who want to influence the
state`s policies on energy while at the same time the governor also had his
girlfriend working as an advisor to him on state energy issues.
It`s one thing to bring your girlfriend to work as an adviser or anything.
It is another thing to try to arrange for people with interests before the
state to pay her while she is advising you on their interests. So that is
just the latest of what has been more than a year now of stories like this.
This comes after the earlier revelations that the governor`s girlfriend
also once got married to a guy she didn`t know for money. Don`t worry,
though. Wasn`t anything too weird. It was just part of an immigration
scam. The cost of marrying her for the immigration scam was apparently
There was also the news that she was also once co-owner of an illegal pot
That was all before she was the governor`s girlfriend. Since she has been
the governor`s girlfriend, though, there has been an array of nice stories
like these ones, about how she used state workers, including state
troopers, to care for her pets.
Other than that, though, nothing to see here. Actually, no; scratch that,
because Oregon, in terms of, is the most fascinating place in the country
today. This day, February 5th, Oregon is the most interesting place in the
I mean, Governor Kitzhaber`s girlfriend trouble and the question of whether
or not he will resign over his longstanding girlfriend troubles right after
being sworn in for a fourth term, that girlfriend trouble thing is not the
only thing looming over the state of Oregon right now.
Looming silently and occasionally swooping down and terrifying the state
and sometimes drawing a little blood, no, that is not the only thing doing
that, there is also this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) again, a fourth jogger has been attacked by
an owl in the Salem Park. So beware if you`re walking in bushes past your
park. This latest attack was near the soapbox derby track on Monday. And
our cameras even captured the owl believed to be the culprit here.
The owl swoops down from its perch and will scratch its victims. In the
latest incident, Brad Hilliard was jogging early in the morning when he
says that owl literally stole the hat right off his head.
BRAD HILLIARD, OWL VICTIM: As I spun around, trying to see what was behind
me, and nothing was there. And I started kind of looking around and then
it kind of hit me, wait a minute, my hat`s actually gone.
MADDOW (voice-over): Yes. He only lost his hat; he was the lucky one. In
the capital city of Salem, Oregon, not one, not two, not three but as of
today, four joggers so far have been attacked by a giant owl all in the
The first attack was against this guy, this surgeon, who seems awesome. I
just have to tell you because Oregon is the most amazing place in the
country, I have to tell you a little backstory on the surgeon, who was the
first owl victim, he really does seem very cool. He`s a general surgeon in
Salem. This is him in the woods where he was attacked, this is him
specifically at the start of the trail that led to where he was attacked.
“The Statesman Journal” newspaper, in their reporting on him being attacked
by an owl, they helpfully note that he had started running in those woods
as a way of intensifying his workout in time for football season – as in
NFL football season. Not because he is in the NFL, but because he, this
awesome doctor, is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and during football
season, every Sunday, he likes to wear his Green Bay Packers suit.
And so he has been intensifying his workouts so he can continue to fit
inside the adorable suit to cheer on his beloved Green Bay Packers every
Sunday. And that is why he was in the woods at 5:00 in the morning when
I`m just going to – I can`t improve on this. I`m just going to give you
the dramatic account as it appeared in “The Statesman Journal” because this
cannot be improved upon.
OK. Here we go.
“Dr. Jaecks was jogging near the baseball field at about 5:15 am. Suddenly
in the morning darkness his stocking cap was pulled from his head and
almost simultaneously he felt something puncture his scalp.
“The doctor thought he was dying. `It was like a huge electric shock ran
through my body but also like I got hit in the head with a 2”x4” all at the
same time, or maybe a strike of lightning.`
“The doctor immediately began to run faster, trying to escape his
assailant, running in circles and screaming. He began to think that he was
having a stroke or an aneurysm.
“He took off in the direction of Mission Street in the hopes of being seen
by someone, not knowing exactly what had happened in the park. But on his
sprint towards safety, the attacker struck again. This time he didn`t have
a hat on.”
Right? Stolen already.
And he “felt the blunt force. He looked up and saw a large winged animal.”
It`s an owl. He thought it was a bat at first, but it`s an owl. And it
keeps attacking people in Oregon`s capital city.
He was first. Now have been four victims. Nobody`s dead. But now they
are putting up “attack owl” warning signs all over that part of the capital
city of Oregon. Please use caution.
We have gone to the trouble of making this.
MADDOW: – attack owl warning sign, which I think is more visually
gripping for the threat at hand here because their warning signs frankly
looked a little sedate, given what has been happening at that park.
So, Salem, Oregon – or if this is happening in your town, if you would
like the digital file for these signs, which I think get the point across a
little more bluntly, we will post them for you @maddowblog.com. They`re
yours, free of charge.
If you live in the great state of Oregon, this is the sort of thing that`s
in your newspapers right know. You flip (INAUDIBLE) page, what`s going on
with the governor`s girlfriend today?
Second page, ooh, a fourth owl attack in the state capital.
But that is not all. Because you should also meet these guys. CJ and
Charlie. If there is any justice in the world, I really hope that we can
get them on this show sometime soon.
I should also just mention as an aside if you`re not familiar with all of
the intricacies of modern gay culture in our country, you may not
immediately recognize from this picture that CJ and Charlie are bears. And
I say this with the utmost respect; bears are everybody`s favorite happy
gay subculture. Basically if you`re a bear, you`re a big hairy guy who
likes being a big hairy guy.
There are definitely varieties of bears, but that`s the basic recipe. And
it is a recipe for happiness, I`m telling you.
CJ Phillips and Charlie rainwater live in Oregon. They are self-described
bears and specifically self-described high-tech bears. They both work in
the microprocessor design industry. I think they`re both engineers. But
they`re also the single most amazing thing you need to know about Oregon
today on a day when Oregon already has a lot to offer in that category
because CJ and Charlie – high-tech bears – these guys are also the
owners, the proud owners of jebbushforpresident.com. They have been since
2008. They say they have plans to turn jebbushforpresident.com into a
place why everyone can go online to learn about gay rights.
So this is their start at that so far, you type in jebbushforpresident.com.
And you`ll see. They say it is a work in process. They say they are
starting to promote positive dialogue to drive positive change. Work in
progress that you can click through, the one link there to their
Squarespace page, which is let`s talk about it. We`re all in this
together. They`ve got a space for discussions, including a short
explanation from them on why they`re proud to own jebbushforpresident.com
and why jebbushforpresident.com is an appropriate place to talk about gay
rights, given Jeb Bush`s record on the subject.
I think the real message here, though, at the website that was the most
obvious thing to click through, which is to who are these guys who are
doing this? You click through to learn more about that, and they explain
it. They put it out there. Who are these guys?
They are CJ and Charlie, together since 1996. Engineers, doggy dads, madly
in love. And you can learn all about it at jebbushforpresident.com.
I didn`t wake up in the morning thinking this would be the top of the show.
There is a lot going on in the world today and we will get to a lot of it
on the show.
But Oregon, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank
you for what you have contributed to the news cycle today, you are
MADDOW: Perhaps trying to change the subject from all his loose vaccine
talk recently, Senator Rand Paul today said that he will vote against
President Obama`s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas also said today that he will vote against
Loretta Lynch. The junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, also says that he
will vote against Loretta Lynch for attorney general.
And as interesting as each of these senators would like that to be, I think
it is fair to say that nobody much cares that they have announced their
opposition, because Loretta Lynch has enough support from enough Republican
senators who aren`t running for president or who aren`t from Texas that she
will sail through her confirmation vote when and if the Senate decides to
hold that vote.
She will be replacing one of the longest serving attorneys general in the
history of the United States when she replaces Eric Holder. Only three
former attorneys general have served longer in that job than he has.
But today the former U.S. attorney general who served in the job for the
shortest time ever, the man who served as attorney general in the George W.
Bush administration for exactly one day, that guy is in the news today in a
sort of awesome way. And that story will come up tonight at the end of the
show, on tonight`s “Best New Thing in the World.” Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you are going to have a baby, and you can choose to have that
baby anywhere in the world, might I suggest Finland, in the tiny European
nation of Finland, when you are about to have a baby, you get a box that
looks like this one from the government. Usually the box doesn`t have an
adorable little cat on top of it like this one does; it looks more like
Every expectant mother in Finland is eligible to get a box like this from
the government. All you have to do is ask and they`ll send you one. And
inside the box is a tiny little infant sized snowsuit, a warm winter hat,
little baby mittens, a little sleeping bag, a little sheet set, socks,
cloth diapers, a little baby towel, a bunch of gender neutral outfits –
congratulations, you`re having a baby in Finland. Good luck. Courtesy of
the Finnish government.
The Finns have been doing this for nearly a century. They have been doing
it since the 1930s, every expectant mother in that country regardless of
income level, is eligible to get this essentially baby starter kit if they
It arrives in a box. The box itself can even be used as the baby`s first
makeshift crib if need be. It has all the essentials and then some. The
idea is that no matter what your lot in life or what your socioeconomic
status is, every baby deserves a good start in life and this might help.
In this country we don`t do that. Here, when you have a baby, you
sometimes get sent home from the hospital with some diapers, maybe some
baby wipes. You usually get to keep the little hat and blanket combo that
it seems like every single baby gets wrapped in once they`re delivered.
But that`s pretty much about it in most places. We really don`t do it like
the Finns do it, at least not on a national level. No starter kits from
the federal government.
But in most states what does arrive in the mail shortly after you have your
child is a little greeting card that looks like this.
Peek-a-boo. This is a Hallmark greeting card, and it is often sent to new
parents by the governor of the state in which the kid was born. Most
states do this.
Here is the one that got sent around for instance in Arizona. “Bet you`re
as proud as you can be of that new little branch on your family tree.” And
as you can see the car is signed by then-governor Jan Brewer and her
husband, John. And right above their signature, it sort of lays out the
purpose of the card beyond just the congratulations.
So they say, “Congratulations on the birth of your baby. One of your most
important roles as a parent is to make sure your baby is immunized.
Keeping your little one healthy means starting immunizations by 2 months of
age. Immunizations protect your baby against many serious childhood
diseases and we know how important your baby`s health is to you.”
So this is a “don`t forget to get your vaccines” card. And it comes with a
little chart, a handy little immunization schedule, where you can record
when and where your baby got its hepatitis B vaccine, polio vaccine,
measles-mumps-and-rubella vaccine and so on.
This card is produced, as I said by Hallmark. They produce it in
conjunction with the CDC and Hallmark then partners with the governors of
states all across the country, a majority of states, to send out these
“don`t forget to get your vaccines” cards to brand new parents in their
Hallmark partners with a ton of governors across the country to do this,
but not the governor of the State of New Jersey, Chris Christie. “The
Guardian” newspaper reporting today that while previous governors of New
Jersey have participated in this program, Chris Christie and his
administration have opted not to take part.
A spokesman for the governor telling “The Guardian” that he was, quote,
“not familiar with the program” and then he stopped responding to any
This is such a weird thing to be part of our presidential politics right
now but it really is. Chris Christie voicing skepticism about vaccines
earlier this week has turned to now to these still as yet unanswered
questions about why he doesn`t take part in this popular and cute vaccine
awareness program in his state, which a majority of other governors do.
At this point, the only good news for Chris Christie on this subject this
week is that maybe he looks slightly less extreme than his fellow
presidential hopeful, Kentucky senator Rand Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KY: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking,
talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after
MADDOW (voice-over): Rand Paul made those remarks on Monday but this has
not been going better for him over the course of the week since then. It
almost feels like Rand Paul and his presidential hopes are getting a little
derailed by this issue, at least right now.
There has been editorializing against him in “The Washington Post” and in
“The Wall Street Journal” and on conservative websites like redstate and
the “Washington Free Beacon.”
This was the front page of the “Lexington Herald-Leader” in his home state
of Kentucky yesterday, “Rand Paul plagues himself over vaccinations,
potential presidential candidacy in damage control.”
This was the editorial in the Louisville “Courier-Journal” today. This is
the largest paper in his home state, saying that he`s blown it ,that he
has, quote, “dumped gasoline on the fire of incendiary speculation.”
Now Senator Paul is not yet hiding from the press on this subject like
Chris Christie has been since his vaccine remarks on Monday.
Senator Paul went FOX News last night with my friend, Greta Van Susteren,
and tried to defend himself on the vaccine issue by saying that everybody
has just been deliberately misrepresenting his beliefs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I got annoyed that people are trying to depict me as someone who
didn`t think vaccines were a good idea. The interesting debate that sort
of people missed on this is that all the political people they talk to, I`m
not sure I`m any different than the president or anybody else on the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You`re going to roll President Obama into this?
He now says that he has the same beliefs as President Obama on vaccines.
For the record, President Obama has never said vaccines cause profound
mental disorders. President Obama has also never said that vaccines were
the first step toward martial law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The first sort of thing you see with martial law is mandates – and
they`re talking about making it mandatory – I worry because the last flu
vaccine we had in the 1970s, more people died from the vaccine than died
from the swine flu. I think you have to use your brain, but I think every
individual should be allowed to make that choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And when everybody makes their own choice, based in part on
information from would-be national leaders who tell them that vaccines
cause profound mental disorders, then what you get, Senator, is declining
rates of vaccination in this country and then you get shocking new
outbreaks of measles, including the five potential new cases found in
babies in Chicago just today.
So Rand Paul is in a ditch and continuing to dig on this one. The more he
talks about it, the worse it gets.
Chris Christie is being uncharacteristically quiet about everything ever
since he stepped in it on the vaccine issue earlier this week.
But you know, these guys are so advanced in their planning to run for
president stages that they don`t really say or do anything without meaning
to anymore, right? I mean, Chris Christie vetoes anti-pig crate
legislation in New Jersey because obviously he thinks that`s going to play
well in Iowa.
There remains this question here.
Do these guys see this issue as something that might be nationally harmful
at the moment, but that might offer them some sort of short-term political
opportunity that`s not easy to see from the reality-based community?
Both Rand Paul and Chris Christie, yes, they are getting excoriated for
this in the national press, but they`re also pushing back at the liberal
media and yelling at reporters, which they know plays very well on the
They both have a long history of being a little ughy when it comes to the
vaccine issue. Rand Paul and his martial law comments, Chris Christie in
2009, not just meeting with anti-vaccine groups but putting up this letter,
saying he would stand with them as parents who believe that the measles
vaccine causes autism, he would stand with them.
Even something as simple and easy as the Hallmark card that reminds you to
vaccinate your kids, Chris Christie doesn`t do that – most other governors
do – with no explanation as to why.
In the national press, in mainstream politics, what happened to Rand Paul
and Chris Christie this week on the vaccine issue is being treated like,
mmm, misstatement, flub, inappropriate choice of words on an unfortunate
topic that has been very embarrassing for these two men.
But you know what? They both have a track record to back up their hints
this week that the antivaccination conspiracy theorists might have a point.
Thi didn`t come out of nowhere for either of them. There is no national
consistency, there is no mainstream national constituency for playing with
that kind of fire, for playing with vaccine conspiracy theories.
But does this play in a shorter term game for them? Does this play with a
certain part of the conservative electorate that these guys are trying to
woo in order to be president?
Is this not a mistake on either of their parts?
Is this, for instance, an early weird play to try to win a state like Iowa?
Joining us now is Rekha Basu. She`s an editorial page columnist with the
“The Des Moines Register.”
Ms. Basu, thank you very much for being with us.
REKHA BASU, “THE DES MOINES REGISTER”: Thank you so much for having me,
it`s great to be here.
MADDOW: So nationally Chris Christie and Rand Paul, it is seemed that they
have both stepped on it with their comments on vaccinations.
Is that how it is playing in Iowa or is it more nuanced in Iowa?
BASU: I think it is a little bit nuanced in Iowa. We`re trying to stay
measles free here, and with no thanks to these two. But I think that there
is also a segment of the Republican Party that loves to think about
government as the big, bad enemy who is trying to micromanage the way
people live their lives, trying to have control over kids in school and
what they do, and whether they have to have a – be subjected to the core
curriculum and whether they have to be vaccinated.
There has been an interesting tension within the Republican Party here in
Iowa, which is between two factions of it, the conservative Christian wing
and then the more Libertarian wing. I think that they`re making a
calculation that this is an issue that is likely to play with both wings.
On the one hand you have the government off our backs kind of element, and
on the other hand it plays well with religious factions that believe in
homeschooling and who think they should have the right to dictate what goes
on with their children free from government intervention.
So I think they`re making a very calculated move.
I found it very interesting, and I don`t think anyone else has really
picked up on this, but the way that Rand Paul talked about the issue, I
thought it was very telling. The first thing he said, as you might
remember, is states don`t own the children, parents own their children.
Now parents don`t own their children and actually as I said in my column,
from slavery to child sexual abuse, the notion of owning another human
being has never amounted to anything good.
But this idea again of private property, children as private property that
you should be able to do with them what you choose is I think – is I think
nuanced and is a subtle way of signaling to parents that, yes, government
off your back, they should not be intervening; you should be able to make
whatever choices, however stupid and reckless they may be.
MADDOW: The other thing I saw happening here, which I wondered might
resonate in Iowa, particularly among the Iowa conservatives, sort of
trenches of the Republican Party that you`re talking about here, is the way
that both of these men this week have faced national, pretty blistering
criticism in the media for what they have said, but they also have both
taken some swats back at the media. Rand Paul saying, “I wonder how the
liberal media is going to mischaracterize me on this.” Chris Christie
avoiding all comments to the media the next day, except to say to a
reporter with a real sneer, “What part of no questions don`t you
I wonder if there is sort of a welcoming your scorn as a badge of honor
thing that these guys might able to play to their advantage in terms of the
national media being so outraged by what they said.
BASU: Absolutely right, because in Iowa also, which is a state that is
very politically divided, there is a lot of currency in trashing the
liberal media. I hear from those folks every single day.
So, yes, absolutely. I mean, with a wink and a nod, they are signaling to
fellow Republicans and conservatives in Iowa that “we are with you” and,
you know, it`s the big bad media that`s trying to tell us what to do and
how to – but, you know, on the other hand, I mean – they`re backtracking,
they`re trying to walk back their statements. They`re really trying to
have it both ways. On the one hand, sort of signaling that yes, this
should be a parental choice issue. And then on the other hand, saying
later, that, you know, they absolutely, in Chris Christie`s case especially
that he absolutely believes children should be vaccinated. You can`t
really have it both ways.
But in the way, they`re – you know, you have to have some empathy for
them, because they`re a tough spot here. It takes two different things to
win the Iowa caucuses and then win the general election. And right now,
they`re thinking about winning the primary and the nomination.
So, in Iowa, the party tends to be more conservative than the Republican
Party is nationally. So, they are trying so send out all of these cues to
Iowa Republicans that will make them palatable here. But then, they`re
going to have to walk back a significant amount of it if any of them win
the nomination to be palatable to a general electorate.
MADDOW: And that dynamic that makes –
BASU: So, they always –
MADDOW: That dynamic is the thing that makes Republican politics so
spectacularly entertaining every four years, is to see the about-face they
have to go through from Iowa Republicans to the rest of the country.
Rekha Basu –
BASU: Exactly right.
MADDOW: – columnist for “The Des Moines Register” – thank you very much
for your time tonight. I hope you come back and talk to us more. I think
Iowa is playing really large already. We`d love to have you back again.
BASU: I would love to. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: Thanks. Appreciate it.
All right. We`ve got lots more ahead on this very, very busy news night.
Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEL. JOE MORRISSEY (D), VIRGINIA: I found out that I swept all three
precincts in Charles City County, and I found out about 60 seconds after I
walked into the jail. I hadn`t put my suit into the locker that`s assigned
to me. So, I found out and I had my cell handed out before that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Getting elected to public office while you`re in jail? Mostly
seems like a drag, right? I mean, you swept all three precincts but you
were in your cell when you found out about it.
It turns out, though, there is one big upside to being incarcerated and
being an elected state lawmaker at the same time – a big upside. And that
story is head.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: No, the king of Jordan did not personally bomb ISIS today. The
Kingdom of Jordan actually had to put out a statement today clarifying that
no, the king himself did not get into a fighter jet and drop bombs on ISIS
positions. Even though the he-man rumor mill about the king today said
otherwise, said that he personally was flying those jets.
Yes, Jordan`s Facebook page posted this photo of the king in army fatigues.
Yes, he is a trained Cobra attack helicopter pilot. Yes, he is a hands-on
enough king, that he drove himself home from the airport when he flew back
to Jordan yesterday, in response to ISIS killing a Jordanian pilot. But
no, this was not him personally doing this.
Jordan had to formally dispel that rumor in a written statement today
because of the upsurge of patriotic fervor in Jordan about the king. It`s
been driven by the revulsion with what ISIS did to that Jordanian pilot.
Jordan and Bahrain and United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have all
participated to some degree in airstrikes against ISIS targets over the
last few months. Those countries, though, usually don`t say when they`re
doing it or how many airstrikes they have been apart of.
Jordan today broke that silence and gave away that sort of plausibility
deniability all these countries have had about how much these countries
really are attacking ISIS, and Jordan today announced very proudly, that it
was 20 Jordanian F-16 today who attacked ISIS targets in Syria. No, the
king wasn`t flying one of them, but it was 20 Jordanian jets and then they
released videos showing those airstrikes against ISIS targets.
Nobody knows how much more Jordan is now willing and able to do against
ISIS that they haven`t been doing before today. But this show of force
today was basically a military roar from that country as they are enraged
by the torture and murder of their air force pilot at the hands of ISIS.
In the wake of that ISIS video showing the death of the pilot that was
released yesterday, it was reported yesterday in “The New York Times” that
one of the Arab partners in this coalition against ISIS, United Arab
Emirates, they have not participated in air strikes at all since that
Jordanian pilot crashed and was captured inside of Syria on Christmas Eve.
The UAE reportedly told the United States that they didn`t think there were
adequate search and rescue assets in place to protect and rescue pilots if
a pilot did crash during these anti-ISIS airstrikes.
That was reported yesterday. The U.S. military pushed back against that
concern, after “The New York Times” published this report.
But today, look at this – today, defense officials say the U.S. military
has now moved to address those concerns. The U.S. has now moved search and
rescue crews closer to the action. They have moved search and rescue crews
into northern Iraq, which is what was requested by UAE. Quote, “The action
is intended to shorten response times for search and rescue teams.”
If, God forbid, another pilot from any country goes down over ISIS-
controlled territory, will this change, the shift in the search and rescue
assets? Will it make it more likely that the pilot could be rescued
instead of captured by ISIS? If so, sixth months after pilots started
flying these sorties against ISIS, why did it take until today to do it?
Why did it take until today to move the search and rescue crews closer to
Maybe there is a good reason it didn`t happen until today, but I`d love to
hear it. Maybe we will find out if and when Washington debates what we`re
doing against ISIS, whether it`s working, and whether it can be done
Now, I can report that that might finally happen. There is news today that
congressional leaders have been told by the White House to expect that in
the next few days, the White House is going to send over draft language for
Congress to debate on and vote on about authorizing this war that we are
already now six months into, finally.
Joining us now is a member of Congress who has been pushing as hard as
anyone for Congress to take an authorization vote on this war, Congressman
Adam Schiff of California is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence
Congressman, thank you so much for your time tonight.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: So, you have been one of a few persistent voices in Congress
saying Congress needs to vote to authorize this war against ISIS. Do you
now feel like it`s finally going to happen?
SCHIFF: I do, and it`s obviously been a very long time and coming. We`re
almost six months into this war. Before the elections, I think the
administration and members were content to going into elections without
having to have a potentially difficult debate and vote on this. And then,
after the elections, there was a desire to put it off even more.
But we kicked that can as far down the road as we possibly can and I`m
grateful now that the administration is deeply engaged with Congress and I
hope we will have a draft and a vote fairly soon.
MADDOW: So, you, of course, have written your own language for how you
would propose that Congress could authorize this war. I mean, should
Congress be writing this language yourself? Should it be coming from the
White House? It seems like there was a very esoteric and abstract debate
about that for a long time. Now, it does seem like there will be language
coming from the White House.
SCHIFF: Well, we did have a long debate over that, and, frankly, the
Congress itself, whether we`re usually the institution that drafts it or
the administration does, it`s the Congress`s interest in it that is most at
stake. If the administration continues to rely on these two old
authorizations, it doesn`t in any way eviscerate the administration`s power
to make war, but it does mean that the congressional check and balance is
So, whether it should have come from one quarter or the other, we have the
most at stake here, and I think we should have done more proactively to
make this happen. But ultimately, it is happening now, and it`s going to
be a tough call because there are a number of very important issues to be
MADDOW: We had a minor miracle on this show this week when a Republican, a
serving conservative Republican senator agreed to come on this show. It
was Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. And we`re talking about the veteran
suicide prevention legislation that has passed and the president is
expected to sign soon.
But I asked him if he thought there was any other thing, any other area of
policy where there might be a true bipartisan vote, or at least a
nonpartisan vote where people`s party affiliation didn`t predict how they
were going to come down on the issue, and the one thing that he singled was
an authorization for the use of military force.
He proposed to me as a conservative Republican senator, that he thinks this
vote is going to be unpredictable and not driven by party politics.
Do you agree with him on that?
SCHIFF: I agree with him in part. I mean, there won`t – this bill won`t
break down along complete party lines. But there are some substantial
differences between the parties on this. By and large, most of the
conservative Republicans want to give the president a very broad
authorization without limits in time, place, or manner. And I think many
Democrats feel very differently. We also support an authorization, but
want it narrowly tailored so that we don`t get another massive ground
occupation of Syria or Iraq, so that there are time limits on this.
And I think importantly, that there is at least a time limit set on the old
authorization, the 2001 authorization, because if we should pass something
new that is ISIL-only focused, and even if that sunsets, if we don`t sunset
the old one, then when the new one expires the future president can really
say, I`m going to rely on the old one just the way President Obama did.
So, to have any real limitation in terms of time, we not only have to
sunset the new one, but we have to at least sunset the old one.
MADDOW: Right. And without that authorization that`s specific in terms of
time, then, an authorization passed in 2001 becomes a permanent
authorization for a war whenever a president feels like it, with no way in
for Congress at all. Boy, is this a debate that needs to happen.
Congressman Adam Schiff of California, you`ve done more than anybody else
to make this happen. Thanks very much for your time tonight, and
congratulations on making it this far.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. Coming up next, a brief but powerful story about the upside to
winning an elected office while you are in jail.
Plus, we`ve got the best new thing in the world.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hello, Igor.
TRYCIA MCKINNEY: So, we are, it`s a day early, but we`re looking at swag
to give to give away tomorrow on the Friday night news dump.
MCKINNEY: So let`s just start here. Do you remember back in the day, way
before the Sochi Olympics, there was this big push by women ski jumpers to
get added to the games?
MADDOW: They were excluded because they were worried that like women
jiggle too much when they ski-jump –
MCKINNEY: Their lady part.
MADDOW: Their lady parts could be hurt.
MCKINNEY: So, anyway, these are just some brochures I just found, and
stickers and things. There`s some in Russian and –
MADDOW: Them making the case we should be allowed to. We are ready to
MCKINNEY: The time is now.
MADDOW: I would be willing to part with one of the Russian language ones.
MCKINNEY: And the sticker maybe? We got extra.
MADDOW: That`s conceivable. Get it?
MCKINNEY: This I just broke, I think. But this I don`t know why we have
it, but it`s a knuckle ring, but one of the rings just broke up.
MADDOW: The knuckle ring that says big daddy.
MCKINNEY: Big daddy and a chain. I have no idea.
MADDOW: Honestly, where was this in the office?
MCKINNEY: It was in a bag in a drawer. It`s been there for years, I
think. I don`t know.
MADDOW: It`s not somebody`s?
MCKINNEY: I don`t think so.
MADDOW: It`s yours now.
MADDOW: You ain`t to big daddy, you ain`t nobody. OK, all right.
MCKINNEY: So that`s a possibility. Then I thought maybe –
MADDOW: How many do we have? We have 12?
MCKINNEY: Yes, but I don`t think we`ll send all 12. It`s a lot of
MADDOW: It`s also a big burden for the person who receives them.
MCKINNEY: We could send one.
MADDOW: I don`t know. I`m very torn. What would you want?
MCKINNEY: I think I would want the football.
MADDOW: Yes, me too.
MADDOW: Let`s give the person a choice between the big daddy, four knuckle
ring and chain, or the football.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Commonwealth of Virginia likes to think of itself as a good
government kind of state – a clean, no corruption state that`s getting
harder to say with a straight face, as the state`s last governor is now
headed to federal prison. The former first lady of the state is awaiting
And just this past month, this guy was re-elected to the Virginia state
legislature, from jail. Democratic State Rep Joseph Morrissey is in jail
on a number of charges related to him having sex with a minor. He`s 57
years old by the way. But Virginia voters re-elected him anyway, while
he`s in jail.
Now, though, his unique housing arrangement has become sort of a dog that`s
eating its own tail, because yesterday, he cast a vote as a state rep, on
whether or not people in jail in Virginia should be able to get obscene
materials while they are in jail. He is in jail, which gives him some
unique insight, no?
Representative Morrissey voted against a ban on obscene materials, which
may not have made him very popular with the rest of his friends who voted
the other way, but it did probably make him popular with his friends at
home – his friends at home with him where he lives, in jail.
Just the latest installment in the ongoing saga on how the word
“politician” became a name you call someone if you`re trying to make that
person punch you.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today. Here we go.
2000 – year 2000, a man named Bobby Chen bought this property in
Baltimore, a row house about three blocks north of Johns Hopkins Hospital.
He purchased it for $900. It`s such a deal for a house.
Eight years later, though, there was – let`s call it an accident. The
headline from “The Baltimore Sun”, “Demolition overdone.” The city was
demolishing the house next to Bobby Chen`s house, but in the process, they
took out his house, as well. Whoops. This empty lot is where Bobby Chen`s
house used to be. He sued Baltimore, wouldn`t you?
But his lawsuit was dismissed not on the basis of its legal merits, but
because he missed the filing deadline. Bobby Chen, though, did not give
up. He decided to petition the United States Supreme Court to hear his
case. He did it by himself without a lawyer. He did a lot of it by hand,
as in handwritten a 61-page document, listed like his monthly salary, his
monthly expenses. He argued that the Supreme Court should exempt him from
the $300 fee you pay to file a suit at the Supreme Court because he showed
he didn`t have $300 to spend.
Thousands of people petition the Supreme Court every year, thousands, lots
with legions of lawyers and lots of money to spend on those lawyers, and
the vast majority of those people don`t get their cases heard.
But in November, the Supreme Court announced that they were going to hear
Bobby Chen`s handwritten case. So, come on down, Bobby Chen, make your
case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Best new thing in
the world, right? Bobby Chen, Bobby - Mr. Chen, has anybody – they could
not find him.
He didn`t provide a phone number on his petition. The e-mail address he
listed stopped working. The Supreme Court sent someone to the address he
had provided but nobody there had seen him in months. Oh, and his other
house got knocked down.
So, despite having his case selected by the Supreme Court, with a petition
he filed and wrote out himself, his case was again dismissed for missing
the deadline because nobody could find him in time to meet the deadline –
until now. Mr. Chen has not only reemerged but he has done so with an
exclamation point. His petition for rehearing is being taken up by three
high power lawyers, including Paul Clement, who is a very conservative guy,
famous guy, once served as U.S. attorney general for one day. He`s
considered to be the foremost Supreme Court litigator in the country and
he`s now Bobby Chen`s lawyer.
Bobby Chen has been found. I still don`t know where he was. There`s
something about a slip and fall accident in California. But his case is
getting heard and he`s got the biggest big shot lawyer in the world to help
him. Bobby Chen, best comeback ever, best thing in the world.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>