The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/11/15
ROBERT GIBBS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He`s a very accomplished
leader. But, you know, I think this is just the first of many questions
that he`s going to get that are going to be tough on this.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Michael Steele, Robert Gibbs, thank you
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Happy
One of the things that happens at the onset of allergy season is that
either because of allergies or because of the drugs we are all taking as a
nation to cope with our allergies right now, everything can feel a little
fuzzy. You know what I mean? I, for example, am drinking about five times
my normal quotient of caffeine these days to overcome my allergy-induced
One other option, though, if you need a little brain power boost this
time of year, is that you could just wear your brain on the outside. One
of the things you can buy at the living miracle that is Eetsy.com is this
super creepy, super cool wool beanie, 22 inches in circumference, which
shows your brain as if it is on the outside of your head. And it`s in
pretty anatomically appropriate pink.
Also at Etsy right now, a large variety of eight-foot-long body
pillows, body pillows, they`re designed to be hugged by your whole body and
they are in the shape of a giant squid. Why stop at just one? You could
have a whole family of them.
In the earring department at Etsy, they`ve got a pretty good run going
on moose poop. There are a lot of poop-themed things on Etsy. This, for
example, is soft plushy poop shaped tissue box cover. You can pull your
tissues right out of the poop pile. A lot of people make hand soap in the
shape of dog poop which is very funny.
Here is a $4,000 table lamp showing a Doberman doing exactly what you
think he`s doing. The floor switch is – yes. The name of this piece is
called “Good Boy.” There`s also a smaller one that`s a bright red
Chihuahua. Same idea, though, same switch.
The poop earrings, though, I`ve got to say, remarkable, really. They
are guaranteed no smell. Wild collected moose droppings from Maine,
according to the maker, that has been dried, coated in polyurethane,
bejeweled, in this case with rhinestones and then turned into earrings.
Actually, in the case of this specific one, it`s just earring. This
is just one single drop earring. You see in the description there, real
moose poop doo-doo nugget.
Etsy – Etsy is an amazing thing. Americans are amazing people.
Americans are entrepreneurial in all sorts of amazing ways. But one woman
selling weird earrings on Etsy out of her Jewelry studio in Akron, Ohio,
had an unexpected run on one of her designs this spring. And it was
because of something that happened in Colorado.
The earrings that she makes and sells on Etsy look like this, they`re
like little upside down T`s. She makes them in all sorts of different
colors. Some have glitter, some of them don`t.
But what they are is that they`re IUDs. They`re intrauterine devices.
You might remember during the lead up to the election last year, we
ended up doing a big run of reporting on IUDs in the election, because IUDs
were unexpectedly right at the center of election politics in Colorado last
year. Colorado over the past five years has had a huge public health
success story in reducing the teen pregnancy rate in that state, reducing
the teen pregnancy rate and teen birth rate and teen abortion rate.
And the way they did it was that they had a state program that made it
really easy for young women to get IUDs, regardless of their insurance
status, regardless of their ability to pay. These earrings are not actual
IUDs, but the IUDs really look just like this, this tiny device.
And the basic idea in Colorado was that young women should be able to
decide whether or not they wanted to be pregnant. They should get access
to this contraceptive method, because using a contraceptive method like
this one would make it their reality that they could decide when they
wanted to be pregnant and when they did not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. STEPHANIE TEAL, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:
You know, it`s funny, because traditionally, again, that really wasn`t the
population that we were thinking about with IUDs. It really was initially
marketed as something for married women who have had, you know, a couple of
But again, we`re really trying to turn the paradigm on its head, that
instead of having to do something every single day to stay non-pregnant,
let`s just do one thing, make non-pregnant the default state, and then when
you want to get pregnant, great, come on in. Start your prenatals. We`ll
take out your IUD or your implant and you`re all set to get pregnant.
Young people have such complex lives. You know, sometimes I`m at my
mom`s, sometimes at my dad`s, sometimes I`m at my apartment, sometimes I`m
at my boyfriend`s apartment. I have two part-time jobs and I go to school.
Try to take a pill at the same time, every day. Forget about it.
And that`s why we see the failure rate of pills, patch and ring are
actually twice as high for women under 21 as women over 21. It`s not that
the pharmacology is different. And somehow the medicine doesn`t work in
young people. It`s that it`s complex to use.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So the state of Colorado dropped their teen birth rate by 40
percent. They dropped their teen abortion rate by 35 percent, over just a
really short period of years – four or five years. This is this wildly
successful program that kept young women in Colorado from getting pregnant
when they did not want to. It has been a huge success story, a national
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association just
this year gave Colorado an award for having the premier public health
program in the country on this issue. And then the day after Colorado got
that award, Colorado voted to kill the program. Colorado Republicans in
the state Senate voted to kill that program. And they killed it.
Republicans did really well in the 2014 elections, almost everywhere
in the country. But they did great in Colorado in 2014. Mark Udall lost
his U.S. Senate seat to Cory Gardner. Colorado State Senate had been
Democratic controlled. It flipped to the Republicans.
Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado did manage to hold
on to his job in 2014 but barely. He got a scare from Republican former
Congressman Bob Beauprez. One of the things that Bob Beauprez campaigned
on against John Hickenlooper was that he, Bob Beauprez, was opposed to the
IUD. He said he didn`t believe in that kind of contraception. He said
taxpayers shouldn`t be funding that sort of thing in Colorado.
And that was a significant part of the ground on which that
gubernatorial election was contested in 2014. But even though Bob Beauprez
did not win the governorship, enough Republicans did win in Colorado that
year, and the Colorado Senate specifically that Bob Beauprez ended up
getting his way on the IUD anyway. It became a Republican priority to kill
that birth control program that had been so successful, national award-
winning, national premier program in terms of public health. And it became
their priority to kill it.
Both the House and the Senate needed to overtly vote to continue the
funding for that program, and the Republicans in control in the Senate,
zeroed out the funding for it. So, it`s dead.
People thought really hard in Colorado to try to hold on to that
successful program. That is part of why people – part of the reason why
people bought so many IUD earrings off of Etsy. IUD earrings and also I
guess they made IUD lapel pins for the gents.
But it was not enough. The best teen pregnancy prevention program in
the country just got killed because Republicans took over.
In North Carolina, we recently reported on the efforts of Republicans
in that state legislature to unravel their own health care claim to fame.
The OB/GYN training at the University of North Carolina Medical Schools is
considered to be the best in the South. That whole region of the country,
nobody is better at training those kinds of doctors than UNC is.
But North Carolina Republican legislators recently proposed new anti-
abortion legislation that would put UNC at risk of losing accreditation for
their med school training facilities by passing a new state law, which
would have limited what doctors were allowed to learn or teach or practice
doing while they were doing their training at UNC.
I think when they realized they might be un-accrediting their star
state medical school, Republican legislators in North Carolina backed off
that provision they had been pushing.
But they`re not giving up all together. And what they are moving
ahead with now is going to look equally awkward on a bumper sticker. North
Carolina Republicans already tried to change the law, to force women to
have medically unnecessary ultrasounds if they wanted to get an abortion in
that state. You might remember that ultrasound law from North Carolina was
struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year.
Well, now what they want to do is not only try again to force you to
have a medically unnecessary ultrasound even if you don`t want one, even if
your doctors don`t want you to have one. They`re going to make you have
it, and then they`re going to make you turn it over to them. They`re going
to force you to share your ultrasound and put it on file with the state
government, because presumably the state government in North Carolina has
nothing better to do than keep pieces of your medical records in their
files so they can keep tabs on you both inside and out.
And the great state of Tennessee, they just enacted a new law to close
clinics across the state, the same way that Texas and Ohio and Wisconsin
have done to shut down clinics across the states – across those three
states. Oklahoma`s governor just signed into law a new three-day mandatory
waiting period for any woman who wants to get an abortion in that state.
The great state of Alabama is dealing with a huge catastrophe when it
comes to their budget this year. It`s a really big crisis in that state.
They`re considering everything up and including legalizing gambling
statewide in order to deal with this mess they have gotten themselves into.
But this mess they have gotten themselves into doesn`t mean they don`t
have time to pass more anti-abortion legislation. The state legislature in
Alabama just advanced three new anti-abortion laws in the past week,
including one that would effectively ban abortion all together in that
state. The great state of Arkansas just this year has passed six new laws
banning and restricting abortion.
“The New York Times” reported that as of last week, 11 states have
passed 37 new anti-abortion laws already in just the first five months of
And this is turning out to be a very salient indicator of party
politics in our country. I mean, they`re just – I mean, despite the way
it gets talked about, there really aren`t that many things, that many
specific things where if Democrats are in control, it goes one way. And if
Republicans are in control, it goes 180 degrees the opposite way.
Usually, yes, there`s things in which the parties disagree,
definitely. There is a reason for partisanship. Usually, it`s a little
fuzzy around the edges when it comes to specific policies. There`s a
little overlap, a little uncertainty.
Not on this, though. This is the brightest policy line of them all.
Everywhere, where Republicans are in control, they have been moving to
prioritize anti-abortion and increasingly, anti birth control policies.
Still. Still, in 2015. And when Democrats are in control, conversely,
they try to undo those things.
The great state of Virginia, for example, they have odd year elections
and as Republican as things went nationwide in 2014, Virginia went in the
opposite direction in 2013, Virginia had had a whole slate of Republican
statewide elected officials from Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli on down
heading into those 2013 elections but in 2013, Democrats beat Republicans
for every statewide race in Virginia, and as diligently as Republicans had
worked in that state to pass new abortion restrictions, the Democrats know
they`re in charge have been trying to undo that work.
Republican Ken Cuccinelli when he was attorney general in Virginia, he
advanced a whole new regulatory system that would have had the effect of
shutting down most abortion clinics in that state by order of the state
government. Last week, the new attorney general who is a Democrat who
succeeded Ken Cuccinelli, his name is Mark Herring, last week mark herring
up ended those regulations and ruled they couldn`t be used to close down
Virginia`s existing clinics and so Virginia`s clinics will stay open.
There are sharp differences between the parties still on a lot of
culture war issues. Every Republican running for president, all 21 that we
know of at this point who are either running or likely to run, all of them,
for example, are opposed to gay people having the right to get married.
All of them. All of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton included, say the
opposite. Say they`re OK with it.
We`re going to have another one of these issues come up this summer
when we get that Supreme Court ruling in June on the constitutionality of
lethal injection. If that ruling, as expected, restarts a national debate
on the death penalty, we will find, again, in all likelihood that all the
Republicans hold one position on that and all the Democrats hold the other
But even as the Beltway press has moved on, right, even as the Beltway
press mostly ignores this or treats this as an old issue from a previous
election, that surprises them every time it keeps coming around –
honestly, when you look at what`s going on in the country right now, the
clearest single active governing priority for Republicans at the local
level, at the state level, and at the federal level, the thing they work on
when they work on nothing else is anti-abortion activism. Still. 2015.
This week in Congress, they`ve got a huge amount of stuff on their
plate, most of it being foisted on them by external timetables.
A federal judge last week ruled the NSA bulk data collection thing
that Edward Snowden blew the whistle on, a judge ruled last week it`s
unconstitutional. The ruling was the end of last week. By the end of this
week, Congress has to vote on whether or not to reauthorize that program.
That`s a pressing matter.
We`ve also got a vote this week on the big defense appropriations
bill. That means they will be studiously ignoring the question of whether
or not the war against is in Iraq and Syria is an authorized war. It
actually takes active work to keep ignoring that question. While also
authorizing this year`s Pentagon spending and as that fighting goes into
its ninth month.
There is also a very sensitive issue that`s going to come up in that
bill, which Republicans are all tied up in knots about. It`s the question
of whether or not you can enlist in the military even if you did not come
to this country legally.
There`s also a very thorny question about whether or not Congress can
force President Obama to keep Guantanamo open. That will be part of this
defense bill. All of that will be voted on this week in this big defense
Tomorrow, they have also got to take their vote in the Senate on this
trade deal that`s turned into a huge fight among Democrats. This big split
between the White House and liberal Democrats on whether or not they`re
going to approve that trade deal, Republicans almost never get a chance to
showcase Democrats hating on each other and talking smack about each other
and having big substantive disagreements with each other. But they will
get that this week with the vote in the – on the trade deal tomorrow which
absolutely divides the Democratic Party.
So, there is a lot going on on Capitol Hill this week, with all
different levels of political salience and political danger. But even with
all of that happening all at once this week, it doesn`t mean there isn`t
enough time for the Republican Party`s number-one priority. House
Republicans already tried once this year to pass a new nationwide ban on
abortion after 20 weeks.
They are going to bring it back again tomorrow, in the middle of all
this other stuff going on. After they couldn`t get it passed last time,
they`re bringing it back. Now with new rape-related provisions, now there
– as far as I understand it, the language is a little unclear to me.
But as far as I can tell, there appears to be what is in effect a
waiting period for rape victims, where they want the federal government to
force you to sit and wait and think it over, Missy, as to whether or not
you are sure you do not want to bear the rapist`s child. So, a de facto
federal waiting period for rape victims.
They`re also having a hard time sorting out exactly how lax they want
to be on incest victims. So, if you get pregnant by your own father or
uncle or brother or what-have-you, Republicans in Congress have been
working hard on the details as to whether or not you`ll be allowed to get
an abortion after 20 weeks, only if you are age 17 or younger. If you are
18 when your male relative impregnated you, Republicans in the House have
been having a hard time deciding whether in that instance Congress should
actually force you to have that baby.
This is a bill in which even Republican women in the House revolted
earlier this year. When the new Congress started up this January, this is
one of the first pieces of legislation that house Republicans decided they
need to move on. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, still says
this is one of the Republicans` top three priorities for this year in
Congress. That they want to get this abortion ban passed, with the rape
stuff in it, and the incest stuff in it and all the rest of it.
They couldn`t even get it past their own female members a few weeks
ago. But they`re going back at it tomorrow, because it is – it is the
most salient Republican governing priority in this country. If they do
nothing else, they do this.
The beltway press never covers it that way. But that is exactly
what`s going on. Still.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She`s co-chair of the
Pro-Choice Caucus in the House.
Congresswoman DeGette, thanks for being with us tonight. Nice to see
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I will admit to being fuzzy on the language as to what
has ended up being in this new iteration of the House Republicans` abortion
ban. Do you understand what it is they`re going to ask for a vote on in
terms of these rape and incest provisions and all the rest?
DEGETTE: Well, it just seems like they keep doubling down on the
burdens on these victims. The rape – what we (AUDIO GAP) victims will now
have to prove in writing that they made a complaint to a government agency
or law enforcement agency. And same thing with the incest victims, which
is just appalling to me to say somebody who has been the victim of incest
now is required to report that to a law enforcement official or she can`t
get an abortion.
I mean, once again, they are just – they`re just revictimizing the
victims. It`s the same kind of outrageous language that did make the
Republican women walk the last time. They had to pull the bill from the
floor, which is a first for me. I haven`t seen something like that.
And now, this just looks like they`re making it even worse.
MADDOW: So, I mean, the implication of this is – and I mean, I don`t
want to put words in their mouths. But the implication of this to me is
that they believe that women are faking being victims of incest, so as to
access abortions they wouldn`t otherwise legally be able to get under a law
like this. I mean, if you have to prove written documentation, that
implies your word isn`t strong enough.
DEGETTE: Right. I mean, I think you`re right. What they`re saying
is, that women who just want to have abortions after 20 weeks, which is
very rare anyway, are going to now fake being a rape or incest victim in
order to get it. It`s just ludicrous. And it is so disrespectful to women
in general, and to rape and incest victims. It`s just appalling.
MADDOW: Do – is it your sense that the Republicans have I guess
gotten past the objections within their own caucus, particularly women in
their own Republican caucus, and that they do have a way to pass this? Do
you think this is something that ultimately is going to end up on President
DEGETTE: Well, I – when I first heard they were bringing it up this
week again, I thought they must have watered it down somehow or something
to get people`s approval. When I looked at the language today, I really
couldn`t believe that they could have anymore support than they had before.
Because I think the bill is worse.
And so, I`ll be shocked if all these Republican women and some of the
more moderate Republican men vote for it. If they do, it will go to the
Senate. I can`t imagine that they could get 60 votes in the Senate over
there. But I`ll guarantee you: President Obama will veto it if it comes to
MADDOW: Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado, who is the chair of
the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House and from a state that has had its own
roller coaster ride on these issues recently – thanks very much for being
with us. Nice to have you here.
DEGETTE: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. We`ve got lots more ahead including another major front in
the culture wars that the Beltway media is underreporting. But don`t
worry, there`s others of us around, too.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve got lots ahead tonight, including stories you will not
see anywhere else, including one from the state of Vermont. The lovely
state of Vermont, continuing to be a big surprise for not good reasons.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, in January, the speaker of the House in New York was
arrested on federal corruption charges. That was the speaker of the House.
Then, last week, the leader of the state Senate was arrested too, on
totally different charges. But federal corruption charges, as well. The
state Senate guy is charged basically with doing public favors for
companies that paid money to his son.
One problem New York Republicans have faced in terms of replacing him
as head of the Senate now that he`s been arrested and indicted is that the
number two Republican in the state Senate was also arrested and indicted
last year, also on federal corruption charges, also for allegedly doing
favors for companies who he wanted to help out his son. Hey!
Legislators find it hard enough to decide what to do when their
leadership gets indicted and arrested, even without the next in line guy
having been indicted and arrested for the exact same thing. But today,
they decided in New York that the state Senate president would step down
from his leadership job while he prepares to go on trial, and they did have
to skip down the list a little bit to find the next guy. But they did pick
a replacement for the state Senate president, who isn`t actively under
indictment. Nor has he been arrested any time in recent memory. Although
I better check my notes.
So congratulations there, New York state legislature. It might even
feel weird now to have absolutely no federal charges pending against one of
your legislative leaders for a minute.
And it isn`t often that anybody besides New Jersey really truly
competes with New York for the lowest stinking ring in the ethical sewer of
state legislative politics. But this week, the competition comes from an
unexpectedly nice place. It comes from Vermont, where one veteran state
senator is making local news reporters in Vermont say things they probably
never thought they would have to say on TV in their whole Vermont careers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The 63-year-old senator, who lives in this home in
Franklin, allegedly forced his female farm workers to engage in sexual
acts, according to investigators. Court paperwork says victims were told
they could live in this trailer in exchange for sex.
In addition, at least one victim told police the senator offered to
take her to a farm where she could have sex with a group of farm hands for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On Thursday, State Senator Norm McAllister was arrested by
Vermont police at the state capitol during a break in the Senate debates.
Two other Republican state senators briefly interceded with the police and
said they were acting as Senator McAllister`s lawyers as he was being
arrested and questioned.
Following morning, Friday morning, he was charged with three counts of
felony sexual assault and three counts of prohibited acts. The criminal
complaint against him alleges that a pattern of assaults on multiple women,
going back several years. State police say they know of three alleged
victims so far, but they say there may be more.
That was Friday. Since then, it`s been reported that the senator`s
alleged crimes may be worse than what was in the criminal complaint
unsealed by prosecutors on Friday. One of the accusers telling the Vermont
paper this weekend, that she may have been as young as 15 when the senator,
she says, first assaulted her on his farm.
She went on to be his assistant at the Vermont statehouse, where she
claims the assaults continued in the Montpellier apartment he shared with
two other lawmakers. So, that`s what`s unfolding in Vermont of all places.
But here`s the thing: the senator is apparently not stepping down,
still serving as a senator while out on bail on these charges.
Vermont`s governor has called on him to resign. The speaker of the
House has called on him to resign. The president of the State Senate has
called on him to resign. They`re all Democrats, though, and he`s a
But then, the state`s top-ranking Republican, lieutenant governor,
said yes, Senator McAllister would resign. But apparently nobody told
Senator McAllister that, and he would not resign and would not say if he
He also told the “Burlington Free Press” that he has had, quote, “had
better days.” Yes, you`re not the only one, Senator. Vermont Senator Norm
McAllister has set a new bar for horrifying indictment of a sitting
lawmaker. It remains to be seen whether he will also set a new bar for
state legislators who continue to serve while under that horrifying
Watch this space. This absolutely disgusting space.
MADDOW: To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nazi surrender in
World War II, Russia threw a giant party in Moscow over the weekend. One
of Russian President Vladimir Putin`s buddies who came to Moscow for the
parade was Mr. Putin`s best American friend, Steven Seagal – one time but
no longer pony-tailed 1990s action hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN SEAGAL, ACTOR: You know, you shouldn`t knock Chinese potions.
I have something in my pocket right now that will completely clear up that
bruise on your forehead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bruise?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While Steven Seagal`s presence at Russia`s victory parade
this weekend was admittedly weird, both in Russian terms and international
terms, it was not the weirdest thing that happened at that parade. And
that is just ahead with pictures.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, if the news cycle ever lets me out of the office again,
this might be where I go first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The new great passion play. In the small Victorian village
of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the beautiful Ozark Mountains is America`s
number-one outdoor drama. See the story of the Passion of Christ up close.
Close enough to hear the cheering followers as they lay palm branches
before him as he enters Jerusalem. Close enough to hear the wheels Roman
carriers and the horses` hooves upon the cobble streets. Close enough to
hear the donkeys` bray and the sounds of the marketplace.
These sights and sounds will transport you and your senses back over
2,000 years into the very heart of the greatest story ever told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The great passion play runs every year in the warm months in
Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It`s been seen by millions of people over the
past half century from May until October every year. You can take the Holy
Land tour. You can get close enough to hear the donkeys` bray. You can
also see the gigantic Christ of the Ozark`s statue.
This is Eureka Springs, Arkansas, part of the Ozark Mountains up in
the northwest corner of the state by Fayetteville. Eureka Springs is known
for its natural springs, which are supposed to be good for you, known for
its passion play, known for its big Christ statue, known for its arts
festival, and its Victorian looking shops and streets. It`s a cool place
that attracts and welcomes everybody, generally.
Eureka Springs is a small town, only a couple thousand people live
there. This is the local government. When something comes up, city
council can all spit around party table and talk it out. A few months ago,
for example, they debated a recommendation for how to throw away yard waste
and another for repairing a parking lot by the town auditorium. They
debated a measure to ban circus animals from town which they decided to do.
But while they were tending locally to the business of Eureka Springs,
state lawmakers in the state capital were also in session. The Arkansas
legislature decided in their infinite wisdom that they as a state would ban
local cities and towns from passing anti-discrimination laws. The state
legislature banned Arkansas cities and towns from making that decision on
Because the Eureka Springs Council could see that bill working its way
toward their relatively gay-friendly tourist town in Arkansas, they
preemptively passed anti discrimination ordinance for Eureka Springs. All
present voted aye. It was unanimous. No discrimination in Eureka Springs.
They were not the first town to try this in a red state or even within
Arkansas. Last summer, the city council and the college town of
Fayetteville, Arkansas, also passed a civil rights ordinance for their
town. But then the Fayetteville civil rights ordinance got put up for
repeal. The graffiti on this sign from the election is a little hard to
read, but it`s a three-letter word that starts with an F and ends with a G.
Fayetteville, Arkansas, lost its anti-discrimination ordinance, got
put up for referendum and lost.
Same thing happened last month in Springfield, Missouri. City council
in Springfield, Missouri, passed a nondiscrimination bill but then the bill
was struck down in a voter referendum. The college town of Starkville,
Mississippi, they got themselves a big profile in “The New York Times”
because of their progressive policies in deepest Mississippi. But then the
same Starkville, Mississippi, officials who voted in those
nondiscrimination policies then voted to take them away.
And then we have the little town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where
they passed their civil rights ordinance, city council level, but that
ordinance is up for repeal, decision time in Eureka Springs. It`s a voter
referendum. The residents of Eureka Springs voting tomorrow on whether or
not they want to keep their new equality ordinance or whether they want to
erase it from the books.
The side trying to throw the thing out says the vote is, quote,
“basically a crapshoot”, could go either way. The side trying to keep the
nondiscrimination ordinance sees it as the right thing to do. The
counselor who introduced it in the first place tells the “A.P.” today,
quote, “We don`t go by convention. Somebody else us you can`t do
something, well, watch us.”
The big arc of gay rights in this country the last few years has been
toward more. The shorter term story of gay rights, though, particularly in
the South has been toward less. We are experiencing a short term period of
backlash, at least in the South, this effort to rescind existing
discrimination provisions that protect gay people.
That mini trend is going to get a test tomorrow in Eureka Springs,
which may tell us more about how big a trend this actually is.
Joining us now is Andrew DeMillo, capitol correspondent for the Little
Rock bureau of the “Associated Press”.
Mr. DeMillo, thanks very much for being with us.
ADNREW DEMILLO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, Eureka Springs sees itself very much as a tourist town.
They market themselves very well, even nationally, not just throughout the
South as a tourist town.
What sort of powers that be in town and businesses there think about
DEMILLO: You know, when you walk around downtown eureka springs, you
see a lot of signs in favor of keeping the ordinance. As you referred to
it, Eureka Springs kind of has an interesting dichotomy there, the great
Passion play and Christ of the Ozarks which attracts tens of thousands of
people each year.
But this is also a town known as very LGBT-friendly community, very
inclusive, you know, very artsy community. And these are both very
important parts of the town`s identity. And this is really kind of a kind
of test to the relationship between those two identities.
MADDOW: As far as you can tell, could you predict what`s going to
happen tomorrow? Do you feel you know which way this is going to go?
DEMILLO: It`s – you know, it`s very hard to predict. It`s a special
election, especially a town of its size, a little over 2,000 people. Only
about 1,600, 1,700 of whom are registered voters.
My understanding is they have had early voting for the past week.
They actually had at least 400 people cast early ballots, which is, you
know, very strong turnout, very strong turnout for special election. And I
think it`s something that the supporters of the ordinance see as a very
MADDOW: In terms of supporters of the nondiscrimination ordinance in
terms of keeping it, they see that as a positive sign.
MADDOW: From your perch in Little Rock, and when you look at the gay
rights politics that are happening right now around the marriage issue,
around the religious freedom bill that came up in Arkansas that`s also come
up in other states, do you feel like there is a backlash that is against
those things that is organic? Or are those types of advances and those
types of debates just sort of being harnessed by people who have a
preexisting interest in this issue and are using this moment to try to push
the agenda that they have wanted to go forward with anyway?
DEMILLO: You`re definitely seeing a backlash at the local level to
this. Before Eureka Springs vote tomorrow, we`ve seen cities of little
rock and hot springs pass anti- discrimination ordinances that were more
limited dealing with city employees, city developed doors, Pulaski County,
the most populous county and where Little Rock is located looking at a
And this is really kind of a local pushback to the restriction on
these anti-discrimination ordinances but also as you mentioned, the
religious freedom measure in Arkansas.
So, you are seeing kind of this local pushback, and really the
pushback being kind of based on a business argument from these cities who
are saying they want to send a different message than what they thought was
sent during the legislative session here.
MADDOW: Andrew DeMillo, capitol correspondent for the “A.P.” in
Little Rock, it`s going to be fascinating to see how this goes tomorrow.
Thanks for helping us understand. Appreciate it.
DEMILLO: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more still to come.
Did you see the speech the first lady just gave? Have you seen this?
You have not seen anything like this if you have not seen this exact thing.
That and more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a thing that just happened. Imagine $180 million.
Picturing that? $180 million. Now, which would you rather have? Would
you rather have $180 million or would you rather have this?
There is at least one person in the world who finds that to be a
This is a Pablo Picasso work called Le Femme d`Alger Version O. It
was painted in 1955. Tonight, it just set the world record as the most
expensive work of art ever sold at auction, $179,365,000.
You give Christie`s that much money, they give you this. That is an
exchange that just happened.
MADDOW: Sometimes, 80 years is not too late to right a wrong. This
is how the United States Military Academy at West Point is trying to make
something right for one of their cadets who graduated 79 years ago. These
are new barracks for West Point cadets, and they`re going to be named after
His name is Benjamin O. Davis Jr. He was from Washington, D.C. He
was the son of a career army officer, and West Point was willing to let him
in as an African-American cadet in 1932, but they were not willing to
accept him once he was there.
Cadets who violate the honor code at West Point are treated to
something they call silencing, where no one will speak to you except on an
official as-needed basis. No one would speak to him. No one would allow
them to sit with him to eat. No one would be his friend. No would room
with him. He roomed alone.
And all of that went on for the whole four years that he was there.
Four years. Try that and see how you would do.
Before Benjamin O. Davis got there in 1932, West Point had not
graduated a single African-American cadet in the whole 20th century.
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. for those four years he was frozen out, tormented for
the whole time he was there, but he persevered, he graduated in the top 15
percent of his class, this is class that hated him for being black.
And he went on to a very distinguished military career. He was an
original Tuskegee Airmen. He commanded the Red Tails. He was one of the
Army pioneers who helped create the United States Air Force. He became the
first-ever African-American Air Force general.
And now, West Point will house 650 cadets in a six-story building they
are naming for him on campus. The head of West Point`s history department
saying today Benjamin O. Davis` career, quote, “was not West Point at its
finest hour, but this is a chance for West Point to recognize one of its
First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement speech at Tuskegee
University in Alabama this weekend. At that speech, she talked about what
it meant for Tuskegee to be the site of the airfield and flight school for
America`s pioneering pilots the Tuskegee Airmen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Instead of being defined by the
discrimination and the doubts of those around them, they became one of the
most successful pursuit squadrons in our military.
They went onto show the world that if black folks and white folks
could fight together and fly together, then surely, surely, they could eat
at a lunch counter together. Surely, their kids could go to school
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at Tuskegee University
this weekend, talking about the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
She also went onto talk in personal terms about something I`m not sure
she has talked about in public before. And I sort of hate this term but if
you have heard that the speech from the first lady has gone viral in the
couple days since she gave that speech, this is why. This is a side of the
first lady we do not often see. This is something she does not often talk
about in public.
But watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Back when my husband first started campaigning for president,
folks had all sorts of questions of me. What kind of first lady would I
be? What kinds of issues would I take on? Would I be more like Laura Bush
or Hillary Clinton or Nancy Reagan?
And the truth is, those same questions would have been posed to any
candidate`s spouse. That`s just the way the process works.
But as potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also
the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations
sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud
or too angry or too emasculating?
Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a
cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. Now, yes, it was
satire. But if I`m really being honest, that knocked me back a bit. It
made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
Or you might remember the on stage celebratory fist bump between me
and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a terrorist fist
And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to
describe me. One said I exhibited a little bit of uppityism. Another
noted I was one of my husband`s cronies of color. Cable news charmingly
referred to me as Obama`s baby mama.
But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not
let others define me, there was only one thing I could do. And that was to
have faith in God`s plan for me.
I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself and the rest
would work itself out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First Lady Michelle Obama speaking to graduating students at
Tuskegee University this weekend in Alabama. Honestly, just a remarkable
speech from her on a subject she can speak to in a way that no one else
We have posted a link to the whole thing, at MaddowBlog.com tonight.
I highly recommend that you check it out.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Russia is a gas station masquerading
as a country. Its kleptocracy, its corruption, it`s a nation that is
really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A gas station masquerading as a country – one of John
McCain`s best lines.
And like most really good lines, it wasn`t all that true. I mean,
yes, oil and gas for Russia, absolutely. But Russia is also one of the
world`s greatest suppliers of military hardware, weapons. And their crown
jewel right now, their international claim to fame right now is this shiny
new tank, the T-14 Armada.
The base model weighs 48 tons. It`s able to reach speeds of more than
50 miles an hour which is a lot when you`re a tank. Apparently, its main
gun can fire multiple types of different ammunition including guided
missiles with a range of nearly five miles.
It has an automatic defense system. It has an unmanned turret that
uses radar to detect incoming threats and shoot them out of the sky.
Russian news outlets have even reported that that tank could at some point
be fully remote controlled. It could be a drone tank.
American outlets have been pretty impressed by the new Russian tank`s
specs. Needless to say, Russia is very excited about this new piece of
weaponry and the international props they`re getting for it.
This past weekend, the new tank was finally unveiled to the Russian
public at Russia`s giant victory day parade commemorating the 70th
anniversary of the Nazi surrender at the end of World War II. Triumph!
But then a bad thing happened for the brand new tank. It broke down.
It broke down at the dress rehearsal. It just stalled out. Russia rolled
out its newest tank. In the middle of them rolling it out, it just stopped
rolling. They tried to tow it away, but they couldn`t because after all,
it does weigh 48 tons. Eventually they did get it moving again.
It was embarrassing, right? They`re basking in the international
reception. This is embarrassing letdown, so much so that initially they
tried to pretend that it had stopped awkwardly on purpose. No, I swear we
But that was at least just during the dress rehearsal. That was just
during practice, right? The good news is during the actual VE Day parade,
the new tank drove like a dream. No more stalls, no problems. And,
frankly, almost every piece of Russian weaponry in the giant VE Day parade
was impressive and imposing as I`m sure they were supposed to be. Almost
every piece performed flawlessly. Those darn tanks!
It was a different model this time and a different problem, but this
time this other tank – the problem was it caught on fire, which wouldn`t -
- you know, it`s never good. It would be bad enough if this tank that
caught on fire wasn`t also a tank carrying missiles while it was on fire.
Likely, the flames are quickly extinguished. The tank was
successfully towed away. So the parade could continue. The missile didn`t
So, a couple of rough moments for one of the world`s biggest weaponry
suppliers, all was not lost though. One military exercise did go off
without a hitch this weekend. Russia`s seal team performed flawlessly.
Did it all while keeping their little seal hats on. I salute you Russian
seals, long may you wave.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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