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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/26/11

Guests: Cory Mason, Frank Rich

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks, Ed. Thanks, man. Great to see you. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. This show has been on the air for about three years now. And in that time, our staff has developed some weird skills. Skills like spotting fake crowds and models employed for political purposes. So like the Newt Gingrich campaign Web site showing this group of fresh faced Americans all looking excitedly toward Newt Gingrich for the answers. But the other things that we found them doing were things like talking on their cell phones all at once and engaging in various patriotic activities all at once, and looking up at the sky for no apparent reason. These are all stock photos of this crowd available for purchase. Also when the Koch brothers wanted to make it look like firefighters were going to one of their rallies for Republicans ahead of the 2010 elections, they purchased this picture of firemen buddies from the Web site There`s a ton of these things. Yesterday, we thought we had found the most unusual one, maybe the best one ever. When a blog called "Good As You" figured out this anti-gay Web site in New Hampshire hadn`t just bought a picture of a fake supposedly anti-gay crowd from a stock photo Web site, they actually stole the crowd from a picture of a Barack Obama campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, in 2008. We thought that was maybe the best innovation in the fake model, fake crowd field ever. But today, we have managed to top that. It is also a Koch brothers ad. It`s an Americans for Prosperity ad in support of Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his union busting bill that brought Wisconsinites into the streets for months this year. The Koch brothers want you to know despite the complaining from those crowds, from those stupid the firefighters and teachers and stuff, they want you to know that really everything is fine in Wisconsin. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: They told us the sky would fall and Wisconsin would end as we know it. But the sky`s still there and Wisconsin is stronger than ever. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, wait. Look at these folks. This is the best thing ever. We`ve done so many of these. This is the best one ever. This is an innovation in this field. I did not know that you could buy stock photos that move. You see the family right here? Watch this. Watch. See? Same family. So is this a real Wisconsin family that`s really excited about how awesome Wisconsin is now that Scott Walker has gotten rid of union rights? Are they super psyched about how the sky hasn`t fallen in Wisconsin? No, what these folks are is family on bridge waves. You can find them at a part of that`s preserved for moving images. It is istockvideo. The best thing is if you let it play all the way through, you can see the actors sort of get bummed out and tired from all the waving. At the end, they sort of drop the girl. OK. All right. Take two. It is amazing to me still that guys as rich as the Koch brothers, the two of them have more money than Warren Buffett. It is amazing to me still that this crusading conservative billionaire activist brothers who have more money than God and yet they don`t spend any of that money, they don`t get off their wallet and hire people to pretend to be Wisconsin families that like Scott Walker. Instead they buy them online cheap. Frankly, it might be nice if they hired real people in Wisconsin to impersonate people who like Scott Walker because since Scott Walker has been governor of Wisconsin, the unemployment rate has gone up from 7.4 percent to 7.9 percent. All the more reason why the Koch brothers have to fund a campaign called "It`s Working" to describe how awesome Scott Walker has been for that state. The real people of Wisconsin were really not happy with Scott Walker and Republicans in that state stripping away their union rights, particularly because Wisconsin is where a lot of America`s union rights were born because people fought for their rights. And then Wisconsin Republicans elected in 2010 got rid of them. People were not happy about that in Wisconsin. And I doubt that anybody in Wisconsin is happy about soaring unemployment rates there under Governor Scott Walker. But now, real people, not the nice family on bridge waving fake people at, but real Wisconsinites are angry enough that they are trying to re-call Governor Scott Walker. Governors in the state kicked off the start of their campaign to try to remove Governor Walker from office. Over the next few weeks, Walker`s opponents will be holding a series of public rallies and meetings across the state all leading up to November 15th. That will be the official start of a 60-day effort to collect more than 540,000 signatures to get Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin recalled. The Wisconsin press is starting to float potential Democratic candidates to run against Mr. Walker should the recall effort be successful. The names include former Democratic Congressman Dave Obey, former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk and Democratic State Senator John Erpenbach who you recognize as a frequent guest on this show. Up against the Koch brother funded, populated by models "It`s Working" campaign, the real Wisconsinites are going to be launching their recall Scott Walker campaign under the banner "it`s not working." The effort against Scott Walker in Wisconsin has an obvious parallel in nearby Ohio where people mad about the union stripping bill there don`t have the power to recall their Republican governor, but they legally have the ability to recall that law and it looks like they might do. The latest polling out of the buckeye state showing Ohioans want to repeal Ohio`s union stripping bill there by a 25-point margin. Anger with the Republican governor who pushed that law through has also dropped his approval rating, dropped John Kasich`s approval rating down to 36 percent. The polling firm conducting that poll noting in their summary, quote, "The good news if there is good news in this survey for Governor Kasich is that he has another three years until he faces re-election." But, again, Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin does not have that three-year luxury. If they succeed in getting Walker on the ballot, dragging that union stripping law behind him, Wisconsinites will have a chance to vote him out of office probably sometime early next year. And so, the Koch brothers have Scott Walker`s back. The Koch brothers will buy as many fake families waving from as many fake bridges as they need to in order to make it look like somebody supports their union- stripping governor. They`ve also got the real Scott Walker out tonight speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in Des Moines, Iowa. The Heritage foundation, of course, is also a Koch brothers-funded enterprise. Scott Walker is trying to burnish his image nationwide and across the state of Wisconsin from his Koch brother billionaire benefactors. But trying to make it look like it`s working, which is the name of their campaign, trying to make it look like it`s working when you have stripped everybody`s rights and everybody`s mad at you and unemployment in your state is going up, trying to make it look like, that doesn`t just mean P.R. It also means trying to look busy in the state capitol. And so, for the second time since he`s been governor, even though he`s not bothering to stay in the state, tonight, for example, Scott Walker has called the Wisconsin legislature back for a special legislative session that is focused on jobs, jobs, jobs. We talked about this last week. They have branded this jobs-centric, jobs-focused, jobs, jobs, jobs, all about jobs, very special legislative jobs session. They have branded it "Back to Work Wisconsin." As we noted last week, one of the things that they are doing in their make it look like you`re working on jobs "Back to Work Wisconsin" special legislative session, one of the things they did was work on getting rid of sex ed -- jobs, jobs, jobs, eliminating all discussion of contraception in Wisconsin public schools. This is apparently the Republicans` job agenda under Scott Walker. And that wasn`t just a one-off thing. Republicans have been doing their regular Republican stuff in this special jobs session and just calling it jobs, because it`s a special jobs session. And so, last night one Democratic legislator had enough and just started live tweeting all of the things Republicans were actually working on that they were calling jobs. At 8:14 p.m. last night, for example, Democratic Representative Cory Mason tweeted, quote, "Debating SJR28, honoring crisis pregnancy centers." Crisis pregnancy centers are those religious antiabortion fake health centers where you think you`re going to go get medical advice but they just lecture you about not having an abortion. That was jobs legislation apparently. Also, "We have passed a resolution in favor of national adoption awareness month, AJR67." There was also, "AB212, which makes it a crime to throw bodily substances at peace officers, debated and passed." A little later, "AB290, on home brewing, being debated." So, you got your sex ed, you got your adoption, you got your antiabortion activism being honored, you got no throwing pee at cops, you got to make your own beer at home. And as of 9:21 p.m. last night, what was going on in the jobs, jobs, jobs legislative session, according to Representative Cory Mason at the time, quote, "No jobs bills but now we are discussing definition of bicycles." Representative Mason then tweeting this link. (MUSIC) MADDOW: Joining us now is the Democratic state representative who had been live tweeting the jobs, jobs, definition of bicycle special session in the great state of Wisconsin, Representative Cory Mason of Racine. Representative Mason, thanks very much for joining us tonight. ST. REP. CORY MASON (D), WISCONSIN: Thanks for having me on, Rachel. MADDOW: There is a brilliant pr effort under way to try to make it look like the issue of jobs is really the first priority of what`s being worked on in your state by your governor and by Republicans in the legislature. From your perspective, what is actually being worked on? COREY: Well, nothing about jobs. I mean, I`m delighted to debate issues about adoption or whether or not you can buy a drink at a county fair or what the definition of a bicycle is, but right now, we have a jobs crisis in Wisconsin and we`re not doing anything in the legislature to address it. MADDOW: The effort to recall the governor in Wisconsin, if it does in fact get under the ballot, probably has some national implications in the sense that both Governor Walker and John Kasich of Ohio have really personified this year`s breed of Republican politician. The union-busting stuff -- big, big, big money support from the billionaire Koch brothers who have been among Governor Walker`s biggest contributors. I mean, obviously what he`s done is not popular in the state, but how do you as a Democrat compete with the amount of money that he can marshal on his side? MASON: Well, the problem that Walker and his agenda has in Wisconsin is it`s really been an attack on the middle class. Starting with the attacks on bargaining rights but then followed by the biggest cuts in public education in the entire country. This week, we`re doing nothing to address jobs and unfortunately killing the wind energy jobs we could bring to this state. And next week, they`ll announce removing 53,000 people from Badger Care, our Medicaid program for the working poor in the state. So, you can`t be that much against so many people in Wisconsin and hope to get away with it. I think that`s what this recall is going to be about. MADDOW: What`s the expectation for the 53,000 people who are going to lose their health insurance? Is there any provision being made to make sure they can still get care? MASON: Well, the Republicans passed in their state budget a waiver that hay want to get from the federal government to instead of, you know, doing something about tax fairness and, you know, doing something about the billion dollars worth of tax breaks they give to large corporations, they instead want to take 53,000 people off of health care. And so, that`s going to leave a lot of working families really desperate to figure out what to do next. MADDOW: One of the things that I was struck by in watching your live tweets from the supposed jobs session last night, also what we covered last week about what they`ve been working on in this jobs session, is that there`s sort of a theme. I mean, antiabortion groups being honored, sex ed being rolled back -- issues like that that not only aren`t about jobs but are about a real specific social conservative agenda. And Republicans have not been talking to general audiences very much about social conservatism. But from your perspective as a state legislator, is that still very much what they`re pushing when it comes time to actually introduce bills? MASON: Yes. I mean, we`re either doing nonsense things like redefining bicycles or it`s the pregnancy crisis center stuff that they`re honoring. But the more important issues they`re not addressing, the number one issues that people care about, which are getting people back to work. I mean, Rachel, I had a town hall meeting in my district just Monday night where over 100 people showed up who are out of work, looking for work, looking to me and other elected officials and asking us, what are you going to do about this? What are you going to do to retrain people who have been displaced by the economy, to give us a fair wage so we can feed our families, so we can access health care that`s affordable? And then to show up the next day at work or debate bicycles or drinking at county fairs or home brewing, all of which -- none of which are bad issues in and of themselves, but they do nothing about the jobs crisis in Wisconsin. MADDOW: State Representative Cory Mason, Democrat of Racine, Wisconsin -- thanks very much for your time tonight and for your very informative and entertaining Twitter feed. MASON: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: While we all wait for the conservative promised magic of the free market to give us a reprieve from our chronic national economic bummer, tonight`s guest on the interview has his own ideas on the subject and on the "Occupy Wall Street" protests. He`s "New York" magazine writer at large, Frank Rich, and he`s "The Interview," just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This was the burst of joy in the wee predawn hours of the morning at "Occupy Wall Street" a couple of weeks ago in Lower Manhattan when news hit that protesters there would not be removed from Zuccotti Park that morning. The confrontation with police had been anticipated that day but thankfully never materialized. I was there at that moment, at "Occupy Wall Street" -- along with one of our show`s producers, Janelle Smith (ph). But despite that one reprieve that one morning, occupy protests in New York and around the country have been marked by some violent confrontations with police. In Oakland, California, police cleared out protesters from their downtown encampment early Tuesday morning. Later in the day when protesters returned to reclaim their space, the police response in Oakland was fast moving, loud and ultimately violent. It involved tear gas and shooting at the protesters with nonlethal projectiles. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Oakland police say they only responded with this volume of tear gas because they were hit by protesters with rocks and paint and other objects. Police deny charges that they used rubber bullets and flash grenades in return. But one of the people hit with a police projectile of some kind, it is not clear what, was this man, a 24-year-old Marine, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen. This is Mr. Olsen being carried out of the cloud of tear gas, clearly dazed and bleeding from the head. A group called Veterans for Peace, which Mr. Olsen belongs, told our show today that he has a fractured skull. The hospital he is at in California tells us that Scott Olsen is in critical but stable condition. He reportedly served two tours of duty in Iraq in 2006 and in 2007. We`ll have more ahead including Frank Rich on the way the protests are policed directly affecting their political impact. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The 20 percent of Americans who make the least money in the country have not had a great 30 years. Since the late 1970s, the poorest Americans have seen their overall income go up just this much, which is not much progress in the richest country on earth. And that`s sort of the big picture here. Look, over the last 30 years, the more you need your income to rise, the less it rises, right? So, that`s the bottom 20 percent, the second 20 percent, the middle 20 percent. Right? The smallest gains in income over the last three decades have been among those who most need a gain in income. The people who least need it are getting the biggest boost, year after year. This is new out today from the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, on what American money has been like in the last few decades. And this is a problem. I mean, the people who nobody needs to worry about, because they are doing better than anybody else in the country, they are the ones who have seen their income rise the most. They are the ones who`ve been helped the most. Wait, hold on. What`s that? I`m being told this is not the whole graph. This isn`t the whole graph. So, that`s -- we got the bottom 20 percent, the next 20 percent, the middle 20 percent, the next 20 percent. So, this part here that shows the richest people in the country, that`s not the whole top 20 percent? That`s not the whole thing? OK. This part here that shows how much better off rich people are, how much better off rich people are doing in terms of their income, that apparently only goes up to the 99 percent. We are missing the top percent. The graph is not complete. So, if you want to know how the richest 1 percent of the country, the people who least need a pay raise in the country, how they`ve done over the last 30 years? We actually have to break that out separately because it distorts all these other numbers. Can we do that? Can we do that? Oh, yes. OK, whoa. That`s just the top 1 percent. Income going like this in general, that is already a problem because that means that poor people are doing worse over time compared to richer people. And that`s already a problem. That`s already backwards. But this -- this isn`t just a problem. This is actually a whole new idea. OK. Graph time. It`s actually -- get up and run to the big graph time. May I stand here? OK. Ezra Klein made this. And this explains the whole big new idea in America. This is actually a map of the hole in the American Dream. This is actually a map of the hole the American Dream fell down, never to be heard from again. So this section here, OK, this section here, the late 1940s around the end of World War II, OK, to the mid 1980s, to Ronald Reagan time. We got a lot of new economic policies starting Ronald Reagan time. That time, from about the end of World War II, through to Ronald Reagan time, that is the American Dream. This distance here, this is the American Dream, because this blue line is median income in America, and, yes, it wobbles a little bit, but it`s basically going up. It is in a fairly, fairly steady climb. And this other line, this one, this line is the income growth of the top 1 percent, the richest people in the country. Now, their income from the end of World War II, up until Reagan time, is growing, but it is not growing as fast as the income of the rest of the country. And that`s good, right? They`re already doing great. They are the top 1 percent. They are already the richest people in the country. During the people that we can call -- during the period that we can call the American Dream, the richest 1 percent of the country is still rich. And, in fact, is getting richer over time. But they are not pulling away from the rest of the country. In fact, everybody is moving on up together. Yay for rich people, and yay for everybody else, too. But then starting here, starting in the mid 1980s, starting in Reagan time, it flips around. And the people who are already the richest 1 percent of the country, they cross over and they take off running -- getting richer way, way, way faster than everybody else, leaving everybody else behind. This is new. The red line being on top of the blue line, this is new. This is a new thing in America. The American Dream was anybody can make it. That is no longer the dream. If you already have made it, sure, you can make it to the stratosphere. But if you are not already up in that top 1 percent, you are not going anywhere. That is new. That`s not the way America used to be. And you know why that is? You know what that is? That`s policy. Policy matters. The CBO in mapping this change over the last 30 years, with the top 1 percent richest people in the country have doubled their share of our national income explained today that what has done this is policy. What happened to the American Dream? Well, over these past 30 years, quote, "The equalizing effect of federal taxes was smaller." Taxes stopped equalizing the benefits of living in our American economy and instead just started shoveling all the benefits up to the people who already have the most money. And the private sector followed suit, frankly. Executive pay went through the roof. Workers pay not so much. And again, this is not something that has been happening gradually over the life span of America as a country. This is something that`s been happening gradually over the life span of me. This is something that has just happened in the last generation. This is a new thing in America. And if you ask Americans, Americans do not like it. The new "New York Times"/CBS poll says two-thirds of Americans want wealth -- wealth and income -- to be distributing more evenly in our country. Sixty-six percent say they want that. Incidentally, there`s also some really, really partisan news in that poll as well. When you ask Americans about whose interests the Obama administration is acting in, it`s pretty evenly divided among people who think he`s favoring the rich, favoring the poor, favoring the poor, or treating everybody equally. But if you ask the same question about Republicans in Congress, you get a very, very strikingly partisan answer. Only 9 percent of people think that Republican policies help the middle class. Sixty-nine percent of people say Republican policies, the policies of Republicans in Congress, help the rich. And, again, the rich are doing great -- really great. The rich are doing greater than great -- greater than they`ve ever done ever. So, today, waking up to this new data in the newspaper, the Republican Party put out its congressional budget guy, Congressman Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan famous for his kill Medicare budget, right? Which a huge majority of Republicans voted for in Congress. To say -- they put Paul Ryan out today on the day this news breaks, to say that Democrats pushing more populist economic policies, Democrats wanting to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the richest people, Democrats including President Obama criticizing Republican policies for just helping the rich -- Paul Ryan out today saying with that kind of rhetoric, Democrats are dividing the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Sowing social unrest and class resentment makes America weaker. The president is barn storming weak states, pushing a divisive message that pits one group of Americans against another on a basis of class. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It is true Americans are divided on the basis of class. The class division is between the top 1 percent and everybody else. But saying that, describing that, naming that truth, making a picture of it, saying maybe we should try to fix that, that is not what has created the division. This division is real. It`s new. It is a shocking, shocking affront to the American Dream. You know, a Goldman Sachs guy got arrested today, a guy who used to be a Goldman Sachs board member surrendered to the FBI today. He`s connected to the guy from that billionaire hedge fund who got sentenced to 11 years in prison this month. There is a crackdown on illegal activity on Wall Street right now. But it`s not a crackdown on the Wall Street activity you`re thinking of. This guy who turned himself in today, he says he`s not guilty. The Galleon billionaire hedge fund guy, the guy who just got sentenced, they got in trouble or alleged trouble as the case may be for the guy who turned himself in today. But they got in trouble for an insider trading scheme. The same thing essentially that sent like Martha Stewart to prison. But the overall accountability issue of not just Wall Street crimes like we have always known but the overall accountability issue of what Wall Street did when they blew up the entire economy, when they caused the manmade recession we are in which came from nowhere but Wall Street and the banks, that nobody has gotten in trouble for. That has always been negotiations and settlements and bailouts and back to bonuses. The only investigation into whether or not the biblical levels of irresponsibility on Wall Street might also have been criminal, the only investigation of that is being done by the states -- by these crusading liberal attorneys general, like Eric Schneiderman of New York, who we had on the show last night, and also Beau Biden, the attorney general in Delaware, who we hope to have on the show tomorrow. These are the guys who are trying to figure out if anybody else should be dragged off of Wall Street in handcuffs for what they did to this country. Not for some typical Wall Street insider trading white collar crime but for what happened at the end of the Bush presidency that blew up this economy for which we still have not recovered. So far that hasn`t happened. And so, you got these two huge things in American politics, these two basic truths. We`re grinding through the worst thing we`ve been through since the Great Depression and it was manmade. It was manmade. It was a catastrophe caused by certain people screwing it up, knowingly, recklessly in a way that did not hurt them at all but really hurt us as a country. We got that. And at the same time, the mega class those guys are from, they really did shrink the American Dream down to the size they could drown it in a bathtub and then they drowned it. Economic policies that benefit the very, very, very richest people in this country allowed the very, very richest people in this country to run off with all of the spoils in this entire past generation, leaving everybody else behind. Republicans who still support those policies for the very, very richest people, they say now that two-thirds of Americans say something is wrong here? Republicans are now saying that if you think something`s wrong here, you ought to shut up and stop being so divisive, be happy with what you`ve got. We need to keep helping rich people, maybe help them some more. Democrats, of course, are left trying to figure out how to politically capitalize on this, how to take the side of the 99 percent since Republicans are taking the side of the 1 percent. But, frankly, the biggest issue facing our country is not the politics of this. The biggest issue facing our country is whether this can be fixed, materially. Frank Rich joins us next for "The Interview." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A few years after the end of World War I, congress passed a law saying that veterans of that war were entitled to a bonus for their service. In 1924, Congress said American veterans of the First World War had earned a bonus of $1,000. But here`s the catch: it could not be paid for about 20 more years. They couldn`t collect it until 1945 or their families could collect it upon their death if that came before 1945. Well, along the way, the country felt into the Great Depression. Americans were starving to death. They were on bread lines. And the veterans who knew that thousand dollars was owed to them by the government decided they would much rather collect that now, please. That money was owed to them. They had earned it and needed it to feed their families now. So, in the spring of 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, the veterans marched in to Washington because they wanted payment of that bonus they had earned in World War I. They were called the Bonus Army. The Bonus Army set up as an encampment in Washington, D.C., tens of thousands of people in a living political protest. History tells us they kept their instant city clean. They integrated their camp racially which was really quite radical at the time. We know they grew gardens for food. They settled in for as long as it might take to make their point to Congress and then President Herbert Hoover. At least that`s what the Bonus Army hoped. The head of the U.S. Army, General Douglas McArthur, looked out at the peaceful protests of the veterans camping out and saw an embarrassment for his commander in chief. McArthur mustered troops on horseback against the veterans` camp and followed those horses with tanks. The destruction began. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: Then troops began to set fire to their wooden shacks. One reporter wrote, "The blaze was so big it lit the whole sky. A nightmare come to life." The president looked out a window of the White House in the direction of the fire then retired for the night. And the roaring flames, the fantastic Bonus Army that in so disastrously in the shadow of the capitol of the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Two U.S. veterans were killed that day, but the movement grew. What does not kill you makes you stronger, they say. News of the raid, the first footage of what had happened reached Americans in movie houses, in newsreels that they used to show in theaters before the main feature. As frank rich describes in "New York" magazine this week, when Americans saw the newsreels of McArthur`s army destroying the protest camp, Americans applauded the Bonus Army, they cheered for the Bonus Army, they booed General McArthur. Yesterday, these images began to reach Americans. As the police in Oakland, California, breaking up the occupy protests there, "Occupy Oakland." Part of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is for economic justice. This one in California, the police moved in with batons swinging, they tore down tents and smashed signs. They sent tear gas grenades into the crowd. The cops are also alleged to have fired rubber bullets, something they are denying, despite injuries to protesters that look like they were caused by rubber bullets. And police admits to firing bean bag rounds, though. Frankly, when you look at the footage of this, it rather looked and sounded like a small war. Washington, D.C., 1932, the raid on the Bonus Army. Oakland, California, 2011, the raid on "Occupy Oakland, "Occupy Wall Street" -- two American scenes separated by almost a century. Put the old one in color, throw on some plaid shirts and you almost could not tell them apart. In his story this week in "New York" magazine, Frank Rich tells the story of the Bonus Army and of "Occupy Wall Street." He titles it, quote, "The Class War Has Begun." Joining us now for "The Interview" is Frank Rich. Frank, I`m so glad you could be here. Thanks for being here. FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I`m delighted to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: The scenes in Oakland this week were dramatic and upsetting, as we showed earlier tonight, one protester, a young Iraq veteran was seriously wounded in Oakland last night and was hospitalized. Does the use of force against these protests change their political impact? RICH: It seems to. For instance, in New York, when this began, Bloomberg started out, there were some police actions as we all know, that I think enflamed public opinion, again, sort of as in 1932, in favor of the occupy Wall Street demonstrators. What happened in Oakland is horrifying and I think will backfire -- it`s certainly not going to put out this movement which just seems to be spreading and whose core issues are gaining in popularity as the polls you`ve cited tonight show by the minute. MADDOW: The right has been trying -- elected Republicans, but really even more so from the conservative media, has been trying to demonize the protesters. Today, started to say they were all ACORN. It`s nice they brought ACORN back. (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: People like the former FOX News host now who`s just on the Internet, I guess, Glenn Beck, was saying these are -- this is a radical movement designed to destroy the American way of life, describing, you know, socialists and Islamists and all these other people. They`re being derided as anti-American radicals. Is that what we should expect or is that something potentially damaging? RICH: I don`t think it is potentially damaging. But interestingly, it`s, again, what happened with the Bonus Army during the depression. There was a lot of theories, they were communists. In fact, someone had the theory they were controlled by Jewish movie producers at MGM. I love that idea. And Secret Service was sent in to infiltrate the Bonus Army, but they couldn`t find communists, or they found a few but they mainly found were patriotic veterans out of work and desperate at a time, by the way, when, again, there was the highest income inequality until now. That was the biggest period -- 1928 was the last peak of it. And at a time when Congress had bailed out banks and railroads, set up a new agency under Hoover and then adjourned for the summer leaving the Bonus Army to be, you know, routed. So I think it`s going to backfire. I think also that sort of FOX News, Glenn Beck, they`re speaking to people who are going to feel this regardless. I think it`s an echo chamber. The polls have been remarkable on this, because they keep going up. You know, Obama stayed away from this. Eric Cantor on the other side called them mobs when "Occupy Wall Street" started. Bloomberg was very critical. Then suddenly there was a "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll showing 37 percent approved. Every poll since has gone up. "Time" had a poll, 54 percent of Americans approved the principles the protesters are rallying behind. "National Journal," higher, the "Times" higher, the "Times"/CBS poll. So, it keeps building. MADDOW: There is -- there are two things at work. There is the idea of what they stand for, which is anger at the sort of income inequality we were talking about and the sense of unfairness, about who has gotten ahead and who`s sort of getting away with it. And there`s also the physical reality of the protest. I wonder how important -- how important you see it is that this is a physical presence, that this is direct action, that this is not just an idea or a movement in concept but a physical manifestation of this discontent. RICH: You know, interestingly, I feel it`s not always that important. They lit a fire. We live in a world unlike that of 1932 where we have a virtual reality in the form of social networking, different media. We have -- things can move beyond the concrete corporal reality. So I feel in a sense, you know, if you go down to Zuccotti Park, it`s very small. It`s much smaller than the encampment of the Bonus Army, for instance. But it`s lit a fire and now it seems that it`s sort of taking off on its own. I`ve been in Baltimore and Washington the past 24 hours. They both had encampments. Obviously, this is going on all over the place. Oakland is another example. There are many, even in Europe. But in the end, when you look at the polls and see the anger that`s out there from people who are not demonstrating at all, this is something that`s building beyond the physical presence of people in tents, protesting. MADDOW: In seeing the police confrontation, some of these confrontations are terrifying, and certainly the police say they`re being provoked in many cases, denying use of force. That`s obvious in some, like in Oakland. A lot are very problematic and very hard to watch. They`re upsetting. People are afraid. That said, I know from early in the protest, I heard this from being there early in the protest, going down to watch. People saying things like, police are part of the 99 percent, too. I heard people chanting, police need a raise, police need a raise. RICH: Absolutely. Look, there will always be crazy peek and always be provocateurs in any situation in the United States, no matter who it involves, regardless of politics. But I was last at Zuccotti Park on Sunday night and it was exactly that. And the interchange between the police and the protesters there was completely polite, even when there were disagreements about whether they should clear a certain passageway. A lot of it was just people talking -- almost like a teach-in in the `60s. Some people were describing their ideas. Some more sophisticated than the others. MADDOW: That`s talking. The fact that the conversation has changed to be about discontent, about this anger, about the sense of unfairness, that change of the discussion I think is the biggest impact that we have -- that we could hope for and it`s already happened. RICH: It`s remarkable to what extent it has. MADDOW: Frank Rich, "New York" magazine -- your new piece on this is great. Thanks for reminding us of the story of the Bonus Army and connecting those dots. It`s great to have you mere. RICH: Thanks for having me. Wonderful. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Tonight on "THE LAST WOR," Lawrence interviews Walter Isaacson, who is author of the blockbuster new biography of Apple`s Steve Jobs. That`s next. And on this show, we have a high-tech moment of geek involving the awesome, high-tech legacy of Steve Jobs and "Occupy Wall Street." It`s sort of one of those days, holistic. It is a smart phone world Mitt Romney and that cuts both ways. I will explain. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you contradict it more, we will be less likely to vote. REPORTER: Jill Cicciarelli appeared proud as some of her civic students shared their complaints with Senator Bill Nelson. They are angry she could face fines for violating Florida`s election laws. In brief, the new law requires that people collecting and submitting voter registration forms as the teacher does each year for her student first register with the state and turn in those completed forms within 48 hours of collecting them. Nelson, who believes Republican lawmakers enacted the changes to reduce Democratic participation in election, is writing and calling Rick Scott to urge him to try and revamp or repeal the laws in the spring. SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: This to me is a direct assault on democracy. And it`s exactly the opposite of making it easier to vote and easier to register to vote. It makes it harder. REPORTER: Cicciarelli says she is frustrated because she thinks the process penalizes people who are trying to encourage young people to vote. JILL CICCIARELLI, FLORIDA TEACHER: I want every person to have a chance to vote. We`re fighting in wars so people can have democracy and so when we don`t recognize that, that upsets me. REPORTER: Her students are just as frustrated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s really going to hurt our politics and the youth involved, and for the future of our country I think it`s really going to hurt us in the long run. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Reporting from the NBC affiliate in Orlando, Florida, on how the new voting rules enacted by Florida Republicans and Republican Governor Rick Scott are shaping up in the Sunshine State. The Office of Governor Scott reportedly declined to the comment for the station story. The first scalp of those new rules is the civics teacher who had the temerity to offer her high school seniors voter registration forms like she does every year. Only this year, she`s not allowed to. The county election supervisor says when she realized that she would have to turn in that civics teacher to the state for violating Rick Scott`s new voting rules, the country supervisor says she felt sick to her stomach, telling the local paper, quote, "This wasn`t someone who was going to commit voter fraud. She was doing a good thing. New Smyrna Beach High School was doing a good thing." The country supervisor of elections was so revolted by the new restrictions on voting that she wrote her own op-ed in the "Daytona Beach Journal." She started, "Traditionally, as supervisor of elections, I go out of my way to avoid controversy and conflict. But legislation passed in the 2011 session was in my humble opinion so egregious that I felt I had to bring it to the attention of all interested citizens." But, you know, it`s not just that election county supervisor in Florida and it`s not just Senator Bill Nelson who you saw outraged in the news clip and frankly not just Florida in that changed its rules radically in the last year to make it a lot harder to register to vote and a lot harder to vote. The Congressional Black Caucus met today with Attorney Eric Holder to plead the case for the Justice Department to get involved this year, after the Brennan Center estimated that new Republican-passed laws in more than a dozen states this year will restrict access to voting for 5 million Americans -- 5 million Americans disproportionately young people, elderly people, the poor and minority voters. So, disproportionately Democratic- leaning voters. The NAACP says their estimate is that 25 percent of all African- Americans who have been eligible to vote. One in four African-Americans may not be able to the vote under the new restrictive voting laws passed across this country. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the fascinating aspects of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement is the spirit of technical innovation rising out of the Zuccotti Park and all of the places where there are occupy something protests going on. We have talked before about the people`s microphone, a brilliant, subversive solution. The problem with communicating with hundreds of people or even thousands of people when you are not allowed to use electronically amplified sound. Listen. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: In the same vein, protesters have come up with a set of hand signals to solve the problem of ascertaining consensus. A basic requirement when your movement is both large and leaderless. So they do hand signal things that allow them to communicate with each other. They have come up with practical solutions of the basic problems of living out in the open far from where you keep your stuff, like for example, a centralized charging station where protesters can power up their mobile phones like this one, or the people`s library staffed by volunteer librarians and even has a reference section. And there are digital innovations, though, developed by those for whom the Venn diagram of protester and programmer overlap. A lot of this take the form of smartphone apps and Web sites like the "Occupy Together" page on that helps to put together car pools to occupy Wall Street inspired events. But perhaps the most genius and yes, geeky app of this season of protest is a new one meant to be used if you should get arrested. The app lets you broadcast your situation quickly to people you have decided need to know about it, like your family or your lawyer or your dog walker, right? The app is called "I`m Getting Arrested." It`s pretty simple. Long before you get arrested, you type in the numbers of people you want to be alerted in the event you are taken in. Then should the cops move in with zip ties in hand, all you have to do is hit one big, can I show it there, one big hard to miss red an white button and everybody on your list get a text that you have been arrested. Can I show how it works? You do that. Click on the button. Hold it down and the nice thing it gives you the message, be polite -- which is a handy reminder if you are in fact getting dragged to the pokey. Nearly 10,000 people have downloaded the "I`m Getting Arrested" app so far. It is available thus far in seven languages with more to come, I`m sure. That does it for us tonight. Thank you for joining us. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a good one. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END