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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/23/13

Guests: Toni Pippins-Poole, Theda Skocpol

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening, Chris, thank you. And thanks to you at home from joining us this hour. Let`s say I married John Boehner. Right now my ID says my full name, Rachel Ann Maddow. The picture looks nothing like that. Thanks, you guys, for dressing it up. But if I was going to become not Rachel Ann Maddow, but rather Rachel Ann Boehner, it`s pronounced Boehner, the state of Texas for a long time, if I lived in Texas and that`s where I was marrying my John, the state of Texas would have required me to change the name on my ID to effectively declare Maddow to be my new middle name instead of Ann. These days, in most places, you have a choice as to whether or not you want to do that, but in Texas by law, well into the 20th century, well into the time a lot of our moms were getting married, the law required me on my official Texas state ID to be Rachel Maddow Boehner. That was just the way you had to do it. And under Texas law as of this week, that would mean that I would not be allowed to vote there. If I`m registered under the name Rachel Ann Maddow or Rachel Maddow or juts Rachel Boehner; that would not exactly match what was on my I.D. because my I.D. by law had to say Rachel Maddow Boehner. And therefore under the brand new Texas voter I.D. law that has just gone into effect for the first time this week, as early voting starts for the November elections this year in Texas, women in Texas who have never done anything weirder under Texas state law than get married and get the married lady I.D. that Texas required them to get, women who have done nothing weirder than that in their lives are finding that, for the first time in their lives, they are being blocked from voting because of this new Texas voting. Texas` new voting law makes you show documentation in order to vote that you never had to show before. And it`s such a strict law that before it went into effect this week there was worries that this married woman maiden name issue was going to block women from being able to vote or force them onto ballots all across the state. Just yesterday, the "Texas Tribune" posted a survey piece on people worrying about this issue and ultimately concluded, don`t worry. They quoted a spokesperson from a Texas secretary of state office reassuring people that there`s really nothing to worry about. So, you see the headline there, could name change spur voter I.D. issue? Officials say no. That came out yesterday in Texas. By last night, this was the local news in corpus Christi. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Good evening, everyone. I`m (INAUDIBLE). Katia is off this evening. At the top, the state`s new voter I.D. law. It is meant to prevent voter fraud but it may be causing some delays at your neighborhood polling place. Especially if the name on your driver`s license differs from the name on your voter registration card, even a little bit. The county election officials say it`s often a problem for women who use maiden names or hyphenated names. Our (INAUDIBLE) tells us the problem came to light yesterday when a local district judge had trouble casting a ballot. The story is first at 6:00. SANDRA WATTS, JUDGE: What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: 117th district court judge Sandra Watts has voted in every election for the last 49 years. The name on her driver`s license has remained the same for 52 years. And the address on her voter registration card or driver`s license hasn`t changed in more than two decades. So, imagine to her surprise when she told by voting officials that she had to sign a voter affidavit, affirming that she was who she said she was. WATTS: Someone looked at that and said well, they`re not the same. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The difference, on the driver`s license Judge Watts` maiden name is her middle name. On the voter registration it`s her actual middle name. That was enough under the new stricter voter fraud law to send up a red flag. WATTS: This is the first time I`ve ever had a problem voting. I don`t think most women know that this is going to create a problem. That their maiden name is on their driver`s license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I`ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years? UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: While on the issue of voter fraud, we spoke with a district attorney about the prevalence of this crime in the county. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen an issue of that in Oasis County in all the years I`ve been here. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: In the Oasis county Texas, I have never seen an issue of voter fraud in Oasis County in all the years I have been in here, says the local DA. The voter fraud not really a problem in that county where that happening anyway. Also in Texas broadly voter fraud is not really a problem. In Texas over the last 13 years tens of millions of votes have been cast in that state. Tens of millions. And the grand total of documented instances of showing up at the polls and pretending to be somebody else in Texas is one. Literally, one, not one percent, one guy. One guy for the whole state over 13 years. But that one guy is apparently justification enough to change state law in Texas to make it so people like this lifelong Texan, this judge who has been voting in the state for 49 years now has a huge hassle trying to vote in the state if she`s allowed to vote at all. There are an estimated 1.4 million voters in Texas who are eligible voters, who do not have the kind of documentation you`re now required to show in order to cast a vote in that state. And that doesn`t even count the people who do supposedly have the right documentation. They do have the right kind of I.D. like that judge, but the I.D. doesn`t match in exactly the way it has to match now for you to be allowed to vote anymore. And this is all coming into focus in Texas this week because early voting has just started in the Texas November elections. I have to say, there are precisely zero high stakes big publicity super motivating statewide issues on the ballot in the election in Texas this year. This is a sleepy election. It is a whole bunch of constitutional amendments about things like the number of days that aircraft parts are exempt from addvalerum (ph) taxes. Something about reverse mortgages that I`m sure is very important. Nobody is expecting massive turnout for elections on these issues right now in Texas. And for people to vote on if there`s a hospital board district in Delano County. A few little sprinkling of municipal elections happening in various places around the state. This is going to be a very low turnout election in Texas this year. You can track the voter turnout already and see in some precincts the total number of voters so far is like 13 or 26. So the problems the people are having voting right now under the new strict Texas voter I.D. laws, these problems are quiet little problems happening here and there in a very, very low value in an election. But what is going to happen say next year? What is going to happen in the next big hot Texas election? Like say, the Wendy Davis for governor election or for that matter the next presidential election? Of the at minimum 1.4 million Texas who right now do not have the right kind of I.D. to be allowed to vote anymore even though they could vote in the past. Texas Republicans have said, you know what? Nobody should worry about whether or not the people will be able to cast their ballots because they will make sure, the Republican state controlled state government of Texas will make sure that everybody who is an eligible voter but doesn`t have an I.D. everybody will get one. They started what they described as statewide efforts to get everybody an I.D. starting in June. Since then of the 1.4 million voter who is are eligible to vote but who don`t have an I.D. of the 1.4 million, the number of people who have gotten the I.D. under the new system from the state government so they can vote is 50. That according to state of Texas is the count ads of this evening. We called them and asked, 50 people out of 1.4 million. You want to do the math on what percentage of the problem is solved already? Let me help you out. That means there are two zeros even after the decimal point before you get to start putting together other integer integers. Tenths, hundredths, thousandths of a percent. Why Texas republicans wanted to change the law about voting is anybody`s guess. It seems kind of obvious. But the reason they were able to change the law about voting is because of the United States Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court this summer gutted the voting rights act, Texas was thereby freed of the burden of having to pre-clear changes in Texas election law with the federal justice department to make sure that those changes were not going to have a racially discriminatory effect. Texas Republicans had wanted to pass this voter I.D. law forever, but the justice department wouldn`t clear them to do it because of the racially discriminatory effect. Now that the voting rights act is gutted, though, Texas gets to go ahead with what was too obviously discriminatory for them to get away with in the past, that now, they can get away with. At least for the time being. The justice department is now suing to try to stop them after the fact. Anyway. Even though they couldn`t stop them from putting it into effect in the first place. Meanwhile, the same thing is underway in North Carolina where the gutting of the voting rights act freed Republicans in that state to pursue their own version of not just a voter ID bill but a broad base crackdown on what the advancement project described as basically all the ways that African-Americans in North Carolina have gotten used to voting. In North Carolina, the Republicans there have narrowed the window for early voting. They`re putting new restrictions on voter registration drives. They`re making a much harder for students to vote. They`re ending same day registration during the early voting period. They are making it easier for vigilante poll watchers who want to challenge eligible voters. They are even putting specific new limits on voting on Sundays which nobody has even tried to link to some phantom voter fraud threat. But Sunday do tend to be when black churches like the car pull and the congregations to all go vote. The justice department is also challenging the North Carolina law. They were never able to go ahead with this before the voting rights act got it by the Supreme Court. But once it did, they got ahead. Justice department is challenging an act of fact. And on the same day that judge in Texas was getting turned away from the polls because heaven forbid she once got married, on that same day North Carolina Republicans started to file their legal defense to all the lawsuits that they`re facing challenging their new voter suppression law. And on the same day in North Carolina, as the state Republican party was starting its defense of this law, which is expected to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters in North Carolina, on that same day, the Republican party in North Carolina opened up a new North Carolina office of African-American outreach to try to convince African- Americans in North Carolina that if they do vote, they really ought to be voting for the Republican party. That`s turning out to be a really big if. If you can vote, think about -- the influential Reagan appointed conservative judge Richard Posner who wrote the first federal court ruling OKing stricter voter I.D. laws. He said in an interview recently for the first time that he regrets that opinion. He said he did not realize when he wrote that landmark decision OKing voter I.D. laws that the effect of them could be so racially discriminatory. And that is nice to know at this point. But it`s not judge Posner`s regret that stands as legal and political president. It`s his ruling. Even if he now says that ruling was wrong. The Democratic Party today announced a new national director of voter protection to work on these issues across the country. But in the meantime these issues are happening at the very local level. Texas elections, for example, are under way with these new draconian and in some cases bewildering set of rules. And for now, at least, it`s being left to local officials operating precinct by precinct, town by town, county by county, to try to figure out how to make this new law work and how far they`re going to have to try to stretch the law and try to work around it and work through it to let people who have been voting for years keep voting like they are used to doing. Joining us now is one of those people who in involved in that struggle. Toni Pippins-Poole has been Dallas county election administrator in Dallas County, Texas. Her office has been searching through state record for voters who either do not have I.D. or who may run into problems with the I.D. that they do have. Dallas county decided to try to find the voters ahead of time and help them now so they hopefully will not get blocked at the polls. Ms. Pippins-Poole, Dallas County election administrator, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being with us. TONI PIPPINS-POOLE, ELECTION ADMINISTRATOR, DALLAS COUNTY: Thank you for having me here. MADDOW: So what prompted you in Dallas county to make this decision to try to find out ahead of time which voters might have problems when they get to the polls because of this new law? Why did you decide to take these extra steps? PIPPINS-POOLE: Well, I have been working with the elections for over 25 years. And being in the polls, I`ve seen people come in with the voter registration cards, the certificate that we have for centuries given to voters as their I.D. And I`m seeing some of the voters walk in with just that item because that`s all they`ve had. I`ve seen the voters come in with expired driver`s license, and that was acceptable in the past. So, and we realize there`s going to be some issues. So we wanted to know just what we were facing with. So we wanted to know how many of our voters did not have proper identification on our records. And also those who are looking at those that possibly have given us a driver`s license for their records, but it`s no longer valid for one reason or another. So we want to this make sure that those voters understand what they`re going to faced with and be prepared so that they don`t actually get turned away or have a failure or desire to go into the polling locations because they fear that someone is going to challenge their right to vote. So, we want to make it easier for the voters. So we want them to what they need to face before they go into the polling place. MADDOW: It`s interesting to hear you say that from the perspective of a county official. One of the things that you wonder about in the state in terms of people`s right to vote is whether or not your right to vote, your ability to actually get a ballot and cast your ballot at the polling place on Election Day is affected by where you live. I mean, under the law, everybody should have equal access to the ballot in a statewide election. But it sounds like in Dallas county with the outreach that you`re doing, maybe people are going to have a better shot at actually voting than in some other counties that aren`t being as proactive as you are. Are you getting the sense that this will have some sort of patchwork effect statewide in Texas? PIPPINS-POOLE: Well, hopefully other counties will actually take the same approach to find out their particular voters that may have some issues and try to inform them of what they need to do in order to cast the ballot at those polling locations. And also to be able to change your name so you have kind of a hassle free right to go into the polls without someone really scrutinizing your name by first name, former name, hyphen or even initial or a customary variation. You may have always been called Bill for William or Bob for Robert. So we want people to understand that. And we`ve also looking at an issue that women have had for years. They were able to register by Mrs. John Smith. Now, when you come in and your driver`s license doesn`t have or your I.D. doesn`t have Mrs. John Smith, that`s going to be an issue. And we have decided to identify those and send out notices to them to let them know that that`s going to be problematic at the polls. MADDOW: Wow, it`s going the be problematic if you`re named Mrs. Husband`s name, Mrs. With your maiden name as your middle name. It`s going to be problematic if you have a nickname. It`s problematic if you have a hyphen. It`s going to be problematic if you have any difference between any of the forms of I.D. that are going to be checked here. You have a big job on your hands, ma`am. I appreciate the proactive effort you`re taking with it. I`m sorry you have to go there all of this. Good luck to you. PIPPINS-POOLE: Thank you. MADDOW: Toni Pippins-Poole is the Dallas county elections administrator. It`s great to hear what that is like on the ground. I would say if this was a big deal high turnout election in Texas right now, this is would be the hugest story in the country. It`s because this is a low turnout election and this is sort of the dry run that these freak show stories about how people are being turned away. So far only looks like a local story but boy is this going to be a big deal in the long run. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I went to my staff and I said how come all the people for the jobs are all men? They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well God, can`t we find some women that are also qualified? And so, we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women`s groups and said can you help us find folks and they bought us binders full of women. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE). Flat with three-hole punches. And on Election Day even though he had the binders full of women from the women`s groups, Mitt Romney lost women voters in America by ten points, and he thereby lost the election. And that was actually a vast improvement over the last Republican candidate who lost women voters by not ten points but by 13 points. And that was with a female vice presidential candidate on the ticket this year. Women have just not been psyched about the Republican party, regardless of who exactly they are running for office. The latest PPP polling today in the Virginia governor`s race, for example, this has maybe the biggest gender gap I`ve ever seen in a competitive statewide race. Virginia women prefer the Democratic candidate in Virginia over the Republican candidate by 24-point margin. So the Republican party has a gender problem. We were reminded right after the 2012 elections when House Republican leaders appointed 19 chairs for 19 committees only to discover that they had chosen 19 white guys for those 19 jobs. They scrambled. They found one woman to install as chair of the administrations and rules committee, even though she was not a member of the committee at the time. During that government shutdown, we were reminded again of the same problem when the office of Eric Cantor pounded its chest and sent out this photo showing the Republican party had the negotiators standing by, ready to talk. Turns out it was eight white guys all in white shirts and ties, all ready to speak for the Republican party in all its glorious diversity. Now though, the newspaper "Roll Call" reports that the Republicans are fixing this particular problem. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers says she stood up at a recent meeting of all Republicans in Congress to complain about that photo, to complain about the leadership picking eight demographically identical white guys for the Republicans` negotiating table. She said when she made her complaint she was very happy that John Boehner said he realized what he had done and that he had done wrong. She told "Roll Call" quote "the speaker literally got up and said, you know, Renee, that was a mistake." And it`s now a mistake that he has fixed. A few weeks after the fact Republican leadership in the House have decided that they have found a woman that they are comfortable with. Congresswoman Diane Black of Tennessee. There she is. Apparently, the deal was done last week to add her to the guys. But it`s just now being made public. So now, speaking for the Republican party as Congress goes forward into the budget process and all the rest, they have found a way to add one congresswoman to the rest of the Republican congressmen. Here though is a top tip about the one congresswoman who the Republicans have picked for this high-profile job. Diane Black of Tennessee may be a rare woman among that sea of Republican men, but Diane Black of Tennessee does not want you to call her congresswoman. She wants you to call her congressman. She goes by Congressman Diane Black. This is her official Web site. Congressman Diane Black. It is not a typo. Also at the bottom of the page, contact Congressman Black. On the about me page, Congressman Diane Black brings a unique perspective to her work in Washington. So the Republicans have added a woman to their roster of men negotiating for the party and with the addition of Diane Black, you are free to describe the group now negotiating for the Republican party as a group of congressmen, even though they now include a woman. It`s hard keep track of. We also learned today that Republicans in the House are also working on their own version of health reform now. What are the odds that what they produce will not seem like it came from a group in the House that is 98 percent white and 92 percent male. What are the odds they can stop themselves in their new health reform bill from say cracking down on contraception? What are the odds? Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Do you remember this guy? Not a comic book super hero or just a wrestler who looks good in primary colors, no. Note the placement of the stars amid the blue and red. In guy calls hems the southern avenger. This guy is back, or at least his brand of southern Republican politics is back. Hold on. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a group called the National Federation of Republican Women. It`s a national group headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. They call themselves one of the largest and most influential women`s political organizations in the country. The National Federation of Republican Women, they do have chapters all across the country and every year, they hold a big board of directors meeting that`s kind of their big confab for the year. In 2010, they held their meeting that year in Charleston, South Carolina. The theme they chose for the meeting was a southern experience. And boy did that mean that. They meant a very specific kind of experience, which led to photos like this one and a lot of embarrassment for the group at the time. What`s interesting, though, is that happened in 2010. The guy in this -- what became sort of iconic photograph of the Republican women`s group plantation palooza in South Carolina in 2010, that guy, the white guy in that photo, at the time, he was a Republican state senator in the great state of South Carolina. Did this picture of him, with the black people dressed up as slaves, while he`s in a Confederate uniform, did this hurt him? Did this embarrass him in his political career? To the contrary. He`s no longer a state senator in South Carolina. He`s now a lieutenant governor of the great state of South Carolina. Which I`m sure is great for him. It does kind put a fine point on this question of whether or not being seen as a neo-Confederate, pining for and reenacting and singing the praises of the Confederacy is an embarrassing thing for conservatives, for Republicans, even for elected Republican officials. Around the same time that the National Federation of Republican Women was having their southern experience on the fake plantation in 2010, Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia did seem embarrassed when he as a brand new governor issued a proclamation honoring Confederate history month. Governor McDonnell`s proclamation conveniently did mention the whole issue of slavery. Previous Virginia governors have found a way to note Confederate History Month when it happens, while also acknowledging that, yes, the whole Confederacy did have something to do with slavery. And that`s not the part we`re commemorating. Bob McDonnell just left the slavery part out. After a while, after a national kerfuffle, Bob McDonnell did eventually get embarrassed and he retroactively went back to the statement and added a reference to slavery. It was this past year when Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul held on for a really long time in his own neo Confederacy scandal before he finally got embarrassed enough about it to do something. This is a guy known as the Southern Avenger, a commentator and pundit who would wear a Confederate flag wrestling mask and opine about avenging the South. He wrote about John Wilkes Booth was right. John Wilkes Booth, of course, assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Rand Paul hired this guy as a senior staffer in his Senate office. When everybody started to learn about what this guy used to do before he was working for Rand Paul, Rand Paul initially tried to dismiss the guy`s Confederate leanings as some sort of youthful indiscretions, something that was old news. In fact, less than a year before Rand Paul had hired him, the dude was still writing about how he still supported the idea of the old Confederacy rising up again, Southern secession today. Eventually, Rand Paul did finally get too embarrassed about the whole thing and the staffer had to go, but Rand Paul held on for a long time defending the guy before he had to finally cut him loose. Right now, we are at a moment in Republican politics of deep turmoil. And in one specific part of the Republican Party, the turmoil is not what it is for the rest of the country. In one specific part of the Republican Party, in those quarters, the problem is not that we just had a government shutdown. The problem is that the shutdown ended and we did not hit the debt ceiling. That`s the problem. Their problem is that anybody who voted to end the shutdown and not hit the debt ceiling is obviously a traitor who needs to be run out of the Republican Party. The highest profile incumbent Republican senator to be primaried on those terms from within the Republican Party is Thad Cochran, the conservative Republican senator from Mississippi. When his supposedly Tea Party challenger announced that he would run against Thad Cochran in a primary this week, he said he would run against Thad Cochran because Thad Cochran committed the sin of raising the debt ceiling. When he said he was going to primary him because of that, this new opponent for Thad Cochran was immediately endorsed by the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and a bunch of pro-shutdown groups that have sort of fanning the insurgency inside the Republican politics. Now, we know the guy that they picked and endorsed against sitting Mississippi Republican senator, his challenger spent the summer with these guys. This is a local Mississippi chapter of the Sons of Confederate veterans. They`re a pro-Confederacy group that regularly buys billboards across the state of Mississippi, wishing ha happy birthday to the Confederate heroes like Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the civil war. I call it the civil war. That`s not what they call it. They call it a war of Southern independence. This is a newsletter for the pro- Confederacy group. Here`s another from there. Quote, "Southerners have less reason to be loyal to the collective enterprise of the United States than does any group of citizens. The South was invaded, laid waste and conquered when it tried to uphold the original and correct understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." Correct understanding. Ah. That group hosted Mississippi Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel as a keynote speaker at one of the recent events. You can see his picture right there beside the wanted picture for Abraham Lincoln. Chris McDaniel, the guy who conservatives have rallied behind in his challenge to sitting Republican Senator Thad Cochran. He also appeared at another event held by the same Confederate group this summer. That one featured attendees dressed in Confederate uniforms. The Web site Mother Jones reported on this today and a spokesman for State Senator Chris McDaniel told them, quote, "Senator McDaniel has driven across Mississippi to speak to many groups over the past decade." It is an interesting question whether being associated with the Confederacy, not just with the south, but with Southern white secession is an interesting question as to whether being associated with that hurts individual elected officials. There`s also a broader question of whether we should think of the insurgent movement inside the Republican Party right now as a brand new thing. I mean, Tea Party is a new name that we put on Southern conservatives now. We never used to call the Southern hard line borderline neo Confederate part of the Republican Party that special name until now. But should we think of what`s going on inside the Republican Party as essentially just a continuation of these old neo-Confederate boys who really persisted at some level, on or off the radar for a very long time. Are we just experiencing another upswing in the legitimacy of these groups in Republican politics? Are we having one of those moments where at least for now, Republicans just don`t mind being seen with those guys? They don`t mind being affiliated with them, this close to the mainstream in Republican politics? Is this whole Tea Party thing just a new name for something that`s not really new? Joining us is now is Theda Skocpol. She`s professor of government and sociology at the Harvard University. And she`s co-author of "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism." Prof. Skocpol, thanks very much for being with us. THEDA SKOCPOL, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It`s very nice to be here. MADDOW: Has there always been a neo-secessionist among Tea Party activists or is this a new phenomenon? Should we see these as separate things? SKOCPOL: Well, it`s striking that it`s so visible right now. From the beginning of the Tea Party outburst in 2009 and 2010, there were always ties in the grassroots parts of the Tea Party to various fringe extremist anti-government groups, militias in the West, the John Birch Society in parts of the country, and I`m sure all along there have been ties to various Confederate commemorative groups and groups that talk about secession as a way to express their alienation from the things that the federal government is going under Democrats. MADDOW: How much continuity do you seen between the views and affiliations of people that identify with the Tea Party now and the previous sort of hard line conservative elements of the Republican Party that we didn`t used to think of as a separate and competing force? SKOCPOL: Well, keep in mind that the Tea Party right now is not one thing. It`s got a bottom-up component of grassroots activists and half or more of the voters across the United States who say that they are Republicans. And then, it`s also got a series of top-down groups that have sort of opportunistically jumped on and goaded on and leveraged this grassroots phenomenon. Those are long-standing groups like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, the new Heritage Action operation that former Senator Jim DeMint Leads. And those groups are really about pushing low taxes, removal of regulation, blocking of environmental regulation, privatization of Social Security and Medicare. At the grassroots though, we found in our research and others have too, that the activists and the people who identify with the Tea Party are long time conservative minded people. With deep ties going back to earlier popular movements on the far right. MADDOW: That structural sort of explanation of historical continuity, at least among some of the people who we think of as being part of the new phenomenon, that lends -- that leads me to believe that all of this sort of hyper ventilating and huffing and puffing right now among people in my profession that the Tea Party is done for, that they`ve been discredited. That the shutdown was so bad for them that the mainstream Republicans are going to snuff them out and get rid of them within their own ranks. That seems to be a little bit overstated. It sounds like what you`re saying is we should expect them to be around for a long time. SKOCPOL: Yes. Well, keep in mind that the Tea Party has this combination of top-down and bottom-up forces, pushing on the Republican Party and for that matter taking or much of the Republican Party. It doesn`t depend on general popularity in the country to get its clout, to get its leverage. MADDOW: Right. SKOCPOL: And a lot of media commentators declare it dead again and again when a national poll shows that most Americans are turned off by this style of politics. And indeed, they are. But the question is whether Republican officeholders and candidates are frightened of these people or for that matter are often identified with them or part of them. MADDOW: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University professor of political science -- thank you very much for helping us to understand this. It`s good to have you with us. SKOCPOL: Nice to be here. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Update for you on a story we`ve been covering for a couple of weeks now. On September 19th, the Russian coast guard arrested a bunch of Greenpeace activists at gunpoint and knife point and took the activists and their ship into custody above the Arctic Circle where they were protesting oil drilling by a Russian company. Russia then took the activists to the mainland and charged them all with piracy, which means 15 years prison. The update on the story today is that after a lot of international pressure, Russia has now dropped the piracy charges. Instead they`re charging the Arctic 30 with hooliganism, which sounds like not much, but does still carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Greenpeace responded by saying, "We will contest the trumped up charge of hooliganism as strongly as we contested the piracy allegations. They are both fantasy charges that bear are no regulation on reality. The Arctic 30 protested peacefully against Gazprom`s dangerous oil drilling and should be free. Russian government has shown no compunction about its prickly relation with the West and indeed with the rest of the world. This particularly prickly moment over these activists and their fate is far from over. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This was the headline in "The Boston Globe" the first time that paper covered the Waltham murders. The headline was "Girlfriend screamed: They`re all dead: Waltham killings likely not random." On September 11th, 2011, which was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, three young men were murdered in a Boston suburb of Waltham in a particularly gruesome fashion. On a dead end street these three young guys were found with their throats slit, their bodies in three rooms of one house. According to reports at the time, their bodies were essentially staged meticulously at the crime scene. They were all found facing down with their heads all turned in the same direction all in different rooms but their heads were all facing the same angle as was their bodies and all over their bodies was strewn marijuana. Also found was $5,000 cash left behind, along with the drugs by the killer or killers. Whoever killed these three young men, they were all big strong guys, whoever killed them, left that money and left those drugs. They carefully and weirdly staged the scene and fled. The bodies were discovered the following day when the girlfriend of one of the victims came into the apartment and ran out into the street screaming, "They`re dead, they`re dead, they`re all dead." From the beginning police said publicly this was a drug crime. They said those guys were involved in drugs and that`s why they were killed that night in Waltham. But that crime, that grisly triple murder in 2011 remained unsolved with no reported leads, no evidence suspects, no arrests. It remained that way for almost two years until this year when another young man was killed, this time it was in Orlando, Florida. And this time, he was shot to death, we think by the FBI. After Ibrahim Todashev was killed in the presence of FBI agents and Massachusetts state troopers who were interviewing him in his apartment in Orlando, about whether he was connected to the Boston marathon bombing. After they killed him in his Orlando apartment, anonymous law enforcement officials leaked to the press that before they shot him, Ibrahim Todashev confessed to the horrible and gruesome triple murder in Waltham. Anonymous law enforcement sources said that he confessed that he and the older of the two Boston marathon suspects killed those three young men in Waltham. So, mystery solved? But that was just one leaked piece of information that we learned after Mr. Todashev was shot and killed in Florida. Waltham murder solved. The dead guy/dead guys did that murder. You don`t have to worry about that any more. But everything about the Todashev shooting has been sketchy and self contradictory. Anonymous law enforcement officials first told the press that Ibrahim Todashev was shot because he attacked an FBI agent with a knife while he was confessing to those Waltham murders. Then, the leak changed. So, maybe it wasn`t that he had knife, so much as it was some of the kind of blade. Then within 12 hours of them telling us he either had a knife or some other kind of blade, and that`s why he was shot, then two law enforcement sources recanted, took back what they said about the knife or blade, actually they said they didn`t know what happened at all. The new unanimous law enforcement sources said, actually, Ibrahim Todashev was totally unarmed when he was shot and killed by law enforcement officers. But maybe he overturned a table during his interrogation so maybe that`s why they killed him. Wait, time for a new leak. No, he didn`t overturned a table, he had a pole. No, it`s a broom -- maybe it was a broom stick. That`s his weapon. That`s why he was shot. Because of all this totally contradictory information leaked by law enforcement sources over time and because there`s no official on the record information to clean up any of this anonymous junk, this is how reporters have to hedge when they write about the Todashev case. You get leads like this. Some allege that he wielded a knife, a sword, a blade, or a broom stick. Other says he was unarmed. So, the FBI shoots and kills somebody in his home in the United States. The first we hear of it, the first we hear of this guy at all is anonymous law enforcement sources telling us, yes, we killed this guy but we also solved the Waltham murders. He did it and told us but then we killed him but that`s a long story. They offer a bunch of contradictory reasons for why they killed him. But they anonymously are assuring everybody, not to worry, he was a murderer anyway, trust us, he told us he was a murderer. And maybe that`s true or maybe none of that is true. None of it is known for sure. None of it is on the record. None of it is even provided by named sources. This has just a baffling and terrible case all of it. The weirdest denouement over to the Boston bombing story. Today, finally, though there was a new revelation and on the record for the first time. Prosecutors in the ongoing Boston marathon bombing case have now stated on the record that the guy they killed in Florida told them not that he had anything to do with the Waltham murder but that the Boston bombing suspect did, the one suspect who`s already dead. There was no mention in the court filing of Mr. Todashev having confessed to those murders himself, as press reports initially said he had. But at least now, for the first time, according to Boston prosecutors, we have at least hearsay evidence about somebody who might have been involved in that triple killing. Some family members of the Waltham victims have spoken publicly about the lack of official information in this case to them as the victims` families. Even with law enforcement implicating in the crime the guy they shot in Florida, the Waltham victims` families have criticized law enforcement for killing that guy, especially if he could have shed light on what happened to their loved ones. And if he was responsible, he could have stood trial. As for the friends and loved ones of the guy who was killed in Florida, well, this is the part where it is sketchier. One of his friends in Florida was arrested late last month. He was denied a lawyer despite repeatedly asking for one. He was asking for one probably because his friend had been shot and killed by the FBI when he was questioned with no lawyer present. He is still in custody in Florida. Ibrahim Todashev`s girlfriend is the other person who lived in the house where she was killed, she gave this interview to Boston magazine in which she revealed among other things that she, herself, was arrested ahead of her boyfriend being shot and on the day the FBI killed him, they moved her into solitary confinement. After giving the "Boston" magazine that interview, she was arrested again. She says it is because she talked to the media about the Todashev case. She was then deported. She is now in Moldova. If you want to chat with her, or meet her, that is where she is. She was deported there October 11th. This is a story that does not feel possible. It is not supposed to feel possible at least in this country. A man gets shot and killed by government agents in his home. There`s a total information blackout. Nobody is arrested for killing him. Nobody is charged. Local authorities say they have no jurisdiction. Federal authorities say nothing, except anonymously leaking to the press that the guy they killed was a terrible guy. His friends are harassed, arrested and deported, in part for speaking to the press about it. No government official is compelled to tell the public what actually happened. More than two months ago, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola Counties Florida finally announced that at least he would investigate what happened in this killing since the Todashev shooting happened in his jurisdiction in Florida. So far, we have not heard one peep from that investigation. The FBI also says it`s conducting an internal investigation into the shooting. Why was this supposedly unarmed lone guy shot maybe up to seven times during an interview where multiple law enforcement officers were present? An internal FBI investigation might be a comfort to the families of those three young who were murdered to know that the FBI will at some point provide some answers of this man who knew something about this crime. Maybe the FBI will explain why they had to kill him before he could say what he knew, before he could stay in trial, if he himself was implicated in their murders. It might be also be a comfort to the Ibrahim Todashev family who want to know why their son was killed without a trial in the United States if he was indeed a suspect in a murder, a confessed suspect. It might be comforting to know that the FBI is conducting an internal investigation into what went wrong here if we did not also know what tends to happen when the FBI does this type of self investigations. For the past two decades, for 20 years and 150 cases where FBI agents shot and killed or wounded someone, every single one of those 150 shootings was deemed justified by the FBI`s internal review process. No FBI agent has ever been unjustified in shooting someone in the last 20 years if you ask the FBI. That`s what they conclude when they investigate themselves. Maybe the shooting was also justified this time, maybe not. In the meantime, we have to just keep guessing. But at some point, somebody is going to have to say something other than no comment about this case. It is devastatingly inconclusive and bizarre to do otherwise. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END