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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/12/14

Guests: B.J. Reyes

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Impressive observation on the camouflage detail, Chris. I totally -- I looked at the picture, myself, did not pick it up, right? The green doesn`t make sense. It`s amazing stuff. Thanks, man. Well done. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: All right. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK. He had more than 20 years on the force with not a mark against him. Before last year, a sergeant with the St. Louis County police had only ever been written up for a disciplinary infraction once in his entire career and that was because he has once forgotten his badge. When he showed up for work, he misplaced his badge. So, he got in trouble for that. That had been the only time he`d been written up or had any mark against him. More than 20 years on the force. But then, last year in quick secession, that same sergeant got reprimanded and dinged and punished over and over and over again. His lieutenant wrote him up for failure to supervise saying he should have gone to the scene of an incident to supervise officers who are under his command. A few weeks later, the same sergeant was written up again, this time for allegedly entering incorrect codes on some payroll documents. Then they sprung an impromptu drug test on him with no warning, telling him he was being drug tested that very day, had to take it within two hours. Then, they revoked his access to the police-issued vehicle that he`d been given to be his take-home car on the police force. When they revoked his take-home car, two other sergeants from the police department showed up at his house to take the car away from him and he says to stand over him with their hands on their pistols, as they watched him clean the vehicle out with his hands. Then, after that the county decided the sergeant should be transferred away from the district where he worked which is right near to where he lived. Moved him to a district farther away from where he lived with no explanation, and that, that transfer away from his home district, that, the sergeant says, was the last straw. And he filed a complaint with equal employment opportunity commission saying the reason he believed he was suddenly being treated this way, after 20 spotless years on the force, was because he was a whistleblower, because he was the whistleblower who had previously only been known by the name Lone Wolf. For months, someone signing the name Lone Wolf had written a series of anonymous letters to the St. Louis County police chief. The letters started in December 2012, and they said that a powerful and well-connected lieutenant in that police department had been directing uniformed St. Louis County police officers that they should specifically arrest black people. That they should specifically target black people for arrest in specific shopping areas in southern St. Louis County. Lone Wolf, this whistleblower, said that this lieutenant would make these claims out in the open. At roll call with the other officers present, the lieutenant would say things, like, quote, "Let`s have a black day. Let`s today stop everybody with a tan. Let`s stop everybody black at the mall." Quote, "Let`s make the jail cells more colorful." According to Lone Wolf, this whistleblower, among the uniformed officers who were being told this by their lieutenant at the start of their shifts at roll call, there were some black officers. Lone Wolf says the lieutenant dealt with that awkwardness by telling those black officers, "Don`t worry, I don`t mean you guys, you`re the good ones." Lone Wolf, the sergeant who was the whistleblower, later told the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" that he had waited months before summoning the courage to write those anonymous letters about the behavior of his lieutenant because he said this lieutenant had often bragged about being really well- connected, about knowing all the top commanders in the department. The whistleblower told the pain paper, quote, "I had no intention to take the police department down but these things had to be stopped. When a black person can`t go shopping at a mall, it`s wrong. This isn`t 50 years ago." But the sergeant who was the whistleblower and the lieutenant who he was whistle-blowing against, incidentally, were both white men. The allegations by the whistleblower triggered an internal review in St. Louis County. The lieutenant denied all the allegations. But two things happened in the course of that review. First thing: Lone Wolf, the whistleblower, when he came forward and talked to internal affairs, so inside the police department, they knew who had previously been anonymous. They knew who had been the whistleblower. That, he said, is when this chain of retaliation started against him. Losing his take-home car, getting drug tested, getting transferred far away from his house, getting those demerits essentially in his personnel file, all the rest of it. He says that started as soon as he identified himself to internal affairs -- internal retaliation for blowing the whistle on another cop. But the investigation did happen, though, and that investigation did give other officers on the force a chance to corroborate these allegations. And sure enough, by the time the county police chief fired that lieutenant, in St. Louis County, it was because that police chief, through the internal affairs investigation, was able to find not one, not two, but at least nine other officers who said, yes, that stuff that the guy was alleging, that actually did happen. The letter from county police chief to the lieutenant ultimately firing him, that letter was leaked to the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch." It said in part, quote, "You were heard by at least nine officers on multiple occasions directing enforcement actions on persons with black, tan, or colored skin without any reference to probable cause." So, that police lieutenant in St. Louis County last year was fired for what was described as his racial remarks. He did lose his job. Apparently, that came at great cost to the man who blew the whistle on his racist behavior. After the lieutenant was fired, the police chief in St. Louis County also announced that he would also ask for new data about race and policing in St. Louis County. He said he would contact a team of researchers at UCLA, in California, to come in and study the St. Louis County arrest data, to ensure that racial profiling wasn`t occurring, to ensure it basically that police officers under this lieutenant`s command weren`t actually following his instructions to go fill up the jail cells that day with black people. It`s interesting, though, getting more data about that sort of thing, getting more data about the risk that black people and white people are being policed differently -- I mean, it never seems like a bad idea to have more information about something like that. But Missouri, interestingly, already does have a ton of information on that subject publicly available, if anybody cares to look. It`s no secret. And there`s an interesting reason why. In the year 2000, the Missouri legislature had a particularly bad year. It was described as a caustic legislative session in 2000, in the great state of Missouri. But one of the things they did pass by overwhelming margins in both the House and the Senate that year in Missouri was a bill about racial profiling, a bill specifically to collect data on race and policing. In August 2000, the then-Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan and the then-attorney general who`s now the Democratic governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, they were both personally on hand for the public signing of this Missouri bill that "A," banned racial profiling by police in Missouri, but "B," it also required that every police officer in the state would have to record information about the race of the person they were stopping every time they made a traffic stop. They have to do that in the state of Missouri by law since the year 2000, every police department and every police officer in the state. It`s a mandatory reporting. And so, there`s this incredible data, incredible arrest-by-arrest data made publicly available on the Web site of the Missouri attorney general`s office every year and it`s well laid out. Just click on the county. Click on the town within the county. Click on it year by year and it tells you exactly what proportion of people stopped in every little town across the state are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or other. And so in, say, the town of Ferguson, Missouri, which is in St. Louis County, you can get very specific data for each of the last 14 years about your racial likelihood of getting stopped by police for some reason in that particular town. And in that data, you can see over time remarkable consistency for the racial ratio of how people who live in that town are policed. I mean, this is official data from the state of Missouri. It`s not some outside survey. It`s not something that somebody comes in and does once every six years and hopes it`s a snap shot. It`s year by year by year, arrest after arrest after arrest, every town by state by law. It comes up with a comprehensive and detailed racial disparity index for policing, town by town. This is basically what they found for Ferguson. If there was no racial inflection at all to the rate at which people got stopped, if a racial group`s proportion of the population was exactly the same as the proportion of stops by police for that group, then that ratio would be 1.0. That would be totally neutral. You see that mark for the gray line there. Here`s what that ratio actually is for black people in Ferguson. See how much above 1.0 it is? That`s how much more likely black people are to get stopped by police relative to their share of the population in Ferguson, Missouri. This is what it is for white people. Oh, look how far below that line it is. That`s how much less likely you are to get stopped by police in Ferguson, relative to white people share of the population in that town. If you want to look at it another way, the most recent data for 2013, black people made up 67 percent of the population in Ferguson, but they made up 86 percent of the traffic stops. And that is a big disparity, just a snapshot in time in a single year in single town. What`s actually more amazing, how long it`s consistently been like that in that town and in towns across Missouri, frankly. But in that town specifically -- I mean, that disparity in terms of how much more often black people are stopped by police in Ferguson, Missouri, is no secret. It`s not spiking any one way or another. This is pretty much what it is, and the data about that that proves it and shows it has been publicly available data since back in 2000. We`ve had 14 years of knowing it`s this way. When Mel Carnahan signed that law requiring the data to be collected and to be made publicly available, he said this at the time. He said, "The statistical evidence that will be created will be objective evidence to the public as to the prevalence of this problem." And it is, right? It is. We have objective evidence as to the prevalence of this problem, and the fact that it`s never changing. It turns out sunlight, itself, doesn`t actually disinfect anything. Knowing that the problem exists, publishing state data about the existence and persistence of the problem has done nothing, itself, to make the problem go away. We`re not so ashamed when we look at those numbers that we do anything to change it. When St. Louis County had to fire a supervising lieutenant for telling uniformed officers at roll call at the start of their shifts that they should go out that day and make sure to arrest lots of black people, part of the response in addition to firing that officer was to say, let`s get more data on this problem. Well, you know, yes, the data is very helpful to have in order to talk about what the problem is, so we can all agree on what the problem is. But having the data, itself, apparently does not fix anything. It doesn`t happen statewide, didn`t happen specifically in St. Louis County. Having the data, knowing the problem exists isn`t enough to get rid of the problem. And apparently, public protest and unflattering attention aren`t enough to get rid of the problem, either. I mean, it was hullaballoo in St. Louis County, when they had to fire the "let`s have a black day" police lieutenant, right? But still, six months later, the NAACP in Missouri was filing a new federal civil rights complaint against the same police department alleging further instances of racial disparity including the way they were disciplining their own officers. The Justice Department also has an ongoing investigation into racial disparities in another part of justice in St. Louis County. They have an ongoing investigation into how St. Louis County provides legal representation to juveniles in the court system. In Ferguson, which, again, is 2/3 black, 67 percent black, there`s no black member of the school board. There were protests last year when that school board with no black people on it decided to suspend the superintendent of schools in Ferguson who does happen to be African- American. The community where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer this weekend has a population that is 2/3 black. Of its 53 police officer, three of them are black. Two black women and one black man, out of 53 officers. And knowing that, and fixing that are not the same thing. Knowing that, having complete data that everybody agrees is the truth about that, apparently is not enough of an incentive for us to fix it. And that, though, is the inescapable context for the outrage over this young man`s death in Missouri this weekend. One protester told "The New York Times" this today, "You have to begin with this frustration. Treatment of these communities is not equal. In white communities, the police truly protect and serve. In black communities, that is not the case." Part of the policing complaint here in Ferguson is obviously whatever led this unarmed 18-year-old boy whose family`s attorney said he was wearing shorts and a tank top and flip-flops at the time, what led him to be shot multiple times by a police officer in broad daylight. That`s part of the problem, obviously. But another part is how the police have responded to the protests that have erupted after that killing. Police told local journalists turning up to cover the protests that they`ve said flat-out to journalists showing up to cover them, you are entering a war zone, you guys are in the middle of a war zone. It looks like a war zone. Police presence in the street at the time has looked like a cross between a SWAT raid and full-scale military invasion. One CNN crew was filming behind those militarized front lines on Sunday night in Ferguson, and behind those lines out of SWAT gear, he caught one police officer screaming at the protesters, "Bring it, bring it all you f-ing animals, bring it." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Racial tensions and nerves on edge. Even an officer we caught on camera gave into his rage calling protesters animals. Listen. POLICE OFFICER: Bring it, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Bring it! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Ferguson police department had said yesterday that they, today, would release the name of the officer who was involved in the shooting. Today, they did say that that officer is on administrative leave but that they have decided not to release his name. They say there have been threats against him so they decided not to release it. St. Louis County Police Department today did release preliminary results of an autopsy on 18-year-old Michael Brown. The autopsy reportedly shows Michael Brown died of gunshot wounds but police will not yet say how many gunshot wounds. They have said in the past that they believe there were multiple shots fired and believe no weapon was involved other than the officer`s weapon which killed him. President Obama released a statement this afternoon saying this, "The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that`s what Michael and his family and our broader American community deserve." In St. Louis County today, Michael Brown`s family continued to call for justice in this case and a full investigation. They`ve also continued to call for calm and to denounce anybody who has rioted or looted as the protests have sometimes descended into anger and chaos. In his role as president of the National Action Network, MSNBC`s Al Sharpton spoke with the family today, spent the day with the family today, and then publicly called for calm, saying that that was the right way to honor this young man. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK PRESIDENT: This is not a cause for them. This is their child. This is not some prop for politics. This is their child. No one has the right to take their child`s name and drag it through the mud because you`re angry. To become violent, in Michael Brown`s name, is to betray the gentle giant that he was. Don`t be so angry. Don`t be so angry that you distort the image of who his mother and father told us he was. Some of us are making the story how mad we are rather than how promising he was. Don`t be a traitor to Michael Brown in the name of "you mad". Please, for justice and Michael, as the priority. I know you`re angry. I know this is outrageous. When I saw that picture, it rose up in me an outrage, but we can`t be more outraged than his mom and his dad. We are not more angry than his mom and dad. And if they can hold their heads with dignity -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right. SHARPTON: -- then we can hold our heads with dignity. There are those that are saying peace, but they really just mean quiet, because in order to establish peace, you must have fair justice for everyone. We want real peace. We don`t want to just be told to shut up and suffer in silence. We must have answers, and then use those answers to guide us toward peace. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Reverend Al Sharpton with the National Action Network calling for calm but not for silence. He and the family and local leaders called for another demonstration this evening which started within the past hour. Local leaders from the family are calling for a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow. They`re also asking people who may have witnessed the shooting or may have information about it to come forward, particularly anybody who has photo or video evidence of what happened. And this is kind of amazing, they`re also asking for the people who have already identified themselves as eyewitnesses to the shooting to be allowed to speak to the police. Think about that for a second. This is one of the more remarkable and as yet unexplained things that`s happened thus far in this case. This is the young man who was walking with Michael Brown when this altercation with a police officer of whatever kind resulted in Mike Brown being shot and killed in the street. This young man was the guy he was with. This young man was there in the moment that this happened. He was the third person on the scene. He was the third person between the person who was shot and the person who shot him. This young man made himself known publicly immediately after the incident happened. He did multiple interviews. He talked to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. He talked to the CBS affiliate, KMOV, in St. Louis. He spoke with He did this interview last night with Chris Hayes here on MSNBC on "ALL IN." And he told his story about what he saw. He`s told his story in a remarkably consistent way across all of these different interviews about what happened. He`s told it again over and over and over again to all of these different media outlets, but that young man has not yet talked to the police. The local NAACP said today that they contacted the local police on this young man`s behalf to ask if he could please give them a formal statement as they investigate this matter. That young man has not talked to them yet. He`s not yet talked to anybody who is formally investigating this matter. So, yes, there is a lot of anger about this killing, and there`s a lot of longstanding reason to be angry about racial disparity in law enforcement in Missouri, and in this county in Missouri, and in this town in Missouri. But since this happened, this weekend, it`s only Tuesday, one of the unfathomable things about this investigation is that whatever official investigation or investigations of this shooting are supposedly under way, they so far have not involved any one official talking to the other person who was there at the scene. It`s bewildering. Late tonight, that young man`s attorney, he`s now secured an attorney, said that both the St. Louis County prosecutor and the FBI have now been in touch to schedule interviews, but as of yet, he has not spoken to them. Joining us now is the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, host of "POLITICS NATION" here on MSNBC. Reverend Al was with Michael Brown`s family at the Greater St. Mark`s Church in St. Louis tonight, addressing the tensions in and around St. Louis and the Brown family`s pursuit of justice for their son. Reverend Al, thank you so much for being with us. SHARPTON: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Let me ask you about both the family and the community more broadly. Obviously, they`ve been able -- the family has been able to speak publicly a few different times including at length on your show last night. How would you describe they`re coping and how the community feels tonight after we`re a few nights into this? SHARPTON: Well, this family is absolutely heartbroken. The mother, father, grandparents are heartbroken, but they have shown extreme dignity and have really said they want to come forward and demand justice but also at the same time say they do not want their son identified with violence. We`re at a church now. There are well over 1,200 people here. And they`re here. They should be grieving. They`re getting ready for a funeral. They`re getting ready to see what comes of a medical examiner looking at their son`s body which is a nightmare to them. But they found the strength to be here tonight to say to the young people, let us fight for justice, let not the story of my son be that it was destruction in the city rather than the construction of justice. And I`ve really admired the strength of his family, and as you laid out the case, Rachel, about this city, 53 policemen in a city that is 67 percent black, only three policemen, no blacks on the board of education, white mayor, the white chief of police. The whole city is polarized and it`s in that polarization that this occurred. And I think that you have to see the whole context to understand the anger, but what we`re saying is channel that anger to make a difference. They want you to be destructive so they can avoid the solutions. We`ve got to solve the problem and we`ve got to make the criminal justice system work for people like Michael Brown. Otherwise, we`re not the country that we claim to be. MADDOW: Al, when you talk about the family demanding justice and talking about fighting for justice in a constructive way here -- I mean, you`ve been involved in so many tragedies like this in the past. Families are comfortable calling you and having you be their bridge to the outside world, in a responsible way, in moments like this. What -- what concretely do you tell people to hope for and to work for? What would justice look like? SHARPTON: I tell them that first of all, you cannot ever guarantee the outcome of a criminal case. The odds in police cases are better when you go to the federal government for certain reasons. And that`s what happened to Rodney King, those police are still in jail. Anthony Baez, all federal prosecutions that were successful. In state court, you have this relationship between prosecutors and police, because the same prosecutors that were prosecuting the case depend on police in that police department for all of their cases. So it is the appearance, even if it is not always the case, it is the appearance of they`re not as aggressive. But what`s important in many jurisdictions, particularly in New York I know well, you can waive a jury in a state court, so police in many cases, as Sean Bell, waived a jury, tried by a judge, then you deal with the politics of some judge who was selected. In federal court, you can`t waive a jury. You have to waive it only if the prosecutor agrees. So, you`re judged by your peers, and the investigation and the prosecutor is not dependent on the local police for their everyday cases. So, you remove some of the appearance there. The reason why the federal authorities would be trusted here more is because witnesses have said, I`m afraid if we talk to the local authorities, I`ve got to live here when you all are gone. They will be retribution on me. Or they won`t be aggressive. So, I`m honest with them. We may or may not win the criminal, but we`ve got to fight and keep it going, but we must do it in a dignified way. Also I say we`ve got to fight for long-term change. We`ve got to deal with policy. I will not come into a case, and I`ve never come into situations to help unless we`re asked. Once I agreed that National Action Network and myself will come in, we say, what is the social policy that we`re dealing with here? And in here, in this town, they`re talking about this young man was stopped by police for walking in the street. With all of the gun violence, all of the drug trafficking we have all over this country, police that are majoring in low- level crimes saying that in black areas by some magic, if you`re a low- level criminal, you`ll grow up to be a hardened criminal, but in white areas we don`t go at such a high percentage. So, what are you saying? That by some miracle the profile with them is recreation, with blacks is criminal? We`ve got to have one standard for everyone and when the state attorney general of Missouri said that 86 percent of the people in this town that were stopped for traffic was black, and only 20 percent white, which is clearly not the way the demographics read, you`re dealing with profiling and you`re dealing with low-level policing and we`ve got to deal with the changing of the policy as we deal with Michael Brown`s case. MADDOW: And the profiling data is as clear as day. It`s the state`s own data and nobody can contest it. We`ve got 14 years of it out there for everybody to see. That`s got to be the start of the conversation in some ways. Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, joining us live from St. Louis. Reverend Al, I know you`ve been up about 40 straight hours -- thank you for being with us tonight. I appreciate it. SHARPTON: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks. MADDOW: Good luck there. All right. Reverend`s Al continuing coverage of this and other issues is to be found on MSNBC on "POLITICS NATION", weeknights at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. All right. Lots more ahead tonight, including a legitimate news reason to bring up this guy and not just as an allegory. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not Mr. Lebowski. You`re Mr. Lebowski. I`m the dude. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last night at this time, the country was absorbing the shock that comic icon and actor Robin Williams had died unexpectedly. Well, tonight, almost exactly 24 hours later, it`s been confirmed by NBC News that the legendary actress Lauren Bacall has passed away. She was 89 years old. She lived a long life. She lived 70 years as her long life as a public figure. She was 19 when cast opposite Humphrey Bogart in the classic adaptation of Ernest Hemingway`s "To Have and Have Not." Nineteen years old playing across the biggest movie star in the world who was 25 years older than she was. In one scene in that debut, Lauren Bacall became a certified movie star. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAUREN BACALL, ACTRESS: You know you don`t have to act with me, Steve. You don`t have to say anything and you don`t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don`t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Kind of get the sense that maybe in the script the pause wasn`t supposed to be quite that long. On the set of that movie, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall fell madly in love. They were married. They became the most glamorous couple in the whole world before or since. Her movie career blossomed in the `40s and `50s. It`s impossible to think of film noir without her. She was the heart of the greats. Like "The Big Sleep" and "Key Largo", which you should watch tonight if you haven`t seen them. She was top of the movie business as the movies became the dominant medium in American popular culture. At the height of her fame and popularity and, therefore, her power, Lauren Bacall also became a prominent voice in American politics. She was not afraid to be openly critical of the House on American Activities Committee. She also became a friend of President Harry Truman and the "Life" magazine photo of Lauren Bacall atop the piano that Harry Truman was playing became one of the greatest things you will ever see about any president ever. Lauren Bacall had a long and enormously inspiring and successful acting career. And she lived long and happily after her days in the movies were over, but it never meant that she stopped being a movie star. She defined the term. She died tonight. I`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, there`s unexpectedly big news for the chances the Republican Party has for taking over the United States Senate this year. Everybody thought they knew what the battlegrounds were going to be about that this year and who was going to be fighting on those battlegrounds. But today, that basic information shifted in more than one state. And it shifted in one case in a really kind of sketchy way. And that story`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In February, John Walsh was appointed by Montana`s governor to fill out the remainder of Max Baucus` term in the U.S. Senate. John Walsh was lieutenant governor of the state. He`d been head of the state`s National Guard. He`s decorated Iraq war veteran in the Senate. That appointment of him to the Senate was a chance for Montana Democrats to put John Walsh on the map basically, to give him a national stage and something that kind of looked like incumbency as an advantage while he ran for a full Senate term starting this year. But that national stage ultimately was the end of Senator Walsh`s national political career after "The New York Times" reported that he had badly plagiarized a major paper at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, right after his service in Iraq. Last week, as you know, Senator Walsh took himself out of the running for the race. Montana Democrats now need to scramble to find a new Democrat to try to hold that seat. Former Governor Brian Schweitzer quickly nixed the idea, even though it generated lots of buzz. Other names that have been floated include the president of Emily`s List, Stephanie Schriock and also Nancy Keenan, who`s former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. But, also, apparently, Jeff Bridges. Yes, the actor. Jeff Bridges, apparently, the dude lives in Montana. Over 1,000 people have signed an online petition in favor of Jeff Bridges, U.S. senator. He told Howard Stern, naturally Howard Stern, that his wife had put the kibosh on his running for the Senate seat, although he professed to being intrigued by the idea. You know, hey, you never know. That`s what Montana Democrats are doing right now. Praying that the dude will abide and that`s how they can hold on to that Senate seat. And it is hilarious on one level, but the deadline for Democrats to choose a new Democrat is next week. And so, Montana Democrats are holding a last-second meeting this Saturday morning to try to decide on someone. And that`s not the only place where Democratic designs on the United States Senate just got both weird and sketchy, because meanwhile, Democrats in Hawaii were hit with their own curve ball last week. When legendary Senator Daniel Inouye died in 2012, it was reported that his expressed dying wish was that Hawaii`s governor appoint Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to replace him in the Senate. The governor reportedly ignored that dying wish from Senator Inouye and instead installed his own Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz. Well, ask your karma, these things have a way of not being forgotten. And nobody`s suggesting that Daniel Inouye was so powerful that he directed this outcome from beyond the grave. But on Saturday, Democrats in Hawaii did vote to oust that incumbent Hawaii governor, Neil Abercrombie, in favor of a totally unnamed state senator named David Ige, who not only ousted a sitting governor but who beat that sitting governor by a freaking 36-point margin. And at the same time, Democrats in Hawaii may have ousted the man who Governor Abercrombie appointed to that Senate seat, defying those dying wishes, because after being appointed to it in the first place, Brian Schatz has to run to hold on to that seat in this primary and the person who he`s running against is the woman who Daniel Inouye wanted appointed to it in the first place, Colleen Hanabusa. That primary race took place last week, but it is still too close to call. The margin between the two is 1,600 votes right now. But here`s the really hard to answer question. The reason that race is too close to call is in part because of weather. Hawaii was hit by a major tropical storm on Friday, a primary day, damaged roads and homes and downed power lines preventing voting in two of the state`s 247 precincts. Two precincts in an area called Puna on the big island of Hawaii. And so, now, the state has made the decision in order to settle this thing and decide who the Democratic nominee for Senate is, they`re just going to hold another election this Friday, just for those two precincts. So, now, the fate of Hawaii`s entire Senate race rests in the hands of approximately 7,000 voters in two precincts who have not yet cast a ballot in this race. And who are getting to cast their ballots in this race after everybody else, knowing that the whole Senate race now depends on them and knowing the exact size of the margin they need to make up as a group if they want one of the other of the two candidates to win. That`s weird. And the question is, is that fair? And if that isn`t fair, what would be fair? I mean, appointments to the Senate are almost always weird and very frequently mismanaged, but this is a real election, a real primary that will likely determine who goes to the United States Senate from this state because Hawaii is such a Democratic state. I mean, naturally, now both Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz are is in these last two precincts, both helping with cleanup efforts after the storms, but also campaigning, in the days leading up to this suddenly shockingly important tiny new election that`s going to take place on Friday. Is holding a new election for just those two precincts fair to either candidate? Does it advantage one of the other of them? Should we expect more voters than usual to go vote now that they know just how much more important their votes are? These are high stakes under normal circumstances but these are very, very high stakes under very abnormal circumstances. Is it fair? Joining us now is B.J. Reyes. He`s a political reporter for the "Honolulu Star-Advertiser." Mr. Reyes, thank you very much for being with us. B.J. REYES, HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Hi, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, looking in from the outside, this seems like a really -- I mean, extraordinary situation. Obviously, folks are still cleaning up in these two precincts but the sense that there are these 7,000 voters who are essentially going to pick Hawaii`s next senator, how is that -- what`s the reaction to that in Hawaii right now? REYES: Well, it depends on who you ask at this point. Some of the residents who found out because they don`t have power, from reporters, that they were going to be deciding this race, some of them thought that was pretty cool. There was a lot of talk -- there`s a lot of talk over there, sometimes we on Oahu feel that politics are Oahu-centric. So, it`s -- they kind of like the fact that it`s in their hands for once and now, that we have to pay attention to them and there`s even a couple comments from people that say, now, we`re going to get to decide and that`s pretty cool. MADDOW: In terms of the way that we should expect this to go, we know that Brian Schatz appears to have about 1,600 vote lead heading into this tiny special election. Is it clear to you which candidate would have the advantage under normal circumstances in this part of Hawaii or which candidate might be advantaged by this very strange situation? REYES: It`s hard to say who would have the advantage under normal circumstances. You mentioned there`s about 7,000, 8,000 people in the district who would vote, about 5,000 people who voted in 2012. Now, in that district, there`s four precincts total. Two were able to vote. Two of them, the precincts did open and Brian Schatz won those districts. So, he`s up overall by 1,600 votes. So, Colleen Hanabusa has a very big hill to climb. She would have to win a lot of the turnout and she`d have to -- she would benefit by a higher turnout by getting more of the people to vote. If the turnout is somehow suppressed by people not being able to vote, then obviously that would benefit Brian Schatz, because she has to win a greater number of the people that do actually vote. So, they`re over there right now. They`re trying -- it`s a very fine line that they have to tread here by showing compassion for the people while also trying to win their vote, and they got to do that in a very subtle, careful way to not feel like -- so people don`t feel that they`re being pandered to. MADDOW: Certainly. And there`s also, of course, the logistics about, you know, roads and electricity and basic infrastructure for getting this together in time for now a few thousand people in American politics who have the most power of any constituency heading into a U.S. Senate race anywhere. B.J. Reyes, political reporter for "The Honolulu Star-Advertiser" -- thanks for helping us understand this tonight. I really appreciate it. REYES: Aloha, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Aloha. Thanks. All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Admit it, this week, these past few weeks have been filled with lot of really heavy, frankly, really depressing news, right? We don`t have to go through the litany, you know exactly what I`m talking about. But at the end of the show, we have a best new thing of pure joy. A bit of proof that not all is wrong in the world. It`s coming up next. It`s the best new thing in the world and it`s happening right when we most need one. I`m very excited about this. That`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If there`s a moment in the news cycle on which we need a best new thing in the world, I hereby suggest this is that moment. The news has been freaking terrible lately. It`s just been a freaking disaster day after day after day. But this story too is in the news, and this legitimately is the best new thing in the world. OK, ready? Ready. In Major League Baseball, the white thing that pitchers stand on, the pitching rubber is 60 1/2 feet from home plate, 60 feet, 6 inches. That`s how far the ball travels from the pitcher to the hitter. In Little League Baseball, it`s shorter, way shorter. The pitcher is only 36 feet away from the batter, and that, if you think about the geometry and the still of baseball, that shorter distance gives the batter less time to identify what type of pitch is being thrown, where it`s going and how to hit it. So, yes, Little League pitchers may not throw as fast, but batters in the little league have less time to react to what`s been thrown at them. And if you want to see what they`re throwing these days over that little 46-foot distance, you`re about to get your chance, because Thursday, the day after tomorrow is the first day of the Little League World Series. It`s held every year in the U.S., but it is a true world series with teams from all over the world. Eight U.S. teams, but also teams from South Korea and Venezuela and the Czech Republic, lots of places. But the best new thing in world happened in one of the final qualifying games to determine which U.S. teams are going to be in the tournament this year. It was two days ago, a game played between from Newark, Delaware, and a team from Philadelphia. Philly is wearing dark blue in these pictures. Now, ultimately, the Philly team won the game. They won 8-0, which means they`re going to advance to the World Series tournament. But the driving force behind the Philadelphia team`s victory was their pitcher, who threw a complete game shutout. One pitcher, six innings, only three hits the whole game. No runs, just a completely dominant performance. At one point, her fastball hit 70 miles an hour. Her fastball. This was Sunday`s pitcher for Philly`s Little League team, Mo`Ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl who says she`s going to be the first woman in Major League Baseball, or the first woman in the NBA, she hasn`t made up her mind yet. Her fastball hit 70 miles an hour, which to the banner, to all these boys swinging and missing as she throws it past them, I mean, if they were on a big league field, that would be the equivalent of her throwing 92 miles an hour at them. She throws the fastball equivalent to 92 miles per hour and she is 13 years old! Mo`Ne Davis` coach says she could play anywhere on the field. She does like to play in the infield, and oh, by the way, she also bats leadoff for the team. Philly`s first game in the Little League World Series is this Friday at 3:00. But the best new thing in the world is their 13-year-old girl pitcher throwing a shutout to get her team there in the first place. Mo`Ne Davis, God bless you. And may the rest of us get out of your way in time, on a news day and a time in the world when we really need an equivocal best new thing in the world. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END