tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 30, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
audience, 145 years ago, there were things placed in our state constitution. they are violating -- states rights people are violating the state constitution. >> i'm glad you're out of prison today. that is all for this evening. the "rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, my friend. >> good evening, chris. thank you for staying with us this hour after what has been a very, very busy news days. today the food and drug administration said said americans can purchase over the countera one pill drug that if taken three days after sexual intercourse can help prevent an unwanted pregnancy. it's emergency contraception. for political and not scientific reason, the bush administration and then obama administration had previously refused to let anyone under 18 buy it over the counter.
today the fda said 15 will be the age limit. the fda director said access to this emergency contraception like this one pill plan be contraception has the ability to decrease unwanted pregnancies in the united states. >> and an important announcement in the ricin case. yesterday the fbi arrested the man you see on your screen there in connection with ricin-tainted letters sent to president obama and u.s. senator roger wicker, as well as an elderly mississippi judge. he is the second person arrested in the case. the first suspect was released without charges after no traces of ricin were found in his house or his car or his workplace but an fbi affidavit released today says the second suspect, the guy who was just arrested yesterday, well, with him they have found traces of ricin at his martial arts studios and items he's
alleged to have dumped after sending the letter. and they said the man bought castor beans off internet and castor beans are what you make ricin from. also today president obama held a wide-ranging press conference answering questions on everything from immigration reform, he's mopeful, to syria, he's cautious, and the nba player to came out as being gay. he said he's proud of him. and fox news today asked about the what really happened in benghazi. to that the president responded with confusion. but the thing that seemed to most exasperate president obama today at that aforementioned press conference. >> it is expensive, it is
inefficient, it hurts us in terms of our international standing, it lesse eens cooperan with our allies. it is a recruitment tool for extremists. it needs to be closed. >> our president is not the most emotive guy in the world but i think that qualifies as exasperated obama or at least frustrated obama, even if you just define frustrated in the technical sense as in the president being frustrated from doing something that he wants to do. for frame of reference here, consider iran. consider iran circa 1985, okay? a relationship with iran in 1985 was very, very bad. it was even worse than it is now, i think. at that time we were only a few years out from the hostage
crisis in tehran where 52 americans were held hostage for more than a year at the u.s. embassy. we were still embroiled in another ongoing hostage crisis. the people held hostage in lebanon included a professor, an aide worker and the cia station chief. iran was involved in the iran/iraq war. in 1984 we declared officially that iran was a state of terrorism. in the mid of all that the president of the united states decided that he would secretly send them a bunch of missiles, secret live shipping weapons to iran illegally. i man, we are the great satan to them and they are the great
satan to us and the president is secretly sending them missiles? yes, that happened. and that is why ronald reagan is not going to be on rushmore, guys. he sold missiles to a state sponsor of terrorism in secret. and congress had passed a law saying he could not spend any money to rage a war he wanted to have in central america. ronald reagan wanted to overthrow the government in nicarag nicaragua. congress passed a law saying he could not do that and he did it anyway. since he couldn't get legal money hees money, he used the illegal money he earned from illegally selling missiles to return. the congressional investigation into what happened was considered to be fairly stacked in reagan's favor, but when it came out, it was scathing.
the big bipartisan congressional investigation into what he did said that the reagan administration had undermined a cardinal principle of the constitution, they had undermined the constitution's most significant check on executive power. the congress an investigation said reagan administration officials said officials viewed the law not as setting boundaries for their actions but raising impediments to their goals. it was just a scathing conclusion that this kind of law breaking by an american president was outrageous. it was a bipartisan consensus. it was almost a bipartisan consensus. there was a dissent filed, a minority report that said actually everything ronald reagan did here was fine. it was authored by an obscure wyoming congressman who didn't have any national profile at all but unlike the rest of congress, who are all horrified with reagan breaking the law so flagrantly, this wyoming
congressman filed a minority report that said as far as he was concerned, it was all fine. he said essentially that a president can do anything he wants. on national security, no law can constrain a president. that was the one dissent filed to the congressional investigation. that was the minority report, the wyoming congressman. fast forward two decades to a december after in 2005. you were on board air force ii with the vice president of the united states, en route to the middle east, the "new york times" has just broken the news that the government has been secretly wire tapping americans without a warrant and while he is being questioned about that on board air force ii, vice president dick cheney interjects this advice to the reporters questioning him. he says essentially, hey, listen, if you want to know why i think what we're doing is kosher, why i think it isn't illegal for us to do this, even though it sure looks illegal, if you want to know my feelings on what a president can and cannot do, go on and look at the
minority report i authored on the iran-contra affair. we are in an era of radically extended presidential power. it matters that ronald reagan was never impeached for illegally selling missiles to iran and for giving congress the one finger salute when they said you can't have the war you want in nicaragua and he did it anyway. but the missile thing and the war things were plainly illegal, which is why 14 administration officials, including ronald reagan's defense secretary and national security visadvis advi invite -- indicted but not president reagan. and that set precedent.
there was the big non-partisan reviews, that there is no evidence there had ever before been the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after september 11th. we are in a radically expanded era of executive power. that was expanded on purpose. and even though president obama has washed himself clean of the torture prerogative, which was claimed by the last president, means it just a policy precedent that we do not torture now. if you do torture people, even if the advice goes all the way to the president of the united states, the united states will not mind. we just elect to not do it anymore. a future president might feel differently. it will be his or her
prerogative to choose that or not as they see fit. presidential power, we like to think of it as a rubber band that can expand and contract depending on our politics but it more like an aged rubber band. it's old. it stretches but does not always stretch back. congress authorized the president after 9/11 to use military force anywhere in the world as he saw fit to retaliate against the people who attacked us on 9/11. not only is it 12 years later and that is still in effect but there's noise in washington that they want to make that authorization permanent. the u.s. president will have permanent authority forever to use military force however he or she sees fit forever thanks to 9/11 no matter how many decades we get into the future. we're living in an era of radically expanded executive power and yet there's president obama today exasperated, talking
about how his hands are tied hereby can do nothing. it is a national security matter on which he just has no authority to fix the problem. because even as the cheney doctrine of executive power lives on and the congress wants to foist on the presidency the constitutionally inconceivable power to wage war forever on his own say-so without checking with anybody, despite all that, on this one issue on an offshore issue in communist cuba, on this one thing the congress has decided to get up on its hynde legs and tell the president, no, mr. president, you are don't get to decide, we do. >> i've asked to review everything we've done in guantanamo, and i'm going to reengage with congress to try to make the case that this is not something in the best interest of the american people and it's not sustainable.
the notion we're going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in no man's land in perpetuity, even at a time when we've wound down the war in iraq, we're winding down the war in afghan stan, we're having success defeating al qaeda core, we've kept the pressure up on the transnational terrorist network, when we've transferred detention authority in afghanistan, the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests and it needs to stop. now, it's a hard case to make because i think for a lot of americans the notion is out of sight out of mind. it's easy to demagogue the issue.
that's what happened the first time it came up. i'm going to go back at it because i think it's important. >> president obama was then asked a follow-up question about the growing up in of hunger strike prisoners. 100 are now officially described by the military as refusing food. some are them are being force fed because one of the orwellian damn nations of imprisonment is that you're not allowed even to die if you want to. >> will they continue to force feed these individuals? >> i don't want these individuals to die. obviously the pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can, but i think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? why are we doing this? i mean, we've got a whole bunch of individuals who have been tried who are currently in maximum security prisons around the country, nothing's happened to them, justice has been
served, it's been done in a way that's consistent with our constitution, consistent with due process, consistent with rule of law, consistent with our traditions. but the individual who attempted to bomb times square, in prison serving a life sentence. individual who tried to bomb the plane in detroit, in prison, serving a life sentence. somali a part of al shah harr, in prison. i understand why for a lot of americans the notion is that somehow that we had to create a special facility like guantanamo and we couldn't handle this in a normal, conventional fashion, i understand that reaction but
we're now over a decade out. we should be wiser. we should have more experience in how we prosecute terrorists. and this is a lingering, you know, problem that is not going to get better. it's going to get worse. it's going to fester. and so i'm going to, as i said before, examine every option that we have aministratively to try to deal with this issue but ultimately we're also going to need some help from congress and i'm going to ask some folks over there who, you know, care about fighting terrorism butch also care about who we are as a people to step up and help me on it. >> what is it about this part of national security and counterterrorism that makes the congress want to so badly, want
so badly to block the president when they give the presidency historically unprecedented leeway on everything else related to war and terrorism? what is it about this part of it that makes them feel that they should be in charge of this, if nothing else? and is congress's plan really to hope those 166 men just up and die at some point so we never have to come up with another plan for what to do with them? and for the roughly half the prisoners there who have never been charged with anything, who have been cleared for poe sente release to other countries if congress would let them go, should we see them starving as them pleading their case to let them go? as well as they could because they don't take it with food. switch to citracal maximum plus d. it's the only calcium supplement that can be taken with or without food.
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that was carol rosenberg's. it was her first story about guantanamo bay as a prison camp. her story today was about how the american medical association has written to the pentagon to protest the force feeding of the hundred prisoners at guantanamo who are now prisoners there. carol has been called the institutional memory of guantanamo. it is a statement i agree with and she joys us tonight. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. >> you have been a lifeline for a lot of us in terms of understanding what's going on there, even when nobody else has been willing to pay attention. you were last there about ten days ago. you should you have none condition there is this austere since president obama took
office. what did you have mean by that? >> communal was the norm, meaning that groups of detainees, 8, 10, 12, got to eat together, pray together, watch tv together. the vast majority were considered to be communal captives kept in medium security confinement the guards were on the outside looking in, the detainees were on the inside organizing their own lives. when i went back down there about ten days ago after this raid, virtually every detainee down there is under lockdown, one man to a cell, kept inside as many as 22 hours a day, can be all day if he refuses recreation. the way he got to recreation before during the earlier part of the obama years until last month, he walked outside his cell, he went outside to a yard and the guards would be keeping an eye on him. now to leave that cell and go to a recreation yard, he has to be
shackled by the hand and feet and led with a guard on each side and put into a cage, a cell. for all but a very few number of detainees down there, that is the norm. we have not seen that for the majority of them for years. and they have not experienced that for years. there were detainees who were considered medium security community detainees throughout much of the obama administration and something has gone terribly wrong. most of guantanamo now is under lockdown. >> can you tell, i should say, can you tell if the lockdown is because of the prisoners protesting or are the prisoners protesting because of the lockdown? which came first? >> the protest came first. the lockdown was the result of the guards deciding that they needed to go in and clear off the cameras of the cells. you know, under communal the doors were open to their cells and it was more like dorm room
atmosphere. obviously it's a prison, it's not a college but they could come and go themselves with the exception of two hours a might when they were supposed to lock themselves inside. the way they watched is the guards looked through cameras and they could see each of the men in their cells at night during this two-hour period if not more. one by one they covered up their cameras. we're talking about 80, 90, 100 detain years of the 166. they put cereal boxes on their cameras. if you listen to the attorneys, this was considered a sign of distress. they believed their conditions had gotten to be so bad they wanted someone to intervene. >> so even while they were still living communally, they still felt that conditions were changing and that's what they were protesting about by blocking the cameras. >> they felt they had lost benefits. there had been in february a shakedown in which the guards went into the individual cells and took many things away.
they took, according to the lawyers, legal documents, they took family photos, they took -- i mean, the military said they took electronic equipment that they didn't understand how these detainees had gotten. they took away according to the lawyers wrist watches, which the military said they were not allowed. but two years ago i had seen wrist watches on the detainees and asked about this and was told this was a perk the military had decided to give some individuals. >> and then they retracted it. >> and then the guards changed. and they knew rotation of guards came in and whatever they saw in their protocols, whatever they believed circumstances of detention and doctrine should be did not match what they saw going on in the prison and so they started taking things away. >> so this should be seen both as -- what's going on, this real crisis with all these prisoners refusing food, we should see
this as a response to a change in conditions that may be about just differences in opinion in administrative approach toes es how to manage these prison facilities overtime but is it also speech about their extended detention in. >> the underlying message is frustration. these men have been held here for 11 years. 86 were told about four years ago or 86 of them were designated -- excuse me. 86 of them were designated about four years ago for release with conditions and nothing has happened. so that frustration has boiled up and when this shakedown came, when the new guards arrived, whatever the source of tension was broke -- erupted into this
hunger strike. you had a hunger strike going on behind the hidden cameras and guards who felt they couldn't see if people were starving themselves to death in secret, went in, cleared off the cameras, put them in their cells and now can watch them, have complete control over them 24 hours a day. if somebody were to cover up their camera, they'd be alone in a cell, locked inside and the guards have protocols for how to go inside, take the prisoner and clear the camera. so the doctrine allows the guards this total control. but in the process the detainees have lost a quality of life that they've become accustomed to that was seen as a management tool for taking care of people who if poll tex and international affairs had not intruded could have been gone through years ago, could have been taken to their homelands or found another country to
resettle them and that some of these men were chosen to be released through reviews, reviews conducted by the cia, the ddia, the fbi, the state department, the justice department looked at the files and said 86 men shouldn't be there, let's find a way to get them out and they haven't gotten them out. >> they knew they had been adjudicated in that way. the hope that they would leave is then quashed and it's indefinite with no hope of knowing how it's going to end. >> yes, they don't see a way out. >> it's amazing. >> the international and policy consequences of this are playing out in that briefing room today. knowing the connection of the political debates to those on the ground is possible because of your connection here and i'm grateful for that. the country owes the "miami
herald" a debt of gratitude for employing her to stay on the guantanamo beat when nobody else would. >> thank you. >> i'll be right back. girl vo: i'm pretty conservative. very logical thinker. (laughs) i'm telling you right now, the girl back at home would absolutely not have taken a zip line in the jungle. (screams) i'm really glad that girl stayed at home. vo: expedia helps 30 million travelers a month find what they're looking for. one traveler at a time. expedia. find yours. i'm also a survivor of ovarian a writand uterine cancers. i even wrote a play about that. my symptoms were a pain in my abdomen and periods that were heavier and longer than usual for me.
based something that was said -- >> let me just say i do every town hall meeting this way and have a process and we will get to as many questions as we can so -- >> we don't want to regulate guns. >> well -- >> that was today in northern new hampshire. turns out that senate vote to filibuster background checks for gun sales, turns out that vote was not taken anonymously. people know how people voted on that. the political price of that vote is starting to get rung up. that's coming up in just a moment. [ tires screech ] [ beeping ] ♪
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>> ten years ago tomorrow, president george w. bush pretended to land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. he was wearing a flight suit. he went inside and changed into a suit so he could stand behind this podium and declare the month-old war in iraq essentially over. we have prevailed. it says so on the banner. the same day he was declaring
victory in iraq saying major combat operations were over, that same day, this platoon received their order to ship out to baghdad. paul served his tour in bag did and and served as house-to-house platoon leader. here's what he's working on now. this is the average amount of time veterans have to wait for their benefits claim, their disability benefits claims to be processed by the u.s. department of veterans affairs. the problem is particularly acute for the veterans of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. the v.a. has been assuring everyone for years they're working on it but the problem also a gotten worse the problem has continued to get worse not better year after year. this week 67 senators from both parties signed a letter to the president calling on him to personally get involved in fixing this problem.
iava submitted tens of thousands of signatures a couple of weeks ago demanding the same thing. as we talked about on the show last night, there's been a rash of top-level staff departing from the v.a. recently. the chief of staff and chief technology officer left in march, chief information officer left a few weeks later, the man in charge of day-to-day operations at the v.a., they're all gone within weeks. iava has been really good at putting the pressure on this problem, they have publicized the issue, put vets out there to tell their personal story, have put promotional materials. ted cruz and elizabeth warren signed on to the same letter. this is a lot of pressure being
brought to bear. seeing these high-level departures all at once, it like seeing a building with the bricking starting to pop off. joining me -- you no longer have hair. do you think this will fix the probl problem? >> we hope so. it's a team game. it's got to be a team game in washington to move this ball forward. our goal is simple, get the back log to zero. if it takes two years, we're not going to stop until we get there. in boston if you file a
disability claim for benefits, you're going to wait on average 517 days. >> to hear. not to get benefits but to hear. >> if reno, if you file an appeal, it's about two years. 67 senators don't agree on anything but they do agree the president has to step in and fix this. the department of defense and the rest of the government agencies have to work together to fix this problem. that's why we need the president to step up. we've heard from everyone in america basically except the president. now we need to hear from him. >> the v.a. and d.o.d., when the deputy quit, part of his job was managing the v.a. and d.o.d. so the top guy is gone.
why do you feel presidential involvement is the linchpin? >> because of what you said. the v.a. has been trying to fix the problem for a decade. now they're trying to fix it again. there are folks working internally very hard and they need help. we need the v.a. to ask for help like our veterans are asking for help every single day. they need to get this done faster. if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. we got elizabeth warren and ted cruz to agree on this, along with senator mccain and senator loutenberg from different parties. the american people didn't know about this until recently. now they know about it, the media is on it and we are not going to stop until this is fixed. memorial day is coming up. he'll have the opportunity to lead on this and it will help all veterans. >> i think of you, paul, on
veterans day. i have been reliving a lot of politics of the iraq war because of the bush library opening on mission accomplished day ten days later. and the library itself is trying to argue the case for starting the war. on this date, on this anniversary while this stuff is happening, how do you think we have done as a country in separating our feelings about that war from our feelings from the people who fought it? the big picture thing we all worried about when you guys were first starting to come home? ten years on, how do you think we're doing? >> i think we're doing a good job. we learned to separate the war from the warriors, the people from the politics. they said never again, it's not going to happen what happened to us. all the veterans before us made sure we were treated well when we came home. overwhelmingly the american public supports us but now we need the government to catch up. if you do support the troops, it
ten years later, there's another mission that's not accomplished and that's fixing the v.a. i never thought ten years ago when i was in iraq that this would be a problem ten years later. it's absolutely absurd. this is a good chance to take the next step and continue to turn the page on how our veterans have been treated in the past. >> paul thank you very much for being here. i'm sorry i talked again go b your hair. >> the great state of massachusetts. that story's next. [ agent smith ] i've found software that intrigues me. it appears it's an agent of good. ge has wired their medical hardware with innovative software to be in many places at the same time.
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today in the great state of massachusetts, democrats and republicans got to pick the senate candidates who run in the june election to fill the seat previously held by senator john kerry. so today was the primary election. that means it's that time again. ♪ i'm like pavlov's dog. i salivate at the sound. polls closed in massachusetts a little more than an hour ago.
the a.p. is forecasting ed markey is the winner. he's seen as the more liberal of the two democrats on the ballot today. he appears to have defeated the more conservative democrat stephen lynch. congressman markey leading lynch with 57% of the vote to lynch's 43%. on the republican side, gabriel gomez beat former u.s. attorney mike sullivan and dan winslow. we now have what looks to you are our matchup to replace john kerry in the u.s. senate. doesn't know how that will shake out in june.
one thing we do know is the dominating feature of the primary today is that nobody voted. turnout was like tumbleweeds. one note on this, looking ahead, the date the johnson election is scheduled for, june 25th, at least the boston part of massachusetts is again scheduled to be otherwise occupied on the day that general election is going to happen. june 25th ought to be right in the middle of the sure to be salacious trial of this man, the single most famous person in all of massachusetts. if there were no other household name in massachusetts it, would be his household name, boston mobster whitey bulger. the special election for the senate seat is likely to fall right in the middle of his criminal trial. he was one of the fbi's most wanted criminals who eluded capture for some 16 years. if you think people didn't turn out today for the primary, wait until the general election held right in the middle of whitey's trial. oh this is soft.
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check out this new add from the group that formed on facebook, group called moms demand action for gun sense in america. this is the new ad they've done. i think it is really, really good. >> i want to begin by saying that. >> our nation is shocked and saddened by the news of shootings at virginia tech today. >> the majority of those that died today were children. >> the exact toll has not yet been confirmed. >> to the people of the community of littleton. >> our hearts are broken today. as a country, we have been through this too many times. >> schools should be placed as a safety. >> whether it is an elementary school in newtown.
>> perhaps we may never fully understand it. >> we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action. >> in any way we can. >> regardless of the politics. >> to the parents who have lost their beloved children. >> my administration would do everything possible. >> to prevent anything from this happening again. >> may god bless the memory of the victims. >> that ad launched today by moms demand action, ending with a capital switchboard line for people to call their u.s. senators. i see a lot of issue ads in this job. i think this is a really good one. in the 2012 election, you may remember for a long time conservatives refused to believe the polls, right up to the night of the election, mitt romney for president campaign believed the conservative line that the polls could not be trusted, even though the polls said they would lose, they were convinced they would win.
the romney folks did not win. the polls that said mitt romney would lose the presidential race were accurate polls. the polling firm that did the best work, the most resize work foretelling the results of the 2012 election was ppp, public policy polling. their polls correctly foretold the results of the election in 49 out of 50 states. this week ppp polls came to a new conclusion about the state of the electorate. they found this man is the most disliked person in the whole united states senate. congratulations arizona senator jeff flake. you have only been in office four months and already your approval rating is the worst in the nation. jeff flake has a 32% approval rating. 32%. that's as bad as the republican governors who everybody hates, that's rick scott level bad, tom corbett level bad. bothers in the senate.
senator flake initially responded saying ppp is a terrible organization, they don't know what they're talking about. he said if we believe ppp polls, i wouldn't be here at all. actually, sir, ppp was not only the most accurate polster of them all, it accurately predicted the outcome in jeff flake for senate race. attacking the poll that says you're less popular than pond scum doesn't make you any more popular. today, he finally admitted on facebook he is in his words less popular than pond scum. the senator accurately noting the poll showed that a majority of arizonans are less likely to vote for him because of his vote against background checks for gun sales. it probably doesn't help the senator that he wrote to one of his constituents, wrote to a grieving mother from the theater shooting and said he would vote
for better background checks right before he voted against them. so yeah, pond scum, that's his phrase for himself, not mine. literally. that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum. that general trend of the vote on background checks is not just a jeff flake thing. it was noticed when ppp polling showed ratings were up for pat toomey who sponsored the background checks legislation. at the same time ratings went down for kelly ayotte, the only senator in the northeast to vote against it. here is how it looks in chart forms. now we have more. not only has kelly ayotte tanked in the polls since voting against background checks, here she's holding town halls in her
home state. they have been contentious. not only has senator ayotte tanked since voting, not only has jeff flake tanked since voting against background checks, all the senators that voted against background checks have seen their poll numbers drop since the vote. lisa murkowski, mark begich, dean heller, rob portman in ohio, all voted against background checks, all have seen their poll numbers drop since. in every one of those polls constituents say the vote against background checks makes it less likely that senator will ever get their vote. if you wonder why joe manchin says he is not giving up on the issue and is bringing this background thing back up for vote with whatever tweaks are needed to pass it, those are the poll numbers that are why. also, this kind of pressure is why. here is another new ad. this starts running tomorrow. watch this. >> i'm a grandmother, a hunter, and a gun owner. i've been the victim of a home
invasion. i hid my girls in a closet, called for help, aimed the handgun at the door and waited. guns can protect us, but we're less safe with guns in the wrong hands. 79% of montana voters support background checks, so why did senator max backus vote against us. now that you're retiring, please put montana first. >> a new ad from the progressive change campaign committee. it is running tomorrow and also running in d.c. follows this print ad with the same message. it was in 20 different montana newspapers this past week. families of kids killed at sandy hook elementary were out there again today, working relentlessly, in new jersey asking for a limit on high capacity magazines. nicole hockley said although her
son died, some escaped and lived whiem he reloaded. he said dillon wasn't able to escape. i ask myself every day, every minute, if they had 30 rounds instead of 40, would my son be alive. groups pushing for reform are pushing. the senators that vote against that are paying the price. this is not over. this is not over by any stretch of the imagination. now it is time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." thanks for being with us. if you have a job, you probably missed the presidential press conference, but don't worry, you didn't miss anything. as usual it was more about the press than the president. >> president obama marks a major second term milestone today. >> president obama marking the first 100 days. >> day 100 of t