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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Richard Engel, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Michael Bloomberg

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Hi, Lawrence.  Thank you.  We are covering the globe tonight from Michael Bloomberg, Perez Hilton, all the way to Egypt.  We‘re doing it.  Thanks.  Appreciate it.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

All right.  So, what happens next?


We have been asking that every day as we have covered what appears to be a revolution in the world‘s largest Arab country.  What happens next?

But, today, seriously, a new—what happens next?  Our own president said an orderly transition must begin in Egypt now.  He used the word now.  He said that—he said that not long after the man who protesters say they want gone now said that he will go, but he won‘t go quite yet.  He said he will not stand for re-election this fall.

The engine that is driving this previously unimaginable change in the largest Arab country in the world is, of course, protest—mass, popular, leaderless protest.  Hundreds of protesters camped out in Cairo‘s Tahrir Square last night, Liberation Square.  They rose with the sun this morning.  They were soon joined by thousands of others, men and women of all ages, for the planned “March of A Million” against the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

Estimates of just how many ultimately turned out for the march, varied widely.  “The Associated Press” said it was a quarter of a million people.  Al Jazeera said it was 2 million people.

Protesters chanted, “Leave, leave, leave.”  They waved the Egyptian flag.  They hanged effigies of Mr. Mubarak.

The protests lasted all day.  They were only interrupted for moments of prayer.

Do the protests have a religious character?  Is this a so-called Islamist protests?

Reporters on the scene are saying no.  A reporter for Canada‘s “Globe and Mail” today saying that a few protesters shouting “Allahu Akbar,” “God is great” were shouted down in Tahrir Square today by others, that the protesters are maintaining a secular character.

As they had promised, the Egyptian army did not use force against the demonstrators today.  The demonstrators once again, today, reciprocated by giving soldiers flowers.

Elsewhere in Egypt‘s capital city today, stores remain shuttered, banks closed, gas stations shut, foreigners still clogged the main airport in Cairo looking for flights out.

Not everybody was out protesting the government.  These people today here that you see rallied in support of President Mubarak in Cairo today.

In Egypt‘s second largest city, Alexandria, an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets, demanding Mr. Mubarak‘s resignation.  Protesters there, like their fellow demonstrators in Cairo, staying out well past curfew, ignoring that curfew.  They sung the national anthem.  It‘s what you can hear here as they waited for the a promised statement from President Mubarak.

That statement eventually came late into the night.  Mr. Mubarak did not announce that he was stepping down immediately as protesters, of course, had hoped.  But he did say he would not run for re-election in September.  What that means is he said he would forego running at the age of 83 for another six-year term as president.  Then he started speaking of himself in the third person.


PRES. HOSNI MUBARAK, EGYPT (through translator):  Hosni Mubarak who is addressing you today takes pride in the long years he spent serving Egypt and its people.  This dear and beloved homeland is my homeland like as it is the motherland of all Egyptians in which I lived and for which I fought.  I defended its soil, sovereignty and interest.  I will die on the soil of Egypt and I will be judged by history for my merits and demerits.


MADDOW:  The crowds in Cairo and in Alexandria greeted that speech with jeering and booing.  Tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square that late at night shouting “get out” in unison.

Then later in Alexandria, some dramatic and rather scary scenes that were captured live on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They certainly do not seem to be firing any shots.  There are people—OK, OK.  Do you hear the gunfire?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We hear shots being fired.  Who is doing the shooting?  Is that the military?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We had to duck.  We had to duck.


MADDOW:  The shots again from Alexandria carried live on Al Jazeera tonight.  It‘s reported that those shots were the army firing into the air, looking to separate pro-government and anti-government protesters.  We‘ll have more on that later on in tonight‘s show.

Back in the United States, after watching President Mubarak‘s speech and after speaking with him personally, reportedly for half an hour, President Obama made his first public comments about the uprising in Egypt since Friday.  Mr. Obama saying he expects a transition of power in Egypt to start immediately.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt‘s leaders.  Only the Egyptian people can do that.  What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak, is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now.


MADDOW:  It is not yet dawn in Cairo, right now.  It‘s Wednesday in Cairo.  Protesters there now are calling for another day of demonstrations after Friday prayers to demand still that President Mubarak leaves office now.

We‘re going live to Cairo in just a moment.  But I just have one more thing for you to consider from today‘s news.  If president Mubarak‘s speech in both tone and content seemed a little bit familiar to you from something recently in the news, consider this -- 


BEN ALI, FORMER TUNISIA PRESIDENT (through translator):  I have spent more than 50 years of life in the service of Tunisia, serving in different positions from the national army to the different decision-making positions, and 23 years at the presidency.  Every day of my life was and will always be on the service of my country.  I have made countless sacrifices.


MADDOW:  Sounding very much like Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt?  That was Tunisia‘s decades‘ long president speaking to his people on January 13th—that was the night before he fled the country.

Joining us now live from Cairo is NBC News chief foreign correspondent, the fantastically overworked Richard Engel.

Richard, thank you very much for joining us, my friend.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  I love the Ben Ali clip.  I was just talking to people about that tonight.  That was the last major speech the Tunisian president gave.  And he announced the exact same thing that President Mubarak said.

The Tunisian president said, OK, I hear you.  I hear the people.  And I won‘t seek another term, but let me finish my term.

And he then got on a plane, reportedly after his wife had looted the bank and is in Saudi Arabia.

Mubarak hasn‘t done that.  That‘s what the Egyptians would like to see

but not the looting of the bank part.


MADDOW:  Richard, Nicholas Kristof from “The New York Times” just tweeted a few moments ago that in Tahrir Square tonight, he saw what he described as pro-Mubarak forces.  He said almost picking fights with protesters there, trying to stir things up.

Are you seeing anything like that?

ENGEL:  We are hearing lots of that.  I know what he‘s talking about. 

I saw that as well in Tahrir.

And the footage you showed earlier in Alexandria is the same incident.  And we heard reports that the same thing happened in Port Said.  And the protesters are now somewhat more organized than they were a few days ago.  The cell phones are back operating.

And according to the leaders of the protest whom we have spoken to in all three of those cities, they say shortly after Mubarak spoke, gangs, they call them (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) thugs that are supporting Mubarak started throwing bottles, and bricks and heavy, dangerous things on the protesters, attacking them, trying to provoke them into fights so that this movement would go get out of hand.

Now, if it was an organized campaign, that‘s what the protesters claim, or if it was just people who are inspired by the president‘s speech which described in several times the protesters as lawbreakers, as people who were involved in looting.  That‘s hard to know.

But according to witnesses we‘ve spoken to and protesters, that in at least three locations after the president spoke, there were these attacks, provocations on to the protesters.

Now, the protesters are also very paranoid.  I was with the protesters today.  And you get a lot of people together.

If I just had gone out and screamed, that person over there is a policeman, everyone would have attacked him.  They are on edge.  They are nervous.  And you can have mob rule when you are in a mob.

MADDOW:  Richard, one of the things that we‘re going to be talking about I think for most of the rest of the hour is the prospect that Mubarak is essentially laying the groundwork for violence against the protest in the way that he‘s talking about them as lawbreakers, as some sort of criminal mob.  And you‘re describing paranoia among the protest.

Do you think that that protests are discipline enough to resist that kind of provocation and to stay fairly peaceful?

ENGEL:  Not really.  There are too many people on the ground.  There are too many emotions that are running high.  There‘s too much at stake at this stage.

The—I was with—I was at the headquarters of the main protest movement, a fascinating place.  It‘s a little, tiny office.  And a few rooms run by 10 volunteers.

The woman who runs the protests, the woman who is organizing it all on cell phones, a 36-year-old single mother—she was an English teacher at a school—well, you can‘t see it now, but it‘s dark—just across the Nile River, she taught there.  Her daughter was with her in the office.  She was living on coffee and cigarettes.  And she was trying to herd this mob of cats.

They were deciding whether they should go and do the march on Friday to the palace.  Some people decided they were going now.  And she was calling and saying, no, we should wait until we have bigger numbers on Friday.  And other people already started to move.  Moving a million people with bad communications and a lot of them unemployed and excited is not an easy task when trying to do it with, you know, a cell phone.

MADDOW:  What‘s the implication for that if Mubarak does go?  I mean, we played the clip of Ben Ali in Tunisia, essentially to raise that question, even though he‘s saying he‘s staying.  Maybe he‘ll go.

If he leaves, given what you‘re describing about the character of the protest movement, what happens as an interim step?  Does that mean that it‘s definitely the army that steps essentially to become a caretaker government until some kind of elections can be organized?

ENGEL:  Well, if Mubarak were to leave, right, which the protesters want—if Mubarak suddenly boards a plane to go somewhere, the protest movement would be elated.  They would be so excited.  And they would calm down immediately.

A lot of people would accept some sort of caretaker government.  They would even accept Omar Suleiman, most likely, the vice president.  They would accept almost anyone, ElBaradei.  That‘s really not important.

They would have someone in charge to organize this new election.  It would be an open election, if you ask the protesters what they want.  A parliamentary system where people vote and then according to the representative number of seats that the different political parties win.  They form a new government.  That‘s what they would like.  And it could be the military that holds power during a transition period.

But if Mubarak were to go, I don‘t think the country would descend into chaos.  If anything, the situation might get quite a bit calmer in the short term.

MADDOW:  Richard, I know you speak Arabic so you don‘t have to listen to the translations of these like us dummies do.  Given that, how significant do you think it was—

ENGEL:  You are not a dummy.  You made the Ben Ali connection.  I‘ve been dying for someone to make that connection all day.

MADDOW:  But I only made it through the translator.  And you don‘t have to do that.  So, when Mubarak said he wants to die on Egyptian soil, how significant was that language choice by him?

ENGEL:  If you look at the body language, I did listen to the speech in Arabic, as you say, and the tone and the body language was actually aggressive.  He was, on the surface, offering this concession.  He‘s not going to run for another term.

Don‘t forget—most Egyptians were expecting Mubarak to die.  He is not in good health.  He‘s thin.  People thought he wouldn‘t last another year or two.

So, for him to come out and say, well, I‘m not going to run for another six-year term wasn‘t that impressive.  What was much more striking to Egyptians was how he was talking about law and order, how he has to restore the honor of the country, how this movement has gone beyond just asking for legitimate rights and how the country is now in chaos.  And he described this silent majority of Egyptians who aren‘t taking part in the protest who are terrified by everything that‘s going around here.

That was the tone.  And that did signal to a lot of people that perhaps a confrontation could be necessary or could be coming.

And he also repeatedly stressed, “I‘m a man of the military.  I‘m from the military.”  And that is also indication that don‘t think you‘ve got this big divide between the protesters and military and me.  Mubarak was saying, “I am Mr. Military.”

Lastly, you talked about, is it important to say he will die in Egypt?  Very, very important.  The protesters are saying, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).  That is their biggest chant, “go, leave, leave the country.”  And he said no, he‘s going to stay here until he dies.

That means there‘s not much room for compromise.  He‘s playing little striptease almost every single day by offering a little bit more.  He changes government.  He appointed new ministers.

Now, he‘s saying there‘s not that much more I‘m going to give.  I‘m going to stay here.  The protesters don‘t want that.

When you have these two opposing views, it‘s hard to see how they‘re going to find a compromise.

MADDOW:  Every passing day, the story gets bigger and scarier at the one level, and honestly more exciting to cover.  This is important stuff.

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, live in Cairo for us tonight and owed much beauty sleep—thank you very much, sir.  Get to bed.

ENGEL:  Thanks.  Good night.

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot, Richard.  Good night.

More live from Cairo in just a moment.

And later on in the interview tonight, we got New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg here.  Please do stay with us.


MADDOW:  Here was sort of a range of things the Egyptian president could have said.  One extreme: Hey, Egyptians, to you, my American A1M1 Abrams tanks say I don‘t have to go anywhere, I don‘t want to go.  Or you see this plane behind me?  I‘m hopping on it and going to London for a very extended stay, spending more time with my family, blah, blah, blah.  Free and fair elections will be held on this calendar date and standing next to me here is the person who will be the caretaker leader until those elections can be held.

That was the range of possibilities for what could have happened.  What actually happened is that Mubarak said he would not run for re-election in September, said he wasn‘t going anywhere now, and then he issued a warning, that the police, the army and the security services were not leaving the streets.  What that warning means and what it feels like in person—next.



MUBARAK (through translator):  And instruct the police authorities to shoulder its responsibility and undertake its duties to protect and save the citizens in absolute dignity and honor, respecting their rights freedoms and dignity.  I also call and demand the legislative and controlled powers to immediately take the necessary procedures to continue to identify and arrest the outlaws and those who perpetrated the security mayhem and the chaos Egypt has seen—looters, arsonists and those who intimidated the unsuspected citizens.


MADDOW:  Looters, arsonists and those who intimidated the unsuspected citizens.  Mr. Mubarak, president of Egypt, today calling protests essentially a mob of criminals.  That‘s what the state media has been doing as well.  The strategy presumably is to turn people away from the protests by making them afraid of the protest.  Thereby also making them pine for the return of the old, familiar iron fist—as wielded by old Uncle Hosni.

Now, it is one thing to play for propaganda purposes, the threat of violence at the protests.  It‘s another thing all together to foment that violence yourself so you can blame it on the protesters.

The British network ITN reported today that in Alexandria, army uniforms were stolen.  That led to this mind-bending request to the protesters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The army had asked people not to come out today.  They said that they were concerned all the uniforms have been looted.  And they said they were worried that people masquerading as members of the armed forces might then turn on protesters.


MADDOW:  Think about that for a second.  It‘s a request from the army to not protest.  It‘s a request to not protest couched in a threat that people who look like the army might shoot at the protesters.  But if that happens, the army wants the protesters to assume that the people who are shooting at them are not really the army, even though they look like the army.

Yes.  In the end, anti-protesters did take to the streets in Alexandria, along with some of the signs of—the first signs of pro-government protesters.  There was gunfire, a lot of it.  But reporters from the scene say it was the army in fact shooting into the air as a warning to the two pro and anti-government sides to stay apart from one another.

If the pro-government forces want the protests to appear violent, what is to stop them from infiltrating the protests and just becoming violent themselves?

Human Rights Watch has been on the ground and following the situation closely.  They reported today, quote, “Two looters were just caught in Alexandria who had police ID cards and were members of undercover plainclothes force.”

Al Jazeera also reported earlier today, quote, “Looters who were shot by the army and brought to hospitals were carrying police ID cards.”

So, who‘s a protester?  So, who is army?  Who is a police?  And does the extent to which those identities can be made into lies determine whether or not protesters will be safe in the days ahead?

This is the part of the story that it‘s starting to feel like a Jason Bourne movie.

Joining us now is Sharif Abdel Kouddous.  He is a senior producer for “Democracy Now.”  He‘s live in Cairo this evening.

Sharif, thank you for staying up into the middle of the night for us.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, DEMOCRACY NOW:  Thank you for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW:  We are now hearing that Friday will be the next major protest day, after Friday prayers at noon.

What do you expect will happen between tonight and Friday?

KOUDDOUS:  Well, we saw the reaction in Tahrir Square to President Mubarak‘s speech today.  They waved their shoes in the air.  I suspect the majority—it‘s safe to say that the majority of the protesters are not satisfied.

Friday is expected to be a big day of protest, will be gathering for the noon prayer on Friday.  And it brings millions of people into the streets by 1:00 p.m.  They are expecting to march again in a bigger protest, they hope, into Tahrir Square.  And we saw today, one the one week anniversary of the protest, just a flood of people, and ocean of people into Tahrir Square, the likes of what Egypt has never seen under Mubarak.

MADDOW:  Sharif, President Mubarak really tried in his statement tonight to portray the protests as violent and threatening today, essentially describing them as a criminal mob intimidating the Egyptian people.

Do you see that?  Do the protesters see that as an implicit threat to use violence, to use state violence and force to put the protest down when they reconvene?

KOUDDOUS:  Well, there‘s been a substantial amount of evidence to indicate that there was an organized campaign by the state to loot and to sponsor vigilante groups to commit acts of violence.  And it remains to be seen what will happen after that.

But the fact of the matter is, if you go into Tahrir Square, it is like a carnival.  It is like a festival.  They are celebratory and they are victorious.  And there‘s no threat of violence whatsoever.

Right beneath me here, where I‘m standing, is a pro-Mubarak protest that‘s happening right now.  And this is an ominous development that we have to watch carefully.  It‘s just about 200 protesters compared to 250,000 in Tahrir Square.

MADDOW:  In terms of those pro-Mubarak forces, we are hearing some reports tonight, just in the last few hours from Cairo, that pro-Mubarak forces are picking fights, that they are essentially trying to—whether out of attempt to be provocative or whether out of their own feelings and their own frustration are trying to start fights with anti-Mubarak protesters.

Is that what you mean when you say an ominous development?

KOUDDOUS:  Well, yes.  I mean, we‘ve seen this kind of thing before with the (INAUDIBLE) that Richard Engel referred to before—coming in, provoking the protesters and that‘s the issue here.

You know ,I don‘t think they dare go near Tahrir because they‘re so outnumbered.  But the protesters in Tahrir, they remain with one voice and they remain peaceful.

And, you know, it remains to be seen what will happen.  But I think, going forward, the protesters are still speaking with one voice and that‘s the ouster of the regime.  And they‘ll continue to protest peacefully to achieve that.

MADDOW:  Sharif Abdel Kouddous, senior producer with “Democracy Now,” who joined us two nights in a row now—Sharif, thank you very much for sharing your reporting.  Thanks.

KOUDDOUS:  Thank you so much.

MADDOW:  More on what still looks like a revolution ahead, including how it is playing here with the inevitable American opportunists trying to link their own unrelated pet causes to what‘s going on Egypt.  Also, cable TV anchors mistaking really funny people for the same off-the-kookend opportunists in American politics.  People making big mistakes on TV.

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  The bad feeling is getting punked—really bad, in public, at work.  The good feeling is getting punked really badly in public at work by people who are really, really awesome at it.  Stay tuned.  That‘s coming up next.


MADDOW:  The immediate events of the uprising in Egypt are only a week old as of today.  But here is how you can tell the story ripened in American politics.  Here‘s how you can tell it is already bearing ripe fruit. 

It is being used by politicians to promote some of their favorite pet ideas.  People who are real advocates for their chosen policies are typically real opportunists as well. 

So if you have a chosen policy outcome, something you want to happen, then every event you are called to comment on can be turned to a new reason to advocate for that thing that you always want anyway. 

So for example, Republicans tend to really, really, really, really, want tax cuts, right?  In and of themselves, tax cuts have their own Republican reward.  And so if the government, say, has a big budget surplus, that‘s a reason to call for tax cuts. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  A growing surplus exists because taxes are too high and government is charging more than it needs.  The people of America are being overcharged.  And on their behalf, I‘m here asking for a refund. 



MADDOW:  Yes.  George W. Bush arguing in 2001 that because America had a budget surplus, we should therefore have tax cuts.  Now that America has a budget deficit, Republicans say, it‘s also time for tax cuts. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Obviously, you think the deficit is a major problem, don‘t you? 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Was the tax deal, in your opinion, worth the $900 billion added to the deficit?  Was it worth it in your mind? 

BOEHNER:  Washington does not have a revenue problem.  Washington has a spending problem.  I think it‘s worth it.  I think it will create jobs and help our economy. 


MADDOW:  So if you want tax cuts, then X happening in the world is a reason for tax cuts.  Also, if the opposite of X happens in the world, that, too, is a reason for tax cuts.  That‘s how opportunism works.  That‘s opportunism in action. 

Here is how opportunism is working about the Egypt story.  Here is John Bolton, former ambassador to the U.N.  He wants to run for president.  Mr. Bolton reaction to what‘s happening in Egypt is that he thinks it means it‘s time for somebody to bomb Iran. 


JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:  I don‘t think there‘s much time to act.  And I think the fall of an Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost speed that timetable up. 

As of now, I think Israel could do what needed to be done, but I don‘t think they can wait much longer. 


MADDOW:  For the record, there are some other occasions that John Bolton thought that Iran should be bombed.  When there was unrest in Gaza, December 2008, he said that was a good time to bomb Iran. 

When George W. Bush was preparing to leave office, that was a good time to bomb Iran because Mr. Bush hadn‘t gotten around to it yet.  There was also a random Tuesday last February when it was a good time to bomb Iran, because Iran‘s president said something John Bolton didn‘t like. 

And now, Egypt - something is happening in Egypt.  Time to bomb Iran.  The situation in Egypt is also being used right now by the drill baby drill crowd.  “Think Progress” today highlighting a number of Republicans in Congress including Sen. David Vitter who have responded to the protests in Egypt by calling for increased oil drilling in the U.S. of A. 

Other news events that have precipitated a call by the Republicans to drill baby drill.  Well, the sluggish U.S. economy in December 2008 - a reason to drill.  A landslide victory by Republicans in the 2004 elections - also a reason to drill. 

A thoroughly debunked claim China was magically drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba - reason to drill.  Packers are in the Super Bowl - reason to drill?  Somebody‘s got a birthday today - reason to drill? 

For some folks, opportunity is always knocking when it comes to their chosen policies.  But for some folks, opportunism is not about pushing for a specific policy. 

It‘s about choosing every occasion as the right occasion to push for their favorite idea, for their favorite story.  Like, for example, the idea, the story that it‘s the end of the world. 


GLENN BECK, HOST, “THE GLENN BECK SHOW”:  This is the coming insurrection.  It is.  And it is imperative that you get up to speed.  Do your own homework.  This is not about Egypt.  This is about your hometown and your lifestyle. 

It is important to see what is really going on and what this leads to.  I believe, again, the coming insurrection. 


MADDOW:  As opposed to the other times that coming insurrection was upon us.  Now, the people protesting against Hosni Mubarak in Egypt - now, that means that the coming insurrection is upon us because China is going to take over New Zealand.  Also, the Muslim world is all one country now.


BECK:  There are three powers that you will see really emerge.  One, a Muslim caliphate that controls the Mid East and parts of Europe. 

Two, China that will control Asia, the southern part of Africa, part of the Middle East, Australia, maybe New Zealand and God only knows only what else. 

And Russia which will control all of the old former Soviet Union bloc, plus maybe the Netherlands?  Not really sure.  But their strong arm is coming. 


MADDOW:  Oh, poor Amsterdam.  I forgot.  Also at stake, Russia is back.  Russia is going to be like the Soviet Union, but worse. 

For Mr. Beck and for others who see a direct ratio between their own success how afraid they can make their audiences, it turns out that an uprising in Egypt is even better evidence of this being the end of the world than, say, the last evidence we had, which was President Obama passing Wall Street reform last July. 


BECK:  Thomas creating a massive government bureaucracy with the power to watch your bank account and track every credit card account over your shoulder.  Help your economic liberty.  What is wrong with us America?  Why are people not in the streets?  Your republic is over. 


MADDOW:  Wall Street reform.  Your republic is - the mainstream right and Republican congressional leaders are generally sort of supporting what the Obama administration is doing right now in regards to Egypt and diplomacy. 

They are being relatively cautious and diplomatic.  But to the right of them, woohoo!  Within a span of one week, it went from protests on the streets of Egypt to China is going to take over New Zealand. 

It went from protests on the streets of Egypt to Barack Obama supports the secret annihilation of Israel and so do you. 

It went from protests on the streets of Egypt to this was all some secret plot hatched by unions.  And if you are wondering, yes, this is all an elaborate excuse/explanation for us believing that “” was something other than satire yesterday.


(on camera)  They say, quote, “The escalating crisis in Egypt could become a defining moment for Sarah Palin.  Gov. Palin needs to speak out publicly and forcibly for an American-led invasion of Egypt to protect our interest in North America. 

As the largest recipient of foreign next to Israel, the U.S. has a tremendous investment in keeping Egypt stable and relatively terrorist free.  Upon her direction, other western nations are sure to join us.” 

An American-led invasion of North Africa.  To be clear, this is what these folks are asking Sarah Palin to do.  This is not Ms. Palin‘s own idea. 


Yes, those folks asking Sarah Palin to invade North Africa, it turns out, are writers for a satirical Web site called “,” which is really actually very excellent.  Props to them for a brilliant piece of satire.  Shame on us for believing it. 

But in a world where China taking over New Zealand is what passes for real analysis on the situation in Egypt, how do we know that‘s not satire, too? 


BECK:  This is the coming insurrection.  This is what I have been warning about. 



MADDOW:  Enron, tech bubble, housing bubble and the Scorched Earth deregulation of the banking business that led to the economic disaster that befall us all at the end of the Bush administration. 

Turns out there‘s a connection between deregulation and revolution as well.  Ed Schultz tonight on this network has a really important addition to what we know already about Egypt.  Nobody else has been reporting it.  It is highly recommended.  It‘s coming up right after this show at 10:00 p.m.


MADDOW:  To be totally frank with you, it has been hard for us to turn away from events in Egypt this week to stay on top of what‘s going on in American news and American politics as well. 

In fact, I have to tell you we have another live update on what still appears to be a revolution in Egypt, coming up in just a moment including a preview of what is expected for the next potential big round of protests. 

But we are stepping away from that news story for a second because of something confrontational and eye-opening that an American politician has just done on an issue about which everyone says progress is not possible, on an issue about which politics are stopped up like a clogged artery by special interest groups who most Americans disagree with on this issue, but who nevertheless dominate the political process. 

On an issue where the president seems so far reluctant to say or do anything even when the country plainly needs someone to show political leadership on this issue, it turns out it is the mayor of New York City, the mayor of New York City who is refusing to back down on his advocacy on the issue of guns. 

New York City has sent investigators to a Phoenix, Arizona gun show.  They sent those investigators two weeks after the Tucson massacre to document the locally tolerated market for illegal gun sales and for gun sales that are technically legal but astounding nonetheless.  And they got it all on video tape and it is amazing.  Please watch this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you set on this price, man? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  $525 and out the door, no tax, no nothing on this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not a dealer, so you don‘t have to worry about taxes or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, that‘s good.  So you are not one of those, you know, dealer guys, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  No tax, no form, you don‘t have to do transfers or nothing.  Just need to see an Arizona ID and that‘s it with me.   

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes.  So no background checks? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s good because I probably couldn‘t pass one, you know what I mean?  Yes, I like this, man.  You take five for it?  Cash?  Right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You got your ID with you, so I can see your ID? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You need some ID?  I thought you didn‘t do background.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me see it, that‘s all. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, you just need to see it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I just need to show you mind, so we‘re private sellers.  I show you mine, I see yours, and that‘s it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  That‘s how you do it?  OK, done, great. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I don‘t take no forms.  They just have to prove Arizona residency, is all I need. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  How‘s that?  That‘s me.  That‘s Arizona. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s all I need, yes. 


MADDOW:  That‘s what happened when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent a team of undercover investigators to a gun show in Phoenix called “Crossroads of the West.”  That took place 15 days after the Tucson gun massacre. 

And yes, that private seller may have checked the undercover investigator‘s ID for residency.  And yes, he was not required to do a background check. 

But because the buyer told him he probably couldn‘t pass a background check, because he gave the seller reasonable cause to believe that he fell into a prohibited category, that maybe he was under indictment or maybe he was a convict or maybe he was a fugitive from justice or maybe he was an unlawful user of drugs or someone who is addicted to any controlled substance. 

Because the would-be buyer gave the seller cause to believe, overt cause to believe there was something in his background that would keep him from passing a background check, that gun sale was illegal. 

Did they look scared like they were going to get caught?  Yes, it wasn‘t an isolated incident either.  Another seller at that same gun show perfectly willing to accept $450 cash even after the investigator told him that he, too, probably couldn‘t pass a background check. 

Mayor Bloomberg‘s investigators also revealed how easy and legal it is to purchase a gun and high-capacity ammo clips like those used by the Tucson shooter. 

They were purchased at this gun show from private sellers.  It took minutes and a couple of hundred bucks in cash to purchase a Glock 9mm and three high capacity magazines with no background check whatsoever, all perfectly within the law. 

Mayor Bloomberg is kind enough to join us now live in the studio. 

Mayor Bloomberg, thanks very much for your time. 


MADDOW:  The tapes that you released from this latest sting show two different kinds of transactions.  One is legal, where there is no background check done, but the person who‘s doing the buying doesn‘t say, “I don‘t think I could pass it.” 

The other one is illegal because the person says, “I think I couldn‘t pass that background check.”  Those illegal sales, who should have prevented those from happening? 

BLOOMBERG:  Well, the person doing the selling is breaking the federal law.  And the trouble is, Congress has done this.  They do it repeatedly. 

They pass a law showing they‘re tough on the bad guys, and then they don‘t give you the wherewithal to support it.  Congress only appropriated five percent of the money needed, for example, to put all the data of who has mental problems, who is a drug dealer, who is a convicted felon in a database. 

So they can say to both sides, “See, I passed the law that you wanted.”  And they say to the other side, wink, wink, “I kept her from getting the money so she can‘t do anything with it.” 

That happens all the time.  And some of this stuff, the president could fix right away and I urge him to do that.  He could stand up and say to federal agencies that he directs he will send the data to this database and I want you to certify, let‘s say, every six months to me that you are doing that. 

We also have to have some ways to get the states to do it.  The federal law requires the states to do it.  But there are 10 states that have never sent one name in these 20 states that have sent less than 100. 

Think about the tens of thousands of drug addicted people in this country, the people that have mental problems and shouldn‘t be allowed to buy guns, the number of people who have been convicted of crimes.  None of this data gets into this database. 

MADDOW:  In terms of your focus as an advocate on this issue, which in beltway terms, is supposed to be this completely (UNINTELLIGIBLE) issue. 

There can be no progress made on these guns.  You have chosen to

focus on illegal guns, mayors -


MADDOW:  Your mayors against illegal guns. 

BLOOMBERG:  We have a coalition of 500 mayors roughly around the country.  We are focusing on one thing only.  It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.  It is, we want the federal government to enforce the laws that prohibit you to sell guns illegally. 

And when we, for example, in any city in this country, when law enforcement, government seizes a gun after a criminal event, invariably, it is a stolen gun.  Invariably, it is owned by somebody who shouldn‘t own that gun. 

Criminals can commit crime after crime after crime.  We all know the serial - that‘s one of the big problems.  And so once they‘ve done the first and get convicted for it, by definition, if they have a gun, it‘s an illegal gun.  Very few times do you seize a gun after a criminal event that is legal. 

MADDOW:  In terms of your choice of how to advocate on this issue, your choice obviously your priority is crime in New York City and how this redounds to neighboring (UNINTELLIGIBLE) areas.


BLOOMBERG:  Not all, but most of the guns that we seize in New York City come from other states. 

MADDOW:  Right.  Right.

BLOOMBERG:  And we‘re not trying to tell Arizona what their laws should be or Pennsylvania or Virginia where a lot of our guns come from or South Carolina, some even from as far away as Arizona. 

All we‘re saying is, you‘ve got to stop this federal government because no city, no state can do it on their own. 

MADDOW:  Here is my tactical question though.  Because - if you were lobbying to change federal gun laws, if that was your primary focus, then your constituency that you would be lobbying would essentially be Congress. 

But because you are now lobbying, and that because you‘re lobbying mostly on enforcement of existing laws, that means your constituency is the executive branch, is the administration that can control how these things are enforced, is it not? 

BLOOMBERG:  Well, that‘s partially true, but remember, Congress has to appropriate moneys for these agencies to do what the law says they have to do. 

MADDOW:  Right. 

BLOOMBERG:  And that‘s the same thing of having it both ways.  So yes, I think the president should stand up and I will keep urging him to do so.  I thought he missed an opportunity in the State of the Nation message. 

And he should have gone out and said we should do this.  But I‘ve been told by his staff that he is going to give a speech on guns and I look forward to that.  I think it is one of these issues that he can build a legacy on. 

This country has got to stop all this carnage.  Our kids are getting killed.  Our cops are getting killed.  Innocent people just walking down the street are getting killed. 

You know, we brought crime down in New York so low that it is dramatically safer than almost any other big city in the country. 

On the other hand, we can‘t stop the guns that get brought across the border from other states.  That‘s up to the federal government.  In fact, Route 95, which goes from here down through Pennsylvania all the way straight down the coastline, is called the iron pipeline because of all of these guns.  People go buy them in a store, put them in the trunk their car, and just drive up. 

MADDOW:  Are you and the mayors and law enforcement a potential counterweight in D.C.?  Or function already as a counterweight to the NRA?  Do you see yourself that way?

BLOOMBERG:  Well, you know, in Washington, they think of guns as toxic.  But if you do the polling, the public thinks of them as fatal. 

MADDOW:  That‘s exactly right. 

BLOOMBERG:  And if you do polling of NRA members and gun owners, 80 plus percent think that reasonable gun restrictions are appropriate.  The Supreme Court has ruled on this and said reasonable gun restrictions are appropriate. 

And so nobody is saying you can‘t buy a gun.  Nobody is saying you can‘t shoot the gun.  But you can‘t, if you‘re a criminal or a minor or a drug user or mentally ill, buy a gun.  That‘s federal law. 

And if we just enforce those laws and if we got rid of a few places where we could catch people that are breaking the law, for example, going at gun shows.  Gun shows are a loophole Congress should enact another law to close. 

You would take care of most of those, 34 a day.  It would be dramatically lower.  And then, I think the NRA is on the wrong side of this.  One of these days, the public is going to say enough. 

And then they‘re going to put in gun restrictions that the NRA might not like.  This is hardly something the NRA should be against.  How can they argue that criminals should continue to buy guns? 

That‘s just making the world more dangerous.  And then, they say, of course it‘s dangerous.  Everybody should be armed to prevent that. 

You know, if you have a gun at home, Rachel, you are 22 times as likely to die from a bullet than if you don‘t have a gun at home.  The bottom line is, let‘s make our city safe.  We‘ve done that in New York. 

It‘s a constant battle.  We‘re going to keep doing it.  But I think the president and Congress have to get together and stand up and say enough. 

We‘ve got to have some sensible things to just keep illegal guns out of the hands of people who should not own them and particularly after you saw what happened in Tucson. 

Once again, people talked about, we have to be more civil to each other.  I didn‘t hear a lot of talk about, let‘s get the guns.  This guy, who did the shooting, allegedly did the shooting, because he hadn‘t been convicted yet, has a 33-bullet magazine. 

The only reason you need that is if you want to go kill people. 

You don‘t use that.  If you‘re a sportsman, you don‘t need 33 bullets. 

MADDOW:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the world‘s worst sportsman. 

BLOOMBERG:  You‘re not a sportsman if that‘s the kind of thing you have to have.  That is just killing, not sport.  But this is a guy who the Army knew had a problem.  The Army rejected him and said, “You can never in your life join the Army.”  But they didn‘t tell the FBI. 

MADDOW:  And they should have. 

BLOOMBERG:  The federal law says they should have. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

BLOOMBERG:  And they both work for the president.  The president should sit back, call them both and then say, start talking. 

And if you remember that massacre at Fort Hood, and that case was exactly reverse.  The FBI knew the guy had a problem, but didn‘t tell the Army.  After 9/11, we always talk about - I love the phrase - connect the dots. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

BLOOMBERG:  Well, these dots are pretty big.  This isn‘t hard to do. 

MADDOW:  Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, redefining the art of the possible on this issue. 

BLOOMBERG:  It happens. 

MADDOW:  And I think you‘re way out ahead of Congress on this, sir. 

Thank you for your leadership. 

BLOOMBERG:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Nice meeting now.  We‘ll be right back with a late live update on the situation in Egypt.  Stay with us.



BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  An orderly transition must be meaningful.  It must be peaceful, and it must begin now. 


MADDOW:  President Obama tonight making his strongest statement yet on the uprising in Egypt, saying the transition from the Mubarak era needs to start now. 

Mr. Mubarak himself said tonight he will not run for re-election, but he won‘t step down either.  His speech greeted by chants of “get out” from Egyptian protesters still out and defying curfew tonight in Cairo and Alexandria. 

Protestors planning another big demonstration after midday prayers this Friday.  Live reports from Cairo even this hour from NBC‘s Richard Engel describing a protest movement that is fantastically grassroots, which is cool but which also can mean indiscipline and paranoia.  More relevant than ever tonight in light of both reporting and conspiracy theorizing that provocateurs and pro-government forces may be out the streets and out for blood.  We will stay with the story. 

Now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW.”  Good night.



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