'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, April 4th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 4, 2013
Guests: Julie Burkhart, Joe Cirincione
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. I think the whole idea of
patty cake with all the guests before the segment starts --
HAYES: I made a little note to myself.
MADDOW: Note to self patty cake.
MADDOW: That will make any sense at all tomorrow when you look it in
the morning and --
MADDOW: Thanks, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
In Hartford, Connecticut today, it happened. It was a long time
coming and in the most important way, it was too late but it did finally
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: This is a profoundly emotional
day, I think for everyone in this room and everyone watching what is
transpiring today in the state of Connecticut. We have come together in a
way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability
In some senses, I hope that this is an example to the rest of the
nation. Certainly, to our leaders in Washington, who seem so deeply
divided about an issue such as universal background checks, where the
country is not divided itself. When 92 percent of Americans agree that
every gun sale should be subject to a background check, there is no excuse
for representatives or senators who don`t come to the assistance of those
they are elected to represent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy this afternoon signing into
law gun reforms for the state of Connecticut, restrictions on extended
capacity magazines and assault weapons, tougher restrictions on criminals
and the mentally ill having access to guns, background for all purchases,
backgrounds checks for buying bullets -- Governor Malloy, as you can see
here, is in green.
The green tie and green ribbon on his lapel there, that`s because
green was the school spirit color for Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sandy
Hook, which saw 20 of its first graders slaughtered on December 14th, using
weaponry that was purchased legally before that massacre, but that will not
be legal for sale in Connecticut once today`s new law goes into effect.
Among the people who are looking over the governor`s shoulder today
and receiving the pens with which he signed the new law were parents of 6
and 7 year-olds who were killed at Sandy Hook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE HOCKLEY, SON SLAIN IN SANDY HOOK MASSACRE: This is a path I
never thought my life would take, but working to save the lives of others
is one of the ways that I am honoring Dylan`s life. Sandy Hook Promise has
given many of us a way to convey our views to our state`s leaders with love
and logic, and you have received us with love and respect, without
partisanship. More important, you have listened.
My son, Jake, every child in Connecticut, will be safer because of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed at Sandy
Hook December 14th.
Another 6-year-old killed that day would have turned 7 years old
today. Her name was Ana Marquez-Greene. And today was her seventh
birthday. It would have been. On her birthday today, her parents wrote an
op-ed in "USA Today" about their soulful cheerful daughter who loved to
sing and about the need for gun reform.
There was a moment of silence for Ana Marquez-Greene in the busiest
place on Earth, right in the middle of Time Square. The state
assemblywoman who represents Newtown, Connecticut, in the legislature did
not go to sign the bill today for this reform legislation that she
supported in part so she could take part in this, in marking Ana Marquez-
Greene`s birthday today.
But this did get done today. And Connecticut Democrats did not do
this on their own, even though numerically they could have done this on
their own, since Democrats dominated both houses of the legislature and
they have the governorship in Dan Malloy. Democrats in Connecticut could
have done this alone, but they chose instead to work with the minority
Republicans to come up with something that could get bipartisan support
even though it didn`t have to happen that way. But it did get bipartisan
support. It got overwhelming votes in both the house and Senate in
Connecticut with Republicans and Democrats both voting for it not
unanimously, but substantially in both houses.
And, today, it is not just Connecticut, it is also Maryland --
Maryland, where Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley`s package of gun
reforms originally passed the Senate back in February and then passed the
House yesterday, the vote was 78-61. The package had to bounce back to the
Senate today to iron out the differences between the two versions, but it
passed there again tonight, 28-19, and this package of gun reforms in
Maryland is it`s on its way to Governor O`Malley`s desk right now and we
know that he will sign it.
Now, interestingly, in Maryland, there`s a really low threshold for
what it takes to submit a new law to the voters, to give voters in a ballot
measure a chance to thumbs up or thumbs down a new law. Because of that,
almost every thinks that once Governor O`Malley signs the bill in Maryland,
it will actually be put on hold for more than a year so it can be voted on
in the general election next November.
Now, in terms of that referendum in the state, all the policy in this
bill is very popular. Background check, assault weapons bans, a limit on
high capacity magazines, blocking mentally ill people from access to
weapons, these are the kinds of measures that tend to poll very well among
the general public, no matter how loud the threatening uproar is from the
minorities who disagree, who don`t want any gun laws at all.
So, we will have to see if the Maryland reforms stand up in referendum
when they inevitably get there next November. But the reform package
passed today that will end up on the ballot, that package does consist of
popular stuff. This is the democratic process playing out on this issue,
The legislature makes a decision. The governor makes a decision, and
in Maryland at least, the people can then try for a citizen veto if they
want to try for that. That is the democratic process.
But one Maryland legislator has decided instead to try to go a
"The Maryland Gazette" reporting today that while the Maryland House
was debating the gun bill, a Republican state legislator named Don Dwyer
was on his Facebook page calling for Maryland to form a militia. Quote,
"Dear Maryland patriots, I was certain the time would come when there was a
need to organize the voluntary militia. That time has come."
An hour later, Representative Dwyer posted another update. Quote, "Do
not post on Facebook your response to my call for the militia." There`s a
I think he means this is a public forum and it is monitored. I do not
want you raided. Please be wise. E-mail me. Do not post here. You have
Maryland Republican State Delegate Don Dwyer, he says he is not
calling for an insurrection, but then there is this. Today, he renamed the
militia that he`s calling for to quote, "the voluntary militia is being
renamed the constitutional defense force. This is for reasons I will
disclose in the next e-mail update."
Seriously, this is a duly elected, sworn member of the Maryland
general assembly, starting his own constitutional defense force so named
for the reason that he would rather not tell you in a public forum and for
which your interest expressed in a public forum might get you raided. You
have been warned.
You know, this kind of thing happens in our politics, in our country,
and it`s not just on the issue of guns. Last year, after the Supreme Court
ruled that health reform was constitutional, you might remember the former
spokesman for the Republican Party of Michigan sent an email to the media
and to activists on his side with this headline, quote, "Is armed rebellion
America itself was possible only after its people summon the will to
risk their lives and their futures, as well as those of their children for
a freedom they did not enjoy but knew was their gift from God. Along with
their desire to be free came their willingness to engage in armed rebellion
for their freedom. Good willing, this oppression will be lifted and
America will be free again before the first shot is fired."
Now, like the guy in Maryland, the Republican in Michigan said he was
not calling for armed rebellion. But hey, he says, quote, "There are times
government has to do things to get what it wants and holds a gun to your
head. I`m saying at some point, we have to ask the question, when do we
turn that gun around and say no and resist?"
Just asking the question, right? Just an ordinary guy asking the
question when do we turn the guns on the government, because we don`t like
that the Supreme Court said some new health insurance regulations were
There is a violent current that runs alongside our democratic process
in this country. Today, on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of
Martin Luther King, we think of this in particular. But it`s not high --
only high profile assassinations like that. We know this current exists.
We know it is there, know it is not a myth in our country -- which is why
it is unnerving when people like state legislatures and state party
spokesmen show a willingness to dip into that current.
It is a current of non-metaphorical actual violence where people turn
to physical force and intimidation, violence and threat, violence and
threat and occasionally assassination to get their political way when they
cannot get it through democratic means in America.
In Wichita, Kansas, the violent radical fringe of the anti-abortion
movement could not stop Dr. George Tiller from offering women
constitutionally protected abortion services in Kansas. They could not
stop him by democratic means.
And so, in 1986, they bombed him, they bombed his clinic. The next
day after the bombing, Dr. Tiller moved his practice to a new and secret
location and decided he would keep going.
In 1993, a woman walked up to the same Dr. Tiller while sitting in his
car in the parking lot and shot him in both of his arms. Dr. Tiller
survived that attack as well and he returned to work the next day. Our
democratic process says women have the right to the care that he provided
and he had the courage to keep going, to keep providing it.
But the other side, the side that could not get its way in the
democratic constitutional process, they decided to get their way through
violence instead. In 2009, an anti-abortion activist succeeded in what his
colleagues had tried before and Dr. George Tiller was shot dead inside his
church during Sunday services. And because of that, Dr. Tiller`s clinic,
the only one in that part of the state closed.
In the four years since, the woman who used to work for Dr. Tiller
started a foundation and raised money to buy the old clinic building.
Julie Burkhart bought it from Dr. Tiller`s widow last year so she could
open up a clinic on the same site with the full range of medical services
for women, including abortions.
Since the news got out, Julie Burkhart tells the local press that she
has been stalked. A flyer with her name and address has been distributed
in the neighborhood where she lives. She`s had protesters outside her
home. Not long ago, a pastor put a sign in her yard that read, quote,
"Where is your church?" Because, of course, we all remember what happened
in that other church to Dr. Tiller.
The memory of violence and the threat of more violence have not faded
in Wichita. There is a trial under way right now for death threats against
the doctor who tried before Julie Burkhart to restart the practice. This
week, an anti-abortion activist group who`s phone number was found on a
post-it note on a gunman`s dashboard when he was pulled over after killing
George Tiller, that activist group posted the photo and name and personal
information about a doctor who they believe will work at the reopened
clinic in Wichita. They gleefully posted audio online of her explaining to
them over the phone why it was important for that information not to be
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DOCTOR: I had been hoping to keep my name off of the record of crazy
people with guns, if you know what I mean.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: With the news that the clinic is re-opening this week, anti-
abortion activists have not only posted that online with all the details
who that doctor is, they`ve also posted online tape of the man who murdered
Dr. Tiller, making death threats from jail now against Julie Burkhart by
name. That killer recorded on the phone from his jail cell saying things
like, "it`s almost like putting a target on your back. It`s almost like
putting a target on your back to reopen that clinic."
And he said, "It`s a little bit death-defying, you know, for somebody
to walk back in there."
That current of violence running alongside our democratic process,
that current of violence makes that killer see the question as one of
defying death, defying the rule of the gun which he has chosen to enforce.
But honestly what is really being defied here is violence -- violence
as a means of getting your way in this country. We do not decide things in
this country based on violence. You don`t get your way through violence if
you can`t get it through the democratic process. And we have people in
this country who are brave enough to say, I will make sure that we are not
going to let violence win.
Joining us now is Julie Burkhart. She`s administrator of the brand
newly opened South Wind Women`s Center of Wichita, Kansas. Ms. Burkhart,
as you can see, is joined here by fellow staffers at the South Wind Women`s
It`s very good to have you all here with us tonight.
Julie, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.
JULIE BURKHART, SOUTH WIND WOMEN`S CENTER: Thank you very much for
having us on.
MADDOW: First of all, I have to ask you how it`s going this week? I
understand you guys just opened yesterday. I imagine things are a little
BURKHART: Yes. We are working tirelessly here. We`re very busy.
We`ve been scheduling appointments and trying to put the finishing touches
on the business. We`re just very, very excited at this time.
MADDOW: And, you know, we have talked before and I followed your
progress as the founding director of the Trust Women Foundation and what
you have I tried to do to reopen this clinic all along. And the story of
everything that you do happens in the shadow of these threats against you
and about the circumstances under which Dr. Tiller was killed.
I just have to ask you overall how you feel like the community is
responding to the opening of the clinic. I mean, are you -- is that the
dominant force that you`re dealing with or are you also getting support?
BURKHART: We are getting support, from going to the post office, to
the grocery store, to the bank. You know, people in this community are
coming forward and giving us their support. Over the last few days, we`ve
had a lot of phone calls into our office from people in the community.
So, overall, we have, I feel, vast community support. We just have
those loud and noisy extremists people seem to hear from the most.
MADDOW: Have you learned anything that might be helpful to the rest
of the country, in terms of how to deal with those loud and noisy
extremists? I mean, obviously, I have mixed feelings about -- I have mixed
feelings about conveying what it is that they are doing and saying because
I don`t want to be a megaphone for what they`re doing. At the same time, I
don`t want to ignore the dangerousness of what it is that they`re doing.
Have you learned anything through this process what you feel like is
the right way to deal with people who are trying to get their way by force?
BURKHART: Well, I think our approach has been solutions to the
problems and for every problem that they -- and obstacle that they put into
our way, we take a good hard look at that and we know that there`s a
solution to that problem. We just keep, you know, running over those
You know, sometimes it feels a little exhausting, but, you know, at
the end of the day, we know that if we keep, you know, putting solutions to
those problems they try to put before us, that we will prevail.
MADDOW: You obviously have a special kind of courage to do this, in
the face of the environment that you`re operating in. Not just the local
community but the way that Dr. Tiller was singled out for so many years by
the extremist elements in the anti-abortion movement and, of course, the
way he died.
In terms of other people who are wondering about other kinds of
political courage, are there things that you feel like sort of taking this
brave stand, are there things that would materially support what you`re
doing and make it so more people can take brave stances in the face of
threats of violence?
BURKHART: Well, I think that, you know -- this is a matter of
principle. You know, I`m from this part of the country, you know, some of
my staff members you see here, they`re from this part of the country. And,
you know, this is a matter of principle and this is a matter of what is
right. And this is a matter of justice.
And, you know, all women in America deserve to have reproductive
freedom. And that is what we`re here to do, is to do our small part to
help to forward reproductive freedom and justice for women.
MADDOW: Julie Burkhart, administrator of the South Wind Women`s
Center of Wichita, Kansas, founder and director of the Trust Women
Foundation -- I want to thank you for being there, tonight, particularly
with all your staff for us and good luck in opening week. Appreciate you
BURKHART: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Now that Republicans have gained total legislative control in the
state of North Carolina, they are celebrating by proposing the nuttiest
voter suppression scheme I have ever heard of. That`s coming up next.
And later on this hour, getting rid of the scariest thing in the world
one piece at a time. A true blue good news story.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 2008, the night before the presidential election,
candidate Barack Obama decided to hold his final rally of the entire `08
campaign, his last campaign stop before Election Day in what state? North
Carolina, specifically Charlotte, North Carolina.
Senator Obama addressed a screaming crowd of 25,000 people in
Charlotte that night. But where he was even more specifically than just
being in Charlotte is that he was at the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte, because then candidate Barack Obama knew if he was going to win
North Carolina the next day, part of what he was going to do, part of what
he was going to need in order to do it was the college vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know this, North
Carolina, the time for change has come. We`ve got a righteous wind at our
backs. If in these final hours you will knock on some doors with me, make
some calls for me. If you will stand with me, if you`ll fight by my side,
if you`ll cast your ballot for me, then I promise you this, we will not
just win North Carolina, we will win this general election, you and I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, the next day, Barack Obama did win North Carolina by
the slimmest of margins. He won the state by a little more than 14,000
The thing that helped power him to victory there, the thing that was
different in North Carolina in `08 as compared to the previous election was
in fact the youth vote. Youth turned out. College kids turned out.
In `08, youth turnout in North Carolina was up 10 percent from the
previous election in 2004. And that youth vote did not just help power
Barack Obama to victory in that one state, it also gave that one state a
Democratic governor, Bev Purdue, who like the president won of the slimmest
of margins. 2008 against the odds was a blue year in North Carolina.
But in 2012 this past election cycle, Republicans succeed in taking it
all back. The Republicans in North Carolina won back the governor`s
mansion and they now not only control both the House and Senate, they have
big enough majorities in both houses to overturn any gubernatorial veto
should there be one even though there probably won`t be one because the
governor is a Republican now, too. Republicans now have a total lock on
power in North Carolina. They can govern at will.
What they have decided to do with that power thus far is something
political scientists have a term for. The term is amazeballs.
That whole youth vote thing that carried President Obama to victory
back in 2008, Republicans have decided to put a stop to that. North
Carolina Republicans introduced a bill in the state Senate this week to
curb the college vote in North Carolina, to lower college turnout. The way
they`ve decided to go about doing this is as creative as it is stomach
churning, because the problem with trying to stop college kids from voting
at the place they go to school is that you can`t stop them from doing that.
Officially and specifically, you cannot stop students from doing that.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1979 in no uncertain terms college kids
have the right to register and to vote where they go to school. It`s very
clear constitutional law. Well, to get around that very clear
constitutional law, to get around the Supreme Court protecting students`
voting rights, what North Carolina Republicans are trying to do now
essentially is not to block students` voting rights directly, but rather,
they`re going to require students` families to pay money, to experience a
targeted tax hike if their college student chooses to exercise his or her
right to vote. Seriously.
Under this Republican bill, if a college student in North Carolina
registers to vote at their college address, instead of at their home
address, their parents will get hit with a tax hike, a brand new tax hike
from the state of North Carolina. So, if you are a college kid in North
Carolina, there`s a voter registration drive on campus, you decide to
register, the consequence of that would be that your family will be
punished by having to pay more in taxes.
How`s that for encouraging voter participation? Tax hikes, isn`t it
the one thing that`s supposed to unite the Republican Party now?
Yes, but if this tax hike is just to make sure that college kids won`t
vote, well, that`s a tax hike we can get behind.
And this isn`t just some lone wing nut senator sponsoring a go nowhere
bill. Beyond the main sponsor, there are four other Republican state
senators who have signed on to this thing, including one from the
Republican Senate leadership.
And beyond just the college students, they are really going for it in
North Carolina. See, Democrats in North Carolina use early voting way more
than Republicans do. So, now, Republicans want to cut early voting nearly
in half, they want to stop early voting all together on nights and
Republicans are proposing reducing the number of early voting
locations in each county to one location, one location only per county.
That should slow things down nicely.
Democrats in North Carolina also use same day registration more than
Republicans do, so the Republicans are proposing just getting rid of that
Republicans are in control right now in North Carolina and they are
really, really going for it.
Earlier this year, another state made a similar try at going after
college students. Republicans tried that earlier this year in the great
state of Indiana. But that bill in Indiana ultimately got pulled from
consideration after it went through a thorough round of public shaming.
So far, North Carolina, though, maybe it just hasn`t gotten enough
attention but Republicans appear thoroughly unashamed. They are charging
full-speed ahead on this and they have veto-proof majorities with which to
get it done.
What`s happening in North Carolina has not received a lot of national
attention, at least yet. But do yourself a favor, go set yourself a Google
news alert for North Carolina Republicans. They have completely unchecked
power right now. And their ideas how to use that power, as the political
scientists say, rather amazeballs.
We`re going to have more on the unhinging of Republican politics in
North Carolina on tomorrow`s show. But we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: On December 4th of last year, former Senate Majority Leader
Bob Dole paid a rare visit to Capitol Hill. The Former presidential
candidate, former majority leader in the Senate, disabled war hero,
household name, Bob Dole himself, he went to Capitol Hill in person, in
December, to be an eyewitness to every senator`s vote on the ratification
of the U.N. convention on the rights of people with disabilities.
Senate ratification of this thing probably should have been a slam-
dunk. It was expected to be when they started getting around to it in the
first place. The treaty after all was modeled after our own Americans with
Disability Act. The idea was to take that advance that we pioneered in
this country in our own law and hold it up as an aspirational model for the
rest of the world.
Since we already have the American with Disabilities Act in our
country, the policy impact here of signing this convention would
essentially be nil, but this was a statement of American leadership. This
was a feel good thing for us that would make a real difference around the
world in terms of people with disabilities being treated with dignity.
This was kind of a slam dunk, you`d think.
But then the current crop of Republicans occupying Bob Dole`s old
territory in the Senate decided that what this treaty actually was, was a
communist conspiracy to destroy parenting. They said it was a Pandora`s
box, a U.N. takeover of the basic unit of the family, a conspiracy for one
And lo and behold, Senate Republicans junked the treaty. So the world
endorses the principles of our own law, our own Americans with Disabilities
Act, and our Republicans denounce that world endorsement as Satanism or
If you are wondering where this nonsense ends, I do not have an answer
for you. But I do know where the next stop is on this particular crazy
train. That`s coming up. All aboard.
MADDOW: Four years ago tomorrow, President Obama delivered one of the
first big deal speeches of his young presidency, Prague. The American
right got so upset with how adoring the crowd was for him in the Czech
Republican that day that they almost forgot to get upset with the ambitions
that he laid out in the speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, I am announcing a new international effort to secure
all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We
will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new
partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was four years ago tomorrow, President Obama said the
United States would complete this mission by, well, now, by 2013.
So how`s that going? The goal again is to get all of the vulnerable
nuclear material around the world locked up by the end of this year,
apparently, by the end of 2013, which means there`s about nine months to
Toward that end, we have something to report tonight. Exclusively,
tonight, we can report on this show the country where President Obama gave
that speech four years ago, the Czech Republic, that country is the latest
nation on Earth to have completely cleaned out or locked down all of its
loose nuclear material.
We can report tonight for the first time anywhere that secretly, in
late March under an incredible amount of security, the United States
National Nuclear Security Administration packed up the last of the highly
enriched uranium that was yet to be locked down in the Czech Republic. The
last removal was 150 pounds of highly enriched uranium which they say is
about enough material to make two nuclear weapons.
On Friday March 22nd, the nuclear material was packed up in trucks.
You can see the trucks here. This is at an indoor facility that they built
in secret specifically for this operation to get the material out of the
The International Atomic Energy Agency seals were placed on the
containers to prevent any tampering with them. A secure and armed convoy
of trucks carrying the casks of uranium went to a train station where they
sat under armed guard until 1:00 so that under cover of darkness, they
could be headed to a train and shipyard.
The material was taken from a shipyard and loaded on a ship and then,
finally, on April 1st, happy birthday, the highly enriched uranium arrived
in Russia, where it was sent to a down blending facility there so that the
material could be turned into something bad guys could not use for a bomb.
This was the fifth and final removal of nuclear material from the
Czech Republic. In total, the United States cleared out four nuclear bombs
worth of highly enriched uranium and some plutonium as well. The Czech
Republic is the 11th country that the NNSA has cleared out of its loose
nuclear materials since the president spoke in Prague four years ago. The
last three countries still to go are Uzbekistan and Hungary and Vietnam.
We`ve already some of the biggest caches from places like Kazakhstan,
some of the closest caches from places like Mexico. Some of the spookiest
caches from places like Chile, where there was a big earthquake that hit in
the middle of the operation to move the nuclear material. Oh, no.
Our government does this super secret spy work to get rid of loose
nuclear material all over the world. The idea is stop the threat of
nuclear terrorism, to eliminate the possibility of a terrorist group
stealing highly enriched uranium or stealing plutonium, stealing nuclear
material in order to make a weapon.
With this latest completion in the Czech Republic, the NNSA says they
will meet the president`s goal of clearing out all of the world`s loose
nuclear material by the end of the year, which is what he promised. Whoo-
Joining us now for a reality check on how positive our nuclear feeling
should be about all of this right now is our nation`s most plainspoken
expert on this stuff, Joe Cirincione, member of the Council on Foreign
Relations and president of the Ploughshares Fund, which is a global
commission that is aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons.
Joe, thank you so much for being here.
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you know my reaction. You heard it with the woo-hoo. Am
I being naive with this news that the material has been removed from the
Czech Republic and we are actually going to get this four-year plan done in
CIRINCIONE: I don`t know if we`re going to get it in four years. But
we`re well on our way and the president deserves high marks for building
the international cooperation that allows you do an operation like this.
Even something like this requires three nations, including the cooperation
So, this is probably the area of the president`s nuclear agenda he
made the most progress.
MADDOW: One of the godfathers of this whole idea, this whole program
that the United States should take the lead and work with Russia to lock up
loose nukes around the world is, of course, former Senator Sam Nunn.
MADDOW: And he just released, just shared a new report that says,
what we have to do next right now is pear down nuclear weapons, saying
there`s too many missiles in stock in the cold are really do launch system
that we don`t anymore. Wouldn`t be modernizing them and pruning them back
Do you think President Obama is going do that?
CIRINCIONE: I don`t know. The president deserves and a plus for his
vision, his drive, his commitment to this goal. But the whole enterprise
frankly is on the verge of an embarrassing collapse. Very little aside
from the work you just cited has been done over the last two years to
advance the rest of the agenda, to reduce the role and numbers of nuclear
weapons in the world, to get U.S. nuclear policy and posture out of its
Cold War framework.
That`s why you see Sam Nunn and Des Brown and other diplomats joining
and saying, now is the time, it`s running out. You built the foundation,
you have to erect the house. You have to get the other countries in the
world involved and you have to motivate your own staff which often is
dragging their feet and shaking their heads about the president`s agenda,
get your own staff to get behind this and push this through over the next
four years, this is your chance to fundamentally make the security of the
United States and the world improved.
MADDOW: When the president did get the Senate to sign off on reducing
the number of nuclear weapons in the last START Treaty, the thing he traded
Senate Republicans in exchange for them signing on to that was tons and
tons and tons of money to modernize our nuclear weapons infrastructure.
I wonder with the whole sequester nightmare and the way that played
out over defense spending in particular if maybe Republicans might soften
up on that and decide that they don`t want to spend billions on that
modernization process for something people think we will never use.
Did that change at all?
CIRINCIONE: You see a split in the Republican ranks between defense
hawks pushing for more nuclear spending, more nuclear weapons and the
defense hawks who actually are OK with the defense budget coming down and
are looking for savings.
And this is the critical time over though this term of President
Obama, the next two to three years, we`re going to make decisions on new
contracts, whether we`re going to replace the entire generation of missiles
and bombers and submarines at a cost of at least half a trillion, about
$500 billion to replace this. That`s something that many deficit hawks
aren`t going to want to be part of.
But the president so far has not slowed down any of these contracts.
He hasn`t revamped the U.S. nuclear posture. He hasn`t told the military
what we need these nuclear weapons for. The next few months will be the
telling moment on whether the president`s agenda succeeds or fails.
MADDOW: Joe, on this subject, broadly, the nuclear thing that
everybody is freaked-out about right now is, of course, North Korea
threatening nuclear war and threatening just war on both South Korea and on
us and whoever else they can get in their sights.
North Korean bluster is hard to tell from North Korean crazy. But on
the nuclear side of this specifically, do you feel like there`s reason to
CIRINCIONE: No. This is fundamentally not a nuclear threat from
North Korea, certainly not for the United States, for North America, for
Europe. They don`t have long-range missiles that can reach us. They don`t
have warheads that can fit and survive a launch from any of these missiles.
It is fundamentally a conventional situation. You worry that with
tensions on the peninsula building, you might get an incident, a trigger
that could result in exchange of fire that get escalated into war that
neither side truly wants.
MADDOW: Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, member of
the Council on Foreign Relations, Joe, it is always very both reassuring
and also a little spooky to have you here because of the stuff we talk
about. But thank you for being here.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. Iran, Syria, North Korea and Rand Paul walk into bar. How
does this joke end? That`s straight ahead.
MADDOW: Since the bodies of the Kaufman County district attorney,
Mike McLelland and his wife were discovered in Texas almost one week ago,
only one specific person as a potential possible person of interest has
surfaced in connection to those murders, only one person that we`ve heard
about in connection to the investigation, and it`s this man. He`s a former
justice of peace in Kaufman County, an ex-police officer from Texas. He
was described in news reports as essentially, potentially a former -- a
disgruntled former employee.
He`s a former justice of the peace. He was caught stealing public
property. He lost his job because of that. He ended up getting prosecuted
by one of the murdered county prosecutors.
So, could this have been a disgruntled former public employee going
back to get revenge?
Well, the day after "The L.A. Times" identified him as a possible
person of interest in the case, he came forward to say that he had met with
police already, he`d given them access to his cell phone, he`d let them do
a gun powder residue swab of his hands, he said he was cooperating with law
enforcement entirely and that it was not him.
And that guy so far has been the only remotely cogent line of inquiry
publicly floated about the Kaufman County prosecutor murders other than, of
course, the prison gangs, the white supremacist prison gang cases
prosecuted by the Kaufman County district attorneys office.
That speculation that a racist prison gang known as the Aryan
Brotherhood of Texas might be involved in the murders, that has had
everybody wondering if the Kaufman County prosecutor murders might be
conceivably be connected to another horrible murder, the killing last month
of another prominent law enforcement official, this Colorado, the prisons
chief, Tom Clements. The suspect in his killing was known to have a white
supremacist prison gang affiliation of his own. And that suspect was
driving through Texas after the Tom Clements murder when he was killed in a
shootout with police.
So we`ve got three murders, we`ve got questions in all cases about
white supremacist prison gangs. We still do not have any reason to know if
the Tom Clements murder is connected to the Kaufman County prosecutor`s
But we know this: authorities in Colorado now say they are looking for
these two guys. They say they are looking for these two other men in
connection to the murder of the Colorado prison`s chief, Tom Clements.
Now, investigators have not said what role these two men might have played
in the killing, if any, or why they are being sought. But they have said
they believe these two men had contact with the suspect in the Tom Clements
case before he was killed in Texas. They say also those two guys are
associated with the same racist prison gang, the 211s.
In less than three months, three law enforcement officials gunned
down, two of them from the same prosecutors office in the same small Texas
county. Nobody knows if these three killings are linked. One suspect has
been caught in the Colorado case, but largely because he is dead. Nobody
knows why he did what he did or whether he worked with anybody else to do
There are new details being ferreted out in these cases every day,
though. Watch this space.
MADDOW: Lizard people! Lizard person, to be more accurate.
The percentage of Americans who believe lizard people control our
societies by gaining political power is 4 percent. Nice work, America. I
mean, still, more than 1 million Americans who believe it, but
statistically speaking, this is one conspiracy theory too far for us as a
nation. An overwhelming majority of Americans do not believe that lizard
people really control our society. Few.
We know that, thanks to a poll question from Public Policy Polling.
PPP does real polling. They correctly predicted the outcome in all 50
states in this past presidential election, for example.
But from time to time, PPP does polls that really honestly have to be
designed just to make good conversation at bars and parties. Like when
they settled the age-old question of whether Wisconsinites like cheese
better or beer better. It was overwhelmingly cheese. I would not have
This week, PPP released the findings of a poll of how much Americans
believe in conspiracy theories. That`s where we got our lizard people
numbers from. We also learned that the percentage of Americans who believe
that a secret power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to
eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or new
world order, that percentage is 28 percent.
But of the respondents who self-identified as very conservative, what
was the percentage of very conservative Americans who said they do believe
that a secret power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to
eventually rule the world through an authoritarian government or new world
order? It wasn`t 28 percent, it was 45 percent. Almost half of very
conservative respondents fear the authoritarian new world order.
Here is another one. Do you believe global warming is a hoax? Fifty-
one percent overall say no. Global warming is a real thing.
But of the folks who voted for Mitt Romney in this last election, what
percentage of those people believe that there`s no such thing as global
warming and it`s all a big hoax? Sixty-one percent. Nearly two-thirds of
the people who voted for Mitt Romney say that global warming is a hoax.
Did the Bush administration mislead the country on weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq? Definitely no. No, not if you`re a Republican.
There was no misleading. Three quarters of Republicans polled say no,
there was no misleading heading into Iraq.
If you ask Democrats, the response is almost exactly the opposite.
Three quarters say yes.
I mean, a lot of Americans of all stripes are susceptible to one
theory or another, conspiracy theories and the like. But it seems like
Republicans and conservatives and people who voted for Mitt Romney are more
susceptible than the rest of America to conspiracy theories, especially
about people being out to get them.
And looking at the way the elected Republicans approach governing
right now might be a clue as to why Republicans are more susceptible to
conspiracies than the rest of us. This is the International Arms Trade
Treaty. It`s 13 pages long. It`s from the United Nation. The idea for
countries that sell weapons to other countries to consider what those
weapons might be used for in those other countries. If those weapons are
likely to be used for genocide, for example, then you shouldn`t sell them.
Well, this week, the U.N. passed the arms trade treaty by an
overwhelming margin, 154 countries voted for it. Only three countries
voted against it. The United States delegation voted for it.
Now, the treaty goes to President Obama who is reportedly expected to
sign it. But then, of course, it goes to the United States Senate, where
it needs 67 votes in order to be ratified in order to actually count. The
prospects for that are not good, because to Republicans, this is not a
treaty about not selling weapons to some other country that`s going to use
them for genocide, to Republicans, this is a conspiracy to take your guns,
just like everything else.
Tea Party freshman Senator Ted Cruz tweeting, quote, "U.N. arms treaty
should be rejected outright. It`s international gun regulation, plain and
simple, and it must never be ratified."
Oklahoma`s James Inhofe says, "Americans will not stand for
internationalists limiting and infringing on their constitutional rights."
Democrats Max Baucus and Joe Manchin signed on to that principled
stance. Two Democrats, 31 Republicans.
Senator Rand Paul`s reaction to the U.N. arms treaty, quote, "Gun-
grabbers around the globe believe they have it made." So please send me
Late last month, in a sort of trial run, the Senate voted against the
treaty. It was a mostly party line vote, a handful of red state Democrats
joining all of the Republicans.
And so, even though the United States officially joined with 153 other
countries in voting to pass this treaty, our country is almost certain to
end up on the same side of this issue as the three nations that said no.
The three nations that said no are Iran, Syria and North Korea -- and now,
because of the Republicans and some conservative Democrats, us too. Iran,
Syria, North Korea and the United States.
Conspiracy theories can be fun. They make the world seem exciting and
like there is a secret special meaning to things that only you know about
if you`re smart enough to understand how things really work.
Conspiracy theories can be fun. But when they start seeping into the
way one of our two political parties approaches basics of governing,
they`re less fun. Maybe we should give the lizard people a shot at running
things around here. Maybe they would do a better job.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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