'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, April 12th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 12, 2013
Guests: Nicole Hockley, Charniele Herring
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very, very much.
Have a good weekend.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Have a great weekend.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for being with us for this hour.
This week of news is ending in way that basically nobody could have
predicted when this week in news began.
To start the week, on Sunday night, the CBS program, "60 Minutes"
aired an emotional and I think riveting two-part interview on a story that
we all knew was going to be the all-consuming policy news in Washington
this week. "60 Minutes" broke the story into two pieces, two segments.
And this is the way they divided them. This is how part one ended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WHEELER, FATHER OF MASSACRE VICTIM: I would like every parent
in this country, that`s 150 million people, I would like them to look in
the mirror and that`s a figure of speech, Scott. I mean, literally find a
mirror in your house and look at it and look in your eyes and say, this
will never happen to me. This will never happen in my school. This will
never happen in any community. And see if you actually believe that.
And if there is a shadow, the slightest shadow of doubt about what
you`ve said, think about what can you do to change that in your house, in
your community, in your school, in your country, because we have an
obligation to our children to do this for them. It`s going to happen
again. It is going to happen again.
And every time, you know, it`s somebody else`s school. It`s somebody
else`s town. It`s somebody else`s community. Until one day, you wake up
and it`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s David Wheeler, the father of Ben Wheeler who was
killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. David Wheeler speaking
there on "60 Minutes", on Sunday night.
Well, tomorrow, David Wheeler will stand with his wife, Francine,
Ben`s mother, as she delivered President Obama`s weekly address. Every
Saturday morning, the president of the United States delivers a weekly
address. It gets carried on the TV, radio stations, it goes up online.
But this week, tomorrow, for the first time ever in this presidency,
the president will hand off his address to a citizen. He`ll be handing off
his address to Francine and to David to talk about them losing Ben.
What gives a person the strength to do this? When in the process do
you realize that you have the strength to not just grief the loss of your
child but also to speak, to take what happened to you and turn it into a
way of trying to stop it from happening to someone else`s child.
Do you know from the beginning that you will act to try to protect
other people`s children now that this has happened to you? Or do you find
yourself doing it and marvel that you are capable of it? Marvel that it is
One week after her son, Dylan was killed, alongside Ben and those 18
other kids at Sandy Hook, Dylan Hockley`s mother, Nicole, spoke at Dylan`s
memorial service. Dylan was 6 years old when he died. He had autism.
They held the memorial one week after he died and they held it as a
celebration of his life.
Watch this. This is remarkable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE HOCKLEY, MOTHER OF MASSACRE VICTIM: Like many people on the
spectrum, Dylan demonstrated several aspects of repetitive movement. Some
autistic individuals rock their bodies. Roll their heads or flap their
hands. Dylan was a flapper.
Whenever he got excited or happy, he jumped up and down and flapped as
hard as he could. One day I asked Dylan, why do you flab? In all honesty,
because Dylan had underdeveloped language skills, I wasn`t expecting him to
answer, but he did. He said, "Because I`m a beautiful butterfly."
It has been said that something as small as a butterfly flapping its
wings can cause a hurricane half way around the world. That a small change
or single occurrence in one place can result in large differences
elsewhere. It redefines the future.
Dylan is our butterfly. All of the children and adults who lost their
lives last week are our butterflies. And if one butterfly can cause a
hurricane, then 26 butterflies can change the world.
I refuse to accept this as a senseless tragedy. I believe Dylan and
the others that died with him, are catalysts and while I selfishly wish my
child was still with me and while I fear the empty space in my heart may
never be filled, I`m also at peace to take comfort in the knowledge that
his death will have meaning. There will be a positive change from this and
we will be part of it. Newtown will be part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Dylan Hockley`s mom, Nicole, speaking a week after he
was killed at his memorial service, that celebration of his life.
One month after killings at Sandy Hook, I was at the event in Newtown,
Connecticut, that launched the group Sandy Hook Promise and saw Nicole
speak again thereabout Dylan and about how losing him must be a catalyst
The Newtown families went to the state capitol in Connecticut to press
there to negotiate amongst themselves and then to vote for that state`s
landmark bipartisan package of gun reforms. The faces of those family
members were the last thing the legislators saw before they walked into the
chambers to vote. The photos of their kids and their family members who
were killed that day at Sandy Hook were the last things put in those
legislators` hands before they walked into the chambers to vote. That vote
passed with bipartisan support and the Connecticut`s gun reforms are now
signed into law.
Soon after that, the families with President Obama. Nicole Hockley
introduced the president when he spoke in Connecticut. The families met
with president, 11 family members traveled back with him to Washington,
D.C. on Air Force One, and when they got to Washington, D.C., they started
the process of meeting with senators.
Again, summoning the strength, meeting these senators directly,
explaining, talking about who it was that they lost and what it means to
them and how this senator`s vote, you, Senator, look at me eye to eye,
could help stop this from happening to somebody else`s child. And at the
end of those meetings, 22 senators who have A ratings from the NRA voted
with the majority to move the debate forward, to defeat the filibuster, to
at least let it come for a vote. Twenty-two senators with A ratings from
the NRA were on the let it go forward side of that vote.
Tonight and tomorrow, there are dozens of pro-reform events planned
all over the country. In Arizona tonight, starting tomorrow in California
and Colorado and Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, North Carolina,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, all over the country
tonight and tomorrow. Mayors against illegal guns tonight will start
running new ads in seven states. They are asking senators to vote in favor
of the bipartisan background checks proposal that`s moving forward in the
Senate, thanks to this week`s vote.
The husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, he has
recorded robocalls that`s started going out today to West Virginia and
Pennsylvania. West Virginia and Pennsylvania specifically because the
robocalls are thanking the bipartisan NRA, A-rated pair of senators, who
are brave enough to put the background checks bill forward. They are from
Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
There`s a lot going on. The vote in the Senate is still a week away.
But the core, the center, reason this is happening, politically, is that
the surviving family members of these people who have been killed in our
country have found the strength to try to stop what happened to them from
happening to somebody else`s family.
The Teves family in Arizona right now is trying to get their senator,
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, to commit to supporting background checks or
any other gun-related reforms. The Teves son, Alex, was 24 years old when
he was killed at the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. The Teves
family has now asked their senator, Senator Jeff Flake to come eat dinner
at their house, to sit in Alex`s seat at the dinner table so they can talk
Asked by KPNX in Phoenix if it is fair to use that kind of emotional
appeal to try to reach their senator, Mrs. Teves said in response, you know
what, the guns are not shooting targets, they are shooting people. People
have emotions. It is impossible to take emotion out of the equation.
Unless it has happened to you, none of us can imagine what it is to
lose a child, to lose a family member, to utterly senseless gun violence.
But now, as a country, we are being propelled toward change by the very
people who not only have experienced that loss directly but have also from
somewhere summoned the strength to lead us to try to stop it from ever
Joining us for the interview tonight is Nicole Hockley. Nicole
Hockley`s 6-year-old son Dylan was killed December 14th at Sandy Hook
Nicole, thank you very much for being here tonight.
HOCKLEY: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I know that you have just come from D.C. as of this
afternoon. I have heard you say in talking to other people that you`ve
never done anything like this before, the kind of meeting with senators and
stuff that you`ve done.
What was it like this week?
HOCKLEY: It was certainly a very interesting experience. Never, to
be honest, this is the first time I`ve been in D.C. I learned a great deal,
had no idea what to expect and went in is with very few expectations. Just
wanting to meet with senators and talk to them person to person along with
all of the other families first to tell our stories and see what could be
Do you feel you are being listened to? That people are being --
obviously, people have a lot of emotion about what happened and meeting you
is an emotional experience for a lot of people. Members of the different
families, members I talked to talk about how hard it is that people burst
into tears upon meeting you, and that makes it harder for you. You put in
the position to comfort people.
Do you feel like you`re able to bridge through the emotion to make an
argument that people can hear?
HOCKLEY: I think so. I mean, people definitely are taking the time.
Senators have taken the time to listen to us. And that`s the whole point
we`re reaching to the -- we`re reaching out to them as people because they
are parents and grandparents. They are parent just like us.
There is nothing wrong with talking person to person. It`s not about
politics. There`s nothing wrong with being emotional about that. There
are numbers, statistics and logic to look at but you have to consider the
love element as well. You have to consider the human element when making
these important decisions.
MADDOW: Let me ask you the question that I posed a moment ago, which
is about your decision to speak out. Obviously, nobody would hold it
against you if you chose to remain an entirely private person and never
speak to anybody about this. When in this process did you realize that you
had the strength to take what happened to your family and to act to try to
keep this from happening to somebody else`s children? Did you know right
away that you would or how did that happen?
HOCKLEY: I still find it very strange when anyone thinks that I`m
strong. I know several other family members feel the same way. I don`t
feel strong at any point of the day, at any single moment. This is just
something I feel I have to do for Dylan and for my living son and for all
of the other children and adults who might face this sort of violence in
their lives and try to prevent that.
If I could stop one other person from dying or one other mother from
feeling this way, so they don`t have to find way to find their strength,
then it will never be worthwhile because it`s too high of a price to have
paid. But at least I will feel that something good will have come from
MADDOW: I thought of you when -- I heard a comment from Oklahoma
Senator James Inhofe this week, he has said so far he is opposed to any
reforms, though who knows how he will vote when it comes time to vote. He
said he felt that the Newtown families, being used some something that
would not have prevented their horrible loss.
What do you think about that claim?
HOCKLEY: There`s two aspects there. First of all, no one is using
me. These are active choices that I`m making everyday. The things I say
come out of my mouth. I`m not a puppeteer in any way.
These are my thoughts and my opinions. And, fortunately, I share a
lot of thoughts and opinions with other families as well. So, we have a
In terms of whether these reforms would have prevented Newtown, some
of them, no, they wouldn`t have. Does that mean we shouldn`t be making
these changes and preventing other tragedies? I mean, that -- why wouldn`t
you do that if it could save other lives and if it helps, then you have an
obligation to do these things. And some of the things we`re talking about
could have made a difference in Newtown as well. Not all of them, but some
And that`s important to remember.
MADDOW: What do you think happens in terms of the timeframe here?
Obviously, the big hurdle of even getting to a vote in the Senate this week
is something that honestly at the beginning of the week most people were
not predicting. People think the filibuster would be sustained. It was
not only beaten, it was beaten handily, I think because of the work that
you and the other families did in Washington.
But the vote itself is going to be next week. And then it moves on to
the House. What`s your plan in terms of staying involved or otherwise?
HOCKLEY: My plan is absolutely to stay involved and this isn`t just
about gun responsibility at the end of the day. There is a lot of other
issues and families will be involved in those going forward as well.
And for myself, I`m just going to continue doing exactly what I`ve
been doing so far, talking to people, listening to them, and hoping that
they have the courage to continue to listen to what we have to say and then
to act in terms of what`s right for their constituents but also what`s
right as a person.
MADDOW: Do you -- my analysis, I should ask you this actually rather
than just saying it. My analysis is that you guys have made things
possible that didn`t seem possible. I heard Senator Chris Murphy, your
U.S. Senator Murphy, talking about what happened at the state level in
Connecticut, saying that what passed in Connecticut no one believed would
happen until the intervention from the families so that it changed it and
made it so that it could be bipartisan and made it the big vote that it
I see that happening with this big vote that happened weekend in
Washington as well. Do you share that assessment? Do you think you are
making things happen that wouldn`t otherwise happen?
HOCKLEY: I`ve been told, as you just said, that we are making a
difference. To me, this is just common sense. When we started off going
to Connecticut and we`re told, this is what is going to happen and we think
it`s pretty much stopping here, we wanted it to go a little further. It
didn`t go quite as far as we hoped but then provisions were strengthened
and that was a really good result for a bipartisan committee to come
together like that and deliver the strongest gun legislation in the
And in the Senate, yes -- I mean, going in this past weekend, I will
admit I didn`t even know what a filibuster was. When I understood what it
was, I thought what a ridiculous concept that government won`t even debate
this. And to have moved that from, you know, stopping the filibuster and
having the debate and now this is going to go forward. It doesn`t
necessarily mean that -- we don`t know what`s going to happen next, but
this is an important first step and it`s the first of a long, long journey
that each step we`re just going to get a little bit closer to our goals.
MADDOW: When my observation before I was in media and before ways
doing this kind of media, I was student of political science. I did a
doctorate of political science and I studied social movements and how
activists bring about change.
And the one thing that I learned and saw in action and was never able
to prove academically but I believe it with all my heart is that thing that
makes you most likely to win, is winning -- and that when you are
unexpectedly able to achieve something, you`re not only attracting
attention, you attract hope, and hope is momentum.
And I think you`re on the hope tipping point at this point.
MADDOW: Again, I can`t thank you enough for being willing to talk
about this here. Especially after the long day and long week you`ve had
talking about this with all sorts of people.
Nicole Hockley, thank you so much.
HOCKLEY: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Good luck. Keep in touch.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is a little important context in terms of understanding
what`s about to happen next in Congress and why the common wisdom might be
When the Congress decided back in January that they were not going to
throw us off the so-called fiscal cliff, remember that, they didn`t just
get to make that decision. They actually had to pass legislation to do
that. And as legislation, it doesn`t have to just go through the
Democratic controlled Senate, it had to go through the Republican-
controlled House of Representatives.
The House is controlled by the Republican Party. How on Earth can we
as a country count on congressional Republicans, Republicans in the House
to pass legislation like that? Compromise legislation particularly on a
spending matter, how can we count on Republicans to do that? We can`t.
So the Democrats did it, mostly. The Republicans did let the thing
come up for a vote back in January. But it passed with almost all the
Democrats voting for it and just enough of the Republicans voting for it to
get it over the hump. It was majority Democratic vote that passed that
thing out of House, even though the Republicans are in control. That was
Then two weeks later, it happened again. After months and months had
passed since hurricane Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard, the House
finally got it together to send money to hurricane Sandy victims. The
House passed the hurricane Sandy relief bill and when I say the House
passed it, I mean the Democrats in the House passed it. Every Democrat in
the House except for one voted for the Sandy relief bill.
Combine that with a couple dozen Republicans you need to get it over
the hump and that is how they got that bill passed.
Then they did it again the next month. It was the Violence Against
Woman Act. The House finally passed the Violence Against Women Act after
stalling for more than a year. They had every single Democrat voting for
it, every single one down to the last drop. But that`s not just majority.
So, again was they got a few House Republicans to cross over, enough to let
it to pass so it could get a majority, so it could get passed.
This is week another example, slightly more obscure one. The House
needed to vote to suspend the rules in order to pass a bill maintaining
commemorated American battlefield sites. Well, in toward do something like
that procedurally, you usually need the party in power to vote for it.
But if you can`t count on the party in power to do that, and this
something you need done, you got to find another way.
So, again on battlefield sites you put together a way to get this
thing done by lining up the minority party -- lining up almost every
Democrat in the house and you just need enough Republicans to get it over
the hump. Voila, rule suspended.
This is not normally how people expect the Congress to work. This is
a weird thing, right, to have the minority party do most of voting for
stuff while the majority splits itself. So it can offer just enough
support to pass what needs to be passed. But in the House of
Representatives that does not like to vote for even the basic stuff, this
is the new keep it quiet kind of way that some stuff has been getting
passed this year.
John Boehner, the House speaker -- as House speaker, has almost
dictatorial power in the House over what comes up and how it comes up.
House Speaker John Boehner has let this -- for lack of better word, this
"letting Democrats do it" way of passing bills, go head and pass that at
least four times in the things the way they have passed the last four
They call it breaking the Hastert when Republicans do that because
Denny Hastert reportedly never liked things to pass this way. But you know
what? Who cares about process for processes sake? The important thing
here is what this might mean for the country in terms of policy.
If you have been wondering how something like better background checks
for gun purchases might conceivably pass the House, if it gets through
Senate this next week, gun reform hopefuls are floating the idea that this
odd procedural route that the Republicans don`t much like to admit to but
they sometimes let happen, that route would be the way that this thing
would get through if it gets through. That is the narrow path to
background checks or gun reforms potentially becoming law.
The Greg Sargent at "The Washington Post" this week has been trying to
map this path for how gun reform might pass the House. He notes when
Republican Senate sponsor of background checks Pat Toomey talked about what
he was able to come up with for the Senate, he said at the time that there
are a substantial number of Republicans in the House who also support that
general approach to that part of the gun`s issue.
Well, if Pat Toomey is right, if that is true, if there are some
Republicans that could go along with this and Democrats sick together,
which seems likely, this could happen. If enough Senate Republicans
support the proposal, continued pressure on House Republicans to allow a
vote for the sake of the Newtown families who will be actively lobbying in
day ahead, that pressure could get very, very intense.
I think that is exactly about what`s about to happen. I think that
we`re going to see in the Senate this week, it`s going to be very
unpredictable, but the pressure is going to be almost unbelievable. And as
it becomes clearer that it may pass Senate, the focus on the House right
now to at least let this come for vote in the House, you got 90 percent
support among the American public. You can count on every Democrat in the
House pretty much to support it. All you need is enough Republicans to
peel off -- to be allowed to peel off to put it over the top.
The pressure on this is going to be unbelievably intense and that`s
going to make for a very unpredictable few news days on this subject. Stay
MADDOW: This afternoon, President Obama presented the U.S. Naval
Academy football team with the Commander-in-Chief`s trophy. Every season,
the football teams from the military service academies play against each
other. And just about every year since 1984, the sitting president of the
United States then bestows the Commander-in-Chief`s Trophy to the best of
Well, today, the midshipman from Annapolis decided that they would
give President Obama a gift of their own in return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All right, that`s the
official Navy helmet, fitted for me. Pretty sharp, huh?
OBAMA: Here`s the general rule: you don`t put stuff on your head, if
you`re president. That`s politics 101. You never look good wearing
something on your head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Put it on, put it on. No.
The president has learned the politicians don`t put stuff on your head
It did take him a while to learn it. There was the momentary cowboy
hat floatation back in 2007. But since he has been actual president,
really, he has been very good about the no headgear rule. Barely even a
That kind of learning curve is important to all politicians but right
now, the learning curve seems to be running in reverse for the Republican
Party since the last election. Did you hear what Republican Party did
today on the issue of race, at their big national Republican Party meeting
in California? Did you hear what they did?
That`s coming up.
MADDOW: An update for you tonight on this guy. Dave Agema, one of
the Republican Party`s top officials in the great state of Michigan, is a
committee member of the national Republican Party. Well, a couple of weeks
ago, you might remember we told you the story of Mr. Agema posting on his
Facebook page about how the homosexual agenda is to get the public to
affirm their filthy lifestyle and how homosexuals prey on children and how
homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities.
Since then, some young Republicans in Michigan have been calling for
Dave Agema to resign his leadership positions with the party. The national
Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan`s Republican Party
have both made statements effectively distancing themselves from Mr. Agema.
The Michigan chairman said Mr. Agema`s post, quote, "undermines the party
We can tell you tonight that Dave Agema has not resigned. He`s, in
fact, at the Republican National Committee`s spring meeting in California
right now where he has mounted a pretty good defense for himself by
pointing out that he feels very comfortable rejecting all that criticism,
especially the part about undermining the party platform, since the anti-
guy thing that he`s very much in favor of actually is in the Republican
And he`s right. This is the Republican Party platform from the last
convention. Republicans ran on the anti-gay in 2012 elections.
And today, after 13 somewhat famous social conservatives demanded it,
the Republican National Committee at this meeting in California, they voted
on that part of their platform. They voted on whether or not they want to
reaffirm the anti-guy stuff that was in the platform as of November.
Republicans voted on this resolution that was introduced by Dave Agema
himself. That exact guy, Mr. Homosexuals are filthy killers who eat stray
rabbit and parakeets. That guy introduced himself, introduced the
resolution for the whole RNC, asking the Republican Party as a whole to
reaffirm that Republicans really do believe in one man/one woman marriage
only no matter who you love on account of the future of America.
Dave Agema introduced this anti-guy marriage resolution himself
personally to the whole Republican National Committee. And it passed. It
The social conservatives won. Social conservatives win in the
Republican Party, pretty much always. They win inside the Republican Party
itself when it comes to setting policy for the party and they win outside
the party. They win in the states wherever Republicans hold power.
Since then passed election, when Republicans lost the White House and
lost ground in the White House and lost ground in the Senate, they have
used the power that they`ve still got in the states to push the most
aggressive social conservative policy agenda in a generation. Republicans
in the states have put plat out unconstitutional bans into law. Bans on
abortion into law in and in North Dakota.
The North Dakota legislature sent the governor another abortion bill
today just for good measure. Republicans in Kansas have sent their
governor an abortion ban as well. We are waiting for Governor Brownback to
sign it at this point.
Since the November election, new TRAP laws designed to force abortion
clinics out of business have spread from Mississippi where they were at
work before the election, to now also North Dakota, and Alabama. And as of
today, the great state of Virginia.
Today in Virginia, the state board of health gave final approval for
regulations that are designed to shut down Virginia`s clinics that provide
abortions. The vote follows threats and direct intervention by the
Republican state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli to force the board of
health to reverse their earlier ruling on this issue to close the clinics
so they end up where they ended up today.
The state health commissioner resigned in protest of the pressure,
resigned in protest of the new requirements that are designed to be
difficult if not impossible to comply with. She said she could no longer
fulfill role as state health commissioner, quote, "in good faith."
But today, Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general now in the Republican
Party`s candidate for governor this year, Ken Cuccinelli got what he wanted
in Virginia. The board of health in that state passed the rules to shut
down Virginia`s clinics.
After the vote, protesters shouted "Shame, shame". You see they are
holding up cardboard faces there. Those are faces that are supposed to
make them look like Ken Cuccinelli. Little images of Ken Cuccinelli`s head
-- as if to remind their fellow Virginians of Ken Cuccinelli`s role in this
The board of health member in this next clip you are about to see was
on the losing side of today`s vote. This is one of the board of health
members who voted to keep the clinics open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My concern from the beginning has been access. I
don`t want to see any of those closed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new rules designed to close Virginia`s clinics that
provide abortions are now slated to take effect this summer. Mississippi`s
done it. Alabama`s doing it. North Dakota is doing it. This is
Republican governance in 2013.
Joining us now is Charniele Herring. She`s a member of the Virginia
House of Delegates. She`s the Democratic Party minority whip. She`s the
chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia and she`s former chair of the
Delegate Herring, it`s really nice to have you with us here tonight.
Thank you for joining us.
STATE DEL. CHARNIELLE HERRING (D), VIRGINIA: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Obviously, today`s vote in the board of health was if not a
surprise, at least a big deal for supporters of the Virginia clinics. What
do you think happens next? Is this over?
HERRING: No. The fight`s not over. It is more than likely that
governor is going to go ahead and sign these regulations. But it remind
Virginia voters what`s at stake this coming November in the elections. It
is possibility that the new governor, whoever it may be, may go ahead and
suspend those regulations.
But it`s important that voters realize what`s happening is that Ken
Cuccinelli used his heavy hand of government basically hijacked the
regulatory process, wrote his own regulations, bullied the board of health
into voting for those regulations and this is what we have. You know, it`s
sad day for Virginia and for Virginia`s women because we are talking about
closing clinics that provide diagnostic procedures for women, such as
mammograms, or pelvic exams.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things that we`ve been watching at the
national level is that at the national level Republicans don`t really want
to talk about their aggressive social conservative agenda. They don`t want
to be known as the crusading anti-abortion activist party, even though they
are really governing that way everywhere, that they`ve got power.
You`re the chair of the Democratic Party in Virginia, are Democrats
going to put issues of social conservativism, the anti-gay abuse of Ken
Cuccinelli, the way that he`s been such an activist against abortion rights
in your state and these other matters? Is that going to be front and
center in the gubernatorial campaign?
HERRING: It already is, Rachel. It already is. I can tell you
people have their eye on Ken Cuccinelli and watching what he has been doing
and already, voters are in tune.
It`s been an issue. It will continue to be an issue because what
we`re talking about and what`s at stake is women`s freedom to access
healthcare. We`re talking about equality for every Virginian. People
realize this translates into what -- our economy and how free we are going
to be as a people of the commonwealth.
In fact, Ken Cuccinelli`s extremism has gone into the business
community. They are concerned about what he is doing, where his focus has
MADDOW: Virginia has voted twice now for President Obama. It is a
place obviously where Democrats can win.
Why do you think that Republicans and socially conservative
Republicans in particular have been able to set so much policy for the
state? I mean, you look at Virginia, and if you squint, it sort of looks
like Alabama in terms of the way Republicans there prioritized their
issues. Governor McDonnell wants to be known as the business guy. But you
look at what he`s done and there is a reason people call him governor ultra
Why do they keep winning the policy fights?
HERRING: Because when they campaign, they talk about, I want to talk
about business and jobs. When they get into office, they talk these
extreme votes and measures and I`ll tell you why. It`s the Tea Party.
If a Republican even has a whiff of moderation, says let`s look at
science, let`s look at medical evidence and determine what we need for
these clinics, they face a primary by the Tea Party. So we have an extreme
element that`s coming in. But it`s up to voters to realize what is good
for the common wealth. It`s not extremism but it`s moderation.
MADDOW: It opens up space in the sent are for the Democratic Party,
if you guys are going to fill that vacuum.
Charniele Herring, member of the Virginia House, Democratic minority
whip, chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia -- thank you very much for
your time tonight. I would love to stay in touch with you on these matters
as they keep moving forward quickly in Virginia. Thanks a lot.
HERRING: I appreciate it. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Jeopardy-style tease time.
The answer is, helping the political Tea Party expand its appeal. The
question? It`s a daily double and then some. RNC meeting underway, and,
oh, boy, is it rich with content?
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Happy Friday. Pure weirdness involving a fake congressional
hearing, former members of Congress, and space aliens. It`s coming up
because it`s Friday, and you deserve it.
MADDOW: Happy Friday.
You know those, we the people, petitions at the White House, you get
5,000 people to sign an online petition and the White House says it will
respond to the issue that you brought up. They must respond if you give
them 5,000 signatures? It`s an awesome idea, right? It`s the heart in the
right place kind of stuff.
But eventually that meant that seat of power in the most powerful
country on Earth, the White House, was coming within a thousand signatures
of having to answer the question of having to, quote, "nationalize the
Twinkie industry." When that happens, maybe it is time to raise the bar in
terms of things they must respond to. So, even they though started with
5,000 signature plan, the White House upped the threshold to 25,000
That still wasn`t high enough to filter out stuff like this. Invite
Neal Boortz to spend an hour talking to the president about tax reform.
OK, Google Neal Boortz. Come on, America. The president is busy.
So, the threshold started at 5,000, then it went to 25,000. That can
clear the Boortz hurdle. Now, you have to get a hundred thousand
signatures on your petition for the White House to respond to it.
But it was back in the old days of only 5,000 signatures that White
House did have to respond to this question. Quote, "We the undersigned
strongly urge the president of the United States to formally acknowledge an
extraterrestrial presence, engaging the human race. Immediately release
into the public domain all files from all agencies and military services
relevant to this phenomenon."
That position got more than 12,000 signatures and this is the White
House response from the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It`s
actually very considerate and good.
Listen to this, "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life
exists outside our planet or that an extraterrestrial presence has
contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there`s no
credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the
public`s eye many scientists and mathematicians have looked with a
statistical mind-set at the question of whether life likely exists beyond
and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty ,that somewhere
among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe, there is a
planet other than ours that is home to life.
Many have also noted however that the odds of us making contact with
any of them especially any intelligent ones are extremely small given the
distances involved. But that`s all statistics and speculations. The fact
is, we have no credible evidence that extraterrestrial presence here on
Asked and answered, right? No, of course not.
Since the White House will not give them the truth that they know is
out there, the group behind that petition is now turning to another branch
of government to uncover the real evidence. Sort of.
They are sort of approaching Congress but -- well, they`ve decided to
hold a fake congressional hearing. A five-day marathon hearing involving
testimony from dozens of witnesses, witnesses questioned by former members
of Congress in a room at the National Press Club that has been configured
to resemble a Senate hearing room. There will be press sections and
audience area and witness and committee tables just like the real thing
except it`s fake. They are calling it a citizen hearing on disclosure.
And they`ve created like a movie trailer for it. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s time to open the books on questions
that have remained in the dark, question of government investigations of
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Stop the music, Governor. Did you say the
United States government is covering up a history of a UFO sighting in your
DR. EDGAR MITCHELL, APOLLO 14 ASTRONAUT: It is now time to put away
this embargo of truth about alien presence.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: They don`t produce
documents, Chris. They should just get it all out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ought to do it because the American people
quite frankly can` can handle the truth and it is about the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s no longer about lights on the sky. It`s
about lies on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Release the x files! Embargo of truth about the alien
presence, you`re going down.
So that`s the fake hearing, over five days of testimony, dozens of
witnesses will talk about strange things they say they witnessed. They
will give that testimony to a panel of members of Congress -- excuse me,
wait, former members of Congress, including one former senator, Mike Gravel
of Alaska, who once read the Pentagon papers and other interesting stuff in
Washington. But who more recently is perhaps best remembered for his long
Zen, otherwise inexplicable campaign ads when he briefly ran for president
But let`s assume that former Senator Mike Gravel and company are doing
this fake hearing thing because they believe in aliens visiting Earth. The
organizers of the fake UFOs hearing told "Roll Call", quote, "I don`t care
what ex-members actually think about extraterrestrial issues."
The organizer said he only cares, quote, "that they served in
Congress, that they know how it is done, that they are willing to run these
hearings like an actual hearing in order to create a rather amazing and I
think important event."
Also I should say fake committee members are going to get paid $20,000
a pop to do it. So there`s that.
"Roll Call" and "The Washington Post" report the fake hearing
adventure is expected to cost over $600,000, including the $20,000 fee paid
to each of the former members of Congress who is going to preside over that
Nobody knows who the anonymous donor is who`s footing the bill. But
it is somebody rich enough to put up 600 grand to pay for a fake
congressional hearing about UFOs, and it is someone of the mindset a fake
congressional hearing about UFOs is what America needs to see the light
about UFOs. The eerie, eerie, oddly compelling light.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: On Wednesday night, two nights ago, we reported on this show
a story when I first saw it, I swear I thought it couldn`t possibly be
true, I thought I was getting punk`d.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: On the ten year anniversary of the Saddam statue being pulled
down, House Republicans celebrated this week inviting former Vice President
Dick Cheney to a closed door meeting, for him to share with him his Dick
Cheney wisdom on foreign policy. To be clear, Dick Cheney did not show up
uninvited and they felt bad and had to let him in, they invited him to talk
to them. He is their chosen expert, still.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since we reported that story Wednesday, I have been waiting
for some sort of correction, waiting to feel stupid, right? I`ve been
waiting to hear it was some lefty satire that fooled us. And no way did
House Republicans seek out Dick Cheney for advice on foreign policy in
2013, can`t be.
But, alas, there has been no correction, that apparently actually
happened. And it gets better or worse, better/worse. Vice President
Cheney`s next stop after meeting to advise House Republicans on foreign
policy this week was another speaking gig at the Republican National
Committee spring meeting in Los Angeles.
This is the official National Republican Party meeting. This year is
aimed specifically at the challenge of, quote, "broadening the Republican
Party`s appeal with voters."
So congressional Republicans called in Dick Cheney for advice on
foreign policy matters, and the national Republican Party turned to Dick
Cheney for advice on broadening the party`s appeal, because when you think
broad appeal to the electorate, do you think Dick Cheney?
Now to be fair, the RNC didn`t just turn to Dick Cheney on this
matter. They decided to bring in other experts as well. Again, the stated
aim of the Republican Party`s national meeting right now in Los Angeles is
to reach out to new voters, specifically Asian Americans, blacks,
Hispanics, and young people.
So, to do that, to make that outreach, the party decided to bring in
the aforementioned Dick Cheney. Also, they decided to bring in one of the
people that runs Breitbart Web site. You know the Breitbart Web site?
That`s the conservative Web site that fixated on attacking ACORN and Van
Jones and Eric Holder and Shirley Sherrod. Remember how they invented the
whole thing where Shirley Sherrod is a racist against white people and it
turns out, they totally made up the tape that made it seem like that?
Yes, to broaden the appeal to Asian Americans, blacks, Hispanics, and
young people, the Republicans at the national meeting tapped the Breitbart
guy, Dick Cheney, and also this guy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`m still trying to find two
tickets to the Ohio State/USC game -- since it`s probably the last football
game we will get to see before the United States gets blown up by the
Islamists under Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That guy and Dick Cheney and the guy from Breitbart, and they
have to turn out black votes and other minorities to the Republican Party`s
way of looking at things, there`s also this guy. Another expert being
appealing the party is topping for its national meeting right now, on how
to attract minorities. If the name David Horowitz is unfamiliar, perhaps
his books might ring a bell.
There`s this one, "Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream". Or
this one, "Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes."
This is also a popular one, I`m sure, for modernizing, broadening the
Republican Party appeal, his magnum opus, "The Race Card: White Guilt,
Black Resentment, and the Assault on Truth and Justice." See, if it only
weren`t for all of the black resentment, truth and justice would be alive
I like watching and studying up on Republican politics more than
anything. I obsess on Republican politics. But, honestly, there`s
something weird going on right now in Republican politics. It`s
The Republicans are in the let`s hit the reset button mode post-
election. And in the past 48 hours, they`ve unanimously voted to oppose
gay rights. They`ve asked Dick Cheney to lead them on foreign policy, and
they`ve asked to talk about how to appeal to African-Americans, the author
of the book, "Hating Whitey".
I am mentally preparing myself to do a correction on these matters
when it turns out that I am being punk`d and this can`t possibly be the
truth. But until then, stay tuned.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday.
In the meantime, though, as you know, you now have to go to prison.
You have to go to prison in three, two, one.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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