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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

June 13, 2013

Guests: Elizabeth Esty

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Can I say you again in
just a minute or two?

CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN HOST: That sounds wonderful.

MADDOW: Very good. I`ll see you here.

Thank you at home for staying with us this hour. There`s a lot going
on today, particularly in Republican politics in Washington and Virginia
and a little bit in Wisconsin today. We`re going to have all those news
stories coming up.

Plus, there`s some new news on guns, and we have got a best thing in
the world today that makes me very happy.

We have a lot ahead over the course of this hour, including as you
just heard, we will be bringing back the one and only Chris Hayes in just a
few minutes as my guest.

But we need to start tonight with some breaking news that`s coming out
of the White House. Within the last couple of hours, high ranking White
House officials have announced that it is now the official position of our
government, of the U.S. government, that Syria`s President Bashar al Assad
has used chemical weapons against the opposition forces in his country.
President Obama has long said that chemical weapons would be a red line.
That the Syrian regime should not cross. Since the government has now
concluded that they apparently have crossed that line, the Obama
administration says they intend, now, to arm the rebels in Syria.

This news was first reported late this evening by "The New York
Times." "The Times" quoting an internal memo that they said was
circulating inside the government but once "The Times" published, the news
was then confirmed by the White House, a short time later. During a
conference call with reporters late tonight, the president`s deputy
national security adviser Ben Rhodes said, quote, "Our intelligence
community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons,
including the nerve agent sarin on a small scale against the opposition
multiple times in the last year."

Now, you may remember back in April, the White House announced, the
president, himself announced that the intelligence community believed with
varying degrees of confidence that chemical weapons had been used in Syria,
but tonight the White House for the first time is going much further and
saying chemical weapons have been used. Instead of that odd phrasing from
April, varying degrees of confidence, the new statement says, "Our
intelligence community has high confidence in the assessment," given
multiple independent streams of information.

So, we`ve gone from varying degrees of confidence to high confidence.
We`ve also gone from no direct assertion that use of chemical weapons
definitely meant that the Assad regime, itself, had used the chemical
weapons. Now, they are saying they concluded that adds well.

The White House tonight also saying they assess between 100 to 150
people to have been killed in these chemical weapons attacks since the
start of this conflict -- although deputy national security adviser Ben
Rhodes described that 100 to 150 number as an incomplete number. In terms
of what this means for us, what this means for U.S. policy, U.S. strategy
and U.S. action, this means we are now wading into the Syrian civil war.
White House announcing tonight that President Obama has decided to supply
direct assistance including military assistance to some factions of the
rebel groups who are fighting to topple the Assad regime. We are now going
to be arming the rebels.

Quoting again from the White House tonight, "The president has made a
decision about providing more support to the opposition. That will involve
providing direct support to the supreme and military council, which is one
of the groups of rebels." And the same says that includes military

The White House is not detailing what kind of military support will be
provided, but tonight interestingly these rebel groups in Syria are wasting
no time and saying publicly what it is that they would like. They`re
asking for anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft weapons and large quantities
of other weapons and ammunition.

Up until this point, the U.S. government says it has just been
providing nonlethal aid, things like night vision goggles and body armor.
The White House is saying tonight that that will change. They also say
they have notified Congress and the United Nations and various
international allies about these findings. They say they have specifically
notified Syria`s best friend in the world, Russia, before they went public
with this information tonight.

President Obama`s headed to the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland this
weekend. The White House says that while he is there, he will consult with
European allies about next steps. The president is also expected to press
Russian President Vladimir Putin on this subject directly. Putin has been
one of Bashar al Assad`s strongest backers, including shipping him weapons
during this bloody civil war and threatening to ship him more.

In a sort of strange domestic development in all of this, the White
House was actually briefly upstaged tonight in making this announcement.
Before the White House came out publicly to declare that they have decided
to provide arms to the Syrian rebel, Republican Senator John McCain went to
the Senate floor to preannounce that decision for them. And, of course,
also to announce that just providing arms to the rebels like he has been
demanding is not enough.

But, again, the breaking news at this hour is that the United States
government has determined that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons
against the opposition. The Obama administration says they have high
confidence in that assessment and they will now, on the basis of that high
confidence assessment, be providing direct military support to one side in
the Syrian conflict.

It is unclear at this juncture what happens next, but clearly, this is
a major escalation in this conflict. Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell,
NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent.

Andrea, thanks very much for helping us sort this out tonight. It`s
nice to have you here.

to be with you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Obviously, there was some strangeness about the timing with
both "The New York Times" and John McCain on the Senate floor jumping the
gun a little bit before the White House made this announcement formally.
Do you have insight into how the timing unfolded today and why this
happened tonight?

MITCHELL: Well, they`ve been working toward this now for a couple of
days. We`ve all been waiting on this announcement and there was certainly
a lot of evidence that there were meetings. We knew they had a big
principals meeting at the White House yesterday.

The most unusual thing is not that "The New York Times" broke the
story because they`ve been working very hard on it and they`ve got
excellent reporters. The most unusual thing is that John McCain went on
the floor and announced it for them. And announced it by casting it in
what has to be the most negative light. That it was the fact that he was
applauding this decision but clearly it`s a decision that he thinks is too
little, too late. It`s the least bad of a lot of bad choices according to
administration officials that they knew get out in front of it.

They`re getting a lot of pressure, Rachel, from the Brits, from the
French who said there was evidence for months and the administration was
really dragging its feet here in trying to say that that red line had not
been crossed. It`s very clear that it was President Obama, himself, and
his closest aides, his national security adviser, outgoing adviser Tom
Donilon, who felt they did not want to get further involved. Hillary
Clinton, Leon Panetta and others on the foreign policy team had long argued
for this since last year.

So, it was finally incrementally joining the allies and really the
rest of the Arab world as well in arguing this had to be done.

MADDOW: The two sides of this, obviously, Andrea, have been assessing
whether red lines have been crossed, assessing how bad things are in Syria,
but also assessing whether or not America action, or allied action in some
sort of international force might be helpful at alleviating that bad thing,
at making things any better. Do we know if this action by the White House
means they are more confident that when they send arms into the conflict in
Syria, they are arming the people they intend to and the people who we will
be happy in the long run got those weapons?

MITCHELL: They`re not clear on that. They think that General Idris
is the best choice, but they get into battlefield, if they were to lose an
engagement, let`s say, (AUDIO GAP). We saw what happened all those years
ago back in the `80s in Afghanistan and the blowback that we then
experienced with all those weapons then being used against our own forces.

But even worse than that, Rachel, the fact we don`t know if this is
really going to help. I think the real tipping point here was not just the
allied pressure but the fact that Iran had jumped in so completely that
Hezbollah is so engaged. So, you not only had the Russians keeping Assad
going to what would be a stalemate. Now, Assad was really winning and
coming out in terms of having a real advantage. And we could not let that

Russia is now the real equation. What will the president say at this
G-8 summit to Vladimir Putin that will at all push him off of his position
of wanting to keep Assad in place?

MADDOW: Andrea, this is probably too simple a question to be
answerable, I guess. But I mean, talk about the United States getting
pressure from allies like England and France on this, but them not going
ahead without us. I mean, in some ways in Libya, France did go ahead
without us and did some things that the United States was not willing to
do, ourselves.

They did not really do that in Syria. They have not been arming the
rebels. And now we are. And we presumably will take part in some
multilateral effort to do that with a lot of European partners. What
difference does it make that we`re doing it? Why couldn`t the people who
were so much more sure about this before we were do this on their own
without us?

MITCHELL: Well, certainly the Arab leaders have Saudis and Qatar,
they`ve been arming them. We have the situation where the refugee crisis
in Turkey and particularly in Jordan is really becoming critical. Jordan
cannot withstand the continual flow of refugees.

But I think the big difference is Iran. Now that Iran is so fully
engaged, they were always arming and, by the way, Maliki in Iraq, he`s
letting those arms go through. So, we have not been able to persuade Iraq
and the government that we helped put in place to stop the flow of arms
through its territory and over its territory, ground and air into Syria.

But I think the fact was that Iran was helping Assad win and we could
not consider the geopolitical ramifications of letting Iran win this
victory and so then you have Assad there and Iran, more powerful than ever
with an Iranian election tomorrow and more, you know, forceful leader
presumably than Ahmadinejad has been. It`s just the worst possible

And also the weakness that it projected throughout the Arab world for
us to be dragging our feet. I mean, if the president had not said that the
chemical weapon was a red line, you know, I`m not aware of other
intelligence, but we have to be concerned, where are these chemical stocks?
Where is Assad now moving them? Who has control of them?

We have to figure that out. We understand the administration is very
reluctant to go the full bore with what John McCain has said is necessary
which is a no-flight zone, then presumably some air strikes. Dennis Ross
and others who have been administration advisers say we need to do that
because what we`re doing now with trucks and equipment and some weaponry
and communication gear to help build a more cohesive force on the rebel
side is not enough.

So it`s not only too little, too late, but some administration
supporters believe that this step is also not going to do enough to really
have a victory.

One other factor, politically, is the Bill Clinton factor. John
McCain`s Institute had the meeting -- that was supposed to be off the
record, private meeting on Tuesday night, "Politico" broke the story.
Maggie Haberman broke the story that Bill Clinton had said Tuesday night at
this meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, that the
president should not be looking to the polls and that he`ll some day look
back and think, you know, I was a wuss for doing this. I don`t have the
exact quotes, but they are online. We aired it today on our show and all
the other shows all day.

And that led to Jay Carney having to say that the president
understands that there`s a lot of advice out there. What can they say?
Bill Clinton criticizing Barack Obama on the Syrian policy at an institute,
at John McCain`s venue. It doesn`t get much more uncomfortable than that.

MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent and
host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" here on MSNBC, this is an incredible
story. Andrea, thank you very much. It`s good to have you here.

Joining us now is the one and only Chris Hayes, who`s host of the
excellent "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES," every night at 8:00 Eastern Time.
Chris` book, "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy", is out in
paperback as of this minute.

Chris, thank you for being here.

HAYES: It`s great to be at this side of the hallway.

MADDOW: This is the United States getting involved in the Syrian
civil war and arming the rebels. And as the president takes that step,
already there is a clamor that it`s not enough, that he`s still projecting

HAYES: You know, what`s interesting about John McCain stepping on the
White House`s announcement was that, for me, who`s a persuadable voter on
intervention in Syria -- I mean, I`m extremely skeptical but perhaps

The McCain argument was the worst one, right? John McCain says this
is just the beginning of massive, massive all-in intervention in which
we`re going to end up God knows doing what.

Sending troops -- everyone says, no, no, troops. But if this doesn`t
work, then something more. And if that doesn`t work, then something more,
right? There`s a quicksand logic here.

For John McCain to lead with that argument was the most terrifying,
alienating argument for this incremental step that stepped on the White
House`s very careful, measured rhetoric in their actual conference call.

MADDOW: Right.

HAYES: So, he set up the worst terms of -- for the White House to
make their own message to the own skeptical public about this very intense
political decision they`re making. And the most amazing polling on this,
"The Wall Street Journal," is there are more people who favor boots on the
ground, 15 percent, than favor arming the rebels at 11 percent. Arming the
rebels is the least popular option, 11 percent of Americans favor it. And
here we have the government announcing today that looks like what they`re
doing. It`s very dangerous.

MADDOW: Forty percent of the public that wants humanitarian
assistance. You want 20 percent of the public that wants them to do


MADDOW: Clearly, there`s no political advantage to be gained here.
There`s political cajole that`s going to be wage on every one of these

HAYES: That`s right.

And what`s amazing to me, this is something you write about in "Drift"
and we observe is the unique gravity of debates over war and military
intervention, where something this unpopular in the domestic sphere, no one
would be talking about doing. No one would be talking about doing
something 11 percent of people favored.

It would be political suicide. There is a kind of different sets of
considerations partly because there are actual strategic considerations.
But domestic political considerations, when you hear people talk about the
pressure that`s mounting, what exactly does that mean politically? It
means you`re getting criticized by John McCain on the Sunday morning shows?

Like why does that matter? You`re looking weak in front of people?
How important is looking strong if the cost of looking strong is cost of
blood and treasure, right?

I mean, those are the things to balance out here and it seems like the
rhetoric on Syria from the beginning has existed in this separate sphere
which is the kind of suspended logic rhetoric we have about war and

MADDOW: What can happen politically? What could smart political
interveners do in order to make this debate about whether or not our
actions will be effective?


MADDOW: Rather than whether or not our actions are warranted by

HAYES: To me, what I found most, I have talked to people who have
been part of the conflict, reporting on it. My question is pragmatic,
efficacy. Let`s say we want to help the rebels beat Assad. Let`s just say
that`s our national strategic goal. Can we do that? And if we commit to
that, can we do it in a limited fashion?

And what I have heard from people who have been eyewitnesses there is
I don`t think you can. I don`t think you can control the inputs of the
weapons, the people that assassinate, that executed a 16-year-old boy for
blasphemy in a rebel-controlled part of Syria the other day who are al
Qaeda affiliates, I don`t think you can keep the people out of their hands.

I don`t know if you can, short of really serious intervention, create
the outcome you want. And so, to me the most persuasive argument against
is purely a practical argument about the efficacy of us taking these
incremental steps.

MADDOW: It`s ideologically fractured at this point.

HAYES: For understandable reasons.

MADDOW: Except for constant hawks like John McCain, it ought to be a
pragmatic decision, which is why I would hope if the White House wants that
to be the argument they would put into the public domain, not through
leaks, but officially, what their evidence is and what they think they can
do and make those arguments not in secret, make those arguments openly.

HAYES: I agree.

MADDOW: Thank you. They rework them (ph).

Chris Hayes, who is the host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" -- no, who`s the
host of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES," previously known as "UP WITH CHRIS

HAYES: That`s right.

MADDOW: Chris` new book is called "Twilight of Elites: America After
Meritocracy," it is out now in paperback -- Chris, thank you. Appreciate

All right. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Yoga, voodoo, and their place in Republican politics.
Seriously. They brought it up, not me. Yoga and voodoo. That`s next.


MADDOW: And now, time for your yoga and voodoo update from the
Republican Party in Virginia. The last we left the Republican Party in
Virginia, the governor was refusing to comment on news that a grand jury
was now part of the investigation into his corruption scandal.

The party`s nominee to succeed that governor, the state attorney
general, Ken Cuccinelli, he was trying as hard as possible to build a
gubernatorial campaign that made him seem like more than just the social
conservative crusader he has always been. I mean, sure, everybody knows
Bob McDonnell as governor ultrasound, but it really is Ken Cuccinelli who`s
been the one trying to shut down Virginia`s abortion clinics, who ordered
the covering up of the insufficiently modest lady on the Virginia state
seal, and who has led the fight for Virginia to try to keep its anti-sodomy
laws even though the Supreme Court says those are illegal.

In trying to seem more well-rounded than that, for his run for
governor in purple state Virginia, a state just cast its presidential votes
for a man named Barack Obama, again, although he`s been trying to soften up
his crusading social conservative antiabortion activist bring back the
sodomy laws image so as to run statewide for governor in this purple state,
Ken Cuccinelli has been hobbled in those efforts. He`s been hobbled in his
makeover attempt. By the rest of the ticket he`s running with. By the
rest of the Republican ticket that Virginia Republicans chose to run
alongside Ken Cuccinelli when they chose them at their party convention.

Republicans did not choose their candidates in statewide vote in
Virginia, they chose them at a convention attended by all the hardest of
hardcore Republican Party base activists. So, they not only picked fire
and brimstone Ken Cuccinelli, they also picked him a running mate who is
not going to be an asset in any effort to soften the Virginia Republican
Party`s hard line tiny tent message.


perverted. They`re, frankly, very sick people psychologically and mentally
and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality.
When they talk about love, they`re not talking about love. They`re talking
about homosexual sex.

The military has been decimated by this lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender policy that has now been implemented. And it`s an abomination.


MADDOW: That`s the Republican lieutenant governor candidate running
alongside Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia elections this year. He also says
the Democratic Party is anti-god.

The man who Republicans picked to be the running mate of both of those
guy, Republican candidate for attorney general, turns out he`s kind of
amazing, too. He`s best known for his demand for his proposed legislation
that any woman in the state of Virginia having a miscarriage must by law
report that miscarriage to the local sheriff within 24 hours. In case the
sheriff wants to investigate the miscarriage, or something.

But as promised, there is a yoga and voodoo update on this
unexpectedly dank corner of in your face conservatism from the Republican
Party in Virginia and it is the Republicans` lieutenant governor candidate,
E.W. Jackson, he has now gone public to refute what he says are
misunderstandings about his record. And to talk about what he would bring
to state government in Virginia should the people of Virginia be genius
enough to elect him. Here was how that big statement from him got picked
up on local WUSA.


REPORTER: E.W. Jackson, the ultraconservative minister turned
politician addressed a room of less than 12 today, half of which were his
own staff members. It was his first public news conference since he
received the Republican nomination for Virginia`s lieutenant governor
position. He refuted claims that he thinks birth defects are caused by
sinful parents and that yoga is the work of the devil.

JACKSON: I do not believe birth defects are caused by parents` sin
and I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism.


MADDOW: Now, the reason the clarification is necessary is because of
this. That`s his book, "The Ten Comandments to an Extraordinary Life."
Commandments has two M`s. It could be a crypto anti-sodomy Virginia
Republican message of some kind. Who can know?

But in his book "The Ten Comandments to an Extraordinary Life", E.W.
Jackson explains this about the yoga and the Satan. He says, "When one
hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yogi, talking
about finding the mantra and striving for nirvana. The purpose of such
meditation is to empty ones self. Satan is happy to invade the empty
vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality
which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something
you probably do not want."

To be clear, although Satan will fill you up when you`re doing yoga,
that`s what`s in the book, now he`s caving on that.


JACKSON: I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism.


MADDOW: Anymore. He does not believe that anymore.

So, that`s your Virginia Republican Party yoga update. Now on to
voodoo as promised.

Republicans in Virginia running sodomy law Ken Cuccinelli for governor
and report your miscarriage to the sheriff, Mark Obeshain for attorney
general, and yoga Satan E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor, that same
Republican Party of Virginia, they have also just appointed a new state
official who says voodoo causes earthquake.

I know you don`t believe me, so watch this. All right. One of the
things about Virginia Republicans that maybe should have been a tip off
about where they`re coming from right now in that state is the fact
Governor Bob McDonnell, ultrasound guy, he got his master`s degree from Pat
Robertson, from the televangelist Pat Robertson. T

Pat Robertson has a school, a college in Virginia. He founded it as
Christian Broadcasting network University. And then changed its name to
Regent University but it is the Pat Robertson televangelist school. And
that is where Bob McDonnell wrote his master thesis as an adult student on
why Christian conservatives must take over government in order to use
public policy to publish fornicators.

The specific phrase from his thesis was cohabitators, homosexuals or
fornicators. Public policy must be used to punish them. Bob McDonnell
wrote for his degree at the Pat Robertson televangelist school.

All right. Do you remember after the devastating earthquake in Haiti
when Pat Robertson said on his televangelist show that the reason Haiti got
hit by that big earthquake was because Haiti was cursed?


PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: You know, Christy, something happened a
long time ago in Haiti and the people might not want to talk about it.
They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and

And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We
will serve you if you`ll get us free from the French." True story. And
so, the devil said, OK, it`s a deal. And they kicked the French -- the
Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been
cursed by one thing after the other.


MADDOW: Christy`s like, hmm. The man who the Republican Party just
named its state director of African-American engagement in Virginia is the
pastor who came forward in Virginia after pat Robertson said that, to say,
you know what, Pat Robertson`s right. What caused the earthquake in Haiti
was a curse, specifically what caused the earthquake in Haiti is voodoo.


REV. JOE ELLISON, JR: I know his comments angered a lot of the so-
called, in my opinion, liberals. What he said about the comments about
Haitians. And from a spiritual standpoint, we believe Dr. Robertson was on
target about Haiti, Haiti in the past with voodoo. And we believe in the
Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin and what caused the nation to
suffer. Those who read the Bible and study history know that Dr. Robertson
said was a biblical truth.


MADDOW: Voodoo caused the earthquake in Haiti says the new state
engagement director just hired by the Republican Party of Virginia. The
party`s press release announcing his hire celebrating him as a great asset
who will share why Ken Cuccinelli should be our next governor.

This really is what the Republican Party is like right now. Even
after the 2012 elections, and the supposed nationwide tip to tail diagnosis
that the party needed to re-brand, maybe take it a little easy on the fire
and brimstone hot sauce, at least for the next few elections. Even after
all of that, this is who they are. They are more like this now than they
were last year and than they were the year before that.

This is not the Beltway narrative media about what`s going on in
American politics right now, but it is exactly what is going on if you
watch how they behave and who they are and what they say in public.
Virginia will be the first whole statewide elections we`ve had since the
presidential election and this is who the Republican Party has put together
as their best face in that state.

And it is not just Virginia. This is the Wisconsin state Senate
president yesterday forcing through the Republicans` forced ultrasound bill
in Wisconsin yesterday. It passed the Republican-dominated Senate
yesterday. It passed the Republican-dominated assembly today and heads to
Republican Governor Scott Walker, a presidential hopeful who started his
career in politics as an antiabortion activist and now says he`s looking
forward to signing this new forced ultrasound bill as soon as it gets to
his desk.

He wants to run for president. A lot of people are calling him the
front-runner for 2016 for the Republican nomination. And he is the new
governor ultrasound.

Now, in Washington, in the next few days some time, Republican
Majority Leader Eric Cantor has arranged for there a vote on the House
floor for the Republicans` new federal abortion ban -- banning abortion
nationwide at 20 weeks. The Republicans are going to vote on the abortion
ban and they`re going to pass it in the House, after the all-male
Republican side of the committee for this one did the preliminary work of
voting down all the proposed exceptions for things like victims of incest
and victims of rape.


REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: When my friends on the left side of
the aisle here try to make rape and incest the subject, because the
incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.


MADDOW: Trent Franks, the Republican sponsor of the party`s new
nationwide abortion ban that John Boehner and Eric Cantor are putting up
for a vote next week and is expected to pass the House -- Trent Franks says
he does not want to be taken out of context for those remarks. The whole
Todd Akiny issue of him saying that women don`t get pregnant from rape that

To be fair, the context he was making that point was he was trying to
explain he does not care if you`re pregnant because you have been raped.
He does not care if the reason you`re pregnant is because of incest. He
does not care.

He will still force you to go through childbirth against your will
after 20 weeks no matter what. He will decide for you.


FRANKS: To say we wait until then to say that there`s a rape or
incest involved is waiting too long.


MADDOW: More than anything else going on in the Republican Party,
this is what`s going on in the Republican Party. They disagree on Syria,
they disagree on immigration, they disagree on NSA surveillance, they agree
on this stuff. This is what they`re working on the states and in
Washington where the Beltway media pretends that really they`re just
thinking very hard about the fiscal conservative principles behind a
potential grand bargain. That`s not what they`re are working on. They`re

Literally today, they`re in this room that you see in this footage at
the Christian coalition conference in Washington with Ralph Reid and
Phyllis Schlafly and Sarah Palin and it`s not just the Michele Bachmanns
and Herman Cains of the Republican Party, it is all of the Republicans who
want to run for president. It`s Scott Walker, right, it`s Marco Rubio.
It`s Paul Ryan, it`s Rand Paul, it`s Ted Cruz, it`s Jeb Bush -- Jeb Bush.

The Beltway media line is still Jeb Bush is the adult in the room in
the Republican Party. He`s the one who doesn`t traffic in this fire and
brimstone nonsense. He is Mr. Serious Policy.

Well, Mr. Serious Policy, Mr. Adult in the Room is going to be the
featured speaker at this Christian coalition conference that started today
in Washington alongside Virginia`s finest, the Satan yoga guy -- because
this is how things are now.

Everybody keeps saying this problem is in the past for the
Republicans. It`s not in the past. It`s worse than it has ever been.


MADDOW: Whatever else Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase ever do or did
their legend is secure because of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, as a public service to those of our
viewers who have difficulty with their hearing, I will repeat the top story
of the day headed by the headmaster of the New York school for the hard
hearing, Garrett Morris.

Our top story tonight --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is still dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.


MADDOW: Garrett Morris, Chevy Chase and today`s best new thing in the
world today, the United States Navy shouting it out, coming up at the end
of the show today. I`ll have one more of those. I cannot wait.


MADDOW: For the past couple of weeks the Nevada governor`s office has
been getting so many calls they set up a special automated hotline to
answer the calls by machine without a human having to do the work.


NEVADA GOVERNOR`S OFFICE HOTLINE: You have reached the office of
Governor Brian Sandoval. If you`re calling to vote in support of Senate
Bill 221, please press 1. If you`re voting to press against Senate Bill
221, please press 2.


MADDOW: They don`t actually get to vote but they get to express their
preferences. The people of Nevada have been asked about the main idea in
Senate Bill 221. The first poll showed 86 percent support of it among
Nevada voters. That was in February.

The next month, the same idea, same poll result, exactly 86 percent
support for this bill from voters in Nevada. Liberals said they like it.
Moderate said they like it. Conservatives said they like it. Even on the
right, it gets 78 percent support.

And this very popular bill did, in fact, pass the Nevada legislature.
They voted for this bill this month. They sent it to the governor or

But here`s the thing. That bill is a gun bill. It calls for a
background check for anybody seeking to buy a gun in Nevada. And no matter
how popular the idea of gun reform might be among the voters, even among
conservative voters, actually doing it, actual reform of actual policies
has been kind of a nonstarter in big swaths of Republican politics.

And Republican politics is from Nevada`s governor, Brian Sandoval,
would very much like to have a future. Governor Sandoval has real
ambitions in his party. He wants to be talked about as maybe even a vice
presidential prospect the next time around.

Governor Sandoval waited a week to decide what he was going to do
about the popular gun measure once it landed on his desk. But then, just
few hours ago, he made his decision. He vetoed it. The legislatures
passed the background checks bill, but the governor said no.

Now, two time zones east of Nevada, in the great state of New Jersey,
Republican Governor Chris Christie faces the same kind of decision there.
The nationally ambitious Governor Christie said that he would be interested
in doing something about gun violence. So, the New Jersey legislature
responded by sending him half a dozen bills to sign.

They passed the very lowest hanging fruit of gun reform. The most
popular stuff -- stuff like expanded reporting to help with background
checks. Stuff like banning people on the federal terrorists watch list
from buying guns. People on the terrorist watch list who cannot fly
because they`re on that list can still buy explosives and assault rifles
legally. Not by evading the law somehow or getting something on the black
market, but legally, by staying within the law. The law lets them do that.

Can`t fly, that`s no problem. Would you like to buy black powder?
How about some assault rifles? It`s bizarre.

A bill fixing that in New Jersey is on Chris Christie`s desk and he
like Brian Sandoval is going to have to decide whether he`s going to sign
it or veto it. Nobody knows what Chris Christie is going to do. We keep
asking his office. They won`t peep to us.

As we come up on the six month anniversary of the Newtown elementary
massacre which is tomorrow, six months since tomorrow. The movement for
gun reform in this country has a lot going on. Families of the kids and
teachers killed at sandy hook are back on Capitol Hill this week. Meeting
with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin who sponsored the background checks

They met also with House Republicans. They met with Speaker John
Boehner and with Eric Cantor yesterday.

Today, the families read the names of the Newtown victims, this
morning as it started to rain in Washington. They read the names again
this afternoon indoors at the Capitol with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Senator Reid promised that background checks will pass in the Senate. He
said it is only a matter of time.

After those meetings with the House and Senate leadership, the
families also toy met privately with the president and with Vice President
Biden. Next week, Vice President Biden is planning on doing the first
White House gun reform event at the White House since the background checks
measure initially failed in the Senate back in April.

Tomorrow, on the six-month anniversary of Sandy Hook, Mayors Against
illegal Guns is launching another nationwide bus tour, 100-day tour that
starts in Newtown. Also tomorrow, members of organizing for action, which
is the organization that used to be the Obama campaign, they`re planning on
phone banking and doing vigils in their own states to mark six months since

And perhaps the most pressure of all is being leveraged by New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, leader of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "The
New York Times" reporting this week Mayor Bloomberg has been writing to the
richest and most prolific Democratic donors in the country, New York City
donors who have supported him, both as mayor and in his nationwide crusade
for gun reform. And Mayor Bloomberg is writing to those donors to tell
them to cut off and not support any Senate Democrat who doesn`t get behind
real gun reform.

The four Democratic senators who voted no last time, they received
millions of dollars in support for the last campaigns from these specific
donors who Bloomberg is writing to now. Now, Bloomberg is telling them a
no vote on gun reform should be much to cut them off from that funding
until they change.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval apparently didn`t have the stones to
issue his veto of background checks for gun sales on the exact six-month
anniversary of Sandy Hook. Tomorrow, the anniversary was Governor
Sandoval`s deadline for making a decision but he decided to jump a day
early thus avoiding to have to answer that particular question or to look
in the mirror that particular day.

The clock is ticking for Chris Christie now, too, and for Congress,
too. Tomorrow`s six-month anniversary should be a big deal on this issue.
Watch this space.



REP. ELIZABETH ESTY (D), CONNECTICUT: But here in Washington, here
you have encountered inexplicable political cowardice. In the six months
since that terrible day, since we lost 26 lives in Newtown, Connecticut,
nearly 4,800 fellow Americans have been cut down by gun violence. In that
same time, the House of Representatives has not held a single vote. Not a
single vote on common sense efforts to reduce gun violence.


MADDOW: Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut whose district
includes Newtown. That was her speaking on Capitol Hill today at an event
attended by a number of the Newtown families. Congresswoman Esty joins us
on the eve of the six month milestone since the Sandy Hook Elementary
School shootings.

Congresswoman Esty, thank you very much for being with us tonight.

ESTY: Great to be here. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: So we are seeing activity in Washington and in national
politics this week. Some people are describing it as a new push on gun
reform. Do you see this as a new push? Or is this a -- we`re just now
again noticing the sustained effort that has not been covered as much

ESTY: I think it is a sustained effort, really. It is perhaps
renewed because there is some additional energy around the six-month
anniversary. And frankly, the shootings in Santa Monica last week were a
vivid reminder of continuing price for the political inaction in both the
Senate and House.

MADDOW: Mayor Bloomberg is urging donors even Democratic senators who
will not support common sense gun reform. There is debate within the
Democratic Party we keep reading with some people making the argument to
him, hey, listen, it`s better to help the Democratic Party as a whole
because the party is better on guns than the Republicans are, as a whole,
don`t push these individual members even if they`re not doing -- going your
way on this issue.

What do you think about that strategically?

ESTY: Well, I`ve been keeping my focus tightly on what we needed to
do in the House and Senate. And frankly, I found the single most effective
way to do that is to help ensure that my colleagues in the House and Senate
meet with these families.

The Newtown families are extraordinary. They are extraordinary.
Faced with unimaginable loss, they would have every reason to crawl into a
hole. They would have every reason to be angry beyond belief. But instead
they have responded with compassion and courage and unbelievable resiliency
and dedication.

And the people who meet with them, I spoke with some of my colleagues
today were incredibly moved. And they do find it very hard to look the
families in the eyes and say, I`m not going the do anything. And in fact,
some of my colleagues are so aware of that in both the senate and house
they were refusing to meet with the families.

MADDOW: Still, people are refusing to meet with them. I thought --
seeing the John Boehner and Eric Cantor meeting happening, I thought maybe
those flood gates have opened and people will stop saying no, but people
are still saying no?

ESTY: There are some people saying no, there definitely are, and part
of my mission is to make sure everybody sits down and talks to them,
because it brings home vividly those 4,800 Americans who have died in the
intervening six months of inaction. That is intolerable and inexcusable.

MADDOW: Coming up on this sixth-month milestone, and you are
absolutely right to talk about how this is not a Newtown problem. This is
a national problem. But having gone through what you went through, how is
your district? How are people doing? How are you doing, and is this
milestone important in Newtown?

ESTY: It is, as soon as we finish to vote tomorrow, I`ll be flying
back to Connecticut and joining a vigil and interfaith service. And I was
meeting with some of the families this week, both those who lost family
members, children and daughters and wives, as well as other community
members who are deeply affected.

And one of them shared with me a letter that she had written in the
local paper recently, talking about how six months out, there is a wide
variation of where people are. Some are in mourning, some are deeply
committed and highly involved in this cause. And others are feeling a bit
lost. It`s what you would expect after such a tragedy.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut, whose district
includes Newtown -- thank you very much for your time tonight and best of
luck as you go ahead with the events marking this milestone. I appreciate

ESTY: Thank you, and thank you for your ongoing commitment to not let
this story go away.

MADDOW: Absolutely, thanks.

ESTY: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a much-needed, much-needed best new
thing in the world, coming up. Hold on.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, as a public service to those of our
viewers who have difficulty with their hearing, I will repeat the top story
of the day headed by the headmaster of the New York school for the hard
hearing, Garrett Morris.

Our top story tonight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our top story tonight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the CIA has been involved in attacks on --



MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world: ever since the beginning of
the Internet, back when we were using electronic bulletin boards, and
joining use net networks like, or alt.comedy.slapstick
-- there has been one piece of etiquette that users used since the dawn of
Internet time, that is if you type in all capital letters, it means you are

Earlier example, a user named Ruth in 2003 says, "I have three home
computers and have just purchased Windows XP professional. I have
installed XP on one and activated it. Now, I want to load it on the
others, how do I" -- a fellow user from 2003 named John interrupts and
says, "Stop shouting at everyone," repeat five times.

Yes, we are in an information age, but honestly what that means for
most of us most of the time is in a typing age, and keeping the caps lock
key on while you type is yelling, no matter who you are. This, for
example, is Oprah`s first tweet. 2009, all caps, "Hi tweeters."

Even though she is Oprah, and I have a feeling that nobody ever tells
her what to do, people told her what to do with the yelling. People like
Shaquille O`Neal, the Shaq, the very Twitter literate basketball player.
He responded to Oprah`s first tweet by gently telling her gently, "Your
caps are on, BTW."

When Microsoft Office did their 12 tips for better email etiquette,
they made it a rule, rule number 3, use sentence caps, because using all
capital letters look as if you are shouting. It`s a rule. It`s a rule
right? It`s one of the only ones we`ve got.

One place where it is still normal to write all communications with
the caps lock key on is the United States Navy. Since the mid-19th
century, all official naval messages have been typed in upper case, and
that is in part because the Navy was the adopter of the teletype machine,
which had very limited options for type face, and so it ended up being all
caps all the time.

For decades, all military communiques have been expressed in capital
letters. No sentence case, all caps. But now, writ large, the Navy has
announced that it will henceforth no longer use all caps. Sentence case is
now the accepted form of communication and all naval personnel are hereby
authorized to use mixed case, shift at will -- except, apparently in the
subject line of any official message. They will stay all caps for some
reason, but the body of messages no longer will be constantly inadvertently

The U.S. Navy grasping this newfound opportunity for communicative
nuance is a small thing, but it is the best new thing in the world today.


Have a great night.


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