'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, August 15th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
August 15, 2013
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very, very much.
In November 1981, the United States invaded Egypt by air. Eight
hundred fifty paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina, they
flew -- look at that, they flew from North Carolina to Egypt and dropped
out of the sky all at once.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER (voice-over): Fourteen hours after taking off from North
Carolina, American paratroopers landed in the Egyptian desert. It was the
biggest task so far for the rapid deployment force, 850 members of the 82nd
Airborne, 10 Egyptian paratroopers, and tons of weapons and equipment were
over the drop site precisely on time and on the ground six minutes later.
There were four injuries, the most serious a broken hip.
B-52s dropped 500-pound bombs from 600 feet above the Egyptian desert.
A-10 Thunderbolts and F-16s bombed desert targets and above it all, an
AWACS kept track of the war games. The six B-52s flew 7,000 miles nonstop
from North Dakota to hit the target 70 miles from Cairo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was November 1981, a fake war in Egypt.
It apparently cost one paratrooper a broken hip. Otherwise it was
considered a big success. We`ve been holding big fake wars in Egypt ever
since. The first one was in 1980 after Egypt signed a peace treaty with
Israel. We held a fake war with Egypt, a big military joint training
exercise in 1980. And then, again, we did that really big one in 1981.
And then, everybody had so much fun and it started to turn into such a
big operation with so many tens of thousands of troops participating from
an ever-increasing list of countries that they decided they were going to
have to hold this thing every two years instead of every year because it
took so long to plan and it was so expensive to do. But we have been doing
it biannually every couple of years ever since.
The basic idea is that, well, in part, war games are fun for
militaries, gets to keep everybody on their toes. I`m sure those B-52
pilots in the desert were probably psyched to be able to drop live fire
500-pound bombs in an unfamiliar place. Instead of just the same old
training runs at home.
But also, think about when these started, 1980, 1981 -- peak years of
the Cold War, right, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were trying to
divide the world between them and us. Everybody is expanding their spheres
of influence, right? The U.S. and the USSR pressuring all other countries
in the world to either all with the West or ally with the East. And so,
cementing military ties for the West in Egypt, Egypt which has the biggest
population in the Middle East, in many ways the strongest Arab nation.
Yes, that was reward for them signing a peace treaty with Israel. But
it was also a way to keep them in the West, to keep them on our side of the
And so, now, even today, the Egyptian military uses Abrams tanks built
by General Dynamics. They fly Boeing Apache attack helicopters. Their
fighter jet pilots fly Lockheed Martin F-16s.
And every two years since the early 1980s, these giant war games,
these giant fake wars in Egypt, they further cement the military
relationship between Egypt and the West. They cement the interoperability
of Egypt`s troops with American troops. And now all the other countries
that participate or that formally observe those war games, too.
By 1999, there were 70,000 troops taking part in the biannual fake war
in Egypt. That year, 11 countries had troops participating. Another 30 or
so countries were there to formally observe the fake war.
The fake war planned that year, 1999, was to defend Egypt from a made
up country called Orangeland. And in the war game plan, Orangeland had
invaded and was trying to take control of the Nile. So the allies had to
work together to defeat the fake Orangeland forces. I hope the Dutch
weren`t offended, or Syracuse.
In the 30-plus years that we have been staging these fake wars,
Operation Bright Star, fake wars in Egypt, the fake war has only been
called off a handful of times and it`s usually called off because of a real
war. Operation Bright Star was called off in 1992 because of the First
Gulf War, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and then the U.S. invaded Iraq.
Again, in 2003, we were too busy invading Iraq for a second time to
bother with fake invading Egypt or helping Egypt fend off some other fake
invader. Then again, though, in 2011, it was called off. In the midst of
the Arab Spring, Egypt, itself, was too busy having a real national crisis
to bother with pretending to have another one. Egypt`s protesting in the
streets overthrowing their own government, deposing dictator Hosni Mubarak
after nearly three decades in power.
Since then Egyptians, have elected and installed and overthrown
another government and now with the military in charge, this military?
Which we have invested decades in our interrelationship, billions of
dollars in equipment, more than $1 billion in additional military aid every
year, now with that close ally to our military in charge of Egypt, this
week blood runs in the streets of that country.
Yesterday in Cairo and Suez and Alexandria. Today in Cairo, again, in
Giza and the shadow of the pyramids. Across Egypt, the supporters of the
most recently ousted president from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi,
they were cut down for a second day in the streets by police and troops
under control of the military that now runs that country.
Yesterday`s death toll is now considered to be over 600 people killed.
Today`s death toll is not yet clear.
In response to the violence, President Obama, today, interrupted his
vacation to make a formal statement and to call off this year`s Operation
Bright Star in Egypt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While we want to
sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot
continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights
are being rolled back. As a result, this morning, we notified the Egyptian
government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise which
was scheduled for next month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In three decades, the only other times we have canceled our
biannual fake wars with Egypt were for real wars and real revolutions.
Is what`s happening in Egypt right now either of those things? And
what has our close, very close relationship with that country`s military
bought us now in terms of influence, now that the military is in charge of
that country? And what other options do we have that might make any
difference at all to what is happening in that country`s streets?
Joining us now live from Cairo is NBC News correspondent Ayman
Ayman, thank you so much for staying us into the middle of the night
to be with us. I really appreciate it.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: What can you tell us about the situation in Cairo and around
Egypt today? Compared with yesterday? Whether it seems like the situation
is settling down at all or whether it`s going to continue the way it has
MOHYELDIN: Well, two things.
One, this scope of what happened yesterday is still being realized
today on a humanitarian level and on a political level. When we were
talking about the death toll yesterday, we didn`t have a sense of how bad
it was going to be. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood was saying thousands of
supporters were killed. The death tolls began very low from the official
government sources. But by the end of today, we are still getting a better
picture of the kind of human toll these casualties or, rather, these
crackdowns have resulted in.
We`re looking at a number of 600 or so killed so far. There are still
hundreds of bodies that are laying in a mosque that are still unidentified,
unaccounted for. So, people are expecting that number to go up in the
coming hours, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning, and against that
backdrop, a tremendous amount of political uncertainty here.
Today, the government ratcheting up its use of force saying they will
use live ammunition against protesters, if, in fact, these protesters
continue to try and attack government buildings, churches, police stations,
courthouses, like we saw today.
So, there is no backing down on either side, and it has created a
second night of anxiety here in the capital of Cairo and across the country
for this second night of also the emergency law and curfew that has been
MADDOW: Ayman, obviously, the two sides here are the government,
police and security forces. Military on one side, and on the other side,
the Muslim Brotherhood, supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.
What about everybody else? How was the general public coping? People
who are anti-Morsi but not part of the government? People who may not have
participated in the protests throughout any of these protests over the last
few years, how are people generally anticipating coping with this?
MOHYELDIN: Well, this is exactly what makes the situation on the
ground so complex. The word that everybody uses to describe Egypt these
days, polarized. Egypt is a polarized country today because everybody on
one hand has some legitimacy and correct assumptions in their argument, but
they`re also incorrect.
And as you mentioned, the people that are caught in the middle,
ordinary Egyptians are divided. On one hand, over the year of the term of
President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptians grew frustrated with his rule. They
were not happy with his governing system. The economy got worse.
For ordinary Egyptians, they simply wanted their lives to get better.
That did not happen. That`s why a popular revolt took place on June 30th.
The military on the other hand has interpreted that as a mandate for
it to return to power and in some cases abuse that mandate that was given
to it in cracking down on protests like we`ve seen. So, it has angered
some Egyptians, and that`s why many people here are very cautious about the
return of the military in a very strong way, dominating the country`s
politics. Attempting to try and put back its role in Egyptian society.
The question, or not, really that everyone is worried about is how genuine
will the military be?
Now, there were some reasons to believe the military was going to be
genuine, but when we see incidents like yesterday unfold, it gives people
here a moment of pause. They lived under military rule for 60 years. So
there is growing concern that, perhaps, the military`s active over the past
48 hours is going to set this country back on a whole host of issues, most
importantly, civil liberties, individual freedoms, political gains that
have been real life since 2011.
But make no mistake about it. Thus brotherhood is not popular.
People are not rallying behind them. People rejected what they did over
the course of the last year and over the course of the last several weeks.
The anger, though, is divided between how they govern and whether or not
what happened yesterday was a proportionate use of force to try and restore
security across the country.
MADDOW: And that will continue, of course, to get more and more
acute. That sense. As the security forces, as you say, pledge to use live
fire and not to back down at all. This is just an incredibly tense
NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin -- Ayman, thank you for staying
up for us. I really appreciate it. Stay safe.
MOHYELDIN: You`re welcome. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. There`s a lot of other news in the world today,
including an incredibly excellent botched job by the rightiest of the right
wing corners of the American political world. A screw-up that gets close
to the very important issue of the "X Men." That story is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN CAMPBELL, WATAUGA CO. BOARD OF ELECTIONS: This is where the
majority of the people in New River, it`s right next to the armory. That`s
where this big huge population thing is and you`re going to have to drive
all the way out of the city limits over here to bamboo road to vote. This
is just stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This tape is from Watauga County in western North Carolina.
It happened on Monday night this week.
And what you see there on one level looks like a little local level
dispute for a county in North Carolina, but it turns out that what happened
there is also a sign of something really big going on in that state.
And from a national perspective, what everybody can tell is going on
in North Carolina is that there are these weekly protests going on, right?
These protests by liberal groups, African-American groups, protesting.
People getting arrested by the dozens, sometimes by the hundreds, week
after week, trying to get national attention to what`s going on in North
Carolina. So, from the national level, those weekly protests are easy to
You can also from the national level, there`s something going on with
the state`s Republican governor. His approval rating has gone through the
floor. It`s the lowest it`s been since he took office.
Pat McCrory is down to a 39 percent approval rating, which is like
Paul LePage, Rick Scott territory. It`s just terrible.
Well, on Monday, the day that meeting you just saw in Watauga County,
this deeply unpopular governor, Pat McCrory, signed into law what`s being
described as the worst voter suppression bill in country. Elections expert
Rick Hasan, who`s you`ve seen on this show a bunch of times, he`s professor
at University of North Carolina, says looking at the North Carolina bill
pat McCrory just signed, he says it is the worst voter suppression bill
signed into law in any state since 1965 when the Voting Rights Act passed.
But what`s becoming clear all of a sudden this week in North Carolina
is that that bill, that radical bill, that huge overhaul of North Carolina
voting rights that Pat McCrory signed on Monday, that is not a standalone
thing. It apparently is just part of an overall plan, a multipart plan to
radically change democracy in that state -- a plan that includes more than
just this new law that`s already being put into effect. You can see it
happening this week in these counties.
This is Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Look.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Obviously part of their promo video, the very friendly, hot,
hot, hot, Appalachian State University in the northwest county of North
Carolina, in Boone, Watauga County, North Carolina. Watauga County went
for Mitt Romney in the presidential election but just barely. It was
The specific voter precincts in Boone, in and around Appalachian
state, those precincts actually went for Barack Obama by a lot. Those
precincts by for Barack Obama by such big margins that they almost dragged
the rest of the county with them, but the county ultimately went for Romney
by a hair.
Now, of course, students at Appalachian State are about to find from
here on out it`s going to be a lot harder to vote in North Carolina. The
new law signed by Governor McCrory this week is going to slash early voting
in state, cutting same-day voter registration. Most importantly, you`ll be
blocked from voting in the state unless you show a government-issued ID.
Even if you go to a public university like Appalachian State
University and your student ID is therefore provided to you by the state,
your Appalachian state student ID will not count for voting. Nobody will
be allowed to vote in the state if their state ID is a student ID. Wow.
That is the new law in North Carolina.
But here is the other thing that has changed alongside it. When Pat
McCrory got elected last year, he was the first Republican governor elected
in North Carolina since the `80s. And when he got elected, he appointed a
whole new board of elections for the state. He appointed a Republican
majority board of elections. That board has now systemically been
replacing the local elections boards all around the state with local
And so what you see here is the brand new Republican majority local
board where Appalachian state is saying, hey, students, hey, you Obama-
voting students, this new law, the Republican governor just signed, it`s
going to make it way harder for you to vote, but we think it`s not hard
enough. We`re going to make it even tougher.
So before now, in that town in Boone, early voting took place at two
spots in town and one spot on campus. Now, the Republicans on the local
board are getting rid of on-campus voting altogether. They`re combining
all three of those polling places into one. And the one that they`re
picking is not at the school.
For regular voting on Election Day, they`re also taking three
precincts and rolling them into one. The one place is, as you might guess,
also not on campus. Altogether, the one polling place the Republicans are
assigning now where there used to be three, that polling place will be
expected to serve more than 9,000 people, 9,300 people at that one polling
place, which has 35 parking places. What could possibly go wrong?
At the county meeting on Monday, the lone Democrat left on the local
board asked whether 9,300 people being crammed into the same off campus
voting precinct might not just be an awful lot to expect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL: Jane Ann, what`s the current state guideline for the
maximum number of voters in one precinct?
JANE ANN HODGES, BOARD OF ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: The last guideline that
I recall receiving was probably in 1990.
CAMPBELL: And what was the maximum number of voters in the guideline?
HODGES: If I recall correctly, 1,500.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fifteen hundred?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fifteen hundred? Fifteen hundred? Fifteen hundred voters
per precinct is the state guideline. But now, they`re going to make this
one for 9,300 people, at a site with less than 40 parking places. Also, no
more voting at school.
And another voting site that they are moving people to in town is nice
and far away from where most of the people in town even live.
So, good luck trying to vote in Boone, North Carolina. Good luck
Appalachian State students. Serves you right for who you tend to vote for
and the fact you tend to vote.
This is an important part of the story that`s just now becoming clear.
It`s not just that the Republicans passed this law to make voting harder
everywhere in the state, they`ve almost systemically top-down taken over
the voting process at the local level. They`re just pulling all the
silverware drawers out and dumping everything out all over the floor.
If you think it`s bad for Appalachian State, may I introduce you to
Elizabeth City State University? Elizabeth City State University is a
small historically black college in the northeastern corner of the state.
In Elizabeth City, in their county there, it`s the same deal. Republican
Governor Pat McCrory stacked the state board of elections which has now
stacked the local board.
And now, with the new law in place and the brand new Republican
majority on the local board, the county chairman for the Republican Party,
the county chairman decided he was going to challenge the residency of this
guy. His name is Montravias King.
Montravias King is a civic-minded guy. He`s been registered to vote
at the college in Elizabeth City since he got there in 2009. He will be a
senior this fall. He has worked on voting drives to get his fellow
students to the polls, so they vote. He served as president of his
University`s NAACP chapter. This year, Mr. King decided he wanted to run
for city council.
He says he wants to stay in Elizabeth City after he graduates and he
wants to help Elizabeth City, see how great it is. What an asset it is to
the city to have all those students in town. Well, this week at the county
board, the Republican Party chairman stepped in and said no. He formally
challenged Mr. King`s right to run for office by challenging his residency.
Montravias King has lived there and been registered to vote there and
has indeed voted there since 2009. But the chairman of the county
Republican Party says as far as he`s concerned, you don`t live here
anymore. And the new Republican majority board heard the challenge on
And the new Republican majority board said, yes, you know what, kid,
you don`t live here anymore. You cannot run for city council. We no
longer consider you to be a resident. You do not qualify.
Since apparently the rules for qualifying to run as a candidate are
the same as qualifying to vote so says the local paper, "The Elizabeth City
Daily Advance." That means if a student at the local college is disallowed
for running for office, presumably this means they`ll disallow him from
voting as well. And why stop with just him? I mean, if this works,
Republicans could disenfranchise the whole school, right? That`s
apparently their plan.
The Republican Party county chairman tells reporters that he intends
to challenge the residency of other students at the local historically
black college now, too. He`s urging Republicans in college towns across
North Carolina to do the same with their new Republican majority boards of
elections, installed systemically by Republican Governor Pat McCrory. Do
this across the state. Let`s end students` voting across North Carolina.
He told "The Associated Press", quote, "I plan to take this show on
North Carolina Republicans clearly think they`re going to get away
with this. For the record, it is blatantly illegal, blatantly
unconstitutional. It has been since the 1970s. Since 1979 when this U.S.
Supreme Court ruled that students, in fact, have the constitutional right
to register to vote and to vote where they go to school.
That case began at another historically black college at Prairie View
A&M in Texas, where the county didn`t want to let the black students vote
there either. The Supreme Court intervened and said Texas had to let them
vote. This is not a subtle gray areas in the law kind of thing. This is
as clear as it gets.
But the Republicans in North Carolina are doing it anyway, right now,
this week. And until somebody stops North Carolina Republicans from what
they are doing, it is 1979 all over again, or I guess 1964 all over again?
The Republican governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory has his approval
ratings in the toilet. He`s already paying the price for the whiplash
radical turn the state has taken under his Republican leadership. But it
is not one man it`s clear now. It`s a statewide plan and statewide effort.
The more you look at what Republicans are doing in North Carolina
right now, the more it makes sense why Democrats and African-American
voters have been getting arrested by the dozens, by the hundreds, week
after week trying to get rest of the country to notice the kind of
radicalism that is going on there right now.
MADDOW: You might be familiar with the comic book and now movie
awesomeness that is the "X-Men." In the comics and the movies, the "X-
Men", of course, are superheroes. They are mutants who use their
superpowers to fight for humanity and against evil.
And, of course, in the comics as in real life, in order to be real
heroes, the "X-Men" need real enemies to fight against -- deadly,
terrifying, bent on destruction bad guy enemies, which everyone in country
now needs to explain to the Heritage Foundation because apparently they
don`t get it.
An effort to try to help the nation`s most prominent right wing think
tank, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Do you know the name of the villain in
this movie? Bane. The villain in the "Dark Knight Rises" is named Bane.
What is the name of the venture capital firm Romney ran and around
which there is this make believe controversy? Bain.
The movie has been in the works for a long time, a release has been
known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental
that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever it
is villain in this movie is named Bane?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the dog days o the 2012 presidential campaign, right wing
talk show host Rush Limbaugh found something not just objectionable in the
"Dark Knight Rises", the new Batman movie, he found something
conspiratorial. Specifically, he thought it was fishy that the liberals in
Hollywood had come up with some movie villain called Bane. Bane.
Can you believe that? Exactly when Mitt Romney was running for
president and he had run a company called Bain. Oh, the liberal
Except that Bane the Batman villain was created in 1993 and frankly in
1993 Mitt Romney wasn`t even registered as a Republican. But still,
conspiracy. Someone invented a time machine to go back in history and make
the Batman villain remind you of a Republican in the future or something.
I wish I could smoke whatever that man smokes. I don`t have the
constitution for it, but anyway.
Now, a year after the Bane conspiracy, same thing is kind of happening
again but it`s backwards this time. To the naked eye, these seem like
ordinary nice conservative ladies merely out to end the IRS as you do. But
these are not ordinary nice conservative ladies. These are the Sentinels
of the Heritage Foundation. The Sentinels.
And as sentinels, they are honor bound to the Heritage Foundation to
hold Congress accountable to conservative principles. Right now, the
Heritage Foundation has this group of activists that they call the
Sentinels, writing letters to the editor, calling talk radio, tweeting,
posting on Facebook, blah, blah blah.
The Heritage Foundation wants an army of activists. And so, it has
formed the sentinels, to be their army. And when Heritage says Sentinel,
they mean for you to imagine this colonial-era guy which they put on their
Sentinels logo. Kind of looks like a Minuteman, actually. See, the
Minuteman brand, that was already taken, by the missile, and then by the
anti-immigrant hardcore conservative activists who go around on the weekend
pretending they`re the border patrol even though they`re not.
So, Minuteman was taken. Also it`s kind of gender specific. So, the
Heritage folks decided to go with the Sentinels instead. It would be
perfect, except for lots of people in America, the Sentinels have been a
thing in pop culture since 1965, thanks to Marvel comics. Come on, the
Sentinels, among the greatest comic book villains in the history of the
comic book villains. The Sentinels are robots who decide to dominate
humanity for our own good.
We are the Sentinels. Our brain is superior to your brain.
It`s hard to believe that the Heritage Foundation didn`t know this,
didn`t Google it. But the Sentinels are part of the "X-Men" series. It`s
not an old dusty long forgotten thing. The "X-Men" thing is kind of
popular right now. You guys could look it up. I mean, right now, they`re
designing the costume for the evil sentinel villains in the "X-Men" movies.
It comes out next year. Just the other day, very excited "X-Men" fans were
passing around this picture of what the giant Sentinels costume might look
like in the new movie.
So, this is what everybody thinks of when we already do think of the
Sentinels. And this is what everybody already thinks of when we already do
think of the Sentinels. Zap fry! Submit to my superior brain.
This is the one where it says, in this issue, look, everybody dies.
Hey, Heritage Foundation, these are the sentinels. Run for your life.
Heritage Foundation is turning out to be one of the more amazing
things in this iteration of conservative politics we`re living through
right now, ever since they hired Jim DeMint to be their president. Senator
DeMint managed to breeze through eight years in the U.S. Senate without a
single landmark law to call his own.
For a place that wants to style itself as a think tank, a policy shop,
a research institution, Jim DeMint was a weird hire to be their president.
Heritage hired him and put him in charge. One of his first big acts as the
boss, heritage released a report on why the nation should not pass
immigration reform. The argument was basically that immigrants are always
on welfare. They take, take, take -- because they`re low achieving and
uneducated and basically dumb.
That report was presented to the nation as science. It was co-
authored by a Heritage Foundation policy analyst named Jason Richwine, PhD.
So, science, right?
It turned out Jason Richwine PhD had done his doctoral dissertation on
the idea that immigrations -- excuse me, that immigrants are dumb, that
immigrants are naturally not as smart as everyone else. And the brown
people in particular are not only not as smart, they might be unable to get
This guy had been peddling his pseudo-quantitative version of a non-
sense racist bumper sticker on white supremacist Web sites before he took
his road show to the Heritage Foundation where they hired him and slapped
his credential next to the Heritage Foundation logo and told conservatives
how to vote. This is the Heritage Foundation, the nation`s preeminent
conservative think tank under Jim DeMint. This is the self-styled center
of conservative thought in 2013.
Now, they have this new project trying to convince Republicans
everybody will be super OK with it if the Republicans shut down the
government. Look at this. Heritage Action, submit to my superior brain.
The Sentinels, right?
Heritage Action released a new poll designed to make Republicans take
the leap to shut down the government over Obamacare. Heritage is saying
trust us, House majority not at stake. It will be fine if we shut down the
And, look, their unique take on this is getting pickup. Here`s the
same poll reported in "Politico". Poll shows shutdown blame would be
split. In the case of a potential government shutdown, less than a third
of people would blame Republicans.
"The Washington Post" had a slightly more accurate take. Quote, "Just
how stupid does heritage think Republican politicians are?"
Heritage poll was a pseudo-poll conducted by a conservative polling
firm, a push poll with loaded questions asked in mostly Republican
districts in order to get the answer that Heritage wants. Here`s an
example of the way they asked the question. Check this out.
This is how the heritage poll asked respondents if they`d support
Republicans shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. This is how
they worded the question. In order to get President Obama to agree to at
least have a time-out on implementing the health care law and it`s full
effects, would you approve or disapprove of a temporary slowdown in
nonessential federal government operations which still left all essential
government services running?
Slightly different from -- do you support government shutdown to
The other aspect of this poll that Heritage has been trying to sell is
that this poll represents America as a whole. This isn`t just a poll of
the Republican base. This is a representative of all Americans, right?
So, they explain that they polled people in 10 different congressional
districts. And, OK, yes, six of those districts are currently represented
by Republicans in the House but four represented by Democrats. So, this
poll they`re trying to say is pretty broadly representative of Republican-
leaning districts but not safe Republican districts.
Looking at one of those not safe Republican districts in that Heritage
poll that will show us that bipartisan America would be totally cool with a
government shutdown, this is West Virginia`s third district, one of the
districts in the poll that was held up as a not safe Republican district.
A member of Congress from West Virginia`s district here is, in fact, a
But look at how this district voted in the presidential election.
They voted for Mitt Romney by more than 30 percent.
This is North Carolina`s seventh district, another in a Heritage poll
cited as an example of a non-safe Republican district and, yes, they do
have a Democratic member of Congress, too, but they voted for Mitt Romney
by 20 percent in the last election.
So, this is not random behavior, right? There`s a logic to what the
Republicans and the conservatives are doing here. It`s just really deeply
flawed logic. They didn`t poll the representative sample of Americans.
Most of whom said, yes, shut down the government. We won`t blame you guys.
Heritage presented it that way. What they really did was poll super-
Republican districts that went for Mitt Romney by 20 points and 30 points
and in those districts people push polled with a leading question favoring
a Republican idea said, yes, they like the Republican idea.
And this kind of nonsense is happening at the same time that the
Republican Party is now openly musing about not wanting real news
organizations to moderate any of their primary debates next time. Instead
they want their primary debates to be moderated by, hey, maybe Rush
Limbaugh or Mark Levine, or anyone interested in Republicans having power.
The communications director for the RNC was asked about this recently.
He said, quote, "Mark Levin should ask the questions." Reportedly, he went
on to say that that way, the grassroots conservatives would have debate
questioner who thinks like them.
The same logic is at work with the fake polling, which is that the
Republicans are not trying to appeal to the country. They`re not trying to
compete in a way designed to win general elections. They just want to be
elected prom king of right wing senior high, right? They just want to make
the base happy. They want to get as pure as they possibly can.
It is as if the Republican Party is constantly auditioning for the
Rush Limbaugh audience.
But the Heritage Foundation is giving them advice about how to do it,
because they`re experts on how conservative actions are perceived in
America, which is why they just named their activist group after one of the
most famous comic book villains of all time.
Why is the conservative movement doing this right now? I do not know,
but liberals are very psyched about it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANDREA TANTAROS: Chairman, what do you think about a talk radio
debate where maybe I get together with my buddy Sean Hannity and maybe a
Mark Levin and we interview some of the candidates? Because the base I
think would like that.
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Listen, I --
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: He goes on to say I think that was a pretty good idea. Why
not, you know? Why not have the Republican primary debates be moderated by
right wing talk radio hosts? Isn`t that what the country is looking for,
for the next potential president?
At the same time that the RNC is considering this, conservative
activist groups are now telling Republican members of Congress that they
should go ahead and shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare.
They`re saying, don`t pay attention to what happened in 1995 when
there was a huge backlash against Republicans when they shut down the
government. Don`t pay attention to anything in your common sense that
might tell you that America won`t like Republican members of Congress
shutting down the government. Believe us when we tell you that we`ve push
polled on the issue and we`ve come up with a way to tell you it`s going to
What exactly is the Republican Party auditioning for right now? What
exactly are they trying to win?
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki -- Steve, thanks very much for being
STEVE KORNACKI, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Happy to be here. Yes.
MADDOW: So the audition here, if the Republican primaries happen
before right wing talk show hosts, is presumably for them to make the right
wing talk show hosts like them. Is this an electoral strategy or a fund-
raising strategy? What is this?
KORNACKI: Well, no, I think it`s a symptom of what we really see in
the post-George W. Bush Republican party, which is the incentive structure
is completely out of whack in the party right now, where it used to be
pretty simple. And you can even look at how George W. Bush became
president. It was the overpowering incentive in the Republican Party was
And so, in the 1990s, they lost. They lost on the government shutdown
in 1995. They lost on the `96 election when Clinton won again. They lost
And what they conclude from that? They said, we have to find a way to
win an election. So, you`ve got George W. Bush and compassionate
KORNACKI: It`s a totally different game. They said compassionate
conservative was big government conservatism and it spoiled the good name
of conservatism and gave us Barack Obama.
So, you have two sort of competing things, two sort of complimentary
things going on in the conservative movement right now, one is sort of
standard. Beat the other party`s guy. Beat Barack Obama.
But the other one is there`s no such thing in a post-Bush world of
being too pure in the Republican Party. What that exactly means from a
policy and agenda standpoint, I don`t know, nobody`s articulated yet.
But there`s this constant battle now, constant reinforcement for
people who seek out the most pure position, most pure label and you can
gain stature, you can gain prominence and you can make a lot of money on
the conservative side by claiming the most pure ground now, even if it
doesn`t mean winning national election. There have always been people who
are making that argument, though, within Republican politics, because it
helped their bottom line, because they were ideologically devoted to that
that, because it made sense for them, instrumentally, even if they realized
that maybe it wasn`t going to be the best thing for the party winning
Right now, though, I feel like we`ve got the Heritage Foundation
really pushing Republicans in that direction. We`ve got the RNC really
sort of thinking about going in that direction. We`ve got an ascendant
power base, particularly in the Senate among Republicans, that`s really
going in that direction, what are the countervailing sources?
KORNACKI: Well, that`s, at a certain point, you know, you look ahead
to the 2016 election, at the certain point, you wonder, are there enough
sort of elites left in the Republican Party, that sort of opinion-shaping
forces, whether it is donors or elected officials, activists, who still
have that sort of bottom line that they want the win back the White House.
Are there enough of them left that they can sort of give cover to a
candidate who is not going to cater to the talk radio crowd on everything?
And that`s what sort of what saved the Republican Party in the past.
You think back to the Clinton years, in 1994, they went far to the right,
the Gingrich revolution, the shut down forces, and all this. But there
were still -- that incentive was still in place, enough for Bob Dole, sort
of the more of the establishment Republicans to win the nomination in 1996.
The question is, is that still going to be in place in 2016? The
problem is, it`s harder than ever for sort of pragmatic, sort of
establishment Republican to couch their agenda, to couch their rhetoric in
a way that simultaneously appeals to a general election audition and keeps
the base from saying betrayal.
It was a lot easier even 20 years ago than it is now.
MADDOW: And it was hard 20 years ago.
KORNACKI: It was hard 20 years ago, right.
MADDOW: There`s almost nobody was even trying to help them bridge
that gap. I find this fascinating. I think the collapse of the Heritage
Foundation, into essentially a bad direct mail organization, is rapid and
KORNACKI: The Heritage Foundation which gave us the roots to
Obamacare one day, you know? And now, it`s this.
MADDOW: The policy.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, host of "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" here on
MSNBC -- Steve, thanks very much.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right, big news about the very near future is coming up next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here is an idea to start with this morning. And the idea is
Quaaludes. Quaaludes used to be a thing, right? In the `70s, Quaaludes
were a very widely abused drug. In 1981, the DEA said the most used drug
in the nation was pot, but the second most used drug was Quaaludes.
Quaaludes abuse was on phase on those early 1980s to equal the severity of
the heroin problem within just a couple of years.
Now, there were two ways you could get Quaaludes if you wanted to get
high on Quaaludes. You could get the brand made prescription pill, which
was made by a drug company or you could cook them up illegally.
But there is a reason that there is not a Quaalude problem in the
United States anymore, and it is that the basic compound that you need, the
basic chemical compounds that you need, which was put together by Indian
scientists in the 1950s, it`s very hard to make. It`s too hard to make in
a sort of cook shop doper lab anywhere, even if you`re sort of a good cook
shop laboratory scientist.
So, in order to make the drug illegally, what the cartels would do,
because they could not make the basic compound, they would have to purchase
it. So they would bulk purchase it from this small handful of professional
large-scale factories who were making that compound legitimately. There
were only four of them -- Germany, Austria, Hungary, and China, four large
We think of the drug war as mostly a futile enterprise, right? I
mean, basically, a worthy idea, but basically futile. There is not a
Quaalude problem in the United States anymore. You can ask your druggie
friends. They used to call Quaalude disco biscuit, ask people who remember
what a disco biscuit is, they will tell you they cannot get it anymore.
But what was on track to equal heroin in this country doesn`t exist
anymore, and that`s because it was beatable. There was only one legal
manufacturer of the pills. And so, at a policy level, we banned the legal
sale of the drug and made sure that one manufacturer complied. In terms of
the illegal sales, we convinced or bought off those four factories who made
that complicated base level chemical compound. We convinced them or bought
them off so that they should stop selling it in bulk. And so, the U.S. has
no Quaalude problem anymore.
Whatever you think about the drug war, I wanted to raise this story
this morning, because as a non-scientist, I`m here to tell you that the
general public in the United States thinks that the whole idea of human
effort to combat climate change is futile, that the whole idea of
environmental science is the complex and nuance measurement of hopeless,
slow motion catastrophe.
That basically, you guys work to tell us the horrible consequence of
our behavior, but we believe that broadly seeking to change our behavior
now is not possible in any meaningful scale, and also not going to make a
difference anyway. In the mind of the general public, broadly speaking,
the earth is now the drug war -- worthy, maybe, but basically futile.
So what are the Quaalude stories? What are the things that can be
explained about achievements in environmental protection and environmental
science that can help us all, even not the true believers, that can help us
all understand that all of this distinguished work is not just about
writing the chronicle of the death we`re told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was earlier this year at the Tyler Prize, which is the
nation`s preeminent award for scientist achievement on the environment.
It`s a little intimidating out there with the Nobel Prize winners, the
genius grant winners, these scientists who figured why we had a hole in the
ozone layers, and why we needed to save the rain forests.
I don`t do much public speaking, this was very intimidating for me.
But I was trying to get this idea of how we talk about really big problems,
because something that seems impossible never seems like it`s worth working
on -- something as big as the temperature of the earth being wrong seems
like a dumb problem to work on, because it`s just too big, right? What
could we ever do to affect something that big?
Well, now, I`m happy to say that the smartest guy in this building,
the smartest guy in this whole business I work in, I think, has figured
some of these out. His name is Chris Hayes, and he has a new MSNBC
documentary premiering here tomorrow night that takes these stuff on and
really makes it all makes sense.
I don`t want to spoil it. But MSNBC`s new documentary which is called
"The Politics of Power" is really good and it premiers here on MSNBC
tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Plan to watch it, and I will see you then
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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