THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
July 7, 2014
Guest: Wayne Slater, Clay Jenkins
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks a lot, man.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK. The largest privately held corporation in the United States is
called Cargill. Cargill makes all sorts of food. They make palm oil.
They have a really big coco plantation. I think a few of them around the
Every single egg that gets eaten in a McDonald`s restaurant in the
United States of America goes through a Cargill facility at one point or
another in its life span. Cargill is a massive company that`s got their
hands in everything, including lots of everyday products that people use
all the time.
But you cannot buy stock in Cargill. They are private. They are a
family-owned company. And despite how huge that company is, and how
ubiquitous their products are, neither the Cargill Company nor the family
who owns them, are particularly famous in either a good way or in a bad
way. They are pretty low profile, right?
The splashiest extracurricular thing about the family that owns
Cargill is that they`ve made Cargill the t-shirt sponsor for a minor league
soccer team in Britain. That`s pretty much it.
This is the team. This is their logo. It`s got a cute fuzzy little
cow on it. It`s I -- I don`t know if they say it Hereford there?
Hereford, I don`t know, I`m sorry. I`m not great with cows.
But Cargill advertises on their shirts. At least they used to. And
that`s pretty much it.
They do not have a very high public profile for the largest privately
held corporation in United States of America.
Contrast that with the family that owns the second largest privately
held company in America, that would be the Koch family and Koch Industries.
Koch Industries made Charles and David Koch two of the wealthiest men in
the world when they inherited the oil and chemical company that bears the
family name. They inherited the company from their father who was named
Fred Koch. That`s how -- that`s how the Koch brothers got so rich. They
inherited that company from their dad.
And by sheer coincidence they decided, they found, that the best
qualified person in the whole world to run Koch Industries fertilizer, the
best person in the whole world to run that huge division of their dad`s
huge company, happens to be one of their own sons. Imagine the
coincidence. He`s the best qualified man in the world to do this job, and
he`s right there in the family. His name is Chase Koch. Chase, who is
carrying on the Koch family tradition of dad mysteriously deciding that you
are the most qualified man for the job. And you happen to have the same
last name. It`s crazy, right?
In September of last year, that young man who got the job from dad,
Chase Koch, he was struck with a sudden desire to give this man a lot of
money. This man is the attorney general of the state of Texas.
OK. This is the Koch Industries fertilizer plant that`s in
Sweetwater, Texas. This plant reportedly now handles a large amount of
nitrogen-based fertilizer, but state records show that it fairly recently
had stored more than 10,000 pounds of a fertilizer that`s called ammonium
And even if you know as much about fertilizer as I know about cows,
even if you know nothing about fertilizer, you probably know the name
ammonium nitrate because of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God Almighty. (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
Oh, my Lord.
Get in the truck. Get in the truck. Oh, my Lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That explosion was about 200 miles east of the Koch
Industries fertilizer plant in Sweetwater, Texas. Those images were taken
and these images were taken last April in the town of West, Texas, which is
just south of Dallas.
The aftermath of the massive ammonium nitrate explosion at the
fertilizer plant in that town in West, Texas, left a 90-foot wide crater as
if a daisy cutter bomb had been left on the town. Fifteen people were
killed, more than 200 people were injured. A whole portion of the town
basically was just vaporized. Hundreds of buildings destroyed or damaged.
Given the size of the blast in that town of West, Texas, it is a
miracle there were not more than 15 people killed. Look at the structures
where that were destroyed. I mean, the buildings heavily damaged or
totally destroyed by that blast included, oh, an apartment building, a
nursing home, three schools.
After that explosion happened, after the immediate needs for rescue
and recovery in that town, it was just stunning to look back at what had
been there. To look at the aerial views of that small town and realize
that both the town middle school and the town high school essentially
abutted -- they backed right up on to this plant.
You see the fertilizer facility there in the center? It`s got a lot
of white roads in the middle there. Look at the middle school backs right
on to it, and West High School backs right on to the back lot of it. They
abut. They back on to this plant that was storing 30, 40, 50, 60 tons of
highly explosive material.
Two months before that explosion in West, Texas, officials at the
middle school, that middle school that backs right up on to the plant
noticed that somebody had the bright idea to do a big brush pile burn -- to
burn a big pile of cut brush right next to the fertilizer plant and,
therefore, right next to the middle school. It was sort of a controlled
burn in the sense that it wasn`t a wildfire. It had been set on purpose.
But it was a brush fire next to all that explosive fertilizer packed into
that plant, while school was in session right next door.
And so, the school, when they saw that controlled burn, they made the
decision to evacuate. To get all the kids away in case that fertilizer
plant went up. So, we know folks in town knew the fertilizer plant was
there. They knew at least some of the dangers of having a plant like that
there with all that explosive fertilizer stored there. We know that
because of that evacuation in February where thank God, the plant did not
go off like a bomb that day.
But it did go off like a bomb two months later. And when it did, for
anybody nearby, it really was like the freaking end of the world.
The reason that that plant full of explosives was in the middle of
all those schools and the nursing home and the apartment building was all
packed right around it is because there were literally no zoning laws there
at all. So, the only rule about where you could put your house your or
business of any kind is whether or not you (a), owned the property, and (b)
could fit it in there. No zoning rules at all in terms of what can be
right next to each other.
Also, there`s no statewide fire code in Texas at all. I mean, it`s
not like they have a statewide fire code and the Texas one is lax and lets
you get away with a lot you can`t get away with other places. No, I mean,
there is no state fire code at all in Texas.
And beyond that, Texas state law bans local communities from
establishing their own fire codes at the municipal or county level. So, it
is literally illegal in the state of Texas to require fire alarms, fire
exits, sprinklers, anything like that.
And at this fertilizer plant in West, Texas, the explosive fertilizer
was stored in wooden bins, in a mostly wooden building. There was no alarm
system of any kind. There was no firewall system of any kind. There were
And that would be amazing even if we didn`t know that people also
occasionally started brush fires out back for fun.
Since what happened in West, there`s been a review by the chemical
safety board which is a federal agency that reviews these things in the
same way that the NTSB is the federal agency that reviews plane crashes
after they happen. The chemical safety board -- they did a review of what
happened in west and, you know, can`t require anybody to do anything, but
they can diagnose what went wrong and they can make recommendations.
And when they look at what happened in west, they say, yes, that was
The state fire marshal in Texas also doesn`t have legal authority to
require anybody to do anything. Remember, this is the state with no fire
codes. But the fire marshal for the state ever since West happened, he`s
been traveling all over the state saying we really ought to change the way
we handle this stuff even though you won`t give me the authority to require
The local press has been in on the issue as well. The ABC station in
Dallas, which is called WFAA, they`ve recovered a place in East Texas which
they have identified as basically another one of these things waiting to
happen. Like the fertilizer plant in the town of West, this is mostly
wooden structure, at least a partially wooden structure. One that`s even
closer to the center of town that it`s in. So, basically, directly
adjacent to the town`s center, the main town`s center, town square in
And even though the facility is a little bit ramshackle, it`s
reportedly been broken into multiple times. It isn`t in great repair. It
has no apparent safety measures in place like sprinklers or the rest of
that stuff, they do store tons, tens of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer
there, the same stuff that blew up in West. In fact, 5 1/2 weeks ago on
May 29th, that was the Thursday after Memorial Day, this facility in
Athens, Texas, they got a delivery of 70 tons of ammonium nitrate
That`s significantly more than the amount of ammonium nitrate
fertilizer that blew up the whole town of West, Texas. They got 70 tons
delivered just hours before a fire broke out at that same plant. And with
the fire burning, and with at least 70 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in
that partially wooden building with no sprinklers, no firewall, no alarm
system, the local fire apartment evacuated most of the town.
And amazingly, that plant full of explosive fertilizer did not blow
up despite the fire. Amazingly. This is the editorial that the "Dallas
Morning News" ran about it, about how the town dodged a bullet with that
fire at the fertilizer plant. It`s actually the second time that that town
has dodged a bullet at that facility.
This past November, a restaurant across the street from that facility
also caught fire. That restaurant fire burned completely out of control.
The building was a total loss. The restaurant burned to the ground.
Across the street from the facility holding the tons of ammonium nitrate
fertilizer, but miraculously, the plant holding tons and tons and tons of
explosives just across the street, that partially wooden building, decrepit
building, it didn`t blow up then, either.
It seems like it`s kind of an unlucky little corner or maybe it`s the
luckiest corner on earth. And because it is maybe the luckiest place on
earth, perhaps that is the plan in Texas. They`re just going to continue
to hope that providence smiles on the great state of Texas when it comes to
not blowing parts of it up all the time, because even though the town of
West blew up last spring, and in at least one other Texas town with a very
similar facility, they have dodged at least two bullets now since then in
terms of that happening again. Texas, in its infinite wisdom, has changed
precisely nothing since the West, Texas, apocalypse in terms of how that
state deals with its rules or regulations or its laws about how to keep
this from happening again.
They have changed nothing. Actually, I should not say that. It`s
not true. They did change one thing.
Texas state government is totally controlled by Republicans, right?
The Republicans in Texas state government did decide they would change one
thing in the wake of what happened at West, Texas.
Back to our friend, Chase Koch. "The Dallas Morning News" reports
that in May of this year, a few months after Chase Koch, the head of
fertilizer for Koch Industries, a few months after Chase Koch discovered
his newfound love and affection for Greg Abbott, to whom he`d never given
money before. A few times after Chase Koch`s first time ever $25,000
donation to Greg Abbott and $50,000 at least from other Koch entities,
including Chase Koch`s dad, Charles, according to the "Dallas Morning
News", a few months after that money came in and the brothers flew Greg
Abbott out to one of their "meet the candidate" retreats with lots of other
donors, Greg Abbott did decide that he was going to change one thing in
Texas about storing dangerous chemicals there, specifically about storing
chemicals like ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which almost wiped one Texas
town off the map.
He did decide he was going to change one thing. He decided the
public would no longer be allowed to know where large quantities of
explosive chemicals were stored in Texas. That`s the change.
For decades, companies storing significant quantities of potentially
hazardous material like, say, explosive fertilizer, they would have to
report that to the state, and the state then maintained a database of that
information. They`d make that information available to anybody who asked.
So the news media, regular citizens, somebody thinking about moving to the
neighborhood, anybody, the public had a right to know that information for
decades. The state maintained and provided that information.
But not anymore. In May, Greg Abbott, as attorney general of the
state of Texas, he issued the one change in law or policy that has happened
in Texas since the explosion in West. He said that state agencies,
henceforth, quote, "must withhold this information from the public."
Quote, "Upon review, we find the submitted information about chemical
storage in Texas is now confidential." It wasn`t before, but now it`s
confidential. Attorney General Greg Abbott issuing that legally binding
opinion in May. He did so rather quietly.
The press in Texas, however, noticed, and last week, Greg Abbott was
asked how on earth this made sense. Why should the state now start keeping
secret from the people in Texas this information that people used to be
able to get? Why should this now be secret? Now that we`ve had this great
disaster and everybody`s worried about it. Why can`t we know now? We used
to be able to know.
This was Greg Abbott`s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know where they are if
you drive around. Let`s bear this down. If you`re living in West, Texas,
you know that there`s some facility there and you have the right to ask the
people in West, Texas, hey, what chemicals do you have in there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just drive around. Just drive around. If you see something
near your kids` school or near your house that looks chemically, just drive
over there and regulate it yourself.
The official advice from Republican-controlled Texas state government
to the citizens of that state is that Texas residents should go door to
door in their communities trying to surmise whether or not there might be
any dangerous chemicals stored in any facilities nearby. Then, they should
ask those proprietors of those facilities to tell them about the danger.
This is from the "Texas Tribune," which is one of the outlets that
was there when Greg Abbott was explaining that people should go door to
door to facilities in their area to find out what chemicals are there.
Quote, "When asked if citizens had the right to go on to company`s private
property to ask for that information, Attorney General Abbott initially
said absolutely. Abbott corrected himself seconds later. `Just to make
clear, you may not be able to walk on private property,` he said, `but you
can send an e-mail, letter, notice, to anyone who owns any kind of private
property or facility.`"
An e-mail, a letter, or a notice. This is the new plan in Texas.
Happy 2014. There are something between 26 million and 27 million people
living in the state of Texas.
Each of you is responsible for driving around, figuring out what
looks suspicious, finding contact information for any of those suspicious
businesses you might have seen while driving around, whether or not they
are holding dangerous chemicals on site. It is then your responsibility to
find their contact information, write to them, ask them to disclose to you
their chemical inventories and whether or not they might be dangerous to
you and your kids and then just sit back and wait for the safety to roll
Since then, "The Houston Chronicle" newspaper and local TV stations
in Texas have been trying to take the state`s advice. Asking chemicals
directly -- asking chemical companies directly, hey, what do you got there?
They basically found mixed result when they`ve been asking, but a lot of
companies just telling them to buzz off. Those are media organizations.
What happens when it`s just somebody who lives down the block?
In response to criticism over this new plan, Greg Abbott`s campaign
manager tweeted out this sort of snarky comment to one of the reporters
who`s been covering the controversy saying basically, oh, listen, this
wouldn`t be so hard to do, what Greg Abbott`s saying. He said, "They`re
called fire departments. Let me know if I can help track them down for
you." Meaning, oh, stop whining. Just ask the local fire department and
they`ll tell you about the dangerous chemicals stored in private facilities
in your town.
After that came out from Greg Abbott`s campaign manager, a spokesman
for Greg Abbott at the attorney general`s office had to issue another
clarifying statement saying, never mind about that fire departments thing,
saying actually under this new ruling from Greg Abbott, local fire
departments are not going to tell you either. I mean, they might, but they
might not and they certainly don`t have to.
We have a lot of ideological debate in our politics about the proper
size of government, what government is for, right? A lot of that debate is
very esoteric, very theoretical.
But Rick Perry is going to run for president again on the basis of
the Texas miracle. Where he says things like not having any zoning laws
and not having any fire codes, those are the things that make Texas great.
And we should elect him president because he will apply that Texas miracle
to the whole country.
And Greg Abbott is the man who`s running to replace Rick Perry in
Texas. He`s the Republican candidate for governor in Texas this year.
Now, we reached out to Koch Industries today for a comment, but we
have not heard back. Their spokesman told the "Dallas Morning News,"
though, there`s absolutely no connection between the Koch`s newfound
interest in campaign contributions to Greg Abbott and Greg Abbott`s
subsequent ruling in storing chemicals in Texas. They call that, quote, "A
vague and improbable quid quo pro linkage."
However, Greg Abbott is running a Koch Industries supported campaign
for governor in Texas on a platform that includes his idea that the
solution to this happening in one little Texas town is that you should no
longer be allowed to know if this is a possibility in your town, too. Just
figure it out yourself.
Joining us now is Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the
"Dallas Morning News."
Wayne, thank you for being here. It`s nice to have you here.
WAYNE SLATER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Great to be with you.
MADDOW: So, the timing of the attorney general`s opinion on storage
of chemicals in the state obviously raises questions in terms of its
connection to campaign donations. It also raises questions about its
connection and timing to the campaign. He`s running for governor.
Does he think he`s done something that was just a political asset, or
is this something he was hoping no one would notice?
SLATER: I think it`s something that he figured that nobody would
really notice. And it wasn`t until WFAA asked for an update on the
information that we suddenly realized that a state agency was saying after
years of providing this information, no, we`re not going to provide it
anymore. Greg Abbott has issued an opinion that says it`s no longer
And in an odd way, it is a perfect message to corporate, business,
and other supporters of Greg Abbott, his campaign contributors and others,
to say privately, or maybe somewhat more quietly, look, I`m on your side,
we`re not going to be loading you down with all kinds of regulations, but I
do not believe that he thought this was going to blow up.
Clearly, he did not have a very good answer when he told reporters
the other day, look, if you`ve got a problem, just knock on the doors, ask
people what they have, and these good private companies will tell you what
dangerous and explosive chemicals they have stored right next to where your
child is playing on a playground.
MADDOW: It is a remarkable message to the business community and as
you say, potential donors. Even if you basically wipe part of a Texas town
off the map, having done something unsafe and something that is not
recommended in terms of how you store chemicals, I`ve still got your back,
I`ll make it easier for you to get away with that by letting people
disguise the fact that you`re doing it.
I mean, I guess I have to wonder, thinking about this both in terms
of the message and what it does nationally, whether or not this is
something that will hurt him politically. I mean, the Wendy Davis
campaign, she`s running against him, been able to hold him to account on
this to make this an issue that they`re going to be able to run with?
SLATER: You know, some Democrats in the legislature have raised
questions, have gotten some pushback this summer on a legislative panel
about whether we ought to tighten up these regulations. Some other groups
say we need to do something.
Wendy Davis begins tomorrow a five- or six-day tour of several
cities? Which she says, look, we have the right to know. Wendy Davis says
that if she were elected governor, that one of the first orders of business
in the next legislative session, the legislature meets in January, is to
change the law to make it very clear that families and people and
homeowners and those living around chemicals do have the right to get this
The key here is that part of the Wendy Davis campaign against Greg
Abbott has been to say that he is a Texas Republican business-minded
insider who protects his friends, but that`s not really necessarily good
enough because I think, frankly, Rachel, a lot of people think that
politicians of all stripe protect their friends when they`re in office.
The problem for Abbott here is if this episode, if this decision
suggests not only that he`s protecting his financial donors, his cronies,
his friends, but he`s doing so in a way that could affect your children,
your family, your neighborhood, then maybe Wendy Davis is on to something.
MADDOW: Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the "Dallas
Morning News" -- I have to admit that I had no idea the footage we had of
Greg Abbott was him sitting in front of the periodic table of elements. I
want to make clear for the record that we didn`t fake that. He really did
it, just giving us the perfect visual punch line.
Wayne, thank you very much. I really appreciate it, man. It`s good
to see you.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead on this post-Fourth of July
holiday Monday, including governor Chris Christie of New Jersey declaring
his independence from what one might think of as a basic form of human
decency, and that story`s next.
MADDOW: Two years ago this month, there was a mass shooting inside a
screening of one of the "Batman" movies in Aurora, Colorado. Eighty-two
people were shot many that incident, 12 people were shot and killed, 70
people were shot and injured.
The shooter in that mass shooting used a pump-action Remington
shotgun and a .40 caliber semiautomatic Glock handgun and the Smith &
Wesson version of an AR-15 assault rifle.
It was the assault rifle that he rigged with a drum magazine like
this one, which could hold up to 100 bullets, feeding them all one after
another into that gun. This wasn`t an automatic weapon where you hold down
the trigger and the gun fires multiple times while you`re holding the
trigger down. This was a semiautomatic gun which means it fires a bullet
every time you squeeze the trigger and it fires them as fast as the speed
of your trigger finger allows.
He had a 100-round magazine plugged into that gun. One of the
reasons he had to switch weapons and ultimately stop shooting is when the
100-round magazine jammed. If it hadn`t jammed, there`s no reason to think
he would have not fired all 100 rounds out of that assault rifle, but
because it jammed he had to stop firing that particular weapon after he
used it to shoot 40 or 50 times.
In the mass shooting the previous year in Tucson, Arizona, the one
that nearly killed Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, that gunman also had an
extended size magazine. He had a Glock semiautomatic pistol that did not
have the standard size magazine that comes with that gun which is a
magazine that fits inside the hand grip of the pistol. He instead had
extended capacity magazines that held roughly 30 bullets, the kind that
hang way down out of the hand grip of the gun.
He stopped shooting only when he needed to reload. When he was
trying to reload, he fumbled it basically. He dropped a new loaded
magazine that he was trying to load into the gun and that allowed this
brave woman to grab that magazine away from him.
And that delay, that interruption in his shooting, allowed somebody
else to get to him and too tackle him and to stop him shooting anymore
people than the 19 people he had already shot. He shot and wounded 13
people including the congresswoman. He shot and killed six other people.
But then when he had to reload, they stopped him. The capacity of
that ammunition magazine determined both the duration of the shooting spree
and how many people ultimately got shot.
It turns out that happens a lot. Year and a half ago at Sandy Hook
Elementary School in Connecticut, the shooter in that mass shooting had ha
bunch of normal sized 10-round magazines at home, but he chose to leave
those ones at home and instead take to the elementary school that day a
whole stack of big extended magazines that held not 10 rounds, but 30
The Newtown Elementary School massacre killed 20 little kids, and six
adults. But it all happened in less than five minutes. With those big 30-
round magazines, that gunman was able to fire 154 bullets in less than 5
minutes. The only times he stopped firing were when he had to pause to
reload that gun.
A reconstruction of the crime by the "Hartford Courant" newspaper
found some of the kids who survived Sandy Hook that day only were able to
survive because of trouble that that gunman had trying to get his gun
The size of the ammunition magazine determined the duration of the
massacre and ultimately the total number of victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have learned in the time it took him to
reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape. We ask
ourselves every day, every minute, if those magazines had held 10 rounds,
forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children
be alive today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Nicole Hockley who you may have seen as a guest on
this show. Her son, Dylan, was one of the kids who was killed at Sandy
Hook. Because some of the kids who survived at Sandy Hook were able to
escape that day while the killer was trying to reload his gun, some of the
families from Sandy Hook have argued that one of the most concrete,
specific, granular ways to prevent more deaths via mass shooting in our
country would be to limit the size of ammunition magazines. So, anyone
engaged in a mass shooting will at least have to pause to reload, which
might give some potential victims the time to escape and which might give
some potential rescuers a way to get to the gunman.
Eight states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted some kind of ban on
high-capacity ammunition magazines. In New Jersey this year, the
legislature passed a law to set a 10-bullet maximum for ammunition
magazines in that state.
Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook, and Mark
Barden, whose son, Daniel, was also killed at Sandy Hook -- on Wednesday,
Ms. Hockley and Ms. Barden personally delivered 55,000 signatures to
Governor Christie`s office in New Jersey, petitioning him to sign the New
Jersey legislation about the size of the ammunition magazines. That same
day, though, Governor Christie vetoed it.
And that same day, he refused to meet with those two Sandy Hook
parents about the issue. The spokesman said the governor was not in the
office and couldn`t meet with them even though the families say they saw
him there that day -- the day right before the holiday weekend when he
vetoed this bill, which had been passed by the legislature way back in May,
tough guy waited until the last day before the holiday weekend to sign it.
Ah, maybe no one will notice. He`d had the legislation since May.
Why did he pick the day before the holiday weekend to sign it? And
then he tried to say he wasn`t around, couldn`t meet with these Sandy Hook
parents though he was right there in the office at the same time they were.
And then when the press did ask him about it today, this is how he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`ve heard the argument, and
so, are we saying, then, that the 10 children on the clip that they
advocate for, that their lives are less valuable? If you take the logical
conclusion of their argument, you go to zero, because every life is
And so why 10? Why not six? Why not two? Why not one? Why not
zero? Why not just ban guns completely?
I mean, you know, so the logical conclusion of their argument is that
you get to zero eventually.
So, you know, I understand their argument. I feel extraordinary
sympathy for them and the other families, and all the families across
America who are the victims of gun violence. I understand their argument.
I`ve heard their argument.
I don`t agree with their argument. We have a fundamental
disagreement about the effectiveness of what they`re advocating for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why save anybody? If you`re not going to save everybody,
why save anybody? Such favoritism.
Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden have now responded to Governor
Christie saying, "His refusal to meet with us is a cowardly political move.
We know that smaller magazines would have saved more lives at Sandy Hook
Elementary, possibly even the lives of our own children. We respectfully
ask that the governor meets with us and tells us to our faces that it
wouldn`t have protected our own children and that it won`t save the lives
of New Jersey`s children. We doubt he has the courage to face us."
The editorial board of the largest paper in New Jersey is also taking
the governor to task on this. Quote, "Governor Christie vetoed the bill
that would have limited the number of bullets in gun magazines to 10. The
idea is psychos on a rampage would have to stop and reload more often given
the potential victims a chance to escape or pounce. It`s a modest measure.
It would not stop the massacre, but it would improve the odds that the
damage could be limited, that lives could be saved. So, why did Christie
veto this bill? The inescapable conclusion is that he was worried
Republican primary voters would hold it against him in the 2016
And then referring back to those sandy hook elementary school parents
who the governor wouldn`t meet with, the editorial closes with this, "One
hopes that Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden in their grief understand that
most people in New Jersey stand with them and regard this as a shameful
No one is quite sure what counts as a shameful moment in New Jersey
politics anymore, but the governor calling out the parents of murdered
kids, for them not understanding the value of human life? This is at least
testing the bounds of what is usually called shameful, if not the very
definition of the word, itself.
MADDOW: Last week, we reported on Riverside County, California,
where angry mobs of protesters have turned up to scream and swear and
protest the arrival of three buses containing unaccompanied children and
parents with small children, as the Department of Homeland Security tried
to move them into a border patrol processing facility so they could go
through the next step of the immigration and customs process.
That day, the anti-immigrant protesters got their way in Murrieta,
California. They got the buses holding those kids to turn back, diverting
them to other facilities in the southwest of the country.
Now, that happened last week, but those protests are not over.
People are still congregating, protesters on both sides. MSNBC
contributor, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi was there on the ground over the
holiday weekend and shot some of this footage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARID: I`m here to support my city of Murrieta, because really we`re
a small town and don`t have the resources of capabilities of managing 140
people every single three days.
ALEXANDRA PELOSI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: What is your worst fear?
JARID: Our worst fear is people coming and it just starts spreading
disease and whatnot, and stuff gets spread throughout our little town and
community to our children.
PROTESTER: What part of children don`t you understand? What part of
children don`t you understand? What part of children don`t you understand?
PROTESTER: If Obama likes them so much, let them stay at the White
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning
to breathe free, et cetera.
Alexandra Pelosi who captured that footage on the Fourth of July this
past weekend, she`s going to be on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL"
later tonight. You`ll want to see this.
But consider this, too. As people in Murrieta, California, are
yelling, screaming, blockading the road, that`s not all that should squeeze
into this snapshot of this moment in our country. Something very, very
different than Murrieta, California, is going on in Dallas County, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY, TX: These are the three sites in
Dallas County that we believe are the most viable to accommodate the
I think we`re North Texans, and part of the reason for making this
decision was my faith. It wasn`t just faith in God. It`s faith in the
people that are standing behind me and faith in our community. I don`t
think North Texas will turn its back on children.
REPORTER: Will you please just respond to some of the criticism you
have been personally receiving from some of your critics saying that this
is strictly a political move on your part to have this action and make
these efforts now?
JENKINS: If this is a political move, then I am the stupidest
politician in Texas. You know, we`re the first community in this nation
that has reached out to the federal government. The hand has gone the
other way asking for help, and communities have either turned them down or
failed to get these sort of emergency shelters outside of federally owned
The politics of this is that there are no politics of this. This is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is about children. There are no politics of this.
That`s Dallas County, Texas, Judge Clay Jenkins. He`s the top
government official in that county. What he`s announcing there is that
Dallas County wants to open three possible sites to house unaccompanied
immigrant kids who are arriving here in this country with no place to go.
Dallas County is offering. Riverside County, California, and Dallas
County, Texas, both on the front lines of this growing influx of
undocumented and unaccompanied kids making their way into this country and
into their states. But they are showing very, very, very different
responses to that problem. Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: The politics of this is that there are no politics of this.
This is about children. It need not be partisan, it need not be political,
it need not be shrill and hateful. These are not others. These are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has proposed that Dallas
County, Texas, should convert civilian facilities in that county to house
unaccompanied immigrant kids rather than having those kids processed and
what amount to jail-like conditions in the federal system while they`re
awaiting processing or deportation back to their home countries.
Dallas County is also looking for families to serve as foster
families for those kids as well. A very different approach than we`re
seeing in some other parts of the country.
Judge Jenkins joins us tonight for the interview.
Judge Jenkins, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your
JENKINS: Rachel, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, what inspired you to propose these sites in Dallas
County to be used to temporarily house and care for these kids?
JENKINS: Well, I`m a father, and I saw the images on television and
I got reports back from the Baptist men and Catholic charities who`d been
down to the border and felt that we had the capability and the facilities
and the compassion as a community to help, and so I made a call for us to
help and we`re going to take 2,000 of the children.
MADDOW: Is your decision on this the final word? Does this have to
go through some sort of other decision-making process? What kind of
reaction have you had in Dallas County to this plan of yours?
JENKINS: Well, I`m relying on the faith community and our community
groups to step up to this challenge and I`m relying on the people in the
neighborhoods where these facilities will be located to open their arms and
recognize that these are precious children of God. They`re not others.
They`re little children and they`re in need of our help.
Yesterday, I went door to door in one of those neighborhoods and not
a single person that I spoke to opposed having a shelter directly across
the street in a former elementary school. Had volunteers cover the whole
neighborhood, and overwhelmingly that neighborhood was willing to open
their arms to provide compassionate care for these children and get them
out of what I believe are inhumane conditions on our border by no fault of
our border agents, but because we`re just completely overcrowded with
MADDOW: I understand that you did visit some of those holding
facilities I think in the border town of McAllen last week. Is that so?
And if so, what did you see there? What do you know about these facilities
where the kids are being held now?
JENKINS: Rachel, I saw children younger than 1 year old. I saw a
child crying for her mother while a border agent changed her diaper. Saw
children looking across with their faces pressed to the glass at their
siblings that were in different cells from them. I saw children, like your
children and my children, who are scared and feel abandoned and were dirty
and need help.
And in Dallas County, we have the ability to help them and we`re
going to help them.
MADDOW: I understand that Dallas is also looking -- Dallas County is
also looking for families to potentially be involved as foster families for
these kids. Is that right?
JENKINS: I had a meeting today with leaders in the Catholic
charities and the Baptist general convention of Texas and asked them to
look not only throughout North Texas, but throughout the United States and
I`ll ask others to help with that, so that we can find foster families so
that we can provide some love and some normalcy to these children.
MADDOW: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, thank you for talking with
us about this. We`d love to stay in touch with you in terms of how this
goes, especially as you take in those first 2,000 kids. Thank you.
JENKINS: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Coming up: terrible news about wristwatches. Terrible,
terrible news. Particularly for wristwatch-wearing men with really big
beards. And, boy, is that a hard thing to say.
MADDOW: This is the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. He`s
essentially the pope for the world`s 150 million Russian Orthodox
Christians. And like the pope, modesty and humility are supposed to go
along with that job. Which is why this photo caused such a giant scandal
in Russia a few years ago.
This is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on the right side of
your screen there. And what is that? That it turns out is a $30,000 Swiss
watch. Did you know you can spend $30,000 on a wristwatch? I had no idea.
When the church posted that image to their official Web site, though,
they attempted to disappear the watch entirely. See, they extended his
sleeve to cover his wrist. What they missed when they did that was the
reflection of the watch that appeared on the table right in front of him.
So then everybody knew they were hiding something.
The church ultimately had to apologize. Look at that, look at that,
they just moved his sleeve down. Had to apologize for that botched
Photoshop job last year.
But it turns out that the extravagant watch on the supposedly humble
and pious guy, that is a problem that is not unique to Russia, that problem
has now been exported into some fairly gruesome circumstances. And that
really weird story is next.
MADDOW: Every year, the National Counterterrorism Center puts out a
counterterrorism calendar. It`s formatted like a really creepy daily
planner. Each day marks a notable terrorist attack or an important advance
in the fight against terrorism, like an arrest or conviction of a terrorist
leader. The calendar also comes with several full-page pinups of wanted
terrorists, one for each month of the year.
Mr. March is this guy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, the
al Qaeda splinter group of Sunni fighters that`s taken over a wide and
growing swath of Iraq and Syria. The State Department is offering a $10
million reward for any information leading to his arrest. And if you do
have any information about this guy`s whereabouts, it asks you right there
on the calendar to go ahead and e-mail the State Department at the Rewards
for Justice e-mail address at State.gov.
Whoever is responsible for checking RFJ@State.gov over the weekend
probably came back to a full inbox today, because look who turned up over
the weekend on the Internet machine. Mr. March himself.
This video circulated online this weekend and it appears to be Mr. Al
Baghdadi delivering a sermon at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul. And
while the tape has yet to be officially authenticated, if it is, Mr. Al
Baghdadi, this is a very rare sighting.
Also, I should mention, the release of the tape came just days after
there were reports that Mr. Al Baghdadi had been killed in airstrikes in
Iraq. But there he seems to be in Mosul, delivering Friday prayers on the
sixth day of Ramadan, alive and apparently well-fed, dressed conservatively
in black robes with a thick beard.
The Sunni militant leader appeared relatively -- sort of austere. He
talked about his own humility, his own piety, his piousness. He has after
all proclaimed himself to be the leader of all the world`s Muslims. There
he is giving that sermon.
In that vein, sort of wearing an outfit that`s meant to evoke the
dress of medieval Islamic leaders, except for one tiny detail. One
accessory. I could be mistaken but what`s that on your right wrist?
It seems to be sporting a fancy wristwatch. I know as much about
wristwatches as I know about cows but I`m guessing could be a Rolex,
possibly? His more than 20-minute speech is punctuated every so often by a
flash of silver seen when he raises his right arm at certain spirited parts
of his sermon, a sermon which it should be noted he denounces Western
In a call to arms, he asks true believers to follow him out of faith,
not for desire for luxury or leisure. That visual contradiction ended up
being the focus formal English language and Arabic language press today who
were distracted by trying to sort out the make and model of his jewelry.
The best guess so far appears to be it`s either that Rolex there in the
center, or maybe the James Bond-preferred Omega Seamaster. If it is the
Omega, that retails at upwards of $6,000.
Maybe that is the blinged-out leader of ISIS, this group, Mr. Al-
Baghdadi. If so, it is a pretty amazing new image of the Islamic leader
who has claimed himself essentially the king of all Muslims and has helped
reignite the Iraq war. Always check your accessories.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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