'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, October 31st, 2014
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 31, 2014
Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Xeni Jardin, Jack Bisase
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That`s our Halloween. That`s the candy
we`re stuffing in your basket tonight.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The rule is black face, colon, don`t do
HAYES: Don`t do it, that`s right.
MADDOW: I`m trademarking the bumper sticker right now. Stealing it
from you. Thank you very much.
HAYES: Happy Halloween.
MADDOW: You too.
Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy to
have you here.
We begin tonight with a serious question. Is Ebola the ISIS of
biological agents? Is it? It`s just a question.
Nobody is saying Ebola is the ISIS of biological agents. These folks
are just posing the question. Is it?
As a newsperson, I have to say, this is one of the dumbest things that
all of us news people do. We are just asking. Right?
You put something on your screen that is blatantly false and usually
super inflammatory, but then you excuse having to be accountable for it by
putting a question mark on it, right? We`re not saying. We`re asking.
So here, it`s not like CNN is saying that Ebola is the ISIS of
biological agents because that would be an insane thing to say. They`re
just talking about that as an idea. You can`t fact-check that claim
because they`re not making it as a claim. Don`t you see the question mark?
They`re just asking.
Just like they`re just asking here, is the Department of Justice
really the department of jihad? They`re not saying that, of course. Don`t
misunderstand. It`s just a question.
Our friends at FOX really excel at this particular kind of journalism.
Who is the bigger threat? I mean, they`re not suggesting, of course, that
Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States, is a bigger threat
than Ayman al Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda.
They`re not saying it. Don`t you see the question mark? They`re just
asking. There is a question mark right there. No such thing as a stupid
So, gas prices are really low right now. They`re the lowest they have
been in years. By tomorrow, by Saturday, they`re expected to dip below 3
bucks a gallon for the first time since 2010.
When gas was really expensive, FOX could not stop talking about how
terrible that was, that gas prices were so expensive and how President
Obama was to blame for those terrible high gas prices. Gas prices high,
it`s terrible news. Blame President Obama.
Now, with the news that gas prices are falling, a place like FOX is
constitutionally incapable of saying President Obama caused the low prices.
Even though they said he caused the high prices.
So, now, they have decided instead that low gas prices -- since they -
- well, how do you get around -- they have decided, OK, low gas prices are
bad. Bad maybe? Bad, question mark?
Cheap gas hurts economy, question mark. FOX did that this week, we
laughed and laughed and laughed that they did that. After we put it on TV
and laughed at them publicly about it, FOX got mad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rachel Maddow took me on. And she got it wrong.
She is the face of NBC News and she turned to the classic style of the
left, demagoguery without facts.
This time, I was the target, and this time as always, they, she,
twisted the truth to fit her agenda.
Here`s what Ms. Maddow did. It`s an old trick. She took what we call
a screen grab of this program and she showed it on hers. That`s me on
camera. And you see the graphic banner at the bottom which she circled?
It asked the question, cheap gas hurts the economy, question mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did you not see the question mark, you liberal demagogue?
Look, look at what they`re like -- the little slogany thing is for the
segment. How -- how do I -- it`s like they took my face and put it through
Anyway, they were very mad at me. And they went on to explain that
they were just asking the question to debunk that question. Turns out, FOX
admits, cheap gas does not hurt the economy. They debunked that claim.
Thank heavens. We have FOX to now clear that up for everyone. So
this is fun.
But the news here is this. Gas prices are way down. Gas prices are
lower than they have been in years, thanks to FOX, we know that`s good news
for the economy. Good news for both your family budget and good news for
the economy overall. Hooray!
But it`s definitely not the only piece of good news about the economy
right now. The unemployment rate right now is below 6 percent. That`s the
first time since the recession that it has been that low.
In terms of people putting in claims for unemployment benefits, that
number is at a 14-year low right now. The economy is growing at 3.5
percent, which is a robust growth rate, robust enough that the Federal
Reserve at least is stopping doing the monetary stimulus they have been
doing since the recession. The chairman of the Fed, Janet Yellen, will be
meeting with President Obama on Monday about that. They`re able to stop
the stimulus basically because they believe the economy has been coming
back on its own enough that it doesn`t need that booster shot anymore.
I mean, all that stuff that I just listed. That`s good news right
now. Gas prices down. The unemployment rate, down. Jobless benefits, way
down. Economic growth, way up.
It`s all going the right way right now. And both the Dow Jones
Industrial Average and the S&P 500 today closed at record highs -- a record
for both of them today. The Dow closed at 17,390 points today.
The consumer sentiment index, which is a measure of how consumers feel
about the economy, it seems like one of those touchy-feely sociology
measures of the economy. It`s actually one of the most important
predictors of future economic growth. It`s how much confidence consumers
have in the economy. That number is the highest it has been in more than
seven years right now.
And as if all of that were not enough, happy freaking Halloween. The
price of Halloween candy is down. It`s been stable for the past couple
years, but this year`s Halloween candy is cheap. Ha, ha!
Add all that together and people are in a pretty good mood. And in
politics, usually all of the economic indicators being up with an
exclamation point except for the ones that are good when they`re down, and
those right now are down with an exclamation point, usually that means good
things for the party in power, right? Things are going well, don`t change
horses. That`s been the easiest principal in political prognostication
since political prognostication.
Remember, it`s the economy, stupid? Right, right. It`s the economy,
stupid. And the economic news right now is good.
And so, by the principles of how economics meets politics 101, that
good economic news should mean good news for the president and the
president`s party right now, at least theoretically. Instead, though,
nobody expects that. Basically, in Washington right now, there isn`t even
a debate about whether this is going to be a Republican wave year election.
The only debate right now is over how tall and how ginormous the Republican
tsunami wave is going to be.
Here`s the thing, though. Look at some of the actual data that`s out
there. Four of the eight races that are going to determine which party
controls the Senate, four of those races are either tied in the most recent
polling or all but tied.
In Colorado, Democratic Senator Mark Udall, Republican challenger Cory
Gardner are each getting 48 percent of the vote. In Iowa Senate race,
Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley are each getting 45 percent
of the vote. In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn and David Perdue are each
getting 47 percent of the vote. In North Carolina, Democratic Senator Kay
Hagan is up over Republican Thom Tillis but only by one point, which means
that race is virtually tied right now as well.
So, we`re four days out from the election and we`ve got a bunch of
these tied races and a bunch of these key states across the country, and
these are the races that are going to determine which party will control
the Senate. We have lots of tied races in important places.
The economic fundamentals are good for the party in power, for the
president`s party right now. So the race by race results are tied, and the
ones that are most consequential right now. The economic numbers are good.
And now, look at this -- this is the one other slice of data we get
heading into an election that`s usually a really good indicator of what`s
about to happen. So, in 2006, Democrats had a really, really great midterm
election year. They picked up five Senate seats, got control of the
Senate. They picked up more than 30 seats in the House. They got control
of the House.
Democrats just had a bang-up year in the midterm election in 2006.
One of the ways you could tell in advance that they were going to have a
bang-up year in 2006 was of something called the generic ballot. A generic
ballot doesn`t ask people who they want to vote for specifically. It just
asks people which party they want to win, which party they want to control
This is a thing that sometimes gets ignored because it doesn`t have
any affect on any one race. If you look at big picture, this is kind of a
poll that tells you generally how voters are feeling heading into an
election year. It`s a pretty good measure on that actually.
Look at the generic ballot before Election Day in 2006 when Democrats
did so well. It was pretty easy to predict Democrats were going to have a
super year that year. They were up by 13, up by 20, up by 18. They were
up in every poll in the two weeks before Election Day when voters got asked
which party do you want to win.
People said Democrats, Democrats, Democrats, Democrats, every poll.
That was 2006. And then in those elections, the Democrats trounced the
Same deal in 2010, but the other direction. In the next midterm
election in 2010, Democrats, of course, got trounced. In all of the
generic ballots, you could see that trouncing coming a mile away. In
generic ballots leading up to the election in 2010, Republicans were up by
15 points, by 13 points.
People didn`t care about who the candidate was. They just wanted
Republicans to win Congress. Republicans, Republicans, Republicans.
Republicans. Republicans -- every poll, and that`s how people voted in
2010. Republicans won big time.
Generic ballot polling actually tells you how things are going to go
in the midterms. And now look at the generic polling for this year. In
the last eight generic ballots before the election this year, it`s
Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican, Democrat,
Republican. Republicans up in four of the last eight. Democrats up in
four of the last eight. Half and half.
This is not how this usually looks before a midterm election, at least
not before a midterm election where you can predict very clearly what the
results are going to be. Usually, the generic ballot help said us see from
a mile away what`s about to happen. This year, it`s clear as mud.
Which is kind of awesome to watch while it`s happening, even if it
makes people who are being very certain about their prognostication look a
little out on thin ice.
Joining us is somebody who by law must always be on the show on
Halloween, I don`t know how this has become a tradition, but it`s a
tradition. Senator Amy Klobuchar is back with us on Halloween for a third
straight year. She`s recently been out on the campaign trail, Georgia,
North Carolina, New Hampshire, just to name a few.
Senator Klobuchar, thank you so much for being here. Happy Halloween.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, thank you so much, Rachel.
Happy Halloween to you. We don`t have a witch running in Delaware, an
actual witch this time. But I`m sure we`ll have a lot to talk about.
MADDOW: Well, you are the chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
That`s obviously your area of focus in the Senate. You`re also a total
Can you explain to me what those sorts of two sides of you, how come
all of this good economic news hasn`t meant more good political
prognostication for your party, for the president and his party?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think first of all, you are right, and I will
defend your honor on FOX, if you like. In fact, the gas prices are at
their lowest level in four years. Unemployment is much better than the
depths of the downturn. In fact in my state, unemployment is down to 4.1
KLOBUCHAR: We have a situation where we have had 55 straight months
of job growth. And we still know that people are suffering out there, and
a lot of work needs to be done, but the point is, there have been some
pretty dramatic changes and a lot of these senators that are on the ballot
from Kay Hagan in North Carolina to Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, to
Mark Udall in Colorado, they worked very hard to get policies in place,
whether it was the recovery act or Wall Street reform or all kinds of
things, and energy and a lot of work that was done to make this recovery
The recovery is about jobs and it`s about our businesses and our
workers. But some policies were put in place and some tough votes taken.
So, I do hope, and I think one of the reasons you see despite all of the
noise and the $44 million spent against Kay Hagan in North Carolina, you
still see our candidates hanging in there and ahead in so many polls.
And I just think part of this is in states where the candidates are
very focused on talking about the economy, they`re tending to do well, and
I predict that this election is not going to be the kind of landslide that
you have some pundits talking about. I think you`re going to see some
I can`t wait to see what happens in Georgia. I was there yesterday
with Michelle Nunn, and I have to tell you, she is running a grassroots
campaign that Paul Wellstone would be proud of in terms of how she`s
getting the volunteers out there, door to door, just getting people out
there that have never been involved in politics before. You can see that
in those numbers.
Early voting --
KLOBUCHAR: Hmm? Early voting -- yes.
MADDOW: I was going to interrupt you, one thing you said there about
both tactics, but also the message, as these candidates are trying to make
the case, and a lot of these places, as you say, you know, tens of millions
of dollars spent against them. A lot of Democratic candidates widely
outspent not just by the Republican Party, but by outside groups, and
Is what you`re saying when Democrats are doing better than expected,
it`s because they have been very disciplined about keeping the message on
the economy, that Democrats talking about the economy is working even
though the rest of the -- you know, sort of pundit sphere talking about the
election isn`t focused on that?
KLOBUCHAR: I think it`s true and I think you have in Kay`s case, her
opponent slashed education funding as speaker of the house and the state
legislature. And by a 24-point margin, the people in North Carolina, the
voters in North Carolina don`t agree with that.
So, when you`re able to make that kind of contrast on the economy, it
makes a difference. I would also add for people that are questioning
enthusiasm in both Georgia and North Carolina, you have incredible numbers
with 212,000 voters registered early in Georgia, and in North Carolina
outpacing early voting that you saw in the presidential year.
So, I just think that there`s a lot going on here, as coming from the
state, which you know, where Al Franken is doing incredibly well this time,
but back in `08, won by 312 votes, Rachel. I think people that claim they
can predict when these polls are so close, I just don`t think anyone can.
I`ll never forget the picture of Heidi Heitkamp in her election in
North Dakota where the next day she held up the headline from the local
paper that had predicted her defeat and she won that election.
MADDOW: Senator, I have to ask you, because we keep meeting on
Halloween. Obviously, you and I both are bad at celebrating Halloween
because we both keep going to work and being with one another on a
Is there some other holiday you do like freaking awesome that
counteracts how poorly we both do Halloween?
KLOBUCHAR: Like when I`m not working? Yes, Thanksgiving.
KLOBUCHAR: I tend to actually make some food and decorate.
But I was thinking, Rachel, with two of these states, as you know,
could go into run-offs --
KLOBUCHAR: -- and so while we have always had these election
Halloweens together, the voters in those states might just say boo, the
election is not over, and you and I could well be spending Thanksgiving,
Christmas, New Year`s eve talking about these elections because it may not
end. As you know, one run-off is December 6th and one is January 6th.
MADDOW: Wow. Well, to New Year`s Eve in New Orleans if need be --
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, thank you so much for being here. Good
to see you.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Trick or treat. Now, I have to figure out what
to do with all this candy which has been giving off this chocolate waft
throughout this entire segment. This has been very distracting.
All right. We got lots ahead tonight, including me cleaning up my
desk before we move on. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK, we have lots ahead tonight. Including why a school
district in Arizona is ripping pages out of a biology textbook.
We`ve also got Xeni Jardin here to talk about the spaceship that
crashed in the Mojave Desert this afternoon. We`ve also got another
installment of our Friday night experiment that is still in the research
and development phase.
I`m still not sure about this one, but that`s coming up. Stay with
MADDOW: How long has it been since we had school districts cutting
offensive pages out of textbooks? It`s probably only been about five
minutes, but the new one today is in Arizona, the town of Gilbert, Arizona,
which is a suburb of Phoenix, out past Tempe.
A majority of the school board in Gilbert, Arizona, has decided to
take offense with the textbook for honors biology. School board in Gilbert
voted this week to tear out part of "Campbell Biology: Concepts and
Connections Seventh Edition".
They decided to object to a single paragraph in a section on the birds
and the bees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Schools teach a lot of things and the biology book for a
Gilbert Public School`s high school honors class has a section on
contraception, and that section talks about abortion.
DARYL COLVIN: You would expect a discussion of abortion maybe to show
up in actual sex ed materials. That`s why I didn`t like abortion in a
biology book that all it discusses is natural processes. There`s nothing
natural about abortion.
REPORTER: Last night, by a vote of 3-2, the Gilbert School Board
decided to nix the abortion section of the book, citing a recently signed
state law that says schools must give preference to child birth and
adoption over abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Citing a recently signed state law.
OK, that law passed a couple years ago in Arizona. Republican
Governor Jan Brewer signed it. April 2012, she signed it on the same day
she signed one of our nation`s more bonkers bans on abortion. The bonkers
abortion bill not only banned most abortions after 20 weeks, Arizona
decided that they would change the definition of when you become pregnant.
Arizona, in its grace, moved the definition of your pregnancy back two
weeks. So, in Arizona, your conception clock gets backtimed to start
ticking before you ever even clicked on the guy`s profile on Tinder. Hey,
handsome -- uh-oh. Jan Brewer just pronounced you pregnant.
Arizona passed that redefining pregnancy, pregnant at hello law, and
this other law about abortion in textbooks in sort of an anti-abortion fit
a couple years ago. The textbook law says all schools must present child
birth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.
So, Arizona passed both of those laws in 2012. Governor Brewer signed
them on the same day. The 20-week ban with the reinventing pregnancies
stuff, that got blocked by the courts. But the other one, the rip the
pages out of the textbook one, that law remains in effect. And now,
they`re using it.
This new decision appears to be the first time the law has been used
to take back information that students had previously been given as part of
their education. In Gilbert, the offending page explains that, quote,
"complete abstinence, avoiding intercourse, is the only totally effective
method of birth control." They object to this?
Further down the page, it explains the morning-after bill followed by
a discussion of a medication abortion. That procedure, and I quote,
"requires a doctor`s prescription and several visits to a medical
facility." Sounds almost as fun as complete abstinence when you think
Despite that being the rather not too pushy text in this honors
biology textbook, this summer, a crusading religious group complained about
that paragraph in the textbook. Arizona state board of ed and its lawyer
looked into it and said this paragraph is not a problem. They said this
textbook is not advocating abortion. The textbook is merely acknowledging
that abortion is a thing that exists.
But the crusading religious group showed up at the Gilbert school
board meeting on Tuesday, so did three Republican state senators who
trouped over to this school board meeting to make sure something got done
about that terrible honors biology textbook. And sure enough, the Gilbert
board voted to get rid of that material.
And it turns out that in their view, the fastest and most effective
way to disappear those facts from honors biology is to rip them out of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLVIN: These textbooks are written prior to the state law, so the
easiest, simplest, cheapest way to bring them into compliance with state
law was just excise that section. It`s only a page.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Excise it. Like with scissors. Hey, it`s only a page -- in
the honors biology textbook.
The local press says parents are already volunteering to help with
tearing out the pages or marking over the offending paragraph like with a
sharpie. It will be sort of like an old-fashioned corn husking. Gather
around. Party in Gilbert, Arizona.
So, dear honors biology students of Gilbert, Arizona, I now address
your directly. You may soon find yourself holding a biology textbook with
a hole where some true facts used to be. Don`t despair. We here at THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW have preserved the part of your biology textbook that
the crusading religious group and the Republican state senators and the
conservative majority on your school board no longer wants to allow you to
We`re going to keep it posted for you in perpetuity at
arizonahonorsbiology.com, which we bought today so that we could post the
page that they`re cutting out of your textbook. You can get it there.
MADDOW: It`s Friday night. It is Halloween. Friday night. And
because it is a Friday, even though it`s Halloween, we are going to do a
thing at the end of the show which is very hard to do properly. And so, I
need luck, black cat, good luck for Halloween. I`m now going to go walk
under some ladders.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: In the great state of Virginia, right off the eastern shore,
you`ll find a place called Wallops Island. It`s a 6 square mile Island.
It`s very small -- the population of the island is about 400 people. The
island is primarily used by NASA.
On Tuesday night, on Wallops Island, this 139-foot rocket, Antares
rocket, was sent to launch for the International Space Station. It was on
its way to deliver thousands of pounds of food and water and equipment up
to the space station.
But about 15 seconds after liftoff, something went wrong. The rocket
exploded. You can see the explosion, huge fireball.
This was an unmanned rocket. It wasn`t anybody onboard at the time.
Sort of miraculously, no injuries were reported at the scene, either, but
it was a spectacular explosion in the literal sense of that word, and it
happened just a few moments after launch.
That rocket was built by a private company contracted by NASA to go to
the space station partly because NASA, we as a country don`t have a space
shuttle program anymore. So, in order to get stuff into space, we contract
the work out to private companies.
But this is how that latest mission from a private company ended on
So, that happened three days ago. We now know since then that the
explosion there was not a spontaneous thing. NASA apparently made the call
to blow the rocket up on purpose just after launch because the rocket had
apparently malfunctioned somehow shortly after takeoff. There were two
safety officers tasked with overseeing these rocket launchers from a safety
And apparently, it was those safety officers who sent a kill signal to
destroy the rocket on purpose and caused that explosion. It`s still
unclear what exactly caused the rocket to malfunction or behave erratically
in the first place, what those safety officers saw, but it`s reported now
that those safety officers sent a deliberate signal to the flight
termination system to disable the rocket, kill it, to explode it before it
got too far. So that was Tuesday.
And then today, it happened again with significantly more tragic
consequences in human terms. Here`s what happened -- about 9:20 a.m. local
time this morning, California`s Mojave Desert, about 100 miles northeast of
downtown L.A., a passenger spaceship being developed for commercial space
travel by Virgin Galactic took off for a test run.
The plane is called SpaceShipTwo. It`s been developed essentially for
space tourism to ferry paying customers for a 90-minute ride into the edge
of space. The aircraft is carried by a jet-powered mother ship, basically,
a fancy plane called White Knight Two.
Those two aircraft fly together until about 45,000, 50,000 feet, and
then SpaceShipTwo is supposed to separate from the mother ship and use its
rocket boosters to go its own way, to go up 62 miles off the skin of the
earth to bring people to the edge of space.
And you can see here what appears to be the two of them flying
together on flight radar. They`re flying together, toward Mojave. And
then at 10:10 a.m. local time, a little less than an hour into the flight,
SpaceShipTwo releases, they go their separate ways, but then moments later,
SpaceShipTwo vanishes from the radar.
SpaceShipTwo crashed today in the Mojave Desert. Virgin Galactic says
the aircraft experienced a serious anomaly resulting in its loss. Two
pilots were aboard the craft at the time of the crash.
The California Highway Patrol confirmed that one of those pilots was
killed. His body was recovered at the wreckage of the plane. The other
pilot suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to a nearby hospital
after he apparently parachuted away from the crashing vehicle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUART WITT, MOJAVE AIR & SPACE PORT CEO: When we have a mishap from
the test community, we find the test community is very small. And we`re
human. And it hurts. And our hearts, thoughts, prayers absolutely with
the families of the victims.
GEORGE WHITESIDES, VIRGIN GALACTIC CEO: Space is hard. And today was
a tough day. We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure
out what happened today, and we`re going to get through it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The NTSB and FAA are both sending investigation teams to try
to figure out what happened in this accident. The NTSB team is set to get
there tomorrow morning.
But this is now the second accident in the space of less than a week
involving a commercial aircraft set to travel into space.
Joining us now to try to understand the significance of this is Xeni
Jardin, from Boingboing.net, who I turn to when I have questions at the
intersection of tech and human.
Xeni, thank you for being here.
XENI JARDIN, BOINGBOING.NET: It`s great to be back, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, commercial space travel is something that we have only
been wrapping our heads around for five or six years already. Is this a
bump in the road that we should see as not as important inflection in the
trajectory of that that we do as humans or is this something -- is this
something really significant?
JARDIN: Well, I mean, first, anytime we`re talking about a loss of
human life, it is an important inflection point. It`s an important -- it`s
time to pause, right? But I think we have to look back and remember that
every major advancement in human space flight has been preceded by failure.
You think about what the odds of these two events happening in one
week are, but look at the odds of any of these launches coming across
successfully. Think about all of the simultaneous pyrotechnic operations
involved, the millions of lines of software code, all of the human hours
involved in pulling something like this together, and even in the best case
scenario when it goes off perfectly, the best you get at the end, as a
friend at JPL said, is nominal. You had a nominal launch.
I spoke to one of the reporters from space flight now who was right
there at Wallops Island when this happened. And he described the feeling
as a gunshot going off in a crowded room.
I have been to space shuttle launches before. When they go off well,
it`s awesome, it`s terrifying, and you can feel that force throughout your
body. I can only imagine what that would be like to see the rocket crash
to ground and feel that within your -- within your being.
MADDOW: With all the fuel on that rocket set to get it so far out
instead exploding in that huge crowd in front of all those people there to
I mean, obviously, we as a country celebrate our space program in a
way that is so ecumenical, so nonpartisan, so uncynical that it`s almost
like nothing else in American achievement.
MADDOW: Like maybe we talk about our achievements in World War II
that way, maybe. But, really, we think about the space program in that
sort of -- that`s at the heart of what we think we can do.
Is there something fundamentally different with us doing it through
companies than doing it just through NASA?
JARDIN: Well, NASA has always contracted with private firms. I mean,
there`s Lockheed Martin, Boeing. To my understanding, NASA has never made
its own rockets. They were always contracting that out to private firms.
But until recently, NASA was making its own spaceships. And I think
the difference is how much NASA is up in their business. So, in eras past,
they might have been right there on the manufacturing floor, overseeing
this, and there might have been sort of a tighter connection between NASA
and the private space firms that it contracts to.
I think that what -- the two accidents that happened this week may --
well, they really have to invite a tighter focus on the safety standards
And you know, we have to also be sure that we`re clear about the fact
when we`re talking about Virgin Galactic, this is not a craft that`s going
into space. It`s going to the edge of space, but this is carrying paying
passengers. And they were originally planning on launching that service in
2015. I don`t see how that`s possible now.
MADDOW: Yes, literally thinking about doing this next year. The idea
of the democratization of space travel is mind bending thing for human
capacity, but it seems like we`re not there yet. Yes.
JARDIN: So many things have to happen, right? The engineers, the
pilots, everybody worked so hard to make that happen. But in the end, the
outcome really is up to forces much greater than ourselves.
MADDOW: Yes, humbling.
Xeni Jardin from Boingboing.net, it`s great to see you, Xeni. Thank
JARDIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is an amazing story.
All right. Here`s how it`s supposed to go. This is a flight path,
typical flight path from a city in Japan called Asahikawa, flying into
Beijing in China. This is how it`s supposed to go when you fly between
those two cities.
Now, here`s how it actually went. This is what the flight tracker
shows actually happened this week when a China Eastern Airlines jet was
supposed to land in Beijing, but it couldn`t. There was so much smog.
There wasn`t enough aerial visibility for the pilots to land at Beijing.
So, this China Eastern Airlines jet with nearly 200 people onboard had
to fly this crazy quilt pattern, flight path, looking for somebody else to
land, for somewhere else to land. It was finally down to its last 30
minutes worth of fuel and the pilots had to declare an emergency before one
local airport finally let them set down before they ran out of gas.
That happened this past weekend in the filthy, filthy skies over
Beijing, first reported a couple days ago. But this happened to about 60
commercial flights last week in Beijing. The air quality index in Beijing
is now at a level that they gently refer to locally as "severely polluted".
That made for a particularly disgusting Beijing marathon last week.
They held it on a day where they named the air level, quote, "hazardous".
If you know anything about this sort of measurements, marathon day in
Beijing had the hazardous particulate matter level of 344 micrograms per
cubic meter. That`s 14 times higher than what the World Health
Organization says is safe to breathe.
On the day of the marathon, the people`s daily newspaper alerted
people in Beijing that the air was not suitable for outdoor activities.
But 30,000 people still ran that day in the filth, or they tried to.
China National Radio reported that the Kenyan runner who led the
marathon for the first 12 miles actually quit halfway through the race.
Ambulances sat at the finish line with water sprays and sponges for the
Why sponges? Organizers advised athletes to wash off their skin after
their skin was exposed to the air. "Associated Press" shot these amazing
photos of what it was like this past week for 30,000 people to run in air
conditions that toxic and disgusting.
Lots of people ran wearing respirators which I thought, oh, they have
a cold. They`re being so considerate. And then you realize, oh, God, no,
they`re just trying to breathe.
Here`s the thing, though, next week, it`s not just the marathon or the
poor plane trying to land at Beijing airport, and running out of airline
fuel while it looks for a place to land. Next week, it`s not just those.
Next week, the whole world is supposed to go to Beijing. It`s the APEC
Summit next week, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
World leaders from all over are going to Beijing for APEC. John Kerry
is going there next week. President Obama is due to follow a few days late
And Beijing has air quality so bad right now that even the local
government has had to call the air hazardous to breathe and severely
polluted and airplanes can`t land and runners have to get sponged off
because their skin has touched the air.
So, here`s the thing to keep an eye on, because Beijing apparently has
a plan. According to reporting in "The L.A. Times", they`re mounting an
all-out effort to basically juice the air quality in time for all the
world`s presidents and prime ministers to get there next week. They`re
going to be shutting down 993 construction projects around Beijing for the
duration of the conference.
In six cities and provinces surrounding Beijing, they`re shutting down
their most polluting industries. Some are having production cut. Some are
getting shut down for the duration of the conference.
And Beijing itself starting on Monday, they`re forcing half the
private vehicles in the city off the road. I think they`re doing it by
license plate number. Half the cars in Beijing will be taken off the road
starting two days before the APEC conference and also during the height of
the conference, when President Obama is there and the other heads of state,
they`re going to give all school children and everybody who works for a
public institution in Beijing a six-day holiday.
Stay home. Don`t drive. Don`t start the car. Don`t plug anything
in. Just hold your breath and maybe the rest of the world won`t notice
that there is a real problem here.
MADDOW: So I started out this week in San Francisco, and then I went
to Denver. Then I made a brief stop in THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW man cave,
and now, I`m back here in New York. At least I think I am. It`s been sort
of a confusing week.
But hopefully you`re not confused. Hopefully you have been paying
very close attention because it`s that time again.
This has become my favorite new thing. All right. There goes my pen.
I`ll get it later.
All right. Tonight, Kent Jones is here to help with the logistics.
KENT JONES: Hi, Rachel. I was going to help you with the pen, but
there it goes.
MADDOW: Yes, sorry.
Who`s playing tonight on the Friday night news dump.
JONES: Well, tonight on the news dump, our contest assistant is Jack
Bisase from Gaithersburg, Maryland. Jack has a fellowship to become a
diplomat. He`s learning Mandarin Chinese and teaching it to his daughter.
Also he sings in, wait for it, in pickup bands.
MADDOW: Pickup bands?
JONES: Dude, yes.
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent.
JONES: Rachel, here`s Jack.
MADDOW: Hi, Jack, nice to meet you.
JACK BISASE, GAITHERSBURG, MD: Rachel, I`m honored.
MADDOW: What`s a pickup band?
BISASE: It`s kind of like pickup baseball except for musicians.
BISASE: A bunch of musicians in a room you`ve never met before. You
jam together for a while. At the end of it, you make a band. And then you
play shows together, and after 30 days, you disband and do it all over
MADDOW: At 30 days. What if you love each other too much to let go?
BISASE: Well, you can always stay together and keep playing if you
want to. But the idea is for people with busy lives to not have too much
commitment, but you want to keep music in your life. So, it`s a lot of
MADDOW: I love you already, Jack, and I love your life.
All right. So what we`re going to do here is it`s not very
complicated idea, but I understand you wanted the questions to be
difficult, and so, we`re taking no mercy here.
I`m going to ask you three questions. If you get two or more of them
right, you will win a thing.
Kent, what will Jack win?
JONES: Jack will win this lovely cocktail shaker, not available in
MADDOW: Not available in stores, and also very tiny. No danger.
Jack, we also need to bring in the disembodied voice of Steve Benen,
who is lord of Maddow Blog. He is the guy who will determine whether or
not you got a right answer.
Jack, meet Steve. Steve, meet Jack.
STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening, Jack.
BISASE: Steve, thank you. I`m honored.
MADDOW: OK. Are ready for your first question?
BISASE: I`m more than ready.
MADDOW: All right. It comes from Wednesday. On Wednesday, an
independent candidate for governor in the state of Maine, Eliot Cutler, he
held a press conference to announce that he is not dropping out of that
governor`s race, even though he now acknowledges that he cannot win that
race. After that press conference on Wednesday, who formally unendorsed
Eliot Cutler and instead threw their support to the Democrat in the race,
It`s multiple choice question. Was it: A, former Republican Senator
Olympia Snowe, B, independent Senator Angus King, C, former First Lady
Laura Bush, or, D, "The Portland Press Herald" newspaper?
BISASE: That was B, Senator Angus King, independent of Maine.
MADDOW: Steve, did Jack get that right?
BENEN: Well, for the answer, let`s check the segment from Wednesday`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Then this afternoon, his most important endorser, Maine
Independent Senator Angus King, he unendorsed Eliot Cutler and threw his
support to the Democrat, Mike Michaud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: The correct answer is B and Jack is one for one.
MADDOW: Excellent. Congratulations, Jack. One for one. Remember,
you have to get two to get the prize. Let`s go to question two. The
candidates in the Massachusetts governor`s race this week were asked at a
debate, the question was, quote, "When was the last time you cried?"
Terrible question, but fascinating answer.
The Republican candidate Charlie Baker wept all over again while
describing an encounter he said that he had during this campaign.
Afterwards, though, reporters tried to verify the story and report out the
details of what he had described but nobody has been able to prove any of
it, and now Charlie Baker has had to admit that maybe it didn`t quite
happen the way he said it did.
So, my question to you, Jack, is what was the sad story that Charlie
A, was it story about a fisherman crying over the death of the fishing
industry? B, was it a story about a funeral for a beloved Charlie Baker
family member? C, was it a story about seeing his childhood hero, meeting
a childhood hero who had fallen on hard times? Or, D, was it a story about
his campaign bus running over a deer?
BISASE: That was A, a fisherman crying over the death of the fishing
MADDOW: Steve, what`s the right answer on this one?
BENEN: Well, for the answer, let`s check the segment from last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE BAKER (R-MASS), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I said you`re --
you`re going to be fishermen. I was a fishermen, your grandfather was a
fisherman. You`re going to be a fisherman. And it ruined their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: The correct answer is A, and jack was correct again.
And I note -- just for the record as of this evening, the "Boston
Globe" still can`t verify the existence of this fisherman.
MADDOW: Congratulations on that one. Jack, well done. I will say it
has been amazing to watch all the news and all the news reporters in
Massachusetts comb through all the fishing towns around New Bedford trying
to find a man enormous enough to meet Charlie Baker`s description of what
it meant to hug a mountain.
OK. One last question, Jack. You ready?
BISASE: Yes, ma`am. Let`s do it.
MADDOW: All right. This is from Tuesday`s show. On Tuesday, of
course, we took the show on the road to Denver, Colorado.
I visited an office on Bannock Street in Denver, which housed several
successful statewide Democratic campaigns in the past. It`s now the
namesake of the Bannock Street Project. The national effort to try to
maintain the Democratic majority in the United States Senate.
While in Denver, though, they discovered something interesting about
that previous campaign headquarters for Democratic candidates. What kind
of establishment is now using that Bannock Street office?
A, is it now a Republican office, the Cory Gardner campaign
headquarters for his Republican campaign for Senate? B, is it a downtown
Denver election office where voters can drop off early ballots. C, is it a
child modeling agency? Or D, is it a gym?
BISASE: C, child modeling agency.
MADDOW: Steve, do you have the answer for us?
BENEN: Well, for the answer, let`s check the segment from Tuesday`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What they call their effort nationwide is the Bannock Street
Project, because it was on Bannock Street here in Denver, a building that
is now home to a gym.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: So, the correct answer is D. It was a gym. It used to be a
child modeling agency, but I`m afraid Jack got this one wrong.
MADDOW: So, that was the back story that we got from Lynn Bartels
about the Michael Bennet campaign, that his campaign headquarters had
turned into a child modeling agency. That`s why they use their field
headquarters, which is now a gym as the Bannock Street thing because there
were still the runways and everything with the creepy model agency. It was
So, you remember the detail, you just put it in the wrong place.
But, Kent Jones, are we going to be putting swag in Jack`s trick or
treat bag tonight?
JONES: High degree of difficulty, I say oh, yes, we are. Here it is.
MADDOW: Jack, you got two out of three right. You`re getting a
teeny, tiny little cocktail shaker. Thanks so much for playing. It was
really nice to meet you.
BISASE: Dr. Maddow, it`s been an honor of my life. Thank you.
MADDOW: I sincerely doubt that, but it`s really nice you said it
All right. If any of you out there think that you have what it takes
to survive the Friday night news dump, go to Maddowblog.com, you can learn
how to apply, it`s not very difficult, and you could win a tiny, cheap
Before you can do that, though -- it`s now time to meet your cell
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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