'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, February 26th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 26, 2015
Guest: Muriel Bowser, Xeni Jardin
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I think that was llovely, Ari. I just
really llike it.
ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Thank you.
MADDOW: A llot.
Thanks. Well done, Ari.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
So, being a gardener has never before had such social cache. I mean,
like, maybe World War II with the Victory Gardens, in places where nobody
had access to any good food. And you were there the gardener, and you
could produce the turnip and no one else could. And so, you were the king
of the world because you could grow people stuff they otherwise could not
get. Maybe in the Victory Garden era, a gardener had this much social
capital, but maybe not.
What`s s happening right now might be more extreme, because right
now, people who can garden, people who have the know-how and the experience
and the stuff and the physical ability to grow things out of dirt, those
people are about to be more socially in demand than basically anybody else
in this giant state, and this tiny District of Columbia.
So, as you know, the states of Washington and Colorado have legalized
pot already within the past year. Both of those states are now places that
have businesses, stores, dispensaries where you can walk off the street and
buy a joint. Not a different a process than buying a six-pack of beer.
They have legalized it already in Washington and in Colorado.
This week, Alaska and Washington D.C. joined them, Alaska on Tuesday
and D.C. last night at midnight. And both of those places, pot is also now
However, unlike in Colorado and Washington, in Alaska and D.C., there
are no pot stores. There is no place where you can buy it. If you`re 21
or over, it`s now legal in D.C. and Alaska to possess a certain amount of
pot. It`s also legal to smoke pot, as long as you don`t do it in public.
But how are you supposed to get this pot that you can legally possess
and legally smoke? You`re not allowed to buy it and nobody is legally
allowed to sell it. And so, get to know a gardener.
Pot is technically legal in Alaska and D.C. as of right now. But the
only way you`re legally allowed to get it is to grow it, to grow it
yourself, or for somebody that has grown it themselves to freely give it to
you in exchange for nothing. Not only can they not sell it to you, they
can`t trade you for it either.
"The Alaska Dispatch News" did this handy Q&A on the day that Alaska
legalized this week on Tuesday, and, you know, it`s asking some very basic
questions. What is still illegal as of February 24th when it comes to pot?
Well, among other things, you cannot sell pot. Really? Are you sure?
Can`t I sell pot?
No, you cannot sell pot. You can give away up to one ounce of
marijuana in Alaska, but only, quote, "without remuneration." Meaning, you
cannot be paid at all if you give somebody pot. And payment doesn`t just
mean money. Payment means anything. Because this is Alaska, they have to
specifically point out that exchanging firewood for marijuana, for
instance, that would be considered payment and you can`t do that.
So, those are your options for legally obtaining pot that you`re
legally allowed to possess and smoke. The only legal way to get it is to
either grow it themselves or be incredibly, incredibly charming to somebody
who does grow it themselves.
Washington D.C. has coined a new slogan to help people remember this
weird rule about what is newly legal and what is not in the district.
In D.C., the pot rules for short are "home use, home grown". That`s
the mantra. "Home use, home grown." You can only use pot at home, not
anywhere out in public, and the only pot you can use is pot that you, or
somebody you love, has created from dirt, and seed, water, and light.
"Home use, home grown."
Of course, because it`s D.C., there is the problem of home rule. In
Alaska, at least, this weird situation where only gardeners and the people
who love them can get high, that situation exists now in Alaska, but it
won`t exists forever. Alaska thinks that by this time next year, the state
will have regulations in place so people will be able to legally buy pot in
the state instead of having to grow it or get it for free off somebody who
That`s going to change in Alaska within a year or so. But in D.C.,
that`s apparently never going to change. At least, it`s never going to
change while the Republicans are in control of Congress. I mean, even
though, there is no Republican member of Congress from D.C., there are a
handful of Republican congressmen, specifically Jason Chaffetz of Utah,
Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and Andy Harris of Maryland, have decided
to make it their mission to stop D.C. from implementing their own law,
which D.C. residents passed with 70 percent of the vote last November.
By virtue of the vestigial constitutional relic that allows Congress
to interfere in the local laws of D.C., these Republicans in the House were
able to block the D.C. city counsel and the D.C. mayor from establishing
any rules and regulations governing the sale of pot in the districts.
That`s why D.C. isn`t going to have pot stores, like Washington and
Colorado do. That`s why there`s been a run on flower pots and Miracle Grow
at your local gardening centers as well, right?
But even though the Republicans in Congress blocked D.C. from setting
up ways to sell pot, specifically, they do not appear to have blocked D.C.
from moving ahead on the other things that were approved in that voter
approved initiative, including legalizing, possessing pot, and smoking it
in private. They`ve only blocked the sale part of it.
So, D.C.`s mayor and city council, and the police chief, and the
local authorities in D.C., they made their plans. They made their plans
for legalization to go into effect as of midnight last night. They put out
this handy flier explaining what that means.
Selling pot, not permitted. Public consumption of pot, not
permitted. Driving while high, obviously not permitted. Consumption in
public housing, not permitted. Nobody under 21 can do possess it or some
it, or grow it, anything, but as long as you home grow, and you only give
it away for free, you, if you`re over 21, can possess up to two ounces and
you can get baked at home in your private residence as long as your private
residence isn`t in public housing or anybody else that your landlord won`t
allow you to do it.
It`s very limited in scope, right, but it is a change. And D.C.`s
spunky new mayor did this press availability to announce the change, to
announce what was going to happen, to announce the rules, to announce that
it was going into effect at midnight last night to take questions from the
press, explain, like, listen, I`m at mayor of the city. This is what we`re
doing. This is what that voter initiative means and we`re going ahead with
She did that press availability and the Republicans in Congress
freaked out. Jason Chaffetz from Utah and Mark Meadows from North
Carolina, they sent the mayor of D.C. this threatening letter, saying their
oversight committee in the House is, quote, "investigating your recent
assertion that in your opinion, Initiative 71 will take effect on February
Quote, "We strongly suggest you reconsider your position." Quote,
"If you decide to move forward with the legalization of marijuana in your
district, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the
And then, look at this. They demanded that mayor hand over to
Congress a list of any employees who participated in any way, in any action
related to the enactment of this initiative. They want the employee
salary, and position, the amount of time the employee engaged in the
actions, they want a list of actions taken.
In case it was not clear enough that this was a threat from
Republican members of Congress against the mayor and other employees of
D.C. city government for implementing this new law, in case that threat
wasn`t clear enough, Congressman Jason Chaffetz again of Utah made the
threat explicit. He told "The Washington Post" in an interview, quote,
"You can go to prison for this. We`re not playing a little game here.
We`re putting them on notice."
He told "The Associated Press", quote, "The penalties are severe and
we`re serious about this."
Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, that is him in the
microphone. That`s him in the background?
Andy Harris of Maryland previously nationally famous only for this
weird thing he did right around Valentine`s Day when he sat behind someone
else on C-Span, and he ostentatiously winked and made eyes at the C-Span
camera for a solid two minutes while texting with somebody.
Yes, Republican Congressman Andy Harris previously famous only for
being the winker. He now says he was winking at his mom. OK.
Congressman Andy Harris is among the Republican members who have gone
super agro on this issue at D.C. He is now demanding that the attorney
general of the United States and the Justice Department arrest D.C. city
officials and the mayor for going ahead with legalizing pot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANDY HARRIS (R), MARYLAND: Two years prison time, you lose your
job, there are fines involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you`re feeling that there`s a certain disconnect between
what these Republican congressmen are doing to D.C., and Republicans
supposedly believing in local control, and a federal government that
doesn`t overreach -- if you`re feeling that disconnect, you are not alone
in that feeling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS FRATES, CNN: Congress blocked Washington, D.C.`s voter-
approved ballot measure to legalize marijuana.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Yes.
FRATES: And I just wonder, doesn`t that cut against the whole
Republican message of state rights, and small government, and power to the
people that you and your party are such a fan of?
CHAFFETZ: Well, Washington, D.C. is not a state. And Washington,
D.C. has a lot to offer, but, you know, free rein on marijuana use. I just
don`t buy that. I just don`t think that`s the way they should operate.
So, state`s rights, yes. But Washington, D.C. is not state.
FRATES: So, you point out that Washington, D.C. is not a state, but
certainly, everybody who lives in Washington, D.C. pays federal taxes.
They voted to allow that in the place where they live, and now, Congress
has come in and said, no, no, no. We don`t think that`s appropriate.
Isn`t it a little big brotherish, a little paternalistic?
CHAFFETZ: Well, looking at the Constitution, Washington, D.C. is
different. They`re not a state. And we have a role to play, and the
Congress passed this. And I just don`t think that recreational marijuana
in Washington, D.C. is the right direction to go.
FRATES: What would you say to people who say Mr. Chaffetz, I live in
Washington D.C., you live in Utah. It might not be right for Utah, but we
believe Washington --
CHAFFETZ: I spend a lot of my time here as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You keep that up and there will be bus trips of people going
from D.C. to Utah.
To say, hey, Utah, here`s how you ought to run things. I spent some
So, we are in this incredibly weird moment right now. I mean, it is
weird enough that temporarily in Alaska, and apparently permanently in
D.C., you can smoke pot, you can have pot, but you cannot get pot, unless
you can grow it.
So, it`s like a radical gardening mandate. That is weird enough.
But on top of that, Washington, D.C.`s duly elected mayor and city
council are now being told by Republican members of Congress that D.C.
going ahead with this new law, even in this limited way, means that the
mayor and city council ought to go to prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Some Republican members of Congress are calling for the
fed to arrest D.C.`s mayor and city council members when they arrive here
at work later this morning.
REPORTER: Mayor, how do you react to the talk that you might go to
jail, that part of this?
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, I -- you heard
that we believe that we`re acting lawfully. So, I have a lot of things to
do here in the District of Columbia. Me being in jail wouldn`t be a good
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is the person at the center of this issue
right now, the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser.
Mayor Bowser, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
BOWSER: Thank you, Rachel. It`s really my pleasure to be here.
MADDOW: I have to ask -- clearly, you are not in jail. We check to
see if we`re going to have to bail you out in order to have you on TV.
I imagine that there is a lot of tension between D.C. city government
and Congress because they have this vestigial constitutional role in sort
of stopping D.C. from doing things it wants to do.
Did you expect it would come to the point where they`d be threatening
to jail you?
BOWSER: Well, this is an issue, Rachel, where some people feel very
strongly at the Congress and they are speaking loudly. But our residents
also spoke loud and clear last November when seven out of ten of them went
to the polls to vote to approve legalization of small amounts of marijuana
in Washington, D.C. for use by adults in their homes.
And I`m the mayor of the District of Columbia. I was elected, and my
job is to implement the people`s law. The people changed the law, and it`s
my job to implement it.
MADDOW: If members of Congress that are so excited and head up about
this issue and are being so confrontational about this issue, if they
decide that, OK, they`re not going to put you in jail, but they want to do
everything possible to try to stop the city and to try to stop you from
going ahead with this, what other options do they have? What else is at
risk for you and for D.C. in terms of what Congress controls?
BOWSER: Well, the Congress can act in a lot of ways. They have --
and if your viewers don`t know this -- they have jurisdiction over the
District of Columbia in a lot of ways. We send our budget to the Congress.
Our laws lay over at the Congress. And the Congress well knows how to stop
things when they want to stop things.
And they have done it in the past. They attacked our ability to
support women`s reproductive health issues. They attacked our ability to
provide clean needle exchange in the District of Columbia, and even medical
The answer for us, of course, is statehood so that Americans that
live and pay taxes in the District of Columbia can have a voting member of
Congress, our Eleanor Holmes Norton would have a vote, and we would have
two senators. So that the members, and we have been especially antagonized
by Representative Andy Harris who is the first district in Maryland. He
could spend his time antagonizing the district, and they threaten to harass
us and attack our funds that are due us by the federal government, just
like any other state.
But I know the people in the first district of Maryland would much
rather has his attention on their issues.
MADDOW: On the substance on this charge in the marijuana laws and
the enforcement priorities in the district, how did day one go? And what
do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for D.C. in terms of
this moving forward? It is a little bit of a complicated array of things
that people are going to have to understand in terms of what changes.
BOWSER: Yes. And it was complicated by Andy Harris.
Now, the voters of the District of Columbia were very clear on what
they wanted to approve -- home use, home growth by adults. But I think it
was also the expectation that the council of the District of Columbia would
be able to pass reasonable regulations to regulate the sale of marijuana so
we wouldn`t have this confusing state.
But, currently, I want to be very clear, that residents and the will
of the voters is being realized because Initiative 71 is enforced in the
District of Columbia.
MADDOW: The mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, I know this is
an incredibly difficult and pressure-laden time for you -- thank you so
much for walking us through what you`re going through. I really appreciate
BOWSER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Good luck. I love D.C.
All right. Lots more in tonight`s show, as we get one day closer to
what may be the shut down of the Department of Homeland Security. Congress
has started to get a little loopy. Videotape evidence of their true blue
bipartisan loopiness is coming.
Plus, we`ve got some fancy car explosions for you.
Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRICIA MCKINNEY, TRMS SENIOR PLANNING PRODUCER: I`m here to give you
selections of swag prizes for our Friday night news dump edition.
MADDOW: Why do you look like at Gordon`s fisherman?
MCKINNEY: Because, I`ll put this down, do you recall the whaling
MADDOW: Yes, yes, yes.
MCKINNEY: This is one of the whaling --
MADDOW: Oh, it`s left over as a costume.
MADDOW: What happened? We`ve been using that. It`s kind of
MCKINNEY: Well, we could. I mean, we have more than one.
MADDOW: Is it lined or is it just --
MCKINNEY: Yes, it`s the real thing, it is a real --
MCKINNEY: Kind of pricey too.
OK, now, this is something that Rosaline (ph) has had on her desk and
keeps offering it every week. Why don`t she use it? Really, it`s a ruler
of the first ladies of the United States. It has no connection to the show
except that it`s been on one of our producers` desks.
MADDOW: First ladies influence -- first -- OK. Double size ruler
with teeny little pictures of all the first ladies` heads.
MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE) OK.
MCKINNEY: And then this is Bill Wolff`s beard.
MADDOW: Oh, so anybody can look bearded.
MCKINNEY: I have no idea why we made this, but we made it at some
point, and there is a piece of our former executive producer that could
MADDOW: It`s so creepy to give somebody this. I don`t know. What
do you think? This is (INAUDIBLE)
That is clearly an item of value. I think, you know what? We love
our viewers, I think the item of value.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, this is a thing that happened today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: You know what this is? It is a
snowball, and it is just from outside here. So, it is very, very cold out,
very unseasonable, so here, Mr. President, catch this. Uh-huh!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Republican Senator James Inhofe furnishing a snowball on the floor
today because logic. Obviously, the existence of a snowball in the winter
time disproves climate change. Case closed, America. Argument over. It`s
cold. That was that kind of day in Washington today.
There was also this moment, Nancy Pelosi wearing sunglasses at a
Democratic press conference. She said she was doing it in solidarity with
Harry Reid, who, it should be noted, has been wearing sunglasses inside
earlier this week, as he recovers from a terrible eye injury.
But today, he was not wearing his sunglasses, he was instead wearing
sort of prismatic half glasses, even while Nancy Pelosi tried to do
sunglasses solidarity. And it just didn`t work. It was a little weird.
Honestly, I think members of Congress are getting a little punch on
Capitol Hill. Probably because we`ve seen to be careening without control
into another government shutdown. We are about 24 hours away from the
Homeland Security Department shutting down, unless Republicans figure out
how to get over the fight they`re having about it amongst themselves.
And if you don`t believe me about the punchy thing, this was John
Boehner`s response today to a reporter who asked him what he planned to do
about that impending shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Your answer is about what you will do the same as
yesterday. Can we -- Mitch McConnell has said exactly what he is going to
do, you know exactly what you`re going to get. It`s going to be a clean
DHS funding bill. Are you going to put it on the floor, are you going to
kill it, are you going to let them vote on it, have you even had this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We didn`t invent that. That is the way -- we put that
through the kissy noises to English Google translator today, but I still
don`t know what he meant.
Punchy. It is getting punchy and weird in Washington. Punchy and
The fight among Republicans over whether Republicans should shut down
Homeland Security in protest over President Obama`s immigration policies,
it has led to some of the nastiest Republican on Republican sniping and
political cannibalism that we have seen in a long time.
Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, doesn`t want to shut
down Homeland Security. He just told reporters, quote, "People think we`re
crazy. There are terrorist attacks all over the world and we`re talking
about closing down Homeland Security. This is like living in the world of
the crazy people," end quote.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk was even more blunt. He is frustrated
with Republicans in the House who he thinks want to let Homeland Security
shut down. Mark Kirk says this, quote, "We really, as a governing party,
we got to fund Homeland Security and say to the House, here is a straw so
you can suck it up."
On the other side, there is Republican Congressman John Fleming
saying if Republicans do keep Homeland Security running, keep it open, the
conservative base, quote, "would be extremely angry". Congressman Fleming
says any action to avoid the shutdown of Homeland Security would put
Congress in very, very delicate territory.
Republican Congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona also tells reporters
that if John Boehner acts to keep Homeland Security from shutting it down,
if he acts to keep it open, John Boehner will find himself on, quote, "on
very thin ice."
This is what it has been like for the last 48 hours heading into the
shut down. Look at the headlines. GOP lawmakers clash. GOP Congress in
disarray. House GOP bashes McConnell. Republicans grapple with internal
The Republicans set this whole thing up as a fight between themselves
and the White House. Or at least themselves and Democrats. What it has
ended up being is a fight between themselves and themselves.
The Senate, at some point in the next 24 hours, is expected to pass a
bill funding Homeland Security. The House at last report had not come up
with a way to pass the same way themselves. And so, maybe they will just
pass something to keep Homeland Security open for three weeks and then, in
three weeks, we`ll go through all of this again. That`s the latest
reporting tonight from NBC News on Capitol Hill, in terms of what John
Boehner`s strategy is. Maybe a bill that just lasts for three weeks and
then we do it again? Maybe.
But honestly, nobody knows what`s going to happen until it happens.
John Boehner said yesterday that he and Mitch McConnell haven`t spoken in
two weeks while this crisis between them has been brewing.
Now, we are heading down to the last 24 hours and it is anyone`s
guess as to what they will do. The stress seems like it`s getting to them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We`re waiting to see
what the Senate can or can`t do. The house passed a bill six weeks ago.
It`s time for the Senate to do their work. I don`t know what the Senate
can or what they can`t produce. If ands and buts were candy and nuts,
every day would be Christmas.
REPORTER: Jeh Johnson --
BOEHNER: We passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland
Security six weeks ago. Six weeks ago. Time for the Senate to act.
We passed a bill to fund the department six weeks ago. I`ll tell you
what, how many times do I have to say it?
BOEHNER: When I make decisions, I`ll let you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`ll let you know. It`s so weird.
Watch this space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You`re going to hear it
directly from me and bluntly because I care. If I didn`t care, there`s no
reason to do that.
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But sit down and shut up?
CHRISTIE: Yes. Well, sometimes, people need to be told to sit down
and shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yeah, shut up! Whoo!
Oh, yes, it`s that time of year again. It is officially CPAC Week.
This is the week when the whole conservative movement travels en masse to
Washington, D.C., to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
They do this every year. It`s always fun.
But this particular CPAC is more exciting than most years because
this year, all the potential 2016 Republican candidates for president are
there, trying to drum up support for their might be candidacy.
So, today`s session included speeches by the aforementioned Chris
Christie. Shut up!
There was a particularly well-received speech by Sarah Palin today.
I`m not kidding. It received a lot of compliments across the aisle, from
There was a not-that-well-received speech by Ted Cruz today. He
seemed to have not much of an effect on the crowd at all. Ben Carson was
there at the opener. He`s a very good speaker. Everybody is there.
But here is the thing to keep an eye on for tomorrow, because
tomorrow, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is scheduled to give his CPAC
speech, and there appears to be a movement afoot in which CPAC attendees
who do not think that Jeb Bush is sufficiently conservative, they are
apparently going to boycott his appearance tomorrow.
Not boycott in the sense that they`re not going to show. They say
they will show up, but then as soon as he takes the stage, they plan to
stand up and walk out of the room. This is sort of a protest against him
for being too much of a squish.
The conservative "Washington Times" reports today that, quote, "a
movement is under way to stage an informal protest when Jeb Bush takes the
stage." So, that would be dramatic.
Jeb Bush however apparently has a planned of his own. This is very
hard to believe, but Slate.com is reporting tonight that the Jeb Bush team
has apparently arranged for his supporters to be brought to the CPAC
conference by bus tomorrow morning to try to fill the seats, to pack the
hall with people who like Jeb.
"Slate" got a hold of e-mails from of Jeb Bush`s top supporters. The
email implores the recipients of the email to, quote, "arrive as early as
possible to get a seat. Our early rise team will be there at 7:30 a.m.
onward, helping reserve seats." 7:30 onward, Jeb Bush isn`t speaking until
1:40 p.m. But they`re packing the hall for him starting at 7:30 in the
A Bush insider confirming to "Slate" tonight that Jeb Bush`s PAC is
helping organize transportation to the event.
So, this is shaping up to be a really interesting showdown at CPAC
tomorrow. I mean, who`s going to prevail? The Jeb Bush seat stuffers who
were there five hours early, to make sure only pro-Jeb Bush people are in
the room, or the Jeb Bush boycotters who plan to be in the room but get up
and walk out as soon as he shows up.
That`s tomorrow afternoon. Grab your popcorn, I love you, CPAC.
MADDOW: This is a $200,000 car. At least it was.
These photos were posted online today "Hot Rod" magazine, and then
picked by Jalopnk.com. They got a lot of online traffic today.
According to "Hot Rod", this car, a $200,000 Porsche Turbo 911S, over
400 horsepower, goes 190 miles an hour, this car apparently self-emulated
in the parking of a Florida Costco while the owner was inside.
And so, naturally, somebody shot a video. Lots of people took
pictures, and now you can spend a lot of time looking at minute detail at a
totally destroyed, very, very valuable car.
This is a popular niche online actually. At wreckedexotics.com, all
they do is post pictures of very expensive cars that have been somehow
destroyed. You can search by type of expensive car or you can search by
type of wreck.
So, if you really like to see expensive cars on fire, you can see
just the ones on fire. If you want to see just expensive cars crashed into
buildings, you can search by that too.
When it comes to the destruction of very valuable things, there is a
very whole corner of the Internet devoted to pictures of the accidental
destruction of very, very valuable cars. Very valuable things destroyed
There is also valuable things destroyed by looting and stealing. The
most famous thing about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in
Massachusetts is its trove of Rembrandts, and Degas and Monets and Vermeers
that they had stolen from them in 1990. Still unsolved. The FBI still has
a $5 million reward for the art theft.
The museum still displays the empty frames of where all of its
paintings and drawings used to be before they got stolen.
In the category of very valuable things lost through a looting and
stealing, you can also put the art and artifacts that were lost from the
Iraqi National Museum after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the collapse of
the Iraqi government and the U.S. as the invading force not making any
provisions to protect that invaluable heritage, that invaluable stuff from
people who steal or loot it.
Sometimes, invaluable things are lost by accident. Sometimes,
they`re lost by looting and stealing, which may or may not be facilitated
by negligence in caring for those items.
But there is a whole other category for the terribleness of the loss,
when very valuable things, irreplaceable things are lost because of a
deliberate decision to destroy. And in our time on Earth, we are now
getting used to the deliberate desecration and destruction of world
heritage sites because of religious fanaticism.
Radical Islamic fundamentalists deciding that it`s up to them to rid
the world of things like the Bamiyan Buddhas, these huge Buddhas the in the
painted caves in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban government in
Afghanistan in 2001 took those Buddhas out with anti-aircraft missiles and
tank shells and ultimately dynamite and they totally destroy them.
A decade later, it was the U.N. World Heritage site, the ancient
Islamic shrines in Timbuktu in Mali, attacked and destroyed by a fanatical
linked to al Qaeda. It`s in the summer of 2012.
Now, of course, it`s ISIS. After ISIS took control of Mosul, Iraq`s
second largest city, one of the things ISIS did was attacked Mosul`s
library and the library in the University of Mosul as well, destroying
books about everything other than Islam in a bon fire.
Now, today, ISIS has released a video showing their fighters using
sledge hammers and drills to destroy ancient -- really ancient artifacts,
icons that in some cases are over 2,000 years old, from among the most
ancient civilizations on the planet.
NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Turkey right
now and he filed this report tonight. Watch this.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Add cultural genocide to ISIS` growing list of crimes. The group, which
has killed, terrorized, and uprooted hundreds of thousands of people in
Iraq and Syria is now destroying their heritage, too.
"We were ordered by our prophet to take down false idols and destroy
them", says this ISIS member in a video released by the group -- which
includes music and slow motion sequences.
Then, the men go to work, ransacking Mosul`s renowned museum and a
nearby archaeological site, demolishing irreplaceable statutes and works of
art. Some crumbled with a mere push. Others require more effort.
The big ones are defaced with power drills, including this winged
bull, a god who protected the Assyrian empire 2,500 years ago, now
powerless against this modern day vandals.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reporting
Richard now joins us live from Istanbul.
Richard, thanks for staying up late to be with us tonight. It`s nice
to have you here.
ENGEL: Absolutely. That video is just so infuriating. And we spoke
to an archaeologist who has been studying this region, studying this part
of Iraq for two decades now. And it`s heartbreaking. This is world
civilization that ISIS is trying to erase by design.
And it is systematic and it is going on, and it is not over yet.
What we saw today is really just a part of a broader campaign because ISIS
has set up shop in Mesopotamia, in the cradle of civilization.
Just in Iraq, there are around 2,000 archaeological sites in areas
that are under ISIS control. That`s just in Iraq, let alone Syria.
MADDOW: Richard, in terms of ISIS`s strategy, obviously, they`re
masters of propaganda. I think in your report tonight on "Nightly News",
rightly pointing out some of the production values and the production
techniques they`re using to try to sort of increase the horror as you watch
these irreplaceable things destroyed.
Is this designed to provoke in the same way that their video showing
violence against people and murder of hostages are designed to provoke --
do they want a specific response to this?
ENGEL: No, this has nothing to do with provoking the West. It`s not
like putting a Western hostage on his knees and killing him while insulting
This is a much more religious mission. These people believe that
this is the point of establishing the caliphate. They are purifying their
land by removing previous cultures, by removing anything that came before
In Islamic terms, the time before Islam is called Jahiliyyah, the
time of ignorance, and things from the time of ignorance as it is called
are a distraction from Islam at best. At worst, they are false idols.
They are things that can tempt you away from the one and true path of God`s
So, they want to remove these things and believe it is their holy
duty and that they are proud to do this in front of their community and in
front of potentially other recruits abroad.
The Taliban did a similar thing in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, there is a
trend of iconoclasm within Islam and also within -- within all of the sort
of monotheistic religions. Early Christians did the similar things, but
that was 2,000 years ago.
MADDOW: Speaking of early Christians and looking at these artifacts,
some of them leading back to the Assyrian Empire, right, from 2,000 years
BC, obviously, this is happening in the context of these reports that may
be as many as a few hundred Assyrian Christians, not fighters, just
civilians, women, children, families, have been taken by ISIS. Do you know
what is going on in terms of the veracity of those reports and what we
think the risk is to those Christians that they have kidnapped?
ENGEL: Yes, these ruins are from the Assyrian civilization, from the
city of Nineveh, which was around 2,500 years ago. That`s when it
And the people that lived in this area where the Assyrians lived have
adopted the name and they are the Assyrian Christians. They are not the
ancient civilization. They`re just the descendents you will say, or the
people who live in that region. And the Assyrian Christians have been
targeted by ISIS for death, conversion, enslavement, sometimes they have
been taken has slaves working in ISIS homes -- cooking, cleaning, doing
whatever the masters would demand.
And starting last Sunday, there was a series of about 30 Assyrian
Christian villages that were holding out. They organized their defense
committees and their own popular militias and ISIS invaded and they swept
in. And the defense committees could not hold on. And some Christian men,
defenders, were taken captive, some elderly women and children were taken
And there are reports that as many as 300 of these villagers are now
in ISIS`s hands, fate unknown.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, just
absolutely harrowing stuff. Richard, thank you very much, man. I
MADDOW: All right. After a long, hard battle, today marks an
Independence Day for the Internet. We`ve got lots ahead on that. So,
please stay with us.
MADDOW: I have said this before and it remains true. We get more e-
mail, more feedback, more tweets about our next guest than any other guests
we have on this show. It is an under statement that she is a fan favorite.
She`s also my technological Sherpa. Her name is Xeni Jardin and she joins
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`ve been having a clash of the titans in this country.
This one involves really giant corporations on one side, including this
network`s parent company, and really giant corporations on the other side,
too. The two sides have been fighting about how much and whether the
government should regulate traffic on the Internet.
You`ve got cable companies on one side who don`t want -- and telecom
companies, right -- who don`t want the government telling them what to do.
And you`ve got other companies, some small ones, some big ones, like Google
and Facebook, on the other side, along with a whole bunch of activists, and
they`re all worried about the cable companies making it harder to see
certain stuff on the Internet. People being able to pay to get their stuff
out there and people who can`t pay getting stuck in the slow lane.
In a fight like this, there`s going to be a winner, there`s going to
be a loser. And honestly, yes, it is way more fun to watch gorillas to
fight about anything than it is to watch giant corporations fight about net
neutrality and regulation of the Internet.
But there`s also a very interesting political argument that`s been
articulated in some weird ways. One side of the argument has been, in some
ways, represented by the Glenn Beck wing of the conservative movement.
Glenn Beck has moved on from his hobbit kingdom at FOX News to the hobbit
kingdom he built for himself on the Internet machine.
Mr. Beck would now like to sell you a $17.91 Bill of Rights cap, in
case your patriotic ears get cold. He would also sell you some Bill of
Rights jeans for when you`re just lounging around your underground bunker.
Glenn Beck e would most definitely like to tell you on the idea that
this net neutrality thing, whatever that is, that will definitely obviously
be the socialist end of the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, BLAZE TV: This is truly about control. When you look at
what they`ve tried to do, they tried to take away your guns. They`re
trying to take away your voice. They need control of the Internet. If we
lose the Internet, and the government takes control of the Internet, you
will not be able to chart your own course online either. That leaves us
exactly where? With a mimeograph machine?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They`re taking away your guns and they`re making you use a
mimeograph thing. It`s all the same thing. I`ll meet you in the basement.
The Glenn Beck, they`re coming for your keyboard side, they lost the
argument today. The Federal Communications Commission today voted 3-2 for
net neutrality, against the fulminations of the Glenn Beck side of the
argument, right? To the extent that he was making a political argument
here, he lost the political argument.
But if the paranoia Glenn Beck side of this lost, how do we
understand who won? And what do they get for a prize? And for the people
who have been activists on this issue for years while most of the rest of
us have been wondering how it`s all going to wonder -- wondering how it`s
going to work out, how does today feel for the people who fought so hard to
Joining us is Xeni Jardin, tech culture reporter, co-editor of
Boingboing.net, a grassroots supporter of net neutrality.
Xeni, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
XENI JARDIN, BOINGBOING.NET: It`s an honor to be here again, Rachel.
MADDOW: I have been watching your reaction online to this today. I
have been watching the discussion online today. I know that everybody is
psyched, but can you explain to people who can`t previously care about this
issue why you are psyched?
JARDIN: There is exuberance and joyous nerd core rapping ringing out
throughout the Internet land today. There`s also I hear a party for net
neutrality advocates in D.C. with cocktails, with names like Internet
libre. I know you`re fan of cocktails.
There`s just a sense of great, great excitement and triumph, because
this really was a victory of the people. Net neutrality is basically the
idea that all network packets are created equal. And if you`re into cat
GIFs and I`m into dog GIFs, we get to access the same stuff at the same
speed, not one being slower than the other because Comcast or Time Warner
has a sweetheart deal with the people who make dog GIFs.
The idea that the content, that, you know, the videos, the blogs, the
news reports, the everything that we like to share, to access and to talk
about online, that everything should be a level playing field. That`s what
this fight was about.
And we won. And the people won. Not the big companies with all of
the money on their side. There was such a diverse group of grassroots
organizations. It was like -- depending on how you count it, 4 million to
7 million American citizens -- contacted the FCC to let our government know
that preserving the status quo, preserving an open and free Internet was
important and it is important.
MADDOW: How resilient is this decision? Obviously, I think people
worry that this might not happen because of the amount of lobbying and the
big money interest, particularly pressing for this to go the other way.
Now that the FCC has made this decision how long will it stick and what
will determine whether or not it does?
JARDIN: I`m not foolish enough to predict that, but a year and a
half ago everyone thought this was absolutely impossible. I do know that
this is something that our president has taken up as something of a
personal cause, and he hasn`t had that many political victories.
So, if you think about it, I don`t imagine he`s going to let this one
go without a fight. You know, the Republicans in Congress would have to
have a veto-proof majority on proposing legislation that would gut this.
That`s a high hurdle to pass. I do imagine, as many others do, that
there`s going to be legal challenges. There will be lawsuits. But this
law, the ruling that came down today, this is like the third round. Each
round prior was challenged by lawsuits, the telcos, the cable companies,
the trade groups who would profit from having the ability to charge for
MADDOW: So, we`ll have to see whether or not they go back and do
that again. At this point, an open question whether or not the market
adjusts to it, or whether they keep fighting it in a very short term.
Xeni Jardin, tech culture reporter and co-editor of Boingboing.net --
Xeni, thank you. Really appreciate it.
JARDIN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Some late breaking news is just in. Please
state with us. I`ll have that for you after we come back.
MADDOW: Update with some brand new news. Today, the Senate
Judiciary Committee took a vote on whether or not to confirm Loretta Lynch
to be the next attorney general replacing Eric Holder. There was suspense
whether she would get enough votes.
In the end, three Republicans voted with Democrats to confirm her
today. That was enough to move her nomination forward to the floor.
However, we can`t report exclusively tonight on when that is going to
Senate sources telling THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW tonight that a floor
vote on Loretta Lynch is likely to be next week.
Now, there has been no official announcement on this. Junior Texas
Senator Ted Cruz has been campaigning that the Republican leadership in
Congress shouldn`t even allow a vote on her on the floor.
But again, our sources telling us tonight that the Republican
leadership in Congress is blowing off Ted Cruz on this matter and Loretta
Lynch will get her vote to be the next attorney general of the United
States next week. We`ll see. Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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