The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/29/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Chris, Alex did such a good job this week, we
hatched a plan in my news meeting today that we were going to send our show
drone down to your news meeting. Trailing a banner that said, “no
pressure”. But our drone broke. So we didn`t do it.
ALEX WAGNER, “NOW” HOST: That`s amazing. The pressure drone, only
from the mind of Rachel Maddow.
MADDOW: Thanks, guys. Great weekend. Good luck, Chris. We`re all
rooting for you.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thank you. I`m excited for Monday.
MADDOW: All right. Me, too.
Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
There`s a lot going on – obviously, at MSNBC there`s a lot going on.
But there is a lot going on in the world this Friday Eve before the Easter
The new pope, Pope Francis, washing the prisoners` feet. Previous
popes have washed the feet of priests on Thursday before Easter, but this
new pope, Pope Francis, shows prisoners and women prisoners and Muslim
prisoners before them to try to embody the humility of Christ. Catholic
traditionalists are reportedly upset about the women and Muslims` part of
it, but it kind of seems like the new pope does not care particularly about
On the Korean peninsula today, the young leader of North Korea
continued to up the belligerence and bluster factor. He released this
weirdly staged and probably doctored photograph purporting to show plans in
a sort of situation room for an attack on North Korean attack on the U.S.
mainland. They also declared tonight that his country is in a state of war
with South Korea. Nobody knows exactly what that means from a country that
regularly threatens to nuke everyone in sight. But even if this is just
more North Korean crazy, it is in fact an escalation of the north Korean
crazy and so, it bears watching.
President Obama was in Miami today, making the case for infrastructure
investment for building projects both to put people to work and to invest
in infrastructure we need as a country.
The administration today is also announcing new rules to extend the
anti-smog, anti-soot air pollution rules that apply in California to the
rest of the country. The extension would happen to the rest of the country
by 2017. Some environmentalists are handling this as the most significant
things President Obama has done on the environment and on the issue of
pollution in his entire presidency.
So, for the Friday before Easter, there is a lot going on in the
world. But we begin tonight with the Republican Party.
Republican Party is specifically trying to hack its way out of a
wilderness of its own making, trying to make connections with, trying to
reintroduce themselves too, a whole swath of the American electorate who
thinks that Republican Party is ick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: There is a hilarious episode on
“Seinfeld” – any “Seinfeld” friends? – Where Jerry, Jerry admits that he
loves Asian woman but he frets and he worries. He says, is it racist to
like a certain race? So, it is with trepidation that I`d like to express
my admiration today for the romance of the Latin culture. I`m a great fan
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky then went on in the same speech
just moments later to read to the assembled crowd which was the Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce, to read to them a Pablo Neruda love poem. Not a
policy poem, not a poem about commerce or chambers, but rather a love poem.
To show his love of how romantic Latinos are – Latino business leaders who
turned out to hear a policy address by a United States senator, and instead
got a love poem, in his profession of the romantic love of Latinos.
After the election, the Republican Party decided this year that one of
its catastrophic failures, not just little thing that needed to be tweaked,
some embarrassment that should be regretted, one of the structural things
that they have got that threatened their existence as a party that can
compete nationally is the issue of Latino voters – how much Latino voters
do not like the Republican Party.
And so, right after the election, within weeks of the election, they
made a big show at their first big national Republican Party reinvention
pageant. They made a big show of trying to fix what`s wrong with their
appeal to Latino voters. Republican congressman got specific advice. They
got a list of dos and don`ts. From a group formed to try to make Latinos
like Republicans more.
The Hispanic Leadership Network encouraged leaders in Congress to,
quote, “please consider these tonal sensitive messaging points as you
discuss immigration. Don`t use phrases like `send them all back`, or
`electric fence,` `build a wall along the entire border.` Don`t use the
word `illegals` or `aliens`. Don`t use the term `anchor baby.` Don`t
characterize all Hispanics as undocumented or all undocumented as
And, I mean, it is kind of embarrassing, right, that a member of
Congress, Republican members of congress have to be told this, have to be
told not to characterize all Hispanics in the United States as undocumented
aliens or illegals. It is embarrassing to give and presumably to receive
advice like this. But it is probably practical for the GOP. Even with all
of that practical yet embarrassing advice though, I am guessing that it
never occurred to anybody trying to rebrand the Republican Party for a
I`m guessing it never occurred to anybody that they might also need to
directly tell Republican members of Congress to not use this word in
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. DON YOUNG (R), ALASKA: My father had a ranch. We used to hire
50 to 60 wetbacks and to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the
same tomatoes now. It`s all done by machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who knew the tonally sensitive messaging points for the 2013
Congress should have said, don`t use words like that. Not at a bar when
you`re drunk and feeling particularly racist, not a home, not with your
buddies, not ever, let alone in an interview into a microphone.
But yet, that was Congressman Don Young speaking in an interview into
a microphone with a radio station in his home state of Alaska. Didn`t
anyone ever tell you, sir, not to say that word? It never came up before?
Everybody in personal life who`s urged you to say that he`s been totally
call with that?
Immediately about upon saying that, Don Young did put out a statement
saying that he meant no disrespect by it. “The Anchorage Daily News” noted
in that initial statement, Congressman Young, quote, “stopped short of
Finally, late today, he did go back for another pass and he did end up
apologizing. Took a couple of tries, but he finally got there.
Also, today, we learned that the great state of North Carolina has
decided to get rid of the state`s office of Hispanic and Latino affairs.
They have this state office in North Carolina for a good reason.
Latinos are the state`s fastest growing ethnic community by a mile. This
office was designed to help the Latino community in North Carolina, which
is growing so fast, help them have a say ion policy decisions that affect
them. It was where Hispanic residents, Spanish-speaking residents went to
get bilingual help, during hurricanes, other natural disasters.
North Carolina`s Hispanic population grew by 111 percent between the
years 2000 and 2010. That is a fact that we know because it was put
together in a report by the director of North Carolina office of Hispanic
and Latino Affairs, which is the office that they are now closing. And the
reason they are now closing it is because now, North Carolina has a
Governor Pat McCrory, elected just this past election, has decided
that now he is the governor there and there isn`t a Democrat in the
governor`s office any more, the Latino office has to go.
The North Carolina Office of Hispanic and Latino Affairs was founded
in 1988, and the governor was a Democrat named James Hunt. The office
survived just fine for 14 years. For the 14 years that North Carolina had
But enter the first Republican governor of 14 years, Pat McCrory,
three months after taking office, he closes it down.
So, that`s Republican outreach to the fastest growing ethnic community
in the state of North Carolina. That`s how that goes. The Republican
Party has a deep, deep problem. Not an image problem, a deep problem with
At the base level, the real problem is not the Don Youngs of the world
– although that`s a problem – is that Latino voters don`t like what
Republican Party is offering. It doesn`t like what the Republican Party is
offering as politics. It doesn`t like what the Republican Party is
offering as policy.
Look at Obamacare. If you ask Latinos, Latinos support it by 57
percent. Republicans just marked their 39th attempt to repeal Obamacare.
Republicans are dead-set, die on a hill opposed to taxes being any part of
bringing down the debt and deficit. That`s what they most want to be known
for this year. While the proportion of Latinos who disagree say tax
increases should be a part of debt reduction is a whopping 83 percent.
How about climate change, which Republicans denounce as a hoax? If
you ask Latinos if climate change is a serious problem, 70 percent of
Latinos say yes. Latinos support gun safety regulation, 62 percent of
Latinos support a limit on high capacity magazines.
On the issue of abortion, it`s 2/3 of Latinos who say that abortion
should be legal.
Ask Latinos about marriage equality for same sex couples. A clear
majority of Latinos say yes, they are in favor of that.
That Senator Rand Paul speech, the “I love hot Latin culture, let me
read you a love poem”, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce speech, before he got
to the love poem, that speech was all about how he is sure that Latinos
agree with him on abortion and same-sex marriage. He said he was sure they
agree with him. I mean, check the stereotype. That`s what the stereotype
says. He is totally wrong about that no matter what the stereotype is.
Latino voters do not agree with him or his party on those issues probably,
but he`d still want the stereotype to fit. So why change it? He likes it.
Part of the big story of the Republican Party in 2013 is going to be
watching them try to bridge this gap, try to fix this problem that they`ve
got with Latino voters. This problem if they cannot fix it, they cannot
win a national election.
When the party released its formal autopsy of what they did so wrong
in the last election, the headline conclusion was that the party said it
would spend $10 million on minority outreach. And when they meant
minority, what they said minority, they really meant Hispanic and Latino.
The word “Hispanic” appeared 99 times in this 97-page report – once per
game and then some. This is their absolute focus a as party.
Well, today, we also learned that one of the things we should expect
from Republicans toward this aim is that they are working on new TV ads,
new TV ads starring the chairman of the Republican Party that are aimed at
rebranding the Republican Party for Latino voters.
The basic idea has to be what? I mean, sorry about that whole racial
slur thing from Don Young? Never mind that. We love you. Bienvenido,
thank you for picking our food.
Thank you for picking our food? What?
Yes. According to Media Matters reporting today, the Republican ad
man who`s making the ad at a New York politics conference yesterday said
that the ad RNC chairman Reince Priebus, quote, “reaching out to those
Latin Americans who come to the United States to help us build our country,
to help harvest our food.”
Thanks for picking our food, Latinos. Love the Republican Party.
This is the thing the Republican Party is supposedly working on
hardest. And this is how it is going so far.
Joining me now is the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The
Washington Post,” MSNBC political analyst Gene Robinson.
Gene, it`s very good to see you. Thank you for being here.
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here, Rachel.
I mean, where do we begin? You know? May I just say, dios mio.
Where are we?
MADDOW: I have to say my favorite part, don young is amazing hp his
first explanation is he didn`t know it was bad. Which says, I mean, OK,
you didn`t know. But presumably that means you`ve been using this in other
context and nobody you have ever spoken to raised an eyebrow or told you
that`s a bad thing? Then he came around and apologized.
You did see Republican leadership, other Republicans jump on Don Young
and say that he had to apologize today. Is that a sign of progress?
ROBINSON: Well, I suppose. It`s a sign of progress but it doesn`t
get them very far because Don Young set them so far back. So, really, they
are just recovering a tiny bit of ground they might have lost earlier in
And let me just interpose a word about Rand Paul and reading the Pablo
Neruda poem to the Chamber of Commerce – is he aware that Pablo Neruda was
a communist? He was great poet, one of the great poets of the 20th
century, but he was so far from Rand Paul or anything Rand Paul would ever
But of course, I doubt that Rand Paul understands that. I imagine
many people in his audience might have.
MADDOW: This is – actually, the Rand Paul thing, I feel like it`s
important, because it is a perfect microcosm of what is going on. He is
there giving what is billed as a policy agrees to the Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, to business leaders from the Latino community. Instead of
talking about policy he diverts into a “Seinfeld” episode that makes him
feel better about his sort of generalize, racial feelings about hot-
blooded, romantic Latinos, and then reads them a love poem.
And meanwhile, when he is talking about policy, generalizes from that
hot-blooded romantic stereotype that he`s got to say, I`m sure you agree
with me on abortion.
MADDOW: I mean, the distance between policy and image here is the
distance that I`m not sure the Republican Party has the depth position to
pick up. And I don`t know when that starts to change.
ROBINSON: Well, the party clearly doesn`t understand it and those in
the party who do understand it, either don`t want it change it or don`t
know how to change it.
I mean, look, Marco Rubio understands some of this stuff, right? He
understands, for example, that the party has to change its tune on
immigration in a major way as a threshold issue to this group of voters.
But he can`t get that message through.
And from Rand Paul`s speech and the whole setting and the way it was
delivered, and the topic he covered, he clearly doesn`t get it at all. So
his own fumbling attempts at going somewhere on immigration, which really
didn`t lead any place, have to be totally discounted because clearly the
man doesn`t know where he is when he is talking to Latino voters. He
doesn`t have a clue.
MADDOW: While this is happening on the Republican side and I think
the thing that`s maybe most important about it is that this does – this is
their highest priority, this is what they`re working on the hardest and
this is how it`s coming out.
But are they making such fools of themselves that Democratic Party is
in danger of just sitting back and popping popcorn and watching them doing
this and Democratic Party may not feel like it has to work to continue to
court the Latino vote, to cultivate Latino leaders, which are few and far
between in top tier Democratic Party politics. And to make sure they
hustled to get, for example, immigration reform actually done.
ROBINSON: Well, absolutely, Rachel. And given the – just the
politics of the matter right now, why would Democrats do anything but just
sit back and pop a popcorn because Republicans are doing such a good job of
setting themselves back as opposed to forward in the relations with Latino
But you raise an important point. It takes the onus off of Democrats
to demonstrate, to actually be what they claim to be. Representatives of
this fast-growing communities, largest community in the country and to move
forward on immigration reform and take for what some Democratic senators,
for example, might be seen as a tough vote.
But arms need to be twisted, votes need to be taken, because this is
something the United States needs.
MADDOW: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post”,
MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson – Gene, thank you for being here.
I really appreciate you on Friday before on Easter - thanks a lot, man.
ROBINSON: Di nada.
MADDOW: All right.
Lots ahead tonight, including something I thought would not, something
that I thought the Republicans would not let happen in Washington. That
is, in fact, happening. I was wrong. Hooray! That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Let this be our national goal.
At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be
dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs
to heat our homes and to keep our transportation moving.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The time has come to put the
national interests above the special interests and to totally eliminate
political action committees.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re going forward of research
on a new Orient Express that could, by the end of the next decade, take off
from Dulles airport, accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound,
attaining low earth orbit and flying to Tokyo within two hours.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: By the end of the next decade. He was speaking in – that by
the end of the `90s and Orient Express in space. Two hours from D.C. to
Tokyo. Hasn`t it been amazing?
I love the State of the Union address, any president, any year. If
you are a civics dork, you love the State of the Union. It`s lots of
politics, yes, but it`s also tons of policy, more than the debates, more
than the press conference of a typical president – lot of specific policy
The trade-off, though, to getting all that policy in the State of the
Union address is that a lot of policies the president puts forward in that
speech don`t ever come true.
Here is one idea though. From last month`s State of the Union address
that I thought would not come to pass because it involved Republican
participation, I didn`t think it would ever happen. Turns out it is going
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, tonight, I`m
announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in
America and it definitely needs improvement.
I`m asking two long time experts in the field, who by the way,
recently served as top attorneys for my campaign and for governor Romney`s
campaign to lead it.
We can fix this. And we will. The American people demand it and so
does our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The idea of a presidential commission to fix voting problems
in this country. You know, as of this week we now know that this idea,
which is one of those things I thought you said in the State of the Union
that just poof, goes away forever, it turns it has not been relegated to
reminder bin of the big presidential speech making ideas. It is not a low
orbit Orient Express ala Ronald Reagan. It`s actually happening.
Yesterday afternoon, President Obama signed an executive order to
actually form that commission. And the Republican co-chair he said he was
going to appoint to the commission, Mitt Romney`s campaign lawyer, Ben
Ginsberg, he is, in fact, going along with it.
The order asked Mr. Ginsberg and his Democratic counterpart Bob Bauer
to come up with a variety of way to shorten voting lines and to generally
make elections more efficient. It also directs the commission to submit a
report to the president within six months. So, that is what is happening
at the executive level, an order from the president looking for solutions
to our country`s miserable voting problems.
Meanwhile, in the states, Republicans are still doing everything they
can to make the problems worse. New requirements banning people from
voting if they do not show documentation they ever showed before in order
to vote. New roles to that effect are on the move in Arkansas over the
veto and the Democratic on the Democratic governor there.
Republican Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia, governor ultrasound.
He just signed one of those bills for Virginia as well, this week. And
North Carolina, Republican legislators there filing two bills to cut North
Carolina`s early voting window in half and to eliminate same-day voter
registration. And that`s just this week.
So far this year, Republican lawmakers in 30 states have proposed 55
different new voting restrictions to make voting harder than it already is,
55, this year, since the election. The folks at Project Vote are calling
it an on onslaught.
But President Obama`s election night statement that this is something
we need to try to fix and then the promise that he made to try to start
fixing it in his State of the Union address, that at least is actually
happening, starting now. The papers have been signed. Baby steps, baby
steps against an onslaught of legislation in the opposite direction. But,
still, baby steps are better than no steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: We`re going forward with research on new Orient Express that
could, by the end of the next decade, take off from Dulles Airport,
accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound, attaining low earth orbit for
flying to Tokyo within two hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A major point of discussion in American politics right now is
whether or not gun reform can happen, whether the politics of gun reform is
actually possible from within this weird matrix we`re in of huge public
support. But also, vociferous lobbying against it by a very loud and
occasionally intimidating minority. Can our political system work this
It turns that one unexpected part of the politics is the actions of
just individual humans. Not in a lobby, not as part of the a group, just
individual citizens using whatever resources and persuasive powers they
have to make the case themselves in their own terms and in their own
communities that there should be reform.
Like for example, this guy. This is Jerry DeWitt or on Twitter, he is
@commonsenseinCO, CO as in Colorado, which is where Jerry lives.
Yesterday, when the search warrants were published that show that the
shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary had used extended capacity magazines in
his semiautomatic rifle and shot over 444 bullets in less than five
minutes. When Jerry read that yesterday, he then tweeted this photo of
himself, and tweeted it to a bunch of people, including a bunch of
lawmakers and some people in the news business, which is why I saw it.
The caption says, “As a Colorado native, I began hunting rabbits and
pheasants in junior high, and in high school, I also hunted deer and elk.
When I lived in Texas, I hunted quail, and dove and dear.
I`m 58 years old now. In my lifetime, I have not fired 154 pounds.
Newtown school gunman fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes. Please
tell me again why high capacity magazine clips and assault weapons should
This is just one guy – a gun owner taking his own steps on his own
time in his own way to push for the possibility of gun reform, from his own
special perspective. Well, tonight here for the interview, we are going to
be talking to another citizen who does not have political ties, who`s not
part of any group, but personally because of what else he does in his life,
has a ton of resources to bring to this issue and he has decided to brings
it in a very big and in fact historic way.
That is the interview tonight. It is a fascinating story. It`s
exclusive to us here on the show. And that is next.
MADDOW: OK. Gun buy back program in Camden, New Jersey. More than a
thousand – look at this – more than a how guns turned in from Camden.
Payment was on a sliding scale due to the lethalness of gun you turned in.
Gun buy back programs in the Bay Area, in California, Oakland and San
Francisco, Oakland and San Francisco collected hundreds of guns. They paid
hundreds of dollars for each one of them.
In Brooklyn, New York, in December, the police department and district
attorney`s office co-sponsored a gun buy back. Again, they got hundreds of
guns off the street.
Baltimore Maryland, police officers traded grocery store gift cards
In Los Angeles, the city`s gang-reduction unit sponsored a gun buy
back program that brought in 2,000 weapons.
Orange County, New York, the sheriff`s office of New York ran a buy
back for three months straight. It`s a hundred bucks for any gun turned
in. It ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for three months. That`s
the haul they got.
Fremont, New Jersey, a gun buy back at the city`s fire department
training facility. The police department paid out more than $50,000 in
exchange for hundreds of guns and rifles and assault rifles.
Santa Clara County, California, has had two gun buy back programs just
this month. The county provided the money to exchange for guns.
Last weekend, Atlantic City, New Jersey – their guns for cash buy
back in Atlantic City was the second most successful in state history.
That state`s most successful was just held in January.
We know how these programs, right? Cities and towns and police
departments organized these buybacks. Or sometimes, it`s the attorney
general`s office. But it`s almost always a government agency of some kind
that organizes these things.
In New York City, there`s an ongoing buy back program where you can
turn in your gun to the police and get a cash reward. It takes in a few
hundred guns over the course of the year in a city of 8 million people.
But, of course, the threshold for participation in that in New York
City is that you have to feel comfortable approaching the police with your
firearm in order to be able to hand it over to them.
Tomorrow, though, this weekend, in the biggest cities in the country,
something new is going to happen. This is Michael Blue Williams. He`s
manager in the music industry and he is a famous and successful one. He
has managed Outkast, and Cee Lo Green, and the rapper Nas. The roster of
his family tree entertainment company includes Big Boy and Busta Rhymes.
He`s worked with the Flava Unit, and Def Jam Records.
He knows everybody. He`s not that old but he`s been in the business
And this weekend in Brooklyn, Blue Williams is taking the new gun
buyback thing to a level it`s never been at before. The city police
commissioner signed off on the buyback. The police department will help,
but the city is not sponsoring this.
This is the first private sector gun buyback in New York. They are
calling it Guns for Greatness. The idea is not just to trade cash but to
trade cash, and the option of mentorships, if you want them, with
successful professionals from the hip-hop world of Blue Williams, to
anybody turning in a gun who wants to take advantage of the mentorship
idea. The idea is that with a program like this, you may be able to reach
people in the nation`s largest city who have a gun, who don`t want it any
more, but who might not feel comfortable walking into their nearest police
station to hand it over.
Folks who might feel comfortable dropping by this neighborhood church
on Flatlands Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn. It`s never been done before.
Joining us now for the interview is Michael Blue Williams. He`s music
industry exec, founder of Guns for Greatness program, this gun buyback and
mentoring program that kicks off tomorrow with its first event.
Mr. Williams, thanks you so much for coming by.
MICHAEL “BLUE” WILLIAMS, MUSIC INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE: Thank you so much
for having me.
MADDOW: Did I get any of that wrong?
WILLIAMS: No, you did it better than I could have.
MADDOW: I don`t think, though.
Well, in hindsight, it seems logical that you would want to do a buy
back in New York City this way if you are going to do one at all. How did
you get this idea?
WILLIAMS: I was actually challenged to do it. Commissioner Kelly was
speaking about stop and frisk, and he actually challenged the community to
come up with better solutions than what they are doing with NYPD. So, it
sort of inspired to try of think of the way that the hip-hop community
could give back, that we could get on the good side of the new cycle.
MADDOW: How does the mentorship side of it work? Obviously having
been a manager and the different jobs you`ve done in the music industry,
you know everybody. Networking is a big part of how you have been as
successful as you are. Is that – are you talking your network and music
industry connections that you got, the community connections that you`ve
got to try to build that mentorship side of it out?
WILLIAMS: Yes. The idea was to take my relationships and to be able
to partner a young person that comes in and finds specifically a mentor for
what they want to do. So, if someone wants to be an engineer, if they want
to be disk jockey, or whatever, that I should be able to take my network
and my extensive network and partner them up with someone specific, because
that specific mentor will be able to keep them engaged longer than someone
who is mentoring but they can`t relate to.
So I really want to use my relationship to impart to them specifically
and help keep on the path once they start.
MADDOW: When you have been talking to people who you know through the
industry already, both to hit them for money, because I know you`ve been
raising money privately to do this, but also to ask them if they`d be
willing to do the mentorship side of it, have people been receptive?
WILLIAMS: Everybody has been totally receptive. I`ve always been of
the belief that people want to help, they you just need to know how. And
if you can show them an easy way to do what they`re doing anyway, everyone
has run to the front of the line to trying to be helpful.
MADDOW: It`s amazing. I`m extrapolating from the way you are doing
this and the way you talked about it, some in the press, to say that this -
- sort of trying to fill a need that people –there is buyback program
that`s an ongoing thing where you can go into a police station and give
people a gun.
Is – am I right in extrapolating that part of the idea here is that
this is partly for people who don`t feel comfortable walking into a police
station carrying a weapon?
WILLIAMS: It is totally about reaching a demographic that`s not being
reached when the cities do it. That the idea is that 90 percent of crimes,
especially in New York City are done by minorities between 16 and 37 years
old. That`s the hip-hop community. I`m part of the hip-hop community.
So my techniques to market to them would be slightly different than
maybe city hall`s would. So, this whole idea was based around how to get
that target demographic and let them know that it`s going to be safe to
drop off your gun but then you also have a chance to change the path your
life is on.
MADDOW: Do you feel, as we have this national debate about guns,
sparked – I mean, a lot of people have worked on gun reform forever but
obviously, the big discussion now is because of Newtown, because of what
happened 100 days ago. Do you feel like the debate is speaking at all to
that demographic that you`re talking about and the types of gun violence
that are happening in the communities you`re talking about?
WILLIAMS: I don`t believe the conversations are meant to include that
demographic but that demographic will be hardest hit by it, because when
the laws change and gun laws become more strict then that Democratic when
they get arrested will go to trial, they`re going to be the ones that get
more jail time and hence they`re going to be penalized more for the new
MADDOW: Yes. How do long do you expect to do this for? Is this a
one-time thing? Are you planning on doing this in other places if it works
WILLIAMS: This is my new hobby. My new favorite past time. My
ultimate goal is to make this a national program. I want to do each at the
boroughs in New York over the next few months and I want to take it to see
Cory Booker and to Newark. I want to take it to Detroit and Chicago.
I want to go to city that hip-hop is, which is very city and see if we
can, in fact, influence and get kids to put down illegal guns.
MADDOW: Do you have a threshold on mine for the number of guns that
would make tomorrow a success.
WILLIAMS: I have dilutions of grandeur sometimes, so I have sort of
tempered it back. And honestly, I feel if I get one gun off the streets
tomorrow, then I save two lives. I save the person that could have been a
victim of it, and the kid that might have used it for a crime and ended up
in jail or ended up dead.
MADDOW: Yes. Blue Williams, it is really nice for you to be here.
It`s really nice that you offer to come here and talk about this.
WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Thanks. Good luck.
Will you let me know how it goes?
WILLIAMS: Yes, I shall.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last month for the first time in more than 30 years, the U.K.
got its credit downgraded from AAA to AA1 by Moody`s. This week it
happened again. On Wednesday, another ratings firm downgraded the U.K.
For the last five years since the global economic meltdown bestowed
upon us by the financial sector, in the U.K., the government there has
responded with austerity, with dramatically slashing government spending
fast, saying it didn`t matter what it was going to do to the population.
They wanted to get their fiscal house in order. They wanted it shore up
confidence in the British economy.
What they have done, this austerity thing has basically done the
opposite. The strategy has not worked very well.
Well, the guy who`s supposed to be selling us on that idea, the guy
who`s supposed to be Mr. Austerity for the USA, is this guy, man, Alan
Simpson, former senator from Wyoming. He`d been out of public life for a
long time, but post-economic crisis and in the middle of us trying to
figure out how to restructure economy after that, he`s back, supposedly to
be our national guru of austerity.
It has not exactly worked out like that. First of all, it`s because
most Americans do not like the idea of austerity and places it has been
tried give us good reasons to not like that idea.
But the other reason is more personal. It is hard to be a guru for
anything. When every time you talk, everybody goes like this and braces
themselves. Oh, God, what`s he going to say now? People ushering their
children out of room, people trying to distract their easier offended older
relatives. Oh, Alan Simpson is talking, pay no attention, lalala.
First when he said the thing about the green weenie. Remember that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I`m waiting for the politics
to get up and say there is only one way to do this. You dig into the big
four – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. And anybody
giving you anything different than that, you want it walk out the can door,
stick your finger down your throat and give them the green weenie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alan Simpson, everybody.
When he said that, Alan Simpson`s green weenie comment, sent us as a
show, down a number of different research rabbit holes until we finally
figured out that he wasn`t talking about actual weenies or – he was
talking about the army can commendation medal, which is green. Duh!
So stick your finger down your throat and give them one? Yes. OK.
But the green weenie, it turns out, was just the start of the Alan
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mr. Simpson criticized Social Security by saying, quote,
“We`ve reached a point now where it is like a milk cow with 310 million
tits.” Except he didn`t say tits. He said something that that rhymes with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Really, Alan Simpson, give us a warning or something next
So, there`s the green weenie, the 310 million – and now, today, Alan
Simpson metaphor machine has struck again. Alan Simpson gave an interview
to “The L.A. Times” in which he implored his party to stop talking about
gay marriage and all these other social issues.
Mr. Simpson told “The L.A. Times”, quote, “What is this homophobic
strain in our party? You`re a Republican, you believe in get out of your
life and the precious right to privacy, the right to be left alone. Well
then, pal, I don`t care what you do. You can go worship the great eel at
night, I don`t give a rat`s” – worship the great eel.
One thing he might be referencing is “World of Warcraft,” the devious
great eel in world of Warcraft. That cannot possibly be what Alan Simpson
is referencing. Alan Simpson, if you are an avid videogame player and it
is the “World of Warcraft” thing, I will apologize if that`s what you
But otherwise, come on, worshipping the great eel, I don`t care if
you`re gay, I don`t care if you`re worshipping the great eel at night, and
the green weenie, and 315 million tits, anything else? It makes me wish I
just to bang on my desk and have another Alan Simpson pop out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: I think grandchildren don`t write a thank you for the
Christmas presents. They are walking on their pants with their cap on
backwards, listening to Enema man, snoopy, snoopy poop dog and they don`t
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alan Simpson is supposed to be talking us all into cutting
Social Security. Instead, he is an inexplicable but still inappropriate
body metaphor generator. From the green weenie to 310 million tits, to the
Enema man and the snoopy snoopy poop dog, to the worshipping of the great
Alan Simpson, just give us a warning, man, some sort of signal to let
us know it`s coming so we can get the kids out of the room.
MADDOW: Last week, the smart kids of our world known as astronomers
released this image. This Easter egg looking thing is – drum roll, please
– the known universe, going as far back as we can look, back almost to the
very, very beginning, to the Big Bang.
This is a photo of our baby universe, the first light traveling the
vast giant distance from the edges of what we know to exist all the way to
us. And it takes a long time for that light to get to us, so this is a
picture taken now, but it is really a picture of the past. That`s how it
works, right? When you walk out under the stars at night, and you look up,
and you are seeing some stars that are relatively close up, you`re seeing
some are newish light from stars that are not too far away, and their light
doesn`t take too long to get here.
But you also see far away stars, stars whose light comes from so far
away to get to us that it is pretty old light by the time it gets here. It
is so old that the star that made that light might actually be gone by the
time we see it.
That old light, you can almost think of it as fossilized light, the
imprint of something long gone.
The great Muhammad Ali used to joke that he was so fast he could turn
out the light and jump into bed before the darkness could catch him, he was
racing the light – that was the joke – he was raising the light, and
winning, and had to win or the darkness would catch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUHAMMAD ALI, BOXING LEGEND: Fast, fast. Fast. Last night, I cut
the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch, was in the bed before the room
was dark. Fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And, of course, the darkness could not catch him because he is
Muhammad Ali. He is the greatest.
I want to show you a little bit of footage that is from 1971. It`s
from the day that gay activists in New York City walked into city hall,
they announced that they were taxpayers, and as taxpayers, gay or not, they
were there to claim the right to marry. They claimed that right, even if
they had to conduct the marriage themselves and throw their own after
party. This is 1971.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re welcome to attend if you like, free coffee,
cake. You`re all welcome to attend if you want. Did you get an
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t speak English.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we`re having a wedding reception for gay
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gay people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gay people, 265, right around the corner there,
open to the public. Room 265. You`re all invited to come.
Wedding reception for gay people, room 265.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The leader of this marriage protest, 1971, the man passing
out invitations, a man named Arthur Evans. Mr. Evans died a couple years
ago, so he did not live to see the arguments this week, his arguments made
before our nation`s highest court.
MADDOW: Awhile back on the show, Lori and Jeff Wilford (ph) of
Rosemount, Minnesota, told us about the loss of their son killed in
Afghanistan. He was killed by an IED.
At the time that he was killed, the military still banned service by
openly gay people in our country. Corporal Andrew Wilford (ph) was gay.
He had been out to his parents and friends since a teenager, but he went in
the closet specifically because he wanted to sign up. He wanted to serve
his country. He was killed in action in Afghanistan just a few months
before the repeal of don`t ask, don`t tell took effect.
Andrew Wilford`s dad, Jeff, wrote me a letter this week saying he was
watching the live feed of the scene outside the Supreme Court as the court
was debating equal marriage rights for gay couples. And Jeff Wilford said,
as I watched live feeds from outside the Supreme Court on the marriage
arguments, I would like to you know, this situation, the action of the
people, right of the LBGT community to stand before the courts, this is
what Andrew chose to serve and die for.
Our greatest regret, he never found that one true love, but was smart
enough, wise enough, human enough to see and know that he and all others
are no more or less than other citizens of this country, knew this above
and beyond the marriage question. He knew this was a thing worth service
and his life.
In the arguments this week at the Supreme Court, one of the most
conservative justices cited during oral arguments the example of, asked
questions about, the example of gay military personnel and their families.
How will this affect them?
Andrew Wilford helped make that possible, even if Andrew Wilford did
not make it this far to see it himself.
We are told that in the privacy of her home, one of this week`s
leading plaintiffs in the marquee case before the court, we are told
sometimes she will lean against a portrait she has of her late spouse to
tell her late spouse how their case is going.
This is the case, right? Look at the specifics here. It`s United
States, petitioner, versus Edith Schlain Windsor, Edie Windsor, and it is
about the estate of Thea Spire. So, they were a married couple. Thea is
gone now. She is no longer here, but Edie just brought this case. She`s
still fighting for the two of them.
And by fighting for Thea`s estate, she is fighting for the two of
them, and she is fighting for something big indeed for our country. And in
order to do so, she has to find against something very big.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDITH WINDSOR: It is kind of crazy. We lived together for 40 years.
We were engaged with the circle diamond pin because I wouldn`t wear a ring
because I was still in the closet. I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just
sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She`s in her 80s. There are all sorts of people and all
sorts of fights that technically are not still around, but they live and we
can see them. We can see their light in some of the biggest deal and most
difficult things we do today.
Whether or not you see equal rights for gay people as your particular
fight, whether or not you agree with that particular fight, this was a big
historic week for that fight, and therefore for our country. All the work,
all the generations of work to get here, in fact, got us here. It worked.
And when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, christened the marriages that we
have now in this country, the ones that don`t have full rights. When Ruth
Bader Ginsburg in the oral arguments this week christened those marriages,
skim milk marriages, I decided that what I need to do here on this show is
make a full fat, full cream drink in honor of that phrase.
And so, tonight`s cocktail moment is in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
the easiest cream drink to make. It`s a brandy Alexander. If you know
anybody that likes this drink, if you don`t know if anybody likes this
drink in your world, the person in your world who is mostly likely to like
it is your mother, but your mother is right.
Equal parts cream, and cream de cacao. Cream de cacao comes in dark
and light. And the difference between dark and light cream de cacao is the
color. Other than that, they`re exactly the same. But in this case, it
looks nicer if you use the dark version.
This is Marie Brizard, which is kind of a nice brand that you take
what you can get when it comes to cream de cacao. It`s not like we have
supermarkets full of this stuff. And what gives it its name, brandy
Alexander, the brandy. And because the bar car here at the show is getting
a little thin, we only had cognac around, oh, darn. So cognac.
So as you can see, equal parts. It is easy. Don`t need a measuring
vessel of any specificity. Shake it and strain it into a cocktail glass.
Some people make it with two parts, cream, to one part each of
liquors. But you don`t need to. So, this is no skim milk drink. I think
America is about to leave skim milk marriages behind.
Tonight`s cocktail moment is brought to you by the site of fossilized
light in a growing universe, and also an 80-year-old justice who weighs 100
pounds and can do 20 pushups. And if you have any thoughts on this matter,
you can take it up with the warden, because now you have to go to prison.
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