The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/27/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I should say not just happy Friday, but happy crazy “your government is
shutting down and turning out the lights” Friday. Woo-hoo!
The new just broke during Chris` show, as you heard last hour, that
the U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution, unanimously approved a
resolution to relieve Syria of its chemical weapons under an international
plan that will inspect the chemical weapons, secure them and destroy them.
Russia and China were among the countries voting unanimously for this
resolution tonight on Syria`s chemical weapons.
This is a previously unimaginable diplomatic resolution to what had
been seen for a very long time as an intractable problem. Syria didn`t
even admit they had chemical weapons until about 30 seconds ago, now,
they`re signed on to an international regime to get rid of them and their
closest allies in the world say they will make sure are going to make sure
that happens. Unimaginable.
That`s coming on the same day, the same afternoon as another
diplomatic breakthrough of even greater proportions possibly. The U.S.
president speaking by telephone to the Iranian president tonight for the
first time since 1979. We`re going to have more on both of those stories
coming up this hour. This is a very, very big news day.
But the domestic news of course is dominated by our own Congress
wantonly shutting down our own government for no externally imposed reason
at all. Just because one side has decided they maybe want to use this
tactic to try to get what they want that they can`t get through another
more diplomatic means.
The White House today posted a list of how the many agencies of
government plan to shut down themselves down starting at midnight on
Monday. Handily because Republicans in Congress spent the last couple of
years threatening to shut down the government to get what they wanted and
that they couldn`t get through other Democratic means agencies like, say,
the Department of Agriculture. They were able to go just back and retrieve
their old shutdown plans they had prepared for the last time we had a
brinksmanship contest like this in 2011.
The National Parks Service today said they are making plans to kick
out the campers. The overnight visitors to our national parks because the
shutdown means the national parks will be closing. Here`s the Parks
Service plan for furloughing its employees: 21,000 American workers is sent
home. Parks Service plan is based in part on the planning that the agency
did back in 2011, but also the agency`s lived experience in the last big
government shutdown, which was back in 1995.
We have not had a big government shutdown since 1995. NPR today ran
this great slide show of what it looked like back then, including people
being turned away from the Statue of Liberty, trying to visit the Statue of
Liberty, no, I`m sorry, she`s closed. The museums, closed. Liberty Bell,
That government shutdown in 1995 was the longest in our nation`s
history and we are beginning to get a sense of what a shutdown would mean
this time around, with 800,000 or so workers temporarily not working,
crucial government functions, if not stopping all together, then at least
powering down to a very significant extent.
The essential stuff like air traffic control and sending out Social
Security checks and so on, that stuff will get done, but defining what`s
essential isn`t that easy. In Colorado right now, they are of course
cleaning up from devastating flooding that killed eight people and swept
away homes and washed out hundreds of miles of roads. As part of its
recovery, Colorado`s been getting help from all over the place.
For example, the Utah National Guard was planning to send 120
engineers to help rebuild a stretch of U.S. 36 north of Boulder, Colorado.
Colorado has been racing to rebuild its roads before the winter sets in,
focusing on the most crucial arteries first. Well, now, as part of us all
getting ready for a big government shutdown, more than half of the Utah
National Guard engineers who`ve been on their way to help in Colorado,
they`ve been told to stand down.
The Colorado National Guardsmen already working on the recovery are
also now waiting to hear if they, too, are going to get pulled off the job
and sent home in the middle of Colorado trying to recover with those
floods, with the clock ticking to the first snows. We are starting to see
what the shutdown would look like. What the cost will be, both in the
states and in Washington, and with a knock on effects might be on the
economy at large.
But there`s another way of looking at this, about looking at why this
is happening. One of the things we`re not getting done this Washington
because we are having this self-imposed shutdown fight is that we are not
getting anything else done in Washington and that, of course, is something
that proceeded this crisis – the whole thing about not getting anything
Republicans in Congress have had a bunch of their own bills for the
kinds of bills that have to pass every year. Not able to pass this year.
These are their own bills, but they have not been able to pass them, even
heading into this crisis, let alone now, now that we`ve got it.
I mean, Republicans had a transportation and housing bill. They could
not vote to pass their own transportation and housing bill.
They had a bill to keep the government going, so we would not be
facing this imminent shutdown. They could not pass their – they could not
vote to pass their own bill to keep the government going.
They had a bill called the farm bill that`s always used in jokes in
Washington about what`s the bare minimum thing you can do if you can`t do
anything else? This is supposed to be the easy one, the least
controversial thing ever, right? And they wrote themselves one, but they
could not get the votes to pass it, even their own bill, not even in their
Factoring the run-up to the presidential election, you might remember
a little kerfuffle about this bill, because of the one of the candidates,
Michele Bachmann, was revealed to be a big a corporate welfare recipient.
Michele Bachmann is always reeling about the size of government and how
government has to do, less, less, less. But her family, in turn out, had
taken over a quarter million dollars in federal subsidies, just a check
from the government, because they have a family farm.
So, it was that awkward sort of hypocrisy from Michele Bachmann as a
conservative presidential candidate that she was willing to take federal
money through the farm bill as payment from the government for her family
having a farm, but she simultaneously wanted to cut money from the same
bill for other Americans who get money from that bill. Not because they
have a farm, but because they have this problem. They need to eat.
Cut food stamps for other people, keep farm subsidies for myself and
my family. It`s a particularly obnoxious form of hypocrisy.
And it`s not just Michelle Bachmann. Even if just look at members of
Congress who are getting these kinds of subsidies for themselves, not even
for their family members, just for themselves, there`s a whole bunch of
James Carter posted a spread sheet today with a ton of information on
this. We`re going to link to it at MaddowBlog.com tonight.
But just looking at the ones who get these subsidies for themselves,
look at Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa. Mr. Latham used to be the co-owner
of Latham Seed Company, and a couple of farms that had his name on them.
So back home, he was taking farm subsidies, by the thousands, the tens
of thousands, the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal
government. But in D.C., in Congress, Mr. Latham voted to cut food
subsidies for the same bill for people who need to eat.
Martha Roby, congresswoman from Alabama. She owns a farm in
Montgomery County, Alabama. Back home, Ms. Roby has been getting checks
from the federal government for her farm, thank you very much. But in
Congress, she voted to keep the farm aid going to herself, but to cut the
money for people who need help getting something to eat. Same bill wants
specifically to keep the money that goes to her, but to cut the money that
goes to anybody else in the same bill.
Call me a liberal – you do any way – but how do you vote that your
family should be able to continue to be given federal money through this
specific bill, but you cannot abide other Americans, poor Americans,
getting money from the same bill so they can eat? How can you take it for
yourself and move to block it for somebody else?
Apparently, it is not that hard to do something like that because we
see it over and over and over again. And it`s part of what`s going on in
Washington. I mean, hypocrisy is obviously not a new phenomenon in
Washington. Washington didn`t even invent it.
But we`ve seen some pretty acute cases of it in the last few years.
At the very beginning of the Obama administration for example, we saw it
when every single House Republican voted against the stimulus bill.
Remember the stimulus bill? But then they went home to their home
districts and started appearing at ribbon cutting events with cardboard
checks to take credit for the funding, all the jobs that are being created
as a result of the stimulus, which they voted against.
Credit me for this thing, local residents, this thing that I tried to
stop happening. I want credit for this thing that I tried to block.
At the end of last year, when hurricane sandy absolutely averaged the
Northeast, when it left parts of New Jersey and New York almost
unrecognizable, when it hit the most densely populated region in the
nation, it left thousands of families homeless with no place go, the
governors of the states were hardest hit asked the federal government for
help and they were told no by a sort of shocking number of members of
In the Senate, it was 36 Senate Republicans who voted against relief
after Hurricane Sandy. That`s 77 percent of Senate Republicans who opposed
hurricane relief for Sandy. In the House, it was about the same. It was
78 percent of Republicans in the House who told Sandy victims, no, the
federal government would not and should not help you.
Among those House Republicans saying no were all four Republicans from
the House delegation from Colorado. They all voted no on Sandy relief.
This month, though, when flood waters absolutely devastated the state of
Colorado, those same four House Republicans who voted no on disaster relief
for families in New York and New Jersey, publicly called on the federal
government to help themselves, to help their state.
Federal disaster relief for Sandy victims? They don`t deserve it.
Federal government isn`t in that kind of business, but hey, me over here,
we need that.
Republican Congressman Bill Flores of Texas, Republican Senator Ted
Cruz of Texas, they both voted against federal aid for Sandy victims.
Three months later when a fertilizer explosion leveled the town of West,
Texas, those same two Texans asked for federal aid for victims in their own
Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma voted to block federal aid
for victims of hurricane Sandy, and then when tornadoes ripped through
Moore, Oklahoma, just a few months later, Senator Inhofe asked for that
relief aid for residents in his own state. He said it was, quote, “totally
different” from him trying to block relief for hurricane Sandy Victims. It
takes a particular galling sort of hypocrisy to think that way and talk
that way and more importantly, to vote that way in Congress when you are
sent there to work for the good of the people.
What you do in Congress may seem like it`s theory or it`s ideological
expression, or it`s just something that people get to talk about on cable
news and then you clip up little pieces of cable news and turn into attack
ads, but your actions have consequences when you are a member of Congress
and hypocrisy and it`s miserable cold little heart is a lack of empathy.
We think of it as saying one thing and doing the opposite, but it
comes from a lack of feeling for anyone who is not you yourself. It comes
from voting to make other people go hungry while you quietly cash your
government check from the same program. It means voting down disaster
relief for anybody else right before you insist that the federal government
open the taps and send the disaster relief dollars to you, because you
can`t imagine the problems that other people are having, but the problems
that you`re having, those, you feel.
It means throwing the country into economic, governmental, every day
living chaos because you didn`t get your way and because you do not care
how it affects ordinary Americans or America until it affects you.
This shutdown is going to hurt the country. It`s already hurting the
country. That was the message today from President Obama who spoke today
on short notice with palpable frustration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any Republican in
Congress who`s currently watching, I encourage you to think about who
you`re hurting. There are probably young people in your office right now
who came to work for you, without much pay, because they believed that
public service was noble. You`re preparing to send them home without a
paycheck. You`ve got families with kids back in your districts who serve
their country in the federal government. And now, they might have to plan
how they`re going to get by if you shut the government down.
Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy and this shutdown would as
well. It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when
those gears have gained some traction and that`s why many Republican
senators and many Republican governors have urged Republicans to knock it
off, pass a budget and move on. Let`s get this done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Ezra Klein, MSNBC policy analyst and the
“Wonk Blog” editor for “The Washington Post”.
Ezra, thanks for being here.
EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Been thinking today, trying to think today less about the
marginal political developments of the moment and more –
KLEIN: Good for you.
MADDOW: Because that`s all we`re all focused on trying to figure out
if this is going to happen. But I`m trying to get focused on the takes
here, the cost.
Can you talk about what we know the economic impact, or the nuts an
bolts impact would be of a shutdown, and it would be a government shutdown
first, then next, conceivably, of a default?
KLEIN: So, a government shutdown is a bad thing. You do not want to
have it happen and direct economic costs, the Office of Management and
Budget actually tried to look at the cost of the `95, `96 shutdowns, which
were the two longest we`ve ever had. They calculated it at about $2
That`s not great. You don`t want to pay $2 billion for no reason. Of
course, during that time, you had a lot of pain from the families involved,
but it is not an incredibly large impact on the economy the size of our
own. It`s just bad.
A default is an economic storm of literally and I mean literally
unimaginable proportions. We`ve never conceived of allowing it to happen
before. And the difference is this – actually the president put it well
today. He said a shutdown is shutting down the government. A default is
shutting down the economy.
And the analogy I`ve tried to get people to think of is 2008, right?
Because we`ve just been through a financial crisis and at its heart what
happened there was you had these things called subprime bonds, right, you
had subprime securities. That was the housing market.
And Wall Street thought they were one thing. They thought the housing
market was safe. It turned out they were wrong, and it was worth another.
And that uncertainty, not knowing what it was all, it froze Wall Street.
It destroyed the global economy.
Now, subprime bonds were a significant part of Wall Street. They are
nothing like U.S. treasuries. They are nothing like our cornerstone asset,
which is the fundamental building block of the global financial system. If
we go to the world and we say we are not worth what you thought we were
worth, you have to reprice all of that.
We have no idea what it looks the next day when the markets wake up
and say, we don`t know what we have the worth. That is another financial
crisis and it is a potential to be much bigger than the one we had in `08
if we kept it going for any length of time.
MADDOW: Ezra, you wrote today something that – on one blog,
something that I think provoked a lot of people because on the surface, it
seemed so scary, but I want to hear you make the argument and you said
essentially, that you were rooting for the shutdown – meaning the
government shutdown, in the hopes, I`m going to paraphrase, that would mean
the Republicans got their yayas out and whatever was in them that was
desiring to cause some form of chaos, to dramatize their internal feelings,
that that would be essentially exhausted by the government shut down fight,
and while that would be bad, maybe then, we wouldn`t have the default.
Politically, do you think that`s true? Does the yayas hypothesis have
data to back it up or are you just hoping?
KLEIN: I`ll say, I`m rooting for Congress to do the smart thing and
not do any of this, right? That is my first best. It is being said in the
Republican Caucus and Democratic Caucus, that the way that Republicans are
thinking about this is that if they are forced by John Boehner and they
will see it as being force, to give up leverage on the government shutdown,
to accept a clean bill to fund the government on Sunday, or Monday,
whenever they do it. That they will feel they gave up the point of
leverage and what traded that in was the much larger point of leverage of
And the reason, by the way, they think the default has no leverage is
because it would be such an unimaginable terrible thing for the economy.
So, if they do that –
MADDOW: Pushing us off a skyscraper instead of pushing us off a
KLEIN: Yes, trading in the flu for septic shock is the way I like to
So, right now, the issue is John Boehner saying don`t do this on the
government shutdown. Let`s just wait until the debt ceiling. And so, he`s
making it, he`s investing more on the debt ceiling, because once they`ve
gone through the shutdown, if they`ve not used that, they`ve got nothing
but the debt ceiling in their minds.
So, what “Politico`s” reported, what Goldman Sachs has been saying,
what I`m hearing from my sources on the Hill, as well, is that it is going
to be harder to get Republicans past the debt ceiling if they don`t do the
shutdown. In my view and the view of some others, it would be easier to
have a shutdown that has some damage to the economy, but modest. We`ve had
a lot of this before –
MADDOW: But alleviate some of the pressure.
KLEIN: It gives them a high drama place to have this fight, and then
they see the polls turned against them in five days, in 10 days, we can get
this done before we hit the debt ceiling on October 17th.
MADDOW: Oh, God, this is like, this is the most unnerving thing, you
know? It`s a very unnerving process and trying to trade these ills against
one another at this point means we are too close to the edge already.
Ezra Klein, columnist for “The Washington Post,” “Wonk Blog,” a guy
who I think actually quite owned the whole narrative and discussion about
this today, I think he really framed the way everybody`s been thinking
about it today.
KLEIN: Thank you.
MADDOW: In a way that you got to be proud of. Thanks.
All right. So many unprecedented and in fact wildly unpredictable
things transpired this week between the United States and the rest of the
world, but what happened today with a phone call that President Obama made
that nobody knew was coming topped it all and that story is next.
MADDOW: OK. I will admit that this is a note that will probably only
mean something to you if you are a news dork. But if you are a news dork,
this was kind of an amazing site online today. This is the front page of
“The Huffington Post” tonight. Look, there`s two leads. As far as we can
tell, they`ve never had to do that ever before.
I mean, newspaper Web sites and other news sites, they divide up their
pages regularly to show when there are on multiple big stories. But
“Huffington Post” is online only. They`re the biggest of the online news
sites and they followed the online convention of always picking one thing
going on to be their big solo lead with the big picture.
But today, we think for the first time ever, they stacked them, with
the government shutdown and the president talking to Iran. We`ve got two
stories tonight that are each too big to upstage. So, they both got the
lead. If you are a news dork, an online news dork, that`s like finding a
golden ticket in your chocolate bar. That`s like a news dork double
rainbow. Today was a very, very big day in the news, a double day in the
Hold on. There`s more coming up.
MADDOW: 1979 was a really long time ago. In 1979, this was an SUV.
In 1979, this was how basketball plays wore their shorts. In 1979, this
was a nice stereo.
This was 1979`s collection of the greatest white guy hair on earth,
and if your computer machine in 1979 needed to be seen by your eyes, you
had to hook it up to your TV to use as a monitor.
1979 was a very, very different time. I am old and I can barely
remember 1979. In fact, I`m not even really sure that I can.
But 1979 is the last time that there was direct contact between the
leader of our country and the leader of Iran. 1979 was, of course, the
year of the revolution in Iran which brought to power a new religious
radical cadre and when they took more than 50 Americans hostage for more
than 14 months, relations between our two countries were broken off in a
seemingly permanent way.
There is no American embassy in Iran anymore. There`s no Iranian
embassy here. And, of course, that makes a political point, but embassies
and consulates also do very practical work for citizens when they`re
Because of this breakdown between us and Iran, if you`re an American
citizen and you travel to Iran, the U.S. State Department warns you before
you go that America will not be able to help you if something goes wrong
for you there. If an American citizen has a problem while in Iran, let`s
say you lose your passport or you get arrested or there`s a natural
disaster and you need to get out of the country, actually, the embassy of
Switzerland may step in and try to help you as an American, but what the
Swiss can do for you, of course, is limited because you are not a Swiss
So, we have not have any diplomatic interaction with Iran since 1979.
Since 1979, there has been no contact, no official contact between the
leaders, political leaders in Iran and political leaders in the United
So, last night felt like a huge breakthrough when we were able to
report this picture here on the air – when our secretary of state, John
Kerry, sat down yesterday for a meeting with his counterpart in the Iranian
government at the U.N. They spoke. They shook hands.
This development last night was something that had not happened in 34
years in our country. This was just a big freaking diplomatic deal. That
was last night.
And then today, it was like the sky cracked open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Just now, I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You spoke to who now? Seriously, what happened?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an
agreement over Iran`s nuclear program. I reiterated to President Rouhani
what I said in New York, while there will surely be important obstacles to
moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe that we can
reach a comprehensive solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A phone call is a small thing in the great big world, but
this particular phone call is of historic proportions. President Obama and
President Rouhani reportedly talked for about 15 minutes this afternoon.
These are two countries whose leaders have not been able to find a way to
talk to each other since 1979. Even though frankly they have had a lot
they needed to talk about.
One snippet of their actual conversation was actually tweeted out by
the Iranian president just after the phone call ended. It said in a phone
conversation, between Iranian and U.S. presidents just now, the president
of Iran concluded the conversation by saying in English, “Have a nice day,”
and President Obama then said, “Thank you” and then he spoke in Farsi,
President Obama said good-bye to Iran`s president in Farsi, goodbye,
God be with you. And that according to a senior administration official
was, quote, “appreciated by the Iranians.”
There`s probably a big birther freak-out going on in some corner of
the right wing Internet right now where they`re kicking themselves saying,
he`s not from Kenya, obviously, he`s Persian. We misunderstood. He`s
secretly Iranian. He speaks Farsi.
There are still huge differences between our countries. Everything
from Iran`s nuclear program to their support for terrorist groups, but
today`s direct contact between these two men for the first time since new
cars looked like this, this direct contact and the promise of new talks to
come is for the first time in a generation a sign that we might make
progress on the differences between us and we might do it without a war.
How did this happen? How did we get to this point?
Ever since the relationship between the U.S. and the Iran fell apart
after the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis, American presidents have
used sanctions to put pressure on the people running Iran, to try to get
them to stop doing what it was they were doing.
President Carter imposed the very first set of sanctions. He banned
oil imports. He froze Iranian government asset.
President Reagan tightened the sanctions. He banned the sale of
anything to Iran that could be used militarily. He labeled Iran as a state
sponsor of terrorism, he did also secretly ship missiles to Iran, but that
was illegal and we`re not supposed to think of that when we think of
Under President Clinton, there were more sanctions against Iran`s oil
industry specifically. President Clinton also banned Americans from
investing any money in Iran. The point, every time these sanctions got
stricter was to further isolate return, to hurt its economy and create a
different climate over there within that country, to create intolerable
internal pressure from the Iranian people against their own government, to
make life so difficult for the Iranian average citizen that they would turn
against their own government whose policies were leading to these
sanctions. To create domestic internal pressure in Iran for Iran to change
And every president since President Carter imposed more and more
sanctions on Iran, but the tactic never really seemed to be doing anything,
until now, all of a sudden, something has caused what has happened today.
It was not until this president and this administration that the United
States began imposing the harshest and most stringent sanctions Iran has
ever seen. Under the Obama administration, we have banned all Iranian
imports, we have sanctioned not just Iranian companies, but anyone doing
business with Iranian companies.
Maybe the biggest was when the U.S. and E.U. bonded together to cut
Iran off from processing any financial transactions involving its oil
industry. They essentially isolated Iran`s central bank from the global
economy. For a brief moment there, we even got China, long time trade
partner with Iran onboard with our sanctions.
The Obama administration has led the world on this effort to isolate
Iran`s economy to a degree that had never been done before. Just last
month, Iran reported it had lost 60 percent of its oil revenue due to this
American led sanction regime. And if the intended affect was to make life
so miserable for ordinary people in Iran, as to make them, make ordinary
Iranians put pressure on their own government for change – well, that
I mean, the sanctions have made life in Iran very difficult. The
Iranian currency has lost two-thirds of its value since 2011. There have
been food shortages of Iran of basic staples. Iranian hospitals have been
unable to get the supplies they need, basic medicine and equipment because
of the American sanctions. An Iranian political figure told “The Guardian”
that the country`s hospital do not have the medicine needed to treat cancer
and multiple sclerosis in particular.
Sanctions have been devastating for every day life in Iran.
Whatever you think about that as a tactic, whatever you think about
leveraging the misery of a civilian population in order to create pressure
on that country`s government, that`s what sanctions were intended to do.
They were intended to create pressure and that`s what they did.
When Iran`s new president was elected in August, it was a surprise.
He was a moderate politician. He was not a front-runner in the election
and then he won decisively. He got more than 50 percent of the vote. They
didn`t even have to b a run off.
The guy in second place got 16 percent of the vote. The moderate
president`s victory was decisive. The Iranian people chose the candidate
who represented the biggest break from the hard line policies that had
resulted in this crippling sanctions regime.
And since he was elected, the new president has been saying that he is
clear that he has a mandate for moderation. That he has a mandate to
change his country`s place in the world, a mandate both from the Iranian
people and crucially from the behind the scenes unelected powers that be in
Iran, from the clerics who actually run everything.
The new president has not be shy about having the power to make
dramatic decisions about his country`s feature. He says he has the power
to do it and he`s going to do it.
So, after years of hostility, after years of isolation, now, all of a
sudden, like a ton of bricks, progress. The most seemingly intractable
problem in diplomacy is moving and it`s moving fast and the cost of getting
here has been long and difficult, particularly for the Iranian people. But
the cost of getting here has not been war. And that is surely
disappointing to all the American hawks who have thought war with Iran
would be an awesome idea.
Lindsey Graham was angling for the authorization of use of military
force against Iran last week.
But things are moving now without that. And whether you are psyched
or sad you didn`t get another war out of it, this is how it has unfolded
under this president, who said this exactly what he would do.
Next month, Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with his
Iranian counterpart, to sketch out the first concrete steps in moving
forward toward an agreement about Iran`s nuclear program.
Today was a historic day.
MADDOW: The fifteenth century mural that Leonardo Da Vinci painted of
the Last Supper on the whole of the church in Milan, it is not only one of
the most famous things in the Western world, it is such a famous thing that
by now, it`s kind of a meta-cultural touchstone. The position of Jesus as
he tells his followers that one of them will betray him, the array in the
arrangement of the apostles around him, it`s basically become a meme.
So, like there`s the cast of “The Sopranos” with Tony as Jesus. The
role of Judas, terrifyingly, depicted by his mother. Oh, my God, that show
was so great.
But it`s a meme, right? This painting is a meme. There`s “The
Sopranos” as the Last Supper. There`s Battlestar Galactica as the Last
Here are all the top chefs in Calgary in Alberta, Canada, arrayed as
the Last Supper.
Here`s an American lesbian pop culture Last Supper, which I`m sure you
knew was coming. Jesus obviously is Ellen DeGeneres, in Bjork swan dress.
Wanda Sykes as James the Greater, looks stunned by Ellen`s news. Judas is
the botchy character from “The L Word”, and then over on the left there,
that`s me, I believe, hanging out with the great Sandra Bernhardt, shocked
by whatever Ellen is saying.
This is reason alone to take an art history course, right, so you can
accurately array your own Last Supper characters, and the positions of
Jesus and the apostles, in your own version of Da Vinci`s Last Supper.
This will come in handy some day, even if it`s only to recognize that every
single time they pull it off on the “Simpsons.”
As we consider the swirling chaos, an impending governmental doom in
Washington right now, the issue, of course, is the House of
Representatives. The Senate has got lots of noise and some senators got
themselves lots of attention, but there was no real drama about what was
going to happen in the Senate. Today, the Senate did what they need to do
to avoid the government shutting down.
So, it heads out of the Senate now and back over to the place where
chaos reins, which is the House. This is the charitable way “The Wall
Street” put it at the start of the day today. House GOP of mixed minds on
next move and, yes, you can see that from this amazing photo they ran to
illustrate this point.
Lock at the photo that they ran. Does this remind you of anything?
OK. So, there`s Thomas Massey. He`s the guy in the stripey tie
there. Republican congressman from Kentucky.
I`m not going to compromise. But also, wait, did someone just say
we`re going to default on the debt?
And then there`s Congressman Tim Griffin from Arkansas, exclaiming to
his colleagues dramatically, why not this course of action?
There`s Steve Southerland, Florida Republican congressman. None of
this seems like a good idea. What seems like a good idea right now is a
There`s Congressman Tom Cotton hiding in the background – does
standing here with these guys mean somebody`s going to think I agree with
Also, Congressman Steven Fincher there in the classic orator`s pose.
Can somebody explain that part to me again about the cloture thing?
House Republicans are a classical array right now of stunned and
mystified. This is a work of art. The Senate has done its thing, but the
government shutdown deadline is Monday and privately or publicly, on the
record or off, no one in House leadership seems to be able to say what the
Republicans will do and that appears to be because they do not know.
Robert Costa writing at “The National Review” today and speaking with
Chris Hayes last hour on this network, he says that Speaker John Boehner
had a plan for House Republicans to avert the government shutdown threat as
of yesterday, but then House conservatives got on the phone with a
Republican who is not even in the House of Representatives, who told them
to kybosh their own speaker`s plan, and so they kyboshed it.
The person they were speaking to was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas,
reportedly telling Republicans in the House to defy their own leadership
and say no to their own speaker and they listened. Last night, Senator
Cruz met again with members of the House, according to Costa, quote,
“talking deep into the night about how to pressure John Boehner.”
So, even if you are trying to figure out the chaos in the House, the
chaotic stew there from which a plan to fund the government has to emerge
by Monday at the latest in order to avoid a government shutdown, if you are
trying to figure out it, do not even bother trying to read the body
language from actual Republican members of the actual House, because
apparently, the dynamics that are driving the chaos there are best
understood as emanating from some kind of higher power.
Do not ask John Boehner what`s going to happen. John Boehner has no
Joining us now is Congressman Peter Welch. He`s a Democrat of
Vermont. Congressman Welch organized 187 Democrats to send a letter to the
president supporting a clean debt ceiling extension.
Congressman Welch, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Thank you.
MADDOW: From your close up perception, does it appear to you that
things are as chaotic in the House and unpredictable in the House as it
seems from here?
WELCH: Well, you`re a master of understatement. I mean, bottom line,
this is all about health care and there`s white hot anger among the
Republican Caucus at the notion that Americans may actually have access to
affordable health care if Obamacare goes into effect, as it will very, very
And bottom line, what they`ve got to do is get real. They`ve got to
sober up. I mean, they`ve lost the fight on Obamacare in the House. They
lost it in the Supreme Court. And then they lost it in the presidential
So, what are they going to do? What they`re saying is they`re willing
to blow up the country, debt default and government shutdown in order to
save Americans from having access to health care. So, that`s literally
what`s going on and they`re coming up with a sort of crack pot plan after
another. The speaker`s got to deal with, but it`s all about using as
leverage, the shutdown and default to defeat health care for all Americans.
MADDOW: In the short-term, it seems to me obvious from here and tell
me if I`m wrong, that if the speaker did bring to the floor a clean
continuing resolution, something that didn`t say anything about Obamacare,
that did essentially what the Senate has done, which says we`re going to
continue to fund the government, we`re not going to use this as a way to
make policy. It seems to me like every Democrat in the House would
probably vote for that and probably enough Republicans would vote for it as
well. Is it just a question of whether or not John Boehner will do that?
WELCH: Well, that`s right. That`s right.
And he`s got an incredible job. He`s got the toughest job in
Washington because he`s dealing with a caucus that is just going to blow up
the country literally in order to avoid health care for all Americans. And
what he has to do is decide when he`s going to stop appeasing the Tea Party
wing of his party and then come to the Democrats in order to pass a
continuing resolution to keep the lights on and to avoid default.
I mean, this is astonishing that actually the premise of the
Republican position is that it`s acceptable to shut government down, turn
the lights off and default on our obligations, which would mean a million
new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan leave them high and dry. I mean,
that`s just like unheard. It reflects their opposition to having a health
care plan that has a promise of working.
So, that`s where we`re at. At a certain point, the speaker`s going to
have to make a tough decision. My view ultimately, we`re going to pass the
Senate bill because it`s the only way out.
You know, one final thing – what`s really kind of crack pot about the
way Republicans are proceeding is that it won`t work. And the reason it
won`t work is if they use these tactics, shut down and default, there will
be a violent market reaction on Wall Street –
WELCH: – that will pistol whip Congress into then what we should be
doing now, and that`s paying our obligations and funding government.
MADDOW: Congressman Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, a very crucial
last point there. That`s exactly right. Thank you for your time, sir.
It`s good to have you here.
WELCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: Sorry you`re going to be working through the weekend.
All right. The list of groups who are for expanded background checks
for gun purchasers just got longer, but also just got much, much less
predictable. And this is a strange new statistical story that just came
out and the details on that are next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: A group of researchers at the University of California at
Davis just did something fascinating, something that has never been done
before. Check this out. Researchers at UC-Davis started with an FBI
database of people who are licensed gun dealers in this country. It`s a
list of almost 55,000 dealers, pawnbrokers and gunsmith.
This UC-Davis researchers contacted a random sample of those gun
dealers, all of whom were all listed as having sold 50 or more guns per
year. So, they sent a scientifically random sample of gun dealers a survey
asking them what they think about federal gun laws. The surveys went out
in 2011. So, that was before the Aurora theater mass shooting in Colorado,
before the Oak Creek Sikh temple, before Newtown, before the Washington
Navy Yard shooting.
But now, they have collected the data, they`ve done analysis and they
are releasing what they found. The fact that this has never been done
before is itself kind of fascinating, right? This is the first ever
independent, scientifically sound survey of people who sell guns for a
living. Nobody did this before. That`s amazing.
But what they found when somebody finally bothered to ask these guys
is even more amazing. For context here, what we knew before this survey is
that the idea of expanding background checks for buying guns is something
that is supported by Democrat by very large margin. It`s also supported by
independents by a big margin. Expanding background checks, supported by
Republicans by a large margin. Self described Tea Partiers also support
expanded background checks. Expanded background checks supported by
members of the NRA, people who pay to belong to the National Rifle
Association want expanded background checks.
Gun owners broadly also support expanded background checks by a big
margin. And now, we can add the data from this brand new stuff that`s just
being published by the researchers from UC-Davis.
It also turns out that gun dealer support expanded background checks.
The people who are actually conceivably burdened by this the most,
Democrats are in favor, independents are in favor, Republicans are in
favor, Tea Partiers and NRA members, gun owners and now we know gun dealers
all in favor.
And on the other side, not in favor – the leadership of the NRA. Not
even the members of the NRA, just the leadership. They`re the only ones
against. Which means – they win? Nothing could ever outweigh them. They
get whatever they want, no matter if everyone in the country including
their own constituency disagrees with them?
How long does this last for? We have posted some data on the new
research from UC-Davis at “Maddow Blog” tonight if you want to take a look
at it. Even gun dealers support expanded background checks.
All right. Who`s going to take a point of personal privilege here for
a second on issue that is related to this new data. Forgive me for this
but I want to say it.
On the day of the worst school shooting in U.S. history this past
December in Newtown, Connecticut, on the day that it happened, “The
Associated Press” among other news organizations asked for the recordings
of the 911 calls that were made that day during that crisis from the Sandy
Hook Elementary School. And now, asking for the 911 calls that is a
standard news gathering request. It is routinely done in basically all
emergency situations that get covered by the press.
Even though it is standard practice in the case of Newtown,
Connecticut, the local police that day made the decision to deny that
request by the media. They did not allow the tapes to be released. Well,
yesterday a state panel in Connecticut overturned that decision and ordered
the release of the 911 calls.
I am sort of a free speech purist. Obviously, I work in the news, so
I`m inclined in that direction, anyway. But in general, even personally I
am a free speech purist. I believe strongly the answer to bad speech or
troubling speech is more speech. That it is wrong and usually
counterproductive to suppress information and access to information.
But honestly, it breaks my heart to think about those audio of the
calls being released. This is not a done deal yet. “The A.P.” does not
have the tapes yet. They may very well never have them. The state is in
the process of appealing the ruling and show signs of fighting it
vociferously because they do not what these tapes out.
But if the audio of those 911 calls is released, if the sound is
released of people being terrorized while they are in the act of being
terrorized, in the course of being terrorized in the mass shooting of
children, I have to say – I hope the media collectively will have the –
well, what do you call it? The good judgment, reasonableness and stout
enough hearts that no one sees fit to broadcast those tapes if they`re ever
There is no legitimate purpose for those calls to be heard by the
public. If they need to be public, you could put them in public records
depositories so people who want to hear that stuff can go seek it out if
need be and listen to it privately. If it has to be in the public domain
put it in the public domain that kind of way.
But broadcasting it because it exists because it can, so it will then
undoubtedly be heard by the Newtown families even if they do not want to
hear it, that is something I hope no news agency will see fit to do. This
is not a done deal yet. But I hope that is the way it turns out.
All right. We`ll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eva, I think it`s so cool that MSNBC agreed to air
the ALMAs this year, huh?
EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Well, they didn`t exactly agree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute, what do you mean they didn`t
exactly agree? What are talking about?
LONGORIA: I got to make a phone call. Come on, Al, pick up. Al –
AL MADRIGAL: Hey, Eva. Hi. We`re great. Just tying up a couple of
loose ends and we`re ready to go. OK. Bye.
Look like I belong, look I belong. How awesome is Obama, OK?
MADRIGAL: Eva, good to go here. Just as long as Chris Hayes doesn`t
show. I call you back.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Hey, dude, I got to get to my set.
MADRIGAL: Want to go all in on some of these, Hayes?
MADDOW: And that`s our show for September 27th. Now this being a
Friday night, I`m going to send you directly to three, two, one –
AL MADRIGAL: The ALMA Awards.
MADDOW: Sorry, there is somebody below my desk. Sorry. Hi, who are
MADRIGAL: Al Madrigal, “The Daily Show.”
MADDOW: I heard of one of those things. Why are you here?
MADRIGAL: We are taking over.
MADDOW: Who is we?
MADRIGAL: Latinos. We need the studio for the ALMA Award which –
MADDOW: So, the ALMA Awards, the National Council of La Raza created
them in 1995 to mix entertainment with mission by doing –
MADRIGAL: We get it. You know how to use Wikipedia.
MADDOW: It`s OK. Have at it. It is OK. I will go. Just make sure
you jiggle the toilet when you flush. But I am on my way. Good luck.
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