The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/02/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy New Year.
In the first month that Massachusetts did its own version of
Obamacare, the first month of health reform at the state level, where
people were allowed to sign up on their own in Massachusetts, state-wide
enrollment for coverage in month number was a grand total of 123 people.
Not 123,000, just 123 people.
By the end of the second month in Massachusetts, 2,000 people had
signed up for health insurance in that state. By the end of the third
month, it was 5,000 people who had signed up for health insurance in
So, it was a very, very slow start, but then it took off. And the
Massachusetts plan, which is the model for what we did as a country,
Massachusetts is now seen a huge success, or it`s at least seemed to have
done exactly what it was designed to do. In Massachusetts, something like
98 percent of the population now has health insurance because of that law.
But that`s how it started.
And that is the template. That is the blueprint that we are following
for health reform nationwide. And now, now, because December has ended –
again, happy New Year – now we can see how we are doing as a country,
alongside the blueprint, alongside that previous example of how
Massachusetts did as a state.
We can look at our first three months against how Massachusetts did in
their first three months. We know that the Massachusetts plans, the
Massachusetts plan worked in the end. And now we know, as a nation, that
our experience with the first three months of this policy as a country, our
first three months looks a lot like what those first three months looked
like in New England seven years ago, on that much smaller scale.
I mean, everybody was very worried, when the first month` number came
out on Obamacare and showed that only 100,000 people had enrolled for
health insurance. But by the end of the second month, nationwide, by the
end of November, it was up to 365,000 people.
Now, we just got the new data for December, and it turns out that as
went Massachusetts, so goes the nation. We`re now up to 2.1 million people
enrolled. And that is just for people who have signed up for new health
insurance using one of the exchanges.
In addition to that, nationwide, another 3.9 million people have
gotten new coverage thanks to Obamacare. Not through the exchanges, but,
instead, through the expansion of existing insurance programs like Medicaid
or SCHIP, which is the program for kids.
So, 2.1 million through the exchanges, another 3 million through these
existing programs being expanded. How did 2013 end up going for the
signature legislative achievement of this presidency? Yes, it started off
bumpy, but it kind of now looks like it`s going to work.
I don`t know why more writing about Obamacare doesn`t compare
Obamacare to or at least put it in the context of the state where we
piloted this experience, just seven years ago, in Massachusetts. But when
you do compare them, when you compare the test drive to now owning the car,
what`s happening federally looks like it really does mirror the launch of
that ultimately successful state-level program that nobody likes to call
And this, of course, is good news if you want health reform to work.
The number of people signing up and the rate at which that line graph is
ascending, that`s good news if you want health reform to work. It is
terrible news if you want health reform to not to work.
And one of the fascinating things to watch this year is going to be,
what becomes of the right-wing cottage industry that sprung up over the
last few months in this country to argue that people should not want to get
health insurance. I mean, this is going to go down into the annals of
American political history as one of the weirder things that the American
political right has ever worked on.
And it may be just an obsession of right-wing groups that take money
from the Koch brothers. It does seem like most of these don`t get
insurance things are founded by the Koch brothers. And, of course, the
Koch brothers are some of the world`s richest men and they can afford all
sorts of expensive failures.
But what`s going to happen in the long run? What is going to happen
even over the course of this New Year in 2014? What is going to happen to
the giant, creepy, Uncle Sam paper-mache head that pops up in your
I mean, as more and more millions of Americans decide that they do
want to get health insurance, are the Koch brothers going to keep funding
these ads and organizations, trying to convince college students that
refusing to have health insurance is doing your part for the revolution or
whatever? I mean, at the end of 2014, are they still doing to be trying to
sell the idea that if you have health insurance, that means there will be a
creepy puppet with a giant head doing your prostate exam. And you don`t
want that now, boys, do you?
I mean, what happens to those ads? What happens to these groups?
What happens to Web sites like this? Uncover Obamacare, which have been
gleefully plotting the low number of people enrolling to get health
insurance. But then they just stopped updating their ticker when the
numbers got uncomfortably high, so they keep showing old numbers now.
Even though this particular group is based in Florida, it`s the same
group that have been running those ads in Alaska, the ones that tell people
in Alaska they shouldn`t enroll for health insurance either.
These billionaire-funded ad campaigns and Web sites and organizations
telling Americans that you`re a sucker if you got health insurance, I think
this is one of the weirdest and most underreported turns in right-wing
politics this year.
But the way things are going now, with health reform now seemingly
starting to work, it`s going to be fascinating over the course of 2014 to
see if those groups stick around, to see if those groups and those
campaigns and those Web sites and those creepy ads are still around this
time next year.
But telling people not to get health insurance is not the only thing
this these groups have been working on. The Florida Foundation for
Government Accountability, this Koch brothers affiliated group that ran the
Alaska don`t enroll came, and then sent its experts traveling around not
just to Florida but to Oklahoma and Idaho and Mississippi and New Hampshire
and Virginia, telling all those state governments to make it as hard as
possible for people to get health insurance in their states, that group is
also now just turned up as a loser in another big political fight in
Now, if you want to know what these Koch brothers affiliated state
groups are working on, other than telling people not to get health
insurance, in Florida they, at least, have been promoting forced drug tests
for people who are on welfare.
Florida Republican governor Rick Scott loved this idea when he first
ran for Florida governor in 2010. After he signed it into law in 2011, the
Koch brothers connected Florida group helped champion and defend this
policy as well worth the money. That law ultimately led the state of
Florida to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that, as it turns
out, welfare recipients appear to use drugs at roughly one-fourth the rate
of the general population.
Florida`s drug test to the poor bill was initially proposed as a way
that the state would save tons of money, but it ended up being a
boondoggle, a hugely expensive way to discover almost no illegal drug use.
And a series of court rulings has now found it to be wildly
unconstitutional. A few months after the program was first implemented, a
federal court ruling blocked it, and the court ruling, the judge of the
court ruling went out of her way to basically laugh at the state for having
cited one particular Florida think tank for their evidence as to why the
law was such a good idea.
Look at this – this was from the ruling. You almost never see
anything this blunt in a court order.
“Thought the state offers, as evidence of the cost savings, a pamphlet
from the Foundation for Government Accountability, the data contained in
the pamphlet is not competent expert opinion nor is it offered as such, nor
could it be reasonably be construed as such.”
That`s the Koch brothers group that has been promoting this idea,
right, the same Koch brothers group that has been telling people not to get
health insurance. They`re the ones that came up with the idea that it`s a
great use of state funds. The court laughed out loud at that in their
So, that court ruling was from the fall of 2011. Just a few months
before the Florida drug test the poor policy went into effect. The policy
got blocked by the courts. The state was mocked for having tried to
pretend that this Koch brothers affiliated group was some sort of expert
think tank on the subject.
But even after that, that same group, the Koch brothers affiliated
group, they traveled around the country marketing Florida`s great policy
success as something that all the Republican-controlled states should try
Look, here`s their press release about how they attended public
hearings in Georgia to share Florida`s drug test the poor success story.
Here`s the guy who was the author of that pamphlet that the court
laughed at in its court ruling. Here`s him being photographed at a
Republican state senator from Wisconsin. We got to hear all about
Florida`s awesome new drug test to the poor law, when this group presented
it as a success story, that other states should emulate at a conference
hosted by ALEC, the conservative corporate-funded policy group that markets
model legislation for state lawmakers.
That process of taking a piece of legislation that Republicans managed
to get passed somewhere and turning it into a national phenomenon, that is
one thing that the right does really, really, really well right now. And
so, even as Florida`s policy, this drug test the poor policy, became a
laughing stock in the state, even as it was declared unconstitutional as
soon as they tried to put it into effect, even at it became a really
obviously apparent boondoggle in the state that definitely wasn`t going to
save any money, and that was going to cost a ton of money, and that was
going to expose the opposite of the problem that it purported to solve,
even as all of that was happening, in Florida, the place that came up with
this law in the first place, these conservative groups, through networks
like ALEC, right? They were able to convince other Republican-controlled
states to try it as well.
Quote, “In 2013, alone, at least 30 states proposed bills related to
drug screening and testing, with some even extending it to federal
benefits, such as unemployment insurance.” That`s from the Minneapolis
“Star Tribune,” which wrote about this over the holiday break, wrote about
the worries and the state of Minnesota over the implementation of that
state`s version of the law.
Quote, “There was little debate in the Minnesota legislature last year
when random drug testing was added as an amendment of an omnibus health
bill. The bill passed the Republican lead state Senate in 2012.” But now
that it`s going into effect, quote, “counties across the state of Minnesota
are scrambling to enforce the rules. For many county governments across
Minnesota, the law has become a logistical headache.” The new law, quote,
“could end up costing taxpayers far more than it saves.”
Just one day before that, similar worries in the “Kansas City Star”,
where Missouri this past year was the most recent state to install drug
testing for welfare recipients and where neighboring Kansas is scheduled to
be next. The program`s price in Missouri described as, quote, astronomical
by one state`s legislature, quote, “a horrible waste of state resources.”
Costs in Missouri include $170,000 just for staffing administrative
hearings for the people that are getting denied benefits. In Kansas,
they`ve already earmarked nearly $1 million to pay for this policy,
including $600,000 for upgrading computers to get ready for the testing
Really? You think you`re going to save money with that much money
invested? On New Year`s Eve, a federal appeals court in Florida ruled
again on the policy that started this new trend in the red states.
Remember, the Florida policy was originally stopped by the courts just a
few months after it was implemented in 2011.
But on New Year`s Eve, on Tuesday Night, the appeals court affirmed
that ruling and shut the program down. Saying, in no uncertain terms,
quote, “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless,
suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally
It`s over. I mean, Rick Scott in Florida is running for re-election,
as governor. He says he will appeal this ruling. He says he not only
wants to keep this drug testing, he loves this program, but he wants to
expand. He wants to run on that when he runs for re-election.
But unless the U.S. Supreme Court does something really unexpected and
overturns this series of court rulings, it kind of seems like Rick Scott`s
signature “drug test the poor policy” is dead. It is at least dead at
But thanks to the Foundation for Government Accountability, this Koch
brothers related group, and thanks to ALEC and all these other right-wing
groups that spread this stuff around the country, even though it`s dead at
home, policy like this may still be coming soon to a state near you.
The day after that ruling, killing the Florida policy, the “Jackson
Clarion Ledger” in Mississippi ran an interview with Mississippi`s
Republican Governor Phil Bryant. They asked him what his big ideas were
for the state of 2014. And he said his big priority for Mississippi, for
2014, for this New Year is, drug testing for welfare recipients.
It`s constitutionally dead in the place that started it. Everyone
else that has taken it on thinks it`s a failure and a boondoggle. But
still, this stuff still keeps spreading, because if there`s one thing the
right actually is good at, it`s spreading bad ideas nationwide.
Joining us now is the executive director of the ACLU of Florida,
Mr. Simon, thank you for being here tonight. Appreciate your time.
HOWARD SIMON, ACLU FLORIDA: Thank you, Rachel. Nice to be with you
MADDOW: I know that you`re involved in this case that ultimately
seems to have struck down Florida Governor Rick Scott`s sort of signature
drug testing law. Why do you think the governor championed this law in the
first place? Was it addressing a known problem in the state?
SIMON: Well, he trapped himself into this by his rhetoric when he was
a candidate for governor. I have to say that what he did because
shamelessly exploit ugly prejudices and false stereotypes that people have
about the poor. I say shamelessly, because he knew the facts, some of the
There was an experiment in Florida several years ago that failed and
then he kept repeating the same thing over and over again, even after three
months into the program, as you have just reported, the rate of positive
tests for people who are applicants for welfare was about one-fourth of the
general population. And he knew that. And he kept repeating it.
And I think, frankly, what it`s all about, it`s more about politics
than it is the law. It`s his effort to exploit for political purposes,
what he thinks are the ugly stereotypes and prejudices that people have
about people on welfare.
MADDOW: The thing that seems fascinating to me about this policy is
that because of your court case, because of the case in Florida that
stopped this so early on, and because the initial data about what went
wrong immediately with this policy once it was implemented, it seemed like
it was very, very apparent to be a failure, just seemed like it was very
clearly a misfire. Hugely expensive, it showed the opposite of the problem
that it purported to solve. It showed people who were receiving welfare
benefits were using drugs at much smaller than the rate of the regular
So, to see that failure in Florida not translate into other states
recognizing that Florida screwed up so they don`t have to, seeing it then
thereafter spread around the country is a hard thing to understand. Is
there anything about this court ruling that will affect it applicability in
SIMON: Well, Rachel, it depends what you mean by success and failure.
Wasting a lot of the state`s money, Rick Scott is spending other people`s
money. The fact that it doesn`t work, I don`t think he really cares about
What is success and what`s failure? It`s a popular issue to be
exploited by right-wing politicians like our governor. The fact that it
doesn`t work is irrelevant. The fact that it whips up the public and
generates a lot of support, that`s what he would define, I think, as
success. He rode into office, in part, this was one of his big issues, and
apparently crusading on this issue, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme
Court, is what he`s prepared to run on for re-election.
MADDOW: Do you think if this does become an issue in his re-election
effort, if the Democrat running against him takes the opposite side of this
argument, do you have any sense in Florida about how that might cut
politically? Obviously, people pander on issues like this, because they
think it`s going to win them votes.
SIMON: I`m – I don`t want to be Pollyannaish about it, but there are
a lot of people that are very capable of being seduced by ugly stereotypes
and prejudices. Bear in mind, Rachel, this is – you`ve been reporting on
voting issues, well, this is one par of a comprehensive assault that this
governor has launched on the constitutional rights of the people of
Florida. We have been involved in about 12 different lawsuits, mostly on
voting, some on drug testing. There`s a companion lawsuit that we have in
which he is insisting upon drug testing, not merely applicants for
territory assistants, but all state workers, everybody who works for state
This is part of a comprehensive assault on the constitutional rights
of Floridians that we are fighting back on.
MADDOW: Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
Thank you for being here tonight. Congratulations on this ruling. Thank
SIMON: Thank you very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: I should tell you that we received a response from a
representative for the Koch brothers –
SIMON: Wait, there is an error. Hello?
MADDOW: We received a response from a representative from the Koch
brothers tonight, when we called to ask them about their thoughts on drug
testing welfare recipients, since this group affiliated with them in
Florida has been promoting that, alongside their promotion of more hard-
profile issues like telling people not to get health insurance.
The spokesperson for the Koch brothers we reached tonight told us this
on this subject. Quote, “Not sure I see how we would say anything to say
on this, since we are not involved in this issue in any way.”
There you have it.
Much more to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is sort of a stunning piece of video right here. Check
this out. This tape is paused right now, but what you`re looking at off in
the distance there, right underneath the big plume of smoke, that`s a row
of rail cars.
Can you make that out? See that? That little bumpy line right there.
Those cars ran off the tracks, caught fire, and then this happened.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Wow. That rather Armageddon-like mushroom cloud lit up the
sky above North Dakota, just a couple of days ago, earlier this week. And
the reason that a train derailment turned into what looked like the end of
the world is because that mile-wrong train which you see blowing up here,
that train was in the process of transporting highly flammable crude oil
across North Dakota when this explosion happened. The train derailment and
that subsequent massive explosion happened on Monday afternoon in the town
of Casselton, North Dakota, which is just outside of Fargo.
Castleton`s a town of about 2,400 people. Nearly all of them were
forced to temporarily evacuate their homes after that explosion sent who
knows what into the air above them.
The fire ranged on for more than 24 hours. The temperature of the
fire was reportedly so hot that fire crews could not get even close enough
to it to try to start to put it out. So they just had to let it burn and
burn and burn for more than a full day, before they could get close enough
to fight it.
The mayor of Casselton, North Dakota, told reporters after the
explosion, quote, “This is too close for comfort. There have been numerous
derailments in the area. It`s almost gotten to the point that it looks
like not if we`re going to have an accident, it`s when.”
To the extent that North Dakota is now a regular fixture in the
national news, it is too often because of incidents like this. Last month,
the same rail company involved in this accident had another train
derailment that involved rail cars that transport crude oil. In October, a
North Dakota farmer turned out what to be one of the largest oil spills in
state history, 20,000 barrels of what leaked from a pipeline into his North
Dakota wheat fields.
And while North Dakota isn`t the sight of the oil-related disaster, it
is, in some ways, the source of it. When that massive explosion in Quebec
in July killed 40,000 people, that explosion was caused by the derailment
of a train, carrying a load of sweet, light crude from North Dakota, from
the Bakken shale.
North Dakota over the last decade or so has become a state that`s
increasingly dependent on one industry. There`s essentially an oil gold
rush happening in North Dakota right now.
Before the boom in 2008, the state was shipping about 18,000 barrels
of oil a day by rail. By 2012, it wasn`t 18,000 barrels a day. It was
425,000 barrels a day. And that number rose by another third in 2013.
Watching the state of North Dakota deal with its sudden and new and
dramatically different reality has been a fascinating experiment in
watching the adaptability of governance. But the way that North Dakota has
adapted has also sometimes been alarming.
This was the front page of the “Bismarck Tribune” newspaper today.
Look at that right up there at the top. “Ross oil pit shut down.” Company
ordered to stop using oil pit over town`s drinking water.
North Dakota officials gave an oil company there the go-ahead to start
dumping all their excess drilling material into a football field-sized
waste pit on their drilling property, a waste pit that just happened to sit
on top of one local town`s water supply.
What`s the big deal? When residents there started to raise a fuss
about it, officials finally ordered the company to stop dumping there. The
local resident who raised the concerns about it in the first place told the
paper, quote, “It`s a little frustrating, because we are not being
protected by the people who are supposed to be protecting us.”
The state official, who`s at least nominally in charge of protecting
the state and its residents from the oil industry would be this guy. This
is the state`s top oil regulator. That train derailment and explosion that
happened earlier this week on December 30th, just 2 1/2 w before that, the
state`s top regulator in charge of the oil industry announced that his
agency was putting together a special paper, a special paper to, quote,
“dispel this myth that oil is somehow an explosive, an explosive really
dangerous thing to have traveling up and down your rail lines.”
He said he was going to do a special report to assure the people of
North Dakota that there`s really no reason to worry about shipping oil
around the state. Nothing to see here, folks. Don`t worry about a thing.
Why would you think it`s dangerous or explosive?
He said that 2 1/2 weeks before this happened.
Here`s how weird things have gotten in North Dakota. Last month,
state regulators determined that an Oklahoma energy company has been
operating a pipeline in the state of North Dakota for two years totally
illegally. They had no permit to operate their pipeline. It was a natural
gas pipeline. They never bothered to get the proper permits for it. They
built it illegally and run it totally illegally, for two full years.
By law, that kind of violation is subject to $10,000 fine. And not
$10,000 total, but $10,000 per day, for each day the violation persists.
Well, last month state regulators in North Dakota looked into that
violation. They determined that the company was, in fact, running an oil
pipeline in the state for two years without a permit, and then they decided
that the company will not face any fine whatsoever for doing that.
No big deal! Don`t worry about it. Don`t worry about it, North
Dakota residents, nothing to see here.
One of the state commissioners who made that decision said that fining
that company might deter other oil companies from considering future
investments in the state.
So, go ahead, companies. Operate your pipelines without a permit.
Build illegally and operate them illegally. We don`t care.
North Dakota is pumping a ton of oil and a ton of natural gas right
now. North Dakota is also, while they are doing that, experimenting with a
type of governance that is usually called anarchy. Corporate anarchy. And
so far, the result is kaboom.
MADDOW: Reading spy novels and learning to lovely bitters all over
again? Me too.
Well, while we were all doing that, about 70 hearty souls spent their
last week and a half stuck on a Russian ship in Antarctica. This is
supposed to be a Russian ice-breaking ship. But on a trip home from a
month-long research expedition, the icebreaker learned that it could not,
in fact, break the necessary ice to keep moving and it got stuck. It got
stuck on Christmas Eve and it stayed stuck until today when, finally, all
52 tourists and scientists on board got rescued.
They got scooped up from a makeshift icy helipad by a Chinese
helicopter and then they were flown to another ship that was nearby.
Twenty-two crew members stayed on site with the ship, so they can move it
out of there when the sea ice breaks up and it can move. But, thankfully,
the days stuck on the ship were not for nothing.
The Antarctic scientists said they used their stuck days to research
the birds in the area. And drilled through the ice that they were stuck in
to take undersea photographs of whatever was alive down there and not stuck
We`ve got a story coming up in just a moment about an even more
intrepid adventure at sea, including never before seen footage of something
the United States has just invented – something that has never been done
before, that is about to start in international waters on heavy and
secretive armed guards.
That`s straight ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a merchant vessel called the Cape Ray, built
originally in 1977, acquired by the United States of America in the 1990s.
It`s a 648-foot-long government-owned cargo ship.
Its crew is usually only about nine mariners. It`s part of reserve of
four dozen ships like this around the country that are kept in near
operational state all the time, in case they`re needed somewhere around the
world. The Cape Ray from go to at-rest to fully operational in five to 10
days which is impressively short, for such a big ship and for particularly
for one with such a small crew.
These cargo ships are flexible vessels that can be used in all sorts
of circumstances. For example, in 2005, the Cape Ray was deployed to the
Gulf Coast to deliver relief supplies for hurricane Katrina. The Cape Ray
was deployed again in 2010, to Haiti, to help supply the relief effort
after the massive earthquake in Haiti. The Cape Ray was activated twice to
help move logistical supplies for the war in Iraq.
And again last year, the Cape Ray was used on the east coast for the
relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.
The Cape Ray is now docked along the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth,
Virginia. And it`s preparing to deploy again for its next big endeavor.
But the Cape Ray is about to do something that it`s never ever been
done before anywhere in the world.
You`ll recall that in 2013, that was the year we did not go to war in
Syria, even though it seemed like we were going to, after President Obama
announced that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its
own people. After he asked congress to authorize the use of military
force, there was a diplomatic breakthrough on the issue. Not a diplomatic
breakthrough on the issue of the war overall so much, but on the specific
issue of chemical weapons.
It was a surprising, last-second, we`re not going to bomb Syria after
all deal, in which Syria not only admitted for the first time that they had
chemical weapons, they agreed turn them over to be destroyed. And the
inspectors went in, they were shown the facilities where are the stuff was
stored, they were able to disabled the equipment that lets those be
weaponized. The plans were started underway to get all of Syria`s chemical
weapons moved out of that country and destroyed, even as the civil war
there rages on.
One problem, though. For a while, it seems like the biggest problem
in this plan is that there was no were to ship this stuff.
No country in the world wanted to have Syria`s chemical weapons on
their territory. The nation of Albania was asked. They said no. The
nation of Norway was asked. They also said no.
Eventually, the United States started to consider a new plan to
destroy Syria`s chemical weapons somewhere where there are no countries.
Eventually, the U.S. decided to dispose of Syria`s chemical weapons in the
same place they disposed of the body of Osama bin Laden – at sea, in
We know how to destroy chemical weapons. We`ve done it for years in
places in this country like Anniston, Alabama and, Deseret, Utah. Where it
has never been done before, though, is on a ship floating around on the
ocean. That is the political solution that apparently making the most
sense for these chemical weapons and for now, that is the scientific
solution that had to be invented, because it`s never been done before.
But the U.S. Department of Defense has now rolled out a new mobile
system to destroy chemical weapons in bulk, on a ship, roiling out on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK KENDALL: This team`s effort didn`t start today. It started
about a year ago. There was a recognition that something was going to
happen in Syria, in all likelihood, that would require us to do something
with those chemical materials that were known to be there.
We had no idea what scenario it would be, that would play out. There
were several options. I don`t think we would have picked the one that
we`re absolutely implementing now, if we had been asked to guess or even
write down several possibilities. But a year ago, we were not in a
position to do this. A year ago, we did not have the kind of capacity that
was needed to go and remotely, in some other location, destroy chemical
materials that were used in chemical weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A year ago, that process did not exist. But today, we got to
take a firsthand look at this system. It`s called the field deployable
hydrolysis system. And it didn`t exist a year ago, but now it does.
The system neutralizes chemical agents by mixing them with water, hot
water and other chemical agents. You can see them stored here in these
tanks. After mixing them in the system, they then get heated, and that
turns them into compounds that can no longer be used as weapons. The
liquid waste, the by-products of the process are then pumped into interim
holding tanks for cooling, and eventually disposal by the same means that
industrial waste is disposed of.
This system, which, again, has been invented for this process to be
used at sea, it is a transportable system, it`s self-sufficient and
includes its own power generator. And for the first time on earth, it is
designed to do this while and for the first time on earth, it is designed
to do this while floating.
And consider the international effort here. The loading of the
weapons is going to go first on to a Danish ship, with support from the
Norwegians and the Fins. Russian and China say they will provide security
in Syrian territorial waters for that part of it. Then that ship out of
Syria, carrying the weapons, is going to go to a port provided by Italy. A
port in Italy, where the weapons will be cross-loaded on to the U.S. ship,
the Cape Ray, and then that U.S. ship will be sailing out to sea, into
international waters, which nobody knows, and that`s where the destruction
of the chemical weapons will happen, using this process for chemical
weapons that has never been done in this way before.
All 700 tons of Syria`s chemical weapons are going to get destroyed
that way. The process is expected to take 45 days. They`re allotting
themselves twice that time to account for bad weather, during which time
they will stop the process if they need to.
This is brand-new technology. This is technology that has been used
on land here in the U.S. to destroy chemical weapons, but it has never been
tested at sea. It has never been used at sea. It is unclear, precisely,
as to what we should expect, but this is a brand, brand-new thing.
Joining us now to help us understand is Daryl Kimball. He`s executive
director of the Arms Control Association, which is a national nonpartisan
group, supporting arms control policies and programs.
Mr. Kimball, thanks very much for being here tonight. Nice to have
DARYL KIMBALL, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION: Good e here.
MADDOW: I am somebody who is interested in this stuff, but I have a
totally nontechnical understanding of it.
Did I explain anything wrong there about what`s about to happen here?
KIMBALL: Your explanation was excellent. I mean, that`s a very good
technical description. I think you`ve summarized that this is
unprecedented in the sense that this operation has not been done at sea.
The technology has been proven, this hydrolysis technology, but this is the
first time they`re doing this at sea.
And I think it`s going to be very difficult, but it`s doable. It`s
going to be – it`s a dangerous operation anytime you`re dealing with these
chemical weapons, precursor materials, as they`re called, but they`ve got
an expert team, many of them who are based near the Aberdeen – from the
Aberdeen proving ground. It looks as though their going to be able to do
this, if the chemical materials can be moved by the Syrian government to
the port of Latakia and put on board that Danish ship that you referred to.
MADDOW: So that to you, at this point, is the question mark, or at
least the thing that`s worth worrying about the most in terms of the
potential success of this operation, whether or not it can start, because
the chemical weapons get moved to the right place to start the process.
KIMBALL: Well, exactly.
You know, the Syrian government has been cooperating with every step
of this chemical weapons elimination plan that was first worked out by the
U.S. and Russia, but they`re now at the phase where they have to move in
dozens of ground transport vehicles, in big trucks, the material across
land, on a road that is contested right now in the civil war.
So, security is an issue. Weather has been an issue, getting the
right trucks and equipment to the Syrians for the operation. Russia has
helped with that, has been an issue.
My sources suggest that the Syrians have all the equipment they need
to move this, and so it`s just a matter of making sure the road is secure,
to get it to the port, so these operations at sea can begin to destroy this
very dangerous material.
MADDOW: What about the by-products of this process. Obviously, we`re
not creating anything novel by virtue of doing this at sea rather than on
land, but the products, the by-products that are the results of this
hydrolyzing process are not themselves chemical weapons but they are still
dangerous. What`s going to happen to that stuff? And is it dangerous to
have it on a ship rather than on dry land?
KIMBALL: Well, the 1,700 tons of chemical precursor material is going
to be transformed into hazardous industrial chemical waste, the effluence,
about 1.5 million gallons will be produced. And that has to be disposed of
on land, at sites that have yet to be determined. The Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now taking bids from about 38 different
commercial entities to do that part of the work.
So, this is also dangerous material, but it is not chemical weapons
precursor material. These sort of operations, industrial chemical waste
disposal are done all the time. Some of them are transported on rail
through our cities, like in the segment we just saw a few minutes ago.
So, all the steps in this operation have to be done carefully, but
that part of the process is the least dangerous, but is getting this
material on the ships, so it can be done properly, through this hydrolysis
technology. That`s the key.
MADDOW: Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control
Association – thanks very much for helping us understand this tonight.
Please stay in touch, as we learned more about what`s about to start in the
couple of weeks. I appreciate it.
KIMBALL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. If you are ever completely lost and without a
compass while out walking with your dog, fear not. Your dog can help.
Your dog might have a way to let you know where you are. Just give him
A moment of geek, coming up.
MADDOW: An interesting help wanted ad popped up in Utah this week.
The office of the attorney general in that state is officially looking for,
quote, “qualification and fee proposals for outside counsel to assist with
the case of Kitchen et al versus Herbert et al.”
If you don`t recognize, the Kitchen versus the Herbert case is the
case that shut Utah`s ban on same-sex marriage right before Christmas.
That ruling sent hundred of Utah couples streaming to their county clerks`
offices. In some counties like Salt Lake people raced to the clerk`s
offices Friday when the ruling happened, more people came back on Sunday
night to wait online all night Sunday to be first in line if they could
when the clerk`s offices opened up again on Monday morning.
And that sort of immediate, race done to the clerk`s office response,
doesn`t usually happen after a court ruling, right? I mean, Utah is
appealing the ruling. It`s not necessarily a final decision. Even so,
there is usually a delay until things go into effect, right?
But in this case, it turns out Utah screwed it up. The state made a
mistake in the way they handled the gay marriage case. That`s why all the
couples in up taupe were literally able to run into their clerk`s offices
and start getting married as soon as the ruling came down.
The Utah attorney general`s office is who screwed this up. Like all
attorney general`s offices, they are responsible for defending the state`s
laws in court. But in Utah, that office has just been a bit of a mess
This man, John Swallow, was just elected attorney general. He had to
resign, not that long after being elected, after months of swirling
allegations about ethics violations, false and misleading statements about
his finances during his campaign, and maybe a bribery plot that involved
some one stealing part of the bribe.
Mr. Swallow continues to deny all of the allegations against him. But
still, he did quit as the attorney general of the state of Utah at the
beginning of December.
Once he quit, Utah needed an acting attorney general immediately.
That acting attorney general gig fell to this guy. He`s name is Brian
Tarbet. And under this guy, Brian Tarbet, the federal court ruling came
down on marriage just before Christmas, the Friday before Christmas.
It turns out that the state attorney general`s office forgot to tell
the court that oh, hey in case your ruling will go against us, we want to
ask ahead of time for a stay of the ruling because we are going to appeal
it. The acting attorney general in Utah, the one who`s filling in for the
guy who got run out in disgrace, he forgot to file that request for a stay.
Just forgot to.
And that`s why the ruling was not stayed. And that is why it went
into effect right then that very minute when the judge made his decision.
And that in the immediate sense is why hundreds of couples are legally and
happily married in Utah, because the attorney general`s office forgot to do
something that you learn to dupe as a one L in law school even if your law
school its not a good law school. Wow.
Pretty quickly after the events. The governor chose a permanent
attorney general. Unfortunately for Brian Tarbet, Brian Tarbet was not the
governor`s choice. And that`s maybe because, well, giant failure.
The governor instead of Brian Tarbet chose another guy, a guy named
Sean Reyes. Sean Reyes spent his first day on the job putting together
working on Utah`s appeal of the district court same-sex marriage ruling.
It`s a little bit like having off to take the final exam on your first day
That is what brings us back to the help wanted ad, which is basically
a giant SOS from the brand new totally in turmoil screw-up attorney
general`s office. The state of Utah`s number one officer of the law is
looking for help, help, help, from anybody. Help from somebody, anybody
who has experience in the federal courts of appeal and also please has
expertise on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and also please
some understanding of a state`s right to define marriage.
And can you start yesterday? No, OK, today would be fine. Tomorrow
is a little late, because according to the help wanted ad, proposals to
help the state with its massive lawyering problems, are due in less than a
week. Applications are due on Tuesday, at 5:00 Mountain Time. Must be
welling to workweek ends.
So, how is it going in the Utah attorney general`s office right now?
I mean, think about it. After seeing the first guy resign, then the second
guy lose the same-sex marriage case, and then fail to request the stay, and
then appointing a new guy to replace the losing and stay request failing
guy, then begging anyone who can help to please help – I refer again to
the help wanted ad. Look.
Written proposals shall be submitted to Brian Tarbet by e-mail.
That`s who they had to put in charge of hiring the new help, the guy who
was given the task of cleaning up the big mess, lost the case, forgot to
file the stay request, who then passed over for the big job.
Now – Brian? We`re going to need you to go ahead and look through
the resume pile for anybody who can help us. Help.
The story is not over. The state has the asked the U.S. Supreme Court
to put a hold on same-sex marriages in Utah while the appeal is in process
which could happen. So watch this space.
But in the meantime, spare a thought for old Brian Tarbet, right?
However it turns out, man, May 2014, job-wise go better for you than 2014
did. Seriously. Poor guy.
MADDOW: If you are a dog owner or lover, this routine will look
familiar to you. Circle, circle, circle, spiny dance your dog does before
getting down to business.
Susan calls this squaring off to bunt when poppy does it. You know
the move. You know what it means.
If YouTube is a guide, a thing people like to document abut their dogs
because it`s funny. It`s probably somebody out there right now in a
snowstorm with a plastic bag in one hand and camera in the other, giving
this dizzying display on tape.
It turned out there`s an interesting possible explanation for why
exactly your dog does that just before going to the bathroom. Turns out it
is maybe not just for show. A team of scientists out of the Czech Republic
in Germany has discovered that dogs have a directional tendency when it
comes to doing their business.
Scientists have just published results of a two year-long study of 70
dogs, logging 2,000 occasions that require plastic baggies and 5,500
occasions generally associated with fire hydrants. Their findings have now
been published in the journal “Frontiers in Zoology.”
They found that due to dog`s extraordinary homing abilities, turns out
they prefer to excrete with their bodies aligned along a north/south axis,
which means that these scientists, if correct, dogs are spinning around
because they`re aligning their butts to the earth`s magnetic fields. Dogs
prefer a north-south direction for pooping.
So, when you`re dog looks he`s just dancing around in circles, really,
he`s just trying to read his or her internal compass, trying to fiend
north. Circle, circle, sniff, north, poop. And that seems to be true of
all kinds of dogs. They measured pooping habits of dozens of breeds, from
beagle to Transylvanian hounds in a statistically significant way, they all
went north south.
Dogs are mango-sensitive, and other animals are, too. Birds use
magnetic guidance to migrate. Cattle, deer are said to graze on a
north/south axis. But for dogs, it`s pooping.
So, if you are ever lost with your dog in a starless night and you
needed guidance or if you ever just wanted to know – there is a scientific
paper for that. He knows what he is doing. I love my job.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Have a great night.
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