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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/17/14

Guests: Laith Alkhouri, Bob McManaman

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. There`s a lot going on in the news today right now. Within the next five hours, Scotland is due to start voting on whether they`re going to become their own independent country or not. There was some new breaking news late tonight that yet another NFL player has been arrested on domestic violence charges, on criminal assault charges. That`s the sort of thing that would not typically be national news except the National Football League is collapsing into chaos in terms of how it deals with this issue. Several billion dollars worth of commercial sponsorship are now teetering on the edge of that story and it has advanced further tonight. In terms of the American elections this fall, everybody`s on the edge of their seats today. And tonight, waiting for a ruling which could come down at any time concerning the Senate race in Kansas, of all places, which very well might determine who controls the whole U.S. Senate this year, all eyes tonight on the Kansas Supreme Court. We do not know when that ruling is going to come but it could come at any time. So, there`s a lot going on, there`s a lot worth watching. But we start tonight with ISIS, the Sunni militant group in Iraq and in Syria that the U.S. government says we are now at war with. ISIS has now released a new video that is not another beheading video, thank God, but it is plainly aimed at an American audience. It`s 52 seconds long. It appears to be sort of a trailer for a longer video of some kind, but we don`t know that for sure. What they have released is this 52 seconds worth of propaganda video. And it is propaganda, absolutely. But in terms of its news worthiness, I think it is worth seeing because it shows what they`re capable of in terms of their skill at producing a message about themselves but it also gives some indication as to what strategically they are trying to get Americans to feel. It`s less than a minute. It`s not gory. It is disturbing because it`s a propaganda video. But if you look at what they`re trying to accomplish with this video, you can sort of see their strategy in terms of what they want from the American people and the American government, how they want us to react to them. It`s essentially why ISIS just released this propaganda video. I have to tell you there were two moments in which we think there were dead bodies visible in that footage, in this footage that we cut out. But other than that, this is pretty much what they released. This is -- this is the tape. Now, part of the reaction to this video today has been about just how Hollywood their production values are. How slick they are with video and editing. If part of their success as a terrorist organization is conveying a message that`s attractive to recruits around the world who then send them money or come fight with them, then it`s helpful to know that they`re really good at crafting their own message and making it look like Hollywood. But that, of course, is only one side of what they`re doing. That`s one side of their strategy to try to succeed on their own term. Yes, on the one hand, they need to build themselves up. They need to make themselves stronger and bigger and richer by attracting recruit and supporters. But the other side of it, is that they also have to attack, right? They also have to try to make their enemies weaker. They do that directly with force in the places they have taken territory in, in Iraq and Syria. They`ve just simply used military force to overwhelm rivals and local authorities and take over whole swaths of each of those countries. They`ve not yet tried to launch a physical assault of any kind on the United States, but they do clearly think of the United States as their enemy -- as maybe their great enemy, as the enemy they most want to fight. Certainly, they like to portray the United States as their equal in the world who they want to face off against one on one. And the way they`re trying to hurt the United States -- at least not yet, is about them physically getting to us, right? The way they`re trying to hurt the United States is instead by making us try to hurt ourselves. They`re trying to scare us and so terrorize us that we take actions that we otherwise would never take, that out of fear and anger and upset at what they`ve done, we allow ourselves to be provoked into doing things because of ISIS that with a cooler head we would not do. That`s global terrorism strategy 101, right? It`s the near enemy, far enemy idea. You can hit the near enemy because you`re near to them. The far enemy, you have to convince to hurt themselves. And so, this new video that ISIS has put out, it`s not aimed at the local people where ISIS is located. It`s not aimed at scaring into submission the people who live in the areas of Iraq and Syria that this group controls. It`s not aimed at upsetting the Assad regime, that they`re opposed to in Syria, and that they want to overthrow. It`s not aimed at the Iraqi government which they also want to overthrow. This new video that they released is designed for an American audience. And they`ve chosen American reference points that will make us feel like they`re coming to get us, right? They`re supposed to freak us out. So, in this new video they released, they show the American president, they show President Obama. They show a reference to the previous American president. They show the "mission accomplished" banner from the George W. Bush presidency. They show American troops on the ground in the Middle East. They show the White House. But they`re good at trying to scare us, right? They don`t just show stock footage of the White House or some post card picture of the White House. They instead choose footage of the White House that maybe you might take yourself on your cell phone if you were driving past the White House, which then makes it extra scary when it comes from ISIS. This is the footage they show of the White House. It`s like drive-by, not very professional footage. It makes you wonder, hmm, how did they shoot this? Is ISIS casing the White House? Are they here? That`s the feeling they`re trying to create, right? They`re here, they`re coming for us. This is a war between the United States of America and ISIS. And they think they`re going to win. They think they`re going to threaten the White House. They thing they`re going the take over our country, as the Islamic caliphate, right? Worldwide ambitions -- they`re coming for us. Late last month in Nigeria, a group called Boko Haram also declared that they are an Islamic caliphate. And, of course, that`s awkward because the whole idea of the caliphate is that it`s supposed to rule the whole world. So, there can`t really be two as long as we only have one world. But ISIS declared they`re the caliphate. They declared that in Iraq and Syria. And now, last month, Boko Haram in Nigeria, they declared that they`re the caliphate, too. Nigeria is a big country. It`s the most populous country in Africa. It has 170 million people. And Boko Haram did not declare the caliphate in all of Nigeria. They declared it in northern Nigeria, in eastern Nigeria along the border with Cameroon, along the eastern side there. And that geography is helpful for understanding the efforts to fight Boko Haram thus far. It at least helps you understand those reports that when Nigeria sent its troops out there to go fight Boko Haram, sometimes instead of fighting them, the Nigerian troops instead just threw down their weapons and fled across the border into the neighboring nation of Cameroon. So, the Iraqi troops that dropped their uniforms and dropped their weapons and left the keys in the tank when ISIS took over places like Mosul in Iraq, Nigeria has had the same problems when they get their troops to fight Boko Haram. Like ISIS, Boko Haram does operate sort of like a terrorist organization but they also operate sort of like an army. They have a lot of advanced and heavy weaponry that they`ve taken from the Nigerian military. Boko Haram is a large group. They`re holding territory after they take it. They don`t just attack and leave. They hold territory, they clear it and they hold -- they keep control of it. Boko Haram, of course, is the group that horrified the whole world, including the United States when they kidnapped hundred of school girls from a school in northern Nigeria, 270 girls they took. Just over 50 of those girls were able to escape in the first couple of days after the kidnapping, but since then, none of those 270 girls has gotten away since the initial few first escaped. Those girls were never released. There was, of course, a rash of attention when the girls were first taken five months ago. There was a lot of international pressure. There was the "bring back the girl" campaign, but if you haven`t heard anything about it since, it`s not because they brought back the girls. They did not. Those girls are still gone. Boko Haram still has them. Today, Boko Haram sent two suicide bombers into a teachers college in northern Nigeria. One of the attackers reportedly blew himself up inside a lecture hall that was filled of student. A second bomber was trying to enter a second lecture hall but he couldn`t get in somehow and he blew himself up outside the lecture hall. The initial reports out of northern Nigeria in this attack were that at least 15 students were killed, more than 30 of them are hospitalized. Boko Haram has captured lots of modern military equipment from the Nigerian armed forces. They`re well arm and apparently well funded. They control territory now that is about the size of West Virginia. They`re currently ruling over about 3 million civilians in Nigeria. In areas under their control, they rule with beheadings, they take women and girls wholesale. They`re forcing children to become child soldiers for them. And now, they say they`re an Islamic caliphate and will take over the whole world. NBC News reported this week that their group is poised the take over yet another large city in Nigeria, a city with a population of about 1 million people. Boko Haram has it surrounded and seems ready to move into it, to their supposed caliphate is presumably about to get a lot bigger. Despite all that, though, Boko Haram has not caused the same reaction in the United States that ISIS has. Substantively, there`s not much material difference in terms of the threats posed by these two different groups in these two different parts of the world. In fact, if you look at the U.S. government assessments of the kind of threat posed by these groups, the U.S. government has used basically exactly the same language to describe the threat posed by these groups, how much of a threat they are to us and how they want to try to hurt us. Watch. Here`s our government talking about ISIS now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At present, we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: So that`s how the U.S. government is explaining the threat from ISIS now. That`s the same way they`ve explained the threat from Boko Haram. FBI Director James Comey describing the threat to the U.S. from Boko Haram last year. He said this, "The FBI assesses that Boko Haram does not currently pose a threat to the homeland. Boko Haram does however aspire to attack U.S. or western interests in the region. So, according to the U.S. government, that`s the rap on Boko Haram. They have not attacked us at home but they would love to, and meanwhile, they`ve threatened the region. That`s exactly the same rap on ISIS. They`re not about to attack us here at home, but they would love to. Meanwhile, they`ve threatened the region. Same threat assessment, both groups killing thousands of people, controlling territory in which millions of people live, declaring themselves an Islamic caliphate committing wholesale human rights abuses, overpowering local governments where they live, destabilizing whole regions, proclaiming their intention to -- I mean, not to put too fine a point on it -- but declaring heir attentions to take over the whole world, right? Same thing, both groups. But only one of them has done this to us. ISIS is the one over which we`re now starting a new American war in the Middle East. What`s the difference? Is it Middle Eastern oil as opposed to African oil? Is it that our path to war in Iraq is such a well- trod path that we find it easy to go back down that path again? Or has ISIS got themselves the U.S. war they always wanted while Boko Haram has not simply because ISIS is better at terror? They`re better in the literal sense of causing terror in us. Terrorizing us. They`re more skilled at scaring American politicians and scaring the American public. These propaganda videos showing the shaky drive-by footage of the White House and the terrible beheading videos showing the execution of American hostages and British hostages, they have proven their ability to both get our attention and to scare the American people. Are they doing that in the hopes that we would react a certain way? And are we now in fact reacting exactly the way they want us to? Today, the Pentagon announced that it has now completed 174 airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS targets. Those airstrikes are expected both to continue inside Iraq and to expand into Syria. That combat effort is scheduled to continue for months into November before Congress ever even tries to vote on whether that is the right thing for the U.S. military to be doing. The earliest Congress could vote on authorizing that military force that`s already under way is apparently the day after Veterans Day this year. That`s convenient. As far as I can tell, that`s first day that they`ll be back after the election for the lame duck session. That`s when they`re planning on voting on this war effort that`s already under way. It`s under way now. It`s been under way since early August. They aren`t planning on voting on it until November. Let it go on for months. In the meantime, though, there was a split vote in the House of Representatives in favor of arming and training Syria groups that are fighting Bashar al Assad in Syria and also occasionally fighting against ISIS. A similar and substantial portion of both parties voted against this matter today, but it did pass with an easy margin. The major had support from both the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, and also the Republican leader in the House, Speaker John Boehner. That measure will now go to the Senate where again the leadership of both parties, both Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, support it. And although there has been vocal opposition to that measure, particularly today from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who said he would vote against it, that measure about arming the Syrian rebels is expected to pass in the Senate as well. It`s a controversial thing. It`s a controversial idea. It`s an idea that was first proposed by the White House months ago. But before this week, Congress didn`t see fit to bring it up. Now they`ve not only brought it up. Now, they passed it at lightning speed. And they are content to let a large and growing war effort against ISIS roll on for months yet, purely on the president`s say-so before they even bother to put it up for debate. And none of these things that we are doing are new ideas, right? These are all old ideas that we`re kicking around for months if not years before, but they were flatly rejected before by the American people and ignored by Congress until ISIS succeeded over these past few weeks in terrorizing us. By so scaring and upsetting us via video that they have provoked us into doing things that with a cooler head we would never do. Joining us now is Laith Alkhouri. He`s a senior analyst at Flashpoint Global Partners, which is a security consultancy firm that tracks and analyzes terror-related groups and activities. Mr. Alkhouri, thank you very much for being here. LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL PARTNERS: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: So, the video that was released today, the analysis that you guys have of that, you think it may be announcing some sort of larger, longer video message for the United States. Am I right in saying that it is aimed at an American audience and essentially meant to be a declaration of war? ALKHOURI: It is indeed. It appears to be a declaration of war. We`ve seen the footage. You know, American troops in the Middle East being hurt, being wounded, engulfed in flames. You see the flickering of President Obama`s speech, passing by the White House, then at the end it`s flames of war. So, the message is very clear. And this is only the 52-second trailer before the much bigger video which we`ll be discussing likely not only a strategy of some -- some strategy to counter the United States` campaign but also it`s going to be a recruitment tool for other fighters to join the fight and likely from the West. It will probably be encouraging lone wolf attacks on the United States. You know, this discussion brings us back to ideology -- ideology that`s difficult to defeat with air power or even ground troops. So, you know, it does not need a visa to cross borders. All you need is a few clicks of the button online and the message goes around the world. MADDOW: My reaction to this stuff just as a citizen is obviously everybody has the same reaction of revulsion at the barbarism and the violence. I also as a citizen feel very determined to not give them what they want, and I feel like as a layman, just looking at the stuff, I feel like what they are trying to do is to provoke an American response that they could not get if we were not so terrorized. Is it clear to you when you analyze their own materials, their own recruitment pitches, the way they present themselves, that they`re clear what they want the U.S. government to do? That they want ground troops or they want an expanded war effort? Can you tell what they want? ALKHOURI: Well, their message is usually very customized to their audience. MADDOW: OK. ALKHOURI: So this message is clearly directed at the American public. And it really intends to influence American public to change the dynamics of the government, by influencing public opinion, the public opinion is able to influence government decision-making. MADDOW: In what way, though? What do they want the American public to do because they have seen this? AKHOURI: In my opinion, it really aims at getting the public to be outraged, at getting new involvement in yet another messy Middle East war. You know, we`ve only been out of Iraq for a little over three years now. And they`re trying to tell you that, listen, the United States did not win, if anything we`re expanding beyond control. And if you come over, we`re going to yet expand more. We`re going to send you your troops and we`re going to engulf them in flames, we`re going to carry out IED attacks. But again, ISIS has demonstrated that it has global aspirations. It has attracted foreign fighters from over 80 countries around the world. Something we`ve never seen before. Not even al Qaeda was able to attract that many foreign fighters. And we`ve seen them coming from Mexico, from Cambodia, from the Maldives, countries that are usually not known to host jihadists, or radical fighters. MADDOW: Does their fencing off against the United States, at least in their own terms, them position themselves as being equal and opposite to the United States, is that critical to their recruitment efforts? ALKHOURI: Absolutely. I think it`s two points here. One, they`re head-butting with the United States to demonstrate to their followers they`re a real state, as they claim to be an Islamic State. They`re not just a terrorist group. They`re not just an Islamist group. They`re an actual state. That`s how they view themselves. But the other point is that by butting heads with the United States, you are demonstrating to your fighters that you`re up to the task. MADDOW: Yes. ALKHOURI: That while al Qaeda is basically missing in action, we are rising to the occasion. MADDOW: Provoking the United States, trash-talking, saying we`re going to defeat you because we can, because we`re that big and because we`re you`re equal in the world. It`s -- I feel like those subtleties are very important to understanding what they want from the American people and the American government. And I wish there was more determination to not give them what they want. Laith Alkhouri, senior analyst of Flashpoint Partners, thank you very much. It`s really, really helpful. ALKHOURI: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, the last time we earthlings got a new country on this Earth, it was 2011. That`s when the country got a brand spanking new country called South Sudan. Before that, we the last time we got a new country on Earth was 2006 when the country that was previously called Serbia and Montenegro became two countries called Serbia, comma, and also Montenegro. So, used to be one with an "and" in which both of those things were combined. In 2006, they both became their own country. We do not get new countries on earth all that often. It does not happen frequently. But we might get one as of tomorrow. Scotland votes tomorrow on whether to secede from the United Kingdom and become its own country. The polls are really close. There`s only one question on the ballot. Everybody over the age of 16 in Scotland can vote on it. They`re expecting turnout approaching 100 percent of eligible voters. In terms of when we`ll know the results, this is when the polls are open. Just so -- we put this up so you can compare it to East Coast time. The polls open at 7:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning, with the time difference that`s 2:00 a.m. tonight on the East Coast of the U.S. The polls close at 10:00 p.m. local time. That`s a really long -- a 15-hour voting day. That`s really late, right? That`s 5:00 p.m. New York time tomorrow afternoon. They do not know exactly how long it`s going to take to tally up all the votes, but we should have results maybe by early on Friday, conceivably maybe even late tomorrow night. We`ll see. But then we`ll know if the United Kingdom will continue to be this or whether instead the United Kingdom will become this. With a foreign country to their north called Scotland, a country that sort of likes to think of itself as a little more Scandinavian than it is British, depending on who you ask. So, that`s the stakes. Here`s one totally partisan thing to know about this vote tomorrow, and how it came about. This is a small part of it but it is worth knowing and it`s partisan. Scotland hates conservatives. Specifically, I mean that Scotland hates the political party called the Conservative Party, the Tories in the U.K. That wasn`t always the case, but particularly since Margaret Thatcher and what her brand of conservative economics did to Scotland, Scotland broadly speaking hates the Tories. This is the delegation that they send to the British parliament in London right now. In London, the conservatives have an overall majority but if you were just looking at the Scotland delegation, you would you never know that. Out of 59 members of parliament from Scotland, only one is in the Conservative Party, 40 are in the Labour Party, one is a conservative, the other 18 are from the Scottish Nationalist Party or their independence or a smaller party called the Liberal Democrats. Scotland hates the Tories. But in 2010, the same year as our Republican landslide election here in this country, in 2010, the Tories won. The Conservative Party took power in the U.K. They only barely made it. They squeaked into the majority just by getting into coalition with one of the smaller parties. But they did win. They did beat Labour and they took office. That`s how we got David Cameron from the Conservative Party as the British prime minister as of 2010. Scotland hated that. Scotland hated that because they hate the Conservative Party. In the following year when Scotland held its own elections north of the border, Scottish voters gave an outright majority to the Scottish Nationalist Party which ran on the platform of seceding from the U.K. Yes, being their own independent nation has been a longstanding romantic dream of people in Scotland for a very long time, and it`s about a lot of different things. But in the short-term, one significant part of the argument was oh, God, save us from the Tories, save us from the Conservative government in London, save us from the Conservative Party and the conservative prime minister that just took over the U.K. government in London. We hate those guys. We don`t want to be part of that. And as an inevitable outcome of the Scottish people voting for the secessionist party when they got a chance to in 2011, voting for them in big enough numbers that the secessionist party got an outright majority in the Scottish regional government, now, tomorrow Scotland is about to vote on whether or not to secede. And the polls really are too close the call. And heading into tomorrow`s vote, the government of the U.K., they`ve been pulling out all the stops, begging and pleading for Scotland to vote no on independence. Prime Minister David Cameron himself has been flying the Scottish flag over the prime minister`s residence at Downing Street. He`s taken multiple trips to try to persuade Scotland to stay part of the U.K. But the problem when you understand this partisan part of it is that he really is part of the reason Scotland wants to leave the U.K. in the first place. If you want an analogy to American politics, Dave Weigel at "Slate" came up with a good one. He wrote this, bringing Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to campaign in Scotland is little like bringing President Obama to Wyoming to help campaign against a bill that would ban guns in Walmart. In other words, the guy may make a good argument. He may strongly want Scotland to vote no, but every time Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron shows his face or sets foot in Scotland, which hates the Conservative Party, he reminds them that the Conservative Party runs the U.K. and that`s part of why they want to leave the U.K. in first place. So, there`s lots of ways to look at this historic vote tomorrow. One very small part of it is partisan politics. But that`s part of it. And in terms of partisan politics, if Scotland votes to secede and forms its own nation, it`s possible that David Cameron is going to have to resign as prime minister. I mean, he`ll be the prime minister under whom the United Kingdom lost roughly a third of its land mass and more than 5 million of its population. That said, a yes vote to make Scotland its own country would probably help the Conservative Party in Britain in terms of its majority in parliament because the whole conservative hating Scottish delegation of MPs would now be foreigners. That would mean they`d have no say in the U.K. So they`d be gone. Partisan politics is only a very small window into this vote tomorrow. But the bottom line of that part of it is that a yes vote tomorrow for an independent Scotland would probably cost the conservative prime minister his job, but it would help the Conservative Party overall in what remains of the U.K. simply by virtue of them having shoved off from their own nation the part of their nation that has always hated them the most ever since Margaret Thatcher. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: One of the things we`ve been following pretty closely lately is the competing predictions from different statistics gurus about who`s going to win the elections this year. The question of whether or not the Democrats are going to keep control of the Senate or whether the Republicans are going to take control. There`s a lot of really smart people making predictions. They change them every day about the likelihood of who is going to win in November. Well, today a full scale nerd fight broke out between two of those very famous statistics gurus. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com and Sam Wong they both published competing screeds defending -- defending -- why their own model is right and why the other`s model is wrong and woe be unto the civilian who steps between the two statisticians fighting about statistics. Coming up in just a couple of minutes, I will tell you what each of those dueling, very skilled predictors, are saying today about who`s likely to win the Senate. But we`ve also got the strangest possible report out of Kansas. We`re now waiting on a court ruling that could determine who is going to win that Senate race and, therefore, maybe the whole Senate. As we wait for that court ruling tonight, we do have a very strange report out of Kansas related to that case. It`s a report so strange and so good that it is actually the best new thing in the world tonight. It`s amazing. It`s from Kansas and coming up right at the end of the show tonight. Stay right where you are. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you want to see how fast things are moving in the out of control and still growing scandal swirling around the National Football League, take a look at this visual. This is Monday afternoon this week. It`s the general manager of the NFL`s Minnesota Vikings, announcing that their star running back Adrian Peterson will play in the Vikings game this upcoming weekend. Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges just a few days before this. He was forced to sit out the Vikings game on Sunday, but then Monday, the Vikings announced that Adrian Peterson had been cleared to play this upcoming weekend. The Vikings general manager said that Adrian Peterson, quote, "deserves to play." That was Monday. Now, this, this on the right, OK, this was the Vikings press conference today. Notice anything different besides the camera angle? On Monday, the Vikings officials made their announcement about Adrian Peterson coming back while they stood in front of a purple backdrop with a big Radisson Hotel chain logo on it. Radisson is their main sponsor. Today, that logo was gone replaced by a logo for the team`s Web site instead. That`s because Radisson dropped their sponsorship of the Vikings after they announced Adrian Peterson was going to come back and play. Then today after that, the Vikings did a U-turn, they said they changed their minds again. So, first, he couldn`t play, then he can play, now, he can`t play again. Today they decided to deactivate Adrian Peterson and this time, it`s an indefinitely deactivation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK WILF, MINNESOTA VIKINGS CO-OWNER: In the end, it really is about getting it right, and that`s what we wanted to do here. And we made a mistake. And the main thing is we`re getting it right and that`s how we came to this decision. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, Adrian Peterson gets indicted on child abuse charges, then he gets benched for a game, then his team announced that he will be able to play after all, then he gets suspended indefinitely all in the course of less than a week. Welcome to the total mess that is a multibillion dollar NFL. For the last two weeks, the NFL and various teams in the league have been careening from one case to other when it comes to players facing criminal domestic violence charges, started, of course, with Baltimore Raven star Ray Rice captured on videotape knocking out his then-fiancee in an elevator and then dragging her limp body out of that elevator into a casino lobby. That was the start of this. That has not been the end of it. In addition to the confusing "we lost our sponsor"/Adrian Peterson U- turn statement today by the Minnesota Vikings, there was also a press conference today by the Carolina Panthers. They`ve been dealing with a domestic violence situation of their own, concerning Greg Hardy, a star defensive player for the team who was arrested and convicted earlier this year for assaulting and threatening to kill his then-girlfriend, he was convicted. The Panthers allowed Greg Hardy to play in their first game last weekend despite the conviction. Then they benched him in their second game, this weekend, and then they said the situation was fluid, then they announced that he would no longer play, until his appeal and his court case are resolved. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVE GETTLEMAN, CAROLINA PANTHERS: Greg has decided to take a voluntary leave with pay until his legal proceedings are resolved. We understand Greg`s decisions and given the circumstances, it`s very important that he concentrate on his legal issues. We believe this is the right course of action at this time for both Greg and the Carolina Panthers. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, conviction, then you play, then you don`t play, then you get suspended. Have I mentioned this is a mess? Most of the news today about the NFL was either about those two players being benched by their teams or it was about the various corporate sponsors for the league expressing unease with how the NFL has handled all these domestic abuse cases. Then into that news cycle came breaking news tonight that yet another NFL player has been arrested and that arrest is yet again on suspicion of domestic violence. Yes, another one. This is Jonathan Dwyer. He`s a running back for the Arizona Cardinals. Jonathan Dwyer was pulled out of practice today so he could be questioned by police about two incidents that allegedly took place inside his home earlier this summer. There`s not a lot of details yet about those incidents, but police said tonight that they involve two victims, two alleged victims -- a 27-year-old woman and an 18-month-old child. Jonathan Dwyer is known to be married with one child, so presumably this is his wife and child, but we don`t know that yet. When questioned by police tonight, Jonathan Dwyer denied that any physical assault took place, but he was booked by police into the Maricopa County jail. Just within the last hour or so, Phoenix police announced the charges against Jonathan Dwyer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SGT. TRENT CRUMP, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Investigators are charging him with one count of aggravated assault for causing a fracture, one count of aggravated assault involving a minor, two counts of criminal damage for damage that was done at the residence during the altercations and to a cell phone -- one count of preventing the use of a cell phone in an emergency and one count of an assault for allegedly assaulting the victim. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Arizona Cardinals today perhaps seeing how other teams in the league have been flailing in terms of how they`ve handled these situations, the Cardinals tonight announce they`ve deactivated Jonathan Dwyer from all team activities effective immediately. Joining us now from Phoenix is Bob McManaman. He`s a sports reporter for "The Arizona Republican". Mr. McManaman, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your time tonight. BOB MCMANAMAN, ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Glad to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: So, we heard the charges that Jonathan Dwyer is facing there from the sheriff`s department. Do we know anything more about these two incidents, about what`s being alleged here? MCMANAMAN: Well, back-to-back days in July 21st and 22nd as you heard, the officers stated a fracture was sustained on the 27-year-old. We don`t know what happened to the 18-month-old. And we don`t really know if that`s his wife and/or his child, but it does appear that way. They needed some medical records. They didn`t get that until after September 11th, that was a week ago. Now here we are. Deactivated. They guess is this player will be placed on the commissioner`s reserve list, exempt list -- mean, it`s a way to get paid, not get punished until you go through the court system. MADDOW: In terms of how the cardinals have dealt with this, we`re watching lots of teams struggle with these issues, watching the league struggle with these issues. As far as I understand it, this has come up for the Cardinals before, albeit not with the white hot spotlight on the issue right now. As far as I understand, the running back that`s sort of a backup to Jonathan Dwyer, his name is Chris Rainey. He`s also had a history with run-ins with the law over domestic abuse allegations. MCMANAMAN: They signed Chris Rainey last week to the practice squad. So, he`s not an active player, but he could be activated this week ironically now that Jonathan Dwyer is deactivated. So, you`re going to have one domestic incident for a guy who`s got two. And it involved various different things. Chris Rainey was accused and later pled guilty to slapping a girlfriend and another stalking charge that included some other nefarious situations. He`s been kicked off of two teams -- the Steelers and the Colts within the last three years. And now he`s here. We asked Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Cardinals about that. This is the interesting part to me. I checked it out with two veterans who know this player. One of them was Jonathan Dwyer and he gave me his blessing. I don`t know to make of that. Other than it`s a zoo. It`s a circus. The NFL`s got serious problems. MADDOW: When you say he gave you his blessing, that doesn`t bother him, those charges hanging over him? MCMANAMAN: The coach went to two players who played with Rainey in 2012 with the Steelers. One of whom he went to was Jonathan Dwyer. And Jonathan Dwyer said, he`s a good kid. You can count on him. And Arians said he wouldn`t have signed Chris Rainey had it not been for the endorsement he got from these two players, one of them again was the player we`re talking about. MADDOW: One of whom was the one who was stepping out of practice today to go speak to police on his own charges. MCMANAMAN: Yes. MADDOW: I mean, do you sense, Bob, that -- I mean, without strong leadership from the league here, that essentially we`re in sort of a -- I don`t know if it`s a race to the bottom, but to see the Cardinals having picked up this guy rainy after he was cut from two other teams. Each team has to make their own decision about what their standards are here and about what they want from a player in terms of what they can stand in terms of the moral stain of that player. I mean, do the teams compete with each other on those terms or how do they relate to each other when they make these decisions? MCMANAMAN: Well, all I can say is, speaking for the team I cover, the Cardinals, knowing the people, players, the coaching, staff that I do and especially Bruce Arians, he`s a players coach. He does have moral background and moral fiber. There`s no question about that. But I think this league, you`re so challenged to win. If you don`t win, you don`t produce, you get fired. Everybody gets changed. The owners want to win. They see one team go from worst to first. They want to do everything they can. Now, Jonathan Dwyer is a nice backup, a running back. But he`s not a starting running. He`s not a number one. He`s a number two. That is what it is in and of itself, but players and coaches -- coaches want to win and they go after who they can the best players who can help them win. MADDOW: And one of the things we`re starting to see if whether or not you are punished for beating a woman or a child to the point that the police get involved depends in part on your star value. At least until the league figures this out, it seems like it`s so chaotic. Those factors are being weighed as much as anything else. Bob McManaman, sports reporter for "The Arizona Republic", thanks for helping us understand the story out of Arizona tonight. Appreciate it. MCMANAMAN: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Just ahead, we need a new best thing in the world, don`t we? We`ll get one. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, there`s new news tonight about the investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That was the case that led to a national uproar and to weeks of protests and confrontations in the streets of suburban St. Louis. Mike Brown, as you`ll recall, was an unarmed teenager, 18 years old. He was shot multiple times by a single police officer on August 9th. The weeks of protests that that led to in the streets of Ferguson have since continued at city council meetings in Ferguson and also in greater St. Louis. People in and around Ferguson are not letting this case go. They`re still calling for a full investigation. They want justice for Mike Brown. Part of that investigation has to do with the St. Louis County prosecutor`s office. County prosecutors are presenting evidence in the case to a grand jury. It is a grand jury who will decide whether or not they want to indict the police officer who`s implicated in this shooting. Now, at the outset, they said they expected the grand jury to make a decision by mid-October. This week, though, a judge decided to extend the appointment for the grand jury until January 7th. County officials say that doesn`t mean the grand jury will need that long to reach a decision, but they do have until January 7th now. And now, we got an important glimpse into how the work of that grand jury is going, because now we know the Ferguson police officer who shot Mike Brown, he has appeared before that St. Louis County grand jury. A source telling the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" that Officer Darren Wilson was, quote, "cooperative with the grand jury." The officer was not obligated to appear before that grand jury but he did. And when he got there, his appearance before them lasted almost four hours. Four hours. We will keep following this story. Watch this space. "Best New Thing in the World" coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "The Best Thing in the World" and it is related to politics, but it is not about politics at all. The context here is the race to win control of the U.S. Senate. Sam Wong of the Princeton Election Consortium, the guy who correctly predicted the outcome of the every Senate race in the country in the last election, Sam Wong says that as of today, the Democrats have 74 percent chance of keeping control of the Senate after the elections this year -- Democrats, a 74 percent chance. On the other hand, statistical guru Nate Silver and his model over at FiveThirtyEighyt.com, they say the opposite. Right now, Nate`s model says the Republicans are more likely to take control of the Senate. He gives them a 54 percent chance of taking over the majority from the Democrats. So, Sam Wong says bet on Democrats, Nate Silver says bet on the Republicans. Who`s right? I don`t know. And you don`t neither. And they can`t both be right. And maybe neither of them are right. And you shouldn`t bet anyway. But control of the Senate is a fascinating unknown right now. And one of the races that we`ve been watching really closely in order to try to figure what`s going to happen in the Senate is this race in Kansas. And this race in Kansas, the secretary of state, Republican Chris Kobach, Tea Party poster child, he`s trying to force a Democrat to be on the ballot who doesn`t want to be on the ballot. It`s a weird, weird turn of events in this race, the seemingly small thing that could have a huge impact on who wins that Senate seat, and that could have a huge impact on who wins the control of the whole U.S. Senate for the rest of the Obama presidency. So, Chris Kobach on one hand and Democrats on the other hand -- they both made their arguments in front of the Kansas Supreme Court. It could come down at anytime now. But here`s where the best new thing in the world comes in. In the course of reporting on that story, we`ve been, of course, constantly refreshing the web page on the Kansas secretary of state`s Web site, looking for any updates, maybe on his Twitter feed as to what`s going on. We`re anticipating the decision could come at any moment. It has national implications. So, it`s like refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh. Since we`ve had our eyes glued, we`ve noticed something. His Twitter account existed since 2010. In those four years, the office has tweeted sparingly. Mostly dry stuff about upcoming elections. The account has followed only a handful of other Twitter accounts. They only followed 26 people after four years. They`re only following 26 other Twitter feeds. And it`s mostly local news media, like the Kansas free press, Kansas City Star, some other government agencies like the Kansas Labor Department and Lyon County election office. But then there`s one standout thing. Sometime in the spring of 2012, the Kansas secretary of state`s office started following this guy, the Topeka lamp dancer. Really? Not lap dancer, lamp dancer. Tell me more. The Topeka lamp dancer describes himself on his Twitter page as, quote, "always dancing". "Always dancing with one of my 12 lamps here in the top city." And if you search for the Topeka lamp dancer online, behold, there it is. And there are lots of videos of him doing his thing. He dances away, with a lot of energy. He`s usually holding up a small electrical table lamp. Although I do not think he plugs in his lamps. He just dances with them. The Topeka lamp dancer told the "Topeka Capital Journal" that his lamps are either bought or borrowed from local thrift stores. He says he sometimes dances up to five hours a day. He`s usually alone but he can draw dancing partner or two at times. And I don`t have to tell you this, you can see for yourself, obviously, he is fabulous. And he has apparently made a fan out of Secretary of State Chris Kobach. I have no idea how this cam about, but it`s great. Seriously, the country`s most aggressive, most partisan, most radically conservative secretary of state who has never before ever done a single thing that I`ve identified with ever. It turns out, he has a soft spot for the Topeka lamp dancer. And now I do, too. Best New Thing in the World by a mile. And I have to tell you, I now also follow the Topeka lamp dancer and I hope to meet him in person someday. Tada! That does it for us tonight. Bridging the partisan divide. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END