The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/20/09
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thank you for staying with us at home for the next hour.
One of the chief architects of the Iraq war has made fresh claims that neither he nor any of his merry bands of Iraq war architects had anything to do with the architecture of the Iraq war. They‘re saying the thing built itself. And, Rod Blagojevich haunts us all from beyond the political grave—believe it or not. Barack Obama makes a lamentable decision about a big, bad prison that has turned into a legal black hole. That is all coming up this hour.
But first, the Barack Obama presidency is one month old today. Yes, it has been a month since Aretha Franklin‘s incredible bejeweled inaugural hat. The president celebrated his one month in office by—doing another day‘s work. He met with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to talk about the stimulus money headed their way and to give them fair warning: “No spending shenanigans.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it. And I want everybody here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressional Republicans yesterday said they were going to do a big name-and-shame thing for any waste in the stimulus as well. Now that the president says that he will, too, it‘s probably back to the “GOP in Exile” strategic drawing board.
President Obama also addressed the far from finished post-Katrina rebuilding effort in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast today by signing an executive order extending the operation of a federal office for Gulf Coast rebuilding which would have otherwise closed at the end of the month. That was the fairly productive Friday of the Democratic president today.
On the Republicans‘ side, today‘s priority was issuing a fact sheet
a fact sheet alerting the nation to what they call President Obama‘s disappointing month. They are not angry. They are not upset. They are just—disappointed. I mean, it‘s not like he‘s gotten anything done, right?
On his first full day in office, Barack Obama announced strict new rules for lobbyists who want to work in the White House. He announced pay caps for senior White House staff, and Hillary Clinton was confirmed as secretary of state.
The next day, he signed an executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the secret CIA prisons overseas. He and Secretary of State Clinton named George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke as special envoys to the Middle East and he made a huge government statement by making his first agency visit to the formerly neglected State Department, symbolically there for reviving diplomacy. Then, he appeared on an Arabic TV network and laid the ground work for repairing this country‘s relationship with the Muslim world.
Then, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, so that if women are treated and paid unfairly at work, it can actually something about it. Then, Eric Holder was sworn in as the nation‘s first African-American attorney general. Then, the president signed the SCHIP legislation, which gave 4 million kids health insurance. Then, he canceled 77 land leases around Arches National Park in Utah that had been auctioned off to oil and gas companies by the lame duck Bush administration.
Then, he signed the stimulus bill that he had sought and fought for as part of his plan to stave off the economic apocalypse. Then, he announced his plan to save as many as 9 million Americans from home foreclosure. Then, he took his foreign trip to Canada where bus loads greeted him like he was Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky all rolled into one.
Then, it was today, when in addition to the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort and the stimulus pep talk with the nation‘s mayors, the month-old president banned a handful of budget gimmicks that the previous administration had used to make the country‘s finances look healthier than they actually are like, for example, the Bush administration didn‘t include the wars in the budget. The wars just—surprise—popped up every year and required shocking emergency funding.
The effect of getting rid of these gimmicks is that our country‘s budget will look much more dire now—which means that President Obama doesn‘t plan to lie to us about how bad things are. It‘s almost like grownups in charge or something. How disappointing!
It‘s not like we‘re not keeping our eyes on the fine print, and the Obama administration‘s month-old record is definitely imperfect. We still do not have a commerce secretary. Tom Daschle turned out to be very embarrassing, Judd Gregg turned out to be a very bad idea. The president has made exceptions to this lobbyist rule; we still got two wars and a giant recession to cuddle up with every night.
And—this is news—late today, in a Friday news dump, the Obama Justice Department announced that they would continue the Bush administration‘s position that prisoners at the U.S. military prison in Afghanistan at Bagram Air Base, they said that those prisoners should not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in a real court—that is a big deal. It is news as of tonight and it is a disappointment.
However, looking back at Barack Obama‘s first month in office, given the royal across-the-board nightmare that President Obama inherited, and given the things that he has accomplished really quickly, what—did the Republicans think he was going to wave a magic wand and turn the whole world into a “Willy Wonka chocolate factory” or something? What else do you want?
Joining us now is Rick Perlstein, senior fellow at the Campaign for America‘s Future, and author, most recently, of the book, “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.”
Rick, thank you so much for coming on the show tonight.
RICK PERLSTEIN, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA‘S FUTURE: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you are a historian of the modern presidency. How does Barack Obama‘s first month stack up against other presidents‘ first month?
PERLSTEIN: You know, no one has done this much this fast since Franklin Roosevelt in, you know, March of 1933, days (ph), they inaugurate the presidents in March, and, you know, in a couple of days, he completely reorganized the bank system, you know. But no one has ever, ever, ever accomplished anything close to that. I mean, Lyndon Johnson was able to, you know, pass a tax cut. That was a big deal. But, of course, he did that on the heels of, you know, John F. Kennedy‘s martyrdom and, you know, a great heroic speech in which he said, “Let us continue.”
But, you know, the American system is not set up to make big changes fast. And yet somehow, he‘s been able to make some very big changes very fast.
MADDOW: Yes. And the politics around this—we talk a lot about the fact that there has been this political resistance to him, the congressional minorities in both houses certainly have .
MADDOW: . made a lot of noise but they haven‘t been able to stop him from doing very much. And I wonder how other congressional minorities have comported themselves when the president from the opposing party is really popular. Do they always sort of shake their fist .
MADDOW: . and yell “no, no, no” impotently like the Republicans in Congress are doing now?
PERLSTEIN: Well, that‘s an excellent question. I mean, after—especially after FDR won his, you know, second-term landslide with, you know, I guess there were 46 states, I guess there were 48 states then. You know, they kind of waved their fists and they were impudent, and eventually, some of them settled down and said, “OK, well, this New Deal stuff is here to stay, but we can do it a little better, a little more efficiently,” and you know, some people mocked it as a dime store New Deal. You know, the same New Deal, only cheaper.
And you know, FDR‘s brilliance and what Obama seems to be going for is just to turn the opposition party into this petty, whiney, you know, petulant, ineffectual faction. And if you look at, you know, the approval ratings for people like Boehner and the Republicans in Congress, it seems to be going pretty well for him right now.
MADDOW: Bill Clinton said today that he gives Obama an “A” for his first month on the job, but he said that he thinks that Obama should be more hopeful, should sound more hopeful when he talks about the economy. And, of course, the idea of Obama‘s oratory, his communication skills as being a great key to his power, the sort of—this thing that allows him to transcend political fighting and reach people just directly to the American public, I think, is an important part of understanding how he succeeds, and sometimes, how he fails. What do you make of that criticism from Clinton?
PERLSTEIN: It seems a little ungracious to me. I mean, let‘s say sour grapes. I mean, President Clinton, for all that he did achieve, he tried to pass—what was it—a $12 billion stimulus bill when he came into office, and it fell flat on its face. You know, he—President Obama is facing a country facing unprecedented problems, you know, the worst economic times since the Depression. It does not behoove a statesman to pretend it doesn‘t exist.
MADDOW: Rick, thinking about Obama‘s pressure from the right or the lack thereof, it‘s also appropriate to think about pressure from the left. When you look at the modern presidency—are presidents better served in the long-run when there is pressure on them from their base or do they do better with just unqualified support from their base?
PERLSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. The wisest presidents who are left of center understand that they have a symbiotic relationship with progressive activists to their left. I mean, most famous story is, you know, a bunch of activists coming to the White House and coming up with some radical idea and FDR saying, “You know, I agree with you, now, make me do it.” He meant, “Go into the streets, put the pressure on me.”
You know, there is no LBJ without Martin Luther King. And, you know—frankly, right now, as we are facing this razor‘s edge question over what‘s going to happen with this entitlement reform summit on Monday, you know, half the sort of liberal bloggers think—oh, well, this is just a thing (ph) that Obama is doing to get cover for, you know, advancing health care and half are worried that he is talking about, you know, cutting Social Security.
All we need to do is put pressure on him and let him know he can go no further.
MADDOW: Rick Perlstein, author of the book, “Nixonland”—thank you so much for joining us tonight. Have a great weekend, Rick.
PERLSTEIN: You, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the latest inscrutable, double fake political tactic from the neoconservatives is very devious, it is very—maybe but probably not genius. Their latest big idea is to deny that neoconservativism exists. In other words, you can‘t blame us because we were never here. The “GOP in Exile” is coming up next.
But first, One More Thing about Republicans and disappointments—the governor of Louisiana and sure seems eager to be presidential hopeful in 2012, Bobby Jindal, he has just turned away $90 million in federal stimulus money intended to extend unemployment benefits to the people in the state of Louisiana. His explanation—he said that at some point in the future maybe Louisiana businesses would have to start paying for those additional benefits when the federal money dries up in three years. That‘s, of course, the governor could phase out the program after three years if he didn‘t want anybody else to have to pick up the tab for it.
And meanwhile, 25,000 generally broke people in Louisiana who are getting unemployment checks just had their governor volunteer for them to get fewer checks. And in terms of economic stimulus, there is almost nothing that economists know to be more economically-stimulative than extending unemployment. It sounds to me like somebody has got that whole 2012 Republican nomination all sewed up.
MADDOW: Do you remember Sir Allen Stanford, the titan of finance who wasn‘t related to the Stanford University founder guy but said he was, the guy who was never knighted by the Queen but he still calls himself “sir,” a man famous as of this week for having allegedly sold about $8 billion worth of fake financial products? Well, Sir Allen spent some of his vast, allegedly ill-gotten wealth on political donations. One recipient was Barack Obama, he gave the almost $5,000 donation to charity this week. Another recipient was Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas; he gave $4,000 of Stanford money to charity.
The weird thing is that that $4,000 donation is only about 20 percent of the nearly $20,000 that Senator Cornyn received from Sir Allen. No word whether he will also return 20 percent of the four-day trip he took to the island of Antigua on Sir Allen‘s dime. I, for one, would not mind some charity collecting 19 hours and 12 minutes of Senator Cornyn‘s time.
MADDOW: And now the curious case of Richard Perle. Richard Perle was one of the ideological godfathers of George Bush‘s policy of preemptive war, most famously and still currently on display in Iraq, of course. Mr. Perle is known for his demanding eyebrows and for his proud embrace of his nickname which is the “Prince of Darkness.”
Richard Perle was a former Reagan Defense Department official, for years, a forceful advocate for neo-conservatism. Or as I like to think of it, radical international social engineering through profligate military means—preemptive war in other words, the Bush doctrine. Attacking Iraq, for example, even though it had nothing to do with 9/11. From his part (ph) at influential Pentagon advisory board, Mr. Perle, along with other neocons like Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, exerted a powerful influence on Bush administration policy.
Like other neocons, Richard Perle predicted that the Iraq war would be quick and that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction. That is the history, right? We all know that that happened. We all just lived through it quite recently.
But check this out, according to Dana Milbank in today‘s “Washington Post,” Richard Perle now says that not only is he not a neoconservative, he says that neoconservativism does not exist. In a speech last night, Perle said, quote, “There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy.” He said that even if neo-conservatism did exist, it certainly couldn‘t be blamed for what happened over the past eight years. Also, I am a supermodel, pigs fly, and the Detroit Lions just won the Super Bowl.
Joining us now is James Mann, who is author of “Rise of the Vulcans: A History of the Bush Foreign Policy Team.” He‘s also author and resident at John Hopkins University‘s School of Advanced International Studies.
James Mann, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
JAMES MANN, AUTHOR, “RISE OF THE VULCANS”: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Mr. Perle is denying that neoconservatives or neo-conservativism had any influence on the Bush decision to go to war in Iraq. Was this all a dream? Is there any conceivable way in which Richard Perle is telling the truth here?
MANN: If he is talking about the war in Iraq, no, that‘s not true. The neoconservatives had a strong influence on the decision to go to war in Iraq. Richard Perle himself was not in the Bush administration. His nickname in the State Department was “The Unpaid Adviser.” But he was extremely close to Paul Wolfowitz, who‘s the deputy secretary of state. And underneath Paul Wolfowitz was Douglas Feith, who was really Richard Perle‘s protege. So, there was a strong influence there.
MADDOW: What was the neoconservative justification for starting that war?
MANN: The justification was that Saddam Hussein was a bad ruler and should be replaced. I should say, you know, when he says the neoconservatives didn‘t have influence on the Bush administration, if he‘s talking about the war in Iraq, that‘s simply not true. I think when he says we didn‘t have influence on the Bush administration, there is a point at which he‘s being sincere, and that is—had he had his way, the administration would have been much more hawkish than it was. To take Iraq, for example, at the end of the war, if Mr. Perle had had his way, the U.S. government would have set up the Iraqi exiles as the government in Iraq.
MADDOW: But what about this whole idea that neo-conservatism doesn‘t exist? That it is a name invented by people who are critics of the Bush administration‘s foreign policy to describe a movement that didn‘t exist, that describe a philosophy that was never coherent enough to deserve a name. That argument to me is the part that seems truly, “Alice in Wonderlandy.”
MANN: Well, the name neoconservative long predates the Bush administration. And Mr. Perle was himself at the center of a group of people who, in the 1970s, really came together from the Democratic Party originally, to oppose detente with the Soviet Union, and who really stuck together for several decades. It is a close group of people.
And it‘s true that not everybody has exactly the same idea. But there is a group of people who can be fairly called “neoconservatives.”
MADDOW: And does it survive? Does it have a shelf life and an appeal after the presidency of George W. Bush? I mean, there have been some sort of prominent defections from the movement, right?
MANN: In the short term, I would say no. I don‘t—you know, think people go off to think tanks and they think and they write, but in terms of long—you know, in terms of short-term influence, I don‘t think it‘s there. Long-term influence, I‘m not even sure it‘s there but, you know, who knows what‘s going to happen in 15 or 20 years.
Right now, I think that the—really, the neoconservative influence began to diminish at the end of Bush‘s first term, and now, I‘d say, the influence is just about zilch.
MADDOW: I think the country would be delighted to know that neoconservativism had no future. I think the neoconservatives would be delighted for us to think that it didn‘t have a past and therefore, they can‘t be blamed for any of the stuff.
James Mann, your new book is called “The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War.” I understand, it comes out in March. I look forward to talking to you about that if you‘ll come back on the show next month. Thank you.
MADDOW: You know, the military options are few and less than ideal in Afghanistan. When the suggestion of negotiations with the Taliban make our secretary of defense say—you know, that‘s not necessarily such a bad idea.
Coming up: We will be joined by a counterinsurgency expert who I have been looking forward to talking to for a very long time. His name is David Kilcullen. Stick around.
MADDOW: Coming up on the show—one thing I am dreading for good reasons and one thing I am dreading for bad reasons. The good one is that we have got a counterinsurgency expert joining us who is someone I have literally wanted to talk to for years, and I‘d never had the chance before tonight. The thing that I‘m dreading for bad reasons—is that Rod Blagojevich, Governor F-word is back despite all odds! Ahh! That is coming up.
First, though, it‘s time for a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news. After 106 days, the California legislature did pass a state budget yesterday. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it today. Whew!
Why is this a relief? Because after so long without a budget, the state was on the precipice of calling to a halt billions of dollars worth of construction projects already in progress. The process of stopping and starting those projects alone was expected to waste hundreds of millions of dollars. So, California having a budget—I repeat—whew!
Now—the new thing to worry about is the huge potential change to California politics, that was extracted from the legislature in exchange for the one Republican Senate vote they needed to get that budget passed. Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado did crossover, he did provide the crucial last vote they needed but he made his vote conditional, conditional on the legislature putting forward a constitutional amendment that would establish open primaries in California. Now, they do this in Louisiana, they do this in Washington state already.
Instead of a primary where all the Republicans run against each other and all the Democrats run against each other and then there‘s a general election where the top vote getting Republican is up against the top vote getting Democrats, this constitutional amendment would change that. It would establish an open primary for all the candidates and then the top two vote-getters would just face off in the general election regardless of which party they were in.
If you are wondering what kind of effect this would have on who gets elected in California, our friend Nate Silver at 538.com ran some computer simulations. And he said that under the new open primary system, California would be, quote, “Land of a Thousand Liebermans.” In other words, it would privilege conservative Democrats and also, of course, liberal Republicans.
Now, this has had the effect of bringing the California Republican Party and the California Democratic Party into agreement finally. They both really, really hate this idea. Tada!
Also, the identity of Ireland‘s most notorious driver has been solved. Across the republic, a serial bad driver named Prawo Jazdy had eluded police, racking up speeding tickets and parking fines, but giving a different address to which summons could be sent on each of the more than 50 occasions on which this guy was pulled over. Now, the Irish police were stumped. Why couldn‘t they nail this Prawo Jazdy?
And then, an officer in the traffic division employed that all important tool of police procedure, the Polish/English dictionary. The officer sent out a letter to the force, pointing out that the case of repeat offender, bad driver Prawo Jazdy had been solved because, quote, “Prawo Jazdy is actually Polish for driving license. It is not the first and surname on the license. It is quite embarrassing to see that the system has created Prawo Jazdy as a person with over 50 identities.”
In other words, people police had pulled over, people with Polish driver licenses and unable to read Polish, the police had just taken the big words in the upper right hand corner of the license to be the name of the driver—which is sort of like Michael J. Fox‘s mom calling him “Calvin” after she read the name on his underpants in “Back to the Future,” but it‘s funnier.
Finally, let me be the first to wish you “Happy Outlawing Duels Day.” On February 20th, 1839, Congress outlawed dueling in Washington, D.C. Dueling was a popular method of settling disputes in our early history. The Smithsonian notes that “between 1798 and the Civil War, the navy lost two-thirds as many officers to duels as it did to more than 60 years of combat at sea.”
RACHEL MADDOW: On February 20th, 1839, Congress outlawed dueling in Washington, D.C. Dueling was a popular method of settling disputes in our early history. The Smithsonian notes between that 1798 and the Civil War the Navy lost 2/3 as many officers to dueling as it did to more than 60 years of combat at sea.
Our nation‘s most famous duel was between former secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr dueled in Weehawken, New Jersey. That was in 1804. Hamilton lost; he died. But he did end up on the $10 bill.
Andrew Jackson was also involved in a duel before he was president. He obviously won. Here at MSNBC, the potential duel we keep close to our hearts was this wish by Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller made to “HARDBALL‘s” Chris Mathews back at the 2004 Republican convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. ZELL MILLER (D-GA): Get out of my face. If you are going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer it. I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel. Now, that would be pretty good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chris today issued this statement regarding living in the day of the duel and I quote, “I‘m glad we don‘t,” end quote.
MADDOW: Coming up at the end of the show tonight, it is our week in review, which despite many complaints from the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff will not include the re-visitation of my very weak, first ever experience with the telestrator on live television this week.
That poor map of Pakistan and Afghanistan - you know, that map never hurt anyone. It did not deserve that. Oh, yes. You know, that is not madden.
All right. The reason that I broke out the telestrator this week is because we cover a lot of national security and military and veterans issues on this show. We talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan all the time. Yet, even for those of us who cover this issue and think about it and talk to people about it a lot, it is sometimes hard to keep the details straight.
It is hard to remember that the Pakistani government is only a year old. It‘s hard to remember that the Swat Valley, where the Taliban may be cutting a deal with the provincial government isn‘t on the border with Afghanistan where our troops are. It is actually really close to the capital of Pakistan.
But you know, if we want to be a less-dumb country, if we want to be more responsible as citizens, if we want to be more responsible as a country now about how we comport ourselves in this war and what we decide to do about Afghanistan now. If we want to do a better job having a debate and making good decisions now than the bumble and bluster that led our big, regrettable intellectual collapse into Iraq. That occasionally means making dufusses out of ourselves with maps of Central Asia on cable television.
Our next guest, David Kilcullen is more valuable than a pile of telestrators for understanding what we are doing in Afghanistan and what we‘re going to next. He has been an adviser for the State Department and to Gen. David Petraeus. He wrote the U.S. government‘s manual for policymakers for counterinsurgency. He has been a U.N. peacekeeper. He‘s been an army officer in his own home country of Australia. And not incidentally, he had dinner with Vice President Joe Biden to talk about the war just last night.
Joining us now is one of the world‘s foremost experts on guerilla warfare, David Kilcullen. Dr. Kilcullen, thank you so much for joining us.
DR. DAVID KILCULLEN, COUNTERINSURGENCY EXPERT: Hello, Rachel. If I knew you were trying to track me down so much, I would have been less elusive. It‘s a pleasure to be on.
MADDOW: Well, I think I was shy, too. It was part of it. So no blame to you there. Non-military folks all over the country who want to be informed participants in the debates about these wars - we are trying to figure out if we buy the military strategy here, if we buy the idea of counterinsurgency.
Is counterinsurgency our strategy in these wars now? And how do you explain what that is to people who are outside the military?
KILCULLEN: Yes. I mean, a general I know says that, you know, this stuff is hard. It is very, very hard and things are often not what they seem. And you gave the example of the Swat Valley agreement before. And that is, again, something not necessarily what it seems.
In terms of counterinsurgency, if I were to summarize that in a nutshell, I would say that the fundamental elements of counterinsurgency are protecting the population, making the enemy that is the insurgency irrelevant.
And if you like forgetting about fighting the enemy and focusing instead on protecting the population and building political legitimacy, kind of treating the military as a tool for delivering governance and development to the population.
The upside of that is if you do it right, you can achieve astounding results, as we have seen in a couple of recent campaigns. The downside is it takes a long time and it costs a lot of money.
MADDOW: Well, it seemed smart that we would have to use all of the elements of our national power, not just military, that we would have to use development and diplomacy and other things in Afghanistan to move them forward to a state that we feel less scared by.
But our efforts to build stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to dissolve into these convulsions of incompetence and corruption.
I worry that this is something that works in theory but now in practice.
KILCULLEN: Well, I think one of the biggest differences is actually between doing counterinsurgency in your own country and doing counterinsurgency in somebody else‘s country. That is probably the biggest discriminator between success and failure.
If you think about, for example, our task in policing Baghdad during the surge in 2007, it‘s not like the Iraqi police trying to police Baghdad nor is it like the American police trying to police Los Angeles. It‘s like the Iraqis coming to L.A. and trying to police L.A.
It is very, very complex, difficult, hard to understand and you just can‘t do it without close local allies. So I think it does work in practice. About 82 percent of counterinsurgency campaigns that were ever being conducted have ended in a victory for the government.
But most of those campaigns were fought in a country‘s home territory.
And almost all of them involved some form of negotiation with the enemy.
MADDOW: Well, speaking of negotiation, you just mentioned the Swat Valley as in - as a situation that is not necessarily what it seems. The Defense Secretary Bob Gates said today that he is in favor of that maybe agreement in Pakistan where the Taliban fighters get to institute Sharia law in that area as part of a peace deal. Why do you say that maybe it is not what it seems, and do you agree with him?
KILCULLEN: I‘m not familiar with what Secretary Gates said. But the history of this particular area is a little complex, so you might get the tele - whatever it was back out again.
But the Swat Valley is one of the districts in the Malakand division of the northwest frontier province. And it was one of the last princely states established by the British and India a local ruler called the Wali. And the Wali instituted Sharia law in 1930 when the state was created.
When Pakistan was founded after the Second World War, Swat and the other areas of northwest frontier province came under Pakistani national law. Now, there has been a movement since 1990 in the Swat Valley and other parts of that area to introduce Sharia. The movement is called TNSM and it is led by a guy called Sufi Mohammad.
And he‘s the guy who has been protesting for about a year and a half or so to seek the reintroduction - not the actual introduction, but the reintroduction of Sharia law into the Swat Valley.
That‘s kind of the longer history. But the shorter history of this is that the Pakistani army has had a history since 2002 of going into the tribal areas, fighting the militants, being defeated and then using agreements like this one as a fig leaf to cover a failure to control the environment or to protect the population.
So the first of those agreements in 2004 happened in Waziristan. There was another one in North Waziristan in 2006 and another one last year. This is the fourth major agreement.
What we‘ve found is that in each case, very quickly, violence has returned. The enemy has come back stronger. And in particular, violence in Afghanistan has gone up significantly whenever one of these peace deals is signed in Pakistan.
For example, after the September 2006 North Waziristan agreement seasonally adjusted, Taliban infiltration into Afghanistan went up by 400 to 600 percent. So you know, it is mixed.
And although I‘m not against negotiating, I think we need to look at the history of this type of deal before making a judgment.
MADDOW: In terms of big picture strategy and what we‘re going to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but specifically in Afghanistan where we are technically at war, you told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a couple of weeks ago that, essentially, our only option in Afghanistan would be to spend 10 to 15 more years there to prevent an al-Qaeda sanctuary there, to protect the government there from threats like the Taliban, to build up legitimate civic institutions there to which we can hand off power and then ultimately to hand off power.
It makes sense in theory but it is hard to believe 18 to 23 total years of war is the only option that we‘ve got to prevent the next 9/11. I mean, isn‘t the strain on our military alone of that long a commitment more than enough to call that a bad national security calculation?
KILCULLEN: Yes. What I actually said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was that we had no option but to level with the American people about how much it would cost and how long it would take. I wasn‘t suggesting that we were locked into that strategy.
And I think what I would say now is that we are at something of a fork in the road where we have an option of committing to an increased effort in Afghanistan or of scaling back our objectives to focus primarily on just the counterterrorism mission.
And what I suggested is that the two are kind of symbiotic. You can‘t really do to the counterterrorism mission effectively without a certain minimum amount of governance and development and diplomacy work. So, again, it is one of those things isn‘t necessarily what it seems.
MADDOW: Or the options are more complicated than they look and none of them are good. Yes. Dr. David Kilcullen, author of the soon-to-be released book, “The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.” Hopefully, you will be back on the show to talk about that one when it comes out. Thank you for taking the time to be with us tonight.
KILCULLEN: Thanks, Rachel. Happy to be here.
MADDOW: Friday the 13th was last week. But the strange and terrible saga of Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich nevertheless continues. Next, we unleash the horror that is night of the living head part eight. It‘s alive!
MADDOW: In international “no this is not really news,” the number one
downloaded video in Germany right now is this -
(VIDEO OF A DOG TRYING TO TALK)
MADDOW: No, you are not hallucinating. He is a terrier named Armani who can dance, fetch, do some awkward combination of begging and high fiving and he can say, “mama,” which reportedly makes his dada very envious.
MADDOW: It‘s Oscar weekend which is a good excuse to convene the second ever RACHEL MADDOW SHOW life meets art film symposium.
If you were here for the first symposium, you will recall that our focus was the horror genre, specifically our national, never-ending horror saga, the fall and fall and further fall yet ongoing influence of Rod Blagojevich, or as we have not so affectionately named it, “Night of the Living Head,” sort of in honor of the hairdo.
“Night of the Living Head” is back, believe it or not. Tonight‘s hypothesis about this and all horror series is that once you think you have killed the monster, it always comes back.
And of course, in the horror genre, there is no such thing as a happy ending, just that moment when you think everything‘s going to be happy and then it turns out it‘s not - fade to black.
When we last checked into our saga, the political zombie that is Rod Blagojevich was giving his post-impeachment media blitz. By our count as cine-philes(ph) we think that was “Night of the Living Head 7.” After six compelling preceding features, “Living Head 7” was totally straight to DVD.
I mean, sure, there would be another sequel but it would be confined to bargain bins at drugstores and truck-stops. How wrong we ended up being about that. The series is back. It is on the big screen and it is in wide release.
This week, I‘m telling you, the dirt stirred. The ground shook, and out of the freshly dug grave emerged Rod Blagojevich‘s middle finger. It is “Night of the Living Head 8,” the head haunting us from beyond the grave.
While Blagojevich‘s political life was buried in the last episode, his political spawn remains - the monster‘s creation, full-fledged United States Senator Roland Burris of Illinois. He is now struggling publicly, very publicly, to remain undead.
What we know now that Sen. Burris was already politically dead when he first graced our movie screen. We just didn‘t know it yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D-IL): All of the rest of this is the side drama of the governor‘s problems. It has nothing to do with the qualifications of the individual or the dedication of the service of the individual, because I am, in no way, condoning anything that the governor‘s done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He was so well-trained he was and was very convincing. He was Blagojevich‘s political spawn after all so we should have seen this coming. We could have guessed the back-story of the senator‘s rise.
But, apparently we didn‘t. The phone calls with the zombie‘s brother, the fundraising efforts on the zombie‘s behalf that we did not about before, the failure to disclose any of this to the public.
The ever-changing story made the monster‘s spawn as politically dead as his creator. In “Living Head 8,” a slew of political allies call for senator Roland Burris to step down. Today, his chief-of-staff resigned and the man who replaced the original zombie drove a political stake through Roland Burris‘s political heart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAT QUINN (D-IL): I would ask my good friend Sen. Roland Burris, to put the interest of the people of the land of Lincoln, first and foremost, ahead of his own and step aside and resign from his office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That would be Democrat calling for Democrat to resign. Roland Burris now knows the lonely life of the horror movie villain. His last desperate attempt to save himself was a plea that he was not the reincarnate of his zombie creator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURRIS: You know, the real Roland. I am the real Roland. You all know me, OK? You all know Roland Burris. You know the real Roland. I‘ve done nothing wrong and I have absolutely nothing to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I swear I haven‘t been infected. I‘m not like him. The thing about “Night of the Living Head 8” is that as of this hour, it is still playing out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It might be important for Sen. Burris to take some time this weekend to either correct what has been said and certainly think of what lays in his future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Exactly how this episode ends is anyone‘s guess. Given what has already happened, it feels like Roland Burris is finished. But this is a zombie picture, so who knows?
In retrospect, reviewing the eight “Living Head” episodes, we shouldn‘t be surprised. Rod Blagojevich‘s corrupting touch was not going to die with his political career. That‘s not how horror movies work. The monster never dies, right? It‘s now how corruption works either. It taints everything in its orbit for as long as you let it live.
And the Illinois political establishment collectively led Rod Blagojevich and his corruption live by not removing him faster, by resisting the call for a special election, by being out-hustled on the Roland Burris nomination by Blagojevich. And the zombie‘s actions are still haunting the U.S. Senate where the majority party frankly needs 60 votes to get anything done right now.
Blagojevich haunts not just the people of Illinois but anyone who wants action from the Federal Government. If you give a zombie power, if you let him breathe, if you allow him a spawn, you will be haunted for all of the days of your life.
MADDOW: Welcome back. It is time for a brand-new feature in which we honor outstanding achievements in public lame-itude over the past seven days. Joining me now is my friend Kent Jones to present “The Weekend Review.”
Kent, who are our top achievers this week?
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Oh, there are many good ones, Rachel.
First up, financial swindler of the week, who else? Bernie Madoff. Here‘s what the trustee liquidating Madoff‘s firm said today, quote, “For some substantial period, perhaps as much as 13 years, no securities were purchased in client accounts,” end quote. So clients gave Madoff billions of dollars to invest and he didn‘t buy any stock for them for 13 years? Weak.
MADDOW: The thing that‘s amazing about this is that, we all wondered as soon as we got caught, like, what arcane things did you do with money to hide this crazy scheme? He didn‘t buy - it was particularly un-arcane. Take money, don‘t give back. Pretty simple.
JONES: Next up, most unwelcome travel amenity of the week. Irish airline Ryanair will be the first European airline to launch in-flight cell phone service. Weak. Very weak.
MADDOW: But one thing that is useful about being on a plane -
MADDOW: The inability to experience other people‘s cell phone conversations.
JONES: What you said. Next, the quote of the week from Utah Republican State Senator Chris Buttars who has been removed as chair of the Judiciary Committee after telling a documentary filmmaker, quote, “Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here and everybody goes nuts. I don‘t care. They‘re mean.” Weak.
MADDOW: They are mean? Mean?
JONES: Yes, they are mean.
MADDOW: It‘s one thing - mean. Mean - gay people. That‘s the problem with gay people, mean?
JONES: They are mean.
MADDOW: The perfect thing I will say his name is Buttars. That‘s actually the single best thing about this story.
JONES: Not as sweet.
MADDOW: No. Thank you, Kent. I appreciate that.
MADDOW: I‘ve got a cocktail moment for you.
JONES: Oh, very good.
MADDOW: Thailand has invented a new natural cocktail.
JONES: Oh, perfect.
MADDOW: Yes, and it‘s not like, “Oh, this is what we‘ve started drinking a lot of in Thailand.” No, they made up a new thing they want people to drink and think of. It‘s called Siam Sunray. It has all very Thai ingredients including chili pepper and lemon grass and things which make it sound like a bad drink …
MADDOW: … but a good idea.
JONES: Oh, yes. All right. Absolutely.
MADDOW: The recipe is on the Web site. Thanks, Kent.
MADDOW: Yes. Thank you for watching tonight. We will see you here on Monday night. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now. Good night.
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Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>