The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/10/09
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: We are following some breaking news tonight out of southern Alabama. A gunman, killing at least nine people in the towns of Samson and Geneva in Alabama, before apparently turning the gun on himself. Alabama officials are saying the gunman killed four adults and a child at one home in the town of Geneva, Alabama.
He then reportedly killed two more adults at two separate residences before getting in a car, driving east along Highway 52 and shooting ultimately at police. He killed two more people along Highway 52 – one reportedly at a gas station, one reportedly at a pipe supply store.
He finally ended up at a place called Reliable Metal Products, just north of Geneva, Alabama. It‘s a workplace in which about 400 people are employed. While he was inside that workplace, he reportedly shot at police before killing himself. He did not reportedly shoot at other employees of that business.
Witnesses say the victims include a sheriff‘s deputy‘s wife and child.
The suspect has been described as a white male in his 30s.
We are going to be following this story throughout the hour. We promise we will bring you any updates when we receive them. But thus far, it is just very, very, very tragic news out of southern Alabama.
All right. After months of quite very bad days for the entire American economy, today was noticeably not as economically hopeless. By now, we know what it means and how it feels when the red arrow points down in the corner of the TV screen all day. Generally speaking, for the last few months, that has meant that the stock market is open for business.
But what does it mean when the arrow is going the other way? It‘s up, and it‘s green? Well, today, the Dow Jones Industrials, the sometimes economically-misleading but always emotionally-leading indicator of our economy, it shot right up 379 points. Good, right?
Well, that big jump, almost 6 percent, is understood to be the result of a pep talky memo from Citigroup‘s chief executive to the firm‘s employees. The memo said the thrice-bailed out formerly-impressive-now-withered banking giant is having its best profit outlook for any quarter since 2007.
Upon that news landing, Citigroup‘s stock jumped 38 percent – 38 percent jump. It‘s now worth a buck 45 – which has an absolute value for a stock price is really not all that impressive. Wasn‘t it up over like 50 bucks not that long ago?
In any case, yay, for the stock market today. That green arrow sure beats the now-relentless alternative of seeing red and feeling financially blue all day.
And then there was also the less easily illustrated but also good news about the economic recovery today. Now, this stuff is worth understanding because it‘s really the heart and soul of whether or not we are going to fix this in a way that ensures that it does not happen again.
First, Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that the rule to slow down the pace of short-selling, which is known as the SEC‘s uptick rule, that will be restored in about a month. Short-selling is essentially betting on a stock to fall. And if that is unregulated, it can make stocks fall really, really, really fast. So, the uptick rule, in theory, puts sort of a cooling rod in place to prevent meltdowns.
That feeling that you‘re having right now is you‘re remembering what regulation is for. Regulation is to keep things in the financial world from going nuts and eating our children‘s futures. Yes, regulation.
And Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke today said that the nation‘s financial regulatory system is in need of a major overhaul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I do think that this crisis has revealed some rather shocking gaps in our regulatory oversight. I mean, who was—who was overseeing subprime lenders, for example? Who was overseeing AIG? There simply wasn‘t enough adequate oversight in those cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not enough adequate oversight. Why does that matter that Ben Bernanke said that? Well, it‘s an important signal that there isn‘t going to be a big fight among all of the various economic titans in Washington when it comes to reinstating the rules, the regulations, the oversight, that used to prevent things like we‘re going through now from happening.
And further to the maybe-we-are-learning-some-lessons-here news of the day, senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York proposed a new consumer watchdoggy agency. You know that Consumer Product Safety Commission? That‘s the safety commission that says, hey, you know, you can‘t actually have long darts anymore. You can‘t paint your toys with lead paint. You can‘t sell vacuum cleaners that double as flame-throwers.
They have proposed now a “Financial Product Safety Commission” as well. The Financial Product Safety Commission would say, hey, you can‘t sell a mortgage that doubles as a financial flame-thrower. Hey, you can‘t sell a credit card that inevitably puts its user in debtor‘s prison.
It maybe dumb to get all excited about one good day in the stock market, but maybe it‘s smart to get excited about fixing the financial system so it gets less inherently dangerous to us, the American people.
Joining us now is Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which is responsible for overseeing the execution of the $700 billion in TARP funds. She‘s also a law professor at Harvard.
Professor Warren, thank you for coming back on the show.
ELIZABETH WARREN, THE CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT PANEL CHAIR: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: Is there any chance at all that Citigroup‘s reported profitability and this bounce in the stock market today is the symptom that something is working, that maybe the TARP program is working?
WARREN: You know, there‘s a lot of—there‘s a lot of volatility.
Things go up, things go down. We‘ve been watching this for a long time.
I have to tell you, was there a time when we thought we‘d be celebrating that the stock market almost made it to 7,000 today?
WARREN: Look, I don‘t want to be a wet blanket at this party. I was glad to see green arrows today. But, I think we‘ve just have to wait and see a little.
MADDOW: What do you think will be the first signs that the TARP program that you‘re overseeing—what do you think will be the first signs that it‘s working?
WARREN: Well, one of the first signs may come from Citibank, but from a very different place, and that is when these credit companies decide that they‘re not going to keep jerking up interest rates or trying to cancel out lines of credit on the people who have paid their bills on time and completely abided by the rules. You know, when they decide that maybe those people will have other options and could actually leave them. When small businesses can get credit and keep their businesses up and running.
But, you know, I want to put it this way, because I think it‘s important. It‘s not about the $700 billion and while we watch it go through. It‘s whether or not treasury uses the $700 billion to beat some sense back into the banks and back into the financial system overall.
There‘s real question out here: Are we just taking the money and shoveling into a hole? Or are we really using that money to say, banks, you got to get honest in your books, we‘ve really got to hit bottom on where this—where your financial position is, decide who‘s going to be saved, who‘s not, work this through; and really have a strategy and a plan going forward.
This is—this is $700 billion to spend, and we‘ve really got to decide how to spend it wisely. And that‘s got to be clearly articulated by our Treasury Department.
MADDOW: It does also seem like because we‘re doing this huge government program, we have a huge amount of both leverage and responsibility as the public, as our government representing the public, to get this done right. And that‘s why I was struck by something that Sheila Bair, the head of the FDIC, told “60 Minutes” on Sunday. She said, Congress should consider if it is time to stop banks from becoming too big to fail—essentially, preventing banks from exceeding the threshold so that their failure would propose a systemic risk to the economy, controlling the size of banks.
Do you think that makes sense?
WARREN: I think it not only makes sense, it‘s absolutely essential. You know, this is—you just talked about it—these are the two ends of the continuum. If the top end we‘re saying, if it‘s too big to fail, then break it apart so you can let it fail.
We got—we cannot be in a position where the American taxpayer is essentially the implicit insurer for anyone who gets big and complicated and can‘t be regulated. That just can‘t be how we run our economy. If we do, then the taxpayer is hostage to every large institution in America.
But the other end of the financial re-regulation is also critical. I was delighted to hear that you were talking about Senator Durbin and Senator Schumer and Senator Kennedy‘s amendment introduced today so that we see the front end of this process. We got to have—we‘ve got to have some kind of control over the kind of financial products that get introduced into this system because they‘re creating their own economic instability all the way up the line.
This is about—the decisions we‘re going to make over really the next six months or so are going to be the decisions about how the shape of our financial future will go really for the next 50 years. I mean, this is it. All of the marbles are on the table. It‘s not just about the bailout right now; it‘s really about how we decide we‘re going to shape our country, our economy, our whole future.
MADDOW: That‘s—I think politically, we haven‘t yet grasped—at least the political class hasn‘t yet grasped that the next big fight—yes, maybe there‘s going to be a big fight over EFCA and maybe there‘s going to be a big fight over health care, but it‘s a complete re-regulation of the financial system, a complete restructuring of the financial system like we haven‘t seen since the ‘30s.
I have one last question for you on the bailout. I‘ve had a bur in my saddle over AIG.
MADDOW: $160 bailout dollars thus far. We don‘t necessarily know where it‘s going. And there‘s two issues. They do seem to be passing the money they‘re getting through to other financial institutions that they had dealings with. And we‘ve—we‘re also hearing that they got like four PR firms on the payroll now whose job it is to spin us on how we feel about them.
Do those uses of the bailout money seem strange to you or does that seem predictable?
WARREN: You know, it doesn‘t seem strange to me in the fact that it doesn‘t seem strange to me tells you something really awful about what it‘s been like to be in Washington for the last few months. These financial institutions have figured out that they are bleeding red ink, and their best solution is to persuade the Treasury Department to give them lots of money, and when the Treasury Department starts to say, you know, there may be some problems here, the American people don‘t want to go along with this – then let‘s see if we can spin the American people on it.
The Treasury Department has not asked for the critical information about where this money has gone from AIG. You know, we‘ve poured the money into AIG and it is somehow poured out the other end. The Treasury Department has not asked and has not revealed what it is that‘s happening with that money.
And so long as that‘s the case, maybe some of the money is going to other financial institutions, maybe some of the money is going to pay off these credit default swaps that are essential for saving other institutions that have counted on it for credit insurance, and maybe where this money is going is just off to speculators who just play the game of speculation and would now like to collect 100 cents on the dollar for their speculations, and collect it indirectly from the American taxpayer.
MADDOW: Well, I will allow that to constitute the invitation to both Secretary Geithner of the treasury and to any senior executives from AIG to come on this show, and answer those charges because I think they need to be answered.
Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, professor at Harvard Law School—thank you so much for your time.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Coming up: Today is Osama bin Laden‘s birthday. For give me if I don‘t sing. Later, former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, will join us to talk about why that man is still alive and still at large.
But, first, One More Thing about the very unfortunate confluence of bad financial oversight and bad people, Bernie Madoff now says he‘s going to plead guilty. The former NASDAQ chairman who‘s Ponzi scheme lasted 25 years and reportedly brought in around $170 billion unexpectedly announced today during a routine hearing that he will not be seeking a plea deal. Instead, he will plead guilty on all 11 counts against him, including money laundering and perjury and wire fraud. He could be looking at 150 years in jail.
Do you want to know what the very real downside of this is for the thousands of people who are trying to get their defrauded savings back from Old Bernie? Here‘s the real downside: A guilty plea means Bernie Madoff has no obligation to tell investigators or his investors where all the money went.
MADDOW: In our ongoing coverage of Republican Party‘s search for meaning in the minority, one of the things that officials and staffers in the now almost-powerless GOP keep doing is that they keep getting busted and going to prison in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Remember Jack Abramoff? He‘s the Republican uber lobbyist who is now in the federal pen, but the investigations into who he bribed and how and when keep unspooling.
The latest Republican to plead guilty to Abramoff-related charges is a woman named Ann Copland. She worked for Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran for almost 30 years before quitting abruptly last year. Her crime:
Accepting over $25,000 worth of favors, including concert tickets and hockey tickets from Jack Abramoff and two of his colleagues. In exchange, team Abramoff sought favorable treatment from Cochran‘s office for one of Abramoff‘s clients.
Ms. Copland was sort of a discriminating bribee. E-mails revealed that she once complained to Abramoff‘s office that there was, quote, “only beer and no Hebrew National hot dogs” in her ill-gotten luxury box at a baseball game. She even once asked for tickets to the circus but only if they were floor seats. Listen, I may be taking bribes here, but only the best, high-quality, discriminating bribes.
MADDOW: Today, Republicans in Congress believe they saw the enemy of the Republican, and they intend to defeat it. I will not rest until this bill is dead! The most radical piece of legislation before Congress!
This enemy, the source of this all this from my “cold, dead hands” stuff from Republicans today in Congress apparently is the Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA, whose purpose is to make it easier for Americans to join unions. Democrats introduced the bill today and they have long supported the concept of the bill, because right now in America, it‘s sort of hard to join a union.
Try being the one in your office to say, hey, I think we should unionize. Let‘s go talk to the boss.
Generally speaking, what happens if you manage to get that far is that a secret ballot election will be scheduled, following weeks and weeks and weeks of employer education aimed at informing you about the evils and the risks of unions. That is the secret ballot. It‘s sort of a secret, creaky, dangerous, wobbly little bridge to unionization.
And the central talking point of EFCA‘s opponents is that EFCA would offer another bridge to forming a union. Egads!
Along with the option of the secret ballot, employees could instead choose the option of signing consent cards. Employees get to pick which one they want to do. That would avoid the need for the scheduled election if they decided to go with the card thing.
All of the employee intimidation that often goes along with the election—they could pick the card thing instead. That‘s the bill. Either cards or the secret ballot election, workers get to decide. No disillusion of the American capitalist system, no threat to mom or apple pie, no commie five-year plans or attacks (ph) on its leaders in glass coffins, right? Just another route for employees to organize and form a union if they want to.
That fact seems to have escaped congressional Republicans whose opposition of the bill seems to be built on making stuff up about it in order to defeat it. Here an example of the day in fact-free anti-union hysteria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, ® TENNESSEE: In my view, this legislation we are considering today is the most radical piece of legislation before the Congress. It‘s called the Employee Free Choice Act, but it ought to be called the “Employee No Choice Act,” because it takes away the secret ballot.
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON, ® GEORGIA: I simply cannot support even a watered-down version of this attempt to deprive American workers of a right to cast their ballot in secret.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s the thing, have you ever thought there might be a reason why some employees would want another choice besides the secret ballot election to which they have a right, right now? As much as Republican senators want you to believe the secret ballot is the greatest thing since Ronald Reagan, it turns out it‘s actually not that great. It has created a huge union-busting industry in this country—an industry finally tuned, highly-skilled, well-funded and well-resource to make sure that a workplace facing a secret ballot election about whether or not to choose a union will hopefully never end up with a union. And this union-busting expertise has caused a steep drop, a plummet, if you will, in American union membership.
And now, yes, evolving trade policies have hit highly unionized industries hard in the last generation or so, but so is union-busting. Remember that scenario where you‘re the one in your office who wants to join a union—as is often the case, art or in this case comedy, has a good way of imitating life.
This is a scene from “The Office” after a few employees get the radical idea of unionizing, they get paid a little visit by their corporate representative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE OFFICE”/NBC)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is even a whiff of unionizing in this branch, I can guarantee you that the branch will be shut down like that. They unionized in Pittsfield, and we all know what happened in Pittsfield. It will cost each of you a fortune in legal fees and union dues, and that will be nothing compared to the cost of losing your job. So, I would think long and hard before sacrificing your savings and your futures just to send a message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But at least we still got the secret ballot! (LAUGHTER). Is it just a figment of Hollywood‘s imagination? I‘m afraid not. Here‘s some further tape I‘d like you to see. This is—this is a former union buster who quit the industry and then wrote an expose describing how union busting works.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, UNION ONE TV)
MARTIN LEVITT, FORMER UNION BUSTER: There isn‘t a practicing union buster that can be successful if he doesn‘t break the law routinely. The first words out of his mouth to management is that your employees have declared war against you. They are there with one goal and one goal only, and that is to do whatever it takes, however horrific, however illegal, to destroy the collective spirit, to ensure that the employer remains union-free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: However horrific, however illegal—the union-busting industry. You know, that‘s the industry that would be hurt the most if EFCA passes and if it becomes easier to join a union in this country. And maybe the death of the union-busting industry—maybe that would be a great blessing for America‘s workers here.
MADDOW: Coming up on the show: We‘ve got news you can use if you‘re ever in dire need of a hot buttered rum in Provo, Utah. The most arcane liquor laws in the country are changing in at least one instance. They are getting even more weird and more arcane than they are already. The former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, will be joining us. That‘s coming up.
But, first, it‘s time for a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.
When Barack Obama was running for president, his wife Michelle indicated that military families would be one of her marquee issues, her causes if she were to become first lady. In fact, when announcing his troop withdrawal plan for Iraq last month, President Obama referenced his wife‘s dedication to the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: My wife Michelle has learned firsthand about the unique burden that your families endure every day. I want you to know this: military families are a top priority for Michelle and me, and they will be a top priority for my administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And now we know what—at least some of what that means. The first lady has since spoken at the Women‘s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and she‘s now announced that her first solo trip outside Washington as first lady will be on Thursday to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where she plans to meet with military spouses.
Barack Obama may have never served in the military, but, you know, you start doing things like funding the V.A. to the tune of $1.2 billion more than what the veterans‘ groups asked for, and to seal the deal, you send Michelle to Fort Bragg—Michelle, who is more popular than warmth on a cold day—the military may end up in serious danger of liking its commander-in-chief here. Hello there, at ease.
Onto North Korea now. Elections in North Korea are admittedly about as suspenseful as an episode of “Gilligan‘s Island.” Gilligan will always foil the skipper‘s plan for getting off the island. And Kim Jong-il will always win a larger percent of the vote than Ron Paul did at the Ron Paul convention last year.
So even though you know how this ends, let me be the one to officially inform you that Kim Jong-il did just fine in the elections in North Korea this weekend. Mr. Kim and his party pick a single candidate to run in each constituency. There‘s just one person on the ballot.
This year, the Korean Central News Agency reports that voter turnout was 99.98 percent. And those 99.98 percent of Koreans, who allegedly turned out to vote, they voted 100 percent for the only candidate they were allowed to vote for.
As for Kim Jong-il himself, you will be both amazed and bored to learn, not only did Kim Jong-il get 100 percent of the vote in his specific constituency, but 100 percent of his constituency – 100 percent—every man, woman and miserable child, turned out to vote for him. He is just that beloved.
And, finally, a follow-up to a story we did yesterday about this time. The Chinese sailors who were in their underpants story, do you remember this? Quick recap: The USNS Impeccable, an American ocean surveillance ship, was in the South China Sea, conducting what the U.S. says was some kind of routine exercise, when it was surrounded by five Chinese ships.
The Chinese ships report taunted the Impeccable using very aggressive maneuvers. The American crew responded by turning their fire hoses on the Chinese sailors. The Chinese sailors responded by stripping down to their underpants, obviously. Since then, the Chinese government had a spokesman named Wang Dang Peng(ph) explain that the U.S. vessel was interfering with the activities of Chinese ships inside its economic zone of influence.
Mr. Wang said, quote, “It is our sovereignty for Chinese vessels to conduct activities in the country‘s special economic zone and such activities are justified.”
OK. What about the underpants? No comment from Mr. Wang on the stripping down to the underpants maneuver and whether that‘s sovereign or not.
The Pentagon today did say that the USNS Impeccable was indeed looking for submarines when the Chinese boats approached. But they maintain that the ship was in international waters and had the right to do so.
And, again, still no official comment on the stripping down to the underpants tactic and whether or not that was part of the reason the crew of the Impeccable felt that the Chinese actions were so provocative. An anxious nation awaits guidance.
MADDOW: Today is Osama Bin
Laden‘s birthday. We wish him no happy returns. Here‘s what we know about Osama Bin Laden, or at least what we think we know. He supposedly is 6‘4”, left-handed. He may have undergone kidney dialysis. Based on his public statements and known actions, he is likely to be convulsed with hate at any given moment.
He lives in a crummy little one-bedroom cave, probably in Pakistan. A recent geographer guest on this show hypothesized Bin Laden probably has trees in his yard to protect him from spy satellites overhead.
It also seems clear that 52 years of age does not look great on Bin Laden. I mean, look at the picture of him here, and tell me it‘s even conceivable that he is the same age as Vanna White. How is that even possible? He is the same age as Bjorn Borg. Is he the same age as Dwight Yoakam. He is the same age from little David Sedaris from NPR.
He is the same age from Mickey Rourke and I mean - well, aside from Mickey Rourke, who actually just complicates things here, apparently, I think what this means is that mass murder does not wear well on a man.
And so today, Osama Bin Laden is 52 going on 93. On the occasion of his birthday, we got news today from some self-proclaimed plotters of the 9/11 attacks, in a document filed with the military commission at Guantanamo, five prisoners who are representing themselves, or at least trying to, declared themselves the 9/11 Shura council and said, quote, “With regards to these accusations that you are putting us on trial for; to us, they are not accusations. To us, they are badges of honor. Killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you are our offerings to God.”
Let the ornate self-regard evident there be a reminder that these guys have confessed of everything short of the Watergate burglary and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in their relentless quest for international martyrdom.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world, our troops are still in the country that sheltered al-Qaeda while they really did plan the 9/11 attacks, fighting various incarnations of extremists in Afghanistan.
Actually, the cool kids these days are not talking about Afghanistan. They are talking about Af-Pak. You say Af-Pak to recognize that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is more of an idea than a real boundary. And also to recognize that someday, finally catching Mr. Birthday Bin Laden and eliminating the international terrorism threat posed by extremism in that part of the world, can‘t really have a one-country solution.
But does that necessarily mean that this war effort has to get bigger in order for it to be successful?
Joining us now is the Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. He‘s a former national security adviser under President Carter. Dr. Brzezinski, thank you so much for coming back on the show.
DR. ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It‘s good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Within the last week, the top commander in Afghanistan and the president himself and vice president today - they‘ve all said that we‘re not winning the war in Afghanistan.
Last time - you were on the show a few weeks ago. You said we have wasted seven years in pursuing ill-defined policies that don‘t seek any realistic objective. Do you feel like anything is changing? Is anything better or worse?
BRZEZINSKI: I think the president understands that this is a terribly complex problem which cannot be reduced to simple formulas, or for that matter, shouldn‘t be the object of ridicule.
You know, your introduction of Osama was very funny. But this is a very serious challenge to us. He is a symbol to many millions in the world, unfortunately. And we have to take him very seriously. This is a serious threat. This is someone who is out to really do us harm. And unfortunately, he has support among some people.
Our task in Afghanistan is a very complex one because we have to deal, first of all, with an Afghan government that is authentic, and we shouldn‘t treat it like a vessel. And we tend to talk sometimes of it as if it was a vessel. Afghans have a tremendous sense of independence.
Secondly, we want the Europeans to be in with us. They want to share in the strategy, and not just in the burdens.
Thirdly, we have to have some sort of understanding with Pakistan. Because you‘re quite right, this problem now pertains, not just to Afghanistan, but to Pakistan. And the Pakistanis want to have some sense of assurance that if we succeed in Afghanistan, Afghanistan is also then their source of security geopolitically. And they have specific demands, without which, if we don‘t satisfy them, they‘re not going to be wholehearted in their efforts.
So the president has a bundle of choices on his hands, and he‘s got to tread politically and militarily, not get engaged only in a military solution. He has to find ways of splitting up the Taliban, of isolating the extremists and of sucking in this somewhat less extremist elements.
MADDOW: Dr. Brzezinski, I will say that in terms of Osama Bin Laden and making fun of him, I feel like the best weapon I have against Osama Bin Laden is trying to make him feel bad by making fun of him in case he ever comes across the way I talk about him. So it‘s with deliberate intent to harm.
BRZEZINSKI: I‘m afraid he‘s not watching you.
MADDOW: I‘m guessing that he isn‘t, but if he, for some reason, by chance, tunes in and sees me comparing him to Vanna White, I hope that ruins his night. But I will say, on the issue of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, do you see al-Qaeda and the strategy against al-Qaeda as separate from the strategy against the Taliban? Or do you think they are still strategically intertwined?
BRZEZINSKI: I‘m not sure they ever were strategically intertwined. It is true Taliban gave al-Qaeda refuge and a shelter. But the Taliban had specific problems, and it is a specific Afghan manifestation sponsored to some extent - and that‘s very important to emphasize - from Pakistan.
So we have to be able to work with the Afghans in Afghanistan to try to create some Afghan formula for stability, which is not quite a modern democratic state but may be a partially democratic state in the major cities, a somewhat more traditional state in the countryside, which is much more traditional.
And we have to work with the Pakistanis so give them assurance that Afghanistan doesn‘t become to some degree an ally, a friend of India because their geopolitical preoccupation is with India.
So we have to be sensitive to their geopolitical concerns. And that means avoiding a conflict in Pakistan, not going into Pakistan with our forces, not killing more Pakistanis, which then drives many Pakistanis towards the Taliban.
These are the kind of terribly complex issues that have to be very carefully manipulated by our president and by our people in the field.
MADDOW: Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser under President Carter, famous here at MSNBC for being Mika‘s dad. Thank you so much for joining us tonight, sir.
BRZEZINSKI: It‘s always nice to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you. Coming up next, two words you do not often hear together - liquor and Utah. Our next story is not exactly the end of prohibition, but it‘s not exactly not either. The former mayor of Salt Lake City will give us the details.
MADDOW: We‘ve got some more details on the multiple fatalities shooting in southern Alabama this evening. A gunman described as a white man in his 30s killed 10 people, including himself, in the towns of Samson and Geneva, Alabama.
The mayor of Geneva tells MSNBC tonight that law enforcement told him the gunman first killed his own mother, and then he went on a shooting spree. He killed a 3-month-old child and eight other adults.
Witnesses say the fatalities include the wife of a sheriff‘s deputy and the sheriff deputy‘s child. Alabama state police confirming tonight that five people, including a child, were killed at one residence. Two others were killed at two other residences, and two more people were killed along local highways.
Now, the gunman also wounded two police officers before reportedly killing himself at a Reliable Metal Products store.
And we have new details from a state representative who has just told us that the gunman had apparently worked at that store. That is a new detail we did not have before. Police say they have identified the shooter in this incident but they are not yet releasing his name.
We will keep following this breaking news throughout the night.
Keep it right here on MSNBC.
MADDOW: The state that has been consistently producing the most surprising headlines this year so far is definitely Utah. First, there was this one, when the Republican governor of perhaps the most Republican state in the country came out in favor of gay civil unions.
The lead sentence in the “Salt Lake Tribune” that day was actually, “Here‘s a sentence you probably never expected to read. Utah‘s governor supports civil unions.”
That was about a month ago, at the beginning of February. And then just a couple of weeks later, surprising headline number two, “Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, a, still alive, b, playing a show together, and c, playing a show together in Utah in 2009.” I know. Apparently, it was a huge success.
And Utah just keeps on keeping on with the surprises. Front page of “The Salt Lake Tribune” today, “Governor and legislature strike historic booze deal.” Booze deal? Oh, yes, the weirdest liquor laws in the country are being changed. And in at least one instance, it is possible they are getting even weirder.
Now, Utah is a little more than 60 percent Mormon. The state legislature is more than 80 percent Mormon, and as you may know, the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, ixnays on the ooze-bay(ph), no alcohol whatsoever.
And in a state where the walls of separation between church and state is sometimes a little crumbly, that has resulted in very strange state laws about liquor.
For example, in Utah, there are no such things as bars that are open to the public. If you wish to be served drinks, you must fill out a membership form, pay a fee and join a private club.
Until a couple of years ago, you could also not be served more than one ounce of liquor at one time. And for some reason I never quite understood, for a while you were liable to be served your liquor in tiny little nip-size bottles. Not on the airplane, like at the place you - I know.
They got rid of the mini-bottle rule a couple of years ago. But now, with these new changes, you will not have to join a club anymore either. Progress.
Here‘s the part I still don‘t understand. It used to be under the old rules that after you ordered your drink at a restaurant, the bartender would not be allowed to just serve it to you across the bar like a normal bartender. The bartender, in fact, had to either walk around a partition and hand it to you or hand it to a server to walk around the partition to you.
Why the partition? I don‘t know. But under the new rules, the partition will be gone. But the new rules that are agreed to by the legislature now, they say that you don‘t have to have the partition anymore. But they do have a kooky new rule to replace it.
Check this out - new restaurants under the new rules have to have a separate, special area for the mixing of drinks. A separate, out-of-sight mixing area that is out of the potential view of children. In other words, you need a closed-off drink mixing room because booze is just that powerful? I don‘t get it.
Here now Rocky Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, and the founder and executive director of the High Road for Human Rights organization. Mayor Anderson, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
ROCKY ANDERSON, FORMER MAYOR OF SALT LAKE CITY: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Please tell me that I explained some of that wrong (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ANDERSON: You did really well, actually.
MADDOW: Was that accurate?
ANDERSON: It was. And I practiced law for 21 years and was mayor for eight years. I have had a really hard time figuring out these laws because there were so many categories of places where you could get a drink or where you couldn‘t get a drink.
But we‘ve actually had, for a long time - you walk into a restaurant. You can order a drink like anywhere else in the free world. But these clubs were a particular embarrassment.
You can imagine being mayor and you bring people in from out of town especially during the Olympics and they have to fill out a card to get a membership in order to get a drink. And these are changes that I‘ve been advocating for a long time and thank goodness we‘ve got a very reasonable and world-traveled governor, John Huntsman, who had enough sense to work with everybody and bring about these major changes.
And we‘ve had an evolutionary process for many years. We went
from Brownback(ph) laws to the many Bibles that you‘ve talked about. And
now, it‘s pretty much like anywhere else, especially getting rid of the
private clubs -
MADDOW: I‘m sorry. I was just going to say, I could imagine it did sort of encourage a certain entrepreneurial spirit of people getting around the old rules. I would imagine you had to be sort of creative, especially if you were a bartender.
ANDERSON: Of course. And you know, somebody would walk in a club and anybody in the world would sponsor them. So the liquor commission cracked down on that and said you had to walk in with whoever is sponsoring you.
I think there are a lot of people that are afraid that now, Utah has been launched into the 20th century in terms of the liquor laws. But everybody else is pretty happy with these changes.
And I think it‘s going to be great for tourism. I think it‘s going to be wonderful for the people who live here, who have had to try to get around all of these obstacles. And their obstacles have been put in place primarily by people who never seem to go out, Rachel. So this is a good thing all the way around.
MADDOW: They certainly don‘t go out for a drink, definitely. I do have to ask you about the idea of the drink mixing room. A columnist named Sean Means at the “Salt Lake City Tribune” today said, why stop there? He said, “Why not install a cauldron, have the bartender wear a pointy hat with stars and moons on it and paint the words “Potions: No admittance on the door.”
It does involve a sort of fear of the sight of alcohol. Does it strike you as strange?
ANDERSON: That‘s very strange. And there are just a couple of people in the legislature that have a lot of sway with the rest of the legislators or many of the other legislators.
And this is something they insisted upon. And I think it‘s this idea that any progress you make, you‘ve got to have a little regress along with it. And I think that in this evolutionary process, we‘ll see the silly prohibitions eliminated.
But we‘re going to have a situation where the existing restaurants can get rid of the glass partition and the bartender can simply hand the drink over the bar. And any new restaurants are going to have to hide away the mixing of drinks.
Behind this is the ridiculous notion that children who are exposed to anybody mixing a drink may be somehow negatively influenced by it.
MADDOW: Mesmerized by the shaking sound or something?
ANDERSON: Yes. But you know, we‘ve got another very strange law. They did increase the one ounce to one and a half ounce pour. But it‘s still - you know, I order a scotch on the rocks and the scotch doesn‘t come up over the ice cube.
And then you have to order - you can order a second drink, you call it a side car. They bring you another ounce and a half drink in another glass but you have to pick up the glass and pour it in your other glass so you can have a real drink. But we‘re going to see those kinds of things change too. I think there‘s no question about it.
MADDOW: Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, thank you for explaining this to us tonight. And thanks for joining us.
ANDERSON: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: It‘s really nice to see you. Thanks.
ANDERSON: Thanks for understanding.
MADDOW: I‘m trying. I‘m not there yet but I‘m trying. All right. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Richard Gere, all meeting with President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Hollywood on the Hill? Huh?
Next on this show, I‘m going to get just enough pop culture from my friend Kent Jones.
MADDOW: Kent, what have you got?
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Good Evening, Rachel. So astronaut Mike Fincke and cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov - best name for a spaceman ever - took a little space walk outside the International Space Station. Mike and Yuri had to fix some stuff in preparation for tomorrow night when the space shuttle “Discovery” will carry up there a new urine processor to the space station‘s water recycling system to replace old, broken urine processor. So they want everything to look nice for that.
MADDOW: Oh, urine processor.
JONES: Yes, and that so nice. Next, have you heard about the UFL? The United Football League is a new pro-league due to launch this fall, just four teams, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, and San Francisco with its Super Bowl set in Thanksgiving in Vegas, baby.
Ticket prices are reportedly about $20 per game for adults. There‘s even a rumor that one of the UFL teams might even pick up convicted QB Michael Vick.
MADDOW: No, way.
JONES: So, it‘s the recession league. It‘s for fans who say, “I like the ritualized violence, but I‘m on a budget.”
MADDOW: Not much suspense when the Super Bowls are only four teams.
JONES: Not a big bracket system there.
JONES: Finally, in the English City of Cleveland - yes, they‘ve got one, too. They are using cardboard cutouts of police officers as a way of deterring crime. Officials say they would put off would-be criminals just by reminding them that they are being watched.
Never underestimate guilt and shame. That‘s how England conquered the world.
MADDOW: Wow. It‘s a flat bobby.
JONES: Cardboard bobby.
MADDOW: That‘s very nice.
JONES: Don‘t do bad things.
MADDOW: Kent, I have a cocktail moment for you that is self-explanatory. Do you want to see it? Check this out.
(VIDEO FOOTAGE OF A BASKETBALL GAME)
Yes he did - 90 feet, nothing but net.
JONES: Go crazy, folks.
MADDOW: Dayton, Ohio, Dayton Christian High School senior Casey Weber from 90 feet at the buzzer. It does not get any better than that. Uncomplicated joy.
Thank you. Thank you for watching tonight. We will see you here tomorrow night. “COUNTDOWN” with Mr. Keith Olbermann starts right now. Have a great evening.
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