The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/17/10
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST (voice-over): It‘s Friday night, but the workweek is not over yet on Capitol Hill. Harry Reid‘s diabolical plan to make Republicans work before Christmas. Somebody‘s got to pass the bill to keep the lights on and the government‘s only funded right now through Tuesday.
Also, “don‘t ask, don‘t tell”—could repeal finally happen this weekend?
Unanimous consent—unanimous consent, all members of the Senate actually agree on something. So, why then did it take nearly 10 months for them to say they agreed on the thing they all agreed to? Ten months?
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GOV. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA: I‘m Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana.
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MADDOW: The case study of Bobby Jindal‘s $220 million boondoggle.
How Governor Jindal made the Gulf oil crisis worked for him.
A drone, not a drudge, not a honeybee, but an awesomely cool unmanned aerial vehicle, I believe that cannot confirm that THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is the first cable news show to have its own drone—which I will inexpertly fly ahead this hour. There is a new story related to it, but it‘s only slightly related to it.
All that and more starting right now on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.
MADDOW: Hey, happy Friday. Thank you for being with us tonight.
Are you familiar with the concept of a FRAP, not a frappe like a whipped iced beverage. But a FRAP, F-R-A-P. It‘s an acronym.
I didn‘t grow up with pets. I didn‘t have dogs when I was growing up, for example. But my partner Susan and I have a dog now. He‘s adorable.
When we first got our dog, when he was a puppy, he would act really strangely sometimes. Or I mean, at least he would act in a way that would make me feel very strange, something that sort of weird me out that seemed quite atypical for me, but admittedly I didn‘t know.
Susan had dogs when she was growing up. She knows a lot about dogs. She was not at all surprised by what I saw as our puppy‘s wacky behavior when it happened. She told me it was no big deal. But it was strange.
What he would do is—that‘s him in his Halloween costume when he was a puppy—what he would do is essentially he would just sort of tweak out, everything would be fine, there would be no strange external stimuli, no noises, no putting a hat on him like in this picture. No other people in hats. No oil smells. None of the—none of the things they say can scare puppies. Nothing like that. Everything would be otherwise normal.
But then he would just tweak. He would get super-hyper. He‘d roll over on his back, then he would flip over and he would flip over again. He‘d make crazy yipping noises. He would run in a circle over and over and over again, run randomly back and forth.
He would just sort of get his tweak on. He would freak out for a little while inexplicably and then he‘d be fine. It didn‘t last all that long. He never seemed upset by it. He was very happy. I think it was a positive thing.
It would last maybe a minute or so, and then he‘d be sort of out of breath and wide-eyed afterwards, but happy. This was an enjoyable thing for him.
Apparently, this is what‘s known as a FRAP. It is a frenetic random activity period. It has a name. It is a thing that dogs do, frenetic random activity period. It‘s a thing that dogs do, and it‘s apparently a thing that senators do as well.
To me at least, the FRAP, the frenetic random activity period, is the most cogent explanation I can come up with for what‘s happening right now in the United States Senate. Things are happening really fast and furious right now in Washington. And we know why that‘s true for one side of Washington.
The Democrats have this big long agenda they want to get passed. They‘ve been trying to pass the tax cuts deal and the spending bill for the government, and a repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” and the nukes treaty with Russia, and the DREAM Act, the immigration bill, and the 9/11 first responders bill and judicial confirmations and the international trade bill, and the new improvements to the G.I. bill. There‘s all this stuff that Democrats want to get done right now, all this stuff that‘s on their list that they want to move through. And that‘s why they are moving as fast as possibly can in the Senate.
Republicans are also moving as fast as they possibly can right now on the Senate. You can‘t go five minutes without some new indignant Republican Senate floor speech about something, for some new indignant Senate Republican press conference.
The Senate is going as fast and as furious as it can go right now.
And among the Republicans, it is frenetic, it is activity, and—I swear—it is totally random. Here‘s the case in point. Here‘s what I need—here‘s what I mean about this. The nukes treaty with Russia, right? This has been on the docket for eight months now.
There‘s been 1,000 Senate questions asked and answered about this. There have been 20 hearings about it—probably half the Senate can read this treaty to you in their sleep. There is nothing at all out of left field about this.
Randomly, though, in the lame duck period, Republicans decided that they wanted amendments, that nothing could happen on this until they had no time for their very important amendments. They wanted to add amendments to the treaty. Kind of weird for a treaty, right? But, OK, Democratic Senator John Kerry, who appeared on this show two nights ago, said essentially that even though that was kind of weird, if that‘s what Republicans needed in order to finally bring this thing to a vote, then, sure, you want to debate amendments? We can debate amendments.
Senator Kerry then went to the Senate floor and said, essentially, OK, I don‘t really know why you need more time on this, but you say you want this time for amendments, you‘re outraged that we would have a vote on this without you having time for your amendments, all right, I got the floor time right now. Here‘s your time for amendments.
Republicans, it turned out, did not have any amendments. Nothing ready to go. Nothing written out, nothing to offer, nothing planned.
Ultimately, today, a day later, John McCain finally figured out an amendment that he might want to try. Republicans insisted this could not be voted on. They could not vote on this treaty until they had time to offer their many and very important amendments. So when they got the chance, kerplunk, one, and it took them a day to come up with it.
Why did we have to have all that screaming and drama for one amendment the Democrats were happy to let be debated? Who knows? It‘s frenetic random activity period.
On judges, last night, the United States Senate approved four of President Obama‘s judicial nominees. That itself is kind of a miracle.
But here‘s the random part of this frenetic action: the Senate approved these judges unanimously. OK? These judges were also approved in the judiciary committee unanimously. Nobody voted against them. Every Republican and every Democrat voted for his judges. There‘s nothing controversial about these judges whatsoever.
But between the first time they were voted unanimously and last night when they were voted on unanimously, six months passed. Six months during which time no one had any objections to them being judges, not a single vote against them, not a word against them, nothing. But six months of just “you can‘t do it.” Six months of nothing until now, last night, unanimous, let them go through—frenetic random activity period.
The great meltdown in the Senate last night was over the big regular spending bill, the bill that Congress needs to pass to keep the government going. Despite the fact that they helped write it, despite the fact that they were intimately involved in the last minute tweaks to it, despite the fact that some of them had already declared their support for it—last night, Republicans stood united against it. They did everything they could to obstruct it. They did everything they could to ultimately defeat this bill that they have been helping write for a year.
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SEN. MARK KIRK ®, ILLINOIS: As the most junior member—for those who are not understanding what just happened—did we just win?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I think there‘s very little doubt.
KIRK: Six thousand earmarks will not now move forward.
MCCAIN: Yes, and I feel badly about some of those earmarks because I had so much with them.
MADDOW: Republicans defeated their own bill. Whohoo! Full of their own earmarks, whohoo! We really stuck it to them, we voted down our own team we have been building.
I don‘t know what‘s happening but I feel great, it‘s fun. Did we win? Is it winning? Because it was sort of like losing because it was our own bill. Frenetic action, I feel out of breath.
Yes. Now, we have ended up with the kind of legislative outcomes that one might expect from a frenetic random activity period. Because Republicans defeated their own spending bill last night, the government runs out of money on Saturday, right?
Congress, today, in order to deal with that—today, Congress voted to pass a stopgap spending bill. And they decided randomly that this stopgap spending bill would fund the government for three days.
Now, nothing‘s going to be different after three days. When the funding of the government runs out again on Tuesday, we‘re going to be exactly where we are now.
But heck! Why not? Three days, whohoo! Frenetic action. We‘re having a great time.
Right now, the plan is that the Senate will be back in session over the weekend. They will be voting on two pieces of legislation that have majority support, that if they got an up-or-down vote, they would pass.
But Republicans will not let them pass without a supermajority. Now, one of the things that they‘re going to vote on this weekend, the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” repeal, that‘s expected to come up on Saturday. It reportedly has enough votes to clear even the supermajority.
But even though Republicans know it will pass if and when it comes to a vote, they are threatening all sorts of random frenetic action to just make it take longer than it might otherwise.
Republican Senator Bob Corker saying today, randomly, that he and other Republicans might vote against the nukes treaty with the Russia if “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” is brought up for a vote on Saturday. Why? Who knows? Not even his fellow Republicans seem to know.
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MCCAIN: There continues to swirl allegations that there is going to be a vote for or against because of another piece of legislation or for other reasons, for other political reasons. I reject that allegation.
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MADDOW: What‘s Bob Corker talking about? Who knows? Random frenetic action. Totally unpredictable. That‘s what‘s random about it.
It‘s also been floated that Republicans will just insist on a lot of hours of Senate time elapsing before the vote on “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” is allowed to happen. So, even though it could be voted on as early as Saturday during the day, maybe even early on Saturday, if Republicans decide to randomly insist on lots of hours of Senate time elapsing before it gets voted on, the vote could be pushed to happen as late as on Monday.
Now, will the elapsing of those hours make any difference in the vote? Probably not. But it will be exhausting. It will be fun. It will be frenetic random activity.
Voting against things you support, killing your own bills, demagoguing your own earmarks in your own bills, making threats that you cannot live up to, making promises you cannot keep, running out the clock doing nothing, while insisting that time is short and what you really need is more time—Republicans are keeping themselves very, very busy right now. They are busy with frenetic random legislative activity that—and this is the important point—that is unconnected to any policy goal.
This is what happens when you do not see yourself as having any responsibility for policy. You don‘t see yourself as having any responsibility for getting stuff done for the country. And in combination with that lack of responsibility, you have the power to stop everybody else from getting stuff done, too.
My cute little puppy is now a giant, full grown dog. He‘s enormous, you could put a saddle on him. And if he engaged in frenetic random activity periods now, somebody will definitely get hurt. He does not do that anymore. He outgrew his FRAP phase.
But this weekend, Washington, I‘m telling you, is going to be FRAP-tastic. It is totally unpredictable. A lot of the action will be random and making sense of it will be something that you can do if you lie about what happens.
If you‘re honest about what happens, you will admit that it is just activity for the sake of activity. Exactly what to expect, including when that “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” vote is going to happen and what might screw it up, that‘s next.
MADDOW: What should you watch on TV this weekend, besides Northern Illinois versus Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl? Duh! How about a whole lot of rough and tumble, high stakes, down-to-the-wire politics, including voting on “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” finally, and the DREAM Act. Christmastime in Washington coming right up.
Also, I crashed a very tiny fake spy drone today. There‘s tape of that.
And Congressman Anthony Weiner joins us.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Politics—not just for weekdays anymore. Why is the Senate going to be in session doing really important stuff this weekend? And how likely are they to actually do that really important stuff?
Joining us now to break down what we can expect is John Stanton, reporter for “Roll Call.”
Mr. Stanton, thank you very much for your time late on Friday.
Really appreciate it.
JOHN STANTON, ROLL CALL: No problem.
MADDOW: The Senate was initially going to adjourn for a year today. What do you expect that they are going to try to do this weekend? And what do you think they‘re actually going to try to get done?
STANTON: They‘re going to try to do a couple of things. The first
thing that they‘ll do tomorrow morning about 10: 30 is vote on the DREAM
Act legislation, which is immigration legislation to help children that
have brought here by their parents illegally, gone up in the United States
if they go to college or serve in the military, to give them a pathway to citizenship.
That bill has got a lot of support amongst Democrats. There are some Republicans who also support it. But because of election politics, frankly, it seems it won‘t have enough votes because of some conservative Democrats voting “no” and Republicans staying fairly united against it.
The next thing, about 11:00 tomorrow, they‘re supposed to vote on the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” repeal. And that sort of a concerted effort to use START as a reason not to vote for it should pass.
MADDOW: Are there delaying tactics available to Republicans to push that “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” vote past tomorrow morning maybe even further?
STANTON: Yes. In fact, what will likely happen is that it‘s a cloture vote they‘re going to take tomorrow, which is a procedural vote to sort of end debate. And then it being the Senate, they then have 30 hours to debate after they finish deciding they‘re not going to debate anymore. And then that will take them sometime into Sunday.
And then they‘ll have an hour after that period is over. So, probably about 6:00 Sunday would be the vote, assuming Republicans don‘t—just sort of give in and let them have the final vote.
MADDOW: So, 6:00 p.m. Sunday, sort of—I mean, I know this is always hard to say with the Senate—but sort of outer edge for the latest the vote could be? Sort of?
STANTON: At this point, it looks that way.
MADDOW: OK. I know, you mentioned the nukes treaty and whether or not that‘s going to factor in today. I know they spent all day today debating that START Treaty, the nukes treaty with Russia. And at one point, Senator Bob Corker threatens that if “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” comes up for a vote on Saturday, he will kill the nukes treaty in retaliation.
Now, I know that John McCain threw some cold water on that, as did sort of Jon Kyl. What exactly happened there?
STANTON: Well, it was sort of an odd thing for him to do, frankly. I think some Republicans just don‘t want to take this vote. They don‘t want to be seen voting on anything that has to do with gay rights, and it‘s a difficult vote for some folks because they may support it, but they don‘t want to vote for it so they‘re going to have to vote against it.
He and Senator Lindsey Graham also both made the same argument, which is that they feel like Harry Reid is trying to jam things down their throat like “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” and the DREAM Act and some other things and that has poisoned the sort of atmosphere with the START Treaty.
It seems like it may be an effort to create a reason maybe to not vote for DREAM, or to try to block it. I‘m sorry, “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.” But I don‘t—it doesn‘t appear at this point that it‘s working.
MADDOW: Is—I mean, is there any—them saying we don‘t want you to poison the well, poison the atmosphere with these things, is this—I mean, they‘re not making a specific procedural objection, it‘s just “we don‘t want to vote on these things, please don‘t make us,” right?
STANTON: That‘s pretty much and that‘s as close as you‘ll get to that sort of honest answer from them frankly at this point in the game. You know, they—everything got sort of jammed up here at the end, and they‘re now trying to find ways not to vote on certain things and using START, which is the White House‘s biggest priority as a bludgeon really.
MADDOW: John, looking also at the 9/11 first responders bill. This is a bill that passed the House by a wide margin. It is a bill that‘s thought to have majority support. Republicans have been filibustering it.
Do you expect that that could be one of the things that gets acted on this weekend?
STANTON: No, that won‘t get done this weekend, I don‘t think. That will probably half after the START Treaty, which will probably take about Tuesday or Wednesday. They‘ll continue to talk about why they don‘t like the bill or why they do like the treaty, but then have some votes Tuesday or Wednesday on that.
The 9/11 bill is a little odd. There‘s not a really good sort of coherent reason why Republicans don‘t want to pass it. There are some financial reasons and things like that, but it‘s a little unclear if on this try, they‘ll have the votes.
They have come close. They have come within a handful of votes multiple times in passing it. So, we‘ll have to see what happens on Wednesday.
MADDOW: We‘ll be talking about that and some more detail with Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York in just a moment.
John Stanton, reporter for “Roll Call,” thanks for your time. I‘m sorry you‘re going to end up working this weekend, too.
MADDOW: So, today, here at our offices, I broke something that was brand-new and really expensive.
MADDOW: Live, well now-taped, but at the time live video feed from the drone as it crashes. That‘s what it looks like when the brand-new, really expensive RACHEL MADDOW SHOW official spy drone crashes into a wall because it was being piloted by an idiot who‘s not very good at using their thumbs, who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are Rachel Maddow. That connects to the news, I swear.
Plus, how the “Daily Show” last night may have given real life politics a big shove.
Plus, Congressman Anthony Weiner—that‘s all coming up.
MADDOW: Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” at Comedy Central did a great service on their show last night. When despite everybody else‘s inability to focus on a matter for any significant amount of time, he refused to stop covering the 9/11 first responders bill. The 9/11 first responders bill would provide health care for men and women who are sick, in some cases gravely so, because of the heroic work they did as part of the rescue and recovery effort at Ground Zero after 9/11.
The bill is not controversial. It is paid for. It does not add to the deficit. It passed with a more than 100-vote margin in the House of Representatives months ago.
But say it with me now, it has yet to pass the Senate.
Now, to be clear, the 9/11 first responders bill has majority support in the Senate, as you would expect. If it were voted on in an up-or-down vote, it would pass. But Republicans are not allowing it to be voted on, they are filibustering it. They are not allowing it to come up the health care bill for the people who are quietly literally not figuratively the heroes of September 11th.
Jon Stewart is the person in politics who has kept the most attention on this. And last night, he blew it out. The men he‘s talking with here are four 9/11 first responders who themselves are seriously ill from the time they spent doing rescue and recovery at Ground Zero.
Check this out.
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: The Senate is filibustering the bill.
What‘s going through your mind as you‘re watching this process go down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We discussed it. We‘re disappointed. And, unfortunately, we‘re hurt. We are—we are proud protectors of the Constitution, for the people, by the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we want to know where it was lost.
STEWART: You know, none of the Republican senators went on the floor of the Senate to talk about why they were going to filibuster the bill. But Senator Mitch McConnell a couple of days ago did actually get on the floor of the Senate and made I thought a really emotional speech, and I wanted you guys to listen to it and maybe get your reactions to it.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Judd grew up in Nashua, in southern New Hampshire. He found time to dress up as the school‘s mascot for a time. In 1992, Judd decided to run for the U.S. Senate. He‘s been instrument—when he walks out of this chamber for the last time, he‘ll leave an enormous void behind.
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STEWART: Senator Mitch McConnell who‘s talking about Senator Judd Gregg who‘s retiring from the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he‘s shedding a tear on his lunch buddy that he hangs out with every day. Where is his—where is his human feeling for not only the four of us? We represent the brothers and sisters that were down there. This isn‘t a “me, me” to any one of us. This is about the brothers and sisters that can‘t come out and speak like we can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s sad to see someone like him—
STEWART: To be fair, they have worked together for like six years
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
STEWART: On 9/11 when you heard that the towers got hit and you were with your colleagues in the NYPD and the fire department, when you guys voted—obviously, you need a supermajority to vote to go down there, right? I mean, you vote, you need a supermajority. So—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We barely made it by one vote.
STEWART: Were you able to get other people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One vote we got.
STEWART: Did you have to promise things to the other firefighters or the other policemen, like just vote with us on this to go down to the towers to save people and we‘ll do—we‘ll have chili on Friday night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fortunately, nobody retired that day otherwise we would have been crying that day, retiring, leaving—
STEWART: It would have been a very difficult day for you guys.
MADDOW: Again, the 9/11 first responders bill has passed the House. It has majority support in the Senate. There are no substantive arguments that are being made against it whatsoever in the Senate. But Republicans in the Senate are still stuffing it from being voted on.
We‘ll have more on that, ahead.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman from New York is recognized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, I yield one minute to the distinguished gentleman from New York, Mr. Weiner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is -
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY): Great courage to all members who have already spoken and then stand up and wrap your arms around procedure. We see it in the United States Senate every single day where members say, “We want amendments. We want debate. We want amendment, but we‘re still a no.”
And then, we stand and say, “Oh, if we only had a different process, we‘d vote yes.” You vote yes if you believe yes. You vote in favor of something if you believe it‘s the right thing. If you believe it‘s the wrong thing, you vote no.
We are following a procedure. I will not yield to the gentleman and the gentleman will observe regular order. The gentleman will observe regular order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is not in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that‘s correct.
WEINER: The gentleman thinks if he gets up and yells, he‘s going to intimidate people into believing he‘s right. He is wrong. The gentleman is wrong. The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing.
It‘s Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than
doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes. It is a shame, a shame. If
you believe this is a bad idea to provide health care, then vote no. But
don‘t give me the cowardly view that, oh, if it was a different procedure -
The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down. I will not.
The gentleman will sit. The gentleman is correct in sitting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is quite obviously is not in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will now suspend, the gentlemen will suspend.
WEINER: I will not stand here -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is recognized.
WEINER: And listen to my colleagues say, oh, if only I had a different procedure that allows us to stall, stall, stall and then vote no. Instead of standing up and defending your colleagues in voting no on this humane bill, you should urge them to vote yes - something the gentleman has not done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, back in July, quite indignant about Republicans in the House using procedural complaints to stop health care for 9/11 first responders.
Ultimately, two months later, the House did get it together and managed to pass the 9/11 first responders bill, with the vast majority of Republicans still voting no.
The 9/11 first responders bill is still not law. It passed the House, but it still has to get through the Senate. And in the Senate, the support for the bill is there.
It could pass. A majority of senators are in favor of it, but it cannot come up for a vote because it is being filibustered by Senate Republicans.
Joining us now is Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York.
Congressman, thanks very much for being here.
MADDOW: As somebody who worked very hard to get this through the House, how do you feel about the fact that it is still being held up in the Senate?
WEINER: Well, you know, all we want is a vote. I mean, we just want a yes or no vote. This is now nine years later. Quite, literally people are dying as they‘re watching this show. More than 900 people have died since September 11th of 9/11-related illnesses.
And you‘re right. There really isn‘t a substantive argument against this. Yesterday, in the House of Representatives, and today, the president signed a bill that gave tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires in the amount of about $70 billion.
This is a $7 billion program for a discrete group of people who, ever day, are frankly coughing. And I guess the challenge that we have here is trying to stop the moving target of what the objection is.
Is it that they don‘t like the bill because it‘s just for New Yorkers? Well, it‘s not that. Frankly, 435 districts and 434 of them have someone who‘s dying of 911 related illnesses.
Is it the procedure? They said if only you pass the tax bill, then we‘ll go on to the other things. Well, this is one of the other things. And we‘re not asking - we‘ve got 50 votes. We‘ve got way more than that. We‘ve got probably close to 60 votes, but the objection to even having a vote on this thing is what makes so many Americans watch what goes on in their legislature.
And maybe I was a little bit overexcited there, but the sentiment I was expressing is what a lot of people say to me on the street. They say even if you‘re against, OK, have a yes or no vote so we can at least have it considered.
And it‘s very frustrating to watch. And this could be the last week we get to do it because I believe the Republicans in the House won‘t bring this up again. So we literally need this vote now or never.
MADDOW: I saw your office today put out a statement specifically responding to John McCain on this. He described work on this bill as fooling around and you put out a statement in response to that. Again, just a question about whether or not procedure matters, whether or not you‘re actually getting to vote on something matters.
WEINER: Well, look, I think of all people who would understand (UNINTELLIGIBLE). John McCain, at least in theory, should. Look, I think what sometimes my friends in the Senate don‘t realize is that what they think is regular day-to-day procedural maneuvering looks to the rest of the country as standing in the way of really letting democracy work.
But in this case, literally, we have this universe of people and we think it‘s about 10,000 people. No one is dying to get - no, that‘s a wrong use of word. No one wants to get this benefit. It‘s not like an entitlement. No one‘s trying to get toxic stew in their lungs to go and be able to sign up for the 9/11 first responders program.
We figured out a way to pay for it. It‘s completely paid for now, and we have the votes. And so for John McCain to say, “Oh, this is some kind of a game or a stunt,” no, this is us trying to do, frankly, what I think we should have done on September 11th and we‘re trying to finally do now.
And I would just say to my Senate colleagues if there is one issue all year that should transcend politics, it really should be this one.
You know, you showed a clip of Jon Stewart‘s panel. You know, I‘m sure those guys are Republicans. I mean, I don‘t think this is a partisan thing here. And hopefully, they‘ll find their way clear to do it.
MADDOW: Late last night, as you mentioned, the House passed a compromise that the president made with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, signed it today. You voted no on that.
What do you think is going to happen in two years when all these things sunset again and when these debates start all over again in the middle of the presidential race?
WEINER: Yes. You know, the way I look at it, Rachel, we have a near-term problem, a medium and a long term. The near term problem is that the Republicans, I think, ate our lunch in this card game. I think that they got basically everything they wanted for this session, was the estate tax and the increase - the extension of the Bush tax cuts. So they got that.
Then there‘s the medium term in two years. I am very concerned that whatever political pressure we all felt this year to get this done, we‘re going to feel even more profoundly in an election year in two years, and that‘s the problem.
And it‘s also worth noting that a lot of the middle class benefits don‘t go two years. They only go one year. So you‘re not going to have the same political imperative to do that.
But then, there‘s the long-term thing. If this becomes permanent, which seems like the path it‘s going on, and which - what the sinister objective of the Republicans when they passed it - it was a 10-year sun set - they knew what they were doing.
They knew it would be very hard to eliminate this thing and that‘s why it was so important that the parties stood up for this. I fear that we‘re going to be digging out of rating forever, cannibalizing programs that are important to pay for it.
So I think there‘s going to be a lot of - I think we‘re going to be seeing the echoes of this tax fight again and again. And now, I hate to say it. These are not the bush tax cuts anymore. And now, these are the Obama tax cuts and that‘s what so frustrating about it.
MADDOW: Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat from New York, thanks a lot.
I appreciate it.
WEINER: Thanks. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: So guess who got a brand-new spy drone and then broke it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) I feel like I want to fight it. You know what I mean? No, I said back up. I said back up. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And then, right after that, I broke it. This does relate to developments in the larger world, I promise, boss. We had a really long week. We needed it. I‘m sorry I broke the expensive new thing.
MADDOW: Hey, remember the food safety bill, the biggest overhaul in food safety since 1938? It looks like you‘re just going to have to keep thinking about it, keep thinking back on it fondly, because the food safety bill was part of the omnibus spending package that died in the Senate late last night.
And a Republican Senate aide tells “The Hill” newspaper that it will not be included in the new stopgap spending measure that replaces the big spending bill, that‘s according again to a Republican aide.
A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid says they‘re still, quote, “working with our Republican colleagues to include food safety in the continuing resolution.”
So to recap, keeping the government up and running for hours at a time
yes, we can. Giving your government the ability to protect our food supply beyond measures and technology that were developed 72 years ago, no, not with this Senate. No, we can‘t.
MADDOW: Imagine you are in a quiet neighborhood in El Paso. All right, this is Texas. This is El Paso. Ding. This is the specific neighborhood, the specific intersection we are talking about.
Imagine you are in this quiet, relatively suburban neighborhood in El Paso, Texas. And then, this happens. All right, so it wasn‘t exactly like this drone that you can see here on the desk, but it was a drone that crash landed in the backyard of a private home in El Paso three days ago.
It wasn‘t an American government drone. It was actually one owned by the Mexican government. This is what we think it might have looked like. We can‘t show you the drone itself, because after the drone was recovered by local police, it was returned immediately to the Mexican government.
Who knew the Mexican government had drones? Where did they get them from? Yes. We don‘t know. Our best guess is that it‘s this Israeli model marketed to countries all over the world. This is a picture that we got from their Web site.
This is a surveillance drone. This is not an armed drone. The one that we got is not an armed drone either, but it is weirdly intimidating. We bought this across the street today on the flimsy excuse of having a lost drone in an American city story that we needed to cover.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You control this with your iPhone.
MADDOW (on camera): What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MADDOW: I thought you were just about to like to call up some directions.
Your iPhone is the remote control?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And there‘s a camera on there that you - that‘s what you control. You see what‘s going on.
MADDOW: They‘re cute cameras. What if you don‘t have an iPhone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don‘t have a drone then.
MADDOW: It‘s very intimidating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that‘s a fast-moving blade. So, yes.
MADDOW: Can I drive it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go for it.
MADDOW: What does this one do? I know that this is tilting. I just push?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Push on it and then tilt the iPhone forward. You drive it forward. Perfect. How far away can it go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven‘t figured that out yet. I think you should get it on an elevator.
MADDOW: Andy, I‘ve been meaning to talk to you about something. I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Sorry. I feel like I want to fight it. You know what I mean? No, I said back up. I said back up. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to get underneath it.
MADDOW: I don‘t know why it just dropped like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa.
MADDOW: I crashed. So it works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does.
MADDOW: It‘s weirdly anthropomorphically terrifying even though there is nothing anthropomorphic about its shape or behavior.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it‘s scary. I think it‘s the fact that it can see.
MADDOW: But even if it didn‘t see, the fact that it can like move up on you like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The other big drone story in the news today is a scoop by MSNBC‘s Michael Isikoff about the armed drones that we used to shoot missiles into Pakistan.
Two months ago, German and Pakistani papers reported that a suspected terrorist, a high value target for the United States, was killed in a drone strike. He was a high value target for the U.S. because he had been indicted for playing a role in the bombing of the USS Cole in the year 2000, the bombing that killed 17 American sailors.
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Cole bombing, there were multiple international news reports that one of the Cole bombers, this guy who had been indicted, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan.
If those reports were true, that would mean the guy has now been dead by drone for about two months. That would also mean that this picture cannot exist. This is the supposedly dead Cole bombing suspect guy on the right with a Yemeni journalist on the left.
This picture was taken last week. The suspect reportedly allowed himself to be photographed to prove that he is, in fact, not dead.
The drone strikes in North Waziristan of which there were three today and more than a 100 this year - they also led to a big shock in the word of spy craft today. Did you see this story?
Last month, a lawsuit was filed in Pakistan by a man who said his brother and his son had been killed by a U.S. drone strike in the tribal areas in Pakistan last year. The lawsuit demands a $500 billion in compensation for those deaths.
More immediately, though, the lawsuit named, directly identified by name, a man who was accused of being the head of CIA in Pakistan essentially, the CIA station chief in Islamabad, the top CIA guy in that country.
His name appeared in the press all over Pakistan. It started showing up on placards at protest rallies and it ended up being used in threats. He has now been rushed out of Pakistan.
In a late-breaking story tonight, the “New York Times” calls the Islamabad CIA station chief, quote, “perhaps the spy agency‘s most important overseas post.” “The Times” also makes the bombshell allegation that, quote, “The officer‘s cover was deliberately blown by Pakistan‘s military intelligence agency.” That is an allegation being made by U.S. intelligence sources speaking to “New York Times.”
And of course, this all takes place right after another mysterious rushing out of the country of an American diplomat in Pakistan. The U.S. consul general up in Peshawar had been there for only two months when she was rushed out of Pakistan just last week.
Now, initial reports there said that she was rushed out while she was under threat from the Taliban. U.S. sources, however, later said it was for personal reasons that she was rushed out of the country.
As always, news out of and about Pakistan is scary, the most anti-American country on earth, the place where Osama Bin Laden lives. And oh, yes, did we mention the nuclear weapons? As always, Pakistan news, scary. As always, drone news both scary and weird.
But we did get and maybe broke the best office toy ever. Did I break it? Not sure I know how to drive it. OK, go to break. Quick, go to break.
MADDOW: I don‘t think that we here at the show are ever going to do a fake political science textbook as a tie-in with the show. But I will admit that we have been tempted. We could do a chapter on the Tarantino, the overuse of the filibuster to kill bills.
We could do a timeline of gimmick scapegoats for making it look like you‘re cutting spending when you‘re really not. Foreign aid, NPR, earmarks. We could do a rip out worksheet flowchart on how term limits make unelected staffers and lobbyists way more powerful than the people who run for office, since they‘re the only ones left in the legislature year after year to learn how to get stuff done.
We have thoughts about this fake poli-sci text book tie-in with the show. Obviously, we thought about it, but we have never done it.
If we do it someday, one of the case studies, one the studies of real power brokers getting stuff done demonstrating political science concepts, one of our case studies will be Bobby Jindal and the $220 million sand berms that worked for him.
It starts in April, with the national nightmare of BP‘s Deepwater Horizon well exploding and sinking, sending millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening fisheries and wetlands throughout the region, but particularly in Gov. Jindal‘s state of Louisiana.
For a savvy politician, though, a national nightmare can also be a political opportunity, an opportunity, in Gov. Jindal‘s case, into transform yourself into uniformed action man, demanding answers from Washington, arranging for buckets of money to be spend on whatever, literally whatever.
In Mr. Jindal‘s case, “whatever” meant sand berms. He decided the fight he wanted to pick was sand berms. He demanded that the federal government get out of the way and let him build miles of artificial sand berms out in the gulf, because he said that would stop the oil from coming ashore. Here is Gov. Jindal about a month into the disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA): We want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve our dredging, our sand boom plan to keep this oil out of our marshes, off our shores.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Except there were good reasons not to do that - lots of good reasons. Federal regulators, experts on these things, warned that the sand booms he described there, the sand berms, could not get built in time to help, that they might increase erosion, which is a very big problem there, that they could block tidal waterways, that they might make an already horrible situation with the oil worse by actually funneling the oil further into the swamps.
But because of all that expert opinion that said they were a bad idea and a waste of time and a waste of sand, which is actually kind of a valuable commodity for oil spill response, because expert opinion was uniformly against the cockamamie sand berm scheme, the federal government was against it.
And if the federal government was against it, then that‘s the fight that Bob Jindal wanted to fight. Otherwise, how could conservative uniformed action man be seen railing against federal red tape for political purposes?
So Gov. Jindal cranked away on the sand berm scheme and on denouncing the federal government at every turn. And he cranked and cranked and cranked away on the sand berm scheme until, finally, he got permission to build those dumb sand berms, and he got the millions from BP to fund them instead of funding something else.
The Jindal administration then began telling the story of the sand berms in their own way. In our political science textbook, this would be indexed under “spin.”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, THE “TODAY” SHOW: And some people call it Jindal‘s folly. Others said it wasn‘t going to do anything to prevent the diluted oil from reaching shore.
JINDAL: But the reality is that it worked. The reality is that it prevented that oil from getting into the wetlands, 15 to 20 miles away. The sand berms are a great success, but we are thrilled we did those sand berms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. Was it one of the largest dredging projects in the nation? Yes. Was it hugely expensive? Yes. Tons of man-hours, tons of sand, and tons of money spent on this and not on other things. Yes. Did it work? No. It did not work at all.
Quote, “The Louisiana berms were not a success.” Quote, “The Louisiana berms were not an effective spill response measure.” Quote, “They were not successful for spill response.”
Those are the blunt conclusions of the bipartisan presidential oil commission, bipartisan, which released its draft review this week.
Quote, “The commission staff can comfortably conclude that the decision to green light the underwhelmingly effective, overwhelmingly expensive Louisiana berms project was flawed.”
These things cost three times what BP spent on all other efforts at removing oil from the water in the coastline of Louisiana combined - triple the cost of everything else combined.
And they did essentially nothing except risk some grave damage to the waterways they were built in. So what do you do if you‘re the guy responsible for this humiliating waste? What do you do if you‘re Bobby Jindal, politician, political science case study in the making and this damning report comes out about your dumb, self-aggrandizing vanity project that only help you and not your state? What do you do?
You release the statement of your life. Mr. Jindal slamming the report as partisan, revisionist history, calling it insulting. You dirty feds with your meddling red tape.
Gov. Jindal wrote about how awesome the berms were and how awesome he was for pushing them in his last book, which is about himself. It‘s called “Leadership in Crisis.” Guess who is the star of the book?
For the gulf, Bobby Jindal‘s vanity sand berms were, in fact, a disaster, a huge, risky useless waste pursued for a political point when the gulf needed engineering that worked. But for Bobby Jindal, the $227 million sand berms did work. They worked for him. Case study closed.
Have a great weekend. Good night.
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Copyright 2010 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>