The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/15/11
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Chris, I hope that you will forgive me if I try
to stay away from defining the distance between breathy and sexy.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I will gladly forgive you.
MADDOW: All the other dwarves, however, I`m very good on.
HAYES: Well done, well done.
MADDOW: Thank you, Chris. I`ll see you later.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
Whether or not political campaigns have a natural life span, campaign
Web sites do not have a natural life span. Campaign Web sites do not just
die on their own. If you want them to die, you have to overtly kill them,
and somebody forgot to kill Tim Pawlenty`s presidential Web site.
After a third place showing at the Ames, Iowa, straw poll this
weekend, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty quit the race for
president. He quit during an appearance on an ABC Sunday morning show
called “This Week.”
But if any of the 300 million Americans don`t watch that show on any
given Sunday missed the announcement and were still interested in Tim
Pawlenty, and went to Tim Pawlenty`s Web site, you would not have known
from the Web site today that Mr. Pawlenty had left the race.
This is what timPawlenty.com looks like right now. Pawlenty 2012 and
the big slogan, “Tomorrow Begins Today.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Our morning in America, our new beginning, our road to
tomorrow begins today. Right here, right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tomorrow begins today. Technically speaking, tomorrow ended
yesterday for Governor Pawlenty. Today even ended yesterday, but somebody
maybe forgot to inform the webmaster as well as whoever tweets in Mr.
Quote, “Congratulations to Representative Bachmann on her win. Our
campaign needed to show progress and we did. I`m eager for the campaign
And then he quit. There will, in the end, be no campaign ahead for
Tim Pawlenty. He is out of the race.
But whether or not you thought Tim Pawlenty was going to win the
nomination, whether or not you think Pawlenty was going to win the
presidency, Tim Pawlenty is out of the race for a reason that statistically
speaking makes no sense.
First of all, Tim Pawlenty initially said if he finished anywhere
better than sixth at the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, he would see that as a
victory and he would stay in the race. He ended up finishing third but he
dropped out anyway.
Second of all, the decision point for him here was the Ames, Iowa,
straw poll. Basing a decision about whether or not to continue a
presidential campaign on the result of the Ames, Iowa straw poll is a
little bit like basing that kind of decision on who`s going to win a game
If you`re going to afford to only play one bingo card and you`re
playing against somebody else who just bought 50 bingo cards, the 50 bingo
cards person is more likely to win. Yes, there is some chance and some
skill involved – listen closely. But basically you need a 1st grader`s
knowledge of math in order to understand the predictive odds here. And
that`s essentially how the Ames straw poll works.
It costs money to vote. It costs 30 bucks to cast a ballot. Some of
the candidates who really want to win the Ames, Iowa straw poll buy the
ballots for people and then hand them out so the people to whom they hand
out the ballots will vote for them. That`s how you win the Ames, Iowa
straw poll. You spend money to do it.
Michele Bachmann who won the straw poll this weekend reportedly
purchased 6,000 $30 tickets. Her campaign bought the ballots and then just
gave them out to people, a strategy that resulted in her getting 4,823
votes, which was first place.
The Iowa Republican Party also sells essentially real estate inside
the straw poll. They sell real estate. They sell locations inside the
straw poll to the highest-bidding candidate.
The highest-bidding candidate for real estate at the straw poll this
year was Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. His campaign paid
$31,000 for the best, best-placed, largest, most desirable booth location
at the straw poll – and Ron Paul, in correlation with his willingness to
spend that kind of money at Ames came in second in Ames. He was 152 votes
behind Michele Bachmann.
Now, do those votes represent organic, statistically grassroots
support for the candidacies or Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul among Iowa
Republicans broadly speaking? Maybe. Bingo.
But they also might just represent the fact those two campaigns are
good at winning a racket like this. And it is a racket.
And, actually, the sort of refreshing thing about the Ames, Iowa,
straw poll is that the people who are making money off this racket, the
Iowa Republican Party, fully admit that it is a racket that is just
designed to make them money.
After the second-ever Ames straw poll back in 1987, the Iowa
Republican Party`s finance director said, quote, “The Iowa straw poll was
devised as a fundraising gimmick for the state party and nothing more than
that.” The current chair of the Iowa federation of college Republicans
says the straw poll is, quote, “primarily a fundraiser.”
So, good for Iowa Republicans that they admit it and that they have
figured out the way to make this money, and makes a ton of money for their
state party and, frankly, good for the local community in Ames, Iowa. This
fundraiser pumps a lot of money into the local economy every time there is
one of these gimmicky fund raisers.
But based on the way the Beltway media handles the Ames straw poll,
you might surmise the Ames straw poll has predictive power. Let`s see how
people do at this pay-to-vote, rigged fundraiser bingo game is going to
tell you who`s going to win the Iowa caucuses and that who wins the Iowa
caucuses will tell you who`s going to win the presidential nomination.
That is a great storyline and it justifies a lot of very exciting coverage,
it does not, however, happen to be true.
I mean, every once in awhile, it does happen. In 1999, George W. Bush
won the Ames straw poll, then the Iowa caucus, then the Republican
nomination. But other than that, if you were looking to the straw poll to
see how things are going to go, well, the Republican Party would have
nominated Mitt Romney for president last time around and Phil Gramm in
1995, and Pat Robertson, the time for that, and George H.W. Bush, the year
that they actually nominated Ronald Reagan.
Bob Dole, it should be noted, tied Phil Gramm in the straw poll in
1995. But by the time Iowans voted again that season in the Iowa caucuses,
Phil Gramm, after his awesome tie for first place Iowa straw poll
performance finished at 9 percent in the caucuses.
Nate Silver at “The New York Times” crunched the numbers on this
historically today and found that performance in Iowa does actually have
some predictive value of how you`re going to do in the overall nominating
process if you are a Democrat. But if you are a Republican, it really
doesn`t matter – that means the straw poll, that means the caucuses, that
One of the reasons for that? Well, while Iowa Democrats seem to be
kind of like the rest of Democrats across the country, Iowa Republicans
seem to not at all be like the rest of Republicans across the country. All
that their stated Iowa preferences tell you is what their stated Iowa
preferences are. And they like folks like Pat Robertson and Phil Gramm and
this year, Michele Bachmann.
They also like people who pay for their votes and feed them and
provide good entertainment at Ames to buy their votes. Don`t tell the
people who make magazine covers or book the Sunday shows about this.
But Iowa – Iowa is largely irrelevant to Republican presidential
politics. We know who the Democratic nominee is going to be this year,
it`s the incumbent president.
The whole contest this year is about who the Republican nominee is
going to be, and for that question and context, Iowa doesn`t matter almost
at all. Which makes it both sad that Tim Pawlenty got out of the
presidential race because of how he performed at something that is this
pointless and irrelevant, but it also makes you think maybe Mr. Pawlenty is
getting what he deserves, since he staked his whole campaign for the
presidency on everybody knows in advance is irrelevant.
In any case, no matter why Pawlenty got out, none of the other
candidates will have Tim Pawlenty to forget to kick around this year.
What does matter in all of presidential politics this year on the
Democratic side and Republican side is this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t afford to lose
up to a million jobs in this country.
Construction workers are lining up to find jobs.
Ultimately, the private sector is going to be creating jobs.
We can get this economy going again.
We get the economy moving.
Putting people back to work. We`ve got to focus on growing this
That creates a lot of jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today on the first day of his three-day bus
tour – a bus tour that looks very much like him campaigning, as you can
see there, even though the White House swears he is not campaigning.
President Obama talking at every turn about the single thing that actually
is the most predictive thing in almost any presidential election – and
that is the state of the economy.
And that is why personalities and style and hype and gimmicks aside,
that is why the entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the presidential
race deserves to get as much attention as it is getting. And it frankly
deserves to obscure the nonsense in Iowa.
While Democrats would love for Rick Perry to run on his Michele
Bachmann-style, Pat Robertson-style, Mike Huckabee-style, social
conservative, religious conservative, secede from the Union yihaa
credentials, which he would have had to run on to compete in Iowa, what
Rick Perry has decided to run on instead is this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Hope is on the horizon, not the empty rhetoric of hope, but
a record that gives us hope. That leader, Rick Perry – America`s jobs
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: America`s jobs governor. That was Rick Perry`s first
campaign ad now that he`s announced he`s running, calling himself a job`s
The biggest question in presidential politics is: can Rick Perry
credibly call himself that? Can he credibly base his campaign on that?
Does he have an economic message about the economy and jobs creation that
is going to resonate?
You might recall that sacrificed a giant bologna on this show to make
the case I do not think Rick Perry`s economic claims and jobs claims bare
up under factual scrutiny. But will his rivals be able to call bologna on
the message? If he goes far enough towards the nomination, will the White
House be able to call bologna on that message?
And beyond that, if the effect of us trying to come out of the great
recession not just that we as a country are upset and worried about
unemployment and our economy, but we are also upset and worried about our
future and about what we can count on in tough times that we are pretty
sure are sticking around for awhile.
Here`s the next presidential politics question: how big a deal with
Democrats make of the fact that Rick Perry says Social Security and
Medicare are unconstitutional and thus must be abolished? Howard Dean
joins us next.
MADDOW: Remember how the Republican Party developed sort of a Paul
Ryan budget problem when they all overwhelmingly voted to kill Medicare
with the Paul Ryan budget? Republicans could not wait to remind everybody
about that, Rick Perry may have that same Paul Ryan problem in a really,
really big way. That`s next.
MADDOW: Texas Governor Rick Perry announced this weekend he`s doing
what everybody already assumed he was doing anyway, he is running for
president, beginning with the race for the Republican nomination, Rick
Perry not just tiptoeing around about running, not anymore. Now he is
officially campaigning for president the old-fashioned way by actually
If you want to find the real start of Rick Perry`s presidential
campaign, you might want to look here to his big book of big ideas, which
was released in November 2010, just after the congressional elections.
The book is called “Fed Up!” because he`s not just fed up with the m-
dash before the subtitle, he`s not just fed up, period, or fed up space, he
is fed, all caps, all caps, exclamation point.
Now, from page 49 of Governor Perry`s book where he talks about the
New Deal, quote, “certain of these programs massively altered the
relationships between Americans and their government, violently tossing
aside any respect for our founding principles for federalism and unified
government – excuse me, limited government.”
By far, the best example of this, he says, is Social Security.
Social Security as a Molotov cocktail-throwing barbarian at the
candidate, violently tossing aside the founding principles of our nation.
At least before he officially became a presidential contender, Rick Perry
was frank about his opinions on programs such as Social Security and
Last week, “The Daily Beast” dredged up the outtakes from a “Newsweek”
interview with Rick Perry that had been done last fall. Things that didn`t
seem interesting enough to make the first cut of the interview before he
was running for president, that`s how these things go, context is
But in new context he is in of him running for president, here`s what
he had to say, quote, “I don`t think our Founding Fathers, when they were
putting the term general welfare in there, in the Constitution, he means, I
don`t think they were thinking about a federally-operated program of
mentions, nor a federally-operated program of health care. But they
clearly said was that those were issues that the states needed to address,
not the federal government. I stand very clear on that.”
Very clear, in Rick Perry land, so, we`re doing this state-by-state.
Alabama, you can hand out vouchers for cat food and human portions.
Massachusetts, you can continue on with pensions or seniors and universal
health care, as long as you can afford it, even though it`s been a national
safety net before now.
Today, we got a hint that the Rick Perry who wants to live in the
White House has begun to realize that his ideas on these things might not
be all that popular.
At the Iowa state fair, the reporter Ben Smith from Politico.com asked
Governor Perry about his not that old insistence that Social Security and
Medicare should be abolished federally, so that the states can take them
over. Any other solution he says is unconstitutional, exclamation point.
That`s his position as of less than a year ago in his all-caps titled book.
But when asked about it today, all of a sudden, Governor Rick Perry
did not sound so Rick Perry about it anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: There`s time for having a conversation with the country about
how we find some solutions to have programs that are going to be
sustainable, and I think having the states doing it is one of the way. I`m
not saying it`s the only way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The old Rick Perry wants to talk Social Security as a violent
overthrow of the Constitution. The new Rick Perry who`s running for
president, wants to talk about sustainability and many ideas, not just the
ones he demanded last year when no one was listening, exclamation point.
In joining the race, Governor Rick Perry brings some serious baggage
from his talk of seceding from the Union, to his apocalyptic religious
But if Rick Perry does well, as many are expecting him to do in the
Republican nomination process, if Rick Perry is still in this several
months from now, you will know that Democrats are winning against him if
the race is not about religious convictions or social conservatism, but
instead about Rick Perry`s belief that Social Security and Medicare are
unconstitutional and must be taken apart.
Joining us now is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and former
chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Governor Dean, thanks very much for your time tonight.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks, Rachel. Thanks for having
MADDOW: Governor Perry suggesting that Social Security and Medicare
are unconstitutional. In addition to what I quoted in the intro, he also
called them a Ponzi scheme. Is this – this sounds to me the same sort of
Republican argument that`s been a gift for Democrats all year. Do you see
it that way?
DEAN: This is going to be interesting – although the interesting
thing about this, you`d think this might appeal to the Tea Party, the
problem is he`s got some other problems. For example, he talks a lot about
the jobs created in Texas since he was governor. There have been a lot of
jobs created, but Texas created three out of four of all the jobs increased
in the state workforce, state workforce up 18 percent under Rick Perry, the
supposed Tea Party candidate. It`s really extraordinary.
And this business of allowing the states to do whatever they please
and if the state wants to get rid of Social Security, that`s fine. But
here`s the record in Texas, 22 percent of all children in Texas have no
health insurance – 22 percent, one of the worst in the country.
So, you know, he`s got a lot to answer for. It`s not just the stuff
that he said he`s going to get in trouble for about Social Security and
Medicare, which actually most Tea Party people do not think should be cut.
He`s got some fundamental problems with whether he really understands what
the federal government is supposed to do.
MADDOW: I think back, though, on Bill Clinton running for the
presidency in the early `90s, and the criticism of him from the right, OK,
well, you seem to be an interesting guy, a charismatic young governor who
has a lot to offer in terms of the way he talks about the country.
But look at Arkansas – Arkansas is at the bottom of the list on so
many national indicators, never really seemed like that stuck as a
complaint against Bill Clinton as a charismatic governor. Can the
complaints about Texas, both in terms of its economy and its lifestyle and
the way it fits into the country really do Rick Perry any harm?
DEAN: Well, I think it can. I think if people – the worst thing you
can do in politics is be a hypocrite, and if you`re talking about cutting
the size of government and government`s too big and we don`t like Social
Security and Medicare and you find your workforce is going up 18 percent,
twice the rate private sector jobs went up in Texas while he was governor,
there`s a lot of explaining to do, as they say in politics.
So, I do think that matters, jobs are going to be a big issue in this
campaign. And if people think he created jobs by expanding the state
workforce – by the way, they have a $9 billion deficit, which is bigger
than four states in Texas. So, he`s got a lot of explaining to do. He`s
got a management problem on his hands.
Most governors don`t a management problem and but it turns out that
Texas is the weakest governorship in the country, the lieutenant governor
actually presents the budget in Texas and Rick Perry has very little
management influence. He`s not really running Texas. The governor of
Texas doesn`t really run Texas, the only state in the country that`s true
MADDOW: There`s been two sort of schools of thought at least in the
pundit world about Rick Perry`s entry into this race. One of them is that
he poses potentially the starkest threat to President Obama. He offers a
stark contrast and a style that`s going to appeal to the Republican
electorate in a way that will provide a real challenge for the White House.
The other school thought is that he`s Fred Thompson. That he seems
exciting because he`s had no scrutiny. And that there`s no reason to
believe that he seems a path to the nomination.
Do you ascribe yourself to either of those schools of thought?
DEAN: Well, look, I think he can be a good candidate. He`s a good
politician, I think. He had terrible numbers the last time he ran, before
this, when he beat Bill White, and he still managed to escape in a four-way
race with something like 38 percent of the vote.
This time he came back and beat a – you know, good Democrat
candidate, mayor of Houston, to win, although it was a right-wing year.
So, look, I`ve said, and I`ll say it again, anyone who gets a nomination
for their party, and I think he could, could be president.
So, I wouldn`t write him off, but he has a lot of explaining to do, as
they say, because of his inconsistencies, because of his lack of real
management experience, because of the size of the increase in the state
workforce and how many jobs that accounted for, and because of the enormous
budget deficits in Texas that haven`t been dealt with.
MADDOW: Governor Dean, how do you feel Democrats in the White House
are doing so far in terms of positioning the president for his run and
trying to turn around the people that will be most important for the
success of the president`s campaign?
DEAN: Well, that depends on what happens in this debt deal, which has
a time bomb for everyone in it. If we, for example, raise the age of
Medicare to 67 percent, I think the Democrats might as well mail it in
because, you know, you got to stand up for core Democratic programs.
This ought to be fought on three things, this race, jobs is the
biggest one and then Social Security and Medicare are the other two. And
we should win on all of those.
The leading Republican candidates haven`t really created any jobs,
except in the state government in the case of Governor Perry. Michele
Bachmann has certainly never created any jobs and has taken a whole lot of
federal money in her husband and her business stuff.
And, frankly, Mitt Romney, with his experience, probably caused more
jobs to be lost what he did in Bain Capital than gained. And that will
come out, depending on who the nominee.
So, it`s jobs, Medicare, and the Social Security, we win. And those
are really important issues to the American people, and I think we have a
great shot to this election. We`ve got to stick to our guns and support
You can`t cut the daylights out of Social Security and Medicare and
then expect the Democrats to rally around you.
MADDOW: Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, former chairman of the
DNC – Governor, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s always good
to have you here.
DEAN: Thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: So, actually restarting the economy is simple it turns out.
All we need, everybody agrees, is one lousy alien invasion, like from outer
space. Sci-fi economics may be our last hope. The evidence, coming up.
MADDOW: The president today started his three-day bus tour with the
town hall event in Minnesota, followed by one in Iowa, and although these
are not technically campaign events, you can hear him start to address not
just the citizenry as a whole, which is almost always the implied audience
for any remarks he makes as president.
You can hear the president today also try to engage the people he
needs to enthuse most about his campaign. You can hear him at these town
halls today addressing not just the overall electorate that wants to see
him reasonable and willing to talk, and willing to be the adult in a room,
and willing to compromise, in a Washington that is too often too full of
You can also hear him start to engage Democrats, frankly – people who
want to see the president to the fight to the Republicans, who want to see
a Democratic president standing up and fighting for what he believes in and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The point is something`s happened in Washington where we think
that kind of compromise we do every day in our own families with our
neighbors, with our co-workers, with our friends, that somehow that`s
become a dirty word, and that`s got to change. That`s got to stop.
So, we`re going to choose country over party. We`re going to choose
the next generation over the next election
If we are willing to do that, then I have absolutely no doubt that we
can get this economy going again, we can put people to work back again,
small businesses can start growing again. But I`m going to need your help
to make it happen. You`ve got to send a message to Washington that it`s
time for the games to stop. It`s time to put country first.
But I want everybody to understand here that I`m not here just to
enjoy the nice weather, I`m here to enlist you in a fight. We are fighting
for the future of our country, and this is a fight that we are going to
That is a promise that I make with your help. Thank you very much,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We are going to win, he says, we are going to win because I`m
going to fight and you`re going to fight with me, and also compromise is
too much of a dirty word.
It is tough to do both of those messages at once, right? Just as it
is tough to use the campaign slogan the Republicans used against you in the
last election, country first, as this year`s rallying cry against the
I don`t say that`s tough to do, because I mean it is wrong-headed or
wrong, I literally mean the president`s reelection campaign strategy
appears to be to try to do something that is difficult, naming Republican
hypocrisy, calling them out for not acting with accordance with their
stated ideals. Also, calling Republicans out for blocking action to help
the economy while also not trying to sound harshly partisan.
This is hard, what the president appears to be trying to do. Is the
president rallying up allies to try to do this hard thing?
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell joins us next.
MADDOW: OK, bear with me here. This has an excellent political
point, but we have to go through a bad movie and a good book and a really
old TV show until we get there. But trust me, the arc is perfect.
OK, in 2009, a movie was released that was based on the graphic novel
“Watchmen.” It was big, action movie. It was directed by the man who
directed the movie “300” – I don`t mean it to be rude, but it was not a
very good movie.
Do not, however, let that distract you from the fact the book on which
the movie was based, “Watchmen,” is a really good book. It`s considered to
be one of the first of the great full-length complicated, dark, graphic
novels period – one of the first great graphic novels, period.
The back drop of the “Watchmen” is the nuclear threat of the Cold War
era. And one of major flat points of the book that has completely changed
in the bad movie is that one of our heroes decides to save the world from
nuclear war by convincing everybody that earth is under attack from aliens.
His thinking is that all the people of earth are going to have to put aside
all the stupid things that we fight about and unit to face down the alien
The editor of the graphic novel has talked about having wanted to drop
that plot point entirely, the ending for the whole book. The author of
“Watchmen,” the brilliant Alan Moore in 2005 told “Entertainment Weekly”
that while he was in the middle of writing “Watchmen,” he found out the
same idea about faking an alien attack had been done and have done very
well in a 1963 episode of the TV show called “The Outer Limits.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, Monday`s near miss was a fourth such
incident since the thermonuclear age began, so long as the nation`s on the
earth were armed against each other, we`re bound to have more such
accidents. And eventually, soon, one must prove fatal.
These nations must unite. We, we must make them unite. And
gentlemen, we can make them unite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And their idea for making the nations of the world unit is
fake alien attack. Earthlings need the threat of a fake alien attack in
order to get us to do the right thing on earth. The Comics Alliance blog
wrote about it today and noted the way Alan Moore got around this problem
in “Watchmen,” that this plot point had been done before in 1963, the way
Alan Moore got around it in “Watchmen” see the little red circle part
there, is that he put in a hat tip in the book, randomly one of the
characters happens to be watching the TV show, Alan Moore`s way of saying
he`s not stealing from the TV show. He was paying homage to it.
My favorite thing about this idea, though, that fake aliens can make
real humans do the real thing, my favorite part is not just the bad movie
in 2009 or the great novel in 1996, or the “Outer Limits” episode in 1963,
my favorite thing about this idea is that Ronald Reagan talked about it all
All the – he raised the idea of a fake alien attack on earth
frequently as president, I think, without ever knowing that he was being
kind of cartoon-y in doing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I couldn`t help
but in one point with our discussions privately with General Secretary
Gorbachev when you stop to think we`re all God`s children, wherever we live
in the world, I couldn`t help but say to him – just think how easy his
task and mine might be in these meetings we held if suddenly there was a
threat to this world from some other species from another planet outside in
the universe. We`d forget all the little local differences that we have
between our countries, and we would find out once and for all that we are
all human beings together.
Perhaps we need some outside universal threat to make us recognize
this common bound. I occasionally think how quickly our differences
worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Imagine all the people in the U.N. there listening to that,
like waiting for it to get translated in whatever language they are
listening, and just – did he really – could you retranslate? Did he say
that in your language, too?
f only we were afraid of alien invasion, then we`d do the right thing.
Noble Prize-winning economist and “New York Times” columnist Paul
Krugman made a related argument this weekend for economic policy. Krugman
arguing that the U.S. government needs to spend some money doing some stuff
to employ people in order to stave off a double-dip recession, in order to
get the economy going, we have to do it soon.
He said, he argued on CNN this weekend, that if we had to invent a
fake invasion of space aliens in order to get the government to do that, in
order to motivate us to do some economically stimulative government
activity, then fine – frankly, fake space aliens have been used for worse
in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL KRUGMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: If we discovered that, you know,
space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive build up to
counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits
took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The fake aliens will save us.
President Obama, for his part, is out doing campaign-style bus tour
events in the Midwest today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, talking about what
everybody wants to talk about, which is the economy. So far, he`s making
two essential points, neither about aliens. He`s arguing that Republicans
are trying to block economic process and he`s arguing that in order to get
any economic progress, we are going to have to overtly do stuff as a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Congress right now could start putting people to work
rebuilding America. At a time where interest rates are low, contractors
are begging for work, construction workers are lining up to find jobs,
let`s rebuild America. We could be rebuilding roads and bridges and
schools and parks all across America right now.
We could put hundreds of thousands of folks to work right now.
There`s a bill sitting in Congress right now that would set up an
infrastructure bank to get that moving – attracting private sector
dollars, not just public dollars. Congress needs to move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not men from mars, but does it take men from mars? Or
is the actual economic crisis that we are in motivation enough for some of
the stuff to actually get done?
Joining us once again is Ed Rendell, our second former governor of the
show tonight and our second former Democratic National Committee chairman,
who`s also an MSNBC contributor.
It`s good to see you, Governor. Thanks for being here.
ED RENDELL, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I`m absolutely stunned listening to
that, Rachel. My mind is boggled.
MADDOW: You are being very, very diplomatic. You remind me of
somebody confronted with a hideous child who says, madam, that`s quite a
MADDOW: Let me ask you, though, about this overall idea we need some
sort of sense of political extremist, circumstantial extremist in order to
justify doing something right now to create jobs. Do you think that`s
RENDELL: I don`t. And the reason I don`t, Rachel, is I think the
American people want very much cutting across most ideological lines. They
want to see common sense things that will increase jobs in America. That
will put people back to work. That will put investment into our economy.
And I don`t think it`s a stretch. I don`t think we need outside
aliens to attack us for that to be motivated.
I think there`s self-motivation here, they just want to see a common
sense approach and an approach that`s likely to work.
MADDOW: I think that you`re right that the infrastructure stuff in
particular that we heard the president talking about is popular, the
polling bears that out.
RENDELL: No question.
MADDOW: Even Republicans like to talk about infrastructure in a
popular way. But do you think the president and congressional Democrats
have a plan for turning the popularity of those things into political
RENDELL: Well, the infrastructure bank is a great idea and the
president deserves credit and he`s funding it at the $30 billion level.
That`s very important. But that`s going to take time to set up, to play
out. It`s important.
And, you know, just last Monday, building America`s future, echoing
what you`ve been saying for a long time – said we`ve got to invest in our
infrastructure for the long run, a 10-year program like every other
developed nation has done to do big things and leave our infrastructure in
great shape for future generations.
But having said that, we can take infrastructure and do things that
would put people to work in the next four months. If we passed the bill on
October 1st, we could have people working when the March construction
season starts on roads and bridges. We have 70,000 structurally deficient
bridges in this country, the states and local governments don`t have enough
money to work on all them, or half of them, or a quarter of them.
We could do it and the president, all he has to do, is put in
something he liked during the transition when 50 governors met with him in
Philadelphia on December 1st, 2008, and that`s lose it – use it or lose
it. Meaning you give the states a certain time to have work underway. If
they don`t have work underway, the money is taken away and given to states
who do have work underway.
So, we got have to use infrastructure for the short-term impact and
for the long-term impact. And there`s other things we could do that would
have a short-term impact as well, Rachel. There are a lot of good ideas
MADDOW: Do you think that what the president is doing on this bus
tour, asking people to pressure Congress, for example, I`m trying to enlist
you in a fight, he said – is that the sort of thing that`s going to get
that bill you were talking about passed. Does that actually create
pressure on Republicans to pass something like that particularly in the
RENDELL: I think it can help, but it`s not going to do it by itself.
I think the program has to speak for itself and have common sense things
that don`t cost a lot of money. Let me give you another idea, AmeriCorps
and VISTA. There are seven applications for my school graduates for every
For less than $1 billion, we could create 60,000 jobs for high school
kids. That`s the demographic that needs jobs the most, by just filling up
those slots – and, by the way, AmeriCorps invest in kids do great things
in our neighborhoods.
We have, in FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we have 300,000
foreclosed homes that belong to those three agencies. They`re sitting
there waiting for someone to buy them. It`s not going to happen in this
market. Let`s fix them up, spend money fixing them up, it will put a lot
of construction workers to work and the rent them to families and use the
rental income to offset the cost of the money to fix them up.
You know that part of the most successful part of the stimulus was, of
course, cash for clunkers. But there was also a great rebate for buying
energy efficiency appliances and weatherizing your homes. That was sold
out. Let`s put it back into place right now, October 1st, it will create a
lot of new activity and a lot of new jobs and do something good for the
So, there are a lot of good ideas out there, and if he spells it out
and shows the price tag is, people are going to look up and say you mean we
could create those decent jobs for “x”? Let`s do it.
And I think the momentum – the Republicans would then have a choice,
Rachel, do it and get the country moving again or explain why not?
And I think jobs, explaining why for a jobs bill is going to be hard
than debt limit and deficit reduction.
MADDOW: I`ll tell you, the more people I talk to about what`s
economically feasible right now, the more people seem to be zeroing in on
what you are saying, which is get granular, get specific, talk about very,
very specific programs here, it makes them harder to say no to.
RENDELL: I mean, think about that – 60,000 high school students, the
biggest unemployed demographic we`ve got in the country, put to work doing
good things for the country.
MADDOW: Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor, former DNC
chairman, MSNBC contributor – thanks again for joining us tonight, sir.
RENDELL: Fan of aliens.
MADDOW: Fan of aliens. See? He`s on their side. Prepare for the
mail, sir, it`s going to be overwhelming, trust me.
All right, thank you.
The billionaire Koch brothers have grown famous in the past couple of
years for throwing really freakishly large amounts of money at a host of
conservative causes. Right now, they are reportedly hit deep in the re-
segregation of public schools or at least the de-integration of some public
schools. Ed Schultz has the details right after this show here on MSNBC
And here, there is the best new thing in the world, which involves
ruining the day of a bunch of neo-Nazis, which is fun for the whole family.
It`s also the best thing that happened to t-shirts since they started
putting rings around the sleeves.
That`s all coming up.
MADDOW: Now that Tim Pawlenty has quit the Republican primary race,
other candidates will inevitably begin the process of however
lackadaisically seeking his endorsement. That`s how these things go. Even
if the endorsement won`t have an impact on your campaign, you want to keep
the other guys and gals from getting it.
So, it wasn`t that big of a surprise that Governor Rick Perry, the
newest guy to the race, reportedly placed a personal call to the former
Minnesota governor yesterday morning, called him personally – even though
we`re probably never going to be looking back at in awe at the great T-Paw
endorsement bump of 2012. But you never know.
Before it was apparently that Tim Pawlenty`s campaign was not going to
get off the ground, he was widely anticipated to be a top tier candidate
this year. He also let everybody know he was running really early in the
process. He set up his campaign staff early.
That early start in those high hopes helps Tim Pawlenty attract high
level professional Republican staff.
So, now, what happens to those Tim Pawlenty staffers now that there`s
no Tim Pawlenty campaign? What happens to those staffers who are really
some political spoils that might mean something in a Republican campaign?
Well, we`ll have to see. I mean, if you were a top Pawlenty staffer
and your guy just quit, where would you go now? Who would you want to sign
Tim Pawlenty`s top staffer in the first in the nation primary state of
New Hampshire has decided to sign up with – Jon Huntsman. One I think
vaguely, mnemonic, easy way to think about the Republican contenders right
now is to think about it in terms of the last Republican ticket which
competition to be the Sarah Palin style, very overtly religious social
issues, populist conservative Republican.
And there`s competition among the different group of Republican
candidates to be the more John McCain style candidate. Not super
religious, not very populist, not as social issues focused, the
establishment Republican candidate.
The competition for who wants to be Sarah Palin, of course, is still
crowded. That`s Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann and
The more establishment conservative McCain side of it, if you will,
used to be Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty. But now, Tim
Pawlenty is out of it, and it is a two-guy race between Mitt Romney and Jon
Huntsmen for that side of the Republican contest.
So even though Romney is definitely the front-runner, definitely the
favorite, here`s your wildcard issue. Are you ready? Here it is –
Michele Bachmann won the Ames straw poll over the weekend, for what that`s
Who came in second? Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who doesn`t fit
into any Republican pigeonhole, which makes him an interesting part of any
race he`s in. After a shockingly strong Ron Paul showing when he ran in
2008, a lot of elements of Ron Paul`s political message got co-opted over
the past four years by other Republican candidates this time around.
Criticizing the Federal Reserve, arcane and elaborate ideas about
monetary policy and gold bars, leave me alone pseudo-libertarian rhetoric
while also being very big government when it comes to abortion.
A lot of other candidates now have adopted some Ron Paul-ism on issues
But what Ron Paul got cheers for this year beyond his dedicated Ron
Paul cheering session, what he seems to be connecting on it, public events
like the debate so far this year is the part of his message that is to
bring the troops home. To bring the troops home, end the wars now,
isolationism that`s always part of his message.
Jon Huntsman who picked up a top Pawlenty staffer from New Hampshire,
Jon Huntsman is the only Republican candidate other then Ron Paul who is
trying to tap into that well about the wars, who is trying to work public
exhaustion with the wars and the desire to finally end them into his
political message this year.
Who knows? Maybe Jon Huntsman and he`ll be out soon, too, leaving
that side of the nomination fight to Mitt Romney. But if he is not out
soon, watch for the wars and an explicit bring the troops home message from
Jon Huntsman to be the political wildcard for him.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today is something I found out
about on one of the websites that most justifies the existence of the
entire Internet, boingboing.net, home base of Xeni Jardin and Cory Doctorow
and frankly at least 15 of the most interesting minutes I spend online on
any given day.
Boingboing recently posted the story of a German rock festival for
neo-Nazis. About 600 white supremacist skinheads turned out to rock out to
bands like Radical and Burning Hate. The first 250 skinheads to show up to
the racist concert got this free t-shirt. It says in German, “Hardcore
rebels, national and free.”
Unbeknownst to the racist skinheads who might be expected to admire
that design on the free t-shirt, these t-shirts were actually donated to
the concert by a group called Exit Deutschland, a group that counsels neo-
Nazis to change, to help them escape from the neo-Nazi movement.
So, Exit Deutschland gives 250 racist skinheads, this guy nationalist
looking hard core t-shirts, but they are t-shirts that have an anti-Nazi
trick when you wash them. “Hardcore rebels national and free” goes away,
and instead what appears again in German is – what your t-shirt can do you
also can do. We will help you free yourself from right wing extremism.
And it gives Exit Deutschland`s web address.
This is the kind of activism stunt you can really only try once, but
it`s great that first time. Aside from punking neo-Nazis which is fun for
the whole family in any country, this is also really kind of cool t-shirt
washing technology, and it`s today`s best new thing in the world. All the
details we`ve got on this plus a link to Boingboing`s coverage is at
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE ED SHOW.”
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