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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/07/11

Guests: Ali Soufan, Lawrence Lessig

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Happy Friday. Thanks a lot. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: Thank you. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. When Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, you may remember that his campaign theme that year was building a bridge to the 21st century. That campaign theme worked, Bill Clinton, of course, was re- elected. And at his second inaugural address, he kept the theme going. It was all bridge, bridge, bridge, end of this century, start of a new one, over and over again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this last presidential inauguration of the 20th century, let us lift our eyes toward the challenges that await us in the next century. Let us build our bridge. (APPLAUSE) CLINTON: A bridge wide enough and strong enough for every American to cross over. From the height of his place and the summit of this century, let us go forth. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I love inaugural addresses. I love all inaugural addresses, no matter the president. But as a theme for a campaign and for a re- election and a second term, that whole heading into a new century thing made sense because we were in the late 1990s -- zooming toward the 2000s. So new century, new millennia. The whole thing was very big at the time. 2000, zero party, over -- OK. All right. OK. Party like it`s 1999. Y2K freak-out. It was all very zeitgeisty at the time. Chronologically, the whole idea of bridge to the 21st century made sense as a `90s campaign slogan. But, then, having survived Y2K, having eaten all the food we stored, having crossed over into the new century, having made it to now to the first decade of the new century and having started into the second decade of the new century, today, the man who would like to be the next president of the United States and who has a pretty good shot at it, declared a start of a new century. Today, in 2011 -- either 89 years early or 11 years late depending on what you think he meant. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me make this very clear. As president of the United States, I will devote myself to an American century. This century must be an American century. In an American century, American has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world. The 21st century can and must be an American century. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination depending on how Rick Perry and Herman Cain are doing today, Mitt Romney chose today, the tenth anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war, to declare his big vision of America in the world. Despite choosing the ten-year anniversary of the Afghanistan war as the occasion for this big speech, he did not actually say anything about Afghanistan in the speech, substantively. He said if elected president, he would convene a group to study the issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I`ll order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military, to secure that nation`s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban. I`ll speak with our generals in the field and receive the best recommendations of our military commanders. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On the war`s 10-year anniversary, that is his big idea on Afghanistan. I will look into it. But, mostly, the big Mitt Romney next Republican president vision rollout this week was about making this big speech today and making the announcement of his very long list of foreign policy advisers, which actually explains why he was talking about a new American century 89 years before it`s due. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: In an American century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world. The 21st century can and must be an American century. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Of the 22 people who Mitt Romney has now named as his foreign policy advisers, 15 of them are people who worked on foreign policy under the George W. Bush administration -- 15 of the 22. About a half dozen of them are former members of the Project for the New American Century. Remember them? Project for the New American Century was the neoconservative think tank that was arguing for an American invasion of Iraq all the way back into the 1990s. And, again, for them, like for Bill Clinton the name sort of made sense -- since they started before the end of the last century, talking about a new American century. The group did survive, though, for a hot minute into the 2000s. Nine days after 9/11, they are the ones who wrote to President Bush saying Saddam Hussein might have helped in the 9/11 attacks. And even if Saddam didn`t help, any counterterrorism strategy after 9/11 that didn`t include invading Iraq, quote, "will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender." The Project for the New American Century has folded now, for obvious reasons. Their Web site is still up, though. It`s like a time capsule of "I was wrong" incorporated. Saddam did 9/11 stuff and we`ll remake the Middle East in our own image and we`ll be greeted as liberators and all the rest of it. Seriously, visit it sometime. It`s like a time travel back to the worst losing arguments in foreign policy in the last decade. Having been so discredited by the Iraq war disaster, the Project for the New American Century people closed up shop. They did basically re-open under a different name -- a rather obscure name, foreign policy initiative. Which I think not by accident is much less Google-able than their old name. But with the greatest foreign policy failure in American history hung around their necks, with the Project for the New American Century, neocon fantasy a punch line now, Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate has decided to embrace them. Romney picked six New American Century guys and three of the four board members of the new group that replaced it to be his advisers on foreign policy. He`s essentially set on reconstituting the major parts of the George W. Bush foreign policy apparatus. He`s even picked the ones that you would think could really never work in Washington again. For example, do you remember the lie making into President Bush`s State of the Union Address? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The whole uranium from Africa thing is traced back in the Bush administration in terms of who they blame for that, getting into that speech. It`s traced back to a man named Robert Joseph. He was the specific guy in the White House who reportedly pushed the White House to include the "uranium from Africa" thing in that Bush speech. Saddam Hussein was not seeking uranium from Africa. That was not true. It should not have been in the State of the Union Address or used as evidence for why she would go to war. And if you were the guy responsible for that -- I mean, we do not banish people in this country. You`re not going to be exiled. But you know what you can`t work on anymore? You can`t work anymore talking about people getting uranium from Africa. You can`t be that guy. You can`t work on proliferation anymore. It is the one thing in which you have not only discredited yourself, but by your actions, you basically discredited our entire country. You can work on anything you want. You can become a color by numbers genius. You can invent a new form of recycling container. You can write amazing sci-fi novels. You can be a stay at home dad, but you cannot work on the whole weapons of mass destruction thing anymore. If you are the uranium from Africa guy, that is the one thing you can not do. Mitt Romney named the uranium from Africa guy co-chair of his counter-proliferation working group. The uranium from Africa guy is going to be Mitt Romney`s uranium from Africa guy. That`s like hiring John Ensign to be your marriage counselor. This would be like hiring somebody from Blackwater to advise you on saying forward-looking foreign policy. Oh, wait, Cofer Black, the former CIA official who left in the middle of the Bush presidency to become an executive at Blackwater, he has also been named a Mitt Romney foreign policy adviser. Mitt Romney picked up Dan Senor, the guy who the Bush administration sent over to be the spokesman for the coalition provisional authority in Iraq. A former staffer for the Coalition Provisional Authority acknowledged that Mr. Senor`s press office would send out targeted good news about the war press releases to the American media during the `04 presidential campaign in order to deflect criticism of President Bush. Once somebody admitted you did that in war on behalf of your country, you`re never supposed to be able to work in politics again. "The Washington Times" which is not a mainstream newspaper, but is a conservative newspaper and therefore gets a lot of conservatives to talk to them, "The Washington Times" found a prominent conservative foreign policy observer today to give this assessment of Mitt Romney`s newly announced list of who`s advising him on foreign policy. Quote, "There are some good people on this list and some crappy people. It`s like they stood on a street corner and screamed, who doesn`t have a job?" It turns out a lot of people who don`t have jobs in this field don`t have jobs because of what they did in the field during the George W. Bush administration. What they did to the world and what they did to the country. But Mitt Romney has given them a soft landing, on the tenth anniversary of the start of a war that is still going on. To be fair to George W. Bush, when that president, when George W. Bush announced the start of the Afghanistan war ten years ago, he did counsel patience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose. In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In the months, months ahead. By patience, President Bush counseled that it might take months. That administration was thinking about starting a new war on top of the one that was still going on in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the American public to sit tight. In December of 2002, he said everything was looking pretty good in Afghanistan. Asked by CNN`s Larry King, "What`s the current situation in Afghanistan?" Secretary Rumsfeld replied, "It is encouraging. The Taliban are gone. The al Qaeda are gone." That was nine years ago. Right now, there are roughly 100,000 Americans still in Afghanistan. President Obama`s current plan would have them out not by the end of this year, not by the end of next year, not by the end of the year after that, but by the end of 2014. We have never had a decade-long war in this country before. Afghanistan became the longest war in American history last summer. So we are in unchartered territory in terms of what we`re asking America`s military and military families to do on our behalf. The Pew Research Center just polled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans about the wars and about America`s life during wartime. Fifty percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets say the Afghanistan war was worth fighting, 50 percent of them say it was, 50 percent of them say it wasn`t. That`s more than the country at large but not much more. Here`s the really striking thing, though, that has far reaching consequences for us as a country. Not just for what we`ve done, but for what we do next. If you ask Iraq and Afghanistan veterans about the distance between people in the military and their families who have been at war for 10 solid years now, if you ask about the distance between them and the rest of the country, if you ask Iraq and Afghanistan veterans if after 10 years of the military fighting these wars the rest of the country understands military personnel, if you ask them whether the public at large gets them and their family and their issues right now -- 84 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say no. That is horrifying. That chasm, this yawning gap between American civilian life and the American military`s life in the last 10 years is horrifying. The radically different experiences in the 10 years since 9/11 for military families and non-military families, that is fundamental change for who we are and for who we will be moving forward. Joining us now is Ali Soufan, former FBI special agent whose interrogation proved the first 9/11 link to al Qaeda just after the attacks, the link that led to the start of the Afghanistan war. His new book, of course, is called "The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda." Ali Soufan, it is great to have you back. Thank you for being here. ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: You were there, literally there in the room as we connected 9/11 to al Qaeda, and al Qaeda to Afghanistan, and eventually thus started the American war. Given that start in our goals then, does it make sense to you that 10 years on, we still plan to have tens of thousands of troops there for years to come? SOUFAN: It`s interesting if you asked me that when we figured out that al Qaeda was behind the attacks of 9/11 and on the eve of the Afghanistan war. I could have told you now, it`s really impossible to think that 10 years later, we`re still in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan war lasted longer more than World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War. This is really interesting -- interesting phenomenon. And as you mentioned, new charted water for us. MADDOW: When you think about this as a counterterrorism expert, you became an operative at the highest levels. The whole idea of why we are still there in Afghanistan is counterinsurgency, the idea that our presence will provide security and essentially build up Afghan institutions so that the Afghan people want their government more than they want this insurgency and that that will have an effect on whether or not that society still produces terrorists that can pose a threat to us. Do you see those as linked? Do you believe that argument? Does it work for you? SOUFAN: No, I truly don`t believe that argument, especially when it comes to Afghanistan. I don`t believe in the argument, a nation -- state- building in Afghanistan. You know, Afghanistan is divided into many different factions, many different tribal factions, many different ethnic factions. You have the Uzbeks, you have the Tajik, you have the Hazara who are Shiites. You have the Pashtun. The Pashtun tribes, they are divided between northern Pashtun and southern Pashtun. And if you look at the landscape 10 years later of at least from the insurgency side, you have the Taliban. Not all the Taliban are Mullah Omar Taliban. There are different factions based on tribal and clans and so forth. But, also, there`s the Haqqani Network. And the Haqqani Network don`t actually present Haqqani Network. They are the proxy for Pakistan and the ISI in Afghanistan. So, there`s a lot of regional issues that we have to take into consideration, a lot of tribal issues that we have to take into consideration. A lot of ethnic issues that we have to take into consideration. For example, the Hazara, their loyalty is to Iran and Iran has a lot of control over them. The Uzbeks, they have very strong relationship with Russian. The Tajik, they have very strong relationship with Tajikistan and with different allies that they have in Central Asia. Haqqani, Jalaluddin Haqqani -- Jalaluddin Haqqani historically from, as early as the Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, he was the ISI`s main man. He was a deputy of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, maybe a lot of people forget that name, but that name was very important in Afghanistan during the Soviet jihad. And after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, the leaders of the mujahedeen start fighting with each other. The Pakistan said, look, we cannot tolerate -- this is happening in Afghanistan because Afghanistan is a strategic depth into Pakistan. So, they created what we now the Taliban today, under Mullah Omar. And the moment they created the Taliban, and the Taliban took over Kabul and defeated all the other leaders of the mujahedeen, immediately, Haqqani switched alliances and he became part of the Taliban because ISI asked him to be part of the Taliban. And Mullah Omar gave him a position as a minister for tribal affair in the very first Taliban government. So, now, the strategy that we have in Afghanistan is basically a strategy to pull out in 2014. The Pakistan strategy is how they can have their proxy in control of Afghanistan after we pull out and that`s what we see today. That struggle that`s happening and the emergence of Haqqani Network as a major player in Afghanistan. MADDOW: And in the absence of an indefinite American presence as adopting Afghanistan as the 51st state, there`s no effect that we`re going to have on that -- SOUFAN: These people have been killing each other hundreds of years and they will continue unfortunately to kill each other for hundreds of years. We need to leave, but we need to leave in a way that we can guarantee that Afghanistan won`t be a launch pad for transnational terroristic groups to attack the West and attack the United States. So, in order to have the security guarantees, we have to have regional agreements and tribal agreements in the country. You can put 200,000 troops in Afghanistan and that`s not going to make a difference. MADDOW: The book is called "Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda" -- Ali, because you are here, I have to ask you something personally as a favor. I`ve been using your book essentially as an almanac since it came back -- it came out. Will you publish an e- book like version of an index for this book? There`s no freaking index of this book. I`m constantly looking stuff up in it and it really stops me. SOUFAN: That`s actually a very good question. MADDOW: It`s Gofer Black. Now that he`s been picked by Mitt Romney, Gofer Black stars in your book. You need an index, dude. SOUFAN: Well, we had an index. However, the CIA as part of a redaction pulled it out and they said that we cannot put the index, we cannot even put the picture of me or my wife in the book in heaven`s sake. But as I mentioned on the first page of the book, we`re working on that and we`re hoping all the redactions will be taken care off, and we`re hoping that the index that we have, but it`s considered redacted, will be part of the book. MADDOW: I may start producing a wiki index just of Mitt Romney advisers in your book between now and then. Don`t rush me. Ali Soufan, thank you so much for being here. SOUFAN: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you. MADDOW: You probably do not know a 96-year-old lady from Tennessee named Dorothy Cooper. But after you meet her in a minute, you will not forget her, nor will you be able to forget how important her story is about who`s going to be the next president. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Best New Thing in the World Today" coming up at the end of the show, involves some free range facial hair, a goat, my executive producer, and a bunch of other things that sound really dirty when you put them in a list but I swear they aren`t. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is Dorothy Cooper. Ms. Cooper is 96 years old. She was born in north Georgia on or about the year 1915. At the time Ms. Cooper was born, America did not allow women to vote. Women did not yet have that right. In 1919, when Dorothy Cooper was still a tiny tot, the U.S. Congress passed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave women the right to vote. But before the amendment could go into the Constitution and go into effect, the states, of course, had to have their say. They had to ratify it. Georgia where Dorothy Cooper was growing up at the time said no to letting women vote. Georgia lawmakers voted against ratifying that amendment. Men only voting for Georgia. Ultimately, though, enough other states agreed to the 19th Amendment that it became the law of the land in 1920. Georgia still didn`t get around to extending that supposed federal right to women, that constitutional right for another year until 1921. They didn`t get around to ratifying the amendment until 50 years later in 1970. But lucky for the women voters of Georgia, a federal right is a federal right even if Georgia`s men wanted to keep that vote all to themselves. When Dorothy Cooper grew up, she left Georgia, she moved to the city. Se she moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to work and start a family. Tennessee, as it happens, was the state that pushed the 19th Amendment over the edge, to let women vote. The state that gave the final yes vote needed for ratification. And Dorothy Cooper, as a new Tennessee resident, enthusiastically exercised her right -- her right to vote. Starting in the 1930s, she voted in pretty much every election she could. She voted in the race between FDR and Alf Landon. Remember Alf Landon? Me neither. Don`t sweat it. She`s voted in the race between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. She voted without any trouble. She says, even in the very Southern state of Tennessee, before Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to protect African-American access to the polls. In the 1960, Dorothy Cooper did break her string of perfect attendance at the polls. She missed voting in that year, in the Kennedy/Nixon race. The only time Ms. Cooper ever played hooky from an election, she said she just moved before Election Day and she did not have time to update her registration. So, other than that sort of glitch in 1960, though, Dorothy Cooper from the 1930s until today, Dorothy Cooper voted. She voted every single time. She voted in 2010 when Republicans gained control of both chambers of Tennessee`s state legislature and the governorship for the first time since reconstruction. The newspapers promised, quote, "far reaching ramifications from the Republican takeover in Tennessee." One of those far reaching ramification was that for the very first time in her very long life in Tennessee, Dorothy Cooper is now finding it very hard to vote. This year, the new Republican Tennessee legislature passed a law requiring people to show ID they never had to show people in order to cast a ballot. During the debate, Democrats tried to insert an amendment exempting senior citizens from the new rule, but Republicans rejected it. The bill passed. On June 1st, the new Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam signed it into law. And now, for the first time in Tennessee, in order to vote, you have to show an ID that 500,000 Tennesseans do not have, including Dorothy Cooper -- Ms. Cooper, whose story appears this week in the "Chattanooga Times Free Press." Ms. Cooper found out last month that she`d need a photo ID to vote. She`s never been a driver, so she does not have a license to show at the polls. But she does have documents. She has all the accumulated documents of a normal life lived normally when you`re 96. She went down to the local driver service center, the DMV, with a ton of documentation. She brought her lease, a rent receipt, her voter registration card, her birth certificate. Naturally, that 96-year-old birth certificate carries the name she was born with, Dorothy Alexander, instead of her married name, Dorothy Cooper. She says, quote, "I didn`t have my marriage certificate. I don`t know what difference it makes." Well, that day at the DMV in Tennessee, it made all the difference in the world because the clerk looked at all of those documents she brought and said no. No, Dorothy Cooper, age 96, voting in Tennessee since the 1930s. No, we will not give you the ID that you need now, all of a sudden, in Tennessee, in order to vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AL SHARPTON, "POLITICS NATION" HOST: Even during Jim Crow days, you didn`t have any problems voting in Tennessee? DOROTHY COOPER, TENNESSEE VOTER: No, I haven`t had any problems at all until this time. This is the only time that I`ve had any problems. SHARPTON: Do you feel that this is something that you never thought at this stage in your voting life that you`d have to face? Are you surprised that they would change and make these kinds of strict requirements at this stage in the game? COOPER: No, I never thought it would be like this ever. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Dorothy Cooper said she never expected this. But at least she does have company in her predicament. Half a million of her fellow Tennesseans do not have the right ID either. And only a third of Tennessee`s counties have a DMV office for you to haul your documents to for the clerk to decide whether or not you meet the requirements. The Republican state senator who sponsored the new law, Bill Ketron, called the new law, necessary to, quote, "protect the purity of the ballot box." Casting out the manifest impurity, I guess, that is Dorothy Cooper. That`s what it looks like in Tennessee right now where Republicans have succeeded in making it harder to vote for Dorothy Cooper and for a lot of other people. As we have been talking on this all year, this isn`t just about Tennessee. Republicans are doing this all across the country with state law. Republicans in Kansas passed a law this year that requires you to prove your citizenship when you register to vote. So, think about it -- you`re at the supermarket, the nice lady from the League of Women Voters is there at the card table out front -- are you registered to vote, sir? Would you like to register? Yes, you would like to register. Great idea. OK. Do you have your passport on you there at the grocery store? How about your birth certificate on you at the grocery store? If not, sorry, not in Kansas. Not anymore. In swing states like Florida and Ohio, Republicans have cut the time for early voting, or absente voting, or both. In Colorado, the Republican secretary of state ordered Pueblo County, a very Democratic county, not to mail ballots to troops overseas who had not voted since the big election in 2010 or re-upped their registration. The state considers them inactive voters. Maybe they`re a little busy fighting a war or whatever -- but no ballots for them. We have to protect the purity of the ballot box. From the troops trying to protect us? Tonight, we can report that Pueblo County has sent those ballots out to the troops after the intervention today of court ruling today against the secretary of state in a related case. Pueblo County`s clerk, Gilbert Ortiz, told us tonight that sending those ballots to the troops is the right thing to do even if the Republican secretary of state initially tried to stop him from doing it. Mr. Ortiz telling us tonight that even with the legal issues not all settled, he has gone ahead and sent out the ballots to the troops. That`s the way voting is being challenged and defended now, mostly at the state and the local level. This is not being seen as a national story yet. But voting is a federal right. Last week, President Obama said access to the polling place matters to him and his administration and that he would like to do something about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATEES: I will say that my big priority is making sure that as many people are participating in our democracy as possible. Some of these moves in some of the other states that we`ve seen trying to make it tougher to vote, restricting ballot access, making it hard on seniors, making it hard on young people, I think that`s a big mistake. And I have made sure that our Justice Department`s taken a look at what`s being done across the country to insure that people aren`t denied access to the franchise. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama in an interview with Michael Smerconish saying that the Justice Department will look into the many changes in state law that are making it harder for Americans to vote this year. This is not one where you can troubleshoot for a particular problem. This is not one- off matter of what`s happening in Florida, or Ohio, or Maine, or Kansas, or Colorado, or Tennessee. It`s not just Dorothy Cooper. This map from the Brennan Center for Justice shows the states that tried to pass new requirements that you show ID you never had to show before in order to vote. These are the states that tried, Republican states. Enough of them succeed in making it harder to vote that the new laws could affect millions of people next year, people who are disproportionately young and/or poor, and/or minority. In other words, people who are traditionally part of the Democratic base. And this is important. It`s not coincidental, and it is perhaps more to the point to note that there are enough states now that have passed new laws to make voting harder to swing the Electoral College, to decide who gets to be president in the 2012 election. The laws thin out and preclude likely Democratic voters in more than half of the states you need to win the presidency. Is that who Republicans are trying to protect the purity of the ballot box from, from Democrats? Likely Democrat voters? Is that the goal? Because that is going to be the effect? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back in March when Newt Gingrich was just thinking, considering, noodling around, kicking around the idea of thinking of maybe running for president, he put up this Web site, Newt Explore 2012, send cash right away to help Newt make up his mind. And those smiling diverse Americans on the Web site there in the photo looking admiringly up at Newt, they are available to look admiringly up at just anybody with a few shackles and an Internet hookup. They`re a stock photo. They are for sale. The people looking in different directions, engaged in various patriotic activities -- except for the guy in the middle breaking character. What is he doing? Or when they have to break and make that call, of course. All available for purchase. But now our friends in the stock photo are doing something altogether new. As you can see here, they are occupying Wall Street, at least according to These are the 99 percent protesting the 1 percent that own 50 percent of everything. As reported by NPR, was registered as a Web site this Sunday using a post office box in Brisbane, Australia, which is not the heart of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests. But the site does seem poised to place well on Internet searches for people looking for information about "Occupy Wall Street" or people looking for Newt Gingrich`s fake adoring crowd. What ever happened to those guys? The interview tonight about "Occupy Wall Street" and many other issues is with the great Lawrence Lessig. I`m really nervous. I`m really excited that he`s going to be here. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT STRAWN, IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: One thing we`ve been very clear on in Iowa is that we do plan to be first in the nation with our first of the nation caucuses. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Today, we learned that the Iowa Republican Party has settled on a tentative date for their first in the nation caucuses. Tentative date, January 3rd, the date party officials agreed to which means the process of voting for president officially begins on the third day of 2012, which means we will be voting for president for 10 months. And so, now, more than a year before the election, campaign season is already well under way. Campaign season it turns out is basically forever now. And that leaves politicians of both parties with hardly any time in office to do what they`re supposed to do between elections which is, of course, raising money. New estimates out this week are that TV ads alone for the 2012 election will total more than $3 billion. We`re told to expect that almost a quarter billion dollars, quarter billion of that, will come just from Karl Rove`s group, the American Crossroads group, which announced last month they were doubling their fund- raising goal to $240 million. Ninety-two percent of the millions they raise this year, so far, was from three people, three zillionaires. So, that fund-raising isn`t going to be hard. Welcome to post-Citizens United America, where every season is campaign season, where every campaign season is driven by cash, and where there`s so much cash, the cash only counts if you can divide it into $100 million increments. We are not much for public intellectuals in this country. We have celebrities and politicians and activists, but public intellectuals we do not have many. Lawrence Lessig is one of the few public intellectuals that we have as a nation. Today, the way you can tell that is because, now, on the occasion of his profound and comprehensive new book on the routine corruption of money and politics, Lawrence Lessig`s talks about money and politics are being remixed with video of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests -- for explanation and for inspiration. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAWRENCE LESSIG, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: The framers of our Constitution gave us a republic, representative democracy, democracy to be dependent upon the people alone. But here`s the problem, members of Congress spending between 30 percent and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe, quote, "money buys results in Congress." Eleven percent of Americans have confidence in Congress -- 11 percent. Just think what that means. There were more people who believed in King George III at the time of the revolution than who believe in our Congress today. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the interview is Lawrence Lessig, he`s professor at Harvard Law School and the author of the new book, "Republic Law: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It." Professor Lessig, I`ve been nervous and excited to talk to you. Thank you so much for being here. LESSIG: It`s really great to be here. MADDOW: I`m a fan of yours. LESSIG: Me, too. MADDOW: Oh. LESSIG: Of you. MADDOW: Well, let`s just leave that alone. The process of raising money, the amount of time that it takes, the proportion of a member of Congress` life that is taken up by the pursuit of campaign money in order to stay a member of Congress -- is the money process, itself, what corrupts, or is it specifically about where the money comes from? LESSIG: I think it`s both. The first thing to recognize is that this corruption is not the kind of Rod Blagojevich corruption. This is not criminal activity. These are decent people that are just trying to live in a terrible system. But as they spend their time, 30 percent to 70 percent of their time trying to raise money, it begins to shape shift them and they`re constantly are aware how anything they might do will affect their ability to raise money. Leslie Byrne, a Democrat from Virginia, describes that when she went to Congress, quote, she was told, quote, always lean to the green and then to clarify, the guy continued -- she continued, he was not an environmentalist. The point is they recognize exactly how they can raise the most money and that begins to affect exactly the policies that they pursue. MADDOW: Is there any opting out option for a member of Congress? If somebody gets elected to Congress because of something other than a ton of money or maybe because of a ton of money, once they get there, can they opt out and survive as a member of Congress if they choose not to do with the fund-raising thing? LESSIG: Well, probably not, but the one big pressure increasingly they have is a tax for their own party. Members have to raise money for their own party as well as for themselves. So, the constant focus of Democratic policy or Republican policy is actually a focus on capacity of members to continue to raise money so that the party can regain control or to maintain control. So, the shift, and you talk to people like Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee, who described for me Congress as a farm league for K. Street, the shift from a Congress that was really working out policy issues, to a Congress that is really working out fund-raising issues is profound. And it`s really just in the last 20 years. This is not something that was 30 years ago. MADDOW: And that is a really important point. I think in terms of not feeling hopeless about it and angry about it in an impotent way. That it wasn`t always this way and doesn`t have to be this way. What got us to this point -- and as you say, in a relatively recent timeframe? LESSIG: So, Newt Gingrich got us to this point. When Republicans took over control of the House and the House and the Senate and then Congress was up for grabs. It created huge competition for both parties to continue to keep control. And leadership in both parties began to demand, not leadership on policy issues, but leadership on the capacity to raise money. So they became full-time fund-raisers. You know, spending the vast majority of their time focused on this issue rather than focused on the issues that are important to America. And that has had a profound effect, not just on what Congress does -- I mean, there`s a great story in "The Huffington Post" about how in the first six months of the year, the number one issue that Congress focused on in the middle of two wars, huge unemployment problem, huge deficit problem. But the number one issue was the bank swipe fee issue. And why was that? That was because if you dance around with $19 billion on the table and act like you`re a coy and not quite sure which way to go, money begins to rain down on top of your campaign. So the whole agenda of Congress gets driven by the issues that will raise the most money. So, you wonder why we don`t pay attention to unemployment. Turns out unemployment doesn`t raise a lot of money for congressmen and their campaigns. MADDOW: The proscriptive element of your book, I think, the diagnostic part of it, is fascinating. And you are legendary for being able to explain things well in this sort of tightly constrained use of visual media. Even in the book, is really helpful. But it is the prescriptive part of it that I think makes this important. And -- not to be too long winded -- but it`s essentially I feel both good and bad about it. I am buoyed by the fact that you see this not as good members of Congress and bad members of Congress, but a bad system. And that gives us some hope that it could have, as you say, cross-partisan solution. We could solve it both from anger left and right. The thing I`m worried about is that I feel like all the potential solutions that all have to do with, you know, public financing instead of private financing of campaigns, I feel like they`re all being precluded by the Supreme Court. LESSIG: Well, the solution that I describe here -- a kind of citizen- funded, small dollar-funded election, would not be precluded even by this Supreme Court, even under the recent Arizona solution. It`s true solutions that try to silence people or block the ability to speak, this court said those are off the table. A system that said -- the proposal I have here is basically every voter has a $50 voucher, plus they can give $100 on top of that. And candidates who opt to take only $100 contributions can get the voucher money. That`s if every voter had $50, that`s $6 billion in an election cycle. That`s 2 1/2 times the total amount raised and spent in the last congressional election. So, that`s real money and that`s completely constitutional even under this Supreme Court`s session. The hard part, in my view, is not the Supreme Court. The hard part is the world inside the Beltway, that depends upon a system, where very small number of people fund campaigns so that lobbyists can leverage that influence to sell more lobbying services and, therefore, sell more access to members of Congress. Those people, that business, gets crushed if we had a system where the funders were actually the people, and they will fight like hell against any change that undermines that power. MADDOW: The idea that you get around that with -- through bottom-up democratic means is radical and interesting and presented in really concise form. And I`m not going to explain it now, A, because we`re out of time, and B, because I think people should read the book. I`m glad that you are doing a heavy duty book tour promoting this because you`re a good communicator about this. And it`s definitely important. I had Buddy Roemer on the show talking about these issues and I can`t tell you what an incredible response we had from our viewers talking Buddy Roemer of all people talking about these people and you tell his story and this overall story so well. So, thank you for doing this. LESSIG: Thank you. MADDOW: I know you could be doing a lot of different things. And thanks. LESSIG: I appreciate it. MADDOW: Lawrence Lessig is the author of the book. It`s called "Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop." OK, it has been almost a year since 33 Chilean minors were rescued after being trapped for months underground, an ordeal that was frankly riveting Tonight, Ed Schultz hosts a documentary about the miners` ordeal called "17 Days Buried." It`s pretty amazing stuff. It has exclusive interviews with the miners, themselves. It`s going to be airing tonight right after this show here on MSNBC. I recommend it. But, first here, "Best New Thing in the World Today." Or as it says on our rundown board in the office, if you can read my writing -- cat, goat, rat, squirrel. That`s just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This past week has been a good news week overall. For the running competition on our show to be named the Best New Thing in the World. This, for example, we cited with the best sarcastic thing from an American governor in the world. Governor Jerry Brown send thing letter to the California State Senate and I quote, "To the members of the California State Senate, I am signing SB-769 which allows for a dead mountain lion to be stuffed and displayed. This presumably important bill earned overwhelmingly support by both Republicans and Democrats. If only that same energetic, bipartisan spirit could be applied to creating clean energy jobs and to ending tax laws that send jobs out of state. Sincerely, Edmund G. Brown, Jr." Best new sarcastic thing by a governor definitely. Best country western single released by a conservative Democratic senator and reviewed this week by the "Omaha World Herald" newspaper, that award this week goes to Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who, in the song, sounds way more like Kermit the frog than I would have expected from him. But I mean it in a good way. (MUSIC) MADDOW: It`s not easy being Ben. Best country western single released by a conservative Democratic senator and reviewed this week by the "Omaha World Herald." Congratulations, Senator Nelson. But for the single best new thing in the whole world today, for what won, you must know that this happened at our show`s news meeting today. When the person pictured here, our executive producer and our boss, Bill Wolff, e-mailed this picture to his lovely wife Alison today, she e-mailed back instantly, how old are you? To which bill replied, "13," CC-ing the entire staff. Bill is not 13. If he was, that beard would not have so much gray in it. But the "Best New Thing in the World" that has inspired the beard and the shameless regression to the point of being dressed down by his wife and him being happy about it -- that is coming up at the end of the show. "Best New Thing in the World," it is awesome. That is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Billy Sianis is a rabid fan of the Chicago Cubs. Mr. Sianis was also a goat owner, the kind of goat owner who took his goat everywhere he went, including game 4 of the 1945 World Series between his Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. At the entrance of the ballpark, though, Mr. Sianis and his goat were denied entry. No animals allowed. This infuriated Mr. Sianis, who according to widely-believed legend, said, "The Cubs ain`t going to win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." Since that fateful day in 1945, the Cubs have not returned to the World Series. Every other team that existed in `45 and exists today has been to the World Series at least twice since then. But not the Cubs. That is the curse of the Billy goat. And then there`s the black cat curse. Late in the 1969 season, the same Chicago Cubs were in first place playing the New York Mets Shea Stadium when a black cat released from the stands crossed in front of the Cubs` dugout and reportedly hissed at the Cubs. Uh-oh! The Cubs lost that game, immediately nose-dived, going from first place to eight games behind the championship Mets. That`s the curse of the black cat. Sixteen years ago tomorrow, hockey player Scott Mellanby was in the locker room of his Florida Panthers when he saw a rat running across the locker room floor. He fearlessly slayed the rat by smashing it with his hockey stick and went on to score twice that night as the Panthers won 4-3. From that point forward, Florida Panther fans threw plastic rats by the hundreds on the ice to celebrate big goals and the rat-propelled Florida Panthers wound up in the Stanley Cup Final. So, that`s the opposite of a curse. That`s the victory vermin. But all of that brings us to now. This is my boss, our executive producer Bill Wolff. His team, the St. Louis Cardinals, are playing the Philadelphia Phillies in a deciding playoff game tonight. Bill`s concerned that we`ve already jinxed the Cardinals by even discussing that he is delusional. But how did the underdog Cardinals even get this far? They got this far by squirrel power. In Tuesday`s game in St. Louis, a squirrel darted across the field and hung out along the third baseline, delaying the game. The squirrel did not stay long and the Cards lost 3-2. But then Wednesday was different. Game 4, in St. Louis, fifth inning, the Cards` Skip Schumaker at the count. The Phillies pitcher delivered a pitch at almost the exact moment that the squirrel makes his dramatic return right in front of the plate. The immediate result was ball two. But in the next inning, the Cardinals unheralded David Freese hit a two-run home run to give the Cardinals a dramatic, unlikely 5-3 win. How certain of the squirrel`s power are the crazed denizens of St. Louis and Bill? The most famous phrase in St. Louis is the command for fans to "go crazy, folks," right? Say it to anybody from St. Louis and they will know what you mean. But, today, yes, that is a squirrel in a Cardinals` cap. Go nuts? Go nuts. Goat, cat, rat, squirrel, and the complex and comforting beauty of over-the-top sports superstition in America -- Best New Thing in the World Today. That does it for us tonight. Have an excellent weekend. We`ll see you again on Monday. Now, it`s time for "17 Days Buried Alive" hosted by Ed Schultz. Good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END