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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/03/12

Guests: Joe Cirincione

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. I`m looking forward to that. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Yes. Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. If you ever get a tweet from President Obama, you will know it by his signature. The president has an official Twitter account from which all sorts of on message things get tweeted all the time. But the White House says you will know when a tweet has been written by and sent by the president himself because in that case, the tweet gets a little initial signature. A "bo" in lower case, which kind of makes it look like it was maybe sent by the presidential dog, but it was not. It`s "bo" as in B.O., as in Barack Obama, as in "I the president wrote this tweet." If it was a dog, it would be the paw print. The president was writing his own tweet this afternoon. The string of Twitter messages -- the president wrote about the budget negotiations in Washington. The White House announcing in advance today that the president himself would be answering people`s questions about the negotiations in Washington. He`d be answering them directly on Twitter starting at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. It is kind of awesome that regular people can ask direct questions in real time of the leader of the free world. It`s like a town hall during the primaries, but you don`t have to go to New Hampshire in the winter for it. But doing this shows the unique risks of totally unmediated modern communication methods for very high profile people. Like, for example, there was this exchange this afternoon -- which does make sense and it is on message, even if at first it doesn`t seem that way. All right. Look, the person who`s writing the president here is called, "don`t be a prat". That`s their name on Twitter. That`s kind of the first pitfall, right? Here`s the president talking to somebody called "don`t be a prat". And here`s "don`t be a prat`s" question for the president. @BarackObama, that`s how you know this person is talking to the president. @Barack Obama, "As a recent college grad without a job, these cuts wouldn`t help me, would they?" Here`s the president`s response, to "don`t be a prat," from the president, he types that up. "Cuts without revenue equal reductions in student loans. Also work study and college tax credits expire. Bad for growth, like your hair." Bad for growth, like your hair. Right. No. Punctuation very important here. End of one thought, start of a new thought. So, all of those things that might happen in the negotiations, those are bad for growth. Also I like your hair. And indeed, when you look at the little avatar for `don`t be a prat", indeed, nice hair. I myself had blue hair once. More blue, less purple, but still. Direct public-to-president communications have potential risks, right? But paying those risks is one of the things that this White House has proven willing to do. It`s sort of part of the price of admission that they have been willing to pay for how this president is trying to win his first big political fight in D.C. after being reelected. The president`s e-mail system for contacting his supporters, being employed to ask the people who just voted for him to now contact Congress and take the president`s side in these negotiations over taxes and spending. The president asking people to use Twitter and Facebook and anything else they can in social media to weigh in on these negotiations in terms of contacting Congress. The president touring outside of Washington like it was still during the campaign, building up support for his side of the argument. All to increase his political capital in this fight he`s having with the Republicans in Congress. Now, the Republicans have not been shy in condemning the president for taking this populist approach in the way he`s trying to get his way in this big fight with them. The Republicans own strategy is basically the opposite to what the president is doing. They are keeping their side of the argument very firmly within the Beltway. They are not out barnstorming anybody on this. They are not asking the public to get involved. They are trying to make sure this conversation ventures no further afield than the Sunday morning talk shows. Let`s keep this in Washington, because it is in the belt beltway where the Republican side of the argument makes the most apparent sense. Right? I mean, there`s no suspense in how Washington, D.C. is going to vote in the election, right? But in the real world, out in the rest of the country, the president just won reelection and his party, the Democrats, picked up seats in the House and Senate at the same time. Before this election, which the Democrats did very well and the Republicans did not do well, before this election happened, the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, had proposed that revenues should be raised by this much. This was his pre-election offer. After the election, which his party lost, after contesting on these grounds, now after the election where his side lost, look at his new offer. Now, he`s offering this much new revenue. His offer has gone down. His offer since losing the election has gotten worse. You cannot have even what I offered you before the election. What election? That`s how the Republican House speaker is playing the game this week. And, you know, Maybe in the world of the beltway and the Sunday morning talk shows, maybe that makes sense. But in the real world, here`s what happened, here`s the bigger picture, right? Our economy broke very, very badly. Not long ago on a historic scale. And now in the real world, we are having these teeny, tiny little glimmers of recovery of economic growth. The first blue bar, that`s when the stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, went into effect. The stimulus kicks in and the economy starts to grow after having fallen off a cliff. That`s the real cliff, right? Just the other day, we learned that our latest teeny, tiny glimmer of growth was actually bigger than we had thought it was, which was awesome. The bad news, though, is that we are in danger of falling back. We are in real danger. The deficit is not the biggest problem in the country. The deficit is shrinking already by hundreds of millions of dollars every year the president has been president. I mean, to the extent we need to count on debt, we need to use debt to accomplish other goals, you may not like the idea in the abstract, but, honestly, debt is cheaper now than it has been in a long time. Focusing on the debt and deficit to the exclusion of everything else is like arguing about the color you might paint your car while you`re crashing that car into a tree. In Washington, the Republicans are arguing about not a pretend problem but something honestly that is a secondary or tertiary problem -- a problem that has no pressing real world need to be the one problem we wreck everything else to solve. If you look at the real economy in the real world right now, outside of Sunday morning, what everybody else in the country can tell, is what the economy needs right now is stimulus. You don`t need to take money out of the economy right now. You don`t need to further contract the economy. You need to stimulate the economy. The economists who track this stuff already think we`re not growing enough to get back to a healthy economy. On Friday morning, economists cut their estimate to for how much we are growing right now. And then they cut it again on Friday afternoon, because people are not making enough money and therefore, not spending enough money and businesses are not hiring enough people. We need to be talking about growth in this country. The problem we`ve got in this country is an economic growth problem. The problem is not the deficit. The deficit -- sure, nobody wants there to be a deficit, but that`s not exactly the pressing need we`ve got as a nation. Growing the economy, frankly, is also the only way we have gotten rid of red ink in the past, right? When Americans are better off, they pay more in taxes. With more tax revenue, the government can pay for the usual things. Plus, we can pay down the debt. President Clinton, that surplus he left behind, he got that surplus partly from raising revenue, raising taxes. But also he did it in a way that grew the economy and the nation prospered and the debt became sort of no big deal and then all of a sudden, the debt was gone and the debt clocks that were supposed to be scary got shut off and have to run the other direction. That was because of prioritizing economic growth and being willing to raise revenues. Look when we started growing again after the Great Recession. It was not long after the stimulus kicked in, right? The government spent money and the economy grew. That`s how it works. That`s why it used to be a sort of Beltway consensus that when the economy needed to grow, you needed economic stimulus in terms of your fiscal policy. But now, this beltway discussion about how we need to make sure that we contract the economy as much as possible and causes much pain as possible to the people who will be hurt the most by that contracting, maybe that works and makes sense on Sunday morning inside the beltway, but the rest of us go to work during the week and sometimes we go to parties. And, right now, as we speak, here`s the scene in Washington, right? We`re at the White House, which Bo Obama has shown us all what it looks like for the holidays. Tonight is the first White House Christmas party of the season. It`s the White House Christmas party for members of Congress - - John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, the top three House Republicans are all there at the White House alongside President Obama tonight. And so, E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, Brookings Institution senior fellow, friendliest person in the whole Sunday morning circuit -- while those guys are standing over the punch bowl, what should President Obama be saying to them to get them to focus on what the country needs, as opposed to what sounds so good on Sunday? E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I think I might say and do a couple things. I would have two really beautiful leather bound volumes and say to them, happy -- merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah. These are the county by county returns from the last election bound in this beautiful leather. You might want to study these. You know, it`s not 2010 anymore so let`s figure out what to do. And I think the second thing I`d say is, you know, this is a religious season so we think of religious folks. You know, St. Augustine once said, "Dear Lord, give me chastity, but not yet." And that`s how you guys are with taxes. You sent me this letter. You say $800 million in taxes from tax reform, but we`ll figure it out next year. And no, we need the money now. And, by the way, tell us what deductions you get rid of and maybe you can give me a specific proposal where you outline those cuts and then we can negotiate and maybe we`ll get this settled by Christmas. MADDOW: The first point about the election returns I think is a beautiful idea and makes me want to commission that from somebody, leather tooled volumes. But there is this remarkable thing that John Boehner is doing, which is that he did have an offer on the table before the election. That got worse after the election. And I`m assuming this is just some sort of hard- nose negotiating tactic. But at some point, how does his bluff get called on that? He can`t reasonably expect that after this election, he might get more than what he wanted before the election. DIONNE: I think the bluff can get called in two ways. We can always go past January 1st and then all the taxes come back and we can start from there. And that`s why I don`t think people should be worried about the fiscal slope or whatever we want to call it. These are bunch of artificially-imposed deadlines to create a frenzy. They`re there for political reasons. So, that`s one thing that can happen. But I think a second thing can happen is you`ve got Tom Cole out there, the Republican from Oklahoma, who said, you know, we`re crazy if we don`t extend the middle class tax cuts. It`s politically smart. I think you could see more Republicans get there. And that`s why I`m really glad President Obama is not negotiating both for himself and for the Republicans, which was sometimes his habit the last time. He`s basically saying, you want a whole bunch of cuts I don`t have. You propose them. Don`t make me propose them. And I think that`s creating some pressure on them. And I think both those things will have an effect. But, you know, we`ll get the taxes back if we do nothing. MADDOW: The conversation in Washington being separate from what it feels like the real needs of the country, what were the real needs are a familiar feeling for me. I often have this frustration that the Beltway discussion is just not what the important questions are that are facing the country. But in this case, I feel like as long as we`re willing to talk about the economic needs of the country, as long as we`re willing to talk about fiscal policy, how can it be we`re not talking about new stimulus? I realize the Republicans ran against that as if the stimulus was this awful thing. But then the Republicans lost and we have an economic growth problem now. I wonder if you see sort of signs of hope in what the president is asking for there in the way people are talking about the need to goose economic growth. DIONNE: Well, there were three good things in his proposal. One is $50 billion to create an infrastructure bank, which, by the way, Republicans ought to like because it`s a public/private partnership. He also says -- and I think he`s absolutely right about this -- we`ve got to extend unemployment insurance and we should extend the payroll tax holiday another year, because we don`t want to take all that money out of people`s hands when the economy is this shaky. The money to average Americans is more stimulative than to rich folks. You wouldn`t do damage by those on the rich, if any. And there are other things you could do. I think they should speed the resolution of some of these mortgages that are under water. We could take a lot of pressure off the economy. I`d like to see something like a holiday on student loans or something to cut back what people owe on that. The other I like is an old idea that died, which was an idea for school improvements all over the country. There are a lot of schools in our country, particularly in poor neighborhoods, that aren`t in good shape. And these projects don`t need new permits. They`re in existing schools. We could get good money out there and it would do something really good, which would make kids proud of their schools. MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, relentlessly constructive as always, which always makes me happy to talk to you. "Washington Post" columnist, Brookings Institution senior fellow -- E.J., thank you. DIONNE: Great to be with you. MADDOW: All right. President Obama said that he was not going to make a big speech this afternoon. But then he ended up kind of making a big speech about the subject that he cared most about when he was Senator Obama. There`s lots to get to tonight. That`s coming up next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The president gave a funny, informal speech where he talked about traveling as a young, brand new senator with Republican Senator Dick Lugar. They were in Ukraine together. And Senator Obama had to be told by his hosts to please not touch the TNT -- as in please do not touch the explosives, sir. The speech today from the president was full of stuff I had never heard him talk about before. It had a lot of very funny anecdotes in it. At times, we got some of the funniest stuff coming up in just a moment. But there was one very serious moment in the same speech. It appeared to be just a serious digression in the middle of this otherwise fairly informal set of remarks from the president. And when the president made this digression in the middle of this otherwise informal speech today, his digression made headlines around the world. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There will be consequences. What will those consequences be? No one is saying, but everybody who is saying there are consequences are saying it in a way that we are supposed to believe would be a very big deal. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a red line for the United States. I`m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Apparently, we are planning to take action. When a conflict has been going on somewhere in the world for a long time, it`s sometimes hard to tell when a development in that far-away conflict in that war crosses the line into being a big deal, into being a newsworthy thing for the world. What is maybe happening in Syria is one of those things that crosses the line. You can tell in part because both the president and the American secretary of state today about it today and threatened that the U.S. is going to act in response. Now, I do not know exactly what that means and neither do you, but we`re probably not talking about a sternly-worded letter here. When we talk about Syria having chemical weapons, we`re talking about like the nerve agents, Sarin and VX. We`re talking about mustard gas. Do you remember the doomsday cult that released Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system back in the mid-`90s? They killed 13 people, they seriously injured 50 people. They temporarily blinded a thousand people. Imagine that but with weapons grade sarin disseminated by missile. The "Associated Press" says today that Syria is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads plus several tons of chemical weapons stored in either large drums or in artillery shells. The cause for all the concern right now, including the statements from President Obama and Secretary Clinton, is the reports from this weekend. Reports from this weekend quoting American and Israeli intelligence sources saying that there was, quote, "heightened activity at some of Syria`s chemical weapons sites" in the past few days. The State Department spokesman today raising the prospect that the Syrian government may feel like they are losing the war its fighting against its rebels conventional weapons and they may instead be looking to their chemical weapons supplies out of desperation. There`s no reason to be alarmist about this going on, but this is also alarming enough now that it makes sense to be paying attention and paying attention closely. And toward that end, I just want to highlight one other detail of this evolving story. The last time the international community noticed unusual activity around Syria`s chemical weapons site, the last time the world basically freaked out that maybe the Syrians were going to gas their own people with sarin or VX or mustard gas, the last time this happened was in July. And in July this is who stood up for the Syrian government and said, don`t worry it will never happen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any talks of WMD or any unconventional weapon that the Syrian Republic possessed would never be used against civilian or against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstances. No matter how the crisis would evolve, no matter how. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That spokesman assuring the world that Syria would never use its chemical weapons, would never use its weapons of mass destruction against its own people, that guy, the last government spokesman who told the world, don`t worry about this, we won`t use them -- that guy today defected, fled the country. He`s said to be on his way to London. Even if you have not been paying attention to Syria before now, or you`ve only been paying attention on and off, depending on the headlines, it is worth understanding why this is now a focus of international concern -- and international focus. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back in 2009 and 2010, Republican protests against President Obama`s supposedly socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, Kenyan secret Muslim agenda were usually touted as grassroots events. Most of them were not grassroots events. Most of the big ones at least were organized by groups like the one called FreedomWorks, which grew out of a conservative advocacy organization that was founded and funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. Well, the front man of FreedomWorks was a man named Dick Armey. He had been a congressman from Texas. For a while, he had been the House majority leader for the Republican Party, which is itself not a grassroots- y thing, right? But none of this is very grassroots-y. And today, David Corn and "Mother Jones" magazine had a scoop about the famously powerful, fake grassroots part of Republican Party politics. "Mother Jones" published a (INAUDIBLE) of e-mail to FreedomWorks in which Dick Armey quit. He quit. He then told "Mother Jones", quote, "The top management team of FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive and I thought it was time to move on with my life." I don`t know exactly why Dick Armey and FreedomWorks broke up, but there`s discord at the fake grassroots conservative level. Actually there`s a lot going on. We`ve got more on that ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Once upon a time, the former president of the United States went out on his very pretty, very fast boat and he took out on his very pretty, very fast boat with him these tiny people who are too tiny to discern in this picture, but who I assure include this man, who happens to be the current president of Kazakhstan. Former President George H.W. Bush and the president of Kazakhstan went boating together in the not-so-distant past at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. The president of Kazakhstan has been president of that country for more than 20 years. If you want to know what kind of president he has been, suffice to say that he tells us he got 95 percent of the vote in the last election. His government declared last Saturday to be president`s day and 30,000 people performed in a pageant that was devoted to expressing his personal awesomeness. He also controls the state media, naturally. So, he`s not exactly a president in the way we think of a president, but that`s the president of Kazakhstan. Also president/dictator vein is this man, president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. He has been president there for almost 20 years. In an amazing Q&A last week, "Reuters" straight up asked this guy, asked Lukashenko his reaction to being called a dictator. This is how he replied, quote, "I asked myself, `What is a dictator? I`m not a bad person at all. I don`t really understand what a dictator is. But on the other hand, I sometimes in a nice way envy myself. I am the last and only dictator in Europe and indeed there are none anywhere else in the world. You came here and looked at a living dictator. Where else would you see one?" Imagine what it feels like to envy yourself. It would be totally inappropriate for our country to be friendly with guys who run these Soviet republics, right? Guys who call themselves president that are psyched to be referred to as a dictator. But honestly in the real world, we do have some relationships with these types of leaders and these types of countries. Sometimes our presidents even go speedboating with these types of leaders. And we do as a country, even when these guys are real creeps, we do lead projects with them that our government sees as being in our national interests. So, for example, in Belarus -- Belarus gave up their nuclear weapons in the 1990s, but it was a big deal and a rather surprising thing when the Obama administration got Belarus to agree to give up their highly enriched uranium, too. Their stockpile of fissile material, nearly 200 pounds of it, were taken away and secured by the United States. Kazakhstan, too, the guy in Kazakhstan who just named a national holiday in his own honor, he agreed to work with the National Nuclear Security Administration to give up a portion of his country`s highly- enriched uranium and, of course, all the risk that goes with it. It is remarkable that these countries, countries that used to be part of a Soviet Union before the Soviet Union disbanded, these countries agreed to give up their nuclear weapons, right? And that they also agreed to give up fissile material used to make nuclear weapons. So while there are to this day a lot of things to worry about when it comes to Belarus, we can worry a little bit less about their stockpile of highly enriched uranium because they let us lock some of it up. The American policy that makes this a priority is now more than 20 years old. It goes back to 1992. It`s called the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. It`s named after the Democratic Senator Sam Nunn and the Republican Senator Richard Lugar. This is one of the things that our government does, right? You may remember me wearing a funny outfit when we traveled to Mexico in February of this year while Mexico is giving up the last of its highly enriched uranium, working with us, working with our National Nuclear Security Administration to safely contain and take away that material. From the beginning of this presidency, this work has been a priority for President Obama. Ten weeks after he was first inaugurated in 2009, he traveled to Prague and laid out his vision before a crowd of 20,000 people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: As a nuclear power as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it. We can start it. So today I state clearly and with conviction America`s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. (APPLAUSE) I`m not naive. This it goal will not be reached quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist -- yes, we can. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was in 2009, just weeks after he was inaugurated. The following year in 2010, President Obama convened the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. More than 40 heads of state got together to discuss among other things how to best safeguard the nuclear material that already exists around the world. That same year, President Obama signed a new START Treaty, an agreement between United States and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in each country`s arsenal. Obama called that treaty his top national security priority and he got the Senate to ratify it that year by hook or by crook. It`s hard to put a bigger exclamation point on a policy than this president has tried to do with the way he`s talked about nuclear disarmament from the very beginning of this presidency. Nuclear disarmament and counter-proliferation -- keeping the world safe not just from nuclear weapons, but from nuclear material falling into the wrong hands. But it`s still this underappreciated thing about what is important to him, and also how long it`s been important to him. Today, President Obama underscored just how seriously he`s taken this issue from the beginning of his career in a speech praising in part Republican Richard Lugar`s work on nuclear weapons and nuclear material as Senator Lugar prepares to leave Washington after decades. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It was Dick who took me on my first foreign trip as a senator to Russia and Ukraine and Azerbaijan. I remember walking through one facility. I started leaning in for a closer look, and one of the workers said, "Don`t touch that orange stuff." It`s turned out to be TNT. (LAUGHTER) At another point, the workers were taking apart munitions, gloves on their hands, masks over their faces. And I`m thinking, wait a second, why don`t we have masks on? (LAUGHTER) This is the kind of trip you take with Dick Lugar. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It does not covered that often by the Beltway media, but nuclear weapons, nuclear material, reducing the number of them in the world, making sure that the material that`s out there in the world does not fall into the hands of crazies, trying to secure all the material that can be used to make a nuclear weapon, these have been at the top of Barack Obama`s to do list in Washington since he first came to Washington. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: You may remember this, Dick. I was in Ukraine. We went to a facility, an old factory. We walked down these long, dark corridors. We`re ducking our heads, stepping over puddles of something -- we`re not sure what it was. Finally, we came across some women sitting at a work table. On it were piles of old artillery shells and the women were sitting there taking them apart by hand, slowly, carefully, one by one. It took decades and extraordinary sums of money to build those arsenals. This is going to take decades and continued investments to dismantle them. It`s painstaking work. It rarely makes headlines. Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we`re putting a bygone era behind us. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is Joe Cirincione, he`s president of the Ploughshares Fund, which is a global security foundation. He`s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Joe, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND PRESIDENT: My pleasure, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: I know you were there when President Obama gave that speech today. CIRINCIONE: Yes. MADDOW: Is this -- should we see this as a commemoration of Richard Lugar at the end of his Senate career, which was so important to this issue -- or did this have policy significance? CIRINCIONE: It`s more than a commemoration, although that was a big part of the purpose. He told some very funny stories and had some very warm reminiscences of both Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar who were being honored. But then he turned serious. You heard this part of his speech. You quoted my favorite line. "Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we`re taking this bygone era apart." We`re moving towards a world where these weapons will never again threaten our children. So, he chose this moment, this is the first national security speech since he was reelected. And he chooses to talk about nuclear weapons -- to underscore his personal commitment to it, to reaffirm his vision that he expressed in Prague in his first foreign policy speech as president that this is important to him and he did it at the National Defense University with his entire nuclear security team in front of him. This was as much a message to the bureaucracy as it was to the American people in the world. This is important to me. I intend to see this through. MADDOW: His personal commitment on this issue, his longstanding personal interest in this issue, is something that`s made it an issue to watch since he first became president. Frankly, since he first became senator. But how do you judge his first term in terms of keeping his promises or aimed at least toward the things he wanted to get accomplished in his first as president in this field? CIRINCIONE: He has kept almost all his promises in this field. In fact, there`s a fact checking site PolitiFact, I think -- MADDOW: I`ve never heard of them. CIRINCIONE: -- that ran the numbers down today and judged that in most cases, he kept his promises. He did a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia. He did increase and speed up the work to secure these nuclear materials. He strengthened the international nonproliferation regime, making it harder for other countries to try to get these. But he faced resistance from his own bureaucracy, he faced some reluctant partners, particularly in Russia and he faced political opponents, particularly in the U.S. Senate. So he`s only achieved about half of what he intended to do. And that`s what made this speech so important today. Here he is saying the job is not yet done. We have a long way to go. I intend to see it through to the end. MADDOW: One of the last times you and I talked about this, we talked about the fact that what the Republicans in the Senate, in particular, demanded in exchange for ratifying the new START Treaty with Russia, is that they demanded many, many, many billions of dollars to be put into building new nuclear weapons and supposedly modernizing the nuclear arsenal. And for a president taking this thing apart shell by shell, missile by missile, to also be making those big investments in nuclear weapons laboratories and nuclear weapons manufacturing and nuclear weapons modernizing, it seems like a bit of an oxymoron. How do you assess that side of his deal-making? CIRINCIONE: Well, in the Prague speech, he also said that as long as these weapons exist, we have to make sure they are safe and secure and effective -- which is true. We`re stuck with the cost in the nuclear weapons complex. We spend about $56 billion every year on nuclear weapons and related programs. We`re scheduled to spend $640 billion on these programs over the next 10 years. Clearly, this is excessive. Clearly, this can be cut back. This is the gap in the president`s program. There`s been a gap between his policies, which seek to reduce and eliminate these weapons, and the contracts, the procurement for these systems which continue to go upwards. The policy has not caught up with the procurement. That`s why it`s so urgent he act soon in his new term to bridge that gap, to want to gain control of the policy apparatus, to slow the contracts down before we lock in the building of an entire new generation of missiles, bombers and subs. MADDOW: Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund -- Joe, thank you very much tonight. It`s always great to have you here. CIRINCIONE: Thank you it, Rachel. Great segment. MADDOW: All right. Cheers! All right. Anybody who has ever Googled the word "Santorum" knows how that turns out. Now it`s going to be awkward and embarrassing for a new reason. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s a bunch of new news today about how the Republican Party is trying to have talk some introspection and talks amongst themselves about what went wrong for them this election cycle, how they positioned themselves to shore up who it is they are and what it is they stand for after this bad year. Beyond the news about my boyfriend from high school, Dick Armey, apparently angrily leaving his Koch brothers-funded conservative mega group, FreedomWorks, today. Aside from that scoop from David Corn at "Mother Jones" tonight, there`s more ahead about the party`s strange new round of decision making. That story is coming up. But before we get to that last story tonight, there`s something that I think went unusually unnoticed, I guess, in today`s news from Washington -- something that seems that it might end up being important. OK. You`ll remember that at the beginning of last week, the Republican Party made news when they picked committee chairs for their 19 Republican-led committees in Congress, right? And for those 19 committee chairs, they pick 19 white men. House Speaker John Boehner tried to do a little damage control on Friday with the two that he personally can choose. But he had a problem in trying to give one of those two committee chairmanships at least to a woman because the Republican membership of those two remaining committees contained no women. No women members. So no women to choose from in trying to find a Republican female committee chair. Ultimately, John Boehner decided to break all precedent going back to the 1800s so he could pick a woman to be a chair of one of these committees even though she was not currently a member of that committee. John Boehner still has one to bestow. The House Ethics Committee needs a chairman -- the man who currently holds that gavel is Republican Joe Bonner of Alabama. He said publicly he doesn`t want the job again this time. But again, how is it going to be a woman? There are no Republican women on that committee. So who knows? There have been no Republican women on that committee in years. This one might even be more awkward than the last one that John Boehner had to go through gymnastic gyrations to fix. Good luck on that, Mr. Speaker. Honestly, the problem that Republicans have in trying to appear diverse in their leadership is that they just don`t have a deep pool of Republican-elected women to choose from. There aren`t that many. And here`s what just happened to make that worse, which I think deserves a little more attention -- Republicans already have like no women in Congress, right? Before this last election, out of 241 members of Congress, only 24 Republicans were women -- 24 Republican congresswomen heading into this last election. And then after this election, they went down. They went from 24 down to 20, a net loss of four. And today, that net loss of four became a net loss of five because Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri`s eight district, Jo Ann Emerson just announced that she is quitting. She was just re-elected to her ninth term in Congress, handedly reelected, 72 percent of the vote. But she`s stepping down to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Basically, she`s stepping down to be a lobbyist. And by her leaving, the proportion of women among the Republicans in Congress drops into the single digits in the 21st century and maybe they will keep doing these ornate gymnastic backbends to make it look like that is not true. Or maybe they`ll just come out against women suffrage and try to fix the problem that way. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: New York City, in the New York City area has two football teams. One of them is pretty good. They won the Super Bowl this past year. The other team is not good. They are called the Jets. They wear green. And even the people who like them now show up at their games wearing homemade jerseys that say this, "buttfumble". This refers to the Jets` quarterback who is very handsome, shown here modeling with his shirt off for "GQ." In his day job, when he`s not modeling, he`s supposed to be playing football. And last weekend, he was holding the football and inexplicably ran into the butts of one of his own teammates, boom, and kind of knock himself out and fell down and dropped the ball and the other team picked up the ball and ran for a touchdown. Hence, the buttfumble. The jets are just not a good football team this year. You can address your hate mail to me at I will tell you, the auto reply you will get will include the word buttfumble. So, just be prepared. Now, the owner of the buttfumblers is a man named Woody Johnson. Woody Johnson was the New York chairman of Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign this year. And today, Woody Johnson hosted a lunch meeting in Manhattan for dozens of New York area Republican bundlers, big time Republican donors, to talk about what went wrong this year. What went wrong with their party`s effort to retake the White House. The audience for their venting about that was Reince Priebus who attended the meeting. Mr. Priebus is the Republican Party`s chairman. It was his RNC that hired the firm ran by the guy who had been accused in the past of voter registration improprieties to run the Republican voter registration efforts in five swing states. When that firm, ran by that guy with the shady past in the voter registration business, was inevitably accused of doing shady things this year with voter registration, the Republican Party in all of those states had to fire the firm which meant ending voter registration in those five crucial swing states in the final crucial weeks before the election. There was no plan B. Thanks, Reince. The Republicans just had to give up registering voters in those states. Reince Priebus` leadership at the RNC -- so, maybe that came up in today`s meeting. Also potentially on the menu today, the RNC`s field program, part of the overall Mitt Romney ground game effort that was just swamped this year. The Republicans get-out-the-vote technology crashed early on Election Day. One campaign official telling "The Daily Beast," quote, "Pretty much everything about the system that was supposed to work actually failed." So these dozens of big-time Republican donors meeting today to talk about what went wrong and Reince Priebus is there to listen, to listen to them vent about what went wrong, but his answer to all of their complaints is -- let`s do it all again because Reince Priebus, after all he did this disastrous election cycle, wants to be re-elected as RNC chairman. He was trying to shore up that re-election effort by meeting with these dozen of Republican donors today, including the owner of the buttfumblers here in New York City. Meanwhile, "The Washington Post" reporting today on the other guy who was responsible for the Republican`s very bad election year, reporting that Mitt Romney is mostly living in La Jolla now in southern California and is suffering from, quote, "sustained boredom". Speaking of bored, Mr. Romney has been put back on the board of the Marriott Corporation. He`s subletting a private equity office from one of his sons apparently. But while Republicans try to figure out what went wrong with their hoax for getting back in the White House, what about the guy that came in more or less second to Mitt Romney this year? There`s news on him today. He`s taking a job as a columnist for "World Net Daily". You might remember "World Net Daily" as the birther Web site. That has not worked out all that well for them lately so "World Net Daily" has branched out. These days, "World Net Daily" is your one-stop shop for a whole host of new conspiracy theories about President Obama. They have been pushing the theory that not only is President Obama secretly foreign but he`s also secretly gay, and he used to be secretly married in college, probably secretly gay married, and maybe he secretly murdered his secretly gay ex- boyfriend. And his wedding ring proves that he`s secretly Muslim. "World Net Daily" also has a superstore for all of your conspiracy- related safety and self defense shopping needs. For example, you can buy a how-to DVD called "Defensive Cane Fighting" where you apparently learned to ward off would-be knife wielding attackers with your cane. You can also buy a radiation detecting sticker to keep with you for any future radiation emergency. Got your sticker? Or maybe you`re in the market for a flash flight that doubles as a tool for field stripping a Glock handgun. That`s what`s going on at "World Net Daily" these days. This week, "World Net Daily" columnist is writing about how a new secessionist party could help white Americans start a new country. He rails about, quote, "The U.S. bifactional ruling party`s hatred and contempt for white Americans who still hold to traditional values, believe in their constitutional liberties and derive their sense of identity from historical America. They mock the secessionist petitioners in Texas and other states, celebrate the infestation of even the smallest American heartland towns by African and Asian and Aztec cultures and engage in ruthless doublethink as they worship at the altar of a false and entirely nonexistent equality." So Mitt Romney has landed bored at his La Jolla mansion. That`s the one that`s going to have the car elevators but they`re not there yet. So, it`s still boring. But the guy who was essentially came in second to Mitt Romney this year, the guy who was a runner up in the Republican Party efforts to pick their nominee, the guy who could have been Mitt Romney if for some reason it didn`t work out for Mitt Romney, he landed at "World Net Daily". He`s going to be doing a regular column for "World Net Daily", sharing space with the white secession guy. We have a two-party system in this country. And that is what half of our two-party system is. That is half of what is supposed to be plausible in American politics. Rick Santorum at "World Net Daily". Also, cane fighting! That does it for tonight. We`ll see you tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END