'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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October 28, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: Glenn Greenwald, Tim Weiner, David Brancaccio, Kent Jones
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. I like this idea that it will be "RMSNBC" with "RM" right at the front. I'm getting a huge ego just thinking about it.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
And thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Tonight, Senator Joe Lieberman's turn-coterie against the Democratic Party.
Plus, the CIA's shockingly un-shocking relationship with a man whose name is synonymous with the corruption that makes U.S. troops' mission in Afghanistan probably impossible.
President Obama signs landmark hate crimes legislation.
A new analysis shows that the economic stimulus program is working. So, maybe we can use more of it to fix our crumbling bridges and electrical grids.
Plus, an all-time military industrial complex boondoggle goes by the boards, sort of-thanks to a president, a defense secretary, and unlikely senator helping out.
Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald, CIA historian and author Tim Weiner, and infrastructure master David Brancaccio will all be here for this hour for an hour that frankly I'm really excited about.
But we begin tonight with the reason we won't get health reform if we don't get health reform. The reason we won't get the public option if we don't get the public option.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: If the current proposal remains as it is, unamended, before the final vote on the floor, that I will not vote for cloture, because I don't support a government-operated health insurance company that will end up costing the taxpayers a lot of money.
REPORTER: Would you filibuster it? Would you actually stand on the floor and read from the phone book?
LIEBERMAN: I'm sure I won't be alone, but I'd be prepared to. But I just.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I'd be prepared to. Senator Joseph Isadore Lieberman of Connecticut has turned himself on the tracks. He has magically transformed himself into a wrench and stuck himself into the works. Senator Lieberman has decided to make history by filibustering health reform against his own party.
Mr. Lieberman's decision to buck his own party here, to not even allow them a vote on health reform, he says is predicated on his hard and fast opposition to the public option, which-as you know-would give people a choice of going with a private health insurance company or going with a government-run plan. The problem is that in trying to explain why he's trying to stop health reform, Mr. Lieberman appears to have drifted into "I really don't understand the public option territory."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMAN: This is a new entitlement program, and the taxpayers and the premium payers are going to end up paying for it or else the debt is going to go higher, and that's the wrong thing to do now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the world sometimes described as the reality-based community, the Congressional Budget Office has, in fact, concluded that the public option is expected to slash the federal deficit. It's paid for by premiums of those who choose to enroll, not by taxpayer dollars and, by the way, it's not an entitlement.
Still, though, on the basis of his demonstratively and obviously untrue arguments about the public option, Senator Lieberman says he's willing to filibuster his own party with the Republicans in order to stop even a vote on health reform.
If you Google Joe Lieberman and filibuster, you will find that Mr. Lieberman has taken quite an interesting journey on the issue in recent years. As we reported last night and as Sam Stein of "Huffington Post" has also reported Mr. Lieberman has a long history of being against the filibuster. On big bills about the border and bankruptcy and even the Iraq war, Mr. Lieberman has a history of voting against the filibuster, voting to allow a majority vote even on measures that he doesn't ultimately agree with.
Beyond that, in 2005, Joe Lieberman joined what was called the "Gang of 14." The "Gang of 14" was an effort to stop Democrats from filibustering George W. Bush's judicial nominees. Mr. Lieberman and the rest of the gang physically signed a pledge that they would only use the filibuster in, quote, "extraordinary circumstances." That was Joe Lieberman then, in a pledge that the filibuster should only be used in order to help George W. Bush get his nominees through.
This is Joe Lieberman now.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why not just support cloture so that the rest of your colleagues could then vote for it?
LIEBERMAN: Well, because-because that is not using the rights that I have as a senator, under the rules of the Senate, to stop something from happening that I think will be bad.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Of course, I'd filibuster. Why wouldn't I? I have the power to.
Yes, Mr. Lieberman is on the record as being the anti-filibuster guy even on bills he cares about and in general as part of the "Gang of 14." He was against it. Now? Not so much.
Here's maybe a window into maybe understanding why. Here's Joe Lieberman talking with FOX News' Glenn Beck on election day.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Do you agree that-Senator Hatch said to me that if we don't at least have the firewall of the filibuster in the Senate that in many ways America will not survive.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope it's not like that, but I fear.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: "I fear-I fear Democrats getting 60 seats," said Joe Lieberman. "I fear you're right, Glenn Beck, that America will not survive," Democrats having a 60-seat majority that Americans just voted for them to have. Well, now that Democrats do have 60 seats, including him, Joe Lieberman is doing what he can to presumably, in his own mind, save America from his own party by blocking the Democratic agenda from within, working against the Democrats while still caucusing with the Democrats.
Understanding the mind and motivations of anyone, Joe Lieberman in particular, it's a dark and winding path. But it's not just Joe Lieberman who has to answer here. Late last year, President Obama intervened personally to make sure that Senator Lieberman would keep all his Democratic Party perks, even after the last election in which Senator Lieberman not only campaigned against Obama and for McCain, he also campaigned for down-ticket Republicans in the House and the Senate. When despite Lieberman's best efforts, the Democrats still won a majority in the Senate, President-elect Obama argued for Lieberman to get one of those chairmanships.
Even though Senator Lieberman had worked against the Democrats, he still has that powerful homeland security committee chairmanship as a gift from the Democratic Party, which really, really, really did not have to give it to him and which he has repaid for their inexplicable generosity toward him by promising to blow up health reform.
Why? Why are they allowing him to keep that chairmanship? And what are they getting for it?
Joining us now is Glenn Greenwald, who writes for Salon.com.
Mr. Greenwald, thanks for coming in tonight.
GLENN GREENWALD, SALON.COM: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Senator Lieberman has made it very clear that he plans to oppose health reform that includes a public option. He'll filibuster it, in fact, which would be historic. What do you think is motivating him?
GREENWALD: Well, I think you have to look, first of all, at a Research 2000/DailyKos Poll that was taken last month that shows that a margin of 68 percent to 21 percent of Connecticut voters, the people whom he's ostensibly representing favor a public option. That's a 47-point margin, which is almost impossible to find on almost any other issue.
So, when you ask why he's doing this, it's clearly not because the people that he's supposed to be representing favor it. I think, clearly, what it's about is primarily the fact that the industry that he's serving by doing this, by preventing competition with the public option, is an industry from which he receives very substantial benefits. He's drowning in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, the health care industry, the pharmaceutical industry, more than $2.5 million.
In early 2005, his wife was hired by a large P.R. firm, Hill & Knowlton, in the pharmaceutical division, which at the time representing the health care giant Glaxo and major legislation before the Senate. And several months later, Joe Lieberman was on the floor of the Senate offering legislation that would directly steer huge amounts of incentives to that company in order to develop vaccines.
And so, I think what you're seeing here is the kind of legalized corruption, legalized bribery that runs the United States Senate. Only in this case, it's particularly sleazy and transparent because Lieberman is ready to gut the major initiative of the Democratic Party.
MADDOW: And doing so, using a procedural tactic that he's, in part, made his name by opposing, which is the thing that's so dramatic.
Senator Lieberman, of course, he made his big announcement yesterday. Today, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana followed suit, saying that he reserves the right not tonal only to filibuster the final vote, but even to filibuster earlier than that any debate on a bill that he's not happy with.
Senator Bayh-we have thought other conservative Democrats might follow Lieberman's lead here. He sort of threw the door open and now presumably by maybe even others will follow.
Can you say anything about what maybe motivating Bayh?
GREENWALD: Well, let's look at Senator Bayh. His wife sits on the board of directors of WellPoint, one of the largest health insurance companies in the nation. They own, by their own disclosures, between $500,000 and $1 million just of WellPoint stock alone. And as, I think, you reported yesterday, when Senator Lieberman threatened to filibuster the public option, as one would expect, the value of the stock of the health care industry or the health care companies skyrocketed, which directly benefited-personally benefited the finances of the Bayh family.
Let me just quickly reference this column from two weeks ago by Dan Carpenter, a columnist for the "Indianapolis Sun," who knows Senator Bayh the best. He talked about how his wife is benefiting directly from the very actions Senator Bayh is taking in the Senate to block health care reform, financially benefiting his family.
And he wrote, quote, "After it became clear he was going to be a senator, Susan Bayh started stacking up memberships on the board of health care corporations. Susan Bayh got paid a little over $2 million for her service between 2006 and 2008. Her husband had a god 2008 also, collecting more than $500,000 in campaign donations from the health care industry."
And now, these very same people who receive enormous amounts of benefits, in Lieberman's case from contributions and through his wife, and also in Bayh's case, are now ignoring constituents in the interest of the country to serve the very industries that enrich them. It's really clear corruption.
MADDOW: On the issue of Lieberman's role in the Republican Party, given Lieberman's break with Democrats on their biggest domestic policy item and his break with them on so many other issues, what do you think is in it for Democrats to let him to remain chairman of homeland security?
GREENWALD: Well, when the controversy arose last year, the-about whether or not Lieberman should be able to keep his Senate chair-numerous Democrats, including Evan Bayh, who I think told you this actually -- vowed and implied there was an agreement that Senator Lieberman would not impede Democratic legislation by, for example, joining with Republicans to filibuster.
In Arlen Specter's case, for example, in 2004, Arlen Specter was poised to become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and threatened to block President Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court if he thought they might overturn Roe versus Wade. The Republicans got together, the White House and the Congress and told Specter that he will not be chairman of that committee unless he vows that he will allow those appointments to proceed.
And the White House, in just this year alone, when it came time to threatening recalcitrant Democrats who, for example, progressives were threatening to block the war supplemental bill that the president wanted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Lynn Woolsey, he's the chair of the House Progressive Caucus in the House, the White House is calling Democratic freshmen and threatening them that unless they voted for the war supplemental bill that the president wanted, they would never hear from the White House again-meaning they would be left to trying when reelection without the support of the Democratic Party.
There are all kinds of things the Democrats and White House can do if they're serious about pressuring members of Congress to support a public option. We'll see how serious they are.
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, it's such a great benefit to have Joe Lieberman there. I mean, really.
GREENWALD: He's really doing a lot of other things for them, absolutely.
MADDOW: Yes. Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com-thank you for your time tonight.
I also want to tell our viewers that we invited Senator Lieberman to come on the show tonight. His office did not even bother to respond to our requests.
But, Senator Lieberman, you should know you have an open invitation as you long have had to come on the show. I promise you will get a fair shake. Actually, at this point, I promise to not only buy you a shake. I will buy you a cookie if you come on the show.
All right. What do you call an opium kingpin who has ties to the Taliban? How about your employee? Because he's reportedly on the CIA payroll, which means he's being paid with your tax dollars. And he's supposedly one of the main reasons our troop's mission is thought to be basically impossible in Afghanistan.
An outrageous story broke last night by the "New York Times." Tim Weiner, who wrote the book on the CIA and its discontents, will join us next.
But first, "One More Thing" about health reform and its politics. Last week, we reported that FOX News contributor and soon-to-be FOX Business Channel host John Stossel will be headlining protest rallies against health reform staged by Americans for Prosperity, the lobbying group which refuses to disclose donors while rabble-rousing about the dangers of government-forced health care.
FOX's John Stossel is Americans for Prosperity's featured speaker at three different anti-health reform rallies in Arkansas on Thursday. Today, Bryan Stelter at the "New York Times" also reports that in between talking about the dangers of government-forced health reform at these forums, Mr. Stossel will also be the featured guest on a conference call for anti-health reform organizers, during which AFP says, he will, quote, "tell us more about his new role at FOX News."
And after his speeches at the anti-health reform rallies that are being paid for by a donor that Americans for Prosperity will not disclose, and after updating anti-reform activists and all the new goings-on at FOX, Mr. Stossel will then help FOX cover the news about health reform? No, of course, not. But he will help them in organizing political events and protests against health reform.
It's not illegal. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just not what's called news in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous. They are cowardly.
If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process. Let them come forth to the people of Pakistan and this democracy and make their case that they don't want girls to go to school, that they want women to be kept back, that they believe that they have all the answers and that the rest of us who are people of faith have none.
Let them make that case in the political arena and see how far they would get. They know they are on the losing side of history, but they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort that it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today in an emotional press conference. Her visit to Pakistan was greeted by a huge, huge bombing at a women's marketplace in Peshawar. The bombing killed at least 10 people.
Against that stomach-turning backdrop today, the Obama administration is, of course, still working to boil down its approach to what the foreign policy in-crowd now calls the "Af-Pak War." As if it is one war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The politics of the war took a turn so twisted and sensational last night that the new plot line sounds like it's straight out of the cynical, disillusioned American cinema of the 1970s.
According to reporting from the "New York Times'" trifecta of Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, the brother of the president of Afghanistan, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, widely described as a drug kingpin whose assumed corruption, undermines the credibility of the whole Afghan government and his brother, the president, Ahmed Wali Karzai-and President Hamid Karzai.
Mr. Ahmed Wali Karzai is also, apparently, according to the "New York Times," a long-time employee of us-specifically, of the CIA. Current and former American officials tell "The Times" that brother Karzai helps the CIA by doing lots of things, including operating a paramilitary group, renting out housing to U.S. forces and acting as a go-between for the Americans and the Taliban.
The allegations would be salacious at any time, but this week, after America just lost seven service members and three DEA agents while on an anti-narcotics trafficking mission, this week, the allegations are more than just salacious, they are explosive and they may have the political potential to affect the course of the war.
As national security reporter Spencer Ackerman put it today at the "Washington Independent," quote, "CIA money funds a politically connected drug dealer. Opium funds the Taliban. We are in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. How much CIA money has indirectly funded the Taliban?"
This nauseating question being asked just as the Taliban claimed responsibility for a daylight attack on westerners in Kabul which killed at least 11 people, including five U.N.-related workers.
Joining us now is Tim Weiner. He's author of "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA." He's also a former national security and foreign correspondent for "The New York Times."
Mr. Weiner, thanks for joining us.
TIM WEINER, "LEGACY OF ASHES" AUTHOR: Rachel, my pleasure.
MADDOW: "Legacy of Ashes" traces CIA history back to before the beginning. The light you shed on the agency is not particularly flattering. But today with the story of the CIA funding a man who seems to be all wrong for the American war effort, I just have to ask what you think the CIA's strategy is with him?
WEINER: Well, the CIA's most effective weapon over the years has been nice stacks of crisp hundred dollars bills. That's how you buy information. That's how you win or rent loyalties. And it's a very effective weapon, Rachel, in Afghanistan, at least to rent people's loyalties.
Paying for information, that's what the CIA does. Renting people, funding paramilitary operations in Afghanistan, the CIA has done that for the better part of three decades. What's truly unfortunate here is that there's a presidential runoff election scheduled in Afghanistan in 10 days. The legitimacy of the Afghan government, the entire reason that we've been there for going on nine years now has to do with democracy and stability in Afghanistan.
And this guy, the president's brother, stole maybe a million votes in southern Afghanistan. That doesn't look good for winning hearts and minds.
MADDOW: How coordinated are the military mission in a place like Afghanistan and the CIA mission? Is there mission conflict between what Langley is doing and what the Pentagon is doing? When I look at those 10 Americans killed this week on what is essentially an anti-drug operation and then learn that we are maybe also subsidizing the man who is alleged to be the biggest drug kingpin in the country, I worry that we're fighting a war against ourselves as much as anybody else.
WEINER: Among the three great nightmares that President Bush handed on to President Obama: Iraq, the great recession, and Afghanistan. It looks like Afghanistan is the one that's going to last the longest. And that is because the harmonization of American military and diplomatic and intelligence policy there hasn't happened there and didn't happen under President Bush.
What you have here is a strategy in the south, that's the president's brother. A strategy in Kabul, that's the president. And a strategy in the east toward the Pakistan border, that's about killing people, killing bad guys.
Until this is put together by President Obama in the seventh meeting that he's had on trying to harmonize American policy in Afghanistan is coming up tomorrow. We're going to be fighting and dying there for years and years and years. We've been there longer now than the Soviets were when they occupied Afghanistan in the '80s.
MADDOW: The story here - and understanding the implications of the story that was broken by the "New York Times" is one thing. It's also a story about the story. This just surfaced now for some reason. Somebody decided to give this "The New York Times."
When a story this potentially damaging to the CIA leaks, who do you-who do you suspect is leaking it and what's their agenda?
WEINER: I think the generals dimed out the spooks. The generals are not happy with this. There's often conflict between the ambassador, the station chief and senior military people. General McChrystal, who's trying to get tens of thousands more American troops into Afghanistan, cannot be happy with the perception that the Americans-the American spooks in Afghanistan are behind a crook.
Tim Weiner, author of "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA," which is not only on my book shelf but most of the book shelves of the most people who work on this show even before I demanded it; former national security and foreign correspondent for "The New York Times"-it's invaluable to have your insight here. Thank you for coming in.
WEINER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We really appreciate it.
WEINER: Take care.
MADDOW: OK. There's good news and bad news tonight, which if put together could potentially be great news, if only our politicians were hip to the math. Our bridges and power grids are falling apart. That's the bad news. And tonight, there's even very scary video about that. The good news is that our stimulus program is working and there are even very un-scary statistics about that tonight.
You see where I'm going here? We need infrastructure and we need to spend stimulus money. Get it? The host of PBS' "Now," David Brancaccio joins us to add to it all up-next.
MADDOW: On is this show, I have been known to wield a flashlight in that scary story by the campfire kind of way because-there was a point to be made about some creepy political attack and, frankly, I like props.
But last night, Craig Ferguson, host of the "Late Late Show" on CBS, was interviewing an actress named Alicia Silverstone when he needed a flashlight on set for real.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALICIA SILVERSTONE, ACTRESS: You can just take good steps to get there.
CRAIG FERGUSON, "LATE LATE SHOW" HOST: All right. Well, we will.
FERGUSON: Oooh, it's getting close to Halloween! This is awesome!
We've gone to radio, everybody.
FERGUSON: There's a power outage in the whole building. Look. Look. It took us nearly five years to get Alicia to come here and she comes here and the damn lights go out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The man's TV studio lost power in the middle of the show. So did the homes and businesses of thousands of other people in the Los Angeles area, all because of wind gusts in L.A. We have an electrical system that can't really do wind in October.
Meanwhile, in almost exactly the same time in northern California, this was happening. Transportation officials say wind gusts over the San Francisco Bay caused three heavy pieces of steel that were part of a recent repair to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge to snap off and fall on to the upper deck of the bridge during rush hour.
The flying steel hit three cars, injured one person and caused the bridge, which is typically used by an average of 270,000 cars a day, to be shut down indefinitely. The Houston Rockets were staying in San Fran for their game in Oakland against the Warriors tonight. The Rockets had to take the ferry to the game.
Back east, the 80-year-old Champlain Bridge which connects Vermont and New York State has also just been closed until at least next spring after inspectors found problems with that bridge's concrete supports. Its closure forced many of the thousands of people who use it every day into 100-mile-long detours. Some commuters even took to the streets to protest.
The crumbling of too many of this country's bridges and tunnels and roads due to decay and age and poor construction and lack of maintenance is also now becoming a major issue in Seattle's mayoral race. Here's what's causing the kerfuffle in Seattle.
What you're looking at here is a simulation of what could conceivably happen to Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct during a powerful earthquake. And as you can see - yes, the simulation is really scary.
Tuesday is Election Day in Seattle and the outcome the mayoral race could conceivably hinge on the fight about whether the city should spend money to replace that viaduct with a waterfront tunnel.
Across the country, one proposed solution to the whole crumbling infrastructure problem, one that could also help with the whole economy not creating jobs problem is economic stimulus, federal spending on infrastructure projects.
"USA Today" reports today that a review of state spending shows the federal economic stimulus package has saved or created 388,000 jobs so far. Meanwhile, the "New York Times" editorial board argues this week that if we want that trend to continue, if we want the stimulus to continue to work economically, we're going to need a lot more of it.
Joining us now is David Brancaccio. He's host and senior editor of "Now" on PBS. He's been on the road for a special PBS series about infrastructure that's called "Blueprint America." Mr. Brancaccio, it's great to see you again. Thanks for being here.
DAVID BRANCACCIO, HOST AND SENIOR EDITOR, "NOW": Great to be back.
Good to see you.
MADDOW: We are seeing some signs that the stimulus is working, at least starting to save and create jobs. But based on your reporting, is the stimulus having substantial impact on infrastructure? Are big projects and the right projects being funded?
BRANCACCIO: Yes. One thing is the jobs issue, as you've been talking about. And that's one thing, it's an important thing. But we were looking at some data that showed that of the nearly $30 billion that we thought were going to be used to fix our roads in the stimulus package - $30 billion - most of it went to paving and widening.
Now, I'm all against potholes. I'm here to tell you I'm against potholes. But in terms of fixing bridges that might fall down or putting in new roads where we crucially need them, the really significant infrastructure improvement projects - most of the money is going to something completely different.
MADDOW: What do you think is - what have you been able to find in your reporting when you're looking at infrastructure in a systemic way? Do we have a systemic problem with the way that we look at infrastructure? Are we failing to identify problems? Are we keeping our eyes on our feet instead of the horizon and taking too short term an approach to it?
BRANCACCIO: Well, that's exactly the key. Now, in your work, you get to met Americans, right? And one thing we're not particularly good at is thinking about the future.
Now, a bunch of years ago, in 1986, I was a local reporter in San Francisco. I covered the 50th anniversary of the construction of the aforementioned San Francisco open-bay bridge. And there was very little sense that you needed to do much more to that bridge than repaint it once in a while back in 1986.
Fast forward a few years, lo and behold, you really have to work on this. Now, it's costing them $3.7 billion. This project is going to take until 2013 to rebuild a big chunk of it. And it's a surprise that they have to rush parts of it possibly so they run into these problems where bits are falling off, which is causing this major consternation.
However, that said, even though we have a hard time in America thinking about the future, once in a while, we do. When the Bay Bridge is closed like today and for a bunch more days, it's a huge economic disaster for northern California.
What are they telling people to do? To take Bay Area Rapid Transit, the BART system. How did that happen? Foresighted Americans back in the late 1950s thinking we're going to spend money to build the tube that is helping us today.
MADDOW: I know that as part of your infrastructure reporting project, you recently went to Denmark. Why Denmark? And what did you find there?
BRANCACCIO: It's fascinating. This is a green story. Why are the Danes so much from the future, right? That's the question. I mean, these people are way ahead of us on a bunch of things.
And they want the place to be lousy with electric cars in just a couple of years. How are they going to do that? There's innovation. There's a wonderful American from Palo Alto, California, who's bringing these cars in. But they're investing in infrastructure.
What's the big rap on electric cars? Well, they don't go far enough. They've licked the problem, it looks like, in Denmark. If you have to go to grandma's 200 miles away, you'll stop at a pit stop where a robot will swap your battery for a fresh one. Then, you can go to 200 miles.
It's really amazing. However, it costs money. It requires - it's been a series of governments of all political stripes who recognize that sustainability is something the Danish people want, and they're investing in it.
MADDOW: And it works for them economically and it works for them politically. And guys from Palo Alto are helping them instead of helping us.
BRANCACCIO: They think the system could come here at some point. But you'll have to watch my show on Friday to see the details.
MADDOW: Well done. David Brancaccio, host and senior editor of "Now" on PBS. It's great to have you here. Thank you so much for coming here.
BRANCACCIO: It's a pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: Today marked the demise of the F-22 fighter jet which was dismissed by President Obama upon signing the new Defense Spending Bill. For the first time in cable TV news history, I say the words, "an amazing and compelling story of military procurement policy is next." But I really, really mean it. I'm not being sarcastic. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Still ahead on "COUNTDOWN," Alaska journalist Shannyn Moore on Levi Johnston.
And ahead on this show, what does it take to kill a $350 million jet fighter that can't stand the rain? It takes a president, a senator who wanted the president's job and defense secretary willing to stand up to the Pentagon. But, wait, there's more. The page-turning saga of the F-22, with which I am obsessed, is coming up.
But first a few holy mackerel stories from today's news -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, how they love, how they pray or who they are.
I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come. And I'm glad she and her husband, Dennis, could join us for this event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama speaking about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the president signed into law this afternoon. The act is named for Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard who was tortured and murdered 10 years ago because he was gay.
The bill broadens the current definition of federal hate crimes, a definition which had covered attacks motivated by race, color, religion or national origin. It now also includes gender, sexual orientation, gender identity as well as disability.
It will also allow the Justice Department to grant up to $100,000 to local officials to cover what can be exorbitant costs of hate crimes prosecutions. The president of the Human Rights Campaign celebrated the historic nature of this bill today telling our producers, quote, "You cannot underestimate that for the first time LGBT Americans are finally being included in federal code. Today's signing of an inclusive hate crimes law is a significant step forward on the long road to full equality."
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, of course, had championed this bill for years, but President George W. Bush had vowed to veto it if it ever passed. So you can file this one under elections have consequences.
And now, an update on a story that we brought you Monday about a fundraiser involving the supporters of Scott Roeder. Scott Roeder, of course, is the man who is accused of the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
Mr. Roeder's supporters on the radical violent fringe of the anti-abortion movement announced a plan this weekend to raise money for the alleged murderer by auctioning off radical anti-abortion paraphernalia on eBay.
Their plans of stuff to auction included really creepy art signed by Mr. Roeder himself, a first edition Army of God manual describing methods for shutting down abortion clinics, including how to build bombs to blow them up. Also, an autographed copy of a book by Michael Bray who spent years in prison for bombing abortion clinics.
The Tiller's family lawyer, Lee Thompson, joined us on this show on Monday and said that he would, if necessary, intervene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE THOMPSON, TILLER FAMILY LAWYER: Well, obviously, we believe that this is nothing more than a reprehensible publicity stunt that is fostered by the same people, trying to sell the same publications that generated the climate of hatred and fear that led to Dr. Tiller's murder.
So, obviously, if this goes ahead, we'll be asking the attorney general of Kansas to simply attach whatever funds and use them to help other victims of crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fortunately, it appears that legal strategy may not be necessary. The auction might end up happening, but it certainly will not happen on eBay because selling how-to bomb manuals and the like qualifies as offensive material under eBay policy.
The company announcing it is nixing the auction and will remove any such items if they are posted. Good on eBay for this one. And woe be unto any other auction house that decides to pick this one up.
MADDOW: A New Jersey newspaper, "The Clifton Journal," reported this week that according to police, two women working on behalf of Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceuticals were caught handing out fliers opposed to proposed health reform plans.
And these weren't just normal fliers against health reform. These were fliers that called the president a fascist and showed pictures of Obama's face with a Hitler mustache.
One woman who took one of the fliers was apparently so offended by it she returned to the women who had given her the flier and she squirted purple paint all over them, all over the flier-distributing Obama-Hitler analogizers - squirted all over their table and all over their fliers.
The paint-spraying woman then fled the scene. Take that Hoffman-La Roche and big pharma. Except "TalkingPointsMemo.com" found this story amazing enough - a big pharmaceutical company portraying the president as Hitler that they reached out to the Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical company. And they found out quickly the police and thereby the news report had it all wrong.
The women were actually working for not Hoffman-La Roche but Lyndon LaRouche, the Rasputins of fringe political figures whose minions not only hate health reform, they're totally unapologetically enthusiastic about the Hitler-mustache-on-Obama theme.
A Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceuticals spokesman said this sadly is not the first time this mistake has been made. But to be clear, the Obama-as-Hitler flier people in New Jersey are Lyndon LaRouches not Hoffman-La Roches which brings me to this point where I channel Emily Litella and say, "Never mind."
MADDOW: If you've ever had the chance to take a really good class in American public policy, I will bet you a $600 Pentagon hammer that one of the case studies you did when it came to talking about public policy in the military was about this guy, the F-22 fighter jet, the Raptor, as they call it.
Just as an aside, Ford also calls its awesome new off-road ready pickup the Raptor maybe because they had some inkling the F-22 airplane wasn't going to be monopolizing that nickname anymore.
That's because the F-22 Raptor is now dead. There are still F-22s in the America's armamentarium, but we are not building any more of them than were already in the works. That was announced today by the president after months of foreshadowing by the Pentagon and the president himself.
The reason this plane is such a great case study in how our country works or doesn't work is because of the way it was built. The F-22 was designed in the 1980s to fight midair dog fights - plane-to-plane fighter jet aerial combat with pilots from the Soviet Union.
From the beginning, the Air Force designed the plane to be politically bulletproof. They farmed out the subcontracts to build the thing to something like 44 different states so there would be jobs associated with building the plane in the jurisdiction of something like 88 different senators and a majority of members of the House.
It was designed from the beginning to be, in one weapon designer's words, too big to fail as a government program. And the Pentagon comptroller from the mid-1990s admitted to the Congress this year that the Pentagon also knowingly lied about the expected cost of the F-22 from the very beginning.
They told Congress it would cost much less than they knew it knew it actually would. In the end, the F-22 became the mother of all spending disasters. Maybe not the mother, but at least one of the members of the family matriarchy.
The average cost of every F-22 is now $356 million per plane - $356 million per plane. And these planes are kind of a disaster. According to Pentagon test results leaked to "The Washington Post" this year, for every hour that an F-22 is in flight, it requires more than 30 hours of maintenance.
On average, the plane reportedly suffers a critical failure after every 1.7 hours in the air. One former Lockheed engineer told "The Post" that the skin's radar-absorbing super high-tech skin also has what's described as a, quote, "vulnerability to rain."
Think wicked witch of the west and Dorothy throwing water on her, right? The F-22 also has the handy feature of being technologically incapable of communicating with any other warplanes. So the pilots of an F-22 are completely isolated from any other U.S. aircraft in the skies. They can't hear them or talk to them.
One consequence of the political trick of building parts for this thing in more than 40 states is that there are also huge quality control issues that become evident when you try to piece all those parts built all around the country together into one plane.
Tear Spray(ph), a weapons designer and longtime critic of the F-22, told MSNBC today that even now, in 2009, parts that don't work are being retooled and refit individually by hand on the final assembly line as F-22s are being built. How efficient.
Also, by the way, the USSR, these F-22s were designed to let us dogfight with, doesn't exist anymore. No F-22 has ever flown a mission in Iraq or in Afghanistan. Its armor is so light it can't withstand even small arms fire so it can't flight anywhere where it has to fly low.
Did I mention they cost $356 million each? Despite everything wrong with the F-22, despite the untold billions we didn't spend even within the military, even within the Air Force on stuff we might have actually used someday, instead of the Soviet-fighting "Top Gun" movie souvenir paper weights that melt in the rain, the fact that they were built all over the country and that we had dumped so many of billions of dollars into them already made these planes a case study for how the country could end up spending billions upon billions of dollars for something everybody knew we didn't need.
The F-22 showed how you could design a system so that every decision-maker had a great locally driven reason to do something that was bad for the country. And then, something totally unexpected broke out, political leadership.
In the 2008 election, both major party candidates had the guts to defy those parochial interests and to be willing to say no to a fighter jet of all things. And they had the guts to say enough is enough to this zombie-spending suck that no one could justify but that just wouldn't die. Once President Obama was elected, Defense Secretary Bob Gates took the zombie on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, UNITED STATES DEFENSE SECRETARY: And with regard to something like the F-22, if we can't bring ourselves to make this tough but straightforward decision, where do we draw the line? And if not now, when? If we can't get this right, what on earth can we get right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sen. John McCain, Republican, and Sen. Carl Levin, the Democrat who chairs the Armed Services Committee, ended up co-sponsoring the bill to kill the zombie F-22. Republican Bush holdover, Defense Secretary Bob Gates championed it, as you just heard.
President Obama threatened to veto the defense budget if it didn't kill the F-22. And today, it finally died. And America's longtime textbook case study of stupid stuff on which we spend billions, even though we know it's stupid, has a surprise ending.
There are still going to be 187 of these bad boys in America's fleet. And who knows, maybe the USSR will rise from the dead and give us a use for them someday. But until that day comes, the only conceivable way we would ever have to or want to use one of these planes is if we were stupid enough to sell them to other countries who might want to use them against us someday.
Did I mention that members of Congress are urging that we keep building this thing to sell it to other countries? Are you kidding me?
MADDOW: We turn now to our Alaska small business correspondent, Kent Jones back from Texas. Hi, Kent.
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Hi, Rachel. You know, even though Sarah Palin got $1.25 million for her memoir, she's got another business venture going. Check it out.
(voice-over): At this stage, we thought we knew everything there was to know about Sarah Palin, with the husband and the shooting wolves from helicopters and the whole mess with Levi, you know what I'm saying. But did you know that Sarah Palin was a small business owner?
FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK): You betcha.
JONES: According to recently revealed financial records, during Palin's last agonizing months of lame duck-itude as Alaska's governor, she started up a small marketing business called Pie Spy.
OK. Just what are we talking about here, governor? Lemon meringue, Jason Bourne, some weird combination of the two? Wait, Bill Cosby and Robert Culp - no, that was "I Spy." Is this some complicated espionage network infiltrating international dessert cartels? After all, she can see Russia from her house.
According to documents filed with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Palin's business is described as involving services for the elderly and persons with disabilities. And so she called it Pie Spy? OK.
But then "Politico's" Ben Smith reports that Palin's spokeswoman Meg Stapleton and lawyer Thomas Van Flein did not respond to questions about Pie Spy. You know, there's an eerie silence around this whole Pie Spy situation. And as an American, I want - no, I demand to know the truth about Pie Spy before it explodes in our face.
MADDOW: I must know!
JONES: I have no idea what it is.
MADDOW: Thank you for looking into it.
MADDOW: And you brought me something when you came back from Texas.
JONES: I did.
MADDOW: May I now open it?
JONES: I want you to.
MADDOW: It says "symbol of leadership" on it.
MADDOW: Kent just back from Texas.
JONES: Yes. The owners of The Lodge -
MADDOW: Oh, my god, this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
JONES: Right? It's a Newt Gingrich gavel, OK?
MADDOW: This is the gavel that Newt Gingrich sent to the strip club, people of The Lodge, when they said, "You give us $5,000. We'll give you an award?"
JONES: Yes, Entrepreneur of the Year.
MADDOW: Are they giving me this?
JONES: Absolutely. That's yours now.
MADDOW: I get the new gavel?
JONES: You get to officiate with the Newt gavel from now on.
MADDOW: And the little pin that says "Newt Gingrich winning in the future" with his picture.
JONES: Yes, yes. I want to see you wearing that tomorrow night.
MADDOW: I've never been happier. Thank you, Kent. "COUNTDOWN" with Keith Olbermann starts right now. Wow.
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