Skip navigation

'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, October 30, 2009

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Howard Fineman, Melanie Sloan, Jonathan Turley

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW:  And thanks to you at home for starting your Halloween eve debauchery with us.

All manner of pre-Halloween tricks, treats and otherwise just ahead—from Senator Joe Lieberman‘s weird rip off the latex mask Democrat costume, to Liz Cheney‘s spooky magic trick transforming facts about the world into something other than facts.

The United States drone bombing of Pakistan is dressed up as something other than war.  And the collegial former president, George H.W. Bush, has been unmasked again as a man with some really nasty things to say about his supposed friends behind closed doors.

That, plus Keith Olbermann, Bill O‘Reilly and I are on the same side for maybe the first time ever.  That feels weird.

And Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing.net joins us to explain a ginormous change coming to the Internet.

That‘s on tonight‘s moment of geek.  It is a big show.  It is all coming up.

But we begin tonight with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, I-CONN.:  I expect that I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the elections in 2010.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Senator Joe Lieberman—actually, Chairman Joe Lieberman, because the Democratic Party gave him the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee—Chairman Joe Lieberman has announced that he will hit the campaign trail in 2010, just like he did in the last election, working hard against his own party.

Spooky, right?  It is the night before Halloween.  So, perhaps the most satisfying and self-indulgent way to explain how important this is, what this really means in political terms, is by way of a brand new episode of RACHEL MADDOW SHOW‘s strained metaphor theater.

Tonight‘s episode takes place one year from now on the eve of the 2010 mid-term elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

MADDOW (voice-over):  Twas the night before Halloween 2010.  The Democrats were ready to party again.  They had the most Senate seats, and so, goodies to match.  They give out the candy, not McConnell or Hatch.

Then into their lair sneaked old Senator Joe, with the idea of giving destruction a go.  He smashed up their party and trashed all their candy, breaking what made being a Democrat so handy.

The next night the Democrats came to the door.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN:  Trick or treat.

MADDOW:  But there weren‘t any goodies that they had come for.

When Lieberman himself showed up and said “Trick or treat,” the Democrats said, “Dude are you high?”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, wait.  That doesn‘t rhyme.

MADDOW:  When Lieberman himself showed up and said, “Trick or treat,” the Democrats said, “Joe, you‘re the reason we got beat.”

Joe says he‘s fighting against those who won‘t heed him.  Really he‘s, duh, biting that the hands that feed him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW (on camera):  You are not to hold that against the staff of this show.  I insisted, the blame is all mine.

Especially blame me for the mixing of the Christmas poem with the Halloween theme, plus the TV show.  Yes.  I‘m sorry.

For all of that messiness, that is actually metaphorically correct.  That is what Joe Lieberman is doing by campaigning for Republicans.  He is fighting against the thing that gives him most of his power as a senator, the Democratic majority.

If Senator Lieberman gets his way, if when he campaigns for Republican Senate candidates, they win, and the Democrats thereby lose their majority in the Senate, Senator Lieberman himself loses, too.  He loses the chairmanship he so prizes, which the Democratic Party inexplicably still allows him to keep.

When he campaigns for Republican candidates, he is biting the hand that inexplicably feeds him.  Pardon the split infinitive.

But this is not just a story about Joe Lieberman campaigning against his own party.  This is also a story about Joe Lieberman campaigning against his own party—again.

You will recall that Senator Lieberman campaigned for Republican senator, Susan Collins.  He campaigned for former Republican senator, Norm Coleman.  He campaigned for Republican congressman, Peter King in 2008.

He even admitted at the time that he didn‘t want his own party to win too many seats in the election.

(AUDIO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX TALK SHOW HOST:  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 that in many ways America will not survive.

That was in addition to Senator Lieberman campaigning against the Democratic nominee for president, which entailed him saying things like this.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Is he a Marxist, as Bill Kristol says might be the case in today‘s “New York Times?”

LIEBERMAN:  Well, you know, I must say that‘s a good question.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  After the election, it came time to determine whether Senator Lieberman should be given a powerful committee chairmanship by the Democrats—the very same Democrats he had just been not only campaigning against, but calling Marxists, and saying how bad for America it would be if they won.

Suddenly, with this chairmanship at stake, Senator Lieberman decided that he was very, very sorry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN:  Obviously, in the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us.  But I regret that, and now it‘s time to move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It‘s, of course, quite rational for Mr. Lieberman to want to move on.  I‘d want to move on, too, to the parts where Democrats forget that I said it was a good question whether or not Barack Obama was a Marxist.

He, of course, wants to move on to the part where the Democrats forget all about that and then lavish him with political favors.

But Senator Lieberman said he wasn‘t just sorry for what he had done during the campaign.  He at least implied that he wasn‘t going to do it again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN:  This is the beginning of a new chapter.  The problems our country faces now, at home, particularly, and abroad, are immense.  And we will only deal with them constructively on behalf of the people who were good enough to send us to Washington, if we display the kind of unity that was displayed within our caucus today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Unity.  Here‘s what Joe Lieberman‘s new chapter of unity with the Democratic Party and him looks like.

He‘s going to campaign for Republican candidates against the Democratic Party in 2010.  And as a bonus, he‘s promising to make history by siding with the Republican Party against the Democrats, to not just vote against health reform, but to block Democrats from even being able to vote on health reform.

Without Lieberman‘s pledge to filibuster, Democrats would only need 50 votes to pass health reform, which would mean America would not only get the public option, America would basically get most everything that‘s on health reformers‘ agenda.

Senator Lieberman‘s decision alone is going to make it take 60 votes in the Senate to pass health reform, which means good-bye health reform, hello health minor tweak here and there.

Less than a year after he begged to be allowed to stay in his own party in the Senate, Lieberman is going to filibuster that party—filibuster his own party—on one of the most important domestic policy issues in a generation.

And so far, there appears to be just one Democratic senator who has said a word against Lieberman‘s decision.  It was Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who succeeded the late Ted Kennedy as chair of the Health Committee.  Senator Harkin today sent this minor shot across the bow.

“He still wants to be a part of the Democratic Party, although he is a registered Independent.  He want to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus.”

So, I‘m sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote.

Joining us now is Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent and political columnist for Newsweek, and political analyst, of course, for MSNBC.

Howard, thanks for coming on the show.

HOWARD FINEMAN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK:  Hi, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Senators don‘t usually talk about other senators the way that Senator Harkin has talked about Senator Lieberman there.  Is that what counts as an overt threat in the U.S. Senate?

FINEMAN:  Yes.  That was very overt.  Tom Harkin doesn‘t make the decisions.  And Tom Harkin is known as a guy who‘s sometimes willing to say what‘s on his mind, shoot his mouth off a little bit.

But there‘s no doubt that he was expressing the frustration that many, many Democratic senators feel about Joe Lieberman.

They‘ve had it up to here with Joe Lieberman.  They can‘t stand a lot of his maneuvers.  They don‘t even like him personally.  But they‘ve got to live with him, because of the mathematics of the Senate.

The little fig leaf that Joe Lieberman and Harry Reid, the leader, have put over this situation is to say that Lieberman will not join a filibuster to prevent the bill from being taken up at all.  That‘s an important procedural point to Harry Reid, and it may turn out to be important in the maneuverings here.

You have to understand that Lieberman said, you know, we‘re talking about final vote here.  And Harkin mentioned final vote.

The vote to take up the bill is one that Lieberman has said he will not block.  That‘s important to Harry Reid.  It‘s a very small victory procedurally.

MADDOW:  In terms of him pledging to block the final vote, though, unless the public option is taken out of the bill.

FINEMAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  I know, Howard, you‘ve covered Senator Lieberman...

FINEMAN:  Right.

MADDOW:  ... for a long time.  How do you assess his strategy there on pledging to block the final vote?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it‘s somewhat negotiable.  Everything with him is negotiable, as he‘s proved.  He kind of enjoys his pariah status, and he wants to get as much out of it as he can.

It may be something having to do with support for other projects.  It may have something to do with 2012, when Lieberman‘s going to be up again, although I think Lieberman‘s the kind of guy who will keep his options open.  Who knows which convention he‘ll show up at in 2012?

I think he probably wants some further cushioning and padding for the insurance industry, which in many ways will make out pretty well in this deal.  He would like them to make out better.  I don‘t think it‘s final till it‘s final.

And I sort of believe Harry Reid when he says he‘s got a lot of problems, but actually, right now, Lieberman‘s not at the top of the list, because Lieberman will at least let the debate begin.

MADDOW:  If Lieberman does end up being the problem for the Democrats on the final vote, if he continues to put himself as this sort of sticking in the craw position, as you say, sort of gleefully doing it, what about the possibility of him losing his chairmanship?

That‘s the sort of thing that doesn‘t happen very frequently in the United States Senate.  I remember when it happened in the House on the Republican side when Chris Smith was removed from the Veterans‘ Affairs Committee.

It‘s not the sort of thing that happens frequently, but couldn‘t it happen to Lieberman?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think it could.

Look, if he brings down health care reform—even if it is a series of tweaks, it‘s going to be a big, sweeping series of tweaks—he will incur the wrath of the entire Democratic Party from top to bottom, because I think a lot of people who wanted more, who wanted more thorough-going reform, are getting in the position to settle for whatever Obama can get here.  I think we‘re almost at that position.

If Lieberman scuttles that, then he‘ll be a pariah even more at the White House, with Rahm Emanuel, with the president of the United States, with the entire Democratic Party leadership.

Who knows?  I think they could punish him if he‘s the one vote that stops the thing.

But what Lieberman‘s going to look for are two or three other people to go along with him, perhaps a Senator Blanche Lincoln, somebody like that.  I‘m not convinced he has the guts to do it on his own.

MADDOW:  Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman, thanks for your perspective tonight, Howard.  It‘s great to have you on the show.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Tonight in Washington was an old-fashioned, massive Friday news dump.  The White House released a bunch of its White House visitors logs.  There doesn‘t seem to be any real news in them, at least yet.  But since the previous White House kept those kind of things secret, they are of interest.

Also, the SEC, the Securities Exchange Commission, released a bunch of documents about how it missed the Bernie Maddow Ponzi scheme for years.

And did you also hear that they released Dick Cheney transcripts about what Dick Cheney says he knew, and when he says he knew it, concerning the crime that got his chief of staff sentenced to prison?

Stuff always comes out on Fridays.  Thank God we have a show.  Stay tuned.

But first, one more thing about health reform about Halloween.  The weekend‘s imagery of skeletons and zombies and headstones proved too alluring to resist for some of the Republican leadership.  And they have taken the occasion of this holiday to revive “deatherism.”

Here‘s Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, seamlessly weaving the theme of the season into his fight against health reform.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KENTUCKY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  I think if you have any kind of government insurance program, you‘re going to be stuck with it.  And it will lead us in the direction of the European style, you know, sort of British-style, single payer, government run system.  And those systems are known for delays, denial of care and, you know, if your particular malady doesn‘t fit the government regulation, you don‘t get the medication.

DENNIS MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST:  Right.

MCCONNELL:  And it may cost you your life.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It may cost you your life.  The public option is a secret plan to establish a British-style, government run system, you know, the kind where they kill everybody.

It would make an awesome horror movie, even if it has nothing at all to do with what really happens in England, or with what‘s really going to happen here, or with whether here will ever be anything like England.

But still, it‘s very seasonal.  It sounds scary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  It is the sort of moment that probably deserves to pass without too much extraneous political comment.  President Obama saluting the coffin of Army Sergeant Dale Griffin during the dignified transfer ceremony for Sergeant Griffin at Dover Airbase early yesterday morning.

The presence of the president of the United States at this stirring ceremony was to Liz Cheney just too good an opportunity to pass up to take a political whack at President Obama.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF DICK CHENEY:  I don‘t understand sort of showing up with the White House press pool with photographers, and asking family members if you can take pictures.  I just—that‘s really hard for me to get my head around.  It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do it.

I think, you know, what President Bush used to do was to do it without the cameras.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Actually, that‘s not true at all.  President George W. Bush didn‘t attend ceremonies at Dover, with or without cameras.  He never went.

A spokesman for the former president tonight confirming with us that Mr. Bush, in fact, never attended the arrival of an American soldier at Dover.

Which means that Liz Cheney is wrong again.  This is starting to feel familiar.  Not about her opinion about things, but about what she says are the facts of modern American political issues that she‘s called on to discuss as a pseudo pundit, as a pseudo stand-in for her father.

Here she is talking about her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and the link between Iraq, al Qaeda and 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. CHENEY:  He has not said that there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  So says Liz Cheney.  Let‘s go to the videotape from the reality-based community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If we‘re success in Iraq, we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Liz Cheney, wrong again.

She also had this exchange with Joan Walsh from Salon.com, on the subject of the prison at Guantanamo and the issue of sending Guantanamo prisoners to the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  President Bush, in June 2009, gave a speech where he said he would close it, and he would bring people home and try them here.

L. CHENEY:  No, I‘m sorry.  He did not say...

WALSH:  President Bush said that.

(CROSSTALK)

L. CHENEY:  No, he didn‘t say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  In fact, in June 2006 -- not 2009, but in June 2006 --

President Bush did say exactly that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘d like to end Guantanamo.  I‘d like it to be over with.

There are some who need to be tried in U.S. courts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Tried in U.S. courts, as in courts in the U.S., the thing that Liz Cheney says he never said.

And then, there was Liz Cheney‘s attack on President Obama and the issue of American exceptionalism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. CHENEY:  We‘ve now seen several different occasions when he‘s been on these international trips, when he‘s not been willing to say flat out, you know, I believe in American exceptionalism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  And then there‘s the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I believe in American exceptionalism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Liz Cheney, wrong again.

And now to my favorite, Liz Cheney‘s pressure group, Keep America Safe, and its Web ad showing clips of her organization receiving critical coverage on this network interspersed with provocative questions like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why don‘t they want to debate the issues?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Actually, we do want to debate the issues.  And as I‘ve said many, many times before, our booking producers have repeatedly called Liz Cheney and invited her to be a guest on this show, to, as they say, debate the issues.

We called her again today and, as usual, got no response.

Why doesn‘t Liz Cheney want to debate the issues?

Today there is breaking news about Ms. Cheney‘s father.  Interviews Dick Cheney gave to the FBI about the Valerie Plame scandal were released today.

Joining us now to talk about what news was made in this release of documents is Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose organization fought to get the Cheney-FBI interview documents released.

Melanie, thanks for being here.  And congratulations on this.

MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND

ETHICS IN WASHINGTON:  Oh, thank you.  It was nice to get a victory.

MADDOW:  The lead in the A.P. wire report that announced this news today was that Cheney denied knowing who leaked Valerie Plame‘s identity as a CIA officer to the media.

Do you find that denial to be credible?

SLOAN:  No.  That‘s not at all credible.

Back in Scooter Libby‘s trial, it came out at that time that Scooter Libby and Cheney had had discussions about Valerie Wilson back in June of 2003.  But here it was in his transcript of his FBI interview, Mr. Cheney can‘t remember ever talking about Valerie Wilson‘s identity with Scooter Libby.

In fact, what‘s really notable about this transcript is that Mr.

Cheney can‘t actually remember anything about anything.

He says, by my count, I don‘t recall, I don‘t remember, I don‘t know, well over 75 times in this 25, 28 pages.  And really, he just refuses to be pinned down.

And he‘s certainly not going to let the facts get in his way.  He‘s confronted by his interviewers with his own notes, and he still can‘t manage to recall anything, sometimes not even able to recognize his own handwriting.

MADDOW:  He‘s literally confronted with things that he has written down in his own hand, and he denies knowledge of them.

SLOAN:  Yes.  He just says he can‘t remember and he can‘t recall.

And what‘s so interesting about this, of course, is Mr. Cheney is often considered to have a razor-sharp mind, a razor-sharp intellect and a terrific memory.  And certainly, he uses that to go on television and impugn other politicians on a regular basis.  And yet, here he sounds like, you know, your regular street perp.

“I don‘t remember.”  “I don‘t recall.”  “Oh, did I say that?”  “Yes, that just doesn‘t really ring a bell with me.”

MADDOW:  Is there anything in the documents that show or suggest that Dick Cheney might have given conflicting answers on some of these issues to what he had said on the record before?

SLOAN:  Well, you have to remember that he never really said anything on the record before.  This is the only time he was put on the record, and he didn‘t say all that much.  As I said, what he goes through in here is, he says he doesn‘t remember anything.

So, you‘ve really got to wonder why the Justice Department spent so much time and so much effort hiding this transcript from the American people.

You may remember that Henry Waxman had subpoenaed it back when he was the chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and the attorney general at the time, Michael Mukasey, had said, “No, we‘re not going to give that over, because of executive privilege.”

And so, Henry Waxman had dropped the matter, and that‘s when CREW decided to sue for it, thinking, you know what?  The American people deserve to know the truth here.

But sadly, we still don‘t.  Special Counsel Fitzgerald had said at the end of the Scooter Libby trial that there was a cloud over the vice presidency.  And that cloud remains.  We still don‘t know very much.

MADDOW:  What would you still like to see released?

SLOAN:  Well, it‘s hard to know what can be released.  I mean, there are redactions to this document, where certain things are left out.  But it‘s very minor.

The fact is, I don‘t know that it‘s anybody‘s transcript that‘s going to be released that‘s going to tell us the truth.  It would have to be that the principals would have to come clean.

Scooter Libby would have to tell us what really happened.  Karl Rove would have to tell us what really happened.  And Dick Cheney would have to tell us what really happened.  And really, there‘s not a lot of hope from those guys.

MADDOW:  And it‘s a little bit disappointing that they couldn‘t come clean and tell what really happened to the Department of Justice, or at least they didn‘t shed enough light on it when we look at their transcripts, to be able to tell the whole story from here out.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, again, congratulations on getting what has been released, released.  And thanks for joining us.

SLOAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  If one country fires missiles at another country all the time, like, say, once a week, are those two countries at war?

That was the question awkwardly hanging over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week while she was traveling in Pakistan.  Jonathan Turley will join us in just a moment to talk about whether or not we are allowed to be doing what we are undoubtedly doing in Pakistan.

But first, one more thing.  As you might have heard, we are in a national state of emergency, because of the H1N1 flu.  And we have been managing that state of emergency without a surgeon general.

In fact, we haven‘t had a confirmed surgeon general in this country since the summer of 2006.  That‘s when President Bush‘s last surgeon general, Richard Carmona, resigned, saying he was fed up with the Bush administration ignoring and obfuscating science when scientific findings didn‘t fit the administration‘s political agenda.

Since then, we‘ve had a few different people standing in as acting surgeons general.  But the job, America‘s top spokesperson on public health, hasn‘t really been filled with a confirmed surgeon general for now, more than three years.

At least it wasn‘t until now.  Last night, the Senate finally relented and confirmed Dr. Regina Benjamin to be America‘s new surgeon general.

President Obama had nominated her for the post way back in July.  Senate Republicans had been holding up her nomination in a fit of pique over the administration investigating health insurance companies for illegally lobbying against health reform.

Finally, Senate Republicans decided to relent.  And on a voice vote, the Senate confirmed Dr. Benjamin to be the nation‘s new surgeon general.  They confirmed it unanimously.  It was a unanimous vote, which means even the Republicans voted for her.

Countdown until they start calling her a secret plot to kill old people in three, two, one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had not faced an audience this tough on her since she made that awful “change you can Xerox” joke at that one presidential primary debate.  Check it out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Every time an American leader comes, he always emphasizes the fact that there should be exchange of information, intelligence all along.  But at the same time, the drone attacks are being carried out in our country and our people. 

They are causing so much collateral damage at the same time.  We, at one point, ask the United States of America to share the intelligence with us and carry it out.  And at the same time the drone attacks are still going on in Waziristan.  What does madam or America in general plan to do about that because it‘s creating a lot of frustration among our people. 

(APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE:  Well, I will not talk about that specifically.  But generally, let me say that there‘s a war going on. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Yes, there plainly is a war going on.  At least that‘s what it looks like when the United States is shooting missiles into another country on a weekly basis.  But technically, we‘re not supposed to be at war with the country at which we are shooting these particular missiles. 

As Secretary Clinton toured Pakistan this week, it was made clear to her that Pakistanis are not nearly as at peace with this very war-like tactic of ours as America seems to be. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Victims of drone attacks - is that terrorism? 

Or people being killed in a marketplace in Peshawar - is that terrorism? 

In the United States, do you perceive both victims as acts of terrorism?

CLINTON:  No, I do not.  I do not. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  United Nations committee has just ruled or suggested that drone attacks may constitute a violation of international law and it constitutes the execution of people without a trial. 

And Pakistan‘s Parliament, of course, has also requested that these drone attacks be stopped, yet they continue and Pakistani people have begun to resent them and associate them with U.S. policy towards Pakistan as a whole.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  Well, you know, I think what‘s important here is that there is a war going on, as several of you have said.  And I won‘t comment on that specific matter. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They have been relentless under the Obama administration.  Do you think and does the Obama administration feel that the loss of life and how people feel about them in Pakistan is worth it, given the minimal successes you get? 

CLINTON:  Again, I‘m not going to comment on any particular tactic or technology. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Whether or not U.S. officials comment on it, U.S. national security experts are starting to report more openly on the fact that we are using our miraculous flying robots to shoot missiles into Pakistan more than we ever have before. 

The pace of these CIA attacks on Pakistani territory has escalated under President Obama.  This year alone, the associated death toll is estimated anywhere from 300 to 700.  The Pakistanis who greeted Hillary Clinton this week want to know, and I have to admit I‘m fairly curious, are the drone strikes legal? 

Joining us is Jonathan Turley, professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University Law School.  Professor Turley, thanks for joining us tonight. 

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, GEORGE WASHINGTON

UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL:  Hi, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Under what legal authority is the U.S. making these CIA drone strikes in Pakistan? 

TURLEY:  Well, certainly they seem to claim some unstated authority, although we‘ve seen with George Bush, it‘s easy to claim authority.  In his case, he would claim authority even to do things defined as war crimes. 

It‘s much, much more difficult to find where that authority could possibly be.  This is not a nation that has attacked us.  It is not a failed nation.  And these are not ungoverned areas, despite our suggestions. 

These are traditional areas that are governed under a tribal system of government at the behest or with the permission of the Pakistani government.  So none of those categories fit. 

This is also not hot pursuit.  I mean, first of all, hot pursuit is something that is largely a product of the Law of the Seas.  It‘s not something that you do normally on territory.  But even if you get beyond that - and some people claim you can do hot pursuit on land - this is neither hot nor a pursuit.  This is basically taking out targets that appear. 

And then, finally, this is not what‘s called anticipatory defense or an anticipatory self-defense strike under Article 51 of the U.N.  Charter.  None of those categories fit. 

And what you‘re left with is basically a country saying, “We‘re at war with terrorism, and we‘re carrying out that war by attacking the territory of an ally.” 

MADDOW:  It is hard to talk about this issue, I think, in American politics right now.  And this issue has started to be discussed among strategists and national security reporters and other people who are sort of experts in this field.  But it‘s not getting wide political attention, I think, in part, because every American is on board with this strategic idea of targeting the senior membership of al-Qaeda. 

I count myself among the probably millions of Americans who would be happy to kill Osama Bin Laden with a spoon if I could.  But the idea that we are doing something in violation of the law in the name of making strategic gains against al-Qaeda is troubling in the long term and in terms of the overall impact with our ally in Pakistan. 

If it is found that this is not legal, what would the United States do?  Would we just try to change the law or would we stop doing it? 

TURLEY:  Well, I‘ll try to get that image of you with the killer spoon out there hunting down terrorists.  It‘s a good one, but you really put your finger on the problem here.  We are destabilizing the world by violating international law. 

International law is built on a couple of pillars, and the most important one is the concept of sovereignty.  And what we‘re doing is saying that we can unilaterally violate sovereignty. 

Now, we‘re probably doing that with the silent consent of Pakistan.  They have notably not made any objections in the U.N. while they make political statements.  But what are we going to do when North Korea or Iran takes the same types of measures across the border? 

We will likely say, well, that‘s just not the same thing and we‘ll be once again saying it‘s not the same thing because it‘s not us.  And that‘s not a good basis upon which to maintain international law.  We benefit from international law greatly from the stability that it brings.  So we really have here a mission in search of a rationale.  And that makes it a very dangerous mission. 

MADDOW:  Jonathan Turley, professor of Constitutional Law at George Washington University Law School.  We started looking into this issue.  I talked to Jane Mayer about it last week, did some independent research on it.  We got staffers working on it.  And we kept coming up with the answer that we needed to talk to you about it.  So thank you for being available to do so.  I really appreciate it.

TURLEY:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  How did Keith Olbermann, Bill O‘Reilly and I wind up on the same side of a domestic political fight?  It took the singular power of Orly Taitz to do it.  And Keith, supporters of Ronald Reagan and I have something else in common as well. 

Turns out former President George H.W. Bush has unflattering nicknames for all of us.  It is strange bedfellows night in Ms.

Information.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  What if people in China had their own way to navigate the Internet and it had nothing to do with our familiar WWWs?  Coming soon to a laptop far, far away, the World Wide Web is about to get a lot worldwide-ier. 

The Internet‘s unofficial awesomeness correspondent, Xeni Jardin, of “BoingBoing.net” joins us to explain in just a moment.  It will blow your mind.

But first, a couple of holy mackerel stories in today‘s news.  Another wrinkle forms in Republican Party geography. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG HOFFMAN, CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS:  The answer to that is that as the only conservative Ronald Reagan Republican in this race, the only people supporting me are the people that believe in the values and the ideals that represent conservatism in the lower taxes, less spending and less government regulations and red tape. 

And I believe that that represents the ideals and the values of the voters of the 23rd district better than any other candidate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That was conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman in last night‘s congressional debate in northern New York.  In that race, Mr.  Hoffman is running against a Democrat and a Republican, who some on the far right consider to be too liberal to be a real Republican. 

So how does Mr. Hoffman differentiate himself from the other Republican, the one who is not endorsed by, say, Sarah Palin?  He does so by calling himself a Reagan Republican.  This is how conservatives talk to each other.  This is what they do now. 

It is the St. Reagan phenomenon, which has always sort of bothered me, because it ignores some conservatively inconvenient truths about Mr. Reagan like, for example, the fact that Ronald Reagan raised taxes, the fact that he increased the national debt, the fact that he called for a world without nuclear weapons.

And now, a fourth point of Republican ideological awkwardness has emerged, and it involves Reagan, George H.W. Bush and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.  In a new interview with “The Nation” magazine, Mikhail Gorbachev recounts this conversation he had with Bush the senior. 

Gorbachev says, quote, “By the way, in 1987, after my first visit

to the United States, Vice President Bush accompanied me to the airport and

told me, ‘Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative.  All the

blockheads and dummies are for him.  And when he says that something is

necessary, they trust him.‘”

So according to Poppy Bush, Reagan was an extreme conservative supported only by blockheads and dummies.  Look on the bright side, Reagan Republicans, at least he didn‘t call you a sick puppy.  Trust me, that one sort of hurts. 

And I will admit that it is at times a pleasure to be attacked politically.  For example, it is a pleasure and maybe almost even an honor to be attacked by the top birther in our country, Orly Taitz, the woman who dauntlessly advocates the disproven theory that Barack Obama was not really born in the United States, that his parents lied to Hawaiian officials about his birth and, thus, he is secretly not really president of the United States. 

Despite how nice it is to have Orly Taitz dislike me openly, never did I imagine I would be joined on her enemies list by FOX News anchor Bill O‘Reilly.  Despite some other far out conspiracy theories that Mr. O‘Reilly has endorsed, he emphatically is not a birther. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  The birther claim is just stupid. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Here‘s something I‘ve never said before.  Mr. O‘Reilly, I agree.  That agreement has gotten me and Bill O‘Reilly and Keith Olbermann lumped together on Orly Taitz‘ Web site.  That‘s where she‘s calling for a protest next month outside of Fox‘s studios here in New York. 

Why not MSNBC, Ms. Taitz?  Why only Fox?  Quote, “Keep in mind what O‘Reilly did is more dangerous, more harmful than what some idiots like Rachel Maddow or Keith Obertmann(sic) did, since people believe O‘Reilly to be fair and balanced.” 

I find it discomforting that I‘m on a political list with Bill O‘Reilly, but imagine how he must feel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Here‘s a government takeover story maybe even conservatives could love.  Treece, Kansas, in the far southeast part of the state, was long ago a booming mine town.  It‘s now a contaminated toxic mess piled high with lead-contaminated mining waste. 

After years of delay, the Environmental Protection Agency has just concluded that the people of Treece face, quote, “a unique and urgent threat from the legacy of pollution.” 

And the government is now going to shut down the whole town, try to clean it up and meanwhile pay to relocate its entire population which is now only 140 people.  It also means that you and I now own Treece, Kansas, and its uninhabitable poisoned land.  Talk about a toxic asset. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  This is what a typical American computer keyboard looks like.  This is familiar to everyone who uses a computer for anything, right?  The standard key layout with the QWERTY in the top row of letters where your left hand is. 

And because of that letter pattern, we sometimes call this type of standard keyboard a QWERTY keyboard.  In Switzerland, the German language keyboard there starts off like ours but theirs doesn‘t spell QWERTY.  It spells QWERTZ. 

The French keyboard, upper left corner, spells out AZERTY.  Confounding Frenchies.  Check out one of the keyboards that‘s used in Turkey.  Theirs starts with F, and then there‘s a G, then a letter that sort of looks like a G but totally isn‘t.  It‘s a whole different ball of Turkish wax. 

And if all that is why you‘re dealing with mostly Latin script letter like we use.  When you get into languages that don‘t use anything like our alphabet, then it gets really interesting. 

But you‘ll notice, in a lot of cases, even while there are characters on keys that look way different than the letters English speakers are used to, like on this typical Chinese keyboard, you‘ll notice that there‘s the character on a key, in this case Chinese, but there‘s also a Latin script letter on there alongside the character. 

Now, that‘s not necessarily just because English is the international language of commerce, which it still sort of is.  The reason you have familiar to us English alphabet-style Roman letters on keyboards all over the world because if you want to get online, you‘ve pretty much got to use our alphabet.  Even if you‘re in Japan or Iraq or the majority of the Internet-using world right now where the native language doesn‘t use the type of letters we‘re used to. 

Right now, all over the world, when you‘re online, you‘re typing in Web addresses that at least in part use Latin-script letters.  And as of today, that is all about to change. 

The people in charge of this stuff, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers today voted to un-Latinize the Internet.  They have internationalized the domain names of the world, which means that the Web now will look a lot less like it was invented in America, which means that keyboards will get way more interesting, which means that there are going to be a gazillion new ways to misspell web addresses. 

Here to help us grasp what I‘m sure is the magnificent international impact of this change that I can‘t quite grasp is our official guest/non-resident expert on systems of tubes, Xeni Jardin, editor and partner of the blog, “BoingBoing.net.”  Xeni, good to see you.  Thanks for joining us. 

XENI JARDIN, EDITOR AND PARTNER, “BOINGBOING.NET”:  Always a pleasure, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  How do you think this is going to affect the average American Internet user and the average user overseas? 

JARDIN:  Well, you know, some journalists were calling this a bad day for the English language.  Well, it‘s a great day if your native language is Chinese or Greek or if you read most of the things that you read in Hebrew or even Cyrillic. 

For many populations around the world, until now, they‘ve had to sort of take this extra leap to our native language when they want to type in a domain name.  And now that‘s going to change.  It‘s going to start actually just with the domain extensions. 

So for instance, MSNBC.com, that dot-com part is the extension.  It‘s going to start in the middle of November with extensions that are country specific - do for instance, dot-cn for China. 

Soon, you‘ll be able to type in the Chinese language characters that mean China.  And eventually, that will also extend to commercial and educational and nonprofit domains. 

MADDOW:  OK.  I don‘t know how to type the characters that mean China in Chinese on my normal keyboard, though.  How will that work? 

JARDIN:  Well, you know, I mentioned that there will be many different ways that will still make it very easy for you, an English speaker, to find those domains.  This is really not going to heavily impact English language speakers or anyone around the world who‘s using a Latin alphabet to access the Internet. 

This is about the next billion users on the Net.  And you know

what?  They‘re not going to be using the Latin alphabet.  They‘re not going

to be coming from America.  They‘re going to be coming from other countries

·         China, India. 

Right now in China, 20 percent to 25 percent of that population is online.  And that‘s already 300 million users.  That‘s about the size of the total population of the United States.  And that‘s only 20 percent. 

So think about like the guy who‘s a farmer in southern China, you know, tooling around his rice farm with a little mobile phone that he wants to use to check a, you know, popular Chinese language news site.  Why should he have to learn English? 

Many of these people with the next generation of Internet access

·         these are maybe people who are poor.  They may be people who only have like a primary school education.  They‘re not going to be learning English anyway.  They should have the right to access information as easily as you and I do. 

MADDOW:  Xeni Jardin, editor and partner at “BoingBoing.net,” thank you for joining us tonight and helping me to understand something that I know is a really big deal, but makes me feel like my brain is sprained.  I appreciate it. 

JARDIN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Next on this show, my friend Kent Jones will be here with his “Weak in Review” - it‘s W-E-A-K.  I hear that a happiness hat is involved.  You will want to see this.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Here now is Kent Jones with a look back at the last seven days.  Kent, what have you got this week?

KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST:  Hi, Rachel.  Happy hallow-weak.  Check it out. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES:  First up, pumpkin abuse of the weak.  For most people, Halloween is a time for dressing up unless you‘re taking part in the Boulder, Colorado naked pumpkin run.  Oh, now, that is a scary costume.  Trick?  Yes.  Treat?  Not nearly as much as you think it is.  Weak. 

Next, plastic man of the weak.  Barbie isn‘t the only blinged-up hottie in Dollywood.  Check out Mattel‘s new Ken doll which is called “Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken.”  Besides the pink polo shirt, white loafers and pampered Pekingese, Ken comes with a platinum card and a smug sense of entitlement.  So this is how Ken spends his seven-figure bonus from Goldman Sachs.  Weak. 

Finally, pick me up of the weak.  Do you ever wish you could smile your way through life regardless of how you actually feel inside?  Then you need the happiness hat, which has a conditioning device that can tell if you‘re smiling and stabs you with a metal spike if you‘re not.  Frowning?  Pain.  Big smile.  No pain.  So smile, everyone, smile!  Wider, wider!  Are we having fun yet?  Weak.

(END VIDEOTAPE)  

MADDOW:  That is so terrifying. 

JONES:  It‘s a scary hat.  Stabs you in the back there. 

MADDOW:  It‘s also like - there‘s a whole mechanism that somebody designed in order to make the stabbing happen. 

JONES:  Yes.  You will smile.  Do it! 

MADDOW:  Kent, are you going to dress up for Halloween? 

JONES:  I don‘t think so. 

MADDOW:  No -

JONES:  Something like this, probably.  Yes.

MADDOW:  My dog is dressing up as a pirate. 

JONES:  Nice.

MADDOW:  I was thinking about dressing up as the man on the moon with a black eye because we bombed the moon. 

JONES:  I think you should.

MADDOW:  Yes.  Or I might just nap. 

JONES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  But either way.  Happy Halloween. 

JONES:  And you -

MADDOW:  Thank you, Kent.  Thank you for watching tonight.  We will see you back here on Monday.  Have a very, very good weekend.  Happy Halloween.  Good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2009 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.

No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.

User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s

personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,

nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion

that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC‘s copyright or

other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal

transcript for purposes of litigation.>


  MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW  
  
Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
 
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:
 

Sponsored links

Resource guide