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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Frederick Feit, Howard Dean, Quentin Tarantino, Greg Semendinger

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Thank you for staying with us and summarizing that as it happened.  Much appreciate it.

On tonight show, Quentin Tarantino and Howard Dean are both joining us in studio tonight, as well as the NYPD detective who took the aerial photos of 9/11 as it was happening that were released this week.  That is all ahead.

But we begin tonight with that breaking news.  Former President Bill Clinton is recovering from a cardiac procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital this afternoon.  His cardiologist just made this statement moments ago.


DR. ALAN SCHWARTZ, PRESIDENT CLINTON‘S CARDIOLOGIST:  Today, President Clinton came to see me because over the past several days, he had been having episodes of chest discomfort that were brief in nature, but because they were repetitive, he contacted me and came in.

On the basis of his symptoms, which were occurring at rest, it was decided to admit him to the hospital and perform angiography.  His initial tests, electrocardiogram and blood test showed no evidence of heart attack.  Again, I repeat, he did not have a heart attack or any damage to his heart.

The pictures were taken of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and of the four bypass grafts that he had six years ago.  One of the bypass grafts was completely blocked.  And because of that, and the fact that he was having repetitive symptoms at rest, he was treated with two stents that were placed into the—his own coronary artery.

The procedure went very smoothly.  President Clinton has since been up and walking around and visiting with his family.  He‘s in good spirits and we hope to have him go home tomorrow.


MADDOW:  In terms of the history here, our nation‘s 42nd President, Mr. Clinton, underwent quadruple bypass surgery at the same hospital from which the physician was speaking in 2004.  Mr. Clinton required another operation six months after that bypass due to a somewhat rare post surgical complication involving scar tissue and fluid buildup in his lungs.

His cardiologist is saying tonight that one of the bypass grafts from the bypass procedure six years ago was found today to be completely blocked.  Now, of course, having stents placed in heart arteries is a routine procedure, sort of, for patients who suffer from heart disease.  A stent basically creates a little scaffold that holds the blood vessel open, allowing blood to flow.

NBC News chief science and health correspondent Robert Bazell told us today that about a million Americans get stents every year.

One strange fact, the inventor of the coronary stent was Charles Dotter.  This is sort of an odd fact that will help you remember the thinking behind what stents do.  Charles Dotter created his own trademark showing a crossed pipe and wrench.  Mr. Dotter said the emblem meant—this relates to the stent—that if a plumber can do it to pipes, we can do it to blood vessels.

Joining us now is Dr. Fred Feit.  He‘s an associate professor of medicine at NYU Medical Center.  He‘s director of their cardiac catheterization lab.

Dr. Feit, thanks so much for being here.


MADDOW:  Doctor, Mr. Clinton‘s doctor this evening, Dr. Schwartz, describing repetitive symptoms at rest as being what initiated the contact for President Clinton to his doctor.  What does he really mean?

FEIT:  Well, Rachel, the heart is supplied by a number of coronary arteries, three arteries, and as you know, six years ago, the president had blockages in those arteries and, therefore, bypass grafts were put onto his heart.  When there‘s an imbalance between the need for blood from the heart and the supply of blood, you get a feeling of like a cramp in the heart—exactly what the president was describing—a sense of discomfort, a sense of tightness, a sense of pressure.

So, it‘s just as he developed, as this graft closed and he became dependent again on the clogged up artery, his heart was not getting enough blood with even minimal exercise.

MADDOW:  How major a procedure was what the president underwent today?  We heard his physician say that it was about an hour long operation, but what actually happens and how hard a thing is it to endure?

FEIT:  So, it‘s not difficult to endure.  It‘s a procedure that has to be taken very seriously, though.  I describe it as doing a bypass from outside the body.

So, basically, what we do is to bring the patient into what looks like an operating room, but it‘s a sterile environment with x-ray.  And under local anesthesia, we make a tiny—place a needle into the big artery in the leg, the terminal artery down in the groin and through that, place catheters into the heart.  So, the patient feels something akin to an I.V.

And after we take the pictures, as Dr. Schwartz indicated, a blockage is identified and then a tiny little guide wire placed across the blockage.  And then once you get that little wire across, you can deliver the stent.

So, the procedure is considered very routine as was said, about a million are done each year in this country.  We do several thousand in our medical centers.  They do at Columbia.  And the mortality rate is very, very low, less than a half of a percent.  The success rate is very, very high.

So—in most cases, it is a routine, simple procedure.

MADDOW:  President Clinton is 63 years old.  People are concerned about his—obviously, just his health, also, his prognosis moving forward.  Is it likely that he‘ll have limits on his future behavior level of activity, anything like that, that would be anything different than he had before this?

FEIT:  No.


FEIT:  I think that he will make a complete recovery.  From the reports that we heard, all of his other bypass grafts are open.  His heart muscle is fine.  He‘s never had a significant heart attack.  So, I would expect him to return to his complete active lifestyle as good as ever.

MADDOW:  Dr. Fred Feit of New York University cardiologist, thank you very much for your time tonight.

FEIT:  You bet.

MADDOW:  A short notice to have you here.  I really appreciate it.

FEIT:  You‘re very welcome.  It‘s a pleasure.

MADDOW:  OK.  Speaking of doctors, Governor Howard Dean will join us live and in person—coming up next.  And the interview tonight is Director Quentin Tarantino, who is not a doctor but is still very fancy.

Stick around, please.



THEN-SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER:  I don‘t think it‘s radical to ask senators to vote.  I don‘t think it‘s radical to expect senators to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.


MADDOW:  In the spring of 2005, Senate Republicans led by then-Majority Leader Bill Frist started talking about something called the “nuclear option.”  The nuclear option was a put up or shut up ultimatum to Senate Democrats: allow up or down, no filibuster votes on President Bush‘s judicial nominees—excuse me—or else.  Or else Republicans would kill the filibuster.  They would just get rid of it.

Well, now, you know, Republicans never really had to go nuclear because Democrats were very afraid of this threat.  Some of them went into “I‘m afraid” deal-making mode at the time.  Fourteen senators, seven Republicans and seven Democrats, then struck a deal to allow President Bush‘s judicial nominees to go forward.

The crisis averted, the filibuster lived.  Bush got his judges.  And Democrats kept the filibuster alive, although they promised not to use it very much.  Great deal, right?

When Republicans threatened to go nuclear on Democrats back then, it‘s because Democrats, they said, were abusing the filibuster.  Here‘s what that looked like in that Congress: 54 filibusters when Democrats were in the minority at that time.  Then when the Republicans became the minority in 2007 -- boing -- 112 filibusters.  Republicans now have a de facto standing filibuster on practically everything.  They‘ve made it so that passing anything in the Senate requires 60 votes, a supermajority, every time.

This situation has never existed before.  This was not the situation in any previous Congress ever—really.  I know that beltway reporting always makes it seem like 60 is normal.  This is the way it‘s always been.  Democrats did it too when they were in the minority.

It is not true.  This really has never happened before in the history of the U.S. Senate.  When Republicans were mad about Democratic filibusters in 2005 and they threatened to kill the filibuster all together, Democrats were doing nothing anywhere near as extreme as what is being done now.

And so, finally, after starting to figure out that maybe this is a problem, it‘s Democrats now who are coming around to a nuclear state of mind.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘ve never seen a time when the operating norm to get anything passed was a supermajority of 60 votes.  No matter what—no matter what the bill is, it‘s filibustered.  It‘s required to get 60 votes.  You can‘t rule by a supermajority.  You can‘t govern if you require a supermajority.


MADDOW:  That man is both the vice president and the president of the Senate, don‘t forget, who would have a key role to play in setting or changing Senate rules.  Even long-time defenders of the filibuster like Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut are now acknowledging that the Senate has become, in Senator Dodd‘s words, “a dysfunctional institution,” describing Republicans‘ current use of the filibuster as “abusive.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also sounding the alarm, telling “Roll Call” newspaper, “A constitutional majority is 51 votes.  Is there never anything that can be done without 60 votes?  It isn‘t legitimate in terms of passing legislation.”

Senator—excuse me—Speaker Pelosi noted that more than 200 bills that have passed the House are bottled up in the Senate now, a vast majority of which got more than 50 Republican votes when they passed the House.

Today, we moved a bit beyond just complaining about this state of affairs, towards some action to fix it.  Democratic Senators Tom Harkin and Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation to change the filibuster rules in the Senate finally.  Under the proposal, if 60 votes couldn‘t be achieved to break a filibuster, then after two days, that threshold would drop to 57 votes.  Two days later, it would drop to 54 votes.  Two days later, it would drop to a simple majority of 51 votes needed to break a filibuster.


SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA:  The abuse of the filibuster by Republicans is unprecedented.  It has become routine.  It has become increasingly reckless.  It is wrecking our nation.  The filibuster is tearing apart the glue that holds our nation together.


MADDOW:  So says Democrat Tom Harkin now.  And as the Republicans get ready to cry foul over what Senator Harkin is trying to do, they should first check the archives of themselves from back when they tried to go nuclear just a few years ago.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, KENTUCKY:  Let‘s get back to the way the Senate operated for over 200 years, up or down votes on the president‘s nominee no matter who the president is, no matter who‘s in control of the Senate.


MADDOW:  This week, President Obama suggested that he may try to appoint his labor relation—National Labor Relations Board—excuse me, can we back up for a second?

Thank you very much.  Keep going.  Thank you very much.

Senator McConnell, there calling for up or down votes on nominees no matter who‘s in control.  This week, President Obama‘s nominee to head up the National Labor Relations Board went before the Senate.  His nomination was killed when 33 senators voted to filibuster him.  Thirty-three senators are voting to block an up or down vote, including Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


MCCONNELL:  Up or down votes on the president‘s nominee, no matter who the president is, no matter who‘s in control of the Senate.


MADDOW:  Starts with H, four syllables, rhymes with “zipocracy.”

When President Obama suggested this week that he may try to appoint his labor relations nominee anyway, when the Senate is in recess, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch objected, saying, quote: “I sincerely hope the White House does not circumvent the will of the Senate by appointing him when the Senate is out of session.”  And by “the will of Senate,” Senator Hatch means the 33 out of 100 senators who voted no, not the 52 who voted yes.  That‘s what‘s considered the will of the Senate now—unless it really is time to go nuclear.

Joining us is someone whom I suspect may disagree with me on this:

former chairman of the Democratic Party, former Vermont governor, Howard Dean.

Governor Dean, it‘s good to see you.  Thanks for coming in.

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN:  I only mildly disagree, Rachel.  I‘m always in favor of anything nuclear involving Republicans.

I mean, they are so irresponsible.  I really—and honestly, I‘ve said this for a long time: they put the good of their party ahead of the good of the country.  When that happens, they don‘t deserve to serve in office anymore and I think we‘re there now.

The only regret that I have is the filibuster has been useful when we‘ve had to stop extremist ideologues, such as some of the people on the Supreme Court that decided corporations giving money to influence politics in this country was a good idea last week.  And so, we do need to block some of these extremist activist judges that the Republicans put on the Supreme Court from time to time.

So, some day we‘ll be in the minority again.  I hope it won‘t be soon.  And we want to think about that before we get rid of the filibuster.  But, I do think that the Republicans are so irresponsible that we just may have no choice whatsoever than to have a wholesale reform of the Senate rules.

MADDOW:  Democrats are in charge now.  Republican filibuster abuse is off the charts.  What Republicans were complaining about when they were trying to get rid of the filibuster, then, they were describing what was going on then as extreme.  Just absolutely has no comparison to what‘s happening now.  It just doesn‘t seem like there‘s any accountability for that, unless Democrats play hardball.

DEAN:  I think that‘s true, Rachel.  I mean, it‘s too bad really, but the Republicans have decided to wreck the system in order to get their way.  And I think that‘s bad for the country and I think the country comes first.

So, even though having a filibuster would help us in the long run if we get back into the minority, which statistically some day we‘re likely to do, hopefully not soon, I think for the good of the country, we probably have to go forward, eliminate the filibuster.

The other thing we got to do is eliminate this ridiculous hold process.  You know, Richard Shelby has holds on 80 people simply because he wants some pork for his home district.

MADDOW:  Right.

DEAN:  And here, the Republicans are screaming about pork and earmarks, and they‘re holding up 80 people simply so Senator Shelby can get some more pork and earmarks.  This is a bad scene for the country.  So, probably, it has to be cleaned up.

MADDOW:  And Senator Shelby did ultimately drop that, and now, he‘s just holding three people.

DEAN:  Rachel, he only dropped it after it was exposed on CBS News and his own constituents were disgusted with him.

MADDOW:  Well, that‘s—I think that‘s part of the important—that‘s the importance of this issue.  I mean, you are famously author of the 50 states strategy that helped Democrats swamp Republicans in 2006.  In terms of political strategy, looking ahead to 2010, can Democrats talking about Republican obstruction, things like what Shelby did, things like filibuster abuse, Democrats talking about what Republicans are doing wrong in the Senate—does that reap electoral gains?

DEAN:  It will help some, focusing on Republican obstructionism—


DEAN:  -- because the Republicans are obstructionists.  They have nothing to offer.  They haven‘t offered anything.

MADDOW:  But complaining about the way they are doing stuff in Washington sort of seems like weak sauce to me.

DEAN:  It‘s not enough.


DEAN:  Well, our problem is, we‘re not tough enough.  If George Bush had been president of the United States and wanted health care reform—an unlikely scenario—but if he wanted it, it would have been on his desk in by—you know, eight months by August, because George Bush used reconciliation, it‘s a budget process, to get pass everything with 51 votes five times.

We haven‘t used it once.  We haven‘t shown the spine to do that.  And we need, once again, a spinal transplant in the Democratic Party to play hardball.

This is what—the country is at stake here.  This is not about Democratic versus Republican anymore, this is about whether we want to move forward and have real reform, or do they want to let a small ideological obstructionist minority screw up the country so they can take power again.  And I don‘t think we ought to put up with that.

MADDOW:  You wrote an open letter that I saw in Daily Kos this week titled “You Still Have the Power,” sort of a pep talk for progressives.  If you were the DNC chair right now, what would priority number one be for you in terms of reenergizing the progressive base?  Would it be just getting something passed, using reconciliation?  Moving against the filibuster?

DEAN:  Yes.  We got it.  We‘ve got to get something passed.  You can‘t run an election without anything passed.  One of the biggest problems in the health care bill is it doesn‘t go into effect until 2013.  We need something that‘s going to in effect by 2010.

Well, obviously, it‘s too late for comprehensive health care reform, but we can still move forward with some significant reform, but it has to be in effect in 2010, so we can go to folks and say, “See those guys?  They filibustered and brought the Senate to a standstill to bring pork to Alabama.  We got you some health care reform.  We didn‘t get everything you wanted because they stopped it, but we got you some health care reform.”

MADDOW:  And the first half of that is nowhere near as powerful unless you got the second half of that, which is, “Here‘s what we delivered.”  That‘s right.

DEAN:  But, fundamentally, for the sake of the republic, we got to reform the Senate because—as Chris Dodd said—it‘s a failed institution at this point.

MADDOW:  You didn‘t disagree with me after all.

DEAN:  I didn‘t.

MADDOW:  Thank you.  Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic Party, former Vermont government—thanks.  It‘s always good to see you.

DEAN:  My pleasure.

MADDOW:  Appreciate it.

DEAN:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Next up: on the interview, Quentin Tarantino will discuss his next film in which a liberal cable news anchor single-handedly defeats the KBG and topples the Soviet Union using karate, taekwondo and acute interviewing skills.  He doesn‘t know about this yet.

Stay right there.



BRAD PITT, ACTOR:  I assume you know who we are. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are Aldo, the Apache. 

PITT:  Well, Werner, if you heard of us, you probably heard we ain‘t in the prisoner taking business.  We in the killing Nazi business.  And cousin, business is booming. 

That leaves two ways we can play this out - either kill you or let you go.  Up the road a piece there is an orchard.  Besides you, we know there is another (EXPLETIVE DELETED) patrol around here somewhere. 

If that patrol were to have any crack shots, that orchard would be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sniper‘s delight.  If you ever want to eat a sauerkraut sandwich again, you got to show me on this map where they are.  You got to tell me how many they are.  And you got to tell me what kind of artillery they‘re carrying with them. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can‘t expect me to divulge information that would put German lives in danger. 

PITT:  Well, now, that‘s where you‘re wrong because that‘s exactly what I expect.  I need to know about Germans hiding in trees.  And you need to tell me and you need to tell me right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I respectfully refuse, sir. 

PITT:  Actually, we‘re all tickled to hear you say that.  Quite frankly, watching Donny beat Nazis to death is the closest we ever get to going to the movies.  Donny! 


PITT:  Got us a German here who wants to die for country.  Oblige him. 


MADDOW:  Quentin Tarantino joins us in studio now.  “Inglourious Basterds” is up for eight Academy Awards, two for Mr. Tarantino himself.  He‘s nominated for best director and best original screenplay.  Quentin Tarantino, it‘s very nice to meet you. 


MADDOW:  So my confession first is that right after that happens in that clip - that‘s happened - of course, a man is beaten to death with a baseball bat. 


MADDOW:  I have never seen all of any of your movies.  I have heard all of them. 

TARANTINO:  Check vision? 

MADDOW:  But I can‘t look.  Does that bug you?  Do you hear that a lot? 

TARANTINO:  Oh, no.  It doesn‘t bug me at all, because actually, I think - I mean, you‘re talking about something so gruesome that you would never be there in the first place.  But that‘s actually still you and your brethren, all right, having a good time.  All right?  Like, “Oh, I can‘t see.” 

And you‘ve got to peek through the fingers a little bit.  That‘s being coy.  You‘re actually kind of enjoying the experience a little bit.

MADDOW:  I‘m enjoying hearing the guy beaten to death and knowing it‘s happening but not seeing it? 

QUENTIN:  The fact that you don‘t just walk out of the room or walk out of the theater and turn it off shows, OK, you‘re still down with it.  You have the experience one way or the other. 

MADDOW:  For me, it‘s actually sort of equivalent to - you know, like when you watch Comedy Central, you watch Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.  You know that when they‘re taping their shows, they swear.  They say the F-word.  They say everything and then it gets beeped afterwards. 

It‘s not like somebody stopping themselves from saying it or saying “heck” instead of “hell.”  There is a certain satisfaction even if you can‘t hear it of knowing that it happened in the first place. 

TARANTINO:  Well, you know, it‘s funny because Eli Roth, who plays the bear Jew.  This was the guy who does the beating-to-death of the said soldier. 

MADDOW:  Of the rather heroic German. 

TARANTINO:  Yes, exactly.  I‘m kind of proud of that, actually.  But the thing about is when he did his movie on DVD, “Cabin Fever,” and it was released, he actually has a section where you can watch it in chick vision where, literally, just as soon as things start getting rough, then all of a sudden, these fingers go over the screen and cover your eyes and when it‘s done, they reveal themselves. 

MADDOW:  So this is the one chick-like thing about me.  I have now figured it out.  Very good. 

TARANTINO:  And I am the one who found it.  Yes. 

MADDOW:  You brought it to me.  Thank you very much. 

TARANTINO:  You‘re so girlie. 

MADDOW:  I am.  I am, secretly.  Here‘s one of the things that I think is so interesting about the film.  And I‘m surprised this isn‘t the mainstream way it‘s getting talked about.  But it‘s not just a revenge fantasy about World War II.  It‘s a torture and terrorism fantasy. 

I mean, the whole idea behind what Brad Pitt and these soldiers are doing is that they‘re not just killing Nazis.  They‘re scalping them, terrorizing them, humiliating them, doing them in a way that is supposed to instill even more fear than just death. 

TARANTINO:  Definitely.  You took it right out of my mouth.  Yes.  I mean, basically what they‘re doing - you described it really, really well.  To put in even shorter nutshell, they‘re actually doing literally the Apache resistance, but against the Nazis, against the Germans. 

And that was one of the things - one of the reasons I wanted to do something like that, other than for all the other reasons you said before about - it‘s a revenge fantasy and this and that.  We‘ve never seen it before.  I was trying to do like a spaghetti western but using World War II iconography. 

So in my re-imagining of this whole thing, I kind of placed the Jews as the Indians in this scenario.  And that is part of the whole thing.  You know, when they say they ambush a German patrol of six guys and then they scalp them, maybe even take their shoes off, so when they are found there is even less dignity in the death - all these little things that they do. 

It isn‘t about the six guys.  It‘s about the 106 Germans in Nazi occupied France that are going to hear about it.  And literally, one of the ways the Apaches were able to fight both between the Spaniards and the Mexicans and U.S. Cavalry, they were able to fight people of a thousand people army with sometimes as little as 40 to 20 people simply because you were so terrified to be captured by these guys, that you would kill yourself or even kill women and children if they were by you for fear. 

MADDOW:  So it‘s like a force multiplier that the psychological warfare component of it makes you much more impressive than the six guys you really are because of the tactics. 

TARANTINO:  That‘s it.  To really just get them where they live.  And also, you‘ve got them afraid of a group of people, of Jews, that they feel they are stronger, who are weaker than them, who they‘re superior to. 

So if you actually get them, then actually, the German Nazis afraid of being captured by Jewish males.  Well, then now, you‘ve really done something. 

MADDOW:  You‘re also writing the modern strategic history of al-Qaeda. 


MADDOW:  Right? 


TARANTINO:  You are one of the few people that really bring that up. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

TARANTINO:  Now, I‘ve seen people who have seen the movie like three or four times and it never quite sinks into them.  But that was never something that I necessarily set out to do.  I wasn‘t trying to make a terrorist Iraq commentary with the film. 

It was just what made sense for the characters to do at that time.  Yes they‘re strapping bombs on themselves. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

TARANTINO:  And they‘re walking into a theater crowded with evil civilians and they are prepared to blow it up. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  And it‘s American suicide bombers making us sort of

sympathize with the suicide bombers, which is -

TARANTINO:  Yes.  Even the character, Landa, the Jew hunter, the Nazi

character in the film - he even makes a reference to it.  He goes your

mission - some would call it a terrorist plot -

MADDOW:  Yes. 

TARANTINO:  Is kaput. 

MADDOW:  And then, I mean, I don‘t know if this was - you‘re saying that wasn‘t sort of the thinking behind it.  But then, you get the scene where Brad Pitt, as this heroic terrorist anti-Nazi fighter gets a bag put over his head when he gets arrested by the Nazis.  I‘m just flashing Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo on the thing. 

TARANTINO:  It was funny.  Again, I wasn‘t trying to necessarily make a political point in there.  It literally was just the next step in the story as far as I was concerned. 

However, once I did it, the irony was not lost on me at all.  But you know, that was one of the things that I actually thought that - it was one of the things that when I was all done.  Because I think there are a lot of things like that - not about that issue, but there‘s a lot of things in this movie that are not used to seeing in other World War II movies. 

I thought that was one of the aspects that would actually make the movie not just seem like a World War II movie that it‘s like here and you‘re looking at it in the eyes of the past. 

I wanted the film sort of the way “Bonnie and Clyde” worked when it came out.  It was an old genre took place in the ‘30s, but it was actually telling you something about the time today.  And that was what I was trying to do with this in this genre. 

MADDOW:  What you get - I mean, the movie is 100 percent catharsis.  You know, it‘s about the ultimate revenge fantasy.  And horrible things happen to the worst people and you cheer for stuff that you‘ve always dreamed would happen and it does really happen because you rewrite the history. 

That is all happening on this very surface level.  But in order to make it layered, you do have to have the heroic German guy and you do have to have the vaguely terroristic Americans in that film.  

TARANTINO:  I mean, it would be easy to just set up a situation where we just go oh, kill the Nazis, rah, rah.  But I don‘t play it that easy.  Like for instance, on the interrogation scene that you just saw, under any criteria of bravery in warfare, that German passes the test under any criteria. 

And, yes it would have been easy to make him a cringing coward and it would have been more rah, rah, rah in the audience.  It would be like watching “Rocky.”  But you know, that‘s too easy for what I‘m trying to do. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Did you watch a bunch of German propaganda films and like German movies from the ‘30s in all that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?  It is a movie about movies at its core.  It trumps the core of the plot. 


MADDOW:  Did you watch a lot of the old German films in order to do this? 

TARANTINO:  Yes, yes.  Both what they called the early Weimar films, all right, which is - Goebbels has considered the Jewish German intellectual cinema.  I watched a lot of that and I watched a lot of the actual German propaganda movies made at the time because I was really excited about the idea that no one has ever actually dealt with Goebbels as the studio head that he was. 

MADDOW:  And he made hundreds of films. 

TARANTINO:  Yes, 800 movies.  For about eight years, he ran the German film industry.  And you know, we hear about movies like Jud Sass and we hear about movies like “The Eternal Jew.”  We hear all about the anti-Semitic ones.  And if you thought that that was the only thing - you would think that was the only kind of movies he made. 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

TARANTINO:  There were actually very few of those.  They made them to make a couple points at different points in the war.  But the majority of the movies made under Goebbels were like musicals glockenspiel musicals and romantic comedies and you know, stories of great older men of German past. 

In fact, the idea is if you were watching - the kind of the point being was if you were a German citizen watching movies in the theaters and the only - your only knowledge of the war was what you saw in the movies, you wouldn‘t even know there was a war going on at all.  As far as you know, just life has never been better than under the fuhrer. 

MADDOW:  I will tell you just - the interest that you all flash of a sex scene involving Goebbels and his interpreter, I (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

TARANTINO:  Excellent.  Excellent.  That‘s a high compliment. 

MADDOW:  Thank you just for that and for the rest of it. 


TARANTINO:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  I hope you win for this.  This was at the Oscars.  I really enjoyed it and it‘s really nice to meet you. 

TARANTINO:  Oh, it‘s really nice to meet you.  Thanks for having me on. 

MADDOW:  Quentin Tarantino - oh, my god.  OK.  All right.  Still ahead.  Let‘s get rid of social security and Medicare.  If that sounds like a good idea to you, there is someone I would like you to meet, the second mention of Hitler on the show, coming up.  That‘s next.


MADDOW:  Congressman Paul Ryan is the Republican Party‘s budget guy.  He has proposed a GOP budget this year that would essentially get rid of social security and Medicare in the long run. 

It slashes both programs dramatically and then privatizes them.  So good-bye Medicare safety net.  Good-bye social security safety net.  The Republicans are proposing to get rid of them.  Republicans like Michele Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Jack Kingston, Jim DeMint - these folks have recently been very happily arguing to kill social security and Medicare.  But they are thought of as being on the far, far right of even their own party. 

Paul Ryan proposing to kill social security and Medicare is another thing.  His is the only budget the Republicans have proposed for 2010.  He is supposed to be the Republican Party‘s big brain on policy.  He‘s supposed to be a serious guy. 

Well, in the interview with “The Daily Beast” yesterday, Paul Ryan was asked why, if he is so fiscally conservative, he voted for the bank bailout.  In response, the Republican Party‘s serious big brain policy guy explained that he voted for the bank bailout because of this. 

Get it?  See, it‘s a smiley face but it has a Hitler mustache.  Because liberals seem nice but they‘re really Nazis.  Nazis were liberals and liberals are Nazis. 

Paul Ryan, the budget guy for the Republican Party, tells “The Daily Beast” that a conservative book of revisionist history about how the Nazis were secretly liberals and liberals today are secretly Nazis convinced him to vote for the bank bailout because otherwise we‘d have a great depression and then Obama could use that great depression as an excuse to impose his secret Nazi agenda. 

Obama‘s liberal fascism.  And that is both an admission that even the Republicans admit the bailout staved off the next great depression and a revelation that even the supposedly same Republicans in Congress right now believe this stuff. 

Keep that in mind the next time someone proposes a bipartisan compromise with guys like Paul Ryan who proposed to kill Medicare and social security and justify their votes on worries Obama might secretly be Hitler.  


MADDOW:  More than nine years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, stunning, never-before-seen aerial photographs of the scene in lower Manhattan were released to the public this week. 

In just a moment, the NYPD officer who took those photographs will join us here in studio.  This is an amazing story and these are some amazing images.  Please stay tuned.


MADDOW:  Eight years and five months ago today, two officers with the New York Police Department‘s Aviation Unit responded to a radio call that a private plane had struck one of the twin towers of New York City‘s World Trade Center.  As the officers got into their NYPD helicopter that clear day, it immediately became clear something much bigger was happening. 

From his vantage point, thousands of feet in the air, Detective Greg Semendinger reached for his camera and began photographing what he saw.  These are his photographs, many of which have never been seen before this week.  When some of them were released to ABC News because of a Freedom of Information Act request, the chief curator of the National September 11 Memorial Museum calls these images, quote, “some of the most exceptional images of the world of this event.” 

This was not the first time that Detective Semendinger was called to the twin towers to respond to an attack.  He helped rescue dozens of people from the roof of the north tower after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. 

Joining us now in studio is Detective Greg Semendinger.  He has now retired from the New York Police Department after 35 years, including 20 years with the aviation unit.  Detective, thanks very much for your time tonight. 


It‘s good to be here.  Thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  What were your orders?  What were you expecting to do when you went up in the air on September 11th

SEMENDINGER:  We responded to the scene by a call for a light plane that had hit the towers.  We didn‘t realize the extent of what went on. 

But when we looked at the World Trade Center, which was 11 miles away, we

could see that it was a lot worse than what we thought it was.  So -

MADDOW:  You were 11 miles when you first -

SEMENDINGER:  We were at Floyd Bennett Field. 

MADDOW:  OK.  And then, how close did you get? 

SEMENDINGER:  When we got there, we got very close.  We got as close as we could so that we could try to see through the smoke that was on the roof, you know, hoping that somebody made it to the roof. 

MADDOW:  You were hoping you could do what did you in 1993 in terms of rescuing people? 

SEMENDINGER:  Well, I wouldn‘t have been able to do it because I was in a smaller helicopter.  But I would have been able to call the larger helicopters that we had out there.  I was in a patrol helicopter that day. 

MADDOW:  OK.  I understand after - sometime after 1993, it was the New York Fire Department and the Port Authority that made the decision to keep the doors to the roof locked.  I guess you wouldn‘t have known that at that time. 


MADDOW:  Why did you take pictures?  Was that part of your mission, what you were expected to do? 

SEMENDINGER:  No.  My hobby is photography.  I‘ve carried a camera for

many, many years.  Usually, on every flight, I had a camera.  So -

MADDOW:  And so, you decided to take them - just instinct? 

SEMENDINGER:  Well, in between doing the surveys of - something like this is monumental.  And if we can record it and get it on film, then it‘s a true record of what happened. 

MADDOW:  Am I right that you saw - from that vantage point, you saw the plane hit the second tower? 

SEMENDINGER:  No.  My partner did. 


SEMENDINGER:  It wasn‘t on my side of the aircraft.  My partner, Jimmy Ciccone - he looked over.  He had about a five or 10-second view of the aircraft before it hit.  And he said something real quick and I looked over and I could see the fireball go up in the air. 

And I could see all the papers that were blowing out of the building.  It was just unbelievable.  Up to that point, we had thought that it was an accident. 

MADDOW:  So at that moment was when you realized this is -

SEMENDINGER:  Everybody realized that - we could hear it on the radio. 

We knew that it was then a terrorist attack. 

MADDOW:  Were you afraid at that point? 

SEMENDINGER:  Not really.  We were concentrating on what we were doing.  The main thing that gave us a little apprehension was when one of the tower operators told us that there was a target moving in our direction at 400 knots. 

We didn‘t know at that time that it was the fighters that were coming from the northeast.  We thought it was another aircraft.  And I really had a gut feeling that it was going to be the Empire State Building.  Thank goodness it wasn‘t. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  This long since the incident - I know we were just saying in the break before the interview started that you didn‘t know that these photos were going to be released this week.  It sort of took you by surprise when you saw them. 

SEMENDINGER:  Yes, it did.  I didn‘t find out until about three or four days ago. 

MADDOW:  Is it surprising to you - how does it feel to see these images out in the public eye? 

SEMENDINGER:  I think they should have been out there a long time ago.  You know, it‘s a shame that they‘ve been pretty much buried for this period of time.  It‘s good that they‘re out there.  It gives a different perspective of the whole incident and shows it in its entirety from above. 

We were the only ones there, and I was fortunate to be in that position and to be able to take photographs. 

MADDOW:  What seemed - what strikes me, looking at them and just - I find it breathtaking about the images themselves is the - it‘s the size of the dust cloud, seeing how much of Manhattan is engulfed by the physical enormity of that disaster. 

And we look at the footprint now and we look at the images that we‘ve seen from the ground of the towers falling.  And there‘s a few images of people sort of running from the dust cloud and you get some sense that it felt big at the time. 

But to see the entire southern part of the island engulfed that way, being there, it must have been hard to have any sense of perspective about how big this was. 

SEMENDINGER:  Oh, it surprised us tremendously.  It really - it covered the whole lower Manhattan.  It was very surprising that the cloud was that big.  Came out halfway across the Hudson River, almost. 

MADDOW:  When we look back at this now, what do you hope people take away from having this access to these - what you saw that day? 

SEMENDINGER:  Well, I hope that it gives them a better perspective of what happened that day.  And it gives us a historical timeline of the events that occurred.  You know, it‘s something we should never forget.  It was a sad day. 

MADDOW:  Detective Greg Semendinger retired from the New York Police Department after 35 years, 20 years in the Aviation Unit.  Thanks for talking to us about this.  I know you‘ve had a lot of attention because of this.  I appreciate you making the time. 

SEMENDINGER:  I‘m glad to be here and I‘m glad the photos are out now. 

MADDOW:  Yes, thanks.  Thanks for your service.  

SEMENDINGER:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  We‘ll be right back.

MADDOW:  A brief update for you on the continuing news of President Clinton‘s hospitalization today.  President Clinton had two stents implanted in an artery by his cardiologist today. 

Mr. Clinton‘s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had a meeting at the White House this afternoon.  She left immediately thereafter for New York to be with her husband. 

She had been scheduled to travel to Qatar and Saudi Arabia tomorrow.  That was changed this evening.  She‘ll now delay her departure until Saturday afternoon.  We‘ll keep you posted here on MSNBC.  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.  Good night.



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