'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, May 27th, 2011
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Guests: Rep. Anthony Weiner, Teri Huyck
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Have a great weekend.
Thanks a lot.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We have lots of serious news to get to tonight—politics news, non-politics news news. There‘s a lot going on in the world. It‘s actually unusually busy Friday in the news. We‘ve got a big show ahead full of all that stuff.
But you know it is also Friday, the end of what has been a long week. So, we are going to start with something else tonight before we get to the rest of the news. We‘re doing this because frankly you deserve it, and because if you love news, you should also love local news.
And there is nothing more jaw-droppingly freaking awesome in the entire world of local news tonight than this story from our NBC affiliate in Utah KSL. We found this story because someone we know has the kind of RSS reader that alerts them to headlines like this one, “Horse herpes outbreak forces rodeo queens to ride stick ponies.” That‘s the headline for real.
Here‘s the story. You‘re welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s kind of weird. You can‘t really help that the disease is going around.
REPORTER: The contestants, proud parents and judges were ready, one thing missing, the only horses in the arena were in this bucket because of an outbreak of a contagious and fatal horse herpes virus.
KIM JENSEN, DAVIS CO. MOUNTED POSSE JR. QUEEN CONTEST: We‘re testing their knowledge and ability to adapt and they get to ride stick horses.
REPORTER: The contestants they can show their horsemanship that they know the patterns and sequences, though with a little more effort.
KYLIE FELTER, CONTESTANT: A stick horse is different. You have to do all the work. And I think it‘s going to be a lot more tiring than with a real horse.
REPORTER: What really shined, were the true traits of a queen, poise and personality amid trying times.
SAVANNA STEED, FORMER JUNIOR QUEEN: It will give experience for, you know, things, if you have things if you happen to have a problem like this later in life, you have the experience of riding a stick horse.
MADDOW: That was KSL (INAUDIBLE) reporting on the Davis County sheriff‘s mounted posse junior queen contest last night, where most of the contestants for reasons I‘ll let KSL explain had to ride stick ponies. And at least one had to ride what looks like a stick bull horns there.
We here a THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW love you for watching our show, which is why we started our show with that this Friday night. As I said before, you‘re welcome. Best wishes for all the horses involved, naturally.
But now, moving on, heading into this long week—I can‘t believe we just did that. Yes. We so overruled the boss on that. Yes.
Heading into this long weekend, first day back from the long weekend will be May 31st, the last day of May which if you are a Republican, it‘s good news that May is ending, because this May has been a really very bad month for Republicans politically speaking.
The headline for them was obviously their big high profile special election loss this week in New York 26. The Republican in that race expected to win that election easily. New York 26 one of the most Republican districts in New York state. It‘s an R-plus-six district.
But after the Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul would not let that district forget the Republican candidate‘s support for the Republican Paul Ryan kill Medicare plan, Kathy Hochul, the Democrat won in New York 26. She won handily. She won in a huge upset.
But New York 26 was really just the most high profile of a bunch of things that have happened like that in May. All month long, stuff like that has been happening to Republicans. Races they were supposed to win that they expected to win they ended up losing. Up and down the ticket from federal races down to many local races.
Take Jacksonville, Florida, for example. Jacksonville‘s been the heart of conservative country in northeast Florida for a very long time now. The county in which Jacksonville sits has voted Republican in every single presidential election dating back to 1980. Jacksonville has had Republican mayors every single year for the last 20 years.
And then this month, bang, Democrats took the mayoral race in Jacksonville in an upset that nobody expected. The Republican in that race aligned himself with the Tea Party and with Republican Governor Rick Scott. The local press said the election was the Republican candidate‘s for the taking and then he lost.
Jacksonville, for the first time in 20 years, will have a Democrat as its mayor.
That Republican loss in Jacksonville comes fresh on the heels of another surprising loss for Republicans in nearby Tampa. The Republican mayoral candidate in Tampa came in first in the primary. She had a 10-point lead coming down the stretch, and then, again, bang, Republican lost. The Democrat pulled off the upset there, too.
Up in New Hampshire, a special election for a vacant House seat, the seat represents one of the most Republican district in the state. Republican haves a supermajority in the New Hampshire state legislature. What happened in that New Hampshire race? Again, the Democrat won by a lot.
Local New Hampshire media describing that victory as a, quote, “huge upset.” It was essentially New York 26 before New York 26 was New York 26.
In Maine, a special election this month to fill a state Senate seat. Maine state Senate controlled by Republicans. Maine‘s governor a bombastic Tea Party Republican named Pau LePage.
What happened in Maine‘s special election this month? The Democrat won by a huge nearly 40-point margin in a district that had previously split right down the middle. “The Portland Press Herald” describing that result as an unmistakable message to Republicans in the state capital.
In Wisconsin, a special election for a state assembly seat, an assembly seat that‘s been held by Republicans for 16 years. The Republican that held that seat had been re-elected eight times. He only left to go work for Republican Governor Scott Walker to push through the unpopular union-stripping bill. What happened in the race to replace him in that Wisconsin Republican district, again, his district which voted Republican in a landslide just last year chose to replace him with a Democrat. They picked a Democrat to represent them for a first time in nearly two decades.
And the special elections are just getting started up in Wisconsin. Just a few weeks from now, in July, six Republican state senators are expecting to be facing recall elections as a result of their vote for the union-stripping measure there. Republicans originally tried to match that by trying to put the same number of Democrats up for recall. But they only managed to get the required signatures to recall three of the Democrats.
And if the latest polling out of Wisconsin is any indication of how those recall elections are going to go, the Republicans are going to need a lot of luck on their side or maybe a lot of Democratic majority suppression, who knows.
Right now, the Wisconsin state Senate is controlled by Republicans. They did great in the last election. But they have turned that right around with their behavior since they have been in office -- 50 percent of Wisconsin voters say they would prefer the Democrats to be in charge of the state Senate. Thank you very much.
That same poll putting the approval rating for Wisconsin‘s Republican Governor Scott Walker all the way down at 43 percent. Perhaps as a result of his big union-stripping adventure. , half of the state now says they would like Governor Scott Walker to be recalled as well. He was just elected.
Over in Ohio, where the politics really echo what‘s been going on in Wisconsin, it is the same story for Republicans. Fifty-four percent of Ohio voters saying they want their state‘s Republican union-stripping bill repealed. One Ohio Republican legislature who had supported the union-stripping thing has been staring at this billboard in his district ever since his vote for it. He announced this week that he is resigning from the state Senate—although he says he has nothing to do with his support that unpopular bill and how his constituents feel about it.
That bill has so cratered Republican Governor John Kasich‘s support in Ohio that his approval rating is down to 38 percent. Even lower than Scott Walker‘s, which is bad.
But as low as Scott Walker is in Wisconsin right now, as low as John Kasich is in Ohio, right now, those guys have popularity levels that Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott would probably kill for right now. Rick Scott, who proposed slashing funding for education in Florida in order to give that money away to corporations, now has an approval rating of 29 percent. That is astonishing.
Yesterday, Rick Scott signed into law his first state budget. And in order to hold that signing ceremony in a way that would not betray the worst approval rating of any governor in the country, Rick Scott‘s staff had to manage that event like it was a North Korean Arirang celebration. Governor Scott held his signing ceremony at a heavily Republican seniors‘ retirement community called the Villages.
You may notice a few empty seats in the crowd there. That is because certain types of Florida residents were physically removed from the signing of their own state budget.
According to “The St. Petersburg Times,” quote, at the urging of Scott officials, Sumter County sheriff‘s deputies escorted a group of more than a dozen Democrats—mainly retirees who live in The Villages—from Thursday‘s event at the towns square. Staffers and Republican operatives searched the crowd of about 200, looking for people holding anti-Scott signs. They were noted and asked to leave. Those with pro-Scott signs were allowed to stay.”
When Rick Scott actually signed his budget into law, he was
surrounded by all sorts of excited-looking school children. Again,
according to “The St. Petersburg Times,” quote, “Charter school students
were bussed in to surround Rick Scott for the signing and were handed
homemade signs to wave. When Governor Scott was finished, a man in a Tea
Party t-shirt began encouraging the children to chant Scott‘s campaign
slogan. ‘Let‘s get to work. Let‘s get to work.‘”
Yes, as I say, an event managed with North Korean precision. They then named a flower in Governor Scott‘s flower and they all went to the missile parade.
And if Republicans in the states thought that the month of May could not get any worse for them, given that it‘s nearly over, that was proven wrong by this headline today. Alabama Republican lawmaker joins Democrats. Republican state legislator in Alabama has decided to abandon the Republican Party because of what he says is a Republican assault on teachers in his state.
The reason Republicans will not be sad to see the northbound end of a southbound May this year is I think mostly because of New York 26 -- that new Democratic congresswoman elect coming to Washington from Jack Kemp‘s old deep red district. But if you look at what other election upsets have been going on around the country these past few weeks, New York 26 does not seem to have been a fluke. And what is happening across the country does not seem to be just about Republicans in Washington voting to kill Medicare.
Where Republicans have governing authority, where they are running things, where they are actually in charge of coming up with policies and budgets and stuff, yes in the House, but also in the states, the reaction from the actual humans, the reaction from the people does not look like it is turning out to be positive.
For Democrats heading into the long weekend, this is not rodeo queens on hobby horse ponies. It is not that good. But as news for Democrats goes, as political news for Democrats goes, May has been pretty good.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, who‘s part of the Democratic leadership team in the House, even though he keeps being here on nights that I do stuff like that. Very sorry.
REP. ANTONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: You know, here‘s what awesome about you. You can do a story about girls on hobby horses and then go right into national political dialect.
MADDOW: Sort of.
MADDOW: I would describe a little bit of a bump in the speed way there.
All right. What do you think is going on with all these special elections? New York 26, your home state, but also all the rest of them.
WEINER: Well, it‘s turning out that voters are sneakity (ph), detail-oriented, book-reading, article-reading folks, you know? They see what‘s going on in the country and they don‘t really—no one wakes up in the morning, or very few wake up in the morning and said, oh, that Medicare, I‘m dying to get rid of it.
I think they‘re also seeing something else. You know, I do think that the Republicans managed to do something in campaign 2010 which was strike this idea, you know what? we‘re going to get to Washington, deconstruct everything.
And as a general precept, that seemed appealing to a lot of Americans. Now, they‘re seeing what that means—eliminating Medicare, privatizing Social Security, slashing teachers and things like that and I think they‘re realizing—you know what? When it comes to governing we‘re not so crazy about the Republicans. And it‘s having ramifications everywhere.
To the Republicans‘ credit, they‘re not stepping back at all. They‘re doubling down, and I think that‘s going to mean for a lot of months like we had here, the Republicans don‘t seem like they‘re hearing the message of the voters.
MADDOW: Well, there was something interesting. For me, it was unexpected when it happened. And then I‘m sort of thinking about it after I learned it and realizing it sort of makes sense. But let me get your take on it. The top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, he said today that Republicans will force Democrats to agree to cut Medicare or the Republicans will not vote to lift the debt ceiling.
So he says explicitly, he explained explicitly that he wants to make the American people decide whether they want to punish both sides, both parties for going after Medicare by forcing Democrats to go after Medicare. He‘s trying to essentially cover up their own vote to kill Medicare by trying to force Democrats to take one, too. What do you think is going to happen with that?
WEINER: Look, I‘ve got to tell you something, this to some degree is them saying we‘re not backing off at all, on this idea that we want to deconstruct Medicare if we can.
WEINER: And what they‘re trying to do, look, the debt limit is holding the whole country hostage. But, now, they‘re saying we‘re going to specifically hold a gun to the Medicare program. And insist that if you don‘t cut Medicare, we are going to doom the economy, I guess.
Well, I don‘t think we should give an inch. I know that Steny Hoyer kind of implied he was willing to negotiate. I don‘t think we should. Let‘s remember something for your viewers, we‘ve already last year in the health care reform act, extended 10 years of Medicare, got $500-some-odd billion worth of savings by making it a lot more efficient program.
So, we‘ve already done our bidding. And now, the Republicans are saying we want to go even from the than that. But it‘s clear. On the altar of the debt limit, they are going to try to cut Social Security and Medicare and they‘re not flinching at all from the bad results they got this month.
MADDOW: You have been in the news today because you have been pressuring Supreme Court justices to release their financial disclosure forms. Clarence Thomas‘ form shows his wife Ginni earns salary and benefits from an anti-health reform group called Liberty Central, as well as another group Liberty Consulting.
I was reading the forms after you posted them, I felt like there was also some sort of reference maybe to Clarence Thomas himself receiving funding from Liberty consulting. What do you interpret those disclosure? What do you think they mean?
WEINER: So everyone understands it‘s required that every year, members of the Supreme Court disclose anything that might be a conflict in their background. Well, as it turned out for almost 20 years, Clarence Thomas‘ spouse was getting money not only from think tanks but think tanks that were actively trying to persuade the court to do something. Things like the Heritage Foundation and others.
And so, now, when that became public, we‘ve been paying extra attention to when these filings are reported. And here‘s the conflict. It is clear under the law that if any member of your household is going to benefit one way or another from the outcome of a case, you got to refuse yourself.
Well, Ginni Thomas is actively raising money, taking money from organizations that would benefit if the health care reform act were struck down. It‘s clear that Clarence Thomas should recuse himself. And let me just say this to make it very clear: Clarence Thomas‘ spouse can earn money anyway she wants and be free to speak.
But the question becomes: does that income to the household present a conflict for Clarence Thomas? And so, you know, we‘ve started a Web site ConflictedClarenceThomas.com, where we‘ve put all of these documents up. And it‘s pretty clear that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from health care reform debate at least because it‘s clear his household is benefitting from one side of that debate.
MADDOW: Benefitting financially because she would not be getting the income that she‘s getting from these ideological groups if it were not for her perceived influence on her husband?
WEINER: Exactly. As a matter of fact, she goes as far as to advertise that and to talk about the idea. You know, she makes fun of the idea. She says, oh, yes, I‘ve got a great deal of influence over these proceedings.
And remember something, she‘s basically—her organizations are raising money by saying if you give money to me, we‘re going to try to stop health care reform from being implemented. Well, she returns home to Justice Thomas who has to make that decision and probably in less than a year.
So, we‘re pressuring him to recuse himself. To me, it‘s a pretty clear case to the law that he should.
MADDOW: And, of course, there‘s no way to force him to do it except by shame.
WEINER: That‘s right.
MADDOW: Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York—again, my apologies for the whole set up thing.
WEINER: These Friday night visits are turning out to be very interesting for me.
MADDOW: At least there was no marching band this time. Thank you, sir.
All right. Well, having segued from equine herpes and pageant contestants on hobby horses to North Korea style stage managing to who Clarence Thomas‘ wife works for—what do you think comes next?
MADDOW: “The Best New Thing in the World Tonight” involves this and this. The new kinds of genius we did not have before we had the Internet. “Best New Thing in the World Today” coming right up at the end of the show.
MADDOW: This is the Motel 6 in Thierer Road in Madison, Wisconsin. On Wednesday night, just before 10 p.m., a bullet was fired at room 125 of this motel. It went through the door of room 125 across the hall and into the door of room 124.
The man who fired that bullet, a man named Ralph Lang, called the front desk to say he has accidentally discharged his handgun and he said the bullet had gone into the room across the hall. Luckily, the room across the hall was unoccupied. No one was hurt.
When police arrived on the scene to investigate and asked this man who has shot a hole through the hotel room doors. When they wanted to ask him where he was from and what he was doing in Madison with a gun, Ralph Lang told the officer on the scene, quote, “I was going to see abortionists tomorrow. I would like to lay them all out. I brought a gun here to lay out abortionists. They are killing babies.”
Mr. Lang allegedly told the officer then he wanted to kill abortion providers at a specific Planned Parenthood clinic in Madison. He told the officer he had driven by the clinic late that afternoon, but he said he did not se anyone outside in front of the center so he did not stop. But he was planning ongoing back to the Planned Parenthood in the morning at 8:00 a.m.
Mr. Lang said he was going to talk with someone who was standing outside on the sidewalk counseling people going into the center to find out who the doctor was in the clinic. Quote, “I was going to find out who the doctor was. I was going to go in and shoot him in the head.”
Mr. Lang told the officer if he knew who the doctor was, he would have gone in earlier and quote, “shot them dead.” He said that after he shot the doctor performing the abortions at Planned Parenthood in Madison that morning, he was going to next go to an abortion center in Milwaukee.
Mr. Lang has been arrested at the Planned Parenthood before, three and a half years earlier. During that arrest, he told a Madison police officer that the bible states that anyone involved in abortion should be executed. Mr. Lang said at the time that everyone in that building should be executed and police officers were not fulfilling their jobs by not executing the individuals involved in the abortion clinic.
This past Wednesday after he accidentally shot those holes through the hotel room doors, Ralph Lang told the Madison police officer who responded to the scene, quote, “I bought the gun to help end abortion.” He explained that he had bought the gun after that old arrest a few years ago at the Planned Parenthood—the clinic where he was planning to carry out the killing of the abortion doctor yesterday.
Ralph Lang was arrested. He was interviewed by detectives from the Madison Police Department and then he started to tell them his story.
When the detectives asked what he planned to do yesterday, what he planned to do Thursday, Mr. Lang said, quote, “What I was going to do? Take a gun, drop the abortionist.” When asked if his plan was to just shoot the doctor or also included shooting nurses, he said he wished he could line them up in a row, get a machine gun and mow them all down.
At the conclusion of the interview as they are leaving the interview room, Mr. Lang asked one of the detectives, “You guys ever go on the Internet? Look up rosary for the unborn.” That‘s actually how the federal criminal complaint against Ralph Lang ends. “Look up Rosary of the Unborn.”
Rosary for the Unborn is a Web site that sells rosaries with fetuses embedded in the rosary beads. Web site says that abortion is a weapon of mass destruction that is responsible for natural disasters and for the economy being bad. It also makes up direct anti-abortion quotes and attributes them to Jesus.
What Ralph Lang told police ultimately led to state charges of attempted first degree murder. At the federal level, he‘s being charged with knowingly and intentionally attempting to injure, intimidate and interfere with another person because that person was providing reproductive health services. That is the section of federal law that‘s designed to protect abortion producers from the radical anti-abortion movement that has killed eight doctors and clinic workers in the last 18 years and that has been responsible for at least 17 attempted murders and bombings over the last 20 years.
The arrest of Ralph Lang comes just a few days before the anniversary, this coming Tuesday, of the most recent murder of an abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, was killed in his church in Kansas on May 31st, 2009. The arrest also comes one week after Republicans on the Wisconsin state legislature‘s budget committee voted to cut off all funding for Planned Parenthood, including, of course, the Planned Parenthood clinic where Ralph Lang says he fully intended to kill the staff yesterday.
Hence, you know, he might have had he not mishandled his weapon at this Motel 6 in the middle of the night, the night before.
Joining us now is Teri Huyck, she‘s president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. This morning, she met with the staff in that Madison office that Ralph Lang says he was targeting.
Teri, thanks very much for joining us. I appreciate it.\
, : Thanks for having me on the show, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you first if the way that I summarized these events and what we know so far is—fits your understanding of what happened. And let me just get your reaction to this arrest.
TERI HUYCK, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF WISCONSIN: Yes, it‘s my understanding completely. And I have to say, I have a mixture of reactions. When I first heard about it, my immediate reaction was that I was so thankful that that gun went off in that motel room and nobody was hurt.
But next reactions were mostly based on anger. Anger that somebody would do something like this. Anger at a society that has anti-abortion voice that by their rhetoric demonizes Planned Parenthood. They encouraged that people who have a propensity toward violence to take an action like this.
And then, finally, I‘m so proud of our staff who are so committed and courageous and committed to taking care of the women that we serve every day. And they came to work yesterday. They came to work today. And we want to provide, safe compassionate place for the women who need us.
MADDOW: Are you satisfied with the way that law enforcement has been handling this case and keeping you inform so far?
HUYCK: I am. We‘ve had an excellent working relationship with both the Madison police and with the FBI. We‘re very grateful for their support and protection.
MADDOW: Just based on the information that‘s in this criminal complaint, both the federal one and the state one, it seems like Mr. Lang is saying that he had been to this particular Planned Parenthood clinic in Madison before. Was he known to you and your staff there? Was he a familiar face to anybody who works at that place?
HUYCK: We have protester at that site every day. And he is not one that is there every day. But he has been there in the past. And, in fact, about four years ago, he was arrested for blocking the doorway to the health center.
MADDOW: You mentioned in describing your own anger in response to learning about this, that you feel like part of the reason that you‘re angry, you said, is because of the rhetoric and the tactics of the anti-abortion movement that have vilified Planned Parenthood, vilified abortion providers and maybe encouraged people who have extreme views to take extreme actions.
Is there—is there a counter offensive to that? Is there something that people who do support abortion rights or who are just opposed to extremism in the antiabortion movement that people might counteract what you see as a toxic environment that creates an atmosphere in which violence like this might happen?
HUYCK: Well, first of all, I think we can‘t tolerate the kind of talk that leads to this kind of societal behavior in the first place. But that much said, we see 73,000 patients in Wisconsin every year, 97 percent of what we do is preventive. It‘s basic women eats health care. It‘s pap smears. It‘s STD testing. It‘s birth control.
And what I would really like to see those who oppose abortion focus on is what we do to prevent unintended pregnancy and support the activities that are both based in medical fact as well as common sense, that good sexuality education and affordable birth control prevent far more pregnant -- unintended pregnancies than anything they ever can say will do.
MADDOW: Do you think that the legislative proposals to cut all the funding to Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin right now are likely to go through? And how much is that likely to damage your ability to serve those 73,000 patients?
HUYCK: I think that they are likely to go through. We have nine health centers that are supported by those particular funding streams. We‘re going to do everything in our power to take care of the women that need us, but it‘s going to be tough.
And in those health centers I might add all we provide is basic preventive women‘s health care. And we provide it to some of the neediest women in the state. And they need us. They don‘t have another place to go.
MADDOW: Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, I‘m struck about the bravery of your staff about them showing up and not interrupting services you provide yesterday or today, knowing that this arrest happened and this man posed this threat to you. So, I‘m sorry that that happened.
Thank you for your time tonight.
HUYCK: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Amid all of the national political talk about getting rid of Medicare, about all of the anti-Medicare talk coming out of national politics right now, there is some good news about not killing Medicare at all, but rather, much the opposite.
That good news, coming up.
MADDOW: You know who‘s not voting to kill Medicare? You know who‘s not only voting not to kill Medicare but to expand it into a Medicare for all system, a single-payer system that you don‘t have to wait until you‘re 65 to be able to use? That would be the green mountain state of Vermont, where Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin, as promised, signed into law a bill that will try to create the first statewide single-payer health care system in the nation.
They need to structure their financing for it. They need to get a federal waiver to try it out. They need a few years to get it up and running.
But with the bill that Governor Shumlin signed into law yesterday, Vermont has just started the process. Wow!
I know my job is to have sort of deeper analysis of things like this. I have to say, looking at those pictures of Peter Shumlin signing the single-payer bill into law—wow! Vermont. Dang! You did it! I‘m kind of psyched for you.
MADDOW: Word of the day, Pashtunwali. Pashtunwali is tribal code of honor and custom of the Pashtun people who are dominant in swaths of Afghanistan and in Pakistan.
According to Pashtunwali, if you offer to take somebody in, particularly if that person is seeking refuge from some threat, your hospitality to that person is an unbreakable thing. Your hospitality, your protection of someone you have taken in is your honor, your family‘s honor, your tribe‘s honor. Pashtunwali—no matter what the threat is or where it‘s coming from or why, you will protect someone who is your guest from that threat no matter the threat on your honor.
It has been that way for centuries.
When 9/11 happened, Osama bin Laden was someone‘s guest. Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, has taken Osama bin Laden in years earlier and offered him protection and hospitality when bin Laden was on the run from the U.S. and from everyone else in the world that was after him for various acts of terrorism.
After bin Laden brought down the Twin Towers and attacked the Pentagon, Mullah Omar continued to abide by his Pashtun tribe‘s code of hospitality. He would not hand over bin Laden as America demanded. And so, America‘s war in Afghanistan began. That was nearly 10 years ago now.
Bin Laden was the reason that war started. The Taliban had given him refuge, they would not hand him over and the U.S. wanted him dead or alive.
Now, Osama bin Laden no longer exists. The Taliban still do. And our war, of course, still does too, too.
But get this—“The New York Times” reports that Mullah Omar is now talking to the United States, negotiating, at least his aides are negotiations on his behalf.
Pashtunwali—this could not have happened before because of his hospitality, because of his honor code, because Mullah Omar has extended hospitality and protection personally to Osama bin Laden, and they therefore would never turn him in. They would never negotiate terms with the people who are out to get bin Laden.
I mean, other Afghan Taliban would engage with the U.S. at various levels. But Omar himself, their leader? No. Pashtunwali, on his honor.
But Mullah Omar‘s promise of hospitality was made to a person. It was made to a single man, to bin Laden personally, not to all of al Qaeda.
Even though he had said that (INAUDIBLE) something that he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive that the Afghanistan war was to smoke them out of their caves, President George W. Bush, during his term in office, did eventually let his focus shift. He wandered off to a second war in Iraq before getting bin Laden or Mullah Omar for that matter. In 2006, George W. Bush closed the CIA unit whose mission was to capture Osama bin Laden. Two years after that, presidential candidate Barack Obama told voters who would start that hunt again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then, finally, on the night of Sunday, May 1st, 2011, President Obama announced that he had done it, that a small team of Navy SEALs had raided bin Laden‘s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They had shot Osama bin Laden dead and dropped his body into the sea.
There was dancing in the streets. There was definitely wringing of hands—that there was dancing in the streets and that was unseemly. But you know what? There was dancing on the streets. Osama bin Laden was dead.
Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, the barrier to Mullah Omar and the Taliban, Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban, the barrier to Mullah Omar and the Taliban talking to the United States is gone. Those negotiations are reportedly happening now. And those negotiations are how the war finally ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be a lot easier if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is nothing to conquer in Afghanistan to win the war there. There‘s nothing to take over. The man the U.S. wanted to capture or kill we killed.
So, the war ends now by talking. And that talking is happening.
There needs to be talking in Washington, too, of course, to end this war. That‘s happening, too, really, for the first time as not just Democrats but now Republicans are starting to come out in favor of ending the war and ending it sooner rather than later.
The vote on a bipartisan measure to accelerate the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the House last night got within 11 votes of passing.
This fall will start year 11 of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. I asked Senate majority leader Harry Reid in our exclusive interview this week if, as a country, we are finally getting around to ending this war. This is what he said.
MADDOW: As Senate majority leader, what is your view on the prospects of ending the war in Afghanistan? Post-bin Laden, could we see a steeper drawdown in Afghanistan, the bipartisan support—a steeper drawdown than we might have seen otherwise?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: First of all, we talked a little earlier about problems with spending. We know that we have to do something about bringing down the deficit. Part of that is going to be with Pentagon-related dollars. The president of the United States has indicated that this summer, he‘s going to start drawing down troops in Afghanistan.
The issue then will be how fast can we draw them down?
Since bin Laden was killed, there‘s been some talk. We‘ve learned that there have been secret negotiations—which are not secret anymore, because you and I read about them in the paper—security negotiations going on with the Taliban and other groups in Afghanistan.
So, that—it‘s possible that war could wind down faster than people think.
But the American people are really tired of paying for these wars and we have to make a decision what benefit it is for our country.
MADDOW: Do you have confidence that that discussion—that very sober discussion that you‘re describing about what—what the benefit is of continuing those wars, can that happen in the kind of partisan environment that we expect of an election season now?
Can it be handled in a non-partisan manner?
REID: I don‘t think we have a choice. I think that it has to be done. I think that General Petraeus, who‘s liked by most everyone—I‘ve had conversations with him. I think it speaks volumes to say that the president of the United States thinks enough of him that he wants him now to become head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
This is important because this transition from having an all-out war in Afghanistan to one that‘s not all out, has to be—has to involve a lot of people. And one who we‘re going to draw on significantly is Petraeus, who was in—of course, was in Iraq, now in Afghanistan, the leader there. And I‘ve spoken to him very recently.
And I think that the—that there‘s an idea that maybe we can‘t be in Afghanistan forever.
MADDOW: We‘ve been there a long time already.
MADDOW: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid telling me there‘s an idea that maybe we can‘t be in Afghanistan forever, saying it may draw down faster than people think, describing a transition from having an all out war in Afghanistan to one that‘s not all out.
Here‘s the war in Iraq over the last 10 years. This is the spending charted by “Bloomberg News.” Now, here‘s the war in Afghanistan. Same time frame, same scale. Is it time for that line in the Afghanistan war to start coming down, too.
Jon Huntsman is a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president. Part of his platform is a rapid Afghanistan drawdown.
Dick Durbin, Democratic senator and key ally of the White House and Senate, he now says of his initial vote for the Afghanistan war, quote, “Here we are 10 years later. If you asked me if I was signing up for the longest war in U.S. history with no end in sight, even with the killing of Osama bin Laden, that was not the bargain, that is not what I was signing up for.”
Republican Senator Dick Lugar saying it is no longer clear about Afghanistan why we‘re there.
A senior administration official telling “The Washington Post” that we‘re getting to the point where this war may finally get to be over. Quote, “Bin Laden‘s death is the beginning of the end game in Afghanistan.
It changes everything.
Memorial Day is Monday. Veterans‘ Day is a joyous holiday where we celebrate veteran service. Memorial Day is not a joyous holiday. It is a somber day to remember those killed fighting our nation‘s wars.
From what we know happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what is happening in our nation‘s capital, the signs are that we are starting to finally bring to an end our nation‘s longest war ever. It may be that the less said about that better since maybe talking about this politicizes this and politicizing the ending of this war is probably the only thing that can keep it going longer. But it is starting to finally to come to an end now. And the toll now stands officially at 1,576 American lives.
MADDOW: The relationship between Republican hopeful Rick Santorum and search engines is a troubled relationship. It is about to get more troubled than it is. That is coming up.
Plus, “The Best New Thing in the World Today” right at the end of the show, something I wish I had thought of first, but I did not. I will doff my cap to a genius.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, Rick Santorum has this problem, right? This problem that I cannot really describe except to say it is his Google problem. It is the problem he has and then you have when you Google him. If you do not know what I mean, you can Google Santorum. Do not do it at work. Do not do it in front of your mom.
Despite Rick Santorum‘s indescribable Google problem, Rick Santorum desperately needs you to Google him because Rick Santorum is running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States and even in that wheaty field, he is polling below someone else and none/no one.
Mr. Santorum‘s name recognition is so low that this Google thing presents a serious barrier for his campaign. Voters meet him. They shake his hand. They want to know more. So, they go home. They Google him and -- ah, dude, let go of my hand.
So, Rick Santorum has what you might call a situation unrelated to his apps. He has pitifully low name recognition, plus, he‘s un-Googleable.
Solution? Take control of the narrative, Rick. Redefine yourself, yourself. Step up to the mike and wow them with an awesome stand out from the crowd new stump speech, something memorable, something quotable, with key words that will get blogged over and over again until finally you bury your hideous old Google results with new ones—new ones that you inspired on purpose, new ones more fit for a presidential candidate. Run, Rick, run.
Rick Santorum really does seem to be running for real. He has been all over the battleground states recently this week. He has been in Florida where he managed to put this into his new stump speech. Just read you the headline from the “Sarasota Herald Tribune,” quote, “Dog pee can‘t stop Santorum.”
In an address to the local Republican club in Sarasota, he is describing a day on the campaign trail 20 years ago. Quote—geez, I can‘t believe this. All right. Ready? “The lady comes back. She hands me the water. I‘m patting the dog and taking a drink.”
Again, this is Rick Santorum giving his stump speech this week in Florida.
Continuing, quote, “The next thing I know I have this warm
sensation. And I immediately jump up and there on my tan pants is a wet
spot where you do not want to get a wet spot. So, I get up and she says,
‘Let me get that,‘ and I say, ‘No. That is OK. I‘m fine. Thank you.‘
She says, ‘I can get a hair dryer.‘ I said, ‘No, we‘re not going to do
Then she offered to help me take my pants off and put them in the dryer. And by that time, I was almost out the door. I thanked her for the water and for the experience and said I‘ll be fine. I get out the door and walk out on the sidewalk. I‘m halfway through the neighborhood. What do you do?
And I looked at the street list. I‘d been out here for two hours and I haven‘t met many people. I‘m not going to meet very many people.
By the time in 15 minutes—in 10-15 minutes, it‘ll dry and no one will notice and it‘ll be fine. So, what do you do? You soldier on.
Dog pees on you, soldier on.”
Dog pee can‘t stop Santorum, the local coverage. Nothing can stop Santorum.
You may remember that Rick Santorum‘s Google problems started in 2003. Do you remember why? In explaining his opposition to same sex couples being allowed to get married, Rick Santorum said he found same sex relationships to be the moral equivalent to what he called “man on dog.” That was the start of Rick Santorum‘s troubles and the online redefinition of his name, Santorum.
Now, in 2011, Mr. Santorum is trying to undo what started as his “man on dog” problem with a new stump speech about a man and a dog, and a warm sensation. Run, Rick, run. We love to watch you go.
And to help you out so no one else takes it and does something rude with it, we THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW have purchased and safely thereby taken off the market dogpeecan‘tstopSantorum.com—today‘s “Sarasota Herald Tribune” headline about Rick Santorum‘s new stump speech.
Dogpeecan‘tstopSantorum.com will now live forever as a redirect to our Web site. We‘re keeping it safe. We‘re here to help.
MADDOW: OK, “The Best New Thing in the World Today” is not the fact that we really did buy the URL dogpeecan‘tstopSantorum.com. Have you tried it? Although it kind of right now feels like that should be “The Best New Thing in the World”—dogpeecan‘tstopSantorum.com joins a list I‘m pretty proud of.
We also own empathizerightonyourbehind.com taken from one of Michael Steele‘s best radio talk shows rants ever. There‘s atleastiamanerd.com from Energy Secretary Steven Chui‘s commencement address at Harvard. And, of course, there is FredThompsonisinherentlyfunny.com which speaks for itself.
But the real “Best New Thing in the World Today” shows true mastery of the art of URL redirection in a way that I swear has absolutely nothing to do with us. Back when Newt Gingrich first announced that he was thinking about announcing that he might maybe run for president, he unveiled his exploratory Web site as Newtexplore2012.com. Newt Explore.
Honestly, a little bit awkward. Newt Explore, it‘s like a treasure hunt involving (INAUDIBLE) or something. Rather than Newt Explore, it sort of seemed more reasonable and sort of creepy that you might explore Newt. And that led some anonymous pranksters who are not us to snap up the domain name explorenewt2012.com. And whoever did that is using that web address to make beautiful, silent Internet political commentary art.
At first when you went to explorenewt2012.com, up popped the campaign Web site of another Republican presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer. Then it started redirecting to this YouTube video of real newts, some marble newts eating, mesmerizing. That was there for quite a while.
But, now, today if you type that web address into your browser explorenewt2012.com, you get this. Redirect. Go on. Can you see it?
OK. It‘s the Tiffany web page. It redirects then requires no explanation. It is perfect, silent, needs no explanation, Internet-only political art—and it is “The Best New Thing in the World Today.”
Have a great weekend. Good night.
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