'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, April 6, 2012
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Guests: Mariah Blake, Annise Parker
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You know what? Any of my seconds that you want
or that you want to donate to me on a Friday -- I do not care.
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I will tell you this -- you pick the
night next week. We need have you on the "THE ED SHOW." A big segment on
your book. I want to talk about it. People rave about it.
Congratulations. "New York Times" best seller list. Take it away,
Rachel. Have a great weekend.
MADDOW: I would love to, man. Thank you so much. It`s really kind
of you. Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. You bet.
MADDOW: All right. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour. We got a big show this hour.
All right. This is the Bernice C. She`s a Canadian fishing boat.
She`s about 60 feet long. She is seen her docked in Canada.
This is the ghost ship. Did you hear about this? The ghost ship.
Now, it is also a fishing vessel, a much bigger one. It`s about three
times the size of the Bernice C. The ghost ship is a Japanese ship. As
you can see here, it`s old. It`s a little beat up.
And a little bit more than a year ago, this ship was essentially
heading toward the scrap heap. It was at this port in Japan that`s marked
there on the map, up in northeastern Japan. It was essentially just tied
up there at port, with nobody using it because it was going to be sent to
scrap. It was going to be cut down and turned into scrap metal.
So, it was already decommissioned as a ship. It was already kind of
halfway on its way to being junk.
But in March of last year, Japan had its giant earthquake which, of
course, triggered a giant tsunami. And in that tidal wave disaster, the
ghost ship slipped its moorings and along with 5 million other tons of
debris that washed off the coast of Japan in the tsunami, the ghost ship
ended up out in the Pacific Ocean on its own -- with no crew, no controls,
no lights. It`s just been drifting around in the Pacific Ocean on its own
for a year.
Now, the problem with the ship floating around out there -- I mean,
yes, the ocean is big, but there`s a chance that it could run aground
somewhere. There`s a chance that as it floated through busy shipping lanes
with no lights or communications equipment, that somebody might hit the
ghost ship. It`s kind of like space junk, except it`s in the ocean. It`s
160-foot chunk of rusting, ghosty, steel spaced junk.
And this is what it becomes really fun to be in the United States
Coast Guard. I mean, think about it, right? An unmanned runaway ship just
floating around in the ocean. You can see where this is going, right?
Target practice time.
But actually, this is where the Bernice C comes back into the story.
As the Coast Guard was preparing to sink the ghost ship, this little
Canadian fishing boat, the Bernice C, a asserted salvage rights to the
ship. I didn`t know that was a thing, but apparently, that`s a thing. And
so, this Canadian fishing boat essentially claimed first dips.
They said, OK, if nobody owns that ship, nobody claims it, if nobody
wants it, we`ll take it. So, the Bernice C, the 60-foot boat approaches
the ghost ship which was been floating around in the Pacific on its own
within no crew for a year. They look to see if they can hook up their tiny
little boat, right? A boat the third the size of the ghost ship, they see
if they can hook their small fishing boat to this giant dead ship so they
can tow it away to do whatever it is they`ve decided they want to do with
But it turns out the Bernice C is a little engine that can`t. The
ghost ship is too big and they cannot drag it off. So, after trying for a
very long time, the Bernice C eventually gives up.
The Coast Guard gleefully rubs its hands together, everybody gets
clear of the scene and -- boom! The Coast Guard cutter Anacapa starts
hitting the ghost ship with cannon fire. They start shooting 25 millimeter
rounds at the ship, which I think means it was sort of like this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That I think is what they were shooting at the ghost ship
first to try to sink it.
And according to the "Associated Press," a few hours later, when the
ghost ship still had not sunk, they started using ammo twice that size. It
apparently took about four hours of shooting stuff at this abandoned ship,
but finally, glug, glug, glug, it sunk.
A hundred and eighty miles off the Alaska coast in water more than a
mile deep, the ghost ship is no more.
It`s kind of amazing to think about that ship banging around the
Pacific Ocean on its own for more than a year with no crew, no
communication, no lights, and without having already caused some sort of
It is also amazing to realize it`s been more than a year since the
Japanese tsunami and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
But there is recent reporting out within the past week about how the
Fukushima part of that Japanese disaster actually isn`t over now. Remember
what happened at Fukushima, right? These nuclear reactors were hit by both
the earthquake and the tsunami and knocked their cooling systems offline.
So, even though the reactors shutdown, their super hot radioactive
fuel inside the reactors, it was no longer being kept cool by the massive
amounts of water that usually circulates to keep the fuel both cool and
safe. I mean, you need water both to keep the fuel from overheating as --
it acts as an insulator but also to act as a shield from the radiation from
In the first early days of the Fukushima meltdown, you will remember,
you know, the explosions, right? The helicopter water drop, the terrifying
officials about how damaged these reactors were, right?
The disaster happened in March. It was not until December that
Japanese officials finally said that the Fukushima reactors had essentially
been brought under control. They said they were -- in December, they said
they were in safe shutdown.
It turns out they are still not safe. A week ago, the company that
owns Fukushima sent workers in hazmat suits into this reactor, into reactor
two, all four of the reactors have trouble, but they went into this one.
Workers in hazmat suits, they had an endoscope, like when you get an
endoscopy and they put a camera through your whatever -- same idea, they
had an endoscope, and they had a thermometer, a dosimeter, which was the
way they were going to measure how much radiation there was in there, and a
Now, remember, water is key. You want to fuel to be covered with
water so that the fuel can be kept cool and also to shield its radiation.
When these workers went into that reactor, they were expecting the level of
water in there to be at about 33 feet. What they found was that it was at
two feet. That`s very, very bad.
And that is both a symptom that something is very wrong, but either, I
guess it`s hot enough to be evaporating all that water or the water is
leaking. It is a symptom of something going wrong. It is also a cause of
yet more going wrong there, because of that that small amount of water
there, with that little water in there, there`s nothing shielding the
radiation that`s coming out of that fuel.
The dosimeter that they sent into reactor number two found that the
radiation in there was the level of 72 sieverts. I know that that doesn`t
really sound like anything, but suffice to say, that is enough to kill a
person in a matter of minutes. It`s also a high enough level of radiation
that most electronic equipment cannot function in that environment.
So, think about this, how do you fix this problem? How do you repair
what`s wrong in reactor two? It`s not going to fix itself.
Human beings cannot get near enough to this problem and live long
enough to fix the problem. We can`t even send robot remote control things
in there to fix the problem either because it`s too radioactive even for
We humans can build a nuclear reactor, but when a nuclear reactor goes
bad like this, we humans cannot fix the problem -- at least we don`t know
how to yet. The current plan at Fukushima to try to stop what is still a
year later an ongoing and worsening disaster, the plan is to try to invent
something new that doesn`t exist yet that might be able to work in this
An executive at the power company told "The New York Times" this week,
quote, "With levels of radiation extremely high, we would need to develop
equipment that can tolerate high radiation."
The thing that does not exist that can allow us to even try to fix
this problem. The thing that we can imagine might be useful to fix this
problem, we`re going to have to invent. We`re going to try to invent
something while the problem gets worse and worse and worse. It is beyond
And the really bad news is that this apparently is the good news.
Reactor number two, the one they went into, that`s in the best shape. They
can`t figure out how to determine what`s going on in reactors one and three
because the radiation levels there are reportedly even higher.
You know, thank God for problems that can be fixed with 25 millimeter
cannon fire. If there`s one kind of problem that we have no problem
fixing, it`s a problem whose solution is large bore ammunition.
A nuclear disaster, nuclear waste, this is a problem we have figured
out how to create as humans, but it`s not a problem we have figured out how
Since the earthquake and the tsunami and the Fukushima disaster
started in Japan, Japan has shut down its entire nuclear power industry.
They have 54 reactors in Japan. Only one is operating.
The Japanese government today released its plan for starting up its
reactor again. In this little part of Japan here that`s marked on the map,
Shiga Prefecture, the governor of that part Japan is saying, "I don`t care
what the government says federally." She`s saying not in Shiga. She
doesn`t want any of the cluster of nuclear power plants in her jurisdiction
to be restarted there.
Here reasoning is that Shiga is the home of lake that supplies the
fresh drinking water for more than a tenth of the whole country of Japan.
So they don`t want to risk it. Look at Fukushima, nuclear problems are
problems that we do not know how to fix.
In 2004, a Texas billionaire applied for a license to dump nuclear
waste in west Texas. The Texas Water Development Board maps of where this
guy wanted that nuclear waste dump to be showed that his proposed nuclear
waste dump sat on top of the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Ogallala Aquifer is really important. Look how big it is. The
Ogallala Aquifer covers that whole, huge giant part of the country. It
spans eight different states and it is relatively shallow. And it happens
to provide roughly a third of all of that water that`s used to irrigate
land in the United States of America. Want to put a nuclear waste dump on
That Texas billionaire who wanted the nuclear waste dump had given
more than a million dollars in campaign donations to Texas Governor Rick
Perry. Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed five of the six people on the
Texas Water Development Board. And once that billionaire`s nuclear waste
dump license came up for review, the Texas Water Board took a look at the
maps, decided to take another look at their maps.
And wouldn`t you know it, hey, the aquifer moved. It moved away from
the dump. It`s not where we thought it was at all.
How convenient for the billionaire campaign donor and his for-profit
nuclear waste dump.
Salon.com and "Bloomberg News" both have reports out today about how
that Texas billionaire, the nuclear waste dump guy, is the single largest
anti-Barack Obama funder in this entire election cycle. And this is the
year of zillionaire, right? I mean, Rick Santorum has his zillionaire.
Newt Gingrich has his zillionaire. Mitt Romney is kind of his own
zillionaire and he has all of the owner zillionaires lock up too.
But the person who has given more than money than anybody else to try
to end the Obama presidency is the nuclear waste dump guy from Texas.
This election season alone, he`s donated more than $18 million to
anti-Obama and now mostly pro-Mitt Romney efforts.
If you think that he`s campaign donations in that nuclear waste dump
made beautiful together in west Texas, now that he`s going national, what
do you think he wants for the whole country?
Joining us now Salon.com`s Mariah Blake. She`s the author of today`s
Salon.com article about Harold Simmons, the Texas nuclear billionaire.
Ms. Blake, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
MARIAH BLAKE, SALON.COM: Thank you very much for having me.
That was quite an interruption. Did I get anything wrong in terms of
what you understand about Mr. Simmons and his history in Texas?
BLAKE: You pretty much hit the nail on the head.
MADDOW: OK. What -- can you summarize for us what you learned about
the way Harold Simmons has used campaign money, has used campaign donations
to influence politics in the state of Texas. What his aims have been and
how he`s done it?
BLAKE: Well, essentially, he`s given huge sums of money and poured
more than $2 million into lobbying. And the result has been that he`s
managed to push this waste dump through. He`s cleared all kinds of
And in almost every instance, the body that has been making the
decision was either - has either received many of the representatives
received money directly from him or they were appointed by people that
received huge sums of money from him.
MADDOW: Mr. Simmons has indicated -- he doesn`t go do a lot of
interviews or anything. But when he has talked about his politics, he`s
indicated vehement dislike of President Obama. He`s called him something
like the most dangerous man in America or something.
BLAKE: That is correct.
MADDOW: Is it clear to you from your reporting what he would want
from a Republican administration in terms of policy? Is there any way to
extrapolate for what he`s expected from his campaign donations in Texas to
what he wants at the federal level?
BLAKE: Well, it`s very clear. His top priority up until this point
has been pushing through this dump. The dump is about to open. It will be
accepting its first waste in about two weeks.
And now, he`s really turning his attention to expanding the quantity
of waste that he can bring into this dump. So, there`s a lot of decisions
that will be made on the federal level that will determine just how many
billions of dollars he`s able to make by operating this dump.
And, you know, they span the gamut. Some involve expanding the kinds
of waste that a low level site, a low level radioactive repository like
this can accept, and some involved lobbying for contracts. There`s a very
large waste disposal contract on the table at the Department of Energy
So, essentially there are many things in the pipeline that could mean
billions of dollars to this man.
MADDOW: During the campaign season, I mentioned in the intro, this
has been sort of the year of zillionaire. And we`ve learned a lot about
Republican zillionaires like Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson. What sort
of money, what sort of level of money is Harold Simmons spending compared
to those guys who are more well-known than he is?
BLAKE: He is -- at this point, he has outspent everybody. So, he has
sunk about $18 million into Republican super PACs or conservative super
PACs. And he says he intended to sink another $18 million in before the
end of this election cycle.
So, this is man who has given tons of money to conservative
politicians over the years. But what he`s saying he`s going to give this
year will actually outstrip what he`s given in the rest of his career
MADDOW: And in terms of how he`s going to spend it, as we shift into
the general election campaign, most of the money that he has been spent
this year has been through Karl Rove`s sort of dark money super PAC.
Is that how you expect, how we expect Harold Simmons to make his mark
on the campaign, he`ll essentially underwrite the whole Karl Rove
BLAKE: You know, it`s hard to anticipate how he will function. It
may be that once there`s a clear front-runner, he`ll give more money to
that clear frontrunner. He has also given large sums to all of the leading
Republican candidates. So, this is a man unlike the other leading super
PAC donors, this is a man who spreads his money around. He`s giving to
everybody. He appears to be hedging his bets somewhat.
MADDOW: Hedging his bets only on Republicans, though.
BLAKE: Only on Republicans, yes.
MADDOW: Mariah Blake --
BLAKE: Yes, he`s given very little to Democrats over the years.
MADDOW: I see -- there`s a stray donation here and there to an anti-
environment Democrat when he can find one, I`ve seen noticing his record
today. But in terms of the presidential race, you`re absolutely right.
Mariah Blake, contributor at Salon.com -- thank you very much for your
reporting. Thanks for talking to us about it. Appreciate it.
BLAKE: Thank you very much for having me.
MADDOW: All right. The chairman of the Republican Party has
dismissed the Republican Party`s relationship with women as a war on
caterpillars, which led us to great the greatest graphic we created in the
history of show.
Coming up -- the very, very angry caterpillars. Stick around.
MADDOW: This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a picture of her
in sunglasses that has launched a whole new thing. I know, right? Best
new thing in the world coming up in just a few minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: The Democrats said we had a war on
caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that
Republicans had a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with
caterpillars. I mean, the fact of matter is it`s a fiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, saying
that the idea that the Republican Party is waging war on women is as
ridiculous as the idea that they are waging war on caterpillars. See, it`s
an analogy in which women are caterpillars.
When the overall project is to convince women that the Republican
Party has a lot of respect for women, the party chairman`s caterpillar day
was not a good message day for the Republican Party. So, now, they are
Instead of taking on the women part of the idea of a war on women,
instead of going after word number three in war on women, now they are
going after word number one.
Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee spokesman, telling
reporters now that the use of word "war" in the phrase war on women, that,
quote, "borders on unpatriotic."
Given that this is the same Republican Party that has accused
President Obama of waging a war on everything, from Appalachia, to war on
coal, to war on Mexico, to yes, war on women. It is a little rich that
they`ve now decided anybody using the word war in a political context is a
But if the Republican Party chairman is really bad at talking about
this, and he is, and if the Republican Party chief paid talker, their
spokesman, this guys Sean Spicer, is really bad at talking about this, and
he is, I`m going to go out on a caterpillar-laden leafy limb and suggest a
new Republican spokesperson on this issue, who`s actually very good at
talking about it.
I`m going to suggest Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. It turns
out she is really good about talking about the Republican war on women.
Really good, like holy mackerel, sit down, pay attention. This is good.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I think for women around this
country, what they were sensing was that after decades of believing that
the issue of contraception and women`s access to contraception, that we had
resolved that decades ago. Now all of a sudden this is not only discussion
in Congress but you`ve got presidential wannabes that are talking about
whether contraception is good, bad, indifferent, wrong. I think what
you`re sensing is a fear, a concern that women feel threatened that a long
settled issue might not be so settled.
When I came back home and made the comments that I made to an
Anchorage reporter about how I regretted the vote on the Blunt amendment,
it was indirect reflection to where we were, where we are as a nation in
women feeling that the party that I`ve chosen to affiliate myself with, the
Republican Party, is ignoring their concern, is causing them to feel like
the rights that they believe were settled a long time ago are now being
threatened, possibly eroded.
AARON SELBIG: Let me ask you this from a strategic and tactical side
of thinking -- aren`t the Republicans maybe stepping into a trap? I mean,
do they really -- I guess the question I`m trying to ask is what are they
thinking alienating so many women?
MURKOWSKI: I asked the same question to my colleagues. I said, it
makes no sense to go down this road. It makes no sense to attack women.
And if you don`t view this as an attack on women, then you need to go
home and you need to talk to your wives, you need to go talk to your
daughters. Ask them if they feel this is an attack -- because this is how
women are perceiving the situation.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you don`t view this as an attack on women then you need to
go home and talk to your wives and your daughters.
Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski gets what Reince Priebus and
the rest of the Republican Party appears not to get, which is that
Republicans are not being accused randomly and for no reason of going after
women`s right, they are earning that reputation by actually going after
And so, yes, women notice that. While Reince Priebus was telling
"Bloomberg News" his caterpillar story about how it`s a fiction that
Republicans are doing anything against women, the Democrats and the media
are just making that up. While he was doing that, his fellow Wisconsin
Republican, Governor Scott Walker was very quietly signing a bill into law
blocking insurance coverage for abortion in Wisconsin.
Also, he was signing a bill removing contraception from the sex ed
curriculum in Wisconsin.
And overruling the objections of the Wisconsin Medical Association,
Governor Walker was signing another bill to interfere with how Wisconsin
doctors are allowed to counsel their patients about abortion.
And for good measure, at the same time he was signing a bill into law
that eliminates the state`s version of the Lily Ledbetter Act, that
eliminates one of the state`s key protections for women trying to get equal
pay for equal work.
Scott Walker did all of that last night. He signed all of those last
night. How can you simultaneously have the Republican governor of
Wisconsin signing all of those laws and then have the national party
chairman, his buddy from back in Wisconsin, on TV saying we`re not doing
anything to women. Democrats keep accusing us of that. But who me? What?
And here`s Mitt Romney doing exactly the same thing as Reince Priebus.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was the perception
that Republicans are opposed to contraceptives. I think it was the most
unfortunate twist by our Democrat friends. I think this will pass as an
issue as people understand our real position. I have made it clear, I do
not oppose contraceptives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, right. And you`re not waging war on caterpillars
either. I understand.
Mitt Romney`s real position is that he says he supports a
constitutional amendment to define life as beginning at conception, which
would not only ban all abortion and make it illegal. It would likely ban
the pill, and other forms of contraception.
But I want to be known as supporting contraception.
Here`s the thing -- you can either be known for supporting
contraception or you can want to ban contraception. Those two things
cannot overlap. It`s like -- it`s like saying, stop calling me loud --
then stop being loud.
You can want states to ban contraception. You can block access to
contraception. You can try to make abortion illegal. You can roll back
equal pay laws.
You can take every legislative opportunity to roll back the rights of
women whereupon people will say you`re waging war on women, or you can
disprove that allegation that you`re waging a war on women by not doing all
of those things.
These two choices are mutually exclusive. If you are doing these
things, you`re going to be known for these things, no matter how much you
spin or whine about it.
I know the Republican Party is not going to take advice from me on
this or anything, but you guys should put Lisa Murkowski in charge of
talking about this. She gets it. Seriously.
MADDOW: As we have been reporting on the show for about a year, the
cities and towns and people of the great state of Michigan now live with
the possibility that their democratically elected local governments will be
removed, will be eliminated by Republican Governor Rick Snyder. It will be
replaced by an emergency manager who`s imbued with just about absolute
It`s pretty radical policy -- the elimination of voting rights at the
local level. The state just taking over regardless of who you voted for or
what you voted for.
Last night on the show, we reported on something even more radical
than that going on in Michigan politics. Republicans in the state
legislature there in dozens, maybe hundreds of cases, including when they
passed that emergency manager law simply declaring they had the super
majority to enact those new laws immediately, without the long waiting
period that`s required by the state constitution. They appear to have done
that without actually counting the votes that they would need and that
ended up being handy because they almost certainly did not have those
The practice looks and sounds a little like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those in favor, please rise. Immediate effect
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was supposedly a Michigan Republican legislature
counting to 73. No way, right? No way.
We realize that our story has set off a bit of a bombshell in Michigan
politics. But this is a bombshell. This is a radical usurpation of power.
It is radically anti-democratic, both big D Democratic in this case. But
much more worryingly, small D democratic.
Because this has kind of blown up and is attracting more and more
attention, we have gone ahead and posted last night`s report, along with
some additional material, including some court filings on our Web site
today, at MaddowBlog.com, whether or not you saw last night`s segment, you
may want to check that out online.
And I`m happy to tell you that on Monday night, right here, we`re
going to have part two of our special report on Michigan, this one on the
pushback against Republicans compound radicalism in that state. Watch this
MADDOW: On Wednesday of this week, three Americans were killed in
Afghanistan. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated explosives near
park in the northern part of Afghanistan. Ten Afghans were killed in the
explosion, three American soldiers were killed and the bomber was killed.
The Taliban have claimed credit for the attack.
All three of the Americans killed in this incident were from Ohio.
They were all serving Ohio National Guardsmen.
Last night, the local central Ohio news channel, WBNS had this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had all three names now of the men killed by a
suicide bomber. They are Sergeant First Class Shawn Hannon, Sergeant First
Class Jeffrey Rick, and Captain Nick Rozanski.
10TV`s Glenn McIntyre (ph) spoke to the Rozanski family and joins us
live in the newsroom tonight -- Glenn.
REPORTER: Jerry, the three central Ohio soldiers died yesterday,
along with 10 other people in a suicide attack in northern Afghanistan.
Tonight, their loved ones are still absorbing the reality of their loss.
ALEX ROZANSKI, BROTHER OF CAPT. NICHOLAS ROZANSKI: We shouldn`t
forget, we -- you know, we are a nation at war. And we forget that because
we go on with our day-to-day lives. These just become fading, brief
But, no, I mean, we are a nation at war, and men are dying on a
regular basis on there. People need to remember that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We are a nation at war and people need to remember that.
The gentleman speaking there was Alex Rozanski. His brother was
Captain Nicholas Rozanski, who`s one of those three Ohio soldiers killed
We have been at war for almost 11 years now in Afghanistan. For eight
and a half of those years, our military was simultaneously fighting another
war in Iraq as well. It has been expensive. It has been deadly.
And for the people fighting those wars, who have gone out on two,
three, four, five, six, seven combat deployment, it has been all consuming.
For the rest of us, though, for the 99 percent of Americans who have
not been fighting in those wars, we are still trying to figure out as
civilians how to acknowledge and appreciate and say thank you to the people
who have been doing the fighting and making the sacrifice and whose lives
have been so different than our civilian lives.
The Iraq war ended in December. And this is what it looked like here
at home, an address from the president. Ultimately also, a state dinner to
recognize a symbolic portion of the troops who served in Iraq. But no
national moment of recognition that regular Americans could participate in
to mark the ending of that war.
However, that is not the end of the story. Regular Americans in
cities around the country have wanted to do something, have wanted to do
something that people could participate in and regular Americans, coast to
coast, have started organizing on their own in cities large and small to
have parades -- parades to mark the end of the Iraq war, to say welcome
home to the troops who serve there and thank you.
This was the first one in St. Louis, Ohio. It was an enormous success
by every measure -- 100,000 people showed up on a very cold day in January.
There was also this ride to freedom in Fayetteville, North Carolina,
an eight-mile procession that modeled itself on the last convoys leaving
Tucson, Arizona, was next. Tucson had their welcome home parade last
weekend. It too was judged a big success in Tucson.
Later this month, if you`re in Melbourne, Florida, you too can be part
of welcoming home there. A parade and concert scheduled in Melbourne,
Florida, next Saturday, April 14th.
But tomorrow -- tomorrow is going to be the first end of the Iraq war
parade in a very large American city, Houston. Houston is the fourth
largest city in America. And tomorrow, Saturday at 4:00, Houston is
hosting, the city is not just allowing but is actually hosting a parade
honoring Iraq war veterans and their families.
The parade will end at Minute Maid Stadium where the Houston Astros
play. There will be a ceremony on the field before the Astros play their
first game of the season that night. The welcome home events in St. Louis
and Fayetteville, and Tucson were great. They were seen as very successful
locally. And those were individual citizens and local unofficial groups of
civilians that worked hard to organize them.
Tomorrow`s parade in Houston will be the first parade organized by the
city itself, which means the person in charge is an elected official and
person representing every resident of Houston, that city`s mayor.
Joining us now for the interview is the mayor of Houston, Texas,
Mayor Parker, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
MAYOR ANNISE PARKER, HOUSTON: Glad to be on. But now, I`m a little
intimidated. This is the first parade being hosted by a city. I find that
hard to believe.
But we`re ready for it. We`re excited about it.
MADDOW: Where did the idea come from that Houston should do this and
Houston should do it in the way that you have decided to do it?
PARKER: It came just as it has in all the other cities, from our
citizens. It bubbled up through veterans groups. I have a full time
veterans affairs coordinator who works for the city of Houston. He brought
the idea to me. We turned it over to our special events coordinator and it
just took off.
Citizens have embraced it. We didn`t originally plan to do it in
conjunction with the Houston Astros. But we do our parades downtown. The
Astros were going to be playing. They stepped up, wanted to treat the
returning veterans to baseball game and it has grown from there.
MADDOW: What kind of support are you expecting? What kind of -- I
guess, what kind of collaborations have you entered into? Obviously, the
Astros have become part of this. But how is this -- who`s together to make
this happen in Houston?
PARKER: All the local levels of government. But this is not a
corporate parade. It`s nothing something that we are seeking sponsorships
for anything. We`re going to have a parade and we`re just going to invite
all of Houston to come downtown, line the parade route and say thank you
and welcome home.
These are our friends, these our neighbors, these are our brothers and
our sisters who have come back from Iraq, and we want to show our support.
MADDOW: One of the issues that has been sort of the only controversy
surrounding this idea is that the Pentagon made an argument that there
should not be a New York City parade specifically. What they sort of
described as a national event that will be held in New York City while we
are still waging the war in Afghanistan.
Now, they have not objected to any other city doing what you`re about
to do tomorrow in Houston, doing what other cities have done. But they
said that there should not be a national event. Did that factor at all in
your decision-making on this?
PARKER: We thought about that. We do not forget that people are
fighting and dying in Afghanistan. But these troops have been deployed
over and over again. They are home. We hope they are home for good.
And we want the opportunity to say thank you now while it`s fresh,
because one of the things we all have to think about is the transition that
these military personnel go through as they go back into civilian life.
All too many of them get off track. We want to embrace them. We want to
show our support.
In addition to the rousing show of support they`ll get from
Houstonians, and we know how to support our troops here. There`s an
opportunity to capture them, connect them to the broader support network of
social service agencies and veterans groups that we have down here. It`s a
MADDOW: That`s been a key part of so many of these commemorative
events that have happened around the country, is trying to make them
substantive. So, it`s not just a thank you. It`s also a thank you and let
me give you a hand.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you, if you have -- I mean, Houston, you are
large city. You got a city that`s got a lot of resources. You just got a
veteran affairs coordinator on staff for the city.
Do you have any advice for other mayors, for other towns who may be
considering this, maybe thinking about doing some sort of welcome home
event for the Iraq vets?
PARKER: I would just say that it has to be about the vets. It has to
come through and with your local veterans groups. I mean, we do an annual
Veterans Day parade in November. But this is especially to thank our Iraqi
And we wouldn`t have done anything without the full support and
cooperation of the dozens of veterans associations that are in the Houston
area. We`re actually rated as a top 10 city by the Department of Defense
for our veteran services. And the city of Houston was just honored as the
best employer in the state of Texas for active duty military personnel.
And so, we work closely with our uniform services and with our veteran
groups to make sure that this is all appropriately done.
MADDOW: Houston Mayor Annise Parker, good luck with the parade
tomorrow. Everything that I`ve seen about the organizing and everything,
it looks like it`s going to be awesome. Congratulations and thanks a lot.
PARKER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Now, I will say, just editorial here, the Pentagon line that
it makes sense to do this in Houston and in Tucson and in St. Louis, and in
Fayetteville, and all the other places that are doing it, it makes sense to
do it, but it doesn`t make sense to do it in New York, I got to say it
doesn`t make sense to me.
The Pentagon official who we had on this show on the interview to talk
about that reasons with has now announced that he`s retiring. If it was
just his idea, maybe the fact that he`s going means the Pentagon could
reconsider this. The head of the city council here in New York and some of
the New York -- members of the New York City Council who have been pursuing
this I know are still interested. And so, if the Pentagon change its mind,
I think it would happen here, too.
All right. It`s Friday. You know there`s prison head for you on
MSNBC. But before we all have to go to prison together, we do have a best
thing in the world coming up. And it`s really a good one tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the mystery surrounding Osama bin Laden`s life and
death, one of the many as-yet unanswered questions that persists about him
is how was it that the United States` most wanted fugitive manage to live
in a $1 million compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 1,000 yards or so from a
Pakistani military academy? Not just any old military academy, but what
the "New York Times" calls Pakistan`s equivalent of West Point.
The prospect that Osama bin Laden barely took the trouble of hiding in
plain sight while he was living in Pakistan naturally led to speculation
about what exactly Pakistan knew about him. What Pakistani officials knew
about bin Laden, whether they were ever as serious as they said they were
about arresting him.
Did they know where Osama bin Laden was? Did they decide not to share
that knowledge with the United States? Was Pakistan protecting him?
The aftermath of the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan has
led to a deep and deepening mistrust between our two countries. And into
our murky frenemy relationship with Pakistan which is suffused with
suspicion and competing interests, into that froth little bowl of
international anxiety walks this guy.
This guy is the founder of an Islamic militant group called Lashkar-e-
Taiba. If that name sounds familiar to you is because Lashkar-e-Taiba is
the group that`s accused of orchestrating the horrific terrorist attacks in
Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008, including six Americans.
On Monday, the State Department put a $10 million bounty on him. A
$10 million reward for anybody who has information leading to his arrest
and conviction. There it is right there on the State Department`s Web
site, "rewards for justice." $10 million for information leading to his
arrest or conviction. The United States wants Hafiz Saeed apprehended
Well, this week, Hafiz Saeed responded to the U.S. government`s bounty
on his head by holding a press conference?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAFIZ SAEED (through translator): To be honest, I`m surprised that
America doesn`t know where I am. These threats, putting money on my head
to help my arrest, are for people hiding in mountains and caves and no one
knows about them. But with the grace of God, I am here, in front of you.
And tomorrow I will be in Lahore and will release a schedule for the day
after tomorrow so America can contact me whenever it wants to.
I`d like to ask the U.S. State Department why they offer this bounty
to other people. Why don`t they give it to me? I can tell them my
whereabouts on a daily basis and be available on my phone and addressing
large public rallies daily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. It`s not just that this guy held a freaking press
conference two days after the U.S. State Department put a $10 million
bounty on his head. It is also the place where he held that press
conference. He held that press conference in a place called Rawalpindi in
Pakistan. Rawalpindi is what they call a garrison city. It`s where the
Pakistani military has its headquarters.
So, Osama bin Laden`s house was just outside the gates of Pakistan`s
West Point. And the guy wanted for the Mumbai bombing with a new $10
million bounty on his head, he`s holding press conferences outside the
rough equivalent of Pakistan`s Pentagon.
The State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, was asked this
week about the bounty and whether our dear friends in the Pakistani
government and military really are on board with us on this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) in Pakistan. Has there been communication with
the Pakistani government, the Pakistani authorities seeking for his arrest?
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT: The government of Pakistan has
regularly, in our conversations with them, pledged its cooperation in the
investigations. We fully expect that it will follow through on those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They`ve pledged their cooperation in the investigations. We
fully expect that they will follow through on those commitments.
But in the meantime, we`re going to keep putting multimillion bounties
on the people who the United States believes are the most wanted people on
earth and those people will hide in plain sight right under the noses of
our dear Pakistani allies.
You know that concept of friends with benefits, what`s the opposite of
MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world. So, Hillary Clinton gets
on a plane, right? This is not your usual bags cost extra turn off your
cell phone plane, either, because Hillary Clinton is, of course, America`s
secretary of state. In this case, she is riding in a C17 military plane
that has been kited out just for her.
It`s like, look, right? It`s like a secretary of state bat mobile.
So people can stand up and walk around, they can take highly classified
phone calls at cruising altitude.
And seriously, I mean, the secretary of state needs the room. She`s
got meetings, capital m meetings in Malta and Oman and Pakistan and
Afghanistan and Libya. She`s got reporters along from "Time" and "Reuters"
and "The Associated Press" who get to tell us about this later.
Plus, she needs room for her giant briefing books so she can read up
on what she has to read up on.
So, somewhere on the flight to Tripoli, a press reporter took this
rather amazing picture of Madam Secretary. And then filed with the editors
And although this picture is not brand-new, this picture I think was
actually taken last fall, last October, this week, this picture became a
brand-new idea to everybody on the Internet machine when it became a hook
for the best new photographic politics mime in the long time. Now, this is
no longer just a picture of Hillary Clinton on a plane. This week, it
became Hillary Clinton checking her texts and saying what you think she
wants to say.
So, for example, "Hey girl. " Ryan Gosling. "It`s Madam Secretary.
The former secretary of state say, "So then I sent her a text saying I
think I left my favorite sunglasses in the debt." Sorry, Condi, haven`t
This one`s really good. "Hey, Hil, what are you doing?" "Running the
Or this one, "It`s 3:00 a.m. and I think something`s happening."
Response from the secretary, "On it."
This is the Facebook guy -- friend request sent. Response: rejected.
It`s very entertaining. This is all from a Tumblr called "Texts from
I love this texts from Hillary Clinton thing. We have a link to it on
our blog if you have not seen it. Best new thing in the world today.
And provided you can still get internet access while you are there,
the text from Hillary Clinton will give you something to giggle over in
three, two, one -- prison.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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