Guests: Thomas Burr, Shehrbano Taseer, Betty Cockrum
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is
Good evening, Rachel. And, Rachel, thank you very much for joining me tomorrow night to do the instant analysis of the president‘s speech.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I was just going to say, I‘m very much looking forward to joining you for that.
This is—I mean, we had so much advance notice of the president‘s last speech on Afghanistan, and this one we got about 36 hours notice if that. I think it‘s going to be a really big deal. I‘m looking forward to joining you for that tomorrow.
O‘DONNELL: Well, you‘ve already done your homework for it. So, we‘re ready.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. I appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Actually can we just—could we dim the lights for a minute? Can we do that thing that we were going to do? Can we just make the lights go down?
Never raises his voice.
That seldom takes no for an answer.
Not in it for the balloons.
The world needs new.
America needs fresh.
The past didn‘t work.
We don‘t need that.
All right. Put the lights on. I was going to—OK. I could do more but that‘s really super embarrassing.
All right. Sorry. Do you remember when Conan O‘Brien had William Shatner jazz interpret Sarah Palin‘s quitting speech? Do you remember when he did that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SHATNER, ACTOR: Here, Mother Nature wins. And it is as throughout all Alaska that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We actually called William Shatner today to try to get him to give that same treatment to Jon Huntsman‘s presidential campaign announcement today. But Mr. Shatner, the great, awesome Shatner, was not available for us tonight.
But, still, kind of have to admit that this is amazing. This is the way Jon Huntsman‘s presidential campaign announcement video starts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The world needs new. America needs fresh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s the way it starts. Those are not sentences. So, it‘s like, OK, was this mistranslated from some other language. At one point, I started counting the syllables, thinking I had come up with a code.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The world needs new. America needs fresh. New perspective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Haiku, it could be haiku. The world needs new. American needs fresh. New perspective. Fourteen syllables. Could be English style haiku.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Never raises his voice but seldom takes no for an answer.
Not in it for the balloons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not in it for the balloons. That one doesn‘t come to 14 syllables. There is no subsequent explanation for what the balloons are—yes, so I don‘t really know what that part of it means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The past didn‘t work. We don‘t need that. Knows business. Build things to calm the tough to never flip, never flop, not in it for the winning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know how candidates, especially candidates nobody has ever heard of have to say, “I‘m in it to win it” when they announce their campaign. So you take them seriously.
Jon Huntsman assures America on the day he announces his presidential campaign that he is not in it for the winning. But wait, there‘s more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: A taste for dirt. No drama, progress. This guy is different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, he is. I do not mean to be making fun of Jon Huntsman‘s campaign launch. That‘s not how I mean this honestly.
Personally, I think this kind of awesome. I just personally believe in American weirdness so much that it almost occludes my view of Jon Huntsman‘s right wing politics that he is trying to be this weird while running for president. I love this.
But in terms of political analysis, it is hard to know how this is going to go over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: A taste for dirt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A taste for dirt. Spectacular.
That is—that is the launch. That‘s the presidential launch video. And that is what Jon Huntsman‘s presidential campaign did on purpose today to launch his campaign.
But let me also tell you what Jon Huntsman did not do on purpose today. This is a New York City Circle Line tour boat.
My parents and Susan‘s mother and sister were just visiting New York recently from out of town. We looked into taking a Circle Line cruise with them. That‘s one of the things you do went you‘re a tourist in Manhattan. It‘s a little boat and it goes around and you get to see everything and everybody says the narration you get from the tour guide is way too loud.
But other than that, it‘s a nice New York thing. Circle Line.
When Jon Huntsman said he was going to make his announcement for his presidential, we were told that he would speak from New Jersey—from Jersey City, New Jersey, specifically, so that his speech could be framed for television with the Statue of Liberty behind him.
Of course, the analysis here is Ronald Reagan. When Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign in 1980, this was the TV shot—
Ronald Reagan with the Statue of Liberty behind me. That‘s the shot Jon Huntsman wanted today.
But here is the shot for all of the TV cameras today of Jon Huntsman making his announcement. Where‘s the Statue of Liberty? I don‘t know.
But the thing dissecting his head is a Circle Line tour boat.
Here‘s how it happened actually. Here‘s the man who was introducing Jon Huntsman to the stage. As you can see here, there‘s no circle line boat in the background. But even still, you still can‘t see the Statue of Liberty in the shot. A little bit of her feet maybe?
Sometime in between that guy introducing Jon Huntsman and Jon Huntsman making his way up to the podium with his family, that Circle Line tour boat pulled up and just parked itself right behind the podium, right in the middle of Jon Huntsman‘s head, right in the shot. And since the TV cameras were not set up in a way that would include the Statue of Liberty in the shot, the shot was perfectly framed so that Jon Huntsman‘s giant head was just sort of floating there like “I‘m not from here, price gouging, narrated tourist boat hydra.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: No mainstream politician here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You betcha.
One early sign that the stars were a little crossed for Jon Huntsman‘s presidential campaign launch today came 12 ½ minutes before the event was due to start.
This note came across our internal system, internal news system, from one of our NBC producers at the event. Quote, “The riser generator provided by the Huntsman campaign has died. The head on riser has no power nor does the podium mike.”
Again, that was about 12 minutes before the presidential launch. It was about 15 minutes before that Circle Line tour boat trundled into place right in the slot where the candidate‘s head was supposed to be.
And things were really no better online today. Anybody watching the live feed of the event or otherwise intrigued by Huntsman‘s candidacy might reasonably have sought out the candidate online, on his Web site today, right?
If you went to his donation page, there was this message alongside the contribution form. This was noticed by my friend Steve Benen at “Washington Monthly” today. It says, “If you prefer, you can contact us by mail or by telephone. Jon Huntsman for president, 123 Main Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1235, and the phone number, 12345, and then the phone number, (123) 456-7890.
So, either they scored the best phone number in—yes, no, that‘s wrong.
Back at the event though. They were compounding the error. There were not a lot of supporters in the crowd today when Mr. Huntsman was making his big announcement.
Politico.com had two reporters on-site who described a crowd of about 100 people of whom they said about 60 were reporters. Ben Smith from “Politico” specifically reporting that he found some undecided college Republicans bused in from D.C., a couple of operatives here to gawk, and precisely one enthused Jon Huntsman supporter.
But there were a lot of press there. Jon Huntsman is a candidate that has intrigued a lot of the press.
And the Huntsman campaign briefly tried to hand out these press credentials to the many, many press there. Look at that for the moment. Do you see anything wrong there?
First of all, Mr. Huntsman‘s campaign launch is not in New York, it is in New Jersey. So, that‘s wrong.
And second of all, that is not his name. Yes, it says in the logo part up there, J-O-N, Jon, that‘s correct. But just below that, J-O-H-N, which is wrong. And I mean, who cares? It‘s just a typo, right?
Actually, in this case, it matters. A, because it‘s his name, and, B, because the web address for the whole campaign depends on you spelling his name right. The Web address for the Jon Huntsman campaign is Jon2012.com. If you miss spell it and go to John2012.com, you will find this, because the campaign did not buy that Web site yet even though most people spell John, J-O-H-N.
This is the Web site that is available for purchase now. The current owner is listed as a man named Mr. Thrupe (ph) who lives in Michigan.
If you keep misspelling John, and you go to JohnHuntsman.com, you will see that that Web site is also for sale. If you go to Huntsman2012.com, you will also find that that is for sale. If you just go to Huntsman.com, you‘ll find that it‘s his dad‘s company.
If you type in the most common misspelling of his last name, which is hunstman.com, you will see that that Web site is also for sale. If you type in that same common misspelling and add 2012 on the end, actually, I own that one and we have hopefully redirected it to the Huntsman cartoon theme song which I love and I hope the campaign does, too.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: I love that.
Huntsman campaign, if you guys are worried about your web addresses, if you want that one, call us and we will give it to you.
You know, a misspelling on your campaign materials is understandable. A misspelling of something on the press pass for your campaign launch is a little bit harder to deal with. It‘s the press, after all.
A misspelling of the candidate‘s name on the press pass? That is getting into seriously hard to deal with. A misspelling of the candidate‘s name on the press pass that also points out that you have not secured any of the web addresses that anybody might reasonably associate with your candidate, that is even harder to deal with.
Getting the name of your candidate wrong, getting the state wrong that you launched your campaign in, getting your address wrong, getting your phone number wrong, not getting the cameras pointed at the Statue of Liberty and then the generator dies 12 minutes before the announcement.
And then as soon as the whole thing is over and it is time for whatever this guy‘s name is to go to his next campaign event in New Hampshire, when it comes time to get all the press, all those dozens of press, get them on board the plane to go with whatever his name is to go to New Hampshire for his first big campaign event, what happens? They try to accidentally board the press corps on to a plane that is not going to New Hampshire, but is instead going to Saudi Arabia.
I am not kidding. Oh, my God. Yes, this really happened.
Quoting, “The press corps and campaign staff traveling with the former U.S. ambassador to China as he campaigns in New Hampshire was then led to a plane bound for Saudi Arabia, instead of the Granite State. A Huntsman official said there was confusion on the part of the Port Authority.”
Accidentally almost send the press corps to Saudi Arabia and then blame the cops. Wow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: If others had only chosen that path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jon Huntsman, truth be told, is not of the only Republican presidential candidate who has really flubbed the launch of the campaign.
Remember, Rick Santorum‘s first presidential slogan was accidentally something said by a gay man so he had to resend it and come up with something straighter.
Newt Gingrich‘s role is so flawed from the beginning that the first thing he publicly fought with his staff about was the announcement himself.
Mitt Romney‘s big announcement ended up getting second billing to a Sarah Palin clambake that was happening at the same time just a few miles away.
None of these things go as intended. And, you know, bad luck is bad luck. What the Huntsman campaign going to do? Send out commandos in high speeds zodiacs to go chase the Circle Line boat away? I mean, the damage was done. What are you going to do?
But the reason so many reporters were at the Huntsman launch today, even though he‘s polling so low right now, the reason why he‘s taken so seriously by the press even before he‘s taken seriously by anybody else is because he‘s supposedly one of the real pros. The sense of viability with which the press has imbued Jon Huntsman‘s campaign is due in part to the fact that he‘s got a substantial portion of John McCain‘s campaign staff working for him. And John McCain, after all, won the nomination after time around.
Even in the midst of this cascade of embarrassing failures on the day one of his presidential campaign, “The New York Times” today still wrote up the event as having lived up to the candidate‘s reputation for expert stage management. Really? You mean the campaign that got the name, address, phone number and plane to Saudi Arabia wrong on day one?
Once the press is seized on a narrative about the candidate, it is sometimes hard to shake them from that narrative no matter how much evidence to the contrary. So expect to keep hearing in the Beltway media about how Jon Huntsman is the candidate who has been perfectly presented by his handlers, even though there his head is coming out to you from the flank of a Circle Line boat.
Whether the White House is just believing the Beltway press on this or whether they know something that we do not know about Jon Huntsman, the Obama administration is definitely taking his candidacy quite seriously. “The Hill” newspaper reporting last week, the only ones up on the wall at the Obama re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago were Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Huntsman, Huntsman, Huntsman.
Whatever the harm caused by Jon Huntsman‘s—cause to Jon Huntsman‘s chances today with this rather disastrous rollout, frankly the deepest harm to his campaign may not have been one of these self inflicted wounds. Jon Huntsman substantively says he‘s planning to run on reducing the debt and getting out of Afghanistan. Those are his two main platforms.
The day before Jon Huntsman‘s presidential launch, the White House leaked news that President Obama tomorrow, in prime time, will be announcing the start of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. That‘s rather taking the wind out of Jon Huntsman‘s campaign sails.
But leaving us all with a beautiful picture of his head speaking to us all out of a white flank of a very nice boat.
Joining us now is Thomas Burr, Washington correspondent for “The Salt Lake Tribune.” He has interviewed Mr. Huntsman several times. He was at this announcements in New Jersey and New Hampshire today.
Thanks very much for being here.
THOMAS BURR, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: I‘m glad to be here and not Saudi Arabia. This is good. This is good start.
MADDOW: Were you at risk?
BURR: I didn‘t get off the bus. I wasn‘t going to do that.
MADDOW: You are familiar with governor Huntsman from his previous political life and everything that‘s happened so far in his campaign. Did it surprise you that there were so many just little flubs today?
BURR: I think little flubs happen with every campaign. Every campaign launch has little things go wrong. But, you know, he got his message out. He had the cameras still there, even if the Circle Line was behind his head. He still got his message out.
So, little things happen. Our campaign bus got pulled over, got a ticket on the New Jersey turnpike this evening.
MADDOW: The bus that was just press?
BURR: Just press. The candidate wasn‘t there. Huntsman wasn‘t driving.
You know, things happen. It‘s little gaffes along the way. But it wasn‘t him that made the gaffe. It was the bus driver.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, in terms of the substance of his campaign, the idea that he‘s going to run on debt reduction is not that surprising from a Republican political perspective this year.
MADDOW: The decision to go with getting out of Afghanistan is one at main platforms of his campaign is starting to get, I think, as much attention as it deserves. Does that come out of left field in terms of his previous political history, or is that something you expected?
BURR: You know, he was a governor. So, in a lot of ways he hasn‘t weighed in. He was in China for 18 months. So, he hasn‘t been able to weigh in there.
So, finally, I think we‘re finally getting to hear Huntsman‘s foreign policy strategy when it comes to the war. So, this is kind of the first time we‘ve ever asked these questions of Huntsman.
When‘s I was governor, I wasn‘t going to say, what do you think we should do in Iraq and Afghanistan? That really wasn‘t his foray.
MADDOW: In terms of making a national splash with these sorts of things, ideally, a candidate wants to talk about things often and make their central message, something on which there is a sharp distinctions between them and the president, sharpening distinction between the parties.
Do you think that it may be hard for him to do that with this president, especially because he seems to have sort of a generous tone toward President Obama?
BURR: You know, he said the last time I interviewed him—he talked about how he wants to run a very, you know, civil campaign. He did talk today about the president a little bit, but not in any way that was negative towards him. In fact, he said he respected the president, which is not something you really expect to hear at a Republican announcing.
That‘s very Jon Huntsman. When he ran his last two campaigns in Utah, in fact, I interviewed, his candidate last time, the Democratic candidate, he said—he called Huntsman a gentleman.
The first time around in 2004, Scott Matheson was the Democratic candidate. When Huntsman won, Scott Matheson walked a block over to the GOP headquarters, walked in and hugged Huntsman and congratulated him.
This is Jon Huntsman.
When you look at the way the—the Beltway press is treating Jon Huntsman, they are imbuing his candidacy with a lot of viability that wouldn‘t have otherwise indicated by the way he‘s polling. People still don‘t know who he is.
BURR: He‘s the fresh candidate, though. He‘s the new guy. We‘ve already know everything about Gingrich we can possibly know. We know more about Romney you probably want to know.
There‘s a lot of things that Huntsman is just the new guy on the block.
MADDOW: Although, you know, nobody has fallen all over himself to put Thaddeus McCotter on the cover of “The New York Times” magazine.
I mean, the Beltway is really taking Huntsman seriously.
BURR: Sure. He‘s good with the press. He‘s good. On paper, the man is amazing.
And I think critics are going to find little things along the way, but he really does have that presidential look. He‘s got, you know, great resume being in business executive. Governor twice elected and foreign policy experience that probably a match any other presidential candidate.
So, he‘s got a great resume. But now, it‘s time for him to go out and go to New Hampshire and see how he can do there.
MADDOW: One last question for you about today. I read a lot about Jon Huntsman over the years. I think today was the first time I ever listened to him give a speech as opposed to just reading it.
And I don‘t mean this to be personal insulting in any way, but I found it very boring. It was tonally uninteresting. He didn‘t engage anybody who was there and he didn‘t seem to be trying.
Is that typical of him or can he dial it up if he wants to?
BURR: I‘ve heard observers say he‘s not the best in large setting like that. I think in the press plane, people talking about being underwhelmed by this speech.
But he was great in New Hampshire. I say this as an observer looking at him in New Hampshire. He was packed with a whole bunch of people, with signs, maybe more energized there in that kind of setting because in a close situation. He‘s great with small groups when he was the governor of Utah. He was always great about bringing people in smaller things. Maybe itself just the bigger setting he‘s going to have to get used to.
MADDOW: They got to get that camera closer to him.
Thomas Burr, “Salt Lake Tribune” Washington correspondent, I hope you‘ll come back. I really appreciate it.
BURR: Anytime. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: For all of Jon Huntsman‘s troubles launching his campaign today, the Obama administration is taking him seriously as a potential Republican contender. They‘re taking him seriously, seriously, seriously. And that is one of the other things that ended up going wrong for Jon Huntsman in the last 24 hours.
Jon Huntsman‘s policy position as politics problem courtesy of some very strategic timing from President Obama. That story is coming up next.
MADDOW: Every once in a while in news and politics, there‘s a concerted effort to get people to use really specific terminology they wouldn‘t naturally use on their own. So, until we got a Department of Homeland Security, nobody in America really said the word homeland unless you were making fun of German people. Remember George W. Bush did not want to privatize Social Security, we were all supposed to say that he wanted to personalize it like with a monogram, a monogram that makes you live off cat food.
But the enforced awkward terminology thing is not partisan. Both parties do it.
In the first year of the Obama administration, you may recall that we were supposed to start calling the war in Afghanistan, a term that was made up and much more awkward to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: When U.S. and British forces, along with Afghan soldiers, moved into the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, it marked a major phase in a U.S.-led strategy, Washington first called AfPak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘re calling it the AfPak strategy. And, in fact, the former CIA director said it should be called the Pak-Af policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, my thesis would be you‘ve got to look at this as AfPak.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: It was if the whole Beltway went into a training session one day and everybody unlearned the full words Afghanistan and Pakistan and replaced them with this new awkward combination of part of both, that sort of sounded like the Aflac duck.
But the idea of AfPak was that it was all one big fight, right? The war was overtly being fought on the Afghanistan side of the border, but calling it AfPak was a nod to, frankly, the secret U.S. war on the Pakistan side and to the America‘s interest being equally important in both countries.
President Obama defined the war he inherited in Afghanistan not really as a war to stand up in Afghan nation but rather as a war to defeat an enemy, an enemy that was not of any particular place, an enemy that was transnational.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the president‘s last major speech on the war on Afghanistan 18 months ago. Tomorrow, he will announce the outcome of the policy he announced in that speech. He‘s due to announce at least the start of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president identified in December of 2009 that made the commitment that forces would begin to draw down in July of 2011. He is keeping that commitment. And that‘s what he will announce tomorrow evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s how the U.S. public has felt about the war in Afghanistan, from just before the ‘08 election until now. This is the proportion of Americans who say to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely until it‘s stable—before the election, it was 61 percent. As you can see now, it‘s down to 39 percent.
This is the proportion of Americans who want U.S. troops out of there
home as soon as possible. Before the election, it was 33 percent. Now, it is 56 percent.
This is the first time a clear majority of Americans says get out and get out now.
Congress is also now showing signs of wanting to get out, despite Lindsay Graham and John McCain‘s efforts.
But the tipping point for the collapse and support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan is actually not something that happened in Afghanistan. It‘s not even something about Afghanistan. It was the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, in an interior city that this compound on the doorstep of a major Pakistani military facility.
Pakistan still has not explained how bin Laden came to be found living rather comfortably, rather visibly in interior Pakistan, possibly for as long as five years. The Pakistani establishment has expressed deep anger about the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden.
Pakistani‘s intelligence service arrested five informants who helped the U.S. find bin Laden. One reportedly an army major who wrote down license plate numbers of people visiting that compound, who then handed that information to the U.S. Now, he‘s under arrest.
Now facing the beginning of what looks to be a long end to America‘s longest war ever, nobody uses that term AfPak anymore. Before he died, Richard Holbrooke had everybody stop saying AfPak last year, because the Pakistanis told him they pound it insulting. Frankly, that‘s understandable.
But, now, as at least a modest U.S. withdrawal starts and the conditions are ripe at home for the U.S. to finally end this decade at war in Afghanistan, what will become of the other side of the border of what has been called at times the most anti-American place on earth.
As much as the U.S. insists that we and Pakistan are allies, we‘re partners, ask the Pakistani public. Before Osama bin Laden was killed, the percentage of Pakistanis who thought the U.S. was a partner of Pakistan was 9 percent. After bin Laden‘s death, that number dropped to 6 percent -- 6 percent who say our countries are partners despite we hear it from our government all the time.
The number of Pakistanis, the proportion of Pakistanis who say instead that the United States is Pakistan‘s enemy? That number is 69 percent.
In January of this year, the governor of Pakistan‘s most populous province, a political moderate, challenging religious extremism in his country, challenging the country‘s anti-blasphemy law specifically, he was assassinated on the street in the nation‘s capital. He had been assigned a whole compliment of bodyguards to protect him. It was one of t the bodyguards who killed him.
Joining us now for the interview tonight is his daughter, Shehrbano Taseer. Despite her father‘s death and threats to her own life, she has carried on his legacy as an—excuse me—as an outspoken critic of extremism and some of Pakistan‘s most powerful political forces.
Shehrbano, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate it.
SHEHRBANO TASEER, DAUGHTER OF ASSASSINATED PAKISTANI POLITICIAN: Yes.
MADDOW: Why do you believe that your father was killed and what‘s the status of the trial for the men who is accused of killing him?
TASEER: Well, my father had stood up for an innocent woman, a Christian woman, who had been accused of blasphemy a couple of years ago. And in November of last year, she was sentenced to death.
So, on humanitarian grounds, my father took up her case. He said that she had been a victim of Pakistan‘s blasphemy laws which are draconian in their nature and they‘re—and, you know, they‘re being used as an instrument of oppression and terror, where, you know, they‘re vague and open ended.
So, anyone can level blasphemy charges against anyone. And, you know, accuse them of anything and you don‘t get a chance to prove yourself innocent and you‘re tossed into jail for the rest of your life.
So, my father felt very strongly about this and he, you know, he
reminded me this is not about religion, this is about humanity. And I mean
MADDOW: Your father was one of the most prominent well-known politicians in the country, governor of the most populous, wealthiest province in Pakistan. Did he know how much danger he was putting himself in by taking that stand?
TASEER: Well, my father was very unapologetic in his views. He said things that made people uncomfortable. He was one of the most vocal critics of extremism in Pakistan.
So, he knew that he was up against, you know, a cleric (INAUDIBLE).
But that was the kind of man he was. He refused to back down.
MADDOW: How important is it—especially for an audience right now in America thinking about our relationship with Pakistan, thinking about the potential end of our decade of war in Afghanistan. How important is it for—how important is it that the man who killed him was part of the security services, was one of he‘s elite level bodyguards? What does that mean?
TASEER: I think it just shows how wide the extremism has spread in Pakistan, where you have, you know, your armed forces are taking these kinds of stands and it‘s spread into your security forces, as well.
And it shows that it‘s, you know, the problem is not just going to go away with drone or bombs or raids. It‘s not a man or an organization that you‘re going after. It‘s a mindset. And it‘s a very deeply rooted mindset.
And especially, you know, for the end of the war, whenever that may be, it means that, you know, you can do what you did in the Soviet-Afghan War, which is, you know, make a huge mess and leave without cleaning it up. It‘s a mindset that you‘re dealing with and there needs to be a long-term solution.
So, you have this counter insurgency program, which is, you know, the drones and these raids. But there‘s no counter narrative on the ground. There‘s no counter extremism strategies.
MADDOW: If America believes that it is in the world‘s interest and in our own interests to try to take your father‘s side in this fight, to try to work against extremism in Pakistan, as the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan starts going down—is there something else that America should be thinking about or at least committing to in order to try to bring about what your father wanted in Pakistan?
TASEER: Yes, there are—you know, if you look at American aid, it‘s all going towards the military. So, there are billions of dollars that are going towards planes and, you know—and teaching soldiers how to fight and arm and bombs and guns and things. But there‘s no humanitarian aid.
So, there‘s no aid that‘s going towards infrastructure or education or sanitation or electricity or, you know, and these are the main things that Pakistan needs. These are the everyday problems. And it‘s when you begin to address these problems that you begin to address the root causes of extremism.
MADDOW: Isn‘t the military and the intelligence service though so dominant that they essentially make sure that all of the money gets diverted to themselves no matter who it‘s earmarked for?
TASEER: Yes, they very much call the shots.
MADDOW: Yes. So, how do you get around that?
TASEER: That‘s the million dollar question.
MADDOW: Yes. Actually, it‘s about a $15 billion question, I guess, if we do the math here.
Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of assassinated Pakistani Governor Salman Taseer, I have wanted to talk to you for a long time. I know you‘re not in the U.S. for long right now. And I also know that you speaking out this way is a considerable act of bravery on your part. So, I‘m doubly and triply thankful for this time to talk to you. Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: Good luck.
We will be right back.
MADDOW: When Newt Gingrich tried to launch his presidential campaign last month, the first sign that something was wrong was a misfire about when he would be announcing. He said one day his campaign said another date. It was a mess before it launched.
Then he launched and in his first major interview, he denounced as radical right wing social engineering the congressional Republican budget this year—speaking a bold claim in his first interview, a bold claim that he immediately retracted. Then immediately after that, Mr. Gingrich started taking heat for having a revolving charge account of up to half million dollars at a diamond store, at Tiffany‘s.
And for that, he did not have much of an explanation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s very odd to me that someone would run up a half million dollars bill at a jewelry store.
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Go talk to Tiffany‘s. All I‘m telling you is we are very frugal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tonight, Mr. Frugal‘s campaign admitted that there wasn‘t just one line of credit for hundreds of thousands of dollars at Tiffany‘s. He had a second one, too. This one up to $1 million.
And the most amazing thing about these second line of credit at Tiffany‘s store today is that it was not the worst political news of the day for Newton Leroy Gingrich.
That news is ahead.
MADDOW: If your family lives in Indiana and you make less than 230 bucks a month and you do not get health insurance from your job and at that rate of income, you probably do not, you can get health insurance through something called Medicaid. Almost 1 million people who live in Indiana have Medicaid as their health insurance. Medicaid is one of the big, successful socialized medicine systems we have in this country.
People of the military have the Department of Defense for their health care. Veterans have the Veterans Administration health system. Older people have Medicare. And people with disabilities and people who are poor have Medicaid.
But if you are a Hoosier and you‘re health insurance is Medicaid, as of today, when it comes to getting birth control pills or breast cancer screenings or prenatal care if you‘re pregnant or you‘re yearly lady parts check-ups, if your health insurance is Medicaid and you live in Indiana, you are going to have to come up with some other way to pay for those services as of today. At least if you‘re one of the most 9,000 Indianans whose health care is Medicaid and have been getting those kinds of services from Planned Parenthood clinics.
Mitch Daniels, Indiana‘s Republican governor, signed a law last month cutting off all funding for Planned Parenthood. Because Medicaid gets public funding, that means anybody who uses Medicaid as their health insurance can‘t get any services at Planned Parenthood anymore.
Now, this in all likelihood is illegal. You cannot restrict this type of health insurance this way. Federal law is very clear on that.
And so, Planned Parenthood has sued the state to top this. The federal Medicaid administrator told Indiana in no uncertain terms that the state is not allowed to do this. The Justice Department has even weighed on Planned Parenthood‘s lawsuit, also arguing that Indiana is really not allowed to do this.
But the judge in the case has not ruled yet. And so, until the judge rules on whether or not to stop Indiana from telling Medicaid patients they‘re not allowed to go to Planned Parenthood for their prenatal care and their cancer screenings, Indiana is going to keep on blocking that funding. And so, in the meantime, waiting for that ruling, Planned Parenthood of Indiana is running out of the donations they were using to pay out of pocket, to keep providing health care for their patients who have Medicaid as their insurance.
As of today, Planned Parenthood of Indiana does not have enough money to afford to keep doing that that anymore.
Depending on how long this goes on, they say eight clinics that see lots of patients whose health insurance is Medicaid—eight clinics are in danger of fully shutting down.
This has nothing to do with abortion. I mean, it has everything to do with abortion, but really nothing to do with abortion. Federal law already bans any federal funding from going to support abortion services. That is already the case.
All this is going to do is that it will stop poor people from being able to get anything else at Planned Parenthood, like, say, contraception or cancer screenings. This is abortion politics gone just to the extreme but so far beyond the extreme that the most likely effective this policy is to cause there to be more abortions, because people who do not want to get pregnant will not be able to avoid getting pregnant using the means they use now to avoid getting pregnant because they have been cut of from that.
Because of that, there has been backlash in the Indiana state legislatures, even among Republicans. Anti-abortion Republicans who are about to vote for the big, omnibus anti-abortion bill that is now best known for defunding Planned Parenthood, a Republican Senator Vanetta Becker said on the Senate floor that she supported this anti-abortion bill until the Planned Parenthood language was added to it. She said the state could end up spending an additional $68 million annually on Medicaid because of unintended pregnancies if they cut all of Planned Parenthood‘s family planning services.
But even as everybody awaits the court ruling to find out what‘s going to happen in Indiana, Mitch Daniels is insisting that this is no hardship whatsoever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MITCH DANIELS ®, INDIANA: We haven‘t changed services at all.
We‘re going to spend every dollar, maybe more, that we could have anyway.
This is only about whether one specific provider gets that money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Or maybe even going to spend more. So, anybody who said this was about the budget, yes.
His argument is essential that people on Medicaid can just go to other places to get these services. It‘s really no big deal.
When Republican legislators tried to make that case about where all these other places are, where people could go now that everybody on Medicaid was going to be shut out of Planned Parenthood, they pulled out a big map on the floor of the state legislature.
I‘m quoting from the “Fort Wayne Journal Gazette,” quote, “The map they said showed health clinics that could bridge the gap if Planned Parenthood lost funding. The list included: a Salvation Army addiction center, a homeless shelter, several mental health centers, a juvenile detention center and the Indiana Women‘s prison.”
So, that‘s the suggestion. Just stop in the women‘s prison, you guys, I‘m sure they‘d be glad to have you.
Or try the addiction center or the Salvation Army. I hear they are great with pap smears.
Joining us now is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Indiana, Betty Cockrum.
Betty, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know these are hard times for you guys right now.
BETTY COCKRUM, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF INDIANA PRES. & CEO: They are.
And thanks for having us.
MADDOW: The step use took this week, stop covering Medicaid patients, your clinics are going to be closed for a day, most of your employees taking a furlough, unpaid day off—is that all of that so you can avoid actually shutting down clinics starting now?
COCKRUM: That‘s the case, we‘re looking at a very short window here, we hope, because the judge has every indication that she intends to rule by July 1. We‘re, of course, hopeful that we‘ll quickly be restored as Medicaid provider and this chapter can be over.
MADDOW: Are you trying to bridge the gap between now and whenever the ruling is by just donations and by shifting funds from other parts of your budget, to try to cover Medicaid patients?
COCKRUM: What we had been able to do because the outpours of support from across the country and, in fact, in three continents, as of the end of April when this was happening with the legislature, was the donations were sufficient, unsolicited, to cover the cost of the Medicaid services that we continue to provide once this went into effect on May the 10th. And we knew all along that those donations would begin to run out and couldn‘t be sustained, and that has, in fact, happened.
And because there is opportunity for the state to file one more argument by noon on Friday, we had no choice but to shut down our Medicaid patients and to take measures to cut costs, which is why we‘re doing this statewide, agency-wide furlough tomorrow.
MADDOW: The 9,000 or so patients that you have in the state who are people whose health insurance is Medicaid, if you have to tell them, we understand you‘ve been getting your birth control pills here, we understand you‘ve been getting cancer screenings and preventive care, or prenatal care here, but you now have to pay these things out of pocket, we can no longer cover you—do you think your Medicaid patients will be able to pay?
COCKRUM: We had to start making those phone calls yesterday because we were shutting down those services effective first thing this morning, and tried to get in touch with our patients who had appointments on the calendar. But we had patients today across the state who came to our health centers to get their birth control, and unless they were able to find a means to pay, we weren‘t able to provide those supplies.
MADDOW: Planned Parenthood has been a real target this year, not just in your state but across the country. I know that has not escaped your notice.
But did you see—did you expect what‘s happening to you now? Did you see this coming at all?
COCKRUM: This language has been filed in Indiana, as an amendment historically. And it didn‘t make through, obviously, before this particular legislative session. But the outcome of elections in November suggested that this threat became that much more real.
MADDOW: Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Indiana. Again I know these are tough times and you are busy because of it, so thank you so much for joining us tonight. Good luck.
COCKRUM: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, “THE ED SHOW,” Ed Schultz‘s show, I have to say has been on a bit of a tear lately. If you are not a regular viewer of “THE ED SHOW,” if you have not been watching recently, may I suggest to you personally that you should probably watch. Today, for example, Ed will be tackling trickle-up economics where everything miraculously seems to redound to the top, redound to the top. That‘s coming up right at the end of the show.
“THE ED SHOW” follows this show right here on MSNBC.
Right here, “The Best New Thing in the World Today” is coming up at the end of our show. “Best New Thing in the World Today” involves free cars and gold trimmed white leather. Oh, yes.
MADDOW: Breaking news from “The Wall Street Journal”—a congressional panel reportedly investigating allegations that Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings sexually harassed a member of his staff. The investigation, according to “The Journal,” is being conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics. This follows a lawsuit against Congressman Hastings that was first filed against him in March.
Alcee Hastings‘ attorney says in the strongest term he denies the charges. He is confident he will be fully exonerated.
The ethics office will have 90 days to investigate this before recommending whether or not the House Ethics Committee should begin its own investigation.
That‘s all we have on it right now. “The Journal” reporting it alone.
We‘ll keep you posted as learn more.
MADDOW: A couple weeks ago, Newt Gingrich‘s whole senior campaign staff quit all at once—the whole Iowa staff walked out, the supposed campaign headquarters in Atlanta, bye-bye. Everybody gone. A mass exodus as they say.
Today, we found out there were still some Newt Gingrich campaign staffers left. We found that out because they quit, too. Two top fundraisers out ahead of news breaking this evening that Mr. Gingrich‘s next financial disclosure filing will show not one but two really quite impressive rotating charge accounts at the jewelry store, Tiffany‘s—the second line of credit worth up to a million bucks, the first one up to a half million.
What‘s left of the Gingrich campaign today responded to the fundraisers quitting with this, quote, “We wish the members of the finance team who chose to leave the best and continue forward as committed as ever.”
What‘s the next stop for team Gingrich as committed as ever? A screening of a Newt DVD tonight in Georgia.
Amid his fundraisers quitting and report that Newt‘s sham-paign (ph) is $1 million dollars in debt, it should be noted that the DVD highlighted at tonight‘s event is not being sold to benefit his campaign. Any DVDs Newt sells in person tonight will benefit the Savannah Tea Party. Any DVDs sold online at GingrichProductions.com, order now, any proceedings there will benefit Gingrich Productions, which is a Newt Gingrich-owned for-profit company.
Right now, the Gingrich campaign for president might not be much more than the candidate, his spokesman, and a big stack of overdue bills. But as the campaign was quick to remind us today, Newt Gingrich is not giving up. At least not while Gingrich himself can still ring some money out of any left over books and DVDs to pay for the jewelry.
MADDOW: First thing you have to understand is that the pope gets free cars. The pope mostly gets free Mercedes. Here‘s an old free pope mobile Mercedes. Here‘s a tough guy free Pope mobile Mercedes.
But it‘s not always a Mercedes. Sometimes, the pope gets a free Lincoln Continental. And at one point in the 1980s, the pope got this free 24-ton truck.
The current pope mobile is a Mercedes, but you wouldn‘t know it from looking at it. It was described at Grist.org today as looking like a cross between a pickup truck and dunking booth which I think is fair enough.
A pope mobile must, after all, have many special features—bullet proof glass, built-in oxygen supply, an armor-plated undercarriage. Also, there is the pope chair which is white leather and gold trim. It is raised and lowered into place by a hydraulic lift. Sweet.
But “The Best New Thing in the World Today” is what we just learned about what is to be the new pope mobile. Pope Benedict wants to make the papacy more eco. He has said in fact he wants an electric pope mobile. But so far, none of the traditional pope mobile makers has come up with an electric car that can do all of the very heavy things the pope needs and wants while still being fast enough for any need emergency papal getaway.
What, no Tesla pope mobile? Come on, Tesla, get it together.
Still, Vatican officials have now confirmed that the pope‘s next ride will be a plug-in hybrid. And while it will undoubtedly have to end up looking like a cross between a dunking booth and something, the new pope mobile will be based on this, an S-class sedan, Mercedes sedan unveiled in 2009, top of the line S classes normally go for well over a 100 grand, they can go for up to 200 grand.
The pope‘s version is expected to cost something like 600 grand. But, of course, when it is ready being customized for him, he will get it for free, because it is good to be pope. His pending new mobile is “The Best New Thing in the World Today.”
Now, it is time for “THE ED SHOW.” Have a great night.
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