tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC December 19, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
joe cirincione. thanks so much. >> my pleasure, ed. >> that's "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. listen to me on sirius xm radio 127 monday through friday, noon to 3:00 p.m. follow me on twitter @edshow and @wegoted. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, rachel. good evening, ed, thank you. thank you at home for staying with us the next hour. two totally unrelated headlines. one about something life or death, something monumental. and one about something political and probably ethereal. both of the headlines impossible to imagine even a few months ago. here's the first one. monumental one. last convoy of american troops leaves iraq. iraq war now officially 100% over. after nearly nine years of war. started for weapons of mass destruction. that war not there. here's the other headline. ron paul takes the lead in iowa. welcome to news from the department of impossible. these two headlines coinciding
is simply that. a coincidence. but it is a striking coincidence. because ron paul, the new front-runner in iowa, is the only candidate in the republican presidential field who is not a george w. bush foreign policy inheriter. ron paul is the only one who doesn't want the iraq war, say, to go on for longer. and ron paul is officially leading the pack in the first republican nominating state as of the day that the iraq war officially ends. now, if you think that might mean that republican candidates are finally competing to put into practice their party's long popular rhetoric about living within our means and a humble foreign policy and the limited reach of government, that would not be the case. here with the previous iowa republican front-runner, newt gingrich, to disabuse us of that notion. >> one of the things you say is that if you don't like what a court has done that congress should subpoena the judge and bring him before congress and hold a congressional hearing.
some people say that's unconstitutional, but i'll let that go for a minute. i just want to ask you from a practical standpoint, how would you enforce that? would you send the capitol police down to arrest him? >> if you had to. or you'd instruct the justice department to send the u.s. marshal. >> if you like that limited government idea of divided power, co-equal branches of government, newt gingrich has a new idea we should instead be a country where one branch of government has judges arrested if that judge rules in a way the other branch doesn't like. that said, mr. checks and balances there does find himself fading in the polls now. after a full month of newtmentum and jumping into a huge national lead over mitt romney, newt gingrich has officially fallen down to earth. some of his fading numbers are now, sort of for the first time of the non-romney contenders, for the first time his falling numbers are redounding to mitt romney. mitt romney is polling at 28% in this new national poll released
by cnn. that is rarefied air for mitt romney, air he's only dreamed of breathing this year. he is on the rise. there is, of course, not a national race for the republican nomination. we don't vote nationally. we vote in order. and first we vote in iowa. and what's happened in iowa is that newt gingrich has fallen by eight points in the latest ppp survey. he has dropped eight points in iowa in the span of a week. ron paul is now leading the pack there. is that because of ron paul's isolationist foreign policy, his position on things like iraq and iran? who knows. ron paul is now the sixth front-runner in iowa this year. sixth. it can't be that they've just been waiting for an isolationist to come along. they picked in turn mitt romney, rick perry, michele bachmann, newt gingrich, herman cain and now ron paul. iowa republicans do not seem to want any one particular thing. they seem to want everything. in turn. to the extent this race is about the whole country learning what the republican party is like
right now and what republican politics is like right now, it's worth noting at this juncture it is, in fact, possible to be the front-runner in iowa if you're an isolationist. it's possible to be the front-runner in iowa without winning the murdoch primary. without getting fox news on your side. to spend a little time trolling through fox news channel news transcripts lexisnexis searching for the words ron paul shows what it means in 2011 to lose the fox news channel murdoch primary. >> i think right now anybody other than ron paul could beat obama if the election were tomorrow. >> ron paul to me is just a complete distraction. >> look, there is no foreign policy. there's no commander in chief because his notion of foreign policy is impossible. >> single handedly be responsible for the re-election of obama, you would think is the very thing that he doesn't want. >> i absolutely, positively guarantee you if ron paul is
the republican nominee -- >> he's not going to be. >> -- barack obama is the next president. >> right. he's not going to be the nominee. >> if ron paul wins here, what then? >> well, the ron paul people will not like me saying this. to a certain degree, it will discredit the iowa caucuses. >> fox news channel decidedly not on the ron paul bandwagon. for a while when mitt romney was losing the fox news channel murdoch primary, you could tell mitt romney was losing that because he just wasn't showing up on fox news anywhere. now if it's a day of the week that ends with "y" mitt romney is probably somewhere on the fox news channel. and if it's a day of the week that ends with "y" and fox news channel is talking smack about a particular republican candidate, the candidate they're likely talking smack about is ron paul. mostly what they're talking smack about is ron paul's isolationism on foreign policy. literally every other candidate, for their diversity, for each of the things they prioritize and their policy
positions and outlooks, all of them except for ron paul indicated they would like to start a war with iran, please, the sooner the better. all of them have to a greater or lesser extent criticized the fact that the iraq war is ending. the only problem with that war is it hasn't gone on long enough. ron paul stands alone on those issues. and he gets pilloried for it by the establishment republicans and by the establishment republican media. but the idea of not getting involved in another war in iran, for instance, is something that does get ron paul applause. from republican audiences, at republican debates. >> you know what i really fear about what's happening here? it's another iraq coming. it's war propaganda going on. and we're arguing -- to me the greatest danger is we will have a president that will overreact. nuclear weapons are loaded over there. pakistan, india, israel has 300 of them. we have our ships there. we got to get it in a proper context. we don't need another war. >> understood. you make that point quite a lot. >> you make that point quite a lot. now please stop making it.
it is likely that whoever wins iowa, it really will not matter all that much. i mean, it could be ron paul, could be michele bachmann. could be anyone other than rick santorum really. it could be mike huckabee, right? it was mike huckabee in 2008. the uncomfortable truth about the carpet bombing coverage of the iowa republican caucuses is that iowa, itself, doesn't much matter when it comes to the process of picking the republican nominee for president anymore. it is not predictive of what republicans in the rest of the country are going to do when it's their turn to vote. winning iowa mostly means you're popular in iowa. good for you. the persistent popularity of ron paul both in iowa and elsewhere, his sustained fund raising, his sustained support, sustained ability to turn out big crowds, his appeal across the country, his cross demographic appeal. he can get people without gray hair to turn out to republican candidate events. no offense to people with gray hair. i have some myself. what is most interesting about ron paul is not just his
isolationism. there's always been a strain of that in republican politics. pat buchanan ran as an isolationist among other things when we ran back in the '90s. what's most interesting about ron paul is the extent to which his domestic stuff, his social issue libertarianism, his position on things like not just the war in iraq but the war on drugs, calls out a really uncomfortable truth in modern republican politics which is republicans want their brand to be small, hands-off government. but the policies they support are more like big intrusive government. things like forced mandatory drug testing by the government. and federal regulation of every marriage in every state in the country. and rounding up and arresting federal judges i guess now. and the government putting people in jail for smoking marijuana. ron paul is for the decriminalization of drugs, which is a coherent position for a small government conservative. personal responsibility. liberty. that's what republicans say they are for. but to be ron paul in this instance, in this year, in this
set of politics, to be ron paul in this republican party, means that in this next clip from this weekend, you are not with republican congressman paul ryan or conservative columnist george will. in this next clip, you small government conservative, you are with barney frank. >> can i get an answer on marijuana, george? are you with me? i mean, personal liberty. if someone wants to smoke marijuana who's an adult, why do you want to make them go to jail? >> with regard to marijuana, i need to know more about whether it's a gateway drug to other drugs. i need to know how you're going to regulate it. whether you're going to advertise it. >> it's been around for a long time. gateway, anything is a gateway to anything. let's put it this way. that's the slippery slope argument which is a very anti-libertarian argument. the fact that if somebody's doing something that's not in and of itself wrong, but it might lead later on to something else, then stop the something else. don't lock them up for smoking marijuana. >> what you're calling a copout, i'm calling a quest for information. >> how long is it going to last?
we've been doing this for decades. >> i understand liberalism is a version of information because it often doesn't go in their direction. >> i've been studying this for a long time. you're on medicare. how much longer are we going to have to wait for you to make up your mind? >> i wanted to get back to the issue of social mobility. i think it is the basic -- >> good. let's get off marijuana and on to this. >> it's a great embarrassment to the conservatives -- big government. who can i have sex with? who can i marry? what can i read? what can i smoke? you guys, not on the whole, not argue, but it's the conservatives who want to intrude on personal liberty there. >> all right. christiane? >> taking that into account -- >> please stop talking about the issues. who knew. maybe we'll see a barney frank/ron paul wing of the republican party emerge. i wonder how that would do in south carolina. joining us now, dave weigel, political reporter for slate.com and an msnbc contributor.
dave, thanks for being here. nice to have you here. >> thanks. good to see you. >> you have followed ron paul and his relationship with the republican party for a long time before these primaries. >> since the beginning of 2007, really. >> yeah. some of your -- part of the reason i started paying a lot of attention to you as a reporter because i thought you were trenchant and insight sightful and not dismissive of ron paul in a way that really resonated with me. is he more acceptable to the republican establishment than he used to be? or in the same relationship with them that he's always been in? >> he talked in 2007 about building up the republican party, adding more people to it. i think he actually succeeded in part bringing people who might have been up for grabs. i talked to ron paul voters in 2007 who liked barack obama and liked ron paul. i was one of those voters. once they were disappointed by what barack obama did in office, they've remained in his camp. if you talk to young people at rallies, you'll hear a lot -- the first things they'll list off, the reasons they go for him, are the social issues. then they'll list the economic crisis issues. they come over to his side the
way they could have easily been convinced. you're at that age where you're receptive to ideas like that. he's added those people to the party. i think also because the economy collapsed in 2008, because he'd been predicting it for so long, doesn't really matter if he was wrong in previous instances, you know. the preachers who predict the rapture are ever right, are we going to forget they got it wrong 20 times? that happened to him. people in the republican party disagree with him on a lot of issues became more sympathetic to him. the coalition in iowa is partly the new voters and partly old-line conservatives who would have listened to him before, but he was right about something. >> it's a little bit, i feel, under-appreciated in terms of the iowa dynamic. he's been running a really, really strong antiabortion campaign in iowa. he's essentially campaigning as ron paul obstetrician in iowa when you look at his ads. >> 4,000 babies. >> do you think that's driving his more traditional support? how does that interact with the
support that he's driven from younger voters and the people who are motivated in the way you were just describing? >> they look past it. when voters fall for a candidate, they look past a lot of things. herman cain supporters until the very end looked past a lot of things about herman cain. the people who are very social libertarian mostly have forgiven him. when will they get a chance like this again to vote for a guy who promises to end the fed, et cetera? in iowa, definitely, the way he put the current coalition together is him being very heavily on the life issue. sensitive ad where he talks to the camera for a minute seeing a baby thrown into a trash can or fetus thrown into the trash can. he's gotten away with that, because no one wants to attack him. some of the iowa social kingmakers like bob vander plaats point out, he says these things, believes these things but as a federalist who doesn't want to impose this on every single state, as somebody, looks at gays in the military, says it's not any of my concern.
we can't trust him to actually do this stuff. we don't want somebody who just believes it but will enforce it. >> through big government which he doesn't believe in. >> he's gotten away with it so far, but this is two weeks before the caucus. people taking him seriously. we'll see if that lasts. >> do you think the combination of that two-pronged appeal you're describing and what's needed to win in iowa, which everybody says is organization, organization, organization. does he have that other side of it? do you think that he actually could end up winning? >> the organizational side, he's always had that. he was only about 100 votes short of michele bachmann in the ames straw poll. >> that's right. yeah. >> actually they talked about this since then. no one wanted to interview ron paul after he came in second to michele bachmann. he got 10,000 votes round about in the caucus in 2008. he got nearly 5,000 votes in that straw poll. typically you do about at least six or seven times better. he actually has the numbers to put this together. that's why i think that is important. the factor that mitt romney would not mind if this is the guy who ends up being the next anti-romney.
it's very cynical. that can help him. he's got an organization the republican party did not see coming. i think you put it well in the first segment. >> romney is not going to spend $3 million destroying him the way he has with gingrich. >> in "the best man," sometimes you like to have somebody else take care of the mess and you can move in later. >> dave weigel from slate.com and msnbc contributor. somebody who i read every day but do not talk to frequently enough. thanks, dave. good to see you. congressman barney frank, who you saw a moment ago, making good sunday morning laughs on abc, will be joining us next.
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we should have known very early on in the tenure of the republican majority in the house of representatives that the leader of the republicans in the house, speaker john boehner, was having a tough time with his job. here in the beltway broadcasting from d.c. tonight, here in the beltway, the common wisdom is the reason john boehner is having such a tough time is of all those tea party republican congressmen that he's got. they're just wacky and rebellious and nobody can tame them. they're like wild legislative animals. sorry about the common wisdom. since people have started looking at the voting records and concluding that tea party republicans vote with the rest of their party nearly all of the time, i don't believe that explains what's going on with john boehner. i think john boehner's record explains what's going on with john boehner. on day one, the first day republicans were in charge of the house, they flailed their way through a reading of the constitution, skipping some
sections by accident, because the pages got stuck together in the three-ring binder they were reading from. leaving out some sections on purpose because they just didn't want to read them. also day one, two republicans who managed to miss the swearing in ceremony on the house floor tried instead to take their oath from a television that was broadcasting the ceremony. and then they tried to start voting on stuff as if they had actually been sworn in by the television. that had to be undone. the brand new republican majority also passed a bunch of new rules about transparency and accountability and citing the constitutional authority for every single bill they introduced and almost immediately they started violating those new rules. their own rules. the john boehner-led house republicans also promised to cut spending for every bill that adds to deficit. they broke that promise by exempting their own legislation from the new rule. there's their jobs, jobs, jobs problem. john boehner's republican majority keeps talking about jobs. what they've been working on is stuff like rolling back abortion rights and defunding planned
parenthood and defunding npr. there were competing state of the union responses from republicans. the official response from paul ryan and randomly the tea party response that cnn aired live from michele bachmann. don't forget the legislative losses. the john boehner-led house republican leadership has repeatedly brought up bills for a vote only to have them fail because they don't have enough republican support which is the kind of thing you're supposed to know in advance. remember when house republicans promised to cut $100 billion from the budget? yeah, me neither. nearly a year into his tenure as speaker of the house, yet again, republicans thought they had a deal. they did, in fact, have a deal on extending the payroll tax cut. here's the top senate republican, mitch mcconnell, high fiving over that deal with another senator on friday. woo, we did it, got a deal, yeah, give me five. oh. on a saturday conference call, mr. boehner, himself, reportedly called it a good deal and a victory for republicans. but now it is up to john
boehner's caucus to actually vote on it and all signs point to a new vote. house republicans under the leadership of john boehner are poised tomorrow to vote against the deal their own party brokered and high fived over and pitched as a victory. >> we outright reject the attempt by the senate to kick the can down for 60 days. >> and that's why there is now a real threat that everybody in america who earns a paycheck is about to get a big tax hike starting in january. when the tax break everybody's getting right now is set to expire. it's because the republican leadership in congress thought they had a deal to extend it, but it turns out john boehner couldn't keep the deal together. it's the same reason extended unemployment benefits might expire. republicans thought they had a deal to get that done. john boehner does not seem to be able to pull it off in the house. blame this on a crazy tea party revolt. without evidence that people identified with the tea party are voting any differently than the rest of the republicans in the house, there's a simpler
explanation for why republicans cannot pass things that they come up with. their own ideas, their own deals. there's a simpler explanation for why republicans can't get anything done. it is, as yet, only a hypothesis, but there's a growing body of support for it. it could just be that john boehner is bad at this job. joining us now with the latest is congressman barney frank. democrat of massachusetts. joins us from the hill. congressman frank, thank you for being here. >> thank you, rachel. >> from the outside it looks like the republicans after a very long meeting tonight are still going to vote against extending the payroll tax cut. is that what you understand is about to happen? >> well, it's even worse. by the way, i agree with you, this is probably a measure of john boehner's incompetence. but increasingly, i think, you know, if you look at the republican position, there are a lot of inconsistencies. they are for any possible tax cut except the one we're talking about right now when it's so critical for the economy. they're for tax cuts for the wealthiest people in america, not offset, but when you do a
payroll tax on a somewhat regressive tax that hits working people more, then they take a different position. on the one hand, the republicans, in fact, exaggerate the degree of difficulty in the economy. and they say, look, there are no jobs. then they blame people who don't have jobs as if they're not looking and want to deny them unemployment. there's one common theme. the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, was having a good time. the current republican ideology is that what they fear, that the mean economy might be recovering. we're doing better than europe. things are starting to come back. these are people who are so dedicated to the defeat of barack obama that they are clearly prepared to sabotage things that every economist says are in the national economic interest right now because they do not want to see obama go forward. now, boehner's incompetence, his inability to figure things out is a part of it. the other thing i would say agree with you, it's not true to
say it's only the tea party republicans. because the republican membership in the house is divided pretty much in two. half of them are people who agree with michele bachmann. but the other half are people who are afraid of losing a primary to someone who agrees with michele bachmann. so you have the only thing that unites them, the only thing they can get together on is trying to sabotage barack obama. and if that means blocking economic activity that almost every economist including the very conservative ones thinks would be helpful, that's what they'll do it. >> in terms of the coherence here, to describe it as sabotage, would mean that this is a plan. that they are deliberately trying to ensure that nothing passes, particularly if something passing would help the economy. that would imply that they are actually sort of coherently organized enough to at least make sure nothing gets done. >> that's a fair point. that overstates their coherence. i would say this. they certainly are happy if the consequence of all this is that nothing happens. that is, i agree. they didn't set out and plan this like a chess match.
but at some point it occurs to them that deadlock is in their interest, that chaos is their friend because it means undermining what, you know -- look, six months ago there was talk about a second recession. that's clearly not a problem here in america. we have a european situation that holds us back a little. we're moving away. the other interesting point i want to make is this. you said they planned to vote against it. there are enough republicans, a handful maybe, who are worried about political survival, if they do vote to let taxes go up and if they vote to cut unemployment. so boehner, as of now, we are told -- i just left the democratic whip's office. they're not going to allow this to come up for a vote. you correctly talked about their views about transparency and openness. the republican leadership is apparently afraid that if the senate-passed bill came up with all the democrats being supportive, enough republicans would vote for it so it would pass. so what do these people committed to majority rule and transparency and democracy do?
they have announced they're going to use their control over the procedures not to allow it to come to a vote. because they are afraid that there might be out of the 245 republicans, 35 or 40 who out of sense of survival will vote with us. >> in terms of that sense of survival, if this doesn't pass and if the payroll tax cut expires at the end of the year and people start seeing their paychecks shrink in january, does your political sense tell you that people will blame washington in a generic sense? and democrats in the white house and republicans will all get hurt equally in the court of public opinion? do you think people will discern this is something republicans weren't able to bring themselves to do? >> i'm hoping, obviously, it's the latter because that's accurate. as you pointed out. this is a deal that mitch mcconnell made with harry reid. it is clear given where we are in the senate, the only way to get this through -- i'd love it to be an indefinite extension. the only way to get it through is to do this. there may be some of this, oh, it is all their fault. i will say that troubles me when people said, well, why can't you work it out?
i can't work out constructive measures with people who are dedicated to kind of tearing things down. the thing that worries me more, though, is not just who gets blamed for this. this will be very bad for the economy. the economy is doing better. it's not nearly as good as it should be. but if you look at various indicators, there is reason to think that next year we will have significant growth, much better than our people in europe. and if europe doesn't collapse, we could get significant growth. this will undermine that. and the tragedy is that the republicans are gambling, maybe successfully, that they can cause damage to the economy and then benefit from it politically because the president will always get a blame when the economy's not doing well. >> congressman barney frank, democrat of massachusetts. there on the hill working late tonight. and joining us. thanks for your time tonight, sir. i appreciate it. >> thank you, rachel. appreciate it. i have an imaginary tinfoil hat that you have to imagine me putting on. although when i'm on this set with these pretty poinsettias, i don't feel like i can put it on. i'd ruin the look.
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presidential nomination. tonight, none other than sarah palin said during an appearance on the fox business network that, "it's not too late for folks to jump in. who knows what will happen in the future?" indeed, who knows. one thing we do know that if governor palin wants to run as a republican, it sort of is too late. she has missed the filing deadlines for all the early primaries. she can't even adopt the rudy giuliani memorial wait until florida strategy. may it rest in peace. because florida's ballot deadline was this past october 31st. on halloween. so if sarah palin wants in, she'll have to run as a third party candidate. she cannot be the republican nominee for president. i have another prediction. really more of a theory that somebody else might give it a go. former half term governor of alaska is not your last hope, dissatisfied republican voter. there may be another one. that's coming up. want to make a healthy choice for your hair?
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♪ sen♪ co-signed her credit card - "buy books, not beer!" ♪ ♪ut the second at she shut the door ♪ ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for the whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪ ♪ to free-credit-score-dot-com hard times for daddy and mom. ♪ v.o.: offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com every half full glass of water is also half empty. there is a cloud for every silver lining. no matter how naturally sunny your disposition, if you look hard enough, there really is a down side to everything in life. even something like the death of
kim jong-il. it turns out. has a down side. there are few, if any, deaths worth celebrating in the world, but this year has been a banner year for those that come close. may 1st the death of osama bin laden in afghanistan. october 20th, the death of moammar gadhafi in libya. last night, word from north korea of the death of the dear leader. supposedly died of a heart attack while on a train. kim jong-il's statements from media are often made up. read into that what you will. it's hard not to see the sunny side of the death of an autocrat who kept his citizens on the brink of starvation and worse. in this case, the down side of kim jong-il dying is the american government was on the brink of announcing a historic agreement with north korea, an agreement to give them hundreds of thousands of tons of food. essentially in exchange for north korea putting their nuclear program on ice. it was 2006 when north korea joined the nuclear club. a club that threatens to become less and less exclusive all the time.
north korea detonated in 2006 a rather feeble but nevertheless nuclear explosion. what was reportedly in the works for this deal, this current deal, was north korea would hit the pause button on enriching uranium for the nuclear weapons program in exchange for us giving them food for their people. back in the 1990s a similar deal was in the works. north korea would push the nuclear pause button in exchange for getting some help with electricity. that deal fell through for different reasons. this is what north korea looks like at night from space these days. the diagonal strip of bright lights that looks like a sea horse there on the right side of your screen is japan. across from the southern part of japan is south korea. above that, the part we outlined there, the dark empty space, that's not empty, it's not the ocean. it's not wilderness. that's north korea after the sun sets and the lights do not go on. when you look down from space, this nation of 25 million people looks like it could be a thousand years ago. in may, amnesty international published their own satellite
images of north korea's prison camps where it's believed people are not just sent for punishment not just sent to work, they're sent to work until they die inc. north korea's extensive prison system isn't new. it's been around for decades. for the past ten years we have been able to get aerial data from at least six north korean prisons. see them here in satellite images from 2001. in one of the camps there are an estimated 50,000 people. prisoners in many cases worked to death. escaped prisoners telling amnesty international 40% of prisoners were dying of malnutrition, alone. amnesty international found this year when they looked at new satellite pictures is the gulags were growing, they were getting bigger. >> we understand that there are at least six political prisoner camps, and these are vast areas. these are huge areas and that there's, we think, a total population of around 200,000 people.
>> here we see the main layout for the entire yodok prison facility. these areas you see at the very beginning are administration buildings and there are also barracks for the guards where they live. particularly we've seen the growth in this first area that you're entering the camp in, but there's also been some growth in other areas. the camp spreads up along two river valleys, and so there has been growth in roads going in both of those directions. >> it is thought that the camps spread up along valleys and rivers, the way you heard described there because kim jong-il and the north korean government have been trying to hide them. that strategy might work for eyes at ground levels. these days you need to not only hide from eyes at ground level but need to hide from satellite eyes in the upper atmosphere. hiding atrocities on a mass scale is technologically more difficult than it used to be. being held accountable for them is still tough. now that kim jong-il is dead,
maybe that is an opportunity for change in north korea. maybe. maybe it's a chance to pry open that society to some semblance of international normalcy. after decades of personality communist autocracy. and maybe even if that's true, this has just become a very dangerous time for the 25 million people who live in north korea who have had stolen from them the opportunity to even fend for themselves. of people who need food. and whose fate including on this big u.s. food deal right now, has just been delivered to the ministrations of kim jong-il's young son. joining us now is staff rogin. staff writer for "foreign policy" policy and author of the blog "the cable." thanks for being here. >> great to be here. >> was it a very bad sign the first thing we heard out of north korea after king jong ill is dead, oh, by the way, here's our next missile test? >> there's two ways to look at it. nobody knows what's in the mind of the north korean leadership as they do these things. i've heard from administration sources today the missile tests were already planned and the obama administration is trying
to play this as, oh, look, this is something they always do and the left hand might not know what the right hand is doing. on the other hand, that's the biggest problem you mentioned. nobody knows who really has their hand on the button in north korea. the new leader, kim jong-un is 27, 28, 29, depending who you ask. he may or may not be controlled by kim jong-il's brother-in-law or sister. nobody knows if he has control over the military or if the military has control over him. what's happening with the loose nukes. whether he's able to consolidate his power. how long that's going to take. then what's going to happen next? will his policies be different? there are so many unanswered questions. it really boggles the mind. >> when you worry about loose nukes and also nuclear weapons and them being used as nuclear weapons. in pakistan, even with all the instability in pakistan, there is this assurance that there's a military and intelligence establishment that for whatever your beef is with them in other ways, they actually do have the nuclear thing sort of under control. at least that's the argument that is made. can you make any sort of
argument like that in north korea? >> there's more transparency in pakistan. not to say there's a lot of transparency in pakistan. nobody's seen these nukes. we've seen explosions that we assume are nukes. we seem to think they are nukes. we don't know how many they have or where they are or who has control over them. remember here, kim jong-il's single biggest project was to acquire the bomb. he believed the survival of his regime was dependent on north korea being a nuclear nation so nobody, including the united states, could challenge that rule. he achieved that. no matter what we give them in food or money or whatever, they're not ever likely to give up the bombs they have. they might slow down the pace of the bombs. they might try to tell us they're not going to build anymore. let's realize that north korea is going to be a nuclear nation as far as the eye can see and deal with them based on those terms. who has control over the nukes is a huge, unanswered question. >> you hear numbers as high as 6 million people in starvation conditions in any one time in north korea. out of a nation of 25 million. we're not talking poverty. we're talking starvation level. this food deal, i realize the
administration's perspective on this is there's never a direct trade. we're never giving them food in order to get a concession on nuclear issues. but both of those things are supposedly on the table at once. make of that what you will. do you have any reason to believe either side of that might still happen with kim jong-il dead? either the nuclear concessions or getting them the food? >> isn't this a crazy situation? they were going to announce the food deal today. they were working on it for months. u.s. officials, food officials and the nuclear officials, just happened to be in beijing last week at the exact same time even though the obama administration said there's no link. it's just a coincidence. they were about to roll out this huge, ambitious controversial project in the face of a lot of republican opposition, by the way. that's all on hold for the indefinite future. what does this mean? doesn't mean the north koreans are going to starve more, it means they're going to be more dependent on china. the one country that gives north korea enough food to keep the people above the starvation line is china. the ball is in china's court. they have all of the leverage.
not clear how much leverage that is. will they use it? what is their stake here, what is their agenda? these are also unanswered questioned. the focus shifts away from the u.s./korea bilateral leadership which is where we were until yesterday, to the u.s./china relationship, the south korea/china relationship and the u.s./south korea relationship. that's where the action is now and going to take weeks to play out if not months. >> do you have any hope this is a crack, kim jong-il dying is a crack in the autocracy, that it could be destabling enough that north korea's trajectory radically changes? >> i'm an optimistic guy. i always have a little bit of hope. the indications point the other way. a 27-year-old, 28-year-old leader who has no constituency. kim jong-il was trained for 20 years before he took over. there was this entire cult of personality built around him. he was rumored to have scored 11 holes in one in his first round of golf. this was to convince the north korean people he was a supreme figure. his son doesn't have any of that
going for him. he's a much weaker position, only been prepared for a couple of years. he's much more dependent on the organs of power inside north korea. we're talking about the generals, his family members, the rich families. there are some very rich families. so they will control the agenda as much as he will. that's a big problem. that points more toward the status quo rather than some radical change. >> i used that hole in one thing to get the gig at msnbc so i need a new one. i'm going to watch closely on the succession there. josh, thank you, man. nice to see you here. thank you. josh rogin is a staff writer for "foreign policy" magazine and author of the blog "the cable" which you should bookmark. okay. it's tinfoil hat time. follow me down the election conspiracy rabbit hole starring the bush family. that's coming up next. challenge that. new olay smooth finish facial hair removal duo. first a gentle balm. then the removal cream. effective together with less irritation and as gentle as a feather. new olay hair removal duo. lord of the carry-on.
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i'm just going to ask it. why does jeb bush have an op-ped in "the wall street journal" today? and it's a really campaigning op-ped, too. it's all as florida's governor for eight years and we can return to the road we once knew and congressman paul ryan. that's a sure sign that a republican politician is feeling ambitious these days. when they write a public love letter to paul ryan. the congressman with the kill medicare plan. mitt romney is running ads now that make it look like it's actually paul ryan who is the candidate. but mitt romney is running for
president officially. what's jeb bush doing today with his public mash note to paul ryan and "wall street journal" vote for me op-ped? jeb bush isn't running for anything, is he? is he? a lot of what's happening in 2012 politics right now is exciting but not out of the blue. newt gingrich's bubble is bursting on schedule. down eight points in iowa today. his lead over mitt romney in the national polls is starting to go poof. the next microbubble is ron paul. in a couple polls out today ron paul is ahead. mitt romney is still mr. mired? 20 some percent. mr. romney's poll numbers ought to be the new google image for flat. in the midst of the explicable, predictable 2012 news, here is something that doesn't have an explanation. someone is asking voters in new hampshire for their opinion about jeb bush. last week we brought you this story from our guest earlier
this evening, dave weigel at slate.com. someone is robo polling new hampshire about obama versus mitt romney, obama versus newt gingrich and obama versus jeb bush who supposedly is not running for anything. nobody knows who is putting out these calls. karl rove says jeb bush told him he's not doing the robo polling. so at face value that rules out two possibilities. karl rove or jeb bush. this kind of thing doesn't just happen. it costs money. you don't do this accidentally. who would spend money asking new hampshire voters this question about jeb bush for 2012? and why? to what end? polling on jeb bush would do no good in the new hampshire republican primary. the deadline for filing as a candidate to get your name on the ballot was back in october. there's no way he could get on the republican primary ballot if he tried. what's the only other way new hampshire voters might get a chance to vote on jeb bush for 2012 if not through the republican primary? pretty sure he wouldn't be running in the democratic primary, mom wouldn't allow it, i'm sure. how else might jeb bush get on the ballot? >> that brings us to the less
misti mysterious and conspiratorial part of my jeb bush 2012 conspiracy theory. that question brings us to the other utterly inexplicable, as yet unexplained 2012 politics story of this month. a group called americans elect is on the path to getting a line on the ballot in all 50 states giving voters a third party choice for president. they're on the ballot in 12 states already. they picked up california just today. they're working on the other 38 states. observers say there's no reason to think they will not make it to all 50. there will be an americans elect line item on the presidential ballot in all likelihood in every state next november. who will be the candidate listed on that line? the group says they will pick their candidate not through primaries but starting this spring through online voting and a virtual convention. by june they will have a candidate who can go on the ballot for real in all 50 states. say, for example, the republican establishment is worried a newt gingrich or fox forbid even a
ron paul might successfully challenge mitt romney for the nomination. what's their safety valve if they're worried about that? may i present a figments of my tortured imagination. the new hampshire ballot in 2012 starring democrat barack obama, republican newt gingrich and americans elect party candidate jeb bush. we asked americans elect today if they were doing the polls in new hampshire and they said no, absolutely not. jeb bush's spokesperson told us they disavowed the polls pr the start and also, "nothing's change. mr. bush has said he will not be a candidate. he will not be a candidate next year." this one's impossible, right? probably. but it has had me tossing and turning and up all night anyway. who's funding those calls in new hampshire? and why?
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best new thing in the world today. it is and i do not mean this critically, i mean it sincerely. it is texas governor rick perry's newly enunciated fondness for facial hair. other people's facial hair. you may remember this from a couple weeks back. >> with that i think we'll open it up with q & a from the audience. yes, sir with the beautiful beard. you get to go first. >> yes, sir, with the beautiful beard. that was three weeks ago in new hampshire. kind of weird about the beard, right? not bad, just a one off, right? wrong. not a one off. here's what happened when the governor made the rounds with the saturday morning breakfast crowd in iowa this weekend. according to the abc news embed following governor perry, he stopped when he set his eyes on one voter with a long, white beard. we got you a lot going on there, perry told him as he tugged at the man's beard. you got a good full one. this is what that exchange
looked like. see. there's the man with the long white beard. although you cannot see perry's tug and the audio is not very good, when our producer cranked up the sound as loud as she could while wearing a headphone, she could make out governor perry saying, we got you a lot going on there. that was his first stop of the day. at his second event he zeroed in on someone else. per re said perry said as he greeted one, expressed a touch of jealousy. he can't grow one. i like your beard. i'd like one but i've got too many. this is kind of zz toppish the man said about his own beard. they're from texas. at the mention of zz top he shared a personal moment he had with the band. one of the fun things i got to do in life was play drums with zz top one evening he said. zz tops. best beards of all. governor perry not only gets the reference but he did play with them at a bush inaugural event in 2005. rick perry loves beards. once is amazin t