tv Capital News Today CSPAN November 26, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST
it is an extraordinary generation the last step -- generation. you can never not be involved in politics. politics is about organizing other people to do some good in the world. this country is only going to be really strong not for me elect great leaders, it will be really strong when we take personal responsibility in our lives to live the way the we know we ought to live. when we do not expect ourselves to let somebody else to do that for us. we have to live the way the we ought to live. . .
we all have the responsibility. we have responsibility to reach out to people. i talked to people all the time that want to run for office. do you know what i tell them? talk about stuff that they really care about. everybody cares about schools. do something about schools with people. when they vote, they care more about your than what party belong to. personal responsibility. the only way you're going to get leaders to do the right thing is if they feel they can. and the only way they can feel that they can do the right thing is if you do the right thing in your personal life.
change comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. [applause] >> thank you, governor. dick armey. >> all human organization, family, community, state, nation is a division of labor. a division of the authorities. a division of responsibilities. all political economies are divisions of labor and responsibilities. there are two basic types, state driven and private enterprise. private enterprise transactions are always productive because you always have intelligent people making voluntary transactions with one another. nobody makes a voluntary transaction unless they believe themselves to be paid.
almost without exception, voluntary transactions improve general well-being. free enterprise, private enterprise is intellectually and morally superior. governments on the other hand are necessary. and for the most part, good. governments fundamentally exist to get people to do things that they will not voluntarily. and therefore, they are morally and intellectually inferior to private transactions. it is always the question of what is the best blend. what is enough? soviet union tried state administration and found themselves to be very efficient, and productive, and very -- very inefficient, unproductive, and very unhappy. we found ourselves successful because we had a government that understood that it must protect
contracts. it must protect private property. it must enforce lawfulness and respect for one another in the neighborhood. it must provide for the common defense. it must provide for certain capital. and governments that have these disciplines and do these things must, of course, levy taxes. it should have the decency to do so admissible, correct, and honest manner. -- in a simple, correct, and honest manner. the observation i give you is that division of labor works when people lie to their own business. that is a problem for governments because they exist for the purpose of minding other people's business. you are disciplined in your private transactions in that you will go out of business unless you make your customer happy. governments have the power to
compel you, whether you like it or not. where is the discipline? informed, intelligent, and responsible people that have the privilege to hold office will do their duty in restrain themselves to do more than their duty. capitalism has worked well in america, and we should be thankful. it has only worked well because we have the government guided by a constitution that proscribes legitimate, necessary limits. in so far as government obeys those limits, capitalism will survive. and we will prosper. i find america to be a nation by a large among nations in the world not much in need of prayer. we are prosperous, we're happy, we're living, we are gentle, we are kind. we have risked our own peace to
defend the freedoms of others. we are a good mission. here is my prayer for america. i pray that america should have a government that is smart enough to know the goodness of its people, in a decent enough to respected. in respect it by restraining itself. [applause] >> think you, mr. majority leader. >> i did not realize i would disagree with dick on the subject of whether american needs prayer. i think this is a moment where america desperately needs prayer. this country is in a real crisis, and we have people suffering like they have not been suffering since the great depression.
and for us to pretend that we're not noticing or to close what is happening is not as potentially troubling, but one of the main ways that we can allow democracy to actually deteriorate. including among the young people that governor dean mentioned. it is especially young people that are suffering that can't get a job or go to college. you can't ignore what that means. and you cannot ignore the sense in this country that this is not a level playing field. that the game is rigged. the fix is in. if your goldman sachs, -- if you are goldman sachs, you will have tarp money and a guarantee that no matter what you do, you're never going to be allowed to fail.
if you are just an ordinary american who loses their job and lose their health care and loses their home, right now you don't even have a and employment insurance extended because congress has not done that through. that is not a country in which capitalism will survive. in and all of us, right or left, need to recognize that we had the system working. ever since fdr passed the act and made sure that there were regulations imposed on banks. we are all a mixture of good and evil. of course there is goodness in all of us. but if we were all good, we would not need government. we need checks and balances because we are a mixture. it is a bipartisan problem.
we abolished -- larry summers was the architect of the abolition. he is in charge of economic policy. how convenient. we have allowed banks to produce contracts that nobody can understand, even if they have a law degree. as a result, ordinary americans have 30% interest rates. why is that fair? why are we allowing in the opportunity cost, which is the most important thing i learned my economics course. every time we decide to do something, we are forgoing doing something else. we gave aig $180 billion of taxpayer money. and we had to cut $166 billion from state budgets, a tremendous cost and gaine of suffering.
is that the capitalist system we want to survive? i would say no. i would say that the capitalist system is ultimately found that on judeo-christian ethics, which means that whatever happens and whatever we do in our economy and our democracy has to be for the greater good. right now what is happening is legalized gambling sponsored by the government. this is not capitalism. and this is not what this country was founded on. this is not what we need to do if we're going to become a more perfect union. [applause] >> how about a big hand for our panel.
they did a great job. congressman, is good to see you. if you could do me a favor and leave before everybody else, i don't 20 telling anybody the truth about what i really did in washington. howard, why did you laugh so hard at that? do you know something i don't? it is great to be here. my grandma would be very proud. this is great being able to have people that disagree with each other. we have forgotten how to do that in america. i want to leave you with a charge, if that is okay. i have been all across america, talking to republicans and democrats alike. most people are getting tired of the screaming. they're getting tired of feeling. regardless of whether they're
democrats or republicans. i still don't know how you could root against the president and the president fails. not without routing against america. -- rooting against america. my family raised me -- [applause] my family raised me not to root against the president. my grandmother taught me to pray for president. i saw my grandmother in the greatest challenge of this prerogative praying for jimmy carter. if you can pray for jimmy carter -- [laughter] i won't finish the sentence. howard talk about ronald reagan and tip o'neill. i reminded of the great jimmy breslin story, a tough writer.
after tip got out of office, working all the way back to truman, he asked tip, who was your favorite president to work with? he said, that is easy. it was ronnie reagan. he would call me up after we were kicking each other and punching each other all day, and he would call me down to the white house. and there, the two irish politicians would do what irish politicians do. drink whiskey, tells stories, and lie. [laughter] and you know, because of that, it never got personal. they were able to do what nobody thought they could do.
they tackle social security. it was rough for both of them. but they did it because they did n't hate. when i was in congress, i would walk people through and give them a twour. i told the story a thousand times. i always had to stop from tearing up when i told it. in the rotunda, what happened on that remarkable day in 1776. thomas jefferson, standing next to john adams, the legend is that jefferson hated atoms so much that he painted -- he paid the painter to put his foot over john adams ft. they hated each other, despise each other. as they moved toward retirement, jefferson and adams
tried to figure out how could to people that love this country so much hate each other so much? misunderstand each other so much? so what did they start doing? they started writing letters. they began understanding each other. as they moved towards death, they begin respecting and loving each other. the night before the fiftieth anniversary of that magnificent event that is captured so brilliantly in that painting, the signing of the declaration of independence -- 50 years to the day, the night before on july 3, both men were lying in their beds about to die. jefferson called his doctor in at 10:00 and said, is it the fourth yet? he said, no mr. president, it is not the fourth.
he woke up at 11:00 and asked again. the same thing happened. at about 2:00, the doctor said yes. thomas jefferson closed his eyes and he died. the next morning, up in massachusetts, john adams also on his deathbed called his family around him and called the doctors in. he said goodbye to them all. his last words -- at least jefferson lives. we need to make sure -- and our children need to make sure how politicians in washington make sure that the spirit of jefferson and adams lives again in this country. it is our only hope. we have so many challenges facing us.
i got to tell you, whether i was in miami fla., southern alabama, or in connecticut. everybody is the same. they love this country. they love their children. instead of rooting against the president or cheering against the president whose domestic policy drives me crazy. i think it is bad for america economically. but i challenge you before we leave to take this with you. pray for the president. pray for his safety. pray for his children. pray for his wife. and pray for his country. thank you for having us here. [applause] >> thanks a lot. i appreciate it. [applause]
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> here is a look at our schedule. next, an interview with david axe that just returned from afghanistan. after that at midnight, the first of three nights of c-span original documentaries on the icon echoes of the branches of american government. -- iconic homes of the branches of american government. in strategists assess the obama presidency after his first year in office. on tuesday night, president obama will address the nation on the future of afghanistan and what he wants to do with a number of u.s. troops in that country.
he will speak at 8:00 eastern from west point military academy. we sat down with david axe. here is what he had to say. >> free-lance journalist david axe was recently embedded with u.s. troops in afghanistan. in this 40 minute interview, we talk about his experience with the u.s. army and air force. this was the second trip to afghanistan. >> on this second trip, what do you expect -- what did you expect? how long had it been since you went to prior? >> my first trip was to south afghanistan near two years ago. on this trip, i wanted to go back to the south and see if i could detect progress or see if things had gotten worse. and also to explore new areas that i hadn't visited before.
in 2007, i spent most of my time in couple -- kabul. i headed to one of the agricultural districts to the south to see a different facet. it is not as efficient as the u.s. transportation system, but it is still a typical commercial flight. >> how concerned are you -- october was the deadliest month for service members? how concerned are you for your personal safety, and what measures duty to protect yourself? >> you are required to wear much of the same protective gear that the u.s. troops do. a helmet and a vest with armor plates in it. you write in the same army vehicles. >> do they provide you with that year? >> no, you don't.
you get it online. basically, law enforcement here. you have the same protective measures that u.s. troops do. it is sophisticated stuff. i don't worry much about my own safety. the logistics of the trip are far dicier than the physical danger. it is tough moving around afghanistan. it doesn't seem to get easier over time. the infrastructure is very poor, and the country is rugged. you often have to contend with afghan bureaucracy. corruption becomes an issue. i had to get a week-long v-6 engine just to get out of the country. it had been told that it would not be -- week-long visa extension to get out of teh coutnry. -- teh country. -- the country.
>> how did you hook up with the unit'? >> i started out with the air force outside of kabul. the first step was to get a press badge from the nato headquarters in kabul. i coau -- caught a taxi and was met by military personnel. i was handed to the air force for a week. they handed me off to the army for a couple of weeks at that point. the army handed me off again to the air force in kandahar. they flew me back t kabul -- to kabul for my flight. >> how big is it, how many units
are there? >> is big. a lot of the soviet infrastructure is still there. it is the biggest military facility in afghanistan by some measures. population lies, tens of thousands. i am not sure of the exact number. it is the main logistics' up, so is a lot of aircraft flying in, unloading things, reloading things, flying out. it is sort of a buzz of activity, like a gigantic fedex facility. >> also nato troops stationed there as well? >> whether they be afghans [unintelligible] >> how closely do they work together? >> i find that the troops work
fairly closely together. often when u.s. troops go on patrol, they bring along a bunch of afghans. this sort of sliding to the u.s. organization. they don't have the same capabilities in a training. a lot of the coalitions are divided on national lines. >> it is exclusively theirs? >> not exclusively, but american operations are mostly american. afghan forces sort of pepper these natural -- national contingents. >> did you see the supply operation? what does it look like? >> i went along with the national guard c-130 airlifter crew.
what happened was some shipments of food and water and supplies came in either on commercial aircraft -- it was offloaded and broken up into batches, loaded onto c-130's been delivered to combat troops. it was taking food and water to a marine corps contingent in the south. it did a pass over the marines location, shoved the stuff out of the back, and the parachutes opened. operations like that happen every day. it is one of the major ways of getting supplies to the combat troops. >> those operations are fairly safe. they don't acquire it -- they
don't incur too much enemy fire? >> didn't really have an air defense network. they could take a potshot your airplane with their rifles or are pg, but the chances of hitting something flying that higher are pretty steep. helicopters are in more danger because they fly close to the ground. cargo planes are fairly safe. the mountains are a much bigger threat than the taliban. >> are they supported by f-16's? >> they are not really required. altitude is really their protection. the airspace is crowded, but enemy fire -- >> others to fly out of there. >> some are surveillance planes that orbit around looking for
suspicious activity. you have aircraft that fly air support missions. ground troops get into a sticky situation, they call those guys who sweep in and fired guns, drop bombs. some combine the two roles. >> is that air support missions an everyday occurrence? >> probably. the air force publishes those statistics. if i had to venture a guess, i would think that daily somebody drops a couple of bombs. general mcchrystal said that airpower might contain the seeds of our destruction. it is -- it is worse to risk
killing civilians in an inherent bombing. >> is there any correlation between forces on the ground and the operators of the drones? >> the drones, you can think of them as manned aircraft. the man is actually sitting on the ground. he is still talking to the ground troops and air controllers. they use a chat program that looks like instant messenger to do a lot of communication with their customer -- the guys receiving the support from the drones. they are fairly precise as far as these things go. they don't carry large weapons or fire a lot of them. it is a far cry from being -- dropping a 2,000 pound bomb on a suspected taliban position. >> what operations go on there?
>> it is the most sophisticated medical facility in afghanistan. it is an air force hospital that does everything from plastic everythingto trauma, emergency room care. >> they can carry -- and take care of a lot of issues right there? >> they could handle most things, but the idea is when someone is hurt, get them to their long-term care facility as fast as possible. that wouldn't be bagram. you don't want a u.s. soldier having been around bagram for months at a time. but for afghans, it is possible. they were receiving plastic surgery there when i was there. it is a hospital that's sort of
combines medical care and an evacuation role. there is a tent a quick outside of the hospital wherein did -- wounded troops come in and when they are stable, they're moved into the tent awaiting a flight. the flights leave frequently. it is hard to catch these guys for interviews because they move so quickly. any transport flight going home -- it could be cargo planes going in. they put the wounded troops on there. they keep them safe. >> you also spent time at an operating -- the air force handed off to the army and you went to a ford operating base -- forward operating base.
>> it is one of afghanistan's cultural district. traditionally, they grow much of the food that the people in kabul eat. it is connected by roads, about 50 miles. >> is a dusty road? >> it is a paved road, maybe not up to u.s. standards. they're just trying to make a living in some unforgiving terrain. >> what is the military have a base there. -- why does the military have a base there? >> in their minds, they're bringing the population into the coalition foaled in their building support for the afghan government. they talk to the farmers in a language they understand. the u.s. army has a battalion in
the province with three companies, one in each district. those guys are spending most of their time understanding what kind of farming is going on, how can we help? and working with the afghan government to get them on that page. it is like an agricultural commune that wears military fatigues. >> this is an actual base that the u.s. has built? or is there some sort of facility there before? >> of the often fallen it existing facilities for convenience sake. it is the former site of a turkish travel operation -- gravel operation. the company is a former russian base back from the old soviet- afghan war. they have expanded and improved.
some of the facilities have a long history of commerce or conflict. >> as you move further away from the air force base, what is it like to get your daily meals? how'd you communicate with c- span and others? >> it depends on where you are. it boils down to what the nature of the mission is, and leadership. like i said, it is sort of a militarized agricultural commune. there is not a lot of active combat. for the most part, they are coordinating with vets and dealing with animals. theya re static enought hat the company there with -- enough -- they are static enough that the company theire -- there are
wooden huts and reinforced tends. they stay warm at night. it is fairly comfortable. by contrast, in kandahar, many people sleep outdoors, even in the winter. there is more compact, moving around, and it is more fluid and dangerous. there is no time to settle into an ice routine. -- a nice routine. these days, they're way over crowded. the infrastructure for u.s. and nato troops in afghanistan is sort of size for 50,000 or 70,000 strong with the new reinforcements coming in since the beginning of the year. the major bases are way
overcrowded. there is no place to sleep. at long waits for food. traffic, things like that. >> what is the local government like? >> spotty. the sub governor is co-located with the american base. actually, it's the afghan security forces, the afghan government, and the u.s. state department. these folks are working together on a daily basis. it is a challenge working with local government because there is not a mind set that the governments exist to provide services. that is what has got happen to pull together a federal system that works. >> is that largely a state department role? >> you have seen a surge of
state department and other non- military government agencies, and more u.s. troops, too. they are seeing the development and government rules to govern as civilians. for instance, when i arrived in mid october, it coincided with the arrival of the district's support team which is a u.s. state department team that sense in experienced foreign service officers to hang out with the local sub governor to try to show them that this is what it looks like. you need to be walking around and talking with your constituents. find out who has resources, and tried to make the link up. the advance party was there. more are coming. they are joined by a contingent of agricultural experts from u.s. land grant universities that have volunteered to come
over and work with farmers. >> at its peak, there will -- there will be about a dozen people. >> what is the local language, and do you speak it? >> of the local language there would be dari. elsewhere, they speak pashtu. like most foreigners, i hire interpreters. >> you don't rely on the u.s. military? >> in kabul, i hire one. if i'm embedded, i use the troops. you don't know exactly what language people are going to speak. broadly speaking, it is/north and south. my plan ahead and think the need a dari speaker, and everyone's speaking pashtu.
nobody has enough translators. in a never good enough. you may have your allotment, that they may not be the best. that is a constant struggle. until we have a large number of americans speaking dari, or more afghans speaking english, that will be a challenge. >> what was the unit that you were embedded with -- what was their mission? >> it was an expeditionary trading group that mentors the afghan national army air corps. in other words, americans that are trying to build an afghan air force on the u.s. air force model. in addition, they spent some
time with the sixty second expeditionary reconnaissance squadron, a drone unit. predators and reaper drones. >> this is a big part of the push for the afghans to take on the security role in the country. how do u.s. military officials think the afghans are coming along? >> slowly. i am not going to call them pessimists, but it is hard to be optimistic. they do their job. they're dedicated to it. the americans, that is. you won't hear them speak badly about afghans. from my point of view, it is very frustrating. to see almost no progress in the two years.
i did not see major signs of progress on almost any front. >> why you think that is? >> is a cultural issue. i am not even going to use the word reform, because that implies that they need to be like us. the initial goal was to disrupt al qaeda, and do what it took to make that happen. that meant eradicating the taliban as well. eight years later, there is very little al qaeda in afghanistan. very little taliban as well. the mission has changed too much is disrupting the organizations, but building an
almost western-style society to replace the taliban as a form of goverment, i guess. that's not going well. >> do they have any history of a unified military, a force that serve the country in the past? >> i don't know. i am not an expert on afghan history. recently, no. under the soviets 20 years ago, there is a partnership with elements of an afghan federal government ahead, just like there is today. i don't mean to equate the two, but recently there has not been a strong tradition of centralized government. >> the see any evidence of the u.s. or nato forces trying to work with local officials to
eradicate the poppy fields. >> i did not see that, but there is a good reason. we have moved past eradication. >> to what? >> when it comes to poppies, is not really in the forefront anymore. the drugs -- is the reason that the military cared it was because they were a source of revenue, are a source of revenue for the taliban. but they have multiple income streams, and that is just one of them. trying to eradicate poppy is, you cause more damage to your own effort than -- you've heard more than help. in to eliminating the sole source of income, you create new extremist enemies. it is better to find other ways to disrupt the taliban than to
eliminate one of their income streams that other people rely on. >> and it is a little bit about the predator drones. >> there are two american ground units in afghanistan. one handles the north and one handles the south. the exact numbers are classified. i would guess 100 predator and reaper drones. predators' look like giant model airplanes about the size of a small, compact car. the reapers are twice as big, and look more like fighter jets. you can hang missiles and bombs. they carry a bunch of different centers. cameras and radar, things like that. they can stay in the air long
time. the exact number depends, but it is like today. it soaks up vast amounts of imagery and the data, peeering down and taking snapshots. >> what altitude? >> that is probably classified, but probably thousands of feet. you can hear them. they sound like lawn mowers. but you can't see them. >> d.c. them attacking a specific point? -- did you see them attacking a specific opint? -- point? >> most of the operations are bifurcated. they sit in the trailers and see what the drones see. they work in nevada at air force
bases. the guys in afghanistan just launched and recovered the drones. they're responsible for operations in certain small areas around the base. it is like a 24-hour operation. these contractors that are constantly dragging drove up to the air strip, watching it from the control trailers, and they sort of pass them off to the guys in las vegas. they will fly around and return drawn to the guys -- return the drcontrol fo the drone -- of the drone. >> did you get a chance to see the imagery? >> it is like a tv camera. they have a high fidelity radar
that takes impressive snapshots of terrain. in the morning, you take one snapshot. you come back in the evening and taken other. if you compare them in to see differences -- and see differences, you might have spotted a road-side bomb. the color change detection. you can spot where it has been buried. they send in the ground teams. >> you were with several units in different places. what sense did you get from soldiers, airmen, about multiple deployments to afghanistan. >> most of the frontline in the -- infantry guys are often teenagers.
most of them had only been in the army for a few years. as you get older soldiers, more experience, they have been at this for quite a long time. i hear a lot about morale in the news here in the u.s.. and it is funny because they seem like they're talking about a different war or a different army because i am not sure that morale means anything in afghanistan. it might for other armies. but this is a professional army, may be the most professional army in the world. highly trained, highly educated, extremely well equipped, and pretty well compensated considering how bad things are back home. these guys do a job because it is their job. they're not draftees. most of them are not even 80 allegedly motivated. -- ideologically motivated.
they're doing a job. they can separate their emotions and their personal politics from the job. if you really boil it down, if there is an emotional motives for these guys, they're usually fighting for the dude next to them. the unit camaraderie where professionalism does not explain everything. i am not sure that morale is a huge issue. you could sit down with a soldier and say, how do you feel? are you tired? is your families suffering? he might have particular gripes. the army is pretty good at dealing with those. their mental health professionals, and the army is making an effort to expand to give folks more time at home.
for years, i have heard that the army is overstretched. from a planning purpose, that might be true. it is not like there is some kind of psychic collapse going on where folks are so demoralized and so disillusioned that they're going to quit. >> there was a debate about how much additional troops the u.s. might send. what is your sense of from talking to seat of the the what is needed? >> there is a growing sense of realism that nobody does going to get everything they want. mcchrystal set a pretty high bar for what he considers to be accurate resources. 40,000 troops or more? there is an understanding that that is not necessarily going to
happen. if it does, it will not happen fast. officers are making do it and finding ways to make do with their troops. a lot of senior guys embraces the idea of the population centric counterinsurgency where your goal is to protect the entire afghan population, and you sort of excise whatever extremist elements managed to -- you need a lot of troops to do that. what is emerging is the type of hybrid strategy were you protect major population centers. and you bend hearts and minds with indirect means. >> the last time you were in afghanistan was when? >> 2007. >> how has things -- how have things changed?
>> there is no major progress to report. the challenges i saw in 2007 or the challenges i saw in 2009. there are slightly more u.s. and coalition troops in afghanistan, but not so many that it has made a massive difference. it might make a difference in certain localities where there have been -- broadly speaking, it is still a huge country. the coalition is still comparatively quite small. the major obstacles remain. unless you want to flood afghanistan with a million foreign troops, i'm not sure that troops are really the answer. it is increasingly clear to me that more than the taliban, the enemy is corruption. it is an afghan government that has had a chance to put sex together and has declined to do
so repeatedly. it seems that most senior afghan officials want to get their power for themselves in -- and don't care about afghanistan as a state or about their constituents. you can kill taliban all day, but you will create more by creating martyrs. you can't win this war by the definition that we have settled on. not until there is an afghan government that takes government seriously. that is not happening. >> you shot a lot of video for c-span. what was the most interesting thing you saw? >> getting blown up, shot at. we were ambushed backing that october on the way back from a
visit to some local mosques. there was a 20-minute firefight. no american casualties. a truck was destroyed, but a protected the occupants. i have been shot at before, and i guess throughout those experiences, i have come to really believe in american technology. i am sad that i feel this way. i don't want to be the guy that feels invincible wrapped in millions of dollars of military equipment. but i do. it is good equipment. we absorbed a bunch of taliban bullets. everyone was fine, and we shot back. the tree line that they were shooting from was just demolished. >> how far away was it?
>> pitch black, maybe 100 yards. probably farther. the sheer quantity of firepower that the drop was just hilarious and awe-inspiring. we kill the cal. if you don't want to kill a cow because the farmers -- killed a cow. the farmers get met you. i had infantry rise in the back of the truck there were using the patch to fire grenades. -- the hatch to fire grenades. i was only able to fire -- shoot video inside of the vehicle. it was tough because i did not want to shine a light in their face and ruin their night vision. they had a job to do.
i was only able to get snippets of video of them going about their job. killing taliban. they noted that very often, and they realize that that is not their job. >> was it business as usual? >> they have all done this before. the salomon named hoates -- young man named hoates was in the truck with me. we were talking about the fire fight. they usually don't and around that long. they kept shooting this time. he talked about his mindset. he said that the key to surviving, ironically, is to not care about surviving. if you think too hard about protecting yourself, you don't
take the steps that you know you need to take to resolve the situation as fast as possible. in other words, as soon as they can get out of the vehicles, they get out. they get high ground and looked around at the enemy and call an artillery and fire grenades down. that requires getting exposed, moving around, bullets snapping around you. it is scary, but it is safer to get out and take a look at the problem. you survived by embracing death. he and his unit are lucky. they have not taken a lot of casualties. one of the reasons is because the fight so bravely. >> you mentioned the training earlier. do you see that in action?
>> and 18-year-old kid, within seconds of getting blown up and peppered with gunfire is calling in artillery and according movements -- coordinating movements of troops all over teh place -- the place in dealing with a pesky reporters while maintaining a pretty pleasant attitude throughout. >> tell us a little bit about the mechanics of your job. how do you make sure that you have enough tape, your batteries are charged, all of that. >> i did not spend a lot of time sleeping outdoors in the desert. where the ambush took place, we returned home to a quiet little place. but there was a sergeant that
was responsible for getting power and did a very good job. he really cared about his guys. i can put things in at night and charged them. it is expensive work. flying over there, miscellaneous expense of the u.k. late -- expenses that you accumulate. it sure beats embedding with the taliban. as an american, i will probably make it through. >> david axe, and thanks for your work. thank you for joining us. >> video journalist david axe has covered the wars in afghanistan and iraq as was the conflict in sudan. you can watch programs produced with his material on our web site, c-span.org. go to the search box in the upper right-hand corner and tiepin a-x-e. -- type in a-x-e.
>> the president plans to address the nature -- and the nation of the future of afghanistan at 8:00 p.m. eastern from west point. we will have live coverage on the c-span network. -- netwroks. -- networks. you're watching c-span, created as a public service by america's cable companies. next, the first of three nights on the iconic homes of the branches of the american government. we start at an inside look of the supreme court. in later, political strategists analyze the obama presidency. after that, scholars and former administration officials discussed the threat posed by the u.s. by terrorists and the nuclear weapons. -- and nuclear weapons.
on this thanksgiving night, season begins three documentaries on the iconic homes a of american government. the u.s. capital is on saturday. we begin tonight with the highest judicial authority in the land, the u.s. supreme court. the building lies east of the u.s. capitol and houses the court room and offices of the nine justices. . . >> the hon. chief justice and the associate justice of the night of the of the united states. >> something different is going on here. you need to appreciate how important it is. >> this is the highest court in the land. the framers created it after studying a great lawmaker in history. >> one of these cases was very close. close. you cannot go here to make the
law to decide who wants to win. we decide who wins under the law. >> who will be surprised by the high-level? >> why do we have a beautiful structure? it is to remind us that we have an important country. it is to remind the public of the important and centrality of the law. >> it amazes me and gives me faith in our country to know how much people trust the courts. >> i think the danger is sometimes the building things it
is all about you. that is something that i do not think it works well. >> home to america's highest court. the role is to interpret the constitution of the united states. outside, almost daily expressions of protest are made by those of listing the courts except their case or role in their favor. there are private rooms seen by
those that are there. it is the justices appointed for life terms that have always defined this very human institution and the buildings in which they do their work. >> i think it is the previous building in washington. it is distinctive. is a different type of marble. it is lighter and brighter. immediately, i do appreciate it. it represents a different branch of government. it really is monumental. it represents the lincoln memorial in terms of the visual impact. if you view it as a temple of justice, i think that is entirely appropriate. >> 21st come up to the steps -- when you first come up to the
steps, there are too candelabras. -- two candelabras holding the scales of justice. on the of the side are the three faces. is it symbolic indication. as he traveled to the plaza, there are flagpole bases. if shows law and purpose. >> the statue to the left is and contemplation of justice. it is a symbol of impartiality. on the right-hand side the other statue is an authority of law.
the left arm rests on a hook. it is important for the public to make sure that people want to come up in these steps. not a day goes by where we do not as if we are doing this right. >> i think it is a mysterious brands. they do their work court camera is not allowed. and as -- they represent the people on the street. in some ways, they are very public. anything they do that will matter in their life will be down in black and white. they will not be publicly announcing that before a camera. there is history to the supreme court.
it gives a fair and honest interpretation to the meaning of dispositions that the people has -- have adopted. >> it is time that americans wake up. they had a clear vision in mind. that was that the federal courts would be deciding issues of federal law. those judgments would be binding on all courts, state and federal. >> some of the difficulties -- we will let the judges figure
them out. it is a cooperative venture. you realize it is not just the words. >> the public will see an opinion with the reasons, the discipline that a judge follows and what make judges unlike legislatures. we have to give reason for every decision we make. >> when you go into a big case. -- when you go into the case,
you would be brutish it begin not -- if you did not know the high level of that. >> the court is aware of that history. continuity is very important. history does influence how the court works. >> visitors will enter the building through the symbolic adore the recognizes the path of history to the law. >> there is an impressive marble door that separates the front door of the buildings from the doors of lead into the courts. that is called the great hall. it is characterized by marble columns. >> when i walk through the great
>> is defined not only by different people over time, but editions of new justices to the bench. >> the white house operator tells you if the president is on the line. >> i had my left hand over my chest, trying to calm my beating heart. the president that on the phone and said to me, i would like to announce as my selection to be the next assisted justice of the supreme court. i caught my breath and started to cry. >> are you prepared to take the oath? >> i am.
please raise your right hand and repeat after me. i solemnly swear. >> i solemnly swear >> they used to say it changes everything. they moved to the seats around. it is the same in the conference room. i think it causes you to take a fresh look. you can see how they will have the particular view. it may be very different it is an exciting part. >> the institution does not change at all. you lose a friend. health the acquire another one.
>> that is the process. it is different today than what it was when i first got here. you grew very fond of the court there was a time when we had a long run together. you get comfortable with that and then it changes. it is a new court. when now is trying jury cases, if a jury had to be replaced, it was just a different dynamic. it is a stressful.
we still admire our colleagues. i have great admiration for the system. i think it is healthy for the court to have members. >> i saw a program when they said there should always be someone who served in the forces. there should always be someone u.s. have practical experience in litigation. >> all of the justices have been extraordinarily warm. each one has invited me to call them with questions. they do not know if i can
identify anyone in particular. it depends on the fight in meeting them. when they meet them in the hall i go up to them and say, canyon -- can you? they happen all wonderful. the court continues to make decisions that impact the lives of everyday americans, taking on on a limited amount of cases. >> 8000 ask us each year to hear the case. that means about 150 a week. 150 request to hear the case.
here they are for this week. i think undoubtedly, to my mind, the most onerous and for the most part, an interesting part of the job is ruling on all of the cert petitions that come to the court. they have increased enormously in the time that i have been here. >> we do not just look at the cases we think are wrong, the ones that we think have a lot at stake. all the cases are hard. the only reason we take them, as some of my colleagues might tell you, is that other courts are in disagreement most of the time. that means that other judges and other actors in the legal system have come to differing conclusions. every case is that way.
>> most people think they have a right to come to the court. for the most part, you do not, not this court. maybe the court of appeals, you normally do, maybe the state courts, and the courts that do not have discretionary jurisdiction. maybe they have a right. most of our jurisdiction is discretionary. >> you can tell if there is a case that people will give it a lot of attention. that does not change into our process. a lot of it is very mundane. ego third about half a dozen that'll make it to the front page of the newspaper. there are federal arbitration acts. this is a big part of our
docket. it will not attract any interest. >> even things that are boring kantor not to be challenging. it could be anything. i do nothing said it matter determined it. it is the challenge of serving this particular question and making it work. >> each one gets a vote. but it only takes four votes. the court used to have a lot more mandatory jurisdiction. when congress passed a law, that is the deal we made.
>> these of the cases that were granted and heard in the courtroom. behind the scenes, each has their own office. they work with the staff of four law clerks and several of his assistants. it is within their own chambers were work habits come through. >> i like to have a close at hand. all of it was inside. i'd like a quiet place. this desk is made for the court. they all have similar desks.
i have put a granite top on the desk. >> i like this office but if i had become home body. if you did get the window, you will see the capital. i was very lucky to have this office. it is a lovely office. everybody moved because you change offices by seniority. powell is the most junior. -- i was the most junior. when al was appointed, nobody wanted to move. in the office of two of my law clerks, i learn a lot about the law from them. >> i have been in four different chambers. they are referred to as the retired chief justice's chambers. i was there for three or four years.
after that, i moved into that one would have previously been occupied by the stewart. a tip over when he -- i took over when he retired. there are only three justices when i was there. >> it is this a few -- a view that provides a window into the past of the supreme court. meeting in the basement of the capital for the majority of their time between 1810 and 1860, john marshall oversaw the court from here during his tenure. later, roger taney rolled over this court as well.
they would meet there until 1935. with the very that a space available in the building for justices to do their work and it even less for attorneys to find a place to prepare for oral argument, one chief justice determined it was time the court have a building of its own. >> i do not think it is an understatement to say that it would not the year it had not been for the persistence of chief justice taft. >> he thought the court should have a melding of its own. he believed that. -- a building of its own. he believed that. it became an obsession. >> ultimately, taft to begin to share the duty. that was to share the architect. guilford -- gilbert was one of
the best architects of this time. it was the perfect match of architects and the employer. their idea was to have a building that would report to jefferson. it shows a little less and $10 million. it is actually a deflationary during the great depression. they are able to build it and finish it and still $100,000 back to the treasury of the united states. it came in under budget. it may be the only government building in history that came in under budget. >> the birth that he had done such a great job that the u.s. capitol should be -- cass gilbert thought he had done such a great job that the u.s. capitol should be there.
-- be moved to provide a better view. >> he worked in classicism. he was very serious. he had intentions to create a symbolic house for the third branch of government that expressed the seriousness of what we were doing, the authority for which the third branch should be invested, and an authority to work for what is right. >> supreme court justices are not shy. some of the justices felt the new building was to grand, was too grandiose. she suggests the sun was alleged to say that the -- chief justice son was alleged to say that they were like beetles that should ride in on elephants. >> setting the record with the
marble used, when it opened in 1935, seven of the nine sitting justices refused to move into their chambers in the new supreme court building. >> one of the justices at the time did a lot of work on it and did not want to leave the former chambers which were in the basement of the senate. he said if we leave these offices in the senate, no one will ever hear of us again. aggrandize said he would not come in here. --grandeis said he would not come in here. it has become a symbol of the court system, a third branch of government, and the need for stability, rule of law, which is what america stands for. >> neither taft nor guilford -- gilbert lived to see the
completion. >> as you did get the building today, you not only see the vision of taft and his architecture, but the work of his successor. while most visitors see the west cited the structure, on the east side is a less use part of the building. >> the east portico is surrounded by the east pediment sculptures by chairman it now. he was given a lot of rain. he designed ideas for the sculpture. he stows to look toward the eastern traditions of law to choose some of this the years. the central figure is moses and on either side are confucius and so on. to either side of those are some allegorical figures.
in the corners are the allegory of the tortoise and the hair and the ideas that these bouquets of justice carries through -- the slow pace of the justice carries through. the load the pediment is the statement "justice, and the guardian of liberty." charles evans hughes wrote that on a memo when he was asked to approve the to inscription that would be put on the building. ♪ >> on the opposite side is the west plaza, the entrance to the building and a place where many express their feelings about the court in the constitution.
b>> i am not sure he intended it to be a convenience of protests. i am pretty sure taft did not intended for that. i understand people having strong feelings about some of the things that we do and were involved in, but it is not a situation where our decision should be guided by popular pressure. the protests are there as a way for people to express their feelings but should not be directed at us. you would not want us deciding what the constitution means a some of the popular feeling is. quite often our decisions are one said the court took that are quite unpopular.
>> as you look up, at the top of the supreme court, you see another symbolic pediment. this one pays tribute to the law and to some of those in the building's construction. >> in the west pediment are allegorical figures. the other figures that are represented are those that participated in the construction of the building in the history of the court. the architecture is represented. chief justice taft is represented. you also have john marshall represented as a young man. chief justice hughes is represented. even the sculptor is represented in that freezieze.
there is a phrase devised by the architects and approved by chief justice hughes. the world a taken on a larger meeting -- meaning sensenbrenner of today a larger meaning. >> -- the word had taken on a larger meaning. bu>> the basis on their color or background. the sense that it communicates that one can stand before the that one can stand before the court and expect to be >> i do not want legalism, i just want the conclusion. >> in a moment, the justices and the one hour that can potentially -- is the first time
we learn what our colleagues think about a place -- about a case. >> some of these cases are pretty close, and you go in on a knife's edge. persuasive council can make a difference. >> tonight, c-span begins three nights of original documentary on the iconic homes of the branches of government. if you'd like more information on the supreme court, the white house, and the u.s. capitol, visit our web site, c-span.org. >> american icons, three nights of original c-span documentary's on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government continues friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. the white house, inside america's most famous home,
beyond the velvet ropes of public tours. our visit shows the grand, public places as well as those rarely seen spaces. saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the capital, the history, art, and architecture of one of america's most symbolic structures. american icons, friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. of a three disk dvd said. it is $24.99. the original documentary continues now with a look at cases argued before the court. justices discuss what they are looking for in a case a marked influence their opinion. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> the supreme court hears between 8100 cases each term inside this building that was open in 1935 and envisioned by william howard taft. he calls it the central noted
the structure. it was adorned with red drapes and special columns made of marble imported from italy and spain taft called for more than just the courtroom. >> if they come in and give practical pointers. they try hard to put people at ease to be before going into the courtroom. there is a lot of camaraderie. it is friendly. there is a lot of nervous energy. it is friendly. >> is designed to come to make sure there are not folk funds
and that they not intend to tell jokes were not referred to their familiarity as when the justices. they ought to see it as a place where they can make the best case. >> we want to into that courtroom prepared and the size to have an equal chance. the attorneys are expected to be there at 915 in the morning. the regular is new to be there. sometimes you do not know your opponent. they exchange greetings. they take their seats. they go over the events that led her that day. -- that are going to happen that day. if the answer any questions they might have.
the attorney feedback i have gotten is that they like it very much. as the attorneys get their last- minute discussions, the justices are preparing for the experience in their own way. a buzzer is sounded in each chamber. >> about 10 minutes ahead, it reminds you that you are supposed to be on the bench. at that point, if you need to go down to the robing room to get your rope line in the ready to get there at the appointed hour. there are a number of narrow little sections in which the justices are hung.
your judicial caller can be on the shelf -- collar can be on the shelf. >> senger day o'connor and i thought it would be appropriate if we included it as part of our verot something to vocal of a woman. i have many collars. >> we do our work with of the roads or this building. is the significance of what goes on here >> we are all in the business of impartial judging.
in the united states, the pattern was set by john marshall who said that judges should not wear royal robes. they should wear plain black. those traditions anchor us in a process that is greater than ourselves. they remind us that the role we are playing is not a personal role. it is one that has an institutional important. that institutional importance is bigger than us. >> as we enter the robing room, the first thing we do is go around the rim and each justice shakes hands with every other.
that is a symbol of the work that we do as the collegial body. he may be temporarily missed the as you may have a differing opinion. when we go to sit on the bench, we look at each other and to shake hands. it is a way of saying we are all in this together prepared the chief justice says it is time to go. up in order of seniority. -- you line up in order of seniority. there are three justices on the left, middle, and right.
>> all persons having business before the honorable supreme court had managed to draw near and get their attention. the court is now sitting. god save the united states. >> one of the amazing things about the courtroom is the intimacy of it. on one hand, it is not that big of a room. the real instancy comes in relation bit chip -- relationship between the lawyer who is arguing -- a stop to think of it, you will see that if one of those lanes of the
bench as far as we could lean and the podium leaned toward us, we could almost shaking hands. that is a very important thing. that means when the argument take place, you are physically and psychologically close and up to each other so that there is a possibility for real engagement proposal. it is a grand room in which a very intimate process takes place. it is the kernel of a very grand building which has very intimate results for every american. >> the aura of the place is always present. this is a chamber in which to be case was decided.
presidential power was decided in that room by human beings sitting on that bench after and having listened to arguments by others. >> most cases have an hour per case. when utility people, the thing, is that all? >> you really does stand up and slide over a few inches. >> they held that sons cannot share in the award given by the jury --
>> we have to give a few seconds. you will start getting questions within the first minute or two. but each of the justices had their own unique style about questioning. we have some people who like rapid-fire style. others like to spin out long hypothetical. but i do not want legalism. i want the conclusion. >> would you explain again why it was irrelevant whether the gun was operable or not? >> what did the government said in order to render possible you have to disclose certain facts which we will set it down? >> we do not sit down before arguments and say this is what we think or how we viewed the case. we come to a clove -- cold.
we are learning what the other justices view. that can alter how you view it on the sport. -- spot. it is a very exciting part of the job. >> there are nine people up there. i am with them. we are talking. i have no awareness of the courtroom. it is really quite remarkable. >> i do not view it as an opportunity for the justices to advocate one point of view. i think the questioning should be designed to help understand
what the arguments on both sides are in order to enable the justice to reach a decision. >> to sit on the supreme court and listen to the questions of your colleague is somewhat humbling. the moment i set down and was able to look out and see all of the people in the audience, it is probably the moment i will most intensely remember. there were lawyers to i have known for years sitting at the table in front of us, ready to argue. watching the intensity of everyone's face, i had forgotten how much people believe and know that they are affected by the court's decision. every question i asked has a purpose and some important to something that is troubling me.
>> i know some lawyers can interrupt in an eloquent speech. and add a kid wants to know what is on the judge's mind. -- an advocate want to know what is on the judge's mind. it might not resolve as well without the council response. >> it is all about building those questions and using the time strategically so you time strategically so you respond to the question you cannot persuade the justice if you do not answer what they have asked. >> there are very demanding, but that is their job.
>> does it stop being a quota because it is somewhere between eight and 12, but it is a quota if it is 10? >> a lot of people have the impression it is just a dog and pony show. what can somebody tell me in half an hour. the answer is that it is probably quite rare, although not unheard of, that oral argument will change my mind. but it is quite common that i go in with my mind not made up. a lot of these cases are very close, and you go in on a knife's edge. persuasive council can make the difference. >> it is a lot of questions. they interrupt each other. >> it had been my practice on the court of appeals to wait for the end of the lawyers paragraph before interrupting with the
question. here i learned if you do that, or even in a hot case if you wait until the end of the sentence, you will never get a question in. you have to interrupt to make your voice heard. -- you can never get a question him. you have to interrupt to get your voice heard. >> is an opportunity for the advocate, the lawyers to fill in the blanks. i think it is hard to have a conversation when nobody is listening. i think you should allow people to complete their butts. i find that coherence as far more helpful. i do not see how you can learn a whole lot from the 50 questions in an hour. >> when in the bad signs of an oral argument is when the
questions stop. it means that you have either not persuaded them or they had this to be did -- they have distributed it out already. >> when your time has expired, the red light goes on. >> it is an exciting part in the process. i'm going to hear what the lawyers have to say. it is an exciting day. >> sometimes i say to myself, am i read the fare or is this all a dream? -- am i really there or is this all a dream? >> there is a house that come over people as they come and. there is a reverence. people look up and see if there is an extended helpanels.
there are four panels of of the courtroom. in the center of this is the justice. she is leaning on her sword. she is ready for action if needed. among the forces of evil are the power, slender, and corruption. the forces of good on the other side are the defense of virtue in charity. behind, there are figures of divine inspiration. how did that, do have a procession of the great lawgivers. it starts with an egyptian pharaoh.
he is followed by other figures. there are some of the ancient lawgivers. on the other side, you come into more modern times. he had the most recent one, and napoleon. he was instrumental in creating the civil code which is now used in many european countries. it in on the last figure were you had the majesty of law and a car government sitting on the throne. there are american eagle spreading their wings. on one side, you have a group of citizens and they are protected by a lawyer or a judge.
on the other side coming to have another group of citizens and there is a warrior in front of those. you need to have the strength to back of the wall. >> it is amazing when you walk in. it is fixed in time. there are even to american flags. -- two american flags. they sit perfectly still. >> we sometimes kid that the quill pens they give to the oral advocates are exactly how they write their opinions. there are still justices the right of their opinion on long can. -- that right out of their opinions on the long hand.
>> the supreme court is also a very human institution. in a private room reserved by the justices, in your customer takes place, following oral arguments. one is encouraged by the first female justice. ♪ >> it is a beautiful room. it is very well furnished. it comes from the public cafeteria. it is the same thing that any of us might use.
you will be surprised by the high level of collegiality here. in his early years, there was no justice with him he disagree more often than justice brennan. justice scalia considered justice brennan his best friend on the court. >> this is a tradition that was nearly pushed by justice o'connor when she is on the court. it stuck. >> justice o'connor insisted that we have lunch everyday when we were sitting. now clarence, you should come to lunch. she was really sweet. i came to lunch.
it is one of the best things i did. it is hard to be angry or bitter at someone and break bread and look them in the eye. it is a fun lunch. very little work is done there. it dishes nine people or eight people having -- it is just nine people or eight people having lunch. >> i try not to miss the post argument lunch. you never know what my colleagues will be talking about. let's it is the role that we do not talk abut the cases. >> we will talk about the offer. some of us will talk about the baseball game or the golf tournament. some will talk about the good movie they had seen. it is the kind of things that everybody would talk to their colleagues about at lunch. >> off the main justice dining
room is a smaller dining room for smaller functions. this is due to a sculpture that was placed there in the mid- 1970s. chief justice warren burger decided he wanted to make it to the theme of the room. the cord donated a portrait of william marbury. there needed to be a companion portrait. they are literally on the wall of the small dining room. >> mark murray and madison is probably the most famous case discord ever decided. the idea of judicial review for constitutionality i think is implicit in the constitution. john marshall made it explicit in the greed case of marbury vs.
madison. >> there is no one case that says as much to a justice about what it is like to be a justice. a marbury vs. madison is the embodiment of judicial review. there is no quotation and all of the history of supreme court writing that justices were not referred to repeat than the phrase that says "it is emphatically the power and the duty of the judiciary to say what the law is." that is a quote from john marshall. >> would call him the great chief. use the first person to take the job seriously. they would call him the great chief. he was the first person to take the job seriously.
that means they get to initiate the discussions. there is a responsibility to make sure that all the issues are adequately aired. >> there is a change that each chief justice has his own method of handling the conference. the present chief justice is doing an excellent job. it pretty much follows the tradition. >> there is not much that the chief justice can do. they have a lifetime job. he can not fire them. we have traditions. they will outlast any chief justice. the chief justice comes to a
court where there are these elements of stability. we have our tradition. we have our oath. on the other hand, the chief justice who presides and steers as through the mechanics of cases -- by his personality and understanding of the law and the institution of his colleagues can do a great deal to set the tone. >> but colleagues were very helpful in filling me in on how things work, often in contradictory ways. udc -- you do get some sense of what to expect in the process. then you go in and do it and hope they all do not say, what are you talking about? my eight colleagues were
externally helpful in making me feel very comfortable. it is not just that i was coming in as chief and the youngest. they had been together for 11 years there have been any change. you can easily imagine that that would be difficult. they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. i have always been very appreciative. >> in a moment, go behind the scenes to perhaps the most private and important room in the building where the decisions of the court did begin to take shape. but no one can enter the room who is not a justice, secretary -- not a secretary or law clerk. >> i am the first time i set foot in the room and the doors closed. it is daunting the first times. that is where the actual work
and the decision making take place. >> c-span began as three nights of original documentaries on the iconic comes of the branches of government. >> if you'd like more information, visit our web site at c-span.org. >> american icons, three nights of c-span original documentary on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government continues friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. the white house, inside america's most famous home. be on the velvet ropes of public tours, our visit shows the grand public places as well as those rarely seen spaces, and saturday 8:00 p.m. eastern, the
capitalol, the history, art, and architecture of one of america's most symbolic structures. get your own copy of american icons, a free disc the be the set. order online that c-span.org /store. . . concludes its original documentary on the supreme court with a look at the actual chamber where the decisions are made. only the nine justices are allowed to enter the room. >> in the most private and perhaps important place inside the supreme court, nine justices and only then meet together around the table in the conference room. they discuss the cases heard in oral argument and begin a process to reach a decision.
>> we sit at the conference table at the same places every day. i sit at one end. justice stevens sits at the other end, and then it wraps around the table in older of seniority. the >> i remember the first time i sat inside of that room when the doors closed. it was pretty daunting the first few times because that is with the actual work, the decision making, takes place. the >> we do not have any observers. no one can enter the room who is no one can enter the room who is not a justice, not a message bearer. >> i have to be professional and accurate and fair. each of my colleagues feel the same way so there is a little tension and excitement in the room, but we love it. >> iowa initiate the discussion
-- i initiate discussion. i think we should reverse or affirm and here is why. sometimes in an easy case, it will take a minute. for a hard case, it can take a lot longer. it will go by seniority. justice stevens might say, i agree with everything, or he might say, i disagree. or he might say, i agree with the result but i think the reasoning should be this. >> one of the best rules is no one speaks twice until everyone has spoken once. i think it is a very good rule predict everybody feels that he or she has been heard. >> it is great to go first because you can say in a
persuasive statement and what you think about the case. when you are on the end of that cue, you have a certain advantage, because you know what the others think. >> it is not an exercise in persuading each other. it is an exercise in stating your views, and the rest of us take notes. you take notes because if you get assigned the opinion, you know how to ride in a way that will get four other boats. >> -- that will get four of the other votes. >> i have the special job of opening the door if somebody knocked. usually it was somebody had a paper or coffee. i had been doing this for 10 years. i think i've gotten pretty good
at it. he said, i am not sure. the nine of us get along very well. >> it is in formal in the sense that everybody is a congenial and there is a certain amount of -- >> the justices are actually very thoughtful about what they are doing. each one was very thoughtful about giving their reasons for their vote. >> i still have not heard the first unkind word in that room. think what we decide. life-and-death. abortion. execution. war and peace. financial ruin. gov relationship with citizens. you name it, we decide it. >> those discussions leave the
justices to conclude attentively to affirm or reverse and the particular case. that vote is not cast in concrete. you are not walking on wet concrete yet. you can change your mind. >> it is not just when or lose. it is what russia now you lose -- you use. -- it is what rationale you use. if the case is close, 5-4, and let's say you are on the side that prevailed, the majority, there are not a lot of high fives. there is a moment of quiet and respect. >> my most imported responsibility is the responsibility for assigning opinions if i am in the majority, i get to determine who will write the opinion in that
case. that is an important responsibility because you want to make sure the assignment is given to the justice whose view commands the most support. also want to make sure the work gets done on time. some cases are more interesting than others. you want to make sure those are fairly distributed. some are harder than others. we get all sorts of different issues. you want to make sure each justice as a mix. a lot of factors go into that decision and it is a very important part. > as opinion writing assignments are handed out, a room exists upstairs that helps the justices and their staff addressed president written in the countless legal volumes
housed here. >> if they want to see the most beautiful room in washington, they ought to go up to the library on the third floor that nobody sees today. that is not so much roman classism, but it is a breathtakingly beautiful room. >> wh>> the library is probablye of the most special places in the building. the archways in the library represent science, law, industry.
there are shields that are directly above the archways, which represent various printers symbols. i spent a lot of time in the library. he would not go there to read supreme court cases because those would be in our own chambers, but looking for a secondary materials of different kinds, we would go to the library and work with the librarians. it was a wonderful place to work and it was also a quiet place to work. >> the library is one of the special rooms in the building and unfortunately does not get used as much as it did it. when the court first moved into the building, they would call the dog each day in court --
they would call the docket each day in court. that is why you have the lawyers lounge, a place for them to stay what they find out which cases they will be arguing. this space is reversed -- is reversed for members of the bark and court staff only. >> i had a few times that i had to use so much material for cases, we occupied two or three or four of this table's said the law clerks could go up there and sit in the reading room and actually referred to all those passages. >> with precedence in cases researched in quiet chambers, justices go about the process of writing the opinion, both majority and dissenting, which eventually made their way to the
public as the final decisions of the court. >> it is an ongoing process. you write a first draft. you go back and read the case. you are also going back and reading the briefs it is a continuation of the oral argument process. >> the setting your view of the case itself is terribly challenging. some of the cases are tough and some are not. some are enormously challenging. in some cases, you want to wait yourself until you see other views expressed before being firm in your own view. it is a help to see it in writing, it is a help that when you have to write, putting it down in words rather than just thinking it through. >> we have to convince our self. the first thing i do is convince
myself. there is a lot of stuff that goes into the wastebasket. then you have to convince others. the court reminds you of the fact that you have this job to. >> when you have to write something out, you sometimes learn things about the case than you did not fully appreciate or understand before. i have changed my views in cases as i write. >> i do not enjoy it right thing. i find writing a very difficult process. i write, i rewrite, i rewrite again. it is going this out -- it is going out this afternoon, let me read it one last time. every time i read it, i will change something else. it has to be sent down to the
printer. >> i usually have to write two or three drafts pretty much from scratch before i am reasonably satisfied. after they are addicted back- and-forth, -- after they are edited back and forth, i circulate them. if the four judges join, i have the court. >> we realize one of us has to write out a decision which teaches and gives reasons for what we do. the point of writing an opinion is to command some of allegiance to the result. we have no army, no budget. we do not have press conferences and we do not give speeches about how wonderful might dissent was. we do not do that. we are judged by what we write. we have to write something that
shows we are following the rules, that we are open and honest, and we give reasons for you to believe what we did is right. >> i welcome the views of my colleagues on every draft that i do, and i share with my colleagues my views in ways in which to ensure that each issue we are addressing is also -- and each draft we are issuing is addressing the important point that the parties are making. i guess what they can expect from me is a very interactive colleague, both in welcoming their suggestions and to incorporate them into dress and sharing with them my own views as well. >> sometimes you take notes.
i think that people might gain from having the opportunity to read but they don't always have to read and they can understand the argument and opinions. >> once the person assigned to write for the majority opinion, not the other 8 have a chance to weigh in. normally, the start reacting with a chanccomment or to keep. they say, wait for the descent. i want to give more thought to this. if you will change a, b, b, c, i would be able to join. seeing something like that that happens. if there is a distant opinion, often people will wait and look at the dissent before casting their vote. once the dissent circulates, it
could be so powerful that causes someone the had been with the majority to change their opinion. the details are not worked out around the conference table. it is in the riding of the opinions that the persuasion takes place. >> let's say that i would go the same direction that i would go 80 yards but the majority would only want to go 60 and 60 would decide this case i would write the opinion to go 60. part. if i were writing a dissent on my own, i would write the opinion in the way that i reflect it. i would not write an opinion deco's in a direction that is differently in the way i thought we should actually go. >> the dissent are actually rigorous and do not pull
punches. i think it improves the quality of the majority opinion. it is something you have to anticipate. >> dissents are more fun to write. when you have the dissent, it is yours. you say what you want. if somebody does not want to join it, who cares. when you are writing the majority, you do not have that luxury. you have to craft a in a way that at least four other people can jump on. you try to craft in a way that as many people as possible will to jump on, which means accepting some suggestions that you might think -- that you might not think are the best but in order to get everybody on board, you take them. >> if you are just putting out, you are going to be very receptive.
the fifth vote is a more receptive want to make changes. >> we are not here producing works better never going to see the light of day. we are here to decide things. >> justice alito has the opinion in the court this morning. >> this is our moment. the guy from reuters is always the most pushy to get through because he wants to get on the wire. the rest of us can go dictate. the supreme court public information office simply says
here is the material, making it what you want of it. we make sure you have the material. it is very nice not to have the sense that somebody is trying to expand you. >> i'd like the pageantry, the justice himself or herself announce what is in the opinion, and then i raced down the stairs to the press area where we all have our laptops and die right first version of that story so it can get on our internet site. readers want to know as soon as possible while the court ruled and potentially what that might mean. >> a lot of people say it is a very secretive institution. no, it is not. it does most of its work in the open. as they like to say, the work comes in the front door and goes out the front door. >> you are just a few steps away from the -- >> near the courtroom are two
rooms used by the justices to occasionally speak to the public. from thurgood marshall's retirement announcement, two events with other justices, one can get a glimpse into the workings of the court. it is the private view of the east and west conference rooms and their portraits of past chief justices that helps one understand the history of the court. >> in the east conference room, we have the first eight chief justice's portraits. the first chief justice appointed by the george washington. then he gets elected to be governor of new york and decides that is a better job, so he resigns and becomes governor of new york. did you have a beautiful portrait of john marshall -- then you have a beautiful
portrait of john marshall. you have a chance to let people know their story, and that carries over to the west conference room where you have the two instrumental justices in this building. william howard taft on one wall. >> i like to go sometimes on a quiet night to the conference rooms because the portraits on the walls are all of my predecessors as chief justice. to some extent, you look up to them whereby with the degree of appreciation for what they have gone through. they are probably looking down on me with bemusement or amazement each of them has a special took story to tell. you look up at john marshall and appreciate the importance as a
court, moving it from a situation where each of justice wrote an opinion. right next to the most unfortunate predecessor, the author of the dread scott decision, he saw a problem that he was going to solve. tremendously misguided and injure the court for generations to come. that is how you look at your own job. the job does not give you a prominent role or historical significance just because you hold the job.
you recall the vital role in turning back the court and think about the importance of the independence of the judiciary, things like that. from time to time, i find it a useful reminder of the role of the accord and the role of the chief justice. >> as time moves forward, this building will remain time this, and the work of its institution inside will still be tied to past precedent and tradition. in many other ways, it is a forever changing place, defined by the human beings serving their as the justices, all trying to interpret a document over 200 years old in the context of a changing world. >> you cannot really judged judges unless you know the materials in which they are working. you cannot say this is a good decision, a good score, simply
because you liked the result. that is not the business judges are in. >> we do not get it right every time. this is a human institution and it has the same susceptibility that any other institution has. what i think the court does do, if it does not succeed all of the time, is to try all of the time. my sense is, probably a substantial number of people in the united states probably give us credit for trying even on the days that they think we should have tried harder. >> isn't it wonderful that we have that ability to rethink issues over time and look at them and think about them and review them and consider whether the answers we have given should
be considered at any point? it is a gift to america that we can do that. >> what i do, what i get fulfillment from, is living up to the oath to do it the right way, and to know that on behalf of my fellow citizens, i pride to be faithful to their constitution, to our constitution. that is where the exhilaration comes from. across the most important thing for the public to understand is that we are not a political branch of government. they do not elect us. if they do not like what we are doing, it is more or less to bad. they need to understand that when we reach a decision, it is based on all lot and not a policy preference. >> i think the process is an open process in a sense that this is the one institution
that explains in a public way what it decides and what it does. >> we have the constitution and the laws, and i think they mean something. i think the people of the united states trust us to interpret and apply those laws fairly and evenhandedly and objectively. that is the great responsibility that we have. >> 300 and people -- 300 million people. people in this country do not agree about a lot of things. despite enormous this agreement, they decided to resolve their differences under the law. >> the supreme court has been respected by the american people. i think it has been one of the institutions of government that is most respected, so it is not size that makes the grandeur or
>> tonight, c-span began three nights of original documentaries on the iconic homes of the branches of government. if he would like more information, visit our web site. you will find links, public information, and histories of all three buildings as well as the institutions that they have pinned dow. >> american icons, three nights of original documentary's on the the homes of american branches
of government. we will show the grand public places as well as those it rarely seen. wednesday, the capital. the history, art, and architecture of one of america's most symbolic structures. you can get your own copy of the set. you can order online at c- span.org. >> now, president obama delivers his first thanksgiving message to the american people. >> for generations, we have given thanks. all across the nation, people
are spending time with family, catching up with old friends. maybe to watch a football. as always, we give thanks for the kindness of loved ones, for the joys of the previous year and for the pride that we feel in our committees and country. we keep our thoughts and prayers for those families celebrating with an empty seat because they have a loved one in harm's way. we give special thanks for those sacrificing for our safety and freedom and those that serve our country. as much as we have to be thankful for, this year, millions americans are facing very difficult economic times. many have lost jobs in this recession, the worst in generations. many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and
house payments. too many are wondering if the dream of a middle-class life is slipping away. that is the word that i hear from people across the country. good, hard-working people doing the best the can for their families but fearing that the best is not good enough. these are not strangers. they are family, friends, neighbors. the struggles must be our concern. that is why we cut taxes for 95% of working people and small businesses. we are reforming the health-care system so that middle-class families have affordable insurance that cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition or take away. we have worked to stem the tide of foreclosures. we are making it easier to save for retirement or to send a
child to college. the steps we've taken out help ed to break the back of the recessions. the job losses have slowed dramatically, we're still not creating enough new jobs to make up for the ones we are losing. no matter what the economists say, for families and communities across the country, this recession will not end until we completely turned the tide. we have main progress but we cannot rest. we will not rest until we have revived the economy and rebuild it stronger than before. until we are creating jobs and opportunity. until we have moved beyond the cycles of boom and bust that led us into some much crisis and pain in the past few years. next week, i will be meeting with owners of large and small businesses, labor leaders, not
for profit leaders, to talk about the steps that we can take to spur creation. i will work with congress to enact those proposals quickly. it is my hope and expectation that next thanksgiving will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those jobs who have lost their jobs are back at work and as a nation, we will have come through these difficult storms stronger, wiser, grateful to have reached a better day. god bless you. from my family, to you, happy thanksgiving. >> unhearof this week, we came together to break bread, give thanks, celebrate our blessings. even in these times of struggle and trial, we have much to be thankful for the game with our men and women in uniform.
the tragic events of fort hood remind us that whether they serve at home or abroad, we owe our soldiers and their families a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay. many seats were filled with anxious americans who are facing their own personal battle spent millions of families have seen jobs and careers banish in the midst of this recession. as him whom many people are wondering where the jobs are. president obama said that his last jobs bill would ensure that unemployment would not go above 8%. they continue to insist that this to ms. plan is working. unemployment is at 10.2%. -- they continue to insist that
the stimulus plan is working. as people struggle to balance their checkbooks, they watched in astonishment as washington spends billions of dollars it doesn't have. what is the answer? another meeting next week. a jobs summit. most likely, another proposal to raise taxes, grow government. the american people know we cannot borrow and spend and to bail our way back to a growing economy. the administration and democratic majority have taken our economy from bad to worse with their failed economic agenda and big government plans. democrats in washington continue to push for government run insurance. a government takeover of health care will to nothing to lower the cost of health insurance and will place further burdens on small business owners and working families. we need leadership that will help to lift the burden of struggling families and unleash the power and innovative spirit
of the american people. republicans have proposals to get our economy moving, to achieve energy independence, lower the cost of health care. while these are trying times, we should remember that these trials are nothing new to the american people tend dowe. from the trials of the pilgrims, the sacrifices of our revolutionary for fathers, civil war, world wars, depressions, struggles in the economy today, the american people have fought through challenges and attacks with fervor, optimism. as we are reminded this last week, or problems grow dim as we focus on our blessings. with many people hurting, now's
the time for us to focus on what makes america great. to join hands and work together on common sense solutions to the problems. let's resolve to help where we can help, led to give or we can give, let's work together to get this economy moving on the basis of a time honored principles of fiscal responsibility, equality of opportunity, growth. i believe your best days are still ahead of you and for america, the best is yet to come. >> earlier this week, president obama posted his first date dinner honoring the prime minister of india. here are the toast's made by the leaders.
founder of sikhism. tonight, we gather again for the first state dinner ofof our presidenpresidency with the inde minister and his wife. we have incredible food, music, we're surrounded by great friends. it has been said that the most beautiful things and universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. mr. prime minister, today we work to fulfill our duty to bring our countries closer together than ever before. tonight under the stars, we celebrate the spirit and will sustain our partnership.
this is upon that includes more than 2 million in americans who enrich every corner of our great nation. leaders in government, science, industry, the arts. some of whom joined us tonight. but this is the bond of friendship between a president and a prime minister who were bound by the same spirit a possibility and brotherhood that transformed both of our nations. the spirit that gave rise to move misled by giants like gandhi and king. as we draw upon these ties that bind our common future together, i want to close with the words that your first prime minister spoke. "the achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the great times and the achievements that await us.
>> mr. president, the first lady michelle obama, distinguished guests. i feel privileged to be invited to this first state banquet that is under your distinguished presence the. dutch presidenc-- presidency. you do as a great honor by this wonderful gesture. we are overwhelmed by your hospitality. the purchasing that you have extended to us personally and the grace and charm of the first
lady. mr. president -- [applause] mr. president, your journey to the white house has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in india. you are inspiration to all of those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity, and equal opportunity. [applause] mr. president, i can do no better than to describe your achievements in the words of
abraham lincoln and said "in the end, it is and not the years of your life that counts, it is the life in those years." [applause] mr. president, we warmly applauded the recognition of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your vision. [applause] mr. president, your leadership of this great nation coincides
with a time of profound changes taking place in the world. we need to find new pathways of international cooperation that respond more effectively to the grave challenges caused by the growing interdependence of nations. as a two leading democracies, india and the united states must play a leading role in building this shared destiny for all humans. mr. president, the strong and sustained engagement between our two countries is good for our people and is good for the world
as a whole. we are embarking on a new partnership. we should build on our common values and interests to realize the enormous potential and promise of our corporation. our expanding cooperation in areas of social and human development, science and technology, energy and other related areas will improve the quality of lives of millions of people in our country. the success of the nearly 2.7 million strong american
community is a tribute to our common duty. this has enriched and deepened our ties and i thank them from the core of my heart. [applause] mr. president, i conveyed my very best wishes to you. mr. president, as you lead this great nation and look forward to working with you to renew and expand our strategy and partnership. i wish you and if the people of america and a very very happy thanksgiving.
ladies and gentlemen, i invite you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of president barack obama and the first lady, mrs. obama, the friendly people of the united states of america and a stronger friendship the twin india and the united states of america. >> cheers. >> cheers. >> thank you, so much. now we can get you settled down and eating. thank you.
moves its health-care bill to the floor. follow the entire debate and how the bill would affect access to medical care, abortion, medicare. >> next, political strategists assess the obama presidency. three democrats and republicans talk about the job performance at this event hosted by the bipartisan policy center.
if i had to buy a ford, i want you to know that i would buy it from him because he is the guy that will give you a good deal and if something happens, it will fix it for you. that is the kind of guy fred is. if i had to buy a key, i would have to buy some or else because he is not big enough to handle a deal. there is a lesson that sometimes the scalpel can be very effective. this next panel -- if you ask
people to name three of the best political journalists for the past 20 years, i would not be stupid enough to say who was number 1 but there's no list that ronald brownstein would not beyond. -- be on. he is one of these people that people pay attention to for a justifiable reason. he has something to say. more often than not he is profound. that he is down here and leading this panel is remarkable he is a truly remarkable guy who has remarkable insights. i will lead him introduce the panel. notice to these people are.
they have work to not just in campaigns but are very influential throughout washington. having said that, i have to get ready for the next social event. i appreciate it. ron, taken over, please. >> thank you, james. thank you for those kind words. i did not get to the memo. i am the only one nowearing a t. you have some of the best minds in american politics. of the biographies are in the program.
we have the director of paid media research for the obama campaign. we are joined by a professional in getting democrats elected in areas where they usually don't get elected. we are joined also by a democratic pollster who has worked for tony blair, nelson mandela, clinton, al gore. we have a republican pollster. his firm represents just about every republican elected official. i was told 19 senators, seven governors, 40 house members. we are also joined by mark mckinnon.
he is a media consultant whose clients have included john mccain, george w. bush, and richards. our last guest is going toe to toe with assorted analysts of political stripes on cnn. he can tell us what that anderson cooper is really like. we want to talk about the first year of this tumultuous presidency with a special focus on the questions that we are here to discuss today which is taking the poison out of partisanship. let me start with the broadest question.
you might look and say that he has maintained an approval rating of 50% or above in a very difficult economic time. he has inherited a full-scale economic disaster. he's the first president to get a universal care bill to the floor. he has held democrats together in congress to a greater extent than clinton. he has improved america's image in the world. unemployment has now gone past &. the republican base is clearly energized after being somewhat dispirited. independents are expressing anxiety about the scale and cost and scope of the agenda.
while the american image has improved, some of the problems that we face, whether it is iran or afghanistan, art iart as intractable as ever. is this a president gaining strength or losing momentum? which direction is it heading? >> thank you to the organizers. the last time i did this was bob barr. my