Guest host: Cenk Uygur
Guests: Howard Fineman, Jamie Raskin, Clarissa Martinez, David Axelrod, Frank Conniff
CENK UYGUR, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Cauldron of confusion: Delaware Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell spellbound by the principles laid out by our Founders in the First Amendment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state.
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?
COONS: It‘s in—an excellent point. Hold on. Hold on, please
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Can we get an early enrollment in Professor Bachmann‘s Constitution course?
Don‘t vote—a clear message in GOP group‘s ad targeted at Latino voters, in Spanish.
UYGUR: The Chamber of Commerce money trail, revelations of Republican hypocrisy on the stimulus and looking to and past the midterms with White House senior adviser David Axelrod.
The people the Republican Tea Party want to protect: the former CEO of Countrywide, no jail time and a virtual parking ticket of a fine.
And fear in bloating. Glenn Beck shows for foodinsurance.com, purveyor of freeze dried meals designed to get you through whatever calamity comes your way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: You open up the backpacks and inside the backpacks is everything that you need in case the world goes to heck in a hand basket. This is freeze dried food and it will last you a couple of weeks, and it‘s great stuff. I mean, it‘s lasagna. It‘s beef stroganoff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Disaster sounds delicious—a live report from the bunker.
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Go on without me. I‘ll sit here and have some beef stroganoff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Good evening from New York. I‘m Cenk Uygur. Keith Olbermann has the night off.
This is Tuesday, October 19th, 14 days—just two weeks, until the 2010 midterm elections, which is a lot of fun. I‘m looking forward to it. Could be an interesting one.
Here‘s something else that‘s interesting. We learned today that candidate for U.S. Senate, a candidate who would swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, if she won, does not know the first thing about the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
In our fifth story: Republican Tea Party candidate Christine O‘Donnell of Delaware literally did not know the first thing in the First Amendment. It is, of course, the fundamental principle on which this nation was founded. That principle, as you‘ll see, that she actually disputed is even in the Constitution.
For the record, before we go on, the relevant words, themselves. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It seems pretty clear.
On that basis, Democratic candidate Chris Coons opposes the teaching of creationism which U.S. courts have found to be a religious doctrine in public schools. Why? Because taking taxpayer dollars to fund teaching of religious doctrine would be the government teaching and establishing a religion. And government cannot do that.
But in the debate today, O‘Donnell‘s first claim that evolution is just a theory. By the way, gravity‘s explained in science by the gravitational theory. If you think gravity is just a theory, you‘re welcome to try that out and see how it works for you.
O‘Donnell then revealed her ignorance about the Constitution, cracking up the audience of law professors and students as you‘ll hear for yourselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COONS: Our public schools should be teaching broadly accepted scientific fact. Not religious doctrine.
O‘DONNELL: Well, you just proved how little you know not just about constitutional law but about the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is not a fact. It is indeed a theory. But I‘m saying that theory, if local school districts want to give that theory equal credence to intelligence design, it is their right. You‘re saying it is not their right. And that‘s—that is what has gotten our country into this position as the overreaching arm of the federal government getting into the business of the local communities.
The Supreme Court has always said, it is up to the local communities to decide their standards. The reason we‘re in the mess we‘re in is because our so-called leaders in Washington no longer view the indispensable principles of our founding as truly that, indispensable. We‘re supposed to have limited government, low taxation—
COONS: One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state.
MODERATOR: OK. With that, very good dialogue. We appreciate that.
Let‘s move on so we can get through all the panelists and cover a number of areas. (INAUDIBLE) from “The News Journal,” please, if you could ask the next question, please.
O‘DONNELL: Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?
COONS: It‘s in—excellent point. Hold on. Hold on, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That was embarrassing. The mod rater moved on. But Coons went back to it as part of a broader about the Constitution, including O‘Donnell‘s support of Griswold v. Connecticut. Watch her rejects Roe v. Wade, which is made possible if not inevitable actually by Griswold.
Despite the laughter she got earlier, O‘Donnell kept at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COONS: And the answers from my opponent and in her attempt at saying, where is the separation of church and state in the Constitution? It reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is, how it is amended and how it evolves. The First Amendment, the First Amendment, establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish any religion and decisional law by the Supreme Court over many, many decades.
O‘DONNELL: The First Amendment does?
COONS: It clarifies and enshrines—it clarifies and enshrines that there is a separation of church and state that our courts and our laws must respect.
O‘DONNELL: So you‘re telling me that the separation of church and state—the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?
COONS: Back to Roe versus Wade and the Griswold question earlier, the zone of privacy is something the Supreme Court interpreted the Bill of Rights and several of those amendments to create. It is important for us in modern times to apply the Constitution, in my view, as it exists today, and as it‘s been interpreted by our justices.
In my view, it is important to know whether you have on my side a candidate who believes and supports those things and on the other side a candidate who‘s both unfamiliar with—
O‘DONNELL: Let me just clarify. You‘re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment.
COONS: Government shall make no establishment of religion.
O‘DONNELL: That‘s in the First Amendment?
MODERATOR: Eight-fifteen here on 1150 AM WDEL—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: My favorite part is how smug she looks. That was awesome.
All right. Anyway, joining us tonight is Jamie Raskin, professor of constitutional law at American University, as well as state senator of Maryland.
Thanks for your time tonight.
STATE SEN. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: My pleasure. Happy to be with you.
UYGUR: Yes, great to have you here.
Chris Coons understated things, didn‘t he? The First Amendment does not prohibit Congress from establishing religion, does not merely separate church and state. It says Congress shall not even make any law respecting an establishment of religion. What‘s the difference there?
RASKIN: Well, that‘s right. No part of a government can make any law respecting an establishment of religion and also the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of every individual to choose his or her own religion without the state imposing another religious choice upon them.
So, you know, I guess, you know, the Republican candidate is right in this very narrow sense that the First Amendment doesn‘t explicitly say that there‘s a wall of separation between church and state. That was a phrase that Thomas Jefferson first used in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist. But what the conservatives want to say basically is anything that the government does with respect to religion is OK as long as they don‘t literally establish a church. So, that would mean it‘s OK to tax the taxpayers to give money to support particular religious dominations or religious activities or prayer in the schools, the kinds of things that they want to push.
And so, really, they‘ve been attacking Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the founders of the Constitution who really did believe in a radical separation of church and state. That was the whole meaning of the First Amendment and really the most revolutionary thing about the American Constitution.
UYGUR: What would Thomas Jefferson know about the Constitution, anyway?
And by the way, she went further. She said, establishment of—that we cannot establish religion in the First Amendment, come on. So, she got it completely and utterly wrong.
But let‘s go further here to the core of this here. How revolutionary an idea was that at the time when the Founding Fathers said we shall not have a state religion?
RASKIN: Well, and look, the glory of the American Constitution, you know, beyond the separation of powers which it appeared before in other places or due process, which it appeared before in other places was the radical break from centuries of fusion of church and state in Europe. And this history of Holy Wars, the Catholics fighting the Protestants, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witchcraft trials, the rack and the screws and torture of people because of their religious views.
The American Enlightenment revolutionaries wanted to break from that violent history of religious conflict which they were fleeing in Europe, and so wrote into the First Amendment these incredible principles that there will be no establishment of religion here and every person would be guaranteed a liberty of conscience to make his or her own choices to worship how he or she pleases or not at all, as many of the founders indeed chose not to do. Many of them were, you know, described as heretics and deists and infidels, and Thomas Jefferson was, you know, considered a radical and Jacobin because of his skepticism towards organized religion.
And in the truth, the Constitution doesn‘t mention the word God. Article VI says there should be no religious test for public office. And our founders wanted to create a society that was safe for religion and for people to practice religion freely. But that meant no religion could come to dominate government and oppress everybody else.
UYGUR: Jamie, real quick. I mean, this is not a matter of dispute, is it? I mean, every once in a while you‘ll see these conservatives say, oh, you know, some of the Founding Fathers really believed in God and hence, we must be right. I mean, is this something that‘s disputed in law, in legal circles? Or is it something that‘s absolutely clear, these guys, the Founding Fathers clearly said in the Constitution and meant we shall not establish a religion and that there should be a separation of church and state?
RASKIN: I mean, if you ask me, it‘s perfectly clear. Now, you know, I got to say, Justice Thomas, for example, takes a very pinched view of the Establishment Clause where he basically says not only does it mean only that you can‘t establish a religion the way that the Anglican Church is established. You know, we have a Church of England. But only Congress cannot establish the church.
There are those who take the position—and I think Justice Thomas is still one of them—who believe that it‘s OK for states to establish their own churches. That is the mainstream view. That‘s not the pervasive view.
But, you know, the Republican nominee in Delaware does speak for a right wing position which is that the whole wall of separation understanding of the Constitution, which goes back to the Founders, is something that‘s been imposed by Thomas Jefferson and Madison and by other radical Jacobins.
RASKIN: So, you know, they‘re basically still fighting a civil conflict that goes back to the beginning of the American republic and they‘re contesting what the values of the country are. But what‘s made us a great country, if you think about us versus, you know, the people that we‘re dealing with in the Islamic world, is that we don‘t believe in theocracy. We don‘t believe in an imposition of a religion where everybody‘s got to follow what the state is saying.
UYGUR: At least we brought some people together. Conservative right wingers here maybe agree with the conservative government of Saudi Arabia. There‘s some positive out of this.
RASKIN: Well, there‘s a lot of theocracy on the march all around the world.
UYGUR: Oh, unfortunately, there is. Jamie Raskin, professor of constitutional law at American University—thank you so much for your time tonight.
RASKIN: Pleasure‘s mine.
UYGUR: Now, let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior political editor for “Huffington Post” as well.
Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Look, even O‘Donnell has already been written off politically, Howard, do her views speak poorly of the people who elected her, namely the Tea Party voters?
FINEMAN: Yes. It probably doesn‘t help the Tea Party at all. I mean, I suppose you could argue that having Christine O‘Donnell around and speaking the way she did today makes Sharron Angle look like Doris Kearns Goodwin or something. But it—you know, that‘s the only way she might be useful as a point of contrast.
And what‘s really killing here, what‘s damning here is that the Tea Party is run in the name of rights and freedom. And all of those rights and freedoms are enshrined in the very amendments that she seems totally ignorant of. So that‘s really the crushing contrast here.
UYGUR: Well, you know, they always seem to say that they care so much about the Constitution. But other than the Second Amendment and this bizarre theory on the Tenth Amendment, I never really honestly saw them give a damn. I mean, when Bush was running over the Fourth Amendment, when we still have warrantless wiretaps, I‘ve never seen them protest that.
Have they—have you seen them protest anything outside of those or care about anything outside those two amendments?
FINEMAN: No, not really, except that the whole sort of the mood music, the theme music, if you will, of the Tea Party is: don‘t tread on me. And don‘t trample on my rights. And that‘s a big part of what the Bill of Rights is all about, and they were enshrined and made applicable to all the states and to all citizens by the post-Civil War amendments.
And you know, they are some of the amendments that they‘re also questioning right now, because the 14th Amendment basically says that everyone here who‘s born here, naturalized here, is a citizen of the United States and their rights cannot be abridged by any of the states. And yet, the sort of local orientation of the Tea Party, you heard Christine O‘Donnell talk about local option what the local people want to do. You know, that‘s—that‘s something that is protected by the 14th Amendment.
UYGUR: Yes. I love that argument. I love the Constitution and I‘d like to repeal the 14th Amendment.
UYGUR: It doesn‘t make much sense to me. But, Howard—
FINEMAN: The Civil War was—that was sort of what the Civil War was about.
UYGUR: Yes, I think we had a war over that. That‘s right.
So, now, real quick, though, let‘s pick a religion, because if we‘re going to establish a religion, and there‘s to separation of church and state, we got to pick one, right? Is it going to be Episcopalian? Southern Baptist? Mormon maybe, backed Harry Reid, Mitt Romney?
FINEMAN: I think there‘s an answer to this question, Cenk. It‘s the Aqua Buddha religion of Rand Paul when he was in college. I think we‘re all going to—
UYGUR: It‘s not a bad answer. I hadn‘t thought of that.
FINEMAN: Well, we‘re all going to have to be worshipping Aqua Buddha after the Tea Party takes charge.
UYGUR: Right. Because I presume they‘re not going with Islam.
That‘s probably out. But—
FINEMAN: Probably out. But Aqua Buddha, keep your eye on that one.
UYGUR: OK, I will.
UYGUR: All right. Howard Fineman, senior editor for the “Huffington Post”—thanks for joining us.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, who‘s telling Hispanics not to vote in Nevada? Coming up: who‘s behind the push to keep Latino voters at home to teach Democrats a lesson? Two words for you: swift boat.
The midterms are just two weeks away, the most expensive in history, with secret money funding ads across the nation. What‘s the White House‘s final push strategy, and what‘s their strategy after the election? Will they fight back against the Republicans? The president‘s senior adviser, David Axelrod, joins us.
And looking for a way to spend the gold Glenn Beck‘s got you buying?
But if there‘s nothing to buy in the end times—he‘s thought of that.
It‘s food insurance. Wait until you get a load of this latest scheme.
UYGUR: The mama grizzly approves of him. She‘s just not sure where he‘s from. Why the thrilla from Wasilla had to repudiate her own tweet.
He was a no-show at the debate, possibly because no handcuffs were allowed. And that army is looking into security detail activities. What did they do wrong now?
UYGUR: It‘s bad enough that the Supreme Court is basically sanctioned unlimited spending on campaign ads by donors who don‘t have to identify themselves, and that these ads are chockfull of misinformation and lies.
Still, conservative groups have not stopped there. In our fourth story, the latest is a voter suppression effort, a political advertisement that encourages Latino voters not to vote.
The Republican 527 group responsible for it called Latinos for Rich Republicans—oh, I‘m sorry, that‘s Latinos for Reform, had purchased an $80,000 ad from Univision. But Univision has now refused to air it. Quoting, a Univision spokesperson, “Univision will not be running any spots from Latinos for Reform related to voting. Univision prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote.”
But the ad from the conservative 527 group encourages just the opposite.
Here‘s the end of the English version.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Don‘t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don‘t vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The Spanish version of the ad was intended to sway Nevada Latinos not to vote. Gee, I wonder why they don‘t want Latinos voting. Could it be because the Republican Party has lost the Latino vote? If they‘re not going to vote for you, make sure they don‘t vote at all—classy strategy.
But the man behind the ad, the conservative political consultant, Robert De Posada, has said that this—has said this about Republican senatorial candidate Sharron Angle. Quote, “I can‘t ask people to support a Republican candidate who has taken a completely irresponsible and bordering on racist position on immigration.”
But funny enough, the ad shows nothing but Democrats—and not just the Nevada candidate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but also President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Maxine Waters—I don‘t know what she‘s doing in a Nevada ad—and California Senator Barbara Boxer.
Mr. De Posada is connected with a host of conservative or Republican causes. He was co-director on Americans for Border and Economic Security with Dick Armey. He served as director of Hispanic affairs at the RNC. And Latinos for Reform also shares an address, a post office box, with Susan Arceneaux, one of the people behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That organization you may recall was the one that trashed 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry with lies about his service in Vietnam.
But Mr. De Posada claims that there is no connection. Of course not. In 2008, he says, “Because the laws were so strange, we hired a political compliance company that handled our reporting and accounting.” Well, that was Arceneaux. And during that time, Swift Vote Veterans for Truth used her P.O. box, he says.
What a wonderful coincidence!
Now, let‘s bring in the director for immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, Clarissa Martinez.
Thank you for your time tonight.
CLARISSA MARTINEZ, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR LA RAZA: Thank you for having me.
UYGUR: All right. Let me start with this—is it a good idea if you want political power in this country to not vote?
MARTINEZ: Absolutely not. It‘s clear to all of us that the only way you can make is to stand up and be counted. Not only are efforts to tell anyone to stay home un-American, but we have to acknowledge that too many people fought too hard and too long to give the rest of us the right to vote, no matter what gender, ethnicity, or race you are. So there‘s no other word to describe an effort that attempts to have voters stay home than un-American.
UYGUR: All right. Now, do you think there‘s any chances of real frustration from the Democratic side or any side? That says, hey, wait a minute now, the Democrats didn‘t deliver, so maybe we should sit this one out? Or do you think it‘s just a Republican trick here to make sure Latinos don‘t vote?
MARTINEZ: Look, there is no question Latino voters, like many other Americans, are frustrated with lack of progress on a number of issues. Where it comes to immigration, in particular, given the promises from the president, the number of deportations that are splitting families apart, we are frustrated and we want Democrats to push harder.
But frankly, as a community, we have also seen a united brick wall on the Republican side when in the past, there used to be collaboration and bipartisan work. We believe that in order for us to make progress, we have to hold and keep the pressure on both parties. Staying home is not going to do that.
UYGUR: And so, what do you do, though? Because that‘s a tricky question. Now, if you think you‘ve lost the Republicans and they‘re not voting in your interests—if you think that—and the Democrats are not pushing forward—well, how do you push them? How to you make change happen?
MARTINEZ: Well, the first thing I should say, in regard to this particular episode regarding Nevada, is that frankly, if you wanted to tap Latino frustration over lack of progress on immigration, it‘s just ludicrous that you would run this ad in that state. After all, Harry Reid, there are plenty of Democrats out there who might be sitting on the sidelines on this issue, but Harry Reid is not one of them. If you have a bone to pick with him on his positions, you should do so, but that‘s not what this ad is doing.
And in order to—what to do in this case, I think the clearest choice for Latinos is that we are seeing a lot of demonization of our community. And that growing alarm may mean November for us is an opportunity to vote for respect and for candidates who are going to denounce the demonization of this or any other community. They should be able to stand for what they believe on the issues without attacking one community or another.
UYGUR: All right. Clarissa Martinez from the National Council of La Raza—thank you so much for your time tonight.
MARTINEZ: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, how do you prepare for the future in the world of Beck? You start with gold. Then you need beef stroganoff—for real. We‘re not kidding. Coming up: your first taste of food insurance.
If you ever want to start your own political party, we have your inspiration. No, it‘s not the handle bar, mutton chop party. “Oddball” is next.
UYGUR: Coming up: White House senior adviser David Axelrod.
First, the tweet of the day from Keith Olbermann. “Holy crap, I forgot to leave a tweet of the day for Cenk.” Thanks. I appreciate that.
OK. Let‘s play “Oddball.”
UYGUR: We begin in Mexico City. Hola! For the “Oddball” big thing of the week. This week , it‘s the world‘s largest enchilada coming in at 230 feet long and 3,100 pounds. They‘re definitely thinking outside the bun here.
Next time you hear someone saying they‘re going for the whole enchilada, this is what they‘re talking about. In fact, Joe Biden was overheard telling the president, this is one big F-ing enchilada.
Finally, to Hempstead, New York, for last night‘s gubernatorial debate. The lineup included Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, the former Manhattan madame, Kristin Davis, the Tea Party‘s favorite e-mailer Carl Paladino. You know with a crowd like that, there were going to be some fireworks. But one candidate stole the show. Ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy McMillan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY MCMILLAN, NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I represent the Rent is Too Damn High Party. People were working eight hours a day and 40 hours a week and some a third job.
The people I‘m here to represent can‘t afford to pay their rent. They‘re being laid off right now as I speak. They can‘t eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Listen, someone‘s stomach or child‘s stomach just growled. Did you hear it? You got to listen like me. It‘s all about jobs, jobs. I want my own cable company. I want my own telephone company. I want my own power plant. I‘ll invite all these gentlemen into my office when I get into Albany. And we‘ll sit down and have a coffee. I like to have coffee.
As a karate expert, I will not talk about anyone up here.
If you want to marry a shoe, I‘ll marry you.
It all boils down to one thing, rent, it‘s too damn high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Were you listening? Were you listening? I heard it. I heard it. I love this guy, the gloves, the mustache. Did he say he wants his own power plant? That‘s awesome. Someone get the man a power plant. And a razor. He needs to police that mustache.
On the other hand, he does have a good point about the rent. Mr. McMillan will be on “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell tonight. He is apparently going to tell Lawrence that Jim DeMint started the recession.
Coming up, why did the White House spend two years reaching out to Republicans when Republicans wouldn‘t reach back? White House senior adviser David Axelrod joins me to answer that and more.
UYGUR: Thanks to the Supreme Courts Citizens United verdict this will be the most expensive midterm election in history. The independent watchdog Sunlight Foundation today put together a couple charts to demonstrate where this money is coming from. This is a 2006 midterm pie chart. Looks like Pac Man. The DPL representing spending by party committees, that‘s money you could trace. The light yellow is money from outside interest groups.
This year, it looks like the ghosts have caught Pac Man and he‘s dying, as outside special interest groups flood the market with money, more than 100 million dollars spent to date, compared to 25 million dollars at this point four years ago.
You have to wonder why some people are so excited about being able to fund elections and politicians without getting identified or caught. Among the groups spending on behalf of Republicans this year are Karl Road‘s Cross Roads GPS. My guess is not a lot of that money will go towards Democratic candidates. And the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is giving 90 percent of its donations to Republicans.
Neither group is required to disclose their donors. That‘s a lot of secret money going toward the Republican party. Both groups represent what the White House calls, quote, “a threat to democracy.”
In our third story, let‘s talk to somebody from the White House.
Actually not just somebody, White House senior adviser David Axelrod. Mr.
Axelrod, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.
DAVID AXELROD, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Cenk, good to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. I want to ask you about an article in “Politico.” Ben Smith wrote that you guys are practices unilateral disarmament when it comes to accepting outside help from 527s, whereas the Republicans are getting flooded by that outside help. Does he have a valid point there?
AXELROD: First of all, the president of the United States is not—can‘t raise money for outside groups. We have raised money for our party committees, for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Senate Campaign Committee, the DNC. We‘ve raised record amounts of money for those groups. Were it just a competition between the parties and the candidates, then we would be doing well.
But what‘s happened now, as you point out, is this flood of outside money, which we all suspect but can‘t pinpoint is coming from the very interest groups that we‘ve been battling over the last two years on financial reform, on health insurance reform, to hold oil companies accountable when they—when they spill and so on. And the Empire‘s striking back. And they‘re striking back with a vengeance.
UYGUR: None of the Republicans voted for the Disclose Act when it was introduced a little while ago. It looks like you‘re going to have an even less friendly Congress come January. How do you plan to fight back or change the system at all if the Republicans aren‘t going to play ball? You just don‘t have a lot of votes in your favor after January.
AXELROD: You‘re absolutely right. We passed a bill through the House that would have required all these groups to disclose where the money is coming from, whether it‘s coming from insurance companies or Wall Street or anywhere else, and whether they supported Democrats or Republicans, because sunlight is the greatest disinfectant and this represented an assault on campaign finance laws, and on—ultimately on our democracy, as you point out.
The Republicans in the Senate voted unanimously, 41 to block an up or down vote. We have the votes to pass it in the Senate. To a person, the Republicans voted to keep these contributions secret. You know, this is going to be an ongoing battle, Cenk. We can‘t simply let it go.
UYGUR: David, that goes to the critical question after the election, which is, look, they‘re not going to agree to any of your proposals. You didn‘t get a single vote on any of them in the first few years. You‘re not going to get a single vote, it appears, based on the track record here, in the second two years. Right?
So then you‘re presented with a question of are you going to accept some Republican proposals or are you going to fight back? Which one will it be?
AXELROD: First of all, let me say we did get enough Republican support on some of these measures to pass them. It was painstaking. It was difficult. You know, I‘ll give you an example. We spent months trying to pass a bill to help small businesses in this country with eight different tax cuts and a lending facility, because their great problem is getting capital. It finally took two Republican senators who were leaving to support that to break a filibuster and allow us to pass that bill.
So we have had some support. But it‘s been—but it‘s been hard to get. Our feeling is that if we can find common ground, we will find common ground. What we won‘t do is compromise fundamental principles. I think the American people want us to work together, but they don‘t want us to work together at the cost of fighting for the things that we know are important to rebuild the middle class, to get our economy moving again. And that‘s something we won‘t do.
UYGUR: You know, to the point of unilateral disarmament, as you guys reached down throughout these last few years, it seemed to a lot of people that you didn‘t get to push your message. For example, “the New York Times” just has a story out today that less than 10 percent of Americans know that they got a tax cut, you know, through the stimulus package. Among other things, almost nobody knows about the 40 billion dollars you saved through the student lending program.
Did you take credit for the wrong things, whether it was health care reform, which is not very popular now? Or did you not insist on enough credit? Or was there a problem in messaging here, as you try to reach out to Republicans and didn‘t really fight back on some of these issues that you think you should have gotten credit for?
AXELROD: Maybe we just need more people listening to your radio show, Cenk, and they‘d get the true facts. Look, I think the real issue is that we were faced with an economic crisis the proportions of which we haven‘t seen since the Great Depression. We had to take a series of steps very, very quickly.
Let‘s take the tax cut, for example. Yes, the political advice—and I‘m a political adviser—was how do you get credit for that? What George Bush did was he sent everybody a check, and made sure they knew that it was as a result of George Bush‘s action that they were getting this tax cut. Our economic advisers said that it would not be as efficient economically to send the money that way. To do it through withholding would get the money into our system quickly—quicker, and would help restore the economic growth more rapidly.
That, of course, was our principle concern. If we‘re guilty of something, I would say we‘re guilty of focusing on the job we were elected to do and perhaps not focusing enough on how we got credit for the job that we were doing. But that was a consequence, to some degree, of the times in which we were chosen to govern. We didn‘t have the luxury of spending a great deal of time touting our—tooting our horn and doing victory laps. We had one after another serious issue to deal with. And we‘ve dealt with them. And we want to continue to move the country forward.
They want to take it back to the policies that created the mess. And that‘s, of course, the issue for people on November 2nd.
UYGUR: I‘m going to insist on this point one last time, David. You know, in the last two years, as you know, you reached out to Republicans. Unfortunately, that didn‘t allow you to make your case as forcefully as they were making it. I mean, you have some people on the other side calling you guys Maoists and socialists and Marxists. Whereas it seems like you kept reaching out and reaching out. Is there a recognition in the White House that that strategy was wrong?
AXELROD: Well, like I said, our fundamental—our fundamental mission was to move the country forward. I don‘t think it was wrong to pass health insurance reform. I don‘t think the millions of people with pre-existing medical conditions who are now going to be able to get coverage think it was wrong. I don‘t think the people who are being thrown off insurance, or were because they are seriously ill, think it was wrong, or the senior citizens who are getting more help with their prescription drugs.
I don‘t think it was wrong to push financial reform. And—so that people don‘t get cheated on their credit cards with hidden fees and penalties. Those were all important victories for the American people.
And no, I think that we were right to push those. And I think—you ask about credit. The important thing is that we move this country forward. We‘re governing still at a difficult time. The aftermath of these disastrous policies that were in place before we got here that created this mess is being felt still all over the country. So people are less interested in politicians grabbing credit for what they‘ve done, and they‘re more interested in seeing us move forward. That‘s what we want to do.
UYGUR: David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama. We really want to thank you for your time.
AXELROD: Thank you. Great to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. Thank you.
He‘s met the future, and it is freeze dried. Why has Beck transferred his affections from cold hard currency to cold hard food?
Plus, Joe Miller says he won‘t answer personal questions. But now he‘s not answering any. Why he skipped a debate.
When Rachel joins us at the top of the hour, a look at the midterms and money with former McCain/Palin adviser Nicole Wallace.
UYGUR: As the Tea Party candidates tell it, the minimum wage is bad. So is financial regulation. Meanwhile, in our number two story, the kind of person they‘re fighting for, part of the people responsible for the country‘s financial mess, just struck a deal with the government and got a slap on the wrist.
First, more fallout from the incident involving Joe Miller‘s security detail. They were handcuffing a journalist at a public school, as you remember. As we reported on this news hour, Tony Hopfinger of the “Alaska Dispatch,” sought comment from Miller regarding a recent claim that Miller had been disciplined when he was a borough attorney in 2008. Miller now acknowledging he was disciplined for violating an ethics policy, but claims the situation was not as extreme as everyone made it out to be.
In fact, the so-called event he was disciplined for, he says, happened over his lunch hour. Everyone knows if you break the law during your lunch hour, it doesn‘t really count. Conveniently, Miller skipped a candidate debate moderated by the “Alaska Dispatch.”
Meanwhile, “The Anchorage Daily News” reporting that two of the guards from the security firm Drop Zone who assisted in Mr. Hopfinger‘s arrest were active duty soldiers. An Army spokesman in Alaska says the two did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for Drop Zone. And the Army is looking into the matter.
No charges will be filed against Mr. Hopfinger, of course, because he didn‘t do anything wrong, or the security detail, which is curious. And if Miller was seeking public support from another Alaskan, she was too busy giving her seal of approval to senatorial candidate John Raese of West Virginia.
Great news for Mr. Raese, had Mrs. Palin not confused the state for another. “Pennsylvania makes sense 2 send GOP 2 D.C. 2 avoid PA economic disaster that will occur under Obama/Pelosi cap & tax scheme. Workers need Raese.”
Here‘s the only problem: Raese‘s running in West Virginia. Oops. Palin deleted the first Tweet, now Tweeting again, she referenced both West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Palin then tweeted yet again. Mr. Raese will be a great candidate for pretty much, quote, “all energy producing states.”
Oh, come on. That‘s the worst back pedal ever. Raese, who runs the family business, Grier Industries, a limestone and steel producer, believes he‘s just an old-fashioned kind of guy. And by old-fashioned he means lobbying on behalf of the super rich.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RAESE ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN WEST VIRGINIA: Well, I made my money the old-fashioned way. I inherited it. And I think it‘s a great thing to do. I hope more people in this country have that opportunity as soon as we abolish inheritance tax in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That‘s fantastic. Yeah, I‘d like that opportunity, too, if I could just find a really rich grandma like Raese had. Raese was apparently seeking to give voice to a very small few. Last year, 99.75 percent of all Americans were not affected by the estate tax, because they inherited less than 3.5 million dollars.
Raese‘s own worth, as the “Charleston Daily Mail” reports, could be as much as 79 million dollars. The median income in West Virginia just 38,000 dollars a year.
Which brings us to Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide. He‘d given deals to lawmakers of both parties with his so-called Friends of Angelo program. This week, justice was served for Mr. Mozilo, charged with insider trading and securities fraud. No trial, no jail time, just a fine, 67.5 million dollars fine, which is to most people a lot of money. But for Mozilo, who reportedly made half a billion dollars presiding over a mortgage firm that created the subprime mess, it was just like a parking ticket.
In the last three years of his rein alone, he made over 260 million dollars, even after he knew products they were selling were toxic, according to his own e-mails. Where do I get that deal? You steal 260 million dollars from a bank, and the government is proud that they got 67 of it back.
Well, he gets that deal in an environment where one political party is pushing so hard for deregulation that takes the cops off the street—Wall Street in this case—and lets the robbers run the place. Tea Party for the rich, what a populist movement.
All right now, he‘s asked you to buy gold. Now your paper money must be used one more time for this: food insurance. We go live in the bunker next.
UYGUR: When the world as we know it comes to an end, and the world is run by damn dirty apes, or God unleashes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or the zombies take over the city—whatever the case may be, Glenn Beck wants you to know that your silly paper money will have no value. Only gold will.
In tonight‘s number one story, what if your gold is no good? Because there is no one to buy the gold from you. That‘s a good question. You can‘t eat gold, after all. So what will you eat when the worst happens? Fortunately, another Glenn Beck advertiser has the answer, food insurance.
Why buy food insurance from a man who doesn‘t want you to have health insurance? The answer, to quote Rudy Giuliani, is a noun, a verb and 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hi. I‘m in my office in New York City, which is a crazy town. And if you look through this window where I sit, you can see the Chrysler building. And this building over here obviously is the Empire State Building out of that window. It took me a long time sitting in this office to get used to seeing the planes fly by these buildings, because you used to be able to see the World Trade Center from this office.
We live in a crazy world. I live in a nuts town, where anything can happen. Whether that‘s a natural disaster, hurricane or a man-made disaster, you just want to be able to have some peace of mind.
First of all, food insurance. This is something that my staff has, my family has. They‘re backpacks. You open up the backpacks and inside the backpacks is everything you need in case the world goes to heck in a hand basket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Crazy world made a little crazier by Glenn Beck. “Talking Points Memo” reports the survival kits include freeze dried food, but not just any old food, lasagna and beef stroganoff. If you‘re going through the Apocalypse, the first you‘re going to want is beef stroganoff. My dog just melted, the entire neighborhood is on fire, but on the up side, I have stroganoff. The other upside, your neighbors will be dying to come over.
But I do have one question, how do you make food deliveries in the middle of the apocalypse?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Do the easy stuff now. Prepare yourself for what we all hope won‘t happen, but probably will if you‘re not prepared. Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: We are proud to be joined tonight by a newfound fan of food insurance. Of course, we cannot divulge his identity for fear that marauding tribes and feral children will find his secret bunker and pillage his food supplies and precious bodily fluids. We thank you very much for joining us.
FRANK CONNIFF, CCOMEDIAN: Cenk, enchanted.
UYGUR: The first thing I have to ask is it seems OK outside now. I
know there‘s a bug going around, but not actually aware of any reason you should be in a bunker, let alone living off of freeze dried emergency food supplies. Why did you go underground?
CONNIFF: Are you kidding? Out there it‘s as if chaos, anarchy and pandemonium are having a three way. It‘s crazy out there.
UYGUR: Can you be a little bit more specific? What‘s so chaotic right now?
CONNIFF: There‘s complete uncertainty. We have total uncertainty right now. I mean, do you want to live in a world where people making over 250,000 dollars a year are not going to get a tax cut? I don‘t. It‘s so toxic—I can‘t even breathe, I‘m sorry.
UYGUR: That three percent is dangerous. Sounds like you‘re a longtime friend of Glenn Beck‘s.
CONNIFF: Yes, longtime fan, first time forager. I just want to do my part to restore honor to America by hoarding my own freeze dried beef stroganoff.
UYGUR: While the rest of the world scrambles for scraps. Do you see this as an idea that‘s maybe transferable to other areas of life?
CONNIFF: Not really. Look, insurance for the Apocalypse, though, it‘s a lot more sensible than, I don‘t know, health insurance for actual everyday normal life.
UYGUR: So you like Beck‘s plan here?
CONNIFF: Like it? I love it. I know Beck has his critics, but when
you put the two systems side by side with, say, Jenny Craig‘s post Apocalyptic food system, his is much better. Look at Jenny Craig‘s. A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a sensible canonistic dinner made from the flesh of those who failed to head Beck‘s warning.
UYGUR: All right. Well, you know what, it‘s been a pleasure having you on. I want to thank you very much unnamed post-apocalyptic customer of FoodInsurance.com.
CONNIFF: That‘s my actual name actually.
UYGUR: You might also be known as TV‘s Frank of “Mystery Science
Theater 3000,” currently of “Cinematic Titanic,” which performs in Boston on October 29th. Of course, if we make it that far.
CONNIFF: You revealed too much already.
UYGUR: All right. Thank you.
Now, that‘s October 19th, 2010. I want to thank Keith Olbermann for letting me guest host on this show, which has been critical to opening up the conversation in this country. In the early Bush years, when we were in the wilderness, I often wrote about a show that could challenge conventional wisdom and take on the powers in Washington. This is that show. It‘s been an honor to host it today in the house that Olbermann built.
I‘m Cenk Uygur. Keith will be back tomorrow night. Now, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
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Copyright 2010 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
PASTE THE TRANSCRIPT HERE, LEAVE THE LINK