Guests: Howard Fineman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
At the start of the week that will determine if she continues in the job, the speaker of the House versus the plot to buy America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It‘s about our democracy and they give new meaning to the term “buy American.” They want to buy these elections.
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OLBERMANN: The means, Citizens United—and one of the men who saw its impact the day it was decided: Howard Fineman.
The red herring that is “voter fraud,” ballot security “election monitoring.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARMEY ®, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The Democrats are always much more active in the areas where the ballot security is reduced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How the trumped up fear of a few individuals voting without the right to do so becomes the excuse to keep thousands with the right from voting at all.
And, 32 Tea Party and Republican candidates, 29 direct quotes about policy—ranging from defunding rulings they don‘t like from the Supreme Court, to keeping the violent overthrow of democracy on the table if we do not elect them.
My “Special Comment”: Vote backwards. Vote Tea Party.
All the news and commentary—now on a special edition of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: We‘ve come to take our government back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening, from New York. It is Sunday, October 31st, two days until the 2010 midterm elections.
There are 435 congressional districts in the United States. And in our fifth story: it would appear that our first guest seems running in all of them based on the television advertisements attacking her—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a moment.
Of course, the voting has already begun and there have been numerous reports of the early voting favoring Democrats as well as poles indicating that the Republicans will make up the difference come Election Day. But spending by outside groups fueled by undisclosed donations have dominated the narrative and that is where we began with Speaker Pelosi.
OLBERMANN: As promised, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and congresswoman from the California eight congressional district, Nancy Pelosi.
It‘s good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I want to talk about the elections, obviously, but let me start with what we mentioned earlier tonight, this “New York Times” report on the Chamber of Commerce. The first, or half of the Chamber of Commerce donations in 2008 came from 45 donors, half of the total of the $149 million from 45 donors. It‘s the nation‘s largest lobbying group. It‘s essentially representing a constituency in double digits and it is all over the election without identifying who gave it its money.
Did you know that the Chamber was so concentrated towards the super rich?
PELOSI: Well, it‘s interesting because they have about 300,000 members and half of the money coming from 45 corporations. It‘s a bigger issue. It‘s about our democracy and they give new meaning to the term “buy American.” They want to buy these elections.
So, elections are always about the future. You know that, Keith.
About what is our vision for taking America forward as the president says. We‘re going forward. We‘re not going backward. We‘re fighting for the middle class.
This election is also about our democracy. If they win, which I fully intent to stop them from doing, but if they were to win, that would mean that we are a plutocracy, an oligarchy. Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda.
OLBERMANN: And because of this “Times” report, we get sort of the vague outlines of who we‘re dealing with. Prudential Financial, $2 million when the chamber was launching its offense—the offense again—or offensive against regulating Wall Street. Dow Chemical was $1.7 million as the Chamber was working against tighter regulation of chemical facilities. Similar stories for Goldman Sachs, for Chevron Texaco, for Edward Jones Brokerage.
How do we fix our laws after that Supreme Court decision so that we‘re no longer prey to companies that are blocking our attempts to improve this country?
PELOSI: Well, first, let me just say, as you read those names, it‘s clear that there are those on Wall Street who want to block Wall Street reform—some of the greatest reforms in decades and for consumer protections, the biggest in our nation‘s history.
There are those who want to stop our creating good, clean energy jobs. You see energy and chemical companies who want to stop that.
PELOSI: So, they have an agenda that is counter to the reforms that we have put forth. What we have to do is say to them, stand by your ad. You‘re so proud of yourself, identify yourself.
PELOSI: And that‘s what the DISCLOSE Act in Congress would have done. We have passed it in the House. There are 59 votes in the Senate. We couldn‘t get one Republican to say, disclosure is the right thing to do.
The court made a terrible decision. It was contrary to the fundamentals of our democracy. But at least people should be able to know where this money is coming from.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, the first step towards that is getting this message out. You‘ve spoken extensively about it. The president has spoken extensively about it. We‘ve reported about it, whenever there was something new and worthwhile to report.
Has the message gotten through is the message I‘ve gotten through in time for the midterms?
PELOSI: Well, first let me say, the president mentioned this in the State of the Union address. So, this goes back a long way. That was very, I think, important for him to do. And he, again, has kept that beat going.
Because it is essential and fundamental to our democracy that we not have it be wholly owned subsidiary of these corporations.
PELOSI: And as part of the Chamber of Commerce. But as far as the message coming through, our members who are getting hit seven to one, just brutal in terms of these negative ads that are going out there. And I might add: some of them—one of the secret organizations is asking the Hispanic community not to vote.
PELOSI: To depress the vote. And the impact of some of these ads, they‘re so on negative, is to depress the vote.
So, again, this is a—this is a real challenge to our democracy. And members are getting the word forward. But it‘s important to make the link. It‘s not just that Wall Street is contributing to whatever political beliefs they have. They are stopping Wall Street—they want to stop Wall Street reform.
The Republicans have been very clear. If they take office, they will not allow funding to go forth to implement new reforms. Same thing with energy companies, same thing with health insurance companies. The list goes on and on.
And so, you have to make the link. Not only are they weighing in. What did I see today that perhaps $7 million was contributed by the swift boaters?
OLBERMANN: To the two Rove‘s PAC, yes.
PELOSI: To Rove‘s PAC.
PELOSI: Again, we have a distortion of our democratic system. So, this is not just about the election but our future. It‘s an election about our future and our democracy.
OLBERMANN: All right. And in this election, will there be a political upset on November 2nd? And how would you define upset?
PELOSI: Well, let me say that—I have always though, remain calm. I‘d rather be in our position than the Republicans‘ position. Our members are battle-ready. They believe in what they voted for. They‘re proud of it. They‘re fighting for it.
They‘ve all come—the ones who are under challenge have come from very difficult districts. So, they know how to win those districts.
OLBERMANN: The former president spoke in Chicago today. He said his greatest failure as president was not passing as he called it, Social Security reform. The softball is headed your way. And you can pick which favorite member of the San Francisco Giants you‘d like to pretend to be as you swing on it. Please give me your response to that.
PELOSI: Well, I thank the president for validating the point that we made during the campaign, because when we were saying that the president initiated the idea that he wanted to privatize Social Security, people said we were exaggerating, we were fearmongers and the rest and it wasn‘t really so. But we stayed our course.
He gave us a gift then and he‘s the gift that keeps on giving. He‘s giving us a gift now because he‘s proving the point. That‘s what he intended to do.
I remember during the course of that campaign, I was speaking with him at one of our breakfasts—leadership breakfasts. I said, Mr. President, I understand you‘re going to 60 cities in, I don‘t know how many days to talk about your welfare reform. I want you to go to 120 days, because when you go there, we will be inoculating before you get there, educating after you leave and making the distinction that Social Security as a pillar of our security for our seniors and American people. And we will make that differentiation.
Now, he‘s—and, you know, after it was over and we‘ve won, I said, “Mr. President, the results are in.” And he said, “Actually, I achieved my goal. I really wanted to call attention to the situation.”
OLBERMANN: OK. Well, he also has provided something else during this campaign, that perhaps—there‘s been a lot of criticism that the Democrats did not take—and, obviously, the House doesn‘t operate in a vacuum. But the Democrats did not take enough advantage over this—what the polling suggests it was a winning position: Bush tax cuts for the rich and if you want to call them Democratic tax cuts for everybody else. And yet, the House adjourned without having a vote on this.
Why did you—why did you—to the degree you let that happen, why did you let that happen?
PELOSI: Well, we could have taken the vote and we would have known. But knowing the distortion that the Republicans would have applied to that, I said, they‘re going to be political. We‘re not giving it. We know what our position is.
And, by the way, it‘s a tax cut for everyone. It‘s just not an additional tax cut—
PELOSI: -- for the people at the top 2 percent in our country. Everybody gets the tax cut. Just—they don‘t get more at the top 2 percent.
So, knowing how they would distort it, the president‘s clear in his campaign. The president is clear in his message about that.
It would cost $700 billion to give an extra tax cut to the people at the top 2 percent -- $700 billion added to the deficit with no performance. You know, in other words, when that happened before, it did not produce jobs.
PELOSI: And speaking of jobs, I want to say—because I think everybody should know that in the first eight months of 2010, did you know, that more private sector jobs were created under the Obama administration, Democratic Congress, and the ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people—more private sector jobs were created in the first eight months of 2010 than in the eight years of the Bush administration.
OLBERMANN: Let me close with this last question: Do you expect to be speaker of the House in January 2011?
PELOSI: The Democrats intend to win. What‘s important is that we have a Democratic majority to protect what we have done, something very big, health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege; Wall Street reform, to give more leverage to working families in our country, affordability for college education.
They want to reverse this and our Democratic victory will prevent that.
It‘s about the future, moving America forward, not going back to the failed policies of the past, which they said they would do, the same exact agenda. And now, it‘s about saving our democracy from those who want to buy it.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—always greatest thanks to your for doing that and safe travels in the next 12 days.
PELOSI: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: My interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her key point that the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove‘s American Crossroads GPS, the countless groups with nameless donors are changing the meaning of “buy American.” They want to buy the American election.
What Citizens United has done to American democracy—next.
OLBERMANN: The plot to buy America is not all about money or philosophy. Sometimes, it‘s just vengeance. His group‘s banker is being prosecuted by Jack Conway in Kentucky. So, his group rolled out $1 million worth of ads attacking Jack Conway in Kentucky.
And they want to take America back all right, back to 1939 or 1857 or 1789. My “Special Comment” on what a vote for the Tea Party means for America—ahead.
OLBERMANN: In the past week, the last week leading up to Election Day, we‘ve seen several stories emerge that slam home just how corrosive one Supreme Court ruling has been on the firewalls American democracy has relied upon to ensure that our elections cannot be bought—bought by a flood of anonymous millionaires—millionaires spreading smears and lies against any who stand in the way of them getting more money. The truth and their identities not it to see the light of day until it‘s too late.
Our fourth story tonight: What the Supreme Court said would not happen when it opened the doors for unlimited secret spending has happened, when a split Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case. Justice Kennedy justified the ruling by writing, quote, “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosures of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporation and elected officials accountable.”
What I said at that time was that the Citizens United ruling would change democracy as we knew it. Here‘s what my next guest, Howard Fineman, said about my assessment then.
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HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have a confession to make. Sometimes I think you get a little turbo-charged, shall we say, about an issue.
FINEMAN: I think you‘re understating this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I didn‘t know where he was going with that.
Case in point, though, Karl Rove‘s group Crossroads pouring more than $1 million into Kentucky, into ads that have been refuted by nonpartisan groups, in order to defeat Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway.
Where is that million coming from? All we know is that the Crossroads bank is located not in Washington, but in Lexington, Kentucky. It‘s a bank run by this man, Terry Forcht, a right wing millionaire whose many businesses include a nursing home now being prosecuted for covering up the sexual abuse of an 88-year-old resident, prosecuted by the state‘s attorney general, Jack Conway, who was therefore unable to comment on all of this.
This is what Citizens United now allows, the pursuit of private agendas mostly but exclusively financial, behind the cloak of politics.
The biggest such cloak, of course, still belongs to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. What do they want?
At their annual summit on tort reform this week, the Chamber called for weaker laws against American companies bribing foreign officials. And president, Tom Donohue, talked about pushing back against the trial bar—meaning lawyers who represent you against big companies.
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TOM DONOHUE, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: In 2008, the trial bar made a significant investment in the election and they have been working hard to get a return on that investment ever since. The trial bar is looking for a handout to further undermine the economy while lining their own pockets. You can‘t make that stuff up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But if you do make that stuff up, you just might get pushed back even from your own keynote speaker, Kenneth Feinberg, the 9/11 and BP damages paymaster, who was invited there because of his experience circumventing traditional lawsuits.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
KENNETH FEINBERG, BP GULF COAST COMPENSATION FUND ADMINISTRATOR:
I‘m a lawyer. I happen to believe that in the run-of-the-mill, everyday life in America, the legal system works pretty well. I can also cite examples like 9/11, where the victim compensation fund created by Congress only succeeded because the trial bar helped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Coming full circle on this with us, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, senior political editor of “The Huffington Post.”
Good to see you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, of the three of us, who is as right, Justice Kennedy, who predicted transparency, and thank goodness for the Internet and the Google, me, in predicting the end of democracy, or you for saying I was understating it?
FINEMAN: I think we were all wrong. Justice Kennedy for sure. You probably because we‘re still here.
OLBERMANN: It‘s only October.
FINEMAN: It‘s only October. And I was wrong, too, because I think what we‘re seeing now is the beginning of a cycle like what we saw 100 years ago—
FINEMAN: -- when the big corporations overplayed their hand, when the McKinley era, they owned the political system lock, stock and barrel. And eventually, a guy from here New York named Teddy Roosevelt came along and said, “These are my people, this is my class, but enough.”
And I think I have enough faith in our country and democracy that what‘s going to happen is that the roves of the world are going to overplay their hand at some point. This election is not really going to be about this topic but the next election will.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Of course, to get Teddy Roosevelt into the White House, you had to have a bunch of people who put him in the vice presidency because they thought that‘s where they could keep him and contain him.
OLBERMAN: Unfortunately, an assassination is involved in that equation. Not that we want to ever see another assassination in American politics. But I mean, there are a lot of—there are a lot of very strong bulwarks that have been built since this decision that would keep the next Teddy Roosevelt from getting elected president, aren‘t there? I mean, because of Citizens United?
FINEMAN: Well, there maybe.
OLBERMANN: Would you have to be elected and then suddenly say, aha, I‘m a trust buster and rip the mask off?
FINEMAN: No, I don‘t think so. As I say, Keith, this election season, we‘re talking a lot about the money. And the money from all places, especially from the Forchtes of the world that you were discussing is important.
But the American people want to vote on the something else this time around. They want to vote on the economy and they want to vote on about their fears and for their jobs and their mortgage foreclosures, et cetera. They‘re not seeing from the beginning the connection between the economic circumstances they‘re in and the people who are supplying the money for this ad campaign. That conversation really can‘t happen with three weeks left in a midterm election.
But I think it‘s going to be incumbent upon President Obama and such Democrats are left in the Congress to say, look, let‘s unpack this a little bit. Let‘s go back a little bit here and see who‘s running this conversation, who‘s controlling the conversation and what we can really do about it—because it‘s related to what kind of country we have and what kind of economy we have.
It‘s hard to make that connection unless you start from the beginning of your presidency to do it.
FINEMAN: And don‘t forget, Barack Obama said, I‘m going to come in, I‘m going to change things because I‘m me and we‘re young and we‘re going to do it—and he took on some of the powers that be. But he didn‘t really want to be that Rooseveltian kind of guy confronting all the economic powers in America. For whatever reason, he wanted to be the guy who was going to make peace with everybody.
FINEMAN: It‘s not going to work that way the next time.
OLBERMANN: Eight of the Supreme Court justices in Citizens United said that disclosure laws were vital. It wasn‘t just Justice Kennedy. Nonprofit groups, secret donors, not supposed to be primarily political in nature. So, between that intent and the IRS and the FEC, how can Rove and the Chamber and so on and so forth get away with this even now?
FINEMAN: Well, because there‘s a lot of money involved, number one.
And as between the IRS and the FEC, there‘s a big hole.
The IRS looks at these groups from a tax lawyer point of view. OK, you‘re in this category, you‘re a not for profit group, fine.
The FEC is a wholly owned subsidiary, in my view, of the campaign industry. We‘re talking about—like most regulatory agencies in Washington. So, we‘re talking about maybe $3 billion in television advertising. They‘re going to tell half a billion of it that you can‘t play the game? I don‘t think so.
So, what the FEC said was, we‘re not going to make you disclose the donors to the 501 -- these particular type of tax-exempt groups, unless the secret money is given specifically for a single ad, which is defining away all regulation of it. So, basically, they punted. That‘s the answer to your question.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC—as always, a pleasure to see you, sir.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If the secret money is not enough to make the Republicans feel safe, they can always depend on their voter integrity squads to insure the vote is not fair, not free and not for Democrats. The return of voter fraud—next.
OLBERMANN: He wants you to believe there are secret armies of invisible Democrats try to commit voter fraud so you will not look at the Republicans‘ very real plans to insure, quote, “voter integrity.”
And she wants to believe she can threaten a radio station with a lawsuit, threaten to crash it, if the station will not do as she says.
My “Special Comment”: Tea Party America—ahead.
OLBERMANN: Despite the perpetual and aggressive efforts to prove otherwise, voter fraud is strawman pop up by Republicans every election cycle. And this year, they are joined in many instances by the Tea Party. But all you really need to know about so called anti-voter fraud efforts is that they are anti-voter and the term voter integrity might as well be code for voter intimidation. At least, Arizona has once again shown the country how not to do it. Now that the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down one of Arizona‘s laws. This one required people to provide proof of American citizenship. To register to vote, the court said, that the law conflicted with the National Voter Registration Act.
Since the offending Arizona Law was passed in 2004, few illegal immigrants tried to register to vote according to the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund. But 30,000 actual citizens have been rejected to vote under the law and there you have the template. It‘s all about intimidation of legitimate voters and the suppression of votes. Except that most anti-voters fraud efforts are even more overtly partisan. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, Tea Party organizers and related groups announced that they were offering a $500 reward for anyone who turned in a person eventually prosecuted for voter fraud is according to “The New York Times.” Organizers also announced surveillance squad to video tapes so called irregularities.
In Milwaukee, there have been protests over this billboard. We voted illegally with images of people behind bars. The Republican Party of Wisconsin says, it has no idea who put that up.
In West Virginia, Republicans had launched a large scale anti-voter fraud program. “This is strictly our effort,” said Robert Cornelius of the West Virginia GOP. “And we have what we have turned our ballot security teams will going to be out in these countries and have been out already.”
In North Carolina, two dozen complains already about intimidation by so-called poll watchers who have reportedly been standing behind registration tables which is illegal and who have been taking pictures of the license plates of curb side voters which is also illegal.
In Illinois, Republican Senatorial Candidate Mark Kirk has been criticized for declaring his intent to send voter integrity squads to African-American neighborhoods in Chicago, that is according to Washington Post. The Republican National Lawyers Association has been training lawyers for Illinois as well as for other states like Nevada. According to its Chairman David Norcross, Mr. Norcross has called voter fraud, quote, “an epidemic.” The reality is quite different.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, whose Justice Department aggressively pursued the so called voter fraud, only 95 people were ever charged. Only 55 convicted. Of those 55, fewer than 20 were convicted of casting fraudulent ballots, again according to “The New York Times.” Only five were convicted of registration fraud. But the imagery of veritable armies of ghost voters continues to escalate from the right. With Dick Armey, one of the founding representatives of the Tea Party, actually suggesting Democrats are establishing an edge in early voting due to voter fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARMEY ®, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well no. I am not surprised. This is an aberration that is born out of the fact that in early vote, there is less ballot security. The Democrats are always much more active in the areas where the ballot security is reduced. If you start focusing on this, it is pinpointed to the major urban areas, the inner city. Those areas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: What we have shown here are illustrative examples far from an exhaustive list of all these reckless charges and intimidating practices and many outside Republicans groups are devising voter integrity efforts according to Washington Post because they come under less legal scrutiny than the actual party, the Republican National Committee. Sound familiar at all?
Next, the positions and proposals of 32 different Tea Party and republican candidates and their vision of the America they want to force you to live in. My Special Comment, ahead.
OLBERMANN: Now as promised a Special Comment on the madness of the Tea Party and the elections of next Tuesday.
It is as if a group of moderately talented performers has walked on stage at a Comedy Club on Improv night. Each hears a shout from the audience, consisting of a bizarre but just barely plausible fear or hatred or neurosis or prejudice. And the entertainment of the evening is for each to take their thin, absurd premise, and build upon it, a campaign for governor or congressman or senator. The problem is, of course, when it turns out there is no audience shouting out gags, just a cabal of corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and political insider bloodsuckers like Karl Rove and Dick Armey and the Chicken Little Chorus of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
And the instructions are not to improvise a comedy sketch, but to elect a group of unqualified, unstable individuals who will do what they are told, in exchange for money and power, and march this nation as far backward as they can get, backward to Jim Crow, or backward to the breadlines of the ‘30s, or backward to hanging union organizers, or backward to the Trusts and the Robber Barons.
Result, the Tea Party. Vote backward, vote Tea Party. And if you are somehow indifferent to what is planned for next Tuesday, it is nothing short of an attempt to use Democracy to end this Democracy, to buy America wholesale and pave over the freedoms and the care we take of one another, which have combined to keep us the envy of the world. You do not think your freedom is at stake next Tuesday?
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senator from Nevada Sharron Angle jus just decried divorce and Social Security as some of this nation‘s, quote, “wicked ways.” This is Angle also compared rape to, quoting, “lemon in a lemon situation in lemonade.” She would deny an abortion even to a teenaged girl who had been raped by her own father.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate to be the only Congressman in Delaware, Glen Urquhart, said “there is no problem that abortion can‘t make worse. I know good friends who are the product of rape.” Mr. Urquhart also says, he does not believe the phrase “separation of church and state” was said by Thomas Jefferson. He thinks it was Hitler. “The next time your liberal friends ask you about the separation of church and state, ask them why they are Nazis.”
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Ohio 9th, Rich Iott, not only ran around in a Nazi uniform celebrating their military tactics, but implies he is a veteran and as late as this March listed his occupation as soldier even though the volunteer militia to which he belongs has never been called, will never be called, to any active service, in the 29 years in which he has belonged to it. Mr. Iott now claims Mr. Boehner is campaigning with him over the final days.
It‘s more than just dress-up. They mean business, literally. The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for New Jersey‘s 3rd House seat, Jon Runyan, defended corporate tax loopholes. “Loopholes are there for a reason. They are to avoid people from really having to pay too many taxes.”
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for the Senate in West Virginia, John Raese, explained, quote, “I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it. I think that‘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.” The inheritance tax applies only to estates larger than $3.5 million. For the 99.8 percent of Americans not affected by the estate tax, there is the minimum wage, which Mr. Raese also wants abolished. Or there is Social Security.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Indiana 9th, Todd Young, says “Social Security, as so many of you know is a Ponzi scheme.” The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Wisconsin 8th, Reid Ribble disagrees. Social Security “is, in fact, a Ponzi scheme.”
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Arizona 8th, Jesse Kelly, wants to resurrect President Bush‘s scam to transform Social Security into private investment accounts so the government can force you to spend part of your paycheck on Wall Street commissions, and so that market manipulators can wipe out your retirement money.
The Republican candidate in the Wisconsin 1st, Congressman Paul Ryan, has a more sophisticated plan. Personal investment Social Security, guaranteed dollar for dollar by the government. A fiscal fountain of youth, until you find out its cost. Ryan would pay for it by taxing the health insurance you get from your employer. If you are not employed, Mrs. Angle of Nevada says, unemployment benefits can neither be increased nor extended because that “has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job. There are jobs that do exist. That‘s what we‘re saying, is that there are jobs.”
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senator in Alaska, Joe Miller, says this is academic, because unemployment insurance is unconstitutional. His own wife received unemployment insurance after losing a temp job he got for her. Mr. Miller also called Medicaid unconstitutional. It proved his entire family had received Medicaid funds. Mr. Miller also claims Social Security is unconstitutional, yet hypocritically he says it should still be paid out, and then the entire issue dumped into the laps of the states.
The Republican-and-Tea Party candidate for Senator in Colorado, Ken Buck, would not stop at butchering just Social Security. “Would a Veterans Administration hospital that is run by the private sector be better run then by the public sector? In my view, yes.” The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania 4th, Keith Rothfus, has promised to overturn anything the Supreme Court decides, with which he disagrees. “Congress‘s ultimate weapon is funding. If the Supreme Court rules you have to do something, we‘ll just take away funding for it.”
Back in Nevada, Mrs. Angle decries health care reform, and also health care itself. “Everything that they want to throw at us, she says, is now covered under, quote, “autism.” As to educating those children, Mrs. Angle will not pay for, Mr. Buck of Colorado, waxes nostalgic. “In the 1950‘s, we had the best schools in the world, and the United States government decided to get more involved in federal education, well, since, we‘ve made education worse, we‘re going to get even more involved.”
In Ken Buck‘s America of 1957, fewer than one in five Black children graduated high school. Fewer than half of white children did. To the Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the California 11th, David Harmer, Mr. Buck is a wild-eyed liberal. Mr. Harmer once advocated eliminating public schools all altogether, and returning education into country into where it was before 1876. “People acting in a free market found a variety of ways to pay for a variety of schools serving a variety of students, all without central command or control.” And without girls, blacks, or even the slightest chance you could go to college.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Virginia 11th, Keith Fimian is, “not so sure we need a federal bureaucracy for education.” The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Florida 2nd, Steve Southerland, wants to “de-fund” the Department of Education because “we can‘t afford it.” The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Texas 17th, Bill Flores, offers a tri-fecta plus a delusion. Get rid, he says, of “the pornographic endowment of the arts, Department of Energy, Department of Education,” and with them, he says, ACORN. ACORN, which went out of business last April 1st.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Arizona 5th, David Schweikert, he is passionately, he says, trying to eliminate the Department of Education because it‘s, quote, “unconstitutional.” And while one of the few threads uniting the ragamuffins who have constitutes the slate of Tea Party candidates is so-called strict interpretation of that Constitution, Mr. Miller of Alaska wants, in fact, to change the constitution. He wants to repeal the 17th amendment.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senate from Utah, Mike Lee called the 17th amendment “a mistake.” Last year, Mr. Buck of Colorado said the 17th amendment, took us down the wrong path.
The 17th amendment, of course, permits the direct election by the voters of U.S. senators. Buck and Lee and Miller not only demand you elect them to the Senate now, they then hope to deny you the right to elect somebody else, next time.
The ubiquitous Mrs. Angle, meanwhile, wants to repeal the 16th amendment. It provided for a federal income tax. Mrs. Angle does not explain how, without it, the federal government would pay for keeping out the Mexicans she specifically attacks in her newest commercial.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul wishes to repeal the 14th amendment because it interferes with a private business‘s right to ban black people from its premises, and also because it allows anyone born here in America to be American. He is worried about anchor babies.
The Republican candidate for the 1st District of Texas, Louie Gohmert, fears not anchor babies but terror babies, unborn infants brought to this country in the womb, ready for American citizenship and pre-programmed to blow things up fifteen or twenty years from now. Curiously, Mr. Gohmert has not been asked if he is in favor of aborting them.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, sees not terror fetuses but headless bodies in endless deserts murdered by immigrants who are nearly all drug mules.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado, Dan Maes, believes a bike-sharing program is part of a plot to turn Denver into a metropolis run by the United Nations.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senate from Delaware, Christine O‘Donnell, believes she was cleared to read secret classified documents about China because she‘s been working for Non-Profit Organizations for the past fifteen years. She also believes China is plotting to take over the United States and the first evidence of this is that, quote, “China is drilling for oil off the coast of Florida.” This fear of the Chinese clearly does not extend though to the Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois, Mark Kirk. One day he held a fundraiser with American businessmen in China. The next day, he voted against closing tax incentives for outsourcing American jobs to places like China.
The Tea Party-and-Republican-candidate for Senate from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson is also in favor of relocating employees. He testified against toughening laws on pedophiles and employers who shield them. He argued this could damage a business. A business like the Catholic Church.
In Utah, the anti-bailout Senate candidate Mr. Lee, insists on not raising the liability limits for the next BP from $75 million to $10 billion. “You have a set of settled expectations that you give to a business when it decides to make an investment in this. Our country benefits from this type of activity.” Asked by the Salt Lake City Tribune if that‘s a kind of bailout, if it leaves taxpayers on the hook for part of the damage, Lee admitted, “Well, yes, probably does.”
Mr. Paul of Kentucky called the nationwide pressure on BP to increase its damage payments un-American. He is also opposed to Federal Mine Safety regulations. “The bottom line is, I‘m not an expert, so don‘t give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You are here, and you have to work in the mines. You‘d try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don‘t, I‘m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.” Mr. Paul‘s admission that “I‘m not an expert” does provide one of the few dovetails of this campaign. It matches nicely with Mr. Johnson of Wisconsin, who refuses to offer any specifics about his plan to deal with homeless veterans. He says, quote, “This election is not about details.”
Details have proved devilish for the Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for the second district of Virginia, Scott Ridgell. He campaigned against the stimulus bill, including the Cash-for-Clunkers program. Mr. Ridgell is an automobile dealer, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Cash-for-Clunkers program.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate in the Missouri 4th, Vicky Hartzler, says she and her husband are just small business owners. “We just want the government to leave us alone,” she said. Hartzler and her husband have a farm. In the last fourteen years, that government they want to leave them alone, has given them subsidies totaling $774,000.
Mr. Raese of West Virginia told the Associated Press that, “America is in an industrial coma,” he blamed the “restrictor plate” that is “a bloated federal government.” “I can‘t think,” he added, “of very many times when a government agency has helped me.” The companies Mr. Raese owns have received $2.4 million in contracts from the federal government since 2000, and $32 million in contracts from the state government since 2000.
Back in Colorado, Mr. Buck apparently thought he was just speaking to a campaign worker when he self-exposed his hypocrisy. In fact he was talking to a Democratic operative with a recorder in his pocket. Out of the blue, Tea Party nominee Buck blurted, quote, “will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking me about birth certificates while I‘m on the camera? God, what am I supposed to do?” The contempt of Mr. Buck towards his own Tea Party, extends in many cases to reporters and thus by proxy, to actual citizens.
For instance, the Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Governor of Maine, Paul LePage threatened to punch a radio reporter. The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Governor of New York, Carl Paladino, threatened to “take out” a reporter from the most conservative newspaper in any major American city. A spokesman told the reporter that he was now off the Paladino mailing list, which has, in the past, consisted of e-mails featuring racism, and pornography, and bestiality. Mr. Miller‘s private security guards in Alaska detained and handcuffed one reporter, and threatened to handcuff two more, without any legal right to do so, at an event at a public school.
The security company was operating with an expired license, its chief has links to extremist organizations, and the defense was that the guards didn‘t know the individual was a reporter, which implies it would be just dandy to handcuff an ordinary citizen.
Ms. O‘Donnell threatened to sue a Delaware radio station if it did not destroy the videotape of her interview there. When she did not like a question, she snapped her fingers at her own press aide then shoved him. The campaign manager threatened to crush the radio station if it did not comply with them.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for the Senate from Florida, Marco Rubio dreams more of deportation than of crushing. He said, in March, quote, “There are millions of people in America that hate our country, so why can‘t we just do a trade? We‘ll send you Sean Penn, Janeane Garofalo, and Keith Olbermann, and you can send us people that actually love this country.” This incidentally, carries with it a tinge of irony. I don‘t know that any of his opponents has ever accused Mr. Rubio of not loving this country. He just doesn‘t love a lot of its people. And the person they all love the least is of course the President.
The Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for Congress from the Florida 22nd, Allen West, had to leave our military after threatening to kill an Iraqi, he was interrogating Iraq. Now he claims to have a higher security clearance than does the President. Mr. West also told his supporters that they could defeat his democratic opponent by making the man afraid to leave his own home. And Tea Party-and-Republican candidate for the House from the Michigan 7th, the ex-Congressman Tim Walberg, wants to blackmail the President into showing his birth certificate to Rush Limbaugh. He figures he can extort this from President Obama by threatening to impeach him.
You are willing to let these people run this country? This is the America you want? This is the America you are willing to permit? These are the kinds of cranks, menaces, mercenaries and authoritarians you will turn this country over to? If you sit there next Tuesday and let this happen, whose fault will that be? Not really theirs. They are taught that freedom is to be seized and rationed. They can sleep at night having advanced themselves and their puppeteers and to hell with everybody else. They see the greatness of America not in its people but in its corporations. They see the success of America not in hard work but in business swindles. They see the worthiness of America not in its quality of life but in its quality of investing. They see the future of America not in progress, but in revolution to establish a kind of theocracy for white males, with dissent caged and individuality suppressed.
They see America not for what is, nor what it can be. They see delusions, specters, fantasies, they see communists under every bed and a gun in every hand. They see tax breaks for the rich and delayed retirement for everyone else. They fight the redistribution of wealth not because they oppose redistribution, but because their sole purpose is to protect wealth and keep it where they think it belongs, in the bank accounts of the wealthy. They want to make the world safe for Bernie Madoff. But you know better. If you sit there next Tuesday, if you sit there tomorrow, and the rest of this week, and you let this cataclysm unfold, you have enabled this. It is one thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from without. It is a worse thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from within.
But it is the worst thing to sit back and let it happen, to not find the time and the means to convince just one other sane voter to put aside the disappointment of the last two years and look to the future and vote. Because the disappointment of the last two years, those will be the “good old days” in a Tea Party America. This is the week in which the Three-card Monte dealers hope to take over the government. The candidates who want their own way, who will say anything to make palatable their real identities as agents of regression, repression, and corporate sovereignty. They are here, they have energized the self-serving and the greedy and the proudly ill-informed.
And if no other fact convinces you of your obligation to vote and canvass and phone and drag even to the polls the most disheartened moderate or democrat or liberal or abandoned the republican or political neutral, to vote for the most tepid of the non-insane candidates, if no other detail hands you that spark of argument with which to invigorate the apathetic, you need only commit to memory the words of Steffan Broden and Sharron Angle.
She can run from reporters but she cannot run from this quote from January, and all the horror and insurrection it implies. “Thomas Jefferson said it‘s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that‘s not where we‘re going. But, you know, if Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment Remedies.” Is Sharron Angle, too subtle for you? Second Amendment Remedies, guns instead of elections, too implicit? Fortunately, to our rescue, to the speeding of the falling of the scales from our eyes, comes the Tea Party and Republican nominee for the 30th Congressional District of Texas, Pastor Steffan Broden. “Our nation was founded on violence,” he said, “on tape.” Was armed insurrection, revolution, an option in 2010? “The option is on the table. I don‘t think that we should ever remove anything from the table, however, it is not the first option.”
Thank you! The attempt to overthrow the government of the United States by violence is not The Tea Party‘s first option. Next Tuesday is the first option!
The words are those of Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith from the screenplay from the movie “Inherit the Wind.” As the attorney for the man on trial for teaching evolution, Spencer Tracy cuts to the gist. “Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we‘ll be marching backward, backward through the glorious ages of that 16th century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!”
The angered judge replies, “I hope counsel does not mean to imply that this court is bigoted.” The attorney mutters, “Well, your honor has the right to hope.” But judge warns, “I have the right to do more than that.” The attorney explodes, “You have the power to do more than that.”
And you have the power to do more than that. Good night and Good luck.
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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