Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Read the transcript from the 6 p.m. hour on Wednesday
Guests: Marcy Kaptur, David Weigel, Evan Kohlmann, Sree Sreenivasan
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Details today on the Republican budget cuts.
And the Tea Party took down the Republican establishment on an important vote. We‘ll show you how the Tea Party won and why I actually agree with them. How‘s that for something different?
And what‘s really at stake in Egypt? One leading terrorism analyst says the protesters might put al Qaeda out of business. We‘ll talk to him live tonight.
Plus, 13 states now moving to block Sharia law. Republicans are fighting an enemy that does not exist. But wait until you see how far Arizona is taking it.
Now, the Republicans are out to lunch, but we all already know that. Right? But today, in fact, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and Majority Whip McCarthy trekked up to the White House to have lunch with President Obama and Vice President Biden, in an effort to find common ground.
They made a few comments after lunch, and common ground was a big theme.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: It was a very good lunch. And we were able to find enough common ground, I think, to show the American people that we‘re willing to work on their behalf.
REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MAJORITY LEADER: We‘re coming out of this lunch committed to trying to do that because the economy so desperately needs us to work together to send the signal that we should start growing again as America, because that‘s what America does best. It innovates and leads.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY ®, MAJORITY WHIP: I would say the main portion of the entire lunch was talking about the economy, ways that we could grow the economy, a lot to do with regulation, reform, to unleash those shackles that government holds, especially on small business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Shackles. Small business is shackled. The only way we can free them is to cut spending!
By the way, big business is sitting on over $1 trillion, and they won‘t spend it. So all this talk about small business is nonsense. All they want to do is cut their taxes and lower their regulation.
And we should say that while Republicans were pretending to look for common ground with the president, they were also at the same time releasing details of their proposed spending cuts to the president‘s budget. Their budget cuts will officially be unveiled tomorrow, but they put them out today just to make sure no one would make the mistake of believing they would ever agree to anything with the president.
So we got a sneak peek at what will be on the chopping block. In sum (ph), it‘s what America looks like under Republican rule, and it looks scary.
But first, I want to start with NASA.
Now, NASA is a program that the Republicans actually like, or claim to like. And they had their budgets slashed by only $100 million. That‘s what they did to a program they liked. So you know it didn‘t go well for the rest of us.
The Republicans apparently think there‘s too much being thrown at a program that buys healthy food and formula. So they want to cut the Women, Infants and Children Program by $760 million. America, under Republican rule, wants to cut $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health, which do disease research and response.
Come on. America could afford to be a little bit more diseased.
America, under Republican rule, wants to cut the EPA by $1.6 billion.
Pollution—it‘s what‘s for dinner.
And America, under Republican rule, wants to cut the cops program that helps local law enforcement coordinate against child predators. Come on, don‘t hard-working criminals need a break, too?
And they also want to scrap Americorps service program, and that‘s where young Americans work as teachers in inner city schools or help communities recover from a disaster. And everyone knows that teachers are for the weak.
And what about jobs? They said that the GOP majority was going to be laser-focused on it. Well, the Republicans want to cut job training programs by $2 billion.
Look, for all these different programs, I don‘t know what the right numbers should be, so can some of them be cut? Yes, maybe. Maybe you should add to some of them.
It‘s hard to tell exactly what the right numbers are, but these numbers are Draconian. And I don‘t trust the Republicans, because time after time after time, they get a paycheck from a lobbyist, they turn around, and they do that lobbyist a favor. We show that and we prove that on this show all the time.
So, in this case, why are they cutting $1.6 billion from the EPA? Because they got paychecks from lobbyists who work for the polluters. If you get paid by the polluters, of course you want to take away the regulations that stop the pollution. It‘s obvious, and it‘s simple.
But the main thing was that they promised jobs. That‘s how they won the whole election. And they cut $2 billion from job training?
Did you know that it‘s been 35 days and 18 hours since they took over the House, and they still have proposed exactly zero bills to create jobs. What happened? I thought it was supposed to be about the jobs.
Joining me now is Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a member of the House Budget Committee.
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Hi, Cenk.
UYGUR: Congresswoman, hi. Great to see you here.
A lot of cuts here. Which ones are you the most upset by?
KAPTUR: Well, the ones that impact ordinary people, of course. They didn‘t do anything to address the fact that hedge funds on Wall Street don‘t pay taxes at the same rate as small businesses in my area. They didn‘t do anything to propose prosecution of those who took equity from the American people and sucked it right up into the six biggest banks in the country. There hasn‘t been one prosecution to recover any of those assets.
They‘re focusing on taking away heating assistance from people in Ohio, for example, tonight who will be living in zero temperatures. These are senior citizens, people who can ill afford to pay high heating bills.
As you said, they‘re taking away job training from people who want to work in this country, who want to make a contribution. The reason we can‘t balance the budget, too many people are out of work. And the way you get people back to work is to make sure they have the skills to meet the economy of a new age.
They want to cut over $2 billion from our energy programs to invest in energy production in America that will create jobs. Rather than importing more and more and more from abroad and extending our military into these unending wars to protect the petroleum lanes around the world, wouldn‘t it be better to put people to work in America and on this continent, producing energy?
So, to me—
UYGUR: Congresswoman, you can‘t expect them to cut the bankers. No, no, no, no. They don‘t mean share pain that way.
KAPTUR: That‘s right. No.
UYGUR: You can‘t expect them to cut spending on wars and weapons we don‘t need. No, no, of course not. But look, I know that.
What I want to know is, are there any cuts that you would agree to, or that you want to put on the table and say, all right, look, these are the things we need to cut?
KAPTUR: Everything has to be on the table. So, for example, military spending, homeland security. When I look at the amount of money wasted by the Department of Homeland Security, it‘s unbelievable.
If you look at the Department of Defense and those—I call them gold-plated contractors—oh, my goodness. Even the president doesn‘t want to put the military on the table.
The military wants to be on the table. They‘re asking for help to trim back. They know we can in-source a lot of these services and the contractors are costing us a fortune.
If you look at what they‘re leading off, military construction, we can extend the years of construction. It doesn‘t have to all be done in the first couple of years. There are ways to exact, I would say, reasonable cuts in almost every program.
But they‘re cutting over $850 million from police, from police across this country and local law enforcement. With what we‘re facing in community after community with the drug trade doing all this damage all over the United States, does that make any sense to you?
UYGUR: Well, I thought the Republicans were tough on crime, but apparently the way you help the police is by cutting the police. I‘m not sure how that works.
But look, I think if I was a listener out there, or a viewer out there watching this, I would be wondering, well, how do I know what the budget of the EPA should be, how much money the police should get? The Republicans say this, the Democrats say that.
How do you tell them? How do they make that decision?
KAPTUR: Look at your own community. If you feel that there are fewer cops on the beat and crime is going up, and that crimes are not being addressed, which is happening coast to coast in this country, you know there‘s a problem.
Look at the streets in your community. Look at, if you live in cold weather, whether people are not able to pay their heating bills. Through your church, through where you work, look how many people remain out of work. You can judge by your own experience, not just what you hear on virtual media, whether it‘s television or the Internet or your BlackBerry or whatever, but from your own experience.
There are parts of the country that are protected from the recession. Look around your community. How many empty homes do you see? How many foreclosed homes?
People can judge by what is happening in their own area. And certainly, when there‘s an advertisement for a job, when 5,000 people line up for 50 jobs, you know America has a problem.
UYGUR: Yes. You know, when I look around my community, I see, you know, these billionaire bankers who just desperately need more money. I don‘t know why you‘re not seeing that, Congresswoman.
KAPTUR: Oh, let me tell you, there hasn‘t been one criminal prosecution by the government of the United States against the absolute meltdown that Wall Street caused our nation and nations around the world. Think about that.
And they want to cut the FBI. One of their proposals is to cut the FBI. We ought to increase the FBI so we can go after the wrongdoers, confiscate their assets, make them pay their criminal penalties, and help balance the budget.
UYGUR: All right. But are there any Tea Party people that you might be able to agree with on cuts? Of course, they want to propose even bigger cuts, but are there—is there any room for agreement there?
KAPTUR: I think that we‘re looking for agreement. I think across every account, we have to make reasonable cuts.
I think the president‘s proposal for a freeze over five years in some accounts makes sense. So I think we‘re going to get into the negotiation now, but I don‘t think that you really take it out on the people who have been hurt the most in this economy. I don‘t agree with that at all.
UYGUR: Right. Now, I brought up the Tea Party because I think some of them do want to cut defense, they do think it‘s bloated. They think there‘s a lot of waste in there. I think some of them might be amenable to your ideas on the banks.
But one last thing here. I‘ve got to be honest with you, how do you guys lose to these folks? Because, I mean, here they are—you‘re right, there‘s local communities all throughout this country who are incredibly hurt, and they say let‘s not address them, let‘s cut them, but let‘s give tax breaks to the very richest people in the country. I don‘t understand how the Democratic Party loses to that platform.
KAPTUR: That‘s right. Trillions of dollars.
The American people were so upset over just what you said—jobs. They want jobs, they want this country to thrive. They‘re upset about the debt. They have a right to be upset about the debt.
You get the debt problem solved by having a productive, robust economy, and that‘s why people have to be working. We can‘t have people being idle across this country. That would heal so much.
And I think that many of the people, including the Tea Party members that were elected, there are many of them that are very well intentioned, but they‘re not familiar with the programs, they‘re not familiar. So they might want to take a meat-ax rather than a scalpel. And I think we‘re now going to get into the discussions where we will, I hope, make wise and intelligent choices that won‘t jeopardize the recovery and will help put people back to work.
UYGUR: All right, Congresswoman Kaptur. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
KAPTUR: Thank you.
UYGUR: Now, the Republicans beat themselves last night, which is interesting. Rand Paul is ripping leadership, Boehner is blaming the Democrats. But what were they fighting about? And who‘s right?
Slate‘s David Weigel on the big Republican mess.
And Christine O‘Donnell is back. And she‘s asking for money. We‘ll reveal her e-mail to her supporters. It‘s kind of sad.
UYGUR: Breaking news. NBC News had confirmed that Republican Congressman Chris Lee of New York has resigned from Congress effective immediately.
The Web site Gawker reported today that the married congresswoman posted a shirtless photograph of himself on Craigslist. A 34-year-old woman told the Web site the congressman replied to her posting from his gmail account.
The House clerk read his resignation moments ago. He of course is married and claimed on Craigslist that he was not. Oops.
UYGUR: Republican leadership went to the White House trying to get the president on board with their agenda, but they can‘t even get their own members in their own party to listen to them.
Last night, GOP leaders were caught off guard when what should have been an easy vote to extend the Patriot Act failed. It was full of ail because they couldn‘t keep their members in line.
Twenty-six Republicans voted against the bill. Eight of them were freshmen.
And here‘s what I say to that—good for them! And good for the Tea Party, the people who actually, in this case, voted on principle, and I agree with them. The Patriot Act should not have been renewed. It‘s a real problem in regards to privacy.
And don‘t get me started on those national security letters.
And they were right on principle on the procedural grounds. We‘ll explain that in a second.
Now, of course the GOP establishment hated that. And the divisions aren‘t just in the House.
Republican Senator Rand Paul ripped GOP leadership today with the following statement: “Last night, there was little debate, no committee hearings held, no amendments allowed, and no examination of whether our government had lived up to its responsibility to protect the liberty of the people. I commend the House for rejecting the renewal of the Patriot Act on these grounds. It is likely that even with this temporary victory, the House will pass these extensions and send the Patriot Act renewal to the Senate. And when they do, I will oppose it.”
Are you ready for this? Way to go, Rand Paul! Totally agree.
If they offered no amendments and they said they wouldn‘t do that before the House, and now, all of a sudden, they‘ve changed their mind, way to be principled and stick to your grounds on that. And again, I agree on the liberty part as well.
Now, House Democrats of course loved this, and they jumped at the chance to take a few digs at the new GOP leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I think our Republican colleagues are struggling with the burden of leadership, and clearly they have not found their footing going forward.
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Governing and leading is a lot more difficult than it is to just throw bombs and campaign. Who‘s on first? I think that‘s a question that has to be asked of Republicans right now. Who‘s on first?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: They can hardly keep their smiles from beaming. They‘re like, they just lost, that‘s awesome. And look, they stuck together, and they got the Tea Party help, and they wound up winning.
Now, John Boehner, of course, is on the defense, and he‘s just going to—what‘s he going to do? Of course, he‘s going to blame it on the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: Well, we‘ve been in the majority for four weeks. We‘re not going to be perfect every day. And if the Democrats who voted for these same provisions last year would have voted for them this year, it would have passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Boo-hoo. If the Democrats had voted my way, then I would have won!
Yes. Really? You‘re complaining about one party being united in opposition against the other party.
Where have I seen that before? Oh, right, the Republicans, zero votes for the Democrats. Right. It just happened over the last two years, yes.
You know, I don‘t think the guy understands the concept of irony.
Anyway, then Boehner of course changed tracks, and he tried to pretend that he‘s, in fact, a Tea Partier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is John Boehner a member of the Tea Party?
BOEHNER: I should be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you?
BOEHNER: I don‘t know if I actually pay dues, but I‘m a big believer in the Tea Party. I talk to Tea Party activists all over my district and all over the country every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Yes, you talk to them when they‘re yelling at you and defeating your bills.
And over in the Senate, Utah‘s Orrin Hatch is afraid of getting primaried by the Tea Party like his former colleague from Utah, Senator Bob Bennet. So he invited himself to a Tea Party hall last night, and he joined superstars like Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann, and Hatch sounded ready to play in the Tea Party big leagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH: I‘ve been watching what the Tea Party does. I‘ve been very impressed. I think it‘s time for America to take back America.
It‘s the most terrible health care bill. It‘s a doggoned monstrosity.
We need to have a fiscal conservative majority that will vote for this country every time. And that‘s what the Tea Party is going to do. I was the one who raised the issue about the job-killing employer mandate, and of course the unconstitutional employee mandate.
I‘ve been all over the world for our country. Everywhere we go, people have always been amazed by America. And yet, we‘re in danger of losing the greatest country in the world. So we‘ve got to fight back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Here‘s what I‘m amazed by—Orrin Hatch.
You‘re going to tell me you‘re Tea Party?
There‘s no one who‘s more Republican establishment than Orrin Hatch, who‘s been there for approximately 800 years.
And by the way, I love how he‘s trying to get riled up and be Tea Party like he‘s angry. He‘s like, oh, it is a doggoned monstrosity. Golly gee willikers. I‘m really opposed to those guys.
By the way, did you hear him putting dirt on the mandate? He said, oh, I can‘t put a mandate. I‘m totally against that.
Did you know that Hatch co-sponsored the 1993 bill that had an individual mandate? (INAUDIBLE). It‘s unbelievable. It makes me so doggoned mad.
All right. Now let me turn to David Weigel, MSNBC contributor and political reporter for Slate.
All right, David, I want to start with this. First of all, what was the vote about last night? Was it that these Tea Party guys and the right-wing Republicans are saying, hey, we don‘t like the Patriot Act Or was it we because they said, hey, wait a minute, we promised the American people that we weren‘t going to do the shenanigans of not allowing amendments, not allowing debate, et cetera?
Do you know which of those two or both caused them to vote against Boehner and the Republican leadership?
DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was actually a combination of the two. And before the vote, members—not every member was really clued into exactly what they were voting on. They weren‘t ignorant. They just figured—everyone figured this would pass.
Reporters didn‘t think there was any controversy here. I remember Eric Cantor‘s briefing beforehand, people were referring to the bill that was going to pass that day. So it seemed like a fait accompli.
And most of the concerns from the members I‘ve been talking to today who voted against it were actually about substance. You know, Rand Paul brought up the deeper meaning of passing bills this way, but a lot—the freshmen members who voted against this, the eight guys we‘re talking about, said, look, there were provisions here that I promised I was opposed to, and I‘m still opposed to them, and I am going to vote against it every time it comes up.
You know, they joined about a dozen and a half Republicans who aren‘t libertarian on everything, but have been voting this way for a couple of years.
UYGUR: Hey, isn‘t this a lovely development when people actually vote based on principle? I mean, whether you agree with the principle or not, I mean, I‘m kind of shocked by it. I said, what? They voted on principle?
And we‘re not missing anything, right? I mean, it seems to be real principle here.
WEIGEL: Well, it is. I mean, don‘t get too excited.
The reason this failed is because they tried to pass it as a closed rule, which meant they needed two-thirds of the Congress to support it. So they need every Republican, they need a chunk of Democrats.
That‘s why you heard John Boehner maybe not completely convincingly blaming the Democrats for this not succeeding. You know?
They can usually lose a bloc of a bunch of libertarian Republicans, and they did. I mean, Ron Paul, who I‘m sure Rand Paul has talked strategy with once or twice, is usually on the end of these votes. You know, when Republicans have the majority right now, on the end of votes that pass overwhelmingly.
So there‘s a larger bloc of guys who are going to do that now. And they‘ve going to draw attention—they‘ve succeeded in making this a slightly more open process, but actually, they‘re going to vote again on a closed rule tomorrow. And then they‘re going to vote on the whole bill Monday. And it‘s extremely unlikely anything is actually going to change this time.
UYGUR: All right. Look, I‘ll take my victories where I can get them.
UYGUR: So, hey, this was surprising, it was great. I love that it got different parties, both Republicans and Democrats, voting on principle.
But look—and I love Boehner blaming the Democrats. He‘s like, how could the opposing party oppose me? There‘s some great irony in that.
But Dave, what I‘m most interested in is real bipartisanship. It looks like there might be some issues where the Tea Party people and the Democrats, the left and the right, the real left and right, genuinely agree on certain issues.
Isn‘t that a wonderful development?
WEIGEL: Yes, they could at least agree on transparency. Again, I don‘t think there‘s a majority to make a lot of these things happen, but Russ Feingold lost re-election in 2010, and there are people who are very worried in the civil liberties community especially that there‘s really nobody who‘s going to pick that banner up from now on. He was out front on everything like this.
Rand Paul has come out, and like people were hoping, said he‘s going to try and slow this down in the center. At least open the process up so this is not ran through like it was, frankly, when Democrats were in charge.
This is—when Democrats were in charge of everything, there was a bipartisan process of just getting the Patriot Act rubberstamped every couple of years, or all the provisions rubberstamped. So, yes, there‘s actually some bipartisanship here possible.
And, you know, anything that irritates the leadership of both parties, I generally—I‘m not a nihilist, but I find that kind of exciting.
UYGUR: Yes. No, I find it exciting, too, because I think the establishment mainly does—when you hear “bipartisanship,” normally it means they‘ve agreed to give whatever the lobbyists want to the lobbyists. Both parties have agreed to it.
Here, when it‘s on principle, look, it‘s encouraging. Like I said, I‘ll take my wins wherever I can.
David Weigel, I appreciate the conversation and I appreciate you coming on tonight.
WEIGEL: Thank you. Let‘s stay off Craigslist tonight.
UYGUR: Well, I know I‘m going to listen to it. I think you‘ve got to get Republican congressmen to make sure they listen to that.
Now, I‘ve been telling you the Republicans are going to cut your Social Security. And guess what happened? Now a Republican Senator admits that‘s exactly what they want to do. We‘ll tell you exactly what he said in a minute.
And $180 million couldn‘t buy an election for Meg Whitman, but many cleaned up off of her, and it was not her housekeeper.
UYGUR: A hundred and seventy-seven million dollars couldn‘t buy Meg Whitman a victory in the California governor‘s race, but a whole lot of people got rich along the way. California Watch has itemized Whitman‘s receipts for the most expensive campaign in the state‘s history.
Smart Media Group that booked the TV spots for Whitman‘s losing campaign billed $118 million. Now, most of that went to pay the TV stations, but they got a cut, too. Now, that‘s pretty “Smart Media” of them. Sorry.
And there was the $1.1 million for the corporate jets. That‘s high-styling. All right.
And then there was the personnel pay. A Republican campaign strategist for Whitman‘s losing campaign got $5.5 million. How do I get that job? I could have you lose for $5.5 million, too. Her campaign manager for her losing campaign, also took home nearly $1 million. And the finance director got almost $500,000. She got smoked but her brilliant advisors got paid anyway. She ironically ran on being a savvy businesswoman. If I spent $177 million and I got squat to show for it, I wouldn‘t go around bragging about how much I rock in business.
Now, if the Tea Partiers think they have a bad with taxes, they should try being a Romanian witch. First Romanians started to taxing witch and fortune tellers. But now, lawmakers are proposed a bill that would allow witches to be fined or even jailed if their predictions don‘t come true. The so-called queen witch, which sounds awfully scary, told the Associated Press, quote, “they can‘t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards.” You‘re the one reading the cards. That doesn‘t make sense. Anyway, damn cards, it‘s all your fault. So, she also says, it‘s unfair to all witch‘s responsible if the customers‘ lie about the details of their lives, wasn‘t that?
By the way, when the tax on witchcraft passage anyway, the witches then—they dumped poisonous mandrake plants in the Danube. Man, don‘t witches don‘t mess around. Watch out for them, mandrake. Now, look, if you want a job where you don‘t have to be right to get paid, they should have worked for Meg Whitman. And speaking of witches, Christine O‘Donnell is back. And guess what she‘s asking for, you‘re going to be really surprised. She wants the money Lebowski. The failed senate candidate has a new pack cleverly called Christine PAC. She‘s always thinking that one. In a fundraising email, the support is she says, the goal of the PAC is to quote, “investigate and counterattack left wing groups,” and pay her rent. OK, she didn‘t say that last part, but you know she was thinking it.
All right, here‘s a quote. “I am determined not to let them destroy our movement. If I stand alone, though, I‘m no match for the liberal media and the political establishment. But with us standing together to fight, they don‘t have a chance. Christine PAC can investigate and counter attack left wing ground groups. Pay my rent, OK, she didn‘t say that. Many funded with $1 million or more from billionaire leftist George Soros. Attacking Soros, where I have heard that before? Oh, O‘Donnell back in 2012? Think about it. And you‘re going to be really surprised. It turns out she wants some money. Here‘s her plea for money, quote, “the left keeps after me because they consider strong republican women a danger to their status quo. Your donation also enables me to speak out in many venues from coast to coast, thereby helping to support a nationwide effort. This is a way that will help me counterattack our opponents and bring the battle to them.”
Yes! Like she brought the battle to them in Delaware. Where she lost by 17 points. Oops. Oh, well, now on to serious matters. Another massive protest in Cairo today. But we‘re learning much more today about how closely al-Qaeda is following what‘s going on there. Because it could determine the future of that terrorist organization. A big story next with NBC terrorism analyst Evan Coleman. He‘s got the answers next.
UYGUR: In Cairo, the protesters are spilling out behind Tahrir Square today. More than 2,000 protesters block of parliament today and called for it to be dissolved. And labor strikes have started throughout the country. Here we go. That‘s exactly what I said last night. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: What the protesters could do is you go sit in one of those rich guy‘s factories for a week and don‘t let him run that factory. All of a sudden, he‘s not going to be happy about that, and all of a sudden, he‘s going to be motivated to say, I‘ve got to change this one way or another. Glad to see the protesters are listening to the MSNBC at 6 p.m. No, of course, it was a smart idea, that‘s why they did it. And I wish other people would listen to my advice as well.
Look, I‘ve been telling this administration, you‘ve got to be on the side of the protesters. And it turns out it‘s an excellent argument, because, how do you like me for modesty? I‘ve made an excellent argument, no, but seriously, look, the protesters if they succeed, they‘re going to deal a huge blow to al-Qaeda. Now why? Let me explain. The protesters started out as young guys who are gathering on the internet while Wael Ghonim, who I told you about last night, he created a Facebook page called and it was called, “We were all Khaled Said.” Now, Khaled Said was a young businessman and he was allegedly beaten to death by the Egyptian police.
And that really wild up everybody in Egypt. And it was something today rallied around quite literally in this case, and that Facebook page, one of getting over 400,000 followers to join the original protests on January 25th. Now, when the protests started, it was the young people, it was the people who met on Facebook, et cetera. Muslim brotherhood was not part of the origin protest. In fact, it took three days for them to announce their support for the protest. Basically saying, oh, that‘s working? Oh, that‘s amazing. All right. Yes, yes, we‘re in, we‘re in. So, the people telling you that the Muslim brotherhoods are the ones that are doing this protests, and the once secret force behind it. It‘s simply not true.
Protesters do not equal the Muslim brotherhood. Now the Muslim brotherhood is joined on a little late to protests but they‘re not the ones who started it. And other people tell you in this country, oh, the Muslim brotherhood they‘re with al-Qaeda people and they‘re with the terrorists, et cetera. Not true. Muslim brotherhood does not equal al-Qaeda. In fact, did you know that the Muslim brotherhood kicked, I‘m an also—that‘s the second guy in charge of al-Qaeda because he wouldn‘t agree to non-violence. They wanted him to do the nonviolent route. Al-Qaeda wanted to do the violent route, so they disagreed and split apart. So, the people are telling you, oh, the same thing that al-Qaeda people that attack us. It‘s simply not true.
Now, why would al-Qaeda be weakened by the protests? Because the protests are nonviolent. They say hey, we‘re going to go for democracy here and if they succeed, well, then the people of Egypt and the people of the Middle East will see, hey, nonviolence can work. And al-Qaeda hates that. Al-Qaeda‘s whole program is violence. And you think al-Qaeda wants democracy? They don‘t want democracy. But now if the protests fail, al-Qaeda comes around and go, you see that, I told you nonviolence wasn‘t going to work. I told you America wasn‘t going to support you. I told you they were going to support the dictator.
Now the only way to do it is violence, the al-Qaeda way. That‘s what they‘re saying in the protests, don‘t worry. Now a perfect example of that is this, is a screen shot of a high level al-Qaeda web forum urging Egyptians to leave Tahrir Square, establish a new al-Qaeda branch in Egypt and wage violent Jihad against Mubarak. Get it? They want the protesters to leave the protest. They don‘t like what‘s happening in the protests, they want to go the route of violence and the protesters disagree. How much clearer could it be? We‘ve got to be on the side of the protesters. And not just for their sake, not for the sake of Egypt and for the sake of the Middle East, but also for our sake. Because we don‘t want to strengthen al-Qaeda, we want to make it weaker.
Now, with me is NBC Tourism Analyst Evan Kohlmann. Evan, first of all, let‘s talk about Muslim brotherhood and their relationship to these protests. Now, is it true that they‘re not the ones who started it?
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TOURISM ANALYST: Yes. They are not the ones who started these protests. They are involved in it, that makes perfect sense. They are the major opposition group in Egypt. They have been involved in political protests before. They are one segment of the protests going on right now. They‘re not the leaders of it.
UYGUR: All right, now, again, here in this country, there‘s this vision of, oh, my God, Muslim brotherhood, it‘s the bogeyman. Is it true that they have gone down the road of nonviolence at least what they claim right, and that they had a rift with Zawahiri?
KOHLMANN: Yes, look, in Egypt, the Muslim brotherhood is about as far away from al-Qaeda as you can imagine. That these two groups, literally each day, shoot back and forth verbal values at each other, calling each other illegitimate. The Muslim brotherhood has come out very frequently and saying that al-Qaeda is not what we want to do. We‘re against their agenda. And al-Qaeda has turned around and said, you guys are sellouts. You‘re traitors to the cause. We don‘t believe in you anymore. So look, did the Muslim brotherhood support armed groups in the Middle East? Yes, they do. Like Hamas. Does the Muslim brotherhood share the exact same foreign policy as the United States? No, it does not. Is it al-Qaeda? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
UYGUR: All right. So, let‘s talk about al-Qaeda. It‘s curious, they have not made a statement so far on this, is that correct?
KOHLMANN: The very first statement came out today and it wasn‘t from al-Qaeda central. It was from al-Qaeda in Iraq. And it was very bland. They did say, yes, you know, we support activities against Hosni Mubarak, but what they also said is these protests are infected with the disease of secularism, with infidel democracy, suggesting that look, only violence will remove these regimes. These protests, it‘s infected with democracy, which is not our agenda.
UYGUR: Is it also possible that al-Qaeda is not making a statement on this, the central al-Qaeda basically based in Pakistan, because they‘re on the run?
KOHLMANN: Look, right now al-Qaeda in central, al-Qaeda in Pakistan, if they want to issue a statement about what‘s going on in the world, they can issue it within days. They can get it out immediately. The only reason that they would be waiting right now is if it‘s not in their benefit. And there‘s good reason to believe right now that al-Qaeda is looking at this in saying, look, why would we stick our foot in our mouth? We don‘t know what‘s going to happen. Let‘s see what place out of it in the next few days, and then we can weigh in, because look, if something terribly violent ends up happening in Egypt, al-Qaeda can come along and say we told you so, we told you that protest rallies, that democratic protest rallies would never remove this regime. The only path was violence. So it‘s—the I told you so argument. And that‘s probably why al-Qaeda is waiting right now and hedging its bets.
UYGUR: And, you know, I also see reports though that they‘re in trouble in northern Pakistan, that they might be having trouble getting out tapes. Is there any truth to that?
KOHLMANN: They‘re definitely having problems but it‘s not communications, the problems that they‘re having is financial. When it comes to issue in videotapes or audio tapes, al-Qaeda can issue videotapes or audio tapes from its senior layers, almost three or four days after an event occur. So, if al-Qaeda really wanted to say something about what‘s going on right now in Egypt, they‘ve had many, many days to weigh in. They haven‘t. This is not the product of a lack of opportunities to communicate, it‘s a deliberate decision.
UYGUR: So, look, as Americans, administration and the American officials, republican or democrat look at this, do they see the same thing we do? I mean, do they think like, oh my God, if we‘re on the side of the dictator, we‘re kind of proving al-Qaeda‘s case, aren‘t we?
KOHLMANN: Well, I mean, look, I hate to say it like this, but if you look at some al-Qaeda propaganda films, especially the beginning ones, the ones that first came right out around 9/11, half of those films are about the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Half of al-Qaeda senior leadership, over half are Egyptians, are dissidents opposed to Hosni Mubarak. Now, if all of a sudden, if the Mubarak regime was to change overnight and we had a democratic government in Egypt that maybe not 100 percent in love with the United States, but one that‘s peaceful and willing to accept stability in the region, would that do damage to al-Qaeda? One hundred percent. Of course it would. Of course it would, it would remove their cause, their reason, that‘s right, it would remove their reason for existence.
UYGUR: It would prove them completely wrong. It‘s not whether that government agrees with us or disagrees with us in the short term or in the midterm. It‘s that they agree with our philosophy. They agree with our system of government. There couldn‘t be a better case to be made against al-Qaeda, right?
KOHLMANN: Yes. And we have to be behind democracy, we have to be promoting democratic values because otherwise, we are giving al-Qaeda the perfect opportunity to turn around and say, look, we told you, they are liars. They‘re not interested in democracy. They‘re just interested in their own personal gains. And that‘s what we have to be very careful about right now. We don‘t want to turn Egyptians against us, the same way that Iraqis were turned against us because we invaded there in 2003. We want Egyptians to understand that we are in support of their democratic principles, and their right to protest. Because they do have a right to protest.
UYGUR: Right. Evan Kohlmann, great reporting, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
KOHLMANN: Thank you very much.
UYGUR: I really appreciate it. All right. Michelle Obama says, Facebook is off-limits to her kids, but should all parents fear it? That‘s discussion, next.
UYGUR: For so long, I‘ve been telling you guys, the Republicans and sometimes the Democrats or certainly the deficit commission, they‘re coming to cut your Social Security. And to prove me right, Senator Shelby, republican of Alabama steeped up and agreed, yes, that‘s exactly what we‘re looking to do. We want to raise your retirement age and he says, we want to up to age every several years. So, hey, you know what? If 69 doesn‘t knew the job, maybe we‘ll make you work to 71, maybe we‘ll make you work to 75. And it goes on and on and on. He says, he‘s worried that if you do any kind of 6th grade Math. Then, you‘ll know the Social Security is out of money.
He says, he‘s worried about his kids. Here‘s what he says about his kids, he said, quote, “they‘re not going to receive anything or if they do, very little, there‘s no proof that they will get much if anything.” That is simply, positively not true. Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus. Don‘t let them lie to you about it. It absolutely positively, the surplus that it has and that the American government must pay. It is our whole full faith and credit of the United States government is behind that surplus. Don‘t let them take it from you. And let me give you one quick example. Do you know that if they raise your retirement age up to 70, do you know how much you would lose in Social Security rather than if you retired at 65? You would lose $63,573. Can you imagine a bigger robbery? Don‘t let them do it. We‘ll be back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are Sasha and Malia, are they on Facebook?
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is that because of who they are or because you‘re not in favor of it?
OBAMA: I think we‘re lucky that there are a lot of real constraints things like secret service and stuff like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes.
OBAMA: But I‘m not a big fan of young kids having been Facebook, so I, you know, it‘s not something they need. It‘s not necessary right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So, Sasha and Malia Obama cannot go on Facebook. Well, Sasha is 9-years-old, Malia is 12-years-old. Then it turns out that I didn‘t know this until today, you have to be 13 to sign up for Facebook. Who knew that? So, they‘re not going to make on it but she‘s concerned of course as they‘re getting to 13. And she has got the great excuse, secret service won‘t let her, but not every parent has that excuse. Did you know that Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other Web site? Facebook now accounts for 12.3 percent of the time spent online in the U.S. which is gigantic. And that‘s up from 7.2 percent a year ago. So, what will poor Sasha and Malia do with all their free time?
All right. Now, joining me is Professor Sree Sreenivasan, professor of Digital Media of Columbia‘s Graduate School of Journalism. All right. Professor, should kids go on Facebook? Yes or no, go.
SREE SREENIVASAN, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL: No, they should not be on Facebook before they‘re 13. You said, they can‘t be on Facebook, they shouldn‘t be but anyone can go in and kind of lie about it. I spoke to.
UYGUR: People lying online? No, that will never happen.
SREENIVASAN: Here‘s the problem, that parents are signing up with their kids and encouraging them often under 13 and letting them do it. So why would you have your first connection with something they‘re going to use for the rest of their lives perhaps be a lie? And parents who won‘t let their kids drink or do other things think starting before 13 is fine. I have 7-year-old twins. They‘re not on it, but they have kids, their friends who are less than their age were already on Facebook.
UYGUR: So, what‘s the big danger? Look, I‘m a parent too, right? But I mean, aren‘t they going to go online at some point and run into all this stuff? Isn‘t the cat out of the bag?
SREENIVASAN: At some point they will, but you want to delay it as much as possible. Facebook is not the environment that they need to be on right now.
UYGUR: Why? What‘s wrong with the environment?
SREENIVASAN: Well, first of all, just the fact that the terms of service, the rules are, you have to be 13 and older. There are all kinds of people on there and you don‘t want your kids associating with people who they don‘t know. And there‘s this kind of a deeper thing here that is this the time that they should be spending maybe reading, maybe talking to their friends?
UYGUR: They‘re reading their friends‘ updates. It turns out Sally had a sandwich. You didn‘t it. That‘s reading.
SREENIVASAN: That‘s right. I could use the secret service to control my kids.
UYGUR: How about kids above 13?
UYGUR: Do you think that‘s kosher?
SREENIVASAN: No, well, Facebook is going to be an integral part of our lives. And so, they should know it‘s a place where eventually where you have your business relationships and things. So, you definitely want to be on Facebook, but just be careful. Just with everything you do on line, be safe and do it carefully. Because a lot of parents just don‘t pay attention to this stuff with their kids.
UYGUR: Professor, I‘ve got to be honest with you. I‘m partly not buying it, OK? Because, look, the world is a scary place and you‘ve got to teach your kids to be careful about everything. Hey, you know, don‘t walk down the street without looking at both sides. Don‘t walk on Facebook without looking on both sides. And be careful with strangers et cetera. But then you‘ve got to let them go.
SREENIVASAN: Well, they‘re going to be in a bar some day. So, why wait until they‘re 18, 21, whatever it is. Why not start now? Why not start now?
UYGUR: I would let my 18-year-old into a bar. I think that‘s ridiculous.
SREENIVASAN: How about your 15-year-old?
UYGUR: We‘re having a conversation.
SREENIVASAN: But, you know, this is where I think, the problem is not an individual parent or an individual child. Because you can trust your child, but once they‘re on, then it puts pressure on other parents to let their kids on. So, we‘ve all got together and say Facebook is good, but you don‘t have to be on there. What‘s the rush?
UYGUR: Well, I know what the rush is their friend. Since their friends are on there, they‘ve got to go, go, go. Listen, here‘s the one thing they have to avoid. Craigslist, apparently. Because there are shirtless Republicans on there and they‘re dangerous.
SREENIVASAN: That could.
UYGUR: Right, but that guy resigned today. All right. Professor, it‘s been a great pleasure having you on. Thank you so much.
SREENIVASAN: Good to be here.
UYGUR: All right. Now, 13 states are trying to protect against the very real threat of Sharia law. That‘s absurd. But wait until you hear what Arizona has also banned.
UYGUR: The constant fear mongering in the media about threaded Sharia law has finally paid off. Legislators in 13 states have introduced or passed bills designed to protect their constituents from the nonexistent threat of the Islamic law in the U.S. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have all introduced legislation. Sounds kind of like a Journey Cast song. But thank God, because Nebraska and Utah were this close to getting captured by Muslim radicals.
They avoided that terrible fate by the skin of their teeth. I couldn‘t believe how strong the ayatollah of Omaha had gotten. But, I‘m sorry, I‘m getting missed it. It turns out, there is no—ayatollah of Omaha. Why didn‘t somebody tell me that? How about Salt Lake City? No, ayatollah of Salt Lake City either. Interesting.
But look, seriously, what‘s really happening here is that the Republicans need to get people an enemy. If one doesn‘t exist, then they have to manufacture it. If they can get the good people of Mississippi to believe that they‘re actually under, the imminent threat of being taken over by Islamic law, what can‘t they get them to believe? This is their bread and butter. They thrive on fear. They have to have their voters scared, otherwise how can they get them to vote against their own interests? But one of these states really took the—for absurdity on this issue. You want to guess who? Yes. Once again, the winner, Arizona.
Now, their legislation is pretty similar to the other state bills, but Arizona house bill, 2582 actually also prohibits canon law, halakha law and karma. That‘s right. They want to actually ban the concept of good deeds leading to good results and bad deeds leading to bad results. Can you do that? How do you ban karma? And if there‘s no karma in Arizona, does that mean we can do nuts down there? What difference does it make, there‘s no karma man. Hand me you brew. One of the state‘s reps was asked why they want after karma, he said, it‘s because karma is a bitch.
All right. That‘s our show for today. Of course you can catch me on The Young Turks.com later tonight. And we‘ve got a bevy of excellent shows ahead for you on MSNBC as well. Obviously “HARDBALL” is going to come up next followed by the “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell at its new time 8 p.m. Eastern. Then, its “RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” at 9. And then “THE ED SCHULTZ” at its new time, 10 p.m. Eastern.
We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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