Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Ed Schultz, Peter DeFazio, Gary Johnson, Lawrence Wilkerson, Laura Boatright, Ana Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, HOST: We‘ve got protests in Bahrain, Yemen and Madison. Governor Scott Walker‘s union-busting bill causes people to pour into the streets. We‘ll get a live report from Ed Schultz on the ground in Wisconsin. The big Ed, he‘s coming.
This is the Republican vision for America. Balance budgets on the backs of the working class while giving tax breaks to the rich. Well, we‘re not going to stand for it. We‘ll offer a different solution tonight.
And John Boehner is threatening a government shutdown. Where have I seen this movie before? The Tea Partiers might be pushing him over the edge. And we will respond.
And an Iraqi informant, who claimed that Saddam had WMDs, is bragging that he made it all up. Colin Powell feels lied to. But there were doubts about this guy from the start. Why did the U.S. government buy it hook, line and sinker? Get this. Powell‘s former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, is on the show tonight, and he gives us his insider‘s perspective.
Now, good evening. Welcome to the show. I am Cenk Uygur. As you see, we‘ve got demonstrations and protesters and they‘re rocking another capital in the world today. This time, it‘s right here in America, in Madison, Wisconsin. Protesters flooded the Capitol Building in Madison again today protesting Republican Governor Scott Walker‘s efforts to pass a bill eliminating collective bargaining rights for state workers.
Madison schools were closed today for the second day in a row as 40 percent of the teachers called in sick and joined the demonstrations. Even Democratic state senators joined the protests. But they did it in an interesting way. All 14 of them physically left the state, which meant that there weren‘t enough lawmakers present at the Capitol to hold the planned vote on the controversial bill. That‘s a unique way of fighting it.
So now let me explain what they‘re all fighting about. Governor Walker says that there will be a deficit of more than $3 billion over the next two years. His solution is to cut state workers‘ benefits by $300 million. Now pause to do the math there. That doesn‘t add up. That doesn‘t get you there. It doesn‘t even get you close to there.
Now the proposal requires most public workers to pay half of their pension costs and 12 percent of their health care premiums which is twice of what they pay now. And it eliminates unions collective bargaining rights on everything except salaries. But get this—even then, salary negotiations are limited by the Consumer Price Index, which is just inflation.
So in other words, it‘s just pegged to inflation so they don‘t have that right either. So some state workers are exempt in the bill. This is the interesting part. Police, firefighters and state troopers. Now, I wonder why that happened? Are you sitting? It turns out the major public safety unions in Wisconsin just happen to support Governor Walker in his election campaign last year. What a coinkydink.
So they get off but everybody else gets punished. I mean, cuts that are important—spending cuts happens to fall just squarely on their shoulder. And the governor isn‘t just stripping public employees of their bargaining rights, he‘s threatening them. First, he threatened layoffs saying, quote, “They‘re much better off doing what we‘re proposing in this budget repair bill than looking at 5,500 layoffs of state workers, and anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 layoffs in local government.”
That a clear threat. You better play ball, otherwise I‘m going to fire you. Walker also threatened to bring in the National Guard to deal with the protesters, which I think is outrageous. Look, some of the members of the Guard don‘t want to be used against the unions because first, it‘s an abuse of the National Guard and, second, because some of them are in the union. What are they going to do? Intimidate themselves?
So now on the national level, the Republicans are closing ranks behind Walker, which is, of course, what they always do. Here‘s what young gun Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin had to say today about the protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, BUDGET HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It‘s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: All right. So would that make Governor Walker the equivalent of Hosni Mubarak? Way to paint your own guy as a dictator, genius. And that‘s supposed to be the really smart Republican.
All right. Governor Walker insisted his plan is the only way to deal with the budget short fall. But you only need to go one state over to see that that‘s actually not at all true. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has a different plan.
Last week, Dayton vetoed Republican spending cuts, then ruled out his own proposal, a plan that does what almost every other elected official is too afraid to do—raise taxes on the rich. By the way, that‘s what got him elected.
Mark Dayton inherited a deficit that will be $6.2 billion over the next two years. His proposal fixes almost half of that short fall by raising taxes by a few percent on the top five percent of Minnesotans. So 95 percent don‘t get any tax increase whatsoever. Dayton‘s plan would almost cut the deficit in half over those two years.
Now, let‘s compare the situation in Wisconsin to that in Minnesota because I think it‘s really instructive. Wisconsin‘s governor wants to slash the workers‘ rights and benefits which gets him $330 million. Minnesota‘s governor wants to implement a slight tax increase, about three percent on the rich, which gets them almost $3 billion.
So let‘s summarize here. A small tax increase for the rich gets you ten times better results. Now you tell me which one of those options makes more sense? I know what this guy‘s going to think. And that‘s MSNBC‘s Ed Schultz. He‘s the host of “The Ed Show.” He joins me now live from Madison, Wisconsin.
All right. Ed, what‘s going on today? Tell us what the protests have been about today.
ED SCHULTZ, HOST “THE ED SHOW”: Well, Cenk, it‘s good to be with you tonight. You know, the emotion here is now in day number seven and I doesn‘t seem to be waning whatsoever.
And today we had some real legislative action take place. The Democrats, since they‘re not getting much support at all from the national Democrats, are showing progressives in this country how to stand up to corporate power and how to stand up to the top two percent.
Every Democrat walked out of the Senate today so a vote could not have been taken. Fourteen of those senators have now crossed the state line into Illinois, and for the lack of a better term, Cenk, they are on the lam.
The governor of Wisconsin has sent the state patrol out to round up these Democrats, because they have an obligation to come in and vote. But 14 of them have crossed the line into Illinois. And so this is all a crapshoot at this point.
But the bottom line here is is that the Democrats here in Wisconsin are doing everything they possibly can to avert this bill and support the people who have been out here in the thousands to stop this proposal from going through. It is amazing. Thirty thousand people yesterday. More than 30,000 people today. More events are going to unfold tonight.
This is ground zero for working people in America. The attack on wage earners, the attack on unions from the big money people in this country is all starting right here. And as Karl Rove said last night on Fox, this is all about the money. They are trying to do the union busting. They are trying to take people out of unions, take away the collective bargaining here in Wisconsin so they can lower union power so they would be less effective in an election cycle.
This is—you get a sense here in Madison that this truly is a fight for democracy and this is a stand that has to be made by the working folk of America. You can see that our broadcast platform here is being surrounded. I can only imagine what it‘s going to be like tonight at 10:00 Eastern time, 9:00 Central when we do “The Ed Show” here. But I can tell you that emotion is very high. And these Democrats are standing strong against this governor who wants to do radical, sweeping changes to the working folk of this state.
UYGUR: Ed, don‘t lie to me. I know you gave those 14 Democrats asylum. Where are you keeping them?
SCHULTZ: Well, we are going to talk to one of them tonight out of state. They are at an undisclosed location. We do know that they are in in Illinois. And we know that we have a couple of them that are willing to talk to us tonight. So this is the story. How are the Democrats? How long will this story last? And will they actually get a vote here in Wisconsin?
And keep in mind, this is nothing but a blueprint for the Republicans to go to Ohio and do the same thing under John Kasich. To go down to Florida under Governor Scott and do the same thing there.
This is an attack on labor. The 2012 campaign is well underway. Now what these people in Wisconsin want, what I gather on the ground, is they want President Barack Obama to step out unequivocally and be behind labor. This is going to be an absolute legislative fight to the finish. They want to hear from the Democrats. They want to hear from Harry Reid. They want to hear from Dick Durbin. They want to hear from Chuck Schumer. Where is the Democratic leadership when it comes to standing with the working wage earners of the country?
UYGUR: All right. See, Ed, I sense that you‘re thinking that the national Democrats and perhaps the president aren‘t doing enough here to support those workers. Is that what you‘re saying?
SCHULTZ: I‘m saying that the hour glass has been turned on the workers in this state. And the people that went door to door, the people that did the social networking, the people that helped Barack Obama win this state by double digit margins are now at his doorstep asking him to step up for the workers here in Wisconsin.
Where are the Democrats? We are seeing leadership from the Wisconsin Democrats. They won‘t give the Republicans the vote. They walked out today. They crossed the state lines. They‘re going to fight for these workers and that‘s really what it‘s all about here in Wisconsin.
UYGUR: All right. One last thing for you, Ed. Paul Ryan compared these protests to Cairo, which I guess he thought was insulting somehow. What do you make of that comment?
SCHULTZ: Well, the big narrative by the Fox broadcasters and the big narrative by the Republicans is that they want to create this atmosphere that all of these people out here are nothing but a bunch of psychos. That all of these people out here really aren‘t American, questioning their patriotism. Questioning their love for country. Nothing but a bunch of union slacks that want to do nothing but rob the treasury. That‘s how they‘re being portrayed.
And for Paul Ryan to go on national television and make that comment and comparison between Cairo and Madison is an insult to these people and is an insult to democracy in this country.
UYGUR: Look, (INAUDIBLE) insult to Governor Walker. I mean, if he‘s in the role of Mubarak, it‘s not very flattering. I know that some of the protesters are calling him Hosni Walker.
So listen, hey, I‘m for democracy in Cairo. I‘m for democracy in Madison, Wisconsin. So Ed Schultz, doing a broadcast out of there tonight. Thank you so much for joining us tonight on our program. We really appreciate it, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Cenk. Good to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. Like I said, you can catch Ed at 10:00 Easter here on MSNBC on “The Ed Show.” He will be broadcasting from Madison, Wisconsin. He‘s always there to fight for the workers and it‘s great to see him there. And we appreciated his presence here.
All right. Now, John Boehner and Harry Reid are in an epic showdown today. Who will blink first and who will melt down the government over their disagreement? Hopefully, neither one of them, but we‘ll see.
And Colin Powell‘s chief of staff joins us to talk about how they might have been misled by others in the Bush administration over Iraq. That exclusive interview is coming up.
UYGUR: A showdown tonight on Capitol Hill. I love that music. And how much do you love those hats? Those hats are awesome.
All right. Today, a brazen threat from Republican leadership to shut down the government if the GOP doesn‘t get what it wants. Of course, that‘s what they always do.
A day after John Boehner said he didn‘t want a shutdown, he seemed to have changed his tune and, of course, drew a line in the sand. Again, that‘s what they always do. He‘s saying that he wouldn‘t support a short-term funding bill if he didn‘t get his cuts and if the budget battle takes longer than two weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: But I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels. When we—when we say we‘re going to cut spending, read my lips, we‘re going to cut spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That seems like a disastrous way to go. You‘re doing a read my lips pledge? Do you know anything about American politics? But all right, have at it, hoss. See how it turns out for you. But do you know what happened? Then Harry Reid fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: We‘re terribly disappointed that Speaker Boehner can‘t control the votes in his caucus to prevent a shutdown of government. And now he‘s resorting to threats to do just that without any negotiations.
That is not permissible and we will not stand for that. He‘s wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I love—even when he‘s angry, he‘s like, that is not permissible. Who says not permissible? That‘s awesome. What else did he say? Terribly, terribly disappointed. OK, but look, he‘s fighting back. That‘s a great thing. So let‘s find out what happens if the showdown goes all the way.
With me now is Congressman Peter DeFazio. He‘s a Democrat from Oregon. Congressman, first, so let‘s talk about Boehner. Why is he all of a sudden talking about government shutdowns? What happened to him for him to all of a sudden go in that direction?
REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON: Well, we parse words around here. I heard more than a little wiggle room in that saying “at current levels.” Well, what is not the current level? A billion? Two billion? You know, cuts that could be easily made. I mean, hell, we could eliminate the selective service like I tried to do the other night, a useless, pointless bureaucracy that costs $28 million a year. Then we wouldn‘t be at current levels.
So I think he left himself a little room there. I don‘t think he was saying, we‘ve got to have all our cuts or we‘ll shut down the government. But it could come to that ultimately, of course, he‘s being driven by the extremes in his caucus. So, you know, he‘s got an internal problem.
UYGUR: So Harry Reid seems to have taken those threats very, very seriously, striking back like this. So what happens if they go at loggerheads here? Is it a government shutdown? Is that a real possibility?
DEFAZIO: I mean, impermissible is kind of fighting words for a boxer, I guess, I mean, Harry, you know, but—Yes, we could get to that point. I didn‘t think we would get to government shutdown until we got to the debt limit.
You know, if we wanted to balance a budget in one year, which would mean—is what you would have to do if you‘re not going to increase the debt limit, we would have to eliminate the entire government three times over, or, you know, Medicare and Social Security and the government, or a few other miscellaneous things this year.
So you can‘t get there in one year particularly if you can‘t revenues which the Republicans had prohibited on the House side. You can‘t close tax loopholes. You can‘t get rid of subsidies to oil and gas or subsidies to agriculture. You can only cut things.
Well, cutting everything wouldn‘t get us to balance. So I thought I wouldn‘t come until the debt limit, but maybe it will come sooner.
UYGUR: All right. So I want to understand how we‘re going to resolve this, right, because, of course, Boehner says, I want all the cuts. And Reid says, I‘m not going to give you all the cuts. And you‘re right, even if they got all the cuts, who cares? It doesn‘t come close to balancing the budget.
Of course, what you really need to do is eliminate the Bush tax cuts but neither side is talking about that. But—so I‘m trying to understand how you reach a deal? What‘s the deal? Is it that you get half the cuts, a quarter of the cuts? How do the Senate and the House make a deal here?
DEFAZIO: Well, I mean, I think the president, through his spokesman, opened up the door today to doing cuts in this fiscal year. And I think there‘s, you know, some things that could be done. And you look at $20 billion, $30 billion, that would be half. You know, but we‘ve really got to break down some of the firewalls they have set here.
I mean, why can‘t we go after agriculture subsidies? Why are we paying people $20 billion this year to not grow things in a time when we‘re borrowing the $20 billion. I mean, that‘s kind of absurd? Why can‘t we look at subsidizing the oil and gas industry?
You know, if the Republicans would just give on those things, we could easily exceed their targets.
UYGUR: One last question for you, Congressman. Here‘s what I don‘t understand. Why don‘t the Democrats bring back the tax issue. I know they just settled it, right, so nobody has an appetite for it. But look, it‘s a matter, at the very least, rhetoric, to say hey, you cannot balance the budget this way. So—and if you‘re going to make the middle class pay and you‘re going to make the poor pay, why don‘t we have shared pain (ph) that includes the upper class and the rich?
DEFAZIO: Well, unfortunately, my leadership, including the president, are kind of compromised on that issue having pushed through those giant tax cuts in December. I voted no. In that one day, we increased the federal debt by $800 billion with one vote and brought us to what are now the record deficits that they‘re reacting against to cut all these programs.
That would have been a progressive way. I mean, we could have just walked away from all the extension of the tax cuts and we would have progressively raised taxes in America and cut the deficit in half over the next ten years. And the rates would have been the rates of the Clinton era when the economy boomed. Hey, that would have been pretty fair.
UYGUR: Now that was some honesty. Thank you, Congressman DeFazio, we appreciate it.
DEFAZIO: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now we‘re learning more about former Congressman Lee‘s infamous shirtless picture. A very amusing detail you don‘t want to miss. That‘s next.
UYGUR: Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer—that was interesting, something dropped on the set. Anyway, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says he‘s ready to defy federal law and ordered state officials to start killing entire wolf packs. They are protected under the endangered species act but Schweitzer says the wolves post a threat to livestock.
He told Reuters, quote, “If there‘s a dang wolf in your corral attacking your pregnant cow, shoot that wolf. And if its pals are in the crowd, shoot them, too.” Now I don‘t know why I made Schweitzer a southerner, but I went there. Schweitzer, of course, is from Montana is also a Democrat. So, hey, it‘s good to see shooting dang animals has become bipartisan. Here‘s what Sarah Palin‘s uncle might say to Schweitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, baby. There you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: We‘re having fun on this show. Now, earlier in the week, we introduced you to South Carolina‘s Republican State Senator Lee Bright. He had a whacky idea for the state to get rid of the U.S. dollar entirely and start its own currency. The reason? He was freaking out about the fed and said the system could break down at any moment.
Well, now we know why he hates the dollar so much. Because he doesn‘t have any. It turns out the ironically-named Mr. Bright owes $67,000 in taxes. Which might also explain why he doesn‘t like tax.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue filed a lien against the transportation company that he ran. Now, Bright says, it‘s all just a big misunderstanding. And I got to tell you, I loved his three different excuses. And he came up with three of them.
First, he said, oh, the bill was sent to the wrong address. Of course, I would have paid it. I owe $67,000? I didn‘t know that. Wrong address.
Second excuse was, I didn‘t report it because I didn‘t want to get special treatment as a legislature. Well, here‘s how you could have avoided that treatment? By paying your bill. Then you wouldn‘t have had any problem.
But my personal favorite. He said he was just testing the system to see how a regular taxpayer was treated. Can you imagine? I‘m just going to go $67,000 in debt and not pay them, just to test them, just to see how they are. Mr. Bright. OK.
Now, from one Lee to another, we‘re learning more about the infamous shirtless picture from former Congressman Chris Lee. Remember he sent it to a woman on Craigslist. And according the “New York Post,” so take it with a grain of salt, Lee took the picture during a Republican retreat Baltimore a few weeks ago after a few drinks with colleagues. That part I would believe.
Gawker confirms the correspondence between Lee and the woman happened on the same days of the retreat. And here comes the best part. The lecture that day was on the intelligent use of information technology. Disaster. Come on, how do you walk out of that and then do this? Was one of the slides on how you can pick up chicks by doing a MySpace picture in the mirror?
And I love how proud of him—proud of himself that he is in that picture. Do you see that? He‘s trying to give his best impersonation of The Situation from “Jersey Shore.” I wonder if he was trying to pick up Snooki?
All right. Coming up on the show, draconian cuts, union busting, government shutdown threats, the Tea Party has a Republican party running to the right and divided. The man that tied Chris Christie for third place in CPAC Straw Poll, Gary Johnson, is on the show. And he‘s going to weigh in on where the party‘s going next.
UYGUR: Welcome back. It seems like everybody is trying to go further right these days. Governor Scott Walker is busting up unions in Wisconsin, House Republicans are marching towards a government shutdown. We even got a democratic president openly flirting with Social Security and Medicare reform. So, conservatives fell like they‘ve got the momentum, and they‘re hungry for more. But something I‘m not entirely clear on is, what exactly do they want?
Speaker John Boehner proposed 61 billion in spending cuts. But the Tea Partiers are demanding $100 billion. OK. They want more, I get that. That most Republicans are war supporters who won‘t touch defense spending but the Ron Paul crowd wanted us out of Afghanistan yesterday. And freshman Tea Partiers helped vote down a huge fighter jet defense contract last night, which was great. On social issues, Republicans legislators are obsessed with the—I‘m sorry, with restricting abortion, while Barbara Bush and Meagan McCain are cutting pro-gay marriages. Will the real republican priorities please stand up, please stand up, please stand up, please stand up. A little Eminem there.
Anyway, CPAC was a conservative convention where all these strange and sometimes warring interest mixed together. And yet, no republican grab the battle. Look at the fascinating results of the presidential straw poll where Mitt Romney is the backup choice to Ron Paul. Paul-Romney in 2012? Probably not. And then you got New Jersey Governor/YouTube sensation Chris Christie, and he ties for third place with Gary Johnson.
And Sarah Palin isn‘t even on the board. Wait. Back up. Who‘s Gary Johnson and how the hell did he finish third? He‘s a libertarian or an old school conservative, whatever you want to call it. But are you ready for this? He‘s for gay rights and legalizing pot. And he beat out Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and even establishment heavyweight Newt Gingrich. So, how did he do it? And why is the right wing is so enthuse about it.
Well, like he is here, so we can just ask him. Joining me now is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. And he‘s also the honorary chairman of Our America Initiative. So, now governor, not a lot of people outside of New Mexico know you, I‘m just trying to keep it real.
GARY JOHNSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Totally real, yes, yes.
UYGUR: OK. So, how did you finish third?
JOHNSON: Well, you know, as governor of New Mexico, everything was a cost benefit analysis. Everything. What are we spending our money on? And what are we getting for the money that we‘re spending and so, as government New Mexico, I would like to think that this Cleo is the most conservative governor in the country based on that notion.
UYGUR: All right. So, your concern, you got your credentials there.
Do you think the pot had something to do with it? You‘re for legalizing.
And, you know, because you came out of nowhere.
JOHNSON: Well, the marijuana issue really falls in the context of
cost benefit. I mean, what are we spending and what are we getting for the
money that we‘re spending. So, when it comes to marijuana, half of law
enforcement, half the court, half the prisons, that‘s what we‘re spending,
about $70 billion a year. What are we getting for that? Well, we‘re
arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country. And we now have 2.3
million people behind bars. So, from a cost benefit analysis, really, it
needs go A through Z. You‘re just talking about M for marijuana. I think
I would like to think that what people respected about what I have done in New Mexico and what I‘m trying to bring to bear right now is just truth regarding all of these issues.
I advocate balancing the federal budget tomorrow. And that means Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and defense. I would be wanting out of Afghanistan yesterday. I would have been opposed to Iraq from the beginning. I think that all the arguments that could get posed for the problems that we‘d face getting out of Afghanistan or Iraq, we would have those same discussions 25 years from now, if that‘s when we decide to have those discussions.
UYGUR: To see, this is why it‘s so interesting governor because, I totally agree with half of what you‘re saying, so I mean, legalization, you make a great point. I mean, you were talking about government waste, we get all that waste, and what do we get? We get drug wars, we get gang violence, and we don‘t get anything. It‘s not like we won the war on drugs.
JOHNSON: So, when it comes to Medicaid and Medicare, the federal government could block, grant the states, Medicaid and Medicare giving the states back health care for the poor and those over 65. And maybe 65 changes to a different age, do away with the mandates. But the notion would be 50 laboratories of innovation, look, we‘re all competitive. We‘re all out for best practices, we would live within our means. I just think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we‘re spending more money than what we‘re taking in. And I‘ve lived my entire life watching government take in more money than what it spends. And I‘ve just always thought that that wouldn‘t be sustainable. And I just think that day of unsustainability is here right now.
UYGUR: We agree on that too. I‘ve got massive concerns about the deficit, we also agree on Afghanistan or Iraq et cetera, but let‘s get to what we disagree on, right? So, because you mention Social Security in there. Now, that is not part of the problem with the deficit at all. It‘s not in the deficit.
JOHNSON: No, it‘s not. Social Security is a system that is based on taking in more money than what it takes out. So, we‘re really not talking about cutting Social Security. We‘re talking about, if you want to call it reform, we‘re talking about a reform to Social Security.
UYGUR: What would that reform be?
JOHNSON: Well, let me toss out of few things, so, one would be raising the retirement age.
UYGUR: No, that‘s unacceptable. That‘s a cut. That‘s an absolute cut. Look, to give you a sense, governor, to give you a sense, if you retired at the age of 70 instead of 65, you know that you miss out on $63,000 with retirement benefits. That‘s a huge cut.
JOHNSON: This is something that can be phased in. But Cenk, I just believed that if we don‘t address these issues, we‘re going to be left with nothing. And by nothing, are we still going to receive our Social Security checks? Yes, but they‘re just not going to buy anything because all the cash we‘re printing to cover these obligations.
UYGUR: No, but listen, here‘s the thing. Like when you talk sense on saving money, I hear you. But Social Security is a $2.5 trillion surplus. It makes no sense to cut that. You don‘t have to.
JOHNSON: This is the first year that we paid out more money than what.
UYGUR: No, no, right now, there‘s supposed to be $2.5 trillion. And that‘s the good faith of the United States government. So, when we say, hey, oh, the bond market would collapse if we didn‘t pay Chin, if we didn‘t pay Saudi Arabia. It‘s also a huge problem if we don‘t pay the people who paid into Social Security.
JOHNSON: But we‘ve been paying out Social Security. So, we we‘re going to actually have to print more money to pay out Social Security. I think you can do again back to Reagan.
UYGUR: I mean, we have to pay our bills. Social Security is our bills. And it‘s our bill not to Saudi Arabia. It‘s our bill to the American people who paid into it.
JOHNSON: And when Social Security was established, let‘s see, nobody was going to even live to 65 when Social Security was established. So using that same correlation today, that same ratio today, maybe it ought to be 80-years-old.
UYGUR: No, no, no, that‘s where you lose me.
JOHNSON: When it was first established.
UYGUR: And look, white collar workers live longer today, but that‘s not necessarily true of blue collar workers. So, this idea of oh, my God, we‘re all living longer is not necessarily true, depends on who you‘re talking about. Carl Rove might be living longer but the worker that is working his whole life.
JOHNSON: Statistically, we‘re living to 79-years-old as opposed to 62-years-old when Social Security was established.
UYGUR: Since 1972, the upper brackets are now living four years longer than the lower brackets in this country. So there‘s a huge difference in how much—who‘s actually living longer.
JOHNSON: I think clearly everybody is living longer. I mean, that‘s the average. I mean, what are we at today? Seventy-nine versus 62 when Social Security was established.
UYGUR: I would never agree to cut their.
JOHNSON: I‘m not saying cut. I‘m not saying cut.
UYGUR: You are saying cut. I‘m just telling you, if you‘re saying retire later, you‘re saying cut.
JOHNSON: I say, make the system viable. Make the system.
UYGUR: We agree on a lot of things, that‘s good.
JOHNSON: I got it. It‘s a good conversation. I like it.
UYGUR: Right. OK. Because you‘re real conservative and you know, my problem is the guys who sell out to lobbyists, whether Republicans or Democrats.
JOHNSON: Government picking winners and losers. I‘m going to be back on here, I can see that right now.
UYGUR: Right. I hate and don‘t like that either. That‘s good. OK, so now, the last thing. How do you solve it? How about if we go back to the Clinton era tax rate where we created 22 million jobs in eight years. Do you know what that could give us? Five trillion over the next ten years. Problem solved. I balanced the budget.
JOHNSON: Well, so, creating jobs, government, getting rid of impediments to entrepreneurs that would create more jobs in this country.
UYGUR: Right, that‘s what Clinton did. So, we agree?
JOHNSON: Well, both parties have done it. Both parties are at.
UYGUR: No, Bush didn‘t do it. Bush created about a million jobs and then immediately lost after he went out of office because he created this terrible mistake.
JOHNSON: I‘m in the camp that believes that lower taxes actually promote better economies. I mean that.
UYGUR: All right. So, that‘s where we disagree again because that‘s not what history bears out. Well, you‘ve been a great sports, Governor.
JOHNSON: And thank you for having me on.
UYGUR: Governor Johnson, great pleasure. Very interesting person and obviously rising in the Republican Party. Thank you.
Now, to find out what Tea Partiers want, I want to go right to the source. I want to talk to them. I‘m curious because there‘s some issues where we‘re in totally agreement as you just saw, like telling the ridiculous F-35 defense contract. The Tea Party grassroots also has something else in common with the progressive net roots. A healthy distrust of this establishment. The politicians, the lobbyist, the ruling class. Earlier this week, I told you about the investigation by Mother Jones of Tea Party patriots which starts as a grassroots organization in 2009 but has become a pipeline to funnel money to the establishment, republican, political machine.
Joining me now is one of the people speaking out, Laura Boatright, and she‘s a former regional coordinator for those Tea Party patriots.
Laura, I‘m glad you‘ve come over for tea. I like that. For us, tell us about what made you disgruntled about the Tea Party patriots on a national level?
LAURA BOATRIGHT, EX-TEA PARTY PATRIOTS ORGANIZATION: Well, first of all, Cenk, thank you for having me today. What made me disgruntled me—personally disgruntled is when I saw them threatening and they way they were abusing organizers. Their own affiliated organizers.
UYGUR: OK, now, how were they doing that? What do you mean by that?
BOATRIGHT: Oh, they were availed legal threats that they would bring action against organizers who did nothing more than use e-mail lists that were, our e-mail lists, and they were provided for us to be able to network together. And that was the very beginning of my dissatisfaction with Tea Party Patriots.
UYGUR: Why do you think they‘re doing that? Why do you think they‘re trying to intimidate their own local, you know, organizers?
BOATRIGHT: It‘s taken me a while to figure it out, but the bottom line is they want to raise money and contact lists are an avenue to raise money. And when they want to raise money, they want to raise money for Tea Party Patriots corporate, not for Tea Party Patriot local organizers and grassroots activists.
UYGUR: You know, when we did this story a couple of days ago on the program, we saw that about 70 to 75 percent of the money being raised by the local Tea Party like yourself wind up going to the media companies who are running those campaigns. Does that rub you the wrong way?
BOATRIGHT: Well, that‘s a little bit of a misstatement there, Cenk. Because those media, trust me, I‘m a grassroots activist and any fundraising we do is done by selling t-shirts. We don‘t go and use any big consulting companies, Tea Party Patriots incorporated—corporate, that‘s one thing I really want to make sure here, Tea Party patriots is not the grassroots movement. The grassroots movement doesn‘t have a headquarters anywhere in America. We are at kitchen tables all across America, moms and dads, looking at these problems like you just discussed. So we don‘t have a corporate address. So when I‘m talking about Tea Party Patriots, it‘s Tea Party Patriots corporate. Now, they do hire high paid consultants and in fact, I do wonder what donors—the people who budget their dollars to send Tea Party Patriots $20, I wonder if they realize that 70 percent of that have is going to a high paid fundraising group. I‘m sure that they don‘t.
UYGUR: I want to ask you one last question. What do you think happened to the leadership? Do you think they just went to D.C. and all of a sudden, they got corrupted by the power? And you think there‘s a way to get around that, because it seems like whoever goes to D.C. instantly says, oh, it‘s media coverage, these lobbyists, they‘re fantastic. How do you get beyond that, Laura?
BOATRIGHT: Well, we don‘t need to get beyond it. But the movement to live and well, the movement is all across America, how we do it is like, by people like me organizers, taking control of our own movement and basically dethroning the self-appointed leaders that are in the nation. This is our movement. It doesn‘t belong to anybody.
UYGUR: Yes. And look, here‘s what I‘m interested in. People who actually believe in their ideals whether it‘s conservative, liberals, moderate, it doesn‘t matter. I‘m just like you, I don‘t like the establishment taking the money and directing it to the powerful in Washington. We‘ve got no interest in that. So, Laura Boatright, thanks so much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
BOATRIGHT: Thank you, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, a major informant in the run-up to the Iraq war says, Saddam‘s WMD‘s were all made up. Colin Powell is demanding answers and so am I. His former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is on the show, and he‘s next.
UYGUR: Coming up, a republican who oppose contraception for humans, is in-favor of providing it for horses. I‘m not kidding. We‘ll explain why he‘s discriminating against Homo sapiens.
UYGUR: Some of us knew that there wasn‘t any evidence or shortly enough evidence, weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war. That would be me for example. But others claimed that it was, quote, “a slam dunk.” One of the most questionable sources of information on Iraq was a guy that was so shady they called him Curveball. He‘s an Iraqi defector who told investigators, that Saddam Hussein had secret biological weapons program. And guess what? He‘s now finally admitted he made it all up. Here‘s what Curveball told “The Guardian.” Quote, “they gave me this chance, I had the chance to fabricate something to topple Saddam‘s regime.”
Curveball originally told his story to German intelligence officials well before the Iraq war started. And they knew he was full of it and they didn‘t care what he said or he had to say until someone in Washington wanted information, bogus or not. Now, listen to what Curveball says about that. Quote, “the German intelligence knew in 2000 that I was lying. After they talked to my former boss, Dr. Bassil Latif, who told him there were no mobile bioweapons factories. Then all of a sudden in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, they came back to me and started asking for more details about what I had told them. I still don‘t know why they then passed on my information to the CIA, and it ended up in Powell‘s speech.”
Oh, oh, I know, I know. It‘s because they needed manufactured evidence right before the war. That wasn‘t hard to figure out. Now, here‘s Powell in 2003 explaining how the U.S. knew Saddam Hussein had mobile production facility that made biological agents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The source was an eye-witness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oops. That would be Curveball. Now, here‘s what Powell said this week after Curveball‘s admission, quote, “the question should be put to the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency as to why this wasn‘t known before the false information was put into the NIE sent to Congress. The president‘s State of the Union Address and February 5th presentation to the U.N. Now, that‘s a great question. And even better question is, who knew Curveball was lying and who didn‘t? To help me answer that important question, we‘re going to talk to a man who was there.
Retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, he served as a chief of staff to the Secretary of State Colin Powell. Colonel Wilkerson, I want to start with this. Look, everybody wants to know. Did Colin Powell know or did he not know when he made that presentation that there was questionable evidence in there?
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, POWELL‘S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: I live cheek and jowl with George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence and his intelligence deputy John McLaughlin for five days and five nights. I never heard a single word of doubt expressed about what we were told were four separate sources independently collaborating one another that proved the existence of mobile biological labs, one of which was an Iraqi chemical engineer who‘d actually worked in the labs and had seen an accident occurred that killed some 12 people, confirming that the ingredients in the labs that were lethal. That‘s all we were told. And what I‘ve found out since, much of which you just reiterated makes me very angry.
UYGUR: So, the question of, do you think you were flat-out lied to?
WILKERSON: I cannot come to any other conclusion, especially when I have discovered that no U.S. personnel were present, when Curveball was interrogated by the B and D, the German Intelligence Service, that we accepted that, that we even had a head of European division for the CIA Tyler Drumheller, who at the last minute during Powell‘s preparation, during my preparation of the secretary had told both tenant and McLaughlin that Curveball might not be reliable, that information was never relayed to secretary of state or to me. I have some serious doubts about it now. I think there was some manipulation of this material and there was some outright lying.
UYGUR: So, who do you think lied to you?
WILKERSON: That‘s an interesting question. We also had two of the very most integral to this intelligence picture, people from WINPAC, from CIA vowels if you will who knew all about weapons of mass destruction, not just in Iraq, but elsewhere. We had two of those people with us. I have since learned that one of those people may have been talking directly to the vice president‘s office, to Dick Cheney‘s office. So, he was working for two masters. These people were very convincing. They were, after all, the experts. They were, after all, the people whom Dr. Rice and Rich Armitage and Colin Powell and others pestered to get the right answers out of it.
Meeting after meeting after meeting at Langley. And these people gave the information, some of which you‘ve reiterated here tonight. So, who was lying? Who was lying in this whole process? Or who was caught up in a colossal group think? There‘s got to be some duplicity, though. There‘s got to be some not telling of the complete truth there, because the Secretary of State was not told the complete truth and this was one of the instances where he was not.
UYGUR: Do you think the vice president‘s office manipulated you and Secretary Powell into giving the speech?
UYGUR: And knowing that Colin Powell had the credibility, knowing that Colin Powell was the most resistant to the war inside the administration. If he makes the case for them, they gain that credibility and then they set Powell up to take the fall. Do you think that‘s what happened?
WILKERSON: Before I went to Langley, I got my team together and one of the things we talked about was Adlai Stevenson‘s speech at the U.N. during the Cuban missile crisis. One of my team said, why is Powell doing this? Adlai Stevenson was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Why isn‘t he doing that? And I looked at him and I said, you asked me that question? The only member of this administration with any credibility is Colin Powell. He‘s got poll ratings like Mother Theresa. They‘re using him.
UYGUR: Wow. One last question for you, knowing what you know now about Curveball and other evidence, would you have said we should not go to war in Iraq?
WILKERSON: That‘s a different question all together. I will say this, I believe had Curveball not even existed, had we not had the intelligence picture we had, we still would have gone to war with Iraq because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were absolutely intent to do so.
UYGUR: Colonel Wilkerson, we thank you very much for your honesty tonight. And we appreciate you joining us.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: All right. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: Now, time to have some fun to end the show tonight. I would like to introduce the country to the lovely Ana Kasparian, she‘s my co-host on “The Young Turks.” We do many fun and thought provoking stories together every single day. So, we thought, we do some for you tonight. Ana, how are you doing?
ANA KASPARIAN, HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: I‘m doing great. How are you, Cenk?
UYGUR: All right. Awesome, let‘s do it. What have you got for us first?
KASPARIAN: All right. Well, is global warming beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana? That‘s what one Montana representative says. Joe Read is arguing in a new bill aimed at declaring Global Warming and natural occurrence, that is not caused by human activity. The bill would essentially outlaw Science, something that the first-time legislator admits, is a little radical. But his rationale is that, global Science is an ideal, but not an actual Science.
UYGUR: All right. He says, Global Warming is real, right?
KASPARIAN: Yes. Because it‘s real.
UYGUR: And that it rocks.
KASPARIAN: He does make an argument that Global Warming could be beneficial to Montana. So, I‘m going to read you his quote, he says, “our weather is not going to change drastically, but even if it does get warmer, we‘re going to have longer growing seasons, it could be very beneficial to the state of Montana. Why are we going to stop this progress?
UYGUR: Global Warming is progress and Science has been banned. We‘re making progress. All right. One more quick story.
KASPARIAN: All right. Anti-family planning Representative Dan Burton is introducing a spending amendment that would promote the use of contraception for wild horses. The republican from Indiana says, the amendment would control the population of wild horses and birds as an alternative to the pricey practice of capturing and holding them in fence. Burton also seeks to cut funding from title X, which is the only federal program for family planning for humans.
UYGUR: So, against family planning for humans but for it for horses.
Seems a little contradictory.
KASPARIAN: Absolutely. So, he‘s definitely not pro life for horse fetuses.
UYGUR: I did not know that. You learn something new every day. I don‘t know what he thinks about ghost. Ana, thank you.
KASPARIAN: Thank you.
UYGUR: That‘s the show for today. Everybody get ready for “HARDBALL” because it‘s coming and it starts right now.
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