Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Thursday, February 24th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Thursday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Tom Barrett, Harold Schaitberger, Mary Boyle, Philip Weiss,
Lawrence Wilkerson, Robert Greenwald
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur, and we‘ve got a huge show for you tonight, as we‘re going to talk about how the battle in Wisconsin might actually be the right wing‘s Waterloo. Yes, you heard me right. I said it.
I think this is where they might have actually hit a turning point and suffered a serious defeat. Now, let me tell you why.
First, Governor Scott Walker has now been exposed as a radical. He has shown repeatedly that he‘s driven by a hard right wing ideology. Yesterday, he was joking about taking a baseball bat to Democrats with a guy that he thought was his billionaire donor friend.
And then this morning, Governor Walker dispatched state troopers to try to round up the 14 Democratic state senators who fled the state to block the spending bill. He‘s trying to send them in at night to sneak around their house and see if they can capture them.
Now, look, the second thing we‘ve learned about Governor Walker is that he doesn‘t really care about jobs much, certainly not middle class jobs.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: I‘ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices we‘ll announce Thursday, and they‘ll go out early next week, and we‘ll probably get 5,000 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, too.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: Look at this guy. Does he look like he‘s trying to help the average Wisconsin voter? He seems like he‘s relishing the idea of firing people. Do you think he cares about you? He doesn‘t care about you. It‘s obvious.
And look, it‘s not just about you and I recognizing that. It‘s about the voters of Wisconsin that just voted for him going, hey, wait a minute, this guy told me he was going to create jobs, and here he is telling his billionaire donor friend, oh, don‘t worry, I‘ve got 5,000 to 6,000 layoff notices coming. Oh, we‘re going to hit them hard.
That‘s not what they elected you for.
And the third thing that Walker has taught is that his real boss and his real aim is to help the Koch brothers. Those are his bosses. That prank call yesterday made it crystal clear who he actually reports to.
Now, let me give you a little of better context as to why Walker cares so much about the Koch brothers. Are you ready for this? I hope you‘re sitting down.
It turns out it‘s all about the money. And it‘s not just the $43,000 that the Koch industries gave to Walker‘s campaign directly. It‘s also the $3.4 million the Republican Governors Association chipped in for ads attacking his opponent.
Now, where did they get that money? Well, at least $1 million of it came from the Koch brothers.
Look, you can tell from the tapes that Walker‘s conversation with the fake David Koch, that he thinks that he‘s, you know, pretty much untouchable. He‘s like, look, I have got these guys running scared. I‘m on top of this. I‘m never going to bend. I‘m going to grab a bat.
He thinks he can‘t lose. But the reality is that the tide is turning.
Similar protests in Ohio and Indiana have legislators backpedaling. Those are Republicans backpedaling. Their anti-collective bargaining bills have either been weakened or killed all together already.
And Ohio‘s governor, John Kasich, and Indiana‘s governor, Mitch Daniels, almost sound like they‘re praising the Wisconsin and Indiana Democrats who left their states to prevent the votes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO: You know, I could have seen a day in Washington when I was down there as a congressman where the Democrats were using dictatorial rule where we would just get up and walk out of the chamber. OK? I mean, let‘s be fair. If you were down there, you might walk out of the chamber, OK?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. MITCH DANIELS ®, INDIANA: The activities of today are a perfectly legitimate part of the process, even the smallest minority. And that‘s what we‘ve heard from in the last couple of days, and has every right to express the strength of its views. And I salute those who did.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
UYGUR: They‘re saluting the Democratic protesters. I mean, that is a full backpedal, backpedal, backpedal. That‘s better than Spitz. That‘s the old swimmer, right? OK.
So, now if you think that‘s bad, even Chris Christie of New Jersey is running away from this issue. He said, that he was “ready to embrace the collective bargaining situation.” They got Christie embracing the situation. No, not that one, the collective bargaining situation.
Now, not only are the other governors running away from him, but he‘s actually become a bit of a punch line for other top Republicans. Here‘s Mike Huckabee today at the National Press Club.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FMR. ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I want to thank you for coming. I was almost late. I was detained for a few minutes. I had a phone call from David Koch, and that lasted nearly 20 minutes. But I was finally able to break loose and get here today to be with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Look, he‘s joking around about Walker, but the reality is Huckabee said he might not even run for president because he hates raising the money. Guys like Walker apparently don‘t hate it. They relish talking to the billionaires and they relish firing you if they have to, if that‘s the orders that they got.
Now, as if that weren‘t enough, some of Governor Walker‘s in-state buddies, they might even be beginning to lose heart here. The Wisconsin Senate majority leader‘s wife is one of the school staff—you know what happened to her? -- who got a layoff notice today.
So the majority leader was actually the one who officially sent the cops to try and track down the Democrats. Why? Is he in a little bit of a panic now that it‘s his family that might get affected? His wife who might get fired?
Now all of a sudden it‘s not theoretical anymore. It‘s, oh, I‘ve got to find those Democrats. What happened? Oh, my God, my family might be affected.
Yes, all of our families are affected if you go after these guys.
The bottom line here is this—as Walker remains intransigent, whether he wins in the short run on this particular bill, it appears he might have done great damage to himself, and even worse damage to the right-wing idea of going after the middle class, saying it‘s their fault, they caused the deficit, I‘m going to take it out of their hide. That idea might be losing.
So win or lose on this bill, this might just be the right wing‘s Waterloo since the people in Wisconsin and the American people overall are now realizing how radical they are, where they get their money, and just how little they care about the average voter.
Joining me now is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He lost to Governor Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Mayor, they spent a lot of that money against you. In fact, the $3.4 million came from the Republican Governors Association.
When you see the Koch brothers with their easy access to the governor, knowing that some of that money got funneled through the Koch brothers to him, are you surprised at all? Or do you think, well, of course, that‘s who he works for?
MAYOR TOM BARRETT, MILWAUKEE: Well, Cenk, I really don‘t look back to 2010. To me, that‘s water over the dam. But what I‘m concerned about is what‘s happening to the state, because this is a state where, historically, we‘ve had strong Democrats and Republicans. But at the end of the day, we worked—sat down to get things done.
If you listen to that transcript of what he was talking about yesterday, Governor Walker, when he thought he was talking to Mr. Koch, it was clear that this was not about a budget crisis. It was very clear that this is all about an attack on people‘s right to organize and bargain.
That‘s what the agenda is here. It‘s a national agenda.
Unfortunately, the state that I love, Wisconsin, has been chosen as the state to play this out in, and it‘s just not good for the people in this state. And I realize that we‘re the butt of late-night TV jokes and other politicians around the country, but the sad part is, these are real people, and real lives are being affected by this.
And what I want to do is I want to see resolution to this. And there is a path to resolve this so that you do have public employees pay more for their pensions and health care, that you have all public employees involved. But you don‘t have to rip apart the rights that have been established in this state over 50 years ago to collectively bargain and to organize.
UYGUR: What‘s your sense of the people in Wisconsin? Look, I get the sense that—because I see the national polls, nearly 2 to 1 advantage, people saying of course you need collective bargaining. We saw the AFL-CIO poll within Wisconsin. And more polls are going to come out showing Walker is in a lot of trouble here.
But you‘re on the ground. What‘s your sense? Do you think the people of Wisconsin are saying this guy is too right wing, too radical?
BARRETT: Well, my sense is that the majority of the people in the state agree that public employees have to pay more for health care and pensions. That‘s something that he ran on, that was something that he talked about during the campaign.
I talked about that during the campaign. But what he didn‘t talk about was—this came out of thin air—was this whole notion that the rights to collectively bargain and collectively organize would be thrown out the window. That‘s all just occurred really in the last three weeks. And so it has sparked a fire across the state where people in many communities are very, very upset about this.
He said he was going to exclude firefighters and police, and then we have firefighters from around the state who are there in Madison saying they‘re opposed to this bill because they know what‘s going on. They might be excluded now, but they‘ll be the next ones. They‘ll be the next ones that will be included.
The private unions feel the same way, that they may be excluded from this, but this is the natural step that the right to work people want. First they go after public employees, not the safety people. Then they go after public safety, then they go after the private unions.
UYGUR: Is there any chance that if he sees a couple polls out there showing, hey, you know what, the people aren‘t on your side, they get that those—the guys that you mentioned are next and they don‘t like it, that he backs down? Or is he just going to sit there and just go to the bitter end here, no matter what the people of Wisconsin say?
BARRETT: Well, Cenk, you have to look at who he‘s talking to. And you could see it yesterday with the conversation with Mr. Koch.
What he‘s talking to—or the people he‘s talking to are the people on the far right in this country. That‘s his constituency.
He was making fun of a Democratic state senator, saying, well, he‘s just a pragmatic person, using that as a negative term, because he said he‘s not conservative, he‘s not one of us, he‘s pragmatic, he wants to get things done. For his base, they‘re loving this.
I think that he‘s having the time of his life because he has got the national spotlight on this state right now, what he‘s doing to try to break unions. And for his bread and butter, for his constituency that contributes to his campaign, this couldn‘t be better for him. This could not be better for him, because he can really play to that hard, hard right base.
UYGUR: You know, that‘s a really interesting point, because he seems to be trying to address the nation and saying look, I‘m more right wing than anybody else. And his real constituency are the guys who got them elected, those his huge, huge donors. So, to them, maybe this looks terrific. And so pointing out what his constituency is, that‘s exactly right, I think.
All right. Milwaukee Mayor—
BARRETT: Well, I think those donors love it, but I don‘t know that the general populous here in the state of Wisconsin likes it.
UYGUR: Yes. Well, that‘s his problem. And we‘re going to see how that gets resolved the next time he‘s up for an election.
So, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, thanks for your time tonight. Really appreciate it.
BARRETT: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now joining me is Harold Schaitberger. He‘s the president of the International Association of Firefighters.
And I want to talk to you about the national scope here. What do you think? Do you think that the momentum here for this hard right wing ideology has stopped cold in its tracks, given what you‘re seeing out of the governors, whether it‘s Daniels in Indiana, Kasich in Ohio, even Chris Christie saying oh, no, no, no collective bargaining is totally OK.
HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, INTERNATIONAL ASSN. OF FIREFIGHTERS: Well, let‘s start with, Cenk, first, this is truly an organized, coordinated effort all across this country to try to silence workers‘ voices and to try to deny them their basic rights. Many of those rights, as in Wisconsin, that they‘ve enjoyed for over 50 years.
If you take a look at really what‘s going on, this is about governors promoting collective bargaining withdrawal, or undermining collective bargaining rights in at least eight states: Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, of course Wisconsin, Ohio. I mean, if you layered that on top of 12 states, right to work laws now being considered, New Hampshire just passing it in their House of Representatives, a bill to undermine and gut workers‘ rights and the ability for unions to represent workers.
If you take a look at paycheck deception laws that they call protection laws to silence workers in the political arena, 15 states. If you look at the laws that were passed in Alabama to deny workers the ability to simply deduct dues from their paycheck so that they could be members of their unions, it‘s now in Tennessee, moving into Oklahoma, several other states.
This is a coordinated attack to try to assault and gut America‘s labor movement. And they‘re using the old tactics of divide and conquer. Whether they‘re trying to divide the private sector workers from public sector workers, or, as in Wisconsin, they thought they would divide us by trying to give firefighters, cops and troopers a little something, taking it away from everybody else, hoping that we would battle amongst ourselves while they just stand on the sidelines.
And that‘s not working. We are united in Wisconsin.
UYGUR: And it‘s a credit to the firefighters who say hey, look, even though this didn‘t affect me, I‘m still going to fight for my fellow worker.
So now the real critical question, if you ask me, is, did this work against the Republicans? So they tried this, as you said, and they wanted to spread it to other states. We‘ve been showing it all week, all their attempts to try to spread it to other states. But now it looks like they‘re in a little bit of a retreat.
Did they screw up here? Was this a tactical mistake? Did they lose?
SCHAITBERGER: Well, it does look like that we have some governors that are taking another look at this strategy. Obviously, you mentioned Indiana, and now it appears that right to work that was moving through that legislature has been withdrawn.
They‘re taking a look at Michigan, where the governor there looks like he is slowing down the effort to undermine their collective bargaining law. I believe it‘s fair to say taking the position, let‘s see how Wisconsin works out.
So I think you‘re seeing a pause, but I do not underestimate the significance of these attacks. I don‘t underestimate Governor Walker‘s resolve.
Obviously, that tape simply shows that he is reveling in this. And he thinks that he is simply not going to bend or break.
And I can tell you this—this is what‘s really sad. The public needs to understand, the employees in Wisconsin have been trying to meet with the governor. He refuses to meet with them.
They‘ve made it clear that they understand that they have to pay more toward their pension, more toward their health care. This isn‘t about the budget. This is just old-fashioned union-busting right now, and he sees this as an opportunity to be ground zero to start undermining and dismantling America‘s labor movement. And we are taking a stand and we are fighting back.
UYGUR: And it looks like your stand is working to some degree.
So, Harold Schaitberger, thank you for joining us tonight. We appreciate you coming on here.
SCHAITBERGER: Thanks for having me. Thanks so much for having me.
UYGUR: All right. Thank you, man.
Now, news today that the oil industry‘s lobbying group will donate directly to political candidates. Do you think the oil industry is getting worried about losing its $46 billion subsidy? Of course, that subsidy makes no sense whatsoever, but they‘re getting ready to try to get more of that money.
Plus, an exclusive report reveals secret mind games by military leaders in Afghanistan in an effort to convince members of Congress to support the war. It‘s an amazing and disturbing story about what they think they can do to our congressmen and to our senators.
And he‘s back. Former senator Rick Santorum wants to be president, which is a joke. And he thinks rewriting the history on the crusades is the way to get there.
All right. We‘re going to check it when we come back.
UYGUR: The lobbying wing of the oil industry, the American Petroleum Institute, is starting a political action committee to donate campaign cash directly to candidates. Now, before, they used to give the money in lobbying money. They would just generally send it to Congress for different things.
But now they‘re saying, oh, we don‘t really care. We‘re going to tell you. I‘m giving it to Congressman Bob and I‘m giving it to Congresswoman Jane.
Now, Congress is considering repealing the $46 billion that the U.S. government gives out in oil subsidies. So I don‘t think it‘s a coincidence that they‘ve made this decision.
Now, who is the American Petroleum Institute? Well, API is the official lobby for the oil industry in Washington, and it spent $6.8 million on lobbying last year. But that‘s just the tip of the iceberg.
Our political system is already drowning in money from big oil and gas. The industry overall spent a grand total of $349 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 and 2010.
Now, let me put that in perspective for you. That‘s more than $650,000 for each of the 535 members of Congress.
That‘s like going over there and saying hey, you know what -- hey, Bob, would you like $635,000? You know what Bob‘s going to say? Hell, yes, I would.
And then they‘re going to take it. And guess which way they are going to vote? They‘re going to vote for the oil industry. That‘s how it works.
Now, what‘s interesting about this news is how brazen it is. They used to try to hide which politicians they were giving the money to, because, look, honestly, it could hurt the politicians. They could run ads saying oh, do you see that? They‘re taking money from Exxon or Chevron.
Now they don‘t even care. They‘re showing us their cards because they think there‘s not a damn thing we can do about it. He‘s like yes, I‘ve got two kings. What have you got? You don‘t have anything better than that.
It‘s brazen. The capitol has become like a NASCAR rally where lawmakers are sponsored by oil companies.
These are three of the big oil companies that contributed the most to the 2010 midterm campaign. That‘s Koch—I‘ve heard that name before—
Exxon and Chevron. And plus we threw in Halliburton just for fun. They‘re also huge in the oil industry, of course.
And what team do you think they‘re playing for? Well, they‘re overwhelmingly playing for the team GOP.
The midterm campaign contributions from just these four oil companies went like this: Koch, 93 percent to the GOP; ExxonMobil, 87 percent to the GOP; Chevron is down right bipartisan, with only 82 percent to the GOP; and Halliburton, of course Dick Cheney‘s old company, went 89 percent to the GOP.
And this is how our government gets bought. They think they‘re so close to checkmate, they‘re not even taking their normal precautions anymore. What they said basically today was, gentlemen of the oil industry, start your engines.
All right. Joining me now is Mary Boyle. She‘s the vice president of Common Cause. They‘re trying to fight this all the time. Not going too well, though.
Mary, this does seem quite brazen doesn‘t it, saying, hey, you know what, we‘re going to tell you who we‘re giving the money to and we don‘t think that there‘s any way you can effectively fight back?
MARY BOYLE, COMMON CAUSE: Yes. Well, what they‘ve done is essentially create a new vehicle, yet another vehicle, to contribute money directly to Congress, to buy a Congress that, as you pointed out, is very likely to do its bidding and fight pollution controls and environmental regulations.
UYGUR: So let‘s talk about that for a second, because people forget the pollution aspect of this. We‘ve talked about in the context of Koch Industries, but it applies to so much of the oil and gas industry.
So one of the reasons they buy the politicians is to get the subsidies and the tax breaks, et cetera. But another reason is to make sure that our air is polluted. Now, that‘s not because they want it to pollute the air and they want to hurt people. It‘s because they want to make more money.
But that‘s what happens, right, when our politicians take the money? They go, OK, pollute the air, somebody else‘s kids get sick, so what? I got paid.
BOYLE: Well, certainly. I mean, corporations exist to be profitable. Government exists to protect the public interest and to work for the public interest. When corporations get this, you know, stranglehold on government, then who is advocating and looking out for the public interest? And that‘s what we‘re seeing, and that‘s a scary thing.
UYGUR: Mary, what on God‘s green earth are we going to do about it?
You know? Because it looks pretty hopeless now.
BOYLE: Well, we have to change the way we pay for political campaigns. We have to get special interests like oil and gas.
And, you know, there are about 14 other ones that are ahead of them in terms of giving more to politicians. We have to get them out of the business of paying for political campaigns and use public money which, then you will have a Congress that is working for constituents, working for voters, and not working for the people and the interests that paid for their campaigns.
UYGUR: Look, I‘m not hopeful about the Democrats and I‘m not high on them. And I think a lot of them take the same money and do the same things, right?
UYGUR: But the Republicans appear to be nearly a wholly owned subsidiary of these guys. So how do you get beyond this problem when you have got one party who will not budge in the terms that Governor Walker might use and says, all right, look, when my donors call me, and they‘re the oil guys, I will do their bidding, and I will make sure I defeat you and basically our democracy.
BOYLE: Yes. You know, we are at a tipping point. And the American public is just getting increasingly fed up with this.
You probably know a Supreme Court decision last year allowed corporations to spend unlimited money to basically advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate. You‘re going to see even more corporate money in the 2012 election.
We think that this is going to anger the public. Finally, it‘s going to take a really bad situation to drive home the fact that if the public wants any representation in Congress, then Congress has got to do something.
And Congress has got to feel the public pressure before they‘re going to do something. So that‘s what we need to do, is pressure Congress to change.
UYGUR: All right.
Mary Boyle of Common Cause.
Thanks for your time.
Look, I want to say something to the audience before we go to the break.
Look, guys, our democracy is on the line here. I mean, whether you‘re a Republican or a Democrat, you can‘t like these guys not working for you.
In our democracy, they‘re supposed to work for us, not work for the guys who are the highest bidders. We‘ve got to find a way to change this. If we don‘t, our democracy is gone and it‘s just been bought.
So whether it‘s the oil companies or whether it‘s the banks—and unfortunately, the one thing I think might be able to change it is when the banks crash, because they‘re going to crash because they bought the congressmen just like the oil company guys. And they‘re going to take more and more risks so they make more and more money in the short run.
The same thing with the oil guys. They think, oh, pollution is a risk, but everybody will be all right as long as I make money in the short run.
Eventually, this thing crashes, and I‘ll tell you, that‘s going to be a bad, bad moment. And I want you to know who did it to you. OK?
It was these guys who only cared about the money. I hope to God we can get ahead of it and we can stop it before it happens.
All right. Now let me tell you what else is happening in the show.
President Obama has a new challenger for 2012. And you really won‘t believe who it is.
And why are Christine O‘Donnell supporters lashing out at the Republican chairman in Delaware? Well, we‘ll show you that as well.
UYGUR: Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana has already done what Governor Walker is proposing to do now in Wisconsin, eliminate collective bargaining first public unions in his state. Now, that was pretty low. But we found out today that there were times when he was pretty high. He admitted that interview with the Daily Princetonian that he was busted in 1970 when he was attending Princeton for having two large shoe boxes full of marijuana. And by the way, some LSD and prescription drugs.
Now, that‘s a lot of dates with Mary Jane and tripping on LSD is not exactly what you would expect from a possible republican presidential candidate, but he was fined $350 at the time and he says, quote, “justice was served.” Yes, I don‘t think so. Not really. You know what I‘ll do? I‘ll let bygones be bygones when he lets people out of Indiana prisons for possession of the same kind of drugs he was busted with. Is he going to do that? Yes, I don‘t think so. But, you know, they were just average folks. They didn‘t go to Princeton. Nothing wrong with going to Princeton. Something wrong with having two different standards. I want to get back to that at the end of the show. You don‘t want to miss that either.
All right. I‘m on the warpath on that. Now, on the Rick Santorum, he thinks liberals have a distorted view of history. And an appearance to South Carolina, he said the history of the crusades has been corrupted by the American left. Quote, the idea that the crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom. They hit western civilization at the core. That‘s the problem. No, the problem is you‘re an idiot. That is not at all what history shows. History shows the exact opposite.
The Muslims did not go up from the Middle East to Europe to attack Christendom. The Christian army crusaded down to Jerusalem to attack the Muslims. By the way, they killed thousands of, not just Muslims, but other Christians and Jews along the way. It was pretty bloody. There‘s a reason why the crusades have a kind of mixed history here. And you know what else? The American left didn‘t make that up. That‘s reality. You can read it anywhere. On the other hand, I heard history has a well-known liberal bias. Luckily, that guy has a zero percent chance of winning.
Now, on the Christine O‘Donnell, first, reporters just won‘t give it up, at a town hall meeting this week, Tom Ross, remember he‘s the chairman of Delaware‘s Republican Party. So, why would Republicans go after the guy in charge of their own party? First, because they‘re Republicans. That‘s what they do. Second, because he threw O‘Donnell under the bus during the campaign. You remember, he said, quote, “She wasn‘t capable of being elected dogcatcher.” Ouch. Now, after being press by the crowd, Ross said that the Republican Party did everything it could to help every republican candidate. As you‘ll be able to tell from this tape, the crowd did not agree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Tom, you are spinning the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes, you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You are spinning with the facts. That‘s just not the case. You did not support—and I ran the campaign for Christine in Sussex. You did not support. You threw her under the bus right out of the gate with the lawsuit.
And you stepped into it in a way that you should not have. And I have yet to hear you apologize to people in this room here.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How about elect her dogcatcher?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
TOM ROSS, CHAIRMAN, DELAWARE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, you know what, if I could take it back.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why did you say it?
ROSS: Why did I say it? Because it was true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That is not what the crowd wanted to hear. But look, O‘Donnell lost by 17 points. But they‘re Republicans. So, they‘re immune to facts. No, she would have won if he hadn‘t said that. That would be fair to them, if she‘d actually run for dogcatcher, she might have lost by less.
All right. Now, and the rest of the show, the military secret mind games, a new report says, a top general directed a team to use psychological warfare on our own lawmakers to get them to agree to more troops and more money in the war in Afghanistan. If true, laws have been broken. This is a major story. We‘ll talk about it when we come back.
UYGUR: The way that revolution is spreading over the Middle East has set Libya really hard. And his dictator Moammar Gadhafi is in a load of trouble. His controller slowly being widowed as major Libyan cities and towns closer to the capital of Tripoli are falling to the opposition. So far, anti-government protesters have taken over the cities of Benghazi, they have control over Mesrata, Zawiyah is reportedly under opposition control. So, there are still some violent clashes there today. And Zwara has also been taken by the anti-Gadhafi forces. And he also has control of almost 480 miles of the eastern half of Libya‘s coastline.
Now, encroaching on the key oil fields around the Gulf of Sidra.
That‘s where it gets really interesting. Gadhafi is in serious trouble. They‘re closing in on him and there are reports that they‘re marching on Tripoli. If he goes down, the question is who‘s next in the Middle East? Now remember, Libya is currently the world‘s 15th largest exporter of crude oil, accounting for almost two percent of global daily output. But partly as a result of the unrest in the country, oil prices in the United States have already gone up. Today, crude oil barrel prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange reached a high of $103 a barrel. And closed at $96.
This time last week, oil was sitting around $89 a barrel. Now, Libya is a big oil producer, but it‘s nowhere near as big as Saudi Arabia. They‘re the world‘s second largest oil producer. You can only imagine what would happen to the United States oil prices if there was serious unrest there. So you see, freedom isn‘t that free. Even the threat of unrest down the road in Saudi Arabia is driving up our gas prices. That‘s very interesting.
Now, joining me now is Philip Weiss, he‘s an oil industry analyst with Argus Research. Philip, are the oil prices reacting only to Libya here, or are they also reacting a little bit like, oh my God, the Saudi Arabia might be next and that would be real big trouble.
PHILIP WEISS, OIL INDUSTRY ANALYST, ARGUS RESEARCH: I think it‘s more just Libya, but there is certainly a part of it that could be connected to what‘s next. I mean, it started with Egypt and now we have Libya. And Libya is a bigger fish in the oil pond than Egypt is.
UYGUR: Any sense here from the markets as to what they‘re concerned about? Because, you know, I know in Saudi Arabia, the king is in a panic. He came back from being in the hospital abroad and they‘ve got big posters of him up. They‘re giving away $37 billion to the middle class and the poor in Saudi Arabia. Because he‘s worried. But how about the markets? Who are they worried about? Is there a specific country that they think might be in trouble outside of Libya?
WEISS: Well, I think from the market perspective, the next country, the markets generally thinking of is Algeria.
UYGUR: OK. And how being a factor is that in oil prices.
WEISS: It‘s not as big as Libya, but it‘s still a factor again. I think it‘s a combination of events, that‘s the key driver here.
UYGUR: Has the money been factored in yet, the price of oil been for all of this unrest? Or do you think that hey, look, if Libya goes, Gadhafi goes down and then Algeria starts up next, that there‘s a whole new round of oil prices going up if people think this is going to keep spreading.
WEISS: I think that would be a further shock to the system, yes.
UYGUR: OK. Indeed.
WEISS: So, but look, on the other hand, you know, we‘re on the side of democracy. So, we can‘t just be colored by the gas prices. But Philip, do you think, last question here for you, that this might be affecting decision makers in the U.S. saying, hey look, we want democracy in the Middle East, on the other hand, it really hurts us that we have high oil prices.
WEISS: It does. It‘s a tenuous situation in units. And the other reason, if the government really needs to think about, how do we get more alternative fuel whether it‘s natural gas or solar power or something into the equations that we‘re not relying on this foreign oil that much.
UYGUR: All right. I hear you. Unfortunately, if we get it out of the Gulf of Mexico, it doesn‘t go to us anyway. It goes to Exxon, and BP and whoever else, seeing that case, BP. But Philip Weiss, we appreciate your expertise and thank you for your time tonight.
WEISS: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, up next, Mitch Daniels calls union members the privileged elite. That is beyond insulting. I want to take him on.
UYGUR: Was the U.S. military using Jedi mind tricks on U.S. lawmakers? I don‘t think that‘s how Jedi mind tricks works. Anyway, this is a very serious story and they might have been going after our congressmen and our senators. We‘re going to give you the details next.
UYGUR: Last night, we had Sandy Fonzo on the show, she was the mother of a 17-year-old that had been sent to a juvenile detention center by a judge convicted in what prosecutors described as a “Kids for Cash” scheme where the two judges would send kids to a private detention facility, whether they deserved it or not in return for kickbacks. Now, one of the judges just got convicted on racketeering and fraud charges but something Sandy said in the interview really, really struck me. She said the judge had been freed for two years as he got an extensive trial, but at her son‘s trial, had only lasted a couple minutes and he got no justice. You know what? She‘s absolutely right.
There are two different sets of rules in this country for people with money and people without. Ask any kid out of the Compton, how much of a chance do you have in the judicial system in L.A.? And they‘ll tell you, not much. But Lindsay Lohan and O.J. Simpson get every privileged according to them in their trials, in that same court system. Why? Because they have money.
Now, today, Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, now the same guy who we told you earlier, had gotten busted with a huge amount of pot and LSD when he was at Princeton, and left over the fine, but who‘s got young kids wasting away in Indiana prisons on drug possession charges came out and called the unions, the quote, privileged elite. The elite? Are you kidding me? The average guy working as a cop or fireman or teacher is the elite in this country? I just think that‘s an unbelievable insult. Do you know how much the average public union worker makes? In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that full-time union workers had median weekly earnings of $917. That‘s about $47,684 a year. Does that sound elite to you? That‘s real elite. Do you know who the real elite are? The guys on Wall Street.
Do you know how much money they made last year? One hundred and thirty five billion dollars in executive compensation alone. Now that‘s elite. And how about the oil guys, like the Koch Brothers whose personal wealth is estimated at $43 billion. And that‘s just two guys. Now, that‘s elite. Look, I don‘t begrudge them for making their money. What bothers me is when they purchase their politicians to do it. Like when we bailed out the bankers with our hardened money. And then they come around and insult us calling the unions‘ elite and guys making $47,000 a year elite. And like when our politicians give tax breaks to the Koch Brothers and let Koch industries put more pollutants in the air that our kids have to breath.
They get to do that because they‘re the real elites, the ones who have enough money to buy our government. And then if that weren‘t enough, then they send their minions like Governor Walker to cut the pay of, to fire, to take away the rights of the average worker. And Governor Daniels to add insult to injury by saying that these regular guys are the real elite. Come on, man, you‘ve got of some decency. That‘s bad enough you get all the privileges that the rest of us don‘t have, but then you turned around and blame us for the problems you created and blame the middle class for secretly controlling politics?
Sandy Fonzo‘s son didn‘t have a chance. The next time a teacher goes in to ask for a raise in Wisconsin, she‘s not going to have a chance. And if a fireman asks the governor to take his call for 20 minutes and listen to his ideas on how to run government, he wouldn‘t have a chance. If you‘re going to be indecent enough to rub or democracy into the ground, at least have the decency to not rub our face in it.
All right. Now, when we come back, we‘ve got an exclusive report that reveals a secret mind games by our military leaders in Afghanistan on members of our own Congress. Those disturbing details, next.
UYGUR: We found out today that military leaders in Afghanistan were illegally using Jedi mind tricks on visiting U.S. lawmakers to boost their support for the Afghanistan war. Now, that‘s the charge in another explosive Rolling Stone article on the U.S. military. Lt. General William Caldwell allegedly ordered a team of soldiers working on information operations, that‘s IO for short, to use their tactics on U.S. lawmakers illegally. Now, why would Caldwell would take a risk like that? Well, “Rolling Stone” reporter Michael Hastings says, quote, “the incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin America‘s civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war.” But when Lieutenant Colonel Michael Holmes got the order, he knew immediately something was wrong. This is what he told Rolling Stone, quote, “my job in Psy-Ops is to play with people‘s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave. I‘m prohibited from doing that to our own people, when you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressmen, you‘re crossing the line.”
In a statement to “Rolling Stone,” a spokesperson for General Caldwell categorically denied the allegations, but let me tell you something. That is not just going over the line a little bit. That is massively over the line. You cannot do that to our congressmen. You can‘t do that to citizens. It‘s illegal to do it to American citizens, let alone to our politicians. This is absolutely outrageous.
Joining me now of course is the retired army Lawrence Wilkerson and he of course served as the chief of staff for Secretary State Colin Powell. Colonel Wilkerson, is this common or uncommon? I mean, is this happening behind the scenes all the time. We just don‘t find out because, you know, lieutenant colonels don‘t go around telling the reporters usually?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It‘s common that military psychological operations unit try to spin the enemy, try to warp the enemy‘s mind, if you will, on the battlefield and elsewhere. It definitely it‘s not common that they try to do that to Americans and, in fact, it‘s against the law.
UYGUR: How illegal is this? I mean, should there be a very serious investigation on Caldwell among others?
WILKERSON: There‘s a—there‘s a line between—you talk about the Smith—for example, there‘s a line between public diplomacy as we say in the state department and public affairs. One goes to the American people, the other goes to the international community. That line has been made very vague by the internet, but at the same time, when you‘re talking about this sort of thing, if its you‘re accurate, if Lieutenant Colonel Holmes is accurate in his allegations, then this is illegal and it shouldn‘t be being done, and yes, there should be an investigation.
UYGUR: You know, another thing that really disturbs me is what they did to Lieutenant Colonel Holmes. They then immediately started an investigation on him when he said, oh my God, look, I don‘t want to do this, I think this is wrong. What they do is they went, they invented reasons, so, he went on Facebook too many times, he had the wrong clothes on. I mean, it‘s sort of investigation. How often does that kind of a strike back happen within the military?
WILKERSON: Too often. Too often when you are in civilian terms a whistleblower, you get stomped on in the military. It‘s not like this is something new, though. Donald Rumsfeld tried this in the Pentagon. He tried to bring in Iran contra fame, Vice Admiral John Poindexter and head up a strategic operations, strategic information office in the Pentagon. That office‘s roll would have been to spin the American people. So, it‘s not like this is something new, I‘m not that surprised in seeing it happen the way it‘s happened apparently in Afghanistan.
UYGUR: See, that was my concern during the Bush administration, that at some point we crossed the bridge where things that were previously radical became normal. And so do you think maybe the military has gotten the message through all of these years, hey, it‘s OK. We can influence Americans, maybe we can even influence American legislators. The guys upstairs don‘t seem to mind. They seem to like it.
WILKERSON: I agree with you that we set some really bad precedence in the Bush administration. But I‘d also say that when you spend 10, 11 years at war and you don‘t see a light at the end of the tunnel, then these sorts of things begin to develop, particularly when you‘re not winning in the traditional sense.
UYGUR: All right. Colonel, thank you for your time tonight, we really appreciate it.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: Joining me now is Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, he is the director of “Rethink Afghanistan.” Robert, first thing I want to ask you this, how much money do they spend on nonsense like this?
ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS: Well, the size of the Pentagon‘s media empire would make many of us incredibly envious. They have over 27,000 employees working there. And almost, get this, you‘re sitting down I can see, $1 billion on the combined efforts of the psychological operations and the so-called public affairs. But it‘s propaganda, Cenk. It‘s propaganda and it‘s our tax dollars that are paying for it. Can you imagine how many salaries in Wisconsin could be paid with the money that‘s being wasted on propagandizing us and our congressmen?
UYGUR: Yes. And that‘s the thing that drives me crazy. Republicans, some Democrats are always saying about, oh we‘ve got to save money, we‘ve got to save money. How about we save money by stopping brainwashing of our congressmen and senators. Now, but that goes to the second point. Any chance that this is effective or are these guys goof balls going, wooo, Senator Franken, you will like the Afghanistan war?
GREENWALD: Well, you know, it‘s a question of the level of the intelligence of the elected representatives which I won‘t come in done. And how effective this technique is, what I think is effective because we‘re seeing it in Washington, is kind of bringing the elected officials and bringing in a year. And kind of telling them, sweet nothings, so that they feel they have an insight track. Otherwise, how do you justify this war? The money, the killings, the terrible toll that‘s taken, the no signs of success. I mean, I don‘t know if its hypnotism but it‘s very hard to believe that any rational reason can now argue that this is a war that‘s making us safer.
UYGUR: Well, Robert, now we‘ve got Republicans sweeping Huckabee, major republican candidate possibly saying, you know, what? I don‘t know why we‘re in Afghanistan. I can‘t figure it out, right? Same exact thing that you‘re saying, but here‘s my question, why are the generals care so much? Why are they willing to possibly commit crimes to keep stay in Afghanistan for longer? I just—I don‘t get that. What‘s their motivation?
GREENWALD: Well, I think, I mean, they do believe it. You know, it‘s like policemen who go and arrest innocent people because they once did something bad. The cops do believe they‘re doing the right thing. And I think not to become a psychologist, which is the job of my brother and sister-in-law but I think they believe what they‘re doing. On the other hand, with all this failure, with all this loss of life, and maybe most tragically, Cenk, you know, your guest before was talking about corporate control, we have to realize how far the military has invaded every sphere of our daily life. And the generals in the military have that power. They‘re not ready to let it go.
UYGUR: All right. Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Films, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
UYGUR: And I‘ll tell you what, my take on it is a lot of these guys then wind up going and working for the defense contractors. Keep it real. I‘m not saying that they think OK, great, I‘m going to do this just to get the money, but is that a relevant factor? I think it is. All right, that‘s our show for tonight. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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