Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday, February 25th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Cory Mason, Pat Quinn, Van Jones, Al Sharpton, Glenn Greenwald,
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Tonight, we‘re going to tell you about people who have poured their hearts and soul into the Wisconsin fight and people who have not. Some people like the protesters and the Democratic legislators in Wisconsin have fought as hard as they possibly could.
Take a look at this. It was a raucous scene in the Wisconsin State House at 1:00 this morning, as Republicans jammed through the anti-union bill. Republicans abruptly cut off debate, catching the Democrats by surprise, and they only held the vote open for just a few seconds, which meant that 28 members, of course most of them Democrats, didn‘t even get to vote.
This was the response from Democratic representatives when they realized what Republicans had done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that‘s Democrats with passion and fire in their belly. Those are guys who are fighting who—in the battle of this, who have been fighting all along.
Now, on the other hand, we have a group of Democratic governors who just came out of the White House. After being asked numerous times about the situation in Wisconsin, and deflecting numerous time, here‘s what Governor O‘Malley of Maryland finally said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARTIN O‘MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: I think most of us see that as a distraction really from the most important work that we can do, which is creating jobs. Look, all of us get things done. We‘re about getting things done. We‘re not primarily and ideological group of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: A distraction. It‘s a distraction. People finally stand up. They‘re fighting for their rights. And they even agreed to the spending cuts. All they want is, hey, can we have an ability to negotiate together?
And to you that‘s a distraction?
Look, these protesters and legislators in Wisconsin having been fighting this unbelievable heroic fight in the streets and in the state capital. And the Democratic governors from across the country have this response?
I‘ve got to ask, did the White House instruct them to do that? Did they say hey, you know what, go out there and—shush, don‘t talk about Wisconsin? I‘m going to come back to that in a minute. You don‘t want to miss them.
And I‘m actually going to ask one of the governors who was there about that as well. So we‘ll do that in a second. But we‘ll also try to find out why the White House and the national Democrats seem so lukewarm about what‘s happening in Wisconsin.
Can we get a pulse? Can we get a heartbeat? Can we get fighters?
Now we actually have one on the show. So let me talk to a real fighter.
Joining me now is Wisconsin state representative Cory Mason, who was on the House floor when the Republicans rammed through the bill.
Cory, what happened? What did they do in those matter of seconds that got you guys so angry?
CORY MASON (D), WISCONSIN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, it was unprecedented. We had been in the midst of debating and trying to persuade independent-minded Republicans to come over to our side. We had been debating for 61 hours, and then, abruptly, they shut down the debate, and we think certainly unethically and maybe unlawfully immediately we went to a vote.
UYGUR: So why do you say unlawfully? Could this have been illegal?
MASON: Well, you know, they closed down the roll so quickly. Over 1.5 million Wisconsin residents‘ votes weren‘t recorded there today. We were all standing up and demand to be recognized, and they closed the rolls.
It‘s just really—they‘re so eager to shut down workers‘ rights, they‘re willing to resort to any tactic to ram this through.
UYGUR: You know, it‘s an amazing scene. As you guys are sitting there, pointing at them and saying, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” obviously your relationship with the Republican side must be at this point disastrous.
I mean, is there anyone that‘s willing to talk reason there, or they‘re just like, like ha-ha, we got you, and they run out of the building?
MASON: Yes, it was pretty cowardly, I‘ve got to be honest with you, for them to do this and cut off debate. You know, in the minority, the one right we still have is the right to dissent and make sure our voices are heard. And they didn‘t even want to let us do that.
So, I mean, it‘s a ridiculous pattern of taking workers‘ rights away. They shut down the protesters‘ rights to testify at the hearings. And now they took our rights away to dissent on the floor.
UYGUR: So, let me ask you, how do you feel about the rest of the country here? Because obviously you have got a lot of passionate people in Wisconsin, whether it‘s you guys or the protesters, that have been there day after day after day. And then from the national Democrats, you hardly hear a peep.
How does that make you feel?
MASON: Well, I will tell you what makes me most heartened is the rank-and-file grassroots support we‘ve been getting from people around the state and around the country. And not just from Democrats, from Independents and Republicans who are outraged that this governor is trying to take away people‘s rights.
UYGUR: And has there been any fallout from what happened earlier today, or that‘s it, in the House the dye is cast now, we‘ll just go to the Wisconsin Senate with the 14 Democrats still outside of the state?
MASON: Well, we‘re still questioning the legality of the vote. But I tell you, what this proves is those 14 senators can‘t come back until we know they‘re willing to treat us fairly.
UYGUR: All right. Wisconsin state representative Cory Mason, thank you for your time this evening.
UYGUR: We always appreciate it.
All right. Now let‘s turn to the people who think Wisconsin is a distraction.
We showed you Governor O‘Malley saying that it wasn‘t right to focus on Wisconsin. Now, look, I‘m going to ask you a real question. Do you think he came up with that on his own? Or is it possible that when they were in the White House, the administration told the Democratic governors hey, be cool, be cool, don‘t talk to the press about Wisconsin, otherwise it will seem like right here in Washington that the Democrats support the unions?
No! God forbid. The guys who helped to get you elected, the guys who are in the middle class, the guys you said you would support. But now all of a sudden, no, no, no, we don‘t want Washington thinking that.
Now, let me show you to a different man, a man who campaigned on the promise of standing with the average guy. This is candidate Obama in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: And understand this, if American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I‘m in the White House, I‘ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I‘ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America, because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oh, that is so true. Where is that man? Where is he? What happened?
Now that you‘re in the White House, you couldn‘t find a comfortable pair of shoes to get out on that picket line?
He said, “I‘ll be right there with you.” Since Thursday, not a word.
Not a word.
What has he done since collective bargaining rights of the people of Wisconsin have been challenged? I‘m telling you, look, he doesn‘t have comfortable shoes on, he has comfortable slippers on. And he put them on.
Of course, you k now the excuse he always uses is oh, no, it would be a distraction. It would seem like—of course it‘s political! It‘s a tough political fight.
And you know who they could use? They could use their leader. But he hasn‘t gone out there. He hasn‘t even said one word of support since last Thursday.
Instead, he sent out a spokesperson to talk about cutting spending instead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Wisconsin situation, Congressman Ellison and others have called for the president to come out to Wisconsin and stand with the workers. Is that under discussion?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I‘m aware of, Chip. I think what we have made pretty clear is that the president thinks and we think he‘s stated this, that obviously a lot of states in the union are dealing with fiscal issues, big problems in their state budgets that need to be addressed. And they need to act responsibly, tighten their belts, live within their means, just as we in Washington, the executive branch in Congress, need to do with our federal situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I‘ve got to ask you, even if you‘re the most ardent Obama supporter, could you tell that from any Republican administration? Fiscal issues, tighten your belts, you‘ve got to do this. Later, he talked about shared sacrifice, although of course there‘s never any shared sacrifice for the rich, which they just gave a huge tax cut to.
I mean, did he say, yes, oh, President Obama is in the middle of grabbing his shoes and getting out there? Right? No, he didn‘t say that.
He said, oh, well, they‘ve got to cut spending in Wisconsin. It sounds like he‘s supporting the governor.
Look, I don‘t want you to get me wrong. President Obama isn‘t the problem. In this case, the Republicans are the problem.
Governor Walker is the one that wants to take away collective bargaining, and he wants to balance the budget on the back of the middle class. I get that.
But what I need you to realize—because it‘s true and because it‘s important—is that President Obama, while he‘s not the problem, is also not the solution. He‘s never going to put on those walking shoes. He‘s not going to get out there and lead.
That‘s not what he does. It‘s not who he is. He‘s a careful, calculating politician. Well, you know, in Washington, if I seem like I‘m cutting spending more than the Republicans, will they write good things about me? Oh, great, they‘re writing great things about me in Washington.
And he‘s going to try to get out there and project the sense that he cuts more than the Republicans? Getting out there and supporting unions? Oh, no, no, no. Those are liberals. Those are progressives.
I wouldn‘t do that. No, no. I‘m in the White House. I‘m not going to say a word.
He‘s not going to get shaken off the small political games that he is plays. I mean, he went to Ohio, and sitting there in Ohio, he was talking about, yes, you know, we‘ve got to cut spending. How about Wisconsin? Oh, no, no, no. I don‘t want to talk about Wisconsin.
Look, there‘s something happening among your voters. It‘s organic, it‘s huge. It‘s in your party. It‘s among the people who voted for you, who supported you. It‘s in your country.
But don‘t do it. Don‘t even think about Obama coming out there and coming to the rescue.
And I want to tell you, thank God for the people of Wisconsin. They didn‘t wait for him. And that‘s why I‘m telling you this.
It‘s not to blame Obama, it‘s to tell you that under no circumstances should you wait for him or anyone else to ride to the rescue. They‘re not going to do it. It‘s not in them, it‘s not in Obama. They‘re politicians. He‘ll only ride in with the cavalry, honestly, in the case of President Obama, if he thinks you‘re right about to win.
Look, those shoes to grab and get out there on the picket line, they‘re for you. You‘ve got to wear them, and you‘ve got to wear them proud.
Don‘t wait for any politician to help you out, because I‘m telling you right now—I‘m not saying it because it‘s my opinion. Look what‘s happened in the last eight days. They‘re not going to do it.
You grab the reins and you do it. That‘s what they‘ve been doing in Wisconsin, and what‘s worked so well. That‘s why Republican governors in Ohio and Florida and New Jersey are running scared, because those are real people exercising their right to a democracy.
All right. Now let me talk to a man who‘s stuck in the middle of all this. He‘s joining me now. He‘s Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has participated and helped by giving shelter to the Democratic state senators from Wisconsin, but he was also at the meeting with President Obama today.
Governor Quinn, thank you for joining us.
And first, I want to ask you about the Wisconsin Democratic senators. It looks like Illinois has become a bit of a sanctuary. You had the Indiana senators come in as well.
And what is it about Illinois that‘s drawing them? Is it just that, you know, that you provide a support for them?
GOV. PAT QUINN (D), ILLINOIS: We believe in unions, we believe in the right to collectively bargain. We believe in offering hospitality to anyone who wants to come to our state.
I talked to Mark Miller, who‘s the Democratic leader in the Senate there in Wisconsin. I talked to him and welcomed him to our state. He‘s free to stay with his colleagues as long as they want, the same way with our friends in Indiana.
Illinois believes in unions, and so do I. I‘m not in the middle. I‘m on the side of the working people of Wisconsin.
My cousins live up there, and I don‘t agree at all with Governor Walker. I‘ve said that publicly.
And I was at the meeting with the president this morning, and he agrees with me. He‘s from our state, President Obama, and he‘s on the side of collective bargaining. He made that crystal clear this morning.
We‘ve got to have unions that have the right to sit around the table and negotiate wages and working conditions and benefits. And that‘s an article of faith, as far as I‘m concerned. I know that‘s true of the president, too.
UYGUR: I meant you‘re in the middle of this action, you‘re at the White House, you‘re involved with the Wisconsin state Democrats.
But Governor Quinn, I want to ask you about that meeting you just mentioned there. You said that the president has made crystal clear that he‘s on the side of collective bargaining. Really? When?
QUINN: Well, he said it was an assault on the right to organize, the right to have a union. When this all began, I think Governor Walker, there in Wisconsin—
UYGUR: Many moons ago.
QUINN: Yes, but Governor Walker, in Wisconsin, I think that‘s the person we should really be criticizing. He‘s taking a very extreme position that‘s anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-the opportunity of everyday people to come together and ban together, to have a union.
They‘ve already made their concessions. They‘re willing to do that. But to try and distinguish their union is just plain wrong. And I think Americans all over the country feel that this is wrong, and they‘ve joined together with the people of Wisconsin to say no to that kind of politics.
UYGUR: So, Governor Quinn, here‘s the thing. Right? Look, is Governor Walker the problem? No question. We‘ve been doing that for a week.
We‘ve been saying it over and over. We showed the Koch brothers call.
It‘s obvious who he‘s in the pocket of.
But a lot of progressives are asking, look, it‘s been a long time.
It‘s been eight days. There hasn‘t been a single word about this.
And then you guys had the meeting at the White House. And I swear to you, internally, we were discussing here, saying, OK, I wonder what‘s going to happen? Are they going to come out fighting or are they going to come out and say oh, no, no, no we don‘t want to talk about Wisconsin?
QUINN: Well, I came out fighting.
UYGUR: And the governors came out and said you don‘t want to talk about Wisconsin. I‘m not putting it on you, but I‘m asking, what happened inside the White House that led to that press conference?
QUINN: I think Democratic governors are aggressive and progressive when it comes to this issue, whether it‘s in Wisconsin or Ohio or Indiana or anywhere else. If there‘s an effort to try and bust unions, I‘m going to stand up against it.
We had a lunch afterwards with Jerry McEntee. He‘s the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. He was very praiseworthy of me and I think others who have spoken up on behalf of the workers and the people of Wisconsin who have come together. And they have a union and they work hard.
You know, who is clearing the snow in the course of the blizzards we‘ve had this winter? It‘s those hardworking public servants. They deserve a decent wage, they deserve decent benefits, and definitely a union. And we‘re going to fight hard until the last dog dies as far as that issue goes.
UYGUR: I wish I was hearing just as clear a message from the White House. So one last specific question for you, Governor.
Did anybody in the White House tell the governors, hey, when you go to talk to the press, let‘s skip Wisconsin, let‘s not talk about that?
QUINN: Oh, not at all. As a matter of fact, I think every governor who was there felt the same way I just spoke about.
I think we‘re very, very committed to making sure that in our states, that we have dialogue. I don‘t always agree with the unions that represent the Illinois workers, but we have an opportunity to visit, to have give-and-take. And we come to I think a decent bargain and a decent contract.
That‘s America. That‘s what workers are all about. They have a chance to get a middle class wage and have a middle class standard of living. And that‘s really what we‘re fighting for, and we‘re not going to let Governor Walker in Wisconsin take that away from people in Wisconsin or anywhere else.
UYGUR: All right.
Governor Pat Quinn from Illinois.
Thank you for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
QUINN: OK. Thank you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, the progressive movement is standing with Wisconsin, and proudly so. Solidarity protests will be held all across the country tomorrow.
Progressive activist Van Jones joins me to talk about that next.
And witnesses say a Republican congressman laughed when a voter at a town hall meeting stood up and asked him, “Who‘s going to shoot Obama?” Reverend Al Sharpton responds to that next.
And it‘s also swing and a miss for House Speaker John Boehner. He went golfing in the middle of a shutdown showdown, which is exactly what he criticized President Clinton for doing 16 years ago.
Usual hypocrisy, but we‘ll show you the fun tape.
UYGUR: Now, I just told you in the last segment that you have to take action on your own, because the politicians in D.C. are not on your side.
In a minute, we‘re going to talk to someone who‘s been on both sides of that, inside the Obama administration and organizing in the streets.
But let me tell you who‘s lined up against you on the other side—incredibly wealthy donors who stand to gain from everything from lowering taxes to busting unions. The AFL-CIO just put out an ad that makes that case clear using Wisconsin Governor Walker‘s own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He tells us it‘s for the taxpayers of Wisconsin.
But to wealthy GOP funders like David Koch, it‘s a different story.
WALKER: Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure -- 5,000 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Look at how much he relishes the idea of firing people.
That‘s why I want some Democratic leaders to stand up.
Now, look, a lot of people in Wisconsin have done it, and as you see in the neighboring areas as well. I just wish somebody in D.C. would realize, oh, my God, that‘s right, those are our guys!
Now, Koch Industries, in response to the ad and to all the criticism, put out this comical statement: “With the left trying to intimidate the Koch brothers to back off of their support for freedom and signaling to others that this is what happens if you oppose the administration and its allies, we have no choice but to continue to fight.”
Oh, I love that. I know, we‘re intimidating them. They spend millions doing this stuff, shipping and busing people in, doing the Web sites, spending money on the political ads. And we‘re intimidating them by just pointing it out a little bit.
But look, you‘ve got to understand something about these guys.
They‘re never going to go away.
You know why? Because they make more money by taking away your rights, whether it‘s the rights to breathe free and clean air or cutting your salary when they bust the unions. So you‘ve got to be just as vigilant as they are.
You also have money on the line. They raise your taxes sometimes and then oftentimes will cut your pensions when oil companies don‘t pay for their drilling rights on our property. For example, off the Gulf of Mexico. Or they get massive tax subsidies.
Who do you think even pays the bills? You pay the bills! So you have got to fight just as hard as they do, and you‘ve got to be just as vigilant as they are.
Now, with me is a man who knows all about that, Van Jones, who worked in the Obama administration and now is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
VAN JONES, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Hello.
UYGUR: -- great to have you here.
Is it fair to say that politicians in D.C. are not going to ride to the rescue?
JONES: I‘ll tell you what, tomorrow is going to be a great day. You‘ve spent a good bit of time making sure people understood what‘s not happening in D.C. I want to talk about what is going to be happening tomorrow in 50 state capitals.
Moveon.org, US Uncut, and other groups early this week put out a call and said, listen, if you love the people in Wisconsin, if you‘re inspired by their courage, if you want to help the people who are helping the people, if you want to stand with the people who are standing up for the American dream, let‘s stop just looking at it on television. Let‘s get out our houses and take action again. And there will be—in all 50 states tomorrow, there will be a flowering of democracy.
And for the people who are in Wisconsin right now, I‘m sure you feel tired, you feel alone, you feel like you‘ve been carrying this thing by yourself. Help is on the way. Hope is on the way.
You have inspired something. You can‘t see it yet. You will see it tomorrow.
Not just the State House in Wisconsin, all 50 states. You‘re going to see a pro-democracy movement born in this country tomorrow.
UYGUR: Van, I know you‘re a huge fan of organizing. And, you know, Wisconsin must have been, you know, a—a sight for sore eyes there, as you looked at that.
JONES: I broke.
UYGUR: Yes. Well, I want you to tell me about that. And also, did you feel like, hey, you know what, we‘re getting something here? Finally, we‘ve kind of turned a point where people go OK, enough, I‘m not waiting on people, I‘m going to get out there and fight for my own rights?
JONES: And I think that that‘s the point that I hope everybody watching your show—the reason I‘m on your show is because I know some of the most determined, committed change-makers watch your show every day. They use it to keep themselves inspired and fired up.
But guess what? We‘re no longer going to be yelling at the TV anymore. We‘re going to be standing out in front of our friends, our neighbors, and saying we believe in the American dream.
It‘s not just a fight about union rights. It‘s about union rights, plus a whole lot more. It‘s about all of the American values.
You know, I want to see—I want my kids—I have got two little boys. I want them at some point to see the words “Made in America” again. I can‘t find a single thing in my house that says “Made in America.”
Why? Because we‘ve sent all the jobs overseas. And the last bastion of unionized workers who are willing to stand up and say listen, I‘m a school teacher, I want to make sure that I‘m treated well so I can treat these kids well—I‘m a nurse, don‘t give me five extra shifts that‘s going to hurt these patients—these are the people whoa re standing up for the best in America.
These are working moms, these are working families. And for this governor to throw them under the bus because he wants to give his friends some tax breaks and he wants to give his friends money is immoral, it‘s unethical, and it‘s un-American.
And so what you‘re going to see now finally in our country is people saying, you know what? We‘ve gone from hope to heart break. You can‘t push us around anymore. We‘re going to draw a line in the sand and we‘re going to stand with this people who are standing up for the best in our country.
Tomorrow is a great day. Moveon.org has a Web site up. If you want to figure out how to get involved, go to Moveon.org. US Uncut, this brand new organization that came out of nowhere, they‘ve got 30 events themselves.
JONES: Amazing stuff happening.
UYGUR: All right. Van Jones knows. He was there in Washington, D.C., and not a lot of action came out of there, if you ask me.
But look, the real action is from the American people. And I know you have got a positive message, Van, and we appreciate you joining us.
JONES: Thank you, buddy. Appreciate you.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, Arizona is a repeat offender when it comes to “Red States Gone Wild.” That‘s a segment we love on this show. But now some reasonable Arizonans are saying yes, we actually exist, and we‘re tired of being embarrassed by the whackos.
So what‘s their radical new proposal? It‘s an interesting one.
And a Georgia congressman who reportedly laughed at a town hall meeting when asked about shooting the president of the United States. I mean, that‘s hate speech, and unfortunately it was evident in that Republican Party meeting.
We‘ll tell you about that as well.
UYGUR: In the grand scheme of red states gone wild, Arizona might just be the wildest. But some Arizona Democrats are getting pretty tired of radical the agenda that their right wing colleagues are pushing. For example, the state GOP is pushing a state sovereignty bill—are you ready for this? That would allow the Arizona state legislature to pick and choose which federal laws to follow. Come on, man. Are you serious? I kind of like that one. But not buying that one. Now, we‘re just going to decide on our own. That‘s not how it works.
In protests, a democratic state Senator Paula Aboud introduced an amendment to the bill that would allow Pima County, are you ready for this one? To secede from Arizona. She‘s not allowed in her enthusiasm. She said of the amendment, quote, “While this is tongue in cheek, I can‘t tell you the overwhelming support I‘m getting from southern Arizona to secede. We don‘t want to be the part of the state that continues to embarrass Arizona.” Of course, the amendment failed, but its supporters aren‘t going anywhere.
The start our state organization is still pushing for Pima County‘s emancipation. They would call the new state, Baja, Arizona. It would be bigger in size and population, this several existing states today. And a federal lawsuit could be optional, why can‘t state laws? OK. You know, what? We don‘t like your boundaries anymore. We‘re going to create our own boundaries.
All right. Now, for the record. I definitely against all succession movements. But this is the first liberal one that I‘ve heard of. So, score one for originality to the good people, Baja, Arizona. Now, a shutdown is looming if Congress can‘t get it together by March 4th and pass legislation to fund the government. So how is House Speaker John Boehner spending these important days before the deadline? By heading to Florida and golfing at an undisclosed course in Sarasota. He says, he doesn‘t want to negotiate anyway, so he might want to go golfing.
Senate Majority Leader Reid‘s twitter writers—cut news for you guys, he doesn‘t write his own tweets. Almost none of them do. But the actual writers didn‘t waste any time pointing out, quote, “John Boehner, what did you shoot yesterday?” And they had along with that a link to a story about his golfing. Now, the House did pass the revolution of legislation to avoid to shutting down the government, as ridiculous as that version was and a lot of politicians go golfing, I get that. Even when there are massive issues of importance going down in Washington. But here‘s the thing. During the week leading up to the last government shutdown in 1995, Boehner had this to say about a Clinton golf outing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now is the time not to play golf, as the president did yesterday. Now is the time to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: No, no, no. Of course not. When important issues are on the line. Democrats can‘t go golfing. That‘s the time for Republicans to go golfing. Sometimes you people don‘t get it.
All right. You know, what? I‘m starting to get tired of pointing out their hypocrisy. So, full-time job.
All right. Now, a very serious story next. Witnesses say that a republican congressman laughed when a voter stood up and asked him, who‘s going to shoot Obama? Reverend Al Sharpton is going to respond right here, next.
UYGUR: Republicans just can‘t say no to their friends. It happens time and time again. And the case I‘m pointing now is conservative republican Paul Broun of Georgia, who is no stranger to fringe ideas. He held a town hall meeting this week. The local paper, the “Athens Banner-Herald” sent a reporter to cover for it. Here‘s what he reported, quote, “At Representative Paul Broun‘s town hall meeting on Tuesday, the Athens congressman asked who had driven the farthest to be there and let the winner ask the first question. The question is, in the back of the packed, Oglethorpe County Commission Chamber got a big laugh.” Now, are you ready for what the question was? It was, quote, “Who‘s going to shoot Obama?” Broun‘s press office confirmed that was the question and the one that got the big laugh.
By the way, two witnesses say, Congressman Broun also laughed. Now, this is what Congressman Broun said in response to the question. Quote, “The thing is, I know there‘s a lot of frustration with this president, we‘re going to have to an election next year, hopefully we‘ll elect somebody that‘s going to be a conservative, limited-government president.” Now the incident, of course, has become national news. Now, three days after it happened, Congressman Broun did what he did not do in front of a laughing audience. He‘s finally acknowledging that it was wrong to ask who‘s going to shoot Obama. Here‘s part of Broun‘s paper statement. Quote, “I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response.” Except for the fact that he actually did.
Remember, Broun did respond according to the newspaper report and another witness. He placated the questioner by saying, I know there‘s a lot of frustration with this president. That is not the right answer with somebody talking about shooting the president. Now, Broun‘s statement goes on to say. Now, quote, “After the event, my office took action with appropriate authorities. I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all the statements made in sincerity or jest that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the president of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Except in this case, it was tolerated. And even encouraged with laughter and an acknowledgment with a lot of frustration with this president. Broun tolerated it until it became a pr problem for him. Congressman Broun probably owes his career to the fact that there‘s no tape of this yet. But tonight, one of his colleagues lies in a hospital bed and he laughed at the idea of shooting a politician. And that is beyond unacceptable.
Joining me now is the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network. Reverend, Sharpton, should he resign?
REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I think that he seriously violated the faith of the office, particularly in this post Tucson era. I mean, all of us have to deal with fringe elements on whatever was side of the political spectrum we may stand. I think we have a responsibility I‘ve learned at the hard way. An obligation in fact to say right on the spot, wait a minute, that‘s not what we‘re talking. And especially after Tucson that he wants to condemn it. Even if you felt the person saying it was saying it in jest. You don‘t know who‘s in the audience, you don‘t know what nut could be there and feel like this is acceptable, with a member of Congress standing there. I think that it‘s a horrific kind of posture.
UYGUR: And it‘s not just the guy who made the comments.
UYGUR: It‘s the people who are laughing. You‘re worried, because you don‘t know who they are, right? The secret service can‘t go and find out all there. You don‘t want to encourage this Stuff. But Broun, this is not the first time he‘s made crazy statements. Let me read one other one to you, so we have context on this guy. He said, that‘s exactly, referring to Obama, on November of 2010, he said, “That‘s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it‘s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he‘s proposing to have a national security force that‘s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he‘s showing me sign of being Marxist. We may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism.” I‘m referring to, an absurd thing that I have nothing to do with anything, of course there‘s no paramilitary force. But when he continues to make statements like this, how do we get a member of Congress to act responsibly?
SHARPTON: I think that one, you‘re doing the right thing by calling him out. And I think we‘ve got to have boundaries for discussion. We cannot use extreme rhetoric, calling the president of the United States‘ as policies Marxist or socialist. It‘s just to exacerbate those kinds of tensions that lead to nuts doing things that none of us want. And I think that we have a responsibility whether we‘re elected or not in the public eye. And I‘ve learned that over my career that you‘ve got to condemn with forthright because you could not give any kind of consent with silence to people who may have any kind of crazy thoughts germinating in their head.
UYGUR: Now, Reverend Sharpton, it‘s not just Broun. Boehner, it doesn‘t want to denounce the birthers because birthers are huge part of his base. You know, they‘re trying to appeal with these guys. Rush Limbaugh, conservative commentator of course, comes out and talks about, this is all about reparations and this guy is going to come for your money and Obama is doing that. And then I want to give you one more sign here from Broun, a video from Broun and give you a sense of where his head is at on this. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA: If Obama-care passes, that free insurance card that‘s in people‘s pockets is going to be as worthless as a confederate dollar after the war of—states, the great war of Yankee aggression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Is there a racial anger here? I mean, he‘s talking about calling a civil war, the great war of Yankee aggression.
SHARPTON: Great War of Yankee aggression.
SHARPTON: Not the defending of the union. Not the fight against slavery. But the great war of Yankee aggression. I mean, now that is about as un-American and racially offensive as you can get.
UYGUR: All right. Reverend Al Sharpton, very clear on this. Thank you for joining us.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, coming up. Wikileaks threatened to expose the big banks, and so the big banks allegedly planned a preemptive attack to discredit journalists who report on Wikileaks. One of those journalists is Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald. And he‘s fighting back and he‘s here on the set, next.
UYGUR: Big banks may be targeting journalists. One of those guys is Glenn Greenwald. And he‘s going to join me on the set, next.
UYGUR: Here‘s what the people in power have no interest in, all of you finding out what they‘re up to. So they hate it anytime there‘s a whistleblower or journalist who reports on them. Yesterday, we told you about a huge story from “Rolling Stone,” exposing a program ordered by Lieutenant General William Caldwell to use Psy-Ops to affect, manipulate and I supposed in their minds, brainwash U.S. congressmen and senators who were visiting Afghanistan.
Today General David Petraeus says that the military will investigate the allegations. But today‘s papers were already chalked full of anonymous Pentagon sources pooh-poohing the allegations and questioning the whistleblower, Lieutenant Colonel Holmes. To which I say, of course, that‘s what they always do. But this isn‘t just about the Pentagon. This summer, “The New York Times” report on the Obama administrations push to track down hard on whistleblowers who leaked information to the press.
“The Times” writing, quote, “The Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks.” And it‘s not just our government either, it‘s also powerful corporations as well. In November, it was leaked out their Wikileaks might have files on Bank of America. Allegedly revealing quote, “an ecosystem of corruption.” Now, this month we learned that the bank‘s law firm Hunton and Williams solicited proposals for private security firms to sabotage and discredit critics.
Now, those proposals were leaked to the Web by a group of hackers. One idea in this bag of dirty tricks campaign was, submit false information to Wikileaks in hopes of damaging the site‘s credibility. Another important idea was threaten the careers of Wikileaks supporters or important journalists covering the story. Now, one person mentioned by name was Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald. They said, it was a critical alleged been, and if he could be intimidated, then the rest of the press would go along. Let me give you the quote, the leak presentation said, “Without the support of people like Glenn, Wikileaks would fold.” Look, they get it. If you can intimidate whistleblowers in the press who covered them, then you can suppress damaging information and go on doing whatever illicit activity it is that you want to hide from the public.
And joining me now is, Glenn Greenwald himself. So, apparently didn‘t work with you, you‘re not intimidated, are you?
GLENN GREENWALD, SALON.COM: Well, no, but I do think that the proposal as worth taking seriously given the pliers involved, you have several internet security firms that are among the most significant and credible in this industry who do millions of dollars work for the Pentagon, for the intelligence agencies, for large corporations. And you have the large law firm, Hunton & Williams which is one of the most well connected law being in legal firms in Washington, D.C. that was recommended to bank of America by the Justice Department. And then these proposals are being developed on behalf of two of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country, the bank and the Chamber of Commerce. So, when you put all those forces together, it would be foolish not to take it seriously, especially since this seems to be a common sort of thing that happens in this world.
UYGUR: Glenn, what was their plan? I mean, how were they going to go after you? How were they going to go after other journalists?
GREENWALD: Well, I mean, I think, you know, for one thing, a lot of journalist do work for large media outlets and incorporations that can easily be threatened and bullied and intimidated in all sorts of ways. People who have tried to be more independent in terms of journalism such as myself, I think it would be a lot more difficult to try and do that too. But when you‘re talking about using government agencies and using people who investigate on the internet, and they‘re talking about things like finding out what people‘s family members do on the internet, where they go, what they do. Gathering information about people or something that a lot of resourceful firms and certainly the government is able to do in order to intimidate or threaten or deter people from engaging in advocacy.
UYGUR: So, let‘s talk about how common you think is this? I mean,
obviously you see it this case of corporate America. They say, of course -
Bank of America says they‘re not involved, right? I mean, it‘s their law firm. The law firms seize to hire these securities—because, on the press, it‘s like what? Law firm, what‘s name so, right?
UYGUR: But it‘s not just the banks and the corporations. It‘s also the government. You say that Obama has been tougher on whistleblowers than Bush. Really? Is that true?
GREENWALD: Well, as you indicated in the interaction, it‘s actually “The New York Times” in a news article, not even an Op-ed that documented, that as aggressive as the Bush administration was, in trying to prevent transparency being brought to government, the Obama administration has been infinitely more aggressive in punishing whistleblowers. And what makes it so remarkable is that candidate Obama when he was running for office lavished praise on whistleblowers, he called them, patriotic and courageous and said that we need to encourage rather than—whistle blowing is a means of uncovering corruption in ways and deceit in government. And yet, President Obama as is often the case in so many issues seems like the enemy of candidate Obama because the Justice Department has been unleashed to punish and prosecute and detached a whole slew of whistle blowers who have exposed government wrong doing in ways that we ought to be grateful for, not trying to put them in prison.
UYGUR: Well, you know, Don Rumsfeld all the day was bragging you about, hey, you know what, we got him to do so many of the things that we‘re pushing for in the Bush administration, when it comes to the war on terror. So, he‘s basically going around going, what now, what now? So, I will repost that question, what do you think it happened between candidate Obama and President Obama?
GREENWALD: Well, I mean, one of the things that we were just talking about, at the beginning was, this sort of consortium of corporate and governor power. And I think it‘s really important to realize that there is a permanent power faction in Washington that has nothing to do with elections. And it sounds radical when you say that, but Dwight Eisenhower warned 55 years ago of the military industrial complex that will be more powerful than elected officials. Last year, “The Washington Post” documented what they called, top secret America, these prowling concessions of government incorporate factions that are so unaccountable that nobody even knows what they‘re doing. This is really the powerful faction that runs Washington. And so, even if Obama wanted to, and I think it‘s a huge clash on whether he does, it would be very difficult to come in and start challenging that. What the National Securities take care most about is being able to operate behind a wall of secrecy. And that‘s what the Obama administration is protecting, the reviews of our prosecution.
UYGUR: All right. Glenn, real quick. Let me ask you one last question, because, look, we see it everywhere and you see it in the Pentagon, too. As soon as the “Rolling Stone” article comes out, all these anonymous source has said, oh, I don‘t know about that, et cetera. So, how do we get beyond such institutional power?
GREENWALD: Well, I mean, you do have instances of individual acts of journalism like Michael Hastings who reported on what General McChrystal really was, and what the military is doing in Afghanistan. And that‘s why you see this group of government officials anonymously and media figures amplifying it, attacking him and trying to smear his reputation. You see the same thing happening with Wikileaks, with whistleblowers, the very few entities who are actually trying to bring transparency to what‘s going on, end up being assaulted, having their character destroyed. And that‘s what these plans were about that, that just got released.
UYGUR: Right. So, I want the audience to realize that because that‘s a cue for people. The minute something damaging comes out about people in power, the first thing they do is oh, they attack the source. Oh, they must have done something wrong. Whether it‘s a sex crime in Assange‘s case that just happens to come out at the same exact time whether it‘s all these things. So, don‘t necessarily believe the hike. Glenn Greenwald has been covering this courageous. We thank you for joining us.
GREENWALD: My pleasure.
UGYUR: All right. Maine‘s new Tea Party governor wants to bring the circus to town including bearded ladies. He has his ways that act will be literal. Governor Paul LePage thinks women growing beards is a small price to pay for what he calls corporate freedom. Aka, giving corporations free rein to put dangerous chemicals in the products that they sell us. We‘ll explain all that, next.
UYGUR: Now it‘s time for some fun, interesting and a little controversial stories with my “Young Turks” co-host Anna Kasparian joining me live from L.A. Anna, what‘s going on today?
ANNA KASPARIAN, CO-HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: Oh, I have some awesome stories for you today. Let me start off by telling you about what‘s going on in Maine. While health activists are panicking about the potential harm BPA in plastics could cause, Maine‘s Republican Governor Paul LePage is cracking offensive jokes about the chemical additive. LePage told “The Bangor Daily News” that there is not enough science to ban BPA. He also said, if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So, the worst case is some women might have little beards.
UYGUR: OK. Look, what is he doing, is he kidding or he see things like—I mean, it seems like he‘s taking the issue of safety really, really lightly.
KASPARIAN: No, he really is. He‘s being totally dismissive. And what I love is, just the fact that he thinks he can make statements like that about something that could potentially harm our health and he thinks it‘s no big deal at all.
UYGUR: And by the way, as you have said, it‘s not OK—and by the way, it‘s also not OK for women to artificially grow beards because of a chemical, I‘m not in favor of that either.
KASPARIAN: Yes, I love what he thinks women with beards is no big deal at all. He‘s in favor.
UYGUR: OK. That‘s quite an interesting point, too. All right. Now, tell me about George Clooney.
KASPARIAN: All right. Even though George Clooney is set to play a dirty presidential candidate in the upcoming movie, the ideas of March, he would never consider running for office in the real world. Clooney told “Newsweek” that he didn‘t think his life, he‘s lived his life the right way for politics. He also added that he f‘d too many chicks and did too many drugs.
UYGUR: Well, you‘ve got to love the honesty. I mean, that‘s someone I would actually vote for him.
KASPARIAN: Absolutely. His honesty is definitely something I admire. And, you know, he even gave a little bit of tips when he was doing his interview with “Newsweek.” He said that presidential candidates should basically air out all their dirty laundry right at the beginning of the campaigns, that way no one can pick on them later on.
UYGUR: Well, that‘s true. And actually, Mitch Daniels—that in Indiana, saying, yes, yes, yes, show boxes full of marijuana back in the ‘70s, I got busted with LSD et cetera. But you know, what do you think? Does it still disqualify you this day and age if you had sex with too many women? Is that a bad thing? Would you vote for him?
KASPARIAN: I would vote for him. I definitely would admire his honesty. If you were to run for any type of office, I would say, you know what? This guy came out and said that he f‘d too many chicks and he did too many drugs. You‘ve got to admire that honestly.
UYGUR: No, I mean, I wish for all to have that kind of honesty. All right. Anna, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.
KASPARIAN: Thanks, Uygur.
UYGUR: All right. I am Cenk Uygur. And you can catch the Anna and I on TheYoungTurks.com at any time. Thank you for watching this show. And “HARDBALL” which is excellent starts right now.
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