Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday May 6, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Evan Kohlmann, Bob Windrem, Lawrence Wilkerson, Dana Milbank,
Richard Wolffe, Robert Reich
CENK UYGUR, ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur live from Los Angeles. We‘ve got fascinating news tonight.
Today, President Obama went to Fort Campbell and personally thanks the troops who tracked and killed the world‘s most wanted terrorist. The commander in chief told troops there he ordered the operation, because despite the risks, he had, quote, “100 percent confidence in them.”
Afterwards, he told the troops the story of a 14-year-old Peyton Wall who lost her father on 9/11. He reminded them why the death of Bin Laden was so important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: She explained how she still remembers that September morning almost 10 years ago. She was only 4 years old. Her father, Glen, was trapped inside is the World Trade Center.
So in those final frantic moments, knowing he might not make it, he called home and Peyton remembers watching her mom sobbing as she spoke to her husband, and then passed the phone to Peyton.
In the words that were hard to hear, but what she‘s never forgotten, he said to her, I love you, Peyton, and I will always be watching over you.
So yesterday she was with us, strong, confident young woman, honoring her father‘s memory even as she set her sights on the future and for her and for all of us, this week has been a reminder of what we‘re about as a people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: It‘s an amazing story, and I love that he told that. Look, that‘s why we went on that mission, that‘s why we‘ve been hunting this guy for 10 years. That‘s why all those troops behind him were working so hard to get this guy.
Meanwhile, intelligence officials are poring over the, quote, “mother load of intelligence” taken from Bin Laden‘s secret compound. From the documents, officials now believed that until his death Bin Laden played an active and direct role in developing new plots.
He was not just a figurehead as many analysts have thought. A U.S. official says he was, quote, “fully engaged to carry out other 9/11 attacks.” So the raid that led to his demise was not just a mission to deliver justice, but might have also helped to thwart future attacks as well.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda says it will release an audio message made by Bin Laden a week before his death. The group has also confirmed the death of its leader and vows swift revenge, saying it will continue to plot and plan against America without fatigue, boredom or despair.
I found that to be a curious statement. Do they often get bored while making terrorist plans? Unless it‘s very boring, but all right, I guess, we had to persist, weird statement.
Now officials have already uncovered a plot aimed at derailing U.S. trains in 2010. I guess that didn‘t work out for al Qaeda, but they do have more plans. Let‘s talk about that now.
Joining me now is senior investigative producer for NBC News, Bob Windrem, and NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann. Good to have both of you here. We appreciate your expertise on a night like this.
Evan, let me start with you, so how concerned should we be about those threats from al Qaeda?
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, it was kind of predictable that al Qaeda in its claim announcing the death of Bin Laden would talk about launching new attacks with the U.S. border soon. They did do that.
But they do that a lot. I mean, al Qaeda issues a lot of statements where they threatened to launch attacks in the United States. They talk about rivers of blood running in the streets.
And a lot of this never ends up happening. So I think we have to be concerned and we have to be vigilant, but just because al Qaeda makes a threat, that doesn‘t necessarily mean there‘s something behind it.
UYGUR: You know, I‘m glad you said that because I never buy. It‘s not that I don‘t buy they‘re not planning things. Of course, they are planning things. I don‘t buy the extra vigilance. If they have an opportunity to strike us, they‘re going to strike us. It‘s not like they were holding back so—
KOHLMANN: I think one of the concerns here really is the home-grown extremists. You know, we know that al Qaeda operatives are going to strike when they are prepared, but there are people out there, not a lot of people.
But there are people out there including right here in the U.S., who have properly motivated, even though they have never spoken to Osama Bin Laden. They have never been to Pakistan. They don‘t know anything about al Qaeda other than what they read on the internet.
These people can be motivated to go out and do something stupid, but there are people like that out there and it‘s important we recognize that something like this, the death of Bin Laden could motivate someone to do something like the massacre at Fort Hood.
So we have to be vigilant, but I think what you‘re saying is right on.
I mean, a lot of this is blowing smoke.
UYGUR: Right, and Evan, I agree with you. You know, we have to be vigilant for every type of attack that might happen even ones that were not being planned by al Qaeda initially.
But speaking of that, Bob, it looks like we‘ve got some tapes that we found in the compound and apparently those might have some very interesting things in them, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
BOB WINDREM, NBC NEWS, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Yes, I think what you‘ll see tomorrow is sort of a competition between al Qaeda trying to put out its audio statement and the United States government releasing some videotapes that were shot inside the compound.
From what we are told there will be unreleased propaganda video and also they‘ll be some, what I guess could be described as home movies, life inside the compound. The purpose of this release, we are told, is to once again provide an index of the reality of what happened in the last week, which was that he was killed.
You‘ll be seeing things that are very much part of the compound and we‘ll be seeing, I expect, in some of the unreleased propaganda video, some not so flattering pictures of Osama Bin Laden.
UYGUR: Those videos inside the compound they could be interesting. Al Qaeda cribs? I don‘t know. It could be embarrassing too. Al Qaeda‘s funniest home videos? I don‘t know. My guess is they don‘t want the tapes out, but I‘m glad we have them.
So let me ask you about the CIA safe house. Evan, apparently they had set one up very close to Bin Laden‘s compound, that‘s a really interesting story. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
KOHLMANN: Yes, I mean, it‘s very clear that the CIA didn‘t fully trust the ISI, and it didn‘t fully trust the Pakistanis. So they decided to consult their own intelligence outside of the knowledge of the Pakistani government.
And that‘s why it‘s even more difficult to understand now when the Pakistani intelligence service says, no, actually we really did help out. Well, no, you didn‘t.
All this was done by the CIA and by the U.S. government it‘s pretty clear. A lot of precautions were taken here to make sure this raid went forward, the right target was hit, that U.S. casualties were avoided.
Clearly this was planned out over a long period of time and very, very carefully. I think that explains why it was so successful.
UYGUR: Bob, we also find out that we might have more information on Ayman al-Zawahiri. He‘s the number two at al Qaeda. Is that something that‘s really good news or what‘s your take on that?
WINDREM: Well, a couple thing here. I mean, Zawahiri by his own count has said the U.S. has tried to kill him six times. At one point in January of 2006, there was an attack on a compound where he was actually living and he barely escaped.
So we have tried to go after him as a country on a number of occasions. Whether he is the heir apparent, however, is somewhat in dispute. Some in the U.S. government believe that because of his arrogance and because of his lack of popularity, that there will be others in line for this job, including an American Anwar Al Awlaki, and a Pakistani, Ilyash Kashmiri.
These are both younger men than Zawahiri. Zawahiri is 59, Awlaki is 40, and al Kashmiri is 46 so we can expect to see that at some point in the near future.
UYGUR: Well, cross your fingers and hope that they fight it out. So if they turn on each other that would be fantastic. I want to ask Evan about something that John Yoo said. Now John Yoo is with the Bush administration.
He‘s the one that authorized torture. He‘s got a new interesting theory. He says Special Forces units using nonlethal weaponry might have taken Bin Laden alive. If true, one of the valuable intelligence opportunities since the beginning of the war, has slipped through our hands.
His capture like Saddam Hussein‘s in December 2003 would have provided invaluable intelligence. Now, there‘s some irony here in that conservatives who pushed the dead or alive theme for Bin Laden are now complaining that we killed him.
But, you know, tell us the state of the intelligence. Would Bin Laden have helped? Is there any chance that he would have turned on the other al Qaeda? Or was most of the information in the hard drives, the videos, et cetera, as far as we can tell.
KOHLMANN: You always want to have a live suspect. There‘s no doubt about it. If you can capture someone alive, it‘s always better than having them dead because by default you can automatically get more information than when he‘s dead.
But, I mean, trying to second-guess the decisions made by a Navy SEAL team on the ground where they‘re confronted with people who are potentially armed with automatic weapons who have no desire but to kill them, I don‘t think that‘s reasonable second-guessing to me.
I mean, the men that were there did what they need to do based on what was happening on the ground. In an ideal world, we would have Osama Bin Laden in a U.S. courtroom right now facing a judge, but that doesn‘t always work that way.
So, you know, I really think that if you‘re going to make that kind of assessment you should at least first speak with the Navy SEAL team and find out what was going through their mind at the time they shot Osama Bin Laden.
UYGUR: Yes, John Yoo is not heavy on facts anyway. One last thing, Bob, you know, I want to go back to something Evan mentioned in the beginning.
Looking at any point, of course, people can be inspired to commit attacks here, unfortunately. I have an amazing fact. It turns out of 1,453 people who attempted to buy a gun and that were on our terrorists list, 1,321 of them were able to. That‘s amazing. Why don‘t we allow that?
WINDREM: It certainly is an amazing statistic. It goes also to, you know, databases are not perfect, and the laws are not perfect, but certainly what you can see here is that we have a society where a lone gunman can obviously change history.
We have seen that in our lifetimes, or some of us have, and I think the reality going forward is that nothing is probably going to be more the focus of U.S. intelligence, U.S. law enforcement, U.S. counterterrorism than that lone gunman, and this is something that should give them a great deal of concern.
UYGUR: And I know the NRA fights those laws. I mean, I can‘t believe we live in a country where we‘re having a discussion whether people on a terrorist watch list should be allowed to have weapons.
In fact, we‘ve lost that conversation, we‘ve lost that debate and they are allowed to have weapons. It‘s crazy, but Bob Windrem and Evan Kohlmann, thank you so much for your expertise tonight. We really do appreciate it.
KOHLMANN: Thank you.
WINDREM: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right, now tension with Pakistan is building and now they‘re making threats. One of our senators says he knows Pakistan is still hiding terrorists. Was this disaster with Pakistan because of how George Bush initially handled that country? That‘s a really interesting discussion ahead.
And Rush Limbaugh stoops to a new low, even for him. Can you imagine? Why does he think President Obama should be apologizing for killing Bin Laden?
UYGUR: The killing of Bin Laden made this a week that our country will never forget. Since the stunning announcement Sunday night, President Obama has received congratulations from across the globe and across the political spectrum.
Most Republicans were able to put the petty politics aside and give the president credit for a job well done even if it was painful for some of them to do it.
But there was one grumpy old man who just couldn‘t bring himself to put the pettiness and the meanness aside. He‘s David Koch, the secretive billionaire whose cash machine for the president‘s harshest critics including the Tea Party.
He‘s what he had to say, quote, “all that Obama did was say yay or nay. We‘re going to take him out or not. I don‘t think he contributed much at all.”
Yes, not much of a contribution except for picking the right strategy in Pakistan, picking the right tactic in carrying out the raid, and completely accomplishing the goal. Remember, when Republicans used to talk about how you had to respect the commander in chief?
All of a sudden not so much, Koch went on to say, “President Obama is scary because of his political views.” Well, Bin Laden also found him scary, so you guys have that in common. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: There are now new point blank accusations that Pakistan is still harboring terrorists even as we give them billions in aid. Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee says, he believes that top levels of the Pakistani government knew about Bin Laden and that they know about other terrorists as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The thing which astounds me more than anything, of course, is the idea that people in Pakistan higher up in the intelligence service or the army or police, local officials, didn‘t know he was there. I find that so difficult to believe. There‘s a bigger issue. They do know where the Haqqani network is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now they know that while we‘re giving them billions in aid. We give a total of $20 billion since 2001. Lately we‘ve been doling out at least $1.3 billion a year and we‘re apparently getting very little in return.
Pakistan has gotten very used to us not holding them accountable through all the Bush years, where we seem to have put very little pressure on them.
Remember Bush had no clue about Pakistan when he took office. Here‘s Bush as a candidate in 1999 unable to name the leader of Pakistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The new Pakistani general has just been elected. He‘s going to took over office. It appears he‘s going to bring stability to the country, and I think that‘s good news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can‘t name him.
BUSH: General, I can‘t name the general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Two things to note. Not only couldn‘t Bush name Pervez Musharraf, but Musharraf definitely was not elected. He came to power in a military coup and it was definitely not good for the subcontinent.
Now that level of ignorance did wind up becoming very relevant as the Bush administration just kept trusting Musharraf over and over again, as if he was good for Pakistan and good for our interests.
By 2006, the evidence was already mounting that Pakistan was giving cover to terrorists, but the Bush team still didn‘t get it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pakistanis aren‘t willing to seek Bin Laden and have peace pact with the terrorists, where are we?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I don‘t buy the premise of your question. President Musharraf has been a great ally. In fact is Musharraf has put his neck on the line in order to be effective in going after the extremist elements, including al Qaeda and including the Taliban in Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oops. T hey had the wrong strategy. They were soft on Pakistan. Barack Obama promised a different strategy during the campaign. He said, we‘re going to act with or without them and now Bin Laden is dead.
And word today that the U.S. has launched its first drone attack in Pakistan since the killing of Bin Laden. Pakistani officials say the attack killed 10 people in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border. You want to talk tough on terror? That‘s how you do it.
Joining me now is Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, great to have you here. Now, I know that Pakistan has a lot of nuance, it‘s not as simple as you give them aid or you don‘t give them aid. They‘re different people within their government.
But to the outside world, as you look back at the Bush administration, it appeared that we were far too trusting over the Musharraf government.
COLONEL LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): I would say that‘s probably a fair assessment, but the most—I listened to your lead-in, and I was thinking the most damaging thing we did in the Bush administration was we took our eye off the ball in the Afghan/Pakistan theater.
When we went to Iraq, it became basically a backwater theater, an economy of force theatre, as we say in the military. We just don‘t have the assets to put that kind of emphasis on two theatres simultaneously.
So when we went to Iraq, Afghanistan was just there. We weren‘t doing very much there. It was wasted time. In that time, as you pointed out, Musharraf spent most of the money we were giving him on beefing up the army to confront India, not on delivering jobs to his people, better infrastructure, education and so forth, which should have been the purpose of that money.
UYGUR: Colonel, I‘m really curious to what happened inside the White House. Obviously, there are a lot of smart people that work there, including your boss, Colin Powell, including yourself, that knew the dynamic within Pakistan.
So when you guys said, wait a minute, why are we taking our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan, what was the reaction? How did it work internally?
WILKERSON: I don‘t think there was as much argument as there should have been. The argument was more of the debate I should say. It was more over whether we should do Iraq at all. My boss was adamant there were a couple reasons why we shouldn‘t do it at the time we did it.
One was that we didn‘t have the international support and vastly international legitimacy and the other one, probably more to your point, it was bad timing. We simply didn‘t have the armed forces, the assets to prosecute two theaters with vigor simultaneously.
And so he knew that if we were going to Iraq, we would going to leave the theater that was probably the more important one on its own for a long period of time, however long it took us to stabilize things in Iraq. We knew it would take longer than five or six months to do Iraq right.
UYGUR: You know, I remember back then I was pulling my hair out like, he‘s in Afghanistan, why are we sending more people to Iraq than we are to the Afghanistan/Pakistan area where we know al Qaeda? It made no sense to me.
WILKERSON: I think that‘s become so clear that I wonder why the American people haven‘t gotten on to it yet. Yesterday, or day before yesterday, the Iraq oil report made the projections that there‘s 100 billion barrels for sure, 200 billion probably, and at the outside 300 billion. That dwarfs Saudi Arabia. I know why Dick Cheney went to Iraq.
UYGUR: Wow. So you‘re saying that it didn‘t have to do with al Qaeda or Bin Laden. Obviously, they weren‘t there and you guys knew they weren‘t there. It had to do with the oil.
WILKERSON: That was the camouflage. That was to get the American people excited about going to war in Iraq again. The real reason for Iraq, and incidentally the reason we aren‘t coming home anytime soon is the oil.
UYGUR: You know, you mentioned Dick Cheney as if he was making the decisions. I want to play one more clip here from George Bush in that same interview when he was asked about world leaders and then get a response from you. Let‘s watch first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you name the president of Chechnya?
BUSH: No, can you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you name the president of Taiwan?
BUSH: Yes, Lee. The new Pakistani general has just been elected. He‘s going to took over office. He appears he‘s going to bring stability to the country, and I think that‘s good news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can‘t name him?
BUSH: General. I can‘t name the general.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime minister of India?
BUSH: The new prime minister of India is—no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, at the time, I remember some people said, well, that was unfair, you can‘t ask somebody running for president to know world leaders. But his profound lack of knowledge, did it lead to people like Dick Cheney being able to really take control and do things that the president, you know, was not savvy enough to understand?
WILKERSON: In my view, absolutely so. The president was not steeped in much of anything certainly not foreign policy. Dick Cheney is one of the most competent, capable bureaucrats I‘ve ever met.
I worked in the Pentagon when he was secretary of defense. I would have declared him at the end of that time period, the best secretary of defense since James Forestall, but that best was because of the his decision-making ability, his executive ability.
He brought that ability to the White House. George W. Bush did not possess that ability ergo guess who became president in that first term.
UYGUR: More strong words. That‘s why we love having you on, real truth, that‘s what we try to get here. Retired Army Colonel Wilkerson, as always, a great pleasure to have you tonight.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: All right, now conservatives were always praising George W. Bush for being tough on terror, but now all of a sudden, they‘re saying Bin Laden should not have been killed. Are you kidding me? Their explanation as to why we should have spared Bin Laden is our con job of the day.
Remember way back when this guy was a Republican rock star? The process of tearing him down has begun, and it‘s coming from his own party.
UYGUR: And for our Con Job of the day, we take a look at conservatives efforts to spin Bin Laden‘s capture to reflect badly on the president.
Rush Limbaugh for one says, since the Obama administration advocated against harsh interrogation tactics, they didn‘t get Bin Laden as soon as they should have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH: They owe us an apology for taking every opportunity to undermine our efforts to track down Bin Laden and other terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But, wait a minute. The Bush administration was the one that did the enhanced interrogation tactics in the first place. By Rush‘s logic, shouldn‘t they have caught Bin Laden a long time ago?
And get this, Bush doesn‘t owe us an apology for not catching Bin Laden for less than seven years? But Obama owes us an apology for catching him in less than two? That‘s not all of it.
Now some of the right are worried about the legality of the mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a murder of a person residing in Pakistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can the president kill whoever he wants?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently so. We‘re trying to do it in Libya now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Really? Now we shouldn‘t have killed Bin Laden? That‘s your conservative talking point? I don‘t remember anyone on the right being concerned about Bin Laden‘s legal rights when it was this guy going after him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I want justice, and there‘s an old poster out west, as I recall, that said wanted, dead or alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So back then, dead or alive was awesome. Now that it‘s a democratic president who delivered on that promise, all of a sudden FOX News isn‘t sure it‘s legal. The pathetic hypocrisy of the right wing on the capture of Bin Laden is our con job of the day.
Now the triple-a squad took the stage last night on the first GOP debate for 2012. It was so lame that Speaker Boehner didn‘t bother to watch. What he did and said was pretty funny.
UYGUR: Since the 2010 election, it‘s been a downhill slide for the GOP, fueled by Paul Ryan‘s disastrous plan to privatize Medicare. Republican leaders are now trying to run away from it, but the damage is done. They‘re almost all on the record voting for it. But the first big electoral test for Ryan‘s plan is coming up later in this month in a special congressional election in Upstate, New York in the race for Craigslist Congressman Chris Lee‘s now empty seat, remember this guy? We‘ll miss you. The district should have been an easy win for the GOP candidate. The state assembly woman Jane Corwin, it‘s a heavy republican district. And Lee won 74 percent of the vote last November.
But a majority of registered voters in the district are over 45, and Corwin‘s staunch support for rise Medicare plan may doom her chances. A recent poll shows that democratic candidate Kathy Hochul is only down five points. That‘s amazing in that district. So, stay tune. Meanwhile, the sad state of the GOP was on full display the first 2012 republican debate in South Carolina last night. The big name contenders didn‘t bother to show up. In fact, the most popular guy there, based on recent polls was Ron Paul, and he came in at a whopping five percent in that recent polls.
House Speaker John Boehner didn‘t even care enough about the debate to watch it. He spent his night at a steakhouse with a bottle of cabernet and a few cigarettes. Sounds like an average night for Boehner, swilling that cabernet all night long. Anyway, he told CBS News, he would quote, “read about the debate tomorrow, there‘s more time for people to get in.” Wow, that‘s not exactly a hardy endorsement of the field. Well, Boehner didn‘t mismatch by now watching the debate, they spent a lot of time on social issues and of course bashing Obama on foreign policy, despite the fact that we just got Bin Laden. Now, here‘s a sample of the debate from FOX News Channel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Governor Pawlenty, we‘ll start with you, you‘ve had plenty to say about Romney-care.
TIM PAWLENTY ®, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Well, Governor Romney is not here to defend himself, and so I‘m not going to pick on him or the position that he took in Massachusetts.
RICK SANTORUM ®, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: What President Obama has done on his watch, the issues that‘s have come up while he‘s been president, he‘s gotten it wrong strategically every single time.
RICK SANTORUM ®, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: Most of the people in elective office in Washington, D.C., they have held a public office before. How is that working for you? We have a mess. How about sending a problem-solver to the White House?
REP. RON PAUL ®, CONGRESSMAN: How many people here would use heroin if it was legal? I‘ll bet nobody would put to hand. Oh, yes, I need the government to take care of me. I don‘t want to use heroin, so I need these laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: They spent less than six minutes on jobs and the economy. That‘s amazing. And the guy who clearly won the debate according to republican pollster Frank Luntz‘s focus group, was Herman Cain. In fact, it was an unprecedented unanimous decision by the focus group. Have you even heard of Cain? Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina was obviously frustrated with the direction of the debate and said, quote, “If I had to advise them, I would say get back to the issues that are at hand, American Energy Independence, the rising prices of the pump, and our nation‘s national debt.” Translation, this group of candidates did not do the job. And they were basically a joke.
Joining me now is Dana Milbank, national political correspondent and columnist for “The Washington Post,” and MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. All right. Dana, let me start with you. Herman Cain, is he for real? You know that focus group? Only one person out of I believe 29 was in favor of Cain going in. All 29 came out in favor of Cain afterwards.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, now, full disclosure, Cenk, I‘m completely in the tank for Herman Cain after last night. That was an astounding performance. I like to say, the whole debate, do you remember the old movie, “Don‘t Tell Mom the Babysitter‘s Dead”? So, now, we have, you know, first the mom leaves, then the baby-sitter dies and then the children are just left to fend for themselves. And that‘s what it was. And, you know, I mean, we all make jokes about Herman Cain, who is he? Well, who are any of these guys? I mean, nobody in this field even the, you know, mortally wounded Mitt Romney, the, you know, the Godfather of Obama-care is really in practice a viable candidates. So, who‘s to say that Herman Cain cannot become the front-runner?
UYGUR: Richard, are the president‘s enemies his best friends?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let‘s just look at this composition here. Because, you know, if you were Ron Paul, the front-runner clearly in this field, you would be worried about McCain, nipping at your heels there, doubling up from two to four maybe or trebling to six, based on the Luntz piece of it, and more importantly, who‘s going to be the rodeo clown when they actually have ten people up on stage and some of them could actually win the nominations? So, I think the whole party has to worry about who‘s playing what role here? Because Tim Pawlenty is going to have lots of competition for the dull, respectable slot, and now it‘s just massively overpopulated in the jokester.
UYGUR: Well, listen, I love any discussion of Tim Pawlenty. Because I think he‘s the most overhyped candidate possibly of my life. You know, this guy has never scored above, what, maybe I think of four percent in one of the polls? But generally, he‘s run one or two percent, he gets clowned last night by Herman Cain, Dana, I mean, did he do more damage by being in the debate and not shining?
MILBANK: I have to think so. I mean, the idea was that he was going to be the only grownup in the room, but the problem is, he gets Gary Johnson, this guy who‘s nobody‘s heard of, used to be the governor of New Mexico, who wants, you know, legalized drugs and prostitution, gets just as much time as Tim Pawlenty. So, I mean, the worst moment of the night was when poor Pawlenty is saying, I‘m sorry, it was a mistake, I should never have supported Cap and Trade, so he‘s grabbling and apologizing rather than scoring points. So, I think he was definitely, you know, the guys who didn‘t show up definitely made the right move.
UYGUR: Well, one more thing about the debate, Ron Paul got the biggest applause of the night, line of the night I should say, when he talking about Afghanistan, but it was different than you would suspect. Let‘s watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Now that he‘s killed, boy, it is a wonderful time for this country now to reassess it, and get the troops out of Afghanistan and end that war that hasn‘t helped us and hasn‘t helped anybody in the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Richard, what does that tell you about the state of the republican voters in South Carolina where we get that huge of pause line against the Afghanistan war, originally started by Republicans?
WOLFFE: Right. And last time I checked South Carolina quite like this, federal dollars that come with military spending. But, you know, I just have these flashbacks that Howard Dean‘s saying, you know, when they got Saddam Hussein, it didn‘t make us any safer. And there were a lots of other people on the progressive side who‘ve thought, that was a great thing. You know, they don‘t want to be in a rock, anyway, it was just a losing proposition at that point of the election in 2004. And I think now that—I‘m not saying that Afghanistan is something the president has to stick with for his own reelection. In fact, the president himself is going to be drawing down troops in July, but the prospect of Republicans who have run so hard on the National Security side of things being ripped apart by a guy on their own team who says, no more National Security, that‘s a party at war with itself.
UYGUR: Speaking of that, Dana, let‘s go back to Congressman Ryan‘s plan because that election opens Upstate, New York. Wow, it‘s only five points apart in a district that should not be anywhere near close. Do you think that has to do with Ryan‘s plan and is that significant trouble ahead for 2012 in all those congressional races for the Republicans?
MILBANK: Potentially. And I‘m not, you know, I‘m not sure the Democrats want to put too much in that race because a lot of those voters may come home regardless of what it‘s going on out there but it‘s no accident. I mean, look at the republican field, nobody, I mean, they‘ll saying nice things about Paul Ryan, but nobody is really embracing the plan. I mean, we did see Santorum come out and say, in fact he would go further than Ryan and he would actually voucherize Medicare even for those on the program right now. And that didn‘t seem to be an overwhelmingly popular thing last night. He was on the defensive even with those core voters there, so it‘s clearly something that they‘re fleeing from, you know, the best move at this point politically is to change the subject.
UYGUR: Right, and you know, we had an election in Wisconsin, I know it‘s a state election, but that flipped from a republican district to democratic district. Steven Doyle won 54 to 46 over John Lautz. That happened this week, so they‘re small signs, but they‘re growing. So, when you put that together with a weak field, Richard, and by the way, Donald Trump just got kicked out of a NASCAR event. He was supposed to do the lead car and they said, we don‘t want you here. I‘m sorry, it was an Indy car, I should say. When you put all that together, God, it looks like a disaster at this point at least for the Republicans, doesn‘t it?
WOLFFE: Well, it‘s early but the disaster is yet to unfold. Look, the Ryan budget which they hailed as being courageous is going be their longest suicide note in political history. And watching Republicans explain how they were for it before they were against it is just going to be wonderful to watch for all of us. And never mind Donald Trump, the sort of the comedic effects of the pretzel shapes there, they‘re going to turn themselves into is going to be the spectacle of the next year.
UYGUR: You know, Dana, I never quite believed that President Obama was doing the rope-a-dope strategy where he brings the Republicans in by agreeing with them and then they overreached. But if he was, I guess this was it, right? I mean, they really overreached with Medicare. And if at any time there‘s time for a knockout punch after a long bout of rope-a-dope, it looks like this would be it, right?
MILBANK: It looks that way. I mean, and I think, it‘s you know, better to be lucky than to be good in this game of politics. I suspect the president, he was less of, yes, they were trying to smoke the Republicans out to do this, but they couldn‘t have possibly guessed that it would work out this way, so it‘s definitely worked out to their advantage, fragmented the field further, and, you know, I mean, but if Ron Paul can get cheers for legalizing heroin, perhaps he can, you know, get boost some cheers for this Medicare plan.
UYGUR: I think legalizing heroin is far more popular. I mean that literally. I bet if you did polling out of it, you‘d see. All right. Dana Milbank and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.
MILBANK: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, ahead, the war on the middle class has never been more clear, thanks to the GOP CEO pay now exceeds pre-recession levels. Congratulations for them. And today‘s jobs numbers don‘t tell the real story. Where did the money and the jobs go?
And Al-Qaeda has announced that they will carry out more terrorist attacks against us. I‘ll tell you why I think they‘re full of it.
UYGUR: Wall Street fat cats are raying in more cash than before the recession, that‘s amazing. But Republicans are doing everything they can to give them even more breaks. Maybe that‘s even more amazing. Robert Reich on the water against the middle class, next.
UYGUR: There‘s now new evidence that the middle class in this country remains under siege despite some good signs on the job‘s front. The latest number shows that economy added 244,000 jobs in April, beating expectations. That‘s of course is good news. The jobless rate is now at nine percent, that‘s not really good news. In fact, that‘s a little higher than last month, but analysts say that it shows people have confidence in the job market and have resumed actively searching. President Obama says, it‘s proof that the economy is on the rebound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We just went through one of the worse recessions in our history. Worst in our lifetimes, the worst since the great depression. But this economic momentum that‘s taking place here and else it‘s taking place all across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Btu one of the problems is the jobs Americans are getting are pretty low-paying. Sixty two thousand were created by McDonald‘s alone last quarter. So, that‘s a huge chunk of the jobs created last quarter. But as the average working person is struggling, corporate profits are soaring. Was CEOs raging in like they‘ve never done before literally? In fact, the Fortune 500 companies made a combine $10.8 trillion last year and their preference went up 81 percent. That‘s a stunning number. In 2010, the average compensation for an S&P 500 CEO was $9 million. That‘s their average. That was up 24 percent from 2009. So what are politicians doing about all this? Are they going to create jobs? Seeing that we‘re still at nine percent unemployment? No, they‘re doing a betting of corporations. Republicans are now busy trying to fight against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which would protect consumers, and they‘re also busy passing new laws to help the bankers as if they weren‘t helped enough. Are there no bounce of reason?
Joining me now is former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, she‘s now professor at UC Berkeley, and he‘s going to help us try to figure this thing out. Great to have you here as always.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Hi, Cenk.
UYGUR: Hey, so first question is, look, how long we‘ve been told, hey, if the corporations do well—and they‘ve got these big profits, they‘ll hire more people. The Republicans keep chanting job creators, job creators, but it doesn‘t appear they are creating nearly enough jobs. So, why is there this disparity?
REICH: Well, one reason Cenk that they are doing so well, and we see corporate profits almost up to pre-recession levels right now is because they‘re their cutting payrolls. I mean, payrolls are one of their biggest costs, and if they can cut their payrolls and ship the jobs abroad or replace the jobs with automated machinery or the internet or software, that means more money for the corporation and higher profits. And that exactly what‘s happening. Jobs are really not coming back at the rate that they should be coming back largely because these corporations basically want to make more money.
UYGUR: So, when the Republicans tell us night in, and night out gigs, oh, we got to create more jobs by giving more breaks to the businesses and banks. I mean, how, and by the way, they‘re doing it right now. You can talk to us about those, you know, laws they‘re passing to protect the bankers as we speak. How much nonsense is that based on this evidence, these facts?
REICH: Well, it‘s a lot of nonsense, in fact it‘s huge nonsense, Cenk. I mean, these big corporations are now sitting on almost $2 trillion of cash. They don‘t know what to do with it. They‘re buying back their own shares of stock in order to further increase stock prices, and executive pay because so much executive pay is related to shares of stock. And they are doing mergers and acquisitions, buying up other companies, again, they are expanding production abroad. They are not expanding jobs here in the United States by any reasonable amount. I mean, you know, the job numbers look pretty good. But if you consider that we need about 350,000 new jobs every single month for the next three or four years to get back to six percent unemployment, we‘re really, this is a very poor jobs number, and a very poor jobs report, given what we all to be seeing in a recovery.
UYGUR: Look, and part of the problem here is that the whole idea that they‘ve been pushing for over 30 years now, this trickle down economy just doesn‘t work. Let me give you two graphs here that are, you know, really telling. When you look at the top one percent of Americans, their average income tax rate has decline from 34.5 percent in 1980 all the way down to 23.27 percent. Now, the number you‘re looking at there is their income, their share of total income for the country. It went up from 8.5 percent to 20 percent. So, what they told us is, hey, if you lower our taxes, as we did there now, that‘s the number you‘re looking at there, don‘t worry, you know, it will come down to you, but it didn‘t. We got nine percent unemployment. Where did it go? It went to them, it went from 8.5 percent to 20 percent.
REICH: Exactly, Cenk. There‘s simply no trickle down. I mean, trickle-down economics is a big fat lie. And we have right now many, many top executives, CEOs, Hedge Fund managers, Wall Street executives, they‘re making oodles of money, and they are paying 15 percent taxes. That‘s lower than most secretaries, lower than most lower middle class, working class people. How are they getting away with it? Because they‘re capital gains, they‘re treating it more and more of their income as capital gains and its dividends that are taxed now at 15 percent. I mean, they are setting the rules. You and I, average working Americans across this country, the middle class, are not setting the rules.
UYGUR: Look, that‘s because they rigged the rules, as you say. Because they bought the politicians. One last real quick thing, let me show you a chart, graph of income and equality. We‘re now between Uganda and the Ivory Coast. We have worse income inequality than Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, what has become of this country? And if you don‘t have a middle class, who‘s going to buy those goods?
REICH: Well, exactly, Cenk. In fact, one of the reasons we are having such a hard time coming out of the gravitational pull of the great recession is because so many people don‘t have enough money. I mean, what we ought to be doing right now, and what our politicians is watching and ought to be doing, instead of worrying about the long-term budget deficit, and cutting spending, and all of that stuff, what they ought to be doing is worrying about putting cash, more money, and more jobs for average working people. I mean, you know, cut payroll taxes.
REICH: I mean, create a WPA for people, if you can‘t provide another way of creating jobs.
UYGUR: All right. Secretary Reich, thank you so much. We‘ve got to go. We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: You know, earlier in the show we talked about how Al-Qaeda might try to attack us now. Of course, that‘s what they always do. But you know, what bothers me is when people are afraid of Al-Qaeda. Look, they‘re going to try to attack us either way. It‘s not like they were holding back, and there‘s nothing you can do about it. I don‘t mean that in a defeatist way. I mean it in terms of unless you‘re a CIA guy or you‘re in the Navy SEALs, it doesn‘t do any good to get scared by it. In fact, it helps them, it helps them terrorized us if you are terrorized by it. So, what I—the reason I see that is, because not just because in your personal life, I don‘t want you to get freaked out and stoned cold out and go travel or whatever it might be.
It‘s about our values. I don‘t want us to be so scared that we change the way that we do things, that all of a sudden we‘re so scared we do torturing of people, we do indefinite detentions, we set-up lawless black sites, we invade random countries that didn‘t have anything to do with 9/11. And that we‘re so afraid that we don‘t even use our own justice system. Look at what we found out, the guy was hanging out in two rooms, pacing back and forth, arguing with his wife and kids. They‘re going to bring in the plumber. It wasn‘t some cold terrorist, it was literally the plumber. OK. He had his sink clogged. He‘s a normal guy. We‘ve got the superior firepower. We have superior intelligence system. We have the superior justice system. Yes, of course we can‘t stop every attack, but we can‘t be paralyzed by fear, either. We have to go out there and conquer the world with our ideas, you know the ones that we used to believe in, before 9/11, that‘s what we‘ve got to get back to.
All right. That‘s been our show. I want to thank you for watching. You can always follow me online at theyoungturks.com. And of course, on YouTube at The Young Turks at Facebook.com/tytnation and twitter.com/theyoungturks. We actually read your tweets, and sometimes I read them on here right here on the show. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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