Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Friday May 20th, 2011
Read the transcript from the Friday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Bill Press, Pat Buchanan, Damon Silvers, Alan Grayson, Ron
Brownstein, Ana Kasparian
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Good evening, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
We‘ve got a lovely Friday show ahead for you guys, but I‘m sorry I‘m going to have to start with some bad news tonight. It turns out the Republican Party is infected. They have Obama Derangement Syndrome.
I think I was supposed to get a scream there.
OK. ODS is a knee-jerk reaction that causes opposition to anything President Obama says or does. We‘ve seen it on all kinds of issues from climate change, to health care mandates, where Republicans have wholesale changed their positions simply because President Obama adopted their previous stance.
Fox News once objected to how Obama ate his hamburger. He eats it with mustard, so Fox says ketchup is the way to go. Now, that‘s full blown ODS.
Right now we‘re seeing the same reaction in the bogus conservative uproar over Obama statements that Israel‘s 1967 borders would be the starting point for peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The right would have you believe that this was some sort of shocking radical change in policy. Apparently, they weren‘t listening when President Bush made the same exact point back in 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be mutually agreed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: For years, the U.S. and Israel have agreed to the borders Israel had from the Arab Armistice in 1949 to the Six Day War in 1967 would be the basis for peace. In fact, in 2008, the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, said, “We must give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to the core of the territory that is the state of Israel prior to 1967.”
That‘s exactly what Bush was saying. That‘s exactly what Obama was saying. But now, all of a sudden, wow, how radical for our president to suggest something an Israeli prime minister already said three years ago. Yet, Republican politicians are ignoring all that history anyway and attacking President Obama for somehow betraying Israel.
Over on Fox, the reaction has been predictably over the top.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Former Massachusetts governor/GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged, “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.” Well, more like a bus full of suicide bombers.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS: What Obama did today is to tear up that agreement.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Let me tell you how this ends. It ends with the destruction of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: When President Bush was in favor of the 1949/‘67 borders, that was a terrific and statesmanlike thing to do. When President Obama says it, he has destroyed Israel!
Look, that is as significant a case of Obama Derangement Syndrome as you will ever see. And I don‘t think this patient can recover.
All right. Let‘s bring in some other voices.
Joining me now are a pair of old friends to us and old friends to each other. And they‘re not afraid to mix it up either.
It‘s Bill Press, obviously, host of “The Bill Press Show” on Satellite Radio, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
All right. Pat, let me start with you.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
UYGUR: Is this some radical change? Oh, my God, 1967 borders. It‘s like Obama came up with it or something.
Is there something going on here with the Republican Party? What‘s wrong?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think the Republican Party is playing politics.
Cenk, I happen to agree with you on this one. The 1967 borders are the basis, and from there you move for swaps of territory, for defense of borders, and all the rest. The hysteria is not justified.
And frankly, I don‘t think Prime Minister Netanyahu helped himself today when he treated the president of the United States like a schoolboy and began to lecture him on what exactly were the basic terms beyond which no one could move in terms of any kind of Israeli/Palestinian settlement. So I don‘t agree with Republicans on this at all. I think what the president said was a fundamental restatement of policy, and I think there was nothing wrong with it.
UYGUR: Bill, you know, we seem to be moving, not just here in the U.S., but apparently in Israel as well, further and further right. So you saw the previous prime minister saying 1967 borders make sense. Now Netanyahu seems to be encouraged by our Republican reaction, saying, oh, yes, yes, yes, 1967 borders. Did we say that? No, I‘m now going to call it indefensible.
I mean, how far right can we go here and does that help anybody? Does it help Israel? Does it help the U.S.?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, first of all, I‘ve got to say, it‘s always scary when Pat and I agree, and when the three of us agree, you know, watch out. Right?
But I just have to say, first of all, look, this has been the policy through the last three presidents, 1967 as the basis for moving forward. It was Bill Clinton‘s policy. It was George W. Bush‘s policy. As you pointed out, it is now President Obama‘s policy.
One of the first comments I saw this morning was from Jonah Goldberg, hardly a liberal, who said Republicans are being hysterical over this. This is nothing new.
And the president, I have to point out, also, Cenk—and I know you both know—he said in 1967, of course there have been some changes on the ground ever since then that have to be accounted for through land swaps. That‘s how you do that.
And he also said we‘re not dictating this. Whatever happens has to be worked out between the two parties.
So, you‘re right. And here‘s what‘s happening.
Benjamin Netanyahu is as far right as you can get, and the reason is because of the domestic politics in Israel. That‘s the crowd that he is playing to. And if he looks like in any way he is for a peace process, and is actually going to deliver a two-state solution, he‘s afraid he‘s going to lose his seat. That‘s the crowd he‘s playing to.
UYGUR: Unfortunately, the right wing in both countries, in my opinion, are driving us over a cliff, because, in the end, you want peace. And the only way you‘re going to get it is two states. So this doesn‘t help anybody, this kind of derangement on the part of the Republicans and right-wingers in Israel saying, no, no, we‘ve got to have it all. It doesn‘t make any sense.
Go ahead, Pat. One last word on this one.
BUCHANAN: OK. Look, Israel has got one friend in the world, basically, the United States of America, and the president of the United States was disrespected. Now, if I believed for a second that the president of the United States was saying you‘re going all the way back to the ‘67 borders and stay there, where Israel is eight miles wide, I would disagree with that position, but that‘s not what the president said.
PRESS: Right. Right.
BUCHANAN: I think he‘s been misrepresented. And again, I was astonished at that press conference. I‘ve never seen a president of the United States sit there and have to listen to a lecture like that from an ally who is utterly dependent on the United States. And quite frankly, I think back in Israel, they‘re going to say, what was Benjamin Netanyahu doing when these are the only friends we‘ve got left given what‘s happening in the Arab Spring?
UYGUR: Look, I think he‘s egged on and encouraged by the Republicans, and honestly by a lot of the Democrats who keep saying there‘s no limit we should ever put on any right-wing Israeli government. And I don‘t think that helps Israel at all.
But I do want to move on to other issues as well.
You know, we‘ve got—it‘s not just Israel where they‘ve done this flip-flop.
Pat, let me stay with you for one more second here.
On health care mandates, on cap and trade, on the Nuclear START Treaty and on the DREAM Act, all those either started as Republican ideas or with strong Republican cosponsors. Now they‘re all—you know, seem like they‘re totally nuclear—sorry. One of them is literally nuclear.
What‘s happened to the Republican Party there?
BUCHANAN: What happens is back then, you get cap and trade, global warming, everybody is for it. And a lot of the Republicans like lemmings, they go right along with it until the base says, what are you guys doing? This is big government and all the rest.
There‘s no doubt Newt had those positions back there, you know, on the individual mandate and all the rest of it back in ‘93, and then they shift. It‘s like the ERA. The whole Republican Party was for it before 1980, and then all of a sudden it became an article of faith, we opposed it, and a lot of those guys have left a lot of records there on film and tape, and everything.
UYGUR: So, Bill, that‘s the thing, right? I mean, we‘ve seen this spectrum all through our entire life.
UYGUR: If Nixon did the EPA, and now, of course, all the Republicans are against it, is it just the spectrum moving? Is it that President Obama who‘s in favor of it? What do you think is the main driving force here?
PRESS: Look, I mean, I want to come back to what you said. It is—it really is an Obama Derangement Syndrome.
David Horowitz is the first guy that used this phrase, and he is hardly any liberal either. He said some of his fellow conservatives are just over the top, and they have to oppose it if it looks like it‘s going to be President Obama‘s idea. Let me give you two other examples.
On bombing Libya, Newt Gingrich says—the day Gadhafi started bombing the citizens, Newt said, “I would send American planes in there. I would bomb Libya.” When Obama did it, Newt said, “I would never have done that.” Right?
Look at the debt ceiling. Ronald Reagan said it would be incalculable damage not to raise the debt ceiling. But today, when Obama is for that, the Republicans are against it. So I think a lot of it is just political. They feel that their position has to be whatever Obama is for, no matter how much sense it makes. And that‘s just bad public policy.
BUCHANAN: Hey, Cenk—
UYGUR: Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Yes. Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2007. Look, this is not an affliction solely of Republicans.
UYGUR: No, no, no. Hold on, guys. That‘s a fair point. And Obama did flip-flop on that, so that‘s fair.
But, Pat, when you look at the whole list—and I think those are two good examples that Bill gave—and especially—the START Treaty is a great example, because all the Republicans were in favor of that.
Why did they all of a sudden switch on that? That doesn‘t make any sense. You have to concede that.
BUCHANAN: But look, there‘s no question about it that when George W. Bush is in office, Republicans voted for things like No Child Left Behind, that we would have opposed were it Bill Clinton proposing these ideas. All this big government, Cenk, that is absolutely true, there is no question about it, but on some issues things do change, as I said, like the ERA.
PRESS: Sometimes, Pat, the only thing that changes is the guy that‘s proposing it. I want to give you two more ideas.
TARP is not an Obama product. It is a George W. Bush product that Barack Obama continued. And then the auto bailout, it‘s an Obama continuation of a Bush policy.
And the Republicans are for it, and then they now say that TARP is the worst thing that ever happened to this country. Blame George W. Bush. Be honest about it.
All right. We‘ve got to leave it right there, guys.
As always, Bill Press and Pat Buchanan, always great to have you guys together. Have a great weekend, guys.
PRESS: All right.
BUCHANAN: Take it easy, Bill. Right.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, AFL-CIO union boss Richard Trumka issued a big-time threat to Democrats. That‘s really interesting. He did that today, and that is a developing story that we have got the latest on when we come back.
And Newt‘s disastrous first week of campaigning kicked off when he called the Ryan plan radical, but now it has become the ultimate litmus test for the entire party. We‘ll tell you why that might destroy all of their presidential contenders.
UYGUR: The left is getting feisty lately. Democrats have been on the attack on Medicare all across the country. They‘re taking the fight to the Republicans.
And now there‘s a new fundraising group on the left that‘s out with an ad attacking Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney says he‘s on the same page as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare. But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder, which page is he on today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that ad comes from Priorities USA. That‘s a political action committee formed to support Democrats against the likes of Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and all those conservative super PACs.
But in order to fight against those guys, they need all the hope that they can get. So they need labor to step up big-time.
Unions gave Democrats about $400 million in 2008 -- that is obviously a very large sum—and another $200 million in last year‘s midterm elections. Fifty million dollars of that came from the AFL-CIO.
But now the AFL-CIO has threatened to pull that money out. And that is a huge development. Why?
Well, it‘s pretty simple. Because the Democrats didn‘t step up to help them.
And they‘re rightly asking, why should we help you when you never came to back us up? Remember, on key issues like the Card Check Bill and the public option, the Obama administration did almost nothing to help the unions. And those were their top two priorities.
And President Obama‘s noticeable absence in Wisconsin didn‘t help, either. Remember these promises he made back in 2007?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Oops. Well, he definitely didn‘t follow through on that one.
I didn‘t notice any comfortable shoes being put on in Wisconsin.
And unions are now totally fed up. The International Association of Firefighters announced last month they‘re pulling back federal funds and focusing their resources on grassroots organizing at the state level.
Now, remember at the grassroots, in places like Wisconsin, the Democrats were terrific. They fought hard. They worked together. They marched together. So now the unions see that that might be the place to concentrate their resources. And the AFL-CIO may also be following suit with the firefighters.
Check out what president Richard Trumka said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: It doesn‘t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside to let it happen. The outcome is the same either way to us. If leaders aren‘t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families‘ interests, then working people will not support them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: We‘re talking $50 million or more here. So now that‘s a wrecking ball. And with so much on the line, is it the right move?
To help us discuss that, we‘re going to bring in Damon Silvers. He‘s actually the policy director for the AFL-CIO, and he was with Richard Trumka today for that big speech.
Welcome. Great to have you here.
DAMON SILVERS, AFL-CIO POLICY DIRECTOR: A pleasure to be here.
UYGUR: So, is this as big a change as it appears? Might you be pulling back some federal money, including to President Obama‘s campaign?
SILVERS: Well, I think that what‘s happening here is that, as President Trumka laid out this afternoon, that we see working people under profound assault in America. And that profound assault is actually an attack on America‘s moral values. And we are looking for politicians who will stand up and fight for the values that made America great for the American dream, for the American middle class. And we‘re simply being clear that our support is going to depend on where you stand on that and how much vigor you bring to it.
And we‘re also saying that our resources really are going to be put the task of building workers‘ voice in America. And if there are politicians that are standing with workers, they‘ll benefit from that. And if there are politicians that are standing against us or absent, can‘t be found, then building workers‘ voice probably is not going to help them very much.
UYGUR: But let‘s talk strategy here, because you guys are between a rock and a hard place, honestly, because you think the Democrats haven‘t delivered for you. I just outlined some of the reasons why you think that, and I think, honestly, you have a very good point.
On the other hand, the Republicans are a disaster. I mean, look at what happened in Wisconsin, look at what happened in Ohio, and all across the country.
So what do you do with a problem like that?
SILVERS: Well, our basic—the point that President Trumka made today at the press club goes sort of like this—we‘re going to look at what different politicians actually do around the great moral challenge facing our country, which is, is the American dream going to survive? And if all the politicians in one party stand up and fight for the American dream, and fight for working people, then we‘ll be with them. If only some politicians in one party do that, we‘ll be with those politicians that do that.
And if, as sometimes it seems to be the case with Republicans, if none of the politicians in a party are prepared to stand up for the American dream, then we‘re not going to be with any of them. But I‘ll tell you, the results are different from place to place.
There are Republicans in the state Senate in Ohio who stood up and fought for workers‘ rights. And as President Trumka said today about those Republicans, we‘ll be with them.
UYGUR: So on some cases I get it, it‘s very clear. Like Blanche Lincoln, out in Arkansas, seemed to never really be on your side even though she called herself a Democrat, and you guys worked in the primary against her. To me, that made all the sense in a world. You would be crazy to work for her if she doesn‘t work for you. It just doesn‘t make any sense, right?
But, on the other hand—and then you‘ve got the guys who are clearly on your side, and you support them. Again, it‘s very sensible.
The problem is the middle. Right? And we‘re dancing around it, but the one guy in the middle appears to be President Obama.
So talk to me about the implications there. Where do you think he stands in that spectrum?
SILVERS: Well, President Trumka actually addressed this directly this afternoon. And what he said about President Obama is that President Obama is definitely trying to go in the right direction with our country. He‘s in favor of creating jobs or putting people back to work, restoring fairness to our tax system.
The issue is vigor and volume. Is the scale of the vision right?
And we continue to look for the kind of scale of vision and moral courage that‘s necessary to fight the truly destructive forces that are at work in our country, forces that would essentially close schools and close universities and deny—literally deny clothing to foster kids in order to give rich people tax cuts. We‘re looking for President Obama to stand up and fight those forces boldly, as he essentially said he would in the 2007-2008 campaign.
UYGUR: So I‘m getting from you that think he‘s not doing that right now.
SILVERS: Every day is a test.
UYGUR: OK. Look, one last thing. Look, I know what you‘re saying. You‘re going to put some money in local races, et cetera, and you‘re going to shift your priorities, right? I get that.
But the bottom line is that—
SILVERS: Look, we are going to be very much involved in national politics, but what we‘re going to do in national politics first and foremost is build working peoples‘ voice. Not build a particular party or be blindly loyal to any particular candidate. We‘re going to build the voice and organizational power of working people, and we‘re going to make sure that that power stands for the values that made this country great.
UYGUR: All right. Damon Silvers of the AFL-CIO.
Thank you for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
SILVERS: Thank you very much. Take care.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, Senate Republicans once thought blocking votes on judicial nominees was completely unacceptable, until, of course, President Obama nominated someone they didn‘t like. Their gross hypocrisy on that is our “Con Job of the Day.”
And the epic week of Newt takes a turn nobody could see coming.
You‘re going to want to see this.
UYGUR: Now four our “Con Job of the Day,” we‘ve got Republican hypocrisy on the filibuster. I know, shocking.
Senate Republicans thought filibustering votes on judicial nominees was unconscionable during the Bush administration. Remember they threatened the nuclear option where they would have killed the ability to filibuster nominees entirely.
Are you going to be surprised to find out that they now think filibustering nominees is a swell idea?
Senate Republicans blocked the vote yesterday to appoint Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to San Francisco Circuit Court. The GOP argued Liu was too progressive to sit on the bench because he supports gay rights, affirmative action, and has suggested education is a constitutional right.
Funny that they didn‘t think Roberts or Alito were too conservative for having the exact opposite views. Texas Senator John Cornyn said blocking the vote was necessary because, “Liu would use his position as a federal judge to advocate his ideological theories and undermine well-settled principles of the United States Constitution. That is simply unacceptable.”
You mean like Roberts and Alito, who have voted straight party line conservative on almost every single case and who overturned hundreds of years of precedent in Citizens United?
Yes, I know. When conservatives are activist judges, that rocks.
The argument that Liu is too radical to serve is also undercut by the fact that Bush lawyer John Yoo—you know, the man who argued for torture -- and Kenneth Starr both supported this nomination. They‘re not men likely to support radical liberals.
But the part that drives me crazy is all those Republicans claiming that in the past, that blocking up-and-down votes on judicial nominees was simply unacceptable. Remember? Here‘s what they said in 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS: Any president‘s nominees, whether they be Republican or Democrat, if they have the support of a majority of the Senate, they will get an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s about allowing judicial nominees an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and I believe it‘s an issue of fairness.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, KENTUCKY: Any president‘s judicial nominees after full debate deserves a simple up-or-down vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Liars. That was of course when we had a Republican president. Now that we have a Democratic president, Republicans turned on their word immediately.
Any Democrat who thinks a Republican would honor a deal is a fool. They will lie to you, cheat right in front of your eyes, and go back on what they said in a minute flat.
Now, their latest lies and hypocrisy on filibustering judicial nominees is our “Con Job of the Day.”
All right. Now that I‘ve made that clear, when we come back, Senate Republicans can‘t run or hide from the Paul Ryan plan fiasco. They‘ll vote next week on it. But as they‘re getting ready to run away, the GOP presidential contenders are running straight off that same cliff.
There‘s nobody better to talk about this than Alan Grayson. He joins me next.
UYGUR: We‘ve been telling you about the huge GOP problem over the last couple of weeks. That‘s Paul Ryan‘s Medicare plan. They‘re damned by the voters if they support it and they‘re damned by conservative commentators if they don‘t. So, we now have this fascinating split where the Republicans in the Senate are running away from the plan while the GOP presidential contenders are running toward it. Now, let me show you why. Paul Ryan‘s budget plan would destroy Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program that has no guaranteed benefits. Voters hate it. We‘ve seen their outrage at town hall after town hall and in Paul after Paul. Seems like the whole country is screaming in unison, do not touch our Medicare. The Senate Republicans got the message loud and clear. They have pulled the chute.
The Hill reports that when the Senate votes on Ryan‘s plan next week, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell loath even bother pressuring other Republicans to vote for it. They are dropping this like a rock. But on the other hand, in order to win the primary, the presidential candidates have to appeal to the far right, which loves and demands this plan. And the far right is forcing all the candidates to sign under Ryan‘s proposal or face their wrath. Newt Gingrich learn this the hard way. He spent the week apologizing and groveling after he dared to critique Ryan‘s plan at all. Now, Mitt Romney is no dummy. He already has enough trouble with his right flank, so he immediately went along.
He rushed forward to say he‘s on the, quote, “same page as Ryan.” Tim Pawlenty is bragging that his plan will have many similarities to Ryan‘s but you might suspect that a guy like Jon Huntsman who‘s been build as the model in the race might be bold enough to challenge the plan. Well, almost, for a little while. According to “The Boston Globe,” he told a crowd in New Hampshire, there are parts of the Ryan plan that need to be considered. Only parts? Only considered? Well, before the rage of the caveman set in, someone handed Huntsman the memo. And he turned that hesitation right around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How about Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget. Former Speaker Gingrich such in trouble talking about that this week. If you were in Congress, would you have voted for him?
GOV. JON HUNTSMAN ®, UTAH: I would have voted for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Including the Medicare provisions?
HUNTSMAN: Including the Medicare provisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And there he goes. So today “The National Review” scolded him a little, asking him whether he just flip-flop on Ryan‘s plan, in other words, you better watch yourself. To the naked eye, this would appear to be asinine and unbelievably kind of productive for the Republicans. As their elected officials are running away from the Ryan plan, they‘re forcing their presidential contenders to fall on their own swords just to prove how extreme they are. But hey, if that‘s how you want to roll, have at it, hoss.
With me now is former democratic congressman from Florida Alan Grayson. Congressman Grayson, great pleasure to have you here.
FMR. REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Huntsman, you know, look, I‘m hopelessly naive, right? You know, I go after these Republicans, because I think they‘re bad for the country, I explain exactly why, I present my case et cetera, but every once in a while I see it a little hopeful, I see a guy like Huntsman, I think maybe he‘s a little moderate, and he goes in of course, immediately craters to the right wing. Am I a fool for ever having hope in any republican?
GRAYSON: I‘m afraid so, Jack. Listen, only four percent of all Americans ever vote in a republican primary. That‘s four percent. The other 96 percent are the normal Americans. The four percent are people who must never get sick because they don‘t want to have Medicare. Think about that. Every other industrialized country in the entire world not only provides health care for its seniors, but health care for everyone. And the republican right wing is trying to tell us that somehow we can‘t afford health care for our seniors. We‘ve got 40,000 Americans under the age of 65 who die every year, because they can‘t afford to see a doctor when they‘re sick. And now they want to extend that to the most infirm, most victimized, sickest part of the population, our senior citizens, so that more will die. I honestly believe that if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck announced one day that they were in favor of the Black Death, you would see every republican primary candidate for president go along with it.
UYGUR: You know, it depends. If Obama said, hey, I‘d like to cure the Black Death, they would go, oh, I don‘t know, the Black Death sounds pretty good. So, now, look, I think they have done tremendous damage to themselves. The polls are 70 percent in hires, they‘re on your side, Congressman Grayson. They say, we don‘t want you to touch our Medicare, so what are they doing here? Do they have a plan? You know, is Rush Limbaugh or FOX News, are they doing some sort of strategy that we can‘t understand? Are they just playing stupid?
GRAYSON: They are tools. It‘s that simple. They are tools. You know, George Carlin said back in 2005, they have made us ignorant, these people who own the country, they have made us ignorant and they have made us poor. And now, the next thing they want to do is to take away our Medicare and our Social Security. He said that in 2005. And it‘s taken six years to make it obvious that that‘s true. And God bless them. These Republicans like Ryan, you know, they may be cruel, they may be heartless, but at least they‘re honest. They‘ve told us exactly what they want to do with the power that they have accumulated. They want to take away Social Security and Medicare from our senior citizens.
UYGUR: You know, I think you nailed it. I think what it is corporations that have, you know, run amok. It‘s out-of-control greed, whether it‘s the banks with all the risks that they‘re taking that‘s going to crash our economy again, whether it‘s the oil companies at the height of being the most profitable companies in the world, they still want to take billions in subsidies from the American taxpayer, and whether it‘s these guys trying to cut your Medicare so they can cut taxes for the rich. I think they got the note from the, you know, the richest people in the country, from the corporations who said, hit the gas pedal, we don‘t give a damn, we‘re going to out-raise these guys, we‘ll going to get more money, and this is the time to put them away. Just tell them what you‘re going to do. It doesn‘t matter, we‘re just going to outspend them during the elections. I think that‘s what‘s happening. Now, the problem is, they are going to outspend the democrats in elections. So, how do you deal with that problem?
GRAYSON: Well, it‘s apparent now that what these owners want is nothing from the rest of us except for cheap labor. And that makes the senior citizens particularly vulnerable to their plans because the senior citizens don‘t work. So, from the perspectives of the owners of this country, they‘re useless. Their time in the economy is over and therefore they serve no purpose. But senior citizens still do vote and they voted in huge numbers in the last election, because the Republicans lied to them. And they told them that the Democrats wanted to take away their Medicare.
Now, they see that the Democrats are the only ones protecting their Medicare and the Republicans are out to destroy it. There‘s a reason why we call Medicare an entitlement. It‘s because you‘re entitled to it. It‘s not Medicare anymore if you‘re not entitled to it anymore. They want to take away the privilege of Medicare, they want to take away the right to Medicare and replace it with a piece of paper they know will not be enough to costs the cover of care. And that‘s how—they really are. So, I will say to senior citizens of this country, now you see the truth, you see their true colors. And the only thing you can do about it is turn out and vote for the only people in this country who are actually trying to protect you and your interests, the Democratic Party.
UYGUR: All right. Former democratic Congressman from Florida, Alan Grayson, very clear as always. Thank you so much.
GRAYSON: Thank you, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, I want to bring in Ron Brownstein, he‘s editorial director for the National Journal Group, he‘s a new article detailing many of the pressures that GOP candidates are facing from the conservative base. Ron, I read your article, and it is a damning case of flip-flop after flip-flop, whether it was, you know, cap-and-trade, whether it was the mandates, et cetera. It seems that if any republican had a reasonable position before, he must immediately abandon it now.
RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP: Well, the party is clearly moved to the right since the middle of the decade. And what you have found is a number of candidates who took positions at that point that seem to reflect a desire in the Republican Party to kind of evolve the message, to kind of broaden the coalition, are now out on that kind of spit of land and the tide that is come back in. Since the election of Obama, and Obama‘s, you know, very ambitious agenda in ‘09 that involved expanding the role of government in variety of way, health care reform, the stimulus, financial reform, it‘s produced a real back-to-basics reaction in the GOP, a real kind of reassertion of the belief that the core message is shrinking the size of government, and anything that seems to deviate from that is now suspect. There‘s no question about it.
UYGUR: So, you know, I keep going back to this question. Because I‘m trying to figure out if they have a strategy behind this or not. It would seem to be a terrible idea in a general election to be way radical right on every single issue, especially on Medicare, wouldn‘t it?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, the Medicare I think is of course the biggest gamble of anything we‘re talking about here. First of all, just to be clear, there are slight gradations in the views of some of these candidates on the Ryan plan. In particular, Ryan did that no one has really done before was eliminate conventional Medicare as an option. It doesn‘t even exist as an option in his version. Tim Pawlenty, for example, has suggested that he would leave it as an option. Newt Gingrich harkened back to ‘95 when they did something like this. But again, left it as an option.
Still, I mean, that‘s you know, that‘s the secondary issue, the core issue is taking the divide of transforming it from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution program. And that is a huge roll of the dice. Seniors, particularly white seniors have been moving toward the Republicans, not only in 2010, but before that almost three fifths of them voted for John McCain. There are increasingly important part, of the republican coalition for a lot of reasons. Most of which they have grown increasingly skeptical of government, but they still so support Medicare. So, this is clearly going to strain that slow-motion realignment of white seniors towards Republicans as much as anything else they could have done.
UYGUR: Now, Ron, you know, as I watched this happening before eyes. And like I said, I thought there was some chance that Huntsman could actually be a moderate, it might have been the only remaining moderate republican in the country. But now, not only has he supported the Ryan plan, but he‘s flipped flopped on cap-and-trade as Pawlenty has. And it looks like he‘s going in the same exact direction as all the other candidates. And they‘re all getting pushed there by guys like Rush Limbaugh. So, as you look at that, the president has got to be sitting in the White House thinking my God, Rush Limbaugh is my best friend. I just hope he keeps doing this to them.
BROWNSTEIN: Look, there are a couple of separate issues for the Republicans here. One is whether they are moving to positions that are popular, the individual position is popular with the country. They would argue in something like cap-and-trade. In fact, since the middle of the decade, in the polls do show, you know, with the economy in support for those kinds of actions have diminished in the public at large. But the larger issue within any of these particular positions, is whether this undermines your standing as a leader in the eyes of the public, whether the public sees you as retreating under pressure in the primary. If you can‘t stand up to Rush Limbaugh would be the argument how are you going to stand up to Vladimir Putin. And that is a threat, I think. You know, in 2004, George Bush was able to make Kerry‘s, you know, alleged flip flopping, an issue regardless of them or where he moved on the issues. And the same risk is out there for these Republicans, so that on the one hand while they are trying to appeal in the primary, they have to keep an eye on the general. And it is frightening, we should note that the big exception to this in the last few weeks was Mitt Romney doubling down on his individual mandate, which he defended in his speech other than, you know, throwing overboard and defended the language you could have heard from almost any democrat, that‘s going to cost him a lot of policy headaches, but I think the feeling was in their camp, if they went the other way, it would have been a bigger problem.
UYGUR: Right. And he already has a big flip flopping problem. And that what makes too, because anyone after Obama-care which is identical to his program.
UYGUR: So, I hear you. But I think mainly, Ron, you‘re right about, you know, catering to Rush Limbaugh. Because Newt Gingrich, you know, this week groveling to Limbaugh, that doesn‘t look presidential. That looks disastrous. So, I think that‘s their main problem. Ron Brownstein of the National Journal Group, thank you as always for coming on. I really appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, when we come back. Is it the end of the world as we know it? I hope not, followers of Family Radio‘s Harold Camping say judgment day is upon us, could actually happen as early as tonight. My Young Turks co-host Ana Kasparian joins me perhaps one last time, next.
UYGUR: Now, it‘s time for some political and current event stories. They‘re on the latter side, we‘re going to do that in just a little bit, are there some good once. Apparently, you‘re not allowed to say the word “gay” anymore in a certain state. We‘ll tell you which one.
UYGUR: Now it‘s time to have some fun with some political and current events story. I‘m going to bring in Ana Kasparian. She‘s my co-host from “The Young Turks,” how are you doing Ana?
ANA KASPARIAN, HOST, “THE YOUNG TURKS”: I‘m good, Uygur. How are you?
UGYUR: Awesome. All right. Let‘s have some fun. What you got first?
KASPARIAN: I want to start talking about the rapture. The world is coming to an end on Saturday, at least that‘s what Harold Camping from Family Radio in northern California thinks.
UYGUR: Disaster. What are you going to do? I‘m going to go grab banana cream pie.
KASPARIAN: Actually I‘m going to go get some pie, too.
UYGUR: What‘s his theory? What, he did some math on the bible or something?
KASPARIAN: He says that he has done extensive research on the bible. And through his research, he has found that the world will come to an end precisely 6:00 p.m. on May 21st.
UYGUR: Now, I wondered what 6:00 p.m. was, right? Because there is 6 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific, et cetera. Actually, one of our fellow co-hosts on “The Young Turks,” TYT now co-host Tina Dupuy interviewed him and asked him, and he said, no, no, no, it starts the minute, 6 p.m. anywhere in the world.
KASPARIAN: Right. So it‘s solely based on local time. OK, so, it‘s zone by zone basis.
UYGUR: So, it starts in American Samoa, apparently, and that will be actually at 11:00 tonight for the Pacific Coast. So you and I got to hurry up and grab those pies.
UYGUR: Because disaster is coming.
KASPARIAN: So, that‘s what we‘re planning on doing, right? But Harold Camping—Michael Smerconish had an interview with him and asked him what do you plan on doing on May 22nd, and here‘s his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, TALK SHOW HOST: Where do you expect to be on May the 22nd?
HAROLD CAMPING, FAMILY RADIO: On May 22nd, I expect to be in heaven, because the rapture occurs on May 21.
SMERCONISH: And those who don‘t accept or believe that which you‘re offering, where will they be on May the 22nd?
CAMPING: They will be in the second Day of Judgment that continues for five months and this whole world by that time will be a total shambles, there will be millions that have already been killed in the initial earthquake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KASPARIAN: You know, honestly, even if the rapture doesn‘t happen, there‘s a possibility that he would be in heaven anyway.
UYGUR: OK. Listen, we‘re laughing now. We‘re not going to be laughing when we‘re in shambles. That‘s a nice interview by Smerconish. All right. What else is going on?
KASPARIAN: Well, I also want to let you know how much money Family Radio makes. Between 2005 and 2009, Family Radio took in $80 million.
UYGUR: Oh, no. Come on, if didn‘t know that!
KASPARIAN: And they‘re currently worth $72 million.
UYGUR: Oh, what are you people doing? Stop it. Stop giving them money. Well, on the other hand you‘re not going to need it after tomorrow. All right. What‘s next?
KASPARIAN: All right. Tennessee Senate actually just passed a bill known as SB-49. And it‘s known as the “Don‘t Say Gay” bill. All right. And what they want to do is they want to prevent teachers from talking about homosexuality in the classrooms, they don‘t want teachers even use the word “gay.” Now, George Takei, the Star Trek actor has a good solution of his problem, OK.
UYGUR: All right. Well, I want to hear from Lieutenant Sulu.
KASPARIAN: He‘s found a loophole. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: Hi, I‘m George Takei. A bill recently approved by Tennessee Senate committee would prohibit teachers in that state from discussing homosexuality in the classroom. I‘m here to tell Tennessee and all LGB to you, and teachers who would be affected by this law, that I am here for you. Anytime you need to say the word “gay,” you can simply say Takei. For example, you could safely proclaim, you are a supporter of Takei marriage. Even homophobic slurs don‘t seem as hurtful as someone says, “that is so Takei.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Well, I love his idea there, Ana, but look, this is like the third or fourth story we‘ve done in a row where the conservatives are scared to death of the word “gay.”
KASPARIAN: I know, it‘s a dirty word for them.
UYGUR: But, it‘s not just a dirty word. They‘re also scared, it‘s a positive word. Remember, they warned us to use the words like, “same sex relationship,” et cetera, but don‘t use the word gay. Are they so afraid if they say it, they‘ll become gay?
KASPARIAN: I don‘t know. I don‘t know what goes through their minds. I mean, you‘ve got to keep in mind. Republicans think that you‘re not born gay, you just become gay, or you make a decision to become gay.
UYGUR: And you might become gay if you accidentally say the word gay. I get it now. That‘s brilliant. All right. Ana Kasparian, my Young Turks co-host, of course, you can catch her on TheYoungTurks.com, YouTube.com/TheYoungTurks, she‘s all over the place.
All right. Now when we come back, Republicans are having to defend giving $21 billion breaks to big oil. So, what do they do? They flat-out deny it. That‘s fantastic. I‘ll show you the tape.
UYGUR: Kind of expect the Rigged Game for you guys here at the show. Now, the Republicans have voted to keep the $4 billion in tax breaks we give to oil companies every year. Of course, they‘re going to have to deal with angry constituents. And their solution to calm them down, well, it‘s to simply lie. At a town hall this week, Arizona Congressman Ben Quail was asked why he was pushing for tax subsidies for the oil industry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why would the oil companies coming to defend their subsidies in front of the Senate? Those subsidies, anything in which we give them money, when they are making billions off of us every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think what you‘re talking about were actually tax deductions that corporations across all sorts of sectors take in terms of R&D. Those are the deductions they‘re talking about. It‘s not specific to the oil industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: First, I love that constituent. He was so educated.
Secondly, not specific to the oil industry? That‘s what Quail claimed. That‘s not remotely true. According to Think Progress earlier this year, Quail voted for tax subsidies that included special tax breaks only available to the oil and gas industry. Now, in other town hall this week, Minnesota Congressman Chip Cravaack didn‘t even bother to sugarcoat his answer, he straight up told anger crowd that oil companies are not really subsidized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you going to vote to take their subsidies decides away?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How much do we subsidize them?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That‘s one—they had a lower tax rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Again, not remotely true. You‘re going to love this. I‘m going to show you the name of the specific subsidies, and you tell me whether you think it applies to the oil companies or not. The expensing of intangible drilling costs, credit for enhanced oil recovery costs, and election to expense 50 percent of refinery costs. Gee, I wonder if those subsidies apply to oil companies, but it goes to show you, the Republicans can‘t defend these subsidies. So, once they‘re cornered, they just lie about it. But it gets worse. Majority Leader Eric Cantor actually went to go talk to a group of oil speculators, and thanked them for their help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC CANTOR, MAJORITY LEADER: I thank you very much for what civil group does. Thank you for your team, your management team, Terry and others who have been terrific in helping us, in Washington understand a very complex regulatory system we‘ve got, so that we can make sense of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: They are the largest derivative trading group involved in oil speculation. That‘s who he‘s talking to. Well, that‘s who the Republicans work for. That‘s why their majority leader just thanked them. You know what speculators led to, the price of gas going up approximately 75 cents a gallon for you and me, and the GOP loves it. All they care about is their donors. They don‘t care about us. That‘s why they go around thanking them and then lying about it to their constituents. Look. Go to their town halls and take them to task. I love it.
Thank you for watching, everybody. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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