Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday June 22, 2011
Read the transcript from the Wednesday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Bob Shrum, Mark McKinnon, Dennis Kucinich, Robert Greenwald, Wesley
Clark Jr., Ryan Grim, John Feehery, Van Jones
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Americans are saying it loud and clear: Bring them home! But they‘ll have to wait.
Tonight, the president lays out his pullout plan in Afghanistan. But will it go far enough? That‘s a very important question.
Al Gore also brings the heat. He unloads on President Obama over climate change. What‘s behind that attack? That‘s also very interesting.
Plus, Van Jones is rallying progressives to fight the right-wing smear campaign, and he is starting with Glenn Beck. Van Jones starts the fight right here tonight.
And she‘s done it again. Sarah Palin is quitting. This time, it‘s her bus tour.
What in the world happened to her this time?
All right. Welcome to the show, everybody. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Tonight‘s lead, in less than two hours, President Obama will speak about the future of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. It comes more than a year and a half after he announced his troop surge. But this evening he will be speaking about something entirely different, the drawdown of American forces.
There are three main ways that he can execute that drawdown. And this is very important. Let‘s go over it.
The smallest option would remove 10,000 troops this year. This is what the Pentagon wants and, coincidentally, it is also exactly what the defense contractors want. Longer wars make them a lot more money.
The second option would remove 20,000 troops by the end of 2011. That‘s the middle ground, which is what President Obama usually goes with, but he might not actually in this case.
And then in the biggest withdrawal scenario, the president would remove almost 50,000 troops. There, Joe Biden would win because he has apparently been the one pushing this plan, to his great credit.
Under the last scenario, our Afghanistan strategy would then focus on counterterrorism and would mainly utilize Special Ops forces and CIA units to root out al Qaeda and other terror groups.
Now, of course, other people who would win under those circumstances is us, the American people, because we spend less money on this senseless war and attack the problem with a much better solution. Now, that‘s not just me saying that. It is, in fact, the American people.
A new poll shows that 56 percent want American forces removed immediately. That‘s up 16 points from just last year. But right now, all reports out of Washington are suggesting that President Obama will go with the first option, the removal of just 10,000 troops this year.
Reports say the remaining 23,000 surge troops would be out by the end of next year, if we‘re lucky. And all troops would be home by 2014.
Apparently, under the president‘s plan, everything happens in 2014. That is a much slower withdrawal, which of course has got to make defense contractors and war hawks ecstatic.
And by the way, that withdrawal timeline only holds if Obama wins reelection. If a Republican wins, then all bets are off, and God knows how long we stay.
But these are just reports. You will get to see for yourself in just a little while which way the president is going to go. And based on the info here, you can judge for yourself if the president has does enough to withdraw us from this war or not.
All right. Now joining me is Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, senior advisor to John Kerry in 2004, and Mark McKinnon, “Daily Beast” contributor and co-founder of No Labels, and former adviser to George W. Bush.
Bob, let me start with you.
If you look at it politically, the president should say, up and at ‘em. Right? We‘ve got to go. Minimum, 20,000. I think it should be a lot more.
If the reports are true that it‘s only 10,000, why would he make what appears to be political mistake?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think a lot of people in the Pentagon were telling him he should only take out 5,000 troops.
UYGUR: Of course. They‘re telling him he should take out nothing because the defense contractors have got a lot more money to make.
SHRUM: Well, I don‘t think that‘s the reason, actually.
UYGUR: Oh, that‘s the reason.
SHRUM: In defense of those guys in the Pentagon, it‘s because they think it‘s the right strategy. But look, presidents—
UYGUR: They always—Bob, can I ask you something? When was the last time the Pentagon has thought that more war wasn‘t the right strategy? They always think more war is the right strategy.
SHRUM: Well, actually, Colin Powell had a great reluctance to get into armed conflicts unless you did it with overwhelming force.
UYGUR: But he did it anyway in Iraq and he did it anyway in Afghanistan.
SHRUM: Well, he himself has said that he wished that he had taken a different course in Iraq. I don‘t want to get into a political thing here about Iraq, but the president has shown the independence both to take on the Pentagon and dispense with their advice, and not to just follow polls.
He in fact defended his base from the very beginning by saying we had
whatever his position on the Iraq war, initially, we had to finish what we had started, and we had—and he then approved the surge in Afghanistan. Now, I think he‘s going to take out more troops sooner than the Pentagon wants, but slower than you want and slower than a lot of the base wants. And what this tells you is that he is not driven by politics here.
UYGUR: Yes, I don‘t believe that at all. I don‘t believe that at all.
Look, I think he is driven by being intimidated by the Pentagon, because they come in and say all right, you‘re going to take out almost nothing. And he goes, ooh, I‘m going to defy you guys and take out just a tad. If it‘s true—we‘re going to see for ourselves in the speech—if he takes out 20,000 or more at the end of this year, I give him all the credit in the world.
So we‘ll see. But if he takes out 10,000, that‘s minuscule. That‘s not standing up to the Pentagon.
Now, Mark, if you look at your party, the Republican Party, they don‘t look like they want to stay longer either. In 2010, we had vote with 138 people in Congress, in the House, saying we should speed up withdrawal, and only had seven Republicans on that side. This year, in 2011, all of a sudden, 204 in support and 26 Republicans.
Are Republicans getting the message from the American people we‘re not interested in staying in this God forsaken war?
MARK MCKINNON, CONTRIBUTOR, “THE DAILY BEAST”: Well, you know it‘s a political problem when you‘re get heat from your left and from the right, and you see candidates like Jon Huntsman taking a very aggressive position on the Republican side asking for a quicker withdrawal. But I agree with Bob, more is—with the exception of the Falklands, it‘s never easy, popular or quick.
And if it were just a political decision, I‘m sure Obama would have pulled out troops quicker, faster and earlier. But it‘s not—if you just do foreign interventions like these by the politics, then you‘re not really doing what you‘re supposed to do as president, which is to protect the country. And I can‘t make a military assessment, but I‘m going to give the president the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is making a decision for the right reasons in the interest of our national security.
Well, we‘re going to bring in somebody with a little different opinion here. We‘re going to do something a little different.
Guys, I want you to hang on. I want to come back and talk about the politics a little bit more. But I‘m going to bring in an interesting voice right now. I like these surprise guests.
He has been a consistent voice in this debate, and he has been on the side of taking the troops out. He is Democratic Representative from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich. Look at that, all of a sudden.
All right. Congressman Kucinich, how many troops should President Obama take out in 2011?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: All of them. This is—this idea of this being the beginning of the end of the war, they could slow-walk this war to the end of this decade.
The American people have had it with the war in Afghanistan. We don‘t have the money to keep this war going. Afghanistan is a narco-state. Our money that‘s going in there is being either wasted or stolen. It‘s time that we defended our troops by bringing them home and ending this war once and for all.
UYGUR: All right. Congressman, you know, we had everybody talking about this 33,000 surge that President Obama put in, in December of 2000, I made that decision. Right? But he had actually put in 20,000 troops earlier, right?
UYGUR: So if this speech is as expected, and he says I‘m going it take out 10,000 by the end of this year, and then 23,000 by the end of 2012, which is when his term is up, we‘ll have 20,000 more troops in Afghanistan than before President Obama.
So could he then credibly claim that he is helping us get out of Afghanistan?
KUCINICH: No. And I think what you are talking about, as far as the math, is not an academic exercise. We‘re actually going to still have more troops in Afghanistan than we had when he began his administration.
We have got to have an administration take a strong stand in getting out. You can‘t be in and out at the same time. You can‘t claim that it‘s the beginning of the end of the war, when you‘re still going to have more troops than when you first took office. The American people have priorities here at home that are not being met, and if we don‘t start paying attention to our domestic priorities, this country is going to have trouble surviving.
UYGUR: Now, Congressman, you know, I was just talking to Bob Shrum and Mark McKinnon, and they‘re saying look, the president is probably making an earnest decision about the safety of our country, et cetera. Now, that‘s, of course, a very legitimate position to have, a position a lot of people have. But as I look at this war for the last 10 years, how in the world could it be keeping us safer?
There is almost no al Qaeda left there. We killed Bin Laden. And the more troops we put in, the more of our troops get killed, the more unstable the country becomes. It‘s almost a case you cannot make.
So, then that leads me to the question of, is he being intimidated by the Pentagon?
KUCINICH: Well, I think that your dissertation (ph) as far as what isn‘t and cannot happen is correct. In addition to that, the nation-building programs have just failed.
So whether it‘s the president being intimidated by the Pentagon, or whether there is a political calculus in this, I think that the president needs to listen to the voices of the American people who want us out of Afghanistan. They want their sons and daughters home. They want us focusing on creating jobs, helping to protect our educational system, making sure that we have retirement security for our seniors.
These are things people care about—health care. It‘s time that we came home, and that‘s what I‘m going to continue to insist on.
I appreciate being with you. I‘ve got to go vote right now.
UYGUR: All right, Congressman Kucinich. Thanks so much for joining us. Go vote.
All right. Now let me bring Bob and Mark back in.
Look, Bob, I‘m going back to this theory, because you said it‘s not right, et cetera. But I want to have a conversation about it.
Nobody else in Washington talks about this, but the defense contractors make untold sums of money from these endless, ongoing wars. Are we to assume that the billions upon billions of dollars that they make don‘t affect the politicians that they fund?
SHRUM: I don‘t think President Obama is listening to these folks. And, in fact, if you look at what he‘s done, if you want to know what decisions he‘s going to make, listen to him.
He said he was going to get all the combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this year. He did. He said he was going to stick with health reform when everybody told him not to. He did.
He says he‘s going to end the commitment in Afghanistan by 2014. He will. And in fact, “The New York Times” reports in its latest edition online that the Pentagon is unhappy with the decision the president‘s made because he is taking out more troops sooner than they would have wished.
So, no. Cenk, I agree with you most of the time, but I don‘t agree with this theory that some how or other, a military industrial complex is telling Obama what to do.
UYGUR: OK. Let me clarify, OK? Because I don‘t want the audience to get a mistaken impression, all right?
I don‘t think the Pentagon—or the military industrial complex, in smoke-filled room, pulls President Obama aside and says you‘d better do this. No, that‘s not how it works. But here is how it works, Bob and Mark.
It‘s that they give a tremendous amount of campaign donations to all the congressmen, to all the senators, to the president‘s running. And most importantly, to all those generals. As soon as they step out of office, they get a big fat contract from military contractors.
And then you tell me that they are all independent-thinking, that all that money they‘re going to make, hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars they‘re going to make from those defense contractors, don‘t influence their decisions, Mark?
MCKINNON: No, they really don‘t. I give credit to both President Obama and President Bush. I think, you know—and President Bush didn‘t go to war because of—you know, for profit or for oil, for military contracts.
You know, he did it in a—for the same reasons that President Obama is making the same decisions. At the end of the day, his job is to keep this country safe, and that‘s what he is basing his decisions on.
UYGUR: Mark, last thing for you. Look, Republicans are in a civil war over this. So many are starting to pull the chute.
But John McCain, of course, war hawk that he is and always will be, says, no, we‘ve got to stay there. I guess he is saying we have to stay there forever. I‘ve never heard him talk about withdrawal ever in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Who, ultimately, do you think wins that fight in the Republican Party?
MCKINNON: Well, it will be interesting to see, although I would just note that, as John McCain has said on many occasions, we still have troops in Korea and Germany. So—
UYGUR: That‘s great. We should stay forever.
MCKINNON: Well, if it‘s to protect our national interest, I think that we‘ll have troops in Afghanistan for a long time and Iraq for a long time, just as we do in Germany and Korea. A limited force, but one that protects our national interest.
UYGUR: I have yet to see one decent argument how this war in Afghanistan, 10 years later, is somehow protecting our national interest. I don‘t see it at all. Look, I was in favor of going to war in the first place.
MCKINNON: Well, Cenk—
UYGUR: This time, it‘s a joke. It‘s crazy.
SHRUM: Cenk, if you do what Congressman Kucinich said, and you pull everybody out right now, you are going to totally destabilize not just Afghanistan, where, by the way, we have made progress. You‘re going to destabilize Pakistan and India and the relationship between those two countries and threaten to bring on a nuclear war. So you can‘t just—
UYGUR: Oh, come on, Bob. Nuclear war? Now we‘re talking about nuclear war? Now we‘ve got a mushroom cloud?
SHRUM: There are nuclear arsenals in Pakistan that are not very safe. We have a situation there where the Pakistanis are afraid that the Indians are playing around in Afghanistan. The U.S. has to do this, get out of there, in a way that is gradual and careful and preserves stability.
UYGUR: 2012 is plenty of time.
SHRUM: That‘s what the president is doing. And by the way, I don‘t want to sound like a conservative. I want to sound like an American.
I give a lot of credit to these generals. I think they are patriotic. I also think they are sometime wrong. And I think they probably asked for more than the president is going to give them, but that‘s the job of the president.
UYGUR: All right.
SHRUM: They recommend, he decides.
UYGUR: All right.
Bob Shrum and Mark McKinnon, certainly an interesting conversation.
You guys have been very patient. Thank you both for joining me tonight.
SHRUM: Thank you.
MCKINNON: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, you think I‘m on fire? Al Gore is on fire. He unloads on Obama on everything from stimulus to caving to big oil. Why is he so upset with this president?
Plus, the next target. Republicans are pushing a reckless and radical plan to change Social Security. Of course. And of course it‘s all based on lies, but now someone is fighting back.
A progressive group shows exactly how all these people in D.C. are bought off. That‘s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: To once again do what FDR did so well and do what every Democratic president did so well in those years, and that is to talk about strengthening Social Security, not privatizing Social Security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That‘s Congressman Xavier Becerra standing up against the Republicans and their ongoing war on Social Security. It‘s a pleasure to see at least some Democratic fighting to protect our seniors.
Republicans, of course, have been champing at the bit to dismantle Social Security. Just this year, they proposed legislation to raise the retirement age, privatize Social Security, and cut benefits. They‘ve even argued to cut benefits and use the extra money to pay off the debt.
Now, let me be clear. Social Security hasn‘t contributed one dime to the debt. In fact, it has a $2.5 trillion surplus.
Now, anyone who tells you otherwise is a flat-out liar. But, of course, they are banking that you don‘t know that, which is why they are pushing for Social Security cuts to be part of those debt ceiling negotiations.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said just last night, “I don‘t think we can wait. And I do think it should be part of the overall debate on raising the debt limit.”
Now, that‘s an absurd idea, but it turns out Hutchison and her Republican colleagues are getting paid by the Koch brothers to push this nonsense. Check out this excellent clip explaining how from Brave New Films.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: What the Koch brothers want to do is destroy Social Security because Social Security is a federal government program that has been enormously successful. The Koch brothers are funding think tanks and other organizations which are spreading an enormous amount of this disinformation about Social Security. They are very, very good in getting on television.
ANDREW BIGGS, CATO INSTITUTE: -- raising the retirement age.
VERONIQUE DE RUGY, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I would increase the retirement age.
JOSE PINERA, CATO INSTITUTE: You would probably have to increase the retirement age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real risk is Social Security running out of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security going bankrupt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Social Security already bankrupt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security is going bankrupt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the idea of personal accounts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The option of investing one-third of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts.
SANDERS: The Koch brothers‘ job is to do everything they can do dismember government in general. And if you can destroy Social Security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That was of course narrated by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Now, understand, if they privatize Social Security, Wall Street makes more money at your expense. If they cut your benefits, then they can give more tax breaks to the very rich like the Koch brothers.
Don‘t let anyone, Republican or Democrat, touch your Social Security. You paid into it your whole life. Raising the retirement age is an enormous cut to your benefits. You should throw every bum who suggests that right out of office.
That‘s my opinion. Let‘s get somebody else in here. Actually, in fact, the person who called them out in the first place, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. He‘s behind that clip you just saw there.
Robert, that was excellent because it showed exactly where the money is coming from and exactly where it‘s going.
So, first, break it down for me. Tell me about the think tanks, the media and the politicians. How do they work in coordination to push out this message?
ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS: Well, it took us several months of research at Brave New Foundation to find all of these clips, Cenk. But what Jeff (ph) and Joseph and Layla (ph) did was, they really showed us how an echo chamber works.
I mean, we can talk about a conservative right-wing echo chamber all day long, but when you see in the video, it starts with ideas at a think tank which they fund, then it goes to pundits who they fund, then it goes to activists who they fund, and then the exact same words come out of elected officials‘ mouths, it‘s quite brilliant and it‘s quite strategic in terms of their funding and organizing right across the spectrum.
UYGUR: All right. I actually want to show the audience a couple of graphs that really show what you‘re talking about.
For example, when you go to the Koch brothers campaign donations, you see that they have given just in 2010, $2.6 million to campaigns. And that‘s the tip of the iceberg. They say they‘re going to raise 88 million for the 2012 elections.
And then when you go to the think tanks that they fund, look at all this money. They gave $13.6 million to Cato Institute, $9 million, $3.4 million, $2.4 million to all the other institutes you see there. Overall, $28.4 million.
And then these guys come out and pretend like, golly gee willikers, they did some research, and these are the independent ideas that they happen to have. And then, golly gee willikers, Fox News seems to love those ideas and pushes them out as well. And so do all the people who got the money from the Koch brothers and our politicians.
So you see all of that machine. And you guys laid it out brilliantly.
The problem is, well, who is on the other side? Right? Are the Democrats on the other side fighting back enough, in your opinion?
GREENWALD: No. Well, nobody is fighting back nearly enough, because you just said it before.
This is a profound moral issue. It affects millions of people in our country. And they are trying to hide it, the Koch-funded echo chamber, with their think tanks, with their studies.
For some reason, people in Washington have gotten caught up in some of this thinking like they have on the war, of course. But in this case, we need to be very clear that it is money that people have worked for. It is money they have earned. And it is being taken away from them on a hypothetical idea, while, at the same time, millionaires and billionaires like the Koch brothers get more and more tax deductions.
UYGUR: Now, I want to show you a clip of Kay Bailey Hutchison. She was just on “HARDBALL” pushing the same talking points. Let‘s watch it first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS: I think that people realize that if we don‘t do something, we‘re going have drastic cuts and big tax increases, and people really don‘t want that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, one, is that true? And two, what are the different talking points that they push out, Robert? What are they trying to get the country to believe?
GREENWALD: Well, they are trying to get the country to believe that we‘re bankrupt. And again, as you said before, it‘s a total lie, it‘s a distortion. And the notion that maybe 25 years from today, possibly, there might be a problem—I mean, we know how unpredictable the economy is, so it doesn‘t make any sense unless you go to motive.
And the motive is to destroy another important government program.
And the Kochs have put phenomenal resources into that.
And again, they are very smart about where they invest and how they invest. And they don‘t just put all their money in a few ads for politicians.
In fact, there was a great line in Jane Mayer‘s article about the Kochs. They said politicians read from a script. They want to write the script. And by funding ideas and by funding activists and by funding pundits, that‘s really what they are doing.
They‘re controlling the dialogue. They‘re controlling the conversation. And I can‘t stress strongly enough how important it is that we understand it and that we take action to reply to it.
UYGUR: All right.
Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, who is definitely taking action.
We really appreciate your time tonight.
GREENWALD: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, when we come back, Jim DeMint leads the charge to kill an agency that he admits creates jobs. Why? Because he wants to make sure the president loses.
We will rip into his hideous hypocrisy, next.
Plus, Sarah Palin quits again. Her PAC-funded family vacation seems to be over. No one can find her bus. So where in the world did she go? We‘ll try to figure it out.
And Van Jones tells us how he is fighting back against the Fox smear campaign. He‘s going to join us live.
Stay with us.
UYGUR: Republicans say they want the economy back on track, but instead they work to end a proven jobs program. That‘s our “Con Job of the Day.”
Senate Republicans and four Democrats blocked a vote to reauthorize the Economic Development Administration, an agency that gives grants to local projects. The EDA estimates created more than 161,000 jobs just since 2009. But that‘s not good enough for South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint who led the charge against the agency. In a Wall Street Journal Op-ed DeMint wrote, quote, “The bureau and its grants are supposed to promote economic competitiveness and create jobs. In reality, the EDA has given taxpayers little in return on their investment and instead become a slush fund for the well connected.”
Of course, that‘s not what Jim DeMint was saying a short time ago. He admits he‘s always supports as a media grants, and still hasn‘t notice about a workshop run by the EDA on his own Web site. Gee, I wonder why DeMint switched his position now. Could it be that all he wants to do, no matter what, is to oppose every single thing the president proposes? Plus, there‘s the additional benefit of causing higher unemployment and then blaming that on the president. And DeMint isn‘t the only flip-flopper, Senator Barbara Boxer points out that 27 Republicans are on the record saying the agency created jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: EDA is a proven success. I think it is constructive that no one on the other side is speaking out against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But even after Boxer‘s speech, every single Senate republican voted to block the bill. There is a simple explanation for why they don‘t want to put people back to work because the higher unemployment rate is, the easier it is to beat an incumbent president. They‘re grotesque hypocrisy and weaselly flip-flopping on the EDA, is our con job of the day.
UYGUR: Welcome back to the show, everybody. Now we‘re going to discuss of course some of today‘s biggest political stories. And the way we will do that is by doing it on the Power Panel.
Joining me is one of my Young Turks co-hosts Wesley Clark Jr. Also with us, senior congressional correspondent of “The Huffington Post,” Ryan Grim. And last but not least, republican strategist, John Feehery. Good to have all of you here. Lots of great questions today on the panel.
First question is, is this the warhawks last stand? Yesterday on the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin criticized the cost of the Afghan war and was immediately scolded by Senator John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We can no longer in good conscience cut services and programs at home, raise taxes or this is very, very important, lift the debt ceiling in order to fund nation building in Afghanistan.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I feel compelled to respond to the statements by the senator from West Virginia which characterized the isolationist withdraw, lack of knowledge of history, attitude. I view the senator from West Virginia‘s remarks as at least uninformed about history and strategy and the challenges we face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Here is what‘s misinformed. Think you could win a war in Afghanistan if you just spend enough money and time on it. Here is the number of times that it worked in history. Zero. Wes, you see McCain winning that argument here. Is he still winning? And what in the world he‘s talking about winning in Afghanistan.
WESLEY CLARK JR., “THE YOUNG TURKS”: Well, I think it is a bad argument. First of all, if you actually understand history and he is accusing his, you know, detractors of not getting strategy. U.S. strategy pretty much the last hundred years has been to prevent a single power from controlling the—land mass. Our being in Afghanistan make no difference in terms of that strategy since there is no single power that‘s about to take it over. All we are doing is we‘re trying to change people‘s minds and their culture and the way they live their daily lives by dropping bombs on them. And that hasn‘t worked anywhere in human history.
UYGUR: Ryan, I‘m trying to understand who think is actually working, right? We had this debate in the first segment, I‘ve had this debate for, you know, a long time now. And initially, I was in favor of the Afghanistan war because initially al Qaeda was there. Now, they are not there. Who thinks Afghanistan is working?
RYAN GRIM, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: Certainly not the American people, I mean, they are done with this war. And if you want to talk about history, Afghanistan is a country that has something that‘s called a fighting season. How long can you maintain a war in a country that has a fighting season? That‘s not the kind of place where you can be able to send 30, 50, 200 or even half a million troops and quell it. It‘s not even really a country. And apparently, it only took the American people a handful of years to get there. Our political class isn‘t quite there but now that the American people are finally all the way there and saying enough with this. It is eventually going to turn around and tonight is probably, you know, the signal that is at least, that is the beginning of the end.
UYGUR: John, a lot of people in the Republican Party are beginning to pull out if you will, support for this war. How long can the Republican Party as a whole maintain this support for an incredibly unpopular war at this point?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, clearly, this is a jump the shark moment here for the Afghan war. People back home are tired of it. That being said, I think John McCain, for him, it is visceral because he remembers what happens when we pulled out to quickly in Vietnam. Complete collapse in Vietnam and, you know, real damage to people there, where really suicide, or genocide almost, in Vietnam. So, I think for McCain, he remembers this very deeply and he doesn‘t want us to have a precipitous withdraw because that could cause major problems, major vacuum in the region, and could really destabilize the entire region. So, the worry is extraordinary unpopular but if we do leave, we need to leave in an orderly fashion. And that could take some time.
UYGUR: Yes. By the way, can I just clarify that nobody is saying, let‘s panic and pullout all the troops tomorrow.
FEEHERY: Well, I think, that‘s when he said that, didn‘t he?
UYGUR: No, no, no, he said let‘s live by the—I think that‘s too early. I would find a reasonable way to get out by 2012. Wes, isn‘t this already the longest war we‘ve ever had. Do you think we stayed in Vietnam too short a period and that informs our decision to stay in Afghanistan longer?
CLARK: No, look, in my opinion, if we can get everybody out tomorrow, I think they should get out tomorrow. I‘ve got children, you‘ve got children. Would you be willing to give your sons arms and legs so girls can go to school in Afghanistan? I wouldn‘t.
UYGUR: That‘s tough, that‘s strong. I mean, look, I think that‘s a bold argument to make. I feel for those kids. But I don‘t think we are helping those kids, right? And it‘s not a matter of, John to your point, to say like, hey, let‘s stay longer and longer, is a matter of how quickly can we get out in a reasonable way. And it is not reasonable to say 2014. It is not reasonable to say the earliest we can get out is 2014, 2014 is a three long years. We can get out a lot quicker than that. You know, that‘s what the American people want.
FEEHERY: We are in this interesting situation where Republicans are actually probably defending the president‘s position much more so than a lot of Democrats. So, you know, I think we do have to have a discussion. I would say that president‘s got up in his speech, he should have before the speech should have kind of brought in all his generals and them help explain why they were there. Because, you know, there‘s no question that this war is getting more and more unpopular and it is costing a lot of money which causes pressure on members of Congress. So there is no doubt that he‘s going to do a good job explaining tonight why we should stay there.
UYGUR: All right.
CLARK: Can I say something, Cenk?
UYGUR: Real quick, Wes.
CLARK: Generals are always going to stay, stay there. Because nobody wants to be the general to make the decision to pull out and feel that they lost. So, I think it should be a political decision, period.
UYGUR: All right. I hear you. Good point. Next question. Why is President Obama getting gored? Al Gore slammed President Obama on climate change in an essay he wrote for Rolling Stone, quote, “President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. He has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has not defended the Science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor, has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community to bring the reality of the Science before the public.” Wes, is Al Gore right?
CLARK: As you know, I spent three years putting up wind turbines across the Midwest. President Obama has done zero for the environment. And it is really shameful. Because it is the most important issue facing our country today.
UYGUR: All right. Ryan, that‘s a tough assessment by both Wes and Gore. Is that fair?
GRIM: I think he‘s done a little bit more than zero. But I do think that when people look back at this administration, 20, 30, 40 years from now, they might see his failure to deal with climate change as the most significant failure of his administration. Because we lost the Clinton/Gore years for whatever reason. I guess the country wasn‘t ready to go for it or they were still dominated by oil interest. People weren‘t buying it. We lost the Bush years for obvious reasons. Then we finally had an opportunity to turn this around before it became too late. It‘s getting to the point where it might already be too late because of all the different feedbacks mechanisms that kick in. And we don‘t really know how fast this can spiral out of control. So you know, people are going to say, well, you know, the economy was struggling. This isn‘t the time to do it. The economy is also going to be struggling when the water level rises by three to six feet over the next hundred years. I mean, that‘s not going to be good either.
UYGUR: All right. John, I want to give you a chance to respond to all of that. Let me read you one more tough Gore quote though to give you the context. He said, “During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who had aggressively tackle the climate crisis and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen change from how do we complete this historic breakthrough to how can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?”
Now, if I told you that Al Gore was going to say that about the democratic president three years in. Would you have been static?
FEEHERY: Well, you know, I‘m kind of enjoying this democrat on democrat violence, it is kind of enjoyable for me. But, you know, I would say that, on the conservative side, I think the business community thinks that the Obama EPA has gone overboard in his regulations and actually stifled economic growth. And I would also say to defend the president, which I don‘t like to do, believe me, you know, he‘s not going to go out there and push Al Gore‘s policies by pushing gas up to $6 a gallon which is what Al Gore wants. You know, that‘s not going to be politically sustainable. So, you know, there is a sense of political reality that the president has to deal with. And then far be it to me to be his supporter because I‘m not. But, you know, I think Gore is from the loony left and that‘s where he is coming from.
GRIM: Cenk, you know, what Gore is saying is that you create your political realities. If you go back to early 2009 when the economy was finally out of control and the American people were behind a big stimulus. They were behind something new deals that you know, let‘s rebuild this country. That moment, that feeling could have possibly been captured and then turned into some type of aggressive, let‘s go green. Let‘s go with clean energy here.
UYGUR: Guys, I got to move on to the last topic. We are running out of time. But I just want to make a point that Ryan just said one of the truest things ever said on this show. All right. Final topic to the panel. Has Sarah Palin run out of guess? Just real quick. Where the hell is her campaign? Why did she take a so-called extended hiatus from a bus tour? John, you first. What‘s going on with this woman?
FEEHERY: Michele Bachmann, she‘s taking all of the thunder from Sarah Palin. And I think that Michele Bachmann is the person that Sarah Palin‘s supporters are going to get quack to.
UYGUR: Ryan, did she just really quit in the middle of the bus tour?
What happens to the tour in Iowa and South Carolina?
GRIM: Sarah Palin quitting early. No. This is a huge surprise but Michele Bachmann ended—this is what you need to know about Michele Bachmann, she ended the 2010 midterm elections when her party was poised, you know, for these historic gains with more than $10 million in the bank. In other words, she had $10 million that she could have shared with her colleagues to help push him to even bigger games. She kept it for herself. Obviously, she wasn‘t going anywhere with her fake leadership bid the she makes shortly after that. After she was so stingy with her colleagues. Now, she has that $10 million. She is running for president.
UYGUR: All right. We got to leave it right there. And I know what Wes thinks about Sarah Palin.
CLARK: Yes, you do.
UYGUR: Thank you everybody for joining us on the great Power Panel.
We‘ll be right—oh, no, here, let me tell you real quick actually. Everybody, Van Jones is coming back with us. And he is ready to fight FOX News and everybody else that stands in his way. Come right back.
UYGUR: We‘re talking a little bit about republican governors, selling out for campaign donations. Shocking right. And Van Jones will be with us to tell us about his fight with Glenn Beck FOX News and how he wants progressives to fight back for more important causes. That‘s all coming up.
UYGUR: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Can I just say it now? All right. OK. Think Progress is reporting Corbett is short-changing his constituents in order to help the natural gas industry. When it came down to fix his state‘s $4 billion budget gap, Corbett initially said everything was on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TOM CORBETT, PENNSYLVANIA: The recession does not have a political party. And just as a recession knows no political creed, the solution must be all embracive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But just the few months later, will you look at that, he is changing his tune. Now, Corbett is refusing to sign any plan that raises taxes on natural gas companies. Instead, he proposed cutting $1 billion from the education budget. So let‘s recap. No taxes for natural gas. A billion in cuts for schools. Why would he do that? Well, let‘s take a look at his campaign donations. The National Gas Industry gave nearly $1.5 million to his campaigns for governor and state attorney general. Oh, so he got money from natural gas when he was running for office. And then, once he was governor, he made sure to protect natural gas. Everyone say it with me now, of course.
UYGUR: Now to man who has seen firsthand what kind of damage the extreme right wing can cause, and is now taking some bold action in response. You may recall that Van Jones was an advisor in the Obama White House in 2009, when a smear campaign led by Glenn Beck and others at FOX News cost him his job. Well, Jones is fighting back now, both against the personal attacks he‘s still getting, and against the conservative agenda that put tax cuts for the rich first and jobs for everyone else second. Jones lawyers have sent a cease and desist letter to FOX News demanding an end to what the legends are false attacks about Jones including claims that he‘s spent time in jail and that he supports cop killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: He just spent some time in jail, he‘s arrested.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: A guy like Van Jones who is a friend to the president, right? And he comes in and he is a hard core mark.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”: This isn‘t about a communist on top of everything else.
BECK: He‘s as radical revolutionary communist that doesn‘t like cops and a 9/11 Truther.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Jones is also challenging Glenn Beck to a debate. That would be fun. But Beck has declined in the process. Once again resorting to character assassination. Saying Jones is not honest, so funny joke coming from Beck. And of course, Beck continues to call Jones a communist to this debt. Meantime, Jones has a much bigger project in the works as well. And the Netroots conference, he called up progressives to rise up together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, PRESIDENT, “REBUILD THE DREAM”: We have dream killers who have a wrecking ball agenda for our country. A wrecking ball for America. But they painted that wrecking ball, red, white and blue. And they think that we‘ll going to stand here and salute their red, white and blue wrecking ball, they got another thought coming. It‘s time for the deep patriots to stand up to the cheap patriots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: That brought the House down at Netroots. And tomorrow, Jones is teaming up with the folks at Moveon.org to launch a “Rebuild the Dream” campaign with an event in New York City. The message, we don‘t need spending cuts. We need jobs. Thank God somebody is saying it.
With me now is the man himself, Van Jones, president and co-founder of Rebuildthedream.com.
All right. Van, first, let‘s get this out of the way. What are the different lies that FOX News and Glenn Beck continues to say about.
JONES: Well, I mean, there‘s no point, the list would be too long. And you know, you and I had a disagreement. I tried to be a turn the other cheek guy about this whole thing. But you know, the human body only has four cheeks. I ran out of cheeks to turn. And finally, I had to say, look, I want to have a serious discussion with the American people about how we can get jobs going again. And I can‘t have that discussion if somebody is going to be screaming false hoods out into the public square. You know, we have some serious problems, and I‘m glad that the president may be bringing some troops home but, you know, what are they coming home to? Joblessness, hopelessness, allegedly now 17 suicide attempts a day for our young veterans.
We are a better country than that. And we have got to be able to have a balanced approach to our budget problems. And we have a family with the budget problem, you don‘t want to say, well, let‘s just starve grandma. No. You might cut back on nonessentials. But then Junior goes out and gets a paper route. You increase the revenues. We‘ve got to be able to put tax increases on the table, especially for the wealthy, so that we can continue to have a country with a middle class and with a government that can function. Washington, D.C., is in for a major wake-up call. They are so far out on this war in austerity agenda, the American people want peace and prosperity, not war and austerity. And what you‘re going to see starting tomorrow is a birth of a new movement, the American dream movement to defend the American dream.
UYGUR: All right. Van, you know, you mentioned that we had a disagreement. I‘ve always been in favor of fighting back. OK. So now, look, when you came out of the White House first, you know, you came in being very polite et cetera, et cetera. What made you change your mind on this? And why did you hold back, back then?
JONES: Well, you know, first of all, you‘ve got to remember, you know, I resigned from the White House because I felt that, you know, the right wing was going to use all my colorful past and try to, you know, distract the president from getting doctors to babies. Which was, you know, we had a president finally try to do something about health care I said, much more important for the president to focus on America‘s future than my colorful past. But two years later, you know, these folks, they are like stalkers, they just won‘t let it go. So my position is, they can say whatever they want to about me for a while, then they crossed a line. And they attacked the American dream itself.
Glenn Beck said, the American dream is just—is a burst of conspiracy. And this new movement that is emerging to stand up for jobs and say, you know, Wall Street‘s got it back down and treat the American people with some respect, this American dream movement represents the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people, who are working hard to put meals on the table and who are scared in this country who deserves better. To attack that movement, I said this guy has gone a bridge too far. We got to draw a line in the sand. We got serious problems in this country. We got to have serious solutions. Let‘s stop the smears. So, I said stop smearing me. Let‘s have a real debate. And of course the guy runs behind a door when it‘s time to talk about having a real debate.
UYGUR: Of course. Now, real quick, Van, let me give you a number here. When you ask the American people what‘s the most important, 42 percent say unemployment and jobs. Only 17 percent say government spending. Who looks at that chart and goes, yes, let‘s focus on government spending in federal deficit instead of jobs? Why are the Democrats going in a wrong direction here on their emphasis? Real quick here, 20 seconds.
JONES: Well, I‘ll tell you why. Because the American people have not stood up loudly enough. We have a small number of cheap patriots that are screaming for cuts, cuts, cuts. But the deep patriots haven‘t stood up yet for the American dream. That‘s going to happen tomorrow starting Thursday, Rebuildthedream.com, 8:15 p.m. East Coast time. Check it out. A new movement will be born and it will include the roots.
UYGUR: All right, Van Jones, president and co-founder of “Rebuild the Dream.” Thank you for joining us.
JONES: Glad to be here.
UYGUR: All right, everybody. That‘s our show for tonight. Even check me out on TheYoung Turks.com and “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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