'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday
Guest Host: Chris Hayes
Guests: Eugene Robinson, David Frum, Rep. James Clyburn, Terri Hall, Glenn Greenwald
CHRIS HAYES, GUEST HOST: I‘m Chris Hayes, in for Lawrence O‘Donnell.
I never thought I‘d see the day when the Republican Party managed to alienate the Washington establishment. But it looks like we‘ve reached that point.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: MSNBC has now confirmed that the verdict will be read in the courtroom at 2:15.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As for the charge of first-degree murder, verdict as to count one, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the law, the concept of not guilty is not the same as innocent.
HAYES (voice-over): As the Casey Anthony verdict distracted the nation, the president focused on the debt.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don‘t think the American people here—sent us here to avoid tough problems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re not expecting the president to talk about Casey Anthony.
OBAMA: We need to find trillions in savings.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: The Obama administration is reportedly considering tens of billions of dollars in cuts.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: He‘s probably going to give away a lot more.
OBAMA: We need a balanced approach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went on a dove right here. I‘d love to see him shooting some birds.
HAYES: Before the president could speak, Senate Republicans tried to steal the spotlight.
OBAMA: That‘s, in fact, what drives them nuts.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: I would just say how much I appreciate the new member of the Senate, Senator Kelly Ayotte.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE ®, NEW HAMPSHIRE: I would like to introduce Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS: I want to introduce Bob Corker.
SEN. BOB CORKER ®, TENNESSEE: You don‘t go off on some tangent that is totally unrelated to the issue at hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who‘s going to make the best political play out of this?
HAYES: But are Republicans willing to compromise?
MITCHELL: Republicans have not been willing to agree to any revenues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost every House and Senate Republican who signed that pledge not to raise taxes.
SEN. RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY: We will filibuster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of Congress in the House, more than anything else, want to be reelected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess who makes look reasonable and rational, the president of the United States.
HAYES: Social conservatives aren‘t worried about taxes, they are worried about their candidates.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will stand, because we serve a faithful God.
RICK SANTORUM ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it‘s a big mistake for Governor Romney, for Governor Huntsman.
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There‘s a move afoot to try to blame, in particular, trying to blame George W. Bush.
JON HUNTSMAN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To make an informed decision and then come back to talk to us.
HAYES: Good evening from Washington.
Two week‘s notice, that‘s what President Obama gave congressional Republicans late today—two weeks to reach an agreement on deficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling to avoid what would likely be a catastrophic default. The president said he won‘t accept a short-term deal and invited Republican leaders to join his previously-scheduled meeting with Democrats on Thursday. He restated his worrying contention that this is an opportunity to, quote, “do something big to reduce the debt.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To get there, I believe we need a balanced approach. We need to take on spending in domestic programs, in defense programs, in entitlement programs, and we need to take on spending in the tax code—spending on certain tax breaks and deductions for the wealthiest of Americans.
This will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones, and both parties to agree on real compromise. It‘s my hope that everybody is going to leave their ultimatums at the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Leave their ultimatums at the door.
The president in those few sentences already showed he had left his ultimatum at the door by bringing up entitlement programs. The Democratic president seems willing to cut starting cutting a way at the core of America social insurance programs to appease a Republican Party whose stated position is that even altering the depreciation schedule for corporate jets by 24 months essentially amounts to Maoism.
A number of old guard Republicans have recently expressed their dismay at this distasteful extremism, men like Alan Greenspan and Alan Simpson, were probably shell shocked at the willingness to the current crop of Republican lawmakers to endanger the full faith and credit of the United States.
But none have done it quite as forcefully as conservative columnist and Beltway bellwether David Brooks, writing in the nation‘s most influential newspaper, “The New York Times,” Brooks said avoiding a debt default is, quote, “the mother of all no-brainers for the GOP.”
Quote, “The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the GOP is, a normal, conservative party or an odd protest movement that separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation. If reasonable Republicans don‘t take control, independents will conclude the Republican fanaticism caused this default. They conclude Republicans are not fit to govern, and they will be right.”
But it appears we don‘t need a few weeks to see which way the GOP will tilt. And a pretty good sense of it by this afternoon. Here‘s Texas Senator John Cornyn on with Andrea Mitchell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS: Mr. Brooks is not listening to the same
people I‘m listening to, or my constituents. And I don‘t think the message
that he got from the November election was the same message I got. It
seems disingenuous to say we‘re going to cut spending but then we‘re also
going to raise taxes. We‘re not for raising taxes through the front door
or through the back door. I would say it‘s premature to be declaring who -
you know, who‘s being reasonable and not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Here‘s House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan on a conservative radio show.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN: If you take a deal like that, you‘re necessarily requiring tax rates to be higher for everybody. You need to lower tax rates by going after tax loop holes. If you take away the tax loop holes without lowering tax rates, then you deny Congress the ability to lower everybody‘s tax rates, and you keep people‘s tax rates high. And you take the pressure off of Congress to cut spending. You keep government larger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: These are not cranks, I should note—the noisy voices of the fringe of the party who sit far, far away from policy.
Paul Ryan, of course, wrote the Republican budget. John Cornyn is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who voted multiple times without demands to raise the debt ceiling when President Bush was in the White House.
Mr. Brooks, this is your party, like it or not.
Joining me now: David Frum, the founder of FrumForum.com, and Eugene Robinson, columnist for “The Washington Post.”
David, you and I spoke in this very room a few months ago and at issue was the debt ceiling, which is coming down the road. And you were saying it was irresponsible of the White House to even imply that there would be a default, or to imply that Republicans would take it to the edge of default because it was just such a sure thing that this will be ironed out and the debt ceiling would be raised.
Are you still a believer in that?
DAVID FRUM, FRUMFORUM.COM: I am astounded that we have come to where we are. I mean, this is one of these August 1914 situations where we are heading towards a crisis of unimaginable proportions, people like me did not believe it would come to that, it couldn‘t. You could see what lies from the other side. And the behavior of the Republican Party through all this has been pretty shocking.
That said, it needs to be understood the president‘s own weakness has invited a lot of this problem. What he has done—the Republican Party is a collectivity. It doesn‘t have a single decision-maker when there isn‘t a president. The White House has unity.
His weakness has empowered the most radical people in the Republican Party, and disempowered people like John Cornyn, who are deal makers. Now, John Cornyn has to worry about primary challenges.
FRUM: And every time the president has retreated in the way that he has, he‘s proven John Cornyn‘s potentially primary challenger right. So, John—and every time that—you ask John Cornyn, OK, this is the best deal, this deal that I‘m offering you today, this is the best deal, there isn‘t a secret special price behind this special price, this is my best deal—you have to wonder what would my primary challenger discover if there was a better deal, what happens to me then?
HAYES: I think—despite my self, I kind of agree with that. What do you think?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with part of that actually. Look, I‘ve said many times that I thought the president has gone into many negotiations with too weak an opening bid. He‘s essentially said, OK, you can have three quarters of an eighth of what you want and we‘ll take a quarter of an eighth and let‘s start there. And that certainly emboldens the radicals on the Republican right.
However, I don‘t think you can blame the president entirely for the fact Republicans are looking over their shoulders at the Tea Party caucus and asking where‘s the energy, enthusiasm, money in our party, and that‘s where they see it.
HAYES: And let me push back on this also. In terms of this notion that the difference is the marginal difference between deal one and deal three is going to be the difference between a primary challenge and not—
I mean, I think it‘s clear what happened to Bob Bennett and what happened to others that did get primaried, and Mike Castle, that I don‘t know if the motivation for the primary, the cudgel that has been welded by the right wing of the party is going to may too much attention to the sort of careful details of this deal.
FRUM: No, it pays attention to the emotional quality. That‘s the secret --
HAYES: Right. That‘s right.
FRUM: -- that‘s one of the important secrets of the Republican Party. You can be quite moderate like Chris Christie, so long as you really pugnacious. You can be very conservative, like Bob Benet, but if you‘re a conservative deal maker, then you‘re a seller. It‘s both antic and style, and that‘s what these people have to worry about when they are in a room alone with the president.
HAYES: But I‘m going to push back on that, because there‘s a certain amount of ideological rigidity that‘s being enforced. If you want to talk about Christie or talk about anyone along the spectrum, right, the sort of central ideological principle, the Rubicon you cannot cross are taxes, revenue taxes, existential core of the entire edifice—of course, the whole thing comes down on our heads unless you pay for the government.
ROBINSON: Something like 235 Republicans in Congress have signed the pledge that essentially—no new taxes ever, no taxes ever.
FRUM: This is where—this is where the president is a player, and I‘m making no excuses for the people on the other side of the table, they have played badly. But the fact is he‘s agreed with the Republicans that the deficit is right now, at a time when unemployment is 10 percent, interest rates 1 percent, he has agreed with them.
HAYES: But do you think he‘s wrong about that?
FRUM: He‘s—and even I have a job, but I think he‘s wrong about that.
HAYES: But why do you—let me ask you this, David—why don‘t other people—why don‘t other conservatives not seem to think that? Now, you can be—there‘s two discussions you can have. You can have a discussion about the proper role of government, about revenues, whatever, there‘s another discussion we have about what the priority is.
And that‘s what seems so mismatched to me, which is that the conversation about the priorities right now for the deficits and not jobs.
ROBINSON: And not jobs, right. And every poll that‘s been taken since 2007 has said that the number one thing on America‘s minds is jobs. So, why is there—
HAYES: Why is there this mismatch?
FRUM: Because Republicans see the job discussion is a proxy for the role of government discussion. And if the president is willing to join them in moving away from something where, if we were to have a discussion about the future role of government over the 30 years right now, it would end to the left of where the discussion would have been maybe five years before or five years later. So, you want to avoid the discussion, and the president has gone along with it.
And that has been, I think, a big enabler of what is on our way to just unimaginable fiscal catastrophe.
Here‘s what I don‘t understand, and months ago, I was with you, and I said it was irresponsible to speculate. We‘re now so close, now is the time to speculate.
When Michele Bachmann says the president can prioritize, I don‘t know. I put my former speechwriter hat on, I‘ve been tempted to say where he would say, you know, that‘s a good idea.
FRUM: Here are things at the bottom of my listed priorities, Medicaid payments to the state of Texas—that comes last.
FRUM: All you defense contractors out there, especially the ones headquartered in Georgia, later, later. I‘ll be getting to you as soon as I can.
FRUM: What would Lyndon Johnson do in a situation like this? Not this.
HAYES: Right. Gene?
ROBINSON: No, that‘s true. It is time to play hardball. I think Democrats and progressives were heartened, I think, by the president‘s press conference last Wednesday when he essentially drew a line in the sand. It‘s unclear whether he moved that line or just kind of kept it where it was today. But, you know, we‘ll see. What‘s the ending game here.
HAYES: Well, but here‘s the end game. I mean, the end game—here‘s the end game and this is why, from the beginning, I‘ve been shocked with this sort of brinkmanship, because the end game is the fact that Goldman Sachs owns a lot of treasuries, as do a lot of foreign governments, as do a lot of Americans. People think in their heads somehow it‘s the Chinese sitting all these treasuries. No, you have treasuries in your 401(k) and are we really going to—is Wall Street going to tolerate running through the red light on this?
FRUM: A lot of the worst disasters happen without anybody intending to get to that point. Everybody believes that the—that you‘re going to be able to pull off the highway before you hit the traffic jam, and then you discover, you can‘t, except it‘s not a traffic jam, it‘s something unimaginably worse. And that is where, I think, the president really has disserved the country, his party—I hold no brief for his party. I mean, I would like to see this ultimate deal look more like the way the Republicans like it to work, but I would like to get there without massive default and institutional failure.
ROBINSON: Wow. Let‘s not go to massive default and institutional failure. Let‘s have some—I mean, the president has a fail safe of at least being able to claim that there‘s a constitutional mandate that he has to focus on debt.
FRUM: This is the worst thing he‘s doing yet, I‘m sorry, to be discussing this possibility.
ROBINSON: Well, he hasn‘t discussed it. He‘s been careful about it.
FRUM: Tim Geithner has. Do you know how they say about this thing about the game of chicken, you pull away the steering wheel. So, the president is basically bolting his steering wheel to the car.
HAYES: Right. But it‘s a commitment game. That‘s how you win chicken.
FRUM: He‘s saying to the Republicans, I want you al to know, that actually, if you press me and press me and press me, we don‘t default.
HAYES: You need on the other side of that catastrophe—catastrophe and that‘s default. All right.
FRUM: And what he said to them, you know, if you press me, press me, I give you grounds for an impeachment trial if you don‘t win the next election.
HAYES: David Frum, Gene Robinson, thank you so much for your conversation. We appreciate it.
We here at last word would like to help with the ongoing search for federal revenue. Where can we find tax revenue that would improve the economy yet not fall on the backs of the middle and working class? Well, here‘s one idea, financial transaction tax ranges from one-tenth of a penny to half of a penny on a transfer or sale of bonds, stocks, credit default swaps, any financial transaction like it. Wouldn‘t affect trades for retirement, health, or education savings or mutual funds accounts.
2008 study estimated by the Center for Economic Policy Research estimated it could conservatively raise about $100 billion a year—talking about $100 billion in an industry that conservatively handles $50 trillion of transactions a year. The industry arguably responsible—not really arguably responsible for the mess we‘re in.
See, it wasn‘t so hard, was it?
Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
With the debt ceiling debate looming in D.C., it‘s worth noting that this Congress has done less than any Congress in decades. Just how broken is the first branch? Congressman James Clyburn joins me next.
Plus, a prominent mix of evangelical Christians have made their picks for the 2012 race. One problem: he‘s not a candidate yet.
Is Texas Governor Rick Perry the religious rights‘ new crush? Ahead on THE LAST WORD.
HAYES: Coming up, the current Congress is shaping up to be the least productive since this guy was president. Congressman Jim Clyburn will be my guest.
And keeping up the do-nothing trend, the Senate did not vote on the Libya resolution today. Where that leaves in the continuing use of American firepower? Glenn Greenwald joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We need to come together over the next two weeks to reach a deal that reduces the deficit and upholds the full faith and credit of the United States government and the credit of the American people. This should not come down to the last second.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want you to take a look at these fine government buildings. First, the John M. Roll United States courthouse in Yuma, Arizona, named for the federal judge who was shot and killed in January outside the same grocery store in Tucson where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was almost fatally wounded.
This here is W. Craig Broadwater Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
And this one, the Specialist Jake Robert Velloza Post Office in Inverness, California.
What do all three of those buildings have in common? All three were named as a result of bills passed by the 112th Congress—a heavy feat considering 20 bills have come in law through the first half of this year. A majority of those bills were extensions of expiring laws, three of them appointed or reappointed officials to the board of the Smithsonian Institution.
So, those buildings count for a full 15 percent of this Congress‘ successful legislative activity. Not included is a bill to avoid default by raising the debt ceiling or a single, solitary, job‘s bill.
After just over a week of vacation, the House of Representatives will be back in session tomorrow to continue budget deficit talks. Critics, including President Obama, have chastised the House for its Republican-led two weeks on, one week off approach to congressional busyness.
But as “The Los Angeles Times” has put it, it‘s not necessarily time spent in Washington where this Congress is falling behind, it‘s how little it accomplishes when it‘s here. In fact, “The L.A. Times” and “Politico” both point out, the 112th Congress is on pace to be one of the least-productive congresses in more than 60 years.
Joining me now, the Democratic assistant leader in the House, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Congressman Clyburn, thanks so much for joining me.
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you so much for having me, Chris.
HAYES: The president announced today that he will be meeting with leaders from both parties, from both chambers of the White House Thursday. We‘re told Congresswoman Pelosi will be in attendance.
What do you think will take to get this deal done? It seems to me that the impasse has been clear for the last three months and nothing has budged in direction to actually getting it done.
CLYBURN: Well, I think a lot has been done. The fact of the matter is I am a member of the Biden group. I guess we still exist.
We, I believe, 85 percent there. We were about to have our very last meeting, or next to the last meeting, when Eric Cantor decided he would no longer participate. We did a lot. I‘m very proud of what we‘ve done.
And I think the vice president will tell you that we are about 85 percent to where we needed to be, and I think that the president now, working with the leaders of both houses, hopefully, Nancy Pelosi on the House side and Mr. Boehner, the speaker of the House, and maybe the minority majority leaders over on the Senate. We think they are in a good position to close this deal. So, we‘ve done a lot, but there is that tough 15 percent to 20 percent left on the table involving mostly revenue raises.
HAYES: Yes, let me ask you about that, Congressman. I‘m sorry—let me ask you about that, Congressman.
HAYES: Because let‘s say—let‘s say we strike a deal magically some sense comes into the Republicans, and we strike the deal as has been reported in the press, the one that is almost there, which looks something like the contours of which are 85 percent spending cuts, 15 percent on the revenue side, somewhere in that neighborhood.
Do you think it will hurt the economy at a time of 9 percent unemployment to take that level of federal spending out of the federal budget when we have the jobs problem we have now?
CLYBURN: Well, I think we need to do a jobs bill. You mentioned something that I‘m a big proponent of. I work with Chaka Fattah, the representative from Philadelphia, as well as Peter DeFazio on the transaction tax, in order to pay for infrastructure development, to create jobs.
So, I think that if we had something like a transaction tax to pay for that, we can have what we call on the Democratic side, a “Make It in America” jobs bill. So, we can do a jobs bill as well as the deficit and debt relief bill without any real serious harm being done to any process.
So, I‘m all for creating jobs. And so, I don‘t think you are going to threaten that with this process. Remember, revenue raises that we‘ve been talking about has got a lot to do with getting rid of loopholes, getting rid of all of these deductions that we‘ve been giving to big oil when they don‘t need the subsidies that they‘ve been getting, getting rid of corporate jet depreciation.
These kinds of things, we could do without bringing any harm to anybody, without raising anybody‘s tax rates one iota, and that‘s what we have been proposing, and I would hope that my Republican colleagues would really sit down and get serious about this.
What do we look like giving tax breaks to companies that continue to create jobs overseas? We want to give those tax breaks to companies that would create jobs here in our communities and so that people can get back to work, and it would not in any way bother people who are paying their taxes rather than those 38 percent of corporations who aren‘t paying any taxes at all.
HAYES: Those 38 percent being the sticking point here.
Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina—thank you so much for joining me tonight. I really appreciate it.
CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me.
HAYES: Coming up, the religious rights say they want Texas Governor Rick Perry to run for president. Texas says, take our governor, please.
And a planned vote on Libya is taken off the table, as Republicans threaten to vote no in a protest against the budget.
HAYES: Still ahead in this hour, Tony Perkins and other leaders of the Christian Conservative Movement want Texas Governor Rick Perry to be their presidential candidate in 2012. But not all Republicans from the Lone Star State feel that way. One of them joins me next.
And earlier today, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. What our selective attention to the machinery of American criminal justice hides from view. That‘s coming up.
HAYES: Leaders of the Christian conservative movement have apparently decided their best hope in the 2012 presidential contest will come from a candidate who has not yet declared he‘s even running. “Time Magazine” is reporting today Texas Governor Rick Perry is the new darling of right wing religious icons.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, David Barton, whose warped reading of U.S. history through religion has been documented on this program, and John Hagee, the pastor so controversial John McCain turned down his endorsement in 2008. “Time” reports that those three men think Perry has a better chance of the nomination than Rick Santorum, brings the religious fervor that Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney lack, and for reasons not quite clear, they seem to be ignoring Michele Bachmann‘s momentum.
Perhaps Perry‘s religious mega-rally set for next month has something to do with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: I sincerely hope you‘ll join me in Houston on August the 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people, asking God‘s forgiveness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Perry is no slam dunk candidate for Republicans to rally around, because while Perry brags about his state‘s new budget, the non-partisan Texas legislative study group says Perry used accounting tricks to hide an 18.3 billion dollar deficit, one that will hit schools and Medicaid recipients the hardest.
In order to close the massive shortfall without any new taxes, Perry resorted to some serious Enron-style accounting. For instance, the state delayed a 2.3 billion dollar payment to schools by one day, pushing the payment into the 2014 budget and off the books for the current one. The budget also predicts a flat increase in the number of school children in the state, even though Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the country.
And even more audacious, the legislators instructed the state‘s accountants to increase their projection of future property value increases so as to predict a full 800 million dollars in more property tax revenue. And that‘s just on the one budget.
As for Perry‘s so-called conservative social stance, let me bring in someone who is quite familiar with that. Joining me now is Terri Hall of the group Texans Uniting for Freedom—Reform and Freedom.
Terri, thanks so much for joining me tonight.
TERRI HALL, TEXANS UNITING FOR REFORM AND FREEDOM: Thanks, Chris.
It‘s good to be here.
HAYES: Terri, you and I have spoken before a number of times. And you describe yourself as a pro-life, Christian conservative. And based on what we‘ve been reading today and what‘s been reported, I would think that you would be squarely in the demographic that would be cheering on a Rick Perry presidential run.
But why is that not the case?
HALL: I absolutely am in that demographic. As a home school mom eight kids, social conservative, Christian conservative, I should be in his demographic and should be very much in support of Rick Perry as a candidate for president.
But we are absolutely not. And there‘s a whole lot of members in our ranks that aren‘t for the same reasons. This guy wants to toll and tax every single existing highway in the state of Texas. There‘s over 400 toll projects on existing roads that are being contemplated around our state right now.
He wants to sell off our infrastructure to foreign companies, which is a huge property rights boondoggle for our state. And so that‘s just the few things that have gotten us stirred up around our state. And we just feel like the more we push back on this governor, the more he throws it back in our faces.
In fact, that budget you were just talking about, well, the legislative session that just ended on May 30th, I believe, it was, actually has 15 Texas roads that are going to be sold off to these foreign companies. It‘s going to cost Texans 75 cents a mile to use those lanes that are owned by foreign companies. These are sweetheart deals.
And there‘s a lot of people who have contributed to his campaign. When you‘re governor of a state of Texas, this big, for ten years, you have a lot of campaign contributors to pay off. And he‘s done a whole lot for corporate America, but not very much for small business owners and for your average taxpayer here in Texas.
We pay some of the highest property taxes. We pay some of the highest home owners insurance rates. He passed the largest tax on businesses, the business margins tax. Some of the small businesses experienced a 400 percent increase in a single year.
So this is not a conservative. He may be a social conservative, but he‘s not a fiscal conservative. I think if we‘re going to have a presidential candidate that‘s a true conservative, you have to have both, not just social, but on fiscal issues as well.
HAYES: Terri, one of the things I thought was interesting, you started in activism fighting this mass road privatization project called the Tans-Texas Corridor. That‘s how you and I first met.
When we were speaking, you and I down outside San Antonio a few years back, you talked about this sort of—this kind of cronious streak to Rick Perry, that you felt what was really what was sort of uniting the opposition to him.
How has he run the state of Texas? In whose best interest has the state of Texas been run while Perry is governor?
HALL: I think it‘s fair to say that Rick Perry is truly a special interest governor. That‘s who he‘s serving. It‘s not we the people of Texas. You can trace it.
Look at the HPV Vaccine. A lot of people outside Texas even know about this, that he passed an executive order that was going to mandate an HPV vaccine for sexually transmitted disease for all 6th grade girls in Texas. He did it for a 6,000 dollar campaign check from the drug company, Merck.
That same lobbyist, Mike Toomey (ph), was the same lobbyist that used to work for Centra, that turned around, worked for Rick Perry at one time, and then got the Trans-Texas Corridor development rights granted to his former employer, Centra, the Spanish company, and then went back to work for Centra.
I mean, the revolving door is clear on a whole bunch of issues, not just on the Trans-Texas Corridor. That just happens to be the one that started our grassroots group. But he‘s definitely serving special interests. I mean, he‘s got more corporate welfare slush funds than I can even count, the Emerging Technology Fund, the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Film and TV Commission fund.
I mean, we have all kinds of money to increase Perry‘s corporate slush funds, but not enough money to fund government, as you were talking about in our—in your opening. Our budget was balanced on accounting tricks. Last budget—last two year budget was balanced on stimulus money.
So what does that tell you?
HAYES: Terri Hall of the groups Texans United For Reform and Freedom, thanks so much for being my guest tonight. Appreciate it.
HALL: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Earlier today, Harry Reid pulled a vote on Libya from the floor to allow the Senate to focus on the debt crisis. What does this say about the productivity of Congress? That‘s coming up.
And after Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her two year old daughter, Caylee, both the defense and prosecution criticized the media for their handling of the trial. That‘s later.
HAYES: Today, the Senate was scheduled to debate a resolution authorizing the limited use of U.S. armed forces in support of the NATO mission in Libya. But Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it from the floor just hours before the vote.
Bipartisan resolution sponsored by Senators John Kerry and John McCain would have expired when the NATO mission ended or after a year, whichever came first. It would have prohibited the use of American ground forces or private security contractors in Libya.
President Obama has claimed that U.S. actions in Libya do not require congressional approval. Republicans are divided on military operations in Libya. So they would much rather focus on something that units them, which is, of course, their total and undying opposition to raising revenue of any kind, even revenue to pay for the wars they‘ve supported, both explicitly and tacitly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER ®, TENNESSEE: There‘s no question that we need to return to the issue of Libya, because you cannot have somebody calling something not hostilities when it is. Let‘s settle this once and for all.
But I think the most important issue to our country, but also to our national security, is dealing with the debt ceiling, the debt, and the deficits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Glenn Greenwald, columnist for Salon.com.
Glenn, thanks so much for being here.
GLENN GREENWALD, SALON.COM: Great to be with you, Chris.
HAYES: So the fact the Senate wasn‘t even able to vote on authorizing the war in Libya, I wonder what you think it says about how dysfunctional the politics of this have become and our framework for waging war.
GREENWALD: Well, it‘s really quite extraordinary, because the Constitution says that Congress has to declare wars in order for them to be fought. The War Powers Resolution says that the president has the right, only under certain circumstances, when the nation has been attacked, to wage war for 60 days without Congress.
So what we clearly have is a war being waged by the Obama administration, as part of the NATO, that is plainly unconstitutional and plainly illegal. And so for Harry Reid to stand up and say well, we were going to have a vote in recognition of the illegality, but we just can‘t get the vote, so we‘re going to cancel the vote—you know, Barack Obama, in his stump speech, repeatedly said when he was running for president, no more ignoring the law when it‘s inconvenient; that‘s not who we are.
Yet this is a perfect example of doing exactly that.
HAYES: I want to get back to a quote from then-candidate Obama in 2007 on exactly that, but first I want you to walk us through—clearly, the White House‘s position—I should say, for full disclosure, my wife works in the White House Council‘s Office.
Clearly, the White House‘s position, right, is not that they are waging a plainly illegal war. What has been the sort of chronology of their legal theory of the case for why they are not waging an illegal war?
GREENWALD: Well, when the war started, they actually claimed that they were in compliance with the War Powers Resolution and didn‘t really claim that the War Power Resolution didn‘t apply. They said we have 60 days and there‘s no reason to get congressional approval.
Yet once 60 days elapsed and it was clear that they either had no interest in getting congressional approval or were unable to do so, their position changed. And they said because these aren‘t hostilities that are taking place in Libya—that‘s the word the law uses, that whenever the president deploys military force into hostilities, Congressional approval is required.
The president‘s position—amazingly, it was rejected by his own attorney general, the general council of the Defense Department, and the chief of the Office of Legal Council within the Justice Department—but he nonetheless said that his view is that these are not hostilities, and therefore, Congressional authorization isn‘t required.
And yet, you know, you‘d look at not only his top aides, but the majority of the Democratic party in the House has rejected the position, basically laughed at it and mocked it. It‘s not a position that‘s even taken seriously by any legal scholars.
We‘re in Libya, dropping bombs. We‘re trying to kill that nation‘s leader. We‘re trying to destroy their military. If that‘s not hostilities, then nothing is.
HAYES: In a blog post, you quoted candidate Barack Obama‘s answer to the “Boston Globe” in late 2007 about whether the president has constitutional authority to bomb Iran at that point without seeking a use of force authorization from Congress.
And he replied then, “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stop an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
And now, this is very interesting. There is State Department Advisor Harold Koh testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding U.S. actions in Libya. He‘s responding to candidate Obama‘s statement from 2007. I want to play this for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HON. HAROLD KOH, STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISOR: I don‘t think that‘s legally correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Koh, I‘m not asking legally correct. Is this or is this not the president‘s position today?
KOH: I have not asked, but I would be very surprised if it‘s his position, because I do not believe it to be legally correct or shared by those in the administration who are legal experts on this issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not talking about that. I‘m talking about the president of the United States, is this or is this not his position today?
KOH: I don‘t know, senator, I haven‘t asked him that question. I do believe that the same rules apply to presidents of both parties. And I do believe that the general understanding of the constitutional structure would be that that is too limited statement for whoever is president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Glenn, Harold Koh, of course, was the head of Yale Law School before he went and became the top lawyer, basically, of the State Department. Seems to have switched quite a bit in terms of his posture towards the unilateral assertion of executive authority to wage war.
GREENWALD: This is what‘s so amazing about this, Chris, and what‘s so significant, is that statement that the president—that then candidate Obama made, that the president does not have the unilateral authority to involve the U.S. in military attacks without Congress wasn‘t just some off the cuff remarks. It was a statement that he prepared as part of a questionnaire from the “Boston Globe.”
In that, President Obama said these are the issues that are most crucial to the country, because of what the Bush administration has done with executive power. Please, before you vote for me or anybody else, read what we‘re saying here about presidential power and only make your decision then.
This wasn‘t twenty years ago. This was from three years ago. And then Harold Koh, as you indicated as well, has been a long-time critic before he became serving President Obama of exactly these kind of theories of executive power.
He even objected to Bill Clinton‘s deployment of military force into Haiti, which was a much more limited military action than Libya, on the grounds that it violated the War Powers Resolution.
This is the kind of thing that really breeds cynicism. When you see people claim to believe in principles when they‘re out of power, suddenly get into power and completely repudiate them.
HAYES: Glenn Greenwald of “Salon,” thanks so much for joining me tonight. Appreciate it.
GREENWALD: My pleasure, Chris.
HAYES: The most watched trial since O.J. ended this afternoon. You probably know the verdicts. What do those verdicts and our reactions to them say about the justice system in America? That‘s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As to the charge of first degree murder, verdict as to count one, we the jury find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Orlando, Orange County, Florida, on this fifth day of July, 2011, signed foreperson.
As to the charge of aggravated child abuse, verdict as to count two, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
As to the charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child, verdict is to count three, we the jury find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, dated at Orlando, Orange County, Florida, this fifth day of July, 2011, signed foreperson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With those words, the most watched American trial since the People of the State of California versus Orenthal James Simpson was decided today. Casey Anthony stood charged for the murder of her two year old daughter Caylee.
And after 33 days of testimony and 10 hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted her of the most serious charges. She was found guilty of four different counts of lying to law enforcement officials after her daughter‘s disappearance in 2008.
She can get up to four years in prison, but could also get credit for time served, having waited there years for her case to go to trial. As soon as the verdict was read, the backlash online, on TV and outside the Orlando courthouse began.
Somewhat remarkably, attorneys for both the prosecution and the defense scolded members of the media and legal experts and analysts for the circus like atmosphere that had come to dominate the trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY MASON, ANTHONY DEFENSE ATTY: Well, I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, prejudice and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how it would be.
I‘m disgusted by some of the lawyers that have don this. And I can tell you that my colleagues, from coast to coast, and border to border, have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television and talking about cases that they don‘t know a damn thing about.
LAWSON LAMAR, STATE ATTORNEY: For us, the case has never been about the defendant in particular. It‘s about—see, it has always been about seeking justice for Caylee and speaking on her behalf.
Some have exploited the case for personal gain, ad revenues, or 15 minutes of fame. And since day one, we have kept our promise that we would be focusing on finding and proving the truth about this child‘s homicide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If convicted of first degree murder, Casey Anthony would have faced the death penalty. This afternoon, her attorney, Jose Baez, used his opportunity speaking to reporters to talk about capital punishment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE BAEZ, ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: I think that this case is a perfect example of why the death penalty does not work, and why we all need to stop and look and think twice about a country that decides to kill its own citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You know, it‘s extremely difficult to know what to do, as both a journalist and a citizen, when confronted with a set of ghastly allegations and the legal prosecution like the one that unfurled in Orlando.
We simply do not know the most relevant facts of the matter, what exactly happened.
And yet, there‘s this basic and understandable fascination among the public that remains, hungrily demanding more details. So, inevitably, certain members of the media will happily leap forward with enough outrage and speculation to keep the beast fed.
This isn‘t new, of course. There were trials of the century long before there was cable news. But today‘s acquittal of Casey Anthony and the strong reactions its provoked provide an opportunity to marvel at just how dysfunctional a relationship we have with our own criminal justice system.
While a single surprising acquittal makes headlines, the fact is, day after day, without cameras or press releases or much interest at all from our political leadership, our country processes a staggering number of people through the courts.
Most of them plead out because no one has the resources to actually go to trial. The result is nearly 2.3 million people behind bars and a per capita incarceration rate of 751 out of every 100,000 Americans, higher than any country in the world, more than six times the official rate of China.
So whether or not justice was done in the case of Casey Anthony—and lord knows, I don‘t know—it‘s almost impossible to conclude, when you zoom out, that our system, as a whole, is reliably producing justice, day in and day out.
Consider as just one example the case of another accused murderer, one who attracted one one millionth of the attention of Ms. Anthony. Corey May was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for shooting and killing a police officer in his Mississippi home in December 2001.
Fallen asleep and heard men entering the home and fired off three shots from his handgun, before he realized they were police and not intruders. The police had broken into May‘s home an erroneous drug tip from an informant.
May was black. The officer he shot and killed, Ron Jones Jr., was white. The case against May was so riddled with errors and his defense so mismanaged, the state appeals court finally ordered a new trial last year.
And last week, he accepted a plea of manslaughter and a sentence of time served. But had it not been for committed attorneys and the dogged journalism of reporter Radley Balko and others, Corey May would have been put to death by the state.
The truly horrifying thought, on a day when the country‘s attention is so focused on murder and justice, is that while a case like Casey Anthony‘s can command our national attention, there are almost certainly other Corey Mays out there, who languish out of the spotlight.
Imagine a world in which Nancy Grace devoted herself to securing justice for them.
That will do it for this Tuesday edition of THE LAST WORD. I‘m Chris Hayes, in for Lawrence O‘Donnell. You can read more of my work at TheNation.com, or follow me on Twitter at @ChrisLHayes.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is, of course, up next. Good evening, Rachel.
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