'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, April 28, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: Melissa Harris Perry, Pamela Brown, Michael Hastings, Luke Burbank, Goldie Taylor,
Lorella Praeli, Clive Stafford Smith
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris
The secret service has implemented new rules, preventing agents from
visiting non-reputable establishments.
And the human rights group China aide says activist, Chen Guangcheng,
is now under U.S. protection in Beijing after escaping from house arrest
there. Chinese officials have yet to comment.
But I want to start today with my story of the week, the strange turn
in the presidential campaign. Something remarkable happened in the
presidential campaign this week. Something rare, even beautiful, and it
deserves a moment of commemoration. Mitt Romney agreed with President
Obama on a substantive matter of policy.
As you probably heard, thanks to no small part to the president`s
appearance on Jimmy Fallon slow-jamming the news, the interest rate on
federal staff or loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent
this July as a law temporarily lowering them expires. Congressional
Democrats led by congressman, Gary Peters, and the White House are pushing
for an extension of the lower rate before the deadline.
You won`t be surprised to hear that to the extent, the Republicans had
expressed their views on the matter they have been opposed. Here`s uber
reactionary Congresswoman Virginia Fox giving her two cents on the matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: I have very little tolerance
for people who tell me that they graduated with $200,000 in debt or even
$80,000 in debt, because there`s no reason for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And this past week, Missouri Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin,
compared student loans to, quote, "stage III cancer of socialism." The
Ryan budget calls not only for the student loan rate to double back to its
original number but also slashes Pell Grants. The direct aide the
government gives to students to offset tuition by 1$170 billion over the
next 10 years. And just a couple months ago, when asked about student
loans in the campaign trail, Romney said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I wish I could
tell you that there`s a place to find -- to find really cheap money or free
money, and we could pay for everyone`s education. That`s just not going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, yes, free money (INAUDIBLE) we can`t have that. Never
mind the trillions of dollars, literally, in mere zero interest rate loans
the fed has made to the too big to fail bank string (ph) of crisis and its
aftermath. But we all know students aren`t too big to fail.
They are, apparently, however, a powerful enough political
constituency that the ever Expedia (ph), Mitt Romney, pivoted towards
pandering to them this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates
for students as a result of student loans, obviously, in part, because of
the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I suppose this count has progressed. House Republicans came
around as well and passed a bill to extend the lower interest rate, but
their bill pays for it by taking money from the Affordable Care Act rather
than closing a tax loophole for higher earners as Democrats prefer. That
didn`t stop the club from asserting that any federal subsidy of student
loan was bad policy and should be ended.
But even if we do have a brief and tenuous (ph) moment of consensus on
staff for low interest rates, it masks a much larger and deeper set of
conflicts. There is a profound distance between our idea of a social
contract that offers equal opportunity and the reality of a society in
which a four-year college degree remains out of the grasp of the majority
of the population.
We think of college as the primary engine of social mobility in our
society. The mechanism to secure once place in the middle or upper middle
class, and yet, for the last nearly two decades, the percentage of the
population with college degrees has risen slowly and still only just about
30 percent. In 1980, it was about 20 percent.
"The Wall Street Journal" reported this week that the trend of each
subsequent generation of Americans attaining more schooling than their
parents is grinding to a halt. At the same time, college tuitions have
been rising at a rate far above inflation rivaling only healthcare. As of
2010, college tuition had increased nearly 600 percent since 1980.
And much of the rising cost comes from the fact that states have been
cutting the budgets of the big public universities that educate the
majority of students. Adjusted for inflation, states of cut support for
each full-time student at schools (ph) by 26 percent since 1990.
As tuitions rise, students must take out more debt to pay for those
rises in tuition, and so, we now have a total of $1 trillion in outstanding
debt, more than credit card debt for auto debt. And that debt is growing
at a rate twice as fast as mortgage debt was growing during the housing
bubble. So, two are delinquencies.
Not surprisingly, given the fully half of those under 25 or either on
or underemployed. Higher education is a public good that everyone agrees
is valuable and essential both for individual flourishing and social
health. And yet, for all the rhetorical knobs (ph), we make to it in our
political culture, we don`t actually spend that much public federal money
And what we do spend is, like so many other areas of policy, hidden
largely in a tax code. It`s a model that incentivizes debt, debt which
then further fuels tuition increases.
The great Mike Konczal at the Roosevelt Institute made the list of a
various ways the tax code subsidizes higher education and found the total
cost of the roughly dozen different exemptions and deductions was about $23
billion a year, which is in the middle range of estimates of what it would
cost to simply make higher education free.
Part of the reason that bachelor`s degrees have remained a relatively
rarefied commodity is that we have failed to conceptualize of it as fully
part of the rights of citizenship like, say, police protection, access to
the courts, elementary schools, and public streets.
Student debt is a symptom of a broken social contract as much as it is
a cause, but don`t bet on hearing either candidate say that on the campaign
I want to bring in my guests, Goldie Taylor, author of the forthcoming
book, "An Uncivil War: How America Has Lost Her Collective Grace," which is
really great subtitle. Michael Hastings is author of the "Operators: The
Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America`s War in Afghanistan," which I
have to say is a phenomenal read. We had you on the show to talk about it,
and it`s fantastic book.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, AUTHOR, "THE OPERATORS": Thanks very much.
HAYES: He`s also a "Buzz Feed" correspondent who isn`t (ph) these
days and "Rolling Stone" contributing editor -- you`re the chief wall cat
correspondent of "Buzz Feed" --
HASTINGS: Win and fail.
HAYES: Yes. You`re the chief win and fail correspondent.
HASTINGS: It must be your new favorite web site. I guarantee it.
Check it out.
HAYES: Yes. They are doing great things over there. Ben Smith
helming that up. Pamela Brown, a filmmaker who is part of the "Occupy
Student Debt" campaign. And Luke Burbank, host of the world famous "Too
Beautiful to Live" podcast, which is a fantastic podcast. I listen to just
about every day.
LUKE BURBANK, HOST, "TOO BEAUTIFUL TO LIVE": I was just hired by
"Buzz Feed" during --
HAYES: Also, this just in, deputy (INAUDIBLE) correspondent,
(INAUDIBLE). He`s also on Ross and Burbank on Seattle`s KIRO FM radio
station. I`m so glad I have you guys here.
I feel like the student debt argument that -- well, first of all, I
found it fascinating that it was one of these issues where it was just
nowhere, and then, all of a sudden, it`s like, whoop. We`re all talking
about student debt, which I think is a testament to a number of things.
One, the resonance of the issue, because it`s an issue that a lot of people
actually have purchased on, right?
I had student loan. I`ve been go out of people at the table probably
at student loan. A lot of people watching have student loans. Also, the
rhetorical power of the president to be able to sort of put something
Pam, you`ve been organizing on this issue.
PAMELA BROWN, OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT CAMPAIGN: Right.
HAYES: And when you look at those numbers, what do you see as the
fundamental issue here, because I want to sort of talk about why do we have
this much debt? Why is college as expensive as it is, right? What, to
you, is the fundamental issue, because the intra trade (ph) fight is a very
small skirmish in a much larger battle, right?
BROWN: Yes. I think it`s important to realize that this interest
rate conversation, 3.4 percent versus 6.8 percent is incredibly small.
We`re talking about something that only effects about seven million
students, which sounds like a big number, but there are 37 million people
right now with student debt.
That`s actually 58 percent of the population over 25 with a college
degree. So, when we`re looking at this $1 trillion problem, which I think
is critical in this, that it`s just unpayable. You have 50 percent of
students, as you mentioned, under -- kids under 25 who don`t -- who are
underemployed or unemployed right now. And, when you`re hit with a $900 a
month bill, you just simply can`t pay it.
HAYES: Let me push back a little bit on this. You guys did this
thing to commemorate or commemorate, to mark the occasion of student debt
passing $120 (ph). And I think there`s part of me that it had a resonance
when you watch Fox News, for instance, or you read sort of Tea Party
websites to talk about the total amount of government debt. Well, we have
$16 trillion or whatever it is at the given moment.
And, to me, it`s always not a very helpful number, right, because the
question with debt always isn`t just how much of there is it. It`s whether
it`s purchasing you something that is valuable, right? If I take out debt
to invest in, say, Facebook, well then, even if I have a lot of debt, it`s
paying off in the end, right?
So, the question to me isn`t the sheer number of the debt, what is on
the balance sheet, it`s what is the asset against that liability, right?
BROWN: Yes. I mean, one of the problems, it`s definitely an
effective way to look at it. But when the problems with looking at that
way also is that then you say that education is exclusively about how much
money you`re going to make after you`ve gained that education, right? And
so, at that point, what happens is, schools say, well, let`s end, you know,
all the humanities.
Let`s, you know, cut out the social sciences and these things that
have value to society, but they may not be quantifiable in that way. So,
on the one hand, yes, you do want to talk about it in reality of what are
you getting for this money, right? But then, on the other hand, it`s kind
of a double-edged sword because you may be arguing at the same time that
the humanities are no longer valuable.
HAYES: Yes. You don`t want to reduce -- I mean, I`ll say this as a
philosophy major --
HAYES: You know? But yes, you don`t want to reduce it into strictly
as commodity. Michael, there`s something you want to say?
HASTINGS: I mean, what does it look like? How do you get rid of --
what is the debt relief plan for this $1 trillion and what are the demands
of the students?
BROWN: There`s no relief plan. You know, within our campaign,
"Occupy Student Debt Campaign," we are looking at broad changes to higher
education. One of the things that is included in our principles that we
sort of base this campaign on would be a wiping-out of this debt. But,
also, we believe that public education should be federally funded, for
example, which wouldn`t be hard to do, as you point out.
I mean, the number that I have would cost about $70 billion to do
that. Now, put into perspective, that`s the amount of money that the
Pentagon literally loses. I mean, they just have no idea where it went,
you know? $70 billion, you know? So, you know, yes.
HAYES: And you raise this question, I think, also of like what is
college IV, which, I think, in some ways, gets to the heart of the matter
here. And I want to sort of take up that issue right after we take this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It wasn`t until five
years ago that we were in a position to pay down our loan debt. When was
the last time you`ve seen the president of the United States who`s just a
few years outside of college debt?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We only finish paying
off our student loans about eight years ago. Think about that. I`m
president of the United States. It was only about eight years ago that we
finished paying off our student loans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. So, Michelle Obama and President Obama talking
about their personal experience of paying off student loan debt in 2008,
and, again, this week, talking about this.
But, to me, this raises a really interesting question, which is -- and
I`ve seen a number of critiques that say, you know, basically, subsidies of
student loans is essentially an upper middle class political issue and also
in terms of its distribution impact.
It benefits people towards this up (ph), because let`s think about the
Obamas for a second, right? Yes. President Barack Obama had student
loans. Why did he have student loans? He went to Harvard Law School,
right? And then, he went on to become president of United States.
And so, the question is, should the taxpayers be subsidizing the loan
of a Harvard Law School grad who goes on to be president of United States?
BURBANK: Well, I have to say, my experience was I was a kid who
neither of my parents went to college, and I didn`t even know how much
college cost. I applied to one place, the University of Washington, which
was in the town I lived in. I got there. Somebody said, it`s this much
money for you, and we`re going to loan you the money to do this.
And I was able to get a degree. I have a paying job. And, I`ve paid
much more back into the system based on that whatever, you know, $10,000 of
student loan debt. I mean, how quaint. I`ve graduated with $10,000 --
BURBANK: But, I mean, I was not an upper class kid, and this was very
much something that helped leverage me into being someone who`s now helping
HAYES: On television.
BURBANK: Yes. (INAUDIBLE)
HAYES: I`d like you to respond to that, Pam, because, you know,
obviously, you`re part of the occupy movement.
HAYES: And you, sometimes, I think in the 99 percent formulation,
it`s like, well, is this a 95 percent issue or is it just a 10 percent
BROWN: Yes. In student loans, it`s really easy to look at it that
way, especially when you have, you know, to go to an Ivy League School now.
It`s like $60,000 a year. So, you really are talking in some cases about a
pretty elite group of people. But on the other hand, you`re also looking
at problems in public institutions, right?
You`re looking at rising costs there. You`re looking at students
going into debt. Right now, in this country, believe it or not, if you`re
born in the bottom fifth of socioeconomics, then you actually only have a
five percent chance of ever earning over $60,000 a year. And your access
to that is through the public higher education system, generally.
HAYES: And part of that is the college wage premium, which you have a
little (INAUDIBLE). I mean, there`s a huge difference. And this data
shows this highly. That`s high school diploma around -- a little north of
30,000 and that`s a bachelor`s degree -- Goldie.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, AUTHOR, "AN UNCIVIL WAR": Right. I think there are a
couple of things to be said about this. Number one, if you have a college
degree, your likelihood of being unemployed in this country goes down
significantly, and so, that`s the purchase for -- you know, neither of my
parents went to college.
I got to college on Pell Grant, student loans, and a collection of
other things, including the G.I. bill. That broke the cycle of poverty for
our entire family. And so, now, I have three children who are in college
at the same time today. They, too, are benefitting from student loans,
although not Pell Grants and other things that they don`t qualify for.
I suspect that that`s going to do more to open up more opportunity for
them and for their children just as it really did for me. I think the
other part of this is, because student loan debt is exploding and many,
many parents and children cannot afford, unless, by scholarship, low
income, or academia to get to an Ivy League, the pressures on state
intuitions to educate more students.
That means the state institution is no longer the creature of last
resort. That middle class, working class students are back into the public
colleges and university and then least of this. Those people who, you
know, may not outright qualify for other places no longer find a place in
the state institution, because --
TAYLOR: University of Georgia, every year, has a waiting list. My
son who is a straight B student did not qualify for Hickey (ph) College,
and they wanted to send him to community.
HAYES: That`s interesting. So, there`s a cascade effect, right?
BURBANK: I went to the University of Washington, and back then, I
mean, it was, like, yes, you could kind of always go to the UDUB. I have a
daughter who`s about to be a freshman, not there, at a different school in
Western Washington, and it was like for her to get into UDUB would have
been akin to her getting into Harvard, you know, because of that downward
pressure that you`re talking about. It`s amazing.
HAYES: Well, but I also think that when you talk about both of those,
I think that`s a really good point. You`re sort of identifying the key --
the social role ecologist to play which is a kind of pump, right, that
moves people and allows people to achieve this sort of dream American
But I do think we tend to overstate the extent toward the college
system is functioning doing that, right, because, you know, a huge amount
of people, the one thing we left out of graph is the sum college part,
right? So, what we do is we fund a lot of people in the college, but a
shocking amount of people don`t come out on the other side, and they have
the worst of both worlds.
They don`t have the earning premium of some of the college degrees.
They`re actually much closer to high school grads, but they now have debt,
also. So like, you`re in the worst -- so, there`s this huge portion of the
population that teams like the system, the current system just isn`t
serving at all.
BROWN: Yes. And I mean, I really have a question about how these
trends are going to hold up in the future? Right now, we have some of the
highest -- some of the worst job prospects for recent graduate that we`ve
ever seen. And we know that that`s not something that you kind of get over
in a few years.
That actually changes your earning power for your entire lifetime.
So, you`ve got students with the highest amount of debt. You`ve got, you
know, the most limited amount of opportunity and, you know, what`s going to
happen, this is something that is going to be pervasive throughout the
entire society, because the students cannot, you know, buy houses. They
can`t buy cars.
HAYES: Well, there`s also the fact that tuition is -- I mean, the key
thing here is that tuition -- here`s the rise in cost of college since
1990. That`s in percentage change. It`s up. Median family income is up
in real terms about double, right? College tuition and fees up six time,
right? So, I mean, the two things don`t track.
The only other graph that looks like that in America, Mike, is health
care cost. And we all agree that the healthcare cost can going up to that
rate or bankrupt the whole society. So, the core problem -- the debt is a
manifestation, is an emanation of the problem of tuition rise.
And that, then, gets us back to the question of, is this -- do we want
colleges to be something where you pay down money and make an investment
than then gives you recurrence like we`re talking about before or do we
have some vision of educating citizens in the liberal arts, et cetera.
And I want to sort of get to that right after we take a quick break.
HAYES: I want to play two people talking about college and what you
should learn college. We just left off this question of is this
essentially fundamentally a sort of -- is this a place where we want the
future workers of America be trained, and as consumers, we take out debts
so that it can return on investment?
Or do we have some vision of higher education as producing some sort
of cultivation of a sense of inquiry specific responsibility, et cetera.
So, this is Rick Scott. He`s going to be the first one to talk about this
topic, and then, Steve Jobs. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: How many more jobs you think there is
for anthropology in the state? Do you want to use your tax dollars to
educate more people that can`t get jobs in anthropology? I don`t.
STEVE JOBS, APPLE CO-FOUNDER: College at that time offered, perhaps,
the best calligraphy instruction in the country. I learned about Seriff
and Sans Seriff type phases, about varying the amount of space between
different letter combination, about what makes great typography great.
It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that
science can`t capture. And I found it fascinating. None of this had even
a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when
we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me.
And we designed it all into the MAC. It was the first computer with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I love that Jobs` bit because it`s an explanation of the
possible pragmatic reasons to do impractical things like one on typography
BURBANK: Yes, but is everybody going to be Steve Jobs? I mean, if
you start typography, we`re all going to invent Apple? I mean, I feel like
it is a beautiful piece of tape and it`s admirable, but he`s exceptional,
HAYES: He`s exceptional, but it also to me is that, it hones on the
fact that you cannot predict to what you`re going to do, A, in terms of
your job. And, B, you can`t predict what kind of skills you might need. I
mean, there`s a cramped vision that says you`re going to go and you`re
going to get a degree in business administration, and then, you`re going to
be doing business administration or health technician.
The fact of the matter is, the economy is changing so much all the
time that it seems to me a better investment to get some broad set of
skill, Now, I`m just like, you know, banging the drum for liberal arts
education, but yes. But, is this just on us, too? I mean, having college
has become this huge business.
I mean, this sort of -- I don`t know if you`d call it conspiratorial,
but the corporate overlords having you go and everyone gets a four-year
degree, everyone goes into debt, and they have to go into these kind of
corporate drone jobs. You know, like Steve Jobs also recommends doing
acid. You know, great. Go to college, drop asset --
TAYLOR: You know, I think we really get in trouble when we begin to
decide which degrees are valuable, which are not. I was also shocked when
my daughter to Brown University and decided to study Africana Studies
(INAUDIBLE). I said who`s going to pay for this. But, you know, now that
she`s coming out on the other side, I have a huge affair with the idea that
she should learn how to think.
And that that`s going to be applicable no matter where she takes these
degrees, I hope to a Ph.D. And so, we`ll see how this all turns out. So,
I think there`s a huge, huge danger in that, just as I think there`s a huge
danger in saying that someone with 80 or $200,000 in student loan debt, you
know, is somehow a pariah.
And that means that if I am poor among the working class of this
country, then I don`t deserve to be a doctor or lawyer or any of those
other things that may contribute back to the public in this society, that
because I`m not wealthy enough to write the check myself, then I don`t
HAYES: So, you`re talking about the sort of idea of tracking of
essentially having a situation which there`s an elite set of people that
get a liberal arts degree and study calligraphy and then the working class
are put into educational system that says --
BURBANK: Have you, guys, heard about universities that are
contemplating charging ore for credit for degrees like engineering and
things that are seen as having a higher earning power when you get done
TAYLOR: Well, I think there`s a problem with that, because, you know,
the stem degrees -- you know, if you do that, then you begin to lock out
those very talented, you know, kids among the poor and working class in
this country who work just as hard as their kid from a more foreign or
highly educated home.
And so, I think you get into real trouble when you begin stratifying
these things, you know, with money, you know, based on what I decide to
study or not study.
HAYES: To me, it`s fascinating and part of the route of the problem
here is that higher education is both the market, and it also produces all
sort of non-market intangibles we want, right? We have an internal
societal tension about what exactly we want out of this institute. And
it`s charging more and more every year.
We`re going more and more debt without confronting what exactly do we
want higher education to produce.
BROWN: Well, I mean, one of the problems is that it is a market. I
mean, do we really want everything to be, you know, a part of this liberal
(ph) logic where everything is, you know, should be bought and sold.
Everything, you know, should be controlled by an invisible hand of a free
market, an alleged free market.
I would say that we would want to take education and, you know,
similarly to healthcare, out of that context or back out of that context,
because, of course, it wasn`t always a market. I mean, the vast majority
of schools in this country have, in the past at least, a non-profit, right?
So, we said, OK, this is a different form of business, per se.
HAYES: Yes. And we have an accelerating rapid growth in the poor
profit school sector which is a whole -- I mean, you could do a whole show
about that sector of the economy, which is fascinating.
HASTINGS: But, I mean, I look at the colleges now and that,
essentially, a degree is a just stamp of approval that you are employable,
right? And if I look back at my own college education, and I went to three
different schools, kicked out of the first one, went to another one that I
won`t mention, and then, ended up at NYU. All four years --
HAYES: Wait, what happened at the one you won`t mention?
HASTINGS: We`ll go back to the Steve Jobs clip and talk about Pink
Floyd. Anyway --
HASTINGS: No. But at the end of the day, 95 percent of the stuff I
learned in college, probably was a waste of my time. The key was the
internship I got and my last semester at NYU at "Newsweek" magazine, and --
you know, where I learned the trade. I learned the trade of journalism. I
mean, it was a skill. And I don`t know --
HAYES: That`s a perfect example. It`s probably an unpaid internship.
HASTINGS: Unpaid, yes.
HAYES: Unpaid, right? Which, again, is yet another one of the
mobility mechanisms where the deck has already been stacked.
HASTINGS: Totally stacked in my favor. You know what I mean?
Especially in jobs like the media, this sort of prestige jobs. If you
don`t have -- if you`re in debt, how can you take on unpaid internship?
How can you compete?
TAYLOR: I had the skill of journalism before going to college. I
learned it in the Marine Corps. I was trained as a public affairs
broadcaster. Upon coming out of the Marine Corps, I was unemployable
without a degree as a basic staff writer at my local newspaper. And so,
myself, I was divorced with three young children.
We literally fought our way to go to college at Emory, and then, and
only then, was I employable as a part time staff --
HAYES: OK. That`s fascinating, because that gets this idea that
college -- all colleges really doing, it`s not really educating our
training people, it is simply providing a signal to employers. It is just
saying these are the kinds of people you want to employ, and these are the
kinds of people you don`t want to employ. And if it`s doing that, well
then, that`s a huge problem.
More about the role of college, and also, we look at a Mitt Romney and
Obama hitting the campaign trail on college campuses. There`s quite a big
difference between the reaction right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I believe in you. I believe in your future. I believe in the
investment you`re making.
ROMNEY: You know what, those businesses don`t know how much they`re
spending on office supplies. Go back and get their invoices.
OBAMA: I love you back. I do.
ROMNEY: A store that would sell office supplies at a discount. He
said that office supplies were sold at a huge mark-up and that he would
have a big store that sold office supplies cheap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s talking points about all the match-up of Barack Obama
speaking to college audiences and Mitt Romney speaking to college
audiences, and you can see the difference. The Romney campaign now has
this thing where any time the president does something, they`re going to
talk about it or do it, it`s this sort of I know you are, but what am I
sort of situation.
And so, the president was hitting the campaign trail and talking to
college audiences, and so, Mitt Romney was. But it illustrated something
which is, A, there`s a huge enthusiasm gap in terms of -- there`s a huge
age gap in terms of where young voters have their allegiance, obviously.
President Obama --
BURBANK: That`s smaller than it was, right?
HAYES: That`s exactly right. And this -- so he won -- in 2008, Obama
won 68 percent of the use vote to McCain, McCain 30 percent. But -- and
he`s now leading 60 percent, right? And there`s been very interestingly,
there`s been a big drop off in enthusiasm in recent polling. There`s an --
among 18 to 34 years old, 18 percent drop in interest in the election, in
the four years from 2008 to 2012.
And I wonder what you folks think of what that`s said. Is this a
natural progression of just the fact that you have an incumbent as opposed
to this challenger? Is it possible to -- A, is it possible to recreate?
Is there a hope and change 2.0 campaign that is even possible? B, is it
necessary to inculcate matters? Everyone now just got a slightly more
jaundice eye towards this entire --
BROWN: I think that people are starting to really take a look and see
that our Democracy has been very much challenged by corporate interest by
Wall Street, and they`re discouraged.
I mean, they`re just thinking what`s the difference between a Mitt
Romney and a Barack Obama, not necessarily in terms of their ideals, but in
terms of what they`re actually capable of producing in terms of real change
HAYES: But isn`t that -- but then, at the same time, there is real
difference. There are real differences. I mean, if you`re 24 years old
and you`re on your parents` health insurance when you couldn`t be before
the Affordable Care Act, or the difference between paying 3.4 percent
interest on a loan and 6.8 interest which might be 70 bucks a month.
Seventy bucks a month is nothing, particularly, in this economic
environment. It does seem like there`s a lot of concrete ways in which the
president hasn`t pretty careful to cultivate that faith.s
TAYLOR: There are very real and meaningful differences. I`m writing
about this in my book today that the level of hypopartisanship,
polarization in this presidency, and make no mistake, George W. Bush`s
administration was as polarizing.
Barack Obama has got him beat by a couple of points, but that level of
hypopartisanship, that level of gridlock happening today in Washington
tells a lot of people what difference does it make if I elect one
president? What difference does it make if, you know, the House or Senate
is Republican or Democrat?
So, you`ve got some people who, you know, maybe they have been in the
process for one or two cycles and not truly invested, you know, sort of
backing off and saying, well, if I go out and I vote, what real difference
will it make when they`re going to keep pumping out the same stuff?
BURBANK: Well, and I think -- I mean, you know who I think is
probably the candidate has people the most excited on college campuses is
BURBANK: My little brother, he`s about to be a sophomore in college.
We want to drive once from Seattle to Portland. The entire three hours, he
was explaining to me how Ron Paul is so different than Romney and Obama.
He actually had some good points. By the end of the drive, I started the
drive thing like, let me tell you something, little brother --
BURBANK: By the end, I was like you make a good point, you know? I
mean, he is energizing people. He`s not going to win, but --
HAYES: Right. That to me raises exactly the question of what -- when
you`re talking about appealing to the youth vote, like, what is that?
There`s a way to appeal the youth vote that is, well, there`s a bunch of
concrete policy steps like we`re not going to double your interest rate.
And then, there`s this more comprehensive vision of total change, right,
which Ron Paul used to represent because he wants to, you know, --
TAYLOR: Ron Paul, to his credit, was one of the very first people,
months ago, to hit student loans, to hit student debt, to hit the rising
cost of a higher education in this country and the disproportionate, you
know, rise and fall of those things that the relationship between those
He was one of the very first people to talk about for-profit colleges
and how they are, you know, setting their tuition and fees in direct
correlation how much student aide, you know, somebody can get. So, in that
way, he makes plenty of sense and can energize --
HAYES: Well, he`s also making -- he`s also making the libertarian
argument against subsidy of student loans which -- that it isn`t that the
rise in debt is the result of the rise in tuition. It is at the rise in
tuition is the result on rise in debt, because when you subsidize loans,
then colleges raise tuitions.
HASTINGS: Ron Paul also represented of the sort of -- of the
disillusionment with the Obama administration. That Obama came in in 2008,
there was this hope moment. There was this change. It was very exciting,
and then, all of a sudden, none of those promises are delivered. And Ron
Paul, essentially, is a rejection of the sort of two-party system.
HAYES: But I don`t think -- I just don`t think you can say none of
the promises are delivered, right? I mean --
HASTINGS: As President Obama came in, the whole campaign was -- we`re
going to change the way they do business in Washington. Do you think they
changed the way they do business in Washington?
HAYES: All right. The other group of Obama voters that Romney is
aiming at right after this.
HAYES: Item says (ph) to the Alabama shakes you just heard.
HAYES: So, so good. All right. This week, Mitt Romney pivoted to a
more Latino friendly general election stance expressing interest in a plan
from Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio, who is pitching his own
version of the Dream Act, one that would give undocumented students visas
but not citizenship in exchange for going to college or joining the
military. Here`s Romney with Rubio at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m taking a look at his proposal. It has many futures to
commend it, but it`s something that we`re studying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Dream Act that`s already been proposed in the Senate and the
one that Romney had earlier vowed to veto would create a path to
citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as
children. It`s been clear since Mitt Romney emerged as the de facto
nominee almost three weeks ago.
He would have to walk back from some of the extreme positions he took
on immigration during the Republican primary debates like this one where he
attacked Texas governor, Rick Perry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I don`t see how it is that a state like Texas to go to
University of Texas if you`re an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition
discount. You know how much that is? That`s $22,000 a year. Four years
of college, almost a hundred thousand dollar discount if you`re an illegal
alien to go to University of Texas.
That kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that
education, to get the hundred thousand dollar break. It makes no sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, of course, because people are sneaking over the border
and risking their lives as far as (INAUDIBLE)
HAYES: That was him attacking a version of the Dream Act which was
asking the state of Texas, and there`s actually, I think, over 10 states
who passed their own version of the dream act. Joining us now, it`s my
great pleasure to welcome, Lorella Praeli, an undocumented immigrant who
just graduated from Quinnipiac and is director of Connecticut Students for
Dream. It`s great to have you here, Lorella.
LORELLA PRAELI, CT STUDENT FOR A DREAM: Great to have you, too.
HAYES: Lorella, you have been very active in a movement that is a
really interesting one for a lot of reasons. I`m not sure people know a
lot about it. you`re part of the Dreamer`s Act, right, or the Dreamer`s
movement. Tell me a little bit about yourself, where you`re coming to this
PRAELI: My name is Lorella. Originally, I was born in Peru and came
here at the age of 10. I`m above-the-knee amputee, so when I was two and
half, I had a car accident. And that resulted in my family and I seeking
medical treatment at Shriners Hospital in Tampa, Florida. They have a
domestic, and then, an international hospitals for youth.
And, we came in and we left for many years. And then, we ended up
settling here when I was 10 years old in Connecticut, actually. And I
found out I was undocumented when I was applying to the colleges. And you
know, you don`t have a Social Security number. So, for many years, my
parents said you`re fine. We`re here for a medical treatment.
And that narrative didn`t suffice anymore when you need a social -- so
you can apply for FASA. So, I was really in the shadows for the first two
years of my college experience. And kind of had a lot of inner tensions
between coming out or staying kind of in the shadows as we say in the
movement, because I was very politically active or curious.
And I was really awakened to join this growing movement in 2010 when
there was a lot of talk about the Dream Act, and that`s actually when I
first came out publicly about my status.
HAYES: And that was because the law was actually moving towards a
vote, if I`m not mistaken in 2010.
PRAELI: It was.
HAYES: Which the Republicans voted down, filibuster in the Senate.
PRAELI: Yes. I was actually in Washington, D.C. for the House and
the Senate vote, from the gallery watching what people were saying about
dreamers and the Dream Act. And, it was very discouraging to hear how many
people in Washington refer to us. "illegal aliens."
HAYES: Like Mitt Romney in that clip?
PRAELI: Like Mitt Romney in that clip. And there`s a fundamental
difference, and that we see ourselves as part of this community and where
they are unable to see that?
HAYES: Part of this community meaning what? Part of the community of
PRAELI: Part of the united states.
PRAELI: So, we`ve grown up here. My sister hasn`t been here since
she was five. I`ve been here since I was 10. We`ve gone through the
public education system here. Many of us have gone through college. And
we`re still told -- well, somehow, you still don`t belong. So, we have --
HAYES: Frankly, you seem terrifying to me.
PRAELI: Yes. Like I seem dangerous or something. But, we`ve
fulfilled every part of social citizenship or indelible (ph) citizenship.
HAYES: That`s an interesting way of putting it. You were among a
small group of people, I believe, that met with Senator Rubio and with his
chief of staff to discuss him, essentially, trying to carve out a middle
path between the illegal alien bating demagoguery of Mitt Romney on the
campaign trail just a few months ago, and the Dream Act proposed by
Democratic senator, Dick Durbin. I`d like to hear about that -- what
happened in that when we take -- after this quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the financial system and the banks blew up at
the end of the Bush presidency, that left our country in the worst economic
hole we have been since the great depression. Unemployment, business is
failing, the property numbers.
One silver lining actually in the poverty numbers is older Americans.
Older Americans relatively speaking are doing OK even in these hard times,
and that`s because of Social Security, which is not a Ponzi scheme. It is
bankrupting us. It is not outrage. It is working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Great pleasure to have Lorella Praeli here this morning who is
a member of the dreamer`s movement pushing for a Dream Act. Just so we`re
clear on the stats here. My sense is there`s about two million folks who
are in your situation that is to say came as immigrants or as children and
are undocumented now and the Dream Act proposed by senator Durbin would
apply to? Is that right?
PRAELI: That`s right.
HAYES: I want you to tell us about your meeting with Senator Rubio.
Before we get to that, you were saying something during the break about the
rhetoric around us because, I think, one of the things that really
interesting is there`s the substance on immigration. And I`ve reported on
immigration before, and I`ve had interesting and enlightening exchanges
with people are who very restrictions, who take a position on that.
And when you get into the weeds of that policy, it can be more
complicated than it seems at first when people say how many -- what should
the number be, but it`s not the weeds of the policy that seems to drive,
the emotional resonance the issue has in the Republican primary and the
rhetoric that is being used.
What is your reaction, what do you think the broad resonance is when
you see someone like Mitt Romney using the kind of language he uses
routinely, illegal aliens?
PRAELI: I think it depends on who you`re talking to. So, I think
among Latino voters or the Latino population of the United States, I think
it`s alienating. It`s how can you relate? How can you support someone or
a party that talks about people who are very similar to you in that way?
It is very common for Latino household to have make status families.
So, people are documented and undocumented living under the same roof
or children who are undocumented. And so, you know, I think our response
is usually how could they be talking that way? And how could they not see
what they`re doing? So, I think the Republican Party is very focused on
their short term whims, and they`re forgetting about the long-term whims.
HAYES: Well, and it seemed like this week, that started to dawn on
all this. I mean, Marco Rubio is clearly cognizant about, and he has, I
think, nominated himself and have been nominated by the party, essentially,
to be the official emissary and liaison to the Latino community, partly
because of his background and his last name.
How difficult or easy is it to erase the ringing in the ears of the
terms like illegal alien? I mean, how able do you see them -- and you`re
someone who`s now in dialogue on this issue. How open minded are you to
the possibility that this party, which seems very constitute around, a very
oppositional stance towards folks in your situation can come around, can
produce a compromise?
PRAELI: I mean, I think that`s the concern. So, it`s not enough for
Senator Rubio to say I have an alternative proposal to the Dream Act. This
is my legalization proposal for Dream Act eligible youth. It`s more of,
can you get the Republican leadership to support what you`re talking about,
and that`s where I think we don`t -- we`re not feeling very positive. Can
he work the house?
Can he even get it passed through by the Senate and, you know, you
have Mitt Romney who has said I would veto any Dream Act and saying maybe
I`m open to considering, you know, this proposal. So, I think things are
really changing and very political in Washington right now. And, I think
they`re waking up to the fact that they need at least 30 percent of the
Latino vote to win.
BURBANK: The irony being, if you took out the immigration question, I
think a lot of the things that Republican stand for really dovetail nicely
with a lot of the issues that Latinos in this country find them important.
You`re talking about pro-life stuff.
You`re talking about -- I mean, I used to live in Los Angeles, and I
have a lot of experience with the Latino community there. I mean, again,
if you just take the immigration thing out, these are, basically,
HAYES: But particularly, if you look at other sub demographic groups,
the biggest predictor of voting demographic Republican is how often you
attend church. It`s one of the biggest one. So, this is a group that is
anomalous to that, and it`s precisely because of that. And people like
Karl Rove and other strategists in the Republican Party have made precisely
this argument, but the roadblock is people aren`t stupid.
They understand if you are welcome or not in their coalition. And,
the big question is, can they overcome that? Can Marco Rubio overcome
that? I want you to actually give us the details of what the meeting was
like with him and his chief of staff right after the quick break.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes,
here with Goldie Taylor, author of a forthcoming book, "An Uncivil War,"
Lorella Praeli, director of Connecticut Students for a Dream, Pamela Brown
from Occupy Student Debt, and Luke Burbank, host of the podcast, "Too
Beautiful to Live," "TBTL" for short.
We`re talking about the DREAM Act. We`re talking about the
beginnings of the consideration of the possibility of a pivot on the issue
of the DREAM Act coming from Mitt Romney in considering a proposal by Marco
You were actually among small group of students who met with Marco
Rubio to talk about this issue. You met with his chief of staff. And I
understand the senator came in.
What I think is interesting about this, first of all, is just that he
is meeting with undocumented immigrants to talk about policy, which I think
on the right must seem totally toxic and crazy, which to me seem totally
Can you tell me a little bit about the circumstance of the meeting
and how it went?
LORELLA PRAELI, CT STUDNETS FOR A DREAM: Sure. So, I`m actually the
NCC -- New England national coordinator -- or national coordinating
committee represented for United We Dream. And United We Dream is the
organization that has been in conversations open to dialogue with Senator
Rubio and other Republicans who want to come to the table.
So, I think I want to start off by saying that we are not sold on the
Democratic Party nor are we sold on the Republican Party. We care about
relief for our community and I think it`s really important to emphasize
that because we`re really hoping to work with anyone who is willing to make
this a reality, who`s not just here to talk about politics, or to talk
about it because it`s an election year, but who`s committed to really
making it happened through the Senate, in the House and then a president
that will sign the bill. Sure.
And, you know, we had a meeting with Senator Rubio`s office who has
been talking to United We Dream about -- Gaby Pacheco actually in United We
Dream, about what we would like to see in the bill. And so, they started
that dialogue with us. He`s met with other dreamers. I know in Miami-Dade
College. He`s been reaching out to a bunch of folks to get a sense of how
we feel about an alternative or legalization proposal that has no pathway
HAYES: And how do you feel about that? Because it strikes me that
it`s half a loaf. But also, what can you do with it? What happened
happen? You would graduate. You would have a visa.
PRAELI: So, it`s actually it`s a conditional non-immigrant visa
status, based on what we know, and this is again all speculation.
HAYES: Right. We don`t have --
PRAELI: It`s a conditional, non-immigrant VISA, potentially an
indefinite visa. And you are here lawfully present or legally in the
United States. You can go to school, you can travel, you can have a
driver`s license, a work permanent.
And then you can adjust to become a legal resident via the
traditional route. So via employer sponsorship, family sponsorship, or
marriage. So, it doesn`t bar someone from becoming a U.S. citizen.
There`s just no pathway. And with the bill that we saw in 2010, there was
a pathway of about 13 years. It would have taken me 13 years to become a
U.S. citizen with the latest version of the DREAM Act.
PRAELI: Of course. The bill has changed since 2001 when it was
first introduced. It has changed tremendously.
HAYES: And in the wrong direction, you`re saying?
PRAELI: I would say in a more conservative direction.
HAYES: Right. I mean, but this is the fundamental dynamic, right?
You take one step forward and then the other side takes a step in retreat.
So, the bill keeps moving in this -- I mean, that has been the -- I
remember reporting on the DREAM Act, the version in -- I wrote a big story
in 2002 about the DREAM Act, which never got published. I spent a lot of
time on that piece.
And it seemed to me such an imminently reasonable -- I mean, there
are obviously is no moral case to hold accountable a 9-year-old for coming
to the country when they had no control over that.
If that has been the history of the Dream Movement, is that
compromise has not led to a result. It has only led to the bill getting
worse for people in your situation, then what hope can you have that this
isn`t just another Lucy with the football moment?
PRAELI: For this particular bill, or for the movement as a whole?
PRAELI: I think the movement is only getting started. So I think
we`re a very young movement. I see in many ways that the dreamers will
carry forward and continue to fight until you see something like
comprehensive immigration reform. I think one of the concerns or things to
consider as we talk about Senator Rubio`s proposal is would it lower the
bar for a potential DREAM Act? So, if it really has -- politically, if it
can pass the House and the Senate this year, would it lower the bar?
So, next year, if we`re talking about the DREAM Act, would we be
starting out with a 2010 version or would we be starting out with this
HAYES: That`s very interesting.
PRAELI: So, we actually don`t talk about it as -- we don`t talk
about it a Republican DREAM Act. We don`t say Rubio`s DREAM Act. We talk
about it as Senator Rubio`s legalization proposal, because we don`t want to
associate it with the DREAM Act.
HAYES: I see, interesting.
Will you tell me a little bit about what your situation is right now?
You`ve graduated. You`re part of this movement. And you don`t -- you`re
out of status, right?
What next? How do you -- how do you go about navigating this?
PRAELI: I think I have a wonderful life. I do. I consider myself
incredibly privileged and lucky person. I think that these struggles have
made me stronger and I`m in the fight. I want to see things different.
But I went to school. I had a full ride at Quinnipiac University.
And I`m incredibly lucky for that.
I do think, however, that the reality of being undocumented and
having an education, the older you get, the harder it is to be with the
status. If you`ve gone through school in the states, you want to be
putting that into action, right? So, we have dreamers who are going into
school for engineering who can`t actually do that.
So, right now, I`m organizing.
LUKE BURBANK, TOO BEAUTIFUL TO LIVE: Could you be deported?
PRAELI: You could.
BURBANK: I mean, you personally, could they just come pick you up
after this TV show? Legally?
PRAELI: Yes, of course. I would say, you know, we talk about how
the country has gone in the opposite direction of what we wanted. But I
think in many ways, we`ve had small wins. So we have campaigns where
they`re called education deportation campaigns. So if you have enough
pressure and enough like public attention around a certain particular case,
it`s enough to stop the deportation of a DREAM Act eligible youth.
And I think that was something completely unheard four years ago in
HAYES: In terms of thinking about where the organization is going
broadly -- I mean, it seems we don`t seem to be making as much rhetorical
or public opinion progress as I would have hoped. And one of the things
that`s really interesting is the way that you guys have sort of analogy for
the gay rights movement, rights for LGBT folks when you talk about
essentially coming out, right, coming out of the shadows.
And a big part of the early LGBT movement was of Senator Helms coming
out. The reason why Senator Helms coming out was because they wanted to
destroy the stereotype that was abstract in people`s mind of what a gay
person was and that it was a courageous, political act to say, "I am gay
and you know me and we work together."
And you talked about coming out of the shadows. I saw a great
YouTube video. You talked about how you decided to that. How important do
you think that is in terms of driving this conversation, driving this
movement for people that are dreamers, that are in your situation, to make
PRAELI: I think it`s perhaps the most important step that one can
decide to do, because it begins to change your life. So, as a dreamer in
the shadows or in the closet, as some would say, you are incredibly ashamed
of your identity. You know, people refer to you in public and in different
public spaces as an illegal alien. You have incredibly -- you know, a lot
of, in your interpersonal relationships way it would be to come out to your
friend or to your significant other. And so, you carry around a lot of
So, once you come out publicly, you`re out. There is no going back.
And there is something really beautiful about that, about saying this is
who I am and I`m going to embrace my identity.
So what happened in this country over the past three years, I would
say, is that you`ve gone from people being in the shadows and quite about
this subject to it being in the media once a week. You know, the press is
covering this. People come out. We have a national coming out day now.
So, I think a lot more people are less afraid to live their lives.
HAYES: People want to follow what the United We Dream is up to, what
is Web site?
HAYES: Unitedwedream.org. Lorella Praeli, director of Connecticut
Students for a Dream, it`s really a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming
out. Really appreciate it.
HAYES: All right. President Obama`s newest weapon in the war on
terror right after this.
HAYES: Michael Hastings, author of the book "The Operator: The Wild
and Terrifying Inside Story of America`s War in Afghanistan", is with us
back at the table.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, AUTHOR, "THE OPERATOR": All right. I`ve been
tweeting away pictures in the green room, a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.
HAYES: Uh-oh, the key to all of our secrets.
I hope you didn`t just show the liquor cabinet.
BURBANK: By the way, that was empty when I got in.
HAYES: Let`s turn to something actually genuinely serious.
Just getting underway in Washington this morning is a conference
that`s trying to bring the U.S. drone programs out of the shadows. The
drone summit will hear testimony from investigators, lawyers ands robotic
technology experts about the expanding use of drones worldwide. The
operative word here being: "expanding."
Because on Wednesday, President Obama gave the go ahead to expand his
drone strike policy in Yemen to allow the CIA and military to use drones
against suspected al Qaeda operatives, even when the U.S. doesn`t know that
names of those won`t be killed if certain persons fit a pattern of life,
that fits the profile of an al Qaeda member, they can be targeted, even if
officials don`t know who they are.
This new policy can open up the door to even wider use of drone
strikes in Yemen, as well as Pakistan where drones have been heavily used
Take a look at these numbers. According to a report by the New
America Foundation, in 2009, there were 51 reported strikes in Pakistan`s
tribal areas, compared with 45 during the entire administration of George
W. Bush. From 2004 to 2010, drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between
830 and 1,210 people of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants.
This is the stuff we know that drones represent the news way of
American war. But there are also quite a few things you might not know,
like how exactly our government who and where to strike, in which people,
including U.S. citizens, the government has decided it can kill.
Michael Hastings, you wrote a big piece for "Rolling Stone" about the
growth of the use of drones.
HAYES: What is driving -- drones are, in some ways, the symptom
rather than the cause. What are -- what is driving the growth of this huge
expansion in drone strikes?
HASTINGS: OK, big picture about the drone program. There`s
essentially two drone programs. You have the dark CIA program, which we
know very little about, but we know -- for secret program where you know
some things about it. But then you have the military drone program, which
is -- where there are more checks and balances where you use it on an
active war zone.
What`s driving it? It`s essentially a politically -- there`s no cost
politically of using it. You don`t put boots on the ground, and it makes
it seem like there`s no human cost to war. I mean, the places we have
drone attacks, we`re waging essentially this massive kind of aerial
bombardment campaign where it`s very difficult for reporters to get there.
It`s very difficult put a faces to the victim, et cetera, et cetera.
And it`s something that the Obama administration has embraced. Vice
President Biden has, by his counterterrorism plus plan was very much relied
HAYES: You`re talking about not these two programs.
The Pentagon program, as far as I can tell is public. We have a
budget. We know what the budget is We know roughly how many planes there
are, where they`re operated out of and largely they`re used for tactical
reconnaissance for our actual soldiers who are on the ground in places is
HASTINGS: Right, essentially like our regular artillery, too, when
HAYES: Exactly. So -- but the CIA program is they don`t even -- the
government will not acknowledge it exists, even though everyone knows it
exists. You reported on it.
HASTINGS: It`s the biggest absurdity right now. I mean, we have --
when Leon Panetta was the head of the CIA, he said the drone was the only
game in town. President Obama has acknowledged that this drone program
After -- this is sort of funny -- after I did this story, I actually
got an e-mail from the administration who said, why didn`t you call for
comment about this? I said it`s a secret program. I mean, I`m going to
call to comment, you know, on a so-called secret program that you`re doing.
But this also leads it open to manipulation, political manipulation,
right? The government releases and leaks things when they want to say
something about it. And when there`s any kind of independent inquiry, they
can shut the inquiries down.
HAYES: Here`s Jay Carney being excruciatingly squirrely about the
existence of said drone programs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: The president in the Google Plus video chat, he
acknowledged for the first time the classified drones program, why did he
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`m sorry, can you be more
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: President Obama said that drone strikes
have not inflicted huge civilian casualties. How can the administration be
so certain that there hasn`t large civilian toll?
CARNEY: I`m not going to acknowledge or confirm any of that.
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: The former director of national intelligence,
retired General Dennis Blair, said yesterday that drone attacks --
unilateral drone attacks in Pakistan actually did more harm to U.S.
national security interests than good. Does the White House have any
opinion about these remarks?
CARNEY: We believe our relationship with Pakistan is essential to
fighting terrorism and terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: So that`s generally the way to go.
Goldie, it seems you want to say something.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, AUTHOR, "AN UNCIVIL WAR": You know, I`m the only
former military person at the table.
HASTINGS: Right, right.
TAYLOR: The very first words that I learned in public affairs school
in the military was I can neither confirm nor deny.
But, you know, the very nature of the enemy today is different than
20 years ago, 40 years ago, certainly 60 years ago. The landscape on which
we fight is so markedly different that it calls for a monumental sea change
in how we devise military strategy, the budgets that we align behind it,
the innovative -- you know, uses of technology out there.
And so, I may be one of the few folks on this panel who favors the
idea of targeting enemy combatants abroad, nameless or with name, you know,
for strike. The part --
HAYES: Even if they`re American citizen?
TAYLOR: Even if they`re American citizens --
HAYES: Like Anwar al-Awlaki.
HASTINGS: Even if they`re under 18.
TAYLOR: -- who have avowed themselves --
HASTINGS: Even their children.
TAYLOR: -- who has avowed themselves as an enemy of this country and
who are working in concert with others to strike Americans at home and
BURBANK: I`ll tell you what I think, (INAUDIBLE) like in Seattle,
where I`m from, the Seattle police department is one of a number of police
departments who have now filed a paperwork to get their own drones up and
running. I think once, you know, somebody living in a city like Seattle
starts to think about the idea that this drone is now surveiling them, it
may make some sort of a connection to what`s happening in --
HAYES: Those flood gates are opening as we speak.
HASTINGS: Look, I first started hearing about drones, literally
hearing about them when I was in Baghdad. I was in Baghdad for a number of
years, about two years off and on. Everyone you`d wake up, and I thought
it was lawn mower going around. But in fact, it was an American drone. In
Afghanistan, you`d see drones take off all the time.
I think the question is who are we keeping it secret from? The
Pakistanis know about the program.
BURBANK: Sometimes they fall out of the sky.
HASTINGS: And to Goldie`s point, I think the issue with the drone
program, I think politically, it`s defensible. It might be tactically
sound, but I think it`s morally indefensible.
I really think once --
HASTINGS: I think, no, I think you start firing missiles onto groups
of people you don`t know who they are, when it`s the CIA doing it, the CIA
has essentially become this paramilitary force. And you have I think over
a hundred, I mean, Clive will be able to speak to these numbers, the guess
who`s coming up next, but you have over a hundred people confirmed that are
under 18 that are killed in these signature strikes.
HAYES: One of them being Abdul Rahman Awlaki, who was 16-year-old
son of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed --
TAYLOR: Which I don`t even know if that`s oppose to what this
country says or its values at home. You know, we don`t have a lot of
hesitance of trying a 16-year-old for murder or even sending them to
capital punishment. So I don`t know if there is a difference of value
HAYES: Seamless garment of --
TAYLOR: There`s a seamless garment of immorality.
HAYES: Well, I want to turn to this moral issue. First -- before we
go to Clive Stafford Smith, who`s an international human rights attorney, I
just want to show this clip because the White House correspondent`s dinner
is tonight. And this -- I want to show Obama making a joke about drone use
in May 1st, 2010, to give you a sense of how distant we are from the
theater of war, how the drone is one more aspect of the way that the war
has happened over there, out of sight, out of mind.
Here`s President Obama joking about drones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Jonas brothers are
here. They are out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans.
But boys don`t get any ideas. I have two words for you: predator
drones. You will never see it coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to talk to someone who has been -- who has seen what
happens on the other side of the predator drone. What it looks like when
you don`t see it coming right after we take a break.
HAYES: Talking about the burgeoning drone industry and the use of
drone`s unmanned aircraft to fire missiles in theaters in the war on
Pam, you had a question -- an interesting question during the break.
PAMELA BROWN, OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT: Yes, I was just curious. You
know, what are the economics of drones? Who`s making their money off of
HASTINGS: There are now 40 countries opening their own drone
programs. The Israelis have been in the lead on the drones. I think right
now, it`s about a $6 billion a year industry. But it`s projected to grow
up to, we have an estimate, that`s like $60 billion in drone programs.
And the joke that President Obama made two years ago at the White
House correspondent`s dinner, it actually reminded me of the famous George
W. Bush joke where he was looking for weapons of mass destruction under the
table and couldn`t find them.
I mean, not to be a downer, but it just -- to me, having covered
these wars and seeing the impact on some of these violence people, both
Americans and the Iraqis and Afghanis, it`s a little tough.
HAYES: You talked about the projected growth of the predator drones.
And there`s this amazing line in the "New York Times" article that our
segment producer Todd Cole (ph) had found that we were all sort of
marveling over in the editorial meeting.
There is not a single new manned combat aircraft under research and
development under any major Western aerospace company. They are no longer
developing planning on the future manned aircraft.
HASTINGS: Why would you?
HAYES: Why would you, exactly, because this is now going to be the
future. And you read about in your article, Michael, that in the
beginning, Air Force pilots who are -- we`ve all seen "Top Gun" obviously,
although I guess they`re Navy pilots.
HAYES: Who are notoriously pretty macho characters.
HASTINGS: Unless they`re playing volleyball.
HAYES: That they, at first, did not want to be -- they were actually
pulled out of manned aircraft and forced to fly this joystick.
HASTINGS: There was a stigma attached to it. They actually have to
grab people as you said, ands put them in these programs. But now, it`s a
real career path. It`s something that if you want to be a pilot, you have
to be up on this drone technology.
HAYES: All right. We now have from Washington, D.C. joining us,
from the drone summit, Clive Stafford Smith, the founder and director of
Reprieve, a legal group that represents victims of the drone attacks.
Clive, how are you doing this morning?
CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH, REPRIEVE: Good morning.
HAYES: It`s great to have you.
My first question for you is, and people have been tweeting this
while we`re having this conversation and if you look at American public
opinion, there`s something like 80 percent for drone strikes, and that
extends Democrats and Republicans. You know, the Bush administration had a
policy that if you were the operating theater for terrorists who are
training, then the state itself was an enemy of the United States and we
would have -- we would essentially declare war on you and send troops in
the ground, et cetera.
The Obama administration has moved towards this counterterrorism
model in which if there`s training camp in Yemen, we`re not going to
declare war on Yemen, we`re not going to send troops into Yemen, we will
rain down missiles on the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula training camp.
Isn`t that better? I mean, isn`t that better? This is what`s people
seem -- the argument they`re making, if you`re choosing between boots on
the ground and this sort of tactical approach, isn`t the latter progress?
SMITH: Well, I don`t know. I think we got to talk about what the
alternatives are. And you accused that side of being squirrely before. I
just want people to have a debate, because I think we`re sleepwalking into
a process that I called the drone age, but ones that it sound, without any
And if you think about 1945, we`re set foot into a nuclear age where
there were all sorts of secret weapons out there. And for the last 68
years, we`ve been living with that.
What`s going on today is coming up on this very fast and we`re not
watching it. It`s one thing to talk about all of these theories. But, you
know, when I was in Pakistan in October, I saw the human reality of it and
there may be some people out there who trust to get it right all of the
time. I`m afraid I don`t.
And I was with this meeting with a bunch of people from Waziristan
and I was the token American. Forgive me with the accent, I know it sounds
British, but I`m American. And I was telling me -- don`t laugh at me,
that`s so unfair.
But I was telling them that the American official line was that we
did not kill any innocent people. And you didn`t have to speak Pashtun to
understand their response. They just snorted at me.
And one of the people I met there was a kid called Tariq Aziz (ph)
who was 16 years old and was angry because one of his cousins had been
killed with a drone missile. Well, three days later, our government killed
that child. I had shaken his hand that day and come to know him.
And when people tell me, oh, we get it right all the time, we don`t
kill civilians. I`m sorry. I don`t think I can use the word on air for
the way I described that. And we need a public debate. We`ve got to
discuss what`s really going on out there.
HAYES: I want -- I want to make a point and play a little bit of
sound from an al-Jazeera documentary on a strike that happened in Yemen.
And this was not actually -- I was talking to my colleague Jeremy
Scahill yesterday about this topic. And he`s obviously done a tremendous
amount of reporting on this.
And he made the point that I think is important, is that the drone is
one tool for implementing the broader policy, which sometimes in Somalia
has been implemented with gunships that come down, have been down with
cruise missiles, have been done with actual JSOC forces that go in.
Obviously, the raid of Osama bin Laden was a drone was doing
reconnaissance, but it`s actual boots on the ground that were doing it.
Here`s a small bit of a tomahawk missile strike authorized by an
Obama administration in Yemen in 2009, and it killed we think about 46
people. Check this out.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HAYES: Clive, I guess the question for you is: if there are civilian
casualties and it seems by all accounts outside of the protestations of
John Brennan that there are, is this just a mistake of the sort of tactical
means by which we`re doing the targeting? Is it possible to have a drone
program that was free of civil ran casualties?
SMITH: Well, of course not, and certainly not with the intelligence
that they use. I mean, you have to remember where they get their
information from. It`s the same that put all of those people in Guantanamo
Bay. And I was in Guantanamo earlier this week. We were paying $5,000 to
any snitch who wanted to give us information about someone to take to
Guantanamo or here to kill. And, you know, $5,000 in those parts of the
world is the equivalent to a quarter of a million dollars to us.
And I ask you at the table that, you know, to look to the person next
to you and tell me where there`s a quarter of a million dollars, you would
say they were in Taliban.
SMITH: I knew some of you would come way down.
But this is the problem. I mean, we`re told we`re getting this great
intelligence. I`m here to tell you it`s absolute nonsense. And I`ve met
the people who have been killed.
The reason Tariq got killed was because some informant with a GPS tag
on his car said he was a bad dude and kaboom, he`s dead.
And when you pay informants, it`s much easier for them to finger
nobodies than it is to finger Bin Laden or whomever. So, that`s happened
and it`s inevitable. And we need it to be open, not secret, so we can see
HAYES: Clive Stafford Smith, a humans right attorney, stick with us.
We`re going to talk more about this and how exactly -- we`re going to
precipitate on more transparent debate on this right after this break.
HAYES: Clive Stafford Smith live from D.C.
Goldie, I want to get your take on this conversation because you said
in the beginning you broadly support this strategy. And it is hard to -- I
think -- first of all, I think, in order to have the debate on the policy,
which we`re not having at all --
HAYES: -- if you look at the videos and you shake the hands of the
people that we are killing or innocent and then conclude that that`s worth
it, that`s one thing. But we`re not even in that step. I think it`s fair
to say that when people are saying they`re support it, we`re not seeing the
Do you think the cost is worth it? Is that fundamentally your
feeling about the approach?
TAYLOR: I think the cost is exceedingly high. Whether boots on the
ground or drones in the air, the idea that we`re going ah to have civilian
collateral cost is something that is a constant, you know, because war is
an ugly, ugly thing. But I think, as I said in the break, you know, I
always go back for those who fight for it, freedom has a taste that the
protectant will never know.
So over the last several years, we have seen a near decimation of al
Qaeda and its leadership. I think that leaves this country a bit safer,
even though there are still threats around the world.
I think that, you know, there were, and sometimes we forget, you
know, thousands of people who went to work one morning to type or do a
trade or do whatever it is they do for a living. And then two buildings
came crashing down.
BURBANK: Right. But do you really think we forget that? I mean,
because this -- my point is, that happened --
TAYLOR: I actually think --
TAYLOR: -- I actually think that we get so far away from something
that we forget the cost.
BURBANK: I think it defines so much of what happened in this
country. And that was a one-off in my opinion. I mean, that was
statistically so improbable that it worked out for the bad guys, that the
fact that they confiscate my Pert Plus in the airport because somebody
knocked a building down 10 years ago. And I`m not trying to be glib.
HAYES: But I also think -- the point you`re making, right, the
horror and rage that one feels at the motion of death raining down from the
sky on civilians, that`s exactly what you saw on that tape. That`s exactly
what we saw on that tape in which now we are the implementer on.
And so, if you feel watching those buildings come down, like we all
felt, horror and rage, there`s o a certain amounted of horror and rage that
will be provoked in people that see five pregnant women have death rain
down above them.
Clive, I want to go to you to respond to Goldie, because I think what
Goldie is articulating is broadly the popular opinion in the country. I
mean, it certainly reflect my Twitter feed right now, but I think that`s
probably the feeling I think among liberals, among Democrats.
I think that it`s a horrible thing. But war is ugly and this is far,
far superior to the host of bad alternatives.
SMITH: Well, and I accept that war is ugly. I think one thing that
we must not lose sight of here, is this isn`t about much more than war.
You know, when you think about nuclear weapons, we then have nuclear power
and we had Three Mile Island than we needed regulation and discussion about
how that should go about.
You know, Michael talks in his excellent article about some of the
other uses of drones. And I`m here to warn you that I`ve got a drone. I
bought it on the Internet. It cost me 300 bucks. And if you guys don`t
behave yourself, I`ll bring --
SMITH: Seriously, though, there are so many other uses of drones.
If you come to London for the 2012 Olympics in two months and you`re most
welcome, we`re going to drone you. We`re going to fly drones over you
head, and the British police will watch everything you do.
You know, the CIA has already admitted that they have this sort of
pizza size things that can hover outside your bedroom window for as long as
they want. The British are already spying on British people doing that.
So we need to have a much bigger debate. We mustn`t be afraid. We
mustn`t allow people to say, you know, you might all get killed by al
Qaeda, so let`s just let people do whatever they want.
I think the essence of what we`ve been discussing this morning is
there really needs to be a debate before our lives change into dystopian
1980 sci-fi movie.
HAYES: For it to be a debate, I want to find out what you think we
need to know that we do not now know. And, Michael, I`ll get your response
to that right after we take a quick break.
HAYES: Clive Stafford Smith, you were just discussing the fact that
we need a debate as a first step about the policy. And there`s a lot that
we don`t know about how the drone program, specifically the CIA`s drone
program, which we all think was responsible for the strike against, for
instance, Anwar al-Awlaki, how that operates.
What do you think that we do need to know to make that debate
happened that we don`t currently?
SMITH: Well, I mean, for example, we know they take videos of all of
their drone strikes. Why won`t they let us see them? I mean, that would
be one way to see what`s really going on. And then we can see
transparently who`s getting killed.
But we need to go much farther than that, in this whole drone
business. And what you`re doing today, having a discussion is the
beginning of a very important debate. And we`re doing that here in
Washington, D.C., and all Americans need to be discussing how these drones
need again to affect their lives in the upcoming drone age, and we need to
set some rules to make sure we don`t get in the model that we have of the
nuclear path or something.
HAYES: Michael, you have a question?
HASTINGS: Clive, what legal action can the human rights community
take? I mean, you`ve done some of the most important work on Guantanamo?
We had this conversation in London. What legal action can they take to get
more information on drones? And what`s the -- and is the end game to shut
the program down?
SMITH: Oh, Michael, we`ll be here all week if you want to know what
legal actions we`re going to bring them all around the world. And I`d love
to go into it, but you probably don`t have time.
But what we want to do is not shut any program down. I`m interested
in telling the world what they can and can`t do. I`m interested in us
having an open discussion with the facts. And when the CIA whistles the
way they did in that clip you ran, then you`re not getting the true facts.
That`s what we want from government first, but from some of these
corporations as well.
HASTINGS: So, they`d be lawsuits all aro8und the world on this drone
SMITH: Excuse me. Sorry?
HASTINGS: They`d be lawsuits. You`re going to be bringing lawsuits
against different governments?
SMITH: There are lots of lawsuits. No, I`m having so much fun on
that, but it is really entertaining, because they`re doing some pretty
wicked things. And when they killed that kid, Tariq, in Pakistan, that
really annoyed me. And, yes, we`re suing them in Britain, we`re suing in
Pakistan, we`ll sue them here ere in America.
But, ultimately, what we want out of this is a big debate, like we
had over the Iraq war, like we had with other things. And the fact that 80
percent of Americans support it now is going to change when you`re going to
let the real facts, where you`re going to start looking at these things
Clive Stafford Smith, you work with Reprieve, an international human
rights organization. You were at the first ever, I think, drone conference
-- drone summit happening in Washington, D.C. Thank you so much for
joining us this morning. I really appreciate it.
SMITH: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last
week? My answers after this.
HAYES: All right. So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last
We now know that total student debt in this country has passed the $1
trillion mark. And we know it is growing at a rate twice the rate of which
mortgage debt grew during the housing bubble.
We also know that the student debt crisis is a symptom of our social
crisis, not its cause. And that creating the society in which social
mobility is real and not an illusion will require a radical rethinking of
the role and purpose of not just higher education, but the entire public
sphere more broadly.
In the wake of Tuesday`s Pennsylvania primary results, we know now,
two blue dogs who will no longer be in Congress, Tim Holden and Jason
Altmire, Democratic incumbents with 13 terms between them were both
unseated by Democratic primary opponents who both attacked them from the
left over both men support for the 2011 Republican balance budget
amendment. We know that few things concentrate the mind like primary
challenges and the effects on the caucus ripple out far from the individual
We now know it`s not just corporations fleeing the American
Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. In the wake of revelations of the
role it played in pushing through the Florida`s controversial stand your
ground law, Democratic state legislatures are as well. A number of
progressives have targeted the 76 Democrats nationwide who are members of
ALEC. And so far, 21 Dems have dropped their members, with three state
senators in Nebraska being the most recent to drop it.
We now know that, yes, you can use laws and constitutional due
process to prosecute members of al Qaeda. Right now, the Department of
Justice is prosecuting a man accused of plotting to blow up targets in New
York subway system. And the case has somewhat remarkably almost entirely
escaped the attention of the national press, even though it`s not taking
place in Guantanamo Bay, but in Brooklyn, New York.
We know two of the other suspects have already guilty and we know
that the mundane application of courtroom rules of evidence may be
insufficiently dramatic, and testosterone producing for the chest-thumping
reactionaries who demagogue the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trail.
We also know the sheer routine nature of the trial is a victory for
those who contend that our justice system can handle accused terrorists.
And, finally, via viewer and tweeter Tina Winset (ph), we know that
the University of Florida will not be dumping its computer science
department so as to save $1.7 million from the budget after a preliminary
announcement prompted, and justifiable uproar on campus.
We know the proposed cuts were largely a result of a $300 million
statewide budget cut across all of Florida`s universities. But never fear,
Gator, we know the university`s athletic budget at $97.9 million increase
by about $2 million this year, with the same amount as the computer science
I want to find out what my guests know now that they didn`t know when
the week began.
Let`s start with you, Goldie Taylor. What do you know?
TAYLOR: Well, first, Tina Winset is one of my absolute Twitter
TAYLOR: We are in constant conversation about food and children and
everything else. But what I know is that education is disruptive to
poverty. And so, while we`re having this conversation about student loans
and the Pell Grants and other things, we are missing an entire conversation
on quality basic education for children who never ever get to see the light
of day for a college campus, let alone get themselves out of high school.
And so when we look at, you know, where the conversation is not, it
is not on breaking the cycle of poverty in inner city communities which by
the way also breaks the cycle of violence in other things, including
absentee parentism, and all those other issues that surround this.
I think this country is more invested in containing poverty,
pacifying those who are interested and, you know, placating those who are
trapped in demonizing it.
HAYES: A huge part of the some college group that we talked about,
people who enter college but don`t complete, a lot of that has to do with
what kind of education they`re getting, K through 12. And if you just
don`t improve K through 12 education --
TAYLOR: That`s right.
HAYES: -- you funnel people into college and they are not prepared,
what you`ll get are a lot of people --
TAYLOR: Get out of it, what you bring to it. And if we can`t
educate our children, we`ll lose.
HAYES: Michael Hastings, what do you know now?
HASTINGS: Well, this past week, I did a story for BuzzFeed,
everyone`s new favorite Web site on the women in the Obama campaign. I
don`t know if your viewers are familiar with this -- there`s been the
reputation around the Obama campaign being a boy`s club. But, in fact, the
three deputy campaign managers at the campaign headquarters in Chicago are
three powerful women, and veteran campaign operatives, Stephanie Cutter,
Julianna Smoot, and Jennifer O`Malley Dillon.
I also know when the Obama campaign finds out you`re doing the story,
and they think it might be about the boys` club, you`ll receive a very
angry phone call from a certain campaign official in Chicago. I`m not
going to say who -- you know who I`m talking about, and will try to get you
to not do a boys club story.
But it was really interesting to see how those women also have been
crucial, in Debbie Wassermann Schultz as well and she called it
(INAUDIBLE), how crucial they have been in pushing the war on women and
HAYES: Pam Brown, what do you now know?
BROWN: Well, next week is going to be May Day, May 1st which is a
holiday celebrated around the world. But that we have not celebrated here
in the United States. What I didn`t know that I learned this week is that
it actually in 1896 about eight activists were killed in Chicago when
protesting to get our right to enact our work day, and that was actually
triggered this holiday.
But here in the United States, we celebrated it in September. So
this will be the first time that we are actually commemorating that day
HAYES: On May 1st, we`re going to do a whole bunch on the labor
movement and Occupy May 1st on tomorrow show, which I`m really excited
BROWN: Oh, great.
HAYES: The history of May Day is truly fascinating
Luke Burbank, what do you now know?
BURBANK: If you are in Florida and you go into McDonald`s and you
ask them for a cup of water and go up to the self-serve soda machine, do
not put soda puff in that water cup, because you will be charged to a third
degree felony. It happened to a guy in Florida this week. He is facing
five years, $5,000 fine, for doing the thing that we`ve all considered in
our mind which is are they going to notice if I don`t put the water in
here, but if I get -- and here is my point with this, Chris, when they
HAYES: Thirty seconds.
BURBANK: When they moved the soda out into the population, they let
the inmates run the asylum.
HAYES: There was an exquisite recognition from the corporate
overlords at McDonalds that this going to be a little bit of a loss leader,
BURBANK: Don`t put the cotton candy machine in the center of the day
care and say, kids, don`t eat this stuff.
HAYES: All right. My thanks to Goldie Taylor of the Goldie Taylor
Project, Michael Hastings, author of "The Operators: The Wild and
Terrifying Inside Story of America`s War in Afghanistan", Pam Brown from
Occupy Student Debt, and Luke Burbank from the wonderful podcast "Too
Beautiful to Live" -- thank you so much for getting up.
Thank you for joining us for UP and join us tomorrow morning, Sunday
morning at 8:00 when we`ll have Congressman Jerry Nadler and American
Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.
You can get more info about tomorrow show on Twitter by following Up
with Chris, and live tweet the show by using #uppers.
Coming up next is Melissa Harris Perry.
Melissa, what have you got today?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: No one from BuzzFeed, but, you
HAYES: Maybe you`ll show some wallcast (ph).
HARRIS-PERRY: But we are going to be talking about how to get young
voters to participate in this election cycle which, you know, as a parent
of a young person not quite old enough to vote, I admit that we got out the
toys. We`ve got Legos. We`ve got Barbies. It`s going to be great.
Also, on a much more serious topic, after the Arab spring, a year
after those revolutions, what is the role of women in the post Arab -- kind
of Arab spring Middle East? We are going to talk about all of that this
HAYES: Yes, Mona Eltahawy had a controversial piece in foreign
policy entitled, provocatively, "Why do they hate us?"
HARRIS-PERRY: And she is going to join us.
HAYES: Oh, that`s fantastic. Oh, that`s a great booking because
that`s getting some a lot of attention.
That`s Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00, thanks for getting up.
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