'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
September 23, 2012
Guests: Rula Jebreal, Irshad Manji, Reza Aslan, Emil Henry, Robert Wolf, Thomas Frank, Maya Wiley, Garance Franke-Ruta, David France, Alexis Goldstein, Amin Husain
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is heading for New York to attend this
week`s U.N. General Assembly meeting. It`s his first trip to the U.S.
since taking office in June. There is an interview with him in today`s
"New York Times" I would highly recommend checking out, and Libyan
authorities announced late last night that any armed groups not authorized
by the state would be broken up after Libyan protesters stormed the
headquarters of several Islamist militias. More on Libya in just a moment.
Right now, joining me today, we have Irshad Manji, author of "Allah,
Liberty and Love: the Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom" and director
of the Moral Courage Project, at New York University, which is a great name
for a center of study.
IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR: You are smirking.
HAYES: No, I didn`t think it`s great to be like, what are you doing? It`s
like, oh, I just run a Moral Courage Project.
HAYES: What do you do? Thomas Frank, author of "Pity the Billionaire:
the Hard Time Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right" and a
columnist at "Harper`s" magazine. And Reza Aslan returning to program,
author of "No God but God: the Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam,"
and adjunct senior fellow as the council on the foreign relations. And
MSNBC contributor, Rula Jebreal, also a contributor to "Newsweek." It`s
great to have you all here.
MANJI: Thank you.
HAYES: On Friday night, we saw a remarkable turn of events in Libya. Tens
of thousands of protesters seized control of the headquarters of several
Islamist militias and turned them over to the provisional government. At
least 11 people were killed in the clashes. One of the militia groups the
protesters drove from its base is blamed for the attack on the U.S.
consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three
other Americans. The attack was first reported -- and by the attack I mean
the attack on the four Americans -- was first reported as part of a
spontaneous mob reaction to a 14 minute anti-Muslim American film trailer
on Youtube, and was associated in the press with demonstrations outside the
U.S. embassy in Cairo, that breach the compound`s security perimeter. But
it`s becoming increasingly clear that the attack in Benghazi was a
meticulously premeditated assault, not the spontaneous outburst of so-
called Muslim rage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What happened in Benghazi was a
terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and
brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the anger in the streets seems to be
focused on the anti-Muslim video. As many as 19 people died in violence
that erupted there on Friday. The Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez
Ashraf has asked the United Nations to come up with a resolution banning
hate speech across the word. On Wednesday, the U.N. Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon was quoted as saying, "When some people use this freedom of
expression to provoke or humiliate some others` values and beliefs, then
this cannot be protected in such a way." Not sure about that. Ban`s
comment came the same day a French weekly published a cartoon lampooning
the Prophet Muhammad.
Here`s what I want to talk about first, because there is a lot. And so, I
first of want to make this -- the point upfront. That what ends up
happening, and I am as guilty of this as anyone, because I am not an expert
in the Muslim world at all. Everything gets sort of bundled together. So,
it`s like, they, over there are freaking out. It`s kind of the story. But
then it`s like well, actually, 10,000 people were in the street in Sana`a
in Yemen to protest immunity for Saleh, who was the dictatorial, propped up
U.S. dictator who has since been pushed out, and people in Egypt have some
other complaints, and people in Tunisia have -- might some other specific
complaints. So I want to sort of just aggregate a little bit, just sort of
-- Let`s talk about Libya first. Because to me, what`s amazing is, the
story we have heard about Libya was an upsetting and terrifying one. It
was, there`s some video on Youtube that you have never heard of. And by
you, I mean American news consumer, that someone found in Libya, and now
people freak out, and four Americans are dead. Murdered. And that is not
the story at all. Right? I mean, we are now learning that that isn`t what
happened at all. How should that change how we understand the story of
what is happening right now?
THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR: Surprise. Chris. The elites got it wrong again.
HAYES: That`s right.
FRANK: The media screwed up. What`s going on here?
HAYES: Well, the media screwed up and also, but government -- just engaged
in -- and by the government I mean the Obama administration and what they
said I think distorted the story quite a bit.
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR "NO GOD BUT GOD": That`s absolutely true. And this is
the thing that was most disturbing to me. Is the way that Jay Carney and
Susan Rice and even President Obama kept spinning it as though this was a
spontaneous protest. Because frankly, I think that`s a better -- that
gives them a little bit more of an umbrella of protection to say that this
was a spontaneous ...
HAYES: You say political protection?
ASLAN: Than to admit that this was an actual al-Qaeda-inspired
assassination of an American ambassador. That`s a difficult thing to talk
about. Because then questions come up, about -- well, why didn`t we know
about it? Et cetera, how -- why didn`t we stop it?
MANJI: And I think one of the most underappreciated aspects of the story
and I think you alluded to it there in your intro, Chris, is how moderate
Muslims have really stepped up and made their voices heard in this --in
this entire scenario. I mean, you know, I won`t speak for the other three
on the panel by any stretch, but for me, this is the first time that I have
seen images of moderates holding up signs, "We love you, America. This is
not who we are. Please forgive us. God bless Chris Stevens, and for
anybody to say that because of what`s happened it`s all doom and gloom, I`m
thinking, oh my God, it`s actually the opposite.
MANJI: You guys have been calling for moderates ...
MANJI: ... to come out of the woodwork, here they are. Now give them
MANJI: Now, give them credit.
RULA JEBREAL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. There was another aspect that was
very disturbing. The way the media here in the U.S. used that. And you
have a cover from "Newsweek" saying "Muslim Outrage," and they are all the
same. And people speaking -- I mean there`s an industry here of
Islamophobic groups ...
HAYES: Yes. Right.
JEBREAL: That used this for political reasons. And I`m sorry to say that,
but then the people that say don`t vote for Obama because secretly he`s a
Muslim. And you know is that to say, we are in war with Islam. Not even
with extremists, or al-Qaeda, with Islam. It confuses actually and
undermines the work of these mothers that -- about that she talks about.
That Reza talks about. In the end of the day, there`s a war within the
Arab world between moderates and extremists.
JEBREAL: And what`s happening there, the battle that`s taking -- and even
the dialogue that is taking place, it shows you how the government that won
in Tunisia, in Egypt and in Libya, they are fighting every day against
these extremists that exploit this kind of videos.
HAYES: Although I think we should distinguish. I mean, the fascinating
thing here is the elections in Libya were -- the Islamist parties did very
poorly. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood essentially didn`t show in the
JEBREAL: That`s why they are protesting.
HAYES: That`s not the case in Egypt, where famously the Muslim Brotherhood
did win, and Mohammed Morsi, who is coming to New York and gave an
interview to "The New York Times," which is a fascinating interview, and he
is a fascinating figure. The point that you made here is, I want to
contrast the last iteration we had of this kind of issue, which was the
famous Danish cartoons in 2006. That was -- I mean -- you know, that --
people freaked out.
I mean, people freaked out and people died as a result. And as a
journalist, right, you feel on the horns of this dilemma. And I want to
get to the horns of the dilemma. First, I want to talk about -- what is
different now between 2006 Danish cartoons, because I think the American
media had the script in mind of that, and that`s the story they have been
writing. But what is happening in the Arab world post- Arab Spring is
ASLAN: Two things. One is, as opposed to the protest of the Danish
cartoons, this isn`t a top-down thing. So, in other words, in 2006, you
had Mubarak and Saleh and Gadhafi, who were actually promoting these
protests, using them as a way to stoke anti-American sentiment. At the
height of the Iraq war, 2006, at the height of the war on terror, which was
I think quite rightly seen across the region as a war against Islam and a
deeply anti-American time. In 2012, this is very much a ground up thing.
I mean these are just spontaneous protests. People who are, in some ways,
actually offended by the film, but also who are using the film as a pretext
for their own political agendas. And so, we have something that now we
didn`t have back then, which is this sort of the company of voices, other
voices who have an opportunity to make themselves heard in a way that under
a dictator they would not. And then the second thing, and this is
important, too, because it goes against this narrative about how this is an
indication of Obama`s failure in the Middle East. Is that in 2006, the
middle of the Muslim world also joined these protests because it was very
easy to see them as part of the larger issue of ...
HAYES: Resistance against ...
ASLAN: Yeah, war against Islam, I mean, you know, anti-Bush, et cetera.
ASLAN: This time, the middle has just sort of ignored it.
ASLAN: They`ve ignored the ...
ASLAN: Yeah, and they fought against it, indeed.
JEBREAL: Yeah, when they start -- sorry, when they start speaking, saying
this is actually hurting us much more ...
ASLAN: Right Exactly.
JEBREAL: ... than the cartoon itself, than the clip itself. You know, you
see online (ph) for the first time in history, a debate where the Muslims
are not the central of this debate. They are not actually heroes or the
promoters. They are the people that are seen as, you know what, you are
actually disturbing your image. You are destroying your -- (inaudible)
HAYES: You are saying in ...
JEBREAL: Within the Arab world, within the Arab media. And for the first
time, that`s - even the leader of al-Azhar (ph), even the leaders, their
biggest imam, they are confused and they don`t know what to say and what to
do. And so, and they would love for the first time I have seen an
interview, I mean I couldn`t believe it, Imam Al-Azhar (ph), saying, I
would like actually to understand how Americans think and how they think
not only of our culture, how do they think that their freedom of speech,
when it humiliates millions of people, how do you think that will affect
the way we see them?
MANJI: Hard to -- hard to recall that, you know, in 2005, at the height of
the cartoon crisis, social media wasn`t nearly as developed as it is now.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
MANJI: And so, there haven`t been -- there weren`t as many opportunities
back then for moderates to get their voices heard, to push back, Rula, as
you say. Today, of course, that`s a very, very different scenario. And
that`s exactly what we are saying.
JEBREAL: I`m not sure, in 2006, here in America, in the West, we wanted to
hear these moderates, because the whole debate was, you know what? This is
our agenda. This is what we want to do ...
JEBREALI: This is they way we see the Arab world, and that`s it.
HAYES: I want to talk about how this public`s fear has developed, and also
some extremely disturbing comments out of Pakistan today, and the railways
minister -- I didn`t think I`ll be talking about the Pakistani ...
HAYES: Right. Exactly. That was for two hours. We have to take a break.
HAYES: So, there`s two arguments that people make. There`s a
philosophical argument about liberal values, right, which is that, you
know, the famous line about the answer to a bad speech is more speech. And
that`s this fundamental kind of liberal belief. And part of what I`m
hearing from you is that that is, at some level, playing out a bit right
now in the post-Arab Spring world, which is that the restrictive public
sphere of (inaudible) basically state media and Salafi media have been the
only alternatives, has now being replaced by a broader and more spacious
public sphere, where there`s now these internal debates happening.
The other argument that we have heard in the wake of the Arab Spring and
the elections in Egypt particularly, right, which has created this big
dilemma, I think, for American foreign policy, right, which is we no longer
have the client dictator. We now have a democratic nation, but they have
chosen to elect Muslim Brotherhood representative. Is -- will the Muslim
Brotherhood empower, act in a way that is thought more responsible than
they would out of power? And I think we have seen some very interesting
evidence. What is your sense of - how the Muslim Brotherhood regime in
Egypt has comported itself with respect to this in the wake of the
ASLAN: Well, look at -- look at what happened with Morsi, right? The --
when the film first came out, Morsi really seemed to side with the Salafis,
the people on the right who are really giving him a lot of pressure saying
that, you know, he`s not really representing Egypt. He`s on this knife
ASLAN: ... between, you know, the people who helped elect him and the
government, the United States that helps support him. And as soon as Obama
put a little bit of pressure on him, he realized that he`s no longer a
member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He`s no longer the opposition. He`s
responsible for an entire nation. And that 180 ...
ASLAN: ... where he immediately began condemning the violence, talking
about, you know, he condemned the movie as well.
ASLAN: But ...
HAYES: He`s not going to endorse the movie.
ASLAN: Yes. But condemned the violence and came out and called for peace,
for peaceful protests. I think that`s what we want to see from the regime-
JEBREAL: You are right to a certain extent. I think the interview ...
HAYES: You were just in the region, by the way, right?
JEBREAL: Yes, I was visiting (ph) in Egypt. And it`s fascinating to see
that. I think it`s like Obama in the beginning. I`m sorry -- I don`t want
even to compare. But he`s still not fully the president of Egypt. He`s
still understanding whether he`s still the Muslim leader or because that`s
why he was hesitant in talking in the beginning. He didn`t step in. But
you know what? The interesting thing about, if Mubarak was in place, he
would have (inaudible) and brutally suppressed the mobs.
JEBREAL: Brutally. Used them in the beginning, but then suppressed them
to show his power to the U.S. What he did, he actually opened up a little
bit saying this is, you know, this is freedom of speech.
JEBREAL: We will use that. At the same time, when it became violent, the
police, he didn`t give a straight order. Look, the rule of law, which is
the principle of any democracy, equal citizenship, rule of law,
accountability, these are non-negotiable.
JEBREAL: He did not step into that immediately. And that shows that he is
ASLAN: He is working on it.
JEBREAL: ... figuring it out whether he`s really representing all
Egyptians or not. The only positive things, and I`m sorry to add this, is
that he immediately said don`t attack Christians, because he knew ...
JEBREAL: That`s what ...
MANJI: Right. Do you guys think, though, that ultimately because Egypt is
the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, that at the end of the
day or even in the middle of the day, Morsi is going to need to convey all
of the right signals to the U.S. government?
ASLAN: Let`s be clear.
MANJI: Do you think that factor matters?
ASLAN: The Egyptian military ...
MANJI: Is it military?
JEBREAL: He wants to dismiss the military. And what he did this summer
was a clear sign. Look, I`m the civil government. I`m the one in charge.
I`m the guy that`s running the show today. You talk to me. And I use the
money that`s the way I want. I think that it`s appropriate. Appropriate.
When he said lately in a declaration said America needs to partner with us,
we are not subordinate ...
JEBREAL: And they don`t control us through their power. They don`t buy
the consensus, the way they did with Mubarak. I think it was a very smart
call on that.
HAYES: His interview in "The New York Times" is just fascinating. Because
he is a fascinating figure and he is a fascinating figure for precisely the
reason you are saying, which is that, you know, when we saw -- I think
watching the Arab Spring from across many miles here in the U.S., there`s
this incredible feeling of hope, and then there`s this sort of worry about
what is being unleashed. And there was a sort of back and forth. And to
watch this government confronted with this issue. I mean, they had called
for protests of the film, right? Officially Muslim Brotherhood sponsored
protests. And then withdrew that call, right after the president --
President Obama very pointedly referred to them not quite as an ally in his
The place now where it seems that this is the most worrisome is now in
Pakistan. I mean in Pakistan, we are seeing something that to me, looks a
lot more like the 2006 Danish cartoon. I mean, you have 19 dead. You have
buildings being burned. You have -- today, this is news we just got. So,
this is the federal minister for railways in Pakistan, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour,
in Saturday announced 100,000 bounty on the American who produced the film.
I announced today this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet. If
somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000. I
also invite Taliban and al-Qaeda brothers to be partners in this noble
HAYES: That`s interesting.
MANJI : I`m running for office and the elections are soon.
FRANK: Yeah, that`s right. That`s true.
HAYES: That`s right.
JEBREAL: The guy is campaigning. There`s elections very soon in Pakistan.
Let`s take into consideration that.
HAYES: He also is ...
JEBREAL: I`m not justifying, but the guy is obviously using any kind of
leverage to go over ...
FRANK: By the way, is he going to pay in Krugerrands? Or what`s the deal
FRANK: What`s the Pakistani currency today?
JEBREAL: But now, there is also something else. You know, for a while we
suspected that the Pakistani, his al-Qaeda helped them whatever. Until we
-- until bin Laden was killed by the troops, nobody actually pointed
directly the finger to the Pakistani government. Nor they are saying it,
obviously, clearly. I mean they (inaudible) received so much money, this
goes directly to the army, and the army controls the country.
HAYES: And here is -- this politician who is -- who is -- who is -- is in
the very fringe party ...
HAYES: That got about 2 (ph) percent of the vote, that`s part of the
broader ruling coalition. This is not ...
ASLAN: Yes. It`s called the Awami National Party, right? So they
represent about two percent of the parliament, but they are a Pashtun
nationalist party -- that - whose constituency is primarily the Northwest
Frontier Province, which is the province that we daily bomb with drones. I
mean his constituents are the people who are on a regular basis being
killed by these bombs. So, this is just an opportunity for him to really
use that intense anti-Americanism in Pakistan, which is real ...
ASLAN: ... as a way -- as Rula was saying, to sort of ...
HAYES: I don`t know, but let me just say, I mean, first of all, we should
say that the prime minister spokesperson had absolutely disassociated
ASLAN: His own party.
HAYES: His own party has, so that`s the (inaudible). It`s still a
horrific thing to say, and also, I mean, you would hope they guy gets fired
over this sort of thing. I mean, you can`t call for bounties on people`s
ASLAN: I think he will.
HAYES: In agreement ...
JEBREAL: He will.
HAYES: This is outside the bounds of ...
JEBREAL: Why hasn`t there been a Pakistani spring?
ASLAN: Well, I think part of it has to do ...
HAYES: That`s an interesting question.
ASLAN: Yeah, I mean -- the society in Pakistan is so complex, I mean not
just economically stratified, but there is really a sense that the politics
of it, where, you know, this is a military regime despite the fact that
there`s a veneer of democracy. That the politics of it is almost futile in
that country. I mean, you have these politicians who generation after
generation are in the same position over and over again. Enormous amount
of corruption. Enormous ineptitude, and there`s a sense amongst most
Pakistanis that it just doesn`t matter.
HAYES: Well, and I also wonder the degree to which it`s -- you know,
Pakistan remains the frontline on the war on terror. And we were talking
about this 2006 atmosphere of intense polarization, of siege mentality on
behalf of people that felt like, you know, when we had 150,000 troops next
door in Iraq. That in Pakistan, that remains much more the case. I mean,
we are talking about drone attacks in the Northwest Province. That sense
of being in the midst of battle on the front lines of this sort of
ASLAN: By every definition of the word, we are at war with Pakistan. We
have since 2006, killed almost 4,000 Pakistanis. That`s a war. It`s just
a war being fought like a video game.
HAYES: Because we have -- because Pakistan is a place where -- is so
intense and so conflicted and complicated in terms of our relationship, you
said the U.S. government is now, so this is now where we get to the
question of what you do when some bizarre character, it looks like the guy
who made this film. I mean the story behind the film is like out of some
satirical novel about the future. And you -- I can`t believe it`s actually
real. This is the U.S. government running an ad in Pakistan with the seal
of the American embassy in Islamabad, featuring President Obama and
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the film. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Since our
founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We
reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there
is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me state very clearly and I
hope it is obvious that the United States government had absolutely nothing
to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.
America`s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning
of our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to ask you guys if we should be running that ad right after
we take this break.
HAYES: So, there`s been -- there`s been this right wing conservative
attack about on the administration both for running this ad and for seeming
to apologize, right? And it does seem like you are walking a very fine
line, frankly. Because you want to make very clear to people, this is not
some official American -- We as government did not make this ridiculous
film. At the same time, that, you know, that`s how you roll here. You are
allowed to make ridiculous films blaspheming whoever. Do you guys ...
FRANK: No, I do it.
HAYES: Thanks, Frank. That`s when you are being--
FRANK: Hey, insulting people`s values, now that`s the name of the game.
HAYES: Yes, that`s true. In the American context. You are very good at
ASLAN: I think, I think, you know, it turns out Michele Bachmann is right,
that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House. But look,
this is the part of the world, in which the concept that the government
does not control the levers of communication ...
ASLAN: ... is just unimaginable.
FRANK: Right. Right.
ASLAN: So of course we need to explain that.
FRANK: So, we`re doing it as just as a straight-up informational thing,
you know. Fair enough.
MANJI: But I will say I have to admit, that I have been troubled as a
liberal, I`ve been troubled by the routine references by this
administration in America to the fact that they found the -- you know the
video repugnant, abhorrent, OK, so you did. But the repeated
acknowledgment of this makes me think that, you know, there isn`t as strong
a pride in what makes America America, freedom of speech, freedom of
FRANK: I would add ...
FRANK: Let`s go one step further than that. What makes America America is
like giving one another offense. Do you ever turn on the TV, guys, do you
ever go to a Hollywood movie? I mean it`s like -- let me take this a step
in a kind of abstract direction. You know, if you live out in the Midwest
where they don`t make movies and they don`t make TV shows, then all of your
culture is beamed into you from these two coasts of the world and it`s
massively insulting to you ...
FRANK: OK, and it makes you angry. It pisses you off. You know, of
course, you know, we don`t, in this country, we don`t riot.
ASLAN: Because we have jobs and we have homes and we have cars.
FRANK: But this is a story of the culture wars, we live in a culture that
lives to give offense and to take offense. What`s the name of the
biography of Sarah Palin?
FRANK: "The Persecution of Sarah Palin." Right? This is all about
cataloging the offense that our culture gives, and people like Chris and I
deal out on a regular basis.
HAYES: Thank you. Thank you.
JEBREAL: You are right. I mean for a long time, I worked in the state
television in Egypt. I mean I have to tell you, I would have received
phone calls daily, on daily basis, from that -- from officials and even
from security apparatus telling me what to do and how to do it, and who to
interview or who not. So for them, when we have 60 percent of the Arab
Muslims who are under 25.
JEBREAL: So, what do you do to them? You actually send messages like this
to tell them look, America is different. Because, you know, America is the
one that supported their dictators. For them, we need to turn the page
around in a different positive way. And that`s a good way.
HAYES: You know, you know, when you talk about culture war, I thought
about it on this film, because I think part of it was weird, is like no one
had heard of it. Is that -- this is this thing on Youtube, and now it`s
all of a sudden on the news.
HAYES: And I thought about that back in -- I forget when it was that Ward
Churchill, who was a professor that no one had ever heard of until Fox News
found him saying something offensive about 9/11 and decided to make him
famous. And we had a national offensorama around this person that no one
knew about until the purveyors of grievance, the purveyors of culture war,
decided to marshal it.
Irshad Manji, author of "Liberty in Love: the Courage to Reconcile Faith
and the Freedom." Thank you for being here. Reza Aslan, author of "No God
but God: The Origins, evolutions and teacher Islam," An MSNBC contributor
Rula Jebreal, also with "The Newsweek." It was great to have you here. I
want you to come back as this develops. It`s a great conversation.
JEBREAL: Thank you.
HAYES: What the infamous Mitt Romney video says about the other people in
that room. My story of the week, up next.
HAYES: I want to talk for a moment about what I thought was the most
revealing aspect of the Romney tape. No what he had to say, but the
questions he got. So my story of the week this week, this is what
plutocracy looks like.
The video of Mitt Romney talking to donors that Mother Jones posted last
week is an incredible artifact from entire culture and civilization that
exists in our midst, but which we hardly ever get to see. The world of the
high end donor. Ooh, boy, it`s not pretty. The first thing that jumps out
is that a lot of the questions are really inane. In fact, I almost feel
sorry for Mitt Romney having to sit there and politely smile and nod as
donors picked through their salad and tell him that we really needs to win,
is take the gloves off, or show your face more on TV. Something he has
been doing more or less non-stop.
The folks in the room all but advised Romney to tour around the country
reading passages of Ayn Rand novels out loud at his campaign rallies and
hectoring the idiotic masses to bow before their obvious superior. Romney,
who is many things, but not a total fool, gently explains that probably
it`s not the best way to go about attempting to win over the Obama voters
he needs to be elected.
Almost none of the advice Romney gets during the tape is very good. Some
of it is terrible. That`s not novel, of course. Everyone who watches
politics closely thinks they have the secret insight that will win the
election. Unlike the millions of other political junkies and backseat
drivers, this small coterie of folks by sole virtue of their wealth, gets
to impose their invaluable insights on the actual candidate. It would be
like the head coach of the Giants, Tom Coughlin, having to spend most of
the week between games meeting with the opinionated fans who call into
sports talks radio, with their furies about how the Giants should be
bootsing (ph) on every down, or lining up two quarterbacks under center.
This is the power of money, not just in politics but in society more
broadly. The power to make people listen to your ideas, no matter how dumb
or uninformed. The other thing that stood out to me was just how under
siege, persecuted and victimized these extremely wealthy people appear to
Keep in mind, we are talking about a fundraiser that cost $50,000 a plate.
$50,000 also happens to be the median household income in the U.S. So, the
kind of wealth you need to have to be in the room with Romney is the kind
of wealth that means you can just pony up as much money as many Americans
make in a year to listen to Mitt Romney trash talk the very people who make
in a year the same amount you just pointed up for dinner.
And what you hear from them, is the same kind of whining that was the
central theme of the Republican convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTIONER: We`re away from our families five days a week. I`m away from
my four girls five days a week, and my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Which made me think of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UM: You know what this is? It`s the world`s smallest violin playing just
for the waitresses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Except, you know, instead of waitresses insert busy plutocrats.
Because these same plutocrats who are enjoying possibly their best run ever
since the financial crisis. They since, perhaps, the roaring `20s, the Dow
is way up, corporate profits are near record high, taxes are near record
lows, wages are stagnating, unions are fighting for survival, and eight
percent unemployment means that employers have a constant ready supply of
excess labor, which keeps wages and demands down.
It`s more or less the capitalist paradise. The Koch brothers -- to choose
just one example -- have seen their own net worth nearly double from $32
billion to $62 billion under the tyrannical socialist redistributive regime
of Barack Hussein Obama.
And yet despite the fact that Obama has managed a recovery that has been
exceptionally good to them, Wall Street is incensed that anyone would call
them "fat cats" or assign new financial regulation. In almost every way
conceivable they inhabit an alternate universe. And everyone`s pretty
frank about that. For instance, they ask Mitt Romney several questions
about foreign policy and Romney complains that voters in general don`t care
about foreign policy, so he doesn`t get to talk about it that much on the
This is probably because middle class voters are so concerned about
economic security, it crowds out nearly everything else. But that`s the
point: extremely wealthy people are not a very good representation of the
voting population at large. They have very different politics, positions
and priorities than the mass of voters. And this cashes out on a very
concrete way and it profoundly affects our politics. Political scientists
Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright have been studying the
diversions between public opinion in general and the opinions of the
wealthiest one percent. And found that, surprise, they diverge on most
issues. For instance, on this statement, the federal government should
spent whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good
public schools they can go to. 87 percent of the general public agrees
while only 35 percent of the wealthy do. Or our government should
redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich. 52 percent of the general
public agrees, only 17 percent of the wealthy do. A favor cuts in spending
on domestic programs like Medicare, education and highways in order to cut
federal deficits. Not very popular, in fact, only 27 percent of the public
agrees, but 58 percent of the wealthy do.
And this gets us to what I had become convinced is the most pernicious
effect of big money in our politics. It`s not that lots of money can buy
elections. Though sometimes that`s true. It`s not that campaign
contributions function as a quid pro quo, chips to be cashed in when
legislation is being considered -- though that`s also often true. It`s
that every single person running for high office in America is forced to
spend the vast majority of their time around one group of people and one
group only, wealthy people. That`s who they talk to, and listen to all day
long, day end and day out, every day for months and years and decades.
It has an incredibly warping effect. If you don`t believe me, imagine an
alternate universe. Imagine a world in which every minimum wage worker in
America is given a golden ticket, like the ones in Willy Wonka`s chocolate
factory. And imagine a law that required TV stations to only except those
golden tickets as the sole form of payment for campaign advertising time.
A world, in which candidates had to scramble to collect as many as
possible, or world in which candidates would have to spend all the time
they now spend with the folks on that video with the people who work at
drive-throughs and clean bathrooms. And imagine the kinds of questions
they would get, the stories and jokes they would hear many hours a day, day
in and day out. Imagine the world that candidate would be forced to
inhabit. Imagine what our politics would look like as a result. Maybe
things would be radically different. Maybe they would be more similar to
the status quo than I would like to admit. But one thing is for sure.
Mitt Romney sure as hell, wouldn`t get up in front of a room of home health
care workers, people who are in many states making minimum wage or just a
little more to change bedpans and clean up blood and vomit and tell the
people in front of him that they are a bunch of indolent shiftless moochers
who won`t take responsibility for their lives because they don`t pay income
taxes. I don`t think even Mitt Romney is that politically inept.
I want to talk to author Thomas Frank and an outside adviser of President
Obama about how the priorities of a rich work for politics, right after
HAYES: I think I was on mic for that. We are talking about high end
political donors. And joining us now at the table again is Robert Wolf,
former president of UBS Investment Bank, an outside adviser for President
Obama who has also raised money for the president and host of the weekly
webcast "Impact Players" on the Reuters Youtube channel. Maya Wiley,
founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion, which focuses on
causes of racial inequality in our economy. And Garance Franke-Ruta,
senior editor of the "Atlantic" magazine, where she oversees the politics
channel. Tom Frank, you are still here. Thank you.
FRANK: Haven`t moved.
HAYES: Thank you for not leaving. Robert, good to have you back.
ROBERT WOLF, FORMER PRESIDENT, UBS INVESTMENT BANK: Great to be here.
HAYES: All right, so I just -- I just got my class war on. I want you to
know, I want to ask you how that resonates with you. I mean, how do you
think -- am I right the way donor psychology warps the priority of the
presidential campaign? And don`t tell me I`m right just because I`m
WOLF: Don`t worry, I won`t.
HAYES: OK, all right.
WOLF: Other than I would like one of those Willy Wonka tickets. First of
all, I would say I have been to many of the president`s fund-raisers since
he was then senator. I see it very differently than how he portrayed the
fund raising versus Romney. When we are in these meetings with the
president, it`s more about questions about Syria and Iran and oil prices
and the economy. It is not about who is paying taxes and who is not paying
taxes. You have someone for about an hour. You want to actually have some
depth and breadth to the conversation. So I was unbelievably surprised by
that`s what donors are talking about.
HAYES: That`s interesting. Do you think that that`s because the kind of
donor who is going to be at a Barack Obama donor, Barack Obama closed door,
high dollar event is just not, you know, spending all their time reading
Newsmax and thinking about the shiftless class or is it -- why would there
be a distinction?
WOLF: Listen, I think there`s wealthy donors on both sides. I`m part of
that 1 percent. I have been on Wall Street 28 years.
HAYES: That`s why I wanted you here.
WOLF: I`m more of a Kennedy-type democrat. To me, giving back to the
country is how we build the country. I don`t really see the 47 percent
versus the other 47 percent. It just doesn`t bode that way with me. What
I think really, people want to talk more about the Middle East, the
HAYES: Let me push on this a little bit, because I think there`s a key
point, right? So there`s two theories we can think about here. There`s
the idea of polarization even among the 1 percent, which is to say if you
go to a Mitt Romney closed-door, high-dollar fund-raiser, you get a bunch
of conservatives who are spouting their conservative views. If you go to a
Barack Obama high-dollar fund-raiser, you get a bunch of liberals who are
spouting their liberal views. And my theory just offered standing up there
is that there`s actually a lot of consensus among the 1 percent that is
going to diffuse its way in both of those.
WOLF: Let me talk brass tacks here. President Obama is not transactional.
Romney was a Wall Street guy, maybe they think he is transactional. Very
different type of feedback.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s social science here. No, no, that`s an
important point. Because social science says that if you are conservative,
your empathy, your ability to feel the pain of people different from
yourself goes down as your political activity increases. And for liberals,
it`s actually the other way around. The more politically active you are,
the more empathetic. So when you start to I think talk about wealthy
people, whether they are liberal or conservative, at least in terms of
social sciences, seems to matters.
FRANK: So, Chris, I have a grand theory of contemporary American history.
FRANK: Life is just one big battle between cool billionaires and bogue
(ph) billionaires. Between really awesome liberal billionaires and then
really nasty, awful billionaires. But you know who has actually weighed in
on this subject in print is Barack Obama himself. If you go back read "The
Audacity of Hope," he describes running for the Senate in Illinois. And
there`s a very important passage in the book where he describes how you do
the fund raising when you are running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. And
he describes the kind of people that he meets. And he says, what were they
like? These people who are giving money to a man who was thought then to be
very liberal. We sort of feel a little differently about him now, but what
are these people like? The funders that he went to. Well, they were very
good on cultural war issues. And by that I mean of course very liberal on
cultural war issues. They really believed in education.
FRANK: Of course. They hated unions. They loved free trade. They
believe in free markets. OK? So they are extremely similar to the Romney
donors. Maybe they don`t read Ayn Rand. But then in a later passage, about
two paragraphs down from that, Barack Obama says, and the more time I spent
with these people, the more I became like them.
HAYES: Do you think it`s true?
FRANK: He`s not lying.
HAYES: No, I know, I remember that passage.
WOLF: Listen, I think the Obama fund raising isn`t focused on the high
rollers. I think it`s much on the grassroots. If you look at his most
recent August numbers, where he beat Romney for the month, which was a
surprise to everyone, 75 percent plus was under $250 for those people that
each month had given $10 a click.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or $3 now.
WOLF: Much different progress that they are making. Much more grassroots.
FRANK: And you know all the wonderful things that they are going to get
HAYES: We have a former Treasury official, adviser to Mitt Romney and
Romney fund-raiser who is going to be joining us in just a second.
HAYES: All right. I want to bring in Emil Henry, managing partner and
director of the private equity firm, Tiger Infrastructure Partners, former
assistant treasury secretary in the Bush administration and a fund-raiser
and economic adviser for Mitt Romney. He`s joining us from Easthampton,
that`s New York this morning. Great to have you, Emil.
EMIL HENRY, ROMNEY ECONOMIC ADVISER: Hey, good morning, Chris. Great to
be with you.
HAYES: All right, so you just watched my class war disposition and about
donor psychology. Do you think there is this divide between the
perspective and politics and policy positions of the very, very small
number of Americans who can afford a $50,000 spot and the mass of public
opinion, and does it affect our politics?
HENRY: No, not really. I listened to you for the last ten or 15 minutes.
And just give me two or three minutes to just react to a couple of things I
HENRY: And this will get right to your question. First of all, I heard --
you didn`t say this, but one of your guests just said that President Obama
is not transactional. I actually would disagree. I think President Obama
is the most transactional president I have seen since I became politically
active back in the early 1980s. Let me just give you one very simple
example. And it goes to this issue of donors, and money and politics, et
cetera, et cetera. Historically, and in this election and in the last few
elections, the biggest money, the single biggest chunk of dollars in an
election has come from the unions --
HAYES: No, that`s not true.
HENRY: -- which has historically been Democrat, and if you want to talk
about transactional --
HAYES: Not true.
HENRY: Let me finish, please.
HAYES: Sure, but that`s just not true.
HENRY: If you want to talk about -- well, there was $200 million or $300
million in the last election.
HENRY: If you want to talk about a transactional president, talk about one
stacking the NLRB after the election, talk about flaunting the law,
bankruptcy law in favor of the union bailout of the GM in that situation,
and lastly, think about the stimulus bill. In the stimulus bill, if you
read it, a large chunk of the infrastructure spending was only sent to
those who were in the unions. So talk about, golly, talk about a
transactional president, it`s unbelievable. Not to get sidetracked us on
the union, but--
HAYES: Believe me, I would love to sidetrack on that. My understanding
here is that -- the theory of the case is that because unions give so much
money, and they don`t give anywhere near as much money as the 1 percent
does. So that`s just not true. But because unions give so much money, the
president has been a slave to labor interests in his -- in his pursuit.
The number one legislative priority from labor unions, which is card check,
which I`m sure you are familiar with, the Employee Free Choice Act.
Everyone knows the White House didn`t lift a finger. The appointments on
the NLRB, particularly the recess appointment that happened, happened I
think six months after he had been pressured by the AFL-CIO for one little
thing. And we just had a huge, number one union issue in the world, OK, in
the United States was the Chicago teacher`s union strike in the president`s
hometown, in which all labor wanted was for him to weigh in on it, and he
said not a thing. Let me tell you, if there were a bunch of billionaires
(inaudible), I think we probably would have heard something. But I want
you to stay right there. And we are going to talk more about this right
after this break.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Here with Robert Wolf, former president of UBS Investment Bank, now
an outside adviser of President Obama; Thomas Frank, author of "Pity the
Billionaire," now out in paper book; Maya Wiley from the Center for Social
Inclusion; and Garance Franke-Ruta from "The Atlantic" magazine. Joining
us this morning from East Hampton, New York, is Emil Henry, former
assistant treasury secretary in the Bush administration and a fundraiser
for and economic adviser to Mitt Romney.
Emil, just -- I don`t want -- I don`t want to litigate the campaign
stuff. We can do it off air. The analysis from Sunlight Foundation
through June 30th, 2012, for this year, all contributions, including
industry employees and company pacts, finance and real estate or fire is
the largest sector, 15 percent, labor is 3.2 percent. That`s just through
June 30th, 2012. So, just sort of clear that away.
EMIL HENRY, ROMNEY ECONOMIC ADVISOR: You are right. Chris, it`s 30
seconds, you`re right. And I meant, what I said was historically and it`s
true. You know, John McCain, I think he raised a total of $237 million in
that campaign. It wasn`t good.
And the unions were huge money in that. I don`t want to sidetrack on
the union thing. I`m just reacting to the transactional comment.
HAYES: Let me ask you about this transactional thing, though,
because actually, one, I keep reading articles, I`ve read 15 varieties of
the article, and it`s about the fact that Wall Street has switched from
Barack Obama to his opponent, right?
HENRY: Very much so.
HAYES: Barack Obama raised more money on Wall Street than his
opponent last time around. That`s established. I think we all agree. We
stipulated for that fact.
And now, it`s not the case. Wall Street has shifted. And there`s a
bunch of stories. Why is that? Why is it the case that Wall Street has
And one of the things I have heard is that Barack Obama is terrible
at doing this kind of transactional politics, hasn`t done sufficient donor
maintenance, that people can`t get the calls return, they don`t get invites
to Christmas parties, they don`t get cards, et cetera.
So I keep hearing a story about how bad he is and how good Mitt
Romney is at donor maintenance.
Emil, is Mitt Romney good at donor maintenance?
HENRY: Say that again.
HAYES: I said, is Mitt Romney good at donor maintenance?
HENRY: He`s fabulous. He`s a wonderful people person. But, that`s
really besides -- that`s really beside the point.
I think, you know, Bob said -- let`s get a couple things clear. Wall
Street is, all the numbers I have seen suggest that Wall Street now has
shifted in a breathtaking way to Governor Romney. My read of why that`s
the case and I have been to so many meetings I can`t describe them, that my
read is that the Wall Street community sees that our economic situation is
so dire and they see the gravity the situation. They see the parallels
that exist of where we are today, where we are headed and where Europe is.
And that community thinks this president is not addressing those,
with over $1 trillion in deficits every year, with $16 trillion dollar of
debt. You have talked about this ad nauseam, with regulations that are
literally stifling growth, banks not lending, et cetera. These are largely
a function of this president`s policies and the folks at the center of the
financial world are seeing those very clearly.
HAYES: Do you want to respond to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we have an hour?
HAYES: No, no, I mean --
THOMAS FRANK, AUTHOR: There`s a book here. Pity the billionaire.
FRANK: You have a book about this. This is exactly what I`m
describing. Why anybody, by the way, would want to go the route of Spain,
Italy and Greece, slam us into austerity, I don`t get that. I just came
back from Germany. I mean, it`s a disaster in the making over there. It`s
a terrible thing.
ROBERT WOLF, FORMER PRES., UBS INVESTMENT BANK: I think Mel is
confusing a bunch of things. One, a lot of Wall Street is for Dodd/Frank,
OK? I was there the three days at the Fed, the Lehman weekend. We need
new rules, they haven`t been in existence. So, Dodd/Frank is a good thing,
OK? I liked it better when it was 85 pages.
HENRY: Let`s talk about Dodd/Frank.
WOLF: Let me just finish. Thank you.
When we talk about the fundraising side, there`s part of Wall Street
that`s for the president. There`s part that`s against. When it talks
about business, OK, for every person, you know, the Republicans can mention
Trump, and we can mention Buffett. They can mention someone else, we can
mention Tony James, the CEO of Blackstone.
I mean, there`s plenty on each side. I think business is doing
better. I`m not sure what country we are talking about. And when we talk
about deficits, I know that Congressman Ryan talks about being a fiscal
hawk. He approved both wars, he approved prescription D, he approved TARP.
So, I mean, at the end of the day, the Republicans brought this
FRANK: They always do that. That`s the plan.
HAYES: Emil, I`m going to let you jump in, I want to get to Maya and
Garance at the table.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: So, two quick points. One
is the picture of Wall Street is more complex than anyone is talking about.
"The New York Times" piece blaming Valerie Jarrett for the reason that Wall
Street was not cozying up more to Obama. And I think George Soros was
named in that article. And, you know, George Soros went in and, of course,
in 2008, having been a huge donor and really asking for some much more
radical financial reforms than Barack Obama`s administration actually.
So, you know, there`s this, they didn`t do what he asked and
therefore he`s not funding them. I mean, the truth is, he made a
calculated decision to fund grassroots efforts at what he thought was a
more strategic approach to democracy building. So, some of this is much
The second point, I think it is true that how you handle donor
relationships matters dramatically. And every single person who fundraises
knows that if you don`t stay in touch with donors --
HAYES: Yes. Who are we kidding?
WILEY: They don`t keep giving you money. And it`s not necessarily
ideological or as prescriptive about your policies as it necessarily
GARANCE FRANKE-RUTA, THEATLANTIC.COM: That`s just manners, I think.
But I think one of the things we are probably witnessing is the end of a
certain kind of Republican populism. Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of
Nixon`s Checker speech. We have come a long way since, you know, Nixon`s
respectable Republican cloth coat.
FRANKE-RUTA: Now, you know, we are seeing the end of Republican
FRANK: Wait, wait, wait. You have seen the end of one form of it
the culture war is from. But you are seeing a different form. I mean, the
rallying cry in 2010 was out with the ruling class. This is Richard
Viqueira had an Election Day watch party called out with the ruling class.
There`s a best selling book called "The Ruling Class." Paul Ryan
talks about crony capitalism and how much he hates it.
It`s very much an anti-elitist message. It won`t have any anti-
elitist effects. But it`s a different anti-elitism.
FRANKE-RUTA: But that`s all, I think, coming from the Tea Party and
anti-crony capitalism message is something that Sarah Palin pioneered.
That idea we need to be taxing everybody in the country, including people
with very little money is something Michele Bachmann has been pushing for.
And I think that`s the kind of message that`s --
WOLF: Can I just talk about that tax situation?
HAYES: I actually want to ask Emil, because I think one of the
things that -- in the tape, I`m curious if you, two things that get said a
lot. I wonder, do you worry about these makers/takers dynamic that people
aren`t paying enough income taxes at the bottom?
And do you also feel -- I mean, the sense I got -- I talk to people
in Wall Street, in the course of my reporting and watching that video --
besieged or attacked or persecuted by the current administration?
HENRY: Well, let`s see. I`m going to answer your question. In your
opening statement, which I found really interesting and I listened very
closely to you said one of the things you found interesting about that tape
was the inanity of the questions. I just have to say, I`d love to have a
tape out at George Clooney`s mansion on the West Coast.
HAYES: Absolutely. No, no. Let me be very clear, let me be very
clear here -- inanity of donor questions is not a partisan issue. I have
been in rooms with Democratic donors asking equally dumb and inane
questions. Just so that`s clear. Continue.
HENRY: OK. So, I wanted to make it all fair and balanced.
HAYES: No, no, that`s not partisan. That I agree with.
HENRY: The second one --
HAYES: Do you worry about --
HENRY: -- I heard Bob say -- go ahead, Chris.
HAYES: Do you worry about this makers/takers issue? Just the 47
percent line which is now gotten a lot of play. Is it something that as
someone who presumably, you know, pays income taxes -- I`m assuming that
you feel there`s this problem that`s developing in which people on the
bottom half of the income distribution are not paying income taxes and it`s
going to be a problem for the country?
HENRY: Here`s the problem. Governor Romney said it. Your network,
I heard them, I heard them many, including I think you and Rachel Maddow
and others saying how Governor Romney was doubling down on his -- on
thematically what he was saying there. And I`ll tell you what, I will
triple down on it this morning.
Here is what he said, it was inelegant. But here`s the point -- the
point is that this election, I believe -- and I have been involved in this
stuff for a long time, as all of you guys have -- this election could not
present a more stark contrast in governing philosophy and on one hand as
embodied on the remarks.
You`ve got a president who embodies -- who airs towards, in the very
least, an entitlement society, a society of hand downs, a society of 46
million people on food stamps. I think that compared to less than 10 over
a decade ago. That is just -- that is a bad -- that is a bad symptom for a
society when there is more of that versus less of that.
Governor Romney, what he presents -- I`m going finish now. What he
presents is he presents, he doesn`t present redistribution. You heard the
president on tape on this one, even though I know you guys had a hard time
authenticating it, but we heard it on tape, he advocates for redistribution
as opposed to Governor Romney, which says, as to conservative economists
and people like myself say, we have a pie. Let`s make the pie bigger via
And the whole economic plan is driven toward growth as opposed toward
HAYES: Emil, I want to hang on the line. We are going to take a
quick break. There`s some thoughts on the table that want to respond to
Stay with us.
HAYES: Emil, I want to respond real quick on factual thing on food
stamps, because you are right the amount of people that are on SNAP,
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has increased quite a bit. It
was 32 million when the president took over. It`s now around 46 million to
There should be -- it`s really important to note that the last big
expansion eligibility for SNAP, which is part of -- the two things that
increased SNAP are, the recession. People have gotten poorer because of
the recession and a big expansion in eligibility. That expansion of
eligibility happened in 2002 signed by President Bush. And expansion of
eligibility was voted for by none other than Paul Ryan.
So, the last expansion of eligibility of food stamps happened under a
Republican president who voted for Paul Ryan. Just kind of factual point
The other thing I want to ask about is the redistribution thing. You
said, the president believes in redistribution and Mitt Romney doesn`t
believe in redistribution. My question is, if that`s the case, why doesn`t
he advocate a flat tax? And I`ve heard this from a bunch of Romney folks,
if Mitt Romney doesn`t believe in redistribution, then he`s got the wrong
tax plan. Because real belief in non-redistribution would be at the very
least a flat tax, and I don`t understand why he isn`t -- he doesn`t have
the courage to go out there and actually advocate for a non-redistributive
HENRY: You know, actually, if you look at his tax plan closely, it`s
about as close to a flat tax plan as has existed since the Reagan years.
What he`s done is he -- and what he was advocating for is a highly
simplified plan. The tax code, by the way, is 70,000 pages -- 70,000.
Do you know why it`s 70,000 pages? For the last multiple decades,
politicians have sold -- for donations, have sold exemptions to the code.
HENRY: Let`s simplify it. We can come to that one. Let`s simplify
it. Let`s lower marginal rates and let`s get rid of all of -- not all, but
most of the egregious exemptions and getting rid of the exemptions as he
says taxes on the middle class will go down.
And no -- I have heard him say this 100 times and I know this for a
fact, he says taxes on rich folks are not going to go down because of the
elimination of these exemptions. The more people hear about this --
HAYES: No, no, no.
HENRY: Yes, go ahead.
HAYES: That`s intention with the non-redistributed thing. Taxes on
the rich -- in order for the system to be totally non-redistributive, taxes
on wealthy people have to come down. If he doesn`t believe in
redistribution, then he has to reduce the burden of wealthy people, right?
Because we currently have a barely, but progressive income tax. If he
doesn`t believe in redistribution, he has to cut it for the wealthy.
So, those two things can`t both be true. It cannot be the case that
he is flattening the tax code and he is not cutting taxes for rich people.
HENRY: Your point -- if you`re making -- Chris, I always like
talking with you because you think outside the box.
If your point is that a progressive tax code, which is what the
United States of America has and it`s the right thing, and it`s about
fairness and fairness of opportunity, if your point is there`s a technical
element of redistribution by virtue of hiring --
HAYES: Yes, not just technical -- that`s redistribution. You are
paying for it!
HENRY: Let`s be real about it. Let`s be real about this.
When President Obama talks about redistribution, Chris, you know this
is true, when he talks about redistribution, he is talking about a massive
difference from the Romney plan, which is about simpler, lower marginal
rates, getting rid of exemptions and lowering the corporate tax rate to
attract business in America.
HAYES: OK. He`s talking about 1998.
WOLF: Just two points between the commercial.
WOLF: One, it wasn`t just you and Rachel Maddow that had a problem
with Governor Romney`s comments. I read Peggy Noonan. I read David Brooks
and everybody else.
So, but with respect to the governor`s moments on the 47 percent, we
should just clear and talk the fact. Sixty percent of them pay payroll.
HAYES: OK? Thirty percent are retirees and elderly. And the other
10 percent are student, military, disabled and yes, those in poverty.
So, we should just be clear that on a percentage basis, my guess is a
lot of that 47 percent pays higher than the 14 percent that Governor Romney
FRANK: I want to agree with Emil Henry said, OK, that this is a
choice election. It certainly is, OK? Because what you are seeing -- do
you remember this textbook they used to assign in college called who built
America? It was a history of labor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
FRANK: In this election, we are turning that understanding
completely upside down. Who built America, the people down in Lower
Manhattan, finance capital. OK? You and I are just so many moochers and
WILEY: This is a -- so we just got Mitt Romney`s tax reform, right?
HAYES: Tax returns.
WILEY: Tax returns and learned he paid 14 -- roughly 14-point-
WILEY: The lowest end of the bracket pays 17.1.
So, this whole notion of mooching is actually distorted in terms of
HAYES: I want to thank Emil Henry.
Emil, I love to get you on table --
HENRY: Chris, can I jump in on that one?
HAYES: Unfortunately, I`m sorry. We do have to go to break. I`m up
against a hard break.
Thank you for coming. I`ll have you back at the table -- economic
adviser to Mitt Romney.
Robert Wolf, outside adviser to President Obama and Thomas Frank,
author of "Pity the Billionaire," Maya Wiley from the Center for Social
Inclusion -- thank you all for joining us this morning.
WILEY: Thanks, Chris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
HAYES: From ACT UP to Occupy, how change does come to Washington,
when we come back.
HAYES: On Thursday, President Obama made headlines during Univision
forum for stating something that seems to me undeniably true. Changing
Washington can only happen from the outside.
Occupy Wall Street, the most vibrant burst of extra-electoral
activism in recent years is based on that simple truth. While members of
the media took the one year anniversary of the Occupy movement this week as
an opportunity to taunt the movement for its perceived failures, several
hundred protesters staged a sit-in near New York Stock Exchange in Lower
Manhattan where over 180 people were arrested.
And on Friday, an amazing new documentary opened in theaters,
chronicling a different, earlier, extra-electoral social movement, one that
is almost certainly the most successful of the past 30 years. "How to
Survive a Plague" chronicles the rise and evolution of ACT UP, AIDS
activists who forced political and government elites to pay attention to
them through militant, sustained and targeted civil disobedience.
They, too, were treated with utter contempt by media and political
elites, derided as too radical and too juvenile to achieve real change.
Here is the group protesting outside the FDA in October, 1998.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) England. We are not asking the FDA
to release drugs without safety or efficacy. We are simply asking the FDA
to do it quicker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t know where they are taking us. We`re
here because this government has the resources to deal with AIDS epidemic
and they won`t do it unless we force them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There were a series of dramatic protests and the specific
policy goals, ACT UP manage from the outside to fundamentally change the
health care system in not only the United States but around the world and
save millions of lives in the process.
Joining us now is Amin Husain, an Occupy Wall Street activist, former
Wall Street corporate lawyer and editor of "Title" magazine.
Back at the table, Alexis Goldstein, an Occupy Wall Street activist
and former BP and Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.
David France, the writer, director and producer of the documentary
"How to Survive a Plague."
And Garance stayed with us, from "The Atlantic."
And you are also featured in the film --
FRANKE-RUTA: I am.
HAYES: -- because before you were a political journalist, you were a
member of ACT UP.
FRANKE-RUTA: I was.
HAYES: David, can I start by saying, I think the film is a
masterpiece and I want everyone who is watching right now to do whatever it
takes to go see it. It`s an incredible piece of work. I was just
completely overcome. Really like emotionally, spiritually overcome by the
film. It`s a really, really beautiful, nice work.
DAVID FRANCE, "HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE": Thank you so much.
HAYES: Now, I want to give you the tough questions.
HAYES: Talk to me about what ACT UP was and why did it choose to be
the kind of organization it was?
You know, one of the things I think is interesting is we think of
politics and the election we are having now. If you are a member of a
despised minority and a subsection of despised minority with a dreaded
disease, you can`t really run candidates for city council, right? Like,
you are not going to have a majority way of getting things done.
FRANCE: Right. Right.
HAYES: You have to choose another way. How did ACT UP develop their
philosophy of how they were going to effect change?
FRANCE: Well, I think the first thing we should remember is that an
HIV diagnosis back then meant prognosis of just about 18 months. So,
everything was run on this kind of urgent campaign. There was no time to
By the sixth year of the epidemic when ACT UP first formed --
HAYES: 1987, right?
FRANCE: 1987, six years into this killer plague, there wasn`t a
single pill to take. I mean, the machinery of the national health services
hadn`t produced anything. People were just dying left and right.
So, what ACT UP did when it came together as a spontaneous movement
was to immediately just begin to press or knock or hammer on all the doors
where anyone which might have produced some sort of a response, a medical
response, a pill, a treatment, any sort of treatment.
And they -- knowing that they had this broad campaign, they were
fighting the media that was paying no attention. They were fighting pharma
that didn`t think there was money in it, in manufacturing AIDS medication.
The NIH, the FDA, the CDC, it was a battle on so many fronts, they
diversified. They said you pick whatever struggle you want as long as the
goal is our goal, which is drugs into bodies, treatment for people.
HAYES: These very, you know, there`s Mayor Koch is -- George H.W.
Bush, the president, the basically nameless, probably well intentioned
bureaucrats at the National Institutes of Health, I mean, sometimes you get
these reaction shots and these folks, you know, these are not like the
enemy when you think who is the enemy, like scientists in the NIH were
trying to solve diseases, right? But they are showing up at their door.
Garance, I want to talk about demands. It seemed to me and that gets
into the Occupy question, right? These actions seem to have specific
There`s one action where they go to St. Vincent where a security
guard had beaten up a few gay and lesbian patients. And they`re going to -
- we are going and we demand a meeting. We demand a denunciation of
violence against gay people. And we are going to occupy until we get it.
And then someone comes out and gives them medicine.
A very specific kind of demand. How crucial was that to the
FRANKE-RUTA: It was absolutely essential. If you look at ACT UP, it
was one of the -- it was the last of the great new social movements of the
20th century. It had members who came from all the ones that had existed
previously and who brought their skill set to the table, as well as many
people who had no previous activism experience, who came in just because of
AIDS and HIV.
But, in terms of how change was created, I think -- you know, now we
see activists organizing online, sort of flash mob style on Facebook and so
on. And ACT UP didn`t do anything accidentally. They believe in research.
So, the first step was identifying a need. The second step was
research. The third step was contact with whoever you wanted change from,
a list of demands. It`s always thought in advance. There was a request
for meetings in advance to see if something could be resolved without a
So, the protest was a tool in a broad spectrum of actions that were
taken, and then obviously, there was follow up after protests as well. And
so, there was always a conversation and always an opportunity that people
were trying to give whoever they were targeting.
HAYES: Right. So, we want X from you, Mayor Koch, which is, you
know, increased funding for AIDS services in municipal hospitals. We want
a meeting to talk about it. No meeting, OK, we are going show up at your
front door. OK, we have this demand.
I want you guys to weigh in on this, because I think -- you know, one
of the sort of novel aspects of the way Occupy as a social movement was
structured was the lack of demands, rejection of demand, explicitly.
And I got to say that I found -- I found that difficult to square
with my -- you know, studying previous social movements. And then watching
the film, I was reminded of how crucial demands seemed. So, I want to ask
you guys, how you can have social movement progress without demands right
after we take this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re here to basically demand that you start
to develop this drug for people with breast cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You already have the blood of several thousand
people on your hands. Those of us like me who have Kaposi`s sarcoma are
going to die. We are here until we get arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have helped many companies through the
process. We can take a drug, your test tubes to the market and we will
pave the way for you with the Food and Drug Administration. This total
reluctance on your part is going to get you nowhere. It will end up
killing us. All right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See this mark on my forehead? That`s Kaposi`s
sarcoma. It`s going spread. It`s going to kill me. You`re coming to my
funeral because you are the man (EXPLETIVE DELETED) responsible. You are
my murderer in your shirt and tie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Really intense scene from a sit-in at the pharmaceutical
company. The first thing they say is we are here to demand, a very
How do you respond to that when Occupy has sort of made this decision
to reject the ideology of demands?
AMIN HUSAIN, OCCUPY WALL STREET ACTIVIS: I mean, this is the 21st
movement -- 21st century movement. And we in August of last year had
discussions back and forth about this, how do you address social, political
and economic injustice all together.
Occupy is a part of continuing social movements in the 21st century.
The struggle that ACT UP launched hasn`t ended.
HUSAIN: And it`s part of that struggle within Occupy, and what we
are trying to do right now is create space for many social struggles that
are in existence right now in different groups, that are better situated to
make those demands. In those situations, we stand in solidarity and
provide bodies and develop analysis.
And the idea that a year in right now, we are coming up with this
analysis and we`re rolling it up for people. But we should be mindful
that, how do you deal with mafia capitalism, which is social, political and
economic injustice that`s pervasive in all our institution and structures
at a time when our government is incapable of dealing with the grip of
ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, MEMBER, OCCUPY THE SEC: I would add to that. I
mean, we are looking for transformational change, we`re not looking for
transactional change. But I would also say that we do use the tactics of
ACT UP and we have learned and we continue to try to learn from our elders
and from those who came before. We have affinity groups.
And this is a structure that worked well on Monday, where we have
this sort of decentralized actions, or we have four different zones,
autonomous actions, autonomous affinity groups.
And people had demands. People took bank lobbies, actions that I
have been a part of. The sit-in at Attorney General Schneiderman`s office.
And we have demands to hold the public forum and quite fortuitous you sort
of provided for us quite by coincidence.
But we have demands in these individual affinity groups, that people
trying to shut down the pipeline. But it`s a larger movement. We don`t
speak a single voice for a single demand.
HAYES: This gets to the question, and I back to you here, right,
which is that how do you deal with what you call mafia capitalism? How do
you deal with this sort of broad structure of sociopolitical inequality,
HAYES: And the answer -- I don`t have the answer. The first step is
breaking it into smaller problems, right? I mean, I think that`s what you
do as a computer programmer, right? How am I going to program Tetris?
Well, first, how do I draw a block on the screen.
And breaking up into smaller problems is what made ACT UP very
effective, I mean, right?
FRANKE-RUTA: Yes, absolutely. I mean, it has more than 40 different
committees. And it wasn`t just ACT UP New York, which was the big one and
the first one. But there were ACT UPs all over the country. There was a
whole ACT NOW network. It became an international movement.
And each of those committees dealt with a very broad array of issues
and also gave rise to other organizations, which I think still exist and
it`s important people know housing works. It was for people from the ACT
UP housing committee. Or a Needle Exchange Project began as a civil
disobedience action, basically do needle exchange when it was legal?
And ACT UP got the law in New York state changed around that. And
the human action group which is featured in the movie, which continues to
do work on AIDS treatment policy and then the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy
Coalition which also continues to do work on vaccine policy.
FRANCE: That`s the long run, really. That`s what, ultimately, 10
years and 15 years of aids activism produced. But in the first year, ACT
UP wasn`t all that remarkably dissimilar to what Occupy accomplished over
its first year. It began as a -- you know, a -- in opposition to the
FRANCE: Just right out on the street. Just protesting, being
arrested. The tactics were really similar.
And it took a long time, as you see in the movie, which covers nine
years. It took a long time for the development of a really refined
strategy for the very specific goals that they have.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
FRANCE: That refined strategy began to include the development of
self-education, the scientific sphere where people were so well-versed in
the science, and this one of the areas where Garance did here work in ACT
UP. That they were able to not only just to speak the language of the
people they were asking for, they were asking change from, but were able to
actually join them and help develop the changes together.
And then housing works and the other aspects which develop in
response to this kind of broadening idea for the need for change.
GOLDSTEIN: Actually, that`s what we are seeing out of Occupy. You
see people self-educating about this disease that`s affecting them. We are
releasing things like that debt resistors operation manual, which is a very
well-researched, anonymously put out guide to debt, to bankruptcy, to how
the system works for people who are affected by it.
HAYES: I think -- yes, the power of expertise and the power of being
able to chip away at expertise with your own self education is I think is a
really common theme.
We`ll take a quick break. Be right back.
HAYES: Talking about ACT UP, Occupy Wall Street and how social
And, Amin, you have something you want to say.
HUSAIN: You know, one of the lessons from ACT UP was direct action.
That`s what we did on September 17th last year -- occupying a public space
where there aren`t spaces of public dissent was a direct action.
Now, what do you get out of direct action? People empowerment. At
an age at a time when people seem powerless and it`s important to free up
imagination to think there is another world that`s possible. That there`s
another way of organizing economic life that isn`t about Republican,
Democrat and independent, where people get lost in the shuffle, right?
The other thing I want to say is like we do do our research, power of
the powerless, right? Jeremy Brecker (ph) writing a piece, ACT UP, 1989,
die in. Right?
HUSAIN: At the stock exchange a week ago, that`s where we were. We
are studying civil rights movements and we are studying other movements,
but the challenges are different.
HUSAIN: I think chain of equivalences. Multiple, multiple social
movements, more like South America where you have a social movement that
continues past putting people in power, bringing in about change because
this is long term.
The other thing I want to mention about the occupation last year in
September 17th was started as a direct action became a way of life. And
the epicenter of a greed culture, a society of mutual aid.
HAYES: You see that. Your film was the best cinematic portrayal
since "Eyes on the Prize". And "Eyes on the Prize" is the sort of classic
miniseries on the civil rights movement. And you see in both cases and in
Occupy, a culture emerges right around the process --
FRANCE: -This is a creation of a community.
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
FRANKE-RUTA: Absolutely. I think, you know, the essential lesson
for me of ACT UP is actually sort of contrary to one of the sort of big
concepts that we`re talking about today. You know, there`s the whole It
Gets Better project. The idea that if you sort of reach out and talk to
someone across an Internet space, you can improve their lives, and people
can just wait and things will improve.
But that`s not how the world works. And I think the essential lesson
of ACT UP is that nothing gets better unless you make it, and that it`s
very difficult work. I think a lot of the people who are in the group, you
know, they spent -- devoted years to it. It is very difficult work for
people to be at the sharp edge of the sphere, in a way.
But that`s how social change happens in this country -- in a free
society where there is capacity for people to hold their government
accountable and people take the initiative to do that. Politicians
basically act to ratify the social changes once they reach a certain kind
of the tipping point.
GOLDSTEIN: I was going to say because it`s such hard work, you see
the communities form to take care of one another. That`s one of my
favorite things about Occupy. After S-17, this past Monday, on Tuesday, we
had people in the courts, at the jails. People come out.
And we`ll be sitting in the court and once people got out, you can`t
talk in the courtroom, you go outside. If you were in the courtroom, you
hear this roar.
GOLDSTEIN: Because there are so many people waiting for people to
get out of jail, do you need a cigarette? Do you need food? It`s a
culture of care.
HAYES: And this one of the things here is that the film was dramatic
and it condenses 10 years into an hour and 45 minutes, I want to say. What
can get lost in that is that, you know, social movement changes a lot of
TV. In parting the waters, which is the amazing first in the civil rights
movement, there are 60-page accounts of meetings. There`s a great Oscar
Wilde quote about this, right? The problem with socialism is it takes up
too many meetings. But meetings are what change the world.
All right. What you should know for the news week ahead, coming up
HAYES: Just a moment, what we should know for the week ahead. But,
first, an update on the story we have been following closely on UP,
speaking of self-education and expertise.
OK. A key player on the Federal Reserve, one of the board`s biggest
inflation hawks, that is someone inordinately worried about high inflation
rather than high unemployment, now sees the virtue of using monetary
stimulus to fight unemployment.
In a speech on Thursday, Narayana Kocherlakota -- got that right --
president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota laid out what he called
a contingency plan for liftoff for the economy. Kocherlakota said the Fed
should keep the Fed fund`s rate extraordinarily low until the unemployment
rate falls below 5.5 percent.
Finally, it sounds like even the Fed`s biggest skeptics of monetary
stimulus are coming around to the idea the board should get more aggressive
on the jobs crisis. That is very welcome news.
And quick personal update, if you`re in the New York City area, I`ll
be appearing at 1:00 p.m. today at the Brooklyn Book Festival to talk about
my new book, "Twilight of the Elites". Go to Brooklynbookfestival.org for
So, what do you know for the coming week coming up?
You should know that the Democratic Senate has been sent a bill by
the Republican House called the Stop the War on Coal Act. You should know
that according to Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Stop
the War on Coal Act is a 302nd bill passed by the Republican House this
year alone to include provisions endangering our land, water and air by
weakening anti-pollution rules, the EPA and existing protections for
coastal areas and public lands.
You should know that in a Republican Senate led by a long-standing
friend of coal industry polluters, this bill would have a better chance of
And you know the battle for controlled Congress may have as much to
do with the country as the presidential race does.
You should know what Tim Pawlenty will be doing of himself now after
being over to be on the GOP ticket. He stepped down as the Romney campaign
co-chair to become CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, which is one
of the most powerful industry groups in Washington representing the
interests of Wall Street and fighting tooth, nail and claw against any and
all regulatory incursions that might reduce the power or profitability of
the financial sector.
According to reports, Pawlenty`s salary could be in a ballpark of $2
million a year. And you should know that he joins a long list of former
politicians, Democrat and Republican, who cashed out after leaving office
to peddle their influence on behalf of big money. You should know this is
a big part of why Washington is broken and why Barack Obama was 100 percent
right when he said it can`t be changed from the inside.
Mr. Pawlenty, welcome to the inside.
And finally, you should know that the activist, innovator and writer
Aaron Schwartz will have to defend himself against 13 felony counts after
prosecutor unsealed additional indictments against him this week.
Schwartz, who I should disclose is a friend, is accused of using his access
to the MIT laboratory to download millions of academic articles from an
online database in order to make them available to the public for free.
Now, the database is run by a nonprofit which charges fees for access
in the articles to cover the cost of making them available to the public.
You should know that Schwartz is being charged under a 26-year-old
law intended to stop hackers from damaging computers or stealing private
information and that the charges against Schwartz include using a fake e-
mail address and violating terms of service. Those little boxes you check
to say you`ve read them even though you haven`t.
According to "Wired" magazine, a federal court found the same law
could implicate millions of Americans as criminals. But you should know in
the age of corporate wars over information, that isn`t stopping federal
prosecutors from pushing ahead with their case against Schwartz. And if
he`s convicted hitting him with a $1 million fine and as much as 50 years
in prison for making public academic information accessible to the public.
I want to find out what my guests think we should know for the coming
up. And let`s begin with you, Amin.
HUSAIN: Well, you should know that Occupy Wall Street is in year two
and it`s still alive. And as part of a new initiative, it`s focusing on
debt and has launched Strike Debt. And part of what Strike Debt is doing
is rolling out people`s bailout where we`ll be purchasing debt, defaulted
debt, medical debt, cents on the dollar and abolishing it, as a way of
delivering wins for the people.
HAYES: This is an amazing thing you guys are doing. I want people
to understand. Defaulted debt is auctioned off and you -- because it`s
being auctioned off, because people are in arrears, you can buy it at
auction at cents on the dollar. So, your plan is to go to the actual
auctions and say, oh, this is $100,000 in medical debt, we`re going to buy
it for $10,000 and turn around and say we forgive the debt.
HUSAIN: And what`s important out of that is we want people to
understand that when you owe $100, it`s being bought and sold by Wall
Street. And you actually owe cents on a dollar. That`s how we get rid of
the shame that`s binding the 99 percent.
HAYES: Alexis Goldstein.
GOLDESTEIN: Go to Strikedebt.org to find out more about that.
You should know that ACT UP has been meeting in the LGBT center for
25 years and you can join them. There`s a meeting this Monday. It`s
earlier than usual at 6:30 p.m. If you`re in New York, 13th Street and 7th
You should know about the radical resistance tour for people
crisscross the country, talk to activists. Go to
HAYES: What should folks know?
FRANCE: People should know for this week in the 30-year AIDS
epidemic, you can take HIV tests at home. The FDA just approved the home
FRANCE: There are some 300,000 Americans who don`t know if they`re
HIV positive or negative. They haven`t gone for tests. This makes it
accessible to everybody and going to be a major tool in reducing the spread
HAYES: That`s great.
FRANKE-RUTA: You should know that we are on October 2nd, we`ll be
getting a ruling on the voter suppression law, the toughest in the country.
And I think this law actually -- I`m starting to hear it`s having effects
on the elderly who don`t have passports, who lost their birth certificate
from 1930, who need more documentation than they`ve got.
HAYES: We`re going to be tracking that. I want to thank my guests
today -- Amin Husain of "Title" magazine and Occupy Wall Street, Alexis
Goldstein, also with Occupy Wall Street, filmmaker David France, the new
documentary is called "How to Survive the Plague". See it, see it. And
Garance Franke-Ruta of "The Atlantic" magazine and also featured in "How to
Survive a Plague -- thank you all.
Thank you for joining us.
Today and for one full year from now, this weekend marks our one-year
anniversary. We put up a blooper reel from the early days. It`s online
right now at Up.MSNBC.com. I`m sure I`ll provide more fodder in this year
We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at 8:00 Eastern
Time. Our guests will include Jeffrey Toobin on what his new book reveals
about the Supreme Court and President Obama and former FDIC chief Sheila
Coming up next is a special episode of "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On
today`s "MHP," a student town hall as part of NBC`s Education Nation Summit
from the New York Public Library in Manhattan. Stay with us MSNBC for more
of Education Nation as NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams comes to
MSNBC for a special teacher town hall at noon Eastern.
That`s NBC`s Education Nation here on MSNBC starting with "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next.
And we will see you next week here on UP.
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