Guests: Ron Allen, Steve Clemons, Robert Reich, Dave Zirin, James Zogby
CENK UYGUR, HOST: Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters hit the streets of Cairo for the “Day of Departure.” But still, President Mubarak refuses to go.
You are looking live in Cairo, where it is just after 1:00 in the morning. Earlier today, they called for President Mubarak to step down, but he still will not leave. President Obama wants a transition right now.
The big question, what happens next? NBC‘s Ron Allen joins us live from Cairo in a moment.
And the politics of Egypt. Senator John McCain calls the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East a virus.
My case on how Republicans are tarnishing the American brand, that‘s ahead.
And here at home, the Republican hypocrisy on jobs. A month ago they took credit. Today, John Boehner wasted no time slamming President Obama. But we‘ve got the facts to show you the GOP hypocrisy. Robert Reich with a reality check tonight.
And Super Bowl politics, why progressives should be really psyched about the big game. Dave Zirin of “The Nation” with the story of why this game will drive Tea Partiers crazy.
All right. Pro-democracy protests in Egypt continue to roar. A hundred thousand people showed up for today‘s “Day of Departure,” and they are already planning for a week of resistance in the days ahead.
For the 11th straight day, protesters gathered in Cairo‘s main square to demand Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak step down. After two violent days, today was mostly peaceful. The army protected the demonstrators, conducting checks to make sure there were undercover thugs, at least in the square where the TV cameras were.
Now, for more, let‘s go live to NBC‘s Ron Allen in Cairo.
Hey, Ron, here‘s the part I don‘t understand about this. I hope you can help us out.
So they bash the journalists, and some really scary stuff in going after the journalists, but then they don‘t attack today. So what was the point of attacking all those journalists?
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the army was out in force today. That was the big difference. They established rules and parameters for the demonstration early in the day and stuck to them.
The anti-government forces were confined to a certain part of the square. They occupied a huge part of the square.
There was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement, but there was no mixing of the pro-Mubarak forces. They were nowhere to be seen today. And they were the main instigators of the violence against so many of our colleagues. .
UYGUR: Right. So what happens next? What if the protesters just stay and the Mubarak people don‘t commit anymore violence and we just have a standoff? Is that possible? Is that what it looks like is going to go happen next?
ALLEN: Well, that‘s what it is. We‘ve all been discussing, so, where are we now? And there‘s a big question mark over what happens next.
Obviously, the regime is dug in. There have been statements today by the prime minister and others saying that Mubarak is not going anywhere.
And I think the challenge for the opposition is to continue to try and mobilize enough energy and enough people to get out in the public square to keep this thing going. There‘s every indication that it will.
But they had a million people out a couple of days ago. They now had this “Day of Departure,” “Farewell Friday.” They‘re talking about a week of resistance next week. And each time you put one of these markers up and it doesn‘t happen, I think a lot of people here—or some people, certainly, in the community—gives them a reality check of how difficult this is.
Of course, no one said it would be easy, and this is going to go on, but the government clearly is trying to play people off against each other. They keep making gestures to try and appear to be benevolent about all of this, if I can use that word, to try and show the world that they are taking steps to reform.
Of course, a few people here believe it. But we‘re talking about a seven-month period between now and when elections are supposed to happen, and when Mubarak is supposed to essentially not run again. And it seems that they‘re just trying to play the clock out, if you will. And it remains to be seen when and how much more energy these protesters come with when they come back to the square.
A big day happens when the week begins here on Sunday, the work week. A lot of people want to go back to work. They want to get their kids back in school and get back to a normal life, because there‘s a huge economic downside to what‘s been happening. And the government is, of course, well aware of that as well.
UYGUR: Right. See, Ron, that‘s—because I know the Egyptian stock market is in a lot of trouble, obviously, over this. If it turns out that people want to go back to work, and they don‘t—the Mubarak government isn‘t doing any violence, well, then the protesters might have a different kind of trouble, the trouble of maintaining this with supplies and popular support.
Now, any sense in the streets or throughout Cairo as to people flipping around and saying well, that‘s enough? Or not yet?
ALLEN: Well, yes, there are voices that are saying that. They‘re saying, look, what we‘ve accomplished over the past 11 days or so, there‘s a vice president now, at least changes on paper. Gamal Mubarak is not going to be president, so says his father. And Hosni Mubarak is not going to run again.
There have been investigations launched against a number of former government officials, including the interior minister, the trade minister. All this looks and sound good. And there‘s promises of constitutional reform.
But, of course, a lot of people here are very skeptical of this. And until they see what they want to see as a tangible movement, a tangible step by Mubarak leaving—but I just don‘t get the sense from talking to people here that this is the kind of guy who‘s going to get on a plane and leave this country.
He still has the support of the military, it would seem. I guess we‘re all looking to understand, what‘s the scenario, what‘s the energy, what forces him to actually step down in a short period of time? It seems like we‘re in a position now where there‘s a dynamic where this is going to play out for some time to come, perhaps.
Of course, we don‘t know everything that‘s going on behind the scenes. There‘s a lot of pressure from the United States and elsewhere for Mubarak to exit the stage. Will that happen? We don‘t know.
And, of course, things here changed quickly, in a matter of moments.
The violence that erupted yesterday, for example, wasn‘t really foreseen.
It could happen again. It‘s a very fluid, volatile day-by-day situation.
UYGUR: Right. So, as far as we can tell, the army, still neutral, still hasn‘t made up its mind. And if it doesn‘t make up its mind, and Mubarak stays in the palace, what are you going to do?
ALLEN: Well, I don‘t know that it‘s neutral. It certainly took a neutral stance, a military stance, a businesslike stance, if you will, in the square today.
It didn‘t open fire, it held its position, it maintained order, which is what they‘re supposed to do. And they have not apparently turned on Mubarak. At least it doesn‘t appear that they have. He‘ll still here, and he and the vice president still seem to be pulling the strings.
Now, if there‘s a military uprising, a military coup of some sort, and the generals take over, there‘s no indication that that‘s happening, at least no public indication that that‘s happening. But ultimately, in whatever transition happens here, the military is such a dominant force in this country, that they will play a key role in maintaining order. And most observers would agree, I think, that that is some part of the scenario.
But again, today, the military was very key in that they controlled the situation. There was no violence. The pro-and-anti-government forces were kept separate.
ALLEN: And, of course, the pro-government forces were in the background. They weren‘t very prominent today as they were yesterday. And that‘s one reason why there was not a lot of violence today.
UYGUR: All right.
NBC‘s Ron Allen in Cairo.
Thank you so much for joining us.
All right. Now let‘s talk about where President Mubarak is.
Presumably, he‘s still holed up in the palace, as we just discussed.
Late today, President Obama offered Mubarak some cover, but a light push towards the door as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that President Mubarak cares about his country. He is proud, but he‘s also a patriot. And what I suggested to him is, is that he needs to consult with those who are around him in his government, he needs to listen to what‘s being voiced by the Egyptian people, and make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly, but that is meaningful and serious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Hedge, hedge, hedge, hedge, hedge, hedge, hedge. I know why he‘s doing it, but it drives me crazy.
Here‘s what I think Mubarak actually cares about—his bank account.
There‘s now a debate on whether we should support Mubarak or not.
Should we be loyal to him because he‘s been good to us?
Here‘s who Mubarak has been good to—Mubarak. He has as much as $70 billion stashed away in European banks, according to Bloomberg News.
Just to put this in context, that‘s a lot more money than Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. And it‘s not like Mubarak doesn‘t have some place to go.
The Mubarak family owns homes in London, Paris, New York, Madrid, Dubai, and Beverly Hills. Living large.
Gee, I wonder if Mubarak is corrupt? Or was it just a wonderful coincidence that his family amassed this gigantic fortune while he happened to be in office?
Now, for the record, the U.S. has given Egypt $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and we‘ve given Egypt $28 billion in economic aid and developmental aid since 1975.
Now, how much of that aid has reached the Egyptian people and how much has been rerouted along the way? That‘s an excellent question.
Now, remember, the average income of a family in Egypt is $2,070.
Forty percent of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Less than $2 a day.
Now, what do you think? Is Mubarak the kind of guy we should stand behind? The kind of guy who has his country‘s best interest in mind? It doesn‘t look like it to me.
Joining me now is Steve Clemons. He‘s founder of the American Strategy Program for the New America Foundation.
All right, Steve. Look—
STEVE CLEMONS, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: It‘s great to be with you, Cenk.
UYGUR: It‘s good to have you here.
I know we‘re in a tight spot. We‘ve got these allies all over the Middle East. They‘re all—not all. A lot of them are dictators, or a lot of them are corrupt.
But at the same time, do we stand for democracy or don‘t we? I mean, is the president doing a good enough job here as he keeps walking that line?
CLEMONS: Well, I think it‘s an important question. We stand for democracy, but that doesn‘t mean that you can wave a magic wand and have the world transform itself into what we want the rest of the world to be.
We have a democracy here at home. I think it had its weak moments during some part of the Bush administration. But, you know, when you look at the ability to transform other parts of the world, that has to come through peer pressure, spotlight. But we still need to deal with other nations.
UYGUR: But Steve, no. No, but, Steve, this is the perfect time.
Look, normally I would totally agree with you on that.
CLEMONS: Yes. I agree right now that this is the perfect time to do the right things, that the United States is complicit in a lot of Egyptian nightmares.
If you look at the record of abuse, torture, summary execution, detention in Egypt, we knew a lot about what was going on, and we may even have had Americans in the room. So I think Barack Obama has to put the right markers down in this case.
But again, we‘re at a point in the world where a lot of the world doubts America‘s ability to achieve the things it says it‘s going to do. And we do have other strategic interests in the world.
We do want to solve climate change issues, we want to deal with development. And, you know, the world is not all organized like we are. That was a neoconservative message—let‘s make the world, the rest, like us. And I think right now, Egypt—we should be pushing on principles of democracy, and I think the president is doing it, but it doesn‘t make it so by saying it is so.
UYGUR: No. But Steve, look—look, before this happened, if you came to me and said, hey, look, we have got the governments we have, not the governments we wish we had, I‘d say, you‘re right. What can we do? OK. I get that. Right?
But here it is. They handed democracy on a platter. They had this massive movement, millions in the streets, et cetera.
CLEMONS: Totally agree.
UYGUR: And we‘re sitting here going, well, maybe, well. And then we‘ve got people in America now making arguments that, well, Mubarak has been our ally, he‘s a good guy.
I mean, you just saw those numbers. Mubarak is nowhere near a good guy. I mean, am I wrong? He‘s massively corrupt.
CLEMONS: I absolutely think you‘re right. And I think that behind the scenes, the president is probably being even more blunt and bold than you are right now.
UYGUR: I doubt it.
CLEMONS: But in public, what the president‘s posture—as you said, you understand why he‘s saying it. It‘s because there are a lot of other regimes that aren‘t democracies that we have to deal with tomorrow, no matter what happens in Egypt today.
And we also see something else going on where we have the dirty reality where, in some of these countries in the Middle East, we would love to see them have days of rage and, you know, be put on the hot plate. And there are some places where it‘s not convenient.
UYGUR: Yes. You know what that depends on, Steve? It depends on if the dictator is doing what we want or the dictator isn‘t doing what we want.
CLEMONS: That is right. That is the litmus test, yes.
UYGUR: OK? And so to your point about Obama—and he could be—he‘s probably tougher than I am behind the scenes—I find that nearly inconceivable. But Steve, here‘s what I would do if I was president. Right?
I would say, OK, look, to the rest of our allies, because we have to protect those interests, I would say, look, I‘m not going to throw you under the bus. I get it, we‘ve had this relationship, we‘re going to continue to have that relationship.
But you see, Egypt, that‘s why we tell you guys to make reforms, so you don‘t have to have a situation like Egypt. So, please, start making reforms.
Now, for Egypt, you‘re done. I‘m cutting off your aid.
Senator Leahy was on this program two nights ago and said the president can cut off the aid any day he wants. You go to the military and you go, hey, you know what? I know you‘re getting your contracts from Mubarak, but here‘s what‘s happening -- $1.3 billion is gone. OK?
Now what are you going to do? See, I don‘t think Obama has done that.
Do you think he‘s done it?
CLEMONS: No, I don‘t think he‘s done that. I think that right now, he‘s thinking he doesn‘t want to cut off that aid because it would turn the military against us. And the one thing we really need right now is the military on the side of committing to support the next—
UYGUR: The guy can‘t play poker. He can‘t play poker.
CLEMONS: Well, yes/
UYGUR: I mean, if you‘re not willing to threaten the money, what leverage do you have? Leverage where you come out and you say, well, I kind of like this and I kind of like that?
CLEMONS: Look, I agree with you on the point that in December, 2010, when the NDP, Gamal Mubarak stole that election, and stole 96 percent of the seats in the national assembly, they kind of succeeded too well at their fraud, we should have been much more on alert. We should have been reaching out far more visibly and structurally to other parts of that government.
It would have been deeply offensive to Mubarak. He might have even gone after some of those that we were dealing with.
When we saw world corn and wheat prices hit sky-high levels, we should have known that a huge food importer like Egypt would have problems, that people would be in the street saying there‘s no hope in me for this. We should have been in front of that.
And so there is a serious criticism for why the United States—and I would put Europe in that mix—and other stakeholders just were behind the curve on that front.
UYGUR: I know, but they were behind the curve then. What‘s much more important is now. They‘re behind the curve now.
Steve, last real quick thing here.
UYGUR: Look, about the money, we talk about all this stuff as if the money doesn‘t matter.
CLEMONS: No, the money matters.
UYGUR: The army is going to make the decision based on how much money they‘re going to get paid, whether it‘s by Mubarak or by the U.S. If we don‘t threaten the money, then we‘re just playing pat-a-cake, aren‘t we?
CLEMONS: Well, it‘s the question—I mean, I think, Cenk, you may be misreading it, making it more binary than it is. I mean, right now, the military and the police essentially had a soft civil war. They went in different directions.
These used to all be the Mubarak franchise all sewn together. And now the military is very clearly and visibly playing a slightly different role. The NDP and the police are in a different—slightly different camp.
I don‘t trust either side, to tell you the truth. And I don‘t think it‘s the wholesale reform that the people want.
The people are calling for regime change, and I think we‘re collectively giving them regime adjustment. And that‘s still a collision course down the way. But, you know, we have to be careful of what we call the state at this point because it‘s not what it was a week ago.
UYGUR: Right. Unfortunately, it‘s too similar for my taste.
All right. Steve, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, Senator John McCain compares the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East that we were just discussing to a virus. The Republican assault on the American brand, ahead.
UYGUR: When the economy showed signs of life last month, including a drop in unemployment, Republicans couldn‘t wait to claim credit. They said it was all thanks to the tax cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA: Some of the results that you just talked about, I suspect, are coming from the fact that we extended tax rates that the president did not want to be extend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we‘ve gotten some positive numbers. I think it‘s in large part because we won our majority and we‘re pursuing pro-growth policies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, that was a week after they got sworn in. It‘s incredible how fast they worked. Republicans come in office—boom! The economy is instantly fixed. They‘re like miracle workers.
But then look at what happened today. A new jobs report shows unemployment dropped again last month, but not as much as some analysts had hoped, partly because the stormy weather may have slowed the hiring.
Now, so it fell from 9.4 percent to 9 percent. And Republicans are now saying that‘s Obama‘s fault, that the jobs report wasn‘t even better.
Today‘s statement from John Boehner: “The president‘s spending binge is hurting job creation, eroding confidence, draining funds away from private investment, and spreading uncertainty among really rich people.” I mean job creators.
So, Obama‘s policies destroyed job growth last month, but not the previous month. And I guess the Bush tax cuts magically worked in December, but then immediately stopped working in January.
Seriously, who can believe that? I don‘t even think the Republicans believe it as they‘re saying it.
But it‘s obvious what the plan is. If the economy doesn‘t do well, well, then you blame Obama and you say, I had nothing to do with it. Me? Me? Not me. But if it does do well, you take credit and you say it was all you.
Look, the reality is that it‘s pure nonsense to look at a two-month snapshot and make a judgment based on it either way. But we can look at the big picture and see a clear pattern over a much longer period of time.
During Bill Clinton‘s eight years, the country added 22 million jobs. During George W. Bush‘s eight years, just one million jobs. And that‘s actually being kind to him, because the recession cost us a huge amount of jobs in ‘09, after he helicoptered out of town.
And how about Obama? In 2010, the U.S. added 1.1 million jobs, more than were added during the entire Bush presidency.
Look, the jury is still out on Obama and this economy. But when it comes to which party creates jobs and which party doesn‘t, you just saw the record. The record is incredibly clear.
All right. Now with me is former secretary of labor, Robert Reich. He‘s now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.
Secretary Reich, a great pleasure having you here.
ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Cenk.
UYGUR: First of all, what‘s your reaction to the job numbers? Is it good? Is it bad? Everybody seems to be all over the board on it.
REICH: Well, the most important job number today is 36,000, which is the number of new private sector jobs created in January. And that‘s pretty discouraging. I mean, it‘s in the right direction, but you need 125,000 new jobs just to keep up with the growth in the population of people who are eager and ready and willing to work.
UYGUR: All right. So there‘s two different things here, what‘s happening in reality in terms of creating jobs, are we doing enough, et cetera, and then there‘s the Republican version of reality. Let‘s dispense with the Republican version first. Right?
So, they say, well, ,look, last month we created jobs because we said we were going to do tax cuts, and then this month it‘s Obama‘s fault. I mean, you‘ve dealt with the Republicans a long time. Do they actually believe that, or do they just say it and hope that it confuses people?
REICH: Well, I don‘t want to accuse anybody of hypocrisy, Cenk, but I think there is a little bit of the quality of—yes, let‘s say what helps us and what undermines our opponents. Democrats are not completely innocent of the same strategy, by the way, but unfortunately, in Washington, you get left-and-right-handed economists, you get economists who will basically parrot whatever the dominant political force is, particularly Republicans and Democrats will say and want them to say.
Look, the reality right now is that we are coming out of a recession, but it‘s a very, very slow recovery. Corporate profits are up, Wall Street is up, but most Americans aren‘t seeing much of a recovery.
UYGUR: Secretary Reich, we saw earlier in the week record profits again for the top financial firms. I read an article of yours where you talked about how the stock market is still growing, but the median wage is falling. Right? So it depends on what your perspective is, right?
So, if you only care about the top one percent, the economy is actually doing rather well. Right?
REICH: Exactly. In a sense, Cenk, we have two economies right now.
We have got the big money economy. Wall Street is doing wonderfully well. Big business is doing well, sitting on over $1 trillion of cash, don‘t even know where to spend that cash. But most Americans are seeing their major assets, which is their homes, and not their stocks and bonds—most Americans don‘t have very much by way of stocks and bonds—their major asset is their homes, and that major asset continues to drop.
UYGUR: So now let‘s get to the reality. What would you do if you were the secretary of labor for President Obama, and he comes to you and he says, look, you know, we‘re stagnating a little bit here, what‘s the answer?
REICH: Well, the first answer is to make sure that there‘s more money in the pockets of average working people so they can turn around and buy more. And if they turn around and buy more, that means more jobs.
How do you get more money into the pockets of average working people? Well, for example, I might recommend that you exempt the first $20,000 of income from the payroll tax. Eighty percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. And make up the difference by lifting the ceiling on the percentage of income subjected to the payroll tax.
UYGUR: So, you know, of course the Republicans would call that redistribution of wealth. But what I see now is a massive redistribution of wealth. We‘ve got the $400 billion tax cuts going to the rich. And right now they‘re going to come after entitlements when they go to cut spending.
So you‘re saying flip it on its head, and not because you care about fairness, but you‘re saying that would actually help the economy and it would help everybody.
REICH: Exactly. I mean, I do care about fairness, Cenk, as you do. But the fact of the matter is that if you‘ve got so much of the nation‘s income and wealth concentrated at the top, which you do right now—I mean, we have almost a record amount of concentrated wealth and income at the top—the vast middle class, the working class of America, just doesn‘t have enough income to turn around and buy the stuff that‘s going to boost the economy. I mean, there‘s just not enough demand out there, there‘s no way around that. You can‘t run an economy just based on the top one percent to five percent of Americans.
UYGUR: All right. One last final question for you.
You know, the Republicans came out yesterday and said, oh, we‘re going to cut $32 billion after they add $$00 billion in tax cuts. So that leaves about—we did the math last night—about $368 billion they‘ve got to get to, to get to square one.
When you saw those numbers, did you have a good belly laugh?
REICH: Well, I thought it was a little embarrassing for them, honestly, because their entire strategy is based, as it has been for the last 30 years, on at least this philosophy. They don‘t actually act on it, but they talk about shrinking government. But $32 billion may sound a lot, but given the entire federal budget, let alone the federal budget deficit, it‘s almost nothing.
What happens is that the Republicans talk very, very toughly, but when it gets actually to the point of having to take on something like an entitlement, Social Security, or Medicare, or national defense, which is still bloated beyond belief, they just don‘t want to take any action. .
UYGUR: Let alone, of course, taxes, where they cause a lot more damage than they do with any spending cut or spending increase. They just added $400 billion a year. It‘s unconscionable if you care about the budget.
REICH: Absolutely. They continue to believe—and this is an amazing thing, Cenk, when you realize that for years and years, the actual reality has proven otherwise—they continue to believe that if you reduce taxes on the top, it trickles down and benefits everybody else.
It doesn‘t benefit. There‘s been no trickle down for the last 30 years.
UYGUR: Yes. I actually don‘t think they believe that. They know that it goes to the top, but they like that. Those are the guys who paid them and got them into office.
REICH: Well, they keep talking about trickle down as if it actually was a reality.
UYGUR: Well, as you know, of course it isn‘t.
All right. Great talking to you, Labor Secretary Robert Reich. We really appreciate your time.
REICH: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right.
Now, ahead, a story I promise you are going to be telling all your friends this weekend. What a man did to his wife just wasn‘t right, but it was kind of funny. You don‘t want to miss that story. I‘m serious about that.
Come right back.
UYGUR: How can you screw up as ambassador to Luxembourg? It doesn‘t seem possible, right? It‘s as tiny as Rhode Island, it has 0 percent poverty and 100 percent literacy. In a CIA listed transnational issues, and international disputes as none. In short, it‘s good work if you can get it. And you can get it if you are a major money bundler for the Obama campaign. That‘s how it works for both sides. Now, that‘s how Cynthia Stroum got the post of course. Once there though, she focused on finding a temporary ambassador‘s residence, refurbishing the bathroom in the old ambassador‘s residence and changed her bed from king size to queen size in the ambassador‘s residence, according to a report by the State Department inspector general. Now, to be fair, it doesn‘t seem like there was much of anything else to do. But apparently, she was also so verbally abusive towards her staff that they asked to be reassigned to war zones. One wanted to go to Baghdad and the other one wanted to go to Kabul just to get away from her. And you thought you had a bad boss. Stroum resigned saying she wants to go back home where apparently they have just the right queen sized beds. By the way, it was only two years ago that Washington Senator Mary Cantwell presented Stroum with a Woman of Valor award for her advocacy work and of course for excellence in bathroom refurbishing.
And now a disastrous/kind of funny story. A British immigration officer has been fired after putting his wife on the no-fly list in order to get away from her. According to Daily Mail, the officer waited until his wife took a trip to visit relatives in Pakistan, then he used his security clearance to put his wife name on a list of suspected terrorists not allowed to board planes to Britain. As a result, his wife was stuck in Pakistan for three years. They say love is in the air. And you can hear it. But in this case, it was literally not in the air.
All right. But here‘s some awesome karma today, end of the story. The scheme was revealed when the officer was up for a promotion and he was flagged because he was married to someone on the terrorist watch list. When they asked, what‘s that about? He admitted, yes, I kind of put her there. He was immediately fired, but a love sight, the source inside immigration office says that the officer had, quote, “the time of his life in the three years that his wife was gone.”
John McCain calls democracy a virus and says it‘s dangerous for the Middle East. We‘ll show you why the Republicans never wanted democracy in the region in the first place.
UYGUR: Super Bowl is finally here. Which I‘m very excited about. In two days from now, Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers will be squaring off in Arlington, Texas as Super Bowl XLV. And I couldn‘t be happier about it. Why? Because my Steelers are in the Super Bowl again. Not a big deal. And because this year, it‘s the lib bowl. The Packers and the Steelers are by far the biggest liberal teams in the league. Let me explain. Green Bay is the only community-owned nonprofit franchise in American professional sports. Their fans literally own shares of the team and make no money off of them. Kind of sounds socialist, right? Well, let‘s keep it real. It‘s actually communist. They‘re name after the meatpackers, giving credit to the workers and not the owners. The fans put the money into the team for the good of the community and get nothing in return other than working together.
Carl Marx would have loved the Packers. I always thought he was a cheese head anyway. The Steelers are of course named after the steelworkers and are well known for their history of being pro union. The team has always mirrored the values and desires of the working class families in their city, and the fans couldn‘t be more proud of that. When the players went on strike in the 1970s, the owner of the Steelers Art Rooney brought them beer on the picket line and told them to hang in there. Rooney later went on to pressure the rest of the league to institute the Rooney rule which says, the teams must give minority coaches and opportunity to get head coaching jobs. These are literally the most liberal institutions in the country. Oh, by the way, they‘re also two of the most winning franchises in sports history. Think about it.
All right. Now, joining me is sports writer Dave Zirin with Edge of Sports.com and Sports Center of the Nation Magazine, and contributor to KYT Sports on YouTube.
All right. Dave.
DAVE ZIRIN, EDGE OF SPORTS: Cenk, in the interest of full disclosure before we start, my two favorite teams are the Ravens and whosoever is playing the Steelers.
UYGUR: Sad day for you then, isn‘t it?
ZIRIN: Yes, it is. Touche.
UYGUR: All right. First, let‘s start with the Packers, right? Tell me where they were. I mean, why do people buy shares? What do they get? How does it work?
ZIRIN: Well, you know, people ask me sometimes, Cenk, who‘s my favorite owner in sports and I always say, it‘s the 112,000 owners of the Green Bay Packers. All you get for being an owner of the pack is a piece of paper that says hey, I‘m part owner of the Green Bay Packers. You don‘t even get a frame to put it in. Let alone, luxury box, seats or even nose bleed seats for that matter. All you get is the satisfaction of knowing that you‘re part of a community that keeps this old franchise in the city of Green Bay and it‘s been that way since 1923.
UYGUR: But the upside of that is they can‘t move the team, right?
Because of the 112,000 owners in Green Bay won‘t agree.
ZIRIN: Yes. I got a lot of good friends in Minnesota and they do not like the Green Bay Packers, but the Minnesota Vikings faithful these days are really wishing they were more like the Packers because their owner Diggy Wolf (ph) is saying, you better give me money for a new stadium or I‘m moving the team to Los Angeles. And he‘s frankly following a blueprint that‘s been in sports for the last say, 30 years and the Green Bay Packers don‘t have to live with that kind of nonsense.
UYGUR: All right. One more thing on the Packers. What happens if they, you know, run out of money? I mean, of course, they‘re not going to because they got the seats and they got the TV contract, Bu I mean like they need a new stadium. How do they raise money?
ZIRIN: Well, two things about that. First, you just hit on something. There‘s a reason why the NFL is the most popular league in the country. There are many reason, but one of them is that a team from Green Bay can compete with teams from New York. Because you mentioned socialism before. I mean, Art Modell, the former owner of the Ravens and the Browns said that NFL owners are like 31 capitalists who act like socialists. I mean, they pool their money and they split it up. That allows Green Bay to survive. But if they needed more money for the stadium, for refurbishments and they have in the past, they‘ve done referendums right there in Green Bay. Right there in the state of Wisconsin, or they‘ve just sold more shares of the stock.
UYGUR: Right. And people still get nothing for it, but they still buy it because that‘s pride and its community pride.
ZIRIN: It‘s pride. It‘s community pride. Absolutely. And one of the things, the stories I love is every so often, because it‘s Green Bay, Wisconsin, they get heavy snowfalls. The snow needs to be cleared. They put out calls over the radio for volunteers. And people show up by the hundreds with their shovels to help shovel Lambeau field. Let me tell you something, if Dan Snyder here in Washington put out a call for volunteers to shovel snow for him at FedEx field, people would laugh in his face.
UYGUR: All right. I mean, Green Bay sounds like a Kibbutz. It‘s amazing. All right. So, how about the Steelers now. You have the Rooney rule. Dan Rooney is the ambassador to Ireland for President Obama, right? I mean, are they the most liberal owners in the NFL outside of all the people who own Green Bay?
ZIRIN: Yes, but that‘s sort of like saying, I‘m the thinnest person in the DeLouise family or the least Trashi Kardashi (ph). And I mean, to be frank, I mean most of the NFL owners are roughly to the right to the right of a tilt of the hand. Remember, this is a group of people who Rush Limbaugh felt very comfortable joining there for eternity. Last year, when he made this ill faded bids on the St. Louis Rams, but they are a traditional Stalwart liberal family. I do want to say, though, about the Rooney rule. The Rooney family was of course very instrumental in pushing that through and the NFL has made some strides in terms of minority hiring. But that really only happened because the late Johnny Cochran and his law firm threatened a massive, massive class action suit against NFL owners because of just a history of prejudice.
UYGUR: Yes, I hear you on that. But, look, the Rooney is over—they hired a black coach. It totally worked, they won the Super Bowl. Not only that, they were the first to start recruiting from all black colleges. So, the Steelers have been doing it for a long, long time.
ZIRIN: And don‘t forget, Franco Harris, who is half Italian, half African-American. And the Italian community in Pittsburgh with the support of the Rooney‘s, they had Franco‘s Italian army, which was not a reference to the fascist leader of Spain at the time, but it‘s a reference to the fact that Italians took pride in someone who was half African-American and half Italian, which our country historically has not been very good about when it comes to people who are from mixed backgrounds.
UYGUR: Yes, absolutely. Even Frank Sinatra joined Franco‘s army.
All right. I‘m looking forward to the lib bowl. Should be a lot of fun.
Dave, thanks for joining us tonight.
ZIRIN: Absolutely. My privilege.
UYGUR: All right. How Glenn Beck spare mongering over Sharia Law takes a really ironic turn. How Beck himself might be guided by Sharia Law? We‘ll explain.
UYGUR: Representing Bernie Madoff‘s victims has brought a massive lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase. Irving Picard alleges the ambassador banks executives deliberately ignored red flags that their employees raise about Madoff‘s illegitimate companies and shady deals. Now, look, you might have a point because here‘s what one of the internal e-mails from the bank says, another bank executives just told me that, quote, “There is a well known cloud over the head of Madoff and his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme.”
And that seems pretty clear. The lawsuit alleges that the bank had withdrawn most of their own money out of Madoff‘s accounts while still directing $250 million in their clients‘ business towards Madoff. Bank executives who care more about their own bonuses rather than their clients‘ interest. Say it ain‘t so. Of course, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Diamond says the lawsuit is meritless. That‘s very, very surprising. By the way, ever wonder why no one really cares much about the money banks took from us, the American tax payer. After all, nobody went to jail for that, right? But they care deeply about the money that Madoff stole? That‘s because Madoff made a mistake of robbing rich people. We‘ll be back.
UYGUR: The republican response to the pro-democracy movements in Egypt and across the Middle East has been incredibly shortsighted. Senator John McCain finally begrudgingly called for President Mubarak to step down, but only after singing his praises as a friend to America. And then instead of backing the spread of democracy in the Middle East, he decided to criticize it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: This virus is spreading throughout the Middle East. The president of Yemen, as you know, just made the announcement that he wasn‘t running again. This, I would argue, is probably the most dangerous period of history in our entire involvement in the Middle East, at least in modern times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So now democracy is a virus and spreading it is dangerous. Then why were you so gung ho to invade Iraq in the first place? Here‘s why. Because they never cared about democracy. They liked Saddam Hussein when he was our dictator. You know who sold him arms when he was attacking Iran? Don Rumsfeld. Now, when he turned on us, all of a sudden, Iraq needed democracy. And look, McCain is a republican sad to see real democratic movement in the Middle East. Republican Congressman Thad McCotter has been a strong proponent of Mubarak in recent days. And today he doubled down, slamming the president in an article for human events, saying quote, “failing to back our ally the Mubarak government, the Obama administration has created chaos and a power vacuum, one that the Muslim brotherhood is undoubtedly plotting to fill.”
What Republicans are doing is focusing on our short-term national security interests. And I get it. Look, we‘ve had dictators who are our allies. We don‘t want the Muslim brotherhood in. I don‘t want them in. They‘re fundamentalist Islam. I got no interest in that, but at the same time, look we‘ve got to protect our brand. And our brand is our long-term ideals, the belief in democracy. That‘s why the best and the brightest come here. It‘s all about that brand. But now we‘re destroying it by saying oh, my God, there‘s a dictator, we‘ll hang to him! We can‘t do it that way.
All right. Now, we shouldn‘t be propping these guys up and let me bring in John Zogby to talk about this. I‘m sorry, James Zogby. And he‘s going to talk to us a little bit more about the American brand and how other people see this, well, he‘s from the Arab American Institute.
All right, James Zogby, thank you for joining us tonight. Look, my point is, I get it, we‘ve got these dictators, we need to deal with them. But we are doing damage to our long term brand here if we don‘t actually live by our ideals. Does the rest of the world see it that way, too?
JAMES ZOGBY, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: You know, number one James, John, we‘ve morphed into one brother and we love each other, so that‘s cool. But let me tell you, the brand is already tarnished. I said to a reporter the other day, I said, would America‘s standing improve if we told Mubarak to leave? And I said, the issue here is not that we‘re unpopular in Egypt because we support Mubarak. Mubarak isn‘t popular in Egypt because he supported America. The fact is that we have friends and allies in the region who have supported us, but they‘ve supported us in policies that are wildly unpopular in their own countries, policies like the war in Iraq, policies like letting Israel have its way in Gaza or disclosure of Gaza that has taken a tremendous toll and created human suffering there, or the war in Lebanon.
Or the fact that Egypt was a way station on the road to rendition or torture or prolong detention. The fact is that, if you look at the policies pursued, especially during the Bush administration while he‘s advocating democracy, he is pursuing policies that have so tarnished the brand of America, it‘s really over hard to come back from that. So, we‘ve done, sort of a double damage here. It‘s not just that we‘ve supported folks who aren‘t Democrats, is that we‘ve made democracy more difficult and we‘ve made the brand of America a tarnished brand by the way we‘ve behaved and the things we‘ve asked our friends to do in our name.
UYGUR: See, I think the disconnect for the American people is what we see here as opposed to what they say over there. Because here, we‘ve got people on TV going, we‘re the number one, we‘re number one, America is the best, democracy, freedom! Right. And as the world—we think, well, the rest of the world sees it that way. But unfortunately, the rest of the world from time to time sees us propping up a dictator who‘s been there for 29 years assuming a coup of the democracy in Iran back in 1953. Is that where the disconnect comes in?
ZOGBY: The disconnect is a whole range of policies across the Middle East that have taken a terrible toll. I think we ignored it. And we just don‘t know about it. We sort of absolve ourselves from it. I mean, we see the Middle East through the prism of Israel, we see the Middle East through the prism of our own needs. We don‘t see it through the prism of the needs of the people of that region. And therefore, are totally and responsive to them. And so, even these debates here, you know, I mean, look, the crowds in Tahrir Square, they‘re not sitting there saying, America, sprinkle holy water on what we do.
We are not only irrelevant to that revolution but we in fact, like I said, are the guys who damaged their leadership. The next president of Egypt whoever it might be is going to face a very same challenges of President Mubarak, not only how to feed his people, create jobs and create a more open society, but what does he do when Israel attacks Gaza? What does he do about the suffering of people in that country? What does he do about the next time America decides to attack some country like Iraq or sanctions against Iran that are policies not popular at home? He‘s going to have to choose, do I support America? Or do I support what my people want? We don‘t want someone who will support what his people want. And that‘s the dilemma that most of our friends—and we have friends, people who have been loyal to us and we have hurt in that region.
UYGUR: All right. James Zogby, thank you for your time tonight. We appreciate it.
ZOGBY: Thank you.
UYGUR: And look, for my part, you know, we‘ve got Fidel Castro right now saying that Mubarak has got to go and we‘re behind Castro. We can‘t have that. I still believe in America, but we‘ve got to live by our ideals. We‘ve got to be better than this.
All right. Now, when we come back, Glenn Beck is warning how the world is going to be taken over by Sharia Law, but has he already been taken over by it personally? Oh, oh, that‘s a great story. Coming right back.
UYGUR: With all of Glenn Beck‘s calls for a new revolution in America, they guy should love what‘s going on in Egypt, but apparently, here country back, only applies to America and the Tea Party. He‘s very afraid of what‘s happening in Egypt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Most dangerous scenario, is that radical Muslims seize power and power and put Sharia Law into place. Here‘s Egypt, the Muslim brotherhood wants this. And you have Syria here. Here‘s Jordan, here‘s Syria, Syria is already a puppet of the Iranians. Then you have Yemen. Saudi Arabia, God help them, I don‘t know what happens to those guys. This is the worst case scenario.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: The worst case scenario. Sharia Law takes over Saudi Arabia. It must be interesting to do a fact for you show. Saudi Arabia already has Sharia Law. In fact, it‘s one of the few countries in the world that actually is governed by Sharia law. Something it will be OK in the dangerous scenario Beck is talking about. Now, let‘s take a closer look at one of the nephews of the king of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
Like most of the Saudi royal family. This guy is loaded. And one of his investments is FOX News parent company, News Corp. In fact, Bin Talal is News Corp. second largest share holder. Oh, no! Sharia Law is in the building! Beck was right to be worried about the fire spreading. And so, it will spread to him and everyone else that works at FOX News. The guy who writes his checks is from the family that started Sharia Law. Ops, by the way, I have nothing against the prince and I don‘t believe News Corp. is actually run by Sharia Law but if you‘ll agree with Beck‘s concerns about it, then the one place he should be most concern about is FOX News. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” is next.
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